Monday, February 27, 2012

iPad 8

A couple things I think combine to make an 8" iPad make sense.

7.85" is the minimum size.  It's smaller than an iPad, but as I'd figured before, as long as the screen is 7.85" in size or more, all the usual controls will be the same size as on the iPhone, so a very usable size.  If it's the same 1024x768 resolution, every iPad app would run fine.

Cheaper.  $299 or $399, it's less than a full size iPad, but smaller screen and less memory (8 or 16GB) so Apple would likely still sell at a good profit.

Where this all fits together is Education.  Apple's recent push has been for iPad textbooks.  This gives a cheaper model for schools to buy--$499 per student is a lot.  I'm sure you'd get a deal as a school buying 100s or 1000s of the smaller iPads.

Steve Jobs famously said that smaller tablets should come with sandpaper to make your fingers smaller.  But going younger in school--everybody DOES have smaller fingers.  My nieces have been playing with iPhones since they were 5...the hard part would be keeping games off so they do homework instead.

(Apple was very smart and focused on High School to start--of course thinking ahead 4 or less years to when all those kids will be in college and would rather keep using an iPad for textbooks rather than switch back to a big pile of heavy books.  The iPad8 goes the other direction, getting kids younger using them in school so they'd move up to a full size iPad when they hit High School.)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Flash Sucks

I suppose this is why Apple banned Flash on iPhone:  My computer was acting slow, so I checked the system status.

In my browser, I have 2 tabs open.  One PAUSED video that is using flash, and this blog writer page.  Flash is using about 20% of the CPU, and over 600MB of memory--to just sit there waiting for me to press Play in a video.  Really??  So pathetic.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

iPad 3

It is a pretty safe bet that whatever will follow the iPad 2 will have a "Retina" screen.  2048 x 1536.  Numbers that will be burned into my brain the same way 320x480, 640x960. and 1024x768 are.

But that implies the iPad 3 should also get a camera that is at least 3MP.  Why?  Because of that screen.  2048x1536 is 3MP!  It would be silly to have a camera that wasn't at least that good a resolution, because Apple is going to want to show off that screen.  The better the camera, the better the pictures will look.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Apple HDTV

Apple HDTV would make more sense as a huge upgrade to the little AppleTV box.  TVs are very long lasting devices, our main HDTV is over 10 years old, and there's still little reason to replace it.  A new one would be far thinner than the big projection TV, but there's no other reason to change.

A touchscreen television would be stupid.  Fingerprints, not to mention that's why we invented the remote control!  I remember having to get up to turn the dial, and that wasn't fun even when there were 13 channels.  Visually, being a foot from a HDTV to touch the screen would be pretty hard to choose and see what you were doing.  No touchscreen TV's please.

But selling a small box that has the smarts for the TV does make sense.  With a cable input and DVR type stuff so it can watch and record live TV--or just be smart and if I COULD have recorded it, let me watch it over iCloud.

OnDemand from the cable company is nice, but channels can be so stupid--I didn't watch the Walking Dead in the narrow window when they thought it would be OK.  I watched the first episode, then by the time I came back only the last few were there.  So I gave up and watched other things...because of that time limit they've permanently lost a viewer.

Siri for voice controls, it wouldn't even need a remote at all much of the time.  A UI just the same as how you have icons for apps now, but they'd be icons for channels or for a show.  ABC/CBS/NBC/Discovery icons, folders for Sports, Movie channels.  It could show a name & picture for each show in the icon on the screen too; the little number in a red circle if there are new episodes.  The ability to add and delete channels and shows from your home screen to move them around as you want would be awesome.  I could setup one page worth of stuff that are the ones we really watch, scroll over for the others.  And just be smart and put the things there that we DO watch.

A little remote like the current AppleTV's would work to make sure something is always there in the room, directional arrows to choose between the menu...but connecting to use any iPhone/iPad would be better.   It could mirror the UI to just tap the channel to use.  (A few arrow presses in a grid would still be fewer than browsing the long list in the current TV)

That sounds like something Apple would do.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Symbol not found: _objc_retain

For some future person Googling (or who knows, maybe in the future we'll all be Binging, or hopefully Burfording).

I wanted a project using a new library that uses ARC to still work on older iOS 4 devices.  Even adding the -fobjc-arc flag to the other linker flags didn't help.
dyld: lazy symbol binding failed: Symbol not found: _objc_retain

In the end I also added to the Other Linker Flags:   -weak_library /usr/lib/libobjc.A.dylib
That DID work to get it running without errors.  Probably could add that other ways, but it worked...

Monday, February 13, 2012

Pawn'd - Graphic Evolution

Our newest game is Pawn'd (for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch).  I was talking to my wife about trying to come up with ideas for games, interesting mash-ups of two unique games and said something like "Like mixing Bejeweled with Chess.  Hey, that's a pretty good idea."  Shawn is the one that came up with the Pawn'd name, we all jumped on that immediately.

As we were making the game, I'd do screenshots to send to show off graphics and things that Peter was making.  It shows a nice evolution of the art.  The hardest part was getting the gem tiles just right. There's a lot more steps, not everything got a screenshot, but still nice to show the progression.

 We started with it a very chess looking game, but that was way too hard to see what pieces were which.

This was early, before going to just one color.  The thinking was also that you could match 3 of the background gem (like purple pawns), and get a bonus if they were all 3 white or black.  But that made the board way too busy.

Closer, more gem like, we still had it more like a chess game with pieces in different directions...I think we still had the thought here that it would do a bonus if all 3 matched were the same direction.

We pretty quickly ditched the idea of bonuses for the same direction or all black/white.  Even good pieces but reversed was too busy.

We found some great chess character pieces.  Still makes the game to busy like this, but we put these to very good use later. *

We even contacted the person who had drawn them (they were available on iStockphoto) Ryan Burke at and purchased so he would remove them so nobody else can buy them now :)  I think that was a very good investment.

Shawn drew many of the other graphics, and Pete did lots of piecing together things from Shawn and iStockphoto along with original Photoshop creations.  They did a great job matching up the styles...something you'll see more of in some planned updates.
The first version that's quite similar to what ended up in the game.   The gem background shapes and colors here are what we used.

This set is very good, a version of it may come back as an unlockable set you can use in the game!

But we still love the characters too, so tried other ways to get them to work.  I think in the end we did, but that'll be as an unlockable set in an update as well!

Much better, and some of the other graphics coming in too--these are very close to the final backgrounds for the game, just offset and positioned a little differently in the final game.

And the final version as submitted for version 1.0.  A little more vibrant chess piece icons on the gem tiles (and the bishop one got the little slice out of it.)  And everything else polished up.

Spent a snowy Sunday making a waving banner thing, so the little pause button in the corner and other menus can do a subtle waving flag effect.

Shows how all our bits work together too, Shawn drew the background wood textures for the scoreboard, and Peter made that into layers and overlay shapes so I could put it all up on the screen.
We DID put the characters to good use, they're used as "Poison'd" pieces in the game for one of the game types, and the pawn is used as the icon for the App.

And there are 5 more characters to use for the sequels...

You add some particle fire on top of the shattering-glass effect I created and it all looks pretty sweet!

Friday, February 10, 2012

iCloud Incrementing Only

For our game Pawn'd, we wanted to have the high scores transfer between all your devices using iCloud.  But we didn't want it to mess up, overwriting high scores with a lower value set on another device.

Here is MBCloudNumber.  It's a class to use for writing and reading number values (integer for now, but you could add floats easily.)

// Initialize this in your -applicationDidFinishLaunching
// so iCloud changes are detected and initial values are copied over.
[[MBCloudNumber globalSettings] synchronize];

//To set a value, just pass it in, saying whether it should only increase/decrease 
[[MBCloudNumber globalSettings] setNumber:score forKey:@"HighScore" increases:YES];

//And then it's easy to read values out too. 
NSInteger  highScore = [[MBCloudNumber globalSettings] numberForKey:@"HighScore"];

You'll still need to setup the iCloud Key-Value Store entitlements in your project.