Hello (and goodbye) Tumblr, WordPress it is

After years of using BlogEngine.net, I decided I’m tired of hosting my own content and dealing with the lack of themes.

There were many contenders for replacement, but ultimately I settled on Tumblr. It’s easy, let’s me use custom domain name for free and, ever since it got acquired by Yahoo, it seems fast enough.

The only downside was importing content. I was very surprised it does not support BlogML! That’s just crazy. I had to hand code a simple importer in Python. Not a big deal, but still… Unfortunately all my permalinks are gone 🙁
Not the end of the world, since I don’t have that much content.

I guess we will see how it goes. I can always switch to something that gives me more flexibility.

Edit: And so it happened. I didn’t really like the way editing of posts happens on Tumblr, especially that it’s difficult to insert images into text posts. So I decided to switch to WordPress. Still didn’t bother with the permalinks (someday I will remap them), but I’m quite happy for now.

Async keyword alternative

Unfortunately, both MonoTouch and Mono for Android still don’t support the async keyword. Raw TPL is rather inconvenient to use. You have to remember to catch exceptions, return faulted tasks, etc. ContinueWith can also be inefficient due to thread switching.

Today while browsing the interwebs I came across Brad Wilson’s blog post which led me to these two files. TaskHelpers are (no pun intended) very very helpful! The extension methods emulate the await goodness pretty well.

I modified them a little bit. Here is a gist.

Netflix Error Code N8156-6013

My wife came across this mysterious “Netflix Error Code N8156-6013” today and let me tell you – she was not happy. Netflix player keep complaining about DRM and date (which was correct). It took me a good 20 minutes to find a solution. Credit goes to Chad (read his post here). I’m reposting to give the solution more exposure.

The fix after much research is to delete a Playready config file mspr.hds (leftover from the Silverlight 3 version) and allow the Netflix player to re-create the file using Silverlight 4.
The file to delete or rename (probably safer; in case something goes wrong just rename it back correctly)

On Windows XP:
C:Documents and SettingsAll UsersApplication DataMicrosoftPlayReadymspr.hds
or

C:ProgramDataMicrosoftPlayReadymspr.hds

On Windows 7:
C:UsersAll UsersApplication DataMicrosoftPlayReadymspr.hds
or

C:ProgramDataMicrosoftPlayReady (Thanks Jarin)

On MAC:
HD > Library > Application Support > Microsoft > PlayReady > mspr.hds

Don’t forget to restart your browsers!

Hopefully this post will save you time. Once again, credit goes to Chad.

Mo Calc “clone” detected

I was checking up on Mo Calc over at Windows Phone 7 marketplace today and I came across an interesting finance app.

It’s called Loanster. Check out these screenshots below:

Loanster - cheap Mo Calc clone Loanster - cheap Mo Calc clone Loanster - cheap Mo Calc clone Loanster - cheap Mo Calc clone

Despite drawing inspiration from Mo Calc, I am assured that Loanster is a completly legit and independently written app. Its author Tony was nice enough and agreed to tweak the UI in the next version in order to differentiate Loanster from Mo Calc a bit more.

Mo Calc 1.2 released

I finally had some time to release a much-needed update to my free mortgage calculator for Window Phone 7. Mo Calc 1.2 sports a new payment summary page with pie charts to better visualize payments structure.

I also revamped the comparison page. I decided to hide the detailed numbers and only display the monthly and total payments, in order to fit more items on the screen. The details are still available – just click “show details” to expand them.

Mortgage payment charts Side-by-side mortgage comparison New About page

I felt that the amortization table was pretty useless in the previous version. Who wants to scroll through 360 months of rows to see just a bunch of numbers? My plan is to gradually start improving it and making it more user-friendly. Version 1.2 has a “quick jump” capability (alike the people hub in Windows Phone 7) allowing quick hop to a designated year. Click on the year header to activate it.

Amortization table Quickly jump to amortization years Splash screen image

There were also other miscellaneous improvements that made it to this version. Here is the list:

Version 1.2

  • Improved payment summary page
  • Added pie charts
  • Improved amortization table
  • Using large numeric keyboard for number input
  • Added collapsible details for mortgage comparisons
  • Performance improvements and bug fixes
  • New icon and splash screen
  • New About page
Update: Looks like I made a simple “copy and paste” error and both charts are the same. Thank you TheManOfSteel27 for pointing that out. I already submitted an update to the Marketplace. Now just waiting for Microsoft to approve it.

 

Fun Snowflakes

Another weekend, another project. My parents asked me for help getting their website up and running. They finally decided to share our tradition of making paper snowflake cut-outs with the world. It was a neat little project.

My sister digitized all snowflake patterns in SVG format using Inkscape. I wrote a simple script that “stitches” pages together and outputs PDFs. Pretty soon we created several awesome-looking eBooks. Then it was just a matter of putting together a website with a simple store. I used ASP.NET MVC along with a cloud-based eCommerce basket called Cashie. It was super easy – basically a copy-and-paste of a few HTML lines. Cashie still needs to add some features (for example, there is still no way to know that the purchase has been completed), but overall it was a good experience.

FunSnowflakes

But enough about technology. Let’s talk about snowflakes. Making cut-outs is really a great passtime, especially for those cold winter evenings. It’s also easy to get the kids involved. Snowflakes make neat holiday decorations and gifts.

Try it yourself – Visit http://FunSnowflakes.com and download a free sample.