Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Rollins out at Dell

Tell me, who is shocked?

Right!

Rule-of-thumb: if your boss/board has to publicly declare their support for you or your policies, you're a$$ed out.

Well, four months ago, Mickey asserted he still loved Rollins.

What a smarmy kiss of death.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Apple to be bigger than Microsoft in 5 years?

If the doofus who came up with this drivel still has his/her/its job, I want to know why?

Don't 'analysts' have editors/bosses/whatever that they supposedly answer to before the publication of such crap?

Clients, feel free to vote with your collective feet!

Monday, January 29, 2007

AMD Barcelona and the 40% number.

At a briefing at the Windows Vista™ RTM Labs in January, Pat Moorhead of AMD told us to expect great things from AMD, especially in the Quad-core space.

When pressed, he just had a sly smile and asked us to wait.

Why”, we asked?

Great things are in the pipeline.

Your 2-socket, quad-core offering is inelegant”, we said.

He reminded us of the fact that our buy-in into the 2-socket solution also ensures that our investment would be easily upgradeable to the forthcoming (Q2 2007) AMD single-socket chip, for a total of eight, yes, eight cores on a single motherboard, blogged about here.

When I tried to press him about whatever they would announce at the ISSCC, and also tried to goad him by talking up (rival) Intel’s currently shipping quad-core CPU, codenamed Cloverton, he did not take the bait.

However, Pat intimated that we would be impressed by the processor, even more so than we were used to from AMD.

Hmmmmm…….

At the 2007 International CES, which ran subsequent to the Vista RTM Lab, I tried to get someone lower down the foodchain (a booth droid) to divulge info to no avail.

Now we know why!

On Friday, January 26, AMD picked up the gauntlet Intel had thrown down, and gave Intel a boot-lickin' smackdown with it.

AMD is estimating that the next generation mainstream AMD chip, codename Barcelona, will show a performance boost over Cloverton of 40% during a normal load.

Are you kidding me?

40%?

How could they do that?

Well, documents revealed to me disclose the following two diagrams, the first about the architectural design of Barcelona, and the second about its design goals.

AMD Barcelona Architectural Design


AMD Barcelona Design Goals

From the graphic, you can see that the performance delta can run as high as 80% on certain applicarions, per core.

That, folks, is real smokin' performance!

If the rumors are true that Intel's Penryn part is just a 45nm MCM, and not a true native quad-core part, then AMD's Barcelona more and more becomes the yardstick for quad-core CPUs, just as Opteron was.

At SmallBizVista.com, we are looking forward to laying our grubby hands on this beauty very soon.

My report on AMD for the forthcoming replacement season will be released in the next two weeks.

© 2007, John Obeto II for SmallBizVista.com®

Technorati tags: , , , , , ,


Forbes.com on Vista's prospects

Apart from absolutely bonehead articles like this here, Forbes magazine, and Forbes.com continue to deliver accurate business information.

This article, titled Teflon Windows, is indicative of the cred' Forbes has with the financial community and that I have blogged about here and here.

Excerpts:

So what happened? Well, there are now 665 million copies of XP installed worldwide, giving it 74.3% share of the PC installed base. Other versions of Windows account for another 190 million units, or 21.6% share.

The Mac, for all of Apple's snazzy advertising, has less than 1.6% share of the PC installed base. Linux, for all of the millions of column inches devoted to its wondrous abilities (many of those lines by yours truly), holds about 2.5% share.

[...]

Another reason: With 3,000 Microsofties blogging, and Microsoft’s two Internet TV channels drawing a combined 4.5 million viewers each month, the company doesn’t need to rely on the mainstream media as much as it used to.

Most telling though, is the conclusion of the writer:

I’ve been running Vista for a while now on one of my older PCs. This machine doesn’t have enough memory or processor power to run the full-blown Aero interface. So all I’m using is the low-end “Basic” version of Vista.

But I can say this much: The upgrade from XP went off without a hitch. Vista figured out what hardware I had, and automatically set itself to run in Basic mode. It immediately found all of my peripherals. (By contrast, my recent installation of Novell's SLED 10 Linux desktop required a special visit to a Novell engineer, and a few hours of custom hacking on his part.)

Performance on the Vista machine is great--it’s faster than on any of my Macs, .......

In other words, things are fine. I’ve had no headaches on the Vista machine. No crashes, no hang-ups.....

And although I still prefer the Mac, I’m sure that, as my pals at Microsoft would no doubt be very glad to tell me, it doesn’t really matter what I think. Vista is going to be huge, no matter what.

And that is a jaded reviewer with no doubt a jaundiced eye.

However, can you imagine what a regular user would feel.

Ladies and gentlemen:

The WOW! has started!

© 2007, John Obeto II for SmallBizVista.com®

Technorati tags: , , , , , ,


Jim Allchin

Thank you and farewell.

Over the years, anyone with any knowledge of Windows has come to appreciate and respect the way Jim Allchin managed the team.

On the client side, Jim was tasked with preserving and extending the most important, and undoubtedly the most valuable brand in technology, Windows.

And what a remarkable job he has done!

While America slept, and contrary to the beliefs of mainstream media, Jim and his team delivered several updates to Windows since the debut of XP:

  • Windows XP Service Pack 1 & 2
  • Windows XP x64
  • Windows XP Media Center Edition
  • Windows XP Starter Edition
  • Windows XP Tablet PC Edition
  • Windows XP, Ultra-mobile PC edition.

As he rides off into the sunset of his life at Microsoft, Jim Allchin leaves with the knowledge that his indelible mark is upon the next version of Windows, Windows Vista™, and the way most of the world would be computing for the next several years.

Thank you, Jim.

Adiós.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

A Microsoft Micropayments system

In Davos, Bill Gates revealed that Microsoft is developing a micropayments system for the very smallest of purchases.

This is certainly not a new notion to me.

In fact, in a thread in The Hive last Novenber, I postulated, without the benefit of hard data, that Microsoft was developing such a system, and that it would be one of the stealth features of the just-released Zune ecosystem.

The new system will remove most of the current barriers to micropayments, namely the existing, almost-unfair fee structure.

Edited: Robert McLaws has a post on this here.

© 2007, John Obeto II for SmallBizVista.com®

Friday, January 26, 2007

Best console ever?

How do you know a site/blog has jumped the shark?

With a headline like, "The PS3 is the best console ever".

So long.

<delete>

Microsoft's Q2 Earnings Report

Slowdown?

What slowdown?

PC unit sales grew 8 to 10% in that quarter alone.

Or more than the entire Apple Mac sales.

Still, some tossers are lobbing SCUDs at Microsoft

Businessweek: ...the coupon satisfied a lot of people," says Goldman Sachs (GS) analyst Rick Sherlund. Overall, Microsoft's Windows for PC business was up 9%, to $3.7 billion, including the deferred revenue.

Microsoft beat analysts' estimates, even the so-called 'whisper numbers'.

The financial magazines are calling it what it is: a very good quarter.

Yet mainstream and computer industry 'analysts' are calling it a bad quarter!

Thank God these yum-yums do not run Wall Street.

This Unmaking is 3 years too late!

In this article, Forbes covers the "Unmaking of Motorola".

What a fall!

Whoever says this fall was unexpected is a moron!

Period!

My POV has always been, beware the faithful long-serving subordinate who is either told he/she won be ascending to the peak, or is removed from propinquity to total power in the enterprise.

These people, if they are able to worm their way into a chief executive position at another firm, usually proceed with disastrous results to the shareholders.

For them, the ambition for ultimate power makes them a satyr for such power.

However, since they were under the tutelage of a master, such discards are given more credit than they deserve.

When Jeffrey R. Immelt was installed as CEO of General Electric, I screamed at the TV in dismay, stunned as was the rest of the world

Just WTF, I asked, is Immelt.

Now I know.

As a holder of GE, I cannot thank Jack Welch enough for Immelt’s selection.

When Zander was installed at MOT, it was as if The Master has arrived to take Motorola to the Promised Land.

Zander?

Eh, excuse me, but didn’t McNealy, himself in no way a Welch, reject this guy for Jonathan Schwartz? Could he have missed it so badly?

Anyways, since I did not own any of MOT, so I could give a fu*k.

He came in and did the usual: layoffs, spinoffs, Steve Jobs-like platitudes about feel-good-to-Wall Street policies.

Then came the product announcements. And the stock blew up.

All of a sudden, he was seen as a visionary.

Zander?

To an observer, it seemed that all the glory rightfully belonged to Chris Galvin, who had the misfortune of being seen as a scion of the founding family, not as someone who returned Motorola to its engineering and innovative roots.

Think about it: every new product in the mainstay cellular phone line was conceived under Galvin.

Nevertheless, homie rode the wave.

However, you can fool people for so long.

Jim Hightower, former Texas agriculture commissioner, once predicted the fall of Newt using the African baboon proverb, “The higher a baboon climbs up a tree, the easier it is t tell that it has a dirty a$$”, a bushman’s take on the emperor has no clothes.

Zander?

Quick, think about all the Motorola innovations of Zander’s reign?

None?

OK, what about product intros?

Several, OK.

How many were developed by him?

None?

OK.

See what I mean?

Some companies come to mind: Home Depot, Nike, etc..

Even in sports, where you have a coach fired, another comes to take his place, has a superb first year, and then proceeds to ride the team into the ground. Tampa Bay, Notre Dame, come easily to mind, though I’m sure there’s a multitude out there.

Can these morons get a life?

They're at it again!

That group of whinnin' losers, NOISE (Nokia - replacing Novell, Oracle, IBM, Sun Microsystems, Everyone else*) have reportedly pleaded to that idiotic ho' Kroes in the EU about Windows Vista.

Dudes, why don't you compete in the marketplace?

Let's see:

  • Nokia: please, pretty please, with sugar on it and a tiramisu cake, make a cellphone that actually, 'gasp' is desirable. Could you?
  • Oracle: you have all the pieces, right? Create your own OS!
  • IBM: your midlife crisis continues, eh? What are you? Mainframe co? System 36+ company? CPU mfgr? What?
  • Sun: the network isn't the computer after all!
  • Everyone else: Adobe=bloatware. Red Hat, just like the anagram of the stock ticker, RAT. Soon to be squashed by your partner in litigation, Oracle

Shake yourselves.

The market spake then, and is about to speak again.

Losers!

* Adobe, Red Hat, etc.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Vista Content Protection Mess

In an article in the excellent Vista Team Blog, Nick White interviews Dave Marsh, a lead PM for video handling on Vista about the concerns of consumers on Vista's DRM.

Marsh's answers to Nick's questions are illuminating as to the lengths Microsoft has gone as a company to appease content producers/providers while shirking its fiduciary duty to buyers of Windows.

Forgive me, but WIIFM?

The answers by Marsh just reek of the Costco scenario: all our customers must be thieves so we have to re-check their trolleys at the exit.

With all the visible, and not so visible benefits in Vista, all this talk about DRM and DRM benefitting consumers is not just utter nonsense, but is on track to defeat the humongous amount of benefits Vista delivers to users.

For example, as it stands right now, I can take HD content freely broadcast over the airwaves and record it to any medium and media I want. However, I will not be able to do so with Vista.

In what way does this constitute an upgrade?

How is Vista, and by proxy, Microsoft, able to arbitrate between our congressionally mandated and constitutional rights, and the reduction/violations of said rights by content providers?

Why doesn't Microsoft go to the courts in order to get a directed verdict on behalf of consumers with regards to content?

Anybody with the right tools, and the time, can create a shim to bypass the controls in cable- and sat provider-supplied boxes in order to retain control over their legally acquired content. For which I have no doubt that such a workaround will pass judicial muster.

Must we have to go this route?

Microsoft definitely has kowtowed to content providers on this issue to the detriment of consumers and in so doing had completely and utterly failed in its commitment to consumers. Any argument to the contrary is specious at best, and dishonest in the very least.

It is virtually safe to say that this seemingly tiny issue will get a lot of ink as when Vista lands and consumers start banging their heads against that wall

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Windows Vista Family Discount Plan

The NDA has been lifted, so..

Microsoft is allowing, for the first time, a Family & Friends Discount on its flagship operating system, currently Windows Vista.

First disclosed to me under a strict NDA on Saturday, January 6, 2007, at the recently concluded Windows Vista RTM Labs in Las Vegas, the Windows Vista Family Discount (the official name) plan gives purchasers of the retail SKU of Windows Vista Ultimate Edition the right to purchase two licenses of Windows Vista Home Premium Edition for only $49.oo USD each, a savings of 69% over the upgrade price of $159.

Indeed, a 3-computer home currently running Windows XP, upgrading to Windows Vista, will experience a total discount of $220, or 38%, if this plan is utilized.

Props to Microsoft for this as it somewhat mitigates the pain.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Business Desktop Deployment 2007 released!

Talk about the dawn of the Vista era!

Microsoft has announced the gold release of the Microsoft Business Desktop Deployment 2007 tool which facilitates enterprise deployment of Windows-based desktops.

This is a must-have, and even more relevant with Vista deployment looming.

Both x86 and x64 versions are available here.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Not even Alex Bell had the chutzpah!

Not even Alexander Graham Bell had the chutzpah to bestow all those nonsensical platitudes on the first telephone as Steve Jobs did on the iPhone iBrick.

But, worse than Stevie is the media, especially mainstream media and Apple fanboi.

Following the press conference, they all anointed the iBrick as the second coming.

Wow.

Are you freakin' kiddin' me?

Have they no shame?

In one fell swoop, HTC, Motorola, Nokia, Sony Ericcson, etc., etc, are irrelevant?

Can someone perform emergency recto-cranial de-insertion surgery on all these tossers? Please? Pretty please?

People, back away from the ether and regain your senses.

Then revisit your articles/posts/blogs/whatever, and redo the absolutely stupid and hypocritical banalities in the fishwrap/glossy/whatever medium you morons earn your pitiful remuneration.

Sheeez!

© 2007, John Obeto II for SmallBizVista.com®

Thursday, January 11, 2007

EasyBCD

NeoSmart Technologies' EasyBCD, now in version 1.52 is a new addition to our Technology toolbox, and a must-have.

Download it today.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Chris Aarons is a S-T-U-D, Stud!

UPDATED January 25, 2007

During the just-ended 2007 International CES in LAS Vegas, Chris Aarons, of AMD, was very instrumental in getting me access to several contacts both within AMD and other hardware vendors.

It was as a result of the quality of those contacts, and the ease with which Chris made the introductions, that I called him a stud.

Nothin' else.

Guys, back away from the wink-wink innuendos!

OK?

Lunch with Jim Allchin

I and select members of the Vista RTM Lab attendees were invited to a Microsoft Featured Communities-only lunch with Jim Allchin, Group Vice-President of the Client Division at Microsoft.

And got a surprise from him:

A Thank You award for our assistance in beta-testing Vista™

To say that I am overwhelmed by all this is a great understatement!

On behalf of Logikworx, SmallBizVista.com, The SmallBizVista Informer, AbsoluteVista.com, the Interlocutor, and all our clients, I gladly and humbly accepted it.

To crown it all, as Michael Reyes, Sandi Hardmeier, Mauricio Freitas, and I were leaving the restaurant after lunch in order to catch the monorail to the Las Vegas Convention Center, we were fortunate enough to get our rather pedestrian mode of conveyance changed to a limousine. Niiice!

Copyright © 2007, John Obeto II for SmallBizVista.com®

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Vista Lab After Hours

January 7, 2005

Bill Gates (final?) 2007 CES Keynote

We had front-row seats in the auditorium for the speech. Supposedly.

However, since our seats were given away, we repaired to the private viewing room for real-time streaming of the keynote.

Turns out that it was the better option: a more enthusiastic crowd, food, drinks, better sound, huge screen.

While I liked that the speech was on point, and stressed the importance (and inevitability) of Vista™, I was somewhat disappointed by the fact that there wasn’t a live demo of the newly-announced Windows Home Server.

Bill Gates will always be a hero of mine.

© 2007, John Obeto II for SmallBizVista.com®


The Vista RTM Lab: Day II


Session 1: A tour through the 2007 Microsoft Partner Pavilion

2007 International CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center

Several Microsoft Employees

For the second year, Microsoft gave members of the Microsoft Featured Communities a private tour of the Microsoft Partner Pavilion before the opening of CES.

There was an added treat this year at the Microsoft Partner Pavilion: an august visitor!

William H. Gates III

Yes, Bill Gates, aka, Bill G. himself.

Taking a tour around the pavilion, Bill introduced himself to us – as if he needed an introduction to a group of alpha-geeks – and thanked us for our help in the Windows Vista beta process.

Bill Gates still has a lot of passion in him for computing in him, despite his looming retirement from Microsoft. As usual, Bill was very forthcoming about Vista, Microsoft, and the state of computing today. He was very stoked about the relatively smooth transition from 32-bit to 64-bit computing.

Session 2: Toshiba PC Innovations

Masa demonstrated the new Toshiba Portégé R400 and the new near-field access point, the Toshiba Wireless Port Replicator.

Session 3: Windows Live

I cannot say enough about Bruce and his crew. As I have mentioned in the past, the Windows Live team is one of the most energetic teams at Microsoft, even more so since they do not have the baggage of legacy applications.

They are very nimble and have many game-changing ideas. Their only barrier just might be the imposition of an innovation tax by established divisions within Microsoft.

Watch this space for more information as soon as I can release it.

Session 4: Windows Vista Ultimate Extras

Vista Ultimate Extras is Microsoft’s way of continually adding value to the premier SKU of Vista.

At the consumer release of Vista, the following Ultimate Extras would be available:

· Windows Hold ‘Em, a game which is Vista’s take on Texas Hold ‘Em

· Multi-user language packs for Windows, a total of 36. English plus 35 other languages.

An impressive feature of Windows Vista Ultimate Edition is the dynamic way users can utilize the multiuser language pack.

· Windows BitLocker™ Online Secure Key Storage

· Windows DreamScene™ which allows for high-resolution video on the desktop. This video can also be integrated into UI content and the APIs are exposed to partners and developers.

· Digital publications, such as

1) Tips and tricks

2) Blog tips

3) Backstage pass to the world of Windows Ultimate Extras, and many more.

Session 5: AMD Platforms

Pat Moorhead, AMD

Pat on behalf of AMD gave us a briefing about their current desktop performance flagship, the Quad-FX, a two-socket solution that aims to preserve a user’s current investment in CPUS and expand on that by allowing the upgrade to AMD’s single-chip quad-core microprocessors when they are released later in the year.

Session 6: Windows Vista & Photography

Art Wolfe

The internationally-acclaimed photographer and TV host, Art Wolfe, was kind enough to share with us his success with (photographic) content delivery using Windows Vista.

More information on Art Wolfe can be found at his eponymous website, www.artwolfe.com.

Session 7: Office 12

For Office 2007, Microsoft recreated the old user interface replacing it with an entirely new and extremely intuitive UI known as The Ribbon.

(Jensen Harris’ An Office UI Blog details the thought, and processes behind this revolutionary new interface.)

Since this was the umpteenth in a series of briefings, Jared decided to show us the impressive graphics and presentation capabilities built into Office 2007.

Copyright © 2007, John Obeto II for SmallBizVista.com®


Saturday, January 06, 2007

Vista Lab After Hours

January 6, 2005

Tony & Tina’s Wedding

The entire group of Vista RTM Lab Invitees went to see Tony & Tina’s Wedding, a dinner theater play currently showing nightly at the Rio.

I had thought I would be super bored by the event, but the actors roped us in. at times I felt that I was reliving a bizzaro wedding I had been to in the past.

I recommend it.

Also, guess who I met there?

Darryl K. Taft.

After reading his articles for the longest time and listening to his podcast with Mary Jo Foley this past June, I was ready to meet the man.

He turned out to be more than I expected: a very genial, welcoming man.

Also turns out that Darryl had been to Nigeria! And knows about palm wine!

Definitely good to meet him.

Copyright © 2007, John Obeto II for SmallBizVista.com®

The Vista RTM Lab: Day I


Introduction & Welcome

Nick White, Microsoft

This is the largest Vista Lab ever, with a lot more new faces, even a Microsoft MVP from Nigeria.

Nick welcomed and thanked us for being there.

Thanking us for being there and our contributions? When we should be thanking him, Terri, Brandon, Aaron, and by proxy, Microsoft for this opportunity to get ahead in the game!

Loaded sessions, NDA stuff, lots of information to be imparted, food, contacts, yada, yada, yada...

Session 1: 3P Hardware

The Vista hardware logo certification program.

We were informed of several stats about the logo program: over 2000 devices certified for Vista, over 4000 devices have pass the basic certification process – both certified and basic Ready for Vista. There have been submissions by over 200 device manufacturers for the Vista logo program.

It is pleasing to note that Microsoft has taken the initiative to require a certification process for hardware as opposed to only a 'Works with Vista' logo.

However, I see a fault in this approach, also eloquently asked by attendee Ryan Hoffman, "Are you telling us that a Vista-certified device may or may not work with Vista x64?"

The silence was deafening!

As usual, a trait demonstrated by Microserfs was displayed: the presenter actually listened. I must remember to send a follow-up email to see if this issue has been or will be adequately resolved.

Session 2: (A Day In the Life of A Bug) Incorporating Customer Feedback

The Vista beta test program.

Turns out that when Microsoft released stats about the Vista beta, they knew what they were talking about!

For the first time, Microsoft was able to accurately determine just how many Vista™ beta images were actually installed; as opposed to ‘just throwing the beta images over the fence and hoping and praying that they were installed and tested. How beta testers were funneled, chopped, diced, and sorted according to their PIDs.

The presenter took us through the way they were able to accurately note, without PIIs, the total numbers of actual installs of each vista beta, the source of the PIDs, etc.

He also told us how generated feedback was processed and results worked on, with daily shipper meetings, etc.

All in all a very informative session.

Session 3: 3rd Party Software

Speaks basically to why makes Microsoft such a power: the ability to make partners better. Not the cliché, but the real thing.

(Under NDA)

Karsten then demonstrated WPF. A kiosk program currently running in all North Face stores was shown. People, this thing is niiice! The WPF engine and controls makes stuff easy for developers to tap into the power of Vista.

Next, he showed us Expression Blend. This program is so powerful and seemingly easy to use out-of-the-box that it has become my new love.

The ease with which Expression Blend allows both expert developers and mere dabblers to create cannot be adequately described. Indeed, it is a seeing-is-believing program.

It automatically creates XAML code on the back end for designers to use if so desired!

I cannot wait to get back to UniMatrix Zero-1 to try it out.

Session 4: Vista UX

As with all T's sessions, this is under permanent NDA.

Session 5: (Under NDA until January 20)

Copyright © 2007, John Obeto II for SmallBizVista.com®


.


Friday, January 05, 2007

Meet-up in Las Vegas

Just before dinner, I met up informally Michael J Reyes, Terri Stratton, Sandi Hardmeier, Nick White, Robert McLaws, Josh Phillips, Steve Bink, Ryan Hoffman, Mary Jo Foley, Bob Stein, Joel Diamond, and Larry Richman.

Good to see all these folk again.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Island....of Las Vegas, Mon!

On behalf of SmallBizVista.com and AbsoluteVista.com, I am in Las Vegas.

Getting ready for lots of work and possible input overload.

Stay tuned.

HTPC Mini-review #1

On December 26, 2006, I received a Velocity Micro HTPC (Home-Theatre PC) for long-term review courtesy of Microsoft and AMD as part of a reach-out (to bloggers) project.

The system has the following specs:

  • AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000
  • Dual 400GB SATA RAID-1 Hard Drives
  • 2GB DDR2
  • Lightscribe DVD RW
  • AMD Radeon 1950XT 256MB
  • AMD TV Wonder 650 HD Tuner
  • Microsoft Wireless Media Center Keyboard
  • Microsoft Media Center Remote
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate Edition
  • 2007 Microsoft Office Professional System
  • HTCP form factor case.

This mini-review covers the following points: unboxing, OOBE, initial thoughts, and initial test impressions.

UNBOXING
Unboxing the HTPC was rather easy, and somewhat disconcerting.The system was packaged securely in the box, but the flush-fitting cover over the combo floppy drive/multi-format card reader/front-panel input-output ports was ajar, a definite no-no based on the ease with which such covers break in transit. The inclusion of the 3.5” floppy disk drive, an anachronism in today’s computing, seem so incongruously out of place both in today’s computing, and marred, in my opinion, the elegant and impressive facade of the system.

Also included in the shipping package was an accessory box containing the keyboard, remote control unit, the HD antenna, and various cables and connector for the system.

OOBE
The system itself is a sturdy, stylish HTPC-format black metal case with virtually nothing on the fascia letting on that this was a PC.

Inserting it into my music rack, it sat easily with the Carver M1.5t, and looked like an updated version of the original Macintosh CD player.

Included with the system was an OEM version of the Microsoft MCE (Media Center Edition) wireless keyboard and wireless MCE remote control unit.

From all perspectives, this is a well-built and well thought-out unit

Initial test impressions
For this test, I decided to utilize the Vizio 37” LCD monitor in my office for the 10-foot experience of Windows Vista Ultimate.

The Velocity Micro HTPC booted up and, did not recognize the MCE Keyboard.

Say what now?

How much of a cooling of one’s ardor for this system is that?

Undaunted, I tried to get the device initialized and went online to find a fix. Unable to find one, I got in touch with Michael J. Reyes, CEO of The Hardware Geeks, ( he received a demo unit as well, and had installed his a few days before me) who informed me that 64-bit drivers were the culprit.

I installed a Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000; reconfig’d the test area by bringing the HTPC closer to my desk and using a Viewsonic VX2235WM 22” LCD monitor on my desk.

I fired up the HTPC again and it breezed through the POST and went directly to a pre-defined user account.

I immediately started the Device Manager applet to see if there were any other devices needing drivers but total success.

Since Elements of the Logikworx Standard Business Desktop were installed, all I needed after that were Windows Live Mail Desktop, Windows Live Writer, and Adobe Acrobat. While both Windows Live properties are still in beta, they have become an indispensable part of my desktop.

Apart from the keyboard, everything on the computing part of this system works. And works fluidly.

While almost meaningless, the system has a Windows Performance Index of 5.1.

INITIAL GRIPES
Since it was a test of a yet-unreleased product, I sent a preliminary gripe list to Velocity Micro, where they have assured me that my concerns have been forwarded to the right quarters for resolution.

My gripes are:

  1. The unit did not come with a Windows Vista (re-)install DVD, Should anyone have a need to reconfigure the system and reinstall Vista.
  2. The unit did not come with a supplemental driver disk. As a 64-bit box for which a lot of drivers are still unavailable in the wild, your box performs fluidly. However, I want to be able to reconfigure at my leisure.
  3. The unit did not come with an Office 2007 disk
  4. The system, while it came with a series of cables and connectors, left much to be desired as nOObs would undoubtedly have a lot of problems figuring them out.
  5. While system startup is relatively fast,, restart, and shutdown seem to be very, very sloooooooooooow!

Furthermore, packaging could be better, reducing the amount of returns and tech support truck rolls.

Still, for a 64-bit system, the included drivers are a tribute to the thoroughness of Velocity Micro.

INITIAL THOUGHTS
This device is fast, and eerily quiet!

It also has all the markings of a potential home run.

However, it remains to be seen if a) my concerns listed are resolved, and b) if the system is introduced at an attractive price point.

The multimedia capabilities of the HTPC have not been used at all, but that would change as testing continues.

So far, the system has not been put through the paces since I am preparing for the annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas for the 2007 International CES. There is also going to be the Windows Vista™ RTM Labs and assorted other events in Las Vegas which I’ll be blogging about as soon I can.

.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Wesley Autrey, 1st American Hero of 2007

Reading this article about Wesley Autrey's saving of a teenager who had fallen onto the subway tracks just as a train was pulling into the station just sent chills through my spine.

Even with his own two daughters on the tracks!

What a humanity-affirming event for both his daughters and the rescued kid.

In his own words after refusing to be called a hero, “I don’t feel like I did something spectacular; I just saw someone who needed help, I did what I felt was right.”

Mr. Autrey, you are a HERO. In fact you are my first American Hero of 2007.

Please take a bow.

One Love, Bro'.

Off to Las Vegas

Where I'll be blogging about the Vista RTM labs, the 2007 International CES, the Vanishing Point Game, etc. etc.

The Toshiba Tecra M7 Tablet PC has not arrived yet; despite being ordered on the 19th of December - my rant about Toshiba's (supposed) customer service will have to wait for another day - so I have to use a regular laptop. Urgh!

The Zune is locked and loaded: DISCO, 80's pop, and Ragga/SKA riffs. Movies on the device are The Da Vinci Code, The Inside Man, Snakes on a Plane, The devil Wears Prada, Code 1: The Hades Factor, and Lucky # Sleven.

Needless to say that clients who have a requirement to reach me know exactly how to.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Windows Live (insert product name) Update Notifications

One of the things missing from the Windows Live products, especially the impressive Windows Live Writer (WLW), and the equally impressive and excellent Windows Live Mail Desktop (WLMD) client, is the lack of built-in update checking.

The latest version of WLMD, build 8.0.1223, which I downloaded incidentally in the process of reviewing my Velocity Micro HTPC, is so much faster than earlier versions and does not require the turning-off of DEP in order to work correctly without crashing.

Indeed, it has worked for the past four days crashing.

Happy New Year to all

Best wishes.