Publish Apps and Get a Nokia Lumia

I had been wanting to create Windows Phone apps for about 6 months now but had been continuing to put it off. When Dave Glover announced the challenge, it was the kick I needed. Publish 3 or 4 apps and receive a Nokia Lumia 710 or 800. Working almost every night, from early January, this is what I achieved:

Memory Speed

This is NOT a standard game of Memory. Once a pair is matched, it will flip back over if you do not find all the others quick enough. This game comes complete with 3 difficulty levels with up to 21 pairs to match. You must match all pairs within the Matched Pair Timeout. If a matched pair flips back over you can simply match it again, and it will be another matched pair timeout interval for that pair. If you are not quick enough, you’ll end up spending all your time rematching pairs you have already found. Game high scores and statistics are recorded to ensure you always have a goal to beat.

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Maths Defender

There are incoming bombs falling towards the city. The only way to stop them destroying the buildings is to denote them with the code. The code is the answer to a maths equation. This game comes complete with individual operator (+, -, x, ÷) or all options, adjustable number range from 0 to 100 and 3 speed settings to challenge everyone

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Count With Me

Keep the little ones entertained while they learn to count. Tap each object to highlight the numbers as you count. Select the right number and they objects will fly off as the count goes up. It features many different objects from robots to trees to cars and bright varying backgrounds.

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Color Bubble

Help the kids learn their colors by popping bubbles. The player is given a colored instruction of which color bubble to pop. The bubbles then bounce around while they try and pop only the specified color. If they hit the wrong color it just bounces the bubble around more.

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I wanted applications that would engage the brain in some way. I’ve never been interested in writing games and never done it before, but taking the approach for educational games that will be also entertaining for my three boys (3, 2 and 1/2) became very fun. I would draw the concept on the white board and then my eldest boy would watch as the development progressed and the game came to life. And he really enjoyed them.

Having developed back in 2004 for the Pocket PC I wanted to see how far the development tools had come. I thought they were really good back then and what I have found is that the experience is even more seamless. Considering I have now published 4 apps on the store without ever running them on a physical device should give a good testament to the development environment. Not to mention 4 games in a few hours a night over 2 months, never having done games development before. A far cry from my first horrible experience in 2008 in the Android Development environment. However, I assume it has progressed and would now love to port these apps over to it now.

Unfortunately, my last app was published on the 04/03/2012, two thirds through the competition and by half way through the limit of 50 entries had already been received. So I missed out on a phone. A big thank you to Dave Glover for organizing the challenge and really engaging the Australia development community. So much so that he currently has another competition running for the most download app. Unfortunately, I’m fresh out of ideas, especially ones that would appeal to the masses of Windows Phone users. Although, I still do need a Windows Phone to be able to have my boys play them whenever we are out, and they need to be distracted.

Failure of Search TFS

Well over a year ago I set up a landing page to start gathering emails for interest in Search TFS. A dynamic integrated TFS work item search experience. Today I am calling an end to the project. Although the project didn’t go anywhere, by the process I followed I wasted little time and could fully justify the position the product was to take. The main reason to kill it is that Visual Studio 11 is shipping with integrated TFS work item searching. Finally.

Team Explorer VS11 Search

I think this helps justify that there is a need for what I wanted to do. The existing Search Work Items for TFS 2010 had 7,076 downloads on the 1st January 2011 when I was starting this and now has, 23,093. That’s not a bad niche. How many would be willing to pay for something better is another question. On my landing page, I got 12 emails. Considering that there was absolutely no push, SEO, linking (apart from this blog) or advertising I’m happy there was something and I have a baseline.

Soon after I launched the landing page I got wind the Microsoft was finally going to do something. So I waited to see. Now that I’ve been playing with Visual Studio 11, I’m happy with the new Team Explorer for the most part, but I was quite disappointed with the search. It’s no better that the current available plug-in. That means it’s slow and query based. I wanted more like OneNote, where you see results as you start typing:

OneNote Search

The market though, even for something substantially better I feel is drastically reduced now that it is first party. I’m disappointed Microsoft didn’t do better since search is one of the most important features of work item tracking. The way that UserVoice does it to help prevent duplicates is brilliant. I’m hoping the search works better with TFS 11 but  since running it against Team Foundation Services (fantastic btw, especially the just announce build service) I have little hope for that.

All is not lost. TFS Working On has improved in its download rate. ClickOnce deployment having less friction may have helped that. It’s long overdue for an overhaul. I’ve had plans for nice Windows 7 integration for a long time, now I should be looking at Windows 8 perhaps. Search TFS will still fit nicely into TFS Working On, especially for those that don’t live in Visual Studio.