The other day I received an email that said something along the lines of “Love your Speedo Plus app” which reminded me “Oh that’s right I made a Windows Phone app”.
Turns out Speedo Plus is still doing well in the Windows Phone Store, loved with 5 star reviews even though I had all but forgotten about it.
After loading it on my HTC 8X, I realized that it wasn’t optimized for Windows Phone 8′s new 720p screens. The fix was simple, but then when I tried to submit an update to the Store so everyone can appreciate the dozen extra pixels of Speedo Plus, it occurred to me the Developer Center subscription had expired.
As I recall the last time I checked, Speedo Plus had something like 8,000 9,800 downloads. Although most people appreciate it’s a simple app, I think there’s still a lot of potential for extra features (like proper compass support and GPS coordinate logging/exporting). Unfortunately I just don’t have time for it, especially if I want any time for StarCraft and SimCity.
So since I’m not shy with my crappy (and hacky) code, I’ve decided to put up the Speedo Plus source code on GitHub in hopes that other people with more free time can polish it up even more. Plus, anyone who has Visual Studio handy can also deploy the WP8 updated version. (Yay for bypassing Store certification)
Disclosure: I attended the 2013 F1 Melbourne Grand Prix as a corporate guest of Microsoft Australia and Lotus F1 Team. It was awesome so my views may be biased.
A few days ago I learned that Microsoft Dynamics was a sponsor of the Lotus F1 team and I was invited to a “roundtable” to learn more about their sponsorship. Turns out roundtables are much more interesting when it’s held in the pit stop of a live Grand Prix, while they were warming up the car.
Definitely the loudest presentation and lunch I’ve been to.
Microsoft first signed their business and branding sponsorship with Lotus F1 last year. After a successful racing season with 1 victory, 11 podium finishes and 3 fastest laps, the two just announced they have doubled their contract from two to four years until 2016.
Prior to today, my understanding of F1 was similar to my understanding of Microsoft Dynamics, minimal. So how does Microsoft actually help a F1 team win? No, it’s not Windows Embedded Automotive. Having said that, the computer systems that monitor the car’s 100 performance sensors that collect 32GB of data per race weekend do run on Windows.
As part of this sponsorship, Microsoft is providing Lotus licenses, training and implementation of it’s Dynamics enterprise resource planning platform so the global and diverse team of 550 staff can run like a well-oiled machine.
Currently in stage two of the three-phase plan, the finance, human resources, inventory and travel tasks have already been migrated within a year since the contract was signed.
Since a support team of 90 (engineers, technicians, drivers and even Italian chefs) travel with the car to each of the dozen worldwide events along with hundred tons of equipment, the single Dynamics solution has already replaced 11 different in-house apps which wasted a lot of time and effort.
By May of this year, they would have moved the design, production and manufacturing of the car’s 30,000+ individual parts onto the Dynamics platform too. After that, sales, marketing, legal and even some racing tasks will also be migrated.
For Microsoft, by helping Lotus implement and build on top of the Dynamics platform, it’s able to generate a great case study and test new modules on a real but most importantly fast-paced customer (unlike most large enterprise and governments).
Of course there’s the gold sticker on the side of the car. With over 2 billion annual viewers, F1 sponsorships remains extremely lucrative.
Last but not least, I was also surprised to learn that Microsoft actually assisted Lotus with the design of it’s encryption algorithm over radio that allows the team to securely monitor the F1 race car from the pit. Inter-team competition is so fierce that the sensitivity of this data is critical.
Even though enterprise software bore me to bits, the thrill of the F1 makes this partnership somewhat interesting. Lotus think it’s getting a competitive advantage with Dynamics and Microsoft gets a great customer to show for it so it’s a win-win.
I wish the Lotus F1 team the best of luck for the 2013 season.
Without any Microsoft Stores in Australia, Microsoft Australia is relying on its partners to give its products retail presence. One of the premium partners is Telstra, Australia’s largest mobile service provider who previously dedicated an entire level of its retail store to Android, happily dubbing it Androidland.
Now, presumably with some strong encouragement by Microsoft, Telstra has put some extra spotlights on Windows Phones inside its “Icon” flagship stores in 4 major cities – Melbourne, Sydney, Hobart and Perth.
Among all the banners and kiosks added by the “Windows Phone experience” is an interactive wall feature has been installed at presumably one of its stores.
From what I can see in the video promotion it allows users to use a giant tablet (doesn’t look like Windows 8) to control the color scheme of the LED-lit wall using the same accent colors in Windows Phone. They can also connect their Facebook account and watch their friends appear in the simulated tiles, as well as watch popular apps pop up for their selected interests.
I think it’s a cool little gimmick to make Windows Phone stand out a little bit more from the sea of Androids that predominantly flood the stores. Even iPhones don’t get that much attention.
Aussies Windows Phone 8 users, get out your NFC-enabled phones and start running towards a major city shopping center. Microsoft Australia has “hidden” free copies of its new Office 365 Home Premium subscription for you to find – valued at $119. And all you need to win is tap on the ad.
The “Hunt for Office” campaign which started last week has 34 digital advertising screens located in major shopping centers across Australia. Their exact location within each facility is not disclosed so participants will have to hunt the ad on their own.
Once the ad has been located, the first five people of each day over the two-week campaign who either tap the NFC tag or scan the QR code and complete the registration form will instantly win an Office 365 subscription sent to their email.
Credit where credit is due, Samsung USA was the first to use NFC on its advertising posters late last year to give way free music to its Galaxy S3 mobile users. Now, Microsoft Australia has raised the bar of the prize to something more valuable than just an MP3.
As NFC adoption grows in most new smartphones, I’m sure people tapping ads won’t be an uncommon sight in the near future.
Joe Walkden, Marketing Communications Manager at Microsoft Australia says
We’re really happy with the level of engagement on the competition so far. We’re promoting the competition on radio and via our social channels as well, so people should definitely stay tuned to @MSAU on Twitter for the latest updates and get in quick – the competition ends soon!
In my handful of trips to Microsoft’s Redmond campus, I’ve come across some pretty interesting paintings, models and photographs in the hallways. They are all part of the company’s extensive art collection. I have not however come across anything as bizarre as the one above.
I first spotted the “llama” painting in the background of the new Microsoft Envisioning video released yesterday titled “Live, Work, Play”. After tweeting about this, Microsoft employee Richard Burte brought to my attention that Windows designer Ilana Smith (of Explorer Ribbon fame) recently shared some photos of other works in the collection, presumably displayed in the Windows building on campus.
Upon more research by Richard, it turns out this all belongs to artist Thom Merrick which dates back to 1999. The author of that blog post quips,
Personally I think art is what people say it is, and I’m perfectly willing to concede that this is art. He gets credit for thinking of it first, if nothing else. Sometimes you look at a work of abstract art and think “I could do that”–but in this case, I know I could do it.
If anyone wants to take a stab at drawing some of their own, feel free to share it here.