Author Archives: RKlenka
Well i am finally done with college, I get to walk the stage on Sunday and pick up my Software Engineering Degree. I have already excepted a full time position working on what should be some cool projects.
So then what now? Well activity here will probably stay about the same as it is (relatively nonexistent). Im still waiting on the Sprint Windows Phone 8, though i am playing with the idea of just going and picking up a cheap prepaid Windows Phone 8 like the one Walmart is selling: http://www.walmart.com/ip/Nokia-Lumia-521-4G-Smartphone/24099994 to work on it. I also have a list of small projects i would also like to work on.
My senior design project, which took up most of my time this last 6 months or so, was a”Interactive Mirror”. It was a mirror that you stood in-front of. It would know someone was in front of it then do a face recognition scan to see who you are. If recognized it would log you into and display a GUI for a whole bunch of stuff such as Facebook, Twitter, Fitbit, News, Weather, Calendar. and all kinds of other cool stuff. It had voice control, voice dictation, hand gestures, mouse control, mouse and keyboard support and so on. It played music, it displayed images. I of course was dumb and did not take that many pictures of it, nor did i take any video of it running:
Learned a lot about the Microsoft Kinect and there things so don’t be to surprise if you see some write ups about how it was done.
I have a few weeks until Work starts so ill try and get some cool stuff done by then.
Its winter break now, so i try to come up with a todo list for the next month or at least try and attempt to be constructive.
I had a fire sale on my BT connectors, wanted to clear out stock and i did, even threw in free copies of OBDMobile to hurry it along.
Once that was done, and now i know that WP7/8/RT/Surface does not openly allow ad-hoc or blue tooth serial port profile i told my self i would make OBDMobile free so i did.
The one on Intel’s AppUp though i still need to “free”, but i think i sold like 2 copies on there so i guess there is no hurry.
A “jail broken” ROM for my phone came out in the last month or so, and the guys of XDA has figured out, from what i know, how to access the serial port among other things so my main goal for this break is to get a home-brewed version of OBDMobile running on Windows Phone 7. Stuff like this is what i will always miss from Windows Mobile 6 is the ability to do almost anything on it, but i guess that’s the trade off for having a enjoyable UI. From what i can tell Microsoft has been trying to get away from BT SPP for years now, but with all the parts already there i don’t see why they cant keep supporting it. My guess it must be a security thing, in class in the Senior Design lab i was easily able to connect and mess with another teams blue tooth thing that allowed serial port access. Which i guess was not to nice since they started freaking out and they had a big presentation the next day for it lol.
Speaking of Senior Design, my group is wanting to work on that all break and being the unofficial “tech lead” of the group might mean ill have to help 😛
As for SideAmp, which i guess its a project only i seem to love, it is now pretty much unneeded anymore. MS killed off SideShow, which i have been toying with porting to Windows Phone 7/8 but there is not really a big reason to. You can still install SideShow on Windows 8 and even SideBar gadgets which i find more useful in a desktop setting than Live Tiles are but they are unsupported. After updating to Windows 8 x64 my sideshow drivers on my devices no longer work, and though i asked for updates, they are not interested. I played with updating the drivers myself but W8 has some parts that make it not particularly fun. Though i can still access it on non-sideshow ways and i might port a smaller copy of SideAmp for just that purpose for Zune and WinAmp but im pretty sure some one has already done something similar a long time ago. Thought about making a WinRT SideAmp app but if Zune, i mean “X-Box Music” is still a mess then i dont see the point in it.
I am still a bit surprised that they abandoned SideShow, at least without replacing it with something better. I see plenty of apps on the marketplace that involve some sort of “driver” or a method of getting data between the phone and computer, something SideShow was pretty decent at. I know MS wants people to interact and use Azure which lead to some pretty stupid discussions with MS when WP7 first came out. WP8 and its NFC communications stuff, and with Nokia actually trying things with it like in its overly expensive charger speaker dock system. Maybe someone should develop a general NFC usb connector thingy, though i know some laptops have something built in now.
Oh well, in the end i will probably just sit around drinking hot chocolate and blowing all my time and money on Steam’s Winter sale.
I happen to walk into a Windows 8 Pro and Surface running Windows RT at the UC between classes today. There was two college reps, who i assumed where picked because they looked like “hip college kids” and not for their knowledge of Win8 because they spent more time hugging and talking with friends then answering questions, which is fine because most of their answers were completely wrong anyways.
Spent some time with the Surface RT and it looked surprising like Window 8 Pro too much like it i think, i believe you could easily show it to people and they would never know the difference until they try to install a application and have it fail. One of the major problems i have been having was with loading app speeds, like i discussed last time i and others having noticed that Metro apps take a long time to load. Sometimes 2-3 times longer than native apps, i loaded up the mail app on WinRT and it took 9 seconds, that’s still way to slow i think, especially on a flag ship model like Surface. This was about the same on all of the metro apps such as Music and others. This should be instant just like on Windows Phone systems.
I then wanted to see if you can have static ips and ad-hoc on RT and getting to it acts and looks exactly the same as on Win8, you can do static ip address on WinRT but the WiFi on the card did not have ad-hoc. I know seeing on some WinRT that its not required, but i wonder if some wifi cards will have the option, surface at least did not.
I should have picked it up, i dont know why, but with it sitting as in laptop mode using touch, at least with out knowing any touch shortcuts it was not very easy. From desktop mode about 9 out of 10 times i would hit IE instead of the start screen which was annoying. So at least outside of Metro it was not all that touch friendly.
I then hopped on over to Windows 8 Pro, i think it was on a acer, i forget, to run some timed tests so i made sure Mail was not open and clicked it, expecting another 9 second wait. Nope, it opened up instantly. Same with Xbox music, same with anything, it all nope nearly instantly. Now this is how it should react. So then why does Surface run so slow? Why does my desktop, running i5 same as this acer run so slow? I need to take a trip to Best Buy or wherever and compare more, i also posted the question over to reddit to get their numbers.
Another thing, which i hear is a common trend, is that the MS reps do not really know the differences between RT and the full Win8, one of the reps was completely confident in that you could fully install and run iTunes on the Surface RT. Another interesting note, which i felt a bit bad for the rep though, was some one was really liking the Surface. He was very enthusiastic as he talked and all of that. So the rep asked him if he would be interested in buying a Surface, and without skipping a bit he says “No”. It threw her off a bit, so she asked “you seamed to really like the surface, why would you not buy one?” “Its not a iPad” he responded. “But”, she responded, “we were just discussing all of the things this does that the iPad does not (she lists a few) for about the same cost” and he cuts her off “doesn’t matter, its not a iPad” and walks off. How do you argue that?
Well today was the launch day for Windows Phone 8 and for the most part it was pretty underwhelming. Besides the standard updates like improved hardware and resolution there is nothing all that new here. Sure there is NFC and wallet and for being multi platform word has it its not all to friendly with android and iOS, some says you can send urls, all pretty much say you cant send media. There are some changes to the lock screen and tiles but there is still no true notification area. The idea behind kids corner is cool. Still no serial port support, maybe ad hoc but you cant set your own ip which means OBDMobile right now cant be done. For all of the development ideas i have the platform does not support (iOS and android would) any of them which is a strong contrast to WinMobile 6. I understand that the kernel and the back end mesh with WinRT and that was what most of the work was done for but there does not feel to be that much new here.
They killed off Zune Desktop with no new updates and pretty much ignoring WP7. The feeling im picking up there is WP7 only had like less than 5% of the market, same with Zune, so they can totally ignore and kill them off and it wont matter. That would be better if they had something to make up for it.
From a user standpoint i really do like WP7, i get quick access to everything i need right then and there. But from a developer standpoint its been a let down, no BT SPP, no ad hoc, no this, no that. I remember when Intel wanted me to make some apps for AppUp, every week a representative from them would call me up asking about my progress on OBDMobile and SideAmp, asking me what they can do to help me. Practically bending over backwards to help, even after i told them how niche the programs where they kept calling. I think in the end i sold like 3 copys of OBDMobile through them. Am i getting any love from MS? Nope, all i get is you cant do that, or this was not designed for that, or that was not in our current plan set. And back in the WinMobile 6 days those would all be followed by: but if you wanted you “could” do that this way, or its not supported but look into this. But not any more i guess.
It doesn’t matter i guess, Sprint is not getting WP8 anytime soon and by the time Sprint does get WP8 ill be working full time and i guess ill ask my self the ultimate question, if im developing full time for a large corporation, do i still want to do some independent work? If i decide my job fills my development itch then maybe ill stay on WP8, if not maybe ill finally move to android.
I have been running Windows 8 RTM for a few weeks now and for the most part i have been digging it.
Metro Apps, i mean “Windows 8 Apps” are cool when they work, and very frustrating when they don’t. And i know a lot of people have been giving hate over the new or lack of start menu. But for me i usually have my most used programs either pinned to the start menu, task bar or with RocketDock. So having it all nicely on the screen here is pretty handy i think for me. Now everyone is all up on the Metro apps, and like i said, when they work they are great. My hope with the metro apps is that you would get lighter, faster, smaller versions of common software. So for example instead of opening up Outlook, to the open up the Windows 8 “Metro” Mail in less time. But with me at least this is not the case at all. It took me 7.7 seconds to open Outlook 2013 preview and 12.6 seconds to open the “Metro” Mail app on my Desktop. So it took me twice as long to open the “smaller” faster app than big Outlook. That’s not cool. What about Internet Explorer: 3.7 seconds for the desktop version and: 11.4 for Metro to open and load a page. Wow that is ridiculous. So i decided to try it on my Netbook running on a Atom processor, where i planned i would most often use metro, Metro Mail took about 8.2 seconds and Outlook took: 10.1 seconds and for Desktop IE: 3.7 seconds and Metro: 3.8 so that’s a bit more even, in fact metro works faster on my Atom then on my i5 desktop. So that’s kind of interesting, some talk online about metro loading is saying its a bit by design so every Windows 8 Metro system feels about the same, so they make fast computers feel slower to make slower computers feel faster. MS says that metro will kill off any app that takes m0re than 15 seconds to load so at least there is a limit to the slowness.But for now it feels like Metro is good for slow computers but counter productive for faster computers. Should be fun to hear more about this as time goes on.
Not much new from Windows Phone 8 but some RTM SDKs and emulators have been leaked, the overview i keep hearing is the hope that the sdk is locked and MS has some big reveal still because there is nothing all to new on it. Yea they added nfc and a wallet, and some other minor stuff but nothing to amazing. Nothing really worth a complete platform release. My guess is there is a lot of back end code change because it is said to be running a variation of Windows RT and no longer Windows Embedded 6 and that it is pretty much just a port over. Of course they are saying it cant be ran on older WP7 system, but i am sure XDA will figure that out. Sprint of course is still the only carrier to not announce a phone yet. Still looks like there is no Blue Tooth SPP support, there might be wifi ad-hoc, there might even be usb host support. I guess the big reveal is this Monday so we should know more then.
As for software i do have some projects i am working on, i need to see if OBDMobile on RT or Metro can be done, seeing if i can port MS SideShow to Windows Phone 7/8. I know sideshow and sidebar (kind of) still work on Windows 8. I then need to decide if i should work on SideAmp, it was designed as a SideBar/SideShow plugin but if there is no longer either then i might just let that one die off. I have spent a lot of time on updating it this last month so i might release that as some type of “beta” for 1.3 but if i decide to work on it anymore its going to need a whole rewrite so i need to make sure its worth the time. So now that i am running Windows 8 full time i should be able to make some small proof of concepts to at least have a decent plain for the next few months. Im going to try and post more here on the development side of things as well.
Bit of a ramble…
Ok, been doing a bunch of research for my senior design project which just so happens to run along OBDMobile research and i am coming up with some future issues for OBDMobile on Windows 8 Metro side, WinRT and Windows Phone 8.
Now the desktop section of Windows 8 on non-ARM processors run just like they would on Windows 7 but Metro which is said to be using a form of WinRT, well, depends on who you ask, some say its not true WinRT but whatever the truth is doesn’t matter (some say it might be possible to port it back to Win7). Metro (WinRT) is said to be a sand-boxed environment much like Windows Phone 7/8 almost to where during development you should imagine it as being two separate systems. So you have Metro and like Windows 7.8 sitting behind it.
So with Metro sandboxed, what all can we access? Well not blue tooth SSP (serial) which i would guess means we wont be able to access it in Windows Phone 8 as well and probably not in WinRT proper. The lack of serial blue tooth access is of course making a lot of people a bit upset. A lot of things use BT SSP that are still using Windows Mobile 5/6 who was hoping to move to WP7 to then 7.5 to now 7.8 to finally WP8 who are now looking towards alternatives (Android/iOS). This includes me, what made OBDMobile work is that BT connectors are cheap, well are cheap now, and they run off simple BT serial. WiFi ones are still $100+ and there is talk of some proximity APIs but i would bet that any connector using that wont be cheap either. Now at least with Windows 8, it looks like you can still connect to ad hoc networks, and it seams that metro can still use sockets so there is a chance for OBDMobile using Wifi using Windows 8. But i dont know about the dedicated ARM tablets using “pure” WinRT. Can that connect to ad hoc? Can Windows Phone 8 connect to ad hoc? Guess once i get my replacement ram ill work on a proof of concept for OBDMobile Metro this weekend or so.
I would think that once Windows 8 and WinRT is truly out there, there will be (and has already started) a big outcry for BT SSP in Metro, with WP7 its easy to ignore because of its user base, but i dont think that will work on a much larger user base that Windows 8 and WinRT tablets will bring in.
If WinRT is made for ARM processors then what is Windows Embedded Standard 8 for? Is it running Win32 and WinRT? Is it going to be metro only? Is WinRT metro only? I keep hearing different things from different places. Another weekend project is to get WES8 up and running to see what it is.
So i guess in short, OBDMobile might be on metro for WiFi connectors only, which means it might be on WP8 for Wifi only. But who knows all of this can change in a few months once W8 hits retail.
Fall has started up along with school, have about two semesters left for my degree. Some interesting school projects lined up including a big senior design project. I tried to talk my group into working on a bigger OBDMobile but with out much luck.
One of the best things about school is MSDNAA access, and with it comes early access to Windows 8. Over the weekend i installed it onto my little Atom Netbook, and like with any new OS there are some problems. All of my MS accounts is connected to my Live account for school. which causes a problem in Windows 8. Pretty much i cant access or use the People Hub or xbox/zune/store at the same time until its fixed. I tried a few work arounds with no luck, but it gave me a chance to play with some of the back end of Windows 8. One way was to use a non edu live account and this gives you access to Facebook/Twitter/Ect but then you cant access Xbox/ “Zune” / or the store or at least none of my main sections, at least not directly. It seams that unlike in Windows Phone 7, in Windows 8 and i would guess Windows Phone 8 they want everything to be done through your windows account and live.edu or any live account that is not hotmail or live is having a problem. MS says they have known about this since May, but with W8s big debut in another month and after that all of the non MSDNAA people who use live@edu (lots of schools with students who adopt tech early) and any one using a live exchange account (i forget it its technical name) that is not on a live.com or hotmail.com domain will be complaining about why nothing works.
So kind of like the first time with Windows Phone 7, you log into your MS account, and your FB, Twitter and all the others, and either everything works great with your friend feeds and personalization and metro comes alive and is awesome. Or everything is blank and dull and you cant figure out whats wrong or what to do about it. Now on my main desktop not being able to use People Hub is a very minor inconvenience because i use my desktop for productivity work, not really for wasting time checking facebook. But on my netbook or phone, where its less straight productivity and a bit more wasting time, taking notes, info gathering where i will be spending more time with metro its more jarring. So for my netbook i have it signed into a “new” live account that is connected to my old live.edu account, this allows me to use the people/mail/ect hubs as intended, and still use the Windows Store, but i cant log into XBox or “Music”, but since i dont really need those its not to big of a problem. Though this account logs into a different SkyDrive then my .edu account, this is a problem for using OneNote to sync nicely with everything else. The desktop area seams to be smart enough to know that there are two skydrives, but OneNote MX, the Metro OneNote, only goes to the live account your signed into, though it had a greyed box to added more accounts, so maybe when the final version is out it will be fixed. I could always use the full OneNote i guess.
Now that i have it set up and after the annoying trying to figure out how everything works (why doesnt it come with a quick tutorial? The little while you wait “tutorial” doesn’t count) Windows 8 runs quite well on my little Netbook, and with some decent Metro apps i think it will be more useful then when i have W7 on it. That being said it is a little weird to get used to, but after a few hours i was moving around in it with no problems. Though some of the more deeper sections that was easy found with the start menu is harder to find now. Oh, if you did not know there is no start menu, you just go to the bottom corner and it kind oh peeks out the metro start. Not a big deal because there are only a few applications i use commonly, which on Windows 7 i would use RocketDock for so having them pinned to the start like this is not to bad, until you have to look for a random program, which is not any harder than with a actual start menu. I know some people are having trouble with searching for programs using search, but i have always had problems using it so it feels no different.
So with that i wanted to load it onto my main desktop, i need it to do Metro UI and W8 programming any how. Now my computer is a few years old and has been a good work horse for me and i have been running W7 32bit. I figured i will run W8 in 64bit and grab some new ram over the week. During the install i was quickly reminded about all the problem i ran into during W7 install. To make it short, i either have bad ram or a bad motherboard, i was able to make it run fine on Windows 7, but i guess either 8 or 64 bit is causing problems. The cpu should last me fine another year or so so i dont want to drop the money on a new system. So until i get new ram i can either run W8 x64 at 2gigs or W7 32bit at 4gigs.
My desktop is a weird mix of parts, i have like 3 “and a half” monitors, one of which is a touch screen, once i got all the drivers running it felt like Windows 8 was built for this weird system. I am able to run Metro and start enjoyably on small touchscreen while i use the desktop across the other two monitors. The .5 monitor which is a usb-lcd display needs some new drivers, so ill have to try fixing that. Even running it at 2gigs on ram its pretty enjoyable to use, i dont know if i would feel the same if i did not have the touch screen though. I think a touchscreen monitor is what really makes it work for me. So yea once i fix my ram problem i am hoping to run windows 8 full time, though its very easy for me to swap back to Windows 7 while i get W8 up to speed with all the development crap i have. So expect SideAmp (unless winamp makes a metro version) and OBDMobile to come out eventually, which leads me to my future worry…
Windows store (market place) is a mess, i mean its like just rows of icons, which is fine for a small phone screen but having to click on everything to see what the app does is dumb. They should use half the space and use the rest to have a small description. Also just like any other app store, its going to be just full of crapware. Even now with only a few hundred apps there is nothing good on it.
On another note Sprint does not seam interested in Windows Phone 8, which is a bummer, my account goes up next spring so they have till then or i might be jumping ship.
So in short, Windows 8 has some teething issues im sure that will get resolved eventually. They want everything to go through their Microsoft account which makes some things seam closed in, but nothing to bad. Store is a mess and good metro apps will make or break the metro side. I bet it would be better on a tablet but it is more enjoyable to use on my netbook then windows 7 was, and faster too. I am digging it on my desktop but my desktop is always been weird. I can see how some people wont like it. I do feel enthused to write some code though which is always good. I do need to update OBDMobile for Azure, and either finish or kill off SideAmp. Next big thing for OBDMobile will depend on how writing code for Windows 8 goes, i hope to have it on windows store by maybe the end of the year or so, should be do able. I am hoping to write in here more but i always say that.
Summer is coming to a close and i did nothing constructive programming wise 😛
I spent the time either doing martial arts (Ninjutsu and Systema), running off to seminars and getting more instructor certifications, also had a summer class.
OBDMobile and SideAmp have been mostly placed on the back burner this summer, partly seeing what Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 turn up. With Windows Mobile gone, Intel’s AppUp is not really taking off for me, with me pretty much starting the over saturation of blue tooth OBD connectors on amazon lol there has not been much of a drive to work on it. SideAmp for WP7 was going along smoothly and was making some progress with porting Sideshow but with W8 coming out i don’t know if it is worth the trouble.
With Microsoft moving over Bing API to Azure will force me to do some work on them i guess, maybe that will get the ball rolling again, ill try and have a patch for that sometime this month-ish.
Most of this month up until school starts up will be pretty busy, i probably wont get any good work done until September depending on how my school schedule ends up being.
Best laid plans right?
Well as i was hoping wouldn’t happen, XMAS got me into holiday mode and with a mix of good Steam Sales and a back log of Netflix and Anime i pretty much did nothing constructive over break.
I spent a whole week just marathoning games, such as Crysis (and warhead), SW: Empire at War(surprisingly fun!), FEAR 2, Bullet Storm, Homefront (was lame), Chantelise, Battlefront 2, Red Faction G, and others. To then spent the next week marathoning anime: Air, Air Movie(better than the show), Kanon, Clannad, Clannad AS, Hen Zemi, Hurahi-chan, and a few missed specials from Elfen Lied, Clannad, K-On and caught up with Wafku, good times but none productive.
So now school is starting back up, had planned to have a OBDMobile for Android and SideAmp for WP7 running by now but nope. Now i have about 16 hours of classes set for this semester. Good thing is that most of them are related to projects i am working on or interested in so that should be very helpful. In fact some can be used for extra credit.
Of course school comes first but other than that i should be able to become productive again. Im sure some of these i said last time but my first goal now is to get a decent “demo” disk to ship out to replace the crappy factory one with the OBD Connectors. Then i want to revise the debugging and licensing stuff for OBDMobile and try and make it officially “Windows 7” certified. Then have a Android version running around (one school project is to basically convert a C# program to Java how convenient) then with a Windows/Android/Whatever else base is to then advertise it everywhere to get feed back and reviews. Then use that data/feedback to do OBDMobile 2 over the summer. Along that time i will have some smaller WP7 and .net projects every now and then. If i keep on it right then i can do the projects along the school projects and get two birds with one stone.
On another good note is that i have noticed more and more Windows Phone 7’s on campus. I can only think of one out in the public, but i have seen quite a lot on campus.
So should be a good semester, with a slight chance of graduating in the Fall.