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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, Microcontroller programming with .NET Microframework, .NET Gadgeteer, Windows on Devices, 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.

  • 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...

  • Scaled DPI-aware image assets for Windows 8 Apps in Visual Studio 2012 Update 1

    With the latest update to Visual Studio 2012, the mechanism for specifying and verifying DPI-aware images has just gotten easier. I've written and spoken about automatic DPI-aware image assets in Windows 8 apps in my book Windows 8 XAML in Action, and also at events. Here are the details, but in a nutshell, if you use a specific naming convention for images in your Windows Store app,...

  • Teaching a six (well, almost seven) year old to solder

    As a geek, there are a number of milestones or rites of passage for children: First drawing of any vehicle with more than three guns First original LEGO model First time you figure out how to turn on the Xbox and get into a game without help First time you solder something First program written First cosplay at a geek convention First computer you build from parts ...

  • Generating sound at runtime using XAudio2 in a Windows Store app

    In this post, I'll briefly explain how to generate sound in real time in a Windows Store C++ app using XAudio2. I've always liked messing around with synthesizers. Quite some time ago, I built a simple synthesizer using Silverlight. It was cool, but very processor intensive. All the sound was generated in real time, and was then pushed into buffers which were read by the media pipelin...

  • The update Windows SDK and Windows App Certification Kit tool (now checks branding images)

    A new version of the Windows Software Development Kit for Windows 8 was published last week. A new version of the Windows App Certification Kit (WACK) tool is included as part of this. Installation You can download the Windows 8 SDK from MSDN, here. The installation is simple. I'll include the screenshots here so you can see what's included. Also, I encourage you to enable the Cu...

  • Building quality Windows 8 apps: Important pre-submission checks for your Windows Store apps

    When you get ready to submit your app to the store, you'll run it through the WACK (Windows App Certification Kit) tool. That tool will report to you the most egregious errors, but it doesn't catch everything you'll want to do to finalize your app. In this post, I have a number of suggestions ranging from the most simple to some more interesting system integration ideas. Have you chec...

  • How-to: Name Start Page groups in Windows 8

    By default, your Windows 8 Start Page appears as a base group of standard apps, plus a group of desktop apps (if you upgraded) or Office apps (if Surface with Windows RT). Most of us create a number of additional groups beyond those. Those groups are not named for you automatically. Did you know you could name those groups to make organization easier? Here's how. On the Start Page,...

  • Sometimes coding a solution is faster than finding one: Simple Webcam app in Silverlight 5

    I recently upgraded my main desktop PC to Windows 8. When I did that, the Microsoft LifeCam software stopped working. It was recognized as incompatible with Windows 8. For most people, this is not an issue, as it works perfectly fine with the built-in Windows 8 camera app. For me, however, I need a small camera app sitting on my desktop so I can see the hallway leading to my office. I...

  • Windows 8 on a multi-display desktop PC without a touch screen: the Logitech T650 touch pad

    I recently updated my primary workhorse PC (a 6 core desktop with two 30" displays) from Windows 7 to Windows 8. As part of that, I picked up a Logitech Touchpad T650. This post includes my observations. As a Windows 8 platform evangelist at Microsoft, I'm very familiar with Windows 8, especially in a developer context. So far, I've used it on touch and non-touch laptops (I have a Len...

  • How to Reset your Microsoft Surface (or other Windows 8 PC) to start from scratch

    At Build, the Surfaces used by Jordan Rudess (and later provided to Jordan and his tech Gianluca Trombetta, just like we did with other Build attendees) were set up in advance with local accounts rather than Microsoft accounts. This made it easy for me to have everything ready for when Jordan took the stage. One thing both Jordan and Gianluca needed to do to make the Surfaces their ow...

  • My WPF 4.5 talk from Build 2012

    My WPF talk from Build 2012 is live at Channel9. Slides are available via that link as well. I cover a few of the more interesting features in WPF 4.5, as well as techniques for using Portable Class Libraries (PCL) to share code with Windows 8 app.

  • A ten-year-old’s excitement over Windows 8 and more

    My son is 6 1/2 and my daughter is 4. Today, my wife had some of my children's homeschool friends over. One of them is a 10 year old boy. He saw Windows 8 on my 6yo son's laptop upstairs and said "You have Windows 8?!?". He was very excited because he didn't have it yet himself. He started telling my son all about Windows 8 and what's coming. This is a 10 year old boy, mind you. UP...

  • Windows Store app development: Include that privacy policy

    Privacy is a huge concern to most customers. Part of the Windows Store app certification process includes checking for the presence of a privacy policy if your app declares any capabilities which could affect privacy. MSDN has a section (4.1.1) explaining what is expected from the privacy policy. I won't quote it here, but some important points jump out (emphasis mine): Declaring...

  • Controlling a NETMF Gadgeteer Robot from a Windows 8 App

    At several recent events (VSLive Redmond, thatConference, the Heartland Developer Conference and more), I've had a neat little .NET Micro Framework robot with me. The remote control for the robot is a Windows 8 tablet running a simple Modern UI/Windows Store app I wrote in C#/XAML. The example shows both how you can use C# skills to build robots, and also how flexible the new Windows St...

  • My recent videos on YouTube

    I've posted a few videos lately on YouTube. Here they are, newest to oldest. Take a look, and if you like them, drop a comment on the video and/or "like" it. Thanks! All videos are available on my channel on YouTube. My tutorial on how I hand-solder tiny surface mount components. Watch in 1080p.   A drone I created with my JP8080 and Spectrasonics Omni...

  • Get Windows 8 design and development help through Generation App

    The platform is new. The design aesthetic is new. Many of us could use some architecture or design consultation when building Windows 8 apps. My friend Andrew Duthie pointed me to a Microsoft service called "Generation App". This is something we offer to help you get started building apps, and to help you get quality apps into the store early ( which may help you to earn more money wit...

  • A quick talk timer using the Netduino Go and Komodex seven-segment display

    In this post, I show how to create a simple talk countdown timer using a Netduino GO and the komodex Seven Segment Display Module. Yesterday, I received the Seven Segment Display Module I pre-ordered from komodex systems. Matt Isenhower did a great job with designing this board and making it an attractive piece of kit. It has a lovely shiny black silkscreen, professionally installed...

  • Maker Geek Roundup 016 for 7/23/2012

    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 Great Migration (or why I’m not interested in playing home IT guy anymore)

    This is the story of how I moved my infrastructure out of my house and into the hands of people who do this for a living. In addition to six laptops (two for me, one for my wife, one for each kid, one for my CNC machine) several PCs, and countless other connected screens (tablets, phone, game consoles, smart tv, STB, blu ray player, and more), I actively run three rack servers. One is...

  • How to show the world you don’t “get the web”

    So, I got this in my mailbox, entered in to the "contact me" form on my site: Dear Dell Web Team: Please learn to internet. The fact that you emailed people (manually, as it's unlikely you scripted my contact form) who linked to pages you've moved, makes me wonder how you've made it this far. Did you also email someone at Google/Bing/Yahoo/Ask/Excite/Lycos (blast from the past) to...