Scott Hanselman

Simulating an iPhone or iPad browser for ASP.NET Mobile Web Development with WebMatrix 2 or Visual Studio 2012

June 11, '12 Comments [27] Posted in Apple | ASP.NET | Tools | WebMatrix
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I mentioned the Electric Plum Mobile Simulator as a nice way to check your site on an iPhone while using a Windows machine in my post called "Create a great mobile experience for your website today. Please."

Microsoft WebMatrix 2 RC is out this week and has a nice feature included - support for the Electric Plum Mobile Simulator for iPhone and iPad built right in. WebMatrix is Microsoft's lightweight editor for ASP.NET, PHP and node.js, as well the best way to install open source applications. It's a bit of a playground for the team. Features can be tried out in WebMatrix, and if they pop, we can move them into Visual Studio. I've been singing about Electric Plum for months, so I'm happy to see it in WebMatrix.

Here's how to use the iPhone simulator there, and how to add an iPhone Simulator to Visual Studio 2012 RC's list of browsers manually.

First, install WebMatrix 2 RC. You'll want this even if you're going to add Electric Plum to Visual Studio. From the Run menu, select Add new...

Adding iPhones to the WebMatrix run menu

From here, you'll go to the Browser Extension area where you can add not only iPhone and iPad but also the Windows Phone 7 emulator.

New Mobile emulators in WebMatrix 2 include iPhone

Now the Run button has more browsers as a choice. Here I've left the iPhone as the default choice.

My Run button now has an iPhone picture on it

And when I run it, I get the nice Electric Plum iPhone simulation with my current site loaded automatically. (Did you notice that WebMatrix used NuGet to install this feature? All these extensions are buried in C:\Users\YOU\AppData\Local\Microsoft\WebMatrix\Extensions\20RC currently)

Electric Plum Mobile Simulator

To add this browser to Visual Studio 2012 RC, go to the new browser button (integrated with the Debug button) while in a web project and select Browse With... and add in C:\Users\YOU\AppData\Local\Microsoft\WebMatrix\Extensions\20RC\iPhoneSimulator\ElectricMobileSim\ElectricMobileSim.exe. For arguments put in 1 for the iPhone.

Adding Electric Plum's iPhone simulator in my Visual Studio

Now, make another entry for IPad and use arguments "2" for iPad. Your VIsual Studio 2012 RC menu should now look like this.

Look, iPhone's in my Visual Studio Menu

Now, this is just using the basic version of Electric Plum that you can download inside WebMatrix. You can get a MUCH more functional version for $29.99. It will give you a developer console, GPS support, accelerometer and some additional HTML5 support like local storage, etc. If you're seriously doing iPhone websites on a Windows machine, it's a bargain and you get both iPhone and iPad plus a load of features.

(NOTE: I am NOT affliated with Electric Plum nor do I sell their products. I just think they are cool folks.)

Have fun! Do you want to see stuff like this in VS? Tell me in the comments and I'll make sure the right people see your voice!

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Getting a new iPhone or iPad? Don't forget to enter your password 7 times!

March 17, '12 Comments [20] Posted in Apple
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I like it when companies have a single login. I've got a single Windows Live ID, a single Apple ID and a single Google login. For the most part, that along with my hanselman.com OpenID unlocks 90% of the Internet for me. What I don't like is entering these single IDs more than once on the same device. I was restoring an iPad from its backup just now and since passwords aren't stored in backups, I needed to re-enter mine. I entered my work and home email passwords, which makes sense. Then, rather than entering my Apple ID once in friendly Settings applet called "Enter your Apple ID only once here and I'll handle the rest," or even better, being prompted to enter my Apple ID when I started the device for the first time, again just once, instead I proceeded to have to enter the same Apple ID and password at least seven times.

Let's review, shall we? First, in the Store that manages your ID for applications and automatic downloads.*

Store

Next in Video for Home Sharing...

Video

But also Music for Home Sharing...

Music

Then Game Center, which still looks totally ridiculous and out of place.

Game Center

Don't forget iMessage and also click Receive At to make sure all your emails are listed. But, you can't use your phone number here, so good luck getting iMessages to sync across devices.

iMessage

Also add FaceTime which is not iMessage. No one ever FaceTimes you but, they might, so, be ready.

FaceTime

Don't forget iCloud. Remember also that Find My iPad in here is NOT the same Find My Whatever from MobileMe, and that's maybe not the same ID and password.

iCloud

I love the hardware, the design and the devices, but man, Single Sign On anyone? Did I miss any?

* Ya, I know, two iOS posts in a row. Sue me. Or, better yet, just Mark as Read and we'll talk tomorrow, OK?

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Living a Microsoft lifestyle using Apple iOS products - Lync, OneNote, Xbox for iPhone and iPad and more, oh my

December 22, '11 Comments [31] Posted in Apple | Mobile | Tools
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My iOS Home ScreenSure, I work for The Man in my day job, but I have an iPhone, a few iPod Touches, and two iPads in my personal mobile life. I have great respect for the Windows Phone 7 UX and I have a Samsung Focus that runs Mango that I swap my SIM into every few months to check out, but I'm invested in the iOS app store enough now that switching doesn't make sense for me. I'm teased by some co-workers and community folks who think I should blindly use only Microsoft products. That's fine. I use what works for me and I encourage you to do the same.

I am, however, a Microsoft Office fan and use OneNote (I switched from Evernote recently when Cloud sync via Skydrive for OneNote become available. I also use Lync (formerly Office Communicator) extensively at work as I'm remote.

Recently Microsoft released Lync for iPhone and iPad (as well as Google Android and Microsoft’s Windows Phone). The addition of Lync to my iPhone and iPad was effectively the last link in the chain for me as far as making sure my iPhone was connected to work.

I thought I'd take stock of the Microsoft apps that I'm using on my iOS devices, how they work and how I use them.

Microsoft Lync for iOS

I love Lync. Truly. It's corporate instant messaging, sure, but it's also VOIP, presence information, a company directory and it's integrated nicely with Office 365 and Outlook.

I've got a work phone number in the 425 area code that will simultaneously ring at my 503 mobile phone. Lync on the iPhone will also let me make calls from my 425 number by starting the call from Redmond then calling me immediately. Lync gives me iPhone-style access to my Voice Mail. It's a lot like the Google Voice app, except for Corporate VOIP.

The Microsoft Lync iPhone Application - Voice Mailsphoto 4

It supports notifications as well and I've sorted it to the top in my iOS5 notification center. It'll keep you signed in for 36 hours and send you notifications as long as you've enabled push notify. If not, it'll run in the background for an hour. There's no reason not to turn on notifications on iOS5 as far as I can see, so 36 hours is fine as I'll be launching it more often than that and keep it alive. Even better, it'll notify you to sign in (relaunch) if you don't go back in within 36 hours. Because the notifications are server-side, there's no battery hit.

The Microsoft Lync iPhone Application - ChatsThe Microsoft Lync iPhone Application - My Profile

There's a complete matrix of what mobile platforms support what in Lync over on TechNet.

Bing for iPhone

It's funny, I mostly Google for Web Pages but after my "give Bing a month" challenge, I use Bing for Movies, Weather, Travel and stuff that isn't web page searching. In fact, right now my home page is actually three tabs: DuckDuckGo, Bing and Google. Then I use the one that will give me the best results.

On the iPhone, Bing is a great app with a lot of depth. On the iPad it's AMAZING. If you have an iPad, no joke, check out the Bing App. You'll be impressed, especially when you realize how long ago it was released. It's innovative UI on the iPad predates the Twitter iPad release.

Bing has a great image search, but it's also got three nice features that use the iPhone camera. It'll search tags and QR Codes, it'll search books and CDs using just cover art, and it'll look at text and auto-OCR (Optical Character Recognition) the text then let you search on it.

Bing iOS Application - Home ScreenBing iOS Application - Movies

Frankly, the real crime here is that Microsoft does tell enough people about these features. Rather than trying to uncomfortably fit "let me Bing that" into popular TV shows, why not just have a main character USE the application for a real world problem and not make it so in your face? The Bing iOS app shines when you just use it.

Bing iOS Application - Image Search with CameraBing iOS Application - Camera and OCR

Here I've pointed it at a book cover and it's found the book then linked me to shopping. In the other screenshot I've pointed it at some text, it recognized it, then I can click the words I want to use to search with. Nice for translating signs or searching for ingredients on menus.

Microsoft OneNote for iPhone and iPad

I recently switched away from Evernote in favor of OneNote because I find OneNote's "freeform" notes more flexible over EverNote's more constrained "bullets and lists." OneNote also integrates nicely with Outlook and Office.

OneNote

When OneNote added cloud syncing with Windows Live SkyDrive, that was nice as I could use OneNote on multiple machines. Then OneNote for iPhone and iPad came out and I was sold.

Microsoft OneNote on IOS - NoteMicrosoft OneNote on IOS - List of Notes

OneNote supports up to 500 notes for free and then they charge. I use it a LOT and I'm still only at 180 notes.

Microsoft OneNote on IOS - SectionMicrosoft OneNote on IOS - Searching

They could still stand to improve it on the iPad with ink support but generally, having OneNote and Lync together on my iPhone or iPad along with my mail makes me a pretty good little corporate tool when I'm hanging at the Holiday Inn Omaha.

Xbox for iOS

There's even an Xbox app for iPhone. Madness. You can keep track of Achievements, answer messages, set beacons, but also watch videos and game trailers.

Xbox Achievements on iPhoneXbox Avatar editing on iPhone

You can even change your avatar's look. Jazz hands!

Xbox Videos on iPhoneHalo Waypoint for iPhone

By the way, there's even a Halo Waypoint app for iPhone.

Lots of Microsoft apps in the Apple MarketplaceOther Microsoft apps on iPhone

There's a bunch of other apps from Microsoft on iOS, including:

  • Microsoft SkyDrive for iPhone - Exactly that. It's a drive in the Sky. They give you 25 gigs for free. I keep my OneNote files up there for syncing but you can put anything there like photos, documents, etc.
  • Kintectimals - A nice tie-in with the actual Xbox game for kids with Kinect. It's really cute on the iPad and actually lets you unlock 5 new cubs from the iOS device that your kids can then use on their Xbox directly.
  • Photosynth - This app has been downloaded 4.4 MILLION teams on the iPhone. You kinda have to see it to believe it, but it's kind of a 360 degree panorama on steroids.
  • Windows Live Messenger - If this is your IM of choice, they've got that also.

I'm pretty stoked about Microsoft's (apparently) new focus on services being available everywhere, rather than sweating whether someone is using those services on a Microsoft piece of hardware.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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There is only one Cloud Icon in the Entire Universe

October 16, '11 Comments [45] Posted in Apple | Musings
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I recently worked on the update to the ASP.NET site, now in beta at http://beta.asp.net. On that site we used an icon from the Pictos collection. I have an email from March of 2010 where we selected that icon, in fact.

Recently we updated the old site's cloud icon from this, to this:

Old ASP.NET Cloud IconNew ASP.NET Cloud Icon

I saw a few tweets and got some emails that said "nice iCloud icon." Well, it does look familiar! ;)

iCloud Icon

Of course, MobileMe before this:

Mobile Me Icon

I knew I'd see this icon somewhere before. Folks have even written articles talking about how beautiful this icon is and how the Golden Ratio is infused in its design. There are even tutorials written on how to create the icon from scratch in PhotoShop.

iCloud Icon Golden Ratio

Apple's logo artists have infused the iCloud logo with some mathematical elegance. In this case, the golden ratio or φ...Simple, but profound. Awesome Apple's design philosophy.

Funny thing about the Golden Ratio, if you look for it, you'll find it everywhere. Read about it in the book "The Golden Ratio: The Story of PHI" or watch this video on the Golden Ratio.  It's intuitive. Cool, also that they attribute this icon and it's "brilliance" to the Apple Designers, except the icon isn't from Apple, it's straight from Pictos 1. I know, because we bought it from them for our site. Plus Pictos 1 has been around for years. It includes a regular cloud, clouds with arrows up and down and a lightening bolt cloud.

Pictos - The Original iCloud Icon

Of course, there's only so many ways to draw a cloud, right? But somehow this one just nails it and is itself iconic, if you'll excuse the pun.

Where else might you have seen this cloud icon? Seems everyone with an internet-connected or music app uses it:

Another app using the same cloud iconYet another app using the same cloud icon

Just a few...

Daum Cloud UtilitiesCloud 2 Go

Dreams ControllerCloud of Inspirations

Cloud WalletCosa Icon

Zendit iconWiFi Fast Connect

iStorage IconSound Cloud Icon

Even though the first appearance of this cloud icon was in the commercial Pictos 1 set, you'll find suspiciously similar clouds in other cloud icons packs like the one at Yay.se that's Creative Commons. Notice that you can change the look of the cloud icon slight if you the circles smaller or larger or add a border, push and pull, or squish and stretch.

More clouds!

But again, it's essentially four circles. My 3 year old draws similar clouds. At what point does a unique design stop being unique and just absorb into the consciousness?

Today, it seems there is only one cloud icon in the universe and it's four circles with a flat base. I like it.

UPDATE: Hat tip to Ian Griffiths who points out that the BBC Weather Service beat all of us to the iCloud icon, kind of...over 30 years ago. ;)

iCloud - BBC Style, 30 years ago

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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A suggested improved customer interaction with the Apple Store (and Cloud Services in general)

August 13, '11 Comments [39] Posted in Apple | Musings
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Alternative Title: "What good fraud detection looks like"

Save me, Clippy, from Internet Fraud! My recent 'screed' called "Welcome to the Cloud - "Your Apple ID has been disabled" got a number of people talking. Yes, Gruber's DF called it a 'screed' which is a common enough term on his site I suppose. Sure, it was a rant, I'll accept that.

MG Siegler from TechCrunch had these comments, some very valid. Emphasis mine.

But what Hanselman, who happens to work for Microsoft, seems most upset about is that Apple sent him a email warning him of strange activity on his account, but worded it in a way he didn’t like. And then they locked down his account with wording he didn’t like. And they made him go through iTunes to double-check his activity.

And he doesn’t like that Apple knows what device he has, but let the download happen anyway. I mean, people buy new devices all the time. What’s the proposed solution here? The perpetrators clearly had the correct Apple ID and password. I’m not sure what you can do to protect against that. Kill the cloud?

I honestly don't how my Apple ID account was compromised. I had a high-entropy generated site-specific password. I've scanned all my systems for trojans, keyloggers and rootkits. However, that's not the point, nor was it the point of the post (although it was a bit of a rant on my part, admittedly.) The point isn't even Apple-specific, although they are an excellent example.

This security related user interaction could just as easily been on Xbox Live, Amazon Kindle, DropBox, or any of a hundred other Cloud services. Regardless of how the fraud occurred, what happens next is a user interaction point that is an opportunity to make things right for the customer.

Before I worked for Microsoft, I was the Chief Architect at an Online Banking vendor. At our high point, 25% of the retail online banking in the US ran through the system I worked on. We worked half the top ten banks in the country, as well as banks overseas. We worked with anti-fraud systems and the FBI. We designed a number of interesting systems around keeping users safe and informed.

For example, in one system, if your account password is compromised the bad guys could be able log into and see your account balances. However, there was a scale of 'risky operations' from seeing your account numbers (hidden by default) to transferring money internally (risky) to transferring money overseas (very risky) that would throw up gauntlets. Using Bayesian algorithms we would assign a user's session and their activities a risk value. When those values passed a threshold, we get challenge them for more information. The user isn't bothered when they do the stuff they always do from the computers they always use. But if you're suddenly on a new browser from a new system in a new country doing something you've never done before, we'll challenge you. This kind of adaptive real-time fraud detection with security gates is will have to become the norm in user interactions with Cloud Services.

MG Siegler calls me out here:

Apple sent him a email warning him of strange activity on his account, but worded it in a way he didn’t like.

Here is the email and what it made me feel. Then I'll propose a solution.

Your Apple ID was just used to purchase 明珠三国OL from the App Store on a computer or device that had not previously been associated with that Apple ID.
If you made this purchase, you can disregard this email. This email was sent as a safeguard designed to protect you against unauthorized purchases.
If you did not make this purchase, we recommend that you go to
iforgot.apple.com to change your password, then see Apple ID: Tips for protecting the security of your account for further assistance.

I read this as:

  • We know what devices you have, and a new device we've never seen before has bought something.
  • If it was you, don't worry, this email was FYI.
  • If it wasn't you, you should go to iforgot.apple.com and change your password and protect your account.
  • Whatever happened was probably your fault and you should be more careful with these tips.

It may very well be my fault, but this user interaction isn't designed to comfort me or to make me feel safer. It succeeding in upsetting me and making me feel not only out of control but also helpless.

Here's a email I would have loved to have received

Congrats on your new iPhone/iPad! We noticed you've made your first purchase, as your Apple ID was just used to buy 明珠三国OL from the App Store on a computer or device that had not previously been associated with that Apple ID.
Ordinarily we wouldn't bother you but we noticed a few things about your recent purchase.

  • You've never purchased an app in Chinese. Your last 492 app purchases have been English.
  • This purchase was from the China Unicom carrier, while your other 3 devices are on AT&T.
  • This purchase originated from a location in Shanghai, while your previous app purchases have originated from Oregon.
  • This application included In-App purchases over $20 and you've set your in-App purchase threshold at $10.

We realize this may be inconvenient, but in instances like these, it's best to be extra careful. We need to associate your new device with your Apple ID. This is a one-time operation. If you made this purchase, please click here to confirm. This email was sent as a safeguard designed to protect you against unauthorized purchases on new devices.
If you did not make this purchase, click here and let us know. The security of your account is important to us and we always recommend you

protect the security of your account.

MG Siegler says:

And he doesn’t like that Apple knows what device he has, but let the download happen anyway. I mean, people buy new devices all the time.

I have, according to iTunes, 492 applications. They have all been purchased on either my iPad or my iPhone. I purchase new apps all the time. In fact, the ratio of my app purchases to my device purchases is 492:2. I realize MG says "people buy new devices all the time" but I would argue that a single confirmation email on the first application purchased on a new device would greatly reduce cases of fraud like this (assuming you don't have a @me email account that the bad guys own.)

This is a single example of an Apple interaction, but I would expect nothing less from my Xbox, from my Kindle, or from my Bank. In fact, I get notifications from Gmail that make me feel better about my interaction with them, not worse. Recently I logged into my Google Apps account and a small red banner was at the top that said "You are forwarding email to foo@foo.com. Why is this notice here?"

gmail redirect notice 

I saw this Gmail notice and said to myself, "rock on." I didn't realize I was forwarding emails with certain keywords to another account. This could be an attack vector for bad guys to siphon information out of a compromised email account. And the "why is this notice here?" link is subtle brilliance. Inform the customer and answer common questions.

Gmail also has a "notify me of suspicious activity" setting. I receive this when I am overseas or after coming back. Also brilliant. You don't usually go to Poland, so here's how to protect yourself.

gmail_warning  gmail-redirect-notice[1]

I expect my cloud services to let me know in a way that escalates appropriately with the threat when something that doesn't' match my patterns happens.

The meta-points are

  • The Cloud(s) and all its services are protected only by our passwords and the most basic of fraud systems.
  • Cloud services are totally centralized, which makes them a big target, but they have activity information about what we're doing online that isn't being utilized to keep us safe.
  • We, the Users, need to demand better, more secure interactions from the cloud vendors that we put our trust in.
  • It sucks to lose access to your cloud data.

What are your thoughts, Dear Reader?

Thanks to Matt Sherman for the Alternative Title! ;)

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.