Posts Lot's o' stuff...

Lot's o' stuff...

Man, I've been busy, busy, busy...


If you haven't taken a look at XboxFriends lately and your an Xbox Live gamer, you really should take the time to do so.  The version releases have stabilized somewhat and all systems seem to be pretty good to go.  Don't get me wrong, I still have a lot of work to do; but overall the application is stable and does much of what you'd expect it to do.

I am waiting for a company to send me a really cool desktop gadget so I can get XBF working with it.  When it shows up and I get it working, I'll post a video demonstrating its major geek factor.

Movie Jukebox

I've been working pretty heavily on my Movie Jukebox software and it's really coming together nicely.  I've re-written most of the UI and have a strong separation between the UI and guts so that I can start working on a Vista/Media Center “native” version as well.  Speaking of Vista...

Windows Vista / Media Center

Windows Vista RC1 was released a couple of weeks ago (it was made available on MSDN Subscriber Downloads last week, I believe) and I've been giving it a go on several machines.  I've got it on a laptop that does't support Aero (”Glass”).  I've got a second drive in my main machine so I can just toggle the boot drive accordingly to switch between XP and Vista.  I've also “upgraded” my main Media Center test environment.  Of course, some changes had to be made to Movie Jukebox accordingly due to “security” and other issues that Vista likes to enforce.  For example, I was using SendKeys.Send to translate the incoming remote control items into key counterparts for processing in the keypress handler.  Apparently SendKeys.Send causes security exceptions for “hooking” while utilizing the Interop methods to get the remote control items doesn't cause any complaining.

As for the new Media Center... I really like the new interface... but I really, really, really hope that the performance it is exhibiting (or lack there of) isn't representative of what the release will be.  I've also seen, on more than one occasion, where pressing the back button takes you to a “blank” screen and you can't seem to get out of that screen except by exiting.  If you move the mouse while on this screen, the clock/media center start, back (grayed out) and exit buttons show up so you can actually exit the application gracefully.  The media center start button doesn't do anything either; so only choice is to exit.

Another annoying thing about Media Center that I really hope they resolve is the whole “flashing” screen effect when launching or task switching between the rest of Vista and Media Center.

SQL Everywhere

In preparation for the pending release of SQL Everywhere, I suppose it was time to dig in and see what it was all about.  Essentially SQL Everywhere (SqlEv) is identical to SQL Mobile (SqlCe) except that it's a) officially supported on Windows XP and greater, b) licensed to do so and c) has it's name changed to protect the innocent.  So, I've modified the Movie Jukebox project to utilize SqlCe (for now) instead of SQL Express.  There's a lot of benefits of doing this; but gotta tell ya that there are a whole lot of gotchas as well.  I will be talking more about this in the near future, but that will be after I present on it at the Fort Worth .NET Users Group meeting next Tuesday. ;-)

Media Center Presentation Layer

The new Media Center (Windows Vista) will now allow you to develop applications that are “native” and allow you to leverage many of the UI elements accordingly.  These applications will “feel” like they are part of Media Center rather than hacked together HTML “pages” that usually don't work very well in the first place.  Obviously I'm very interested in delving into this deeper as time permits and will be discussing the experience.  What I can report at this point is that (unlike some other teams in Microsoft), VB isn't a dirty word with this team.

According to Aaron Stebner, “New Visual Basic version of the Windows Media Center Presentation Layer application project template. It will work with both Visual Basic 2005 Express Edition and Visual Studio 2005 Standard and higher editions.”

Although I haven't dug into this yet, I do want to send out a thank you to the team for keeping the most widely used development language in mind as they head toward their release.

XNA Game Studio Express

Yet another thing I'd like to dig into, but due to other items, it's obviously lower on the list (but not of a lesser interest by any means).  However, if you'd like to get the scoop on this from someone “in the know”, bounce over to Rom's blog entry discussing his first impression.

DotNetNuke -> Community Server

DotNetNuke has got to be one of the most unstable web products out there.  Don't get me wrong, it's a great product... but when you have something that just “fails” out of the blue.. you have to wonder how much focus on testing they do.  You'll have a site setup and running just fine, then months later with no changes, it just quits working.  As an example, check out  Yet another thing I have to add to the list, and at some priority due to the problem, is to ditch DNN for CS... of which just appears to work.  This is really disappointing since I'd, in all honesty, rather be using something developed in VB over C#; but it just doesn't work well for my needs (I say that since it seems to work great for others).  I don't need problems, I need solutions... and Community Server seems to do the job pretty well and, once configured, appears to keep trucking along.  And, with the way they've developed things, I can still use VB to extend/enhance (not that they “like” the idea, but hey I don't really care what they think as long as it works).


I'll be presenting on “SQL Express.  What does it really mean to you?” next Tuesday night at the Fort Worth .NET Users Group and it appears I may be flying to the Minneapolis, MN to present at the Twin Cities Code Camp in November.

With all of the above, I still have a more than full time job to focus on as well... not to mention the martial arts... and the occasional gaming... oh yeah... don't forget about having to “spend some quality time” with the wife (so yes, this list is not in order of priority)... I hope you understand the lack of a few blog entries.  They are coming; many of which have just been waiting for new stuff to get further along before I really dig deep into them.  I so hate being teased reading about stuff that is, ummmm, way, way, way away... so I don't write about them either.  Don't get me wrong, I do read about them and enjoy learning about what's coming; but I just can't devote a whole lot of time for something that I can't leverage for existing problems.  Now that these new technologies, sdks, operating systems, etc. are just around the corner, it's time to get busy. ;-)

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