Scott Hanselman

Media Center Games

January 23, '06 Comments [2] Posted in Javascript | Speaking | PDC | Gaming
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MesudokuRussell Beattie has a interesting writeup on the whole "Casual Gaming" trend. Games delivered by browser are huge business. Last time I visited MSN Games site there were 200,000 people playing. Disney Channel has my niece and nephew captivated with cheesy, but free, Flash games.

Seems there would be great potential for games on Windows Media Center Edition. There's MCE Sudoku from at MediaCenterWare(KMS), and there's MCE Peaks from 10 Foot Games. BTW, KMS Software has released a number of nice titles for the Media Center.

Why aren't there more games for the Media Center PC? Perhaps ease of development? I poked around at the code for MCE Sudoku (review) and it's pretty hairy stuff. To be clear, it's a very nice implementation that was clearly written by folks who know and enjoy the game. However, the code involved, ActiveX controls, 22 javascript libraries - Media Center Development is AJAX. Sure, AJAX is cool, but let's be serious. It's hard. It's 1997. It's MacGyver Development at it's best, except instead of bailing wire and paper clips we use ActiveX controls and Javascript.

One of the surprises of the Xbox 360 has been the Xbox Live Arcade service. It, along with it's clever implementation of micro-payments and the often-updated blurs the usefulness of the slightly-less-often-updated Online Spotlight within the Media Center PC. 

My conclusion: If there isn't an equivalent service like Xbox Live Arcade for the Media Center PC crowd, gems like MCE Sudoku are going to get lost in the shuffle. I'm actually a little surprised that MSN Games hasn't worked out a deal to create and distribute 10-foot versions of the myriad games available at MSN. They're mostly Flash, why isn't the Media Center an attractive option? Why write MCE applications in MC-HTML when I could port existing scalable Flash apps? I'd love to have a pile of Disney games for the kids to play, not to mention the strictly educational market.

Casey's got it right, what will happen is that there will be a lull (that's where we are now) then folks will start writing apps for the Media Center using WPF/WinFX and WinFX XAML Browser Applications and things will really take off. Until that day comes later this year, I will continue to enjoy Charlie's PDC Presentation that I sadly can't view via my Xbox 360 (I tried.) I'll get around to installing the February CTP and see how it goes.

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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Flickr and DasBlog and geo-tagging and EXIF and on and on and on

January 23, '06 Comments [7] Posted in Z | DasBlog | Javascript | Tools
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I was just trying out Flickr for some Z pictures and I noticed:

There's such a fantastic amount of work going on with Geotagging and Photo sharing, but it all feels so skunkworks. Maybe that's just what meta-data feels like, but even the geo-tagged name=value pairs that appear in "tunnelled" within flickr's geotagged photos seem hacky. There's a lot of equipment needed to pull this stuff off.

How long until GPS's are so tiny that they are just inside any small digital camera and the JPEG's EXIF data is automatically geo-tagged? Its interesting to me that Wi-Fi is in Nikons but I can't seem to find a camera that includes a GPS. It'd sure be shiny. It's so hard now that only phillip torrone can do it. Sigh. These pictures ARE NOT geo-tagged. :)

UPDATE: RichB points me to the 3.2MP Ricoh Camera/GPS combo. A little funky because the GPS is a CF Card in the bottom of the camera, but still very cool. Definitely better than a 1MP GPS-enabled camera phone.

www.flickr.com

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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OnTurning0x20AndLookingBackArt2005

January 23, '06 Comments [14] Posted in Z | ASP.NET | Ruby | Watir | DasBlog | Coding4Fun | TechEd | Speaking | Movies | Gaming | Africa
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It's my birthday today, I'm 20. Actually 0x20, which is 32 in decimal. Sigh. I'm no longer "dude" at the local video store, I'm "sir." I'm not carded anymore. I'm typing this post one-handed because my greatest accomplishment is asleep in my other. I didn't even notice the time go by.

Looking back at my blog, I posted on my birthday in 2003 but didn't in 2004. What happened in 2005?

This year I aim to quit caffeine (again), lose 10 pounds (or at least move it around), continue to make eFinance work at Corillian, teach Z ASL (Sign Language) along with English.

P.S. Here's some birthday Z for ya.

CIMG4412 (Medium) (2)CIMG4359 (Medium)CIMG4365 (Medium)

 

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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Good mid-level 3D cards

January 20, '06 Comments [22] Posted in Z | Gaming
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Display Properties1Considering that an Xbox 360 is about $300-400 and works great, I'm not really interested (nor would my wife let me) in a $300-400 Video Card, as nice as they might be. That said, I just run the new 3DMark06 DirectX 9 Benchmark on my main system, and could barely eek out 5 frames per second (fps).

The system is a P4 Socket 478 3.00Ghz with 2 gigs of RAM. However, I have a Radeon 9800 Pro with 256 megs. This was a great card two years ago, and still runs Doom, Guild Wars, etc, with around 15-20 fps. However, I can barely find my way around in Age of Empires it's so slow.

Here's my absolute requirements:

  • I need a video that's dual head (that means 1 DVI and 1 VGA) and can run a 16:10 ratio LCD off the DVI at 1680x1050 and a 4:3 ratio LCD off the VGA at 1600x1200.
  • It should have all the latest DirectX 9.0c shininess in the hardware.
  • It should work with (or replace) my Hauppauge PCI Tuner and Beyond TV.

Here's my "kinda" requirements:

  • It'd probably be an ATI, just because I suddenly (not sure why) trust their drivers more, but as long as it has a unified driver model, it's all good.
  • It should be "Vista-ready" in that I can't be buying another card just to get cool Alt-Tab effects.
  • It shouldn't take up two slots because it's a fat-ass or cause my already-hot-computer-that-runs-with-the-cover-off-and-two-fans to burst into flames.

Dear reader, what's a good card for my little AGP motherboard? Is it possible for sub-$200? Or should I just "swap the brains" and go all out with a new Mobo, CPU, RAM and PCIx Video Card?

P.S. Man, back in the day, before Anandtech, I used to know all this stuff. You needed an RLL hard drive put in, I was the guy. Had Norton Disk Doctor in my back pocket. You needed some DIPPs put in to take your system to a meg, call Hanselman. I was even good up until the P4. Now, I don't know my North Bridge from my Piggly Wiggly.

P.P.S. Z is now 7 weeks and 10 pounds, 8 oz., gaining 1.5 oz a day. At this rate he'll be 175 lbs (as big as me) in 5 years. Madness. ;)

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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Media Center Extenders and the Xbox 360

January 19, '06 Comments [5] Posted in Gaming
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WhatsHotLanding_04Just wanted to expand a bit and pull in information from a number of places on how the Xbox 360 displays the Media Center UI. This is a point of confusion for a lot of folks (myself included) and it's a darned interesting thing. The Media Center Sandbox blog has lots of great info on developing on the MCPC, not just now, but in the Vista timeframe. Michael Earls has a nice article on developing Add-Ins with .NET.

Clemens is working on something very cool that's clearly HTML-based and will work great in my Xbox360 as HTML-based apps use Remote Desktop functionality to render themselves remotely. While the UI is cool, you'll be very interested to hear how the backend works.

The MTV Overdrive (download for MCPC) and VH1 V-Spot are pretty amazing examples of what can be done with an MCPC Application that uses only DHTML, AJAX, Flash and Video, and consequently be remoted via RDP to the Xbox 360.

Note: You need the Update Rollup 2 to use the Xbox 360 as a Media Extender.

Charlie Owen offered me this table to express "what's rendered how" and reminded me to check the Media Center "Online Spotlight" more often. It'd be nice if there were an RSS feed I could check instead. NewsGator has a pretty nice interface as well, but their site doesn't mention Media Center 2005 so I'm not sure that it's been updated lately. It works fine though.

Hosted HTML = Remote Desktop
WinFX XBAP (XAML) = Remote Desktop
Media Center Add In (.NET) = Rendered Natively on XBox 360
Media Center Main Menu (added by me) = Rendered Natively on XBox 360

Here's an important note about Charlie's table:

"When I say 'Remote Desktop' I really mean technology similar to remote desktop, but not the same -- expect 3-5 frames per second, full screen updates sent over the wire. Rendered natively on the XBox 360 means we send the MCML over the wire which is interpreted and rendered on the XBox 360 (full 30 frames per second)."

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.