New Year’s Eve weekend is a time to party, but for the geeks among us, it may also be a good opportunity to curl up with some dev training videos.
Enter Microsoft/Xamarin with their on-demand recordings of Xamarin Dev Days sessions. The mobile development training event takes place periodically in cities around the world, and as of this month, you can also participate virtually via Xamarin Dev Days Live on Microsoft’s Channel 9. (Hat tip to Petri’s Paul Thurrott for first pointing this out.)
The five-episode track, which first aired Dec. 14, kicks off with Introduction to Xamarin, Cross-Platform UI with Xamarin.Forms and Cloud First Apps with Azure. The “afternoon” sessions are more hands-on; you can follow along as the instructors walk through building an app.
Log on and get to brainstorming about what you’ll build in 2017.
Having purchased a 15 inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar recently, I’ve been having a good time seeing how that Touch Bar can be used. With applications that know about the Touch Bar, it is an interesting UI approach. But with many macOS applications not having full Touch Bar support, I’ll reserve full judgment until most apps support it. I will say that the Photos app shows a tremendously useful way to use the Touch Bar.
One app I use all the time, the virtual machine program Parallels, does not currently support the Touch Bar, so whenever you are in it, you see the default Touch Bar view:
The only problem is that for Windows development, you really, really need those function keys. Sure you can press the FN key to have them come back, but I wanted the function keys to be the default. A little poking around in System Preferences, Keyboard settings, Shortcuts, showed the Function Keys section. I added Parallels Desktop to the list and, voila, now Parallels defaults to showing the function keys whenever Parallels has focus. Not the most earth shattering of tips, but one that certainly made my life better.
Now if only Apple would sell a Touch Bar external keyboard…… Read more
Spectron is a great tool for testing your Electron applications. However, some help is needed to get the full use out of it. This post will go through all of the npm packages I’ve found useful in my Spectron testing.
The default reporter for Spectron is to just log out to the terminal. That’s great, but I like pretty colors in my terminal, especially when they’re green for success and red for error. That’s where the jasmine reporters package comes in. Actually, there are a few reporters in this package. Not just one for the terminal. In fact, I use two reporters from this package – the terminal reporter and the JUnit XML Result reporter.
Why do I use the second reporter? Well, that reporter plays very well with the jasmine-xml2html-converter package. This package converts the XML results from the JUnit XML Result reporter into an HTML file with graphs and a much easier way to view the tests.
Something I’ve used that seemed to help is to break up your gulp tasks to run tests by scenario.… Read more
After some Spectron experience there tends to be some things that can get repetitive when creating Spectron tests. I figured creating a tool to do just that would be handy to have. So I created the spectron-cli npm package.
Granted, this command line tool doesn’t do all that much. Currently, it only has two commands to it.
The “init” command will create an
e2e directory, if it doesn’t already exist in the current directory it’s run in. It will also create two files in that directory for you – a
test.spec.js file and a
test.page.js file. These files will include templates to help you get started writing your Spectron tests.
The “add” command will just create a spec file and a page file with the name of your choosing inside the
So feel free to install the tool with
npm install spectron-cli and see how it works for you (or just find ways to break it). It is open source so feel free to submit and enhancements or fixes or just create an issue.… Read more
Microsoft announced Tuesday that it’s introducing a Cortana Skills Kit, allowing developers to add new capabilities to the virtual assistant.
Developers using the kit will be able to turn their web services, bots created with the Microsoft bot framework, and existing Alexa skills into new skills for Cortana. Currently in private preview, the kit will be more widely available in 2017.
Microsoft partners already using the kit include Expedia, which trained Cortana to book hotels using its bot, and CapitalOne, which programmed Cortana to have hands-free, natural language conversations with users about their money.
Developers can sign up here to be notified when the kit is available.
The Cortana Skills Kit was part of a small flurry of AI-related announcements Microsoft made this past week, as the company continues its push to “democratize AI” (and make Cortana more competitive with Amazon’s virtual assistant, Alexa).
Microsoft is partnering with manufacturers on a range of Cortana-enabled IoT devices, with and without screens. The Cortana Devices SDK will allow manufacturers to integrate Cortana across devices and platforms, and Harmon Kardon has already released a sneak preview of what appears to be an Echo-like audio system, set to debut next year, that combines Cortana with its speakers.… Read more
One of the most anticipated features of Windows Server 2016 is container services. Microsoft has worked closely with Docker to create this exciting new feature for on-premise CaaS. Wintellect senior consultant Blaize Stewart has created a webinar in which you can learn all about the new technology, the types of containers you can deploy on Windows Server 2016, and the Docker tools available to run and manage them.
Click on the video above to view, and share your feedback in the comments.… Read more
If you’re not ready to shell out $3,000 for a Microsoft HoloLens mixed reality device, you’re not alone, and Microsoft knows this. That’s why it’s partnering with companies including Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP and Lenovo to create a line of lower-cost augmented and virtual reality headsets for the Average Joe or Jane Gamer.
The head-mounted displays (HMDs), will start at $299, according to details revealed during yesterday’s keynote at the company’s WinHEC hardware event in Shenzhen, China. They’ll draw on the same Windows Holographic technology that powers HoloLens, but unlike the standalone HoloLens, they’ll need to be connected to a PC to operate.
System requirements for using the HMDs, which are set to start shipping in the first half of 2017, are as follows, according to Thurrott.com:
CPU: 6th or 7th generation Intel Core i5 mobile dual-core CPU with Hyperthreading or equivalent
GPU: Integrated Intel HD Graphics 620 (GT2) or equivalent or greater DirectX12-capable GPU
RAM: 8 GB+ Dual Channel required for integrated graphics
Video-out: HDMI 1.4 with 2880×1440 @ 60 HzHDMI 2.0 or DisplayPort 1.3+ with 2880×1440 @ 90 Hz
HDD: 100GB+ SSD (Preferred)/HDD
USB: USB 3.0 Type-A or USB 3.1 Type-C Port with DisplayPort Alternate Mode
Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.0 for accessories
The upshot of this is, of course, that developers will enjoy a much broader market for apps and games.… Read more
Microsoft has hired several of the world’s foremost quantum computing experts, doubling down on the effort to build a machine that could solve complex problems much more quickly than a digital computer.
Microsoft hardware guru Todd Holdmdahl will lead a research team focused on using a unit of quantum information called a topological qubit to create scalable quantum hardware and software.
The team will include physicists Leo Kouwenhoven of Delft University of Technology, Charles Marcus of the University of Copenhagen, ETH Zurich’s Matthias Troyer and David Reilly of the University of Sydney.
Unlike digital computers, quantum computers would have the ability to process multiple solutions to a problem simultaneously rather than sequentially, potentially speeding up scientific quests to combat climate change and feed the world’s population, among other goals.
“There is a real opportunity to apply these computers to things that I’ll call material sciences of physical systems,” Holmdahl said in a Microsoft blog post. “A lot of these problems are intractable on a classical computer, but on a quantum computer we believe that they are tractable in a reasonable period of time.”
While the qubits that quantum computers could run on are notoriously finicky–requiring very cold environments with minimum intereference to retain their quantum state–Microsoft’s researchers believe that topological qubits will be more tolerant to outside inputs like heat and electrical noise.… Read more