Scott Hanselman

Forgotten (but Awesome) Windows Command Prompt Features

June 20, '16 Comments [53] Posted in Musings
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It's always the little throwaway tweets that go picked up. Not the ones that we agonize over. I was doing some work at the command line and typed "dotnet --version | clip" to copy the .NET Core version number into the clipboard. Then I tweeted a little "hey, remember this great utility?" and then the plane took off. I landed two hours later and it had over 500 RTs. Madness.

It's funny that 10 year old command prompt utility (this was added in Vista) that everyone's forgotten elicits such an enthusiastic response.

Since you all love that stuff, here's a few other "forgotten command prompt features."

Some of these have been in Windows since, well, DOS. Others were added in Windows 10. What did I miss? Sound off in the comments.

Pipe command output to the clipboard

In Vista they added clip.exe. It captures any standard input and puts in the clipboard.

That means you can

  • dir /s | clip
  • ver | clip
  • ipconfig /all | clip

You get the idea.

Piping to Clip.exe puts the standard output in your clipboard

F7 gives you a graphical (text) history

If you have already typed a few commands, you can press F7 to get an ANSI popup with a list of commands you've typed. 4DOS anyone?

More people should press F7

Transparent Command Prompt

After Windows 10, you can make the Command Prompt transparent!

It's see through

Full Screen Command Prompt

Pressing "ALT-ENTER" in the command prompt (any prompt, cmd, powershell, or bash) will make it full screen. I like to put my command prompt on another virtual desktop and then use CTRL-WIN-ARROWS to move between them.

The Windows 10 Command Prompt supports ANSI natively.

The cmd.exe (conhost in Windows 10 1511+, actually) now supports ANSI directly. Which means BBS Ansi Art, of course.

Word wrapping

Oh, and the Windows 10 command prompt supports active word wrapping and resizing. It's about time.

Little Fit and Finish Commands

  • You can change the current command prompt's title with "TITLE"
  • You can change its size with MODE CON COLS=x LINES=y
  • You can change the colors from a batch file with COLOR (hex)

What did I miss?


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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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Stop saying learning to code is easy.

June 18, '16 Comments [70] Posted in Musings
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WoC in Tech Stock Photos used under CC

(The photo above was taken at the Microsoft NYC office of three amazing young developers working on their apps.)

I saw this tweet after the Apple WWDC keynote and had thought the same thing. Hang on, programming is hard. Rewarding, sure. Interesting, totally. But "easy" sets folks up for failure and a lifetime of self-doubt.

When we tell folks - kids or otherwise - that programming is easy, what will they think when it gets difficult? And it will get difficult. That's where people find themselves saying "well, I guess I'm not wired for coding. It's just not for me."

Now, to be clear, that may be the case. I'm arguing that if we as an industry go around telling everyone that "coding is easy" we are just prepping folks for self-exclusion, rather than enabling a growing and inclusive community. That's the goal right? Let's get more folks into computers, but let's set their expectations.

Here, I'll try to level set. Hey you! People learning to code!

  • Programming is hard.
  • It's complicated.
  • It's exhausting.
  • It's exasperating.
  • Some things will totally make sense to you and some won't. I'm looking at you, RegEx.
  • The documentation usually sucks.
  • Sometimes computers are stupid and crash.

But.

  • You'll meet amazing people who will mentor you.
  • You'll feel powerful and create things you never thought possible.
  • You'll better understand the tech world around you.
  • You'll try new tools and build your own personal toolkit.
  • Sometimes you'll just wake up with the answer.
  • You'll start to "see" how systems fit together.
  • Over the years you'll learn about the history of computers and how we are all standing on the shoulders of giants.

It's rewarding. It's empowering. It's worthwhile.

And you can do it. Stick with it. Join positive communities. Read code. Watch videos about code.

Try new languages! Maybe the language you learned first isn't the "programming language of your soul."

Learning to programming is NOT easy but it's totally possible. You can do it.

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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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Is technology killing curiosity?

June 1, '16 Comments [88] Posted in Musings
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Photo via WoCinTechChat used under Creative Commons

I was talking with Kishau Rogers this week at a Hackathon we were helping with at The White House for ThinkOfUs. (See how I dropped The White House in there like it was nothing? It was everything. More on that later.)

You'll remember Kishau from her excellent podcast where she proposed that we should NOT teach kids how to code...but rather we need to teach kids (and people) how to think about systems. Folks just don't know how stuff works. Maybe we're old(er) but we found ourselves asking, is tech killing curiosity? This post has more questions than answers, so I hope you sound off in the comments!

I have this glorious pocket super computer with me now. It connects to all the world's collected knowledge, has an advanced battery, radio transmitter, and so much more. But most people have no idea how it works? Yes, technically you don't have to know how it works, but aren't you curious?

We can make lists about how "there's two kinds of people in the world" and split them up into techie and non-techie, or computer literate or non-computer literate...but I'm thinking it's simpler. There's the curious and the not-curious.

I took apart my toaster, my remote control, and a clock-radio telephone before I was 10. Didn't you? What's the difference between the people that take toasters apart and the folks that just want toast? At what point do kids or young adults stop asking "how does it work?"

As each new layer of abstraction becomes indistinguishable from magic we may be quietly killing curiosity. Or shifting its focus. Is the stack so deep now that we can't know everything?

There's a great interview question I love to give. "When you type foo.com into a browser, what happens? Then what happens? Then what happens?" I ask this question not because I care how deep you can go; I ask because I care how deep you care to go. Where does your interest stop? How do you THINK it works? Where does technology end and where does the magic (for you) begin? HTTP? TCP? DNS? Voltage on a wire? Registers in chips? Quantum effects?

I do an Exploring Engineering class at local colleges each year. I love to open up a text file, type the alphabet, then open that text file in a hex editor and go "hey, the letter 'a' is 61 in ASCII, why?" Then I add a carriage return/line feed (13/10) and ask a room of confused 18 year olds "what's a carriage and why does it need to return?" I take a record player in and talk about the similarities between how it works versus how a hard drive or blu ray works. I see where the conversation takes the class. Inevitably the most engaged kids (regardless of their actual knowlegde) will end up being great engineering candidates. But where did their curiosity come from?

Perhaps curiosity is an innate thing, perhaps it's taught and encouraged, but more likely it's a little of both. I hope that you're stretching yourself and others to ask more questions and explore the how and why of the world around you.

What do you think? Is 21st century technology making it too easy? Are iPhones so magical sitting atop the last millennium of technology that it's not worth teaching - or even wondering - how it all fits together?


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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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10 years and over 520 episodes of podcasting - Tech is a marathon, not a sprint

May 12, '16 Comments [35] Posted in Musings
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I try not to be prideful, as a rule, but darnit, I'm REALLY proud of my podcast. As of this writing I've done 526 episodes. Each one 30 minutes long. Every Thursday, for the last decade. That's over 250 hours of technology talk that promises not to waste your time.

I started Hanselminutes: Fresh Air for Developers almost as a joke. Podcasting was just starting up and I felt at the time that it was largely kind of a vapid copy of talk radio. Hours of directionless rambling. I said to my buddy Carl Franklin that a show shouldn't waste your time and force you to fast-forward 20 minutes in to get to the meat. He said, you should start a show. I laughed, and I did.

HanselminutesOver 10 years later, here we are, having built a significant piece of creative, informational, and pseudo-journalistic work. While other podcasts come and go, many with the "two dudes on Skype" format, I've chugged along. While I do over a million downloads a year, I've never cracked into any mainstream technology podcasting charts or iTunes Top Ten. I think about that sometimes, a little bummed, but I realize that this show and it's content is as much for me as it is for you, Dear Listener. This isn't a popularity contest...as much as one can appreciate recognition.

I talk to anyone and everyone about all things tech. The show started before I went to work at Microsoft and will continue long after, I'm sure. It's a non-denominational technology show.

The show also aims to be intentionally inclusive without being heavy-handed. Showcasing diversity in technology isn't about "hey, we need a Black guy this week, know anyone?" That's insulting to everyone. Instead, I've cultivated an amazing network of amazing people from all over the world, and I talk to them about what they love to do. This has some wonderful side effects when recently without planning, 7 of the last 8 shows featured women!

The faces on this archive page go on and on. I'd encourage you to scroll and explore the wall of topics. There's hundreds of highlights, but here's a few favorites:

I am also proud of the show talking to people before (sometimes) they went mainstream or got famous. From interviews with Tim Ferriss in 2007, Kimberly Bryant from BlackGirlsCode in 2012Baratunde Thurston in 2010, Dr. Michio Kaku, author Lauren Beukes, as well as the now legendary show on Geek Relationship Tips with my wife, I've got you covered! You'll often hear it here first.

We were also one of the first podcasts to have a transcriptions/PDFs of the show for the hard of hearing and folks who like to read along while they listen. I struggle with keeping transcripts up to date and we're about a year behind but I'm looking for sustainable solutions. I'd like to get the transcripts available in HTML and posted on the side next to the shows so they'd be more easily searchable.

I want to thank you and remind you and yours that the show exists and continues weekly in earnest, every week with amazing topics and powerful guests. Above all, don't just keep listening, but please, share episodes socially and do encourage your friends and colleagues to listen and subscribe. Your letters and your kindness (as well as your guest suggestions) keep me going.

THE HANSELMINUTES PODCAST: Fresh Air for Developers

Thanks everyone for your support and help over the last decade. Here's to another ten years, eh?


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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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Chatting with Prince on AOL in 1999 - "this way is modern"

April 24, '16 Comments [19] Posted in Musings
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Erica Kennedy chats with Prince on AOL in 1999Before the Internet as we know it today, before social media, there was AOL. Specifically there was AOL chat rooms. The digital world was smaller but Prince was always there. He was so ahead of his time digitally. The Purple One did group chats with fans all the time on AOL. A "room" in AOL chat parlance was like a Twitter DM - a private chat room.

Six years ago my friend Erica Kennedy and I were talking about what she was going to write for her next book. She had just released her second book, Feminista, and was pretty well known for her first book, Bling that satirized the music industry that she came up in. We had the idea of  a Kindle Single detailing her interactions with Prince while she was working on a profile for InStyle Magazine. You can see photos of Prince's Spanish Villa and a few lines of Erica's AOL chats with Prince over at InStyle now.

This is the AOL chat log detailing her interactions with Prince that Erica emailed me while we were planning her novella.

Here, of course, "NPG---" was Prince's private AOL chat handle at that time while Ekj4 is Erica. I have kept all the typos exactly as they occurred in 1999.

Erica K to me - u r the 1st person 2 c this outside of the N style staff.

NPG---:   high
Ekj4:       hi 2 u
NPG---:  is ur last name kennedy?
Ekj4:       no it's my middle name that i use for writing, trying to stay on the dl
NPG---:  r u alone?
Ekj4:       sure am
NPG---:  have u ever spoke in private chat space?
Ekj4:       all the time!
Ekj4:       i'm a terrible typist though
NPG---:  would u like 2 go a room?
Ekj4:       what room? what's wrong with this way?
NPG---:  don't like
Ekj4:       ok, where's the room?
NPG---:  it's called...
NPG---:  amatteroftime
Ekj4:       how do i get THERE?
NPG---:  use the icon that says....people
NPG---:  c it?
Ekj4:       yes. and...
NPG---:  start ur own chat
NPG---:  private
NPG---:  type in the space....amatteroftime
Ekj4:       is it only going to be u and i?
NPG---:  yes
Ekj4:       ok
NPG---:  scared?
Ekj4:       no
NPG---:  yea,right!
NPG---:  r u there?
Ekj4:       yep
 
IN THE PRIVATE CHAT ROOM
NPG ---: is ur hair done?
EKJ4:       it’s up in a ponytail and truth be told, it’s lookin’ kinda busted.
NPG---:  lol!
EKJ:        my hair doesn’t have the bounce of your ‘do.
NPG---:  do u stay up late?
EKJ:        24-7.  Actaully more like 20-7.
NPG---:  good.
EKJ:        y?
NPG---:  my flight gets in at 1 am
EKJ:        great, ur  coming 2 ny?  u want me 2 meet u at 2?
NPG---:  I can send a car 4 u
NPG---:  if u like
Ekj4:       yes, that would be great. don’t have a sister trying to hail a cab in crooklyn at all hours.
NPG ---:  r u a sista?
Ekj4:        haven't we been over this?  u will c
NPG---:   what do u look like?
NPG---:   describe urself!
Ekj4:        i'm skinny
NPG---:   u eat meat?
Ekj4:        on occasion
NPG---:   then y r u skinny?
Ekj4:        just got it like that
NPG---:   skinny parents
Ekj4:        i actually eat way too much junk food
Ekj4:        i'm skinnier than everyone in my family
NPG---:   do u think we could complete an interview like this?
Ekj4:        no, we cannot do the interview this way, but doesn't matter. u'll be here in a minute
NPG---:   y
NPG---:   then u have direct quotes

but this way is modern

Ekj4:        it neesd to be face to face
NPG---:   y?
Ekj4:        yes, but i have to set the scene. you get better feeling about the person that way
Ekj4:        anyway, this could be aaron for all i know.
NPG---:   but this way is modern
Ekj4:        yes, it is. i love to chat online
NPG---:   eye am not a liar
NPG---:   this way is cooler
NPG---:   and eye don't get motion sickness
Ekj4:        so u think we will just have some time tonight or would you be down to...
Ekj4:        hang over the weekend if i need more time?
Ekj4:        ur not going to be all drowsy, r u?
NPG---:   eye have 2 fly 2 oakland
NPG---:   2morrow
Ekj4:        for what? the all star game?
NPG---:   eye am never drowsy
NPG---:   yes ...the game
Ekj4:        u r going?
Ekj4:        i watch all teh games. i love the t-wolves and kg
Ekj4:        but i root for the knicks
NPG---:   eye maybe cannot go if eye go 2 new york
NPG---:   2 much flying makes me barf
Ekj4:        npg---, u sleepin'?
NPG---:   eye wanna c the slam dunk competition up close
Ekj4:         is kg in it?
NPG---:   no doubt
Ekj4:        you hang with him in minn?
NPG---:   if u were me...would u fly thamuch
Ekj4:        no i don't like to fly that much.  the loss of control and everything
Ekj4:        y ru coming here for 1 day? to do the interview?
NPG---:   yes, eye am coming unless u allow me 2 do something cooler
Ekj4:        i think u should come
NPG---:   eu
Ekj4:        eu?
NPG---:   do u know what that means
Ekj4:        please explain
NPG---:   this:
NPG---:   :P*******
NPG---:   me barfing
Ekj4:        lol!!!!
Ekj4:        why r u barfing?
NPG---:   HEY,not so loud!
Ekj4:        so r u coming or not?
NPG---:   yes, eu
Ekj4:        GREAT!

u type like me

NPG---:   we will call when eye ge there
Ekj4:        1derful
NPG---:   u type like me
Ekj4:        now that u have my e-mail, don't send me any spam!
Ekj4:        chain letters and nonsense
NPG---:   won't send u any mail
NPG---:   ever
NPG---:   many people use this screenname...
Ekj4:        ok, npg---
NPG---:   it's secret, so don't divulge it, ok?
Ekj4:        oh, good so you can maintain your privacy. of course, bro
NPG---:   ever go 2 prince. org?
Ekj4:        can't say that i have. do u?
NPG---:   once or twice
NPG---:   interesting?
NPG---:   yes
Ekj4:        i don't think i would like 2 c what random people r saying about me
NPG---:   sometimes it is funny
Ekj4:        taht would be strange but i guess you have become accustomed 2 it
NPG---:   yes
NPG---:   so, eye must go and pack, then
NPG---:   bye bye
NPG---:   c u 2night
Ekj4:        c ya later, inshallah
NPG---:   peace

I loved these chats because they are a reminder that our legends are also real people. He loved technology, Prince started YesWeCode with Van Jones to inspire more Black Youth to get involved in tech.

I talked to Erica on the phone just two day before she passed away. I miss our regular talks and her energy but most of all I miss my friend.  Prince is gone now as well, and even though he was a legend he was also a real human who loved people. He was a tech visionary who appreciated very early on how technology could bring us all together.

20 years later Prince would still reply to fans directly on Twitter (and often delete the tweets, adding to his air of mystery.) He was known to even engage in lengthy private DMs with fans and superfans.

I love what InStyle said about these Prince's AOL chats.

Internet chat from a rock star looks like Internet chat from anybody else.

I miss you two and what you brought to our lives. I'm glad we have your legacy and your work to remember you by.

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.