Scott Hanselman

Mix 11 Videos - Download them all with RSS

April 18, '11 Comments [19] Posted in ASP.NET | ASP.NET Ajax | ASP.NET Dynamic Data | ASP.NET MVC | Channel9 | HTML5 | IE9 | IIS | Mix | NuGet | Speaking | VS2010
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Such a fun time was had at Mix 11 this last week in Vegas. I only saw a few talks as I was busy presenting, but now as I sit at home on my first day back, I say to myself, Self, how can I get all the Mix videos at once?

First, you can watch all the videos online at http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/MIX/MIX11 

Second, you can get them via RSS. Most major browsers are hiding the RSS button these days, but the discovery metadata is all still there. In IE9, for example, if you show the Command Bar, you can see the RSS Feeds for the Mix site:

Hey, the Mix Site has RSS feeds in its Meta Tags!

What's all this awesomeness? Oh, yes, it's the Mix talks via RSS with enclosures, just as you've always wanted. Now you can list the thousand ways that you might retrieve these lovely files and abuse Microsoft's bandwidth while hoarding knowledge on your multi-terabyte personal SAN.

Direct links to the Mix RSS feeds that include Enclosures:

So now you can get them with iTunes or Zune, or PowerShell, 'cause that's bad-ass. Yes, you can use Curl also, nyah.

$feed=[xml](New-Object System.Net.WebClient).DownloadString("http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/MIX/MIX11/RSS")
foreach($i in $feed.rss.channel.item) {
$url = New-Object System.Uri($i.enclosure.url)
$url.ToString()
$url.Segments[-1]
(New-Object System.Net.WebClient).DownloadFile($url, $url.Segments[-1])
}

Or, you can subscribe in iTunes from Advanced|Subscribe to Podcast, assume, of course, you want iTunes in your life.

I hate iTunes with the heat of a thousand suns

Or, in Zune (which is a good Podcast Downloader even if you don't have a Zune) you can go to Collection|Podcasts and click Add A Podcast:

Zune's OK

Another nice, lightweight Podcast Download is the Open Source "Juice!" from http://juicereceiver.sourceforge.net/

Juice Podcast Downloader

Go get them! Here's the presentations that Web Platform and Tools Team (ASP.NET, IIS, etc) presented:

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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Mix 11 - Web Platform and Tools Keynote Demo Script

April 13, '11 Comments [18] Posted in ASP.NET | ASP.NET MVC | HTML5 | IE9 | Javascript | Microsoft | Mix | NuGet | VS2010 | WebMatrix
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It's Day 1 of the Mix 11 conference here in Las Vegas. I work for the Web Platform and Tools (that's ASP.NET, IIS, IIS Media, etc) group and I did the Web Platform demos for Scott Guthrie's part of the keynote. A lot of people in Dev and QA worked hard all year long to make some fun and cool products and as the designated "talking head," I had just 16 minutes to make all of them (people + products) look good. I hope I did them all justice.

We built a backend and a front end for Rob and my sie http://www.thisdeveloperslife.com. The show is something Rob Conery and I do moonlighting on the side (it's our hobby, not our job nor a Microsoft thing) but we needed a new site and this was a fun idea since we built the original site in WebMatrix.

If you'd like ALL the new bits, no matter what's on your machine currently, go to http://www.asp.net/get-started and use one of the new "get everything" green buttons. It'll use Web Platform Installer and if you have nothing, you'll get the free VS Express. If you have Visual Studio proper, you'll get SP1, the new MVC 3 Tools Update as well as stuff like IIS Express and SQL Compact. Get Everything.

We updated the ASP.NET Website for Mix as well, with three new sections. We've also got three 3 intro videos for each technology, as well as an all new Learning Resource section AND free videos from Pluralsight!

Here's how you make the backend I made in the Keynote. You can watch it here. ScottGu and I were after the IE9/10 section. http://live.visitmix.com/Keynotes

You can seek within the Keynote using these links:

If you'd like a MUCH more detailed "Getting Started" tutorial of mine that Rick Anderson just updated to include the new MVC 3 Tools Update, check out the C# version here, and the VB version here.

This blog post just shows you how to do what I did, check out the tutorial for much more detail.

ASP.NET MVC 3 with Tools Update - This Developer's Life Backend Administration

From Visual Studio, click File | New Project and select ASP.NET MVC 3 Application. Name it "Backend."

Add New Project

Click Internet Application and make sure Use HTML 5 is checked.

New ASP.NET MVC 3 Project

Check out your packages.config if you like, or noticed the installed packages in NuGet.

Add Library Package Reference

Right click on Models, select Add Class. Name the file Podcast.cs. Here is your Entity Framework 4.1 Code First model:

namespace Backend.Models
{
public class Episode
{
public int Id { get; set; }
[Required]
public string Title { get; set; }
public DateTime? PublishedAt { get; set; }
public string Summary { get; set; }
public string LeadImage { get; set; }
public string ShortUrl { get; set; }
public virtual ICollection<MusicTrack> MusicTracks { get; set; }
}

public class MusicTrack
{
public int Id { get; set; }
public string Name { get; set; }
public string URL { get; set; }

public int EpisodeId { get; set; }
public Episode Episode { get; set; }
}
}

Now, make sure you compile. I press Ctrl-Shift-B to do this, but you can also do it from the Build Menu.

Right click on Controllers, select Add Controller. Make an EpisodeController. Pick the Entity Framework template (remember you can make your own, if you like. More on this soon!) and click the Data context class dropdown and Make a PodcastContext. Your dialog will look like this.

Add Controller

Compile. Now do the same thing for MusicTrack. Now, check our your Solution Explorer and all your scaffolded code.

Wow, that's a lot of scaffolded code!

Right click on References and select Add Library Reference. You can also do this from the Tools | Library Package Manager menu.

Click on Online on the left side to access NuGet.org, and in the upper right corner, search for "EntityFramework.SqlServerCompact" to bring down support for SQL Server Compact Edition.

Add Library Package Reference (52)

Now, run your app and visit /Episode. Make an episode or three, then visit /MusicTrack.

TDLAdminSite

Homework for you - Extend the Backend Demo!

  • Add the MvcScaffolding Nuget package and rerun the Add Controller commands. What's different?
  • Add an Editor Template for DateTimes with a jQuery DatePicker
  • Add different attributes like [StringLength] or [Range] to your Code First model. Delete the .SDF file in App_Data and re-run. How can you affect your database?
  • Add some other NuGet packages like IE9ify. What cool features can you add like Jump Lists using Javascript?

WebMatrix - This Developer's Life Frontend Administration

Ok, so now we need a frontend for our podcast site. We got one from http://www.templatemonster.com. They can sell you a template and then bring it down directly into Web Matrix. Since you may not want to buy a template just for this demo, you'll want to come up with some basic template for yourself. WebMatrix comes with a Bakery Template and some others, so perhaps try one of those. Perhaps the Bakery Template after clicking Web Site From Template.

We used a template like this, but like I said, I can't give it to you.

TDL Front

Maybe you can start here? ;)

Fourth Coffee - Home - Windows Internet Explorer (54)

You can right click on App_Data and bring in the SQL Database File (Mine was called TDL.sdf, but yours may vary) from the first step with Add Existing File. Some templates include databases. You can use them if you like, or delete them.

Files in Web Matrix

For the demo, I had two database files. The one I created in the first step, and then another one that I already filled out with all our shows earlier.

Lots of data in the database

If you're using the Bakery Template it's a little different from our template since it's about products and includes a featured product, but it's still a cool template.

I skipped some steps in the keynote to make the demo flow, for example, my images were already in an images folder. For this blog post, I'll copy the images from http://www.thisdeveloperslife.com (or you can grab your family photos or whatever) and put them in /images.

Show Images

Next, I'll change the Default.cshtml for my (now) Bakery Template. I'll updated things in the Razor code like Products to Episode, and making sure I'm using column names from the TDL database, and not the Bakery one.

@{
Page.Title = "Home";

var db = Database.Open("TDL");
var shows = db.Query("SELECT * FROM Episodes").ToList();
}

<h1>Welcome to This Developer's Life!</h1>

<ul id="products">
@foreach (var s in shows) {
<li class="product">
<div class="productInfo">
<h3>@s.Title</h3>
<img class="product-image" src="@Href("~/Images/"+ s.LeadImage)" alt="Image of @s.Title" />
<p class="description">@s.Summary</p>
</div>
</li>
}
</ul>

It ends up being not much code. It's not as pretty as the more complex template we used, but you get the idea. You can take templates from anywhere (they don't need to be Razor templates, just HTML!) and then sprinkle in a little Razor code like I did.

I give you, "This Developer's Life - Cheesy Bakery Template Edition":

This Developer's Life Site - Cheesy Bakery Edition

Now if you like, click on Site, then ASP.NET Web Pages Administration (or, just visit /_Admin) and setup your password. I skipped the creating of a password in the keynote and used a site with an existing password we'd setup earlier. Read the instructions carefully.

Bakery6 - Microsoft WebMatrix (57)

The Web Pages Administration site runs local as part of your site, and is how WebMatrix talks to NuGet.org. From here you can get helpers like the Facebook helper, Twitter helper, Disqus helper and more. Some of these helpers, like Disqus, require more setup that I showed in the keynote. For example, you have to visit Disqus.com, sign up for an account and get an API key, then tell your site about it before you use the helper. The Facebook and Twitter helpers also include lots of options, for example, the Twitter helper can be vertical or horizontal, and look different ways. Also check out IE9ify, a jQuery plugin and NuGet package that lets you add JumpLists and IE9 stuff to your site.

ASP.NET Web Pages Administration - Package Manager - Windows Internet Explorer (58)

At the end, I clicked Publish and then just imported the settings file from my ISP. WebMatrix then used WebDeploy to send my site and database to a server. That server was internal to the Mix keynote demo network, but Rob Conery and deployed the site the exact same way at 3am Tues morning. The public site at http://www.thisdeveloperslife.com was written by Rob and I in WebMatrix, uses HTML5, jQuery with SQL CE for a database and is deployed with WebDeploy and sports a tidy HTML5 theme Rob wrote, inspired by the one from the demo.

I'll blog later in a separate post how I made the podcast player with HTML5 audio tags, jQuery and IE9 site pinning.

I hope you enjoy the products Dear Reader as much as we enjoyed building them!

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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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Taking Proper Screenshots in Windows for Blogs or Tutorials

April 7, '11 Comments [54] Posted in Tools
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What? A blog post on how to take a screenshot? Seriously? Sure, this might seem a silly or superfluous blog post, but I can assure you that I see lousy screenshots on blogs, online tutorials and more (including some of my old posts) at least daily. Perhaps it's my "geek eye" but I (and I assume you, Dear Reader) just know when something is wrong with a screenshot. Just like you are the only one who notices when someone is running a 4:3 image on a 16:9 flat screen at a convention and it looks darned unprofessional, the same is true with screenshots.

"A bad screenshot is equivalent to a misspelled world. It makes both you and the word look unprofessional." - Me, just now.

Sometimes the best way to show you how to do something is to first talk about how not to do something.

Don't save Screenshots as JPEGs

JPEG is lossy. Lossy means "throws stuff away." Always save your screenshots as PNG, which is a lossless (throws nothing away) format.

A badly JPEGed image with hard to read text

Don't do uncomfortable, unnecessary or bad resizing

When resizing, only do it if you have to. Always use the highest quality resize algorithm your paint application supports. I use Paint.NET. It's one of the greatest pieces of software out there that should have shipped with Windows. Try to resize things "evenly," like 50% or 25%. If you resize to 73% or or 431 pixels by something, you are throwing data away and your screenshot will look bad.

A badly resized image with blockiness

Try to avoid small resizes, like taking an image and resizing it to 95%. If you are that close, try reframing or resizing the thing you're shooting, rather than doing such a small resize.

Don't customize your environment to the point it's unrecognizable

Think about Framing Your Screenshot as you would a photograph. I don't care about your toolbars. I don't care about your add-ins or your browser bookmarks. Turn EVERYTHING unnecessary off. That means toolbars, toolboxes, windows, add-ins, bookmark bars - anything that would make your screenshot look like your system and not mine. Keep everything stock and standard if you can.

Too many toolboxes open in Visual Studio so I can't see the code

Don't use tiny fonts and fancy colors.

As you can guess by now, these rules apply to screencasts as well. That means 16pt or better, folks. I use Consolas 16pt, minimum. 20 or 24 for Console Windows. Keep the default colors for your IDE. For Command Windows, use either White Text on a Blue Background or Green Text on a Black Background. Both have been proven to be the highest contrast and easiest to see (by me in totally scientific tests.)

Totally unreadable small text on a black background in Visual Studio

Don't show me what's underneath your transparent Aero Title Bar

Notice how you can almost see stuff underneath the transparent title bars of these last few screenshots? That's lame. There's two ways to fix it. One, open up notepad with its white background and put it behind the application you are shooting so the white is what you see behind the transparency.

Notepad open behind Visual Studio

Then, you can crop around it and get a title bar that doesn't look like crap:

A title bar that doesn't have crap behind its transparancy

Two, use a proper screenshot tool like Window Clippings. More on this later, but it's truly a great tool and worth it if you are taking more than a few screenshots a week. It'll save you time and make you look good. Window Clippings does two things right around transparency. First, it'll programmatically and automatically put a background behind your image while its taking the screenshot, and second, it'll make your transparent regions actually transparent when it makes a PNG.

See this square corner? That's not transparent and looks subtly lame. This was taken with the Window Selection option in the Snipping Tool that came with Windows.

A non-transparent corner with extra pixels 

See this one taken with Window Clippings? It's correctly transparent as a PNG and there's even an option to include a nice drop shadow.

A nice shadow with a transparent rounded corner

Don't use Basic or Classic Theme for Screenshots

Again, I don't know your personal preference, but it doesn't matter. Make your screenshots look like the typical computer, not your computer as you refuse to let Classic Theme go. ¡Viva NT4! Um, no.

A screenshot using the lame basic theme for Windows

Don't use Raster Fonts or Disable ClearType

We're going for aesthetics and standardization, here. Consider these two screenshots. The first has ClearType off. Notice the blocky capital A, for example.

Lousy bitmapped text

Next, the same shot with ClearType on.

Nice antialiased text

Don't Over-Annotate or use wacky Callout Effects

Another great screenshot program is SnagIt from TechSmith. I use their Camtasia product for all my screencasts. As great as SnagIt is, it has the powerful ability to create "callouts" easily. Too easily.

Don't use callouts. May God have mercy on your soul for using them.

Don't get me wrong, SnagIt is an awesome tool. But just don't point it at your face. Avoid callouts, and when you do, stay classy.

A classy and subtle callout

Use ALT text

Try to use ALT text for all your screenshots. There's a blind person (or a hundred) reading your blog. Do them a favor and put in some nice descriptive ALT text on your screenshots. I like to leave them personal messages that you never see. It takes only a second, but it lives in your post forever and helps the visually impaired participate.

Don't forget to squish your PNGs

PNG may be a lossless format but you can often still squeeze 5-30% of the size out of them with tools like PNGOut. This is a must-have tool in your path. I add PNGOut as a post-build step when I make tutorials and you can even hook up Window Clippings to run it for you after a screenshot. It is CPU intensive, but it's worth the effort when publishing your content. Go do it now, get all the PNGs from your blog, run PNGGauntlet on them (it'll take a while) and compare the directories. You'll save tens of megs if you're like me, and your readers will reap the benefits every time they visit your site.


So, rolling all this advice up, here's a good screenshot and a bad one.

Bad Example

Here's a common example that completely bad. This screenshot is:

  • Using the Basic Theme
    • It was likely taken on a Virtual Machine that didn't have Aero turned on.
  • Not Transparent
    • The window corners are curved, but there's a corner pixel.
  • Oddly cropped to fit
    • The right side is missing, but just a bit. Either chop a lot, or none. Don't chop a little.
  • Poorly resized
    • Note the trouble resizing the words "Installed Templates"
      Notice the aspect ratio is ever-so-slightly wrong.
  • JPEG'ed
    • Note the lossy artifacts under the selection in the listbox.
  • Poorly Staged
    • Note the highlight in the listbox is gray? That means the window didn't have focus when the screenshot was taken. It makes it hard to see the point of the screenshot.

Bad Screenshot

Good Example

Good Screenshot

Or, given our self-imposed width limitation of 600 pixels, perhaps:

Better Screenshot

I hope this guide helps you, Dear Reader, if you create screenshots as a part of your job.

Please, care about your screenshots as much as you care about your text.

"If a picture is worth a thousand words, a crappy screenshot is a thousand misspelled words." - Me, Just now. Again.

Enjoy!

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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 Podcast 260 - .NET API design that optimizes for Programmer Joy with Jonathan Carter

April 7, '11 Comments [4] Posted in Learning .NET | Podcast
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Conery, Hanselman and HappinessScott sits down with Jonathan Carter to  brainstorm about optimizing APIs for programmer happiness, rather than programmer productivity.

Download: MP3 Full Show

Links:

NOTE: If you want to download our complete archives as a feed - that's all 260 shows, subscribe to the Complete MP3 Feed here.

Also, please do take a moment and review the show on iTunes.

Subscribe: Subscribe to Hanselminutes or Subscribe to my Podcast in iTunes or Zune

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.

Building quality software is never easy. It requires skills and imagination. We cannot promise to improve your skills, but when it comes to User Interface and developer tools, we can provide the building blocks to take your application a step closer to your imagination. Explore the leading UI suites for ASP.NET AJAX,MVC,Silverlight, Windows Forms and WPF. Enjoy developer tools like .NET Reporting,ORM,Automated Testing Tools, Agile Project Management Tools, and Content Management Solution. And now you can increase your productivity with JustCode, Telerik’s new productivity tool for code analysis and refactoring. Visitwww.telerik.com.

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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Spring 2011 Fiction Reading List - Young Adult eBooks Will Save Science Fiction

April 5, '11 Comments [27] Posted in Musings
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image I haven't done a Reading List blog post in a few years now. I used to do them with some regularity but full off lately. Interestingly, I'm still reading about a book a week pretty consistently since I got the a Kindle . The Kindle is a direct one-way link between my wallet and Jeff Bezos' bank account. I've literally found myself reading the covers of books in airport bookstores then buying them on the Kindle. The battery life is insane (weeks) and since the last update, I can even use the 3G overseas.

Young Adult eBooks Will Save Science Fiction

I've been a big sci-fi reader my whole life, and recently I've felt I've been running out. I've read all the classics, re-read the classic classics, and enjoyed some of the recent releases. However, where I've really found innovation is in the "Young Adult Market." These books are mostly for the older teen set, and not just the ones that like vampires and werewolves. So much of Young Adult Fiction is Science Fiction, but while it's some of the most read fiction on the market today, it's not being formally recognized by the old guard, either critically or with awards.

Here's some of the books I've read in the last few months. Many are multi-part series. I recommend ALL these books. I've not included the ones that I've read that suck. That said, I pay attention to reviews and avoid the suck. I have had pretty good luck. I've read more great books and had more fun reading in the last year than I can remember in the last ten years.


Everlost (The Skinjacker Trilogy) Nick and Allie don’t survive the car accident, but their souls don’t exactly get where they’re supposed to go either. Instead, they’re caught halfway between life and death, in a sort of limbo known as Everlost: a shadow of the living world, filled with all the things and places that no longer exist. It’s a magical, yet dangerous place where bands of lost kids run wild and anyone who stands in the same place too long sinks to the center of the Earth. When they find Mary, the self-proclaimed queen of lost souls, Nick feels like he’s found a home, but Allie isn’t satisfied spending eternity between worlds. Against all warnings, Allie begins learning the “Criminal Art” of haunting, and ventures into dangerous territory, where a monster called the McGill threatens all the souls of Everlost. In this imaginative novel, Neal Shusterman explores questions of life, death, and what just might lie in between.
Everfound (The Skinjacker Trilogy) While Mary lies in a glass coffin aboard a ghost train heading west, her minions are awaiting her re-awakening by bringing lots of new souls into Everlost to serve her. Meanwhile Jackin’ Jill has met Jix, a fur-jacker—a skin jacker who can take over the bodies of animals, most notably jaguars. Jix serves a Mayan god who collects Everlost coins, and has his own agenda. In the concluding volume of The Skinjacker Trilogy, Neal Shusterman reveals new sides of the characters of Everlost, who are pitted against each other in a battle that may destroy all life on Earth.
The Maze Runner (Maze Runner Trilogy, Book 1) When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift. Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.
The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner Trilogy, Book 2) Solving the Maze was supposed to be the end. No more puzzles. No more variables. And no more running. Thomas was sure that escape meant he and the Gladers would get their lives back. But no one really knew what sort of life they were going back to.In the Maze, life was easy. They had food, and shelter, and safety . . . until Teresa triggered the end. In the world outside the Maze, however, the end was triggered long ago.Burned by sun flares and baked by a new, brutal climate, the earth is a wasteland. Thomas can only wonder—does he hold the secret of freedom somewhere in his mind? Or will he forever be at the mercy of WICKED?
The Hunger Games In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlaying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one girl and one boy between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has also resolved to outwit the creators of the games. To do that she will have to be the last person standing at the end of the deadly ordeal, and that will take every ounce of strength and cunning she has.
Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, Book 2) Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won in defiance of the Capitol and its harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry -- and now it wants revenge. Full of plot twists, this riveting sequel to the New York Times bestseller is guaranteed to keep young readers on the edge of their seats!
Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games) Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins’s groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year.
I Am Number Four Nine of us came here. We look like you. We talk like you. We live among you. But we are not you. We can do things you dream of doing. We have powers you dream of having. We are stronger and faster than anything you have ever seen. We are the superheroes you worship in movies and comic books—but we are real.Our plan was to grow, and train, and become strong, and become one, and fight them. But they found us and started hunting us first. Now all of us are running. Spending our lives in shadows, in places where no one would look, blending in. we have lived among you without you knowing. I am Number Four.

Other great books I've read or re-read lately that I highly recommend.

Fledgling The story of an apparently young, amnesiac girl whose alarmingly unhuman needs and abilities lead her to a startling conclusion: She is in fact a genetically modified, 53-year-old vampire. Forced to discover what she can about her stolen former life, she must at the same time learn who wanted-and still wants-to destroy her and those she cares for and how she can save herself. Recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant, the Nebula Award, the Hugo Award, and numerous other literary awards, Octavia Butler has been acclaimed for her lean prose, strong protagonists, and social observations that range from the distant past to the far future.
Kindred Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana's life will end, long before it has a chance to begin.
Blind Lake Robert Charles Wilson, says The New York Times, "writes superior science fiction thrillers." His Darwinia won Canada's Aurora Award; his most recent novel, The Chronoliths, won the prestigious John W. Campbell Memorial Award. Now he tells a gripping tale of alien contact and human love in a mysterious but hopeful universe.At Blind Lake, a large federal research installation in northern Minnesota, scientists are using a technology they barely understand to watch everyday life in a city of lobster like aliens upon a distant planet. They can't contact the aliens in any way or understand their language. All they can do is watch.Then, without warning, a military cordon is imposed on the Blind Lake site.
Spin One night in October when he was ten years old, Tyler Dupree stood in his back yard and watched the stars go out. They all flared into brilliance at once, then disappeared, replaced by a flat, empty black barrier. He and his best friends, Jason and Diane Lawton, had seen what became known as the Big Blackout. It would shape their lives. The effect is worldwide. The sun is now a featureless disk--a heat source, rather than an astronomical object. The moon is gone, but tides remain. Not only have the world's artificial satellites fallen out of orbit, their recovered remains are pitted and aged, as though they'd been in space far longer than their known lifespans. As Tyler, Jason, and Diane grow up, a space probe reveals a bizarre truth: The barrier is artificial, generated by huge alien artifacts. Time is passing faster outside the barrier than inside--more than a hundred million years per year on Earth. At this rate, the death throes of the sun are only about forty years in our future. Jason, now a promising young scientist, devotes his life to working against this slow-moving apocalypse.
Agent to the Stars The space-faring Yherajk have come to Earth to meet us and to begin humanity’s first interstellar friendship. There’s just one problem: They’re hideously ugly and they smell like rotting fish.So getting humanity’s trust is a challenge. The Yherajk need someone who can help them close the deal.Enter Thomas Stein, who knows something about closing deals. He’s one of Hollywood’s hottest young agents. But although Stein may have just concluded the biggest deal of his career, it’s quite another thing to negotiate for an entire alien race. To earn his percentage this time, he’s going to need all the smarts, skills, and wits he can muster.
Camouflage Two aliens have wandered Earth for centuries. The Changeling has survived by adapting the forms of many different organisms. The Chameleon destroys anything or anyone that threatens it. Now, a sunken relic that holds the key to their origins calls to them to take them home--but the Chameleon has decided there's only room for one.
Marsbound A novel of the red planet from the Hugo and Nebula Award–winning author of The Accidental Time Machine and Old Twentieth.Young Carmen Dula and her family are about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime—they’re going to Mars. Once on the Red Planet, however, Carmen realizes things are not so different from Earth. There are chores to do, lessons to learn, and oppressive authority figures to rebel against. And when she ventures out into the bleak Mars landscape alone one night, a simple accident leads her to the edge of death until she is saved by an angel—an angel with too many arms and legs, a head that looks like a potato gone bad, and a message for the newly arrived human inhabitants of Mars: We were here first.
Starbound (A Marsbound Novel) A New from the Hugo, Nebula, and John W. Campbell Award-winning author of Marsbound. Carmen Dula and her husband have spent six years travelling to a distant solar system that is home to the enigmatic, powerful race known as "The Others," in the hopes of finding enough common purpose between their species to forge a delicate truce. By the time Carmen and her party return, fifty years have been consumed by relativity-and the Earthlings have not been idle, building a massive flotilla of warships to defend Earth against The Others. But The Others have more power than any could imagine-and they will brook no insolence from the upstart human race.
Replay Jeff Winston, forty-three, didn't know he was a replayer until he died and woke up twenty-five years younger in his college dorm room; he lived another life. And died again. And lived again and died again -- in a continuous twenty-five-year cycle -- each time starting from scratch at the age of eighteen to reclaim lost loves, remedy past mistakes, or make a fortune in the stock market. A novel of gripping adventure, romance, and fascinating speculation on the nature of time, Replay asks the question: "What if you could live your life over again?"
Room: A Novel  In many ways, Jack is a typical 5-year-old. He likes to read books, watch TV, and play games with his Ma. But Jack is different in a big way--he has lived his entire life in a single room, sharing the tiny space with only his mother and an unnerving nighttime visitor known as Old Nick. For Jack, Room is the only world he knows, but for Ma, it is a prison in which she has tried to craft a normal life for her son. When their insular world suddenly expands beyond the confines of their four walls, the consequences are piercing and extraordinary. A stunning and original novel of survival in captivity, readers who enter Room will leave staggered, as though, like Jack, they are seeing the world for the very first time.


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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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