Scott Hanselman

Went to PDC? Get into DevDays free...

January 28, '04 Comments [4] Posted in DevDays | TechEd | Speaking | PDC
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I like to think I "got my start" at DevDays.  I've been doing DevDays in Portland since before the .COM days.  I used to think it was an annual thing, then one year there just wasn't one.  But, DevDays is back. 

They're live, local, fun, silly, powerful and chock-full of goodness.  I'm a lot less concerned about being dragged off the stage at DevDays that I am at TechEd or PDC, so I KNOW I'll be having a blast.  I usually sneak some fun stuff in to make sure the audience is paying attention. 

I'm going to give Session 4: Developing Secure Web Applications—Examining an End-To-End, Hack-Resilient Application, and Patrick Cauldwell is doing two Smart Client talks...and the man knows his stuff, my friends.

Be sure not to miss your local DevDays.  If you missed TechEd or PDC, go to DevDays.  As a bonus, if you attended PDC, you get in FREE.  There's some great speakers this year (I've seen the list) and a lot more 3rd party involvement than in previous years.

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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I bought a Suit and a Robotic Vacuum yesterday...

January 28, '04 Comments [3] Posted in Musings
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I've been getting philosophical about my the beginning of my fourth decade and I realized two things:

A. I've never owned a suit.  I look OK in one (see tux pic at left :) ) but I always feel like I'm playing grownup.  (Don't most geek-types feel that way in a suit?) So, clearly I needed a suit.  I went into Bachrach and walked out decked out.  I'd show you a picture but the 'net can only handle one photo of me dressed up.

2. Then, I bought a Roomba.  Yes, I needed a suit, but really, I seriously needed a Robotic Vacuum.  They both go nicely with my watch

I'm seriously digging the vacuum.  It's stupid, mind you, but it's effective.  I thought it would be smarter and map out the room and figure out the most effective way to clean.  But no, it just drives around randomly and based on the size of the room and the time that it runs they can mathematically prove that they'll cover x area in y time.  Kind of a cop-out but it works, eh?  I've happily left it to vacuum the entire top floor (900 sq. ft.) of our 1800 sq. ft. house and it manages the task in about 90 minutes before the batteries poop out.

Shame it doesn't have mscorlib on it...anyone else have a suit AND a robot hoover?

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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Always Use Protection...

January 28, '04 Comments [0] Posted in ASP.NET
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Had a fun Skype conference call with Carl Franklin and Dan Appleman tonight.  Dan's the Morpheus of our time.  Back in the VB3 to VB6 days, the first thing that a developer learned was that they were in the Matrix.  Visual Basic was the Matrix, and it's job was to hide the details of COM from us.  You could either take the blue pill and accept the Binary Compatibility radio buttons were a lie, or you could take the red pill and call Dan Appleman to pick up a VBX or OCX and start cracking Window messages and goofing with the message pump.  Dan and his contemporaries led opened the eyes of a whole generation of Visual Basic programmer.

Dan also mentions his upcoming book: Always Use Protection: A Teen's Guide to Safe Computing.

He makes some great points about the special needs that Teens have while surfing the 'net.  Teens are more likely to install multiple chat clients on their boxes and keep them open all the time or running automatically.  They are more prone to identity theft by other teens. He explores issues around Anti-Virus Software, spyware and malware and how Teens can protect themselves.  Since Teens are often the most technologically savvy amongst us, I think that Dan's message will hit the right ears. 

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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UltraMagnifier

January 26, '04 Comments [1] Posted in Programming
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I'm a huge fan of Zoomin, and have promoted it before on my site and I use it ALL THE TIME in Presentations.  Bryan Ressler sent me a link to his UltraMagnifier .

Some features:

  • 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, or 32-times magnification
  • Full multiple-monitor support
  • Gridding of pixels (to facilitate counting pixels or checking alignment) in white, black, gray, or any user-defined color
  • Update on a timer, on mouse movement, freeze, and timed-freeze modes
  • Pixel-color display with choice of display formats (and color swatch)
  • Save magnified image as BMP or PNG
  • Copy magnified image to clipboard
  • Printing with Print Preview
  • Window features such as Stick to Screen Edges, Stay on Top

It's got everything that Zoomin has, and more!  Very nice.

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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Moving life into CVS and DocumentLocator and the Authoritative Source

January 26, '04 Comments [3] Posted in Africa | Bugs | Tools
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I need an Authoritative Source

You know I picked up a TabletPC recently.  I will probably attend the North Africa Developer Conference in Morocco this year and I wanted to bring my TabletPC rather than my Corporate Laptop.  It's a lot lighter (6 lbs vs. 11 lbs) and the batteries last forever (at least 6 hours versus barely 2).  It is a 1.5 GHz box, while my Corporate Evo N800w is a 2 Ghz.  We'll see if that really makes a difference.

Anyway, I sat down and prepared to move all my presentations and demos and C:/Utils over to the laptop.  It's about 2 gigs of Powerpoints, demos, code, and goodness.  If you've seen one of my presentations when I'm particularly hopped up on Diet Coke, you know I use most of it! :)  So, I made a C:\demos folder and started a copy. 

Then, I stopped.  What the heck am I doing?  If I copy this stuff straight, I'll have demos/presentations/code on three machines (my desktop as well).  Every once in a while I make an important change to a PowerPoint, or find a major bug in some demo. 

So, I said, it's time to move some of my life into An Authoritative Source (ne: Source Control).  Less for the version control and more to define and authoritative source for information that I can pull from.

Tangent: My Contacts

I recently installed Plaxo in an attempt to bring some semblance of organization to my information-life.  It provides, for all intents, a location for all your contacts that can sync to Outlook or Outlook Express on other machines.  It provides:

  • Conflict Resolution and Synchronization - Changes made by me/Changes made by others
  • Storage - I can install it on a new machine and bring my contacts down immediately.
  • File System Independance - I can bring it down into multiple clients without concern over file system (or application)
And that's exactly the kind of problems that need solving for my presentations and demos.
Back to the Story:
 
I have used Source Safe since before it was owned by Microsoft (Remember One Tree Software) and I've used various *nix source control systems.  But, I hate it.  Between Data Corruption and the general malaise I feel when I use it, it wasn't an option for my personal data.  Not to mention the whole "make writable" nonsense.   I'd prefer my personal files be writable be default, thank you very much.
 
I really dig what the SourceGear Guys are doing with Vault, but I'm a little nervous putting my data in a Database.  It's kind of hard to restore a single row (file) from a SQL Server Database, and it feels a little more opaque that I'm confortable with.  So, while I might use them for development, I needed a system that was more flexible. 
 
I've come up with two, one for code, and one for everything else.
 
My chosen solutions:
 
1. CVS
 
I'm keeping my source code (largely text-based) in CVS.  For the client, TortoiseCVS also use a namespace extension and intregrate directly into Explorer.  They've recently updated Tortoise to 1.6 and it's more stable and very easy to use.  I installed the free CVS NT Service and had it up and storing source in 30 minutes.
 
Pros: Also, it's file system based and easy to backup and can be accessed from multiple clients, including a Web Client and Tortoise.  Tortoise provides a very seemless experience and is my preferred way to work with code. 
 
Cons: CVS is too complicated for my wife to use and offers many advanced features like tagging and branching that are very "Source Code specific" IMHO.  For that, it's perfect for my code.   It does mean storing all your code in a "sandbox" that is a copy of what's on the repository.  It's non-trivial for the novice to setup things like Check-In notifications and it doesn't support any kind of full text indexing.  It doesn't automatically add files to the repository when you save them to a folder. 
 
Basically, it's a nice source control system that I will use, but it's not a Document Management System.
 
2. Document Locator
 
If you haven't tried DocumentLocator yet, do.  If you aren't ready to download a trial, checkout their awesome Flash demos.  This just might be the product for me.  It also stores data in SQL Server, but it's not trying to be a Source Control System (even though it is that, and lots more).
 
Pros: It includes a namespace extension for Explorer that makes your document repository show up next to My Computer.  You can open and save files from any Windows app directly into the Repository.  I have started using it for all my "My Documents" type files.  It supports versioning, has hooks into SCC (the Source Control APIs for Visual Studio) and most importantly it's EASY.  It also replaces dtSearch with Full-Text Indexing of all files, including scanned/OCRed TIFFs and PDFs.  I've long wanted to start scanning more documents and bills into my system, but I don't want to just dump a bunch of JPEG files into a folder.  DocumentLocator has some sweet scanning integration and scans, OCRs and imports your documents into the repository.  It supports a totally extensible schema and arbitrary tags that are also searchable.  It also supports notifying people of changes and additions and will also suck documents directly out of Outlook and into the repository if the document meets a specific filter.
 
Cons:  Backing up a single file while it's still inside the repository is still a challege, but I just back the whole SQL Server up anyway.  And if you don't have SQL Server, just use MSDE and you can still store up to 2 gigs of files.
 
 
Both CVS and DocumentLocator act as an authoritative source for my data.  I run the services side-by-side on my home server and pull from them as I please.  I've got all my source CVS'ed and running on my TabletPC now, and I'll my documents and presentations full-text-searchable in Document Locator.  Whew.  That's a good weekend's work.  Now it's time to watch Bernie Mac.

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.