My top 10 free iPad apps

For my 30th birthday I got the new iPad (aka an iPad, why they just didn’t call it the iPad 3, I don’t know).

After a few days playing with it and already owning an iPhone, these are my top 10 iPad apps: (note that this list is for iPad, they are also available for iPhone and most of them for Android.)

  1. Facebook. The one from Facebook is pretty good. I only miss a share button to share stories.
  2. Twitter. I haven’t found a free alternative yet, so for now the one from Twitter itself should do.
  3. Pulse. A great free news reader. You can also include your Twitter and Facebook feed, although I don’t find the way they display it very intuitive. You can also add your Google Reader feeds, but there is a Mark all as read button missing to make is usable for that.
  4. FeeddlerRSS. This is an awesome RSS reader to use with your Google Reader. There is a free and paying version.
  5. Pinterest. Greatly optimised for iPad.
  6. Gmail. The Mail app from Apple works ok, but the Gmail app from Google just works better.
  7. Dropbox. About the only way of sharing files between different non-Apple devices.
  8. WordPress. When you have a WordPress blog or site and want to keep track of your comments or post a new blogpost on the go, this is a must-have.
  9. Jasmine. Since Apple removed the never-updated Youtube app in iOS 6, this is a great alternative. You can download the Youtube app standalone now, but it’s not iPad optimised.
  10. Analytics. To keep up with your Google analytics, this is a great app. Both free and Pro versions available.

There are quite a few more apps I use, but these a the favourites.
I’m still looking for a few good free or almost free games…

Country states lists for United States, Canada, China, Mexico and Brazil

In a recent update of our address database, I had to include the states and state codes for certain countries.
I didn’t find them in an easy to import lists so I decided to share them.

(They are all UTF-8 encoded)

WCF over SSL

WCF is a powerful way to create web services. However getting it to work over SSL can be tricky.
The problem is in the configuration.
After quite some searching I came across this awsome article on SSL for webHttpBinding, but it’ll work for other bindings as well.

Add Multi-line support to OpenXmlPowerTools’ SearchAndReplacer

When editing Microsoft Word files in a web-environment like ASP.NET, the OpenXML API is a must!
I recently needed to create a new document based on a template.
There are to my knowledge 2 ways of doing this:

  • Creating the whole document with code
  • Or creating some template tags and replacing them

Since the latter is easier on the designing part, I chose that one.
I added placeholders in the form of {CustomerName} and {CustomerAddress} to my file and replaced those with the correct values.

Instead of writing a search and replace routine all by myself, I used the awsome OpenXmlPowerTools for this. There is a SearchAndReplacer class in it that does a super job at it.
There is only 1 downside. When your replacement text is multi-line, it comes out at a single line.

This bothered me, since the {CustomerAddress} is obviously more than 1 line of text, so I wrote in the multi-line support.

Download the modified SearchAndReplacer.cs file.

The evolution of the Web

Awsome timeline display of how the internet came to be.

Make Skyrim’s graphics even more stunning

A few days ago a came across this page with links to mods for Skyrim (PC version only).
With them you can upgrade the graphics of an already stunningly beautiful game.
Check it out!

I Am Alive

Just finished I Am Alive and have some mixed feelings about it.

First of all it’s a small game. It has 21 episodes and I played it through in a little over 8 hours in survivor mode (hardest of the 2 modes). Luckily it was only €15 on PSN so it’s actually good value for money.

Story

OK, so something happened to the world. The details are a bit fuzzy, but the cities are destroyed and a big “fog” is hanging in the streets.
You’re a man, Adam, looking for your wife and little daughter who were alone in the city when “the event” happened. While you were on the east-coast, you got injured and it took you a year to recover and walk to towards your beloved ones.
Once there, you have to find your way through the urban jungle. You now and then encounter survivors, both friendly and not so friendly.

Playdynamics

Basically the game is a 3D platform game like Tombraider, however it has a slower pace to it.
The difficulty consists of a very limited amount of resources available, usually only 1 or 2 bullets which are only just enough to get by.
The genius in it is that you only have a set amount of stamina. It will completely and quickly refill when you’re resting, but while climbing or running it slowly burns away.
Also like most platform games, you don’t have a save option. The game automatically saves between episodes. In between you can have some retries when you die, but the amount of retries is very limited as well, depending on the number of victims you help and retries you find.

Thoughts

All in all it was a good game. The ending however, not to spoil it, was a bit disappointing.
Also I didn’t find every survivor (15 out of 20) in the game which makes me wonder what parts I also missed.
The whole scarce resources, limited stamina, 1 shot to kill someone and only human opponents, make the game very realistic.
Maybe a bit short but definitely recommended!

Thoughts on switching to iPhone

I’ve been wanting to switch to a more recent smartphone for a while now.
The big contenders were the iPhone 4S and the Samsung Galaxy S II.
After a lot of comparing and considering the not so shallow price, I can now call an iPhone my own.

My previous phone was a Samsung Preston (S5600), it is almost 3 years old and it dated from before the Android/iOS era.
Don’t get me wrong, this was a trusty companion, but it started to show its age. Especially with social media in mind.

My first iPhone impressions

First on my mind seeing and handling the phone was OMG it’s beautiful, but heavy! The Samsung only comes in at 96 grams vs. the iPhone’s whopping 143 grams. So quite a difference. The glassy surface and metal on the sides do make it feel more sturdy and robust. This robust feeling is continued when you try to open the micro-SIM slot. No fiddling, just a firm push and the tray pops out!
Turning the phone on, it takes about the same time to boot the OS, but once you see the icons, the difference in resolution is amazing!
On to the migration.

The move

Moving from one phone to another is always tricky. In comparison to changing the OS on a computer, phones aren’t as open to access all your data.
First things first, the phone’s contacts.
Most of them were on the SIM, so after getting a new micro-SIM and copying the old’s data over and putting it in the iPhone, about 90% of the contacts were safe. One thing I’m still looking for but don’t know if it actually exists, the iPhone has no option to store contacts on your SIM. The few contacts that were missing, I entered in manually. (This is also a great time to do some cleaning).
Next up were the photos and videos. Since the iPhone has no slot for a micro-SD, I turned to Bluetooth.
Now this I don’t get, any respectful phone has Bluetooth nowadays, including the iPhone. But you can’t do phone to phone copies (unless it’s from iOS to iOS)?!! What’s the deal with that. File transfers is one of the Bluetooth stack’s standards, but not supported. Neither are there apps for it.
Only thing I could find how, was to transfer them using Bluetooth to my PC, then upload them to the iPhone using iCloud. In the end, it worked, but direct transfer would make more sense.

Filling up storage

Now that my data is on the iPhone, I can start with apps, music and games. The typical ones like Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter, Shazam and Wikipedia are a given… now on to finding some more goodies.

Accessorizing

The iPhone only comes with it’s headset, a USB cable and well that’s it. On the way is an HD screen protector and a case to protect the back. Suggestions for any other must-have accessories are welcome.

Merge entity security in CRM 2011

I just had one of those WTF-moments.
I needed a separate security role for people so they could clean up accounts & contacts in CRM 2011. As a result, they needed merge capabilities.

There is a separate privilege for that under the Business Management tab of a security role, obviously called merge.
So I gave the role, read, write, append and append to permissions, besides the merge privilege.
This seemed logical and with it, the user is able to view the account/contact and call up the merge UI.
Up until the point you actually want to do the merge. There you get the nice exception that you don’t have enough permissions to do so.

After some digging around in the trace-logs, it seems you also need the Share privilege on the entity you want to merge.
This absolutely makes no sense, since sharing is used for giving a user permissions on a record to record basis.

So to cut a weird story short, besides the merge privilege, you need at least the privileges in the image below.

Future tech

Some links I still had in my inbox of tech to come in the (near) future.

Completely artificial bird, but unlike previous attempts I’ve seen, this one looks believable and… birdlike.
Of course military and policing surveillance comes to mind.

At CeBit this year Samsung presented a fully transparent and solar powered TV. When this will be commercialized, say hello to auto dimming windows and integration of your TV etc into any glass surface, from mirrors to windows to picture frames and even car windshields (no more projecting HUDs).

And finally how to build your own plasma speaker. It’s totally useless, so why do it? Well, because you can :)