Saturday, February 20, 2010

Wireless mic required -- or not

We recently acquired Rock Band 2 and I've been looking around for a wireless mic to use with it.  I was going to pick up a copy of Lips but I was at my local Best Buy last night and saw a game on their clearance table that seemed interesting.  It was a singing game based on High School Musical and appeared to come with a mic (though you couldn't see the mic).  The game was marked $9.99 so I examined it more closely.

Reading the box there was a small blurb on the back that said the following:
Gameplay requires use of a Logitech or Xbox 360 wireless microphone.

There were also several areas on the box that said a microphone was included.  So, trusting what it is telling me, I picked it up.  Yep, you guessed it.  The microphone was wired.  Maybe the reason it was on the clearance table is that noone could play it since a wireless mic is required but it doesn't come with one.

NOTE:  I didn't have a camera with me so I couldn't take a picture of the box.  You'll just have to trust me.

One of the things OS/X does right

I'm writing this on a 2008 Macbook Pro that I dual boot between Snow Leopard and Windows 7.  I spend most of my time in Windows but occasionally I pop into SL to test something out or use iMovie to edit some video.  From time to time, when OS/X boots, you get this nice System Update dialog that explains that some installed software on your system needs to be updated.  Here's a shot of the one I just got.

What's interesting to notice is that it is listing non-Apple products as having upgrade available.  My Epson printer drivers and Microsoft provided remote desktop client software are both listed.

Why can't Microsoft do this?  Why do I have to manually check for upgrades for products like this?

Keeping a system fully updated is the easiest way to keep things running smoothly.  Microsoft does a nice job of this with system level patches and hardware components, but it does nothing to help keep my products updated.   Windows 7 gets a lot of things right but this one goes to OS/X.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The loser always complains

Years ago my father would sit and complain about the officiating during UK basketball road games.  He would say that you could take the sports section of the newspapers, pick out the home team on all college basketball games, and 90% of them would be winners.  It didn't matter who was playing at all.  It just mattered where they were playing.  I tested that theory a few times and while it may not have been 90% it was clear that most of the time the home team won.  Was the officiating bias?  Who knows but I would like to think it isn't.

Last night we all got to witness a slugfest in Starkville, MS.  It ended with a UK overtime win but the real story is all the whiners that are complaining about the officiating and the truly classless fans who threw water bottles on the floor.

Was the officiating bad?  Yes, but was it one-sided.  I don't think so.  Here are some highlights:

  • Yes, the goal-tending call could have gone either way but you try and make that call correct 100% of the time at game speed.  UK had a similar play a few games ago that was called.

  • Some guy on the Rupps Rafters forum posted images from his DVR that clearly show that the charge called on Patrick Patterson late in the game was not a charge at all.

  • Varnado said in post-game comments that he thought his fourth foul was suspect.  It may have been but how about the no-call when you were completely draped over a UK player in the second half?  That could have been called intentional but was not even called at all.

  • And what about the foul called on Cousins when video replay clearly showed he didn't even touch the guy at all?

The point is that in a fast-paced, very competitive game like that there are going to be missed calls.  You are asking 3 *humans* to keep their eye on something like 400 square feet of court and catch everything that goes on, not to mention keeping your eye on the shot clock in case it doesn't start, and making sure the score is correct, and making sure substitutions are done correctly, and..  Well, you get the point.  It's hard.  But the good thing is that over a 40 minute game the calls will normally balance out (sort of -- see my opening remarks about home court advantage).

Yes, I'm a UK fan and I'm glad they won.  But I'm also certain that if Varnardo doesn't foul out and if their leading scorer plays it could have been very different.  Mississippi St. is a good team and I'm glad we don't have to play them in Starkville again this season.

I'm not complaining about the refs because my chosen team won.  The next time UK loses I'm sure I'll complain about the officiating.  You see -- the loser always complains.

Monday, February 15, 2010

MySQL Connector/Net 6.3.0 alpha 1 has been released

MySQL Connector/Net 6.3.0, a new version of the all-managed .NET driver
for MySQL has been released. This is an alpha release and is intended to
introduce you to the new features and enhancements we are planning. This
release should not be used in a production environment.

It is now available in source and binary form from
[] and mirror sites
(note that not all mirror sites may be up to date at this point of time
- if you can't find this version on some mirror, please try again later
or choose another download site.)

New features or changes:

  • Visual Studio 2010 RC support

  • Nested transaction scope support

What we know may be broken

  • Documentation is not updated yet and is not integrated into VS 2010

  • Data editing view (in VS) does not function in this build

Please let us know what else we broke and how we can make it better!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Custom Installer and .NET 4 problem? Solved!

I recently encountered a problem with custom installers and .NET 4. If you are using an Installer-derived class in an assembly that allows partially trusted callers then you may see this when you attempt to install with InstallUtil:

Inheritance security rules violated by type: 'Class'. Derived types must either match the security accessibility of the base type or be less accessible.

After a little googling, I found this post that helped me solve part of the issue.  The other thing you need to do is go to your installer class and add the following attributes to it.  These will demand full trust for the installer class.

[PermissionSetAttribute(SecurityAction.InheritanceDemand, Name = "FullTrust")]
[PermissionSetAttribute(SecurityAction.LinkDemand, Name = "FullTrust")]

That’s it!  Your installer class should work with .NET 2 and .NET 4 now.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The one where I realized Apple is brilliant

A few days ago I was following one of the many live blogs of the Apple iPad announcement and had both a sense of excitement and disappointment.  I've read all the twitter and blog posts about how the product will fail or how it will change the world.  Remember, it is "magical".  But it was during that live blog that I realized what I think Apple is doing and, if I'm right, they are absolutely brilliant.

Now, before I reveal my brilliance let me just say that I am 100% sure that I am not the first to figure this out.  In fact, I'm quite embarrassed that it too me this long but it's ok.  I'll live.

So, we all know that Microsoft and Apple have been mortal enemies for as long as personal computers have been around.  They've been battling on the personal computer battleground and Apple has been taking heavy losses.  In fact, I think we would all agree that generally the desktop battle has been over for a while.  So what does an army do when they are being defeated?  Worded differently, what do you do when you are losing the game?  Change the rules of the game of course!

It's long been common knowledge that we will eventually not be using desktop computers as we now know them.  With cloud storage and cloud apps we now need much less hardware to get work done.  And with hardware miniaturization we can do more and more with smaller and smaller packages.  Heck, my phone could quite likely land one of the Apollo missions.  So what should Apple do?  Take over the small-form-factor, mobile computer business of course!  But where is the epiphany?

Well, my light bulb went on during the live blog when I saw the keyboard dock for the iPad.  My thought was 'Holy cow, that looks just like a computer'.  Guess what. It is a computer.  And by all accounts I've read, it's a damn fast computer that runs iWork (I'll get to that in a minute).  So while all the Microsofties will snicker at Apple having 7-9% of the installed desktop space, I'm guessing that Apple counts those numbers a little differently.

Now there are rumors that Apple is working on a larger iPad that is more like a computer. So, while Apple battles with Microsoft on the desktop front my guess is that they don't really care about that space.  They are just keeping an opposing army busy while they completely dominate and take over the rest of the battlefield.  Is there any question that Apple has and probably will continue to dominate the mobile phone and now the tablet space?  Yes, I know that Microsoft is working with partners on iSlate and that Windows 7 is touch capable but if you think Microsoft can deliver a fully integrated and solid user experience then just read some of my KISS posts.  They suck at UI and user experience.

Oh, and let's not forget about price.  I recently read this piece about premium-priced computers.  Apple computers are generally much more expensive than PCs but many will argue they are worth it.  I own a Macbook Pro and I will admit that it is the best laptop I've ever owned.  Form, function, and finish are all excellent.  So it's easy to argue that they should sell for more but how much more?  In any product comparison there is a price point where most people will not buy the better model.  The price is just too high.

The base iPad sells for $499 so suddenly your grandma can get a fully functional Apple computer for < $500.  So let me ask you this.  If an Apple laptop is $1000 and the roughly equivalent PC is $600 which one do most people get?  Easy right?  The PC.  But if the Apple is $500 and the PC is $250, now which one do most people get?  Hmm.  Not so easy.  It's easy to see a future with a completely functional, touch screen, Apple computer for $750.  I can tell you that unless things change with Windows, I know which one I'll get for my grandma.

Do I have a third choice?

So, a while back I started this series called KISS.  This stood for Keep It Simple Stupid which is an age-old phrase commonly applied to computers.  I posted several times about areas where Windows really breaks this rule.  While I'm not announcing the revival of that project, I did recently run across another instance I thought would be fun to share.

Now, this is something I've seen many, many times which is actually a sad confession.  Sad because it shows that Windows users really can use lame UI for years and not even really notice it.  We are just used to crap.

So, yesterday I was setting up a new Windows Server 2008 R2 box in VirtualBox (a killer VM product if you don't already know) and came to the following screen during setup.

So, let us be clear.  This is a brand new machine (VM) and my two choices are Upgrade and Custom?  Huh?  First, there is nothing to upgrade so is it even a choice?  So my other choice is Custom (advanced) which sounds like I want to do very advanced things like partition the drive, etc.  Why is there not a ‘Simple Install’ option?  Linux has this.  OS/X has this.

Oh, and before you comment that this is a server install so the user is likely quite technical, the Windows 7 and Vista install was just like this.  Yes I am a geek so this dialog has never tripped me up but what would my mom do with this dialog?  I know what she would do.  She would call me.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Site redesign

Hey yall.  Spent some time tonight working on a new site design.  Yeah, I know this theme is popular and all over the net but it's really cool and I didn't want to spend much time looking for a nice theme.  Anyway, I'm still tweaking things so let me what works, what doesn't, and what you think.