'XP Sucks.'

That's how it ended -- at least for me.

And that's what I was disappointed about yesterday. Thomas made some good points in his post and then proceeded to render them moot with this final, childish hubris. I didn't make that clear in my previous post -- I shouldn't have used the word 'disappointed' twice. While I was sad to see Thomas move to Mac, I've long since gotten over that (and he and others would be interested to know how I dealt with my feelings, but that's a story for another day). My post wasn't about Mac vs. Windows -- that's been done to death (note to folks: the horse is dead).

Why was I disappointed?

Because Thomas is a great guy, and a great spokesman for Zooomr -- and I hate to see his passion get the better of him. In order for Zooomr to be successful on a large scale it has to appeal to the broad market, which includes Windows users. Having the CEO of your company say 'your choice of operating system was stupid' stands a good chance of alienating customers with those operating systems.

Take the high road Thomas -- don't become a fanboy for anyone -- even if for the briefest moment.

Categories: Be Smart | Comments [9] | # | Posted on Wednesday, February 28, 2007 6:41:52 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)   

I've remained silent about Thomas moving most of his computing to the Mac simply because I was so very disappointed to lose him as a resource to make Windows Media Center a better experience. I was pretty amazed to see him so quickly jump on the 'Get a Mac' bandwagon with Chris' latest post given (1) a majority of his problems with Windows at the time he 'switched' seemed to stem from his chosen OEM and (2) as far as I know he doesn't have a ton of experience with Windows Vista to objectively compare it to MacOS. In his defense, he might have a ton of experience with Windows Vista but hasn't posted about it (yet).

For the record, Thomas commands my respect with regards to his computing experiences.

But today, he lost some of his shine with me -- I was very disappointed by the way he ended this post today.

Categories: Apple | Windows Vista | Mac | Comments [4] | # | Posted on Wednesday, February 28, 2007 5:09:11 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)   

Agitprop or not, we should help Chris figure out numbers 2, 4, 5, 7 (at least the WebDav issue), 9 and 10 (if he can get specifics). (Ed and Chris are about the most immiscible characters I've ever met -- but I find each equally refreshing.) I'll be glad to drop by and help you figure these things out, Chris. Can't promise I know the answer on every one, but have a good knack for troubleshooting and finding the answers. Question for you, Chris: Did you run the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor before moving the machine from Windows XP to Windows Vista? <-- That's not a dig, just an honest question.

Categories: Windows Vista | Comments [2] | # | Posted on Wednesday, February 28, 2007 4:22:46 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)   

[This is probably the first of a series of posts...]

I've been falling in love with Windows all over again recently with Windows Vista.

While creating the Diamond SDK we had to edit the file redistribution list heavily because we added a ton of new resources. See C:\Program Files\Microsoft SDKs\Windows Media Center\v5.0\License\redist.txt for this -- it tells you what files we give you permission as a developer to redistribute in some form or fashion with your apps.

To generate this list, I installed a release candidate of the SDK and pulled out one of my rarely used, but favorite tools to enumerate the files and folders exactly as they appear in the file system post-install: FileGrab. When you drop files from Explorer onto the FileGrab window, you get a list of filenames, instead of the files' contents. You can save the list to disk, print it, or copy it to the Clipboard for pasting into another application. View options let you choose which file characteristics (such as date, size, or attributes) to include with the filenames.

FileGrab was created by Michael Mefford at PC Magazine...

...for Windows 95.

I have run it on every version Microsoft has shipped since -- including Windows Vista.

This is one of the hallmark features for which I consistently rank Windows above all other operating systems I've used over the years with each subsequent release (which would include MacOS, Linux, Solaris and BeOS among others): Its ability to run the software I like to use even if it was written light years ago in computing time.

FileGrab has worked great for me the last 10 years. As with any software though, eventually, at some point, it can be improved. While FileGrab has always met the need, each time I leveraged there were always a few improvements I would have made for my personal use. For example...

  1. It has more features than I personally need -- extended file attributes, the ability to print the enumerated list as a couple of examples.
  2. A feature missing which I always yearned for -- the ability to enumerate files or folders or both during a drag and drop operation and denote folders with a trailing slash ('\').
  3. A mildly annoying feature I would call a 'bug' today that, at the time it was created, could certainly have been a limitation of the underlying platform -- a fixed length (number of characters) for the file name which resulted in unecessary white space in the text.

So, while on a recent vacation I finalized a new tool inspired by FileGrab called FileAndPath to address these issues. When you drop files from Windows Explorer onto the FileAndPath window, you get the following at the time of the operation...

  1. A list of file names or folder names or both.
  2. Full path or file / folder name only.
  3. An optional trailing slash ('\') added to folder names.

The options for the generated list are limited to saving to disk or copying to the clipboard.

So, take your pick -- both tools (though written ten years apart) run just fine on Windows Vista.

FileGrab: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,550871,00.asp

FileAndPath: http://blog.retrosight.com/content/binary/FileAndPath.zip

Categories: Tools | Windows Vista | Comments [5] | # | Posted on Friday, February 16, 2007 7:39:54 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)   

Seeing Omar post how he converts his digital video camera files reminded me of a tool I developed which ships with the Windows Media 9 Series Encoder Software Development Kit and used with the Windows Media 9 Series Encoder. Folks less accustomed to command line approaches and more familiar with GUI tools should like this resource. As I recall, the Windows Media Encoder Script will cover more of the options available in the Encoder compared to this graphical tool -- but for most consumers (and even some professional shops) the GUI approach will be more than enough. Here is a quick feature list...

  • Input formats. Accepted formats for input files are .avi, .wav, .mp3, .mpg, .wma, and .wmv. Input files can include extended content (such as script), but this content is not included in the output.
  • Output formats. Accepted formats for output files are .wma and .wmv.
  • Profiles. This sample supports saved .prx files. Windows Media Encoder includes several of these, but you can also create your own using Windows Media Profile Editor.
  • Video preprocessing. Video preprocessing modes such as deinterlacing, inverse telecine, and process interlacing are supported.
  • DRM profiles. Content can be protected using a DRM profile that you have created or imported using Windows Media Encoder.
  • Cropping. You can specify the number of pixels to crop from video.
  • Two-pass encoding. If the selected profile allows it, two-pass encoding can be used to improve the quality of the encoded content.
  • Display properties. Title, description, author, rating, and copyright information can be specified per file or per group.
  • Postview. The encoding progress is displayed in a postview window. This postview can be disabled to allow the encoding process to use more resources. The postview does not appear in certain situations, such as when encoding only audio or during the first pass of two-pass encoding.
  • Progress and status. This sample provides feedback for the current source file, such as the percentage completed and the encoding status.
  • Saved encoding sessions. Encoding sessions can be saved and reused, including all settings, the input source list, and the output file list with their settings.
  • Default settings. Current settings can be saved for use each time this sample application is started. A Default.xml file is created in the folder where the sample executable file is located.
  • Error logging. Error logging can be helpful for identifying issues with files that did not get encoded during the batch encoding process, or to troubleshoot problems in the source code if you want to modify this sample or use it as the basis for your own solution. An ErrorLog.xml file is created in the folder where the sample executable file is located.
  • XML. All saved sessions, default settings, and error logs are in XML format and can be viewed with the XML editor or parser of your choice.

I just installed on Windows Vista and tested it out -- everything seems to be working just fine (another post on that coming soon). With a default installation path for the SDK, look for the compiled tool and readme in C:\WMSDK\WMEncSDK9\samples\vb\batcher\. Full source code for Visual Basic .NET (2002) is included in the same folder if you want to add features. Note I haven't investigated what the upgrade path for this source code looks like for Visual Basic 2005 -- your mileage may vary. And for those of you who read this blog for the Windows Media Center goodness -- yes, this could be adapted to transcode DVR-MS files ***IF*** the Windows Media Encoder supported DVR-MS -- which it doesn't. Not to despair, though. Stephen Toub has a tool I use regularly to make those conversions -- grab it from Fun with DVR-MS.

Categories: Windows Media | Windows Media Encoder | Comments [3] | # | Posted on Friday, February 16, 2007 5:06:10 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)   
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