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10:09AM

The EU Antitrust Browser Lawsuit: It accomplished NOTHING!

Did the EU-mandated browser-selection screen achieve either the stated goal of antitrust or the under-G goal of creating a Microsoft rival?

Wasn’t the ONLY beneficiary of the monumental EU antitrust stupidity a company that gamed the system by #1) paying the early presumptive beneficiary - Firefox, from the Mozilla Foundation - so much money that they fell asleep at the wheel of business, marketing, and innovation until both their market share, and relevance matched the shittiness of their flagship product?

Didn’t the ‘local hero’ princeling-in-waiting - Opera, from Opera SA – the browser that everyone just knew was browser the EU wanted to win out, proceed to incredibly, and spectacularly flame out, even in the mobile space? Seriously, does anyone, even in Sveeedeen (Sweden, to those not in the know), use Opera as their primary or only browser?

What about their operating system restrictions, you ask?

You dare to ask?

Okay, let’s split that question into two: desktop and server OSs.

In server operating systems, the EU’s attempt to hobble Microsoft by pilfering Microsoft IP by way of forcing royalty-free access by putative European server operating system developers has, how can I put this kindly, failed beyond even the worst scorched-earth scenario the morons at the EU office of Competition could have imagined.

No one emerged. Not from the EU.

In fact, the Linux server operating system that was on a growth trajectory has flatlined.

And innovation there still, ahem, follows the leader: Microsoft Windows Server.

In client OSs, well, “The year 2xxx is the Year of The Linux Desktop”.

That tells it all.

Apart from the attained secondary goal of wresting billions of dollars from Microsoft, the EU’s antitrust case produced nothing.

Nothing, was accomplished.

The citizens of the EU gained, well, nothing!

It was much ado about nothing!

Well, apart from the monies scored from Microsoft.

Resultantly, into the Stupidity Hall of Shame are your December 2014 inductees, Karel Van Miert, Mario Monti, Neelie Kroes, and Joaquín Almunia.

Morons, alla them!

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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2:13AM

Ten Sites Are Each Giving Away the EliteDesk Mini 800

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A total of ten websites are currently reviewing the HP EliteDesk Mini 800 and on Tuesday last week, HP expanded the EliteDesk Mini 800 family to include two entry-level models, the EliteDesk Mini 260 and EliteDesk Mini 400. Due to ship shortly, a teaser site with more details can be found here.

As a bones, HP is sponsoring a giveaway of this same cool EliteDesk Mini 800.

Yes, each website gets to design a giveaway tailored to their readership, and give it away to a lucky person as each site sees fit!

The list of giveaway sites is below, and as you can see, we here at AbsolutelyWindows get to kick off 2015 with a giveaway!

Go ahead, visit all ten websites.

You just might win all of them!

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1:33AM

The HP EliteDesk Mini 800 Review

The HP EliteDesk Mini 800 is the hardcover-novel-sized announced here.

In my review configuration, it came with 4GB of DDR3-1600 RAM*, a 120 GB Intel SSD, and no optical drive.

Standard equipment on the Mini 800 are

    • Intel Core i5 vPro
    • (6) USB 3.0 ports, two in front
    • (1) VGA port
    • (2) DisplayPort ports
    • Built-in VESA mounting holes,
    • Built in Ethernet and Wi-Fi.

The first thing that grabs you is the really small size of this true PC.

EDM800-000

Despite that, a comparison of this device with a mainstream desktop reveals that apart from the size, all internal components and capabilities in that larger box are here. Nothing is missing, except for size.

In fact, the added benefit is that the EliteDesk Mini 800 is made for situations where further or any physical expansion is not necessary, or required.

OOBE
Despite the small size of the Mini 800, it came in a sorta largish box – relative to the device.

Opening up the package revealed why: it comes with a standard desktop keyboard and mouse.

In the box were

    1. The HP EliteDesk Mini 800
    2. A USB keyboard
    3. A USB mouse
    4. A Ziploc bag containing some warranty information, Windows 8 and Windows 7 recovery and driver disks – 4 disks total.

I connected the Mini 800 to a DisplayPort monitor, attached the keyboard and mouse to it, and off we went.

Boot up was fast, and after accepting the HP TOS, I made it to the Windows 7 desktop. I connected to the network at MedikLabs, the whole process being trouble free.

In use
I installed Office 2013 and other applications I use in my testing regimen for PC devices, and for the next couple of days, I proceeded to put the Mini 800 through a workout.

As mentioned at the start of this article, I took the Mini 800 on an audition to the Midwest.

It was accompanied by an HP Z1 workstation, HP EliteBook Folio 1040, and the HP Pro x2 612 G1 multi-factor tablet/laptop.

As I tweeted,

In space-constrained environments, the Mini 800 is in its element. It is compact and energy-efficient, requiring only a 65W power supply.

As reviewed, it came with no moving parts, equipped as it was with a solid-state drive.

For this prospect, looking to expand in the West, I presented it for use by knowledge workers in place of the Wyse thin clients currently in use.

The EliteDesk Mini 800 would allow them to not only deliver their current offerings, but also be able to reduce costs – as replacing their limited thin clients. Moreover, the Mini 800 would future-proof their business, allowing them to be able to deliver newer LOB applications, including those that might require local processing.

Suffice it to say, Mini 800 was well received.

Returning to MedikLabs, the Mini 800 was put to test in place of a comparably configured HP desktop PC, the only difference being that the full-size desktop has a 500GB hard disk.

The user performs both billing and some management tasks.

For the week the Mini 800 was being used, there wasn’t a drop-off in productivity. The user did not experience any reduction in a needed tasks, and actually liked the available USB ports right there on her desktop.

I have been using the Mini 800 for a week as well, trying to see if it is adequate for the business tasks I perform at MedikLabs. It has been.

Windows 8.1 on the HP EliteDesk Mini 800
I then upgraded the Mini 800 to Windows 8.1 using the supplied disks.

The upgrade was painless, and all drivers have either been migrated over, or work with Windows 8.1. I applied available patches with any issues.

While awaiting the delivery of the memory upgrade, I have activated Hyper-V in this install of Windows 8.1 – thank you for nothing for making me have to go into the BIOS to initiate that, HP! – and I am now running a low-footprint Windows 10 VM on Mini 800, though performance is sluggish due to the low system RAM.

However, it works.

Since I work primarily in Windows 8x, using Mini 800 with Windows 8 has been easy. Office, Lync, other desktop productivity applications, and most importantly, my LOB applications all work quite well and without fault on Mini 800.

In short, apart from the size, there isn’t anything a regular desktop does it cannot do. It however, does so quietly, and energy-efficiently.

Though I did not mount it to any VESA arm or to the back of any monitor, it has stayed unobtrusively on the desks I where I have installed it.

Conclusions
UntitledIf you have a space-constrained, low-power, or non-upgradeable requirement for a PC, look no further than the HP EliteDesk Mini 800.

While it is diminutively sized, that small size hides a cub with the heart of a full-grown lion: it uses the same desktop components that larger-sized, comparably equipped PCs use. It can also, and very easily, replace thin clients in situations that require it.

All this, in a truly tool less case.

We deem it Business Ready.

EDM800-002

An overhead view of the Mini 800

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Rear view of the Mini 800 with the case removed

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Frontal view

Dislikes
I am sure I am not the only one perplexed by the number of PCs that, while they ship without optical drives, come with optical discs – DVDs – that contain either OS recovery media, or device drivers.

I do understand that most businesses have PCs on hand that contain optical drives, and that Microsoft has that very necessary USB/DVD tool. However, that hided the incongruity here.

There has to be a better solution to this.

I waited for Cyber Monday offers, and then ordered 16GB of RAM to max out the memory on this unit.

Nine other websites have received copies of this device, and are reviewing it.

We have an HP EliteDesk Mini 800 to give away.

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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10:52PM

HP announces the EliteBook Folio 1020 G1 at HP Discover EMEA

The elephant in the room when light, powerful, and durable laptop computers has been the MacBook Air.

Useful, in the limited way that Apple Macs are, that device had grown both real, and illusory powers, that the rumors about it had reached mythical proportions.

I couldn’t shout “Gimmie a break!” loud enough, and openly prayed for someone – for me, that means HP! – to deliver a device that would knock not just that device, but it’s countless proponents off their maybe deserved perch!

Well, I worry no more.

A few seconds ago at their annual HP Discover Barcelona exposition, HP’s Chairman (Chairperson? Chairwoman?) & CEO, Meg Whitman, publicly announced a device I have had for a while now, and that I have been dropping veiled hints about: the new HP EliteBook Folio 1020.

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I believe that this device which has the chops to be the MacBook Air killer, has, like the proverbial eagle, landed.

The HP EliteBook Folio is new, sports the very latest Intel Broadwell CPUs, it is completely without any moving parts.

None whatsoever.

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Look at that gorgeous screenshot!

clip_image006It has a MacBook Air-thrashing touchscreen with a resolution of 2560x1440 pixels, has solid state drives, and ships with a fingerprint reader, a vastly improved keyboard with backlighting, Intel vPro and TPM support.

Additionally, as an EliteBook, it gets to use a discrete and enhanced technical support route within HP.

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It comes with twin charging USB ports, and an integral HDMI port for collaboration.

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Aesthetically, this device also rocks, as the case is made of Mg-Li and reusable carbon fiber.

So Far
In testing, the device is responsive, the new keyboard is superb, and the integrated touchpad is the most comfortable I have used in a very long while.

It is light. Very light, in fact.

Best of all, it runs Microsoft Windows.

For years, the ne plus ultra when it comes to business-class notebooks has been the Apple MacBook Air.

No longer.

This device has the specs, and moxie, to be the New Leader in notebook computers.

In fact, I will put my money where my mouth is, and purchase an Apple MacBook Air to test this device against once a GA copy is laid on me.

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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4:58PM

Shiny New Thing to Review: HP EliteDesk Mini 800 G1

I am in possession of the HP EliteDesk Mini 800 small form factor PC for review here at elitedesk_mini_product2_tcm_245_1545487AbsolutelyWindows.

This is one very compact device.

It is the size of an average hardcover novel, yet it packs in goodies such as a total of 2 DisplayPort ports, 6 USB 3.0 slots, up tp 16GB of RAM, up to 1 TB of spinning media or a 256 GB SSD.

A keyboard and mouse are standard, though you have to spring for a monitor yourself.

elitedesk_mini_product4_tcm_245_1545488This device came to me with Windows 7 Professional, though I understand I have upgrade rights for Windows 8.1. Disks included.

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© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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4:46PM

Shiny New Thing to Review: HP Pro x2 612 G1

I am in possession of the new HP x2 612 G1 hybrid device.

pro x2 612 g1Nominally a 12.5” tablet, this tablet comes with a close-coupled but removable keyboard/cover that contains dual USB 3.0 ports, a DisplayPort, and RJ45 NIC port.

Screen resolution is full HD at 1080p, and the device shipped to me with both 8GB of RAM and 256 GB of solid state memory.

For 1st looks, it is solid.

Oh, and it came with Windows 8.1 installed.

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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11:34PM

Day 2 at Storage Field Day 6: Nexenta Systems

Nexenta Systems

Nexenta Systems is a company I have heard about for a while, since a couple of acquaintances Mike L. and Matt V. went to work for them.

All I knew was that Nexenta had developed a software-defined storage platform that folks liked a lot. B1yUo-oIEAQvxh9

As a result, I was was quite stoked when Nexenta was revealed as a sponsor, and one of the stops, for Storage Field Day 6.

So, who or what, is Nexenta Systems?

Founded in 2005 – they’re an aged company by Silly Valley standards – Nexenta was probably at the vanguard of the software-defined revolution, coming up with a software product that aimed to democratize storage by using their software on commodity hardware.

Going forward, I’ll chug a snifter of Grand Marnier whenever I write the phrase, “commodity hardware”.

I have noticed that Nexenta is well-received in the storage enthusiast community, FWIW.

Starting off our visit is Jill Orhun, VP of Marketing & Strategy led the introductions and welcome to Nexenta.

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She gave a brief bio on the company and their products.

For her, there was this shoutout from the Interwebs:

It was indeed very good to see.

What are their products?

Nexenta’s products can be described as a journey, where your first step is NexentaStor, followed by NexentaConnect. Your third step is NexentaEdge, and your journey concludes with NexentaFusion.

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NexentaStor
NexentaStor is software defined storage technology based on ZFS, and utilizing Nexenta OS, a variant of Linux. It is block and file storage.

Personally, I have to say that all the talk about hardware agnosticism and commodity hardware has me shuddering at the thought of the size of the hardware compatibility lists Nexenta must maintain in order not to have hardware failures incorrectly attributed to them.

Nexenta can install on bare metal or as a VSA (virtual storage appliance) on VMware vSphere or Xen today. Microsoft Hyper-V support is expected soon.

This, is annoying. It means that Logikworx cannot avail ourselves of this product until Hyper-V is supported. Most importantly, I cannot play with it until then.

Jill then gives us a few market statistics: Nexenta has approximately 5500 customers, about evenly split between enterprise and community (free, enthusiast) editions. It has close to an exabyte of licensed customer capacity. Their largest user has over 100 petabytes of storage. No, they didn’t reveal who that customer is.

Nexenta offers unlimited storage per license, but you must pay for Nexenta Connect on a per socket basis.

NexentaConnect
This is Nexenta’s orchestration and deployment layer for their storage management products.

It is tightly integrated with VMware Horizon and Virtual SAN. In VMware Horizon, NexentaConnect leverages a GUI in order to provide automation of storage management functions.

NexentaEdge
Next up is Robert Novak – no, not that Robert Novak, another one! – to talk to us about Nexenta’s new new thing, NexentaEdge.

Robert promises us that NexentaEdge 'will be superior to other things you've seen'

NexentaEdge uses UDP. Yes folks, UDP! Pretty interesting implementation of object storage from Nexenta: "Multicast UDP reliably”. Run Windows Storage Server for file services on vSAN.

While we had marveled earlier on about whiteboarding, Robert went old old school, and brought out a paper board, an easel, and colored crayons!

(In reality, colored markers, but this is my story, right? Thank you!)

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NexentaEdge is like BitTorrent storage.

It is Nexenta’s entry into the object storage space.

It is replicast much like BitTorrent: chunking & tracking with hashing over multicast groups and IPv6. for retrieval.

Using ZFS, NexentaEdge will allow for global dedupe, scale up to several hundred petabytes, allow snapshotting, cloning, and dynamic performance optimization.

It is being engineered to use the next gen server CPU platforms including low-power chips such as ARM and Intel Atom.

Targeted uses are for Swift, S3 and Openstack.

UPDATE: Corrected to reflect that it’s NexentaEdge that uses UDP, not NexentaConnect. Thanks, Enrico Signoretti

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© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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4:40PM

Shiny New Thing to Review: The Epson Perfection v600 Flatbed Photo Scanner

Screenshot (18)I am in possession of a new Epson Perfection v600 flatbed scanner.Screenshot (16)

Recently feeling nostalgic, I decided to post some old photos to an online repository, and found out that they were less than ideal.

Since I have the film negatives – yes, we used film cameras back then, thank you – I decided to obtain a photo scanner with film negative scanning capabilities in order to volunteer my kids into scanning them.

I feel this scanner, despite being a consumer product, will be up to the job.

Screenshot (17)

Let’s do this!

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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7:40AM

The SmallBizWindows Logitech ConferenceCam BCC950 Review

smallbizwindows2The Logitech ConferenceCam BCC950 is a Superstar product.

I just have to let you know how impressed we are with this product at the very start!

It delivers a complete videoconferencing solution at a very affordable price point.

Based on my needs for a complete conference-calling solution, Ann F. at Logitech Business was kind enough to send me a pair of these devices for review.

The Logitech ConferenceCam BCC950oa-glamor-images

The BCC950 is quite full-featured.

It offers full 1080p HD recording, has Carl Zeiss lenses. It came with a remote control, and a built-in USB connector to a PC.

Each conference camera came in a diminutive cardboard box reminiscent of a takeout sandwich box. I applaud Logitech for their green packaging.

Unboxing & OOBE

WP_20141111_008I took out the BCC950, attached the camera extension rod, plugged the power supply into both the device and the mains, and that was it: the BCC950 was recognized, initialized, and made ready by Windows 8.1

No drivers needed, no Windows Update or WSUS hassles.

Review #1: Filming a whiteboard session
So far, all I had done was plug in the BCC950, set it up in a predetermined fixed point, and use it from there.

While filming a series of videos for a project, I acquired the use of a camera grip who thought me something new about the camera: it moves in two dimensions, and zooms. AKA, it pans, tilt, and zoom!

I had a BCC950 unit focused on my face, and the other focused on a nearby whiteboard which I asked my #1 Son to monitor.

To my surprise, he started panning, tilting, and zooming in on the areas of the whiteboard as I spoke. When asked, he show me that he was using the remote control unit, which allows for such movements.

This range of movement, from an inexpensive solution such as the BCC950, is huge!

Review #2: Lync between MedikLabs & LA
After initial config testing between our local sites here in NE CO, I sent one of the BCC950 units to my offices in LA for my EVP to use in our several-times-weekly conversations.

And for situations like that, the BCC950 shone.

Compatible with Lync out of the box, the unit displayed such clarity that I went back to look at the specs for the BCC950 again, and discovered that it has on-board H.264 encoding.

We also used it for a few WebEx meetings – hey, she wanted to use WebEx! – with a potential client. Again, the BCC950 worked very well, from her location to mine.

Review #3: Lync & Skype between Colorado & Accra, Ghana
One of the hats I wear is that of CEO at Blackfriars Capital, which is involved in angel and early-stage investments in indigenous solutions for standard-of-living improvements in West Africa.

As part of that, the BCC950 unit that was formerly in Los Angeles was sent on to Accra, in Ghana, when we held our last funding proposals, since I couldn’t be there in person.

I really cannot say enough about how the clarity of returned images helped me to note the two things I always look for at situations like that: the facial expressions and their body language.

Again, the clarity of the video, thanks to our speedy bandwidth in Ghana, which, shamefully, is so much better than what I get at The Orbiting O’Odua here in Colorado!

Review #4: Video Medical Consultation device
Once the event in Accra was over, the second BCC950 – I’m holding on tightly to the primary unit until I have to return it! – was taken to MedikLabs, where it was substituted for the webcam commonly used by the physician provider there for medical consultations.

Currently, unit #2 is used as a video capture device for some sensory testing being performed at MedikLabs.

Conclusions

 

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In every test, we substituted the existing conference calling solution with a BCC950. In my personal use, it took the place of the very capable Microsoft LifeCam Studio, itself no slouch with full 1080p video recording.

However, even the LifeCam was not capable of holding a torch to the versatility of this product.

I have not even mentioned the crisp audio, and the built-in speakerphone.

For a small team working remotely, this is an unbeatable solution, from a utility, feature, compatibility, and fiscal standpoint.

As a result, we have bestowed upon it both the Business Ready Award of Excellence and the SmallBizWindows Superstar honors.

Relevant SpecsWP_20141111_013

      • Motorized pan, tilt and zoom
      • Integrated full duplex omnidirectional speakerphone with 8-foot range
      • On-board H.264 encoding
      • Full HD 1080p 30fps video calling
      • Camera and speakerphone controls, speakerphone and remote control
      • 10-foot range remote control
      • Pan, tilt and zoom, Volume, Audio mute, Answer/Hang up
      • Carl Zeiss Optics with 9 point auto focus
      • 78-degree field of view
      • 180-degree pan, 55-degree tilt
      • 3.5mm analog headset jack
      • USB 2.0 compliant
      • 8-foot USB cable
      • 8-foot universal power adapter
      • 9-inch extender stem for elevation / eye level camera angle
      • Compatibility: USB video class (camera and H.264), Microsoft Lync, Skype
      • Windows 7, XP, and Mac OS X 10.6 and higher

App Compatibility:

      • Cisco WebEx and other Cisco Video Conferencing applications
      • Citrix Go to Meeting
      • FaceTime
      • Microsoft Lync and Office365
      • Skype

Package Contents

  • ConferenceCam base and attached US cable
  • Extender
  • Webcam head
  • Power cable
  • Quick Start guide

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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11:28PM

Day 2 at Storage Field Day 6: Coho Data

B14CP3MIQAAkPieStarted by a bunch of XenSource, Citrix, and storage industry folks, Coho Data is, according to them,

enabling businesses of all sizes to build their own high performance web-scale storage for their private cloud. Inspired by the highly scalable, commodity-hardware based approaches of public clouds, the company is developing the first flash-tuned scale-out storage architecture designed for private clouds that delivers unparalleled performance and simplified management at public cloud capacity pricing.

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So, what is Coho Data?

Coho Data’s is a software stack that runs, and ships on commodity hardware.

Coho Data targets mid to large enterprises, ISPs, application service providers specifically while open to all comers. Currently VMware-only, Coho Data uses NFS 3 as it’s underpinnings as that is where VMware sales currently are. It tries to resolve problematic VMs, SQL Server, Oracle DB.

"Network pain becomes storage pain a few years later"
says Coho Data's Andy Warfield

Right now, remote asynchronous replication now available in Coho Data’s v2.0 release.

Debuting here at Storage Field Day 6 is…tada…Coho Data v. 2.0

V2.0 starts out with a very cool UI.

We are walked through a demo by Coho Data’s CTO and co-founder, Andy Warfield.

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“..all storage arrays will be hybrid…but they won’t have disks."
Andy Warfield

Utilizing RESTful interfaces and APIs, and leveraging JSON, v2.0 is going to prove quite important in console management and process workflows in the enterprise. In the API walkthrough , Andy showed us the dev console, which had JSON and other graphs integrated into it. We learned how v2.0 uses NVMe data paths submission/completion Qs optimization of multi-cores and NICs. The API API also allows admins to build best-practices for special use cases, or workloads, and especially apps. It also allows for users to perform Big Data analysis and optimization.

With Coho Data v2.0, admins can declutter their NFS namespace trees for workload contention across multicores. Preparing TCP packet headers, and transferring them to other nodes is also a snap.

Andy also laid out a 3rd-party trust model for storage.

Preparing packet header like an envelope' for other micro arrays, only possible if correctly architected from start. says Andy Warfield

As I see it

clip_image002Coho data is a young company that has a fresh take on storage optimization. They are blessed with a management team that has Andrew Warfield as CTO.

Their vision is coherent, and very mindful of the meagre resources their startup has.

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While Andy said quite a few notable quotes, one of the things I best remember from this visit to the Coho offices is the graphic above.

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Thank you to all at Coho Data for their hospitality, and for this excellent LEGO minifig.

Me-minifig

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

00 - Ivy

6:33AM

Today at Storage Field Day 6

What a first day!

Of Storage Field Day 6, that is.

Today, we heard presentations from three companies, Avere Systems of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; StorMagic, coming in all the way from Old Blighty, and Tegile, located right here in Silly Valley.

I shall briefly recap the day.

Avere Systems
Starting out as a NAS optimization system, Avere Systems now bills itself as a ‘cloud enablement and NAS optimization platform’.

Let’s join them in finding out just what that is.

According to Avere, their flagship product

Avere FXT Series Edge filers were the first technology to deliver the benefits of performance tiering and scale-out clustering to any NAS environment. The FXT Series provides NAS optimization by enabling customers to achieve unlimited performance scaling for their applications, global access to their data independent of where the storage is located, and dramatic cost savings in both capital and operating expenses.

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In plain English, Avere delivers a product which is a NAS caching and abstraction layer that creates a single namespace both for local NAS and cloud, including existing, and cloud storage providers. This enables organizations to use the legacy storage constructs in their current environment while leveraging emerging storage options.

It incorporates technology dubbed FlashMove, which makes it possible to seamlessly move data from local NAS to cloud and back again.

Next, Avere Systems announced a software only version of FXT Edge filer, the Virtual FXT appliance, which promises full FXT functionality on EC2 compute cloud.

During this presentation, Avere made a very good point on why Amazon AWS storage is cheap: it is the nut that gets you to spend on their compute and services when you're hooked up to their storage.

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I clearly didn’t bring up the fact that their hometown team had shellacked mine just a couple of days earlier. No sense in either bringing up past defeats or re-living them, right?

StorMagic
From Bristol, in the UK, came StorMagic.

StorMagic produces a software-only solution delivering high-availability at the edge for enterprises.

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In their words,

StorMagic’s SvSAN is a software solution which enables enterprises to eliminate downtime of business critical applications at the enterprise edge. This is achieved by leveraging the existing server storage and presenting it as a virtual SAN.

StorMagic’s typical customer has anywhere between 10 – 10,000 edge sites, where local IT resource is not available, but uptime of applications is a must.

What I glean from that, StorMagic’s flagship product, SvSAN, is at once both software defined storage and a hyper convergence solution for the edge of the enterprise.

These are typically remote sites, with no local IT, and critical LOB apps.

StorMagic fits best for sites such as this:

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Pleasingly, StorMagic is available on Microsoft’s Hyper-v.

By the numbers, StorMagic has 1,226 customers, with over 57 petabytes managed, at ~2,200 customer sites.

Much thanks to Ray Lucchesi (@RayLucchesi) who reminded me of the potential utility of this software appliance to SMBs, and invariably to our remote users in emerging countries.

Resultantly, I shall be keeping a close eye, and probably getting in touch with StorMagic, in the near future.

Tegile Systems
Our final presentation today took place at the Newark offices of Tegile Systems.

It started out with a tour of their engineering datacenter, where my first tweet was a shout out to Jason Covitiz at Schneider/APC.

All racks at Tegile were APC, that’s why!

Next up, we walked to the presentation conference room.

Stepping into the conference room, I saw this: multi-colored chips and guacamole!

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Just what does Tegile do?

Tegile develops and delivers a storage array which could be made up of all flash storage, or a hybrid of flash and spinning disks in a hardware appliance.

According to my friend and fellow delegate Enrico Signoretti @esignoretti, Tegile is a small company that’s doing quite well in a very crowded space.

According to them, Tegile is a

manufacturer of intelligent flash and hybrid storage solutions whose flash storage arrays support a wide range of technologies, including iSCSI, NFS, SMB 3.0/CIFS and Fibre Channel. Tegile all-flash and hybrid storage systems leverage the performance of flash technology while using hard disk drives to lower cost per GB.

Not bad, not bad.

Next, we are presented with this, which fellow delegate Scott Lowe @theotherscottlowe – describes as a perfect representation of the “realities of application storage realities in a way that makes sense:.

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I kinda think he liked it.

Below, is a slide that shows what Tegile believes is their value proposition.

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As I see it, Tegile accelerates performance with a hybrid flash/non-flash devices. It has inline deduplication, compression, zero elimination, thin provisioning, and automatic blockbuster reclamation. (Thanks, Arjan Timmerman @arjantim.)

From what I see, there is a relatively large, and quite impressive bundled software features in with Tegile appliances.

Tegile also has IntelliCare, which is a cloud-based analytics and trouble-shooting, technical support platform for Tegile devices.

Tegile systems can address up to 16 TB of flash cache, without any loss of performance

That’s a quick summary.

More on these vendors subsequent to the event, after I have had more time to delve into their offerings.

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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11:46AM

Gestalt IT SFD6 Day 1 Live Stream

Please follow the live video stream here, starting with Avere Systems.

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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11:16PM

Gestalt IT Storage Field Day 6

I am in San Jose, California for Gestalt IT’s Storage Field Day 6, which, as you can glean from the event name, is the sixth event in the series.

Why does Storage Field Day Matter?

Simple: relevance.

Today, we are faced with two kinds of storage improvements: the first are evolutionary improvements from the legacy storage vendors, sometimes interspaced with some breakthroughs. Secondly, you have the truly revolutionary innovations brought to us by startups.

HP’s 3PAR is an outlier here, as it continually strives to think like a startup, and bring forth truly innovative products.

For that secondary category listed above, where is Gestalt IT’s Tech Field Day series.

The companies presenting at the Storage Field Day series tend to be startups with technologically advanced products that truly move the needle in the real world.

That, folks, is what SFD is about.

And that, is why I’m always ready to participate when invited.

Stay tuned.

More information on Storage Field Day 6 is here.

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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9:52AM

Moving MedikLabs to an All-Azure Cloud

For the past 120 days, the entire consumer computing assets here at The Orbiting O’Odua have been running off the cloud.

A hybrid cloud, that is.

My guinea pigs, namely Wifey, the kids, and everyone else, have been doing most of their computing via an Azure-based hybrid.

They consume AD and other services from Azure, and I have moved them completely to Yammer from SharePoint.

Yes, I made my kids suffer SharePoint. If I have to, why not them?

I still run a couple of on-premises projects, including my validation labs.

Starting tomorrow, I will start a project to gradually move all computing operation at MedikLabs, including both the physician practice, and the healthcare lab we use to test and validate concepts. The soon-to-be-opened cosmetic clinic will be all-cloud from Day One.

Unlike computing at the O’Odua, MedikLabs will be an all-Azure affair.

However, I’m not nuts: I intend to keep a daily local backup. Like I do at The Orbiting O’Odua.

I expect to have all systems validated the by December 22.

My target date for 100% go-live is January 5, 2015.

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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9:50AM

Shiny New Thing to Review: The Fujitsu ScanSnap iX100d Portable Wireless Scanner

When you’re told of a device that purports to be “the world’s lightest and fastest wireless scanner”, you salivate at the prospect of reviewing it.

Well, I salivate no more.

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We are in possession of the brand spankin’ new Fujitsu ScanSnap iX100d.

This is a battery-operated, lightweight, and sleek device.

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I see sooo many potential uses, and revenue opportunities, for this device.

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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9:50AM

Shiny New Thing to Review: Epson WorkForce Pro WF-5690 Multifunction Printer

Epson WorkForce workgroup printer, since my introduction to them by M.A. over at Walt & Co.

As a long time HP printer user, I was skeptical.

However, I tried the device, and pound-for-pound, I mean, dollar-for-dollar, the Epson WorkForce WP-4540 handily beat every inkjet printer I had tried prior to then, and on price + consumables, it soundly thrashed every HP color MFC in production, on the way to being named our SmallBizWindows Printer of the Year for three years running, a distinction it holds even today.

Well, Epson has refreshed their printer line, and the new comparable offering is the Epson WorkForce WF-5690 of which once again, we have been offered the opportunity to review.

I know, I know: we review a lot of stuff so you wouldn’t have to. You’re welcome.

This device, the second all-white device we have here for review.

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My Princess helped me unbox it, and it has been installed.

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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9:44AM

Shiny New Thing to Review: Epson WorkForce Pro WF-5690 Multifunction Printer

Epson WorkForce workgroup printer, since my introduction to them by M.A. over at Walt & Co.

As a long time HP printer user, I was skeptical.

However, I tried the device, and pound-for-pound, I mean, dollar-for-dollar, the Epson WorkForce WP-4540 handily beat every inkjet printer I had tried prior to then, and on price + consumables, it soundly thrashed every HP color MFC in production, on the way to being named our SmallBizWindows Printer of the Year for three years running, a distinction it holds even today.

Well, Epson has refreshed their printer line, and the new comparable offering is the Epson WorkForce WF-5690 of which once again, we have been offered the opportunity to review.

I know, I know: we review a lot of stuff so you wouldn’t have to. You’re welcome.

This device, the second all-white device we have here for review.

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My Princess helped me unbox it, and it has been installed.

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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9:43AM

Shiny New Thing to Review: APC BackUPS Connect Network Battery Backup

APC has come up with a new product that really hits all the necessary buttons.

I mean, could Captain Obvious have created a more needed product?

The product in question is the new APC Network Battery Backup.

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Coming in white – my first-ever white APC product in over twenty years of using their products – the product has three 2-prong A/C power ports and two USB charging ports.

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It is supposed to have an extended life battery, giving up to 4.5 hours of runtime.

I will install it initially at The Orbiting O’Odua, then move it to MedikLabs where I can use it under several loads.

I have a post on how review came to be is here.

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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9:21AM

Shiny New Things to Review: HP RDX External Drive & Twin 2 TB RDX Cartridges

We are – in possession – actually, we have been for the past eight weeks – of an HP RDX external drive and a couple of HP 2 GB RDX cartridges.

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For those not in the know, RDX is HP’s hard disk-based backup and CDP solution.

It is ruggedized out of the box, and with data cartridges offering 2TB of raw storage space, it is poised to become the replacement for HP DATxx digital audio tape backup systems.

It is already the replacement for DAT backup solutions as far as HP is concerned.

We will be using this device as the primary backup solution for a forthcoming Proliant ML-series tower.

Stay tuned.

HP RDX External Drive Solution

  • RDX External Drive
  • Two (2) 2 TB RDX cartridges.
  • USB 3.0 connectivity to host computer.

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I will also be using seven (7) 500 GB RDX cartridges as part of this review.

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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7:15PM

The SmallBizWindows HP ElitePad 1000 G2 Review

Almost coincident with my receiving the HP Pro Tablet 610 G1 here at The Orbiting O’Odua for review, I received the HP EliteBook 1000 G2 for review as well.

I jumped at this.

Why, you may ask?

Well, back in July 2013, I purchased nine Windows 8 tablets for suitability-to-task testing by myself and staff at AbsoultelyWindows, MedikLabs, and at Logikworx for some projects we had in mind.

The tablets were:

    • Acer Iconia Tab
    • Asus ME400c
    • Dell XPS-10
    • HP ElitePad 900
    • Lenovo IdeaPad
    • Lenovo ThinkPad
    • Microsoft Surface RT
    • Microsoft Surface Pro
    • Samsung ATIV

Apart from the [original] Surface Pro, all devices were found wanting, which I reported in the November 2013 edition of my newsletter, The Interlocutor.

At that time, even Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 were found to be unsuitable as a result of their cost.

A year and a device rev later, I wanted to see if HP had moved the sticks.

Let’s do this.

HP ElitePad 1000 G2

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The HP ElitePad 1000 G2 arrived in the usual brownish well-padded HP laptop box. The box also came with a proprietary-port-to-USB dongle, and a power supply.

Additionally, I was sent the HP ElitePad Productivity Jacket, which adds a rigid screen protector, two USB 2.0 ports, a MicroSD card slot, and a keyboard to the unit.

As a surprise, this ElitePad, as with all mobile devices I have tested from HP this year, came with built-in cellular connectivity, in this instance an LTE 4G radio with the required SIM slot.

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I saved the packing box and materials then plugged the system into the mains for a customary 4-hour initial charge

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Powering on and setting up the ElitePad 1000 G2 is just as simple as any other Windows device.

It booted up smoothly and showed Windows 8.1 Start. Since I’d selected my Surface Pro 2 as the device to pull down OneDrive sync settings from, all Metro apps from that device were listed.

I snapped the ElitePad into the Productivity Jacket, and off we went.

I installed the components I consider essential to a Windows tablet experience, namely:

  • Microsoft Office 365 with Lync
  • Remote Desktop (Metro)
  • Windows Phone
  • HP Scan & Capture
  • Microsoft Fresh Paint, Reading List,
  • VLC Player (Metro & Desktop)
  • Fotor, and
  • Games, including both Xbox One & Xbox 360 SmartGlass apps.

Testing regimen
Moreover, the cool thing with working with Ivy Worldwide is that they always assemble a very diverse team of reviewers for product reviews they are in charge of.

As a result, reviewers for this product have gone in all directions: education, consumer, productivity, business, and healthcare. I chose business, with a twist.

For this business-focused device, I wanted to test it in two realms: as a mobile transaction device in a retail environment, and 2) as a mobile design device, also in a retail establishment.

Review #1: Retail Tablet, Medical Clinic, Colorado
Attached to MedikLabs is a fully-functioning physician’s clinic.

Prior to this, new patients would register at the front desk, and wit to fill out registration forms if they hadn’t done so online. For the flu season, transient – that is, patients only coming to that clinic for flu shots – also need to register for audit purposes.

In order to ease constraints placed by space, and not have to increase non-medical staff, I proposed using an AIO as a kiosk for general information, and several tablets for data input for individual registrations. I also proposed the use of a tablet for obtaining payment.

Based on obvious reasons, I tasked myself with closely monitoring this part of the review.

We had decided against Surface Pro for two reasons: #1) an inexplicable unfamiliarity by the targeted group for the Surface Pro’s form factor, and #2 the cost of it.

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We connected the ElitePad to an ID scanner, the credit card scanner, and a receipt printer, all of them stationary devices in the front office.

We had hoped to obtain HP’s ElitePad Retail Solution Jacket, which comprises of a built-in credit card reader, and also a built-in barcode scanner, but it was unavailable to us for the duration of this review.

Over the four weeks the ElitePad was at MedikLabs, it completely helped smooth, and revamp the workflow for staffers and users.

We now know all about Windows tablets, which, as far as I am concerned, are the best of both worlds: mobility and Windows!

Right off the bat, by utilizing an x86 architecture, and running Windows Professional 8.1, all LOB applications in use at MedikLabs worked on ElitePad.

We installed the LOB apps on the device, attached a security/proximity dongle to the device, and let it into the wild of Northern Colorado Healthcare.

For the required tasks, users filled out online registration forms, had a photo of their insurance and ID cards taken, OCR’d, their identities verified, insurance eligibility as of that day verified, and any and all copays determined. In the absence of the Retail Solution Jacket above, all they had to do then was walk over to the front desk to swipe their credit cards for payment.

*Custom patient registration solution developed by GlobalÒjá.

I had initial misgivings using the ElitePad right away since I hadn’t validated the device for reliability. However, it is an HP device, and I have confidence in the brand. As it turned out, my trepidation was unwarranted.

It worked.

Review #2: A Bespoke Men’s Store, Hollywood, California
A longtime client runs a bespoke haberdashery in Hollywood, California.

While his business is smaller than our current norm, he has 20-year business relationship with me. Which means a lot more than business practices. So we still handle his business, which, thankfully, is a low-stresser.

Having yielded to the siren song of the Apple iPad – [let’s call the guy] Tailor – went ahead, and procured an iPad solution that he later found out was not compatible with the other devices he used for his business.

There we came in.

A solution was developed to take advantage of Windows tablets in order to leverage his design and tailoring backend devices.

Being a small business, he is mindful of costs, and wanted a solution that would be both cost-efficient and durable.

We gave him the ElitePad.

His custom-fit tailoring software allows him to obtain target sizes over a range, and project both available designs and/or modifications instantly to the customer. Fabrics, buttons, and styles from his inventory are also available from his backend Proliant server as needed.

He had the ElitePad for several weeks, and he is impressed enough with it as a front-end solution that he is already thinking of revving his software to a new iteration.

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Dislikes
1) The cost of additional devices. The pen costs over $50!
2) Incompatibility with other similar HP devices. The accessories, even the power supply for the ElitePad 1000 G2 is NOT compatible with the virtually identical Pro Tablet 610. 
3) Shortage of on-device expandability.

Conclusions
smallbizwindows1This machine, and its sister device, the HP Pro Tablet 610 (reviewed here) really surprised me.

As I put it earlier, the previous ElitePad 900 didn’t move me.

However, this device is firmly placed at the confluence of functionality, mobility, reliability, and price.

Furthermore, while I didn’t expect, in my quite unscientific tests using a Surface tablet, consumers visiting MedikLabs seemed to prefer this form factor to the Surface Pro.

Battery life is excellent, and at both locations, we availed ourselves of the embedded TPM 1.2 and HP Client Security applications.

While the need never arose, but was comfortable to note, was the fact that the ElitePad enjoys a special level of technical support created especially for the Elite-series of HP devices.

Resultantly, we are bestowing the SmallBizWindows “Business Ready Award of Excellence” on the HP ElitePad 1000 G2.

And just in case you are wondering: no, we haven't installed Windows 10 Technical Preview on the ElitePad 1000 G2. Yet.

Tested with & against:

  • HP Pro Tablet 610 G1
  • Logitech m317 Mouse
  • Logitech t630 Ultrathin Bluetooth Mouse
  • Microsoft Surface Pro 2

 

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Other reviews of the HP ElitePad 1000 G2 are:

Gear Diary looks at all electronic and consumer gear. Bookmark the site.

Geeks Room reviews products for both the local and South American Spanish-speaking markets. Bookmark it also! If you don’t speak Spanish, remember: Microsoft Translator is your friend.

Dave Taylor’s video review is here.

A review by Kathy Schrock is here.

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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