Scott Hanselman

Scott Hanselman: Developer Productivity Tools Video Part 4

August 4, '06 Comments [6] Posted in Programming | TechEd | Tools
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Scottvideo4When I was at TechEd I visited the Beantown.net INETA User Group and gave a (fairly ad-hoc) talk on Developer Productivity Tools. Jim Minatel loaned me his microphone and a copy of Camtasia and we recorded the talk. Thanks Jim!

It was a great crowd, a lot of fun. We had a number of "off the cuff" discussions about random stuff so I hope it doesn't take away from the gist of the talk.

The complete presentation was around 1 hour 45 minutes, so for online, Jim has split it into 4 segments. This week's final segment is #4 and is available now and is about 30 minutes long. If you watch it in your browser, I recommend you double click on Windows Media Player to make the video go full screen. You can also download the full video.

This episode covers mostly CodeRush and a number of questions are answered from the audience.

Here's a few notes about the video quality from Jim:

1. Why can't I fast forward or skip ahead through the video while it's streaming? Answer: We're running these off of a standard IIS server, not a Windows Media Server. IIS supports streaming, but not indexed playback during streaming to allow skipping ahead. If you want to do that, just download the whole video and all of the forwarding and timeline controls will be available in Windows Media Player.

2. Why isn't the video quality better? Is Camtasia to blame? No, Camtasia rocks. The raw videos I'm getting in Camtasia format are 100% clear, as if you were looking right at the presenter's monitor. The problem I've discovered is with the Windows Media Encoder. It just isn't well suited to on-screen presentation videos like this. The blurring and color blotching seems worst in Scott Hanselman's videos and I think I know why. When I watch the raw presentation, he's flying back and forth between open windows, background tools that pop up, and his desktop. It's just faster switching between very varied images than the encoder can seem to keep up with. I've twidled all the settings and got the best I can for now without doubling or tripling the file sizes. The other option would be to post an alternate version in Camtasia format and a link to download their playback codec [Scott: or a large FLV]. Because WMV is universal for my .NET developer audience, that has to be my common choice though.

There's also some other good screencasts up at Wrox. The growing list of videos is available at wrox.com. The first few videos in the series are:

If you want to download the files directly, do a SAVE AS on these links:

We'll be re-releasing them soon as reencoded high-quality Flash very soon, as well as one uber-large 2 hour Flash Video. I hope you enjoy them.

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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Replacing Start Run - The Quest Continues

August 4, '06 Comments [21] Posted in Reviews | Tools
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So many ways to launch programs. A good launcher doesn't just launch, it also auto-completes paths for you, starts your search engine or browser and generally saves you 15 minutes a day. No need to learn all the hotkeys like those Keyboard wonks who try to guilt you. Just learn ONE and make it do everything.

Given these offerings, if you open your Start Menu at all, at any point in the day, you're doing something wrong. Try them all, pick one, and save 15 min * 5 days * 52 weeks = 65 hours a year you'd have spent futzing around in your Start Menu*.

* These numbers came straight out of my butt.

  • Slickrun - still the sexy favorite, this little floating magic bar keeps me moving fast, launching programs, macros and explorer with it's shiny simplicity.
    Tell them I sent you. ;)
    Startrun1

 

  • SmartStartMenu - Shaun Harrington has created this elegant little application that lives in the task bar and automatically indexes the list of items in your Start Menu for quick access with the speed of AutoComplete.
    Startrun4
    It will take system commands, paths to launch explorer, even UNC paths. Launch anything on your system with less than 4 keystrokes. It also adds new context menus to Explorer like CopyPath and Open in DOS box to Explorer.

 

  • Startrun2Martin Plante, hot off his gig at Xceed has created slimKEYS, a "universal hotkey manager" with a simple .NET plugin architecture. If you've got ideas or thoughts, visit the slimCODE Forums.
    Have you ever wanted to bind something to Shift-Ctrl-Alt-Window-Q but didn't know how to grab a global hotkey?
    This will launch programs, watch folders, and find files. It has great potential as more and more plugins appear.
    The current version already comes with the following built-in plug-ins:
    • slimSIZE: Change the current window's position, size or monitor location to any area of your choice.
    • slimLAUNCH: Open applications, documents or folders by typing a few letters from their name. 
    • slimVOLUME: Display the volume level when you use your keyboard's volume control.

 

  • Colibri - The closest thing so far, IMHO, to Quicksilver on Windows, although this little gem has a slow startup time, it runs fast! It's being actively developed and promises integration with a dozen third party programs. It also formally supports "Portable Mode" for those of you who like to carry your apps around on a USB key.
    Startrun3

 

  • Launchy - Another do it all application, this one Open Source and written entirely in .NET, Launchy binds to Alt-Space by default. This app also has the potential to be Quicksilver like if it start including support for stringing together verb-noun combos. It's pretty as hell and totally skinnable (there's TWO Quicksilver skins included!)
    Startrun7

 

  • AppRocket -this little bar sits at the top of your screen, popping down an active list of Bookmarks, Programs, Music, Web Queries and more.  It's unclear if this tool is being enhanced for future versions as folks have reported not hearing from the company in a while.
    Startrun5

 

  • ActiveWords - Arguably the most minimal of these launchers (as it can have no UI at all if you like!), but the most configurable. ActiveWords watches everything you type, in every application, so anything you've just typed could potentially be used by you to launch a program, a macro, send email, or give you Auto-Correct in any application. Check out their screencast/demos and their scripting language. It also is the only launcher (I've seen) with explicit support for the Tablet PC and allows ink to trigger an "Active Word."
    Startrun6

 

  • Dave's Quick Search Bar - Written orignally in JavaScript and now written in magic and ensconced in voodoo, this little Toolbar sits in your Windows Task bar (or wherever you choose to drag it) and supports a huge community of macro writers who've enabled it as a Calculator, Web Searcher, People Finder, Currency Converter and literally hundreds of other tasks via simple to write plugins. Very actively developed and on the web for over 5 years (that's like 100 people years).Startrun8
    It even has a Search Wizard to create your own web searches by example.

UPDATE: I forgot a few that were totally worth mentioning. My bad.

  • Google Desktop - Startrun10Google Desktop has an option that let's you use it as a quick program launcher along with fantastic search abilities by tapping Ctrl-Ctrl.
    Startrun9

 

  • Find and Run Robot - Lightweight, small, quiet until you need it. This little application allows for tuneable heuristics to make it work like you think. Demo Screencast here.
    Startrun11

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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WhatIf Powershell

August 3, '06 Comments [0] Posted in PowerShell
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One of the best (little known?) features about Powershell is the -WhatIf switch. A script or cmdlet can have parameters, of course, like

param( [string] $foo )

but it can also have switches that are on or off like

param ( [switch] $verbose )

One of the mostly ubiquitous switches is -WhatIf for commands that could "do damage." For example:

PS> del foo.txt -whatif
What if: Performing operation "Remove File" on Target "C:\\foo.txt".
PS> get-process outlook | stop-process -WhatIf
What if: Performing operation "Stop-Process" on Target "OUTLOOK (2540)".

Drink in how useful this can be. Fabulous. Anyway, so we wanted to make our own scripts have this ability. Since our scripts are mostly strung together with built-in commands, we want to have a WhatIf switch be inherited by the sub-commands.

Switches are either present or not present so I tried a silly thing like this:

param ( [string] $file, [switch] $WhatIf)
if ($WhatIf.IsPresent) { $WhatIf = "-WhatIf" }
del $file $WhatIf

But was reminded by Keith Hill that this was cleaner:

"You can forward switch params to cmdlet parameters of type switch like so"

param([string]$file, [switch]$WhatIf=$false)
del $file -WhatIf:$whatif

"Bruce Payette and I had a newsgroup exchange on this a while back and he mentioned that they made sure you could still pass a "value" to a switch parameter for this very reason. I don't know of any other ways to make this better though."

Thanks Keith!

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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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Hanselminutes Podcast 27 - Reflection

August 3, '06 Comments [3] Posted in Podcast
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My twenty-seventh Podcast is up. This episode is about Reflection. It was tough as I wanted to get really technical, but at the same time I wanted to discuss the basics. There's a lot of potential things to talk about, we'll need to do another show. 

We're listed in the iTunes Podcast Directory, so I encourage you to subscribe with a single click (two in Firefox) with the button below. For those of you on slower connections there are lo-fi and torrent-based versions as well.

This show was FULL of links, so here they are again. They are also always on the show site. Do also remember the archives are always up and they have PDF Transcripts, a little known feature.

Links from the Show

What is Reflection?
What's new in Reflection 2.0 (h1w)
MethodInfo Visualizer (h1x)
Dodge Common Performance Pitfalls to Craft Speedy Applications (h1k)
More on Reflection 2.0 (h20)
Deep Reflection (h1y)
Strongly Typed Reflection (h1q)
Fast PropertyAccessors (h25)
ReflectionOnly (h1z)
Dynamic Code Generation vs Reflection (h1r)
Reflection Demystified (h1u)
What is slow in Reflection (h23)
Programming C#: Chapter 18 (h1s)
Reflection vs. CodeDom
Calling Code Dynamically (h24)

Subscribe to my Podcast in iTunes

NEW COUPON CODE EXCLUSIVELY FOR HANSELMINUTES LISTENERS: The folks at XCeed are giving Hanselminutes listeners that is Coupon Code "hm-20-20." It'll work on their online shop or over the phone. This is an amazing deal, and I encourage you to check our their stuff. The coupon is good for 20% off any component or suite, with or without subscription, for 1 developer all the way up to a site license.

Our sponsors are XCeed, CodeSmith Tools, PeterBlum and the .NET Dev Journal. There's a $100 off CodeSmith coupon for Hanselminutes listeners - it's coupon code HM100. Spread the word, now's the time to buy.

As I've said before this show comes to you with the audio expertise and stewardship of Carl Franklin. The name comes from Travis Illig, but the goal of the show is simple. Avoid wasting the listener's time. (and make the commute less boring)

  • The basic MP3 feed is here, and the iPod friendly one is here. There's a number of other ways you can get it (streaming, straight download, etc) that are all up on the site just below the fold. I use iTunes, myself, to listen to most podcasts, but I also use FeedDemon and it's built in support.
  • Note that for now, because of bandwidth constraints, the feeds always have just the current show. If you want to get an old show (and because many Podcasting Clients aren't smart enough to not download the file more than once) you can always find them at http://www.hanselminutes.com.
  • I have, and will, also include the enclosures to this feed you're reading, so if you're already subscribed to ComputerZen and you're not interested in cluttering your life with another feed, you have the choice to get the 'cast as well.
  • If there's a topic you'd like to hear, perhaps one that is better spoken than presented on a blog, or a great tool you can't live without, contact me and I'll get it in the queue!

Enjoy. Who knows what'll happen in the next show?

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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Upcoming DasBlog 1.9

August 3, '06 Comments [13] Posted in ASP.NET | DasBlog
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Tagcloud ExampleSpeaking of DasBlog, one of the other things we're working on for the upcoming 1.9 release (remember, you can always get the latest source each day - many folks do like to live on the edge) is Tagcloud support, as seen in the image at right (the real thing is on the left, scroll down).

Here's a from memory list of cool new things (we'll do release notes soon):

  • Much better multi-user/blogger support including a Top Posters macro and total comments - from Christoph De Baene
  • TagCloud - from Scott
  • Huge (100x+) speedup in Macro execution - from Scott
  • Support for If-Not-Modified to speed up execution, improve RSS bandwidth and CPU cycles - from Scott
  • Direct Feedburner Support with 301 redirection for RSS and Atom feeds. Don't lose a single subscriber. We're the only blog with direct support for Feedburner and Feedflare I believe. - from Scott
  • Delete comments directly from your mail reader - from Omar
  • New themes out of the box, 18 at last count - from Many Folks
  • New XML-RPC support for newMediaObject - from Omar and Giuseppe Dipietro
  • New support for RSD so client software can autoconfigure itself - from Omar
  • Pluggable Rich Text Editor, choose from FreeTextBox or FCKEditor or write your own adapter - from Josh Flanagan
  • Support for CoComment - from Scott
  • Organized source, build, and packing for clarity - from Josh Flanagan
  • New Feed Icons - from Omar
  • Automatic disabling of Comments after a certain number of days. Also manual "close comments" support - from Omar
  • ContentLookAhead show future dated posts - from Josh Flanagan
  • Other misc fixes and suggestions from Tomas Restrepo, Jason Follas, Rene Lebherz and Steven Rockarts. Added entry CPU usage optimizatons from George V. Reilly.
  • Better strings and support for Portuegue, Turkish and Vietnamese from Ph?m Ð?c H?i.

One other thing...folks know that DasBlog is all file-based - no database - so doing mass operations like Category renames, re-categorization is non-trivial and non-performant. I'm working on that and currently have a number of Powershell scripts to make large-scale changes offline. In testing those scripts I took the opportunity to re-categorize my whole site over the last four years of content (some better than others) and in the process added a lot more categories to help folks find what they need.

Attention New Subscribers: I encourage you to peruse the Complete Archive with categorized links to every post ever as well as the Tag Cloud/Category Thing over on the in the left side. Also, for those temporally-minded view, check out the Calendar View (here's 2006) to find what you need.

The next mini-project is to tune a robots.txt file to make Google search a DasBlog site more intelligently, resulting in better search results.

Stay tuned.

Thanks folks.

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.