Scott Hanselman

MIcrosoft Best Practices Analyzer Tools

November 23, '06 Comments [0] Posted in ASP.NET | Programming | Reviews | Tools
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It'd be nice if there was some project inside (or outside) Microsoft to unify all "Best Practices" knowledge under one tool. Perhaps one of these tools is the beginning of that?

Two years ago, Microsoft released the well-thought-of SQL Server Best Practices Analzyer, in June the BizTalk Server Best Practices Analyzer, and in July one for Exchange.

Now it looks like the "Best Practices Engine" is being abstract into this project at CodePlex called the Microsoft Best Practice Analyzer (BPA) and I think it's just a fantastic idea. It appears to be a clean up of the ASP.NET Analyzer from June.

It comes with a sample plugin that analyzes ASP.NET 2.0 applications. I pointed it at one of mine and it found a few problems with solutions that were right on on the money.

This is starting to look like a list of all Microsoft's Paint programs.

I really hope that this is the beginning of an integration into an "Enterprise Application Best Practices Analyzer," perhaps headed up by the Patterns and Practices team? I'd like one tool I can point to a system and say "is this cool?"

Thinking in the vein of Brian Windheim's statement that "the number of non-software artifacts in any project should approach zero," it seems to me that there's less usefulness in creating amazing documents (but still ultimately just prose) like this one on ASP.NET Security Best Practices if, in my words, "a Word Document has no teeth." Making a great document like that into a plugin for an engine like the BPA makes the manifestation of its intent an order of magnitude more useful.

If the BPA, all derivitives, and the patterns & practives Guidance Explorer were combined, I think the resulting tool would be truly amazing.

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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PortableApps Suite 1.0 Released

November 23, '06 Comments [2] Posted in Reviews | Tools
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Here's an action item for you, dear reader, and finally a decent reason to put your USB key to work other than just holding family photos.

Download and install the PortableApps Suite from PortableApps.com. It's free, released 1.0 a few days back, and it's a collection of totally portable apps (they don't touch your hard drive) and an integrated menuing system that can run automatically via Autoruns.inf.

  • Standard Edition - 90MB, includes ClamWin Portable (antivirus), Firefox Portable (web browser), Gaim Portable (instant messaging), OpenOffice.org Portable (office suite), Sudoku Portable (puzzle game), Sunbird Portable (calendar/task manager) and Thunderbird Portable (email client) and runs comfortably from a 512MB drive.
  • Lite Edition - 30MBs, Uses AbiWord Portable (word processor) instead of OpenOffice.org Portable and runs comfortably from a 256MB drive.
  • Base Edition - 1MB, If you'd like to pick and choose exactly which apps to include, you can try Portable Apps Suite (Base Edition). This is a stripped down package with just the PortableApps Menu, PortableApps Backup utility and custom folders, icons and autorun. It's less than 1MB installed, so it's a great option for smaller drives.
    [
    PortableApps]

This suite also includes a backup application that will backup your apps, settings and documents (on the drive in a specific location) to your local hard drive.

I use this Suite on a tiny 2GB drive (that Omar turned me on to) that lives in my wallet (The best wallet I've ever owned, only US$5.50 from Umbra). On the drive is a 1 GIG TrueCrypt disk - my "getaway drive" - and the other gig is for Portable Apps. I run the standard suite, plus Notepad2, uTorrent and TorPark. There's lots of additional apps you can add.

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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Microsoft Xbox 360 Wireless Gaming Receiver

November 23, '06 Comments [0] Posted in Gaming
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I'm stoked about this new (and inexpensive) add-on. The Xbox 360 Wireless Gaming Receiver is a USB receiver, modeled in the style of the receivers many already have for keyboards and mice, that let's you use your existing Xbox Wireless stuff like the controller and driving wheel with existing games.

I've always been a little underwhelmed with Joystick support in Windows, but DirectX 10 (only took 10 tries) tries to rectify that. Additionally, the new "Games for Windows" branding insists that all games that receive the label must:

  • Support the XBox controllers and wireless receivers (specifically, support the DirectInput stuff)
  • Support DirectX 10 (check out this screenshot from Crysis)
  • Support the Windows Vista parental controls. That means Z only plays "E" rated games if he's by himself.

Basically, Windows gaming works like Console gaming. The Windows machine is just another Console - as it should be. I stopped PC gaming altogether (except for Guild Wars) because it was a hassle. Anything that makes it less of a hassle is a Good Thing™.

ASIDE: A few corrections and comments for this weeks podcast (that was on gaming.) A listener pointed out that:

  • The Wii supports WiFi out of the box, but to support Ethernet, you need an adapter.
  • While Nintendo has said in the past that you'll be able to download "any Nintendo game" that my have been hyperbole, as certainly there is a small subset of classic games currently available for the Wii "Virtual Console," which is Nintendos brand for the Classic Gaming stuff. It's a 'trickle' so far.
  • He also comments that the podcast was leaning a little towards Xbox360-fanboyness, and a little against Sony and Nintendo, both from a commentary point of view, but also from a content perspective. Valid points, all.

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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2007 Microsoft Office Add-in: Microsoft Save as PDF or XPS

November 23, '06 Comments [1] Posted in Tools
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If you've upgraded or are planning to upgrade to Office 2007, don't forget this important (and silly (that it is separate)) additional post-installation step:

Download the "2007 Microsoft Office Add-in: Microsoft Save as PDF or XPS" that lets you, gasp, save as PDF in any of these Office programs:

  • Access 2007
  • Excel 2007
  • InfoPath 2007
  • OneNote 2007
  • PowerPoint 2007
  • Publisher 2007
  • Visio 2007
  • Word 2007

Sure, there's a million free shareware printer drivers that let you "print to PDF" as well as the glory that is FinePrint that I still continue to use, but sometimes you just want to Save As, you know?

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 42 - Next Generation Gaming and the Developer

November 22, '06 Comments [1] Posted in Gaming | Podcast
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My forty-second Podcast is up.  In this one, Carl and I chat about what it means to be a "Next Generation Game" and discuss the latest innovations in gaming (graphics is only one) as well as the new Microsoft XNA platform for gaming. Are you getting a Wii, Xbox360 or PS3 for Christmas?

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.

Subscribe: Feed-icon-16x16 Subscribe to my Podcast in iTunes

Links from the show are also always on the show site, although this show had no links to speak of. Do also remember the archives are always up and they have PDF Transcripts, a little known feature that show up a few weeks after each show.

Our sponsors are CodeSmith Tools, /nsoftware 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. This coupon is good for the CodeSmith Professional With 1 Year Premier Support option.

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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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.