Scott Hanselman

Hanselminutes Podcast 171 - The Return of Uncle Bob

July 21, '09 Comments [24] Posted in Agile | Podcast
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Robert C. Martin My one-hundred-and-seventy-first podcast is up. Scott and Uncle Bob meet again, this time in Norway and in person. Uncle Bob tries to answer the question Are You Professional. Scott and uncle Bob chat about software craftsmanship.

Links:

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

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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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Upgrading my Lenovo W500 to a OCZ Vertex 250GB SATA II Solid State Disk (SSD)

July 18, '09 Comments [23] Posted in Reviews
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It's an old metaphor I've used for years, originally stealing it from comedian Larry Miller, but it's time to use it again, this time in reference to Hard Drives and SSDs.

The difference between an SSD and a regular Hard Drive is the difference between shooting a bullet and throwing it.

Sweet wondrous universe, it is. Remember that Lenovo W500 from last week? It's a great machine, truly. The best laptop I've ever had.

Here's my Lenovo W500's Windows Experience Index (WEI) under Win7 RC.

Performance Information and Tools (2)

Note the 5.9 under Hard Disk. Here's that same machine using the PerformanceTest Disk Benchmark. My computer is the LAST one in each list, the green one, marked "This Computer." I've compared it with other people's results on the same Lenovo.

PerformanceTest 7.0 Evaluation Version

Looks like 68.6 megs/sec Seq. Read, 43 megs/sec Seq. WRite and 3.5 megs/sec Random Seek+RW.

Here's the same machine after I backed it up with my Windows Home Server, put in an OCZ Vertex 250GB Sata II Solid State Disk (SSD) and restored it.

Aside: Also available in sizes from 32 gig for $300 and up. The 256gig, while spendy, is the best deal. Others, however, prefer the 120gig for about $350 as the best price point.

The drive looks to your machine like an SATA II hard drive and it's already the same shape, so I just plugged it in and it was recognized as a Hard Drive. I didn't need to do anything special to get the computer to "recognize it."

Performance Information and Tools SSD

Notice the 7.3 (out of 7.9 possible) in the WEI now. Here's the PerformanceTest results:

PerformanceTest 7.0 Evaluation Version (2)

Now we see 110.8 megs/sec Seq. Read, 82 megs/sec Seq. WRite and 40.3 megs/sec Random Seek+RW. No physical parts to move around!

Joel Spolsky SWEARS by SSDs and told me it was the single most important upgrade one could do to take a machine to the next level. I hear he's bought new ones for his whole office. Expensive, a bit, yes, but it looks like my disk speed will be at least TWICE as fast, so you can do the math as to the number of minutes I'll save per day.

If you value your time at, say, $100 an hour, and you can save 10 min day total, that's $16. The $650 drive will pay for itself in about two work-months. It's worth your money, from what I can tell.

My Win7 laptop boots cold to password in 10 seconds now, enter password, then working desktop in 6 more seconds. Woot. I wish I had money to put an SSD on every machine. Here's hoping the prices go down.

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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Windows Home Server Twitter Notification Plugin

July 14, '09 Comments [7] Posted in Coding4Fun | Home Server | Source Code
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A while back, the very wise Brendan Grant sent me some sample code that would use Twitter to report the health of one's Windows Home Server. I always meant to update the code to use TweetSharp to talk to Twitter, as well as add some robustness for connected/disconnected scenarios, but I'm just never going to get around to it. Instead, here it is as he sent to me.

There's a REALLY vibrant community around Windows Home Server plugins and if you've got a WHS and you want it to do something that it doesn't do, I'd encourage you to jump in.

Even as I'm posting this, I'm sure there are better and more interesting implementations. However, I like what Brendan has done to abstract away the core COM-based API of WHS for use in managed code.

Here's the full program...note again that the PostTweet() method is hacked together and should use a more robust technique:

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Linq;
using System.Text;
using System.Net;
using System.IO;
using System.Xml.Serialization;
using Microsoft.HomeServer.SDK.Interop.v1;

namespace Twitter_Test
{
class Program
{
static string username = "";
static string password = "";

static void Main(string[] args)
{
IWHSInfo info = new WHSInfoClass();
//Register application name
info.Init("WHS Twitter Client");

NotificationCallbackClass notificationClass = new NotificationCallbackClass();
//Register notification callback class
info.RegisterForNotifications(notificationClass);

//Check current state
Console.WriteLine("Current State: " + notificationClass.GetHealthState().ToString());

notificationClass.HealthChanged += new EventHandler(notificationClass_HealthChanged);

Console.WriteLine("Monitoring for health changes. Press to exit.");
Console.ReadLine();
}

static void notificationClass_HealthChanged(object sender, HealthChangedEventArgs e)
{
Console.WriteLine("Current State " + e.Health.ToString());
PostTweet(username, password, "Your Windows Home Server's health is now: " + e.Health.ToString());
}

private static Status PostTweet(string username, string password, string message)
{
string user = Convert.ToBase64String(System.Text.Encoding.UTF8.GetBytes(username + ":" + password));
// determine what we want to upload as a status
byte[] bytes = System.Text.Encoding.ASCII.GetBytes("status=" + message);
// connect with the update page
HttpWebRequest request = (HttpWebRequest)WebRequest.Create("http://twitter.com/statuses/update.xml");
// set the method to POST
request.Method = "POST";
// set the authorisation levels
request.Headers.Add("Authorization", "Basic " + user);
request.ContentType = "application/x-www-form-urlencoded";
// set the length of the content
request.ContentLength = bytes.Length;

request.ServicePoint.Expect100Continue = false;

// set up the stream
Stream reqStream = request.GetRequestStream();
// write to the stream
reqStream.Write(bytes, 0, bytes.Length);
// close the stream
reqStream.Close();

HttpWebResponse response = request.GetResponse() as HttpWebResponse;

StreamReader sr = new StreamReader(response.GetResponseStream());
string s = sr.ReadToEnd();


XmlSerializer ser = new XmlSerializer(typeof(Status));
object o = ser.Deserialize(new StringReader(s));
Status status = o as Status;

return status;
}
}
}

There interesting part is the Eventing part where he makes changes in your Home Server turn into .NET Events via callbacks. Check the code for details. You can get events when Physical Disks are changed, when Backup States change, or when basically anything happens. There's a number of folks on Twitter already who have their Windows Home Servers tweeting.

If you've got, or you're using a plugin to report your Home Server status on Twitter (or SMS or whatever) leave a comment and I'll update the post! I'm sure there are better solutions than this little sample.

Here's the code if you want it, and remember, it may kill your pets. If so, don't blame me as I'll deny everything. It's a sample you found on the Internet, what did you expect?

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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Burnt Day - I need a Do-Over for Monday

July 14, '09 Comments [34] Posted in Musings
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33_15_10_prev Whatever you do, don't tell my Boss because I'm just sick about this. Like physically ill. I have a confession to make.

I got nothing done on Monday. I need to call a "do-over" for the entire day.

The whole day was a comedy of errors and meetings. I had meetings (phone calls, virtual camera things) from 9 to 11, and I'd blocked 11am until 5pm to work on something specific and important. (Hence the blocking off of time.)

For whatever reason, I was totally unable to log into my laptop. It's never happened before, and I'm pretty technical. ;) I ended up having to drive an hour to the local Microsoft Portland office to try logging in while plugged into a real network.

This got me part-way there, and at this point we're pushing past noon. I then spent the rest of the day messing with my laptop that apparently has a bad video card (it's a hybrid laptop with two cards, one from Intel and one from ATI/AMD) because I was getting video corruption, lockups and general evil. This is what I get for running Beta ATI drivers, of course.

I literally fought with this until 4pm. I could have used VMs, my backup laptop, etc to get my work done, but this was my main machine we were talking about. I couldn't let it go and put it out of my mind.

By 6:30pm I'd missed dinner with the family, fixed my laptop and got nothing done.

I just feel SO bad when I burn a day like this. It seems like it happens about twice a year.

I wanted to get this off my chest and declare this post an "open thread."

Dear Reader, please, regale me with stories of how YOU have burned entire days so that I might some how justify my own toasted day.

* Fire Photo from FreeFoto.com

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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The Weekly Source Code 44 - Virtu, an Apple Emulator in C# for Silverlight, WPF and XNA

July 14, '09 Comments [8] Posted in Arcade | Open Source | Silverlight | Source Code | Windows Client | WPF
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Virtu.RasterBlaster I really advocate folks reading as much source as they can because you become a better writer by reading as much as writing. That's the whole point of the Weekly Source Code - reading code to be a better developer.

Reading code in Open Source projects is a good way to learn, especially if the project has been around a while and been successful, or if you already respect the team of people working on it. Less reliably, you can find snippets of code by searching and sharing code.

I love Emulators. They are magical. Earlier this year I interviewed Pete Brown when he created a C64 Emulator in Silverlight.

Now, it's Apple IIe time. From the Virtu Project Site, you can see that this source has been around in various forms for years...morphing from form to form.

Originally developed for RISC OS (3.11) on the Acorn Archimedes in 1995 using some C but mostly ARM assembly language. Published on the cover disk of the October 1997 issue of Acorn User. Later that year we started porting Virtu to Microsoft Windows (95) on the 'PC' using only C++ with DirectX. A port to Microsoft Windows CE (2.11) soon followed. These were tweaked over the next couple of years but never published. Fast forward to the present and the latest incarnation of Virtu, this time ported to the Microsoft .NET Framework (3.5 SP 1) using only C# with Silverlight, WPF and XNA (on both Windows and Xbox 360, which is limited to the .NET Compact Framework).

In this form, Virtu was written by Sean Fausett with some help from Nick Westgate. This code is interesting for a number of reasons. First, because it's a freaking AppleIIe emulator in a language I like to read (*cough* Not C *cough*), but also because it is cleanly structured and includes Silverlight (that means Mac also!), WPF and XNA (Xbox360) versions. It illustrates a way one can factor their code into an engine and various hosts.

IMPORTANT NOTE: To run, Virtu needs two files that are not included: An image of the standard or preferably the enhanced Apple IIe monitor ROM needs to be copied as 'AppleIIe.rom' (16 KB) to the Roms directory. An image of the Disk II (16 sector) interface card ROM needs to be copied as 'DiskII.rom' (256 bytes) to the Roms directory. You'll also need some disk in the form of a ".nib" file like RasterBlaster.nib, for example. I can't give you those files.

After a successful build, you should be able to run the emulator and perform a self test by pressing the hallowed key combination Control+OpenApple+CloseApple+Reset.

Looking at the WpfKeyboardService.cs, I can see how those keys I don't have are mapped to keys I do:

ModifierKeys modifiers = keyboard.Modifiers;
IsOpenAppleKeyDown = keyboard.IsKeyDown(Key.LeftAlt);
IsCloseAppleKeyDown = keyboard.IsKeyDown(Key.RightAlt);
IsResetKeyDown = ((modifiers & ModifierKeys.Control) != 0) && keyboard.IsKeyDown(Key.F12);

IsCpuThrottleKeyDown = keyboard.IsKeyDown(Key.F8);
IsVideoFullScreenKeyDown = keyboard.IsKeyDown(Key.F11);
IsVideoMonochromeKeyDown = keyboard.IsKeyDown(Key.F9);

Looks like that's ALT, ALT, CTRL, F12 which gives me a weird series of self test screens then "System OK" which is a good sign.

image

This is nice, now I can do a little Applesoft BASIC by booting to the monitor with Ctrl-F12 then typing this, then RUN.

10 TEXT:HOME
20 ?"HELLO WORLD"

Thrilling!

image

It's really fun code to read and it's a lot cleaner than you'd think for an emulator, although there's the expected Giant Scary Switch Statements here and there. Other parts definitely feel like they've been brought along from the past, although, how else would you do them? (Don't look in VideoData.cs, your face will melt.) For example, here's how they draw text (remembering that we're not using Fonts here, we've got a REALLY low res screen):

private void DrawText40(int data, int x, int y)
{
int color = Machine.Settings.Video.IsMonochrome ? ColorMono00 : ColorWhite00;
int index = _charSet[data] * CharBitmapBytes;
int inverseMask = (_isTextInversed && !_memory.IsCharSetAlternate && (0x40 <= data) && (data <= 0x7F)) ? 0x7F : 0x00;
for (int i = 0; i < TextHeight; i++, y++)
{
data = CharBitmap[index + i] ^ inverseMask;
SetPixel(x + 0, y, color | (data & 0x01));
SetPixel(x + 1, y, color | (data & 0x01));
SetPixel(x + 2, y, color | (data & 0x02));
SetPixel(x + 3, y, color | (data & 0x02));
SetPixel(x + 4, y, color | (data & 0x04));
SetPixel(x + 5, y, color | (data & 0x04));
SetPixel(x + 6, y, color | (data & 0x08));
SetPixel(x + 7, y, color | (data & 0x08));
SetPixel(x + 8, y, color | (data & 0x10));
SetPixel(x + 9, y, color | (data & 0x10));
SetPixel(x + 10, y, color | (data & 0x20));
SetPixel(x + 11, y, color | (data & 0x20));
SetPixel(x + 12, y, color | (data & 0x40));
SetPixel(x + 13, y, color | (data & 0x40));
}
}

In Silverlight, they use the same (only) technique that Pete Brown's C64 emulator used to use, the new WriteableBitmap class. This means the XAML is just a single Image, and everything is a dynamically generated Bitmap. Here's the SilverlightVideoService.cs:

namespace Jellyfish.Virtu.Services
{
public sealed class SilverlightVideoService : VideoService
{
public SilverlightVideoService(Image image)
{
_image = image;
SetImageSize();

_bitmap = new WriteableBitmap(BitmapWidth, BitmapHeight, BitmapPixelFormat);
_pixels = new uint[BitmapWidth * BitmapHeight];

Application.Current.Host.Content.Resized += (sender, e) => SetImageSize();
}

[SuppressMessage("Microsoft.Usage", "CA2233:OperationsShouldNotOverflow", MessageId = "y*560")]
public override void SetPixel(int x, int y, uint color)
{
_pixels[y * BitmapWidth + x] = color;
_pixelsDirty = true;
}

public override void Update()
{
if (Application.Current.RunningOffline && /*_window.IsActive &&*/ (_isFullScreen != IsFullScreen))
{
_isFullScreen = IsFullScreen;
}

if (_pixelsDirty)
{
_pixelsDirty = false;
_bitmap.Lock();
for (int i = 0; i < BitmapWidth * BitmapHeight; i++)
{
_bitmap[i] = (int)_pixels[i];
}
_bitmap.Invalidate();
_bitmap.Unlock();
_image.Source = _bitmap; // shouldn't have to set source each frame; SL bug?
}
}

private void SetImageSize()
{
Content content = Application.Current.Host.Content;
int uniformScale = Math.Min((int)content.ActualWidth / BitmapWidth, (int)content.ActualHeight / BitmapHeight);
_image.Width = uniformScale * BitmapWidth;
_image.Height = uniformScale * BitmapHeight;
}

private const int BitmapWidth = 560;
private const int BitmapHeight = 384;
private static readonly PixelFormat BitmapPixelFormat = PixelFormats.Bgr32;

private Image _image;
private WriteableBitmap _bitmap;
private uint[] _pixels;
private bool _pixelsDirty;
private bool _isFullScreen;
}
}

It's a nice codebase and fun to step through. If you're interested in learning about emulation, check it out.

There are Wiki pages with details and quirks for each platform, WPF, XNA and Silverlight. There's still work to be done, so you might head over there and offer to help!

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.