Accept return and set page focus in Windows Phone 8.1

Just what it says on the tin. Windows Phone 8.1 changed a few things.

Important: In order for focus to work, the page’s IsTabStop property must be set to true.

Windows Phone 8

    private void beerTextBox_KeyDown(object sender, KeyEventArgs e)
            if (e.Key == Key.Enter)
                if (string.IsNullOrEmpty(term.Text))
                    MessageBox.Show("Please enter a search term.");

Windows Phone 8.1

    private async void term_KeyDown(object sender, KeyRoutedEventArgs e)
            if (e.Key == Windows.System.VirtualKey.Enter)
                if (string.IsNullOrEmpty(term.Text))
                    MessageDialog msgbox = new MessageDialog("Please enter a search term.");
                    await msgbox.ShowAsync();

Podcasting for the masses

I have all of the feels when it comes to a few things. My wife, my daughter, my dogs, beer, coffee, and… podcasting. Podcasts have gotten me through a lot of tough times. I owe podcasting for a lot. I’m only now starting to give back.*

A lot of people are weighing in on podcasting right now. The mainstream success of Serial has a bit to do with it. But I think podcasting has gotten over its sophomore slump. To be fair, I think this happened in 2011 when audio quality went up and cheesy sound effects dropped.  The world has been missing a good radio replacement and I think podcasts fit perfectly. They are like a DVR for radio, but with way more diversity than you would ever get broadcasted live. I love that. In short, podcasts are what I always wanted radio to be.

Rather than drone on about my thoughts on podcasts, I’m going to link to some recent articles. These people are in the thick of the current podcasting movement. They’re (truly) independent and spend copious amounts of time making sure their podcasts are as great as something like This American Life.

Why podcasts are suddenly back

Podcasts swirling, whirling, and moving

Easy Listening

*My podcast Universal Bits is in development. My podcast app, Cask, is nearing release.

Where do we go now?

I’ve had some people ask if I still make mixes. Like most, I’ve gotten caught up in making playlists in Spotify and forgetting about them days later. Hopefully this is a bit different.

Compiled over the last year or so, this mix seems more sticky than most. Made for the fall season, there should be something on here for everyone.

Download, unzip, and drag to iTunes. If you don’t remember how to use iTunes, I made a video below. There’s a Spotify link, too.

Download – better sound, mix, art, notes (which are also below)

Spotify – easier


track notes

Max Richter – Spring
I hope someone appreciates the irony of starting a Fall mix with a track titled “Spring.”

Local Natives – Heavy Feet
Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat World once said that every album should start off with a song that kicks a little ass. This eventually gets there… sorta. I’ll be honest, this song is here because the beginning blends really well with the previous track.

Y La Bamba – Ponce Pilato
Are you watching Parenthood? You should be. They have the best closing songs and the story arcs have a realness to them.

Grey Reverend – Everlasting
I think there needs to be more upright bass in this world.

Daughter – Candles
I think this was the very last song I added and one of my favorite tracks. So much background noise. It feels like they setup a recording studio in a hallway somewhere.

Mark Ronson, Amy Winehouse – Valerie (revisited)
I remember coming in to S+C and someone was playing this. It blew me away instantly, and it’s unlike most songs I typically dig. I love all the funk. I never paid much attention to Amy Winehouse until this song. So much talent.

Kacey Musgraves – Merry Go ‘Round
A bit played out, but it’s been on this list for a while. Resonates with me; except for the whole trailer park thing. Don’t worry, we’ll get to the EDM side of my brain by the end of the mix.

Pickwick, Sharon Van Etten – Lady Luck
A cover. No shit. So good.

Ólafur Arnalds & Arnor Dan – Old Skin
Delicate piano? Check. Strings? Check. Synths? Check.

Rhye – The Fall
One of my oldest acquaintances got me into an artist from Canada named Milosh. He fell to a classic case of, “You have your whole life to write your first album.” He’s found a resurgence as the guy singing for Rhye. Such a unique voice. Sexy song, too.

Night Beds – Ramona
I don’t even know what to say about this track. It’s fucking amazing. Reminds of Heartbreaker-era Ryan Adams.

Andrew Belle – Pieces
A fairly late addition to the mix. I love how heavy this song feels. It’s melodically dense.

Future Islands – Seasons (waiting on you)
Love love love the 80’s synths and bass lines on this track. I think of this as the 7th inning stretch of this mix. Title works for it, too.

Small Black – Free at Dawn
I’ve been keeping my, keeping myself from you. I’ve been hoping you, hoping you’d just come to.

Eden Hulholland – Blueprint
Let’s build things. Maybe a monument? Maybe a bowl of lightning? Yay!

Wolf Alice – Bros
I love how the opening guitar part basically sounds like a Les Paul jacked right into a soundboard. Twenty seconds in and the song explodes into happy melodies. Probably the coolest band name on this mix, too.

Coasts – Oceans
This is the most rock you’re going to get on this mix.

Yuna – I wanna go
Just a good song. No commentary necessary.

Groove Armada – Cards to your heart
Of course I’m going to end a mix that starts with words, “Well, the music is coming to an end.” This is way far on the EDM side of my tastes. Way way way far. The verses are a little weird, but the bridges and choruses make up for them. My friend Jesse introduced me to these guys.

liner notes

I usually hand out mixes during Spring. There’s always something about new beginnings. As I age, there’s something about the winding down of Fall that resonates with me more and more. In a way, this is the best of both worlds; winding down and new beginnings. I think I started this project around May of 2013 and here we are late into Fall. Yikes. Some may say this is a classic Chris mix. That’s probably true. I like what I like.


The cover art was shot on my phone during a late evening in Sugarhood near the S-Line. This is the first time I’ve ever used a camera phone to do album art. Crazy.


I added a few steps to my mix process this year. I now relentlessly listen to everything in Spotify, purchase in iTunes, and mix everything using CD Architect Pro. I export out WAVs, parse them, and import into iTunes. I adjust all metadata in iTunes to prevent automatic crossfading since the tracks come pre-crossfaded. The iTunes purchases are not ideal, but I’m not dedicated enough to track down and buy obscure full-length CDs.

how to iTunes


Due to various reasons, I don’t brew beer very often. Our limited space and limited time are the biggest contributing factors. When I brew, I aim to make the most interesting beer I can reasonably produce. I also go for styles that have inspired me as of late. Right now, that’s definitely sour beer. Namely, Brett and Lacto varieties.

10-12-14 is an ode to the month of October, but made for the confines of winter. Measuring at a healthy 9~% ABV, this is a sipper. We don’t have space for aging sours for 6-plus months, so I added a touch of cabernet (Grayson Cellars) soaked oak chips and used an Abbey (Trappist) yeast strain. I wrapped it all up in a nice layer of cacao (coco) nibs, and raisins. What we have left should be a brown sugar, coffee, chocolate, woody, estery bomb of a beer. Hopefully it’s not too boozy.




Cask : A Windows Phone Podcast Client

When I decide to build an app, I look at my biggest pain points. The podcast ecosystem on Windows Phone has been terrible since day one. Microsoft’s built in client has been abysmal, and third party clients have never satisfied me.

After working on and off for the last few months on Cask’s audio ‘engine’ (really, it’s just wrangling WP’s background audio to behave in an expected manner) I think I see the light at the end of the alpha tunnel.

Cask is a cloud-backed podcast client. It uses a server to parse feeds and spit them back to the app. This means feed parsing can be updated without needing to push any software updates to the app. This also means that you will be able to share podcasts in a unified manner.

I have a few trusted friends who will be beta testing in a few weeks as I wrap up the initial development. Once that round is done, I’ll move on to a larger beta audience. Despite coming so far, there’s still a long haul ahead.

Side Note: Cask is a beer term. It means un-filtered, un-pasteurized, naturally carbonated beer. Podcasts are very raw in nature. Boom.


To You

Editorial Note: I wrote this about a month ago before Franny was born.

I wish I had some grand piece of advice for you. Some single guiding principle that will carry you through thick and thin. Life doesn’t really work that way.

It’s hard and easy. There are people you will like and people you will despise. You will find that every situation is different. You mom’s and my love story will be different than your own. Just like ours was from your grandparents.

Speaking of your grandparents. They will love you more than you will ever know. It will be annoying at times, but when you look back you will have cherished every moment you spent with them.

The families you come from are vastly different, but still very similar. Nielsons and Millars will do everything in their power to help someone in need. This may seem like a simple thing at first, but the more you experience the rest of the world, you will realize that’s not always the case. Where we differ are things like religion and sports obsessions. Though, obviously you will be a San Francisco Giants, Utah Utes and Utah Jazz fan. In the end, you will be a blend of both families and you will wear it on your sleeve just like your mom and I do now.

You will learn that your mom and I compliment each other in ways that is not necessarily common. Where she is decisive, I am nuanced. Where I am forgetful, she is quick to remember. We spent the majority of our lives looking for each other and it’s been amazing building a life together. I don’t think either one of us has ever been so happy.

With that in mind, you will still have so much choice in how you achieve your own happiness. Religion, sexual, dietary, and career choices will be all your own to choose. Who you decide to spend the rest of your life with is completely up to you… as long as you choose after you’re 35.

Really, we can only hope to educate you enough so you make informed decisions that we are proud of today, and you will be proud of tomorrow. In the end, we know you will make mistakes, and that’s ok. Maybe I really do have a piece of grand advice.

We may yell. We may cry. We may call you a little shit. But no matter what happens, your mom and I will always love you. We will always be here for you.

Your Dad

Parenting by Hank

I’m glad Netflix added more Californication episodes to get me ready for parenting. Sarah and I have been tearing through the latest episodes looking for any nuggets of parenting advice from Hank.

‘We didn’t just shrink a phone UI’

Um, yeah you did.

Am I the only one that’s pumped about Apple bringing back the Honeycomb UI from Windows Mobile?

honeycomb-phonephotos Remote Stopwatch passbook


I’ve talked about it before, but Microsoft has a lot of problems. Consumer and developer relevancy in the modern mobile world is probably problem #1.

Microsoft buying Minecraft today is all about mindshare. If kids know what Microsoft is today, it’s because of Xbox or Windows. It’s not Office and it’s certainly not because of phones, where all the computing growth is. If a child happens to know Microsoft through Windows, chances are it’s not a pleasant memory. Windows is notoriously difficult, hard to use, and problematic.

Buying Minecraft gives Microsoft mindshare into every child that likes to build things electronically. When the most import aspect of your company’s future is convincing the next generation of builders to use your platform, 2.5 billion dollars doesn’t seem that high.

The Watch

The modern smart watch category that began with Android Wear started out as slightly modified phone interfaces shrunk to watch-like sizes. It’s disappointing that Apple Watch doesn’t seem to be much better.

What Apple has always excelled at is taking an existing category and re-inventing the hell out of it. Mp3 players, phones, tablets, and even PCs were all markets that existed before Apple decided to join them. When they did, each category was changed forever. What Apple announced on Tuesday was a $350 accessory to a $200* device. A smartphone shrunk down to watch proportions. As Ben Thompson points out, Tim Cook never made the case why the Apple Watch exists.

What this market needs is something different. It needs a weeks worth of battery life, not a day.** We need less inputs on the face. Part of what made the iPod so magical is that the UI was more simple because it wasn’t trying to do everything; even though its core functions could stand on their own. The Apple Watch appears to be the opposite. It requires an iPhone, yet lets you pan around a maps app like it’s a phone.

I think there is a market for a smart watch. But everyone is missing the point of what that should be.

If I’m wearing my watch, how about I don’t get notifications on every single device that I have a meeting in 15 minutes? If I’m wearing a watch and I’m running, how about the running app just starts. If I send directions to my phone, how about you just start navigation? Why do we have a home screen? Our home screen should be the watch face and nothing more. Managing apps should not be happening on a device that is roughly an inch and a half big. I should not be sending text messages or dick pics with my watch. It’s the equivalent of those Casio calculator watches in the 90s.

Maybe I just don’t get it, but I think Apple Watch misses the mark. A device should be better than what we currently have. In the case of the Apple Watch, what they gave us was a faster horse.

*The iPhone subsidized price is what most humans think the iPhone costs
**Apple hasn’t really given an official battery life estimate, just a casual mention of ‘a days worth’.