10 more levels for Starbeams

Z10Starbeams has been updated to version 2.2 giving the game a total of 220 levels.

About Starbeams

The object of the game is to assign colors to each star in order to ensure that none of the stars are connected to another star of the same color. The game starts off easy, but quickly gets more complex, adding more colors and seven pointed stars that can not be changed.

Starbeams can be downloaded for free for Windows Phone, Windows 8, Windows 10, and BlackBerry 10 devices. A one time in-app purchase is required in order to play past level 25.

Links & Information

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Writing to a file in a Windows 10 Cordova app

While writing to a file is easy in C# applications, for apps written in JavaScript things are a bit more complicated. Especially if you want to write to a file outside of the app’s sandbox. Fortunately this can be solved using Microsoft’s WinJS libraries.

var exportData = "String of data";
var savePicker = new Windows.Storage.Pickers.FileSavePicker();
savePicker.suggestedStartLocation = Windows.Storage.Pickers.PickerLocationId.documentsLibrary;
savePicker.fileTypeChoices.insert("CSV", [".csv"]);
savePicker.suggestedFileName = "Export.csv";

savePicker.pickSaveFileAsync().then(function (file) {
    if (file) {
        Windows.Storage.CachedFileManager.deferUpdates(file);
        Windows.Storage.FileIO.writeTextAsync(file, exportData).done(function () {
            Windows.Storage.CachedFileManager.completeUpdatesAsync(file).done(function (updateStatus) {
                if (updateStatus === Windows.Storage.Provider.FileUpdateStatus.complete) {
                    //file saved
                } else {
                   //file not saved, failed for some reason
                }
            });
        });
    } else {
        //file not saved, canceled by user
    }
});

This will allow Cordova apps to write out to a part of the operating system where users can easily access the files.

Dropping Google Analytics

Within the past half year, a lot of attention has been given to the excessive bloat that is present in many websites. This has been in concert with discussions over ad blocking, where extensions such as Ghostery block trackers from non-advertising sources as well.

In light of this conversation, why has this blog continued to run Google Analytics? The additional JavaScript adds 42 kilobytes and 0.7 seconds to the page load time. All to collect data that (to be perfectly honest) was never really looked at anyhow. With Google being the only one benefiting from this data collection, the scripts are now gone from this site.

Enjoy this blog knowing that it is now both quicker and more private.

BlackBerry 10 is still dead

Occasionally it is necessary to state the obvious. BlackBerry 10 has received no major OS upgrades in over a year, with none planned for the future. It has been eight months since the release of the last BlackBerry 10 phone, and 15 months since the release of the last flagship device with zero phones announced or rumored for the future. BlackBerry 10 also shut down all their developer programs and announced that “there are no plans to schedule releases of new SDKs and APIs.”

That such a platform is dead should go with out saying.

For those paying attention this has been crystal clear since last summer, with the final nail in the coffin coming with BlackBerry’s release of an Android phone.

Yet last week when BlackBerry announced that they only planned to launch Android phones in 2016 some people found this to be a surprise. The tech press (who should have been paying attention sooner) suddenly started releasing articles about how BlackBerry 10 was dead and abandoned, a good half year after BlackBerry 10 was dead and abandoned.

BlackBerry CEO John Chen then further confused things when he lied and wrote a blog post saying that the company was still committed to BlackBerry 10. Yet the post reiterated that they only planned to release Android phones and would only be supplying security updates to BlackBerry 10 devices.

So despite all the “news” nothing has changed. BlackBerry 10 is still dead.

Ebscer highlights of 2015

With 2016 just beginning, I thought it was worth looking at some of the highlights of 2015.

Overall 4 apps were added for BlackBerry, 3 apps for Windows Phone, and 4 apps for Android.

Merry Christmas!

christmas

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

BlackBerry 10 OS upgrades level off

In the past month, upgrades of BlackBerry 10 operating systems have leveled off. The overall stats for November were remarkably similar to they were in October. Use of OS 10.3.x has leveled off close to 90% with close to 70% of users running the newest OS of 10.3.2.

2015Nov-Pixelated-BB10OSVersions

2015Nov-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 November 2014 through the end of November 2015.

App for Buffalo’s Metro Rail updated

IMG_20141110_114110The app for the Buffalo Metro Rail has been updated to version 1.2 for both Android and BlackBerry 10. This new version involves a significant reduction in the app’s file size (93% reduction for BlackBerry, and 74% for Android). This results in an app that is also quicker to launch.

About the Buffalo Metro Rail app

This app shows the departure times for trains along Buffalo’s Metro route. The app automatically selects the proper schedule for the day, allows for sorting options, and also shows a map of the full light rail line. Additionally the app only needs to be synced once a month, and can otherwise be used without an active internet connection.

Links & Information

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Update released for Xploding Boxes

Nexus4Xploding Boxes has been updated to version 5.6 in BlackBerry World, Google Play, the Amazon app store, the Nook app store, the Windows 8 app store, and the Windows Phone app store. This update adds 10 new levels to the game, giving the game a total of 520 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.

Links & Information

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OS 10.3 on 90% of BlackBerry phones

One year after launch, OS 10.3 is on 90% of BlackBerry phones. The roll out of what has been confirmed as BlackBerry’s final OS took some time to get going, but over the past few months, have finally captured the vast majority of BlackBerry 10 users. Additionally the vast majority of users are on 10.3.2, which is currently the newest version of the operating system.

2015Oct-Pixelated-BB10OSVersions

2015Oct-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 October 2014 through the end of October 2015.

UI frameworks for Angular.js

I recently had the opportunity to review a number of angular.js compatible UI frameworks. All of these frameworks are fairly new, and therefore they all give some thought to how they appear on phones and tablets.

Angular Material

angularmaterialAngular Material has been created by Google to follow the guidelines for Android’s Material UI. In my opinion this is the best UI for angular. Given its ties to Android it works great on mobile, but it also is designed to scale up to also look good on larger screens. Additionally, the flex box based layout system for Angular Material is more complete and more reliable than what is offered by the other frameworks.

Ionic

ionicThe Ionic framework by Drifty is a mobile focused UI that I have used before. Ionic has good looking controls, and mostly follows the design found in iOS 7. Compared to the other frameworks, the touch targets for Ionic are larger and better optimized for phones. By design, Ionic is meant to be used for creating Cordova apps, but can also be used for websites if you copy two files from their github.

UI Bootstrap

Unlike the other frameworks, Bootstrap does not include any JavaScript and is implemented strictly through css. While this lightweight approach is great, UI Bootstrap is also the least optimized for mobile and is the least integrated with angular.

LumX

lumxCreated by LumApps, Lumx is another framework that follows Android’s Material design guidelines. Unfortunately, when compared to Angular Material, it is not quite as good. Also LumX has the far more third party dependencies than the other frameworks, making it more difficult for set up. On the plus side, it has the best selection of built in colors for theming your app.

Using multiple frameworks

Additionally there is the option to use a number of these frameworks together at the same time. This is not always an option as the css for Bootstrap and Ionic conflict with one another. But sometimes it can work. In particular the components of Ionic make a good compliment to the layout and navigation of Material.