Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Are YOUR Development Skills Surfacing?

Microsoft Surface development poses many challenges. While the technological aspects aren't that complicated (if you know WPF, you're well on your way), the creative shift in mindset is enormous and essential.

Today Dr. Neil and I sat down in our Australia office to do our first vlog addressing some of these challenges in response to an article on the ars technica site. We plan to start doing these regularly, so stay tuned. If you need help or training on Microsoft Surface development, contact us!

Monday, June 29, 2009

iPhone Heats It Up!

And not in the usual, sexy, Apple way. Recent reports speak of the iPhone 3G S overheating! This is distressing news for our customers, and our hearts go out to them. Over a million iPhone 3G S phones were sold over the first weekend, and though only a few reports have been made, the problem is severe enough that the beautiful white casing of the iPhone is turning brown on some phones.

At nsquared, we believe that beauty is essential to our creations, but beauty is only skin-deep if functionality is compromised. In no case will we ship a completed product that is not gorgeous AND functional. This is a sad day for Apple, belying their usual enviable standards. We know they will fix the problem asap!

For worldwide help with developing attractive applications for iPhone, Microsoft Surface, Windows 7, and much more, contact nsquared. (Though we are physically located in Australia, our customer base is worldwide.) We look forward to hearing from you!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Microsoft Surface Resto Touch

Presenting Resto Touch by after-mouse with a little help from their friends at nsquared in Sydney!

nsquared consulted for after-mouse on this magnificent application soon to be appearing on Microsoft Surface units at various restaurants and cafes in France. The application represents a revolution in customer service for the restaurant industry, allowing people to order drinks and food right from the comfort of their seats using the Microsoft Surface. The after-mouse creation even offers wine suggestions through a virtual sommelier.

The use of Microsoft Surface has created tremendous buzz and increased traffic for bars like the iBar in the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas, and such attention could easily become a reality for your retail or service-oriented business. As always, if you need help taking a Microsoft Surface idea and turning it into a gleaming experience, contact us!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What is sexy?

Everyone knows sex sells... Apple obviously knows that in their attractive designs. But in the words of Snoop Dogg, "Drop it like it's hot" seems to be more of the attitude these day when apps cross the libidinous line, even with the iPhone 3.0's parental restriction capabilities.

Where's the line one may wonder? Where should it be? You can shake apps to see a girl's clothes fall off, partially anyway. Do we want to be able to view the whole bod? I mean, we were all born naked, right? Sex is undeniably a wonderful part of life worth celebrating. But maybe showing less and leaving some to the imagination is sexier? An age old question...

Here in Australia at nsquared, we like sex! Our aim is always to create gorgeous, sexy software - not in a pornographic sense, but in that beautiful, titillating sense that leaves people wanting more. Do you have sexy ideas you want help developing? We are here for you!

p.s. iPhone 3G S was released today in Australia, hooray!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

iPhone Knows How

While painstakingly writing a long email to my boss on the ferry last night, I realized that my thoughts were coming across a bit disjointed. I mean, describing a magical Surface application is never easy, especially with one finger! iPhone’s Cut/Copy/Paste functionality allowed a convenient rearranging of my ideas and the email was sent speedily on its way. It's great! Just tap, move your finger, and tap again. Tada!

Whether you're an aspiring philosopher, or needing to express complex business concepts on the go, iPhone is a fantastic tool for composing ideas. If you have some great ideas for iPhone applications or Surface applications contact us at nsquared and we can help you turn those ideas into realities.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Translation Station, iPhone language translation

Translation Station, Dr. Neil's latest iPhone application, was upgraded on June 21st. Translation Station is a free app using the Microsoft Translator that you can use to translate between twelve languages. Thanks Dr. Neil!

nsquared is building more iPhone apps every day! Come to us for help with your ideas at www.nsquaredsolutions.com.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

nsquared's Seriously Sexy Surface Software

In an article on June 11 entitled Lonely Planet snaps up Microsoft’s sci-fi computer, Asher Moses described Lonely Planet as being the “first local company to harness Microsoft’s radical new Surface coffee table-computer…” Microsoft evangelist Shane Morris goes on to say, “Lonely Planet is the first Australian brand to start seriously exploring what you can do with Surface.”

This information is so factually deprived that it borders on slander.

Lonely Planet is NOT the first in Australia. Two reasons this article is mistaken:
1. Sydney based nsquared solutions has been developing Surface applications since the birth of the company in April, 2008. Dr. Neil, our CEO, was working with Surface applications before that and partnering with the US Microsoft Surface team. Dr. Neil has been responsible for ALL of the Surface training throughout Europe in 2008 and 2009. We have developed more than 12 separate, completely functional games and applications for Surface.
2. The Lonely Planet application is not going to be released in their Sydney store, so what is even the Australian connection, aside from the fact that the application just happened to be demonstrated at Australian REMIX 09?

We take exception to this nonsense. In addition to our history of developing Surface applications on our own, nsquared recently partnered with After-Mouse, a French based company and European leader in tactile technology development. After-Mouse was voted Microsoft Startup of the Day on May 15, 2009.

The following is a list of applications created by nsquared for Surface.
· The Chemistry App
· The Circuit App
· nsquared Numbers
· nsquared Letters
· Surface Says
· nsquared Snap
· Herding
· Word Play
· Where in the World
· Missing Card
· Name It

nsquared is continuing to innovate and develop natural user interfaces employing touch and vision systems with many more announcements to come.
As always, please contact us if you need help implementing your Surface ideas at http://www.nsquaredsolutions.com/.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The REAL June 17th?

So I guess today is the Real 17th, or, in Australia the 18th.

We noticed yesterday after our post went up that Apple had changed the Australian iTunes site to indicate June 18th instead of the 17th. Interesting... ;)

All the drama aside, I am truly pleased with my iPhone upgrade. And the fact that is was free... well, that brings to mind another point. In general, Apple's upgrades are smoother and less expensive than other company's upgrades (you know who I mean)... Snow Leopard will ship for $129, and a meager $29 for for those with the previous OS. This makes their products more accessible and their customers more willing to forgive them for being ever so slightly provincial in their release date planning. :)

We at nsquared are enthusiastic about ANY bleeding edge developments, so if you have ideas for iPhone apps, (or Windows apps, or Smartphone apps, or Surface apps) we are ready to help! Contact us at www.nsquaredsolutions.com.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

When is the real June 17?

To be or not to be June 17! The iPhone upgrade release date was much anticipated in our office. We all came in with our phones ready to upgrade, waiting for the new copy and paste feature, the new landscape keyboard, the new ability to MMS, the new MobileMe.... but wait! NOOoooooo! They meant PST. Does the whole world runs on Pacific Standard Time now?

I used to live in Redmond, same time zone as Cupertino, and I guess I just took for granted that the whole world understood that technology time was whatever time it was in PST. Americans can be ever so slightly provincial (I can say that as an American). But now I'm in Sydney, and low and behold, a new realization astounds me. June 17 is today, and this was the date they told us at the APPLE store on George Street and on the world wide web's APPLE web site. What gives?!? Where's my new toys?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

What is social networking anyway??

Some people think that Facebook is the biggest social networking engine, with 200 million active users, half of which log on every single day. But consider this… Microsoft Live Messenger has 320 million users! Why don’t we think of them when we hear the term “social networking”?

Social networks are online communities made up of any number people that have a shared interest and interact via technological media. That’s it. That’s all there is to it. So why, for example, did Mr. Notorious R.O.B. have a beef with Seattle-based John L. Scott Real Estates selection of Live Services as their tool of choice when venturing into the social networking sphere? See his post here. Mr. Rob – we think you have seriously under-rated Microsoft Live Services.

Microsoft is all about accessibility – they are the masters of the commoditization of geek technology. What I mean by that is that Microsoft has historically provided entrance to high-end, elite technology by making it user-friendly for the masses – from the Windows GUI framework for early PC users to the up and coming Visual Studio 2010 for developers today. And they have done that with social networking from the start. Just because people don’t realize that they are social networking when they are using the Live Services doesn’t mean that they aren’t. In fact, they probably don’t even care. There is a difference between the Uber-Geek who buys into technology for the sake of it being new, and the mainstream user who buys into technology for what it can do for them.

MOST people are mainstream consumers of technology and are drawn to the tools that work. Microsoft knows how to build products that work, and Microsoft is here to stay. There was no risk in John L. Scott using a Microsoft product. Facebook, Twitter, etc. are all the rage today, but are they here to stay?? Is the passive use of a posting service as effective as interactive discussions (thanks Angus)? And while Google is great on many levels, Microsoft Live Messenger is ACTUALLY way more popular, so why would John L. Scott choose anything (anyone) BUT Microsoft Live Services? Check out the new JLSConnect product on http://www.johnlscott.com/. By the way, we at nsquared had a little something to do with it… ;)

Follow us on Twitter! http://twitter.com/nsquaredmagic

It's Just Not Fair!

Why does Mac get to release Snow Leopard with Safari in Europe in September, when the old evil empire has to release Windows 7 without a browser? It just doesn't seem fair to us. Don't get me wrong - we're not just a Microsoft shop here, we love our Macs at nsquared, and are even working on some projects that involve Apple products... ;)

This isn't a post about whether Safari is better than IE 8, we even deliberate upon that in the office. It's just simply that it doesn't seem FAIR! What do you think?

Contact us for help with your Microsoft or Mac projects, we'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Mapping Product Formerly Known as Virtual Earth

What is this? Virtual Earth is now Bing Maps for Enterprise?? Well, except for the long name, it makes sense to us.

With the release of Bing as Microsoft's new search engine, or "decision engine" as one news release called it, it seems timely that Microsoft should condense their branding. Bing Maps for Enterprise is the platform that underlies the Maps portion of Bing. It will also be the new brand name behind the thousands of Virtual Earth maps utilized by businesses worldwide, on their websites, in their solutions, and as part of their applications.

Is this just a change in the watermark, or is there more to it? From my understanding, the API calls will remain the same, using the Virtual Earth references. The terms of use will also remain the same except for the name, so no need to review them again. The only thing Virtual Earth/Bing Maps for Enterprise users need concern themselves with is if they refer to Virtual Earth on their website or have implemented a Virtual Earth logo themselves. These should be changed by September 1, 2009 at the latest.

So have a go - check out www.bing.com/maps and have a look at the new branding.
Did you know nsquared is your expert on mapping tools! Contact us for help integrating maps with your website or applications!

Monday, June 8, 2009

iPhone 3G space S

Hot news flash of the day at WWDC09 (World Wide Developer Conference): Apple releases new iPhone!

The new iPhone 3G S (for Speed) is twice as fast. Messages launched 2.1x faster, viewing attachments 3x faster, etc. The phone also includes a better camera, video taking capabilities, voice control, improved battery life, and more! A new feature called "Find my iPhone" allows you to log into the internet and view where your phone is. You can also remotely wipe the phone if necessary.

According to the keynote, developers have downloaded the iPhone SDK over a million times. nsquared counts for some of those - just wait and see what we have in the works for iPhone! We are hard at work on a couple of apps and will tell you more when we can. Have your own idea you need help implementing? Feel free to contact us!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Azure Developer Challenge!

Early last month Microsoft announced its latest Developer Challenge to US Developers. This week on Monday (June 1), the contest was opened to the International Development community.

new CloudApp() is the Azure Services Platform Developer Challenge open to US Developers, and the Rest of the World, separately. Opened early this week for the likes of us downunder in Oz, the Challenge aims to find the best cloud application or service that can be built using the Azure Services Platform.

Submissions close on July 9, 2009 and the International winner will be judged by the Community who will vote for their favourite apps between July 10 and July 20.

With a $2500 VISA Gift Card up for grabs and the prestige, we think it’s worth the effort: How about you?

Find out more here: http://www.newcloudapp.com/

Monday, June 1, 2009

bing (beta) is Live

Or is it that Live is bing? Whichever way you look at it, bing is set to change our expectations of search engines and already leads the way. bing beta went live at around 11am Australian time on Monday. The staged rollout was completed in around 24 hours, and the results look great.
We took a peak at the preview that was released earlier and have spent some time exploring Microsoft’s new search engine over the last day. We’re impressed to find that it does what the preview promises. Better search results, with great context and heaps of extra information that you don’t get without spending more time on other search engines. Perhaps it’s best that we reserve our judgment until at least day two, but from what we’ve seen today, we think the other search engines are now playing catch up.