Should I cycle: System design

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I spent some time on the weekend thinking about Should I Cycle, the app I want to build. There’s two ways I could do it:

  • standalone iPhone app


  • build an API
  • iPhone app will call the API

Given the terms of use of most of the weather APIs out there, I wouldn’t be able to call them directly from my iPhone app. So I should build my own API which the iPhone app will call. OK then.

What should my API look like and what will it do? It’ll be pretty simple – when invoked, all it will do is call the other web services it’ll use – weather, air quality, pollen levels, convert the results into a succinct format, and probably cache the results.

Here’s a simple diagram (created using

Should I cycle (1)

App idea: Should I Cycle?

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I’ve come up with an idea for an iPhone app which I’m going to implement if I have time. I don’t expect to make any money off this app, and I’m only going to build it for an audience of one – me! But if it works well I’ll see if I can be bothered putting it on the app store.

The app is pretty simple – at a set time each day (i.e. in the morning) it should send me an alert (i.e. a push notification) as to whether I should cycle to work or not.

As a fair weather cyclist, the criteria on whether I should cycle to work or not are:

  • Weather – likelihood of rain in the next hour
  • Weather – wind direction
  • Air quality – pollution levels
  • Air quality – pollen count

additional criteria in the future could be:

  • Traffic conditions (doesn’t really bother me)
  • Tube conditions (i.e. if there’s tube or train delays then you should probably cycle)

Anyway, here’s a mockup of what I want the app to do (using

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 17.43.15

Creating a slot machine game using VB

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Visual Basic may not the best option for coding games, but it’s possible to create them using it. In fact, there are a lot of simple games on the web created using Visual Basic such as slot machines.

Slot machines may have been around for a long time, but they’re still one of the most popular games around the world. Cryptologic, the company that first offered casino gaming services to the public in the 90s through its InterCasino brand, is still in operation, particularly because slot machines are a very lucrative business. Data by the American Gaming Association reveal that electronic gaming machines yield at least 62% of a casino’s annual revenue.

To the developers who think that games can’t be made using Visual Basic, think again. Here’s a simple one posted on by coder Yorkiebar:

Done! It’s a very simply slot game but it works. The window is small, the numbers on the reels aren’t really very appealing, and the user interface is plain at best. However, this should give you the framework on how to create a simple slot machine game using Visual Basic.

This post is a guest post.

Microsoft’s Tech Fest 2010 Auckland

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A highlight of the year for Microsoft developers is Tech Ed, Microsoft’s only annual developer conference in NZ. Fortunately it’s held just down the road from my work, at Sky City Convention center so I’ve gotten to go to many sessions over the last few years.

The closing party, “Tech Fest” is always a highlight too.  A great venue, free beer, the chance to catch up with former colleagues and university friends, and of course the music. Every year that I’ve been Microsoft has done a great job of booking really good “world famous in NZ” bands to perform. 2007: Evermore. 2008: Opshop. 2009: Katchafire and Elemeno P. and 2010: Midnight Youth and Gin Wigmore.

Midnight Youth at Tech Fest 2010

Midnight Youth at Tech Fest 2010

Midnight Youth did a great job getting the crowd going. They sounded polished and the crowd was loving it. Then Gin came on. Now, I really like Gin’s music and her performance was great, but after being warmed up by a rock band the crowd wanted to party some more. The consensus amongst the punters was that Gin Wigmore should have warmed up the crowd first, and then Midnight Youth it finish off.

Gin Wigmore

Gin Wigmore at Tech fest 2010


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