13 Oct 2011

Tech·Ed Africa 2011 for Windows Phone 7 - 1.1 released

Update: This application has been retired - it was for TechEd 2011 and used the website a lot, the moment the site changes the app will break. It's goal & use are done, so I am happy to retire it.

iconI’m very happy to announce the 1.1 version of the Tech·Ed Africa app for Windows Phone 7 is now out with a TON of new features:

First up is dedicated in app pages for speakers. This means no more browsing to the website for speaker info. There is also options to view their Twitter, website etc… and since we not on Mango it supports saving the contact details to the device.

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Second  is similar, dedicated pages for the sessions too!

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Third improvement is on the sessions list page – a lot of cleanup and bug fixing there plus lots of options for the grouping (level, audience etc..). This should help finding session info very easily.

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The MVP page got a BIG facelift too, with buttons for contact details for each MVP, and a cleaner more bold experience. Of the whole application I am most happy with the UI on this page. I also added a community tweets page that has tweets searched by hash tags!

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The welcome page got a cleanup with more focus on the news tweets and the removal of the refresh option, since it refreshes in a lot of ways manual isn’t really needed. It also allows you to launch the BIG new feature…

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Session planner! You can now browse and book sessions on your phone! And your phone will give you reminders to attend the sessions!

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There is also a lot of UI tweaks – first the background was swopped to the latest UI from Tech·Ed and made a lot darker, so the contrast to the white stands out more the readability is WAY better. I also spent a lot of time with Rudi Grobler getting some of the smaller UI things right, so a big thanks to him! It even has a new and MUCH nicer icon Smile So what are you waiting for, go update NOW!

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07 Oct 2011

SharePoint Saturday: Lab Rooms

imagelogo_wp75-h_webNext weekend (15th Oct) Cape Town is hosting the SharePoint Saturday conference and myself and fellow BBDer Rudi Grobler will be there and will be and we are running a very special event in conjunction with the main event: Lab Rooms!

There will be two special rooms available and in one Rudi will presenting and training on Windows Phone 7 and in the other I will be presenting and training on the Windows Azure Platform!

The cost for this? FREE! It is being sponsored by BBD & the SharePoint Saturday event Smile

Space in both rooms is VERY VERY limited, so you need to register NOW!

Windows Phone Registration: http://wp7camp.eventbrite.com/

Windows Azure Registration: http://windowsazurecpt.eventbrite.com/

15 Sep 2011

Windows 8: How to get it working

(Update 1) Note: This relates to the Windows 8 Developer Preview, your mileage may vary and this may change.

This post is here to help you, and me, by sharing solutions that I am finding while trying to get Windows 8 running for a professional developer. I am using a HP 8510w laptop so some things maybe specific. This will be updated randomly and will be more like a live blog than a polished post.

(Update 1) As I update this I will prefix new content with (Update #) where # is the update number. The latest ones will be in bold.

Problems & Solutions

Graphics

I have a NVidia Quatro graphics card and to get it working correctly with Win8 (rather than the basic graphic driver) I needed to use the BETA driver from: Beta and Older Driver Versions – I used the Verde 285.27 Driver and that worked just fine, everything else was broken in one way or another.

(Update 5) This just worked with the Windows 8 Community Preview

.NET 3.5

imageA bunch of apps use .NET 3.5 or earlier so I needed that. To install it you must install it via the Turn Windows Features On/Off  option in the control panel (it’s under Programs). I had a BUNCH of issues (error 0x800F0906) getting it to work as it needs to download it which I think are proxy related. Once I downloaded via 3g it finally came down (took an hour Sad smile).

(UPDATE 2) Tried this via a transparent proxy and it worked too. Seems it is related to proxy servers that require basic authentication.

(UPDATE 4) Finally found a solution Smile Thanks to Zayd Kara for helping me with this:

Copy the SXS folder from the Windows 8 ISO to the C:\Temp folder.

Then run: dism.exe /online /enable-feature /featurename:NetFX3 /All /Source:c:\temp\sxs /LimitAccess

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Metro Style Apps Don’t Run

Details: http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/windowsdeveloperpreviewgeneral/thread/cd6df64d-737d-40e0-b999-03e654204448

(Update 1) Found the error message in the Event Log (Application and Services Logs –> Microsoft –> Windows –> WwaHost –> Admin)

Windows Web Application Host has encountered an unexpected exception. The error is number 0x8007000E.

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(UPDATE 2) One of the best new features in Windows 8 is the ability to reset your machine without affecting your files. I did this and this solved all my issues image

(UPDATE 4) The cause of this is the DLink modem software for my 3G modem. It is screwing up com. No idea why, and no way around it. That’ll teach me to use a 3g modem that doesn’t work with the natively Windows 7/8 mobile internet support.

Windows Phone Developer Tools

The 7.0 RTM release will NOT install at all. The 7.1 RC will install so you may need to get that one.

YOU MUST install .NET 3.5 first (see above). Once installed I didn’t have any emulator options and trying to run it would cause: HRESULT: 0x89721800

I resolved this by deleting “%LOCALAPPDATA%\Microsoft\Phone Tools\CoreCon\10.0” (source for that App Hub Forums)

The emulator option appeared but now when I try to run it, it crashes Windows 8 with a BSOD related to vmm.sys – no solution yet.

(UPDATE 2) I have tried everything and nothing seems to help. Resorted to using a Windows 7 boot from VHD to be able to run these tools Sad smile

(Update 5) Solved: http://sadev.co.za/content/installing-windows-phone-developer-tools-windows-8

Microsoft Security Essentials

It would not install because of a compatibility issue Sad smile Downloaded it again from the website, which doesn’t tell you version numbers and the file size looked the same, but this newer one did work fine.

(UPDATE 2) Paul Adare pointed out on the forums that this is included now out of the box, so not needed Smile 

Switch to Live ID

Not working, error 0xD00000072 – suspecting proxy again.

Install of Visual Studio 2010 Offline Documentation

Completely failed, no idea why.

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D-Link 3G Modem

It could not find the drivers, so I had to go to device manager, select the unknown devices –> Right click –>  Update Driver –> Browse my computer –> C:\Program Files (x86)\D-Link Connection Manager\drivers\64bit\WIN7

Then it found and installed the drivers for the 3G modem

(Update 1) Visual Studio 11 Express for Windows Developer Preview

Cannot build or run Metro Style apps.

Designer is failing with Server execution failed (Exception from HRESULT: 0x80080005 (CO_E_SERVER_EXEC_FAILURE))

And running them fails with Unable to activate Windows Tailored application

I suspect this is related to the Metro app issue above.

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(Update 1) Internet Explorer 10

Two interesting issues, one browsing our intranet which runs on HTTPS any content from HTTP fails to load and there is NO option to allow it.

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Second issue is in the IE desktop mode there is no tooltips Confused smile 

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However the solution is to run the Metro Style Internet Explorer, and it shows tooltips… and they are LOVELY:

ie-metro

(Update 3) SharePoint

I am referring to connecting to SharePoint server using IE 10, in short – it is horrid for anything other than basic browsing. I have installed Chrome to get around this.

(Update 3) Windows Server AppFabric

imageI needed Windows Server AppFabric installed so I could do development, however AppFabric does not install on Windows 8 Sad smile

To work around this I waited for the error to appear, then browsed to the extracted files (the moment you click ok on the error it cleans itself up) and used the expand command to extract the msu file which you can find in the packages folder.

That gets me a cab file which I extract again and that produces another 1 996 files. In there I used the file search to find the assemblies I needed to get the code to build, won’t run but at least I can code Smile

(Update 4) HP LaserJet 4250 Printer

I have this printer on the network but it was horrid trying to get Windows to see and work with it. The trick was to download the actual PCL6 drivers from the HP website. This has all the options to set it up and it works fine now Smile

(Update 5) This just worked with the Windows 8 Community Preview

Things that just worked

For balance here are application that have been installed with no issue.

  • Visual Studio 2010 + SP1
  • Firefox 6
  • Chrome (what ever the latest is)
  • Windows Live Writer
  • TweetDeck
  • Office 2010 + SP 1
  • (Update 1) VLC
  • (Update 3) Pull

There is also some more info in the comments!

05 Sep 2011

.NET 4, do you know the new features? - Introduction

imageAs part of my work ahead of Microsoft Tech·Ed Africa 2011 I did a online, anonymous poll to see how well known are the new features in .NET 4, and over the next few days I thought I would share my findings.

The poll asked you to state for feature X: Do you know it? And if you do know it, is it a useful feature?

I listed 61 features that are new in .NET 4 – which pretty much covered the length and breadth of it. There is some consolidation, like ALL of Workflow is one item but WF4 is a rewrite so pretty much is one BIG new feature and some other aspects of consolidation.

I suspected a fairly high rate of known features because .NET 4 was released 16 months ago (12 April 2010) and it has been demo’d and talked about a lot - even I have done a talks on the new features. However the ratio of unknown to known is 1.2 : 1 – so while there is a close parity, there are more are unknown than known, which surprised me a bit.

I have broken up talking about the results into a series, because I want to talk about each feature briefly so a single post would have been MASSIVE.

Below are links to the other parts of the series:

Finally I want to say a BIG thanks to everyone who answered and those who shared links on social networks and with friends!

The raw data can be found below.

AttachmentSize
NET 4 Feature Data.xlsx12.99 KB
02 Sep 2011

Lightswitch is on SALE!

Nurt img1Very different from my normal ramblings but I thought worth a quick post, Microsoft has Lightswitch on sale at the moment for 33% off the price! This is a world wide offer so you can get it via your distributors, LARS or from the Microsoft Online Store.

So if you are looking to get started in Lightswitch, NOW IS THE TIME!

26 Aug 2011

App.Config Transformations: The community shines where Microsoft drops the ball

Last year May, I spoke at DevDays Durban about what is new in ASP.NET 4? One of the highlights of that talk is a feature called Web.Config transforms. In short you have a base web.config and then a file per compiler target (i.e. RELEASE, DEBUG). These extra files contain rules on how to transform your web.config when it is published.

In a way of an example you have might your web.config to use your local SQL Server when in Visual Studio, but when you publish a DEBUG build to testing it changes the config to use the test SQL Server. Or when you publish to production it turns off a bunch of logging and shows friendly error messages.

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There is TWO caveats in this process:

  1. ONLY works for ASP.NET* projects as this is something the ASP.NET team built into their publishing tool support.
  2. ONLY works for publish, if you have an ASP.NET* project and hit F5, nothing happens Sad smile

*ASP.NET = ASP.NET Core, and thus systems that build on top of it (WebForms, MVC & WebPages) all get it.

This is something we need in EVERY project type and we need with F5. Thankfully some bright people did just that for us, with the VS add-in Slow Cheetah.

So now you get the full experience on any project type, PLUS you get a brilliant feature missing in the ASP.NET one – PREVIEW. You can see what the resulting config will look like!

25 Aug 2011

Important Windows Phone News

Coming Soon, an awesome WP7 event!

Update: Details of the event are up at now & Registration is open - GO!

Microsoft is planning in the next few weeks a series of WP7 training events kicking off with a one day event! This event will have a presentation track where you will see a number of topics (see proposed list below) and a lab track where you can build your apps with expert guidance! This is the perfect chance to take that idea to reality and it is possible (I challenged myself to build two apps in 6 hours a few weeks back, and succeeded!).

Keep an eye on my blog or Microsoft South Africa DPE team blog!

PROPOSED Topics:

  •  Introduction to Windows Phone
  •  Building a Silverlight Application
  •  Silverlight Controls for the Phone
  •  Advanced Silverlight topics
  •  Windows Phone Hardware
  •  Services
  •  Performance
  •  Getting your app onto the Marketplace
  •  Building Windows Phone XNA Applications
  •  Advanced XNA Topics

Following that event will be a series evening classes where there will be a presentation, a real WP7 dev talking about their app and a Q&A session! So lots of good things coming!

Welcome to Mzanzi!

(for non-South Africans Mzanzi is a townshup slang word for ‘South’ or ‘South Africa’)

With the upcoming Mango release, South Africa will be supported with the Marketplace (finally!). Microsoft have summarised this very nicely below. Before you get to that, take a look at a recent post from Rudi Grobler, where he talks about South African relevant apps that exist today!

Johannesburg, South Africa – 24 August 2011 – Microsoft has announced a series of brand-new enhancements to its App Hub developer portal as part of the highly anticipated ‘Mango’ release. Windows Phone 7 developers can now publish their apps to consumers in 19 new countries, including South Africa. In addition to the 16 countries where Marketplace is already supported, developers can now broaden their opportunity for global distribution and competitive app prices.

Clifford de Wit, developer platform lead at Microsoft South Africa, is calling on all Windows Phone developers to submit Mango apps in August, ahead of the Mango release to market. The new App Hub developer portal allows developers to manage their account, change settings, submit applications and stay up-to-date on Windows Phone.

“The updated App Hub features enhancements such as greater geographic markets for developers, consumers and advertising coverage; new private distribution options; and enhanced application and account management capabilities. We’re making great strides in expanding overall demand for Windows Phone applications.”

Microsoft is offering developers two new private distribution options: beta and targeted distribution. Apps distributed through these private distribution methods can only be downloaded by users using a deep-link and the apps cannot be discovered via browsing or searching in Windows Phone Marketplace. Beta distribution enables developers to distribute pre-certified apps to a group of up to 100 access-controlled beta testers for up to 90 days. The targeted distribution enables developers to distribute applications through Marketplace in a hidden state, where they are not discoverable via browsing or searching Marketplace.

De Wit says he has no doubt that local developers are in a position to create compelling mobile content for the Windows Phone platform. “We want to attract a new wave of Windows Phone developers ahead of the ‘Mango’ release.”

Other enhancements to the Mango App Hub include better application management, an enhanced developer dashboard, more detailed reporting, a new “Crash Count” report, a streamlined application submission process and new application categories – education, kids & family, and government and politics.

For more information, visit the official Windows Phone Blog and the App Hub.

24 Aug 2011

Tech·Ed Pro Tip: Travel Advice

imageLast year I wrote two posts (finding the best talks at Tech·Ed & why is the Tech·Ed calendar is awesome) which really aimed to help improve your Tech·Ed Africa experience. They are both still relevant this year but I thought of one new tip to share and that is related to travel.

Short version: Book your inbound flight EARLY, your outbound flight LATE and stay at the HILTON.

Why inbound early?

Day 1 is a busy day for you – after you land you need to find the shuttle from the airport to the conference venue. I got separated from the group and lost in the airport last year Confused smile. Once you are at the conference venue you need to register and get your swag (do this before you go to the hotel) then you need to find the bus to get to your hotel, if you follow the tip below about the Hilton this is easy else you may have a small wait. Once at your hotel, check-in, sort out stuff, see what the swag is etc… and then finally find the bus (wait) and get back to the conference venue for the keynote & opening party. In short – it is a VERY BUSY DAY, so having an extra hour or two helps.

For speakers there is also the advantage of taking that extra hour or two you can get to do a quick tech check the day before and help calm those nerves.

Why outbound late?

The last day ends with the closing keynote and those can run long – I have seen people RUN for the busses and have to drag luggage around with them in the closing because of time constraints. Plus when you get to the first few busses you have the fight for bus space! It really just messes with the last day, rather take a later flight which means you do not need to fight for bus seats or rush around.

Why the Hilton?

Hotel Exterior

The Hilton in Durban is the best place to stay, as it is RIGHT next door to the ICC where Tech·Ed is held. In fact the picture to the left, the bottom left hand corner is the ICC. You don’t even have to cross a road!

So it means getting up later, staying out later (Hilton bar is famous for after parties), it means being where all the Microsoft staff, media & presenters are (great for those informal discussions in the elevator) and generally a top end experience.

Big issue, it sells out FAST so you should be booking NOW!

Follow these travel tips and you will be on your way for a great Tech·Ed!

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