Coffeehouse Thread

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What difficulties might I run into, doing development on my laptop, while commuting?

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  • Doctor Who

    I've had an idea for a Windows Phone app for a long time, but finding the time to work on it hasn't been easy, due to long commutes. A month ago I got a new laptop, because I was going on a business trip and needed a way of being able to reach work, in the event I had to. Now I wondering, how about doing development on my laptop, while I'm commuting? (I ride a bus; long rides.) Now, there's times when that's not convenient, due to the fact that I had several transfers that are only a few minutes apart, but there's other things that might be possible. The only thing I'm concerned about is not having Internet access. If I try this, what problems might I encounter, and how might I be able to either fix it or live with it?

  • evildictait​or

    What type of development do you do? Is there no possibility of running your app locally for testing?

    If you have Visual Studio you ought to be able to just F5 and do testing even without the Internet, although obviously you won't be able to connect to your company's source depot.

    Some stuff to look out for:

    * You'll need to manually sync if you're going to be offline for a while. This gets more difficult the more out of sync your code gets.

    * Hopefully your company has the policy that all code in SVN must build, otherwise you will have problems if someone else on your team broke your code by submitting buggy stuff to the depot.

    * You might need to ask your IT admin whether viewing source code on a train potentially opposite one of your competitors is allowed.

    * You need to make sure that your laptop has Bitlocker installed, otherwise if you lose your laptop, you lose your company's secret source code.

    Apart from that it should just work. There is of course the obvious problem that laptops are a little clunky for use on a bus; so you might prefer using either a very small laptop or a tablet instead.

  • magicalclick

    Typical near sight, sore neck, dizziness. That's all I care about.

    Leaving WM on 5/2018 if no apps, no dedicated billboards where I drive, no Store name.
    Last modified
  • SimonJ

    Small screen can be cramped compared to a large desktop monitor.

    You can't timestamp your code if you don't have an Internet connection.

    Delicate adjustment of the placing of controls on forms can be difficult when you're jiggling around.

    Fellow passengers/scenery/announcements can be distracting.


  • Doctor Who

    WOW, I didn't realize how much I left out, when I asked my question. Let me fill in more details.

    The Windows Phone development I want to do is for myself, only. I do work as a professional software engineer, but where I work there's no chance of doing any mobile development for the foreseeable future. However, I want to get into this on my own, I have some ideas for apps I want to get into the Marketplace. i.e.: this is all on my initiative. So syncing with others isn't an issue. Source control is incumbent upon me.

  • Ion Todirel

    , magicalclick wrote

    Typical near sight, sore neck, dizziness. That's all I care about.

    yep, and nausea Smiley plus lots of vibration; unless you take a rail it doesn't really work, you better be stuck with a book

  • BitFlipper

    I use a 6 year old ASUS convertible tablet to do development on while on my train commute. A train is much more stable than a bus so the motion related issues the other mentioned is almost a non-issue. Motion related issues vary from person to person so you may or may not get nauseous.

    Technically, if you want to use the WP8 emulator on Windows 8, you need to make sure the laptop you use supports SLAT (Second Level Address Translation). If not, it won't run the emulator and you would need to either use an external physical phone, or restrict your testing to the WP7 emulator which doesn't require SLAT.

    The WP app I'm working on requires a lot of DSP, so one thing I've done is share the same DSP *.cs files between two projects, one that targets WP8, the other that targets a simple WinForms app. This way I can work on my DSP algorithms without requiring either an emulator or a physical WP device. This allows me to use the full laptop/desktop screen to display detailed debugging graphs etc. It also allows me to use my custom made Debugger Visualizers that don't work for WP development at all (I really wish MS would fix this). For instance I have one visualizer that can take a buffer of floats or doubles and display the audio waveform in a zoomable/scrollable popup window. But this approach is probably only possible for a small amount of app types where you can separate out the internal functionality into an external app. A good argument for MVVM.

  • androidi

    @Doctor Who:

    According to this timeline, Microsoft has been unable to in over 10+ years fix a bug affecting this sort of scenario:

    The bug is that the computers clock should be set to a known reference time like UTC that does not observe DST, yet Windows is incapable of properly handling this scenario because Microsoft has made the assumption that normal users go to BIOS and manually set the RTC to local time. I would say that is a correct assumption, but only in cases where the users computer is in a fixed location.

    How many years does it take for Microsoft engineers to fix a bug? Well 10+ years and counting we can say that for sure.

  • BitFlipper

    @androidi: I'm not sure Doctor Who will really be running into this issue, and if so, it would be rare (maybe once a year during the early morning hours). Wouldn't you agree there would be other more likely issues that he would run into given the context of his question?

  • GoddersUK

    @Doctor Who: People like me looking over your shoulder.

    I don't do it deliberately, but by the time I realise what I'm doing I'm often too interested to stop... Tongue Out

    (I've seen some really interesting confidential stuff on people laptops on trains before, confidential court records and the like. They really ought to take better precautions - those screen covers you can get that reduce viewing angle can help but not working on confidential documents in public places is a far more robust solution! Tongue Out)

  • Doctor Who

    @BitFlipper: I've never heard of Second Level Address Translation. I have no idea if my new laptop supports that or not. Thanks for the info, I guess I'll have to look into it.

  • Doctor Who

    @GoddersUK: I'd never thought of the possibility of others looking over my shoulder to see what I'm doing. And since I tend to ride in the first seat, then I guess I'm inviting people to peek.

  • Doctor Who

    Several of you have mentioned the possibility of my encountering problems with the bus reacting to road conditions. I hadn't thought about that. There's at least 1 place where that can be a problem, because the bus crosses railroad tracks. I think I'll give it a try and see how it goes, but this might not work at all for me. Certainly a train ride would be better, but that's not practical for my commute.

  • Doctor Who

    @BitFlipper: I have just gotten off of a chat with Sony tech support, and have determined that my laptop does support SLAT.

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