Showing all entries for: August 2011

First Corona SDK Hackathon Went Great. Ansca’s first-ever Corona SDK Hackathon (yesterday) couldn’t have went better.

There were tons of attendees, both local AND remote (online). People were hard at work all day (as you can see in the video—if you click the title of this blogpost).

Hetal did a great job keeping the virtual attendees “in the loop” via the UStream chat and Ansca’s twitter account during the entire event.

Carlos and Walter (Ansca’s co-founders) were there from start to finish, and many other Ansca team members (Eric, Josh, Sean, Reiko, Alix, Tom, and Gilbert) were there for many hours mingling with the attendees and also providing help when needed.

I was there (with Biffy!) to help anyone with any Corona-related questions or challenges they were having trouble with. And while I did end up helping a handful of folks, for the most part, it seemed like just about everyone knew what they were doing—even those who were just recently introduced to Corona!

Towards the end of the event, I was in the room when the winners were being chosen, and let me tell you, it was a difficult decision because of the sheer quality of submissions that came through. We were all blown away by what people were able to do in just 12 hours (less if you include any breaks they might’ve taken).

So the fact that most people could figure out how to do most things in Corona on their own, as well as the quality of submissions that came through in the end just goes to show how great an SDK Corona really is.

The event encompassed Corona’s greatest strength: it enabled developers to produce top-notch games and apps in a very short amount of time, and that’s an understatement at best.

The winners ended up being two remote attendees, and three local attendees—so there definitely was no discrimination. The overall winner was a remote attendee.

Look out for a new blog post on Ansca’s blog sometime today or tomorrow about the event to find out who the winners were. If you haven’t already, click the title of this blog post to watch a nice video that sort of summarizes the whole day. And in case you missed it, take a look at the blog entry Hetal posted during the event yesterday.

If you didn’t get a chance to make it to this Hackathon, I highly recommend you try your best to make it to the next one. I’m sure it’ll be even better.

What might be done to fix Dell?. Ben Brooks:

It’s interesting just how far Dell has fallen and how little value that name carries in today’s consumer mind. Dell is not only taking a beating from Apple, but HP has its own OS for mobile now and Google has its own hardware company for mobile now — Dell is getting hammered from every angle.

Michael Dell, in 1997:

“What would I do?” Mr. Dell said to an audience of several thousand information technology managers. “I’d shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.”

Ouch.

Year of the Copycats?. It’s the year of the copycats alright, just not the year they sell very much.

(via Shawn Blanc)

HP Needs to do Something with webOS. Personally, I wish webOS was iOS’s closest competitor. Now that Google may have scared off those who jumped on the Android bandwagon, maybe this is HP’s chance:

Given the fears that some have over what Google’s control of Motorola could mean for other Android makers, some have suggested the deal might leave the door open for HP to get more aggressive about licensing its webOS to other device makers.

But…

Indeed, licensing webOS would put phone makers in the same position they may find themselves in with Google — that is, competing against the same company whose software they are using. This, tech historians note, is not something that has tended to work well in the tech industry.

The problem is, if HP can figure out a way around that problem, then so could Google… and there would be no reason for manufacturers to switch from Android.

(via Carlos Icaza)

Solar Powered Mac Keyboard by Logitech. This keyboard addresses my number one complaint about wireless anything (which is why my keyboard and mouse are both wired), which is, the need to swap out the batteries.

Behold, the Wireless Solar Keyboard K750 for Mac:

According to the company, even standard indoor lighting is enough to charge the keyboard, and with a full charge, the K750 can operate for three months in total darkness. Which means that in real-world use, you should never have to worry about running out of juice.

Sounds very impressive. I just might try one of these out.

Freemium Games are Here to Stay. Flurry published some interesting statistics they’ve gathered about mobile games regarding in-app payments in freemium titles.

The title of the article, “Freemium Mobile Gamers Spend Most Money on Items They Don’t Keep”, really makes it sound as though it’s pointless for users to be spending their money on “in-game money”. Admittedly, it sounds very strange. Even the highly insightful Ben Brooks of The Brooks Review commented:

This is astonishing to me and being that I am not in the group that plays these types of games, I just can’t see the motivation to buy in-app currency to use — especially knowing that I will have to buy it again at some point.

I think that although much of what users are buying are “consumable”, much like a candy bar, what they get in return is something permanent within the game—unlike a candy bar. So whether it’s further progress, or an item they get to keep for the duration of their quest, or a new level, people for the most part seem to be happy to pay for virtual goods, and that’s great news for game developers.

The article also includes some great insight on what types of items seem to sell better than others, so it’s a highly recommended read for anyone who is planning on developing a freemium game anytime in the near future. Here’s an inspiring bit for that group:

With Flurry estimating that total U.S. iOS and Android game revenue will surpass $1 billion in 2011, game developers should understand what consumers spend the majority of their money on. As a business model, freemium games are here to stay.

And as an aside for the mobile devs out there, Corona SDK developers can easily leverage Flurry’s analytics service, as well as a wide range of ways to monetize their apps (including in-app purchases, offer-based virtual currency, banner ads, and more).

(via The Brooks Review)

What Platform Will They Choose?. There’s lots of speculation on the fate of Android, since Google themselves are a competitor to other licensors of Android. Here’s a theory:

Handset makers spend around a year developing new phones and so in the short term, not much will change in terms of their Android phone releases, Hazelton said. But handset makers are surely today taking a look at phones that are in the pipeline. “People are probably going back to the drawing board saying, hey, will we launch this Android device,” he said.

But the question remains, what platform will they go with?

Windows phone seems like the only viable candidate, but that surely calls for drastic business changes considering Android is freely available, and Windows is not.

Samsung does have their own platform, bada, which I can definitely see them pursuing more now (why did they even bother with Android in the first place?). From what I’ve seen though, it looks like it could use a lot of polish if it wants to compete with the likes of Apple’s iOS and HP’s webOS—that could be why they decided to go with Android for now.

As for HTC, I don’t believe they have their own platform. If I were the CEO of that company, I’d take my current Android-phone profits and invest in my own platform. All the cool kids are doing it, so why not?

Steve Jobs Biography Details. Originally slated for a 2012 release, the target date is now November of this year:

Isaacson also clarified to Elmer-DeWitt the moving forward of the publication date was not due to any health concerns or decline. The book was mostly completed in June, and is now “all done and edited”.

It will surely be an interesting biography to read.

Your Email is Not a Filing Cabinet. Dave Caolo at 52Tiger:

Today I visited someone with over 1,800 messages in her email inbox. They weren’t unread. The messages were being stored there. It took her 12 minutes to find the message she wanted to show me.

If the above sounds like you, then his short article is definitely worth a read.

I skim my inbox throughout the day, respond to urgent messages right away, and then periodically process what’s left at least once a day. Things that still require some kind of action on my part, but aren’t able to be accomplished quite yet go into a ‘Pending Action’ folder.

As an aside, I recently just discovered 52Tiger, as well as Forkbombr, and they are already ranking very high on my “favorite RSS feeds” list.

Positive Quotes from Android Partners. Of course, I’m sure they feel like they have to say something positive now, but this page will be funny to look back on when most jump ship onto other platforms.

(via Daring Fireball)

Is USB Apple’s Next Victim?. Andy Ihnatko on MacWorld:

So: no Ethernet, definitely no Firewire, and—in time, my pet, in due time—no USB ports. Apple’s answer to the inevitable outrage will be “If you must have that connector, buy it as a Thunderbolt dongle.

I can definitely see Thunderbolt being one of the only ports included on future Macbook Airs.

Should Nintendo Make iOS Games?. Marco Arment’s opinion:

Nintendo should probably reconsider its direction, especially in portables, but I don’t think this is where it should go.

As much as I’d like to play some Nintendo classics on my iPhone, I also don’t think Nintendo should give up and go the route of Sega. Apple was in the same position when they were faced with the decision to abandon the Mac platform in favor of Windows, however, Apple recognized that something needed to change, that they needed to innovate somewhere—instead of just blaming this or that for all their problems.

If Nintendo would be a little more open-minded and understand that in order to stay relevant, they need to really rethink their business, then I think they could pull through and continue to be successful. But if they are still awe-struck by their previous successes and refuse to innovate further, then I think they’re gonna end up on the same path as RIM and Nokia.

Wakeup Call for Game Developers. Myself included.

As good of a laugh I had looking at the funny Mario screenshots, the message really is true, and I’ll admit I’m guilty of it myself. Let’s strive to make higher quality games, not just in terms of graphics, but in the user experience (whether or not they decide to spend any “fun points”).

(via kottke.org)

Poor Man’s Yojimbo. Not readily apparent to most Mac users (myself included), the built-in Keychain Access utility is actually a great way to store secure passwords and even notes (didn’t know about the latter). If only there was a way to create custom categories in the left pane and sync with iCloud, it could probably replace Evernote for me.

BTW: Yojimbo is an exceptional information manager app for the Mac (and iPad), from the makers of BBEdit (my text/code editor of choice), but it costs money. Keychain Access is included free with every modern Mac (though is a lot less feature-packed and user-friendly).

(via Forkbombr)

Cloud Services and Fraud Protection. Scott Hanselman’s iTunes account was mysteriously compromised recently, and his comments caused quite a stir, garnering responses from a few big name writers of the tech industry.

In his response, Scott proposes ways that security can be tightened up without degrading the customer experience. I agree with his article, and think that if applied, would greatly reduce the amount of compromised accounts associated with any cloud service.

Instapaper iOS Version and Device Stats. Marco Arment with an astute observation of his iOS app stats for Instapaper (which I use daily), as well as how the stats will affect future versions of the app (regarding which versions he will no longer support).

This is recommended reading for any developer, because it’s important to learn how to thoroughly track your stats so you can make the necessary adjustments and decisions for future updates of your app (as Marco briefly discusses in his blog post).

Thankfully, Corona-made apps get much of these stats without lifting a finger (due to their new Launchpad service, which is automatically built-in to all Corona apps that use build 590 and above, and is free for all subscribers).

Guardian Saga. I’ve been playing this game for a little while now, and so far it’s very good. Really brings back the old NES look n’ feel, while at the same time still looking great.

If you’re a fan of old-school top-down RPG’s, you should definitely check this one out.

First-Ever Corona SDK Hackathon. This August 27th event is FREE to attend, and if you don’t live in the local area, you can even be a remote (virtual) attendee as well—awesome.

From the announcement blog post:

We’ve teamed up with our new partners, InMobi and PapayaMobile, to throw the first-ever Corona SDK hackathon on Saturday, August 27 in San Francisco. The event will be an all-day affair with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and — of course — hacking! At the end of the night, we’ll have judges from Ansca (i.e. Walter and Carlos) and InMobi choose the winners.

Tickets are gonna go fast, so if you’re interested, you better get in while you can.

Old Mac of the Month: Performa 578. Kevin Lipe, on Stephen M. Hackett’s blog about the Performa 578:

They came with an absolute crapload of software. Our Performa 578 came with Quicken, ClarisWorks 2.1, At Ease, several shareware games, the Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia CD-ROM, a Time Almanac CD-ROM,1 some sort of Microsoft CD-ROM about Dinosaurs, Mario Teaches Typing (which I never beat), and a free trial membership to Apple’s eWorld online service (which we were able to use with our 28.8kbps ADB-based modem).

That is a crapload of software. The most you get these days with a new computer are simple apps for basic tasks.

In 5th grade, my dad brought home a Windows 95 computer and that was my first real foray into the world of computers. It’s funny how popular Encyclopedia software was back then.

(via Shawn Blanc)

Ansca’s Developer Meetup Went Well. Yesterday’s meetup at Ansca HQ went really well—I think everyone had a great time. And although Papaya didn’t end up giving their presentation, there was still a pretty big showing. A lot of folks finally got to see where all the “magic” is made, and got to interact with other Corona developers, as well as soon-to-be Corona developers.

I think there was even a small crowd still there past 9pm, which was the posted meetup end time.

UPDATE: Read the event recap just published today by Hetal.

Shawn Blanc’s 2011 MacBook Air Review. Shawn Blanc’s “winded review” of his 2011 MacBook Air, which I’ve also been eyeing lately. This part made me laugh:

They say the speed difference between the faster Samsung drive and the slower Toshiba drive is not even noticeable. However, as a nerd, that’s not the point. Buying something new that’s even the slightest bit slower than another available option makes you want to shake your fist in the air and shout, “Arrg!”

If you’re thinking of buying the MacBook Air, or just like reading reviews of awesome products, Shawn’s is a must-read.

Alfred 0.9.9 Released. This is a big day for releases! One of my favorite Mac apps, Alfred (read my review), just released a major new update today, which brings a host of new features. The highlights include Extensions, a new Lion theme (very nice), and a bunch of bug fixes and improvements.

See this page for a ton of useful scripts that can be used with Alfred.

Brand New Corona SDK Release Out. Highlights:

  • LaunchPad (hassle-free analytics, promotion, showcase).
  • 3rd party Papaya game network added.
  • 3rd party InMobi Ads added.
  • Embedded 3rd party tools.
  • Mac OS X Lion support.
  • Tons of updates to the core engine.

Overall, a plethora of great things that nearly all developers can take advantage of—many of which have been available to subscribers via Daily Builds for a while now (another great reason to subscribe).

When you get a chance, you should visit the newly updated Ansca website and read about all the great things that were added.

UPDATE: Here’s the Build 591 release notes for a complete list of all the changes/additions in this release (via @ansca).