Thursday, March 22, 2012

The little Story of “I Unlock Joy” event by Microsoft and Pune User Group


This post is about recent “I Unlock Joy” event happened in Pune which was conducted by Microsoft and Pune User Group.

Little History :

I remember I got myself a HTC HD7 in early January 2011. I even did a big post here with fire saying “Its White Elephant” in India.When I saw Tweets,Photos and Mails by people in US who showing off their Windows Phones in early days of Windows Phone, Frankly I was very angry thinking why each and every thing comes to India when Entire US and Europe people about to throw that piece of technology and switch to its version next.I even had fight at various level to get a Test Device for me but my all attempts result was “Fail”, so finally I got HD7 for myself from local shop, by the time few of my friends from User Group ordered it via some online site and got their shipment before me.Neither me or my friends who ordered it online even before it was made available in India officially bothered about Money and what will happen to it. That time even Mango build was not available.

I was already going through lot of frustrating moments due to Silverlight and HTML5 issues around year back and thanks to Windows Phone, It pulled me back on track.Me,Mayur and few other folks from Community started talking about this device from last year.Frankly, early response was very low since most of the people was not having device and was not sure about future of Windows Phone since it was not made available in India.

First call on “I Unlock Joy” :

I remember that around October 2011,I was taking snaps of some Star Fishes near Tarkarli Beach in Sindhudurga and all of a sudden I got a call from Aviraj saying “You are in conference with Mayur Mahesh and Dhaval for upcoming Windows Phone event” ..I replied “What??..Microsoft is planning event on Windows Phone??”..Trust me call went for 5 minutes where each one just saying “what”, “when”,”ok lets see”,”keep us posted”.Then nothing happened on this till Mid December.


Trust me..before this one was sure about this event.Even we were not sure whether we will be able to host such event or not, Even for Microsoft, it was very first such event in India.

The Plan :

Earlier I was not happy with the event plan just because I misunderstood agenda and found it too much professional, I raise this concern to Mahesh (@maheshmitkari),Mayur (@mayur_tendulkar) and Aviraj (@aviraj111)saying “There are people in Pune, who don’t know what is Windows Phone,How it looks like or they have not even saw or touch that device and how they can build apps for that?”, Thanks to Aviraj Mayur and Mahesh who simplified it for me and told me that its from Hello World to Get Certify from Marketplace over span of 4 Full Days.So after that call on next weekend we started talking more about this event.

Wait..but will people come to this event by paying App Hub Fees?? :

Humm..another 1 hour just went on this discussion,Frankly among our Team, only Mayur was aware of AppHub process since he had account and submitted one or two apps in Marketplace.He and Mahesh and Aviraj show confidence then with 50-50 mind I also said to myself..lets do it people will come ! So Aviraj then given inputs on I Unlock Joy and how it works (MS people really work hard for each of their things,that I re-realize again on that day).He also told about Prizes and how overall things should go if we as Pune User Group want to do it with Microsoft.


Execution of Plan :

Here comes our UG Manager Mahesh Mitkari, He drafted overall plan including Days of Trainings,Venue etc.Thanks to Microsoft, This time there was no “Mission :Find Venue” for us ! As usual my all time favorite question came for discussion “What about Food??..are we giving and not giving??” ..Suddenly Mahesh replied “Food later ! First think about event”..I said “Rest is Ok,but Food is equally important” ..Mayur said “If possible do it or people have to eat somewhere around the venue” ..Aviraj was on bit silent mode during this discussion since Budget for this was already allocated and now it was our turn to manage all in that amount.Finally with the years of experience Mahesh have in community, He managed the food for us. Since we took it up this event under support of MS, Content and Speaker for event was from Pune User Group. Mayur took the ownership of this speaking engagement and hence that pain part was already taken care. 


Then there was lot of confusion about allowing “Individual”,”Students” and “Business” types of AppHub Account holders.But we decided that aim of this event is to “Empower individuals with great skills and great device”, so we decided to cut off Students and Companies and fixed our agenda accordingly.

Since this was very first event so we decided to keep the number of attendees equal with the capacity of hall or even less will do.

Registration Process and getting people to Venue : Mission Impossible

We hosted a lovely Website using ASP.NET MVC + Cloud for this event using shiny logos and stuff.

For first week, there was not a single registration, all we had is test records entered by us for testing of that portal.Week went bad for us.No one turn to site for registration.We were almost feeling dead at that moment since it was January 1st week and we were about to kick off the event from end of January 2012, we paid for venue, book food counters, done all formalities with MS,ok but where are attendees??


Mahesh Me,Mayur and Aviraj come back to our old conclusion “Its paid event so people are not coming ..maybe?” since Pune User Group events are never paid.So how to solve this problem??

Meetings Meetings..Calls Calls .. :

We decided to do quick analysis of this thing and jumped to a conclusion that it was not about spending money but we came to know about following concerns :

  • Its Credit Card it safe?
  • Will they pull some extra money from Background?
  • Do they will come to know whether I am using illegal software?
  • I will seriously get Windows Phone if I build apps for I Unlock Joy?

Ok ! we got our answers, the very first thing we did is added a big “FAQ” section on our site and made publicity of the same, we captured most common uncommon and unique Questions,As a result, in last week of Registration count went to almost 40+ and we closed registration.We are all set for First ever such event by any User Group in India..Get Set Go !


Overall Event :

Now the next tension on mind was, whether people will adopt the skills and able to build and submit apps or not,else again everything will go waste !

Kudos to Mayur Tendulkar and Amol Vaidya ( and me as a Backup Speaker with full support from MSPs Omkar,Sneha and Apporva) who carried out training successfully.4 Days were full of gyan and not like typical sessions happens around where speaker comes in drag drop things and execute. Some real code and real stuff happened here in Pune.Thanks to AKant (Abhishek Kant who was our Ex-MVP Lead and now Country Manager for Telerik in India) for his valuable time at Keynote session and giving Telerik Controls for free to all attendees there at event.


Very Special Thanks to Harish Vaidyanathan (@harishv ), Girish Joshi, Aditee Rele (@aditeerele ) and our big brother from Microsoft (@aviraj111), without these people it was impossible to unlock the joy !

What went wrong in this event :

  • Shortage of Power Plugs and less power extensions at Venue on Day1, From Day 2 we fixed that by adding more plugs-extensions
  • Delay in distribution of Pen Drives, instead of day 1 people got that on day 4
  • Connectivity and WiFi was not available due to infra issues
  • 1 Test Device out of 2 was not Mango, we updated that to Mango from Day 2

What people went home with :

  • Some amazing knowledge about Windows Phone Application Development
  • Confidence to build Windows Phone Apps
  • Joy and Fun moment during all 4 Days and great device experience with Test Devices kept for them
  • Some even went away with Nokia Lumia 800


What’s the outcome of all this 4 month story from October 2011 to January 2012 ? :

  • Some 30+ Quality Apps already in Marketplace from this event
  • Around 45+ are due for Certification
  • Around 20+ new apps getting developed from people who already submitted apps
  • Me, Mahesh and Mayur declared officially from Microsoft as “Agents of Joy” and now visible on Microsoft’s I Unlock Joy Portal

Click on “Agents of Joy” tile at the bottom !


Final Day :

I Unlock Joy Members snap with Harish Vaidyanathan at Pune


Conclusion :

Its for the “Community” by the “Community” to build more better and better “Community”, so despite of all challenges we faced.The passion of working towards “Community” made all things easy.

There are so many things happen in those 4 months, so its difficult for me to put down all things here,still I tried my best to cover up the entire story.

I am proud that I am associated with such a wonderful community in Pune. Microsoft and Pune User Group Rocks !!

Thanks to all who are directly or indirectly involved in this activity, its difficult to take all names since its very big community thanks to all !

After this event, Girish Joshi from Microsoft asked Me and Mahesh to give a snap of ours and we given below snap :

Well ! There is again a Big story behind this photo which we took at midnight at Mahesh’s home..that story..well..some other time !


Friday, March 9, 2012

Resolving Prohibited Applications 2.7.2 Issue in Windows Phone Application Certification Process


If you are building a Windows Phone Application especially which deals with Location based Services or Location related information share,then this blogpost might come to your help.

Recently,I submitted one Windows Phone Application titled as "LocateMe" to Microsoft Windows Phone Marketplace as a normal procedure of Marketplace of Microsoft, After 2-3 Days I got email as follows :


When I logged into AppHub account, I got one PDF file having detail description of above mail along with complete error details. When I saw that PDF, It was written like :


Since such kind of rejection is very new to me,For day or two I was wondering what to do and resolved so that my application can clear certification.Since comments was clear on the test result like this :


One of my friend Mayur Tendulkar suggested that my application is using Location Service without User Consent or User's permission which indirectly crossing Privacy of the User of that application, In other way its like taking or using User's location without giving him any intimation or notification. This was the issue which my application was doing.

Solution :

I came across this blogpost which exactly states the above problem, Solution suggested there is to create a Custom Page with On/Off Switch which can Enable or Disable Location which will be provided by User of the application.

Somehow I felt it as little extra work in terms of coding and navigation to user.So I given a try to a very simple solution and I am happy that it worked for me and my application came out of this Privacy issue and got certified. I just given a message box like this :

MessageBoxResult result = MessageBox.Show("For Tracking on Map you need to Enable Location,For More Information Read Privacy Statement,Are you sure you want to enable Tracking?", "LocateMe", MessageBoxButton.OKCancel);

                if (result == MessageBoxResult.OK)
                   // Turn On the Location
                    // Turn Off the Location

This saved me from that extra step of navigating to Location Setup Page and Set Reset location and come back to application.This helped me to get consent of user to use Location on his/her device.This allows user to choose to Turn On or Off the location service and does not force the user anyway and does not disclose any location data of user anywhere.

To be on safer side, I added a Privacy Statement Page in Application Bar Menu so that User can know more about in what way and terms the User location which is his/her private data is getting used.This page looks like below :


What I learn from this problem :

Its not always mandatory to have a separate page just for turning On or Off the location but it can just be done by a message box since its all about giving notification to the user and asking his/her permission to use and or share his/her location in any way.

Since I didn't came across any valid or legal solution for this problem,hence I thought I should share my experience with you all, So in future any of you got into such problem, should not be a big issue for your application during the Certification Process of Microsoft Marketplace.

Although in terms of legal aspect, this is not a valid or legal solution which is full proof,however I will claim this only as "work around" to get ride of Prohibited Applications 2.7.2 Issue in Windows Phone Application Certification.If you want More information about 2.7.2 section,I encourage you to go through following MSDN Documentation available on this subject :

With this, I conclude this post, The only intention of this post is to make you aware of this issue and not get lost anywhere like I got in initial go of my application development.This might help you to be extra careful while you are building your app especially location based.So make sure you keep these things in your mind and while building such kinds of apps, think from all aspects and build your own Privacy Statement or Policy according to need of your application.

Well, I recently submitted few apps and in my next post I am talking some interesting things happen last month in my town where me and my User Group friends conducted Windows Phone Training Program, till that time, Just check out my "LocateMe" app and let me know your feedback.Take care and see you soon.

Warning : Above post and solution given came out of my own experience and might not applicable as a general solution to all generic location based applications on Windows Phone Marketplace,Hence use this post as just a guideline and not as a final and/or Legal solution in any way.Only intention of this post is to create awareness about this  Prohibited Applications 2.7.2 Issue in Windows Phone Application Certification Process.