A long-overdue update

2019-10-12

It was pointed out to me this week that I haven't updated this site for over three years, so I thought it was perhaps about time for a quick update and to answer some questions that have been sent to me during this time.

I wanted to briefly cover why there haven't been any updates to the site for so long. The main overarching reason is simply because life has become very busy. Family life, particularly as my son grows older, has become much more demanding than in years past, and my work requires a lot of attention and mental focus too. As a result, I rarely feel the motivation to spend more time developing software and working on my web site in the evening.

The nature of software development has also changed radically over the years. Technology moves constantly and working in software development, it's always on ongoing necessity to keep on top of this. My priorities in this regard have been focussed on professional learning of late, leaving much less time to keep up with developments for personal projects. I'd very much like to spend more time learning about Unity game development, Android app development and more, but for the time being these will have to take a back seat.

Finally, it seems that I use the internet in a very different way today than I did in years past (and I think I'm not alone here). I used to visit sites all over the internet and had a huge list of bookmarks that I'd visit on a regular basis. It occurred to me recently that I only visit about half a dozen web sites now. Twitter is the main one, which seems to be where I spend the majority of my internet time. Other sizes include Amazon, news sites, Stack Overflow and various services such as Google Maps, but other than a scattering of random interactions, that's about it. I can't actually remember which sites I used to visit back in the old days!

Anyway, that's enough of that, here's an update on some of the things I've worked on in the past for anyone that is curious.

WordsUp

I originally developed WordsUp for Windows Phone and Windows 8 in 2014. I was particularly proud of this game: it was fun to play and I was especially pleased with the AI players that could provide a really challenging opponent if desired. Sales were always very modest however.

A year or so later, Microsoft removed it from the Windows Phone store due to a crash they detected. Work pressures at the time meant I didn't get around to fixing this, and so it ended up not getting re-added to the store.

In 2018, an update to Windows 10 was released that broke the Windows version too. The game launches just fine, but after a few seconds it closes without any explanation or error log. A lot of time has passed since the game was written, and I don't actually even have a development environment that can compile the WordsUp source code any more, so with regret I decided to withdraw it from sale. And that's where things stand at the moment.

The amount of work that would be required to rebuild this as a Windows 10 app, or to port to other mobile operating systems, is substantially more than I can warrant investing in it unfortunately, so I think this may sadly be the end of the line for WordsUp.

Frotz8

Frotz8, my port of the Frotz Infocom Interactive Fiction interpreter is still working and available for free for devices running Windows 8 and up. It has a few flaws, but also interfaces with The Interactive Fiction Archive in a way I'm very proud of.

The reason I wrote Frotz8 is because I wanted to be able to play these games on my original Surface RT tablet. This device was only capable of running apps from the Windows Store, and no other Infocom interpreters existed at the time.

The version of Windows used by the Surface RT has long since been retired however, and there are plenty of other interactive fiction interpreters available that run on all modern PCs. I'm please people are still enjoying Frotz8, but I won't be releasing any further updates. If you'd like an alternative, I'd recommend David Kinder's Windows Frotz application.

TellyPrompter

TellyPrompter was an application that ran daily each time the PC was started. It was set up with various UK TV programme searches, and would constantly look for these in the upcoming week of TV listings, letting you know in advance of anything interesting you may want to watch.

This was originally built to consume a TV listings feed provided unofficially by the Radio Times. All was good until one day the Radio Times announced that they would discontinue this data feed, which rather broke TellyPrompter.

I did find another listings feed source provided by Sky TV, which is running to this day, and in fact I still use TellyPrompter on my own PC. I haven't ever quite got around to packaging this up as a public release however. I may get to this one day, but with changes to the way everyone watches TV now, particularly with catch up TV and services like Netflix, I suspect the value of TellyPrompter is much less than it was before.

RSS Central

RSS Central is still (mostly) working and available in the Windows Store for the few people still using Windows Phone, and for anyone that wants to try it on Windows 8 or Windows 10. I won't be making any further updates to this application however. I'm aware that some of the features have stopped working, including Dropbox integration, these won't be getting fixed I'm afraid!

Books

I found writing my books for Apress hugely rewarding, and they're an experience I greatly appreciate having had the opportunity to undertake. I still look at these with pride, even though they're now very out-of-date and unlikely to be of much use to anyone.

I was approached by Aress some years back and asked if I'd like to update the books for Windows 10. I was tempted, but ultimately declined -- the amount of work involved in creating each of these books was immense, and it had a huge impact on my personal life.

I occasionally think that one day it would be great to update the book for the latest version of MonoGame, with a completely cross-platform audience in mind, covering Windows, Android and maybe even iOS. Perhaps I'll get serious about it one day, but for the moment this will just remain an idea at the back of my head!

Other things

I'm still a huge fan of retro gaming and have recently gradually been building my garage up into what feels like a classic 80s or 90s arcade. Currently this is stocked with an upright MAME cabinet, a sit-down driving cabinet, a 2p coin pusher, two fruit machines, and my latest addition, a virtual pinball machine.

At some point in the future I'll put more details and video of these up on the site for anyone that is interested.

In the meantime I am still fairly active, but mostly on Twitter. If you'd like to get in touch or listen to my occasional ramblings, you can find me there, @AdamDawes575.

See you around!