Building A Cross Platform App with Xamarin

So, I made an app.  A for real, runs on things app.  More accurately, I followed a little tutorial to make an app, as part of the Xamarin Challenge over at  The app itself is a little weather app, it even includes location based weather and forecasting.  I know this isn’t particularly impressive but I think it’s pretty neat.

Part of the point of the exercise is that it show off the cross platform ability of Xamarin as a development plaform.  The end app uses the same code and runs on Windows 10, iOS and Android.  Unfortunately, I don’t own a MAC or an iOS device to test the iOS code but I was able to run both the Android and Windows 10 versions of the App.  I even ran the Android APK on my Fire Tablet.

I can’t say I learned a ton about how to actually make apps using Xamarin, though I plan to poke through the code provided more later.  What I learned more of was how to trouble shoot Visual Studio, which seems to be a bit more than buggy.  There is a forum set up for people looking for assistance on this contest and there are a lot of issues that all seem unrelated to each other but all related to issues with Visual Studio.

For example, I had issues getting the location based weather to work, until I went through and updated the Android Emulator files and build an emulator that ran on Android 7.  In a later step I found several of the NuGet packages weren’t installing properly, I never really figured out why but I ended up having to add them individually to each of the app platforms rather than the blanket “Install this on all platforms” system.

In the end, I did manage to get through and the app says everything was submitted and accepted.


Sometimes it Just Takes a Reset to Clean up Your Phone

wp_ss_20161101_0007I’m not sure what it is about mobile operating systems, they just don’t always clean up after themselves and seem to be awful about eating up their limited space sometimes.  I can only assume that there is some sort of glitch and a large batch of updates or temporary files don’t get deleted properly.  In Windows or Linux on “real” computer, It’s the sort of thing that I’d easily track down and delete on my own.  Mobile operating systems tend to be locked down way more preventing users from poking around in the system files, or anywhere beyond the basic documents folders really.

A while ago, my wife kept having issues with her Kindle Fire tablet filling up with space.  Even after cleaning off Photos and Videos, which she had quite a few of, there still was never quite enough space.  It’s only 8gig to start with, which isn’t much, so choices for apps and such have to be carefully weighed.  Eventually in frustration I did a factory reset and voila, problem solved.  The “System” block went from close to 6 gig down to somewhere around 3-4 gig, considerably more manageable to be sure.

I had a similar experience on my Windows Phone recently as well.  It kept filling up despite my effort to prune more and more apps.  Eventually it stopped taking screen shots and it had tons of weird freeze ups.  Once again, in desperation, I did a reset.  Now it’s floating around 5 gig of space used (of 8 gig) and I’ve reloaded most of the apps I had previously needed to prune.

It also runs much more smoothly.

This isn’t a process to be taken lightly however.  In my case, I keep most of my data backed up through One Drive or Amazon to my NAS, and Apps can easily be redownloaded (often automatically).  Probably the biggest hurdle I had with my phone was dealing with my 2 Factor Authentication App.  It doesn’t back up or sync since that would be a security issue, and I have a ton of services running through it.  In many cases I simply changed the 2 Factor Auth to run through SMS instead of the App, in others it was easiest just to temporarily disable it.

This all needed to be done before hand.  Many services won’t let you easily disable or change your 2 factor settings without the current codes, for good reason.  If you wipe out your authenticator, you’ll have no way to get those codes.  I had to deal with this first hand after the SD card I was using crapped out on me, taking my authenticator with it.  In at least one case I had to call into support and talk to a person to recover my account.

My suggestion, from doing this some in the past with other devices, start making a list of Apps you want to reinstall.  Then remove them.  This lets you actively track if there is anything like an Authenticator that may need to be dealt with.  After you can’t uninstall anymore apps, start checking whats left, photo galleries, Email, SMS, Call logs, checking for loose ends as you go.

It can be a pain but doing a factory refresh on an ailing space strained device can really help out to clear the cruft that seems to build up around the edges.

The First Full Day of Android…

I think I’ve finally got something I like after rearranging my little icons all over the place back and forth.  I still have not figured out how and if I can rename the single folder I’ve placed on the screen.  Thankfully the pre-installed apps, while not uninstallable, are removable from the main screens.

Of note on tests and discoveries.  At one point I accidentally triggered something called “Car Mode”.  I’ll have to look into how this happened and it took me a second to figure out how to get OUT of “Car Mode”.  This mode is a simplified interface with larger icons for things like voice dial and Maps.  Essentially the idea is you’d put the phone on some mount and interact with it minimally while driving.

As for battery life, I removed it from the charger this morning at around 6:30 when I woke up and plugged it in to charge off my laptop at around 2:30 PM when it alerted me that it was getting low.  Eight hours isn’t too bad though It looks like I’ll want to invest (eventually) in a second charger for the desk at work.

I’ve been getting notifications about tying together “friend accounts”.  Irritatingly it seems to have doubled up my twitter followers.  i wish it would just take the obvious ones and pair them for me.  Guess what phone, is the same person as 

The music player works so far.  I had little trouble with everything it played on random except for MP3s from an Allison Iraheta album I got from Amazon.  Everything else came from Amazon so I’m not real sure what the malfunction is.  I’ll probably just recopy these tracks and see if that fixes it.  The scrobbling works great.

I’m not real sure I like the built in FriendStream app.  It combines Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr together.  I like the Idea but I find it a bit cluttered and hard to follow.  Also I can’t open links directly in it without going to a secondary screen.  Finally I wish it would “remember” where I had left off instead of jumping to the newest items every time it comes up.  I’d rather scroll up into new stuff then scroll down and figure out where I left off.

Today’s installed apps… (I plan to get more detailed on a lot of these later) – In case i feel the need to shop while mobile.  not that i couldn’t go to the website.

Barcode Scanner – This seems useful and it seemed to sort of work on the only barcode I found handy on some granola bars, though it said they cost 40 bucks a box, which is WAAAAY off.

Google Earth – Mostly a novelty.

Google Sky Maps – Because stars are fun.

WCIA’s Mobile App – I saw a short clip promoting this on a local television channel and figured hey, sure.  I have not tested it a ton but if the School closings tab works it’s worth keeping around.  Too bad we’re probably beyond school closing season.

A Handful of Games – I’ll get into this aspect another time.

I also installed another NoAgenda app then proceeded to completely uninstall all three of the apps.  None of them do the most basic thing desired of playing the most recent episode of the show.  I also exported my iTunes Podcast list to the Podcatcher App I’[d installed yesterday.  Basically, now i can download the show (among others) direct to the phone, who needs some lame program.

HTC Inspire – Day Zero

After much debating on which Android phone would be the one i wanted for my carrier (AT&T), I had finally narrowed it down to the Captivate, which my brother has and enjoys, or the iPhone 3GS, which many people have.  Then it was announced that AT&T was getting a second Droid phone that was worthwhile (the first being the Captivate), with the HTC Inspire.  The price was right between my two dilemma price points and it was “newer” than the captivate, though i have not yet compared the actual specs.  Anyway, it was getting a lot of positive buzz up tot he launch so I went with it.  I went with it on it’s launch day, February 13th, 2011. 

Unlike any iPhone launch, there was not a line outside the store.  In fact no one seemed to be promoting the device device in the stores though I’m not sure any of the other customers I overheard were looking for this style of device to begin with.  The store where I had mine had the display model unceremoniously dumped on the counter near the other Droids since the display was only designed to hold 3 phones.   According to the store clerk i was the first person in the area to own one” which is probably true considering what a bustling center of technological activity Central Illinois is, This is ESPECIALLY true in the manufacturing town of Decatur, home of Mark Whitacre.

Anyway, after 3 hours in the phone store, i had my new phone?  Why 3 hours?  Well, that’s a longer story but basically, my wife and I were getting upgrades for her and the kids’ phones.  Also we made some adjustments to our minutes that I’ll probably touch on in a later blog post.

I’m not going to do a full review or anything yet, I’m sure I’ll get to that eventually.  I’m satisfied with it a lot at the moment.  We’ll leave it at that.

Zero day App Installs:

Angry Birds – i know nothing of this game other than it’s name, I figured I should see what the hype is all about.

Final Fantasy VII Soundboard – There didn’t seem to be a real Final Fantasy game available but I did find this nifty musical soundboard.

Foursquare – Because I really should get around to annoying my friends online with pointless “check ins” constantly.

Google Goggles – Take a picture, do a search, I tested it with a book cover with good results, I’ll try it out more and give more thoughts later. – i think i can play music off of this but mostly I want it to Scrobble what I am playing.  I’ll have to get back on how that works out.

NoAgenda App – I was hoping I could get the shows with this but it doesn’t seem to do that.  Mostly it’s just a sound board (In the Morning!).

Nook – So i can read my nookbooks when my Nook it’s available/convenient.

Pandora – Because I like music.

Portal Soundboard – The Cake is a LIE!

Posterous – So i can get my mobile photo blog back in gear.  Also my FoodBlog.

Remember the Milk – So I don’t forget…  something….. I can’t remember now….

Skype – because it seems useful but i never use it.

SSH Droid – Because SSH is for Nerdy Linux hacking and whatnot.

Team Fortress 2 Soundboards for all 9 Classes – Because ENTIRE TEAM IS BABIES!

TWiT.TV – So I can get all my shows in one place.

Google Voice – voice transcribed voice mails sent to my emailbox are better than regular voicemails.

Wardrive – I plan to map out all of the wifi hotspots I come across.

Yelp! – I like this service and figured this will make using it easier.