MSP Voice: Windows Phone Tips and Tricks by Alaa Shaabana


    I’ve always been a fan of the little tips and tricks in electronics that make our lives a little easier (than it already is!). So I’ve compiled a top-10 list of tips and tricks for you to try out on your new phone!


    To use the windows phone 7 voice controls, simply hold the windows button on your phone and talk to your phone. Try saying something like “Calories in a California roll”.


    You can add more apps to your start screen (or “pin” them). When you are in the long applications list, touch and hold an app you want to pin to the screen. And when the menu appears, click “pin to screen”.


    You’ve tried an app, and you don’t like it. You can certainly uninstall it by heading over to the long apps list, touching and holding an app you want to uninstall, and clicking “uninstall”.


    You can customize the look of your phone by changing the theme! Swipe on over to the menu list, select settings and choose theme. Here you can choose the color of the background and the accent. Background options are black and white, and you get a whole arrangement of colors for the accent!


    Windows phone 7 is built with the concept of panoramic tiles that you swipe to reveal more content off screen. So it’s always a good idea to try swiping to the left as there might be more stuff waiting for you to see.


    It’s not just about adding apps to the start page, you can also add people! You can find them in your contacts book, click on the “pin” icon (HINT: It looks like a thumbtack). And they’ll be added to your start page! Happy speed dialing!


    It’s easy to make mistakes while dialing, and can easily call long distance on accident. Windows Phone 7 can worry about that for you, head over to Settings, swipe over to Applications, and choose Phone. Turn on “International Assist” to automatically correct some common mistakes while dialing internationally or dialing while abroad.


    It’s always good to keep a backup of your pictures, and windows phone 7 comes with SkyDrive to let you do just that. If you haven’t already done so when you set up your phone the first time, just head over to Settings, swipe to the left and then scroll down to Pictures & Camera. You’ll find the option to set the Auto Upload feature on.


    Want to know if your text got to its destination? You can turn on SMS delivery confirmation by going to Settings, swipe to Applications, Messaging and flicking the On switch for SMS delivery confirmation.


    Internet Explorer on Windows Phone 7 has a “find” feature that allows you to find a word on a page (Yes, just like Ctrl+F). Simply press the three dots, click on “find on page” and then type in the word you’re looking for. Just press the back button to get back to the page without the search words highlighted.

    - Alaa Shaabana

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    Intern Voice: Wired by Jessica Pellow


    I'm wired, literally. That's right. My phone is currently plugged in, working it's little heart out as it attempts to update all that I hold dear. Which is mainly my email and Facebook. Sad, I know. "Wait, wired?" You say? Yes, I share your shock and sadness. You'd think that in the 21st century having to plug my phone in to update my email would be behind me, but no. I could blame my phone, but I've recently discovered that it's not its fault. So who's fault? The blame has to lie somewhere, correct? I'm going to blame my service provider. I'm not going to name names, in order to protect the incredibly guilty party, but said service provider happens to not support my Windows Phone.

    I’m just going to let the full force of that statement sink in. Shocking eh? What kind of depraved service provider would do such a thing? One with a heart like the Grinch, "two sizes too small". No data! You think to yourself, that can't be! Everyone provides data. Well, apparently they were perfectly willing to accommodate me should I have a Blackberry or an iPhone but aren't so willing to take the next step and support the Windows Phone.

    Where does this leave me? Sitting at my computer as my phone updates. While plugged in, this baby is a whole new world of awesome with cool apps and features that let me roam the internet. Unplugged I feel constrained, caged. Sure, there's lots of features that can be used without the internet or data but I like to roam free, spread my wings.

    Speaking of roaming free, I'm sure you're thinking "I thought we were gonna hear about FearFest Jess! What's the deal?".  To you I would say "Hold your horses! Patience is a virtue." But I'll try to make up for  forcing you to wait so long for an update.  Did I go to FearFest? No. Why? Because at 11pm Thursday the world appeared to spin on its ear and instead of Wonderland I ended up in my hometown.

    Now in all seriousness what I'm about to say is going to sound like I'm plugging the phone but the truth is that the way that I've organized my phone allowed me to navigate the confusing emails and texts I got that night and assemble them into a vague plan that helped me get home. By sorting my contacts into groups I was able to keep everyone's texts and emails together in one view by coordinating them under a group I named Family. On my old phone, my texts were never sorted and I couldn't even search in them to find what I needed. I had to try to think back chronologically to see when the last text was received. It was like playing Where's Waldo. This way I was able to see which plans were cancelled, who was coming when, and what I wanted to do once I got home plus set up my calendar so I knew where to be and when. Crisis averted.

    What's that? It's a bird! It's a plane! It's my Windows Phone.

    - Jessica Pellow

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    31 Days of Mango: #31AwesomeWPDevTutorials


    31If you’re looking to start learning Windows Phone 7.5 development, this could be the perfect place for you to start!  Jeff Blankenburg from Microsoft has compiled (or rather, at the time of publication of this post is compiling) a series of 31 tutorials on how to implement Windows Phone 7.5 Apps.

    The tutorials are “snack-sized”, meaning they won’t take you three hours to go through and they have been laid out to provide you with a learning path to getting comfortable with Windows Phone 7.5 development so you can create awesome apps for Windows Phone.  Basically, Jeff is providing a new tutorial every day in the month of November (2011).  Below is a list of these tutorials:


    Check them out and let me know what you think of them!

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    MSP Voice: All about Xbox Live by Adam Wlotzki


    I really enjoy playing on Xbox Live with my friends. I thought I would give you a glimpse into what Xbox Live offers in case there are some people unfamiliar with it.

    It’s not just about playing games. That part is obvious. The Xbox Live dashboard offers a wide variety of entertainment:

    • Welcome: Can’t figure out what’s going on? The Welcome section is here for you. Take a look and get tips on how to get started on your journey with Xbox Live.
    • Spotlight: This is where you will find all the latest news/deals/contests/whatever that Xbox Live is highlighting. There is always a ton of cool stuff here to keep you busy without even touching a game. Suddenly your friend’s visits to the bathroom before the game become less of a “Wow, did you take long enough?” concern to a “What? Oh. You were gone?” situation.
    • My Xbox: This is where you can handle your game data and account settings. Launch games, alter game data, create your avatar, and more! This is where you can troubleshoot if you are having connection issues as well. Nothing is more of a bummer than getting your buddies over, firing up the Xbox only to see you can’t connect. A simple ‘Test Connection’ can help you find and fix the problem quickly. Creating your avatar is always fun. Who doesn’t like making little computer-animated versions of themselves? I know I do. I mean, just look at that handsome gentleman.


    • My Community: This is the place to go to find out what’s happening around you. From here you can access Facebook and Twitter. You can also find special promotions where you can play with a variety of people. From here you can get cool avatar accessories so people know exactly who they are dealing with!
    • Game Marketplace: You can find all things related to gaming here. This is where you can download expansion packs, indie games, map packs, and more.
    • Video Marketplace: Like gaming, but more video-y. Browse the Zune marketplace and watch videos. You can also link with your Netflix account!
    • Music Marketplace: Browse the Zune marketplace for all your favourite music, directly on your Xbox! You can see promotions for various artists as well.
    • Inside Xbox: Are you a story person? This is the place for you. View some lore of the latest games. You can check out some discussions on the games you love. You can also view strategy discussions for some of the latest games you’re stuck on. Hey, it happens to the best of us.
    • My Friends: This speaks for itself. Grab some friends, whether they are physical or virtual, and pull them in. Have a few games, and a few laughs.

    Adam Wlotzki – Carleton University

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    So you say anyone can build a phone app…OK I am going to test that theory!


    Don’t get me wrong, I can write code, in fact I love to code, I really do. I think most of us who enjoy logic, enjoy programming. It’s all the other stuff that makes me want to bang my head against the wall, trying to figure out what tool to use, installing the tool, figuring out how to compile, configure, and deploy and test stuff.  I have been told that if you can code you can build a phone app. I am going to put that to the test by building and publishing an application from scratch and sharing my story in a series of blog posts so maybe you can do the same!

    If you talk to any of my co-workers they will attest that although I am nobody’s fool, for whatever reason when it comes to installing and configuring stuff, I need help. I don’t even know how to install a printer, so I really do believe if I can do it anyone can.

    I work for Microsoft and one of the things I do is talk to people about Windows Phone, so of course I am going to build a Windows Phone app, which I am told is the easiest platform for developing phone applications. We’ll see if it’s really as easy as they say. Ready? Okay here we go!

    Step 1: Download and install the development tool.

    Because of my job I do know where to go to download the toolkit:Go to  App Hub and then click on the tile that says Download the free tools


    That takes me to a page that says develop for Windows Phone 7.5 and Xbox LIVE Indie Games. Xbox would be cool, but I want to build a phone app so I am going to choose download the Windows Phone SDK 7.1 (of course if anyone reads this in a year, there will no doubt be a newer version)


    Okay now it takes me to the Download Center and there are two files to download, the release notes and an executable.

    imageWell that’s pretty straightforward, I hate it when the download is 6 different files and I can’t figure out which is the 32 bit version and which is the 64 bit version and stuff like that. I admit I don’t always read all the release notes and caveats but since I am blogging today I will actually read some of the stuff on the page.

    The windows phone SDK includes the following

    • Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone – Sweet! That means this gives me a version of Visual Studio, so that’s the program I will use to write my code. So now I know what tool to use.
    • Windows Phone Emulator – Okay I know what this is, this is the testing tool so you can test a phone application without having an actual phone, nice that it comes with the SDK.
    • A bunch of extensions and assemblies including XNA and Silverlight. I have never done XNA, I know a bit about Silverlight but not that much, let’s hope I don’t need to become a Silverlight guru, WCF data services, Microsoft Advertising SDK,… okay so it has a bunch of stuff built in for different features, I’ll worry about that later

    System Requirements okay that I should look at…

    • Windows Vista (x86 and x64) with Service Pack 2 Why do they do that? everyone talks about 32 bit and 64 bit but they always call it x86 and x64, I assume x86 is 32-bit so that means I can install this on a 32 or 64 bit OS. That’s good.
    • Windows 7  (x86 and x64) all editions except Starter Edition (I have Windows 7 on my laptop, hopefully it is not starter edition, not sure how to check, I’ll worry about that if the install fails)
    • 4GB free disk space
    • 3GB RAM
    • Windows Phone Emulator requires a DirectX or above capable graphics card with a WDDM 1.1 driver (I have no idea if my laptop has that stuff, I guess I will find out when I try to use the emulator)

    There is also a note saying if you have the earlier version of the phone SDK you must install that first. Hah now I do actually have to do that because I started trying to build a phone app this summer, and then got distracted. I guess it pays to read the instructions!  And of course no instructions on how to uninstall. Luckily I do know enough to try  Start – Control Panel – Programs – Uninstall a programimage

    Of course there are a bunch of components with Windows Phone in the name, I think I need to uninstall Windows Phone SDK and all the other stuff like Windows SDK add in for visual Studio and Expression Blend SDK for Windows Phone are part of that SDK. Pick Uninstall/Change, then a window comes up asking repair or uninstall I choose uninstall, click OK…wait a while and done. Now I can download the release notes (I want to look thorough since I am blogging about this). Wow a lot of stuff in there, but what matters will depend on your installation. For me an important fact was the fact that if you have Visual Studio 2010 on your pc (which I do) you need SP1, but this same SDK will work whether or not you have Visual Studio 2010. Basically if you don’t have Visual Studio you get Visual Studio Express. If you do have Visual Studio 2010 it will install a sort of add-on so you can develop phone apps in your existing Visual Studio.

    Now I am ready to install the actual SDK! I just downloaded vm_web2.exe when I double click on it. Hah! I don’t have enough hard drive space. Figures, nothing is ever simple for me! Okay time to move a few of my photos onto an external hard drive. Now I can try again, a few “I agree” and “Ok” clicks and I get a message telling me it is successfully installed.

    I go to Start All Programs, since I have Visual Studio installed I can launch Visual Studio, if you don’t have Visual Studio, then after you install the toolkit you would launch Visual Studio Express for Windows Phone.

    Select File | New Project and look at that I have two new project types for building Windows Phone applications! Silverlight for Windows Phone and XNA Game Studio.


    Well okay that was easier than I expected. So far so good. Next blog I’ll figure out how to build and test a simple application. Wish me luck and join me on my adventure download the SDK today and start thinking about what your app will be! Then check out part 2 where I get to...you guessed it, build a Hello World App.

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