just one more geek in a sea of austin techies

December 16, 2013

Google Glass in Austin #GadgetGeek

Austin was Google's third stop on its nationwide Glass tour which aims to get Glass into the hands of more than just a priviledged few, if only for a short period of time.  Google is attempting to reach out and build enthusiasm among a consumer base that still doesn't quite know what to make of the product.

If the event in Austin was any indicator, Google is on the right track:  the event was well-managed with just enough time for every attendee to see live demos, play directly with Glass and ask plenty of questions....

December 1, 2013

Nest Protect: $129 for a 7 Year Lifespan #GadgetGeek

The new Nest Protect is step #2 in Nest's plans to deliver smart, interconnected household devices that are truly consumer-friendly.

The $129 Nest Protect is a super-smart, wifi-enabled smoke and carbon monoxide alarm that creates a wireless network of sensors that can be managed from a computer or smartphone and can even interact with and extend the capabilities of Nest's existing HVAC thermostats.

The problem?
Each and every Nest Protect must be thrown away after seven years...

October 23, 2013

August 29, 2013

Tech Panels and Future Tech #PublicSpeakingGeek

Blogging and speaking on tech panels occasionally gets the attention of vendors and sometimes those vendors ask me to review their products...

Future Tech: Tech Talks Live
This summer I've been fortunate to have been invited as a panelist *twice* for "Tech Talks Live" - a live webcast covering hot topics in SMB IT.  Each episode of TTL focuses on a particular subject and includes a "Future Tech" segment that asks "Where is this technology heading?"  The "Future Tech" segment is my favorite as it provides an opportunity to briefly outline my reasoning (narcissistic, I know) for a particular direction of tech development.  I outlined one "Future Tech" idea in my recent "Smart Will Go Dumb" post.

Future Tech: Product Review
Today I was contacted by a startup that's been working hard at leveraging 3D printing for profit.  The business idea is basic but intriging -- something that's just begging for a company to "get there first" and become entrenched as the segment leader.  The information I have on this company and its business model is interesting but not very detailed -- I've asked the company for specifics on how it intends to handle product customizations (the core of the business and the reason for using 3D printing) and what steps and commitments prosepctive customers will be subjected to.  Is a deposit required to initiaite a design?  How many times can a customer ask for a design change?  What if the customer is not satisfied with the proposed design(s)?  Etc.

I really like the core idea this startup is pursuing but I've decided against mentioning the company's name or product until I know more.  Hopefully the startup will provide sufficient detail for review and, perhaps, even serve as the subject of my next "Future Tech" discussion.

July 30, 2013

VDI via Windows Server? You'll want 2012 R2... #VirtualGeek

If you already have or perhaps have been eyeing a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure implementation via Windows Server then you'll want to give a close look to the upcoming Server 2012 R2.  Go start the free download of R2 Preview here (free license expires on January 15, 2014) while you read my comments below on R2's upcoming VDI goodness...

July 10, 2013

TIP: RPC issues with VirtualBox #VirtualGeek

I recently had occasion to set up Virtual Machine Management features of a Windows server hosted within a VirtualBox-based VM instance. I'd done this in the past but this time I was connecting to target VMs hosted within a Windows failover cluster. I could see the clustered VMs just fine (via the Failover Cluster Manager) but when selecting a specific VM and clicking "Manage virtual machine" my VMM console spat out a "RPC server unavailable" error.

It turns out that VirtualBox does not pass through the needed RPC traffic when the VirtualBox-hosted machine's NIC is in "NAT" mode.  If you encounter this, switching the NIC from the default "NAT" to "Bridged Adapter" may take care of the problem (as it did for me).

June 20, 2013

Smart Will Go Dumb #MobileGeek

I've been fortunate enough to be invited to speak on a number of tech panels the past few years.  The latest is an upcoming session on the state of mobile devices in the workplace.  One of the preparatory questions forwarded to me is "What are your predictions for the future of mobile device management?"  I'm no tech oracle but one item I do believe is coming (and no one is seriously talking about...yet) is the reemergance of dumb terminals in the form of mobile devices.  Here's why that idea makes sense...

June 12, 2013

Nest v2.0: Taking the Plunge #GadgetGeek

This week we replaced our home's 18 year old HVAC with a brand new system.  Since I didn't feel like that was enough expense already I also took the plunge on the $249 Nest thermostat (version 2).  As part of my review of the Nest's current bag of tricks I've revisited some of the "missing features" I called out in a post 8 months ago...

May 15, 2013

Android Studio - get it here! #DroidGeek

Google excited much of its Android developer base with the announcement of Android Studio which replaces Eclipse as Google's recommended Android IDE.  While there were plenty of news outlets touting this announcement most failed to provide info on where to grab a copy of the new IDE -- probably because Android Studio has not been officially released.  You can, however, get a copy of the "early access preview"...

May 7, 2013

TIP: RAM and Virtual Machine Speed #VMGeek

"More is better" as the current pitch line of a certain US cellular carrier says.  For computers the "more" benefits are obvious for things like disk space, memory, CPU cores and network bandwidth.  The same holds true in the virtual world:  virtual PCs like to have more as well.

As a point of interest I recently conducted a very informal speed test between two identical virtual machines.  My only (big) variable?  RAM.  One machine had twice as much RAM as the other.  My goal was to see how much the extra RAM would benefit me during set up of a new virtual machine (even if that machine were destined to be allocated less RAM once it was up and going).  Temporarily adding RAM should translate to a shorter set up time but would it be enough of a difference to bother with?...

April 24, 2013

Soluto: Acer, Apple, Dell top Windows reliability #PCGeek

A new report for PC reliability is now available from Soluto. This ratings system considers factors such as system crashes, non-responsiveness and boot up times to determine the most reliable PCs. Topping Soluto's first list of reliable Windows PCs is Apple (!) closely followed by Acer and Dell.

Plenty will be made of this ratings scheme but a few things stand out...

April 8, 2013

Google Fiber -- What are my chances? #NetworkGeek

Google is bringing its fiber service to Austin and it seems half the city is absolutely delerious about it. The other half, however, isn't really sure why 1Gbps is any more special than the various vowel-free Mbps speeds Austin already has. If you're in the first half then you're anxious to know: When can *I* get it?

The short answer: not very soon.  

The long answer involves demand, population densities and dark fiber...

February 5, 2013

Free up lots of Android memory #PhoneGeek

Whatever your smartphone preference, the truth is that the major smartphone operating systems are all pretty darn good across the board.  I've been toting various modestly-equipped Android devices for the past two years and have been generally pleased except for storage management:  on every device the primary (internal) storage would eventually unexpectedly fill without explanation.  I read manuals, combed forums, migrated apps, moved photos, cleared app data and cache folders all to little avail.  Finally I identified the culprit behind the disappearing storage and discovered it had nothing to do with my devices or with the Android operating system...

January 14, 2013

GOP versus OOP #HumorGeek

Just for fun... 
Politicizing Programming Languages: GOP versus OOP

January 10, 2013

Pebble Watch = Madness #HumorGeek

Along with CES 2013 comes news that the most-funded Kickstarter project to date, the Pebble E-Paper Watch, is nearing its goal of shipping actual product: the new devices are slated to hit the market January 23rd. The Pebble isn't the first wrist-based device to wirelessly link to a smart phone but it does appear to have the best chance for success of all such devices to date.

That said, a number of people take the view that it is a bit too much to expect someone to invest in a watch that tells you what is happening on the phone in your pocket. In that vein of thought ATXGeek presents you with the timeline graphic to the right:
Pebble Watch = Madness

(Click image to view it full size.)

January 7, 2013

Hosted jQuery fallback plan #WebDevGeek

It's estimated that jQuery is employed by over half of all "major" websites. "Major" means highly-trafficked-sites such as NBC, Amazon, Twitter and ESPN. Close to one-in-four of these sites use Google's hosted jQuery library files (a.k.a. Google's "Content Delivery Network" or "CDN") rather than serving local copies of files. There are some great reasons to deliver jQuery via a CDN -- namely a better end-user experience and less server and network loads thanks to CDN content originating from localized source servers and end-user web browser caching of commonly-served files. Employing a CDN, however, introduces an external dependency that can cause sites to seriously malfunction if the CDN becomes unavailable.

The easy solution is to dual-source those critical jQuery files: attempt to load from a CDN and, if that fails, load from a local source instead. The code for this is super-simple and is being used more and more often as websites feel the bite of unexpected CDN service interruptions...