net, gists, build, xml comments edit

Although I wasn’t a big fan of NuGet when it started getting big, I have to admit it’s grown on me. I think part of that has to do with the large amount of improvement we’ve seen since back then. Regardless, I’m in a position with Autofac and other projects where I’m not only consuming NuGet packages, I’m also producing them.

One of the biggest pains I have when maintaining the .nuspec files for my packages is that you can update a dependency for your project (via NuGet) but the corresponding version value isn’t updated in the .nuspec. (This is, of course, assuming you’re doing manual maintenance and not re-generating everything each time. In a single-package solution, I can see regenerating would be fine, but when you’ve got multiple like in Autofac, you don’t want to regenerate.)

What I want is for the .nuspec file <dependency> entries to match the installed package versions that I’m actually building against.

So… I automated that with MSBuild. Here’s how:

First, put placeholders into your .nuspec file(s) using a special format, like this:

  <dependency id="Autofac" version="$version_Autofac$" />
  <dependency id="Castle.Core" version="$version_Castle.Core$" />

Each dependency gets a $version_NuGetPackageName$ format placeholder. The “NuGetPackageName” part matches the name of the dependency (and, coincidentally, the first part of the folder name under “packages” where the dependency gets installed in your solution).

Next, in your build script, include a custom task that looks like this. It will look in the “packages” folder and parse the various folder names into these placeholders so you can do some search-and-replace action.

<UsingTask TaskName="GetNuGetDependencyVersions" TaskFactory="CodeTaskFactory" AssemblyFile="$(MSBuildToolsPath)\Microsoft.Build.Tasks.v4.0.dll">
    <PackageInstallDirectory Required="true" />
    <Dependencies ParameterType="Microsoft.Build.Framework.ITaskItem[]" Output="true" />
    <Using Namespace="System" />
    <Using Namespace="System.Collections.Generic" />
    <Using Namespace="System.IO" />
    <Using Namespace="System.Text.RegularExpressions" />
    <Using Namespace="Microsoft.Build.Framework" />
    <Using Namespace="Microsoft.Build.Utilities" />
    <Code Type="Fragment" Language="cs">
        // Match package folders like Castle.Core.
        // Groups[1] = "Castle.Core"
        // Groups[2] = ""
        var re = new Regex(@"^(.+?)\.(([0-9]+)[A-Za-z0-9\.\-]*)$");

          // Create item metadata based on the list of packages found
          // in the PackageInstallDirectory. Item identities will be
          // the name of the package ("Castle.Core") and they'll have
          // a "Version" metadata item with the package version.
          var returnItems = new List<ITaskItem>();
          foreach(var directory in Directory.EnumerateDirectories(PackageInstallDirectory))
            var directoryName = Path.GetFileName(directory);
            var match = re.Match(directoryName);
            var name = match.Groups[1].Value;
            var version = match.Groups[2].Value;
            var metadata = new Dictionary<string, string>();
            metadata["Version"] = version;
            var item = new TaskItem(name, metadata);
          Dependencies = returnItems.ToArray();
          return true;
        catch(Exception ex)
          return false;

If you’re industrious, you could package that build task into an assembly so it’s not inline in your script, but… I didn’t. Plus this lets you see the source.

Now you can use that build task along with the MSBuild Community Tasks “FileUpdate” task to do some smart search and replace. Here are a couple of MSBuild snippets showing how:

<!-- At the top/project level... -->
<!-- You need MSBuild Community Tasks for the FileUpdate task. -->
<Import Project="tasks\MSBuild.Community.Tasks.targets" />
  <!-- This is where NuGet installed the packages for your solution. -->

<!-- Inside a build target... -->
      This should include all of the .nuspec files you want to update. These should
      probably be COPIES in a staging folder rather than the originals so you don't
      modify the actual source code.
  <NuspecFiles Include="path\to\*.nuspec" />
    Parse out the installed versions from the list of installed
    packages using the custom task.
<GetNuGetDependencyVersions PackageInstallDirectory="$(PackageInstallDirectory)">
  <Output TaskParameter="Dependencies" ItemName="LocatedDependencies" />
<!-- Use the MSBuild Community Tasks "FileUpdate" to do the search/replace. -->
  ReplacementText="%(LocatedDependencies.Version)" />

Generally what you’ll want to do from a process perspective, then, is:

  1. Build and test your project as usual.
  2. Create a temporary folder to stage your NuGet packages. Copy the .nuspec file in along with the built assemblies, etc. in the appropriate folder structure.
  3. Run the file update process outlined above to update the staged .nuspec files.
  4. Run nuget pack on the staged packages to build the final output.

This will ensure the final built NuGet packages all have dependencies set to be the same version you’re building and testing against.

media, windows comments edit

Windows Home Server v1 is end of mainstream support tomorrow and some folks have asked me what I’m going to do.

Options for switching include upgrading to WHS 2011, switching to Windows Server 2012 Essentials, or moving off the Windows platform entirely to something else.

If you’ve been following my Media Center solution, you’ll know I have both an HP MediaSmart Windows Home Server v1 and a Synology DS1010+.

I use the WHS for:

  • PC image-based backups
  • General file sharing
  • Image sharing
  • Music sharing (both via file system and via UPnP using Asset).
  • Windows 8 File History

I use the Synology DS1010+ for:

  • Storing DVD movie images
  • Serving the MySQL instance for my XBMC machines

Both machines have all drive bays full. The Synology doesn’t have enough space to hold all the stuff I have on the Home Server and the Home Server can’t hold all the stuff on the Synology. We’re talking about terabytes on both machines. Keeping that in mind, if I were to want to change the OS on the WHS it’d require me to…

  • Move everything off the WHS to… somewhere.
  • Reformat and upgrade the OS on the HP MediaSmart box, which is older and not super-powerful. It’s also headless (no video card and no DVD drive) so… that’s pretty limiting. If there’s any troubleshooting to do during the installation, that’s going to be painful.
  • Hope against hope that the new OS won’t tank the HP box into non-performance and that all the drivers are properly found.
  • If I go with Windows Server 2012 Essentials, I get to set up a domain for my home computers and go around joining everything so they can be backed up. If I go with WHS 2011, I will get the same backup functionality I’m used to. If I go with something else… I get to figure out my backup solution.
  • Move everything back to the WHS that was previously there and set all that junk up again.

If, instead, I moved everything to the Synology I’d need to upgrade all the drives in the RAID array. It’s RAID 5 so I can’t do one at a time. And I can’t switch to a different RAID strategy (like the Hybrid RAID they provide) without moving everything off the NAS and back on.

UGH. There was a time in my life where I had a bunch of time at home and loved to tinker with things. Now… it takes me two nights to watch a two-hour movie. I just want things to work.

So what am I going to do?

Not a damn thing.

I don’t expose my WHS to the outside world so I’m not worried much about the security aspect of things. I will probably run it until it dies. In the meantime I’ll slowly be moving things over to the Synology. I will probably end up investing in the five-drive expansion bay for it so I can add more drives in a new array. Then I can stock those drives up and slowly but surely both expand storage and switch to the Hybrid RAID approach. I’ll also have to figure out my UPnP answer (I’ve admittedly not tried the Music Station that Synology offers, but I hope it does transcoding of, like, Apple Lossless and whatnot). And I’ll have to figure out the backup strategy; probably something like Acronis TrueImage.

In the meantime… the plan is “no action.”

comments edit

I’ve been wanting Windows Live Writer for Surface RT for a while but I noticed Hanselman mentioned you could blog from Word (which I never knew) so I thought I’d try it out.

If you’re reading this… I was successful. Yay!

personal comments edit

2012 has come and gone, and it’s time to look back at what happened. Because if I don’t, well… my memory isn’t quite what it used to be, you know?

It was a good year both personally and professionally, though I noticed I blogged a lot less. That happens, I guess. I find I post more of my little personal updates on Twitter or Facebook, which reduces the noise here but definitely splits up the content. Maybe that’s a good thing. You can subscribe to the stuff you like, ignore the stuff you don’t. (I use Twitter for more professional stuff whereas Facebook will show you more pictures of my kid and my cats.)

Professionally, I got promoted to be a Tech Lead at work, which is sort of like a team leader but without the “people management” part of things and more focus on product architecture and technology solutions. That’s totally my wheelhouse, so good things there.

I also became a co-owner of the Autofac project, which has been a lot of fun to work on. I started out over there as a contributor for the multitenant support and started playing a larger role with the restructuring for the upcoming 3.0 release. It’s great to work with smart folks like those on that project and it’s nice to be learning so much while (hopefully) providing some value to the masses.

Blog-wise, other than the usual “hey, I found this interesting” sorts of tips and articles…

So there’s all that. Maybe not high in quantity, but I’d like to think the quality is there.

Personally, my year (and most of my free time) has revolved around my daughter, Phoenix, who is now two years old. This year she went from walking and a small amount of vocabulary to running around rampantly and being a total chatterbox. She loves Batman, with the “Little People” playset as well as a Batman raincoat. (She’s on the ThinkGeek customer action shot page for that raincoat, too.) We took her to Disneyland and had a great time, though she didn’t take well to the costumed characters. I look forward to taking her again when she’s older and can understand a little more about what’s going on.

Every day she surprises me by saying or doing something new and I have to wonder where she gets all her material. Her latest thing is to “sneeze” (“ah… ah… AH-CHOO” like in cartoons) and then ask for a tissue (“Daddy, tissue me? I tissue. Please?”). I have no idea where she got that. This morning I yawned so she pointed to the kitchen and said, “Daddy, coffee?” Yes, baby, Daddy does need some coffee. You are the smartest toddler alive.

In going through some of our stuff, weeding out things we don’t use, I came across these baby sign language videos. We tried that since we’d heard a lot of success with it and wanted Phoenix to be able to communicate and not have those “I can’t speak so I’ll throw a tantrum” issues. We never could get Phoenix into it, though. She lost interest in the videos (we tried several kinds from different places) and just didn’t pick up on the signs. Instead, she pretty much skipped all that and just spoke or used less formal gestures to indicate what she wanted. We haven’t ever really had any issues figuring out what she’s saying and she’s never thrown any communication-related tantrums, so I suppose it all worked out in the end.

One thing I’ve sort of surprised myself with is the amount of television we let her watch. It’s not a lot, not like she’s just “glued to the tube,” but I thought I’d be one of those parents who would be, like, “NO TV EVER!” What I find, though, is that she really learns a lot from the stuff she watches. She knows a ton of animals from Go, Diego, Go. She is starting to get good problem solving skills from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (“Which tool will solve this problem?”). She’s learned a lot about music and such from Little Einsteins. We don’t really watch anything with “no value” - arbitrary cartoons or whatever - but the educational stuff you see on PBS and Disney Junior has been really pretty good. She pretends a lot, she likes building with blocks and playing with those wooden Brio trains… and she knows how to navigate Netflix and the Disney Junior apps on the iPad to find the different shows she likes, so that’s pretty crazy to watch.

Toward the end of the year I’ve started getting into tea. I’ve never really been much of a tea-drinker in the past, but something clicked with me and I’m enjoying tea a lot. (Honestly,

In the upcoming year, I am thinking I’d like to move off the Subtext blog platform. I am a contributor over there, but the momentum behind the project has been lost and I don’t think it’s going to come back. I thought I’d be more into contributing and building on the blog engine than I ended up being. I met some great folks there and I’m glad I got involved, but I realize that, as far as a blog platform is concerned… honestly, at this point I just want it to work and have the software maintained by someone else. I want to own my content and I want to be able to tweak things if needed, but for the most part I don’t want a super-young platform and I don’t want to worry about whether there’s going to be an update coming. I honestly thought I’d want to tweak a bunch of stuff on my blog, write plugins, and do a bunch of things, but… well, not so much. As such, I will probably see what it will take to move to WordPress. It’s been around a long time, it’s a sort of de-facto standard, and it has an actual plugin model (something I’d wanted from Subtext for years). It also has no shortage of themes to choose from (something else I’d wanted from Subtext). It won’t be a simple process - I’ll need to figure out how to export all the Subtext content in WordPress Extended RSS format, redirect permalinks, etc. - but I think it’ll be worth it.

Beyond that, much as I would like to blog more and better things… I will have to see. I anticipate I’ll still use a lot of social media for the tiny updates, but hopefully I’ll have more interesting problems (and solutions!) to share with you all as the year progresses.

media comments edit

I’ve seen a ton of forum posts and blog posts trying to explain how to use mencoder or FFmpeg to rotate video that you took on your phone.

Thing is… they didn’t work for me.

No matter what I tried, something went awry.

  • The video rotated but no sound came through.
  • The video rotated and sound came through but the quality was horrible.
  • The audio came through but the video wasn’t visible.

…and so on. Ugh.

I’m a technical guy. Trying to figure this thing out I learned far more about audio and video codecs and container types than I really ever cared to know. It really shouldn’t be this hard.

The answer, for me, came with WinFF, a GUI wrapper on FFmpeg. There are some “presets” that come with it that set up the high quality video command line part of things so I only had to add the “rotate” bit.

For reference, the command line that worked for me was:

ffmpeg.exe -y -i input.mp4 -crf 15.0 -vcodec libxvid -acodec libfaac -ar 48000 -b:a 192k -coder 1 -flags +loop -cmp +chroma -partitions +parti4x4+partp8x8+partb8x8 -me_method hex -subq 6 -me_range 16 -g 250 -keyint_min 25 -sc_threshold 40 -i_qfactor 0.71 -b_strategy 1 -qcomp 0.6 -qmin 0 -qmax 69 -qdiff 4 -bf 8 -refs 16 -direct-pred 3 -trellis 2 -wpredp 2 -rc_lookahead 60 -threads 0 -b 12000k -vf transpose=1 output.mp4


The “transpose” option at the end is the bit that rotates.

  • 0 = 90 degrees counterclockwise and vertical flip
  • 1 = 90 degrees clockwise
  • 2 = 90 degrees counterclockwise
  • 3 = 90 degrees clockwise and vertical flip

And I know someone is going to want to comment something about blah blah orientation flag blah blah file metadata blah blah some players don’t support it. I know. I really just want the stupid thing rotated so I don’t have to figure out which players work and which ones don’t. Ubiquitous play, minimal loss of quality, video rotated. Done.

I may tinker with the audio to see if I can just get it to pass through without re-encoding, but since I finally got it to work after this much research, I figured I’d post it.

Note that command line works great with the build of FFmpeg that comes with WinFF, but they’ve updated some of the options in later builds so it needs to be adjusted.