Writing on Tablets Tech stuff from @yeltzland

Day One with my Mac

So I finally gave in and decided to buy a Mac Mini - to start doing some iOS development.

It’s been a long time since I did much on a Mac - probably 1991(!) on a Mac Classic with a tiny screen - but I have used them a bit in various jobs since.

Other than the initial strangeness of finding my way around, it’s been quite fun so far. Using a Windows keyboard probably isn’t ideal, and I’m still trying to decipher some of the control key combinations. Also the scroll wheel on my mouse works in the opposite way than in Windows, which is also taking a bit of getting used to.

Setting up my various dev projects has been fine so far. Having Ruby already installed helped me with my Jekyll-run blog, and installing node.js was trivially easy too. Heroku toolbelt gave me Git along the way, and the Azure CLI tools work via node so they work nicely too.

One slightly tricky thing was getting a local copy of MongoDB running. This mainly meant going into UNIX mode and hacking a couple of config files post un-TARing the downloaded files, but there was enough support on the web to make that reasonably understandable.

I’ve also setup VNC so I can remote in via my Windows laptop if necessary, so I think I’m good to go with starting with Xcode and the horrible syntax of Objective-C!

Mac Development

Daily Optimiser Alpha Release

So the side project I’ve been working on is finally just about ready for public viewing.

It’s called Daily Optimiser - “a light-weight, daily schedule app that steers you away from some of the typical pitfalls of daily to do lists, and helps you create and maintain a realistic plan for the day”

It’s been fun learning new skills whilst building out the app. As I wrote in a previous post, the initial version is a web app written mostly using AngularJS, although I’ve replaced Firebase with a custom backend that stores the data in MongoDB at MongoLab

I’ll probably write more shortly about some of the things I learnt now that the app is public, but for now it would be great if you gave it a go and let us know what you think.

JavaScript AngularJS MongoDB Daily Optimiser

Client-side development with AngularJS and Firebase

I’ve been busy over the last couple of months building out a prototype of a web app/business idea - unfortunately it’s not quite ready for public viewing just yet, but hopefully not too long now.

What I did want to write briefly about was how much fun it was to write a single page app using AngularJS. I’ve been meaning to try Angular out for a while, and I’ve been really impressed on how easy it is to get up and running, as well as how well its functionality maps to real world applications.

The documentation is a little ropey at times, and the code examples aren’t great - although as ever Stack Overflow is your friend. Once I grasped the overall concept of how to structure your code, I’ve been really productive and very happy with how quickly I’ve been able to iterate in the prototype.

My app also needed a datastore to hold information, and I’ve been trying out Firebase. It’s a realtime backend that natively stores JSON, and has client libraries for many platforms including Angular, which made it very simple to get up and running.

The realtime synching between multiple browsed logged into the same account is truly impressive, and I’d definitely recommend taking at look to see if it matches what you need.

For me, it was great to be able to have a datastore I could access form client-side code without having to write my own intermediate API data layer. However, once the app moves into production the true realtime synching may be overkill for my particular needs - especially if the app gets any traction - so I may end up rolling my own solution for cost benefits more than anything else.

JavaScript AngularJS Firebase

Bedside Clock removed from App Store

As I mentioned a while back, I’ve stopped developing my Bedside Clock Windows Phone app a while back after I got rid of my Windows Phone.

However, I just realised from a couple of reviews that the Yahoo! location services I was using to power the app are now no longer available :-(

This is a real shame, but as there are no obvious free alternatives - and I don’t want to go through the pain of reconfiguring the stupidly complicated Hyper-V setup used for the Windows Phone emulator without being able to test the fixes on a real phone - that I’ve decided the best thing to do is to pull the app from the store.

I don’t think that will affect any existing users, but apologies if it does.

If any developers are interested in fixing the issues, feel free to get the code from Github and do what you want with it!

Bedside Clock App Windows Phone

Sky Anytime, Routers and 3 Home Signal

Still been busy prototyping with NodeJS and MongoDB (nothing too interesting to show yet), but had a couple of things happen in my home network that I’d thought I’d share in case they help anyone suffering with the same issues.

Problems with Sky Anytime and my Netgear Router

I’d bought a wireless connector for my Sky box so I could use the on-demand services of Sky Anytime, but whatever I tried it wouldn’t connect to my home network - which made it worse than useless.

I’ve got a fairly old Netgear DG834GT router that has always worked fine for me with my BT Broadband connection without any issues, so thought it was unlikely there was a problem there.

I spoke with the usually very helpful and knowledgeable Sky support, but other than saying a few people had also reported similar issues, they had no idea what to do.

I’d almost given up on finding a solution, but then I happened upon a support forum where someone mentioned they’d changed their ADSL multiplexing method to “LLC-based” rather than “VC-based” and that had managed to fix the connection issue.

I was very doubtful that could be the problem, but after I switched I immediately made a connection, and can now use BBC iPlayer, 4OD and other services direct from my Sky box.

To be honest it still doesn’t make sense how the ADSL connection type can affect how the wireless network connects to the box, but hey, it worked for me!

3 Home Signal

I’ve been very happy with my iPhone since I got it a few months ago, and reasonably happy being on the 3 network except for one thing - the phone signal in our house was very patchy and much worse than I used to get on Orange.

Now living in a small town (Hexham) in a valley in the country means it’s not totally unexpected we get a weak signal - we only just about get free-to-air digital TV - and our house has pretty thick stone walls. However it’s still not exactly the middle of nowhere, so pretty disappointing to only get a connection in the house about 50% of the time.

However, I’d read that 3 have a solution called Home Signal that they will ship for free if you qualify. It’s basically a Femtocell connector that gives you a private phone network to connect your calls via your broadband router.

The tip I found online - which I will share here - is not to ask 3 directly for a Home Signal box, but simply tell technical support you are having problems, let them test the signal and then they will suggest Home Signal if you qualify for one.

It has definitely worked for me, and now I get at least 3 bars everywhere in the house and don’t miss any calls any more.

Sky Anytime Netgear 3 Home Signal