• Where do I begin with Windows Phone 7 Development?

    Oct 15, 2011

    Where can I get the tools?
    You can either install full Visual Studio 2010 and update it to Service pack one first. Or just go straight for the download from: http://create.msdn.com. This will install the latest SDK (7.1) and includes Expression Blend for Windows Phone, which will allow you to quickly design and create your application without the need to know how to program thanks to SketchFlow!

    Tools are installed, now what?
    You can easily dive right in to developing right away if you're familiar with Silverlight, or there are many resources available out there for introducing you to it.

    One of the tutorials I found most interesting, in depth, and easy to follow was the series of Windows Phone 7 Jumpstarts on Channel 9.

    I wrote a few blog posts a while ago for some quick reference to WP7 development. I haven't had a chance to test these lately with the release of Mango, but I believe the principles are the same. I also apologise for the formatting issues, but if you click the pastie number to the left of the 'raw' button you'll hopefully be able to view it more easily.

    What is the Silverlight Toolkit?
    The Silverlight toolkit is something that includes WP7 controls, which are not, by default, in the SDK. Now, although it is possible to create your own custom controls through the power of Silverlight and Expression Blend, it can be tedious to do so - and knowing that there are already some controls available it makes sense to use them.

    How do I use it in a project?
    • Add resource Microsoft.Phone.Controls.Toolkit
    • Create folder: Toolkit.Content
    • Add images into "Toolkit.Content" from: "Program Files > Microsoft SDKs > Windows Phone > v > Icons > dark"
    • Mark images as Build Action = "Content" in the properties window
    • Rename them to something like: ApplicationContent.Cancel.png for them to automatically load into the phone, and to change color depending on the user's selected theme.
    Students make money, for free!
    If you're lucky enough to be a student then Microsoft have an awesome portal, which also contains links to downloads and tutorials called Dreamspark

    Once you sign up and get verified you'll be able to activate your student developer account, which allows you free submission of 100 Applications on the Marketplace! Any money you make as a result of this, is yours, and you haven't paid a thing for it!

    A lot of people have ideas for mobile applications but don't take the first steps to turning that idea into reality. Now you know that you can do it for free, and make money. What's stopping you?

  • Being an MSP in 2012

    Oct 7, 2011

    Recently I found out that I've been selected as a Technical Microsoft Student Partner at the University of Reading, along with Dan Rodgers (@dansgalaxy) - I'm unaware of others at the University at the moment.

    This year's activities kicked of to a stunning start at the Live Meeting yesterday! Complete with @bennuk wearing a fez and making continual geeky references, and announcement gongs from a new member of the Microsoft UK Students team @joannatonguk!

    It's great to see that the team really seem to have listened to what MSPs had to say last year, and as a result this year the MSP Scheme looks to be the best yet! Complete with expanding on our UK MSP Meetup idea last year by announcing an annual MSP Summit packed full of events and talks!

    MSPs have access to a brand new online portal. The portal is now in tune with the Metro design and is complete with Office 365, and a new social tab which allows them to communicate with other MSPs right across the world. Other benefits to this year's MSPs include a full MSDN subscription, a hardware pack, copies of Office 2010 and Office for Mac 2011, and last but by no means least - a brand new Windows Phone 7 device!

    "Who is your daddy and what does he do?"
    MSPs are student representatives of Microsoft to provide students on campus a point of contact with Microsoft. You can ask an MSP about Microsoft Technologies, ask them how to get free developer tools from Microsoft via Dreamspark, or just have a chat - they're happy to help!

    How do I apply?
    Simply follow the link from the image bellow to www.microsoftstudentpartners.com and apply! You'll need to submit a short video to introduce yourself and why you should be an MSP.

    If the MSP Scheme doesn't sound quite right for you you can follow Microsoft UK Students on twitter twitter.com/MSUKStudents, or like their Facebook page and get involved!

    It's looking to be a great year for MSPs. I'm really excited to be a part of it, and if you're interested in joining a Mobile Development Society at the University of Reading, please head on over to our Facebook group and give it a like so we can kick it off this year! I have some exciting things planned in relation to Windows Phone 7 development as it's so easy to get started!

  • OSX Lion

    Sep 14, 2011

    Recently I went through the pretty painless procedure of upgrading my Macbook to OSX Lion from Snow Leopard. After spending some time re-configuring it was almost back to how it was. But it was far slower than before.

    Getting used to Natural Scrolling didn't take very long, apart from when using a scrolling mouse - that certainly took some time. But now it seems second nature, and going back to windows seems a little odd sometimes.

    Sadly it erased some of my settings, which took me some time to discover, locate, and change back again. Other than that there weren't seemingly too many changes.

    The slowing seemed extreme. 3x longer boot times and far longer shutdown times than I'd had before. So I tried rebooting in Safe Mode (holding shift), which I've read does some rebuilding for speed. No joy. Next I tried repairing disk permissions using Disk Utility, the difference was fairly minimal (and quickly reverted itself again). So after nosing around on the internet I found the solution for me.

    Holding down option (alt) whilst booting allows you to select which disk to boot from, the non-default one of these provides Disk Utility again, but this time allows you to repair the disk, rather than just disk permissions. After doing this I enjoyed faster boot times than before, but still a little longer shutting down occasionally.

    Very nice user experience, with some fluff which is easier to revert to be more like Snow Leopard.

  • Mixer!

    Sep 7, 2011

    A few weeks ago I was working on the beta signup page for Mixer. It waas released a little while ago, but in case you hadn't heard of it yet I thought you'd like to know what I've been up to!

    Utilising CSS3, animations, and HTML5 with AJAX I was able to recreate the design made by fellow digital magicians at Conjure.

    I particularly like the orange dude/mascot!
    So what is Mixer?
    Mixer is a new and exciting way to make the most of people around you. A list of 150 people in your area will be included in your Mix, which gets updated as people join in your area. You can keep people in your Mix, or swap them out for others! Who knows who you'll make the most of in your area, you decide!

    Still here?
    Why not sign up to the beta today at http://getmixer.com and get Mixing later this year!