Something New Every Day

A record of doing a new thing every day in 2011

Spicy Potato Cakes (176/365) Saturday June 25, 2011

More Spanish cooking from my Little Book of Tapas, this time making some spicy potato cakes.

I must admit I don’t think I’ve ever had them when in Spain, but they turned out pretty well, and with some roasted peppers and shallots made a tasty summer meal.

Potato Cakes

Made my first screen capture video (174/365) Thursday June 23, 2011

I wanted to do a good demo for the Hack Day project, but didn’t trust my connection into work from home to be reliable enough to show my app in it’s full glory. So I had the idea of recording a screen capture video beforehand, and then I could share and show that instead.

The only trouble was I had no idea how I could do that. However after a bit of research and some help from Ross we figured out I could use the free version of Microsoft Expression which has screen capture software built in. Perfect.

I think the video turned out reasonably well although it was a bit rushed. It would take a lot of practice to get good at making them, but I think my “first take” approach is as good as I can do without making an effort :-)

Using Transport for London data API (173/365) Wednesday June 22, 2011

More work on my hack day mobile phone app I mentioned in the previous post, this time adding in tube departure times using the TFL Data API - something I hadn’t tried before.

The API is nicely designed, and exposes a lot of real-time information that could make a really interesting mobile phone app (not saying mine is yet!). The site is a bit off putting saying you need permission to be approved etc. but I got access within just a few minutes of my application and I was soon up and running.

I may well look at using this data in a form I can share with people a bit more widely.

Hacking my phone (172/365) Tuesday June 21, 2011

It’s been a dev-centric week, as I’ve both been working from home and participating in the Bing Europe Hack Days.

The hack days are a couple of days where everyone in the office is free to work on interesting projects or ideas that may or may not turn into something useful. Organised by @intven, it’s a great experience and a real shame I wasn’t in the office to participate more.

However, I worked at home on an experimental Windows Phone 7 app that worked reasonably well, and what I did new on Tuesday was to figure out how the Pivot View control works, as well as integrating the Bing Maps control. Can’t give many more details away right now I’m afraid.

Home of Metal (171/365) Monday June 20, 2011

There was a brilliant article in the Sunday Times about a new museum “Celebrating music from Birmingham and the Black Country” - So to celebrate my cultural heritage, I spent the whole day listening to the bands featured via Spotify.

Now metal isn’t really my thing, and I’d listened to Led Zeppelin quite a bit before (Robert Plant like me coming from Halesowen of course), but the other ones were less familiar to me.

Black Sabbath were great although I already knew some of the songs I listened to, but Judas Priest were awful despite the fact we have a family connection (my dad lived around the corner and knew Glenn Tipton by being best friends with his brother Gary). Napalm Death are really hard core and I think I saw them live once back in the day, but Godflesh were completely new to me, and pretty good in a miserable way that teenagers like and I think I’ve grown out of.

A fun day to break out of some habits and listen to some new music for a change.

Statistic refresher course (170/365) Sunday June 19, 2011

Back in the day I did actually gain a degree in statistics, although through lack of use I remember very little of what I learnt.

Only recently in my work at Bing has it been useful to dredge up my stats knowledge, and my friend and colleague Francesco shared a really useful link to a new book called “Statistics For Programmers” which I read on Sunday - the first time I’d read a stats book since graduating.

It was a really useful book to read and I now remember a few more things I used to know, as well as having a couple of useful ideas on things to try in my work.

Got the car valet cleaned (169/365) Saturday June 18, 2011

I am not a big car fan nor have I played one on the Internet.

The inside of my car has gradually been getting more and more filthy as we’ve been moving stuff to the tip, so I decided to pay some professionals to clean the inside and took it down the car washers in Tesco car park to get a full valet cleaning.

I don’t think it’s ever been so clean inside as it is now, and although it cost £20 it was definitely worth it - should last for a few years anyway :-)

Evernote for WP7 (168/365) Friday June 17, 2011

As an obsessive list maker, I love Evernote for keeping notes on just about anything. it’s cross-platform nature means they can be accessible from just about anywhere. However the web interface is a bit lame, so I was very pleased when they released a Windows Phone 7 app this week, which I tried for the first time on Friday.

It’s pretty simplistic but works great, and is so much better than trying to use the web interface on the phone (and much better than the Android app I used to use too). Definitely recommended.

Learnt about HTML5 Geolocation (167/365) Thursday June 16, 2011

I haven’t really looked into the new features of HTML5, so I thought I’d spend the train journey home learning about the geolocation features available.

I found the excellent Dive Into HTML5 site, and after following along with the examples I managed to get a very basic demo page working that looks up your location and then shows it on a map.

Interestingly - in Chrome at least - the Facebook control isn’t playing nice again. Also the location lookup didn’t really work on my mobile broadband (which I guess makes sense) and not at all in the crappy Windows Phone 7 browser.