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Building Your First Windows Phone App

About three weeks ago my third Pluralsight course was published. This one had been underway for a while due to me being pedantic and a few other projects creeping up and taking my time. But it is finally here! “Building Your First Windows Phone App” is alive and doing really well.

This course is a different take on starting out building apps, and in fact about 80% of the content is applicable across mobile platforms and even non-mobile development. You know that feeling when you want to start developing for a particular platform, say Windows Phone, and you can’t figure out what to build? This course helps you right from getting an idea and how to harness it, to the point where the app is published and what to do post-publish. No other course guides you through the whole process.

You will learn to use the most important tools and everything from avoiding the typical pitfalls to using Azure mobile services. It really is the whole life cycle of building an app and I am really proud of it. Below is a snippet of what the course contains.

Recording iPad Screencast on your PC with AirServer

I am currently recording a kids’ course for Pluralsight. It is a great experience to get a new generation interested in technology and in this particular case it is programming. Teaching kids is not something I have a great deal of experience with, although I have worked with plenty of kids in the past as a tutor, mentor and adult learning-partner.

In my opinion, kids respond much better to visuals, and Death-by-PowerPoint is very easy to cause quickly. I settled on using an iPad (which is shock and horror to my regular readers), as it is a device many kids have and there is a lot of educational apps for it.

Here is the problem: How do I record the screen of an iPad, when all I have is a PC, some USB cables and a wireless network? I had lots of ideas

  • Perhaps I could record the screen with a video camera?
  • Perhaps there is an iPad emulator I could use?
  • Perhaps I could borrow a Mac, a Mac TV and 184 other proprietary devices to build my own Rube Goldberg machine?

I really didn’t know. And my whole course really depended on this working. Continue Reading

Lumia 930 and 635 Launch – Windows Phone Steps It up A Notch

This morning I was invited by Microsoft Australia (formerly known as Nokia) to be part of their launch of the Lumia 930 and the Lumia 635. Apart from free food (which always wins over geeks) we got to touch and feel the amazing new hardware. Granted I already have a Lumia 630 (dual sim) and I have had an unofficial play with a 930, but it was great to be part of the official launch. There were enough devices for everyone to have a play, but unfortunately we didn’t get to keep one.

Even though these two devices are the first to be released with Windows Phone 8.1 from launch, I won’t go in to the new features of 8.1, but focus solely on the new hardware. Continue Reading

Stand to Attention – Universal Charger Review

As I got a hold of the Lumia 1520 from AT&T, it didn’t come with QI wireless charging. For very political reasons and a Nokia that decided to buckle to the enormous telco, the American delivered Lumia 1520 comes with Powermat wireless charging, which no one has ever used. And no one ever will. In fact if you Google “Lumia 1520 at&t wireless charging” the first many results are about how to get QI charging back in to your AT&T Lumia 1520. Now, I got my device for free, so I can’t really complain. Instead I needed a micro usb desk charger. Continue Reading

Cover me up – Nokia Lumia 1520 Case Smackdown

I am still amazed at how many smartphones I see out and about that have broken screens. Some have small cracks that would be annoying, and some are downright useless with a completely shattered front. I do realise that not everyone is in love with their devices like me and the rest of the WinPhan community, but come on people. You wouldn’t drive around with a completely shattered windscreen. Not to toot my own horn too much, but I have never broken the screen on a phone. I have replaced many iPhones and Android screens for friends and co-workers but I don’t generally throw my phone around. In any case, I got my hands on a Lumia 1520 recently and this gorgeous device of magic and fairy dust has a larger screen than any other phone I have seen. Larger screen = even more destruction possible. And considering my lovely partner would be using this device I thought I would get a protective cover for the 1520. And I got two. Just to be extra safe.

Continue Reading

Building Universal Apps for Windows Phone

This article was first posted on blog.dvlup.com

At Microsoft’s annual conference //build/ recently, a lot of really cool stuff was announced across the entire product suite for developers. As a recently knighted Microsoft Windows Phone Developer MVP I had a particular interest in the announcement of Windows Phone 8.1.

As many awesome features as there are coming in this massive update for the greatest smartphone platform (yes, I am a little biased ;)), I wanted to make mention of one in particular: Universal apps.

Universal Apps Logo Continue Reading

Review – Avantree NFC Bluetooth Stereo Headphones

Last time I did a review, it was of the Avantree Hive Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Headphones, which I thought was great value for money.  So this time around I wanted to test how much better, if at all, the next model up would be. I chose the NFC Bluetooth Stereo headphones, also from Avantree, to get as much of accurate relative comparison as possible. So how did we go? Keep on reading.


I know how everyone always starts with the unboxing, but I really believe it is important. The box is the first thing you see in the shop (if you still go to physical shops and buy stuff), and to some extent it is responsible for you picking up the item in the first place.

In this case, it is pretty ordinary. You get some info about the product and you can see part of the headphones through the clear plastic. Nothing unusual or extraordinary.

The box itself contains the headphones, a 3.5mm jack and the charger cable. Simples.

Box Continue Reading

Melbourne Windows Phone Meetup

I have for a while been looking to catch up with like minded Windows Phone and Windows developers in Melbourne. Apart from a few Microsoft and Nokia workshops, it has been a bit scarce for us WinPhans. So I thought, why not create my own event. At least I would have myself to talk to, if nothing else.

This Thursday at 6:30pm the inaugural Melbourne Windows Phone Meetup takes place. It is meant to be a social evening to get to know one another, with the aim to create a more structured event on a regular basis. I am open to ideas for how the meetup will be shaped, and I have not set out to create a particular style or direction. It will be organically shaped by the members of the group.

So, if you are interested in Windows, Windows Phone, Mobile Development or just want to meet some WinPhans, come along. We would love to have you.


Review – Avantree Hive Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Headphones


At first look the box is very small. I expected a decent size bulk, as the picture in the ad somehow conveys a certain mass. However, unpacking the headphones reveals a smaller size, and I somehow got the feeling that the headphones wouldn’t fit over my ears. They do fit just fine, but just don’t have the girth of other headphones. They sit on top of the ears rather than over them.

The box contains the charging cable, which is yet another proprietary standard of a 3.5mm jack going in to a USB. I haven’t seen one of them before, which means I again can’t charge the headphones if I lose it. I had the same beef with the Pebble Smartwatch and the Fitbit fitness tracker, which both came with completely non-standard chargers and connections. Why can’t manufacturers just stick to using mini or micro USB? That would certainly make it a lot easier for consumers. There is also not a wall plug with the headphones, which means you have to have a USB port available to charge. It is not a huge deal, but it just makes it all a little bit more difficult.

Also in the box is of course the Avantree Hive Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Headphones and another cable that allows the headphones to be used with devices that don’t have a Bluetooth connection. That is kind of handy and a nice thought.



Box Content


Setting Up

I chose to test two scenarios for connecting the headphones. The first one being via Bluetooth to my Nokia Lumia 1020. Hold the Play/Pause button on the headphones for 7 seconds, which triggers detection mode, then tap the Avantree Hive connection and voila, you are set. You can now both take calls and listen to music.

Equally simple was it to switch to a laptop with Bluetooth connection. On Windows 8.1 you go to the Bluetooth settings, then again just tap “Pair” on the Avantree Hive connection, and you’re paired to your laptop.

The headphones will now connect automatically whenever either of the two connections are in range. One thing I noticed was that if I charged the headphones I had to switch them off and on again to pick up the connection.

Volume/Next-Previous Control

Hardware Quality

The Avantree Hive Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Headphones are made in soft plastics that give a semi-luxury feel to them. The actual headphones on your ears sit tight, but comfortable. Your ears are cushioned, but at the same time noise is kept out. The headphones are light and you could easily wear them all day. You certainly don’t have the feel they were purchased in a two dollar shop.

Sound Quality

This is probably the biggest plus to the Avantree Hive Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Headphones. The sound is genuinely really good. I don’t pretend to be an Audiophile, but I do listen to a lot of music. Unlike some headphones, having the volume turned to 11 on these, you don’t annoy everyone within 500 meters. They are genuinely quiet on the outside, but loud on the inside.

Bass is represented well and the mid-tones are exceptionally good for small speakers. There is no crackling and even high pitched songs sound great. I am really impressed with the sound.

Headphones Connected


Great. If you are in the market for budget headphones with a great sound, these are it. For around $40, you can’t go wrong.

To get the Avantree Hive Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Headphones and other Nokia Lumia 1020 accessories, our friends at Mobile Zap have a lot more:  http://www.mobilezap.com.au/33905/nokia/lumia-1020.htm

Disclaimer: The Avantree Hive Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Headphones were provided by Mobile Zap for this review, however, they have had no influence on the content apart from the link to their site.