Thurrott Daily: April 6

Thurrott Daily: April 6

Tech tidbits from around the web.

4/6/2016 11:01:51 AM

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How to learn Xamarin for free

Now that Microsoft has purchased Xamarin and has announced that it will include the firm’s cross platform technology for free in Visual Studio, the curious developer may be wondering where they can get started. Well, no worries: No less than Charles Petzold—yes, that Charles Petzold–has written an 1100 page (1) book called Creating Mobile Apps with Xamarin.Forms. And you can have it for free, says Microsoft. Plus a bunch of other good Xamarin information.

If you’re a .NET developer, you can use your existing C# skills to create apps that can work on iOS, Android, and Windows. No more worrying about three different compiles with three different languages—use Visual Studio to create cross-platform apps using one common language (C#).

We’ve got the training you need to get familiar with Xamarin. Start out with the basics, in the MVA Xamarin for Absolute Beginners course. Step through setup and installation with popular experts Gerry O’Brien and Christopher Harrison, and explore the basics of a Xamarin app. Take a look at a Xamarin project, get the details on using emulators, and go over debugging and deployment.

Can’t get enough Xamarin? That’s good, because we’ve also got a free, 1,200-page e-book from the legendary author Charles Petzold. Download Creating Mobile Apps with Xamarin.Forms, and get code samples, practice exercises, and reference materials, along with tons of practical insights.


Get a free Xbox controller or $100 off Surface Dock with select Surface Pro 4 or Surface Book

The Microsoft Store is having yet another Surface promotion, and as has been the case recently, it applies only to certain models, in this case of Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book. Certain very high-end models.

Those models are:

  • Microsoft Surface Pro 4 – Intel Core i7/8 GB/256 GB $1599
  • Microsoft Surface Pro 4 – Intel Core i7/16 GB/256 GB $1799
  • Microsoft Surface Book – Intel Core i7/8 GB/256 GB $2099
  • Microsoft Surface Book – Intel Core i7/16 GB/512 GB $2699
  • Microsoft Surface Book – Intel Core i7/16 GB/1 TB $3199

Now, Windows phone is collapsing in even its best markets

In the delusional world of the Windows phone holdouts, there are various cause celebre that these people cling to. Key among them is that despite a worldwide market share of just 1.6 percent, Windows phone actually performs pretty well in some markets, and has even hit double digit (e.g. ~10 percent) market share in some places. (I’ll pause to consider how on earth 10 percent is considered “successful,” but whatever.) Well, that’s falling apart now, too, of course. Softpedia reports:

New data provided by Kantar (via MSPU) shows that Windows is losing users pretty much everywhere, including [in] Europe … Europe has always been one of the most successful markets for Windows Phone, but it appears that users on the Old Continent have also decided to jump ship.

The biggest drop was experienced in Italy where Windows Phone dropped from 14.4 percent in the three-month period ending in February 2015 to just 6.7 percent in the February 2016, thus posting a decline of no less than 7.7 percent.

Similar performance was experienced in France too, where Windows Phone dropped from 14.2 percent to 7.3 percent, but also in Spain, where it declined to 0.9 percent from 2.9 percent. A 1.9 percent collapse was also experienced in Germany. Overall, in the EU5 region Windows Phone lost 4.2 percentage points, down from 10.1 percent.

There are many reasons for this steep decline, but…

Please. There’s only reason: No one wants Windows phone. Sorry.

Vivaldi web browser v1 is now available

I’m positive I mentioned Vivaldi previously, but I can’t find it for some reason. Anyway,Vivaldi 1.0 is now available, so you can see what the, um, excitement is all about.

Vivaldi isn’t like any other browser. We’re not trying to make it simple in an effort to appeal to every user. We’re introducing features and customizations that browsers today don’t have. We’re making it for you, and you deserve more from your browser.

That focus is very important. Vivaldi should adapt to you. It shouldn’t feel like a browser for everyone. Because it isn’t. It’s for you.

When you download Vivaldi today, we’ll prompt you to start customizing your browser immediately.

Check out the Vivaldi Features page for a full list of what to expect. I’m not entirely sure the world needs yet another web browser—I the same when I look at Edge or Opera—but this does indeed look interesting.

Amazon is prepping a new high-end Kindle e-reader

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Amazon will soon sell a higher-end Kindle with a rechargeable protective case for extended battery life, according to a person familiar with the matter. This removable cover will allow the Kindle to be thinner than earlier devices.

Also under development is a separate Kindle case with a battery that can be charged using solar power. It is unlikely this case will be released in the immediate future, another person familiar with the matter said.

Amazon’s chief executive, Jeff Bezos, said Monday on Twitter that an “all-new, top of the line Kindle” is almost ready, and promised the company would reveal details next week.

I really prefer Amazon’s Kindle e-book readers, and I’ve owned just about every single version they’ve produced. But … I’ve stopped using mine in favor of the Kindle app on iPad over the past year because many (most?) Kindle-based magazine subscriptionsonly work in the Kindle apps and not on the readers. And trying to remember which device was required for which publication got to be a bit much. But I really miss the Kindle, and its superior reading experience, especially in the dark. (Yes, even with Night Mode or whatever enabled; I still feel like the iPad is burning my eyes even on the lowest possible brightness settings.) If they could just figure that out, I’d be back in a heartbeat, wallet in hand.

Fun stuff for fans of Stephen King

I’m a huge fan of Stephen King and have read all of its published books and short stories. One of the things that really impresses me about King, and this is exactly the type of thing that people who don’t read King would never know about because they assume (incorrectly) that he’s just a horror writer, is the way so many of his stories interconnect. In many ways, he’s created a “universe” that is as rich as anything Isaac Asimov did with his Foundation and Robot books. It’s really impressive.

But now you can see this for yourself, visually: Gillian at Tessiegirl has created an amazing flowchart that explains all of the connections in Stephen King’s books.


Seriously, Bravo.

And on a related note, Yahoo TV has a neat list of 18 Easter eggs that it spotted in Hulu’s amazing TV mini-series adaptation of Stephen King’s “11.22.63.” Seriously, it’s worth subscribing to Hulu just to watch this show. And, embarrassingly, I only spotted a handful of these Easter eggs.

Thanks to my friend Dave for forwarding these along to me.


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