JP HellemonsBuilding E-commerce web applications

After 4 months working with the Nokia Lumia 920 and Windows Phone 8

3. December 2013 17:14 in Windows Phone

pros

• no lag! fluent user interface
• all mandatory apps are available
• unified UI
• good lifecycle support (Operating System updates)
• Nokia adds nice things to the OS
• growing market share (especially in Europe)
• awesome camera (Lumia 1020 even has 41 megapixel!)
• decent hardware (Nokia’s are stronger than Thors hammer)
• auto Skydrive upload (had Dropbox on my Android HTC Desire C which was also nice)
• tiles! you just have to experience them
• good Bluetooth sync with (Ford) car
• Nokia Drive+ included (for non Nokia phones it’s about 35 dollar/euro)
• a lot of Nokia apps (for camera’s)
• Facebook app is more responsive on windows phone than on my HTC Desire running Android 4.x
• same for Whatsapp
• no app required for barcode scanning (build in OS)
• no app required to check who is singing this song (build in OS)
• you can open Microsoft Office documents
• build in PDF support
• screenshots are easy

Conclusion

My next phone will definitely be a (Nokia) Windows Phone! Looking forward to the new 9xx phones. Because the 1020, 1520 are both too big. I even pushed my first windows phone app to the appstore. It is a small and simple flashlight (zaklamp) It is free, so check it out!

As you can see, the most caveats are about missing Dutch (minor) applications. This is just a matter of time. The rest are just missing features in apps. There are no or almost no downsides to the mobile operating system that windows phone 8 (gdr3) is. Please let me know if you agree or disagree. Looking forward to your point of view!

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Missing Asp.Net webAdmin configuration option in Visual Studio 2013

18. November 2013 17:17 in Visual Studio

If you are still working with WebForms and the FormsAuthentication in visual studio 2013, you are probably missing the option Asp.Net Configuration which fires a tool to configure users and groups for your asp.net webapplication.

Sorry for the dutch screenshot by the way. But this is the tool that I am referring to.

I have found this post about manually starting IIS Express to manage it and I had some problems with it, so that is the reason that I am blogging about it. To help others, but also as a reference for myself if I have this issue again.

1. Open Command Prompt (Windows key + X, or Windows key + R, cmd <enter>)
2. Navigate to the IIS Express folder (cd C:\Program Files\IIS Express <enter>)
3. Copy paste this:
iisexpress.exe /path:C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v4.0.30319\ASP.NETWebAdminFiles /vpath:"/webadmin" /port:12345 /clr:4.0 /ntlm

You can close IIS Express in the console with Q if you are done. I hope that this option will be put back in Visual Studio 2013 update 1 or something for all those webform developers.

Good luck!

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External hard drive is not available

11. November 2013 16:47 in Windows

My external hard drive is unavailable in Windows when I tried to open it in explorer (my computer) I was really annoyed by it, because it is my primary backup disk. I have found HD Tune free which is a great tool to scan your (external) drive for errors. The “quick scan” came out clean. The complete scan took a while but also was 100% green.

But still no access to the drive. On a dutch computer magazine website I found this small (also free) util called EaseUS data recovery. It can recover 2gb for free, but it can always scan your full drive to see if it can be of any help and is worth the buy. That tool also found all files:

But still no access to the drive. After some searching the interwebz I found an article which suggested to check the disk management of Windows if that would list the drive and if it would list the partitions.

And there is the error! The external drive is in RAW filesystem!? I have never ever heard before of a raw filesystem. I expected NTFS (because it can handle *.iso of over 4gb)

So I have found this article How to fix external drive suddenly became raw. That article suggests that you use Parted Magic which is no longer a free download, but still is available on majorgeeks.

You can also download testdisk for windows so that you do not have to burn an linux iso and reboot your PC. http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk_Step_By_Step

There are a few guides online for the testdisk tool. I did not had to fix the mbr but I did write the partition table for the external harddrive. All that was left was just running checkdisk:

chkdsk F: /F
This solved it for me.

I will use the unplug usb drive build in windows feature everytime I use my external harddrive from now on.

Please read this if you do not know how to safely remove the usb drive in windows.

Good luck!

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1. October 2013 18:30 in Productivity

The only downside to this is, that there is no native Google Tasks app for windows phone. http://www.windowsphone.com/nl-nl/store/app/gtasks/a56d575c-7253-e011-854c-00237de2db9e

and there is no way to have the OneNote tasks on the new tab page of Firefox. Perhaps having a blank page is better and opening a to-do list/application separately on the second screen. Let me know your 2cents.

Good luck!

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Live tiles in Windows Phone 8

16. September 2013 16:24 in Windows Phone

There are three build in templates in Windows Phone 8.

• FlipTile
• IconicTile
• CycleTile

Flip template

The flip template has an image and when it flips, it has text on it.

Iconic template

The iconic template has an icon and when it has been set to “wide” it has three text lines visible. If you want to only use line two or three, you need to supply an empty string to WideContent1. Otherwise it will not render any text and it will just display a large version of the icon. That took me a while to figure out. As you might have guessed, I used this template at first. But it is limited. When a tile is not set to wide, it only has a title and an icon, which was not enough for me.

Cycle template

This requires a lot of images which was not suitable for me.

Custom live tile

So I looked for an other option. There was a resource online which created a usercontrol and rendered it as image and set that source image to a FlipTile, but it was not widely used because of the bad performance. The best option there is, and which you have probably already have found, is a writeablebitmap.

So fire up the Package manager console:

• Go to upper right quick launch (ctrl + q, or what your shortcut is)
• Type in ‘package’ and hit enter
• Then type ‘install-package writablebitmapex’ (ps. you can also use nuget)
• You should also install WP Power Tools from codeplex: https://wptools.codeplex.com/
• It is recommended to use a FlipTile for your custom tile and just compose a bitmap as background and do not use the flip side.
FlipTileData ftd = GetFlipTd();
Uri u = new Uri("/App.xaml", UriKind.Relative);
try
{
ShellTile tile = ShellTile.ActiveTiles.Where(t => t.NavigationUri == u).First();
if (tile != null)
{
tile.Delete();
}
}
catch { }
ShellTile.Create(u, ftd, true);

The GetFlipTd method is the one where the magic happends. (composing the bitmap) This code will get you started:

private FlipTileData GetFlipTd()
{
WriteableBitmap wbSmall = BitmapFactory.New(159, 159);
WriteableBitmap wbMedium = BitmapFactory.New(336, 336);
WriteableBitmap wbLarge = BitmapFactory.New(691, 336);
wbSmall.Clear(Colors.Green);
wbMedium.Clear(Colors.Green);
wbLarge.Clear(Colors.Green);
TextBlock lbl = new TextBlock();
lbl.Text = "Nice custom tile";
lbl.FontSize = 18.0;
lbl.Foreground = new SolidColorBrush(Color.FromArgb(255, 255, 255, 255));
WriteableBitmap tBmp = new WriteableBitmap(lbl, null);
wbSmall.Blit(new Point(19, 19), tBmp, new Rect(0, 0, tBmp.PixelWidth, tBmp.PixelHeight), Colors.White, System.Windows.Media.Imaging.WriteableBitmapExtensions.BlendMode.Alpha);
wbMedium.Blit(new Point(19, 19), tBmp, new Rect(0, 0, tBmp.PixelWidth, tBmp.PixelHeight), Colors.White, System.Windows.Media.Imaging.WriteableBitmapExtensions.BlendMode.Alpha);
wbLarge.Blit(new Point(19, 19), tBmp, new Rect(0, 0, tBmp.PixelWidth, tBmp.PixelHeight), Colors.White, System.Windows.Media.Imaging.WriteableBitmapExtensions.BlendMode.Alpha);
wbSmall.Invalidate();
wbMedium.Invalidate();
wbLarge.Invalidate();
SaveFileToIS("Shared/ShellContent/Small.jpg", wbSmall);
SaveFileToIS("Shared/ShellContent/Medium.jpg", wbMedium);
SaveFileToIS("Shared/ShellContent/Large.jpg", wbLarge);
FlipTileData ftd = new FlipTileData(); // 19 px border
ftd.BackContent = "";
ftd.BackTitle = "";
ftd.Title = "";
ftd.WideBackContent = "";
ftd.SmallBackgroundImage = new Uri("isostore:/Shared/ShellContent/Small.jpg"); // 159 x 159
ftd.BackgroundImage = new Uri("isostore:/Shared/ShellContent/Medium.jpg"); // 336 x 336
ftd.WideBackgroundImage = new Uri("isostore:/Shared/ShellContent/Large.jpg"); // 691 x 336
return ftd;
}

The secret is the location where you should store the image. You can debug/view this with the WP Power Tools. When you store the jpg (or png) in an other folder you will get “Argument Exception :uri for Isolated Storage” It was poorly documented, but I have found it here in the answer (2nd part) http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/wpapps/en-US/9c68b4e7-9863-4bcf-a839-b21fac8cc231/argument-exception-uri-for-isolated-storage

and the specific path was also mentioned here http://stackoverflow.com/a/15589739/169714

If you want a custom tile, it needs to be in /Shared/ShellContent/ !!

Good luck!

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Update Lumia 920 to WP8 GDR2 and Nokia’s Amber

19. August 2013 17:17 in Windows Phone

The Nokia Lumia 920 amber update which includes Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 GDR2 update will arrive over the air (OTA). There is a list on the Nokia website where you can see if it is available and if not, what the status is. My phone seems to be from Switzerland. The status on the Nokia website was set to ‘coming soon’, but I am really impatient when it comes to new software, so I downloaded the Nokia Software Updater for retail 3.0.8. Also known as NSU for retail. It is a >100mb .exe file and cannot be found (at the moment) on any official Nokia website. So I took mine from http://jkorondy.com/Lumia920 When you connect your phone and see a firmware which starts with a 3, then it contains GDR2+Amber.

After a reboot and logging in with my Microsoft account (live id) it tells me that there is a backup in the cloud which can be restored.

After another reboot (because of the Dutch language pack) it starts to download my apps from the store. But there are a few invalid apps. (I believe that it might be updates for apps without gdr2) so the apps fail to download and install. The problem (and solution) is described on this Windows Phone 7 tutorial website. So I had to manually uninstall all failing apps. It worked on my phone by going to the store and view the download app list and manually cancel the downloads.

Ow forgot to mention what the outcome was of my “Should I move to WP8” blog post. Well, I moved from Android 4.x to WP 8 and have all the required apps. None are missing. All apps have this nice native UI. Really like/recommend it!

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