App Studio–Where’s it at Now?

App Development, Visual Studio 2015, Windows 10
Nearly a year and a half ago I wrote about Windows Phone App Studio. In that article, I walk through the basic steps of creating a simple Windows Phone app that uses my blog site RSS feed to list and display articles. Nothing too fancy or even complex but it was enough to show that you could create an app that does “something” relatively easy and have it up and running on your devices very quickly.Fast forward 16 months and Microsoft’s App Studio is now simply, App Studio and is still designated as “Beta”. It is no longer Windows Phone specific but is now capable of building apps for not only Windows phones but also PCs and tablets. You even have a choice of Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 (though…
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Microsoft HoloLens–Hands on at Build 2015

Conferences, HoloLens, Windows 10
During the last few minutes of the Day 1 Keynote at Build 2015, Microsoft’s Alex Kipman announced that “hundreds” of HoloLens devices had been brought to Build for developers to try out. There was instant excitement that was just as quickly followed up with disappointment. Alex went on to explain that attendees were required to sign up (via a web site) for a chance at getting their hands on the much-anticipated device. I, along with a friend that joined me at Build, signed up immediately. A few hours later, we both received e-mail messages letting us know that we were not selected to take part in the HoloLens activities. Boo! However, about five hours later, I received a follow-up message letting me know that I had been confirmed as a…
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Mastering Multiple Desktops in Windows 10

Windows, Windows 10
Some Quick Background Information For years, Windows has had the ability to easily switch between running applications by pressing the ALT+TAB key combination. As one would expect, this still works, just as it always has, in the Windows 10 Preview. Also, since Windows Vista, the WIN+TAB key combination provided an alternate view for switching among tasks – one that takes advantage of hardware graphics acceleration. What’s New in Windows 10 With Windows 10, there is also now an option of creating and switching among multiple desktop configurations. Firstly, to create an additional desktop, you can press WIN+CTRL+D. Doing so will create a new, “empty”, desktop and immediately switch over to it. To switch between desktops, press WIN+TAB. This opens the new Task View and displays a list of open desktops…
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Windows 8 BitLocker Recovery Keys

OneDrive, Tips, Windows 8, Windows 8.1
With an ever-growing concern around data security, it’s no surprise that many companies (and individuals) make use of Microsoft’s BitLocker drive encryption technology. BitLocker, once enabled, will encrypt your entire drive (or drives) on your computer (e.g. desktop, laptop, or tablet). As long as your computer continues to run “normally”, things are hunky dory. However, if you end up in a “recovery” situation with your computer, you will need a BitLocker recovery key. Not just any recovery key, but a specific key that will work only with your computer. You’ll know you need your recovery key when you are presented with a screen that looks something like this: It is good practice to backup your BitLocker recovery key for just such an occasion. However, if you haven’t backed up your…
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TIP: Previous/Next Track Buttons in Windows 8.1

Tips, Windows 8.1
If you’re like me, you like to listen to music on your PC/laptop/tablet while you’re working. In my case, I happen to utilize the Windows 8.1 Xbox Music app (with Xbox Music Pass) which has become much better with the last couple of updates. There was, however, one feature that I really wanted – “previous/next track” keyboard shortcuts. Unfortunately, no shortcuts are provided out of the box with the Xbox Music app (or by Windows). Given this limitation, I had to turn to my keyboard. While there are many keyboards available with built-in previous/next track buttons, my keyboard is not one of them. However, I do happen to use Microsoft’s Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000. Assuming you have the Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard center installed (it’s installed automatically the first time…
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TIP: Visual Studio 2013 XAML Error

Tips, Visual Studio 2013, Windows 8.1
Since I upgraded to Windows 8.1 I’ve had various issues with Windows Store apps running in Visual Studio 2013. I would get strange debugger-related issues when I attempted to run an app though it would compile just fine. In fact, it didn’t matter if I ran the app locally or within the emulator, it would give me some strange debugger errors which were surfaced from non-managed code. I noticed that when I opened a XAML file in the XAML editor (within Visual Studio 2013) I would get the following error: I did some quick bing’n around for an answer and came across a post on Microsoft Connect that suggested drivers for a dual-video docking station might be at fault. It just so happens that I am using a Toshiba dynadock…
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TIP: Disable Spell Check and Autocorrect in Windows 8.1

Tips, Windows 8.1
For many of us, myself included, having automatic spell check integrated into most of the apps I use on a daily basis (including Windows Live Writer, which I am using to compose this post) has been a great productivity enhancer. However, there are certain scenarios where autocorrect, or automatically highlighting misspelled words, can be a nuisance. My native language is English and I have to admit that the spell check features in Windows 8.1 have worked pretty good for me. However, I have seen many reports of the spell check and autocorrect features being less than desirable for non-English languages (e.g. Spanish). There are plenty of examples where someone types something specific only to have autocorrect change it to something else just as you click/tap “send”. The ideal fix for…
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Windows 8.1 & Windows RT 8.1 Released

Windows 8.1
Microsoft released Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1 today. This update, which applies to Windows 8 and Windows RT 8, is the first “major” release since the initial release about a year ago. What’s New? This update contains many enhancement and fixes. Some of the updates include: Start button. Although the Start button does exist in Windows 8, it is hidden by default until you move your mouse into the lower left corner, or swipe up from the bottom. In Windows 8.1, the Start button is shown by default. SkyDrive integration. With Windows 8.1, SkyDrive is deeply integrated into the operating system making it simple to view and save files to/from SkyDrive. In fact, making use of a new feature called smart files, you can now see the names of…
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Straight to Desktop in Windows 8.1

Windows 8
If you find you spend more time in the Desktop than you do the Start Screen then you may want to consider setting the desktop as the default start mode for your PC.To configure your PC to go to the desktop when you logon or close all apps on a screen, follow these steps:1. From the Start screen, start typing “Taskbar” and select the “Taskbar and Navigation” option from the list.  This will display the Taskbar and Navigation properties dialog.2. Click on the Navigation tab.3. Check the “When I sign in or close all apps on a screen…” checkbox.  This option instructs Windows to take you directly to the desktop when you sign in or if you close all apps on a screen.4. If you would like an experience that…
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TFS Agile Poker for Windows 8

ALM, TFS, Utilities, Windows 8
If you have been involved with agile software development in any form or fashion, chances are you’ve spent some time estimating effort or relative size of user stories.  This is often done by selecting a card from a special planning poker deck.  A typical planning poker deck is based on a Fibonacci sequence (e.g. 0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8…) though the sequence is sometimes modified after 13 for even numbers (e.g. 20, 40, 100).  This process works fairly well when all participants are located relatively close to each other (i.e. in the same room).  What if the team members are geographically separated?It just so happens that a fellow Visual Studio ALM MVP, Mike Douglas, has recently released TFS Agile Poker for Windows 8 that works with Microsoft’s Team Foundation…
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