Submit to Community Credit 1.0 plug-in released

Submit to Community Credit I happened to stumble upon the new Windows Live Writer SDK post and the example of announcing the post on Twitter and I realised I finally had a simple and effective way of publishing my blog posts to Community Credit.

I’d previously looked at the Community Server plug-in with the intention of rewriting it and integrating it into the SA Developer .NET community site but in the end I simply ran out of time and the effort required to go through the Community Server SDK documentation far exceeded the desire to get it integrated. However I stumbled upon Keyvan Neyyeri’s post about his Community Credit Service Library 1.0.

So after looking at the Twitter Notify sample from the Windows Live Writer SDK I quickly mashed together the Submit to Community Credit plug-in. The great thing about it is that it works with all blogging engines that Windows Live Writer supports. I’ve tested it with Community Server 2008 and WordPress 2.6 but it shouldn’t make any difference as it requires no server-side support.

You can download the binaries from here. I intend to build a simple installer and release the source code in the coming weeks. I look forward to user feedback and feature requests.

27dinner photos and follow-up

27dinner Last night I attended the Johannesburg 27dinner and as usual I took too many photos. All in all there were three talks presented by Kate Elphick, Jason Hobbs and Charl Norman. Unfortunately the restaurant patrons upstairs made it very difficult for people at the back of the restaurant to follow the presentations as they were being rather loud the whole evening. Nonetheless, I had a great evening and met quite a few new faces.

Here are a couple of photos:

You can find the rest of the photos over here for your viewing pleasure. Be sure to book your place for the next 27dinner in Jozi on the 27th of September.

Time to monetize your gaming creativity

XNA Creators Club Online We all knew it was coming and finally its confirmed and coming to an Xbox 360 console near you later this year. Using the free XNA Game Studio 2.0 coupled with Visual C# Express Edition from Microsoft you can now not only design and build your own games to run on Windows and the Xbox 360 gaming console, but now you can share them with the community through the Xbox LIVE network of over 12 million members. I’m assuming the new feature will be delivered with the New Xbox Experience later this year called Xbox LIVE Community Games.

As a Premium member in the XNA Creators Club, you’ll be able to submit any complete Xbox 360 game you’ve created in XNA Game Studio to the Creators Club community at http://creators.xna.com, for peer review. Other Premium Creators will check to make sure your game is safe to play. If it is, you’ll set a price point – between 200 and 800 Points – that people will pay to download your game.

Once the game is reviewed and the price point set, you’re done. The game is listed on Xbox LIVE Marketplace, and you’ll get a check every quarter, for up to 70% of the game’s total revenue in your own currency. Depending on your game’s success, you may even have your game advertised on Xbox 360 and other Microsoft online properties.

Just imagine – your game in the hands of millions of Xbox 360 gamers around the world: that’s the power of Community Games.

Make games, Make money But wait, that isn’t even the best part. You can also put a price tag of between 200 and 800 Microsoft Points on your game and you’ll get a quarterly payment from Microsoft as users buy your game. Well you’ll actually get 40% to 70% of the revenue depending on how its marketed but normally it will be a 70% revenue share. Wicked stuff isn’t it? I think so.

The only big drawback right now is that its only available to XNA Creators Club Premium members in the U.S., Canada, U.K., France, Italy and Spain for now. They plan to add more countries to the list later in the year.

Head on over to the XNA Creators Club site and sign up, download the tools and while you are at it, enter the XNA Dream-Build-Play Challenge 2008 and win. Thanks Microsoft, this is an awesome idea for the aspiring game developer and a great way to grow the game developer community.

Windows Home Server Power Pack 1 released

Windows Home Server After months of beta testing, the Power Pack 1 update to Microsoft Windows Home Server has been released. This is awesome as it fixes the data corruption bug and finally introduces support for Windows Vista x64. You can download the update (build 1800) from here.

I’ve personally been very interested in Windows Home Server ever since I saw bits of it at the MVP Summit early in the year. What I find really cool about it is the ability to easily do centralised backups for up to 10 PCs. The server only stores one copy of each unique file thus making backups of multiple Windows machines running similar software configurations a pleasure when it comes to the disk space required. Add to that its a headless server by design and provides centralised folder shares and media sharing.

I’ll soon be posting my own how to guide on building and installing your own Windows Home Server. In the meantime, here is the write-up on Power Pack 1 from the Windows Home Server Team:

The team is pleased to announce that Windows Home Server Power Pack 1 has been released to manufacturing (RTM) and is now available on the Microsoft Download Center!

The English version is available now and German, Spanish and French versions will be available on the Download Center soon. Windows Home Server customers who don’t download it on their own will receive Power Pack 1 via Windows Update in August, and the new Chinese and Japanese versions will RTM in August, too.

As many know, Power Pack 1 provides a range of new enhancements, including support for home computers running Windows Vista x64 editions, backup of home server Shared Folders, improvements to remote access, more efficient power consumption and improved performance. And, of course, it delivers a fix for the data corruption bug. Documentation for Power Pack 1 (Build #1800, to those who have been part of the beta testing) is available here.

Our OEM partners will be updating their systems with Power Pack 1 and HP will release a software update for the HP MediaSmart Server, delivering enhanced media streaming capabilities from PacketVideo, server-side anti-virus from McAfee and compatibility with 64-bit home PCs.

Windows Home Server can now be purchased in 50 countries worldwide. And a growing ecosystem of third-party software developers have released or announced approximately 60 Add-in programs extending Windows Home Server’s capabilities. The Windows Home Server SDK has been updated for Power Pack 1, too, including new support for the client PC side, i.e. notifications to/from home computers.

We continue to hear fantastic feedback from our customers about how Home Server is helping them protect their digital media, share it with friends and family, and access it from outside of the home. Thank you to our beta testers and partners for helping us ship Power Pack 1, and to the Home Server community as a whole for its ongoing support and enthusiasm.

ServerQuest – Dilbert meets Space Quest

ServerQuestIts like Dilbert meets the good old quest games from Sierra Online. Yeah I’m talking about the hugely popular Police Quest, Kings Quest and Space Quest series from what was it, the late 1980s?

Blue MonsterWell it looks like somebody at Microsoft liked them as much as I did. They have created their very own quest game, in Flash. Its called Microsoft TechNet ServerQuest and its all about the life of a server techie named Matt and is set in a typical IT department. One of the cool things about it are the web tie-ins where you need to lookup web articles to get clues to complete the quests.

A rather cool surprise was the appearance of the Blue Monster, the new Microsoft staff mascot.

Do yourself a favour and spend some time playing it, its quite fun.

Managed type converters and Blend resolved

I previously posted about Blend 2.5 June Preview not supporting managed type converters and I’m pleased to report that the team has resolved it according to the bug report that I filed.

Hopefully we’ll see a new build of Blend 2.5 very soon as I’m quite tired of not being able to size DataGrid columns properly. In the meantime I’ve resorted to using the MinWidth property, but it isn’t quite the same.

Xbox 360 Announcements from E3

So the Sony boys are excited about Home, well the Xbox 360 fans are now excited about the new look Xbox 360 Dashboard which has just been announced at E3 dubbed The New Xbox Experience. It will be hitting your consoles during the Fall 2008 update, that’s Spring 2008 for all of use southern hemisphere people.

The New Xbox Experience dashboard courtesy of Joystiq

Besides a whole new look, the update will introduce the new party system where you can put your friends into groups. Also included are avatars which was bound to appear after competing consoles added them.

For the Guitar Hero fans that prefer a bit more interaction with their consoles and those that like games like Singstar, the Xbox 360 will be getting Lips. Its a cool new game where you can choose your own music and go karaoke with it. And if using your own tunes wasn’t exciting enough, it will be coming with wireless microphones so no more irritating wires in the way.

For those that like trivia and good family entertainment, SceneIt 2 (Box Office Smash) was announced and I understand that South Africa will be getting it this time around.

A partnership with Netflix was announced where all Xbox LIVE subscribers, I’m assuming in the US only, will have access to over 10,000 movies and TV episodes online at no additional cost, however a Netflix account will be required.

On the community side of things the fall update will include the new community XNA games functionality where the community can easily publish their own creations through Xbox LIVE.

In terms of release dates the following dates were announced:

  • Geometry Wars sequel coming to Xbox LIVE Arcade next month
  • South Park coming to Xbox LIVE Arcade soon
  • Uno Rush coming to Xbox LIVE Arcade before the end of the year
  • Banjo Kazooie coming to Xbox LIVE Arcade this year
  • Fable 2 in October 2008
  • Gears of War 2 on 7th of November 2008
  • Resident Evil 5 in March 2009
  • Fallout 3
  • Final Fantasy XIII to be released the same day on Xbox 360 and PS3

All in all some pretty cool announcements from Microsoft. I was hoping for more hardware and accessory announcements though. One cool fact is that the Xbox 360 coupled with the Xbox LIVE platform is an ideal media platform that publishers and content producers are targetting. Hopefully we’ll be getting some love in this regard sometime soon.

Battlefield: Bad Company – great game, lousy support

Battlefield: Bad Company As much as I like the new Battlefield: Bad Company, I am getting more annoyed by the lack of support from the publisher Electronic Arts (EA).

The game was released locally on the 27th of June 2008 and it seems that despite having a private beta and a public demo, their systems just can’t handle basic things like linking of a Xbox LIVE Gamertag so you can see your stats online. Well not just see your stats, but get weapon unlocks through the Find all Five promotion.

So what exactly is this issue I’m talking about. Well when you log into the Bad Company web site using your EA.com profile you are supposed to be able to access your My Soldier page and upon doing so get sent an unlock code for a weapon. However when I log in I get the following error message:

We're sorry, but it looks like no Xbox Live Gamertag or PlayStation Network name has been linked with your EA Account.

So I logged a support issue on the 30th of June 2008 with the South African EA support office as my EA profile clearly has my Xbox LIVE Gamertag associated with it. You can see that below:

Current Active Profile

Unfortunately its now over two weeks later and my Bad Company profile still reflects the issue above. I tried to make it easier for the South African support person but to date I haven’t found a working solution to the problem. I have been told a few times that the problem should be fixed, but each time I try logon, I get the same error message.

Apparently the EA site runs off Oracle databases and there have been issues in the backend that have required Oracle engineers to sort out. I just personally wish they’d sort it out so I can enjoy playing my copy of the game with the weapons I’m entitled to.

Oh and if you’re trying to gain Veteran status for owning other Battefield titles, you might be out of luck, as their system reports that the keys are invalid. A friend of mine opened a brand new copy of an older Battlefield game and the site reported it was already registered on their system.

While I’m ranting I’d like to point out how unfair it is that the Find all Five promotion doesn’t recognize South Africans that pre-order through the local retail channel. C’mon make it fair EA!

Great game EA, unfortunately I can’t say the same for your support.