Category Archives: GeekStuff


Shuffle By Album – Windows Phone 7 Edition

Guess I can start talking about this finally: Windows Phone 7 launches today in Europe and the application is in the Zune Marketplace already:

Shuffle By Album is a simple application that randomly selects an album, plays the entire album, and then randomly selects another album to play.

Why? Because I have a very eclectic music collection, ranging from modern rock to ancient art rock to classical to soundtracks… ever jump from Vivaldi to Green Day? Randomly get dropped into one piece of 2112 after listening to an Elvis track, without warning? Realize that all of your music has been recorded at different volume or bass levels that keep you adjusting levels between songs, rather than albums? That’s why I love this app: by playing through an entire album at a time, all of these issues are naturally dealt with.

If you have Zune already installed you’ll find it here: Zune Marketplace – and FAQ is posted below.
Continue reading Shuffle By Album – Windows Phone 7 Edition

QuickTime in IE

Mostly a note for myself, but something to share – for a couple of years now, whenever I went to http://www.apple.com with Internet Explorer, I found that the majority of the site was painfully slow. And by slow I mean that I thought I was on a modem. Over the last twelve months I tracked the problem down to QuickTime and Apple.com. No other site and no other plug-in caused these issues. Disabling QuickTime in the Manage Add-on dialog didn’t help but uninstalling did. Over the last six months, I’ve attempted different things – like the freakin’ search box being the thing that blocks the longest – but the safest bet was to just keep QT off my box.

Making an even longer story a little shorter, I found that QuickTimeCheck.ocx is cause of all the issues. I have no idea what it does or why it’s useful to anything on Apple.com but if you unregister this piece of shit control, Apple.com speeds back up to, well, usable speeds.

Adding to my list of tweaks for every new PC install: regsvr32 /u “C:\Program Files (x86)\QuickTime\QTSystem\QuickTimeCheck.ocx”

And before anyone jumps on the “Just use a Mac” or “Just use [insert browser that’s not IE here]” the problem was reported on Firefox as well – if you wanted to offer either of those pieces of feedback, please use the time to: ask Apple why they continue to say they support PC’s with such crappy support – do it right or get off the platform.

MultiFilez 2.1

Got an email the other day for a couple of new features for MultiFilez. In all honesty, I always thought of MultiFilez as “done.” I wrote it in Visual Studio 6.0 using MFC for a class library (and string class). Over the years, I found that I didn’t use it as much, especially since I don’t work with web pages anymore and Visual Studio has its own capacity for multi-find/replace. The feature request email mentioned that MultiFilez could handle far more files than the VS Find/Replace did and he had some modest asks, so I thought that maybe it was time to give it an update.

MultiFilez 2.1 doesn’t add many new features but it does now open to a larger dialog now. It made sense to me, since 640 x 480 isn’t the “default” size of most monitors, as it was when I first wrote it. I also tweaked some of the UI so it would support the latest common UI controls from Windows 7 and I cleaned up a couple of UI things. With this change, though, support for earlier versions of Windows has been dropped – because of this I’ve left the 2.0 version online as well as adding the new 2.1 version. After all, it could be another eight or so years for me to get out a new version!

Download: MultiFilez 2.1 | MultiFilez 2.0

Screenshots: MultiFilez 2.1 | MultiFilez 2.0

Avatar Marketplace: Open 24/7

Xbox Engineering Blog: “Wait a Minute. Are You Telling Me that My Avatar Gets to Wear Halo Armor and I Don’t?” I actually had this conversation with one of our Program Managers, when I heard about Avatar Marketplace for the first time. Avatar Marketplace — known as AMP to the internal team — was something that had been talked about for a while but hadn’t really started to take form until the summer of 2009. By that point, Xbox already offered multiple forms of downloadable content through the Marketplace — Games, Themes, Gamerpics, videos, and so on — and there was a full closet of existing clothing for Avatars, but we really wanted to make Avatars as customizable as the users who created them. Basically, we wanted a full marketplace.

Just a little cross-post of something I wrote up for the Xbox Engineering Blog a little while ago and just hit the website… some “behind the scenes” views on how the Avatar Marketplace got to where it is today.

Some day soon, I hope to have a little something more on where it goes tomorrow …or more accurately, November 4th.

iTunes 10: One Welcomed Feature

I don’t care about Ping and I’m not sure about the “new” interface. I like that they dropped the CD on the icon and all, but the only other UI difference I’ve noticed is that they now selectively show album art in the default view… so selectively, I had to go check to see if I lost album art when I brought over my library. I didn’t but it’s just a difference from iTunes 9 to 10.

One welcome feature, however, is the ability to play content right off a docked device even if the computer you’ve connected to isn’t the Sync’ing computer. For example, I plugged my iPhone 4 into a PC that has none of my content. In the past, iTunes would have tried to take over the phone and eventually tell me to piss off; most I could do was take photos off the thing using Windows Explorer. Now, with iTunes 10, I can browse all of the content that’s on my iPhone. Went to the movies section, played one, and it even started when I had last left off.

No matter what else iTunes does to me this release, this one little perk is worth it.

Mafia II

QJ.net: Italian American group slams Mafia II, Take-Two responds An Italian American organization is demanding Take-Two Interactive to hold back the release of Mafia II, which will be out next week. Calling the game “a pile of racist nonsense that perpetuates stereotypes of Italian Americans as violent, murderous mobsters,” UNICO National, which claims to be the largest Italian American service organization in the United States, is apparently not happy with the portrayal of Italians in the game.

Mission accomplished, UNICO: I wasn’t even thinking about this title… didn’t play Mafia, still stinging from let down of The Godfather II game, and I general let down when I saw what Mafia Wars on Facebook actually was… but after seeing this article… Now I want to buy this game.

Windows Phone 7 Series

After having seen the videos today of the Windows phone 7 Series prototype device, it brings me back to a device that’s already in my pocket: the Zune HD. Same layout, same font, same “I want to go here so I’ll click there” UX flow… it works very, very well as a media device. Looks like it might work well as phone, but I guess we have to wait until Holiday 2010 for that… at least I know I’ll be too busy to notice the time pass, what will all the Xbox stuff going on!

If you want an early preview of the Windows phone 7 Series [music/video] UX will likely feel like go get a Zune HD and play around with it.

Variations On A Theme – aka GodMode

There’s been a bunch of press lately about the “discovered” GodMode that’s in Windows 7. Basically, this is neither new or God-like. The GodMode name was used by the person that “reported this discovery” but the truth is that the “new feature zOMGBBQPEWPEWPEW!!1” was originally introduced in Windows 95.

Basically, you create a new folder in Windows Explorer, you name it SomeFunName.{ShellFolderGUID-from-Registry} and that new folder will be a “shortcut” to whatever namespace you gave it. In the case of naming a folder GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C} you end up with a folder named GodMode that opens to “all tasks” as is defined by that GUID. On my PC, I named the folder All Tasks.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C} which named my folder “All Tasks”. Windows 95 used this same technology with fonts in the form of Fonts.{93412589-74D4-4E4E-AD0E-E0CB621440FD}

What is nice about the All Tasks folder for me is that I’m able to make shortcuts to any of the tasks there; I could put “Add or remove programs” on my desktop now… what it’s is either an Easter Egg or a newly hidden feature in Windows 7.

Nice thing about this is that I wanted to post the GUID so I don’t have to go dig it up for new machines!

Happy Windows 7 Day!

Finally! You’ll get to start playing with what I’ve had installed for months and, well, to be honest it’s an exciting time. For me.

It’s 7:42 AM, I’m on campus in Studios West’s theater, watching a co-worker NOM on a blueberry muffin, and waiting for the launch event to start in New York… yes, I’m excited enough to have gotten up that early to be here. On top of that, it occurred to me in the shower that a number of users will be going from XP to Windows 7 – that is going to be very, very interesting to see, since they skip the intermediary view of Vista: going from XP blue to Seven glass? Nice!

For what it’s worth, for as good as 7 is – and it is good – its goodness started in Vista and, to be technologically blunt, Vista wasn’t as bad as most people would have had you believe. Vista was an improvement on XP, as 7 is an improvement on Vista… it’s the nature of software. I actually look forward to pointing out to people which of the features they love in 7 …that they missed out on for the last few years because they were in Vista. Reminds me of when Office exposed a ton of functionality with the Ribbon and were able to say “That’s not new to Office 2007… that was in Office XP.” But I digress…

Windows 7 – go get it.

Oh, and if you have a netbook or notebook without an optical drive, we’ve got that covered too: The Microsoft Store allows you to buy Windows 7 online, download it to a USB thumb drive, and install it from there.