Comparison of Photos with Lumia 950lx vs Lumia 1020 vs Lumia 1520

This is a very simple test comparing the basic snapshot capabilities of these three phones.  All phones were set on maximum resolution and auto shoot using the basic camera app.

Compare

So all produced good results with my personal preference being for the 1520 (though I find it difficult to tie down my reasoning?)

Zoomed Compare

Zoomed in to the Daffodils in the first picture the clear winner is the 1020 – that might surprise some as it is such an old device – although those ‘in the know’ will already appreciate the benefits of it’s superior hardware.  (Notwithstanding there is a downside to the higher resolution achieved as the file sizes produced by the 1020 are considerably larger should you wish to shoot at this resolution).

 

Summary

So I was curious to know how well the newer Lumias stack up against the  older 1020 with my personal conclusion being that for straight snapshots the 1020 still has the crown.  Of course it benefits from having more time for the engineers to perfect the cameras’ algorithms and I would expect the 950lx to only improve over time.

I found this an interesting comparison and I might follow up with a similar comparison using some common Android and iOS phones (should I be able to get my hands on!)


NB Full Res images can be downloaded from here:

https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=E8560F926A112380!551222&authkey=!AHdC8VZJjRJykTw&ithint=folder%2cjpg

HTC Vive Hands On

So I was lucky enough to try out the Vive this morning, working my way through several ‘experiences’ and ‘hands on demos’.

First things first.  If you have ever looked at a great watercolour or oil painting and thought ‘wow, that is so lifelike’ then you are not far from the same feelings generated by any good VR Headset.  (you might say ‘close but no cigar’). That said, for me, the Vive has come the closest to providing a ‘real life like’ experience.  The unit I tried was connected to a high end PC – which goes a long way to ensuring this like like experience.  For one thing I didn’t feel like I was ‘looking through a mesh windows’ which is the common experience with the otherwise excellent Oculus Rift (DK2).  However, I ‘felt the wires’ a couple of times which also takes one a little out of the experience (one of the advantages of the completely wireless Gear VR Headset from Samsung).

After putting on the headset and headphones I was given the two paddles which consist of a button device and trigger on the underside. 

Demo 1

 

The first demo allowed me to create balloons (colours of my choosing via a spin wheel on the ‘virtual’ button) and launch them off into the surrounding space.  I could hit the balloons with either paddle and their behaviour was very lifelike (I wasn’t able to pop one but maybe that was just because I didn’t have enough time!)

 

 

Demo 2

 

With this demo the paddles became a pallette and brush and I was able to ‘draw in space’ and create what appeared to be solid structures that I could look around and augment from other angles. There were various pens,pencils etc and numerous options to change colours, line thicknesses and textures similar in many ways to those available in a normal 2d style paint package.  The process was very intuitive and I wondered about the possibilities of 3d printing the results (though I am not sure the 3d printers are sophisticated enough to create something that wouldn’t simply fall down in gravity!)  

I’m also not sure what the immediate use of this functionality might be but it proved to be great fun!

 

Demo 3

This was an amazing undersea adventure in which I could walk around the deck of a sunken wreck while viewing the undersea world around me.  This was the demo that for me highlighted a feature of the Vive that I haven’t seen elsewhere as when I walked over to a physical wall in the real world – a virtual wall appeared within the virtual world to stop me going further.  (For this to work in a home environment you would need to set the sensors – the small boxes shown in the first image – around the ceiling/walls of your own home space).  The whale swims majestically towards you and my immediate inclination was to reach out and pat it (Goodness knows what the people watching thought I was doing!)

 

Demo 4

 

This was an interactive demo that required you to pick things up and push various buttons to simulate a typical office environment.  To begin with you are invited to make a cup of coffee which involves picking up a mug, taking it over to the coffee machine behind you, plugging in the coffee machine and selecting your brew!  You then progress to switching on your PC and typing in a simple pin to log in and star work.  Again, a fun demo that suggests the useful potential of simulating real world interactions.

Amazon Prime 4K, Triax THC 22 and the Hisense LTDN65K680M3D 65 Inch 4K UHD TV

Following on from these posts dating back a couple of years the Hisense is well and truly bedded in and in use every day.  As explained previously I really bought this TV (strictly speaking a ‘monitor’ as it doesn’t have it’s own TV tuner) for it’s size rather than as simply a 4K TV – the wow factor came from seeing high definition video on a 65” screen – and that still looks fantastic to this day!  That said, I finally got round to getting a regular streaming source for 4k in the shape of the latest Amazon Fire TV Box .

 

 

Having used the box in 1080p mode for a couple of weeks I decided to see what was on the market to allow me to stream 4k to the Hisense (which, being a little long in the tooth, only supports HDCP 2).  I found the Triax on the CPC website for under £50. 

 

 

 

The Triax is simplicity itself to set up – simply connect the standard USB Power,the output to the HDMI 1 input on the Hisense and the Input to the Fire box and away you go!

Most of the content made by Amazon is available at no extra cost as a part of their PRIME subscription service including the excellent “Bosch” which is one of my favourites.  As luck would have it season 2 is being made available in 4k tomorrow (11/3/2016) and I am looking forward to binge watching this in 4k!

Picture quality is fantastic – but as I said the wow factor for me was really the 65” screen at 1080p – sure it looks better in 4K but for me 4k is simply a ‘nice to have’.

Netflix?  I haven’t tried the Triax with Netflix but would be confident that it would work just as well as it does with the Amazon streamed 4k content.

 

NB I have all my sources, including the output from the Triax routed through an Onkyo A/V Amp (built in 4k support)

Where have your apps gone?

 image

I was surprised to find that the tally of apps I have developed over the previous 5 years or so is close to 300 – an average of an app a week over the period.  I have been asked why I spent so much of my time developing these Apps and although I have touched on this elsewhere in my blog I thought it worth revisiting and explaining why I have taken the decision to remove these apps from the store.

After a lengthy period as a contract developer I made the decision for personal reasons, to close down my business.  This gave me the opportunity to learn about App development and at the same time to consolide my existing web and desktop skills.

Having now made the decision to return to a more traditional role I want to clear the decks and focus on the next stage of my carreer. Correspondingly it no longer makes sense to support the many Windows and Windows phone Apps which I am now in the process of retiring from the store.

Of course that doesn’t mean that if you have one of these apps it will suddently stop working and there is certainly no reason why you shouldn’t continue to enjoy any apps you have for years to come!

As ever you are free to email me about any aspect of any apps that you own!

 

 

Ian

Ian.Walker@WebSurfaces.co.uk

New revenue opportunities for Windows developers?

So I was in two minds as to what the make the title for this blog post but having received the email below from microsoft this morning my immediate take away wasn’t about the ‘new opportunities’ but about the decreased cut of app proceeds imposed on developers.  here is the email:

Adding new revenue opportunities for you is a key priority for Windows Store. To attract more store customers, we recently launched new Windows Store and Xbox gift cards. Gift cards are now available at thousands of new retail locations and online stores in 41 markets. Windows and Xbox gift cards work interchangeably and can be used on both Windows and Xbox stores. Sales associates will promote gift cards to customers who want to give gifts, buy apps without a credit card, or fund a child’s account without the worry of overspending.

With the recent expansion and because gift cards have higher costs due to packaging costs and revenue sharing with channel partners, a Commerce Expansion Adjustment will be added to app and in-app product purchases made with gift cards. The Commerce Expansion Adjustment is an additional percentage on top of the normal Store Fee (percentage of Net Receipts) that is deducted in calculating the App Proceeds payable for apps or in-app product transactions using gift cards.
The Commerce Expansion Adjustment for gift cards will take effect in
specified markets in March 2016 at a rate of 2.24%. Details about how the Commerce Expansion Adjustment is calculated and deducted from App Proceeds can be found in the App Developer Agreement.
Windows Dev Center allows you to choose which markets you publish your apps and how you price them in each market. In doing so, you may want to consider if the Commerce Expansion Adjustment applies in a specific market and factor that into your market pricing strategy going forward.
For further details about the Commerce Expansion Adjustment and the list of markets where it applies see your
App Developer Agreement and Windows Dev Center.
Thank you,
The Windows Dev Center Team

I am sad to see that there is a need to cut developer proceeds in this way.  I have found it difficult to justify the development of apps for Windows and Windows Mobile (in spite of the fact that I have found the process enjoyable and the tooling excellent) and have felt forced into looking at reducing (if not completely eliminating) the time I am able to devote to developing apps for the Microsoft store.

Sad times.

 

Update

image

It is with some sadness that I have decided to withdraw all my apps from the Windows Store.  I felt this was necessary in order  to clear the decks and prepare for future projects.

NB My understanding is that this process will take some time before it is reflected in the non availability of some 300 or so of my apps in the Windows and Mobile Store.

(Easy) Custom Web Tiles for Microsoft Band

My wife leaves for work quite early in the morning and a few times every year has to turn back and take a different route as a result of flooding.  Now that she has joined me in the ranks of ‘Band Wearer’ I thought I would look to see if I could set up any kind of flood notification for her so that she wouldn’t get so delayed.

Here are the steps I took:

 

Having previously come accross this site:

http://www.gaugemap.co.uk/

which covers flooding points accross the whole of the UK.

I picked out the particular point of interest (Haw bridge), which has it’s own twitter site here:

 

https://twitter.com/riverlevel_0030

 

Now, in the good old days getting an RSS eed from Twitter was a straightforward affair but now you have to go around the houses as the API requires a unique identifier for the feed.

I did some searching on the web and came accross this which looked to fit the bill:

 

http://www.labnol.org/internet/twitter-rss-feed/28149/

 

Following these instructions and substituting the above twitter feed I was able to end up with my own RSS feed of Haw Bridge Tweets:

image

Perfect!  Now it was just a question of running through all the steps of the web tile maker here:

https://developer.microsoftband.com/WebTile/ChooseLayout

(Reproduced below)

image

image

badgeIcon(Icon)

… and i was good to go!

 

NB I have submitted the tile to Microsoft, if it passes muster (not sure if the google bit will) then you should be able to load it direct from the gallery using the “Microsoft Health” App on your device.

(See previous web band article here for another ‘getting started’)

Microsoft Fitness Band Web Tiles

 

Microsoft Band

While not strictly fitness  related the Cortana ‘news feed’ on the band is nevertheless one of the most useful day to day features.  If, like me, you enjoy this additional functionality then read on!

One of the nice side pieces of functionality for this device is it’s ability to display RSS feeds – this means that if you have a particular favourite subject, be it anything from Dog Grooming Tips to the usual Geek related  news you can be alerted of new nuggets of information without having to delve into your pocket (or handbag) and pull out your Phone!

I thought it might be useful to add a few tiles that  I created myself to this page – to use them on your own band all you need to do is navigate to this site on your phone (iPhone, Android or Windows Phone) and click on them – this will trigger the install and they should end up on your Fitness Band.

From time to time I will update this page with new Tiles so be sure and check back!

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Windows 10 Spartan Browser – Build 10049

Woke up this morning and the new Enterprise build of Windows 10 technical preview had installed itself.  After going through the usual setup screens the first thing I noticed was the inclusion of the new Spartan browser: 

spartan1

After navigating to my own blog page 😉 I started to look at some of the new features:

 

Toolbar Buttons:

The new ‘add to favourites’ button has received a welcome makeover:

Spartan2 faves

I switched over in the ‘new style’ tabs back to the Spartan welcome page.

Looking at the next ‘history/favourites’ browser also received the Windows 10 makeover treatment:

Spartan3 faves 

But the first ‘totally new’ feature to catch my attention is the new ‘review’ toolbar that allow various notes and editing features on the browser surface itself:

Spartan4 paintjpg

 

Spartan5

The first drawing feature also has an additional dropdown to allow selection of colour and nib size.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next button is, as you might expect from the icon, a highlighter that works, well,  just as you might expect:

Spartan6

(The eraser “rubber” button also works as expected!)

The next button allows the addition of notes to be made to a selected area of the page:

Spartan7

The final button from the selection on the left allows selection of areas of the page.  These can then be saved (as bitmaps) or shared with others:using the context drop down menu:

Spartan8 highlight area

I knew little about the objectives of Spartan and wasn’t sure how I felt about looking/using another new browser – so it was nice to first be presented with something that looks clean (dare I say almost Spartan in it’s appearance) and that worked as anticipated while including some genuinely useful new editing features.

I will continue looking at this build and post more findings throughout the day as I come across them.