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Win10 PWA Terminology

2018 May 31, 8:26

Folks familiar with JavaScript UWP apps in Win10 have often been confused by what PWAs in Win10 actually are. TLDR: PWAs in Win10 are simply JavaScript UWP apps. The main difference between these JS UWP Apps and our non-PWA JS UWP apps are our target end developer audience, and how we get Win10 PWAs into the Microsoft Store. See this Win10 blog post on PWAs on Win10 for related info.

Web App

On the web a subset of web sites are web apps. These are web sites that have app like behavior - that is a user might call it an app like Outlook, Maps or Gmail. And they may also have a W3C app manifest.

A subset of web apps are progressive web apps. Progressive web apps are web apps that have a W3C app manifest and a service worker. Various OSes are beginning to support PWAs as first class apps on their platform. This is true for Win10 as well in which PWAs are run as a WWA.

Windows Web App

In Win10 a WWA (Windows Web App) is an unofficial term for a JavaScript UWP app. These are UWP apps so they have an AppxManifest.xml, they are packaged in an Appx package, they run in an App Container, they use WinRT APIs, and are installed via the Microsoft Store. Specific to WWAs though, is that the AppxManifest.xml specifies a StartPage attribute identifying some HTML content to be used as the app. When the app is activated the OS will create a WWAHost.exe process that hosts the HTML content using the EdgeHtml rendering engine.

Packaged vs Hosted Web App

Within that we have a notion of a packaged web app and an HWA (hosted web app). There's no real technical distinction for the end developer between these two. The only real difference is whether the StartPage identifies remote HTML content on the web (HWA), or packaged HTML content from the app's appx package (packaged web app). An end developer may create an app that is a mix of these as well, with HTML content in the package and HTML content from the web. These terms are more like ends on a continuum and identifying two different developer scenarios since the underlying technical aspect is pretty much identical.

Win10 PWA

Win10 PWAs are simply HWAs that specify a StartPage of a URI for a PWA on the web. These are still JavaScript UWP apps with all the same behavior and abilities as other UWP apps. We have two ways of getting PWAs into the Microsoft Store as Win10 PWAs. The first is PWA Builder which is a tool that helps PWA end developers create and submit to the Microsoft Store a Win10 PWA appx package. The second is a crawler that runs over the web looking for PWAs which we convert and submit to the Store using an automated PWA Builder-like tool to create a Win10 PWA from PWAs on the web (see Welcoming PWAs to Win10 for more info). In both cases the conversion involves examining the PWAs W3C app manifest and producing a corresponding AppxManifest.xml. Not all features supported by AppxManifest.xml are also available in the W3c app manifest. But the result of PWA Builder can be a working starting point for end developers who can then update the AppxManifest.xml as they like to support features like share targets or others not available in W3C app manifests.

PermalinkCommentsJS pwa uwp web

WinRT Launcher API in PowerShell

2016 Mar 31, 10:12
You can call WinRT APIs from PowerShell. Here's a short example using the WinRT Launcher API:
[Windows.System.Launcher,Windows.System,ContentType=WindowsRuntime]
$uri = New-Object System.Uri "http://example.com/"
[Windows.System.Launcher]::LaunchUriAsync($uri)
Note that like using WinRT in .NET, you use the System.Uri .NET class instead of the Windows.Foundation.Uri WinRT class which is not projected and under the covers the system will convert the System.Uri to a Windows.Foundation.Uri.
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JavaScript Types and WinRT Types

2016 Jan 21, 5:35

MSDN covers the topic of JavaScript and WinRT type conversions provided by Chakra (JavaScript Representation of Windows Runtime Types and Considerations when Using the Windows Runtime API), but for the questions I get about it I’ll try to lay out some specifics of that discussion more plainly. I’ve made a TL;DR JavaScript types and WinRT types summary table.

WinRT Conversion JavaScript
Struct ↔️ JavaScript object with matching property names
Class or interface instance JavaScript object with matching property names
Windows.Foundation.Collections.IPropertySet JavaScript object with arbitrary property names
Any DOM object

Chakra, the JavaScript engine powering the Edge browser and JavaScript Windows Store apps, does the work to project WinRT into JavaScript. It is responsible for, among other things, converting back and forth between JavaScript types and WinRT types. Some basics are intuitive, like a JavaScript string is converted back and forth with WinRT’s string representation. For other basic types check out the MSDN links at the top of the page. For structs, interface instances, class instances, and objects things are more complicated.

A struct, class instance, or interface instance in WinRT is projected into JavaScript as a JavaScript object with corresponding property names and values. This JavaScript object representation of a WinRT type can be passed into other WinRT APIs that take the same underlying type as a parameter. This JavaScript object is special in that Chakra keeps a reference to the underlying WinRT object and so it can be reused with other WinRT APIs.

However, if you start with plain JavaScript objects and want to interact with WinRT APIs that take non-basic WinRT types, your options are less plentiful. You can use a plain JavaScript object as a WinRT struct, so long as the property names on the JavaScript object match the WinRT struct’s. Chakra will implicitly create an instance of the WinRT struct for you when you call a WinRT method that takes that WinRT struct as a parameter and fill in the WinRT struct’s values with the values from the corresponding properties on your JavaScript object.

// C# WinRT component
public struct ExampleStruct
{
public string String;
public int Int;
}

public sealed class ExampleStructContainer
{
ExampleStruct value;
public void Set(ExampleStruct value)
{
this.value = value;
}

public ExampleStruct Get()
{
return this.value;
}
}

// JS code
var structContainer = new ExampleWinRTComponent.ExampleNamespace.ExampleStructContainer();
structContainer.set({ string: "abc", int: 123 });
console.log("structContainer.get(): " + JSON.stringify(structContainer.get()));
// structContainer.get(): {"string":"abc","int":123}

You cannot have a plain JavaScript object and use it as a WinRT class instance or WinRT interface instance. Chakra does not provide such a conversion even with ES6 classes.

You cannot take a JavaScript object with arbitrary property names that are unknown at compile time and don’t correspond to a specific WinRT struct and pass that into a WinRT method. If you need to do this, you have to write additional JavaScript code to explicitly convert your arbitrary JavaScript object into an array of property name and value pairs or something else that could be represented in WinRT.

However, the other direction you can do. An instance of a Windows.Foundation.Collections.IPropertySet implementation in WinRT is projected into JavaScript as a JavaScript object with property names and values corresponding to the key and value pairs in the IPropertySet. In this way you can project a WinRT object as a JavaScript object with arbitrary property names and types. But again, the reverse is not possible. Chakra will not convert an arbitrary JavaScript object into an IPropertySet.

// C# WinRT component
public sealed class PropertySetContainer
{
private Windows.Foundation.Collections.IPropertySet otherValue = null;

public Windows.Foundation.Collections.IPropertySet other
{
get
{
return otherValue;
}
set
{
otherValue = value;
}
}
}

public sealed class PropertySet : Windows.Foundation.Collections.IPropertySet
{
private IDictionary map = new Dictionary();

public PropertySet()
{
map.Add("abc", "def");
map.Add("ghi", "jkl");
map.Add("mno", "pqr");
}
// ... rest of PropertySet implementation is simple wrapper around the map member.


// JS code
var propertySet = new ExampleWinRTComponent.ExampleNamespace.PropertySet();
console.log("propertySet: " + JSON.stringify(propertySet));
// propertySet: {"abc":"def","ghi":"jkl","mno":"pqr"}

var propertySetContainer = new ExampleWinRTComponent.ExampleNamespace.PropertySetContainer();
propertySetContainer.other = propertySet;
console.log("propertySetContainer.other: " + JSON.stringify(propertySetContainer.other));
// propertySetContainer.other: {"abc":"def","ghi":"jkl","mno":"pqr"}

try {
propertySetContainer.other = { "123": "456", "789": "012" };
}
catch (e) {
console.error("Error setting propertySetContainer.other: " + e);
// Error setting propertySetContainer.other: TypeError: Type mismatch
}

There’s also no way to implicitly convert a DOM object into a WinRT type. If you want to write third party WinRT code that interacts with the DOM, you must do so indirectly and explicitly in JavaScript code that is interacting with your third party WinRT. You’ll have to extract the information you want from your DOM objects to pass into WinRT methods and similarly have to pass messages out from WinRT that say what actions the JavaScript should perform on the DOM.

PermalinkCommentschakra development javascript winrt

Search Art | OpenGameArt.org

2014 Jan 22, 11:40

Various folks on OpenGameArt have converted the now public domain Glitch art assets into SVG and PNG.

PermalinkCommentsart glitch copyright game technical

Moving PowerShell data into Excel

2013 Aug 15, 10:04
PowerShell nicely includes ConvertTo-CSV and ConvertFrom-CSV which allow you to serialize and deserialize your PowerShell objects to and from CSV. Unfortunately the CSV produced by ConvertTo-CSV is not easily opened by Excel which expects by default different sets of delimiters and such. Looking online you'll find folks who recommend using automation via COM to create a new Excel instance and copy over the data in that fashion. This turns out to be very slow and impractical if you have large sets of data. However you can use automation to open CSV files with not the default set of delimiters. So the following isn't the best but it gets Excel to open a CSV file produced via ConvertTo-CSV and is faster than the other options:
Param([Parameter(Mandatory=$true)][string]$Path);

$excel = New-Object -ComObject Excel.Application

$xlWindows=2
$xlDelimited=1 # 1 = delimited, 2 = fixed width
$xlTextQualifierDoubleQuote=1 # 1= doublt quote, -4142 = no delim, 2 = single quote
$consequitiveDelim = $False;
$tabDelim = $False;
$semicolonDelim = $False;
$commaDelim = $True;
$StartRow=1
$Semicolon=$True

$excel.visible=$true
$excel.workbooks.OpenText($Path,$xlWindows,$StartRow,$xlDelimited,$xlTextQualifierDoubleQuote,$consequitiveDelim,$tabDelim,$semicolonDelim, $commaDelim);
See Workbooks.OpenText documentation for more information.
PermalinkCommentscsv excel powershell programming technical

URI functions in Windows Store Applications

2013 Jul 25, 1:00

Summary

The Modern SDK contains some URI related functionality as do libraries available in particular projection languages. Unfortunately, collectively these APIs do not cover all scenarios in all languages. Specifically, JavaScript and C++ have no URI building APIs, and C++ additionally has no percent-encoding/decoding APIs.
WinRT (JS and C++)
JS Only
C++ Only
.NET Only
Parse
 
Build
Normalize
Equality
 
 
Relative resolution
Encode data for including in URI property
Decode data extracted from URI property
Build Query
Parse Query
The Windows.Foudnation.Uri type is not projected into .NET modern applications. Instead those applications use System.Uri and the platform ensures that it is correctly converted back and forth between Windows.Foundation.Uri as appropriate. Accordingly the column marked WinRT above is applicable to JS and C++ modern applications but not .NET modern applications. The only entries above applicable to .NET are the .NET Only column and the WwwFormUrlDecoder in the bottom left which is available to .NET.

Scenarios

Parse

This functionality is provided by the WinRT API Windows.Foundation.Uri in C++ and JS, and by System.Uri in .NET.
Parsing a URI pulls it apart into its basic components without decoding or otherwise modifying the contents.
var uri = new Windows.Foundation.Uri("http://example.com/path%20segment1/path%20segment2?key1=value1&key2=value2");
console.log(uri.path);// /path%20segment1/path%20segment2

WsDecodeUrl (C++)

WsDecodeUrl is not suitable for general purpose URI parsing.  Use Windows.Foundation.Uri instead.

Build (C#)

URI building is only available in C# via System.UriBuilder.
URI building is the inverse of URI parsing: URI building allows the developer to specify the value of basic components of a URI and the API assembles them into a URI. 
To work around the lack of a URI building API developers will likely concatenate strings to form their URIs.  This can lead to injection bugs if they don’t validate or encode their input properly, but if based on trusted or known input is unlikely to have issues.
            Uri originalUri = new Uri("http://example.com/path1/?query");
            UriBuilder uriBuilder = new UriBuilder(originalUri);
            uriBuilder.Path = "/path2/";
            Uri newUri = uriBuilder.Uri; // http://example.com/path2/?query

WsEncodeUrl (C++)

WsEncodeUrl, in addition to building a URI from components also does some encoding.  It encodes non-US-ASCII characters as UTF8, the percent, and a subset of gen-delims based on the URI property: all :/?#[]@ are percent-encoded except :/@ in the path and :/?@ in query and fragment.
Accordingly, WsEncodeUrl is not suitable for general purpose URI building.  It is acceptable to use in the following cases:
- You’re building a URI out of non-encoded URI properties and don’t care about the difference between encoded and decoded characters.  For instance you’re the only one consuming the URI and you uniformly decode URI properties when consuming – for instance using WsDecodeUrl to consume the URI.
- You’re building a URI with URI properties that don’t contain any of the characters that WsEncodeUrl encodes.

Normalize

This functionality is provided by the WinRT API Windows.Foundation.Uri in C++ and JS and by System.Uri in .NET.  Normalization is applied during construction of the Uri object.
URI normalization is the application of URI normalization rules (including DNS normalization, IDN normalization, percent-encoding normalization, etc.) to the input URI.
        var normalizedUri = new Windows.Foundation.Uri("HTTP://EXAMPLE.COM/p%61th foo/");
        console.log(normalizedUri.absoluteUri); // http://example.com/path%20foo/
This is modulo Win8 812823 in which the Windows.Foundation.Uri.AbsoluteUri property returns a normalized IRI not a normalized URI.  This bug does not affect System.Uri.AbsoluteUri which returns a normalized URI.

Equality

This functionality is provided by the WinRT API Windows.Foundation.Uri in C++ and JS and by System.Uri in .NET. 
URI equality determines if two URIs are equal or not necessarily equal.
            var uri1 = new Windows.Foundation.Uri("HTTP://EXAMPLE.COM/p%61th foo/"),
                uri2 = new Windows.Foundation.Uri("http://example.com/path%20foo/");
            console.log(uri1.equals(uri2)); // true

Relative resolution

This functionality is provided by the WinRT API Windows.Foundation.Uri in C++ and JS and by System.Uri in .NET 
Relative resolution is a function that given an absolute URI A and a relative URI B, produces a new absolute URI C.  C is the combination of A and B in which the basic components specified in B override or combine with those in A under rules specified in RFC 3986.
        var baseUri = new Windows.Foundation.Uri("http://example.com/index.html"),
            relativeUri = "/path?query#fragment",
            absoluteUri = baseUri.combineUri(relativeUri);
        console.log(baseUri.absoluteUri);       // http://example.com/index.html
        console.log(absoluteUri.absoluteUri);   // http://example.com/path?query#fragment

Encode data for including in URI property

This functionality is available in JavaScript via encodeURIComponent and in C# via System.Uri.EscapeDataString. Although the two methods mentioned above will suffice for this purpose, they do not perform exactly the same operation.
Additionally we now have Windows.Foundation.Uri.EscapeComponent in WinRT, which is available in JavaScript and C++ (not C# since it doesn’t have access to Windows.Foundation.Uri).  This is also slightly different from the previously mentioned mechanisms but works best for this purpose.
Encoding data for inclusion in a URI property is necessary when constructing a URI from data.  In all the above cases the developer is dealing with a URI or substrings of a URI and so the strings are all encoded as appropriate. For instance, in the parsing example the path contains “path%20segment1” and not “path segment1”.  To construct a URI one must first construct the basic components of the URI which involves encoding the data.  For example, if one wanted to include “path segment / example” in the path of a URI, one must percent-encode the ‘ ‘ since it is not allowed in a URI, as well as the ‘/’ since although it is allowed, it is a delimiter and won’t be interpreted as data unless encoded.
If a developer does not have this API provided they can write it themselves.  Percent-encoding methods appear simple to write, but the difficult part is getting the set of characters to encode correct, as well as handling non-US-ASCII characters.
        var uri = new Windows.Foundation.Uri("http://example.com" +
            "/" + Windows.Foundation.Uri.escapeComponent("path segment / example") +
            "?key=" + Windows.Foundation.Uri.escapeComponent("=&?#"));
        console.log(uri.absoluteUri); // http://example.com/path%20segment%20%2F%20example?key=%3D%26%3F%23

WsEncodeUrl (C++)

In addition to building a URI from components, WsEncodeUrl also percent-encodes some characters.  However the API is not recommend for this scenario given the particular set of characters that are encoded and the convoluted nature in which a developer would have to use this API in order to use it for this purpose.
There are no general purpose scenarios for which the characters WsEncodeUrl encodes make sense: encode the %, encode a subset of gen-delims but not also encode the sub-delims.  For instance this could not replace encodeURIComponent in a C++ version of the following code snippet since if ‘value’ contained ‘&’ or ‘=’ (both sub-delims) they wouldn’t be encoded and would be confused for delimiters in the name value pairs in the query:
"http://example.com/?key=" + Windows.Foundation.Uri.escapeComponent(value)
Since WsEncodeUrl produces a string URI, to obtain the property they want to encode they’d need to parse the resulting URI.  WsDecodeUrl won’t work because it decodes the property but Windows.Foundation.Uri doesn’t decode.  Accordingly the developer could run their string through WsEncodeUrl then Windows.Foundation.Uri to extract the property.

Decode data extracted from URI property

This functionality is available in JavaScript via decodeURIComponent and in C# via System.Uri.UnescapeDataString. Although the two methods mentioned above will suffice for this purpose, they do not perform exactly the same operation.
Additionally we now also have Windows.Foundation.Uri.UnescapeComponent in WinRT, which is available in JavaScript and C++ (not C# since it doesn’t have access to Windows.Foundation.Uri).  This is also slightly different from the previously mentioned mechanisms but works best for this purpose.
Decoding is necessary when extracting data from a parsed URI property.  For example, if a URI query contains a series of name and value pairs delimited by ‘=’ between names and values, and by ‘&’ between pairs, one must first parse the query into name and value entries and then decode the values.  It is necessary to make this an extra step separate from parsing the URI property so that sub-delimiters (in this case ‘&’ and ‘=’) that are encoded will be interpreted as data, and those that are decoded will be interpreted as delimiters.
If a developer does not have this API provided they can write it themselves.  Percent-decoding methods appear simple to write, but have some tricky parts including correctly handling non-US-ASCII, and remembering not to decode .
In the following example, note that if unescapeComponent were called first, the encoded ‘&’ and ‘=’ would be decoded and interfere with the parsing of the name value pairs in the query.
            var uri = new Windows.Foundation.Uri("http://example.com/?foo=bar&array=%5B%27%E3%84%93%27%2C%27%26%27%2C%27%3D%27%2C%27%23%27%5D");
            uri.query.substr(1).split("&").forEach(
                function (keyValueString) {
                    var keyValue = keyValueString.split("=");
                    console.log(Windows.Foundation.Uri.unescapeComponent(keyValue[0]) + ": " + Windows.Foundation.Uri.unescapeComponent(keyValue[1]));
                    // foo: bar
                    // array: ['','&','=','#']
                });

WsDecodeUrl (C++)

Since WsDecodeUrl decodes all percent-encoded octets it could be used for general purpose percent-decoding but it takes a URI so would require the dev to construct a stub URI around the string they want to decode.  For example they could prefix “http:///#” to their string, run it through WsDecodeUrl and then extract the fragment property.  It is convoluted but will work correctly.

Parse Query

The query of a URI is often encoded as application/x-www-form-urlencoded which is percent-encoded name value pairs delimited by ‘&’ between pairs and ‘=’ between corresponding names and values.
In WinRT we have a class to parse this form of encoding using Windows.Foundation.WwwFormUrlDecoder.  The queryParsed property on the Windows.Foundation.Uri class is of this type and created with the query of its Uri:
    var uri = Windows.Foundation.Uri("http://example.com/?foo=bar&array=%5B%27%E3%84%93%27%2C%27%26%27%2C%27%3D%27%2C%27%23%27%5D");
    uri.queryParsed.forEach(
        function (pair) {
            console.log("name: " + pair.name + ", value: " + pair.value);
            // name: foo, value: bar
            // name: array, value: ['','&','=','#']
        });
    console.log(uri.queryParsed.getFirstValueByName("array")); // ['','&','=','#']
The QueryParsed property is only on Windows.Foundation.Uri and not System.Uri and accordingly is not available in .NET.  However the Windows.Foundation.WwwFormUrlDecoder class is available in C# and can be used manually:
            Uri uri = new Uri("http://example.com/?foo=bar&array=%5B%27%E3%84%93%27%2C%27%26%27%2C%27%3D%27%2C%27%23%27%5D");
            WwwFormUrlDecoder decoder = new WwwFormUrlDecoder(uri.Query);
            foreach (IWwwFormUrlDecoderEntry entry in decoder)
            {
                System.Diagnostics.Debug.WriteLine("name: " + entry.Name + ", value: " + entry.Value);
                // name: foo, value: bar
                // name: array, value: ['','&','=','#']
            }
 

Build Query

To build a query of name value pairs encoded as application/x-www-form-urlencoded there is no WinRT API to do this directly.  Instead a developer must do this manually making use of the code described in “Encode data for including in URI property”.
In terms of public releases, this property is only in the RC and later builds.
For example in JavaScript a developer may write:
            var uri = new Windows.Foundation.Uri("http://example.com/"),
                query = "?" + Windows.Foundation.Uri.escapeComponent("array") + "=" + Windows.Foundation.Uri.escapeComponent("['','&','=','#']");
 
            console.log(uri.combine(new Windows.Foundation.Uri(query)).absoluteUri); // http://example.com/?array=%5B'%E3%84%93'%2C'%26'%2C'%3D'%2C'%23'%5D
 
PermalinkCommentsc# c++ javascript technical uri windows windows-runtime windows-store

Percent Clcok Windows Store App Development Notes

2013 Jul 11, 1:00

My third completed Windows Store app is Percent Clock which displays portions of a time span like the time of the day or time until your next birthday, as a percentage. This was a small project I had previously started as a webpage and converted and finished as an HTML JavaScript Windows Store app.

The only somewhat interesting aspect of this app is that its the first app for which I tried charging. I picked the minimum amount for price 1.49 USD as it is a simple app and unsurprisingly it has sold very poorly. I'm considering releasing new instances of the app for specific scenarios:

  • Death Clock: viewing your current age with respect to your life expectancy as a percentage.
  • New Year Countdown: percentage of the year until New Years.
PermalinkCommentsdevelopment javascript technical windows windows-store

Native x86 Android runtime will enable Android apps on Windows

2011 May 26, 1:28This was on my todo list. I'll scratch it off knowing far more funded folks are doing this: "A startup called BlueStacks has developed an Android runtime environment for the Windows operating system. It will enable users to run Android applications alongside conventional Windows software on Microsoft's operating system." "One example would be a convertible netbook tablet that normally runs Windows but switches to an Android interface for greater touch-friendliness when the screen is flipped.
Such a product would offer the full power and multitasking capabilities of Windows but also benefit from having access to Android's broad touch-enabled software ecosystem."PermalinkCommentswindows programming android java technical

Internet probe can track you down to within 690 metres - tech - 05 April 2011 - New Scientist

2011 Apr 8, 2:07"On average their method gets to within 690 metres of the target and can be as close as 100 metres – good enough to identify the target computer's location to within a few streets.", "When a landmark machine and the target computer have shared a router, the researchers can compare how long a packet takes to reach each machine from the router; converted into an estimate of distance, this time difference narrows the search down further."PermalinkCommentstechnical internet privacy geo geolocation security

Comcast Digital Switch Impact on My Windows Media Center

2009 Sep 25, 2:19

Amateur wireless station (LOC)Irritatingly out of line with what their commercials say, in my area Comcast, under the covers of the national broadcast digital switch, is sneaking in their own switch to digital, moving channels above 30 to their own digital format. Previously, I had Windows 7 Media Center running on a PC with a Hauppauge PVR500 which can decode two television signals at once setup to record shows I like. The XBox 360 works great as a Media Center client letting me easily watch the recorded shows over my home network on my normal TV.

Unfortunately with Comcast's change, now one needs a cable box or a Comcast digital to analog converter in order to view their signal, but Comcast is offering up to two free converters for those who'd like them. The second of my two free converters I hooked up to the Media Center PC and I got the IR Blaster that came with my Hauppauge out of the garage. I plugged in the USB IR Blaster to my PC, connected one of the IR transmitters to the 1st port on the IR Blaster, and sat the IR transmitter next to the converter's IR receiver. I went through the Media Center TV setup again and happily it was able to figure out how to correctly change the channel on the converter. So I can record now, however:

  1. I can only record one thing at a time now
  2. Changing the channel is slow taking many seconds (no flipping through channels for me)
  3. The Hauppauge card can't know if the channel change worked. So if it tries to change to HBO (I get it for free with one of the Comcast packages) which is encrypted and the converted won't show, the channel doesn't change but the PC doesn't know it and ends up recording some other channel.
To fix (3) I need to manually go through and remove channels I don't have from the Media Center. To fix (1) I may be able to get a second IR transmitter, a third digital converter, hook it up to one of the other inputs on my Hauppauge, and go back through the Media Center TV setup. There's no fix for (2) but that's not so bad. All in all, its just generally frustrating that they're breaking my setup with no obvious benefit.PermalinkCommentsdigital tv hauppauge mce cable windows media center comcast

Time/Date Conversion Tool

2009 Aug 28, 3:39

I built timestamp.exe, a Windows command line tool to convert between computer and human readable date/time formats mostly for working on the first run wizard for IE8. We commonly write out our dates in binary form to the registry and in order to test and debug my work it became useful to be able to determine to what date the binary value of a FILETIME or SYSTEMTIME corresponded or to produce my own binary value of a FILETIME and insert it into the registry.

For instance, to convert to a binary value:

[PS C:\] timestamp -inString 2009/08/28:10:18 -outHexValue -convert filetime
2009/08/28:10:18 as FILETIME: 00 7c c8 d1 c8 27 ca 01

Converting in the other direction, if you don't know what format the bytes are in, just feed them in and timestamp will try all conversions and list only the valid ones:

[PS C:\] timestamp -inHexValue  "40 52 1c 3b"
40 52 1c 3b as FILETIME: 1601-01-01:00:01:39.171
40 52 1c 3b as Unix Time: 2001-06-05:03:30:08.000
40 52 1c 3b as DOS Time: 2009-08-28:10:18:00.000
(it also supports OLE Dates, and SYSTEMTIME which aren't listed there because the hex value isn't valid for those types). Or use the guess option to get timestamp's best guess:
[PS C:\] timestamp -inHexValue  "40 52 1c 3b" -convert guess
40 52 1c 3b as DOS Time: 2009-08-28:10:18:00.000

When I first wrote this I had a bug in my function that parses the date-time value string in which I could parse 2009-07-02:10:18 just fine, but I wouldn't be able to parse 2009-09-02:10:18 correctly. This was my code:

success = swscanf_s(timeString, L"%hi%*[\\/- ,]%hi%*[\\/- ,]%hi%*[\\/- ,Tt:.]%hi%*[:.]%hi%*[:.]%hi%*[:.]%hi", 
&systemTime->wYear,
&systemTime->wMonth,
&systemTime->wDay,
&systemTime->wHour,
&systemTime->wMinute,
&systemTime->wSecond,
&systemTime->wMilliseconds) > 1;

See the problem?

To convert between these various forms yourself read The Old New Thing date conversion article or Josh Poley's date time article. I previously wrote about date formats I like and dislike.

PermalinkCommentsdate date-time technical time windows tool

Creating Accelerators for Other People's Web Services

2009 Aug 18, 4:19

Before we shipped IE8 there were no Accelerators, so we had some fun making our own for our favorite web services. I've got a small set of tips for creating Accelerators for other people's web services. I was planning on writing this up as an IE blog post, but Jon wrote a post covering a similar area so rather than write a full and coherent blog post I'll just list a few points:

PermalinkCommentstechnical accelerator ie8 ie

Translation Party

2009 Aug 7, 7:03Starting with an English phrase, Translation Party converts back and forth between English and Japanese until the result no longer changes.PermalinkCommentshumor language google javascript english japanese translation via:waxy

Software Sleuthing : Date/Time Formats and Conversions

2009 Jul 7, 6:02More on converting between different date/time formats and the effective range of the formats.PermalinkCommentsdatetime time date programming c++ c technical

PowerShell Scanning Script

2009 Jun 27, 3:42

I've hooked up the printer/scanner to the Media Center PC since I leave that on all the time anyway so we can have a networked printer. I wanted to hook up the scanner in a somewhat similar fashion but I didn't want to install HP's software (other than the drivers of course). So I've written my own script for scanning in PowerShell that does the following:

  1. Scans using the Windows Image Acquisition APIs via COM
  2. Runs OCR on the image using Microsoft Office Document Imaging via COM (which may already be on your PC if you have Office installed)
  3. Converts the image to JPEG using .NET Image APIs
  4. Stores the OCR text into the EXIF comment field using .NET Image APIs (which means Windows Search can index the image by the text in the image)
  5. Moves the image to the public share

Here's the actual code from my scan.ps1 file:

param([Switch] $ShowProgress, [switch] $OpenCompletedResult)

$filePathTemplate = "C:\users\public\pictures\scanned\scan {0} {1}.{2}";
$time = get-date -uformat "%Y-%m-%d";

[void]([reflection.assembly]::loadfile( "C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.50727\System.Drawing.dll"))

$deviceManager = new-object -ComObject WIA.DeviceManager
$device = $deviceManager.DeviceInfos.Item(1).Connect();

foreach ($item in $device.Items) {
        $fileIdx = 0;
        while (test-path ($filePathTemplate -f $time,$fileIdx,"*")) {
                [void](++$fileIdx);
        }

        if ($ShowProgress) { "Scanning..." }

        $image = $item.Transfer();
        $fileName = ($filePathTemplate -f $time,$fileIdx,$image.FileExtension);
        $image.SaveFile($fileName);
        clear-variable image

        if ($ShowProgress) { "Running OCR..." }

        $modiDocument = new-object -comobject modi.document;
        $modiDocument.Create($fileName);
        $modiDocument.OCR();
        if ($modiDocument.Images.Count -gt 0) {
                $ocrText = $modiDocument.Images.Item(0).Layout.Text.ToString().Trim();
                $modiDocument.Close();
                clear-variable modiDocument

                if (!($ocrText.Equals(""))) {
                        $fileAsImage = New-Object -TypeName system.drawing.bitmap -ArgumentList $fileName
                        if (!($fileName.EndsWith(".jpg") -or $fileName.EndsWith(".jpeg"))) {
                                if ($ShowProgress) { "Converting to JPEG..." }

                                $newFileName = ($filePathTemplate -f $time,$fileIdx,"jpg");
                                $fileAsImage.Save($newFileName, [System.Drawing.Imaging.ImageFormat]::Jpeg);
                                $fileAsImage.Dispose();
                                del $fileName;

                                $fileAsImage = New-Object -TypeName system.drawing.bitmap -ArgumentList $newFileName 
                                $fileName = $newFileName
                        }

                        if ($ShowProgress) { "Saving OCR Text..." }

                        $property = $fileAsImage.PropertyItems[0];
                        $property.Id = 40092;
                        $property.Type = 1;
                        $property.Value = [system.text.encoding]::Unicode.GetBytes($ocrText);
                        $property.Len = $property.Value.Count;
                        $fileAsImage.SetPropertyItem($property);
                        $fileAsImage.Save(($fileName + ".new"));
                        $fileAsImage.Dispose();
                        del $fileName;
                        ren ($fileName + ".new") $fileName
                }
        }
        else {
                $modiDocument.Close();
                clear-variable modiDocument
        }

        if ($ShowProgress) { "Done." }

        if ($OpenCompletedResult) {
                . $fileName;
        }
        else {
                $result = dir $fileName;
                $result | add-member -membertype noteproperty -name OCRText -value $ocrText
                $result
        }
}

I ran into a few issues:

PermalinkCommentstechnical scanner ocr .net modi powershell office wia

IE6 denial message for Momentile.com on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

2009 Jun 15, 4:46"This was such a fun project - this is what users of Internet Explorer 6 see when they visit Momentile." Funny image. There's just two things I don't like about this: (a) it makes me feel sorry for IE6 when the only thing anybody should feel in relation to IE6 is the urge to upgrade to IE8 and (b) I hate it when websites get all preachy and try to convert you to another browser.PermalinkCommentshumor webdesign ie6 ie browser comic

Flickr Visual Search in IE8

2009 Apr 10, 9:48

A while ago I promised to say how an xsltproc Meddler script would be useful and the general answer is its useful for hooking up a client application that wants data from the web in a particular XML format and the data is available on the web but in another XML format. The specific case for this post is a Flickr Search service that includes IE8 Visual Search Suggestions. IE8 wants the Visual Search Suggestions XML format and Flickr gives out search data in their Flickr web API XML format.

So I wrote an XSLT to convert from Flickr Search XML to Visual Suggestions XML and used my xsltproc Meddler script to actually apply this xslt.

After getting this all working I've placed the result in two places: (1) I've updated the xsltproc Meddler script to include this XSLT and an XML file to install it as a search provider - although you'll need to edit the XML to include your own Flickr API key. (2) I've created a service for this so you can just install the Flickr search provider if you're interested in having the functionality and don't care about the implementation. Additionally, to the search provider I've added accelerator preview support to show the Flickr slideshow which I think looks snazzy.

Doing a quick search for this it looks like there's at least one other such implementation, but mine has the distinction of being done through XSLT which I provide, updated XML namespaces to work with the released version of IE8, and I made it so you know its good.

PermalinkCommentsmeddler xml ie8 xslt flickr technical boring search suggestions

Word Wrapping IE's Plain Text

2008 Oct 28, 11:23

If you view a plain text document in Internet Explorer 8, for instance the plain text version of Cory Doctorow's book Little Brother and press F12 to bring up the developer toolbar, you can see that IE simply takes the plain text, sticks it inside a

 tag, and renders it.  This means that word wrapping isn't supplied and the only line breaks that appear are those in the document.  However, since the text document is converted to HTML it means I can implement word wrap myself using a bookmarklet:
javascript:function ww() { var preTag = document.getElementsByTagName('pre')[0]; preTag.style.fontFamily="arial"; preTag.style.wordWrap='break-word'; }; ww();
After adding a favorite and setting the favorite's URL to the previous, I can view plain text documents, and select my Word Wrap favorite to apply word wrap and non-fixed width font.
PermalinkCommentsbrowser technical ie wordwrap

Party Movies Recommended by Netflix

2008 Sep 18, 10:31
Poster for 24 Hour Party PeoplePoster for Human TrafficPoster for The Boys and Girls Guide to Getting Down

Netflix has recommended three party movies over my time with Netflix and if you're OK with movies featuring sex, drugs, rock&roll (or techno) as almost the main character then I can recommend at least The Boys and Girls Guide to Getting Down.

24 Hour Party People is based on the true story of Tony Wilson, journalist, band manager, and club owner (not all at once) around the rise of punk and new wave in England. Like many true-story based movies it starts off strong and very interesting but gets very slow at the end like the writers got bored and just started copying the actual events. Unless you have some interest in the history of music in the 80s in Manchester I don't recommend this movie.

Human Traffic is fun and funny following a group of friends going out for a night of clubbing and partying. I had to get over seeing John Simm as not The Master from Doctor Who but rather as a partying youth. It felt like it was geared towards viewers who were on something like the totally odd techno musical interludes with the characters dancing for no apparent reason. Otherwise the movie was good.

The Boys and Girls Guide to Getting Down is done in the style of an old educational movie on the topic of clubbing and partying. It sounds like a premise that would get old but they do a good job. While demonstrating drinking and driving they have scientists push a mouse around in a toy convertible. Enough said. It was funny and I recommend it.

PermalinkCommentsparty movie netflix

Microsoft launches 3D wonder Photosynth for consumers | Webware : Cool Web apps for everyone - CNET

2008 Aug 22, 5:35Photosynth now available and easy to use: "Photosynth, a technology demo from Microsoft Live Labs, has graduated from its "ooh, that's pretty" status to being a viable Web service for consumers. The technology, which takes a grouping of photographs and stitches them into a faux 3D environment, can now be implemented with photos you've taken on your digital camera or mobile phone, and converted right on your computer. Previously, the process of stitching these photos together took weeks of processing on specially configured server arrays. With its latest version, Microsoft has managed to shrink that into around the time it takes to upload your photos."PermalinkCommentsvia:felix42 photosynth photos photography 3d microsoft free tool
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