Thursday, July 30, 2009

7 Sleeps til Windows 7

"7 sleeps til Windows 7" my coworkers chanted at me when I came in this morning. They are excited because that's when we'll get our hands on the official release of Windows 7.

On August 6, the RTM version of Windows 7 will be available to MSDN and TechNet subscribers. Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate versions can be downloaded which will include easier networking with homegroups, multi-touch support, and XP mode for virtualising legacy applications (business versions). We are especially excited about the multi-touch support. nsquared has already been working hard on some Windows 7 multi-touch samples. We will tell you more when we can!

For those that are not Microsoft partners, the release candidate of Windows 7 will be available until August 20, and the RTM (official release) version will go on sale with new computers beginning October 22. You can buy a PC now and upgrade it if it supports the Windows 7 Upgrade scheme.

If you have ideas about Windows 7 applications and want help expanding and implenting those ideas, contact us!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sealing Their Lips

What's up with Apple?? So many articles out there about iPhone silencing Google Voice, a service that helps people manage their communication. The issue is even trending on Twitter!

While Apple obviously has every right to allow or disallow applications from their App Store, should they exploit that right so ridiculously? What does it say about them? The worst part is that they won't give a reason. This frustrating article published by Riverturn, the creators of the Google Voice VoiceCentral app for iPhone, highlights Apple's bad manners and mediocre public relations on the matter.

We've always made our support for Apple clear at nsquared. Though they initially rejected our Translation Station app, we were able to reason with them in the end. We sincerely wish good luck to the makers of Voice Central and GV Mobile, and to Google. And to Apple we say - unseal thy lips.

At nsquared we are prepared to build on any platform, not just Apple and iPhone. So if you want help producing an application without the danger of being silenced by Apple, we would love to help! Contact us!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Do You Have What it Takes?

According to a recent study by ACS, the majority of Australian teenagers are eager to pursue careers in IT. The industry has shed it's "nerdy" image and is now as sexy as the acting, gaming, and fashion industries. Teens are excited to both make money and participate in the leading edge of technology.

But be warned, oh Generation Z, IT will not deliver if you don't. This highly romanticized field is not for the faint-hearted. It takes a true lover of technology, someone infused with enthusiasm and zest for understanding of the vast possibilities the future holds. Someone willing to take risks and expose their internal creative nature. And someone willing to get down and dirty with the code and the deadlines.

At nsquared, we have a passion for technology and as well as a firm committment to the realities of the field. If you have these qualities and something unique to offer, contact us! Can you deliver?

Monday, July 27, 2009

nsquared Listens

What do we listen to? Of course, rocking tunes on alternating iPods, and streaming music, especially Musicovery. We usually agree on something energetic with an edge, though Kris prefers the more positive beat. :)

What else do we listen to? Since we are agile, we listen to our customers. We pay constant attention to their evolving needs and wants, and respond immediately to feedback. But we also see that the best solutions aren't always based on user expectations or ideologies. As Henry Ford said, "If I had asked my customers for what they wanted, they'd have said a faster horse."

So most of all, nsquared listens to the future. We listen for hints of breathtaking innovation in the news, from our top secret sources, and from you. Contact us with your unusual, edgy, and experimental ideas. We listen, we keep quiet, and we deliver.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Too Much Magic?

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic," so said the famous creator of HAL. Hmmm, HAL. An impending reality?

The New York Times on Friday reported on a group of scientists concerned that artificial intelligence may soon become a threat. The scientists met in February, but are just now beginning to speak openly of the results of their conference. The article spoke of the many dangers of an expanding world of AI including computers taking over warfare and the"social disruptions" brought on by computers that are too human. Computer viruses would pose an even greater risk in such a situation, allowing these powerful machines to spin out of control with the power we will have given them.

Should there be limits placed on AI research? What do you think? At nsquared we say be respectful, be wise, and bring it on! Bring on the research and the development. Bring on Arthur's sufficiently advanced technology. Bring on iPhones that talk and Surface tables that walk. If you need a company to help you implement YOUR magic, contact us!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

iPhone Spread

iPhone is spreading across the globe, with nearly 50% of iPhones being used outside the US now. Today, Australian based nsquared has its own iPhone spread to show you...

Check out some of our fab apps

  • Translation Station: Translate between 12 languages using the Microsoft Translator.
  • Lady Match: Match the gorgeous girls in this new twist on Snap.
  • Pic Picker: Match your own pictures in another Snap game.
  • Follower: Play this game of memory and concentration by repeating the patterns.
  • Finger Bars: Repeat the notes on the colored bars using your fingers.
Thanks for checking out our stuff! If you need an iPhone app you would like developed, contact us!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Why be Humble?

I've seen one NYT article call the Windows 7 RTM a "Release to Modesty". There is so little enthusiasm from Microsoft. The usually animated Steve Ballmer actually downplayed the whole thing on Tuesday, stating, "Hopefully, Windows 7 will be part of a catalyst. Maybe it will. Maybe it won't." Though he was speaking of the potential effect of Windows 7 on the PC market, we think he should have been a tad bit more excited.

Vista has had lots of bad press. Vista is actually a great operating system but the software built on Windows nowadays does nothing to highlight the great features of Vista and so the blame is laid on Vista. Now Microsoft really needs to get behind developers building great software for the Windows 7 APIs. If Microsoft continues to encourage developers to keep building applications using the lowest common denominator abstraction, called .NET, then we will likely continue to see the problems that Vista has with Windows 7.

We think Windows 7 has great potential. More stable than Vista, more polished, more evolved. And it was successfully finished on time! Windows 7 has received a consistent amount of positive feedback, and the pre-orders demolished the Vista pre-orders. So where's the Microsoft generated hype? Where's the glossy marketing? Such a shame that they aren't more confident, because confidence sells.

nsquared isn't afraid to toot our own horn! We have been working hard on multiple projects using the Windows 7 touch capabilities on our touch screens. While we can't reveal the details quite yet, stay tuned! If you have project ideas you would like to see implemented using the new Windows 7 features, contact us!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

nsquared = [Form] + Function() + Innovation++;

Yesterday Apple announced a 626 percent growth over last year. In an economic downturn, people find the funds for what they think they need, and obviously lots of people think they need an Apple!

What makes Apple so successful? Can we quantify it with science? Does Steve know? Here at nsquared, we believe a combination of form, functionality, and innovation drive the Apple sales (along with plenty of glam marketing material).

You can see our appreciation for form, function, and innovation in two of our own most recent products, managedmaps and managedchatroom. Take a look and let us know what you think!

If you are looking for a software company to help deliver your products, and you desire an agile, customer-focused approach, look no further! Contact us.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Work with the Microsoft Surface Simulator

Today Dr. Neil and I sat down once again to chat about Microsoft Surface. We talked about the Surface Simulator and how you can use it to supplement your Surface application development. Watch our vlog and learn how and when to ideally work with the Surface Simulator.

If you have an idea for a sexy Surface application you would like to see implemented, or have a need for Surface training in your area, contact us.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Surface Presentation in the Netherlands

Surface Table On August 6th, Dr. Neil will be presenting a session at the Microsoft Surface user group in the Netherlands and the local community is pretty excited about it! Read about it here. If you can't read Dutch, I will provide a translation courstesy of the Bing Translator (with some minor edits).

On 6 August 2009, we have a special guest: Dr. Neil Roodyn is in the Netherlands and has offered to speak to the user group dotNed Surface. Of course, we would like to make use of this offer!

Dr Neil Roodyn is the official trainer for Microsoft Surface development. He gives his training throughout the world and at Microsoft events. He regularly communicates with the public and the press about the capabilities of this new platform.

In this session Dr. Neil will focus on the soft skills of Surface development. He will speak about design and usability issues, which are particularly important aspects of the Surface. But, of course, he knows the answers to almost all of your development questions, both in the areas of WPF and Microsoft XNA.

This evening is hosted by Capgemini Los Angeles. As usual, there will be something to eat and drink, and then the session starts at 7:00. Of course this special evening is free of charge.

If you are in the Netherlands and are interested in attending, click this link: Aanmelden voor deze bijeenkomst to sign up. nsquared headquarters are in Sydney, Australia and we offer Surface training worldwide. Contact us if you would like Surface training for your area.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Silverlight 3

Last Friday Silverlight 3 was released, though it has been available in beta for a while now. As it is version 3, it has all the things we wanted in version 1.

At nsquared we have been doing some work with Silverlight 3 and the advantages over Silverlight 2 seem small but tidy. The tooling however has mostly gotten a lot better. Blend 3 is really looking good, it hardly even crashes any more. Strangely Visual Studio seems to have taken a step back with no visual preview of the Silverlight rendered from the XAML.

The Silverlight 3 out of the browser experience on OSX would be nice if we had not already implemented our own version for Silverlight 2 last year. It is great that Microsoft can maintain that experience for us in a way that reduces our costs.It seems like more and more teams at Microsoft are now fixing their websites to drop Flash and move over to Silverlight. Our favorite is, of course, the new Surface website.

As always, nsquared is staying ahead of the curve by implementing the very latest technology products. We are here to help you bring your innovative software ideas to life!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

One and a Half Billion Downloads

And some of those were ours! nsquared's Dr. Neil has published numerous iPhone apps, including Translation Station which has recieved over 5,000 downloads. We have more in the works, so stay tuned!

With 65,000 applications to compete with, how can you make yours one of the next 1.5 billion? First, of course it must be sexy. I don't mean an application about sex (though those are great too), it must be sexy in that it appears engaging, attractive, and inviting. Second, it must offer intuitive functionality. Third, it must be either useful or entertaining (or both). If it meets those qualifications, combined with good marketing, your app will be unstoppable!

If you have an idea for an iPhone application, nsquared can help you make it awesome, gorgeous, and irresistible! Contact us!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Managed Maps for Your Site

Yesterday nsquared released managedchatroom, the easiest way put a chat room on your web site. Did you know we produced managedmaps as well? We've made it simple to add a Bing map to your web page, just copy the code and go!

managedmaps enables you to add a full color interactive map to your own web site for only $10 per month using your Windows Live ID. Use the map to view communities worldwide in Road and Aerial view, and add pushpins to locations of your choosing. It’s fun to use and easy to add a map to your site. Check out managedmaps!

Monday, July 13, 2009

nsquared stands up for Surface!

What were they THINKING!?! A Gizmodo article published on July 10, 2009 claimed that Windows 7 MultiTouch can demonstrate the full power of Microsoft Surface. Of course nsquared has something to say about that. We love Windows 7 MultiTouch as much as Surface, but the point is that they serve different purposes.

Watch as Dr. Neil refutes the Gizmodo guys!

And as always, if you have ideas needing implementation for Windows 7 MultiTouch or Microsoft Surface, contact us!

Multi-User Chat Room Released!

nsquared's managedchatroom is the simplest and fastest way to put a chat room on your web site! Just follow the instructions on

Our chat room is ideal for web site chats of all sizes. Even use it for live events! From small classroom lectures to extra-large functions, the chat room is perfect. The audience can use the chat room to communicate with other attendees and the speaker can moderate the communication in real time.

Some of the nsquared managedchatroom features include:

  • Scales no matter how many users participate (the chatroom automatically creates new rooms within the ‘chatroom’ as each room reaches capacity, thereby preventing thousands of people from trying to talk at once in one room)
  • Contains a complete moderator toolset that includes broadcasting to all rooms within the chatroom, merging rooms, setting the room topic/name, moving users between rooms, banning users, making users moderators, private messaging users, and answering questions asked privately to moderators
  • Anyone with a LiveID can sign in and have their own unique name (there is no need to go through a separate signup process to chat)
  • Offers guest access with anti-bot random generated code
  • Contains a profanity filter
  • Enables easy placement of the chatroom frame into any format that accepts regular HTML
  • The chatroom is unique to the web site it is placed upon and cannot be replicated on any other site due to LiveId authentication
  • Chatroom owners have access to a web control panel where they can view and moderate all of the users that have accessed the chatroom

Check it out for a free 2-hour trial period!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

nsquared and Microsoft Surface Capabilities parts 1 & 2

Today on our vlog, Dr. Neil and Maridee discuss how to best showcase some of the fantastic Microsoft Surface capabilities using basic development techniques. Learn about how you can use WPF and XNA to program for Surface, and discover the differences between the WPF layer and Core layer of the Surface SDK.

We hope you enjoy our presentation and join us for future vlogs about Surface development. Remember to contact us for help with your Surface development needs.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

nsquared Surface Out-of-the-Box Experience

Today for our vlog, presented on location at the nsquared Australia office, Dr. Neil discusses some vital Microsoft Surface setup questions. What are some considerations when first unpacking and placing a Surface unit at a location? Why is calibration important and what is the best method? Where can you access applications for your new Surface?

Thanks for checking out our vlog and be sure to contact us if you have Surface ideas to implement or would like training in your area!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Zune-Phone Rumors Persist

With all of the iPhone love in this office, you may wonder what we think of Windows Mobile... Well, truth be told, our founders were Windows Mobile geeks to start out with and there will always be a special place in our hearts for it.

The recent rumors published in the Washington Post, Engadget, and BrightHand suggest that Microsoft's "Project Pink" might actually be a phone in its own right instead of just extended Windows functionality for other devices that already contain Microsoft software. Whatever the case may be, nsquared is not just an iPhone shop. We have a love of all cutting edge technology, as long as it is gorgeous, sexy, and functional. The iPhone ticks these boxes. Will the Zune-Phone?

As always, if you need help developing your ideas for iPhone or Windows, contact us!

Monday, July 6, 2009

nsquared is Agile!

On Thursday last week, we received a request from some clients to spend time in Europe. We responded in agile fashion. Dr, Neil was on the plane from Australia by Sunday afternoon in response to their query, knowing full well that nothing can substitute for face-time with the customer (or potential customer).

What is Agile? says, "quick and well-coordinated in movement" and "marked by an ability to think quickly; mentally acute or aware."

Agile software development must be all of these things and more. It is a strict process focused on flexiblity, a disciplined aproach to being versatile. Those may sound like oxymoronic expressions, but not the case. At nsquared, we are rigidly committed to excellence through iterations (small steps to reach the larger goal), consistently relying on customer feedback and always ready to change direction in a moment's notice. In fact, Dr. Neil wrote a book about it!

Stay tuned for more adventures in agility with nsquared!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

nsquared Discusses the Microsoft Surface Vision

Why was Microsoft Surface created? What are the basic principles of Surface design? Where does Surface really shine? Join Dr. Neil and Maridee in the Australia office as they discuss all these questions and more in nsquared's latest in a series of Surface vlogs.

Stay tuned for more Surface magic!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Why Software Sucks

Dr. Neil is whinging again (Australian for whining) about poor software development. He says the wrong people are developing software because the common tools have become so easy (see his blog post, "democratization of software") and that developers aren't avidly considering UX. His favorite book on the subject, David Platt's Why Software Sucks supports his theory.

"I could think of a way to get a higher percentage of software developers thinking of UX" says Dr. Neil. "Remove the others." Wow, imagine working for THIS guy! He sure doesn't mince words! :)

Here at nsquared, UX is our priority. We start with UX considerations for every project and then use the right tools for the right jobs. The problem with the majority of developers out there is that they don't know enough tools. "It's the hammer and nail analogy," says Dr. Neil. "If all you have is a hammer, you try to use it for everything." Of course we use Visual Studio, Expression Blend, and other Microsoft tools, but we are also adept at a number of other programs such as Paint.NET and Xcode, Dashcode, NUnit, and many others.

If you have projects where wowing the end user is your priority, contact us!