All posts by Justin Stenning

Visual Studio graphics content pipeline for C# projects

In this post we will look at how to use the graphics content pipeline for C# in both Visual Studio 2012 and Visual Studio 2013 for Desktop and Windows Store apps.

Since Visual Studio 2012 there has been a new graphics content pipeline and graphics debugger – including a DirectX frame debugger and  HLSL debugger. The graphics content pipeline provides a number of build targets for converting common 3D and graphics assets into a usable format for DirectX applications, this includes the compilation of common mesh formats such as Collada (.dae), AutoDesk FBX (.fbx), and Wavefront (.obj) into a compiled mesh object (.cmo) file, and converting regular images into .DDS files.

Unfortunately the graphics content pipeline tasks don’t work out-of-the-box with C# because the MSBuild targets are not compatible.

Continue reading Visual Studio graphics content pipeline for C# projects

Where to download Silverlight 5.1.20513.0 Tools/SDK/Developer Runtime

Here are the links required to prepare a Silverlight 5 development environment for those that need to target Silverlight 5.1.20513.0 even when Microsoft remove the links to the downloads from their download site(s). Both the Developer runtime and normal runtime for 32-bit and 64-bit are included. Note: this release of Silverlight uses the same SDK and Tools version as for the previous release – links have been included for convenience. Continue reading Where to download Silverlight 5.1.20513.0 Tools/SDK/Developer Runtime

Afterglow – an ambient lighting solution

I have long wanted to build an ambient lighting solution (e.g. like Ambilight)  and at last it is starting to take shape with Afterglow, a solution built by myself and Jono.

Afterglow provides a framework to perform image capturing, colour extraction, post processing and colour output – primarily for use with lighting systems such as for ambient lighting.

The Afterglow project is designed to be an input and output agnostic framework, allowing users to create their own plugin’s to read images from the screen or perhaps a camera and to output to their own hardware solution. One idea, unrelated to existing ambilight-type solutions, is to build a sound analysis plugin that provides mood lighting for a room.

The hardware solution we used is a LED pixel string driven by an Arduino Uno. You can see how to build the hardware here, and see images of the output at the Afterglow Gallery. This uses a small Arduino program listening for serial input sent by an output plugin within Afterglow.

The reason I am interested in building an ambient lighting solution is to drive the lighting by images captured while playing a game. Traditionally ambient lighting systems have been designed to work with movies / TV whereas Afterglow is a more flexible environment that can accept any input source. This is beginning to be realised within Afterglow with the recent addition of a DirectX capture plugin.

It is still early days for the project with a long to do list and plenty of issues, but if you are after an easy to build, extensible ambient lighting solution Afterglow is a good start! Anyone interested in participating in the project or building custom plugin’s is welcome!

Where to download Silverlight 5.1.10411.0 Tools/SDK/Developer Runtime

Here are the links required to prepare a Silverlight 5 development environment for those that need to target Silverlight 5.1.10411.0 even when Microsoft remove the links to the downloads from their download site(s). Both the Developer runtime and normal runtime for 32-bit and 64-bit are included. Note: this release of Silverlight uses the same SDK and Tools version as for the previous release – links have been included for convenience.
Continue reading Where to download Silverlight 5.1.10411.0 Tools/SDK/Developer Runtime

SQL Server 2008: Create administrator account without admin login

Deploying our development machines from virtual machine templates saves us a lot of time, however every now and then we hit frustrating little speed bumps. Here is the latest – SQL Server 2008 / SQL Server 2008 Express not having an administrator account enabled.

To fix this problem you must first stop the SQL Server 2008 instance, and start it in “single user mode” (you need to be local administrator for this to work).

  1. Stop the SQL Server instance in Service Manager
  2. Open cmd prompt
  3. browse to appropriate SQL Server installation: e.g. cd\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL10.SQLEXPRESS\MSSQL\Binn
  4. Start SQL Server in single user mode using the “-m” switch:
    For a default instance: sqlservr.exe -m
    For SQLEXPRESS/named instance: sqlservr.exe -m -sSQLEXPRESS
  5. You can now connect to the SQL Server instance via SQL Server Management Console and create your administrative user, or use SQLCMD from the command prompt e.g.:
    C:\> SQLCMD -S .\SQLEXPRESS -E
    1> CREATE LOGIN [YOURDOMAIN\justin] FROM WINDOWS
    2> go
    1> exec sp_addsrvrolemember @loginame='YOURDOMAIN\justin', @rolename='sysadmin'
    2> go
    
  6. Stop the server (Ctrl+C)
  7. Start the service again from Service Manager

Where to download Silverlight 5.0.61118.0 Tools/SDK/Developer Runtime

Here are the links required to prepare a Silverlight 5 development environment for those that need to target Silverlight 5.0.61118.0 even when Microsoft remove the links to the downloads from their download site(s). Both the Developer runtime and normal runtime for 32-bit and 64-bit are included.
Continue reading Where to download Silverlight 5.0.61118.0 Tools/SDK/Developer Runtime

Where to download Tools/SDK/Developer Runtime for Silverlight 4.0.60831.0

With the release of Silverlight 5 it is of course now difficult to find a download for the latest Silverlight 4 Developer Runtime for those of us developing for restricted client environments (again).

Silverlight 4 Developer Runtime 4.0.60831.0
http://silverlight.dlservice.microsoft.com/download/D/C/2/DC2D5838-9138-4D25-AA92-52F61F7C51E6/runtime/Silverlight_Developer.exe

Silverlight 4 Runtime 4.0.60831.0
http://silverlight.dlservice.microsoft.com/download/D/C/2/DC2D5838-9138-4D25-AA92-52F61F7C51E6/runtime/Silverlight.exe

Silverlight 4 SDK 4.0.60310.0, April 2011 Update
http://download.microsoft.com/download/B/9/B/B9BDD218-6974-4816-A309-0FC85A105521/sdk/silverlight_sdk.exe (from here: http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=15636). You should install this after you have installed the Silverlight 4 Tools for VS2010.

The above were found by going to Silverlight.net and selecting the “Silverlight 4 (Previous Version)” -> Silverlight 4 Runtime, however you have to use IE. Using Chrome resulted in downloading the latest version 5 runtime instead. Once downloaded I reviewed the final URL that was used to download, then changed Silverlight.exe to Silverlight_Developer.exe to get the developer runtime as well.