Takin’ the Train

As I’ve been settling in to the new job and new location, I’m finding myself becoming much more of a consumer than a producer – application-wise that is. While I spent a lot of time at Microsoft building my own apps and helping others publish to the Windows marketplaces, I didn’t really have a ton of time to enjoy the devices and the apps out there. With my new job and a commute that has me taking the train and bus, I have to say it’s been kind of fun using Windows 8 and leveraging some of the content-focused apps out there.

MBTA

What I’m carrying…

Not driving gives me the opportunity to stay up to date with blogs, podcasts, and videocasts, and I absolutely love the Dell Venue 8 Pro that I got myself for Christmas.  It has a great form factor, slips easily into a bag while I have the earphones plugged in, and when I occasionally want to, say, review some code I’m working on, I don’t have that “oh yeah, I can’t do that on (Surface) RT moment.”

What I’m reading…

An inbox that went from 100+ work-related emails a day to (for now) single digits has given me a chance to reconnect with the blogosphere. My friend and colleague, Dave Davis, turned me on to Nextgen Reader, which is essentially a client app for Feedly. You’ll need to set up a Feedly account and manage your subscriptions there, but then you can let the app take over. Nextgen Reader makes great use of the share contract too, so you can quickly tweet an article or send it to the Reading List app on your device for later review.  (Feel free to download my OPML file to get started).

What I’m watching/listening to…

I have to admit, I was a bit surprised and disappointed that the built-in XBox music app doesn’t support podcasts, but there are several other options on the Windows Store.  Many are free, but I settled on podscout, which, at $4.99, is decidedly not free! It does have a trial option – a sine qua non for any priced application in the marketplace – but I was drawn to it by three primary factors

  • preponderance of positive reviews,
  • screenshots that evoked some thought to the user experience beyond the built-in Visual Studio app templates,
  • clear indication via the description that there’s been recent work (8.1) on the app and feedback is encouraged via Twitter and e-mail.

I’m still honing my playlist, but you can check out what I’m listening to now, and feel free to let me know if there are additional developer-focused series I’m missing.

What I’m learning…

The project I”m currently on is a fairly mature WPF/Silverlight app with about 40 projects, so suddenly TFS, custom content controls, and new features of Visual Studio 2013 (like Code Lens) are front and center. I’m in the midst of Pluralsight’s Introduction to WPF Custom Controls course now, but since my subscription is streaming only, and the WiFi on MBTA is spotty at best, I’m using the commute time to watch the lectures of the Coursera class on Programming Mobile Applications for Android Handheld Systems.

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