I had the honor of meeting (and in some cases, reconnecting) with a great group of people at Bradenton’s Station 2 Innovation. Spark Growth put on one of their many Tech Talks, inviting subject matter experts to share what new and useful in their fields of passion. Mine, of course, is Cortana. 😉
Today I geeked out with some very cool people over at the University of North Florida. Special thanks to Bayer White and his cohorts for putting together a great event full of fun, learning and awesome content.
My talk was of course about Cortana… but a significant break from the regular rhetoric. Today, it was all about Cortana Skills and proof positive that Cortana is/can be useful (and intriguing!) on Android and iOS as well. As promised to those folks who braved my one hour session, here is the slide deck that we covered. Thanks again for attending!
Special thanks to Microsoft for forcibly updating my Visual Studio installation LAST NIGHT with unpublicized breaking changes to the Package.manifest format! We got through it and made it happen though. 😉
Here’s the presentation I rifled through at the beginning of the talk: http://bit.ly/tallycc2016
We didn’t go though all the slides since we pretty much covered it during our talk… and because the Voice Command Service Stuff isn’t in it.
You know, I really love a LOT of the things that Microsoft is doing in just about every space that they operate in. However, one thing that consistently disappoints me is that the people writing most of their technical documentation have a VERY BAD habit of leaving crucial bits out of their “how-tos”. Once such victim is how to integrate the Identity Management Framework with SendGrid in Windows Azure.
UPDATE: I just remembered that if you want the “Weather” example to work you need to follow the instructions in the following file: IntegratingCortant.Win10.Universal\Extensions\GeopositionExpressions.cs
I was afraid to pull the trigger on installing Windows 10 Tech Preview Build 9926 on my Surface Pro because it’s my personal daily driver and things “not working” isn’t an option. The I remembered that I have this Dell 8 Venue Pro which wasn’t getting much regular use since my Lumia 1520 is just about the same size. 🙂
So, with a little help from my good friend Jay K., I offered the little 8″ tablet as a willing sacrifice. So far the experience has been pretty doggone good. I’m VERY impressed with where the Belfiore gang are going with this. That being said, there are a few rough edges I’m going to point out just to make sure they’re on the development team’s radar.
1. The on-screen keyboard was mysteriously cut off during the post-installation initial setup.
As you can see in this image, nearly half of the keyboard is not visible. Luckily I was still able to guess where the keys were so I could finish the initial setup. Also, and not very photographable, was the fact that the top row of keys (regardless of which keyboard I was using) would become totally non-responsive until I hit some other key and THEN came back to the key I needed to use. It was scary at first… but once I figured out what was going on and the workaround it became very tedious and frustrating.
The keyboard kept acting weird for a portion of the day. It never disappeared on me again though. You’ll be happy to know that the on-screen keyboard works fine. I did notice an odd bit where part of the split mode keyboard was cut off at the bottom row keys. It is like that regardless of if the keyboard is docked or not. I just checked again today and the behavior is still happening. I probably should have snapped a photo of that one too. Oh well. 😉
2. The Account PIN creation dialog acted weird.
You can’t really see it let me enter values in the fields but wouldn’t let me tap either the “OK” or “Cancel” buttons. Naturally my expectation is that itdidn’t save my entries. But when I went back and checked my Account Profile a PIN was already associated with it. I don’t know if that was my synced PIN from my other machine or the one I entered though. Also, when I went back through the dialog to attempt to change the PIN it accepted what I thought I originally entered… Hence the “huh?”.
3. Incorrectly reported Mail storage value – pretty much speaks for itself.
4. These two numbers definitely don’t match.
The Disk Cleanup dialog is acting weird. Originally this machine only had about 5.5 GB available. I went through and killed off all my local copies of my OneDrive files and that got me enough room to install the Build. However, once the Build was installed it gave me this number. So on a hunch I kept going through this dialog several times, hitting the “Clean up system files” each time. Every time I went back through the dialog it found more and more temporary files… and, excitingly, about the fourth time through it found the previous installations. Eventually I was able to get a total of about 15 GB back.
5. (No photo) “Hey Cortana” is some-timey.
There’s something wonky going on with the feature activation on this device. At first I thought that it doesn’t want to work at all unless I have a microphone plugged into the headphone jack. Then I figured I’d try turning the feature off and back on. — worked like a champ. So, for now, if you can’t get Cortana to respond when you say, “Hey Cortana” just turned it off and back on and it will work (well, for the next request anyway).
That’s it for now. I’ll be sure to share anything else I find.
I am undoubtedly one of the biggest, most vocal Windows Phone fans in the entire universe. Those that know me know that I’m not kidding with that statement. I take every opportunity to willingly market my Windows Phone to every person who doesn’t instantly flee… and nine times out of ten they come away from that experience with seeds planted for an eventual switch to Windows Phone. What’s more, I love the work you and your team are doing with Windows and Windows for Phone and the general direction you’re moving towards a truly converged user experience.
However, it will be an ENORMOUS MISTAKE to force us — the WP faithful — to wait until the holiday season for the next evolution in phone devices. It has been more than a year since the last new flagship phone was generally available to the US market. By “generally” I mean not locked into a particular carrier (as Verizon will *NEVER* be my provider). And phones targeted to other countries don’t play nice with the high-speed towers here at home. Also, those “seeds” I mentioned earlier? Lately they’ve been dying off after taking root because people see all the horrendous fluff that (supposed) tech journalists keep spewing.
So just what am I proposing?
1. Please exponentially increase the pressure on the US carriers to release Denim for our existing handsets. Let’s face it, most people still buy and hold their phone until the wheels fall off. It would take something truly earth-shattering, game changing and affordable to break that particular habit. So please do get AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon to release that update for our existing handsets.
2. Please release at least one flagship phone that will work on each major US carrier no later than July 1, 2015. That phone could even run Denim; as long as it will be able to make full use of Windows 10 for Phone it would be acceptable. This is for people like me who buy a flagship about once every 12 months. It’s also for those who’ve had a mishap (like my significant other) and the timing is just “right”.
These two “relatively simple” things will work to significantly discourage the ongoing platform hemorrhaging while making us — the faithful, independent WP developers — believe that Microsoft still cares about us and wants to continue working with us to make the world a better place.