Scott Hanselman

Making your Application Automatically Update Itself

January 31, '07 Comments [27] Posted in Programming
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I've always thought it was the height of classiness when an application lets me know that there's a new version available. Even little applications with no installer like Lutz's Reflector update themselves automatically.

There's lots of ways to implement an automatic update check in your application, and many products that say they'll do it automatically.

From my point of view, there's a number of levels of "coolness" in auto-updating. Now, all this assumes you're NOT using ClickOnce.

Cool:

  • Add a "Check for Update" menu that just launches the default browser like www.foo.com/update.aspx?version=3.3.4.4 where 3.3.4.4 is your own Main Assembly Version. Then the requested page just lets them know if they've got the latest or not.
    • You can get your app's version number via System.Windows.Forms.Application.ProductVersion() or System.Reflection. Assembly.GetExecutingAssembly(). GetName().Version.ToString(). Whew!

Cooler would be:

Cooler still would be:

  • Add a "Check for Update" menu that retrieves via a programmatic HTTP GET some XML from www.foo.com/update.aspx?version=3.3.4.4. Then report INSIDE your app if the user needs to upgrade, THEN ask them if they want to download the current version. If they say yes, do so, then close your app while shelling out to run the new updater/setup.
    • Bonus points for checking once a day/week/month for updates, silently, gracefully.

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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Upcoming Events Jan/Feb 2007

January 31, '07 Comments [1] Posted in Corillian | Speaking
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Here's a few upcoming local events that you might be interested in. I think that being a good developer is a start, but getting involved in the local developer community - whatever language or OS you're into - really helps make a technologist more well-rounded.

  • Tonight at 6:30pm at the Microsoft Portland Office Jason Mauer will be talking about XNA Game Studio Express. I'm watching Z tonight so I'll stop by to give away a Wrox Box and hang out until he cries.
    • "XNA is the future of game development with all the comforts of managed code, and it's here today for the PC and Xbox 360. Come see how much easier XNA makes it to build a game for Windows, and run it on your 360 in the living room."
  • Tues, Feb 6th at 7:30am at the Governor Hotel in Portland, I'll be on a panel discussing "Why Services Oriented Architecture (SOA) is Important to Your Product Success" with Joe Daly, Director of SOA at Intel and Gordon Ferlitsch (my old boss), VP of Technology at Transcore. Should be a spirited (!) talk and you'll still make it to work on time.
  • Saturday, Feb 10th at 10:00am at Willamette University in Salem, there's an event that's open to the public on Future Potential in Computing. While this event is primary focused on getting college students to consider a career in geekery, check out folks (plus me) that are on the panel and presenting. It might be worth the short drive down from Portland and making a day of it, we are. Don't tell anyone I only have a B.S. in Software Engineering.
    • Paul E. McKenney - Distinguished Engineer at IBM
    • Kathleen O'Reilly - Computer Animator from LAIKA
    • Karen Ward, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor of Computer Science in UP's School of Engineering
    • Mike Bailey, Ph.D. - Professor of Computer Science at Oregon State
  • Thu, Feb 15th at 11:30am at Microsoft's Portland Office, Stuart Celarier and I will be talking about CardSpace and the Laws of Identity. Stuart has created an excellent deck on this topic with some great Beyond Bullets designs that really lend themselves to the topic. Hopefully I'll have some demos of DasBlog running CardSpace along for the ride.

See you 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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Finding Free Radio Station Frequencies for my iPod

January 30, '07 Comments [5] Posted in Musings
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Well, my wife's iPod actully. I've still got it on my To-Do list to get my wife's Honda Civic Hybrid hooked up with proper iPod integration, but until then she'll have to use an FM Transmitter to listen to her tunes. It's always such a hassle to find a decent free frequence to transmit on.

Travis pointed out this incredibly useful Radio-Locator that finds the best radio frequencies in your area for this very reason. There's also amore limited Canadian Radio Frequency Search and International Search.

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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Another Way to Replace Start Run - Enso Launcher

January 26, '07 Comments [12] Posted in Reviews | Tools
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Stephen Nelson turned me on to Humanized Software's "Enso Launcher" (blog) earlier today, and I've been playing with it all evening. I've been on a quest to replace Start|Run for years (podcast). I've also done a lot of work in UI and UX and these guys are definitely fans of Jef Raskin's Humane Interface for good reason. Not just because Jef was brilliant - but also because they worked directly with him. The Enso Launcher is dedicated to Jef.

As I write this I notice that Enso was written up in the WSJ by Walt Mosberg today. Good PR team.

These guys have two products so far, one, a universal spell-checker called Enso Words with a very clever overlay interface. Right now I use an autocorrecter called Universal Autocorrect. Personally I think that US$40 is twice as expensive as it warrants.

However, the really interesting application in their Enso Launcher, which is oddly more useful, but reasonably priced at US$24.95. It's not quite as fast and intuitive as the Holy Grail - QuickSilver for Windows, but it's absolutely clever enough for you to download and try out.

There's a number of folks who are fervently against the Caps Lock key. Rather than suggesting that we rip the key off our keyboards, Enso Launcher uses it as its one-and-only hotkey.

Good Stuff

  • You hold down Caps Lock, an overlay appears, you start typing, then release Caps Lock. Sounds god when you type it, but in practice, it's kind of a tricky maneuver. For example, hold Caps Lock with your pinky, Type "gog", then without letting go of Caps Lock, press Tab with whatever free finger you have, mine is the left ring finger, then type the search term you want, then let go of Caps Locks. It's a bit of a dance. I'd prefer NOT to have to hold Caps Lock, or be able to configure the "start" and "end" events, like "Ctrl-Space" to start and "Enter" to end the command.
    • There is an alternative "lock-on"command, but it's (to me) very hard to to fast. "You can press down Caps Lock, then press down Alt, then release Caps Lock, then release Alt."
  • The calculate() command. If you have some text like 2+2 in a text box, just select it and do Caps Lock, "calc", release, and the text in the textbox will be replaced with the answer. If there's an = at the end, the answer appears at the end.
  • The "go" command switches between running applications, but also within Tabs in FireFox and/or IE. So, I can type "go", Tab, "Han" and if I have my blog open in a tab, Enso will switch me there.

Bad Stuff

  • So far, I'm just not as fast with this as I am with SlickRun. Mostly because of the machinations of the left hand.
    • It really needs a "start" type "stop" command...holding down Caps Lock thing is, in itself, an implied Mode, and having to hold it down makes this tool that much harder to "sell" to my Wife and/or Parents.
  • No plugin model that I can see.
  • Runs pokey on my 3Ghz P4. Might be my crap video card.

I'd say that it's pretty darn impressive for a first product, and a 1.0 at that. One caveat, it doesn't officially support Vista (yet), but it works pretty well on my Vista machine with UAC turned of. Go get it, I suspect it's going places. It's this kind of out of the box UX thinking that I expected from Windows Vista.

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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Daemon Tools and my new Lenovo T60p

January 25, '07 Comments [21] Posted in Musings | Tools
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Wow, that was horrible. I recently had trouble with my work IBM Thinkpad T42. After having used it happily for a few years, suddenly WGATRAY.EXE decided to hang at 100% CPU forever, rendering the machine unusable. I even made a batch file to loop forever and repeatedly kill it.

I figured it was a sign to start over, so I got a Thinkpad T60p from our IT department. I started installing crap (they could drop an image on the machine, but I like things "just so"). I did VS2003, VS2005, etc...all from CD, but then I needed to mount an ISO.

I downloaded Daemon Tools, a great ISO mounter that I've used happily for years without so much as a peep of drama from it. In the middle of the install - bam - blue screen of death.

When your BRAND NEW MACHINE blue screens, it's like discovering your spouse is a spy with another life. How can you ever trust the machine again?

I looked all over the Daemon Tools forum and found dozens of folks having the same problem, but the support folks monitoring the forums were very unsympathetic and less than helpful.

At this point, I was stuck in a BSOD loop, blue-screening after the desktop appeared.

I started up in Safe Mode with Command Prompt, after pressing F8 before the Windows Splash screen. With the Lenovos, you have to be careful wit hF8. If you press it too early - like when the BIOS screen appears - you'll end up in their custom Windows Pre-Execution Enivronment. It's lovely, to be sure, but it doesn't let you open a command prompt. Amazing thing, it includes a version of Opera and will let you surf, but it won't allow you to delete a file.

Anyway, I went into c:\windows\system32\drivers and di a "dir /o-d" to see the most recently installed files.  I deleted st3Wolf.sys and stpd.sys. After rebotting and not blue screening, I removed all the SCSI devices from the Device Manager (right click on My Computer and click Manage, then Device manager) as well as the "PnP BIOS Extension" under System Devices.

It sure seems that mounting an ISO should just be built into the OS and not a whole series of selling one's soul to the device driver devil with fake devices and faux BIOs extensions.

I haven't blue screened yet as I type this post...but I don't know how I'll ever trust her again.

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 48 - Introduction Board Gaming for Geeks and Programmers

January 25, '07 Comments [3] Posted in Gaming | Podcast
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My forty-eighth Podcast is up. I've finally buckled to intense peer pressure ;) and become a board gamer. More and more I've noticed that what I thought board games were like is wrong. There's a thriving alternative (to Monopoly, at least) board gaming world out there, and it's a great place for programmers to hang out. In this episode we talk about board games as an alternative to the HD-Xbox-PS3-Wii overload that many geeks and their families face in this increasingly techo-saturated time.

We're listed in the iTunes Podcast Directory, so I encourage you to subscribe with a single click (two in Firefox) with the button below. For those of you on slower connections there are lo-fi and torrent-based versions as well.

Subscribe: Feed-icon-16x16 Subscribe to my Podcast in iTunes

Links from the show are also always on the show site. This particular show had some great links, do check them out. Do also remember the archives are always up and they have PDF Transcripts, a little known feature that show up a few weeks after each show.

Our sponsors are CodeSmith Tools, /n software and the .NET Dev Journal.

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)

  • The basic MP3 feed is here, and the iPod friendly one is here. There's a number of other ways you can get it (streaming, straight download, etc) that are all up on the site just below the fold. I use iTunes, myself, to listen to most podcasts, but I also use FeedDemon and it's built in support.
  • Note that for now, because of bandwidth constraints, the feeds always have just the current show. If you want to get an old show (and because many Podcasting Clients aren't smart enough to not download the file more than once) you can always find them at http://www.hanselminutes.com.
  • I have, and will, also include the enclosures to this feed you're reading, so if you're already subscribed to ComputerZen and you're not interested in cluttering your life with another feed, you have the choice to get the 'cast as well.
  • If there's a topic you'd like to hear, perhaps one that is better spoken than presented on a blog, or a great tool you can't live without, contact me and I'll get it in the queue!

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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2007 African Music List

January 23, '07 Comments [8] Posted in Africa
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A reader wrote in to say that he liked the Afro-pop style of the Hanselminutes theme music, and wanted some African music pointers. I've been an Afrophile for as long as I can remember, studying Amharic while in college and now Zulu (and Bantu languages in general) and Mo and I have amassed a decent collection of contemporary African music. I can't say that my tastes are as broad and diverse as the continent, so be warned that this is a list of music I like, but not a list covering all cultures or current styles. I can virtually guarantee you'll enjoy this music though.

Note also that you'll very likely have to hunt for some of this music in your local town, unless you're living outside the states. I can typically find it at local African-specific record shops in larger towns. You can also buy most of it at the Afropop Shop.

Of course, "African Music" isn't a genre in itself, remember we're talking about 53 countries here, with literally hundreds (if not thousands) of different kinds of music. So I've narrowed the list to 20th and 21st century African music that I like.

  • Pitch Black Afro - Although he's South Africa's "ODB" in behavior, the music is pure Kwaito. Kwaito is a combination of reggae and house music.
    • If you want to experience PBA and a good general into to Kwaito and other South African hip-hop, get the soundtrack album to Tsotsi (a great movie). It's a little heavy with work from another Kwaito artist, Zola, who was in the movie, but it also has Vusi Mahlasela and Mafikizolo's fantastic track Munt'Omnyama (loosely translated to "black folks")
  • Brenda Fassie - known just as "Brenda." Her album "Memeza" is considered her best work.
  • Mafikizolo - Their 2005 album Kwela took Southern Africa by storm and is a very danceable collection.
  • Netsanet Mellesse - It's been a while since Netsanet's Spirit of Sheba album, so it sounds a little old-school with it's traditionally horn-heavy beats, but it's worth the listen as it's representative of a lot of contemporary Ethiopian pop.
    • Many prefer Aster Aweke, a slightly more flexible singer.
    • More recent is Gigi, a rising star to be sure, her album debut is a mix of traditional Amharic beats and Jazz.
  • Ladysmith Black Mambazo - This is an excellent compilation that includes not just Ladysmith and their unique singing and dancing style - ingquzu - but other vocal greats.
  • Tuku (Oliver Mtukudzi) - A Zimbabwean Great who is usually mentioned second, after Thomas Mapfumo. The review of his Tuku Music albumn on Amazon is spot-on:
    • His music is more romantic and bluesy than Mapfumo's...He's Ray Charles and Otis Redding to Mapfumo's Bob Marley and Bob Dylan. The music that he creates to carry a song is often light as air, creating a beautiful tension between content and container.
  • Madarocka - Nigeria's Hip Hop queen, she's a little more intense that I usually like, but still a good listen if you like American-tinged hip-hop with an African flavor.
  • Angélique Kidjo - Born in Benin, but currently in Paris, her music might be dismissed by the purist because not obscure and not purely "African," her take on Summertime is worth the album price alone.
  • Pulling from a music list I posted in 2005:
    • Khaled, Sahra - The King of Rai's "Aicha" is an internationally known anthem. Singing in Arabic and French, Rai is pop, reggae and funk.
    • Youssou N'Dour, Egypt - An unlikely title from a man hailing from Senegal, Youssou is the African continent's Paul Simon, pulling in beats from the whole hemisphere.
  • freshlyground - I nearly forgot this amazing group from RSA. Much of the album is in Xhosa but there's much in English. The group is racially mixed, very representative of the New South Africa.

And of course, subscribe to AfroPop, their weekly podcast is pure African gold. 

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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Channel 9 Video - Talking to Jeffrey Snover, PowerShell Architect

January 22, '07 Comments [3] Posted in PowerShell | Programming | Speaking
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Last November (!) I did a Channel 9 informal chat with Jeffrey Snover, the architect of PowerShell. It was a fantastic talk, a blast for me, as Jeffrey and I can talk about whatever, forever. However there was a Perfect Storm of technical problems and two things happened:

  • The ~5min of the video were lost and only audio exists...the video starts up somewhere around 4:45. The Channel9 team did a nice thing and added a splash with a notification. Still a bummer, but nicely recovered from.
  • It was published, but was unfindable and there were problems with the stream.

However, due to some very diligent work by CharlesT and ScottO at Microsoft, the interview is now up, available and watchable (IMHO). Go check it out. You can also download it directly if you like. I don't think i'll waste your time, and you can always watch it in double speed with Windows Media Player!

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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Happy Birthday to Mii - Wii Review

January 21, '07 Comments [35] Posted in Gaming | Reviews
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My Amazon.com Wish ListMy birthday is actually Monday, but my supercool wife Mo got me with a huge birthday surprise today. She organized the whole thing with my whole family chipping in and I never suspected. Without knowing (or caring) what a "Wii" is, turns out she'd been driving all over Oregon all last week, while sick, looking for a Wii for mii. She saw my Amazon Wishlist and went off hunting for a Wii. The amazing part is that she actually thought it was US$450 because I added a "bundle" to my list, and was thrilled when it was $249. Still "ridiculously expensive why do you have so many gadgets," but cool when one finds that something is nearly half what they expected it'd be.

Lately I've been thinking about games and hobbies that would bring family and friends together, rather than Gears of War style games that I can't play with anyone but the sick bastards at work. :) My buddy Eli and boss Chris have turned me on to alternative (my word) boardgaming, and that'll be the topic of this week's Hanselminutes. More on that later. I'm looking for games that are fun. Full stop.

I did research on the Wii for the podcast on Next Generation Gaming, although I got a few things wrong, I generally had the right idea. The Wii - specifically the controllers and the experience - is built to be fun, and really stretches the classic controller design assumptions.

It's tiny, the Wii is. Quite wee, in fact. It's smaller than the Xbox360's HD-DVD by a considerable margin. It's of course, easy to hook up as it includes Composite RCA cables, and a sensor bar. Everything else is wireless.

The sensor bar appears to be two IR receivers on a foot long bar that has to be mounted either above or below your TV. From what I can glean in an hour, there's two physical transmitters next to each other on the Wiimote and there's two receivers. When you're pointing the controller (folks talk about calibrating, but I never saw those screens. It just worked.) it knows the orientation (if you twisted your wrist) as well as the location you're pointing to. The IR details, along with the internal gyroscope and accelerometer give it a pretty decent idea of where you are. The little floating hand cursor actually twists with you. It's very much like the Gyromouse of years past. (Folks are hacking the Wiimote for Linux and Windows, but it's kind of pointless as that controller is freely available. I use it for my Media Center.) I believe Nintendo either bought or sleeps with that company.

The Wii outputs composite, but you can get Component Cables that'll do 480p. I believe I'm out of Video Inputs though, so I'm just plugging it into the Camcorder front jacks on the Receiver. I seriously doubt the screen quality would get THAT much better, considering that my Onkyo is upconverting the output to 480p anyway and pushing it through HDMI, but I'm probably wrong. I'll try the component cables one day.

I hooked it up, and went through a few menus. It was very Japanese minimalist. Big, clear buttons, simple menus. The hardest part was typing in the WEP key for my WiFi with the on screen keyboard. After that, the Wii went through a lengthy self-update process that seemed to have three parts. Not sure why it took so long.

I popped in the free Wii Sports game and tried tennis. It took literally two minutes to get it. The controllers really work well.

I thought it might just be me, so I figured I'd use my control case - the wife.

"Here dear, try this."

"Oh, lord, what is this. The video game; no you go ahead."

"Seriously, two minutes. Try it."

The video at left is the two minutes. She actually liked it. She liked it a lot. This is a woman who sees little value in the Xbox360 beyond Bejeweled. I asked if it was the controllers or the graphics that she appreciated (remembering to myself that she was wholly unimpressed while I foisted Topspin Tennis on the Xbox360 on her). She said that fact that there was no learning curve, and that we were 'off our butts.'

Wii Sports is a silly little ditty, but addictive and fun. I look forward to having four people playing mixed doubles. I hope that Nintendo comes out with deeper version of Wii sports...even a "Wii Summer Games" would be a blast.

At this point I can say that while the Xbox360 and Sony PS3 are both truly gorgeous, the Wii is just good fun. So far that's based on one game, and what I hear about Zelda. The current Wii lineup appears, IMHO, to be fairly weak. It'll take a year I figure for the developers to really do something interesting with the controllers beyond minigames.

The Xbox is all about community. It really is. I have at least 50 folks on my buddy list and I enjoy that distributed community. I get the impression that the Wii is also expanding the community to the person standing next to you. The DS and Gameboy were like that also with their game sharing and head-to-head features. Yes, I know that there's lot of systems that do this, and yes, I know that Fusion Frenzy was a great party game on the original Xbox. But argue with this: The number of times that Mo has played Gears of War with me is somewhere between zero and bubkes. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the Xbox immensely when I get a chance to play it. But if there's a chance to spend time with the Wife, the Wife always wins. Ideally I'd combine the two hobbies and actually play a game with the Wife. The fact that she picked up the controllers and was losing a virtual tennis match two minutes later is a significant event, IMHO. The Whole Wii Experience was seamless, from Out of the Box to Game Over.

For now, if I were considering buying a console, I could totally recommend the Wii. Even after tonight's few hours with it, I suspect Mo and I will play Tennis a few times a week. I also think that the accessibility and non-existent learning curve might even get Mom and Dad using the Wii.

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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Windows Vista SideBar Gadget for AirLink Web Cam

January 20, '07 Comments [6] Posted in ASP.NET | Javascript | Tools | Z
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I've got an AirLink101 AIC250 Network Camera in the baby's room. I wrote about it when he was younger in a Coding4Fun article on Motion Detection. He's been sleeping through the night since he was about six months, so even though my Webcam application was a ClickOnce App, I got lazy, and didn't used it for several months. However, we just weaned Z and I'm now in charge of putting him to bed.

Putting a baby to sleep is a subtle art, not unlike defusing a bomb or tiptoeing through minefield. Sometimes he goes down well, other times, less so. We started using the Webcam again lately, but I wasn't really digging the application and the way that it integrated into our life. My wife and I like to check our email just after we put the baby down, and I like to watch the baby at the same time. The app was getting in the way, or it'd take up the second monitor, and while I could have fixed it, I realized that I really wanted to see Z in the Vista Sidebar.

I started digging into the various "Gadget APIs." A Windows Sidebar Gadget is just a tiny web page or pages, along with javascript, that runs in a specific secure host and has automatic access to the Vista Sidebar DOM as JavaScript Objects. If you want to access storage bags for settings or whatever, it's all javascript and bailing wire. MacGyver would love it. I, on the other hand, don't.

Well, that's not true. I mean, it's brilliant, really, all the Gadget APIs are very accessible to the Javascripty. I'm just not very Javascripty. The lack of a really good debugger has me using System.Debug.outputstring and dbgview.exe from Sysinternals. It's lovely, really, but "got here" debugging sucks.

Got here.
Got here.
Got here.

Anyway. Turns out that the AirLInk101 not only has a MJPEG (That's MotionJPEG, not MPEG, for those who are paying attention) stream, but there's as a single JPEG endpoint like this: http://babyroom/IMAGE.JPG?cidx=20071200134234234 where you append a random number on the end to make sure the browser doesn't cache.

Now, I could do this Sidebar a number of ways. I could:

  • Use the Java Applet or the ActiveX control that comes with the camera and host it inside the Sidebar. However, you'd have to log into the admin console once, first, to authenticate. Not to mention the "meh" of having that stuff running inside the Sidebar process.
  • Use Ajax/XMLHttp ala Flickr to get the image all async like and assign it to an image.
  • Use XBAP or WPF/E to do the work for me...this was beyond my patience for new technology as I just wanted to spend and hour.

However, I'm old school. Smells like a job for "setInterval" to me. Hunting for Sidebar Samples got me to Microsoft Gadgets.com which is WAY old, but the Tutorial was useful. Interestingly the stuff that OdeToCode did was WAY clearer and more elegant, but I ended up using the stuff from the tutorial because it supported the many states that a Sidebar gadget can be in:

  • Docked
  • Docked, with a Flyout
  • Undocked and large (via a Setting)
  • Undocked and small (via a Setting)

I used the bare bones Virtual Earth sample to start with. Without getting to intense on the details, as you can just look at the code, I added a setting for the Camera Server that gets pulled out of the Gadget settings State Bag.

   1:  function procGadgetCore()
   2:  {
   3:      var serverName = System.Gadget.Settings.read("CameraServer");
   4:      if (serverName == '')
   5:      {
   6:          serverName = "babyroom";
   7:      }
   8:      gCameraServerURL = "http://" + serverName + "/image.jpg";
   9:   
  10:      UpdateGadget();
  11:   
  12:      startTimer();
  13:  }

It's my gadget, I use my camera's name as the default. The gadget can be many sizes, so I just resize the image as the gadget changes. I also append the unique-enough number to prevent caching.

   1:  function UpdateGadget()
   2:  {
   3:      var now = new Date();
   4:      imgCamera.src = gCameraServerURL + '?cidx=' + now.getTime();
   5:      imgCamera.style.width = gadgetContentFrame.style.width;
   6:      imgCamera.style.height = gadgetContentFrame.style.height;
   7:      System.Debug.outputString("Update Gadget" + imgCamera.src);
   8:  }

StartTimer() just does

   1:  function startTimer()
   2:  {
   3:      gTimerID = setInterval(UpdateGadget, gInterval);
   4:  }

I need to add the interval as a modifiable setting. Right now it's set to a half-second. Certainly less than the 10fps I get with the Webcam ClickOnce app, but I'm really just looking to see that he's OK, and 2fps fine for that and the CPU usage is negligible.

None of this matters to you if you don't have a Webcam like this, but here's the craptastical source. A gadget file is just a ZIP file, FYI. When you double-click it, Vista will ask install it and it'll show up in

%userprofile%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Sidebar\Gadgets

You can get there by pasting that into Start|Run. Enjoy. Take a look at these places that helped me in this little project:

Night night.

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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Buy Local Art - Connecting with a Tanzanian Artist from Dar es Salaam

January 19, '07 Comments [0] Posted in Africa
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CIMG6880A little tangent for a second. While we were in Tanzania last month we bought a lot of art. We usually "load up" and much of our house is African Art. I was an Afrophile long before I met my wife, and at least half the collection is mine., including two very large Amharic Fidel that I'm particularly fond of. Anyway, while we were in Arusha we had the good fortune to stop by Viavia, considered the least commercial of the local cultural heritage spots (here's photos in Flickr tagged "viavia" for a taste) and we met a young artist named Devdeo.

He really connected with my Mom, but as we had just arrived a day before, my Mom wasn't quite comfortable "putting her heart on her sleeve" and she didn't buy. The artist left for Dar es Salaam the next day. Fortunately Mom got his card, and remembered the art she wanted. We used SMS text'ing over the next week once she'd come to her senses and young Devdeo gave his art to a friend who was taking the six hour bus ride from Dar back to Arusha.

In this case we didn't negotiate prices because we felt strongly about helping young artists, and the prices were quite fair. I also mentioned to Devdeo that I'd put his art on my website, a prospect he found quite "fantastic."

His email is "devdeo" at the yahoo.co.uk domain (obfuscated for anti-spam) and he welcomes comments and inquiries. Most Africans with email that I met use free email in a co.uk domain it turns out.

My name is Devdeo.
I'm mainly an abstract painter but also i 've some realistic paintings. I age 23 yrs old.
I was born in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, in may 1983. Started drawing comics at age of 5, in 1988.
I've not attend any fine art or painting school, but am dreaming of got one. Now living in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Painting on canvas or paper with acrylic, oil, oil pastel, dry pastel or water colours. I don't have a studio just paint at home.
I have been participating in art festival or exhibition and looking forward for more and I'm Not married.
I love painting for sure, that's wat i sleep think about it and wake up think of it....ha ha! U kno wen am painting i feel like am the creator! Is something am free to do the way i like. My bottom line i have a "heart of art".
My contacts, Mobile: +255 784 235 235.
My Address is P.O.Box 34073, Dar es Salaam Tanzania.
Thanx scott,
.devdeo.

Devdeo encourages emails and SMS text messages with questions about his art, and art in Tanzania. He's also on Windows Messenger and Yahoo messenger with the same email as above. If you're visiting Tanzania, SMS him and say that you heard about him from Scott's website.

If you visit a country not your own, do try to connect with locals, especially young artists. We met many artists, some old, some young, most very talented. This young artist wants nothing more than any other artist, to support himself and create, and that stuck out in our heads.

My mom carried the four original works that she purchased from him with incredible care on the 25 hours of airline travel and they are now lovingly framed and displayed in her house in Oregon. She now feels more connected to Africa and this young man, and I was, and am, happy to have been a small part of that.

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 47 - How to start your own MicroISV

January 18, '07 Comments [4] Posted in Musings
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My forty-seventh Podcast is up. In this one, we talk to Leon the SecretGeek - who is 1/2 of TimeSnapper - about his 25 steps to starting your own MicroISV. NOTE: We cover most of the steps in the interview, but you'll want to visit http://www.secretgeek.net/25steps.asp today for the complete list.

We're listed in the iTunes Podcast Directory, so I encourage you to subscribe with a single click (two in Firefox) with the button below. For those of you on slower connections there are lo-fi and torrent-based versions as well.

Subscribe: Feed-icon-16x16 Subscribe to my Podcast in iTunes

Links from the show are also always on the show site. This particular show had some great links, do check them out. Do also remember the archives are always up and they have PDF Transcripts, a little known feature that show up a few weeks after each show.

Our sponsors are CodeSmith Tools, /n software and the .NET Dev Journal.

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)

  • The basic MP3 feed is here, and the iPod friendly one is here. There's a number of other ways you can get it (streaming, straight download, etc) that are all up on the site just below the fold. I use iTunes, myself, to listen to most podcasts, but I also use FeedDemon and it's built in support.
  • Note that for now, because of bandwidth constraints, the feeds always have just the current show. If you want to get an old show (and because many Podcasting Clients aren't smart enough to not download the file more than once) you can always find them at http://www.hanselminutes.com.
  • I have, and will, also include the enclosures to this feed you're reading, so if you're already subscribed to ComputerZen and you're not interested in cluttering your life with another feed, you have the choice to get the 'cast as well.
  • If there's a topic you'd like to hear, perhaps one that is better spoken than presented on a blog, or a great tool you can't live without, contact me and I'll get it in the queue!

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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Optimus Mini Three Keyboard and Windows Vista SideShow

January 18, '07 Comments [5] Posted in Tools
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Golly, it sure seems to me that the Optimus Mini Three Keyboard (ThinkGeek - ORDERED) would really suit Windows Vista SideShow very nicely. SideShow is Vista direct support for "helper displays." That might be three lines of LCD text on the back of a laptop on standby, or it might be a 320x240 color screen on your wall talking bluetooth. It'll certainly make Continuous Integration build monitors fun to write. :)

Of course McLaws is already over the general SideShow idea, and the the list is obvious. As SideShow APIs are fairly clear (MSDN) and the SideShow blog is very active, so I predict a LOT of motion in this direction soon.

Here's some ideas on what needs to be written:

  • SideShow adapters for Ceiva picture frames. Actually, this is a great idea. I think I'll start with this guy's Serial Port adapter for Ceiva, and flash my old picture frame with Linux, then write the SideShow stuff in C#.
  • SideShow using your PocketPC or SmartPhone as the display, over Bluetooth or WiFi.
  • A user-written XNA game for 360, where the XBox360 itself is the SideShow display.
  • Making a CrystalFontz LCD work with SideShow. Hm...I've got one of these lying around. I don't think there's a minimum device standard.
  • SideShow for the Optimus Mini-Three...this would ROCK. That'll be worked on this weekend...
  • I wonder if I can control the LCD on my Canon Pixma m550 Printer?
  • How long until Logitech updates the G15? They're obviously working on it - they'd be incredibly short sighted not to - it's too bad they haven't jumped in earlier with beta stuff.
  • There will be better Remotes that'll do it, but too bad my Harmony 880 Remote isn't wireless...

If your a company and you've got a cool device, email me, and let's talk about getting SideShow to talk to it, and I'll do a Coding4Fun article on SideShow. If you're the SideShow team, let me know what device isn't done yet, and I'll do it.

One very lovely thing to note about SideShow that will enable all sorts of crazy nonsense - from the docs:

The Sideshow platform is connection agnostic. It doesn’t matter whether an auxiliary display is connected through USB, Bluetooth, TCP/IP, or other future protocols, as long as the appropriate user mode Sideshow transport driver is present.

SideShowDevices.com is starting to collect news on all things SideShowy. Any other ideas on crazy SideShow stuff?

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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Patching OFFLINE Systems with Windows Update

January 18, '07 Comments [4] Posted in Tools
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A number of listeners wrote in with answers to my question - how can I update a Windows system that's NOT connected to the Internet, given ~70 updates and 6 reboots needed to get an XP SP2 system "up to date?"

I had a lot of trouble - as the de facto IT manager for my family - while in Tanzania trying to bring systems up to a safe standard without even dial-up internet.

I brought my trusty 2gig USB stick along with a pile of Portable Apps and the usual suspects for anti-crapware and general malware. I didn't realize that I could have brought the latest patches and rollups as well in an easy-to-install form.

Thanks folks!

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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Improving Outlook Today with Jello.Dashboard

January 17, '07 Comments [5] Posted in Reviews | Tools
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We did a podcast called "A Better Outlook" a while back and talked about ClearContext, SpeedFiler, and Taglocity. I've also talked about TiddlyWiki and for a while, ran my home page on Tiddly. (If you, your parents, or your school thinks you need a blog, you might try TiddlyWiki. Once you get it, it'll blow your mind. Some folks are using it to take notes in class. Brilliant.)

Now, we all know that Outlook Today (the javascript-based home page) sucked egregiously, and that suckage continues to this day. It's not really it's fault, it's mostly the Outlook Automation APIs being slow.

On the issue of functionally sucking, well, it's javascript and the Outlook Automation APIs are ever-so-public, so a mysterious person named dr.Uqbar decided to create Jello.Dashboard, a complete replacement for Outlook Today with a distinctive bent towards Getting Things Done.

It installed fine - it's just HTML and javascript, but the little tool they include to make your Outlook Home Page point to Jello didn't work, possibly because of my combo of Vista and Office 2007, but that was easily remedied. Just right-click on the folder you want to set the home page for - I recommend the ROOT/TOP folder - and select Properties. Then click Home and browse to C:\Program Files\JelloDashboard\jelloDash.htm. All set.

Don't freak out and think it'll mess up your Outlook, you can detangle it from Outlook by going to the same Properties Dialog and clicking "Restore Defaults."

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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Windows Vista Media Center Online Spotlight Launches

January 17, '07 Comments [4] Posted in Musings
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Finally! The section of Media Center formerly known as the "Online Spotlight" has launched/been-made-available on Windows Vista Media Center. I've just setup my Xbox360 to talk to the Vista Media Center, rather than Media Center 2005, and it's lovely. Truly. There's piles of content, and hopefully there will be piles more to come.

I also installed Anthony Park's MCEBrowser under Vista and it works great. I also noticed last week that my Windows Media Center Remote Keyboard controls 90% of the Xbox360 without telling it to, so that's shiny. I'll take a look and see if it makes the browsing experience bearable on a 37" LCD in my living room. I'm sure the wife would love to do her Gmail from the couch.

Hm...seems like a lot of technology hoops just to get the equivalent of a WebTV. Why can't I just browse the web on my Xbox360?

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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My one year old has the Terrible Twos

January 16, '07 Comments [25] Posted in Parenting | Z
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It's official, Z has completely discovered, grasped, and is now fully exploiting the word "no." My wife Mo saw this coming, and had been warning me for weeks now. I've been in denial, saying "Nonsense, he's clearly saying 'neh.'" At this, my wife sadly shook her head at her husband.

This morning I tried to take a pen away from Z and was greeted with "No!" as clear as a bell, following by what I can only describe as a scampering away.

My one year old is getting into his Terrible Twos. He wants everything. He's also exploded with regard to sign language. Now he not only wants, but he knows what he wants and tells us constantly.

Given my extraordinarily vast parenting experience - goodness, nearly a year of it - I've planned on The Principle of Benign Deprivation. I figure I'll give Z everything he needs, and maybe 10% of what he wants. I know folks who can't go into a Target or Wallmart for milk without also coming out with the latest GIJoe action figure or My Little Pony. I figure that Quaker Oats containers and cardboard boxes were good enough for me, they'll be good enough for Z.

Folks are currently taking bets on how long this attitude of mine is going to last. I believe the latest Vegas odds are 4:1 against, within the next six months.

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 46 - Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere WPF/E

January 11, '07 Comments [8] Posted in ASP.NET | Podcast | XML
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My forty-sixth Podcast is up. In this one, we chat about WPF/E, the supposed Microsoft "Flash Killer" and speculate about its future. There's a Mac version already, does this mean cross-platform CLR and XAML for all? Listen and find out. I hope you enjoy it.

We're listed in the iTunes Podcast Directory, so I encourage you to subscribe with a single click (two in Firefox) with the button below. For those of you on slower connections there are lo-fi and torrent-based versions as well.

Subscribe: Feed-icon-16x16 Subscribe to my Podcast in iTunes

Links from the show are also always on the show site. This particular show had a metric crapload of links, do check them out. Do also remember the archives are always up and they have PDF Transcripts, a little known feature that show up a few weeks after each show.

Our sponsors are CodeSmith Tools and the .NET Dev Journal.

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)

  • The basic MP3 feed is here, and the iPod friendly one is here. There's a number of other ways you can get it (streaming, straight download, etc) that are all up on the site just below the fold. I use iTunes, myself, to listen to most podcasts, but I also use FeedDemon and it's built in support.
  • Note that for now, because of bandwidth constraints, the feeds always have just the current show. If you want to get an old show (and because many Podcasting Clients aren't smart enough to not download the file more than once) you can always find them at http://www.hanselminutes.com.
  • I have, and will, also include the enclosures to this feed you're reading, so if you're already subscribed to ComputerZen and you're not interested in cluttering your life with another feed, you have the choice to get the 'cast as well.
  • If there's a topic you'd like to hear, perhaps one that is better spoken than presented on a blog, or a great tool you can't live without, contact me and I'll get it in the queue!

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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iPhone and iScott and iComputerZen.com

January 11, '07 Comments [10] Posted in Musings
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Sure, I want an iPhone, and yes, it's wonderful.  However, the interesting news today, IMHO, is Cisco's response and lawsuit. You probably know that they trademarked "iPhone" 11 years ago and have an iPhone product.

Apparently Apple has been in negotiations on and off, most recently very "on" to use the iPhone name, but launched the new product without finalizing the deal.

Everyone'll have their opinion about this, but the real story is how Cisco responded in a very "Web 2.0" way on their blog. The response is clear, transparent, thoughtful and avoids legalese. They have left their comments open to the public. Certainly they are trying to garner public support and I suspect they've done just that.

Frankly, it makes Apple look like d*cks, which is hard to do. I recommend you read the response. It's a good example of how to skillfully use blogs to manage the perception of your company, even if you're a giant faceless company like Apple or Cisco.

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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What do you buy the geek who has everything?

January 11, '07 Comments [7] Posted in Musings
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A friend asked me what they could by their geek for US$50. I emailed them this list, compiled from ThinkGeek.

These are pretty slick: http://www.thinkgeek.com/computing/avcards/7e3e/

As are http://www.thinkgeek.com/geektoys/warfare/8a0f/

This is fun from Office Space: http://www.thinkgeek.com/homeoffice/gear/61b7/

This personal area network fleece is nice, but $60: http://www.thinkgeek.com/apparel/hoodies/7c64/

I’d love to have this: http://www.thinkgeek.com/gadgets/electronic/8928/

If you really liked me you’d get me this: http://www.thinkgeek.com/computing/input/8193/

These are VERY useful for traveling professionals: http://www.thinkgeek.com/gadgets/electronic/89d1/

I want two of these http://www.thinkgeek.com/gadgets/electronic/6a4b/

This is excellent for the price, and unusual: http://www.thinkgeek.com/gadgets/watches/706f/

This is topical, useful and CHEAP: http://www.thinkgeek.com/computing/avcards/8837/

Hm...my birthday is coming up in 12 days...

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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Complete Hanselminutes Master Feed

January 9, '07 Comments [3] Posted in Podcast
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Due to popular demand (as opposed to unpopular demand) there's now a master feed of Hanselminutes shows. It contains every show we've ever done.

Before, our feed had only the latest show, because of bandwidth constraints as well as really stupid podcasting software that would continue to re-download shows that folks had listened to. Now, not only are podcast-downloaders more respectful, but our kind sponsors are helping with bandwidth.

Here's the master Hanselminutes Feed with all shows in MP3 format.

 

Again, do thank our sponsors for making it happen. Carl and I couldn't possibly afford the bandwidth, equipment, or editing costs without them. I try to put on a quality show (mostly) each week, and I appreciate the sponsors helping to make it happen.

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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SOLVED: Windows Media Sharing gets SLOW after installing Zune

January 8, '07 Comments [7] Posted in Musings
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We came back from Tanzania with over three gigs of photos and looked forward to having friends and family over to watch slideshows. We usually run the slide show on the Xbox360 talking to my main PC running Windows Media Sharing Service.

I chose to setup our home network using wired 100Mbs Ethernet, rather than wireless as our main "backbone" as I find even the fastest wireless totally unacceptable for large file transfers. Small things like the ReplayTV and a few other appliances are wireless, but every room is has plates in the wall with at least two drops, and there's a formal wiring closet in our linen closet with a punchdown block so I can rewire the house. Maybe one day I'll post on all this.

Anyway, back to the point. The pictures are 7.2 megapixels so they are 4-6 meg JPEGs depending. For last year the Xbox360 has been able to pull down a picture in less than 3 seconds, but just this last week it's taken 10-20 seconds, sometimes longer. Of course, this has significantly cramped our slide-showing style.

I'm a firm believer, when debugging, that something must have changed. So I sat down and puzzled on what's changed on my machine.

Then I realized that the only thing that changed was the addition of the Zune. I puzzled when I installed the Zune why it'd need another 'Sharing Service' - It installs the Zune Network Sharing Service. I didn't think too much about it, but I remember wondering Why do we need another uPnP service? Is the Zune THAT different that it can't just talk to the regular Windows Media Sharing Service.

Long story short, I ran "services.msc" on my Windows Vista machine and set the Zune Network Sharing Service to Manual, and stopped it. Lo and behold, the Xbox360 suddenly could pull images down as fast as before. Your mileage may vary, but if you have a Zune, you might consider just disabling that service all together. It certainly has a problem with the Xbox, or the Xbox has a problem when it sees two seemingly identical uPnp servers on the same machine.

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 45 - IronPython ASP.NET and Language Extensibility

January 6, '07 Comments [3] Posted in ASP.NET | Podcast | Ruby
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My forty-fifth Podcast is up. In this one, Carl and I discuss how the Iron Phython guys used a hook into No-Compile ASP.NET pages to enable better support for dynamic languages in ASP.NET. We also speculate on Microsoft's plan for Ruby. I hope you enjoy it.

We're listed in the iTunes Podcast Directory, so I encourage you to subscribe with a single click (two in Firefox) with the button below. For those of you on slower connections there are lo-fi and torrent-based versions as well.

Subscribe: Feed-icon-16x16 Subscribe to my Podcast in iTunes

Links from the show are also always on the show site, although this show had no links to speak of. Do also remember the archives are always up and they have PDF Transcripts, a little known feature that show up a few weeks after each show.

Our sponsors are /nsoftware, CodeSmith Tools and the .NET Dev Journal.

There's a $100 off CodeSmith coupon for Hanselminutes listeners - it's coupon code HM100. Spread the word, now's the time to buy. This coupon is good for the CodeSmith Professional With 1 Year Premier Support option.

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)

  • The basic MP3 feed is here, and the iPod friendly one is here. There's a number of other ways you can get it (streaming, straight download, etc) that are all up on the site just below the fold. I use iTunes, myself, to listen to most podcasts, but I also use FeedDemon and it's built in support.
  • Note that for now, because of bandwidth constraints, the feeds always have just the current show. If you want to get an old show (and because many Podcasting Clients aren't smart enough to not download the file more than once) you can always find them at http://www.hanselminutes.com.
  • I have, and will, also include the enclosures to this feed you're reading, so if you're already subscribed to ComputerZen and you're not interested in cluttering your life with another feed, you have the choice to get the 'cast as well.
  • If there's a topic you'd like to hear, perhaps one that is better spoken than presented on a blog, or a great tool you can't live without, contact me and I'll get it in the queue!

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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Family Portraits to start 2007

January 6, '07 Comments [8] Posted in Musings | Parenting | Z
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image-3

image-2
image
A new year, and time to head out to get some family portraits. Even more fun when you are three rather than two. We started out the day going to an "upscale" photo joint. I asked them to shoot RAW rather than JPEG, and they obliged (...after some shock. Apparently I'm the second to ask for this.). The photos were nice, but we were underwhelmed some how. Perhaps we think we're prettier than we really are.

We went to lunch at the mall with my dad, and there's a "low budget" photo place in the food court, and there's no sitting fee. They aren't digital, but you can buy the negatives and copyright for the whole roll for US$70. What the heck, we said.

Turned out that the mall shop photos were all gold, IMHO. They shot in 120mm, rather than 35mm, so the negatives are a medium format, so I'll need to find a negative scanner that'll take them.

I scanned the pictures at right on my Canon Pixma MP500 Multifunction with no color correction at 600dpi. The photos on flickr are 1280pix, but the scanned ones are of sufficient detail to create borderless 4x6 photos on the Canon that are nearly indistinguishable from the original prints.

Once I scan the clean negatives (and do some decent cropping, my cropping at right is lousy, I can see now) I'll be able to make 8x10's no problem for gifts and such.

This is our first (yearly) portrait with Z, and I'm looking forward to the next seventeen.

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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Complete DasBlog Macro Documentation

January 5, '07 Comments [1] Posted in DasBlog
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John Forsythe is one of the most active DasBlog contributors, always pushing his own blog to the edge with cutting edge custom macros and features that are often brought into the main codeline.

One of the largest (valid) complaints about DasBlog has been it's near-complete lack of documentation around included Macros. For a while it was embarrassing, then it just became sad. John to the rescue. Unprompted, he's documented the complete set of macros, including screenshots (you'll need to scroll horizontally) and CSS styles. Amazing.

Check it out, and give him kudos. He, and our other documenter Tom Watts, should both be commended for their hard work along with the many project contributors and custom macro writers. Thanks guys for the efforts!

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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Event: Why SOA is Important

January 5, '07 Comments [0] Posted in Speaking
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I'll be joining the panel at a breakfast event on "Why SOA is Important" at the Software Association of Oregon on Feb. 6th from 7:30am to 9:00am at the Governor Hotel. If you're an Engineering Executive (read: boss) you should register for this Executive-focused event. This might be a good time for you or your company to join the SAO, making events like this cheaper!

The Engineering Executive Forum is limited to those executives currently leading engineering programs. For this event only: Engineering Executives are encouraged to invite their Marketing Executive peer from their company to attend this event.

Here's the current calendar of events planned in many groups, including the Development SIG and their upcoming talk on Cardspace and Identity.

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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Five Things You (Seriously) Didn't Know About Me

January 4, '07 Comments [18] Posted in Musings
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I hate (lowercase 'h') these viral questionnaires, but somehow this one is slightly more compelling and I've already seen a number of interesting responses out there.  I was "tagged" by Phil Haack, so I am apparently honor-bound to respond. Here's my "Five Things You (Seriously) Didn't Know About Me" in no particular order. 

  1. In my sophomore year in school, while studying Software Engineering, there was a term where I got straight "D's." I was sleeping in class, not showing up, not doing my work. I'd lost weight and was 145lbs on a 5'11" frame (that's unhealthy, for you folks using the metric system. I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes shortly after, the month before my 21st birthday.
  2. I'm a bit of a fashionisto. I know all the girls on America's Next Top Model, and can name 95% of the models in any fashion magazine (Vogue, etc) even the obscure ones. I find myself watching FashionTV a little bit too much and I can put together a fine looking outfit for just about any body type for under $100. I took my niece to "Forever 20" - a local boutique - and come up with a series of coordinated separates that included a black pin-stripe capri pant, tank top and tweedy shrug (not a bolero) that she could add to her existing collection to make at least five different ensembles. That said, I buy all my clothes at Old Navy so I'm kind of an average dresser, but I could look nice if prompted.
  3. I've never had a cavity. My teeth are pristine. Well, kinda. My paternal grandmother had no adult permanent teeth. She kept her baby teeth into high-school and was eventually fitted with fake teeth. My dad was born with only half his permanent teeth, and has had partial dentures for years, now a bridge. Fortunately my Mom was blessed with like 45 teeth (way more then you're supposed to have) and had many pulled to have the right amount. All that combined, along with Fluoride treatments for decades have given me super-teeth. Until last year, when I had a "preemptive filling" when the dentist said, "Well that's not a cavity, but we might as well fill the pits to prevent one in the future." So, my record has been broken, even though I like to think my teeth are still nice.
  4. I also wonder what would have happen if I'd continued my short lived comedy career (punctuated by a series of brutal open-mikes) and actually got a sitcom or movie. I look at guys like Zach Braff and Ryan Reynolds and I can't help but think that they have my career. I totally should have been on Two Guys, a Girl, and Pizza Place, and it would have rocked. I even sent a proposal to the folks at Saturday Night Live that they do a night hosted by a Complete Unknown (me). I still think it'd be better than the crap they are currently putting out. So, if you want to cast me as the lead in your movie, now's the time. I'll go fast.
  5. I have never drank nor have I smoked weed or tried any illicit whatnot in my life. I don't know what beer tastes like, and I've only smelled wine. I never got around to it in my teen years, and once I was diagnosed diabetic, I figured since I was on such a roll, why break my tea-totaling streak? I don't understand the compulsion to get "plastered" as the frats are wont to do and I don't go on wine tasting expeditions. However, I have been known to eat a half-pound of Tillamook Medium Cheddar Cheese in one sitting.

There's others you don't know, like politics and religion, but I'll avoid those as this is a primarily technical blog. Now, I'm supposed to "tag" five other people who are supposed to answer the same question with a post of their own. Here's my five: Greg Hughes, Patrick Cauldwell, Daniel (kzu) Cazzulino, John Lam and Sam Ruby.

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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FavIcon.ico can be a bandwidth hog

January 3, '07 Comments [9] Posted in ASP.NET | Musings
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I got an email from ORCSWEB, my most excellent hosting company (check them out) that I'd used over 230 GIGs of bandwidth for the month. Oy. First, I was happy that the site is doing well, then I was disturbed. Something MUST be wrong.

So, I asked them to hook me up with a better stats package than the default and they hooked up SmarterStats immediately. I checked it out:

Notice anything odd there? Yes, my favicon.ico used 27 GIGS of bandwidth in the month. Yikes.

Turns out my icon was 70k, as I made it a wonderful high-quality "Vista" icon in an attempt to make things pleasant and everything for folks. Of course, I didn't noticed when it was taking up over 11% of my monthly bandwidth.

Long story short, I changed my icon from a multi-resolution (6 resolutions, all 16M colors) to a simpler one using Junior Icon Editor that has 3 resolutions at 16 colors and still looks nice. The icon is now under 4k, a 95% reduction that should lower this month's bandwidth by 25 GIGS.

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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Problem caused by Windows XP Service Pack 2 - Install SP2 to fix

January 3, '07 Comments [4] Posted in Musings
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Considering that this machine had Windows XP SP1 on it, this doesn't bode well for the new 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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1990 called, they want to their software back

January 2, '07 Comments [36] Posted in Musings
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This was a silly thing to do, but I noticed this message on a private mailing list I subscribe to:

Is there a [good] deal for PC Anywhere? One of my clients needs me to have it

and I just had to respond:

Ya, and I need a copy of QEMM. Got a few TSRs I need to load into the UMB. Oh, and Stacker 2, my RLL 50meg Winchester Drive is filling up with Borland’s new TurboVision headers.

And since my own dorky response made me chuckle out loud, I thought I'd share.

What archaic (meaning: older than like 2 years ;) ) software does your workplace force you to use? Discuss.

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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Beta Rev Disk Drivers for Windows Vista

January 2, '07 Comments [5] Posted in Musings | Tools
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I have a love/hate relationship with my Iomega Rev Drive. I love the drive, but I hate Iomega.

The drive hasn't worked in Vista since I upgraded due to lack of drivers, and that's cramped my backup strategy. However, I noticed today beta drivers for Vista up on their incrediblycraptastic support site.

Here's the direct links so you don't have to futz around. Good luck.

It's a great little piece of hardware, the Rev Drive, it's just got yucky software because they choose to make it look like a UDF (DVD/CD) device, rather than a removable hard drive (which would have been my preference.)

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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Last Post of 2006 - Best Of

January 1, '07 Comments [0] Posted in Musings
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CIMG6216We're getting closer and closer to 2010, and it's tripping me out. This is the last post of 2006. Here's some of the things I felt good about this year in no particular order. Also, here's the complete archive of 2006 posts for this blog in calendar form.

Sure, this is just a list of links, but it's the posts that I thought were the best out of the hundreds I ended up posting this year. Hope next year is fantastic for you and yours.

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.