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  • Updating to Windows 10 Frustration (Windows 8/8.1)

    I’m finally getting around to upgrading a couple of machines that I neglected to upgrade to Windows 10 during the free update.  As I technically qualify for the still free update for those that utilize accessibility features, I’m finally getting around to upgrading them.  However, both of these machines are experiencing the same symptoms… ultimately resulting in failure to upgrade (free or not).

    I suspect that part of the problem may be related to not having the latest updates for the current OS.  Here’s where the problem really starts… for whatever reason, not able to get the updates!

    I should mention that these machines were completely up-to-date when they were shelved but have been sitting around collecting dust for ages.  So there are probably a ton of updates available.  I’ve attempted letting this process run (checking for updates) for over 24 hours with no success.

    I found a page on Microsoft.com that provides 5 concrete steps to try in order to kick-start Windows Update on Windows 8.1; so I suppose I’ll have to give each of these a try.  As I type this, the first entry appears to have not worked.

    I’m adding this link here so I can easily find it in the near future.

    02-17-2017, 9:10 PM by CorySmith to AddressOf.com
  • Watching recorded TV with Windows Media Player

    I “cut the cord” years ago and have been using Windows Media Center to record television for ages.  It is with great sadness to see Microsoft drop Windows Media Center from Windows; however, that doesn’t change the fact that I literally have years (several seasons) of content to catch up on…

    I used to be able to just launch Windows Media Center on my regular machines and point the library to the main machine (the one doing the recordings) and the wife acceptance factor was high.  Those days, unfortunately are no more.  So what to do?

    Luckily, Windows Media Player is capable of watching these recorded files.  It’s not a perfect solution however as I don’t get the nice little thumbnails and easy access to all of the associated metadata; but the filename is enough to get the gist of the show and which order I should watch them in.

    I’ve been using this for a while now, however one thing has been really annoying…

    With Windows Media Center, I could quickly skip through the commercials – doing so in Windows Media Player has been really annoying as I’ve had to play a guessing game using the mouse over the Seek bar.

    Well no more, I just found the correct keyboard shortcuts! (As well as when/where you can utilize them.)

    • Right Arrow: Skip forward
    • Left Arrow: Skip backward
    • Shift + Right Arrow: Skip forward (small)
    • Shift + Left Arrow: Skip backward (small)
    • Ctrl + Right Arrow: Skip forward (large)
    • Ctrl + Left Arrow: Skip backward (large)

    There is still an annoyance with this approach in the fact that you have to have the current focus on the Seek bar; but once that is the case… I can bend the video to my will and commercials are far less annoying.

    As it turns out, pressing the Tab key 4x upon initially launching Windows Media Player will focus the Seek bar.

    For the record, I really wish Microsoft would reconsider their position on Windows Media Center and make it available as a separate product… furthermore, I’d like to see it available on Xbox One.  And, yes, I’m willing to pay for it.  I’d be first in line to pay $99 for a Xbox Play Anywhere copy!

    02-16-2017, 9:16 AM by CorySmith to AddressOf.com
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  • What happened to “What U Hear”?

    Back in the day, Windows used to have an “audio input” that would be whatever was currently playing… also known as a “loop back”.  Beginning with Windows 7, this “input” appears to have been removed.  As it turns out, it hasn’t been removed; this is even true as of Windows 10.  It’s just not available by default.  To enable:

    • Open the Recording Devices tool.
    • In the list of devices, right click in the “white space” (in other words, in the list but not on any of the actual devices).
    • Choose the Show Disabled Devices.
    • At this point, you should see Stereo Mix in the list.  It should appears somewhat grayed out as it is currently not enabled.  To enable, right click and choose Enable.
    • To activate this as the currently selected recording device, you can right click on the now active and available Stereo Mix input and choose Set as Default Device.

    Now that you’ve done this, you can use any audio recording application to record anything that you are currently listening to.

    I’m guessing that part of the reason why this was “hidden” is probably due to so many people having problems with this being available/active creating a horrible feedback loop?  Or is it because it could be used to record something like Pandora?

    For what it is worth, I’ve read that this input might not be available depending on your audio device and/or audio driver.  The audio device I’m using is an AC’97 compatible on-board device; so mileage may vary.

    02-15-2017, 10:14 PM by CorySmith to AddressOf.com
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  • BASIC SIG (February 7th, 2017) - VB's ByRef/ByVal (VB's "it just works" approach to CLR ref) and "All About Nullables"

    Rough agenda:

    * Progress update: Website, Slack.NET...
    * Discuss ways that you can get involved, regardless of skill level.
    * ByVal and ByRef, what does this mean along with deeper dive of CLR ref and how VB takes this a step further.
    * "All About Nullables"  Dim a As Integer?... A question?  What does that mean?  Why does it exist?  How do I handle these?  How does it affect/help me?  
    * Brainstorm future topics.

    If you haven't joined the Slack group, we've now automated the invite (leveraging SlackAPI) at BASICSIG.

    Please help spread the word across twitter and facebook...
     
    Please RSVP

    As a requirement to meet at this location, I have to share: This event is not sponsored or endorsed by the by the North Richland Hills Library, The Maker Spot or the City of North Richland Hills.
     
     
    01-11-2017, 2:24 PM by CorySmith to AddressOf.com
  • (Re)Announcing BASICSIG!

    After visiting Microsoft for the Microsoft MVP Summit in November, I was a bit “beat down”.  I came to a somewhat difficult (and in my mind, somewhat shocking) realization. 

    VB is dead!

    Wait, what?

    OK, so it requires a little explanation…

    After speaking with several long time MVP’s who were (and, in many cases, still are) self-identified as being VB MVP’s… I asked each and every one of them the following question:

    “Are you actually using VB?”

    Wow!  None of them…

    Reason being?

    Peer pressure.

    They all told me the same answer.  When they present at .NET user groups, they felt that when they presented topics using VB as a language, they were negatively received.  In other words, they are doing something that they enjoy in the language that they prefer on a platform that embraces multiple languages (I should also mention for FREE) and the audience response is their reason for feeling rejected?!?!?! 

    What kind of seriously broken steaming pile of fecal matter is that????

    This says volumes both on the part of the presenters and especially the general .NET community members. 

    Oh wait… it’s gets better…

    … redacted …

    (This section could not be shared as it would potentially break NDA… something I take very seriously… so…)

    Let me share how I felt for the first two days of the Summit…

    “Why did I waste my time coming to this thing?” which led to Tuesday evening me seriously considering catching an earlier flight home.  I figured, well, I’m here… let me at least stay the night and catch up with a few friends I’ve made over the years that I only see during these types of events.  I headed out to catch a shuttle to the other side of town…

    While waiting for the shuttle, two guys were talking and I could see that they were also fellow MVP’s.  I introduced myself and we got to talking.  They were going to use an Uber to go there and asked if I wanted to ride along.  Heck… haven’t “uber’d” as yet… so why not.

    It wasn’t until about halfway across town that the conversation changed… two fellow VB guys from the Netherlands who are actively using VB every day!  (Seriously!)

    …skipping the details…

    OK, so I decided to stay for the rest of the event.  The event itself was not something that I found tremendously valuable… it was what happened between the talks.

    VB is NOT dead!

    However, that doesn’t say that there is a serious problem with the state of VB.

    First… the good news.

    You can use VB (to a large degree) to build Xamarin based applications.  It’s not friendly, but at least it’s possible.

    Thanks to work that I participated in on the Thursday “hackathon”; VB can be used to build .NET Core applications (compile on Windows, run anywhere that .NET Core works).

    VB is a core part of Roslyn; one of the fundamental .NET’s future doesn’t work without it components.

    VB is now open source…

    There was a comment that was made that really stuck with me…

    “C# is the baby, VB is the teenager.”

    Everyone loves to give all their attention to the baby.  This makes the teenager feel a little left out.  They aren’t loved is the feeling the teenager gets.  However, this perception isn’t reality.  VB is loved.  It is still very much alive.  However, that new kid is getting a lot of attention.  And, you know what?  That’s OK!

    Now for the bad news…

    Microsoft has multiple children… VB, C#, F#, TypeScript, etc.

    They aren’t able to put themselves in a position of perceived favoritism.  Even doing their best to avoid that, they still come across as doing so.

    With that said… the voice of the VB community is “silent”.  Your champions are gone.  They’ve raised their white flags and have surrendered.  Within the "active" .NET community, VB is silent.  Amongst the "used to be" VB MVP's... they are on the verge of being extinct.

    What does this mean?

    We need new blood.  We need new champions.  We need to stand together and let our voice be heard.

    How do we do this?

    We need to band together, we need to build a strong community!  We need to work together.  We need to encourage new developers to join our ranks.  We need to help them grow.  We need to get involved. To do so, we need to be organized… we need to create our own events... events that welcome our ranks.

    This is where the BASICSIG comes into the picture.

    Announcing BASICSIG; a global organization dedicated to all of those interested in the continued usage and evolution of the BASIC programming language.

    Join the conversation… http://basicsig.com

    There’s a lot of work to be done, but to start… we can simply start by talking to one another.  So the first milestone is easily accomplished by joining our slack group.  To do so, visit http://basicsig.com and use that page to automate the invite.  In other words, if you are reading this and visit that site… put in your email address and I’ll send you an invite (automated)… using VB (of course).

    Stay tuned… there’s a lot more to come.

    [edit] For full disclosure, trying to talk to the "self-identified" VB MVP's was a momentous task as, unlike prior Summits, they weren't in any single place.  So I just did the best I could by being on the lookout for them.  So there could very well be some that are still very active; the point is that all of them that I encountered with the above question answered the same way.  So for those I could not find, there's still hope... maybe.  In other words, the poll results are only as good as the input data.  With that out of the way, the fact that the "VB crowd" was no longer clustered in any single discussion also says "something".  In other words, there were no official topics that were specifically targeted to the VB audience; at least, not until, several of us suggested one and Anthony D. Green (product manager for VB) was kind enough to put together something for us. ;-)  That discussion included exactly one (1) VB influencer apparently representing all of the USA (me).  We have to fix this. :-D

    01-11-2017, 8:44 AM by CorySmith to AddressOf.com
  • BASIC SIG (November 1st, 2016) - Are line numbers evil?

    This is a "challenge month" where each participant will use GW-BASIC to build something "interesting" (something that works) from scratch in the hour and a half that is available.  Each project will be judged on across several aspects and the winner will walk away with an ESP8266!
     

    As a requirement to meet at this location, I have to share: This event is not sponsored or endorsed by the by the North Richland Hills Library, The Maker Spot or the City of North Richland Hills.

  • BASIC SIG (October 4th, 2016) - What would you ask the VB team?

    I'll be going to Microsoft next month, so this month we will talk candidly about the current state of VB.NET... no sacred cows... ask anything and I'll be sure to get some of these questions answered with a recap (without breaking NDA) in Decembers meeting.

    As a requirement to meet at this location, I have to share: This event is not sponsored or endorsed by the by the North Richland Hills Library, The Maker Spot or the City of North Richland Hills.

  • BASIC SIG (September 6th, 2016) - Random Topics

    Work has clobbered me this month, so we will just be covering random topics, questions, etc.  So come and ask "anything".

    As a requirement to meet at this location, I have to share: This event is not sponsored or endorsed by the by the North Richland Hills Library, The Maker Spot or the City of North Richland Hills.

  • BASIC SIG (August 2nd, 2016) - VB.NET... let's finish building something!

    Continuing the efforts of the last two meetings, we will finish the project, using it to demonstrate the language features as well as some of the process behind "how to build software"... attend and participate.

    As a requirement to meet at this location, I have to share: This event is not sponsored or endorsed by the by the North Richland Hills Library, The Maker Spot or the City of North Richland Hills.

  • BASIC SIG (July 5th, 2016) - VB.NET... let's continue to build something!

    Last month went very well, a lot of interaction and we actually successfully built a random, undetermined, application from scratch that actually "worked".  We will continue to build on this project, using it to demonstrate the language features as well as some of the process behind "how to build software"... attend and participate.

    As a requirement to meet at this location, I have to share: This event is not sponsored or endorsed by the by the North Richland Hills Library, The Maker Spot or the City of North Richland Hills.

  • BASIC SIG (June 7th, 2016) - VB.NET... let's build something!

    We are going to build something using VB.NET... attend and participate.

    As a requirement to meet at this location, I have to share: This event is not sponsored or endorsed by the by the North Richland Hills Library, The Maker Spot or the City of North Richland Hills.

  • BASIC SIG (May 3rd, 2016) - Visual Basic 2015 and Beyond

    A review of where we are with Visual Basic 2015 followed by what *might* be coming next based on trends and review of history.

    As a requirement to meet at this location, I have to share: This event is not sponsored or endorsed by the by the North Richland Hills Library, The Maker Spot or the City of North Richland Hills.

  • BASIC SIG (April 5th, 2016) - ESP8266: IoT using BASIC! (Repeat)

    What do you get with you take a microcontroller that costs between $2-$10 and set it up so that you can program it via the web with BASIC?  Let's find out!

    As a requirement to meet at this location, I have to share: This event is not sponsored or endorsed by the by the North Richland Hills Library, The Maker Spot or the City of North Richland Hills.

  • BASIC SIG (March 1st, 2016) - ESP8266: IoT using BASIC!

    What do you get with you take a microcontroller that costs between $2-$10 and set it up so that you can program it via the web with BASIC?  Let's find out!

    As a requirement to meet at this location, I have to share: This event is not sponsored or endorsed by the by the North Richland Hills Library, The Maker Spot or the City of North Richland Hills.

  • BASIC SIG (February 2nd, 2016) - The basics of BASIC Pt.4

    We will continue covering the basics of BASIC; in other words, introduction to programming using Microsoft Visual BASIC 14.

    Additionally, I'm putting out an official call to arms for everyone to spread the word to every single person interested in developing in BASIC; whether experienced or new, hobbiest or professional and everywhere in between.  The focus, direction and attention for the future of Microsoft Visual BASIC is at another proverbial crossroads; meaning that this is *your* opportunity to have a voice.  More details to come as they develop.

    As usual, please RSVP so I know how much pizza to order.

    As a requirement to meet at this location, I have to share: This event is not sponsored or endorsed by the by the North Richland Hills Library, The Maker Spot or the City of North Richland Hills.

  • BASIC SIG (January 5th, 2016) - The basics of BASIC Pt.3

    We will continue covering the basics of BASIC; in other words, introduction to programming using Microsoft Visual BASIC 14.

    Additionally, I'm putting out an official call to arms for everyone to spread the word to every single person interested in developing in BASIC; whether experienced or new, hobbiest or professional and everywhere in between.  The focus, direction and attention for the future of Microsoft Visual BASIC is at another proverbial crossroads; meaning that this is *your* opportunity to have a voice.  More details to come as they develop.

    As usual, please RSVP so I know how much pizza to order.

    As a requirement to meet at this location, I have to share: This event is not sponsored or endorsed by the by the North Richland Hills Library, The Maker Spot or the City of North Richland Hills.

  • BASIC SIG (December 1st, 2015) - The basics of BASIC Pt.2

    We will continue covering the basics of BASIC; in other words, introduction to programming.

    As usual, please RSVP so I know how much pizza to order.

    As a requirement to meet at this location, I have to share: This event is not sponsored or endorsed by the by the North Richland Hills Library, The Maker Spot or the City of North Richland Hills

  • BASIC SIG (November 3rd, 2015) - The basics of BASIC and BCX

    (aka Beginning programming and C/C++ in BASIC)

    We will be covering the basics of BASIC; in other words, introduction to programming.  Additionally, for those who are more familiar with the basics, we will be discussing BCX; a version of BASIC that is essentially C/C++ with a BASIC spin.

    As usual, please RSVP so I know how much pizza to order.

    As a requirement to meet at this location, I have to share: This event is not sponsored or endorsed by the by the North Richland Hills Library, The Maker Spot or the City of North Richland Hills.

  • BASIC SIG (October 6th, 2015) - ESP8266, C++ and Tix Clocks

    The ESP8266 offers an extremely affordable and small solution for IoT projects and comes in several form factors.  This month we will be going through all the information that we are currently aware of, how to setup/configure a development environment and demonstrating an actual real-world project utilizing the ESP8266.

    The project is what is called a TIX clock.  It's easier to explain in person or you can look it up in your favorite search engine. ;-)  With that said, this particular version of the TIX clock has been designed to be IoT (internet enabled/required) and utilzing your workspace/homespace wifi to keep the clock spot on accurate.  To be clear, it doesn't actually keep time itself.  It is also configurable using a web browser over wifi.  So the only wired connection is the power plug... we have two different ones to demonstrate.

    So the agenda will go something like this:

    1. Introduction to the ESP8266.2. Different form factors of the ESP8266.3. Setting up a development environment to utilizing the ESP8266.5. Discuss what a Tix clock is.5. Demonstrate the Tix clock.6. Discuss the additional electronic components that make the project work.7. Show some code.
    8
    . Discuss some C++'isms that are relevant to the Tix clock project / ESP8266.
    9. General Q & A.

    Also, I'm setting aside one ESP8266 as a gift for one lucky person to-be-determined at the meeting. :-D

    As usual, please RSVP so I know how much pizza to order.

    As a requirement to meet at this location, I have to share: This event is not sponsored or endorsed by the by the North Richland Hills Library, The Maker Spot or the City of North Richland Hills.

  • BASIC SIG (September 1st, 2015) - Raspberry Pi 2 with Windows 10

    I’ve been working towards getting a new website, email, list server and separate Eventbrite account; however, time has run out and I absolutely must get this invite sent out… so here goes.

    This month we will be digging into building an application, from start to finish, on the Raspberry Pi 2 running Windows 10. Once the basic version of the application has been completed, we will spend a little time experimenting with “what’s next”.

    I also would like to have everyone that is working (or thinking of working on) projects to share what they are doing. I’ll get this started by sharing a few projects that I have in the works… one of them geared directly to hobbyist’s whom have little to no programming experience that would like to tinker with IoT. ;-)

    Please RSVP so I know how much pizza to order.

    As a requirement to meet at this location, I have to share: This event is not sponsored or endorsed by the by the North Richland Hills Library, The Maker Spot or the City of North Richland Hills.

  • BASIC SIG (August 4th, 2015)... has a new (real) home!

    Announcing a real home for the BASIC SIG meetings; this means that the meetings will actually happen every month starting August 4th (every first Tuesday)!!!!

    What makes this announcement even more AWESOME is where it actually is going to be...

    Thanks to a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, the North Richland Hills Public Library has created a very special place for people like you and I... the hobbyist!  As part of this project, they've also set aside a portion of this space for meetings just like the BASIC SIG and, with a huge smile, I can say that the BASIC SIG is the first regularly scheduled meeting that will be taking place in this new space!!!!  To read more about this awesome new space, please visit http://themakerspot.org.

    Yes, this means that the meetings will no longer be taking place at my home. I sigh, however, my wife rejoices. ;-) This does mean that more people can attend and that, as a whole, the thing is more real.

    The August 4th, 2015 meeting will be:

    Programming devices that cost less than $50 

    In this session we will cover various devices that cost less than $50 ranging from Arduino, Netduino, Galileo, Rasberry Pi 2 and Windows Phone...

    Pizza will be provided, please RSVP so we know how much to order.

    Yes, the meetings up to this point have been hit and miss, so I want to share part of this has because we needed a location and that location has been a long time coming since it was "literally being built".  Also, as a requirement to meet at this location, I also have to state: This event is not sponsored or endorsed by the by the North Richland Hills Library, The Maker Spot or the City of North Richland Hills.

  • Checkers Solitaire is now OSS

    The source code for Checkers Solitaire is now available on http://GitHub.com/DualBrain/CheckersSolitaire; go check it out, fork it, play with it, contribute, share, give me a pull request!

    Lack of ideas as to what you can do to contribute... how about helping get it to work on Mono or separating the UI from the rest of the code in order to port to XAML and possibly WinRT.

    02-04-2015, 11:22 AM by CorySmith to AddressOf.com
    Filed under: , , ,
  • I'm Going Open Source!

    Hmmm... not sure I really ever thought that I'd ever be the person saying those words, however, the day has finally come... hell has frozen over... open source is now in my vocabulary and I am embracing it wholeheartedly.  I'm definitely still a newb in the OSS space, very unfamiliar with the vernacular, tools are foreign, approach is "odd"; but I'm sure I'll get the hang of it over time.  In order to get started, I've resurrected a project that I made available here almost a decade ago (really, it's been that long?!?!?!) and published it to GitHub.

    I have several other projects, some older, some newer that might be making their way to GitHub; most likely using the MIT license.  These include:

    I'm also still weighing the pros/cons of making my tribute to GW-BASIC available as OSS.

    Why the hesitation?  Well, you know, although it's not something new, it's new to me.  I'm going to start with things that I've already made available (with possible updates) since, ultimately, I've already "exposed my soul" with those projects anyway.  As for other projects, I'm definitely experiencing feelings of fear, uncertainty and doubt regarding how things will be received and responded to; however, it's something that I think it's time to do.  There are also huge upsides to going OSS, especially for "code sample" type of projects.  Key of those advantages are that people can collaborate and contribute, something that really isn't all that straight forward using any other approach.  Additionally, the potential for reach is pretty astounding (which is one of those things that also adds FUD).  So we'll see where this goes from here.

    I do have to admit that this move on my part is definitely inspired in no small part to Microsoft's recent move with .NET in general toward OSS... 

    02-03-2015, 8:44 PM by CorySmith to AddressOf.com
  • BASIC SIG (September 2nd, 2014)

    Arduino *AND* Raspberri Pi (Oh My!)

    After discussing with several people, I came to the realization that since the format of this group is different than the typical presentation style meeting, we can easily handle BOTH!  Remember, this is a BASIC-themed hackerspace. It's not really about "presentations", more about being hands on.  Instead of "watching", it's about doing.  The only "rule" (if you want to call it that), is "if it can be done with BASIC, it should be done basic BASIC". ;-)

    On one side of the room, we will be working on getting VB.NET through Mono working on a Raspberry Pi.

    On the other side of the room, we will be getting an introduction to BCX to build for the Arduino along with everything that needs to be done to get an environment setup to do so.  We will also be learning more about what the Arduino is, playing with some simple electronics projects (along with covering some of the basics of electronics). Even if you don't have an Arduino, we will be looking at ways that you can still experiment (and learn) even without actual hardware.  If you do have the hardware, be sure to bring it along.  If you don't, just bring a laptop and you can still be involved.

    There are also a few BASIC SIG group related things to discuss, so we'll knock those out at the start of the meeting so we can get to the fun.

    I'll be ordering pizza once everyone has arrived (or I know you are definitely coming), so please RSVP (location, date, time, etc. included in the RSVP link).

    See you there.

    08-31-2014, 8:00 PM by CorySmith to AddressOf.com
    Filed under: , , , , ,
  • Announcing the BASIC SIG.

    If you are in the Dallas/Fort Worth area...

    BASIC SIG

    This is not your typical "user group"; instead think of it as more of a BASIC themed "hackerspace".  This is a hands-on oriented and user-to-user sharing/collaboration event.

    To RSVP, https://www.eventbrite.com/e/basic-sig-july-23rd-2014-tickets-12353095441 

    07-22-2014, 9:17 AM by CorySmith to AddressOf.com
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