Showing posts with label Windows8. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Windows8. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

MonoGame gets its Samples Game On (One sample, nine platforms)

Dark Genesis - A new breed of samples for MonoGame

MonoGame has always been the quality of the samples currently maintained in the various branches of the project.

Being an opensource project this has always been a challenge to manage and maintain, sure there are a lot of samples provided by many hard working developers but they were very sporadic and not always kept up to date (some it was noted, don’t even run any more)

Seeing this, the core MonoGame team set out with a purpose to being a new samples repository for the project. Its goals were simple:

  • The samples had to be of high quality
  • They had to work on ALL platforms not just one
  • Best practice had to be used where possible
  • They had to be testable and re-usable to test the latest builds (builds may not pass if samples tests failed)

It has been an ambitious journey, with a lot of in depth discussions and debates, but now the first of the samples has just been accepted in to the new Samples Repo.


The first sample is just a taste of what is to come and is born of the already tried and tested Platformer 2D sample from the age old XNA library.

The sample itself isn’t too much to should about as it only implements basic rendering, input and audio capabilities. However it is laid out in such a format and is working on ALL supported platforms, including:

  • Android
  • Linux
  • MacOS
  • Ouya
  • PSM
  • Windows Phone
  • Windows 8
  • WindowsGL

The sample serves as a guide for how to build and manage your game project in a fully multi-platform way with all the code in one place and shared across all projects




Now that's cross-platform!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A long, long time ago... Windows 8 Telnet Tip

The Windows Club - Watch Star Wars in Windows 8 using an old trick

You can unlock an old hidden trick on your Windows 8 computer. Fans of tricks on Windows operating systems will doubtlessly be aware of being able to watch Star Wars movie in ASCII using the Telnet service. Despite the trick being well known in earlier versions of Windows, if you’ve been trying to find it in Windows Vista and later versions, you may have ended up a little lost. The reason is that by default Telnet is turned off.

The Telnet Client is used to connect to a remote machine by using the Telnet protocol. It allows a computer to connect to a remote Telnet server and run applications on that server.




This is the same one that's been available for like a billion years? Anyway... ah, the memories...

BTW, while your there, also check out,

A lot of interesting command line programs get overlooked, I find it a nice idea to place these things online, accessible through telnet.

Starwars Asciimation : Port 23

The though work was done by simon jansen, he made it into a java applet. This is the same thing, but now via telnet.

Marvin, the paranoid Android : Shut Down

This an Eliza like bot, that tries to emulate marvin the paranoid android from the hitchhikers guide. The bot is Splotch, the eliza like bot, coded by Duane K. Fields and Mark Rages. The dictionary is a mixture of the one from elizatalk and the one from bitchbot, an irc bot, by pim van riezen.

The Bofh Excuse Server : Port 666

This service spits out an excuse based on the bastard operator from hell stories, I find it quite useful while dealing with my daily work. This brilliant list/script is created by Jeff Ballard


Related Past Post XRef:
You've heard of ASCII Art? How about DNS Art!?
These are the papercraft you've been looking for... "Star Wars Papercraft..."
This is the infographic you're looking for... A Star Wars Infographic/Flowchart for every episode and more
[Hardware Music Hack] Star Wars Imperial March theme played by dual floppy drives
Star Wars Day – The Revenge of the Crafts!
Now this is the kind of vinyl I can appreciate... Self-adhesive vinyl Star Wars Return of the Jedi decals for living room/office that has everything...
“This is some rescue…” bookends for the Star Wars fan who has everything…
I'm not too old to have a Piñata at my next birthday.. am I? I wanna Death Star Piñata!
I think I want this for Valentine's Day...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

iXplain helps you explain, recording your voice, screen and pen (think "Killer Surface Pro app for anyone teaching or explaining about anything")

Australian Teachers Blog - Creating Tutorials using the Record Voice and Pen App

This post follows on with our focus on sharing tools which can help you make engaging tutorials for your classroom.

If you’re currently using a Windows 8 device and need to create a tutorial that records your voice, writing or annotations, it’s time to master the Record Voice and Pen App.

Since first exploring Record Voice and Pen, I have put it in my must-have apps for Windows 8 in Education. It is such a simple and effective app that suits a variety of skill levels. I also like that you are given the ability to save your video onto your device, then share it through whichever platform you currently use in your classroom. It is a great tool for the Flipped Classroom.

Some handy uses for tutorials made with this app include:

  • Flipped Classroom style tutorials
  • Mathematic tutorials showing working out
  • Explanations of diagrams in Science or Geography
  • Discussions of Sport positions and movement
  • Script writing for Foreign Languages studies
  • Students creating their own tutorials for each other
  • Students creating presentations which describe images, diagrams or concepts


Step 1

Install the Record Voice and Pen app onto your Windows 8 device. You can access Record Voice and Pen via the Windows Store.

Step 2

Watch video...

Step 3

Plan the tutorial that you would like to create. Here are some questions to help you plan your tutorial


Step 4

Use record Voice and Pen to create your tutorial. Save and upload to your video to YouTube, Vimeo, or your own online space for students to access it.

Optional Activity

Share with your peers for feedback to help you improve your tutorial style.

Record Voice and Pen is a great way to make classroom tutorials more engaging and memorable whilst also having a resource for future use. So why not have a go and share your experiences in the comments section below.




Explaining something in a presentation or a classroom is easy when you can use your voice, use images, and can annotate on them, all at one go. In iXplain you can record all this at once. It creates a video file which can be shared through email, Facebook or YouTube, or used in a presentation or a classroom.


  • Recording of your voice and pen drawings at the same time

  • Import images

  • Export recordings to video files (mp4)

Supported processors

x86, x64, ARM


This and the Surface Pro and you've got a cool, fairly inexpensive, teaching tool... (and the app's price of Free doesn't hurt).

Monday, February 17, 2014


The man, the myth, the legend in his own mind... err, I mean... um... time... yeah... Dan Rigby has spun off his daily curated dev news into its own site,

Dan says;

Also, you may have noticed that the Windows App Developer Links posts are not immediately visible. Fear not, for they have finally been given the respect they truly deserve and now have their very own site at!

What this does mean though, is if you are subscribed to my blog feed (and you are subscribed, right?), if you want to continue to receive my (almost) daily Windows App Developer Links, you'll need to subscribe to the new feed.

I also find it kind of funny that his site is running in my neighborhood (so to speak);

This blog (and are now running on a new VPS in Los Angeles. While I love my old host, the performance of running WordPress in a shared hosting environment wasn't great and wasn't getting better over time.

So if you're following him, you'll want to grab the new feed, asap... I'll wait. Done yet? What about now? Oh just go do it...


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

WAT? I said, Web App Template! (Which helps you Windows Store App your Web Site...)

JohnShew's Blog - Website to App — The Web App Template Simplifies Windows App Development


At BUILD last year, Guggs and I showed how Giorgio Sardo and his team here in DPE have been coding together with great companies — like Khan Academy — to move entire websites into Windows Store apps — more or less effortlessly.

As I showed in the demo, the trick to making this so easy is the new Web control we released in Windows 8.1. The Web control provides an execution environment for Web content that exposes the most essential features of the browser so your Web content largely just works inside the control.

We’ve been very excited about this approach and have been doing a lot of joint projects with developers using this approach. Coming out of this we found an even easier way to port website content.

Rather than requiring developers to recreate the wheel for features such as in-app navigation, charm integration and live tiles, all that functionality is now built into the template and controlled through simple settings in a config file. And with HTML5 as the app platform, there is one seamless development approach across your Web app and your Windows apps, which makes for an easy transition for all Web developers. It really is cool.

Giorgio, Jeff Burtoft, and a handful of other engineers on my team, have packaged these ideas into a nice Web App Template, a tool that makes this approach easy to do for both Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8 apps.

We’ve invested in this project because we think there are a lot of great Web apps out there that will also make great Windows apps. 


CodePlex - Web App Template


Web App Template is a tool that uses your Web App as the core for a full featured Store App for Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8. The Web App Template (WAT) is implemented as a Visual Studio template that you install through our one click installer. You can then start a new project type of “Web App Template”. Plug your Web App values into the config file, and hit F5 to see it run.

At runtime, the WAT project will then take your Web App and config data (meta data), and build the Windows Store App:

WAT provides the key features most Web Apps will need to perform as a store app such as back buttons, navigation, Offline support, charm integration and much more.
The Web App Template allows you to use your web development skills and you’re touch friendly, responsive Web Apps to create high quality Windows Apps. Download the installer and get started today.

Source Code

git clone


In order to install the Web App Template you need to have Visual Studio 2013(Windows Store Express, Pro or Ultimate) or later and a machine or VM running windows 8.1. The Windows Phone 8 template requires that you have the Windows Phone SDK or Visual Studio Express for Windows Phone.

Then, download the installer for the appropriate project type and double click to install. Then choose “new project” from the file menu and select “web app template” from the file types. Note for the Windows Phone tool, an installer is not yet available, so you can instead us the development project as a base project.

Quick Start:

  1. Install the template. Note There is not yet an installer available for Windows Phone 8, so use the development project as a base project.
  2. In visual Studio, start a new Project and select the project type “Web App Template” under the JavaScript Section.
  3. Open the “config.json” file in the config folder, and enter data about your Web App
  4. Hit F5 and see you app in Action
  5. Update your app images and app details in the app manifest
  6. Submit to the store and reach new users


Web Application Template [Docs]



What can you do with WAT?

WAT is a very powerful tool and you can achieve many things. Some highlights are:

Live Tiles & Push Notifications

You can configure any RSS feed to update live tiles for your app or easily setup your website to push notifications and update live tiles even when the app isn't running.


You can integrate the share charm so your users can share content just like they would on any other Windows app


You can search WAT-based apps the same way you would in any Windows app - via the search charm. Try it now

Navigation Bars

You can add navigation bars which help users navigation around your app, just like in any Windows app

CSS Overrides

You can embed CSS styles which get inserted over the existing styles on your website. This is great for adjusting the style of the site when it is presented as an app

Hide HTML elements

You can hide name HTML element from your site. Great for removing the top navigation, footers etc which you do not need when the site is presented as an app


You can configure which urls remain inside the app and which ones open in the browser

HTML app

The config file is just a starting point. The app is a regular HTML Windows app which you can develop further to meet your requirements.


Very interesting project and one I'll be keep a close I on...

Thursday, January 16, 2014

AppFeds, your Windows Store web portal, with searching, stats and more

WinBeta - AppFeds goes live, a new online tool for Windows Store app developers

Attention all Windows Store enthusiasts and app developers, our friends over at have gone live with their new online tool as of today. AppFeds is a new online tool aimed at providing statistics, app data, and app discovery.

With AppFeds, you can track the Windows Store and see which apps are trending, as well as see the stats of your published app. You can even review and rate apps directly via the AppFeds website.

"AppFeds is the best way to discover new Windows apps, learn about price drops, view detailed app statistics/ranking history, monitor the store for specific keywords, provide a direct line of communication between app developers and their users, and more!  In addition, we offer enhanced analytics services for app developers such as an API and soon to be complete Analytical Suite.  We also offer promotional tools to help developers expand their user base such as Localization services and the ability to promote on AppFeds," AppFeds stated in an email to WinBeta.

The primary goal of AppFeds is to provide Windows Store app developers with market trends, app performance tracking, and the ability to analyze the competition. Currently, the service provides tracking for the US market, with more to come soon - especially with the data analysis portion of the site.


AppFeds - About

Want to know more about AppFeds?

AppFeds is a project developed by a software engineering startup based in the US. The service went live in December 2013.

AppFeds is the best way to discover new Windows apps, learn about price drops, view detailed app statistics/ranking history, monitor the store for specific keywords, provide a direct line of communication between app developers and their users, and more! In addition, we offer enhanced analytics services for app developers such as an API and soon to be complete Analytical Suite. We also offer promotional tools to help developers expand their user base such as Localization services and the ability to promote on AppFeds.

We aim to become the primary source for Windows developers to identify trends in the market, track the performance of their apps, and analyze competitors’ apps.

AppFeds currently provides analytics for over 110,000 Windows Store apps and ~770,000 reviews, with more being added and tracked every day.


I think the coolest part is the Stats


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Siena says, "Make Merry with Metro App Building with this Metro App"

Microsoft's 'Project Siena': A Metro-Style app for creating Windows 8 apps

Codenamed "Project Siena,' the "Metro app that creates apps" (as the folks at dubbed it) is available in the Windows Store as a free download.

According to the description, Siena's main target audience is "business experts, business analysts, consultants and other app imagineers."

Examples of the kinds of Metro-Style/Windows Store/modern apps that can be built using Siena include apps for navigating "media-rich product catalogs," apps for resolving customer-service issues, and apps that make use of photos, videos, pen and voice notes, tied back in to an "asset database."

"Siena works well with corporate and web data and media content: SharePoint lists, Excel and Azure tables, RSS feeds and the gamut of RESTful services," Microsoft's app-description notes.


Microsoft Project Siena (Beta)


Learn More

With Project Siena, you can create powerful, highly interactive, device-first, and cloud-connected apps in minutes or hours—as easily as editing a document.

Help Topics

New to Project Siena? No problem. Learn how to connect to your data, work with visuals, and author expressions.

Sample Apps

View and download sample apps, learn best practices, and see how other app builders are using Project Siena to build visually stunning interactive apps today.


Get the latest from the Project Siena team, including inside tips and tricks, sample patterns, and videos.

Microsoft "Project Siena" (Windows Store)


Microsoft Project Siena (code name) is the beta release of a new technology for business experts, business analysts, consultants and other app imagineers. Now, without any programming, you can create powerful apps for the device-first and cloud-connected world, with the potential to transform today’s business processes.

Apps to explore media-rich product catalogs and create ensembles that together serve a customer’s needs

  • Apps used on the spot to resolve customer service bottlenecks and logistics exceptions, with the custom intelligence to help the user make local trade-offs
  • Apps for auditing and inspecting a manufacturing facility through photos, videos and pen and voice notes, all tied to an asset database

Siena apps are as easy as editing a document. You place some visuals on a canvas. You hook them up to your data. You customize how your app looks and works. Then, if you need special logic and intelligence, you write some Excel-like expressions. You can use your app immediately, or share it with colleagues or the world.

With Siena, you can conceptualize, validate and build your app ideas almost as fast as you can come up with them. And if your needs change tomorrow, updating your app is no problem. Open it. Change it. Share it again, and you’re off to do business.

Siena works well with corporate and web data and media content: SharePoint lists, Excel and Azure tables, RSS feeds and the gamut of RESTful services.

Siena apps are just HTML5 and JavaScript and are deployed and managed like any other Windows 8.x app. In fact, developers can open them up, see what’s there and, if needed, extend them in their favorite programming tools.

Install Siena, watch one of the how-to videos at, and then build the app that you’ve been imagining... in under an hour.


  • Conceptualize, validate and build your app ideas as easily as editing a document
  • Connect to corporate and web data
  • Compose rich interactive visuals to create custom, unique apps
  • Add business logic and intelligence using the power of Excel-like expressions
  • Use the app yourself, share with colleagues or with the world


Looks like something fun to play with over the holiday's... I wonder if I can convince my wife to build an app? Now THAT would be a true test... (err... um... not of my patience... no... never that... ;)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Does using the Windows 8.x touch/onscreen keyboard in your WPF desktop sound cool to you?

Brian Lagunas - Showing the Windows 8 Touch keyboard in WPF

With the release of Windows 8, the era of touch devices is in full swing.  Manufacturers are scrambling to create mobile devices that can run Microsoft Windows with the touch of a finger, without the need for a keyboard and mouse.  Even Microsoft has released their very own Surface brand to satisfy this need to run Windows in a mobile world.  This is all fine and dandy if you are building Windows Store applications that run on any version of Windows 8, and are built with touch as a first class citizen.  Windows Store apps integrate perfectly with the device, such as automatically showing the Windows 8 touch keyboard when giving focus to an input element in the application.  Windows Store apps are smart enough to know when I am not using a mouse and keyboard, and I give focus to a TextBox by touching it, it will show the touch keyboard to allow me to input data.  On the other hand, if I am using a mouse and keyboard, and I give focus to the TextBox by clicking it with the mouse, the touch keyboard does not show, but rather I use the keyboard to enter my data.  This is a nice feature built into the platform.




This is a pretty cool way to leverage what you've got. If you're already running on Windows 8.x, you might as well use as much of it as you can, right? Brian's post does just that...

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Surface RT/Pro/Pro 2 User Guide PDF's available

Kurt Shintaku's Blog - DOWNLOAD: Surface RT/Pro/Pro 2 User Guides

If you’re new to Surface, download your Surface User Guide. These printable manuals have info and tips to help you get the most from your Surface.

Taken from: [GD: Post Leached in Full]


Will come in handy for those who get a Surface under the Christmas Tree...

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

We don't need to buy no stink'n holiday ornaments when we can 3D Print them at 3x's the cost (but 10x's the fun!)

Surface Blog - 3D Printing Holiday Ornaments with Surface

It seems like the availability of 3D printers is starting to take off and more and more home tinkerers are discovering the ability to create 3D models at home. After attending Maker Faire this summer in New York and returning from Autodesk’s CAVe conference in Las Vegas, I believe this is one of the most exciting things happening in the creative space right now. We have been having some fun with 3D printing in the office in the past week and I thought we should share the love.


A couple of weeks ago one of our teams at Microsoft launched the 3D Builder app in the Windows Store.  It is a one stop shop for building 3D models, riffing on any number of templates provided in the app, and printing complete models.  I don’t think there is any easier setup to get started building.  If you already have a printer or are thinking of purchasing one this holiday season head on over to the store and download the free builder app.




If you have the 3D Builder app on your Surface you will see that there is a Seasonal template section with some great holiday models.  But we want to do even better and so our team set out to create some holiday ornaments that you can import into the 3D Builder app, modify in your preferred modeling application, and print at home. Head on over here to download the ornament templates to get started today!


Santa, can I have... Oh yeah, already asked for one. :)



Monday, December 09, 2013

Kudos to Kodu's Windows Store Release

Windows - Kodu



Kodu lets you create games through a simple visual programming language. Kodu can be used to teach creativity, problem solving, storytelling, as well as programming. Anyone can use Kodu to make a game with no design or programming skills.


  • Kodu is a rich tool for narrative creation and storytelling
  • Kodu demonstrates that programming is a creative medium
  • Kodu helps children with critical thinking, breaking a complex goal into manageable steps, and iterate on the design process
  • Kodu introduces the logic and problem solving of programming
  • Kodu introduces conditions and sequences, which teaches cause and effect
  • Kodu can be taught by any teacher, no previous programming expertise required
  • Students learn about cooperation, logic and creativity in addition to programming



English (United States) and 1 other languages


Show all languages

Supported processors

x86, x64, ARM

Kodu Game Lab


More Kodu, just in time for the holidays and on all our favorite Windows tablets and touch devices... :)

(Microsoft News - Microsoft Releases Kodu Game Development Tool For Free In Windows Store)


Related Past Post XRef:
Kodu Game Lab v1.4.1.0
Are you an Educator/Teacher? Microsoft has free software just for you!
Kodu, the Microsoft Research visual game programming language targeted at beginning programmers, now available for PC’s (Tech Preview)

What a Date (for when a Windows version is no longer supported...)?

Mike's Window - Some dates for your calendar..


Support for Windows 7 RTM without service packs ended on April 9, 2013. Be sure to install Windows 7 Service Pack 1 today to continue to receive support and updates

Windows lifecycle fact sheet

Last updated: October 2013

In this page

Every Windows product has a lifecycle. The lifecycle begins when a product is released and ends when it's no longer supported or sold. Knowing key dates in this lifecycle helps you make informed decisions about when to upgrade or make other changes to your software. Here are the rights and limits of the Windows lifecycle.

End of support

End of support refers to the date when Microsoft no longer provides automatic fixes, updates, or online technical assistance. This is the time to make sure you have the latest available update or service pack installed. Without Microsoft support, you will no longer receive security updates that can help protect your PC from harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software that can steal your personal information. For more information go to Microsoft Support Lifecycle.



End of sales refers to the date when a particular version of Windows is no longer shipped to retailers or Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). Examples of OEMS are Dell and Toshiba—PC manufacturers who often preinstall Windows software. When a version of Windows reaches its end of sales date, it's a good time to think about upgrading.

This table gives end of sales dates for specific Windows operating systems.



Service packs and updates


Some important, to IT and like geeks, dates.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Being smart when opening SkyDrive Smart Files in Desktop app's/ .Net

.NET Framework Blog - Opening Files from SkyDrive using .NET

Summary First;


SkyDrive for Windows 8.1 introduced a new technology, called smart files. These files can be consumed just like regular files by using Windows Runtime APIs. However, applications that uses System.IO APIs will have problems when opening a smart file unless its content is fully downloaded on the device. With this blog post, we provided you a sample code that invokes Windows.Storage APIs by reflection. This sample code will enable you to write desktop apps that operates on smart files available on Windows 8.1 and also supports running on non-Windows Runtime platforms.

Back to the top;

Since Windows 8 I fell in love with SkyDrive and use it all the time now. Windows 8.1 has improved this a lot by introducing a new concept that requires some changes to the way you interact with files. In, this post Gaye Oncul Kok, Program Manager on the .NET Framework team, explains the key things .NET developers need to know when they read and write files stored on SkyDrive.

SkyDrive for Windows 8.1 introduced a new technology, called smart files, which gives access to the files in the cloud by providing their content on demand. The technology was designed to minimize the disk space utilization on your Windows 8.1 device. You can think of the smart files as the avatars of your cloud files on a device. They have the same appearance as regular files, allowing you to browse, search and do common file operations like viewing the properties or a thumbnail of the file without downloading the full content locally. When you want to open the file, or explicitly want to make it available offline, only then are the file’s contents streamed to your device.



SkyDrive's placholder files are smaller

From a .NET developers’ perspective, if you are developing a Windows Store App or a desktop app targeting platforms that has Windows Runtime support, your app can consume smart files just like regular files by using Windows.Storage APIs. However, applications that depend on .NET Framework System.IO APIs, such as File.Open() or FileInfo.Open(), will have problems, when operating on a smart file unless its content is fully downloaded on the device. This is due to the fact that the smart files are supported in the Windows Shell layer and above, whereas System.IO APIs resides on the Win32 layer.

If you want your desktop app to run on non-Windows Runtime platforms, such as Windows 7, and also work with SkyDrive smart files available with Windows 8.1 you can either use the related Shell APIs through COM-interop and platform invocations or provide two different implementations and distribute two versions of your app; one for Windows Runtime and the other for non-Windows Runtime platforms. There is a third option, which is provided in sample code. This code uses reflection to utilize Windows.Storage APIs, such as StorageFile.GetFileFromPathAsync and StorageFile.OpenAsync(), if the Windows Runtime types are available on the platform or falls back to System.IO APIs otherwise.


Sample Code to Open Smart Files in .NET Desktop Apps


SkyDrive for Windows 8.1 introduced a new technology, called smart files, which gives access to the files in the cloud by providing their content on demand.  If you are developing a Windows Store App or a desktop app targeting platforms that has Windows Runtime support, your app can consume smart files just like regular files by using Windows.Storage APIs. However, applications that depend on .NET Framework System.IO APIs, such as File.Open() or FileInfo.Open(), will have problems, when operating on a smart file unless its content is fully downloaded on the device. This is due to the fact that the smart files are supported in the Windows Shell layer and above, whereas System.IO APIs resides on the Win32 layer.

If you want your desktop app to run on non-Windows Runtime platforms, such as Windows 7, and also work with SkyDrive smart files available with Windows 8.1 you can use this sample code to call  using reflection Windows.Storage APIs, such as StorageFile.GetFileFromPathAsync and StorageFile.OpenAsync(), if the Windows Runtime types are available on the platform or falls back to System.IO APIs otherwise.

Building the Sample

The sample contains one solution file: WindowsRuntimeLightup.sln. This solution file includes a single class library project: WindowsRuntimeLightup.csproj that targets .NET 4.5. This project can be built in VS 2012 or VS 2013. Since the calls to Windows Runtime APIs are through reflection,  no special project setting are required for using Windows Runtime APIs. After building the project, the output class library, WindowsRuntimeLightup.dll can be referenced in .NET desktop applications.


This code uses reflection to utilize Windows.Storage APIs, such as StorageFile.GetFileFromPathAsync and StorageFile.OpenAsync(), if the Windows Runtime types are available on the platform or falls back to System.IO APIs otherwise.

The code provides the following public static methods in SmartFileLightUp class:


With this sample your app can be automagically adaptive and use the best API for your SkyDrive file access needs.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

WindowSMART (The HD/SSD health monitoring, reporting and alerting tools) goes open, yes, open source...



WindowSMART 2013 and Home Server SMART 2013 are powerful hard disk and solid state disk (SSD) health monitoring, reporting and alerting tools for Windows. WindowSMART 2013 is a standalone application, available in both x86 (32-bit) and x64 (64-bit) versions. Home Server SMART 2013 is a Dashboard add-in for specialized versions of Windows.

WindowSMART 2013 was originally developed as a Shareware application. On October 28, 2013, its developer Matthew Sawyer, owner of Dojo North Software, LLC, decided to turn WindowSMART and Home Server SMART over to the open source community. I work full-time for HP as a Microsoft SharePoint consultant, and the demands of running a side business conflicted with my family. With two young children, I want to be a better dad and thus decided I shouldn't be consuming all my free time working on a side business when I could be spending it with my family.

WindowSMART 2013 - Supported Platforms

  • Windows XP SP-3 and later
  • Windows XP 64-bit edition SP-2 and later
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows 7
  • Windows 8
  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows Server 2003 SP-2 and later
  • Windows Server 2008
  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Windows Server 2012
  • Windows Server 2012 R2

Home Server SMART 2013 - Supported Systems
  • Windows Home Server 2011
  • Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials
  • Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials
  • Windows Server 2012 Essentials
  • Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials


From Shareware to Open Source
In January 2010 I created Home Server SMART as an add-in for Windows Home Server ("v1"), which later became known as Home Server SMART Classic. In June 2012 I released WindowSMART as a Shareware application to help supplement my family's income.

To make a very long story short, WindowSMART has grown to a point where it's a full-time job. I already have a full-time job with HP, a family and in early 2013 I started exercising again to combat obesity. I'm not Superman; there are only 24 hours in a day but I needed about 30 hours a day to take all of this on.

And so I decided the best future for WindowSMART 2013, Home Server SMART 2013 and Home Server SMART Classic lies with the open source community. I think I made a very good product--I'd love to see the open source community make it a great product.

Product Key
Because WindowSMART 2013 was initially released as a Shareware product, it still requires a product key even though it is now open source. I've generated a product key and attached it here. I will soon make a license key generator available on my website which you can use if you'd like a personalized key. There is no charge for the key. Donations, of course, are always welcome. :)

Brave step Matthew! Thanks for taking the time to OSS this and not let it just fade away into the dark...

TechBooks, your Windows 8.1 window to discovering, and reading, MSDN and Patterns & Practices eBooks

Public Sector Developer Weblog - TechBooks Windows 8.1 app - Discover MSDN and Patterns & Practices eBooks

TechBooks is a handy Windows 8.1 app that brings all the freely available "MSDN" and "Patterns & Practices" technical eBooks, in one place for your reading pleasure (online or offline). App is all about the technical content  (ebooks) one can leverage to enhance their skill-sets.

App has the following features.

  • Uses Windows 8.1’s new HubControl and template.
  • Uses new Windows 8.1 PDF related API’s.
  • Includes standard stuff – appbar, semantic zoom, pin-to-start, fly outs, caching books for offline use, and basic bookmarking capability.
  • Includes privacy policy, about, support using new Windows 8.1 settings related FlyOut controls. - required for all apps.
  • FilePicker functionality to save the book wherever the user desires.




TechBooks app is for those planning a software career or wish to enhance their technical skillsets and improve career opportunities.

App provides the following capabilities.

  • Easily discover, download and read freely available technical MSDN & Patterns and Practices e-books while online or offline.
  • No ads whatsoever in the application & completely free app to view/read/download the freely available technical e-books listed in the catalog only.

Highlighting text, annotation and printing books is not the scope of the app, but the publisher allows you to download the book and use any other advanced reader you prefer.

Hope you can provide good rating+feedback based on the scope of the app, and share with your friends pursuing software careers.


  • Supports portrait, landscape and min. width of 500 px - Allow you to view/us multiple applications side-by-side
  • Follows general Windows 8 guidelines, focuses on delivering content with contextual buttons in lower appbar & leverages semantic-zoom feature (zoom-up) to display the list of subjects.


Kind of interesting and cool way to get the MSDN and P&P stuff. One thing to note is that it seems the app is optimized for touch, for example mouse scrolling doesn't seem to work. Unfortunately, this seems kind of common (where either touch is tested or mouse, but not always both)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Toward Metadata Mastery with the Windows API Code Pack

DZone - Rob Sanders - Extracting File Metadata with C# and the .NET Framework


Over the weekend, I decided to try and import image metadata using C# and the .NET Framework.  Aside from “normal” file attributes such as date modified and size, the Windows Explorer (shell) provides extended file property information which can be quite valuable.

The challenge was how to extract this information, given that the .NET Framework has somewhat limited support for this type of extraction?  Read on to find out how.


Therefore you can obtain more information like this by using Win32 interop and invoking shell calls directly from C#/.NET, but this can be time consuming, not to mention laborious as you have to track down the correct Win32 API interfaces and property item IDs to use.  Surely there’s an easier way?

Introducing the Windows API Code Pack

Thankfully, someone has already done the leg work for us, and it has culminated in the extremely useful Windows API Code Pack, the latest release being available via this link.

The Pack itself contains documentation, samples, pre-compiled binaries and the source code for the binaries.

Honestly, I found the documentation and samples to be a bit underwhelming, but the core assemblies are absolutely gold – once you figure out how to use them properly.  The following is a screenshot of the Explorer Browser which ships as a sample with the Pack:


Retrieving Extended Property Data

One of the best features of the Pack must be the fact that someone has gone and mapped all the extended property values to strongly typed definitions, which saves us a lot of time and effort.


The SystemProperties class defines an incredibly useful hierarchy of extended property identifiers which can be used in conjunction with shell objects, as demonstrated above


What is this Windows API Code Pack thing?

Windows® API Code Pack for Microsoft® .NET Framework

Windows® API Code Pack for Microsoft® .NET Framework provides a source code library that can be used to access some features of Windows 7 and Windows Vista from managed code. These Windows features are not available to developers today in the .NET Framework.
The individual features supported in this version (v1.1) of the library are:

  • Windows 7 Taskbar
    • Jump Lists, Icon Overlay, Progress Bar, Tabbed Thumbnails, and Thumbnail Toolbars
  • Windows Shell
    • Windows 7 Libraries
    • Windows Shell Search API support
    • Explorer Browser Control
    • A hierarchy of Shell Namespace entities
    • Windows Shell property system
    • Drag and Drop for Shell Objects
    • Windows Vista and Windows 7 Common File Dialogs, including custom controls
    • Known Folders and non-file system containers
    • Shell Object Watcher
    • Shell Extensions API support
  • DirectX
    • Direct3D 11.0, Direct3D 10.1/10.0, DXGI 1.0/1.1, Direct2D 1.0, DirectWrite, Windows Imaging Component (WIC) APIs
  • Windows Vista and Windows 7 Task Dialogs
  • Sensor Platform APIs
  • Extended Linguistic Services APIs
  • Power Management APIs
  • Application Restart and Recovery APIs
  • Network List Manager APIs
  • Command Link control and System defined Shell icons
What’s New in this update (v1.1):
The enhancements in this update of Code Pack are:
  • Many FxCop violations and PREfast warnings have been addressed
  • Bug fixes across various features and samples
    • Includes many API improvements
  • New features
    • Shell Object Watcher
    • Preview Handler APIs
    • Thumbnail Handler APIs
  • New samples for the new features
  • Visual Studio 2010 compliance
  • Initial xUnit test coverage
  • String localization
  • Signed assemblies

Sure I've know about the Windows API Code Pack for years, but it never clicked that I could use it to get this kind of file metadata... sigh... so much to learn, so few brain cells (left). Yes, it's dated, but the source is available...


Related Past Post XRef:
How many ways are there to create a File Watcher? Well, here's three at least...
Windows API Code Pack v1.1 Released (Think “Bug fix, new Shell/Thumbnail/Preview features, VS2010, xUnit, string localization, signed assemblies and more” release)
More Windows Code Pack and Windows 7 developing delightfulness
Windows 7 Code Pack v1.0 Released – Managed code to help get at the yummy Windows 7 filling…
Bridging to Managed Windows 7 Development – Vista Bridge to Windows Code Pack
Vista Bridge v1.4 Released – Now with custom controls for Common File Dialogs, BreadCrumb control and Aero Glass
Vista Bridge (v1.3) available on MSDN Code Gallery
It’s the Bridge to… Vista – Getting and installing Vista Bridge Sample Library

Thursday, October 24, 2013

XPlatformCloudKit - Your Cross Windows Phone, Windows 8, and Android, powered by Azure Mobile Services, Cloud Kit

winappkits / XPlatformCloudKit

A Hands-on lab for creating your very own multi-platform app with Azure Mobile Services as a backend.

Simply follow along with the included Powerpoint file located in the root of the project.

The XPlatformCloudKit supports displaying grouped items retrieved from an Azure Mobile Service, Rss Data Services, and/or Local file. It can aesthetically organize grouped objects of Type Item with property of Title, Subtitle, Description, Image, and Group to produce a Windows Phone, Windows 8, and Android application by means of Portable Class Libraries, Xamarin Studio, and MVVMCross.



Video Tutorials

Getting Started

After obtaining and installing the prerequisites, download the .zip of this project (link on the bottom right of The XPlatformCloudKit Project Home) Save the .zip, then right-click=>Properties=>Unblock=>Apply then extract the contents of the .zip file


Prerequisites for all projects


Notes on getting Windows Phone 8 project to run:


Notes on getting Android Project to run


I've got a strong feeling your going see this mentioned again on the Coding4Fun Blog in the near future. :)

(via Geek Camp - XPlatformCloudKit: Using Youtube Playlist RSS Feed in Windows Phone)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Page File = RAM x 1.5? Not so fast if you're x64...

How to determine the appropriate page file size for 64-bit versions of Windows

A page file (also known as a "paging file") is an optional, hidden system file on a hard disk. The page file can be used to "back" (or support) system crash dumps and extend how much system-committed memory (also known as “virtual memory”) a system can back. It also enables the system to remove infrequently accessed modified pages from physical memory to let the system use physical memory more efficiently for more frequently accessed pages.

64-bit versions of Windows and Windows Server support more physical memory (RAM) than 32-bit versions support. However, the reason to configure the page file size has not changed. It has always been about supporting a system crash dump, if it is necessary, or extending the system commit limit, if it is necessary. For example, when a lot of physical memory is installed, a page file might not be required to back the system commit charge during peak usage. The available physical memory alone might be large enough to do this. However, a page file or a dedicated dump file might still be required to back a system crash dump.

Use the following considerations for page file sizing for all versions of Windows and Windows Server:

  • Crash dump setting: If you want a crash dump file to be created during a system crash, a page file or a dedicated dump file must exist and be large enough to back the system crash dump setting. Otherwise, a system memory dump file is not created.
  • Peak system commit charge: The system commit charge cannot exceed the system commit limit. This limit is the sum of physical memory (RAM) and all page files combined. If no page files exist, the system commit limit is slightly less than the physical memory installed. Peak system-committed memory usage can vary greatly between systems. Therefore, physical memory and page file sizing also varies.
  • Quantity of infrequently accessed pages: The purpose of a page file is to back infrequently accessed modified pages so that they can be removed from physical memory. This provides more available space for more frequently accessed pages. The "\Memory\Modified Page List Bytes" performance counter measures, in part, the number of infrequently accessed modified pages that are destined for the hard disk. However, be aware that not all the memory on the modified page list is written out to disk. Typically, several hundred megabytes of memory remains resident on the modified list. Therefore, consider extending or adding a page file if all the following conditions are true:
    • More available physical memory (\Memory\Available MBytes) is required.
    • The modified page list contains a significant amount of memory.
    • The existing page files are fairly full (\Paging Files(*)\% Usage).




The common wisdom has been RAM x 1.5 for how many billions of years? But now when even small portable notebooks can have 16GB+ RAM, and limited SSD space, let alone that RAM our servers have these days, that formula just doesn't work. Nor should it... For my personal boxes, I just let the System manage my page file size, but for fine tuning servers and such, this KB will help you dial in the perfect page file size....

(via The troubleshooters and problem solvers... - Reading: The modern Pagefile sizing on 64-bit Windows, and no it’s not 1.5X the amount of RAM.)

Monday, October 21, 2013

bing up your app with the new Bing Speech Recognition Control and Updated Bing OCR, Translator Controls

Windows Azure Marketplace DataMarket Blog - New Bing Speech Recognition Control and Updated Bing OCR and Translator Controls on Windows Azure Marketplace

At the BUILD conference in June, we announced three broad categories of capabilities the new Bing platform would deliver to developers: Services to bring entities and the world’s knowledge to your applications, services to enable your applications to deliver more natural and intuitive user experiences, and services which bring an awareness of the physical world into your applications. Earlier this month we updated the Bing Maps SDKs for Windows Store Apps for Windows 8 and 8.1. Building on this momentum, today we are announcing the release of the new Bing Speech Recognition Control for Windows 8 and 8.1, and updates to the Bing Optical Character Recognition Control for Windows 8.1 and Bing Translator Control for Windows 8.1 to continue to deliver on our effort to support developers to enable more knowledgeable, natural, and aware applications.

Read on for more details on the updates we’re announcing today, and then check out the Bing developer center for other useful resources, including code samples, for building smarter, more useful applications.

Hands free experiences – Speech Recognition for Windows 8.0 and 8.1

Whether for accessibility, safety, or simple convenience, being able to use your voice to interact hands-free with your device is increasingly important. By enabling devices to recognize speech, users can interact more naturally with their devices to dictate emails, search for the latest news, navigate their apps, and more. If you are a Windows Phone developer, you may already be familiar with the speech recognition inside Windows Phone: the user taps a microphone icon, speaks into the mic, and the text shows up on screen. Now, that same functionality is available on Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and Windows RT through the free Bing Speech Recognition Control.

In as little as ten lines of C# + XAML or JavaScript + HTML, you can put a SpeechRecognizerUX control in your application, along with a microphone button and a TextBlock, and the code to support them. When the user clicks or taps the mic, they will hear a blip, or "earcon", to signal that it's time to speak, and an audio meter will show their current volume level. While speaking, the words detected will be shown in the control. When they stop speaking, or hit the Stop button on the speech control, they will get a brief animation and then their words will appear in the TextBlock.




bing Dev Center - Speech

Getting started

Voice Commands

Lets users open and navigate your app with their voices.

    Speech Recognition

    Transcribes user speech into text.

      Speech Synthesis

      Also known as Text to Speech, speaks to users in a natural sounding voice.

        Download the Speech Recognition Control for Windows 8 and Windows 8.1.
        Download the Windows 8.1 SDK to get Speech Synthesis for Windows 8.1.
        Download the Windows Phone 8 SDK to get all three capabilities for Windows Phone 8.


        bing Dev Center - Optical Character Recognition Control

        Getting started

        Integrate Microsoft’s robust cloud-based optical character recognition capabilities into your Windows 8.1 store apps in XAML and C# with the Bing Optical Character Recognition (OCR) control. The control detects printed text from an image captured by an app through the device camera.

          To get started:


          bing Dev Center - Translator Control

          Getting started

          Get easy access to robust, cloud-based, automatic translation between more than 40 languages with the Bing Translator Control and the Microsoft Translator API.

            To get started:


            I saw this a Build and loved the idea of being able to leverage the power of bing and the machine intelligence and learning behind it. Cloud power baby! (Of course you need to be connected to make it work, but who isn't connected these days?)

            Friday, October 11, 2013

            Besides tearing your hair out, how you debug why your Windows 8 Modern app isn't starting?

            SupportingWindows - What to do if your Windows 8 Modern App fails to start

            Good morning AskPerf!  David Alessi here from the Windows 8 client team.  One of the biggest support issues we’ve seen is with Windows 8 Store (formerly Metro/Modern) Apps failing to start.  This post is going to cover some of the most common issues that users run into, and how to troubleshoot them.

            When troubleshooting Windows 8 Apps, first establish whether or not the App is starting at all.  When a Windows 8 App is first clicked the first thing that appears is the splash screen for that particular App.  For example:


            The splash screen is a solid color page typically with the App’s logo on it.  When the App is first clicked, Windows is responsible for running the splash screen while the App gets ready to run.  If the splash screen is briefly displayed and then closes, this means that Windows is opening the splash screen but the App is not starting.

            • When the splash screen is displayed and then closes, we could be looking a permissions problem, group policy setting, or something configured in the Windows Firewall service - all of which could cause the start screen to not display Apps that should be there
            • When an App starts properly and cannot access local resources,  NTFS file permissions should be checked
            • If the App starts properly but cannot access network resources, then a likely cause is the Windows 8 App’s inability to work with authenticated proxies
            • If the splash screen is never shown, it’s possible that there’s an Application control setting/tool in place.  For example, a Microsoft Software restriction and/or Applocker.  Both of these Microsoft technologies are deployed with group policy.
            • Apps missing from the start screen can be caused by any of the issues covered in this article, just step through the causes one at a time

            Now that I’ve laid out some common causes I’ll go over how to fix each of issues above.


            There's a great deal of advice that I bet I'd never be able to find in this post... From magic log locations, Group Policy, permissions, registry locations and more, if you're writing Windows 8 Modern App's, you need to keep this post bookmarked (okay, bookmarks are so 90's... whatever you do, keep this post handy).