Scott Hanselman

Buy.com 10% off Amazon Books

January 8, '06 Comments [1] Posted in ASP.NET
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Just noticed that Buy.com is offering 10% off Amazon books (not sure how they can do that) and Professional ASP.NET 2.0 is only $29.69 over there. You could probably get a bit more off by signing into, and searching with A9.com. They give you "1/2 of pi" percent off if you use their search engine once a week.

I was over on Buy.com looking at this new Quickcam for use with Skype and MSN8.

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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2006 is the year of Video Chat

January 7, '06 Comments [9] Posted in Diabetes
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This may be the year of Video Chat. Someone is bound to get it right this year.

Skype totally nailed voice chat last year. Nailed it shut. Seven versions of MSN Messenger tried to get voice chat right and Skype totally nailed it. Now they've released Skype 2.0  and it includes Video. If they nail this, it'll be a happy day for me. I'm all about chat with about 280 folks on Messenger and I'd love to be able to chat with video. Their interface is really very nice and polished. It's no iChat, but it's nice for Windows.

Chattingwithjohn

Now Messenger 8 Beta is out and using invites (ala Gmail) to spread the word. I invited 5 folks. The screen shot at right is me chatting with my buddy John. The audio was iffy, but the video was pretty sweet. There's the Messenger Team's blog that points out a nice new feature of this version: type ahead contact searching.

Notniceicons

As a tangent, I run Large Icons on my systems. Note the pixelly icon for Messenger. I'm REALLY looking forward to scalable icons in Vista. The icons (most) in the current Vista Betas are scalable vectors. I hope this ushers in a renaissance for UI and not the Garish mid-90s when Flash (remember FutureSplash?) was first introduced. Flash really put bad designers into motion. You think a static image sucks? Make it fly across the page and you'll discover what it really means to suck. But, I digress.

Video Chat will happen (and really work this time) in 2006. Google Talk will likely add it. AOLs Instant Messenger "Triton" includes video chat. ICQ5 has video. Gaim-vv will soon do video with MSN and Yahoo.

The real question is this: It's 2005 and why aren't our chat services interoperable? Why is there a market for Trillian? Because folks don't want to get together and standardize. Sure, there's Jabber (XMPP) and there's SILC, but I don't see it sweeping the Windows world. Maybe I'm mistaken.

Can't we all just get along? 

Now playing: Freshlyground - Buttercup 

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 Pack

January 7, '06 Comments [7] Posted in Musings | Tools
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Google pack1

Via Greg, Google's released the Google Pack, a nice collection of fairly established software along with their own updater. I think this would be great for my mom, although RealPlayer is Satan.

  • Adobe Reader 7 (Evil: Use Foxit)
  • Ad-Aware SE Personal (Iffy: Use SpyBot)
  • GalleryPlayer HD Images
  • Google Desktop
  • Google Earth
  • Google Pack Screensaver (NICE: This is a VERY nice Photo Screensaver that is multi-monitor aware!)
  • Google Picasa Photo Organizer/Editor
  • Google Talk (Eh, not so much: Use Skype)
  • Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer
  • Google Video player
  • Mozilla Firefox with Google Toolbar (Nice way to proliferate Firefox by including it)
  • Norton AntiVirus 2005 Special Edition (Cheesy way to bait and switch with a 6-month "Trial" subscription.") WARNING: This one installs without asking. Not cool. You can uninstall stuff for the "Installed Software" Tab.
  • RealPlayer (Satan: This is how the devil gets your immortal soul, it starts with RealPlayer...)
  • Trillian (Ok, but I'm using MSN Messenger Beta 8...we'll see....)

It's easy to see where this is going, of course, as Google will likely start charging for the prime real estate on their own Add/Remove Programs page. Still, I dig it, and I hope it starts serving up a bunch of Open Source software. This may turn out to be a standard thing I will install on my relatives machines.

Now playing: Freshlyground - Mowbray Kaap

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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Corillian featured in Bank Technology News

January 5, '06 Comments [2] Posted in Corillian | eFinance
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Alex Hart on the Cover of Bank Technology NewsYou may read this blog and wonder, what the heck does Corillian (and Scott) do? If so, check out the cover story of this month's Bank Technology News to learn more about the industry. That's our CEO there on the front.

A few snippets:

Corillian, with four top-10 banks-JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wachovia, SunTrust, Washington Mutual-and 28 of the top-100 running on its platform, has more than doubled its end-user base since 2003, to over 25 million.

and:

When Corillian snared Wachovia's platform business in late 2004-a switch from its own internally developed system-"we spent about 15 minutes congratulating each other, then went back to work," says CEO Alex Hart. "It's part of the natural evolutionary process. We're a real company now."

That quote totally sounds like Alex. All in all, it's a pretty decent article, more about finance, our competition, the potential future, the space we're in, and a bit about the technology.

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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Virtual Machines and External Hard Drive throughput

January 5, '06 Comments [9] Posted in Musings
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In a recent discussion I was involved in about performance of Virtual Machines, a number of interesting things came up.

There's a number of generally recommended tips if you're running a VM, either in VMWare or VirtualPC, the most important one being: run it on a hard drive spindle that is different than your system disk.

Many folks recommend USB 2.0 external drives, while others swear by Firewire (either 400 or 800). One individual in the discussion said that since USB 2.0's theoretical transfer rate is 480Mbs and that most devices can theoretically use only 2/3 of the bus' bandwidth that the maximum throughput was likely 320Mbs. This may or not be true, but the root of his argument was that a 7200 RPM Hard Drive could (very likely in his opinion) saturate USB, so wouldn't Firewire 800 be a better choice?

Richard Campbell posted an excellent follow up with better math that sets, IMHO, the record fairly straight and I'm included parts of it here with permission:

The issue here is specification maximums versus actual performance data.

USB and Firewire are measured in MegaBITS per second, so 480mbps translates to 60MB/sec (presuming you believe there's only eight bits to a byte in this scenario, and that's more complicated than you might think). Also, recall that these are bus-based technologies, designed to be shared, so really that speed is not designed to be filled from a single device.

ATA/133, SATA/150 and SCSI/320 are all in MB/sec, so obviously all these internal protocols are faster than their external brethren.

Meantime, you have the issue of hard drives - the performance of which varies depending on what you're doing with it, and where you're doing it.

Take a look at Maxtor's DiamondMax 10. Top of the line 7,200 rpm drive with a maximum transfer rate 65MB/sec. And that's maximum - grabbing data from the outer rim of the drive where things are fastest. At the inner edge of the drive its down to 35MB/sec. Either way, you're not going to saturate any of the internal interfaces with this drive, and even USB2 can keep up for the most part.

Drop down to 2.5" drives like Hitachi's lovely little Travelstar 7,200 rpm drive and you're looking at transfer rates with a high of 54MB/sec and low of 27MB/sec. You're still not going to bury USB2.

And I would like to point out that these are optimal transfer rate tests here - huge files written across the disk so the drive can grab them as fast as possible. Your real-world mileage will vary: lower.

Spindle speed definitely makes a difference - its very tough to get transfer rates over 40MB/sec with a 5,400 rpm drive, and virtually any 7,200 rpm drive can offer that on the fast side, anyway. When you get to 10,000 rpm drives, you start seeing maximum transfer rates like 70MB/sec. Some 15,000 rpm drives can do as much as 90MB/sec peak! In exchange, of course, you get noise, heat and explosive potential. Not to mention outrageous prices.

USB1 definitely wasn't fast enough for modern drives, but USB2 is, at least for the foreseeable future.

If you skipped Richard's comments and hopped down here, the nutshell is that a 7200 RPM Hard Drive is, given it's maximum throughput, if it's reading the data from the outside or inside edge of the disk, the file size and access pattern, not very likely to saturate USB2. The conclusion is that either USB 2.0 or Firewire are both very reasonable solution for the power user's external HD needs when running Virtual Machines.

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.