Scott Hanselman

Active ASP.NET Blogging Engines

September 8, '06 Comments [16] Posted in DasBlog
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Dasblog_splashJust stumbled on this post from "The Rabid Paladin." I wanted to clarify to a few things that he brings up in the post.

The front-runners in the .NET space for blogging software appear to be SubText and DasBlog--both are branches from their progenitor .Text which appears to be defunct. Unfortunately, since .Text was originally ASP.NET 1.1, both SubText and DasBlog are rooted in that technology. They both support custom themes, but they had to hack ASP.NET 1.1 to do so--mostly with custom controls.

DasBlog is a ongoing fork from BlogX, not .Text. Neither SubText nor DasBlog are "rooted" in ASP.NET 1.1 (not sure how one would root in a particular version of ASP.NET), both run happily under 2.0 and both have 'more native' 2.0 versions in development. DasBlog's theming isn't based on custom controls, it's a Radio Userland-style macro language so Mort can write his or her own themes without coding. It's true that there's lots of ways to architect themes and skins, including, but not limited to, the built in ASP.NET 2.0 theming.

I was originally drawn more to DasBlog because I've become a fan of Scott Hanselman--first from his podcasts, Hanselminutes, but later to his blog (which actually uses DasBlog, kudos for eating the dinner you've made). He's one of those over-producers who seems to have his hand in on fifteen million things at a time and is able to simultaneously talk about it all.

However, DasBlog's main website is frequently down, and there doesn't appear to be a lot of action in the form of improvements, releases, news, or updates. Which makes me wonder if it isn't a dying product, suffering from Scott's hyper interests.

Thanks for the kind words about the podcast! Our DasBlog website has been down occasionally because it's run from the basement of a very kind volunteer, but it being down shouldn't necessarily reflect poorly on the hard work the team has done.

We do have two sites:

On the "not a lot of action" point, I'm a little surprised by that. Have you read my blog over the last 6 months? There's a lot of activity: http://www.hanselman.com/blog/CategoryView.aspx?category=DasBlog

We're just releasing 1.9 soon, we've got daily builds every day, we've added literally dozens of (we think) cutting edge features (http://www.hanselman.com/blog/UpcomingDasBlog19.aspx) and are working on the roadmap for the .NET Framework 3.0 version.

And I stress we - There's an active group of a dozen or so contributors who are continuing to make DasBlog a great platform. It's not just me.

Here's a post on how to contribute to a project like DasBlog. Since the 'how to patch' post, dozens of patches have been added, many bug fixed. We also ship with 23 themes to choose from and more are on the way. The team is more active now then it's ever been and we're looking forward to the future.

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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Diary of a Vista RC1 Install - Upgrading My Main Machine to Windows Vista RC1

September 8, '06 Comments [17] Posted in Reviews
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VistadevicemanagerBEGIN - 10:50 PM 9/7/2006: Pray for me. I'm upgrading my main machine at home to Windows Vista Ultimate RC1 right now. We'll see if this list of tools is compatible with Vista...starting now.

COMPATIBILITY CHECK - 11:04 PM 9/7/2006: Hm...this doesn't bode well. I don't have a QuickCam installed, much less three. Not only that, but the Logitech QuickCam Express always supported in Windows XP with drivers that shipped with the OS; I wonder why that changed?

Looks like problems with SQL Server 2005 as well. I think I'll install SQL SP1 first. Weird about Nero, I already uninstalled that.

The following applications/drivers are not supported in Windows Vista
    The following devices will not work until the device driver software is updated. After the installation is complete, run Windows Update and check to see if there are any available updates for your devices. If this does not resolve your problem(s), contact the device manufacturer for updated driver software for these devices. :
    • Imaging devices: Logitech QuickCam Express
    • Imaging devices: Logitech QuickCam Express #3
    • Imaging devices: Logitech QuickCam Express #2
    Current versions of the following programs will not work with Windows Vista. After the installation is complete, get updated versions that are compatible with Windows Vista:
    • IntelliType Pro 5.x
    • Microsoft SQL Server 2005
    • Microsoft Powertoys for XP
    • ATI Control Panel
    • Nero 7 Premium
    • Sun Java Scheduler

EXPANDING FILES - 12:50 AM 9/8/2006: Oy. Still going. There's five steps here, Copying, Gathering, Expanding, Installing and Completing. I'm 21% into Expanding. Not sure what we were gathering or from where. The copying from DVD phase took about 15 minutes, but the "gathering" took forever. Now we're expanding. This is a 3GHz P4 on an Intel 925 MB with an SATA 7200 RPM Drive and 2 gigs of the fastest RAM the MB can take. Any one have any ideas why this is taking so long? Even as I type this I can hear the hard drive running like rain on a metal roof. Still 21% into Step 3. Time for bed methinks. This doesn't bode well for Mo's commodity Celeron with 512 MB of RAM. Hm...not at 22% yet...

PLEASE WAIT...PREPARING TO START... - 1:11 AM 9/8/2006: I nodded off there for a sec...I see a gray screen that says "Please wait a moment while Windows prepares to start for the first time." Not "while Windows starts for the first time," but "prepares to start." Hurry up and wait. Watching the dots........we are at 2 hours 21 minutes elapsed upgrade time thus far (counting the 6 minutes it took to apply SQL2k5SP1 after that warning above)....

BLACK SCREEN - 1:14 AM 9/8/2006: Rebooted automatically...I see a black screen...and a mouse cursor! Now, "completing upgrade"...oh, I thought we were starting. Psyche. Still upgrading...same image duplicated on both monitors, not sure if it's detected that I have two yet...cycling ellipses continue. Little trivia for you, did you know that ellipsis is Greek (e??e??e??) for omission? So far my upgrade is omitted.

MONITOR FLASHING - 1:18 AM 9/8/2006: My secondary monitor just flashed off and disappeared, it's black now and the mouse won't move off the edge of the primary. I think we've just reached the event horizon of this upgrade installation. Not sure if it's this event horizon or this Event Horizon. God help me if it's the latter.

COMPLETING UPGRADE - 1:21 AM 9/8/2006: Still "Completing Upgrade..."

--- The Next Day ---

CHECKING YOUR SYSTEM'S PERFORMANCE - 8:05 AM 9/8/2006: Ah! I awoke today to find a sea-green  screen asking me to press OK and confirm the time, time-zone and location. Not sure why it couldn't have gleaned all that information over th' intraweb, but que sera sera. I pressed OK, waiting for my Vista Desktop to appear in all its glory...and...Progress Bar! "Checking Your System's Performance..." Poop. I'm going to work.

PREPARING YOUR DESKTOP... - 8:15 PM 9/8/2006: The end is near! I see the fifth visual indicator to "hang on, we're really doing something, your computer ISN'T locked up!" This one is a spinning circle.

SUCCESS! - 8:27 PM 9/8/2006: I can see my stuff! Took a while, but pretty much all is well.

All the devices work save a generic random USB Camera with no Manufacturer. Not sure why the original driver didn't suffice..now it wants the disk that I don't have. I didn't like this camera anyway. Pretty good.

Now...what's this about be being a 4.2? Is that out of 5? 10? 100?

Myupgradedvista

UPDATE/CONCLUSION: For the most part everything works. Like 95% of things I use. Here's the jist:

  • The default Windows video drivers for my ATI Radeon 9800 Pro were poo. I got the Beta ATI Catalyst Drivers and the video is working OK.
    • Video Playback on the secondary monitor is unusable, as is Media Center. The Primary Monitor is fine.
  • Having Media Center (via having upgraded from XP Pro to Vista Ultimate) makes it almost worth the hassle for the whole thing. I just need to figure out a remote control situation. Still, the new Media Center is pretty cool, even if it (currently) is a Frankenstein's Monster of the new and old. If you're familiar with Media Center you'll find old looking sections that are jarring after you play with the new stuff.
  • I can't get Virtual PC's Network Drivers to work, so my VPCs have no networking...not sure what's up with that.
  • FinePrint doesn't work, it seems to have been quaranteened (incorrectly) by Windows Defender.
    • I can't figure out the interface to Defender...some items are disabled, but it's not allowing me to enable them.
  • TrueCrypt works, thank gosh, but you have to Shift-Right-Click and Run As Administrator to get it's drivers loaded.
    • Interestingly you can't make a shortcut and Shift-Right-Click the link. An irritating shell bug.
  • Opening new Tabs in IE7 is unacceptably slow.
  • There's some problems with Acronis True Image, but I'm hoping that'll get fixed soon.
  • Performance is a little slow, maybe 15% slower than it should be, but I think if I turned of the Flashy UI it'd be snapper. We'll see when I run it on Mo's little machine.
  • Windows Defender has a cheesy UI in that it's not integrated with the whole "Suite" of Security Stuff. There's Anti-Virus, Firewall, Phishing, Defender - you'll find yourself running around trying to find out where things are.

All in all, I'm happy I did it and I'm upgrading Mo's machine and my Media Center server as well. This will be the first time since 1995 that the whole family was running Beta software. I'm impressed so far.

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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Dark Room is a full screen, distraction free, writing environment

September 8, '06 Comments [7] Posted in Reviews | Tools
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Dark_roomNow THIS is what I needed. I was literally in the middle of writing this tool when I remembered to Google for one someone wrote first!

Dark Room (Feed) is a Windows Clone of WriteRoom, one of my favorite Mac applications. The fact that its default state is green text on black isn't the point; you can change the colors. It's the lack of distraction.

I often type Alt-V|U in Word to go Full Screen - get those damn toolbars out of my face. Dark Room, written in .NET 2.0 baby, will be a nice place to hide occasionally and help me get work done.

Head over to pick up a copy of Dark Room now and give it a try. If you're like me, you just can't get that <whatever> document done. Maybe you leave your office and hide out in a conference room. This is kind of the same thing, but virtually. And shut down Outlook while you're at it.

Whatever it takes to be productive, I say. Now I wonder if he'll let me write a blogging plugin for Dark Room...

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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Accessing EXIF Photo Data from JPEGs with PowerShell

September 8, '06 Comments [4] Posted in PowerShell
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Omar and I were chatting today and he wanted to to know how to access EXIF data from PowerShell. Omar wrote a nice little photo library a while back that extracts and interprets EXIF data from images. The .NET Framework 2.0 has some support for EXIF, but it doesn't attempt to interpret it.

Anyway, Omar wants to do some manipulation of his files, doing renaming and such, based on the EXIF data. He wanted to sort a directory by the date the format was actually TAKEN - this is stored inside the photo itself if the time is right on your camera - not the File System Dates.

We could write scripts to manipulate the files his library directly, but wouldn't it be very integrated with the whole PowerShell experience, now would it?

So, here's what we did:

  • Put Omar's PhotoLibrary.dll in your MyDocuments/PSConfiguration folder.
  • Add this to your Microsoft.PowerShell_profile.ps1 file (or make one if you don't have it):
    • $profileTypes = $profile | split-path | join-path -childPath "My.Types.ps1xml"
      Update-TypeData $profileTypes
      $photoLibrary = $profile | split-path | join-path -childPath "PhotoLibrary.dll"
      [System.Reflection.Assembly]::LoadFrom($photoLibrary)
  • Make (or add to) a My.Types.ps1xml file in your MyDocuments/PSConfiguration folder:
    • <Types>
           <Type>
              <Name>System.IO.FileInfo</Name>
              <Members>
                 <ScriptProperty>
                      <Name>DatePhotoTaken</Name>
                      <GetScriptBlock>
                      if ($this.Extension -match "jpg|raw")
                       {
                        $photo = new-object PhotoLibrary.Photo $this.FullName
                        $photo.DateTimeOriginal
                      }
                      </GetScriptBlock>
                  </ScriptProperty>
                </Members>
           </Type>
      </Types>

This is one of the most powerful aspect of PowerShell. Actually "spot-welding" new properties on to existing objects. Not object inheritance, mind you, "super-gluing." Like it or hate it, like super-glue, you have to respect that it solves problems.

Now we can do this from our PowerShell:

PS C:\Documents and Settings\shanselm\Desktop>
dir *.jpg | sort -desc DatePhotoTaken | select Name, LastWriteTime, DatePhotoTaken

Name                       LastWriteTime              DatePhotoTaken
----                       -------------              --------------
Z Q. at house Jan 1... 1/19/2006 4:26:00 PM       1/18/2006 8:01:00 AM
dadandscott.jpg            9/7/2006 2:37:32 PM        2/3/2002 2:57:03 PM

Since we're using Omar's library, we can do whatever we like with any the other EXIF details he expose:

PS C:\Documents and Settings\shanselm\Desktop>
$photo = new-object PhotoLibrary.Photo ((get-item dadandscott.jpg).Fullname)

PS C:\Documents and Settings\shanselm\Desktop>
$photo | select make, model, Width, Height, DateTimeOriginal | format-list

Make             : Eastman Kodak Company
Model            : KODAK DC265 ZOOM DIGITAL CAMERA (V01.00)
Width            : 1536
Height           : 1024
DateTimeOriginal : 2/3/2002 2:57:03 PM

Shiny.

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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Changing your colors in Visual Studio.NET - Black versus White

September 7, '06 Comments [31] Posted in Musings
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UPDATE: http://studiostyles.info/ for a great growing community of Visual Studio Styles and Themes. You can create, import and export themes in your browser!

VsbeforefontsI run my Visual Studio.NET with Consolas 15pt and have since I discovered Consolas. I like to run at a big(ger) font for a few reasons. First, it looks best at 15pt. 16pt? Crap. 13pt? Please. I also run it with a white (paper-like) background and the default colors. I also tend to run FullScreen with SHIFT-ALT-ENTER.

More and more though I hear that folks are vibing on the black background again. Personally, I've always found the black blackground folks to be a little creepy - just a little too black t-shirt, if you know what I mean.

Lately, though, it seems, that folks I respect have been trying the black background thing. A while back Atwood blogged about this.

There's a lovely theme for Mac folks running TextMate using the Monaco Font by this fellow at Vibrant Ink.

Folks with "TextMate Envy" can get a free Monaco Font for Windows here. Since that was so easy to find, I figured I'd try black background world also. But not just "switch to black background," no, no, that'd be too simplistic. I need to pump up the color on the foreground as well.

Vsafterfontsthumb

Now, that doesn't look too bad. Here's what I did from Tools|Options inside Visual Studio.NET

  • Changed the font to Monaco in Environment|Fonts and Colors under "Text Editor"
  • Changed:
    • Plain Text - White
    • Line Numbers - Silver
    • Comments - 213,0,213 (Purpley)
    • Identifier - 253,223,57 (Mustardy)
    • Keyword - 244,122,0 (Orangey)
    • Operator - White
    • String - Lime
    • UserTypes - 179,179,0 (Mustardy)

I think I'll leave it like this for a while and see what happens.

Feel free to post links to a screenshot of your colors and fonts in your editor in the comments. Put the link to your screenshot in the Home Page field in the comment and your name in the comments will automatically turn into a hyperlink.

Now, gray background people? Well, they're just freaks. ;)

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.