Day 6–Wandering the streets and Tech Excellence Finland


After forcing myself to sleep at midnight I was awake at 4am. Eventually we gave in and had first breakfast cleaning off the food we’d bought during the week. Handwashed our remaining dirty clothes in the hope they dry before we leave tomorrow and we have as many clean clothes as possible for Iceland.


It’s overcast and gloomy today. We spent the morning wandering the streets.


If you’’re into architecture I think this would be the place for you. I just noticed a few cool looking old buildings and have no idea on the types/periods etc. as I’m just not cultured.


We’ve taken the long route to a coffee place John has spotted down by the water.


Then we wander back past the Uspenski Cathedral.


Better get the full set while were out so we head to Helsinki Cathedral on our way back to the hotel.


Back to the hotel to find some lunch! John spots a pizza place not far away that serves Rudolf. Bit of an odd place where you overlook the people in the supermarket below you. The pizzas are big and in 1 piece. Fearing being there all day, wearing the pizza or all of the above I get John to cut it up for me. Little bit too much food for me though.

Back to the hotel to put my feet up before heading off to our meetup.


We walk down this really cool path which looks like an old railway – just bikes and pedestrians and it goes under the roads so no pesky intersections.


We make a slight routing error and end up cutting through a construction site before making over the bridge to F-Secure which is a very cool looking building.


Then it’s into work – and deliver my session on Cognitive Services. Had some good audience participation with some native Finnish speakers giving the sentiment analysis a go in their native language. Thanks Maaret for hosting us. If I’m still awake later will try and get some night shots as we leave Helsinki tomorrow.

Day 5–Helsinki


After waking up early, realising the internet was out and eventually going back to sleep we had a lazy morning of eating through the rest of our non-transportable food and generally packing before heading off to Helsinki. Great run with no dramas and with the petrol station leading into our drop-off we bid farewell to the POS Skoda “Rapid”…. another car to add to the I will never buy list.

Found our way to the Finnair City Bus which takes about 30 mins to get to town, was only 6.40 and stopped literally at the door of our Holiday Inn hotel which is also right next to the railway, and across the road from a big supermarket.


Our room was ready so we dumped our bags and headed towards the sign that said steaks and burgers. Little did I realize till later it was an Australian themed bar/restaurtant…oh well the food was good and the Ginger Beers a little big for me.


Then a bit of a wander around to walk off that giant drink and to get our bearings.


Lots of people out on bikes and small dogs – must be summer. Then a quick trip to the supermarket to get a few snacks/drinks and a nanna nap. On check-in they asked if we wanted to join their free club…I was temped to say no…except you get upgrade to faster free wi-fi – they really should open with that line!

So now with decent internet I can prep the last of the screenshots etc I need for tomorrow night – much less stressed now.

Day 4–Spin around the Archipelago


After another bad night of sleep with a throbbing arm I was wide awake for 3:30am. Switching sides had made it a lot better meaning my good side got bumped in the night. Good time to do the previous day’s post. I’ve given up on finishing my deck till I get to Helsinki tomorrow where we should have better internet.

The sun is out and the temperature down to 8.5. You’d never tell in our little cabin which seems to have 30cm thick walls. I’d picked Turku as a place to do some outside activities : sea kayaking and cycling. I’d planned on doing a few rides around the extensive bike network. Having broken my arm and still not having much range all that was out the window. So today we’ll do a spin …. in the car … and when I say we, I mean John with me barking directions.


The archipelago is littered with little islands and lakes…so I was expecting to see lots of water.


We soon discovered that all the roads are the furthest from the ocean and the water is little private roads to what I’d call lake houses. So I imagine people owning a holiday home by the water and walking their dogs. My handy little $40 Windows Phone which as been a cheap GPS has been crashing on me at the worst times i.e. just before critical turn offs. Luckily we’re in no rush.


We did finally find 2 spots where we could see and pull over to see the water. The first a glimpse at the side of the road of a little boat on the water.


The 2nd we went through a bit of a pine forest to get a bit of a water view. The islands are covered in the most perfect Xmas trees.

We did spot a strawberry stand and “had” to buy a kilo of fresh strawberries. We had great intentions to make use of the sauna in the afternoon and cook dinner but I made the mistake of laying down for a nanna nap at 3pm and didn’t wake up again until 3am…opps.

I’ve been really bad with adjusting to the timezone change this time. I’ve been snoozing during the day instead of forcing myself to be outside. I think the lack of good sleep for the last 8 weeks is really making it harder. I’m not too worried as I want to be awake for sunrise/set for the first few days we hit Icelenad later in the week so it might work out well.

Day 3–Rainy Day In Turku


As we settled into our cabin it started to rain. It rained most of the night and the early hours of the morning. After a full day of being out of my arm brace and battling for bed space in the not king size bed my arm was sore so I was promptly awake at 3am. I thought it’d be a good time to write yesterday’s blog post and polish my presentation for Tech Excellence Finland.


It ended up taking about 2 hours to do the blog post because of the myriad of issues I faced getting the pictures and uploading due to the really poor internet. John’s phone didn’t want to stay connected to my laptop and getting 3 small pics from him took forever. I finally cracked open the Sky Roam but it was just as slow. Then I spent the morning ironically trying to get enough internet to grab screen shots for my presentation in case I have bad internet on the day. I had been so busy with physio etc with my arm, organising and packing coming up to the trip I hadn’t had a chance to get the final bits I needed…lesson learnt there.


After a nanna nap  /  sulk that I wasn’t getting very far, John dragged me out of the house and we wandered into town to find lunch. The triathlon was on again today and this one looked very serious with bicycles leading out the top 3 in the Pro Men’s and Women’s category. There really wasn’t much open for lunch on a Sunday so we settled for some traditional Finnish Mexican Winking smile 


On our walk back we came across Candy Land. Above is only 1 side of the store. It is probably the biggest lolly shop I’ve seen so of course I had to get 2 of everything. This actually took awhile with the giant scoop and it’s going to be a challenge to keep the pairs together. I have no idea what half of them are as they’re in Finnish.


It started to pour down on the final leg home and this time I packed our shell jackets. We tried out the sauna that’s attached to our bathroom. It’s a timber-fired sauna. As John fed the wood and I feed the humidity we watched the temperature gauge rise…30, 35,40, 45, 50, 55, 60. My final bit of water at 60 sent me from hmmmm…it’s warm and I’m starting to sweat to OMG my lungs are burning, I can’t breathe and I feel dizzy so that was me tapping out. John endured a bit more humidity till about 65 before calling it a day. Mental note – don’t sit in the hottest corner.

Day 2–Cruisy Drive to Turku


After crashing hard, unsurprisingly I woke up crazy early. Luckily I packed a bag of lollies we quickly devoured at 2am. We have heaps of time to kill before we head to Turku so lots of light napping till about 8 when we venture out to the big shopping centre on the other side of the highway to get some breakfast / dinner.


After wandering around, Hesburger is open and the guy recommends getting the Mega Burger if we’re starving. It really was mega – can barely get it into my mouth it is so big and I struggle to eat it one-handed buy manage to not wear it. Now that my rumbling stomach is satisfied we head to the supermarket. Kinda odd but I like just looking through overseas supermarkets.


Here we see the best supermarket trolley ever! It made me want to be a little kid again…a trolley that is a toy car the kids “drive” while you shop.

This supermarket is like a Big W and Woolies in one and they have a decent Lego section. I did really well to not buy Lego – maybe on our way back to Helsinki Winking smile

Wise choice to eat first as there’s lots of yummy food here and we do well to not buy the whole supermarket as we have to walk this stuff back to our hotel.

We pack up and catch the convenient shuttle back to the airport and find the rental cars. The lady on the desk is quite amused we’re using John’s credit card but I tell him which one to use. We get the crucial directions from her – which way to turn when we first exit the airport and off we go to grab our little red Skoda.


Our AirBnB host recommended stopping at Kasvihouneilmio on the way to Turku at the halfway point and described it as “an experience”. It’s just off the highway and looks like a giant shed. When you walk inside, not knowing what to expect, you think … what is this place. I don’t know how to fully describe it but “different”. It’s like a museum, 2nd hand shop on steroids but you can buy everything. It has craft books, golden books, swords, armor, chandeliers etc. I’m not a shopper but it was by far the coolest shop I’ve ever been to. Luckily for our bank account it’s in Finland or I could have easily bought half the shop.  We settled on an eagle door knocker and some card boxes.

Then last bit of our journey to Turku. John as done well with driving on the wrong side of the road with a manual car. It looks odd watching him shift gears with his right arm.


We arrive at our little guest house for the next few days, meet our host who gives us lots of little tips and decide to stretch our legs. We wander down to the river, jump on the free ferry and walk around.


We’ve arrived at the end of a triathalon so there’s a big range of bikes around. Starts to look grey so we head back via the smaller supermarket to grab some cold goods and food for dinner and make it back as it’s starting to rain.

The internet where we are in Turku is atrocious….which is saying something cause we have really bad internet at home. Next posts maybe a few days away

Day 1– To Helsinki


Our journey began with a delayed flight. Many thanks to Cathay Pacific for the sms around 6pm to tell us our flight was delayed till 2am so we could alter our pickup and spend a little less time at the airport. Unsurprisingly it is fairly quiet at that time so getting through security was pretty quick.  My tiny zippers in my pants set of the body scanner and good to know that my titanium arm doesn’t show up.  Then just a lot of waiting and micronapping.

I booked us a bulkhead which worked out pretty good – extra legroom without the annoying people that gather at normal exit rows. Got a bit addicted to the live plane camera on our take/off and landing. After leaving 1.5 hours late they made up a bit of time and didn’t land that late into Hong Kong. Enough to grab something to eat and stretch our legs.


I’d booked us an exit row for the 2nd leg on  Finnair. We’d also bid on a business class upgrade and got denied. Exit row was going to be better than nothing until my ticket beeped boarding. Our wishes were granted – we’d been upgraded. It really makes such a difference! Discovered I can’t put on the nice bose headphones so needed help getting those on and after that it was time to relax and get a bit of sleep.


The crew were great – kept us fed and let me sleep. Having done lots of trips to the americas and africa it was odd to get up mid flight and be flying over land rather than ocean.


Little flight map showed the dog-legged route we took.


Finally touchdown into Helsinki. Our passports didn’t work on the machines so we had to queue to go through customs. It’s odd not having to fill out arrival documents full of trick questions. Our bags timed themselves nicely to arrive as we hit the carousel and then we ventured outside to find the hotel bus, made it to the hotel and collapsed.

Adelaide .Net–Reality Check–HoloLens wrap up


Last night I showed of HoloLens to the Adelaide .Net User Group.


We had a decent number of people hear about VR/AR and MR but I think they were all keen to check out the device.


After going through the basics with everyone to explain gaze and gestures like Airtap and Bloom it was time to hand it over.


My first volunteer got it really quickly and after turning my back for a few seconds was happily navigating around the holograms.


He also took to Dippy and after one voice command had already guessed what the next few were. Like most people he created a huge collection of diprotodons.


Next volunteer had a go at air tap and voice commands after we showed how to use it with the emulator.


But as you can see by the massive grin, even the simplest of apps that we can build makes people happy.


My last demo was of Robo Raid – and boy did this volunteer have fun.

Thanks David for the pics and the invitation. Love seeing people enjoying this tech.

Reality Check : HoloLens with Aberfoyle Park High


Today was an early-ish start as I’m off to Adelaide. While I’m here I’m meeting a few different places/people and first on my list is Aberfoyle Park High School.

Thanks to David Gardiner, I was welcomed to present to the Grade 8 advanced math classes. I wasn’t sure what would excite them but I thought if anything would, HoloLens would.

It’s the first presentation I’ve done where I had questions before I even opened my mouth!

I started with the “boring stuff” – how I got into IT, what sorts of things I work on etc. and included a few pics or the technology I grew up with for some context.


Out of all the pictures I showed Donkey Kong got the biggest reaction as it seems a lot of  Dad’s had one of these…which is not surprising since their dad is probably a similar age to me.

With the boring stuff over, it was time to bring out something more fun. The vibe in the room immediately changed from disinterest/distracted to electric!


David’s daughter had a play with the HoloLens before the session and kindly allowed me to take a pic…

I had no shortage of volunteers to show off how the device works. The students played with Dippy endlessly putting in on people’s laps, changing from female, to male to babies.

There were endless ooohhs, ahhhs and of course “Can I have the next turn?”

In amongst all of that there were good questions. Including what Dippy was for. Again I was surprised that some of the students knew what a Diprotodon was.

I was also really impressed (but not surprised) at how quickly the students “got” the airtap and gaze. Most of them preferred the “C” method and quickly adapted to turning their waist rather than their head when they had their hand in front.

Thanks to the teachers who allowed me to take over their class for the afternoon and then would have had to get them to concentrate afterwards.

Ignite Australia 2017 Wrap-up


Last week I had the pleasure to present at Ignite Australia. I’ve missed the last few as it’s coincided with overseas trips so moving to February worked out well.

I presented Lessons from Hollywood: Building the interactions of tomorrow today. It was a big different to the techy talks I normally do as it was a bit more conceptual and covered a lot of things in a broader way.

Overall I was happy with it and I got to show Dippy to one lucky audience member. It was really nice a few people found me on the Thursday and asked if they could meet Dippy and lucky for them I  just so happened to have my HoloLens with me.

I had some fun with the projector half way through an could no longer see anything on my laptop screen even after trying duplicate, extend etc so just had to suck it up and demo from the projector.

Had a bit of a demo glitch but people didn’t seem to mind too much.

I showed a bunch of technologies and hopefully gave people some ideas.

Things we covered:

Surface Dial and the new Radial Controller Class

Kinect For Windows

Power BI


Cognitive Services

You can check out the presentation here. Unfortunately you miss out on seeing all the awesome audience participation I had as it’s just the laptop and microphone feed.

Creating a Diprotodon for HoloLens–Dippy is Born


I recently presented at Ignite Australia on Lessons from Hollywood: Building the interactions of tomorrow today . For that talk and for fun I wanted to create something from scratch rather than use assets someone else made. Now I have 0 graphical ability but fortunately my brother Adrian did get those genes instead.

My brief was I wanted a model I could use in HoloLens. Something a bit different to the cat, dog, ballerina etc that you see all the time. Would also be nice to have an Australian theme to it incase I want to show this overseas there’s an extra element of Aussie about it Smile

He suggested a Diprotodon (essentially a giant prehistoric wombat) which is the largest known marsupial ever to have lived.

dippy model

Stage 1 – The Model.

First he built the model and exported it with a decent poly count as an fbx. I import that to my unity project, pick a point in space to place it and ta-da diprotodon model. At this point I thought he looked pretty good and it was time to name him (the hardest thing in software development) so what’s more Aussie than shortening his title – so we went with Dippy

dippy textture

Stage 2 – Textured Model.

He looked pretty good and I sent through some pics I took from the HoloLens so  then Adrian went away and created a textured version – you can see fur and nose texture here but no colour etc.


Stage 3 – Adding some colour

Next we wanted to make him look like a wombat so Adrian created the “maps”. 4 files that I had no idea what to do with (cause I’m a dev not a designer).

I went through a few different shaders and with some chat help we decided the most appropriate was the Standard (Specular)

and then matched them up to the maps he’d given me


I had to cheat and look up what some of these meant to help with the guess work but here’s my non-designer summary:

Albedo – base colour or diffuse map. Defines the colour of diffused light. This one I matched up to the dip_diffuse or as I like to call it the coloured fur map.


Specular – for shininess and highlight colour. I used his naming to initially match this one to dip_specular.


Occlusion – greyscale or as i call it the black and white dippy which matched to dip_ao.


Normal – allows you add some detail like bumps, scratches etc. This matched up to dip_normal


My final shader looked like this.


He looked pretty cool at this point but there was  a bit of a shimmer. We tried a few things like dropping poly count but then i noticed it on most holograms – even the simple cat in the Holograms app. So I left it for a bit.

dippy scanline

Stage 4 – Scanlines

For my demo, I wanted to show 2 different ways of using the same model but with different “definition”. In this case I wanted the same polycount but different maps – 1 with detailed fur and another will something simpler so you knew it was a diprotodon but didn’t need the detailed colour.


This time I used the  HoloToolkit Standard Fast Shader and dropped the dip_scan_line map onto albedo, emission and detail.

dippy before

Stage 5 – Fixing the shimmer

Presentation done but the shimmer was still bugging me. Took me a bunch of goes to capture it but you can see it on a few of the pics above but I think this one highlights it best. The Dippy on the left to me really stands out with the edges.

So I took advantage of the Unity guys being at Ignite and showed them. I really wanted to know if it’s something we should have done at the model level, the Unity level or even a code level. John suggested the Anti-Aliasing settings for the project.

Normally all the doco points to picking “Fastest” / “worst” and nothing else and anti aliasing is set to Disabled by default.


We made the simple change to set Anti Aliasing to 4x Multi Sampling. Re-deployed that and wow what a difference that made

dippy after

That shimmer is gone!

Using the C for Airtap in HoloLens


When I first used HoloLens almost two years ago I was taught the air tap. I looked a lot like the picture above. It worked for me and I was content.

A few months ago, I got my own device and started sharing how cool the device was. So then I had to teach people how to air tap.

Airtap open

Finger straight up in the air, then bend and the main joint to the hand.

Airtap close

I soon noticed a lot of people found this hard. No matter how many times i showed or demoed they would have trouble. A lot of them would bend at the wrong joint .


This type of motion doesn’t get picked up. They’d get frustrated and in a lot of cases would move on to a grabbing motion.

So hatting to my fellow MVPs who also love HoloLens I quickly discovered it isn’t just my bad teaching and that a lot of people had seen the same thing. Someone (sorry guys I can’t remember which of you mentioned this first) said try using a C and making them close it like a pinch. I tried this myself a few times and it seemed to be detected just aswell as the traditional air tap.

 C open

So at my Ignite presentation I taught half the room the official way and half the room the other. So 2nd half of the room I got them to make a C, then close

C Close

I thought that was the end of the story. The next day of of the people who went to my talk came to find me. He’d done a HoloLens experience the day before and had spent 20 mins doing air tap. He said the taught way left him with a really sore hand and that he had gone back again today and used the C I taught him the eventing before and had no issues.

So….teach people a few different ways to do a gesture to see what works for them. I’m finding the C is a great alternative so far.

Fixing "Something went wrong" page with error ADDriverStoreAccessNonLocalException


Recently we saw a change to our and it upgraded our accounts. My account went through fine and I see the layout on the right. One of our other accounts however didn’t.  Took awhile to new emails were arriving and sending emails weren’t working. Odd.

Then when you tried all we saw was:

“Something went wrong” page with error ADDriverStoreAccessNonLocalException

Not very useful. After a lot of searching eventually I stumbled upon this article.  Ours is setup as a custom domain so changing anything now as this feature no longer exists is always scary.

The proposed solutions where:

  • rename account – not going to happen as we want this domain.
  • add another alias and make it the primary –This looked like our best bet.

Reading the recommended article it wasn’t clear what would happen and I was super paranoid about losing the data or the email address as i don’t think it’s easy to get back.

In the end after much worry this is what worked:

  • Add a new alias – for this we added a new that didn’t have sign-in ability
  • Once that was there – marked it as the primary alias

STOP HERE! We made sure we didn’t remove the old alias. The we were able to once again login with the old alias/password and can send/receive emails once again.

Using Face API to Enhance My Travel Booking Evaluation

Yesterday I analysed the sentiment of a potential travel booking for a trip.

I looked at the data a bit further. For each of the reviewers there was a bit more information available.


The had the review distribution, the home town, age bracket and gender. This could help me further decide if I want to use their review in my evaluation.


Annoyingly for thiis experiment a lot didn’t have a location, age or gender. Sadly, when i looked at the data on 42 of my 108  (39%)reviewers had published their age and gender. Almost everyone has some sort of profile picture though.

So I decided to try to add to my data by taking everyone who didn’t have a gender and age, grabbing their profile picture and putting through the Face API to get it’s guess at their age and gender.


For example, this profile had no age and gender and the face and running,gender with the correct keys/content it told me the subject was a 42.5 year old female.

Then i did a bit of extra culling by excluding any results that were 15 or younger – as eyeballing a few of the photos indicated some people used a picture of their children (or what looks to be their children).

This gave me extra data for 8 reviewers bringing to a 46% dataset that now have both gender and age.

Now i’ve enhanced my dataset to have additional sentiment and also added some extra information to the reviewers I just need to do something with that data.

Using Sentiment Analysis To Enhance My Travel Booking Evaluation

packed car

Over the Xmas break we spent some time in Falls Creek. We were driving so we could take our bikes, clothes, nutrition etc with us. It was a bit too far for us to do the drive in one hit (event with 2 drivers) so we decided to do it in two hits. The first day of about 1300ks.

This meant we needed accommodation for the first night which presented the following challenges:

  • We’ll be tired after 1300ks of driving
  • Not sure what the traffic will be like so could likely be arriving at night
  • Xmas day – lots of things closed and possibly lots of traffic

So I booked something that was available with a decent rating.

rating distributionrating

Then after the mad rush to gather all the bits we needed to book to do this trip I delved a bit deeper into the hotel I’d chosen.


5 star reviews and responses looked ok


But a few of the 1 star reviews and the responses were slightly alarming. Based on the fact that it was Xmas day, we’d be tired and likely arriving late meaning if anything went wrong we’d be sleeping in the car I promptly cancelled and booked the next cheapest place. But was I wrong to do this?

It got me thinking about how I could have analysed this data better in a more scientific way. I thought the Cognitive Services API could help me with this.

First, the site didn’t provide a feed so made this a bit harder but if you had this data yourself it’d be a lot easier….

I grabbed all the reviews and looked at what the Sentiment Analysis and Key phrase extraction could help me with.


I did a manual test first – Took 5* review and checked the overall sentiment and the types of keywords.


Then i did the same with a 1 star review.

All of the 110  reviews are in English so to analyse all of the records I only needed 2 apis:

Then I created a small console app to call sentiment:


and after verifying that worked, extended to run sentiment on both the review and response to use the key phrases also.

So what did I find?

  • Average review sentiment was 70% (110 results)
  • Average response sentiment was 85% (24 results)

Top 5 key phrases

  • Room
  • Restaurant
  • Wifi
  • Bed
  • Staff

So could have kept the booking? What about the people that gave it a bad review – are they always negative?


So I looked at one of the 1 star reviewers and she’s generally been a decent star reviewer. I went to all of her reviews and ran sentiment analysis on them and found she was 82.6% form 7 reviews.

To me it seems to not be a negative reviewer by nature maybe just had bad luck.

Brisbane .Net–Reality Check Wrap-up


Tonight was the Brisbane .Net User Group where Dave was kind enough to introduce me.


There were so many options for what to show and talk about I had to step back and think that most people will not have even seen a HoloLens in the flesh before so went right back to basics. I’d done this quite a few times but on much smaller groups so that people can see and feel the device.


But how do you get as many people to have a go without having to explain everything to each person…show and tell. So while we taught Chris as the first volunteer we got everyone to practice some of the key gestures., and voice commands.


Next up HoloToolkit – and how to use a bunch of the prefabs and very little code to get a focus aware cursor, tap and voice commands going. I’m still trying to work out the best way to teach the tap gesture. It’s a really interesting one to watch people do and then try other things if they get it wrong the first time.

We also had a bit of play with Vuforia and the demo gods were against me. After it working flawlessly all day on the night it wasn’t having any of it on either their sample or my own app. Oh well.

Here’s a few of the links that people specifically asked about:

Buying the device (in Aus as opposed to US)

Companion App and how to get it to install outside of the US

Presenting on HoloLens – “Reality Check” Brisbane .Net UG 17 Feb

brisbane .net UG

I’m presenting at this month’s Brisbane .Net UG on HoloLens. Details:

Reality Check

Reality – Virtual, Augmented and Mixed. Join Bronwen – Microsoft Emerging Experiences MVP and get your reality in check.

This session will cover the different types of reality experiences and focus on the mixed reality of HoloLens. Bronwen will show you the actual device and how you can start building amazing holographic experiences for this self contained device. Don’t have a device – we’ll cover how you can start today without one.

Where: Microsoft Brisbane

When: 6pm 17th January


getting the Vuforia Sample App to work with HoloLens


Vuforia have put together a sample app so you can have a go in HoloLens.

To get it going quickly I downloaded the vuforia samples eyewear 6.2.6 under the Digital Eyewear section and unzipped.

I imported this package and the latest holotoolkit package (because the setup and build is idiot-proof more than anything else).

I only cared about the actual scene above so selected Vuforia-2-HoloLens to include in the build.

I entered my newly acquired license key.

Then I built, and deployed to the HoloLens.  Then all I got was nothing. After repeating this a few times I realised I’d been silly – I need something for it to recognise.

So then I went hunting for the images that are referenced in the sample and found them here. Then I made a quick dash over to my parents place because I don’t have a colour printer and it didn’t work with black and white or just using my laptop.

Then I laid them out on the table and ran and tada…teapots.

For me there were a few lessons here…

  • Bad doco – although it’s kinda obvious later…the doco never mentioned having to print or providing a link to the file.
  • Bad UI – The UI is black. There’s no feedback so it feels like you’ve broken something. If it had a really big cursor at least I’d know it was working.

HoloLens–Getting the Companion app when in Aus


One of the apps that can be useful when demoing and generally seeing what’s going on in the HoloLens is the companion app.

The problem it seems for those of us in Australia and presumably other non-US countries is once you get to it in the store (as the search doesn’t yield results) is you can’t download it. Even though we can now get HoloLens in Aus the app hasn’t been updated.

To get around this – adjust your pc region settings to United States.


Go back to the store and you can download. You can return to your regularly scheduled viewing by flipping your region back to Australia

DDD 2016 Wrap-up


DDD Brisbane is done and dusted for another year. After 5 years at QUT this year we grew yet again and took on a new venue. The lovely Advanced Engineering Building at UQ.


At 6:30 this crew started arriving to help setup. We had over 400 bags, lanyards, agendas, many tables, lecterns etc. to get in place before the crowd descended upon us.


As the crowd started to arrive the team did well to quickly process every attendee. It flowed pretty well considering the foyer here is much narrower than the past.


The mountain of swag bags slowly become a mound and then petered to a pile.


Damian kicked off the day with some housekeeping, including announcing some of the special speakers we had lined up.


Troy Hunt kicked off the sessions as our keynote speaker.


The main auditorium seems to soak up our 400 attendees but it was a packed house from the start.




Session 1 of the day we kicked off with .Net Core, Surviving uninspiring workplaces and HoloLens


The first break kept both our coffee carts very busy. These guys worked tirelessly from 8 till 4pm keeping our crowd filled with caffeine.


In some of the brief quiet periods it gave the crew a chance to play with some of the


After that bit of caffeine, we were straight back into it with some .Net Core on Linux, TDD and building walls around aggregates.


The pre-lunch sessions (always hard when people’s stomach’s start to rumble) we had Identity Server, why is maintenance so hard and Serverless Architecture.


As we’ve grown, we’ve also had to grow our food. A couple of years back we realised it was too much for use to be running around after food and this year we stepped it up another notch. The lines were long but these guys did a great job of feeding the hungry crowd.


Post lunch, straight back into it with Search engines with .Net, Delivering more with less features and How to protect yourself from being owned.


The sessions before afternoon tea included: Simplifying user interface programming, Developer to Entrepreneur and Industrial grade continuous delivery.



Afternoon tea – the last chance to get a coffee and speak to our great sponsors. Minds were blown with the amazing experiences of the latest from VR and MR.


Last of the technical sessions today and the crowds continued to watch: TypeScript, Agile Retrospective and a session on Blizzard Legion Launch.

0V7C13080V7C1364We had the opportunity to hire a bit of an alternate room this year so as a bit of an experiment we put on 2 half day workshops. Kudos to these guys who gave up half their day to run these.

0V7C1420As the day quickly came to and end we had the energetic Sidney Dekker for our locknote who left us with a lot of food for thought when it comes to counting mistakes.


This year we say good-bye to our fearless leader Damian who is leaving us for Canada. It was really nice to look back at the changes to the venue, crowd and food over 6 years! It was also nice to see so many familiar faces have re-joined us year on year.


It wouldn’t be DDD without the wheel of prizes supplied by our wonderful sponsors. Lots of happy faces. Can’t wait to see what people do with the awesome prize of the Vive.


Of course the event would not exist or run smoothly without the organizers and volunteers! Thanks again for all your help to make this what I think was the best DDD Brisbane yet.

HoloLens–First Reactions


After getting a real HoloLens I thought the best thing was to take it out into the world to meet some real people.

Normally I’d spend some time to put together a nice presentation. I hadn’t had time so I was bad and winged it.

My first experiment was an interesting one. I’d configured the device for me and I don’t have a pupil measuring device so I thought I’d see how we go at just using it as is.

After showing people the first gesture the select I let them go.

It didn’t take long until the “Wow!”, “No way!” and the general look of amazement on the face was present.

Helping them without seeing what they see was a bit challenging so I quickly decided i needed to at least have a few holograms lying around for them to see.


Even though I’ve tried to explain the experience to people for over a year. No matter how many times you explain it – people do not understand it’s awesomeness until they experience it themselves.

It doesn’t take long till people are selecting, rotating, placing and playing with holograms like a pro. You soon notice that your room is all of a sudden filled with hamster wheels, astronauts and fish swimming around your desk.

I also have a bad habit of losing my hologram menus so I’ve taken to put them on a wall.

Factory resetting your HoloLens


After playing with the emulator for awhile I finally caved and bought a real device.

While doing the initial setup I got stuck at the network connection screen. At first I thought this was due to the hotel internet needing a special browser page with details to login so I left it.

The next day when I had more conventional wi-fi I realised something wasn’t quite right. I’m back a the same screen and I can’t see a network…hmmm… Luckily I’m in a room full of other HoloLens geeks so we got someone to share their phone data as a hotspot…still nothing.

At this point I realised something was amiss and I was going to need to reset it.

So I came across the page about restart, reset or recovering here. Because I hadn’t made it past the initial setup I had to go straight to the bit about the recovery tool which you can get from here.


From here I followed the instructions. Plugged in my HoloLens, downloaded the software and installed to the HoloLens. Halfway through the install I got a failure. I tried running it again but it couldn’t find my device now as it was in a funny state.

So now I’m going into manual recovery mode.


1. Hold the power button for 15 seconds, until all the lights are off. For me this felt like it took a minute…

2. Press and hold the volume up button

3. While holding the volume up button, press and hold the power button for 10 seconds, until the middle LED on the device arm lights up. Again, this felt like at least a minute.

At this point you won’t be able to do anything with the HoloLens. It took a few goes before my computer would pick it up in this mode. My 2nd attempt failed and I ended up having to do it for the 3rd time.

After the install worked, I was able to get successfully through the start up, calibration, network connection and away I went.  I must say I was getting quite worried I’d bricked the device for good.

Hopefully this will help anyone else that gets themselves into a funny state on the HoloLens.

Day 26 Humberstone


I booked us a rental car so we could go to Humberstone for the morning. The Thrifty was a few blocks away and we picked up our little car.


It’s manual (neither of us has driven a manual for almost 3 years) and they drive on the wrong side of the road here and almost every street is a one way street.

We make our way out of town and up the dunes. It boggles my mind slightly they manage to put major roads on a sand dune.


We arrive at Humbrstone and get to wander around. It’s a deserted mining town that used to refine saltpeter (sodium nitrate) that is now an UNESCO site. The place is quite massive.


It’s an interesting illustration how a town built by one industry completely collapses. Chile used to supply 62% of the worlds supply until 1929 when the Germans development of the synthesis of ammonia which led to the industrial production of fertilizers. 30 years later works were abandoned and by 1970, even after much modernisation it was a complete ghost town.


It gives you an idea how they related job to living conditions. General workers were assigned tiny living quarters.


That had to fit a whole family.


Supervisors were assigned much larger quarters with 140 m2 of living and outdoor space.


Many of the building have deteriorated over time with the iron roof full of holes


or hardly any iron left at all.


Everything has this rusted, dilapidated look to it it would be a good set for a post apocalyptic movie.



The place hasn’t got many other people during the weekday (advantage of not taking a tour) so you feel like you’re the only one there.


Lots of bits of old machinery are still there.


The administration building looks like a grand plantation home.


Lots of trains around to transport.


Key bits of infrastructure still in place (and held up by many wires and concrete)


After awhile you start to feel like you’re going to need a tetnus shot when you get home.


There’s nails, wire, rusty old ladders and big holes everywhere.


Cart and fake horse remenants.


A grand theatre. This thing was massive!

Take back the car and after some google translating we confirm we’re done with the car. The Thrifty lady seems most amused at either we’re done in half a day or the fun of dealing with non-Spanish speakers.

Last real day of holidays. Tomorrow we head home on flight number 9,10 and 11. It’ll take us about 30hrs to get home so I’m sure we’ll be exhausted by then.

Day 25 – EarthQuake


After a good sleep-in after yesterday’s long bus trip we went for a wander around the town and to look for some lunch.


There’s a long ‘boardwalk’ along the coast. There’s a bunch of construction going on all along here which I’m guessing is getting ready for summer. They’re adding some nice timber walkways and other paths. It’s going to look pretty cool when it’s done. So you have a big main street with multi-lane divided, then a separated bike path, then what looks like it could be a running track (bouncy bitumen) then a tiled walkway, then a timber walkway.


There’s a bunch of high-rise and residential all packed between the water the the giant dunes behind.


After being in San Predro where you were spoilt for choice for restaurants every step you took, we walked for what seemed like hours till we finally stumbled onto this cool restaurant with great food and service with a nice view of the water.


After some food had a bit of a relax in the hotel and all a sudden it felt like the room was moving and then it was definitely moving and I could see the powerlines out the window swaying.

I’m pretty sure we just felt an earthquake. So I jumped straight on the USGS site and hit refresh every few minutes until my suspicion was confirmed – a 5.4 100 k away. You can see the details here. I was a good citizen scientist and contributed to the “Did You Feel It” section.

Then we booked a car for tomorrow as I want to check out the nearby Ghost-town but can’t bear another tour. On the way to dinner we checkout where the carhire place is, grab a few snacks and get some food.

Day 24 The Wheels on the Bus Go Round…


2Today we say goodbye to the canyons and desert as it is our bus trip to Iquique. We arrived nice and early at the bus stop at San Pedro de Atacama.1

The bus arrived, we put our luggage on, found our seat and off on the long straight road to Calama.


We were upstairs and right at the front which is cool but not so cool when you get into town and see how close they get to bikes, cars, powerlines etc.

We had a 20 min gap between buses and when we arrived there was only one bus but it was being worked on …hmm.

Another bus pulls up 15 mins later but it’s not going to Iquique and the broken bus pulls off…hmm….now there’s no buses but lots of people. I’m starting to think we’re going to spend the night in Calama and I don’t speak Spanish.

A lady come out and says says something about Iquique. People don’t seem angry or walk off so that can’t be too bad. A bus pulls up labeled Iquique but it’s for a different bus company. A bunch of people look like they run inside and buy a ticket for that bus …hmm.

45 mins later an unmarked bus pulls up and the driver gets out and mutters something about Iquique (I think this is out bus!) Ok..its our bus and an hour late we’re off to Iquique.

15 mins up the road we stop and sit for awhile. Then the driver comes back and says something about a mechanical issue so everyone gets out. It’s getting cold so we get back in.

Eventually everyone gets back in and I think they say something like we’re going back to Calama to change buses.


Back to the bus depot and we get on a different bus, move the luggage etc. and we’re off! For about 15meters to fill up the bus (you’d think they could have done this before we got there).

And we’re off again…2.5hours late. After a long drive we finally get to Iquique and we get ripped by the cabbie but I don’t care as it’s after midnight and I’m tired.

Day 24–ANZ Outage and Bus Change Fun


Sleep-in after yesterday. Tomorrow we head off but not till 9:30pm and have to check out at 12 so we’re trying to find options to keep us amused. Then I notice we could get an alternate bus but it’s not “direct”. We can’t book online which is really odd.

So we pop out for lunch and card doesn’t work…hmm…that’s not good. Try other card…fail…now that’s really not good. 3rd card lucky and tada!

Once we get back to the hotel it seems ANZ has decided to have all their systems off line for 6hours..which is fine in Aus when you’re asleep between midnight and 6am but for people travelling it’s really bad. See lots of people on social media unable to rent cars, pay for hotels etc.

So we decide to go to the bus terminal to change our ticket…but it’s closed. They shut between 1 and 4.


So John gets a bike and goes riding while I have the exciting task of trying to change our tickets.


He’s sussing out the canyon I wanted to see


and finding the bits that I’m not going to want to do.

The lady at the bus place doesn’t speak English and I don’t speak Spanish. Trying to explain I want to turn my San Pedro –> Iquique ticket at 9:30pm to a San Pedro –> Calama and a Calama –> Iquique ticket at 2pm tomorrow is quite challenging.

It’s lucky I’m really stubborn as eventually my perseverance paid off and I actually have the tickets we want.


I did a bit of shopping as there’s a few woolen things here


plus this guy that I really wanted but he was $70 AUS which I just couldn’t bring myself to pay.

Day 23–Tour Day

0V7C1001Today was a long day. We did a big tour of some of the main sites.


First main stop was at the old bell tower and we saw the nun from the church across the road climb the ladder and ring it.


Next up Tropic of Capricorn.


Pass some vicunas.


Next we arrived at some beautiful lagoon. We’re up really high now but the vegetation increases as we go higher.


The tour company supplied jackets but we almost didn’t take them up on it. Boy was I glad we did.


The wind here was so cold!


Stop at Red Rocks.


Great contrast between the red volcanic rocks and the frozen salt pans. The wind here was insane!


So cold and so strong I really struggled to close the door of the car.


Finally the salt pan.

0V7C1037It’s home to lots of flamingoes


which looks pretty cool with the volcanoes as a backdrop.


Finally we watched the sunset and the mountains get lit up by the setting sun.


Then back to the hotel to crash after 12 hours of driving around! Amazing contrasts of landscape but boy am I wiped!

Day 22 Checking Out the Desert

s2Saturday morning we had a bit of a sleep in after lots of travel it starts to catch up with you. We have the biggest bed I’ve ever seen. It’s like sleeping in a bed by yourself the other person is so far away and we’re used to sleeping in a King.


The afternoon was a bit of an explore.


Closed gates, avalanches and going to the wrong entry. I found a cool looking canyon you can ride through but found out after we took the bikes back it was further up..doh.


John made a new friend.

Day 20-21 Journey to the Driest Place on Earth


This morning we were feeling a bit drained from 3 days being tossed around a 4WD and we had a big journey ahead so we slept in, found the 24h House channel and generally chilled. In the afternoon we said good-bye to Quito and started our 24hr journey to San Pedro de Atacama.


We started with a 1hr drive to the airport, then flight 6,7 and 8 of our trip. Quito to Lima, a 1hr or so wait in Lima then Lima to Santiago where we had 6hr wait. We found the domestic lounge and made use of their comfy seats and I fell asleep. Then Santiago to Calama. There’s literally nothing in this town other than the airport and a giant minesite.

d1 So then a 1hr shuttle bus to San Pedro.


Looks like a few renewable projects going on also as we passed a big solar farm and then a bunch of wind turbines. Checked into our hotel and found a place to hire some bikes and booked a Sunday tour. Not too shabby on hardly any sleep.