I was recently forced by my employer to switch from my Apple iPhone 5 to the Nokia Lumina 920. I've used both iOS and Android phones (both equally good in their own right), and I wasn't too thrilled with switching to yet another platform, let alone a Windows one.
I mean, come on, my name is ROOT for crying out loud.
But after using the phone for the past week, I'm... not as put off by the phone. Read on for my full review.
Let me first start off with the surprise I had: It's gorgeous. I think both the phone and OS is sexy as hell. I read one review that said the phone was like a pop tart, that it was a little awkward to carry--which is very true--but it's still a beautiful phone. What was most surprising to me was that Windows is aesthetically pleasing. More than Apple and Android in my opinion. And yeah, I can't believe I'm saying that right now but it's true. Who knew?
Ignoring the OS for the moment, the phone itself is a little big (4.5" screen) and hefty, and the power/volume buttons are in a weird place, but I think it's mostly because I'm so use to the iPhone... although the power button is a bit annoying trying to find it at times as that's the button you use to lock/unlock it. But that's about all I have to say that's negative on the hardware.
The reason why it's heavy is because of the wireless power that's built into it. For $45 you can get the wireless power plate (but I hear if you buy it with a contact, they'll throw it in for free). Standard micro USB cable if you don't have the cash (or your company didn't send it with the phone like me). Then there is the NFC built in (i.e. the same tech that allows the Samsung S3 to beam racy videos to your spouse, unbeknownst to your children). The Snapdragon S4 processor makes it scream, and the screen is very sharp/clear/pretty (take your pick). I've yet to fully test out PureView (the image stabilization built in) but from what I've seen the camera is good enough for today's standards (8.7 megapixels).
But the hardware is only as good as the OS.
And unfortunately the OS is only as good as the Apps. The one big glaring problem with this phone is the lack of apps. iOS and Android both have a huge selection of apps that I've grown accustomed to, and many of even the basic apps aren't available in Windows mobile yet (ex: Starbucks, Capital One, Chrome, Syncplicity, etc). Knowing the power and influence Microsoft has, I'm sure it will be only a matter of time when it will get better... but then again, I have to ask myself, "if I was a developer, how many platforms am I willing to support and maintain for my apps?". With Blackberry attempting to make a comeback, you've got arguably 4 platforms available, 2 of which hold 87% of the market as of today. The only thing argument I can think of is Windows making the same pitch that they did to the Gaming developers: if you code a game for Xbox, we'll make it very easy to port it over to a PC. So code for our mobile platform and be able to port over to Windows 8 easily. But with Apple making a comeback in the desktop market, and the decline in desktop sales as more and more people using their tablets and phones... I don't know. Time will only tell.
Makes me wish everyone would just make webapps and be done with it.
Now, here's a quick like of what I like/love about this phone:
- Office Products (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc) built in. Great for a company phone.
- Social/Media/Xbox integration (The Microsoft Facebook App lets you use your FB photos as the wallpaper for your lock screen, imports/links contacts, etc).
- Nokia Drive Beta (Think Google Navigation). I was surprised by this. It's actually good. Even tells you when you're speeding.
- Nokia City Lens. Awesome Augment Reality apps that shows you places (restaurants, fun things to do, etc) nearby, overlaid on your camera's viewer.
- Local Scout. This app tells you what's near you that might be of interest to you (Places to eat/drink, things to see/do, places to shop, and places you might like based on your facebook account's likes). Similar to City Lens but with a bit more to it (and not based on augmented reality).
- Kid's Corner. If you have kids, you'll like this. Turning this feature on, from the lock screen, you can slide to the right and unlock Kid's Corner, which is a special sandbox area that you can add specific apps/videos/games/music to just for your kid.
- Live Tiles. After playing with it, I realize I like it better than Apple/Google's implementation. It takes the best of both worlds and it's CLEAN. Swiping to the right, you have the whole app list that you can easily do a targeted search against (which is a must).
- NFC and Wireless Power. Enough said.
- I actually like the keyboard better than the iPhone 5.
- The built in Back Up Everything to Cloud
- General aesthetics within the OS and in most Apps. Maybe I'm a sucker for big fonts, contrasting text (I like the built in email app), and the floating/sway effects this phone has... but I like it.
... And here's what I don't like about it:
- Having gotten use to Siri integrated into the Apple phone, I realize I've been spoiled (I'd used her a lot). There is a Siri-like app called Ask Ziggy, but it isn't integrated into the OS (you have to click on the app to use it), and it's not as rich as Siri... but it does do most things Siri can do, so it's a minor complaint.
- App selection, as previously stated. Hopefully this get's fixed over time. But there is also the Apple ecosystem as a whole, especially if you've become dependent on it (Movies, music, etc).
- No custom vibration settings for different types of notifications. Both Blackberry and iOS have this feature (Android probably has it but wasn't there last I checked), and it's really nice knowing what sort of incoming text/email/call that's coming in without pulling it out of my pocket or having a ringtone that could disrupt a meeting.
- No do not disturb feature (i.e. "block all calls but for these people").
- No straight to camera from lock screen like iPhone. Nor straight to app based on notification. Notifications on the lock screen are actually sparse... which might be a good thing if you're constantly looking at your phone all the time like a obsessive compulsion. But once you're use to it from iPhone, it's a nice to have. EDIT: I figured out how to go straight to the camera (long press camera button at lock screen).
- Sparse Google Apps.... and when I say sparse, I mean 1 Google App (Search). I'm a Google nut. Give me an Android phone any day of the week (my company had stopped supporting Android phones, thus my switch to Apple). Google owns me, and I'm OK with that. Google Maps has all my starred places, Chrome has all my bookmarks, Gmail has all my contacts, Drive has all my personal docs, etc. Chrome is probably the biggest downfall here as all the others can be accessed via the built in browser. And I was able to port in my Gmail contacts by adding my Gmail account.--but I'm a proud power-user that likes to get to what I need in the fewest steps.
- I don't care for the built in Calendar. It's lacks a lot of setting I'm accustomed to and there's no way for me to see what my week looks like in one glance (i.e. what open slots I have available if anyone want to set up a meeting with me).
- There have been a few times when the screen wasn't responsive. No BSOD, but I did have to lock the phone and unlock it for it to become sane again. I've heard of battery issues, but I haven't experienced any of that yet.
Bottom line, if you're OK with the app selection (search it here: http://www.windowsphone.com/en-us/store), I think this phone is well worth the price.
Until next time my users,
I recently ran upon a thread about Virtual Machines (VM's) and Virtualization. I figured a post on this topic has been long over due. For those of you who don't know what VM's are, I HIGHLY recommend that you read on. This technology is a game changer, even if it's been around for quite some time.
So let's just get right down to it.
WHAT is it?
A lot of people have different definitions of Virtualization but the way I think of it is that it's abstracting and decoupling SOMETHING from the hardware. When you virtualize an OS, you're basically abstracting all the hooks that it has into the hardware so it's more portable, mobile, and flexible. The output of that virtualization process creates a VM (which is essentially a set of files).
The VM runs on a hypervisor. There are two types (Type 1 and Type 2). Type 1 is under all OS's while Type 2 is install on top of an OS. For the purpose of this post, we'll just focus on Type 2, and on VMware. VMware's Type 2 hypervisor is called Player (it's free and can be found here: http://www.vmware.com/products/player/). I'm choosing VMware because it's the leader in the market right now, and by a wide margin. Their converter, aka P2V, is also free (found here: http://www.vmware.com/products/converter).
WHY use VM's?
I mentioned that virtualization's benefits is that it's more portable, mobile and flexible--and that applies to VM's. There's a ton of use cases and benefits because of this, but here's my top list:
Test Drive. Let's suppose you have Windows 7 installed, and you like it, but you've heard good things about Linux and you'd like to try it out. Typically you'd only have 2 options available: Live CD (run it off of a CD, USB drive, etc) or create a new partition (or shrink your existing one--can be dangerous) and install Linux there. Both options require you to shutdown Windows 7 and boot into Linux. What Player does is you install it in your Windows machine and then boot the Linux VM inside Windows 7 and run both OS's simultaneously. No need to reboot.
Obviously, if you can run multiple OS's, a big benefit of this is that you can run applications you typically couldn't before. I've posted before how I've been able to create an SSH tunnel back to my house with Putty and Linux, but it was on a Windows 7 machine--this is how I did it.
With Unity mode, you can seamlessly merge your VM's applications with the OS that you're running Player on. So let's say the OS you've got Player installed on is Linux (because it kicks butt) but you have to use Microsoft Visio for work. You can fire up the Windows VM that has Visio on it, enter Unity mode, and voila, you have the Visio application on your Linux desktop without being confined to the Windows's VM's window, so it looks like you've installed Visio on your Linux machine. If that doesn't make sense, check this youtube video out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JeGOGD1SGgE
Consolidation. This is more for the Data Center's out there, but this was the biggest value prop of virtualization back when it came out. Most servers run 10-20% on utilized throughout the day on average, and being able to increase the utilization of your assets (servers) by consolidating your servers you've purchased via virtualization resonated with companies. Not really a benefit for you here with the exception that you don't need to buy another computer to run another machine/OS simultaneously with your other machine(s).
Isolation. Since a VM is another OS, and separate from the OS you've installed Player on, you can isolate yourself from potential threats. Let's face it, surfing the internet can be dangerous. Spyware, trogans, keyloggers... the list goes on. It's not uncommon for a windows machine to slow down over time. What if you could fire up a VM and do all your internet browsing, or testing of new (untrusted) applications, in a sandbox like environment? And when you're done, you can just blow the VM away and recreate another one based off of a template you've created? It protects your main OS, which means you don't need to rebuild it as often (if at all). And since you can share files between the VM and your main OS seamlessly, you don't lose any functionality.
Hardware Refresh. This is all about the decoupling effect of virtualization. I don't know if you caught on to this, but you don't need to reinstall an OS (or repair it) just because you installed a new mobo. The drivers, ram, CPU, and network are all "virtualized" or "generic-ized". The obvious down side here is that you lose some of the benefits that come with tightly integrated drivers (read: able to fully utilize that expensive graphic cards). But if you don't virtualize your gaming machine... or if you don't game... then the benefits are great.
Baseline = Goodness. I briefly mentioned the template VM. Let's say you've created a Windows 7 VM that has all the latest patches on it. Like clean install before you install any applications on it. You can easily copy and paste that to another location for safe keeping (remember, a VM is basically a set of files)... in other words you're making a baseline/gold-copy VM. So if for whatever reason you accidently corrupted your Windows machine, just copy/paste a new copy of your gold-copy and voila, you've got a pristine machine once again (no need to re-install from scratch). This, of course, assumes that Windows 7 is your VM, not the OS you've got Player installed on.
Multiple VMs. There's no reason why you can't have multiple VM's running simultaneously. I can't think of a use case of how this would be helpful off the top of my head, but I'm sure you can think of one. Probably goes back to isolation use case (think dedicated browser VM, FTP VM, etc).
Virtual Appliances. Virtual Appliances are VM's that people have already built. Not interested in building a Kubuntu VM from scratch? Someone's already done that for you. Check out this section of VMware's website and search around: https://solutionexchange.vmware.com/store/category_groups/19
VMware has been around for a while. The real awesome stuff is in their Type 1 hypervisor. For the IT Professionals out there, I'd HIGHLY recommend for you to build up your skills around VMware. Being able to move a VM live, without the end user realizing you're moving it, to another server is cool. But doing that at an extended distance (like another state)? Mind officially blown. There's a lot of really awesome stuff they are doing (Storage DRS, Fault Tolerance, vApps, Cloud Foundry, vFabric, VDI, etc) but this post is long enough as is.
Until next time my users,
I always wanted to do this kind of post but never had the time to put words to paper (so to speak). So here it goes. I'll be covering a wide range of topics, as technology has many fields, but bare with me.
With the introduction of the iphone, and I think more notably the ipad, Apple hit the nail on the head. When it comes down to it, technology, in the most basic essence as you can imagine, is meant to be a means to an end. What I mean by that is it's suppose to enable you to do cool stuff. It's not suppose to hinder you. With that said, I think it's fair to say that OS's (i.e. Windows, Linux, etc), in the traditional sense, will start to fade away. OS's were designed to house Applications--and let's face it, Applications were always the star of the show... even if a lot of us have forgotten that. It was never about the OS. Apple reminded us of this and it is why Windows 8 is headed in that direction (no really, look it up). Eventually, every OS's goal will be to be invisible.
Which leads us to a dangerous question: If it's no longer in front of us, why would we chose one over the other? It all comes back to the applications. There is a reason why Steve Ballmer (CEO of Microsoft) famously chanted that Developers (application programmers) were the future. He might be a nut in that video (go google it, he really is a nut) but he's not wrong. Which leads us to the next challenge.
Now that we've had a (bigger, more prominent) taste of what Applications can do for us on the mobile platforms (read: cell phones), people will demand more. We'll see an even bigger shift to mobile apps and synergies with less-than-mobile-apps-"today". They'll also expect simplicity in using the apps. I wouldn't be surprised if "User Experience" became a new degree in college.
I also foresee there being a shift away from native programs and more web based programs. What I mean by "native programs" is an application specifically coded for, say, the Android. If it were based on HTML, then you could open up any browser, regardless of the platform, and run the app.
Ask yourself, if you are a developer, why code for 4 different platforms (major ones: Android, iOS, Windows, Blackberry) when all you need is one (web)? Think about it, what's the common denominator between all four platforms? They all have an internet browser. It's a natural step for applications. Just look at Facebook's app. They actually coded their mobile app in HTML5 (new internet language) and wrapped it around native code to the specific platform.
Obviously this requires you being connected to a network full time, and we'd need a powerful/stable/always-on network there to support this future... but I did say this post was on the future. And if you just go back a handful of years, the concept of streaming a movie while you went on a road trip was unfathomable (anyone else remember the dial up days?). It's no wonder most people believe Blue-ray is going to die soon. Here's an interesting tid-bit for you, Ford is going to stop producing cars with CD players in them and music labels are going to stop producing CD's by end of 2012, with the exception of the "limited edition" albums.
Backend is all the stuff behind the scenes that supports the apps (in said Root's future). This sort of ties back to my post on school-to-job. As consumers become use to the idea of simplicity/instant/on-the-go, expectation will rise in the workforce as well. Even more accurately, I think, is a demand for it. And where there is demand, people will create/sell it. There will be a shift in IT where they start competing with other companies providing similar services (honestly, I think it's already started)... because there's a demand for it. Just look at Amazon. You can swipe a credit card and get an entire dev/test environment spun up in a matter of minutes as oppose to going to your internal IT department and waiting for weeks/months. And your entire IT department becomes something like your electric/gas company. You're charge by the drink and you don't need to know IT to get what you want (remember means to an end comment?). Automation, tho art a heartless b***h.
Need I remind you that with the work force aging, a newer--dare I saw more internet-bred/"instant" folks--will fill the workforce up, so this shift will become more and more prevalent.
You might have heard of this mythical "cloud"... heck you might even know what it is. Honestly, it's an old girl in a new dress (i.e. technically Juno webmail was a cloud service--and that was back in the 90's). But take a look at google's Chrome book as an example, and combine it with their OAuth service. Now, if you're still following me, imagine a future where you pick up some cheap hardware device (not some $600 phone mind you), that you log into once (face recognition/password/chip implant... dude that's all 3 forms of authentication in one sentence), and you have all of your data/apps/services at your finger tips, and everything is secured/encrypted. Regardless if you lose the device or log into another one, your data is stored/synced on a computer grid (which is far more redundant than your machine at home). And since everything is stored in another (more robust) location, which has much faster hardware, all you need is something that can process a simple web request (ala cheap hardware device).
Just look at Amazon's Fire tablet and their silk browser. How cool is that? Did you know Amazon is practically running most businesses now? I hinted to this earlier but check out Wired's article on them if you don't believe me.
With houses getting connected/automatetd these days, you can bet the farm that your data is used by your house in the future too (think: playing your music/tv/movie in your car and the media follows you into the house [and various rooms] based on your cell phone/face recognition/whatever-new-whizz-bang-tech. Also, RFID tagged food in a fridge that knows when to order more food, auto bills/delivers it at your door the next day, and Pandora-like recommendations based on if you liked [consumed] it).
Electric cars that drive themselves (Google is already doing this, and believes they are 10 years away from seeing it in production), and wireless power built into the roads for on the go "gas". Some even go so far as to predict that cars will become a service in the future as everything becomes automated (why own a car that's 80% parked when you can hit a button and summon a car to your location?).
It would be nice if the medical industry would standardize itself and join in on this lovely future as well. Like your entire medical history stored in one place, that every new doctor you see instantly has an accurate medical history--ever tried remember your last shot?
With new technology coming out, like 802.11ac (over 1Gb/s wirelessly... nerd say what?!), very interesting virtualization technologies for consumers (VMware's Horizon Mobile), extremely high performance networks (InfiniBand being clocked at 300Gb/s), and crazy mind blowing virtualization backend-server-stuff (just look up EMC's VPLEX), I think this future is just around the corner. The possibilities are endless and I can't wait to see what the next 50 years will bring us.
Assuming we don't blow each other up into a Nuclear Winter, of course.
Until next time my users,
It's been a while since I talked about money and, now that I've had time to live through having a kid and a mortgage, it's about time for another (updated) post on this pesky but unavoidable topic.
While I'm no financial expert by any means, I've found that the below guidelines is sound advice. If you can follow them, you'll thank yourself later down the road.
Find out what your monthly post-tax income is (aka your take-home income). If you have an hourly job, I'd figure out what you make in 4 weeks (i.e. low ball yourself here). This is going to be what you have to work with--or,as I like to call it, "reality".
Pay your self first is a term you've probably heard before. Set aside, minimum, 10% of your monthly income and put it into savings BEFORE any bills are paid. Consider this money already spent. If you can afford it, do 15% or even 20%. If you're just starting to save, your goal should be 6 months of your monthly expenses. Some people say 3 months, others go so far as 12 months, but I like 6 months. This is your emergency fund (example: "Oh c**p, I lost my job"). This shouldn't be used towards a "want" (example: "60 inch OLED TV FTW!"). Once you've established this fund, direct this % towards high interest rated loans. After those are paid off, start investing this money as well as paying off any other remaining debts. Assuming you're living within your means, I'd highly suggest moving any raises towards this pay-yourself-first %.
Really I just have a couple of things to say here as this is a very big topic with hundreds of ideas/rules of thumbs. Be diverse in your portfolio. Common sense dictates that you don't want to put everything in one basket. If you do want to invest in stocks, a good rule of thumb to determine how much (%) of your portfolio should be invested in stocks is to take 100 and subtract your age (example: 40 year old should invest no more than 60% of their portfolio in stocks). Personally I have short term (6-12 months), medium (1-5 year), and long term (6+ years) investments. My risks are skewed appropriately.
Home Ownership / Renting
If you're renting today, you should make sure it's no more than 30% of your monthly income. If it isn't, you'll be hard pressed to save for a down payment for a house. And yes, I firmly believe in owning a home (it just makes sense financially). As to figuring out how much home you can afford, a good rule of thumb is to make sure that your mortgage balance is no more than 2x your (and your family's) yearly income. Don't do a variable rate loan (do fixed) and if you're debating about refinancing, they say if the delta is 1% or more do it.
Buy used or buy new and drive it for ten years... or ideally both. You can save a lot of money this way. Don't lease and ideally don't have a car payment. If you don't have the luxury and must have a car payment, I like/follow the 20/4/10 rule. I put 20% down as a down payment, I do no more than 4 year loans, and I make sure that the monthly payment isn't greater than 10% of my monthly income. You want to avoid paying interest on anything that loses value (which believe me car's lose their value very quickly). And let's face it, the car is meant to get you from point A to point B. Who needs a butt massager anyways? Try to keep your transportation expenses (including tolls, gas, car payments, insurance, etc) under 15% of your monthly income. Typically repairing your vehicle makes more sense than buying a new one. Also, a good exercise to do is take the car's price tag, double it, and divide by 60. This will show you the total cost of the car, for 5 years, in monthly terms.
Always try and max out your company's 401K matching (you're getting 100% free money here). You're never too early to start saving for retirement. Compound interest does wonders. You're goal should be that you're able to withdraw 110% of your monthly expenses for as long as you're alive. A good rule of thumb around this is if you plan on withdrawing from your retirement fund for 40 years, you can safely withdraw 4% of it every year. Don't EVER touch your retirement fund---except for when you retire of course. And this I think should be in addition to the pay-yourself-first %.
-If you're debating on whether to repair or purchase a new appliance, a good rule is to buy new if: the old appliance is older than 8 years or repair costs are more than half the appliance.
-If you suddenly come upon a lot of money (bonus check, inheritance, etc), use 1% of it to treat yourself and then set the rest of it aside into a safe/stable account for 6 months and don't touch it until then. This will give you time to think about how to spend it. As unsexy as it sounds, I'd recommend paying off all your debts first.
-Never co-sign on a loan
-Don't try to cheat the IRS. Pay what you owe and claim what you're due.
-Try and keep your living expenses (Shopping, Food, etc) at no more than a quarter of your monthly income
-Try to spend no more than 30% of your income towards debts (including mortgage, student loans, rolling credit, etc)
-If you can spare the money, especially if you're supporting a family, get life insurance policy that's 5-10 times your salary.
-If you don't have the cash to pay for it, chances are you shouldn't be putting it on a credit card.
-If you can pay off the balance of a credit card each month, find one with good rewards but don't pay for the annual fee. If you can't seem to pay off the balance each month, I wouldn't recommend you having a credit card--they can be dangerous. Use the cash in an envelope method (set aside X amount of cash that you know you can afford each month into envelops, an envelop per week, and only spend what's in the week's envelope).
Hope that helps you as it helps me,
Music: "All I Want For Christmas Is You" - Mariah Carey
Something about a lil girl being a Bad A is just awesome. Can't wait for that movie to come out.
How was everyone's Christmas? Did you get everything you wanted? I think I can saftly say I did. Below is my list.
-Visio XVT3D554SV TV (55 inch, LED, 3D capability, wireless HDMI, 480Hz, and other badassary)
-Visio Sound Bar with wireless sub
-Visio Mount with auto tilt feature (pretty nifty really)
-iPad (32GB, 3G model)
-Flip (4GB model)
-Call of Duty Black Ops
-Turtlebeach X31 wireless gaming headset
Post up your own lists!
I'll have to review some of those here soon. Guess you could say I'm too busy setting things up or figuring it out--lots of Apps on this iPad.
What I've stumbled upon recently:
-uwall.tv Website that's like MTV, back when the M in MTV stood for Music (ooo burn!)
-entangled Addictive game that can be found on Google's Chrome browser beta version (hint:go here http://www.filehippo.com/download_google_chrome/ new tab, app store, search entangled, download/install, spend hours of your life trying to figure out how people get scores over a thousand)
-Google's CR-48 laptop. I just signed up for one, hopefully my name get's picked. If you haven't heard of it, think of it as a cheap laptop with Chrome OS installed on it--and all your base are belong to us.
Until next time users, hope you have a safe and happy new year!
Music: Pursuit of Happiness by Kid Cudi
Hellz to the yeah (Thor). Can't wait for that one.
OK, so on to the reason for the title of this blog post. Recently my wife and I discovered The Buried Life. It's a show on MTV (theburiedlife.mtv.com) that's about four guys that made a list. 100 things to do before they die--a bucket list. The show is a documentary on them completing the list. For every thing they cross off, however, they have to help someone else cross something off their list. I highly recommend everyone watching the show. The cool part about it is that they started before MTV picked them up, and you can tell (at least in the first episodes) that they don't have a lot of money to complete some of these crazy challenges. So they get creative, and has a 'grass roots' feel to it.
Which takes us back to this blog post. My wife and I have decided to each write 10 things down and committing to completing the list before we kick the bucket. So far I've only thought of three of them:
1. Drive across America--East to West--in a classic car.
2. Sell everything (including clothes) and start completely fresh in another town.
3. See 21 of the "Great Wonders of the World" (Ancient, Medieval, Natural) http://www.wonderclub.com/AllWorldWonders.html ... Well, technical 20. I saw the Colosseum already.
I must think of seven more things to do |o.O|.
What do YOU want to do before you die? Comment up.
Battlefield Los Angeles
Cowboys and Aliens
The Green Lantern
Happy Turkey-Day Weekend All!
No, this isn't a post on one of Ludacris's song. This post is on the below trailer that root saw the other day.
Not only is this trailer so awesome that root is terrified of buying the game (least he quite his job, lose his family, and lose months of his life to perfecting the head-shot), and not only is it just a brilliant marketing ploy, but I think it hits the human psyche on the head.
It's the reason why we read books, watch movies, play video games, etc, etc.
Have you ever seen this commercial?
If you have (or haven't until now), did you smile?
It's like when you were a kid, and you thought you were a GI-Joe, TMNT, or Superman. We like to pretend. It keeps our grey matter entertained. And let's face it, life is boring.
So, do me a favor.
Go out, buy the game, and put on a superman cape because you're going to need it. Gamer tag SimpleQed is going to own you.
...When I get around to buying it.
A few days ago, my wife got me Fable 3 for our anniversary. She's awesome like that.
I've played all the Fable's so far, and I think this one has been the best one yet. Doing just the main quests, I think I finished it under 8 hours. I tend to play "good" first, then "bad", and then usually one more time doing ALL the side quests and really try to get my money's worth. This is why I love the Fable franchise, re-playability. And of course, Fable 3 was no exception.
Without ruining some of the plot points, here is my review.
-I like the new "start" menu. It's been changed to a more interactive area instead of menus you have to scroll through.
-I like how they changed the the skills/weapons upgrades and the new experience system.
-I like the improved combat system (visually and responsiveness)--there are a lot of flourish animations, the spells look better, and you can switch between your weapons/magic a lot faster.
-Being able to combine different spells is a nice touch too, although I found myself using whirlwind and (insert interesting spell). Whirlwind is just too powerful defensively, IMO.
-Co-Op. While I haven't played it yet, I've been told you can enter (with your character) into another person's world--even marry/have kids/co-own buildings/etc. This wasn't an option in previous Fable titles.
-While the story was great, the flow of it wasn't as open as I'd hoped--very linear, especially after you've become king.
-The king part was short, compared to the rest of the game, and it had too big of an emphasis on one plot point... and the decisions you made's ripple effect only affected that one plot point (nothing else). It was a major disappointment for me.
-Weapons changed based on how you use it... "it" being the weapon, not how YOU fight, which is disappointing. Especially since you first run into hollowmen and your weapons tend to morph into hollowmen-like-qualities unless you use magic.
-You couldn't import your previous character from Fable 2, affecting the history (since you play Fable's 2 main character's son/daughter 50 years later).
Bottom Line: I recommend buying it. Four out of Five Eggs.
Having just gone through an OS downgrade (Linux to Windows 7), I thought I lost alot of (free) functionality that I once had with Linux.
I don't know about you guys but when I'm out on the road, or at a cafe, I don't trust any open wifi connection. Connecting to an open wifi connection is like playing the baby lottery with a sorority girl. And for those who have no idea what I'm talking about, lets just say you shouldn't be a fool, you should wrap your... packets.
That's why in the past I simply created a secure tunnel (ssh) back to my server at home for all my network traffic, because I know my network at home is rock solid. But that was with a linux machine at home and a linux laptop. Root now has been forced to go Windows 7 for both laptop and the beafy machine at home.
It's a sad day, I know.
At first, I thought to use the Hamachi trick I recently rediscovered, but two issues with that 1) If I was to use it, I'd use RDP to my machine at home and use that internet connection but there would be any audio and streaming video sites would be almost useless over the connection 2) not all... errm... we'll say some networks/laptops won't allow hamachi to function properly. So after thinking about this problem one night, I had a brain blast (slash root you're an i***t) moment.
Why not use Putty's tunnel feature?
Here's how I did the whole thing:
- You need two machines with internet access for this to work (obviously). And as previously stated, I'm assuming you are using Windows on both sides.
- You WILL need to install linux (or cygwin) on the machine at home. Me, personally, I decided to install VMplayer (V3.x found here) and download a preconfigured Kubuntu 10.10 VM. Yes, there are other alternatives that don't require you to register with their site, but I like VMware and it is free. Doing a virtual machine allows me to have both windows and linux running at the same time. This will require the VM to run in the Bridged network mode (a good post on how to get that to work found here).
- Assuming you started the VM and have network connectivity (user/password is on the site where you download the VM), you'll need to install openssh-server (hint: open up Konsole [or alt+ctrl+shift+F2] and type sudo apt-get install openssh-server)
- Configure your router to forward ports from [any IP address] that's attempting to access [specific port number that you make up] and direct it to your vm's ip address, port number 22--the default port number for SSH, unless you are a linux-winnie and changed it). For those of you who don't know how to find your IP address in linux, just type 'ifconfig' in that terminal window you are staring at, you should be able to find it there.
- On your windows laptop install putty which is argueably an industry standard client.
- Find an open wifi spot begging to be accessed (you're thinking dirty thoughts right now aren't you?)
- Open up putty, type in the IP address (or hostname, see dyndns comment) of your Router's public IP address (you can find it either by logging into your router or--even better--use dyndns to create a static hostname [example johnsmith.dyndns.com instead of an IP address that could change depending on your ISP])
- Before you hit connect (or save your profile for you smart people), drill down into Connection/SSH/Tunnels and type in a source port [can be anything], and select Dynamic and Auto, then "Add".
- Now you can start the session (if that doesn't make any sense, just follow this guy's tutorial), type in your username/password, and voila, you created your own SOCKS back to your machine at home. For those of you with a slow connection, I'd highly recommend selecting "Enable compression" under Connection/SSH menu. You can also get really creative and add another layer of authentication with the use of Keys--some of you advanced linux-winnies should be able to figure that one out on your own.
- If you are familiar with SOCKS, then you know that any application that supports SOCKS will be able to tunnel all it's information back to your machine at home (which then forwards on out to the internet as if you were at home using the application). The tutorial link I provided earlier shows you how to do it with Firefox and GAIM. Poke around any application's settings and usually you can find an area where you can plug in SOCKS information. Just know, you are protecting yourself between your laptop and your machine at home, NOT from your machine out to the internet.
EDIT - Forgot to add one thing that took me a bit to find. If you have been trying to figure out how to get RDP (Windows Remote Desktop) to work with a tunnel, you need to create another tunnel (source: yourpick, destination: yourRDPmachinesPrivateIPaddress:3389 [default port number of RDP], Local, Auto). Then when you open remote desktop, use "127.0.0.1:source_port_you_picked" in the "computer" field. For those of you who don't know how to enable remote desktop (for windows 7 and vista) go here.
Until next time users,
So it's almost been a whole year since my last post on the School to Job transition, and the realities of the "Computer/IT" field. Because of the nature of technology (read: constantly changing/evolving), I thought right now would be a great opportunity to provide an update to this topic--albeit from a biased perspective--for those of you looking to plan your career's (as best you can).
I'm going to assume you've read my older post, so I won't rehash the misconceptions. Instead, this 2nd edition, if you will, is geared towards those who want to know what coming. You could even go so far as to say this post is on job trending and where root thinks what the future will look like.
Before I start, there is something you need to know about me: I hate waste. It's a HUGE pet peeve of mine. I will, no joke, study RPG game manuals and online articles to the nth degree before I started any type of RPG type game. I do this because I know if I started a game and get 75% through it only to find out I could have done it a different (better) way, I'd stop the game and restart it. So when I say "plan your career", this is who you're getting advice from. Not saying that's a bad or good thing, just know who you're listening to |o.O|
Me landing an internship with an outsourcing company was a random fluke. But suddenly I realized I was committed and there are no "restarts" to life (unfortunately). So when I was looking for another job (my current job now), I took stock of what I knew and where I thought the job market was going. Reading the tea leaves if you will.
As a reminder, my job was in storage. Taking a step back and looking at it at a macro level, you can say I'm in the infrastructure business. For you non-IT/professional people (aka students or wannabies), infrastructure is the ground work you lay for applications (i.e. network, storage, servers, backup, etc). And for you business and entrepreneur’s out there, applications support your business.
So to put simply:
Infrastructure supports Applications which support the Business.
Taking this simple formula, though, you need to know two key dynamics: Without infrastructure/applications (ala "IT"), a business can fail. In the enterprise (large businesses) world, replace "can" with "will" (note, this post is focused around the Enterprise space). Second thing you need to know is that the only reason why infrastructure/applications exist is because there is a need for it (business).
There have been various "waves" in the industry that have affected us (IT) greatly. To name just a few: there was the mainframe to open system (centralized and monolithic to decentralized commodity) shift, the internet age (where everything became more accessible and "instant" became an expectation), Outsourcing (jobs moving across boarders or to other companies--or both), etc, etc.
So, as a student (or a planner like me--which ever phase you are in at life), what waves does root expect to hit us? That's the real guts of this post is all about right?
While impossible to say, I think we can make some good educated guesses based on what we know today.
Let's go back to our formula:
Infrastructure supports Applications which support Business.
Personally, I think in 5-10 years, automation will dramatically cut the "Infrastructure" space and only people who understand/dabbed in all things infrastructure (think mile wide, inch deep) will still be around. This is where you hear hot buzz words like "cloud in a box" and "convergence". Cloud computing is one wave that I think is on the horizon and infrastructure people should really be concerned about. Assuming there is support from the top (aka CIO/CEO's) for cloud computing, which there will be eventually in root's opinion, whole IT departments are going to get reorganized. I think cloud and automation will be the next new "outsourcer". Those who don't accept the change will be the first to go.
Application space is a tricky one. Applications come and go, but I think it's fair to say some won't be going away any time soon. Specifically Databases (Oracle/SQL/Data warehousing) and Email (Exchange). Oh, and maybe some of the larger healthcare applications too (like Epic). Anything else is fair game, especially application makers (aka coders).
The interesting (good/stable) jobs are where each of the three areas (infrastructure, applications, business) touch. Someone who understands business needs and translate that into applications/infrastructure is a rare skill. This job, however, requires some experience.
"Get to the f'ing bottom line root."
Here are some conclusions that I've made:
- If you are in infrastructure today, I'd make sure to have a Cisco AND VMware certification. Those are the two big players in the cloud space, regardless of which cloud vender you pick. If you don't have one or the other today, I'd seriously consider getting them. They'll only help you in the long run. The last study I saw, VMware specialist were the hottest things on the market. With the big virtualization pushes out there today, I don't foresee that going away anytime soon--only improving.
- One thing for sure that isn't EVER going away (IMHO) is IT security. I don't foresee that problem ever going away.
- The more areas you learn/touch, the more valuable you'll be (infrastructure/application/business). If you take the mile wide, inch deep approach, you won't put all your eggs in one basket. And anyone who has ever done risk assessments (especially financial), that's a good thing.
- Having technical AND people skills can be gold in many circles (ala sales). And regardless of the latest and greatest new product/wave that comes to market, there will always be a need for people to sell it.
- Don't be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. In fact, I encourage it. I find more and more people staying in their current role for 5 years and then moving on to something new. Again, the more (different) things you know, the higher your own stock goes up and the better chance you have of being valuable in the next wave (whatever that might be).
Until next time my users,
Trailer - "I am Number Four"
Music - "M4 Part 2 (Faunts) by Jack Wall and Sam Hulick"
First off, "I am Number Four" looks like a "Jumper" or "The Covenant". If you thought those movies were good enough for a rental, I think this will be the same. Nothing ground breaking but enough to peak my interest. As for the music, that song plays at the end of Mass Effect and it's such an EPIC moment. A great ending for the game that sets up the tone for the next game. I love the feeling of something epic/timelessness. It's like when you first saw the trailer for halo 2. You know the one:
Come on, I know back in the day you grinned at this trailer like a fool and pump fist'ed it. Master Chief's a badass, it's OK.
So what's with the title root? Well if you know what I mean by being the family tree's Geek, then I've peaked your interest. We are arguably either:
- A genius person who appears to be a master of all things electronic. People older than 60 or younger than 9 bow before us in awe. Bottom line: we do some real Harry Potter s**t.
- A complete du***ss for telling anyone that we know something about computers
As I've told Condar in the past, if you have the computer bug and love to tinker with technology, do not tell your family. At least that's my selfish advise. If you either didn't listen to me or "too late root, thanks", this post is for you.
Recently I mentioned that I've downgraded my dedicated file server to Windows 7 Ultimate (64bit). While tinkering with some applications, I re-discovered hamachi. Hamachi use to be it's own product until Logmein bought them out. I used this application way back when to remotely access my server from work--at least until the network guys figured out what I was doing and blocked it. Then I sort of forgotten about it.
What hamachi does is create a private network between (up to) 16 computers. For the techno nerd, it's a VPN client. For the freshman, it's like opening up your LAN to a computer(s) outside of your LAN. The beauty behind this is that you don't have to open up firewall ports in your router AND all traffic is encrypted.
Since I re-discovered this, I realized there are other applications to this tool other than being able to remote control my server at home via VNC (ala NOT work at work). Since I have a rather nice network pipe now (thanks FIOS!) I can now turn my server into my family's backup server as well as give them streaming access to my media.
For those of you who are pretty savvy with computers, I'll give you the high level steps. For all you others, I'll try and post up a thread on it with screenshots... and add the link to it later in this post.
- Install Hamachi (unmanaged)
- Create a private network and password protect it
- Create a user for, say, your parents and give it a password
- Create a new folder, create a share from the folder, and, under permissions, give the new username full access
- Go to your parent's computer and install hamachi, join the newly created network
- Install FBackup
- Create a backup job and point the "destination" folder to your server's IP address in the hamachi network (/sharename)
- Select the folders you want to backup (I usually just backup the entire user folder ("My Documents and Settings/User" for XP or "Users/User" Vista+)
- Use the username/password you created earlier--test it, it should work
- Schedule it to run every Sunday at 4AM (or w/e)
Assuming you used the defaults, it will create a full backup and then every proceeding backups will be incremental (and if a file accidently get's deleted on your parents machine, it won't delete it from your new backup--even if it go through another backup job). Now there aren't any versioning control on the files for it's a simple point in time copy.
You can also give READ only access to the user and create shares to your media folders. With a big enough network pipe (Upload equal or greater than 10Mbps should be good enough on your "server"--might be able to get away with less) you can stream files using VLC on the clients side (aka parents machine). Since it's an extension of your LAN, it's like viewing any other network share on your LAN.
I even went so far as putting quota's on the user accounts, so they can't use more than the GB I specify. Of course this only works for those people who have a lot of space to spare--some people might not have an 8TB server like I do, so backups might be limited to My Documents/My Pictures folder.
So what the heck does this have to do with being the Family Tree Nerd Herd?
Have you ever ran into the situation where they tried "cleaning" the computer with soap and water and it no longer works? Or they put their refridgerator magnets on it to hold up pictures to it? You know what I'm talking about. The non-Harry Potter people who lose their data and scream at you because they didn't realize hardware fails over time?
Well here's another way to impress them with your Harry Potter skillz.
Until next time my users,
Trailer - Red:
Music Video - Stay (Feat Colette) by JJ Flores & Steve Smooth:
So, life is starting to normalize and I can finally spend the time of day to update my blog. I can't wait for RED to come out, and who doesn't love a good techno song with a sexy vocalist?
Here is what you might have missed....
Cooper (aka Little Ninja) was born on 7/30/2010. For those doing the math, yes, he is a honeymoon baby.
Cute kid, right? Yeah, you wouldn't say that after 1AM, 3AM, 5AM, and 7AM wakeup calls.
I changed jobs/roles/companies and now I'm a vendor. I get to take out customers and smooz them.... and I'm much more happier now.
I've started rock climbing in a gym near my work with a coworker once a week. If you got the energy, I'd highly recommend finding a gym near you. Very fun.
I've made a lot of changes. Got FIOS TV/internet (about 30Mb/s down, 25Mb/s up) and never looked back. BTW it's f'ing awesome. I made the leap on my NAS and switched OS's to Windows 7 too. Mostly because we are getting two ipads for the house and I found an app that can stream my media over wifi--and it requires apple or windows. Oh, and I finally got around to upgrading my wireless network and installed a repeater so we get N everywhere. I tried upgrading my server's memory but ended up frying the mobo some how. That gave my the excuse to upgrade to i5-750, SSD OS drive, and some other badassery hardware. Server is very snappy now
I'll have to post up later on how I've turned my NAS into a backup/streaming server for my entire family. It was fairly easy too.
"Good" - worth matinee/rental prices
"Great" - worth full price
Knight and Day
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Iron Man 2
Aside from my usually long list of TV shows I love (way too many to list them all here), I'd have to say I wasn't too thrilled about the new series this fall. Aside from No Ordinary Family, The Event--and maybe My Generation (although it got axed), there weren't too many good ones. I did see Sherlock on BBC and that looked pretty good but they apparently only came out with 3 episodes.
Undercovers, Terriers, Hellcats, Better with You, Nikita, The Deep, and Hawii Five O are all "OK". Nothing that I'm crazy about seeing the next episode, if you know what I mean.
Still haven't seen Boardwalk, Chase, Mike and Moll4y, and #$%^ my dad says... apparently being a Dad means fewer hours in the day. But I'll review those when I get around to them.
One show that "I can't wait" that's coming this weekend though is the The Glades season finally. That turned out to be a really good show, I hope they keep it--unlike My Boys (sad).
I leave you with comedy. Watch this one (the best is the Koala)
Trailer: Green Zone
Music: "Rude Boy" by Rihanna
Yeah, a little bit different on the music selection this week. But you can't say no to a good beat.
Why oh why does root not learn from his mistakes? The NAS took yet another nose dive again, and I lost a good portion of my media--granted, it's stuff that I can download back, it just takes time. Thank God I had my backup's running smooth, thanks to the last blunder. This time, a drive failed and when I swapped it out, mdadm decided to rebuild the wrong drive.
I'm still scratching my head on that one. Safe to say, no more RAID5. RAID1 from now on.
This week has been crazy. I'm ready for this weekend. We got some free passes to studio movie grill so we'll probably go see Green Zone (see trailer). Looks good. It should satisfy the Bourne side of my brain until the next one gets made.
Speaking of the devil. That's her. Gotta go.
Trailer: The Joneses
Music: "Otros Aires" by Percanta
God I love a good tango song. So I'm a little late to posting (as you may have noticed, I was trying to stick to every Monday). This week I've been at the W attending the Equallogic User Conference. Fantastic hotel, and fantastic conference. If anyone has been to EMC World or Oracle's conference, you'll know it can be MASSIVE. Walking literally a mile to get to your next session. Thousands of people. Etc. Etc. The first ever Equallogic conference was small. I think the total was 90 people, and 60 of those were Dell employees (the company that ownes Equallogic).
The President of the Equallogic basically kicked off the conference with "at every table is someone who helped designed the product. This conference is about you. Tell us what you think. And if anyone tries to sell you something, let me know and I'll have them escorted off the premisis."
So, safe to say, root loved the conference. Loves the product too. Great things will come of it and DCB (Data Center Bridging). DCB and iSCSI. Very interesting concept that has great potential with the combination of CNA's. I can't wait until 10G networks get cheap enough for the average joe like me.
But I have to say, you know you're doing good when the toilet paper in the bathroom is REAL toilet paper. That's the W for you, no expense spared. I've also found real toilet paper in Oceanaire (as well as real hand towels), Sullivan's, and--one of my all time favorites--Kenny's.
This is the true test of fine dining my friends.