Tap My Mind

A Blog by Scott Isaacs

Tag: Software Projects (Page 1 of 3)

Beginning Windows 8 Development (book)

You may or may not know that I am currently writing a book.  If you didn’t, now you do.  That’s a picture of the cover.

It’s a book about writing software for Windows 8 using HTML and JavaScript.  The first few chapters are heavily based on a similar book which introduces building Windows 8 applications with C#.  I’m really excited about it, and it should be available by the end of summer.  I’m not done yet, and I have a fair amount more work to go, but it’s getting there.  

A few weeks ago, the publisher, Apress, made an alpha version of the book available on their site.  Buying the alpha version gives you access to draft versions of the chapters I am writing as I submit them, even before the editing process has been completed.  Then I found out earlier this week that you can also pre-order the book on Amazon.  I thought that was pretty cool, and it’s kind of a boost to the ego to see that, not to mention adding motivation to complete the process.

Imagine my surprise today, though, to come across this advertisement “in the wild” when checking the weekend weather.

Event Timer – Windows Store App

Update 5/4/2013: Source code now available on GitHub.  

Download Event Timer from the Windows Store I just spent a couple hours writing a Windows Store application for use at our Deeper in .NET conference this weekend.  It’s a simple app that displays the time remaining until the next session starts, and also allows you to cycle through slides (image files only) during the countdown.  Event Timer was initially published on 4/4/13.  You can find it and screenshots in the Windows Store.  For now, and for the foreseeable future, it will be free.

I already know of a few feature improvements I’d like to add to a future release, such as:

  • Moving the controls to an app bar (done, you can now view the controls by right-clicking or swiping from the top edge)
  • Adding some configuration options that persist, such as default slide interval and foreground/background colors.
  • I have some other ideas for subsequent releases as well, but will hold off on thinking too much about those to see if anyone else asks.  Why waste my time on something no one wants, right?

If you use Windows 8 or Windows RT, please give it a try and let me know what you think.  I’d be interested in any feedback.  However, since this is a free app, support will be limited and may be slow.  While no guarantees are made about this software, I have recently used it at a large developer event in Milwaukee.  I had zero issues and actually had several attendees compliment the app.

If you are a developer and are interested in seeing the very simple source code, you can find it on GitHub. Remember, I only spent a couple hours on the initial version for my own use, so be kind.  🙂

Visual Studio Command Prompt Here

I’m rebuilding my computer after a hard drive failure, and I keep running into issues where things I’ve taken for granted are missing – things such as the "VS Command Prompt Here" Windows Explorer context menu items.

Years ago, Scott Hanselman posted INF files to add VS 2005 to the context menu. Using that as inspiration, I’ve created a version of the file for VS 2008 and another for VS 2010. For what it’s worth, I tweaked his VS 2005 file because my copy of VS is installed in "Program Files (x86)" and on older versions of Windows, such as when he posted, it wasn’t.

So enough with the intro; here are the download links:

Right-click to save your file of choice, then right-click on the saved file and choose Install.

Disclaimer-ish stuff: These modify your registry. You should open the files in Notepad first to understand what is happening. Use at your own risk. I’m sure you’re not reading this part anyway.

Good luck.

Meeting Cost Calculator

Main Screen - After RunHave you ever been in one of those meetings where it seems that everyone in the company is there, even though they don’t need to be?  I think everyone has and it is especially frustrating when you are one of the ones that doesn’t really need to be there.

Well, based on a web site I saw a few weeks ago (the link escapes me at the moment), I wrote a little Windows Mobile app that will calculate just how much any given meeting is costing you and your clients.

It’s a pretty simple application.  You press Start, the dollars add up.  You press Stop, and they stop adding up.  You can specify the number of attendees at any given meeting.  You can also specify the default estimated billing rate and estimated cost to your company (for example, estimated average wage + benefits).

You can toggle back and forth between the client cost and the cost to your own company by either clicking on the appropriate region (current is highlighted) or by using the context menu on the Total Cost.  You can also reset the calculator from the context menu of the Total Cost.

Here are a few more screenshots.

Main Screen - After Reset Configuration Screen  Main Screen - Context Menu

You can download this directly to your Windows Mobile phone by going to one of the following links:

I am running WM6 with a touch screen, but it should work on WM5 and later.  I have only tested this on my phone, so your mileage may vary.  Download and run at your own risk.  Feel free to report any issues, comments or suggestions via the contact form below.

Update 1: This program requires the Microsoft .NET Compact Framework version 3.5.

Update 2: I’ve uploaded a new version with the following changes:

  • FIXED: Bug in highlighting currently selected cost
  • FIXED: Bug that always shows total for default number of attendees instead of currently selected number of attendees
  • CHANGED: Continues to run even if device is put into suspended mode
  • CHANGED: Configuration screen allows for higher ($500/hour) and more precise ($5 increments) for cost fields

Curly Brace Placement

I’ve been writing code with curly braces for a dozen years or so, starting with C++ in college, then JavaScript for many, many years, and for the last few years, C#.  In all that time, I have been a fan of putting the opening curly brace on the same line as the declaration or control statement.  For example:

private void DoSomething() {    // ...    if (somecondition) {        myval = true;    }    // ...}

At work, though, I have been working on someone else’s code, and I always try as much as possible change my coding style to match the existing code.  In this case, that means opening curly braces get their own line, like so:

private void DoSomething() {    // ...    if (somecondition)     {        myval = true;    }    // ...}

I find that I’m actually starting to prefer the "new line" option.  But I don’t want to prefer it!  I guess maybe I’m stubborn.

I agree that it is easier to visually match opening and closing braces this way, but VS2008 does that for me anyway with clever highlighting.  Also, I don’t like how much extra room is taken in my editor window.  I like whitespace, but this seems to put it in the wrong place for me.

Sigh.  What’s a poor developer to do?

What’s your preference and why?

I Am Excited About… A Conference Call?

For the first time since — ummm — since ever, I am looking forward to an upcoming conference call.  And I’m really looking forward to it.  I don’t want to say too much, yet, because I want to get some very basic details ironed out first, but I will say that it is about a special project we are working on for the WI .NET Users Group.

I’ve been thinking about this project for a few weeks now, and I’ve actually taken notes.  If you have ever been with me to a meeting, that statement alone should let you know how serious I am about this.  I am a terrible (appalling, horrendous, atrocious, apocalyptic) note taker, so much that I often don’t even take a pen and paper with me because I will get more out of my memory of the meeting than from my notes.  But I have notes for this.  And they make sense!

So, if you work in technology in the Milwaukee area, keep an eye on my blog over the next couple weeks.  If this call goes even half as good as I expect, I will be asking for your help!

Community Coding Contest

This is pretty exciting.  Chris Pietschmann, an MVP, a friend of mine, a committee member of the WI .NET Users Group, developer of Virtual Earth controls, and an independent consultant I have worked with in the recent past, has three MSDN Premium Subscriptions to give away, and he is having a coding contest to determine the winners.  He is building a website for this contest at www.communitycodingcontest.org, but the site is not up yet.  In the meantime you can get some basic info from this post on his site.  The contest will run from July 1 through September 30, so that’s three whole months to get something built.

The most amazing part is the prizes.  From his blog post:

1st Place – 1 MSDN Premium Subscription with Visual Studio 2008 Team Suite

2nd Place – 1 MSDN Premium Subscription with Visual Studio 2008 Team Suite

3rd Place – 1 MSDN Premium Subscription with Visual Studio 2008 Team Suite

4th Place – Windows Vista Ultimate with SP1 and Visual Studio 2008 Professional

I am also looking for sponsors to donate additional prizes to give away.

I don’t know about you, but I think I’d be happy with 3rd place.  If you work for a company that would like to sponsor this contest, please contact Chris through his blog, or e-mail me and I will put you in touch with him.  If you’re a developer, get those gears turning.

I do have a question for Chris, though.  Chris, why not sneak one of these subscriptions to me and have a contest to give away the other two???

.NET Micro Framework

Just got a book in the mail from Amazon: Embedded Programming with the Microsoft .NET Micro Framework.  It was only about $6 from the "Used and New" section of alternate sellers.

An upcoming project at work is currently planned for Compact Framework, but, if my limited understanding is right, hardware needed for the Micro Framework is cheaper.  So as long as it will perform as needed, this might be the way to go.

Has anyone done any development with the .NET Micro Framework yet?  Any pointers or pitfalls?

Issue Tracking and Help Desk

What software do you use for issue tracking (feature requests, bugs, etc.) and help desk?  I’m looking for something here at work.  Has anyone used Axosoft OnTime?  I don’t want something hosted as a service (I want to install it here).  Also, I don’t want something that costs a fortune, but I don’t necessarily have to have a free/OSS piece of software either.  Just looking for something good and easy to use, preferably built on MS stack, but that’s not required.

Contact me with any suggestions or leave a comment here.

New Tool: Folder Finder

I’m on a roll here with the little utilities…

My dad called the other day as he was leaving his office (in California).  Due to the nature of his business and the way their network is setup, he and his team work with a large number of folders on a network share.  Each of these folders contains information about a particular project or potential project, and they are all contained within a single parent folder.  For example, the parent folder might be P:\Projects, and there may be hundreds of project folders such as P:\Projects\Project 023A, P:\Projects\Project 023B.  I don’t really know the names of the folders (I just made those up), but the names mean something to him and his team.

At any given time, though, there could be a couple hundred folders in the project folder.  Some come and some go, but overall the number seems to be increasing.  So it is getting harder for them to find the necessary folder when they need to do some work or reporting for that project.

FolderFinderNow, I can imagine that there is plenty of room to engineer some system (or buy something) that will help them better manage this, but what he really needed right away was a faster way to find a folder.  So I wrote Folder Finder.

It’s a very simple app to use and I only spent a couple hours on it.  Basically, you download the app and place it anywhere you want (.NET 2.0 required).  You run it and choose a base folder, which gets saved and re-used each time you run the app (C:\Projects in my example).  Then you just start typing a portion of the folder name.  Since the names mean something to you, just type the part you know.  It doesn’t matter if it is the beginning, middle or end of the folder name.  The list filters automatically.  At anytime you can double click your folder to open it, or if it is the first in the list you can simply press Enter.

That’s it.  All there is to it.  It doesn’t do anything super high-tech or magical.  It just lets them find their folders faster.

So if you want to download and use it, feel free.  As always, use it at your own risk, but I’d appreciate it if you’d let me know if you use it — especially if you have any comments or suggestions.  Also, feel free to share it with anyone who might think it is useful.  If anyone wants the source for any reason, let me know and I’ll make it available.

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