Using Open Live Writer to blog more !

Scott Hanselman and a bunch of other open source developers launched Open Live Writer a few days ago.  This open source version of the old Windows Live Writer – which I never used before either – seems to work already very well in it’s current v0.5 version.

I hope it’ll help me to blog more… for that reason I decided to blog about the last year.

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How I defrosted the frozen Windows 8 Apps !

After installing the latest Tuesday updates for Windows 8, which included the blacklisting (instead of whitelisting) Flash sites for WinRT Internet Explorer, all of my WinRT apps froze up after launching them.

If you launched the apps, the app froze right away, even before the “loading” round spinner thingy normally should appear under the “Modern UI” logo of the app.

After reading a lot of forum threads I fixed it like this:

  1. I ran a “chkdsk c: /f” and rebooted
  2. download the apps.diagcab file from : http://download.microsoft.com/download/F/2/4/F24D0C03-4181-4E5B-A23B-5C3A6B5974E3/apps.diagcab
  3. unblock it’s access (right click > Properties > Unblock)
  4. run the “apps.diagcab”
  5. click the “Windows Store Apps” and click Next
  6. close the “apps.diagcab”
  7. run the “apps.diagcab”
  8. click the “Protected Audio” and click Next
  9. close the “apps.diagcab”
  10. run the “apps.diagcab”
  11. click the “Background Intelligent Transfer Service” and click Next
  12. close the “apps.diagcab”
  13. Then, I opened a CMD window with administrative priviledges
  14. And finally I started a “sfc /scannow” which scans and fixes some system files.

This took about a hour or 2, but aftwards all worked fine again.

Happy panda !

Getting a Nokia Lumia 920 ? It’s a mission impossible !

Dear Nokia,

If you’re reading this… FIX IT !  This is getting hopeless !

When Nokia showed off their high end Lumia 920, I was almost drooling onto my keyboard on September 5th 2012.  Since the phone didn’t launch immediately everywhere I waited until until November 11th 2012 to place my order for a yellow Lumia 920 at Cyberport.
I used a German site since only certain countries in Europe got the privilege to deliver the Lumia 920 shortly after launch… Germany and France where 2 of the neighboring countries of Belgium – where I live – that got their chances.
So I ordered after friends got some good experiences with Cyberport before.

I first got an email stating that the delivery will be November 15th… not bad for if you know that the phone needs to come from Dresden to Belgium.
On November 19th Cyberport sends me an email that the delivery will take place on November 22nd.  No problem, that’s only days from the 19th… so why bother.
On November 23rd, Cyberport mails me that the delivery will take place on November 29th… no problem I thaught, it’s still before the upcoming holidays… no stress man !
The on the 30th of November Cyberport mails me again that the delivery will take place December 13th. Grrr… this pushing back is getting annoying, but several messages on Windows Phone sites state that Nokia is having a hard time to deliver… so it’ll be… let’s wait some more.
December 8th I got a mail from Cyberport that my phone probably will be send on December 13th… wohoo ! yeeey !  Finally !
For some reason they only noticed that my money arrived via a wire transfer at December 14th !  This while it was transferred like a month before from my account !  Stop kidding me !  Are you guys sleeping there ?
That same day Cyberport sends me also a mail that the phone will be delivered whenever they receive one… in fact they finally admit that they don’t know when that might be.

I waited like a few days more, but on December 22nd, I canceled my order at Cyberport.  I saw that CoolBlue had pre-orders that where even € 10,00 cheaper than the first time Business To Business offer that Cyberport gave me.  So why not try my luck there ?

I ordered the yellow Nokia Lumia 920 at CoolBlue on January 2nd 2013, then the delivery date mentioned on the website was January 10th.  Then one day later, on January 3rd, CoolBlue sent me an email that the delivery date was now 11th of February.

And yesterday, on February 5th, CoolBlue sent me again an email with excuses that the delivery won’t be earlier as march 30th !
All this is because apparently Nokia can’t produce enough units to deliver Belgium… come on !  How can Windows Phone get a real chance to penetrate the market if there are no top notch devices to get in all countries ?

The mail of CoolBlue is true, because the website of Nokia Belgium now also states that the device is not available yet in Belgium.

This is now 5 months I’m waiting for a killer device that is kind of M.I.A.
Pretty frustrating !

Why I think that bold colors are good for Windows Phone 8 ?

2 days ago, HTC launched their new Windows Phone 8 devices, the 8X and the 8S.

HTC 8X

Both devices come in a lot of bold colors as you can see in the pictures. Yesterday somebody on Twitter said:”Nokia Lumias got samsunged by HTC”

Meaning that HTC is following the bold color movement that Nokia started with their Lumia phones.

Nokia Lumia 920

Apart from being a funny tweet, Ithink that’s not at all a bad thing that HTC produces colorfull Windows Phones.People will see those colorfull phones in stores and will ask what those are… in a few months people will associate bold colored phones with Windows Phones.
I only hope that other smartphone producers will go the same route.I hope that this will only boost the sales for Windows Phone, so we finally start to see some marketshare growt, so that in the end companies will ask for produce a “Smartphone app” not only for iOS and Android, but also for our Windows Phones !

Bye Bye DropBox !

Weeks (months ?) ago I read some scary privacy issues that people where bringing up about DropBox.
It got to me too, so I quickly moved most (actually all) of my stuff to my huge (25 GB) SkyDrive.

Today, I opened my Task Manager to see why my Zenbook was reacting so slow right after boot.
This is what caught my eye !

First of all, it was of course not DropBox that slowed my ultrabook down, I guess it was the way that Windows 7 boots and my impatience that made me suffer.
Windows 8 works so much better, and especially quicker… I’m thinking of going all Windows 8 soon… but in les than 2 weeks Windows 8 will be RTM, so I can still wait just a little longer… no problems there.

Back to DropBox, see that the Windows 7 client is twice the size of the SkyDrive one ? And they basically do the same, provide an easy way of managing your online storage solution via the Windows Explorer.

So for me that was it, DropBox is going down, I uninstalled it…
Then I went to Dropbox.com unlinked all PCs and the iPad, and then closed my account.
What can you do with 2GB anyway ? It’s not even enough to upload all your family pictures.

Microsoft SkyDrive is the way I’m going, it works fine, has a small footprint, offered me a huge (25 GB) space because I’m a day 1 user (before the whole cloud mind switch way much fewer than now of course) and integrates superb with Windows 7, Windows 8, WindowsRT and Windows Phone, what does one need more ?

As long as you follow “The (Metro) Grid”, you’re good !

On November 3rd – during the Web & Phone UX Tour Belgium, Arturo Toledo meant that we all should follow “The Grid”… it sounded like a famous movie quote, but it’s not.

The Grid” probably got famous by Jeff Wilcox’ MetroGridHelper who saw Arturo and Corrina Black use it as a transparent image to align their controls.  The sad thing about the MetroGridHelper is that it’s only visible in debug mode, and not “while” layouting your app.  So layouting would mean constantly starting your app, see if all is well layouted, making changes, restarting your app, ah, darn, you forgot there something, so adjusting that again, of course restarting the app again to check, well, you get my drift I guess.

During the UX Tour event in Antwerp, I asked Arturo and Corrina if they could make their PNG publically available, they told me they would, so expect that one coming later this weekend (that’s what Corrina told me).

In the mean time, you can use this one, which is in fact just an export of the Expression Designer file Arturo posted a while ago on his blog.  Of course I had to expand the canvas of it, but I had all the heights and widths clearly marked on the Expression Designer file, so that was easy.  I recolored the blue rectangles to red slightly transparent ones too, so it looks more like the MetroGridHelper.

Windows Phone Grid in Red Transparent

Click to download it !

The easiest way to use it, is of course “Add an Existing Item” (the grid you just saved) to your project and then open your XAML Windows Phone Page in Expression Blend, open your Projects tab (the one that shows all the files in your project), and simply drag it on the Windows Phone Page.
Then just make sure it’s the lowest object in your Objects and Timeline panel, all the way at the bottom of the LayoutRoot object.  Also make sure to set all Margins to 0, else, of course it’s useless.
Expression Blend will generate the following line of XAML which perfectly does the trick !

<Image Height=”800″ Margin=”0″ Grid.Row=”1″ Source=”WindowsPhone_Grid_red_transparent.png” Stretch=”None” VerticalAlignment=”Bottom”/>

Don’t forget to remove these lines and image from your Windows Phone Pages when publishing your app !

A BIG thank you goes out to Corrina Black and Arturo Toledo, you now can also make perfect Windows Phone design as long as you follow “The Grid” !