Sunday, November 29, 2009

WtvWatcher Now Supports Any Conversion Tool

The latest version of WtvWatcher now supports customizing the action performed on each WTV file to be processed.

This sort of makes WtvWatcher a general WTV batch processor now, since you can specify litteraly any 3rd-party tool as the target of the action.

One user asked for Wtv2Mpeg support, and since this update was on the concept table anyway, it was pretty easy to accomodate his request.

Essentially, I run this 'action command mask' through the 'System.String.Format' method, then hand the result to the System.Diagnostic.Process.Start' method. Not rocket science.

Anywho, now I can move on to actual weekend work. Not that that's paying work either, but I like to think that I'm the type of guy who can make such subtle distinctions without getting caught up about differences between the hourly rate of $0.00 and...well...$0.00.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Initial Thoughts on Open Source Technology

My most recent open source venture has been to provide a utility that bridges the TV file format gap on Windows 7 machines. While this in and of itself isn’t all that interesting and was for my own benefit primarily, the pleasant and unintended consequence of contributing this code to the community was much larger than I expected.

After reviewing the feedback I’ve received on this project so far, I believe my initial thoughts can be characterized in three points:

  • People are more likely to provide constructive feedback in entertainment and non-commercial software when the venture is often of a personal nature, and the outcome is perceived to direct affect their enjoyment of technology.
    When people feel ownership of the problem, they are more likely to contribute to solving the problem.
  • The difficulty of extracting feedback from Line-of-Business software users stems from the reality that they’re too busy trying to get some specific task done, and don’t necessarily have time to comment on inane little details of what’s wrong with the software, simultaneous to their greater goals. The difference between software that ‘gets in the way’ vs. software that ‘provides a way’ must be interpreted within a context that includes what the person is trying to do and how much they understand about both their goals and the technology itself.
    People ignore the value of software if it is proposed in the wrong context or at the wrong time.
  • Open source software can be means of extracting the more general ‘concept’ feedback from a wide range of users, and can represent a source of valid measurement data on technology applicability and effectiveness without demanding the same initial financial or infrastructure costs that a full-on software release often can.
    While no feedback is completely ‘free’ (without some cost), open source is sometimes more affordable than traditional startup cycles.

Just thought I’d share my [currently evolving] hypotheses regarding the convergence of business and open source technology.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

First Weekend Stats for WtvWatcher

WtvWatcher (Update)

New version of WtvWatcher is out with support for 'Exit Time' and 'Processing Rules'.

Thanks to the community for all the feedback!


Friday, November 13, 2009

First Week Stats for New WtvWatcher

Looks like people are really taking to the new software. For free software that I wrote in my spare time, it's still surprising to me that sprinkling a few links here and there adds up to the following PR stats:

Hopefully I'll be able to carve out some time this upcoming weekend to integrate some of the features/feedback that I've been getting in the forums. There are smart people out there, and alot of them are also the same people that like my software!

WtvWatcher Article on

A new article on about WtvWatcher writes:

"For those looking for a simple solution to automatically convert WTV files to DVR-MS, it doesn’t get much simpler than WTVWatcher."
- and -

"...WTVWatcher performed flawlessly as expected."
- and -

"...WTVWatcher does what it was designed to do well and without any fuss or muss."

Nice to see I can write software that a) works, b) people like, and c) people share with others.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Donations for Free Software Are a Beautiful Thing

Just received my first set of donations for WtvWatcher. Goes a long way to prove that people looking for free software are absolutely worth my time.

Automatically Convert WTV to DVR-MS

I know there are already a handful of solutions to this problem out there already, but none quite as elegant as mine.

A simple .exe file to drop in your Recorded TV folder and launch on startup. Converts WTV files using the built-in 'WtvConverter.exe' utility from Microsoft, just automates the scanning of folder contents so you can sit back and enjoy.

Direct download link:

BizTalk Diagnosing: One at a Time

When diagnosing and resolving failed BizTalk messaging, sometimes I forget to play by the same rules as the originating processing model.

Namely, selecting all the suspended message in the queue and just resuming them again may cause all kinds of concurrency (SQL locking) problems on top of the original issue.

This touches on a much deeper topic of knowing what you’re getting into before messing with stuff, but that’s a conversation for another day.

Moral of the story here: when diagnosing problems, work on one thing at a time. Resume one message, wait for the results, then confirm that the 'solution' actually solved the problem.

T-SQL 'STR' Function Notes

If you recieve the SQL error message:
Error converting data type varchar to float
The above error message is basically telling you that it can't convert your varchar data to a numeric value first, before it converts it back from numeric to varchar form.

Check to make sure that you're not improperly using the STR function on data that is already in varchar form. This function is for converting numeric data to string format, and I often use it as follows:
This pattern compensates for the STR function's inane tendancy to pad its output, and is useful if you like to see your data formatted as if you called a ".ToString" method (like as in the C# world).

Sunday, November 8, 2009

WtvWatcher Review on The Digital Lifestyle

Looks like Simon May at really gets my new WtvWatcher software. Aside from an earlier praise of the first version (console app), this newest post continues the happy sound of software satisfaction.

This open software thing is proving to be just the kind of response that Line of Business software never receives without a price. Free testing and feedback is definately something I'm going to take into my consulting and FT job moving forward. It's teaching me things you just don't get from a day job.