Xamarin Evolve 2014

This year I decided to go to the Xamarin Evolve 2014 conference. The conference was held in Atlanta Georgia on October 5th through October 10th. I was fortunate enough to attend the entire conference and I learned so much. I have been using the toolset for many years dating back to when it was called Monotouch. The first two days were reserved for training. Xamarin created a great curriculum this year and I really enjoyed the variety. If you are the least bit interested in Cross Platform mobile development in c# I suggest you watch each seminar. Xamarin will have them posted on their website sometime this week.
In addition to the training they also released a few new tools. I was a little skeptical at first but now that I have used them I am really impressed “Good Job Xamarin”. The tools released are Test-Cloud, Insights, Profiler and the Android Player. Yes I know the Test Cloud has been around a while but it’s finally ready for prime time. Here is quick review along with my opinion of each item they released.
Test-Cloud was another great surprise to me. I knew about its existence but never really had a chance to use it until the Conference. With the mini-hacks Xamarin released at the conference I was able to create and publish a test to the Test-Cloud. The entire process worked perfectly and I tested an app on 25 devices all at once. This will make testing new releases much easier and will definitely increase Android testing time. Of course now I will have to create detailed testing scripts for my applications. I know its more work but I believe in the end it will be well worth it.

Xamarin Insights made me very excited. As an enterprise developer, getting feedback on how applications are performing is very difficult. Most of my users lack the ability to provide good feedback regarding application performance. With Insights I no longer need to rely on their description of a bug in order troubleshoot my applications. I can configure my app to transmit exceptions to Insights along with any other additional information I deem necessary. During Alpha and Beta releases I can configure the application to transmit system information at specific points and or times giving previously unattainable data.

Xamarin Profiler will make all of us better coders. The Profiler works seamlessly with Xamarin Studio and after using it for a couple of days I am hooked. You can monitor your memory usage in real time making memory leaks extremely easy to find. The graphical interface is pleasing and easy to work with. The Tree drilldown is very nice and intuitive. I can see this becoming a very popular weapon in the Xamarin Studio arsenal.

The Xamarin Android Player is a welcomed add-on and will definitely give Genymotion a run for their money. It is currently in the first release so don’t expect to see every Android OS offered. I compared the performance to Genymotion and it help it’s own. Since they both use Virtual Box and run as a VM it will be interesting to see where it goes. For now I give it an A+ and cannot wait to see where it’s at in the next several months.

As you can see Xamarin is continuing to push forward and break as many boundaries as they can find. And for now the quality is holding up and I am a very happy supporter. As a side note for those of you that are using the Airwatch MDM solution, Airwatch will be releasing a PCL for Xamarin. It took several of us hounding them but it sounds like they have finally come to their senses.

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iBeacon Technology

I have finally started researching iBeacons and how they can be used in the world. Many companies are trying to create software and sell it as a service to be used with iBeacons. This is simply in my humble opinion a knee jerk reaction to the technology. iBeacon technology is simple to use and custom applications can be created very easily. I created a simple beacon and tracking application in less then 30 minutes. I plan on creating an application that can be used in conjunction with iBeacons to enhance the marketing activities of businesses. This software will be free and will be available on this site. The iBeacon technology in my opinion will revolutionize the customer experience. Of course those who believe they currently have a margin of privacy will resist but in the end I believe the technology will prevail.

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Quest for PPL (Private Pilot License)

This first time I thought about getting my PPL was back when I was eight or nine years old. Ever since that time I had the urge to get it but due to location and life it just wasn’t possible. In August of 2011 I decided to start this project. In September of 2011 I took my first training flight. I must admit that once I was in the air behind the controls my only regret was not doing it sooner. The feeling of being in the air is hard to describe. Many of my friends and family do not understand why I would invest so much time and money into a hobby. My response was easy it’s something I have always wanted to do and the feeling of being in the air is indescribable.
I must admit that once I received the training materials and started the knowledge part of my training I was a little overwhelmed. I quickly learned why so many start the process only to stop halfway through and never pick it back up. I spent countless hours studying and going through demos in order to understand and retain everything. How would have thought that in order to be a private pilot you must know how to forecast the weather? I surely didn’t but now I am glad I can. Of course the hardest part of the knowledge work is remembering what is not published in the training manuals. If it wasn’t for my instructor I would not have known some of the material on the test.
Of course as a Pilot you never quit learning and must be constantly searching for the latest information. I am fortunate to live in a time of Computers and the Internet which makes obtaining this information a simple task. I can only imagine how much the older pilots spent on books and charts just to stay current.
Well after almost a year of training and weather delays I setup my Check-ride in August 2011 and had a very pleasant experience by acing the Check-ride. The Check-ride is basically the same as a driving test with the addition of an oral knowledge exam. The Check-ride lasted about 1.5 hours and was broken down into 30 minute verbal quiz, a 25 minute break then the flying quiz. At the end I received my credentials and have been a Private Pilot ever since. Of course the learning was just getting started. Since that day I have received my High Performance and Complex aircraft enforcement and have just about completed my Instrument License.

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San Francisco Sunset Flight June 2013

Since I was going to San Francisco I decided to try and do a little flying while I was there. A friend of mine had recently done the same thing on one of his trips and the videos and pictures he took were great. I decided to enlist the help of the POA (Pilots of America) to try and find a place to rent an airplane or maybe share a ride with someone. I finally found a place to rent but later learned it would cost over 140.00 dollars to get to the rental airport and back to the hotel. Not to mention the checkout, rental and instructor time (since I was not checked out with their flight facility). I thought all was lost until Kimberly Anne (POA Member) stepped in and helped me out. She is a gem of a person and enjoys flying more then anyone I know. We took off Friday night from Petaluma Municipal around 7:30 and headed toward San Francisco. The air was so smooth and cool the plane climbed effortlessly up to 2500 feet. Kimberly pointed out all the landmarks and checkpoints, which really helped as I flew into San Francisco. When we were close enough to the Bravo (Controlled Airspace) Kimberly called in and spoke those magic words we Private Pilots love to use “Requesting Clearance into BRAVO for …”. Kimberly told me she had never requested this so this was her first non-training clearance. She worked the radios like a champ as we entered the airspace at 3500 feet. Once we were over San Francisco she took control while I did the tourist thing taking pictures and video. I have some great pictures of the sunset and marine layer along with a few videos I will post later. I believe that anyone visiting the California area needs to view it from the sky but not in a jet. You loose so much when your flying that fast. There are several companies that offer tours in GA aircraft. If you’re a pilot then plan your trip and rent a plane. You will definitely be thankful for doing so and if your lucky maybe a fellow POA member can help you out as well. I plan on reciprocating to anyone that makes to the DFW area. Our scenery here in the DFW area is not as majestic as California but we do have some. You can check out some of my night videos on my site once I get them posted.
San Francisco Sunset Flight June 2013
San Francisco Flight Slide Show with Map

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WWDC 2013

With all the IOS development I have been doing recently my employer approved my trip to WWDC 2013 (Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference) held in San Francisco. I waited at my computer checking the site ever few seconds so that I could purchase the ticket quickly. Finally the site appeared and started the process. Thirty seconds later when I made the final submission I received an error from their site. When I re-entered the site I was told the tickets were all sold out. Needless to say I was rather ticked off but later that night I received call from Apple letting me know I had a ticket reserved. So begins the quest for enlightenment.

My enlightenment didn’t start at the conference but at the DFW airport. We boarded the 737 at 6:00PM (an hour late) only to return to the gate thirty minutes later for a galley water leak. Finally around 7:00PM we were on our way with one less bathroom. Luckily this did not have an impact on me but some passengers were really not happy. This is one of the reasons I got me PPL to begin with. It is so nice to just go the airport park your car walk out to the plane, call FSS (Flight Services), run through the checklist and then take off.

On arriving in San Francisco I was immediately welcomed by the pleasant weather. The ride to the hotel was uneventful and the staff was great. After unpacking I decided to go get some dinner so I started walking down the street. I immediately noticed the number of homeless living on the streets. This of course also means that trash and the smell of urine was also present. After watching over my shoulder for a while I found a Denny’s and decided that was good enough for a later dinner. During dinner a homeless person came in and started asking all the patrons for money. This was very disconcerting to me especially when the gentlemen started to get agitated. Luckily the hostess was able to coax him out of the restaurant. I knew then that I was going to miss carrying my Pistol (No CHL reciprocity California).

When Monday finally arrived I made my way down the WWDC and was pleasantly surprised by the cleanliness of the area and pleasant Apple Staff. The conference was great and I learned so much it will take me a couple of weeks to try everything out. The new IOS 7.0 operating system is great and I am currently running it on my iPhone 5. The new MAC OS X (Mavericks) is also very good and has some ground breaking features as well. I will post more once I confirm the validity of each feature and understand them better. Needless to say I already have designs for a few new apps that are sure to please. At least that’s what the Apple Engineers thought.

Monday through Wednesday was pretty much a blur just conference and studying every night. I had planned on flying on Wednesday night but that was canceled do to expense. When Thursday night arrived I was ready for the Apple BASH. The BASH is a party that Apple throws during these conventions to celebrate. This year the entertainment was Vampire Weekend. I have some great shots and video of the conference I will post later. When Friday arrived I was ready to get out of the city and was not very impressed with San Francisco. This did change however when I was offered the right seat in a Cessna to tour downtown San Francisco and possibly land at Half Moon Bay. Read about the flight in my other thread. The trip was a huge success on all fronts and I know have a better understanding of what life in San Francisco is really like. It’s a great place to visit as long as you stay out of Downtown. I will be back to the area one day to really enjoy the sites and airspace. I suggest if you are from Texas visit in the summer. The temperatures are great and you will definitely need a jacket if you are sensitive to colder temperatures. The high for most of the days I was there was 68 Degrees.

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DFW Pilots Meeting

Saturday I met with some of the other members of the DFW Pilots forum for breakfast and conversation at 52F. I really enjoyed meeting the other members and touring their hangars. It’s amazing to me how so many people can share an specific interest and also share others as well. The planes I was introduced to were spectacular and have caused me to rethink the type of plane I want to purchase. Yes, I know, I referenced the aircraft as people. This was intentional since most of these amazing pieces of machinery truly have their own personality. I did not take any pictures this time simply because I did not want to be rude or impose on the members. Hopefully in the future I will be able to so that you can see for yourself what remarkable toys these folks have. I did manage to take a picture of an unexpected site on the way to the airport. Taken Saturday November 24, 2012 on the way to 52F

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Welcome to my little piece of the internet.

As an IT professional I find myself researching many different technologies and platforms.  This site is one of those research projects.  This is the first WordPress powered sites I have created.  My ultimate goal is to test the get a good understanding of what it takes maintain and secure a WordPress site.  I will be keeping this updated and will eventually add some highly customized components.  Enjoy and if you have any suggestions please feel free to drop me an email.

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