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Secret unveiled #undergr0und

POSTED BY Luigi Violin ON

I’ve been hinting about a new project I was working on, without being able to say much more a few months ago – well, here’s the full story on The Verge:
App academy: the student developers building the Windows Phone ecosystem.

“Want to help student developers on Windows phone?”

This is the question I got that started my collaboration with Microsoft and ultimately led to the publication of the Underground app (WP7applist / Web Marketplace). Microsoft is doing an awesome job in getting student developers involved in the creation of apps for Windows Phone 7 (hit the article above to read some success story), and I’m so glad that I could help promote their apps and their hard work with the Underground app for WP7.

From a geeky point of view, it also gave me the chance to actually work with some cool stuff that I’ve only been experiment with, before – such as Windows Azure.

For more information about Underground you can check out www.findyourcolony.com or #undergr0und on Twitter.

Lesson learned

POSTED BY Luigi Violin ON

I was pretty excited about the last update I shipped for WP7applist’s app, as it fixes a few annoying bugs and it adds interesting features (like Mango / fast app switching support). Shortly after it went live I started getting reports of the app being unresponsive, bulky, and slower then before. I was very surprised as it was actually a lot smoother in my eyes, and I couldn’t quite get what users were talking about. Then I realized.

Last month I blogged about my new Windows Phone device (Samsung Omnia W, or Focus Flash overseas), and when I say it’s fast.. well, I really mean it! I installed the updated app on my old LG E900 and I could finally see what users were talking about. For the record, the main issue was the huge background image, rendered at 32bpp, so to make the gradient look super cool.

Long story short, I submitted a new update just a few minutes ago: it includes a new graphic restyling (also a dark and a light theme), better ad positioning, and some more UI improvements. Most of it was based on users feedback, so hopefully this will make some users happy.

Sorry for the issues you may be experiencing with the app and thanks for your patience, the new update should be just a few days away. :)

WP7applist app update, Mango edition (sneak preview)

POSTED BY Luigi Violin ON

Sometimes real life gets in the way and keeps you from getting fun stuff done. We all know the feeling, but it seems to happen more often than not to me lately.

I was finally able to find some time for a LONG due update, which involves the Windows Phone 7 app related to my fansite WP7applist. Can you believe that you can’t take advantage of any Mango feature yet from the app? Well fear not, and read on!



Disclaimer: this is just a preview, things are going to change etc.. but yes, this is where we stand at the moment.

First of all, as you can see the app got some brand new graphics and a huge makeover. Not many people complained about the old orange background, but I figured that many more would if everyone would care to leave some feedback, so I just went ahead and cleaned up the UI. Feel free to comment on the design before the update is shipped to the Marketplace!

Second of all, I moved some things around according to the feedback I got: for example, the app now greets you with the “discovery links list” instead of “spotlight”, and a few things (info, settings, feedback) were taken off the main Panorama view and presented on a separate page.

Third of all.. yes, the app finally supports fast app switching – this alone is worth the update. Trust me, I know this would have come sooner.

Last of all (but this is far from being the full list of improvements) this update will also include infinite-scrolling lists, which I have running on my beta builds from quite a while, and I can definitely say that they are a big plus.

Keep an eye open for the update in the next couple weeks if you’re a fan of the app, and feel free to leave any last minute feedback (here in the comments, on twitter, or via email) – I’ll try to squeeze in as many features as I can before shipping the update for certification. :)

#wp7dev fix for error 0×89740005

POSTED BY Luigi Violin ON

I had an interesting (and annoying altogether)  issue today, and thought I would share the solution as it may hopefully help someone else. Also, as this kinda relates to the first Windows Phone 7 birthday, I figure it is likely to happen to many other developers in the next coming days.

Facts: I was trying to sideload a custom app to my device, but I kept getting the above error code. Not sure why I didn’t get the actual error message instead, but a quick google search revealed that my device was in a “developer locked” state.

Well, no problem: just open the phone unlock tool included in the SDK and that will fix it. Right? Not at all: while the tool told me it had correctly unlocked my device, I got the same error in Visual Studio.

So I logged in to App Hub to check that my registration was active and healthy, and that’s when I found out that my “unlock registration” had just expired on that particular device. Apparently the phone unlock tool doesn’t renew it on its own, so (finally!) the solution is to remove the device on App Hub and run the unlock process afterwards. And that WILL fix it.

Happy coding. :)

Farewell PHP, all hail C#

POSTED BY Luigi Violin ON

I started getting serious with programming with Visual Basic 5, so ASP (3.0) was the perfect candidate when I decided to do some web development.
Soon ASP exposed some of its limits and for reasons that I couldn’t really tell right now, PHP became my language of choice, instead of VB.net. Truth is, I’ve been coding 99% percent of my recent web projects in PHP, with MySQL as the backend database.

Well I’m not sure if it’s me doing something sneaky behind the scenes but I’ve been totally unsatisfied with performance and reliability of my websites lately. I even switched several VPS and dedicated servers without actually finding out the root of some pretty serious issues, so now it’s time for me to give up. Or better yet.. evolve! I finally decided to drop PHP in favor of ASP.NET and started rewriting my projects modules one at a time (some actually being windows applications for the several schedules tasks I have in place).

Today I decided to put the first huge batch of modules in production, hence this posts. If you’re using my Xbox Live gamercards, know that they are now powered by some brand new ASP.NET coding. The good news is that they seem to perform much faster so far, and they also render slightly better (this is pretty easy to notice in the ‘Big Sig’ template).

While I’m in this process, I also have plans to move most of my projects to a new domnain called Luvisoft. Why Luvisoft? Well, that’s a very long story that I’ll probably cover in another blog post. :)

So this is it for now: as 90% of the core functions and modules have been rewritten and never tested in production, I’d be very grateful if you could report any issues or bugs you may find, as well as general impressions or comments about the new gamercards. Thank you!

Visual Studio + SVN

POSTED BY Luigi Violin ON

VisualSVNI love subversion.

I pushed hard at work so that it could be integrated in our office (and it finally happened after a couple years of me begging), and I regularely use it at home, even just to have the freedom to sit in front of my PC, or with the laptop on the couch.

I tried a few solutions for Visual Studio lately, and wanted to share what I found to be the best on the market: quick and easy to setup and use, realiable, and it beatifully integrates in the IDE (I currently use VS2010 Professional) and with my client of choice TurtoiseSVN.

Enough talking.. check out VisualSVN and grab a copy today, it’s worth every penny. ;)

MVP Award for 2011

POSTED BY Luigi Violin ON

I just got an email a few minutes ago, informing me that I’ve been awarded the Microsoft MVP Award 2011 for Xbox.

I’m totally speachless, as this is my first time as an MVP!

 

If you’re not familiar with the program, check out the official Microsoft Most Valuable Professional website.

I’ve been a regular in several Microsoft’s communities from quite a good while (newsgroups in the good old days, various tech forums, and the xbox.com forums above all), so I had the chance to know some members of the program with time.. and that’s why I’m even more honored and excited to join such an exceptional group of people.

A HUGE thanks goes out to Microsoft, to Alessandro Teglia, and to everyone else who brought me to this point. Obviously I’m not familiar with the insights of the program at all, but here’s hope that this will open up a few new opportunities to give back something more to a Community I truly and deeply love. :)

 

Working on…

POSTED BY Luigi Violin ON


I’ve been working on a new project lately, and it’s honestly one of the most interesting I’ve been working on in ages.

It’s been years since I first said I shall drop (classic ASP first and then) PHP in favour of ASP.NET, but I never really got to it. Well, it looks like the time has come. Plus, I’m also learning the ins and outs of Windows Azure, which is another thing I had in my agenda from quite a good while.

The bad news? I can’t say a single word about this project right now.. so yeah, just take my word for it for the time being.. Zaam is a happy panda!

Windows Phone 7: 30K apps and counting

POSTED BY Luigi Violin ON

Yes, it happened yesterday!

But keep on reading to see what this number is exactly.

 

Straight to the point:

- 30.000+ is the number of apps that have been approved in the USA marketplace since I started keeping track (late November 2010)

- 25.564 is the number of apps actually available in the USA marketplace in this very moment. Where are the rest of apps you may ask? They’ve been removed. They may or may not come back, but technically speaking this is how many apps you can download.

 

What about marketplaces outside of USA? I currently track Italy and UK, and I know for a fact that they have a few apps that aren’t available in the USA marketplace, and surely this is the case for many other internation markets / regions.

I do have a plan to scan ALL the available regions, even just to total up the number of apps – it’s just a matter of time to put it to code (and possibly avoid to have my web server explode! )

 

So there you have it, hopefully this will clear it up, and if anyone tells you there’s more apps than that – either they are talking about international exclusive apps or they are lying! So yeah.. watch out! ;)

Even more gamercards news (and designs)

POSTED BY Luigi Violin ON

Since I just decided that this would also be a devblog for my gamercard service, I guess I might post all udpates I make to them – I noticed a quite big increase in traffic lately, most likely due to:

  • a) the new designs
  • b) the fact that I’m – again – actively developing the service now, so it just works. ;)

 

The most successful new design seems to be classicnew, but I also got some awesome responses for the ‘Big Signature‘. It comes in a few different colors and it’s inspired partly to xbox.com‘s look and partly to Microsoft‘s (now patented) Metro UI. I started using it myself in forums I frequent. :) Here’s an example of the Orange Big Signature:

I also did a slightly different gamercard a few days ago, which I’m not promoting on the gamercard generator, but you should feel free to use if you wish: I wanted something that would put focus on the Avatar (the full body) but also include more info from Xbox Live. You can see the result on this blog’s sidebar.

Want one for yourself? Here’s how:

  • - dark text (for light background):
    http://gamercard.zaamit.com/xladark/yourgamertaghere.png
  • - light text (for dark background):
    http://gamercard.zaamit.com/xlalight/yourgamertaghere.png

 

Enjoy and, as always, comments are very welcome!