Sunday, December 30, 2007

XBOX Live Issues

As you might have noticed, XBOX Live has been having seizures over the past few days. Either Microsoft sold a lot of 360s this Christmas or the Live team started their holiday too early. Regardless, the 360 experience has been far below par over the past few days.

Per this post by Major Nelson, they are working on it. Please be aware that when XBOX Live has issues, the 1337pwn XBOX Live Friends List widget may also be affected.

Thank you for your patience. Have a happy New Year!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas

Have a great holiday weekend. If you see me online, feel free to pop a game invite. I'll probably be playing some Halo 3 Rocket Race this weekend.

Thank you all for the great feedback and support!

Friday, December 7, 2007

the1337pwn Gamertag

We've created a special XBOX Live account to take advantage of the "Friends of Friends" feature. Send a friend invite to the1337pwn and you'll be able to see what other 1337pwn gamers are online. It's no substitute for a widget update, but at least will make it easy for you to find like-minded gamers.

Having spent several back to back weeks on widget development, I'm actually going to play video games weekend. Given my schedule, there really hasn't been much time for substantial gaming.

When I have been able to play, Mass Effect is pretty much all consuming for me on the XBOX 360. It is by no means perfect, but sum of its parts is so darn satisfying. It's amazing that such a weird mix of genres could be so much better than the sum of its parts. Per it's reputation, user interface-wise, it can be a baffling experience and Bioware doesn't give you much guidance. Truth be told, it's going to take you 6-8 hours of gameplay to comprehend the depth of the game. Once you crest that learning curve, the fun truly begins.

Happy Frags!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

XBOX Live is again amongst the living

It looks like Microsoft has got things up and running again. Data is now updating normally. Your 1337pwn XBOX Live Friends widget should now refresh properly.

XBOX Live Stability

XBOX Live is not a pillar of stability this evening. You can continue to expect big delays when it comes to status updates and gamertag information. Requests for data from Microsoft are timing out. It's beyond our control. Hopefully, things will get back to normal soon.

Thank you for your patience.

Dashboard Update

There's a new Dashboard Update out there and it includes major changes to the 360 user experience. Despite the dramatic update, your 1337pwn XBOX Live Friends widget will continue to work properly. Unfortunately, for the short-term, you can expect slower than normal status refreshes as Microsoft works out the XBOX Live deployment kinks.

UPDATE: Microsoft is working on the XBOX Live stability issues and slowness. They're indicating that stability should improve during the next 48 hours.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Weekend Debug

As you can tell from my prior post, we were pretty frustrated with the differences between Tiger and Leopard dashboard behavior. I spent some time on the phone with one of the folks helping us test a new version of the widget on Tiger. It's not there yet, but that community support makes the effort worthwhile. I really appreciate all of the support emails and the folks that helped us test out various Tiger-friendly candidates. And despite my vent, I must say that Dashcode is pretty darn cool -- we couldn't have developed the widget so quickly without it.

Frankly, we're missing such a strong development tool for the Windows version of the 1337pwn XBOX Live Friends Widget. I've seen some of the other XBOX Yahoo/Konfabulator Widgets and applications out there. Given this sampling, I strongly feel that we can bring something better to the table. Unlike the other guys, we don't screen scrape data at the client. On the server side, we've built "a better mousetrap" with the support via the Microsoft XBOX Community Developer Program. Our goal for the Windows version is the same as the MacOS widget -- build something that just works.

Of course, developing a solid Windows application takes time and a lot more testing. There will most certainly be a Beta to work out the kinks. We'll keep you posted as the Windows version nears release.

Thank you all for your support!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Tiger Issues

It looks like v2.5 has issues on some configurations of MacOS 10.4 Tiger. Fortunately, someone local to us can reproduce the problem, so we're going to spend some time with it. If you're running Tiger, please stick with v2.1 of the 1337pwn XBOX Live Friends widget until we get things resolved.

Thank you for your patience.

Apple's developer documentation instructs that widgets built on Leopard will also run on Tiger. When 1337pwn had a simpler widget, this certainly held true. Now that the widget has grown more sophisticated, we're bumping in to areas where that just isn't the case. At a minimum, we could degrade the widget features for Tiger, but the Dashboard classes, Dashcode, and SDK provide no reliable mechanism to determine the platform version.

As developers, we are frustrated to be bumping in to these issues. Unfortunately, we are now forced to treat Tiger and Leopard Dashboards as two different platforms despite Apple claiming that it is a single platform.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Version 2.5 is now available

During the development of Version 3.0, we came up with some user interface improvements that significantly improve the usability of the 1337pwn XBOX Live Friends List widget. We've decided to release these changes as version 2.5.

If you've been with us for a while, you'll be quick to note the improvements. Most obvious, the widget will now grow to accommodate the gamertags that you entered. Unless you make a list of gamer tags taller than your screen, you don't need to scroll any more. It's slick.

It also is taking advantage of some features that, while documented, aren't often used in MacOS dashboard widgets. I personally tested it on both my PowerPC and Intel Macs -- it worked like a champ. That said, I wouldn't be surprised if some users encountered problems. If you have any issues with v2.5, please send me a message via XBOX Live (gamertag: borocouncilman).

Thank you for your support.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Codename: Butters

Work has begun on the next version of the XBOX Live Friends widget. While we started out with modest improvements, I now believe we're working our way towards a genuine version 3.0. The new version incorporates some interesting ideas and also gets us ready for Microsoft's forthcoming Friends of Friends functionality. Good stuff.

Given the size of the community, we are planning a Beta to straighten out any of the kinks before wide release. If you're interested, send "borocouncilman" a message via XBOX Live.

Thank you

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Over 4,000 downloads

We crossed 4,000 widget downloads yesterday for the XBOX Live Friends List widget.

On the back-end, our server is currently maintaining data for thousands of tags. More than 75% of these tags are requested at least once per day with gigabytes of data being served to the desktop widgets.

I'm thrilled that so many of you have found the widget useful. We're proud and humbled by the community response.

Thank you for your support and valuable feedback.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Apple Widget Gallery

Both of the 1337pwn widgets are now listed in Apple's gallery. You can check them out here.

XBOX Live Friends Widget
Halo 3 Recent Games

Apple now points to the latest version of the widgets.

Send XBOX Live Messages

XBOX Live Friends Version 2.1 users now have a shortcut to send a message via XBOX Live. Clicking on a gamer pic will open a Safari window allowing you to compose a message. If you aren't already signed in, Microsoft will ask you for authentication, but beyond that, it's a one click operation. Enjoy!

Monday Server Updates

After several thousand widget downloads, it's been a heck of week. I would like to thank you all for your patience and feedback as we work to continuously improve the service. As you can tell, XBOX Live Friends Widget is an active project. We've pushed out a couple of versions over the past week to improve performance and usability of the software. With v2.1, the widget is better than ever.

At the moment, more than 80% of the user community is still running v2.0/2.01. Given that such a large part of the community is still running the older version, we have incorporated the "blank status" hotfix made yesterday into the older server code. While updates to older code won't be a "habit", this change helps the overall service performance. We do recommend the upgrade to v2.1 as it uses our latest server code base.

Thanks again for your support.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Blank Status Information Fix

This afternoon, we noticed a little problem with status information under certain conditions. Under the right "bad" conditions, it wasn't displaying. We just put out a hotfix on the server that should help with the issue. This was a server side fix for v2.1, so there's nothing to download. If you're seeing a blank status, try refreshing the widget by showing and hiding the dashboard.

If you're encountering the issue with v2.0/2.01, please upgrade to v2.1.

UPDATE: While the vast majority of tags are updated normally, we're not able to get status information for several valid gamer tags. It looks like we might be experiencing some "Sunday maintenance".

1337pwn XBOX Live Friends Widget v2.1

Early this morning, we released a subtle update to the XBOX Live Friends List widget. The new version of the widget has a further optimized version of the communications code along with usability improvements. For example, you can now have multiple instances of the widget open and give them unique "labels".

The latest version can be found here.

Thank you for the feedback. If you know other folks that might find the widget useful, spread the word!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Game Time

After a week that has included a whole bunch of coding, I'm actually settling in to a night of gaming. I need to spin down the brain with some Halo 3 for the next few hours. If you see me online, feel free to pop me an invite.

Thank you all for your great feedback and support.

1337pwn Halo 3 Recent Games Widget

We just released our second widget for the MacOS dashboard. It's a little widget that takes recent Halo 3 game information from and formats it for display. You'll find it on our main page here.

Let us know what you think. We're also investigating the possibility of combining this feed information into the next version of our Friends List widget.

Friday, November 23, 2007

1337pwn XBOX Live Friends Widget v2.01

A very minor update to the MacOS Dashboard widget was deployed today. With a little manifest housekeeping, we reduced the download size from 2MB to 350k. While there's no real functional impact, it should help us conserve download bandwidth.

If you already have the 2.0 widget, there is no need to download the new version. Unless, of course, you want the absolutely latest version.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

1337pwn XBOX Live Friends Widget Version 2.0

About one week ago, we went "live" with our MacOS widget making it available to the general public. Two days later, Apple listed it in their Dashboard widget gallery. From that moment, the widget was no longer something being used and tested amongst friends. Within 24 hours, we were updating THOUSANDS of gamer tags and moving GB/day of data through the 1337pwn server.

While I have pushed other applications on to the net, I never imagined this kind of immediate response. I created the widget, because I simply couldn't find a nice quick way to display the online status of my XBOX Live friends on the Mac. The available solutions were buggy, suffered very real design problems, and worst of all, asked you to fork over your Windows Live account name and password. They just were not acceptable ways of getting the job done. The 1337pwn XBOX Live Friends List widget came out of a strong desire to have a solution that just worked.

Unfortunately, it did not work very long. In just a few short days of wide availability, Version 1.x of the widget had more/less become unusable with the amount of traffic that it was generating at our server. Quite simply, the application wasn't working. While we tried some quick fixes, it was pretty clear that some major changes were in order. In couple of days, we rewrote the server/client code, tested everything, and pushed out Version 2.0. You can download it here.

At a glance, the new widget is similar in appearance to the old version. Underneath its exterior, the 1337pwn XBOX Live Friends List widget Version 2.0 is better in almost every way that counts - speed, scalability, reliability. With the new underpinnings, we're well positioned to keep things fast and responsive as the 1337pwn community grows. The new server architecture also makes it easier for us to support new devices and platforms. We are on our way!

As always, let us know what you think of the new version. If you were a 1.x user, we're glad that you stuck with us as we worked out the kinks. More good things are to come.

Thank you for your patience, support, and feedback as we work to make the services better.

1337pwn XBOX Live Friends - Browser Version (ALPHA)

We recently ported our MacOS XBOX Live Friends widget to a browser-based version. It's been made publicly available for feedback as an "ALPHA" version. It's quite functional for an "ALPHA" giving users a short-term solution on Windows XP/Vista machines and the Apple iPhone/iPod Touch. Be sure to check it out and let us know what you think.

Click here for the 1337pwn XBOX Live Browser (ALPHA)

As with the MacOS widget, it will display the Gamertag, Score, Recent Game, and online status. It even updates status information after the widget is displayed. The underpinnings do require a modern browser that supports XMLHTTPRequest (ie. Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari). It will not work with simplified browsers.

Let us know what you think. We're actively working to support other devices and improve the browser-based experience.