Microsoft Announces Visual Studio Achievements for Windows Azure

In January this year, Microsoft announced Visual Studio Achievements for Developers – a fun way bringing Xbox LIVE-like points to everyday programming tasks. The fascinating program makes sure your hard day’s work doesn’t go unnoticed and after over 80,000 downloads since the initial release, Microsoft has now extended the game to enroll developers working on Windows Azure.

The Visual Studio Achievements Extension has now been updated to include fifteen new achievements, all focused on exercising features of Windows Azure. Using the extension, various achievements are unlocked based on your activity. When you unlock an achievement, Visual Studio lets you know visually with a pop-up. In addition, your Channel 9 profile is updated with any achievements you earn. So, head over to Channel9, sign up for an account and download the plugin.

VisualStudio_badges,There are 15 new Azure achievements, such as publishing to Windows Azure from Visual Studio (Heading into the Cloud), using page blobs (Attack of the Blob), using SQL Azure (Database Darling) and configuring start up tasks (It’s My Party). Two of the achievements – Phone in the Cloud and Game in the Cloud – require use of Windows Azure toolkits.

You might also want to check Visual Studio Achievements for Windows Phone – a Windows Phone app that allows you to view Visual Studio Achievements on the go.

Windows Phone Mango Beta Refreshed; Twitter Integration Debuts

Yesterday, Microsoft announced Windows Phone Mango RTM. The RTM implies that the code is finished, and handed over to carriers and device manufacturers for testing and distribution to the customers. Today, Microsoft surprised developers by releasing Beta 2 Refresh of the Windows Phone SDK 7.1.

Also, Microsoft is pushing an OS update for developer-unlocked phones allowing developers to refresh the Mango update to Build 7712 corresponding to the SDK release. The RTM build is 7720. The Beta 2 of Windows Phone SDK 7.1 was released last month and developer-unlocked phones were updated to Mango (Build 7661). Although, the update has a RC moniker in the name when the tools are installed, this is an early version. The final Release Candidate would be released next month. The final Mango update would not be available to developers early, and would be pushed through the usual official channels.

Today’s update is available through the Mango Connect site. You would need to download and install the updated Zune software (4.8.2134.0) and an UpdateWP.exe file. Also download the Windows Phone SDK tools. Before you install any of these, first uninstall the previous versions of all three from your computer.

The latest update showcases Twitter integration in Windows Phone for the first time. Although the Twitter integration was announced and demoed earlier, the feature wasn’t included in the last update. I did a post on all points of Windows Phone experience where Twitter integrates.

The comprehensive integration touches all bases in Windows Phone. The integration is present in the Me tile, People Hub, Pictures hub, and Internet Explorer 9. The Twitter integration is very solid, and for infrequent Twitter users, this might just do away with the need for a Twitter client.

The tools update also adds a nifty screenshot capability built-in into Windows Phone Emulator allowing you to quickly take screenshots of your apps without using a separate app.

Xcode 4.1 is Free for Lion Users

If you are a developer on the Mac, then you are aware of what Xcode is. If you aren’t a Mac/iOS/Safari Dev, then you may not have even heard of Xcode. That’s to be expected, as it used to be only  available  to those with developer  licenses.

However, when the Mac App Store launched, Apple released Xcode for a mere 5 dollars. I, like many others, picked it up for personal reasons. I wanted it to enable the beta versions of the multi-touch gestures for my iPad.

Now, Apple has decided to give Xcode away for free, given that you have purchased a copy of OS X Lion. This is huge news, because it will save casual developers a hundred bucks a year. If you need an application to write the  occasional  piece  of code, or even just a simple script now and then, you should check out Xcode.

Xcode is constantly rated as one of the best sets of tools for development on the Mac. It sports some of the best formatting and color coding I have ever come across. While I don’t write code for a living, I have done some basic web development, and Xcode makes my life easier when I do.

If you are interested in Xcode, and you have already upgraded to Lion, then I suggest you pick it up. While the price may stick, it wouldn’t surprise me if Apple changed the price with an update in the future. Jump on this deal while its  available.

Download iOS 4.1 GM Firmware for iPhone And iPod Touch

Earlier today, Apple announced the availability of which fixes several bugs in including the proximity sensor bug on . The iOS 4.1 firmware will also fix performance issues with 3G and adds HDR photo support to the iPhone.

iOS 4.1 Downloads

iOS 4.1 also adds the much awaited Game Center, which will allow users to play multiplayer games and challenge your friends, whilst allowing you to discover new games.

iOS 4.1 is a free update which will be rolled out for iPhone and devices next week, however, if you are developer, you can download the iOS 4.1 GM Firmware right now through Apple developer network.

According to 9to5 Mac, Apple has begun seeding the iOS 4.1 GM to developers and it can be downloaded from developer.apple.com. You will require an Apple developer account in order to download the iOS 4.1 GM. The final release of iOS 4.1 is scheduled for next week and users will be able to download it using iTunes.

Test Websites In Different Fonts From Google Font Directory

As a designer or website developer, you would want to try and vary the fonts you use on a webpage to get the best typography for it, however, doing this through CSS could take a little effort.

Google Font Directory API Tester Chrome Extension

Google Font Directory provides users with several fonts which they can use on their website by embedding JavaScript code on your website. The fonts provided through the directory are open source and will be served through Google’s servers.

Google Font API Tester is a extension which will allow you to test the fonts made available through Google Font Directory on any website without having to make any physical changes to the code.

Techie Buzz Verdict

The Google Font API Tester is a pretty neat extension which will save developers and designers some work when they want to make use of fonts from the Google Font Directory, however, this extension is not useful for testing other fonts.

My advise to the developer would be to extend this extension and allow users to somehow also use other popular fonts currently being used on websites, that way it could be used by people who want to test websites with fonts like Arial, Verdana and so on without having to make physical changes to the code.

Techie Buzz Rating: 3/5

Downloads for this postDownload Google Font API Tester

Download iOS 4.1 For iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS/3G and iPod Touch

Apple has released an updated version of named as iOS 4.1 beta for , 3GS, iPhone 3G, 3G and iPod Touch 2G. The new version has several changes which are intended for developers to work with.

iOS 4.1

If you are an Apple Developer, you can download iOS 4.1 beta from the Apple developer site here to try out and build applications with. However, if you are an iPhone 4 user do not expect this to fix the Death Grip Antenna issue, we earlier reported that iOS 4.1 does not fix Antenna issues, so these issues are purely hardware related.

Also, if you have jailbroken iPhone, it is highly advisable to stay away from this update until the Dev team and others work on a new jailbreak for iOS 4.1. New features in iOS 4.1 are not very noticeable except for a change in the network signal bars.

iOS 4.1 also lays foundation for Game Center which has not yet launched. In addition to that, iOS 4.1 does not have support for the yet, so it iPad users may have to be content with using iOS 3.2 for now. Are your hands itching? Go ahead and download iOS 4.1 from the Apple Developer site here then.

iOS 4.1 Released For Developers, Does Not Fix Death Grip Issues

Apple has released a new beta of , tagged iOS 4.1 to developers. The new version of does not include much changes and is not yet ready for the .

ios4_logo

Many people thought that a software update would fix the Antenna reception issues, but there are reports from Mobile Crunch which suggest that it does not do it. This means that Apple will most likely have to recall the faulty 4 from the market, which again will cost them billions of dollars.

Mobile Crunch have also included a video which demonstrates that the Antenna issues still exist after upgrading to iOS 4.1, check the video below.

iOS 4.1 has some noticeable differences where the signal bars are slightly bigger and the phone also has lesser bars. If you depend on Jailbreaking the iPhone or Unlocking iPhone you are advised to stay away from this update. We will keep you posted when iOS 4.1 jailbreaks and iOS 4.1 unlock becomes available.

You can download iOS 4.1 Beta from here. Please note that you will require a Apple Developer account in order to download and use the latest iOS 4 beta software.

Firefox 4 "Heads Up Display" Web Console Adds Debugging Console To The Browser

which was released yesterday has several new and interesting features for developers. One of the features I found interesting was the "Heads Up Display" Web console feature which allows you to debug any website and see errors, info and warnings along with network connections being made by a website.

Firefox 4 Heads Up Display Web Console

To enable the Heads Up Display web console debugger, just press Alt + T and select Heads up Display or you can also use the Ctrl + Shift + K hotkey to activate it.

This is definitely a very interesting features and I would like it to be more advanced in the future versions. Being a developer I use tools like Tamper Data and Firebug to help me out with debugging websites and requests they make. An inbuilt debugger is just an icing on the cake.

HTML5 <video> Tag Support For All Browsers

Videos is a very big feature which will render Flash videos almost useless, however not every browser supports HTML5 yet, the few that do also are either development versions or beta versions.

So, as a developer how would you switch to HTML videos? Well, there is a way by using a new JavaScript API which adds support for the HTML5 <video> tag in all browsers.

The API in question is called “html5media” and makes use of jQuery to display the default HTML5 video player if the browser supports it, or defaults to Flowplayer if the browser does not support it.

This will ensure that your <video> tag will play in all browsers, irrespective of whether they support it or not, definitely a good way to start using HTML5 videos in your project.

The only downside of this API is that you will have to include a JavaScript library in all pages that you want to insert the HTML5 videos in as shown below.

HTML5 Video Support for All Browsers

Once you do that, the html5media JavaScript library will take care of displaying the videos to both HTML5 browsers as well those which do not support it.

Download and Learn more about html5media. You can also view the demo of the script in action by visiting this page on a HTML5 compliant browser and one which does not support it. The only downside of this is that your video needs to be encoded in either the h.264 codec (mp4) or Theora codec (ogv).