Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Enabling Multilingual App Toolkit for Windows 8.1 Apps

Windows Phones are used worldwide and multilingual support is mandatory. The toolkit provides this much needed feature.

This toolkit integrates with Microsoft Visual Studio Toolkit to provide translation support
for Windows 8 Apps development and editor tools.

The toolkit provides (from MSDN resources) the following:
  • Helps you manage resource changes and translation status during development.
  • Provides a UI for choosing languages based on configured translation providers.
  • Supports the localization industry-standard XLIFF file format.
  • Provides a pseudo-language engine to help identify translation issues during development.
  • Connects with the Microsoft Language Portal to easily access translated strings and terminology.
  • Connects with the Microsoft Translator for quick translation suggestions.
You can download the toolkit for 11 different languages (language of the toolkit msi):

Once this is installed you should enable it in Visual Studio 2013 (works in Express 2013 with Update 2 RC).
According to MSDN it only becomes effective for projects created after it is installed which was slightly at variance.

A universal project developed with Windows App Studio beta was already opened in the VS IDE and when the multilingual toolkit was enabled it was enabled  only for the Windows Phone 8.1 part of the project and not the Windows 8.1.

For a blank hub project started in Visual Studio 2013, enabling  the Multilingual toolkit applies the
toolkit for both programs (Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1).

More details are posted here:


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Conversations with Cortana

By now you should be knowing who Cortana is. She is my new digital assistant. I fired the previous one, she was OK. I will not reveal her name but she was not as good as Cortana. Most of the times Cortana answers straight out or brings up a link on Bing search or a Bing Map. I am not sure if Cortana gets better with time (AI).

It looks like Cortana can be integrated into APPS written for Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1. I am looking forward to see some examples.

If Cortana is in a good mood she gives me straight asnwers, like, If I ask her to sing me lullaby, she obliges and asks me if Oh! Danny Boy is OK.
I guess she can read my mood.

Some things are no brainer for her, like:

Will it be sunny in Bengaluru, tomorrow?
Will it rain tomorrow?

Here are pieces of conversation I had with her and her responses are in blue.

What day is tomorrow? and she brings up my appointment tomorrow.
Prime minsiter of Australia?Tony Abbot straight out not a web page. That's my girl!

To be or not..and a pause brings up Shakespeare's page
Three multiplied four-straight out 3*4=12

Who are you? stright out,
In short, I am your personal assitant. I try to make things easier to do on your phone.
Open Amazon Kindle
Opens the App

What is a centrifuge-Opens site and Bing's definition page for Centrifuge
You can add an appointment to the calendar after some interaction

Indian restaurant nearby...Brings up a list in the neighborhood.
Right angle triangle--brings up images of right angled triangles.
Twinkle, twinkle brings up Twinkle, twinkle little start from YouTube
Get me directions to Sam's club,
Here are 9 location's for 'Sam's Club'. Which one do you want
Set up my alarm for 4 PM
Your alarm is set for 4:00 PM
Thank you;
It's an honor
Honolulu longitude and longitude:
I found this answer
Latitude: 21.3

Next flight to Japan from Honolulu
Did not get the above.

Rainbow colors: bringsup images of rainbow spectrum
Where am I?
 brings up bing map showing my address
1 Dollar how many Rupees?

Here's today's exchange rate:
60.34 Indian Rupees.

Last year Noble prize winner in Physics
Did not get it.

Noble Prize winner last year?
brings up site

Friday, April 25, 2014

Microsoft Azure Preview Portal is awesome

Yesterday I had posted on the new editions of Azure SQL Databases after having noticed that the new editions were not present in the Microsoft Azure Portal. But there is a new portal in Preview that may give access to these new editions.

I could get to the preview portal (you may need to sign up and all that..) from this link here:

This means you should have an account or create one, if you don't.

This is the entrance to Microsoft Azure, the Preview Portal. The Service health shows all the world wide sites and there health. Presumably you can get back to the previous portal by clicking on the APP at the bottom (I have not tried).

As noted here:

The preview portal allows you to create only the WEB edition for the present and will probably allow you to create the BASIC, STANDARD and PREMIUM editions in the near future.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Microsoft revamps Azure SQL Database editions

The Web and Business editions will be replaced within a year with three levels tailored and better suited to business needs. You do not need to wait for a year as it is already in Preview.
The objectives were made clear in this email notice (quote):
New service tiers

In response to customer feedback, Azure SQL Database is introducing new service tiers to help you more easily innovate with cloud-designed database workloads. The new tiers help deliver predictable performance across six performance levels for lightweight to heavyweight transactional application demands. Additionally, the new tiers offer a spectrum of business continuity features, a stronger uptime service-level agreement (SLA), larger database sizes for less money, and an improved billing experience.

  •    Basic: Designed for applications with a light transactional workload. Performance objectives for Basic provide a predictable, hourly transaction rate.

  •    Standard: Standard is the go-to option for getting started with cloud-designed business applications. It offers mid-level performance and business continuity features. Performance objectives for Standard deliver predictable, per-minute transaction rates.

  •    Premium: Designed for mission-critical databases, Premium offers the highest performance levels and access to advanced business continuity features. Performance objectives for Premium deliver predictable, per-second transaction rates.

I tried to create a Basic tier database minutes ago but the interface still shows Web and Business:


Fast track App development for Windows/Windows Phone with Windows Phone App Studio

In the early days of Internet web site development there were many sites offering free web sites
 based on templates. You could sign-in and create a web site with a few pages sprinkled with some images and with some basic formatting tools all under 15 minutes. I created one during those days which is still alive:

App Studio provides a similar user experience albeit lot more sophisticated with much tighter integration with Microsoft's Visual Studio tying up both windows 8.1 development and Windows Phone 8.1 development by intelligently sharing resources. It's two birds with one stone scenario.

The journey for this App development starts here:

There are preliminaries like having a Microsoft account; having a computer with Windows 8.1 OS (Windows 8.1 Professional is even better so that you can have a Hyper-V for Windows 8.1 Emulator) and for some deeper interaction, may be Visual Studio 2103 Express for Windows with Update 2 RC (henceforth just Visual Studio).

The projects that you develop with App Studio can be deployed to your Windows Phone 8.1 but then it requires that you have your phone get it unlocked. However you can bring it into Visual Studio, build and run your App.

Here is the structure of one such project in the Solution Explorer in Visual Studio where you can see separate nodes for Windows and Windows Phone; and the Shared resources.  Only the Windows node has been expanded.

More details on how to create a project are described here:


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Project types using the Microsoft Visual Studio Express 2013 for Windows

Microsoft Visual Studio Express 2013 for Windows Update 2 RC was installed on a Windows 8.1 Laptop computer. In addition to the Windows program Microsoft Visual Studio Express 2013 for Web and Blend for Visual Studio 2013 (This will be installed if you are to run just the Update 2 RC) were also installed on the computer. With Blend you can develop HTML and XAML Store Apps.

Here is a screen shot of the details of Microsoft Visual Studio Express 2013 for Windows Update 2 RC.

Using this interface you can create a variety of project types using the templates as shown in the next image.

On line resources provide lot more samples.

Except Visual Basic the other project types (JavaScript, C# and C++) allows you to create Universal Apps which is a single page universal app for Windows and Windows Phone that uses the Windows Runtime and has no predefined controls or layout.

If you are only developing Store Apps with JavaScript then you have the following options:

1. Universal Apps
  •    Blank Universal App - single page Windows & Windows Phone APP
  •    Hub/Pivot Universal App - three page app that uses a Hub control for Windows and Pivot control for Windows Phone
  •    Navigation Universal App - Windows and windows Phone app that has predefined navigation  controls
2. Windows Apps
  •    Blank App - single-page app
  •    Grid App  - three-page app
  •    Split App - two-page app for master detail
  •    Hub App   - three-page app using a Hub Control
  •    Navigation App -An app with predefined navigation controls
3. Windows Phone Apps
  •    Blank App - single page app with no predefined controls/layout
  •    Pivot App - an app that uses a Pivot control
  •    Navigation app - An app with predefined navigation controls

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview makes Nokia Lumia Icon loose its touch sensitivity

I have been using Nokia Lumia Icon for the past few weeks. It has perhaps one of the best camera systems. Recently couple of days ago, I installed Windows Phone 8.1 Preview despite the warnings.

Actually I was trying to get on to Cortina, which of course I did.

However, last night I had left the phone for charging and in the morning when I wanted to read news, I switched on. OMG! the splash screen came up and would not move. I asked my wife to call me; the call reached my phone but I could not swipe up and go the start screen.

Then I tried the camera, it worked and I took pictures, but I could not zoom with one finger (not even with two fingers!). I tried to bring up the browser and I could not.

I judged that the phone has lost its 'touch sensitivity'. I tried to put it in 'vibrate' only mode by bringing down the volume and it would not.

Then with zero volume setting I hit the on button several times. Finally, it started working when it was hard turned off and started up with NOKIA followed by Windows Phone welcome message.

I am sure some of my readers might have gotten into this situation and I would like to hear from you. Kindly leave a comment.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Deixe-nos trabalhar com servi├žos de nuvem Azure -Azure in Brazil

Microsoft has announced Azure service from Brazil through its Azure South region located in Sao Paulo. It is now available for public preview. With Locally Redundant Storage data can remain in Brazil.

Nature of Locally redundant replication:
With locally redundant replication, storage account data is replicated three times within the same data center. Locally redundant replication is offered at discounted rates.

Note that changing from Locally redundant replication to geo-replication will incur additional costs.

More on Locally Redundant Replication here.

According to Microsoft,
"The Azure website has been updated to provide detailed information on service availability and pricing for the new region. Azure Virtual Machines, Cloud Services, Storage, SQL Database, Web Sites, and Data Transfers hosted from Brazil South will be offered at a discount during the preview period. "

Brazil joins other countries in hosting the center

Azure Intelligent Systems Service - Business intelligence right in the Cloud

Microsoft has unleashed Azure Intelligent Systems Service (AISS) targeted at the Internet of Things. This service can get to the insides of your refrigerators, garage door openers etc via web connected sensors that are part of the internet of things. This enables all levels of technical skill to leverage intelligence from these devices.

More here:

Right now it is in preview. Analytics Platform System (APS) also new is an appliance fancied as 'Big Data in a Box', With this you can query SQL Server or Hadoop data. It has wide spread range of data access, transactional systems, website logs, social media info, etc.

Watch this video to see  how AISS is being used in London Underground Rail System

Visit this site for participation details in this limited time preview:

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Get Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview now!

It is now available although it is not the final version. Get a free Microsoft Developer Account and Start a project.

You start right here by accessing this link and once there sign-in with your Windows Credentials:

Once there you start your project as shown here:

In this screen you start creating a project.
You do not have to create a full blown project but test the water with some minimum features and save.

You will get an email to take it further.

To get the develope's preview click on OS preview for developers which will take you to this link here:

Note that you can register
* as Windows Phone Developer
* as developer with App Studio
* or 'Developer unlock your phone'

Before you download read the contents on this page paying attention to the following warnings:

•After you install a preview update, you may void any warranty from your mobile operator and OEM.
•A preview update only includes the Microsoft portion of the update; mobile operator and OEM driver updates will be available when the official update for your phone is available.
•You cannot revert or return to a prior operating system release version after you have updated your phone to a preview update. We will move you forward to a "released state," but we cannot take you back to a prior "released state."

You will get an email with instructions to install. Open the email in your Phone (herein, Nokia Lumia Icon).

After you install you will have to agree for some license terms before your installation completes.
The updating of phone OS takes quite a bit of time and finally you will get a 'Installed successfully' message.

When it completes you get some information on New Settings:
  • Wi-Fi Sense
  • Automatic Update of Store Apps
  • Microsoft account Updates
You will also recieve a free message on your phone asking you to go to:
There are tons of things you can do with your new installation. The one I like immediately is to choose the option to connect to Wi-Fi ovr cellular as my data plan is limited.





Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Microsoft closes the gap with Apple and Google

Looking at Microsoft Windows Phone 8.1 Developer preview you can really appreciate how fast Microsoft has bridged the gap that separated Windows Phone  from its competitors.

Apple had its Siri (Voice based instant help) and Google its Google Now (Right information at just the right time). Now Microsoft has combined all these features in one, CORTANA, the vocie operated digital intelligence with a human voice behind it.

This catch up with the major players is sure to improve Microsoft's Mobile presence and guarantees a solid position.

Many other features are making an impact, tiles updated live, pinnable Sense features ( Battery Saver, Data Sense, Storage Sense and Wi-Fi Sense) and more hardware manufacturers making Windows Phones.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Does Rahul Gandhi stand a chance of winning the Indian Election?


I would say he does stand a good chance, no thanks to Internet and Social Media Network.

Despite the large scale adoption of Internet and social media by the contenders hotly watched only Rahul does not seem to have invested time or money. I am sure it is very debatable that social media would make a significant dent in the present election at least.

The reason is India is still a nation of massive villages where cell phones(not smart phones) and off line access to internet is all they have by way of Internet. Moreover, villages are where Congress will make the most thrust in its campaigns. Villages are where name of Gandhi is still revered.  Coming from a political blood line synonymous with India and freedom despite being westernized, Rahul is probably still a hopeful.

Most importantly as Mahatma Gandhi noted that India lives in its villages, some 700000 of them.

The source of the above screen shot is from here:

This figure has not changed very much with only a small reduction since that time. Some 638558 villages by the last count. Review this link here:

The majority of these villages are mostly in the north and that is where the final battle will be.

Name of State
Uttar Pradesh 
Madhya Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh

What could upset the Apple Cart?

Promises that were never delivered. Roads and schools that were never built.  Most importantly corruption.

Jai Hind

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Social Media, Big data analytics and Indian Elections

This is election time in India. Social Media and Big Data have a big role to play


This will be a good test for the efficacy of Social media in the first Digital Indian elections since one of the major players (Congress Party) does not seem to care for Social Media. On the other hand, the other major contending parties, the Bharatiya Janata Party  (BJP) and the Aam Admi Party (AAP) parties have very strong social media connections like, Facebook, Twitter, Google ('Pledge to vote'& Google score) and Google+ hangouts (See screen shots). Even the recent WhatsApp is being used to send messages out, to (well!) mostly urban voters.

The parties in focus:


According to Internet and Mobile Association of India media is going to influence the elections swinging as much as 3 to 4% of the voters. After the March 5 announcement of elections, the word 'election' went up by 561% according to the same source. With more than 238 million young voters this is very credible indeed.
 AAP Media Blitz!

AAP web site

AAP is all over the media
 AAP also on Twitter and Facebook
 Modi apps are popular

Here is one of the dozens of Modi Android Apps from Google Play

 Lots of comments


Well, Bing search this morning brought these results:

Narendara Modi  5,000,000 - BJP
Rahul Gandhi    3,830,000   -Congress
Arvind Kejriwal 4,180,000  -AAP

My choice: Modi or Kejriwal, the latter preferred if he can indeed end corruption in India. I may even call him the Messiah.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 Release Candidate has many nice features

This is a 'go-live' update which is immediately production worthy although there could be some remnant bugs. Upgrading 2RC to Update 2 RTM is supported.

Download from here:

Date Published:3/28/2014
File name: VSU2\VS2013.2 RC.exe
File size: 2.0 MB

System Requirements:
Windows 7 Sp1, Windows 8, windows 8.1, Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 and Windows Server 2012

Additional requirements for Windows Phone development

    For Windows Phone 8.0 development:
  •         Windows 8.0 (x64) Professional edition or higher
  •         For the Windows Phone emulators, a processor that supports Client Hyper-V and Second Level Address Translation (SLAT)
    For Windows Phone 8.1 development:
  •         Windows 8.1 (x86) or higher
  •         For the Windows Phone emulators, Windows 8.1 (x64) Professional edition or higher, and a processor that supports Client Hyper-V and Second Level Address Translation (SLAT)

Update 2 RC includes support for Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Update with many new features.

Platform unification across device types (PCs, Tablets, Phones) with common Windows Runtime. allows you to use Visual Studio Express to build apps for Windows and Windows Phone.

Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 working off the same Windows Runtime allows developers to share a large amount of code. In Visual Studio you can now have shared projects (C++,C# and JavaScript) making it possible to share code between Windows and w
Windows Phone.

More details on Somasegar's blog on MSDN here:

Monday, April 07, 2014

Visual Studio on-line goes GA

Visual Studio on-line team  announced the General Availability of Visual Studio. Both personal and professional development can be carried out on this platform. It carries with it a (Service Level Agreement) SLA of 99.9% availability.

The regular pricing will start from May 7, 2014 and marks the end of the Early Adopter program. If you are signed up for early adopter program, the account will be transitioned to a regular account.In this account, the following are still free,

5 Visual Studio Online Basic User Plans
Unlimited MSDN Subscribers
60 build minutes per month
1500 virtual user minutes of Cloud Load Testing

If these are good enough there is no need for early adopter to take any action.If you need more just link your Visual Studio on-line account to your Windows Azure Account.

For clarification and more information visit this MSDN blog link (2/28/20140:

Sunday, April 06, 2014

3D printing and Microsoft

At least this time Microsoft has gotten ahead of other platforms in recognizing this disruptive technology.

3d Printing is the talk of Wall street and 3d Printing stocks are doing great and even Hewlett Packard is getting into this booming market. There are 3D printers that are readily available in the market.

I was intrigued to see a MakerBot printer doing a 3D demo job at the nearby Microsoft store in Ala Moana downtown Honolulu. I believe it is more than just a demo as Windows 8.1 natively supports 3D printing through the Windows 3D Builder app that you can download for free from here:

Windows 8.1 operating system supports;
  • Plug and play support for supported printers
  • Connects APPS with hardware
  • Can work with 3d formats

It has the folloiwng features:
  •  View and prepare objects for 3D printing on Windows 8.1-ready devices
  •     Load STL, OBJ, or 3MF files from disk
  •     Library of 3D objects to explore and print

The Builder app helps in crating and printing 3d objects. Just like ClipArt library for graphics there is a library of objects that you can use to print, like jewelry,toys etc. You can also add multiple objects and print them together. Also you can download a 3D object from the Internet and print using the app. You can even buy MakerBot at a Microsoft store.

These 3D Printer vendors are partners:
3D Systems, Autodesk, Dassault Systems, MakerBot, netfabb, Materialise, Stratasys, Tiertime (PP3DP), Of these MakerBot (recently acquired by Stratasys and TierTime will have support for Windows 8.1. The Belgian company Materialize is going for an IPO soon.

Review the following link:

Saturday, April 05, 2014

April 3 update to Microsoft Azure SQL

For those signed up for premium tier (GA), Microsoft's Scott Guthrie announced that SQL databases will be bale to store up to 500GB of data. This is a very significant jump from 150GB. Yet another thing announced was the SLA covering 99.95% of the time.

* Active Geo-Replication:

More fail-over options /disaster recovery options with Geo Replication of SQL Azure databases. This feature is also available on Azure Storage. Of course these are for premium subscriptions only for now (available at the end of the month). You can create up to 4 active,readable secondarily in any Azure region allowing you to comply with data regulations .

  • Microsoft Adds Self-Service Restore
SQL Azure creates  backup automatically for up to 35 days although this feature will be available towards the end of the month when it is enabled. This should releve the onus on export/import service.

The graphics are from Scott's blog.

Another resource for this info here:

Friday, April 04, 2014

Oracle Data Provider ODP.NET is available in two flavors

Oracle Data Provider for .NET (ODP.NET) is a free, high performance ADO-NET complinat data access provider. Using this .NET Developers can access Oracle databases using .NET Languages. ODP.NET supports all ADO.NET and .NET Framework features.

You can download it from here:

In the download look for Oracle Data Provider for .NET and is part of the Oracle Data Access Components (ODAC)12.1.

ODP.NET is available in two forms:
  • ODP.NET Unmanaged Driver --Some librabries compiled to machine code rather than .NET code
  • ODP.NET 12.1 Managed Driver - Completly compiled to .NET Byte code and runs inside Common Language Runtime
These two are comparable to JDBC thick and thin clients.

The managed driver is really 'thin' comprising of just two dlls with less than 10MB size. It is totally self-contained requiring no other Oracle client networking hooks.

However this does not support connecting to Oracle database via Server Explorer in Visual Studio Express Edition.

Read this complete article for using the Managed Provider:

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Microsoft Piggy backs Microsoft OFFICE 365 on iPads - Bravo

I believe this was an excellent move to improve the Microsoft bottom line.

I am not as sure as Simon Phipps blogging that Microsoft has taken a step towards (partially perhaps) embracing Open Source, I believe it is to make the best of the breed of Microsoft's product available on the best of breeds Apple product.

Read Simon Phipps article here:

I think it profits both companies and probably diminishes the appeal of Google trying to get into this lucrative business and a hedge against falling PC sales.

Now as we speak, Microsoft is doing better than it did before, that is marketwise.

You could use Office 365 on your Android phone and it is just as easy.

You want to do real-time business with real-time insight, download SQL Server 2014 right now

You can download SQL Server 2014 from the Technet Evaluation Center here:

You can also download the express version here:

You get the following programs in the express edition:
  • LocalDB (SqlLocalDB)
  • Express(SQLEXPR)--Database Engine only
  • Express with Tools(SQLEXPRT)---Install & Configure database server+ SSMS
  • SQL Server Management Studio Express(SQLManagementStudio)
  • Express with Advanced Services(SQLEXPRADV)--includes Full Text Search & Reporting Services
Summary of some basic requirements:
  • .NET 3.5 SP1 is a requirement and is not installed by set up.
Download the above from here:
  • .NET 4.0 is also a requirement but the installaiton program downlaods and installs it.
  • PowerShell 2.0 is also a prerequisite and you have to install it if it is not present.
Operating Systems on which you can install:

Full list can be accessed here:

  • Enterprise and Business Intelligence versions installs only on Windows Servers (2012 and 2008 R2)
  • Standard Edition can be installed on Windows 7(x32 and x64) and windows 7 SP1(Ultimate to Professional)
  • SQL Developer covers the widest Windows operating Systems.
  • SQL Express can be installed on above mentioned Servers as well Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and windows 7 SP1 Protection Status