Scott Hanselman

Set Tops Are Back - Microsoft Media Room

June 29, '07 Comments [7] Posted in Musings
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I know little about IPTV other than I figure it's Television over the Internet. Heh.

Announced earlier this month was Microsoft Media Room, an update to Microsoft's IPTV platform. Long Zheng (fantastic blog) had the scoop four weeks ago when he noticed Microsoft trademarking it in Australia.

I'd personally really like to see Microsoft get this right. Remember UltimateTV? Microsoft's also been talking to Comcast (my provider) about Microsoft's Foundation software for a while.

There's rumor around that say that Microsoft's Foundation software will run on the craptaculous Comcast Motorola 3412 DVR. There's also word that Tivo's software can run on that Motorola 3412 as well. Either why, I needs me an upgrade.

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You can find a gallery of images of the Xbox 360 IPTV interface over at Engadget. It'd be interesting if someone put together a matrix of all the IPTV options out there so we could get an idea of what our choices are going to be in the future. There's already a lot of XBoxes out there, and I'm unclear as to what software will be running on what box. 

For example, I have a Motorola DVR from Comcast, and an Xbox 360. I don't think this is an unusual scenario. I have Verizon FIOS for my Internet. IPTV comes out, now what? Do I run it on my Comcast DVR? Maybe not, perhaps I cancel with Comcast, and Verizon sends me a new set top box. Or, do I use the Xbox 360? If I want IPTV in another room do I go buy another Xbox?

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I'd love for the XBox360 to take on this role. If you've never seen the Media blade with in the 360 or watched a download HD movie on it, you're missing quite a treat. The experience is butter. Truly. Even better is the Media Center integration on the Xbox.

The problem with all this isn't a problem my Mom will have. She'll get one box from her television provider and it'll work. No Problem.

It's me (I?) who will have problems. I just want to watch TV. How will I choose?

Hardware Software Transport Notes
Motorola 3412 Poo Coax Cable It current sucks so bad that it's personally embarrassing for me, and I had nothing to do with it's development. But, the hardware is out there. Whose software will unleash it?
Xbox 360 Microsoft IP Has fantastic potential and I already have the box. Who will offer the service though?
Microsoft Media Center Microsoft Coax or possibly IP Media Center could potentially support IP TV. For Coax or over-the-air-HD it's great, but they are expensive and the hardware is often loud.
XBox 360 to a Media Center Microsoft RDP I can remote into a Media Center from my Xbox.
Tivo Tivo Coax (so far) Everyone loves their Tivo, and they "nearly had IPTV" two years ago. Still, their software could run on Motorola's hardware and be distributed through cable.
AppleTV Apple IP (via iTunes) Video quality was initially quite poor, but more and more offerings are available at at least SDTV resolutions. This will no doubt get better.
Front Row Apple IP Apple's Media Center software. Doesn't support "TV" only iTunes.
OpenSource OpenSource Coax/IP There's lots of great open source Media Center Software for folks with TV Cards
DemocracyTV Non-Profit IP Video Podcasting Client and much much more. Has some good HD content.

Either way, do head over to http://www.microsoftmediaroom.com and http://www.microsoft.com/tv and check it out. Click on Find Your Local Provider and you'll get a list of the providers that can offer Media Room today. Note AT&T U-verse is listed for the US. I've never heard of this service, and their ordering site is down, so I can't see if it's available in my area.

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International (non-US) Readers, what's the word about IPTV and set-top boxes where YOU are?

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 70 - Interview with Timothy Ferriss, Author of the 4 Hour Workweek

June 29, '07 Comments [7] Posted in Podcast
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The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss My seventieth podcast is up.  In this episode I sit down with New York Times Best Selling Author Timothy Ferriss of the 4-Hour Workweek. Tim has an interesting take on how to focus on what's important in your life and offers techniques to be more effective. Scott comes at it from the programmer's perspective. Photo courtesy of John Lam.

DSC_0046If you have trouble downloading, or your download is slow, do try the torrent with µtorrent or another BitTorrent Downloader.

Do also remember the complete archives are always up and they have PDF Transcripts, a little known feature that show up a few weeks after each show.

Telerik is our sponsor for this show.

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)

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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Three Things I Learned About Software WHILE NOT in College

June 28, '07 Comments [72] Posted in Programming
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Dare Obasanjo has a great post on the "Three Things I Learned About Software in College," while Jeff has a fine post called Learning, or, Learning How to Learn that points to a great post called Why Is Forever. Jeff says "How lasts five years, but Why is forever." This is a great lesson to be reminded of and a pithy, but true, statement.

 Here's Dare's three things learned in College. Be sure to check the comments on his post, there's some great stuff in them.:

  1. Operating systems aren't elegant. They are a glorious heap of performance hacks piled one upon the other.
  2. Software engineering is the art of amassing collected anecdotes and calling them Best Practices when in truth they have more in common with fads than anything else.
  3. Pizza is better than Chinese food for late night coding sessions.
    [Dare Obasanjo]

I learned some stuff in College, but here's the "Three Things I Learned About Software WHILE NOT in College" as well

Things I Learned about Software in College

  1. Everything has already been done before and will continue to be re-written over and over until the whole world embraces Lisp.
  2. TCP/IP is a beautiful soup.
  3. Beauty is skin deep, but ugly goes through to the bone. This statement often applies to software. Don't go digging if you don't want to find a hack.

Things I Learned about Software While Not in College

  1. The more complex the software being created, the less the problem becomes about technology and the more it becomes about interpersonal communication and group dynamics.
  2. You're not going to need it (YAGNI). You'll always want to add one more method to a utility class, or speculate on how your software will be used, but ultimately you need to keep code and features as constrained as possible.
  3. Every line of code you write that you feel gross about will ultimately come back to haunt you. Therefore, avoid writing code that makes you feel dirty.

...and I'd ask you, Dear Reader, to share your three things, learned both IN and OUT of college. I'm especially interesting in those who didn't go to college at all, to add yours.

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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About Me

June 28, '07 Comments [9] Posted in Musings
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Welcome! You might want to check out my greatest hits. aboutmeI'm also on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook.

My name is Scott Hanselman. I'm a web technologist and teacher. I work out of my home office in Portland for the Web Platform Team at Microsoft, but this blog, its content and opinions are my own.

I was the Chief Architect at Corillian Corporation, now a part of Checkfree, for 6+ years. I was also involved in a few Microsoft Developer things for many years like the MVP and RD programs and I'll speak about computers (and other passions) whenever someone will listen.

Before Corillian and Microsoft I worked as a Principal Consultant at a local Microsoft Solution Provider called STEP Technology, speaking, writing, consulting, and very much not getting rich during Web 1.0. Even earlier, I worked at a Car Parts Data Warehouse called Chrome Data, and before that I had a small company that specialized in internationalization and thunking. I've also been an Adjunct Professor at OIT, teaching C#. On the side, I created the first PalmPilot Diabetes Management System in 1998 and sold it to a healthcare company five years later. It's now in limbo, but I'm trying to get it released as Open Source.

What else would you like to know?

I am an early adopter, it seems.  I ran Tweak Computer Support BBS, with some success, a very long time ago. I was a FidoNet node. I have nice teeth and love cheese amongst other things. I like Tools, and I've co-written some books. I'm diabetic. I like studying Amharic and Zulu/Ndebele and listening to African Music as well as other more diverse music. I know Black Hair and can both braid and cornrow. I have a podcast. I hack on hardware and waste time. I do Open Source. I have a large forefive-head. I am good at Excel and keep my resume mostly up to date for no reason. We speak Sign Language to my son and my wife speaks Ndebele. I have a great family and have had great teachers and a fantastic wedding with a great Cake Topper. I don't sleep too much. I write a lot. I'm trying to raise $50,000 for Diabetes research.

That's me, today. I'll be different tomorrow, hopefully better.

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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How To: Use the SVNBridge to get TortoiseSVN working with CodePlex

June 28, '07 Comments [13] Posted in Programming | Reviews | Tools
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SVNBridge It's so crazy it just might work. I've been talking on and off with the CodePlex team for at least a year. Many of them I consider friends, so I've always been very frank with them, saying things like:

"I'll never use any Open Source Hosting service without support for Subversion."

Of course, they are using Team Foundation Server, and there's a number of connectivity options if you're cool with them, including:

Still in very active development, this tool is a proxy between a Subversion client and Team Foundation Server. You can use it against any TFS system it seems.

The first version is local proxy - it runs in your tray - but plans are for a server-side version that will require no client installation.

Unfortunately, as of this writing, there's no binary release (or instructions) but here's how you get it working.

  1. Go to the Recent Check-Ins section of the SvnBridge Project on CodePlex and click the Download icon next to the LATEST checkin. Note that it's really changing a lot, so it might be broken. If so, try another.
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  2. Unzip the ZIP file the system will give you, and either open the SvnBridge.sln or go to the command line and run "MSBuild SvnBridge.sln".
  3. Run SvnBridge.exe and note the blue Q-bert-looking icon that appears in your tray. Right-click and choose Settings.
    SvnBridge (2)
    Go to your CodePlex project in your browser and note the TFS Server URL of your project. It seems to usually be https://tfs03.codeplex.com. Enter that URL in the settings. The bridge port will usually be 8081, but you can change that. Note that this means http://localhost:8081 will be forwarded to https://tfs03.codeplex.com (443). The SvnBridge is just that, a port forwarder/translator/bridge.
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  4. Using your SVN tool of choice - mine is TortoiseSVN - browse to a local repository, using the format http://localhost:8081/<projectname> like http://localhost:8081/Subkismet. If everything works, you'll be checking code out and looking at logs just as if it's a Subversion repository. Madness. (I didn't expect it to work...it does.)
    Log Messages - CUsersScottDesktopNew Folder (2) (2)
  5. Here's a constantly updated list of what works and what doesn't in the SvnBridge.

I think that the CodePlex site is probably the most actively developed Open Source Hosting site out there. (I mean the site itself, not the activity within the projects hosted there). They are always adding new stuff and have some nice things like the Advanced View of the Issue Tracker and RSS feeds for literally everything.

I have to give them credit for putting this bridge together, and for Open Sourcing the bridge itself. I'm reading the code now, and it's pretty cool stuff. Hacky, in places, but that's to be expected given the problem domain, but there's some interesting things going on that make the code worth at least taking a look at. They've got a mini-Mocking system called MyMocks (curious) and a TCPTracing "Tivo" like program that appears to code generate tests. Also, if you're interested in WebDAV in C#, there's a playground of good ideas.

Either way, there's interesting stuff going on over there. I look forward to their 1.0 release.

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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.