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PayPal Why You Do This To Me?

The story begins in mid 2008 when I was on a 1 year contract position, working as Mobile Specialist in Germany. I opened up my first ever PayPal account and happily linked it to my German bank account. Everything was working flawlessly.

I made few purchases using PayPal, and also I managed to sell my Nokia N96 to get Nokia 5800XM (Nokia’s first touch input device) using eBay, and received payment of it in my PayPal.

When my contract was over, I started to roll my stuff, and found out from my German bank (Dresdner bank at that time which was in-transition to merged with Commerzbank) that I can keep my account open and use it from overseas via internet banking. I was really happy, that I can still use PayPal and my future European clients can pay to my German account easily.

I headed back to my homeland Pakistan in May 2009, and kept using PayPal for small payments for our web hosting services and domain name renewals. My same PayPal account is also used to accept payments from 99designs.com where my younger brother Najam has won some logo design competitions.

As some of my fellows in Flash and mobile developer communities know that we have recently published couple of apps for BlackBerry PlayBook, and we got quite a success from them so far. The payments of App World are also sent to my PayPal as it’s the only option for App World developers.

In last week of June 2011, I received an email from PayPal that my yearly money receiving limit is reaching (2500 euros) I was at 1800 euros from (August 2010). They asked my proof of identity and proof of address. I sent them a copy of my Passport and my recent German bank statement which shows my current address.

The address didn’t match the address in PayPal profile, as I never updated it in PayPal because Pakistan is not in countries list. So, I tried to add the address in PayPal profile and sent them the statement again. I called the PayPal (Ireland) support as well, as they deal with German PayPal accounts. They told me that I should wait for reply via email.

Now, I got a reply, that says:

After reviewing your PayPal account, we’ve determined there to be excessive
risk involved and would like to begin parting ways in a manner that is
least disruptive to your business.

I logged in to my PayPal account and found one additional note:

This limitation cannot be appealed.

Googled it and found that this is it. I cannot use PayPal anymore. Even I have a German bank account which legally allows me to use it from anywhere, and I am providing my proof of ID and correct address, PayPal don’t want to use my account anymore. There were no complaints filed against my account in past. It’s a clean PayPal account with limited number of transactions.

We recently planned that we exclusively target PlayBook device for our current development as there’s really lack of quality and good looking apps and games. Making our chances more than double compared to already filled iPad and Android markets.

We have been forced to stop here. It’s an unfortunate situation. PayPal for some reason does not support Pakistan, while they support many other Asian and African countries which are almost equal to or even worse than Pakistan’s political or stability situation.

I would have never used PayPal more if App World allowed to directly send funds to my local bank account. For now, I am thinking of asking a German friend who can accept my payments from App World for a month or two, then we are going to pull back from App World until they start paying directly to bank account.

I think it’s time that I start finding a job overseas again :/

Update “€œ Aug 2011

Okay, my PayPal account is now permanently blocked. PayPal opened it for 3 days again to let me withdraw my remaining fund to my linked German bank account. Now I’m done with PayPal.

I got the good news from RIM as well, as they agreed to offer me direct transfer of funds to my bank account. They sent me a contract, and it’s currently in progress of being activated.

We are now back on AppWorld development, and have couple of apps under development to the PlayBook. Thanks for RIM for listening to us.

// chall3ng3r //

Fixed: Ovi Store not working after Hard Reset

I have seen many users complaining Ovi Store app not working at all after they Hard Rest their Symbian^3 device, such as Nokia N8, E7, C7 etc.

Ovi Store app is developed using Qt and it requires the Qt runtime on device to work properly. When a user Hard Rests his device, the runtime is gone. And unfortunately, Nokia is unable to tackle this issue so far when installing Ovi Store again on device.

I have to reset my Nokia N8 once, and I got hit by the same issue. I knew what was missing, so I just installed the Qt runtime (4.6.3) SIS from the Qt SDK 1.0 folder to my N8 and it started working just fine.

Normal users don’t have Qt SDK, which is ~1.3GB download. So, I thought it would be a good idea to put the Qt runtime SIS files on my server and let the users having issues with Ovi Store, download and install the Qt runtime without downloading the Qt SDK.

ovi_store_fixed

I created a special mobile friendly page on our SWF2Go website, where any user can just go directly using his mobile and download and install the Qt runtime.

Direct Download Qt Runtime: https://chall3ng3r.com/downloads/qt/

I uploaded Qt 4.6.3 as well as Qt 4.7.3 runtimes. You just need only one of them. I’d recommend the later as the most of the new apps such as LinkedIn for Symbian is based on it.

Update: Based on feedback I have also added Qt Mobility 1.1.3 SIS along Qt runtime. Some users have reported Ovi Store app uses Qt Mobility as well. I guess this will fix Ovi Store always loading issue after installing Qt.

Update 2: I have now added Qt Notifications APIs SIS on the download link above. The new version of Ovi Store uses these new APIs as well.

Update 3 “€œ Recommended for Symbian ^3: Nokia team has finally made available a standalone download of the Ovi Store client app. Just visit the following link to download the latest version. Read more about this at official blog.

Direct Download Ovi Store App: http://lr.ovi.mobi/store/client-symbian-3/

Update 4 (26 Oct 2011): Download new Qt QML based beta Nokia Store app. 18mb download contains Qt runtime and the client. No need to install Qt. Get it from here.

My suggestion to Nokia / Qt Team: There should be similar Qt runtime download page optimized for mobile devices, for end users. Who disparately search on internet when Ovi Store stops working.

Update 5 (Sep-2015):
Nokia Store for Symbian is no longer available. Most of the apps are moved to Opera at http://apps.opera.com. Visit this website for Opera Store installation on your Symbian OS phone.

Have fun downloading great apps from Ovi Store!

// chall3ng3r //

Icon Maker for BlackBerry PlayBook is now live!

If you are following my recent tweets, you might have noticed that I am working on some applications for upcoming BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. So far, I am having fun developing for PlayBook using AIR SDK.

I noticed that the icon requirement for BlackBerry PlayBook AIR SDK are a little complicated. Developer have to make an icon of 86×86 pixels PNG, but he must not fill the entire area with graphics. Developer have to keep his graphical contents inside 77×77 rectangle so it could look similar in size to other application icons on PlayBook.

BTW, 77×77 is an odd size for 86×86 icon. As on the two sides (top-left) the transparent buffer is 5 pixels, and on remaining two sides (right-bottom) it becomes 4 pixels. Out of center by one pixel.

So, I thought we tweak our SVG Icon Maker tool for Symbian applications, to make icons for BlackBerry PlayBook as well. And of course, we did take care of that odd 77×77 size by using 76×76 selection rectangle.

Now you can create great looking icons for your BlackBerry PlayBook tablet games and applications right from your web browser!

Start using Icon Maker at: http://www.orison.biz/apps/playbook-icon-maker/

And as usual, below are couple of screenshots of the Icon Maker in action.

icon-maker-screenshot

icon-maker-screenshot2

Do let us know you feedback or suggestions so we can keep improving it in future.

// chall3ng3r //

Quick Workaround: AS3 gotoAndStop Nasty Bug

Okay, I admit it. I am old-school. I use Flash Pro CS5 as my only Flash development tool. I do all my coding on timelines and I like it that way.

I have been working with AS3 for few months now, and I have to say, I have to write twice the code to actually do what I was able to do using AS2. I miss those good old days.

Anyway, I’ve been developing an AIR Mobile application and hit by this nasty gotoAndStop bug. If you are feeling lazy to click the link and see detailed explanation, here’s a excerpt from the post:

myMC.gotoAndStop('FINISHED_SCREEN');
myMC.result_txt.text = "You won!";


Leading to following error:

TypeError: Error #1009: Cannot access a property or method of a null object reference.

To clarify: in this context, result_txt is the name of a TextField that exists on the stage, and only exists on the frame with the label "FINISHED_SCREEN". If you haven’t previously displayed this frame, and you run the code above, then sometimes you will find that the result_txt TextField object hasn’t been properly instantiated by Flash yet when the second line is run – therefore myMC.result_txt will resolve to null, and you’ll get the error above.

I tried and found many kind of solutions, but they were more like adding a lot more code and changing the way my jumping from frame to frame works.

So, experimented a little, and ended up with my own solution. It’s kind of dirty one ;)

First you need to Export for ActionScript your problematic MovieClip from Library. Make sure you add text Class at the end of export ID/class name. i.e. my original Library item was named "mcCircle", so I Export it as "mcCircleClass".

Now, on the keyframe where you are getting that null reference error. Initialize your MovieClip as follows:

var mcCircle:mcCircleClass;
if(this.getChildByName("mcCircle") == null)
{
    mcCircle = new mcCircleClass();
addChild(mcCircle); }

After this you can access mcCircle as before. You might have to set it’s properties (x/y etc.) again, as we just created a new instance which doesn’t have values from previous instance. In my case, I just had to set it’s X and Y to position it back where it belonged.

It’s not as optimistic as other solutions, but it does the job when you need to quickly get through it.

I am quite disappointed by Adobe since Timelines are the basics of Flash from the very core. This bug is around since Flash 9 days, and Adobe still haven’t fixed it. Come on Adobe, you can do better!

Update: Some other references to the problem:

// chall3ng3r //

Thoughts on Nokia + Microsoft

I believe this is the biggest mobile technology news since announcement of Apple iPhone back in 2007. And to be honest, I am all excited as one Apple fanboy would have, on such big news!

nokia-microsoft-valentine

There are reasons why I am so much excited, but first let me start with the fact that many developers showing concern that Nokia made a mistake for selecting Microsoft Windows Phone 7 as it’s primary mobile OS.

I have been reading lots of news, reviews, analysis and comments around this partnership, positive and negative. I gone through official Forum Nokia’s blog post "Letter to Developers about Today’s News" and in comments I see many developers not so happy.

I would like share some of the facts and personal experience about Symbian OS.

Symbian for End-Users

This is the base fact that everyone, including Nokia also admits that Symbian’s UX is ugly. I have been using Nokia smartphones since 2004, and my first one was second-hand Nokia 7650, and I have witnessed that Symbian was doing great in terms of UI until iPhone. After that, I haven’t heard anyone praising Symbian’s UI.

Symbian for touch enabled devices, proved to be complete nightmare for Nokia. Since it’s introduction to date, they are still trying to tweak it to work better for touch input, sadly without any luck.

Honestly, tell me any 10 great looking native Symbian applications, which provide smooth, beautiful, and animated user experience. Oh, I know one, Gravity and my big applause to the guys who did it. Other than this, I have not seen any Symbian application which impressed me with such great UX compared to iPhone, Android or WP7 apps.

Other than this, I was quite disappointed from Nokia from the end-users’ perspective, as they’ve been selling Symbian devices by showing cool animated UI transitions, but in reality, the actual device, when rotated from portrait orientation, taking more than 7 seconds to show up the UI in landscape (personal experience). Yes, I’m talking about Nokia N97 and other Symbian 5th Edition devices. Lets take a look at this video.

Cool, isn’t it. But if anyone who have used one of these devices must know what I’m talking about.

All this Symbian ^3 hype is waste of money and resources. I have a Nokia N8, and I was not able to compose new or reply to an email until I upgraded to firmware PR1.1, which was released few days ago after months of delay, using my primary account of Mail for Exchange (I use Google Apps). And there were also many other users who were have same issue.

I was making jokes on this”¦ "Nokia – Connecting People NOT", and imagine Borat saying it, you’re gonna laugh "automagically" :D

Nokia N8 is really a fast device as compared to Nokia 5800XM I own. But the UI still lacks all the richness, smooth transitions, and usability I find on iPhone, somewhat on Android and now on WP7 devices. Even Nokia wasn’t able to deliver what they showed in an imaginative video demoed back in 2007. Lets take a look, and pay close attention to animations and transitions.

Symbian was the main reason of Nokia’s failing all this time. They have tried to tweak its UI to make it work on touch enabled devices, but unfortunately it didn’t worked out until now.

Last thing to add here is, Nokia’s official end-user support forums are filled with so many complaints, most of them are related to Symbian OS.

Symbian for Developers

I started learning Symbian back in 2006. My aim was to develop a compiler, which would allow Adobe Flash Lite developers to easily package and distribute their games and application on Symbian platform. I successfully delivered SWF2Go in March 2007 after 8 months of R’nD, and it’s been quite a success so far.

During my journey on Symbian OS, I learned how hard and time consuming it is to develop. Setting up it’s SDKs was quite big task for anyone new to Symbian, but who have worked on other mobile platforms. Other than my work on SWF2Go, I never developed any native Symbian C++ application.

Just in 2010, Nokia’s investments in Qt started to show up. Even though Qt it easy and fun to develop with and its been here for so long and already gone through embedded platforms, but still not ready for real mobile applications. When developer needs to do some real work, he ends up with same old dirty Symbian C++.

Qt Mobility 1.0 is released but it has some quirks. For example, there’s no native Qt APIs of dealing with device orientation. The new Qt Creator project wizard now adds that dirty Symbian C++ code for you.

Nokia could have at least replaced the UI shell of the Symbian ^3 using Qt with all it’s cool transitions and effects. Like HTC replaced Windows Mobile’s UI (almost same as Symbian) with HTC Sense UX. And they actually did a pretty good job on that.

So, Symbian is an outdated legacy OS, which have completed its life long ago. Its making Nokia, developers and the whole ecosystem around it completely slow.

Now stop being angry and join, celebrate with me ;)

Why I Am So Excited?

Microsoft really knows software. They also make mistakes, like everyone does, but they are pretty good. For example .Net, Xbox, Windows 7, Silverlight.

Microsoft Windows Phone 7 is developed from experiences of Windows Mobile. It is targeted specifically for next generation hardware and touch input. It is user friendly, stable and it works. Go checkout some cool reviews to find out for yourself.

Microsoft is the king of developer tools, specifically Visual Studio 2010. If you have never used it before, this tool will teach you, help you and make you expert within weeks. It’s code editing features are one of the best available today.

With tons of online resources already available, so you will never get stuck with any issue. There’s a vibrant developer community as well, from where we can learn more and share back expertise.

Microsoft offers a complete set of tools for development of Windows Phone 7 games and applications. And best thing about them is, all of these tools including VS2010, Expression Blend and XNA Game Studio are completely free. Installation experience is really smooth as well.

Once you are aboard, you’re gonna love it. You can take my word on that ;)

I also found some users and developers asking Nokia, why they didn’t selected Android? Well, other than what Mr. Elop already said about it, I would like to add, haven’t you guys already seen enough Android devices?

Everyone is making them, HTC, Samsung, Motorola, LG just to name a few. Now even those Chinese companies also started making them in masses. You will be getting a lot of them in coming days.

Don’t you guys want to see something new, something different, a competition, using new technology, developing for it, innovating with it, having a choice? I mean come on”¦ Guys!

Nokia + Microsoft = A Wining Combination

I believe that this partnership is a great opportunity for developers on Nokia platform to get back into fast lane, and rapidly develop and compete against other platforms. Provide best of the best games, applications and user experiences to the end-users. A winning combination for everyone.

/// chall3ng3r //

Download latest Flash Player 10.2 Plugin / Standalone Versions

I recently noticed after announcement of Adobe Flash Player 10.2 availability, users are searching for downloading Flash Player. As I’ve been installing Flash Player updates manually for some time now, and I am not sure if Adobe have stopped using getPlus (crap-o-ware) plugin for installing Flash Player.

flashplayer-10-2

The reason why users are searching for alternate download locations for latest Flash Player is because Adobe have made bad reputation by bundling McAfee, Google Toolbar, etc. and worst of all, a 4-5mb sized getPlus plugin which then downloads, 3-4mb Flash Player.

There’s also big number of searches landing on my blog for Flash Player Standalone or Projector. If some of you might remember, I released a VB6 wrapper for Flash Player 8 ActiveX few years back, users are still downloading it as it works with latest versions as well.

Today I’d like to share a “secret” link which contains direct links to download latest versions of Flash Player plugin installers, but also Standalone / Projector version as well.

Please note, these are Debug versions of the player, meant specifically for developers.

The “Secret” Link: http://www.adobe.com/support/flashplayer/downloads.html

On the above link, you will always find installers of latest version of Adobe Flash Player for Windows, Mac and Linux. You can also download older archived versions as well.

I think Adobe needs to make a similar download location for Production versions of Flash Player, for users who like manually downloading and installing their software.

I hope many users who land on my blog searching for Adobe Flash Player will finally get what they were looking for :)

// chall3ng3r //

How to Prepare for Forum Nokia Developers’ Workshop 2011

This post will help you for preparing yourself for the first Forum Nokia Developers’ Workshop 2011 in Karachi “€œ Pakistan from 31 Jan to 3 Feb 2011.

qt_and_j2me

The workshop focuses on two mobile technologies, J2ME and Qt available on Nokia’s S40 feature-phones and Symbian S60 smartphones. With countless Nokia devices around the world and over 3.5 million downloads from Ovi Store every single day, these technologies are highly profitable for mobile developers.

Let’s get started. First things first. You are required to bring along your notebook, so you need a notebook with either Windows (XP SP2 / Vista / 7) or Mac OSX (Leopard / Snow Leopard).

If you are going for J2ME track, you need to install J2ME SDK and related developer tools. Below are the download links of recommended tools:

If you opted for Qt, then you only need Nokia Ovi Suite and Nokia Qt SDK 1.0 or better go with latest Nokia Qt SDK 1.1 Technology Preview which includes QML and Qt Mobility 1.1 support.

Install these tools and be sure to at least open the IDE of installed SDK (Qt Creator or NetBeans) and compile a sample project that came along with SDK to make sure the installation does not have any issues.

The most important part is what you’re going to do at the workshop?

Other than educating you about J2ME and Qt and what you can do with these technologies, Forum Nokia is recommending that you bring your own idea for a project you would like to do. The instructors at the workshop will help you while you work on your project.

It’s still one day to go before the workshop starts, start planning your mobile project using J2ME or Qt and get the most of out of this great opportunity offered by Forum Nokia.

I will be at the workshop as well with some cool projects and you are welcome to connect and discuss mobile development at the event.

See you guys on Monday!

// chall3ng3r //

Nokia N8 or C7 Software Updates Failing? Try This : Updated

Nokia is earning bad reputation almost every day. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true. Recently Nokia published some minor OTA software updates for Symbian ^3 devices, Nokia N8 and C7.

The updates are named as follows:

  • Phone apps update (important)
  • Apps update 1.0
  • Nokia DAB Radio
  • Videos

For some users updates are failing without any apparent reason, this includes me, and I’ve been following the discussions on official forums.

Users have tried changing the dates, soft-rebooting and hard-rebooting (8 secs power button) their devices, even some already tried factory-rest without any luck, this also includes me. All four updates failed every time, even it felt like the software updater not even trying to make a connection to internet to retry the download.

Now lets get back to the solution, which worked for me. As I mentioned, I also own a Nokia N8, and it was happening to me as well. Since it’s my secondary device, I am using it without SIM for emails, news and keeping an eye on Facebook and Twitter activity.

I found an old prepaid Tchibo SIM bought from Germany, I just popped in this SIM and did a soft-reboot. After the reboot when device was responsive again, I tried the updater. This time all four updates installed successfully, one by one. Yay!

nokia-n8-updates

So, the root cause seems to be with the SIM a folder located in Mass Storage “E:Private20019119”. You can try with the following:

Working Solution Update:

Big thanks to user “Unick” on Nokia Support Forums, who posted a working solution to the problem, and there are couple of successful installs reported from the solution.

Today I deleted folder E:Private20019119. Aftar that I run update and it finished successful. Maybe current version on Nokia server is correct.

The simple steps would be:

  • Connect your Nokia N8/C7 in Mass Storage mode to PC via USB cable
  • Locate and delete folder named “20019119” under Private folder of Mass Storage
  • That’s all.
  • Unplug the device from PC, and retry again. It should work.
  • If you have installed a SIM in your N8/C7, and update is failing. Remove the SIM, do a soft-reboot. Then try the updater without SIM. If it’s successful, reinstall the SIM and do a soft-reboot.
  • If you are using it SIM-less, like me, just put any SIM into device, do a soft-reboot. Try the updater.
  • If updater is failing with your current SIM and without SIM, you can borrow a SIM from your friend or family member, but remember, it should be from different operator than yours. Try the updater after soft-reboot.

I hope my findings will help others with the same issue. And also let me know if it worked for you as well, and which method you used.

I hope Nokia engineers are already working on a permanent solution, and they will be more careful with the updates in future.

// chall3ng3r //

New project: Make SVG icons for Symbian from any image – Free!

I am glad to announce our latest online project SVG2Go, for mobile developers targeting Symbian platform. As the name suggests, SVG2Go is for making cool looking SVG icons from any image file. And best of all, it’s online and free ;)

Start using SVG2Go online here: http://www.orison.biz/apps/svg-icon-maker/

Icons made with SVG2Go can be used for all Symbian applications made using Symbian C++, Qt and Flash Lite. Even you can use it with our other product SWF2Go, to rapidly develop cool games and applications using Flash Lite and publish them on Ovi Store.

Until now, making a nice looking SVG icon was a really hard task. The icon made using Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape doesn’t look the way designer created them, when it appeared on mobile device. Let me give you an example:

tron-icon-example

You might have checked out the Disney sponsored Tron : Tanks Arcade game on Ovi Store, made from the Tron : Legacy movie theme. Take a look it’s icon, no offense to anyone here, but I’m guessing that the developer might have not been able to produce a better icon in time, so he used this one, which doesn’t look good enough. But, the game is quite impressive, smooth graphics and play experience.

Using SVG2Go, anyone can make a really nice SVG icon instantly using the same Photoshop raster artwork. No need to experiment with SVG-T or fiddling with viewbox property. The output SVG icon looks exactly as you have made them. No tweaking needed.

As always, bellow is the screenshot of SVG2Go in action.

svg2go-screenshot

Give it a try, and do let us know of your experience with it, or any suggestions you might have. And don’t forget to share it with your fellow Symbian developers.

// chall3ng3r //