Saturday, December 3, 2016

Our new app 'You Cast' is out

This month we released our latest app 'You Cast'.  This was one app I basically built for myself.  I almost exclusively watch TV through my Chromecast device these days.  Mostly I do this through my android phone or tablet or via a laptop.  However sometimes my wife's 640 XL running Windows Phone 8.1 is the only thing handy.  Unfortunately google have not provided any official chromecast api support for windows phone 8.1 and Windows 10 apps. 

Frustrated by the inability to cast videos from this device I set about creating an app that would fill this void. 

This involved quite a bit of research, wire-shark network traffic analysis and trial and error but after few weeks of effort I was able to produce an app that allows you tube videos to be cast from windows phones. 

So far the response has been pretty positive.  It took a few weeks before it showed up in the store but as of last week the acquisitions grew from basically none to over 1000. 

I have included a banner ad at the top of the app.  So far the ad impressions seem pretty steady. I use pub center as my paid network and ad duplex for affiliate advertising,  See ad duplex graph below.

Anyway regardless of whether it makes any money this app has served its purpose by giving me another device to cast videos with.  If you have any feedback or feature request leave a comment or send us an email/tweet.

Thursday, July 7, 2016


There has been a lot of hype around microservices over the last couple of years.  I've been doing a fair bit of research and experimentation with this architecture and think it is the perfect fit for certain large project but needs to be adopted with very careful consideration. 

The positives are undeniable, having independently deploy-able, language agnostic services that can be tested in isolation definitely has the potential to scale well.  This will also add much needed flexibility that is lacking in many complex systems. 

However for many projects this architecture will introduce significant real world challenges including:

Code Reuse: When I started looking into Microservices the following question kept coming up "Where should I draw the line between having shared class libraries vs moving common code into a new shared services?"

Shared class libraries are frowned upon by many purists because it goes against the independence paradigm of microservices and will thus reduce some of the benefits of having services that are truly decoupled .  However not having a shared class library is likely to result in significant refactoring of code when logic that should of been shared is moved from one service to another.  This has the potential to be expensive and may result in many other interdependent services being affected. Obviously this kind of problem exists with non-microservice architectures however changing a class library, compiling and then fixing every compilation error as well as using built in refactoring functionality in IDE's such as Visual Studio is likely to be easier than refactoring services across a varied technology stack and having to rely on excellent unit test coverage to ensure everything is picked up.

 As is often the cases with tight deadlines and limited budgets there will be cases where moving common code into a new service becomes too costly and/or risky and developers will end up redundantly replicating code which breaks the DRY design principle and will reduce the overall maintainability of the system.

Debugging: It is likely to add complexity to debugging when a developer needs to step through code across independent, queued, services calls through logic that is implemented in a variety of technologies.

Language Agnostic: One of the commonly spruiked advantages of microservices is that they are language agnostic. However without careful consideration this can lead to the creation of a very complex technology stack.  This may make maintainability an issue because software currency upgrades and patches will become more complex and because finding experts who have experience with a varied technology stack become more difficult to find.

Version and Deployment Control: This one is pretty obvious.  It can be difficult enough trying enforce consistent and understandable version numbering accross an n-tiered application.  Try having hundreds of services and multiple persistence repositories and this can get very confusing and difficult to control.

Refactoring: Undoubtedly deciding when to create a new service, merge two or more services, or split existing services into multiple services will be a relatively common occurrence.  This will have a cost because merging or splitting services could result in hundreds of services and potentially thousands of test cases being significantly affected.

So in summary, microservices architecture certainly has some advantages but it will work best when some very careful guidelines and standards are put in place across a project team to address some of the issues I've detailed above. 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Location services shortcut

We've recently released a new android app 'location services shortcut'.

It allows users to quickly navigate to the location services setting on their android device simply by opening the app.  As location services is often a major battery drain, and because of privacy concerns   many users may want to turn off this setting except when they specifically need it for navigation purposes.

This app is mostly targeting older android versions as well as certain ROMs and OEM versions where location services is not available as a shortcut in status/notification bar.

You can download 'location services shortcut' for free from the Google play store by clicking here.