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You sometimes need nerves of steel to read your comments and reviews, even the best intentioned and cutest YouTube kitten video will get  thumbs down from passing trolls. So imagine the earnest responses from folks who have spent their good money and are not happy with your product or simply do not understand your app, there has never been a real easy way to interact with those customers after they leave a blistering review. I have always wanted to be able help, reassure or fix the problems customers are facing, and I have found that mature feedback channels provide the best way to improve reviews and build loyal customers.

When the Zune software was the underlying synch mechanism for Windows Phone I found and documented a really convoluted way to respond to app reviews. Even given this limited mechanism I was able to drastically improve the perception, reliability, function and rating of my apps. Today we received an announcement from the Building Apps for Windows blog confirming that developers will be able to respond directly their customers reviews:

This new capability enables developers to respond to reviews of Windows Phone apps directly from Dev Center. Once you create a response, users will receive the comment via email from Microsoft and can even contact you directly if you included your support email address in the app submission ‘Support email address’ metadata.

At this time, developers will be able to respond to reviews posted from Windows Phone 8.1 devices, as well as reviews posted from any Windows Phone device in the US only.

Please keep in mind users may report developers who abuse this feature through the Report Concern form (accessible also from app details, shown below). If misused, Microsoft will revoke developer access.

April 18, 2014 1:34    Comments [0]
Tagged in Windows Phone

There was a metric ton of information coming out of Build this year, and I am still trying to parse all of it for my personal development. While the casual observer would have seen the the Windows Phone and Azure announcements, it would be patently false to suggest that the ASP.NET platform has been left fallow this year. The following is a list of videos that directly or indirectly touch the world of .NET Web developers!

It will be a few more months, at least, before I get through all these videos. Happy learning!

April 16, 2014 21:50    Comments [0]
Tagged in .NET | ASP.NET | C# | JavaScript | Training

I have been following news about the OpenSSL Heartbleed vulnerability for the last few days and I wanted to highlight how it might affect just about anyone for posterity. First some facts:

  • OpenSSL is an open source implementation of SSL/TLS.
  • OpenSSL implementations can be found running on Apache and nginx.
  • 50% of the world’s web servers run Apache.
  • About 15% run nginx.
  • This bug was introduced to OpenSSL in 2011 (previous versions are not affected).
  • The bug introduced a missing bounds check in the handling of the TLS heartbeat extension and can be used to reveal up to 64k of memory to a connected client or server.
  • A patch has been made available for the bug.

While OpenSSL has not been used directly by or in Windows products (e.g. IIS), the same problems may apply in theory if you are using nginx as the SSL termination point. Is Apache or nginx hardware currently in you network and does it process secure external communications?

So what is at risk? I have seen the results of this exploit directed at Yahoo servers and it returned in plain text the passwords and session info for other users. What may be even worse is that the private key of the certificate may also be leaked using the same technique, this would allow an attacker to go on to decrypting past and future data.

After patching the vulnerability, reissuing the certificates would be the next steps, however, not all browsers check for revoked certificates by default (Chrome comes to mind) and will thus continue to send data using compromised key pairs.

April 9, 2014 15:29    Comments [0]
Tagged in Network | Security | Web

After visiting a local all day conference last week I realized quite quickly that I need to have a more robust solution for supplemental power for my devices. While I am generally happy to camp near an outlet for additional power for a notebook, hanging out and charging my phone or tablet strikes me as odd. My better half already uses the Mophie Juice Pack Air for an extra boost on those long flights, in my case I was using my phone as Wi-fi hotspot most of the day, and so my battery took a real beating.

To be better prepared for my next conference (whenever that happens to be) I wanted a better solution for all my devices. At present I am road testing the GMP10K Ultra Capacity Mobile Power Station. The GMP10K has an advertised capacity of 11,000 mAh (I will explain what this means shortly), and considering the device is only 0.65 lbs this appears to be a winner out the gate.

GMP10K Ultra Capacity Mobile Power Station

Is THE GMP10K right for you?

First you need to check the storage capacity of your personal devices which then leads directly to what you will require from a battery pack. For example I currently own a Lumia 928 which, according to the specifications, has a battery 2000 mAh. Milliamp Hours (mAh) is a unit for measuring electric power over time and is used to describe the total amount of energy a battery can store.

So given the 11,000 mAh capacity of the GMP10K, and the 2000 mAh battery storage for Lumia I could probably recharge my smart phone 5.5 times (in theory, some energy loss is expected during charging). Similarly our iPhone 5 has 1450 mAh battery capacity and could, in theory, be recharged about 7 times (advertised as 6 times).

If you are sporting an iPad Mini Retina, your battery capacity is rated at a whopping 6471 mAh. This will probably leave you significantly short of a second charge, but for me the main concern is always my phone. There are other portable power packs with more capacity out there (24,000 mAh and up) but these devices are generally much heavier and would probably be noticeable if you are carrying them  around all day. I think the GMP10K is just about the right size, weight, capacity and cost for my needs.

Pro Tip: If you are at a tech conference power outlets are always in limited supply, be considerate and bring a power strip, it will make you a popular person very quickly.

Related Links:

April 9, 2014 3:49    Comments [0]
Tagged in Electronics | Hardware

Build 2014 is still on going and for those developers who did not get the approvals to go (like me) I would like to proffer my favorite developer features. This list is not exhaustive (all the sessions are not available for viewing) and only includes features that have an accessible API, developer frameworks or developer tools in the works.

Universal Apps (for Windows RT)

Start a single project in Visual Studio 2013 and that will in turn allow you to deploy to Windows Phone, PC, Tablet and … Xbox!  The VS release candidate is available for download now! You can already find a bunch of Universal app samples here.

Visual Studio 2013 Update 2

The VS release candidate now enables developing WinRT-based apps for Windows Phone in C#/XAML, C++/XAML, C++/DirectX *and* JavaScript/HTML. Yes!!!

TypeScript 1.0

1.0 release of TypeScript! While TypeScript has been an open source  project [more accurately source open project]on CodePlex for a year and a half, today they will officially be opening it up for contributions!

Cortana SDK

I must confess I am not that interested in a “Siri” like feature in general, talking to my phone conversationally has always struck me as weird, but I am fascinated by how developers could integrate their own apps with rich voice commands in a number of scenarios. [No links yet].

WinJS goes Open Source

This is a big deal, the source code of the Windows Library for JavaScript (WinJS) is being released under the Apache 2.0 license as an Open Source project by Microsoft Open Technologies (MS Open Tech). The source code is available here on GitHub. Check it out, contribute if you have the time and energy. This is inline with a recent MVP announcement from the Developer Division at Microsoft:

“The open source ecosystem around our tools and platforms has played a critical role in their development, and I have been excited to see the growth of this ecosystem in recent years.  To continue to foster and recognize the great work being done in this community, we are updating our Microsoft MVP program guidelines to recognize open source activities with the same weight as other forms of community engagement.” – S.Somasegar

Nokia “Sensor Core” SDK

The Sensor Core API appears, at first glance, to be very similar to Core Motion API on iOS 7, you can create apps that integrate with a low power sensor and tracks your motion and location. It allows your device to act just like those trendy fitness bands. [No links yet].

New ASP.NET Templates

Visual Studio continues to integrate with open source technologies and now includes the following default templates:- JSON.NET, OWIN, jQuery, Modernizr and Bootstrap.

These are my favorite developer announcements. How about you? What new features are you eager to start using and coding against?

April 3, 2014 0:15    Comments [0]
Tagged in API | C# | JavaScript | Microsoft | Windows | Windows Phone | Windows Store | XBox