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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

Blackground Media

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.

1-Front

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

OOBE
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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8:49AM

Meaningfully using Twitter to connect with, preserve, and improve your brand

On June 22, 2014, I posted the tweet below.

This past August, Jason Covitz, Director of Marketing Strategy for Schneider Electric, the parent company of APC – formerly American Power Conversion – reached out to me with the following tweet.

Taking it offline, we got introduced, and as a result, I have one of their new products in The Orbiting O’Odua for a SmallBizWindows review.

The use of Twitter to make introductions and create, extend, or repair relationships is a skill most folks do not possess.

Personally, I would have purchased the APC product regardless. I have been an extremely satisfied, and completely loyal APC user since I procured my first unit, an APS BackUPS-100 back in 1990.

The device worked as advertised, and since then, it has been a 100% attach to every server we place, either as VARs, or for managed users.

Suffice it to say, I am quite impressed that Jason reached out.

Why?

Most marketing and PR folks see Twitter as a medium where they shout out supposedly meaningful platitudes about their wares to an unsuspecting public. They also see it as some sort of popularity metric, trying to acquire untold numbers of followers as a way of proving to themselves that they are doing work.

They are not.

For me, the most helpful corporate Twitter accounts are those that proactively take hold of users, whether in good times or not, and try to solve issues.

They attempt to solve your problems to the best of their empowerment, provide helpful information, and help even potential users navigate pitfalls.

I place Jason, and by proxy, Schneider/APC is that august group.

This group includes, but is not limited to the following:

    • HP @Proliant
    • HP @ConvergedSys
    • @HPNetworking
    • @SouthwestAir
    • @Thermador
    • @Logitech_B2B
    • Microsoft @Office
    • @XboxSupport

Each of the accounts above have responded to even the most mundane of tweets from me, and by so doing, endeared their charges to me.

I salute you all.

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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8:19AM

The SmallBizWindows HP Pro Tablet 610 G1 Review

For the past eight weeks, I have had the new HP Pro Tablet 610 G1 at the Orbiting O’Odua for a SmallBizWindows Review.

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The Pro Tablet 610 is by design, a prosumer device created by HP to address the upper consumer end of Windows tablets.

I wanted to test the Pro Tablet 610 because I was, and I still am, rather displeased with the pricing placed on Microsoft’s Surface Pro line of tablet computers.

The HP Pro Tablet 610 G1
From the specs alone, the Pro Tablet 610 G1 – hereinafter referred to simply as Pro Tablet – looked very good:

  • The latest quad-core Intel Atom processor
  • 10.1: full HD 1080p screen
  • 4 GB RAM
  • 64 GB Storage
  • Windows 8.1 Pro x64

Furthermore, it was priced just south of a comparatively-equipped Surface Pro 2*.

Unboxing & OOBE
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Pro Tablet came in a standard HP laptop box with a quick start guide and a power adapter.

I removed the protective wrappings, plugged the power and gave it my customary four hour charging interval in order to bring it to an adequate setup battery charge level.

I turned it on, and agreed to the standard Microsoft Windows 8x EULA and also to a combined HP device, software and services EULA. I entered my Microsoft Account credentials when prompted to, and upon being authenticated, selected my Surface Pro 2 as the device whose settings I wanted synched over to the Pro Tablet.

Windows setup then provisioned my account and my Metro apps.

Using Pro Tablet 610 G1
For me, work starts and ends with Windows.

The use of Intel’s latest Aton CPUs make this a snappy device.

I installed Microsoft Office 365, but only Outlook, OneNote, Lync, Visio, and Word. I find that using Excel is a bear, and I need larger screens in order to run PowerPoint and Publisher.

For comparative testing, I used the Pro Tablet against both the Surface Pro 2 and the original Surface Pro, several times lugging all three tablet with me.

I used several subjective tests to determine which of the devices snapped to it faster.

In this comparative testing, I finally validated an issue that my #2 Son had brought to me a while back: all screen savers are NOT the same! For some odd reason, he had complained of a generally unresponsive screen on this specific Surface Pro 2, which he used almost exclusively. I felt he was mistaken until I tried it out for this review, and found it lacking, showing up as even more unresponsive than the original Surface Pro. I finally trace it down to the generic screen protector I had purchased for the device. Caveat emptor, people.

The Pro Tablet comes with both a microSD card slot, and a micro-USB connector, for which I had to purchase a USB-to-micro-USB adaptor. A 64 GB microSD card was used to double the storage on the card.

My use of this device centered on what the typical consumer might use it for

Content creation/Work device
As a content-creation device, transcoding video, Word documents, OneNote notebooks, and Visio diagrams, the Pro Tablet functioned just like any other Windows tablet would. It was up to the task, though I wouldn’t use it for video transcoding for any appreciable time. It can do it, however, there’s no reason to.

Video device
Playing video on the Pro Tablet was smooth. I prefer VLC Player for Windows [desktop] to Windows Media Player, and one advantage of running full Windows 8 is that I can install any and all the productivity applications and Metro apps I like.

No exception here. It worked without any jerkiness or need to buffer.

2nd-screen device/Xbox SmartGlass
I like to use any tablet close at hand as a SmartGlass controller for my Xbox devices, and Pro Tablet does the job. No fuss, no muss.

Music player
Utilizing Pro Tablet as a music player with Xbox Music, and Windows Play To is another boon. Point Pro Tablet to Play To device, and off I go, having my music returned on 7.1 reproduction.

News reader/Twitter terminal
A news reader is one of the things that tablets are made for, and I add a Twitter terminal to that. I used the Pro Tablet to a great extent for just those tasks. It is light enough to use as a news reader even overhead in bed, and the Bluetooth keyboard carrying case I obtained for it made tweeting just as easy.

What about battery life? Battery life on the Pro Tablet 610 G1 is excellent. I used it on long trips and had it ready to go and with enough juice to last the day. It also nicely conserves battery life, being able to snap to it after several days of unused, though it does not come close to Surface Pro 2 in that regard.

Conclusions
absolutevistaaward2This is very nicely priced device that bridges two worlds: consumer and business.

The Pro Tablet has all the capabilities one expects of a Windows Tablet, and deliver very good performance to boot. It has a full HD screen, and boasts of both HDMI, USB, and microSD connectivity. It has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, an 8 MP rear camera – in addition to the lower-resolution front camera, and I believe the screen is made of Gorilla Glass for durability.

It was a good, faithful companion, and it never ran out of power leaving me hung out to dry when I needed to use it.

And it runs Windows!

For these reasons, we are bestowing our Business Ready Award on it.

As tested

    1. 10.1” Gorilla Glass
    2. 1080p Full HD display, 16:9
    3. 4GB RAM
    4. 64GB Storage
    5. Quad-core Intel Atom
    6. Micro-USB, MicroSD, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n
    7. Windows 8.1 Pro x64

Finally, the HP Pro Tablet 610 is future-proof, as seen in the image below where I have upgraded the operating system on the device to the just-released-for-beta-testing Microsoft Windows 10 Technical Preview.

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Tested Against

  • Microsoft Surface Pro 2
  • Microsoft Surface Pro

*As I post this, Surface Pro 2 devices are no longer available for purchase.

**I have also had the business-focused HP ElitePad 1000 G2 for the same duration as this Pro Tablet.

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My review of the ElitePad 1000 G2 will follow within the next week.

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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9:58AM

The New HP Workstations, and the HP Workstations DNA

The most basic thing that separates HP Workstations form the herd is simple: the HP Workstation DNA.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

However, the DNA from which HP workstations spring is nothing but simple.

I am reminded of this whenever a new line of CPUs are released by Intel to power professional workstations.

As I am wont to, I waited to see what, if any, supposed rivals to HP will deliver.

At the start of this month, I was at the 2014 HP Global Workstations Launch Event in Fort Collins, Colorado where HP debuted their latest HP Z Workstations.

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As in my past blogs about the Z Workstations launch events, a lot was new.

HP refreshed following mobile and desktop workstations:

HP ZBook 15 & ZBook 17 Mobile Workstations

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The 15” and 17” HP mobile workstations, known respectively as the ZBook 15 and ZBook 18, have new Intel “Haswell” CPUs, and the latest NVIDIA and AMD graphics. Building on their innovation of including Thunderbolt I/O technology, these two devices now include Thunderbolt 2. Storage isn’t neglected, as HP Z Turbo drives – see below – are included, along with a QHD display option. Both mobile workstations now have memory upgradeable to 32 GB of RAM. Three USB 3.0, a USB 2.0, and a DisplayPort port are available. Maximum internal storage is 2.2 TB for the ZBook 15, and 3.2 TB for the ZBook 17.

HP Z440 Workstation

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HP’s Z4xx line has now advanced to the Z440.

A 4U chassis is you want to rack it, the z440 has the new Xeon E5 v3 processor. It can address up to 128 GB of DDR4-2133 ECC Registered SDRAM and a range of drives from SATA to SAS, to SSDs. It also is compatible with the HP Z Turbo PCIe drive.

HP Z640 Workstation

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The Z640 is the latest iteration of the Z6xx series, of which I use the z600s as my everyday system.

This sweet baby has gotten a lot better over the years.

In this latest incarnation, the z640 has the ability to be connected to up to eight displays, and has support for up to 36 total cores spread over the two CPU slots on this workstation.

Accordingly, it has the new Intel Xeon E5 v3 CPUs, support for up to 256 GB of DDR4-2133 RAM*

HP Z840 Workstation

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Just look at this product!

LOOK!

I can’s say enough of the Z8xx workstations.

They are the baddest players in a field where bad just gets you an invite to play.

For the new Z840, the HP Workstation BU led by Jim Zafarana, Jeff Wood, and Z8xx PM Mike Diehl, threw away the old playbook, and raised the bar several notches.

Apart from using the latest-and-greatest Xeon CPUs, this rackable minitower workstation is able to address up to 1 TB of RAM – yes Kansas: 1 terabyte of RAM! – today, and up to 2 TB of RAM once the expected 128 GB DIMMs become available.

Thunderbolt 2 is standard, as are the usual plethora of I/O ports.

And, and liquid cooling has been completely eliminated.

“Are they nuts” you ask?

Exclaimed that, did I as well, my padawans.

Mike Diehl, who is in charge of the Z840, informed me that based on several innovations within the new Z840 chassis, HP has completely obviated the need for liquid. In its stead is the copper-colored air-cooled contraption shown in the photograph above.

Available as the premium cooling which replaces the old liquid cooling option, I understand that this new air-cooled device brings better cooling and thermals to the Z840, especially when used in a max or John Obeto Speciale configurations.

Understandably, I am eager to lay my mitts on this product.

For your benefit, of course.

All systems are available with Microsoft Windows 8.1 Professional x64, and with Windows 7 Professional x64 for enterprise customers who own downgrade rights, or on Microsoft’s academic license.

I understand that it is compatible with some non-Windows operating systems. However, I couldn’t lift an eyebrow to care for those OSs.

HP Z Turbo Drive

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The HP Z Turbo drive is an M.2 PCIe SSD drive which delivers a claimed minimum 2x performance increase compared to SATA SSDs due to its direct connection to the workstation’s PCIe slot.

It is available in 256 GB and 512 GB capacities.

I will be talking about the HP DreamColor & Z Displays professional-class monitors in another post shortly.

*Dependent on 32GB DIMMs

I will be devoting a blog to each of those lines, as well as to the Z Displays.

As I see it
As you can see, HP has a full, and complete line of extremely capable workstations.

For this post, I waited to evaluate the offerings by other workstations OEMs in order to see if their offerings were going to include new-fangled innovations that would set them apart.

That, is the HP workstations DNA.

I have sent the past several weeks doing just that.

I found none.

None whatsoever.

If they are counted upon as an HP workstations competitor, I have looked at, and in a couple of cases – with a national distributor, and a custom OEM, I have been briefed on their products.

All that was/is new, are the new Intel CPUs, and the use of DDR4 DIMMs.

That, however, is NOT innovation.

I came away from my search quite unimpressed.

What sets HP workstations apart from these box-slappers, is the fact that every workstation rev is a journey into delivering a vastly improved product that is made up of state of the art holistic and innovative componentry.

This is a huge difference, and it shows, both in the delivered products, and in the way those products have been marching forward and relentlessly gaining market share.

Sad to say it, but HP Workstations basically don’t have any competition.

More information on HP Workstations can be found here.

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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1:52PM

From the ‘Bad Microsoft’ Files: The Bungled Windows Essentials Installer

Think of this: you are in the process of installing a Microsoft product you personally select and choose to install, and then you get this dialog box:

Screenshot (1)

Your first thought is then what:

a) Say what now?
b) What the f@&k is this nonsense?
c) Gee, Microsoft is so smart. They did not include .NET Framework 3.5 because they would be accused of bundling.

Actually, the first two above could be part of the same thought: incredulity that Microsoft could not design a smart-enough installer that would determine that .NET 3.5 is required, and include that in the install payload when your OS was detected.

My programming days are behind me, but I firmly believe that any code monkey today could come up with a modification to the installer in question, for Windows Essentials, that would i) detect the user’s target OS, ii) determine if the OS has .NET 3.5 installed, and iii) create an ad hoc payload with all necessary EULAs and permissions.

Seriously, how hard could that be?

You would be surprised, but my tweet on the dialog above earned me response #c above.

That assertion is beyond ridiculous.

It is also the reason for this blog post, because the brevity required by the 140-character limit of Twitter requires that I do this in order to put this ridiculousness to bed once and for all!

Microsoft may have been convicted of bundling in the past, but how is that relevant here?

Think about this scenario:

  1. The product in question is Microsoft Essentials.
  2. AFAIK, it is not bundled with any version of Windows. It has to be installed by either the user, or the OEM of the device a user utilizes.
  3. A user goes online, and selects Microsoft Windows Essentials for installation to their PC.
  4. The install app detects what version of Windows and what processor class – x 86 or x64 – that the user has, and asks the user to verify the install payload.
  5. It then starts the user-selected installation, and….everything comes to a screeching halt at the dialog box above.

For the purposes of this blog, we will assume a user install, since OEM installs would have installed the .NET framework.

Where does Microsoft’s bundling come into play?

Now IANAL, but trip this: a user-selected application requires that a Windows component be installed as well. Why couldn’t Microsoft create an installer that slipstreams the required .NET Framework as part of the install package?

Outside of ineptitude, how does this scenario get any connection to Microsoft’s antitrust conviction?

It is a woeful fail, period.

I would like to think that the commenter meant Microsoft’s “bungling” of the installation process.

Because that is the only thing that makes any sense in his tweeted reply.

And of course, the only no-brainer!

Oh yeah, and by the way, the said Windows Essentials installer still offers to install the discontinued Microsoft Messenger application. In September 2014.

Feel free to assume that no end user ever also came up with the reply in #C above!

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12:23PM

The Logitech H570e Stereo USB Headset Review

A couple of the things I have to do, running businesses remotely, are a lot of conference calls, and online whiteboarding. Some of these are within the US, others are transatlantic.

What they all have in common, is that I get to spend quite some time wearing headsets.

Getting the right pair of communications headset is about as easy as looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack.

And, believe me, I have tried to find the perfect unit for me.

I had been using the following devices interchangeably;

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Then I got the Logitech USB Stereo Headset H570e to review.

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This is the Logitech device.

I like to think that I am a simple man.

As a result, I only require a few things from a headset, namely:

  1. Aural fidelity: how does it sound? Is it tinny? Is the background noise overbearing? Can I hear myself think? Is there a persistent high-level, low-level, or infrasonic humming?
  2. Application and system compatibility. Plug-and-play, is the absolute minimum for me. I don’t care if the device slices baguettes. All I want to know is, is it instantly compatible with any PC I use. If it has ‘advanced functionality’ that requires a driver disk, I will DQ the device right there.
  3. Comfort. Since I spend a substantial amount of time wearing headsets every, I have a requirement that the selected device be very comfortable. It just has to be.

As you can see from the photos above, the headsets I use range from the flimsy to the gargantuan.

The heaviest, and surprisingly most comfortable, and with the best audio fidelity was the Microsoft LifeChat 3000. However, as the day went along, it became progressively heavier, and limiting, prompting me to move to any of the other devices.

The Motorola headset was just ungainly. And monaural. Seriously, who does anything in mono these days? I don’t like it at all, and it always had driver issues. Step up your game, Mr. Moto!

The other two devices are used interchangeably with the LifeChat, to relive the weight of Gigantor. However, they both sound tinny, had a lot of wind noise, and many a time, I had to revert to the LifeChat.

The Logitech H570e is very light, is a stereo device, and has a sensitive, yet hum-free microphone.

Out of the box, it integrates into Windows, and works seamlessly with Lync and Skype.smallbizwindows1

Over the period of a month, I have used it daily, and it has not failed me.

I find that I can use it for longer hours than the other devices without feeling the need for a neck massage, or replacing it with any of my stand-by headsets.

Best of all, it is quite inexpensive, retailing for around $49.99.

This device is ready for Prime Time, and as such, received our SmallBizWindows Business Ready Award.

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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3:37PM

Haters Gonna Hate: Microsoft to buy Mojang

ms-001I’m serious: haters ARE gonna hate!

Last night, the Intertubes were agog with news of Microsoft’s rumored purchase of Mojang AB for the incredible 10-figure sum of $2 billion USD.

That, is a lot of money, anyway you slice or dice it.

And, it seems like a lot.

As expected, today, I glanced at a couple of headlines from a few uninformed bipeds supposedly of our species, condemning the rumored deal, calling it outrageously expensive.modloader-for-minecraft-02-700x406

Why, I ask?

Why?

Let’s look at the financials, shall we?

Mojang, the developers of Minecraft, have sold 54 million licenses of their flagship product in the past four years. For actual money.

They reported revenues of about $288 million last year, with income exceeding $120 million, both in US dollars. Moreover, Mojang’s largest expense is the more than $100 per annum paid to Notch Persson for licensing Minecraft.

Finally, Minecraft is a true cross-platform play, something Microsoft needs as it transitions away from a Windows-only focus.

Put together, Minecraft has the potential to be an immediate cash cow for Microsoft.

A venture that spews forth $220 million on $290 million in sales is delivering margins that are basically out of this world. And if Notch is motivated to sell, and to sell to Microsoft, for that matter, then $2 billion for it is almost a steal.

However, some people think that this deal is too costly for Microsoft?

Perchance, wouldn’t it be the same financial bantamweights that lauded the purchases of both What’sApp and Oculus Rift by Facebook?

Remind me, if you will, of the total combined revenues of both those companies?

None?

Okay, let’s not belabor that point.

Would you then remind me of their combined incomes?

Again, do you say “Z-E-R-O”?

Zero is correct.

I know some folks exist just to hate on Microsoft.

I get that.

I don’t understand it, but I get that it’s their raison d'être.

However, in times like this, where the financial facts are evident, I just wish they’d STFU, and stay out of my stream of consciousness.

Haters may want to hate, but they need to let that haterade percolate in their melons.

Not publicly, in this situation.

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7:43AM

Talking about HP RDX Storage

RDX removable storage have always intrigued me.

They are durable, fast, and very well priced, especially against comparable LTO drives.

Unfortunately, RDX storage devices and solutions have not had the same amount of ink or public attention that we have found devoted to other backup solutions from HP.

However, since I was introduced to it on a Proliant ML110 G5 server I received for review* several years ago, RDX potential has been obvious. We subsequently started specifying RDX to our clients on the low end, instead of our old HP DAT backup solutions. We use Ultrium LTO-5 linear tapes for larger backup needs.

One of the baffling things about RDX is the fact that it doesn’t seem to have any traction.

When I read not too long ago that RDX had reached native 2 TB milestone, I knew I had to reach out again to HP to find out what, exactly, was going on with RDX.

While the 500 GB upper capacity was just fine for our smaller client’s branch office needs, I certainly did not want to specify a dead-end technology to our users.

The best part of RDX, and an insurmountable benefit it has over tape of any kind, is random access to data. Moreover, speeds are much faster than most tape solutions deliver.

Talking to HP about RDX
I spoke to Paula Dellabetta, who manages the RDX program for HP.

I found out the following:

RDX is here to stay at HP
HP has phased out the DAT drives, and the most suitable replacement for it is RDX.

There is a renewed focus around RDX
RDX is a healthy, growing business at HP.

With the demise of DAT, there is a renews focus around RDX at HP in order to provide an entry level backup solution.

At the low end, RDX as a DAT replacement, is hard to beat. It is ruggedized out of the box, which optimizes it for reliability. It comes in 320GB, 500, 1TB or the aforementioned 2TB capacities, which allows it to be suitable for a wide range of business sizes and needs.

RDX is a profitable CDP option for VARs
Once the best interest of client users are defined, we come to the next most important benefit of RDX: it is a very profitable attach as a CDP option in solutions delivered by VARs.

In our five short years using, and specifying RDX, I can attest to the tidy returns it provides. It is also a reliable , trouble-free component. It made or conversion from DAT to quite painless, a situation which remains trouble-free even today.

I am pleased to hear that high availability and security organizations in military, oil and gas, and hospitality, are using RDX to great success.

HP is looking at delivering more value around RDX, and is currently running an ongoing tape-to-RDX rebate program

I will be reviewing some drives and cartridges here shortly.

I was introduced to RDX by HP’s Calvin Walker, who managed the reviewer’s program for HP’s ESG business unit. It was an internal unit contained in a Proliant ML110 G5 server. RDX has worked perfectly for us since then. I am very thankful to Mr. Walker for the intro.

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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2:40PM

Shiny New Thing: HP ElitePad 1000 G2

The new HP ElitePad 1000 G2 is here at The Orbiting O’Odua for a review.

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HP ElitePads are HP’s differentiated tablets created specifically for businesses, and some of the solutions are education and retail.

Based on a currently stealth project I have the privilege to be observing, I was intrigued enough that I jumped at the opportunity to review this product.

The ElitePad 1000 G2 came with the followingWP_20140822_12_30_35_Raw

    • A quad core Intel Atom CPU,
    • A full HD 1080p 10.1” display
    • Multi-touch capacitive digitizer
    • 4GB of RAM,
    • 64GB of SSD storage
    • A/b/g/n Wi-Fi
    • Bluetooth

I also received the HP ElitePad Productivity Jacket, which adds a protective case containing a couple of USB ports, and an SD card slot.

My OOBE follows shortly.

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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8:43AM

The AbsolutelyWindows Logitech t630 Ultrathin Mouse Review

Screenshot (147)For the past several weeks, I have been using the Logitech Ultrathin Touch Mouse in place of my usual Tablet device, the Microsoft Wedge Touch mouse.

The new thing among a set of mice, and laptop touch pads for that matter, is multifunction touch.

This is a good development, for it takes advantage of the sometimes cramped spaces we are forced to work with these days.

I like the Wedge Mouse, but quite often I ran out of touch room on the device. Another issue I had with it was that it intermittently lost Bluetooth connections to paired devices.

Thankfully, I got the opportunity to try the Logitech Ultrathin Touch Mouse.

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The Logitech t630 Ultrathin Touch Mouse
The Logitech Ultrathin Touch Mouse is a Bluetooth, candy bar-shaped device that is flatter, broader, and longer that the Microsoft Wedge Mouse.

It comes standard with a built-in rechargeable battery that is charged via an included 4-inch micro-USB cable.

Gestures

Using the Logitech t630 Ultrathin Mouse
I like the feel of this device.

One doesn’t immediately notice it, but the added touch space comes in quite handy when I am using the mouse.

It installed without any issues, and all required drivers were pulled down by my Windows 8.1 Update 1 installation easily.

I have used it without failure on the several devices we have here: the Microsoft Surface series, my Princess’s Dell Venue Pro 8, and the EliteBook Folio 1040 G1.

Making it easier, Logitech has a list of commands available with with this mouse, a list that has come in handy many a time.

Moreover, this is a Bluetooth mouse. I like Bluetooth mice and keyboards or combos*.

Conclusions
This device is a very good mouse, and an excellent value.

It does the job, and you don’t have to worry about running out of battery life as you can charge it from any available USB slot using the micro-USB cable. Or any micro-USB cable, for that matter**.

I like it, and will obtain my own copy this week.

I will give the mouse to a randomly-selected person from a list that sends an email to john.obeto at absolutevista .com with the subject “Logitech Ultrathin Mouse t630 Giveaway” by September 15, 2014. US Residents only.

* Why do I like Bluetooth HIDs? Simple: the hardware boneyard here has quite a few devices that though in good working order, have had their hardware dongles lost. Due to the fact that the devices are hard-coded together, I am left with keyboards and mice that are, for all intents and purposes, useless. That sucks.

** I have to give Logitech major props for using a standard micro-USB slot. This is smart, feature-proof, and user-friendly move.

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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3:57PM

Shiny New Thing: HP Pro Tablet 610 G1

We have received a new HP Pro Tablet 610 G1 for review here at AbsolutelyWindows.ProTablet 610

This is a quad-core Intel Atom-based device with a 10.1” full HD 1080p screen, 4GB of RAM, and 64Gb storage.

I will connect it to Wi-Fi, and see how this goes.

My OOBE and preview post should land in a week

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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3:27PM

HP Discover 2014 Rewind: A Storage CoffeeTalk with David Scott & Siamak Nazari

HP Storage has gone from being ‘The Little Storage Company (unit?) That Could’ to what it is today: a very strong contender for Top 3 in the enterprise storage space, together with market leaders EMC and NetApp.

One of the reasons for this meteoric rise has been HP’s 3PAR line, which has, and is continually delivering what it’s users say is great innovation and unparalleled performance on a regular basis.

The big announcement from HP Storage at this year’s discover was their new ability to deliver an all-flash 3PAR storage array, the HP 3PAR StoreServ 7450,  that is able to be cost-comparable to rival spinning disc-based storage arrays once storage deduplication is factored in.

The following two images show the benefits achievable using the new all-flash 3PAR StoreServ 7450 over an EMC VMAX 10K.

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This is the coolness of the linear scalability of the 3PAR StoreServ 7450 over a ‘comparable Pure Storage solution.

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At this year’s HP Discover Las Vegas, I had the opportunity to be in a Coffee Talk discussion with David Scott, GM of HP Storage, and Siamak Nazari, Chief Software Architect for 3PAR.

My apologies for the lousy audio. I forgot to use a close-in microphone with the interviews. If you have any ideas how I might be able to clean up this audio, please email me at john.obeto@absolutevista.com. Thank you in advance

Thanks to Cal Z. for helping me locate the slides.

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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3:11PM

Shiny New Thing: Logitech USB Headset Stereo H570e

The Logitech USB Stereo H570e is an immediately useful device for me to review.

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Why?

Just look at it. Now, compare it to the device it is replacing, the Microsoft LifeChat LX-3000.

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The heft of the LX-3000 shows, and I should realize a substantial weight, and comfort gain by switching to it.

If it works as advertised, and as announced in this blog post, I see myself purchasing a unit to replace the LifeChat devices in each of my three offices here in the US.

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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2:52PM

HP Discover 2014 Rewind: The Les Stuart Interview

Les Stuart knows network management.

Well, he should, since he is Director, FlexManagement, Global Product Management, HP Networking.

Listen to this interview with Les – also known as “Darklord” - on what he is currently working on, and you immediately realize why HP Networking is Number Two – with a bullet! – in enterprise networking!

My apologies for the lousy audio. I forgot to use a close-in microphone with the interviews. If you have any ideas how I might be able to clean up this audio, please email me at john.obeto@absolutevista.com. Thank you in advance

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