Tech in the 603, The Granite State Hacker

MVP IoT with Windows 10, C#, Raspberry Pi and Azure IoT Hub

Boston Code Camp 28 is in the books as one of the greatest community events of recent times in my book.  Attendance was fantastic, we had amazing sponsors, and a ton of great speakers, but the thing that really made things hop was attendance.  I’m personally convinced it was the best attended Code Camp I’ve ever participated in.
As a presenter, I don’t often get to attend as many of the amazing presentations as I’d like, but yesterday I found myself especially regretting that… there was just so much great content from so many great presenters. I did manage to get into more sessions than I usually do… how could I not?

Sure, you get a few “look at this cool stuff I can do” presentations.  These are great for folks looking for inspiration on the tough challenges.  I love the spirit of “look at this cool stuff you can do (if you apply your skills in a modestly different direction)”.
This is why I do this MVP IoT presentation.  This presentation is about taking skills you already know and love (namely C# development) and applying them to what’s classically though of as “embedded” development.  Yes, there’s overhead in this approach…  you might have to use hardware that’s slightly better equipped to handle Windows 10 IoT Core such as the Raspberry Pi 2b & 3b… but the difference is mute at small scale, and masked at large scale by not having to have a separate team with different skills. 

IoT apps on the Windows 10 IoT Core platform ARE Windows 10 apps.


The point I always try to drive home is IoT apps on the Windows 10 IoT Core platform ARE Windows 10 apps.  The very same exe you compile for your embedded device runs just as well on laptop, desktop, server, Windows 10 phone, et al.

I do regret the couple snags I had during my demos.  Still, someone approached me after the presentation with the idea that I should pre-record portions of my presentation in order to avoid these kinds of things.  I like to run live for several real reasons.  1)  I’m a coder, not a professional presenter… I don’t often have time to polish my presentations to that level.  2)  Glossing over rough edges hides what development is.  Development is tough.  You have to have backup plans and contingencies.  My Raspberry Pi didn’t want to connect to the guest WiFi, so I fell back to plan B, and moved on.  It’s a real world scenario;  you hit a snag, but keep pressing on.

IoT is already about the last mile of the Sci-fi story, bringing Internet omnipotence to the fringes of reality, enabling the “Computer” of Star Trek (or the Cortana of the modern desktop) to reach it’s potential (hopefully without becoming Skynet).

It’s the stuff of science fiction… but it’s not fiction.

Visual Studio 2017’s ability to debug into a remote embedded device and make hot changes to a running executable is beyond top notch; it’s the stuff of science fiction… but it’s not fiction.

If you look through my post history, you’ll see how this presentation has evolved over the past decade.  It’s been an interesting evolution…  starting with connecting Windows Phone 7 to SharePoint.  Then Windows Phone 8 and SharePoint online (and the story got really muddy for a bit there).  Then CSOM hit and smoothed out the SharePoint side of things.  I changed the story to Field Enablement using Xamarin for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone with SharePoint as a back end for a bit. (It’s a surprisingly compelling story, even if it’s only academic).  Eventually I started focusing on UWP for Windows 10, and my love of small form factor development drew me back to Raspberry Pi. 
Finally, I’ved bridged off of SharePoint and started talking about Azure IoT Hub, which is the modern accepted best practice in the domain of this development stack.  This change happened so relatively quickly that if you notice, the synopsis for the session didn’t mention it.  (  https://www.bostoncodecamp.com/CC28/sessions/details/16540 )

One can explore the code I developed for the demo at git hub, here:
That leads me to my final bit:  I am sorry I ran out of time in my presentation.  I was so psyched to show how to send telemetry back to Azure IoT Hub, and while I got to step through the code that sends updated reports, I did not get to explore any of what that looks like in the Azure IoT Hub portal, and didn’t get to explore the event-driven API on the embedded side that allows you to send code with Device Twin down to a the device.
Here’s the event that commits the post:

        private async void iotHubButton_Click(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)

{

try

{

using (var client = DeviceClient.CreateFromConnectionString(

$"HostName=BOSCC-IOTHub.azure-devices.net;DeviceId=GraniteStHacker;SharedAccessKey={Credentials.LuisAccessKeyFromAzurePortal}",

TransportType.Mqtt))

{

var twinProperties = new TwinCollection();

twinProperties["MeasuredTemperature"] = manager.MeasuredTemperature;

twinProperties["HeaterPowerOn"] = manager.HeaterPowerOn;

twinProperties["ACPowerOn"] = manager.ACPowerOn;

twinProperties["Device_BOSCC"] = DateTime.Now.ToString();

await client.UpdateReportedPropertiesAsync(twinProperties);

Console.WriteLine("Done");

}

}

catch(Exception ex)

{

Console.WriteLine(ex);

}

}

}


Click the image below to see the device I was using for the demo in Azure IoT Hub’s Device Twin view.

Here’s the resulting Device Twin JSON:
{
  “deviceId”: “GraniteStHacker”,
  “etag”: “AAAAAAAAAAE=”,
  “version”: 8,
  “status”: “enabled”,
  “statusUpdateTime”: “0001-01-01T00:00:00”,
  “connectionState”: “Disconnected”,
  “lastActivityTime”: “0001-01-01T00:00:00”,
  “cloudToDeviceMessageCount”: 0,
  “authenticationType”: “sas”,
  “x509Thumbprint”: {
    “primaryThumbprint”: null,
    “secondaryThumbprint”: null
  },
  “properties”: {
    “desired”: {
      “$metadata”: {
        “$lastUpdated”: “2017-11-14T01:48:45.8322179Z”
      },
      “$version”: 1
    },
    “reported”: {
      “MeasuredTemperature”: 74,
      “HeaterPowerOn”: true,
      “ACPowerOn”: false,
      “Device_BOSCC”: “11/18/2017 8:34:08 AM”,
      “$metadata”: {
        “$lastUpdated”: “2017-11-18T16:34:20.1258514Z”,
        “MeasuredTemperature”: {
          “$lastUpdated”: “2017-11-18T16:34:20.1258514Z”
        },
        “HeaterPowerOn”: {
          “$lastUpdated”: “2017-11-18T16:34:20.1258514Z”
        },
        “ACPowerOn”: {
          “$lastUpdated”: “2017-11-18T16:34:20.1258514Z”
        },
        “Device_BOSCC”: {
          “$lastUpdated”: “2017-11-18T16:34:20.1258514Z”
        }
      },
      “$version”: 7
    }
  }
}

Tech in the 603, The Granite State Hacker

Microsoft Build 2017 Recap

[Edit:  I wrote this originally back in May, 2017, but realized I never published it.  Anyway, very belated, here’s a rundown on Build 2017 with some light analysis at the end.]

You know an event is “Epic” when, at its conclusion, leaves you feeling like the climax was forever in the making and then suddenly complete…  done…  over.   Even post-event celebrations feel like the long drawn out ending from the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Build 2017 is an interesting twist on that for me.   I spent most of the beginning of 2017 looking forward to it.  Then it finally came, and the world was in its midst. 

The twist is that Build, for me, is not the end, but a refreshed beginning.  It’s the kickoff of new ideas, new development stories, and new opportunities, rather than an end.   Build came and went, and left me feeling like I’m alive at the best time in the history of the world to be a developer, and especially a full Microsoft stack developer.

I’ve already presented my recap a couple of times.   Here’s the slides.

The slides are not as well organized however, so I’ll run through a recap with a bit more organization.

Platform:   Azure

  • Azure IoT Edge
I liken Asure IoT Edge to the autonomic reflexive system of the cloud.
  • Cloud Shell Management
  • Azure Management Mobile App for iOS & Android
  • Appsource
  • Azure Stack

Platform:  3rd Party

  • Visual Studio for Mac

Platform:  Mixed Reality

  • AI-enabled Workplace monitoring
  • New motion controllers
  • Acer & HP MR Dev kits available

Platform:  Windows 10 client

  • Fall Creators Update
  • Remix
  • Fluent Design System
  • Project Rome & Graph
  • Legacy App Bridging
  • Continuous Delivery
  • Windows Identity & FIDO
  • Ubuntu Linux updated
  • SUSE & Fedora Linux added

Platform:   .NET

  • .NET Standard 2.0 & XAML Standard 1.0
  • Embeddinator-4000
  • Live Player for iOS & Android

Technology: Cognitive

  • Twice as many services available under Azure Cognitive Services banner

Technology:  Database

  • PostgreSQL as a service
  • MySQL as a service
  • Cosmos DB

Technology:  BOT FX

  • Adaptive Cards
Technology:  Cortana 
  • Hardware units from Harmon Kardon, HP, Intel

Concluding Observations

Microsoft has fully given up on Windows 10 Mobile as an OS, and redefined “Mobile” to mean that the computing experience roams across all devices.  This is now what they mean when they say “Mobile First / Cloud First”. This roaming experience even cuts into iOS, OS X, and Android.  The big celebration of Build 2017 is “Microsoft is no longer a monopoly” which means that they are on top of “innovation hill” again.  Expect amazing things from Microsoft, and expect them to be on their game once things like Augmented Reality to really dig in on the consumer market.

Tech in the 603, The Granite State Hacker

Mobile First, Cloud First as Redefined in Build 2016

There were a number of very cool announcements made at Microsoft Build’s 2016 kickoff today, Wednesday, March 30th.  On first brush, one might not notice the common theme across the announcements, however.

These things may seem disconnected, but if you look again, they’re not… nor are the other less obviously connected major announcements such as:

Microsoft has been promising Mobile First, Cloud First for a long time. Until today, there’s been a consensus that Mobile First meant Tablet and Phone…  as in those hardware form factors get updates and features before classic alternatives.  Today Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, addressed the developer crowd and clarified (or perhaps more accurately “redefined”) what “Mobile First” really means.

Mobile First, Cloud First has morphed to mean something more like “Portable First, Cloud First”, with portable referring directly to the Universal Windows Platform…  write your code once, and the user can take it to any device (desktop, laptop, phone, IoT) and use it as naturally as possible with the whatever human interface device is available (keyboard, mouse, touch, ink, voice, text, etc)…

And there is, indeed, how all the announcements fit together. 

All of the announcements made today talk about how Microsoft is diversifying the human interface, yet keeping the context of all your work and play available across all devices.  Your apps are there, and they work just as naturally with voice commands as they do with ink. 

Note that keyboard and mouse are relatively unnatural compromises in human interface paradigm, and their use will be diminished in the future. 

If pen and paper is the natural choice, Ink will replace it. 

If voice makes sense, it will be available.

If an intelligent actor might assist you, Cortana and your trusted “Network of Experts” (Apps and BotFX bots) are there. If a virtual or augmented reality makes sense, your apps will join you on Hololens. 

If an Xbox controller is the right choice, no problem. 

All of these things can be enhanced significantly with DirectX 12, even for non-games.

And the Cloud will interlink them naturally so that you can flip from tablet to Hololens without skipping a beat. (in some ways, live process migration is really becoming a reality;  when the apps are the same across every deployed device, the only thing that needs to transfer from device to device is user data, and that’s happening via cloud.)

One segment that didn’t see much love today:  the Web.  Or did it?  Bash for Windows 10 is a bit of a stretch to connect to the coming shift, but really, it is meant to make it easier for developers to deliver web-based, cloud-hosted solutions using Visual Studio to non-Windows hosts.  Indirectly this will aid in the creation of services that might support Bots made with the BotFX, for example.  All of this is based predominantly on JSON over REST / HTTP.

Some would point out that Windows 10 Mobile (formerly Windows Phone) didn’t get any stage time, either, but the reality is that Microsoft no longer sees the smartphone edition of Windows to be a separate thing.   Windows 10 is converging on “The Best Windows Ever”, Windows 10… smartphone or not.