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Comment Re:Do they still sell 6.5? (Score 1) 111

A few things. First, Windows 8 will run the same apps as Windows Phone and vice versa. The metro interface with the swipe left/right just shows all the content in columns at once on a widescreen. So putting out hundreds of millions of comptuers with Windows 8 will mean that Windows Phone will benefit with the biggest app ecosystem of all of them very shortly. Those apps have been developed to run either on ARM or x86 as well. It will be buy once run on your phone, your tablet and your desktop. Not to mention they have really improved their free cloud offerings where it seemlessly syncs to things like Live for a roaming profile across any machine and with Skydrive for storage that is accessible from anything.

If you look the Dell Latitude business workhourse range just got touch on the scren standard. Future desktops will have touch screens as well. Plus, there are Windows 8 'tablets' which will dock into be a "normal" PC when at home or work and be a tablet when on the road. With real filesystems you can interact with as you'd expect and which will run all your key software. Touch in windows is definetly coming and it is a game changer - why have a limited functionality tablet and a computer when you can have one device that does both seemlessly? With a version of MS office that has both traditional and touch friendly interfaces? The hardware is only getting cheaper and will be there by release.

Btw, I came from an iPhone and now I have a Windows Phone and love it with Mango (I've been in the Beta and just got the RTM). I have also been playing with the Windows 8 beta on a multitouch Thinkpad X-series tablet.

Microsoft actually has a great and consistent strategy for once and I'll be very surprised if they are not successful here...

Comment Re:unsurprisingly, IT goons don't get it. (Score 1) 443

And when you lose one of your toys that has embarrasing data on it that gets uploaded to wikileaks? Or it has malware on it that spreads from your device to our servers resulting in data loss or downtime? Or you leave the company in six months and I am facing tough questions on how you managed to take your client list, all of the data associated with them and half the company's trade secrets with you when you left?

We in IT Infrastructure are in a hard position - on the one hand we are told that we have to protect the company networks and data at all costs (including from employees) and have responded by encrypting laptop hard drives and implementing DRM/DMS systems on key documents to restrict access to them and enable auditing of them. On the other hand we hear comments like these where people expect to bring their personal laptop/tablet/phone in and/or install whatever software they want on thier work computer, send key pieces of their work information downloaded to it or to their 'free' cloud service, then go off and do whatever they please with it. They act offended and annoyed when we have to tell them no - staring at me like I killed their puppy. Sorry but it isn't your job to find new and innovative ways to do your work - it is ours. Let us find you a workable and secure way to do something if it will really add value. Because it also isn't your job on the line when it all hits the fan either in the end.

The closest that we have gotten to a solution is to let people get to Citrix hosted desktops/apps from whatever/wherever they want. Then they whinge they can't copy files off or print properly from it to their $30 home printer. We just can't win...

Comment Re:Adaption... (Score 1) 328

Our business moved to Office 2007 and will be moving to 2010 and I initially had patience for the ribbon arguments. Extensive and expensive training was offered (a full day to the power users) and we spent quite a bit of money giving everyone laminated quick reference cards on where to find various key functions. Here is a site from MS we based alot of it off of -

What we found is that it takes about a week for people to get used to it and get up to full productivity. It actually increases productivity after awhile with it because there are fewer clicks and finding new things becomes more intuitive believe it or not - MS spent millions on UI research to develop this and certain aspects of it like the live preview of what a change will look like as you hover over it are a godsend.

That is somewhat besides what I see at the main point though. As an office worker, your key competenency these days is being able to use MS Office. I am expected to stay current in the various tools and knowledge I need to do my job. If an employee can't or won't take the training offered and the time necessary to learn how to use MS Office (and the ribbon is here to stay and the paradigm is working its way into other apps now as well) in order to continue to be a useful Office worker than I don't have much patience for that argument. If they are unwilling to stay current and learn what is a pretty easy new skill, on which there is much material, which is key to their role and future employability then fire them and bring in somebody who is.

Comment Re:RIM has it backwards (Score 1) 158

RIM realised that charging people a fortune for BES was hurting them when ActiveSync was free. So they started giving a somewhat lighter version of BES 5 for free - BES 5 Express. It will do up to 2000 handsets but you can only have one server and it won't do things like high availability.

Comment Re:How much does it cost to set up local BSD/Linux (Score 2) 164

Exchange 2003 (now 8 years old) was really I/O heavy and wasn't really designed with large mailboxes in mind. Think back to the average mailbox and attachment size in 2003 (what was your HD size 8 years ago for example) and I think that they thought they exceeded what was necessary for a mail system but it is not really workable for a large organisation with modern needs any longer and buckles a bit under modern expectations - especially on older hardware.

2003 did a few things like single-instancing within a mail database which contributed to I/O and required them to limit the size of DBs to ~75-100GB. So in a large organisation you need many many mail databases and managing them all gets a bit overwhelming.

In Exchange 2007 they did pretty much a complete rewrite and removed single-instancing of everything but attachments reducing the I/O by ~70% for the same workload. In Excahnge 2010 they removed even the single instancing of attachments (if you send an email with an attachment to all staff of a 2000 employee company it stores that 2000 times) but were able to improve I/O by 70% again over 2007. It means you need alot more disk space and a mail archiving solution but storage is cheap these days while I/O is not.

The product has gotten much much better and more scalable in the last two versions. Your IT department either needs to do better with it's storage subsystem to provide 2003 with the necessay I/O (FiberChannel or 10 Gig iSCSI SAN with lots and lots of spindles, transaction logs on RAID10) and/or upgrade to a newer version of Exchange.

Comment Re:How much does it cost to set up local BSD/Linux (Score 4, Informative) 164

The problem with this view is that it is missing some functionality that people now consider part of email thanks to Microsoft and Outlook/Exchange or Lotus Notes/Domino. If you have never worked in a company that makes use of these features you wouldn't understand - but if any of your coworkers have they will expect them from you and will find your IMAP mail system to inadequate and unacceptable.

First is Calendaring - inviting people to appointments and booking in meeting rooms and shared resources (projectors etc) to those meetings. They even will recommend times when all the attendees and equipment is free. If you change the time it informs everyone and moves in all their calendars. This is not to mention sharing your calendar with others so everyone can keep track of where/what your team is up to. And you can do all of this on your mobile phone (ActiveSync or Blackberry) and have it update your server/client immediately.

Contacts - you can see all the people in your team, department and company. You can share your contacts with your coworkers. When you or they change them your phone updates with the changes immediately. I've seen our director's assistant add contacts to his mailbox via Outlook and he can call them from his phone's contacts within less than a minute when on the road.

Delegation - your assistant/gatekeeper or the person filling in for you when you are on leave can respond to your email and meeting requests on your behalf. It even says Susie Q on Behalf of John Doe etc. You can also have a departmental or a support or an information mailbox that many people check and share responsibility for.

Not to mention that Exchange offers the significant advantages of a large ecosystem of applications, tools and trained professionals that can back it up, maintain it, fix it, merge it, replicate it and all kinds of other things that you will eventually need to do in the life-cycle of an average modern mail system. I am dealing with a merger of two companies at the moment and them both running Exchange is a godsend - I'm glad it isn't an OpenExchange system I am having to merge with...

Comment BlackBerry is doing the right things (Score 4, Interesting) 178

I think that it is premature to rule out BlackBerry. I work in IT consulting and I saw many executives try an iPhone and end up going back to BlackBerry because they were just so fast/fluent with the devices. They had a button on the one side set to the calendar and another set to the email and knew all the keyboard shortcuts and it was truly amazing to see how quickly they could get things done. Not to mention that with BES (which they are now giving away for free to organisations under 2000 devices - which I imagine is the vast majority) you can do things like invite attendees to appointments in particular meeting rooms, see their availability and the rooms when scheduling the appointment, etc which are not possible with ActiveSync and particularly not with the iPhone. The enterprise features like being able to force policies which can configure pretty much every setting on the device, wirelessly deploy apps and updates, etc are pretty unrivalled as well.

I personally had a Moto Q9H WM6.1 device until I got my iPhone 3G and I was happy with the iPhone until I was given a company issued Torch at my new job. I am impressed - it is a great really solid and well constructed device compared with my iPhone 3G with nearly as good webkit browser, a better screen, better battery life, more RAM, great multitasking, a great 5 megapixel camera with flash, just as good Facebook and LinkedIn apps and with the above described better Exchange interaction via the company BES server it is a great product for me. I like the fact that it has both the touchscreen and a trackpad as moving the cursor around an email or a mouse cursor around a web page are sometimes better than tapping/holding on the touch-screen (though it can do that too). I like the fact it shows up like a USB disk when attached to a PC and I can just drop music and video files onto that drive and it just works for indexing/playing - even things like OGG/Divx which never worked with the iPhone unless you re-encoded them. I am sure future versions when they get their QNX OS and a higher-res screen and faster processor etc will be even better.

I am waited with great anticipation for the next generation of BlackBerry. The current generation will work just fine for me until then and I don't really miss the iPhone. The Torch is doing what it needed to do - keep their existing customers happy with a solid device better than a iPhone 3G/3GS this generation while they pull a rabbit out of the hat next one which should really be a contender...

Comment Re:Lol (Score 1) 467

I work in IT and have to manage both Unix and Windows servers and some occasional desktops and I respectfully disagree - PowerShell and WMI are better than unix tools and SSH for managing systems via the commandline once you know them.

With PowerShell Microsoft took a step back and basically said if we designed a whole shell and all of the commands from scratch what can we achieve for modern server command-line management? What they came up with is an object-oriented approach where you do not need to parse text with your pipes but actually send whole objects with all of their properties - and you can still query against those properties even further down the piping chain. Not only that, since they designed all of the commands centrally and at nearly the same time they all pipe perfectly well into each other. It has great support for csvs to quickly pull raw data in and out from Excel where you can do a bit more fine-tuning as well. For their server commands they tend to fit the get- set- mould and they do tab completion of not just the commands but all of the commandline options/flags as well. They have the help command which is the equivilent as man too. The power of this is amazing - particularly in server maagement. Here is a few examples:

Let's say I want to change the mailbox quota for all users in the Boston office on Exchange - I can do this:
get-mailbox -filter {office -eq "Boston" } | set-Mailbox -UseDatabaseQuotaDefaults:$false -IssueWarningQuota 800MB -ProhibitSendQuota 900MB -ProhibitSendReceiveQuota 1GB

Let's do some bulk account creation from a CSV:
The following one-liner creates mailboxes for all team members listed in an Avalanche.csv file, which contains NHL Avalanche team roster information with the following column format:
        Pos,No,Player,Age,Ht,Wt,Born,Exp,Birth City
$password = Read-Host "Enter password" -AsSecureString
import-csv Avalanche.csv | foreach {new-mailbox -alias "avalanche$($_.No)" -Name $_.Player -password $password -database "Mailbox Database" -org Users -UserPrincipalName "avalanche$($_.No)"}

These are the sorts of tasks that were really hard to do on Unix where you had to use sed and awk to massage text outputs of commands as you piped them around etc. When you go OO and design all of the commands around it you get an amazing experience. And using WMI you can run these commands not just on the local system but on any system where you have appropriate permission and have not firewalled it off on the local network.

And we are not going to get into the great Group Policy changes with recent versions of Windows - I can set any registry key or file permission or run any script (powershell or vb or even batch) on a system/user matching a wide variety of detailed criteria (OU, Site, Security Group, etc). And that is even before the enterprise management tools like SCCM or Altiris are figured in. I have had to manage a bunch of Macs before and I'd take a bunch of Windows 7 PCs and even Server 2008 R2 Boxes over them any day now that I know how to do it properly...

Comment I liked my iPhone - until I got my BB Torch (Score 1) 483

I had an iPhone 3G up until just recently. I mostly used it for work email/calendar to an Exchange server, Facebook, LinkedIn and some occasional browsing. The 4 update made it unusable and, while recent ones broguht it back to life a bit, I was a bit over it.

I replaced it with a BB Torch and it is a revelation - great keyboard, great screen, great build quality, very fast, great FB/LinkedIn apps, great built-in RSS app, better Exchange inter-operability (invite attendees to appointments and see their availability, deal with recurring appointments properly, etc), better battery life and an alright mobile browser.

I never thought much of the berries in the past prefering geeky toys like the WM HTC phones back in the day. I have hit the age though where I want a simple workhorse device to get me the emails and updates I want and let me reply quickly where needed then put it away. This does that well for me. Don't count RIM out...

Comment Remote Wipe clears everything including the OS (Score 1) 446

I am not sure that many here understand this feature. Basically it is not a selective thing whereby it only removes certain data or administrators have any choice what it wipes - it has one option and that is to wipe the entire phone including the OS. The process leaves it in a state where it will not even boot up. You have to plug it into iTunes and download/install the OS/firmware back onto it before it can even be used again. See the link below on how the process works and what is required.

Basically it comes down to this - Blackberries have always had this capability and it is part of the reason why they have been popular with businesses. You have employees wandering around with devices that may well contain confidential employee information and/or have the capability to send messages on behalf of the company. The solution was to give the employer the ability to wipe the device remotely when the employee reported it stolen or if they had to quickly terminate an employee in the field. Microsoft was told by business that in order to be competitive with BES they had to offer the same functionality and thus require it as part of the ActiveSync API. Many other vendors (Microsoft, Palm, Nokia) implement the API call to only wipe the company data and leave the phone in a usable state but Apple, for whatever reason, implemented it in a way as to toast the whole phone. As such, this has to be Apple's fault as others do it better.

I've only done it once or twice when an iPhone was missing/stolen. In one case the person found the phone 10 minutes later (after saying they had searched everywhere) and they did lose quite a bit of personal info. It also took nearly an hour to even get the phone working again (reloading the firmware). That is the chance you take with these...

Comment Solaris under ESX? (Score 1) 160

So if you work for an organisation that has been drinking the VMWare Koolaid and wants to virtualize everything from their servers to their dekstops to their network firewalls/appliances how does Solaris x86 play under ESX?

The old advantage of the IBMs and the Oracles of "it is our software, our OS running on our hardware supported by our services business" is being eroded a bit by the desire to drop anything and everything into the same ESX farm...

Comment Troubling trend in employer running your life (Score 4, Interesting) 251

I have been seeing a scarry trend in employers like Google trying to run the lives of their employees. It goes something like this:

You get a student out of University where the University was like their parent (provided their housing, food, rules, activities, goals to achieve, etc) and you recreate that in coporate life so they don't have to adjust to being an adult. You provide their food, their housing, their banking (through your own employee credit union), their healthcare and their activities/goals. It is almost like a cult.

In the end, it makes it difficult to distinguish your personal life and your personal space from your work and it makes it that much harder to leave that job because you'd also need to find a place to live, a new bank, a new health plan/provider and all of the rest of living in the real world as part of the process.

Comment Re:So why would anyone want to do this? (Score 1) 229

Because that organisation may not have much in the way of Linux knowledgefor the setup/management/programming of the HPC cluster in-house while they have a wealth of MS experience. Microsoft has created a number of programming APIs for their HPC product that can just be called in .NET to extend existing software or to create new tools where staff members are already familiar with Microsoft programming tools/methodologies.

In short it is a Microsoft solution to the problem written for organisations that use their platform for everything else and that makes it compelling for a variety of reasons - not the least of which being interoperability with the existing infrastrucutre and managability by the existing staff.

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