Scott Hanselman

March 2007 My Reading List - Home

March 6, '07 Comments [17] Posted in Musings
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I've been reading less and less lately. It takes about 90 minutes to get Z to sleep, from the time we announce "night-night" through bathtime, and reading of five or six (of his) books, and then rubbing his head until he finally passes out. These aren't things to be rushed, so one has less time to read. Here's what's on my night-stand right now (compared to October last year, and compared to two months before he was born).

  • The State of Africa - I picked this up on our trip to Tanzania in the airport store. It's fantastically dense with information, each chapter is almost a book itself. It feels balanced and thoughtful and the author is well thought of on the 'net and has an extensive bibliography and there's clearly a great deal of research and thought behind the book. I'm still learning, but it sure is whirlwind coverage of the last hundred years in Africa. Recommended if you're interested in the continent.
  • Phantoms in the Brain by V.S. Ramachandran- This was loaned to me by my friend Michael Stanford. It's a very accessible book on neurology, dealing specifically with phantom limbs and phantom pain, and how the body remaps its image of itself. A fascinating read, much lighter than you'd think.
  • Killing Rain (John Rain Thrillers) by Barry Eisler - I love the whole Barry Eisler "Rain" series. John Rain is a half-Japanese, half-American professional assassin who specializes in making it look like a natural death. Because he's in Japan, he doesn't have a car, so there's incredibly detailed (and apparently, accurate) descriptions on how he gets to and from his target's final resting places. He's an assassin on foot, using crowds and organizational behavior to stay in the shadows.
    UPDATE: Barry Eisler, the author, just left a comment below that the sixth installment, Requiem for an Assassin, comes out on May 22! That's so cool. I love blogs.
  • Cell by Stephen King - Folks are picking on this book, but you either like Stephen King or you don't. In this book, the end of civilization starts with a cell phone call...how can you not like a book that starts like that? Can you hear me now?
  • Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions by Neil Gaiman - I can't remember who in my blog posts recommended Gaiman, but I'm hooked. My family is hooked. My parents are hooked. Stardust the Movie is coming out this summer and I just ordered the BBC Miniseries of Neverwhere, for Pete's Sake. This compilation of short stories is great "bathroom reading." Just put it in there and you'll eventually make it all the way through. 
  • Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman - More Gold from Gaiman (Neil Gaiman blogs here), another Armageddon novel I'm reading, although this one is decidedly "jollyer" than Cell. It involves a mixup in the birth of the Anti-Christ and wackiness ensues along with an unusual partnership between a demon and an angel.
  • The Honor of the Queen (Honor Harrington (Paperback)) by David Weber - Darn that Chris Sells, he told me to read the first Honor Harrington novel and now I have to read all, what, eleven of them? The first one started slow...real slow, and then something like fifty pages in, I was hooked. It's better than Star Trek (in terms of space combat) when Star Trek was great. My dad's hooked too. I keep wanting Angelina Jolie to play Honor in a movie, but that would cheapen it, wouldn't it?

By the way, all the links and pictures in this post were quickly and easily added using my CueCat for Windows LiveWriter Plugin that you can download and use as well!

What are you reading?

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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Coding4Fun: Interfacing with a Microsoft FingerPrint Reader

March 6, '07 Comments [5] Posted in Coding4Fun
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Here's a new Coding4Fun article I did on interfacing with your Microsoft FingerPrint Reader. I used the very easy GrFinger SDK from Griaule and I want to thank them for their help with my questions for this article. They've got a fine product that's very easy to code to and their drivers were rock solid for me. Check them out for if you're interfacing your .NET application to any FingerPrint reader, not just Microsoft's.

"In this installment of the "Some Assembly Required" column, Scott Hanselman creates a Family Fingerprint Manager using .NET 2.0 that interfaces with the Microsoft Fingerprint Reader and the GrFinger SDK from Griaule."

In the interest of preparedness, I figured we needed to get the family fingerprinted and to put those finger prints with my "Preparedness USB Getaway Key" and in the safety deposit box, so I created a family fingerprinter.

It's a pretty simple application, I save the fingerprints in an XML file for portability. Note the "auto next finger" feature, so you can fingerprint your friends and relatives just like the cops do. ;) 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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Are you Banking Online? Why not?

March 5, '07 Comments [60] Posted in Corillian | eFinance
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Banking analyst house Celent has published a new Retail Banking report called "Retail Internet Banking Vendors: Luring the Laggards."

I thought it was funny they didn't say "Luring the Luddites." I bet there was a meeting about that.

The company I work for, Corillian, is the big maroon dot in the upper right corner of the chart at right. Our arch nemesis (nemesi? Just kidding, they're lovely people), Digital Insight, is the smaller dot nipping at our dot. This is a multi-dimensional chart, with the size of the dot representing the size of our customer base, although I'm unclear if it's number of users, number of banks, or dollars the bank manages.

Across all four categories, Corillian stands out as the clear leader, followed by Digital Insight. Metavante, a low performer in Celent’s 2005 report, has significantly revamped its retail platform and has performed exceedingly well registering third overall. Online Resources, Fiserv, and S1 Personal Banking also received relatively strong grades.

As we often ask ourselves around here at Cori, who is not banking online and why?

Do you, Dear Reader, access your banking information online? If not, why not? (Especially considering that you're reading this blog!) Is it a hassle? Concerns about security? Where do you bank online and why? If you don't bank online, what would it take to get you banking and paying bills online? Do you want to pay bills from your phone? Discuss...

Follow up question: I personally haven't written a paper check in at least 5 years, possibly 10. If I could turn off checking all together (like ING Direct's Electric Checking) I'd do it. Who are these older ladies with their checkbooks slowing me down at the Grocery Store, and are you one of these ladies? ;) Seriously, do you write checks, and why?

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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Portland: Special BONUS March PADNUG Meeting with Adam Cogan

March 3, '07 Comments [1] Posted in Musings | Programming
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All the way from Australia, Adam Cogan will be joining us for a very special BONUS PADNUG presentation.

This is short-notice, we know - It's this coming Weds evening! Please spread the word around Portland by forwarding this link.

Thanks to Rich Claussen for pulling this together at the last minute.

WHAT: March BONUS PADNUG Meeting

WHEN: Wednesday, March 7th (iCal)
6:00 p.m. Pizza
(sponsored by Corillian Corporation)
6:30 p.m. Presentation

WHERE: The Corillian Cafe
3400 NW John Olson Place
Hillsboro, OR 97124

WHO: Adam Cogan, all the way from Australia, is the Chief Architect at SSW, a Microsoft Certified Partner specializing in Office and .NET Solutions. At SSW, Adam has been developing custom solutions for businesses across a range of industries such as Government, banking, insurance and manufacturing since 1990 for clients such as Microsoft, Quicken, and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation.

TOPIC: Rules to Better Code and Successful Projects
Managing a team of coders can be a tricky experience, especially as most coders like to do things their own way. During this session we go through a list of rules that help make the development process as smooth as possible. These rules govern the creation of specifications and schedules, best methods for testing and fixing bugs and even the employees working conditions. He'll also likely cover some of his tools like SSW Code Auditor that can help you write better code.

Looking forward to seeing you all there!

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 53 - Hiring and Interviewing Engineers

March 2, '07 Comments [9] Posted in Podcast | Programming
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My fifty-third podcast is up. In the ridiculous wake of FizzBuzz, we talk about more practical techniques for interviewing engineers, and Scott interviews Carl for a job as a programmer.

ACTION: Please vote for us on Podcast Alley! Digg us at Digg Podcasts!

Links from the Show

Using FizzBuzz to Find Developers who Grok Coding (mgx)
Don't Overthink FizzBuzz (mh0)
On Interviewing Programmers (mh3)
Why Can't Programmers.. Program? (mgy)
Programming Jokes compiled by Raganwald (mh1)
The Guerrilla Guide to Interviewing (version 3.0) (mh4)
You Can't Teach Height - Measuring Programmer Competence via FizzBuzz (mgz)
What Great .NET Developers Ought To Know (More .NET Interview Questions) (mh2)

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

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 /n software and Telerik.

Telerik is a new sponsor. Check out their UI Suite of controls for ASP.NET. It's very hardcore stuff. One of the things I appreciate about Telerik is their commitment to completeness. For example, they have a page about their Right-to-Left support while some vendors have zero support, or don't bother testing. They also are committed to XHTML compliance and publish their roadmap. It's nice when your controls vendor is very transparent.

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.