Scott Hanselman

Webinar: Online Banking 2.0

March 1, '07 Comments [7] Posted in Corillian | eFinance
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UPDATE: A recorded REPLAY of this Webcast is available now.

If you're interested in what Corillian does, or just in Banking and eFinance in general, there's a free Web Seminar tomorrow on Online Banking 2.0, March 1st, at 11AM PT/2PM ET.

It's presented by one of Corillian's Product Managers, Max Janasik, and it's going to be pretty interesting. I worked a little on the PPT deck, but what's really interesting is the influence of Social Networking and the general "Common Sense and Good Feelings" around Web 2.0 that we're trying to start spreading around the Banking Community. Starting conversations with your customers, gaining their trust and general business transparency are more and more an issue in the emerging web.

Also, if you're interested because of Corillian's recent announcement about being acquired by CheckFree, you'll see some interesting UI things that both Corillian and CheckFree are working on, and maybe get a glimpse of what a Next Generation Banking experience might look like.

Be sure to register ahead of time.

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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Running PowerShell Scripts from the Command Line in a Hidden Window

February 28, '07 Comments [1] Posted in PowerShell | Tools
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Dave P. said the comments of a previous post "...but it's ugly b/c it actually opens a command window to do it. Batch files don't have this issue. Now if you can figure out a way to run powershell scripts in a hidden window, then you'd be onto something."

Running PowerShell Scripts from the command line is obscure and yucky to be clear, mostly because of escaping of quotes and such.

If you want to run a hidden powershell script, you can use HStart from the awesomeness that is NTWind Software. (Just go over there and download all of his utilities and save yourself some time).

Here's how to run a hidden powershell script:

hstart /nowindow "powershell.exe -command ""&" 'c:\DOCUME~1\Scott\desktop\foo.ps1'""

If you're going to start running hidden scripts like this, or any script, make sure that you've got PowerShell transcripts started with start-transcript and stop-transcript.

**********************
Windows PowerShell Transcript Start
Start time: 20070228113605
Username : MYDOMAIN\Scott
Machine : SUPERDUPERWONDERFUL-T60P (Microsoft Windows NT 5.1.2600 Service Pack 2)
**********************
Transcript started, output file is C:\Documents and Settings\Scott\My Docume
nts\WindowsPowerShell\Transcripts\20070228.113605.3196.txt

GAC Version Location
--- ------- --------
False v1.1.4322 C:\Documents and Settings\Scott\My Documents\Window...
Setting environment for using Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 x86 tools.

True v2.0.50727 C:\WINDOWS\assembly\GAC_MSIL\System.Windows.Forms\2.0....

Hey! I'm in powershell (this is my script running)
**********************
Windows PowerShell Transcript End
End time: 20070228113605
**********************

You can make your scripts run faster by turning off the profile with the -noprofile switch, but be aware you'll have no profile and might not have some helper functions you've previously setup.

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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Office 2007 Foxit PDF Previewer/Handler

February 28, '07 Comments [18] Posted in Reviews | Tools
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Tim Heuer gives to the community and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. 

Everyone's been waiting ((and waiting) and waiting) for a PDF Previewer for Outlook 2007. I'm shocked that Adobe didn't get their act together in time and release one at the time of the launch. It would have been a compelling enough reason to actually put the crapware software on my system.

Well, of course you know I love Foxit Software because their tiny and glorious little PDF Reader (and PDF Creator) software keeps my computer moving fast and Adobe-(Reader) free.

Update for clarity - I'm complaining about how slow Acrobat 7 is, especially with regard to all it's plugins that it starts up during the splash screen. It's true that Foxit has crashed on larger PDFs and there's some quirky rendering sometimes, but I currently still prefer it for "casual PDF'ing." As for Adobe the company, I love PhotoShop, so I'm not impugning the whole building.

Now, Tim has combined the Foxit ActiveX SDK and an MSDN sample on how to create an Office Preview Handler and just called Foxit up. (The MSDN one uses Acrobat if you like.)

Bam. It was done.

WARNING: The PDF Previewer only works on Vista right now. Tim says via email:

"The problem with XP is that the preview handler model is slightly different.

In Vista, the preview handler is provided through a managed preview surrogate (you can see it running when you do a preview) called prevhost.exe.  In XP, this doesn’t exist and the preview must be handled by a COM surrogate."

Last year Tim wrote a Code Preview Handler (not sure if this works in XP?) so I guess I'll be collecting the best of these, methinks!

Let's all go over and crush Tim's blog with comments of encouragement. And convince him to make XP versions. He says:

"So, the next step for this project for me is to create the managed COM host for this code-base.  I have some stuff researched…but anyone interested in providing that host is appreciated. Time is not on my side for that one."

If you have the expertise and can write the unmanaged COM code, give him a shout.

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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Blat - Command Line Emailer saves me time

February 28, '07 Comments [14] Posted in Tools
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I was reading my boss's blog today, as he's a hard core GTD practitioner - more than I - and I'm trying to get better at it.

He recently went on an automation rampage kick around his home IT and wrote a pile of scripts. He also tends to email him self quick little reminders that are filed as todos, as do I, except he can just type

todo "Write a blog post on foo"

And it'll be mailed to him with an appropriate subject and tagged in his Gmail account.

He's using BLAT under Windows (using sendEmail under Linux). BLAT is a command-line util for sending email under Windows. It'll also post to USENET via NNTP if you like.

You can include all the settings on the command-line, or just "install" them in the registry, once, like this:

blat -install localhost whatever@yourdomain.com - - FromScott

Where "FromScott" is the name of a profile we'll use later. Then I can create a TODO.BAT (or TODO.PS1) and put this in it:

@echo off
blat -p FromScott -to
whatever@yourdomain.com -subject %1 -body %1 > NUL

I like running BLAT with -debug, because I'm all about -verbose, don't you know.

NOTE: I'm using Vista and when I ran blat for the first time I was warned by the loader I didn't have MSVCR71.dll, so I ended up getting it and putting it in the same folder as BLAT then it was cool.

I ended up making todo.bat, worktodo.bat and hometodo.bat and they look like this:

start "TODO-ING" /MIN c:\pathto\blat.exe -p FromScott -to me@noneofyourcheese.com -subject %1 -body %1 -debug

So now,

c:>todo "Write a blog post about how my Home IT is automated"

Enjoy.

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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You Can't Teach Height - Measuring Programmer Competence via FizzBuzz

February 27, '07 Comments [48] Posted in Learning .NET | Programming
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The comments are abuzz over at Jeff's blog as he's aggreblogged the current discussion on the FizzBuzz problem. It started when Imran said that he has found so few programmers who can code that he, as Raganwald put it, "set the bar ridiculously low."

A FizzBuzz-style question is:

Write a program that prints the numbers from 1 to 100. But for multiples of three print “Fizz” instead of the number and for the multiples of five print “Buzz”. For numbers which are multiples of both three and five print “FizzBuzz”.

And for the sake of your immortal soul and your webutation, don't post the solution in the comments. You'll only die a little inside if you do.

Speaking of comments, there's some pretty choice comments on the various blogs that are worth looking at:

It's just performance anxiety.
Most people are terrified/stressed out during interviews.
Not "Can you X?" -
"Can you X whilst terrified?"

This is, to a point, reasonably valid, but I think that if you're hiring someone to sing, it's reasonable to have them sing at the interview. If you're being paid to write code for the better part of your week, and you're offended by being asked to write code at the interview, I say you're hypersensitive. If the interviewer pulls out a laptop and says, "let's write some code" at an interview, as the interviewee, I'd be happy to see that they mean business. I mean, we ARE writing code to solve business problems, right?  Seems like not having someone write any code until you've worked somewhere two or three weeks, gone through orientation and company training, could be a dangerous gamble.

Here's another:

However, I have never *once* used - or had call to use - recursion to solve a problem, since I learned about it at university.

Statements like this are kind of dodgy as well. I don't know this individual, but based solely on this one sentence I would surmise they are either, rather young (i.e. recently out of school, maybe the last 5 years) or they've been writing the same general kind of code in their career. Saying that I have never used X since school either means you haven't been out of school long, or that X is a totally useless thing.

What's really important isn't whether a person has used recursion since school, but:

  • Could they use recursion if they had to?
  • Would they recognize the opportunity to use it when it arose?

This can of course be make generic:

  • Could they use [insert well-known computer science dogma here] if they had to?
  • Would they recognize the opportunity to use it when it arose?

A few years back I kind of got some flack for posting on "What Great .NET Developers Ought to Know." I just wrote that post on a plane, brainstorming the general kinds of things I thought that someone who worked for me should be able to answer. It wasn't an exercise in trivia, I was literally writing it up to prepare to hire someone.

Some - very fervent - folks thought it was a manifesto, dictating that one had to know these things to be successful. Certainly this isn't the case.

But what can we ask folks who are being hired to code? What do you think they'll say if we ask:

  • Say, can you code?
  • Bug free, izzit?
  • Lots of Unit Tests?
  • You love Continuous Integration? Cool.
  • Work well with others? Easy going? Charming.
  • Drugs on the side? No. Good. Come to work on time?
  • You're not evil are you? One of Satan's minions? Good...
  • Got a degree of some kind? Yes, good.
    • Or: No? Being doing this a while though? Got good references?
  • Here solve this simply programming problem. Don't worry, it's not obscure or a trick. I just want to see how you think.

Surely these are all reasonable questions...I could go on. Here's the deal, when I hire someone, I'm looking for them to be tall. A boss told me once that he just wanted his programmers to be tall, because when you're putting together a basketball team, you have to remember that you can't teach height.

We're looking for folks who are excited about computers, who are lifelong learners, who are easy to get along with but willing to fight for what they know to be right. We want folks who will raise the quality of their own code with experience, and also raise the teams level of quality through a process of ongoing improvement and introspection. Seems reasonable to me.

One other thing that's amazing to me about this blogversation (look at me coining B.S. Web 2.0 words left and right!) is that some of the programmers who read these blogs feel the need to actually solve the FizzBuzz problem.

They've completely - no, I need a work with more oomph - utterly? missed the point.

The FizzBuzz exercise is an interesting one, but it certainly should only be considered as a single arrow in one's interviewing quiver. But, Imran ends his post with this, and I shall as well: "This sort of question won’t identify great programmers, but it will identify the weak ones."

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.