The 18th of Diduary: Did you know you can manage multiple items in your clipboard?

Today is the eighteenth day of Diduary. You can see links to all of the published articles in the series here.

If you’re not aware of today’s tip, don’t feel bad. Natively, Windows only has the one clipboard. You copy something to it, and you erase the thing you previously copied to it. Simple as that. There are plenty of utilities that will expand that functionality for you, but if you’re running Visual Studio, you’ve already got it.

There’s not much of a screenshot I can show you here. This is probably better suited for a quick video, but I don’t have the capabilities to make that happen in short order either. So, follow my steps, and prepare to be amazed.

1. Copy a few things to your clipboard

Do it the way you normally would. I use Ctrl + C, but you can always highlight and right-click, or even go so far as to use the command from the Edit menu. Just go ahead and copy 4 or 5 things to the clipboard.

2. Cycle through those items in the “clipboard ring”

Instead of Ctrl + V to paste your text, however, you use a slightly modified version of it. The keystrokes to cycle through the clipboard ring are:

Ctrl + Shift + V

Give that a try. Hit it more than once. You’ll see that Visual Studio cycles through the items that you just copied. You can also access this from the Edit menu, of you’d prefer.

The 17th of Diduary: Did you know you can now control the behavior of the Start Page in Visual Studio?

Today is the seventeenth day of Diduary. You can see links to all of the published articles in the series here.

We’ve all come to expect that friendly-looking Start page in Visual Studio, haven’t we? Some of you probably hate it, and others of us rely on it for starting up our projects. In Visual Studio 2010, you now have the option to make it go away forever, or bring it back from the dead (once you’ve gotten rid of it.) Here’s how:

There are two new checkboxes ON the Start page itself. Look in the lower left-hard corner.

These boxes allow you to toggle making the start page disappear when you start a project, and also toggle whether the Start page shows up when you open Visual Studio at all. If you make these choices, and then regret your decision, there’s an easy way to bring it back. Just open the View menu in Visual Studio, and make it appear again, like magic.

If you’d like more helpful tips about Visual Studio 2010, check out my friend Zain Naboulsi’s blog. He’s writing a “Tip of the Day” for VS 2010 every day!

The 16th of Diduary: Did you know Intellisense has different modes?

Today is the sixteenth day of Diduary. You can see links to all of the published articles in the series here.

I only recently discovered this tip, but it has changed the way that I work in Visual Studio 2010. If you’ve ever started typing something that doesn’t exist yet, it can be quite a difficult challenge to get that text into your code. For example, if I wanted to refer to a class, Area, before I’ve created that class. (Those of you using TDD know this happens often.) Here’s what traditional Intellisense does for me:

When I press the Space key, it will automatically fill in the selected value, even if that’s not what I want. Frustrating AND annoying. In Visual Studio 2010, you can change how this works!

There’s a new mode for Intellisense, called Completion Mode. You can change it here (or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Alt + Space):

Instead of having to use the Intellisense recommendations, I also have the ability to just use the stuff that I typed. Here’s my example from earlier with Completion Mode on:

>

Hopefully this little tip will save you some time and frustration. I know it has for me.

If you’d like more helpful tips about Visual Studio 2010, check out my friend Zain Naboulsi’s blog. He’s writing a “Tip of the Day” for VS 2010 every day!

The 15th of Diduary: Did you know that you can share your desktop with others for free?

Today is the fifteenth day of Diduary. You can see links to all of the published articles in the series here.

I’m sure many of you have found numerous ways around the age-old problem of showing someone your screen from a remote location. Perhaps you want to give a Powerpoint presentation. Or just show them something you’ve created, but don’t want to package up and send. Most importantly, maybe you need their help fixing something on your computer.

In any case, I wanted to make sure you were aware of Microsoft SharedView. If you haven’t heard of it, it solves the problem listed above. You can grant access to your machine to someone remote, or just share your screen if you want them to see something.

There are some limitations, but they are minimal: you can only share your desktop with up to 15 people. No more. Second, they must each have a Windows Live ID. After that, however, you’re free to use it as you see fit.

I recently used this with my mom, to see if it would provide a reliable way for me to do tech support remotely on her machine. It worked incredibly well, allowed me to even fix a problem she was having, and seemed very secure. She had to grant me access before I could start using her machine, and she had the ability to revoke that permission at any time. She was also able to share her whole desktop, or just specific applications.

Give this one a try. I think it will make that next two hour drive for a meeting a little less necessary.

The 14th of Diduary: Did you know the keystrokes for Task Manager?

Today is the fourteenth day of Diduary. You can see links to all of the published articles in the series here.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you. Hope you’re having a fun weekend!

How many times have you pressed Ctrl + Alt + Del, only to wait a few moments before you could click the Task Manager button? If you’re me, the answer is thousands. In fact, I thought that way “the way” to get to Task Manager (before I was able to search from the Start Menu).

Starting today, you’ve got a new little shortcut to killing that process or service that’s driving you crazy.

Ctrl + Shift + Esc

Give it a try. I think it will be one of the ones you actually remember from now on.

The 13th of Diduary: Did you know that you can write apps for the Zune HD?

Today is the thirteenth day of Diduary. You can see links to all of the published articles in the series here.

And furthermore, did you know it uses many of the same tools, languages, and technologies you’re already familiar with? And that this same technology can be used to create games for the Xbox 360 too?

This technology is called XNA, and is a free add-on to Visual Studio. You can get XNA Game Studio 3.1 here.

Once you have it downloaded and installed it, you’ll have a few new templates in Visual Studio.

This isn’t a post about XNA development, however. It’s a “Did you know” article. So let me show you some of the things you’ll be able to do. I’m currently in the process of writing a game for my Zune HD, and I’ll publish it with a solid description once it’s done.

Accelerometer

A Zune HD has an accelerometer, so that means you can handle things like tilts, shakes, and orientation changes of the device. I found a great example of an application that takes advantage of this feature. In order to get this application on your device (or any other application at this point), you need to have the full development environment set up. We’ll cover that at the end of this article. For now, here’s a link to the Zune HD Level application.

Multitouch

The Zune HD is also capable of handling multi-touch input. I also found a great example of this in an existing application, and it’s the basis for the application I am building. You can download the multi-touch Zune HD app here.

In order to install these apps, you do, unfortunately, have to have a full XNA development environment set up, and have your device registered through the XNA Game Studio Device Center. Here’s a look at my device center:

And here’s a list of the things you need to have installed on your system in order to develop, install, and deploy apps to your Zune HD:

So get started building an app for this next generation device. I think you’ll be surprised how easy it really is.

The 12th of Diduary: Did you know you can drag Windows Explorer to the command line?

Today is the twelvth day of Diduary. You can see links to all of the published articles in the series here.

There are still many times that I use a command prompt to navigate my file system. As a child of DOS, commands, like “dir /w” are still very fluent for me. But as Windows has grown, so too have the length of file addresses. It used to be that I would install everything to C:, and now it’s in a file location 8 folders deep.

I’m ready to admit that perhaps typing those addresses in a command prompt just don’t make as much sense as they used to. As it turns out, there’s a much easier way to do it, too.

From any Windows Explorer window, there’s a little folder icon in the address bar.

Drag that icon to your command prompt, and it will write the fully defined file location on your command line. Like this:

I had to type the “cd” before I dragged the file location in, but you can see that it allowed me to use that path, rather than typing it. Time savings, for the win!

The 11th of Diduary: Did you know Windows 7 is network aware?

Today is the eleventh day of Diduary. You can see links to all of the published articles in the series here.

I’m sure you’ve connected to more than one network with your computer. For example, I have a home network, but I also connect to Microsoft’s network when I’m at the office, and right now, I’m connected to Panera’s wi-fi. While the Panera example doesn’t really apply to what I’m talking about today, the other two certainly do.

One of the biggest headaches I have with being on the Microsoft network is that I’m on it rarely. When I was running Vista, every time I went in an office, and needed to print, I had to find the list of printers, locate it in the office, and then print to it. Sometimes, I’d even set that printer as my default, so I could use it over and over, if necessary.

When I got home, however, I didn’t have access to that printer anymore, and so my next printing effort would result in an error. “Printer not found.”

In short, my printers are not something I want to be constantly managing. I want to print to the printer that is appropriate. When I’m at the office, I want THAT printer to automatically be my default, and when I’m home, I want that default to change. This is something you can do in Windows 7 now.

Open up your Control Panel, and go to:

Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Devices and Printers

If you click on one of your printers, you’ll see that you get a new menu option at the top of your window: Manage default printers. Here’s what it looks like (click to enlarge):

Once you open that dialog box, here’s what you will see. It’s basically two dropdown lists, one with the networks you connect to, and one with the printers you’ve used. I simply matched them up so that I defined the appropriate default printer for each network that I regularly connect to. Check it out:

One more tiny headache in my day solved! Thanks, Windows 7.

The 10th of Diduary: Did you know your application could use more than one mouse?

Today is the tenth day of Diduary. You can see links to all of the published articles in the series here.

This may seem like a silly thing to think about, but it’s most certainly possible. Multiple mice on the same computer. There’s a new SDK that makes this possible.

MultiPoint Mouse SDK

Most of the example applications on the website talk about educational applications, and I think this is a great way to create collaborative teaching tools, while restricting the amount of money schools have to invest in having an abundance of computers. (Don’t get me wrong, if our school systems could afford a laptop for every child, I’d be all for it. But “in these economic times,” it might not be feasible yet.)

I downloaded and installed the example application (Microsoft Mischief) to see how it works, and was pleasantly surprised how simple the installation was. It might have been a little messier if I didn’t already have the .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 installed, but outside of that addition, it was very straightforward.

I was surprised to find out that it’s not an application at all. Instead, it’s an add-on to Powerpoint 2007. Essentially, it lets you create multi-mouse Powerpoint presentations. Very cool.

I created a quick quiz for my daughter and I to play with, and not only was it incredibly straight-forward, but it also JUST WORKED. There wasn’t any special configuration, no mouse registration, nothing. I had two mice plugged into my machine, and there were two cursors to play with. Here’s what the PPT interface looks like:

If you’d like to just play with an existing Mischief presentation, you’ll still need to install the add-on, but you can use the sample one I created here.

Here’s what one of the quiz pages looked like (click to enlarge), and notice that there are THREE mouse pointers, each with a different icon, as well. I’ve enlarged the icons in the second image.

I think that having multiple mouse input could lead to plenty of innovative games as well. I think most of them would be geared for parents to play with their children, because I can’t imagine huddling around one machine with my friends, but in an educational environment, I think this could be an outstanding way to leverage technology and learning.

The 9th of Diduary: Did you know about the free Search Engine Optimization Toolkit?

Today is the ninth day of Diduary. You can see links to all of the published articles in the series here.

Ever wonder what you can do with your website to make it more friendly to search engines? Microsoft recently released a free tool to help you with this. It’s called the Search Engine Optimization Toolkit, and you can use it on any website, regardless of where or what it’s hosted on. Once you’ve got it installed, you’ll see this screen (click to enlarge):

Click on “Create a new analysis” under the Site Analysis section, and you’ll get a prompt to add your website. In the image below, I have also opened the “Advanced Settings,” but I didn’t change any of the default values.

Once you click OK, it will start running your site analysis. For my jeffblankenburg.info site, the analysis takes about 45 seconds. I am eventually presented with a summary of this SEO analysis (click to enlarge).

Here’s the surprising part: It found 209 SEO violations. Clearly, I’ve got some work to do. Opening the Violations tab, I can see that the bulk of my issues are based on missing ALT attributes, something I can ultimately choose to live with. It’s not accessible whatsoever, but if I just have decoration graphics, perhaps you don’t want them to have attributes. The only that really surprised me was the 4th one down. “The description is too long.” (click to enlarge)

Something I had never realized is that the <meta> description value could only have 150 characters? That’s something I’m going to have to optimize.

It also noticed that I had a broken hyperlink. I was linking to

http://friendfeed.com/jeffblankenburg

when my FriendFeed username is actually jblankenburg. Little things like this can make your site seem broken to a user, but are absolutely confusing to a search engine. Fixing these seemingly simple issues can make you rank much higher in Google, Bing, etc.

So go download the Search Engine Optimization Toolkit, and try it on your site today. I think you’ll be surprised.