2012 Scripting Games Post-Game

So I finished up my participation in the 2012 Scripting Games Advanced category a few days ago. They haven't finished all the grading yet, but all the events have been completed. (10 total scripts in 10 business days.) Here are few of my takeaways:

  • It was 100% Powershell, so it really should have been called the Powershell Games, but I realize Ed's blog used to have a lot of VB Script on it too before PS really came into the spotlight, so I guess the name is sort of legacy. His blog is not known as "Hey, Powershell Guy!" after all. Besides, I don't know of anyone else holding a similar event, so I guess he gets to use whatever name he wants.
  • I don't think there's any chance of me winning first place in the Advanced category, but I should (hopefully) finish in the top 10. Which, I guess isn't all that bad considering how many participants there were from all over the world. Leaderboards should be viewable here, but like I said the grading is not finished yet and so the leaderboards are still going to be changing.
  • The Games were reasonably challenging, and I did learn a few new tricks and best practices along the way. For instance, creating my own custom objects, and adding those to a collection of objects, has become much more natural for me. I will probably post all of the scripts I wrote and some commentary about them in a later post - I want to make sure the deadlines for the Games are completely passed before I do that.
  • Even though several days were given to complete each event, I turned in my submission for each event on the same day it was released. I have a pretty single-track mind when it comes to things like finishing code. It's often all I can think about or concentrate on until I finish, especially if there's any sort of deadline involved. Not only that, but I have other things like a job which also demand my time and energy -- unlike those damn Germans with their 6 days off for Easter holiday and 2 months a year of vacation. (Just teasing, Germany.)
  • I felt like a couple of the scenarios were not very well-defined. One could start scripting for the scenario given, but then several hours later go back and see several confused reader's posts, asking for Ed to clarify a certain piece of the scenario, and then after reading Ed's responses, do something differently in your own script. Even worse, I saw some inconsistency in the way different judges judged people's scripts. For instance, Ed posted the official rules and grading criteria before the games began. One of those grading criteria was "avoid using aliases." I think that's perfectly reasonable, as aliases are good for quick, interactive commands, but when writing a long, complex script, aliases often make it even harder for someone else to follow. (Aliases are things like "?" instead of "Where-Object" or "gci" instead of "Get-ChildItem.") But, browsing the judge's comments of other people's scripts, I would see a judge commenting on the participant's "excellent use of aliases!" So in that regard I don't feel like all the judges were on the same page, which is unfortunate, because it seems like only 1, and maybe sometimes 2, of the ~35 total judges ever grade any one script, so depending on exactly which judge you get will significantly impact your score.
  • I don't like a judge giving me a score on my script, but not leaving any comments at all. (Especially if it's a crappy score like 3/5.) That said, I understand that the judges are all just volunteers that have their own lives, and there are hundreds of participants, so the judges are overworked and probably in a hurry.

So all in all, even if my comments above sound negative, I'm really meaning them to be constructive. I did enjoy the 2012 Scripting Games and I'm really happy that Ed put forth the time and effort (which I know must have been substantial) to organize them!

ORS - Office Rageface Sender

freddie

If you work in an office in a corporate environment like I do, you're probably familiar with Microsoft Office Communicator, often referred to as OCS. These days they call it Lync -- but it's still most widely known as OCS. Anyway, it's an IM client that you can use to communicate with your bosses... and for them to see when you're taking a bit too long of a lunch break. The one thing it doesn't do, however, is quickly paste pictures for others to see. A picture is worth a thousand words, right? So I set out this last weekend to remedy this situation.

What I ended up with a couple days later is what I'm calling ORS - or Office Rageface Sender. A coworker of mine is very fond of those ragefaces that seem to be all the... rage... lately, but it's difficult to make those jokes without actually being able to show the relevant picture to go with it. 

Currently, ORS is a network application, but only works within your current subnet, because it uses UDP broadcasts as a "discovery" mechanism to discover peers on the network (i.e. other people also running ORS) to populate your contact list. In addition, TCP port 9068 is used for direct communication. 

Upon launching ORS for the first time, you will be asked for your nickname. You can change it at any time by clicking the status bar at the bottom of the main window. Your nickname will be saved in the registry so it won’t ask you every time you launch the app. The effects of duplicate nicknames on the network hasn’t been thoroughly explored, (hey I’m only one guy) but they should be minimal as communications are typically IP-based. 

Also when you launch ORS for the first time, it will create an Images folder at the same location where the executable is running. Dump all your favorite images here. Optimally, they should be as close to 512x512 as possible, as they will be displayed in a 512x512 window. However, images larger than that will be automatically scaled down to fit. Images smaller than that will be centered (not stretched.) 

When you right-click on a person’s name in the main window, a context menu will pop up which contains a list of all the images currently in your Images directory. This list and context menu is dynamic, so you don’t need to relaunch the app every time you modify the contents of your images directory. By clicking an image name over a contact, that image will be displayed on their screen in real-time. 

If the recipient does not currently have the image that you are trying to send them, you will automatically send it to them over TCP, it will be saved to their own Images directory, and then displayed normally. If they already have the same image (as determined by name,) that local image will be displayed. If two users have the same filename in their images directory but are actually different pictures, then the recipient will see a different image than the one you intended. 

The application minimizes to the system tray. You can right-click the icon to exit the app, or just close the form. 

If you’d like to give this a try when you’re in the same broadcast domain with one or two other people, you can download the program at the very end of this post. I very much welcome bug reports, feature requests, etc. You probably don't want to run this with a bunch of people you don't trust, as it would be possible for them to flash pictures of boobs on your screen if they wanted to.

ors

Finally, here are some stats on how much broadcast traffic each client sends, just to prove how nominal it is. About 1 packet every 10 seconds. 

Avg packets/sec 0.128
Avg packet size 75 bytes
Avg bytes/sec   9.587

ORS.exe (93.00 kb)