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Simple succeeds: Visual Studio Code at 1.0

I have found myself using Microsoft’s new code editor Visual Studio Code more and more these days. It’s a simple and quick alternative to the does everything Visual Studio 2015. Its layout, file handling and keystrokes keep drawing me back to it from VS2015 and even from Notepad++. This is my editor of choice now. Below is an article from InfoWorld on it, with links to Visual Studio Code.

Visual Studio Code, Microsoft’s open source, cross-platform development environment powered by Node.js and the Blink layout engine has been upgraded to a full 1.0 release after approximately a year of open beta testing.

According to a blog post on the Visual Studio site, Code became a 1.0-grade product because its API has been stabilized. Code was originally created for JavaScript and TypeScript development, but it now supports common languages like C++, Python, Go, and React Native.

The runup to 1.0 has been about enhancing Code’s performance and making it into “a great editor for every developer,” including those using non-Western languages — nine languages total are currently supported — and those with visual impairments.

Much of the other work has been dedicated to producing a stable API for the application, so third-party language support going forward will be easier to maintain. Around 1,000 extensions are available for Code, providing themes, support for different languages, and enhancements for libraries in those languages.

The add-ons available for Visual Studio Code 1.0 include support for a plethora of languages, including Go, Python, and many flavors of JavaScript.

A large part of Visual Studio Code’s appeal is that it presents a lightweight, unobtrusive environment, where a developer installs only the items needed for a given job. It’s in sharp contrast to the product’s namesake, Visual Studio, which comes with most everything a developer might need, but is sprawling, complex, and not open source.

The contrasts between the two products are playing out like long-term experiments to see which approach will hold up best over time. Visual Studio is emblematic of Microsoft’s old school and is designed to serve Microsoft users first — though Microsoft has been working to heighten its appeal to newer generations of developers by slimming it down and even offering a functional for-free version. Visual Studio Code is powered as much by open source contributors as it is Microsoft, and it was built for the cross-platform, cross-environment development that Microsoft has admitted it must be part of.

Source: Simple succeeds: Visual Studio Code at 1.0 | InfoWorld

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Microsoft Desktop App Converter Now Available For Download – MSPoweruser

Desktop App Converter tool (Project Centennial) is now available for download from Microsoft. This new tool allows developers to convert their desktop app to a Universal Windows Platform (UWP) app. It converts a desktop Windows installer such as MSI or exe to an AppX package that can be deployed to a Windows 10 desktop.

Some of the benefits of converting your classic desktop app.

  • Your app’s installation experience is much smoother for your customers. You can deploy it to computers using sideloading (see Sideload LOB apps in Windows 10), and it leaves no trace behind after being uninstalled. Longer term, you’ll also be able to publish your app to the Windows Store.
  • Because your converted app has package identity, you can call more UWP APIs, even from the full-trust partition, than you could before.
  • At your own pace, you can add UWP features to your app’s package, like a XAML user-interface, live tile updates, UWP background tasks, app services, and many more. All of the functionality available to any other UWP app is available to your app.
  • If you choose to move all of your app’s functionality out of the full-trust partition of the app and into the app container partition, then your app will be able to run on any Windows 10 device.
  • As a UWP app, your app is able to do the things it could do as a classic desktop app. It interacts with a virtualized view of the registry and file system that’s indistinguishable from the actual registry and file system.
  • Your app can participate in the Windows Store’s built-in licensing and automatic update facilities. Automatic update is a highly reliable and efficient mechanism, because only the changed parts of files are downloaded.
  • Download it here from Microsoft. Read the MSDN documentation about this tool here.

Source: Microsoft Desktop App Converter Now Available For Download – MSPoweruser

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Today’s Developer: Multilingual, Excited For The Future … And Worried About Keeping Up

A new study, the Developer Insights Report, reveals some fascinating characteristics about today’s developers: Apparently, they tend to be fluent in a variety of languages, excited about the rush of innovation sweeping the tech scene and, at the same time, overwhelmed by it all.

The inaugural report, produced by the Application Developers Alliance and IDC, surveyed more than 850 developers about topics including the use of coding languages, types of projects tackled, attitudes about work and ambitions for the future.

Another key finding: The representation of female developers also seems to be on the rise, suggesting that recent attention on women in technology is manifesting in some real-world results. Here’s more on what the report uncovered.

First, The Good News

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The study found that developers are a rather multilingual bunch these days: As many as 88% know more than one language, with the largest group (70%) using between two and four in the last year. Some 18% used more than five over that period.

The number of women in the industry is also growing: While they only make up 25% of developers overall, the figure jumps to 42% when looking at those in their first year on the job.

Eighty-seven percent of the participants come from the mobile development sector, with Java the most highly cited programming skill (68% are at a moderate or advanced level). Most devs—at 71%—work on both business and consumer apps.

The Downsides

The report also explores some of the downsides of software and web development.

When looking at the question of why projects fail, the top three reasons were changing or poorly documented requirements (48%), under-funding or under-resourcing (40%) and poor team or organizational management (37%).

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Then there are the challenges of the future: The participants reported that their biggest concern is staying current with modern technology and tools. (The major of programmers turn to search engines and online forums for help with a problem.) Maintaining the ability to produce quality code and keeping a work/life balance came in at second and third place, respectively.

This suggests that the people responsible for the exciting new technologies and features place much more importance on work than their own personal lives—which also should make employers more deeply consider the consequences of escalating burnout among their ranks.

What Gets Developers Excited

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Let’s end on a high note: What gets devs excited about the future. Forty-four percent said wearables was the growing technology that excited them most—Apple Watch and all—while 39% named robotics and 35% pegged the consumer Internet of Things movement.

At the bottom of the list was drones, with 19%. (Apparently, they’re not as exciting for devs as they are for gadget lovers.)

The whole 39-page report is worth picking through, as it covers open-source software, developer experience, the use of particular tools and reliance on cloud computing.

“The Alliance Global Developer Insights survey shows an increasingly diverse developer universe that is dealing with the increasingly stressful and complex demands of modern business,” the report concludes. “The survey provides a broad view of the nature of modern application development, highlighting the increased focus on front-end development, the rise of the consumer app developer and continued adoption of agile methodologies as organizations focus on smaller software development teams.”

Lead photo by Phil Whitehouse; all other images courtesy of the Application Developers Alliance

Source: http://readwrite.com/2015/09/02/ada-idc-devs-report

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Thanks for open sourcing .NET say Point of Sale villains

VXers say Microsoft’s good intentions let them brew truly evil malware

Trend Micro researcher Jay Yaneza says Point of Sales malware has begun using Microsoft .NET, following its release as open source last year.

Yaneza found the new so-called GamaPoS malware being distributed to US organisations including credit unions, developers, and pet care businesses through the resurgent Andromeda botnet. He says the use of .NET as a platform to build point of sales malware is unique and likely to be adopted by the criminal underground.

“GamaPoS holds the distinction of being a .NET scraper — something unseen in prior PoS threats,” Yaneza says .

“We can attribute this development to the fact that it is easier to create malware in the .NET platform and, now that Microsoft made it available as an open-source platform, more developers are expected to use it for their applications.

“This makes .NET a viable platform to use for attacks.”

Yaneza says GamaPoS uses Andromeda’s backdoors to spread in a shotgun fashion further infecting about four percent of the botnet’s existing victims.

The malware combines two malicious features including PsExec, which hackers used to help pop retailer Target last year, and the Mimikatz hack tool that is considered one of the best vacuumers of Windows credentials.

That combination grants attackers a high degree of capability to move laterally inside breached networks.

Andromedia infections.

Victims are targeted using phishing scams that masquerade as would-be guidance on Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) or as information on installing Oracle’s MICROS, a popular payment operating system which it can also compromise.

GamaPoS will siphon Visa and Discover cards to its command and control servers over HTTPS.

The attack campaign organisers are thought to be also spreading the NitLovePoS payment operating system malware found in May.

“Using an old botnet as a shotgun method to cast a wide net for targets has its merits,” Yaneza says.

“Using spam and exploit kits to establish a large mass of bots enables operators to steal information from specific targets, some of which can be resold to other threat actors.”

 

Source: Thanks for open sourcing .NET say Point of Sale villains • The Register

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All Software Developers Have To Start Somewhere

Logger - VIC20 - screen shot

It seems we have come along way in what seems a short amount of time. Actually its a lot longer than I care to think about. Now a days I spend my time knee-deep in databases and data entry forms and lets not forget, reports. Data, data, data. But there was a time when such things were the last thing on my mind. Dare I say it something much more frivolous and fun. Games. Back when people were writing software in their bedrooms (we weren’t called developers then) and games weren’t  multi-million pound productions with hundreds of people working on them. For the record I didn’t have my first computer in the bedroom. It was for the whole family and used the TV in the front room. It was a Commodore VIC-20. Which later was ungraded to a Commodore 64 and then an Amiga 1000.

But writing code has always been fun and I had to have a go at my favorite arcade game of the time, Donkey Kong. I never got very far playing on it. It’s still pretty damn hard when I try playing it with MAME. But its only got 4 levels so they’re not going to let you do it quickly. I had already got one game coded on the VIC-20. A breakout clone. Even managed to sell a copy of it to a friend. Actually he wanted to buy it. There was definitely a shortage of good quality games at the time. If I remember correctly it would only get every brick if I allowed the ball to go through a wall once or twice. Certainly made it interesting to play.

Commodore VIC-20. If it was good enough for William Shatner it was good enough for us future developersWanting to do better next time I aimed higher. This time I had designed a new font for the game. This was essential for a VIC-20 game as custom fonts were used to display graphics. The Mario like character, the Kong character, platform, everything, was a character in a font or made of several characters. That meant I could use that font designer we typed in from a listing in Compute magazine. Of course we typed it in. There was no Internet, we couldn’t download it. There was nowhere to download it from. Program source code was printed in magazines and people had to type it in. Of course they had to make sure they typed it in correctly, or they would be playing an entirely different kind of game. A bug hunting one. A lot more frustrating and not nearly as much fun. Some of those listings were hexadecimal assembly code. They even had special software to make typing that in that bit easier. But you had to type those in first of course.

I liked the designing graphics part. That was definitely fun for me, and it made the creation of the code to make them move about the screen more interesting. After all what would you rather watch, a funny little man running around the screen or the letters “A” and “B”. As we were moving characters or symbols around the screen this wasn’t smooth pixel movement. This was move a graphic 8 pixels a time for every step. But hey those were the days. Moving graphics around the screen a pixel at a time was more complicated for the old VIC-20. It could be done but that meant manipulating the custom font in real-time to map a graphic to a set number of characters. This meant some very clever code in assembler. I wasn’t quiet at the stage yet. But I didn’t let it stop me from going ahead and coding my version of Donkey Kong. Of course I couldn’t call it that. So I came up with the name Logger. After all those do look like logs rolling down the platforms.

It didn’t seem long at all before I had a working game written in BASIC that only had one screen and only one log-rolling at once. But it worked and it was only my second attempt at coding. So I was quite proud.

Around this time a new magazine had started to be published in the UK called “Computer and Video Games“. Or C&VG for short. As there weren’t a great deal of games to review they, like other magazines, published the source code of games for the readers to type in and, cross their fingers and, hope it worked. I thought why not send mine in. A month or so later I received a copy of the magazine in the post and a cheque for 10 pounds. Much boasting to my college friends followed. Can’t remember if they were impressed or not.

Why this trip down a very long memory lane? The guilty confession is something that you are probably guilty of. Googling yourself. You haven’t done that? Really? Of course not. Lower down my search results was something I hadn’t seen for sometime. Site’s have cataloged nearly every game you can think of. This particular site (GB64) had not found “Logger” in the magazine but in a book. As apparently it had been collected with many others and reprinted. They even had a screenshot. How about that. You can even download it from here. Well, it saves you from having to type it in.

 

 

 

How are they doing that?

 

Doing it the old fashioned way!

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Microsoft’s After-Hours Employee App Project Offers A Slate Of New Software

Microsoft Garage is an initiative at Microsoft that works like an internal accelerator, taking ideas that employees have outside of their ordinary day jobs and turning them into real apps. The first batch broke cover last October, and now there are nine new projects making their official debut today.

These include a mobile app that lets software engineers check in on Visual Studio Online projects in a secure way without having to be on the company intranet on their notebook; a weather app designed for use in China that offers air quality reports customized for each user; and a conference call management app that can pull meeting ID and pins from invites and automatically enter the details to connect you to your call with a simple tap or voice command.

DevSpace, Your Weather and Join Conference are the apps Microsoft highlighted in a blog post announcing the new slate, but a few that might be even more useful for some users include Keyboard for Excel, which replaces your software keyboard with something specific to Excel, for optimal input of figures and formulas. The SquadWatch app, another Garage production, provides real-time location on friends and family who agree to take part, much like a Find My Friends for Windows Phone.

Other new apps that have already broken cover but that are re-launching with new features or updates in this batch include Mouse without Borders, which allows you to control multiple computers with a single mouse and keyboard; Developer Assistant, which offers a way to browse and re-use code snippets and samples from Visual Studio; Picturesque Lock Screen, which puts Bing home page pictures on your Android lock screen, as well as direct search and call/text notifications; and finally Torque, which gets updates that let you define Android shake behavior to trigger a range of actions, including voice search, calls, dictation or app launching.

Microsoft’s Garage is producing some of the most interesting software to come out of Redmond or any of the MS satellite offices in years, and this collection is no exception. Fostering innovation in an organization that size, which in many ways depends on stability and an innate conservatism is no small feat. Garage has managed to produce some interesting stuff you probably wouldn’t see come out of Microsoft’s main businesses, so it’s definitely helping to reduce the risks associated with large, slow-moving corporate entities.

Source:  Tech Crunch – Microsoft’s After-Hours Employee App Project Offers A Slate Of New Software.

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Microsoft Launches a New API for OneDrive

OneDrive API

I’ve always liked Microsoft OneDrive and this could be a good way of sharing your files between your web apps and mobile apps. I’ve had a little project on the back burner for a while. Maybe a reason to dust it off now.

Despite recent partnerships with Dropbox, Box and other cloud storage solutions, Microsoft isn’t giving up on OneDrive: the company is today launching a new API for the platform.

The new tool lets developers integrate OneDrive right into their apps; the API supports Windows, iOS, Android and the Web.  It also brings some new features, such as:

  • Allow apps to retrieve new changes to files and folders with minimal sync calls
  • Resume uploads of files up to 10GB
  • Customizable file thumbnail images for better design integration

Previously, developers had to use the Live SDK in order to integrate OneDrive into their apps; though that will still work, Microsoft is encouraging developers to shift towards the new API because of its new features.

Interested developers can check out the new API at Microsoft’s hub.

Source: The Next Web – Microsoft Launches a New API for OneDrive.

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Microsoft’s Imagine Access Is Your All-Access Pass For The Software Tools You Need

The good thing for developers who use Microsoft tools is there is no shortage of those tools. If you’re just starting out there is now no shortage of tools that will help you without having to throw you in at the deep end. Still there is a lot to learn but where to start has gotten a little easier.

Microsoft Imagine connects you with the tools and knowledge you need to create, code, and develop your ideas. So whether you’re new to coding, studying it in school, or planning for your career, you can dream big, build creatively, and boldly bring your ideas to life. Microsoft Imagine Access is students all-access pass for the software tools they need, no matter their skill level or experience, and all at no cost.

Featured software for beginning coders:

Featured software for taking your next steps into coding:

Featured software for advanced coding students:

Get even more advanced software from Microsoft DreamSpark & GitHub:

For more information go here.

Source Microsoft NewsStudents: Microsoft’s Imagine Access Is Your All-Access Pass For The Software Tools You Need.

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Change of Hosting – A Good Move

Blue WordPress Logo

I enjoyed my fling with WordPress.com but that affair came to a quick end. Don’t get me wrong it really has it advantages. Being completely free, it proved itself to be a great introduction to WordPress by the people who know the most about it.

Setting up my site was fun but I came to wondering a couple of things. Firstly how do I get the domain I currently own to work with it and, secondly how do I use all those plugins people talk about that can make your WordPress site into something special with little effort?

As it turns out the answer to the first question is a simple “that will be £9 please”. In an effort to make a little money out of people using WordPress.com for free, is to charge for the little things of course. They actually stop you from redirecting to your site with domain forwarding unless you pony up for the extra domain mapping option. All the extra options are available in the shop section that sits in the dashboard of site created in WordPress.com. I was tempted but the second question I had, was the one point that made me look elsewhere.

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