Editorials

Crypto and Blockchain projects & tools (April 2019)

Crypto and Blockchain projects & tools (April 2019)

NOTE: All following project and tools reflect my own opinion and my own experience. This post is not an investment advice or advice to use them. Also, your mileage may vary. Please make sure you also read the disclaimer at the end of this post as well. This post contains affiliate/referral links.

For Users

Mass adoption. If you keep following the crypto and blockchain space, you might have heard this term a lot. At the moment, besides gambling dApps (decentralized applications) on different blockchains, there are only a few real-world products floating around. Let’s have a look at some of them.

Presearch

Presearch is a decentralized search engine that has more than 1 million users (as of writing this), which is quite impressive for a beta product, especially in this special area. Presearch tries to disrupt the dominance of Google (which acts as the gate to the internet for more than 70% of all users).

I have been using Presearch for a few months now as my personal gate to the internet, and I enjoy the aggregation of my preferred search engines. If you look at my start page, you can see all the search providers I have chosen. From Bing, Google to Github as well as iTunes and Spotify, everything gets searched with a click. If you open a new Tab with Presearch, you can filter the search once more. I often use the Presearch engine search, which just delivers the best results for me. I am helping the product to evolve with this behavior, as a little bonus, I get 0.25 PRE(search token) for the searches I perform.

Presearch

Presearch has protection against cheaters (AI powered) in place. I am obviously not cheating to help the product, and my honesty is rewarded with an account level of 9. They have a Chrome extension which sets the current search engine (Desktop) just by installing it. Presearch even has a mobile app (beta, iOS), which is currently not able to connect to your account which I use from time to time. However, as happened with Bing and Google before, I am using their mobile website most of the time on my iPhone.

Brave Browser

If you have been following me for some time, you know that I am a fan of Microsoft. Recently, however, Microsoft turned into a more business-oriented company, leaving the consumer to just go with the products of other providers. This led me to search for alternatives of my personal browser – so I ended up with Brave Browser.

Brave aims to be faster and more private than the default choices users have. Websites store all kind of data in cookies and use trackers to collect data from a user while the later one is browsing the web. With Brave, you get back a good amount of control of the data you are willing to share. Over time, your privacy level will grow again just by using Brave. The browser shows you how many trackers, cookies and scripts were blocked while you are browsing.

Since a few weeks, user can receive rewards for watching ads. Users will be prompted to view ads (mostly short videos), and receive some BAT, the native currency of Brave – which they can use again to reward content creators. This is an opt-in feature, so users always have the choice.

If you have a blog, website or YouTube channel, you can help the project to grow. Register your site/channel as a creator, and use your BAT rewards to tip others and invite them to join, too. This way, knowledge about Brave will spread across the web from all sides.

CoinPaprika

CoinPaprikais a market analysis tool, and it is a powerful one. I discovered the project last summer (shortly after they started). I like it “hot and spicy”, so the name alone immediately called my attention. As I have two or three app ideas that need a service like CoinPaprika, I was happy to learn they have an open API as well, with really generous API rate limits. I am contributing to the project in the form of maintaining a .NET library.

coinpaprika_client

CoinPaprika is somewhat different to other providers, as they do not rely on data of CoinMarketCap (which a lot of services in this area do). Instead, they are pulling in data of more than 250 exchanges on their own, resulting in over 2000 currencies they track. On top, they provide a great oversight on each project (click the coin stats links above to see some samples).

They are also working on a mobile app, which will combine their analysis tools with a non-custodial wallet (based on Trust Wallet’s core). You can get a short overview and register for beta notification at
https://coins.coinpaprika.com/.

AtomicPay

AtomicPay is a non-custodial payment service provider. While there are quite some providers of such services floating around, AtomicPay holds the flag of decentralization pretty high. The service just provides the invoicing infrastructure, while the payment itself is only tracked by the system. The effective payment is a direct customer to merchant transaction – the funds move directly into the merchant’s wallet. The whole infrastructure is built around Electrum and its derivations for other currencies.

atomicpay-title-image

By using common implementations like SegWit and HD (Hierarchical Deterministic) wallets as well as no address re-use, AtomicPay ensures security and privacy on a high level with a reasonable amount of initial administrative work. AtomicPay provides several integrations into already existing online shopping systems, an open Rest-API, payment buttons for websites and more.

I am also involved in this project and currently working on the official native apps for Android and iOS. We have already published a .NET SDK, which enables you already today to implement crypto payments into your apps. On our roadmap, we have a Xamarin.Forms ready plugin and SDKs for other programming languages as well.

For Developers

Being a mature programming language, C# has already quite some important and ready-to-use libraries to interact with certain blockchains. Here is a list of projects I am following:

Wallets and Exchanges

If you want to get some cryptocurrencies, you need some starting points:

  • Where to buy?
  • Where to convert/exchange?
  • Where to store HODLs?

While there are several options out there, I have found a combination that works for me.

BitPanda

Buying crypto currencies with bank transfer or credit card is pretty easy on BitPanda, an Austrian provider. They accept deposits in EUR, CHF, USD and GBP. Once your FIAT deposit is in your BitPanda account, you can exchange them for a variety of crypto currencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, NEO and more. If you want to sign up and get a 10 EUR bonus after your first purchase, you can use my referral link (I am getting the bonus as well).

Binance

Binance is one of the biggest centralized crypto exchanges around. They have a huge amount of tradeable assets and also great liquidity. If a trading pair is available on Binance, chances are high that you will get the best price there. Their apps and website offer a good default set of indicators, so you normally won’t need any additional tools. Binance is also said to be one of the few exchanges to not fake their trading volume. If you haven’t signed up to Binance, feel free to use my referral link.

ChangeNOW

ChangeNOW is a decentralized exchange that is connected to big centralized exchanges to get the best rates. On certain pairs, you have a fixed rate option besides the quick-and-dirty approach that all such services provide. However, if you use that one, you will get a smaller exchange value than with the default option because of lowering the risk. In my experience, the exchange rates reflect the current market prices more often than not. Other providers have a bigger spread.

Transactions are executed as fast as possible, if something goes wrong and you provide your wallet for refunds, your funds will always be safe. Additionally, you can provide your mail address to get informed when the exchange took place (so you won’t need to constantly refresh the website).

KyberSwap

KyberSwapis another decentralized exchange, but just for Ethereum tokens (at least at them moment of writing this). It is based on the Kyber protocol, which allows fast and direct swaps of tokens (for example BAT=>KNC) without the need of exchanging first to Ethereum and then into the desired token. There are already quite a few dApps built on the Kyber protocol, you can see a list here. Recently, KyberSwap launched a nice and easy to use iOS app, which supports also a price alert feature (USD and ETH base pairs only, however).

Trust Wallet

Trust Wallet, the official non-custodial wallet of Binance, has a good reputation when it comes to storing your HODLs. It is available for both Androidand iOS, with a desktop version being worked on. They are constantly adding new coins, and the usage is even for new users pretty easy. Their Telegram support group is always just a message away in case you need some help.

MyEtherWallet and MEWConnect

If you want to perform advanced operations (like cleaning pending transactions or getting your *.eth address), there is a big chance that you will be able to do it with MyEtherwallet.

They recently launched a newer version of their website. However, not all functionality has been ported over (yet). If you cannot find an option on the new site, you will find it for sure at their vintage site. The most secure way to connect to MyEtherWallet is their MEWConnect app (available for iOS and Android), which transforms your phone into a hardware wallet-like device. You need to confirm transactions on the device before you can move on in the browser, adding in an additional security layer.

Etherscan

Etherscan is the best known Ethereum blockchain explorer around. It has tons of features, from viewing transactions or contracts to token details and ENS-Lookup. Whenever I need to verify or search something related to the Ethereum blockchain, this is my first goto-address.

O3 Wallet (NEO)

If you are searching for blockchains built with .NET, sooner or later you will run into NEO. I only recently began to explore the possibilities of the NEO blockchain and its native currency. NEO has a token ecosystem as well. IF you need a cross-platform wallet, I would give the O3 wallet a try. It integrates with Switcheo (another decentralized exchange) and quite a few other dApps (like registering your .neo address via NNS) running on NEO.

New projects

The crypto space never stand still. New projects are showing up almost every day. Here is a list of projects I recently started to discover. It is way to early to write a review on them, but I may do so in a follow up post.

  • WolfpackBot (beta, crypto trading bot running on its own blockchain)
  • Bravo (write reviews, receive crypto)
  • Switcheo (decentralized exchange for NEO and ETH tokens, EOS soon)
  • Electroneum (mobile (cloud) mining on its own blockchain, use 5576A9 to get a 1% bonus on your mining rewards (5% for me))

News Sources

It is always good to know what is going on in the crypto space. Here are some reliable news sources I use:

Conclusion

Besides the hundreds (if not thousands) of gambling dApps across all blockchains, there are also interesting real word projects one can use today. Some of them are more popular than others, but not every project is worth your attention. This post showed some of the projects I am interested in.

If you know a project/tool/dApp that is missing in this list, feel free to leave a comment below or ping me on social networks. Maybe your suggestions will make it into the next post of this kind.

Disclaimer: I am contributing to one or more crypto/blockchain projects with code written by me under the MIT License. Future contributions may contain their own (and different) disclaimer. I am not getting paid for my contributions to those projects at the moment of writing this.

Please note that none of my crypto-related posts is an investment or financial advice. As cryptocurrencies are volatile and risky,  you should only invest as much as you can afford to lose. Always do your own research!

Title Image Credit

Posted by msicc in Crypto&Blockchain, Editorials, 0 comments
2018 in review – Focus on Xamarin, RIP UniShare, the rise of crypto and blockchain

2018 in review – Focus on Xamarin, RIP UniShare, the rise of crypto and blockchain

This year, I had some rough time to keep me motivated on writing blog posts. In the early months, I was keeping my target to write about Xamarin Forms and my implementations, but I slowly lost pace around the summer.

Xamarin posts

Within the first half of the year, I was keeping a pretty constant 2 week frame for new blog posts, targeting Xamarin and Xamarin Forms. I touched several topics (some of which may be obsolete since Xamarin Forms 3.x). Here is a short recap:

The rise of crypto and blockchain

Since 2017, I was loosely following the area of crypto currencies and blockchain. This year, however, marks the beginning of a deeper dive into the blockchain area – and of course also into crypto currencies. I am not advising anyone to invest any money into crypto currencies, but there are certain projects out there that are really interesting. Two of them are social networks, similar to Tumblr: Steemit and Trybe. While Steemit is running on its own blockchain, Trybe is utilizing the EOS blockchain. Sadly, the .NET world seems to be widely ignored, so I stepped down a bit from posting on those two. I also tested several other networks running on or with blockchain, but none of them took me like the two mentioned above. If you want to learn more about the crypto currencies/projects I am interested in, just head over to my crypto page.

Open Source

Even if I did not made a lot of sound around it, I have worked on some libraries this year. I am not going into detail on every one, just head over to my Github:

I am currently working on another library (targetting crypto payments) – I will write about it once it is ready to be used in your projects.

RIP UniShare

One of the sadest moments this year was the death of UniShare, my most popular Windows (Phone) app. Long story short, due to some changes Facebook made to their API, I had to take UniShare to its funeral at the end of October. Read more about it here.

Looking forward to 2019

In 2019, I will continue my journey within the crypto/blockchain world. Like I wrote above, I am working on a crypto related project at the moment, which I hope to have ready in the early weeks of 2019. One of my other projects, WindowsUnited, will be taken over by another developer in 2019 (because he can invest more time into their official apps and work form them more ore less exclusively). This will free up some recsources, which I am trying to invest in my other projects and the rise of my blogging pace (again).

Thanks to all of you for reading my posts this year. I hope you’ll be with me in 2019 as well. I wish all of you a good arrival in 2019 and a happy new year once it arrives.

Until the next post, happy coding, everyone!

Posted by msicc in Editorials, 0 comments
Saying Goodbye to 2017 [Editorial]

Saying Goodbye to 2017 [Editorial]

First Half

The first half of the year I wasn’t much into development besides work. I was asked to help building a new German Android news site, which turned out to be an impossible task because of several reasons (high author fluctuation was the baddest thing). In the end, the owners decided to go another route by turning the side into a a site dedicated to Chinese hardware, which is an area I do not have a lot of trust and interest. So I decided to step out of the project and focus again on my software development efforts.

Back to software development (Second Half)

The first thing I was focusing on in that area was to get deeper into web development with ASP.NET Core. I learned a few basics from Pluralsight and started to work on a project that I will (hopefully) bring forward in 2018.

I also got back deeper into cross platform development with Xamarin, especially Xamarin.Forms. As Microsoft killed all mobile efforts in the UWP, this step was one I denied way too long to go. As a logic step  I started with my ongoing series of blog posts about Xamarin Forms and the MVVMLight toolkit. If you missed it, here are the links to the posts:

During the first 8 month of the year, I was running Android as my daily driver. However, I never was really happy with the Android OS (and I am still not), so I decided to switch to the iPhone 8 Plus after its launch. I detailed the reasons why here:

Why I am (once again) using an iPhone [Editorial]

In the last month, I was also looking into some IOT development, and this is were my current focus is. In the next few weeks I have a private project that overlaps with a project at work. I really appreciate it when I can be productive in multiple ways, and those (sadly rare) overlapping projects are just plain awesome to work on.

Private things…

Having a look at my private goals (for those who care), I started with some functional fitness workouts in late summer. I am using the workout app from Skimble, which has some handy video guides and is way cheaper than a gym subscription. In 2018, I want to move on to get even more fit. On top, one of the biggest (and probably hardest) goal is to become a non-smoker. I am hoping that being more active has motivating impacts on the later goal as well. On top, in the last few days I had my first baby steps into meditation as well, but I am still struggling with that one. So, way to go in these parts of my life.

Well, this post is not as long as the ones of the years before, but I really already told you everything that happened this year. To close this post, I wish you all a happy end of the year, an awesome party tonight and I hope to welcome you all again in 2018 here on my personal blog.

Happy new year, everyone!

Posted by msicc in Dev Stories, Editorials, 0 comments
Why I am (once again) using an iPhone [Editorial]

Why I am (once again) using an iPhone [Editorial]

If you have been following along me for some time, you’ll probably know that I used to be a fan of Microsoft and its products (especially Windows Phone) for a long time, and I did really everything possible in the Microsoft ecosystem and promoted it whenever I was able to. Three years ago, no one – not even me –  could ever think of me using anything other than a phone with a Microsoft operating system on it.

Microsoft has changed…

The Microsoft a lot of us used to love is gone. It all started to become really bad for Windows Phone/10 Mobile when Steve Ballmer left the building (aka stepped down as CEO). He was the force behind all mobile efforts, and I think Windows Phone/Windows 10 Mobile would still exist with shiny new devices. However, Mr. Nadella is now the CEO of Microsoft. And as he stated recently in his book (“Hit Refresh”), he never understood why there should be another mobile OS besides iOS and Android (we all know duopoly is as bad as monopoly). All of his actions in the last few years, starting to burn out Nokia from Microsoft and also killing Windows 10 Mobile (even if he never would state that publicly), make sense after knowing this. Nadella’s Microsoft is a business oriented, cloud focused money machine with no more consumer love. Sure, they still have products for the consumer like Groove Music, but they do lack their consumer focus which we all enjoyed when Windows Phone started.

To sum it up, times have changed. The first steps outside the Microsoft ecosystem happened quite some time ago, you can read more on that topic right here:

Editorial: Why the app gap on Windows Phone/10 Mobile is a bigger problem than I thought

After that, I used and reviewed some Android devices for a German news site, and got back into the Android ecosystem by putting some apps (at least as beta) into the Play Store. After more than one year on Android, I see that fragmentation is still the biggest problem out there. It makes developing apps for it a mess, as there are tons of devices that do not behave like you expect when developing with a Nexus or any other plain Google device.

Software updates

Another point which is quite important, is the actuality of software updates. Due to the fragmentation problem and the ability for OEMs to change the whole user experience on Android, this has always been a problem. Google tries to address this problem with the latest Android Version Oreo, but this will not help with all those existing devices on the market that are running Marshmallow or Nougat. Even this year’s flagships are not able to catch up and profit from the new way to handle software updates. I do see a chance that this will change over the next year(s). However, this makes me to not want to spent any money on a recent Android device.

Google’s Pixel (and at least their Nexus 5X/6P) devices are certainly well built, and have a guarantee for getting the latest software updates first. However, they do not want to make me spend my money on them (not even the rumored second incarnation).  Then there is Samsung, which makes premium devices, but my experience with their smartphone has always ended bad – not only for myself, but also along my family and friends.

iOS however is kind of similar to Windows (Phone). iOS devices always get the most recent software, including bug fixes and security updates, because of the closed ecosystem. Their hardware is always from top quality. Even if they are no longer innovating like they did years ago, all features they have are very well implemented. Also, Apple supports their older devices over a long distance, which makes an iPhone a worthier device to invest money in than any Android device – especially in those devices that try to play in the same league like Apple does in terms of prices.

What’s missing?

That’s the point where I was already heavily surprised when I switched to Android. The fact that all those official apps are available on Android and iOS, does indeed make a huge difference. Some apps do have Widgets (on both Android and iOS). Sure, they are no live tiles, but those that I am using do their job in a similar good way, even if I have to swipe to left or right to get them.  On top of that, all Microsoft apps are also available on these two platforms, and most of them do actually work a lot better there than they do on their own OS. So more than a year away from Windows 10 Mobile, I do miss… nothing.

In the end…

… this was a personal decision. I was evangelizing Windows Phone and all other Microsoft products for years, as some of you may know. As they do no longer offer a valid mobile device and are not even able to get close to what Android and iOS have to offer in their ecosystems, I cannot continue to do this. I was on Android for quite some time, but in the end, I decided to go back to the iPhone, which I left a few years ago – you already read the reasons if you reached this point.

Maybe some of you felt the same way I did when moving away from Windows Phone/Windows 10 Mobile? Feel free to start a discussion here in the comments or on social media.

Until the next time, have fun!

Posted by msicc in Editorials, 0 comments

Editorial: Why the app gap on Windows Phone/10 Mobile is a bigger problem than I thought

Note: as this is an editorial, this blog post reflects my own experience and thoughts. You will agree with some points, but disagree with others. Feel free to leave a comment to start a discussion below.

Recently, I received a Nexus 5x as development device for a project I am about to start. As tech enthusiast, I could not resist to start using it as my daily driver.

As you might guess, I started with an install orgy of all the apps I am using on my Lumia 950 XL and set them up. It may be surprising, but I immediately recognized huge differences between the platform versions.

Take the Facebook app for example. Animations are smooth like butter, almost all settings are in app instead of leading to a mobile page, even loading content and scrolling is a whole lot better than on Windows 10 Mobile.

Another example is the Path app. Never been updated since its launch on Windows Phone, I was truly surprised when I opened It on Android. It is an app that really is fun to use on Android. I bet they would have a lot more users on Windows if they align the app… sadly, they abanonded the platform completely a few month ago.

The last example is the WordPress app. It exists on Windows (Phone) for existing users, but the experience on Android is galaxies away from the one the one in Windows (Phone) has/had. I am even writting this post with it, because it feels just right to do this (I only did that once on Windows Phone).

These were only three examples, but they show pretty much how different official apps can be between platforms (and how they are supported). And they all show, that Windows really has no priority anywhere (sadly).
The quality of apps that are available on Windows is not all, though. Of course, I downloaded also some apps that aren’t available for my Lumia 950 XL as well. And it does make a difference.

On my Lumia, I often use the mobile page for things to do/achieve. On Android, I have a whole lot more apps to choose from, so I never had to open the browser for:

  • my mobile carrier
  • my landline & tv carrier
  • the communal page of Winterthur (where I live)
  • swiss auction page of ricardo.ch
  • swiss page tutti.ch
  • Amazon (Bonus: the apps are connected, needed to log in only on one and all others had my account)
  • eat.ch, a swiss food order service
  • Imgur
  • Giphy
  • and more…

Some say a good mobile page is as good as an app. That’s wrong for most cases. A good written app is always handier than a website. On any platform (at least in my experience).

Android app quality has improved a lot in the last two and a half years (that’s how long it took me to deeply test the OS and the ecosystem again). They are equal to the high level on iOS (which I saw also recently, as my son broke out of the Windows world I created at home).

On Windows, we have a lot of third party apps that are trying to fill the gap. I respect those developers (at least those that use legal, public APIs), but it is just not the same. And even on Android (or iOS), there is room for third party apps besides the official ones.

The Android OS itself feels also grown up, and it is difficult to say if iOS or Android are better. It is more a question of who you prefer – Google or Apple.

Microsoft’s Windows (Phone/10 Mobile) is on a good way to get on par. Lots of the functionality is also there. But… as long as the provider of a service, no matter which kind, do not use them (for whatever reason), Windows will never grow up. The Universal App approach is a good idea, and it may pay off one day – or it may be too late already. The recent switch to focus on enterprise users does not really help. Because also enterprise users tend to have only one device. And also enterprise users tend to use apps on their mobile device.

As a WinPhan, writting this honest post deeply hurts. Even more, as I really am thinking about switching platforms for mobile things. Not as a developer, but as a user (at least until Windows has grown up).

Posted by msicc in Editorials, 4 comments

Playing around with Microsoft Hololens

Yesterday in the morning, Alessandro  invited me to join a meetup targeting the Hololens. As the Hololens is very rare outside the US, I just needed to join the event.

When I arrived, already one of the meetup attendees was introduced to the Hololens. After some time, it was then my turn. The first “challenge” one has to take is to adjust the device on your head. The Hololens has quite some weight – it is a full PC you are wearing on your head, so not much a surprise.

After I mounted the Hololens on my head, I needed to start the calibration app. You have to adjust four corners you are seeing on the display. This is quite a challenge, but once you have it done, you’re ready to go.

GianPaolo recommended me to play level one of the space shooter game “Project X-Ray”, to get a better feeling for the device. You may probably know this from various Microsoft demos already (if not, click here). The game first scans the environment, and then you have to shot down all the alien robots that are coming out of the wall. As much fun as it is, it is challenging (at least at my age). Here is a shot of what I (and others) saw:

hololens2

After that, I tried the Galaxy Explorer app. It is amazing, you can zoom in and out of the point of interests in the 3D galaxy map, pretty much like we know already from some science-fiction movies. Here’s a shot of me in action:

hololens1

One thing needs to be clear. The Hololens does no longer interact with any object like we all are used to. It takes user interaction to a whole new level. You’ll have to learn some gestures, like the “bloom”-gesture to open the start menu. But that’s only how you control the device. We all will be able to add our own ways of interaction in our apps (that we will write one day, I bet!). I have already some ideas what I could do (well, also thanks to my kids and wife, tbh). One of them is a holographic version of my first app I ever wrote (which is a fishing knots tutorial app with animated step-by-step guide).

What about you? Do you have ideas for Hololens apps/games? Sound off in the comments, if you want to share your ideas. You can also find more info on Hololens development here on MSDN.

To close this post, I want to thank the team of IBV Solutions for this absolutely awesome opportunity. Thank you, guys!

Posted by msicc in Editorials, 0 comments

Review of 2015–my first year in Switzerland

2015 was once again a year where a lot happened. My year began with the start of a new job – I am now employed as a full time developer at the Swiss Shareholder register ShareCommService AG. The first days in Switzerland where full of trouble, as I needed to start from scratch in a new country. I found a room in a shared appartment, which was quite ok for me alone. Internet, phone, insurance, pass port – these were the things I had to do in the first weeks besides learning all the new things that you usually do when entering a new company.

timerarmvvmAs part of my new job, it was also heavily demanded that I finally get deeply into MVVM. I always read a lot about that, but avoided it because I wanted to get things done in my private projects. My MVVM learning project was a WPF timer app that supports resuming, multiple timers and more. I learned it in the only right way: without any frameworks/toolkits, which helps a lot to understand what is going on. Needless to say that I am happy to be past this point, as we are using MVVM Light a lot in our LOB applications. LOB (Line-of-Business) applications are different from what I have done before. They are used only internally and directly affect our daily business. I also learned more about SQL and databases, and also SignalR took a big part of my learning curve.

I have the luck to learn from Roman Müller, who has a gigantic amount of experience in programming and also has always some funny programming story to tell from his past. Together with Reto, the second programmer in our team, he teached me a lot – not only programming things, but also better ways to analyze and think about situations where you can end in programming. I am really thankful to be part of this team. Our system administrator Stefan, which I like to refer as a ‘BOFH with the heart on the right place’, makes the team complete.

During the year, I participated also in several Annual General Meetings (AGM) of our customers. This was very helpful for me to understand my new job, as we are responsible for all things regarding the votings on their agenda.

My first private project this year was to rewrite Voices Admin as a universal (Windows 8.1) app. Of course I did it as plain MVVM app, and it helped me a lot to get even deeper into it, and also boosted my learning curve in my daily job. I updated my UserVoice library as well to be fully portable in the meantime. Currently, I am working on the UWP version of UniShare.

voices admin

My family stayed in Germany for several private reasons in the first month of the year. Beginning in August, we moved completely to Switzerland. I am happy that we passed this point as my family is very important to me and is giving me a lot of power. I have to thank my wife and also both of my kids for their understanding, as being a programmer is often very time consuming.

I also discovered a completely new area: the Internet of Things. With the Rasperry Pi2 supporting the Windows 10 IoT Core, I played around with it, learned a few new things about building hardware – and build a prototype for internal testings.

raspi2proto

You see, I had a year full of action, and I tried to make this post as short as possible. I am looking forward to 2016, where my developer story will continue. I did also blog only a few things this year, and I am trying to keep things up and post more frequently next year.

For now, I whish everyone all the best for the end of this year and also for 2016!

Posted by msicc in Editorials, 0 comments

Review of a geek’s 2014

We are close to the end of this year 2014, time for a little review.

At the beginning of the year, I was mostly busy with working on my UserVoice library that makes it easier for me and other developers to integrate UserVoice into Windows Phone apps. I also launched Voices Admin, the companion app for the library. I will start to rewrite this library in 2015 to make it a true Universal library for Windows, Windows Phone as well as Xamarin (and make it return objects instead of naked JSON strings).

I also had some troubles with my former hoster, which lead to a total domain chaos and finally ended in January, too. Thanks to Azure Websites, the transition should have been without problems.  At Telefónica, I was busy finishing the internal App “Friends & You” for Android and Windows Phone. I learned a lot using Xamarin for the Android version, and even more about corporate rules and requirements. In the beginning of December, I also finished the iOS variant of the app (using Xamarin.Forms) – which is sadly set to be not launched for the moment (mostly because of my departing of Telefónica).

During the year, we also received the Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview. It removed the ability to cross post on social networks on Windows Phone. As this was one of my most used features, I decided to solve this problem for myself and started to write my own cross posting solution. As some of my followers recognized this, I continued my efforts to a more public and polished version, the result is UniShare for Windows Phone.

ae4dc8ca-2d86-4e36-bf9b-d7c2985a68b1

Since the first WP8.1 Developer Preview, we also have Cortana. Cortana is an awesome piece of software – if you are willing to use your phone with English and US region settings. I tried the UK version as well as the Italian and German version, but was only satisfied with the US one. I truly hope that the other countries will be on par in 2015.

I also updated my very first app ever (Fishing Knots +) to a Windows Phone 8 only version, leaving the old version for WP7 users. Also my NFC Toolkit received some love (and will receive even more in 2015). On top, I started to work on a Universal library for WordPress, which I will also continue to work on in 2015 to make it even better.

One of my saddest geek moments was when the screen of my Intel developer Ultrabook broke shorty before Christmas. As I need to be able working while on the go, I needed a replacement. I found it in the ASUS TP300L Transformer Flipbook, which is an awesome piece of an Ultrabook. On top, Santa (aka my wife) gifted me an HP Stream 7 tablet, that perfectly fits my needs for a tablet use (reading, surfing, playing some games). And so this part also turned well.

The most significant thing happened in September, when I read about a job as a C# Junior developer in Switzerland. I am truly happy about the fact I got this job (read more on it here), and already learned some new things in WPF. Currently, I am also working on my first WPF application, that is a practicing project for my new job I am going to start next year. Which leads me to the end of this short review.

2014 was a year with ups and downs like every year. I had some trouble in “first world” that we were able to solve as family (and friends), but made some good success in my geek and dev world. I am looking forward to 2015, where I am starting a new chapter in my dev story (with becoming a full time developer). But there are also some nice side projects, like maybe porting some apps to Android as well as the Internet of Things, which I am looking forward to dive in deeper. And of course, like any other MS fan, I am looking forward to the next evolutions of Windows 10!

What are you all looking for? How was your 2014? Feel free to comment below.

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Happy New Year, everyone!

Posted by msicc in Editorials, 1 comment

Goodbye Telefónica (Germany), Hello ShareCommService (Switzerland)

Yes, you read that right. Today was my last work day at Telefónica, where I worked since June 2007. During that time, I learned a lot about how good customer service should be, and even more about mobile networks and mobile devices (phones, tablets and more). During that time, I also started my dev story in my spare time – all because there was not a single fishing knots application available for Windows Phone (read more here).

This lead to get recognized also within Telefónica as a developer, and so I was asked to concept and develop the application Friends & You (nope, you can’t download it as it is an internal app).  I learned a lot about how corporate apps aren’t that easy to concept and build during that time, as well as as how restrictive corporate rules can be. After all, I had a few challenges to complete. Thanks to Friends & You, I was also able to dive into the world of Xamarin, where I learned a lot about the application structures of Android and iOS (which will be helpful for eventually porting some of my Windows Phone apps to those two).

I want to say thanks to my colleagues, you´re awesome! Keep up the great work you´re doing in Customer Service.

Back in September then, I opened up my Twitter app and the first tweet I read was this one:

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I opened the attached document and read the job description. As an self-thought developer, I first was about to close it and put it aside as “read and done”.

Due to the head count freeze at Telefónica after acquiring e-Plus from KPN, there are no chances to become a real full time developer within Telefónica for the next time. But that is what I want to do. After reopening the document and reading it again, I decided to get in contact with Roman Mueller (who I knew from Twitter already).

We talked about the job itself and the circumstances behind the announcement. After a few talks and a visit in Switzerland, the decision was made. I am starting the next chapter of my developer story in January, moving to Switzerland, where I will add deeper SQL knowledge, WPF and a lot more to my development knowledge.

At this point, I want to thank ShareCommService and especially Roman for all the help I received already to make this all happen and get started.

It is going to be an exciting journey for me (and my family), and we are ready to go.

Happy coding everyone!

Posted by msicc in Dev Stories, Editorials, 1 comment

Editorial: We are all humans (why racism sucks)

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Last night, the news were full of the decision of the grand jury in Ferguson (USA) (because of a young black man that got killed by a white police officer) and the following riots.  A lot of discussions took place, be it at work or also on social media. The common bottom line: racism just sucks. I normally avoid such harsh words or decorate them with an asterisk, but today I need to write it out.

What is racism?

There are two common definitions for racism:

  • the prejudice that members of one race are intrinsically superior to members of other races
  • discriminatory or abusive behavior towards members of another race

What I learned is that both are closely tied together. If one thinks that his race is superior, it leads to bad behavior against those from the other race.

My Family and me are experiencing this quite often. Being an Italian family living in Germany, we often got discriminated because of this. I do not want to got to deep into details, because drilling into old (and not so old) wounds isn’t helpful for the message of this post. The only comment I am leaving: it can be quite challenging to overcome this.

During our history, a lot of racism took place. Be it the Roman empire or the Spanish conquistadors, the early Americans or the Germans (this could be an endless list): they all have behave racist. This needs to come to an end. No race on this planet is truly superior in all aspects to all others. All races have their own aspect where they are superior to others. But instead of discriminating the other race and search for the point where your race is better than mine, we should look into where we can learn from each other.

We are all strangers here, no matter where we are born or live.

I like how my wife thinks about this:

We are all strangers here, no matter where we are born or live. We don’t own this planet. We are only guests that are tolerated on this planet. Instead of being violent to each other because of different races, we should more collaborate to continue being tolerated at this planet.

She is right. It does not make any sense that we fight against each other because of the color of our skin, our language, our nationality or religion. It does not make any sense to be abusive against each other because a few people scream out loud that they think they are better because of their race. In fact, they are screaming out that they think to be better than everyone, even those of their own race. There will always be people that follow blindly just because they want to live as convenient as possible. But it is up to everyone of us to change that.

I can’t help, but at this point of writing I feel in the mood for “We are the world”. One of the lines is “We can’t go on pretending day by day that someone somewhere will soon make a change.”

Everyone is responsible for his/her behavior.  Everyone is responsible to NOT be a racist.

Everyone is responsible to be a human.

 

 

Image credit: University of California

 

Posted by msicc in Editorials, 0 comments