jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

And not only is it still unnecessarily complicated, but the WordPress app for Windows Phone has ceased to exist. You can redownload it if you do a web search and find the actual page, but it doesn't show up in Store search, WordPress.org no longer mentions it in their "mobile app" section, and its former home page has been set to "private."

A couple people have asked what's going on, in the WordPress forums, but they either went unanswered or had someone basically tell them "lol you get what you pay for." And disavow all responsibility for it because it's open-source. Or something. Which doesn't make any sense.

I'd say Dreamwidth's looking better than ever right now. And if [personal profile] darael comes up with a decent API for the thing, like they've been talking about, that'll make the whole "Dreamwidth Windows Phone app" thing I've had in mind even better. Especially since the current API apparently doesn't support OAuth, meaning your app has to store people's passwords locally. -_-

IT LIVES

Mar. 20th, 2014 10:43 am
jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

I finally completed my “C# for Absolute Beginners” course at the Microsoft Virtual Academy, and just a few lessons in to the Windows Phone for beginners course we’ve managed to successfully create and deploy our first Windows Phone app!

A screenshot of Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Phone in debug mode, for an application called 'PetSounds,' with the Windows Phone emulator visible in the foreground. On the emulator's screen is an app called 'MY APPLICATION,' with the words 'Page title' below that, and a single pink button marked 'quack.'
Yes, it's a soundboard with only one sound.

We had to tweak BIOS settings to do this >_o but the course and the one error message we got explained what to do pretty well. And after the work we did for GNOME, where we basically wrote code in Notepad and then ran it in a console window, we feel utterly spoiled by Visual Studio. The debug window and the emulator are cluttering it, here, but it’s actually been really easy to figure out and navigate, and it writes so much of the boilerplate code for us and automatically shows us what our app looks like while we’re working on it.

A screenshot of Visual Studio which looks much less cluttered. On the left-hand side is a pane showing the application's layout, and taking up most of the rest of the screen is a code editor showing the XAML for the layout's markup.
It's so pretty.

Here’s hoping we’ll have more to show you all soon!

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

Mormon theology holds that freedom is a product of obedience to Mormon leaders and teachings. The line of reasoning goes something like this:

You can choose to obey and be happy, or you can choose to disobey and be sad. The more you disobey, the more it takes away your ability to make future choices, through chains of addiction and bad consequences. But obeying increases your freedom and opens up new choices to you. So always choose to obey.

Sometimes, disobeying leads to immediate negative consequences. Like being eaten by crocodiles. (Content note: violence, predation, jump scares)

That's why you should only want to have "good, clean, wholesome, Latter-day Saint fun," like these identically-dressed youth. (Content note: cringe-inducing)

You know why they're having fun? Because when you're scared to death that breaking the rules will get you gruesomely eaten, you are freaking desperate for your needs to be satisfied in a way that the rules will allow. (This is also why Mormons marry for all of eternity at 19, after six-week courtships.)

How desperate? This desperate.

A lot of people use Free Software desktop operating systems for reasons that make perfect sense. I didn't. I was a PC gamer and a creative, and the desktop designed to set hackers free left me in chains.

"They cannot help their neighbours"

I had written an entire real-time strategy game in Visual BASIC on Windows 98, using 3d graphics I rendered myself, when I was 16 years old. I always told myself I would learn to do something like that again, this time with completely Free Software. But I never did. Instead I spent years installing and reinstalling distros, and when I finally set out to learn Linux app programming I found that I had to write the documentation myself. Worse, no one else would ever read it.

Add to that the politics, the sexism, the white cismale good ol' boys' network (they call it a "meritocracy"), and the grotesquely rude billionaire in charge of the biggest Free Software OS, and suddenly the cult didn't seem so appealing anymore.

I switched completely over to Windows 8 a few days ago. Immediately afterwards, my laptop got infected with malware when I tried to install a dodgy utility. I knew it was my fault, just like everything bad that's happened to me since I left the Mormon church has been my fault. Has been God's punishment, Satan's having his way with me, spiritual crocodiles snapping their jaws around my neck.

I'm supposed to go crawling back

To the people who shamed me for liking things they didn't, told me to ignore needs that they didn't have, and didn't think it was a problem that pretty much no one like me was making decisions in their world.

But the rest of the world isn't like that. It's okay to like different things. It's okay to have needs that aren't met by one particular church or OS, even if lots of other people like them. It doesn't mean that you're broken or terrible. It doesn't mean you have to sacrifice everything you like, just to make them comfortable. And it doesn't mean you have to give up your dreams, in order to do work that they don't even value.

I'm glad that the GNOME Foundation's sponsors paid me, and that my mentor and the people who left me kind comments encouraged me to develop my skills. I just wish that it'd been the kind of culture that would've chastised the trolls, instead of letting them run loose and say mean, clueless things in the same room and in the same comment threads. And I wish that it'd been the kind of culture that valued newbie documentation enough to have already had it in place, instead of delegating it to an intern years down the road and then promptly burying it.

Microsoft's offering money for apps

And they are all about their app developers.

I have been utterly spoiled by Visual Studio and Windows 8 so far, after I learned to avoid dodgy apps. I have been reading comprehensive tutorials, often written by women, using languages (HTML/CSS/JavaScript) I already know. And I feel like when I learned Visual BASIC that first time, and make something that amazed myself.

I don't know what I'm going to be using or writing a year from now, but I like what I've done so far and I want to keep going. I'll let you all know what happens.

In the meantime, I have at least one story commission to work on, and I've also been working on the [community profile] fursonarpg. We still don't have a start date set, but it's been awesome to see so many people excited about it.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)
This essay compares another platform's user and developer experience to GNOME's, in an attempt to understand how to make GNOME accessible to app developers.

I'm watching a presentation about PlayStation Home given at GDC (Game Developers' Conference) 2010, and what amazes me is how easy it seems to be to make stuff for Sony's version of Second Life. It uses industry-standard 3d modeling software (sadly not Blender), and simple Lua scripts to hold everything together. The guy giving the presentation explicitly said he wanted a graphic artist to be able to try out the developer's kit and have a good idea of what they could make from it very quickly, and at every step there are tons of examples and validators which point out potential problems.

The end result is decidedly niche, since it only runs on the PlayStation 3 and takes forever to load (both Home itself and each "scene" in it). I've personally had a lot of fun with it, though, because it's even easier to play than it is to develop for. If Second Life is like a hardcore custom KDE or Windows 7 desktop (running in classic mode!), Home's more like GNOME 3 in that it's extremely simple to play and easy to control and customize your avatar.

SL makes darned near anything possible, but everything's clicky and difficult, and the end result is like a 3d modeling app crossed with a chatroom with bad lag. Home makes a number of trade-offs versus SL that make it more usable:
  • Your avatar can perform fewer actions, but they're all much easier to select.

  • It automatically sorts your inventory into folders, based on how you wear something or what kind of object it is.

  • Instead of rendering scenes or avatars gradually, it takes up to a minute to load each scene fully, and displays a transparent "ghost" person for avatars which haven't loaded completely yet.

  • Scenes themselves are completely self-contained. They can connect with each other through doors or teleporters, but there is no "mainland" area.

  • There's a dedicated game API for developers who want to make games in Home, which is less flexible than SL's open-endedness but makes it a lot easier to write games.

Very few people use Home or SL regularly, and the ones who do tend to be hardcore fans. In SL's case, the interface turns people off, along with how pointless it feels if you don't have friends there or aren't into kink. In Home's case, the long loading times (worse than other PS3 titles) don't help, plus the fact that it's basically a platform for Facebook-style social games where you play as yourself. Plus the fact that it's only on one game console, and isn't that heavily promoted. All of these factors limit Home's audience.

What Home does, though, it does better than Second Life IMO. Even if you toss out Linden Lab's marketing and take SL for the 3d modeling chatroom it is, it's just plain incredibly clunky to use. You have to really be captivated by it to even learn the basic controls. Whereas with Home, you can pick up a controller and play immediately if you can stand the long loading times. I just wish they'd tell people "you can use USB keyboards" when they log in, because one of my friends didn't know that.

Home's biggest limitations are that, from a player's point of view, it's tied to the PlayStation 3; and from a developer's point of view, it's tied to Sony. You need to be a Sony-approved developer, and pay a few thousand dollars for a dev kit. It's not like SL where anyone can jump in and start designing outfits. And while it's also not a griefer's paradise (with a large red light district) like SL is, there's still a lot of harassment in it.

PlayStation Home: Of the devil?

In the Free Software community, we might say that Home is immoral because of how proprietary it is. Tying your stuff to one platform and company is only one way to limit freedom, though, and Home seems to empower both users and developers in ways that (for instance) OpenSim doesn't. Partly because of the network effects and built-in PS3 audience, but also partly because that's what it was made to do, was be simple and widely accessible.

Learning to write GNOME applications, I was struck by how basic it seemed at its core. That a few lines of code, in a simple language, could create an elegant app. I just had to go through a lot of IMO unnecessary work in order to find out how to make that happen to begin with.

I documented what I learned, with the help of my mentor, but it hasn't been nearly enough. I want the best Free Software desktop to also be the most accessible to novice developers, even those who just want to write apps and aren't interested in "contributing to the community." Because requiring someone to be an established C guru, who fits in on GNOME IRC, in order to start writing apps isn't really that different from Sony's gatekeeping. Not from the perspective of someone who wants to create something and hasn't a clue where to start.

Let's make things better

If anyone's interested in contributing, this page explains how to get started hacking the developer docs, while this page outlines where I want to go with JavaScript's. I don't have a lot of free time to work on it in between using my limited spoons to deal with depression and transitioning, but I'm trying to document things that occur to me, and I'm open to hearing suggestions.

About us

~ Fox | Gem | Rei ~

We tell stories, paint minis, collect identity words, and share them all with our readers. If something we write helps you, let us know.

~ She / her ~

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