Computing Hardware 2015

Samsung ATIV Book 9 PlusIt seems like I change operating systems like most people change shoes. I’ll go from Windows to various versions of linux on a monthly basis. About 18 months ago, I wrote a post about my computing hardware for 2014. It’s now May of 2015 instead of November of 2013 and I figured its time to update that hardware list again.

The big changes are in my main laptop for personal use, and my mobile phone. I dislike calling it a phone, but that’s what most people still call their mobile devices, so… what the heck, right?

On the laptop front, I’ve gone with a Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus. This model has an Intel Broadwell Core i7, 256GB SSD, and a 3200×1800 touch display. It’s the nicest laptop I’ve ever bought, and it should last for quite some time. Especially considering that my old Sony Vaio is still a viable machine to this day. I’ve updated that Core i3 laptop with a 128GB SSD and have Ubuntu running on that.

Google Nexus 6 UnboxingTowards the end of last year I upgraded my mobile device from a Google Nexus 5 to a Google Nexus 6. Yes, yes, it is big. However, that was what I was looking for in any case. The great thing about these larger format phones (that is, larger than 5″ screens) is that they start to replace smaller tablet devices and thereby reduce the number of devices a person may want to carry. Now, I don’t make a habit of carrying my tablet at the same time as my laptop, but it has happened on rare occasions in the past. Moreover, having that larger screen allows me to see more of a document, email, web page, or video, etc… It makes the device even more usable and functional for me.

HP Chromebook 11Along with the new laptop and mobile, I’m still using my HP Chromebook 11 that I wrote about last time, my Google Nexus 7 (2013) and that Sony Vaio with Ubuntu that I mentioned as well. Each has their uses that highlight their strengths. Sometimes it really is nice to sit back with the Nexus 7 and read a book. That Chromebook is great to toss in a saddlebag of my motorcycle and head out for coffee. Other times, I need the open flexibility of linux, and of course the all around utility and stability of Windows 10 (I’m a geek, so yes I’m a Windows Insider) to do just about everything else.

So there we are, I’m pretty happy with the new Samsung laptop. It’s my first true Ultrabook, and has a lot more power than I expected.

The interesting thing that’s happening at the same time, is the transformation that Microsoft has been going through. Windows 10, even at this pre-release stage, is impressive in its stability and functionality from a long time user standpoint. In addition, Office 365 and the amount of space included for OneDrive makes using Microsoft software services not only viable, but fun again. That is a huge change from even a year ago and makes up a number of reasons why I’m sticking with Windows this time around.

Microsoft Windows Must Die

Microsoft WindowsNow, before you drop down to the comments to blast me as a Microsoft basher, and that I have my head up my ass or that I don’t have a clue about how the world runs on Windows… hear me out.

PC Dominance Is So 1995

The problem with Microsoft today, and historically, is that they base much of their business around Windows. This worked really well over the last 30 years as the PC gained dominance in computing. Our current enterprise Information Technology industry’s growth and success is a testament to that.

In fact, my entire career of 25+ years in IT is built around and upon Microsoft technologies and how they’re implemented in large and small businesses. I depend on the quality and success of those products to make a living. Moreover, I like them – Windows included.

While Windows is still a strong OS, and will continue to be a significant player in the server and personal device space for years to come, the future is not about the local operating systems we use.  It’s about what your “PC” can do.

As we continue down the path of cloud computing, Microsoft has huge potential to be so many things for many people. Their online productivity services are strong, and will likely outpace Google’s in the long run. As many of us are already invested in Microsoft Office, it’s not much of a leap to follow the progression to Office 365 and beyond.

Microsoft Everywhere

What Microsoft needs to do is to embrace every platform. From Linux to Mac to Windows. From BlackBerry, to iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Firefox OS, and Ubuntu Touch. If there is an emerging or popular platform, Microsoft must be there. Period.

This includes browsers too, Firefox, Safari, Chrome and Opera need to be first class citizens with IE as they develop and roll out all their products.  Microsoft must be pervasive. Development tools as well need to adhere and participate in non-Microsoft standards. Why can’t there be a variant of Visual Studio that focuses on LAMP development, or Ruby, or many other new technologies instead of just C++, C#, etc…

Two Paths

I also see to divergent paths for Microsoft.  One continues to be their “bread & butter” enterprise products and services.  The other is consumer-focused, with an emphasis on providing secure services (without being arrogant like they are today with the ‘Scroogled’ campaign). With Microsoft’s background in enterprise, and meeting many strict compliance requirements for business, this can be an asset to many consumers that worry greatly about online security.

In any case, I do see a bright future for Microsoft, but only if they put less emphasis on the PC and more on providing the services that our growing data hungry, instant satisfaction world demands. The stake in the sand for Windows was important 25 years ago… not as much today.

My Technical Bent

... computer demo center! By x-ray delta one

… computer demo center! By x-ray delta one

It’s been awhile since I really delved into my technical side. So much so that it’s affected what I’ve written about for a couple of years. What this means is that I’ve been keeping myself from sharing a large chunk of life and work. Considering I’ve moved back to a technology-centric working role, this has kept me from telling more than a few good stories.

So its time to set the social media aspect aside for a while and bring back something that I’ve been missing for quite some time. Hey, I’m an Information Technology guy at heart, and while social media has brought a lot of learning and sharing to my life these last 6 or 8 years, the fact is that I like technology. A lot… just ask my wife.

With this updated focus in mind, I do have a fun project coming up in the next few weeks that I’ll be sharing here as well as a few forums. I’ll have a separate post up later describing the project in detail, but it’s simply about bringing Android-specific functionality to my daily driver.

I’m looking forward to sharing more about technology and what I do as an Information Technology architect & engineer. There’s a lot of fun things there that most of us in IT simply don’t talk about often. Some of it we can’t, of course, for various reasons like client confidentiality, or compliance-specific scenarios. But that’s mostly about actual data. Anyway, what I like to talk about is the capabilities of the technology, and the experiences implementing it.

Until next time! Cheers.

Photo Credits:

…computer demo center! by x-ray delta one

A lonely iMac waits for WALL·E to collect him (on top of home page) by tracilawson

The 32GB Sweet Spot

Transformer Prime by John Biehler

‘Transformer Prime’ by John Biehler

I’ve been thinking about mobile devices and storage space recently.  After a great conversation over lunch with @CloudScout last week, I concluded that 32GB is probably the perfect amount of storage space for mobile devices today.

Here’s my thinking:

16GB is just too small, it can’t hold the data we need.  Add a couple dozen tracks, a few hundred pics, and you’re just about there.

64GB on the other hand is overkill.  It’s the initial size for an SSD for a full size computer or laptop.  It does give you room to grow, but by the time you fill it up, you’ll be upgrading devices anyway.  On top of that, you’re going to pay a premium for that storage.

I consider myself to use a bit less local storage than the average person on my mobile devices.  I’m also a techy geek, so I tend to buy devices with more storage than I could possibly need.

In the past 18 months, the two tablets and the two phones I’ve had range wildly on storage.  The Google Nexus One I had only had an 8GB microSD card, and I was constantly around 2GB free.  When I replaced that phone, with the HTC Sensation 4G, I made sure to add a 32GB microSD – which I’ve not used over 18GB of data yet.

My Apple iPad 2 that I bought upon release in 2011 had 16GB, and, while I was always worried of running out of space, I never used more than 12GB.  When I replaced the iPad 2 with the Asus Transformer Prime, opted for the 64GB unit.  Again, I’ve yet to top 20GB of data used so far.

What I see here from my own experiences is that we tend to worry too much about running out of space.  However that limits us from really reaching the full potential of the devices we carry.  Also, in the last 18 months, online storage and the amount of time our mobile devices are constantly connected to the cloud has increased dramatically.

Currently, I can count up to 125GB of free storage space that I have at my disposal between my two mobile devices.  Along with that, the automatic uploads of pics to Google+ (Apple has a similar feature) allows me to not have to think about uploading or syncing pics.   In addition, my Asus tablet has a great feature (Asus bundled software) that allows selected folders to automatically be synced to the cloud.

It’s these new services and features that will reduce our dependence on local storage for mobile devices and allow us to have a much more seamless experience across computing devices.  Bring Google Drive/Docs and Microsoft Skydrive/Office Online into the mix, and you’re quickly covering much of what we need for storage AND productivity.

So if you’re trying to decide between the 16/32/64GB versions of a product, pick the middle option.  32GB is likely to fit your needs quite well.

Happiness CDXIX

Maybe our technology focused modern world needs a few days offline to refocus on life.

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