Scott Hanselman

Terminus and FluentTerminal are the start of a world of 3rd party OSS console replacements for Windows

November 9, '18 Comments [6] Posted in Open Source | Tools
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Folks have been trying to fix supercharge the console/command line on Windows since Day One. There's a ton of open source projects over the year that try to take over or improve on "conhost.exe" (the thing that handles consoles like Bash/PowerShell/cmd on Windows). Most of these 3rd party consoles have weird or subtle issues. For example, I like Hyper as a terminal but it doesn't support Ctrl-C at the command line. I use that hotkey often enough that this small bug means I just won't use that console at all.

Per the CommandLine blog:

One of those weaknesses is that Windows tries to be "helpful" but gets in the way of alternative and 3rd party Console developers, service developers, etc. When building a Console or service, developers need to be able to access/supply the communication pipes through which their Terminal/service communicates with command-line applications. In the *NIX world, this isn't a problem because *NIX provides a "Pseudo Terminal" (PTY) infrastructure which makes it easy to build the communication plumbing for a Console or service, but Windows does not...until now!

Looks like the Windows Console team is working on making 3rd party consoles better by creating this new PTY mechanism:

We've heard from many, many developers, who've frequently requested a PTY-like mechanism in Windows - especially those who created and/or work on ConEmu/Cmder, Console2/ConsoleZ, Hyper, VSCode, Visual Studio, WSL, Docker, and OpenSSH.

Very cool! Until it's ready I'm going to continue to try out new consoles. A lot of people will tell you to use the cmder package that includes ConEmu. There's a whole world of 3rd party consoles to explore. Even more fun are the choices of color schemes and fonts to explore.

For a while I was really excited about Hyper. Hyper is - wait for it - an electron app that uses HTML/CSS for the rendering of the console. This is a pretty heavyweight solution to the rendering that means you're looking at 200+ megs of memory for a console rather than 5 megs or so for something native. However, it is a clever way to just punt and let a browser renderer handle all the complex font management. For web-folks it's also totally extensible and skinnable.

As much as I like Hyper and its look, the inability to support hitting "Ctrl-C" at the command line is just too annoying. It appears it's a very well-understood issue that will ultimately be solved by the ConPTY work as the underlying issue is a deficiency in the node-pty library. It's also a long-running issue in the VS Code console support. You can watch the good work that's starting in this node-pty PR that will fix a lot of issues for node-based consoles.

Until this all fixes itself, I'm personally excited (and using) these two terminals for Windows that you may not have heard of.

Terminus

Terminus is open source over at https://github.com/Eugeny/terminus and works on any OS. It's immediately gorgeous, and while it's in alpha, it's very polished. Be sure to explore the settings and adjust things like Blur/Fluent, Themes, opacity, and fonts. I'm using FiraCode Retina with Ligatures for my console and it's lovely. You'll have to turn ligature support on explicitly under Settings | Appearance.

Terminus is a lovely console replacement

Terminus also has some nice plugins. I've added Altair, Clickable-Links, and Shell-Selector to my loadout. The shell selector makes it easy on Windows 10 to have PowerShell, Cmd, and Ubuntu/Bash open all at the same time in multiple tabs.

I did do a little editing of the default config file to set up Ctrl-T for new tab and Ctrl-W for close-tab for my personal taste.

FluentTerminal

FluentTerminal is a Terminal Emulator based on UWP. Its memory usage on my machine is about 1/3 of Terminus and under 100 megs. As a Windows 10 UWP app it looks and feels very native. It supports ALT-ENTER Fullscreen, and tabs for as many consoles as you'd like. You can right-click and color specific tabs which was a nice surprise and turned out to be useful for on-the-fly categorization.

image

FluentTerminal has a nice themes setup and includes a half-dozen to start, plus supports imports.

It's not yet in the Windows Store (perhaps because it's in active development) but you can easily download a release and install it with a PowerShell install.ps1 script.

I have found the default Keybindings very intuitive with the usual Ctrl-T and Ctrl-W tab managers already set up, as well as Shift-Ctrl-T for opening a new tab for a specific shell profile (cmd, powershell, wsl, etc).

Both of these are great new entries in the 3rd party terminal space and I'd encourage you to try them both out and perhaps get involved on their respective GitHubs! It's a great time to be doing console work on Windows 10!


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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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Audio Switcher should be built into Windows - Easily Switch Playback and Recording Devices

April 4, '18 Comments [14] Posted in Tools
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Audio SwitcherI've been running a podcast now for over 600 episodes and I do most of my recordings here at home using a Peavey PV6 Mixing Console - it's fantastic. However, I also work remotely and use Skype a lot to talk to co-workers. Sometimes I use a USB Headset but I also have a Polycom Work Phone for conference calls. Plus my webcams have microphones, so all this adds up to a lot of audio devices.

Windows 10 improved the switching experience for Playback Devices, but there's no "two click" way to quickly change Recording Devices. A lot of Sound Settings are moving into the Windows 10 Settings App but it's still incomplete and sometimes you'll find yourself looking at the older Sound Dialog:

Sound Control Panel

Enter David Kean's "Audio Switcher." It's nearly 3 years old with source code on GitHub, but it works AMAZINGLY. It's literally what the Power User has always wanted when managing audio on Windows 10.

UPDATED NOTE: Turns out there are SEVERAL Windows Audio Switchers out there in the world, and they are all lovely. Also check out the more feature-ful Audio Switcher from Sean Chapman at https://audioswit.ch/er with code at https://github.com/xenolightning/AudioSwitcher_v1!

It adds a Headphone Icon in the Tray, and clicking it on puts the Speakers at the Top and Mics at the Bottom. Right-clicking an item lets you set it as default. Even nicer if you set the icons for your devices like I did.

Audio Switcher

Ok, that's the good news. It's great, and there's Source Code available so you can build it easily with free Visual Studio Community.

Bad news? Today, there's no "release" or ZIP or EXE file for you to download. That said, I uploaded a totally unsupported and totally not my responsibility and you shouldn't trust me compiled version here.

Hopefully after this blog post is up a few days, David will see this blog post and make an installer with a cert and/or put this wonderful utility somewhere, as folks clearly are interested. I'll update this blog post as soon as more people start using Audio Switcher.

Thank you David for making this fantastic utility!


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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 download embedded videos with F12 Tools in your browser

November 29, '17 Comments [15] Posted in Tools
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I got an email this week asking how to download some of my Azure Friday video podcast videos from http://friday.azure.com as well as some of the Getting Started Videos from Azure.com.

NOTE: Respect copyright and consider what you’re doing and WHY before you use this technique to download videos that may have been embedded for a reason.

I told them to download the videos with F12 tools, and they weren't clear how. I'll use an Azure Friday video for the example. Do be aware that there are a ton of ways to embed video on the web and this doesn't get around ones that REALLY don't want to be downloaded. This won't help you with Netflix, Hulu, etc.

First, I'll visit the site with the video I want in my browser. I'll use Chrome but this also works in Edge or Firefox with slightly different menus.

Then press F12 to bring up the Developer Tools pane and click Network. In Edge, click Content Type, then Media.

Download embedded videos with F12

Click the "clear" button to set up your workspace. That's the International No button there in the Network pane. Now, press Play and get ready.

Look in the Media list for something like ".mp4" or something that looks like the video you want. It'll likely have an HTTP Response in the 20x range.

Download 200

In Chrome, right click on the URL and select Copy as CURL. If you're on Windows pick cmd.exe and bash if you're on Linux/Mac.

Downloading with CURL

You'll get a crazy long command put into your clipboard. It's not all needed but it's a very convenient feature the browser provides, so it's worth using.

Get Curl: If you don't have the "curl" command you'll want to download "curl.exe" from here https://curl.haxx.se/dlwiz/ and, if you like, put it in your PATH. If you have Windows, get the free bundled curl version with installer here.

Open a terminal/command prompt - run cmd.exe on Windows - and paste in the command. If the browser you're using only gives you the URL and not the complete "curl" command, the command you're trying to build is basically curl [url] -o [outputfile.mp4]. It's best if you can get the complete command like the one Chrome provides, as it may include authentication cookies or other headers that omitting may prevent your download from working.

GOTCHA: Make sure to remove the -H "Range:" headers (if any) to ensure you get the FULL download and not just a range of bytes!

image

BEFORE you press enter, make sure you add "-o youroutputfilename.mp4." Also, if you can an error about security and certificates, you may need to add "--insecure."

Downloading a streaming video file with CURL

In the screenshot above I'm saving the file as "test.mp4" on my desktop.

There are several ways to download embedded videos, including a number of online utilities that come and go, but this technique has been very reliable for me.


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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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Use a second laptop as an extended monitor with Windows 10 wireless displays

October 18, '17 Comments [19] Posted in Tools | Win10
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James Clarke from the Windows team rolled into a meeting today with two Surfaces...but one had no keyboard. Then, without any ceremony, he proceeded to do this:

Holy Crap a Surface as a Second Monitor

Now, I consider myself a bit of a Windows Productivity Tips Gourmand, and while I was aware of Miracast and the general idea of a Wireless Display, I didn't realize that it worked this well and that it was built into Windows 10.

In fact, I'm literally sitting here in a hotel with a separate USB3 LCD display panel to use as a second monitor. I've also used Duet Display and used my iPad Pro as a second monitor.

I usually travel with a main laptop and a backup laptop anyway. Why do I lug this extra LCD around? Madness. I had this functionality all the time, built in.

Use your second laptop as a second monitor

On the machine you want to use as a second monitor, head over to Settings | System | Projecting to this PC and set it up as you like, considering convenience vs. security.

Settings | Projecting to this PC

Then, from your main machine - the one you are projecting from - just hit Windows Key+P, like you were projecting to a projector or second display. At the bottom, hit Connect to a Wireless Display.

Connect to a Wireless Display

Then wait a bit as it scans around for your PC. You can extend or duplicate...just like another monitor...

Connected to a Wireless Display

...because Windows thinks it IS another monitor.

You can also do this with Miracast TVs like my LG, or your Roku or sometimes Amazon Fires, or you can get a Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter and HDMI to any monitor - even ones at hotels!

NOTE: It's not super fast. It's sometimes pixelly and sometimes slow, depending on what's going on around you. But I just moved Chrome over onto my other machine and watched a YouTube video, just fine. I wouldn't play a game on it, but browsing, dev, typing, coding, works just fine!

Get ready for this. You can ALSO use the second machine as a second collaboration point! That means that someone else could PAIR with you and also type and move their mouse. THIS makes pair programming VERY interesting.

 Allow input from the remote display

Here's a video of it in action:

Give it a try and let me know how it goes. I used two Surfaces, but I also have extended my display to a 3 year old Lenovo without issues.


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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 control PowerPoint on Windows with a Bluetooth Nintendo Switch JoyCon controller! (or a Surface Pen)

April 10, '17 Comments [4] Posted in Tools
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I usually use a Logitech Presentation Clicker to control PowerPoint presentations, but I'm always looking for new ways. Michael Samarin has a great app called KeyPenX that lets you use a Surface pen to control PowerPoint!

However, I've also got this wonderful Nintendo Switch and two JoyCon controllers. Rachel White reminded me that they are BlueTooth! So why not pair them to your machine and map some of their buttons to keystrokes?

Let's do it!

First, hold the round button on the black side of the controller between the SL and SR buttons, then go into Windows Settings and Add Bluetooth Device.

Add a Bluetooth Device

You can add them both if you like! They show up like Game Controllers to Windows:

Hey a JoyCon is a JoyStick to Windows!

Ah, but these are Joysticks. We need to map JoyStick Actions to Key Presses. Enter JoyToKey. If you keep using it (even though you can use it free) it's Shareware, you can buy JoyToKey for just $7.

Hold down a button on your Joystick/Joycon to see what it maps to. For example, here I'm clicking in on the stick and I can see that's Button 12.

Using JoyToKey to map JoyCons to PowerPoint

Map them anyway you like. I mapped left and right to PageUp and PageDown so now I can control PowerPoint!

Using JoyToKey to map JoyCons to PowerPoint

And here it is in action:

ZOMG YOU CAN CONTROL POWERPOINT WITH THE #NintendoSwitch JoyCon! /ht @ohhoe

A post shared by Scott Hanselman (@shanselman) on


So fun! Enjoy!


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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