Going for 3TB in WHS v1

22 04 2011

So Windows Home Server 2011 is out, but it is missing a major component that I really liked about WHS (and what made WHS unique) – Drive Extender.

Basically, in WHS v1, you could add a drive to your machine, and WHS would add it automatically to its “storage pool”. From there, my files would get distributed and duplicated across the new drive. That means in case of failure, my files are fairly safe, and Drive Extender removed most of the concerns about sizing drives properly when you do a “hardware RAID” type solution on regular hardware storage options.

In Windows Home Server 2011, they removed Drive Extender. But I wrote about why I don’t like that already.

So, I bought an HP MediaSmart Home Server just after they decided to pull the plug on them. (Why? Because they’re nice boxes and 64 bit – so if I decide to jump on WHS 2011, I can do it manually.) But, I wanted to add a big big drive, and WHS v1 doesn’t like anything above 2TB.

Here’s how you can fix it…

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A gift or two for your Windows Phone 7

17 12 2010

As a follow-on to my last post, I thought I would quickly note a couple things that would help anyone looking for a last-minute gadget gift for their Windows Phone 7 owner.

The list isn’t really long, but these are things I have bought and am using or have just started using (so I can’t say I have a billion hours clocked on them yet).  But, I don’t get any of this stuff for free, so I can’t just go buy anything else if this stuff doesn’t make me 100% happy… all I can do is update this post later with further thoughts.

A plug for the arts

First, as a request – if you order anything from Amazon.com (which I link to here), I would humbly request that you click-through a non-profit theatre company’s Amazon Associates link to help give them a 4% boost from your purchase.  It costs you nothing, and helps them produce amazing theatre.

Read about UponTheseBoards.org

So, CTRL-click their Amazon link and start shopping (or shop, come back here, and click, then finish I guess).

Items to consider

Cradling your phone:

Previously I said that the USB port location is NOT standard in any of the WP7 hardware.  So it is very unlikely that a standard phone cradle will exist.  And it is probably unlikely that a GPS enhancing cradle will come out anytime soon (like the ones for the iPhone).

So I bought this one, and it works very well.  It’s cheap, works great, and fits all sorts of phones securely while giving you charging access (although that part’s clumsy).

Satechi SCR-31

Listening to your phone:

I have owned a lot of headsets.  I was going to buy one of the new Motorola’s (HX1) back when they introduced the “new” bone conduction, noise cancellation, wind reduction models.  But, it was too expensive, and only Verizon or Sprint carried it for a while.  So, a few friends got it and liked it.  I waited.  And now a different version of it came out.

I have sideburns (though am not a hipster), so I always wonder how much that gets in the way of conversations on some headsets.  This headset seems to work over my glasses, pairs to 2 phones, has the same technology (v2.0), and has a more secure over-the-ear fit.  And, it has the same charging micro-USB charging tip as the Kindle, our phone, etc.

I haven’t clocked much talk time with it, but it feels way better than previous headsets.  So, the fit is better, and the pairing etc. was as you’d expect.  The lady in the headset is informative (and seems to get along with the lady in the phone) and I like the physical on/off switch.  Voice command works great, and it has a physical mute switch.  Nice.

Motorola Oasis Headset

Retractable cable:

These things are expensive, fragile, and of course, your mileage may vary (YMMV). But, ZipLinq make the stoutest of these types of cables.  And, they know it. So, put some of that college fund aside if you want one.

Retractable cable

Windows Live Domains:

Ha… you wonder why this is in here?

Do you host your email somewhere else?  Would you like 25GB of your own SkyDrive?  How about some good SPAM filtering?  Or decent Web Mail?  How about a personal domain name and a place to sync and store your Windows Phone 7 stuff?  Or personal Live Mesh and remote desktop support?

Well, it’s pretty easy, but way beyond the scope of this article and would involve changing your LiveID on your phone… however, it all might be worth it.

Head over to http://domains.live.com and see about taking your email away from your current domain host (just your email mind you), and you can set up your email, get a SkyDrive, a photo site, your own Messenger domain, etc.  All for free.

If your domain name has some questionable word in it, you may have to appeal to the gods for a dispensation.  My domain name “CumulusLight.com”, a photography site, seemed to be “dirty” to them.  Warning: there are no dirty pictures there. Sorry.

But, once you get in there, you can offer your family membership to your domain and have a shared (and private) Calendar, photos etc.

Plus, now that Windows Live Mail is all ActiveSync, and there’s an Outlook Connector, the iPhone (in iOS 4.x) supports multiple ActiveSync accounts, and of course Windows Live Mail and Windows Phone 7 support Live Mail… well, it makes things very nice.

Apple Mail (on the Mac itself) is way stupid.  So, if you have Mac users, please consider buying mBox for them.  It’s $20 and you’ll save many many headaches.  Plus, there’s Live Mesh for the Mac, and you’ll be able to sync big files around to each other.

One warning: you CAN upload all your email from another account there into your new Live Mail domain.  4 things to know:

  1. You will be making a DNS change, so update your old account settings with the IP address of your old mail server, test that, and then move your mail domain to Live Domains.
  2. Live Mail has a DAILY UPLOAD LIMIT on it.  I’m not sure if it is quantity or size of the uploaded messages.  However, if you drag 1,500 messages into your new Live Mail account, expect the process to finish in 3 days.  Not because it takes that long, but because of the limit.  Live Mail and the Outlook Connect with give you ZERO FEEDBACK about what’s going on.  To me, that’s a huge mistake.  Don’t panic though.  Just wait.
  3. During a time of a big upload like that, you will NOT receive email in Live Mail or in Oulook on that account.  But you will get email.  You’ll have to use Web mail.  So leave Live Mail open and the computer on.  Or just do it in batches of 100 or 200 a day.
  4. Changes you make on Live Domains happen pretty quick, but do need to propagate like DNS changes – so expect to wait a couple hours for full functionality.  A few things you can do let you “Refresh” to see changes.  Sometimes you’ll see something changed, and refresh the page, and see that it hasn’t changed… this is because it is propagating through the server farm.  Be patient.

OK.  I promised this would be short.  My wrists haven’t recovered from the last post yet.

Enjoy some holiday cheer and travel safely!  And, if you’d like to support this blog somehow, consider buying a print from CumulusLight (I have Coupon Authority – so contact about special offers)!





I still love my Windows Phone 7 after 30 days

15 12 2010

I admit that I like shiny things.  I also admit that I don’t like the iPhone very much.  I also have looked forward to owning this phone for quite some time.  So I knew what I was getting into.

However, as a v1.0 product, I also knew that there would be some warts.  After all, it’s v1.0.  But, did Microsoft learn from Windows Mobile 6.x?  Could it match Steve’s app phone thing and Google’s mobile thing?

A short bit of background

The only phones I haven’t used for over a few months WebOs and Symbian phones.  They both looked alright, but I wasn’t in the position to ditch what I had to try them out.

However, I have used Windows Mobile since the very first incarnation in 2003.  Wow, that was not great.  Though, I did like the Motorola clamshell form factor at the time.  It also did so much vs. the other phones, it was OK to overlook the warts.  But, WM2003 basically remained the same until WM6.5.

The phone I stuck with, and modded the heck out of, for 2 years was the HTC Kaiser / TyTn II / AT&T Tilt.  It got flashed with every new Windows Mobile 6.x that saw the light of day.

And then, some wonderful people at XDA Developers put together a few builds of Android for testing.  And while that phone’s CPU wasn’t the strongest, I did use Android 1.x and 2.x for several months as my primary phone OS.

As my Tilt’s battery just couldn’t hack it anymore, and new batteries were basically dead on arrival, a good friend of mine loaned me his iPhone 3G for use.  So, I used that in iOS 3.x and 4.0, 4.1, and finally 4.2.1 for several months.

So, have I used enough of the available market to be informed?  I hope so.

What I like about Windows Phone 7

It’s different.  And not just arbitrarily or just because it’s shiny and new.  It’s different in that someone thought about how to use a phone to do their job, and took a good stab at it.

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Why removing “Drive Extender” from the next Windows Home Server is bad product management

29 11 2010

Yeah, I should have posted at least once more this year.  But I guess it takes something of epic frustration to prod me into re-prioritizing my schedule right now.  Removing a technology called “Drive Extender” from Windows Home Server is just the right move to get my fingers on the keyboard again.

Let me explain why…

Through a series of weird coincidences, I happened upon the necessity to consider purchasing a “real” Windows Home Server box from an OEM.  My current “Frankenstein’s Monster” box I assembled many years ago (after all, Frankenstein was the doctor, not the monster) is probably a liability.  I keep feeding it drives, and it keeps running.

For all of you out there who have businesses of some sort, the end of 2010 means the last opportunity to spend some money on capital assets (i.e. shiny toys) and write them off.  Because everyone is soooo scared that taxes might change in 2011, CPA’s are telling people to spend money this year as though a great plague is upon us and the only way to slake its blood lust is to feed it cash.

It’s like written permission

So when you get this letter from your CPA and you look for toys to buy, you start thinking about all the non-sexy stuff that you worry about at 2AM when you can’t sleep.  My Windows Home Server is one of those items.

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An SXGA+ article to get me back into the game

25 05 2010

Yup… I should have been posting for the past few months.  Hopefully I can get back into the habit!

I don’t need a new laptop yet.  Yet… however, the screen size trend in industry really bothers me.  Wider is not better if we’re sacrificing vertical pixels!  Yet, every manufacturer is basically training us to accept low vertical pixel density by hiding behind the “HD” moniker.

Today, you will be hard pressed to find anything functional with a vertical pixel count of 800 or more.  I’m not talking about netbooks (although I have one).  I mean most new laptops in general.

We’re just taking a step backward to the 90’s… 1024×768 (VGA) is really close to 800 pixels tall!

Now, I’ve been a user of Tablet PC’s for the past 5 or 6 years now and I find them incredibly useful.  I do mainly 3 things with my tablet:

  1. Draw User Experience Prototype Sketches
  2. Take down whiteboard sketches of architectures and the usual “ideation” work therein
  3. Retouch, enhance, and correct photos I take (portraits especially)

I find the tablet’s interface to be as natural as we can get for work in photography.  For example, there’s a big difference (in my mind) in the look of a brush stroke made with a pen vs. made with a mouse.  This guys seems to agree with me about screen size and art.

I can draw something in OneNote quickly, and then go into SketchFlow and redraw the same thing and make it function.

I can retouch a photo using an airbrush that actually almost works like an airbrush.

Yes, I could use an external tablet like a Wacom Bamboo, but it’s so much nicer to see exactly what you’re doing on the screen.  Moreover, you don’t have to carry one more thing around.  I’m sure that anyone who’s seen Microsoft Research’s Project Gustav will agree that more pixels will be better!

As a backup plan, I have one of these Hantech Stylo pens that will work with any PC.  But, it’s probably not quite the same (I have yet to really try it out in earnest).

Size is everything, actually

My criteria for picking a Tablet PC has been pretty simple:

Get the one with the highest screen resolution possible!

 

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Long term digital lifestyle vision

26 02 2010

I love it when a plan comes together… or at least, I like to watch someone put a long term plan together and execute it – especially when I am along for the ride. 

I’ve been told that I’m too impatient when it comes to proposing and executing strategic organizational and product movement.  Perhaps that’s true.  Sometimes the wait is internal inertia, sometimes it is for technology to catch up with the science fiction, and sometimes it’s waiting for the market to emerge.

Seeing the market before it emerges is what differentiates revolutionary plans from incremental plans.  While revolutionary plans come together on the backs of incremental gains, those gains are shaped and directed by a vision.

Your digital lifestyle

OK, this is going to sound like an advertisement, but I’m looking at it from a strategic roadmap and product management perspective.  Also, I already have a lot of this stuff lying around, so I’d like to see it work!  Now, onward…

Whether you knew it or not, the first thing to make progress toward the “paperless” (or perhaps “virtual”) anything was your house.  The office has too much inertia and weighty processes holding it back to really embrace the digital vision wholeheartedly.  It will move that direction, but nowhere near as quickly as your own household. 

That’s largely because you choose your own digital destiny.  New sexy products become available rapidly and the adoption curve for certain new technology items is based both on peer pressure and the desire for shiny objects.  Because of this, your house is very likely more advanced than your office.

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An argument against license enforcement

7 12 2009

This may seem weird as I’ve been talking about pricing and license metric development.  However, we have not yet talked about enforcement. 

To software companies, license enforcement protects the bottom line.  It prevents rampant, “entrepreneurial” software distribution throughout their customer base.  Keep in mind that this discussion isn’t a one-size-fits-all scenario.  A major enterprise software provider may choose to enforce a license differently than a single-user shrink-wrapped software provider.

To customers, software licensing is a way of steering clear of the legal issues surrounding "viral license expansion” that can happen as co-workers share their productivity practices. 

It’s simply risk avoidance – policy triumphing over value to the organization.  IT departments go through elaborate means to “control the desktop environment” of their employees both for ease of management and for license enforcement.

Viral license expansion for fun and profit

If we take away the legal and negative revenue implications of letting a software package roam free-range style throughout an organization, the result of getting more eyeballs on your product can be compelling to both parties.  This is especially true if your software has an entrenched user base in one specialized area of a company, but could bring significant value to other areas of your customer base.

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