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This intention of this blog is to share the thoughts and experiences of Bergin-IT in Android development and IT.

Gizmoot for XW-SMA posted 7/8/2017.

Gizmoot for XW-SMA v1.0 has now been released on the Google Play Store.
The app is focussed to work only with the Pioneer XW-SMA network speakers which allows the browse window to show only media that can be played by this device. No banner ads are shown in the control screen but the app is not free. The free/ad supported Gizmoot App remains available on Google Play and will continue to be maintained. Please note that the Gizmoot App must be run on your smart phone/tablet before switching on the XW-SMA speaker. This will ensure that the Gizmoot App find the XW-SMA speaker on your home WiFi network.

Gizmoot for NVIDIA SHIELD posted 21/6/2017.

Gizmoot for NVIDIA SHIELD v1.0 has now been released on the Google Play Store.
The app is focussed to work only with the NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV STB which allows the browse window to show only media that can be played by this device. No banner ads are shown in the control screen but the app is not free. The free/ad supported Gizmoot App remains available on Google Play and will continue to be maintained. Please note that the Gizmoot Player App must be installed/run on the NVIDIA SHIELD before the Gizmoot App is started on your smart phone/tablet.

Gizmoot for M8R posted 20/6/2017.

Gizmoot for M8R v1.0 has now been released on the Google Play Store.
The app is focussed to work only with the M8R Android TV STB which allows the browse window to show only media that can be played by this device. No banner ads are shown in the control screen but the app is not free. The free/ad supported Gizmoot App remains available on Google Play and will continue to be maintained. Please note that the Gizmoot Player App must be installed/run on the M8R before the Gizmoot App is started on your smart phone/tablet.

Gizmoot for KODI posted 19/6/2017.

Gizmoot for KODI v1.0 has now been released on the Google Play Store.
The app is focussed to work only with KODI which allows the browse window to show only media that can be played by this software. No banner ads are shown in the control screen but the app is not free. The free/ad supported Gizmoot App remains available on Google Play and will continue to be maintained. Please note that UPnP must be enabled in the KODI settings.

Gizmoot for Android TV posted 11/6/2017.

Gizmoot for Android TV v1.0 has now been released on the Google Play Store.
The app is focussed to work only with Sony/LGE/Sharp/TPVision Android TVs which allows the browse window to show only media that can be played on the these devices. No banner ads are shown in the control screen but the app is not free. The free/ad supported Gizmoot App remains available on Google Play and will continue to be maintained. Please note that the Gizmoot Player App must be installed/run on the Android TV before the Gizmoot App is started on your smart phone/tablet.

Gizmoot for Roku posted 5/6/2017.

Gizmoot for Roku v1.0 has now been released on the Google Play Store.
The app is focussed to work only with Roku players which allows the browse window to show only media that can be played on the Roku devices.
No banner ads are shown in the control screen but the app is not free. The free/ad supported Gizmoot App remains available on Google Play and will continue to be maintained.
The Roku devices can only play a limited number of radio stations which means there are less radio stations to choose from compared with the other Gizmoot Apps.
Please note that the Gizmoot Player App must be installed on the Roku device before the Gizmoot App is started on your smart phone/tablet.

Gizmoot for Fire TV posted 29/5/2017.

Gizmoot for Fire TV v1.0 has now been released on the Google Play Store.
The app is focussed to work only with Fire TV players which allows the browse window to show only media that can be played on the Fire TV devices.
No banner ads are shown in the control screen but the app is not free. The free/ad supported Gizmoot App remains available on Google Play and will continue to be maintained.
Please note that the Gizmoot Player App must be installed/run on the Fire TV before the Gizmoot App is started on your smart phone/tablet in order for Gizmoot to discover the Fire TV quickly.

Gizmoot Player 1.0 for Roku posted 3/2/2017.

Gizmoot Player v1.0 for Roku players has now been released on the Roku Channel Store.
The Gizmoot channel must selected from the Channel Store on the Roku device. The Gizmoot App must then be run on an Android smart phone or tablet connected to the same home network as the Roku drive. Browse some music or TV on the smart phone or tablet and choose then the Roku device to play the media.
The Gizmoot App can act as a remote control for playing media on Android TV, Fire TV, Roku, EZCast and iPush players.

Dropping support for iOS and tvOS posted 14/12/2016.

Both Gizmoot and Gizmoot Player will no longer be available under iOS and tvOS because Apple will no longer allow C networking APIs to be called. Gizmoot exits soon after starting under iOS 10 because these functions now raise a SIGABRT signal. Gizmoot uses SSDP/UDP and the network APIs offered by Apple do not support UDP, so I had no choice but to abandon iOS and tvOS. It's a pity because these Apps were initially developed under iOS and tvOS, and Apple didn't really need to do this. It's just another example of how Apple can be too prescriptive and demanding, and I am tired of working with them. I wonder how many Apps will now only be available under Android and not iOS as a result of this decision by Apple ? I will not miss the multitude of expiring certificates, iTunes Connect bugs and lengthy App approval process from iOS and tvOS development. I will now focus my efforts on Android development.

Gizmoot 2.4 for iOS/Android posted 10/12/2016.

I've been trying to submit Gizmoot v2.4 for iOS to iTunes Connect today with much difficulty. First build uploaded complained about mixed up application-identifiers that iTunes Connect confused a year ago when I wrote the Gizmoot Player App for tvOS. Yes, Apple still haven't fixed the problem after a year so what are their support team doing ? I then received an email saying that I had to add a NSAppleMusicUsageDescription key/value to the application plist file. This description has to be translated into multiple languages so I tried to add some InfoPlist.strings file to the project which resulted in Xcode crashing. That's right you cannot add a simple strings file to Xcode ! So I added a single key/value to the application Info.plist file (which will not be translated when shown) and uploaded a second build to iTunes Connect, which now complains that the App name is longer than 50 characters so the app name was made shorter in several languages. So Gizmoot v2.4 is now waiting for review. The Apple app submission process is so painfully slow compared to Google Play. Gizmoot v2.4 for Android has now been released with a minimum of fuss ...

Gizmoot Player 1.0 for Android TV posted 2/10/2016.

Gizmoot Player v1.0 for Android TV has now been released on Google Play. Android Studio v2.2 running under Mac OSX was used to build the App. Great care must be taken to place the files in exactly the right folder and you will be rewarded by being able to debug native code !
TIP: You add existing files by exiting Android Studio, copying the source files to the correct location, then restarting Android Studio i.e. they will just appear in the project hierarchy.

Gizmoot Player 1.0 for Fire TV posted 7/10/2016.

Gizmoot Player v1.0 for Fire TV has now been released.

Gizmoot 2.2 for iOS posted 20/5/2016.

Gizmoot v2.2 has now been submitted to iTunes Connect for review. Many iterations of build/archive/validate/upload/clean were needed before I was able to successfully upload the new version of the App. Firstly I had to install a new version of AppleWWDRCA.cer in the Keychain and then iTunes Connect complained about my distribution provisioning profile having the wrong App ID (WARNING ITMS-90076) which wasn't the case. The whole process of publishing a new version of an App on the Apple App Store is much more tedious and time-consuming compared with the Google Play Store. Now I must up to 10 days for Apple to find a new reason to reject my App !

Google Play Store supports app descriptions in Arabic, Czech, Hebrew, Hungarian, Polish and Romanian while the Apple App Store doesn't. Apple really seem to be falling behind.

The Refiners launch in Paris posted 11/5/2016.

The Gizmoot project attended the launch of The Refiners in Paris, which is a cross border accelerator. The presentations took place at the BPI building in Boulevard Haussmann. Their goal is to connect French startup projects with Silicon Valley resources and help bridge the cultural gap.

iOS Voice Over and Chromecast Player API posted 23/4/2016.

While developing Gizmoot yesterday I accidently enabled VoiceOver by hitting the Home button 3 times. The iPhone then became completely unusable until I switched VoiceOver off again. Are Apple adding too many features to iOS ? I would prefer Apple to concentrate their effort on ensuring that the existing features in their software work correctly instead of adding horrible features like VoiceOver.

I examined the Chromecast Sender API for iOS/Android to assess if the Chromecast devices could act as players for Gizmoot. I haven't added support for Chromecast until now because of the limited media format support. Unfortunately Google have chosen a very presciptive model for the GUI of any App that is allowed to use their API i.e. their cast icon must be displayed on every screen and their GUI must be used for selecting the cast device. The design of Gizmoot doesn't fit with the Google paradigm in that it has its own screen for selecting the player device, which may or may not be a Chromecast device. If Google provide a lower level API that skips the GUI components then I am willing to look at this again.

MacBook and Mac OSX posted 5/2/2016.

I've been wondering why my MacBook runs ever so more slowly every time Apple obliges me to install the latest flavour of Mac OSX in order to continue iOS development. After starting up the machine I see in the Activity Monitor that the kernel is using 500 MB of RAM and that there are 500 MB of cached files. Why ? Mac OSX is built upon linux so this is all rather unnecessary. So as time passes the Mac OSX software becomes more bloated and buggy and demands the user buy a new machine every 3 years. I've decided it's not worth investing in another Mac as I don't consider them to be much better than a Windows PC these days, so why pay double the price ? I recently gave up using the Mac OSX Photos application and by removing the photos database files I recovered 33% of my hard disc space! I used to be a big fan of Apple but not any more ...

tvOS Tech Talks in London posted 14/1/2016.

The Gizmoot project attended the Apple tvOS Tech Talks in London. The speakers gave a very helpful overview of the new Apple TV platform. The Gizmoot Player tvOS App will have several changes made to it as a result of what was learned. It is great that Apple is sharing the tech talk material too.

The new Apple TV is both a media playback and games platform. It will be very interesting to see how it fares against other media playback and games STBs and sticks, of which many are already established in the market and are offered at a cheaper price.

Android Studio posted 24/11/2015.

I tried using the latest version of Android Studio v1.5 to see if JNI native code can be debugged. Unfortunately I was not able to even build the Gizmoot project any more ! The choice was between compiling the C source code separately and copying library files around, or using an experimental NDK plug-in. I rolled back to version 1.2 of Android Studio because at least it is able to build native code, even if there are no possibilities to debug native code.

Considering the size of Google and the large number of developers undertaking Android development, I am very surprised that Google has released such a half-baked version of Android Studio. The Android Studio development team do not seem to understand the concept of stable releases. As a developer I want to spend my time developing my project and not working around the bugs and limitations of the development tools.

Xcode for iOS development has been able to build and debug C source code for the past 6 years, so Android Studio is a long way behind ...

Gizmoot Player for Apple TV posted 28/10/2015.

Gizmoot Player v1.0 for the new Apple TV was released tonight ready for the product launch. Many thanks to Apple for sending a beta Apple TV device for development purposes. The Gizmoot Player App turns the Apple TV into a UPnP AV MediaRenderer which means that the Gizmoot App running on a smart phone or tablet can play music, video, photos and internet radio on the Apple TV if it is running the Gizmoot Player App.

The MediaServer capability was not included in Gizmoot Player because the Apple TV doesn't allow any data to be stored on the device and browsing lists of media content using the Apple TV remote control might feel cumbersome.

A Tale of 2 App Stores posted 24/9/2015.

Gizmoot v1.6 for Android was released last night and now available on the Google Play store. Gizmoot can now be used in Indonesian, Malay, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese and tradtional Chinese ... 20 languages in total. Gizmoot v1.13 for iOS has the same 6 languages added and was submitted for review on 15/9/2015, and was rejected on 24/9/2015 because it doesn't have a demonstation video ! So Apple are refusing to review an App that has been on the App Store for 5 years unless I make a demo video. Looks like Gizmoot users should now switch to Android devices if they want updates as we are stuck with Gizmoot v1.12 under iOS. In terms of deploying new App versions Google Play is way ahead of iTunesConnect ...

SSDPTester no longer available for iOS posted 24/9/2015.

Bergin-IT has decided to focus its development effort on Android and so has stopped supporting the iOS version of the SSDPTester App. Existing users can continue to use the SSDPTester App on Android devices.

Gizmoot for Android has more than 10000 downloads posted 5/9/2015.

Gizmoot for Android has now been downloaded more than 10000 times ! Many thanks to those users who have tried Gizmoot and left some reviews. All feedback is welcome.

In China Gizmoot for iOS on the 25PP.COM web site has received 2034 thumbs up versus 22 thumbs down which is very encouraging ! Gizmoot v1.12 for iOS still has not had any user reviews on the App Store ...

Gizmoot v1.12 for iOS posted 24/7/2015.

After uploading another build for Gizmoot v1.12 I was able to submit the new version for review in iTunes Connect. Apple have kindly expedited the review process due to the delay caused by the iTunes Connect problem, and so now Gizmoot v1.12 should appear on the App Store tomorrow. Many thanks to the Apple Support team for helping to fix this issue.

Gizmoot v1.12 has a fix for discovering the Kodi media server and renderer, combined audio/video genres to handle audio book genres correctly, a 'Control Volume' option in the Settings screen to enable/disable the volume slider in the Control screen, and songs within an album in the local media library are now listed in track number order.

iTunes Connect posted 17/7/2015.

Gizmoot v1.12 has been prepared that contains some changes requested by iOS users. The trouble is that a bug in iTunes Connect is preventing me from submitting Gizmoot v1.12 for review by Apple. I need to select the Gizmoot build that I have uploaded from Xcode but the 'Click + to add build before you submit your App' is missing. I am now waiting for the iTunes Connect support team to fix the problem. In the meantime I have made the same changes for Gizmoot running on Android and submitted it to the Google Play Store and it is now available to Android users. Once the iTunes Connect issue has been fixed I will then have to wait up to 10 days for Apple to review Gizmott v1.12. The Google Play Store is much better that the Apple App Store in that respect.

App Store Ratings posted 15/7/2015.

Now that the Gizmoot App has been available under iOS and Android for some months I can observe the differences in user ratings on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. I observe on the App Store users rarely rate Gizmoot, and only do so if they are disappointed that it didn't work with their DLNA/UPnP devices, giving Gizmoot a 1 star rating. On the Play Store Gizmoot has received considerably more ratings with an average of over 4 starts out of 5. This is surprising as 85% of the source code is identical in the iOS and Android versions of Gizmoot i.e. Gizmoot works equally well on both platforms. Many thanks for those positive Android ratings !

Archos Andoid Tablet posted 20/6/2015.

I have tested Gizmoot running on a Archos 70C Cobalt budget tablet and was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked. The main differences observed between this tablet and more expensive tablets are battery life between recharges and camera picture quality.

BBC and Gizmoot posted 30/5/2015.

In recent email exchanges the BBC has stated that it doesn't want BBC content (radio, videos, etc) to be available for browsing and playback in the Gizmoot App. One reason cited is that Gizmoot is a commercial App because it displays banner ads. So that leaves the BBC to use its web site and iPlayer for making its content available online. This decision also means that Gizmoot users will play the media content from the rivals of BBC instead. So the BBC risks being left behind as viewers and listeners use the interent to play the content of their choice at a time that suits them. Broadcast TV and radio were dominant in the 20th century but are now being disprupted. Traditional broadcasters being based in a single country and licensing content for consumption only within that country do not fit very well into the internet age. Another issue is the number of Apps that can fit on a mobile device, and the number of Apps used regularly by a user. I don't think the current trend of each media company having their own App is going to work. Using one App like Gizmoot to allow the user to browse and play media content from many providers is the answer ...

ICT Spring 2015 posted 30/5/2015.

The Gizmoot project visited the ICT Spring show in Luxembourg. Discussions with magzine publishers showed a preference for sharing their content via their web site viewed on mobile devices. They didn't seem to be interested in playing their content on connected TVs on the home WiFi network. Generation Y don't seem to use TVs. Is this true ? Personally I wouldn't want to watch video on a tablet close to my eyes all the time.
Big Data was another topic of dicussion. Web site cookies are used to track user behaviour and then statistical analysis is used to predict our behaviour in terms of targeting the best Ad at the best time. One issue is making the correct interpretation. Another is to avoid 'creeping out' the user with Ads that make them feel spied upon. Ideally an Ad will provoke a positive response from a potential customer. Perhaps brands are risking alienating customers ? I suspect the best approach is to associate one or more Ads with a specific piece of media content, with the assumption being that if the user was interested in watching the content then there is a good chance they might be interested in the Ad. For example being able to book a concert ticket for a band to whom they have just listened might be an Ad that is welcomed. I also believe this approach will help fund content creation and help reduce the problem of media piracy robbing content producers of much needed income. The Gizmoot App is able to link banner Ads and their associated web page with a specific piece of media content.

Gizmoot for Android posted 26/4/2015.

The Gizmoot App has now been sucessfully ported to Android. All of the features of Gizmoot for iOS are included in the Android version. Streaming music from an iOS device to an Android device and vice versa doesn't work, and I suspect that the media players refuse to play mp3 files from a rival platform. I was surprised to find that the Android WebView isn't able to play as many different web pages as the iOS equivalent, and isn't able to scale web pages to fit on the screen horizontally. I am very pleased to find that Gizmoot runs well on a cheaper Android phone, though it doesn't run as fast as on an iPhone.

Android JNI/NDK posted 26/2/2015.

The SSDPTester App has now been sucessfully ported to Android. Much of the source code is written in C and so was re-used from the iOS version of the App. Unfortunately the JNI support in Android Studio is minimal at this point in time - not able to set breakpoints and debug the C code. Android works in terms of activities (screens) rather than Apps, which has been another area where the port took longer than expected. Unfortunately Google chose to hide many C APIs that are present in Android e.g. SQLite thus trying to force developers to use their Java APIs instead. This was a big mistake. From a technical and IDE perspective iOS is a far superior platform.

However I do prefer coding in Java compared to Objective-C, and releasing Apps on the Google Play store is much easier and faster than the Apple App store. With Apple a developer must wait over a week for the App to be reviewed, and Apple might reject the App for seemingly trivial or inconsistent reasons.

Android Studio posted 28/1/2015.

I have started to develop a small App under Android using an Ubuntu linux PC. Android Studio is now the recommended IDE to replace Eclipse. Unfortunately the NDK doesn't seem to have been integrated into Android Studio yet, so maybe it was premature to steer developers on to Android Studio ? I have spent many joyless hours trying to run javah in the Android Studio terminal window. Very painful. The only information I have found on the NDK and Android Studio in a video from Intel where Android Studio is running on a Windows machine. Xcode is a lot better than Android Studio ...

CES posted 12/1/2015.

Our visit to CES in Las Vegas provided many interesting discussions with audio player manufacturers to find how Gizmoot can work more seamlessly with their products. Media is now being streamed from the internet so the players must be able to play internet URLs. We saw some very beautiful music systems.

Philips AW5000 Network Speaker posted 25/7/2014.

After testing the Philips AW5000 network speaker with Gizmoot I find that the firmware is letting down an otherwise attractive, well made and great sounding speaker. The AW5000 isn't able to play pls and m3u radio streams when directed by UPnP AV. The UPnP AV seek action doesn't work. The internet radio and music streaming services supported by the speaker are only supported as web pages. These could have been browsable via UPnP AV to make a really powerful music system. If Philips address these issues then they will have a speaker that can challenge Sonos.

Android Phone and WiFi posted 13/3/2014.

After switching from an iPhone to a Huwei Ascend G510 Android smart phone everything went very well until I started receiving messages from Proximus that my credit was close to zero. Turns out that even when connected to a WiFi network my Huwei phone elected to use GPRS to download data from the internet by default. Worse still Proximus accepted this data traffic even though I had only bought prepaid credits for voice and SMS. So 30 euros of credit rapidly disappeared. First thing to do is set the Settings..Mobile Networks..Data Enabled option to NO on the Huwei phone. After a 25 minute wait on the telephone to Proximus I was able to explain the situation and Proximus then configured my subscription not to allow data traffic. They also refunded some of the credit I had lost. So beware !

Gizmoot V1.6 posted 10/1/2014.

After 6 months of hard work Gizmoot V1.6 is now available on the App Store. The iOS device can now be used as a player and the music and photos on the iOS device can now be streamed to UPnP devices on the local WiFi network. Music, Photo, Podcast, Vodcast, Internet Radio and TV URLs in OPML and RSS feeds can now be browsed and played. Gizmoot maintains a recent and favorites list of the media items played. In play queue mode songs can be queued to be played consecutively on a device. The App Store descriptions have now been translated into German, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Japanese and Korean. Unfortunately the App Store doesn't yet support Arabic (but iOS does).

iOS 7 Tech Talks in London posted 18/12/2013.

The Gizmoot project attended the Apple iOS Tech Talks in London. Lots of good information about the changes to the UI and porting to 64-bit. Plenty of Apple developers were on hand to answer questions. Unfortunately the latest Xcode doesn't support any versions of iOS before 4.3 and the last version of iOS for older devices is 4.2.1 so Gizmoot will no longer run on older devices ...

ICT Spring 2013 posted 19/6/2013.

The Gizmoot project visited the ICT Spring 2013 show in Luxembourg. There were some interesting talks on venture capital, intellectual property, Qwant search engine, PayPal and the Techniciolor Qeo protocol. A large number of booths contained startup projects uilising mobile Apps and/or the cloud.

LeWeb London 2013 posted 7/6/2013.

The Gizmoot project visited the LeWeb London 2013 show where the theme was the sharing economy. The presentations included a demonstration of Google Glass and a discussion of Bitcoin. The startup competition contained some interesting projects that might be able to integrate their media content into Gizmoot for playback ovet the home WiFi network.

4elephants Rally Sponsorship posted 16/3/2013.

The Gizmoot project has sponsored the 4elephants team in the Le 4L Trophy France to Morocco rally. Engineering students repairing a Renault 4 car, then drving it through France, taking a ferry across the Mediterranean sea, and then driving through the Morroccan desert to deliver aid to people sounds like a fantastic adventure. The perfect project for Gizmoot to sponsor ...

CFNetwork API posted 06/12/2012.

Until now the Gizmoot iPhone App has used the Apple CFNetwork API for TCP network communication. Despite having to work around some issues in the CFNetwork library, the good integration with the iOS virtual machine made it a good choice. Recent development has shown that when 2 packets arrive on 2 different connections (using different ports) from the same IP address close together, the first packet cannot be read. So Gizmoot has hit the limits of what CFNetwork can do, and will use sockets instead. It is another example of using the Apple Objective-C APIs only when absolutely necessary.

UPnP Forum posted 28/11/2012.

Bergin-IT has joined the UPnP Forum, which define the UPnP AV protocol standards used by the Gizmoot iPhone App to communicate with televisions, music systems, music servers, etc. The UPnP AV standards are a key component for ensuring that equipment from different manufacturers work together over a WiFi network.

Imerge S3000 posted 25/6/2012.

Started testing Gizmoot with the imerge S3000 sounder server. The imerge box supports UPnP AV and has one root device and 5 embedded devices all using the same IP address and port ! It's a good workout for the Gizmoot network stack ... it's a pity that the UPnP AV implemetation in the imerge box has to many bugs for it to be usable.

Gizmoot Facebook Page posted 22/6/2012.

The Gizmoot iPhone App now has a facebook page which provides another channel of communication between the users of Gizmoot and Bergin-IT. Such feedback is really useful.

ICT Spring 2012 posted 21/6/2012.

We demonstrated the Gizmoot iPhone App at the ICT Spring 2012 show in Luxembourg. The WiFi networks were completely saturated in the LuxExpo, so we were forced to demonstate Gizmoot running in the iPhone simulator on a MacBook connected via ethernet rather than WiFi. Otherwise the show was a great success, and we were able to have many interesting conversations with representatives from other companies. Bergin_IT is very grateful to ICT Spring for allowing us to participate on a Startup stand, and to Julien Bouteloup for helping demonstrate Gizmoot.

iSSDPTester becomes SSDPTester posted 16/6/2012.

The iSSDPTester App has been renamed SSDPTester. Unfortunately this involved creating a new App on the Apple App Store, and removing the old one. Apple also insisted on the iSSDPTester App being deleted before they would accept the new App. Hence no version of either App was available for 1 week while the SSPTester App was being approved by Apple. Apple really need to improve their App Store service to developers if they want to keep up with Android. There is a real risk in future that the best and most innovative Apps will only be available for Android. Just look at how RIM and Nokia are currently struggling, so no one should rest on their laurels ...

No more IPConfig App posted 9/6/2012.

Unfortunately Apple have decided to reject any further updates to the IPConfig App because they have decided that the user interface isn't good enough, even though they accepted the App until now. It's a pity because over 10000 people use this App, and some useful bug fixes and some nice new artwork were included in the next version. The App has been deleted because we wanted the icons to match those of our other Apps. The random nature of the Apple App approval process deters investment in App development. While Apple have "raised the bar" in terms of what they accept in other people's Apps, the quality of Xcode and OSX has deteriorated recently. Android might be a better choice of platform for the future.

CES posted 17/1/2012.

Our visit to CES in Las Vegas was very interesting with respect to the latest televisions which have now morphed into giant iPod Touches ! Some of the TVs act as touch screens while others use a wand IR remote control. All have Apps with App stores. Does this mean the end of STB and media servers ? Another theme of the show was connecting the devices of your home to the internet. Every company seems to be offering some kind of product.

Building pains with Xcode 4.2 posted 5/1/2011.

Apple have introduced 'Schemes' on top of build configurations in Xcode 4.2. Some build settings can be set per build configuration, but most are set for the target. Xcode no longer provides a GUI for configuring build configurations, and provide defaults of 'Debug' and 'Release'. Unfortunately when running an App only the 'Debug' build configuration can be used. Why did they change this ?

Xcode 4.2 and iOS 5 posted 9/12/2011.

After having installed Xcode 4.2 and re-built Gizmoot I was impressed to see that the new compiler has unearthed some interesting errors in the source code, which have now been fixed. The Xcode GUI has been reorganised which forces developers to find where existing tools have been hidden. I don't see much benefit in these changes, so Apple seem to be making the same mistake as Microsoft when they release new versions of Windows.

Discover Mingled using Gizmoot posted 7/9/2011.

See photos and play music from the Belgian powerpop band Mingled using Gizmoot by browsing the "Internet" item in the first Browse page in Version 1.2 of the Gizmoot App. The media lists feature of Gizmoot allows media files files on the internet to be browsed and played by Gizmoot users.

Gizmoot V1.2 is on the App Store posted 11/8/2011.

Version 1.2 of the Gizmoot App is now available on the App store. Some bugs have been fixed, and the Popcorn Hour A-200 and D-Link DSM-510 UPnP AV devices are now supported. Gizmoot supports media lists on the internet which can be browsed and played on UPnP AV media renderer devices. The "Internet" item in the first Browse page of Gizmoot contains media lists.

Gizmoot V1.1 is on the App Store posted 20/3/2011.

Version 1.1 of the Gizmoot App is now available on the App store. Unfortunately a bug related to [UIImage imageNamed] caused Gizmoot v1.0 to crash on some devices and not on others, depending on when iPhone OS decided to clean up the image. So beta testing with a wide group of devices is definitely worthwhile. The speed of discovery of devices on the network has been increased by caching the devices when the App exits i.e. when run next time Gizmoot will attempt to talk with the devices rather than waiting for a SSDP packet to notify that the device is available on the network. The higher definition icons can now be seen on iPhone 4 and iPad now that the Icon files property in the main bundle file has been set. Some extra UPnP devices are now supported. Gizmoot now supports a wider range of languages. Hopefully Gizmoot v1.1 is now a stable and useful remote control !

Visit to Philips, Leuven posted 25/2/2011.

Many thanks to the team developing the Streamium products at Philips in Leuven, Belgium for allowing Bergin-IT to test Gizmoot against their UPnP AV products. There are many different interpretations of the UPnP standard so being able to test Gizmoot with the devices is essential to ensuring good compatibility. The fruits of this work will appear in version 1.1 of Gizmoot. Many thanks to Yve De Buysscher for arranging the visit.

Evolution of UPnP AV posted 24/2/2011.

The UPnP and DLNA network protocol standards have been available for a long time but haven't yet achieved mainstream adoption. Initial uptake was restricted by low usage of WiFi networks in the home. That has now changed. The next impediment was the lack of handheld control point devices to browse the media files and select one for playback. The arrival of smartphones with a rich set of independently written Apps has yielded a number of UPnP AV control point options, including Gizmoot. The next impediment seems to be getting everything working easily and completely. Usage of UPnP AV devices in the home is still the domain of technology ethusiasts with network knowledge or friends with that experience. Using DLNA enabled devices tend to involve awkward steps to switch on obscure menu options. This presents equipment manufacturers with a commercial opportunity. For example, if a home cinema system with decent sound quality, several composite input/output channels, HDMI output for a TV, WiFi and ethernet built-in, built-in UPnP AV media server and renderer switched on and ready to go and USB connector for connecting hard drives and USB keys containing media files arrives on the market then a lot of people would be interested. Such a device would replace a lot of old equipment and provide the consumer with a truly enhanced experience compared with what they have now. Another important consideration is power consumption when the device is in standby mode. Ideally future UPnP/DLNA devices will allow the control point to switch then between their On state and standby. OEMs are welcome to contact Bergin-IT to discuss these issues in more detail.

Home Network Blog posted 24/2/2011.

Simon Mackay writes a fantastic blog related to home networks.

Gizmoot V1.0 is on the App Store posted 22/2/2011.

After many months of hard work, the Gizmoot App is now available on the App store, and can be blogged about. The App took longer to write because it has it's own UPnP network stack rather than using an off-the-shelf library. This approach has allowed optimisations at different levels of the network stack, workarounds for some eccentricities of other UPnP devices, and allows the App to suppport other types of UPnP services in the future. Gizmoot is a free App with an iAd advertising banner in the control screen. Future plans include a GizmootPro App that can be bought with extra features and without any iAd adverstisements.

App Store Customer Reviews posted 7/1/2011.

After viewing the customer reviews for Version 1.2 of the IPConfig App in iTunes Connect, I'm starting to doubt if this feedback is worthwhile. Out of 8000 customers to download this App only 3 have posted feedback on iTunes. One customer would like the App to solve his DNS problems, but Apple offers a limited API to iPhone OS developers, and such DNS operations are not available at present. The same customer noticed that version 1.1 crashed when running under iPhone OS 4.0 (because Apps didn't exit any more but when into the background instead), which is why version 1.2 was released. One customer from Australia rated the App as being poor, but it would have been interesting to find out why. I have found that feedback via email is much more effective in that it is 2-way and Bergin-IT can respond much more quickly. I hope that customers can appreciate that the App is free and that it's aim is only to report the details of the IP connection.

iAd Income posted 13/12/2010.

Version 1.2 of the IPConfig App has iAd advertisements. The reports supplied by Apple show that iAd is working in North America, France and the UK at present, so no income will be received from other countries. Over a 5 week period the approximate monthly income per user is 2 cents. The figure should rise once iAd is fully rolled out and matures. The response from users to iAd advertisements could wane over time as the novelty wears off.

iOS 4.1 posted 11/11/2010.

Version 1.1 of the iSSDPTester App has been ported to iOS 4.1. Now that Apps can go into the background rather than exiting (so that they can resume quickly) has an important impact i.e. the iSSDPTester App must close the UDP socket it is using in case the next App to run in the foreground needs to use the same UDP port. This is an important area of consideration for iPhone App developers.

iAd in IPConfig App posted 8/11/2010.

Version 1.2 of the IPConfig App has an iAd banner view below the UITableView containing the network configuration information. The iTunes Connect iAd Network reports the revenue earned from the advertisements, which should indicate if making an App free of charge but with iAd enabled is more profitable than charging for the App. More data is required.

App Store Customer Ratings posted 23/2/2010.

While searching the web to see the exposure of the iSSDPTester App, I visited the AppSpotlight site and then clicked on the 'See Reviews' link which loaded the Apple App Store page for the App. There I could see that 11 people had rated the App. However when viewing the App via iTunes no customer reviews are shown, yet the App is rated as 4+. This problem has been reported to Apple and has a Bug ID 7679197.

In response to Imran's review which stated that SSDP is an expired draft but used in UPnP, please note that UPnP AV is being used increasingly, so SSDP will be relevant for some time yet.

UPnP Stack posted 20/2/2010.

While writing a UPnP AV stack from scratch the flaws in the protocol design have become apparent. The SOAP/GENA packet payloads do not contain all of the needed information e.g. the upper UPnP layers need to know the HTTP resource URI. When sending a GENA event subscribe/unsubscribe packet the HTTP method must be set accordingly. So the network stack cannot simply encode/decode the payload bytes and route them to the next layer in the stack. This coupling between HTTP and UPnP effectively locks them together. This might explain why many of the public UPnP libraries have not succeeded in clearly separating the network layers. Implementing a new UPnP stack in C offers several advantages: C can be built on many different platforms while C++ isn't always available; clear network layer separation allows the network stack to be used in many applications rather than just UPnP AV; network layers can be substituted as needed because they are connected via dynamic callbacks; the implementation is documented and unit-tested.

iPad posted 8/2/2010.

The iPad was announced by Apple while I was away on holiday in Egypt. The doubling of the screen size should allow a wider diversity of Apps to be written than were feasible on the iPhone/iPod Touch devices, which is confirmed by iWork being available for the iPad. The soft keyboard is large enough to make typing on screen relatively painless. Having a 10 hour battery life should also increase the diversity of Apps. I'm happy to see that the iPad has a built-in microphone. The keyboard dock accessory is a great idea, although I worry that the 30-pin connector could be damaged when the touchscreen is pressed while in the dock. The iBookstore combined with the iPad should be a very successful combination. Apple say that nearly all existing iPhone OS Apps should run OK on the iPad. I was very impressed to receive an email from Apple inviting me to try the new SDK for iPad development. Apple are very well organised and are experts at launching new products. Those who choose to mock the iPad as a stretched iPhone should remember that some people cast doubts on the iPhone when it was launched. These are interesting times where IT technology and home devices are radically changing, and Apple seems to be at the forefront of these developments.

AppShopper posted 20/1/2010.

The AppShopper web site lists all of the available iPhone OS Apps and contains customer ratings ! I guess that the site must parse the iTunes App Store XML links to update its database. It's a pity that the customer ratings are not posted on the App Store. Another useful feature of the AppShopper web site are the RSS feeds for new Apps and changes.

App Sales posted 13/1/2010.

iSSDPTester was released in December as a tier 5 commercial App. The intention was to see how an App would fare with minimal promotion and not being free. By 9/1/2010 there were no sales, so the App was made free on the App store. Within 1 day several hundred copies of the App had been downloaded, so the price tier was changed back to tier 5. Since then there have been purchases of the App. So initially offering an App for free seems to be an effective way of generating customer interest.

XBMC Remote posted 12/1/2010.

The XBMC Remote v1.7.5 iPhone App works well with XBMC v9.04.1 running under Mac OSX. To set up XBMC on the Mac I had to add a music source (Music..Add Source..Type in path to root folder containing your music files), then right click on the newly added source and select 'Scan item to library'. Use the backspace key to go back to the previous screen. The XBMC Remote iPhone App was able to discover the XBMC server and could be used to play some music over WiFi.

Useful Blog for iPhone Developers posted 11/1/2010.

The Cocoa With Love blog contains a very good introduction to using singleton classes in Objective-C. The SYNTHESIZE_SINGLETON_FOR_CLASS macro is great !

Ubuntu Issues posted 6/1/2010.

The Ubuntu media players cannot always play DivX files, which seems to be an issue on other platforms too.

The command-line configuration required for using a flatbed scanner via the parallel port (SANE) shows that Ubuntu hasn't yet caught up with Windows in terms of ease of adding new peripherals. Not all USB scanners are supported by Ubuntu, normally due to lack of availability of technical information for driver developers.

Marketing of iPhone Apps posted 5/1/2010.

While the iPhone SDK provides a great platform for development and the App store provides a great sales channel, it appears to be widely accepted that the marketing of iPhone Apps remains a major challenge. The App store provides some initial exposure when the App is new, and Apps can be searched for by keyword. After that each iPhone developer must rely on recommendations either on the App store or on web sites dedicated to iPhone Apps. Unfortunately the vast majority of iPhone App customers do not bother to leave a 'Customer Review' on the App store.

Christmas Turkey posted 1/1/2010.

While in France over Christmas the inevitable requests for help with IT issues from family members cropped up.

My father successfully installed Ubuntu 9.10 on his old Dell PC which shows how far linux has come in terms of ease of use for non-experts. I installed the gstreamer plugins to allow playback of the most common media file formats. Unfortunately audio doesn't seem to work on Ubuntu 9.10 (whoops) so I suggest sticking with an older version (9.04) until this issue gets fixed.

Meanwhile my father-in-law had bought a Windows 7 machine with a HP Deskjet F4580 WiFi printer. Windows 7 seems to work a lot better han Vista, but still has those annoying popup messages asking for confirmation every time I want to install or run something. Microsoft have chosen to re-arrange the applications again which is headache for someone using Windows in a different language to what they are used to. The Start menu doesn't list all of the applications and provides a search facilty instead. This is a real pain. The HP printer was connected to the PC via USB rather than WiFi for a good reason ... the Orange Sagem Livebox-6b0a WiFi Access Point must be attached to a device via ethernet in order to accept the MAC address. Add to that that the Livebox uses a non-standard mixture of WEP and WPA encryption which means that the HP printer couldn't be connected via WiFi. That's a pity because all 6 of the USB connectors on his PC are in use meaning that he will have to unplug a USB device if he wants to add a USB memory stick. For the same reason I couldn't use my iPod Touch or MacBook (via WiFi) on the WLAN either. I wonder if Orange realise how bad these technical choices are ? I hope they drop these bad ideas in future because homes will have more networked devices, and it must be easy to add new devices to the WiFi network. My father-in-law gave a gallic shrug of the shoulders and said that computers were very complicated. I wonder how many other Orange customers in France are suffering from the same issue ? The Labtec Webcam Pro doesn't have a Windows 7 driver available yet so my father-in-law will have to buy a new webcam. He tried to install Skype but started installing an adware version from eoRezo instead, which luckily didn't install successfully. Trying to remove the eoRezo software wasn't easy because 'Add/Remove' programs has been renamed 'Programs and Features' in Windows 7.

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