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Screen Vault brings you a brand new innovative way to lock and unlock your Mac.

Remember the old combination dial lock on your locker from high school? Well, Screen Vault brings that same experience to your Mac. Using the rotate gesture of the track pad, you can use the combination dial to unlock your Mac with your personal 3 digit combination.

Don’t have a track pad or don’t want to use a combination lock? Screen Vault comes with another way to unlock your Mac. You can choose between using the combination dial and using a pass pattern to unlock your Mac.

The features don’t end there. Read below for a list of all of the features that come with Screen Vault

- Themes: Change the look of Screen Vault by changing the graphics and text using the built in Theme Designer.

- Unlock Options: Unlock your mac using a combination lock by utilizing the rotate gesture of your track pad or use a pass pattern seen on most Android phones.

- Sounds: Change the way you lock and unlock your mac by choosing your own lock and unlock sounds.

- Intruder Snap Shots: Screen Vault can be setup to automatically take snap shots of intruders when they try to unlock your mac with an incorrect combination or pass pattern.

- Intruder Video Recording: Screen Vault can be setup to automatically start recording the second someone tries to unlock your mac with an incorrect combination or pass pattern.

- Video Surveillance: Screen Vault can be setup to automatically start recording video as soon as you lock your mac. A useful feature if you want to know what’s going on while you’re away.

- iTunes Info & Controls: Control what song is playing in iTunes while your screen is locked or view information about the current song that’s playing. iTunes controls and info are widgets that can be turned on or off in preferences.

- Screen Vault Stats: View statistics about Screen Vault, including intrusions, last intruder snapshot, last intrusion time, your current theme, total up time, etc…

- Snapshot & Video Log: A built in log that allows you to easily view snapshots and video footage of intrusions.

Note About SnapShots and Video: These features will only work if you have a built-in camera.

Note About the Combination Lock: The combination lock only works with the rotate gesture and therefore requires a MacBook with a trackpad or a magic track pad connected to an iMac or Mac Mini.

For instructions on how to use Screen Vault please go to the Support Site.

 

 

 

Coming soon to the Mac App Store is my new application, ISO Burn. The main reason I created ISO Burn is to have an app similar to imgBurn for Mac OS X, I’m hoping to have many of the features that are available in imgBurn available in ISO Burn. Most notably with ISO Burn you can set a layer break for your image files which will make it simple to set where on the disc the second layer will begin. Another reason for building this app was so that everyone would have a simple intuitive application to build and burn image files for the Mac. I know Apple has an app called Disk Utility, and I know its awesome, etc… but for the average user, I think its a bit too much and doesn’t have some of the core functionality that will be present within ISO Burn

ISO Burn is the successor to ISOX360 which was an application I developed about 2 years ago for Mac OS X. ISOX360 was built mainly to support burning XBOX360 backups but otherwise didn’t have any other features. ISO Burn will not be a direct replacement of ISOX360 and will not feature verification or patching of XBOX 360 images. However, ISO Burn does support the burning of XBOX 360 images 100% as well as many other types of disc images. Some of the disc image formats that are supported are listed below:

  • .DVD
  • .ISO
  • DMG
  • IMG

ISO Burn also supports multiple burners. If you’ve got an external burner connected you can choose between that and your internal burner. This is a feature that was lacking in ISOX360 that I have been asked countless times to implement.

As soon as ISO Burn is available on the Mac App Store, download links to ISOX360 will be removed and the application will no longer be supported. ISO Burn will be an active project as are many other apps that I have developed that are now on the Mac App Store. I will offer free support for ISO Burn and implement feature requests as long as they are within reason.

The expected date for ISO Burn to be released should be sometime around mid-July depending on how quickly the review process goes. Sometimes its quick and sometimes it can take up to a month or so.

Ideas? Specific Feature Requests? I’d like to hear from you.

UPDATE 6/23/2011 – isoBurn has been submitted to the Mac App Store, to read more about it and see some screen shots please visit http://empoc.com/isoburn

 

Agile software development (Agile)

  • Pros Minimizes feature creep by developing in short intervals resulting in miniature software projects and releasing the product in mini-increments.
  • Cons Short iteration may add too little functionality, leading to significant delays in final iterations. Since Agile emphasizes real-time communication (preferably face-to-face), using it is problematic for large multi-team distributed system development. Agile methods produce very little written documentation and require a significant amount of post-project documentation.

Extreme Programming (XP)

  • Pros Lowers the cost of changes through quick spirals of new requirements. Most design activity occurs incrementally and on the fly.
  • Cons Programmers must work in pairs, which is difficult for some people. No up-front “detailed design” occurs, which can result in more redesign effort in the long term. The business champion attached to the project full time can potentially become a single point of failure for the project and a major source of stress for a team.

Joint application design (JAD)

  • Pros Captures the voice of the customer by involving them in the design and development of the application through a series of collaborative workshops called JAD sessions.
  • Cons The client may create an unrealistic product vision and request extensive gold-plating, leading a team to over- or under-develop functionality.

Lean software development (LD)

  • Pros Creates minimalist solutions (i.e., needs determine technology) and delivers less functionality earlier; per the policy that 80% today is better than 100% tomorrow.
  • Cons Product may lose its competitive edge because of insufficient core functionality and may exhibit poor overall quality.

Rapid application development (RAD)

  • Pros Promotes strong collaborative atmosphere and dynamic gathering of requirements. Business owner actively participates in prototyping, writing test cases and performing unit testing.
  • Cons Dependence on strong cohesive teams and individual commitment to the project. Decision making relies on the feature functionality team and a communal decision-making process with lesser degree of centralized PM and engineering authority.

Scrum

  • Pros Improved productivity in teams previously paralyzed by heavy “process”, ability to prioritize work, use of backlog for completing items in a series of short iterations or sprints, daily measured progress and communications.
  • Cons Reliance on facilitation by a master who may lack the political skills to remove impediments and deliver the sprint goal. Due to relying on self-organizing teams and rejecting traditional centralized “process control”, internal power struggles can paralyze a team.

Source material from Wikipedia.

Icons 2.0 is now available on the Mac App Store:



 

*** The only Icon App on the App Store that exports ICNS, the Mac App icon file with rounded corners and shine. ***

Icons was one of the first native Mac Apps for previewing and generating iOS device icons. Since then, Icons has gone through some major updates and a complete new look.

Icons still does everything that it used to do but now you can do so much more. See for yourself, check out the features below:

● Preview with Rounded Corners
● Preview with Shine & Rounded Corners
● Export with Rounded Corners
● Export with Shine & Rounded Corners
● Add OpenFeint Logo to any of the 4 corners of your icon
● Add Overlay Text ( Supports Font Selection, Color, Size and Position )
● Overlay a Custom Glass Mask
● Adjust the corner radius
● Adjust the Shine Alpha
● Export for iPhone, iPad and iPhone 4
● Export for Android
● Export for Mac ( ICNS support )
● Export Custom Size
● Export iTunesArtwork (512 x 512)
● Set a Custom Icon Name

Icons is simple to use. Just drag your 512×512 image file into the app and Icons will immediately load all of the icon previews to instantly see how your icons will look in all available sizes. What you do from there is up to you, when you are satisfied with the outcome, export your icons for immediate use.

Supports PSD, PNG, TIFF, BMP, JPEG and many other file formats.

If you have any questions / comments / suggestions / issues you can visit the support site and leave a comment or email me at chris@chris-fletcher.com I try to answer all comments on the same day I receive them.

Please rate and review my application. Icons was developed in my spare time, support Indie developers. Thank you for your support

Check it out in the App Store http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/icons/id413612688?mt=12

 

Today I want to tell you all about a great new app developed by Andreas Loew, who is also the developer of Texture Packer, an essential development tool if you are using cocos2d and want to optimize memory usage. The app I will talk about today is another great development tool named Physics Editor.

Physics Editor is a very useful tool for anyone using Cocos2d and Box2d. It takes all of the difficult work out defining vertexes for box2d bodies. The tool makes it so easy in fact that you can import any shape with transparency and Physics Editor automatically detects all the vertexes for you and stores them in a plist file that you can later add to your project.

Physics Editor makes it easy to place all of your box2d body information into a single plist file including information for multiple box2d bodies. You can add other useful information to your bodies besides the vertexes, you can also specify properties such as; PTM-RATIO, Anchor Point, Density, Restitution, Friction, Is Sensor, etc…

This app really does take a lot of the time you would spend figuring out all of the vertexes and writing code for all of your box2d bodies’ properties. Best of all you can save your project to later make quick and easy changes to the properties of your bodies by simply editing a single file. Physics Editor also includes some easy to understand examples that show you how to use the exported plist file with your box2d project. Apart from box2d, Physics Editor also supports chipmunk and you can also create your own custom export profile since Physics Editor is all template based.

All in all I consider Physics Editor to be a must have tool for anyone that spends any amount of time developing with box2d, you will not regret purchasing this software and will most likely be sending a thank you message to Andreas for all of his hard work and dedication to make our lives easier.

You can download Physics Editor from here.

Have you ever wanted a professional looking font for your iPhone / iPod Touch / iPad or Mac game but weren’t sure how to go about it? Maybe you are just lacking the artistic talent? One way to get around this is using photoshop and just making textures of the text you want to use. If you go this route then you’ll be stuck with static text and you’ll need to have a separate texture for each variation of your text, not to mention the learning curve that comes with Photoshop.

With Glyph Designed, you can forget everything I just mentioned above. Glyph Designer is a development tool that was designed by Mike & Tom of 71squared.com, a development blog for the Mac and iOS platform. With Glyph designer you can easily choose from your pre-installed fonts and modify them to your hearts content to make them fit perfectly with your game’s theme.

In this post I am going to cover some of Glyph Designer’s features and also provide a short tutorial on how to use Glyph Designer to make custom Glyph textures that you can then import into your cocos2d game project and use for your in-game text.

If you want to follow along go ahead and download Glyph Designer from here http://glyphdesigner.71squared.com

Glyph Designer Layout:

Selecting a Font to use:

You’ll notice that in the above screen shot, looking at the left most side of the application you’ll see a font browser that has a list of all the fonts that are currently installed on your Mac. You can scroll through this list and select the font you want to use. When you click on a font you’ll notice that it shows up in the preview window. At the bottom left of the app there 2 basic font settings that allow you to adjust the currently selected font. Using these 2 settings, you can change the size and type of the font, and by type I mean; Regular, Bold, Italic, Condensed, etc… whichever the selected font supports.

Editing The Selected Font:

On the right most side of the app you will notice a lot of settings that can be modified. Most of these settings are pretty self explanatory, I will however cover them anyways. The settings that can modified are as follows:

  • Texture Atlas ( Width, Height, Color, Spacing, Auto Size )
  • Glyph Fill ( Fill Glyph, Fill Type)
  • Glyph Outline (Outline, Width, Fill Type, Color )
  • Glyph Shadow (Shadow, Type, Lightsource, Blur Radius, Color)
  • Included Glyphs

I will now cover each of these in more Detail

Texture Atlas:

The Texture Atlas Settings define the properties of the exported texture. If you are not familiar with the term Texture Atlas, think Sprite Sheet, more on that later. You can set the width and height of of the Texture Atlas. I recommend going with the smallest multiple of 2 that you can get away with, meaning: 32 x 32, 64 x64, 128 x 128, etc…

For the Color setting I just set the Opacity to 0 so it doesn’t matter what the background color is, the choice is yours on this one.

You can leave the spacing at a default of 2. Another option to setting the width and height is to check the Auto Size check box which tells Glyph Designer that you want it to determine the best size of the Texture Atlas.

Glyph Fill:

The first option in Glyph Fill is a check box called Fill Glyph. If you want your Glyph to have a fill color, then you should select this checkbox otherwise you can skip over Glyph Fill. For Fill type you have 2 options. You can chose to fill using a gradient or fill using a solid color; gradients are great and look nice but will give you problems if you want to use RGBA4444 unless you set your dithering properly. Maybe Mike or Tom can add a feature that allows you to apply filters when exporting, maybe the ability to choose from RGBA4444 and RGBA8888 as well as some dithering filters. What do you think guys?

With that being said, if you pick gradient then you can pick your start and end colors as well as the angle of the gradient. These are totally up to you and you should go with what you think looks best.

Glyph Outline:

The first option you have here is a checkbox to enable or disable an outline for your Glyph. All of the options here are pretty self explanatory. Choose if you want an outline and then set the width, the fill type, which can be a solid fill type or a gradient fill type and then set your color. The same applies to Glyph Outline with gradients as for Glyph Fill.

Glyph Shadow:

Again, just as with Glyph Fill and Glyph Outline, the first option you have here is to either turn Shadow On or Off by checking or unchecking the Shadow Box. You have quite a few options here for the Glyph Shadow setting. First lets talk about the different Shadow types that you can use.

  • Outer Shadow – This type of shadow will add a shadow to the Outside of your Glyph
  • Inner Thin Shadow – This type of shadow will add a shadow to the Inside of your Glyph. If you want to use an inner shadow, I recommend using this one on fonts that are not very thick.
  • Inner Thick Shadow – This type of shadow will add a shadow to the Inside of your Glyph. If you have a thick font you can get away with using this shadow with good results, you could also use the thin shadow for your thicker fonts for a less shadowy effect.

After you’ve decided on the type of shadow to use we need to look at the Light Source. For the most part the default location of the Light Source should be fine, but if you need your shadow somewhere else then you can drag the light source to a different location, you can also move the light source via its x and y values for more accurate control.

The Blur Radius for the shadow specifies how blurred your shadow should be; in my opinion the default value here should do for most. Last but not least we have the shadow color.. No your shadow does not have to be black, this is your choice, don’t be afraid to be creative.

Included Glyphs:

Not too much to say about the Included Glyphs section. This part of the app specifies which letters, numbers, symbols you want to have in your Texture Atlas. You can edit this to include only the ones you know you’ll use to save some space. For instance if you know you will only use numbers or if you’ll only be using upper case or lower case characters.

Export The Texture Atlas:

Now all that’s left to do before we can use our new Glyph is to export the Texture Atlas, to do this just click on the Export button at the top right corner of Glyph Designer. From the dialog that pops up, just pick a location and specify a name for the Texture Atlas and click on Save.

In the next section I will go over the basics for using our Texture Atlas with Cocos2d by showing some sample code. You’ll be amazed at how easy this is.

Using Glyph Designer Exported Texture Atlas With Cocos2d:

If you’ve exported your glyph from Glyph Designer, you should have 2 resulting files with the name you’ve specified. Both of these files need to be copied to your Xcode Project.

Start a new Xcode Project and choose the cocos2d template.

Place the 2 files that Glyph Designer generated into your Resources folder within your Xcode Project.

After you’ve added the glyph files to your resources folder, select your HelloWorldScene.m file and find the init method. Replace the following code:

CCLabelTTF *label = [CCLabelTTF labelWithString:@"Hello World" fontName:@"Marker Felt" fontSize:64];

with

CCLabelBMFont *label = [CCLabelBMFont labelWithString:@"Hello World" fntFile:@"test.fnt"];

That’s all you have to do to use the glyphs with cocos2d… See, I told you it was easy.

Thank’s to Mike & Tom, we now have a full featured tool that allows us to easily create awesome looking in-game text. Please support Glyph Designer, it will soon be available on the Mac App Store but you can get it now from the Glyph Designer site at http://glyphdesigner.71squared.com

I’ve recently released an app; iOS Icons, on the app store. The app has been doing well and a lot of people have found great use for this tool. I’ve recently started receiving reviews for iOS Icons on the Mac App Store with 2 reviews being completely inappropriate and just plain wrong. Here are some screen shots of the reviews and a link to iOS Icons on the Mac App Store:

Link to iOS Icons on the Mac App Store: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ios-icons/id413612688?mt=12#

Screen Shot of Review:

Here is a description as posted on the Mac App Store:

The original dev tool for creating all iOS device icons. Simple to use. Just drag your 512×512 image file into the app and click on preview to instantly see how your icons will look in all available sizes.

The reason that I made iOS icons is because I wanted an app that was similar to Icon Composer which does its job well but only generates the icon set for Mac Apps and not any of the required resolutions for any of the iOS devices.

Supports PSD, PNG, TIFF, BMP, JPEG and many other file formats.

Once your icons are saved you can import them into Xcode.

Version 1.1 has been submitted to the App Store to provide additional requested features ( Icon Names and Rounded Corners and Glass Preview )

Now I would think that if anyone took the time to read the description and maybe even looked at the screen shot of the App then it should be clear as to what the purpose of this app is. The issue I have with reviews like this is that you have no way to fight it. You can submit a concern / issue to Apple about it but there is no guarantee that they will even check into it, let alone do something about it.

That review with 1 star hurt my overall star review, I should have 4 stars but instead I have 3 1/2 stars. This will most likely discourage some people to even look at the app further. As developers we should at least have a way to comment on a review because honestly, some of these reviews are just not fair and some of them as is with this case are completely irrelevant.

I may come across as ranting here, but I needed to say something about it where people could see. Hopefully the complaint I filed with Apple will have some affect and they will consider removing the review but I’m not holding my breath.

What do you guys think? Are you  a developer that has received an unfair or blatantly irrelevant review for one of your apps? What have you done to try and correct the situation?

We thought it would be a great idea to have an installer for the cocos2d game engine to make it quick and simple for everyone to install the latest stable cocos2d build. The cocos2d installer app is a native Mac OS X app that after installation allow you to, with a click of a button, download the latest stable build of the cocos2d game engine, install it and the Xcode templates to get you up and running and making games simple and quick.

You can download Cocos2d Installer by clicking on the link below:

  cocos2d Installer (368.6 KiB, 1,046 hits)

As new cocos2d builds become available we will update the Cocos2d Installer app so that you can grab the latest version of cocos2d.

We were going to list this app for free on the Mac App Store but because of some of Apple’s guidelines, specifically file locations, we have had to remove it and host it here. If you find the app useful or can think of something else to add to it to make it more useful then feel free to leave a comment.

Kid Tunes

Kid Tunes

Kid Tunes, one of my most recently developed apps, was approved and is now available on the App Store for purchase at only .99 cents. As usual I am doing a writeup on about the app here on chris-fletcher.com and provide links to the App Store page as well as a link to the location of the app on Empoc Media.

It was a lot of fun developing this app, mostly for my 6 year old daughter because she got to help me test it. Now that the app is finished she constantly asks me if she can play it. Needless to say, my iPhone no longer belongs to me. :)

Kid Tunes is an easy to use app for the iPhone and iPod Touch that includes 12 music sheets for famous children’s songs. Kid Tunes is sure to bring many hours of entertainment for your kids as well as for yourself, yup, Kid Tunes is fun for adults too. I’ll admit I have Row Row Row Your Boat stuck in my head.

The piano keys are color and number coded which match with the colors and numbers on the note sheets to make it easy for anyone to play the piano while learning how to read some simple sheet music. I already have some future updates planned which will include more songs to choose from as well as some other feature enhancements. Maybe I will include a play song button that will play the song for you once so that you can listen to the tune and and tempo. I think a volume bar might be a good idea and maybe I will implement some different themes.

Ideas are always welcome as well as any and all constructive criticism.

Links:

Kid Tunes on the App Store

Kid Tunes on Empoc Media

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately developing new iPhone and iPod Touch apps. In this post I will list some of the new apps that I’ve developed and give a brief description of each. First I will cover 2 new apps that were approved by the App Store as of today and then I will cover 2 more apps that should be approved soon.

Recently Approved:

2012 : Mayan Countdown – This app for the iPhone and iPod touch is an application designed and developed specifically for counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until December 21st 2012 at 11:11:11 AM.

I don’t have a personal opinion as to what will happen on this very important day in the history of our planet but I do know that many people believe that it will be the end of life as we know it. In either case, with this app it will make it easy and fun to count down to this day no matter what you believe will happen.

2012: Mayan Countdown was developed with optimized graphics for the new iPhone 4′s retina display. The graphics in this app are what makes it truly unique from all of the other Mayan Countdown apps available at the App Store.

The settings you can change for this application include the ability to turn on or off the second ticks as well as the background music which is great for relaxing and sets the mood for the countdown clock with ambient noise from the ancient Mayan times. You can also choose if you want to use the default setting of the iPhone or iPod Touch’s auto lock mode. With this mode disabled the clock will stay on the screen and you can watch and listen while you fall asleep.

You can get 2012 : Mayan Clock from the App Store today for only .99 cents by clicking on the above “Available on the App Store” link. If you are one of the first 50 people, go to http://empoc.com and request a promo code to download the app for free. The deal is, you get a free copy and in return you write a review and rate the app on the App Store.

Convert To Mayan – Convert To Mayan is an app for the iPhone and iPod Touch that I developed after the development of 2o12 : Mayan Countdown. During the development process I’ve had to go back and forth to double check my calculations and make sure that the decimal numbers were being converted correctly to Mayan numerals.

I thought that it would be a great idea to have an application to do the conversion process rather then having to do it manually. Doing the process manually isn’t difficult, its just converting from a base-10 to a base-20 counting system and then figuring out how many bars, dots and shells you should have.

However as the numbers get bigger it becomes more difficult to figure out what the Mayan numerals should look like and that’s where this application comes in really handy. Since finishing the Mayan Countdown app, I don’t have any further use for this application but I’ve heard that there is at least one college math course that requires you to convert from decimal to Mayan numerals.

Convert To Mayan will make the process of double checking your work as simple as launching the app and then typing in the decimal value and clicking on convert. The app then instantly gives you the Mayan numeral representation of the decimal value that you entered.

Just like 2012 : Mayan Countdown, this app has a price tag of .99 cents and as all of the other apps developed by Empoc, you can get a free copy if you are one of the first 50 and write a review and rate the app on the App Store.

Coming Soon:

There are currently 2 apps waiting for the App Store approval. The 2 applications are “A Mayan Clock” and “Kid Tunes”. A Mayan Clock was inspired by 2012 : Mayan Countdown and Convert To Mayan. After searching the App Store and finding only one Mayan Clock, I only thought it was fair that everyone had more than one clock to choose from.

This isn’t just any old Mayan Clock, this is a sleek futuristic digital clock representing the time in Mayan numerals with a beautifully designed alien theme.

Kid Tunes is a piano app for the iPhone and iPod touch, designed to be easy for kids ages 5+ to use. It’s fun for kids and entertaining for adults. Kid Tunes is sure to provide you and your kids with hours of fun playing and learning the piano with the included note sheets of famous children’s songs.

Some other upcoming applications include a Trivia Game, a Learn To Multiply Game, and an app that will measure your car’s 0 to 60 speed.

To stay up to date on all current and future apps developed by Empoc Media please visit the companies site at http://empoc.com and subscribe to the RSS feed.

Comments and suggestions are always welcome.