Charles Petzold on writing books, reading books, and exercising the internal UTM

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I Need a Windows 8 Tablet Recommendation!

September 11, 2012
New York, N.Y.

I've been writing a book about Windows 8 programming using one of the Samsung tablets distributed about a year ago at the Build conference. It works great for most of the programming I've been doing, but I've been having lots of problems with the compass and accelerometer-related sensors. Sometimes they work erratically and sometimes not at all.

For example, today I've been trying to explore the OrientationSensor class. Events were fired rarely, and the RotationMatrix always had zero values (although the Quaternion had non-zero values), and then it stopped working entirely, even after a reboot.

Has anybody had success accessing these sensors on a commercially available tablet with Windows 8 installed?


I don't think there will be available any good tablet for Windows 8 before the general release at October 26. After this date I would recommend buying the Surface Pro tablet from Microsoft, it should be basically flagship having all the supported sensors.

Martin Suchan, Tue, 11 Sep 2012 13:44:52 -0400

I am with Martin, the Surface Pro is going to be the spec that all of the rest will compare too. There might be better ones after the Oct launch. Or I could really get myself in trouble and say write an iOS book instead. (Just kidding, not flames please)

— Jhan Jensen, Tue, 11 Sep 2012 15:55:21 -0400

One of the primary purposes of an operating system like Windows is to provide a software interface to hardware in a device-independent manner. It is absurd that I should have to wait for some kind of "official" Microsoft hardware to write a Windows 8 book. My deadline for completing the manuscript of Programming Windows 6th edition is approximately the release date of Windows 8 and Microsoft Surface, so waiting is out of the question.

I am certain that existing tablets contain the necessary hardware — GPS, compass, accelerometer, gyroscope — and that Windows 8 can provide access to these sensors. All I need is one developer to confirm from personal experience that the sensors on such-and-such tablet work with the Windows 8 RTM release.

Otherwise, there will be no chapter on sensors in the book, and I don't like that at all. — Charles

I also had problems initially with my BUILD tablet with the sensors, probably a lot more obvious than the issues that you are having - it wouldn't rotate, etc. My suggestion would be to maybe post something in the forums -

I got mine replaced by MS fairly quickly however there may also be other people with similar issues that have resolutions in the forums.

Good luck with it.

— Will Robertson, Wed, 12 Sep 2012 08:09:35 -0400

Thanks! — Charles

My Build unit is working ok but for testing we are using the STEVAL-MKI119V1 boards which work a treat. it is a bit faffy but works. Like everybody else we are waiting for the new gen laptops.

hope this helps


Robert Hogg, Sun, 16 Sep 2012 11:27:17 -0400

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