Andy Pennell's Blog

See me blather about software development, Gadgets, Technology, Fatherhood, plus anything else that gets me going.

  • Andy Pennell's Blog

    Running a Family with Food Sensitivities

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    Gratuitous post time: my wife has been doing a great job dealing with various food sensitivity issues in our family for a while now, and she has her own blog that includes recipes and tips that should be of interest to anyone else in a similar position...
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    Celebrating the first Apollo Moon Landing

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    In a matter of days it will be the 40th anniversay of Apollo 11 landing on the moon, a seminal moment for humanity, at least as far as I am concerned. Less than a hundred years since man figured out he could fly, three men travelled to another celestial...
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    More HD DVD players than Blu-ray players in America. Still. In 2009.

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    In frankly amazing news even to me, a new Harris Poll shows that over a year and a half since the format war ended there are more Americans with HD DVD players than with Blu-ray players , and in fact 2009 was a pretty good year for HD DVD players, in...
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    Two Fixes You Must Have for Visual Studio 2008 SP1

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    The SP1 release of VS08 regressed some functionality compared to the original release, in a couple of critical areas. As a result it is highly likely you'll need the following two patches for it. I know many of our team who hit these issues, cursed, came...
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    You Know You're Getting Old When: The Copyright On Your First Book Expires

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    According to British law the copyright on my first book expired last year, after twenty-five years. Not only does this make me feel ancient, but it compels me to recall the heady days of 1983, when I created my tome " Master Your ZX Microdrive ". I...
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    HD DVD Is Back!

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    Following last week’s announcements regarding Blu-ray and the Sony Playstation 3, it looks like HD DVD will be coming back as the high definition movie format of choice. Call me amazed but happy! The first clue, which few seemed to notice, was that...
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    How Do You Debug A Movie?

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    How do you debug a movie? Before I get too old and forget, here is the story of one bug that I had to find when playing King Kong in the Xbox HD DVD player. It concludes with yet another reason I am so glad we’re not doing a Blu-ray player. The HD...
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    Zune in my Boxster: Part 2

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    I've been enjoying my Zune installation for a while now, but I had one thing that bugged me: operating the touchpad with the player mounted in the ashtray was a bit tricky when stationary, but very tricky when moving. It was also time to post some pictures...
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    My First Commercial Software: Kempston Joystick Conversion Tape

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    1983 were much simpler times in software. Here is how a student turned a quick hack into his first commercially released software and made his first money in the business. That student was me. Back in 1983 Kempston Electronics produced a joystick interface...
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    Blu-ray on Xbox 360: Never. Thank goodness for that

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    The President of the Entertainment & Devices group has made it crystal clear, hopefully for the last time: Xbox 360 won't ever get Blu-ray . Woohooh! Glad to see we're not about to throw money into that particular pit and support that other HD...
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    The Sinclair QL is 25 yrs old today!

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    Chances are that you have never heard of the Sinclair QL . However if you are as old as me and European then you may have a soft spot for this 68k-based machine launched twelve days before that other 68k machine from the fruit company. It was my first...
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    A Personal Guide to Ripping CDs with Zune

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    Over the holidays I ripped about sixty CDs with the Zune software, and it wasn’t as smooth as it should have been. Here is what I learnt, which I hope will save others time and frustration. It had long been a plan for the holidays for me to manually...
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    Zune Installation in my Boxster

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    Following the recent success in using a Zune for the kids to watch movies in the family vehicle , I decided it was time to update the music system in my car. I was a very happy customer of a Kenwood Keg which had been professionally installed in my Boxster...
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    Book Review: Essential C# 3.0

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    I haven’t posted a book review here before, but that’s because no-one has sent me a pre-release draft manuscript to review before! So here it is, a review of Essential C# 3.0 by Mark Michaelis. To skip to the chase, I like this book a lot. My personal...
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    Converting Zune playlists into Windows Media Player playlists

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    For some inexplicable reason Zune playlists (ZPL) are different from Windows Media Player playlists (WPL). I foolishly made a Zune playlist and wanted to burn a data CD with it, but the Zune Burn feature only makes audio CDs. I tried loading the ZPL into...
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    Using a Zune 80GB as a Car Video Player

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    Following on the theme of trying to make it easier for my kids to watch movies in the car but without the hassle of the pesky shiny discs, I decided to try using a Zune 80GB as a car video player. This is clearly outside its design parameters, because...
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    Tricks and Tips for using the VMR9

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    A few months ago I did some work involving the VMR9, and I hit several brick walls. Many of these brick walls I hit about six months previously when working on a PC application for HD DVD playback (no, there were no plans to ship it, even then), but I...
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    Who doesn't take credit/debit cards in 2008? Washington State Licensing, that's who

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    Normally I renew my car tabs online with a credit or debit card, but that wasn't possible this week so I visited an actual License Office. Much to my amazement there was a sign stating "We do not accept Debit or Credit cards". When my turn came to speak...
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    Playing Ripped DVDs with Media Center Extenders

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    At last I have succeeded in getting ripped DVDs to play from my Xbox 360's Media Center Extender, and here is how I did it. First off let me explain my goals: I want to be able to play my kid's DVDs via my home network, so they can avoid trashing...
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    What did you do in the Format War, Daddy?

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    My kids are 2 and 4 yrs old so have little concept of what Daddy does, though they do know the words DVD, Xbox, and Lightsaber. However in a decade or so they might be able to understand what Daddy did in the format war, so here’s how I plan on explaining...
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    Why HD DVD Really Lost The Format War

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    It's all my fault. I'm terribly sorry. Something critical happened in October 2007 that I forgot to add to yesterday's Diary posting . Before CES 2007 I was going to do it, but I was worried that something bad might happen at CES so I didn't. After the...
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    Diary of a High Definition Format War

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    Here are my personal highlights (and lowlights) of the format war, from down in the trenches of the HD DVD team at Microsoft. To make it a bit clearer, here is a graph of the peaks and troughs of the last three years: April 2005: I join the Profession...
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    Come see HDi at the Sundance Film Festival

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    If you are attending the Sundance Film Festival, please drop by the Microsoft House on Main Street and say Hi to representatives of the HDi team and see some cool demos and movie screenings. I'll be there myself from the 24th to the 26th, and someone...
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    Using the Media Center Remote from Windows

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    To save you the pain that I had recently, of trying to hook up simple support for the MCE remote control in your app, here is the important info that I found incredibly hard to locate via MSDN search: A C# article called "Using Alternate Input Devices...
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    Xbox 360 HD DVD Version List

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    Here I will try and document the various releases of the Xbox 360 HD DVD player, in reverse chronological order. Major releases are in bold (a major release either has new features or has a boat-load of changes, minor releases are pure bug fixes). To...
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