January 2010 - Posts
Mario Cardinal and I have been recording the Visual Studio Talk Show podcast for more then 5 years now. Many people ask me about the recording hardware and software we use so I though I’d post the info here.
We used many devices throughout the years and the sound quality varied a lot as we experienced. Hey, we’re developers not sound engineers! One thing to keep in mind is that we decided to always record face to face, never over the phone. For the last year, we used the R16 and H2 sound recorders from Zoom, a Japanese company distributed in North America by Samson.
The R16 is a fantastic little device that is basically a small recording studio the size of a small laptop. It records uncompressed WAV to an SD card so there’s no need to connect it to a computer although it can act as a USB audio device if you want.
It has 8 XLR inputs so you can use dynamic mics. Only 2 of these inputs can provide phantom power so you’re limited to 2 condenser mics at a time. Yep, you can record 8 inputs at a time!
A few years ago, we bought 4 Shure PG58 dynamic microphones. They are portable, rugged, cheap and the sound quality is not bad at all. BTW, a foam filter will prevent audio pops and further protect the mics during transportation.
If I’d have to buy new mics today, I’d go for the Shure SM58, a slightly better model and if portability and price was not an issue, I’d go for the Rode Procaster.
Speaking of portability, this is a great issue for me since I have to carry all of this with me. What I find simply amazing is that everything fits in a backpack: the R16 and it’s tiny power supply, 3 XLR mics, 3 XLR cables, 3 lightweight tripod desk stands, one set of Skullcandy Lowrider foldable headphones and no need to pack a laptop because the R16 is standalone. Amazing!
What I like about the R16 is that it is a multi track recorder meaning that each input produce it’s own WAV file. This way, you have more control while editing. I like the fact that you can apply effects directly while recording. I use a limiter effect (a type of compressor) that limits the audio peaks. This is especially useful when Mario gets carried away! I must say that when recording simultaneous inputs, the R16 offers a limited set of effects compared to the choices you have when doing track by track recording.
The R16 can act as USB audio device meaning that you can record directly to your computer instead of the SD card. To do this, you must install audio drivers and I must say that I haven’t been able to install them on my computer. The supplied drivers won’t install on Win7 so I was happy to see that Zoom updated the drivers to support Win7 recently. Well, looks like the installer doesn’t recognize an Intel Core i7-920 as a X86 processor. Might be because the drivers are 32-bit only. Anyway, if you plan to use the R16 as a controller surface or as a USB audio device, be warned. However, without drivers, I am able to see the R16 as a drive and I am able to copy the WAV files to my computer.
We use the H2 portable recorder when recording on the road, at conferences. This device has 4 mics, 2 on each side, and records uncompressed WAV to an SD card. It can also act as a USB audio device so you can record directly to a computer instead of the SD card.
This is a great device for one on one interviews because it is small, lightweight and standalone.
The H2 has a 3.5mm (1/8”) mic input and we experienced using a few tie clip mics connected to a 3.5mm doubler/splitter but the sounds quality is a lot better using the built-in microphones.
We use Audacity as our audio editing software because it’s simple to use and it’s free. Multi track editing is easy, just import the WAV files produced by the Zoom recorders, do a little audio cleaning, edit, mix as stereo, save and convert to MP3.
If you’re podcasting, I’d love to hear about the hardware and software you use.
If your using the Silverlight version of Bing maps, additional apps are available when you click on the Map Apps button.
These two apps caught my attention:
“Today’s Front Page” is made my Newseum and it let you quickly see the front page of major newspapers around the world.
“Destination Maps” (available in Canada, Mexico and the USA) is made by Microsoft Research and it let you create maps in fun styles like these:
Treasure Map Style
David Baliles has created a short walkthrough (PDF and PPTX) describing all the steps required to create an Azure account for MSDN subscribers.
I had an Azure CTP account and I received an email from Microsoft saying that my account was about to expire on January 31, 2010 and that I’ll need to “upgrade” my account. A link in the email pointed to this pricing page:
If you just want to kick tires and don’t want to invest too much, Microsoft has an introductory special that has enough “hours” to do some basic testing for free.
Here are the details:
Included each month at no charge:
- Windows Azure
- 25 hours of a small compute instance
- 500 MB of storage
- 10,000 storage transactions
- SQL Azure
- 1 Web Edition database (available for first 3 months only) - FRAK! Only 3 months! :-(
- 100,000 Access Control transactions
- 2 Service Bus connections
- Data Transfers (per region)
Any monthly usage in excess of the above amounts will be charged at the standard rates. This introductory special will end on July 31, 2010 and all usage will then be charged at the standard rates.
Sweet but I have an MSDN Premium subscription with some Azure hours included as benefits, I should be able to link the account that I just created to my MSDN subscription, right? Well, no. I haven’t found a way to do that so far. So how do you create an Azure account using your MSDN subscription benefits? Simple, you need to log on the MSDN Website and click on the “My Account” tab. From there, you can create an Azure account that will be linked to your MSDN subscription.
Notice the account naming difference once the accounts have been created:
D’Arcy Lussier has announced that a new developers conference will take place in Regina, Saskatchewan in June 2010.
If you’re interested in speaking or sponsoring, check out the conference Web site:
And if you’re wondering where in the world Regina is:
Microsoft has released CTPs of two MySQL to SQL Server migration tools. There’s one for SQL Server 2005 and one for SQL Server 2008.
Here’s the tool overview taken from the download page:
Microsoft SQL Server Migration Assistant (SSMA) 2008 is a toolkit that dramatically cuts the effort, cost, and risk of migrating from MySQL to SQL Server 2008 and SQL Azure. SSMA 2008 for MySQL v1.0 CTP1 provides an assessment of migration efforts as well as automates schema and data migration.
Intel has announced/released a series of new processors.
I took a very quick look to see what’s new:
- Clarkdale: a new code name describing the new 32nm CPUs.
- The i3 entry level line with 2 cores and integrated graphic card in the CPU.
- New Clarkdale i5 CPUs with 4 cores and integrated graphic card.
As always, one of the best source of info is Tom’s Hardware where you’ll find great CPU related articles.
Clarkdale's Efficiency- Core i5-661 Versus Core 2, Athlon II, And Phenom II
Intel’s Mobile Core i5 And Core i3- Arrandale Is For The Rest Of Us
Intel Core i5-661- Clarkdale Rings The Death Knell Of Core 2
I never really had to manually parse IIS logs to get some stats until now and I wanted to get some numbers that the installed stats engine didn’t provide. I did a little research and found a tool call LogParser.
I know, I know. Boring. Nothing new. Old news. OK, OK, this free Microsoft tool was available for a while now but this is brand new for me ;-)
LogParser has many cool parts:
You can query various sources like IIS logs, the Event log and the Registry.
It provides a SQL like syntax.
SELECT EXTRACT_EXTENSION(cs-uri-stem) AS PageType, COUNT(*)
GROUP BY PageType
It comes as a Command line tool and a COM DLL that you can call from a .NET app.
It’s free and you can find tons of content and blog entries to help you get started.
Download it here.
Guillaume Belmas et Etienne Tremblay: Team System est mort. Vive Visual Studio 2010!
Nous discutons avec Guillaume Belmas et Etienne Tremblay de Visual Studio 2010 et de la disparition de la marque de commerce Team System. Maintenant que TFS est disponible avec toutes les versions de Visual Studio 2010, Microsoft décide de ne plus différencier entre Team System et Visual Studio. Il n'y a plus qu'une seule gamme de produit soit Visual Studio.
Guillaume Belmas est architecte logiciel au bureau parisien de Wygwam. Gagnant en 2004 de la compétion mondial Imagine Cup dans la catégorie "Software Design", sa carrière se concentre principalement sur des problématiques d'industrialisation des développements. L’ALM et les Software Factories font parties de son quotidien et il travaille sur ces sujets avec plusieurs clients. Guillaume est d’ailleurs à ce titre Leader Technique de l'offre «Architecture et Industrialisation» au sein de Wygwam et il anime de nombreux séminaires pour le compte de Microsoft France. Nommé MVP depuis 2004 sur la technologie C# puis sur Team System, il participe aussi depuis 2006 en tant que capitaine de la catégorie Software Design au concours Imagine Cup (organisé par Microsoft).
Etienne Tremblay est Directeur Associé en charge du centre de technologies Microsoft chez DMR. Il a plus de 17 ans d’expérience en technologie. Au cours des 10 dernières années il s’est spécialisé dans les technologies Microsoft, spécifiquement dans la gestion des procédés de développement, il a aussi une expertise dans les industries minières et manufacturières. Il a été conférencier pour DevTeach et il participe au conseil facultatif Visual Studio Team System en tant qu’expert et MVP Microsoft. Il est aussi juge pour la compétition Imagine Cup depuis 3 ans et cette année pour la compétition Ignite IT.
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