Scott Hanselman

Review: TP-Link AC3200 (Archer C3200) Wireless Router

September 29, '15 Comments [51] Posted in Reviews
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TP-Link AC3200 (Archer C3200) I've always been a Linksys or NetGear router person. I loved the legendary Linksys WRT54G and ran DD-WRT on it for years. A while back I updated my router to the Linksys WRT1900AC. This router was supposed to be the second coming of the WRT54G and promised enthusiastic support for alternate firmware. For about a year I ran the WRT1900AC with the stock firmware as there was a bit of controversy as to what that support would look like. Fast-forward a bit and it appears that Linksys and Marvel have been working together to solve some technical issues and have reached out to the OpenWRT and DD-WRT folks but unfortunately there is still no release place for DD-WRT for the WRT1900AC. I am tired of waiting and some recent instability in the stock firmware has got me shopping around.

I did some research and decided on the TP-Link AC3200 (Archer C3200). Now, before you say it, I will. This is a prosumer router. It's not cheap. But so far, it's been brilliant. I've tired $50 routers and they tip over with what I throw at them. I've got a minimum of about 20 devices on the network at a time, and often as many as 35-45. I want to be able to manage them differently, apply QoS (Quality of Service) rules, as well as segment my network. However, I am not a network engineer and I don't feel like being one. I've also had issues with range in the past but I don't feel like having two routers and one SSID. So far, it appears that this TP-Link Archer C3200 router can handle everything I throw at it.

TP-Link AC3200 (Archer C3200) 

First, let me say that this router looks like a UFO. It's a very dramatic design, but it's for a functional reason. Those are six folding antennas on the top.

router

Installation in my home took about 30 min from the moment it left the box until the whole house and every device was set up. I personally found the web interface to be simpler and more organized than any other router I've ever used, and I've used them all.

In this screenshot you can see that there are currently 18 devices connected and there are three wifi networks. I really like this feature. I've setup my own 5GHz SSID for my office, while the family gets their own 2.4GHz WiFi Network, and Netflix/Streaming/XBox devices get their own 5GHz SSID. It's nicely compartmentalized. Even more, I could optionally turn on one or more Guest Networks when folks visit from out of town. This gives guests internet, but keeps them off from seeing internal devices.

TP-Link AC3200 (Archer C3200) Wireless Router UI

If the idea of three SSIDs is too much for you, they also have a feature called "Smart Connect" which basically collapses a 2GHz and two 5GHz SSIDs and associated channels into a single Smart SSID that will abstract 802.11bgn across many channels. You get one SSID (Wireless Network Name) and the router handles the rest, automatically putting your devices on the right network given their capabilities.

There's also great Parental Controls built in, where you can set a Time Schedule per device. For example, you could make it so your child's iPad could only access the internet during certain times of the day. You would need turn off iOS Mac Address Randomization for this to work, I believe.

This TP-Link AC3200 (Archer C3200 also has some light NAS (Network Attached Storage) features that allow you to access disks via FTP, DLNA, or SMB (meaning you can talk to it via \\ROUTER\share for example). You could also even expose a disk over FTP externally if you wanted to. The router can also be a print server and make any USB printer a wireless/network attached printer which could be helpful if you've got a home office.

For the tech enthusiast/prosumer user the only nit I would say could use improvement is the Bandwidth Control (QoS) panel. It could be a little friendlier. For example, I can certainly figure out the IP Range and Port Range for Xbox Live or Netflix and set the Bandwidth rules, but since those are already pretty well understood it would be nice if there was just a dropdown or set of smart defaults. For example, we would ALL want to be able to check a box that says "make sure Netflix doesn't get slow when my spouse checks email." This dialog could be simpler.

Aside: My spouse asked me why Netflix gets slow sometimes when other people are streaming or pushing the network. I said that it's the same reason that the shower water changes temperature when someone flushes the toilet elsewhere in the house.

TP-Link AC3200 (Archer C3200) Wireless Router UI

So far I've been VERY happy with this router. Set up was a breeze, perf has been fantastic, and there hasn't been a single hiccup. I'll report back later.

Do you have this router? Or do you recommend another router? Sound off in the comments below.


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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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How to customize the Windows 10 Start Menu

September 24, '15 Comments [32] Posted in Win10
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It's been a few months, and pretty much everyone in my family and neighborhood has slowly upgraded to Windows 10. Some have upgraded from Windows 7 and others from Windows 8. For the most part, from a SAF (Spouse Acceptance Factor) it's been a non-issue, which is amazing, frankly.

I have been doing a few videos on Windows 10 that you can find at http://hanselman.com/windows10. I'd encourage you to share them with your friend and family or any one who's interested in being more effective with Windows! If you've still got family who are using Windows 8, my tutorials are at http://hanselman.com/windows8 but, hey, it's time to upgrade them to Windows 10.

Windows 10 has much higher SAF than Windows 8.

The first thing I recommend that everyone do once they've installed Windows 10 is to spend a few minutes customize the default experience. Out of the box you'll get a Start Menu that looks something (basically) like this.

The default Windows 10 Start Menu

This is "fine" but it's nice to customize things and make them your own.

First, you can make the Start menu wider by grabbing the right side of the menu and dragging. Grab the top and do the same thing, and make it the height and width that makes you happy. I like a 2/3s of the screen style "not a start screen but still a big menu" look, myself.

Expanding the Windows 10 Start Menu

Tiles

Pin a bunch of apps, but not just any app. I prefer apps that I use a lot, but also apps that have a pleasant Live Tile. You can right click on any app and set their tile size. Desktop Apps can be small or medium, and Windows 10 Store Apps can be small, medium, wide, or large. I like to mix it up, but that's what's nice about the Start menu, you can make it your own.

In one of my YouTube videos a person asked "how can I make these horrible live tiles ago away." Well, unpin them all. I think you're missing out, Random Internet Commenter. Another solution might be to just turn off Live Tiles. Often it's the movement folks find distracting, not the tiles themselves.

Color

Go to the start menu and type "Color." When you go into the Settings app and into Personalization | Color, you can change a bunch of stuff. I like to have the Start Menu automatically pick a color from my wallpaper, then I change my wallpaper every 30 min (more on this soon). When my wallpaper changes, my accent color changes.

Themes

The Themes Control Panel is one of the last places in Windows 10 that hasn't been updated with a new Settings page. That's a bummer because it's one of my favorite features. I hope it lives on. Themes can be downloaded by just searching for "Windows themes" or "Windows 8 themes." I like the "Best of Bing" themes that include wallpaper from popular Bing backgrounds. These themes are really RSS feeds that bring down fantastic free wallpapers.

If you combine themes with the "Automatically pick an accent color from my background" feature, you'll get a nice dynamic experience in Windows where your colors and wallpaper change as often as you'd like. I mix it up every 30 min.

image

More Folders

Another great setting that doesn't get used enough is "choose which folders appear in start." Go ahead and click the Start menu and type "choose which" to get there quickly. Remember also that your Settings menu is full searchable.

Your default Start Menu will have something like this at the bottom:

The Default Start menu in Windows 10 has few shortcuts

But once you "choose which folders appear in start" you can have useful shortcuts like these. This is a huge timesaver. Hit Start, then click and you're right in your Downloads folder.

image

Adjust the Taskbar

By default Cortana shows up as a text box at the bottom in your Taskbar. But you can change Cortana into a single button and regain more space on your Taskbar. It's up to you.

Right click in the Cortana text box and click Cortana. You can select Hidden, Show Cortana Icon, or Show Text Box.

Making Cortana smaller and getting more space in the taskbar

You can also remove the Task View button if you want as well.

Steam Tile for Games

I did a video on how amazing it is to stream a game from your Xbox One to your laptop. It really is. However, I also use Steam and I have a pretty large collection of Steam games. There's a GREAT application for Windows 8/10 called Steam Tile. If you use Steam, go get this application NOW. It's fantastic. It connects to your Steam account and gets your connection. Then it takes the art for each game and lets you Pin that game to your Start Menu.

Steam Tile makes for a VERY attractive Start Menu. The games launch into Steam, chained from Steam Tile. Steam Tile is an app that arguably fixes Steam by adding these awesome configurable and croppable live tiles.

Steam Tile is amazing

What have you done to customize your Start Menu in Windows 10? Sound off in the comments.

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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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Review: 3D Scanning with the HP 3D Capture Stage on the HP Sprout PC

September 21, '15 Comments [9] Posted in Reviews
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HP Sprout with Capture StageThe 7 year old and I have been trying to make various things with the HP Sprout (review soon) and Dremel Printer. I was sent review versions of both to explore and give feedback on. We've learned a lot and filed a lot of bugs and received lots of great software updates.

About two months ago we tried 3D scanning an object using the Intel True Sense camera and manually rotating a 3D object on the HP Sprout's touch pad. I was both impressed and unimpressed with the results. Impressed because 3D Scanning is a biscuit away from straight magic. Unimpressed because it was a tedious process and the result was a little chopped up.

But then the Spout folks sent over a "HP 3D Capture Stage" for me to try. I'll be totally honest, I thought this was going to be a cheap rotating circle, basically a Skylander's portal with a motor. I couldn't be more wrong, this thing is built like a TANK. It's actually a rotating stage split on an angle that connects via USB and allows the Sprout to angle the object between 0 and 15 degrees, however it likes. Combining this with both a 14 megapixel camera AND an Intel RealSense Depth Camera, the results are significantly better than my first attempts.

The HP 3D Capture Stage is $299 by itself, which is admittedly not an impulse purchase. The price point that I'm impressed with though is the "Sprout 3D Maker's Bundle" which includes the HP Sprout itself (no slouch with an i7 and 8 gigs, stylus, and 23" touchscreen + 20" second screen/touch mat) AND the 3D Capture Stage AND a Dremel 3D Printer all for $2999. (US$3k) That's the Sprout with the Dremel Printer and the Capture Stage is free, essentially.

ASIDE: It blows my mind that I got a loan from the bank and paid $2,800 for a 486DX/33 in 1990 and today I can get something like a Sprout AND 3D Scanner AND Printer for about the same. Seriously, Star Trek: The Next Generation is coming. Throw in an Oculus or a HoloLens and we're living in the future.

OK, first things first. Can you scan an object, get a perfect model, then 3D print the same object? Essentially photocopying/xeroxing 3D objects? No.

But you can get a VERY nice 3D model of a real physical object in just a few minutes and then export it to your favorite app for manipulation.

Here's my FIRST scan where I sat for 15 minutes and rotated a teapot 15 degrees each time the computer told me to. Not so good. And I was VERY careful and accurate, I thought.

A manually scanned 3D object

Here's the SAME teapot on the 3D Capture Stage. I used the supplied putty to gently stick the object on the stage at an angle.

Preparing a scan with the HP 3D Capture Stage

Here's a video of the start of the process. It's totally automated, but after you're done if you feel the object wasn't completely represented you can put it on its side or flip it over to get occluded sides.

A video posted by Scott Hanselman (@shanselman) on

I did scans a total of 3 times and got this auto-merged result. While the lettering got blurred after the second scan, the general structure of the teapot is 95% correct.

Teapot scanned by an HP Sprout 3D Capture Stage

I exported it into the Microsoft 3D Builder Software and got this result.

A 3D scanned Teapot using the HP Sprout 3D Capture Stage

It's also worth noting that the 3D scanned object and the textures are totally separate now, so if I wanted to make a red wooden teapot from this scan, I could.

Texture Map of the Teapot from the HP Sprout Capture Stage

Additionally, if I wanted it to be empty (like a real teapot) and have a top that could come off, I'd want to spend some time with this 3D Scan in a 3D modeling tool and actually DO THAT. ;)

The 3D Scanning Stage could be a great way for a burgeoning game designer to collect unusual objects, obtain textures and texture maps, and really jumpstart a 3D model.

3D Scanned Teapot from the HP Sprout's 3D Scanning Stage in the Dremel 3D Software

So far the whole thing has been amazing. The software has been continually updated, and while it's not perfect, it's definitely cool. My kids of been doing 2D stop-motion animation and my wife has been using it for scrapbooking.

A full review and YouTube Video is coming soon, but so far I can tell you that the HP Sprout is not just a fantastic "Kitchen PC" and a "Maker PC" but I could really see it being my family's primary computer. That said, the real place it shines is in education. I'd love it if my kids had a complete PC/scanner/printer combo available to them in their classroom.


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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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Free Training at Microsoft Virtual Academy - Introduction to ASP.NET 5

September 16, '15 Comments [23] Posted in ASP.NET | Learning .NET
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In 2013, Jon Galloway, Damian Edwards, and myself went up to film a LIVE 8 hour long Microsoft Virtual Academy training session called "Building Web Apps with ASP.NET Jump Start." We returned in 2014 with "Building Modern Web Apps with ASP.NET." Both of these are free, and are effectively a full day each of content.

Just a few weeks back here in September of 2015, we recorded "Introduction to ASP.NET 5." This is 100 to 200 level beginner content that starts at the beginning. If you're just getting started with ASP.NET 5 (currently in Beta) or perhaps you have been meaning to dig into the new stuff in ASP.NET 5 but haven't gotten around to it, this a good place to start.

image_08347e93-9435-4eab-865f-611c432b2562

Introduction to ASP.NET 5

We cover

  • Introduction to ASP.NET 5
  • Introduction to Visual Studio
  • Introducing Model View Controller (MVC6)
  • Getting Started with Models, Views, and Controllers
  • Debugging Web Applications
  • Configuration Data
  • Publishing Your Application
  • Using Data with Entity Framework

In the final three segments, we work with Damian Edwards to dissect every line of code in the real-world cloud-deployed application that runs our weekly standup at http://live.asp.net.

  • Exploring live.asp.net
  • Managing Data on live.asp.net
  • Advanced Features in live.asp.net

It's a full day of detailed video training with assessments after each video. You can seek around, of course, or download the videos for offline viewing. We are pretty happy with how it turned out.

We'll be returning to Microsoft Virtual Academy over the next several months to record 300-400 level advanced content as well as a Cross-Platform specific show for Mac and Linux users who want to develop and deploy ASP.NET applications. I hope you enjoyed it, we all worked very hard on it.


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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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Optimize for Tiny Victories

September 13, '15 Comments [15] Posted in Productivity
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image

I was talking with Dawn C. Hayes, a maker and occasional adjunct processor in NYC earlier this week. We were talking about things like motivation and things like biting off more than we can chew when it comes to large projects, as well as estimating how long something will take. She mentioned that it's important to optimize for quick early successes, like getting a student to have an "I got the LED to light up" moment. With today's short attention span internet, you can see that's totally true. Every programming language has a "5 min quick start" dedicated to giving you some sense of accomplishment quickly. But she also pointed out that after the LED Moment students (and everyone ever, says me) always underestimate how long stuff will take. It's easy to describe a project in a few sentences but it might take months or a year to make it a reality.

This is my challenge as well, perhaps it's yours, too. As we talked, I realized that I developed a technique for managing this without realizing it.

I optimize my workflow for lots of tiny victories.

For example, my son and I are working on 3D printing a quadcopter drone. I have no idea what I'm doing, I have no drone experience, and I'm mediocre with electronics. Not to mention I'm dealing with a 7 year old who wants to know why it hasn't taken off yet, forgetting that we just had the idea a minute ago.

I'm mentally breaking it up in work sprints, little dependencies, but in order to stay motivated we're making sure each sprint - whether it's a day or an hour - is a victory as well as a sprint. What can we do to not just move the ball forward but also achieve something. Something small, to be clear. But something we can be excited about, something we can tell mommy about, something we can feel good about.

We're attempting to make a freaking quadcopter and it's very possible we won't succeed. But we soldered two wires together today, and the muiltimeter needle moved, so we're pretty excited about that tiny victory and that's how we're telling the story. It will keep us going until tomorrow's sprint.

Do you do this too? Tell us in the comments.


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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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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.