editorial

My annual review (2022) [Editorial]

My annual review (2022) [Editorial]

In the beginning of 2022, I would never have thought of such a turbulent year. After all, we went more or less over the pandemic, and there were at least some positive signs that were sparking some hope. Pretty fast, the year turned into a memorable one, but for very ugly reasons.

Ukraine war

Russia began a war in Ukraine. We all have to battle the consequences of this war. Because of the ongoing war, prices of living have raised in all areas, be it groceries, energy costs and also entertainment costs. No day passes by without getting notified about the horrible things Russian troops are doing in Ukraine. I still pray (and you should too, if you’re into that) for the war to be finally over soon.

Twitter take-over

The second impacting event was the take-over of Twitter by Elon Musk. While he made Tesla a profitable company by focusing on the product outcome and made space travel less expensive with SpaceX, he is currently about to destroy Twitter. While I still was somehow neutral back in April when the deal became more real, I lost hope for my favourite social network the day he fired half of the company’s staff.

At the time of the take-over, I was actively working on my app TwistReader, which was a reader app for Twitter lists. I had already a beta running on TestFlight when things began to turn bad on Twitter. After UniShare (which was in the process of being ported to Android and iOS when it died), I had to take the though decision to let go also this app. I cancelled the domain I bought for the app and shut down all Azure resources already. If someone wants to continue the project, I am open to talk about it.

TwistReader promotional image

This is now the second time I had to stop an app for social media. Ultimately, I decided I will not develop against any of the social networks from now on (even though I have several ideas to improve my social flow).

As we all know, things on Twitter aren’t becoming better. My presence on the bird site serves now solely as a guide to other social media I am active on. I decided to not delete my two main accounts, but to lock them for new followers, and stopped using the service. I am mostly active on Mastodon, followed by LinkedIn (although the later one needs some more attention).

NASA is flying to the moon again

Besides all the negative stuff, there were also some good news for all of us space fans. The NASA finally sent a space-ship to the moon again. They are playing the save game and did an unmanned launch, letting the capsule orbit the Moon and come back to Earth. They made some really awesome photos along the way, and the mission was a full success.

New blog series #CASBAN6

Besides working on TwistReader, I also started to port my portfolio website away from WordPress to a self written website in ASP.NET Core with Razor pages. The site itself is already published, with links to my apps in the stores, but the news section still needs a blog. I evaluated all the options, like existing CMS plugins and other blogging platforms.

In the end, I opted into learning something new by using some bits of what I already know – and I started my recent #CASBAN6 blog series about creating a serverless blog engine on Azure. This is now my main side project.

Other dev stuff

While I am focusing on the serverless blog engine, I also have some libraries I made and use internally for Xamarin.Forms that I need to port to .NET MAUI. Some parts can be easily removed and replaced with Essentials and CommunityToolkit. There is still plenty of code worth porting left, though.

At work, I broke up the internally used libraries to be more modular and finished implementing the service templates that use them. I also continued to push source control management within the team. Besides that, I wrote some interfaces for our customers that took advantage of these things, but needed additional items as well. Over all, I was able to use some of my learnings at work and vice versa.

I also decided to not cancel my Parallels subscription. I used it around 10 time throughout the year, which is not worth paying more than 100 bucks for the yearly licence.

Furthermore, I will use the freed budget to buy a Jetbrains Ultimate licence instead, which I started to use recently. The experience in writing code is far ahead of what Microsoft offers with Visual Studio on Mac, so I guess that’s a good investment.

Sports

If you have been following along for some time, you may know that I only became a non-smoker again (after 25 years of chain-smoking) two years ago. In terms of sports, I took part in three challenges this year (Run4Fun 6,8km, 10km at Winterthur marathon and Kyburglauf 2022 10.3 km (including 425 stairs just at the end of km 10). If you want to follow my running adventures, you can find me here on Strava.

Me running the 10 km at Winterthur Marathon 2022

Outlook into 2023

Next year, the roller coaster continues to ride. I will start a new role in March as a .NET mobile developer at Galliker Switzerland, which is one of the leading companies in logistics. They have a Xamarin.Forms code base and started the transition to .NET MAUI. There will be projects where I will have to do API and Web stuff as well, so this new position will help me to move towards my goal of becoming a full stack .NET developer as well. Another plus is that I am free to choose my preferred IDE – which will be most probably RIDER after my recent experiences with it.

Of course, I will continue to with my #CASBAN6 project as well. As I stated in my last post in the series, the Azure functions part is coming up next. I will have some posts on that topic alone, but I will also keep developing it further until the final product is ready to be used in production.

Besides that, I will start to port my Fishing Knots app to .NET MAUI, which will help me to learn the upgrade process and make the app ready for the future.

In terms of sports, I will continue with running, starting up with a focus on improving my average pace to get permanently below 5 min/km. On top of that, I want to run a half-marathon at the end of the next season. I will give runningCoach another try – hopefully they will be able to import my Strava results correctly this time.

Conclusion

What was your 2022 like? What are you all looking forward in 2023? Feel free to get in contact via my social media accounts or the comments section below.

What’s left is to wish all of you a

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Posted by msicc in 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