Project #3: Complete!

Complete enough, at any rate.

IntelliWriter Logo

IntelliWriter is a distraction-free center-biased text editor with natural language tab-completion. Well, that’s not entirely true. It is a pretty fun experiment in center-biased typing with natural language tab-completion on top of a less-than-wonderful text editor. Let’s just set the expectations at that. I ended up spending more time than I wanted on reinventing the text-editing wheel which didn’t leave as much time as I hoped for some of the other features. But! The outcome is, as with all of these projects so far, I know what I would do differently if I ever want to expand this project into something fo’ realz. The post-mortem should be enlightening for this project. Stay tuned!


I typed a slowly in the demo video/gif above to try and make it obvious where I was using tab-completion. I think with little practice I would be able to spit out a fair number more words-per-minute than I could using a normal text editor. In testing I got really used to keeping my eyes in one place thanks to the center-biasing and now find following the cursor across the screen as I type this into WordPress’s blog editor mildly inconvenient.



  • “Center-biased” means the cursor will always be in the center of the screen with the text moving as you type (like a typewriter, if you remember those).
  • As you type word suggestions will appear. You can press TAB to cycle through the word suggestions, autocompleting what you are typing.
  • CTRL-S to save to a text file and CTRL-O to open a text file for editing.
  • UP, DOWN, LEFT, and RIGHT arrow keys should work for navigating around the document.
  • HOME and END also work as expected as well as CTRL-HOME and CTRL-END.
  • Hold both SHIFT keys to temporarily center the document on the screen.

Known Issues

  • Holding down a key for repeating characters or navigation is not enabled.
  • Probably lots of other things – achtung.

Enjoy! If you can!

Project #2: Alpha Release

Mars Commander Good Enough

“As your nation’s most technologically advanced accomplishment, the HUB, lands on the surface of Mars, millions of your fellow citizens cheer. As another nation’s most technologically advanced accomplishment, their HUB, lands on the surface of Mars, a million of their fellow citizens also cheer. Find a partner to face-off and claim this planet of resources for your own and remove all foreign threats.”

Done! Okay, not “done” in the classic sense of the word, but done enough for alpha testing (i.e. “Is this even fun?” and “Arrr, thar be bugs”). It works best on a Windows 8.1 tablet with two human players. Each player starts with a HUB and the goal of the game is to destroy your opponents first HUB.

The six units included in this alpha release are:

  1. HUB – The Hub is your primary unit and the only unit that can create and throw other units. Each time you throw out a new unit, you are unable to use the Hub for some amount of time (3-20 seconds, depending on the last unit thrown). The new units will also need a few seconds to charge once they get deployed.
  2. EYE – The eye let’s you see a great distance but can be easily destroyed.
  3. AA. This is your anti-air unit and will fire a tracking missile out if anything gets close it.
  4. BMB. The bomb is the cheapest to use but the hardest to aim. It packs a wallop if you can get a direct hit.
  5. MSL. This missile is expensive to use and doesn’t hit as hard as the bomb, but it will find a target and launch itself directly at it.
  6. CRW. Oh man, the crawler is dangerous. Put this kid on the ground and she’ll crawl forward until she hits something – then BLAMMO.

Here’s some gameplay of the using all of the units. You’ll see I missed with the crawler (the red circle) so I had to throw a bomb at it to make it go off. As with the previous video, I’m using the mouse just so you can see where you would normally touch.


Installing a Windows Store App without the Windows Store

Since the Windows 8 store doesn’t currently support closed/hidden/beta releases (but the Windows Phone store does – weird), you can download the app package directly. Installing takes a couple extra steps but we’re all about learning new stuff here. Here’s something new! In the app development world we call the act of installing an application from outside a sanctioned marketplace (e.g. Windows Store, iOS App Store, Google Play) “Side-loading”. It’s inconvenient on purpose since your eschewing all of the protections you would normally get when you install from an app store.

I tried real hard to keep all the viruses and information stealing malware out of my alpha game, but let be known that I make no guarantees and you should install this package at your own risk and all that.

How to install Mars Commander Alpha on your Windows 8.1 device:

  1. Download the app package from here: Mars Commander Alpha for Windows 8.1.
  2. Extract the file somewhere.
  3. Right-click on the file MarsCommander_Win8_1.1.0.1_AnyCPU.cer and select Install Certificate.
  4. The Certificate Import Wizard will open.  Select the Current User store location and click Next.
  5. Select Automatically select the certificate store… and click Next.
  6. Click Finish and then OK when the install completes.
  7. Open PowerShell and change directory to where you extracted the files.
  8. Run “import-module appx”.
  9. Run “add-appxpackage MarsCommander_Win8_1.1.0.1_AnyCPU.appx”.
  10. Some stuff should blip on your screen while it installs and if there are no errors you should see Mars Commander in your app list! Huzzah!

(Thanks again to Matthew for trying to warn me ahead of time that I was going to go way over 24 hours on this one (he was right) and being a constant source of support and design advice.)

Project #1: RELEASE

Who Goes First?

“Before starting any game, you need to answer the burning question: who goes first? Use this app to cut through the bickering, the bribery, and the brouhaha. It doesn’t care who is youngest, who shouts loudest, or who won last. Turn it on, touch the screen, and leave the hard decisions to us.”
Who Goes First?
Save yourself the trouble of deciding who goes first, and leave that determination to the experts.

(touch screen highly recommended)

Windows 8 Store

Google Play


Direct downloads (.ZIP files):
OSX (untested)
Linux 64-bit, Linux 32-bit (both untested)

(Thanks and appreciation to Matthew Moore for the mechanic design, wordsmithing the descriptions, and constant invaluable support.)

Project #1: Complete! Mostly!

Who Goes First is complete! On-time, all major features are in, I feel there’s a pretty good end-to-end story to at least publish to the website here. After showing it to the Principle Quality Analyst (i.e. wife), I should improve the info text explaining how to dumb thing works and some of the other texts before publishing it out to any marketplaces.

In the coming week I’ll run through a post-mortem on Project #1 before diving into Project #2. For now, and not that this is particularly interesting, but for posterity here is what the time log, task list, and future work lists ended up looking like:

Time Log

Who Goes First Time Log

Task Lists

Who Goes First Task List

Who Goes First Future Work