Issues releasing WinIRC 1.5

WinIRC 1.5 is finally making it’s way to the Windows Store, with a host of new features – the main one being a refreshed UI. However, the release of the application has left much to be desired.

Just over two weeks ago, I pushed the final 1.5 changelog to the WinIRC Github, as I was hoping in the next couple of days the release would be live on the Windows Store. As it turns out, this wasn’t the case – because I hadn’t tested it locally, the Store based certification process marked two issues that needed to be fixed before it would be certified, specifically:

  • The twitter library used had uploaded binaries to NuGet built in debug mode
  • Metadata issues with the UWP MenuBar lib I created

So I fixed the first issue by building a local NuGet package for the twitter library, then tested with the local Windows App Certification Kit (WACK) and my app passed, with no mention of the other metadata issues. So logically, I tried to release it on the store, and it failed the store WACK test with the same errors as last time! I first assumed it was my machine, so I tried it on my tablet and then a Creators Update VM – happened on both.

After trying (and failing) to get help from MS support, I tried last night to rename the filename of the package that was uploaded to the store, as all of the ones I’d uploaded were the default filename. This worked! Although there was still a difference with the store results to my results, I managed to fix the metadata issues with my UWP MenuBar (by importing the source as a c# class library to the main WinIRC source tree) meaning WinIRC passed it’s validation tests.

So what’s next? For WinIRC development, the next step is to refactor the app to properly use an actual design pattern, probably MVVM. I also want to add some scripting support to WinIRC, so users can add their own commands and functionality to WinIRC. For distribution, I want to work on alternative distribution channels for WinIRC and other UWP / AppX applications, so it isn’t entirely centralised in the Microsoft ecosystem, and hopefully so apps don’t need to have a special signed certificate. More on this if I actually manage to make a prototype…

Release of the UWP Menubar Lib

A couple months ago, I posted on Twitter that I’d been working on a menu bar to be used for UWP applications:

A couple days ago, I released the lib on NuGet and GitHub as a prerelease!

Here’s a video demonstration of the library:

Head to the GitHub for a detailed readme and usage docs

New site theme

So today I decided to make a lightweight theme for this website. It’s based upon the starter theme in order to make things easier for me. Although it’s pretty barebones at the moment, I’ll be making it look a bit snazzier over time. For instance, I want to put the site sidebar in a hamburger menu when on mobile devices and other smaller screens. I was going to give it a style similar to Google’s Material Design, then I realised something like that would be absolutely pointless for a blog, so I decided that instead it would just be a reasonably lightweight theme.

Also the blog post on setting up a print server on a Pi is definitely coming soon probably never happening.

It’s been quite a while!

It’s been over a year since my last post – mainly due to the stress of AS levels, and then settling in to a new college. I have at least kept the website up though!

I’m going to start posting more stuff on here – now I’m doing a ICT and Business course at college, there’s some small projects I’m making  in the ICT part of my course as part of my coursework that I may put up here.  There are, of course, be other projects unrelated to my coursework – I may post about them here! One such project with my Raspberry Pi is that I made a print server with it that allows printing across the network with a samba server for windows devices and cups printing for all other devices, which I will post about in the next week or so. I’m also working on numerous improvements to Rymate Notes which may or may not surface.

New release of Rymate Notes!

This is the largest release of my app ever, and thus I’m actually bothering to blog about it.

This release adds a lot of new features, such as formatting notes and a quick edit feature, for when you spot that misspelling in a long note!

Also in this release, I removed support for older devices still on Gingerbread. This was mainly to make development of the app easier, as supporting legacy devices such as gingerbread wasn’t worth the extra effort.



My thoughts on the iPad Mini and iOS, and how I think they can be improved.

So I’ve been using my iPad for a few months now, and although it is a great machine, it has some bad points. Here is my rundown of the iPad mini.

Good points:

  1. The screen is simply the best screen I’ve used on a mobile device. It’s the clearest screen, and it is very good with watching youtube or the BBC iPlayer on it. It might not be a Retina display, but to be honest I’ve never really noticed the pixels when using it. It’s also a really good size – After using the iPad mini, the standard iPads just seem too big now!
  2. The UI is silky smooth. When using apps, I very rarely experience any form of UI lag. Scrolling is smooth, and there appears to be none of the jerkiness that I get with my android phone. The only UI lag I’ve seen is in Bad Piggies when I make some massive huge vehicle in the sandbox, and oddly enough Skitch and Evernote is really quite laggy on occasions.
  3. iPad apps are really well made. I haven’t found a single bad app yet, all of the apps seem to be well designed and easy to use. This might be a huge advantage of the iOS walled garden that seems to be a major complaint about iOS. Sure, you can’t install apps from 3rd party sources very easily, and apps on the app store might have to go through a rigorous process to get onto it, but it does mean that the vast majority of the 800,000 apps on the App Store have a very good user experience.

Bad Points

  1. The typing experience is terrible. I sincerely hate the typing experience on the iPad mini. It isn’t terrible, but there’s quite a few annoyances that I really hate. I quite often type quickly on the screen, and as I have big hands it means I quite often make typo’s, one of the most annoying ones being when I hit the “m” or “n” key when I want to hit the spacebar. When it does happen, more often than not I do it again so autocorrect doesn’t auto correct it. Selecting text on the iPad is a pain too. When I hold down on the screen to select text, a magnifying glass shows up to help you select the text. More often than not though, the iPad “cleverly” attempts to highlight the entire paragraph when I only wanted a single line.
  2. iOS is severely limited. I can’t change any of the “default applications” that Apple forces upon us. I might not want to use safari as my browser, instead I want to use firefox. But Apple thinks all iOS users need is safari, and that alternate browsers are evil. You can’t even download firefox on iOS, and all other alternate browser are either a webkit wrapper or a “cloud based” browser.
    I can’t change parts of the UI either. On android, if my phone came with a crappy keyboard, I’d just install another one off the google play store. I’m stuck with the iOS keyboard. I want to be able to change aspects of my device. I like the idea of Apple’s walled garden, but it’s like a garden which you can get some excellent flowers for, but you can’t change the tree in the middle even though it looks ugly!

How apple could fix the bad points

All apple needs to do to fix the bad points is make the iPad more like a computer. By that, I mean allowing users to change the system keyboard, or change the web browser, or choose what App they want to open stuff in. If Apple doesn’t want users doing that, make it a setting that allows users to turn on “Advanced Customisation” so the average joe can’t just install new keyboards and then not know how to use them.

Other than the bad points mentioned, I think the iPad is a really good device, and I would certainly recommend it to people who already have an Apple product.

Bluetooth keyboard on the Raspberry Pi – A quick guide

So, over the weekend I decided to try and get my Bluetooth keyboard working on the Raspberry Pi. It was originally brought to go with my iPad, however I feel that pairing it with my Raspberry Pi would give it some actual use.


  • USB Bluetooth adaptor that works with the Raspberry Pi
  • Raspbian Wheezy (should work on most other Pi distros)
  • The bluetooth, bluez-utils, blueman and bluez-compat packages installed via apt-get, or your chosen package management tool.


The following steps are the steps I used to pair and subsequently connect a bluetooth keyboard to my Pi. Your mileage may vary.


1. Put the keyboard in pairing mode. Refer to your manual on how to do this.

2. Scan for your Bluetooth keyboard with hcitool scan. This allows you to scan for bluetooth devices. If it works, you should see an output similar to this:

pi@raspberrypi ~ $ hcitool scan
Scanning …
DC:2C:26:03:C0:30       Bluetooth keyboard

In order to pair it, you need the “DC:2C:26:03:C0:30” secion of that output. This differs for each device, as it is a unique device identifier known as a MAC Address.

3. Pair it with sudo bluez-simple-agent hci0 <mac address>. It should give you a pin to enter on the keyboard. Enter it in using the keyboard keys, then press enter on the bluetooth keyboard. If it doesn’t give you a pin, then refer to your manual on what to do.

Your keyboard is paired! But it isn’t connected yet. Here’s how to do that.

1. (Might be optional with your keyboard). Put your keyboard into pairing mode again. I had to do this because otherwise the keyboard wasn’t found.

2. Run the command sudo hidd -i hci0 --connect <mac address>. This connects the keyboard to the Pi.

3. (Optional) Edit /etc/rc.local with a text editor of your choice, and put that command in the file to automatically connect to the keyboard at startup!

If everything went according to plan, you should now be able to use your bluetooth keyboard with your Pi!

Any questions? Ask in the comments!

iPad Mini – An initial review

This is a small post with my thought of the iPad mini having used it for about 4 hours. I’ll write a fully fledged review when I get the time.

The hardware
The iPad has very good build quality. The screen is large for its size. Charger port is quite good as it can be inserted either way.

Initial Setup
Thankfully, you don’t need a computer to set the device up, as mine is broken. Just turn it on, wait about a minute and you’re greeted with a 5 to 10 minute setup wizard.
This wizard was easy to use and follow, and it setup all the basics, such as my iTunes account and wii details. It also managed to restore all the apps, plus settings, from my old iPod touch, via he iCloud service. This, I thought, was useful.

The interface
This thing is very easy to use. Launching an app is a simple as tapping the icon on the home screen. Going back to the home screen is as easy as pressing the circular button on the front of it. You can see open apps by double pressing the home button.
The interface is also very smooth. Launching apps is reasonably quick, and there is no lag when scrolling web pages, unlike on my budget android.

Using it
The apps available for the iPad are very good quality. Unlike Android, the apps seem to have very good quality. They are also very easy to use.
Typing on the iPad is also decent. The keyboard is big enough for me to type comfortably on for long periods of time, such as for writing this blog post. It is also reasonably accurate.

Seems like a reasonable device. It is quick, and easy to use. If you have the money, buy it. Or get a nexus.

Working on a WordPress theme

So I’m working on a WordPress theme. I’m basing it off the default one, and I’m hoping it’ll be an improved version of the default. You can see an early version of it on this site! I’m hoping it’ll include the following features!

  • Two or Three different layouts: a traditional blog layout, a windows 8 style layout, and a combination of both of those.
  • Colour schemes!
  • Animations!
  • More!

If people have suggestions, feel free to contact me.