Andy Pennell's Blog

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

  • Andy Pennell's Blog

    If you want the Truth about Blu-Ray vs HD DVD

    • 5 Comments
    Please read the Joe Kane article in Issue 3 of the Widescreen Review Newsletter (sign up here ). Joe is the industry expert on video playback, and he has some very telling comments to make about what is broken about Blu-Ray: why its picture quality is...
  • Andy Pennell's Blog

    Detecting over-Releasing on COM objects

    • 2 Comments
    I am in Refcount Hell right now, trying to fix a new chunk of our codebase for COM refcounting issues. Debugging missing AddRefs consumes most of my time, and I might write about that one day, but yesterday I managed to over-Release an object and of course...
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    Why Do We Always Change Notepad?

    • 12 Comments
    Notepad is a given. Its on every Windows machine, going back to Win16. When you need to edit something in a hurry, on any machine, then it is the obvious tool of choice. And yet with every Windows release, someone decides to change it. Not in a big way...
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    An Inconvenient Truth: You Must See This Movie

    • 1 Comments
    I have literally just returned from watching this, and am compelled to ask everyone I can to go and see this extraordinary movie . If you care about this planet, or you have children who you would like to have a chance of a decent future, you must see...
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    Wanted: Power Strip with Switches

    • 59 Comments
    It shouldn't be this hard, but all I want is a power strip with switches on each outlet. In my garage I have no less than six different chargers, and I don't want or need them to be on all the time. If I still lived in the UK, I could find such a device...
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    Firmware Upgrade Available for Toshiba HD DVD Player

    • 5 Comments
    Last night, on a whim, I asked my Toshiba HD-A1 HD DVD Player to see if there was a firmware update available, and there was, and it proceeded to download it from the web. I took a dinner [that's a unit of time] to do it. Due to the new baby I regret...
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    Gas IS Cheap: It's Official

    • 9 Comments
    As a Brit living in the USA I've always been amused by Americans complaining about gas (aka petrol) prices: they complained when it hit $2/gal and are complaining again now its $3/gal. The US govt. has a great table that shows the US price compared...
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    PS3 Video Specs - Much Less Than Originally Claimed

    • 3 Comments
    Sony's press release for the PS3 makes interesting reading, especially for the cheaper one (if $499 can be described as cheap ). It lacks digital video out, so I'm not sure how they can do 1080p at all (how many TVs can take 1080p over component video...
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    Authoring iHD apps for HD DVD

    • 2 Comments
    My team has just created a new forum for programmers and content creators who wish to make great HD DVD apps using iHD. Look for some interesting downloads there soon.
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    Being an Audio/Visual Early Adoptor is getting cheaper

    • 2 Comments
    Since the late 90s I have been something of an early adoptor for AV gear. With the imminent [I hope] arrival of my HD DVD player, along with the discovery of an old receipt I started calculating exactly how much early adoption has cost me, and how quickly...
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    HD DVD is available in the USA!

    • 5 Comments
    Yesterday the first HD DVD players from Toshiba became available (from Best Buy mostly by the looks of it). There is a gigantic thread on AVS forum about this exciting new piece of technology. The launch movies were embargoed until today, though some...
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    Crazy Digital Dates

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    A certain VP pointed out that early this morning it was 01:02:03 04/05/06 (US date format), which reminded me of my youth: I can clearly remember standing in the school playground at lunchtime, all looking a our cool digital watches as it became 12:34...
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    Correction to DLGITEMTEMPLATEEX Structure

    • 3 Comments
    This wasted several hours for me this morning. The MSDN docs for DLGITEMTEMPLATEEX are wrong: there is an extra WORD member after the id member, call it reserved . Note that this struct is not in any windows header: you are expected to cut & paste...
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    File and Settings Transfer Wizard: friend or foe?

    • 51 Comments
    The "File and Settings Transfer Wizard" is either a life saving piece of software, or a pile of junk. Allow me to explain. My father inherited one of my old machines and needed to get his files & settings from his old XP Home machine to his new-ish...
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    Autoexp.dat not working in Visual Studio 2005?

    • 11 Comments
    As this was reported twice in the space of a week internally, I figured that external users may be hitting this too. The internal emails were along the lines of "I added my custom types to autoexp.dat and they don't work". In both cases this was because...
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    Displaying DirectX Errors in the Debugger

    • 0 Comments
    Debugging DirectX calls that fail is a pain as the debugger cannot show the "nice" HRESULT codes as it does for COM errors (such as E_NOTIMPL). However you can tell the debugger about the custom error codes and add them to the [hresult] section of autoexp...
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    Property Grids Suck

    • 0 Comments
    I couldn't put it better myself than Avery does in his VirtualBlog - Property Grids Suck . Not only do they suck, but the use of the word Properties in what feels like half the common menu items in VS 2005 gets to me even more. There's even a great feature...
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    Find new music with Pandora

    • 3 Comments
    I am very bad about finding new music: I'll buy new albums from artists I know I love, but that's about it. However that has all changed now I have discovered Pandora . Pandora is based on the Music Genome Project, which is basically a huge music database...
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    Making DVDs Kid-Proof

    • 3 Comments
    Our newer childrens' DVDs are not lasting long these days, so I was very pleased to discover D-Skins - a very thin plastic cover that you put over your DVDs (or CDs I guess) then forget about it. The skins stay put when you play the discs, making it much...
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    HD-DVD News from CES

    • 9 Comments
    I watched the Bill Gates keynote at CES tonight (via the web, I'm not in Vegas or anything) and it included a demo and hot news about HD-DVD, the next generation hi-def DVD format. The hot news was that HD-DVD drives will be available as an add-on...
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    A Better Way to Search MSDN

    • 12 Comments
    I have previously ranted about the Search capabilities of MSDN, so I decided to try and do something about it. I have created a Smart Search for MSDN page, which modifies a search engine query to greatly improve the hit rate. Well, at least it works for...
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    What does "pdb is obsolete" really mean?

    • 18 Comments
    If your Visual Studio debugger says this to you, it either means Your PDB really is obsolete Your debugger is obsolete 1. It gets expensive in terms of testing and (sometimes) development to read every single old PDB format, so with each release...
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    Microsoft Product Names: How They Are Chosen I Wonder?

    • 4 Comments
    There is a great interview on PVRBlog with the creator of the TiVo name and mascot. It describes the process by which the names were whittled down and decided on. Although I have no clue how this process actually works at Microsoft, here is how I think...
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    Class Action Lawsuits: What a Waste of Time!

    • 10 Comments
    I just got an email announcing a settlement for a Netflix class action lawsuit. If I sign up, I get one extra DVD in my rental queue, for one month. Woop de woo. I'm dancing in my chair. If I read the settlement right, I see the defendent gets $2000...
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    Need Two Camera Baby Monitor

    • 18 Comments
    I am pleased to announce that early next year there will be a new member of the Pennell family. This is of course a time of joy, not least of which because I get to buy some more gear. Specifically I need a baby monitor that supports two cameras. As far...
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