11 Aug 2011

AA Rates Calculator For Windows Phone 7

16 November 2011: This application has had a major update, see the details in this post

marketplace-tileOne of the most popular posts on my website is the AA Rate calculation spreadsheet I built in 2008. The goal of the spreadsheet is you provide the details about your vehicle and it tells you what the AA Rate for your vehicle is. So I decided to rebuild this for Windows Phone 7!

This was a lot of fun because it has some complex issues (matrixes of values) which had to be solved, so that tickled my developer brain.

This also allowed me the opportunity to update the calculations since they change every so often which is important for you!

An interesting thing that I learnt with this release is that the official/documented calculations is NOT equal to what the AA online calculator does. So there is an option now called “quirks mode” which runs it equal to the online calculator where if you turn it off, it runs it using the documented mode!

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11 Aug 2011

Kicker - My first WP7 app

Update: This application has been retired - it was my first game (ever) and my first WP7 app and so it was for my son and for my own learning and experimentation. My son has moved on to Angry Birds, I have more impressive apps and as a game, well it wasn't going anywhere. With all that I have retired it away.

smallmobiletile

Kicker, is my first WP7 application and is a simple time waster. I don’t want to use the term game, because there is no challenges. Touch the screen and unless you are unlucky, you score a goal.

This was written mainly for my young son, who had a game like this on my old Nokia 5800 and he loved it so really just porting it across.

You can get it online RIGHT NOW!!

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26 Jul 2011

Are you using the .NET name correctly & other interesting brand info

Not talking about the technology but various identifiers in the .NET world are often abused. I know this is SUPER pedantic of me, but it is something I come across watching lots of presentations. Getting this right shows a level of polish and knowledge, and getting it wrong shows that either you not paying attention, don’t know what you are talking about or just don’t care.

So here are some brand/naming problems I see:

  • .NET – I often see people use .net or .Net, the correct capitalisation is ALL caps. There is NO excuse for this one, just do it right.
  • .NET Framework 4 – With .NET 4, the marketing people dropped the .0 like we had with 2.0 or 3.5, so stop saying four-oh, it’s just 4.
  • Windows Phone 7 – It is Windows Phone 7, not Windows Mobile 7 (no such product) or Windows 7 Phone.
  • Microsoft Visual C♯ 2010 – I make this one often and call it C♯ 4, it is actually Microsoft Visual C♯ 2010.
  • Should you use ♯ or # with C♯ – either is acceptable. However Microsoft recommends the “Music Sharp Sign” for marketing material.
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate – That is the full product name. The issue I see often is people putting .NET in there, ala Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2010. There is NO .NET in the name. There was a release in 2002 called Visual Studio .NET, but that was a specific release and is not the product name.
  • Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 – A lot of people are using the term MOSS to describe SharePoint Server. It is not MOSS in 2010. In 2007 it was Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, but the Office part was dropped for the 2010 release and the MOSS acronym along with it.
  • Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Foundation – Like MOSS above people love to use WSS for SharePoint Foundation. It’s not called that in 2010…. there isn’t even a W in the whole name now.
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Documentation – There is a very bad habit (I do it too) to call this MSDN. MSDN is not the help that is install on your machine with Visual Studio! MSDN is a website Microsoft runs for developers which has help on it and also a subscription service where you can get Microsoft software legally and cheap for development purposes. So while it is two things on the Internet, it is NOT on your machine.
  • MacLean – Thought I would just throw this one in, it’s my surname. It has a ‘a’ in the second position and a capital L. It is not Mclean, McLean, Maclean or ‘Hey you, stop kicking my dog…’ Smile with tongue out
26 Jul 2011

Community night in August

Important Notice for August 2011

Community night is normally the second Tuesday of the month, however since that is a public holiday it has been moved to Monday the 15th of August!

What is community night?

For those who do not know this is a FREE event that happens monthly where a variety of user groups get together at Microsoft's offices. User groups are not influenced by Microsoft, they just use the facilities. User groups that are there on a regular basis:

  • Information Worker: Technical focused SharePoint & Office
  • Business User Workshops: User group that looks at the issues that face power users in enterprises. This month the understanding where a portal ends and CRM begins.
  • Game Dev: One of the biggest with plenty of game developers & artists getting together.
  • JavaScript: For all you JS fixes
  • Mobi: My good friend Rudi Grobler hosts this group focused on mobile (iPhone, Android, Symbian and Windows Phone)
  • UX: For those who understand there is more than 16 colours
  • Architecture: For architects of any IT systems!
  • Languages: For developers who are interested in learning the pros & cons of other languages.
  • SQL: The fantastic Gail Shaw runs the best SQL user group anywhere!

There is also FREE beer, cool drinks & pizza!

Where is Microsoft’s offices?

Microsoft Bryanston Office
3012 William Nicol Drive
Bryanston
2191 Johannesburg
South Africa

Click here for map and more details.

Times?

Various user groups starts at different times. I think the first UG kicks off at 16:00 and it can run to 21:00.
However depends if you attend multiple UG, stay for passage conversation, etc…

So up to you, I have nights where I arrived after 17:30 and other times left at 18:00, no pressure!

26 Jul 2011

Time to move from YallaApps

Stormtrooper: Let me see your identification.
Obi-Wan: [with a small wave of his hand] You don't need to see his identification.
Stormtrooper: We don't need to see his identification.
Obi-Wan:These aren't the droids you're looking for.
Stormtrooper:These aren't the droids we're looking for.
Obi-Wan: He can go about his business.
Stormtrooper: You can go about your business.
Obi-Wan: Move along.
Stormtrooper: Move along... move along.

This memorable quote above is exactly what is happening at the moment, South African Windows Phone 7 developers are being told to move along away from YallaApps, which has helped us to the official Microsoft AppHub, as it is now available here.

Should you do it though is an important question? The answer – YES!

YallaApps is like when Luke decided to leave Tatooine, there is nothing there for him. Yalla has even confirmed this to me:

image

What about the money you paid to Yalla (or your free $100 credit) – well if you migrate before 20 August 2011 you will  be refunded Smile SO GO GO GO!

Last and importantly, how do you do this?

Please note that there is a deadline to complete this process by August 2011 15 September 2011 (edit: this date was extended, and thus the update! More details are the DPE blog) in order to be eligible for a refund.

  1. Go to http://create.msdn.com. Click on ‘Join to submit your apps & games’ on the left. (You must be a member of a Windows Phone Marketplace supported country, as indicated by your country code – list provided in FAQ).
  2. Click ‘join now’ and sign in using your Windows Live ID.
  3. In the ‘personal details’ step, provide the same email address you used when registering with  Yalla Apps.
  4. In the ‘my profile’ step, choose a display picture and enter a Gamertag. This is required to enable your account for Xbox LIVE development.
  5. In the remaining steps, pay the registration fee using a credit card from one of the Windows Phone Marketplace supported countries (list provided in FAQ). Only the 1st year’s registration fee will be eligible for reimbursement.
  6. Login to your Yalla Apps account and go to http://www.yallaapps.com/dashboard/apphubmigration-refund. Fill the form and tick the option ‘I have created a new AppHub account and wish to cancel my Yalla Apps account’, and click ‘Update’.
  7. Remove all your Apps from Yalla Apps and re-publish them normally to AppHub.
  8. In case you had Paid Apps on Yalla Apps, please send an email to support@yallaapps.com to notify Yalla Apps once you have removed your Apps so that your final payout can be processed.
  9. You will receive the final payout of all amounts due to you from Paid App sales from Yalla Apps within 2 months after you have deleted all your Apps from Yalla Apps. Your payout amount must exceed US $25 in order for the payment to be processed. The payout will be conducted via PayPal or MoneyBookers, according to the payout details you have specified on your user profile. In case of any questions regarding pending payouts, kindly send an email to support@yallaapps.com .
  10.   Within 2 months of registering on the App Hub, your registration fee will be reversed on your credit card, if you correctly followed all the instructions. You can review your credit card charges at the Microsoft Billing and Account Management website by following the instructions here.
12 Jul 2011

YallaApps - Delays in submission!

Updated: This has been resolved, see comments below for details from YallaApps.

YallaApps, the company that submit Windows Phone Apps in parts of the world Microsoft forgets, has a BIG problem at the moment and to make things worse they are not talking about it publically!

In short something is borked between YallaApps and App Hub (the Microsoft submission side) and as such there is a hold on all submissions! So the very purpose for it has stopped, and there is not a mention on the blog or site about this. Very poorly done Yalla!

How did I find out? I emailed them because after 5 days my app hadn’t been submitted! Below is their response.

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11 Jul 2011

Yalla - do it now!

Update 26 July 2011: Note that once you have done this you must move off of YallaApps to AppHub by 20 August 2011 or you will not get refunded. See this post for details on how to do that

yalla appsThe single reason I don’t tell people to buy Windows Phone 7 devices in South Africa – no market place. This issue for users means a 3rd rate experience on the device compared to other smart phones. For developers this was an issue, because it meant we couldn’t get our phones unlocked and we couldn’t publish… this WAS an issue for developers.

Now we developers have YallaApps, a service to allow developers where Microsoft doesn’t have a marketplace to develop and publish apps. It is a good but slow service, but today is not about Yalla, today is about you.

As a South African, you can signup for YallaApps (no phone needed) and get

  • $100 (about R800) worth of credits for free
  • Your phone unlocked (if/when you get one)
  • A free developer account (value $100) when the marketplace arrives

All you need to do is signup – it takes 5 minutes. My suggestion, regardless if you have a phone now or not or if you plan to develop an app – DO IT NOW! Get those free benefits banked for later so that if you do decide one day it costs you nothing!

07 Apr 2011

DevDays - The event for Microsoft Developers

imageIt’s that time of year again, it is DevDays time again which is the premier conference from Microsoft for developers! This year it is a very different beast from previous years:

  • Cost: For the second year, you’ll need to pay. This year it is R350 and that is excellent value for the event.
  • Cape Town first: It kicks off in Cape Town this year on May 24th and then moves to Johannesburg after that on may 26th!
  • Johannesburg new venue: We are at Gallagher Estate this year! Very excited about the venue!
  • No Durban Sad smile 
  • Hash tag from day one! See complaining to Cliff on Twitter does work so now we can all hash with #DevDaysSA!
  • No SharePoint – I can’t remember a DevDays without SharePoint, but we have so many other awesome SharePoint options now (Information Worker, SharePoint Saturdays etc…) it is good to have some balance.

There is three tracks so you may want to brush up on how to pick good sessions (short answer, mine Winking smile) plus their is special slots for student & community sessions which really excites me to see new presenters getting big stage time!

I am also very glad that BBD Software (previously known as BB&D) is a major sponsor this year!

You can signup, get more details and engage on the official site at: http://www.microsoft.com/southafrica/devdays/

Agenda:

  • End-to-end software testing with Team Foundation Server and Visual Studio
    • Level: 200
      Speakers: Ahmed Salijee & Colin Dembovsky
      Visual Studio 2010 offers a wide range of software testing capabilities: manual testing, automated UI testing, database testing, low-level unit testing and even performance testing tools capable of simulating thousands of active users. It also provides support for test case management, defect tracking as well as configuring and running your tests in virtual and physical environments. But how do you know which tools to choose for your project? This session will, via a demo scenario, walk you through the various testing capabilities to assist you with the most effective use of Visual Studio 2010's testing capabilities. This session will be useful to developers as well as various tester roles including functional, performance and automation.
  • An end-to-end experience of Windows Phone 7 development
    • Level: 200
      Speaker: Rudi Grobler
      An end-to-end walk through for developing Windows Phone 7 applications using Silverlight
  • Blend: Wiring it all together
    • Level: 400
      Speaker: Shane Morris
  • A lap around Internet Explorer 9 for web developers
    • Level: 200
      Speaker: Simon Wilkinson
      Internet Explorer 9 adds new support for HTML5, CSS3 and many other new web standards, and this is the place to find out all about them. Not only will we learn about those, but we'll take a dive into the work the engineering team has done to make the browser faster through it's new JavaScript engine, the work they've done to ensure that the same mark-up works across all browsers and how hardware acceleration will make your site run faster, without any changes to your code!
  • Azure: Development from scratch
    • Level: 200
      Speaker: Gareth Jane
      The Windows Azure platform is a flexible cloud-computing platform which allows developers to rapidly create highly scalable software applications. This session will introduce developers to the various services and components of the Windows Azure Platform. We will create a very simple application on this platform, especially focusing on the areas which distinguish development on Azure from traditional application development
  • ASP.NET web development with MVC
    • Level: 400
      Speaker: Brent Samodien
      Join us in this session and discover the new features in ASP.NET MVC3 and what scenarios you can target with it. Learn more about the improved HTML Helpers and the new updates to Controller/Action/Method that make your code cleaner. Also, explore the richer URL routing and URL route mapping. We will also show how you can use alternative View Engines, including Razor.
  • A website's life: From sketch to publishing
    • Level: 200
      Speaker: Simon Wilkinson
      WebMatrix is a new, free, fully featured, easy to install web development tool that helps you build ASP.NET and PHP websites and perform validation, SEO optimization and one-click publishing. My favourite feature however is a new script syntax for ASP.NET called Razor, which will help you create dynamic websites incredibly easily. We will spend some time sketching/wireframing our website, doing visual design work in Expression Design and then experiencing the rich development toolset in WebMatrix.
  • Let's get ready for the cloud: Building your applications so they
    are cloud ready
    • Level: 400
      Speaker: Robert MacLean
      In a world where you hear people talking about the cloud, here are some guidelines on how to start building and structuring applications that will be easy to migrate to the Azure platform.
  • Code First in entity framework
    • Level: 200
      Speaker: Brent Samodien
      Code First has been a great success with customers, and in this talk, we'll take a deep dive into how it works and talk about its upcoming RTM (Q1 2011). You'll see how Code First uses convention over configuration to improve developer productivity. Its flexibility allows for either automatic database provisioning or the ability to work with an existing database. We'll be demoing features beyond the initial RTM, such as Migrations support, and we'll also talk about the roadmap for Code First going forward
  • Silverlight 5: The Future
    • Level: 200
      Speaker: Shane Morris
  • Exploring Windows Azure storage
    • Level: 400
      Speaker: Gary Hope
      Examine each of the foundation storage capabilities of Windows Azure, Blobs, Tables and Queues. Discover how to create storage accounts; upload and retrieve blobs and blob metadata; create, update and query tables; and create a simple service that uses a message queue for communication
  • LightSwitch basics: Building your first LightSwitch application
    • Level: 200
      Speaker: Robert MacLean
      Visual Studio LightSwitch is the simplest way to build business applications for the desktop and cloud. LightSwitch simplifies the development process by letting you concentrate on the business logic, while LightSwitch handles the common tasks for you. In this demo-heavy session, you will see, end to end, how to build and deploy a data-centric business application using LightSwitch. After that you will discover what is under the hood to better understand the architecture of a LightSwitch application. Finally you will learn how you can use Visual Studio 2010 Professional and Expression Blend 4 to customize and extend its UI and Data layers for when the application's requirements grow beyond what is supported by default
  • Kung Fu Silverlight: Tips and architectural patterns and practices
    • Level: 400
      Speaker: Dave Russell
      Learn about the rewards of using RIA Services together with development patterns, such as the Service Providers, Single Responsibility pattern, Commanding, user Interactions, Messaging, ChildWindows, Design Time Data, Testing, and developing using Model-View/View- Model (MVVM) pattern, to build Silverlight and Windows Phone apps. Hear the top tips you need to know for building data driven Silverlight apps that solve real world problems.

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