Crosseye Jack Part time gamer, Full time Geek


New Skype

Skype released a new version for Android. A change in the new version has killed the the return home feature. Doh. A "Quick Fix" will out out soon and a more permanent fix will be out when I can.

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Open Letter to Microsoft and the Xbox Team AKA So Long and thanks for all the fish…

Dear MS/Xbox,

I've been a long time supporter of your platform. I've owned both your consoles and even multiple 360's due to its failure rate. But lets try and stay on the positive side here shall we. I don't see myself as a Sony or Microsoft person as well if the platform is great and it comes with some good games and well if you have the cash then why not just get both :-) (Along with PC gaming too).

While you weren't the first console to get online support, imo you where the first to do it right. The PS2 had its network adapter add-on but it wasn't core to the system and as it was an add-on only a small subsection of the user base could get online. The dreamcast came with connectivity out of the box but dial up only, ok so broadband back then wasn't was widely adopted as it is today, but gamers who wanted to get on-line most likely had it or at least had machines in the house which could get online, Sega it should've been a ethernet port with the option to add a dial up modem if that was really needed.

The Xbox live for the 360 was (and still is) a great service. So great I would defend the fee that is charged for the service. People would say "But the PS3 has free online...". Well while that's true the PS3 also lacked the great commutation system the 30 had. I could happily talk to one of my friends while playing two different games, Usually convincing the one or the other to join the other game. Heck that is a great poly "Hey, what you doing? I'm having a blast fighting these zombies, why not come and play?" Oh ok. :-)

And then it only got better, you added party chat. The same great feature but with more of your friends :-D Nice... Back in my Left 4 Dead days this was awesome, we could team up, sort out tactics, hunt for a game without having to connect/drop out/reconnect/drop out of chat before finding a game to play. And things were good.

When it came to cost, I would argue and show people that if they should never buy live via the console as its the most expensive way of getting it. It was instant and convenient but like much in life convenience often comes with a price tag.

I would point out that they could go to the local gaming store and pick up 12 (heck most of the time 13 in a 12+1 free) month package as a card for half what they would pay month by month via the console and if they could wait a couple of day they could get it even cheaper online and just wait for the postman. Heck most online places who sell these "cards" today don't even bother wasting the cost of a stamp and just email you the cost on purchase. When faced with the fact that for about £3 a month (pretty much the cost of a single pint) they found it was much more palatable".

Ad's... They never really bothered me too much. They were too in your face, they were nowhere near in your face as most of the ad's on the net, but it was a bit of a kick in the teeth that while we were paying for a service to still get ad's on-top. It would've been nice if gold members had the option to opt-out of the ad's like what happens with Skype (Well they just get blocked, but you get the point) but hey, you can't have everything.

If you knew what you were doing you could block the ad's at a network level if they really pissed you off. I never did because a) I have ad supported content in the wild and its part of my paycheck so I know what its like if people blocked them and cut off part of your revenue stream. b) they were kind of funny esp when you had a microsoft product pushing competitors products on to you (The Samsung Smartphone ads spring to mind). So I never really got on my high horse about the ad's, I saw it as a lesser of two evils when the alternative was raising the cost of gold and with people already bitching about the cost of it I think it would've been a hard sell.

But sadly Microsoft/Xbox, I feel our time together is coming to an end. Sure some part of you will be in my life for the future (Skype, Windows, hell I use your controller on my PC for gaming) as lately I've been using my 360 less and less and when it is in use its used more for video playback then it is for games. We will get onto the games in a minute but for now lets talk video.

You are pushing video with the Xbox One, and I don't really have an issue with that. Hell you can see via your usage monitoring tools that more and more people are using the console for video use. Thats great :-D I too use a lot of video on my 360. I use the Sky Player, Netflix and YouTube. While the only issue I really have with Netflix is how damn addictive it is with that dam "Watch Next Episode" button that shows just as the show finishes, When I should've gone to bed I've actually said to myself "Fuck it, just one more show", which of course lead to two, three, "holy shit its light outside this is really the last one" more shows. The YouTube and Sky Player app's have been lacking. The Sky app was good for a first go. But it feel's dated now. While the content is good the UI needs updating and remote support via smartglass added.

YouTube... Dam you, the Microsoft way of "One good build, one bad build" has come to town. How the fuck am I supposed to watch any of my subscription videos today?, they are order by name and not time. I don't want to watch a video that was uploaded 3 years ago, I want to watch the video that was uploaded 3 hours ago... But there was a work around for that. The YouTube App on my Android Device. I could link the two apps and pick and choose what I want to watch via my device and like magic the TV would start playing it. Oh wonderful :-) I could queue up stuff and all was good in the world. But then you broke something. The link between the tablet and the xbox would drop and on drop you would send the video back to the start... Blahh, ok I can work around this... If I force the YouTube app to stay connected to the tablet all is good. But of a battery killer on the tablet but workable. Oh new build of the xbox app And its broken again. Not as broken this time, the video doesn't jump back to the start but still means I have to poke the xbox app in the right way to reconnect it to the tablet. Ok workable, Oh wait autoplay... And no fucking off switch.... This change is annoying not only do I have to start the next video within a few seconds of the last one but if I don't time starting the next video right then I get audio from the new video but the "What you want to watch next" overlay persists meaning I have to back out and start the process all over again. I could go on about the YouTube app but this part is already far too long and I need to vent about the next topic.

The built in Video Player. This was great, I can stream video I have on my media server to the xbox and I don't need gold either (Oh well I have it for gaming so that point is moot but oh well lets continue). But with limited format support. Thats ok, the media server is powerful enough for on the fly transcoding and support pause, FF, Rewind, etc. I can live with that. But I feel you making it a pain in the arse for people to use. When I show people the streaming options I have set up they are amazed by the fact they never knew about it, but also amazed by the fact that its such a pain in the arse to set up. Heck even using a usb memory device to manually play videos has the gotcha that the console refuses to understand the NTFS File System. UPNP support is Blahhh. Like the Youtube app I can remotely push video from my media server to the console and it will auto start playing :-D Woot. I can pick up my tablet, browse my media collection, choose a video and blammmm "Unable to play", now lets see why... Video Format - check, audio format - check, container format - check... Oh the video file name has a space in it, fuck, rename, play, Yay video is playing... Now the techie can work around these problems but I feel that maybe 5% of your user base would jump through all the hoops to get it working.

Its great your pushing video with the Xbox One but your past performance with it isn't filling me with much confidence, but I will give you the benefit of doubt in this case and just wait and see the tech specs on that front.

Now onto games... The reason I'm spending less and less time gaming on the console is because there are less and less games that are grabbing me and say "PLAY ME" but it is the end of the consoles life so Dev's will be working on the next gen platforms too. Honestly atm the only game i'm looking forward too is GTA and thats because i'm a GTA nut :-p Halo 4 was alright, not groundbreaking but not a pile of crap either.

COD Well Activision have fed it to gamers with a dose of crack and milked it so much that even though i'm urged to play it, every time I do I just feel Meh. Its no longer a game for me. There were a few great titles over the past what... 6 so months. I really liked the walking dead but I thats not a "Much play on console" title. And I've yet to see anything on the Xbox One that interests me. But I think your DRM solution for the Xbox One is fucking nuts.

Forcing me to connect atleast once every 24 hours or I can't play? What if my internet goes down? Yup you have done a great job of keeping xbox live up and running and thats great, but there are still the odd few hiccups here and there, thankfully nothing as long as 24 hours in a long time. But I can tell you that my local service provider isn't as reliable.

I'm still waiting for FTTC. My internet's weakest link and most likely point of failure is the "last mile". Wind as blown down tree's and took out phone lines, Flooding as killed cabinets, cable thief as taken down whole towns heck simple human area at the local exchange has brought down my connection let alone the case of moving home, its very rare to get service activated in less then 24 hours here.

When I swapped to my current provider even though the line was free and clear, already installed and tested. My provider insisted on me using their modem which had to be delivered, checks performed on the line from the exchange and other bits and bobs. From calling to activation was about 12 days. For that time I relied on mobile internet, but I'm a geek, I know how to set that stuff up, I know plenty of people who don't.

If I lose my connection for more than 24 hours I can no longer game until I get re-connected. And with the loss of net Netflix, Youtube, Sky Player and the like are all gone to me and now i'm going to lose gaming as well? Thats just bullcrap. I understand you lost the piracy battle with the 360, but this approach is kind of like bringing your machine gun because you lost the water pistol fight. Its just over the top.

Factor in that no we can't loan games to friends, oh sorry we can but just one friend and we can no longer sell our own games ourselves using the likes of eBay I feel you have just shot yourself in the foot. Don't think just because your the big boys you can't fail. Look at Vista, Yeah it "sold well" as it was bundled on every machine sold :-p but I knew (as I was paid to do it) a lot and I mean a fucking huge amount of people downgraded back to XP and the people who didn't complained about the crappy experience they were getting with it. And look at Sony. Yeah the PS3 sold a fair amount of units, it didn't kill off the brand or anything but they made their mistakes which harmed sales and their public image.

And Indie Dev's... Some of the best titles have come from Indie Devs. In the Xbox Arcade numbers you have released, since its launch Minecraft has been in the top 3 every single time... Its number 2 in the Xbox Live activity listings. A Simple Block Building game started by one man and his hat... You really think dropping Indie support and stopping self publishing is going to encourage people into game dev. PLEASE Stop this.

While I say "Never say Never" and we still only have patchy info about the console, all I have to say is that all the info I'm getting about the Xbox One atm is not shouting at me to say "Buy Me!!!", rather that I feel I should spend the money I would've spent on the console in beefing up my gaming PC. I might get one if a killer exclusive comes out for it and after the first round of price drops. but honestly, atm its not looking good for you.

The best way I can put it is like this. I'm thinking about getting a divorce because I feel that you are not playing fair, you are taking too much out of this relationship without giving enough back. If you honestly want to save our relationship, I suggest we get some couples counseling and see if we can work out these issues. But for now I have my lawyer on retainer.

To end on a good note. I do like the idea of a "digital backup" of titles. If my cat decided that my new game is going to be her new toy then I don't have to worry about it too much. If the disk get killed off then I can just download it and still play. So even though there is things I really don't like there is one thing I do like. The addition of Disk Based Auth sadly means the loss of "Shared Games" and the option to boot a game if the disk is dead. Well I never really had the problem of killing my games anyway. Just use some common sense and look after them. Though I don't fully understand why as the news posting states "Downloaded titles cannot be shared or resold" as they were going to offer that anyway and they still could. Being sold or given away would just remove it from your library, just force an online connection for that functionality, for example an option on the console to "Offer this title for trade in" option on the console, it then connects to MS, removes the title from your library, gives you the code (or whatever you had planned) you can take to your retailer. The option to give a game to someone on you friends list would still need the internet to perform anyway so the online DRM issue for that is moot as will you were online when you sent the game. Blahh just my own thoughts on the matter. Sharing titles is a bit more tricky but you have some smart people, I'm sure you can think of something.

Dan, AKA Crosseye Jack.

UPDATE: MS have changed their DRM policy for the Xbox One, While I appreciate the changes, there are still a few things that bug me about the console as it stands (Indie Support for example). So I'm still unsure if I will get one, but atleast they decided they needed that counseling after all.

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State of Play…

Just a quick update to let everyone know what's happening with Skype Boot v2. Well a lot of work has been happening. Right now v2 has the same functionality of v1 but based on a complete rewrite which should be alot more stable, cover more versions of Skype and Start Skype no matter what version of Skype you need or the version of android your running, be it stock or flavoured.

I want to work on the UI some more and then I will start working on the extra features that will be coming in v2 :-) But alot of the hard work is done and basically from this point on when i'm told from people that they are having issues with the current version I will start handing out Alpha/Beta versions of v2 to those people.

But enough of me yapping, its time to get back to work.

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Shhhh. You will jinx it…



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Busy Busy Busy and my time with GiffGaff…

Right. Right lets get the app update news out of the way.
I've been busy. Like really busy. Its 1am right now and i've just come back from a 20 hour day... And its been like that for a while and it will be like that for a few more days. I'm bloody looking forward to a day off.. A 4.2 compatible update (with some other bug fixes) is on its way. I just want a few hours I can set aside to finish it off and fix the issues my beta testers have reported. Its on its way I promise...

Right. Now on to the other news. I have left GiffGaff as my mobile provider. Why? Because of O2.
GiffGaff is owned by the same company that owns O2 (Telefonica). Recently the 3g signal where I live took a crap... thinking it was a little hiccup, I left it a few days for speaking up. At one point I decided to check my postcode on the O2 website and BOOM... for some reason, I used to live in a 3g enabled area but now where I use mobile data was no longer classed as 3G.... (At home, work and friends I use wifi so thats not an issue).

Well I use mobile data for well as you would of guessed it Mobile Data... I was no longer getting this.
NOW. this isn't really a GiffGaff Issue as they have to use the O2 network as the company is owned by the same people who own O2. You live with O2 or your jump ship (which I did).

Now speeds have improved locally after a bucket load of O2 customers complained about the drop in speed, but O2 don't want to hear about the issues GiffGaff and Tesco Mobile (who also use O2) have.
But this was enough for me to jump ship.

In the time I have been with GiffGaff there are atleast 3 major network failures I can recall. 2 of which were O2 issues, which were do do with the database servers they use for subscribers (And even though you pay your money to GiffGaff you are on the O2 database for 1) if you wasn't you wouldn't be connected 2) Legal Reasons). So these 2 outages where not just GiffGaff outages, but O2 outages which had a roll on effect to GiffGaff and Tesco Mobile. But one of these outages was also a GiffGaff failure....

GiffGaff had a flood in its one and only data center... Sorry but as the geek I am, you never NEVER put all your eggs in one basket. GiffGaff's answer to this... Not to put in a redundancy system in another datacenter. But if the shit hits the fan again to just give everyone free calls, texts, mms and data while they fix the issue. Yeah but that never sat well with me.

So finally it comes down to this. If your in a Good O2 connection area and get a fast connection (I rarely ever got faster then UTMS speeds where I used the service) then GiffGaff is the network for you. But because the virtual network is at the whim of O2 (and to be far so is every other virtual network, they are at the whim of the "real" network that powers it) it is no longer the network for me.

so GiffGaff, in words of someone who is no longer with us "So long and thanks for all the fish". Its time for me to port my number away from you and we part ways.

If you ever break the chains of O2, feel free to drop me an email and I might give you another go. But until then... Sorry but there are other providers who charge the same as you and offer me a better connection. A connection like you when you don't get HSDPA+ your wondering why.

Thanks for the almost past year. But like an overly attached girlfriend, its time we parted ways.

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Bloody FireWalls :-p

I "tweaked" The firewall on my server last night in a bit of a rush and didn't fully test it. And you guess it I took out my web and mail servers in the process :-p (Well I didn't take them out but they were only accessible to a handful of ips.)

Doh... All should be back up and running now though.

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Nexus 7

My last project is complete so work can resume on Skype Boot V2 :-). Well I say my last project is done, the prototype is done and being tested and I've come up with idea's for the next prototype but for now that project is on the shelf while I work on Skype Boot. Its time I needed to get off my arse and finish it.

I've just added a Nexus 7 to my lineup of devices. This is so I can also create app's based around the tablet layout. Yeah thats it. It has nothing to do with me wanting one for a small tablet I can take to the pub with me and use as an E-Book reader... :-p

So the next version of Skype Boot will play nice with tablets WOOHOO. But to get it to play nice with the UI I've taken the decision to start again with v2 for like the 6th time :-p but it will look nice and play nice with devices 2.1 and up (The min Android version you need for Skype is 2.1 so I took that as a baseline to build on).

So back to work for me.

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Mail Server issues?

Hi there, The other day I messed something up on my server, I decided it was a good time to test my backup systems. If my back up systems worked then the mistake I made could be fixed in minutes by running a handful of commands instead of an hour or two undoing what I did. So I ran the restore.

Well Everything worked fine :-) Well almost. Since running the restore I have noticed an increase of email to my contact address. I was getting mail but I've noticed an good increase to these addresses. So just a PSA, If you have contacted me recently and never got a reply try sending the mail again. I'm not sure if my spam filter went crazy and were blocking mail or if its just a natural increase in emails.

When I get chance I will go though my logs and check if any mail was blocked that should of come though.

Anyways, I'm working on a hardware project atm (paid work) so Skype Boot has been put on the back burner as well I gotta pay my bills :-p But I will finish it off when I get chance. There is just a handful of features I need to finish and test it on Jelly Bean. I noticed on my own handset the Play Store version seems not to be signing me into Skype, but I think thats a timing issue (something the new version will not suffer from) and I've yet to test the current build of V2 on jellybean because Well I've been busy as hell.

Anywho. just a quick update and a PSA.

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Another Quick update.

OK. I had a issue with my web server which I've been working on. And Thanks to my provider that issue is now sorted. I can now happily get on with my projects :-)

I do have a few other projects other then Skype Boot (nothing I can really talk about right now, Hopefully I will have some news one that soon.) But Skype boot has been sitting on the back burner.
Hopefully I will be able to spend some time on it over the next few days (Well Sat/Sun are planned with the misses :-p) we will see how it goes. I want to get it sorted. I do have a test version on my own device, but I still feel it needs more work, and there is 2 feature I have yet to finish coding before I can give you guys a timed beta to test and then get it pushed to the market :-)

Skype Boot is a labour of love, and sadly I need to arrange my time with things that pay the bills. I wish I could spend a ton of time on my pet projects, but such work takes away from my family life :-( so I hope you guys understand.


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Quick update.

Just a quick update.
I've been busy with a project, which has meant I've not be able to put much time into Skype Boot v2 as I would of liked. :-(

But rest assured that its still on my "to bloody get done" list. But as Skype Boot is a free app (The ad's only brings in a little for the beer fund, and no where covers my time in coding, Skype Boot is a labour of love then done for profit) I have to work on things that actually pay the bills and keep the lights on.

I hope I can get some work done on it soon. I might book Wednesday off and spend it on Skype Boot... That is unless something else gets in the way.


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