Scott Hanselman

Pure Digital Flip Video Ultra Review

May 30, '08 Comments [17] Posted in Reviews
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31t9tfsQuXL._SS400_Turns out you can get the Pure Digital Flip Video Camera for only $119 for a while at Amazon. I paid $144 just yesterday. Shoot.

I bought this for The Wife's birthday because the babies are always doing something awesome and we have no easy way to capture it. We had a Casio Exilim that did video, but it had too many knobs and buttons for her taste and getting the uncompressed video off the camera with a docking station, USB, more button pushing, not to mention getting it online was non-trivial and not something she was willing to put up with.

Hence, the PureDigital Flip Video Ultra. Cheap, with one major button, minimal moving parts, built in software (the software lives on the camera and autoruns when you plug it in), 60 minutes of recording time and it's purse-sized.

Is there anything wrong with it? Not that I can see. My ONLY beef, and I mean ONLY, is that I can't just plug it into my Xbox, but that's actually a beef with the Xbox!

The Flip does 30fps MP4 video at 640x480 (4:3) and looks great on DVDs. It's a ~4000kbps video bitrate and a 177kbps audio rate. It's best feature? Fantastic exposure control. Low light, bright light, it just looks great.

It has ZERO frills. That means no microphone jack, NO settings (just one setting - awesome) and she immediately knew how to use it. But enough typing, this is a review about a portable video camera, here's a video review!

You'll enjoy using the Flip, it's a STEAL for the price/functionality ratio. The WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) is very high on this product.

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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Community Call to Action: NOT Northwind

May 30, '08 Comments [82] Posted in Musings | NotNorthwind
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northwind_thumbI'm just sick of Northwind. Sick to death of the Northwind Database. You know, this is the Products, Categories, Suppliers, yada yada yada sample database that you've been seeing in Microsoft demos since the beginning of time. (FYI, the beginning of time was about 1997. ;) )

Why do we use it? Because it's there. Because it's easy, it exists, and it takes two seconds to install. It's full of good sample data that has international characters. It has a few views and a few sprocs and it's wholly harmless.

Now, some folks don't like Microsoft's (often) focus on "Database Driven Development," and I'm basically Switzerland at this point. Consider me neutral because I've done it both ways, both Domain Driven and Database Driven. With an ORM and without. I'm not 100% convinced either way and I like to have choice.

Plus, when I'm showing some technology that is talking to a Database or to POCO (Plain Ol' CLR Objects) I still need good sample data to pull from. Thus, the Northwind Virus continues.

And I hate it with the heat of a thousand suns.

There are others I could use, like AdventureWorks and its variants and specifically the AdventureWorksLT example is pretty lightweight, but still it doesn't quite turn me on.

I suspect, though, that if we (the community) took a few weeks, did some Skype conference calls, assigned some tasks, brainstormed and did it, we could come up with NotNorthwind. The Lazy Web, the Web of Clay Shirkey, .NET Flash Mobs included, could create a sample database, (we can argue about whether to start in the middle or in the db in the first meeting) as well as some good examples of things like NHibernate, LINQ to SQL or Whatever,

Requirements

  • Complex enough to be called Real World but simple enough that someone could "get it" in 5-10 minutes
  • In a familiar Domain Space that makes sense to folks all over the world
  • Has a decent amount of sample data with strings that are more than just [a-z|A-Z|0-9]

Deliverable(s)

  • Have a single .SQL file that one can run and immediately get a working database
  • Sample Code for any of a number of Database access patterns, ORMs, whatever. This might require a few subtle versions.

I'm making http://www.codeplex.com/notnorthwind and I want:

  • A Project Manager (probably best if it's not me)
  • Modelers, Sample Code Writers
  • Sample Data Creators
  • Documentation Person
  • Release Manager

Who's with me? Leave a comment with your CodePlex Username, Skype Username, your TimeZone offset, and your level of interest and let's do a Skype call to kick this off and be rid of Northwind. Also, if you think this is a stupid idea, why?

Oh, by the way, if you're at TechEd US this next week, be sure to say Hi if you see me, and let's talk about this project, because most of my demos at TechEd 2008 are <gulp> Northwindian in their heritage.

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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ASP.NET MVC Preview 3

May 27, '08 Comments [36] Posted in ASP.NET | ASP.NET MVC | Screencasts | Source Code
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The Gu has announced another regular drop of ASP.NET MVC. This one is Preview 3 and the goodness can be found at the http://www.asp.net/mvc/ landing page.

How does this relate to Visual Studio 2008/.NET 3.5 SP1 Beta

It doesn't. For now ASP.NET MVC is an out-of-band Web downloadable thing. It's bin deployable (meaning you don't HAVE to put them in the GAC) and you don't even need to tell your hosting/ISP. They are what they are - three DLLs in a folder. Bam. Phil has more details on his blog from last week with regard to MVC Preview 2, but the idea still holds. He says:

"MVC Preview 3 will not be affected by having SP1 installed. Preview 3 will include newer privately versioned bin deployable builds of the Routing and Abstractions DLLs. That way these assemblies will not be affected by the versions in the GAC installed by SP1, because they will have different version numbers."

Cool.

ASP.NET MVC Preview 3 Beginner Videos

I did two quick updated beginner introductory videos specific to Preview 3, but the original Preview 2 videos are still up and still mostly valid. As I've said before, there will be more videos as we get closer to release. These are safe to show your CTO and they are short - on purpose - so he or she doesn't fall asleep.

Introduction to ASP.NET MVC Preview 3
Scott Hanselman walks you through an ASP.NET MVC Hello World example in this video updated for Preview 3. He also explains the lifecycle of an ASP.NET MVC application.

Basic Application Building with ASP.NET MVC Preview 3
Scott Hanselman uses a sample database to create a basic Product Catalog management application with create, read, update and delete functionality. You can download the source for this application at Phil Haack's blog.

 

One cool new development is that my team added Rob's Storefront Videos to the http://www.asp.net site and you can check out the first ten videos here. The benefits are several, first, Rob won't have to pay for bandwidth, but we've also transcoded his videos into a bunch of formats for those of you that are passionate about your specific format. You know who you are. Me, I use just WMV or MP4 (DivX/xVid) and think that that's one too many, but you've can you choose from WMV, Zune, iPod, PSP, MPEG-4, and 3GP if it make you happy.

Updated ASP.NET MVC Preview 3 Sample

Phil has updated the Northwind MVC Sample for ASP.NET MVC Preview 3 and you can get it at Phil's Blog.

Preview 3 is also makes it way easier to test Controllers because they return ActionResults now, which gets the Controller out of the call stack and lets the Test focus on what the controller really intends to do, rather than worrying about mocking side effects of what the Controller might have done. As usual ScottGu has left me with nothing good to write about because he's already done a fine post with lots of detail on the changes. So selfish! ;)

BTW, if you're digging the Gu's black code theme, blame me for converting him and go check out the Visual Studio Programmer Themes Gallery, I believe he's still using Rob Conery's Textmate Take 2 theme.

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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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Wii Fit Review

May 27, '08 Comments [17] Posted in Gaming | Reviews
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I like my Nintendo Wii, although, so far it's been basically a $200 Tennis Simulator. The most fun is watching people play it for the first time. We had some friends over last week and they mentioned the Wii, and my wife said "you HAVE to try Tennis!" And they loved it, and it was good. However, as much as I try to get into other Wii games like Metroid and Zelda, I just don't.

But, I am a glutton for punishment, and while I spend more time using my Xbox, the Wife and I thought we'd give the Wii one more try with the Wii Fii Balance Board.

Before you read this review, by all means, watch this horrifically brutal and true Wii Fit Parody.

Ok, now that that's over with, YES, I know the Wii Fit is silly and YES I know it's a waste of money and YES I know I could "just go outside." We do go outside, and we walk and hike and run as a family, so that said...

The Wii Fit is a hoot. It's a lot of fun. Ultimately it's just a scale that knows where your center of balance is because each of the 4 corners is an independent scale. It constantly "re-zeros" itself between activities as you step on and off it, so in the week I've had it I haven't had any issues with its accuracy.

It's questionable as a fitness tool as it made my little Mii Avatar quite fat because apparently 187lbs (a number I'm not proud of) on a 5'11 frame is smack in the middle of overweight. (That's 180cm and 85kilos, by the way) After I entered this info in, my little on-screen dude swelled up and will stay there until I hit 165lbs it seems.

Regardless, I can see how the Wii Fit could act as a motivator for folks, like me, who prefer to workout at home rather than at a club. I actually prefer working out while watching TV, such that I'm forcing my self to work to watch my shows. The Wii Fit is fairly cheap, about US$89, and includes the game disc.

There's "over 40 mini games" according to the box, but in reality there's 4 categories with 12 or so games per. There's strength (all isometric), yoga, balance games, and aerobics. There strength and aerobics sections are fine, but not extraordinary. The games are a blast, especially downhill skiing, but the Yoga section is really nice. I think I'll use the Yoga for 30 minutes or so each evening and see how that goes. I have a number of Yoga DVDs, but I find the balance feedback that the Wii gives you to be invaluable for finding correct posture.

A few years back, the CEO of my then company, Corillian, left and started a company that created a game called Yourself Fitness for the Xbox. I thoroughly enjoyed this program, specifically it's crazy intense aerobics sections. It had a HUGE library of exercises that dwarfs the Wii Fit's. It's like 500 to 20. I'd love to see this application ported to the Wii and supporting the Wii Fit - THAT would be something special.

Still, I'm happy with the purchase, it's not that much more than a good quality electronic scale and if your expectations are set appropriately and you remember it's neither a game nor a really good workout system, I think you'll have fun also. Don't take my word for it, go try one at one of the many locations that Nintendo is setting up as the Wii Fit goes on tour.

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 114 - Website Scaling War Stories with Richard Campbell

May 27, '08 Comments [12] Posted in Podcast
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richard_headshot_web My one-hundred-and-fourteenth podcast is up. In this slightly unusual episode, I sit down with my good friend Richard Campbell and we share stories about scaling large websites over the years. I thought this was a really good show, if a little long and I'm thinking to have Richard on as a regular thing, if he's interested.

Subscribe: Subscribe to Hanselminutes Subscribe to my Podcast in iTunes

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