Scott Hanselman

DasBlog2 Theme Contest

July 4, '07 Comments [12] Posted in DasBlog
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We're running a dasBlog Theme Contest! As we get ready for the 2.0 Medium Trust release, we thought it'd be nice to get a few more themes together.

What do you get for your troubles? Well, you get fame beyond measure as we'll ship your theme along with DasBlog. If lots of folks use your theme and you include a link to your own blog in your theme, you could get Google Juice.

But wait, that's not all, if your theme is selected as the most awesome by the DasBlog team (the folks on the developer's list) you also get a US$100 Amazon Gift Certificate.

If you've got a great theme you want to share, or even if you just want learn How to make a DasBlog Theme, head on over to Ben's blog as he's got a writeup on how you can get started with your own custom theme, and possibly walk away with 10,000 pennies in Amazon Cash.

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 Determine if a User is a Local Administrator with PowerShell

July 3, '07 Comments [13] Posted in PowerShell
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I truly must be losing it, but my intern and I fought with this simple task for at least 15 minutes today and it REALLY shouldn't be this hard.

Anyway, this is what we came up with to figure out if a user is a Local Administrator. It's not very "terse" PowerShell because the goal is (trying to) teach him so there's temporary variables.

$userToFind = $args[0] 
$administratorsAccount = Get-WmiObject Win32_Group -filter "LocalAccount=True AND SID='S-1-5-32-544'"
$administratorQuery = "GroupComponent = `"Win32_Group.Domain='" + $administratorsAccount.Domain + "',NAME='" + $administratorsAccount.Name + "'`""
$user = Get-WmiObject Win32_GroupUser -filter $administratorQuery | select PartComponent |where {$_ -match $userToFind}

$user
I Googled all over and thought about a number of ways this could be done, but this turned out to be the easiest. I'm interested if you have hit this before also and what you came up with.

Nonte that SID value for the Administrators group is a "Magic Number" that's hardcoded, but we get around that because it's always been that way and can never change. Instead I call it a "Well-Known Value" and sleep better at night.

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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Password should not contain any special characters, symbols or spaces

July 3, '07 Comments [27] Posted in Musings
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secure

When signing up for an Mvelopes Personal trial, I selected my traditional unique super secure crazy password special for this site and was told "Please enter a valid Password (Password should not contain any special characters, symbols or spaces)."

Patrick was standing with me while I tried to sign up. After we picked our jaws up off the ground he said:

"Seriously, how about a dialog box that says 'Please ensure your password is all lowercase and only contains words from the dictionary.'"

Folks, please, use strong passwords. For me, I'm going to pass on financial institutions that encourage passwords like "password" to protect my money.

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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Why I don't use Intuit's Quicken or Microsoft Money

July 3, '07 Comments [61] Posted in eFinance
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compuserveI've been banking online as long as I've been online. I've always avoided checks, preferring to do as much as I can electronically.

I used QuickBooks under DOS, and ComputerServe Finance under OS/2. Even though I took "Home Economics" in school - we were all required to learn how to balance a checkbook - it never made sense to me why I should have to reconcile how much I THINK I have with how much the Bank knows I have.

I used QuickBooks, then OFX (Open Financial eXchange - arguably the first public "Web Service," even though it's SGML and bailing-wire - and moved forward as new, better personal finance managers (PFM) came out.

I diligently have exported and imported, massaged and cajoled over 20 years (yes, twenty) of financial data from my first sole-proprietorship at 15 until today moving accounts and account data from bank to bank and from PFM to PFM.

To this day, I'm convinced that Microsoft Money 95 was brilliant, wonderful and before its time. It had a forward/backward browser like metaphor and was unapologetic about it. It wasn't trying to be like the MDI (Multiple Document Interface) "peer applications" of time. It focused on one thing and one thing only - to be a local register for all your money.

Then came the fancy stuff, and the advertising and upselling. I upgraded like clockwork. Oh! A new version of money! It must be 365 days better! I paid my $49.95, then got the Deluxe the next year for $79.95, then the super Deluxe Business Edition. It got slower and slower. Remember I've got Money files with data going back decades, plural. I tried culling the data, to include just the last 10, then 5, then 2 years. Still slow. Painting slow.

Accounts open and closed, banks changed account numbers, banks changed OFX servers, things broke. I got downloaded transaction data like "JITB#45,21312323423,$%@#$@ - $4.95" and wondered why my bank was swearing at me, rather than telling me I spent $4.95 at Jack In the Box on the corner of Walker and Jenkins then plotting it on a map.

redrocker@200665111650 Of course, this isn't all Money's fault, it's the banks, it's the data consortiums like OFX and IFX (disclosure, I was the OFX Vendor Committee Chairman for 2 years and I suck too. I could have done a LOT more.) and it's the back end systems.

Data's not pretty, and Money and Quicken are forced to create local rules to parse out the data they get from bank and the bill payment clearing house and built lists of rules of regular expressions to convert JITB#45 into "Jack In The Box."

Plus, if you don't log into your Money or Quicken for a few months, just try catching up and reconciling, especially if your bank only holds 90 days or less of account history.

I switched this year from Money 2006 to Quicken. Sadly, it's even worse. It paints unspeakably slowly, and in the 5 months I've been using it, it's updated itself at least three times, presumably in order to play well with Vista. Regardless, it's the same old story. Chasing data feeds in order to get my small mind around my smaller money. Even more, these OFX feeds that bring this data into Microsoft Money and Quicken may starting costing extra.

So, I stopped. I log into my bank's websites directly. I use their online tools, and they continue to get better, adding Ajaxy goodness, some powered by Corillian/CheckFree (my employer).

wachoviasample(By the way that's not a screenshot of my account...whoever that is did a lousy blurring job.)

I never thought I'd say it and I know Chris "Mr. Desktop App" Sells will disagree vehemently, but if I can get an application online, I'm more likely to use it, and use it often.

Sure, a lot, if not all, of the cool features of a site like Wesabe could be had via a connected local desktop application, but then there's all the updating and what not.

Maybe there's a space in the world for a Personal Finance Manager - a MoneyKiller or QuickenKiller - written in Adobe Apollo, Flash or Silverlight. Maybe online apps that manage money will get smarter with new Browser Plugins like Google Gears (once there's a security story). Either way, I don't think the future of my money involves a 350 megabyte CD-based installer.

Do you use Quicken, QuickBooks or Microsoft Money? Do you connect to your bank from inside those apps?

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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Why You Deeply Want an iPhone - NOW

July 1, '07 Comments [25] Posted in Musings
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IMG_2080Because you're bored.

Possibly because Steve Jobs said they are cool, but ultimately because we are all pretty much bored with computers. The whole keyboard and mouse thing is just about over. Maybe another 5 years, then it'll be keyboard and Multi-Touch. There will be some mice and some tablets/styli, but the majority of us will be lovingly caressing the non-scratch screens of our computers with our greasy hands.

Speaking of greasy hands, I stopped by the local AT&T store to check out an iPhone. To be clear, I didn't camp out or hire a college kid to stand in line. I mean, seriously, who does that? (Apparently all my friends.)

No, I just swung by at 10am yesterday. It went like this.

Me: "Hey, how's it going"

AT&T Dude: "How can I help you."

Me: "You're probably all out of iPhones, right? I wanted to touch one."

AT&T Dude: "Sure, we've got 8gig and 4gigs."

Me: "Waaa? You're not sold out? Didn't you have campers here?"

AT&T Dude: "Yes, but they got their iPhones, and we have hundreds left."

Me: "What's this? Hundreds you say? Why'd they camp out."

AT&T Dude: "I dunno, I mean, it's cool, but you're here on the next day"

Me: "But there's no one here at AT&T. Weird. Anyway, my wife won't let me have one."

AT&T Dude: "I hear that a lot. Well, feel free to use it as long as you like."

And I did. I spent quite a bit of time with it. It's gorgeous and I must have one. Why? Whether it's Microsoft Surface or the iPhone, Multi-Touch is brilliant. I know this  because I've seen touched the promised land. And because I'm bored.

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.