2016 Posts

5 Games now on the Windows Store

5 Games now on the Windows Store

Over the Christmas period Microsoft were running a promotion to developers; “Publish your apps to the Windows store before the 23rd of December and we will give you some Microsoft store credit”. Well as I had already spent a whole bunch of time learning how to publish natives desktop apps to the Windows Store during the development of Glancer I thought sure, why not capitalize on that.

Introducing Glancer – PC Vitals at a Glance

Introducing Glancer – PC Vitals at a Glance

This post has been over 6 years in the making but im glad I can finally write it.

Way back in March of 2010 I wrote about a new tool I had developed with the snappy name “Windows 7 Taskbar Monitor”. It was a little tool that used Windows’ Performance Counter to show you what the current CPU, Memory and Network usage is:


The cunning thing however is that I piggybacked on the new (at the time) “progress” value that you could get which would give you a nice visual indication of the current value for each monitor:


To my surprise this little tool has more than justified its effort to create. I have used it every day for the past 6 years and has been an invaluable tool in working out “what the hell is my computer doing?” sort of problems.

Over the years I haven’t really changed it much and 4 years ago I even open-sourced it: https://github.com/mikecann/Windows7-Taskbar-Monitor

With the advent of Windows 8 and the App Store I thought it would bring greater visibility to my little tool if I could publish it to the store. Unfortunately however Microsoft imposed some pretty strict rules with their store which meant that I couldnt use the progress-tasbar APIs that were central to the app.

Fast-forward a few more years to Windows 10 anniversary edition and Microsoft release something called “Desktop App Converter” (formally Project Centennial). This project would allow you to take just about any existing windows app, then wrap it and convert it so that it was safe to use on the store.

Perfect, this was just what I needed to bring Taskbar Monitor to the store. Well (after a number of lengthy hurdles) I finally achieved it. I totally rewrote the tool to use a more modern Microsoft framework and gave it a new name, Glancer:



The basic functionality is the same, its just wrapped up in a prettier package and has a few more options.

At this stage its just an MVP. I have plans to add a whole bunch more cool functionality and monitors but I just wanted to get it out there first and see what people thought and then hopefully iterate on it as I go.

Ill be using it daily now so very much have an incentive to improve it 🙂

Currently its totally free but im thinking at some point in the future ill monetize it, probably with a free-trial but perhaps with a “freemium” model.

I also built a website for the project here: http://www.glancer.co/ its a bit basic at the moment but I plan on iterating that as I go.

Anyways, give it a download, let me know what you think!


Until next time.

Tech Camps 4 Kids

Tech Camps 4 Kids

I started coding when I was 7 years old at a school-holidays computer camp in the UK. We used QBASIC to write a “guess my number game”. I remember writing that same program out on the school library computers to the amazement of my mates who insisted that I show them how to do it too.

I think that experience combined with early modding sessions of Quake and GTA is what led me down the path to become a professional computer games programmer.

So when 24 years later and half a world a way I as offered the chance to give back and help the next generation of computer games developer make their start I didnt hesitate to volunteer to help out.

TechCamps4Kids is run by an incredible South African lady called Brenda who, fedup with the way computer science was taught in school, decided to start her own after-school club to try to tech kids the actual skills they will need to become the next generation that shapes our technological future.


I was introduced to Brenda and TechCamps4Kids via a mutual friend that I know from one of the entrepreneur meetups I attend here in Perth. She told me she was looking for someone in the gaming industry who could be a judge for a game development competition she was holding for the kids. Knowing how I started out on my career I thought this would be a good opportunity to pay just a small part of my thanks back.

It was a great morning with about 15 kids in attendance ranging from ages 8-14. I spent some time going around looking at all their games, chatting to them, asking questions and trying to work out how to judge their creations.

The kids were being taught using Click Team Fusion and some Scratch. I really surprised at the results. I was expecting to see lots of very similar games that had just been taken from the “template games” but what I got instead was an incredible variety of different games and genres. Some kids had really gone to town and built story driven experiences and others had built simple but addictive avoidance games which wouldn’t look out of place in this “just one more level” style of endless runner mobile games out there right now.

In the end it was a very hard decision to pick just 3 kids as winners, I would have loved to pick all of them but I guess thats not how competitions work.

I hope that TechCamps4Kids continues to grow and develop so that next year I can be invited back to judge once more. I would be great to see the progress made by the kids over the intervening year.

If you live in Western Australia and are looking for somewhere to send your children to teach them some essential skills for this digital age I would strongly recommend TechCamps4Kids.