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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Windows Phone camp in Pittsburgh: Part 1

So far, I am having fun at a Windows Phone camp in Pittsburgh, PA.  After the introductions, everyone started out with a talk on monetizing your app. From this, I learned that sometimes, making your app free, but with ads in the app, might be a better option  for more revenue intake for any apps that I publish than perhaps making my app paid.

After that, we started the programming with a look at Silverlight (for beginners). As a programmer for Windows Phone, I am already pretty familiar with most of the Silverlight basics (I only say most because I haven't had to use some of the more advanced silverlight concepts in my programs yet). We talked about the various controls and view models available in Windows Phone. However, we didn't learn how to create a custom control (but I already know how to do that).

After the silverlight part, we moved on to XNA. Here, those multi-variable calculus concepts which I (sort-of) despise came back to haunt me. As a programmer, I really haven't tried my hand at making games much (with any language or framework), so this part looked a little scary at first. We used a "Cheese Roller Game" as the XNA tutorial material. I think I came out of the XNA part unscathed.  However, I think I really need some more practice with these concepts before I try my hand at making a game to sell in the marketplace.

Now, we are going to break for lunch, so I will be getting part 2 to you later on today. After lunch, we will have some time to play around with what we have learned, and later, we will have a contest to see who can make the best app. Stay tuned for more. I will have some photos available for your viewing pleasure later as well.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone

I would first like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. For Catholics, this really isn't out of the ordinary at all. At Mass, we always have Thanksgiving Day. The word "Eucharist" comes from the Greek, εὐχαριστία, which means "thanksgiving". Granted, today is a day set aside to give thanks to God for all he has given us. This includes the gift of life. After all, we wouldn't exist if our parents hadn't given us life. For us in America, this also includes the freedom to worship as we wish without harassment by the government (although in the future, this freedom of religion could be challenged, but this is another issue altogether that I will leave for another day).

And now for a word on Black Friday and its encroachment onto Thanksgiving. Black Friday has been the Friday after Thanksgiving in which shopping for Christmas begins and many stores have really great deals on merchandise. This year, there are retail stores which have started black Friday specials as early as 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. on Thursday (for those of you which keep 24 hour time, this is 21:00 or 22:00 on Thursday). To me, this is really sad because Thanksgiving Day is a day to spend with family. If you have to leave your leave your family on Thanksgiving Day evening just to go buy stuff, you might want to rethink your priorities and leave the shopping for Friday. There will still be deals at the stores later, so why rush it? Family is much more important than shopping will ever be. You will always have the chance to shop, but you will only have your family for a time, so make the most of that time.

On a side note, the new Mass translations for the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite go into effect this weekend. I hope everything goes well with the execution of the new changes to the words. I am writing a Mass setting for the new translations which, unfortunately, is not completed yet. When it gets closer to completion, I will post a preview on this blog.

If you have any questions or comments on this, I would love to hear them. You may either send them via the comment box below or via e-mail at, and I will answer any e-mail I get at the end of my next article. You can also subscribe to my rss feed or follow me on Twitter (username is @rctechgeek).

Monday, November 21, 2011

Update on Microsoft APPortunity Contest

Well, for everyone who has entered the Microsoft Apportunity contest, the folks at Microsoft have smiled upon you. I have a couple of contest updates that you will like. If you haven't read about the contest before, you can read up here.

The first update concerns those of you who use Azure in your programs. If you use Azure in the program that you publish in the Windows Phone marketplace, not only do you do you get your normal 1 entry, but you also get 1 EXTRA entry into the contest as well just for using Azure in your Windows Phone app.

The second update concerns students and Computer Science professors. If a student publishes 3 programs to the Windows Phone marketplace, he or she gets a FREE phone. If you are a student and you don't have a device yet, this is your chance to get a device for free. If you are a student and you already have a device, this gives you an extra device that you can use for testing your programs out.

Students: this is your chance to shine and make an impact on the mobile world. If you have a great idea, now is the time to really develop it and let the world know about it.

Computer Science Professors: this is a great way for your students to develop that great program idea they have and get some real world experience from it. You could even integrate this contest into your classes by making it a class assignment or for extra credit.

I would like to make it clear that this contest is open to anyone (age 18 or older), not just students.

An important reminder that this contest runs from now until the end of the year, December 31, 2011.

Again, to submit your program to the Windows Phone Marketplace, either click the picture above or go to :

and enter the code:


I wish everyone well in this contest. If you don't have the SDK already, you can download it at: Students can get Visual Studio, needed for development, through Dreamspark.

If you are participating in the contest and/or you would like to hang a contest poster at your work or school to promote the contest, you may download it below (clicking on the image opens the poster pdf in a new window):

To help you stay tuned for further announcements, you can subscribe to my rss feed or follow me on twitter (username is @rctechgeek).