Archives for category: Microsoft

It’s all kicking off….

Still no sign of the mythical beast of a deal that Pooh and I have been waiting for, but the current one that we’re wrestling with is much like a firework.  

The blue touch paper has been lit and we should be standing well back – however “Kanga” is not only poking it with a stick (and not a pointy one I should add – as we all know the best weapon of choice of all woodland creatures is a pointy stick) but he’s picking it up and carrying it over to the gathered crowd as if to say “look at this, maybe we should try opening it and seeing how much gunpowder is in inside” – much to the terror of the rest of us.  Didn’t he read the instructions (using a battery operated torch) before hand ?

Owl was fuming and there was some argy-bargy from Eeyore. In fact if Owl hadn’t been up a tree at that point, he’d have happily pulled Eeyore’s tail off (which is only held on by a drawing pin). 

The dangers of messing with fireworks are ably demonstrated by Pooh, who has to go and have his hand fixed after many years of making his own fireworks in the privacy of his own home. The result of this means that he’ll be leaving me in charge of the box of unlit rockets and of course the finale “sky-bomb” which I’ll be setting off next week.

It should travel high enough into the stratosphere to come down somewhere over the far side of the atlantic ocean – but that rather depends on what the crowd think of it as it goes up.  Our fireworks are “applause driven” so if there’s not a general feeling of approval from the watching audience it won’t make it and I’ll have to have another look in the “wooden” (not metal) box to see if there’s anything better we can set off.

However, before we get that far, we need the other woodland folk to take another look at the potential “sky-bomb” and make sure they’ve included all the right whistle’s and bangs in it so that it appears appropriately whizzy when it goes up.  The problem here though, is that they’re currently working on a firework display for the village and not the 100-acre wood.  Piglet’s on the case.

Some of the other woodland creatures that we don’t see much – the one’s that hangout in parliament, are also getting twitchy. Tigger’s are wonderful things (as we all know) – but a brave bear with a pointy stick and very little brain has a better outlook on those creatures than a tatty, bouncy tigger does.

Penny-for-the-guy anyone ?

Tiggernpooh

Appreciate that’s all a bit abstract, but if you know what I’m jabbering about, then you’ll know what I’m jabbering about.

Away from the wood things are relatively quiet. A nice Chilli for dinner last night, some “Come Dine With Me” on the telly and I managed to keep my eyes open long enough to see the first half of “The Ghost” (Known as “The Ghost Writer” outside of the UK). 

It’s the story of a writer employed to ghost write the autobiography of an ex-british prime minister.  A political thriller with the young Obi Wan Kenobi (Ewan MacGregor) as the writer and James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) as the PM.  So far, reasonably enjoyable, with lots of it set in Martha’s Vineyard, the island just off the southern edge of Massachusetts, which looks like a great place to be in the summer – and a “windswept and interesting” place to be in the winter. I’ll give you my final take on it once I’ve found an hour to cram the second half in.

Anything interesting in the news??  Well, there’s The EU debt crisis, which is droning on and on. The Boeing Dreamliner has had it’s first commercial flight from Tokyo to Hong Kong. Amazon’s profits are seriously down due to production of the new Kindle Fire. IBM have named a new female chief executive (Virginia Rometty) to replace the current CEO (Sam Palmisano) in January next year. And “Nokia World” has begun where Nokia will announce a bunch of phones (including the Nokia Luma 800 Windows phone – available from November at $585) that won’t be as good as the iPhone (probably). That’s a little unfair, but having spent most of my career around windows and Microsoft, it’s probably true.

And on the subject of Microsft, Happy Birthday to Windows XP yesterday. 10 Years old and still favoured by millions of PC users.

Finally, finally – if you feel like doing something dangerous – and let’s face it on a Wednesday, who doesn’t? – you could always try this:

Ta-ra for now.

 

 


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Well that’s almost week one of 2011 done. So far so good.  Of course as far as the Starfleet stuff is concerned it’s very early days and I find myself reading and reading and reading and just for kicks doing a bit more reading.  There’s no denying I’m very well read.  Luckily that suits me just fine. A gentle run into it is far better for my well being than dropping from a great height.

It also gives me the opportunity to keep up to date with some of the more interesting tech news. For instance yesterday saw the launch of the Mac App Store. If you’re not a Mac user, feel free to look away now. Having said that, you should really be saving up your pennies to become a Mac user. Let me just evangalise for a moment, oh and before I get going, there is no personal benefit to me should you be buying Apple, Microsoft or any other manufacturers product for that matter. I’m not actually trying to sell anything here.

<sales pitch/lecture mode ON>
Let’s be very very clear. I’m NOT a fan boy, although I have become a fan. IMHO for home use, there’s nothing better than OSX for the time being.

…And no I’m not biased either – I was an MS man through and through from way back when MS-DOS arrived all the way up through Windows 2, 3.1, Windows for Workgroups, Windows 95, 98, 98SE, NT, NT3.51, NT4.0, 2000, and XP.. Finally when Vista landed I’d had enough. Constant patching, blue screening, hanging, locking and replacing drivers was all just getting too much like hard work.. I’m even a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (lapsed now) but the point is I really do know what I’m talking about.

I was a Unix/Linux system admin from the early 1990’s and I still turn my hand to some of it from time to time. But it’s always when someone has a problem with it and it needs fixing.  Why does it need fixing!??

I hear good stories about Windows 7 and I like nix/nux platforms, but I converted almost two years ago, and I’m not going back.

Where I’m at things just work. They might have dropped that from the advertising, but it’s still very much the truth. So, I’ve told you what I know, what you choose to do with that information is your choice. 
<sales pitch/lecture mode OFF> 

Now where was I?  Oh yes. The App Store.

So what is it? Well, if you’re familiar with an iPhone or an iPod touch or an iPad then the App Store on those devices is exactly the same thing except for being on your Macbook or iMac. What’s more, once you’ve bought an application once, you can re-install on any system that uses your iTunes ID. Not only that, but the products are of much lower cost than if you went out and bought them on CD. Furthermore, once you have them, they’re updated automagically (or at least when you tell them to check for updates).

This change to the way that software is bought and managed isn’t exactly new. Microsoft have been doing something similar with their “Windows Update” service for quite some time, but the runaway success of the app store in the mobile world is likely to be repeated on your desktop or laptop for shear convenience if nothing else.

It seems to me that we’re heading towards a world in which what we buy as consumers (music, video, software, books etc etc) is stored online for us to access when we need it. In other words, good old CLOUD again. 

In the old days this was the mainframe model. Nothing was local other than a screen and keyboard (the terminal) and everything was off in a data center somewhere. PC’s changed all that and everyone started having “Fat Clients”, where everything you wanted was on your desk. This is a nightmare to manage though and while there are some fairly successful methods for doing so, the technology has in recent years been leading us full circle and back to “Thin Clients”

It’s not exactly the same model of course, more of a hybrid, but CLOUD has definetly been the buzzword of the last two years with the likes of Google trying to lead the way. I think with the launch of the App Store that Apple are attempting to get to a similar destination via a slightly different route and I fully expect to see some sort of Audio streaming coming from them in the near future and probably followed up with video. The apple TV is already their thin client of choice for the living room after all.

The issue is the same issue it’s always been though. Connectivity. While the Internet is pervasive, that is only in the more well connected parts of the planet. We keep coming up with ingenious ways to provide connectivity, but so far it doesn’t have the reach of air or sunlight for example. Hell, we can’t even get fresh water everywhere, so acess to the internet should be the least of our worries. 

It’s a strange world that we live in when you see highly connected sheds in the outer reaches of Africa yet your phone signal will routinely drop in the center of any of the metropoli (is that the plural of metropolis?) that you care to think of. It maybe getting cloudy, but it’s not overcast yet.

Dilbert.com


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

“Enough whinging and moaning.  Time to get off me harris and do something about it!!” , is what I said last week to myself during a particularly strong bout of taking myself to one side and having a serious word in my shell-like. There was some whirring and clicking and things sort of fell into place which led me to finding this path that I now find myself upon and I’m trudging forward along it to see where it takes me.

As employees within Starfleet we are very lucky to be able to move around to differing roles within the business without too much risk to your career in the longer term. Of course it’s never quite as straight forward as that, but in theory it’s pretty simple.  The long and the short of this means that sometime in the next 3 months I will probably be doing something different. But I won’t hold my breath just yet.

OK – that’s enough work talk – Let’s see what else is going on…

Scobi’s looking for some guidance for his Home Theatre setup and managing his media, so I figured I’d share a short write up on the way I’ve been doing it for the past few years. Any questions, drop me a note or post a comment.

What’s the goal? To begin with, the goals were simple:

  • Listen to different music in different rooms
  • Watch different movies in different rooms
  • Watch family photo albums on a big screen

Back in the day when I was a believer of Microsoft, before I moved to the Mac world, the answer for me was Microsoft XP Media Center Edition (MCE). I had a smallish tower PC with a TV card in it that would capture my analogue signal. The MCE front end with associated remote was a nice way to watch, pause and rewind live TV as well as being able to watch DVD’s (via the DVD ROM), my own videos from the HDD, listen to MP3 music, and view photos. This after all is what you want your media center to do.

However, back then, the support was patchy, drivers and codecs were a headache and believe me there is nothing quite like a “General Protection Fault” or the “Blue Screen Of Death” during the recording of Coronation Street if you really want to feel the wrath of a woman scorned. On top of this, although it was possible to get it running with Sky, satellite TV could only be view via the analogue port due to tuner constraints meaning is was out of step with HD TV by the time that arrived on our shores.

It was these problems that led me away from the Microsoft solution and into the world of Apple TV. A shame, because there were two killer features, that I haven’t been able to replace as yet which I’ll come to in a moment.

This is the current setup.  

Sky+HD for the main TV in the living room. This takes care of the Corrie recording issue and allows for some decent HD content. There’s also a PS3 to provide Blue Ray content. 

The media Library sits across 2 Terabyte hard drives (1 Internal and 1 external) on the back of an iMac running iTunes – tucked away in the office. This is the core of the network and stores all of the data. Media that arrives at home get’s converted (the geeky phrase is “ripped”) to a suitable digital format and imported into an iTunes library. This is then available to Apple TV which sits silently and unobtrusively in the living room connected to the WiFi Network.

All of this is rigged to a wall mounted HD LCD and Dolby 5.1 Surround system which the Apple TV supports nicely.

Other rooms in the house have TV’s with iPod/iPhone connectors or the iPod/iPhone Composite AV Cable attached to them. This means that it’s possible to stream movies or music from the iMac to a remote iPod/iPhone (should point out we’re talking about “iPod touch” in this context, which has WiFi connectivity) and use a TV or other docking station for output. Furthermore if you want to move from room to room, well that just works because you’re on the WiFi Network and you can even sit outside with it if the mood takes you and the turbulent weather has subsided. The key to it all, is having the library central and available on the Network – it’s that simple.

This all works like a dream at the moment, but I have concerns. The downsides (which are only slight) are thus:

  • No true (1080p) Hi-Def support in the Library (Apple TV does 720, but my source is only as good as DVD)
  • No Skype in the living room
  • No Social media in the living room
  • Live TV still provided via Sky

Now, I can hear you saying the HD support is a bit of a bind, but not a problem. Skype & Social Media in the living room!!?@!?  What are you on Golfy?

Well, I’m not just running a Home theatre here, this is cutting edge stuff. In the Old MCE world, I have a small camera mounted above the TV and Video Sky calls could be neatly integrated because the whole thing was running on XP. I also had a wireless keyboard and could use MS Messenger for chat while watching the TV.  

In the future we’ll have something to fix that, be it Google TV, or Apple TV with Apps on it (which I think is highly likely), or something else altogether. But the key piece of technology there is the Internet, and so Internet connectivity to your TV in your living room (at least!) is a must have for future-proofing (or at least attempting to).  There are TV’s out today with some Internet connectivity already, but this is the new frontier for living room dominance and not (I repeat NOT) 3D-TV. But that’s another story.

Any other stuff to get off my chest?

X-Factor!  Seriously, What the feck is going on there ??  I’m done with it now that it’s been clearly shown up as an advertising campaign thinly disguised as a telent show. Just in case you were wondering where my logic comes from. It’s really down to last nights show that selects the final 12. The first seven minutes of this contained nothing but the previous days show. And when I say nothing I mean nothing save one very short voice over to say this would be when we find out who the final 12 are. Other than that it was Saturday nights show in 7 minutes. And this is what really galls me – they then went into an ad break!!!  7 minutes of old TV and an ad break! I’m sorry but you lost me right there.  

As I’m sure you’ve heard me say before it’s car crash TV (meaning you don’t want to look but you can’t take your eyes off it) so I allowed my rubber necking to continue to see who had actually been selected. In short, the judges decisions were simply appalling. And the most blatant of these is the selection of Katie Waissal who it transpires, already had a recording contract which Mr Cowell bought her out of just prior to the start of the series…. Goodnight X-Factor. Info here: Anorak.co.uk

http://www.youtube.com/v/7gazB-wXi0c&hl=en&fs=1

And finally, finally….  What a game of Golf that was!!!  Damn close in the end even after all that.  Without doubt the Ryder Cup is my favourite competition in the golfing world.  Europe v’s America is just great fun. Well done all involved and of course Graeme MacDowell for finishing it off. http://www.rydercup.com/2010/

Ta ra.


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

If it turns out that I’m one of the lucky 100,000 lottery winners Tax payers, to get a rebate in Gloucestershire, and if it’s £400, Can you guess what I’ll be doing with it in Cabot Circus ?  

Microsoft don’t do iPads. They’ve fumbled about with Tablet PC’s and touch desktops, but they’re not going in quite the right direction yet. I’m sure you recall that Microsoft are the largest IT corporation on the planet with the hugest amount of financial resource available to them to dabble in whatever technology takes their fancy.  Well, them and Google at any rate.

After Apple’s phenomenal success with the iPod they went after it with the Zune and what a disaster thatwas. To be fair it does have some following in the US, but considering it’s not actually available anywhere else, it looks like they’ve missed the boat. They haven’t given up all hope yet, but it must be soon.

Anyway, not be downtrodden, they’ve also gone after Apple’s next little baby, the re-imagined smart phone. The iPhone has done massive amounts of business globally and can only be described as a roaring success. Google are hot on their heels though with the Android powered phones. Google may not be up to the Hardware challenges, but they certainly can do software and after the recent Antenna-gate charges it’s possible that Apple can’t do hardware either (although, like most people I think this is more of a blip on their part than anything else).

Apple do learn from their mistakes. I’m not so sure that Microsoft do, otherwise why would they be putting out stuff like this ?:

Do they really think they’re going to get all that ground back again ? iOS is reportedly the 3rd most used Operating System online even beating Linux. Now that really is a big shout. Linux is almost as old as the Internet itself, but has continually grown and shaped and moulded to fit it’s users needs. iOS is barely out of nappies by comparison, and yet is overtaking it’s elder cousin already.

Thanks to NetMarketShare for this data.

You can judge for yourself by taking a ride through the demo’s that are available here on the WindowsPhone7.com website. I like the interface. The way it moves and flips around, are all very nice touches. But, it’s all about Facebook and Windows Live and Outlook. By default there’s no Twitter client, so you’re back to the browser for the good stuff. Mind you, even that’s not necessarily a bad thing…

Yesterday I mentioned check.in, the HTML 5 based app for checking in to multiple locations. Well, today I’m going to point you at Seesmic.com which does a similar sort of trick for the SocNet (Social Networks; It’ll never catch on – Ed). If you’re familiar with Teetdeck, then you’ll know what to expect.  Essentially, you give it the login details of each of your accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Buzz etc) and it then presents you with a column view in a similar fashion to Tweetdeck.  There’s even an app for it naturally: http://seesmic.com/seesmic_mobile/ although I hav to say, the mobile version isn’t quite as slick as the full web browser version IMOH.

Still, What do I care…  I won’t be needing any of that when my cheque drops through the letterbox.  You can see me sat patiently waiting by the door even now.   What’s that?  No, no. I’m sure you’re mistaken, I can’t have underpaid surely? Nobody said it works both ways!!  Arrrrrrhhgghgh.

Until next time.

This post originally appeared here: http://golfyball.posterous.com/27537767