Saturday, 22 March 2008
I'm noticing a not-so-subtle change in the force. I spent the better part of the week listening to Barack Obama, and I'm a moderate-to-conservative guy. Policies aside, he's a persuasive man. Anyhow - I'm also a Windows guy for the most part, but have been known to ride (and occasionally cross over) that fence, as well. Recently, a new business/work venture has me experiencing the need to be ultra-portable from time to time, meeting and working potentially from who-knows-where. So, given the current tax situation and the "workability" needs, I broke down and dropped by the Apple Store last night and - after having visited the store four times and carefully considering the available options - I bought a MacBook Air. My friend Matt patiently watched while I substantially delayed our arrival at the movie theater. Good sport, that Matt.

In case anyone's keeping track, the current game score in the Hughes household Windows vs. Apple system showdown is: Windows 2 (technically 3 if you count the roomie's machine), Apple 2 (or 3 if you count the iPhone). I'm not a Switcher, but I am an Adder.

VMWare Fusion, a very cool app that will let me run Windows apps on the Mac, is coming soon. I will write up my experiences at some point with that process, with a focus on how it works from the perspective of an IT guy. There are - plain and simple - certain apps that are only available on Windows that I need to use, so it will provide me with both worlds, at the same time. You can learn about Fusion here.

Everyone and their brother have already posted reviews and articles about the MacBook Air, so no point in me rehashing the obvious. Here are my initial highlights:
  • Keyboard - Backlit, brightness auto-adjusts, nice keys, quiet typing.
  • Screen - Excellent backlight, also auto-adjusts, bright and contrasty.
  • Thin - Well, duh. And light, too. That was what got me to look in the first place.
  • Battery - Not going to get the advertised 5 hours, but I have pounded it pretty hard for about 2.5 and its still advertising an hour left on the battery (first charge)
  • Close-lid-sleep-wake-up drill - Nice and quick. I like that.
Also, I picked up the "incase" brand neoprene sleeve case they had at the Apple store, which is really very nice. I am already liking it. Great protection and hey, it's all black. :)

I got home, opened it up despite being very tired, ran through the setup (nice, easy and cool), eventually climbed into bed and watched this past week's episode of Lost in HD on the 'net. The Air is a great computer for that, too. I like.



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Apple | Mobile | Tech
Saturday, 22 March 2008 11:35:52 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 21 March 2008

Got iTunes, or anything else Apple on your Windows computer? If so, when the Apple software checks for updates, you'll probably AppleUpdateSafari1see an option (which is enabled by default) to install Safari - even if you don't already have it installed  on your computer. Safari is Apple's default web browser (and actually not a bad one at that). But since people are used to seeing - well - updates when the software checks for updates, you might not realize you're installing new software.

Just making sure you're paying attention here, is all.

Sure enough, when I check for updates on my Windows machine, where Safari has never been installed, I'm presented with the option to install it...

AppleUpdateSafari2

As Tom Krazit tells us... Just un-check the box if you don't want to install Safari. Simple as that.

"It seems that at some point people became conditioned to downloading anything that shows up from an official source, like Microsoft, Apple, AOL, Yahoo, or whoever. Remember, it's your PC; spend your installation capital wisely." (link)

It's always important to pay attention to what you're clicking on. Fact is, Apple's probably counting on the fact that a significant number of people will just click without thinking - And that's indicative of a whole slew of problems, with users, companies, you name it.

For my part, I made the educated decision to install it. I actually kind of like Safari on the Mac, so I'm interested din trying it on Windows.



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Apple | IT Security | Tech | Things that Suck
Friday, 21 March 2008 12:47:04 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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A quick non-techie post for all my carbon-focused brethren scattered around the world. Yesterday "it" couldn't decide whether to rain or shine, and this morning "it" couldn't decide whether to rain or snow. Yes, there is a common denominator there, but hey - It is Oregon.

(I'm not saying Oregon is "it," just that it is Oregon, after all. You decide.)

A couple pics... Yesterday afternoon and this morning. Originals linked - note that they are quite large.

Thursday Rainbow  Friday Spring Snow



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Photography | Random Stuff
Friday, 21 March 2008 11:46:03 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 20 March 2008

We recently conducted an interview with Michael Manos, Senior Director of Data Center Services at Microsoft, on RunAs Radio. Microsoft's been working on a substantial set of data center build-outs, and so Richard and I figured there's a lot we can all learn from someone like Michael. Not many people have to think as carefully or in such a large scale about how to best tackle the data center design and build issues.

Microsoft has been doubling their data center capacity each year, and they have to think about maximizing efficiencies, "greening" the data center, locations, power - you name it.

If you're in any way associated with data center design, architecture or operations this show's for you.



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RunAs Radio | Tech
Thursday, 20 March 2008 14:06:13 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Stories at CNN, Ars Technica and CNET are covering the fact that Apple is working on a plan that would allow unlimited "free" access to the iTunes music library - if users paid more up-front for their iPod devices.

This sounds interesting, but it seems like an up-front charge (when you buy the device, as a one-time fee) might have some legal (not to mention business viability) challenges associated with it. Now, if they were to go with a Zune-like monthly subscription model, that would be a whole different story. It would actually make a lot of sense.

Group-think/conventional wisdom seems to be that since the average iPod/Phone user spends about $20 total on music through the iTunes store, it would make sense to charge everyone that much up front. Others say something more like $80 is more reasonable. I think they're all wrong: Charge me $20 up front, and I will do everything I can to maximize - in a big way - that mandatory investment. People only spend an average of $20 because they have to keep paying. Charge that up front and grant them unlimited access, and they'll download more music than you can possibly imagine.

That's where the Zune Pass idea is a better one. Recurring monthly revenue of a predictable, fixed amount (which is great from a business standpoint) and a happy customer base. I just don't see a one-time fixed fee model holding water for very long. But then again, if your intent (hypothetically) is to launch a firestorm campaign to (further) monopolize the market and then dump it as unviable... Well, you might actually succeed at one goal by failing at another. Just an thought. :)



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Apple | Mobile | Tech
Thursday, 20 March 2008 13:53:38 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Guy Kawasaki and a couple of his friends recently fired up a site/service called Alltop, which displays a variety of popular topical areas in which various popular blog/news feeds are aggregated. Think of each of the topical sites as a one-stop-information-shop. High-level topics include the categories of Work, Living, People, Interests, Culture, Geekery, Good and News. On his blog Guy describes it as:

Alltop... a news aggregation site that provides “all the top” stories for forty of the most popular topics on the Web. The headlines and first paragraph of the five most recent stories from forty to eighty sources for each topic are displayed. Alltop stories are refreshed approximately every ten minutes.

The interface is clean and easy to read - lots of information on alltop-windowsthe page. Mouse over a headline and see the first few sentences of the article. Click the headline to go to the original site and read the full article or post.

I'm privileged to be among the bloggers whose sites are listed on the Windows Alltop news site (at http://windows.alltop.com/), along with a list of information sites and authors which - truth be told - I am amazed to be paired with. I mean, glancing at the site right now, I'm on the page between Ed Bott and the IEBlog. If I work hard enough at it, I can only hope to provide the types and quality of information you get from the other sites in the list.

Check out Alltop. Lots of good stuff there.



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Blogging | Tech
Thursday, 20 March 2008 11:55:06 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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