Scott Hanselman

Oredev Keynote - Information Overload and Managing the Flow: Effectiveness and Efficiency

November 23, '09 Comments [12] Posted in Speaking | Tools
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I am by no means an expert on being effective or doing things efficiently, but I do OK and I get some stuff done. Most importantly, I think, I am attempting at least to be conscious as I do work.

Recently I was in Malmo, Sweden presenting at the Øredev conference. I presented this keynote as well as a talk on ASP.NET MVC 2 and also did a few panels, one of which we recorded LIVE and streamed online.

Here's my talk from that Friday keynote. I include links to each of the Creative Commons photos I used from Flickr, as well as links to each of the web pages where I did my research or where I used a diagram. I also tried to call out each place where the thoughts were not mine.

This talk is/was a mashup of the various techniques that I try to apply in my everyday life. There's a little GTD, a little Covey, a little Pomodoro, a little Jon Udell, a little 43 Folders, a little Merlin Mann, a little Gina Trapani, and a little Hanselman. I also show some of the tools I used to manage the flow of information in my life. I hope you enjoy it. I'm  pretty happy with the way it turned out, given that I was freaking out about it for a week.

You can watch the talk in HD here, or if you're viewing this page from hanselman.com directly, you can watch it embedded below. The sound is a little hot (it's overdriven by the sound guy) so please forgive us.

Scott Hanselman - Information Overload and Managing the Flow from Øredev on Vimeo.

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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Our little team is growing - Welcome to Jon Galloway and Pete Brown

November 12, '09 Comments [17] Posted in ASP.NET | ASP.NET MVC | Microsoft | Win7 | Windows Client
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Just about two years ago I joined Microsoft. I'm fortunate to work in a home office with a great team that I now lead. We work for the group at Microsoft that runs MSDN, TechNet, ASP.NET, Silverlight.NET, WindowsClient.NET, basically all the online education stuff. The giant group is called STO (Server & Tools Online) and our little group is "stoninja." That's our internal mailing alias.

We create content for all of the sites above but we're also active members of the community. We listen and drive feedback back into the product group. We're not part of the product evangelism group (DPE - Developer Platform Evangelism), but rather we focus primarily on online content creation. I like to think that we're the team that happens you after you go File|New Project, although we're constantly influencing what happens on both sides.

Fast forward to today and my little team is growing.

jon gallowayI'd like to announce that Jon Galloway is joining my team, he's coming to work for us via our good friends at Vertigo (who just announced a new Vertigo Software - Portland office which is cool). It's a bit of a change for Jon and it's something he's always wanted to do. Jon's official title will be Community Program Manager but I like to think of each member of the team as a Community Liaison. We're a small group, but we're sneaky (like ninjas, just fat, middle-aged somewhat pasty ninjas) and we are continually applying pressure to what we think are the right places within Microsoft.

You might know Jon from the Herding Code podcast he does with K. Scott Allen, Kevin Dente and Scott Koon. You might have read the ASP.NET 2.0 Anthology book that he worked on with Jeff, Phil, K. Scott and Wyatt. Jon's also done open source and works on SubText. Jon will be focusing on ASP.NET (all of it). He'll help get the http://asp.net site in shape and provide a much needed pragmatic view of all things web.

petebrown Also joined just a few weeks ago is Pete Brown. Pete comes to us after a long stint as .NET Architect, Project Manager, and Client Technologies Evangelist at Applied Information Sciences (AIS).

You may know Pete from his amazing C64 Emulator port to Silverlight. Pete has been working on the WindowsClient.NET site creating content and code samples that show some of the cool stuff you can do in Windows 7. He's started a multi-part video series just recently on the Windows 7 Sensor and Location APIs and will be filling the Learn section with even more great videos as well as working on http://msdn.com/windows.

When I came to work at Microsoft I posted a Venn diagram that looked like this:

I hope Jon and Pete's personal Venn diagram looks like mine, or since they are working from home (my whole team is remote) perhaps like this one ;)

Venn - Times when Happy vs. Times when wearing Pants

Please welcome both Jon and Pete to the team! The whole team - Me, Joe, Jesse, Tim, Pete and Jon - will be at PDC this year so do stop us and say Hello if you're there!

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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Download Podcasts with Powershell

November 9, '09 Comments [10] Posted in Podcast | PowerShell
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A number of people have mentioned to me that they didn't realize that Powershell is included by default in Windows 7. If you haven't yet jumped on the Powershell bandwagon, this is a good time. Powershell 2 includes a bunch of cool features like remoting (kind of like SSH) as well as a visual IDE for writing, editing and interactively debugging Powershell scripts.

Windows PowerShell ISE (2)

Powershell great for system administration, but I mostly use it for quick and dirty "portable" apps that I don't feel like writing C#/VB for. Plus, I'm using .NET anyway, so it's all the same.

I wanted to download all my podcasts with Powershell, so I wrote this quick script in about 5 minutes. Other improvements I (or preferably you) could make to it could be: check the file size against the enclosure and re-download partials, rename the files to included a version of the title, include a progress bar.

Here's what I came up with. Perhaps you'll find it useful if you're not an iTunes/Zune person:

cd "C:\users\scottha\desktop\Hanselminutes Complete Download"
[Environment]::CurrentDirectory=(Get-Location -PSProvider FileSystem).ProviderPath
$a = ([xml](new-object net.webclient).downloadstring("http://feeds.feedburner.com/HanselminutesCompleteMP3"))
$a.rss.channel.item | foreach{
$url = New-Object System.Uri($_.enclosure.url)
$file = $url.Segments[-1]
$file
if (!(test-path $file))
{
(New-Object System.Net.WebClient).DownloadFile($url, $file)
}
}

Of course you'll want to change the first line and the RSS Feed URL as you like.

Hanselminutes Complete Download

If you've never used Powershell before, note that it's locked down from running scripts be default. You'll need to run it as Administrator once and run

Set-ExecutionPolicy unrestricted

This opens it up to run scripts, but it's not only VBS, the scripts won't run if you double-click them. You need to run powershell then type the name of your script to run it:

.\myscript.ps1

You can always set the execution policy back if it bothers you.

Hope this primitive mass podcast enclosure downloader is useful.

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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Herding Cats: Organize your Desktop Icons with Stardock Fences for Windows

November 8, '09 Comments [40] Posted in Reviews | Tools | Win7
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screenshot There are few issues that divide computer people like that thousand-year-old question: How many icons should you have on your desktop? Some folks say, "Load 'em up! Make those pixels work for you." Others say, "I like a fresh bowl desktop with no icons." Some folks find a spot in between with just My Computer and the Recycle Bin.

For me, the desktop is my work space. It's where I live and breathe and it's in front of my face all the time. I want as much information on there as possible. If I wanted a picture of the beach, I'd live at the beach and look up from my keyboard.

I'm thrilled with Windows 7. Frankly, I'm not sure what I'm going to do with all the free time that I'm saving not dicking around with my computer trying to get it to work. Many of the tools I've espoused over the years simply aren't needed in Windows 7 as they were filling gaps that are no longer there.

That said, Fences from Stardock is one of those apps that extends Windows in such a comfortable and natural way, it should be built in. What's wonderful about Fences is that it is so subtle but so powerful that it truly becomes part of Explorer and feels like it's always there. It's not like to many loud or garish utilities that take over some aspect of Windows and feel the need to announce their presence with bright colors obnoxious splashscreens.

image Kudos, truly, to Stardock for showing not only a sense of restraint but also for embracing what I think of as the "new Windows aesthetic." Years of ridiculous toolbars, poor icon design, the Crayola-color themes of Windows XP and general gaudiness has watered down Windows and made it almost impossible to consider it an "visually attractive" OS. I think it's great that Windows 7 has a definable style that developers are embracing. I'm thrilled each time I download and play with some throwaway little utility but the developer has taken the time to integrate a Windows 7 feature like JumpLists, Taskbar Progress or even just taken the time to create a decent high-res icon. This is definitely a cue we can take from the Apple folks.

Fences Augments Windows Explorer

Back to Fences. It allows you to create just that - little "Fences" around icons on your desktop. The Fences can be any color and can have labels or not, or just show labels on mouseover.

To create a Fence you just right-drag a rectangle and click "create new fence here." Alternatively you can select from a series of presets to jump start your organization. You can also take snapshots when you get things just so. I do this for presentations because switching from 1920x1200 to 1024x768 tends to wreak havoc on icons and fences. Snapshots put things back they way they were.

Once you drag an icon into a fence, it auto-arranges with a satisfying animation as all the icons rearrange themselves to make room for the new addition.Another great subtle feature is if you double-click on the desktop it'll hide your icons. This is not only great for presentations where you might not want to let the eating public see the chaos in the kitchen, but it's also a nice compromise for those of you who want a clean desktop, but can also appreciate a a few icons here and there. You can even exclude specific icons (like perhaps My Computer) from quick-hide.

One obscure bug that I hope the Fences guys and gals fix is that there are some applications that take a regular folder, like Live Mesh for example, and "augment" it to make it more than a regular folder. They might change the icons or plug in a sidebar window. For whatever reason, Fences can't see those Folders while they are different. For now, the workaround is to exit Mesh, move the folder into the Fence, then turn Mesh on. Truly a minor irritant and best, but still it'd be nice to see it fixed.

Regardless, I whole-heartedly recommend Fences and encourage you to go download it NOW and try it out. Note that when you install it, you should pay attention to what it installs, as it also added an "auto-updater" for Stardock products that you may want to remove afterwards if those kinds of extra-applets bother you.

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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Oredev 2009 - LIVE (now recorded) Closing Panel Video

November 7, '09 Comments [7] Posted in Speaking
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bild I was at Øredev 2009 in Malmö, Sweden this week. Øredev is fast becoming one of the premier conferences in Europe focused on the software development process. It's a consciously technology agnostic conference so there was not only a .NET tracks and a Java track, but also tracks like Agile Ways, User Experience and Cloud Computing.

I believe there were something like 100 speakers so it was an incredibly diverse conference. I hung out with some friends from Sun, an iPhone hacker from AT&T, ASP.NET Debugger Tess Ferrandez, Trygve Reenskaug the inventor of the MVC Model, as well as old friends like Carl and Richard and new ones like James Bach.

Oredev was interesting for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that they didn't use regular plates and utensils, but rather organic ones made from collected banana leaves.

I presented at the keynote on Friday. My topic was "Information Overload and Managing the Flow" and I talked about the differences between Effectiveness and Efficiency and how apply some personal introspective and get more work done. That video will be up soon and I'll post it along with my slides ASAP. I also presented on ASP.NET MVC 2.

Recorded Panel of Silly People

One of the random but fun things we did was the final panel of the conference. These are always silly things, presented just before the beer and chips arrive, and they are a nice way for everyone to blow off steam. Basically some of the biggest egos speakers participate in a panel where questions come from the audience and from Twitter.

The Panel was moderated by Björn Granvik, and the folks on the stage were:

  • James Bach - Author of Lessons Learned in Software Testing
  • Ola Bini - Thoughtworker, core developer of JRuby and creator of Ioke
  • Stu Halloway - Author of Programming Clojure
  • Me - Me
  • Oren Eini (Ayende Rahien) - NHibernate Profiler, NHibernate, Castle, Rhino Mocks
  • Chris Hughes - AT&T iPhone Hacker

Here's the video:

I had the idea to stream this panel live (I've done this a few times - fairly guerilla - at other conferences) over UStream.tv. I figured I'd just point my laptop webcam and crappy integrated mic at the stage and while it'd be lame, it'd be something fun to do as I know there's a bunch of people who'd like to participate.

Turns out the sound and video guys at this conference really know their stuff. We were able to jerry-rig a fairly nice little setup. They took the XLR cables and the complete mix from their mixing board and not only switched it down to a 1/8 male mic jack, but they also change it from line-output to mic-output to deal with my laptops lack of a line input.

Then, a guy said, hey, I've got a Professional Canon DV Video Camera with Firewire. It turns out I had a Firewire port on my laptop and I just plugged his camera in on a lark. Boom, Windows 7 found the drivers online and the Firewire Camera showed up as a webcam.

Using the uStream software, we mixed in video and audio and recorded this 60minute panel discussion.

To be clear, there is likely no actual "content" here. We were asked to "edutain" more than educate as it was the final fun of the conference. We were all pretty good friends by this point so we were flicking the mud fairly liberally.

One warning if you listen to this without headphones, there are about three swear words on the recording.

I hope the fun we had comes out in this spontaneous recording. Also, thanks to the roughly 200 people who heard about this LIVE stream on Twitter and joined the chat and drove the discussion.

If you like this kind of thing, let me know and I'll continue to put together these kinds of web-events. 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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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.