Another 10 levels for Runaway Trains

The Runaway Trains game has been updated to version 2.8 in BlackBerry World and the Google Play Store. This update adds ten new levels, and ensures that the BlackBerry version of the game is now compatible OS 10.3.1 which is expected to be released within the next month.


About Runaway Trains

Runaway Trains is a colorful strategy game for all ages where you must route the trains to the proper station. Each level progresses in difficulty and presents an unique puzzle which you must solve by finding a way to guide the coloured trains causing a collision or running out of track.

This is done by touching the intersections to toggle the open path of the tracks. If at any time the trains crash or end up at the wrong station, you will have lost and have to try again.

Links & Information


Android app on Google Play

Xploding Boxes all new in version 5

Z10Version 5.0 of Xploding Boxes adds new levels and new features and can be downloaded for BlackBerry, Android, Nook, and Windows 8. This is the first major revision of this app in over two years, and includes a ground-up rewrite of the BlackBerry 10 version of the app, newly added support for the Amazon Fire TV, and ten brand new levels.

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.

New for BlackBerry 10

The app has received a complete rewrite for BlackBerry 10 phones, and is now a fully native app written in BlackBerry Cascades. Meanwhile the gameplay screen has been redone in OpenGL to maintain a resolution independent experience that looks great on high-resolution phones such as the BlackBerry Passport. In addition to the Passport, this new version of the game also supports the newly available P’9983 and the soon to be launched BlackBerry Classic.

Xploding Boxes version 5 also automatically syncs all of your game progress to your BlackBerryID so that going forward you can switch to a new BlackBerry or reinstall the app without having to worry about backups.

New for Windows 8.1

In addition to the new levels, users of the app on Windows 8.1 will find the game to be reoptimized for their OS, with greatly improved support for split screen views.

Xploding Boxes on Amazon Fire TV

In addition to the phones and tablets, Xploding Boxes is also now available on the Amazon Fire TV where it can be played with the remote.

Links & Information

BBOS distribution still flat

Unlike the quick adoption seen on BlackBerry 10, classic BBOS distribution remained unchanged for another month. Just over half (53.8%) of users were running OS 7 on their phones.


This data was collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of the free BlackBerry strategy game Pixelated. Data shown on the chart is from the beginning of September 2013 through the end of September 2014, and does not include BlackBerry 10 or PlayBook devices.

Writing about Watches…

A bit over a year ago, I wrote that the smart watch wouldn’t take off. At the heart of the argument was the idea that the smartphone has come to dominate by being the one device that does everything, and that a watch would be fighting against this trend.

With the recent announcement of Apple’s entry to the watch market, it seemed like a good time to revisit these assumptions. They have not changed much. Over on Medium, I found a cheaper and more practical alternative for every feature of the Apple Watch. A full year later, I still can’t bring myself to be interested.

Over 94% of users running 10.2.1 or higher in September

September saw a decent increase in the use of the newest versions of BlackBerry 10. 94.5% of Stuff I Need users, and 94.4% of Pixelated users were running OS 10.2.1 or higher.

With the release of the BlackBerry Passport at the end of the month, OS 10.3.0 was officially released. This was too late in the month to make too much of a difference, although the majority of 10.3 users are actually not even Passport users, but are running leaked versions of the OS on older phones. With in-market devices not getting upgraded until the release of OS 10.3.1 this November, the uptake of 10.3 is likely to be minimal in October as well.



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 September 2013 through the end of September 2014.

With Halloween around the corner, the Jack-o-Lantern app gets an update

IMG_00012057The Jack-O-Lantern app has been updated to version 2.1 with a few new faces, higher resolution images, and support for the BlackBerry Passport. This update also includes a 47% reduction in the app’s file size.

About the Jack-O-Lantern App

This application is designed to turn your phone into a virtual Jack-O-Lantern in order to help you celebrate Halloween. You can change the Jack-O-Lantern’s face by swiping in different designs from the left and right for the eyes, nose, and mouth. You can also change the back light colour of the design by tapping on the screen.

Links & Information

Pixelated updated to version 3.6

ShapeItAppPixelated has been updated to version 3.6 for BlackBerry 10, Windows Phone, and Windows 8. This update makes the game more efficient and adds a few new features.

New in 3.6

The BlackBerry 10 version of the app adds the Super-Micro grid size to the app. This option already exists on the tablet versions of the app, but by rendering the screen in OpenGL it is now possible to have this mode on the phones as well. This new feature also adds an additional four achievements to the game. This update also adds support for the BlackBerry Passport (to be announced on Wednesday), and reduces the overall app size by twenty-three percent.

For the Windows 8 version of the app improvements have been made to the multilingual support. Also for users that have upgraded to Windows 8.1 then the app has been optimized for the new OS, and now supports variable sized split screens.

How to Play Pixelated

Pixelated is an addictive puzzle based strategy game that requires a mixture of skill and luck in order to accomplish. The object of the game is to change the colour of the squares until the entire screen is a single solid colour. Starting with the square in the upper left corner you can change the colour of the blocks in order to match that of the surrounding squares. This is done repeatedly until the entire screen is a single colour. The object of the game is to clear the screen in as few moves as possible. Under the default settings you must do so in under 22 moves in order to win. The game is controlled by the large colored blocks at the bottom of the screen.

Links & Information


Creating a Rounded Rectangle in OpenGL

OpenGL is an extremely low level language, and is more or less only capable of drawing triangles. This means that many of the basic shapes that developers are used to having available in a drawing API are not present and must be created from scratch. The below code demonstrates how to draw a rounded rectangle in OpenGL.

static const GLfloat roundRect[] = {

static const GLfloat vbox[] =
    0.0f, 0.0f,
    1.0f, 0.0f,
    0.0f, 1.0f,
    1.0f, 1.0f,

void render()
    glVertexPointer(2, GL_FLOAT, 0, vbox);
    glScalef(.75, .75, 1.0f);
    glVertexPointer(2, GL_FLOAT, 0, roundRect);
    glDrawArrays(GL_TRIANGLE_FAN, 0, 40);

Careful observation of the code (especially the line glDrawArrays(GL_TRIANGLE_FAN, 0, 40);) will point out that that technically OpenGL is once again just drawing a collection of 40 triangles in order to create the rounded rectangle shape.

Hockey Scores updated for 2014-2015 season

Z10The Hockey Scores app has been updated to version 3.2 for the new NHL season. This app supports all BlackBerry phones running OS 5.0 or higher, including all BlackBerry 10 phones.

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, team Corsi numbers, and lists out the goal scorers.

New in version 3.2

This update adds some features to the BlackBerry 10 app that adds support for the BlackBerry Passport, adds a swipe down menu, and optimizes the screen layout for some devices.

Links & Information

Looking at who is currently using the Porsche Design phones

With last Wednesday’s announcement of the Porsche Design P’9983 BlackBerry it may be a good idea to take a look at who is currently using the previous iterations of these high priced phones. Based on data collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of the popular game Pixelated, it was possible to identify the countries that the P’9981 and P’9982 are currently being used in.


As with most things BlackBerry, the greatest support comes from Canada, with the majority of users in North America. The following countries mostly confirm the stereotype of Porsche targeting oil rich nations such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In fact anytime that Bahrain accounts for over two percent of the market, you can safely assume that oil money is a contributing factor.

App sales plummeting for the Nook

A little over two years ago when I first began selling Android apps, the Barnes and Noble Nook was a powerful player. While this store did not get the same attention as Google Play and Amazon’s App Store, for many months I had more sales through the Nook Bookstore then the other two combined. This came as a bit of a surprise, but has certainly not lasted.

Once accounting for over 70% of Android app sales for me, the number has been on a long term downward trajectory and has been below 10% for most of 2014. The below chart shows the percentage of Android sales of Ebscer apps through the Nook Bookstore.


A few factors have contributed to this. First, the Nook (while often updated) has not kept pace with the other tablets on the market. More importantly Barnes and Noble has mostly given up on their platform, choosing the bundle Google Play on some of their newer devices, and have recently just launched the confusingly named “Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook” as they try to get out of the electronics business altogether.

However, if you are still interested in buying some apps for your Nook visit

BBOS distribution unchanged in August

While the market share of OS 7 is up 13.1 percentage points from August 2013, there has been little to no change in the mix of BBOS devices used last month.


This data was collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of the free BlackBerry strategy game Pixelated. Data shown on the chart is from the beginning of August 2013 through the end of August 2014, and does not include BlackBerry 10 or PlayBook devices.

Processing .html files as PHP

In the interest of having cleaner URLs (or simply to maintain existing links) it is often desirable for webpages to end in a .html extension even if they need to be processed as PHP. On Apache servers this is very straight forwards and you just add the following lines of code to your .htaccess file

AddType x-mapp-php5 .php .htm .html

On Windows servers this is slightly more complicated (as are most things). You need the following code in your web.config file and the value for the scriptProcessor is based on the install location of your php-cgi.exe file. Finding the location of this file can often be teased out by looking at the results from the phpinfo(); command.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
            <add name="PHP_via_FastCG1" path="*.htm" verb="*" modules="FastCgiModule" scriptProcessor="C:\PHP5.5\php-cgi.exe" resourceType="Either" />
            <add name="PHP_via_FastCG2" path="*.html" verb="*" modules="FastCgiModule" scriptProcessor="C:\PHP5.5\php-cgi.exe" resourceType="Either" />

BlackBerry 10 device useage

As BlackBerry prepares to launch the Passport, the majority of users are still using the original BlackBerry 10 device, the Z10. The data below represents the 19,238 users who downloaded the Stuff I Need app in the month of August.


All of these statistics are based off of the data collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of the free check-list app Stuff I Need (which is also available for Windows Phone and Android users).