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DesktopWeb FormText   speech reco on the XBox 360Thu, 21 Dec 2006 13:56:12 GMT # 

looks like Rainbox Six Vegas is the first Xbox 360 game to get speech recognition built-in using Fonix's VoiceIn technology. er, um ... but why isn't MS just making SAPI available to game developers? and with all the headsets that are out there, adding speech reco to gaming makes perfect sense; with the added benefit of simplifying controls. e.g. there are only so many buttons you can put on a gamepad, but you can provide many more speech commands which could have complex grammars to perform complex in-game actions. anyway, i hope SAPI is ultimately exposed through XNA


DesktopWeb FormText   voice biometric for windows mobileTue, 19 Dec 2006 02:12:31 GMT # 

... 2 of my favorite things. haven't tried it, but i like the idea : VoiceSecureIt 2.0


DesktopWeb FormText   XNA thoughtsMon, 18 Dec 2006 04:09:07 GMT # 

haven't got to play with XNA yet ... but these are some of the questions/thoughts i jotted down :

-i'm assuming it works with the new wheel accessory. XInput has rumble, but what about force feedback?
-can we get audio from the headset? no. this stops us from doing custom speech recognition. hope that we get audio access, and ultimately SAPI.
-can we get a video feed from the camera? no. this keeps us from writing gesture reco / augmented reality games. hope that we get video access and then access to the gesture reco libraries.
-how much file access do we get?
-what happens when we attempt network access? they've said multiple times that we will get network access.
-do we get storage card access?
-can we read from DVD or HD-DVD?
-hoping that they are still thinking about allowing media access.
-can XNA hook button presses from the remote control?
-how does debugging to PC work? breakpoints, console.writeline, ...
-can we get metadata about a user's setup, including TV resolution?
-can we hook a USB keyboard?
-can we get text from the popup keyboard?
-find out differences between developing between PC and 360.
-how do we work with multi-proc? just spin up a thread? can we choose what proc it goes on?
-do we get access to read gamertag info?
-how long until somebody applies a bluetooth hack to get a wiimote working with XNA on a PC ...


DesktopWeb FormText   /micBarExtend tap-and-talkMon, 18 Dec 2006 03:30:10 GMT # 

updated /micBarExtend to support tap-and-talk. this works better for me when i want to use speech recognition with a desktop microphone while still being able to play music over external speakers. first, you press a trigger button to mute the external speaker volume and begins to listen for speech. next, you speak the command you want recognized. finally, you press the trigger button again to stop listening and unmute the external speakers.


DesktopWeb FormText   playing with OTA HDTVSat, 16 Dec 2006 16:21:17 GMT # 

purchased a couple OTA HDTV USB sticks to try with Vista. the Artec T14A was cheap, but it repeatedly blue screens Vista with a driver error. supposedly an updated driver is in the works. also picked up the Pinnacle PCTV HD Pro Stick ... and it seems to work fine with Vista MCE. NOTE it looks like Pinnacle plans to provide updated drivers sometime in 2/07.

the next step was to try and get a signal ... which sucks, because i live in a small valley about 25 miles from the nearest antenna. to find out where the antennas are, i used antennaweb.org. my area should be able to pick up about 19 channels, with 3 actually broadcasting in digital. this service gives you an idea of what type of antenna you should purchase to receive the channels, as well as what direction to point the antenna. out of the gate, it tells me i need the most powerful outdoor antennas which come in lengths of about 14 feet. wasn't ready to commit to that, so i picked up a couple indoor antennas.

started out just trying the single dipole antenna that came with the Pinnacle USB stick. surprisingly, it picked up a couple channels, but none in HD. next, i tried an RCA 45db amplified antenna. it only picked up a couple channels too, with one being HD. finally, i tried a Terk Amplified antenna which is supposed to reach up to 45 miles. it picked up 7 channels, with 2 of them being digital. so now i'm going to spy on my neighbors houses to see if any of them have installed a gigantic outdoor antenna ...


DesktopWeb FormText   XNA on Vista to 360Tue, 12 Dec 2006 14:15:32 GMT # 

got some help from the XNA forums yesterday. ends up that Game Studio Express (GSE if you're cool) will install on Vista, it's just not 'officially' supported. some things to try are installing the beta service packs for both VS 2005 and C# Express. my problem ended up being a deployment issue, and it took a handul of tries to get a generated guid to match between the 360 and the PC so they could sync. so that part could stand to be made a more idiot proof ... with me playing the part of idiot (never had this much problem with a guid before). got to run a couple demos ... and it's pretty awesome. the creator's club is definitely for developers though, and not for end user consumption. i'll probably kick the sandbox around to see what we do/don't get access to ... but it'll be a while before i try to actually throw something meaningful together. can't wait to see what this turns into ...


DesktopWeb FormText   vista supportMon, 11 Dec 2006 16:36:34 GMT # 

got Vista installed on a couple machines now. they are usable, although each install has a couple driver issues. these are 3rd party products, so i can cut them some slack because that's not their core business. but i've got zero tolerance for MS releasing bits without Vista support. so far it's been : Zune, a newer Speech Server Beta, and now the XNA Game Studio. talk about letting down the early adopters. MS needs to do a better job of leading by example. (cough) dogfood. i can't believe they haven't already made some ultimatum that everything released from here on should have Vista support from the beginning. because that is their core business.


DesktopWeb FormText   SXRD / 360Fri, 08 Dec 2006 03:25:41 GMT # 

been trying to buy an HDTV to primarily use for XBox 360 / XNA dev (next week!) and Media Center development. found the TV i want, and surprisingly ... its a Sony. i've got zero brand loyalty to them ... but my eyes chose their TV. and i've already chosen the 360 because of its media center extender capabilities, its own media capabilities, quick arcade games, and soon for custom development. so i thought i was done ... but it's not that simple. 1) Sony fucked up because their 1080p TV only accepts 1080p through HDMI inputs. not over component or VGA. you've got to be kidding me. 2) Microsoft is fucking up because they don't offer an HDMI cable.

so now i'm back to a holding pattern. either i find a different TV that catches my eye (not promising), or MS announces an HDMI cable ... i really can't comprehend why MS is not pushing out an HDMI cable? there is definitely a demand. especially in light of the recent 1080p fix problems. if they don't want to do it, why not let a 3rd party? i've seen posts that have said the hardware can handle it ... but i'm becoming skeptical.


DesktopWeb FormText   WPF/E on XBox 360?Tue, 05 Dec 2006 03:36:56 GMT # 

i'm really excited that the WPF/E CTP is out. but now i'm hoping that WPF/E makes its way to the XBox 360 ... for custom media center extender apps. the problem is that the 360 does not have a native WPF renderer, so WPF apps running on Media Center are rendered over remote desktop to the 360. that sucks, so what we need is a native WPF/E renderer on the 360.


DesktopWeb FormText   xbox 360 video marketplaceMon, 04 Dec 2006 06:22:32 GMT # 

messed around with the video marketplace. thought the prices were ok ... but should be cheaper. especially for my 11 minute adult swim videos ... those should be more like $1. do like that TV show purchases don't expire, can roam to other consoles, and will still play on the original console. now how about letting me extend those video purchases to a Media Center or transfer them over to a Zune? for movies, the price is too high for the rigid media usage rights. movies expire after 2 weeks or within 24 hrs of starting to play. nor do they roam to other consoles. if it's going to be like that, then lower the price. and if somebody wants to re-watch a move they've already paid for, then it should be cheaper subsequent times. did like how you can start watching a movie (and TV shows) while its being downloaded. for music videos ... there were 4 of them. you've got to be kidding ... get more content. the selection of movie trailers was much better, but still far from complete. overall, i think its a great start. now i'm just waiting for MCE to get a similar marketplace ... and how the extender experience will be integrated. they said 'live anywhere' ... so lets see it

also picked up the Burker King mini games. i was really skeptical, but for $4 they are pretty good. 200 achievement points each, two have live play, graphics are decent, and they are better quality than some of the other arcade titles which are more expensive. it was just annoying that i had to actually go to a BK to get them, and that i have to swap out a disk to play them. i'm all about downloading content and just having it live on the harddrive.


DesktopWeb FormText   new article : /micBarExtendMon, 04 Dec 2006 05:42:57 GMT # 

/micBarExtend is a little app that extends the speech recognition capabilities of Vista. it lets you hide the mouse cursor, move the mouse, control system volume, and record short voice notes. these are just some of the commands that i was missing ... let me know if there are other voice commands you want me to add. the source code is provided, which shows how to use the System.Speech.Recognition namespace.


DesktopWeb FormText   spam delugeSun, 03 Dec 2006 17:20:12 GMT # 

been seeing a steady increase in spam for the last month or so ... but it started going nuts this weekend (holidays). but how bad does it have to get before we change the way email works?


DesktopWeb FormText   plans within plansSat, 02 Dec 2006 00:07:49 GMT # 

i feel the need to say something ... without actually saying anything. a goal i was actively pursuing pretty much just went away. ouch


DesktopWeb FormText   sample bot using WFWed, 29 Nov 2006 05:38:03 GMT # 

just wrapping up the IM bot kick i was on. went ahead and created a (simple) sample bot that uses the same Workflow framework i created for the /mobileRecord bot. you can download it from the Source section of the /mobileRecord article. this framework was key to creating complex challenge-response dialogs. /mobileRecord was menu based because, well ... chat bots are stupid. i'm quite certain most people have better things to do than chat with bad attempts at AI. especially if you're on a mobile device. so the goal was to make /mobileRecord useful and require minimal input for people on the go. IM makes great sense for mobile devices with small screens and weak connections, because transferring plain text is quick. forget having to refresh a mobile web page. the framework supports this style with the key activity being QuestionAnswer in which the bot asks the user a question and waits for an answer, followed by an IfElse activity to branch to the next question or to execute some user command. the article has some more details on what the custom workflow activities do (plus the sample code). with the framework, you can basically crank out bots like mad. to make a new bot, all you have to do is create a new Workflow, start adding the custom IM activities to it, and then instantiate that workflow from the host Form. i'd actually like to see MS adapt a similar model for the unified communication initiative. because a dialog between a user and a bot over IM has many of the same concepts of dialog between a user and an IVR system over telephone. which is actually where i stole the model from the 1st place ... the Speech Server 2007 beta. in theory, a user could create one dialog based workflow, and then host it so it could be accessed over a telephone line with voice or by a thumbboard device with Mobile MSN. this would allow the same bot to support the user in diff scenarios. if the user is in a public place and needed to be private ... IM. if the user is in their car and needs their hands for driving ... voice.


DesktopWeb FormText   robot inader resultsTue, 28 Nov 2006 03:18:52 GMT # 

/mobileRecord got 4th. you can't actually get to the bot, because i'm still having problem with the bot provider i used. so i'm going to shut the bots down. plus i actually need to repurpose the hardware for some other projects. both my bots have speech interfaces, so i'll probably bring them back when we get closer to a speech server 2007 release. anyway, my suggestion to MS is to drop the whole 'bot provider' concept and just allow developers to write that layer themselves. the bot providers don't add enough value to be introduced as a possible point of failure.


DesktopWeb FormText   racismSun, 26 Nov 2006 18:23:27 GMT # 

i love kramer ... as a TV character. the actor that portrays him ... i couldn't care less. actually, that's how i feel about all celebrities ... i just don't care. but modern media keeps forcing this nonsense on me. so here's my take (because i haven't pissed anybody off in a while). the part i saw was that he got heckled and made racist remarks. that's a stupid career move in his part, but does he even have a career anymore? then he makes a public apology. next i see that the black community is speaking out against him. er, um ... why? i don't remember the video showing him making racial comments against every black person, just the guys that were heckling him. by that same logic, should i be offended by the heckler on video calling him a 'cracker'? because that is a derogatory remark against white people ... and i happen to be white. but you know what ... those words weren't directed at me. and when it comes down to it, those are just words. sticks and stones anybody?

but racism is wrong, and the only way to get rid of it is to remove everything based on race. every form that has a checkbox for race ... get rid of those. affirmative action ... stop it. the concept of 'reverse racism' ... there is no such thing. it's all racism. scholarships based on race ... make those illegal. casinos for native americans ... bad. BET ... you're kidding me. all of that crap just prolongs racism. get rid of it all. when that happens, then our society will be serious about ending racism.

now to go all nut job. another thing that'll help end racism on earth is to discover alien life. that'll help remind us that we're all a part of the human race. i really wish that our world was less competitive among itself. my wish is that we would cooperate more and compete against the unknown. i.e. we are top of the food chain on earth ... but what about the rest of the universe? yep, that really is how i think ...


DesktopWeb FormText   dev landscape for MS speechSun, 26 Nov 2006 15:45:28 GMT # 

the following is a list of what's out there, or will be shortly :

Speech Server 2004 - can be used to develop SALT based telephony and multimodal applications. one of the latter changes was the addition of language packs for supporting more languages. it's being replaced by Speech Server 2007.

Speech Server 2007 - it offers a workflow development model which is much easier than working with SALT or VoiceXml. this workflow model is excellent! it continues to support SALT for telephony apps and adds basic VoiceXml support. also adds support for VOIP, but stops supporting multimodal apps. it also will have better language support. another thing is that it will be a part of Office Communication Server 2007. part of this effort is that Speech is getting baked into Exchange. not sure if i like that yet ... it sounds a little too IT'ish, and less developer-y. last i heard is that we won't see this until mid 07.

SAPI 5.1 - is a COM library on XP for doing speech reco and synthesis. it can be wrapped with an RCW to be called by .NET apps. it only supported about 3 different languages.

SAPI 5.3 - is a COM library on VIsta for doing speech reco and synthesis. its main changes are adding SRGS and SSML support, improved recognition accuracy, and more human sounding speech synthesis. with Vista, it supports something like 8 different languages already. .NET developers can still wrap this library directly with an RCW, or they can just use System.Speech.

System.Speech - is a managed interface for speech recognition and synthesis. this allows developers to add rich speech integration into their applications. it is part of .NET 3.0, so it runs on XP and Vista. on Vista, its underlying speech tech is SAPI 5.3, and on XP it uses SAPI 5.1. this has hooks into Vista's Speech UI to provide visual feedback to speech users. it's worth noting that System.Speech does not 'allow partially trusted callers', so it cannot be used from an internet sandbox.

Vista Speech UI - Vista speech recognition is baked directly into the shell. the integration is so well done, that it allows you to control apps using just your speech. even apps (and web pages) that were never meant to be speech controlled. of course, with some design changes and accessibility hooks, you can make your app even easier to control with speech.

Voice Command 1.6 - is an end user app for adding speech reco and synth to Pocket PCs, and now Smartphones. this latest release has also added bluetooth support. there is no developer API ... but i keep asking, so maybe someday.

MS Agents - you can still do these, but consider them dead. the SDK hasn't been updated for years. by years, i mean forever.

... and now i'm holding my breath that some version of SAPI will make its way over to XNA on the XBox 360. the idea is that you can control your squad or co-op NPC using your voice. e.g. i recently played the dog fighting game Blazing Angels. instead of having to press a directional key to tell the other pilots in my squad to attack or defend, it would have been more natural and immersive to just say 'attack' or 'defend'. the NPCs are already providing me with spoken prompts, so why can't i talk back?


DesktopWeb FormText   TTS for shoesSat, 25 Nov 2006 17:29:36 GMT # 

These shoes are made for talking

(quote) "So she pushed a button on her iPod Nano. The device instantly sent a wireless electronic request to a battery-powered sensor in the sole of her left shoe. The sensor responded immediately, dispatching the information in a digital voice through her iPod: 5.2 miles."


DesktopWeb FormText   what happened to System.NaturalLanguage?Fri, 24 Nov 2006 16:09:05 GMT # 

are we ever going to get that namespace? i could easily see it coming in handy for speech/tablet/bot/search development.


DesktopWeb FormText   door to door atheistsFri, 24 Nov 2006 03:10:27 GMT # 

door to door atheists :) ... from Chris

we need more militant atheists


DesktopWeb FormText   vista speech reco videosThu, 23 Nov 2006 04:26:02 GMT # 

if you haven't checked out Vista speech reco yet ... then take a look at these videos :

Vista speech recognition screencast: It works!
Make a movie using just your voice
jkOnTheRun Audio Edition #24 - Vista RC2 on a Samsung Q1 UMPC

i put together a video too, demoing hands free babe browsing (semi safe for work), but it ends up YouTube and Google video reduce the quality lower than i expected. ... i'll have to try the SoapBox beta and see if the quality is any better ...

anyway, i had some problems getting a decent screen capture on Vista. tried Camtasia first, but the end result was rendering badly. i'm assuming it was a graphics driver problem? for the video linked above, i ended up using Media Encoder 9. it worked decently, but it missed some of the audio. also, the mic volume recorded fine, but audio out is too soft. and Media Encoder chews up enough CPU cycles to hurt the speech recognition results. my video has a number of failed recognition attempts caused because of the heavy CPU usage. without Media Encoder running, the speech reco works alot better. serious. next time, i'll try Michael Patten's technique (see comments) by offloading screen capture to a 2nd machine


DesktopWeb FormText   bots still dyingTue, 21 Nov 2006 15:22:04 GMT # 

still having problems with the bots. they seem to be doing a little better. e.g. if i open up a session, the bots will sometimes see that the session was started and then write the first chat message. that is better, because neither bot has responded first for about the last week (when the problem 1st started). also, when it doesn't notice that a session was started, it sometimes gets the message that i send to initiate a conversation. but i'm still getting alot of 'cannot deliver messages' errors. the pic below shows trying to chat with both bots after a restart this morning. TextAdventureBot started just fine, but MobileRecordBot failed. the funny thing is just a moment before, MobileRecordBot was working and TextAdventureBot wasn't. and by 'funny' ... i mean 'this sucks'


DesktopWeb FormText   XNA hotnessMon, 20 Nov 2006 03:45:06 GMT # 

this vid of an XNA racer demo gave me goose bumps. and don't forget that XNA is the developers excuse for writing off 360 and HDTV purchases ...


DesktopWeb FormText   all Vista'd upMon, 20 Nov 2006 03:37:54 GMT # 

spent this weekend getting Vista on my main dev machine. did x86 and am still having a heck of a time finding drivers. as well as fighting with some apps, including some of my custom apps. have been having fun messing around with System.Speech and SAPI 5.3 (will start posting soon). now i need the Speech Server beta dev environment to make its way to Vista so i can keep kicking that around.

NOTE the MCE extender functionality to an XBox 360 has improved a ton. it was killing me in RC2, so i was really expecting it to still suck at RTM ... but it's working great so far. much better than it was working for me with MCE 2005. serious, lack of DivX/XviD is about the only end-user complaint i've got left.


DesktopWeb FormText   voice command 1.6Mon, 20 Nov 2006 03:25:54 GMT # 

you can pick it up here. the main changes to this version are that it will now work on a Smartphone and over Bluetooth! i've been waiting for both of those features for a year or two. now they just need to provide an API for 3rd party developers.

been playing with it some on the Moto Q. the problem is that the Q doesn't have a really good side-button that can be used to trigger voice command.


DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : end of muscle building cycleSun, 19 Nov 2006 17:29:12 GMT # 

the last 2 months were spent trying to add some more muscle mass. overall, i put on about 5 lbs to get back up to 248. that is great, because my initial goal was to end this cycle without going over 250. the best change i made to meet that goal was to start drinking water at lunch instead of soda. the trade off is that i doubled the amount of protein i've been supplementing with from 75-100 grams a day, to 150-200 a day. most of that weight went to my chest, traps, and arms. back is still being held up by a nagging injury near the left lat/ribs. legs didn't grow much, but are starting to regain some strength.

now i'm going to start a fat loss cycle for about 3.5 weeks. mostly cardio, minimal weights, and a reduced calorie diet. think i got protein starved last time, so i'll probably keep supplementing 100 grams a day. that means i'll be cycling off creatine, zma, and other supplements.


DesktopWeb FormText   bots are still offlineThu, 16 Nov 2006 16:03:09 GMT # 

there were some problems with the Messenger service yesterday, and i'm assuming that is what has messed up my bots. but that is supposed to be fixed now and the bots are still offline ... and i don't know why? i've pretty much exhausted every method i can think of to try and fix them. plus it's much easier to just blame somebody else :) leaving it on overnight and checking the logs this morning, a handful of sessions have actually worked. anyway, i'll try again tonight


DesktopWeb FormText   IM bot downtimeWed, 15 Nov 2006 14:55:03 GMT # 

since yesterday, i've been having problems with my instant messaging bots : MobileRecordBot@hotmail.com and TextAdventureBot@hotmail.com. they show up in Live Messenger as being online, but they aren't receiving messages. also, their preview images have changed to sample images. i 'think' its an issue with the bot provider, and hope they just start working again sometime today. if not, i'll try to fix them again tonight. sorry


DesktopWeb FormText   vista speech recognitionWed, 15 Nov 2006 05:52:26 GMT # 

flashback to /pdc05 : i'm sitting at a presentation about speech technologies, and they are demoing Vista speech recognition. it was freakin bad ass ... and i was sitting there thinking 'why wasn't this shown in a keynote?'

so this weekend i spent a little time playing around with vista's speech reco with RC2. and it blew me away again. the best part is how its baked into the shell. this allows for speech controlling apps that were never intended to be controlled with speech. like my craptastic website. we're taking frames, iframes, javascript tree ... total crap. yet i was able to browse it hands free. open up some dev win forms ... and they were handled too. open up MS outlook and send an email without touching a keyboard or mouse. phe.nom.en.al. the 'mouse grid' and 'show numbers' features ... very sexy. for UI, the 'microphone bar' provides very helpful visual cues. i love it when it tells you what you could have said instead of using manual voice clicks or show numbers. not to mention an improvement in recognition accuracy. command and control is excellent. dictation is definitely better, but still has some way to go. but the correction commands and alternates panel for fixing dictation mistakes picks up the slack. finally, i played around with the screen reader some, and the MS Anna voice sounds great too.

now the hardware needs to catch up. notebooks really need to start getting mic arrays, and all tablets/UMPCs should have them. headsets need to lose the analog connections in favor of USB. and none of this analog connections to USB adapter nonsense. i'm still waiting on a remote control with a built-in mic too. finally, i need to check if the newer bluetooth devices are good enough to support speech reco.


DesktopWeb FormText   buyer remorse : zuneWed, 15 Nov 2006 04:57:46 GMT # 

tried out a zune today ... and didn't like it. during setup, the demo content was deleted. don't exactly know how/why that happened, so it immediately lost my confidence. then i plugged it into a PC hoping that it would just be automagically recognized as a mass storage device ... it wasn't. i hate having to use software to sync. also, it only came with one cable for syncing and charging. it should at least come with an adapter to be charged from an outlet. not to mention i prefer mini USB cables because i have those all over the place. then, it recommends you install an use the zune media player. come on ... i don't need/want another media player. finally, where's my API so that i can write CF apps to run on it? WiFi sharing ... i'm not that cool. if i shared any of the music i listen to, it would just lead to me being ridiculed. all in all, i dislike the zune for the same reasons i don't like ipods.

just to rub it in Chad pulled out his 60GB Toshiba Gigabeat ... and i liked it alot. twice the storage size for similar price. mini USB for sycing as well as a separate wall charger. portable media center UI was very similar. it was recognized as a mass storage device without any driver install. pretty sure he said you could use it to transfer generic data too. its pretty much what i expected the zune to be.

i've owned alot of MS hardware : mice, keyboards, router, game controllers, xbox 360, trackballs, remote controls, fingerprint readers, etc... and this has got to be my worst experience. actually, i'm ok with the hardware itself, but the software experience ... no good. it needs a serious firmware update ... quick


DesktopWeb FormText   Big Screen BlogSun, 12 Nov 2006 02:19:52 GMT # 

Niall Ginsbourg has been creating some great apps with the new dev models for Vista MCE (MCML and WPF XBAP). he just started up a new blog which the MCE crowd should subscribe to : mobilewares.spaces.live.com


DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : supplement resultsSun, 05 Nov 2006 16:04:04 GMT # 

here's what i've been trying this round for muscle gain :

EcdySterone - can't say that it's doing anything for me. won't be trying it again.
Jay Robb Egg White Protein - this is one of the better egg proteins i've tried. it mixes and tastes decent. not great, but better than most of the other egg proteins out there. now i need to compare it to Optimum's chocolate flavor.
Multi Pro 32X - nothing special about this multivitamin. i'll definitely be switching back to Animal Paks.
Universal Animal Pump - pre workout. i prefer the Animal Staks, as well as some pre workout drink powders.
Xtend BCAAs - good. BCAAs are definitely becoming a part of my normal supplement routine.
AAKG - no effects. the last time i tried NO2, i felt edgy all the time, but didn't get the continuous pump that its supposed to provide. this time, with AAKG, i'm not feeling edgy as well as not getting continuous pumps. might try something else in a couple cycles.


DesktopWeb FormText   an MSN Add In for Text to SpeechFri, 03 Nov 2006 15:12:51 GMT # 

found the post over at the Messenger Dev forums : Sample: MSN AddIn - Text to Speech


DesktopWeb FormText   WPF presentation materialsThu, 02 Nov 2006 06:15:11 GMT # 

powerpoint, code samples, /backRow code


DesktopWeb FormText   /backRow code updateTue, 31 Oct 2006 15:21:16 GMT # 

for the WPF presentation tomorrow night, i went and ported the /backRow application to use the latest WPF libs. the update is from the September 2005 CTP of WinFX to the September 2006 CTP of .NET 3.0 (exactly 1 year). one gotcha, is that i changed the 'My Videos' discovery to find videos on a Vista machine, and the XP path is commented out. the updated source can be downloaded from the bottom of the article in the 'Updates' section.


DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : secret weightlifterSun, 29 Oct 2006 17:22:48 GMT # 

started trying out a new gym that just opened up near our house this weekend. its not looking so good, because its just barely got enough upper body equipment; and there isnt near enough lower body equipment. its got squat racks, a smith machine, machine leg press, seated calf, and seated leg curl, leg extension ... thats it. at a minimun it needs a free weight leg press, lying leg curl, and bent knee abductor/adductor machines. that would get it on par with my current gym ... which is still lacking. in general, wisconsin has horrible gyms. when i visted my parents last week in TX, the small gym i went to there had a much better equipment selection then the largest gyms near me. plus they've got the mammoth gyms like 24 hour, lifetime, and LA fitness. i would kill for a warehouse gym like that.

anyway, my only hope right now is to make suggestions to get the new gym up to snuff, so i've been leaving about a page of suggestions after every workout session. my experience has been that your only chance of changing a gym is when they are just getting started and will try to do stuff to steal members from existing gyms. i've been leaving suggestions for my current gym ... which have all been ignored. except now i can try and leave suggestions about how the new gym is better. e.g. they've got a T-bar and a decline bench. i need those! but unless the new gym gets some leg equipment, there's no way i can make the switch :(


DesktopWeb FormText   presenting WPF next week in Madison, WIFri, 27 Oct 2006 15:33:11 GMT # 

details at MadisonDotNet.org


DesktopWeb FormText   trying to play a DVD on VistaFri, 27 Oct 2006 04:49:13 GMT # 

you've got to be kidding me ...


DesktopWeb FormText   a little time with Vista RC2Mon, 09 Oct 2006 05:00:10 GMT # 

finally made the jump to Vista. got everything off the old dev box except for the /mobileRecord bot; which will stay there until i get a full dev environment setup on Vista. Vista RC2 installed some flavor or .NET 3.0 ... but i'm not entirely sure if i can just smoke that to load the September CTP?

anyway, installation was quick and painless; but driver support still sucks, even for 32 bit. had to find a modified video driver and audio is working through a USB adapter ... meaning the onboard sound card isnt working. bluetooth, fingerprint reader, and something else(?) are still unrecognized. can live without those, but really need to get the onboard sound to work. the security dialogs are pretty much annoying ... so they better be making me secure! what i'm most happy with is the network stack, it's definitely faster. although it 'might' have some issues with the HDX101 powerline ethernet adapters? have had a couple downloads freeze ... but too early to tell for sure. initial MCE (and extender) setup was easy. except now i need to port a bunch of my custom apps over ... or rewrite them entirely :)

got the bad cable modem swapped out too, and although its the same model, this one 'seems' more reliable ... so far


DesktopWeb FormText   core duo slate Tablet PC ...Sat, 07 Oct 2006 17:06:53 GMT # 

is anybody ever going to come out with a core duo slate? serious. did the UMPCs kill off the full-sized slate market?


DesktopWeb FormText   new notebookSat, 07 Oct 2006 16:58:02 GMT # 

got another toshiba. making my last 3 notebook purchases Toshiba ... brand loyalty from me? no way! they just seem to offer the right price vs performance. actually, i would have bought the Acer 9810 with a 20 inch display, if the bastards wouldn't have put an HD-DVD drive in it. seriously, i don't need/want HD-DVD/Blu-Ray on a notebook. only been 24 hours with it, but here's my current take :
pro - core 2 duo with 4 MB cache, 2 gigs of RAM, video card, vista premium ready (installing RC2 this weekend)
con - 4200 RPM harddrive (i'll be replacing that with 7200 flavor). number pad on keyboard (hate typing to the side, and some of the keys have been squashed to make room for the number pad)
undecided - shiny screen (don't know if this is good or bad yet)

one thing different from my last notebook is i have access to the built-in wireless card. i'm hoping this means i can replace it with 802.11n in the future! but what i don't understand is why i still have to add a dongle to the notebook to support a wireless mouse? MS and Logitech need to make a standard for their wireless products, and support should just be built-into all notebooks/desktops. it does have Bluetooth, but there aren't that many decent Bluetooth devices out there ... and for a trackball user like myself, forget it. trackball users are the left-handed step-children of the computing world :(


DesktopWeb FormText   expected downtime friday or saturdayFri, 06 Oct 2006 03:25:57 GMT # 

still having problems getting a reliable internet connection. going to try and swap out cable modems again sometime this weekend. just tried to swap out an after-market cable modem (again) tonight, but my provider wasn't able to get it working. so it looks like i can take it into one of their payment centers and get one from them ... really hope that this solves the problems. if that doesn't do it, then it might be the new router. but i really expect it to be the cable modem, because it would lock up with my old router too. and its just getting worse now because of the traffic from my server. at least that's the theory ...


DesktopWeb FormText   Madison .NET UG tomorrowTue, 03 Oct 2006 17:49:43 GMT # 

go here to register. the meeting title is 'Predictive Analytics : Getting more value from your data using .NET and SQL Server'


DesktopWeb FormText   about to retire the notebookMon, 02 Oct 2006 00:07:06 GMT # 

use a notebook for all my personal development. current notebook (Toshiba Satellite P25-S509) has almost reached the 3 year mark (purchased 12/31/03 for $2100) ... so i'll be replacing it soon. in that time it has run xp home, xp pro, win2k3 server, tablet pc os, and now mce 2005. its been a great notebook but is now on its last legs. cd/dvd burner doesnt work at all. battery is dead, unplug the AC adapter and the notebook shuts off within a couple minutes. clip that holds ethernet cable in is gone. speakers might be blown. some of the keys are getting iffy, either sticking or not registering. doesnt cool as good, and it will shut off if it gets too hot. no blue screen, just instant off. plastic side panel for pmcia slot and s-video has about half of it broken off from an airport security check. usb ports are worn so that if you bump them it thinks the device has been disconnected. but the only thing that held back development was the 32 meg video card. it keeps me from viewing video directly in MCE PC and will occasionally lockup during DirectX usage. finally, it sucks that it can only read 1 gig SD cards. regardless, it helped me churn through alot of code ... it'll be missed. funny thing is i picked up the 3 yr extended warranty from BestBuy. so i'll be handing it over for them to get fixed up a bit. when it gets back home i'll retire it to act as an MCE server


DesktopWeb FormText   server downtimeThu, 28 Sep 2006 23:40:15 GMT # 

sorry, my server is getting hit right now by MAKE and engadget. actually, my new server is doing fine, but the cable modem has a tendency to lock up under load. tried to setup an aftermarket modem last month, but my service provider wasn't very helpful about switching out the MAC address. hope to switch service providers before the year is out so i can replace this craptastic modem.


DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : weight loss cycle overSun, 17 Sep 2006 15:15:33 GMT # 

spent the last month cutting fat. went from 260 down to 242 (2 pounds short of 20 lb. goal). my caloric deficit was about 1/2 a pound a day. caused this deficit with a combination of diet and exercise, probably 1000 calories each. definitely lost some muscle mass, but not too much. strength is down too, but that should come back quickly. for supplements, i was taking the Universal Cuts pack, and would probably do the same next cycle. there are some things i would do differently next time, like cutting the duration to just over 3 weeks. would also reduce the # of lifting workouts from 4 to 3, and replace that with a higher intensity cardio workout.

now i'll be transitioning to a muscle building phase for about 8 weeks. the goal will be to keep my bodyweight under 250. the main concentration will be to build up my legs. also need to get my back fully healed. for supplements, i'll be giving AAKG another try and experimenting with Ecdysterone for the first time. will also be doubling my protein shake intake.


DesktopWeb FormText   bNb YouTube video pageSun, 17 Sep 2006 03:43:41 GMT # 

here. since migrating to a new web server, i've been trying to reduce the load on the new server. one thing that has been particularly slow on my server is downloading video files. so i've been uploading the videos to YouTube, where they have a much better internet connection. the vid files just show some of my side projects in action. they are pretty low quality to make it easier on the old server. overall, i'm pretty impressed with YouTube. just wish they had views to allow uploading of multiple videos or mass edits for uploaded video properties.


DesktopWeb FormText   new article : /mobileRecordThu, 14 Sep 2006 23:50:22 GMT # 

/mobileRecord is an MSN instant messaging bot that allows you to schedule TV recordings on your Media Center Edition PC. you communicate with the bot using Messenger, and the bot communicates with your MCE PC through a client application. it's like MSN Remote Record, but it's tailored for small screen devices when you can't get to a desktop PC. i.e. i wrote it to work with my Motorola Q Smartphone running MSN Mobile when i'm out and won't get home in time to see a show, or when i'm out and see a show on that i want to be recording. granted, you can also use it from a desktop when you are away from home. the article has some video links so you can see it in action.

it also has a voice-only interface using Speech Server 2007 that lets you record a TV show from any phone. i don't know of any video provider that has that funcationality? anyway, that piece can't be released because Speech Server is in beta, but the article has some audio recordings of it in use.

the bot has an MSN Space to let you see what others (anonymously) are recording : http://MobileRecordBot.spaces.live.com/. you can subscribe to the RSS feed to be introduced to new shows.

if you'd like to try the bot out, but don't have an MCE PC or aren't sure if you want to install the client-side piece ... it has a demo mode. just add MobileRecordBot@hotmail.com to your contact list and you can get an idea of how it works.

finally, this is my RobotInvaders.com entry. you can vote for it here


DesktopWeb FormText   Zune API?Thu, 14 Sep 2006 17:42:03 GMT # 

you knew i was going to ask ... is the Zune going to get an API? that's been my biggest gripe about Portable Media Centers. they have freakin Compact Framework on them, but developers don't get any access; and is why i don't own one. this would also be the reason why i wouldn't get a Zune. provide an API ... and i'm there. otherwise ... UMPC


DesktopWeb FormText   testMon, 11 Sep 2006 23:27:15 GMT # 

please ignore ... just testing


DesktopWeb FormText   bringing server back onlineMon, 11 Sep 2006 04:12:11 GMT # 

my server has been offline for about 2 weeks now. had to relocate it, and the hardware didn't survive shipping. so i bought some new hardware yesterday and have been migrating the data over. it will take some time til i get some of the older sites working again.


DesktopWeb FormText   feature completeSun, 20 Aug 2006 02:50:42 GMT # 

been working on another contest entry. just hit 'feature complete'! now i have to ease up the usability and get some decent testing in.


DesktopWeb FormText   user-created xbox 360 gamesMon, 14 Aug 2006 13:36:11 GMT # 

Larry O'Brien just shot over this wonderful link : Microsoft To Enable User-Created Xbox 360 Games

please give us access to the video camera and it's gesture recognition capabilities. pretty please!


DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : end of mass building cycleSun, 13 Aug 2006 18:43:56 GMT # 

finishing off a 2 month cycle. body weight is now just under 260. since i tore my hamstring, most of the gains were on the upper body, but my leg strength was catching back up over the last month. e.g. did a couple reps at 850 on a medium-difficulty leg press machine yesterday (knees to chest). but on bench today, i threw up 315 for 9 reps (spotter had to help on the attempted 10th). since i haven't been lifting low reps/heavy weight, a conservative estimate would put my 1 rep max over 375. but with some heavy training, that puts me in range for thinking about 405 (4 plates).

my supplement choices this last cycle were pretty good. i liked the Univeral M-Stak before workouts, Nitro pack after workouts, and thought the Flex pack was pretty good for joints. just wish the Flex pack was split into smaller packs for taking it twice a day. for protein, Optimum whey continues to impress and i thought Muscle Milk was ok ... at least it tasted great. the Universal protein was crap. it mixes ok, but tastes bad, especially their egg protein. i haven't really liked any egg protein i've tried yet. the next one i order definitely needs to be some flavor other than vanilla. also tried NOX-CG3 for pre-workout. it didn't mix very good, and i thought it was ok. doubt that i'll ever take it again.

now it's time to put this extra muscle mass to work. the next cycle will be 1 month of fat loss. so i'll be spending most of my time on the cardio machines. will still have to sneak in some short weight training sessions to try and keep my body from cannibalizing all of the lean muscle mass i've been purposefully adding. during this time i'll be cycling off creatine and ZMA.


DesktopWeb FormText   ouch! ... Speech Server resetWed, 09 Aug 2006 01:26:58 GMT # 

Marshall's got the details : Speech Server to ship as part of Office Communications Server 2007

this kind of sucks, because i hate waiting. was really hoping that a SpeechTek keynote would be announcing the ship date of Speech Server 2007 sometime this year. now it looks like there will be another beta and then finally released Summer 07. that's a long time from now. already had redirected my spare time to Speech Server after the last press release. had put out 2 dev articles, 3rd one is in the works. got the happy-day scenario working just last night! it needs another month of baking ... but i think it's pretty cool. going to finish it up and then start concentrating on something else. being independent, i need to try and stay ahead of the curve, but now the curves been set too far out.

for the rest of the announcements, i have no clue what Office Communications Server 2007 is. honestly, i make fun of Office developers ... so i don't like the name. do like the Instant Messenger integration ... since i already went down that path : /speechTextAdv. that just makes sense. sounds like we'll be able to do some other cool stuff too


DesktopWeb FormText   new article : /speakerVerifyThu, 20 Jul 2006 02:47:29 GMT # 

/speakerVerify is about creating custom speech activities for MS Speech Server 2007. first, it creates a set of activities for doing speaker verification. speaker verification determines if a speaker is who they say they are. anyway, my simple implementation is written from scratch as a proof of concept ... not for production. second, it creates some activities to do dictation using SAPI 5.1 or SAPI 5.3. these are just proof of concept too, because speaker-independent dictation isn't quite ready for prime time yet.


DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : almost 1/2 markSun, 16 Jul 2006 17:48:11 GMT # 

almost half way through the current lifting cycle. i was supposed to be concentrating on legs right now, but i tore my left hamstring about 3 weeks ago. it was on single leg lunges with 275 on the smith machine. it was my own fault. didn't warm up enough and wasn't stretching properly. at least it was just a muscle tear ... which heals fast (compared to joints). iced it for about 2 weeks, and now i'm starting to re-incorporate leg workouts. still don't know why my left leg has become injury-prone all of a sudden :( upper body is hanging in there. i've got a little pain where my left lats meet my rib, so i'm going to let that rest for a while by laying off weighted abs, lat pulls, and chest flys. but my chest strength is going up. about ready to make 315 on bench for 7 reps. the rest of my upper body seems to be slowly filling out too. bodyweight is around 255 right now. i'm hoping that stays constant while i cut some fat and add lean muscle.

pretty happy with my supplement choices for this round. the proteins are decent, except the universal ones taste pretty bad. for pre-workout, the universal m-stak is decent. had taken the regular (test) stak before, and don't think it did as much. post-workout, the nitro pak is pretty decent. the flex pak is ok, but i'm also taking other joint supplements throughout the day. my joints seem to do better with constant supplementation throughout the day.


DesktopWeb FormText   bot updateSat, 15 Jul 2006 16:14:39 GMT # 

so the TextAdventure MSN bot was all messed up yesterday. it was signing on and off all day long ... annoying! i've shut it down until i can figure out what is going on. i'm assuming that my bot provider has made some changes?

the bot ended up being listed in the RobotInvaders.com gallery. it's been there over a week and averaged about 50+ users a day. to improve the user experience, it keeps a log of the dialogs (email addresses are hashed for privacy). i've made some minor changes based on these logs. but the most interesting part of the logs is how 'non-user' the user base is. chatting with another bot guy, he said : "1/3 will use the bot, 1/3 will try to reverse engineer, and 1/3 will just rant". and that's pretty much what i'm seeing. only about 1/3 of the users are actually trying to play the game, everybody else just want to mess with the bot itself. i'm assuming these same percentages would not apply to voice-based systems? my guess would be that the extra effort (possibly cost) to call into a voice system, might weed out more of the playful visitors. not to mention there is more of a risk that another person might hear the non-user speaking ridiculous answers.


DesktopWeb FormText   NetGear Powerline HDTue, 11 Jul 2006 22:11:13 GMT # 

picked up a pair of HDX101 to get a wired connection to my Media Center. previously i had tried the XE104, but they would not connect to the XBox 360. but these are working out of the box. i don't actually have any HD content to test with, but standard def is working great so far, even over a powerstrip. Skype, and everything else seems to work fine too. one unexpected difference from the XE104, is that these only have 1 jack, while the XE104 had 4. this isn't a big deal for my current usage. one bad thing is that the HDX101s are not compatible with XE104. they can exist on the same network, but they just can't communicate with each other, unless going through a router first. so it'd be better to have them all be the same kind. if these continue to perform good, then i'll probably pick up another pair. right now i'm using these as a stop-gap until the wireless 802.11n standard gets further along.

i actually hope that this just starts getting integrated into powerlines from the beginning. i have to plug my notebook in anyways, so it should just carry the data over that line too.


DesktopWeb FormText   WI.NET UG meeting : Grid ComputingTue, 11 Jul 2006 16:06:38 GMT # 

tonight


DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : stupid proteinWed, 05 Jul 2006 00:33:43 GMT # 

got a jug of protein from somebody that stopped taking it. some zero carb isopure. tastes ok, but the ridiculous part is the lid opening is so small that i cannot physically get my hand in to scoop out the protein. the jug is a standard 2 lb'er, nor do i have huge hands. what were they thinking?


DesktopWeb FormText   couple days with the Q (and bot stuff)Sun, 25 Jun 2006 04:33:39 GMT # 

so i'm still really liking it. been mostly getting reacquainted with the wireless web, and finding out what sites are PIE friendly. it looks like live.com is investing some effort to it ... and they need to. because it's mostly in the same state that it's been for years. there is a small # of useful sites ... but it's pretty thin. either the ASP.NET team or the WindowsMobile team need to make a push to get more PIE friendly sites out there. any clue if Atlas has any way to work with Pocket IE? it could use a better portal too. there are certain sites that make sense when i'm mobile ... and they should just be there, as a feature set for WindowsMobile. at least the whole synch 3 pages deep model can be thrown out now ... that was crap.

the Q has been working reliably, but it drains the battery quickly. there are a couple times where i've ran out of juice when i've been out. it seems to just shut off about 15%. so i need to get more disciplined about charging it whenever possible, and will probably transition to the extended battery, even though the extended cover makes it feel cheap.

been stocking up on new bluetooth devices. got some new headsets, PC adapter, and GPS. been using the stereo headset connected to my notebook, and the quality is better than expected. love that it's wireless. it cuts out every once in a while ... and i can live with that. bluetooth is still a bit tricky, from the last time i played with it. i.e. it's not as easy as setting up wireless controllers for the 360. i like the press some special button on each device pairing model, instead of the passing of a secret pin. and sometimes i have some issues re-pairing a device after i've powered it off. but i just had a 'wow' moment. was listening to mp3s on the notebook and had the phone charging about 10 feet away. then a call came in, the music was auto muted, and i was able to take the call without getting up. ended the call, and the music came back on ... sweet!

been testing the TextAdventure bot with it. had to make some code changes for usability. e.g. MSN Mobile has no activity window. so when somebody asks for the 'Map', nothing happens, which makes it look broken. now i've changed it to also return the url to the map, so that the mobile user can manually open it in Pocket IE. don't know if its possible, but i'd like for the bot SDKs to be able to provide the context for the user and whether they are using MSN Mobile or a desktop client.

oh yeah, i found that MS basically does have a bot SDK. it's the Messenger Add-In API. it's intended purpose seems to be for hosting a bot on your own client. that might be cool, but i think they need to retool it for hosting bots on a server that aren't tied to a particular user account. and these server bots could get extended permissions. really, the 3rd party bot SDKs aren't anything special.


DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : protein taste testsSat, 24 Jun 2006 06:17:40 GMT # 

protein can be bad in 2 ways : 1) hard to mix, 2) tastes bad. back in the day ... it used to be both. but now most everything tastes decent and is pretty easy to mix. but i just got 2 from Universal ... they mix fine, but the taste ... not good. this'll be like a month of taking medicine. on the other hand, i got some new Muscle Milk and Optimum whey too, and they both taste great. the Optimum whey is tropical punch, and i had to check the container afterwards to make sure it actually had protein in it. and the Muscle Milk is like i blended up a brownie to drink ... yummy


DesktopWeb FormText   bot ideasSat, 24 Jun 2006 05:41:49 GMT # 

some high level categories :

conversational - this will be a one-on-one dialog between you and the bot. all of the current entries are some form of this. some are 'command and control', meaning it has some limited vocab that it's parsing for keywords. the other kind is a 'chat bot', which tries to be more natural and be able to respond to any message.

alert - this bot will initiate the conversation based on some event.

voyeur - this style of bot will be in the background listening to a conversation between a group of humans. it might do helper tasks like logging, defining words, translating l337, etc...

humanless - bots chatting among themselves?

wondering if 'portals' make sense in the bot world? maybe a bot to find and connect me to other bots. e.g. i tell the 411 bot that i'm interested in movie times, and it gives me a list of bots that have movie info, and then initiates that conversation. one bot to rule them all ... and to minimize my friends list. speaking of ... i'd like messenger to auto categorize bots into their own group


DesktopWeb FormText   day one Q impressionsThu, 22 Jun 2006 13:47:18 GMT # 

this is actually my first retail smartphone, the only other smartphone i've had was the original dev kit. i'm not big into phones, but overall, i'm really liking it. compared to the JasJar that i'm coming off of ... it's ridiculously small and intuitive to use. i'm thinking about picking up insurance, because i can easily see forgetting that i'm carrying it at all. it feels relatively solid, but the cover for the extended battery makes it feel cheap. going to switch back to the standard battery and see if that can cut it for my usage. i like the button setup because all but one are on the front face, so i won't be accidently hitting them. the softpad buttons could stand to be a little taller. love that it has a jog dial, but i hope i can configure it to scroll faster. so far i'm not missing a stylus

service-wise, it looks like Verizon is going to cut it. i live in a valley which renders T-Mobile useless, and Sprint just barely passable ... but Verizon is giving me a solid 1 to 2 bars. plus i'm getting EvDO! it's not blazing fast, but it is usable. this'll definitely get me out on the mobile web more. it's just kind of silly that Verizon doesn't include SMS messaging with unlimited data, nor does it look like they even offer an unlimited text messaging option.

for software, i can't believe it doesn't have a text note program. the next rev of the WindowsMobile needs to fix that, or else it looks like OneNote 2007 Mobile will. trying out Smartphone Notes 2.0, and liking it so far, mainly because it syncs with Outlook. finally, i tried out the Wireless Sync software, to sync email from Outlook. hate it! the first time i did the sync, it deleted alot of my Calendar info. so i turned off Calendar sync, but it was still attempting to sync it afterwards? also, i don't like that it pushes my email up to another server to then make its way to the phone. finally, it wasn't handling Inbox subfolders very well. anyway, that crap has been deleted.

this phone will probably force me to do some more mobile dev. the mobile web interface of bNb could stand to be freshened up. plus, i could see how it handles MD3DM. some initial pictures of barcodes don't look great, but might be usable for image recognition. and the smartphone home screen generator could be refreshed to support this screen size.


DesktopWeb FormText   new article : /speechTextAdvWed, 21 Jun 2006 04:09:10 GMT # 

/speechTextAdv is about using Micrsoft Speech Server 2007 (currently in private beta) to develop a text adventure game which can be played using speech. the articles focus is on the new workflow model and managed API for developing speech applications. it then discusses an IM-to-Speech bridge which i prototyped for exposing the same application to text-based instant messaging. so it used the same codebase to make the game playable with your voice or text. the concept was that sometimes it is more convenient to use speech (while moving), while other times it might be more conveinent to use text (in a loud environment).

this forms the basis for my Robot Invaders contest entry. started down this path because i thought the bot SDKs were a bit lacking in tool support. but Speech Server has great tools for developing dialog based applications. so the idea was to use the tool support from Speech Server to develop the app, and then use a bot SDK to bridge the app over to MSN Messenger. NOTE this was successfully prototyped, but it is currently deployed differently.

the text adventure game is playable over MSN Messenger. the speech UI of the game is not currently deployed


DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : supplement orderSun, 18 Jun 2006 22:15:01 GMT # 

about to start another round of intense workouts, so i had to make a big supplement order to support it. my experiment this time is to go animal stack/pak crazy! getting back on the animal stak multivitamins ... which i swear by. instead of a regular joint pill, i'm going to try the new animal flex pak. also replacing my normal routine of pre/post workout drinks ... since i haven't been too happy with the last ones i've tried. for pre-workout, i'm going to try the m-stak. post-workout will be the animal nitro pak. will wash those down with plain ol creatine and water. and after this cycle, i'm gonna go through a pak of animal cuts. told you ... pak crazy! also going to try some different protein drinks. a new egg protein in the morning, a new blend in the afternoon, and will try muscle milk before bed. just hope they mix easily; can't stand it when protein is hard to mix. now i have to figure out what the new workout schedule will be. already know it's going to be mostly legs ... which is going to suck! it's tough making it to the gym on leg days, unless you're a masochist


DesktopWeb FormText   buying a QSun, 18 Jun 2006 17:50:41 GMT # 

need a new phone, because i've been mostly disconnected for the last year. going with Verizon because they are the only provider with 3G in my area (Sprint is getting close). getting the Q, because i haven't had a Smartphone for a while; so i need more time with its interface. really upset it doesn't have AKU2, but i'm sick of waiting.

went to go buy it in-store, and found out they could not transfer my out of state #. WTF? honestly, i don't know if this is a limitation just for Verizon, or all providers. but i can't beleive they don't support this. didn't they expect people to move and still want to keep their same #? i really want area codes to drop the area part. phone numbers should be unique id's, and that's it.

then i found out that i could transfer my # online only. so i went to VerizonWireless.com. first, i kept getting validation errors because it won't let me transfer the # with my local address info (same as the store). so i have to use my parents address in TX, and will have to change the address later. then, i get a validation error because my contact # is the same # i'm trying to transfer. so they don't support somebody transferring their only phone # ... stupid.

next, i get them to accept my order, and then it asks for my driver license and SS#? er, um ... i'm just buying a phone. i don't remember having to do this before ... is this some homeland security crap?

finally, the order is being processed and their website goes to hell. they are popping up some control to display a moving progress bar, and the IE7 beta won't have it. accept the control and it still doesn't take. so i never get a web-based confirmation of the order. but a couple minutes later i get the email confirmation ... so i guess it worked?

never had Verizon as a provider ... and my 1st impression is not good. their service better rock. this'll give me a proper device (and connection) to test out bots with MSN mobile.


DesktopWeb FormText   /veWorldWind is ok'dFri, 16 Jun 2006 22:26:41 GMT # 

got to talk to a VE guy, who explained the situation last week. ends up that MS was reacting to protect a partners license. both times i've had MS legal pointed at one of my articles has been because of a partners license. this tells me that if you license something to MS, then you should feel good about it.

so it looks like the plugin is in the clear. did get to hear about some future VE plans, and i'm feeling good about it once again. will crank out some more code for them in the future, but i'm currently having alot of fun with Speech Server 2007.

NOTE i stated earlier that WinForms Earth uses the same protocol hack, but a member of the MSR MapCruncher team corrected me that it actually uses an embedded browser.


DesktopWeb FormText   fixed theme generatorsFri, 16 Jun 2006 04:11:17 GMT # 

/tskTsk and /spHme are working again. they've been broken for about 2 weeks, when i upgraded to ASP.NET 2.0.

/tskTsk has now been used to convert over 21,000 images into PPC and SP themes


DesktopWeb FormText   bot address changeThu, 15 Jun 2006 22:36:50 GMT # 

it's now on MSN at TextAdventureBot@hotmail.com

made it a little more mobile MSN friendly. if you happen to lose your connection, then it keeps your current state in memory for a short period of time. this allows you to reconnect and continue from the point where the connection was interrupted. of course that would be a good time to type 'save game' which persists your game to disk.


DesktopWeb FormText   text adv. bot updatesThu, 15 Jun 2006 16:49:30 GMT # 

er, um ... text adventure games are hard. definitely tougher than the standard difficulty for today's games. so the bot has been updated to provide some help ...

for each game, it can now display a 'map' or 'cheat' walkthrough in the activity window. this content is provided by SolutionArchive.com. just type 'map' or 'cheat'


DesktopWeb FormText   text adventure bot usabilityWed, 14 Jun 2006 02:29:45 GMT # 

got to test the bot out on Chad's PPC phone edition. it was usable, but i saw some issues. mainly, its using alot of carriage returns, so you have to scroll back up to read all of the text (annoying). so i should make it less carriage return heavy. and sometimes the game engine repeats messages, which becomes a problem on small screens. the code i ported has the same bug. i definitely want to get it working better on devices with MSN mobile.

another target is desktop MSN. this provides more viewing area and the activity window can provide help.

another target is UMPC/Tablet. this would be using a VOIP application to interact with it, and then having journal open to take notes about the map, items, etc... really, this things are way too hard to beat without notes. but i think VOIP and a note application might be a good experience.

can also be played voice only on a phone. realistically, you're going to need a bad ass memory to pull this off. because there would be alot of things to keep in your head at a time.

finally, i need to attempt playing it using MSN on a Media Center Edition PC with the remote keyboard.


DesktopWeb FormText   text (and speech) adventure botTue, 13 Jun 2006 20:42:33 GMT # 

... about that idea i was implementing for the Robot Invaders contest. well ... it's a text adventure bot. specifically, some of the early games by Scott Adams and Brian Howarth. came up with the idea to bring the games to instant message. then i found out that they had already been implemented on AIM, with Infocom games. but i stuck with the idea because i was also going to implement it for speech. well ... somebody did that with zork this week. darnit. well ... the only way to be differet is do both.

couple days last week i ported some old C code to C# for parsing the game file formats and executing the game engine. got it working in a stand-alond winforms app with text first. then, i'm on the private Speech Server 2007 beta, so i worked on that for about a week. it's using the managed code model with workflow foundation, and i have to say it's sweet. that code just has to go through the additional step of dynamically generating a grammar for each game, based on valid verb-noun combintations. it's working now, the problem is it's a private beta, so i can't share any of it ... probably for months. too bad, because the speech reco works great. even cooler, i created a bridge to go from MSN-to-Speech Server. so you can use the same code base with either text or speech. the problem is, i'm only running the dev server, and that won't scale to a large # of concurrent users; at least not the way i created the bridge. anyway, it's a sweet prototpye. you could start a game on MSN, save it, and then load that saved game and continue playing with Speech. cool! i'll share the code and write up an article once it can be made public.

to get around the concurrent user limitation, i just cooked up another stand-alone app to host IM sessions only. the disadvantage is that its not entirely the same codebase with speech anymore, nor is the code as easy to understand as WF. the advantage is this will allow me to customize it for MSN. right now it's just the basic games, but i'll see about adding maps, hints, and walkthroughs. need to ask permission first.

the bots address is currently : alicerobot@hotmail.com ... this will change. hope to add the features above shortly, and the app probably needs some more bullet-proofing in case an exception occurs. so don't expect it to be very reliable in the short term.


DesktopWeb FormText   davinci codeSun, 11 Jun 2006 17:51:21 GMT # 

thought it was ok (liked MI3 and XM3 better). all the related national geographic specials helped me understand what was going on, since i never read the book ... and remind me that it is a work of fiction. disliked when tom hanks went all 'beautiful mind' on the puzzles. there was also one plot twist that i still haven't been able to figure out. but the movie also brought up some events in history that i want to know more about. 1) when the women of free thought were being killed off. 2) the debate among christians about when holidays should be, if jesus was man or divine, what gospels should be in, etc... 3) don't know much about constantine either.


DesktopWeb FormText   there will NOT be an update to /veWorldWindSat, 10 Jun 2006 20:06:17 GMT # 

here's my quote from the /veWorldWind article : "i think we should wait a bit before starting (v2) ... to see what Microsoft's reaction is, because none of this uses supported VE APIs". well ... they reacted : 1) MS legal asked VVE to remove the article from their site. 2) if you check the edits on WorldWindCentral page for the VE plugin, you will see that a link to the license has been added, and some bold text stating that it can't be used for commercial purposes. er, um ... you would think that somebody from MS would have contact me ... they haven't

this pisses me off ... because i asked for permission (multiple times). NASA had informal permission to begin with (i have the email thread), and i made sure NASA knew i was making the plugin. i would not have written it otherwise. also, i entered it into an MS contest, and told the judges beforehand. finally, i wrote the VE product team to let them know what i was doing, to get additional permission, and to ask how they wanted me to implement certain features ... they never wrote back

it's rumored that the conversations have mentioned 'illegal reverse engineering'. the plugin admittedly does not use the VE SDK and goes directly against the tile servers. other applications that do this include Winforms Earth and Virtual Earth Mobile. there are others. i don't see any of those programs getting pulled ...

so ... here is my reaction. i am immediately stopping work on v2 of the plugin. had already fixed a # of bugs, including improved performance, and i was in the process of adding MSR MapCruncher integration (very cool). finally, i will stop writing dev articles which promote MS location-based products. this cancels a # of articles that i had planned for this year, because i was actually thinking about trying to become a VE MVP next year. forget that

still can't believe that i haven't been contacted ... that's bad form


DesktopWeb FormText   nevermind ... just got itThu, 08 Jun 2006 01:34:47 GMT # 

... please please work


DesktopWeb FormText   need VS 2005 troubleshooting toolThu, 08 Jun 2006 01:29:53 GMT # 

i'm having problems downloading it from Aaron Stebner's site ... could somebody please email me a copy ... because i'm quickly running out of patience. if i uninstall everything, and then reinstall ... shit should work. freaking 'package load failures'. my guess is the problem is caused by going from VS 2005 pro to VS 2005 team edition. this is not going from pre-RTM to RTM, this is RTM to RTM.


DesktopWeb FormText   waiting for Motorola Q to get AKU2Wed, 07 Jun 2006 23:24:27 GMT # 

looking for a new phone and service provider. Verizon has EVDO in my area, and Sprint does not, so i'm willing to pay their premium. the problem is the Motorola Q isn't quite complete. it's lacking the AKU2 update ... absolutely no clue what they were thinking!?! also missing the ability for phone-as-modem. they've said that phone-as-modem is coming later this year, and i could do without that for the near term; but i won't touch it without AKU2.


DesktopWeb FormText   feeding the monkeyWed, 07 Jun 2006 04:35:39 GMT # 

couldn't get a beta SDK to work ... so i just smoked every SDK off my machine : MCE, DShow, VS, ASP, SQL, Tablet, PPC, SP, CE, WinFX, Speech 5.1, SASDK, WMP, WME, WMF, DirectX. now my notebook is so boring ...

waiting for VS 2005 to re-download so i can start feeding the monkey ... hope it works, because this sucks


DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : updateTue, 06 Jun 2006 23:00:26 GMT # 

so i ended the last cycle a couple weeks ago. the main goal was to gain size. well ... the arms grew like mad. added 1.5 inches while flexed, .75 relaxed. now my arm barely fits into public blood pressure monitors (have to force it). this is still just mass though, haven't begun to develop a peak, so they've got room to grow. chest and back grew a little, but not much. the bad part is my legs only grew an inch. er, um ... they should have at least kept pace with the arms. also, since i added most of the muscle to the upper body, it didn't really help cut fat around the midsection. surprisingly, i was actually gaining strength on the bodybuilding workout. wasn't getting as strong as from powerlifting, but the weights were slowly going up ... and my joints kept up (i.e. no injuries!). supplement-wise, Endothil-CR did not seem to do much for me. because of the cost, i doubt i'll take it again anytime soon. i did like Cell-Tech though. but it's rather expensive too, so i'll probably try a different pre/post-workout drink next cycle.

now i'm taking some time to regain some balance, because i'm too freakin top heavy. first, i've been doing more cardio, including jogging to lose some fat around the midsection. the additional upper body mass is helping a little with this. also slightly reducing calories. bodyweight got up to 260 at the end of last cycle (+15), and in the last couple weeks i've cut back to 250. would like to drop another 10 before i start building again. second, i've been doing mostly leg workouts. have to get some meat back on the legs so they don't look silly compared to my arms. couple more weeks of this will give me a better base, and then i will get back to trying to grow. now i need to figure out what the next supplement order will be ...


DesktopWeb FormText   666Tue, 06 Jun 2006 17:59:26 GMT # 

just surfing around, and i'm seeing article topics like : "dont worry, this is the wrong date", "dont worry, is was Nero", "dont worry, misinterpreted", etc...

but i'm not seeing "dont worry, there is no devil". rational thought is definitely getting its ass handed to it


DesktopWeb FormText   new bot idea under attackTue, 06 Jun 2006 14:11:34 GMT # 

blogged a couple days ago about how i came up with a bot idea, only to google and find out it has already been done. but i was going to stick with the idea and change it up a bit. well, only a day later, somebody actually implemented the way i was going to change it up. crap! now it'll just be a copycat. my idea is still a bit different, but it is rapidly losing its cool factor. going to stick with it just because i've already got the code ported over and working. and it's really all about figuring out the appropriate development model ... that'll be fun! anyway ... this is the first time i've had an idea stomped on so badly :(


DesktopWeb FormText   wtf adobeTue, 06 Jun 2006 04:06:39 GMT # 

been having problems with my dev computer lately. it's just been junked up from so many SDKs. can't even get the latest WinFX SDK to install. so i was going through and cleaning crap up. biggest find was 18 gigs of acr???.tmp files. you've got to be kidding me ... time to defragment :)


DesktopWeb FormText   dead alice botMon, 05 Jun 2006 00:53:41 GMT # 

not running the Alice bot anymore, for a # of reasons. first, there were problems with the AIML implementation it was using. was crashing and using more resources than i wanted. and a bot needs to be bulletproof. second, the novelty of generic chat bots wears off real quick. third, i came up with a new idea for a bot.

the problem with my new idea is i searched around and found out it had already been done. crap! i hate it when i come up with an origanal idea just to find out that somebody beat me to it. usually i would toss out the idea altogether, but i'm going to stick with this one. not to be an ass ... but i'm going to do it better. er, um ... yep, that made me sound like an ass. there actually are a # of things that i can do to improve upon the idea. also, have some stupid dev tricks i can pull out to differentiate. proving the dev model is actually what is driving the effort, and the idea just happens to be a really good fit to flesh it out.

been porting over some old C code to C# for the new bot. got it to build real quick, but it's a pain to get every little thing just right. the string comparison operations were just a little off, C can do some invalid array options, plus other lib calls that don't readily exist in C#. having to find those bugs during run time ... suck. also, trying to un-C it. turning integer flags into booleans, getting rid of the 'goto' statements, etc...


DesktopWeb FormText   bot sdk trade-offsSat, 03 Jun 2006 14:45:21 GMT # 

the Robot Invaders contest presents you with 3 3rd party SDKs to use for building your bots. the summary page doesn't tell you much, and i'm assuming you don't want to do a trade study, so i'll give you a quick rundown.

the simplest SDK is Incesoft. They seem to be a Chinese company, so the forums and docs are a bit choppy ... but still easy to understand. their SDK download is about 200K and the docs are 13 pages. you have to do some setup on their website which isn't too bad either. their servers are used to handle your bots presence, and your app connects to their server. the website allows you to change the bots name, picture, personal message, and add custom emoticons. it comes with a .NET sample that is really easy to understand. in the code you'll be writing, you can send nudges, open web pages in the Activity window, change the dialog preface, and send messages of course. to do more advanced stuff, you need their Enterprise solution ... which costs money. the enterprise version supports multi users, winks, voice clips, shared background, and file transfer. its lame that we only get partial access to MSN functionality for free. anyway, this is the lightest SDK that you should be able to get setup and running the quickest; it's what i used for my 1st bot.

another SDK is by Conversagent. their shining example is the Encarta agent. their SDK is about 40 megs to download and the docs are 385 pages. the SDK installs an IDE which is primarily used for dealing with BuddyScript. BuddyScript is a text format for specifying dialogue. e.g. if the user says 'what time is it', then the correct script will be run to determine the time and return a response to the user. i.e. BuddyScript is like AIML for the AliceBot. if your bot needs to have alot of conversation, then you'll probably choose this option. but if you want to code in C# ... then you won't find any mention of it in their 385 page SDK. so if you don't need BuddyScript for your bot, then i don't see where to point you. personally, i don't want another IDE or to learn some proprietary script language. what is really good about this SDK is they support VoiceClips, winks, backgrounds, contact cards, etc... for free.

the last SDK is the L7 Builder by Akonix. their SDK is 104 megs and they have multiple docs. they do have a doc specifically for developing with .NET and C#. the code might be slightly more complex than Incesoft's, but it also looks like you get some more functionality too. the bad news is their Administrative docs are larger than their developer docs. serious, adminstration looks more complicated than it should be. and the installation had a bunch of crap in it ... including Apache. er, um ... i really don't want to install another web server on my dev machine. and why in the world do i need a web server to develop a bot? what i do really like about these guys is that VoiceXml is an option. but not for doing speech reco and synthesis, just for handling the dialog. speech development is all about having a dialog with the user, and that is what VoiceXml is designed for. to me, it makes much more sense to use VoiceXml (or SALT) instead of BuddyScript. plus there are standardized XML formats for specifying grammars in the speech world.

so that's my quick trade study. their are advantages and disadvantages to each, so it really depends on what you want your bot to do. Incesoft needs to add funcionality while remaining lightweight and simple. Conversagent needs to get me closer to code and make BuddyScript an option, plus lose the IDE. Akonix needs to lose the huge install and simplify administration. but i still can't figure out why MS doesn't have their own bot SDK? they could definitely provide something as lightweight as Incesoft's, while exposing all the features for free. when it comes down to it, it's just about implementing the MSN protocol ... how hard can that be? plus, i would take it more seriously that they want to support bots on MSN.


DesktopWeb FormText   first botFri, 02 Jun 2006 17:41:15 GMT # 

well, i went ahead and threw together another Alice chat bot. right now it's just a real thin wrapper of a chat SDK sitting on top of an AIML implementation. will use this as a test bed for messing with the other SDKs ... so expect downtime. if i come up with a good idea, then i'll definitely make a real entry. nothing useful about it, but kind of fun. her IM is AliceRobot@hotmail.com

took a quick glance at all 3 SDKs. can't say i'm terribly impressed with any of them. they vary significantly in ease of use and functionality provided. i'd really like some insight on why MSN doesn't provide their own SDK?


DesktopWeb FormText   bot invadersFri, 02 Jun 2006 14:12:57 GMT # 

trying to come up with a bot idea for Invasion of the Robots. the odd thing is the bot-building tools are all 3rd party SDKs (there are 3 to choose from). my original assumption would have been that MSN would provide the SDK. instead, you are supposed to use one of the bot SDKs and then mash it up with other MSN services.

er, um ... i actually wrote an MSN bot over 4 years ago : /msnBot. called 'evil mess'. it worked by going to a web page and sending an anonymous IM message to an MSN account. back then, you were able to send messages to an IM user without being on their friends list. so people would send really horrible messages like "your mother ...". the person on the receiving end would be like "who the hell are you?". then the Alice chat bot would kick in and say something like, "I'm Alice". and the conversation would continue. you can read some of the archives at the link above. it wasn't particularly useful ... but it was fun to see what questions people were asking the bot, and also how the bot would answer. the sad news is the bot ended up having for IM friends than me ...


DesktopWeb FormText   article recapThu, 01 Jun 2006 20:25:37 GMT # 

about every 6 months, i try to look back at what happened with my articles to get an idea of market trends. i base alot of this from emails that i receive, links, etc... anyway, it's interesting to me :)

/mceDivX360 got the most links in the quickest amount of time. it was super hot for about 2 weeks, then slowly died down. now it has totally been surpassed by Transcode 360, and doesn't get anymore love.

the set of /mce* articles are getting more usage now. so MCE dev might be becoming more popular. i think this is partly due to XBox 360, Vista, and the new dev paradigms we'll be getting. just today, i had a really interesting email conversation about the last /mceDirectShow article and battling for TV Tuner resources.

the /*WorldWind articles get a decent # of questions. i get about an equal # of emails for WorldWind on the PPC and VirtualEarth for WW.

the articles that are game and 3D related get more questions that expected. it seems that more people are looking at 3D as a visualization technique for their own applications. i blame this on Vista. on the mobile side, we're going to need some devices with better drivers for MD3DM to take off. Live Anywhere should help

some of the old school articles just won't die. /aiCaptcha now gets at least one email every couple weeks asking to break some CAPTCHA ... usually TicketMaster. /ttSpeech and /noReco seem to be favorites for graduate students. /barCode still gets alot of questions.

but what has gone cold? the WS-* articles hardly get any questions. there are some random questions about /cfWSE2 .... but only a few. blame this on WCF. the only Tablet article that gets any emails is about exporting journal notes to SVG ... and that is usually just to say Thanks. blame this on a lack of Tablet SDK enhancements. finally, the only CF article that is still in use is /cfAES, for additional crypto algorithms.


DesktopWeb FormText   quickly revisiting /veWorldWindThu, 01 Jun 2006 01:39:54 GMT # 

both World Wind and Virtual Earth have been updated since releasing the plugin ... so i wanted to see if it still worked. ... and it doesn't. looks like v3 of VE is innocent, but v1.3.5 of WW is the culprit. particularly the TerrainAccessor implementation. saw a post in the forums that confirms that it has been touched. interface hasn't changed, but behavior has. first, it locks up when requesting terrain data from WW servers. second, the returned results aren't as reliable, and i'm getting more flat tiles without terrain data. will have to dig back into the WW code and see how i should be using it now. come to think of it ... i'm not sure i was using it correctly to begin with :)

made some changes in my original code too. fixed a bug in the Update() method to better handle the current tiles and reduce resource usage. also made a change in the Render() method to improve performance and increase fps. if i can get terrain working reliably, then i'll make a small 'point' release.


DesktopWeb FormText   looking for a contractWed, 31 May 2006 04:46:26 GMT # 

last contract ended a couple weeks ago and i took some time off. that's why my XBox 360 gamerscore has been steadily going up. anyway, please contact me by email if you think i might be a good fit. telecommuting is preferred, but i can do some travel. updated resume (word format) is linked from the home page.


DesktopWeb FormText   migrating to asp.net 2.0Mon, 29 May 2006 19:55:34 GMT # 

pretty lame ... i just now moved my web server to run ASP.NET 2.0. reason being is that my TreeView menu broke for no appearant reason. for the last couple weeks it has taken at least 10 seconds for the TreeView to load. er, um ... i have absolutely no clue why this started happening? checked event logs, looked at Fiddler traces ... everything looked fine. nor had i made any recent changes to my server ... it just magically broke. had to be fixed, so i figured i might as well make the jump to 2.0. the first hurdle was the new way VS 2005 handles ASP.NET projects. what a bunch of crap! so i switched over to the new web application project and that worked better. the next problem was that my TreeView is the old school 1.0 MS WebControl ... meaning no longer supported. the code is public, so i bumped that up to 2.0 and extended it a little ... but it still loaded slow. darnit, had to break it more and move to the 2.0 TreeView. the problem here is that the schema is different and i had already extended it. so it took a little time to move to the new schema, and cut out some of the functionality. it's loading a little faster now, but still slower than it used to.

what i really need to do is overhaul my entire server. need to get new hardware, host it on a diff connection, refresh the OS, and scrub the site a little. the problem is that my website is entirely custom and is on its 3rd major revision. it's a pain to carry forward all the custom functionality to each new version. and the real problem is i only care about the website when i'm off contract.


DesktopWeb FormText   comment spammedSun, 28 May 2006 22:28:44 GMT # 

the site has been getting hit with comment spam lately. this is odd, because i have a custom comments engine. so somebody is either doing it manually or they actually wrote code to automate it. based on the data, it looks like at least part of it was automated. how flattering. somebody felt my site was popular enough to warrant spam ... er, um ... it's not. it looks like the automated spam begain 1/14/06 ... the day after the /mceDivX360 article. hmm ... that article got more links than any other i've written. anyway, that article was only popular for about a month ... it's no longer cool.

so my blogs first line of defense was to use a different engine and not be popular. that worked great for 2 years ... but now what? i'm still anti-CAPTCHA. instead, i've opted for moderation. comments will still show up instantly, but i can then use another page to delete the crap later on. that'll let me delete the manual posts. but that doesn't keep them from hammering me with automated posts. to help with that i've made some other simple changes that should break their current tool. if they fix it, then i can easily break it more ...


DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : pat robertson 2K leg pressSat, 27 May 2006 15:12:28 GMT # 

Bill Ryan pointed me to this article : (Pat) Robertson Says He Leg-Pressed 2,000 Pounds. as a muscle-head ... i know a bit about leg press. first, there is a video of him attempting "1000" pounds ... but it's not really 1000 lbs ... because people suck at math. 12 45 lb plates, 4 100 lb plates, and a 40-45 lb sled does not add up to 1000. but since he's an old man ... we'll round up. in the powerlifting world ... you don't. alot of powerlifters don't count the sled because they vary so much by weight. second, he's on a medium difficulty leg press machine. the leg presses that pivot are easier, and there is another kind that is more difficult. on a pivot machine, i (rough) estimate being able to do about 25% more than on the kind he is on. third, his feet are in the easy position. in the video, the news lady has her feet on the lower part of the sled ... much harder. fourth, his form sucks. he hardly lowers the sled at all and he is using his arms to push on his knees. er, um ... that is cheating. you can do alot more weight when you cheat and don't go through the full range of motion. a personal trainer wouldn't count any of those as a real lift. anyway, if he was at my gym, i'd tell him to lower the weight and do (alot) better form. he'd get more out of it.

but the video was of 1000 pounds ... what about 2000. too bad there is only an article about that lift. it says that the leg press machine was loaded with 2000 lbs. this is challenging, because its hard to find a leg press to hold that much. alot of leg presses only hold about 1000 lbs. if you want more, then you have to rest an olympic bar on the sled. the problem is standard olympic bars will have problems with 1000 lbs, they start to bend at 400 and could break at 1000. its a good idea to get a special olympic bar to hold more when you get around 700+. so he could have also set dumbbells on the sled too ... and possibly got to 2000. the picture actually kind of looks like this is what's being done. finally, you can ask people to sit on top of the sled ... preferrably hot chicks. anyway, i've been to alot of gyms and have never seen that much loaded on a sled before. the monsters that i've seen usually load it up to about 1250 and then do more reps ... with decent form. the other part is that the spotters lowered "it (sled) down on Mr. Robertson". er, um ... if you can't lower it yourself ... then you're not going to be able to lift it. i have never seen anybody do a leg press like that. spotters usually help you lift the weight ... not lower it. maybe they lowered it down to the first safety stop and he pushed from there? lame. next, his form was already horrible on 1000 lbs. if you have crappy form to begin with, it's only going to get worse as you add more weight. maybe he only lowered it about an inch and then pushed it back up. finally, we already know he can't add.

from the ridiculous amounts of times i've spent at gyms, i've seen 1000+ leg presses multiple times. probably 10 to 20 different people over 15 years of lifting. i've never seen anybody do over 1500 lbs. my personal best on a sled is about 1250 lbs ... lowering my knees to touch my chest and without putting my hands on my knees. on a pivot sled, i've done the same (with more reps). the problem with pivot sleds is you can do more weight, but its even harder to add extra weight to them. when i did the 1250 on a regular sled ... it was tough. that's alot of pressure on the body, and i actually blew out a blood vessel in my eye, so my whole eye was red. and when you do good form, it puts alot of strain on your low back. er, um ... so i never tried to do more. could i do 2000 lbs with the same bad form he is doing 1000 lbs in the video? i've never tried ... but probably. i would guess that at least 3 different people at my small gym could. but to what end? anyway, from the video, we know that Robertson can do 1000 lbs with horrible form. that is great for an old man, but you have to be skeptical about the 2000 lb mark. of course, if you are watching the 700 Club ... then you are not skeptical ...


DesktopWeb FormText   PS3 homebrew?Tue, 16 May 2006 14:51:07 GMT # 

E3: Kawanishi Talks Homebrew Linux PS3 Development ... awesome! er, um ... i would actually buy a PSP if they wouldn't keep locking out homebrew with firmware updates. anyway, i hope that the PS3 gets homebrew to encourage MS to do the same with the 360. MS might already be heading down this path with its XNA work ... at least i hope they are. managed code on the 360 would be perfect for this, by leveraging code access security to make sure the homebrew apps didn't do anything malicious.


DesktopWeb FormText   contest updatesTue, 16 May 2006 03:56:26 GMT # 

lost VE Madness. Congrats to Denny! on one hand, i figured my entry would not win because it wasn't using the SDK proper. on the other hand, i thought the WW plugin had a chance.

also found out that my MadeInExpress idea didn't qualify for a finalist position. not going to share my idea, but i was getting excited to write that app. wondering why it didn't make the cut ... might still end up writing it.

all bad news lately. oh well


DesktopWeb FormText   question : tripod mountable webcams?Mon, 15 May 2006 02:19:04 GMT # 

i'm having problems finding a current webcam that can be mounted to standard tripod screw. Creative's email support just wrote me that none of their webcams have it ... er, um ... why not? i don't know if any of the Logitech cameras do? HP and Philips are back in the market too, but i don't see any tripod mounts. maybe the new MS cams will have them? anyway, the old webcams used to have them ... and i have no clue why that went away? the $100+ pan/zoom cams should definitely have a mount ... but they don't.

please shoot me an email if you know of a popular webcam that has a tripod mount. or if you know of some other way to mount a webcam to a tripod ... maybe a generic clip or something?


DesktopWeb FormText   media center gamingFri, 12 May 2006 03:32:17 GMT # 

was brainstorming a bit about Live Anywhere. one of the demos that MS showed was mobile, but i think this will also open up gaming for MCE. especially since the xbox 360 wireless controllers will be usable on a PC. hopefully the xbox live button will open up the gaming dashboard on a PC. live anywhere will add friends, marketplace, arcade, etc... this might compel me to bring the MCE machine back into the living room. MCE with live anywhere could easily be a great platform for casual gamers, and if live anywhere is complete then it could possibly be a competitor for the hardcore gamers

and i'm dying to find out if the HD-DVD can be used on a PC ... especially MCE. then MCE could handle playback with the remote. that would probably be the tipping point for me to purchase one. that, or if it has some way to handle HDCP ...

one interesting vid i saw showed dual 360 vision cameras being used for gesture reco including depth perception. doubt anybody will push that feature into a game just because its not likely for consumers to purchase 2 cameras ... but it is cool


DesktopWeb FormText   360 gesture recoThu, 11 May 2006 00:23:13 GMT # 

360 Gets Gesture Control Technology. sweet! i hope these gesture libraries make it into DirectX proper. they should ... to support the Live Anywhere initiative.

also saw that there is a PC receiver for using the 360 wireless accessories on a PC. this makes sense for Live Anywhere, because then you could have people playing on different systems (PC and console), but playing with the same controller. e.g. matchmaking based on controllers so that they mouse keyboard lovers don't have an advantage. hmm ... i wonder if that means a mouse/keyboard will make its way over to the 360?


DesktopWeb FormText   MS announcementsWed, 10 May 2006 02:34:12 GMT # 

the wireless racing adapter was a surprise; but i'd still rather have a wireless arcade controller, especially with all the arcade games coming. was also really hoping they had some answer to the motion sensing controller craze. glad that there will be a fully wireless headset too ... now if they would just start baking speech recognition into the games. that'd provide for more intuitive control. really wanted to see some sort of demo with the camera. regarding the HD DVD player, i'm still holding out to see if it can connect to a PC and if there is some way to support HDMI. glad that Live Anywhere was announced, but it was kind of obvious this was going to happen from the XNA announcements at GDC. now i'm just waiting for them to open up the developer program ... so i can get a foot in. cant believe a larger harddrive wasn't announced ...


DesktopWeb FormText   Nintendo announcementsTue, 09 May 2006 18:22:50 GMT # 

i'll need to try one out to know for sure, but the Wiimote concept is entirely cool. the depth of sound provided by the speaker on Wiimote is awesome. combined with rubmle, that'll be very immersive. glad the nunchuck has its own motion sensing built-in, but i really dislike that the nunchuck is wired to the wiimote. the odd thing is that the wiimote is the only thing i find compelling about the console ...


DesktopWeb FormText   ps3 announcementsTue, 09 May 2006 14:47:09 GMT # 

i really liked the EyeToy card game and using the PSP as an F1 wing mirror ... slick. although i do like Nintendo's Wii-mote, i don't like the basic motion sensing built into the PS3 controller. the 2-handed form factor is bad. nor would i want to give up vibration for motion sensing. hoping to hear more about its media related capabilities ...


DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : mid cycleSun, 07 May 2006 19:56:33 GMT # 

at the mid point of a 45 day cycle. i'm mostly liking the new workout routine. doing 2 days on, 1 day off, 2 on, 1 off : chest/abs, legs, off, back/traps, arms/shoulders, off. my previous workout was 4 days a week : off, chest/triceps, off, heavy legs, off, back/biceps, light legs. so my arms and shoulders are getting more attention than they are used to, and they are growing ... serious. to change up chest workouts i'm doing alot more flys. they are absolutely ripping me apart, but i'm not noticing any growth yet. back might be growing a little? the bad thing is that my legs aren't getting as much attention, so they don't seem to be doing much either. the problem with that is the lower body is where most of the meat is for upping the metabolism, so i'm still not shedding any fat. even though my upper-upper body is gaining lean muscle, that's not going to do much. going to complete this cycle as-is; but if i repeat, then i'll have to replace the arm workout with a leg workout every other week. until then, i'm going to add some light morning cardio to try and jumpstart the metabolism. an overall change is the number of reps. i'm doing a minimum of 8 to 10 reps each set (opposed to 5 for powerlifting). this was kicking my butt at 1st because i was getting seriously beat by lactic acid buildup; but the body seems to be getting used to it. strength-wise, my strength is going up. at least its getting closer to where it was last December. but the good news is the joints are holding up.

for supplements, i can't say that endothil-cr is doing anything for me. it might be working, but i'm not noticing unusual strength gain or recovery times. i can't say CellTech is doing anything for me either, although i do think i like it better than NO-Explode/CellMass (probably because the serving size is bigger). but i don't think i like it that much better for the increased price. there are only 2 pre-workout supplements that i've ever liked. 1) Andro poppers (which you can't buy anymore). those would make me an animal for 1 to 2 hours. 2) GNC Effervescent creatine (which i think is discontinued). there was something about that effervescent action which triggered my body to get ready to workout. just hearing it would trigger an endorphin release. that stuff was great. for post-workout formulas, i haven't ever found anything that i thought was great.


DesktopWeb FormText   xbox E3 wish listSun, 07 May 2006 18:39:05 GMT # 

(in no particular order)

Media :
more codecs (e.g. DivX/XviD)
more movie trailers
more music videos
video sharing from non-MCE PCs
MCE/media related gamer pics
more details about DirecTV partnership
MCE keyboard compatibility
ability to play sound effects from 3rd party MCE apps
a remote that uses same wireless protocol as wireless controllers
ability to play more than 100 audio tracks in game

Hardware :
bigger harddrive
wireless arcade stick
competitor to Wii's remote controller
announce more certified wireless devices
announce future 802.11n wireless adapter
HomePlug networking compatibility
ability for HD-DVD to be used for games
portable XBox in works
dongle for wireless controllers on a PC
fully wireless headsets
better quality headsets

Marketplace :
demos for every game
trailers for every game (including arcade)
shorter duration between arcade releases
background downloading
ability to queue downloads for later
more ways to sort/filter content
ability to buy gamer points from xbox.com
dashboard preview for themes / gamer pics
dont put demo arcade games in played games list

Developers :
open up XBox developer community
more XNA announcements about managed code

Games :
backwards compat for all platinum hits
more games for kids (for the nephews)
more games that aren't 1st person shooters


DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : death by iPodSat, 06 May 2006 15:44:09 GMT # 

[this actually happened a couple weeks ago, and i'm only posting because i see that the portable mp3 market is set for more growth] iPods are popular at gyms. but i generally dislike them. ok, let me clarify, i dislike the people wearing the iPods. the problem is i have to periodically ask people to spot me on certain lifts ... for safety. and when i ask an iPod person, they generally act annoyed that they have to take out their earphones. of course they don't act annoyed when they come and ask me for a spot ...

i'm not a spotter hog, i only ask when i really think i'm going to need one. so i was bench pressing the other day and had gone through a couple of good sets. wasn't doing alot of weight, so i didn't have a spotter. but on my 4th set my arms just gave out (instantly). tried to get the weight racked, but couldn't quite make it, so i slowly lowered it down to my chest ... and then i was pinned. argh ... haven't been pinned in years. there was no chance of being crushed and i could have rolled it to the side and squirmed out if necessary; so mostly i just looked like an idiot. so i say 'help' ... nobody comes. look to the left and see a guy. say 'Help'. still no reaction, because he can't hear me ... iPod boy. turn to the right, another guy. 'Help'. no reaction ... another iPod. crap. look behind me and a girl (100 lbs max) is walking by. 'Help'. no iPod, so she hears me and gets one of the iPod guys and they both help me rack the weight. absolutely embarrassing :(


DesktopWeb FormText   direction change (again)Fri, 05 May 2006 16:29:58 GMT # 

been full bore on MCE for more than a year now. well ... it's time to change things up. at least my confidence is high enough for developing on that platform to walk away for a bit. but what is next?

the plan, from over a year ago, is that i would be moving into telematics right now. the problem with moving into this space is the initial hardware hurdle. not to mention my car isn't in great shape right now. so i'm in a holding pattern. i'm watching hybrid cars, not so much for gas savings, but for super quiet cabs to handle speech recognition. also wanting solid state storage to improve. Origami devices look compelling in this space too, but i might wait for v2. plus SAPI 5.3 with Vista needs to at least make it to Beta 2. [related] somebody please tell me that that the WinFX SDK is not being help up by the Vista delays! at least all the pillars have made it to go live ... but are they going to stay there for 7+ months?

another (unexpected) idea was to move into game development. kind of came to this from 2 directions : looking at Direct3D for advanced visualization for applications (e.g. WorldWind) and from reading about AI (which is a perfect fit for games). this would be fun, but i'm not excited about the little i've heard about the game industry. sounds like longer hours and lower wages ... yuck. that still leaves casual games, but i totally lack the artistic ability and would suck at game design in general too. my current stance is to only consider experimenting with developing non-standard games (e.g. /cameraFlow). this is also in a holding pattern until the XBox 360 can run managed code ... and i get the keys to develop for it

also considered past tech concentrations. 1) i started out on the web during the bubble. no kidding, i actually used to like the web. but i see Web 2.0 as a bunch of piecemail crap. can't imagine that developers are really liking that space, other than for the money being there. so this is on hold until the Semantic Web, or the current web standards get a proper redesign. 2) web services are following the same path as the visual web. POX has the advantage of being simple, but is seriously lacking for advanced scenarios. and the advanced stuff is the only bits i find interesting. my main disappoint with web services is that UDDI and standard schemas never caught hold. guess that i'm waiting for that to revive, or semantic web services. long live hailstorm! 3) the Tablet PC has become a highly valuable development tool. i use it all the time, but am not compelled to develop new apps for it. the SDK just hasn't offered up anything new for a while. the form factor for Origami gets me excited again, but the v1 devices have brought me down. also waiting for Vista to bring new full sized slates to the market. 4) Compact Framework v2 has added some nice functionality, but not enough for me to dive back in. i am keeping a look out for the Micro Framework (SPOT). the slow adoption of high speed networks are also holding me back a bit ... but its getting better. 5) location. is there ever going to be a new location server? and i'd like to see VirtualEarth provide an API to support non-web apps (e.g. /veWorldWind). 6) Speech has the momentum right now. a new Speech Server beta is in the works and SAPI 5.3 is coming with Vista. both of those have me excited. does Vista still have a natural language processing namespace? but i still need MS to outline its plans for multimodal with IE7 and mobile devices. MS also needs to get a programmable version of SAPI to WindowsMobile devices. 7) AI. i definitely want to revisit using AI for application development. talk about a rabbit hole. would love for MS research to start providing some low level building blocks. e.g. get us a managed wrapper over OpenCV, or how about a generic neural network / genetic algorithm class library.

also techs i've never concentrated on. 1) Biztalk. there is a local user group starting up, so i'll at least take a look at it. 2) SqlServer. of course i've used databases before, even designed some simple ones ... but i just know the basics. storing and retrieving data is just so boring to me. i know there is money here, but if i made this jump it would probably suck the joy of programming right out of me. 3) Grid computing. this would be fun, but collecting the amount of hardware to do something interesting doesn't fit a minamilist lifestyle. 4) RFID. isn't MS working on an RFID platform? thought this was supposed to go to beta last thanksgiving ... i want to hear more about this. and i want a dev kit.

... what am i missing? what other technologies / platforms / verticals should i be considering?

so that was my thought process. i definitely see Speech apps starting to consume more of my spare time. but i haven't committed to it yet. because there is another (unmentioned) late entry which i'm going to try and kick around too. accidentally picked up a # its prerequisites from previous projects. anyway, it's got me excited too. plus it'll be a challenge. right now i'm in the process of collecting learning material, seeing what has already been done, and seeing where i can put a foot in. at least i 'think' i can already recreate some of the existing (intro) stuff


DesktopWeb FormText   FSM saved me from bible beaterWed, 03 May 2006 20:01:39 GMT # 

the doorbell just rang, and i wasn't expecting anybody. there is a lady at the door, 30 something. she apologizes for disturbing me and then asks to share a scripture from the bible. i say 'NO' (capitalized, because i said it loud). she asks if i'm interested in the bible. my answer was to point to the shirt i was wearing, which just so happened to be an FSM shirt! she looked confused ... but she left.

of course, if a door-to-door atheist (they don't exist) ever came to my door, then i'd send them away too.


DesktopWeb FormText   new article : /mceDirectShowMon, 01 May 2006 20:18:11 GMT # 

/mceDirectShow is my 1st cut at programming with DirectShow. it uses the DirectShowNet C# wrapper to work against MCE Tuners (analog) for FM and TV functionality. figured that i needed to learn DirectShow to be able to write more interesting apps for Vista MCE.

don't know what's up yet, but my server seems to be dying ...


DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : supplementsMon, 01 May 2006 16:21:09 GMT # 

the pic below is my supplement counter for this cycle. it's been empty for the last 4 months i've been recovering. but this is what it looks like fully stocked. i don't take all of these on the same day, some of them them won't be used until next cycle, or until i get back into better shape. and i usually only take half the suggested amount, so most of these will last me about 2 months. but this is what the supplement routine looks like at its peak. i don't take any of the performance enhancing supplements on off days :

morning : egg protein in morning with added glutamine powder. animal pak multivitamins. joint care.
after lunch : protein blend. aminos.
before workout : cell-tech with additional creatine. endothil-cr. joint care.
after workout : cell-tech with additional creatine. whey protein. aminos.
before bed : casein protein with additional glutamine. zma. joint care.

this cycle's experiements are cell-tech, and endothil-cr. cell-tech is more expensive than i'd like, but the no-explode/cell mass combo didn't seem to do much for me. endothil-cr is more interesting (also expensive). but the most interesting part is that it forces me to switch up my workout routine. which introduces another variable ... is it really the supplement or is it the workout change? it's probably the workout change, but spending the money sort of forces me to change up the workout. anyway, i'm giving it a shot


DesktopWeb FormText   XE104 85 Mbps Wall-Plugged EthernetSat, 29 Apr 2006 16:38:34 GMT # 

this was my latest attempt to get a decent connection between my MCE notebook and XBox 360. they are pricey ... and almost worth it. even though it says not to use them on a PowerStrip ... i did (for one of the adapters), and it worked just fine. compared its speeds when it wasn't on the powerstrip, and there wasn't any loss. downloads from MS.com were about 5x's faster than what i get wireless and BitTorrent downloads were 2 to 3 times faster. web browsing seemed just a bit snappier. granted, this will vary as you move from room to room. SMTP, NNTP, VOIP, streaming audio/video all seemed to work fine (with limited testing). the only problem i had was with getting my MCE box to recognize the XBox 360 ... it won't work. there is some networking bug, that a version 1.6 firmware is supposed to fix ... but it looks like people on the NetGear forums have been waiting up to 4 months for that patch. anyway, if they would get that fixed, then i would definitely recommend giving these a try. but since people have been waiting 4 months, i'll be returning these ... because that doesn't instill much faith in a quick fix. the price could stand to come down too. there has also been a press release that 200 Mbps adapters are in the works too. i think that is the HomePlug AV spec, while these are the HomePlug 1.0 spec?


DesktopWeb FormText   down on booksSun, 23 Apr 2006 14:42:31 GMT # 

one of the really surprising thing from last years budget reports was the significant drop in money i spent on books. in 02 i spent $1500, $3000 in 03, $2000 in 04, and only $1000 in 05. and up to now for this year ... $25 ... and those were tax prep books. 03 was a spike because i didn't work much that year. and 05 is down some because i worked all the time. but it's more than just that. for one, the books that the stores carry just don't do it for me anymore. i still go to barnes and noble frequently, but its usually just to get out of the house and/or to grab some coffee. i always browse the computer books, but very few books have been jumping out at me. it's like i've gone too niche and people rarely write niche books, because who's going to buy them? another thing is that i seem to have reached some critical mass for niche technologies. generally like to concentrate on some technology, beat it up, then move on to something else. then i just keep an eye on the previous technologies to see what changes. now that i've touched so many APIs and stuff is constantly being updated, it becomes a significant time synch just to keep up with those APIs. which seems to be taking away the most time from book reading. anyway, i need to make it a point to read more books about technologies i don't know.


DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : bodybuildingSat, 22 Apr 2006 03:41:27 GMT # 

going to change my workouts significantly. instead of doing a powerlifting workout, i'm going to do more of a bodybuilding style. concentrating on size vs strength. hopefully this will result in a reduction of injuries. i've tried to do bodybuilding workouts a couple of times now ... and failed each time. i always slip back into powerlifting, so this will be just as much of a mental challenge as it is physical. will just have to keep in mind that i don't need to hurt myself. physically, bodybuilding workouts are radically different than powerlifting. i'll have to pay more attention to form and flexing. mental energy for concentration has to be high. also, i'll have to increase the # of reps and sets that i do. but i can't reduce the weight too much, or it won't force any growth. then, the workouts will focus more on individual body parts and hitting them at diff angles instead of just major muscle groups. the end result is that i could get bigger than ever, but not be as strong as i've ever been. that's a common misconception, size doesn't mean strength and strength doesn't mean size. and i've learned a # of things since my last run : 1) i've overtrained for most of my life 2) haven't been getting enough protein 3) my frame can carry more weight 4) don't heal like i used to

my last 'brawn' post recorded my current strength assessment. but strength is secondary for this routine. so i've also taken some horrid 'before' pictures (damn i'm ugly). also took body part measurements (definitely the gayest thing i've ever done). but this'll give me some objective numbers to compare against


DesktopWeb FormText   DirectShow hurdlesThu, 20 Apr 2006 05:43:24 GMT # 

back to kicking around DirectShow. got video to work fine with my dual TV tuner. can find an available tuner if MCE is already using one. it's definitely tricky trying to find an available tuner without messing up a tuner that is already in use. DirectShow definitely needs to be updated to make this easier. right now you have to attempt to use the graph, and run it ... if it doesn't exception, then it's not in use. er, um ... 'exception logic' is crap! MCE could play nicer too. if my app is using a tuner and then MCE needs a tuner, MCE just stomps all over my apps settings. this happens with 2 different brands of MCE USB tuners. i'd prefer if MCE would share tuners better, or if the tuner drivers handled this. speaking of drivers ... i've got problems there too. can't get my dual tuner to play audio ... video only. but if i switch over to the single USB tuner that i've got, its audio works great. really, both of the USB tuners i have are branded as MCE tuners ... you'd think they'd have better drivers ... at least that is what i thought :(


DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : start of cycleThu, 20 Apr 2006 00:42:57 GMT # 

this is just to mark my current state. bodyweight is under 250. carrying too much fat but still have a decent amount of muscle mass. muscle size is deflated. workouts have been mostly maintenance for the last 4 months and have laid off supplements during that time. not supplementing properly for so long was a bad idea. injuries are healed but strength is dropping. cardio and energy levels need work. leg curl/extension strength is high, but squat is down. ab strength is ok, but endurance is weak. low back is not so great since my gym broke the machine with a pad that doesn't have the nut-smashing avoidance-gap. tricep and back strength is ok, but chest and biceps are low (odd combinations). it's unusual for my legs to maintain strength better than my upper body.

the good news is i didn't drop everything, so i should be able to kick up the intensity and get back to where i was pretty quickly. being able to squat again will have tremendous effects.


DesktopWeb FormText   taxesSun, 16 Apr 2006 16:19:38 GMT # 

file my own taxes. which i often question whether this a good idea or not. the thought was that i should do my own business taxes for the first years so that it would force me to learn a bit about them. to that end ... it has worked. little by little, it has made me change my spending habits, usage of cash vs debit cards, keep receipts and records, log work activity, retirement, etc... but now i'm getting to the point where i'm ready to get an accountant to do all this crap. the complexity is absolutely ridiculous. another complaint has to do with health insurance. as a business owner i can write that off 100%. but i can't write off preventative solutions like a gym membership or supplements. with the fattening of america, this needs to change. but the biggest mismatch is i don't have a desire to spend money. i don't like owning 'stuff'. but the tax laws basically force me to buy more 'stuff' so i can deduct it. oh well ... guess i need to go find some more stuff to 'want'


DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : my gym sucksSat, 15 Apr 2006 20:56:16 GMT # 

crap, my gym is closed for easter weekend. and it looks like its closed all next week for repairs! this sucks, because i had spent the last week getting back into a supplement routine and had upped the intensity of the workouts. of course they are still taking my money for monthly dues ...


DesktopWeb FormText   the god who wasnt thereSat, 15 Apr 2006 19:27:42 GMT # 

this is a great documentary for an atheist audience. me watching it is like a creationist watching Dr. Dino. while when i watch Dr. Dino, it makes great comedy. but if creationists were to watch 'the god who wasn't there', then i doubt they would be laughing. anyway, i certainly learned some more things about jesus. it was only an hour, but the extra commentary is also an hour, and is worth watching.

anyway, it was more along the lines of what i think national geographics 'science of the bible' series should be like. more skeptical. but 'science of the bible' tries to play to both audiences. too often it follows the pattern of saying the literal bible is not likely (or impossible), but then they provide some alternate (but similar) explanation. give the believers just enough to keep on believing, and keep the skeptics skeptical. e.g. one of the last episodes i saw tried to explain moses parting the red sea. some of the ideas were tsunamis, magma flow, and wind. serious, the wind guy had a leaf blower ... it was absolutely ridiculous. if i would have been there in person i would have had to slap the guy. national geographic shows are generally much more skeptical when it comes to non-religous subjects. i know the political climate we live in ... but give me a break.


DesktopWeb FormText   kittenAuth is cute, but thats allSat, 15 Apr 2006 03:36:06 GMT # 

so i'm tired of hearing about KittenAuth. here are ways to beat it : 1) object recognition, which actually processes an image and tries to determine if the image contains a kitten (the AI guys are getting better with this). 2) image fingerprinting, either based on file or image content (this is easy). 3) social engineering, provide free porn and somebody will crack it for you (easy). 4) amazon mechanical turk, for cheap labor. 5) bot guessing, combined with image fingerprinting, because 1 out of 84 means nothing to a bot (or team of bots).

the weakness is the # of images. right now it only has something like 32 images. if you read the comments regarding it somebody already hashed all those images and manually marked the ones as kitten. so consider the sample beaten. the way to make it tougher is to throw in tons of images. search for 'kittens' on images.google.com shows 370K results. lets say he gets 630K non kitten images, making it a total of 1 million images. then i'd have a bot request the KittenAuth images. 1 out of 84 times, it would guess right and then it would fingerprint the kitten and non-kitten images. if the images get skewed, to make fingerprinting harder, then it would use image processing techniques to help with this (just like CAPTCHA crackers do today). after many rounds of this, the bot will start knowing some of the images, improving its chances of guessing correctly. so its guessing will get better and better until ultimately it knows the entire image database. to speed things up, for images it does not know, it could present those to humans to label as kitten or non kitten. which is a quick process. they could also increase the # of kitten images you must choose, once again, a bot does not care, but at some point you piss off your actual users (just like CAPTCHA does today). and guessing can always be improved from the beginning. the bot can determine the main object in the image and determine its color and body position. for new images it can see if they have a similar color or body position, e.g ruling out animals that dont have similar body styles or color markings.

the thing to realize is that ultimately we run out of being able to do things better than a computer. you can brute force most of these things today, and supplement it with human training. e.g. speech/ink/character recognition are all very usable today. so computers can already handle our sense of hearing very well. they've got things to sniff out bomb materials ... i can't do that. vision is harder, but the AI guys are getting better. e.g. face recognition. someday the robot in your home will have to recognize humans and even your pet kittens. and someday a human brain will be modeled in a computer. then CAPTCHA, KittenAuth, etc... are all meaningless. the act of designing a test that a human can do and a computer will not is like trying to build a perpetual motion machine. er, um ... the singularity is near.


DesktopWeb FormText   the media center showThu, 13 Apr 2006 15:06:03 GMT # 

hey, i was invited to be a guest on Ian Dixon's Media Center Show. this was really cool, because it is the first podcast that i started listening to.

some revisions : 1) replace anywhere i say LED with LCD (stupid stupid). 2) you don't have to 'install' the Speech SDK for the IE Speech Add-In, but you do have to 'download' the SDK, and just install the IE Speech Add-In. 3) when i question the future of 'SALT', it should really be questioning the future of 'multimodal SALT'. the recent Speech Server press releases were quiet on the multimodal front. 4) it has been announced that MCML can be served from the web (great news). 5) would have said the word 'definitely' less :)


DesktopWeb FormText   ahh ... Trackball ExplorerTue, 11 Apr 2006 02:38:41 GMT # 

was getting better with the Logitech Optical TrackMan, but wasn't loving it. then i get a package in the mail from my parents, and they had shipped me my original Trackball Explorer (v1.0)! must have retired it when v1.1 came out, which is the one that died on me a couple months ago. anyway ... it ROCKS! i can actually feel my productivity increasing. thanks Mom and Dad :) but stop reading my blog ... it's not fit for parents


DesktopWeb FormText   windows on mac?Fri, 07 Apr 2006 04:35:03 GMT # 

i don't get it ... what's the big deal? looking at it from 3 perspectives : software, hardware, culture. software) why should i want/need the MacOS? Microsoft supports developers WAY better. hardware) this provides more hardware that i can run windows on. more choices and competition is good, but none of their notebooks are standing out as being anything special. if i ever buy a notebook primarily because it 'looks cool' ... then kick my ass. culture) the last taste i got of the Apple community was from the /backRow article ... and they were a bunch of assholes. so i'm not interested in having anything in common with those fanboys. er, um ... what am i missing?


DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : separate church from gymFri, 07 Apr 2006 00:05:33 GMT # 

still going to the gym, but also still slacking. sounding like a puss ... i just haven't felt like pushing heavy weight. i think this is partially due to the string of injuries i had at the end of last year, as well as i haven't been eating/supplementing properly. but now its time for a change. my home gym is a YMCA, and they are getting all god'ed up for spring. there used to just be a bible quote on the wall as soon as you walk in ... but that was it. now there are bible quotes hanging from the ceiling in the cardio room and banners with more quotes in the workout area. recently they added a huge wooden cross in the lobby ... i shit you not. yes, i know what YMCA stands for, but give me a break. if it wasn't the only decent gym in my area, i would be somewhere else ... because i'd rather not be giving them my money. this basically forces me to get big again, so i can start wearing darwin workout shirts. my version of militant atheism. injuries are healed and the supplement order has been placed.


DesktopWeb FormText   multimodalThu, 06 Apr 2006 22:38:43 GMT # 

Marty pointed to this post saying that "multimodal apps are no longer supported in Speech Server". so that kills off the scenario of Pocket IE (with Speech Add-In) connecting to Speech Server over WiFi (e.g. /speechMulti). that's not too bad because WiFi-only was really limiting. nor does it rule out the 'Pocket IE Professional' rumor, that could do the speech reco/synthesis locally on a PPC without having to use Speech Server. but in the long run, i'd prefer to have programmatic access to VoiceCommand or some version of SAPI on WindowsMobile in CF apps. still no word on if multimodal apps will continue with the Speech SDK and desktop IE Add-In (Speech Server is not needed in this scenario either).


DesktopWeb FormText   why i've been learning WorldWindThu, 06 Apr 2006 02:56:00 GMT # 

because i've been wanting to write something exactly like this in-car demo. this one is using Google Earth/Maps/Local. of course mine will be NASA WorldWind and Virtual Earth (/veWorldWind). the fly-through directions is the main feature i wanted to get in but had to cut based on time. and the traffic reports are the only thing i don't know where to get data from, but is why i was looking into RDS last month. the ultimate would be VE's bird's eye imagery, but i'm not sure if that is feasible yet? could throw in some speech reco/synthesis too. the hardware i'm looking at to write this on is a dockable UMPC.


DesktopWeb FormText   logitech optical trackManWed, 05 Apr 2006 22:54:45 GMT # 

this seems to be the only decent trackball currently on the market. i love that it is right-handed finger driven (opposed to symmetrical thumb driven). the left button placement is fine, forward and back buttons are ok, and the right button sucks (should be further from trackball and moved forward a little). but the scroll wheel should be placed closer to the trackball. it also has some other buttons that i'm still unsure about. it's a step down from the MS Trackball Explorer, but much more usable than anything else i've tried so far.

from shopping around, i actually have hope for the near future. i'm glad that MS is going to license some of its hardware IP to other vendors (e.g. tilt wheel and magnify). i'd like to see that functionality make it to a trackball. and it looks like HP and Philips are getting more aggressive in the mouse market, so maybe they will make some trackballs! because it's ridiculous how many different mice there are, but there are only a handful of average trackballs.


DesktopWeb FormText   speech server announcementWed, 05 Apr 2006 22:41:03 GMT # 

[via Sprague's Weblog] the introduction of VoiceXml is boring to me. wrote an ASP.NET + VXML article 4.5 years ago (/vxml). just think of it like ASP.NET server controls being able to render HTML or WML depending on the device. if you can learn SALT or VoiceXML, then you can easily learn the other. the line about introducing a powerful API for low level access to core Speech Server funtionalities ... now that sounds hot! native VOIP support is hot too. if that means i can run Speech Server on my own server and make a VOIP call into it without having to put the server on the PSTN ... then that makes the technology more available to me. i'm assuming this means a telephony board would not be required either? all the business intelligence stuff looks cool too, but would be lost on me. plus Richard mentions improved reco accuracy ... which is incredible because i was already impressed by the last version.

that is the good news ... but what does the press release fail to mention ... multimodal! is multimodal dead? if not, then when does IE (and Pocket IE) have a SALT/VXML browser built-in? also cant wait for them to release some more language packs


DesktopWeb FormText   don't muck up XBox 360 achievementsWed, 05 Apr 2006 01:24:53 GMT # 

i've earned achievements in 3 different XBox 360 games now, and not received the achievement(s). the most frustrating one was geometry wars. earned the 250K survival and 250K high score on the same run, and it didn't save the achievement because it said i wasn't signed in. the odd thing is i really was signed in, but it didn't transfer over to the game somehow? nor did GeoWars give me the chance to sign in once it found out i wasn't. forget what the other game was, but it didn't give me the achievement because i was traveling with the XBox and didn't have it hooked up to an internet connection. the game really should have cached that i got the achievement and then pushed it up to XBox live once i got back home. also started playing PDZ this weekend, and it's even worse. first, it has problems figuring out that i'm signed in when it firsts starts up. this seems to be caused by having multiple controllers. second, it seems to get the stats right, but doesn't save them correctly. checking the forums, there are tons of posts regarding this. anyway, these have been my most negative experience with the XBox 360. it really pisses me off. this is even more frustrating than the couple times my 360 has locked, and the couple gameplay bugs i've run across. so my hope is that MS and game developers put more quality checks in for handling of achievements.


DesktopWeb FormText   how to become an MVPTue, 04 Apr 2006 23:08:49 GMT # 

i might have a unique perspective having seen 3 different groups now. the main thing is to contribute to the community. haven't been around that long, but it used to be mainly through newsgroup participation. since then, it's been opened up (e.g. i don't newsgroup that much). now you can get in through a # of different means : forums, blogs, user groups, author, web casts, etc... you can do this as either a developer or supporting end users. my niche is to try and provide mid to advanced developer articles with code. but the main thing is to help build/support the community. if you are a total stud and know everything about a technology, but don't share ... then you won't be an MVP. but it's not just about quantity, quality also matters. i've seen some MVPs that answer a TON of basic questions, and others that contribute less but take on harder problems. but that still doesn't mean you will get in ... because your contributions have to be noticed (i.e. there were a couple of years where i thought that i had a chance, but didn't get in). and this is just one instance of where each group is entirely different. i've seen groups where the product groups handle it. another group asked the existing MVPs who they thought deserved it. and another group was entirely silent on the matter ... i have no clue what they did? and if you are contributing, then your name will eventually come up. but getting your foot in the door is definitely the hardest part. once in, you can definitely be dropped, but it seems easier to get renewed.


DesktopWeb FormText   MVPTue, 04 Apr 2006 19:16:20 GMT # 

yea! now i'm a MediaCenter MVP. this was actually one of my goals from the start of last year, so i'm very happy. can't wait to meet the group. and i think this means i get some extra bling on my xbox gamercard :)

this makes my 4th award category; previously Tablet PC in 03, Embedded in 04, and Web Services last year.


DesktopWeb FormText   laser mouse sucksMon, 03 Apr 2006 23:31:32 GMT # 

thought the first MS laser mouse i had was defective, but now i know they just suck in general. it works ok if you're on a good surface, but it sucks if you use a mouse on unfriendly surfaces. i've been trying it out all over the place, and its not easy to find a surface that it works great on. and somehow the scroll wheel gets effected by the surface? good surface : works fine :: bad surface : barely works. the optical mice i've owned in the past have seemed to be much more robust in this regard. anyway, this might be the 1st MS hardware product i've ever been disappointed with.


DesktopWeb FormText   new article : /veWorldWindSun, 02 Apr 2006 03:30:08 GMT # 

/veWorldWind adds Virtual Earth tiles to NASA's WorldWind 3D globe application. for WW, it adds the VE image layer (including road and hybrid views), plus some other functionality. for VE, you can view the maps in 3D with terrain, and use all the existing WW data sets and add ins.


DesktopWeb FormText   shower water fetishSat, 01 Apr 2006 16:29:43 GMT # 

not me ... my cat (kitty kitty). and it's not actually shower water, it's from the tub, but she responds when i speak 'shower water'. she's pretty much obsessed by it. if you even walk in the direction of the tub, then she'll run in front of you hoping that you'll follow and turn on the water for her to get a drink. sometimes you'll just walk by and look in the restroom and she'll be sitting on the rug looking out, to let you know she's thirsty. pretty funny. click the image below to download a zipped video of her getting a drink.


DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : hardware curseSat, 01 Apr 2006 01:41:09 GMT # 

don't believe in luck (good or bad), but i've got an innate ability to break things. this was a good trait to have when i played football (as long as i was on your team). but it sucks for the different hardware i own. it's not like i'm rough on the hardware ... just everyday use. yesterday, the hardware i was using for work stopped booting. what's really bad about this is i was being extra careful with it ... and it still stopped on me. and each month for the last 3 months i've had different headsets fail on me. just got my 4th headset for 2006 last week. then my trackball broke last month. i'm still trying to find a suitable replacement for it. the first MS laser mouse i bought was a dud (bad tilt wheel). and one of my USB keys stopped working 2 months ago ... no clue how i managed to break it? you know how they say the average CE device failure rate is about 3% ... i consider that a low percentage from personal experience. it seems that i also have a knack for purchasing defective products. constantly having to return stuff that doesn't work. extended warranties ... i buy them, almost always ... and i use them alot. my 2 year notebook is so beat up! need Vista Beta2 to provide an excuse to get a new notebook and then ship this one off for repair. oh yeah, one of my XBox 360 controllers is starting to wear out. and it's never worked as expected with a play and charge kit. but when i do find a product that just keeps reliably working ... it makes me ridiculously loyal to that brand.


DesktopWeb FormText   last couple weekendsWed, 29 Mar 2006 05:34:17 GMT # 



DesktopWeb FormText   ie7 b2 crashSun, 26 Mar 2006 06:12:49 GMT # 

repeatedly crashing on Tablet PC for ink-enabled comment page. had been working fine with the previous beta.


DesktopWeb FormText   DirectShow .NET 1.3Fri, 24 Mar 2006 16:22:37 GMT # 

from Daniel's blog to DirectShow .NET. this is awesome :

"63 more interfaces tested, including all remaining (testable) interfaces in DirectShow 9.0c. ... Since all the existing DS interfaces are tested, no more releases of this library are planned until Microsoft releases a new version (or until bugs are found in the existing library)"


DesktopWeb FormText   breakthroughFri, 24 Mar 2006 06:47:21 GMT # 

had to temporarily abandon the DirectShow side project last week to start on a different side project, which happens to be time boxed. got pretty far last weekend. results were visible ... but they were not accurate. inaccurate enough to make the whole thing worthless. took me about a day to understand the problem, and i've been beating my head against the wall since then trying to get past it. but i 'think' i just figured it out! one number is correct, and the other # is positive that should be negative (error in logic). whew ... that was really annoying me. so i'm pretty sure that was the last hurdle. now i just need time to throw the supporting code together.


DesktopWeb FormText   don't trust meThu, 23 Mar 2006 16:42:09 GMT # 

Atheists identified as America’s most distrusted minority, according to new U of M study.

america would even trust me more if i were to take it up the ass. the problem is 'freedom of religion' should be 'freedom to lack religion'. and how does lacking religion doesn't automatically make you evil. you wouldn't believe the # of people that thought i believed in the devil because i was an atheist. too funny. the problem is people can't understand the concept of being good as an end in itself, they only understand being good as an ends to heaven. and how does religion make you trustworthy? ... (cough) e.g. the president. why is independent thought so hard for the US? anyway, i think religion will take some big hits in the future. for example, getting rid of the fear of death.


DesktopWeb FormText   caught my eyeWed, 22 Mar 2006 16:59:04 GMT # 

Windows Media Center Presentation Layer Web Applications. had been wondering about this for a while. that'll give 3 different ways to server apps over the web to MCE : 1) Hosted HTML for back compat to older MCE operating systems. 2) WPF XBAP for keeping a common codebase with desktop apps. 3) MCML for rich UI on extenders.

http://gotspeech.net/. an MS community site for speech developers. i'm assuming this community will expand whenever Vista hits. but i'm wondering what the Speech Server guys have in the works? its TBD what will happen with multimodal applications (for both the web browser and mobile apps) ... i'm also holding my breath for a VOIP SALT Server.

WPF/e. the little news i've caught from quickly browsing Mix06 posts makes it sound alot better than the message i took away from PDC. and it looks like a small portion of the runtime will be getting pushed out to even more operating systems. that is excellent!


DesktopWeb FormText   in RedmondWed, 22 Mar 2006 15:48:53 GMT # 

for the rest of this week


DesktopWeb FormText   .NET on the 360 brainstormWed, 22 Mar 2006 06:44:49 GMT # 

did a brainstorm last week when the rumors started flying. this is that dump :

is it Managed DirectX, MD3DM, or something else? MD3DM doesn't have shader support ... so i haven't learned it yet. haven't the DirectX libs been deprecated like mad? XInput would be in, probably Live for networking, what else? is this C# or just managed C++? is this the full framework, compact framework, or something else on the 360? i dont like apps that are written once to run anywhere. like common codebases that expose UIs tailored for each device. but what about games, will they scale better than apps? e.g. GeoWars could possibly scale from small to large. e.g. Bejeweled actual game play area only takes up part of the screen, a mobile device should use that more wisely. mobile devices. Windows Mobile Pocket PCs and Smartphones. dont think Smartphones have the power yet. Pocket PC with GPU would be sweet. what about portable XBox 360 rumors! UMPC devices with GPU? input? wireless X360 controllers on PC? portable 360 would excel in this department. reduced to pen gaming otherwise? homebrew. would guess not likely. certification process is likely. deployment through live/DVD/memory units with Datel cord. deploy from PC? target. casual games makes the most sense. what about large games? what about apps? e.g. home automation. is DirectTV going to get a blade on the 360? dev. could develop on PC and test on 360. an actual 360 dev kit probably not necessary. community. XBox Developer Community is closed to loser like me. but they did open the skirt a little for gamertags. all server side, not on the box. MCE. MCE could leverage .NET for rendering directly on 360. wouldn't get lag from remote display. does this lead to WPF rendering on the box? that would kill MCML. does xbox live fit in with this? gamertag/score/acheivements. do they flow. can i get an acheivement on mobile while traveling and have it count ... or is mini GeoWars a diff game. also, if i kick ass on Zuma using a mouse on a PC, does that flow? or is it cheating. does the game skill vary when using a mouse on PC, maybe it forces you to use a wireless 360 controller. there is the whole windows live crap now, maybe this is part of it. live everywhere. application achievements. 20 points for saving 10 word documents. lol. or your 'dev score', you just created 10 hello world applications ... 15 points [Travis's ideas :)]. the problem is console guys don't like to share their boxes. so i'll most likely be shut out. but i think there is a chance that homebrew could be let in if they leveraged Code Access Security. you could lock down a managed app to have very few permissions in the XBox environment. or they could just provide a homebrew switch. will let you do homebrew, but your warranty is void and you're on your own. that'd be sweet. instead of this invitation only BS.


DesktopWeb FormText   MS Wireless Laser Mouse 6000Wed, 22 Mar 2006 06:37:59 GMT # 

so i already gave up on the vertical mouse. the main problem is that i use my notebook on non-optimal surfaces, and it was just a pain to move around. now the MS laser mouse is a candidate ... because of (in order of importance) : ergonomic cut, back/forward buttons, 4-way scroll, magnifier, and wireless. this will be my 1st time with 4-way scroll, so i'll see if it is useful. can already imagine using it for scrolling long lines of code. never had a magnifier button either. but my 1st complaint is why does it want me to restart after installing IntellPoint? come on Vista! my 2nd complaint is why do i have to connect a receiver to my notebook ... shouldn't these just be built-in to computers by now? wasn't bluetooth going to take care of that? don't think there are any bluetooth laser mice? at least offer a small profile notebook card that is mostly hidden away. the USB dongles are no good, because they stick out too far. maybe notebook manufacturers should start providing insets for these USB keys. finally, a feature request, bring back the evil red glow!

still living in a dream world, but think of a wireless MS Trackball Explorer with 4-way scroll and magnifier. that would kick so much ass.

er, um ... and my server was taken offline by the newphews.


DesktopWeb FormText   vertical mouse first impressionThu, 16 Mar 2006 23:40:01 GMT # 

plugged right in and it worked. auto setup for back and forward buttons. do wish that it was a bit taller. my hands aren't huge, but my pinky finger doesn't really have a place to go, so it feels like it's getting squished. maybe that feeling will go away? i'll give it a couple more days before passing judgement. but the gut feeling is that its not a keeper.


DesktopWeb FormText   vertical mouseWed, 15 Mar 2006 03:56:57 GMT # 

it does not look like there is a decent trackball in the market to replace the MS trackball explorer. since a horizontal mouse is not a healty option (for me), i'm going to have to look for an alternative. Evoluent's Vertical Mouse 2 is the first candidate. there aren't too many vertical mice to choose from, but i picked this one because of the # of buttons and the scroll wheel.

searching also turned up vertical keyboards. if i wasn't so sold on notebooks, then i'd definitely give one of those a try. used to love the MS natural keyboards. wish that notebooks would start offering the slightly curved keyboard layout. the 17 inch notebooks have the room to pull this off. currently, i make sure my notebooks have full sized keys and that the home keys are mostly centered. absolutely hate when they put the numberpad to the right and shift everything else to the left. notebook manufacturers NEED to make this an option, because we spend most of our time interfacing with the notebook through the keyboard. they are always looking for an upsell ... and i would pay it

at least the touch typing interface on origami looks promising. looks like it will let me hold my elbows in a comfortable position (out wide), instead of hugged in real close to the body


DesktopWeb FormText   did you just say .NET on XBox 360!Tue, 14 Mar 2006 15:40:23 GMT # 

ok, so i've met Mike Zintel from my Compact Framework days. he's cool, so i subscribe to his blog. well, todays post (A Market Within A Market (was .NET in HD)) has got me grinning from ear to ear. definitely read the last couple paragraphs. key points i took away were :

1) "demonstrate the feasibility of games written in managed code running on a .NET CLR on a final 360 dev kit."
2) "demonstrated the same game binary (almost the same; oh so close) running on the 360 kit, Windows and on Windows Mobile."

YEA! hope we hear more at the upcoming GDC. er, um ... anyone for NASAs WorldWind on the XBox 360 :)


DesktopWeb FormText   got DirectShow working with MPEG-2 TunerTue, 14 Mar 2006 05:28:38 GMT # 

er, um ... actually i cheated. Chris Auld pointed me to MediaPortal, which is an open source media center. just so happens that its written in C# and uses a managed wrapper over DirectShow. its got a class specifically for MCE TV tuners, which is exactly what i needed. ends up i was really close, but my query for the IAMTVTuner interface kept failing, seemingly because i did not specify the FindDirection. the bad news is MediaPortal already implemented the feature(s) i was working towards building for MCE. so i could copy them (boring), implement the same feature in a different way, or come up with a diff idea ... hmm?


DesktopWeb FormText   sad day, trackball just diedTue, 14 Mar 2006 00:53:43 GMT # 

i'm a trackball guy. have been for 11+ years. for the last 5 years i've been using an MS Trackball Explorer. as far as i'm concerned, it's the best pointing device ever. even better than fingers. its near perfect, the only thing it was missing is that new tilt scroll-wheel crap. own a couple Trackball Explorers, and this one might actually be the original, making it somewhere between 2.5 to 5 years old. but it just died in my hand. was clicking around, minding my own business, and the cursor stopped. then i heard that sound signifying a USB device was just removed, and a popup saying that a device/resource has failed. looked down and the trackball was not glowing that satisfying evil red glow. desperately tried other USB ports on the same machine ... but no response. went to another computer ... no glow ... and the device could not be recognized. then i cried ...

even worse, MS has stopped making trackballs. pretty sure i've got at least one in storage. hell, i might have to buy all i can find on ebay ... at least enough to last for the rest of my life. should probably keep this one for spare parts. looks like logitech might have a possible replacement too ... just with too many badly placed buttons ... and no evil glow.

trackballs really are the best. you dont have to move them and the ergonomics are great. the horizontal mouse position hurts my elbow. not to mention i had a custom button mapping for right clicking with the pinky. on a mouse your pinky is useless. they also provide additional security because nobody else knows how to use them. then you get to laugh at these people because they cant even point and click. double clicking ... forget it. and if there is trouble then you can remove the ball and use it as a projectile weapon. if you threw a mouse ball at somebody, laughable; but this things got some weight to it.


DesktopWeb FormText   WI.NET meeting tomorrowMon, 13 Mar 2006 20:16:05 GMT # 

Dave Bost will be presenting VSTS - What's in it for the Developer?. make sure you register, so that there is some leftover pizza for me to snag at the end of the night. and you should already be registered for next month which is Deeper in .NET 2006


DesktopWeb FormText   UMPC nowMon, 13 Mar 2006 02:24:38 GMT # 

excited about UMPC now, but more excited about the future. because there are some stuff that sucks right now. 2 to 3 hour battery life ... ouch! there will definitely be a charging dock on my coffee table and in the car. come on fuel cells? flash drives being incorporated into PCs will be a good thing too. need some models with smaller sizes, but that sounds like the intended goal. initial price points needs to be driven down too, but that also sounds like a goal. at least the current price seems like it will be much better than what OQO/Motion Computing offer. XP ... an upgrade path to Vista needs to be made clear. i'm assuming its just a USB CD-ROM and a Vista CD? anyway, those are my problems with V1, which i dont consider insurmountable. and i'm assuming there are other V1 models that we haven't even seen yet? aside, i hope this brings back more full size state Tablet PCs ... slate is the way to go! the convertible guys need to stop sucking on the keyboard tit


DesktopWeb FormText   DirectShow and MCESun, 12 Mar 2006 18:02:55 GMT # 

got a little further with a stand-alone app for mucking with the TV tuner. but i also backtracked and started putting together some util code. using the DirectShow .NET library on SourceForge with some classes from Stephen Toub's articles, was just able to grab an MCE filter graph in the ROT and start/stop it from a separate application. too early to tell ... but this might make me dangerous :) at least it gives me alot of different things to try!


DesktopWeb FormText   MCE dev center needs some workSun, 12 Mar 2006 14:57:18 GMT # 

writing this in response to Matt Goyers post Programming for 360 MCX, in which he asks why the article currently has a 3 out of 9 rating. first, i think the MCE team might be a bit end user focused. the url for the article begins with 'msdn.' ... meaning developer target audience. developers like code, and text/pictures is just icing. put a code download on there and your rating would go up. second, you guys need some step by step articles to get people started. the articles you do have are by Stephen Toub (who rocks), but they are advanced. for the beginners, it just points them to the SDK, which is kind of all over the board. how about some step by step articles that start from 0 and went to an AddIn displaying a dialog on the XBox 360. and do the same thing for Hosted HTML. i know there are some blog posts out there that do this, but they don't go to the 360 and they are a bit dated. here's a newsgroup post of a developer asking for just that : Noob Questions, help me start!. would really like to help the guy out, but writing 'hello world' articles sounds a bit like work to me ... and it seems the mce dev center should be providing this info already


DesktopWeb FormText   subs have thawed outSat, 11 Mar 2006 23:52:17 GMT # 

time to feel the bass! my sysystem can already go louder than i need/want ... but someday i'll have to do this : [unsafe link] MTX JackHammer


DesktopWeb FormText   video playlist for MCESat, 11 Mar 2006 19:54:26 GMT # 

over here.

i think it's especially cool because it derives a bit from /mceDivX360 :)


DesktopWeb FormText   DirectShow and MPEG-2 (in C#)Sat, 11 Mar 2006 16:49:34 GMT # 

starting to take baby steps with DirectShow. i've downloaded a number of C# code samples for working with TV tuners, but they all fail for me at a call to RenderStream(), which should use intelligent connect to auto build the graph. it seems that the problem is because my TV tuner outputs MPEG-2, so everything breaks down at that point. now i'm trying to extend those samples to add the MPEG-2 Demultiplexer filter before calling RenderFile(). i'm assuming that i need to create the output pins and map the stream data as well. anyway, this is all just guess work at the moment.

it looks like there is a sample PSI filter with DirectShow that handles the stream mapping. i'm not comfortable enough with DS at the moment to start relying on sample filters. and i'm assuming Media Center doesn't mess with that? anyway, it seems to me like the MPEG-2 Demultiplexer filter is only half baked.

and i flat out don't know COM (was doing J2EE when that was cool), so i'm using a DirectShow wrapper on SourceForge. it has alot of tested interfaces, as well as some that are untested. just so happens the MPEG-2 crap falls in the untested category. so i basically hold my breath everytime a call is made. and there is no sample code to be found. i'm at the point where i've added the pins and need to map the streams. problem is i don't see how the managed wrapper allows me to query for interfaces on pins? and source forge is undergoing maintainence at the moment :(

so now that i'm starting to pick up a little DS, its not clear to me why MS did not provide a better wrapper. of course they threw out the performance card, but most of the code i'm seeing is people that are just trying to work with graphs ... which definitely isn't a perf problem. i think MS should have provided a managed wrapper for building graphs, and then could have played the performance card for custom filters.


DesktopWeb FormText   UMPC in your carFri, 10 Mar 2006 02:33:48 GMT # 

the vision i see is an in dash dock station. you can pick it up from your coffee table where it has been synching the latest news, traffic reports, music collection, etc... then you slam it into your car dock and go. the car dock provides power, GPS, sound in/out, possibly data connectivity. maybe it even gets car diagnostic info. as you're driving it switches to some drive friendly UI state for safety. large touch screen menus and/or speech control. the apps that can run in this mode have to go through some certification for safety. it gives you the standard stuff : driving directions, news, entertainment, hands free calling, etc... when you get to your destination, you just undock it and go.


DesktopWeb FormText   speech remote controlFri, 10 Mar 2006 02:13:16 GMT # 

demo gods weren't happy, but Intel tried to show a speech recognition remote control being used on MCE. hmm, that sounds familiar ... "another option might involve the remotes getting wireless mics built into them. and possibly a tap-to-talk button". i'm all for it, just make sure to provide a standard API.


DesktopWeb FormText   UMPC and MCEFri, 10 Mar 2006 01:03:11 GMT # 

Ian Dixon wants Softsled for Origami. he actually wants more than that ... as do i :

Extended remote - this would make a bad ass remote control. first, we need a way to get the guide data over to it. for control, we can use MCE Controller over WiFi. but it would be better if it had a learning remote built-in like the MCE keyboard. to be determined if any of these devices will support multi touch input scenarios?
Portable media center - i'd like for UMPC to get a similar lightweight MCE UI like the official PMC devices have. don't just rely on XP synching abilities, give it a similar experience.
Softsled - which is a software media extender. actually, i just want softsled on any XP computer.
Interactive television - this becomes a 2nd screen for user feedback. e.g. play along with your favorite game show or rate the american idol contestants in more detail. a 2nd screen also can provide extended data. e.g. a transcript of the show in case you wanted to check something that was said earlier, to get more data, or a different visual that doesn't lend itself to the big screen. how about a chat room of your friends that are currently watching the same show. i'm assuming people are working on standards for stuff like this?


DesktopWeb FormText   Bezier Curves on Compact FrameworkFri, 10 Mar 2006 01:00:17 GMT # 

Travis Feirtag has put together a sweet article : Drawing and Filling Bezier Curves using the Compact Framework v2. can't wait to see what else he's got in the works


DesktopWeb FormText   UMPCThu, 09 Mar 2006 15:15:28 GMT # 

i'm a general computing type of guy. don't like closed systems with specific hardware. just give me different hardware form factors and the proper software will flow to each. so Origami/UMPC does fill a void between PPC/SP and Tablets. 1) PocketPCs don't seem to be doing great with consumers, i.e. try to find more than a couple at BestBuy. 2) Tablet PCs have migrated from the slate vision to larger convertibles. 3) and Portable Media Centers are dead to me until they open up the platform for 3rd party development. yes, i acknowledge the OQO/Motion Computing entries, but their price point has been too high. it's also great because it pushes the power of XP to a much smaller form factor. the full .NET framework ... oh yeah. for development, it lets me think about different seamless computing experiences (somebody please make a car dock)! and it also has the potential to bridge my love for MCE and Tablets (sombody please bake in an MCE remote)! at least one has a mic array (perfect for speech dev)! see that some have a camera, how about an accelerometer? (that would be perfect for /cameraFlow Labyrinth). now the built-in stand has to go, i'll break that off in about a week. as an end user, one of these will sit on my coffee table. also see it making roadtrips and flights. was so close to buying a PSP for travel, until i heard about these. just hope they don't make man purses popular ...


DesktopWeb FormText   DirectShow is kicking my assWed, 08 Mar 2006 04:06:23 GMT # 

seriously tricky. i foresee lots of re-reading in my future


DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : still slackingWed, 08 Mar 2006 03:15:42 GMT # 

er, um ... i actually have been working out. just low intensity. haven't felt like tearing up the weights, so i've just been getting quick workouts in and then getting out. still off the supplements and haven't been eating properly. muscle mass has dropped slightly and added a little fat :( the good news is i've still been pushing decent weight. not any personal bests, but respectable, and enough to keep the joints in good form. this valley is also giving my injuries more time to heal. anyway, i'll stay in maintenance mode until i feel like strapping the guns back on, which should be a quick turnaround. spring time should help ...


DesktopWeb FormText   origamiTue, 07 Mar 2006 23:41:41 GMT # 

i want one ... or 2. have actually been wanting something like that for a while. can't wait to see it on channel9


DesktopWeb FormText   VXML + VOIPTue, 07 Mar 2006 03:21:08 GMT # 

this gave me a hardon : Tellme Developers Launch Consumer Voice Services for Skype

how beautiful is that? what is the problem with both VoiceXml and SALT ... cost. it's not exactly cheap to get on the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). there's all this freakin hardware you have to buy and maintain. but forget about PSTN and think about a VOIP Speech Server (made that up). cost could be reduced dramatically. i could basically install a VOIP Speech Server on my own server and people could voip in for free from their own computers to access SALT applications. then 3rd party providers could provide a low cost service to handle the PSTN handoff to access the service from real phones (as they are already doing today). anyway, had heard rumors that MS is working on VOIP ... so now i really hope that SALT will be in the mix


DesktopWeb FormText   Wisconsin's 'Deeper in .NET' 2006Tue, 07 Mar 2006 03:19:50 GMT # 

this is the big day-long event from the WI .NET Users Group. you'll want to sign up early because it's likely to be booked full (based on last year's attendance). not to mention the badass speaker/topic list :

Scott Hanselman -- Anatomy of a Successful ASP.NET Application: Inside DasBlog
Julia Lerman -- ADO.NET 2.0 Integration with SQL Server 2005
Bill Hatfield -- AJAX and Atlas
Jason Beres -- Using WPF to Create Compelling User Interfaces

more details here, and the signup page is here. did i mention it's FREE with a smack load of prizes :) serious, you need to sign up now.


DesktopWeb FormText   wireless bluesTue, 07 Mar 2006 03:18:31 GMT # 

current network is mostly 802.11G, with some A capable network cards. G doesn't work so great with streaming Media Center Live/Recorded TV to the XBox 360. attempted to bump up my local wireless with the Linksys WRT55AG for A/G. the setup was simple and quick. but the overall performance wasn't great. 802.11A helped a little but i still get some skipping ... which isn't acceptable. and the range for G was worse than my old router. then i looked into upgrading the antennas. ends up one antenna is for A and the other is for G, and neither can be upgraded. suck ... so i returned it ...

... for a Netgear RangeMax 240 MIMO. its setup was slow and buggy. i had to manually enter one setup url that got stuck. then it will not let the XBox 360 connect. from searching around, everybody's solution has been to return it for something else. and now it looks like it screws up Skype calls too. do these guys even dogfood their own shit? so i'll be returning it tomorrow. guess i'll have to wait for one of these MIMO routers to get their act together. the corresponding Linksys seems to have the same problem with VOIP, nor is it certified with the 360 yet ...


DesktopWeb FormText   fumbling through DirectShowMon, 06 Mar 2006 03:39:39 GMT # 

already had the Platform SDK installed, which includes GraphEdit. it is not obvious which filters to use, but online articles helped alot. then it got ridiculously tricky when using the MPEG-2 Demultiplexer. there were no output pins. the pins are added with the 'property page' but my property page was not displaying. ends up the proppage.dll was not registered. then the Audio and Video output pins could be added and the graph could be completed, but it was not rendering because i had not done the stream mappings. map 0xC0 to Audio and 0xE0 to Video (WTF?) ... and it still didn't work. ended up that my graph was using filters from my new TV Tuner and they were being used by MCE. had to shutdown MCE and then everything worked. loads of fun :(


DesktopWeb FormText   RDS/RDBS and MCESat, 04 Mar 2006 03:50:48 GMT # 

this was my latest idea to be killed. the TV tuner i just got for MCE included an FM tuner. so i tried out the 'Radio' functionality and thought it was lacking. e.g. some car radios (iPods too?) can display the stations nick, the currently playing song and artist (for some stations). this feature is called RDS/RBDS (Radio Data System). it also has the ability to provide weather data, traffic info, etc. thought it would be kind of cool to include that in MCE. my hope was that RDS could be pulled from insignificant bits in the audio stream, but it happens sooner than that. it happens during demodulation at the FM tuner. about the only way i could make this happen is to get closer to special hardware and replace much of what the FM tuner does, or require people to have an FM tuner that is RDS capable (with API). but there is no standard API, so it would only work with a specific device. so my hope would be that MS provides some standard RDS API for USB FM tuner manufacturers to build to. also that USB FM tuner manufacturers would integrate RDS. ... so at least there is internet radio


DesktopWeb FormText   not enough remotesThu, 02 Mar 2006 04:42:13 GMT # 

a side benefit of developing for MCE


DesktopWeb FormText   more Vista speech goodnessThu, 02 Mar 2006 04:40:10 GMT # 

over at Rob's Rhapsody ...

Every single thing Windows Vista Speech Recognition is listening for
Dictating numbers using Speech Recognition in Windows Vista


DesktopWeb FormText   adaptec AVC-3610Thu, 02 Mar 2006 01:20:30 GMT # 

MCE TV tuner(s) arrived last night. ordered the adaptec AVC-3610 from Dell for about $200. so far, i'm happy with the purchase. really glad that i ordered a dual tuner setup instead of picking up a single tuner from a local store. for inputs, i'm just using cable but it supports component and s-video. also adds FM to my setup and 2 IR blasters. finally, it comes with a remote control and the base acts as an IR receiver. it connects to the computer with USB 2.0, so i've got a 26 foot cable running from it to the notebook for development.

now i've finally got a (mostly) fully functioning MCE machine to develop with. got to see 'My TV' and 'Radio' for the first time. not sure how Vista MCE is going to extend their functionality ... but i've already got like 3 new article ideas :) and now i can finally play around with the great articles that Stephen Toub has put together. but my setup is still crippled. still cannot view video on my notebook, but have to use the XBox 360 Extender instead. nor can i hook the notebook directly up to a TV. really needed to do this for /mceWorldWind to see how it scales on a big screen. e.g. if the MenuBar is usable and if the font is somewhat readable?

just waiting for some more dual core notebooks to hit the streets. my current dream notebook is 64 bit dual core. 17 inch screen. 2 gigs of RAM. GPU. 2 internal hard drives. bluetooth. MCE receiver. s-video out. dual TV tuners. so i think all of the above is reasonable, and i could probably find today. but i still want more! i also want it to have a digitizer built-in for tablet development and ultimately be able to support CableCards. but i'm assuming i won't be able to find something like that until after Vista is released :( by then i'll be wanting a device with SideShow and 802.11n too :)


DesktopWeb FormText   video of speech reco on vistaWed, 01 Mar 2006 03:03:04 GMT # 

can you say "sexy"


DesktopWeb FormText   MCButton?Tue, 28 Feb 2006 02:00:48 GMT # 

looking at existing stand-alone apps for MCE, while researching for /mceWorldWind, i just happened to notice an interesting pattern. a number of the MS made apps (for setting up the XBox 360) had a similar look and feel. ends up they are Win Forms with overloaded controls specific to MCE : MCButton, MCCheckBox, MCComplexListBox, MCEdit, MCListBox, MCProgress, MCProgressBar, MCRadioButton, MCTextBox. hmm ... those sound like they would come in handy! before WPF, my hope was that WinForms would become a supported MCE dev model (for full screen UI) and this is exactly the sort of model envisioned. will have to try and play around with the controls when i get a chance

also, Charlie Owen posted some screenshots of next gen dev available with the February CTP. too bad i'm holding out for Vista Beta 2

and believe it or not, i finally ordered a USB TV tuner for my MCE setup! ... you mean you can watch TV on these things? :) hopefully it will work with my lame video card :(


DesktopWeb FormText   better microphones in the worksTue, 28 Feb 2006 01:57:30 GMT # 

speech developers will appreciate this ... from news.com : The microphone shrinks to a single chip


DesktopWeb FormText   new article : /mceWorldWindMon, 27 Feb 2006 06:26:18 GMT # 

/mceWorldWind shows how to use NASA's WorldWind from Media Center Edition using your remote control. it also has a plugin for controlling WorldWind using an XBox 360 Wired Controller on an MCE PC, and another plugin for calling Virtual Earth's IP address location finder


DesktopWeb FormText   threw this together todaySun, 26 Feb 2006 05:34:05 GMT # 

will write it up and post tomorrow


DesktopWeb FormText   Xbox Community Developer ProgramSat, 25 Feb 2006 03:36:10 GMT # 

well ... it's a start : XCDP. this first round is for a limited group of about 30 and limited to gamertags. hopefully that'll get expanded on both fronts.


DesktopWeb FormText   [book] Programming MS DirectShowSat, 25 Feb 2006 03:14:56 GMT # 

(for Digital Video and Television, 2003) have used DirectShow in a couple applications, but it has never been the 'core' of the application. i've always done just enough to get by, thinking in the back of my mind 'that i should get a better understanding'. well, this book was perfect for that. it only assumes that you have an understanding of C++. it starts out with the GraphEdit application, moves into coding simple applications, custom filters, etc... covering audio, video, digital video recorders, and television. it was a pretty quick read for me based on MS not supporting managed code for DirectShow. have used some of the 3rd party .NET wrappers with varying results. also because i'm not sure about the future of DirectShow with Vista? from the little bits i've seen, it looks like developers might end up playing 2nd class citizens to big media? anyway, i really liked this book and am sure that it will help me the next time i need to use DirectShow


DesktopWeb FormText   not in the mixSat, 25 Feb 2006 01:47:46 GMT # 

was thinking about entering the Mix06 contest ... until i looked at the example code. what a mess. is this really the direction that web development is heading? and for what? doesn't seem to buy you that much power for the pain. i'm pretty much disillusioned by the progress of the web overall. web services aren't even close to where i wanted them to be. e.g. the /mceVideoSearch app can't call out to UDDI to find different video search services that follow some common schema. and most of the work is geared towards end user experience instead of automation. AJAX for personalization and avoiding full page refreshes. RSS primarily for pulling to human eyes. would rather see more developer efforts going towards the Semantic Web. or at least coming up with a better dev strategy. i'm talking throwing out the current crap and starting over ... Web Enema 1.0


DesktopWeb FormText   bulletproofing PlayMediaExWed, 22 Feb 2006 04:29:44 GMT # 

the main problem i had with /mceVideoSearch is the PlayMediaEx call. the problem is that you cannot interrupt the call once it has been made. this sucks for videos that take a long time to buffer. if it takes 5 minutes for a video to buffer before playback, then the app is locked for 5 minutes. tried like 6 (or more) different ways to exit the call, and just could not make it stop. this needs to be fixed in Vista ... but i don't feel like waiting. there is an alternate approach for greedy calls like this ... defensive coding. don't call it unless you are sure it will work. so now the logic before a call to PlayMediaEx looks like this :

1) ping the video - just do an HttpWebRequest to the URL and check for an HTTPStatus of OK. meaning the video is still at the URL and has not been moved after the spider logged it.
2) media player - see if the MediaPlayer SDK can start playing the video. once it starts playing, then just immediately stop. this also allows the app to grab additional metadata (including file size) for the videos that the search service does not provide.
3) try downloading - start to download the video to get an estimate of how long it will take (based on file size above), then close the connection. if it will take a while to buffer, then prompt the user if they really want to wait that long. this isn't perfect because it gives false positives. i.e. some files start to play immediately even though it says it will take much longer. but at least it warns the user that they might be in for a long wait and gives them a chance to exit.
4) finally call PlayMediaEx ...


DesktopWeb FormText   other MCE dev modelsMon, 20 Feb 2006 23:39:28 GMT # 

just a couple posts ago i listed the different MCE development models. but it left a couple dev models out ... on purpose

DirectX - the current MCE shell seems to be written with Managed DirectX. i actually taught myself Managed DirectX last year to ultimately use it for MCE apps, but that never happened for a couple reasons. first, because WPF is in the works and seems to be a better fit for the apps i wanted to develop. second, because DirectX does not remote to an extender session. now that the XBox 360 is out you basically have to write your app to work with an extender. third, MCML is in the works for full fidelity on an MCE PC and extenders. so i consider DirectX a dead end for MCE development. the only real use i see for it is games directly on an MCE PC. but i don't see that being a market until (if) you can use a wireless XBox 360 controller on a PC. maybe if the console wars weren't in full effect and XBox live arcade didn't rock ...

Web 2.0 - haven't kept it a secret that i absolutely hate the Hosted HTML development model for MCE. so i consider AJAX to be 'putting lipstick on a pig'. it helps, but i don't think it helps enough. WPF beats it by supporting 3D, animations, etc... the only Web 2.0 sites i care about are the ones that offer WS/REST services. then you can build a proper UI for the app no matter if you are running on a 40 inch TV or a smartphone. now i would take Hosted HTML more seriously if MCE came with a built-in web server that would host local pages for MCE devs to share (for lightweight apps) ... don't see that happening. but the real question is if MCML can be served from a web site? that would seriously blow Hosted HTML out of the water, especially on extenders


DesktopWeb FormText   /mceVideoSearch revisitSun, 19 Feb 2006 21:39:56 GMT # 

first, runtime 360 pointed out that the 'DVD Menu' button on the XBox 360 remote controls can be used to popup the XBox 360 soft keyboard. this is great news because it makes the app usable with just a remote; without having to use Triple-tap, which is near impossible to use over an extender session due to lag.

second, there might be a problem with the installer. so please let me know if you have problems.

third, wanted to make this support music search too, but i'm not having much luck finding a decent music search web service. am i missing something? was under the assumption that there would be similar music search services to video search services. instead they all seem to drive you to a limited # of pay sites (which sucks for automation). didn't know RIAA had the serch engines by the balls ...


DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : atrophySat, 11 Feb 2006 16:00:23 GMT # 

still taking it easy on the workouts just to give stuff more time to heal. working out at a decent intensity, just reducing the reps. doing alot of bodyweight movements too. next week is winter vacation, and i'm not sure if i'll be able to get any lifting in or not? regardless, i'll turn up the intensity when i get back and get back on supplements. definitely protein starved at the moment.


DesktopWeb FormText   MCE dev article recapSat, 11 Feb 2006 14:53:41 GMT # 

one of the goals last year was to write a development article covering each (managed) programming model available to Media Center :
AddIn - /mceSapi, /mceXInput
MediaState - /mceState
HostedHTML - /mceSalt
ListMaker - /mceDivX360
Embedded WinForm Control - /mceVideoSearch

the next tasks would be to cover the Vista models :
WPF - /backRow
XBAP - TBD
MCML - TBD


DesktopWeb FormText   new article : /mceVideoSearchSat, 11 Feb 2006 04:47:08 GMT # 

/mceVideoSearch explores the programming model for using embedded WinForm controls in MCE. it allows you to create a full screen WinForm UI with only a thin HTML page to host the control. plus they work in extenders.

the end result of the article is an application that allows you to search for online video on your XBox 360 using a wireless controller. you can also use it with a remote on an MCE PC. yes ... i really am going to write-off the XBox 360 :)


DesktopWeb FormText   Google desktop ... noThu, 09 Feb 2006 15:47:23 GMT # 

"Google will delete any copies of the files from its servers within 30 days and encrypts the data, he said."

er, um ... do you remember when everybody was bitching about Hailstrom / .NET My Services? ... because this is worse


DesktopWeb FormText   Transcode 360 beta releasedTue, 07 Feb 2006 02:53:09 GMT # 

consider Transcode 360 the replacement for /mceDivX360. it uses a different MCE development model (context menu AddIn) which has some advantages to the ListMaker technique i used. awesome job Albert!

er, um ... i'm currently experimenting with a different dev model that might help us get even further. but i'm going to try and apply it to a different problem first


DesktopWeb FormText   ticketToHope.com ...Tue, 07 Feb 2006 00:36:17 GMT # 

"What if it's true?" ... then i've got a one-way TicketToHell.com

but since the majority of people already believe in a god ... shouldn't the question be "What if it's not true?" ... worm food :)


DesktopWeb FormText   Transcode 360Sat, 04 Feb 2006 18:53:24 GMT # 

excellent! looks like the guy behind XBox Media Center is working on a replacement for /mceDivX360. see Transcode 360


DesktopWeb FormText   optionsScalper will be presenting F#Sat, 04 Feb 2006 01:42:18 GMT # 

hey hey, optionsScalper will be presenting F# at the next WI .NET meeting. gotten to hear some of the cool stuff he's been doing with F#, so this should be very interesting. and don't worry, i'll speak up if he starts talking too much math or using math symbols i've never seen before.


DesktopWeb FormText   game cultureSat, 04 Feb 2006 01:08:34 GMT # 

this is the first time i've been involved in the game console community. initial impression is a mix bag. first, news sites. reading the comments is more entertaining than informative. it's like most everybody is trying to make the wittiest fanboy remark possible. trying to find an objective answer (on topic) is more challenging. but my biggest surprise is peoples reactions to PS3 announcements. any sort of info related to PS3 features is generally disregarded across the board based on their previous marketing record. the response is pretty much i'll believe it when i see it. i'm also surprised about how tight lip Sony is about the PS3. but supposedly they were this secretive for PS2 as well? anyway, i'm used to MS being alot more open. i think of Nintendo being somewhere in between those extremes for openness and tight lipped (but Nintendo would need to add more sex and violence before i'd be interested). second, forums. really surprised by how much gamers help each other. consider it way over the top that people are making videos to share tips and strategies. some of the smart ass that is prevalant at news sites carries over to the forums, but not near as much. third, in game. have yet to have a bad online gaming session. and that's my theory, the community gets better the closer you get to the game, and vice versa


DesktopWeb FormText   x360 kiosk contentFri, 03 Feb 2006 23:23:32 GMT # 

had to kill some time at lunch, so i walked over to BestBuy. just so happened that i knew the x360 kiosk was going to have its first bit of downloadable content, so i took one of those lame 64 meg backup cards. what was cool is an MS guy was there taking the kiosk apart to put the new kiosk disk in. he spent a little time showing me the setup, downloaded the content for me, and even verified it was on the card. after that it looked like he was swapping out the controller for a new one ... possibly for the OCD people? anyway, i see why MS and its partners want to get you to the stores, but thats a big pain. i think all the kiosk content should be available for download to subscribers of xbox live gold. the gold subscription really needs more perks. and no ... i didn't get my hands on the new kiosk disk :)

oh yeah, so i've been playing marble blast ultra online for a while now and my rep doesn't seem to be going up. checking the stats, i've got no positive or negative feedback. from a majornelson.com podcast i thought rep was supposed to go up even if you don't get any feedback? the other thing from that podcast was to use your headset to ask people to give you good feedback ... lame.


DesktopWeb FormText   how does the COD2 update work?Thu, 02 Feb 2006 19:04:43 GMT # 

the last console i owned was a PS1, so i'm pretty impressed that the Call Of Duty 2 game has been able to provide an update over XBox Live. but i want to know how that works ... i'm assuming the console does some version check between DLLs to determine if it should load the one from the hard drive or disk. is this what is happening? can all games do this or did COD2 specifically code this functionality in?


DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : leg is healedThu, 02 Feb 2006 02:26:17 GMT # 

been 4 months since my left quadricep started bothering me ... and i think/hope that it is finally healed. was able to squat 315 lbs for multiple reps without any pain, as well as do a set of leg extensions with 300. finally finally finally! promise i used to be less of a puss. can't wait to get back to regularly doing heavy leg days, especially since i'm feeling so top heavy right now. need to get some muscle built back up on the lower body to burn calories.


DesktopWeb FormText   initial IE7 trial run ... odd stuffWed, 01 Feb 2006 03:11:33 GMT # 

went to some p0rn sites first. actually a site that provides passwords to p0rn sites. did not like how the username:password@ info was not displayed in the status bar. the href="" definitely had it specified in source so i want to see that info in the status bar (do not hide info from us). especially if i'm going to have to enter that user/pass into a media player. in the words of one of my friends (who shall remain anonymous) ... "don't interfere with the spank". lol ... i've got some great friends :) second, ink in IE was offset at first. i was writing in the top left corner, but the ink was showing up in about an inch lower and to the right? went to a diff page and came back ... and now its working fine? never had that happen in IE6. anyway, that also tested out embedded WinForms controls ... which worked fine. are there supposed to be tablet gestures in this version ... or only for Vista? third, tried a speech enabled page. it prompted me to install the SASDK ActiveX control first, and then after installing it redirected to the previous page ... that was bad. might need some more testing there. or you could make IE7 badass and make it support SALT out of the box! fourth, tried it out on MCE. doesn't seem to be interfering with any Hosted HTML applications that i've got. hopefully the MCE team will point out if IE7 effects MCE 2005 in anyway. fifth, i checked my own web page and it seems to render fine. other browsers (e.g. Opera) have problems with my jacked up use of frames and iframes. yep, i suck. oh yeah, i hate the new .mht icon. with that little feed button at the top i might have to add the auto discovery RSS link now ... will have to think about that. now i have to go find a phishing site to see if that is working. sixth, i threw in some xml files and those render as expected. but then i tried a .svg file and it shows the xml ... without the color coding. did they do that on purpose? all in all, i'm glad to have it ... but i'm not experiencing any wow factor.


DesktopWeb FormText   marble blast ultraWed, 01 Feb 2006 01:56:37 GMT # 

prefer 'mutant storm reloaded' to 'geometry wars' ... but my new favorite XBLA game is 'marble blast ultra'. finished the beginner and intermediate levels under par time, but have yet to finish advanced; doubt i will ever finish all the advanced levels within par time. also have to go easter egg hunting which should extend the single player experience. hope that it can get downloadable levels in the future. but the multiplayer experience is a 'blast' ... and has validated my gold level purchase. the only other game i'd really try to play online had been PGR3 and it wasn't satisfying. there were alot of times where i was just sitting in a lobby waiting ... not to mention i would get my ass handed to me if i could get in a race. hopefully marble blast ultra can get downloadable multiplayer levels as well.

now for the ego. from the time i spent with Managed DirectX last year, i'm pretty confident i could write a game of that quality ... at least the mechanics. no way i could do the graphics, audio, or design the gameplay ... which is alot. but the game engine itself ... i think so. and that goes for most of the XBLA games. anybody ever going to even hint at Managed DirectX for XBox 360?


DesktopWeb FormText   video games should come out before the moviesWed, 01 Feb 2006 00:05:13 GMT # 

because i hate when the movie comes out and the video game ends up looking like the movie. case in point ... Aeon Flux. Aeon Flux started out as an animated show. so the movie is an attempt to try and look like the animated show. but then the idiot video game producer tries to make it look like the movie and not the original show! hate that. they do a good job of making the character look like the movie, but they could have done an excellent job making it look like the show. and the character would have less clothing. win win


DesktopWeb FormText   random x360 (negative) thoughtsTue, 31 Jan 2006 05:01:33 GMT # 

actually pretty pissed right now that the x360 dashboard update stops the kiosk disk. it'd be even more frustrating if i didn't have the demos from OXM. it was kind of exciting to read what the hackers were doing with the kiosk disk. some of them were making WMV video CDs and others were getting some basic flash to work. now that its plugged, the first thought that came to mind was SONY PSP ... oh well. do you think their target market wants to stand in front of a kiosk at some store ... i don't?

the other thing thats got me disturbed was on the last majornelson.com podcast. he had a great interview with the guy behind xbox live arcade, but the scary quote was that big name game publishers wanted to get on arcade with 20+ titles. that'd pretty much kill the indie scene.

and then there is rumors of an xbox handheld. bet most of the xbox live arcade games could be made to run on a smaller device. that'd be pretty sweet if it also had portable media center functionality. the problem being that the current PMCs don't give 3rd party developers an entry point. that's a problem.

so i've had this mindset of MS being the SDK company, and being really open with their platforms for 3rd party developers ... but i'm starting to lose that image. is this a by-product of threat modeling and reducing surface area? because it sucks


DesktopWeb FormText   seattle geek dinnerSun, 29 Jan 2006 22:27:18 GMT # 

just a suggestion ... a place with alcohol! anyway, i didn't get back to MS to snag an x360 sign (joke) ... but Travis and i did get the alibi shot.


DesktopWeb FormText   back in wisconsinSun, 29 Jan 2006 17:58:57 GMT # 

so what is odd about seattle? the most frustrating thing is the traffic ... people just drive too slow. you'd think that they'd be jacked up on coffee and speeding around in their BMWs (lots of them there) ... nope. my only guess is that they are trying to be safe in the rain, but it just rained 35 days in a row ... so it seems like they should be used to it? and the traffic lights need to be redesigned. they use a red circle to signify that you can't turn left. i'm so used to seeing red arrows everywhere else i've been, that i almost turned left when i wasn't supposed to. another time when i was not turning, saw the red circle to the side and started to stop ... bad design. then they've got these half assed crosswalk signs that light up. my brain was not trained to respond to these weak signs, so i only figured out to stop because the car beside me was stopping. they need to get rid of those and put a real light in. they've also got permanent signs to measure speed ... which need to be vandalized until they disappear. but their U turns are funny. most every place i've been just has signs that say no U turn, while i saw one that had the U turn symbol with 'OK' underneath ... too funny. then they've got some streets that have the shoulder cut way out specifically made for a U turn. what else ... coming from primarily white wisconsin, there were times where i definitely felt like the minority. even at the gym. which is the first time i've ever seen badminton being played for exercise ... that was almost surreal. but the oddest thing is that there was hardly any mention of the superbowl. while i actually lived in pittsburgh for a short time, and can assure you that if i was in pittsburgh last week instead ... then that is probably the only thing that i would have heard about.


DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : travelingThu, 26 Jan 2006 15:29:30 GMT # 

forgot the brawn post last week ... although i have been working out. the local gym has been ridiculously packed with new years resolutions people. hoping that those people start falling out soon.

while traveling, i've been working out at a 24 hour fitness close to Redmond. freakin $15 a day! and what sucks about seattle gyms is that they don't have enough parking. inside the gym, its not that crowded, but parking is a pain in the ass.

joints are still getting back into it from after the holiday break, as well as getting my energy level back up. still off supplements. been doing more bodyweight movements and abs than heavy weights. did manage to go up to 5 plates (each side) for some reps on hammer bench. too bad my local gym doesnt have hammer machines, because i used to be able to max it out at 6 :( good news is that my left leg is finally healing. hamstring feels great, and my quad no longer hurts on leg extensions. still bugs me a little with squat, which pretty much means that i must have hurt it doing squats in the first place. thats a rule of thumb, if you hurt yourself and don't know how, then the guilty exercise is usually the last one to still bother the injury. so this'll make my 2nd squat injury ever, with the 1st one being a torn hip flexor years ago. except i knew exactly when i hurt that ... people standing about 10 feet away even heard it pop... Ouch!


DesktopWeb FormText   want to steal one of these x360 signsThu, 26 Jan 2006 01:35:27 GMT # 

... including the pole. think that i'll use Scoble's geek dinner as an alibi.


DesktopWeb FormText   mceDivX360 traffic sourcesWed, 25 Jan 2006 17:03:58 GMT # 

had put google analytics on my home page months ago ... and forgout about it. but i looked at it last week after the mceDivX360 release. number of visitors increased by about 15 times the norm. now its dropped back down to about double the norm. initially, the most traffic was coming from eHomeUpgrade.com. they are kind of slick because they make it easy to post to news portal sites. they were way in the lead, but then Major Nelson got back from vacation and quickly caught up. close behind was tweakers.net, which looks like german to me?


DesktopWeb FormText   in Redmond this weekTue, 24 Jan 2006 16:09:59 GMT # 

my hotels internet service only lets me receive email, i cannot send. so that's why i'm ignoring your emails. that and i despise web based email apps


DesktopWeb FormText   /mceDivX360 feature updateSun, 22 Jan 2006 00:28:56 GMT # 

updated it based on feedback from last week. the changes are : installer does more, progress bar fix, more logging to debug file, multiple profiles to downsample high res videos, stream and/or archive to file, directory setting for where to save encoded files, ability to start streaming in the middle of the video, and a configutation tool.

the article has also been updated with 2 new sections. the 'Version 2 Update' section goes into more detail about the changes listed above. and there is a 'Troubleshooting' section if you are having problems getting it to work. the 'Source' section has the new installation downloads. please post to the XBox MCE forum if you have questions.


DesktopWeb FormText   a month with the XBox 360Sat, 21 Jan 2006 06:42:07 GMT # 

had mine for a month now ... time for another review.

reported issues : have it running mostly nonstop and it has locked up about 5 times. a couple times when i was exiting the PGR3 game and a couple times in media center (usually after network congestion occurs). the only time it bothered me was when it locked up in the middle of a movie. definitely not from overheating. nor do i ever pay attention to the noise it makes. the only time i hear it is when i'm actively listening for it ... which is never.

accessories : the wireless controllers are great. one of my wireless controller seems to have charging issues (which i'll get xbox support to fix), but i like the controllers (overall) so much that i don't care. get these controllers to work on the PC. the wireless adapter works great too ... but start working on 802.11n. need a bigger harddrive soon (er, um 5-6 gigs for Final Fantasy alone). the headset sucks ... especially with my interest in speech technologies. i want wireless, behind the neck, stereo, and a noise cancelling mic. the remote controls suck too ... especially with my interest in media center. i want a remote to come out that uses the same wireless technologies as the controllers. nor do i care for the play and charge cables. i'll swap them out for the charging dock when it comes out. i'd also like to see a wireless keyboard come out to work with both the XBox and MCE (the Final Fantasy guys will want this too). i'm anxiously awaiting the camera ... especially if they let MS research get their hands on it. oh yeah, when visiting the parents, my mom wanted a mouse for playing Zuma :) and after further thought, i would not get an HD-DVD drive add-on. would just upgrade to an MCE computer that had HD-DVD instead.

media : i REALLY did buy an XBox just so i could figure out the MCE dev for extenders (e.g. the /mceDivX360 article). not on the best network so i do experience some lag. the lag is annoying when i'm trying to flip quickly through pictures or find a song. not as click happy when watching a video ... so it works great there. and now that i've been able to see Hosted HTML on my TV ... i hate it (Hosted HTML) even more. but the question remains if the Extender experience is good enough to keep me from hooking the MCE computer directly to the TV too. going to withhold that judgement until Vista MCE. really excited about the new dev options that we'll get at that time. windows media connect would be interesting if it shared video. but there's also talk of MS working on a streaming solution ... this could get confusing. and what the hell is the Video button doing on XBox that i can't download or upload content to? not even sure how to delete the samples that came there? i'm assuming that it means we will ultimately be able to download movies or tv shows over live?

live : bought the gold but (so far) could have gotten by with silver. MS is going to have to differentiate the offering more (beyond online play) to make it worthwhile for me. otherwise the marketplace is great. love the full game demos that they are putting up there. but why aren't new movie trailers popping up? MS points still suck, why aren't they just dollars? and there is something about Messenger integration in the works ... that could be interesting.

arcade : is where i'm sold. quick games that are easy to get into, and just as easy to get out of. cost is acceptable, except i have to say that bankshot billiards is definitely not worth $15. and i love not having to get up to swap discs to change games. this arcade feature actually makes me bitter when i have to load a CD for a full game. now i want managed copies of full games so i don't have to put a CD in for them. my only complaint about arcade is that it seems like its been a while since we got a new game.

full games : been able to play Kameo and PGR3. not to be a girl, but i liked Kameo better. because there was a story and some variety. PGR3 looked great, but got repetitive. drive drive buy car drive drive buy car drive drive. got PDZ and DOA4 on deck, but don't know when i'll get a chance to play them. also have some XBox1 games that i got cheap, but since they don't have achievements, i've pretty much lost all interest in playing them. in other words, i don't see the limited backwards compatibility as an issue.

final fantasy : i just dont get it. 5 to 6 gig install which takes hours (but the CD has to be in), along with some registration. wired USB keyboard is basically required. separate online service is required, i think with additional cost? no, no, no. then you have to spend time upskilling your character. i prefer less work with my games. i'm told FF is supposed to be a big deal ... but no thanks.

gamertags : achievements and gamer scores are still evil. they've forced me to do stuff in the games that i would have never attempted otherwise. and when one of my friends has an achievement that i don't, then i'm kind of compelled to attempt to get it. also like the integration with xbox forums. for games, it lets you know who to take advice from. for media, it provides a visual clue to find posts from the same person. as an experiment, i added my gamertag to the 2 XBox related dev articles i've written. now the /mceDivX360 article got ALOT of hits. but it only got me 2 new XBox friends. anyway, that was interesting to me.

hacks : it has been fun reading the hacking newsgroups. got the kiosk disk and seen how to create WMV disks. even done a little network sniffing of my own :)


DesktopWeb FormText   can access my own site againWed, 18 Jan 2006 06:01:05 GMT # 

hey hey, /mceDivX360 made digg.com today. think that's the 1st time i've had something there? and that totally beat down my server. was /. years ago, for my initial efforts with .NET user groups. must have been a slow weekend :)


DesktopWeb FormText   pending /mceDivX360 bug fixesTue, 17 Jan 2006 04:59:12 GMT # 

going to do a small update this weekend. possible fixes are the progress bar, maybe some logic for using diff profiles for high res videos, maybe some logic for saving an archive of the converted file, and more error logging.


DesktopWeb FormText   Major Nelson calls /mceDivX360 hackyTue, 17 Jan 2006 00:19:24 GMT # 

yes ... that hurt my feelings :) if you want to call it a hack ... talk to the MCE guys ... or add support to XBox 360. because here were the dev options.

- Hosted HTML : this gives a UI to work with, but isn't a powerful dev model. it would also require me to develop some ActiveX to kick off the encoder and/or possibly require a web server on MCE. so this would be a big pain, and its not the future of MCE.
- MCE AddIns (one time, long running, ListMaker) : one time and long running only support dialogs for UI, so they were out. a ListMaker AddIn gave the most bang for the buck.

of course it has to convert it before streaming ... because there is no codec on the XBox 360.

and the Media Center requirement is your issue too. open up Media Connect to support ANY video format from non MCE computers ... and i'll take another look.

do you think everybody wants to mod their XBox with XBMC to watch XviD ... i don't. anyway Major ... i'm on your side. i love MCE and i love my X360 (e.g. /mceXInput). MS wants the living room? ... i can help. i just offered up a non-mod workaround with the best i've currently got. you know, this might even sell a handful more 360s (when available) to be used as Extenders? at least the Vista MCE SDK will make things alot better. and i've already got a jump on that from the FrontRow remake. and if i've got your attention, when do we get Managed Direct3D on the XBox for Arcade games ... because i've been teaching myself how to write games. don't tell me you guys totally ignored the last 5 years of .NET? p.s. nice CAPTCHA


DesktopWeb FormText   traffic jamMon, 16 Jan 2006 18:12:24 GMT # 

ouch, so my server is getting hammered. /mceDivX360 is getting more hits than expected. based on the # of X360s currently available and those users which also have MCE and play DivX movies. anyway, sorry for the slowness.


DesktopWeb FormText   installer for /mceDivX360Sun, 15 Jan 2006 17:25:42 GMT # 

you still need to manually do some installations and copy some files, but i created an installer for registering the MCE AddIn.


DesktopWeb FormText   new article : /mceDivX360Sat, 14 Jan 2006 02:52:22 GMT # 

the /mceDivX360 article shows how to stream your DivX (and XviD) files from your Media Center PC to your X360. the MCE PC uses Windows Media Encoder to do real time encoding of DivX to an XBox compatible format. it uses a MediaCenter ListMaker Add-in to provide the UI for controlling Media Encoder from the X360. source code is included.


DesktopWeb FormText   WI.NET meeting tonightTue, 10 Jan 2006 21:50:10 GMT # 

forgot to post this earlier; but Damon Payne will be presenting Compact Framework v2 tonight at 7. details


DesktopWeb FormText   /cfWorldWind data uploadedTue, 10 Jan 2006 17:31:35 GMT # 

uploaded the Data files for /cfWorldWind to a large file hosting service, and updated the article's 'source' section to include the link and instructions for how to build and deploy it with VS.NET 2005. so this will let you run /cfWorldWind on your own Pocket PC devices. NOTE there is no binary install yet, just source code and data files.

i've run it on the test device it was developed on, and also an HTC Universal in portrait mode (not landscape). i'm assuming it will work on the K-Jam device too? do not know if it will work on Dell's x50v (with WM5 update) or the x51v? it definitely had issues with an early build of the x50v ... so somebody let me know.


DesktopWeb FormText   no RSS auto discovery linkSat, 07 Jan 2006 01:47:16 GMT # 

does this makes me an ass?

started to put one on my homepage and then decided not to. decided that if the person could not figure out how to grab it manually, then they weren't my target audience. OTOH it's a one time pain for subscribers ... sorry. this confuses the people that think blogging is a popularity contest.


DesktopWeb FormText   blog anniversary 2Fri, 06 Jan 2006 19:51:47 GMT # 

been blogging for 2 years now. one of the original plans was to use the blog as a way to find work. that seems to be just now starting to pan out. of course i've shot myself in the foot multiple times with offensive posts! now i think the blog serves much different purposes. mainly, i find it useful for me. its useful as an archive alone. every once in a while i'm searching my own blog for stuff that i've linked or even to find out what i was thinking months ago. its also useful to clarify my thoughts. just the act of writing something up forces me to think about certain topics a little deeper. and its my soap box. its almost theraputic when i post a bitching session. at least it seems to get it off my chest. its also been useful to find other blogs that i want to subscribe to. if i find somebody that links one of my posts, then i subscribe to their blog, most of the time it ends up that we are interested in similar things. next, the blog is a great replacement for an email list to let people know when i've put a new article out. the email list was just too hard to maintain and it felt intrusive. its also been useful as a development project. it was designed to support receiving posts from multiple devices in multiple formats and to render to multiple devices and multiple formats. the last update it has gotten was to test Hosted HTML for Media Center Edition. finally, the blog has been useful as a workout diary. i've used it to look up when i last cycled a supplement or when i first noticed an injury. and it somewhat motivates me to keep working out ... because i expect somebody to call me a lazy fat ass if the brawn posts stop showing up.

but the blog still sucks. i need to rewrite it in ASP.NET 2, implement categories, trackbacks, maybe handle comments differently, host it on a better server, etc... it also isn't very good to get questions answered. if i ask a tech question, i generally get a better answer from a newsgroup, if i get an answer at all. and i still prefer writing tech articles to tech blogs. articles let me present more information and spend more time on putting it together.


DesktopWeb FormText   MCE in your carFri, 06 Jan 2006 03:05:42 GMT # 

catching up on the MCE podcasts and they mentioned another reason to have voice control for MCE ... when you put it in your car! check out the install at hossweb.com


DesktopWeb FormText   Vista MCE dev storyFri, 06 Jan 2006 00:17:37 GMT # 

The Full Story on Developing for Media Center in Windows Vista

my favorite quote ... "Long term we hope folks will move to either WinFX or Media Center Add Ins because the experiences can be so much more immersive and rich, but we will maintain compatability for Hosted HTML since it is so ubiquitous". good, because i absolutely hate HTML on a TV and think all of the Online Spotlight apps need to switch to XBAP. AJAX isn't going to cut it for high def. was also wondering if they were going to bake in a local ASP.NET web server for use with Hosted HTML ... thats definitely out. now i just need to get a look at what Media Center Markup Language (MCML) looks like ...


DesktopWeb FormText   managed copies of video games?Thu, 05 Jan 2006 17:40:42 GMT # 

is a feature that i want, because i really like being able to quickly switch games in the xbox live arcade without having to get up and swap discs. since the MCE guys are providing that with DVDs, it seems like the x360 could do that with video games. a bigger hard drive would certainly be useful for that scenario. that would take care of the scratched disc problem. it would also take care of the problem of having to swap discs when a single game comes on multiple DVDs. would cut down some on noise and maybe load time. and it would appeal to the lazy ass in all of us.


DesktopWeb FormText   what i liked from the CES keynoteThu, 05 Jan 2006 16:17:41 GMT # 

first, the hardware that BillG started out with ... drool. second, it was good to see the smart table again. third, the MSN instant messaging agent. i want to be able to write my own agent ... does MSN support this today? i know about the Encarta agent, which is pretty slick. and we are going to get a NatualLanguageProcessing namespace with WinFX this year. looks like fun. this interests me because of the /msnBot i wrote about 4 years ago. all it did was hook up the Alice bot to MSN after initiating anonymous chat sessions. fourth, that 2 new Portable Media Centers were shown off ... now give us the freakin ability to write code to them. and integrate them with the x360 to watch movie and game trailers. actually, a portable xbox with mce functionality would make a nice competitor to the PSP. a portable xbox could be used to play scaled down versions of many of the live arcade games (Managed Direct3D Mobile anyone?). could get achievements while you're traveling ... i find that compelling. the x360 HD-DVD isnt so interesting to me. probably buy one, but i'll be too busy playing games to use it. mainly i like that it will offer an alternative to Blu-Ray.


DesktopWeb FormText   want xbox 360 alerts APIThu, 05 Jan 2006 04:17:05 GMT # 

when one of your friends comes online, it pops up a dialog notification. i've been trying (unsuccessfully) to sniff that message to see if i could recreate it from my own PC. what i really want to do is be able to send a similar message from my MCE PC. this would let me have a scheduler app running on my MCE PC, and it could send alerts to the x360. i would use it to alert me when i needed to pause the game to go take my supplements


DesktopWeb FormText   looking back at articlesThu, 05 Jan 2006 03:58:05 GMT # 

wrote over 12 articles last year. planned concentration for last year was Media Center Edition with Speech being secondary. the unplanned concentation dealt with Managed DirectX. so what was popular? ends up that the big articles for last year were /aiCaptcha, /cfWorldWind, /cameraFlow, and /backRow. the coolest thing is that /cfWorldWind and /cameraFlow were both linked by pt over at MAKE

/aiCaptcha taught me alot about image processing and neural networks. it was also interesting to watch peoples reaction. some people really thought i was out of line and should have been kicked out of the MVP program. other people thought it was a great example of how CAPTCHA is ineffective. from that article i've probably received about 50 requests to get the code, sell the code, break a different CAPTCHA, or test somebody's CAPTCHA implementation. anyway, i've turned down all those requests.

/cfWorldWind was one of the first Managed Direct3D Mobile applications. it taught me alot about Managed DirectX and 3D development. it got some interest from defense companies and even NASA, although i haven't done anything professionally with it. since there are commercial devices that can now run the code i need to do a quick re-release to provide the data so that others can actually run it.

/cameraFlow was my entry to the 'code'n your way to PDC' contest ... and it was a winner! it taught me alot about game development and video processing. not many people have shown interest in the code or using similar control techniques in other applications.

/backRow was one of the first WPF applications. it was intended to be an example of how WPF could be used by developers, but instead it was mostly hated by the Apple community. i am just now starting to get decent feedback from this effort. maybe something else will come out of this ...

some of my past articles still get a little juice. /barCode gets frequent emails. also the DIY speech synthesis (/ttSpeech) and speech recognition (/noReco) articles. notice that those are all AI-related. more people are starting to ask about /cfWSE2 too, which leads me to believe that it might have been ahead of its time?


DesktopWeb FormText   y2k5 reviewWed, 04 Jan 2006 18:13:04 GMT # 

time to evaluate my goals from last year ...

1) get back into shape (+). the first half of last year was wasted messing around with a home gym. have been hitting it hard for the last 6 months and am back in decent shape after laying off for a year. 2) learn spanish (-). spent alot of time at the start of the year teaching myself spanish. this was taking too much time away from tech, so i had to stop. at least i did figure out what it takes to learn a 2nd language. 3) write all new articles for a publisher (-). this was supposed to be an experiment (opposed to self publishing) to see if it helped my career. did get an article published on MSDN, but ended this experiment quickly. the main reason is that the process was too slow and i felt like it was holding me up. not to mention certain things i wanted to write about did not have a publication that would be a good fit.

so i didn't do so good meeting my goals. but its not that bad since i purposefully chose to discard 2 of them. and its not like i wasted that time. was on contract for the entire year. got switchted to a WS MVP. learned alot about game programming with Managed DirectX and won a trip to the PDC! also spent alot of time with Speech and Media Center development. do wish that i could have done more with Artificial Intelligence :(


DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : holidaysWed, 04 Jan 2006 03:02:40 GMT # 

vacation started by taking a week off from any type of workouts. this was spent at my parents so mom loaded me up with cookies and egg nog. then had a couple days back in Wisconsin and got 2 full body workouts in. left leg felt really good but my right elbow had tightened up. then i had to take another 5 days off for travel. so i got lots of good healing in; just ate too many cookies and didn't supplement properly. weight didn't go up though, still hanging at 250 lbs