Free stuff for everyone!

I release my work as Freeware for a number of different reasons. Firstly, with the Windows Mobile software - most of it is based on Star Trek, which is owned by Paramount Pictures. While I release those applications as Freeware they have no grounds on which they can sue me, as I credit Paramount with ownership of the franchise and intellectual property, and I'm not profiting off it. Secondly, most of the applications I'm creating for desktop/laptop computers are 'tools' more than programs. Most of them already exist elsewhere in one form or another, and even if they didn't, the functionality of each application hardly warrants even a couple of pounds when you consider that you can buy full 3D games for five pounds now.


Would you
buy me a coffee
for my efforts?


I'm tempted to move across to 'Donationware', where I provide a Paypal link and suggest that if the user likes the software and finds it useful - they "buy me a coffee" by sending me a pound or two. It's something which really seems to be taking off in the Windows Mobile community as the presence of a centralised 'store' of a kind similar to the App Store managed by Apple was rather lacking until recently. I'm currently wrangling with whether or not that'd be annoying to my users, but will probably make a decision one way or another as I release the next couple of projects I'm working on.

HTML Color Toy

Teaching HTML to adult evening classes isn't usually a particularly difficult job. However I have found a major sticking point in teaching them to understand colour-mixing with Hex values. This is an important part of the course even at Level 1, so I had to find a way to teach it so that they could absorb the concept more quickly.

My first idea, as someone who will take any excuse to get their soldering iron out, was to go to my local electronics store and buy the parts with which to build a three-colour torch with a separate dial for each colour. I quickly realised however that this would cost over 20 to build, and might not produce enough light to be effective. Solution? Build it in software instead!

Plans for version 2:
- Add a 'Help screen to include colour mixing advice
- Add 'Advanced Mode' which will have 2 sliders for each colour for more accurate values

(for Windows XP onwards)
(for Windows Mobile 5 onwards)

ST Phaser

When the marketing team behind the eleventh Star Trek movie released a free 'Phaser' application into the Apple iStore, I had a look around to see if they had released a version for Windows Mobile. They hadn't, and neither had anyone else.

Having just obtained a free (yes, legal!) copy of Visual Studio 2008 courtesy of Microsoft Dreamspark, I decided that this would be a good project to start out with. It took me three days and quite a bit of reading to get it working, but I feel that it was worth it in the end.

Plans for version 2:
- Make sounds work from an expansion card as well as main memory
- Upgrade the graphics to look more 3D
- Add a 'series switch' so that the user can cycle through the different 'generations' of looks and sounds.

(for Windows Mobile 5 onwards)

Projects in planning/development stages:

ST Quiz [Windows Mobile]

This will refer to a text file or database to display random questions/answers from whichever series is selected by the user. The idea behind this is that when members of my local Star Trek group are waiting in queues at conventions, or are in the car on trips to London and so on - we can have a quiz 'on the go' without worrying whether the person asking the questions has remembered the answers correctly.

ST Tricorder [Windows Mobile]

Another 'toy', much like ST Phaser. This will replicate the look and feel of a Next Generation era Starfleet tricorder. There is already a tricorder application available as Freeware, however it looks very different to what we know from the shows and each 'button' has only one effect (for example, a person scan always brings up the same Romulan). In addition to looking more keeping with the series, my version will randomly select from a number of options for each 'button' pressed.

EPL Hockey Fight [Windows Mobile]

Taken from a suggestion on the web-forum for the Manchester Phoenix Ice Hockey Club, this will hopefully be my first web-update mobile application. The user will be able to choose two players from the English Premier League, and display details for those players side by side for comparison. The user would hit 'update' once a week in order to update the information for each player. Additional functionality might include options to call up the current top goal scorer, player with the most penalty minutes, and so on.

ST Character Sheet [Windows XP/Vista/7]

This will be a character sheet generator for the Star Trek roleplay games. Many people get put off by the existing roleplay books and resources as they are quite complex and it takes a good hour just to generate your character! As we will be running a simpler version of table-top roleplay, we only need a simple character generator. The user will enter their name, rank, position and desired race - and the character's stats and specialities will be generated by using base-values from the user-supplied information, and adding on the required 'dice roll' values using a randomiser.