Windows 8 by the Beach…

Windows 8 by the Beach header 620x120

You have to have heard about Windows 8 by now, but have you started developing for it yet?  If not, you should get started now. If you haven’t, do you need help?  On May 31st, 2012, from 9am to 6pm at the Carlsbad Inn, here in Carlsbad, CA. you will have a great opportunity to do both.

Register Here

Michael Palermo and a team of local Microsoft evangelists including Daniel Egan, Alice Pang, and myself (Bret Stateham) will be on hand to either get your started, or help work through specific problems.

The event is “open house” style so come in when you can, and stay for as long as you can.  We will have quick presentations throughout the day covering topics like:

  • Application Manifest
  • Visual Studio vs. Expression Blend
  • HTML|JavaScript vs. XAML|C#
  • Application Views and Snapping
  • Settings Charm
  • Search Charm
  • Share Charm
  • Data Binding

There will be wifi, food, and hourly give aways. Really, why wouldn’t you come?!?

Windows Phone Solar Eclipse Viewer

On May 20th, 2012 (today, as I write this), there will be a Solar Eclipse.  I live in San Diego, CA and there is supposed to be some prime viewing for it in Southern California.  As you know though, looking directly at the sun (even when eclipsed) is a bad idea.  Yesterday, I started looking for ways to view the solar eclipse and other than getting some special glasses or lenses, the most common solution is a pinhole “projector”. 

Pinhole Projector

I made a quick version using an old tissue box, but being a nerd, I couldn’t just leave it at that.  My next revision actually uses a LifeCam webcam in a box. I won’t describe it in detail here, but if you understand the instructions for the phone version, you should be able to easily modify it to use a webcam instead.  


My final version uses a Windows Phone as the viewer.  This gives me the benefit of being able to use all the great features of the windows phone for photo / video sharing, and I can share my images live!  Here is the basic idea:

Pinhole Box Phone Projector

Here are the supplies I used.  I happened to have some 3M picture hanging strips that don’t leave a residue behind when they are removed.  I used these to attach the phone to the box so I didn’t have to worry about gumming up my phone.  I also attached them to my phone case so that I wasn’t attaching sticky stuff directly to the phone.

01 - Supplies


  1. Cardboard box
  2. Sheet of white paper
  3. Poster strips (or blue tack, or just tape to attach the phone to the box)
  4. Pin (or needle) for making the pinhole
  5. Craft blade or something to make the holes in the box with
  6. A roll of duct tape.  No project is complete without the duct tape
  7. Scotch tape (I actually used spray mount) for attaching the paper to back of the box (inside)
  8. Tin Foil, this will have the pinhole in it.  Use paper if you prefer.
  9. A Windows Phone and a case with a hole for the camera in it

First cut the paper to fit the end of the box and tape it inside the box on one end:

02 - Paper on Back Wall

Make sure to remember which end has the paper on it.  You want the pinhole and phone to be on the opposite end.  The paper will act as the “screen” that the image will be projected on. 

Next completely tape up the box.  I used duct tape to seal all the edges and ensure no light got in:

03 - Box Completely Taped Up 

On the end OPPOSITE from the paper, layout the holes that you will cut for the foil to cover and for the phone’s camera to “see” through.  I tried to center the hole for the foil to cover at the center, and the I used the phone case to line up the hole for the camera:

04 - Layout & Markings

Cut the holes:

05 - Holes Cut

The cover the square hole with a piece of foil and tape around the edges of the foil to keep out extra light.  Then use the pin or needle to make a small round hole in the center of the foil.

06 - Tin Foil with Pin Hole

Use whatever adhesive you chose to mount the phone case to the box.  The 3M Poster Strips I used work well because I could surround the camera lens with them to help block out any extra light:

07 - Case Taping

With the phone in the case, mount the phone to the box.   Take special care to make sure the camera lens is directly over the hole you made for it in the box.

08 - Phone on Box

You are ready to go!  Take your phone outside, and point the pinhole at the sun.  The image of the sun should be projected on the back wall of the box with the paper on it.  Use the phone’s camera to view the image. 

09 - Box In Use

The image of the sun is pretty small.  You might experiment with a longer box, or a larger pin hole or ? to adjust it. Here is a closer up picture of the image on the phone.  The image is the white dot in the middle of the phone screen. 

10 - Sun on Phone

You can take pictures of the sun now, or even video.  I recommend TURNING OFF YOUR FLASH.  Share your images online as you watch the eclipse using Windows Phone’s integrated Messaging, Twitter and Facebook features!  Here is an actual photo from my phone:

11 - Actual Photo from Phone

Of course, making a version with a LifeCam web cam instead is just the same, just make a hole for the LifeCam to fit through.  Then connect the LifeCam to your computer and watch the eclipse from The LifeCam software.  Take stills or even capture video, and post it!. 



Lenovo W520 and an External Projector with NVIDIA Quadro 2000M and NVIDIA Optimus

If you have come to this blog post from a search, then you are probably having the same problem I have had in the past with my Lenovo W520, specifically, duplicating the laptop display to an external projector connected to the VGA port on the side of the laptop or connected to a display port on the back of a “Mini Dock Plus Series 3”. 

W520 Connected to Projector

Well, if you have had that problem, read on.  I’ll give you two possible solutions to the problem.  One of them is likely going to work for you!

The discussion and steps in this post assume the external display (monitor or projector) is being connected to the W520 via the VGA port on the left hand side of the laptop:


However, the discussion and instructions below also apply if your external display is connected to a display port on the back of a “Mini Dock Plus Series 3” instead:


If you don’t want to understand the problem, but would rather just fix it, you can jump to the solutions using the links below.  If you have the time though, I suggest reading through my explanation of the issues.  It will help you get better use out of the graphics processors (YES, plural, that’s part of the confusion) on your laptop! 

Quick jump to the solutions:

Or Read on….

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Free Windows Hackathon at Nokia, San Diego on 06/02/2012


Ready.Set () {Code} Challenge

Headphones on. Tilt the seat back. Just steady codin’ as the keys get tapped. Get ready, because Nokia Developer is about to turn your town into Dev City with its Ready.Set () {Code} Challenge.

Nokia is hitting the road to 13-cities looking for developers who want to build an experience not just another app. To kick off the Ready.Set () {Code} Challenge, Nokia Developer will hold hackathons across the US and Canada beginning in May. You can sign up individually or form your own team to build the coolest, baddest apps for the Windows Phone platform and Nokia Lumia devices.

Prizes will be awarded on site at each event for the top 3 created apps, top student created app, and most Nokia-branded developer (use your imagination). App winners will be judged on creativity, usability, technical difficulty and app presentation.


  • 1st place: $500 gift card & Nokia Lumia 900
  • 2nd place: $250 gift card & Nokia Lumia 900
  • 3rd place: $100 gift card & Nokia Lumia 900
  • Student Winner: $150 gift card & Nokia Lumia 900
  • Most Nokia-Branded Dev:  $100 gift card & Nokia Lumia 900


At Nokia, we don’t have ordinary developers, so these won’t be ordinary hacks. We have some amazing experiences in store – like our Re-Charge Room – for developers to chill out between pounding out code. So come showoff your skills and earn rewards. Space will be limited so register early.

The Challenge is on. . . .Ready.Set () {Code}

Ready.Set () {Code} Challenge Schedule:

08:30 a.m. Light breakfast and registration\
09:00 a.m. Welcome and competition overview
09:30 a.m. Let the hacking begin!
12:30 p.m. Lunch
07:00 p.m. Show us your app/Dinner
08:00 p.m. Winners announced

On the hunt for great Windows 8 Apps

In case you haven’t already heard, Windows 8 is coming soon. You can download it, use it, and even develop apps for it today. At this point in time the Windows Store is not open for everyone to deploy, but we are looking for the first wave of great applications which highlight the power of Metro and Windows 8, especially those developers that want to get to market first and build the awareness and brand for their applications.

In order to submit your application today you need a token which is something I can help you get.

What do you need to do to get a token? Here are the key steps:

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