2013 in review

I wrote a yearly review of 2011 and 2012, so I figured I would have a go at 2013 as well…

In total I wrote six all new apps (Stuff I Need, Pixelated Shapes, Rotary Phone, Starbeams, Projectile Physics, and Animal Sounds) and added support for additional platforms for a total of 19 new code bases in the year.

Here is to a great 2014…

Improving app efficiency

It can be rather impressive to see how much the efficiency of your code can improve as you get to know a platform better. When it comes to writing BlackBerry 10 apps in Cascades my code has gotten dramatically better. This is not the result of any special magic, but instead a by product of putting in the required hours for a given platform. For example my Mileage Tracker app has recently been updated to version 1.5 and despite continuing to add new features in each new version, the size of the .bar file is as small as it has ever been. To look at the overall sizes of the .bar file for the Mileage Tracker app see the below chart.


Version 1.5 of Mileage Tracker

IMG_00000235The Mileage Tracker app for BlackBerry 10 has been updated to version 1.5 in BlackBerry World. This new version adds in-line validation of fields (pictured to the right) so that users are warned ahead of time if they have entered invalid data. Additionally other parts of the app have been optimized to make the app quicker, and to reduce the app’s file size.

About Mileage Tracker

Mileage tracker is a free app designed to help you track the miles you drive on each trip, so that you can use this information for tax deductions, accounting, or employee reimbursements. Instead of keeping this information charted on your computer, it makes much more sense to be able to track this directly on your phone, which you normally would have with you in the car already.

Trips can be grouped into categories, and edited (or deleted) at a later date. Following a one time in-app payment, you can also export your data into an Excel compatible .csv format and a pretty (and sortable) .html format.

Links & Information

The new news.ebscer.com

Today I am relaunching news.ebscer.com with a brand new look. Since I moved off of blogspot over three years ago this site has gone mostly unchanged, so it was time for a refresh.


Inspired by the visual refresh that WordPress recently rolled out, I decided that perhaps my site as well required a more modern theme. The most obvious candidate was WordPress’s new Twenty Fourteen theme. While it isn’t quite as polished as WordPress’s admin site, it gave me a good starting point and after a couple of changes the new look is now ready to go. I am sure that I will continue to tweak the styling here and there over the coming months, but I am happy with this new look.

10 new levels for Xploding Boxes

Nexus4It has been a few months since the last update, but Xploding Boxes has been updated to version 4.7 in order to bring the total number of levels up to 410.

About Xploding Boxes

Xploding Boxes is a strategy game for BlackBerry, Android, Nook, Windows 8, and BlackBerry 10 where the goal of the game is to start a chain reaction that will explode all of the boxes on the screen. Each level gives you a different number of touches, and requires 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 maintaining your progress from the free levels.

Links & Information

Majority of BlackBerry 10 users on newest OS

November saw a majority of BlackBerry 10 users move to OS 10.2, the newest version of the operating system. However, due to a slow roll out by some carriers (such as Verizon) there still remains a sizable number of users on the older 10.1 version.



59.3% of users who downloaded Pixelated in November were running the newest OS, while this was true for 67.9% of users who downloaded the Stuff I Need app. Meanwhile there are still about five percent of BlackBerry 10 users on the original 10.0 release that the Z10 first launched with.

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 2013 through the end of November 2013.

Pixelated Shapes now available for Windows 8

Pixelated Shapes has now been released for Windows 8 tablets. Pixelated Shapes is an addictive game of strategy and colour that takes the traditional Pixelated concept into new shapes such as Triangles and Hexagons. This version of the game includes all of the same features of the BlackBerry and Android versions of the app.


About Pixelated Shapes

Pixelated Shapes is a twist on the classic version of Pixelated that replaces the familiar squares with triangles and hexagons. The object of the game is to get the screen a single color by slowly growing a blob out of the upper left hand corner by matching it to the colors of the surrounding shapes. This is done repeatedly until either the game is won, or you run out of moves. Under the default settings you must clear the screen in 29 moves or less in order to win. A one time in-app upgrade can allow you to adjust the difficult, switch color schemes, change to different game modes, and get an indicator giving you the number of remaining moves.

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Why the humble HDMI cable is the best BlackBerry accessory


Crackberry is currently taking nominations for the best apps and accessories of the year, with the process predictably being focused on the cases and chargers that they sell so many of in their store. However, I would like to argue that the best accessory you can buy for your phone is none other than the humble HDMI cable.

Being able to connect your phone to a large screen completely changes the way that you are able to share your phone with your friends and family. Sharing photos on a television (often already set up for good group viewing angles) is far better than having everyone huddle around a four inch screen. An HDMI cable and a simple painting app has become my preferred set up for playing pictionary. Apps such as the CBS video player, apps like Scorekeeper, and even games such as Jetpack Joyride all work great when hooked up to a larger screen. Some newer apps such as BlackBerry Express and Pixelated (show in the video below) are even designed to reconfigure themselves into a special mode when attached to a larger screen.

Eventually wireless standards such as Miracast will make HDMI cables obsolete, but for now an HDMI cable is the best three dollars you can spend to accessorize your BlackBerry.

Only 1 in 4 BlackBerry 10 phones have a physical keyboard

I have been pointing this out for awhile now, but the majority of BlackBerry 10 phones sold have no physical keyboard at all. Given BlackBerry’s history this is surprising to some, but has been rather consistent for at least half a year now. Devices with keyboards peaked at 28.76% in August, but since then most of the market’s growth has come from the touch-screen only Z30.


This data was collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of the free checklist app Stuff I Need. Data shown on the chart is from the beginning of June 2013 through the end of November 2013.

Classic BlackBerry OS distribution mostly unchanged

November saw very little change in the distribution of OS versions on classic BlackBerry phones.


November saw 46.6% of users running OS 7, with the rest of the user base split rather evenly between OS 5 and 6.

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 November 2012 through the end of November 2013, and does not include BlackBerry 10 or PlayBook devices.

10 more levels for Starbeams

IMG_00000022With the release of version 1.4 Starbeams has gotten ten additional levels, bringing the total up to 140. In addition to the new levels the Windows 8 version of the game has been modified in order to support a larger variety of screen resolutions.

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.

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