Monday, June 30, 2014

Get Azure Technology to your organization with Windows Azure Pack

Windows Azure Pack provides enterprise or service providers to reap the benefits of Azure technology running on their own data centers rather than the Microsoft Azure Cloud Services. The Azure services can be deployed to current infrastructure which includes existing IT investments.
It is in fact the same technology developed for Microsoft Datacenters (built on System Center and Windows Servers) neatly packaged to run on customer infrastructure which may be an enterprise or a Service (hosting) Provider. In effect the customer would enjoy the same capabilites that he would on Microsoft Azure Datacenter.

The Windows Azure Pack includes:
Customer Portal
Admin Portal
Customer and Admin Services
Source: The white paper

Windows Azure Pack is available free if you are a customer for Microsoft's Windows Servers and System Center.

Read more on this by downloading the white paper 'Windows Azure Pack White Paper' from here:
http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/products/windows-azure-pack/default.aspx#fbid=CIGjpV6qkDc
Download the datasheet from the same site.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Get rid of the Trust Media View malware right now

Well, Trust Media View started impacting my browser on my Windows 7 Ultimate x64 bit machine. It's kind of ugly and visually nauseating. The people who made it must be pretty dumb. I do not see why they need to show many of the pop-ups on just one page.


I tried Microsoft Security Essentials and it reported no problem. Well should I believe this?
I am not sure how good is MES when it comes to malware removal.

Should XP users worry about Microsoft turning off the spigot to provide malware support to XP. Probably it is no big deal.

Finally I tried to disable the add-on and fortunately I found an entry for it in Manage Add-ons window show here.


I just disabled it and then restarted the computer. It does seem that Trust Media View ads have disappeared. I wonder why this screen cannot be modified to remove it.

If it comes back, I am going to do a System Restore. I am getting pretty good at this!
Mahalo

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Web App Template - 3: Convert your blog to a Windows Phone App

In the previous post here,

http://hodentek.blogspot.com/2014/06/web-app-template-2.html

the procedure to download and install the Web App Template was described with a few of the key features.

If you do not have access to Microsoft Visual Studio 2013 Express Update 2, you could still create a project based on Web App Template at the Windows App Studio Beta site here:
http://appstudio.windows.com/Projects

When you are at the above site click of Start new project button shown on this page.


The 'Create' page opens as shown.

 

Click on Web App Template.

A project template will be displayed. It is now pointing to the Microsoft site (BaseURL: http://m.microsoft.com) and is at a stage where AppBar Buttons (remember that Web App template adds the required items for a Store Application) are configured.

  • Click on Create
You can change the Base URL to point to your site by editing the Base URL text. I tried out my blog, http://hodnetek.blogspot.com by typing it in place of m.microsoft.com. I also provided a App tile, HTEK_WAT.



I now click Save to save this information. As soon as I click Save, the preview on this web page changes as shown.



If you have touch sensitive screen you can scroll down the screen as well.

Click on the button with icon of refresh and you will see that button is also pre-configured.



Click on the one marked plus(+) next to refresh. The icon for 'accept' is applied (that is you will get a AppBar button 'accept').

If you want to delete it click on the 'Icon' image.



You can add a suitable 'tile'. Click on Tiles to display.


Let us say We pick the Flip Template which requires two images, a 150x150 pixels and another 340x340px.

Click on the Small Image 150x150px shown in grey.
This opens a page where you can access an image that can be added to your phone application (although this is a Store Application) you can only download code for Windows Phone app.



Click on Computer to get an image stored on your computer. Choose a image file (it has to be exactly same size), you will end up in an error otherwise.

 

The bigger image is screwed up. Let us push on.

 

Click Save.
Click Finish. Well. We can always come back and refine.

Click on Generate.
You get the following dialog displayed. It is really for WEB and not for Windows. Well and Good.



Click Windows Phone 8 and click Generate.

 


You can download the file WAT80APP.zip to your computer.

If you do not have VS2013 then may be you should go to PublishInfo tab and follow it up to deploy to your Phone (device).

That is all there is to it.

In fact, if do a Bing Search to your Blog Site URL, it pretty much does the same thing. There may be slight differences. You can check and see the Home and Refresh AppBar buttons are functional.

Describing the config.json for this will be in another post.

Mahalo




 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Clock is ticking for XP support

Anti-malware support is a real blessing in this world of rogue merchants. Closing the curtains on XP also means, support that includes anti-malware support. If you are still using XP keep track.

http://www.10zig.eu/static/xp-malware/

Visit this site to take a look at the count-down clock.
This was the count when I looked it up last:



 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Are you developing Store Apps for Windows 8.1 or Windows Phone 8.1?

Creating tiles, logos, icons, and images of all widths and heights with acceptable resolution becomes a task that will take up time. Sometimes the incorrectly sized images are not accepted.

However there is a easier trick to get all the images you want by just uploading a single image and get all the required sizes with appropriate naming very easily.

Just upload your image to the following site and it will generate all the required images for app development, Windows or Windows Phone 8.1. Make sure you submit a high resolution image:

http://wat-docs.azurewebsites.net/Tools

I submitted this image and I got all thee needed ones for app development in a bundle.

Image submitted: 160x160 Pixels  Resolution: 253 x 253
Images generated by the tool:

 

Visual Studio 2013 gets a new upgrade bump

Visual Studio 2013 is now in Upgrade 3 CTP2. Recent upgrade was Visual Studio 2013 Upgrade 2 about which I have been blogging recently and using it in my explorations. No stopping Microsoft's relentless pursuit, Visual Studio '14' is also in CTP.

Read here:
http://visualstudiomagazine.com/articles/2014/06/03/visual-studio-2014-ctp.aspx
I will comeback to VS2014 CTP later and any way it will be released in 2015.

Let me summarize the Upgrade 3 which is in CTP now. For one thing the upgrade activity has been hectic:
  • Update 2: May 12
  • Update 3, CTP 1: May 22
  • Update 3, CTP 2: June 6
Upgrade 3 CTP 1 is supposed to be a minor upgrade. You can download the CTP from here:
http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=42967

Upgrade CTP 2 is still not a 'go live' version but just bug fixes in the previous CTP.
Download Update 3 CTP2 from here:
http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=43130
------------------------
Download file details of Update 3 CTP2. You only install the ones you want. I skip the tfs, I am a singleton.

Date Published: 6/5/2014
File Name:
rtools_setup_arm.exe(24.5 MB)
rtools_setup_x64.exe(82.4 MB)
rtools_setup_x86.exe(58.4 MB)
tfs_express.exe (791 KB)
tfs_server.exe (798 kB)

Full description of VS 2013 Update 3 CTP 2 can be found here:
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2933779/en-us

Monday, June 23, 2014

Web App Template - 2

The main features of Web App Template were described in my previous post here:
http://hodentek.blogspot.com/2014/06/what-is-web-app-template.html

In this post a few more details will be described starting with the installation of the template. You need to have at least Visual Studio 2013 Express for Windows Update 2 for working with Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 projects that you can take to the Windows Store.

Install the following two installers from CodePlex site here:
https://wat.codeplex.com/releases/view/120339

These are two files with the extension  .vsix  for Visual Studio 2013 Express for Windows or other supported software. There is one each for Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1.

After downloading (only Windows 8.1 was downloaded here) double click the extension icon to start installation. The installer dialog box is displayed as shown.


Click Install and it will proceed without a hitch. When you are installing make sure that all Visual Studio projects are closed.

Launch Visual Studio from its short-cut and click File | New Project... and you will see the standard project templates as shown.


Search for templates and the recently installed template will show up.



Provide a name and click OK. Now you have project based on Web App Template.

The next time you try to create a new project, the Web App Template will be available for you to choose as shown.


Here is the structure of the project with folders and files.


It is the config.json file that you need to tweak implementing features you want for your Store App. Note that this is licensed under Apache License 2.0.
 

OneDrive goes overdrive to provide 15GB free storage

Smart Phone cameras, videos, documents and apps have created an unprecedented appetite for storage more than ever before. Both free and paid storage options have surfaced. Besides storing the stuff the companies like Microsoft and Google have other stuff from which they want to make money. Ideally they want all your stuff in one place and you use the other services to work with your content assets. They all provide syncronization; upload/download features and sharing.

Beginning July 2014 Microsoft increases free storage from 7G to 15GB, an equalizer-move to match Googles 15 GB. The paid storage of Office 365 users can now look forward to 1TB instead of the 20GB, that's a big jump. The paid storage limits of non-Office users is also increased.:
Read the full story here of this post,"Massive increase to OneDrive storage plans: 15 GB free for everyone, 1 TB for Office 365 subscribers"
https://blog.onedrive.com/new-onedrive-storage-plans/

Apps that work with OneDrive:
https://onedrive.live.com/about/en-us/apps-that-work-with-onedrive/

As of 13 March 2014, storage plans offered by Google are as follows(source: Wikipedia)
Storage
Price
15 GB Free
100 GB         US$ 1.99 per month
1 TB              US$ 9.99 per month
10 TB            US$ 99.99 per month
20 TB            US$ 199.99 per month
30 TB            US$ 299.99 per month
Free storage may come with some restrictions as to image resolution, video size, document type etc.Of course if you are paying you will certainly read the fine details.
 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

What is a Web App Template?

Web App Template takes your Web App as the core for a full featured Store App for Windows that includes versions 8 and 8.1. Jump start and  convert your website into a Windows Web App. Of course Windows Phone App is also possible if you download the phone related template.

It is implemented as a Visual Studio template that you can install as a one-click installer. With this installed you can create a project of type 'Web App template'. All you need to do is to make changes to the config file (in JSON format) with your application values and voila! you have a Store application. You must give Internet permissions to your app.

The Windows Store app is built during run time taking your Web App and the configuration data. This image is sourced from Microsoft Web Site.


The template allows you to add (or hide) the required items to perform as Store App embellishing with back button, navigation, Offline support etc. Your Web app will also be touch friendly & responsive giving it all the frills of a Store App.

These extra things can be added to make your web app as a full fledged store app.

  • Back Buttons
  • Nav Bar / App Bar
  • Charm Integration
  • Live Tiles
  • Secondary Tiles
  • Offline support
  • Visual management
  • URL Control
  • Notifications
  • Authentication Integration
  • Logging and error handling
  • etc.
Where do you get this template?

It is not part of the Visual Studio Express 2013 Windows Update 2 download. You need to bring it in separately. There are some requirements:
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.
You can install from here:
https://wat.codeplex.com/releases/view/120339

I could get the template installed and start working with it in VS2013 Express for Windows.

This informative video describes WebView in the context of a web application and the Web App Template.
http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/Content/ViewContent.aspx?et=7106&m=7097&ct=26120

Look forward to more posts on this topic here: http://hodentek.blogspot.com

Saturday, June 21, 2014

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) 2014 starting June 28

 
The conference for educators kicks off on June 28 and wraps up on July 1. The theme is Connected Learning-Connected World. Quite appropriate and fits the bill. Tier one sponsors are Microsoft, Pearson, Samsung, and Smart. Besides the people who want to learn these are the major stake holders. This is an opportunity to create new clients for your smart phone, tablets, utility software, network, media and what not.

This is what the conference is about in their own words:

"Part idea incubator and part collaborative workspace, ISTE’s conference and expo brings educators of all types and grade levels together to share discoveries and develop solutions for their greatest challenges—all while connecting to a global network of education resources. When you register for ISTE 2014, you’ll get:
•Four full days brimming with robust, inspirational professional learning opportunities that will help you build the skills to support digital age learning
•Unlimited networking opportunities with nearly 18,000 educators, education leaders and corporate representatives from around the globe
•Three powerful keynote addresses from ed tech leaders and experts
•The opportunity to choose from hundreds of sessions in a variety of formats, including lectures, BYODs and hands-on learning environments
•Access to a massive expo hall featuring the latest ed tech products and services from more than 500 companies and 4,500 industry reps
•One-year standard membership to ISTE
"

We all learn and everyone must. However, learning comes with cost and digital learning should make it a lot cheaper. However, creating content to feed learners also has a cost and who should bear this cost? Digital learning or 'distance learning' is a blessing for those who lack means. Internet has made it a lot easier to reach out to the disadvantaged but still it has its limitations.

Read this commentary in Physics Today, June 2014 about the large scale experiments with Massive Open Online Courses(MOOCs):
"Massive open online courses and the future of education" to get an idea of where digital learning is heading and the challenges it faces.

 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Scene at Microsoft Store in Ala Moana Shopping Center

Ala Moana Shopping Center is in Honolulu, Hawaii. It's mostly tourist and mostly Japanese tourists but the folks are all tech savvy and both Apple Store and Microsoft store has large clientele. In fact they are opposite each other since Microsoft wanted it this way and Apple had its roots planted years ago.

I went there to check out the Surface Pro 3. It's very impressive. The kick stand is cool and the pen is great to make annotations on whatever, may be a document or even a map. The guy who explained the features was quite good and knew the stuff.

Here is a summary of specs of general interest.


I went around the shop to see what's brewing. Here are some shots taken today.

Surface Pro 3 is the center piece with its cool detachable keyboards in red and blue.

 
Young gamers here!


Working on soccer
 
This is the youngest customer today fiddling with the game controls

 
Of course, you should check out Cortana


 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Fire Phone is Amazon's Shopping Mall in the palm of your hand

Fire phone is finally out. The pricing is not what I thought it would be. Many of the features are available in many other phones but not the 3D effect or, what is known as Dynamic Perspective, a view created using multiple camera output to stitch a 3D perspective, a dynamic hologram.
Here is picture that explains static and dynamic perspectives (the details may not be exactly as shown but the principle is):



Using 4 low resolution, ultra low power cameras the image is synthesized in real-time (perhaps sucking lot more power than the non 3D cameras). There are, I assume two other cameras for the usual photo/video capture. In days to come we will see how the 3D effect is leveraged to make the phone more attractive for buyers.

The effect as seen in the videos (MPEG-4 video file (.mp4)) is quite interesting. Here is a video downloaded from Amazon Site. This may require you to view in IE 10 or Google Chrome.

video

The Z-axis is not out of the paper but as if you peer into the device and the 3D effect is inside of the camera.

Presently only AT&T is the designated carrier and the purchase of camera gives you free Premium membership (3-Yr free). Fire phone also has Firefly technology providing access to mountain of information with one-click.

Fire phone, built on Android OS,  out of the box has a large number of apps and developers will creating more for which Amazon will be releasing it code base.

Remove the OffersWizard malware as soon as you notice it

This is an obnoxious malware that somehow gets into your computer (even inadvertently entering the address of an unknown, untrusted URL). The free stuff It promises are not worth the trouble.

 It manifests in the form of putting long rectangular pop-up ads on four sides of your browser besides adding many other obnoxious features like page turnover effects etc. as shown:

 
 
On noticing this you should immediately take some action. Tried to cleanse with these steps in IE 11.0 but did not seem to remove this malware.
 
 
Tweaked the Advanced features some more as shown:
 
 
But this did not help. Also tried Microsoft Security Essentials which validated that the PC is clean, but did not help.
 
 
Finally, did a System Restore to an earlier date and this seemed to have fixed the problem.
 

 
After restore the IE displayed the following message:
 

The lesson is if the Internet Options | Advanced (tab) | Browsing node changes (mostly reset) does not fix perhaps you should restore the computer to an earlier date. You should take steps to remove this malware as soon as you notice it. Time is the essence.

Microsoft Security Essentials is a free download available for Windows 7 and Windows 8 OS. I also found that trying to use the Manage add-ons is quite ineffective.

Download here:
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/security-essentials-download
 


 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Amazon Holophone imminent


Apple, Google watch out! You too, Microsoft.

Holophone is my concoction, but it is a phone that render 3D objects using perhaps 'Holograms'. It is not just a 3D phone but a phone with a new twist. Do you need 3D glasses, the answer appears to be no as it is not the run of the mill 3D rendering.

Well, Amazon can sell it cheap and it can be at your door steps in a matter of days starting June 18!
If the price is marked right, it could pose serious challenges.

Here are some pics from selected sites:


Source:  Insideradius.com

Source: Gadgets.ndtv.com
 


BusinessInsider.com

Source: finanzen.freenet.de

Monday, June 16, 2014

Open Source mobile app development with PhoneGap

It is now possible to work with PhoneGap on Windows using PhoneGap Developer App available from the Windows Store. PhoneGap is a free, open source framework based on the Open Source Apache Cardova project that allows developing mobile apps using standardized Web APIs.You can create apps using HTML, CSS and Javascript. PhoneGap bundles up your code for the device of your choice.

You start here:
http://phonegap.com/

PhoneGap Developer app can be used to develop both Windows Phone 8 app as well as the soon to arrive Windows Phone 8.1 store app. With PhoneGap you have full access to the PhoneGap APIs and there is no need to install platform SDKs, registering devices etc.

Get the information guide relevant to your platform from here:
http://docs.phonegap.com/en/edge/guide_platforms_index.md.html
Watch video here for additional motivation:

Friday, June 13, 2014

Electric imp and the Internet of Things

Internet of Things is the next big tsunami to hit the world. The numbers quoted are staggering. There are lots of players, big and small building up their stuff.

The Electric Imp is a platform which has all the necessary features:
  • Hardware
  • Software
  • OS
  • APIs
  • Cloud Service

With these you get all the well known capabilities (Cloud Mantra 1:01):
  • Intelligence
  • Flexibility
  • Scalability
Electric Imp has several models, this model (imp001) has 6 I/O and works with Wi-Fi(802.11 b/g/n) with a 32-bit ARM Cortex M3 Processor. Programmability is via Squirrel language, a light weight, object oriented language. The physical size is small, 24mm x 32mm x 2.1 mm.



You can make API calls to the device. Here is what API's can do for you:

"The Electric Imp API provides a set of classes and global objects with which imp code may access local hardware and remote cloud functionality. This API augments the Squirrel Standard Library which provides non-imp-specific functionality. For more general information about the Squirrel language, see Learning Squirrel."

Read more about Squirrel language here:
http://squirrel-lang.org/

The company is young with seasoned warriors who have left the likes of Apple and Google. Hey! that's a plus+.

Read some background information on this one year old company here:
http://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1261758

More on Electric imp here:
http://electricimp.com/product/

Here is stuff from a gallery of products using Electric Imp:


Well, these may make you think, do we really want to light up a lamp from the cloud or a lock that can be activated via Wi-Fi? But what is important is if it can do this, it can do lot more.
Imagination is the limit.

Most of the images are from Electric Imp site.

Disclosure: This is an independent post from Hodentek and not supported by any organization
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