Last week I was fortunate to attend Facebook’s London Mobile Forum 2.0. This gathering of top London mobile developers and designers was a great chance to swap ideas and listen to a number of talks by Facebook, Big Nerd Ranch, Yammer, Bloom and Mozilla to name a few. The event was tiny with only 60 people in the room but it had many big players and it was great to talk to as many of them as possible, particularly at the free bar Facebook had laid on in the evening! So what mobile development secrets did we talk about? Read the rest of this entry »
Windsock is an advanced weather app for fliers of RC planes, helicopters and drones. I’ve been busy on bug fixes with Air Drop and some new features such as adding in magnetic declination info for sites. Here’s a app walkthrough of Windsock 2.0.1. Windsock is available to download from the App Store now. Let me know if you have any feature requests too – http://windsock-app.com/
My app Windsock 2.0 has hit the App Store. It’s an advanced weather app for flyers of RC planes, helicopters and drones, optimised for iOS 7 with a slick new minimal design. Windsock solves that problem of having a few flying sites you like to fly at and not knowing what the weather will be just before dusk (often the best time to fly). Its main focus is on wind direction and wind speed, sunrise and sunset times – critical information for RC flyers! This app is also particularly useful in these cold wet months as it makes finding a good ‘flying window’ of weather much easier.
How accurate is it?
It’s powered by Forecast.io. An advanced weather service that delivers hourly weather forecasts. Forecast.io works by aggregating together statistically multiple sources such as local RADAR, MET office stations and data fetched from satellites for NOAA, the US NAVY, the Norwegian Meteorological Institute and the Canadian Meteorological Center. Aviation buffs will be pleased to know it also sources data from worldwide METAR observations (the same ones 747 jet airline pilots check in some form at airports). Read the rest of this entry »
Here’s a quick fire list of 5 time-saving Objective-C tips that every developer should know. Perfect for making time for that extra coffee!
1. Enum shorthand
Enums at their simplest are labelled sets of integers. Where an inexperienced programmer might use a number to represent the download state of an image lets say, e.g. 0 = queued, 1 = downloading, 2 = downloaded, 3 = complete… When using these numbers in actual code a simple slip of the finger on the keyboard and they could easily type an extra digit in their if statement or assignment. These types of errors don’t usually show up when compiling. Even worse, these are usually obscure errors that only reveal themselves at run-time and only then when things don’t work as expected often requiring considerable debugging effort.
This is where enums step in. Enums are really handy and allow you to associate symbols or ‘labels’ with integers. If you type an enum value that doesn’t exist the compiler steps in and reports an error at compile-time instead and Xcode will probably suggest a fix for you if it was a typo! The other benefit of enums is that you can quickly add new values into them and assuming your code doesn’t save the integer to disk your code will automatically work with the new values.
There are a couple of different ways to define enums but the easiest way which will also provide Xcode with some extra compiling hints is as follows:
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Sometimes a technology comes along that seems like such a good idea you wonder why it was never created in the beginning. For me, Bluetooth was one of those technologies. It’s been around since the late nineties and was incredibly powerful, especially for PDAs and phones but has always been overshadowed by the complimentary WiFi standard and surprisingly inflexible Bluetooth profiles which define the protocol, format and intended use of the data being communicated such as a Modem profile or headset profile.
It’s strength lies in allowing devices to talk to each other over a short distance with low energy and relatively easy setup but while many developers, makers and designers hoped to make use of it as a “wireless USB cable”, the reality was that most uses didn’t fit within the defined “profiles” and so developers opted for the Serial Profile – a generic profile that shuffles bits to virtual serial ports. Serial ports are decades old and because there is no context of what the data is inside the Serial port it’s very easy to bind the wrong program to the wrong device. For example, a data logging program trying to read the serial data from a serial port joystick would probably work or worse still would most likely silently do nothing. This adds confusion and frustration for the user. Compare this experience to using a USB device – you plug it in and open up the program and it recognises the device and starts using it. You don’t see incompatible devices, you can’t connect it to the wrong thing, it just works which is probably why USB is so popular.
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