How to make a Developers life’s easier…

February 26, 2014 Leave a comment

So the catch is in the title. I suppose the easiest way is to put them in a multi-coloured room, with gaming consoles, unlimited coffee and unlimited pizza… But that’s just a pipe dream for most of us. But what I have found over the past year or so is ways to make me more productive and make my life much easier. The problem is that I can now develop from wherever I am, on whatever I want.

In saying that, I’m going to mention a few things I use and play with that I found has made my life much easier & less dependant on others, as well as give me the ability to be creative wherever & whenever I want.

Mind you, most of what I will be mentioning focuses around Windows development, but some of this can also be used for other development.

Source Control

Now I know about GitHUB etc, but Microsoft has fairly recently released Visual Studio Online ( and this services provides you with all the functionality you’ll need in Team Foundation Services. The great thing is that it’s a hosted service that integrates nicely into Visual Studio. But this can also be used for other environments. And it supports Git as well. What’s also great is that you can manage a full SCRUM environment within this, with a great UI that’s easy and intuitive. So that’s my source control out of the way.

Development Environments

Most of my development these days are done from my Acer Icona W700. And yes, its possible. Because we have a Azure account ( and I have my own MSDN subscription, I have the option of spawning virtual development environments that has all the tools I need to be productive. And the great thing is I can even connect to it from my phone and develop, albeit a little tricky to type loads of code, but nevertheless. Most of these environments are set up for you and you might need to make a few minor tweaks and install some other components, but they work great. And because my source control is already online, I just hook into it and off I go.

Project Siena

So Microsoft is busy beta testing this, and what it really is, is a Windows 8 app that allows you to create Windows 8 applications easily on a touch enabled device. Now I must admit it has a few interesting quirks to it, but WOW, how easy are they making it for us. Granted, you cannot do the most advanced things in it, but I can almost guarantee that they will allow source code / solution downloads soon. So then you can very easily start the project with most of its artefacts from your tablet in a coffee shop and download and continue else where.

App Studio

Now this is my favourite at the moment ( This little service allows you to easily create and even publish Windows Phone Apps to the market place with hardly any code involved. What’s great is that you can download the full solution file and tweak where you need to. I have already created and published a small app this way and have another three in the making. Fairly trivial apps, but the first one was done in less than an hour.

Project Monaco

This is another one of those really great productivity tools, but also enables you to work from anywhere with any device. Project Monaco allows you to edit websites on Azure through a browser. with all the intellisense etc that you would need to be productive with. Coupled with the fact that the3 website is hooked into Visual Studio Online for your source control.

There are tons of other things & ways to improve a developers life out there, but these ones have made such a big difference in my life. I can now be creative whenever, wherever & on whatever device I want to. Go have a look at these and let me know what you think…

Until next time ๐Ÿ™‚

Categories: General

Belated Welcome to 2014

January 20, 2014 Leave a comment


Better late than never.. I suppose. So the year has started with a bang, or shall I say carried on instead. I didn’t really have a break as I needed to save my leave for our trip to Capetown in March. But its all good as I was very productive over the festive season. It’s the best time of the year to get through some back log.

So another year, more exciting challenges in life and work. Something to look forward to. Nothing better than conquering them one at a time.

Looking forward to some new technology coming to our shores this year, and obviously the Xbox One!!! Also looking forward to a role change at work which has been in the making for almost 2 years now. So this is definitely something I am looking forward to. The ability to focus a little better.

Now I don’t believe in new years resolutions, but I will have a goal to be more active on my blog and get some more exposure. But I need better content for that and follow through on some of my posts. I also want to get a few HowTo’s out this year as there has been so many things I have struggled with and had to spend hours and sometimes days finding solutions. And most of those are definitely worth sharing.

So, some goals this year…

– Finish my Windows 8 App

– Finish some Windows Phone Apps

– Blog more

– Enjoy life a bit more

So until my next post. Have a great 2014 and make it count. It wont be there again in 2015… ๐Ÿ™‚

Categories: General

Back to stability… :)

August 18, 2013 Leave a comment

So a while ago I posted about Windows 8.1 Preview. One thing I mentioned was that my Bluetooth stopped working and that I ended up buying a dongle so I can use the keyboard and mouse. This weekend I actually just had enough. There were so many little things that stopped working or was just not very optimised. And I can understand that it is/was a preview…
Yesterday I managed to rebuild my tablet back to Windows 8 and I have spent countless hours trying to get all my apps back on and get my tablet to a production state again.
The Windows 8.1 was a good experience and I am looking forward to so many new features, but my tablet was too unstable to be productive. So this is the first time I have ever backed out of a preview program… Sorry Microsoft, but the experience on a tablet was just not good. Maybe next time.
According to the news on the interwebs, a mid October release has been announced. Will wait for that then and enjoy the features. Chat soon.
Categories: General

LeapMotion inbound…

July 24, 2013 1 comment

So this post might seem a bit late, and maybe it is if you have been following the social media wave. But I was just thinking about it again today whilst still waiting for mine. And after I saw a tweet from someone returning his already.

What I’m talking about is this really small and excitingly interesting little gadget called the LeapMotion. The LeapMotion is basically an input device for your computer. And that means it allows you to interact with your computer in a new and exciting way. Up until today you were able to use a keyboard for typing, mouse for interacting, Track balls, touch pads, gamepads, Kinectย and some of you might still remember the big fad with VR (Virtual Reality) some time ago. Now the LeapMotion is just such a device. But it creates a 3D space around it and using your hands in mid air, you interact with your computer.

As soon as I got wind of this great new toy I had to place an order and I still remember rushing to the site and making sure I get my details in as quickly as possible. And Monday was the official, delayed, launch day. although I saw loads of tweets about people already receiving their pre-orders over the weekend.

So here I am, anxiously awaiting the delivery of my LeapMotion so I can have some fun with it. This has definitely been one of my most anticipated devices in years and I know it wont disappoint. Once I have my grubby little fingers on it I’ll post some more stuff around it.

Categories: General Tags: ,

Windows 8.1 Preview…

June 29, 2013 2 comments

While I was going through my twitter timeline on Thursday night I suddenly remember that Windows 8.1 Preview is supposed to be available any day now. Quick check on the Microsoft website and I found the link. And off course, I had to install it. And in true Henry style, I skimmed over any text and tried to find the download link, and click… Well, maybe I should not have clicked to eagerly…

A fast 14mb download and a few updates later and I was redirected to the new Marketplace. Looked good and in front of me was Windows 8.1 Preview, with some weird squiggles where the install button should be. Not really worried I clicked it and some time later my Acer Icona rebooted and I had to again choose a few settings. And there it was… Windows 8.1 Preview.

At first glance, nothing really special, except the glaringly obvious start button. Seriously, who missed that. Not me. Already used to not having it and really just taking up space now.

First of all, some irritations so far from using it for a few days.

1. Swiping is not as precise and smooth as before. And this makes my tablet feel very clunky and slow.

2. After every reboot I get an error dialog on my desktop. Something about BVTSTACK. Seems to be related to the Acer software and after checking could find anything.

3. Even though it picks up the built in Bluetooth chip, I cannot pair any devices or even see them. So I’ve resorted to buying a very small USB Bluetooth device

4. A few of my not so important is crashes for no reason

Now I fully understand this is a preview. And I was a bit silly not to create a rollback “disc”, but I did expect all hardware devices to still function correctly, as this is a smallish upgrade to Windows 8.

Some likes

1. On the main start screen, swiping up now lists all the installed apps. That’s a nice and quick way to get to them and I love it

2. Music app is more user friendly and seems to perform a little better

3. Quick and seem less install. Did not have to completely rebuild the tablet

4. Enjoying the additional options for changing the tile sizes and also customising the home screen is now the same as my Windows Phone 8 and I love the consistency

Subsequent to this “upgrade”, I have also downloaded the Visual Studio 2013 Preview and will also be playing with that over the next week or so. I’m glad I did the preview install and will start getting used to the changes and will be anxiously await updates to this. Next week I’ll post some more details about Windows 8.1 Preview and also how living solely with the tablet is shaping up.

Chat soon. ๐Ÿ™‚ 

Categories: General

First few days with my Icona

June 14, 2013 Leave a comment

Just thought I would write a quick update after my first few days with my Acer Icona as a primary device at work.

So as it stands today. I have installed 95% of the apps I usually need and I have moved a fair amount of the data I need on the tablet across. And today I did not even take my laptop out of my bag. I was happily working on my tablet. Initially I was struggling a bit with the keyboard, but that has now passed and I am working well with it. I do enjoy having my Microsoft Wedge mouse handy, but really only use it in desktop mode when working with Office 2013.

I have tested Visual Studio 2012 and it works really well. That was the only real concern I had. But all is good. Getting more and more used to the standard mail app. It is actually very nice and have not yet configured Outlook 2013. Hopefully I would not need to. I still just need to move a lot of mail from my archives to my main mailbox.

I added a picture password today because my password is about 15 characters long, and that just takes too long to type on the screen. So now its nice and easy to log into my tablet.

Performance has been great. Space is still not great, but I getting used to relying on other systems for storage. Which is good, since I really don’t need the space. Still a bit disappointed in some of the Marketplace Apps. It just seems like the developers are not understanding the performance issues users will experience and they are not making use of the “loading” animations to inform their users when the apps are updating etc.

Since I have not joined our domain at the office, I do have the odd occasion where my printers are not working, but a quick browse to the print server to reconnect and all is good again.

So after a few days I am still happy with my choice. Hopefully tomorrow I can load the rest of the apps and finalise my data transfer over the weekend. But all in all I am very happy with my Icona. Will post some more next week.

Categories: General

My Icona W700 arrived…

June 10, 2013 Leave a comment

If you had a look at my posts last week you would have noticed that I mentioned that I will be replacing my main work laptop with an Acer Icona W700, in line with a new way of working. Also because my role has changed a bit and I believe that I do not really need such a powerful laptop anymore.

Well, this morning I was informed that my tablet had arrived. And off course I was super excited, but also very ware that there is now no turning back. I have committed to this journey and will see it through.

Due to a very meeting intensive day, again, the box remained unopened until late afternoon. So a quick unboxing occurred and that was it. Everything was stuffed into my bag so I can work on it tonight.

The device is very nice and also a bit bulky compared to the Samsung Ativ I have been using. But then it is much more powerful than the Ativ. It comes with a very nice leather case with a built in keyboard, which I am still trying to get used to. Have already had to fix several spelling mistakes trying to get used to the pressure of the buttons. With my Ativ I used the Microsoft Wedge keyboard, and might revert back to it, but I do like the leather cover. I have already ensured that my Microsoft Wedge mouse is connected and it works well.

So as of a few minutes ago I have done all of the standard windows update and also the Marketplace App updates that I have installed so far. Email has been configured in the built in mail app, and even though I already have Microsoft Office 2013 running, and have not yet configured Outlook and might not do so.

Performance so far is great and all the apps are running a little smoother than my Ativ. Tomorrow I will attempt to go through the whole day only using the tablet, except where I still have some files on my laptop. The rest of the week I will spend either moving them across or onto our corporate intranet, where they belong. I also have some LOB apps I need to install this week and then I need to get Visual Studio 2012 installed as well.

As the days or week goes by I will post some of the challenges I am facing and how I have overcome them, or not. But for now I am very happy and excited. Lets hope it lasts… ๐Ÿ™‚

Categories: General