Scott Hanselman

Two good things this weekend...movies and spam

September 28, '03 Comments [1] Posted in Movies | Web Services
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Two cool things this weekend....

One, saw The Rundown which is probably the most all around fun I've had at a movie in years.  Probably since the Matrix (the first one).  I'm a bit of a gourmand when it comes to cinema, and certainly there have been lots of great movies in the last few years, but name one that you walked out of saying "That was so fun!"  I recommend it highly.

Two, I hooked up all my emails (and my family's) with the SpamSoap service and I'm LOVING it.  It's and interesting hack.  There appear to be a range of anti-spam solutions for the Home or Home-Office out there that fall into some basic categories, and those categories are organized by "tier". 

  • Client - catch it as it shows up with SpamBayes, SpamNet, OfficeMavin, etc.  Also, Outlook 2003 has quite good Junk Mail filtering built in, and allows you to whitelist at the client side.
  • Server - actively run a spam filter on your server (if you control your mail server) and while you still have to download the spam (so the spam actually uses YOUR bandwidth) it can be caught before you or your users download it.
  • Server with Human Interaction - I almost decided on a solution like SpamArrest.  Basically, if someone emails you, the get an immediate bounceback email that tells them that you hate spam, and if they are really a human, would they please enter in the words that appear in this obfuscated image to prove it.  If they are a human, their email gets delivered and they are added automatically to your whitelist. 
  • MX Record - Since I don't control my mail server (ORSCWeb does) and I don't want to, I wanted a server-side solution that was in the "chain" of email processing, but not email client-specific. So I modified the MX record to point to the SpamSoap service (they offer a 30 day trial).  My DNS's MX record usually points to my mail server.  Now it points to SpamSoap, who receives my email for me, scans it, and redirects spam to a special "spambox" while real email moves along unmolested.  Here's an interesting article about "Fighting Spam with DNS."

It actually worked so well in the first few hours that I thought my mail was broken.  I had never hit "Send/Receive" and NOT received SOMETHING.  Here I was hitting F5 wondering if I'd messed it up.  Then, a legitimate email showed up.  Boom.  Very nice.  Since I turned it on Weds, I've NOT downloaded over 1500 spams. 

It's a shame that a service like this is almost required (for your sanity) but it's also a joy when it works so smoothly.

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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A great day/night of coding...best one in years

September 27, '03 Comments [6] Posted in ASP.NET | Internationalization | XML
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It's 12:18am and I'm hopped up on at least 96 ounces of Diet Pepsi and vibrating with the excitement that you only get after a 15-hour-marathon-coding-just-one-more-method session.  Having a blast, or hooked on crack?  You decide.

Here's what I'm hip deep in and did today:

  • Cookieless Forms Authentication - You may have noticed that FormsAuthentication still makes Cookies even when SessionState is set to Cookieless=true.  No longer, for me at least.
  • ASP.NET Internationalization - I completely refactored LocalizedPage with input from Chris Kinsman, Chris Brooks, Bradley McLain and Alex Ginos.  Thanks guys! 
  • With inspiration from Clemens, I'm all over SOA and trying to reconcile those things about OOP that don't jive in a SOA world. 
  • XmlSerialization - I am consistantly imressed with how slick XmlSerialization is in .NET for a "1.0" attempt. 
  • Log4net - Very sweet.  I'm glad I took the time to set it up.  I encapsulated it and will be writing some Corillian-specific Appenders, but it got me 90% of the way there.  It's the cat's pajamas.
  • ObjectBinding - Binding objects to ASP.NET DataGrids is a hassle, but if you put the effort into it by making Strongly Typed Collections (Thanks QuickCode.NET!) and including public properties for those things you wish to bind, it DOES make life easier for the UI Programmers.  Also, I've decided I really prefer dealing with strongly typed objects instead of DataSets (strongly typed or otherwise).
  • XSD.exe - is nice, but just not smart enough.  For a fairly complex Xml InfoSet I still have to put about 15-30 minutes of just typing to get the autogenerated .CS files to include property getters for DataBinding, better XmlElement andn Variable naming choices and the whole [XmlIgnore] strongly-typed-collection-with-parallel-array trick.  It's time to move this crap to a code generator.  I'd like to either:
    • Find a smarter XSD.exe
    • Write an uber-xslt that takes XSDs and gen the code
    • Perhaps CodeSmith?
    • Geez, I can't wait until Templates.  Oy.

What current code generator is the best for taking XML input and making code? Comments please...

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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Google plus MapPoint = GooPoint? Mapgle?

September 25, '03 Comments [2] Posted in Musings
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Well, this is an interesting development at Google Labs.

http://labs.google.com/location?q=professional+developers+conference&geo_near=los+angeles%2C+ca&Search=Google+Search

I was wondering when this was going to happen.  I'll need to use it a few times to see if it's as useful as it sounds, but it's surely a good example of why Google is (and will continue to be?) on top.

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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PDC. I'm ready for a revolution. Impress me. Blow me away.

September 25, '03 Comments [3] Posted in Speaking | PDC
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I'm ready for a change.  I'm ready to be impressed.  If you know me, I'm all about Microsoft.  I dig them, their tech, especially their people.  While I've worked in Java on Solaris talking to Mainframes, I really cut my teeth on writing thunking code during the 16-bit/32-bit transition.  I know I'm not an "old timer."  I've never seen a punch card. (Although I've read Cryptonomicon. ;) )  I'm Generation X or Y, not Generation U or V.

I'm from a middle place.  I'm younger than some, but older than others.  I've coded on TRS-80s, TI99/4a, C64 and Apple.  I've used 8" floppies.  I've lived in DOS from >= version 3.  I've run NeXT, Amiga, GEOS, CP/M, OS/2, Desqview, Windows 3.0, 3.1, 3.11.  I've run SnowballChicago, Nashville and Memphis, worked in Daytona and Cario.  I love Whistler, look forward to Longhorn and really don't understand how Blackcomb fits in.  I scored 60.85% on the geek test.  No doubt, you and I are alike.

I was on AOL 1.0, Compuserve, GEnie, Prodigy, all from DOS.  I've surfed with Lynx, read mail with pine.  I ran Mosaic, I now run Firebird. I ran vi, emacs, pico, PaperClip, WordStar, WP5.1, and Office 2003 Beta

I had 8k of RAM and now I have 1.5 gigs of RAM.  I had no hard drive, then a Winchester Hard Drive, now I have 425+ Gigabytes at my desk.  I had a keyboard, then a mouse, then a mouse with two buttons, now a wireless mouse and keyboard with 5 buttons and a scrolly-thing.

I remember Shift-F7 would print in Wordperfect, I'm not sure why I haven't overwritten that mental cluster with more useful information.  Certainly I've at least marked the braincell for deletion with the first character as E5h or something.  Now I have a GUI, which brings me the the point of this rant.  I certainly haven't seen it all, but darnit I've seen some of it.

I admit it, while I'm privvy to many a Microsoft Pre-Alpha, I have not seen anything of Lornhorn's "real" UI, nor what I'm really interested in - Avalon

If you do one thing before you go to PDC - look at the demos of Mac OS X's Panther.  What I want is for Avalon to blow this away.  I want to be impressed.  I want a WHOLE new world.  I want to see some Microsoft UI Research and Usability to really come to a dramatic fruition.  I know Avalon is a next-gen graphics subsystem, but I want to see what totally new UI paradigms (read: moving past Windowing and the Start Menu) can be built on it.  I want to make my 256 meg Video Card dual-head Video Card WORK.

I'm coming to PDC thoroughly hoping and expecting to be impressed with the promise of the future.  Am I impatiently expecting a revolution in UI, while Avalon may be a just stepping stone on the way to...?

Will I be disappointed? 

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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Anti-Things you must install on your fresh Windows box

September 23, '03 Comments [5] Posted in Tools | Web Services
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There's nothing quite like the smell of a fresh Windows box.  After that first reboot, seeing that clean, smooth desktop brings a tear to my one good eye.  Everything is possible with a fresh Windows box.  Everything runs faster with a fresh Windows box.

Then I plug into the network and I'm immediately attacked by Popup Ads, Gator (evil), DoS attacks, Messenger Service Popups, HTTP requests for /system32/cmd.exe and clever neighbors trying to print to my printer. 

How should we protect our fresh Windows boxes, these new fawns, just before we hurl them into the abyss?

Well, here's the first things I put on ANY Windows box.  This is the "don't leave home without 'em" list.  This is the "You're not seriously going out without your _______" list. 

"Anti"-Things you must install on your fresh Windows box in the 21st century

  1. Firewall
    At a minimum, enable the Windows XP built in firewall.  This will protect you from MSBlast (which I removed off half a dozen relative's computers).  Other folks use Tiny Personal Firewall, and others, but if you're serious (and you love your family) just buy ZoneAlarm Pro.
  2. Anti-Virus
    In the old days, (last year) you could be clever and avoid viruses.  Don't open anything, don't talk to anyone.  But now, with attachments being sent to my Mom with names like babypics.jpg.exe, I just can't trust her to be THAT clever.  Heck, I don't know if I am that clever.  I use either Panda, ETrust, or Norton...but my preference is Norton.
  3. Anti-Spyware
    The #1 least understood problem on PCs today, IMHO, is spyware/malware/scumware.  A friend of mine visited recently from Malaysia and brought his laptop.  He's a technical guy, and a developer, but he was complaining of weird popups and odd behavior in his browser during development.  We ran Ad-Aware and counted up 357 different components of spyware.  He had at least 20 different evil (but not viruses!) bits on his box, including CometCursor, Gator, SafeCast, Hotbar, and a particuarly evil bit of spyware that actually chained and appeared in the TCP/IP Properties and literally sniffed traffic at the protocol level.  I install Ad-Aware and run it on Startup.
  4. Anti-Spam
    Everyone has their favorite, but I recommend SpamNet, it's like Napster for getting rid of Spam.  When you block a spam message with SpamNet you are "voting" for that message as Spam.  The more people vote, the more accurate SpamNet gets.  It's at least 99% with VERY few false positives, since actual humans are involved.  On the server-side for a Spam solution, I'm going to check out SPAMSoap.  I'll just change the MX record on my mail server, and mail will route through SPAMSoap first, then to me.  It appears to be a nice, cheap way for me to protect all my hanselman.com users.

If you're not running these particular tools, make sure you are at least running something to address these issues.  And seriously, run Ad-Aware if you haven't.  You'll be surprised.

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.