Windows 8

Installing Mac OS X in VMWare Workstation on Windows 8

I created Mac OS X Virtual Machine on VMWare. It wasn’t simple process, so I decided to share this experience. I was following this article. Here is an outline:

  1. Download and install VMWare Workstation. But to do that, you need to disable Hyper-V first.
  2. Download VMWare unlocker and run windows/install.cmd script. It allows to choose Mac OS X system during VM creation later on.
  3. Convert Mac OS X image (Mountain Lion in my case) from .dmg to .iso (using dmg2img).
  4. Create VM for Mac OS X and choose created Mac OS X .iso file in new VM settings -> hardware -> CD/DVD (SATA) -> Use ISO image file
  5. Run Virtual Machine and install Mac OS X (described in mentioned article).
  6. Install VMWare tools (also described in mentioned article).

Once Mac OS X is installed and running I updated Mountain Lion to Mavericks. That was easy and went smoothly. Additionally I recommend to do following:

  1. Enable shared folders (they are located in /Volumes/VMWare Shared Folders/NAME_OF_FOLDER)
  2. Install TotalFinder
  3. Install iTerm 2
  4. Install Witch
  5. Install SublimeText 3
  6. Install Xcode (not only for iOS development, it contains e.g. gcc compiler)

Linux (Ubuntu) installation is much easier. You just download Ubuntu iso and create VM on VMWare workstation using downloaded .iso file. That’s it.


My Pomidoro Windows 8 app is getting famous

Over a year ago I created simple Windows 8 app: Pomidoro (the name ‘Pomodoro’ was already taken at the Windows Store). And yes, it is for applying The Pomodoro Technique. I published it to the Windows Store on January 7, 2013.

Pomidoro screenshot

The reason I created this app, was to learn Windows 8 Metro apps development.

From time to time I receive e-mails that my app got some third party award or was reviewed by some website I have never heard about.

A few weeks ago I received e-mail from Best Windows 8 Apps. My app received Editor’s pick award:

Pomidoro Editor's pick award

A few days ago I received e-mail from AppFeds. They states, that they are tracking 116,642 apps. Windows 8 Store contains over 144,739 (source). Now, my app is 579/673 in the productivity category.

Pomidoro Windows 8 app in Ranking in Productivity

Pomidoro Windows 8 app in Top Free Ranking in Productivity

I checked how many productivity apps they have and I was a little bit surprised. They have 673 apps in category Productivity. How is this possible that my app was ranked 958 in January 31? Did they have more apps or they are just lying? First warning about credibility of their website.

EDIT (after clarification from AppFeds, see comment): They have more than 2800 apps in category Productivity and almost 700 of them are well received. My app was 958 in January, now is 674. Yesterday (before the comment from AppFeds was posted), my app was 557.

Pomidoro ranking in productivity March 12, 2014

But, in the same time, my app is in page 38, when I sort Productivity apps, by ranking (with ‘Well Received’ filter off). There is 10 apps per page, which means my app is in top 380(?) Why there is a difference between the list and above chart? Maybe guys from AppFeds can explain that as well? [End Of Edit]

Yesterday I received another e-mail. It made me to create this post. The e-mail was from I Love Free Software:

Hi jj09 team,

I am Ubaidullah from www.ilovefreesoftware.com. We recently reviewed Pomidoro on our website here:

http://www.ilovefreesoftware.com/24/featured/free-pomodoro-timer-apps-windows-8.html

We are a popular tech website and get hundreds of thousands of visitors from over 150 countries around the world.

It would be great if you could add a link to the review on your website. This would tell your visitors that we have reviewed your app as one of the best free app available (and that would add up to your credibility as well).

I have attached a badge with this mail which you can flaunt on your website, and link that to the review. Alternatively, you can just add this code:

<a href=”http://www.ilovefreesoftware.com/24/featured/free-pomodoro-timer-apps-windows-8.html” title=”Free Software” ><img border=”0″ src=”http://cdn.ilovefreesoftware.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/ilovefreesoftware_reviewed_5Star.png”/></a>

Feel free to get back to me with any questions.

Have Fun,

Ubaidullah Khan
Collaboration Manager

I checked this review. Doesn’t look like a simple scam. It is neither high quality review. The cool thing is my app is 1st of 4 best Pomodoro apps 🙂 This is the badge from them:

Pomidoro - I love free software reviewed 5 Star

* Of course I didn’t paste link provided by them. The picture is stored on my server for security reasons.

Is that means my tiny app is good? Maybe average Windows Store apps are not very high quality (if app created within one day can be better than them)? Or maybe there are people who trying to get their websites popular, by scaming Windows Apps’s creators? I think the last reason is the most likely 🙂

Now, let’s look at the most accurate statistics – Windows Store:

Pomidoro Windows Store stats

The problem here is following: how can I check how good my app is? The best way to do that is compare it with other apps. But how? I was trying to find some Apps rankings on Windows Store websites and I didn’t find any. Maybe I am not good google user. I found some ranking on Microsoft Store for Windows Phone (using Bing), but not for Windows 8.

I know, I am feeding scammers by linking these third party websites here. On the other had, some of them (e.g. this or that) have better UX than Windows Store websites. I spent 10 minutes trying to find Windows Store Apps rankings online and I failed. I know you can sort Apps in Windows Store by popularity, but why it is not available online? In the same time, third party websites like AppFeds have pretty nice and clear UX for Apps Catalogs. Their data may be not accurate, but the UI is nice. Maybe guys from Microsoft should think about something like that?


Update to Windows 8.1 from Windows 8

Before you decide to upgrade your Windows 8 to 8.1, you should be aware of some issues/changes.

To begin with, it is not very obvious and easy to find a way, to avoid using Microsoft Account. Fortunately, Scott Hanselman described it in his blog, in his post How to sign into Windows 8 or 8.1 without a Microsoft account – make a local user.

Another issue is SkyDrive. If you are not using it, then you do not need to worry. But if you do (like me) then be aware that now it is integrated with Windows 8.1. You are not able to use SkyDrive app like in Windows 8. What is more: you need to sign in with Microsoft Account on Windows 8.1, to be able to use SkyDrive. In the recent version of SkyDrive, Microsoft introduced “smart files”. It distinguish two types of files: online-only (not stored on your hard drive and available when you are connected to the Internet) and offline (old-style files, can be used when you are offline and will be synced once you get online). Default status of new created file is online-only. You need to change it if you want to use files in the old-way (offline). There are two ways to do that. First: go to SkyDrive app and mark file/directory you want to make offline (by right click) and click “Make offline” in app bar:

SkyDrive - make offline

Second way is go to SkyDrive settings and set “Access all files offline” to “On”:

SkyDrive - access all files offline

You can find more details about “smart files” here.

All above issues are fixable. However there are a few things, which cannot be solved (so far). I have ThinkPad X220 (i5@2.3GHz, 8GB RAM, 160GB SSD) and I did a system upgrade from Win8 to Win8.1. Since then, the performance is a little bit worse. Additionally, I have two monitors connected through VGA and DisplayPort. The second monitor is all gray right after system boot. I need to click WIN+D to get the desktop. I do not have this issue on my PC where I installed Win 8.1 from scratch.

I use PowerShell as my default command line. There is a weird issue with Lucidia Console font on Windows 8.1. You cannot set it as default font. It is not a huge concern, because the Consolas works fine, but I cannot use Lucidia Console (which I like better). More about this issue here.

Now, let’s look at the bright side of life. My favorite Windows 8.1 feature is “search everywhere”. You do not need to think whether you want to search programs (WIN+Q), settings (WIN+W) or files (WIN+F). However, Everything Search Engine is still the best for searching files.

I like the Windows button too. After right-click, you have the same menu which you get with WIN+X. Furthermore, there are options shutdown/restart/sleep there. It is easier and faster accessible than “Mouse to right-bottom corner of screen”->Settings->Power->Shut down.

Another nice feature is the adjustable size of tiles:

Windows8.1 - adjustable tiles

To learn about other new features I recommend Scott Hanselman’s videos about new features in Windows 8.1. He is showing how to be productive on Windows 8.1 and how to take advantage of key shortcuts.

By the way: Happy New Year 2014!

Happy New Year 2014


Windows 8.1 Preview and Visual Studio 2013 Preview

At the build conference (June 26-28, 2013) Microsoft announced Windows 8.1 Preview and Visual Studio 2013 Preview. I installed them on my Virtual Machine. Just in case, to protect my system from some unexpected features 🙂

In case of Windows 8.1 there are no big changes. Only some small, useful improvements. I like ‘search all’, which enables you to search within apps, settings and files in the same time. However I am still using Search Everything, because it’s faster and more effective. It’s also cool to have the Start button, which brings you to the metro desktop, but again – no big deal (I was ok with WIN button). You can find list of improvements/changes here and here.

The new Visual Studio is more interesting. The One ASP.NET idea is applied. When you create new project, there are only one template: ‘ASP.NET Web Application’. Then in second step, you can choose which types of applications you want to include into it.

Visual Studio 2013 One ASP.NETVisual Studio 2013 One ASP.NET templates

There is MVC 5 (Preview) in it, along with various scaffolding options. You can e.g. scaffold just edit action.

Great feature for web developers: you can open page in multiple web browsers and then refresh them all from Visual Studio (e.g. after change in code).

The editors experience is improved. You can have code map in the scroll bar. HTML editor is rewritten from scratch. Short list of my favorite features:

  • new code snippets (in HTML document try: ‘div.myClass*4>lorem’ and click TAB)
  • intellisense in web.config
  • ALT + UP/DOWN – move code line up or down
  • ALT + 1/2 – extends text selection to level up or down
  • ALT+SHIFT+W – allows to surround selected text with new tag
  • ALT+V – voice commands (which shows shortcuts), yes we can speak to Visual Studio!
  • JavaScript frameworks intellisense (e.g. AngularJS)

But the greatest news is: WebEssentials2013 are now Open Source on github. Everyone can contribute. The policy is to add experimental features to WebEssentials and then move the hottest to Visual Studio (once they are tested). To see all, new, hot features watch Mads Kristensen’s talk at build 2013.

Another cool thing is possibility to ‘sign in’ in the Visual Studio. Once you sign in using your Microsoft account, you can synchronize settings across your devices. Now, it is enough to customize you Visual Studio only once.

There is much more new features. You can find them here and here.