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Pete Brown's Blog (POKE 53280,0)

Pete Brown writes on a variety of topics from XAML with the Windows Runtime (WinRT), .NET programming using C#, WPF, Silverlight, XNA, and Windows Phone, Microcontroller programming with .NET Microframework, .NET Gadgeteer and even plain old C, to raising two children in the suburbs of Maryland, woodworking, CNC and generally "making physical stuff". Oh, and Pete loves retro technology, especially Commodore (C64 and C128). If the content interests you, please subscribe using the subscription link to the right of every page.

  • Join us for Episode 0: The pilot episode of our new YouTube show!

    Tomorrow (Thursday) at 3:00pm Eastern Daylight Time (12:00 noon US West coast time, and 7:00pm GMT) G. Andrew Duthie and I are going to have the pilot episode of our new independent YouTube show! We don't yet have a name, but we have enough topics to fill months worth of shows. In this show and others, we'll talk everything from microcontrollers, 3d printers, cool apps, synthesizers, embedded...

  • Designing the hub experience for Windows Store creative (art, music, video) apps

    I've been working with a large number of musicials and creative music companies over the past two years. One which just launched an app is Image-Line with their awesome FL Studio Groove for Windows 8. A question I see time and again from these companies is related to the Windows Store app experience, and how something like a hub-based main screen fits in to music apps. I've explained it over s...

  • LEAP Motion on Windows 8.1 for MIDI control and more

    I stopped into Best Buy yesterday and picked up something I had been considering toying with: a LEAP Motion. This is an interesting little $79 device which turns the airspace at your computer into a live space for interaction. It recognizes all ten fingers on your hands, differentiates between left and right hand, open and closed, and can read the pitch, roll, and yaw of your hand, pinch and s...

  • Maker Geek Roundup 019 for 8/5/2013

    The Maker Geek Roundup aggregates information of interest to makers everywhere. Topics include .NET Micro Framework, Arduino, AVR and other MCUs, CNC, 3d Printing, Robotics, Microsoft Robotics Studio, Electronics, General Maker stuff, and more. If you have something interesting you've done or have run across, or you blog regularly on the topics included here, please send me the URL and ...

  • The little things that matter: Top desktop-friendly improvements in Windows 8.1

    Like many of you, I spend the majority of my day on a desktop PC. My PC happens to have two 30" displays, neither of which is touch, and a Logitech Touch Pad that has some basic gesture recognition. It's a giant water-cooled, overclocked beast that I built in 2010 (and upgraded video since then) and which still beats many new PCs sold today. This particular PC has been upgraded from Wind...

  • My site migration to Windows Azure Web Sites

    In this post, I'll cover the migration of this web site from a long history of local hosting to Widows Azure Web Sites. I've had my own personal domains (GroupLynx.com followed by irritatedvowel.com followed by 10rem.net) since the mid 90s. Early on, I used regular hosts. I've run my personal website out of a succession of servers in my basement for at least a decade. It used to b...

  • Get an AGENT Smart watch and help them get to 1MM

    If you're a Windows Phone (or iOS or Android) user and want a smart watch which you can program using .NET, then get into the AGENT watch kickstarter before it ends in just 4 days. You may know Secret Labs from their most popular NETMF product, the Netduino. I've always been a huge fan of their stuff. Community Secret labs has always made community a core part of their pr...

  • Recent videos and music tracks

    I've put up a few videos and music tracks lately. Enjoy (view on my site to see the videos. They don't usually appear in RSS readers) Also "Pete plays with arpeggiators". Video created in After Effects and Premiere Pro. The background video is a survey of the lights in my home office one evening.   Inspired by a little board called the "Tune in Tokyo". Vi...

  • My Windows Store XAML book is now available

    Look what just arrived at the door! The author copies are usually in the first set to be sent out. For folks who have pre-ordered paper copies, you should see those really soon. The ebooks typically show up shortly afterwards. Yes, this is Windows 8 XAML in Action. We renamed the book to better cover its ongoing focus. How to get your own copy If you're at TechEd NA 2013 th...

  • TechEd India, the India developer communities, and the Taj Mahal

    In the second half of March, I traveled to India (Bangalore, Delhi, and Pune) to speak at TechEd India and TechDays Delhi about Windows 8 app development. I flew from Dulles International in VA to Charles De Gaulle in France, where I met up with my colleague Nisha Singh, who had flown from Seattle. From there, we flew Air France to Bangalore for TechEd India Bangalore, then hopped...

  • Maker Geek Roundup 018 for 3/12/2013

    The Maker Geek Roundup aggregates information of interest to makers everywhere. Topics include .NET Micro Framework, Arduino, AVR and other MCUs, CNC, 3d Printing, Robotics, Microsoft Robotics Studio, Electronics, General Maker stuff, and more. If you have something interesting you've done or have run across, or you blog regularly on the topics included here, please send me the URL and ...

  • Disney Fairies: The evolution of hub screen box layout in Windows Store apps

    A large number of apps in the Windows Store follow the "bunch of boxes in a GridView" approach to the hub screen. This can work in some cases, but I encourage developers and designers to move beyond that look, and consider either evolutions of it, or completely different approaches. Boxes 1.0 For many, the basic box layout is a very workable layout. Here's one of my essential app...

  • Do you really know what your kids are doing online and in games?

    It seems that each generation is exposed to more mature or serious situations at earlier ages than the one before it. There are a lot more ways for kids to get in trouble online than just running afoul of the creepily mustachioed basement dweller you see on "that" episode of Special Victims Unit. tl;dr: A child was banned from Xbox live and that caused me to investigate some things ...

  • Using CallerMemberName for property change notification in XAML apps

    .NET 4.5 quietly introduced several attributes which are useful for debugging and error reporting: CallerMemberName, CallerFilePath and CallerLineNumber, all collectively referred to as "Caller Information". One of those, CallerMemberName, is also very useful for MVVM apps and other apps using INotifyPropertyChanged for change notifications. Getting the calling function name The Cal...

  • Getting more visibility for your Windows Store app Part 1: Create great apps

    Many developers ask me how to get more visibility for their apps in the Windows Store. Most do not realize, that even on the public web, visibility is almost never organic. It's the result of hard work on the part of all involved. In this first post I'll provide some observations as to things that I personally think help increase app visibility, specifically, app quality. In part 2, I'll...

  • Maker Geek Roundup 017 for 1/22/2013

    The Maker Geek Roundup aggregates information of interest to makers everywhere. Topics include .NET Micro Framework, Arduino, AVR and other MCUs, CNC, 3d Printing, Robotics, Microsoft Robotics Studio, Electronics, General Maker stuff, and more. If you have something interesting you've done or have run across, or you blog regularly on the topics included here, please send me the URL and ...

  • Traits of a good Windows Store app privacy policy

    A common cause of Windows Store app certification failures is a missing or insufficient privacy policy. Many don't realize that a network-enabled app must have a policy, or if they do, don't realize exactly what needs to go into it. In this post, I'll talk about some of my observations regarding what makes for a good privacy policy for a Windows Store app. IMPORTANT: This is neither...

  • A simple bitcrusher and sample rate reducer in C++ for a Windows Store App

    I'm working on a Windows 8 synthesizer app using XAudio2 and a C++ + DirectX/XAML Windows Store app for Windows 8. As part of this, I thought it would be fun to add a simple bit crusher effect with included sample rate reducer. The point of this effect is to make samples sound like they came from older machines with lower bitrates and sample depth. To do that, I had to do two things to ...

  • Installing Unsigned Drivers on Windows 8 64 bit (or: how to get STM ST-Link working)

    I recently did some work on my MikroElektronika ARM development board. This was the first time I fired up the board on my Windows 8 system. Everything in the IDE worked fine until I tried to do some deploying and debugging on the board itself. It was then that I realized the board's driver wasn't correctly installed. I looked in the device manager and, sure enough, the board had the lit...

  • A MIDI clock pulse to analog sync voltage converter

    I have a few pieces of analog gear which either don't support MIDI, or simply work better with voltage control. This makes including them in a sequence difficult as timing of arpeggios or sequences will drift away from the rest of the performance. Not to mention that synchronizing them by ear is not a simple task in any case, and impossible to do in real-time if you want to adjust the t...

  • The importance of app submission notes in the Windows Store

    Windows Store apps go through both automated tests and human testing. The automated testing uses a process similar to what you use on the client in the form of the WACK tool. This tool verifies the basics: does it crash? does it have the right images? does it spin up in time? etc. No one likes to waste time by going through the submission and certification process multiple times. Many...

  • A windows 8 trick: Protocol activation of apps (and the nick app)

    I have a four year old girl and an almost seven year old boy. From time to time, my son will play games on the nick jr web site, or watch a video. Nick has a portal-style app for Windows 8. This app provides access to videos and photos, as well as links out to games. Notice how even on my low DPI 30" screen, the tiles are large and everything is nicely scaled on the hub page. I've see...