Archive for the ‘tip’ Category

I recently purchased an LG UltraWide 21:9 display. Why an ultra-wide and not 4K? a) I write code for a living and this is a great way to get two windows full size side-by-side without an extra monitor. b) It was only $130 instead of $400 due to a Best Buy sale. Sold!

I get home, connect it to my Surface Book, and nothing works. The screen just blinks on and off, on and off, blinkety blink, blinkety blink. No Bueno. Changing the cable made the blinkety blink go away, but the display control panel would suggest trying different settings, and wouldn’t light things up.

My friend Shane recommended I get an Active MiniDP to HDMI adapter. So I bought one on Amazon. Still, I didn’t want to wait… that’s 2 days with Prime shipping, and not fast enough.

So, I looked into the MiniDP adapter I was using. I found out it only supports up to 1080P! Maybe it’s DP 1.1 or something. Whatever it is, it couldn’t support a 2560×1440 or thereabouts display.

Fry’s had the answer – I made sure I found a MiniDP to HDMI adapter that clearly stated it supports 4K and MiniDP 1.2. The particular product I purchased was the Cirago Mini DisplayPort to HDMI Display Adapter.

I got home and the adapter worked flawlessly.

I hope that helps anyone having a similar issue!

 

I was recently included on a thread with a high school student considering programming as a career. Fellow developers at Eleven Fifty were sharing their insight. I liked my pre-caffeinated contribution. I hope you enjoy as well.

Aaron,
I echo Tiffany’s sentiment. I’d be delighted to be more interactive with you on questions. Funny – I think I went to school with a Rickleff.
Anyway… I *loved* computers growing up. Still, until I was in high school, I didn’t want to be a programmer, which I later learned was really a “software engineer.” I thought they were just unhealthy, unsocial slobs that worked long, grueling hours, with pizza their only food group. Well, that was television and movies, at least. I found programming and problem solving came easily, and I liked making the computer do whatever it was I wanted, if I only spent the time. I didn’t start out with programming as a career – I started with technology, being an analyst and writer at a consumer electronics research firm. It wasn’t until my friend [and employer] challenged me to write a program for the company, and I accomplished it by putting my hobby to good use, that I started thinking programming could be a career. I learned I could make a living with my favorite hobby. That’s fun, and freeing. It’s like not working, even when it feels like work.
So what will your career look like? Software engineering makes you somewhat of a white collar worker – the pay is higher, and you’re always working with intelligent people – not that you’ll always admit that. It’s more of a “white collar t-shirt” job, because you’re required to be both a thinker and a creator at once, which can be messy. Ask yourself if you like to make things better, and if you think about how to actually do it. Even if you don’t have the skill yet – that will grow over time, and you’ll have to fail… a lot – that two-punch thinking combination is what will get things done, and make you enjoy your job. Did I mention failing? It happens all the time. You’re always building things that don’t exist, based on ideas written in a few sentences by people who don’t know how to do what you’ll be able to do. Like the beautiful buildings you see when walking, to paintings at shows, to jokes you hear for the first time – all those are the final result after all the failures to make them reality before. Building designs start with an idea out of thin air, go through a billion revisions, and finally get built. Jokes usually start from trying variations that don’t get a blink, to the final one that makes an audience laugh. But the comic started the line of thought, from thin air, from inspiration, and from thinking about how people think. The same goes with programming.
The lesson: Fail quickly, then move on to the next approach.
That being said, I’ve found the best parts of programming are the community, and what it leads to.
First, Community. Software engineering is like medicine. You’re not going to know all the practices. You’ll be good at one, or a few, but can never be good at all. Yet, you’ll meet brilliant people that can fill in the gaps in your knowledge, and you feel even better when you do the same. As engineers, we inspire other engineers. Look at Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, Nicholai Tesla, Sergei Brin, Larry Page – all their bios mention influencers. Nobody did it on their own. They all had help.
Second, What it Leads To. Coming up with ideas all the time has its side effects. The most prevalent? A constant stream of ideas on how to make those cool computers, whether they have a keyboard or not – phones for example – do more stuff. You’ll have ideas. Lots of them. And you have the power to make your ideas real. You’ll fail in bringing them to reality, often. Like medicine, or any career really, you’ll get better over time, tuning your craft. You’ll release your ideas, maybe as apps, maybe as web sites, maybe just making your own projects millions of people use – like Apple, Google, Microsoft, and countless others you think of having the best and brightest. Those companies are full of people who aspired, as you do, to become software engineers at some point in their lives. Those companies were also started by software and hardware engineers. Heck, Apple practically invented the personal computer, and the software engineer that wanted to program it.
Gosh, that’s a lot, and I need another refill of coffee. I hope to discuss further, if you’d like.
Thanks and Best,
-Auri
Appending what a fellow developer and instructor answered to the same student:
What your career looks like in 5 or 10 years is a very personal choice.  If you are a guy looking for a desk job with great benefits in a big company, that’s going to look very different than if you have an entrepreneurial spark that leads you to develop your own products or freelance.  I can tell you that you need to talk to all types of software professionals to get this knowledge and find out what excites you most.  The best way to do so is to attend networking events.  Verge is a fun one for entrepreneurs.  I believe Auri can refer you to a few great .NET networking groups.
After 5 years of MY career, I found myself climbing a technical corporate ladder inside of Motorola and being very content with that.  But after 10 years (still at the same company), I grew restless and started my own freelance firm on the side while also transitioning from test to architecture within the big company.  And after 15 years, I found myself appreciating the big picture of software (sales / pm / business dev) more than I did the nitty gritty code and new technologies.
As far as highs and lows in a coding career… that’s a bit more finite.  There’s a huge high when you can point at something and say, “I did that! And it’s AWESOME!”  And an ever bigger high when your peers and mentors do the same.  And for every coder, there’s a dark dark low when you run into a problem that you just CAN’T figure out.  You feel alone, you feel stupid, and you feel like a failure.  As a coder, you’re going to need to expect those situations, not fear them, just grow and learn from them.
Hope this helps.  Feel free to find me & Auri at Eleven Fifty and chat about this stuff during the time you’re here.
Thanks,
Tiffany Trusty

I’ve discussed at length how to fix SkyDrive sync issues. Check out Another possible solution for OneDrive / SkyDrive sync issues and Possible OneDrive / SkyDrive sync fix for Windows 8. I have found that sometimes even resetting SkyDrive doesn’t fix the problem. Microsoft will charge you for a brute force approach, but I figured out one more option if nothing you’ve tried has started syncing back up again. Before you follow these steps, try the other two – this is a last ditch resort!

1. Make sure all other desktop and “modern” applications are NOT running. Only File Explorer should be running. Word, Chrome, whatever – they should all be closed.

2. Press Windows Key + X, select Command Prompt (Admin), and the Windows command prompt should appear.

3. Make sure the OneDrive app isn’t running – right-click it and select Close if you see it in the taskbar.

4. Type skydrive /shutdown

5. Wait a minute.

6. Right-click the task bar and select Task Manager.

7. Keep trying to end the OneDrive Sync Engine process until it disappears, as shown in the figure below. This may take a few tries.

image

8. Open the following folder:
C:\Users\your user account name\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\SkyDrive\settings
and you’ll see something like the figure below:

image

9. Delete all the files except for ClientPolicy.ini and global.ini.

10. Once they have been deleted, type the following: shutdown -r -t 0

11. Your computer should restart.

12. Log back in and your files should start resyncing. You’ll probably see results within a few hours. This will depend on the total number of files you have on OneDrive. You’ll also see downloads.txt and another funky-looking file start growing in size. If you see that, you know things are working, and OneDrive has started rebuilding everything.

I went back and forth between my code and various Telerik and Stack Overflow demos of how the Kendo grid is supposed to refresh its datasource without reloading the entire grid. Finally, Telerik sent me a code example that included a function that’s not in their API documentation, but darn well should be. So, if you’re having the same issue I did, where you want to call read() on your grid’s datasource, but it simply isn’t working, here’s an example from Telerik that may help you.

The function: getKendoGrid()

Now, I keep my createDataSource() function around so I can swap out the data I’m paging. Their example uses some sample data, but you could simply use their example of creating a datasource to call your back-end JsonResult action in MVC and things can still work magically.

I hope this helps others Smile

<body>
  <div id="grid" />
  <script>
    function createDataSource() {
      return new kendo.data.DataSource({
        transport: {
          read: {
            url: "/echo",
            dataType: "json",
            method: "POST",
           
            // Simulate response
            data: {
              "json": JSON.stringify([{
                firstName: "John",
                lastName: "Smith",
                age: 25
              }])
            }
          }
        },
        pageSize: 10
      });
    }
   
    var ds = createDataSource();
   
    $("#grid").kendoGrid({
      dataSource: ds,
      autobind: false,
      scrollable: false,
      columns: ["firstName", "lastName", "age"]
    });
   
    $("#grid").getKendoGrid().dataSource.read();
  </script>
</body>
</html>

And here’s a colorized version:

image

In an earlier post, I pointed to permissions issues causing SkyDrive to stop syncing. I found another solution that also appears to have worked, causing SkyDrive to sync again. Try moving your SkyDrive folder to another location, such as another drive, an SD card you never remove, or other similar area. I suggest a permanent location, not one you unplug and might forget to re-attach Smile I don’t know how long my fix will last this time, but try it and let me know.

Here’s how you change locations:

1. In Windows Explorer, right-click SkyDrive and select Properties.

image

2. When SkyDrive Properties appears, select the Location tab and click Move.

image

Note: In my example, I’ve already moved the folder. In yours, you will probably see c:\Users\username\SkyDrive

3. Choose the folder to move your files to. I called mine Auri’s SkyDrive and put it on my M: drive. Make sure you have plenty of room for your files! This will not trigger a download of all your files. However, you want to have enough room that the copy of existing files doesn’t fail.

4. Click Apply and wait a while. The window may freeze while Windows does its work. On a side note, if any Microsoft engineers are listening, this would be a great place to enhance the user experience. For example, a please wait indicator.

5. Once Windows has copied all the files to the new location, wait a while for Windows to sync, maybe a day. By then, your files may be back in sync and all will be good in the world.

Good luck!

-Auri

I know it may be an act of pure sadism, but I see value in having a full development environment available in a package that weighs less than a pound. My Dell Venue 8 Pro runs full Windows 8.1, so why not write code on it? Well, there’s a limitation. I’m chea… err, frugal. So, I bought the 32GB device, on sale for $99 during Microsoft’s “12 Days of Deals” event. After clearing out a lot of space, and after installing all my Windows Store apps, I had just under 6 gigs free. Visual Studio takes roughtly 5.38 gigs for a base install, and more than 7 for a full. I still want to download apps, so using all that precious main storage space isn’t an option.

So, why not use the MicroSD expansion, you say? Great idea! Oh, wait… Visual Studio won’t install on removable media unless it’s Windows To Go certified, which only a handful of USB drives, and no MicroSD cards, can claim privileged membership. What is a developer to do?

Mount Points

It turns out there’s a workaround, but it requires you to “trick” Windows. I want to use that MicroSD and all its 16 gigs of practically unused storage. (Yes, I could have used a 32, but I didn’t have one handy at the time. Anyway…)

Using a feature in NTFS that allows you to permanently point the contents of an empty folder to another drive, in this case the MicroSD, you can install anything you want in that folder, and it won’t affect the available drive space on C:, safely keeping everything in the “remote” storage location. These remote locations are called NTFS Mount Points.

Now, there’s a catch… Even if you have a 32 GB MicroSD, that doesn’t increase your primary drive’s capacity by 32 GB. If your C: drive, in this case, only has 6 gigs free, then that’s what any Windows Installer will see as available. Now, once the installation is underway, it won’t run out of space when installing. However, if you don’t have enough space on C: to install in the first place, it won’t continue. So, before you try this process, make sure you have enough room on the drive for installation as if you were installing without the remote storage location!

Ready? Let’s Go

The entire process is very simple. We’ll start at the Desktop, which you can access on the All Programs menu.

  1. First, make sure you have enough space free on your C: drive, since that’s where Visual Studio will want to install on your tablet.
  2. Open Explorer, go to your C: drive, and create an empty folder. I named mine MicroSD, so I know the contents are on the removable media. You might ask why I simply didn’t redirect my Program Files folder. Here’s the reason: That’s a risky move, and the MicroSD card is slower than the built-in SSD. Also, if the MicroSD fails, I can simply reinstall the non-essential programs in that folder, without affecting all my primary apps and overall tablet usability.

    image

  3. Long-tap This PC in the side panel, and select Manage.

    image

  4. When the Computer Management window appears, tap Disk Management under Storage.
  5. Long-tap your MicroSD card in the list of Volumes on the top, and select Change Drive Letter and Paths.
  6. Tap Add, then tap the option for Mount in the following empty NTFS folder, and select your folder by tapping Browse.

    image

  7. That’s it, now you can install Visual Studio! Simply set the install location to the new folder you created instead of the standard Program Files folder.

A few notes when installing:

  • Remember, this is a tablet with 2 gigs of RAM. Don’t install SQL Server and the like.
  • Don’t run servers on your Venue Pro unless you want to kill the battery. Yeah, it’s Quad Core, but it’s also a low power processor built for on-the-go computing.
  • Visual Studio still installs a lot on your C: drive in the Program Files and Windows folders. It’s a development system, after all. So, be prepared to sacrifice 2-3 gigs of available space there.
  • As you develop, Visual Studio still has its little droppings of temp files. Clean up a bit more often if you’re doing a lot of dev.

What about a keyboard?

That’s what I was thinking… I just ordered the Dell Tablet Wireless Keyboard accessory from Dell’s site. It’s still pending shipping, so once I receive it, I’ll post a review.

I have a link to the accessory in this post.

I picked up a Dell Venue 8 Pro for $99 as part of Microsoft’s 12 Days of Presents spree. Here are some tips & tricks for the more techy folks out there:

How to Access the BIOS

Press the power button once. Then hold down the Volume Down button until the Dell logo disappears. You don’t need a keyboard – it has an on-screen mouse mapped to the touch screen. Cool, eh?

To access the Advanced settings of the BIOS, follow the instructions through Step 7 below:

How to Speed Up SSD Disk Access by Modifying the EFI / BIOS

Thanks to Sasha for the following steps, which can increase speeds by over 50%!

1) From Windows, bring up the charms (swipe in from right)
2) Select Settings -> Change PC Settings, or Start, then All Apps, then PC Settings.
3) Choose Update and Recovery -> Recovery
4) Under Advanced Startup, select Restart Now
5) From this blue menu, select Troubleshoot, then select Advanced Options
6) Select UEFI Firmware Settings, then click Restart
7) Now, the BIOS shows up, hit the on-screen ESC button ONLY ONCE.
8) You’re now in the Main “tab”, with a vertical list of options, from here you must select Advanced, this lets you see all the BIOS settings and is different from hitting the Advanced tab across the top.
9) Select LPSS & SCC Configuration
10) Select SCC eMMC 4.5 HS200 Support and select Enabled (Mine was disabled by default)
12) Select DDR50 Support for SDCard and select Enabled (Mine was disabled by default)
13) Press F10 on the on-screen keyboard to save, then Save Settings and Exit and you’re all set.

Getting Back ~5 Gigabytes of Space by Removing Recovery Partition

The Dell Recovery Partition is essential for restoring your machine should something catastrophic happen. To add insult to injury, Dell often runs out of stock of recovery media, and won’t send you such after a year or two has passed. That’s hit me before, and it’s not fun. So, make sure you’ve backed it up!

Once you’ve backed up that recovery partition, there’s no point in keeping it. Get those gigs back!

Here’s how:

NOTE: Make sure you have at least 50% of your battery left for this process. I wouldn’t do this when hitting the lower ends of the battery spectrum.

  1. Go to All Applications and scroll all the way right to the Dell group. Tap the My Dell application.
  2. Click Backup, even if it says no backup software is installed.
  3. Click the Download Local Backup button. This will provide a link to download Dell Backup and Recovery, which you should download and install. Basically, once you click the Download button, select Run and wait for Setup to do its job. This process can take a long time. Even the download appears to be huge. It’s probably downloading the latest recovery data, but that’s just a guess.
  4. After the software has installed, it will request a restart. So, restart the tablet.
  5. Go to All Applications and back to the Dell group. Note the new Dell Backup and… option. Tap it.
  6. Wait a few moments for the cool clock animation to complete, then agree to whatever terms are presented, or not.
  7. Tap the Reinstall Disks option. This is the equivalent of a Factory Restore partition backup.
  8. Tap USB Flash Drive, which is probably the only real option you have with this unit. This includes use of the Micro SD card, which is what I used, since I didn’t have a USB adapter handy. If you decide to use an external burner, that’s cool, too. But… why?
  9. Select your USB drive, or the MicroSD card. I backed up to an 8 GB MicroSD. Dell estimates the backup at 4.03 GB, so 8 GB should suit you just fine.
  10. Tap Start, then tap Yes when asked if you’re sure about wiping out the USB or MicroSD drive. Of course you’re sure! (right?)
  11. Wait until it’s done.
  12. When it’s complete, click OK, and put the backup media in a safe place. I put it in my Venue Pro’s box.
  13. Go back to Start, then All Programs, then Desktop.
  14. Hold down on the Start button and select Command Prompt (Admin).
  15. Type diskpart to launch the Disk Partition manager.
  16. Type list partition to see the available partitions.
  17. Type select partition X, where X is the number of the approximately 4 gigabyte recovery partition. On my Venue, it was 6.
  18. Make sure you see “Partition X is now the selected partition”!!!
  19. Type delete partition override and hit enter.
  20. You should be greeting with “DiskPart successfully deleted the selected partition.”
  21. Type exit to quit DiskPart, then exit again to quit Command Prompt.
  22. Now that the partition is gone, we need to expand the size of the main partition.
  23. Open an Explorer window and long press This PC, then select Manage.
  24. When Computer Management appears, select Disk Management under Storage.
  25. You should see the 4.64 gigabytes or so we freed up showing as Unallocated.
  26. Long press your C: drive and select Extend Volume….
  27. The Extend Volume Wizard appears. Click Next.
  28. You’ll be asked where the space to extend the volume should come from. Everything should already be filled out to assign the maximum unallocated space. Simply tap Next or adjust as desired and click Next.
  29. The wizard will confirm the extension settings. Click Finish.
  30. There you go! Your C: drive is now almost five gigabytes larger!

UPDATE: You can also back up to a USB drive by acquiring a USB OTG, or “On-The-Go”, adapter. Pick one up from Fry’s, SKU number 7582626, here. This will also enable you to use thumb drives and such on your Dell Venue 8 Pro.

Disable the Annoying Backlight

Dell’s power management settings for the backlight are wretched, making the display dim almost all the time. Let’s get around that, shall we?

  1. Swipe out the charms menu, then select Settings, then Change PC Settings on the bottom.
  2. Select PC and devices.
  3. Select Power and sleep.
  4. Set Adjust my screen brightness automatically to Off.