Vegas – Day 4 – Magic Mountain (LA)

June 17th, 2011

Today was our first visit to an American theme park together :) We were awake far too early, and yet still managed to leave after our “9am at the latest” decision! After stopping for fuel we made it to Six Flags Magic Mountain without too much difficulty, and collected our tickets.

Worcle Ball at Magic Mountain

Then the day started to go downhill somewhat… our first stop was the Orient Express to get us up to Tatsu quickly… but it was closed. Okay, lets do Revolution since we’re next to it, but nope, that was broken down after a few minutes in that queue. Fine, let’s do X2 since that’s the big, exciting one with long queues and it was still very early and most of the school kids who seemed to be swarming the park had sounded terrified by it! RideHopper, the clever little app Chris has, told us that the queue time was 15 minutes. When we joined it looked like about 30-45 minutes but that was fine by us.

We moved slowly… there were some interesting boards to read and some music, then a guy came out and started asking random quiz questions, got us to sing Happy Birthday to people, generally kept the queue entertained. He made a joke about it being 2 hours till we got on the ride… at least, we all thought it a joke at the time and I’m sure he did too… :( As we stood there, we started to see people in event staff tshirts walk past… then noticed the coaster going round with only one person on it! Then we saw someone in a “Scream If You Know The Answer” shirt and suddenly the wait made sense… *sighs*

We did see the host, Duncan James, walk past a couple of times, but I don’t think that made up for the wait very much! Basically, they sent round two coasters of actual park guests, then there was a 10-15 minute wait whilst they did some filming, then they sent the ride round with contestants (1-3 people) and then another 5-10 minutes before the next 2 coasters of park guests. Repeat for many hours! At least as we got close there were steps to sit on… :(

This was a sucky way to start the day. Every one was totally fed up. They weren’t giving us any information, there was no indication of wait times, nothing to console us for the waste of a quarter of our day doing nothing. Most of the queue you couldn’t even see much of anything, so the wait felt even longer!

The ride itself was pretty awesome! Not what we expected even from the few glimpses you get from the queue, and good fun. More curiosity than thrill as Chris put it. It was not, however, worth waiting over two hours for!

We came off angry and grumpy at the waste of our morning and hunted out something to eat and drink. The cheeseburger was okay and started to help improve the day.

We decided to head over towards Apocalypse and Deja Vu as they were both showing reasonable (35 minute) wait times on Chris’ app, but stopped at Ninja on the way as it was right next to us and looked like a short queue. Apparently it’s “The West Coast’s fastest suspended roller coaster”. The wait was slowed down by people trying to put tiny children on the ride who weren’t tall enough, but quick enough to cheer us up a bit. The ride was pretty good, nothing spectacular but it was in the mild rides section ;) We also stopped at Gold Rusher as that was nearby – the parks’ first roller coaster! It was a run away mine train type ride, but not wooden, and quite a fun ride :)

Next up was Apocalypse. Here our grumpy moods returned as what we expected to be a 35 minute wait turned into 90! The queue looked reasonable, until you realised it was barely moving, and twice the length you could see! Seems they only had one coaster going, so it was managing about 22 people every 4 minutes… this doesn’t get many people through a ride! :( It was the only ride we went on which had any real theming to it, though that didn’t really make an appearance until you were almost at the ride, which was a shame. They could have done a better job of keeping us entertained in the queue if they’d interspersed the adverts on the TV screens with some of the videos we saw later on. It was a good coaster, very fast for a wooden one :) But again, not really worth the amount of time stood still!

Apocalypse

Next up was Deja Vu, which we’d been watching whilst waiting for Apocalypse. The queue was much longer than the app told us again, but because we had a great view of the coaster the whole time, and the queue was actually moving, it didn’t feel so bad (apparently we were there 70 minutes, but didn’t feel so long!) This ride was awesome! :D Totally out of your seat, a fabulous loop, and then reversed! Beautiful views from the top, and great moments of suspense waiting for the drops. Finally there was some smiling and feeling like the day might improve.

Checking RideHopper again we decided to skip past Riddler and Tatsu which were nearby but had hideous ride times, and headed over to the far corner for some coasters with much shorter queues. Colossus came first which was a lovely short queue (about 20 minutes!) and a lovely old wooden coaster :) A long ride with some lovely drops :) It’s a dual track ride, but as is so often the case, only one side was running :(

The exit to Colossus is right by the entrance to Scream, so clearly that was next up :) Another short queue time of about 25 minutes and we were onto a lovely ride! :) Lots of great loops and turns! I think it claimed 7 inversions, I wasn’t counting! ;)

Scream

The next closest was Goliath, we got into the queue then checked the time, looked at the length and re-evaluated since we only had an hour left! It looked like a long queue, whereas others we wanted to go on were down to 5 minutes! So off we went to Revolution instead :) This was the first looping coaster ever built and yet there was quite a lot of ride to go with it! There were some good drops and turns, and an amusing build up to the actual loop! The loop was the kind I like and the ride had you well stuck in your seat! :) There was one rather painful stop thanks to the strange harness, but otherwise all good :)

We went from that one over to Viper which I had spent most of the 2 hour queue for X2 looking longingly at, as it had many awesome looking loops :) A lovely short queue, and then into the back row. The ride was great, lovely loops and a corkscrew :) Unfortunately, the seats could do with some padding! It was very hard and we came off feeling very bashed and bruised! :( Ouchy!

Viper

With only 20 minutes before park closing we dashed up to Tatsu and joined a rather long queue… but they let us in, so we knew we were riding it :) This coaster is like Air, in that it is a flying coaster :) Oh, how I love flying coasters :) It was a very smooth ride – longer, taller and faster than Air :) There was a slight problem with the harness slowly but surely imprinting the car keys into my leg (OUCH!) but the ride was awesome :) A great end to the day! :)

We finished the day with a stop at the closest Panda Express for some dinner. It was horribly busy and noisy, but the food was good :)

I feel a need to rant a little more about Magic Mountain… the rides are good. Very good infact! However, the general guest experience really isn’t. I know the filming screwed up our day more than a normal day (we’ve been checking ride times for weeks so we knew what to expect, and this wasn’t it!) They didn’t handle the filming well. They should have just closed the ride and let them film, then let us ride after, rather than having a whole lot of very angry guests stood in a line all morning!

The park lacks any wait time indicators on most of the rides. By the end of the day they finally had boards up outside a couple of the rides with wait times on, which were changed by hand not electronically so no indication of accuracy! There are no “30 minute wait from this point” signs on the queues like at many other parks. You just had no idea how long things might take! The RideHopper app was our only indication, and relies on other people using it (which thankfully at least a few other people were!)

The queues were mostly very dull. There were a few boards of interesting facts on a couple of the rides, but these were infrequent. A number of the queues lacked much shade (quite thankful the day started rather dreary!) The toilets were not kept very clean. The churro machine was broken so they tempted me with the smell but wouldn’t sell me one!

On the bright side, no one tried to steal Chris’ glasses so he got to see on every ride :)

Vegas – Day 3 – Travelling to LA

June 16th, 2011

First off, something I forgot to mention yesterday was the “amusing” breaking into a safe! Chris brought his money and cards in a little safe, but we left all our keys in the UK. It took rather less time than one might have hoped to break into the little safe… Using a comb and fingers!

Today we managed to sleep through till gone 5 which was good. Had another morning bath, this time with bubbles :) Oddly, having used the bath the first day, we actually got better toiletries the second day, including some bath stuff, but we’d already bought our own!

We then spent rather too long messing with photos and things on our laptops and the plan for an early start kind of vanished! We had a banana and some tasty pecan crunch bars for breakfast in bed, and finally got moving about 10.

We headed over to the nearest geocache so we could mark the Worcle ball as visited. It was a diddy little cache but found pretty quickly once we were looking in the right place (coordinates seemed to be a bit off, but description helped).

Geocaching

On the way back to the hotel (via a detour) we picked up Cinnabon having both decided that the banana had been a long time ago already. Then we checked out and loaded up the car (once we found it!)

We headed over to Palms to make use of their carpark to sit and eat our Cinnabons and stopped in to check for offers, but there was nothing of interest. On our way back the the freeway I noticed the Gold Coast sign pop up something saying “everyone’s a winner on Wednesdays” and so we had to pull in to check.

The promotion was a quick one, needed 200 points for two chances to win anywhere from $5 to some silly amount. So we sat at the video poker and played. I was rather excited when I turned Chris’ $20 into $250!! Though by the time I stopped there seemed to only be $203 left ;) Then got 15000 points in the bonus draw, which is worth some amount of money (can you tell I’m just doing as I’m told in the casinos?) :)

Winner winner!

Finally we got on our way to LA! Though of course, we had to stop at Primm to ride the big coaster on our way past :) Then we had to stop in Baker for the worlds largest thermometer (which isn’t the giant mercury thermometer you imagine and the sign wasn’t even working, bah!)

World's Largest Thermometer

Here we found some Alien Fresh Jerky! The shop was very silly, full of lots of cool things! I’m currently drinking a very nice black cherry soda from there :D

Alien Fresh Jerky! Alien Parking
Awesome Energy Drinks

Then a stop at Taco Bell for some lunch before the long, long part of the driving. There was a lot of desert to look at, and mountains. Though there was more green than I was expecting. We saw the temperature hit 44°C at one point – “That’s halfway to the boiling point of water… Almost” ;)

It got busier as we approached our final destination but we did eventually get to the hotel where we will be for the next 4 nights. It is conveniently next to an IHOP, although they failed somewhat on dinner tonight by interrupting us still eating main to ask if we wanted dessert, and not refilling my drink! Bah!

Dinner at IHOP - my "healthy" salad!

There is a slight problem with the hotel though… Chris’ magic internets isn’t working so we’re using the hotels free wifi which is slow and not allowing mail sending, so we’re feeling a little disconnected already!

Vegas – Day 2 – A First Exploration

June 15th, 2011

Today started rather earlier than it should have done! Chris doesn’t do well with crossing time zones, and was wide awake by 3am. By 4am we were both awake and eyeing up the Luv Tub in the room. It took a long time to fill up, even with tap and shower! At one point we thought it was going to cool faster than it would fill! But eventually it was deep enough to get in, and nice and hot for a good morning soak.

Luv Tub at Imperial Palace

We were out and hunting breakfast by 8am and found our way to Hash House a Go Go which is in the Imperial Palace, so easy to get to. Given the name of the place I felt a need for a hash breakfast and Chris and I decided to share a corned beef hash and a napanee hash. Now, these aren’t what you’d expect in England! There are what I would describe as little roast potatos (though I’m guessing they’re fried?) covered with topping, served with two eggs, a buttermilk scone, and a strawberry (oh, and a piece of melon, but neither of us like that!) My eggs weren’t exactly “over medium”, rather more runny than I wanted, so Chris shared half his scramble with me in exchange. The corned beef was not what we were thinking, seemed to be more like shredded gammon… odd but very nice! The napanee was steak which was very tasty too :) The buttermilk scone was very light and there was a pot of freshly made (this morning!) strawberry jam on the table which mostly ended up smothered over our scones… I mean biscuits ;)

Breakfast at Hash House a Go Go

After breakfast we waddled out of the hotel for a bit of an explore. First up was a wander into Flamingo to have a look at the actual flamingos :) We managed to time it for the morning wildlife presentation and got to learn random things like that flamingos live up to 30 years, and 40 to 50 in captivity and that they suffer duck invaders in their habitat! ;) We took lots of photos of the birds, huge fish, turtles, and waterfalls :) Then wandered round to investigate the pool, but there was quickly security in our way.

Flamingos and Ibis Palm trees and water Can you guess where we were?

After failing to see much of their pool we went over to Caesars Palace to investigate their watery offerings. There was no one about to stop us so we walked straight in and had a good look round the many pools. Looks lovely there so we’re planning to go sneak in again with swimming stuff next time ;)

Caesars Palace A merhorse?!

Then we went to Bellagio hunting for a drink but instead found the conservatory filled with pretty flowers and there was more photo taking! We saw someone having wedding photos with the fountains on behind, but haven’t managed to catch the display yet.

Twisty tree and a balloon

At this point I realised my feet were somewhat sore already so we headed back towards our hotel to get the car (valet parking is slow to get car back!) and then I enjoyed sitting down for a bit whilst Chris drove us over to Walmart. We bought various supplies and then had to find another Walmart with an opticians to fix my glasses (lost a pad first thing).

Next up was a quick trip into Terrible’s to check Chris’ points balance, before heading over to Palms. Here I joined my first players club and watched Chris put money into a video poker machine to get points… because points make prizes as we all know! :) Managed to put through enough money to get the maximum newbie prize which also meant an upgraded card so it’s now purple! :)

Terrible's

Then we headed over to Gold Coast where I signed up for another card and played some more video poker for a free buffet “lunch” (it was gone 4 by this point, so not exactly lunch time anymore!) Of course, it being a buffet we did have quite a few platefuls…

"Lunch" Plate 1 "Lunch" Plate 2 "Lunch" Plate 3 "Lunch" Plate 4 "Lunch" Plate 5

After that we managed to get back to the hotel room in a very sleepy state! I managed to write all of this and argue Flickr and Facebook into behaving before I joined Chris for a good sleep! :)

Vegas – Day 1 – Travelling to Las Vegas

June 13th, 2011

Our journey began at a very sociable 10am with a squish into my Mothers sports car and a drive to Manchester airport. We got through checkin and security quickly and then headed to the BA lounge to partake in free food for lunch.


What does the sign mean?

After a short, easy flight we were at Heathrow and on a hunt for the lounge there. When we finally found one they told us that we need gate B44 (which wasn’t on the board yet) and suggested we head to the lounge there. We finally found a nice quiet lounge and sat down to enjoy a little more free food :)

View of planes from lounge
Planes from the lounge

After a number if packets of mini hobnobs the Worcle ball jumped out of my bag to join in the fun…

"Do I belong in this bowl?"
Do I belong in the bowl?

Then, finally, came the long flight. Although not as long as expected thanks to the wind!
Business class is awesome! There’s so much space and comfy seats, you get fed proper food with proper cutlery! I fear I may never be able to fly in economy again! ;)

We watched Adjustment Bureau first on the media system whilst we got up in the air and then fed “lunch” (at about 5pm!) I had a salad followed by some rather tasty beef and then a chocolate caramel cake with pistachio. Once we’d been fed, we managed to balance the iPad between our lap trays so we could use Chris’ iPad to watch Rat Race followed by a failed attempt at 21 (audio was out of sync) and then Bring it On. Then a couple of Scrubs episodes before they turned the lights back on.

I don’t understand why they were encouraging sleep on a flight which left in the afternoon local time and arrived in the evening local time. That’s just a really long day… Surely having a nap screws up any chance of syncing with local time quickly?

We escaped the airport, found a car (it’s big and blue!) and then headed onto the strip so I could go ooo at the lights which were just turning on.

It’s weird seeing places which I’ve seen in films and on TV. Doesn’t quite feel real even now sitting on the hotel bed able to see Ceasers Palace out the window!

We drove all the way down and then back to Imperial Palace which is our first hotel of the holiday. Valet parking was awkward having come in from the back, and there were quite a few people waiting to checkin, but we got there eventually. Plus, we got a free room upgrade! We have a huge room, or should I say rooms? There’s a lounge area with bar which you walk into, then double doors through to the bedroom with a huge bed and a funky luv tub bath!! It’s awesome!
Plus, we’re on the 18th floor with a strip view! It was cool seeing the neon from our balconies last night :)

View of the strip from our first room View of the strip from our first room
View from our balconies

Once we were checked in, bags in room, and before I totally collapsed, we went down the strip a little to a Chipotle for some dinner. A very tasty chicken burrito later and my stomach was quite satisfied that it was time for bed and so it was back to the room and time for some sleep!

Hanging With Friends – A Rant

June 10th, 2011

Apparently my return to blogging is going to begin with a rant. A rant about Apple and about developers releasing unfinished products. Particularly “respected” developers, or at least, a company you would expect to have a QA process.

I was quite excited yesterday when on my Facebook stream a post appeared from Words With Friends announcing their new game. I’ll admit to having spent many hours playing WWF, and not just so I could chat to my now partner. It’s a well written version of Scrabble which has become an expected app on everyone’s iOS device.

Obviously this meant I was expecting a lot from their new game. Something fun, addictive, skill based, and easy to play. I won’t deny that it ticks some of those boxes, but I still have plenty to rant about.

First up, the app knew I had WWF installed… How? This seems like something they shouldn’t know… Or perhaps I’d just rather I was the only one who knew how many games I have installed? So it told me to log in to Facebook to use the same account, fair enough. It actually used the crazy FB app switching single sign on nonsense which I’ve been avoiding in my code because it looks so strange to users.

I get back into the app and I’m welcomed by the beginnings of a tutorial… It said something about avatars but I have no idea what as at that point the app crashed!
How exactly did this get past a review team? Any review team? Any testing?
Also, it wasn’t just me. Moments later Chris installed and it did exactly the same for him!

So off I go to settings to find an avatar since the tutorial didn’t reappear when I reopened the app. What do I see here but a button marked “Coming Soon”! Now, this is a big no no in the Apple world. We have had an app rejected for a button which said coming soon (and ours was there so that Game Center features were ready as soon as it came to iPad, not something we hadn’t written yet!) There’s a coin store feature coming soon, yet we seem to be collecting coins in game, and have no idea why or what for! It’s odd! It’s also an instant reject for most developers!

20110611-003930.jpg

Then there’s the fact that the tutorial wasn’t quite working. It popped up help about things on my third time doing that action, and there are some things I still don’t understand which I was expecting it to explain.

It seems to get confused when you’re playing multiple people sometimes and I’ve seen it have all the wrong names and words, and not had anything to show whilst replaying guesses. Also, if you tap back during the animation at the end of your turn, it keeps playing the sounds, and then sometimes shows the advert over whatever screen your on… And sometimes it doesn’t! The animations aren’t all that smooth and you have to wait for them to finish before you can play your turn.

Another gripe is the theming. I understand the reuse of the letter tiles even though they look a little odd. I like the use of balloons rather than hanging for this re-imagining of the traditional hangman game. What I just don’t get is why we’re dropping the loser into a pit of lava? If this is a cutesy alternative to hanging someone, why do they meet a gruesome end? And they look horrified about it too, the poor little avatars! Couldn’t we be floating over a paddling pool? A bucket of gunge? Something more child friendly! It’s just unpleasant for no good reason!

20110611-004030.jpg

I also have slight problems with the lack of skill… It’s mostly a game of luck, you guess right, all goes well, you don’t, you fail. There’s very little thought required, which is just so different to their other game, scrabble or chess.

Not only have Apple approved an app which crashes, has obvious bugs, and a big Coming Soon button, they’re promoting it! It’s the Game of the Week! Seriously? How does something this buggy get that honour? It is rather disheartening for us when our games have yet to get any good featuring and we know they’re great!

All that said, I do seem to still be playing the game. It’s quick to play a turn and when I’m not fighting against the interface it has some cuteness. Though I’ll be hoping for an update soon!

If you’d like to play Hanging With Friends or WWF with me, my username is ‘StarlitSkies’.

What game has failed to meet your expectations? How do you feel when an application crashes? Do you persevere if the user interface is clunky?

Word Search Party

October 10th, 2010

I have something very exciting to tell you all about today… my new game! :) Now, I know what you’re thinking, there’s not been a lot of beta testing going on over here, and I have been a bit quiet recently… but there’s been a good reason for that – I’ve been working like a crazy fiend to get Word Search Party finished before “real work” tried to get in the way! ;)

Before you all go “Ugh, another word search game” I would urge you to consider one important feature… that last word, party, and what it might mean. Does it mean an app full of balloons? Alas no, despite Chris’ repeated requests. Does it mean disco balls and wine cocktails? Again, I’m afraid not (though I think a disco ball would be good!) What it does, in fact, mean, is multi player competitive word searching! :D

How does multi player word searching work? Well, you can connect up to four devices together (using Game Center, two if you’re using Bluetooth) and are all presented with the same letter grid and word list. When someone finds a word it is marked as found on all the devices playing. To win the game you need to find the words faster than your opponents :) If you do win, you get to brag on Facebook about it too ;o)

Getting auto matches on Game Center can be a little slow, so when you go and download it (which of course you all will!) and want to try out the multi-player, just add me as a Game Center friend (StarlitSkies) and invite me to a game! :D

Word Search Party also features user generated content :) Within the app you can purchase the creator add-on and then you are able to make your own word lists about whatever takes your fancy! Today I added one all about Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to celebrate the date :) Obviously all the content gets checked by Chris or I to make sure there’s nothing inappropriate being shared… you can write filthy word lists if you want, we just won’t add them to the library ;)

To coincide with the app we also have the Word Search Party website which allows you to create word lists and generate word searches to print and play offline :) The library is shared between the website and the app which means it’s getting bigger and bigger every day! :)

The game is a universal binary and it even includes gorgeous retina display graphics for those of you lucky enough to have an iPhone 4 or 4th gen iPod touch, so it will look beautiful whatever your chosen device! :) Game Center obviously only works on iPhone/iPod touch at present but will be coming to iPad mid-late November so the functionality is there waiting for Apple to let you play :)

So obviously the link you’re all eager to click after all that build up…. Download Word Search Party in iTunes AppStore
It’s a free download with the hope that the adverts will annoy you enough to make you give us 59p ;) Plus, maybe even pay the extra for full library access or the creator add-on :)

If you do go and grab a copy (which I know you will) then please do come back here and comment to tell me what you think, what needs improving, what extra features it might benefit from. You know I’ll read your comments and will always do my best to make users happy :D

Flag Matching Cookies!

August 9th, 2010

To celebrate the release of Flag Matching (available for iPhone, iPod Touch & iPad!) I decided it was time to do some baking! :) We discussed possible cake ideas, but in the end I decided that with cookies and strawberry laces we could recreate the game play! :D

I have recently been browsing the Evil Shenanigans blog for recipes so thought I’d try out their Butter Cut Out Cookie Recipe. It wasn’t a great success to be honest… admittedly I replaced the milk with some double cream I had in the fridge which needed using up, but I don’t think that should have made it too runny? Perhaps my egg was too big? I ended up adding in a lot of extra flour (about another cup) before I got something I thought might roll after chilling. It didn’t! We ended up placing the cutters on the baking tray and smooshing the cookie dough into them to get the shapes! I was a little too frustrated during all of that process to take any photos… but once the cookies came out of the oven I was feeling a little happier with them…


Cooling Cookies

Once cooled I employed some helpers and set about creating some flags and country labels…


Cookie Decorating

I was actually rather impressed at our ability to recreate flags :) The writing of country names was a little harder, especially when the icing ran off and took the names with them. Cayden insisted on writing the names of his countries in their native languages just to make it more difficult! :)


Finished Flags

Once we were finished we cleaned up the icing (which might have gotten everywhere!) and set about recreating the game in tasty cookies…

Ready to Play
Completed!

So that’s how you can recreate a game in cookies! :) What game would you like to see recreated in an edible fashion? :)

Oh, and despite the difficulty in cookie creation, I’m pleased to report they were very tasty…


Tasty Cookies!

Mmmmmm Pie!

July 27th, 2010

My last beta post lacked images, so now that I have some I thought I would share them with you all! The app allows you to create pie charts in a unique way… I’m not going to go into details… instead I’m going to show you some of the strange pie charts people have been creating with the app! :)

If you would like to join in the crazy chart creation then you’ll need an iPad and to register with my blog and send me a message :) Always pleased to have more beta testers along :) Plus, I clearly need more silly charts! ;)

(Note: Spelling mistakes on charts made by their creators, not me! I only made on of these!)

Corn Bread Recipe

July 23rd, 2010

One of my favourite foods to eat and to bake is cornbread. It’s this really tasty, moist, slightly cheesy, slightly spicy, corny bread of awesomeness :) It goes really nicely with chilli or any kind of Mexican food. It’s great cold the next day too, should there actually be any leftovers. I adapted an old, american recipe in a number of ways, a few ingredients replaced with English equivalents, and some quantity adjustments so you don’t end up with random leftovers of yogurt and creamed corn. So without further ado, here’s a recipe for you…

Ingredients
1 & 1/2 cups of yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup of plain flour
3 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs, slightly beaten
200g (small pot) of Greek/Natural yogurt
1 cup grated mature cheddar cheese
1 can (418g) cream style corn
1/2 cup sunflower oil
2 tbsp chopped jalapeño peppers

Instructions
The reason I like this recipe is because it’s really easy. All you need to do is throw everything into a big bowl…

and mix!

You can vary the amount of chilli peppers depending upon your taste (I’ve even made it without any and it was still very tasty!) Once it’s all mixed just pour it into a square pan…

and bake at 190 degress for 45 minutes or until a skewer/sharp knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Serve warm with a bowl of chilli :)

If you try making this recipe please leave me some feedback :) I’d love to know what you think :)

Why I’m Loving iPhone Development

July 10th, 2010

Since leaving Astraware I have been doing a lot of iPhone development and have been gaining an increasing love of it. Which is just strange since I put off starting as long as possible thanks to a dislike of all things Apple. I promise I haven’t become an Apple fangirl… Nothing so dramatic… But I am really loving iPhone development, and here’s why:

Speed of Prototyping & Development
Working with interface builder and the UIKit it is very easy to put together a quick prototype without too much time or effort. It all falls quickly into place, and I’m getting even faster as I become more adept with the various controls. This week I started doing more subclassing of the standard controls which gave lovely results without a huge amount of effort. I also worked out how to control the auto-resizing/movement on rotate so my new iPad app can work in all orientations without argument… Mostly thanks to clicking a few carefully chosen buttons!

Xcode
To start with, xcode annoyed me. All the keyboard shortcuts were different to what I was used to in Visual Studio, I couldn’t find the debugging tools, and, me being me, I seemed to manage to crash it all the time. As time has progressed things have changed – I’ve learnt the shortcuts, the IDE has been updated, and we’re finally getting along. It’s ability to autocomplete makes typing very fast. All its various tools make debugging and leak hunting a lot easier. Plus the simulator is very good, so long as you don’t want to test camera or phone functionality! Apple have really improved it over the time I’ve been using it and I actually quite enjoy using it now!

App Store
As much as I want my app to instantly appear as soon as I have finished it’s creation the app store is a wonderful thing. Being a windows mobile user, I’m used to hunting the internet for new and interesting software. There has never been just one place to go looking which had such a large choice. When I did find an interesting app, there was no guarantee it would run well, or even run at all on my specific device. I know there’s the new market place, but it’s offerings are sparse (or at least, they were thee last time I looked!) and the quality is often still lacking.
The app store gives people, general users who’d never dare download random content from the Internet, instant acces to hundreds of apps. Every app has been checked so they feel confident giving everything a try, even things they might not usually use/play.
So whilst I sit here anxiously waiting for Apple to look at my new game (oh yes, it is a new iPad game I’ve been making!) I can console myself that once it is reviewed, people will trust that it’s safe to play and hopefully some of them will buy it :)

Community
One thing I’ve not had before is use of the internet as a resource for programming. Instead of struggling away with problems on my own, or hassling other team members, I can now just ask the Internet. Any time I get stuck with a bizarre error message, a warning in the console, or just a ui element not behaving how I expect I can just ask Google and since Google knows all, the answer inevitably appears. Stack overflow has saved me from numerous head scratching problems, and various other forums helped when I was trying to do interesting things with multi-touch.

The Devices
I hated the iPhone when it came out. I hated the screen for being touch sensitive rather than pressure sensitive. I wanted a stylus (though I do now have one for my iPad!) and I wanted my accuracy back. I also hated the need for iTunes, but that hasn’t changed! The screen I have become used to, I can be accurate now I’ve learnt to use it, and I can even type! This was mostly written on my iPad!
Apple are putting new technology into the hands of many, those who would never have considered a smart phone before. I find myself recommending the iPhone to those looking to upgrade because of the array of apps out there, knowing that they’ll be happy with the interface (once used to the keyboard) and there’ll be much less tech support for me to do!

So there we go… five reasons why I’m really loving iPhone development. Something I never thought I would say, and the reason why Worcle has been left behind for a while. Maybe I’ll knock up a quick version just for iPhone/iPad instead, I have a feeling it would be a much faster way to get it released than Airplay right now… or maybe my enjoyment will wane soon and allow me back to it. For now, I’m happy with iPhone work and eager to show you my new game (those of you who’ve given my iPad UDID’s should be getting a demo soon if Chris will let me!) :)

What do you love/hate about iPhone development? Are there similar experiences for other platforms which I’m missing out on? I would love to hear your thoughts! :)