Windows Home Server

Posted in Home Server, Microsoft, Tech by Tony C on January 9, 2007

HP MediaSmart ServerWith CES now well under way and the blogsphere hanging on to every announcement it’s good to see Windows Home Server finally make a public apperance, there have been comments and hushed remarks about this at least as long as I’ve been as MS Towers, interestingly the HP MediaSmart Server in the picture is almost exactly how I imagined the box might look like.  OK without the blue bars or the HP logo but you get the idea.

Of course lots of people have been doing this kind of thing for sometime but it’s interesting to see it now productised and sold as an appliance.  As it’s designed to be placed out of sight it doesn’t come with a keyboard or monitor but is accessed via a web based console from any PC, or Mac hopefully, in the house.  It won’t be long I suspect before we see a whole range of these from various hardware vendors and I’m going to start clearing space this weekend!

“Can I have a Macbook please?”

Posted in Apple, Macbook, Tech by Tony C on January 5, 2007

The home PC is well past retirement age, the venerable machine is now over 5 years old and I suppose it’s testament to how good modern hardware is that it keeps going.  Like any pensioner it gave up playing games sometime ago and has been used for Karen’s OU work, her NLP stuff, browsing the web and keeping K’s Mini Pod updated and recharged, it’s even managed to edit and print the odd photo recently.  But a little while ago it begun to eat components and went through two sound cards, a video card and even a NIC, even some of the USB sockets only work when they are in the mood.  One theory is that the motherboard has a fault, probably a 5v rail which has on occasion spiked doing away with said PCI cards and USB sockets, fortunately this hasn’t happened for a while now.  The other consideration is that the thing is huge and I’m not sure anyone would dare make a case that big now not even a full size tower for fear people using them as prefab housing.

As I have a machine provided by work Karen, who also happens to be a lapsed Mac engineer, gets final vote so when asked what do we should do K unsurprisingly suggested a Macbook.  I have some experience of Macs and I’ve always rather liked OSX having used it with Lotus Notes and Office for Mac in the past and the range of Dual Core 2 Macbooks are now at a price point that drops them into PC territory, and lets not forget at 4% market share Apple have to do something if there ever to be considered more than a nice to have.

But why oh why do the black Macbooks have a £100 premium over the white ones?

iPhone yes, Apple no

Posted in Apple, Mobile Phones, Tech by Tony C on December 20, 2006

As previously mentioned the web is awash with rumours and heresay about Apple producing a mobile phone but it looks as if the name iPhone will not be the brand.  Cisco has apparently owned the name since 2000 and will using it on an range of upcoming web based phones via their networking brand Linksys.  Whilst Apple in the past has got in the odd bun fight over names, Apple Studios was one, it’s unlikey that any lawyer would consider the iPhone brand worth the hassle.

So what could it be?  iMobile?  MacPhone? ApplePhone? MacMobile?

Bye bye Boss

Posted in Music, Tech by Tony C on December 17, 2006

Sometimes having an over active gadget gland means you end you end up with stuff seemed like a good idea at the time, and after my recent introduction to the world of playing live it became apparent that I’m in danger of becoming an ‘all the gear and no idea’ sort of guitarist.  This is a bad combination.

So I’m about to post my Boss GT-8 and DB-90 on eBay. 

The GT-8 is an incredible piece of kit and requires as much dedication to use as does playing the guitar itself, but if you’re willing to put in the hours you’ll never buy anything else to mod your’s that good.  Sadly I’m not.  The computing power the GT-8 has at it’s disposal is something the engineers on the Apollo missions only dreamt of. 

The DB-90 is a metronome and drum machine all rolled into one and I can’t understand why I bought it, especially as many of the features on it are duplicated on my PX-4.  Don’t get me wrong it’s a top notch piece of kit if that’s what you need; sadly I didn’t.  The gadget fetishists equivalent of beer goggles I guess.

My loss as always is someone elses eBay gain.

SportsDo go Ski Sunday

Posted in Skiing, Sport, Tech by Tony C on December 14, 2006

When you watch Ski Sunday this …er…Sunday and you see Graham Bell and Ed Leigh speeding down the hill you may notice that they’ll have Windows Mobile 5 powered HTC MTeoRs in their pockets running a copy of SportsDo to track their progress.  In fact they’ll be using these throughout the season until the end of February.

If you want a sneek peek you can see the Men’s Downhill at Val Gardena which will be shown this Sunday.  The map you may notice is Virtual Earth 3D so looks rather cool.

Jon and the troops at SportsDo have also added the ability to record heart rate and Graham’s hit 187bpm…over his theoretical max.  Must have been when he passed 90mph.

iPhone or not iPhone

Posted in Tech by Tony C on December 12, 2006

An iPhone today....honest!T’internet is awash with rumours of an an iPhone from Apple and on first inspection the idea makes sense, take Apple’s undoubted skill with form factor and add telephony.  Mac fans are positively moist at the thought and what’s not to love in a market that is fashion driven like few others.  Well quiet a bit as it happens and if Mr Jobs reads this modest blog (there goes that flying pig again) he might just reflect on my words.

The phone market, even the market for phones that play music is rammed and the competition fierce.  There are already a huge selection of sexy mobiles and the manufacturers will not take lightly Apple’s entrance.  The iPod whilst not creating the market for portable music players certainly came to define it but it wasn’t as if anyone else was making much of an effort since Sony dropped the ball with Walkman.

There are no more voice customers.  Just churn. Brand loyalty can be dirty word in the phoneland.

Apple’s experience counts for naught in this market.  They made a success of iPod not just because of the player but because of the end to end customer experience, iTunes is what makes iPod compelling.  In the mobile phone market the operators dominate so Apple will have to play by their rules.  If Apple sell them in Apple Stores will they also sell Airtime and become a reseller for the Operators, or just SIM free?  In the UK at least we have been raised on a diet of subsided mobile handsets and consumers don’t seem ready to swallow the real cost, so will Apple be ready to deliver a first generation device at a low enough price point?

Making a mobile phone is much more more complicated and technically challenging than a music player, not to take anything away from the white coats at Apple but even people who’ve been at it for some time still get it wrong.  The Razr is a case in point, it looked great but I’ve never spoken to anyone who has a good thing to say about the user experience.

If nothing else even rumours of Apple selling a mobile phone is interesting enough to get the competition scratching their collective chins, the Mac cognoscente overly excited and the people like me fascinated by how it unfolds.

Share the love…

Posted in Gaming, Tech, TV by Tony C on December 11, 2006

Interesting article from the Motley Fool on the Xbox 360 and they have a point.  As the 360 is not only a great games console but also a media extender why don’t the Xbox troops push this gentler side of the console?  With Sony in a mess over PS3 and the Wii in short supply in the run up to Christmas, what a fantastic opportunity to broaden the appeal of 360 in areas they can’t touch.

Yamaha DGX 620

Posted in Music, Tech by Tony C on December 8, 2006

Karen for sometime now has regularly mentioned that she’d like to take up playing the piano after a hiatus of some twenty years, it maybe longer but she’ll not fess up.  So Santa this year has already delivered a Yamaha DGX 620 as he’d never get it down the chimney and because it was rather obvious (the box was big enough to stuff a body in) Karen has already begun playing. 

 So why the DGX 620?  Well firstly it has a full size 88 key weighted hammer action keyboard, feeling like a proper piano was the number one must have and it does an excellent job of this.  The Grand Piano model is very sweet and to a non expert sounds pretty authentic, there is also some 500 other voices to explore so it might take a while for Karen too get round to all of them and with built in lessons, 250 songs, performance assistant and the ability to plug into a PC to upload additional content she’ll be occupied for the foreseeable future, or at least until next Christmas.

Go to work in a bacon suit

Posted in Tech by Tony C on November 28, 2006

Bacon suit...Thought I’d share some of the new Windows Mobile ads.  Whilst I not sure I could envisage an occasion where I’d suit up in bacon each to his own I suppose.  Would that be a Hamarnie suit?

Thanks to Martin B in the US for pointing them out to me.

Round of applause for Palm

Posted in Tech by Tony C on November 16, 2006

My trusty iMate K-Jam has been put to one side for a new Palm Treo 750v.  I’ve waiting to get my hand on one of these for a while as the reviews and feedback have been excellent, it wasn’t hyperbole.  The combination of Palm’s winning ways with form factor and Windows Mobile 5 makes for arguably the best PDA on the market, I could go on about the monster functionality but as it’s using Windows Mobile that’s a given.  My only ask for the next version is support for mini USB.

If you have a Blackberry throw it away now and get one of these.