Microsoft designers talk Azure UX

This little video popped up on my feeds. Was a nice little look behind the scenes of how the UX designers work, and how UX is a fundamentally important aspect of any application, sometimes as much so as the code behind it.

Only 4 minutes long



How to mine Ethereum with Azure on Ubuntu

Note: CPU mining is extrememly inefficient I was mining an an 8 core machine for 3 days and didn’t mine a block, but it is chance based so your results may vary. Either get a machine with a GPU, or think about purchasing mining power from a provider.
See my previous blog post about how I purchased mining contracts from a dedicated provider.


If you have an Azure account and want to experiment with spinning up a VM to do some CPU mining, here are the instructions to go through. It is made complicated due to the Ubuntu VM images only creating disks of 30GB which isn’t large enough to hold the Ethereum blockchain.
There are 4 major steps:

  • Prestep – Prepare a wallet to mine into.
  • Create a new Ubuntu VM on Azure.
  • Configure a 2nd hard drive.
    Move /home to the new hard drive.
  • Install and run geth.


Prestep – Prepare a wallet to mine into

It is more convenient to have your miner send any mined Eth to a central wallet that you control. The easiest way is to use the desktop Mist wallet

  • Download Mist
  • Run it, let it sync to the network (may take a few hours). You can let it sync while you set up your Linux VM
  • After it has finally synced, create a new account. Note the unique code for later. We will tell our miner to put all mined ether into that wallet.
    mist UI
    mist wallet


Create a Linux VM in Azure

  • Create a new Ubuntu linux VM. You will want to pick a VM size with at least at least 2 cores (otherwise all your time will be spent importing blocks instead of mining).
    azure new ubuntu
  • To make it easy to connect via SSH later, give your VM a friendly hostname
    azure hostname


Connect / Install helpful tools (optional)

  • If you don’t have a SSH client, download and install Putty
  • Open putty and connect
    putty connected
  • Open a 2nd instance of Putty so you can monitor CPU while working
  • install htop
    sudo apt-get install htop
  • Run htop



Configure a 2nd hard drive

The Ubuntu image creates a VM with a 30GB hard disk. The issue with this, is that the Ethereum blockchain itself is over 30GB and so the disk will run out of space before you sync. You need to attach a 2nd hard drive, configure the system to move /home to the 2nd disk.
Simplified from

  • In the portal attach a new disk. The name is unimportant. Make it at least 200GB. You will only be charged blob storage for the space you fill up.
    azure new disk
  • You can list your drives. You will see /dev/sdc as not having valid partitions (as we haven't set them up yet)
    sudo fdisk -l
  • run fdisk on sdc. You can just accept the defaults by pressing Enter
    sudo fdisk /dev/sdc
     n (new)
     Primary (Accept Defaults)
     1 (Accept Defaults)
     First Sector (Accept Defaults)
     Last Sector (Accept Defaults)
     w (to close and apply)
  • Format the new partition
    sudo mkfs -t ext4 /dev/sdc1
  •  this will now show our new drive is partitioned and ready to use!
    sudo fdisk -l
  • Temporarily mount it to /datadrive
    sudo mkdir /datadrive
    sudo mount /dev/sdc1 /datadrive
  • Get the UUID (can copy in putty simply by selecting text with mouse. Auto copies to clipboard)
    sudo -i blkid

    ubuntu uuid

  • Add it to the filesystem so that it is always mounted at startup
    sudo nano /etc/fstab

    add in your disk in the below format
    UUID=???????? /datadrive ext4 defaults 0 2
    e.g. UUID=385ae56e-cc0d-4d6a-9130-70458e7c57b7 /datadrive ext4 defaults 0 2
    Ctrl+x to quit. Y to save
    ubuntu fstab

  • Try unmounting and remounting to confirm it is all okay
    sudo umount /datadrive
     sudo mount /datadrive
  • Make the drive writeable
    sudo chmod go+w /datadrive
  • Can confirm that your /datadrive is as large as you made it earlier. Should be /datadrive
    sudo df -H

    ubuntu disk sizes

  • I would reboot now to make sure the system comes back up and you haven’t broken anything. Better to do now with a fresh machine than later
    sudo reboot


Move /home to 2nd drive

Simplified from

  • duplicate files from /home to /datadrive
    sudo rsync -aXS --exclude='/*/.gvfs' /home/. /datadrive/.
  • change /datadrive to /home
    sudo nano /etc/fstab
  • Rename the old /home, and prepare an empty directory ready for fstab to mount to
    cd / && sudo mv /home /old_home && sudo mkdir /home
  • Make sure it all works by rebooting
    sudo reboot


Install and run Geth!!

Finally the reason we are here. You can easily install by adding in the repository into apt-get and installing from there
Simplified from

  • Install geth
    sudo apt-get install software-properties-common
    sudo add-apt-repository -y ppa:ethereum/ethereum
    sudo add-apt-repository -y ppa:ethereum/ethereum-dev
    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get install ethereum
  • Run geth. Replace the ether address with your wallet
    I prefer to run geth via screen. That way if putty disconnects it will still continue to run on the server.

    screen -S gethminer geth --etherbase '0x461da8f20aa94fac22d7b134afac5481315d7dae' --mine 2>> geth.log
  • Tip: If putty disconnects, you can reconnect by using
    screen -r -S gethminer

Here is a screenshot of me running 2 instances of Putty. One with htop showing the 8 core machine at 100% utilisation, and a 2nd instance showing geth processing blocks.
ubuntu 8 core mining

Using Windows 10 iOS bridge to convert Canabalt to Windows 10 in under 5 minutes

I have been playing around with the Windows 10 bridges that allow you to port applications from other platforms (iOS, WP Silverlight, Hosted web apps, etc) to the Windows 10 UWP platform.

Today I wanted to show you how easy it is to take an iOS game and port it straight to a Windows 10 UWP application.
I’m porting the classic game Canabalt which was originally an online flash game, which they then ported to an iPhone game.

The author of Canabalt released the source code on Github for others to play around with
The iOS bridge for Windows 10 is availabe from the website

Now sit back and watch how quickly you can port using the tools.