Minor update

I haven’t been updating, like I promised.  Time seems to become more and more scarce the older you get, even if it’s by the day.

I have been working on a few projects, and haven’t done anything too exciting for a while.  I did manage to secure a toll free number, and will be using that for business.

I have also recently acquired a Sprint U727, the USB Novatel EVDO card.  After about 1 month of use, I can say that it’s been a very positive experience.  The convenience offered by the device is unmatched.  I know that WiMAX/XOHM is just around the corner, but I couldn’t wait that long.  I’ll write up a brand new post about that later.

For now, it’s back to more work, doing the taxes, and setting up a site.

I am still alive!

So work has been kicking my butt lately (okok.. I am just making an excuse for being too lazy to log on and write to nobody in particular).  I was quite busy over the past couple of months though, as my consulting projects are beginning to demand more hours, which is a good thing I suppose.  Most clients who have no idea what virtualization is, are quite impressed with what it can offer, and their businesses are greatly benefiting from it.  It’s satisfying to be able to “wow” clients– there hasn’t been anything on the horizon that had this much wow potential in quite a few years.

Speaking of wow, I have been blowing a bit of money on buying some new toys in the meantime to keep myself sane.  First one is a 28″ LCD monitor for my desktop.  1900×1200 @ 28″ is quite a sight to behold– it is almost as tall as my 20″ Dell flipped vertical.  Now I can sit FAR back with my keyboard and still get tons of work done. 🙂

I also picked up a Sony UX-280p last month.  The price was what ultimately got me.  I’ve always found the device to be somewhat interesting, but being able to pick one up for less than $900 really sold me.  I will probably write another separate post on it sometime later.  All I will say now is it’s quite an interesting toy.   With it in my bag, I can now practically work from anywhere– EDGE availability permitting.

I have also built a few more machines for clients over the past 2 months, all taking advantage of Fry’s combos. 🙂   For the record, their ECS mobo/E4500 is the most economical combo over the past 6 months or so– A simple BSEL mod will net you a rock stable 2.93ghz monster that is more than capable of running 4 instances of VMs comfortably, and the best part is the entry fee — approx. $120!

I am going to try and blog more often now that I’ve completed a few projects– but the key word here is “try” 🙂

Overqualified? Sucks to be you

Check out this guy.  There’s something to be said when you are under qualified for a job.  But being overqualified is something else entirely.  Yes, you don’t belong in the job if you can’t do the work, but this guy is obviously not going to be happy at that job either.

This just goes to showcase how behind the company hiring process is.  Considering all the new tools we have available, you would think that the candidate selection and filtering process would get overhauled.  Now there’s another web 2.0 idea for ya.

XP > Vista… is Microsoft in Trouble?

We are seeing many posts in forums and blogs lately about people’s dislike for Vista. In fact, ComputerWorld reported that Microsoft System Builder team had to RTM Windows XP SP2c to replenish the dwindling XP product activation keys. After being submitted to Digg, user feedback on this subject is frequent and passionate, as can be seen here.

But if you look a little deeper at the feedback and the published numbers, you can see a pattern. As vocal as the users are who would prefer to stick with XP, according to Microsoft, they are only a small number. Sure the Vista/XP breakdown shows that MS did not expect such stickiness from XP, but this merely shows that there are plenty of people who dislike Vista, but perfectly willing to stay on XP– the rampant reports of MS defectors are actually only a small subset of the Vista haters, the rest are still sticking with Microsoft.

But is Vista really that foul? I propose that the reason some think XP is better than Vista is that the users are still unfamiliar with the more advanced features introduced in Vista. At the core, Vista is not really all that different than XP. Combing through the user reviews and feedback, it is pretty evident that the majority of the users who dislike Vista boil down their preference over XP because of:

  • Vista’s higher requirement of resources / XP feels peppier
  • UAC that is introduced in Vista.
  • The new UI’s minor deviation from the Classic and XP menus.

So is XP really better than Vista? At this point, maybe. Many users are still unfamiliar with Vista, so sticking with XP if you need to be productive is a good idea. But are the above problems going to become Vista’s Achilles’ Heel? I don’t think so.

These purported shortcomings within Vista can actually all be tweaked, either through obscure menus or via the registry. How easy would it be for Microsoft to “fix” these user complaints? Easy as pie. With a simple update release, they can really introduce a UI picker which allow you to switch Vista’s appearance to completely mimic XP’s. And the resource requirement/speed? Aero can easily be disabled and classic menus be used, but many users prefer the prettier UI and complain about speed. With the speed at which faster hardware is being introduced, I do not believe we will be hearing a lot of complaint about Vista being a dog in speed.

So which OS do I use?

Hmmm that’s probably both. I have recently upgraded my XP Media Center PC to Vista. My personal desktop is a XP/Vista dual boot. I have an old Dell 600m running Ubuntu Studio which stays at home and another laptop that I bring around to work and visit client that is still on XP. Most of the VMs that I am running are Debian/Ubuntu based, but there are some that are based on Redhat/CentOS.

Which OS do I use more? at this point, probably still XP. But that’s because I haven’t rebooted my desktop in 3 months (gotta love Hibernate) and I have 20 windows open in XP. Do I hate using Vista? Not at all. At this stage in the computing life, most of my time is spent in Firefox and PuTTY, and they both run fine on either OS– in fact, they both run fine in Linux. Do I have a preference which one I use these apps in? Nope.

I can see why normal users would prefer to stick with XP at this point, but I believe this is due to the fear of the unknown. Vista can easily be tweaked to conform to most users’ tastes, but it’s easier to complain and stick with the familiar. If push comes to shove, Microsoft can easily tweak Vista for the users with a released update.  As the situation stands however, an XP user or a Vista user, you are still a Microsoft user.  Most bloggers/users now think the desktop game is Vista vs. OSX, but fail to realize that it’s actually Vista+XP vs. OSX vs. 100’s of flavors of Linux, with Vista+XP’s market share at 90+%.  Can Microsoft afford to lose some market share?  Most definitely, and here’s to hope that Leopard and Ubuntu can make the market more competitive, as cheaper and better OS’s all around can only benefit us users.

But Vista becoming Microsoft’s downfall? Only if Microsoft wills it.

iMacs in the enterprise

PC World published a piece by Rafael Ruffolo on corporations considering iMacs.  Here are some quotes:

According to Q2 results from IDC, in the overall U.S. computer market, which includes desktops and notebooks, Apple is now tied for third with competitor Gateway at 5.6 per cent of the total market share.

Tim Bajarin, president at Creative Strategies, said that while Apple lacks the enterprise sales force, servicing capabilities and the expressed interest in the enterprise sector, he does admit that this could change in the future.

My opinion is this:  Yes, this could change in the future, but not in the foreseeable future.   The reasoning is pretty simple.  First of all, Apple is not serious about competing for the enterprise.  Jobs is good at building machines that tug at the heart strings, but he is also VERY good at building devices that tug (pretty hard) at consumers’ purse strings.  Enterprise IT is about providing a pre-determined service level with a controlled budget.  For large enterprises with pre-existing investment in the MS architecture, migrating to the iMac does not make sense financially.

Neither does it make sense architecturally.  Apple currently lacks the will, or a way in providing a robust roadmap in providing a solution that can rival MS’s management features.  This alone would create havoc in a well-managed enterprise environment. Are you aware of any SMS or Forefront equivalent in Apple’s arsenal?

Lastly, such a move does not make sense in a resource management perspective.  Not only will you have to replace a whole slew of machines, you will also need investment in training your legions of support staff.  Sure, there will be some who are already well versed in OSX, but this is by no means the norm.

What I think the article is trying to convey is that the trend of Apple devices sneaking into the enterprise may increase– but that is easy to see.  All personal tech items will eventually sneak into the enterprise– this by no means will only apply to apple products though.  Personal blackberries/smartphones/PDAs will soon creep into the managed environment.  Sure, iPhone and iPods are popular, but their place within the workplace is currently dubious at best.

As the article said, virtualization may be the joker in this whole deck of cards.  Yes, the technology will enable iMacs to act like a PC, but at that stage, what’s the advantage of choosing the iMac + virtualization solution?  So users can also run OSX and Apple software?  Circular reasoning alert– OSX currently needs a separate management strategy to thrive in the enterprise.  Unless an enterprise has a financially justifiable reason to choose Apple (design, art, etc), I would be absolutely stunned to see any kind of inroad being made by Apple through such grassroot approaches.

Great sensational journalism though, PCWorld.  I thoroughly enjoyed the read.  This may just be the fuel that this small fire needs to create a more competitive enterprise IT marketscape.

Dual core vs. Quad core for VMs

Tom’s just posted an article on the benefit of going 4 cores vs. 2 cores.  Interesting read, however since the readership is heavily biased toward gaming, its testing apps were mostly games that have not been written to take advantage of the 2 additional cores.

As far as using quad core for virtualization however, the advantage is obvious.  Of course, performance is more dependent on the virtualization architecture than a few mhz in speed, as can be seen here.  If performance is a concern, then be prepared to throw more money on hardware, or stay with paravirtualized solutions like Xen.  My personal recommendation is OpenVZ / Virtuozzo for best performance as they are OS based solutions.  For manageability though, VMWare currently reigns king.  Stick with VMWare server if you want free, but keep in mind that performance will suffer.

Or I guess you can just throw more hardware at the problem like always.  Thanks, AMD & Intel for the price drops!  Please keep them coming!