25 Nov 2015

The sad state of DVLUP (MS Tech Rewards)

If you are a Windows Phone developer you must know DVLUP. It was a program for developers developed by Nokia. The idea was simple. Do Windows Phone development related challenges, make your apps better thanks to them, get points, exchange points for rewards. Sounds good, does it not?

Interesting, but location dependent

The problem with DVLUP was that it was location dependent. It opened in my countries maybe two years after US and developers from other “more important” countries could participate. The challenges were also location dependent, showing me only a small subset in my country. But they were interesting. They made me implement some new stuff into my apps that I would not do otherwise. And I got points for doing them. When I wanted to exchange the points for some rewards, there were not that many available in my country. No phones or other hardware like in the US. A Steam gift card was the only useful think that I could get. But I did not mind, I liked doing the challenges.

And then Microsoft bought Nokia and slowly DVLUP turned into MS Tech Rewards.

23 Nov 2015

Going static: From Wordpress to Hugo

As you may have noticed, static site generation is the next big think. When I created this blog a few years ago I choose Wordpress, because it seemed like a good choice. Now I have grown tired with updating plugins, exchanging broken plugins for alternative ones and so one. So I decided to try to go the static site generation route to make the blog easier to maintain.

Jekyll? Octopress? FsBlog? Hugo!

There are quite a few static site generators out there, so choosing the right one is quite a challenge. Jekyll or Octopress seemed like the obvious choice. Jekyll requires Ruby, which is ok even on Windows, but Octopress had a few dependencies that I did not manage to get working on Windows. FsBlog seemed interesting, especially for me being a F# enthusiast, but frankly it is not yet very usable. So I choose Hugo.

06 Nov 2015

Enabling and disabling hardware devices with PowerShell

I have a built-in fingerprint reader on my Thinkpad notebook that I use for loging in almost exclusively. I say almost because since I upgraded to Windows 10 it sometimes just stops working when the computer wakes up from sleep. I found out that to make it work again I have to go to the Device Manager, find it, disable it and enabled it back again.

Of course, I was looking for a way to automate this, because I do not think that this issue will be fixed any time soon by Microsoft or Lenovo. I found out there is a [PowerShell cmdlet that expose device enumeration and management APIs][1]. Using this cmdlet I wrote a simple PowerShell script to the the work.

02 Nov 2015

Visual Studio extensions to make your life easier

This blog post is inspired by the [7 open-source Visual Studio Extensions to make your life easier][1] article. In the article Igal Tabachnik showed his favorite Visual Studio extensions, that were quite interesting. I also use a few Visual Studio extensions that make my life easier, so I decided to share.

21 Oct 2015

Lenovo, why do you screw Thinkpads with every update?

I have a Lenovo Thinpad T440s that I got about a year ago after a great experience with a company issued Lenovo Thinkpad T420 I used for about two and half years before that. I use it daily for on-site work, not so much at home, where I have a desktop computer. The T440s is thinner and lighter than T420, but otherwise everything is just worse. You cannot change RAM or disk so easily as on the T420, the keyboard and trackpoint are worse (the trackpoint does not have physical buttons like on the T420 but [I had it replaced for one that does][1]).

So why did I get the T440s? Because it seemed like a wise choice at the time, compared to the competition. It has a trackpoint, fingerprint reader, a keyboard with all the keys in the right place and it is, after all, a Thinkpad, a sturdy and reliable work machine build from good materials.

But not really. As every Thinkpad fan can tell you, the quality of Thinkpads is declining (even when not counting the plastic Thinkpad Edge computers that are not “real” Thinkpads). It seems like Lenovo simply does not care, making the hardware worse and software even more so. Gone are the superb ThinkVantage tools, only the Thinkpad update utility remained. And it often install software and drivers that can screw up your computer. It happened to many times, this is the latest incident.

17 Oct 2015

Highlighting letters in TextBlock in Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 8.1

In my current project I had to implement an interesting feature for both Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 8.1 project of the Universal app. The idea is simply. The users want to search for a movie. They enter a search term into a TextBox and a list of results is shown. The results should have the search term highlighted in them.

11 Sep 2015

Strange combination of HTTPS and Windows Phone 8.1 that can make your app and phone freeze

Last week I came upon a really bizarre problem that you may also find interesting. Lets start with a bit of context.

Tl;Dr: There seems to be a bug in Windows phone 8.1 that can make your app and the phone freezes when displaying images over HTTPS from some servers. Skip to [the end of this article][1] to see a video and get the source code.

The Windows Phone app

The app is a Windows Phone 8 shopping app for the biggest Czech online retailer. The main screen of the app contains quite a bit of data, usually about ten carousel with about 10 products and the list of main categories, so about 10 more images.

In worst case the main screen contains over 10 hundred images. It was quite a hassle to make it work well in the Windows Phone 8 SDK (no, rewriting a shopping about with about 70 screens to Windows Phone 8.1 is not feasible). But it work juts fine. Until last week.

10 Sep 2015

Microsoft’s Outlook on Android and iOS

To those who don’t know, Microsoft launched several months ago Outlook for Android and iOS phones and tablets. Microsoft’s new brand of Outlook have replace the failing “Outlook-branded apps” that are only available to the current subscribers of Office 365. The upheaval comes after Microsoft acquired San Francisco-based company, [Acompli.com][1].

Acompli is an “advanced email application that empowers professionals to do more with emails, full calendaring, easy file sharing and log all the important people in one email format.” The format supports Microsoft’s Office 365, Gmail and Google Apps.

21 Jul 2015

Problems getting paid from the Windows Store, again

I do not make much money on my Windows Phone apps (who does?), but when the payout time comes every couple of months, I expect the money to be delivered. Dealing with Microsoft, I should know better.

Failed payment

Last month I looked into the Dev Center and saw that my scheduled payment failed, telling me to contact the support. So I did. The result was one moth of exchanging email without a solution.

Dealing with support

The Microsoft employee told me that I am in a small group of people with this problem. I do not know if I have such a bad look always be in a problematic supposedly small group, or that the group are not that small. He told me that Microsoft will retry the payment. The payment was supposedly retried on June 24th and succeeded. So they say.

Great news, your June payout was returned due to an internal issue; however, the payout of 5264.17 CZK has been re-attempted and was successfully completed on June 24th. If you have not received the payout then please review this transaction with your bank. Please let me know if you have any further questions.

I never got the money. The employee asked me a few times if I got the money and then resigned, telling me that it is my problem and I should check with my bank. Of course I checked with my bank, they do not have the money. If they had, they would transfer it to my account.

21 Jul 2015

Quick Tip: Showing solution branch name in Visual Studio title

By default, Visual Studio shows the name of the opened solution name in the title. This makes it easier to navigate among multiple instances of Visual Studio. You see the solution name next to the Visual Studio icon in the taskbar and also in the task manager, when you have to (and we all sometimes have to) kill the right Visual Studio because it stopped responding.

I work with Git, switching branches frequently, especially working on features and bug fixes. In this situation, it would be nice if Visual Studio showed not only the solution name but also the current branch in its title. No problem, there is an extension for that.

The extension is called [Rename Visual Studio Window][1] and it works with Visual Studio 2015, 2013, 2012, 2010. This extension supports Git, so you can easily add the branch name to the title with a config like mine using [gitBranchName].