Cheer For Your Team With a Click on TweetForYourTeam.com!

I’ve created TweetForYourTeam just a week ago and have just added a major update with a couple of fun features.

Cheer By a Single Click

In the original version of TweetForYourTeam one was able to engage in cheering for or against a team by sending a tweet to Twitter. In the current update an easier method has been implemented. Under each teams two buttons have been placed that allow one to cheer for or against the team by hitting the button.

update3

Whenever one sends a cheer (or anti-cheer), a cool animation happens on the screen. At the same time this cheer is sent back to the server and immediately appears on all other users’ screen real-time, using Kwwika’s real time notification streaming. So whenever you cheer, everyone else gets to see the same effect go off on their screen.

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Streaming World Cup Tweets in Silverlight With a Few Lines of Code

The World Cup is on and there have been quite a few good Twitter mashups made for this event, probably the most popular being TweetBeat (and I’ve also developed one, Tweet For Your Team). In this post I’ll show how to build a simple service similar to TweetBeat using a publicly available real-time streaming service, Kwwika.

The application built in this short tutorial will be the following:

Why use a streaming service?

Getting tweets on a certain topic – in our case, the World Cup – can be done in three main ways:

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World Cup 2010 Real Time Twitter Mashup

This World Cup has been exciting for me not just because of the great games but also because during the group stages I’ve been building a cool real time spectator monitoring application for it: Tweet For Your Team (powered by Kwwika real time data services).

What does it do?

The application streams tweets live from the two teams playing live or playing the next game (using the Kwwika service). It also shows the live score on the top (provided by Opta), so even if you’re not in front of a telly, you can be aware of it. Now, for the fun part…

tweetintensity

The app monitors the tweet intensity, that is the number of tweets per minute for each side. Hours before the game this value is typically around 5-10/minute, right before the game it’s usually at least 300/minute and from there it pretty well reflects how nerve wracking the game is. The highest number I’ve experienced up to the semi finals. was around 3500/minute for Spain, when they shot – and missed – the second penalty against Paraguay in the quarter finals.

tweetmood

Tweet intensity is an interesting indicator, but an even more useful one is the mood meter. The application tries to evaluate the mood of each tweet coming in and decide whether it is more of a positive message (“yaaay!!”) or a negative one (“boooo!”). The tweets are colored according to this: red ones mean negative, green ones positive and yellow is neutral (or at least the application couldn’t decide).

Tweet intensity tends to pretty well reflect on the game: usually when a team is scored a goal it tends to go down… though it’s hard to predict by how much – sometimes the fans just keep sending positive messages to the team even after their team has gotten behind!
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Printing in Silverlight: Printing Charts and Auto Scaling

Printing support has been introduced in Silverlight 4. This means that any part of the visual tree can be printed with some simple API calls (see the Printing Basics section on my Advanced Printing in Silverlight post). This post provides an example to print charts and looks at how elements can be auto scaled to fit the page size.

Printing a chart

There are lots of examples on blogs demonstrating printing on simple elements. However I wanted to test how the printing functionality performs when working with charts.

I chose to use the most widespread (and free) charting component, the Silverlight Toolkit. In my example I’ve created four charts and added printing support to all of them like this:

Chart chartToPrint; // The element to be printed
PrintDocument doc = new PrintDocument(); // Create the PrintDocument  object that will do the printing
doc.PrintPage += (s, args) =>
{
  // Set the chart that needs to be printed.
  // As soon as this is set, printing starts
  args.PageVisual = chartToPrint;
}

In the example the whole page can be printed as well by clicking on the Print whole page button. In this case the LayoutRoot element is passed as the PageVisual. Test the example yourself:
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Silverlight 4 still displays large elements incorrectly

I’ve ran into the issue of Silverlight displaying large elements incorrectly in version 3. After reporting the issue on the official Silverlight forums it’s turned out that it’s a known issue that Silverlight renders elements larger than 32K incorrectly.

After Silverlight 4 released I was hoping that this issue is fixed. However, I was disappointed to see that it still exists. My problem with this bug is that I’m working on a charting application that supports zooming. The easiest way to do this applying RenderTransforms and ScaleTransforms to the elements plotted. However due to this bug zooming is limited until the zoomed element size is 32K – this sets a practical limit of about 70-150x zoom (based on the original element size) which in my case is a serious limitation.
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Detecting Silverlight Version Installed

Detecting the Silverlight version installed on a client machine isn’t entirely straightforward. To do so, one has to use Javascript. Unfortunately even though Microsoft ships a Silverlight.js in the Silverlight SDK, this script only has the ability to tell whether a specific version is supported on the client’s machine; it does not support returning the installed version.

For this reason I have created a simple Javascript function returning the Silverlight version number installed on the client machine or returning -1 if Silverlight is not installed. The source code can be downloaded from here:
SilverlightVersion.js
The script can be used the following way:

var slVersion = GetSilverlightVersion();
if(slVersion != -1)
   document.writeln("Your Silverlight version is: <strong>" +slVersion + "</strong>" );
else
   document.writeln("<strong>Your do not have Silverlight installed on this computer</strong>");

And this is the script in action:

If you’re interested in how the script actually works and what the Silverlight version numbers mean, read the post on my ScottLogic blog: Determining Silverlight Version Installed – source code & explanation

Invited to the Kairos Society Global Summit!

It has been a great honour that I a month and a half ago I have been invited to become a member of the Kairos Society and also attend their annual summit mid April this year.

kairossociety

Kairos Society is an invite-only foundation aimed to unite the world’s brightest young minds. Each year they hold a global summit where some of the most influential leaders are brought together with a select group of the world’s most innovative and entrepreneurial students. As part of the summit the 100 most innovative student projects are exhibited – I’ll also be one of the exhibitors as participant in the Green Watering Project.
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Ten Cool Visual Studio 2010 Features

I’ve attended an event late March in Glasgow where Scott Guthrie, Microsoft vice president showed off some of the new fewatures of Visual Studio 2010. Based on this talk and my experience using Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 and the Release Candidate I’ve collected the ten most useful new features of this edition. These are:

  • Pinning variables when debugging
  • Box selection
  • On-the-fly search
  • Zooming
  • View call hierarchy
  • Sequence diagrams
  • Dependency graphs
  • IntelliTrace and dump debugging
  • Multi-monitor support
  • Intellisense improvements

For a detailed description of each of these features read my blog post Ten Cool Things You Didn’t Know About Visual Studio at my Scott Logic blog.

Windows Phone 7 and Silverlight – Details Revealed

In the opening keynote of MIX 10 Scott Guthrie confirmed the rumour spreading the past weeks: the supported development platform for the Windos 7 Phone Series is Silverlight and XNA. For those – like myself – who were prepared for this news there were still quite some surprises in the details:

  • Unlike Windws CE  where the phone CLR was a reduced version of the .NET CLR the Windows Phone 7 will support the full Silverlight framework. As Scott Guthrie said: “This isn’t Silverlight lite. This isn’t Silverlight different. This is Silverlight.
  • ScottGu demoed the development environment – it is very similar to Visual Studio with a built-in emulator that supports multi-touch
  • The development tools for Windows Phone 7 are free! Download them from here. The Windows Phone Developer Tools include Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone, Windows Phone Emulator, Silverlight for Windows Phone and XNA Game Studio 4.0 CTP
  • The Windows Phone 7 ships with an extended Silverlight 3 runtime and  supports DeepZoom as well. ScottGu also announced that Silverlight 4 ships with a Pivot control – a great data visualization tool. We’ll have to wait to use Pivot on the Windows Phone 7 though until the runtime is upgraded to Silverlight 4 unfortunately.
  • The Windows Phone 7 Marketplace will be a global application catalog, not restricted by regional content restrictions. Developers will receive 70% of the price for apps and games.
  • Partners who have had early access to the Windows Phone 7 development tools showed off their great applications. This included:
    • A news application demo (video)
    • eBay who’ve built a cool out-of-browser lister application in just 8 weeks
    • A prototype Netflix application
    • Shazam‘s Silverlight app
    • Graphic.ly‘s comic reader using DeepZoom
    • A Major League Soccer application using push notification (video)
    • A Marionette application where ScottGu made fun of Steve Ballmer (video)
    • The Seesmic Desktop application – the entire Seesmic platform has been ported to Silverlight!
    • Demo of the Foursquare application (video)

So if these details have made you interested read a more detailed summarry of the keynote or just go and download the Windows Phone 7 development toolkit!

Slides and code for the presentation “An Introduction to Silverlight”

On yesterday’s Scot Alt.NET meeting I held a presentation (An Introduction to Silverlight) that was aimed at providing an overview of Silverlight and looking at some of it’s most important features. Thanks to the about 30 people who’ve attended and given feedback, I hope you’ve found it useful. For those who have missed out I’ll be writing up some follow up blog posts on the same topic.

Slides & code

The slides and code of the talk are available for download:

Cool Silverlight applications

Some interesting links worth looking at (the ones I couldn’t show at the end of the presentation):

Brief summary of the talk

The structure of the talk was the following:
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