Thursday, May 29, 2014

Azure's allure attracts Salesforce


The sky belongs to all of us and so do the clouds.
Microsoft Azure and Microsoft's flagship Office have come a long way. All kinds of deal have been struck. Do you know what? the product is damn good and getting better by the hour. It's also the story of companies/enterprises looking at their bottom lines. If you want to win, you got to be in the race. Days of single enterprises making it on their own are getting sparser.

Microsoft and Oracle enters into an alliance thanks to the data centers:

Microsoft and Amazon agreement leads to AWS running Microsoft Server Applications and Amazon provides fully cconfigured Machine images of MSFT servers:

SAP courts Microsoft:

Now comes on the heels of these alliances SalesForce joining the Azure bandwagon. As this post is being written SalesForce is enterring into Cloud Partnership with Microsoft:

It is nice that longtime rivals are coming together to achieve something meaning meaningful for both.

There are no enemies, no friends just eternal interests.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

ReCode's The Code Conference

Location: Rancho Palo Verdes, CA
Event dates: May 27-29, 2014

It is a sold out event, but you can ask to be placed on a waiting list.

Details available here:

It's about the influence of media and technolgy focusing on today and the future. Lots of people who made the influence are supposed to do deep dives to fathom the depths of digital technology.

I do not comprehend why it should be called The Code Conference.

When Microsoft said eat, sleep and code, it sort of made sense.

It could have been called, D: All things Digital, part 2.

This picture from the above site provides a sense of what this conference is about:


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Migrating Windows Store App to Windows 8.1

First thing to do is to retarget your Windows Store app to Windows 8.1. You can do this using Visual Studio 2013 Express for Windows Update 2. You can read all about this here app migration here:

What you will be reading in this post is about my experience.

SMS message send, receive, and SIM Management sample(Windows 8).zip(687.7KB) file from here was downloaded (this was a random selection from the bundle):

When you try to open this in VS 2103 Express for Windows Update 2 (with elevated permissions) you will asked about your Developer license and in my case this:

When you agree to this you will see an authentication form for Microsoft. Enter your credentials and click SignIn. You will be presented with this:

Changes have to be made from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 and you will get this message.

You click OK and then you right cclick the project in Solution Explorer as shown.

Click Retarget to Windows 8.1. You will get a Security warning advising about opening only items from trusted locations.

Click OK

You will get another messaage that once targeted to 8.1 you cannot go back to 8. Make sure you read and understand this message.

Click OK.

The project gets converted to 8.1 version. This project was randomly picked from the sample bundle and it looks like no further changes are required as I was able to build and run successfully. Although this example did not require any other changes, you should be aware of API changes going from one version to another. Go back to the first link on this post and read up.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

How do you run a Windows Phone 8.1 App?

You can run from Visual Studio 2013 Express for Windows Update 2 if you have the source code. In case you have only the XAP file you can run using the XAPDeploye.exe (61KB)tool which you can find in:

/Program files(x86)/Microsoft SDKs/Windows Phone/v8.0/Tools/XAP Deployment folder.

Well, what is XAP?

XAP is the file format used to install application software on Windows Phone 7.5/8 platforms and Silverlight Applications. This will change in Windows 8.1. You can look at the contents of an XAP file by renaming (by changing .XAP to .ZIP as it is ZIP formatted file) it.

Read about my XAP article here:

Using XapDeploy.exe tool you can deploy to a connected device or a chosen emulator (choose emulator from drop-down list)

Double click this file (in Windows 8.1 search yo can also lok for Application Development) and the User Interface will be displayed as shown:

Select the device (a Windows 8.1 Phone connected to the laptop) or one of the emulators from the following list:

 Browse and find the file with the extension .xap and click Deploy.

The Emulator gets displayed and the App gets deployed. You have to run XapDeploy.exe in elevated mode(Admin credentials using Run As Administrator). The whole process may take considerable time keep watching the Status of Deployment at the bottom of the Application Deployment Window.

Here is my Honolulu app deployed to the emulator.


Autodesk sets its eye on 3D-Printing

What with Google showing an interest in 3D Printing and more importantly Autodesk coming out with two important events, this area is getting heated up :

  • Launch of Open Source 3D printing software platform called SPARK
  • Introduction of a 3D Printing machine of its own with a reference implementation of SPARK

Autodesk is doing all of this to provide building blocks to product designers, harware manugfacturers and material scientists.

SPARK ) is open and licensable to hardware manufacturers and the Reference Printer design will also be openly available.

Both SPARK and the 3D Printer will be available at the end of this year according to sources:
This should generate enough competition to the early starters in this field like, Dassault Systemes, Stratasys, DDD (3-D), VoxelJet, ExOne and many others (there are very many to name). However many of them have suffered set backs in recent days.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Surface Pro 3 - Your laptop replacement ready to ship

Surface Pro 3 has received a lot of god reviews and it should be available anytime soon. I was disappointed that a demo model was not available at Microsoft Store today (5/21/2014) at Ala Moana's Microsoft store. The staff on the floor could not tell me when they would have a demo model. Well, that's not good. If I am serious in selling I would have had one displayed last week!

This is all I could find there:

Surface Pro 3 is ways ahead of the previous model with lots of great features. The price tag is somewhat hefty compared to often compared models from other operating systems. The cheapest is around $799 and could go up depending on your memory needs. Of course the accessories are not free like mouse etc. They all add up. Here is a copy of Microsoft's brochure.

Read more in my other blog:

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Microsoft, SAP Alliance - Enriching the Cloud

Microsoft canopy in the cloud.

Your employees can now dig deeper to get value out of your business and the Microsoft / SAP alliance makes it lot more flexible, lot easier and more enriching. Now, this alliance makes it possible to have integrated solutions  meshing up these two technologies making the any where, anytime information critical to business available without much effort.

This alliance covers all of MSFT, Cloud, Mobile, Office, BI, etc..

There are many facets to this alliance which can be briefly summarized as follows:
  • PowerBI connectivity to SAP Business Objects
  • SAP on Windows 8
  • SAP Gateway (GWM) for Microsoft
  • SQL Server for SAP installations
  • Real time  SAP data access in the Azure cloud-Customers can run SAP Applications, Databases, platforms to run in the cloud
This comes not so long after its alliance with Oracle. Microsoft Azure has spread its tentacles so to speak far and wide. Review the following posts.

Programs that interfered while loading XAML pages in VS2013 Update 2

I have been posting continuously for the past week or so on the inconsistent behavior of Visual Studio 2013 Express for Windows Update 2 (and earlier Update 2 RC).

The XAML pages were not loading in the IDE while only the Windows Phone 8.1 program could deploy to the emulators. The Deployment of Windows 8.1 was hanging indefinitely.

Some improvements were found in using the recent version of Visual Studio as well as installing the KB article as in the following posts:

Even after these changes the loading of XAML did not become consistent and deploying Windows 8.1 was also inconsistent.

Finally I have found the programs that interfered with Visual Studio 2013 Express for Windows Update 2 and probably were responsible for all the errors that I was encountering.

I uninstalled the two programs shown in the list of programs on my computer. Now the loading is very fast both for APP Studio Beta apps as well as apps created in the IDE (Store, Windows and Windows Phone).

I hope I do not need to dwell on this issue any further and this error is not thrown anymore:
Safe handle has been closed


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Get started with Windows Azure Mobile Services

It is incredibly easy to add a backend to your connected client application using Windows Azure Mobile Services (WAMS).

With WAMS you can provide a secure and scalable backend to power your apps not only on Windows but many other platforms such as iOS, Android etc. Storing data and authenticating users is effortless and you can even send push notifications. As to programming languages you can use Node.JS or C#.

There are several data storage options as well, on-premises or Azure SQL Satabase, blob storage, table storage and MongoDB.

Here is a small sample of customers leverging this service.

When you create a Windows Azure Mobile Service you can also create a (free) backend SQL Database as well.

Follow this link to create your first Windows Azure Mobile Service.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Creating Apps in the Cloud using Microsoft Azure Client OS and Visual Studio 2013 Ultimate Update 2

Well, this is an option that you can use to create Apps for Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 and deploy it (you cannot access the emulators though). Both the client operating system (Windows 8.1) and Visual Studio 2013 Ultimate Update 2 on the VM's can be used. I believe Windows 7 is also available.

However, unless you have subscribed to MSDN you cannot even look at them in your portal view.

This guy has an MSDN and you can see the Client OS on the Azure:

The correct fix for XAML load errors in Visual Studio 2013 Express for Windows Update 2

In the previous post a solution to this problem was posted. However, the solution only solved the problem for opening projects created in Windows App Studio Beta site. Even then the XAML did not load correctly for Windows 8.1 projects.

Here is where the problem was noticed first:

Also any new project created using the Visual Studio 2013 Express for Windows Update 2 program had loading problem for XAML files. Simply the design would not load.

Trouble shooting using a second instance of Visual Studio and attaching the process in the running instance did not provide any clue to what was happening.

Finally what really helped was installing the following KB article.

This was supposed to come in with Windows Update but was missing in the computer. I am using a x64 bit Windows 8.1 Professional computer

This will take a while to install and you need to restart the computer after installation.

Friday, May 16, 2014

BJP wins Indian elections 2014 with an unbelievable mandate.

India enters a new era with this election. I hope Modi delivers and the citizens get a fair deal. I also sincerely hope we remain more secular than ever.

Narendra Modi tweets, Ache din ane wale hai (good days are ahead in Hindi)

Probably you do not know who Narendra Modi is watch this video on this link:

This is Narendra Modi: (photo from Indian Express)

Here is a video from CNN World:

Congress concedes defeat.
Read the story here:

This is from Reuter's
"Opposition candidate Narendra Modi will be the next prime minister of India, with counting trends showing the pro-business Hindu nationalist and his party headed for the most resounding election victory the country has seen in thirty years."
election victory without a party, no way!

Laddoos (called ladus in the south) are ball shaped sweet made from Bengal gram flour, sugar and Ghee (Clarified butter) a must have sweet on all joyous occasions.

Nandan Nilekeni of Congress from South Bangalore, Karnataka concedes defeat

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tenders resignation tomorrow.
Quoted from:

"The BJP's  stunning performance saw the party make gains in every corner of the country giving  the BJP277 seats and a parliamentary majority in its own right. No single party has won a majority since 1984."
Sydney Morning Herald:

Read more:

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Get the correct version while installing Visual Studio 2013 Express for Windows Update 2

If you do not, then you may encounter the errors I encountered with the installation in my previous post.
The previous post here:
Well the mystery of all these IDE problems appears to be the multiple updates that must have occurred over the past couple of days.

When I raised the question that there must be something wrong with Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 RC, I was guided by (Ken Tucker, not his fault) the forum thread here to try the new  Update 2:

Taking the hint in the above I installed the version but found that it had not improved at all.
This version was the one that I had used in my post:

After interacting with the MSDN forums, I was guided by Jeff Sander's thread here:

And downloaded the version from here:

This solved the errors (testing a project created in Windows App Studio in Beta) and now:

1. XAML pages can be displayed in design view for both Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1

2. Windows App can be deployed

3. Windows Phone App comes up slow on deployment, the flip window shows up before the deployment (4" WVGA 521MB).

   This above is the start window.
App on Emulator 6", 1080P comes up very low and the start window is different.

4. Drag and drop items from toolbox to design surface works

5. Intellisense Works

This can be good starting point.
I wonder if there is a easy way to make sure that only the working version is made available.

Thanks to Jeff and Ken.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Faster and better privacy with Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute

You want something that is private and more reliable then this is the way to go.

ExpressRoute is a private route that you can establish between Azure Datacentr and your enterprise data whehter it is on your enterprise or colocation environment. It is private conneciton and does not go over the Internet (public).

ExpressRoute is now in GA (General Availability) and provides:
  • Higher reliability
  • Faster Speed
  • Lower Latency
  • Higher reliability
as compared to what you can get over the Internet.
As it has entered GA, Microsoft offers 99.99% SLA on ExpressRoute uptime. Microsoft is offering offering two new tiers of bandwith use for the Exchange Provider scenario: 200 Mbps and 500 Mbps.

The following are ExchangeRoute partners (all the biggies in Telecom):

Read more here:

Microsoft Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 is ready to download

This Update 2 will replace the Update 2 RC you have been using. I have had a number of problems with Update 2 RC and it is time to look at this Update.

The new capabilities mentioned with this update are:
  • Universal Apps. With this release you can now build universal apps that can run on Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 while sharing code and assets through shared projects.
  • TypeScript. The TypeScript language is a typed superset of JavaScript that compiles to plain JavaScript. As a typed language you can define classes, modules and interfaces that compiles to JavaScript and runs in any browser.
  • Web Tool. Our web development tools have many new features like SCSS support, a new JSON editor, updated ASP.NET templates, and an improved URL picker.
  • Azure tools. It’s easier to take advantage of Azure with options to create websites and SQL Azure databases directly on Azure for simpler deployment to a development / testing environment.
  • Diagnostics. Our diagnostics tools also got some enhancements. Performance events now let you navigate to user code for MVC Methods or jump to the SQL command for database queries. It is also possible to view the Windows Store diagnostics tools at the same time to see all your diagnostics information on a shared timeline.
  • Slipstream install. You can download Visual Studio with all its latest features from one install that includes Visual Studio 2013 RTM and Update 2 for Visual Studio.
This is where you download this update from:
I removed Update 2 RC to install Update 2

Some quick checks on the User Interface:
1. For both Windows and Windows Phone projects (individual) the designer throws an exception. In the case of Windows App the deployment hangs.. hangs...

The Windows Phone app does work although the designer cannot load, you may have to just work with XAML. The intellisense is Kaput in XAML.

2. In the case of Store Apps (Windows and Windows Phone) only the Windows Phone can be deployed and it takes too long if you choose an emulator with higher resolution.
3. The section leak mentioned in an earlier post continues.
Perhaps this is the quirk of the emulator and may be better when deployed on a device (which I have not done yet).
Well, I am still testing....

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Wiring up the Internet of Things with Node-RED

Node-RED created in an IBM laboratory (UK) is a GUI for wiring up the Internet of Things (IoT)built-on Node.JS.

It is possible that some of you have known, or used LabView. LabView  is a GUI for wiring up complex laboratory equipment like Voltage sources, measuring instruments, automated relays, rf generators, lasers, robots etc., but Node-RED is some thing similar for IoT but lot more extensible network-wise. Of course my knowledge of LabView is not current and you may find more information from National Instruments.


Get a quick overview of Node-RED here:

Node-RED is a browser based visual tool for creating flows of events and deploying to its light-weight runtime. It is developed as an open source project on GitHub under Apache License. It uses JSON format.

The background has been darkened to improve readability. The original from Node-RED.
For starters you should access this link to immediately get to know Node-RED.

If you are working off Windows OS, this is where you can download.

Supported hardware products are,

Arduino  --

Raspberry Pi (single board computer)--

Source:  Image from Wikipedia


Security will be a matter of great concern for IoT as it is for Cloud based services.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Blend for Visual Studio 2013 understands only two languages

Blend udnerstands HTML and XAML only.
You can use C#, Visual Basic or C++ for most XAML Store apps and Javascript for HTML Store Apps. XAML is of course more versatile but requires a steeper learning curve.
  • HTML Store Apps
  1. Universal Apps
          Blank App
          Navigation App

    2.  Windows Apps

          Blank App
          Grid App
          Split App
          Hub App
          Navigation App
   3. Windows Phone Apps
        Blank App
        Pivot App
        Navigation App

  • XAML Store Apps
  1.  Universal Apps
        Blank APP
        Hub App
        Class Library (Portable for Universal App)
        Windows Runtime Component (Portable for Universal App)
        Windows Runtime Component(Universal App)
    2.   Windows Apps
         Blank App
         Hub App
         Grid App
         Split App
         Class Library
         Windows Runtime Component
   3  Windows Phone Apps
        Blank App
        Hub App
        Pivot App
        WebView App
        Class Library
        Windows Runtime Component
        Blank App (Windows Phone Silverlight)
        Databound App (Windows Phone Silverlight)
        Control Library (Windows Phone Silverlight)
        Panorama App (Windows Phone Silverlight)
        Pivot app(Windows Phone Silverlight)

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Fixing bleeding from a neigboring section in Windows Store apps

In my previous post I described some UI errors in projects created using Windows App Studio which is in beta. Notice the bleeding from the next section into the section in display.


I had attributed those errors to my incorrect usage of the App Studio. However looking at sample the project (Windows Phone App Studio Sample App) I believe it is some errors not fixed in the beta. Notice the 'bleed' in the next screen shot.

I went back and opened the project in Blend for Visual Studio 2013 and fixed the errors in my previous post.

Basically, the horizontal alignment was wrong and the seciton widths were not set correctly. After making these changes, the display was corrected as shown.

Blend is very handy for fixing the UI errors, more intuitive than VS.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Must see video on Microsoft Azure's New Portal


If you are planning to take your business to the clouds, this is a must see video and takes less than 3 minutes to watch. This video is about the new preview portal detailing how Microsoft ties up the whole Azure stack and deliver a neat service to you.


Microsoft Azure SQL Database Service Tiers' details laidout

Let us begin with the new acronym DTU. DTU stands for Database Throughput Unit. DTU includes many of the measures such as CPU, memory and read/write rates to a database. DTU provides a guide for the customer to assess the new SQL Database performance levels - Basic, S1, S2, P1, P2,P3. Each of these is designed to provide higher throughput measured as a function of time (Basic in throughputs/hour, Standard(S1,S2) in throughput/minute and Premium (P1,P2 and P3) in throughput/sec.

I wonder whether Microsoft has something for me like throughputs/week!

The following table is from Shawn Bice's blog post.

Here are some throughput/time values tied to service levels:

Microsoft appears to not to say that these are not transaction guarantees for customers but provided to assist  making choices.


Monday, May 05, 2014

Take care of HeartBleed bug, stop the flow

Heartbleed bug works on the vulnerabilities (missing bounds check in handling of the TLS heartbeat extension) in the popular OpenSSL crysptographic library. When the server is infected it can steal typically 64 chunks of information from HTTPS sites. SSL/TSL encryption data secures the information between you and your server for whatever application, be it be web, email, instant messaging and VPNs. Once stolen it can impersonate users to do further damage.

There has been a fix. Affected servers should upgrade their servers to 1.0.1g version. Most of them are trying to implement the fix and some seems to have already done it.

Testing in Filippo's online test site (next link in the post) the following institutions seems to have fixed the issue. You may feel safer if you are using these services. However double check with your institution.

Bank Of America
Bank Of Hawaii
Bethpage Federal Credit Union
T D Ameritrade

For example PNC Bank at the time of this post does not give a 'clear' signal and other forces may be at work. Check it out on the FAQ page for Filippo's site here.


Sunday, May 04, 2014

Windows App Studio Project on an emulator

Windows App Studio is an online application which you can use to create Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 projects using the templates. This was described in a previous post here:

A sample project was created to see how well it works and how good it is on different foot print devices such as Windows and Windows Phone. The project was deployed to Windos Phone emulators on Windows 8.1 Professional computer using Visual Studio 2013 Express for Windows with Update 2 RC.

Windows App Studio is still a beta and of course every one is excited about it (I mean the ones who develop phone apps). Being a beta product it still has limitations and of course the beginner users like myself have limitations of their one.  Certain of the features like fone-size cannot be changed and the layout or styling is restricted.

The changes that one makes to HTML is also limited.

With the above restrictions it is nonetheless useful to see how far one can go. One of the features that did cause some concern was the bleeding of one section into another. Here are some screen shots of how they look. In a well developed application such bleeding will not or should not happen.

Here is a screenshot of the App as seen on the Windows App Studio application page:

In the above you can see part of the second section bleeding into the first section. In fact it happens for all the sections (all six of them).

Here is what you see on the three of the emulators used for displaying the APP.

Emulator 8.1 WVGA 4 inch 512MB

Emulator 8.1 1080P 5.5Inch
Emulator 8.1 1080P 6Inch

One of the obvious things you see is that not only there is bleeding but also the uneven replication of the text sizes. On the site it looks OK, but on the emulator the text in the 'Weather' section is too small compared to what it should have been in some of the emulators. I am sure these will be ironed out in the finished product. I have not yet deployed it to my device, which is a Nokia Lumia Icon and I am excited to find out how it would look.


Saturday, May 03, 2014

Windows 8.1 Phone emulators to use with Visual Studio 2013 Express

As we have seen earlier here, you can develop Universal Apps (Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1). 

You can easily run your App in Visual Studio 2013 Express for Windows with Update 2 RC. However, if you want to run your App in an emulator there are requirements to be met before you can use the emulator.

If you are running the standard Windows 8.1 that is bundled with your laptop you purchased then you need to upgrade it to Windows 8.1 Pro (pay $99.00+tax to Microsoft) because if you use the standard edition and try to run a Windows Phone 8.1 App you will get this warning. Of course to run Hyper-V you need to get the Professional or above edition of the OS.

The emulators run in Hyper-V and that is the reason you get the above message.

Windows 8.1 Professional comes with Hyper-V which you should enable in the Control Panel (Windows Features) as shown.

After enabling Hypr-V you should reboot the computer for the changes to take effect.

Once you do this you can see the emulators in your Visual Studio 2013 IDE as shown. Here I am trying to run a project created using the Windows AppStudio.


Friday, May 02, 2014

Do not confuse Microsoft Mobile with Microsoft Mobile Services

Microsoft Mobile is hardware manufacturing company located not in REDMOND but in Espoo, Finland.

That Microsoft acquired Nokia's devices and services divison is knwn although details finalized this April 2014.

Microsoft Mobile will:
  • Design Develop
  • Manufacture
  • Distribute Mobile Phones
  • Smart Phones
  • Tablet Computers
  • Accessories
The 'Lumia' and the low end 'ASHA(Hope in Samskruta aka Sanskrit)' are owned by Microsoft.

I am not sure if 'Asha' can compete with 'Akash' which traces its DNA to INDIA?

In any case, I wish good luck to Microsoft Mobile.

Azure European Services disrupted

Follow the links to this event for which no known cause has been attributed. Probable problems with their center in Ireland.

As of now things might have been repaired.

On the preview site there are no red flags. Protection Status