Scott Hanselman

Arusha Tanzania 2006 Day 3

December 5, '06 Comments [8] Posted in Africa | Musings
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I'm writing this via a CDMA 9600bps cell phone modem in Arusha, Tanzania.

It took us 3 days to get here. We went from Portland (PDX) to Seattle on Horizon Air, but apparently a plane fell off the runway and temporarily shutdown the airport for a bit, causing us to get in an hour late. Because we were late, we missed the Seattle (SEA) to Amsterdam (AMS) flight by four (4) minutes. Yes, they wouldn't open the door, and I found that a bit tacky. Consequently my wife, myself, Z and my parents (this is their first trip out of the country) had to stay at the lovely Airport Red Lion Inn for the night, wake up the next morning early and try again for the same flight, which, it so happens, we were again the last to board. It's non-trivial to travel with an infant and 400lbs of luggage (don't ask).

UPDATE:This is why I like blogging, and a good way to explain to folks why it’s such a neat aspect of my life. It’s about connecting with folks. It’s about community and sharing information. I just got this email from a reader of my blog.

Hi Scott,
I was reading your blog today and read about your troubles getting from PDX - SEA. 
I am really sorry to hear that you guys missed the flight by 4 minutes. I am a Captain
at Horizon Air and a .NET developer on the side. I was flying that day and it was a total mess in Sea-Tac. 
Here is what happened. Sea-Tac was fogged in all morning with visibilities under 1/4 of
a mile. Horizon has special approval to do very low visibility landings using a special heads-up display. This allows us to get into SEA when the visibilities are below 1/4 mile. (We can land in visibilities down to 600 feet) Anyway the airplane in question flown by a friend of mine, landed in SEA and rolled down the runway to the runway exit. The visibility at the roll out end was extreamly poor and the missed the runway turnoff and went off the runway. SEA has only 1 runway that is capable of landing aircarft in low visibility and they had to close the runway and the airport until the disabled aircraft can be removed off the runway. 
Hope you are having a wonderful time on your vacation. Looking forward to the next
Hanselminutes when you get back. Take Care.

It means a lot to me that I have readers of all backgrounds, not just massive nerds ;), and that we can use blogging as a forum to connect. Thanks for the information about the flight! We all got a kick out of it here in Arusha.

After a brisk 10 hour flight to Amsterdam, a short 4 hour layover, followed by a snappy 9 hour flight to Kilimanjaro, we boarded a caravan with our bags and drove and hour to Arusha.

Oy.

Anyway, we're all here, we're healthy (so far) and the mosquito nets cover the baby's crib quite nicely. Z is a little (+/- 11 hours) jet-lagged, as are my retiree parents, and Mo has a sore throat. My continuous glucose meter is helping me manage my blood sugar excellently and I'm wondering how I ever lived without it.

My sister-in-law works here in Arusha with the United Nations on the Rwandan War Crimes Tribunal. It's a very different town than Bulawayo. I'll hopefully have time to write up some observations on culture and language.

KiSwahili is very different from Ndebele/Zulu - it's more like Shona.

  • Mambo - hello to a peer
  • Safi - response, I'm OK
  • Chigamo - hello to an elder
  • Marahaba, ujambo - response, I'm OK
Give me a week, I'll hopefully have a lot more. Of course, we're speaking Ndebele in the house, and struggling outside, because unlike Zimbabwe, the average local here doesn't speak English.

I'll try to post some photos as I can, bandwidth allowing. We shall see. I'll get more technical posts up at the beginning of the year. We do have two podcasts in the can, and they will appear in the next few weeks. Also, I've got a new Coding4Fun article up, I'll try to post about that also - otherwise, forgive me this month of non-technical content.

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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Vista's "Show Compatibility Files" and the Scrumptious Wonder that is File Virtualization

December 1, '06 Comments [7] Posted in Musings | Reviews
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I was trying to convert some (totally legal) video files into MP4 format for use on my iPod for an upcoming trip to Arusha. I used the Videora iPod Convertor, by the way. By default Videora is set to write to: C:\Program Files\VideoraiPodConverter\Videos so I opened an explorer window and watched that folder for my output files to show up. After hours of converting. Nothing. I searched my hard drive high and low. Nada. What was it chewing on so long? I should have at LEAST 2 gigs of MP4s now. Where are they. I tried again. Hours past. Nothing.

What's this button "Compatibility Files?"

Um, OK. Click.

Zoinks!

Then I remembered. In Vista the rules are that if you don't have explicit (by requesting) elevated permissions to write to C:\Program Files, the system lets you think you are writing there but actually redirects (virtualizes) your writes elsewhere. Jerry has some details here, where I took the next picture from.

On the surface, this sucks in a huge way, especially for my Mom in the "where are my files" kind of way.

As far as programs on my system, there's a number of "mal-behaved" programs that are getting their writer redirected to the "Virtual Store." Of note are MSN Messenger, the new Nero, and FireFox.

Ideally apps will write to the places they should be writing to, like Isolated Storage and such. Apps like Videora should include a manifest that explains what they're going to need (security and permissions demands) so that the consent dialog (run my Consent.exe of all things) would be issued automatically.

Personally, I'd rather see a UI with a link or button in the folder rather than in the Toolbar. It is pretty important and blends in there.

The other really bad UI issue is that there's no way to get to the compatibility-based Virtual Store from the common file open/save dialogs.

The same redirection CAN happen with apps that try to write to registry in HKLM, so watch for that also if something "goes missing."

I can see how hard they're working to make Vista more secure while still maintaining extensive backward compatibility. I haven't had any apps (other than one Java app) bork under Vista yet, but things like this Virtual Store will be confusing until new minor releases of apps with a modicum of Vista-awareness come out.

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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Camera Panner using a Floppy Drive Stepper Motor controlled by a Parallel Port

November 30, '06 Comments [0] Posted in Programming
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Here's a clever guy to watch, Ashish Derhgawen in New Delhi. He's an 18 year old student and he's a wiz at hardware hacks. I've been picking his brain about Coding4Fun ideas, and we might turn his laser-pointer obstacle dectector into an article. He's been getting into WebCams. He's just set up a Web Camera panner using the stepper motor of a Floppy Drive, controlled via the Parallel Port. Seriously, read that last sentence again and drink it in. I'll wait....

Take a look at the YouTube videos on his site. I "met" Ashish while talking about working on a Morse Code application with Ward Cunningham. We want to make a program that will notice an LED blinking Morse Code in a Video and then add decoded subtitles of the morse code as an overlay. Ashish started by getting an LED to flash using the Parallel Port as power and control (video here) and here.

Head over to his site and post a few comments of encouragement and/or ideas on his software, will you? I wish I was this industrious when I was his age. Only took me 15 extra years!

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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Short: My Visual Studio Color Settings

November 30, '06 Comments [10] Posted in Tools
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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!

Here's my freshly exported and slightly tweaked Visual Studio 2005 color settings per popular demand. I'm mixing Consolas and Inconsolata fonts. More font discussion and comparison shots on DamienG's site. Be sure to click the image, as he's highlighted what he thinks are the problems with rendering in each of the font samples. He also posts his tweaked InconsolataDG with a slashed zero while he waits for Raph Levien's revised version.

Scott Hanselman's Visual Studio 2005 Font and Color Settings

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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CardSpace/InfoCard for .NET 1.1

November 30, '06 Comments [1] Posted in ASP.NET | DasBlog | Tools | Web Services | XML
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CardSpace Screencast Perhaps I'm old-school, but we still do a lot of work on .NET 1.1. It's pretty clear that the technology is moving faster than the business, and you can't always run the latest stuff. Besides, 1.1 works very nicely, thank you very much.

While working on an InfoCard/CardSpaces integration project recently (screencast and Identity Podcast and WS-* Podcast) I asked Garrett Serack (nicely) of the CardSpaces team at MSFT to make me a TokenHelper (the code that opens up an Information Card after it's passed to the server from a client like Windows CardSpace) that would work in .NET 1.1.

My argument was/is that many folks who have .NET 1.1 ASP.NET applications might want to include integration with CardSpaces without necessarily moving the whole app to .NET 3.0. I told him I figured it was a few hours work, total, and that I was far too lazy to do it myself. He figured it was about 40 minutes work, being that he's on the team and all. Six weeks and three complete re-writes later, Garrett announces a functional .NET 1.1 Token processor that correctly processes SAML tokens from CardSpace. I encourage you to check it out.

Take a look at the stuff that Kevin Hammond has been doing at enabling DasBlog for Infocard as a comment/admin authentication method. I've really insisted that the DasBlog team (so far) support both .NET 1.1 and 2.0 for flexibility in hosting, and this tool from Garrett will also help us enable DasBlog for InfoCard without insisting on ISPs hosting .NET 3.0.

Brilliant and Kudos to all involved. Thanks Garrett! 

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.