More email woes!

As some of you know, on Saturday, I accidentally deleted an email regarding a review of my iPhone app, Caffeine Club, by emptying my spam folder.

I sent emails to all the review sites again, apologising for my mistake and asking that they get in touch with me again.

This morning, however, I noticed that I hadn’t received any emails since Saturday, which is very odd. Not that I’m that popular, but usually there are some general emails from Monster.com and other sites that I’ve subscribed to. Even my spam folder was empty. It was only this morning that I remembered a recent domain transfer has occurred.

I logged in to check my domain and discovered, to my horror, that none of the MX records had been transferred! This basically meant that Hover.com were receiving my emails, but there was no corresponding account to delivery them to! What a disaster. I’ve hopefully rectified the issue and should start receiving email before the day is out.

I’m not one-bit impressed by this development. I spend several hours submitting my app for review and it’s very possible that NONE of the sites have been able to email in the past 24 hours. Hover are supposed to take care of everything. How could they have missed domain records?

The moral of this story? I should have just stayed with GoDaddy and not listened to Leo Laporte telling me how great Hover.com is.

Introducing Caffeine Club video

Today, I worked through my first little “intro” video for Caffeine Club. I did it using Apple’s Keynote and iMovie applications. Took about four hours all in all. I got the inspiration from the GiveABrief introduction video (an app that never made it to the App Store!) and some music from the Penguin Cafe Orchestra that I heard on Master Chef last week rounded it off.

You can check it out on YouTube here – http://youtu.be/jG4KKkuABfM?hd=1

Tip-o-the-day: Don’t delete spam!

Yesterday, I submitted Caffeine Club to four app review websites yesterday morning.

This morning, I logged into GMail and automatically hit the “delete all messages” in my SPAM folder and as Gmail was “working” to complete my request, I noticed an email regarding my app. Of course, a split second later it was gone.

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GMail doesn’t allow the recovery of emails you “delete forever”, so I have no idea who sent the email, other than the name Jon. I’ve gotten in touch with the four sites again and hopefully they’ll forgive my rather large email fail and get in touch with me again. That will teach me.

My Netduino .Net microcontroller board has arrived

Having only ordered it on Thursday morning, I was surprised to find that my Netduino microcontroller board had arrived. This is a controller that uses the .Net Micro Framework. It’s somehow not as big as I imagined!

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I still have no idea what I’m going to do with it, but I have a block of holidays, thanks to Kate and William, coming up so I will have plenty of time to experiment!

UPDATE: I found a book on programming with this microcontroller, but unfortunately it’s not quite finished. http://oreilly.com/catalog/0636920013037. Luckily I can read it on Safari Books Online here http://techbus.safaribooksonline.com/book/web-development/9781449301972. If you have an account and are interested, you should check it out.

Starting game development for the Windows Phone 7 Platform

Since I’ve tackled getting up and running on the iOS platform in my previous post in this “Developing a game for the iOS and Windows Phone 7 Platforms at the same time” series, I’m now moving onto getting started with Windows Phone 7 game development. Like the previous post, the aim of this one is to have you up and running with a basic skeleton that we will build upon over the coming weeks.

Getting the tools

Unlike iOS development, the tools for WP7 are free. You still need to pay Microsoft money to have your app published on the app store, but to actually get started, you don’t need to spend anything.

  • Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone Microsoft have made a special version of their excellent Visual Studio IDE available to download for free. This version doesn’t come with all the tools and features of the commercial versions, but we don’t need anything like that. To make live a little easier, Microsoft has a full package called Windows Phone Developer Tools, which you can download. This contains almost everything you’ll need. It’s a small download that will download and installed the tools.
  • Farseer Physics Engine – The Farseer physics framework will provide us with a powerful physics engine needed to drive our game. Download Farseer Physics Engine 3.3 XNA, the current stable release. Install it once you’ve installed the Windows Phone Developer Tools

I’ve got it all installed

Once you have everything installed, launch Visual Studio and start a new project (File->New->Project). In the New Project dialog, select the Windows Phone Game (4.0) project under the XNA Game Studio 4 Template group. Name the project “Windows Phone 7 Game” and change the location if you wish. I typically keep all my code under a directory called “Development”. It makes things easy to find.

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You’ll end up with a new Solution and the very basic elements for a Windows Phone 7 Game.

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Hit F5 to build and run the project. If you see an error dialog popping up, check that the Error List. If it says “Zune software is not launched. Retry after making sure that Zune software is launched.” then ensure that “Windows Phone 7 Emulator” is selected and not “Windows Phone 7 Device”. This setting is in one of the toolbars along the top. This setting controls how the game is executed. We’re using the Simulator tool for now.  If you’ve had to change this, hit F5 again.

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The WP7 simulator will launch and you’ll be presented with a blue screen. Don’t worry, this is all it is supposed to do right now.

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Adding some physics

We will now include the Farseer framework into our project and stop there. Once you’ve downloaded the Farseer Physics Engine 3.3 XNA zip file, open it. It will contain a folder Farseer Physics Engine 3.3 XNA. Copy this folder from the zip file and paste it in the same location as your Visual Studio Solution file. In my case, this would be D:DevelopmentWindows Phone 7 Game. By copy the framework here, it lets us keep all our code together. Very important when we add this solution to source control.

Return to Visual Studio, which should still contain your Windows Phone 7 Game solution. If the Solution Explorer, a tree view showing all the projects and files in your solution, is not open within VS, open it using the menu View->Show Solution Explorer. Within the Solution Explorer, right click on the Solution at the very top and choose Add->Existing Project.

An Explorer windows will appear. Simple navigate to where you pasted the “Farseer Physics Engine 3.3 XNA folder”, open it and find a file called “Farseer Physics XNA WP7.csproj”. Select this file and choose Open. It should now load this project into your solution.

Visual Studio might prompt you with Security Warning.  Since we trust this Project, click Okay. In future, Visual Studio might display the same prompt when you open your solution, but just click okay.

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Now that the project has been added, your Solution Explorer should look like this:

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Hit F6 to build the solution, or use the menu Build->Build Solution. Everything should compile successfully.

Finally, we will include a reference to Farseer Physics project in our Windows Phone 7 Game. This basically lets one project use the classes and information in another. Right click on the Windows Phone 7 Game project and click Add Reference. Use the Projects Tab in the window that appears.

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Choose the Farseer Physics XNA WP7 project and hit okay.

Hit F6 to build one final time and, if you wish, you can run the project again. The Simulator should still open with the same blue background since we haven’t really changed anything. However, we have now got a skeleton Windows Phone 7 project with a physics engine that we can build upon!

The next article or two will cover the construction of a physics world within the game. Stay tuned. Same bat time, same bat channel!

My home network needs an upgrade!

After a long wait, I finally got a decent broadband connection and I’m thrilled. Unfortunately, this isn’t the end of the story!

Plusnet are now providing me with a 40MB FTTC based broadband connection and I get a reported connection speed of 38MB when I use www.speedtest.net. An awesome speed really. But there is one issue. I only get this speed when I’m connected to the router via an ethernet cable. As soon as I connect my Macbook Pro to the router’s WiFi, I get a reported 20MB connection, just over half the speed I’m expecting.

And it gets worse. In my apartment, my PC is in a spare bedroom, about as far from the router as possible. WiFi can’t stretch that far, so I’ve been using a Netgear Powerline setup (with a 200MB max connection speed). When I run the speedtest from my PC, I get a miserable 4MB reported connection speed ;( The tools to run tests on my Powerline configuration won’t install on my PC, so I’m unable to see what sort of connection speed I’m getting across the electicity based connection.

Since this lousy speed needs to be addressed, I’ve put my Apple Airport Express in the main room, which offers a 802.11N connection and my laptop is now reporting a satisfying 30-32 MB connection. I’ve also ordered a Devolo Powerline kit and I hope that four years of advancements (I bought my Netgear kit in 2007) will ensure a better connection between the two rooms. If it doesn’t, I’ll have to think about using WiFi extenders or running a very long ethernet cable between the two rooms.

The kit is due to arrive from Amazon tomorrow, so I’ll update this post with the results!

Update

After installing my brand new Devolo dLAN 200 wireless Homeplug kit and I’m pleased to report I’m seeing much improved speeds across the electricity network in my apartment.

The wireless network in the second bedroom is now reporting a 30MB connection, whilst the PC is getting just over 34! This is about what I’d was hoping for so I’m very pleased. In the four years since I purchased the Netgear kit, there have been some impressive performance gains!

The Devolo kit does come with a build-in 802.11N router, so I’ll give that a try in the living room and see what happens. I might even try “extending” the WiFi network.

Another Update

Seems that the WiFi network created by the Devolo plug cannot be extended. At least that is what my Apple Airport Express is saying. I’m not going to spend any time investigating this so I guess I’ll have to solve that another day.