Brian Johnson's Startup Developer Blog

January, 2005


    DirectX 9.0 SDK Update - (December 2004)

    I meant to link to this in December and I forgot about it. The DirectX 9 SDK Update for December 2004 is available for download. You can download it from here:
    DirectX 9.0 SDK Update - (December 2004)
    Download the complete DirectX 9.0 SDK Update - (December 2004). This release contains updates to the Direct3D Extension Library (D3DX), tools, utilities, samples, and Documentation. It also continues to include the DirectX 9.0c Runtime and Redistributable.

    Best Pen for Moleskines

    In answer to Steve's question about the best pen for a Moleskine, I was going to mention these great pigment pens that I used to get in the scrapbooking section of the hobby stores. (The idea being that pigment will last forever, where the dye in inks eventually fade.) Well, I actually found a pen that I like better and the price is really good. It's a Sanford uni-ball ONYX fine point. The ink is very dark and it dries very quickly. It looks like they have many varieties on the web site. I'm just using the cheap ones.

    Portable Media Center Impressions

    I got my Portable Media Center (PMC) last Friday and I wanted to play with it for a few days before I talked about it too much. I bought the Samsung YH-999 because that one seemed to be the smaller of the two availalble right now. So far, I'm really liking this machine. Just a few comments:

    Size: This device is larger than a regular iPod by about half. That is to say, it feels a lot like somebody sliced an iPod down the middle the long way and tacked it to another iPod. Given that the machine has a big wide color screen on the front, this does't feel like a bad thing. It's about 8 ounces and the edges are fairly rounded so it's comforable to hold. There's a little kickstand on the back of the PMC that lets you set it on the table for easy viewing.

    Content: This is where this PMC really shines. I've got a number of things going to fill the machine with content and they all seem to work great:

    First, I've got a Media Center PC and the PMC device syncs any shows that I've recorded in the last week. The other night I watched a Nova episode about the Mars rovers on the PMC. After about 5 minutes, I forgot about the machine and I was completely immersed in the show. I think that's a good sign. In addition to TV shows, I've got a lot of family video that I can add to this machine, and I've also added a couple hundred photos. (You can watch slide shows while you listen to music.)

    Next up, MSN. I mentioned earlier this week that I signed up for the MSN Video Download Service. It was 19 bucks for the year and I've been getting new stuff every day when I plug in. Last night I watched the CNBC interview with Steve Jobs. The material you get seems a little random right now, but the site mentions that you'll be able to customize what you download soon. For under $20, this is a pretty good deal.

    I've been a Napster subscriber for a long time and I was able to add the Napster To Go service for an extra $5.00 a month. This has been absolutely great because it's given me a chance to listen to artists that I wouldn't necessarily buy outright. This week I downloaded a couple of Kid Rock albums, some 50 Cent, Velvet Revolver, and even a little Brittany Spears. If you're into exploring music, this service is completely awesome.

    One of the big reasons I bought this machine was that I wanted to sync podcasts automatically. I followed the instructions that Phillip Torrone gave in this article, and I was up and running. So I've been able to listen to a few podcasts and they're pretty good. Tonight I noticed that the Channel 9 Video feed (rss)included enclosures, so I added that to iPodder. I added a video criteria to the auto playlist that I set up for podcasts and I was set to go. (Though right now, I've only hooked one video from that feed.) So for podcasts, this is super.

    Finally, Tivo anounced a new service called TivoToGo. This should let me copy some content from the Series 2 machine in the living room to the Media Center PC and on to the PMC. I added myself to the priority list for the necessary Tivo software upgrade on Saturday, but that hasn't come through yet. I'll post about it when it kicks in.

    Overall Impression: The YH-999 is a great little machine. It's quite different than anything else out there right now. It's small enought to carry on the belt for music and it's pretty easy to open up for a quick demo. There's a little AV port on the top that lets you jack the device into a TV for playback and I could see possibly using this to do PowerPoints in a pinch. (You would have to convert the slides to photos or video.) If you've got any questions or comments, be sure to post here. I would love to hear the impressions that others have of this device.

    Moleskine and OneNote

    The funny thing about using this Moleskine to take some of my notes... I've become a much better note taker in OneNote. Here's what I think is going on: I don't write a ton of stuff in the Moleskine. I usually write "To Do:" and then I add a date and a list of stuff I need to do for the day. The Moleskine usually stays at my desk and I write things in it when I feel like it. I also check off stuff that I do on my To Do list. So this little notebook is what's replacing my post-it notes and assorted other pieces of paper when I need to write something down quickly.

    OneNote, on the other hand, is my power application for capturing important, work-related information. This week I spent about 11 hours in meetings. I could probably fill a notebook every couple of weeks and what I would have at the end of a quarter is a beautiful stack of expensive little notebooks that I would never be able to find any information in. (And my little Moleskines deserve better than that.) So I'm finding that I'm using my OneNote for the larger meetings and I'm using my Moleskine for very small meetings where a laptop might be a bit of a distraction. If the information from the small meeting is something I need for later, or if I need to send out minutes, I type the notes into OneNote and I send them out directly from there.

    So here's the breakdown as I experience it:
    Moleskine - Small, convenient, personal, creative, beautiful, relaxing, analog, un-plugged OneNote - Powerful, effecient, organized, searchable, archivable, e-mailable, digital
    YMMV :)

    My First Moleskine

    The other day, I was in Borders and I discovered this little notebook. It had a story printed on the wrapper and I found it really intriguing. I didn't buy it, but I did go home thinking about it. I then saw a post in Danny Gregory's blog where he mentioned the very same notebook. I did a little MSN Searching (formerly known as Googling) and I found all these links to blogs about the notebook. I feel like the last person to know about this thing. :)

    OK, so I'm a sucker for great marketing, so I picked one up today. I love it.


    MSDN Magazine: Big C++ News

    Great news. MSDN Magazine is expanding their Visual C++ coverage. MSDN Magazine Executive Editor Joshua Trupin expains it all in his latest Editor's Note in the February Issue of the magazine:
    Editor's Note: C++, Plus...
    ...Since along with Visual Studio 2005 comes an improved flavor of C++, there's no better time than now to introduce what many readers have been asking for: expanded C++ coverage. We're doing this in two ways. First, we're pleased to announce a new column, Pure C++, by noted C++ expert Stanley B. Lippman. (If you were wondering, the B stands for C++.) Stan will discuss the C++ language itself, touching on topics like the CLI and generics and their integration with C++....

    Xbox Media Center Extender Video

    I spent most of my vacation this holiday rebuilding my computer systems and network. I installed Windows Media Center Extender on my living room Xbox and on my Media Center 2005 PC. The results have been absolutely amazing. I'm demoing the finished system to my wife and kids and they're currently watching the old home movies. They could care less about all the technology that I'm so excited about, for them it's all about the content. (As it should be.)

    I decided to put together a little video demo of the system. This is a five meg file shot with my Sony TR3 laptop. (There's a noticeable grinding sound in the video, which is from the hard drive on the laptop. I'll use a mic next time.)

    You can check out the video here.
    If you have any comments let me know. If this works out, I'll start to put together some other videos.

    Microsoft Windows AntiSpyware Beta Available

    Check out the new Microsoft Windows AnitSpyware (Beta) Home page. You'll find all sorts of inofmation about the beta there. Here's a link and some information from the overview page.
    Microsoft Windows AnitSpyware (Beta) Home
    Microsoft Windows AntiSpyware (Beta) is a security technology that helps protect Windows users from spyware and other potentially unwanted software. Known spyware on your PC can be detected and removed. This helps reduce negative effects caused by spyware, including slow PC performance, annoying pop-up ads, unwanted changes to Internet settings, and unauthorized use of your private information. Continuous protection improves Internet browsing safety by guarding more than 50 ways spyware can enter your PC. The worldwide SpyNet™ community plays a key role in determining which suspicious programs are classified as spyware. Microsoft researchers quickly develop methods to counteract these threats, and updates are automatically downloaded to your PC so you stay up to date.

    Scriptomatic 2.0 Available

    Scriptomatic is a very cool and useful utility that lets you generate all sorts of useful WMI scripts. This version lets you gen your scripts in VB, JScript, Python, and Perl. Give it a go here:
    Scriptomatic 2.0
    A completely new version of the famous Scriptomatic, the utility that writes WMI scripts for you. (And, in the process, teaches you the fundamental concepts behind writing WMI scripts for yourself.) Unlike its predecessor, Scriptomatic 2.0 isn’t limited to writing just VBScript scripts; instead, Scriptomatic 2.0 can write scripts in Perl, Python, or JScript as well. In addition, Scriptomatic 2.0 gives you a host of new output formats to use when running scripts, including saving data as plain-text, as a stand-alone Web page, or even as XML. Scriptomatic 2.0 handles arrays, it converts dates to a more readable format, and it works with all the WMI classes on your computer; on top of all that, it also writes scripts that can be run against multiple machines.
    This is a self-extracting exe. Change the path to somewhere you can find the contents (like c:\scriptomatic) when you run it. Be sure to check out the read_me.doc file. It's very entertaining. :)

    Chat: Visual C++ Editor and IDE Features


    (Took this off the C++ feed.)

    Sorry for the late notice. There's a Visual C++ chat tomorrow (January 12, 2005) at 1:00 PST.

    Visual C++ Editor and IDE Features
    Chat with the Visual C++ Editor & IDE team to talk about new Whidbey features such as Code Definition Window, Call Browser, Emacs & Brief Emulations and XML Comments.
    Add it to Outlook here.
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