Catfood Earth for Android 1.20

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Catfood Earth for Android 1.20

I recently upgraded to the HTC One which has a transparent notification bar. This makes it hard to see notification icons when using Catfood Earth as your wallpaper, at least in the summer when it's always light at high latitudes and your white icons are displayed on top of polar ice and clouds.

Catfood Earth for Android 1.20 fixes this with an option to paint black under the notification bar. That's the only update other than the latest Xamarin runtime.

Summer Solstice 2013

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Summer Solstice 2013

Summer Solstice 2013 in Catfood Earth.

Comma Wars

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Comma Wars

My new debate site, Like Debate, is finally up and running and I'm losing the first debate badly. I need your help: The Oxford comma is an acceptable form of punctuation. Actually vote your conscience. I don't care if I win this one, but give it a spin and let me know if it works for you.

If you have a better argument for or against that wretched comma have at it.

The curious case of the missing slugs (in BlogEngine.net 2.8)

Updated on Thursday, December 26, 2019

2013-06-16 Update: There is now a patch for the issue discussed below.

I just upgraded to BlogEngine.net 2.8 as it contains a fix for broken links from Facebook. There were a couple of hitches that I'll share in case they help anyone else.

I messed up the first upgrade attempt because the updater utility updates the source folder (containing the newly downloaded 2.8 code) instead of the destination folder (containing the current version of your blog). This is a little odd and the result is I uploaded an unchanged instance and then embarrassingly complained the the Facebook bug hadn't been fixed. It had, just not in the folder I was expecting. I probably didn't pay enough attention to the instruction video.

Having got that out of the way I discovered that new posts were appearing with a bad link (to /.aspx instead of /blog-title.aspx). I rarely post using the editor as I have a home-grown post by email service running. After a bit of digging it turns out that prior to 2.8 you could leave the slug empty when creating a post but now this results in the bad link. Luckily there isn't much effort require to fix this, you just need to set the slug before saving the new post:

In the middle of playing with this my live site died and started returning a 500 error. No amount of uploading the working local copy would fix this. Happily Server Intellect have outstanding support and restored a working backup for me in the middle of the night. Thanks chaps!

Catfood: Earth for Android 1.10

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017

Catfood Earth for Android 1.10

I’ve just released Catfood Earth for Android 1.10. You can control the center of the screen manually (the most requested new feature) and also tweak the transparency of each layer and the width of the terminator between day and night. It also starts a lot faster and has fewer update glitches. Grab it from Google Play if this looks like your sort of live wallpaper.

.NET 2.0 and Windows 8

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Inexplicably .NET 2.0, 3.0 and 3.5 are not installed by default in Windows 8 and can’t be installed using the redistributables that worked with previous versions of Windows. You have to go digging in Windows Features to get anything older than 4.0.

Like Debate?

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017

likedebate_300

I’ve just started work on a new project called Like Debate. It’s going to be a new type of debate web site, launching as soon as I can hammer out the first few features. Follow along on Facebook, Twitter or the Like Debate Blog.

Catfood: Earth for Android

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017

EarthForAndroid

I’ve just released Catfood Earth for Android. It’s my second app created with Xamarin’s excellent toolkit. Being able to develop in C# allowed me to reuse a lot of code from the Windows version of Catfood Earth. The Android version doesn’t include all the same layers (yet) but it’s got the main ones – daytime (twelve different satellite images included, based on NASA’s Blue Marble Next Generation but with some special processing to make them look better), nighttime (city lights, shaded to show nighttime and the terminator between day and night) and a clouds layer that is downloaded every three hours.

My main worry had been that this would suck the phone battery dry, but after a fair amount of optimization it doesn’t even register on the battery consumption list. Grab it now from Google Play ($3.99, Android 2.2 or better).

Fight Facebook with Email

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

I was a little saddened to read today that Diaspora is transitioning over to some form of community manged slow death. I joined a pod a while back and was pretty impressed with the design. It was very similar to Google+: clean, nice features, nobody home. 

I've also joined app.net. The concept here is a social network that you pay for, so the owners are aligned with the interests of the users and developers rather than advertisers and lame brands. I wish app.net well, but it's not the future. Best case (and it's not a bad one) it could be the new WELL - a community that people care enough about to pay for (I was on the WELL in the early 90's, splitting the tab with a friend so our handle was abft, account built for two). If that is the direction it goes in then simply having a slightly longer post limit than Twitter isn't really going to cut it. And cool as it might be most people aren't going to pay for a social network. 

Any attempt to displace Facebook has to solve the problem that anyone interested in sharing anything with anyone else is already using Facebook. The only platform that is in any sense comparable is email. So someone needs to make email into a social network.

This could be an interesting startup. Create some account - [email protected] - anything you send directly to that address is a post. Anyone you copy is a mention. Reply to a thread with this email address included and you're replying on the social network as well. Anyone copied on such an email gets invited to the network if they're not already.

You've got a killer viral component and an instant social network that is supported on every platform with no investment needed. Everyone has email, and everyone is a member as soon as they claim their email address or get included in a post. 

Maybe someone has tried this already and I just haven't seen it. I'm half tempted to have a crack at it myself. 

What would be more interesting would be layering a social protocol over email, and implementing that protocol by proxy on top of email providers that don't or won't support it. This creates a core social service practically out of thin air. Facebook and Twitter are the new AOL and CompuServe. There has to be a way to leverage email into a free and open alternative.

Twenty-Four Hours with Twilio

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Twenty-Four Hours with Twilio

I've wanted to play with Twilio's voice and SMS service for a while and finally got the chance at an all night hackathon.

Twilio is almost perfect. Very easy to use, well documented and generous with a self service free trial. They give you enough rope to fully build out a client before you need to think about paying them.

I gave up on AT&T's platform after navigating a bazillion forms before discovering they wanted $99 before I could even get a taste.

The one hitch with Twilio is that the voice transcription they offer is appalling. Just absolute gibberish. Unless it's just my accent, or the hackathon whisky. Seems to be a common complaint though and so to take my IVR app further I'd need to bolt in another solution. A pity given how much Twilio gets right.