After a week, here's my thoughts on my Surface RT so far ...
There's an awful lot of noise about Windows 8 and RT around right now, and this of course includes the Surface RT. I have been trying to think of a more polarising Windows release, and although a few come close, I think it's out in front. It's not for me to say whether "polarising" is a good thing or not, but one could suspect that Microsoft has aimed for this as a desirable outcome – love it or hate it, almost everyone has an opinion. That can make or break a product – in the "break" department, I could mention Windows Vista. In the "make" side of the equation, perhaps the iPhone or iPad is appropriate – not that I intend to draw comparisons!
Opinions are an important part of selling products. Microsoft certainly want to catch your eye … but is it your initial opinion that matters? Perhaps not. For my money, they want to attract opinion - so people will talk about their products - and change your mind, if needed, by showing you what they can do.
A possible settings change to make your Surface even nicer ...
I've been awaiting my Microsoft Surface RT since preorders opened for Australia. It's been interesting ... it's certainly fair to say that Microsoft's online store has some way to go in terms of logistics. I've seen people cancel their preorders because of it ... not to mention the unfortunates whose orders were mistakenly cancelled!
But that's another story. I received mine yesterday afternoon, and have had a fun time playing with it so far. I wanted to drop a quick post about a small change that can be made to improve the overall responsiveness and performance - and probably battery life - of the Surface. I've seen some reviews around indicating the poor performance of the Surface. There aren't any hard and fast tests so far, but I found that while there was certainly some noticeable slowdown in various apps and games, it seemed to even out after a relatively short time.
Being the curious IT guy that I am, I did some poking around. At its heart, the Surface is still a Windows ma ...
It slices! It dices! It will clean as it blends! Or will it?
Windows was always going to head in the Metro / Modern UI direction. It's been coming for some time. I recall some early noises about this as the Zune evolved, but Wikipedia does a decent job of summarising the early history;
"Early uses of the Metro principles began as early as Microsoft Encarta 95 and MSN 2.0, and later evolved into Windows Media Center and Zune."
It's hardly the first significant change to Microsoft's user interface - think DOS to Windows and Windows 3 to Windows 95, as obvious examples. Microsoft evidently like to shake things up periodically. This is, though, undeniably a big change.
I have a Zune HD, and I love it (although of late, it's developed some increasingly odd quirks). It's a nice device, with a nice user interface/experience. Something I miss from later iterations of the UI is the idea that you can tap on the top 'heading' to go back a screen. Metro was always going to develop further, but in this early version, there was something simple and e ...
How do you solve a problem like Maria? How do you explain an idea like AuTechHeads?
AuTechHeads doesn't fit well to the 'usual' user group mould. It never has.
The group has always been as much - or perhaps is more - an idea as anything else. How do you sell an idea to people? I still don't think we know a good answer to that question.
I recall that some time back, someone on Twitter suggested that we were a Microsoft website. It was patently absurd, but I couldn't help but ask why. Far from what I expected - the roots of the group's name would be obvious - the response was that our (then) website used so much blue.
Blue. Because Microsoft sites used a lot of blue. Being the person who shovelled the site together, I honestly can't recall the branding colours of any other company being a consideration at any point. In hindsight, I probably wouldn't get involved in such a ludicrous conversation nowadays. The site, and the group, is what it is. We're not owned by any vendor or company. Site costs come from our own pockets, and site ideas come from ...
AuTechHeads is 3 years old .. and the website is now at v3.0!
Some of our members may have already noticed that the website has had a fairly significant upgrade and refresh. This has been a labour of love over the past few days (along with preparatory work for months beforehand), and we hope you all like it. I do apologise for inadvertently causing an email to be sent to members during the process - it was caused by a migration process. There was a major version upgrade to the site software and some of the modules, so the upgrade was tricky in places, but overall it went quite well.
There are still some kinks to work out, and we're still working through the update of content and functionality .. but the major parts are in place. We'll keep an eye out for any breakage, but please let us know if you see something out of place. There's plenty to be done, but we hope you'll find the site easier to navigate and use.
We'll be making some changes to make it easier to contribute in future. Rather than the current moderation regime, there will be a validation ...
Yes, the AuTechHeads Party will return for 2012!
Latest info is at http://www.autechheads.com/party-2012 - see you there?
While we have (sadly) had a lower sponsorship response than previous years for various reasons, we have been extremely lucky to retain several key sponsors so far - Thycotic, Storagecraft, and CommsIT!
Thanks to these awesome sponsors, the AuTechHeads Party will once again be held on the Gold Coast this year. It's our third year, and we've loved bringing it to you every time. Last year, we played host to over 300 people, and a great time was had by all.
Returning this year as major sponsor is Thycotic, who'd like to express their appreciation for their Australian customers with a party, after a great response to a similar idea at Tech.Ed North America.
Naturally you won't need to be a customer of a sponsor in order to come along, but we do plan to issue priority invitations for customers again. Representatives of our ...
... then reverses into the neighbour's cat, causing untold grief to his long suffering neighbours ...
It's been a bit of a dry month for me in blog updates, or any updates really. The past couple of weeks in particular has been occupied by incredibly bad Dell service for my notebook.
So in lieu of inspiration for new content, here are some new reviews.
Civilization V - Gods and Kings
Surprisingly packed expansion. Religion makes a huge difference. Better diplomacy. Makes the game much longer overall. Better than first release.
Minecraft for Xbox
So I caved in to my kids. Not too bad actually. More accessible than PC version.Warning: major time sink.
Dwarf Fortress 0.34.11
The 2012 release keeps getting better. A surprisingly solid bugfix release. Clearing kill orders after completion is a definite win.
Matt takes his new review format out for a spin, forgets to take off the handbrake, does burnouts in the street, then inadvertently crashes into the neighbour's bins.
I occasionally get new games, and try to review them, but often don't get around to it. With this in mind, I wondered if it was the burden of writing so much about a given game, knowing that people will have their own differing views and opinions. There's also the challenge of knowing when to stop playing and write it - finish the game first, or get some way in and then write about the experience? And since I'm buying the games, I get the joy of reflecting upon the fact that I blew near $100 on a turkey, or that I don't get paid to review games.
So enough with that idea. I figure that most game reviews are far too long, and this kind of annoys me. I figure that if a game really is great, okay, maybe that justifies a long review, but the bulk of games just don't justify it. So I've decided to go with a new game review format, until I change my mind or get bored with the idea. I figure everything I think about a given game should fit into twenty words. Not "or less", and not "give or take a couple". ...
Updating my list of hotfixes for DPM (and other) environments. It's been a while!
It's been some time since I revisited the need for Windows 2008 R2 SP1 hotfixes. The last list I published was in August 2011 - and it's held up pretty well overall! The original purpose of the list was to provide the essential hotfixes for a System Center Data Protection Manager 2007 or 2010 install on Windows 2008 R2 with Service Pack 1. I've allowed other fixes to appear there - either because I felt they were important to stability or performance, or because they fixed an issue I'd observed. I went into some detail on this in the last post, but I do like to have a bunch of fixes in my kit for both general and more specific purposes.
This list provides a number of new hotfixes that have appeared since. These additions are constrained almost entirely to issues that can affect DPM and other backups. It's by no means comprehensive, just a useful list of important fixes. As with the previous article, I've coloured the hotfixes most relevant to DPM in red. A number of these hot ...
We do love our fads, don't we?
Let me start this post by saying that, as with all fad.. err, trends, I'm not totally against BYOD. I've just been in IT for long enough not to jump on the bandwagon of every damn "trend" that comes along, because they come along often.
What is BYOD? Bring Your Own Device, or in other words, staff bringing their own smartphone, tablet, notebook, or similar devices to work. It's an idea that's gained quite some traction with marketers, journalists, and C-level execs. It's not so far different from the classic problem of a high-level exec buying a new shiny device - outside of the Standard Operating Environment - and insisting that IT make it work. It's just spreading that out to a much broader degree, following the innumerable "trends" of times past.
Server-based computing and thin clients never really set the world on fire. Server virtualisation didn't reduce complexity or server sprawl - in the sense that it's now all too easy to run up a new virtual server, and you now have a whole ...
System Center 2012 is here, and it brings new licensing! Here's what you need to know.
By now, you may have heard that System Center 2012 has reached GA (General Availability) stage. It's been available for download for a little while, but Microsoft naturally wanted to align the announcement with the Microsoft Management Summit (MMS) that's happening this week.
System Center is, of course, Microsoft's integrated management platform for IT, and one of its fastest growing product lines in business terms. That's no accident, either - management is the single most consistent challenge across IT shops, regardless of size, technologies, and headcount. We've come a long way from the days where Systems Management Server (SMS) was the only Microsoft offering in this regard - and even since the introduction of Microsoft Operations Manager. These products were clunky and limited in contrast to their modern counterparts, System Center Configuration Manager and Operations Manager.
Times have moved on; now the System Center portfolio also covers backup, virtualisation, service ...
A new friend in the System Center MVP stable!
While AuTechHeads isn't focused specifically on Microsoft technologies,
it's certainly a big part of the IT landscape in the ANZ region, and we do have our share of Microsoft experts around the joint. I didn't get around to posting this earlier, but I was privileged earlier this month to be introduced to a new MVP for System Center Cloud and Datacenter Mangagement, Rob Ford!
In line with the System Center 2012 release, Microsoft recently rolled the various MVP areas for System Center up to just two - System Center Cloud and Datacenter Management, and System Center Client Management and Security. Client Management and Security covers Configuration Manager and Endpoint Protection, while Cloud and Datacenter Management covers the rest of the System Center suite. My own MVP award for Data Protection Manager was therefore rolled up into the Cloud and Datacenter Management area, and until now I was the only one in Australia and New Zealand.
I don't have a full bio for him, but Rob specialises in S ...
I finally review the Inspiron 2320 .. and it's not all good. But that's Dell's fault.
A few months back, I left my public sector role. I had to return my notebook and desktop computer, of course, and so a top priority was to replace them. For myself, a notebook is everything, and I remain ecstatic over my Alienware M17x R3 purchase. It's simply an awesome piece of hardware, and it's served me brilliantly.
I just reminded myself, though, that I never reviewed the desktop computer (I'm glad I took my time, though, as time has changed my opinion for good reason, as you'll see). I suppose that the simplest reason is that I don't use it - it's primarily used by the rest of the family. I had to have a desktop PC to work from home previously, to satisfy OH&S requirements, but otherwise I'm perfectly happy to use my notebook. The same is largely true with my wife and children - unbelievably, they each have notebooks, leading me to reminisce on "ye olde days" when the first computer we had was a Commodore 64, plugged into the lounge room TV - computer usage was a pure luxury.
Matt reviews Dwarf Fortress, a free game that defies logic by implementing its own ...
Dwarf Fortress is a game.
What? You want more?
Dwarf Fortress is a dwarven life simulation written by Toady One of Bay 12 Games.
If you have enjoyed this review, why not check out ...
What? Still not enough? Sigh … okay. Here goes.
Slaves to Armok: God of Blood, Chapter II: Dwarf Fortress is a horrendously bug-laden, incredibly inaccessible, and incomprehensible game that's still only in Alpha after many years of development, and with no end in sight to development. At the same time, it's also possibly the single most fun game ever written, and purportedly the inspiration for Minecraft. It's certainly given me plenty of enjoyment.
Like many others, I stumbled on Dwarf Fortress via Something Awful and their Let's Play Forums. One of the most well-regarded Let's Play threads around, Boatmurdered, is often the first introduction anyone has to the game. Boatmurdered was a succession game ...
The first in a belated series of posts about the HP cloud launch I attended in Singapore!
I was recently privileged to be the guest of HP in Singapore for their Cloud Innovation in APJ event, where they announced a number of new Converged Systems products and services. HP is making a big push toward the cloud in the Asia Pacific region, with some major investments in Cloud Centers of Excellence, and product suites to match.
One of my long standing thoughts on cloud services is that they often don’t consider the existing infrastructure, from the client site(s) all the way through to the cloud’s edge. I’ve always disliked the assumption that ‘everything’ can go to the cloud, and that the WAN or Internet providers in-between the cloud and its customers can deliver 100% availability. Neither of these can be proven true with any level of certainty – especially third party network uptime. You could argue that, in Australia for example, matters have improved significantly and will probably improve even further with the advent of the National Broadband Networ ...
So I finally got my brand new notebook ... and I love it! Here's the rundown!
I recently moved on from my IT Manager job within the NSW Government, and a top priority for me was to buy a new notebook and desktop computer - the old ones having gone back to my employer. I don't use a desktop myself, but the family does for various purposes, and they've fallen in love with the All-in-one touchscreen style; I'll review that one next. I'm in the habit of using a notebook for everything, and I find I need a fairly high powered specification to meet my many and varied needs, including;
A/V editing and rendering
running multiple virtual machines
and, of course, more general usage
While my work notebooks have grown ever greater in power, they've never totally suited my needs - the closest I'd come was a HP Elitebook, but I've found the HP offerings can be quite inflexible and limiting within my price range. There are plenty of HP notebooks that do suit people, and I feel they're quite good for business use (with a decent SOE), ...
A chance to help someone achieve their dream, and a chance to really help a town rebuild!
Stepping away from a strictly tech related post for a moment ...
One of our members and long-time friends, Heather Samsa - on Twitter as @i_enigma - has been tirelessly and single handedly helping to rebuild the small town of Marysville - which Australians may remember as being utterly devastated by the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009. She created the Marysville Cookbook, a combination of memories and recipes that is truly charming and unique. The initial print run was for the residents of Marysville, but others wanted to purchase it.
Heather started to sell the book, which costs around $20 per copy to produce, for $30. The $10 "profit" goes directly to Marysville through various community ventures, and so far Heather has raised $4,700 single handedly.
That's no small feat by any means! I actually bought the book as a gift for my wife, and it is simply gorgeous. The recipes are delicious, the photos are fantastic, and my wife absolutely loves it. The fact that it m ...
Run around with arms in the air and scream the sky is falling? Or think seriously about security ...
You've probably heard of the DigiNotar certificate authority compromise, which has led to the removal of their CA trust from most browsers (apparently Apple is lagging behind on this), and affecting their customers who rely on them for providing SSL to their websites and other services. Prior to that, it was Comodo, and now we hear of a possible GlobalSign breach. It seems that these may be all from the same person (or people) in all cases.
It's easy to observe a common principle in action with any given security breach. One breach occurs, and the floodgates tend to open. Another good example was the Sony Playstation Network breach. A classic example that still holds to this day is Windows, and even Mac OS X is starting to feel it as their uptake continues to increase.
A successful breach flags a company as a potentially easy target. You'll get a mix of followups - from the original attackers, the security researchers, other "interested" parties, and of course what we always called th ...
So finally, I finish up my rundown of the conference, with my thoughts on how it went. Looking forward to next year!
It always strikes me as to how many awesome people I meet at Tech.Ed - whether for the first time, or finally putting a face to a name.
This year was no different. Between the Microsoft people who live and breathe the event for months in advance, the delegates who are excited to be there, and the random people on the Gold Coast who stop and chat - it's one of the best things about the conference and one of the major reasons I really enjoy going. Networking is a big part of any IT conference, and Microsoft are pretty good at it.
The Fun Factory party at the close of Day 2 was great, and I really enjoyed it a lot more in contrast to last year, but I already touched on that. I used Day 3 to catch up with people and content - enjoyed catching @orinthomas in his Interactive Theatre session for DPM client backups - being an area I've not yet played with to the extent he has, I enjoyed it, and it was a great way to pick up even more tips for future presentations.
I also caught up with a bu ...
or "The Search for Molk"
There is no Tagly badge for "I presented 4 sessions and nobody died".
Another day, another blur. Once again, I remember delivering my sessions, and I most certainly remember the "Fun Factory" party!
As I've progressed with presenting the sessions, I've settled in and built confidence, and they've felt much better overall. I really enjoyed presenting the Exchange and "Making DPM Hum" sessions, and also enjoyed fielding DPM questions from people throughout the day. I'm glad to have had the opportunity, and I really appreciate the DPE team's support for it! I have a lot to take away and use from the experience, and it was a great challenge to take on!
Fastforwarding through the day to the party, it was great! I enjoyed it more than last year, and had a good time playing Star Wars Kinect (what, no George Lucas to kill?), posing with the 501st (with added Hodge), looking around and talking to people. I ddin't actually manage to get everywhere, but I did enjoy what I saw of the trivia!