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The conversion of this blog to Word press has replaced the category names with numbers.  I'm slowly getting the names back but it will take some time. Please bear with me during this process.

msmvps.com is down

My mirror blog on msmvps.com is down – as is the rest of the site.  It is being worked on. In the meantime transfer here

Kindle app for Windows 8

I’ve written unfavourably on the Kindle app in the past but I stumbled on an piece of functionality in the app that makes me take a lot of my comments back – search.

If you are in the Kindle app and bring up the charms you can get into search. This means you can search for books within your cloud store – this is especially useful fro me when I have hundreds of books most of which aren’t downloaded onto my Windows device at any one time.

Travelling devices

Disclaimer: The following is based on my personal experiences and needs that may well not match yours. Feel free to disagree with my conclusions. I offer my insights to help others decide on the devices that suit them.

 

I’ve been using a number of devices over the last six months or so and found they all have problems. They have seemed to settle into niches though.

Microsoft Surface RT.

The great thing about this is that it has the Microsoft Office installed. Complete versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.  The email client is reasonable – its the standard Windows 8 mail app. It also shares settings with my other Windows 8 devices. And best of all it has PowerShell installed. PowerShell is constrained and restricted but it is very useful. The fact that it has a full size USB port makes movign files between devices very easy. The stand is a brilliant idea that makes using it on a desk much more comfortable.

The aspect ratio is 16:9 rather than the more common 4:3 which makes using it as a reader a bit awkward. Its also too big to be used comfortably as an e-reader.

Mainly used for meetings, conferences and writing while travelling. I’ve written several chapters of my latest book on it and though the touch keyboard isn’t brilliant it is more than usable.

Number 1 choice for working.

Kindle Fire HD

This is my device of choice if I’m on holiday. Very good size as an e-reader and good email client. The apps are OK but the screen is too small to work on documents except for a quick skim read. The web browser is fast. Linking to my main laptop is easy through a USB cable which makes transferring files simple.

iPad

This is the least useful of all my devices. The Kindle app is flashy with the simulated page turning but it isn’t comfortable to hold for long periods. The fact that you have to link through itunes to move files around is a pain. It is useful reading  technical books due to the screen size. The retina display that’s raved about doesn’t look any better to my eyes than any of the other devices. The email client is so-so. It still reports the number of unread messages incorrectly. The on screen keyboard isn’t very well laid out – especially the odd characters like # where you have to go to a third level. The web browser is so and unresponsive.

 

Apart from being another screen when researching through technical books its not used that much.  Definitely the one I could live without.

 

The best e-reader of all for long distance flights/trains is still my simple Kindle device!

 

I still have a netbook that runs Windows 8. It’s used when I need a full Windows 8 device that’s got a small footprint.

Keep taking the tablets

Tablets seem to be all the rage at the moment. I’ve been working with three different types over the last month or so and thought I’d share my observations. These are base on my personal circumstances and needs – yours may be quite different.

The 3 tablets are in order that I started using them:

  • ipad 3
  • Kindle Fire HD
  • Microsoft Surface

The ipad is currently the iconoclastic tablet and has had masses written about. At the moment its the least useful of the tablets. I’ll explain why in a minute.

The Kindle Fire HD is relatively new and is a heavily customised versions of Android. Its a 7 inch device with a very nice email client that can access multiple accounts and a reasonably fast browser. Its size makes it small enough to use one handed as an e-reader. The other two being 1o inch tablets are really meant for two hands and are not as comfortable to use as e-readers. Being bigger they are more susceptible to glare on the screen. The smaller Kindle screen is easier to angle for glare avoidance.

You can synchronise files using the USB cable.

A simple Kindle is the best option if all you want is an e-reader – its small enough to slip in a pocket. Ideal for travelling. If you want a bit more the Fire is not much bigger and not that much more expensive.

The Surface is the youngest of the tablets. It runs the RT version of Windows 8 plus full versions of the Office products – Word, Excel & PowerPoint. Windows 8 enables the synchronisation of settings across multiple machines – I have a laptop, netbook and tablet running Windows 8 and a number of settings including IE favourites automatically sync. It also looks like wireless network settings sync!

The Surface cover folds down to give a keyboard. Its not something that I would want to use all day every day but with a touchpad mouse its more than adequate – I recently prepared a 2000 word article on it with no problems. The flip out stand on the back of the Surface props the screen at a good angle for use.

A full size USB port is a huge bonus for the Surface. It gives me options for mobile working – SkyDrive or USB. Covers all eventualities.

The Surface also includes PowerShell v3.  Just the console not ISE. Its a constrained version of PowerShell but it there.

By contrast the ipad has a usable app that functions as a mobile white board. That’s all I’ve really found useful.

Much is made of the numbers of apps available in the various app stores but if you actually look at them you have to wonder – how many versions of Sudoko do you really need?

Between the Kindle Fire and the Surface I have my leisure and business mobile needs met. The ipad doesn’t bring anything new to the table – that I need and so doesn’t get used.

As I said at the beginning these are my observations based on my needs and experiences. Yours may well be different.

Kindle Fire quirk

Quick report of an oddity that I discovered with the Kindle Fire.  If you copy an ebook in mobi format onto the Fire you can read it with no problem.  If you select remove from device when you have finished reading the book it disappears from the list on books on the device. The file isn’t deleted though – you need to do that manually.

I’ve been using the Fire for a few weeks now and its an excellent travelling machine.

Colossus

I went to Bletchley Park today - http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk/

One of the exhibits there is the Colossus machine – regarded as the World’s first computer. Imagine a machine that has 2 rows of electronics each 5 racks wide by 1 rack high.  All of this delivers the computing power of a pentium 2 chip and consumes 7.5KW of electricity.

The machine uses 1500 valves (some still from the original 1943 machine) and gives off a tremendous amount of heat

If you are in the area I recommend a visit – its quite staggering to compare where we are today with this first machine

1 millionth hit

This blog had its 1 millionth hit yesterday.  Thank you to everyone who takes the time to read my posts

The future of Windows administration?

This article

http://www.windowsnetworking.com/articles_tutorials/Seven-steps-Windows-Server-administrators-should-consider.html

suggests 7 things that Windows admins should be looking at:

  1. IPv6
  2. Investigate the cloud
  3. Review licenses
  4. Leverage virtualisation
  5. Pilot VDI
  6. Learn PowerShell
  7. Learn the new DR options

I thought this was an interesting view of the world so decided to add my comments.

Items 3 and 4 are good. Keeping compliant without overspending benefits your organisation tremendously. Virtualise as much as you can is also a good suggestion.

Number 1 – IPv6 – not convinced that its needed yet. Sure later versions of Windows get cranky if we turn it off but at the moment it looks after it self.  There is a mass of technology that still expects IPv4 make sure you are on top of that before worrying about IPv6

Number 2 – the cloud -  at the moment we are in the over hype phase. The cloud will solve all your problems we are told. Recent outages at Amazon, Google and Microsoft have been down played but they would be disastrous if you relied on those services. The cloud is one option to supply services. It may not be the best for you. Investigate but keep an open mind.

Number 5 – VDI – now this one I totally disagree with. All VDI does is transfer a problem from desktop machines to virtual machines. The problem is machine builds and application compatibility. It also costs a lot in terms of hardware. VDI looks to me like a technology to create more hardware sales as we aren’t buying as many servers because we virtualised.

Number 6 – PowerShell – Should be number 1 on the list. If you haven’t started learning it – Why not?  You will need to understand PowerShell if you want to be successful. There will always be room for point and click junior admins but the interesting stuff will be done by the people who can automate

Number 7 – DR – always a good idea but it goes beyond disk based backup such as DPM.

Having criticised the list what would be me top 7 things:

  1. Ensure license compliance – it costs too much not too
    • control the life cycle of OS and applications
  2. Learn PowerShell
  3. Virtualise
  4. Get your high availability, backup/recovery & DR strategies in place. These three are different!
  5. keep up to date with changes in your major OS and application stacks
  6. Investigate application delivery – application virtualisation, Terminal Services/Citrix/VDI
  7. Investigate the cloud

This made me smile

The notice about browser age popped up today.  Look what I’m running.  Do they know something we don’t?

 

browser