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18-03-2013 Weekly Tech Update

Technical round-up to Monday 18 March 2013.

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General
This week I’ve been re-assessing my own tech - what I have, and how I use it. My tech life is pretty much centred on a late 2011 27” iMac, with 16Gb RAM, an SSD, and currently about 12Tb of external storage. That’s my work-horse, and does everything. Sure, the newer ones are a bit faster - and a bit thinner (which is of no real importance to me) - but not better enough to want to upgrade.

My main laptop is a late 2011 17” Macbook Pro, with a 256Gb SSD, and a 1Tb internal HD. I’ve removed the DVD drive and replace it with the spiny SATA-II drive (The SSD is a SATA-III unit).

…and then I have an iPad mini that I use to consume stuff on, and my travel buddy - a 2011 Macbook Air 11.6”.

After thinking through my requirements - which is the ability to produce environments quickly, and to use all my office apps….I couldn’t see the point of upgrading either my iMac or my Macbook Pro. The laptop was a harder call. The newer processors with a bit of a performance jump were interesting, and oh my word - that retina screen is beautiful….but everything else would have been a compromise for me. Screen estate - I just love the high-def screen on my 17” unit, and I’d have had to compromise on storage too if I went the retina route. Sure, I could get a fast Thunderbolt or USB3 external drive….but it doesn’t beat the quality of the all in one device that is my 17” unit.

So… I came to the conclusion that
not upgrading my gear was the route to go. This was, as you can imagine, a bit of a shock!

I did however get my hands on some new tech last week, in the way of a HP ElitePad Windows 8 Pro Tablet. More on that in a minute….

General Blog Items
Get yourself over to EverythingUC and get yourself registered. Incredibly content light at the minute, but there’s some good stuff in the pipeline. Could be a useful area for those of us in the UC industry to catch up.

General Blog Items
Issues with dual homed servers have cropped up a few times this week - so I’ve written about how to counteract the issue here:

Dual Homed Servers

Google and St. Patrick’s Day
I do love Google and their doodles - the one for St. Patrick’s Day is particularly cracking:



Windows 8 Tablet
I’ve now had the use of a HP ElitePad for a week - running proper Windows 8 Pro. It runs a dual-core Atom processor at 1.8Ghz, boasts 2Gb of RAM, and the model I have has 32Gb SSD. In terms of specifications, it doesn’t set the world alight when it comes to outright performance - but that’s not what you really need in a tablet is it? Here’s the windows performance index for example:

WPI

So it’s no speed freak, but the SSD should deal with a lot of that.

I’ve only had the unit for a week, so I’ll hold off a full review at this point - but my thoughts right now are not that positive. The hardware itself is solid, and feels like quality. Feels about the same weight as a full-size iPad 4 too, so doesn’t feel bulky. I’m struggling however with a number of areas that I think are down to its application of a general purpose operating system on a tablet - I.e. Windows 8 trying to be both the desktop and the tablet/mobile OS of choice. I don’t think it
quite does it.

Why?

Well, a few things, including:

  • The keyboard doesn’t always know when to come out. Quite often you have to select it to pop out - and this bit does my absolute nut - having selected the keyboard, the field you wanted to type in to has lost focus, so you have to go reselect it again. Infuriatingly annoying.
  • Some of the apps are hard to use in touch. Simple things like select boxes/menus being too close together, meaning you often do things you didn’t want to do.
  • The keyboard - again. I’m struggling with accuracy on it. This could of course be a learning curve but I’m finding my typing to be incredibly inaccurate on it.
  • It’s just not intuitive. Working out how to re-arrange the Metro screen for example was an effort in itself. I’ve found I have to pull a tile down or up to be able to move it’s location. If I swipe it up quickly, up pops the bottom menu to unpin/uninstall/make larger. It’s incredibly fussy and I’ve found it doesn’t always work.
  • After installing Office 2013 and Google Chrome I have only 7Gb free for data storage.

….and a few other annoyances. I’ll give it a few weeks before reviewing properly. It could be of course that I’m blighted by the iPad experience. Let’s not forget the iPad runs a dedicated OS designed for such devices, and on that front boy does it ‘just work’. Sure, it arguably doesn’t have the flexibility of Windows 8…but I’m not convinced I need it in my mobile device anyways?

I’ve also picked up the expansion jacket, and the docking station. The jacket adds numerous useful ports like HDMI and a couple of USB ports, but it does make the unit feel considerably bigger for some reason. That’s not the worst part about the jacket though - it’s the fitting. The jacket has a piece at the top that clamps down on to the lower case. The problem with that is it’s not very secure so I have a habit of trying to pick the unit up and the top of the jacket coming off. This has resulted in more throw-it-across-the-room incidences than I’d care for.

I’ll continue trying to use it as my active device this week, and report back - hopefully I’ll grow to love it!

Lync Goodies
Again lots happening in the Lync/Unified Communications arena this week - some of the more interesting ones below.

Cumulative Update 8 for Lync 2010 is here.
I found this
great paper on the value of Unified Communications in business.
Some
Lync Powershell Snippets here - great basic introduction.
Justin Morris gives a great initial run through on the
Lync Mobile Clients here. Matt Landis also writes about it here.

There’s an interesting article here at NoJitter trying to say that
Lync is expensive to deliver. I’m not sure I’m convinced that’s true - it’s certainly not been my experience. I will say that the savings are not as huge as some people seem to say they are - Cisco is often far more competitive than people imagine, and competitors often quote Cisco RRP which of course nobody buys at - but I think this article is a little extreme in the least, doing the same trick but the other way around. It’s written with an obvious agenda, and hardly vendor agnostic.

For general Lync stuff,
follow DrRez on twitter.

This has cropped up a number of times this week -
Why is Lync 2013 Mobile asking me to use Lync 2010?

Check out the
UC Architects Podcast.

Great article here about
configuring IIS Application Request Routing (IIS ARR) for the reverse proxy for Lync.

Another great article from Matt Landis -
Real world questions your Lync 2013 Mobile users will be asking very soon.

Backup your Lync 2013 topology to a single ZIP file.

Microsoft
Lync connectivity Analyzer.

Some great
Office365 dos and dont’s here.


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