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Windows 10 and Cross Platform Development

[This article was first published on gooroo.io]

Windows 10 is looming and already details of new features and new components are emerging. In this series of articles I will cover the new features of Windows, both as an IT Professional as well as a developer. The amount of work and investment made by Microsoft into the Windows eco-system means that this is not a small update, but a key to the future success of the platform. One of the new features is a cross platform capability of apps that is unmatched anywhere. In the not too distant future you will be able to run your Windows 10 apps on phone, tablet, desktop, Xbox, Internet of Things (such as a Raspberry Pi), HoloLens and many many more devices.

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Continuum for Windows and Universal Windows Apps

There was soooo many cool things announced at //build and a lot of them I knew about with the rest of the Microsoft geek community. HoloLens is awesome and I want one, but we kinda know what it is and what it can do. And as a developer there is still a lot of unknowns on how I get my code onto it. I will touch on HoloLens in a separate post.

There was also the massive surprise that iOS and Android now have SDKs for Visual Studio so you can take your existing app and port it relatively smoothly across to the Windows platform.

What is it?

One of the announcements that was kinda brushed aside a bit and was given the “that’s cool, but what is next” treatment was Continuum. If you haven’t heard of it, it is basically new hardware inside mobile devices that allows you to use your phone as desktop computer. Attached a screen via HDMI or Miracast, mouse and keyboard via Bluetooth, and you have a desktop experience out of your pocket. To get a better feel for what I mean watch Joe Belfiore below introducing Continuum.

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Xamarin Hackday – Melbourne

Last year I organised a successful Xamarin Hackday in conjunction with SSW, and now it is on again! On the last Saturday of May, I have assembled a great group of expert speakers and helpers for a day of geeking and knowledge sharing around the cross platform of choice. It is free to attend and if you show up on time, I will even make sure there is a bite to eat and some coffee for you. Yep, that is my plan to get you started on the right foot.

To sign up go here.

Speakers

Clinton Rocksmith

Clinton Rocksmith

Kym Philpotts

Kym Phillpotts

Filip Ekberg

Filip Ekberg

Michael Ridland

Michael Ridland

Adam Cogan

Adam Cogan [SSW]


Windows 10 & Cortana – Personal Assistance Everywhere

[This article was first published on gooroo.io]

Most people are familiar with Siri on iOS and Google Now on Android, but the much more personal and arguably more helpful Cortana on the Windows platform is not as well known. And that is a shame. In terms of contextual assistance and personalised service, Cortana is more advanced and more adaptive than her competitors. Yes, “her”.

Getting Up to Speed

Before I get into Cortana’s great promise, let’s have a quick look at how she currently helps out. Whereas Siri is a bit robotic and feels automated, Cortana understands almost natural language (I say “almost, as there are some quirks, especially with non-American English). You can for example tell Cortana “Remind me to pick up kittens next time I’m at the supermarker” and she will know when you are in a supermarket and then pop up a reminder on your phone. Continue Reading


Gooroo Ambassador Program

In conjunction with last year’s DDD Melbourne event, we were approached by MS Gooroo wanting to be a sponsor. We had never heard of them, but Jaq, Carl and Terence were keen to be involved and we gladly invited them to be part of our little developer event. It was a great success, and the guys at Gooroo (as it is now called, “MS’ is dropped) delivered a great presentation as well as sponsored great prizes.

After the event I was asked to be a part of the Gooroo Ambassador Program, a platform to write and publish articles. I happily accepted as the company is a great start-up and the things they do are awesome. I will from time to time publish articles on Gooroo Think and link to them from here as well.

gooroo.io front page


Getting the Troy Hunt Treatment – New Pluralsight Course

About a month ago I was in Salt Lake City for the annual Pluralsight Authors’ Summit. It was a weekend of incredible learnings regarding authoring and publishing, invaluable networking with fellow authors and of course having some fun in the snow as well.

I haven’t authored a course for some months and that is due to cloning myself, moving house, changing jobs and many other things happening, but when Pluralsight asked if Troy Hunt and I wanted to do a Play By Play course on website security I jumped on it. So while we were in Salt Lake City, we sat down for a couple of hours to record a live session with Troy casting his hacker eyes on a product called Sugar Learning built by SSW, the company I work for.

The course will show some of the most common areas of website security that you can relatively easily fix yourself by following the steps and using the tools we show you. A small sample can be seen below, and you watch the whole thing right now on Pluralsight.

 


Hello Microsoft Band. Goodbye Fitbit and Pebble.

For the last few weeks I have been sporting a Microsoft Band, a fitness tracker and wearable gadget from the software giant. It isn’t the first time that Microsoft has made hardware. In the past we have seen peripheral PC hardware such as mice and keyboards, and of course there is the Xbox franchise just to name a few. But this is the first time that Microsoft has created an almost Apple like interest in a product. The first batch of Bands that was released back on 29 October 2014 sold out in a matter of days. It is also the first time that software has been released for iOS, Android and Windows Phone to accommodate all three major platforms and allow non-microsoft users to pick up a Band.

It is in more ways than one a turning point for Microsoft.

Band Box

 

First Impressions

First impression of the Band is mostly praise. It feels like quality, it feels well-built and it has a nice finish to it. Having used a FitBit for about a year the Band does come across as a little bulky. It isn’t particular flexible and it takes a little practise to put it on without feeling like you are pulling it beyond what the strap can do.

The touch screen is small, but it works. It is a bit strange getting used to a tiny touch screen of 320 by 106 pixels when we are just getting used to touch devices growing in size all the time. But then again, I wouldn’t want a Lumia 1520 on my wrist. Continue Reading


The Lumia 930 in all its Glory

About 9 weeks ago I was asked if I wanted to participate in the Microsoft #Challenge930. This meant that Microsoft would send a free Lumia 930 as a loan device and I could use it throughout the challenge. Who would say no to that!!?

Lumia 930

Being an app developer and trainer for the platform I was also extremely interested in seeing how the device would perform for building apps, experimenting with new features such as the SensorCore and of course using the latest and greatest of the Windows Phone operating system. With the introduction of universal windows apps the features of “Big Windows” are now available on your handheld device (although whether the Lumia 1320 and 1520 are handheld is another question entirely). Continue Reading


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