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Azure Cloud Failure

Disappointing Azure Cloud Failures

By | Azure, Events, Microsoft | One Comment

I have been a big fan of the Microsoft Azure Cloud.  Here at Falafel we use it on dozens of projects for our valued customers and internally as well, but unfortunately Sunday Feb 19th 2017 was a bad day for the Azure cloud if your services, VMs, jobs, IoT and other services were running in their “West US 2” region. EventsXD One of our products, EventsXD experienced total failure around 5:00 am PST on Sunday while multiple conferences around the world were using the platform for their events.  Immediately, we were notified by our systems that connections to the Hosting…

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Read/Write data from/to USB thumb drive on a Windows IoT Core device

By | .NET, Blogs, C#, Fun, IoT, Microsoft, Multi-Device, News, Raspberry Pi, Visual Studio, Windows Universal Apps | One Comment

Currently, universal apps are sandboxed to the point of blocking you from reading/writing data files to a removable USB drive on Windows IoT Core devices. This post will show you a work around if you really need to do this. Now, understand that this is not for store apps. If you submit an app using this work around, it will likely get rejected. However, for internal projects, it will definitely work, and work well. This is a great way of reading application initialization data and writing log data in a test apparatus and laboratory setting. Particularly when a network or…

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C# Windows IoT Core Serial Communications with an ESP8266

By | Blogs, C#, ESP8266, git, Hardware, IoT, Microsoft, Multi-Device, News, Raspberry Pi, Visual Studio, Windows Universal Apps | No Comments

Windows IoT Core is great for connecting single board computers such a Pi2 to an ESP8266, via a serial link. The hardware for such a link can be found in my previous post here. The details for a basic serial communication C# framework are detailed in this post. If you have an ESP8266, there are numerous ways of communicating with them such as LuaLoader. However, I needed to communicate with my ESP8266 through a Pi2 running Windows IoT Core. This is part of a larger automated test project for an upcoming consumer project we’re developing. In this post, I’ll cover…

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Falafel Releases ZombieSmack, a Free Game for Microsoft Hololens

By | HoloLens, Microsoft, News, Windows | 3 Comments

At Falafel, we’re always in the mindset that we need to innovate and test the boundaries and possibilities of new technology. So, when Microsoft announced the release of the HoloLens, we  just had to get our hands on it and start developing for it. And so we did… Announcing the release of ZombieSmack, the first HoloLens game from Falafel with many more to come. If you own a HoloLens, you can download and play ZombieSmack for FREE. For those of you who do not have a HoloLens, ZombieSmack is our take on the old school arcade game whack-a-mole game and since Halloween…

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A Rise in Demand for Xamarin Consultancy

By | Xamarin | No Comments

Since the Microsoft Acquisition of Xamarin, Falafel has seen a major uptick in demand for services on Xamarin Technologies and in the last 3 months, 4 major corporations have hired Falafel to architect and implement Xamarin based solutions for over $1,000,000 in services revenues. When we first heard that Microsoft was acquiring Xamarin back in February this year, we at Falafel Software were both excited and curious. The team here has always loved Xamarin and we are all Microsoft Certified Professionals so this partnership made sense as we work with technologies from both companies. The surprising aspect was since the…

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Microsoft Research Video Commentary – “Towards Better User Interface for 3D”

By | Blogs, Hardware, Microsoft, Multi-Device | No Comments

Being one of those media consumers that have cut the cord with the cable company and consuming media strictly online, I’ve been managing my YouTube subscriptions judiciously. Channels with a low-signal-to-noise ratio get axed quickly. A few months ago hundreds of videos started flooding my feed. The culprit was Microsoft Research. They are publishing videos at a mind-blowing rate. I counted over 1600 videos uploaded during one WEEK in August. Not year, not month, but in one WEEK. The range of the subjects are vast. A random selection of a few are: System Design for Cloud Services – Part 1 GeoS Video…

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Loading Components on Demand – An Introduction to Angular 2

By | Angular 2, Google, HTML5, JavaScript, Microsoft, News, Web | One Comment

This is post 11 of 11 in the series “An Introduction to Angular 2” Background Components are the building blocks of any Angular 2 application. We usually create our components and then define where and how they are included. A component is loaded using either an HTML tag (following the component’s selector) or by using a router outlet if we have routing in place (You can read more about Routing in a previous post). In many cases, we find ourselves needing to load components dynamically (on demand) by following a certain criteria or state that is not represented by route. Cases when we don’t…

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Working with HTTP – An Introduction to Angular 2

By | Angular 2, HTML5, JavaScript, Microsoft, News, Web | No Comments

This is post 9 of 11 in the series “An Introduction to Angular 2” In a previous article, we discussed RxJs and how we can use it with Angular2. In this post, we will take a closer look at HTTP and some of the key differences in using HTTP with Angular 2 vs Angular 1. Background jQuery came up with a very intuitive way of dealing with HTTP requests (XMLHttpRequest (XHR) and JSONP). It introduced a $.ajax() method which takes a request configuration and returns a promise. Many JavaScript frameworks followed the path of jQuery and Angular 1 was no different. While similar…

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Language Options – An Introduction to Angular2

By | Angular 2, CSS, HTML5, JavaScript, Microsoft, News, Web | One Comment

This is post 2 of 11 in the series “An Introduction to Angular 2” Before you start developing an Angular2 application, there are a few selections that you have to make. One of those choices is the programming language that you want to use with Angular2. While Angular2 is a JavaScript framework at heart, there are nevertheless, a few options to choose from. In this column, we are going to look at the options and examine the differences in syntax, to help you make that choice. Background The JavaScript language specification standard is called ECMAScript, or ES.ECMAScript is standardized by the ECMA International standards organization and…

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Running Resource Intensive Jobs Using Azure Batch

By | .NET, Azure, Batch Processing, Microsoft, Visual Studio | No Comments

This is post 29 of 31 in the series “A Cloudy 29 Days of Microsoft Azure” Running Resource Intensive Jobs Using Azure Batch Azure Batch Services provide a framework for resource or computationally expensive jobs. When I say “computationally expensive”, think 3D rendering for Pixar, engineering stress analysis, or calculations for fluid dynamics. The DIY approach starts with “I’ll add a ‘for’ loop and kick off some background executables”. But once you start to scale in any direction, then you’re off to the races building infrastructure to handle generic plumbing needs like… Install apps and dependencies. Dispatch, queue and start…

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Migrating from Mobile Services to Mobile Apps, when you should consider it

By | .NET, Android, Apps for Office, Azure, Microsoft, Mobile, News, node.js, Office365, Visual Studio, Web, Web & Mobile | 4 Comments

This is post 13 of 31 in the series “A Cloudy 29 Days of Microsoft Azure” In this column we are going to discuss the difference between Mobile Apps and Azure Mobile Services,. Azure Mobile Services allows you to add a cloud-hosted scalable backend to your connected apps within minutes. Whether you’re building apps for Windows 8, Windows Phone, iOS or Android you can take advantage of the Azure cloud to streamline your data and provide a robust, reliable and cost-effective platform to support your application. Mobile Services has been around since 2012 when it was in preview, and has seen many version updates and…

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What to love and hate about Azure’s DocumentDB

By | Azure, C#, Data & Storage, JavaScript, Microsoft, News | 8 Comments

This is post 4 of 31 in the series “A Cloudy 29 Days of Microsoft Azure” Azure DocumentDB is Microsoft’s fully-managed document-oriented NoSQL database service that is built to work within the Azure Cloud ecosystem much like SQL Azure, SQL Storage, Azure search, etc. DocumentDB is relatively a new player in the NoSQL world (it was released for general availability in April 2015). It comes with an impressive list of features and has gone through several version updates. It also has its limits (the list hasn’t been updated for a while so make sure you read the comments section). In this post we are…

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Protect and Restore your Azure VMs: Azure Backup Vault – 29 Days of Azure

By | Azure | One Comment

If you read Part 1 of my posts on ARM, then you’ll remember there is a caveat to ARM VMs, at least for right now. Azure automatic backups only work for ‘Classic’ VMs, NOT those created using ARM templates. IaaS v1 VMs are fine, just not v2. So for now, use those template VMs as the machines you can blow away and start over, and use classic VMs for anything you need to automatically backup using an Azure backup vault.

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Heart Rate Display with a Photon and a Microsoft Band

By | .NET, Blogs, C#, Fun, IoT, Microsoft Band, Mobile, Multi-Device, News, Photon, Visual Studio, Windows Phone | 4 Comments

Those who know me, know I love sensors, and doing things with sensors. I’ve published many posts on accessing the various sensors on the Microsoft Band: Accelerometer & Gyroscope, Ultraviolet, Skin Temperature, and Galvanic Skin Response. One subject that I haven’t gotten to is the heart rate sensor. I’ve also started to publish a few IoT posts. For this post, I thought it would be fun to integrate the Band’s heart rate sensor with a Particle Photon so you can visualize your heart rate with an RGB LED. The LED pulses at the same rate as your heart and will shift…

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PIR Sensor with a Photon, Particle Cloud, and a UWA

By | .NET, Blogs, C#, Fun, IoT, Microsoft, Multi-Device, News, Photon, Visual Studio, Windows, Windows Universal Apps | One Comment

My latest sensor experiment involved the PIR Motion Sensor (HC-SR501) that comes with the Photon Maker Kit. The motion sensor didn’t have the best English documentation; however, there were enough translations and fragments out on the Internet to get the job done. I decided to interface the motion sensor with a Photon, and then feed the sensor output to a UWA through the Particle Cloud by using a Particle Event Stream. The sensor has two potentiometers on its PCB. One controls the sensitivity of the sensor and the other controls the output latch delay. Turning the sensitivity down essentially limits the…

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Using Azure DocumentDB with Cordova Tools in Visual Studio (or any JS client)

By | ASP.NET, Azure, Cordova, HTML5, iOS, JavaScript, Microsoft, Mobile, Multi-Device, News, node.js, Tools, Visual Studio, Web | 4 Comments

Abstract A few weeks ago, I set on a mission to learn more about Azure DocumentDB. My end goal was to use Azure DocumentDB with a JavaScript client application specifically with a Cordova app built with the new Tools for Apache Cordova or TACO which the team introduced a while ago. Background In April 2015, Microsoft officially released DocumentDB, its cloud, document oriented, NoSQL database (It was in preview since 2014). Azure DocumentDB, a new player in the NoSQL market, is built to work within the Azure Cloud ecosystem much like SQL Azure, SQL Storage, Azure search, etc. You would use DocumentDB…

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Controlling an RGB LED on a Photon with a UWA Color Picker

By | .NET, Blogs, C#, Fun, IoT, Microsoft, Mobile, Multi-Device, News, Photon, Visual Studio, Windows Universal Apps | 3 Comments

The Particle Photon makes it easy to control the color of an RGB LED. There are a number of color picker controls you can use in Windows apps. I wanted to see how easy it was to hook a Photon RGB LED up to a Windows app color picker. It ended up being a snap by using the Particle cloud functions. In this project I wrote a simple UWA that calls a Particle cloud function called “setRGB” on my targeted Photon whenever I change the selected value on the color picker. Then I implemented an event handler on that Photon’s…

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Exploring Multi-Photon and Particle Cloud Functionality with a Useless Machine

By | .NET, Blogs, C#, Fun, Hardware, IoT, Microsoft, Mobile, Multi-Device, News, Photon, Visual Studio, Web, Windows, Windows Universal Apps | 2 Comments

There are many ways for Particle Photons to interact with each other. Even more ways for other devices and apps to interact with Photons through the Particle Cloud. To explore these capabilities, I created a useless machine. My useless machine is made up of two Photons. Photon 1 “falafel_1” has a photo resistor and a green LED. Photon 2 “falafel_2” also has a photo resistor and a green LED. However, Photon 2 also has a servo motor and a second red LED. The servo motor is mounted so that when it is rotated to 90 degrees, it covers both photo…

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Light Bulbs and Quick Actions – Day 16 – Visual Studio 2015

By | Visual Studio | 5 Comments

Here is another productivity enhancement to Visual Studio 2015 – Light Bulbs and Quick Actions. I love this trend of taking my favorite features from premium paid extensions (like the Light Bulbs I know from ReSharper) and making them an integrated part of the application. I can really tell the Visual Studio team is paying attention to the voices and needs of its users.

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Particle Photon Oscilloscope

By | .NET, Blogs, C#, Fun, Hardware, IoT, Microsoft, Mobile, Multi-Device, News, Photon, Visual Studio, Windows | 2 Comments

I previously turned my Windows IoT Core-based Raspberry Pi 2 into an oscilloscope, but I didn’t stop there. The next gadget in my target is the Particle Photon. This is an amazing little device. However ,unlike the Raspberry Pi 2, it doesn’t have an HDMI output (it’s only about the size of an HDMI connector). I wasn’t sure how best to display the signal data. I took inspiration from a post from Hackster.io – Sending sound over the Internet. They used the TCP capabilities of the Photon to stream audio data to a client. That’s all I needed to bring…

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Windows IoT Core Remote Wifi Scanner

By | .NET, C#, Fun, IoT, Microsoft, Mobile, Multi-Device, News, Visual Studio, Windows, Windows Universal Apps | 3 Comments

Windows IoT Core has a nice web-based device management interface. This app can configure many aspects of the device, such as connecting the device to a WiFi network. Because the web-based device management was just a web app, I thought it shouldn’t be difficult to write a remote app to do the same. I ended up with a remote app that could query WiFi networks visible to a Windows IoT Core device and connect or disconnect that device to those networks. To get started, I connected my browser to the web-based device management app for one of my Windows IoT Core…

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Using Application Insights with Cordova Apps in Visual Studio

By | Azure, Cordova, CSS, Fun, HTML5, iOS, JavaScript, Mobile, News, Tools, Visual Studio | 3 Comments

Abstract When developing a mobile application, native or hybrid, we require a certain way to monitor and track different activities and events in the application. Developers need to detect issues, solve problems and continuously improve the application code. Marketers, on the other hand, want different kind of metrics. For instance, they want to know how many people are using the application on a daily basis, what features they are using and how they are interacting with the application. Background Application Insights is a set of services that provide actionable insight into a production application. It monitors your application to detect issues,…

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Windows IoT Core Oscilloscope

By | .NET, Blogs, C#, Fun, Hardware, IoT, Microsoft, Mobile, Multi-Device, News, Telerik, Tools, Visual Studio, Windows Universal Apps | 2 Comments

In my continuing quest to see what the Windows IoT Core is capable of and my desire to push my gadgets to their limits, I came up with an interesting oscilloscope project using a Windows IoT Core-based Raspberry Pi 2 and a simple ADC. Now, I’m not claiming that you can just quickly build an oscilloscope using a Raspberry Pi 2 and an ADC and never need to spend the money on an oscilloscope ever again. The one shown in this project is limited in its temporal resolution to the millisecond range. For an oscilloscope, that’s slow, but it may…

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Bluetooth Rfcomm Communication with a Windows IoT Core Device

By | .NET, C#, IoT, Mobile, News | 2 Comments

Being a gadget guy, I can’t express enough the excitement I have for the Windows 10 IoT Core. The fact that I can now run most any UWA on a Raspberry Pi 2 is cool. I looked at the many ways you could wirelessly communicate with the Raspberry Pi 2. Carey has done a great post on using ZigBee modules. Then there is also Wifi and Bluetooth. This post will look at using Bluetooth to link a Raspberry Pi 2 with my Surface Pro 3. If you’ve not installed the Windows IoT Core onto your Raspberry Pi 2 you can…

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Microsoft Band Galvanic Skin Response Sensor

By | .NET, Blogs, C#, Fun, Microsoft, Mobile, News | One Comment

Before I get to the sensor, Microsoft updated the Band SDK today. From what I can tell, this update did not significantly change any of the sensors I’ve covered on the API level. Once I’ve had a better look at it I’ll post any changes I do find. The next Microsoft Band sensor in my target is the Galvanic Skin Response sensor, or more simply the Contact sensor. This sensor is designed to give you an indication of if the Band is actually being worn or not. This sensor sends a small electric charge from the metal frame around the…

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