Scott Hanselman

Connectify creates and shares Virtual WiFi Hotspots with Windows 7

October 29, '09 Comments [9] Posted in Reviews
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Somewhere around 2002, Microsoft Research started trying to figure out how to virtualize a WiFi adapter so one physical adapter could act as multiple virtual adapters. This functionality is actually baked into Windows 7, so if you've got 7, you've got this.

Fast forward to today and there's a new product in Beta called "Connectify." Since I just started using a new 4G WiMAX product called Clear I thought this would be the perfect match.

First, on my Dell Mini 9, I made a connection with Clear.com's WiMAX.

Screenshot of my Dell Mini 9 connected to Clear and using Connectify

Then, I simply ran Connectify, gave it a new secret WPA passphrase, and created a new WiFi hotspot. I could have called the HotSpot anything and the passphase can be anything.

Next, over on my Lenovo T60p, I checked out the list of WiFi hotspots nearby:

Conectify in my list of WiFi hotspots

There it is. For the test, I disconnected my primary WiFi and connected only to the Connectify spot and it worked famously. I was sharing my Clear.com connection with two laptops.

I love this product and I know I'll use it all the time. The real question is going to be how they price it. I'd totally pay $19.95 for this to connect up to, say, 3 people. If they try to charge $40 for a basic service, that's going to be a hard sell in my opinion. Personally, I have no idea how much they intend to charge, I just caution them and hope they think about this.

Isn't this just Internet Connection Sharing?

This was my first question. I asked their support and suggested they add the answer to their FAQ. It's a very good answer and spot on:

The ICS (Internet Connection Sharing) feature you mention is really ICS + Ad Hoc WiFi. 

My quick response is:

1) It's a real wifi access point, not an ad hoc Wifi connection.

2) The Virtual WiFi driver feature in Windows 7 lets us set up your Wifi access point, while actually staying attached to another Wifi network at the same time.  With the old ICS/ad hoc thing, you could not use your internet connection for anything but the ad hoc sharing.  (ie, you needed to get your internet from another card).

3) I realize you're at Microsoft, but ICS has severe issues.  It loses all of your settings every time the machine reboots for example, making it effectively useless for anything but a quick demo. 

Makes total sense to me. ICS is nice if you have two network cards, but it's hardly convenient or easy.

One unrelated caveat:

Warning: You need to check with your provider if you're planning on sharing your connection. I'm planning on using it from, for example, my hotel to share with my phone, or at a coffee shop to share with maybe one additional person. Share smartly. From Connectify's site:

Am I allowed to share my Internet?

This depends on the terms of service of your Internet Service Provider. Many have terms against reselling the connections, however sharing with friends, family and your other computers is generally fine.

It works fantastically. The UI is a little goofy, particularly the form validation is unclear. Make sure your WPA password is at least 8 characters or you'll get flummoxed.

Still, Connectify is a winner and I wish them all the best!

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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Light it Up: List of Applications that use new Windows 7 Features

October 26, '09 Comments [42] Posted in Win7 | Windows Client
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I'm digging Windows 7 more and more. So much so, that I'm watching out for apps that use new features like Jump Lists, Libraries, Power Management, Taskbar Progress Bars, Icon overlays, Multitouch, Ribbon, High DPI, Sensors, Locations, etc. I thought I'd start a post listing the applications that are using new features in Windows 7. Basically what apps "Light up" on Windows 7.

Yes, I realize that this list will soon (weeks? months?) include every Windows app, but it's nice to have it now while we're all playing with our shiny new toys.

Here's the ones that I've noticed. Add the ones you've found in the comments and I'll update the list!

 


 

Gmail Notifier Plus

This little app sits in your Windows 7 "Superbar" and checks your Gmail. You get tasks as well as a list of your unread email and a preview of each mail. There's even a nice little number overlay showing the number of unread mail.

 image

WinSnap

This is a screen capture utility and when it's pinned to the Taskbar it gives you a JumpList for taking screenshots.

win7_tasklist-3

Google Chrome 4 and Internet Explorer 8 and FireFox 3.6 (Daily Alpha Build)

As of this writing, both IE8 and Google Chrome have Windows 7 features. Chrome includes JumpLists and Tasks and IE8 supports not only those, but also Aero Previews of individual tabs (rather than just windows.) Firefox 3.6 Beta 1 also includes just the Tab Preview feature. Now that Windows 7 is out, I'd expect everyone to start ramping up the UX (User Experience) to get lit-up on 7.

The preview of individual tabs keeps me coming back to IE8. It's a REALLY nice feature and it's hard to get along without it.image

One subtle but irritating thing I did notice, was that the Aero Previews for Firefox 3.61a1 (build 2) are really unclear and poorly dithered. Here's an IE8 preview showing cnn.com next to FireFox showing the same page.

I'm sure they'll fix it, but it's irritating to my eye. I immediately noticed it. I'll add Chrome whenever they add this feature.

IE8

image

Firefox 3.6a1 build 2

image 

Zune 4 and (kinda) iTunes 9

Zune 4 includes Quickplay and Smart DJ tasks, and iTunes just includes two hard-coded tasks. Zune also ups the Win7 ante with its smaller and docked and minimized view, which is the hotness.

image image

iTunes also supports some Taskbar controls, but misses the point but not putting Album pictures in the Taskbar Preview.

image  image

Windows Live Messenger

I have a love-hate relationship with the current Windows Live Messenger. Initially I was really mad that (on 7) it wouldn't minimize to the tray (that thing next to the clock, not really called the tray, but I will call it that, so meh on you). Instead, it sticks around the Taskbar forever. While I understand that Windows 7 has a new UX aesthetic, I would appreciate an option. At this point, the option is to right-click on the icon, click Compatibility and basically lie to it, telling Messenger that it is running on Vista. Of course, then you lose the Windows 7 features, like the very full-featured Jump Lists:

image

Paint.NET 3.5 Alpha

"The latest alpha build of Paint.NET v3.5 will now use DirectWrite instead of GDI for the Text tool if you are running Windows 7. Get it while it’s hot."

This means that Paint.NET 3.5 not only looks better on Windows 7 (and certainly different than it used to look) but it's also crazy fast. Be sure to try the multi-threaded Font Dropdown as well.

image

Expression Encoder 3

I encode most of my videos using Expression Encoder and it lights up the Taskbar button with a progress bar letting me know how far along it is without me having to restore the main window.

image 

ImgBurn

Even though DVD/CD ISO Image Burning is built into Windows 7, I still like the UI and additional information that ImgBurn provides. It also uses the Taskbar button as a Progress Bar which is a subtle, but nice touch.

image 

WinZip 14

WinZip 14 ups the ante with not only support for JumpLists, but also Touch Screen support (!), Libraries and Explorer Preview. The Explorer Preview support may be enough for me to move away from 7-zip, although if you keep your zip files associated with Explorer they'll be openable as folders on the left pane, so it's a toss-up. It also includes interestingly, features to "Zip My Documents" as well as a half-dozen other one-click options to Zip up various "My" folders. A nice touch. Note, don't just click through their installer, as it installs Google Toolbar unless you say otherwise.

image 

AusLogics Disk Defrag

Disk Defrag 3 from Auslogics has a very clean interface...it looks like I wish Win7's defrag looks, although I understand that most people don't want all the details and pictures. It also includes Progress Bar integration and a little overlay to tell you it's running as Admin. It's FREE for Home Users.

image 

PowerArchiver

I tend to lean towards 7-zip for its minimalist UI, but PowerArchiver has JumpLists and Icon Overlays. Oddly, they call the Win7-looking interface the "Power Users Interface," presumably as to avoid freaking out your grandpa who's zipping stuff up with the Classic Interface. The whole package is close but not 100%. For example, they use an icon overlay during an extract rather than a progress bar. That's just wrong, and it should be fixed ASAP.

image 

Trillian Astra 4.1

Trillian is an IM and Chat client that integrates with Google, Windows Live Messenger, Facebook and more. I find it a little TOO out there from an interface perspective for my tastes, but many people swear by it. I like my apps to be a little Vanilla, or French Vanilla. Trillian is Rocky Road Chocolate and flaunts it. The new 4.1 version has Jump Lists, File Transfer Progress Bars, and even a Taskbar Preview of Video Calls in progress, which is a nice touch (I'm talking to you, Skype).

image 

Basically anything with a Recent Items List

Make sure to right click on most of your apps in the Taskbar. The ones that include a "Recent Items List" will usually get a free JumpList not only in the Taskbar, but also the Start Menu.

image image

Ok, what apps did I miss?

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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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Hanselminutes on 9 - Spolsky, Atwood, Blyth, Hanselman = Crazy-Delicious || Content-Free?

October 23, '09 Comments [25] Posted in Channel9 | Podcast | Speaking
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imageWhat do you get when you put Spolsky, Atwood, Blyth, and Hanselman in the same room? A crazy Content-Free podcast recorded backstage at the San Francisco DevDays conference.

The video is up at Channel 9, and the audio will be up on Hanselminutes and in the RSS Podcast Feed in the morning. The audio for the actual podcast will include tracks from three locations and will likely be a LOT better, however, be warned, this episode runs a bit longer than usual and the sound quality isn't up to our usual standards.

Warning: extreme ramblosity ahead!

  • Joel explains his Duct Tape Programmer post. Apparently DevDays is a duct tape conference, and this section of the recording is a duct tape podcast.
  • Some discussion of the ubiquity of mobile code. Also, if you are nostalgic for the era “when development was hard”, the consensus is that you should be doing mobile development today on iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile, or Symbian.
  • Rory elaborates on his experience with (and effusive opinions on) iPhone development to date. Is coding in Objective-C best accompanied by a flux capacitor, New Coke, and Max Headroom? Also, his excitement for MonoTouch.
  • Joel and Scott put on their amateur language designer hats and have a spirited discussion of type inference and Fog Creek’s in-house DSL, Wasabi.
  • Scott covers some of the highlights of new and shiny features coming in the Visual Studio 2010 IDE, the C# 4.0 language, and the ASP.NET MVC 2.0 web framework.

Enjoy! You've been warned.

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 Minutes On 9 - Channel 9 Video Interviews with the ASP.NET 4 Team

October 21, '09 Comments [20] Posted in ASP.NET | ASP.NET Ajax | ASP.NET Dynamic Data | ASP.NET MVC | Channel9 | VS2010
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image Who loves you? Not only is Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 now available for everyone to download (not just subscribers) but I've got 11 short video interviews with the ASP.NET 4 team up on Channel 9.

I was up in Redmond just last week and made sure to stop by the offices of as many ASP.NET developers and program managers as I could. I chatted with a few faces you may recognize and a few you may not. All of them are working hard to make ASP.NET 4 cool.

I'm still working on my video techniques, and I used two different HD cameras to film these videos. Your feedback (negative AND positive) is always appreciated.

This series of videos is called Hanselminutes on 9 and you can get to all of these (and many more) using the Channel 9 Tag "hanselminuteson9." You can also subscribe via RSS to just those videos. There are also iPod, Zune, PSP and large WMV versions of every video to download as well as basic MP3's if you just want audio.

New Markup from Old Controls with Marcin

Scott Hunter on  Big Picture and new Templates

ASP.NET 4 and Phil Haack (and son!)

Dynamic Data for Older Apps with David Ebbo

Stephen Walther on AJAX

Clean Markup with Scott Galloway

Brad Wilson on MVC 2

David Fowler on LinqExtender

The new ObjectCache with Stefan

ASP.NET MVC 2 with Eilon Lipton

ASP.NET 4 and Deployment with Vishal Joshi

 

Enjoy!

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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Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2

October 19, '09 Comments [46] Posted in ASP.NET | ASP.NET Ajax | ASP.NET Dynamic Data | ASP.NET MVC | Learning .NET | Microsoft | MSDN | Programming
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VS_v_rgbLots of big stuff happening this week. Today Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 is available to MSDN Subscribers and it'll be available for everyone on Wednesday.

I'm running Beta 2 on all my machines now and really digging it. It's much faster than Beta 1 and I'm doing all my work in it now. It's come a long way and I'm really impressed at the polish.

.NET 4

This is a big deal. This isn't ".NET 3.6" - there are a lot of improvements of .NET 4, and it's not just "pile on a bunch of features so you get overwhelmed." I've been working with and talking to many of the teams involved and even though it's a cheesy thing to say, this is a really customer-focused release.

Shouldn't every release be that way? Sure, and in this case there's a really clear focus on, as I like to say, "making the Legos the right size." This is as much about tightening screws as it is about adding new features.

There's more goodness that I can put in one post, but some personal favorite highlights are:

  • Quicker to Install - A smaller Client Profile with a much smaller initial download (down to 0.8 megs from 2.8) for bootstrapping .NET client apps faster than ever)
  • Side by Side - .NET 4 is a side-by-side release that doesn't auto-promote, meaning you won't break existing apps and you can have .NET 2.0, 3.5 and 4 apps on the same machine, happily.
    • Side-by-side CLR support for managed add-ins inside of apps like Explorer or Outlook. Again, new and existing apps in the same process, chillin'.
    • For more details on Application Compatibilty, check out the AppCompat Walkthrough for .NET 4 on MSDN.
  • Dynamic Language Support - The DLR (Dynamic language runtime) ships built-in with .NET 4 so you can mix-and-match your solutions and pick the best language (or languages) amongst C# and VB.NET as well as F#, IronPython and IronRuby. This includes better support for COM (yes, COM! People do use COM and it's even easier with the new dynamic keyword in C# these days.)
  • More Web Standards Support - Better support for WS-* and REST making interop easier. (I love ADO.NET Data Services, but you know that already, Dear Reader. I'm a bit of a RESTafarian, these days.)
  • Plugins Galore - Visual Studio 2010 uses MEF and WPF to enable a whole new world of clean managed extensions as well as an Online Gallery (there's an extension for that!)
  • Multi-Framework Multi-targeting - You can't really overestimate how useful this is, but a picture is worth a thousand words. You can code all your apps in all your organization's frameworks with the same IDE:
    WindowClipping (3)

Keep an eye on the blogs this week as the various teams talk about their favorite features.

On the ASP.NET 4 side:

Oh, yes, one other thing…

Fresh Look

SplashScreen

WindowClipping

You may notice a few things in the new Splash Screen above. There's a new Visual Studio logo that goes nicely as well as a new logo for MSDN. You probably heard that we launched a new MSDN this weekend and today we add the new logo and background. This new MSDN is the beginning of a more agile, community focused MSDN and you should expect to see and hear of cool stuff coming from the team, often, in the months to come. Of note will be the new MSDN Lightweight view, soon to be the default view for the library. 

In the coming weeks I'll dig into more details on the these new things and how they work together:

  • Visual Studio 2010 and .NET 4
  • Windows 7
  • Microsoft Developer Network

Enjoy! Also, be sure to check out Soma's blog post and go get Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4 Beta 2 as soon as you can!

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.