Saturday, June 16, 2007

CueCat vs the USB Keyboard

Ages ago I picked up one of the RadioShacks CueCats but I never used it.  Up until today it sat in a box of computer junk having survived several purges.  You know Purges:  You have so much junk you have to get ride of the old.

I never got ride of the CueCat because barcode scanners are not cheap, which I do not understand.

Any way, I came across Scott Hanselman's article on a .Net app for the CueCat, Coding4Fun Hardware Boneyard - Using the CueCat with .NET, and decided to break out the old dusty cat and give it a spin.

The code was no problem, getting my machine to read the CueCat was.  See, I have a Logitech wireless keyborard and mouse so Windows XPdid not load the PS/2 drivers.  I wound up having to dig up an old PS/2 keyboard (from the same junk box, you should always have PS/2 keyboard and mouse handy!) plugged it in, rebooted and vola, it worked.

Now I am off to inventory my CD collection.  And my books.  Maybe the comic books.  If I do the pantry my wife my smack me.... 

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Chevy Vega vs. TestDriven.Net

My Dad originally made a living as an auto machinic and working on cars is still his favorite pass time. Besides working on cars my Dad liked to swap cars. Swap cars, car parts, you name it he would swap it. The benefit of that to me was that I was exposed (read - drove) to a lot of different cars, some clunkers some not.

One of the cars he swapped for was a Chevy Vega with a 327 small block V8 in it. That little car was freaking FAST and I am surprised that he actually let me drive it at all. I recall that I broke at least three speed-odometers just from peeling out.

Now Chevy did not make a stock Vega with such a powerful motor. No, someone got the bright idea to take out the crappy four banger that was in it and replace it with a 327 small block V8 with a 3/4 inch racing cam and a Herts speed shifter. They even had to take out the cross bar member on the front end so that the motor would fit in the tiny Vega, which made the tires sit funny when it was parked.

And you know we never got any letters or phone calls from the Chevy folks telling us that our little hack was a violation of any agreement we made when we bought the car. None of their lawyers gave us a deadline to remove that 327 small block from that Little Ole' Vega because it was not designed to have it in there.

No, they were busy trying to design and build cars that people would buy. They let the hobbyist and users hack their cars however they saw fit. And if a hacked car was swapped or sold so be it, there were plenty of other people out there that wanted a brand new car. The car with the new car smell and show room shine.
So Microsoft has a cute little tool called Express and it is for the hobbyist. Doesn't Microsoft know that hobbyist like to ripe into things to see how they work? Haven't they been following the Make movement? Don't they know that the hobbyist really wants to put the big screaming fast race engine in that little car?

And isn't TestDriven.Net free to use for personal use? Like Express? So what is the harm? The harm in what Microsoft is doing is it is killing the community. If the hobbyist is afraid to use Express, or they feel that they are artificially limited in what they can do with Express then why would they want to use it?

Microsoft pays my mortgage and I really have no animosity towards them. But sometimes I just have to wonder.