Scott Hanselman

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

April 24, '16 Comments [6] 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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Give yourself permission to have work-life balance

April 13, '16 Comments [26] Posted in Musings
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Stock photos by #WOCTechChat used with Attribution

I was having a chat with a new friend today and we were exchanging stories about being working parents. I struggle with kids' schedules, days off school I failed to plan for, unexpected things (cars break down, kids get sick, life happens) while simultaneously trying to "do my job."

I put do my job there in quotes because sometimes it is in quotes. Sometimes everything is great and we're firing on all cylinders, while other times we're barely keeping our heads above water. My friend indicated that she struggled with all these things and more but she expressed surprise that *I* did. We all do and we shouldn't be afraid to tell people that. My life isn't my job. At least, my goal is that my life isn't my job.

Why are you in the race?

We talked a while and we decided that our lives and our careers are a marathon, not a giant sprint. Burning out early helps no one. WHY are we running? What are we running towards? Are you trying to get promoted, a better title, more money for your family, an early retirement, good healthcare? Ask yourself these questions so you at least know and you're conscious about your motivations. Sometimes we forget WHY we work.

Saying no is so powerful and it isn't something you can easily learn and just stick with - you have to remind yourself it's OK to to say no every day. I know what MY goals are and why I'm in this industry. I have the conscious ability to prioritize and allocate my time. I start every week thinking about priorities, and I look back on my week and ask myself "how did that go?" Then I optimized for the next week and try again.

Sometimes Raw Effort doesn't translate to Huge Effect.

She needed to give herself permission to NOT give work 100%. Maybe 80% it OK. Heck, maybe 40%. The trick was to be conscious about it, rather than trying to give 100% twice.

Yes, there are consequences. Perhaps you won't get promoted. Perhaps your boss will say you're not giving 110%. But you'll avoid burnout and be happier and perhaps accomplish more over the long haul than the short. 

Work Life

Look, I realize that I'm privileged here. There's a whole knapsack of privilege to unpack, but if you're working in tech you likely have some flexibility. I'm proposing that you at least pause a moment and consider it...consider using it. Consider where your work-life balance slider bar is set and see what you can say no to, and try saying yes to yourself.

I love this quote by Christopher Hawkins that I've modified by making a blank space for YOU to fill out:

"If it’s not helping me to _____ _____, if it’s not improving my life in some way, it’s mental clutter and it's out." - Christopher Hawkins

The Red Queen's Race

Are you running because everyone around you is running? You don't always need to compare yourself to other people. This is another place where giving yourself permission is important.

"Well, in our country," said Alice, still panting a little, "you'd generally get to somewhere else—if you run very fast for a long time, as we've been doing."

"A slow sort of country!" said the Queen. "Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!" - Red Queen's Race

There's lots of people I admire, but I'm not willing to move to LA to become Ryan Reynolds (he stole my career!) and I'm not willing to work as hard as Mark Russinovich (he stole my hair!) so I'm going to focus on being the best me I can be.

What are you doing to balance and avoid burnout?

* Stock photo by #WOCTechChat used with Attribution


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

December 18, '15 Comments [18] 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 [27] 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 [52] 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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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.