Scott Hanselman

2011 Greatest Hits

December 29, '11 Comments [5] Posted in Musings
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I did a "Greatest Hits" blog post in 2008, and since this year is winding down I though it was time for another. Here's what I think were my best blog posts this year.

Personal

Punditry

Technology

Tutorials and Lessons

Tools

Speaking

See you next year!

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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Living a Microsoft lifestyle using Apple iOS products - Lync, OneNote, Xbox for iPhone and iPad and more, oh my

December 22, '11 Comments [31] Posted in Apple | Mobile | Tools
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My iOS Home ScreenSure, I work for The Man in my day job, but I have an iPhone, a few iPod Touches, and two iPads in my personal mobile life. I have great respect for the Windows Phone 7 UX and I have a Samsung Focus that runs Mango that I swap my SIM into every few months to check out, but I'm invested in the iOS app store enough now that switching doesn't make sense for me. I'm teased by some co-workers and community folks who think I should blindly use only Microsoft products. That's fine. I use what works for me and I encourage you to do the same.

I am, however, a Microsoft Office fan and use OneNote (I switched from Evernote recently when Cloud sync via Skydrive for OneNote become available. I also use Lync (formerly Office Communicator) extensively at work as I'm remote.

Recently Microsoft released Lync for iPhone and iPad (as well as Google Android and Microsoft’s Windows Phone). The addition of Lync to my iPhone and iPad was effectively the last link in the chain for me as far as making sure my iPhone was connected to work.

I thought I'd take stock of the Microsoft apps that I'm using on my iOS devices, how they work and how I use them.

Microsoft Lync for iOS

I love Lync. Truly. It's corporate instant messaging, sure, but it's also VOIP, presence information, a company directory and it's integrated nicely with Office 365 and Outlook.

I've got a work phone number in the 425 area code that will simultaneously ring at my 503 mobile phone. Lync on the iPhone will also let me make calls from my 425 number by starting the call from Redmond then calling me immediately. Lync gives me iPhone-style access to my Voice Mail. It's a lot like the Google Voice app, except for Corporate VOIP.

The Microsoft Lync iPhone Application - Voice Mailsphoto 4

It supports notifications as well and I've sorted it to the top in my iOS5 notification center. It'll keep you signed in for 36 hours and send you notifications as long as you've enabled push notify. If not, it'll run in the background for an hour. There's no reason not to turn on notifications on iOS5 as far as I can see, so 36 hours is fine as I'll be launching it more often than that and keep it alive. Even better, it'll notify you to sign in (relaunch) if you don't go back in within 36 hours. Because the notifications are server-side, there's no battery hit.

The Microsoft Lync iPhone Application - ChatsThe Microsoft Lync iPhone Application - My Profile

There's a complete matrix of what mobile platforms support what in Lync over on TechNet.

Bing for iPhone

It's funny, I mostly Google for Web Pages but after my "give Bing a month" challenge, I use Bing for Movies, Weather, Travel and stuff that isn't web page searching. In fact, right now my home page is actually three tabs: DuckDuckGo, Bing and Google. Then I use the one that will give me the best results.

On the iPhone, Bing is a great app with a lot of depth. On the iPad it's AMAZING. If you have an iPad, no joke, check out the Bing App. You'll be impressed, especially when you realize how long ago it was released. It's innovative UI on the iPad predates the Twitter iPad release.

Bing has a great image search, but it's also got three nice features that use the iPhone camera. It'll search tags and QR Codes, it'll search books and CDs using just cover art, and it'll look at text and auto-OCR (Optical Character Recognition) the text then let you search on it.

Bing iOS Application - Home ScreenBing iOS Application - Movies

Frankly, the real crime here is that Microsoft does tell enough people about these features. Rather than trying to uncomfortably fit "let me Bing that" into popular TV shows, why not just have a main character USE the application for a real world problem and not make it so in your face? The Bing iOS app shines when you just use it.

Bing iOS Application - Image Search with CameraBing iOS Application - Camera and OCR

Here I've pointed it at a book cover and it's found the book then linked me to shopping. In the other screenshot I've pointed it at some text, it recognized it, then I can click the words I want to use to search with. Nice for translating signs or searching for ingredients on menus.

Microsoft OneNote for iPhone and iPad

I recently switched away from Evernote in favor of OneNote because I find OneNote's "freeform" notes more flexible over EverNote's more constrained "bullets and lists." OneNote also integrates nicely with Outlook and Office.

OneNote

When OneNote added cloud syncing with Windows Live SkyDrive, that was nice as I could use OneNote on multiple machines. Then OneNote for iPhone and iPad came out and I was sold.

Microsoft OneNote on IOS - NoteMicrosoft OneNote on IOS - List of Notes

OneNote supports up to 500 notes for free and then they charge. I use it a LOT and I'm still only at 180 notes.

Microsoft OneNote on IOS - SectionMicrosoft OneNote on IOS - Searching

They could still stand to improve it on the iPad with ink support but generally, having OneNote and Lync together on my iPhone or iPad along with my mail makes me a pretty good little corporate tool when I'm hanging at the Holiday Inn Omaha.

Xbox for iOS

There's even an Xbox app for iPhone. Madness. You can keep track of Achievements, answer messages, set beacons, but also watch videos and game trailers.

Xbox Achievements on iPhoneXbox Avatar editing on iPhone

You can even change your avatar's look. Jazz hands!

Xbox Videos on iPhoneHalo Waypoint for iPhone

By the way, there's even a Halo Waypoint app for iPhone.

Lots of Microsoft apps in the Apple MarketplaceOther Microsoft apps on iPhone

There's a bunch of other apps from Microsoft on iOS, including:

  • Microsoft SkyDrive for iPhone - Exactly that. It's a drive in the Sky. They give you 25 gigs for free. I keep my OneNote files up there for syncing but you can put anything there like photos, documents, etc.
  • Kintectimals - A nice tie-in with the actual Xbox game for kids with Kinect. It's really cute on the iPad and actually lets you unlock 5 new cubs from the iOS device that your kids can then use on their Xbox directly.
  • Photosynth - This app has been downloaded 4.4 MILLION teams on the iPhone. You kinda have to see it to believe it, but it's kind of a 360 degree panorama on steroids.
  • Windows Live Messenger - If this is your IM of choice, they've got that also.

I'm pretty stoked about Microsoft's (apparently) new focus on services being available everywhere, rather than sweating whether someone is using those services on a Microsoft piece of hardware.

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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Give Grandpa and Grandma the gift of an off-site backup of your photos

December 19, '11 Comments [7] Posted in Musings | Tools
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My buddy Jeff Handley tweeted this nugget of brilliance recently.

Exactly. I've talked about backup strategies before. You just can't have too many backups. I have a NAS (Network Attached Storage...a fancy name for a black box in the closet we back up to) but I also have two external drives that are labeled A and B that I rotate between the safe at the bank.

My rules of thumb are:

  • Use an imaging tool like Acronis True Image to create images of the machines you REALLY care about.
    • You can also use the System Image tool built into Windows, but I prefer the additional options from Acronis.
  • Encrypt your external drives.
  • Backup files (and disk images) to two external drives
  • Keep one external drive off-site
  • Test your backups by practicing a restore. The rule of thumb is that backups ALWAYS succeed. It's restores that fail!

Jeff's idea is brilliant. Burn the extended family a nice DVD, perhaps with Picasa or Windows Live Photo Gallery and wrap it up as a gift!

Related Links

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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Your New Year's Resolution - Put an end to spinning rust and buy yourself a SSD

December 19, '11 Comments [30] Posted in Hardware
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I'm still using the Ultimate Developer PC 2.0 that I built last year. THE most important aspect of that build was not the super-fast processor or the fancy video cards. It was, and continues to be, the SSD. There is no other single thing that you can do to your computer that will make it feel faster than getting an SSD. If you need terabytes of storage, get an external drive, or a SAN like I did. But if you want to waste less time compiling, get an SSD. I know you want a terabyte, but get 160gigs or 256gigs if you can afford it.

Here's some compilation results from last year where I put the Ultimate Developer PC up against a now 4 year old laptop with an SSD.

In this case I'm building NHibernate 3.0 from the command line. The older laptop is the far level and the new PC is the far right. Yes, the new PC is twice as fast, but if you look at the number of seconds spent building, the laptop does OK and that's directly due to the SSD upgrade.

Times are in seconds Lenovo W500 w/ SSD Ultimate PC 1.0 Ultimate PC 2.0
MSBuild /t:rebuild 36.05 35.52 16.12
MSBuild /t:rebuild /m 24.98 25.57 12.53
MSBuild 6.17 6.99 3.11
MSBuild /m 5.91 6.66 2.72

I love my SSDs so much that I haven't done any upgrades to my machines other than SSDs. The argument is usually "SSDs cost too much." That WAS true. You can get a REALLY nice middle of the road Intel SSD for under $200 now. I've got two Crucial RealSSD C300's that are 256 gigs in two different machines and they are now under $400. They are so worth it, more than any other upgrade.

UPDATE: I'm told by Damian Guard that the newer Crucial M4's are even better, both Crucial M4 128gig and Crucial M4 256gig.

When I upgraded my laptop's HD to an SSD it went from about 68 megs a second read to 110 megs a second. At that point I was limited by the SATA bus on that older laptop.

On a desktop machine with a newer SATA bus I get 230 megs a second (that's megabytes not megabits) and that's not even what the max on the drive can get. If I put it on a 6Gb/s SATA bus it's not impossible to see 300 megs a second or more. Of course, it all depends on what kinds of writes you're doing, sequential vs. random, plus block sizes, but since I'm not Anand, I'll leave that detail to him.

 SSDs are FAST. That is not a lie.

Point is this. Do yourself a favor and breathe new life into your computer with an SSD. You deserve it.

Here's the way to think of it. A $400 SSD will cost you just over a dollar a day if it lasts a single year. It will likely last at least 3 to 5 years, but still, if it lasts a YEAR. That's a dollar a day for hours of daily unmitigated joy. What other upgrade in your life could you do for $400 that would totally change your computer life AND give you time back? Well, a few, but I hope you see the point.

Drink one less coffee a day and get an SSD instead and you'll be as productive as two cups of coffee! ;)

There's only one downside to SSDs in my experience. When they do die, and all things do, there is no warning. SSDs don't make noise, or cough or make head sounds. SSDs don't give you warning, they just die. Instantly. So, always have complete image backups of your systems. If a drive dies, you should be able to get back up in a few hours.

Do it. It's the holidays.


Sponsor: This week's ComputerZen feed was kindly sponsored by DevExpress. Do check out their new stuff like DXv2 and perhaps check out a free trial of their complete suite of Developer Tools. I've personally been a huge CodeRush fan for years.

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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Link-bait Hacker Slash News Dot Considered Cancerous Request For Call To Action

December 15, '11 Comments [299] Posted in Musings
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image

Considered Harmful

Declarative statement opening blog statement. Back away from declarative statement slightly, pivot then double down with even more controversial declarative statement. Insult beloved programming language and assert newer language's idiomatic aesthetic as superior. Including backing statistics with missing Y-axis labels to prop up weak link-bait including declarative statement. Reference Linus, invoke Dijkstra. Oh, everything looks bad if you remember it.

Biased Benchmarks

Supporting albeit equivocating statement. Weak marginally equivocating statement because I want to be on TechCrunch. Farmville.

if 1 then A
else if 2 then B
else if 3 then C
else/otherwise D

Supporting K&R C quote inducing page references with non sequitur reference to Mythical man month.

Use the right tool for the right job. Grep harder. Appeal to authority. Fowler invocation asserting Turing completeness. That's not NP complete. Try to grok harder.

UR doing it wrong

I suggest you try it again. This time, let go your conscious self and act on instinct. Finding a needle in a haystack isn't hard when every straw is computerized. Spare me your space age technobabble, Attila the Hun! Soothe us with sweet lies.

There's a cat in that computer. It's running a custom Mint Distro. That's a meme!

 It's a cat in a computer. That's a MEME.

Use the right tool for the right job. SRSLY. Down-voted into oblivion. Obscure Spolsky link justifying contrarian position.. It's a Atwoodian tautology.

Accusations of intellectual dishonesty

image

Off-handed reference to FizzBuzz, dreamy reminiscence of Programming Pearls, reference to my first Altair and frustration at the current state of affairs.

CmdrTaco name drop, dig at Digg, Y-Combinator sour grapes. I didn't think it was physically possible, but this both sucks *and* blows. Yes, if you make it look like an electrical fire. It's a go-cart, powered by my own sense of self-satisfaction.

Reference to pointless diagram and misplaced frustration at Large Company. Comment directed at patent trolls combined with acerbic witty statement with regards to Lessig and software patents pointlessness.

Random bolded concluding sentence.

Follow me. Read my blog. I have opinions.

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.