I recently read a “Coding Question” thread, and a developer was asking what we all thought about this article. I wanted to hold on to my replies, so I’m posting it here for posterity 🙂


Only a Sith deals in absolutes. There are use cases for everything, with exceptions.


Seriously, though, I’d write tests to ensure the states that you want work as expected.


And now that I’ve had my coffee:

Exceptions are a necessary construct. If something doesn’t go as planned, we need a way to handle it. In his article, he’s against blindly swallowing exceptions. That’s generally sound advice. Ask yourself: “Is this an expected exception? If so, do I have a specific exception handler for it, or am I just using the generic catch-all? Have other exceptions occurred? If so, is this one expected? Didn’t I read about C# support for exception switch statements? Did I just shiver?”

Like I was explaining before, only a Sith deals in absolutes. The way I see it, if an error is unexpected, I should have specific use cases for how to handle that exception. I should, generally, never blindly swallow with no logging, or simply re-throw and assume the code above will address. At least, not without a custom/known/non-generic exception I can check up the chain, or include in an integration test. Good article about testing [written by a friend] here, btw: https://arktronic.com/weblog/2015-11-01/automated-software-testing-part-1-reasoning/
At the very least, and I try to follow this rule as much as possible, LOG in any exception for tracking and pro-active/offensive development. Better that you can read logs, or run scripts to let you know about exceptions, and help things go right, than to be blind with a “well, the code seems to work, so let it be” approach. That’s the key goal, really: Help things go right. There are exceptions [heh] to this rule, like simple utility apps whose job is to bulk process data, and exceptions are part of the game. Still, I try to make sure to log, even with those. Unexpected/unintended bugs tend to appear when you’re dealing with massive amounts of data, and logs give a perspective you can’t see from debugging.
Ok, next cup of coffee.

As part of my .NET 301 Advanced class at the fantastic Eleven Fifty Academy, I teach Xamarin development. It’s sometimes tough, as every student has a different machine. Some have PCs, others have Macs running Parallels or Bootcamp. Some – many – have Intel processors, while others have AMD. I try to recommend students come to the class with Intel processors, due to the accelerated Android emulator benefit Intel’s HAXM – Hardware Acceleration Manager – provides. This blog entry is a running list of how I’ve solved getting the emulator running on so many machines. I hope the list helps you, too.

This list will be updated from time to time, as I find new bypasses. At this time, the list is targeted primarily for machines with an Intel processor. Those with AMD and Windows are likely stuck with the ARM emulators. Umm, sorry. I welcome solutions, there, too, please!

Last updated: December 4, 2017

Make sure you’re building from a path that’s ultimate length is less than 248 characters.

That odd Windows problem of long file paths bites us again here. Many new developers tend to build under c:\users\username\documents\Visual Studio 2017\projectname. Add to that the name of the project, and all its subfolders, and the eventual DLLs and executable are out of reach of various processes.

I suggest in this case you have a folder such as c:\dev\ and build your projects under there. That’s solved many launch and compile issues.

Use the x86 emulators.

If you have an Intel processor, then use the x86 and x64 based emulators instead of ARM. They’re considerably faster, as long as you have a) an Intel processor with virtualization abilities, which I believe all or most modern Intel processors do, and b) Intel’s HAXM installed.

Make sure VTI-X / Hardware Virtualization is enabled.

Intel’s HAXM – which you can download here – won’t run if the processor’s virtualization is disabled. You need to tackle this in the BIOS. That varies per machine. Many devices seem to chip with the feature disabled. Enabling it will enable HAXM to work.

Uninstall the Mobile Development with .NET Workload using the Visual Studio Installer, and reinstall.

Yes, I’m suggesting Uninstall + Reinstall. This has worked well in the class. Go to Start, then Visual Studio Installer, and uncheck the box. Restart afterwards. Then reinstall, and restart.

Mobile Development Workload Screenshot

Use the Xamarin Android SDK Manager.

The Xamarin team has built a much better Android SDK Manager than Google’s. It’s easy to install HAXM, update Build Tools and Platforms, and so forth. Use it instead and dealing with tool version conflicts may be a thing of the past.

Make sure you’re using the latest version of Visual Studio.

Bugs are fixed all the time, especially with Xamarin. Make sure you’re running the latest bits and your problems may be solved.

Experiment with Hyper-V Enabled and Disabled.

I’ve generally had issues with virtualization when Hyper-V is enabled. If you’re having trouble with it enabled, try with it disabled.

To enable/disable Hyper-V, go to Start, then type Windows Features. Choose Turn Windows Features On or Off. When the selection list comes up, toggle the Hyper-V feature accordingly.

Note: You may need to disable Windows Device Guard before you can disable Hyper-V. Thanks to Matt Soucoup for this tip.

Use a real device.

As a mobile developer, you should never trust the emulators to reflect the real thing. If you can’t get the emulators to work, and even if you can, you have the option of picking up an Android phone or tablet for cheap. Get one and test with it. If you’re not clear on how to set up Developer Mode on Android devices, it’s pretty simple. Check out Google’s article on the subject.

Try Xamarin’s HAXM and emulator troubleshooting guide.

The Xamarin folks have a guide, too.

If all else fails, use the ARM processors.

This is your last resort. If you don’t have an Intel processor, or a real device available, use the ARM processors. They’re insanely slow. I’ve heard there’s an x86 emulator from AMD, yet it’s supposedly only available for Linux. Not sure why that decision was made, but moving on… 🙂

Have another solution?

Have a suggestion, solution, or feature I’ve left out? Let me know and I’ll update!


CEATEC, the Combined Electronics and Technology exhibition in Makuhari, Japan is this week. The latest innovations from Japanese companies are showcased here, often many months before Americans get a taste. I’ll be posting a reporter’s notebook in a bit. For now, enjoy clicking through videos and photos of cool things found on the show floor!

Panasonic’s Cocotto Children’s Companion Robot

Bowing Vision Violin Improvement Sensors & App

Hitachi Robot for the Elderly, and those with Dimentia

Omron “Ping Pong” Robot, Now with “Smash” Shot Abilities

au’s AR Climbing Wall

Unisys’ Manufacturing Robot That Follows Lines

VR Racer

Takara Tomy Programmable Robot

Dry Ice Locomotion

Airline Customer Service Bot Attendant

Feel the Biker’s Heartbeat

Wind Sensors Paired with Fun Animations

The Trouble with Tribbles – Qoobo Robot

Spider-Like Robot from Bandai

Semi-Transparent Display with Water Effect

Bandai BN Bot

Model Train

Kunshan Plasma

The Many Faces of Robots at CEATEC

There were MANY robots at CEATEC. Many just sit there and answer basic questions. Still, some, like Omron’s Ping Pong robot, can learn and adapt and make a difference.


My latest Visual Studio extension is now available! Get it here: 2017, 2015

So what is CodeLink?

Getting two developers on the same page over chat can be time consuming. I work remote, so I can’t just walk to someone’s desk. I often find myself saying “go to this file” and “ok, now find function <name>”. Then I wait. Most of the time it’s only 10-20 seconds lost. If it’s a common filename or function, it takes longer. Even then, mistakes can be made.

So I asked myself: Self, wouldn’t it be great if I could send them a link to the place / cursor location in the solution I’m at? Just like a web link?

CodeLink was born.

So here’s what a CodeLink looks like:


I would simply share that CodeLink with a fellow developer. They’d select “Open CodeLink…” in VisualStudio, paste it in, and be brought to that line of code in that project. No more walking them through it, much less waiting.

Technically, the format is:

codelink://[Platform]/[Project Unique Path]/[File Unique Path]/[LineNumber]

What’s it good for?

Other than what I’ve suggested, and what you come up with, I’m thinking CodeLink will help you, teams, teachers, and students with:

  • Include CodeLinks in bugs, code reviews to highlight what needs to be reviewed
  • Share CodeLinks on Git repos, pointing to specific code examples, points of interest, and so forth
  • Share CodeLinks with students so they can continue referring / reviewing useful code

So what’s next?

When I was thinking of the link format, I figured I may end up extending this to VS Code and other editors in the future. After all, not everyone uses VS. Why not XCode, Visual Studio Mac, Atom? So, I added a type identifier.

As always, I look forward to your feedback. Hit me up on Twitter or LinkedIn.


I recently deployed an Azure Cloud Service with Remote Desktop enabled. However, when I went to connect to it on port 3389, the server refused the connection. I remember there was something I had to do, but I had never written down the steps. So, here’s what you need to do, in case you’re looking 🙂

Note: I use Remote Desktop Connection Manager, a.k.a. RDCMan, also from Microsoft, instead of the standard RDC client. I feel it’s much better, more configurable, and great if you need to work with many remote desktops. I’ve love to know why they don’t include it in Windows!

Step 1: Find your Cloud Service and Slot in Azure Portal

In Azure, find your Cloud Service. Also select the slot to which you want to connect, such as Production or Staging.

Step 2: Select the Roles and Instances option

You’ll see it on the left.

Step 3: Choose the item to which you want to connect and click Connect

For example, your web role instance. This will download an .RDP file. You can double-click this file to connect. Ooh! Neat!

Step 4: If you’re using RDCMan…

To connect with RDCMan, you’ll need to grab the Cookie: something something something string out of the RDP file. Open it in Notepad++, or your text editor of choice, and grab that value. Ignore the s: text.

In RDCMan, for the VM, add the string under Connection Settings tab in the Load balance config textbox.

Step 5: You’re Connected!




Have you been wondering how to access the Azure Multi-Factor Authentication Settings in the Azure Classic Portal without first having to create an Azure account? I figured this out a few days ago, having an Office 365 tenant, and wanting to use the EMS and Azure Active Directory Premium features. Following Microsoft’s instructions, it said to go to the Azure Classic Portal. The problem is, Office 365 doesn’t include an Azure subscription, it just includes Azure Active Directory, which you manage through the “modern” Azure portal. Unfortunately, the Trusted IPs and MFA capabilities are managed through the Azure Classic Portal, which you can’t directly access without an Azure subscription.

So, here’s what you do:

  1. Go to portal.office.com
  2. Click Admin to open the admin tools
  3. In the search box, type MFA
  4. Select the Multi-factor authentication search result
  5. Click the link to open the Manage multi-factor authentication link
  6. There you go – manage MFA in your Azure AD to your heart’s content!


Type the following command from an admin command prompt:

reg add HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\SynTP\Parameters\Debug /v DumpKernel /d 00000000 /t REG_DWORD /f

I’ve been having this problem with Visual Studio. Alt-Shift-L is a common shortcut for finding the location of a file in your solution. However, on a Lenovo laptop, pressing that key combo also stores debug log info for the touchpad driver. Pretty annoying, totally useless, and no UI element to turn it off.

Found this helpful article:

A note: Don’t call Lenovo support. My gosh, they transferred me 3 times, each time to the wrong department. Thank heavens for the Internet.

From their forums: https://forums.lenovo.com/t5/ThinkPad-X-Series-Laptops/How-to-disable-touchpad-diagnostics-hotkey-alt-shift-l/td-p/2176730