Windows 8 start menu

Windows 8 start menu.

I've added a few buttons for the more used shortcuts.

As you might find it useful for a time whilst getting used to the new Windows interface, you can download it here free of charge:

http://www.dphsw.co.uk/downloads/Win8StartMenuInstaller.msi

You may need to accept the security warnings to download and install it.

For IE click "More info" and

"Run anyway".

Once installed you should have an icon on the desktop:

If you think there are other shortcuts that could be useful - let us know and we'll add them to the program.

(Note: This application is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied, including limitation warranties of merchantability and/or fitness for a particular purpose. Copyright (2012) DPH Software Ltd)


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Windows 8 - Day 4 - where's the start menu gone...

Day 4 of using Windows 8 and I'm really missing a start menu on the "Desktop". I really like the new interface and love my Windows 7 phone, but I can see for a while I'm going to be spending most of my time in the "Desktop" screen. It's a lot of clicks to get back to the tablet view and to bring up a list of all the shortcuts and then launch a program back into the "Desktop" screen.

So I've written myself a "Start Menu" app that looks a bit like the Windows 7 start menu.

I've added a few buttons for the more used shortcuts.

As you might find it useful for a time whilst getting used to the new Windows interface, you can download it here free of charge:

http://www.dphsw.co.uk/downloads/Win8StartMenuInstaller.msi

You may need to accept the security warnings to download and install it.

For IE click "More info" and

"Run anyway".

Once installed you should have an icon on the desktop:

If you think there are other shortcuts that could be useful - let us know and we'll add them to the program.

(Note: This application is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied, including limitation warranties of merchantability and/or fitness for a particular purpose. Copyright (2012) DPH Software Ltd)


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Windows 8 - day 2...

Booted up my new shiny windows 8 machine following the upgrade from Windows 7.

One of the features of Windows 7 that's missing from Windows 8 Pro by default is Media Center. Until the 31 January 2013 its free to add the "Windows 8 Media Center Pack". Click the link below to get your free license key emailed to you.

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-GB/windows-8/feature-packs

The install of the feature pack was very smooth (just type in the license key and leave it to install) - I can see how this is going to be benefit to the less computer literate.

Now playing an old Glastonbury recording from the 90's...

 

 

 

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Windows 8 - Downloading...

With a little trepidation (and a backup of my data to USB drive) I'm putting my new'ish Asus laptop into the hands of the Windows 8 upgrade assistant. With the offers from Microsoft and the availability of express tools to develop for Windows 8 and Windows 8 phone, its time to try it out.

The Upgrade assistant produces a nice report on what software and devices are compatible. After removing a number of items that aren't compatible, its time to press on through the wizard. The money is extracted from my credit card with relative ease and a confirmation page gives me my shiny new product key.

So starts the download, about 1 hours 30 mins on my BT broadband (should get BT Infinity in the next couple of months). Is that a rollercoaster letting me know the download is proceeding?

The download is being checked... getting near. Option to burn ISO and rebooted machine from new DVD... oops wrong option. To upgrade it appears you run the setup from inside the existing OS not from boot.

Reboot back into windows 7 and run the setup from the DVD. Things look better. Asked if I want to keep settings, data and applications. Yes...

Installing windows 8... "this might take a while"... although seems to be progressing quite quickly.

Spoke too soon, after getting to 100% several times, its still checking drivers or profiles or something.

Finally the option to logon with the main admin account appears and I can logon. A quick check round and my account, apps and data look to be intact.

So now to put back a few things that weren't compatible, BT McAfee etc.

All looks good.

All in all a reasonably smooth transition to Windows 8 - well done Microsoft. Now time to work out where they have hidden the shutdown button....

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Attempt to install Active Directory Domain Controller failed with error code 0x80070643

During configuration of some Server 2008 R2 VMs for a test lab, I kept getting the error:

0x80070643 error

At first I thought it was related to a recent patch, but on rebuilding the VM without patches and with "windows updates" disabled the error had returned.

I've seen lots of posts on other blogs about this, but none provided a solution that worked. I tried repairing the service packages, msi installer and dotnet - but none of these resolved the issue.

I finally resolved the issue by first disabling McAfee antivirus (disabled "Access Protection" and "On-Access Scanner"). Once disabled I could add the Directory Services role and add the server to the domain.

 

Posted in Windows Server 2008 | Leave a comment

Graphical Artwork Designer Available

Do you need help with your artwork for a game or application your developing. Maybe we can help. One of our team is available at a reasonable hourly or piece work rate. Please add a comment to this post if you would like to discuss your requirements.

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Textured Text in WP7 XNA

Yesterday evening, I set to the task of programmatically making some textured text in XNA.  I was a bit puzzled as to why I couldn't find any tutorials about this.  It's such a simple and nice-looking effect.  Why had nobody done it before?  So, about eight hours working time ago, I started.

I now know why it hasn't been done before.

Clouds
Keep calm, calm, it's going to work soon...

Drawing textured text in XNA is very simple in itself, requiring less than a screenful of code, but it's far from obvious how to get started.  For a start, it requires use of DualTextureEffect, which I only accidentally learned existed while I was looking for another possible solution involving depth buffers - they start with 'd' as well, so intellisense merrily alerted me to the existence of DualTextureEffect and I was put on a more promising path.  But even then, despite giving you an effect for using two textures at once, XNA doesn't give you a vector format capable of using two textures at once, so you need a custom vector format to use with it first.  I've been unable to find much help with this supplied online anywhere.  Allow DPH Software to correct this oversight.

So, while this technique could theoretically be used for a few things, what I was interested in was making textured text during the code.  Why would we want to do this, rather than just drawing our pretty text in a paint program?  There are a few reasons I can immediately think of:

  • The amount of text may mean that rendering it all would use too much memory - especially if you want it in different languages.
  • You may want the texture on the text to itself be animated (or the text to be animated while the texture remains fixed relative to the screen).

Neither of these things apply to the demo I supply here, but I'm sure you can imagine the possibilities. So, how do we do it?  As Shawn Hargreaves explains, The DualTextureEffect combines two textures with a rule that, while it's actually commutative (it doesn't matter which way round the textures are), is easier to imagine as one being the basic texture and the other being a multiplier.  In this case, our basic texture will be some clouds, and the multiplier texture will be our text.  To do whatever text we want in the code, we make that multiplier texture a rendertarget.  The alpha channels of the two textures will be multiplied, so we clear this texture to 'Transparent', then draw text on it.  Now when the alpha channels are multiplied, the result will be fully transparent for any part of the multiplier that was transparent - that is, any part we didn't draw the text on.  The parts with text won't be transparent, so those parts will show the clouds texture - giving the result of textured text. The texture of the text will be in the original colour if the text was drawn in grey, twice as bright if it was drawn in white, and black (untextured) if it was drawn in black. RGB channels are multiplied separately, so drawing the text in some other colour would result in the texture being appropriately tinged.

Text rendered with a texture on Windows Phone 7 in XNA
Qapla'!

Have a play with the WP7 demo supplied here, and feel free to reuse the code.  Be aware, of course, that the dual texture vertex declaration supplied with this code has other uses besides text - instead of drawing text on your rendertarget, you could for example draw a simple lightmap with some spotlights moving round in realtime.  In any case, I hope you can avoid the frustration I've encountered trying to implement this effect!

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MS Advertising SDK 6.1 - no ads displaying for combined silverlight/XNA apps

Just published update to our windows phone game (Atoms 3D) on AppHub and its not displaying ads. It displays ads if I deploy the same XAP file directly to my developer phone. There's also a slightly newer version of the MS Advertising SDK 6.1.320 available for download from the version I downloaded a few weeks ago.

I've emailed pubcenter support to see if this release fixes this issue.

Another developer has reported the same issue on the pubcenter forum: http://community.microsoftadvertising.com/forums/p/72819/110806.aspx#110806

Darren

 

Posted in Windows Phone | 1 Comment

MS adcontrol - location targeting?

After much searching through MS docs and blogs, I'm still not clear if we are supposed to set the users location for ad targeting. The examples don't include calls to set the location, but the SDK refers to setting location via country code or GPS cordinates.

I can see it's value especially if more local ads are deployed for local shops / traders.

What happens if no location is set? Does the adcontrol use the users windows live account location?

Does anyone know the right policy?

 

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MS adcontrol - XNA / Silverlight game project

I've been investigating possible ways to get the MS adcontrol to work on the game page of a mixed XNA / Silverlight project. I've tried:

  • trapping the error on the silverlight version of the adcontol. Stopping the render calls at intervals seems to help, especially after ad has just updated. But it still crashes eventually.
  • with the XNA version of the adcontrol the constructor needs a "game" object and I've been trying to build a custom game class that I can populate with the data the adcontrol needs.
  • also wondered if there was a way to get to the background thread the adcontrol is running under and wrap the background thread in try /  catch block, or capture the exception in some other way. Also wondered if could apply lock as crash seems to occur during the draw operation of the adcontrol.

Anyone else having any success trying to get this to work?

Posted in Windows Phone | 2 Comments