PC based appliances, touchscreens, technology & innovation

Die cast

Had a PCI SATA card on the Windows Home Server die recently. It did something unspeakable to the installation, so much so that the time cost to up and running is lower if I do a re-installation. I know that I haven’t lost any data, so it’s just a matter of getting the platform up and running.

So I’m going Windows Server 2012 Essentials. The Release Candidate. I am confident in my backup methodology, and I have a shelved set of rotating backups. It does mean a change to domain accounts, but that’s OK, as for some reason I’ve made sure that all my clients are running Win7Pro as a minimum.

It will be interesting to see the difference in performance between Drive Extender and Storage Spaces.

More to come.

Publishing is easy

I got a note from WordPress today to tell me that my blog had a new subscriber; that happens rarely enough that it prompted me to write something.

I’ve just come off a very long weekend doing the layout and desktop publishing for a magazine – a proper, commercially printed distributed to thousands magazine.  It’s pushed creative buttons (that this blog was supposed to push) that I haven’t made the time to push for a while, and we’re about to upload the finished product to the printer.

I remember last time I did any of this sort of work – it was a long time ago, and the tools that I used back then (Ready Set Go v4.5 for Mac rings a bell) are probably functionally equivalent to Microsoft Publisher today, although I’m sure that text control in RSG was much, much better.

Publishing today is primarily focused on the transition to online, so it seems a little anachronistic to be be preparing for physical printing, but that’s where the specific target market we’re shooting for is at. However with the tools available today, it’s not really that much harder than publishing for online, as the rules generally translate, and the medium specific knowledge can be learnt if you understand the concepts.

We’re working on the website at the moment.  I’m learning what I can at the moment on quality in WordPress themes, and hardening a WordPress site prior to letting the outside world have at it.

I can’t imagine what the print world needed to do to get a paper or a magazine out in days before computers – all that typesetting and lithography and bromides and so on.

More details to come once Issue #1 hits the streets.

(I’m writing with the royal ‘we’ here – this new venture is Bec’s muse business, and I’m merely the semi-skilled labour)




I suspect that we would have much better insight to the question posed in my earlier post had it been asked by someone better known that me 🙂  As it is, the volume of responses I received weren’t statistically significant by any reasonable measure, but there are still some interesting insights from the comments, which I’ve shared below.

On the right is a little chart.  The information junkies gathered the most votes with 42%, but for me what was interesting were the comments, which suggested that irrespective of the answer to question 1, I read that most concluded that the two belong together in some way.  Commenter #5 challenges that there shouldn’t be an emphasis, and for the most, I agree with the thrust of that comment, but only to the extent that it doesn’t devalue specialisation.

I spend a lot of time listening to people (or at least trying – sometimes I get the ears/mouth ratio wrong!).  Do you see a breakdown between business and IT?  Are there better questions that I should  have asked?  I wonder if there is anything academic being done in this space?

I’m leaving the survey open – should it gather further responses, I’ll come back and post.

(As an aside, no-one explicitly said that it was a stupid question, so thanks for that, in addition to your input!)

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IT Emphasis

One of the things that I’ve noticed about working around and with IT  is that the ‘I’ seems to be less important than the ‘T’.  I’ve often wondered what others think.  Here’s your chance to tell me:


It has two questions.

If you think it should have more, then you can tell me either here or on Twitter.

I’ll share the results (as percentages based on the last 100 responses – that’s what the free Survey Monkey gives me) via Twitter and this blog.  Hopefully I get some actual responses!

This isn’t a Social Media exercise – I’m just a guy, with some computers and a data fascination, and I’m wondering what others think.

Help! Hard Drive Survey

I now have three PC’s in the house: The HP TX2z, the Windows Home Server, and the Home Theatre PC.

I have lots of hard drives (the WHS is 7.5TB at the moment), but for the purposes of boot drives, I have the following three to choose from:

Here’s the question:  Which drive goes where?  How do I maximise my bang for buck?

My current theory is to stick the 128GB SSD in the laptop (blend of speed and size), the Intel in the HTPC (raw speed, and there is another disk and a server there for TV recording duties), and the Raptor in the Home Server (by process of elimination).

Have I got it all wrong?

One of the standard features that smartphone users expect, in the same way that car users expect wheels, is the ability to remotely find or nuke their phone if the unthinkable happens.

HTC, sensing (pun not originally intended) the market, launched a HTCSense.com to offer this precise service to their customers. #WIN! And then, restricted it to only their handsets, the Desire HD, the Desire Z, and the Inspire 4G (in Australia at least). #FAIL

It appears that there was some confusion as to the scope of the new service (http://www.abc.net.au/technology/articles/2010/10/28/3050954.htm), which follows so closely to the debacle that was the release of Android v2.2 in Australia.

If this service is easily available for iPhone and Windows Phone 7 users, why is the Desire being left out in the cold?  Setting up MobileMe on the iPad was a 2 minute job, and I was using the iPad at the time (in other words – that’s the way it should be, unlike the whole tethered startup experience).

Slowly, my internal business case for a #WP7 builds itself.   It also jeopardises the Android tablet that was planned for this year.   There has been no talk as to whether the Motorola Xoom carries this feature.

Perhaps I should wait for the specs for the iPad 2.


(OK – this post has been sitting in draft for a while – so I updated and posted today.)

The feature that I’ve really been appreciating this week is one that I may not have access to for much longer: it’s the hardware screen orientation lock.

In Apples infinite wisdom, it appears that on upgrade to iOS4.2, the switch gets remapped to being a mute button, even though a press and hold on volume down will achieve this for you already in double quick time.

Can I get a WTF?

The screen orientation lock was such magnificent discovery when I found it, that I’ve been wishing for one on my HTC Desire ever since.

At this stage, this means that I’ll be putting off applying the 4.2
upgrade for as long as possible. I know that this will cost me multi-tasking, but that’s ok for the moment, based on my current usage model.

Dear Apple & Steve Jobs: Please don’t ruin my iPad. Can you make the button assignment optional in Settings please?

iPad: Feature of the Week

I’ve had the iPad for a month. I’ve been surprised by the number of people that have told me that I’ve sold out.  I’m still involved with #SWUG when I can get along.

Feature of the week for me over the course of this month has been instant on.  I love the no-wait, absolutely instant access to internet, email and Twitter. I’m still working out the applications that are useful to me to do all the things that I want to be able to do on the bus.  I’ll talk about typing on it, and reading and double clicking, and the inability to store my files on my piece of hardware, but for the moment, instant on is the magical feature.

Now that I’ve had time with the iPad, I bought a case today – it’s an Elano from Next Byte. I can’t find a website for the case (and the picture is merely something that looks very similar), but the decision point was the little metal clips on the bottom and both sides that retain the iPad in place, rather than the loose leather pouch arrangement that many sport. The end result is a very clean and tidy installation.  Similar to the original Apple case, the case can be arranged for a variety of typing and viewing angles.  It’s black leather(ette probably), and also available in store in brown and read.  It is so very hard to find perfection. This one was on special at AUD$50.

In some ways, I think I’ve looking for a business case for an iPad since they were first released.  There was a lot of humming and hawing about the fact that it involved buying Apple, but ultimately the form factor and the business case won out.

Business case?

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The Digital Divide

I mentioned a while ago that I was preparing for an upgrade to Win7 for the home theatre PC. This machine is probably the most important in the house after my laptop, as it is the absolute centre of our home entertainment world. With three kids under five, having a simple way to manage and access our media for recording and watching tv, movies, endless episodes of PlaySchool and Charlie & Lola, as well as accessing our music and photo collection is vital.

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