Sunday, May 29, 2016

Google Firebase Mobile Platform

In 2014 Google bought Firebase and got a foot in the real-time database related business. Firebase provided the real-time database back-end.

Firebase database besides being real-time, is secure, cloud hosted. It  is a No-SQL database and has login service accessible via REST API with login service.

Google has built the mobile platform that includes Firebase real-time database. Presently Firebase is Google's mobile platform for developing high quality apps, grow user base and make money. The following image shows the various components to develop, grow and earn money.


If you are interested you can start here for a free ride:

This will provide you with tools and infrastructure to build better apps. As you see from the image above, Google Firebase Analytics is at the center; a free and unlimited analytics solution.

Start honing your skill here:

You get the 'Spark' grade account which is free. From here you have option to upgrade.

How does Firebase stack up against Azure Mobile platform? Right now we cannot compare them as Azure is multi-faceted and a highly developed  platform.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

What do Jaipur(India), Barcelona(Spain), Hamburg(Germany) have in common?

CISCO recently announced that Jaipur will be the first, Smart+Connectedtrade, Community Lighthouse City in South Asia. This credential has already been assigned to a number of cities world wide, Kansas, Barcelona, hamburg, Adelaide etc.

Jaipur will be getting the huge global network and channel capabilities of Cisco. This is only a part of the Digital India program.

Lighthouse program will be managed by a group to bring in the next gen technologies to this ancient city impacting 3.5 million residents and the over 40 million tourists that visit and engage with this community. The group will consist of CISCO, Qualcomm, GE and 3M which will launch the innovation center operated by Genpact.

Jaipur Development Authority will be a key player in demonstrating Jaipur becoming a global model of urban development with all the smart city infrastructure that will be developed.

Read more here:

Find out more about Lighthouse Cities here:

Here is a video of Barcelona SmartCity

Here is the video of Smart Hamburg

Monday, May 23, 2016

Get Node.js tools for Visual Studio

Node.js development is very versatile and you can build scalable network apps. It has great features and if you use Visual Studio Node.js, it  pairs with it very well.

Here are the features that make Visual Studio powerful
  • Free and Open Source
  • Intelligent code completion
  • Advanced debugging and profiling
  • Integration with other VS Features

Node.js Tools supports:

  • Node.js
  • io.js
  • JavaScript
  • TypeScript
  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JSON
Start here to get your Node.Js tools (NTVS 1.1.1 VS2015.msi).

You do not have Visual Studio Community. OK. You can get the Visual Studio Community also from the same link above. Install it first.

I already have Visual Studio 2015 on my Windows 10 Pro laptop. I just need to install the tools.

Double clicking the msi installer file installs Node.js after you accept the Apache License terms.


When you complete the installation you get the Node.js app installed on your desktop.


Sunday, May 22, 2016

Johnny-Five robotics and IoT Platform

Johnny-Five is the JavaScript Robotics & IOT platform released by the Bocoup group. Johnny-Five is maintained by a growing number of talented developers.

What is Bocoup?
Bocoup  is a group that championed the cause of Open tools and WorkFlow. They really seems to have people with very varied and diverse talents to tackle web, data, and visualization.

How does Johnny-Five handle the Hello World (or Blink for that matter)?
It looks like 1-2-3 really.

1. Install Node.js(Preffeer 4.2.1 LTS)
2. Setup your board
3. Run: npm install johnny-five

What else is needed?

You also need to run the Firmata protocol for the controller board to communicate with the computer.
Interestingly Johnny-Five can handle over 30 different arduino compatible boards from the likes of Raspberry, Intel, Arduino, Sparkfun and many more.

This is very impressive indeed as each of these boards are handled by their vendors like Arduino, Intel and others.

How about non-arduino boards?

There are platform specific IO Plugins (for example, Galileo-IO plugin) .These plugins can speak the language of the platform as they implement Firmata compatible interfaces.

You will be hearing more about Johnny-Five in my blogs, here and here, keep reading....

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Must read whitepaper regarding AT&T and the IOT

Some people find it hard to define what the 'Internet of Things' means. It will be trivializing to say that IOT makes it easy to control your refrigerator or water your plants from your smart phone, etc. While IoT can do these things it has far wider scope and reach. Although IoT is a new buzz word, most of the items that are part of the IoT already existed. IoT came into existence when all/any of these were interconnected via Internet based communication services.

The diagnostics are as old as the problems that needed diagnozing and the sensors of various types were built to diagnose the problems (as a translating medium). This new awareness to wrap around Internet enablement around existing devices and problems and the great expectations of how the world view would change because of the enablement is what constitutes this appreciation.

In a sense, the major force behind this Internet based revolution is the advancement in communication technology and the major R&D investments to make this happen. It is no wonder some of the Internet providers such as AT& T would play a major role in this business.

Some of the details of how AT&T is involved in this growing Internet Based business are available in this White Paper in PDF format here (

These are some of the major IOT related activities vis-a-vis AT&T
  • The Connected Car opportunity
  • End-to-end Fleet Management
  • Transportation and Telematics
  • AT&T Smart Cities
  • AT&T Smart Grid
  • Supply Chain
Here are a couple of nice images copied from the white paper.

Connected Cars

 Fleet Management
 Connected City
 Supply Chain

Get SSMS 2016 and install to work with SQL Server 2016

This release of SSMS uses the Visual Studio 2015 Isolated shell and available in 11 languages.
The version number for this latest preview is: 13.0.14000.36

Here is the download link:

Here are major highlights including many bug fixes described in download site:
  • Improvement in the SSMS installer - to add human-readable error messages.
  • Improvement in the Stretch database wizard - to add support for predicates.
  • Improvement in the Always Encrypted Powershell commandlet - to add key encryption APIs.
  • Bug fix in the SSMS toolbar - to turn off IntelliSense if it has been disabled in the Tools > Options dialog.
  • Improvements and bug fixes in the Showplan comparison user interface - to reduce the spacing used by long query plans.
  • Numerous bug fixes in SSMS - to fix issues that caused SSMS to crash when exiting.
It takes a quite a bit of time to download (SSMS-Setup-enu, 834992KB) . When you run the application this is the first message you will get

Here are some screen shots of installation:

It takes quite a bit of time.

SSMS 2016 RC is an App in Windows 10

SQL Server 2016 Developer which is free is released. For a step-by-step procedure to install visit this link.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

SQL Server 2016 is going GA on June 1, 2016

Get ready to test out the database server deemed to be the ground-breaking version with numerous new features. It will be available in the near future. Get the free Developer's edition.

In Microsoft's own language,

"SQL Server 2016 seamlessly manages both relational and beyond relational (JSON, XML, Hadoop) data, seamlessly integrates structured data with Hadoop data, and seamlessly integrates on-premises data with cloud data"

It has best of both worlds, "relational and beyond relational).

SQL Server is ideally suited for:

  •     Mission critical intelligent applications delivering real-time operational intelligence by combining built-in advanced analytics and in-memory technology without having to move the data or impact end user performance. 
  •  Enterprise scale data warehousing with enhanced in-memory columnstore that increases query performance by over 100x vs disk based solutions. With SQL Server 2016, you can also access optimized MPP scale out software that can be combined with scale out appliance architecture with our Analytics Platform System (APS).
  • Applications requiring the highest levels of security with new Always Encrypted technology that protects your data at rest and in motion without impacting database performance. 
  • Comprehensive business intelligence solutions on mobile devices with an end-to-end mobile BI solution built-in that can deliver insights on any device. You can also manage all of your KPIs, mobile reports and traditional reports from a modern web portal. 
  • New big data solutions that require combining relational data with non-relational data with PolyBase technology built-in that allows you to query structured and unstructured data with the simplicity of T-SQL. 
  • Hybrid cloud solutions that can reduce storage costs, improve high availability and simplify IT operations with new Stretch Database technology. This keeps more of your historical data at your fingertips by transparently and securely stretching warm and cold OLTP data to Microsoft Azure on-demand without application changes. In addition, faster replicas can be placed in Azure to give you cost effective disaster recovery and backups.
Read this original article from Microsoft blog at MSDN.
Source and italicized test taken from the above article.

Get your free copy of SQL Server 2012 Developer edition and install it. Here are the screen shots of installation on a Windows 10 computer.

Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS) helps harnessing IIOT

Honeywell is a pioneer in automation, control instrumentation and services for a myriad of industries:
  • Oil and Gas, refining
  • Pulp and paper
  • Industrial power generation, distribution
  • Chemicals
  • Mining Industry
The list is endless. Honeywell Process Solutions(HPS) is new in the sense it is geared towards Digital Transformation. Recently it has made available the app (Honeywell Pulse) to address Industrial IOT (IIoT). This app helps plant managers, supervisors, and other connected personnel to stay connected irrespective of where they are. It provides metrics and tools to resolve issues directly with mobile devices resulting in timely resolution, improved efficiency and safety.

Read more here

Watch this video regarding Digital Transformation

Thursday, May 12, 2016

You want to develop Apple apps on Windows

Swift is the programming language for a number of Apple apps:
  • iOS
  • OS X
  • watchOS
  • tvOS
Swift is built on C and Objective-C languages but completely independent.

Well, you can use Swift for Windows (released April 30, 2016) available on CodePlex site. Swift for Windows is a free open source tool (Ms-Public License). The current version is Swift for Windows ver-1.0. It is presently for Windows 10 64-Bit computers and the only requirement is Visual C++ Redistributable for Windows 2015.

The download consists of the following:

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The next iPhone will be built in India

FOXCONN has been in talks with Indian Government to set up factories in India for manufacturing iPhones in India. This is a $10B facility that will be set up in the State of Maharashtra in Talegaon-Chakan and Khalapur locations according to Times of India.

Although the most populous democratic India has a large under the age 25 population the buying power is still not enough. However, if the phones can be manufactured and priced reasonably the market can be big. Forget about $499 etc. That will not fly.

Apple CEO Tim Cook appeared recetnly on CNBC to make the case. 

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Remote Labs and Internet of Things - Brief Review

IOT is also invading the class rooms. This article (What remote labs can do for you) in Physics Today April 2016, pp48-53 describes the many aspects of remote physics laboratories using the IOT. If you can monitor, you can also control and this would be a blessing to many places without physical resources to provide physics education. Of course this can be adopted to many other areas of science and technology. All this is possible because of mobile devices and the internet.

This post reviews some aspects of RL and some of the related mostly European resources.

Most smartphones already have a variety of sensors and most of them are connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi or cellular network.

Remote Laboratories (RL) are laboratory equipment connected to the Internet, the main enabler being the Internet of Things. Web applications are frequently used to connect Labs with students (or class rooms). Depending on the type of equipment, anywhere from Electron Microscope or telescope to routine motorized controls, this can be expensive or cheap.

Luis de la Torre, Juan Pedro Sanchez and Sebastian Dormido argue in this article that the remote labs are the most direct application of the Internet of Things in education.

Image from:

This field is expanding as can be witnessed by the number of conferences and meetings in the related area:
Multimedia in Physics Teaching and Learning

Remote Engineering and Virtual Instrumentation

Experiment International

Internet based Control Instrumentation

However, it remains to be answered whether RL can actually be a good substitute for live learning in schools and universities. As we are transitioning from reality to virtual reality, perhaps this is the way to go.

Watch this European Video

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Live tiles lost on Windows 10

Perhaps there was a recent update, but suddenly the Live Tiles on my Windows 10 Pro have completely disappeard. The Action Center is still there and there are some program icons on All Apps, but the Live Tiles display is gone. Microsoft Edge shortcut on taskbar also disppeared but was launched from All Apps which still works.

Here are some screen shots of Windows 10 with missing items. Of course I am using the Insiders' Preview version of the OS.

PS Mode/Tablet Mode works but the Live Tile is gone.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Apple SAP partnership, the right direction to move

I hope this applesa(a)p partnership is going to be as sweet as it sounds. Now that Hardware is going to be hardsell, the best approach is to go after services.

The desktop will be gone before we know and it will all be mobile.
The emphasis of this cooperation appears to be in the development of BI apps for the iPhones and iPads. According to this content Apple apps will use the SAP Hana Platform bankend for data and Apple will come up with appropriate SDK for building these apps that integrate the two company products. You will be hearing a lot about 'SAP Fiori for iOS' design language and the learning resource, 'SAP Academy for IOS'.

In all reality you can get away with apps for the tom-dick-harry kind to get their entertainment and satisfy their narcisstic leanings but to build apps that are enterprise worthy focused on security will be altogether different.

Read more here:
Apple/CISCO (Sept 2015): Business collaboration towards WebRTC

Apple/IBM (2014): Cloud, BigData and Business Analytics

Apple/Tesla (into the future): Siri(?), Infotainment(?), or iOT(?)

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Internet of Things: Visual Studio 2015 Community Edition and Arduino

Visual Studio 2015 Community is a one-stop tool by Microsoft for most things and you can use the same tool for working with Arduino/Intel line of IOT boards. However, a default installation of VS 2015 Community does not support these boardss. You need to install an extension available online as shown here:

Launch Visual Studio 2015 and click on Tools | Extensions and Updates...

In the search box for items online, type Arduino and Click search. Arduino IDE for Visual Studio get displayed in the results pane as shown.

 Click Download and the program starts downloading the VSIX (5.55.MB) installer.

It is now ready to install but accept the license terms and click Install.

It takes a little while to install and after it is installed you get the following message. You need to restart for changes to take effect,

Restart VS 2015 Community and there are items in Menu, Tools and Project where you can see that the installation has been effective.

vMicro menu item:
 New | Arduino Project

 Tools | Visual Micro

Now that you have installed the extension you can work with Arduino projects importing the Arduino 'Sketches' or creating from scratch. Protection Status