WP7/8 – Net Tools Pro

My first Windows Phone application is on the marketplace (or will be in the next 12 or so hours).

Net Tools Pro does basic networking commands – Ping, NSLookup & TraceRt.   These are simple commands, but unavailable from the phone’s API.   So, it uses a web service, where the actual commands are sent out.   The app also lets you create secondary tiles which deep link to the command in question.

I picked this project mainly because it would involve Azure & WP7 development.   Azure didn’t work out, because they don’t allow Ping (ICMP) out from Azure servers.   This is understandable, since they want to avoid having people use the power of the cloud for DoS attacks.    Right now it’s just a regular old web service on a hosted server.

The biggest hurdle:  Microsoft’s AppHub took over two weeks to approve the app.  This was due, in part, to the fact that they rolled up a new version of the AppHub shortly after I submitted the app.

While waiting for the app to release, I was able to finish the last few tweaks & features originally envisioned.   Once the latest version is approved (don’t hold your breath), the LiveTiles for Ping commands will periodically check and report back (by Toast & ‘warning’ LiveTile) if the host stops responding.

See it here…

http://www.windowsphone.com/en-US/apps/5e02d49e-2098-4e3d-8566-082a660dffe0

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Developer Instantiation

I owe my career in software development to burglars.

It was 1981 or 1982, and my parents and I went away for a few days.  When we got back to the house it was ransacked and empty.   They stole everything of value, including the, then state-of-the-art, Intellivision game system.

My mom wasn’t too fond of the game system, because I spent far too much time at it.   She replaced it with a computer by the Texas Instruments company…..the TI99/4A.    This started me on the path to coding, and,  ultimately, a career in software development.

The next step was a Commodore 64 and later a Commodore 128D.   Then I mostly abandoned computers in my teens.   As I entered college and into my twenties,  I never saw myself programming.   In fact, I always wanted to be a lawyer, modeled after Ralph Nader.   That just didn’t work out, and by 1996, I was getting paid to code….having never even taken so much as Computer Science 101.

This isn’t to say that anyone handed a computer at 9 or 10 is headed to a career in code.   There is definitely genetic predisposition to enjoying & excelling at the work, but that’s a whole other post (or many a post).   Let’s just say that I definitely have those genes.

10 PRINT “HELLO WORLD”

I’ve been developing software professionally since 1996.    In that time, I have performed thousands, and possibly tens of thousands, of searches on the Internet to find the answer.

What was the question?   It depended on the project, on the technology, on the day and on the roadblock of the moment.    Just trust that for every roadblock –> this is the most potent tool a developer has:   1) mark error messages  2) paste into search engine  3) search.  (Well, maybe second to asking the developer(s) next to you).

In this way, the Internet serves as a natural extension of the brain.   I don’t need to remember what every ORA-##### error means — I only need to know how to search.  I don’t need to have a book explaining how to send a Toast message to a Windows 7 phone, because somebody has already posted a code sample online.

The only problem is that while I’ve taken…..I haven’t given back.  This blog is an attempt to rectify that.   My hope is that I can write & record any roadblocks I cross, in order to help others.

20 GOTO 10