Saturday, 18 April 2020

Cortana Skills are Gone

Well, it is over.

Cortana is dead.

In February, Microsoft killed third party skills.  Though you can skill invoke the bots, the interface from Windows or Invoke is dead.

So the question is ... now what.  Relaunch the skills I have as plug ins for Teams chat? Or just wait... continue to build on Google Actions. 

Update: I spent 5 minutes and hooked the bot webchat to the Art of War and Mediations pages. So... at least you can still see the botframework part in action!

Monday, 24 February 2020

How to Stop Groove from Skipping

Ugh. 2019 was a bad year for music players.

Thanks Amazon for fracturing the music player landscape. When I drank the cool-aide, I jumped onto Music Player, and then saw the death of Auto-Rip, Personal Music Subscriptions, etc.

By that time it was too late to go back to iTunes, that is now dead.

And I had moved to Groove to play from cloud, and play my library on XBox, but Microsoft killed that. 

And in Microsoft's rebirth of Windows, there are other quirks.  Ever notice Groove player skips 30-40 seconds into a song on local media?  Want to know why?  Well, the file is in-use of course - if you back your music up to One Drive.  How to listen to music without constant skipping?  Well, turn off One Drive sync of course.  Or at least pause it while you listen to music.






Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Inside the Arcade1up PacMan

I received PacMan for Christmas.  I had a lot of fun, until the joystick up stopped working.

I had been thinking about moding it.  Some YouTube videos implied it could be done, that the ROMs on the board included Asteroids and Galaxian.

Sure enough, when I replaced the joystick Arcade1Up sent as replacement, the controller nest has the label saying "Galaxian, Pac Man, Space Invader" and room for a fire button P1-A.  I have not cracked the logic board connected to the display yet, but it might be tweakable if true.






Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Media, White Hats, and Black Hats



ARS Technica has an article with detailed instructions on how to record information, or fake phishing, using Alexa and Google Assistant. It is a blueprint of how to build rogue skills that pass certification but do naughty things.  I know at Microsoft, one of the last things Cortana did was implement developer vetting. It irritates me that articles like this, that have good intentions, not only expose holes to black hats, but make real developers lives harder.

Thursday, 12 September 2019

When CERTS expire...

Today I noticed my SSL cert expired. I received notice mid-July, but as with everything, I checked if everything still worked at that time - it did - so conveniently forgot.

This meant likely yesterday, my webs server anounced it was not secured, and all my Cortana skills stopped working with an obscure error message stopped working. (The error message buried at the bottom of the message was [bot service response null].)

So I fixed it by

  • downloading my new cert
  • figuring out how to use psftp to upload them to my server given I'd obfuscated sshd configuration
  • uploading my new crt files and moving them to /etc/ssl/certs
  • updating the various entries in /etc/apache2/sites-available conf files that pointed at the cert
So all the Cortana skills are running again.  I am surprised that the automated tests Microsoft runs didn't send me a nasty email saying I was down.  Ah....


Monday, 9 September 2019

Debug C# Cortana Skill Locally

I added a video on how to create a Skill in the cloud, compile it there, then suck it back to a desktop, set debug break points, and continue to debug locally.It doesn't have commentary yet, but I'll get to it.



Thursday, 29 August 2019

Teach Your Kids to Code

Today at work we had Bring Your Kids who got an Hour of Code.... Teaching your kids to code! Super cool. They started here... Minecraft . And now I get to send them here... Robot Odyssey . Right on.