Personal Access Tokens and VSTS APIs

API, TFS, Visual Studio Online
One of the great features of Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) and Team Foundation Server (TFS) is its extensibility model. I am specifically referring to the REST APIs that Microsoft has started making available for their platform. Until recently, you had two options for authenticating with the REST APIs:Basic Authentication – requires that you enable alternate credentials on your VSTS/TFS account, Base64-encode them and send them “over the wire” along with your REST API call. This approach is simple though not very secure since your credentials are not encrypted “at rest” (though they are encrypted when used since the APIs utilize HTTPS at the transport layer). You can read more about using Basic Authentication with the REST APIs here.OAuth – this is a more secure approach than Basic Authentication, however…
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PSA: Backup Your BitLocker Key

OneDrive, Security, Tips
Windows BitLocker Drive Encryption is a feature integrated into Windows that allows you to encrypt data stored on your computer/tablet. For the most part, everything “just works” and you never have to think about BitLocker once you’ve enabled it on your computer. However, it is possible that BitLocker could encounter an issue or condition that prevents it from being able to unlock your drive. If you’ve encrypted a portable drive using BitLocker to Go, and you’ve forgotten the password, you will not be able to retrieve your files. That is, unless you have a BitLocker recover key. Creating a BitLocker recovery key is fairly quick and simple. You also have multiple options of where/how to store your recovery key. To create a BitLocker recovery key (for Windows 10): Press the…
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VSTS/TFS Feature Index

TFS, Visual Studio Online
While the Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS)/Team Foundation Server (TFS) 2015 Feature Index has been out for a little while now, I’m not sure how many people actually know about it. If you’re somewhat familiar with VSTS/TFS then you are aware that you can use the VSTS/TFS platform to manage your source code, track work items and even run automated builds and deployments. But are you aware of everything else that can be accomplished with VSTS/TFS? You might be surprised!I am not going to detail everything the index covers because there is simply too much. However, here’s a high-level list of the categories within the index:Access and supported clientsAgile tools to plan and track workBacklogsBugs, tasks and issue trackingCustomize (TFS)Customize (VSTS)KanbanScaleScrumWorkflowAlerts and notificationsCodeGitTFVCPackage management (VSTS)Continuous DeliveryBuildRelease (VSTS – Preview)TestDashboards and…
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Personal Access Tokens & VSTS

Visual Studio Online
If you happen to be using Git-based projects in Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS – formerly known as Visual Studio Online) then you might have already encountered Personal Access Tokens – or, PAT, for short. If you are not familiar with PATs in VSTS then read on… :-)As you are already aware, you can sign into VSTS using a Microsoft Account or, if your VSTS account is tied to Azure, an Azure Active Directory account. This approach works great when using the web-based interface for VSTS or when using Microsoft tools such as Visual Studio, both of which provide inherent support for Microsoft and AAD Accounts. If you are making use of 3rd party tools such as the Git command-line interface, SourceTree, etc., then the account types mentioned above don’t…
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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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My First Band Web Tile

I’ve been wearing my Microsoft Band 2 since it first became available nearly two months ago and I was rockin’ the first version of the device before that. Suffice it to say, I really like Microsoft’s version of a health & fitness tracker (though it’s much more than that!).Being a developer at heart I decided I’ve owned this device far too long to not have created any apps for it yet. So I decided to take a look at the Microsoft Band developer site. When you first visit the site, you will see the following three options:You can make use of the full Band SDK to develop apps for Windows, Android and iOS. You’ll want to use the Band SDK to take advantage of the full feature set of Microsoft’s…
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Open Live Writer–It’s Alive!

General News, Open Source (OSS)
Like many other bloggers out there on the interweb I have been using Windows Live Writer for many years. If you are also a Windows Live Writer user, then you also likely know that the product has not been updated for several years (the latest version is from 2012). Although the current version works it has grown stagnate in its feature set. That’s why I am excited to find out that Microsoft has open sourced Windows Live Write as Open Live Writer as of December 9th, 2015! You can find the official announcement here on the .NET Foundation web site.From here on out, Open Live Writer will be maintained and expanded by the open source community. What this means is that if there is a feature you’d like to help…
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Microsoft Connect() // 2015; Year Two!

Conferences, General News
Last year, Microsoft held it’s first Connect(); event (I wrote about it here). Well, they’re back for another go! If you make use of Microsoft’s development tools and/or any of the open source software that Microsoft has provided (e.g. ASP.NET) then you will want to check out this free, on-line, two-day event! Join us this year to hear directly from Scott Guthrie, Brian Harry, and Scott Hanselman on what’s next in this exciting journey. Get deeper insights into our exciting announcements with over 30 on-demand sessions. Interact with the engineering team members behind Microsoft tools and technologies to help you get started. The event will be held on-line on Wednesday, November 18th and Thursday, November 19th. As of the time of writing this post the agenda had not been published.…
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Custom Build Task Permissions in VSO

Team Foundation Build, Visual Studio Online
Following up on my Custom Build Tasks in VSO post I wanted to quickly show how you grant a VSO user permissions to upload build tasks into your VSO account. On Microsoft’s Build Tasks web page, it states that you need to be in the top level Agent Pool Administrators group to manipulate tasks. To view the Agent Pool Administrators: Sign in to your VSO account. Click on the Settings (gear) icon on the upper-right side of the page: Click on Agent pools and then Roles: Notice the Agent Pool Administrators group under Roles. This is NOT the group you are looking for!Instead, click on the All Pools node on the left: You will see the same Roles appear but this time they apply to all pools in the account.…
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Window Layouts in Visual Studio 2015

Visual Studio 2015
One of the many nice new features in Visual Studio 2015 is custom Window Layouts. For example, on a smaller screen, you might want a simple window layout something like this: There is a minimal number of windows in this layout and the ones that are there are fairly narrow. To save this layout as a custom window layout, such as “Small Screen”: Click on the Window menu and then select Save Window Layout. Enter the layout name and click OK. Now let’s create another window layout for larger monitors, such as this one: Notice this layout has more windows opened and the ones on the right of the screen are wider than in the previous layout. Follow the same steps as above and save this layout as “Large Screen”.…
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