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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.


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


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


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


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


Just look at this product!


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


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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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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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;


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


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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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?


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?


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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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



Shiny New Thing: HP ElitePad 1000 G2

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


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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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.


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.


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*.

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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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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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.


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


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 Thank you in advance

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

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited



Shiny New Thing: Logitech USB Headset Stereo H570e

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



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


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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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 Thank you in advance

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Shiny New Thing: Logitech Wireless Performance Combo MX800

Screenshot (149)

Positioned at the very top of Logitech’s business keyboard offerings, the Wireless Performance Combo MX800 looks like a good rival to the Microsoft Wireless Desktop 7000.

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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HP Discover 2014 Rewind: The Paul Muller Freestyle

If I had to give an award for the sartorial master at HP Discover Las Vegas 2014, it would be to HP’s Paul Muller.

I was able to get him to do an AbsolutelyWindows Freestyle about, what else, haute couture!

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 Thank you in advance

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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Shiny New Thing: Logitech Wireless Desktop MK710


The Logitech Wireless Desktop MK710 features a cushioned hand rest, and a sculpted mouse.

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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HP Discover 2014 Rewind: The Paul Muller Interview

Thanks to the Apple iPhone, mobility has gone from being all-consumer to becoming a must-have in enterprises.

However, most vendors are just paying lip service to enterprise mobility, repurposing their tired offerings as new products for the enterprise mobility age.

In addition to developing BYOD solutions, HP is also looking at new ways to deliver innovations in the space.

After a very illuminating CoffeeTalk at Discover 2014, I buttonholed HP’s Paul Muller, and interviewed him.

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 Thank you in advance

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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Shiny New Thing: Logitech Performance Mouse MX


I have always loved the now-discontinued Microsoft Explorer mice, for their aesthetics and their utility.

Unfortunately, while much better, the new Microsoft mice don’t give me the same sort of feel.

I hope the Performance Mouse MX helps me remember.

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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HP Discover 2014 Rewind: The AbsolutelyWindows Freestyle with Helen Tang

Helen Tang heads up the software defined data initiative at HP.

And in her spare time, she’s an actress, starring as Lt. Uhura in a community production of Star Trek.

The Diva kindly graced us with an AbsolutelyWindows Freestyle in Las Vegas.

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 comment here or email me at Thank you in advance

Thanks, Helen!

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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Shiny New Thing: Logitech Wireless Wave Combo MK550


The Logitech Wireless Wave Combo MK550 is an entry level wireless keyboard and mouse combo, aka desktop.

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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HP Discover 2014 Rewind: The Helen Tang Interview

Helen Tang heads up the software defined data initiative at HP.

We caught up with her at HP Discover Vegas 2014.

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 Thank you in advance

The AbsolutelyWindows Software-Defined Series

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited



Shiny New Thing: Logitech CC3000e ConferenceCam


The Logitech CC3000e ConferenceCam looks really cool, and I must confess, I am really looking forward to using it with our “Big Money” rainmaker conference calls.

© 2002 – 2014, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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