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Dell’s Plan for the Consumerization of IT

2.1.tabletsmeanbusinessThanks to trends like Bring Your Own Device, previously closed business computing environment are being broken wide open with multiple forms of devices running very different operating systems, all bringing new challenges for IT. As part of our series, in conjunction with IDG, Dell and Intel®, I took a look at what Dell is offering as it’s analysis of these trends, and plans for helping businesses deal with and thrive under the new environment.

In a 15 page paper on the subject, Dell outlines what it sees as “Five Trends Shaping the
Future of Enterprise Mobility”. The look towards social networks, already a dominant force in employees’ personal lives, as changing behaviors in the office, forcing a part of this consumerization. On Facebook, people expect to know what everyone is up to at any time, and easily keep track of several hundred relationships with minimal effort. There’s every reason to believe that as people get used to this behavior with their friends, they will expect to be able to maintain intercompany communications with the same ease, speed and flexibility, something traditional computing just hasn’t been good for.

Another trend influencing the bigger picture is the rise of flexible working arrangements and environments. Companies are getting smarter and realizing that an employee that can work anywhere and anytime is an employee that can work better. Employees need to be able to get things done every hour of the day and in every corner of the earth, meaning they don’t want to be tethered to their desktop PCs, and their managers shouldn’t want that either. If your workers are willing to take a tablet to lunch and get work done while eating a sandwich or during a vacation or medical leave or while watching the kids, there’s no smart reason to stand in their way, and in fact companies need to do more to make it easier for employees to do so.

The rise in powerful mobile devices is changing how we handle everything and is certainly changing our working habits. In a perfect example, one of my fellow managers gave birth this past week, having a wonderful baby boy at 2 AM. Five hours later, she was emailing her team instructions on how to handle some minor tasks from her hospital bed, before the team was even in the office! Hopefully, she eventually had some rest.

The point is that employees are already tethered to their mobile devices and enjoy using them for everything. The more they can work on them, the better for them, the company, and the people who rely on them. Mobile device growth continues unabated both in terms of the number of smart devices and their capabilities. On my latest phone, the Samsung Galaxy Note II, even if I’m just watching a movie on it, I can also answer my email at the same time in a split-screen mode, bringing a very obvious form of work-play balance in a neat 5.5 inch package.

Employees who can and want to take advantage of these options are often your hardest and most capable workers, and the most important goal of IT should always be to enable the company’s stars to be exactly that. Evolving business models require companies to be able work innovatively, so a company that doesn’t embrace these trends may very likely fall behind one that does. And lastly, employees expect their company to give them the options they need to succeed. Every time I interview a prospective hire, and hear about the frustration they had trying to work in their company’s antiquated IT environment, I know that’s a company failing on all of these counts.

So, what recommendations does Dell offer to companies that agree that they need to move forward and embrace the consumerization of IT? There are nine, which I’ll summarize here:

  1. Articulate a clear technology philosophy and set a consumerization strategy that follows that philosophy.
  2. Tight-fisted security and anti-social media policies often have the opposite effect, driving employees to circumvent security controls and socialize unprofessionally. Better to work with them than against them.
  3. Stop preventing employees from using their own devices, starting by encouraging them to use their smartphones for work. Smartphones are the fastest growing category, and the first place you should direct your efforts.
  4. Supply employees with tools and apps designed to make it easier to get work done on their devices.
  5. Try out giving field workers and executives tablets and seeing if it works well and replaces existing devices. Encourage other employees to bring their personal tablets.
  6. Develop clear philosophies on cost sharing of such device initiatives with employees, and pay close attention to when the business case can and cannot be met for paying for such devices.
  7. Invest in desktop virtualization where appropriate, since it allows all those disparate devices to conform when needed, and provides many advantages.
  8. Don’t lose sight of software licensing restrictions. If your employees use software with harsh restrictions, each additional device could require you to re-purchase software, adding significant costs.
  9. Don’t use end user stipends.

I found this last point to be of particular interest. The paper points out that end users aren’t particularly good at picking devices, especially since they value mobility over business capabilities. Stipends also allow for an infinite number of user-chosen configurations and support headaches.

I agree, and propose an alternative: More limited stipends. Rather than not implementing such a program, IT needs to come up with a device category right for the company, or for different types of employees. I see in our firm the proliferation of iPads, which have proven generally worthless for our particular business needs. In a company like ours, where powerful software and complex productivity are key, it would make sense to offer stipends on Windows tablets only. As a manager, I’d want my people on something like Dell’s Latitude 10 Tablet, featuring the Intel® Atom™ Z2760 processor, which does all of the fun things an entertainment or media tablet like the iPad can do, but also does the job when real work needs to get done. In another company, where simpler needs make more sense for consumer IT devices, I might encourage an iPad-only stipend, thus cutting down on IT support costs. Every company needs the right strategy here.

I encourage you to read the paper, and share your own conclusions. I think Dell has made some excellent ones and provides any IT and corporate decision makers with a great starting point towards making these important decisions.

This is a paid post in conjunction with IDG, Dell and Intel®.

April 29th, 2013 Posted by | General | no comments

A Look at Dell Wyse’ Cloud Computing Solutions Featuring Intel® Technology

I’ve long used Wyse PocketCloud, a great (free) app for remote access to your Windows or Mac PC from Android and iOS devices, to get work done with nothing but my tablet. It’s the best designed app I’ve seen for tablet remote access, with a downright innovative control scheme and better performance than other solutions I’ve tried. It’s my go-to solution for simple remote access, and when setting up employees in our organization, I always encourage them to use it.

What I didn’t know until being asked to learn more about it for our ongoing series (in conjunction with IDG, Dell and Intel®), is that Wyse produces a lot more than PocketCloud. Wyse has all of these more advance cloud client computing solutions featuring Intel® technology that go beyond the simple get-to-your-remote-PC app that I knew about.

Wyse makes hardware, in fact, the kind of thin clients that can in many cases replace the kind of standard PCs companies like mine usually stock. Many are small boxes, the size of (and looking a lot like) your router, except that it provides access to a fully featured and powerful PC environment via the cloud without the power and hardware challenges of actual PC hardware. That tiny box has connections for four USB ports, two monitors, audio, and other peripherals, while drawing 7 watts of power and using practically no space at all, changing how you look at the desktop PC.

In the IT environment I deal with every day, I can see the very real advantage devices like this can bring. With thin client access to desktops, besides saving space and energy, you wind up with systems that can be more easily administered and managed in one place, while being accessed from any place. An employee can utilize the same environment from any desk in the office, as well as the desk at home, on the road or other means creating opportunities through flexibility. Also, for some employees doing more complex tasks, where you can never have enough computing power, the cloud servers deliver a lot more capabilities, and simpler means to increasing those capabilities than trying to add power to individual desktop PCs.

Wyse also offers thin client laptops, and even a netbook that can get up to 8 hours of battery life while accessing the same full-power system environment. This gives you the same portability and battery life of much maligned and underpowered netbooks without the drawbacks of their slow processors and limited ability to do pretty much anything. Also interesting, from a security perspective, is that since the system is all in the cloud, corporate data is extremely safe since none of it is on the machine.

With so many end users switching from laptops and desktops to tablets at home, it makes sense to offer more flexible cloud client options as an alternative to the desktop PC. Dell has only owned Wyse since last year, but I can imagine it would be a good idea for them to offer these same corporate solutions as a means for families and students to get full-powered PCs as needed, pulling their power from the cloud. Given time, Dell can apply what they know about designing good hardware and mobile PCs to Wyse’s already well-working designs, and put together a solution good not just for the office but the post-PC world at home.

Right now though, the focus is on businesses. Businesses that invest in such cloud client solutions can find it makes managing and securing those systems easier for IT, more reliable and simpler for employees, and downright cheaper when implemented in a way that’s right for every business.

This is a paid post in conjunction with IDG, Dell and Intel®.

April 29th, 2013 Posted by | General | no comments

Hosting sponsored by GoDaddy

How Modern Software Improves Modern Hardware

Since dual core and 64-bit processors started going mainstream, computer users have had more power than they know what to do with. In fact, they’ve had more power than their software knows what to do with. To truly take advantage of major advances in modern processors, modern software is required, all of which makes the upgrade cycle much more interesting.

Previously, software and hardware advances were less interrelated, and an advance in one did not advance or require as much the other. Sure, you might need a faster processor to run a faster version of Windows, or a new game to push that new graphics card to the limit, but these were questions of pure speed, not capabilities. It’s analogous to the difference between a faster car and a self-driving car. A faster car runs faster everywhere, but a self driving car is just a regular car until you have roads that allow and support the use of cars that can drive themselves.

The speed race in processors and other pieces of hardware ended years ago. If it hadn’t, Intel® would be releasing a 15 gigahertz Pentium 4 by now. Instead, you can buy an off-the-shelf PC today that runs at the same basic speed a PC released in 2002 could have. The newer PC smokes the old one because while both processors might be running at 2.2 GHz, the modern one isn’t one processor, it’s many. A 64-bit processor can run instructions 4 billion times as large as a 32-bit one. A dual core processor is almost like having 2 processors, and a quad core is twice that. Add in multi-threading, and you have a maching that for all practical purposes might as well have 4 or 8 2.2 GHz processors.

None of this means anything without the right software. Install an old version of Windows on the newest, fastest Dell with a 64-bit quad- or six-core chip, and you might get nothing more than the power of a single logical processor, not the 8-12 logical processors you paid for and would have gotten with a more up-to-date release. As a result, upgrading your software will often upgrade the hardware because the powerful hardware you bought years ago pre-dated the advancements in software required to take advantage of it.

Since we are in the midst of a series examining different modern IT issues, it’s useful to point out that it used to be that aging software in a corporate environment was the norm, but that trend has strong reasons to change. Older hardware is better capable of running modern software than at any time in the past. Windows 8′s system requirements are “If you could run Windows 7, you can run Windows 8 faster”. “If you could run Windows Vista, you can run Windows 7 faster”. Efficient operating system design by Microsoft means that a PC from 2006 could run Windows 8 in 2013, some without any upgrades. Business computers are in fact the most likely to have been more powerful than average when purchased seven years ago, and more likely to have survived until now, to be able to make the move to the new OS.

The fact is that while everyone knows that newer hardware is faster than older hardware, many software developers have been doing such a great job writing apps that, with each upgrade, run faster than the previous version. Sometimes it’s a new feature that makes use of the software more productive, but more often these days it’s better written code and better use of modern hardware and software capabilities that makes that newer software so much more awesome.

We’ve had amazingly fast computer hardware for a decade at this point. 2013 hardware is faster than 2003 hardware, but 2013 software can run faster on 2003 hardware than 2003 software ever could and draw less electricity while doing it. We’ve had dual core processors for years, but modern software knows what to do with it. We’ve had 64-bit processors since the 90s on desktop PCs (and the 70s in other cases), but if you aren’t running a very up-to-date version of your favorite software, it isn’t taking advantage of it. In fact, until a couple of years ago, it was common for systems with 64-bit processors to ship with the 32-bit version of the OS installed for compatibility reasons. Thankfully, that trend is almost dead.

Businesses have more reasons to perform upgrades, since they can then do more with the hardware they already have. Windows 8, or the latest Office or Photoshop can put both cores on your CPU to work (or all four cores or more, as it were). They can serve up 64-bit instructions to that CPU many times faster than a 32-bit one would have been. A new OS, in turn, adds APIs and features to your computer, while new software takes advantage of those additions so that they, too, can run faster. All of which is why it once you put a price on productivity, it can often be more expensive to keep the older, slower version of critical business software than absorbing the cost of the next version.

It’s extremely likely that whatever machine you are using right now, the software you are running isn’t taking full advantage of its capabilities, and in some instances, the software needed to take advantage does exist yet. For this reason, it’s important to look at PC hardware as an investment that can grow over time. By picking a processor with features that haven’t been fully utilized yet, you are picking a computer that will only get better with age, like a fine wine.

This is a paid post in conjunction with IDG, Dell and Intel®.

April 29th, 2013 Posted by | Adobe, Applications, Corporate, General, IT Series, Mobile, Office, Sponsored, Tablets, Vista, Windows, Windows 7, Windows 8, XP | no comments

IT’s Challenges in An Evolving Mobile Device Landscape

Ten years ago, managing IT in a company was simple. Okay, to be fair, it was incredibly complex, with enormous tasks facing system administrators, who had to configure complex computer systems, often with out of date hardware, major security concerns, and inadequate tools. IT has never had it easy, but there are very different challenges today, and one of the biggest questions modern IT departments now face is how to manage the myriad devices users bring into the corporate environment.

A lot of the more complex traditional challenges of IT, including corporate servers and security, have been greatly simplified by evolving and more powerful tools and cloud solutions, and that outdated hardware we all knew and loved has mostly been replaced by cheaper and more than adequate PCs. Since nature abhors letting anything become too easy, the void left by those challenges has been filled by smartphones, tablets, and whatever other strange devices users decide to plug into the company network.

It used to be that IT could declare mastery of at least the hardware on every desk. Every PC could be similar, every access point could be locked down, and if you wanted email, you might be lucky enough to get a Blackberry. The huge evolutionary leap forward taken by smartphones (and the lack of participation by the old standard Blackberry in those innovations) meant that a huge percentage of users now have devices in their pockets that rival those on their desks, and are upgraded every 18 months. While certainly some organizations are still fighting that development, forward thinking ones know they can take advantage of all that power, if they can meet those challenges head on. Plus, who wants to tell the CEO he can’t use his shiny new iPhone?

With smartphones breaking down the device firewall, other dominoes have fallen. Laptops outsell desktops now, with tablets pacing to outsell laptops in the near future. Wifi networks are ubiquitous at modern offices, making it easier to bring those home devices to work and get some more productive use out of them (or play Angry Birds during lunch). This means employees can be more efficient, taking their entire corporate server to meetings, to lunch, to offsite events, and not be tethered to a desk, leading to more productive meetings, more active and mobile workforces, and more possibilities for where and how work gets done.

While all of this may sound like a bright future, and for the average employee, it is. The average IT department, however, faces new questions every day on how to support the transition from a secure device monoculture to an omni-diverse free-for-all, where not only can employees have many different devices, but any employee can walk in with some new and odd device and demand it work with their usual workflow. In this four part series, we will examine some of these challenges, and with the help of some suggested solutions from our sponsors, IDG, Dell and Intel®, show how modern IT departments are and will continue to handle these challenges and allow users to take advantage of this new world.

April 8th, 2013 Posted by | Corporate, General, IT Series, Mobile, Sponsored, Tablets, Windows, Windows 8 | no comments

Software Piracy Meets “Dateline”

Dan sent me this video that parodies Dateline NBC’s “To Catch a Predator” to deliver a message about software piracy. Take a look:

The link at the end goes to, which is just a redirect to the Business Software Alliance’s page for reporting software piracy.

August 6th, 2009 Posted by | General, Humor, Law | one comment

$10 To Answer This Question

I’m completely unable to find an answer (though this Russian forum might have something), so I’ll give ten bucks via PayPal (or whatever) to the first person to give me a working answer to this question:

How do I force an ATI X1550 card to output YPrPb signals on VGA under Windows Vista?

Even if it’s a stupid answer, if it works, I’ll pay you. It’s probably a registry key, or maybe there’s software, or maybe the Russians know something. If I have to buy the ATI HDTV dongle, and you can confirm that for me, I’ll give you five bucks.

Thanks for the assistance.

November 30th, 2007 Posted by | General | one comment

Is Windows XP SP3 A Huge Mistake?

Microsoft is in the process of testing Service Pack 3 for Windows XP, in preparation for a wide release, and all indications are that it is a significant performance improvement for XP. In fact, the performance of XP under SP3 is so good, that some are saying it makes Windows Vista look like a chump.

It’s already a fact that Windows XP, with a six-year old architecture and tons of patches to stabilize and protect it, is Windows Vista’s number one competitor. XP is relatively stable, carries lower requirements, is compatible with almost everything and is usually already installed on most computers (except brand new ones). The challenge for Microsoft isn’t so much to prove Vista is better than Apple’s Mac OS, but that it is better than XP.

Microsoft until now has been challenging the image of XP in the marketplace, but when SP3 releases, it’ll actually be competing with itself. XP SP3 is an improvement to an already popular operating system, one that puts a direct shot across Vista’s bow, and actually sets up the team that developed SP3 as competition for Windows Vista.

Microsoft’s not stupid. It knows that it is in some ways shooting its own Vista in the foot with SP3, making Vista’s adoption harder against an improved XP point release. It would have been dishonest to its customers to cripple XP SP3 just to help Vista, and you can see how much Microsoft has improved in that it isn’t doing so. An “evil” company certainly would have.

Microsoft is likely counting on two things. Most probably, it will not significantly market SP3 like it did for Service Pack 2 three years ago. Current users will get the improvement, but Microsoft won’t encourage people to buy XP now that it has been improved. Microsoft wants you to get a better XP, but if you don’t have it, they still want you picking up Vista, which is also getting an improved Service Pack 1 release.

Besides that, Microsoft is probably hoping the good will from SP3 will encourage you to keep using Windows. Microsoft is seriously improving an older product at a significant cost to itself, showing commitment to improving its users experience at any cost. Microsoft will remind you that Vista will receive the same commitment, and that Apple charges money for point releases every two years.

Will it work? SP3 is going to cost Microsoft and Vista in the short run, but in the long run it could be a huge help for the company. At the least, if you’re buying XP, you’re still not buying Apple, right?

Photo by doobybrain under CC license

November 30th, 2007 Posted by | Apple, General, Vista, Windows, XP | 5 comments

Wait, So I’m Not A Trained Server Technician?

This site has been down for two days, which, you know, is always fun and profitable. The reason? Me and GoDaddy came up with this wonderful sponsorship agreement, which would allow this site to move to a dedicated server and thusly be more stable and not ever go down for two days, as well as allowing me the flexibility to install lots of useful plugins I couldn’t otherwise on a shared host.

Problem is, that didn’t work out so well. Turns out running a server is hard :-)

In the end, I’m glad to say the problem was not my fault, I’m just the one suffering for it. Turns out that GoDaddy’s default server provisioning enables a service called iptables, which manages a lot of NAT and firewall stuff on Linux, but installed it without enabling the ports for HTTP and FTP access (which are kind of important). Also, I have to change a setting in an “A-Record”, whatever the hell that is.

Anyway, I’m going to re-attempts the server move this weekend. Until then, enjoy some speedblogging.

Also, I’m still looking for someone interested in helping me sell some ads for this site. Traffic has been spiking like crazy, and on a 30% commission, it’s a nice way to make some side money. If you’re interested, just hit the contact form or comment on this post.

November 28th, 2007 Posted by | General | no comments

Someone Want To Figure This Out?

Over the last six months, I’ve been slowly building my wife a computer on the cheap. In total, I’ve spent maybe $100, plus various collected junk parts, and built a very nice Media Center PC without hurting the old bank account. Problem is, the goal is to connect the PC to the HDTV, and the video card outputs VGA and S-Video, neither of which I can connect to the TV for an HD signal.

I picked up a VGA to component video cable, and summarilly discovered I know nothing about video equipment. As I understand, and please correct me if I’m still wrong, the VGA outputs RGB signals and my TV only accepts over component YPbPr signals, so a cable isn’t enough. I either need an RGA to component converter (not cheap) or a video card that can output a compatible signal.

Now, here’s what I think I’ve gathered: Some video cards can be set to output YPbPr component over VGA, and then my VGA-to-component cable will work. Others output DVI and I can get a converter to plug it into my TV’s single HDMI slot (which I’d rather not do, I’m saving that for the Xbox 360). Also, there are other ways to get component out of my computer, including video cards that take component cables.

I’d prefer to be able to use my VGA-to-component cable. HDMI (or rather, DVI to HDMI) is a last resort. If you understand this better than I do, please explain what I’m wrong about. I have some Amazon referral money I can use to pay for it, but I’d like to spend under $100 for the card and accessories (like cables), and hopefully I can sell the current (unused) video card to make some of that back.

Besides some advice, I’d like to give something back, so if you recommend a video card (AGP, or worst case regular PCI), list it below in the comments with an Amazon referral code, so when I buy it you can get some money back. Consider that the PC has a weak power supply, so if the card requires me to buy a new power supply, it better be cheap enough that both the card and the power supply are under $100.

So, if you know a little about video cards and formats, help me out (earn a little referral cash) so I can finish this thing and my wife can stop borrowing my laptop. I’d really appreciate the advice.

November 19th, 2007 Posted by | General | 10 comments

MSN/Windows Live Messenger For The Mac 6 & 7 On The Way

Microsoft has confirmed that a new version of its Messenger instant messaging software will ship with and when Mac Office 2008 hits stores. While we don’t know anything about features, or even if it’ll be named Windows Live Messenger or MSN Messenger (presumably the new name, though), at least Mac fans are getting a new version. Not only that, but work is already going on for Messenger 7, which will be the first Mac version with audio/video capabilities.
(via Digg)

November 14th, 2007 Posted by | Apple, General, Live, Messenger, Windows | no comments

New Zune Software Unleashed

Microsoft updated the Zune software today to the new version 2.0, so users of first-gen Zune devices can go get their new firmware and features. The update brings a much-improved version of the software, better than the Windows Media Player clone first version, with wireless sync, a new Zune Marketplace with over a million DRM-free tracks, cool new album art visualizations, and the new Zune social network.

The new Zunes go on sale, too, so get yourself an 80-gigabyte for $250 at Amazon, or the 8-gigabyte Flash Zune for $200 in red or pink or green, $187 in black, or the 4-gigabyte for $150 in pink or red or green, $138 in black.

| | | | | | | |

If you’re wondering why the 80-gig Zune is only available in black, the answer is: It isn’t. The big secret Microsoft held back is Zune Originals, the website where you can order any Zune (right now, only the Flash Zunes, but next month, the 80-gigger also) and choose the color, select artwork to be etched on the back, and/or add up to five lines of text to be etched on the back, at no additional charge.

Consumers no longer need to settle for the same portable media player as everybody else. The new Zune Originals online store will let people make a unique statement by customizing their Zune with laser-engraved art or personal text. Zune worked with 18 accomplished artists from all over the world to create a collection of 27 different designs, called the Artist Series, which will be available exclusively through Zune Originals. In addition to the Artist Series, a separate Tattoo Series will feature 20 graphics that consumers can have laser-engraved on their Zune with up to three lines of text. Alternatively, people can choose to engrave up to five lines of text in place of a design. On the Zune Originals Web site, customers can choose their Zune (Zune 80GB, Zune 8GB or Zune 4GB), pick a color and then select a design and their desired text.

This is a really cool service, one you have to pay for and sometimes don’t even get with that other fruit company, and to give it away for free is really great. Microsoft is making it easy and affordable to personalize your Zune, and that is going to be very appealing to some potential purchasers.

The only downside I can see is that, as time goes by, retailers are going to discount the Zune, making the Zune Originals version more expensive than retail. Since Microsoft is going by the official retail price, which will not go down for a while, this won’t be very “free” for much longer, which is a shame. Amazon is already selling some Zunes for $12-13 off, and that divide will only worsen.

Long Zheng spotted a Corvette hot yellow Zune, which looks really cool. I might have to give that one a second look when it becomes official.

November 13th, 2007 Posted by | General, Windows Media, Zune | no comments

Live Messenger For Your Webpage Now Live

You can now get the code for Windows Live Messenger IM Control for your website. This lets you include Live Messenger on your blog, so your readers can send you IMs without needing a screen name, or your customers can ask support questions on any website. The code is extremely simple, will run in any blog that can take a YouTube embed (using a simple IFRAME, rather than SCRIPT tags), and it doesn’t reveal your IM screen name to potential spammers.

Go here to get it.

Here it is, embedded in this post after the break:

It’s after the break, because it seems to break my site template in both IE and Opera, and doesn’t seem to be working. I’ll try to figure out why and fix it. If it does work for you, send me a message to let me know.

November 13th, 2007 Posted by | General, Live, Messenger, Windows | no comments

Microsoft Fires CIO Stuart Scott

Microsoft abruptly fired Chief Information Officer and corporate VP Stuart Scott this week, and everyone’s been trying to figure out why he was kicked out. Valleywag leads the pack, as always, wondering what the company means when it says he fired “for violation of company policies”. They also suggest that Microsoft fired him while he was traveling to his sister’s funeral, in order to further embarrass him. Most of the speculation is in the direction of him being fired for cheating, or rather having an affair with an employee of his.

Valleywag talks about another firing at the beginning of the year, that of Martin Taylor, Steve Ballmer’s right hand man. Apparently the rumor mill has been spinning on that one, with company insiders saying Taylor was given the boot for charging the company for hotel rooms he charged the company for, rooms he used for weekend getaways as part of an affair with a coworker.

Seems to be becoming a pattern, or perhaps not. People are always having office romances, and some people are always cheating on their wives (just read InsideGoogle). Microsoft is just standing up and being willing to fire these people, no matter how important they are to the company. You’ve got to respect that, applying company policies to everyone no matter their pay grade, though having to hire a fourth new CIO in four years must be getting tiring.

November 11th, 2007 Posted by | Corporate, General | 3 comments

Microsoft/Ford Sync Commercials

Check out these commercials for the Ford Sync, the voice activated entertainment and communications system for Ford cars developed by Microsoft:

(via Steve Clayton)

November 8th, 2007 Posted by | General | no comments

Microsoft’s JPEG XR Approved As New Image Standard


Joint Photographic Experts Group, which owns the JPEG standard, has voted to make Microsoft’s HD Photo their new standard, under the name JPEG XR. Once the process is done (it takes about a year), JPEG XR will be the new version of JPEG, with newer software and operating systems, plus top cameras (and, if we’re lucky, all cameras) supporting the format. Adobe likes the format, and cameras supporting it are supposed to hit in the middle of next year.

Why should you like JPEG XR? Because right now, most cameras offer either RAW or JPEG. RAW changes from camera manufacturer to manufacturer, so you can’t just share the files, and JPEG is an aging standard that doesn’t have the greatest quality in the world (though it still looks damn good at high quality levels). JPEG XR will bring JPEG closer to the level of RAW, but should still work with all computers and software, making it more shareable and widely supported, while looking a whole lot better.

Microsoft may have invented the standard, but it isn’t controlling it. The standard belongs to the world. They just hope you remember, if you fall in love with the new standard, that they did something really good for the photography world here. Give ‘em some credit, kay?

Previous posts:
Microsoft Taking On JPEG; About Damn Time! – May 25, 2006
Microsoft To Make HD Photo A Standard – March 16, 2007
HD Photo Becomes JPEG XR – August 8
HD Photo Plugin For Photoshop Released For Mac OS – August 23
Microsoft Pro Photo Downloads – Get Em! – August 27

November 6th, 2007 Posted by | General | one comment

(Mostly) Free Windows Home Server 120-Day Trial Available

Microsoft has just made available a free trial of Windows Home Server. The 120-day evaluation disk will only cost six dollars to ship, and give you four months to see if Home Server brings you enough benefits. If it does, the full version will be completely worth whatever it costs, though I’m not sure if you can buy the license from Microsoft or if you just need to head to Newegg. Either way, if you wanted to see whether the hype is a good fit for your house, pick it up now.

What will you receive?

Windows Home Server Installation DVD

Windows Home Server Connector CD

Home Computer Restore CD

Are you ready?

This software is intended for evaluation purposes only. In order to preserve your existing data, you must backup prior to installation. The setup process for server installation will erase any existing data.

(via Absoblogginlutely, found on Findory)

November 2nd, 2007 Posted by | General, Home Server, Server, Windows | one comment

Sony 200-Disk DVD Changer: Down To $177

Sony’s XL1 200-disk DVD changer, the one-of-a-kind Media Center-connectable daisy-chaining 200-disk DVD player is down to $177 on Amazon, and now might be the time to pull the trigger on this one. Sony’s own store just liquidated its stock, as far as I can tell, by unloading whatever units it had left for a hundred bucks (it’s out of stock already, sorry), which puts a lot of evidence behind speculation that this thing is going away forever, to be replaced either by a newer, better, and far more expensive model, or to just go away forever.

November 1st, 2007 Posted by | General | one comment

“Gatineau” Analytics Beta Finally Launches

We’ve been hotly anticipating the first public closed beta of codename “Gatineau”, Microsoft in-development website analytics service, and it’s finally here. Invites went out yesterday, and you might already have them.

I’ve be reviewing it right now, instead of just telling you about it, if the invites weren’t tied specifically to the Passport from which you first requested it from, and some screw-up resulted in mine going to the wrong Passport. I’ve got my regular Hotmail, plus one for my business email, and my AdCenter account is part of my business account, but the invite went to my Hotmail account, and now Adcenter won’t accept it. Maybe somebody wants to fix this for me?

Anyway, check out screenshots by Ian Thomas, along with a lot details.

October 31st, 2007 Posted by | General | no comments