Windows 8 Apps and Personalised Advertising

 

Any developer deciding to Add the Microsoft Advertising SDK as a part of their App stack will now automatically offer users the option to personalise their adds (the setting is off by default)

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An interesting addition to 8.1 and another sign that the onward march of ‘targeted advertising’ continues.

 

NB Image Still from ‘Vantage Point’, which will be available soon in the App store.

Using your Linked In Profile as your CV

 

I just started looking for work over the last couple of days and generally have been pointing people to my linked In profile:

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/ian-walker/4a/a74/255

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Nowadays, this pretty much represents my ‘up to date’ CV. 

Most people are happy to accept this but I had someone earlier today ask if he could get a more ‘conventional version’.

Here’s what I did:

1. Highlight which data you want to show on your CV:

First of all I logged into LinkedIn and went to my own profile page.  The meat of my content is in the left hand column, and so I highlighted all the information starting with ‘Background’

2. Do a ‘Print Preview’ to confirm you have the correct data:

Use the drop downs to preview just your selected text at 100%:

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You can also modify the headers and footers to include your contact information (or whatever you wish)

3. Print!

I have FoxIt installed so in this instance I chose to print to a PDF file that i could then send on via email, but you could just as easily send it to your printer.

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NB Here is the document that it created for me loaded back into the FoxIt viewer:

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NB This trick works best in Internet Explorer (I am using version 11)

You can download FoxIt for free here: http://www.foxitsoftware.com/Secure_PDF_Reader/

I hope you find this useful, good luck with your job hunting (and yes, at the time of writing I am available for work myself!)

Hard Work, Persistence & Passion = Vantage Point!

So I have had a good few years since closing down my Company and hanging up my ‘enterprise developer’ gloves.  Quite scary to think that I have developed over 200 apps since that day when I sat in a room in Microsoft Victoria and first expressed an interest in developing apps for Windows Phone!.  At the time I didn’t anticipate being away from Enterprise development quite as long as I have been but circumstances being what they were I guess that was just my destiny …  I have run the gamut of apps, starting with a few individual apps that only achieved moderate success I have targeted all manor of strategies in an effort to try and make a living.  Criticised for ‘boiler plating’ a large number of apps using a template system I developed myself I am actually most happy when developing apps that are close to my own heart.  And so it is with my latest App (or to be more exact suite of apps) that draws on a hobby that started out for me back in 2009 when attending an Orange mobile developer conference in Nice! 

Logistics being what they are I discovered that I had a free day at the end of the conference and (another hobby) had only just been reviewing a series of Stereoscopic slides that I had picked up at an auction some years earlier – weren’t there some slides of Nice I thought?  I  reviewed my collection again and dug out a dozen or so slides that had been taken around Nice some 100 years earlier.  My thinking was it would be interesting to try and find the spots in these slides and take ‘up to date’ shots from the same spot.  Here is the first one I took after recognising the building while walking along the ‘Promenade des Anglais’:

Cote Dazure,Nice,Prom ThenCote Dazure,Nice,Prom Now

I took some time and trouble to position the camera at what I perceived to be the same spot as the original photographer some 100 years earlier.  It was an amazing experience spending that whole day tracking down the locations and taking ‘up to date’ shots and when I got home I set about thinking how I could present the two images in an interesting way.  It so happened that at that time my interest had been peeked in WPF and its latest sibling WPF/E (which later became known as Silverlight). I decided to use the photographs I had taken as  the source material, and my motivation for learning how to code in Silverlight.  Along the way I took more photographs of the areas around me and incorporated those also (this has become an ongoing hobby with me much to the chagrin of my wife and family who now expect that I will attempt to disappear for an afternoon whenever we go on holiday to somewhere new, in order to feed my latest passion (yes, no excuses, I AM a geek).  And so, for a brief period ‘From the Malverns’ (as I called the App) existed on the web and was generally met with positive feedback..

Now along the way I discovered that although I could take 20 or so photos in a day only a small percentage of them (maybe 1 in 4) were usable in the App.  How so you say?  The simple fact is it is very difficult to find the exact same spot that the original shot was taken from (although very easy to get within a foot of the spot in any particular direction!).  Over the years I have tried many ways to improve this process, ranging from using my own stereo cameras from 100 years ago (an attempt to be authentic) to printing out see-though acetates of the original which I would manically hold up in front of me as I lined up buildings and objects from the original that were still in evidence today. 

And so for some time I had thought about developing some kind of camera add-on that would assist me in this process.  At the same time I wanted to rejuvenate that old Silverlight App and bring it ‘up to date’ as a Windows 8.1  App.  And so I am now close to releasing “Vantage Point” for Windows Phone 8, designed to assist in the taking of present day shots matching old locations and ‘Vantage Point’ for Windows 8 which is designed to present them to best effect!

Vantage Point Maker for Windows Phone 8.

This app is difficult to put into words and I have to confess, that although it is for sale in the store it really has a target audience of 1 (being myself).  Safe to say that the premise is to allow the user to load in an old photograph (such as the one on the left above), revisit the scene and overlay the same location in the viewfinder in order to take the new shot..  I added a few tricks to assist in lining up the shot – filters (using the excellent Nokia imaging API) allow the original image to be viewed as an outline drawing – which makes aligning building and objects a little easier.  I also found it useful to be able to manually change the opacity of each image and automatically blink the old image on and off within the viewfinder.  All this has been a great help using my trusty Lumia 920, though it has also served to peek my interest in the new cameras from Nokia (ie those with higher image resolution and larger screens!).  In an ideal world I might have a tablet sporting a 10” or larger screen and a high quality camera – that would make the whole capture process significantly easier!

Now, although this app is available in the store I am currently looking at developing it further such that it packages the old and new images taken, along with co-ordinates into a suitable file format for direct input into the Windows 8.1 App, the next logical stage being to encourage users to submit their own photographs, old and new, to become a part of the Windows 8 App experience.

Vantage Point for Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone

The original Silverlight allowed the user to interact with the old and new images in several interesting ways. which are better experienced than explained (note to self, resurrect source and re-publish online).  but for this App I wanted an experience that matched the design guidelines and brought something new to the whole experience. ).

Browse Views by County

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Map View of Locations (by town)

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Interactive  view of chosen location

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image And so the basics of this app is it allows you to view a 100 or so  postcards of ‘olden times’ overlaid onto the ‘current view’.  (the postcard can be moved around the screen and flipped between old and new views).

 

Now call me a geek, but I have spend many hours ‘playing’ with my new app – so at least I know have one happy customer).!

(Vantage Point is due to be released shortly into the Windows 8 and Windows Phone stores, after ‘just a little more’ tweaking ….)

 

Update:  Sadly I cannot simply while away all my time on apps like this one indefinitely and I am currently looking for some interesting work developing for Windows Phone and/or Windows 8.  Please get in touch if you hear of anything, meanwhile stand by for this awesome App!!

Thor: The Dark World. (Spoiler Free Review)

Apologies for the short digresion from development technology but …

.. with the luck of the devil I managed to snag a plus one for my daughter Daisy and I to a private screening of "Thor:The Dark Army" at the Cineworld/IMAX in Birmingham last night.  After being treated to a red carpet and champagne reception we duly sat down in the elevated comfort of screen 8 and, a pleasant change, we were straight into the film with no previews or ads.  One thing I would say is that the film has quite a few potential spoilers so be careful what you read before going out to the film yourself, Oh, and be sure not to leave during the closing credits! (The closing credits are some of the most incredible 3D cartoon graphics that I have seen, so you are not going to want to leave without seeing them all!)

First the cast, a well chosen ensemble, reprising their roles from the first film with Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston and (of course) Anthony Hopkins providing the gravitas that allows you to absolutely believe in the Norse / Viking-esk world of the film (notwithstanding that much action takes place in London!).  For this film the primary bad guy isn’t Loki (yes, he is bad) but the leader of an elf army, played menacingly well by Christopher Ecclestone.

What made the film that little bit more enjoyable for me was the odd interjection of humour.  Loki’s humour was delivered with deadpan confidence that had the audience laughing out loud in several places.  But Thor also gets a look in – again, deadpan and raising a good few laughs that provide a welcome, if short relief to the tension and action of the film itself.

Now perhaps it was just me but I felt that there was definitely a nod to some sci-fi classics in this film.  First the elf army – reminded me of an enemy of the Dr himself:the Pertwee-era “Autons” (though, looking at them now, perhaps that is a stretch).  Did did I also detect some Star Wars like sound effects?  (An echo of a tie fighter engines mixed in with a smattering of the Phantom Menace racing pods perhaps?) Not to diminish the sound and visual effects of the film – which were Epic (3D was awesome too – effective, without being too ‘in your face’)

So no spoilers but how well does this trailer reflect the film itself?  Well it does manage to purvey the mood and excitement of the film without giving too much away, but the film itself is EPIC in 3D! So, don’t be mean to yourself, go out and find the biggest 3D screen cinema you can  – you are not going to be disappointed!