Scott Hanselman

Signing into Windows 10 with your Face - Using an Xbox One Kinect with Windows Hello

December 18, '15 Comments [19] Posted in Musings | Win10
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The original version of the Kinect camera had an Xbox version and a PC version, and this sucked for a few reasons. Fast forward to the days of Xbox One, and the Kinect v2 for Xbox One has changed a lot. It has a 1080p color camera, IR capabilities that are separate from color, a wider FOV (field of view), and can track 6 skeletons. AND, most importantly, you can use your existing Xbox One Kinect with your PC with an adapter. No need for a second Kinect. The Kinect Adapter for Windows is $50 and took me 5 min to set up. It's basically a power brick and a USB 3 bridge to your PC.

You do need a decent machine to handle the Kinect for Xbox One, so there's a Kinect Configuration Verifier Tool that can quickly tell you if you're up to spec. If you are developing applications, download and install the free SDK 2.0. It's worth getting this even if you aren't, if only to see the cool stuff your Kinect can see about you.

A Kinect can see you in 3D

The Kinect knows too much!

Setting up your Kinect v2 to support Windows Hello on your Windows 10 PC

Here's how you setup Windows Hello. It's pretty awesome because my home computer unlocks and logs in when I sit down and look at it.

  • Update the Registry to get Drivers that aren't available yet. Make a text file "kinectdrivers.reg" and put this text in it. Double-click it to import into your Registry.
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\DriverFlighting\Partner]
"TargetRing"="Drivers"
  • If you've already set up your Kinect, refresh it's drivers in the Device Manager.
    1. Open Device Manager (Windows Key + X, then press M)
    2. Expand “Kinect sensor devices”.
    3. Right-click on "WDF KinectSensor Interface 0"
    4. Click "Update Driver Software..."
    5. Click "Search automatically for updated driver software"
    6. Allow it to download and install the new driver
    7. Reboot
  • Set up Windows Hello. Press the Start button and type "hello" or "face sign-in" and you'll get here. You'll want to setup a PIN first.
Windows Hello

Run through the wizard, except look nicer than this.

ZOMG HELLO WINDOWS

You're all set! Now when you sit at your computer and see the Lock Screen, it will look for you.

Privacy Note: The camera isn't on and looking all the time. It's just looking when the screen is locked AND the screen saver (power saver) isn't going. Additionally, the Kinect light will turn on showing you that it's on. It's not streaming your face to any remote servers, it's using what it knows about your face as a key to unlock secure storages locally.

Making sure it's you

Then you just hit the space bar or click the mouse and you're in!

It is! Hello!

Windows Hello is also built into the Surface Pro 4 and the SurfaceBook, but you can add this functionality to your PC with a Kinect...OR....

If you don't want a Kinect + Adapter or a new PC, you can buy an eye tracker like the Tobii Eye Controller or the SteelSeries Gaming Eye Tracker. Tobii just added support for Windows 10 with Windows Hello to their controller! So for $139 you could get a nice upgrade to your PC with face recognition, not to mention all the other cool stuff a Tobii can do!

Tobii Eye Tracker adds Windows Hello to your PC

The Tobii $139 device can let you (or a disabled relative) control your computer with just your eyes. There's a wonderful open source tool called OptiKey that helps folks with Motor Neuron disease or ALS control their Windows machines, and I had the developer on my podcast recently. Definitely check it out as a compelling and accurate alternative way to control your PC!


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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The 2015 Christmas List of Best STEM Toys for your little nerds and nerdettes

December 6, '15 Comments [28] Posted in Musings
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My 8 year old (recently 7, they grow so fast) asked recently, "are we nerds yet?" Being a nerd doesn't have the negative stigma it once did. A nerd is a fan, and everyone should be enthusiastic about something. You might be a gardening nerd or a woodworking nerd. In this house, we are Maker Nerds. We've been doing some 3D Printing lately, and are trying to expand into all kinds of makings.

NOTE: We're gearing up for another year of March Is For Makers coming soon in March of 2016. Now is a great time for you to catch up on March 2015's content!

Here's a Christmas List of things that I've either personally purchased, tried for a time, or borrowed from a friend. These are great toys and products for kids of all genders and people of all ages.

Snap Circuits

Snap Circuits

I love Snap Circuits and have talked about them before on my blog. We quickly outgrew the 30 parts in the Snap Circuits Jr. Even though it has 100 projects, I recommend you get the Snap Circuits SC-300 that has 60 parts and 300 projects, or do what we did and just get the Snap Circuits Extreme SC-750 that has 80+ parts and 750 projects. I like this one because it includes a computer interface (via your microphone jack, so any old computer will work!) as well as a Solar Panel.

Dremel 3D Printer

We still use our Dremel 3D Printer at least two or three times a week. We're printing a quadcopter, making Minecraft Chess sets, and creating gifts for the family.

Minecraft 3D Printed Chess Set

Here's some of my 3D Printing posts so far:

It's been extremely reliable. Some folks complain that the Dremel system and software is proprietary, but it's very easy to use. Additionally, if you really don't like their custom software, companies like Simplify3D have Dremel support built right in. You can also use third party filament like Proto-pasta with great success. We even extended the Dremel with a custom 3D printed spool adapter for Proto-pasta and upgraded nozzle and build plate. It's been fantastically reliable and I recommend the Dremel highly.

littleBits Electronics Gizmos and Gadgets

LittleBits are a more expensive than Snap Circuits, but they operate at a higher level of abstraction. While Snap Circuits will teach you about resistors and current and voltage, litlteBits is more oriented towards System Thinking. The littleBits Electronics Gizmos & Gadgets kit is massive and has kept my kids entertained for the last few weeks. It includes motors, wheels, lights, switches, servos, buzzers even a remote control. In fact, the remote control lets you remote any signal and make any gadget you come up with a wireless one.

littleBits

LittleBits also has a LEGO compatibility system which, while a little persnickety, has allowed the kids to create remote controlled LEGO cars in minutes. They are very expandable and everything is modular. You can build more with additional kits, or you can get just one sensor or that one motor that you need.

The HP Stream 11.6 Laptop

First, let's be serious. The HP Stream is a $199 laptop with an 11.6" screen. Surprisingly, you can get a 13.3" screen for just $210. But on the real, it's not for office workers. It's not even for you. It's for the kids in your life. It's a good, solid, beginner laptop for kids. 2 gigs of ram, and a very modest 1.6 Ghz processor with just a 1366x768 screen, it runs Windows 10 pretty well, in fact and even includes Office 365 Personal for a year (that's Word, Excel, etc).

HP Stream 11.6" Laptop

I've even heard a parent call the HP Stream the "Minecraft Laptop." My sons took a week-long summer school Minecraft class with a room filled with these little laptops and they did just fine. It has just a 32gig SSD for a hard drive, but for <$20 you can add and drop in a 64gig SD Card and tell Windows 10 to put downloaded apps onto the SD Card directly.

This is a great machine for <$200 that you can feel comfortable giving to an 8 year old or tween and teach them how to code.

Raspberry Pi (any kind!)

Little boys on the Raspberry Pi

Every STEM house should have a Raspberry Pi or six! We've got 4? Or 5? They end up living inside robots, or taped to the garage door, or running SCUMMVM Game Emulators, or powering DIY GameBoys.

I recommend a complete Raspberry Pi Kit when you're just getting started as it guarantees you'll be up and running in minutes. They include the SD Card (acts as a hard drive), a power supply, a case, etc. All you need to provide is a USB Keyboard and Mouse. I ended up getting a cheap Mini USB wired keyboard and cheap USB wired mouse for simplicity.

Raspberry Pis will give you back as much as you can put into them. While you can treat it as a very low-powered browser or basic machine, you should really explore the breadth of projects you can make with a Raspberry Pi. Sure, the kids can learn Scratch or Python, but they can also build Raspberry Pi Robots or run a version of Windows 10 and play with C#. They can add their own electronics, lights, sounds, make radios, and more.

If you want to save money, get just a Raspberry Pi alone for <$40 and use a micro-USB Cell Phone Power Supply, and whatever electronics you have around the house. Once I took a local kid to Goodwill (a thrift store) and we found the power supply, mouse, keyboard, AND LCD Monitor all in the electronics junk pile of the store for $25 total.

OWI Robotic Arm Edge

The OWI Robotic Arm Edge isn't a kit but it's a reasonably priced robotic arm to get kids thinking in terms of command and control and multiple dimensions. OWI also has a cool 3in1 robot RC kit if you prefer driving robots around and more "rebuildability."

OWI Robotic Arm Edge

What educational toys do YOU recommend this holiday season?

FYI: These Amazon links are referral links. When you use them I get a tiny percentage. It adds up to taco money for me and the kids! I appreciate you - and you appreciate me-  when you use these links to buy stuff.


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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The Crowdsourcing of Software Quality

November 12, '15 Comments [55] Posted in Musings
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Stock photo used under CC from WoCinTechChat's "stock photos of women of color in tech"

I posted a rant back in 2012 called "Everything's broken and nobody's upset." Here's another. Lots of people commented on that first post and a number agreed with the general premise. Some were angry and thought that I was picking on particular companies or groups. Sure, it's easy to throw stones, and criticism is a great example of stone throwing. So, in the years since I posted I made a concerted and focused effort on a personal level to report bugs. By this, I mean, I REPORT BUGS. I take screencasts or videos, I email reproductions (repros) and I fill bug issues anywhere and anytime I can because a Bug Report is a Gift.

Fast forward a few years, and I think that we as an industry are perhaps still headed in the wrong way.

Technology companies are outsourcing QA to the customer and we're doing it using frequent updates as an excuse.

This statement isn't specific to Apple, Google, Microsoft or any one organization. It's specific to ALL organizations. The App Store make it easy to update apps. Web Sites are even worse. How often have you been told "clear your cache" which is the 2015 equivalent to "did you turn it on and off again?"

It's too easy to ship crap and it's too easy to update that crap. When I started in software we were lucky to ship every 6 to 9 months. Some places ship every year or two, and others still ship once.

I see folks misusing Scrum and using it as an excuse to be sloppy. They'll add lots of telemetry and use it as an excuse to avoid testing. The excitement and momentum around Unit Testing in the early 2000s has largely taken a back seat to renewed enthusiasm around Continuous Deployment.

But it's not just the fault of technology organizations, is it? It's also our fault - the users. We want it now and we like it beta. We look at software like iOS6 and say "it feels dated." I even overheard someone recently say that iOS9 felt visually dated. It JUST came out. Do we really have to restyle our sites and reship our apps every few months to satisfy a finicky public?

As with many rants, there isn't a good conclusion. I think it's clear this is happening. The question for you, Dear Reader, is do you agree? Do you see it in in your own organization and in the software and hardware that you use every day? Is the advent of the evergreen browser and the always updated phone a good thing or a bad thing?

Sound off in the comments.


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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The Butterfly Effect of Technology Community

September 4, '15 Comments [16] Posted in Musings
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Butterfly Effect by Rhett Maxwell used under CC

The Butterfly Effect is everywhere, truly. The best part is, due to confirmation bias, once you start looking for it you'll see it everywhere. ;)

The Butterfly Effect: This effect grants the power to cause a hurricane in China to a butterfly flapping its wings in New Mexico. It may take a very long time, but the connection is real. If the butterfly had not flapped its wings at just the right point in space/time, the hurricane would not have happened. - Chaos Theory

If you see something cool, share it. If you learn something interesting, share it, and share it in multiple ways. Even a small thing can add up to a big payoff.

I got a great email from a reader this week from Neil of TheSmartFinish. Neil has a small business doing woodworking for connected homes and creates decorative mounts for Nest Thermostats. I have a Nest so Neil reached out to share what he's created.

I tweeted about it. A tiny thing, to be clear. I don't tweet about everything, and I DO get a lot of requests for tweets. My tweets are at my discretion, and I read about it, and shared it.

After a while I thought that Nest should be featuring his stuff themselves. A random tweet from me only goes so far, so I publically told @nest they should feature/RT Neil's stuff. At this point, my butterfly has flapped its wings and I've moved on.


Fast forward and I get the email from Neil. These tweets got some attention and @nest DID actually tweet about him!


This gave him valuable legitimacy and ultimately there was a great article on his project at VentureBeat. Other than the poor title as there are no "ex-marines" - Meet the ex-marine who builds artisanal mounts for connected homes - it's a cool write-up. Now his business is starting to get some new visibility, which is great!

Why am I sharing this story? Absolutely not to toot any horns - certainly not mine - but rather to remind us all about the power of the little things.

I've received hundreds of emails over the last few years with folks sharing stories about "I read this and it got me thinking about" or "listening to this podcast made me quit my job and move overseas" or "my spouse and I were inspired by this post and I switched jobs" and on and on. One reader started a Diabetes non-profit after reading a blog post. Another changed her job and has moved into an industry she really believes in. You might tweet a job opening but never realize that it was the beginning of a move across the country for someone you'll never meet!

I'm a firm believer of the idea that if you put good out there, good stuff will happen. What we do with our tweets, blogs, presentations, podcasts, and books is tiny. We fly our little butterfly wings and try to influence and motivate. What's really amazing are the powerful hurricanes that YOU, Dear Reader, harness for positive change in your life and in the lives of others.

Please, share your Butterfly Effect Stories in the comments! What small things have propelled a huge change in your life?

* Butterfly Effect Photo by Rhett Maxwell used under CC


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Our great big 15 year vow renewal

September 1, '15 Comments [24] Posted in Musings
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Mo at the first weddingYou may have noticed that I'm on vacation these last few weeks. It's the first vacation of any length I've had in a while. In fact, I do have trouble disconnecting sometimes.

I've mentioned before that my wife and I have gotten married a few times. As my wife is a Zimbabwean there was the matter of lobola and a judge wedding, a white wedding, a wedding in Zim, and on and on. We like weddings.

My friend said that my wife and I are the "most gettingmarriedest people" she knows. I think everyone should get married at least a few times, and even better if it's to the same person over and over. ;)

This vacation was our 15 year anniversary so we decided to get married again! We organized a 15 year vow renewal and invited a ton of people. Folks came from South Africa, Haiti, New York, LA, Washington, and all points in between. We had a blast, we ate, we danced, we talked for hours. We put together a retrospective photoshow and a Spotify Playlist (some songs aren't available or are local MP3s) that is representative of our diverse tastes and the last decade and a half.

Last one! Dances at our 15yr vow renewal? Cha Cha slide, Nae Nae, Whip, Cupid Shuffle, Azonto...

A photo posted by Scott Hanselman (@shanselman) on

Our 15 year vow renewal cake

A photo posted by Scott Hanselman (@shanselman) on

Our wedding party at our 15 year vow renewal!

A photo posted by Scott Hanselman (@shanselman) on

Podcasts

I'd also encourage you to check out the two episodes of The Hanselminutes Podcast where my wife joined me.

And yes, I know the book http://www.relationshiphacks.com is insanely late. It's paused, but it's in my mind. We have 6 chapters and have shopped it around and I just need to take another vacation and get the remaining chapters out of my head. Sorry.


Sponsor: Many thanks to Accusoft for sponsoring the feed this week. If you haven’t yet, check out their Prizm Content Connect, an HTML5 document viewer that allows you to view and edit documents directly in your browser.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.