I posted an update to http://blog.retrosight.com/GeekDinnerWithEdBottOnTuesdaySeptember252007.aspx.

We are going to eat at Zeeks Pizza in downtown Kirkland. Excellent pizza but if it's not your thing there are many other choices within walking distance where you could pick up a 'to go' order and join us at Zeeks -- see here for a list. Zeeks stays open unitl 10 PM and there are several coffee shops / pubs close by where we can move the conversation if folks are still around.

Ed and I hope you can join us.



Categories: Geek Dinner | Comments [0] | # | Posted on Monday, September 24, 2007 5:47:35 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

The day after the geek dinner Scott Hanselman and I sat down to chat about developing for Windows Media Center for Hanselminutes 82. The result is a pretty nice introduction to what you need for development, the tools included in the SDK, some of the samples which are included in the SDK and some basic beginner concepts. I posted is a detailed list of links which corresponds to the various topics we covered during the podcast over on Sandbox at http://blog.mediacentersandbox.com/Hanselminutes82DevelopmentForMediaCenter.aspx.



Categories: Podcast | Software Development Kit | Windows Media Center | Comments [1] | # | Posted on Saturday, September 22, 2007 4:28:19 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

We had a blast with Scott Hanselman last week -- and next week we are very fortunate to have the author of Windows Vista Inside OutEd Bott in town. Ed has graciously agreed to join us for another geek dinner.

When: Tuesday, September 25, 2007 starting at 7:00 PM.

Where: Zeeks Pizza, Kirkland

Update: We are going to eat at Zeeks Pizza in downtown Kirkland. Excellent pizza but if it's not your thing there are many other choices within walking distance where you could pick up a 'to go' order and join us at Zeeks -- see here for a list. Zeeks stays open unitl 10 PM and there are several coffee shops / pubs close by where we can move the conversation if folks are still around.



Categories: Geek Dinner | Comments [6] | # | Posted on Thursday, September 20, 2007 8:22:42 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

At the geek dinner the other night and in a subsequent conversation with Scott Hanselman it was noted that many people probably have Windows Media Center but don't realize they do. If you have Windows Home Premium or Windows Ultimate then Windows Media Center is ready and waiting for you to give it a try. If you didn't get a tuner with yours, Adam Pash has a post over on LifeHacker titled Turn Your Windows PC into a Media Center Powerhouse On the Cheap which has some details on how to remedy -- and the comments are filled with good information as well.



Categories: TV | Windows Media Center | Windows Vista | Comments [3] | # | Posted on Sunday, September 16, 2007 4:00:58 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

Thomas Hawk did a really nice thing for his friend Robert Scoble by taking a of 'first day' pictures of Roberts newborn son. Thomas, we should think about how we form some sort of volunteer community that does this free of charge for families just because we love to take pictures. I personally know I would have loved to have someone come take snapshots when our kids were born while we celebrated the birth with friends and family.

[Idea forming...]

Aw, heck, I've been meaning to play around with Facebook more. So, I just created a group called Photography Volunteers at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=5630108367 with the following description:

Photography Volunteers is a group of photography enthusiasts who like to volunteer their time to take special occasion photos. It's focus is on taking pictures for the sheer love of photography, and helping others celebrate rather than a business model. If you want to make money at this sort of thing this probably isn't your group. If you are a hobbyist photographer who would like to hone your skills while doing something nice for someone by helping them create memories of their special day, well, this might be the place for you.

A first thought: I'm willing to bet there are many families who really can't afford to create these types of memories but would be very appreciative of a volunteer who would do so.

Anywho, if it sounds like a fit for you, join up. Let's see what happens.



Categories: Photography | Comments [1] | # | Posted on Saturday, September 15, 2007 6:29:23 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

I'm pleased to announce the addition of Steven Harding to our Community Dev Expert team joining Niall and Andrew.

Steven is the author of Yougle, MoreWithMyMusic and EMUCenter for Windows Media Center in Windows Vista and several other experiences built for prior versions of Windows Media Center. He also has created a poker game timer which tells you the current blinds, the current ante and how long until they next go up -- all with text-to-speech announcements of blind increases and warnings when they are getting near.

In addition, he is a contributor to the The Digital Lifestyle Developer Blog (part of the excellent group of resources made available by Ian Dixon over at http://thedigitallifestyle.com/cs/).

Steven has contributed over 400 posts to our developer forums over at http://discuss.mediacentersandbox.com making him one of the most prolific and helpful individuals in the community. His passion for Windows Media Center and the platform shine through in his postings and advocacy on behalf of other developers.

You can identify Steven in the forums by his rather esoteric alias of IgnoranceIsBliss in the forums (perhaps he'll comment here on how he decided on that moniker) as well as a new banner in his postings that looks like this:

Congratulations, Steven -- certainly well deserved.



Categories: Discussion | Comments [0] | # | Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 7:32:20 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

I downloaded and tried to install LinuxMCE build 0704 tonight (main wiki page here and video here). This was another attempt to install one of the Linux based media center / personal video recorder solutions -- this one in particular was interesting because of all the claims about how much better it was than Windows Media Center. The install of Kubntu was was seamless enough using the Quick Install DVD but it was all downhill afterwards. I couldn't get it to load with alpha blending or masking settings -- it kept failing due to the fact it couldn't start the Orbiter. Finally got the setup screens to launch by selecting the basic UI. That's where I got stuck -- I couldn't even get past the initial setup screens after trying to do so after an hour. Perhaps LinuxMCE is great if you can get over all of the hurdles. The video seems to have been created in the Seattle area -- anyone want to show up to our geek dinner tomorrow with this running to show it off...?

Which reminds me to remind you not to forget joining me in welcoming Scott Hanselman to Microsoft. Details here on this post about when and where: http://blog.retrosight.com/GeekDinnerOnSeptember12AtCrossroads.aspx.



Categories: Linux | Comments [10] | # | Posted on Wednesday, September 12, 2007 7:35:44 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

This sample demonstrates how to use the PlaySound Element with the Timer Class to create a playback loop which does not use the PlayMedia Method and therefore is not reflected in the Windows Media Center user experience.

<Mcml xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/2006/mcml">

 <UI Name="Default">

  <Locals>
   <Timer Name="MyTimer" Interval="10000" Enabled="true" AutoRepeat="true"/>
  </Locals>

  <Rules>
   <Rule>
    <Conditions>
     <Modified Source="[MyTimer.Tick]" InitialEvaluate="true"/>
    </Conditions>
    <Actions>
     <!-- MyContent.wav is of a known length which     -->
     <!--is slightly shorter than the interval defined -->
     <!--in the timer.                                 -->
     <PlaySound Sound="
file://MyContent.wav"/>
    </Actions>
   </Rule>
  </Rules>

  <Content>
   <Text Content="PlaySound + Timer" Color="White"/>
  </Content>

 </UI>

</Mcml>



Categories: Sample | Comments [0] | # | Posted on Wednesday, September 12, 2007 12:46:07 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

I have to admit I'm a pretty big fan of Disney's 'High School Musical' and 'High School Musical 2' made for TV movies and soundtracks. Here is why...

  • It's good, squeaky clean fun I can safely watch with my children harkening back to the golden years of family friendly fare from Disney like Mary Poppins and The Absent Minded Professor. No sexual innuendo, no evil, no violence, no foul language -- and bathing suit / clothing more modest than what you would find in Beach Blanket Bingo.
  • Catchy tunes with clean lyrics and something for everyone. Pop, hip hop, ballads and latin influences abound -- with nods to contemporary artists (Fergie, Nelly Furtado) and old school musical fare (Rodgers & Hammerstein) alike. The music is pure sugary sweetness, but with a nice groove -- danceable and singable through and through. There is nothing better than music the whole family can belt out during a car ride.
  • The group choreography is awesome -- you can tell the cast (which includes one of the primary choreographers) really had fun making the movie. Interestingly enough, Kenny Ortega also choreographed Dirty Dancing -- what a contrast! Even more fun is watching mom and dad trying to keep up with the kids whilst trying to duplicate.
  • Zero teen angst. Basically, it's how we really hope our children will turn out when they grow to this age.
  • Story lines which get tied up in nice packages with bows on top. I'm a sucker for movies which end on a positive note and where everything turns out just great for everyone -- these don't disappoint in that department.
  • It's reinvigorating the high school musical (no pun intended). I performed in 'You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown' and 'The Sound of Music' in high school productions. What I wouldn't have given to have a very contemporary piece instead. Mind you, those shows are classic -- but exactly that -- classic. Unless you are a theater geek already they won't really draw you in. Luckily, many local theater groups are doing High School Musical -- I'll be attending one put together by Seattle Children's Theater with my childre. I would say these are almost certainly this generations 'Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat' or 'Grease'.

If you are a parent of kids this is a must have!



Categories: Movie | Comments [3] | # | Posted on Wednesday, September 5, 2007 5:49:31 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

I'll be happy to organize and host Scott. :-)

It's been a while since we've had one of these -- the last time I brought some Windows Media Center giveaways (tuners, remote controls, etc.) so I'll do it again. One of the recipients of a tuner later joined Microsoft (Tyler Welch). You never know what I might have in my bag of goodies.

Where: Crossroads Mall (http://www.crossroadsbellevue.com/) located at 15600 NE 8th Street, Bellevue, WA 98008. Specifically, the location is in the Public Market Eatieries at the tables and chairs between Papazzi Pizzeria, 39 Kaiten Sushi and O'Char Thai -- find a floor map here.

When: September 12, 2007 from 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Pass the word along...!



Categories: Geek Dinner | Comments [5] | # | Posted on Wednesday, September 5, 2007 4:27:53 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

I don't know about you, but Chris is just getting more annoying over the last few weeks. Seems like he's got a bee in his bonnet (or in his shorts). He seems bent on YELLING SO MUCH WE CAN'T HELP BUT PAY ATTENTION TO HIM. Microsoft PR must not be paying him enough attention these days, or he has figured out that stirring the Mac vs. PC pot (no matter how very tiring and, frankly old and irrelevant the argument has become) does wonders for ad revenue.

Meanwhile, Ken still hasn't gotten any help -- I posted a comment to Chris' blog asking him to put Ken in touch with me, but nada from Chris so far. I kind of find it sad that Chris is leaving him out in the cold.

Update: Chris has forwarded the offer of help to Ken but hasn't heard back. Thanks, Chris. :-)



Categories: Be Smart | Community | Comments [17] | # | Posted on Sunday, September 2, 2007 6:27:32 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   
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