AuthorJason

Will I ditch Windows 7 for Linux…???

So, after reading an article that I found in eWEEK about Open-Source and Mac Alternatives to Windows 7 I thought I’d try out a few “flavors” and see what’s new. One of the main reasons for this idea is that I’m tired of having my kids come and ask me why windows keep popping up and asking them to install stuff when they are browsing for things online. I even got rid of all the shortcuts to IE8 and only left a shortcut to Firefox (which has helped). I’ve been running Windows 7 since the first beta and I’ve had the RTM version since it was released, but I’m just not that impressed with it. Sure it’s a lot nicer than Windows Vista but there’s really nothing all that new and exciting for the typical end user. So, after reading some favourable reviews about some of the versions of Linux I thought I’d give a few a try. I chose Ubuntu, OpenSUSE and Mandriva for my tests. Why you ask, because they seemed the most “main stream” and the most similar to Windows when it comes to adding/removing programs and managing updates.

Now, I just have to preface this by saying that I’m in no way a Noob when it comes to Linux. I started out with FreeBSD years ago and learned how to setup and manage websites, email, DNS, etc., for hosting websites. I then moved on to Red Hat and I’ve also worked with Debian. Keep in mind that this was mostly for server and not desktop use. I did dabble now and then with the “desktop versions” but I was never really all that impressed with them: they always seemed a little too difficult to get up and running for my tastes at the time. Please don’t get me wrong, I love having a command line and the control that Linux gives me over everything, that’s one reason why I’ve liked Linux for servers so much…and then there’s the hack factor 😉

Anyway, on with my impressions of the different versions. I do have to say that this wasn’t any kind of a”lab” experiment and evaluation to see which one was better. I simply thought I’d give them all a try and this is what I ended up doing…

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Windows 7 Launch…

So my brother sent me the following link, jokingly saying that he was thinking about throwing one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cX4t5-YpHQ

I watched the whole thing and the entire time I was waiting for a punch line or something funny. I didn’t think it was for real. Some quick research with Google seems to prove that this is a legit attempt by Microsoft to promote Windows 7. Who in their right mind is so excited about Windows 7 that they are going to throw a party with Windows 7 as the “honored guest”? This is a new low in their advertising campaign. I thought the “I’m a PC” thing was stretching it. Someone where I work has a baseball cap in their cubicle that says “I’m a PC” on it and every time I see it I want to tape a piece of paper over PC that says “DORK!”.

After having just purchased a new iPod Touch and loving how well the device functions I think I might just finally ditch Windows all together and move to Mac. I’ve always enjoyed watching the keynote addresses from Apple and their marketing is sooooo much better. Apple has their act together when it comes to pitching a product that actually works. My wife has a Mac so I think I’ll start using that.

I remember the Vista launch…or failure to launch. I kind of get the feeling that the Windows 7 launch won’t really make it off the launch platform either. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been using Windows 7 since the beta version and I’ve been pleased with it. Windows 7 is a lot better than Vista if you ask me. And when I say “a lot better” I don’t mean that it adds a bunch of new stuff, I mean that it actually seems to work. I think MS is trying too hard to pitch to a market that has lost faith in them. I also think that the marketing people have been locked up and away from society too long and have geeked out too much on MS that they fail to see how really lame these ads are. It’s kind of funny how such poor advertising alone can make me want to switch to Mac.

Good luck MS. You’re going to need it.

New 32 GB iPod Touch

I’ve had the desire to get an iPhone since I first saw one, but I tried AT&T once and their service was terrible. Since the iPhone first came out there have been a lot of cool improvements and it’s nice to see that Apple appears to listen to it’s consumers (unlike some other companies out there <cough>Microsoft<cough> ;-)). So, with that said and the release of the new iPods, I finally figured I’d try to satisfy my iPhone cravings somewhat by getting a new iPod touch. So far it has done little to satisfy my cravings and has only increased my desire to own an iPhone. The new iPod Touch rocks!!!

Currently I have a Samsung Omnia on Verizon’s network. It’s the fourth Windows Mobile phone I’ve owned and the best of the lot. I have WisBar Advance Desktop (WAD) installed (and a lot of other stuff ) to allow me to customize it so that it’s a little more usable. I really like WAD and I think it does a lot to make the phone more usable. However, even with WAD it’s still somewhat clunky and not very finger friendly. Then along comes Apple.

I don’t remember my first encounter with an iPhone, but my brother got one and I remember playing with it and thought it was pretty cool. I wasn’t sure about the on screen keyboard though. I then had to configure a bunch of them for work and got to play around with them more and really started to like them (especially compared with Blackberries, which are an enterprise nightmare if you ask me). Then along came the iPod Touch. I’ve spent some time on those as well and as I mentioned above I finally broke down and bought one. I’m not disappointed one bit. As a matter of fact, I’ve fallen even more in love with it. Apple just seems to have gotten it “right” (notice I didn’t say perfect 😉 …yet).

One thing that I like a lot more is the capacitive touch screen, as compared to the resistive touch screens on my Windows Mobile phones. Sure it take a little getting used to at first (it’s rather sensitive) but I think it’s much more responsive and works more often. I can type a lot faster on the keyboard of my iPod Touch than I can on my Omnia. I think this has to do with screen size (the Omnia has a really cramped on screen keyboard) and the difference in touch screen technology. Some things that I think are leaps and bounds better on the iPod Touch (and the iPhone) are:

  • Email
  • Web Browsing
  • Picture Browsing
  • Apps

Email looks like it should when you view it. No more text only emails that are hard to read with pictures as attachments. HTML emails render the way they should and it’s wonderful.

Web Browsing is sooooo much better. I thought Opera Mobile on the Omnia was a huge improvement over IE, but Safari on the iPod/iPhone is much, much better. Pages render quicker and more accurately. You can navigate around the page and zoom in and out much better. It’s a night and day difference.

Picture browsing is much faster and more responsive. It just works.

And then there are the Apps. Windows has stuff out there, but you really have to dig. The App store is hands down one of the most alluring things about the iPod/iPhone. There are thousands of Apps available that allow you to do pretty much whatever you want. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for and you’re up for it they have an awesome SDK so you can develop your own App. I admit that I haven’t used the SDK, but I would like to play around with it. I have downloaded the iPhone Application Programming series from iTunes U and will be listening to them on the train on my way to and from work. And that’s another cool thing about Apple, iTunes U. Sure, there’s a lot of that out there that you don’t need Apple for, but one of the things that I think Apple does a really good job of is bringing content to the user. They have centralized a lot in one place with the App store and iTunes so that it’s easy to get what you’re looking for. Windows Mobile has nothing that even comes close.

So, there you have it. I’m sold on why people love the iPhone and iPod Touch so much. It just works and works well. I’ve only had mine for four days and I’m sure there’s a lot more that I have yet to discover. Have I been converted into an Apple fan boy? Only time will tell. 😉 Oh, and just for the record, I’m no Windows fan boy either. 🙂

Fun with VMware vSphere

So lately at work I’ve been tasked with implementing our new VMware vSphere virtualization infrastructure. We’ve been looking forward to getting into the virtualization space for some time now and we were really happy that the decision was made to go with VMware. Not only did we get the software, but I got the hardware that I thought would be necessary to get us started. We ended up purchasing 3 IBM x3650 M2 servers with dual Xeon 5560 procs and 32GB of RAM. Although, I think I short changed the server when it comes to RAM so future servers will have at least 64GB of RAM. The one downside to all of this was that we were hoping to get a NetApp SAN but ended up with a Hitachi USPV, AMS 2500 and ENAS Gateway.

Anyway, the last month or so has been spent downloading and printing out white papers and docs on VMware and NetBackup as I have tried to familiarize myself with everything and how it works. I’ve also had fun setting up VMware’s vCenter Server and playing with clustering, HA and Fault Tolerance. I did run into a couple problems at first with the UEFI of the x3650 M2’s and ESX (see http://communities.vmware.com/thread/213931?start=0&tstart=0 and comments by MCJJJJ). But, after doing research I decided to go with ESXi because it appears that VMware is moving forward with that rather than ESX (see ESXi Chronicles). Nothing major to really hold us up though.

In my testing I’ve been impressed with the functionality and resilience of this product. One of my tests involved running the vCenter Server in a VM and powering off the host that it was running on. A couple minutes later it came back up on the other host in the cluster and chugged right along. Similar tests with VMs were just as successful. It’s nice to run tests and actually have them work as advertised. 🙂 Also, having them clustered makes it really easy to update the hosts for whatever reason.

Fault Tolerance is another cool feature but at this point we really don’t have anything that merits the resource overhead associated with running it or that needs that kind of reliability.

Then there’s the backup solution. We weren’t really sure what to do there but since we already have NetBackup deployed, setting up a VCB (VMware Consolidated Backup) proxy seemed like the best solution for now. More docs and reading for that one. 🙂

Finally I got everything setup and it appears to be working. I am having some problems with the backups though, but this mainly appears to be with snapshotting SQL servers. One is on Windows 2000 Server and the other is on Windows Server 2003. I’m looking into it now but I think it’s because it’s not quiescing the server correctly before it takes a snapshot. I know the best way would probably be to put an agent on the actual guest but that costs more money and since the data is actually getting backed up to disk on that server through SQL jobs I think we’re fairly safe for now…I hope. Like I said, I’m still looking into this. However, as far as backups of the other servers go, it’s working great. I love how much faster it is and that we have the ability to restore individual files from the snapshot if we need to.

Overall, I’m really satisfied with the product and what it does.  It hasn’t been a real pain to get setup either (unlike some of the Microsoft stuff I’ve worked with). It works, and that’s nice.

Avatar’s in WordPress

So a couple weeks ago I was trying to figure out how to add a picture to my profile so it would show up next to my comments. Well, I didn’t try very hard to figure it out and thought I’d look into it another today. Today is that day. I did a little digging and found that it was super easy. WordPress is now integrated with Gravitar and it’s super easy to create a Globally Registered avatar.

To creat one, head over to http://en.gravatar.com/ and sign up for an account. All you need is your email address and a picture. Once you sign up you can upload a picture, crop it after it’s uploaded and ta-da! you now have a Gravatar that appears anywhere you post something on the Internet that supports Gravatars (WordPress is one application that does). You can upload multiple pictues and change it whenever you want. It’s that easy!

So, what are you waiting for?

What a week!

This week started out with the entire family getting the flu but ended up with beautiful weather and other good things.

At work we finally purchased new hardware and software for virtualizing our data center. We’re all excited because we’ve been waiting a while for this and everyone is looking forward to using VMwares new vSphere.

At home it’s getting closer to closing on the house we’re buying and we’re enjoying the great weather. I’m having some fun playing with WordPress and some new themes so hopefully you like the new look.

What to do…

So I’ve got a little time right now and I ended up adding my resume to the blog so there’s one less thing that I’ve got to do with this site. 🙂 Now I think I’m going to take a break and watch a movie since the wife and kids are out and about right now.

Welcome!

So I started playing with WordPress to put up a family blog and then got the idea that it would be fun to throw something together for myself so that I could post the stuff that I enjoy, find helpful for work or whatever I might learn. Who knows, maybe someone might even read what I have. 🙂

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