Scott Hanselman

Programming for Absolute Beginners

September 22, '09 Comments [13] Posted in ASP.NET | Learning .NET | Programming | Silverlight | Windows Client
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You, Dear Reader, very likely don't need this information. I assume you're probably not a beginner. BUT, you likely KNOW a beginner. Share this information with them!

MSDN BeginnerA bunch of people on Twitter discovered the MSDN Beginner Developer Center today. I tweeted it, figured it was a throw-away tweet and it was "re-tweeted" several dozen times. Apparently there's a hunger for Beginner content out there! Who knew? ;)

It's at http://www.msdn.com/beginner and here's some of the cool stuff. Tell your 12 year old and your great-aunt, Dear Reader. There may be a programmer inside one of them.

There's several tracks to go down, first the obvious Web Track and Windows Track, but also Aspiring Pro and Kid's Corner.

Web Track

The Beginner Web Developer center has three tiers, so you can start at various levels of "beginner." You can even start at the VERY beginning with no understanding of how the web works and go from there. The "Introduction to the Web" Video is very good! I'm going to send it to my Mom.

As you move through the three tiers you move up to VB and C# then start building a real application. Along the way you'll learn HTML, CSS, JavaScript and ASP.NET. There's also downloadable lessons, podcasts, videos and code.

Windows Track

This section has another nice video (in the absolute beginner part) in the style of "How Stuff Works" with an explanation of what an OS is, how a computer runs instructions, etc. It's a fun video. This section has lessons like "Life Before Mice" and "Problem Solving in Life and Technology."

Aspiring Professional

Taking it from amateur to "professional" is the real trick. I personally like to say that we're ALL amateurs. I mean, if you can get a gold medal in the Olympics as an amateur, then who am I to call myself a professional?

Regardless, there's more than just programming skills involved, there's also working in groups, as a team, in an office and how the software lifecycle works. There's also sections on moving to ASP.NET from PHP and moving to ASP.NET from Classic ASP.

Kids Corner

Do kids always get a korner because kids love alliteration? I assume so. They also get MS Comic Sans and other bright graphics to keep their tiny attention spans. Seriously, though, the videos are pretty cool and worth watching because it's fun to watch an 8 year old explain Object Oriented Programming.

As an aside, there's some really cool changes happening at MSDN...I've seen some artist comps and snuck stuff out before and used your feedback. I'm hoping to get a hold of some new screenshots and some insider stuff on the new low-bandwidth (and other) views for MSDN that will be launching soon. MSDN Libraries are getting faster, as fast as <2 second page load times worldwide is what I hear, so I'll try to dig up details on that also. More to come, soon.

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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Square Foot Gardening for Programmers

September 21, '09 Comments [25] Posted in Musings | Personal
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As I've said before, I'm not handy, but I'm trying. I want to also point out that I know exactly ZERO about gardening. All that said, here's what I did this year.

April 10th

This April my wife said it was time for us to have a garden:

One day, last week, it was sunny in Oregon. I looked at the strange yellow ball in the sky and grunted and then I went and bought lumber. I figured this is what people do when it's nice out. I've talked about a garden in the yard for years. This time, I made one.

I got NINE 2x12's, and THREE 4x4's. The first thing I learned was that 4x4s are in fact not four inches square. Turns out the whole inches thing is just a big lie in the wood world. This was news, but now I feel informed. :)

I ordered the dirt/compost, almost broke myself unloading two yards (not sure why it's called yards, but it was a trailer-load and a lot) and last night we planted our vegetables.

I cut the 4x4s into four small two foot posts. I made 1 cut each on 3 eight-foot 2x12s. At this point I had:

  • 3 - eight-foot 2x12s
  • 6 - four-foot 2x12s

I used wood screws and put them together like this. Make sure you use untreated lumber or "agriculturally treated" lumber. The idea being that you don't want any chemical leaching into the dirt from the wood. We also got weed cloth and covered the ground before I put dirt in the raised beds. This keeps the weeds from coming up from underneath and eating all veggies.

5183770 

Then I dug 18" holes underneath each of the corners with posts, then flipped the frames over:

IMG_0135

I ordered one yard of dirt with compost from a local dirt-person (did I mention I wasn't a farmer? He may have been a Jawa, can't be sure...) and spread it out with a rake.

Next, and this is important, in my opinion, I took some strong yellow nylon string and some nails and separated each bed into 36 one-foot square squares. We planted some seeds but we also found some "organic starters" that were basically little seedlings that had survived the hard part of childhood.

April 25th

Here's two weeks later...it was a little cold at night, sometimes hitting under 36F, so we used weed cloth to actually cover all the beds at night for a about four nights, just to keep them warm. We took the covers off in the morning.

IMG_0160

June 25th

Here's two months later. Things are coming along nicely. We were watering for 5 minutes each morning at around 4am, but I was told that was a little too much so we lowered it to 10 minutes three days a week. We didn't use any chemicals.

14017351

August 15th

Here's just a few weeks later...things are starting to go crazy. At this point I've realized I've made a few mistakes. The most significant mistake I've made was that I didn't give my tomatoes anything to hold on to. If I did it again, I'd setup little tomato scaffolding and put the tomatoes all against one side of the bed. Interestingly enough, the "All New Square Food Gardening" book warned me of this.

23408265-8b54c750959478ddbe8a9522372b5d86.4ab800ae-scaled

Sept 21th

Here's just a few hours ago at lunch. I've thinned out some of the Zucchini. Here's another thing I learned during this process was this: Only plant stuff you want to eat. I have a metric-ton of Zucchini and one can only eat so much Zucchini bread.

CIMG8797

Here's last night's haul. We just went through the garden and picked stuff that looked ready to go.

 This #sqftardening thing actually works! Today's haul  17437532 

My conclusion is, gardening is subtle but it's not hard. The amount of effort put in vs. the amount of food you get is minimal. You should try it if you've got even four feet square you can get a non-trivial amount of food.

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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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Batch Converting a Directory Tree of Videos Recursively with Handbrake for Streaming to an Xbox360

September 18, '09 Comments [22] Posted in PowerShell | Tools
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Babies! I've got many many gigs of 640x480 video of the kids and family taken on my Flip Ultra and then HiDef video taken with a Creative Vado HD, my current favorite pocket video camera. There's also a bunch of random videos taken with whatever video-capable digital camera I might have had with me at the moment.

These are fantastic video cameras (especially the Vado) but unfortunately the output they produce aren't easily streamed to any Game Console like a PS3 or Xbox360.

There's a glorious open-source multi-platform video transcoder out there called HandBrake. There's also the more sophisticated Expression Encoder. I usually use these applications (both can be called from the command-line) when I need to encode videos.

I figured I'd just drag the whole folder over and magically these apps would happily encode these hundreds of files and all subdirectories. Both apps are fantastic for doing one file at a time, but when you want to do a thousand, things break down. I googled with Bing for a while then decided that the batch files and MacGyver solutions I was finding were silly. Why not make my own ridiculous solution that at least worked for me?

Even better, why not do it as a one line PowerShell script and see if it's useful to you, Dear Reader? Even better, perhaps you'll re-write it in the comments and one day it won't suck as deeply as it does now.

Regardless, this script is currently, happily chewing away at all my videos and even better, these versions are streamable to my Xbox360 from my Windows Home Server. Woot. The Wife is happy.

Here it is:

gci . *.avi -R | foreach-object { $newfile = $_.Path + $_.DirectoryName + "\" + $_.BaseName + "-convert" + $_.Extension; &"C:\Program Files (x86)\HandBrake\HandBrakeCLI.exe" -i "$_.FullName" -o "$newfile" --preset "Xbox 360" }

Eek! But what price my immortal soul?

You need PowerShell for this, if you don't already have it. If you have Windows 7, it's already installed!

This poorly written script takes every *.avi file in the current (.) folder, and all folders underneath it (-R), and for each of this files, creates a new filename with the word "-convert" inside. It then calls the HandBrake command line (yours may be in "C:\Program Files" so you might need to change that. It uses the Xbox360 preset.

After this runs, you'll end up with a whole pile of foo-convert.avi files that should/will stream from your machine to your Xbox360 if you are using the free Windows Media Sharing Services. You can also change that profile and convert all your phone for your phone, or whatever you like.

Here's a snapshot of a classic baby video shown on the big screen. Don't you want to come over for dinner now? You can watch slideshows of all our still videos and now hours of family movies. Woot! Works For Me.

PowerShell experts? I'm quite rusty, and I was just interested in the "Getterdone" version. How can we make it better? How about making it so it only updates files that haven't already been encoded?

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 179 - Hanselminutes Live: Open Source and the Codeplex Foundation

September 14, '09 Comments [6] Posted in Microsoft | Open Source | Podcast
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image My one-hundred-and-seventy-ninth podcast is up. In this unusual episode of Hanselminutes, organized late at night over Twitter, and recorded as a community conference call, Scott moderates a discussion on open source and the new CodePlex Foundation.

I thought that a discussion around a new Open Source Foundation should be produced as an "Open Source Conference Call." We had nearly 100 people call in and dozens had their voices heard. If you like this format, let me know! Also, follow me on Twitter as that's where these kinds of things are organized!

Subscribe: Subscribe to Hanselminutes Subscribe to my Podcast in iTunes

Download: MP3 Full Show

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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Hanselminutes Podcast 178 - Inside a Visual Studio Plugin - CodeRush with Mark Miller

September 14, '09 Comments [0] Posted in Podcast
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MarkMiller_FaceColor My one-hundred-and-seventy-eighth podcast is up. Mark Miller thinks and talks fast. Fortunately he codes fast also. He works on CodeRush for DevExpress, a very intense Visual Studio plugin that helps you visualize and refactor code. How is it built? How does it break the rules? Scott digs in.

Subscribe: Subscribe to Hanselminutes Subscribe to my Podcast in iTunes

Download: MP3 Full Show

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.

facebook twitter subscribe
About   Newsletter
Sponsored By
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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.