My First Metro App - Currency Converter for Windows 8

by Dmitry Kirsanov 23. September 2013 14:40

Currency Converter logoFinally, here comes the Windows 8 port for my Windows Phone 8 (and 7) currency converter published 3 weeks earlier.

There was no real need for it, excerpt for the Microsoft’s challenge to create an application and get 100 installations by the end of September (so I still have a week!). Anyway, the result is good and even useful, which is quite unusual for Metro apps.

I have to operate 3 currencies on a daily basis, and therefore I have to use converter. But I wanted to get rid of advertisements and privacy issues. For example,  the XE Currency converter, apart from usual advertisement, has a problem with privacy. For some reason it sends to its server a lot of irrelevant information, such as the model of my notebook. Why? I have no idea, but I didn’t like that.

So, when I had to create the first Metro app, the topic of choice was very obvious and not very original - the currency converter.

The saga of certification and myth busting (remember the “just copy your code to another platform and it works!” fairy tale?) will follow soon, but for now - Ladies and Gentlemen, you are very welcome to install and use the brand new free currency converter for Windows 8.

Here is the link to Windows Market: http://byte.lv/Z

Automating Deployment of Hyper-V based Microsoft Labs

by Dmitry Kirsanov 6. October 2012 22:22

Microsoft Certified Trainer logoThis article is about free software I made to automate the deployment of exported Hyper-V machines. More precisely – Hyper-V machines of labs for Microsoft Official Curriculums (MOC), used by students at Microsoft official training classes. It should be interesting for MCTs (i.e. Microsoft Certified Trainers) out there, whose job is to deploy labs in form of Hyper-V virtual machines, as well as for system administrators having the same duty of periodic installation of Hyper-V virtual machines. The installation procedure of a pack of Hyper-V machines could be extremely time consuming. Or should I say - used to be.

I will speak about it as about the solution for a lab deployment problem, but if you are working with other virtual machines, just think about the similarities with your scenario.

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Deploying Large Files in Local Network

by Dmitry Kirsanov 27. August 2012 13:37

Sometimes I need to copy large files simultaneously to several tens of computers. Like – Hyper-V virtual machines for training courses, and sometimes they take up to 60 Gigabytes. Usually these files reside on a single file server, connected to the local network by 1Gbit NIC, but even if nothing else is taking the bandwidth from that file server, copying 60 Gb to 20 machines would take more than 11 hours – that’s the amount of time it takes to transfer 1200 Gb at the speed of 30 Megabytes per second.

I wanted to reduce the overall time of deployment to about 70-90 minutes, or about 10 times. And this article is about how I’ve accomplished that goal.

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ReactOS Rising?

by Dmitry Kirsanov 2. May 2012 02:03

ros_logo_08Have you ever heard about ReactOS? It’s an operating system which was in “alpha” state for the last 16 years (!) and is basically a free, open-source Windows clone. It looks just like Windows XP / 2003, but the code base is written from scratch. However, the software written for Windows should work just fine on ReactOS. That’s the goal, at least. For now, applications like WinAmp and uTorrent work stable on current release.

Just about now the founder of this project, Aleksey Bragin, sent an e-mail claiming he is fundraising to actually hire full time developers for his OS. Until now it was a hobby for everyone, but now he is about to make it real. Taking into account that his goal is quite modest 30 000 euro, I think he’ll make it in no time, so the only question that is left open – what’s next?

Either he is going to ship this OS (to potentially free millions of PCs from the inevitable upgrade of Windows XP), or he wants to rise the price of the project to sell it. In a latter case, the question is who would buy it – would it be some social network, financially capable to have a pet operating system, or would it be some ill management addict company, which is buying new projects and technologies to substitute previously acquired and dying ones?

More questions than answers, but anyway, I wish these guys a well deserved success.

Blogging Software Review: Live Writer 2011 vs. MarsEdit 3.5

by Dmitry Kirsanov 24. April 2012 13:20

BlogEditorsThere are two kinds of bloggers. The ones who edit their works offline and the ones who prefer to do it online (or just don’t know they could do it the other way).

Also, there are bloggers who don’t know that they are bloggers. Some websites are built on blog engines, as blog platforms are basically article-optimized CMS systems. For example, the BlogEngine.NET home page is built over their own blog platform.

This article is a comparison of two most widely used vital tools of modern blogging – the Microsoft Live Writer 2011 and MarsEdit 3.5 by Red Sweater Software.

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Microsoft User Experience Virtualization (UE-V) in action

by Dmitry Kirsanov 20. April 2012 14:41

A few days ago Microsoft released beta of their new technology called User Experience Virtualization, or UE-V. The name implies that it has something to do with virtualization, but it’s just a buzzword. What UE-V does – it synchronizes user settings across workstations, in real time.

Imagine, that you have to log into multiple workstations, and what you want to have is the same settings of all applications you are using in your work. For example, spelling options in Microsoft Office, the layout of buttons, menus and colors – all the little pains that accumulates into the strong headache of roaming for some.

UE-V vs. roaming profiles

The roaming profile could be the answer, but for most of us it’s not. Some of us don’t even have the Active Directory profiles, but still desire the same user experience throughout the environment (translation to human language: every desktop of yours looks and behaves the same).

The difference with roaming is also in fact that in UE-V you only synchronize what you want to, not everything. So it works faster and has less space for errors.

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Updating currency exchange rates in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

by Dmitry Kirsanov 22. November 2011 08:36

As promised earlier, I’ve created a small utility which updates currency exchange rates for currencies used by Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 server. It’s fast, reliable and can be run in unattended mode, so you can set it once and forget about it.

A bit about Microsoft Dynamics CRM first

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 is the most advanced CRM system created so far. It allows you to keep track on your customers, partners and rivals and monitor relations in real time. So you can create marketing campaign for all your customers in Denmark with turnover higher than 200 000 euro and who’s main industry is Finance. And send them personalized proposal. And each of that customers will reply to manager, assigned to that customer. And you will track the success of that action in real time, being able to test your genius as CEO. Well, not only that. More...

File Synchronization Utility

by Dmitry Kirsanov 26. September 2011 18:31

Yet another command line utility written to do some useful stuff in the background. This time it is about file synchronization.

It’s quite often that we need to make 2 directories in our local network in sync. For example, you may want to synchronize folders with photos, backup files or even production files of your web application between IIS web farm nodes.

This program utilizes the Microsoft Synchronization Framework, so basically it does very little apart from what Microsoft already provides. Personally, I am using it to pull backups from TFS server on daily basis and to synchronize shared folders among load balancing cluster of production web server. In  both cases utility is running as Task Scheduler task and everything happens in background.

It doesn’t require installation, just unpack it to your utilities folder and it’s ready to go. It requires .NET framework 4 Client Profile in order to run. Another dependency is Microsoft Sync Framework 2.1 (Two components required - Synchronization and Provider Services).

FileSync.rar (114.45 kb)

Windows 8 Developer Preview revealed

by Dmitry Kirsanov 14. September 2011 23:00

This night MIcrosoft opened the prototype of their brand new OS and this build was named “Developer Preview”. Aimed mainly at software developers, it has a copy of not yet released Visual Studio 11, using which you can create software for that same Windows 8.

The only downside of this release is that you couldn’t install it on either VMWare workstation or Windows Virtual PC – it could only be installed on either physical or Hyper-V machine. I installed it on both.

First fascinating things about new OS is drastic change in user experience. I don’t even mean the new Metro and effects, but also much reworked file copying routine and Task Manager. The latter became as useful as it never been.

Although scheduled release date is not yet revealed, and most likely will be somewhere in Autumn of 2012, chances are you can grab a copy of ISOs at MSDN.

Windows Live is alive

by Dmitry Kirsanov 12. September 2011 03:10

Do you remember such thing as Outlook Express? A lightweight e-mail client from Microsoft which was the part of operating system since the stone age. It was separated from Windows for good, so unlike in Windows XP, we don’t have to cut it from the distribution DVD anymore. However, once separating some applications from the system, Microsoft added a few more tools to the Live family.

One of them is the one I am using at this particular moment – Windows Live Writer. The thing looks like a Microsoft Office 2010 product, something similar to FrontPage, but it’s about blogging. Whatever platform you are using for your blog, it can connect to it and you can use this wonderful editor without ever having to log into your blog. Styles, working with resources - everything is here. And it’s free.

Another one is irreplaceable for me and it is called Live Mesh. Once you’ve got your free 5Gb space at Windows Live, called SkyDrive, you can synchronize folders between your multiple computers. Like, for example, between home and work machine, so you can make sure that two folders on these machines are equal. Works perfectly for source code sharing for my notebooks and desktop, as having multiple versions of hundreds of files is a pain.
Another feature of Live Mesh is remote desktop, which works also through proxy and is just great when you want to log into your home computer but don’t want to set the remote desktop NAT rules. At some point it is more secure, as you won’t forget to switch off your rules later.

I know how hard it is to find a gem in a pile of software and services, so if you have a problem that any of these two programs solve, try them out!


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