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Author Archives: Marc-Julien Objois

Fix for the WPF Designer View with a Dark Background

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Filed under .NET, Visual Studio

If you’ve used the designer view while editing XAML files and you prefer the dark theme for Visual Studio 2012 / 2013, you’ve probably run into this problem:


In the default dark color scheme, the design window is too dark to see anything without modifying your code to add an unnecessary background. No need to modify your code.

Bring up “Extensions and Updates” under the TOOLS menu, click on the “Online” section, and search for “theme editor”. Install Visual Studio 2013 Color Theme Editor.

After a restart, you’ll see a “Color Themes” tab. Click on the icon in the top right of the Dark theme to make a copy of the theme. Name it however you wish and use the pencil icon to edit the theme.

In the top right, search for “artboard”. Set the colour of the Cider -> ArtboardBackground to FFFFFFFF and set ArtboardSecondaryBackground to FFEEEEEE. You’ll get a nice white checkerboard pattern from now on after you save the theme and apply it (click on the theme in “Color Themes”).


Based on the first comment by yAak on this post about using a style in your solution to force a white background in the designer.

Surface Pro 3: So Close!

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Filed under Hardware, Usability
Photo by Sinchen.Lin

Photo by Sinchen.Lin

I bought a Surface Pro 3 Core i7 512GB and returned it within a week. This is a device I wanted to love. Read on to hear about the the pros and cons of the device, why I returned it, and whether I think you should buy one.

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Why WPF? Presentation (It’s In The Name)

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Filed under .NET

In my previous post about WPF data binding, I outlined the first of two reasons I like WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation), especially having been wary of Windows Forms programming in the past.

The second reason I like WPF is that the visual elements are completely decoupled from the way they are displayed. A button is a button because it is an area of the screen that you click on, that changes in appearance when clicked, and performs an action if you let go of your mouse cursor or finger while still pressing that object. A button isn’t a button because it is a grey rectangle that displays text and performs an action when clicked.
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Why WPF? Data Binding

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Filed under .NET

WPF isn’t an initialism for a rude phrase that a confused person might say, it’s short for Windows Presentation Foundation, and I think it’s pretty awesome.

My current contact involves making a Windows application in WPF. If you’ve shied away from Windows application programming due to Microsoft’s old Forms programming methodology, this post is here to convince you to give WPF a look.
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Cognitive Biases and the Modern Software Developer

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Filed under Corporate Culture, Growth & Development

Software developers see themselves as logical creatures. No doubt, being trained in the art of programming means you are taxing your problem-solving skills on a daily basis. Still, as human beings, we all suffer from cognitive biases which can get in the way – especially if we don’t know about them to begin with…
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Password Management Shoot-Out: Passpack vs. 1Password

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Filed under Productivity

Let’s compare apples to oranges: an offline paid-only desktop / mobile app with browser plugins; and a free for limited use online password management system:

1Password vs. Passpack


Passpack is free, as long as you have 100 or less passwords to keep track of. I’ve been using it for many years now. You sign in to their site using a username and password, click on the screen where they tell you to click (to prove you’re a human being), then enter a passphrase to unlock your passwords. A passphrase is just like a password, only an entire sentence. Whatever nonsense makes sense to you is going to make for nigh-impossible-to-guess credentials.

At that point, the simple interface lets you search for a password which you can copy to the clipboard without showing on the screen. You can also store notes that are also obscured onscreen until you click a “reveal” button. I have loved this service. It meant I never had to remember a particular password for my lesser-used logins. It will also auto-generate random passwords of the desired strength. After all, if you don’t need to memorize it, it can be as complex as you want. There is an auto-login feature and an Adobe Air desktop app. The desktop app appears to locally cache the web app and your encrypted passwords. I have had limited success with auto-login in Passpack, though I confess I have not given it more than 3 attempts.

The 100-password limit was fine for a very long time, though I have hit that limit recently. The next stage would have been paying $1.50 USD per month to have access to 1000 passwords. That’s quite inexpensive, but the subscription model made me think twice. What happens if Passpack goes under?

So why would I ever try anything else?

No mobile app.

You cannot access Passpack passwords offline from a mobile device. The mobile interface is usable on a good connection, but I have no desire to waste any bandwidth nor wait for a slow connection to access my passwords when on vacation.

AgileBits 1Password

On the strength of glowing recommendations from friends, I gave 1Password a shot. The allure of paying once and having it over with sealed the deal. It’s lucky everyone loves 1Password, because it isn’t cheap. 1Password for Windows and 1Password for Mac each cost $50 USD. If you use Macs and Windows machines, well look at you, Mr. or Mrs. Moneybags, you’re going to have to pay extra. Thankfully, there is a Mac + Windows bundle for only $70 USD. I paid $100 USD for me and my wife. It’s a 5-user license, so when we have kids, they’ll be able to store their super secret “P00pYD14perz” passwords as well. I also sprung for the expensive iOS app: $18 CAD.

Ouch. Still, I now own the current version. One advantage / disadvantage of 1Password is that you maintain your encrypted password file yourself. You can synchronize it over multiple devices using cloud storage. I was advised that iCloud worked better than Dropbox, so I went that route. I’m sad to say it is not rock solid. My iOS devices are sometimes days out of sync, forcing me to fish out another device to retrieve a password. I will be trying Dropbox, which will at least enable syncing with my Windows machines as well.

The Chrome plugin is excellent. Press ctrl-\ (or Command-\ on Mac), enter your one password (no need to sign in then enter a passcode), and you are logged in “automagically.”

The mobile app not only gives you access to passwords but provides a web browser window that logs you in automatically.

If I can get my passwords in sync over all devices with minimal delay, 1Password will be perfect.


Right now, both systems are on par in terms of value in my head. With Passpack, I am never guessing whether I will have access to my passwords as long as I have a connection. With 1Password, the automatic sign-in in a desktop web browser works perfectly.

If you have questions or recommendations, join me on twitter (link at the top).

Getting Support from Telerik

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Filed under .NET

One of our clients makes extensive use of Telerik controls for WPF. While I have worked with Telerik controls before, this is the first time I’ve had to use their support extensively. I’ve learned a few things about getting help from Telerik
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Angular.js and My Opinion on Opinionated Software

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Filed under JavaScript

If you’re a web developer, chances are you’ve at least heard of Angular.js.

The Angular.js team and others have a lot of good tutorials, so I won’t cover how to use Angular, but rather why.
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