PC based appliances, touchscreens, technology & innovation

Archive for the ‘Appliance Computing’ Category

HTC: No idea

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.)

More Touch gear: Apple iPad

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?


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.


The Windows Home Server: What’s inside?

My Windows Home Server machine began it’s life in 2005 as my primary workstation – the one that I used to play games, did work, edited photos’ and video and so on.  As life changed and my time-frame for using my computer moved later and later in the day, I found myself looking for a laptop to act as the primary, and a plan to rebuild the workstation as a server.  So that’s what I did!

The first decision was platform.  After playing with Ubuntu, Amahi, Windows Home Server, the choice was clear for me.  The WHS option integrated seamlessly with both Vista and Windows 7, automating backups and connectivity and the all important permissions stuff that is often so incomprehensible.  This is the specification for the Windows Home Server machine that I presented at the Sydney Windows User Group late last year.


HTPC Mk2: Ready for Windows7

On release of Windows7, it was time to upgrade the HTPC from the initial build.  I had done a test build with Vista Home Premium earlier in the year, and whilst I liked the look of Vista Media Center, I wasn’t happy with the performance of TV.

The initial build for the Win7 HTPC was identical to the original build with the exception of the Raptor 10,000rpm hard drive I had available – it seemed a waste not to use it, particularly when it’s no louder than the Samsung SpinPoint that it replaced.

The installation of the Windows 7 (64bit on an AMD 3500+ CPU) was it’s normal smooth self. On completion of installation, all the hardware with the exception fo the TV card was found and installed.  A quick search of the Terratec website landed me drivers (v284) for the Cinergy 2400i Dual HD Digital TV card, while a visit to the nVidia site netted me the up to date drivers for the 6150 on board video card.

Configuration of the media libraries against folders on the Windows Home Server was completely simple, and even more so after running the Media Connector.


This weekends HTPC and WHS maintenance

Things to do this weekend:

  • Play with the kids
  • Help out around the house
  • Update the Windows Home Server:  I installed an evaluation version just under 120 days ago, so it’s time to update.  So that I don’t go through this work for nothing, I’m using it as a test of the migration strategy I’ve been planning for the commercial installation of WHS that I’m planning for a pro-bono client this year.  Wait for advice on timing of WHS vNext.  Nothing to report at this stage.
  • Continuing to test the Home Theatre PC for Windows7 video issues.

The Home Theatre PC (initial build): What’s inside?

One of the things that I proposed to do with this blog was to talk about computer based appliances – in other words, computer hardware that has been built up for a specific purpose, and which doesn’t necessarily expose the underlying computeryness during day to day use.

So it is with the home theatre PC.  Originally built in July 2006 with Windows XP Media Centre Edition, this machine has been:

  • recording and playing back television;
  • storing and playing back DVD’s and home movies;
  • storing a copy of our MP3 collection and playing it back
  • storing a copy of our photo collection, which acts as a screensaver when it’s not in use

This post outlines what’s in the HTPC for hardware and software, how it was built.  With the plan for moving to Win7, there are bound to be changes to come.