Scott Hanselman

Hanselforums - Evaluating Forums Software - AspNetForums and InstantForum.NET

July 26, '07 Comments [36] Posted in Musings
Sponsored By

imageAfter reading the very good comments on The Developer Theory of the Third Place post, I put up some forums...

Looks like the group has decided on the AspNetForums for its speed and simplicity. You can visit either /forum or /forums and they both point to (via 301 Permanent Redirect, Thanks ISAPI_Rewrite!) http://www.hanselman.com/forum.

Thanks to all the early adopters and testers. You're a great bunch and I'm happy to call you my friends and my community.

UPDATE: There are now two for evaluation.

Two forums enter, only one forum leaves! You will decide. Please visit both.

So far, the feeling is that AspNetForums is obscenely fast, but doesn't have threaded discussion, so I question what value it adds. InstantForum is amazingly configurable and flexible, pretty and has threads.

For now, consider them an evaluation, and a place for folks to initiate discussion. It's not integrated with this Blog, except by URI, but we can certainly look at ways to tighten things up.

The first is using AspNetForum 4.1.2, but I'm interested in hearing your suggestions and opinions about other and/or better forums choices, perhaps Community Server? The second one is InstantForum.NET.

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.

facebook twitter subscribe
About   Newsletter
Sponsored By
Hosting By
Dedicated Windows Server Hosting by SherWeb

The Developer Theory of the Third Place

July 26, '07 Comments [36] Posted in Microsoft | Musings | Programming
Sponsored By

coffeerepublic There's a theory that says that for everyone there's Home, Work and a Third Place. If you ever watch the American TV show Cheers, that bar was the Third Place for many of the characters.

Some examples of a Third Place are various Places of Worship, Community Centers, The Mall, The Gym, The Park, and Applebee's. It seems for many people the Internet is becoming a Third Place, although some argue that Television has become the de facto Third Place and the Internet ranks as the Fourth Place.

Fred Gooltz gives this formula for a good offline Third Place:

These are the sorts of public spaces that I crave --online and off. Some essential ingredients for successful offline third places include:

  1. They must be free or relatively inexpensive to enter and to purchase food and drinks.
  2. They must be highly accessible, ideally one should be able to get there by foot from one's home.
  3. A number of people can be expected to be there on a daily basis.
  4. All people should feel welcome, it should be easy to get into a conversation. A person who goes there should be able to find both old and new friends each time they visit.

However, in America there are fewer and fewer Third Places that don't cost money. I personally feel guilt sitting around Starbucks too long so I end up ordering a Guilt Coffee - and I don't drink coffee, ut just sits there getting cold, assuaging my guilt.

Starting in September, while I'm building a home office, starting with a stolen borrowed stapler, I'm going to be tasked to engaging deeply with the community, more than ever before - ironic indeed that I'm currently leaving the community that energized me in the first place! I will probably work some percentage of the time in a Third Place.

Here's some of the things I'm going to try in order to "stay frosty" when it comes to things development:

  • Continue work on real world Open Source projects that are used by thousands.
  • Schedule visits, probably a few a month, with development shops and ask them if I can "come and hang out." While I'm there, I'll ask them how they develop, what they use, what problems, war stories and trouble they've caused and if they are having fun in the process.
    • (If you're in a Portland/SW Washington dev shop, invite me! If I'm visiting your town, I'll let you know on this blog and I'd like to stop by! I'll post in my Facebook Profile where I'm going, and probably on Twitter as well.)
  • Find Third and Fourth Places offline and online and listen.
  • Have as many conversations as I can with developers.

As to Third/Fourth Places online, there's a four year old, but very good, paper on Social Software by Lee Bryant where we says:

It seems ironic that one of the most individualist industries (internet development) in the most individualist cultures (e.g. US, UK) has spent so much time discussing community. As Meg Pickard points out , this perhaps reflects an anxiety with our own social fragmentation and alienation, a search for meaning, or possibly a yearning for a sense of community that has been lost with the decline of the "third place" – public spaces where people would normally meet and interact physically.

It's interesting to read an article "so incredibly old" (in the Internet world) because the MySpace/FaceBook world of 2007 gets to look back on the last four years with the benefit of history. While the Internet has always, kind of by definition, been social, it appears that 2003 was when Social Networking really took it to the next level.

There's a fine Social Networking Sites Timeline at pbwiki, started by Danah of U of Berkeley that documents that 2003 was (possibly) when LinkedIn, Friendster and MySpace started. While I don't think of it as strictly a social site, slashdot started in September of 1997, many many years earlier. It is more of ~news site, its comments and moderation system is very sophisticated and it's certainly a very social an energetic place.

Fast forward to today. I'm on LinkedIn and FaceBook. One for business and one for personal, from my point of view; this may change.

However, while these are interesting places to poke around, and the "dashboard" view in Facebook is certainly interesting, neither of these places really feels - to me - like a community. Neither is a Third Place. They're more like a Social Brain Dump and they are still Walled Gardens.

Where do Developers hang out? Where do they hang out online? Is Programming.Reddit.com a community or a mob? My first thought was that blogs, like mine, like yours, were a place to hang out. I certainly hang out here some and I enjoy the community. Then I thought about dzone, del.icio.us, dotnetkicks, and others, but started to think that raganwald is right when he says (emphasis and clipping mine):

A popular blog post can generate hundreds of comments. When those comments are attached to the post, you can read them right on the post. Anybody finding the post finds the comments. That's value added to the post. Search engines can index them.

But when the comments are in programming.reddit.com instead of on the blog post, what happens? ...And what if the company owning the comments blocks search engines, or goes out of business? The value is lost forever.

Those comments are on the Internet, but they aren't on the web. The web is composed of pages with contextually relevant links between them. Social bookmarking applications subvert this basic structure. They are unraveling the web itself.

In this case, the value of those potential third places diminishes greatly - again with the walled gardens. I'll still continue to use del.icio.us, because it is just so delicious, but I have decided that Digg and Digg-Clones really provide minimal value to me over having you, Dear Reader, email or chat me links you know I'll like - because you know me, the Digg Mob doesn't. Moreover, now that I know that there are comments out there about my posts, these social sites are actually taking value away as they fragment the conversation. Thus, they aren't good places to hang out.

Is the Blogosphere, the real linked web, the Third Place for the Developer? Is there a place on the Internet that hasn't been created yet, or a specification that's missing to really bring a sense of community - of Third Placeness - to the Web, or do we already have everything we need?

Where is your current Third Place?

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.

facebook twitter subscribe
About   Newsletter
Sponsored By
Hosting By
Dedicated Windows Server Hosting by SherWeb

Wrong File Types View in Vista Explorer Folders

July 25, '07 Comments [18] Posted in
Sponsored By

I hope this is considered a bug (or at least an issue) and will be addressed in Vista SP1. I'm growing increasingly frustrated with Vista when Explorer decides that one of my many thousands of folders contains pictures and videos and surely I must want to rate them and tag them and see what date they were taken on. Don't get me wrong, the Folder Templates are lovely. I just don't like the assumptions that are being made.

unna

imageThis folder above is my Apple Newton Software Archive, from unna. Note the Explorer Columns like "Date Taken" and "Rating."

Right click in the whitespace of Explorer and click "Customize This Folder..." You can also click Organize|Properties from the menu if you like.

From the Properties Dialog that appears, click the first Dropdown that likely says "Pictures and Videos" and select "All Items." You may want to click "Also apply this template to all subfolders.

unna Properties

Personally, I visited c:\users on my Vista machine and applied the All Items view to every folder from there down.

This is probably my number one beef with Explorer right now.

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.

facebook twitter subscribe
About   Newsletter
Sponsored By
Hosting By
Dedicated Windows Server Hosting by SherWeb

Uncle Ronald

July 25, '07 Comments [11] Posted in Musings
Sponsored By

55' MG TF-1500-Priest RiverI've posted in the past about my Grandpa before, thereby blatantly breaking Rule 2 of my own 32 Rules to Keep Your Blog from Sucking. (What a hypocrite I am! Plan on seeing me break that rule often.)

Today I break Rule 2 again to wish my Uncle Ronnie a Happy 87th Birthday this week.

I never had a grandfather in my life. My paternal grandfather, whose face some say I share, died when my father was 11 and I never knew my maternal grandfather.

Uncle Ronnie is my grandmother's first cousin. He's a Lawson and my grandmother's mother was a Lawson. Ronald's dad and my grandmother's mother were sister and brother. The details are still confusing to me, but they don't matter, as he's still Uncle Ronnie. He's the only and closest thing to a Grandfather than I've ever known.

Ron & Margaret @ TimberlineMy grandmother is now 91 and lives across the street from Uncle Ronald and his wife Margaret, delights during our visits in telling me that she used to baby-sit Ronald.

The car picture is Ronald in a new 1955 MG TF-1500, and the skiing one is Ronald and his wife of 63 years (not a typo), skiing at Timberline Lodge here in Oregon.

Ronald is the keeper of the family stories and of the family genealogy. Uncle Ronnie is a fine writer and wrote an eloquent write-up of the wake of my cousin Hawthorne Hunt when she passed too early in September of 2002. He's a big letter writer and when I brought him a laptop years ago and set him up with Juno, he single-handedly re-connected the family with dozens of our relatives in Scotland and maintains a huge list of everyone's emails.

I think it's time I set him up with a blog, because he is the family raconteur. He knows every story and tells them better than any of us.

CIMG2620

He's creative and fearless. We set up a scanner together and I suggested he start scanning his pictures and certificates for posterity. Once I sent him an email with a picture attachment. He didn't know (at the time) how to Right Click|Save As, so he printed it out on his Inkjet and scanned the photo back in - and I was thrilled with this ingenuity. He surfs the web and emails daily and generally keeps the family all connected and sane, perhaps more than he realizes. I've never seen him angry or cross and he tells a number of excellent Scottish jokes.

Happy Birthday Uncle Ronnie!

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.

facebook twitter subscribe
About   Newsletter
Sponsored By
Hosting By
Dedicated Windows Server Hosting by SherWeb

Vonage Visual Voicemail

July 24, '07 Comments [10] Posted in Reviews
Sponsored By

vonageWe use the Vonage VOIP service here at the Hanselman House, and I recently turned on Vonage Visual Voicemail. Ordinarily when I get a voice mail message from Vonage, it attaches a WAV file to the email. I can't listen to the WAV on my Blackberry (for whatever reason. I probably could on a Windows Mobile phone) and sometimes I just don't want to listen to it. So, they send you the text of the message.

In their marketing pitch they offer this example:

Tired of listening to the same voicemail message over and over to make sure you wrote down the directions to the soccer game correctly? Just print out the message and you're on your way!

Hm. And why didn't I just map it out online and print the map? Why would I print out a transcription that is a very likely percentage wrong? Seems like a bad marketing example to me. Here's a better one they had:

Can't remember what time to pick up your daughter? With Vonage Visual Voicemail, just use your email search capability to find the information you need!

Now, in this example I find it a little hard to believe I'd forget something important like when to pick up a child, but ignoring that, I like the idea of searchable Voicemail.

Here's some actual voice mail examples that I've received recently:

Date: Jul 23 2007 07:04:32 PM From: Outside Caller To  : Scott Hanselman
Hello! This is a friendly reminder from Blockbuster. Our record shows that  as of Sunday, July 22nd, our Blockbuster customer has some items that have not been returned by the due date listed on your receipt.   Please note that if you choose to keep these items beyond store closing time on  July 26, your account will be charged the selling price for the items.  If you have any questions, please call your local Blockbuster store at 503-629-0500. Please disregard this notice if you have already returned these items.
--- Brought to you by Vonage ---

Rock on, they totally nailed this one. Probably because it was another computer talking very clearly and slowly on the other end. Hm. Let's try one from an actual human being:

Hi! Hi Studge.  It's a bad day.  I'm sure you guys have put (??) down.  I'm so sleepy.  I'm so tired.  I (??) to (dance?).  I (??) (??).  And, oh yeah, I'm tired.  I ain't tired on the other hand.  I'm trying to get up, open one eye and study my homework.  See you tomorrow?  Yup, dangerous time, dangerous times to do homework, but, i got you message yesterday I could hardly open one eye.   Monday I still can hardly open an eye. So, hmm. I have (class?) tomorrow. I should be home by 7 so I will try and call you then.  Okay, (so save as a small candle?) with my semi lighting .  I have to let it go.   Quite a (??).  Okay, I will talk to you tomorrow.  I need a couple of (??) to do. My bed always come (??) a little out of it. Oh, but I'm fine.

Wow. Let me just assure you that this wasn't even close. Like, there's not even a thread of cohesion here. Notice the lowercase "i" as well.

One of the first questions I had when I started using this was, "have they hired a legion of people to transcribe this, or are they using Voice Recognition." Looks like Vonage has outsourced the project to SimulScribe that appears to be a technology - not Mechanical Turk - based solution.

Here's another:

We're sorry.  We were unable to transcribe this message.  You will not be charged for this message.
Please listen to your voicemail.

Bummer. It's interesting to see what it gets right and what it gets wrong. Yesterday it send me a transcribed Voicemail saying that our friend had just come back from 4 weeks in Maui. We were like, Maui? What's she doing in Maui? Well, she's from Mali. Once we listened to the actual voicemail it made more sense.

Another oddity is that I can't log into Vonage and read my transcribed Voicemail either. They don't appear in the interface.

Even with all this weirdness, it's still pretty sweet when it works. It's about 1/3 right now. Definitely for the early adopter...maybe someday it'll be 99%. I'm looking forward to seeing what the Exchange/Communicator stuff inside of Microsoft does in this space.

Technorati Tags: , ,

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.

facebook twitter subscribe
About   Newsletter
Sponsored By
Hosting By
Dedicated Windows Server Hosting by SherWeb

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.