BlackBerry 10 distribution has been unchanged since the start of 2016

For the fifth straight month, the distribution of the BlackBerry 10 operating system has been essentially unchanged. The use of OS 10.3.2 has seemed to have maxed out in the low 80 percent of users.

2016May-Pixelated-BB10OSVersions

2016May-StuffINeed-BB10OSVersions

This data was collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of the free strategy game Pixelated and the free checklist app Stuff I Need. Data shown on the chart is from the beginning of May 2015 through the end of May 2016.

Head Words game updated

ShapeItAppThe BlackBerry 10 game Head Words has been updated to version 1.3 in BlackBerry App World. This update includes the new Comic Books category, and also includes some supplemental items to the existing categories.

About Head Words

Head Words is a native multi-player guessing game similar to Celebrity, Hedbanz, and Heads Up. After selecting a category, one player places the phone on their forehead while the other players give clues. With one minute to guess as many words as possible, the player can tilt the phone down for each correct answer, or tilt the phone up to pass. At the end of round a word list will show what was guessed right and wrong. The swipe down menu provides an option to turn the sound on or off.

The game includes five categories for free, and the option to purchase access to ten additional categories for a dollar each.

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Smartphones have gotten boring

Last week Google hosted their I/O conference for developers. For those of us who develop Android apps for phones and tablets there was very little announced. Android was mentioned often, but more for use in watches and virtual reality than for phones. And when phones were mentioned it was as a platform for Google’s own messaging apps. The biggest new item for developers is the Vulkan API, which as a low level graphics processor is not something most developers are going to use directly anyhow.

It is not just Android, but rather that the smartphone market has matured. It has become boring. Despite being an enthusiast, there is a reason that I am ok with using a two and a half year old phone running a dead operating system. Things are not changing as quick as they once were.

Furthermore new platforms such as wearables, virtual reality, and the internet of things lack the standardized platforms (and stores) that once made phones so exciting.

Preventing Windows 10 updates from rebooting your computer

By default Windows will download and install updates on your computer without any required interaction. This is great, but the problem is that it will also reboot on its own, closing anything you may have been in the middle of working on. No idea why Microsoft approved of this terrible user experience, but fortunately there is a (very hidden) way of preventing it from happening.

First from the start menu, search and open “gpedit.msc”. Then in the application go to Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Windows Components -> Windows Update. Then select the option “No auto-restart with logged on users for scheduled automatic updates installations”, then click “Enable”, and then “Apply”.

This will ensure that your Windows 10 machine will only restart when you want it to.

BB10 distribution still flat

Use of BlackBerry 10.3.X and 10.3.2 remain the same as they have for the last few months. Despite OS 10.3 being out for a long while now, there are still a decent number of users still running OS 10.2.1 on their devices.

2016Apr-Pixelated-BB10OSVersions

2016Apr-StuffINeed-BB10OSVersions

This data was collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of the free strategy game Pixelated and the free checklist app Stuff I Need. Data shown on the chart is from the beginning of April 2015 through the end of April 2016.

Inexplicably BlackBerry’s advertising has gotten worse

BlackBerry is a company that has never understood advertising. This was a company that though support for Adobe Flash was a feature worth advertising despite most consumers not understanding, and experts not caring. A company whose sole Super Bowl ad went out of its way to explicitly show zero of the phones features, and who once paid for an eleven minute ad about two girls in an ice cream truck fighting monsters.

It would be easy to think that the floor could not get any lower. Yet it has. The content coming out of the BlackBerry blog these days is pure nonsense.

In reaction to the Panama Papers scandal BlackBerry had some recommendations on how to prevent finding yourself in a similar situation. However, while most people would take an opportunity to advice against hiding your money in an offshore account, BlackBerry had a different reaction and instead decided that the real problem was Mossack Fonseca’s lack of internal security.

Their recent blog titled “How to Ease Employees’ ‘Big Brother’ Fears About Location Tracking” is not so much advising that you protect the privacy of your employees, but rather how to convince them to not worry about the invasion of their privacy.

However the worst bit is BlackBerry’s recent obsession on preparing for a work place shooting. Stories about workplace violence have been posted three times in the past three months, painting ridiculously unlikely scenarios. Somehow BlackBerry expects that this fear mongering is going to help them sell enterprise software.

Every line in the articles jumps between “active shooter incidents are now, unfortunately, a stark reality that must be given serious consideration” and “the likelihood of being involved in a workplace shooting is infinitesimally small“, but with the need to justify themselves they end up recommending “multiple training sessions and no-notice exercises“. And have also included such bizarrely unuseful information such as “Police officers responding to an active shooter situation are trained to proceed immediately to the area where shots were last heard. Their purpose is to stop the shooting as quickly as possible. The first responding officers will normally be in pairs. They may be dressed in regular patrol uniforms, or they may be wearing bulletproof vests, Kevlar helmets and other tactical gear. The officers may be armed with handguns, rifles or shotguns to address the situation.” The fact that during a shooting, police officers would arrive dressed as police officers should have been able to go without saying.

Worse though is the most recent post points out that the real danger of workplace shootings is that it leaves companies open to liability and OSHA compliance issues. I get that BlackBerry has now become a boring enterprise company, but that doesn’t mean that they need to be manipulative as well.

Synchronous AlertDialogs in Android

In general Android does not want developers creating alert dialogs that block the flow of code, but for those situations where it is needed, there is a way to force a dialog to wait. The approach essentially uses a handler to create a slightly more elegant version of a busy loop.

private boolean resultValue;
public boolean getDialogValueBack(Context context)
{
    final Handler handler = new Handler()
    {
        @Override
        public void handleMessage(Message mesg)
        {
            throw new RuntimeException();
        } 
    };

    AlertDialog.Builder alert = new AlertDialog.Builder(context);
    alert.setTitle("Title");
    alert.setMessage("Message");
    alert.setPositiveButton("Return True", new DialogInterface.OnClickListener()
    {
        public void onClick(DialogInterface dialog, int id)
        {
            resultValue = true;
            handler.sendMessage(handler.obtainMessage());
        }
    });
    alert.setNegativeButton("Return False", new DialogInterface.OnClickListener()
    {
        public void onClick(DialogInterface dialog, int id)
        {
            resultValue = false;
            handler.sendMessage(handler.obtainMessage());
        }
    });
    alert.show();

    try{ Looper.loop(); }
    catch(RuntimeException e){}

    return resultValue;
}

Percentage of BlackBerry 10 users running OS 10.3 levels off in the low nineties

Use of BlackBerry 10.3 remains level at 91% of Pixelated users, and 93% for Stuff I Need users. These numbers have been level for a while with most users running the newest variant of OS 10.3.2.
2016Mar-Pixelated-BB10OSVersions
2016Mar-StuffINeed-BB10OSVersions
This data was collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of the free strategy game Pixelated and the free checklist app Stuff I Need. Data shown on the chart is from the beginning of March 2015 through the end of March 2016.

Another 10 levels for Xploding Boxes

IMG_20150206_175129_cropXploding Boxes has been updated to version 5.7 with 10 new levels. The new version of the app has been updated in Google Play, the Amazon App Store, BlackBerry AppWorld, Windows 10/Windows Phone App Store.

About Xploding Boxes

Xploding Boxes is a strategy game where the goal is to start a chain reaction that will explode all of the boxes on the screen. Each level presents a different look and number of touches, requiring a different strategy to solve.

The game itself, and the first 25 levels are available for free, while a one time in-app purchase can be used to access the rest of the levels for just $2.99 while still maintaining your progress from the free levels.

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40 hours per week

The rate at which Ebscer apps have been released has slowed way down over the past year, and that is mostly because I have been spending 40 hours a week writing other software. As a result it has become increasingly difficult to get new apps and updates released in a reasonable time frame. Hopefully I can get better at this.

When I first started publishing apps I was a full time student, and by the time sales started to take off I was working a full time job so this is not entirely new. However with finite time each week, dedicating forty hours elsewhere makes things hard.

Updates will continue. New apps will be released. New platforms will be supported. It just might be a bit slower than I would like…

BlackBerry 10 distribution still flat

The distribution of BlackBerry 10 OS usage remained flat over the past month. In fact it has been flat for a while with 10.3.0 stuck at 91% and 10.3.2 leveling off a bit below that.
2016Feb-Pixelated-BB10OSVersions
2016Feb-StuffINeed-BB10OSVersions
This data was collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of the free strategy game Pixelated and the free checklist app Stuff I Need. Data shown on the chart is from the beginning of February 2015 through the end of February 2016.

Nook App Store shutting down

NookFrameThe Nook app store is shutting down in a little over a week. I have four games available on the Nook, and this will be your last chance to purchase them for this platform.

Any apps previously purchased will remain available to be redownloaded, but will not receive any more updates.

For a while, app sales on the Nook were really good, and even outpaced sales through Google Play. However, those days are now long gone and sales on the Nook have been close to zero for most of the past year. The store shutting down is not much of a surprise.

BlackBerry 10 OS statistics

Use of OS 10.3.x was level for both users of Pixelated and Stuff I Need, near 91%. The biggest difference in January was that the use of OS 10.3.2 is up to 76.5% of Pixelated users, and 85.6% of Stuff I Need users.

2016Jan-Pixelated-BB10OSVersions

2016Jan-StuffINeed-BB10OSVersions

This data was collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of the free strategy game Pixelated and the free checklist app Stuff I Need. Data shown on the chart is from the beginning of January 2015 through the end of January 2016.

Hockey Scores app updated

IMG_00000100The Hockey Scores app has been updated so that it will continue to work. After an unexpected change to the API the app had stopped working, but this update restores the scores.

About Hockey Scores

This application provides the day’s hockey scores is an intuitive and easy to use format. It also includes additional game statistics such as start times, goal scorers, shots on net, hits, faceoff percentage, and lists out the goal scorers.

OS Support

The app supports BlackBerry 10 phones running OS 10.1 or higher, and BBOS phones running OS 6.0 and higher. Support for BlackBerry 5 has been ended.

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