Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Want to learn all about Xamarin and how you can use it, while not spending most of your time watching code scroll by in a video? I figured there was room for an explainer without being a close-captioner for a code tutorial. Enjoy my latest video!

https://www.youtube.com/edit?video_id=AhvofyQCrhw

From the description, along with links:

Have you been considering Xamarin for your cross-platform mobile app? This presentation will help.

In this non-code-heavy presentation, we’ll discuss:

* What is Xamarin
* Development Environment Gotchas
* Creating a Sample To Do List App without writing any code
* Reviewing a real Xamarin app that’s “in the wild”
* Review native, platform-specific integrations
* Discuss gotchas when using Xamarin, and mobile apps in general
* Answer audience questions

Why not code-heavy? Because there are many examples you can follow online. This presentation will provide valuable information you can consider while reviewing the myriad of tutorials available to you with a simple Bing or Google search, or visiting Pluralsight, Microsoft Virtual Academy, or Xamarin University.

If you have any feedback, please leave in the comments, or ask me on Twitter: @Auri

Here are the links relevant for this presentation:

Slides: https://1drv.ms/p/s!AmKBMqPeeM_1-Zd7Y…

Indy.Code Slides with Cost and Performance Figures: https://1drv.ms/p/s!AmKBMqPeeM_1-JZR4…
(you can find the Indy.Code() presentation on my YouTube channel)

Google Xamarin vs. Native iOS with Swift/Objective C vs. Android with Java Performance Article: https://medium.com/@harrycheung/mobil…

Example code for push notifications, OAuth Twitter/Facebook/Google authentication, and more: https://github.com/codemillmatt/confe…

Link to Microsoft Dev Essentials for $30/month free Azure credit and free Xamarin training: https://aka.ms/devessentials

Microsoft Virtual Academy Multi-Threading Series: https://mva.microsoft.com/en-us/train…

 

I’m continuing my resolution to record as many of my programming and technical presentations as possible. I recently spoke at the inaugural Indy.Code() conference. It was excellent, with an incredible speaker line-up. I hope they, too, post some of their presentations online!

Watch the Video on YouTube

From the synopsis:

Should you write your app “native” or use a “cross-platform” solution like React Native, Xamarin, or NativeScript? The new wave of native-cross-compiling solutions provide significant cost savings, code reuse opportunities, and lower technical debt. Does wholly native, per platform development, still play a role in future mobile development? Let’s discuss together.

In this presentation, we’ll discuss:

  • The growth of native, hybrid, and cross-platform mobile development solutions
  • Cost analysis of multiple native and cross-platform apps
  • Considerations for each native and cross-platform solution
  • Lessons learned

Slides are available here: https://t.co/5iLhEoEfen

If you have any questions, I’m happy to answer them! Please email me or ask on Twitter.

 

I’ve noticed students feel learning object oriented programming appears tough when first exposed to structured development practices. To add insult to injury, boring example relationships like “people” and “students” and even types of fruit and their plant family relationships are used to show how objects relate to each other. I’m more in the camp believing learning “scary” new concepts should be fun, even memorable. People tend to remember good jokes, and forget dull experiences. I experimented with an approach to OOP. I used the old children’s storybook, Everybody POOPs.

We’re all human beings. All Humans eat and drink, and everybody poops. It takes a system to get to the pooping stage. We also fart. Adults fart and say excuse me!, while children fart and giggle. They’re still Human. Hopefully you can see how these related entities can be turned into computer classes.

I finally got around to recording a video of my teaching this concept, as it relates to classes in Microsoft’s C#. Student reactions are always enjoyable. Most of the time, they laugh, and have fun. I usually get compliments that it’s a lot easier to remember because it’s funny. Some people are disgusted I would talk about such a topic in class – I’m thinking those people don’t have a sense of humor. No photos are involved, so what’s the big deal?

Watch the Video

Here’s my original Blog Post about it

I was challenged last year to write a JavaScript version of Everybody Poops. I finally got around to that this year, explaining objects to students at the TeKY Initiative. That was a bit tougher, since JavaScript isn’t really object oriented. Still, it was fun. The students even got me a poop emoji mug 🙂 You can view the code here. You’ll need to use the console to play with the object.

I’m continuing to teach concepts in [what I feel are] fun, real world ways. My first step has been to create “Real World Programming” videos on YouTube. Two are complete as of this article – OOP (link above) and Inversion of Control + Dependency Injection. I hope to do a few more in 2017 as time permits. If you have a suggestion, please let me know!

I’ve been struggling with carrying a Mac and PC for Xamarin development for a couple years now. Wouldn’t it be nice to just run OS X in a VM so I could use my Surface Book and not mess with the Apple ecosystem more than necessary? Well, I finally got it working, thanks in large part to the work that’s been done by many people, links of which I’ll credit in this article. Thanks, all!

vm

Requirements

  • macOS X Sierra Installer, or a machine with Sierra installed – extraction details below
  • Intel powered machine, preferably i5 or higher
  • 16GB or larger thumb drive, preferably USB 3
  • VirtualBox 5.x
  • Visual Studio 2015 or higher
  • If on a laptop, you’re plugged in

Create the OS X Installer USB Drive

First things first – you’ll need a Mac running Sierra and at least a 16 GB USB thumb drive. We’ll be using Unibeast, Multibeast, and the Clover bootloader. I imagine you own both Mac OS and the drive. I’d go the USB 3.0 or higher route so things run a bit faster. We’ll be extracting a Sierra installer in a moment. If you’re all set with the above, follow the instructions at the awesome Tony Mac x86 website. Special thanks to the Hackintosh website. When asked whether to use UEFI or Legacy boot mode, choose Legacy. Here is a marked-up PDF of the article in case the link doesn’t work.

In a nutshell, here’s what you’ll be doing in this step:

  1. Insert the thumb drive into the Mac. Launch Disk Utility and format the USB drive with the name USB and the format of GUID Partition Map.
  2. Download the macOS Sierra installer via the App Store. The installer will be saved in your Applications folder. Make a copy of it somewhere, just in case it gets deleted and you need it again. Don’t move the installer.
  3. Download and Run Unibeast and follow the prompts. Use Legacy boot mode. You’ll need a [free] account on the Tony Mac x86 site to download, fyi.
  4. Let Unibeast create the thumb drive. This will take about 10 minutes on a USB 3 drive.
  5. Download and Copy Multibeast to the newly created Unibeast drive.
  6. You’re now ready to start configuring VirtualBox.

Create the VirtualBox USB Drive Shim

You have a USB thumb drive, but VirtualBox doesn’t make it easy to boot from such a device. You’ll need to create a fake virtual disk that points to the USB drive. This tutorial walks you through it. Here’s a PDF if that link doesn’t work.

In a nutshell, here’s what you’ll be doing in this step:

  1. Open Disk Management and get the Disk Number of the thumb drive, as shown below
  2. Open command prompt as an administrator
  3. Navigate to %programfiles%\oracle\virtualbox
  4. Run the command
    VBoxManage internalcommands createrawvmdk -filename C:\usb.vmdk -rawdisk \\.\PhysicalDrive#

    to create the virtual drive pointer

  5. You’re now ready to create the VirtualBox virtual machine.

disk-number

Create the VM

Windows won’t allow VirtualBox to use the USB shim you just created unless you launch with administrator privileges. Right-click VirtualBox and select Run as Administrator. VirtualBox should open. Then, follow the instructions on this page. Ignore the download portion – you already have an install thumb drive, and you just want the VM configuration steps. If that link doesn’t work, here’s a PDF.

In a nutshell, here’s what you’ll be doing in this step:

  1. Create a new Virtual Machine, name it Sierra – although that’s not a requirement – and choose OS X 64-bit as the guest OS. VirtualBox’s settings aren’t fully correct, but we’ll get there.
  2. Choose 4 GB of RAM. I didn’t test with any other memory configs. So, YMMV if you go another route.
  3. When asked which drive to use, choose an existing drive, and select the USB shim you created in the previous section. The example above saved the file as usb.vmdk at the root of C:
  4. You should now have a VM, like every other time you’ve used VirtualBox 🙂
  5. Add another Virtual Disk to stand in as your Mac’s hard drive. I suggest VDI format, dynamically sized, and 60 GB in size. Ignore that my screen shot shoes 40 GB <grin> In future steps you’ll need to install XCode and Xamarin Studio. Don’t skimp on size here or you’ll be reinstalling later. Much sad.

Note: XCode uses a lot of space when it updates. Don’t skimp on virtual disk size. If that’s a big deal, save the VM’s drive to a location that will have enough space.

Once you’ve added the hard drive, you’ll need to finish configuring the VM. You already have an installer on the thumb drive.

Aside from the defaults, confirm the settings you have match settings below. I’ve also included some screen shots a little further down.

  1. After performing the steps above, you’ll be using the following settings in your VM:
    • System, Motherboard, Base Memory: 4096 MB
    • System, Motherboard, Boot Order: Only Optical and Hard Disk checked
    • System, Motherboard, Pointing Device: USB Tablet
    • System, Motherboard, Chipset: ICH9
    • System, Motherboard, Extended Features: Enable I/O APIC, Enable EFI, Hardware Clock in UTC Time, all checked
    • System, Processor, Processors: 2 CPUs
    • System, Processor, Execution Cap: 100%
    • System, Processor, Enable PAE/NX: Checked
    • Display, Screen, Video Memory: 128 MB
    • Display, Screen, Monitor Count: 1
    • Display, Screen, Scale Factor: 100% (you can change this later if you’re on a high-res display)
    • Display, Screen, Accelerator: 3D and 2D both unchecked
    • Storage: One controller, first item is USB shim, then the hard drive and “Empty” optical drive. The order of those two don’t matter.

After configuring the VM in the UI, close VirtualBox and run the following commands, of which I’ve created a convenient all-in-one script here. You may need to edit it depending on what you named your VM.

These make the appropriate settings to fool OS X to thinking you’re on a real Mac.

cd "C:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox\"

VBoxManage modifyvm "Your VM Name" --cpuidset 00000001 000106e5 00100800 0098e3fd bfebfbff

VBoxManage setextradata "Your VM Name" "VBoxInternal/Devices/efi/0/Config/DmiSystemProduct" "iMac11,3"

VBoxManage setextradata "Your VM Name" "VBoxInternal/Devices/efi/0/Config/DmiSystemVersion" "1.0"

VBoxManage setextradata "Your VM Name" "VBoxInternal/Devices/efi/0/Config/DmiBoardProduct" "Iloveapple"

VBoxManage setextradata "Your VM Name" "VBoxInternal/Devices/smc/0/Config/DeviceKey" "ourhardworkbythesewordsguardedpleasedontsteal(c)AppleComputerInc"

VBoxManage setextradata "Your VM Name" "VBoxInternal/Devices/smc/0/Config/GetKeyFromRealSMC" 1

Boot the VM and Install Sierra

Alright, we’re ready to boot! Re-launch VirtualBox as an administrator and start up. After a bunch of Unix style text scrolling, you should see the Apple logo appear and begin to load macOS. If not, something’s configured wrong.  Read through the above steps and see what you missed. Of course, things may have changed over time, and this tutorial may no longer be valid. Bummer if that’s the case! Much sad. I want you to be much happy.

NOTE: If things appear frozen during boot, wait a minute. In sanity checking this on another machine with a friend, his seemed to be frozen, and then resumed. A watched installer never boils… [terrible joke]

The instructions for installing Sierra are pretty straightforward:

  1. When the installer appears, select the Utilities menu on top, then Disk Utility.
  2. Format the Virtual Hard Disk. I named mine VBox, but that doesn’t matter. Make sure the format is GUID Partition Map and Mac OS Journaled. Do not select the case sensitive option.
  3. When formatting is complete, quit Disk Utility and you’ll be back at the installer.
  4. Select the freshly formatted hard drive and start the install process.
  5. Wait. It took about 20 minutes to install on my 6th Gen Core i7 SSD Surface Book. YMMV.
  6. Keep an eye on the installer. When it’s done, remove the thumb drive. Otherwise, it’ll boot back into the installer. If that happens, wait for the installer to boot so you don’t corrupt anything, then remove the thumb drive, and restart the VM.
  7. When the Mac boots back up, follow the prompts. Do *not* use an Apple account – it won’t let you. Make note of the username – it will be in lowercase – you’ll need that when you enter a username and password for Visual Studio later. Don’t worry about the Apple Account issue, though – this won’t affect your ability to install XCode or use the App Store.
  8. Once setup is complete, shut down the Mac.
  9. In the VM’s settings, remove the USB shim.
  10. OS X is now installed.

From this point forward, you no longer need to run VirtualBox as an administrator. Yay!

NOTE: After configuring OS X, you may be presented with a dialog stating the keyboard cannot be identified. Don’t worry – just follow the prompts and you’ll be all set.

Install Xcode

For OS X to act as a build server, you must have Xcode and Xamarin Studio installed. Let’s install and configure Xcode first.

To complete this step, do the following:

  1. Open the App Store on the Mac
  2. Search for Xcode
  3. Click Get to install it. You’ll need to enter your Apple account credentials.
  4. Wait a while – it’s big and takes a while to install. About 30 minutes on my machine.
  5. Once installed, Launch Xcode, agree to any terms, and let it finish installing components.
  6. When Xcode is finished configuring, open the Xcode menu, select Preferences, then Accounts, and click the + symbol. Enter your Apple Developer Account details.
  7. Great! Xcode is configured! Time to get Xamarin set up.

virtualbox_sierra_20_11_2016_08_48_44

Install Xamarin Studio

Xamarin Studio handles installing the OS X build agent so you can debug apps with Visual Studio, while performing the necessary build and simulation tasks on the Mac. This is required for licensing reasons, and Apple being a closed system for iOS developers. Boo.

Note: Xamarin Studio may be called Visual Studio for Mac by the time you read this.

  1. First, open Safari – unless you installed something else on the Mac already – and download Xamarin Studio for Mac. This is simple – go to Xamarin.com, and download the installer.
  2. Open the installer on your Mac from the Downloads folder, and click Open when it warns you that it’s an application downloaded from the Internet.
  3. Install everything except Android. You can do Android dev on your PC, so I feel there’s no reason to install it again here. Again, YMMV – do as you wish 🙂 This process can take a while due to downloading and installing many items.
    • Note: I’m not sure if you need Profiler or Workbooks, so I kept them in there. I’m thinking it’s an insignificant difference.
    • Another Note: The installer will say it’s installing Android SDK anyway, not sure why! 🙂 I complained to Microsoft about this – it didn’t make sense to me.
  4. Once Xamarin Studio is installed, start it and make sure it comes up.
  5. Under the Xamarin Studio menu item – which may be Visual Studio by the time you read this – select Check for Updates and make sure everything’s up to date.
  6. Note to Visual Studio 2017 Release Candidate Users: If you’re running Visual Studio 2017 Release Candidate, it [annoyingly] installs and targets the alpha channel of Xamarin. You’ll need to switch to the Alpha channel in Xamarin Studio to match this, otherwise Visual Studio will refuse to compile/build/debug through the Mac instance. A channel switching option is available in the Check for Updates menu to address this issue.

virtualbox_sierra_20_11_2016_09_23_19

Configure the Mac for Remote Login

In order to connect to the Mac from Visual Studio, we’ll need to open a port on the Mac side. The process is described in this article.

In a nutshell, here’s what you’ll be doing in this step:

  1. Press Windows-Space, which translates to Apple-Space, and type remote login to open the Sharing control panel.
  2. Check the box for Remote Login, and select All Users, or at least ensure your user account is in there. You’re on a private network only accessible by your machine, so I see few security issues here. Behind the scenes, this is opening Port 22 for SSH access to your Mac.

virtualbox_sierra_20_11_2016_10_01_03

Alright, we should be all configured! Let’s switch back to Windows!

Configure VirtualBox Networking and Port Forwarding for Remote Debugging

Now that the Mac is configured, we have to tell VirtualBox how to allow your computer to talk with it. We do this by configuring Port Forwarding in VirtualBox.

  1. Open command prompt and type ipconfig.
  2. Take note of the Ethernet adapter VirtualBox Host-Only Network, which may be #2, #3 etc. You want the one with an IP address. Copy that IP address to the clipboard.
  3. In VirtualBox, open the Settings of your VM, and select Network, then Advanced, then Port Forwarding.
  4. Add a new rule. I named mine Remote Access.
  5. For Protocol, choose TCP.
  6. For Host IP, paste in your host adapter IP.
  7. For Host Port, enter 22.
  8. For Guest Port, enter 22.
  9. For Guest IP, go to your Mac, use Windows-Space to search for Network Utility, and type in the IP that appears there.

getting-host-ip

port-forwarding

port-forwarding

Note: It’s possible the Guest IP will change from time to time. This is especially true if the Mac isn’t the only virtual machine you run. If you can no longer connect, check whether you need to update the Guest IP.

VirtualBox is now configured! If you want to verify this, you can launch bash shell on your Windows 10 machine and type ssh username@ipaddress, accept the certificate, and enter your password when prompted. If you can type ls and see your Mac’s files, all is good in the world.

Link Visual Studio to macOS

Alright, hard part’s over. Now we need to configure Visual Studio. The steps for accomplishing this can be found at the same link above, or you can just click here if you don’t want to scroll. There’s also a tutorial in Visual Studio.

In a nutshell, here’s what you’ll be doing in this step:

  1. Launch Visual Studio.
  2. Type Control-Q to access the Quick Access Menu, and type iOS Settings. This will take you to the Xamarin iOS settings pane.
  3. Choose Find Xamarin Mac Agent, follow the prompts to ensure you’ve configured everything properly.
  4. In Enter Mac name or IP address enter your VirtualBox host adapter’s IP. If everything’s configured properly, you should be prompted to enter your Mac’s username and password.
  5. If all went well, a lock-like icon should appear next to the IP address, as shown below. If not, make sure the version of Xamarin installed in Visual Studio is the same as that on the Mac. See my note above about Visual Studio 2017 and its Xamarin Alpha Channel issue.

And, Go!

If everything went well, you should now be able to do all your Windows and Xamarin / Mac development on one machine!

Please provide feedback in the comments. Enjoy!

Tips / Updates

  • If you’d like to tweak the video resolution, you can follow this article. The command is:
VBoxManage setextradata "VM name" VBoxInternal2/EfiGopMode N

Where N can be one of 0,1,2,3,4,5 referring to the 640x480, 800x600, 1024x768, 1280x1024, 1440x900, 1920x1200 screen resolution respectively
  • My goal with this article is to build a machine for building a build/test VM. I am not trying to replace a Mac environment for doing lots of work on the Mac side of things.

 

 

Want to see of the latest and greatest tech before it hits our shores? Then hit CEATEC, Japan’s largest consumer electronics trade show, held in Makuhari Messe every year in October.

Below are some of the highlights from the first day of the show. If you want to see all the videos I’m taking at CEATEC 2016, which cover many items I’m not writing about, take a look at my YouTube playlist.

Yukai BOCCO SIM Robot

Yukai showed their BOCCO SIM robot, designed to sit in the home and notify occupants of events. New this year is a sensor to detect a door locking and unlocking, so you know if someone left the home unprotected. Users can also leave messages for others when they arrive home. The robot cannot differentiate between user voices. The $240 product is available on Amazon and the $35 sensor should be coming soon.

YouTube Video

Honda 3D Printed Car

Honda showed off a 3D printed vehicle, using their Vehicle Design Platform. In tandem with cookie company Toshimaya, and design firm Kabuku, the shell of the battery-powered vehicle was 3D printed, and placed over the chassis provided by Honda. The shell is made from ABS plastic, and in the photos you can see the polished, finished surfaces versus those needing a final pass. Printing took 1 month, occurring 24×7, using a Stratosys Focus 900 printer, one of the largest in the industry. The vehicle utilizes a motorcycle-like pipe frame, has an 80 kilometer range, a large lithium ion battery, and a small cartridge battery for adding extra range 15 kilometers at a time.

Omron Table Tennis Robot – Now with Player Skill Recognition

Omron’s Table Tennis robot was a hit last year, beating its human challengers handily. This year, the system can detect a player’s skill and curb its own abilities when playing. We were also treated to watching the device break its arm, and the engineers had to come out and fix it. Omron’s solution has been recognized as the first robot table tennis tutor. Unexpectedly, it does not recognize different players, nor does it use deep learning, so it doesn’t get any better as it plays.

YouTube Video

 

NEC Police Officer Body Cam Video Analysis System

NEC showed off their Security Guard Support Solution, which works in tandem with vest-worn law enforcement cameras. The system can extract faces in the video feed and send them to an officer’s smartwatch for suspect identification, assisted by facial recognition. Accuracy detection rate is 90%. NEC also showed how it can compensate for low bandwidth or unpredictable network coverage with a blur compensation algorithm that appeared to greatly enhance the video playback quality and smoothness.

Rakuten ZapZap Word Cloud Shopping Assistant

Rakuten, the largest online retailer in Japan, again showed advanced customer assistance technologies at this year’s CEATEC. One, the ZapZap, enables a customer to place a book on an enhanced table, and see keywords from that book begin to hover around the cover. Tapping a word brings up a related passage from the book to ease browsing. The solution uses an RGBD camera, basically RGB plus Depth, to provide this service.

YouTube Video

Panasonic Bendable Battery Prototype

Panasonic showed off a prototype bendable lithium ion battery solution, capable of bending and not losing any power from the process. This package could enable batteries in watch straps, hats, and many wearables. The largest cell was 60 mAh. Samples will be available in October. You can see the bendability in the video below.

YouTube Video

Panasonic Listnr Baby Talk Recognition App

Japan faces an increasing number of two-working-parent households. Keeping track of a baby’s needs is more difficult when mommy and daddy aren’t home. Panasonic’s Listnr device listens to and recognizes a baby’s sounds and sends alerts to an app reporting whether baby is happy, sad, angry, and so forth. You can see the interface in the photos below. The system is already available on Amazon.

Hobot Window Washing Robot

Hobot showed off their latest window cleaning robot, the Model 198. Like their other units, the system must be plugged in to run. If disconnected from power, it can stay stuck to the window for up to 20 minutes before falling. However, it stops cleaning when that happens. Not sure of the point, but it was cool to see a window washing equivalent of the Roomba, even if it wasn’t nearly as well thought out.

YouTube Video

Epson PaperLab In-Office Paper Recycling Plant

Why send your paper out to be recycled when you could do it yourself? Epson’s PaperLab is about 9 feet wide, 6 feet high, and 5 feet deep and fits in a decently sized copier room. Feed it paper and it shreds it, removes all text, and within 3 minutes it will have recycled that paper. Once the system gets going – that 3 minute startup period – it can churn out 14 A4 size pages per minute. Choose the color of paper you’d like, its weight (thickness), and even add an optional scent, and voila – paper from paper. The system will be released in Japan this year. There is no water or waste, due to Epson’s proprietary Dry Fiber technology. Price unannounced, but it’s going to be “affordable” according to an Epson representative.

The recycling process is as follows:

  1. Insert Waste Paper
  2. Restore Paper to Fiber Form
  3. Use Binders to Bind Paper and Increase Strength and Whiteness
  4. Pressure Form the Paper, optionally mixing CMY to change color, and/or add scent
  5. New Paper is Ready

VoiceITT Speech Impediment Correction App

VoiceITT showed their TalkIT app for those with speech impediments. If you stutter, slur your speech, or have some other impediment, the solution clears up your speech in realtime so people can better understand you. VoiceITT is targeting those with autism, brain injuries, Parkinson’s, cerebral palsy, MS, strokes, ALS, and throat cancer, among others that affect a person’s normal ability to speak clearly. Quite fascinating in my opinion. The startup has already raised over $750K in funding. See the video below for an example.

YouTube Video

Blincam Camera for Eyewear

I often find myself wishing I could take a photo of whatever I’m seeing at the moment without whipping out my camera. Some cool bird, a funny shirt or license plate, anything – and the moment is right and easily missed if only a few seconds pass. ShapChat has their Spectacles product coming with a built-in camera to address such a need. However, if those loud, bright, and slightly cheap-looking, shades aren’t your thing, Blincam may be exactly what you’re looking for. The device attaches to practically any pair of eyewear, and takes a photo when it detects you’ve blinked. Resolution is only 1920×1080, but that’s good enough for an Instagram/Snapchat/Facebook upload.

YouTube Video

VRC’s Lightning Fast Full Body Scan 3D Model Generator

VRC showed off their CVS – Virtual Reality + Creative – 3D model scanner. The solution can take photos in 4 seconds of any 3D object, and within 2 minutes it will have a full 360 degree render of the subject. That’s 30x faster than existing systems, which take 1-2 hours to perform the same task.

Aroma Shooter Wearable Scent Transmitter

AromaJoin’s Aroma Shooter showed a scent transmitting wearable that can send quickly multiple scents in specific directions without switching cartridges. This overcomes a common issue with “scent” solutions – often they only contain one scent at a time, run slowly, and are relatively pointless. The AromaShooter solution is quick and directional, so it can send different scents to multiple surrounding recipients, with effectively no overlay. So, whatever it is you’re smelling, your neighbor wouldn’t. I can think of a few uses for that one!

The full size Aroma Shooter holds 7 cartridges and can switch in 0.1 seconds, the fastest of its kind. The Aroma Shooter Mini holds 1 cartridge, and can be placed on any metal surface due to its magnet. All products use Bluetooth LE. 200 scents are available so far.

AromaJoin will begin its Kickstarter campaign in May 2017.

YouTube Video

 

 

When we built the CrimeWatch app for the City of Fishers, we hoped for two things: 1) citizens will use it to protect our community, and 2) this is a good preparation for the future of how people communicate with Police for non-emergency issues. We’re starting to see that vision bear fruit with the first arrest via an in-app report. There have been over 250 incidents reported, and over 2,800 citizens have installed the app. This is awesome. We’ve been listening and adding new capabilities based on feedback, both from officers, and the community. Please keep the ideas coming – we’re happy to help you!

Watch the WishTV 8 coverage here: http://wishtv.com/2016/08/09/fishers-crime-watch-app-leads-to-first-arrest/

Watch the WRTV6 The Indy Channel coverage here: http://www.theindychannel.com/news/local-news/fishers-pd-touts-success-of-crimewatch-app

The built-in Facebook OWIN provider in ASP.NET MVC can open your website to the benefits of logging in via the social networking behemoth. Still, it’s limited when it comes to pulling in profile details such as photo, birthdate, gender, and so forth. I recently implemented retrieval of those profile properties, and will explain how you can do it, too! I feel the obvious benefit is your users don’t need to manually type in their profile details, should you have similar fields in your system.

I’m assuming you’ve created and configured a Facebook app via Facebook’s Dev center, and won’t be going into that process in this article.

Determine Which Profile Fields You Need

Before we write any code, you need to know to which profile details you desire access. Facebook used to be relatively open. Not anymore! Now you need to ask permission for a ton of items, and many are no longer available. Make sure you check permissions at least every 3 months, otherwise you may find your granted permissions are no longer, well, granted, or even accessible.

Here’s a link to everything you can get: https://developers.facebook.com/docs/facebook-login/permissions/

In my case, to access the Profile photo, name information, and some other basic items, I chose:

  • public_profile
  • email
  • user_photos
  • user_about_me

I probably don’t need all these right now, but I may in the future. I figured I’d ask ahead of time.

Once you have your list, continue to the fun coding part…

Enable the Facebook Provider in Startup.Auth.cs

If you haven’t already, you’ll need to enable the Facebook provider via Startup.Auth.cs. Make sure you do this *after* any cookie authentication, so “normal” username/password logins are serviced before Facebook takes over. This should already be the case, as the default ASP.NET MVC template includes the many optional providers afterwards by default.

I suggest keeping the App ID and Secret in your config file – or at least out of code – so you can swap for differing environments as necessary. The code snippet below enables Facebook authentication, and specifies the profile fields for which we’ll be asking read permission:

You don’t have to use what I chose – it’s just what I needed for my particular case. Facebook *does* change allowed permissions and profile item visibility somewhat often. Stay on top of their developer changes – otherwise your site login may unexpectedly break.

// Enable Facebook authentication with permission grant request.
// Otherwise, you just get the user's name.
var options = new FacebookAuthenticationOptions();
options.AppId = ConfigurationManager.AppSettings["Facebook.AppId"];
options.AppSecret = ConfigurationManager.AppSettings["Facebook.AppSecret"];
options.Scope.Add("public_profile");
options.Scope.Add("email");
options.Scope.Add("user_photos");
options.Scope.Add("user_about_me");
app.UseFacebookAuthentication(options);

Install the Facebook NuGet Package

In order to easily get access to the Facebook data, I used the Facebook.NET library. It’s easy enough to install:

Install-Package Facebook

Note: I used version 7.0.6 in this example. You should be able to find the latest version and changelog at https://www.nuget.org/packages/Facebook/7.0.10-beta

Handle the Facebook External Login Callback in AccountController.cs

Once Facebook has been configured, all requests from your website will direct to Facebook, where it will ask permission, and, if granted, will redirect back to the ExternalLoginCallback action in the Account controller. It is here that I suggest you retrieve the data you’ve requested from Facebook. You’ll then modify the associated ExternalLoginConfirmation View with fields to correct or remove any information from Facebook, then continue with the account creation process on your website. That’s the part where you’ll populate the ApplicationUser entity, or whatever you decided to call it.

It’s relatively simple, as shown in the code below. The steps are as follows:

  1. Get the Facebook OAuth token with a simple HttpClient call
  2. Make the request for Profile details using the Facebook.NET library
  3. Optionally, download the Profile photo and save it somewhere

Yes, I could split this out – refactor as you see fit, and feel free to share any optimizations.

Below is the change to ExternalLoginCallback to grab the data from Facebook after the redirect:

ExternalLoginCallback Code

If you’d like to get the profile image, below is an example:

GetProfileImage Code

 

Moving Forward

I hope this article has helped answer your Facebook integration questions. If you would like additional details, please post in the comments, or message me on Twitter: @Auri

Thank you!