Microsoft Student Hackathon 2015 in Oslo

On the 18th to the 19th of September, Microsoft Norway and myself are inviting students to attend a hackathon event at Microsoft’s headquarters at Lysaker Torg 45. It’s a tradition and I’ve participated a couple of times during my period at The Norwegian School of Information Technology now knows as Westerdals Oslo School of Arts, Communication and Technology (Westerdals ACT). It is quite the honor to be on the other side of the table this time and my good friend Anders Gill (Technical Evangelist) and I will kick things off with a thirty minute presentation each where we’ll be talking about Windows 10, Universal Windows Platform, Azure and the new Windows Bridge for Android and iOS.

For those into gaming there will be competitions in FIFA and Halo as well, so come on down on the 18th of September and join us in creating awesome new ideas, apps and websites!

Make sure to visit the post over at Channel9 where we have made a little promotional video or just watch it here and remember to sign up at this page.

 

Hope to see you there!

 

 

Windows 10 Continuum for Phones

Ever since I got to play with my dads Nokia 9210i Communicator back in the early 2000s I’ve always been searching for the mobile experience that could evolve upon request. That could be a small phone, but when you needed a little extra it could adapt. The 9210i Communicator was something like that and I’ve been searching for an upgraded experience ever since.

"Nokia 9210" by J-P Kärnä. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nokia_9210.jpg#/media/File:Nokia_9210.jpg
“Nokia 9210” by J-P Kärnä. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nokia_9210.jpg#/media/File:Nokia_9210.jpg

 

Upon this day I have been through phones running Windows Mobile (or was it PocketPC Phone Edition of some sort?) and the last phone I bought that was anything like the 9210i Communicator: Nokia N900. I loved the device. It had a full keyboard and ran Linux. I could use the package manager and download more hardcore software, and it had pretty much (at that time) every possible way of connecting to people, networks and devices. Eventually I had to switch it with something more modern that allowed me to run the apps I had started developing for Android.

Nokia N900. Look at that task switcher
Nokia N900. Look at that beautiful task switcher

The market had been quiet for quite some time, then Microsoft showed up with their Surface and Surface Pro tablets that ran Windows 8. The Pro being a fully fledged computer running on Intel chipsets, with full USB port and a 10,8″ multi-touch screen and add the Type or Touch Cover and you had a laptop. Finally I thought; now we’re getting somewhere. In fact, I own Surface, Surface Pro, Surface Pro 3 and a Surface 3 to this day. It has really come to be the type of device I’ve wanted for many years. It is a beautiful tablet that can evolve into a laptop (attach the keyboard) or a desktop (dock it) and the experience adapts for its usage.

WP_20150510_14_16_15_Pro

 

The Surface is a great step on the way for the experience that I’ve sought for all these years. It’s still not quite there, but Microsoft seems to be heading in that direction. At the Xamarin party the night before the Build 2015 conference started I talked with a Microsoft employee, and I got to talk about this concept with him. After I told him my story, he smiled and said “It’s not quite ready, but it will come”. I was intrigued.

The next day at the keynote Joe Belfiore showed us Continuum for Phones. Continuum is already known in Windows 10 as the feature that switches the Windows experience from PC mode to tablet mode and vice versa. Continuum for Phones will allow you to dock your phone or connect to a wired or wireless screen and it will adapt to become a desktop. The only downside with these phones today is that they run on ARM architecture and that means the only software you can run must be built for ARM.

Continuum-Windows-Phone
microsoft-windows-10-continuum-for-phones

 

Down the road Microsoft hopes that the majority of mainstream apps will be Universal Apps that run across the Windows 10 device family, but until that time there’s still a bunch of classic Win32 apps that one would want to run. At least that I would want to run. Until phones come with an Atom chip or some other x86/x64 chip there’s always Remote Desktop to the rescue.

With Windows 10 the phones have access to the same HID support so mice, keyboards and all the other USB peripherals will be able to work with it. Marvelous. When you connect your phone to a dock or a screen, you can still use your phone normally, so it will be like having dual-monitors where one screen is really tiny.

I am genuinely excited about this feature, and is a major step towards the experience I’ve been seeking. It’s still not quite there.

My hopes going forward is take the same concept and introduce a Surface Phone and bundle it with empty Surface tablet shells and other formfactors. Why empty? When we get there, it will no longer be necessary to bring your laptop or tablet with you. The phone is your PC, and you can dock your phone in to the Surface shell. The phone can adapt to become a touchpad if you want (imagine docking it where the touchpad would normally be) as we all know that the only ones that have great touchpads for laptops is Apple. The shell can contain extra batteries instead to increase the longevity of your session. There’s many possibilities, and I would love to one day just carry a phone with me. That’s at least the first step, then we can talk about more complex interfaces as we’re getting closer to realizing them.

The other company that has been making the same kind of progress is Ubuntu with their Ubuntu Phone, so if you’re a Linux user (as I once heavily was) then you should totally check that out. It’s exciting times that’s for sure!

0212_ubuntu_android_660

One last thing: Microsoft should drop the Continuum for Phones name and just go with Continuum. Please.

Surface 3 initial impressions (interrupted)

Surface 3 was released to the public here in Norway on Thursday (7/5/2015). I was lucky enough to get my hands on one for free the very day.

The largest online retailer of computer equipment Komplett.no held a contest in association with Microsoft Norway. Having been situated at home the last couple of days (under the weather), I told my girlfriend about this contest. Komplett.no would announce at the strike of 12, 15 and 18 three locations where the first person to see one holding the Surface 3 and “shouting” “I want a Surface 3” would get to take that Surface 3 along with a Type Cover home. Eagerly we sat around 12:00 and waited for the announcement, and one of the locations announced was pretty close, so my girlfriend put on her shoes and ran to try get a hold of one. When she was almost at the location I texted her that it had already been given away.

After that first attempt I thought the next announcements would be in different cities or in a galaxy far far away. When my girlfriend got home she handed me a large white shopping bag: “Here, I got something for you”. Turns out that she followed the 15:00 announcement and the location? Right outside where she works, so she immediately ran over and got it. So thank you darling for the effort, it was really nice of you!

Here's my girlfriend holding the Surface 3 and the new Type Cover
Here’s my girlfriend holding the Surface 3 and the new Type Cover

Enough with the mushy backstory already, let’s take a look at what we got here.

Why I pirate movies and feel good about it

I’ve been trying to write this post for a while now, and you have no idea how many times I’ve redone it, so here it goes:

Ever since the introduction of public (high-speed) internet there has been piracy: movies, games, tv shows, music, whatever, you name it. Nothing new here. I’ve been a “pirate” since we got cable internet since my early teens. Back then I had no money, no way of obtaining this material, and the good thing piracy has always brought with it, is exposure. There’s no way I would have had the same exposure to movies, games, tv and music if the concept of downloading it free off the internet didn’t exist. No way.

If we fast forward to today, I’ve solved my money issue, and Norway has and is becoming increasingly international. I’m guessing in a few years we won’t speak Norwegian anymore. We’ll speak in memes, abbrevations, and English. Ok, it’s not that bad, but it’s not a far fetched idea. To get back on track; Norway is following USA tightly in what media gets released, so the exposure problem is in some areas like movies and tv shows not an issue anymore.

Then why do I still download stuff off the internet for free? And how can I speak so freely about it?

To begin I’m not downloading as much today as I did back then. Just the other day I rented two movies from Xbox Video, which almost worked perfectly (small issues with the stream), so I am definitely moving in the right direction.

Wait up. It’s not really me who’s moving in the right direction. There are some in the industry that has slowly begun to realize how consumers want to consume their media. Today we have services like Spotify, Netflix, Xbox Video, Xbox Music, HBO, Viaplay, the list goes on, that provides unlimited access to content in exchange for a small amount withdrawn from your wallet each month. The only problem here is that they all vary in how much content they provide, so a small amount can quickly escalate to A LOT withdrawn each month.

Take me as an example. I use these services regularly and pay for it:

  • Spotify
  • Netflix
  • Xbox Video
  • Xbox Music

And I’m quite happy with giving my money; they are good services that provide plenty of content with a good user experience. That’s where the industry should put their focus and their money at. Thinking new, thinking ahead, think different!

The criterias I put forward for a service that suits me (and I’m guessing a lot of other people):

  • Needs to have a lot of content (good content is always preferable)
  • Needs to be able to deliver it to me instantly (streaming right?)
  • Needs to be ad-free (there’s nothing more disturbing than buying a movie and having to watch 10 trailers and the “YO fool, don’t steal shit”-movie before the menu appear)
  • Needs to be fairly priced
  • High quality

Based on that, I download stuff illegally when:

  • I can’t find what I’m looking for in the services I pay for
  • It’s not good enough quality
  • The only legal way is buying a hard copy. Ugh.
  • There’s no way I’ll be able to afford it in one years worth of salary

There’s probably a lot of other smaller reasons that will influence my decision to pirate or not. Like when the industry goes bat shit crazy and snuggles up with the government to try to impose a tax on our internet access due to lost income. Or when the government replies that they’re actually considering it. Come on guys, wake up.

In the end I feel good about it. I’ve set up rules and guidelines, and if the industry can’t please me as a consumer then I know the pirates will be able to.

(no calling the cops or lawyers, please 😉

Xamarin: Using the ABPeoplePickerNavigationController in iOS 8

Hi guys, I thought I would post a quick snippet demonstrating one way of dealing with the ABPeoplePickerNavigationController in iOS 8. If you have noticed that the SelectPerson event is not firing anymore then you are not alone.

The new way of dealing with the controller is using a seperate delegate class and assigning it to the ABPeoplePickerNavigationController using the Delegate property. This can give a nice seperation of concerns but can quickly get messy, so I created a new basic class that creates a layer of abstraction and implements the async/await pattern in doing so as well.

Please feel free to comment, edit, improve and use it as you please.

AsyncPeoplePicker

As JoeAshbrook pointed out, this code won’t run well when doing so in another thread. He posted the following adjustment:

 

Usage

Hopefully this can help you in your ways of dealing with the ABPeoplePickerNavigationController.

Thinking it #1: The new national transportation experience

Having done my first ever professional Windows Phone 8 app, for the public transportation service here in Oslo/Akershus in Norway — RuterReise — I got to thinking of the endless possibilities of improving upon and crafting new experiences.

RuterReise, the app we released three months ago on Android and Windows Phone is an app to help you plan your travels, see when the next subway that you want to get on departures and see that you really should have taken that left turn instead of heading straight in our detailed map view of a planned trip. Head on past the break and lets discuss what the future might bring for you as a user, developer and a passenger!

Lumia 930 vs Lumia 1020 – Amateur Camera Showdown

The Lumia 930 has now been selling for some days and being so lucky I have both the Lumia 1020 and the 930 in my posession and I thought of doing an amateur camera showdown. A caution is to be made: I am in no way a photographer and the only setting I have adjusted on the phone is the focus points at some point, otherwise it has all been set to auto and recorded using Nokia Camera on both phones.

The difference between the Lumia 1020 and the Lumia 930 at this point is the Lumia Cyan firmware on the 930. They are both running the same version of the underlying operating system: Windows Phone 8.1 (8.10.12397.895).

Head past the break to see the initial results!

Spotted: Lumia 930 ad in Norway

Now that Nokias new flagship phone; the Lumia 930 is out it’s nice to see that Microsoft and Nokia has started marketing the phone here in Norway (by the way this Nokia/Microsoft business is confusing). Before I saw the ad today I had yet to see any special marketing for any of the other phones previously released. There might have been some advertisements earlier, but this time they have made sure that everybody would notice it

Lumia 930 – Purple Tint (Updated!)

I received my Nokia Lumia 930 yesterday, and I spent most of my evening fiddling around with it and I have to say that it’s a gorgeous device. It feels really great in the hand, the screen is amazing and the build quality is astonishing. Some people and I who have received our unit already have noticed that when the brightness levels changes automatically or set to low, the gray colors you find in popups, the keyboard and elsewhere in the OS turns into a more dark purple color than gray.

OneDrive ups its value; 15GB free for everyone, 1TB for Office365 subscribers

Microsoft announced earlier today that they are increasing the storage plans for everyone using OneDrive and lowering the cost of the storage plans of up to 70 %. That means for users of OneDrive they will be upgraded in the coming months to 15GB storage, a little more than doubling your storage space previously. This is for the regular free version, and  if you have paid for more space then you will continue to get that but at lower rates.

The OneDrive team reports that the monthly pricing of their storage plans have dropped, and is now priced the same as Google Drive, at $1.99 per month for 100GB of extra storage, and $3.99 per month for 200GB. This is great news for users. With prices equal to Google Drive and both having lower rates than Dropbox ($9.99 per month for 100GB), it’s a competition on who can deliver the best service for the same price.

This is not the only announcement they made today. Office365 subscribers will soon get 1TB of storage per subscription. For Office365 Home users ($9.99 a month) that means 1TB per person (up to 5 people). That is quite interesting, as the Office365 subscription includes access to the Office Suite and other perks as well, and for the prices ranging from $6.99 per month up to $9.99 per month (or $74.99 for 4 years in the University package) that is great value you’re getting.

If I were you, then I would certainly go for the Office365 subscriptions and get access to the Office suite which now is available on Windows, OS X, iOS, Windows Phone and Android, as well as 1TB of online storage.

Source: https://blog.onedrive.com/new-onedrive-storage-plans/