Scott Hanselman

The Weekly Source Code 5

September 12, '07 Comments [6] Posted in Source Code
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In my new ongoing quest to read source code to be a better developer, I now present the fifth in an infinite number of a weekly series called "The Weekly Source Code." Here's some source I'm reading this week that I enjoyed.

  • NGenerics - "A class library providing generic data structures and algorithms not implemented in the standard .NET framework." I love it when someone adds something computer-science-like that they feel "ought" to have been in the framework. This is cool code because it's not only adding new data structures, but also extending existing ones. They've added an IVisitor interface to add the Visitor pattern to create the VisitableHashTable amongst others.
  • iGmail, a Gmail interface for the iPhone in Ruby - What a find. This is a simple iPhone-friendly AJAX gateway that gives you Gmail-style email (a view, not pull via the uber-lame Gmail support the iPhone currently has) implemented as a Rails app. Best to host it yourself and take the pressure off his system. Check the source out via subversion. Brilliant.
  • jQuery - Well, not really. I've been trying to get my small mind around this crazy amazing JavaScript library for a while. I read it like I read Rainbow Six. Er, like the way I've been starting and re-starting, and jumping in the middle. I mean, the book is 897 pages and there's a crapload going on. JQuery isn't that long, but there's a LOT going on and you need to keep track of it. Maybe I'll finish someday. At least I know it's awesome.
  • The iPhone Unlock Source - I personally don't care, but I found it interesting to see the out of the box thinking that a community will invoke when a company "locks" something. Reminds me of the Oracle "Unbreakable" fiasco. As Quentin Tarantino says, "He who is most likely to make declarative statements is most likely to be called a fool in retrospect."
  • Arduino - This isn't really like source to read, as it's a whole programming language and hardware platform. I'm thinking of building a robot, so I'm brainstorming different platforms I could use to move the arm, the camera, etc. It is actively developed and loved...more importantly it's a whole parallel universe that I know NOTHING about. When trying to become a better developer, I think that visiting parallel universes can only help one's perspective.

Feel free to send me links to cool source that you find hasn't been given a good read.

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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DNRTV Screencast - Powershell is still shiny

September 12, '07 Comments [7] Posted in Musings | PowerShell | Screencasts | Tools
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The string of unscripted DNRs (I hope you don't mind) by Carl and I continued. Last week during lunch, Carl and  I recorded an episode of "DotNetRocks TV" where I continue to try and convince Carl that Windows Powershell is a goodness. This is  Episode 82 of DNRTV. 

If you're not using Powershell yet, why not? I hope this show helps to convince you of its usefulness, or at least give you an idea of why I love it so much.

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Be aware if you download the ZIP that it's about 200megs. The show is in two parts, so there's an advertisement in the middle of the show...after that advert, Part 2 will automatically start. I encourage you to check it out the ad, first because it's telerik and they sincerely rock, and second because our sponsors pay for the massive bandwidth bills for the direct downloads.

If you like DNRTV, and want to subscribe to the DNRTV Feed, consider using the RSS Downloader features of ĀµTorrent ("microtorrent").

I hope you enjoy the 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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Will Video Chat ever work?

September 10, '07 Comments [20] Posted in Musings
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skypevideoLast year in January I randomly declared 2006 the year of Video Chat. Skype so totally nailed audio chat that I just assumed video was next. Here we are, over 18 months later and as far as I'm concerned it's still not working well.

As far as I can tell, the problem is three things:

  • drivers
  • add-on (crap)-warelets
  • firewalls.

Probably in that order.

Drivers

I went to Office Despot and picked up a Microsoft LifeCam VX-6000 for the wife's machine since I had an NX-6000 before.

Side note: If you seriously hunt around Office Depot you can find some sweet deals. The cam was marked $59.99, but rung up as $39.99 and also had a $10 rebate. Half price baby baby!

The software that comes with these cameras is egregiously bad pretty rough. When I picked up my NX-6000, the LifeCam software was 1.0 or 1.1 and worked fine. It was simple. I ask little of my video camera.

There's a Windows Service called MSCAMSVC (Waaa? A Windows Service installed for a Web Camera? That is an odd architectural choice, IMHO. Some kind of strange singleton decision made there, it would seem.) and when the camera is accessed another process called "lifetray.exe" pops up. Unfortunately it also often pops up with this C++ Assertion on Line 864 of NX6000CameraImpl.cpp. When I try to uninstall it I'm told it's from an "Unknown Publisher." Hm. That's odd.

Cutesy Webcam Applets

Now the software is on LifeCam 1.3 and I upgraded. (No, not my Vista 64 machine, a random 32-bit laptop.) The software has all sorts of questionable options like overlaid pictures of swimming fish. Webcam Program Managers - Is that really something that the public wants? I just want it to appear in the list of cameras when I launch Skype or Live Messenger. That's all.

Where's the Drivers Only installation option? Is there someway I can get this camera to work without installing the cartoon characters and Out of Process COM Servers?

lifetrayassertion

(I wonder if I'll be able to look at line 864 when I work for Microsoft?)

Often I get all black, or all white or all gray video being captured from this camera. I don't know if the program is Skype or the camera or drivers or a little bit of all of them.

I haven't any experience with any Logitech Cameras after the original QuickCam, but I may have to talk this NX-6000 back to the store and get a Logitech. Any recommendations?

At any rate, I plugged and unplugged and plugged and unplugged and eventually got it to work (see picture above).

Firewalls

For the life of me, I can't get Windows Live Call (I think that's the name for a video/audio/chat session in Messenger. It's unclear how that's different from "send a webcam.") to work over any reasonable firewall. However, I can get Skype to work pretty well, but the resolution and frame-rate is blocky at best. (Again, see the full screen chat above.)

Skype is the closest I've seen on Windows to getting Video Chat right. However, both Live Messenger and Skype seem to be limited to 640x480 at low framerate, possible due to the codecs but more likely do to the NAT and/or relaying of traffic at low bit rates.

If someone gets this right on Windows, it'll be very cool. Then I can build ScottAnywhere.

Just for fun, go Google for "Full Screen Video Chat made easy." I just did in desperation. ;)

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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Aliph Jawbone Bluetooth Headset Review and Audio Sample

September 10, '07 Comments [14] Posted in Reviews
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jawboneI picked up an Aliph Jawbone Bluetooth Headset for the iPhone last week. I want to be able to be on conference calls while I drive up to Seattle every month. My current el-cheapo-brand headset is complete crap and you can hear the wind and road noise, and consequently I spend most of the time muted, and the rest of the time yelling.

I'm very happy with this purchase. You can pick one up at Amazon for a decent discount. Do read the reviews, but I am happy.

Pros

  • Fantastic noise-canceling feature.
  • Cool style (if you like that style, but I'm only wearing it while I'm talking on it.)
  • Light, comes with many optional ear things for left/right large/small.

Cons

  • Comparatively Fragile. Not something you'd want to just throw in your pocket.
  • Kind of hard to remember which button does what.

Take a listen to this uncompressed WAV file of me talking on the Jawbone. (I called my voice mail at Vonage while driving , then downloaded the WAV, if you care.)

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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iPhone - Everything that could go wrong did

September 8, '07 Comments [55] Posted in Musings
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iPhonePain OK, so I'm lame. We know this. I'm weak, but I did it. I spent my blog advertising money on iPhone. Sue me. ;) The WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) on this phone is low. Low as I've seen it, so the phone may end up going back to the store - I've got 14 days.

But first, here's what's happened so far.

  • It doesn't work on Vista 64. At all. You can't activate an iPhone on Vista 64 today. Full stop.
  • While I was able to get iTunes installed on Vista 64 last week with a clever hack, there was a new update recently and the Apple Software Update will not run. Also, I can't burn CDs even with the existing install because Daemon Tools x64 and iTunes' Gear SPTD Driver hate each other with the heat of a thousand suns. But, this is iTunes, not iPhone, so I digress.
  • So, I fire up the free Mac Mini and run iTunes, expecting it to prompt for an upgrade. Crash on start. What? A crash on a mac? Seriously, first one for me. I blame iTunes, not the Mac. Reboot, run, crash, reboot, run, crash, uninstall, install (upgrade? waa? I uninstalled...whatever), continue, run, it runs. Whew. Ridiculous.
  • I plug in the iPhone. I get the Activate screen. Cool.
  • I have an account from AT&T that I've had for over 6 years. I currently move the SIM card between my HTC Dash running Windows Mobile 6 and my Blackberry 8600. AT&T thinks I have just the Blackberry, bit the DASH gets to use the same unlimited SMS and unlimited data plan I have. Nice...but...
  • iTunes says "iPhone activations aren't available at this time." Waa? Lame. Try again...
  • Now I get "We're sorry, AT&T has determined that your current account cannot be used with the iPhone."
  • It appears (I can't call support because they aren't open 24 hours...seems odd) that AT&T thinks that my old employer still owns this phone and pays for it, which is odd because I paid the bill for the second month in a row after taking over responsibility for the number.
  • If and when I DO get this thing activated, on the Mac, I have no way to sync my contacts with it.
    • Will this phone be forever tethered to this Mac? What about my OTHER iPod?
    • What about my music?  Can a Mac iTunes installation share the same iTunes Library with Windows?
    • What about contacts? I've got 2038 of them, and I'd like them to sync? Perhaps Plaxo to OSX?
    • What about my Calendar? I use Google Calendar...how's that going to work?

I think my life would be easier with a Windows Mobile Phone sync'ed to Exchange. Sigh. I never thought I'd say that. I am historically not a Windows Mobile fan.

Needless to say all this trouble has frozen my use of iTunes. iTunes 7 become unresponsive and totally unusable upon its release and we're almost a solid year later and my less than 10 thousand songs can't be browsed. I can't use my Audible.com account. I'm screwed. I guess I could copy everything over to the Mac and just keep my Apple interactions entirely in the Mac world because it's clear that Apple and Windows just despise each other. Shocking! ;)

At this moment, this iPhone is a brick. Bummer. Of course, the WAF is in negative numbers as well. Sigh. That's what you pay when you're an Early Adopter. Really Early Adopters pay an extra US$200. ;)

Steve Job really stuck it to me on this one. You should have seen the look in my face when I opened the box. The OOBE (Out of Box Experience) was exquisite. You should see my face 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.

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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.