Book review: Programming Windows Store Apps with C#

If you are developing a business apps for Windows 8.1 or WinRT 8.1.1, this is a must read book from O’Reilly. The authors Matt Baxter-Reynolds and Iris Classon are providing us with a well-written, accessible and practical book. Most of all, you are guided through the details of designing and building a complete, useful, fully functional business app.

The code crafted throughout the 15+ chapters is well designed. It allows the readers to quickly grasp the concepts explained, like transitioning from .NET, XAML, MVVM, persistent data, the app bar, notifications, settings, sharing, searching, background agents, resources and localization.

If you are short on learning time want to create a working application at the same time you are building your skills, I highly recommend you read this book and start developing professional Windows 8 apps today.

Posted in Book review | Leave a comment

Book review: Windows Phone 8 Application Development Essentials

Written by a Software Engineer for Software Engineers

If you are new to Windows Phone 8 developments, this book will give you a quick overview and facilitate your learning curve. Bring your understanding of C# and read this concise book that goes right to the point. No pages are wasted explaining the genesis of Windows Phone or detailing the C# language. Easy to understand and supported by a fully functional piece of code, this book clearly exposes good practices to use in your Windows Phone 8 developments.

The associated code sample (downloaded from Packt Publishing) is well designed, allowing the reader to quickly grasp the concepts explained, like XAML, MVVM light, storage, settings, background agents, notifications, toasts, launchers and choosers. The last chapters also explain how to integrate social media in your application, enabling Facebook and Twitter.

Tomasz Szostak is a Software Engineer writing for Software Engineers. If you don’t have time to waste and want to learn by doing, I highly recommend you read this book and start developing Windows Phone 8 apps today.

Posted in Book review | Tagged | 1 Comment

App: M2M App Challenge with “Personal Parking Assistant” for Tesla

On June 7 to 9, 2013, I participated with Henry Yu in the Machine-to-Machine app challenge organized by Connected Devices magazine in Santa Clara, CA. We won the first prize sponsored by IoBridge and were featured in and on the cover of the August/September issue of Connected World Magazine

We created an application to help drivers park their car in tight garage space, more accurately and faster. Here is the idea behind it…

  • Problem
    • Most people have big cars and a small or cluttered garage
  • Solution
    • Actively assist the driver during the parking and exit phases using:
      • 4 ultrasound sensors on the sides controls the lateral position, while a front ultrasound sensor controls when the car should stop
      • local feedback is given with a needle showing the direction to take, and a green light to show when you reach the right position
      • using IoBridge, the sensor information is sent in real-time to a web page showing the exact shape of the garage and the car moving inside
      • the driver of the Tesla Model S sees the web page inside the car in real-time (flight time < 180 ms)
    • Send tweet to dedicated Twitter accounts when the car is parked. That way, your spouse/family/friend is informed and knows the car can be used
    • Access the official list of recalls and automatically inform you for recalls of your car model
  • Potential
    • Reduce self-inflicted scratches and insurance premiums
    • Reduce stress while parking
    • Potentially reduce the number of cars needed by sharing more
  • Benefits
    • No maintenance (availability)
    • Everyday use (stickiness)
    • Real-time feedback (friendliness)
    • Install-it-yourself kit for home, office, mall, etc. (monetization)
    • Twitter (socialization)
    • Most precise/fastest (gamization)

The services and tools used were:

  • Iota from IoBridge,
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall information,
  • The NHTSA dataset provided by,
  • Microsoft Visual Studio,
  • Tweeter.

Some future improvements to the system could be:

  • Store a secure log in the cloud
  • Use the log data to automatically detect unusual patterns and send security alerts
  • Automatically close the garage door and arm the house security when all cars are out
  • Use direction lights in addition to the needle
  • Parking precision game for teen drivers / seniors

And finally, two images of the prototype presented:

WP_20130609_005  wp_ss_20130609_0001

Posted in Applications | Leave a comment

App: Reflex for Windows Phone

This is a Windows Phone 7/8 application.

The Concept:

  • The goal is test and improve the rapidity of your reflexes with a fast, easy-to-use application.

The Opportunity:

  • Windows Phone platform is not yet crowded with too many apps and developers.

The Potential:

  • Easily accessible anywhere with your smartphone.
  • I expect to add the following features in the near future:
    • Leaderboard.
    • More target images.
    • Use speech in place of touch.
    • Ability to have multiple players competing in the same game.

The Result:

ReflexApplicationIconReflexSplashScreenImage ReflexScreenshot 2 ReflexScreenshot 1

Posted in Windows Phone | Tagged | 1 Comment

Info: How to do Hackathons?

For organizers

For hackers

Presentation tips

    • First impression:
      • Be humble.
      • Show passion.
      • Don’t say: this is the best app, only app, first app, etc.
      • Make sure your app works. Be ready. Have fallback screenshots.
      • Say: “We are like …” for a quick reference, but don’t show you stole an idea.
    • Have:
      • A 10 sec  overview: What issue it solves, What it does, How it works.
      • A business model.
      • A knowledge of your audience and what you are asking for (who you pitch to).
    • Justify why it is unique.
    • You’ve got 10 sec, then 2 min, then 3 min, etc. Don’t lose your audience.
    • Don’t give too much detail, long statements.
    • Move demo, less PowerPoint.
    • Observe your audience reaction.
    • Spend 10 times your pitching time practicing.
    • Don’t force funny.


  • Remember you’ve had many hours to hack, but only 1 to 5 minutes to present. Make the most of your time!
  • Come up with a description of your hack that is under 5 words. Keep it short, easy to understand and easy to remember. Think of this as the only part people will remember and repeat, so open with it, end with it, and mention it again when you can.
  • Focus most of your time on the product demo itself.
  • The basic elements of an ‘elevator pitch’ that you can consider using:
    • The Problem Statement. What is the issue that you are solving, what are the pain points, what is the size of the opportunity (in potential users or $)?
    • The Solution. What does your product do, how does it work, what platform is it on, can people access it today? If so, how?
    • Differentiators. What makes your hack different from anything else out there? What is innovative about it? What have you thought about that no one else has?
  • Be sure to name the APIs that you used! That is what makes you eligible for the awesome API prizes.
  • Have a good backup. Demos often fail right when you need them most. Have a backup, such as screenshots or simple slideshow in case your demo doesn’t work out just as planned.
  • Practice! You have to practice to know how long 2 minutes is — they go by very quickly. Practice a few times to get your timing and pacing down.


  • Don’t spend time introducing your team. Everybody here is brilliant and accomplished, but you’re only being judged on what you accomplished this weekend.
  • Don’t go into detail about the business model or financial projections. No one is expecting a fully-fledged business to be formulated already; focus on the product, if you do have an idea of how you want to build a business around your product, that’s great, mention it. But the focus should be on what you built.
  • Don’t use more than 1-2 stats in your presentation. Nobody is going to remember them anyway.

Branding & Finishing Touches

  • There are hundreds of hacks that you are trying to stand out among. Get creative!
  • Pick a name that is easy to pronounce, spell and remember.
  • Since everyone here is working on hacks, your name will be easier to remember and relate to your product if you don’t use the hackathon name but some other way to describe your product.
  • Other tips for coming up with a name: put together unexpected combinations of words; create new words that convey some kind of meaning; use weird word prefixes/suffixes.
  • Do you have a website, logo, distributable build? These all add extra polish.
  • Show off, be proud of what you did, have fun on stage and good luck!


  • If there’s a chance of things breaking, don’t rely on live demos. When live      demos break down, you get distracted and embarrassed trying to fix it, and      before you know it, time is up and you’ve shown nothing. Consider making a      video of your app in action or some screenshots.
  • You may still be asked to somehow demonstrate your hack performing its      function to the judges, so even if you don’t do a live demo, be prepared for a mini demo in the questions.
  • You may also be asked to show the code behind a function – have this at the      ready.
  • All of the team should stand up front during the presentation, while 1 or more      people in your team can make the presentation. Remember, the more people,      the more choreography you need to get your message across.
  • Whoever presents should be capable of explaining the idea in clear English and make it interesting to people. Don’t ramble!
  • Make sure you are speaking into the microphone so everyone can hear. If you can’t hear yourself over the speakers, neither can anyone else.
  • Look at the audience and the judges when you present and try not to stand      between the projector and the screen.
  • Lastly, take a look over the rules, especially the judging section. The judges will be judging based on these criteria, and these alone.

For watchers

  • Do not interfere with organizers and presenters. Most of them have spent many hours working and some even did not sleep. Their temper may be short and their level of frustration high.
Posted in Info | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

App: Morse Translator for Windows Phone

This is a Windows Phone 7/8 application.

The Concept:

  • An application to translate clear text to and from Morse code.
  • The goal is to help you learn Morse code.

The Opportunity:

  • Windows Phone 7/8 platform is not yet crowded for developers.

The Potential:

  • Easily accessible from your smartphone in the field.
  • Keep the history of all generations and validations.
  • I expect to add the following features in the near future:
    • Send history through email.
    • Use Morse sound when translating from clear text to Morse.
    • Use speech when translating from Morse code to clear text.
    • Add some training pages.

The Result:

MorseTranslatorAppTileIcon300x300 MorseTranslatorScreenshot1x MorseTranslatorScreenshot2x MorseTranslatorScreenshot3x MorseTranslatorScreenshot4x MorseTranslatorScreenshot5x MorseTranslatorScreenshot6x

Posted in Windows Phone | 1 Comment

App: My Dream Valentine for Windows

This is a Windows 8 application. Download it from Windows 8 Store at IC610556

The Concept:

– The goal of the game is to be kissed by your Valentine.
– Valentines are flying on the screen. You tap or click on them to give them flowers, hearts and chocolates.
– Each time a Valentine receives a gift, she kisses you and a kiss sound is heard. You also get one more point.
– There is also a flying witch that you do not want to touch. If you do, one of your remaining lives will be removed.

The Opportunity:

– Learn YoYo Games development platform
– Create a Windows 8 application in less than one day.

The Potential:

– Have fun with your virtual Valentine.

The Result:

– Winner of the second prize at the Cross Platform App Hackathon, held at Microsoft on February 15, 2013.

– Won the “Editor’s Pick Award” from

Posted in Windows 8 | Leave a comment