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* Posts by Erik4872

88 posts • joined 11 Jan 2011

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vBlock user says EMC bug slipped through VCE's matrix

Erik4872

Fun with integration...

This kind of stuff is actually my job (software/hardware/systems integration.) I don't work for VCE, but I deal a lot with this all-too-typical situation. It's often a huge headache being the "make this stuff work together guy" and adding multiple vendors to the mix all blaming each other just takes it to a whole new level. This job does keep me out of 24/7 ops mode, however I can't tell you how many hours have been spent literally refereeing vendor fights over late night conference calls.

The problem with these integrated stack vendors is that, often, they're so big and unwieldy that Group A who provides the storage array firmware doesn't know that Group B just changed the iSCSI NIC firmware to a rev that's incompatible with Group C's latest compute node hardware rev. The problem rolls up at a human-visible level as "server can't see the storage array" and it takes a lot of troubleshooting to walk back through the entire connectivity tree. So when you get an Oracle Exadata stack, or a VBlock, you get "This recipe worked when we shipped the units." It's slightly easier than trying to marry an HP blade system with a NetApp filer over Juniper switchgear, but you can often run into the exact same problem. If you run into a problem in between recipe releases....that's where the whole "converged system" thing breaks down.

Sometimes the IT exec crowd doesn't realize that there are humans at these companies doing all this work behind the scenes. Humans make typos in documents. Humans also can't test every single little corner case. And when things blow up, you're still relying on humans (a combo of yours and the vendor's) to sit down and figure out what needs to be fixed. One thing that people don't realize is that the squeeze on salaries and entry level IT work dries up the pipeline for truly good systems people. I'm no genius and would never claim to be a "rockstar" or other idiotic term. but doing these kinds of systems integration tasks does require a highly developed troubleshooting skill set. It takes someone with a lot of experience to pull apart a mess and figure out what broke without making the situation worse or losing customer data.

A vendor can sell you a rack-in-the-box, but they need to back that up with talented integration people...and nothing is foolproof. Stuff like this will always happen.

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Clouds gathering above Big Blue's storage empire

Erik4872

Times have changed I guess

"No one ever got fired for buying IBM." I guess that quote isn't going to mean much anymore...

It's too bad, because it's basically a self-fulfilling prophecy. Customers see IBM trying to sell off anything that involves making physical equipment and realize that there isn't much reason to pay the premium for the IBM name anymore. I'm sure low end storage is the next thing to go. We have a fair amount of IBM stuff in our labs and datacenters. It's insanely expensive, and very hard to maintain, but one of the things they do offer is very good on-site service (in my opinion.) We've had situations where they would bend over backwards to get things working again as long as you had a service contract on the equipment. I know most people have had different experiences, but that's what we saw. The problem is that everything is such a disorganized mess from a firmware/documentation/driver perspective that even the service people have trouble finding any information.

It will be very strange to have no physical equipment with an IBM logo on it in a generation, given how completely they used to dominate the computing world.

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Microsoft confirms Office 365 price rise

Erik4872

Looks like they're pulling an Adobe

My assumption is that the next version of Office isn't going to be available stand-alone. It's unfortunate that Microsoft is taking this route. I work for a company that deploys IT stuff in very remote corners of the planet where cloud just doesn't fly. I'm the lone guy sitting in the corner asking server vendors to keep optimizing at least part of their product line for physical OS deployment, and software vendors to not tie their software to the cloud.

The comment about SQL is spot on. We use a systems management tool that requires SQL Server (not System Center...) and the licenses for SQL dwarf the actual cost of the tool, even in Software Assurance SPLA rental mode. Not to mention the fact that Microsoft changed the SQL license terms so that deploying it on physical hardware is obscenely expensive. We had to add ESXi into our customer deployments for that very reason -- it was the difference between licensing 4 virtual cores or 12 physical ones.

Software vendors do know that people are stuck on various applications. Windows and Office are just 2 examples -- Adobe knew they had a lock on the creative market and decided to exploit it. Microsoft is still hybrid for now -- but we'll see what happens!

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Dating app Tinder faces sexual harassment suit from ex-exec co-founder

Erik4872

Brogrammers and women don't mix

Yeah, the "brogrammer" meme is a little silly. But it is appropriate in this case. Especially during this current bubble, these web startups and other tech companies seem to attract this weird hybrid techie-fratboy-salesman type. Maybe it's because that's where all the money is, and you don't have to be a complete nerd to throw together an iPhone app connected to a Ruby backend.

It'll be interesting if the VCs just sweep this under the rug and give this woman a huge payout. Otherwise, we'll probably see some very entertaining emails come to light, and then we can judge who gets most of the blame. The fact remains that tech, especially startups, are overwhelmingly male environments. And there's lots of opportunities for misogynistic behavior...undersocialized nerds on one end, whose only contact with females is in an adult entertainment context, coupled with hypersocialized ex-fratboy "executives." Look at all the allegations with Mark Hurd and various other Oracle slimeballs -- that's probably amateur hour compared to this.[1]

We'll see what happens...should be interesting.

[1] Read the account published in the Mark Hurd case. Granted, it's the victim's side of it, but that guy overloads the creep-o-meter...

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What is it with cloud computing? Engage VM, disengage brain?

Erik4872

It'll calm down eventually.

AWS, Azure and the other cloud hosting services definitely have their place. If you're a startup looking for a way to instantly spin up 20,000 web servers serving monetized cat video streams[1], there's no way to economically do that even in a colocation scenario. Even if you're an established business and have something that can tolerate downtime and isn't mission critical intellectual property stuff, I can see a use case.

The problem is when people doing the infrastructure architecture job in whatever size company begin treating the cloud as a hands-off completely maintenance free resource. I'm in end user computing and have dealt with a few different companies/customers moving their stuff from local desktops to Citrix and VDI. It's the same thing I always tell them -- the problems don't go away. They're shoveled up into the data center, and in the cloud case, into someone else's data center. You need to be prepared to invest the money into smart people who can keep the service from falling over. You may not have to fix as many PCs, but you'll have to deal with the potential for massive outages with hosted application upgrades. In Code Spaces' case, they didn't realize that they had a vulnerability from a security standpoint that would allow an attacker to destroy their entire VM infrastructure plus backups. In AWS' defense, they do warn people to never use the access keys that the attackers use for day-to-day sysadmin tasks.

So many companies are being sold the cloud as a way to get rid of IT staff and synergies and onboarding of opex revenue streams. When you're a startup growing too fast to properly design an infrastructure, or an established company that jettisons all the smart IT people who know how things should work, this is what happens. The truth is that IT infrastructure is brittle, constantly changes, and requires a lot of brainpower to design correctly. Just because AWS or Azure gives you a console that lets you fire up any possible configuration, doesn't mean that you can't use it to design a complete mess.

On-premises installs have the same problem, but can be a little safer since (a) it's under your direct control, and (b) you don't have to get in line with all the other customers when a failure at your provider occurs. Having someone local who knows your particular environment may be more expensive but you're always better off when a disaster happens.

[1] Patent pending on the monetization of cat videos, sorry guys...

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Should you entrust your systems management to the cloud?

Erik4872

Good article

I'm currently working on getting CA's horrible management suite working in an on-premises environment, so I can definitely relate.

All of these systems management tools (SCCM, Altiris, CA IT Client Manager, Tivoli, etc etc etc) are a huge amount of work to get working for most environments. The other problem is that some of them are designed as consultantware -- 60% of the functionality works out of the box. When you go try to set up the other 40%, it's either so poorly documented or has layers of complexity that just aren't worth figuring out on your own, that you need to call the vendor in.

The only two products I've seen that you can get to about 90% functionality without severe teeth-pulling are System Center and Altiris. This is mainly because they generate human-readable log files and the vendors publish OK documentation. The CA tool I'm currently working with is...interesting. Remember Unicenter from the 90s? That product is still there in the core of it all, complete with a fully proprietary communications protocol that only CA seems to know how to debug. Like I said, most of it works, but trying to figure out some of the stranger bits is an absolute pain in the butt (and wallet, if you have to go the consulting route.) Bottom line is that systems management tools are all complex. Some of the newer entries might have less legacy crap gumming up the works, but it's actually a lot of work getting a tool to distribute software, pull inventory, etc. reliably across platforms.

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HP says 'turnaround remains on track', cuts thousands of workers

Erik4872

Re: Political Hatred

> But everyone works that way today in the list of top firms that are over 10 years old.

It is a little crazy. However, it does bring up an interesting thought exercise. What would happen if you suddenly cleaned out _all_ these kinds of positions from large companies? I don't think society could handle that kind of shift overnight.

The entire US middle class economy is based on people collecting a steady paycheck over 30 years to pay back a mortgage on a house. We're starting to see major cracks in that model. The vast majority of people aren't building software startups in their basements. They're getting up every morning, driving to work and performing one of these cut-and-paste jobs. They get paid, pay their mortgage and taxes, and buy things, which makes the larger economy go round. Individual productivity is insane compared to the 60s or 70s -- before computers and email, secretaries were typing memos for managers. There was a whole fleet of management that existed simply to route reports from one layer to another, since there wasn't any email or word processing. I'm guessing that a lot of these previous occupations were absorbed into the cut-and-paste work, but for those who can't even handle that, the options are pretty bad.

As the number of well-paying jobs decreases, I doubt people are going to become wildly successful entrepreneurs overnight. Most don't have the skills or work ethic necessary. I think for now we should be glad that there are people in these jobs so that the economy doesn't crater overnight. Until we somehow get beyond the necessity to work for money to buy stuff to get companies to make more stuff, I think we're stuck with some inefficiency.

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Erik4872

Wow, PC sales actually grew?

We're HP customers -- we buy a fair amount of PCs, printers, laptops, servers, etc. from them, and I'm sure this latest layoff round is just a small correction. I don't know how many rotating account managers we've had in the last few years, and it seems that anything sales-related that doesn't involve clicking Buy it Now from a reseller has a massive internal bureaucracy attached to it.

The news about the server division isn't so great though. Despite all things cloudy, we're still purchasing a good number of standalone servers, PCs, etc. for applications that actually need on-site stuff. I'd hate to see them abandon this market, because not everyone is on public cloud or has a data center full of white box servers with the maintenance staff to take care of them. I'm guessing a lot of the bleeding is from the Itanium thing. HP needs to cut its losses and just port HP-UX and the NonStop OS to souped-up ProLiants. Now that they've basically been outed by Oracle for funding the development of Itanium after Intel realized there was no future, I'm sure there are a lot of large customers deciding to go with another vendor while they wait this one out. (It's too bad - I can't imagine the amount of sunk cost HP would have to swallow for abandoning Itanium.)

The other thing that might be happening with the extra layoffs is knocking off a few layers of management at EDS, or cutting loose some of the people from bad acquisitions like Autonomy. Hopefully they make the right decisions about where to cut -- when you get down to the "individual employee" level, there are some very smart people still working at HP. But like any big company, they collect a lot of dead wood. (That's my unofficial goal for the second half of my career -- don't end up dead wood.) :-)

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Google: The Internet of Things to become the Internet of ADVERTS ON YOUR THERMOSTAT

Erik4872

It'll only take another generation

One thing that I've noticed is that Millenials are used to ad content and most of them don't seem to mind it. I guess it makes sense when you consume most of your media from an advertising-supported Internet. So, I give this future one or two more generations before it at least partially comes to pass. Crotchety 35 year olds like me apparently don't represent the future. :-)

Personally I find advertising very annoying, but I can ignore it. I also don't see the effectiveness. I can't think of the last time I actively paid attention to an ad, and I've never bought anything based solely on an advertisement. Even the "vendor deep dive white papers" that the software/hardware companies love to pass off as educational material aren't effective -- You look at the title, read the first paragraph, and see "Oh, here's an introduction to BYOD, OK, it must be an ad for Citrix or some mobile device management platform."

Does anyone buy stuff because an advertisement tells them to??

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Job for IT generalist ...

Erik4872

PM? Not if you actually like doing the work

You mention your generalist status as something that prevents you from getting work. And in a "traditional" company I'd say you're right. However, why not seek out a company that needs your kind of skills? You have lots of strengths as a generalist -- I can't believe how many people I know and work with who have been pigeonholed into an extremely specific job function at a large company. True IT generalists, defined as people who are flexible enough to learn new things fast, are sought after, but unfortunately the flashy "SAP genius" or "Oracle performance tuning rockstar" gets all the glory in most companies. This is because most companies don't do IT as their main business...they prefer to bring in the rockstars as needed, so they advertise for them.

IT services companies love people like us. Well, maybe not "love," but they do staff most projects with a couple good people to offset the wastes of oxygen that the customer sees. My employer values my skillset and that of our group because we are the sorts of people who will dig into a system and figure out what's what, regardless of whose job it's supposed to be. I've been with my current employer for almost 10 years (I even left and came back!) and my job has never been the same for more than a few months. Since I'm the kind of person who likes to get involved with everything, I get assigned challenging work and it's always different. My experience over my career has been that you really can't learn everything about all aspects of technology, but you _can_ work on one aspect, do a project or two with it, move on, then come back later. I've done this with Citrix, working on 3 different versions of the product, and jumping to something else when the time came. Being a generalist, and knowing enough concepts and fundamentals makes it easy to pick up new stuff. I'm currently fixing a horribly broken implementation of CA's client management tools for a customer, and it's clear that these tools are so poorly documented that they could generate several full time jobs' worth of effort to maintain them. Specialists would relish this, because they could just implement the same tricks over and over again once they learned them (cough SAP cough). The problem is that being a specialist could mean you're stuck when the product isn't useful anymore, and you don't have the flexibility to adapt.

Some people are suggesting PM work. I strongly recommend against that if you actually want to keep doing technical work. PMs, although incredibly important, are glorified secretaries that beat you over the head with Gantt charts. You just boss around the people doing the work, and don't do anything yourself. I would say you should find a consultancy / IT services firm (preferably small to mid sized) and sell yourself as a flexible fast learner. Just because the SAP guys are billing $300+ an hour doesn't mean you can't make a decent living doing more interesting stuff. Bonus points for you if you can actually talk to the execs in their language.

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WORLD LOSES MIND: Uber valued at TEN BEEELLION DOLLARS, Pinterest pegged at $5bn

Erik4872

Re: 1999 called...

You forgot to mention social, Internet of Things and Big Data. All on a Hadoop cluster.

(And yes, I'm well aware that there are plenty of actual uses for "Big Data" outside of marketing buzzword land, but it just used to be called Data Analytics or something boring like that.)

This time it's different.

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Erik4872

1999 called...

...and they want their bubble back.

I seriously didn't think, even with all the available capital out there now, that we would do a complete rehash of the dotcom bubble, but here we are. All that's missing are the sock puppets.

I understand this is just the investment banks, VCs and startup founders trying to not be the last one holding the bag, just like last time, but stuff like this is pretty crazy.

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Apple tips Shiraz down all its techies' throats (that's the rumoured name for OS X 10.10)

Erik4872

Worked great for Windows 8, right?

I figured that an iOS-ification of OSX was coming, but I didn't know it would be done in one shot like this.

We'll see what happens - one of the strengths of the Mac, even with recent drastic OS changes, is that the basic user interface elements work the same way. The keyboard shortcuts, etc. haven't changed since 1984. Apple had always been willing to break backward-compatibility but never backward-familarity.

Maybe they haven't been listening to the vocal complaints about Windows 8's redesign. Even among those of us who don't mind the Start screen and all the Metro junk, some of us miss the Windows 7 user interface chrome. I want Aero Glass to make a return in Windows 9, but I doubt that's happening.

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Microsoft: You know we said NO MORE XP PATCHES? Well ...

Erik4872

Re: Oracle did this with JRE 6 for a while.

True -- if you're a paying customer who bought a support agreement. My Oracle Support has the non-free JRE 6 patches, but the last public one was 45. So it's true that they haven't stopped -- they just stopped giving them away for free.

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Erik4872

Oracle did this with JRE 6 for a while.

When JRE 6 went end of support last year, Oracle released a few more security patches for the more serious bugs. They eventually stopped, as I'm sure Microsoft will, but just like XP there's a huge installed base. And in the case of JRE, some crappy web applications limit a company's ability to upgrade the Java that's providing the browser plugins for fear of breaking said crappy applications.

If they keep going with this, the people who bought custom support agreements at full price are going to start getting very upset...

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Hey cloud providers, HP wants your server biz back: Here's one we made earlier in Far East

Erik4872

Bye bye x86 server innovation...

So basically, they're taking a white box server chassis, slapping "ProLiant" on the side and selling it for 10% of the price of a real ProLiant? Interesting strategy.

I hope HP continues to build good kit for those of us who have distributed deployments and can't throw everything into the cloud. Boxes that come with a warranty come in really handy when you're a few thousand miles away or don't have an army of little yellow minions swapping out parts in your 1000 acre data center. It seems like they'll continue making high end boxes, but I wonder how low they're going to go for customers who really don't care about reliability.

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Systems meltdown plunges US immigration courts into pen-and-paper stone age

Erik4872

Outsourced IT strikes again?

I've seen stuff like this happen at both public and private sector companies. The IT is outsourced then sub sub sub subcontracted out to the absolute lowest bidder. And in the process, all the management and monitoring that the customer is paying for gets lost along the way. We just had the IT outsourcer for our company ignore a couple of device failures for a key server, and it was only noticed when people started saying "Hey, I can't get into XYZ application anymore." Going back through the logs, a drive failure happened 8 months ago, followed by another one just now. Combine this with the fact that the server's backup was being written to a full NAS, and the logging clearly indicated that.

It's not just big government contracts -- it's the whole outsourcing process.

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Molyneux: Working at Microsoft is 'like taking antidepressants'

Erik4872

Some good points, but missed the mark a little.

I would say that comparing working at Microsoft to being on antidepressants kind of misses the mark. Not everyone is lucky enough to be in a situation where they can just start up a business and if it tanks, oh well. People with lives outside of work and obligations like the idea of stability. Not everyone is a single guy in their 20s with no ties to anyone or anything else who wants to do nothing but work on their startup.

Also, the comments aren't just applicable to Microsoft -- any large corporate entity is like this on the "official" side. I work in a product engineering group of an extremely large, extremely bureaucratic organization. Things happen quickly around here, but getting anything we do out to the rest of the world is a very slow process. Some people can't handle that -- I admit that some of the stuff I've seen drives me nuts sometimes. We sometimes lose people hired from outside because they just don't get the fact that they need to work within a very strange framework if they want to get stuff done. But...I get to do interesting product design work, I still work hard (and get rewarded for it) and I get a regular paycheck as a bonus.

Some people can do good work in a large organization -- if they're motivated and stick with their tasks when the processes and procedures get maddening. Others who are naturally slackers or get fed up easily learn quickly that they don't have to try too hard to stay employed as long as there are no major staff purges. Look at places like HP and IBM who routinely blow out thousands of people in a shot. Some of it is corporate stock price stupidity, but I guarantee there are tons of people who get laid off simply because they're dead wood. Everyone's seen situations where a department has been wiped out or is now irrelevant but people who were there are still working.

I just think it's the wrong metaphor. Startup culture isn't for everyone. And as you get older, stability starts looking really good as you collect responsibilities along the way.

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Airbnb might get $10bn price tag ... despite its legal woes

Erik4872

Holy bubble, Batman

Seriously, all we need is the pets.com sock puppet and it'll be early 2000 all over again.

Except now it's not just "do xyz on the Internet," it's "do xyz on the Internet, but...social media!!!!! Facebook!!!! Twitter!!!!!! Instagram!!!!!!!!!!!! Pinterest!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

This is completely unbelievable, and I'm really surprised that people haven't learned their lesson from the dotcom crash. Oh well, I was fine last time when the dust settled.

No Aeron chairs or dirt-cheap hardware on eBay this time though...

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VMware drops vSphere 5.5 Update 1 into sysadmins' laps

Erik4872

Wasn't HTML5 supposed to save us by now??

It's always amusing to watch software companies try to shoehorn a rich client interface into a web browser. Every enterprisey management tool I've used that has both options has had a Web client that's a big ball of fail without something like Flash or Java to prop it up. Most usually roll out a web-only client for a version or two, then realize they need some client-side intelligence and use the easiest option available.

I'm not saying it can't be done (Microsoft's Azure portal is actually really nice...for a web client.) But it's rare that you see a web client that's preferred over the desktop version. I've used VSphere's rich and web clients, and unfortunately I still like the Windows client better. With 5.x, unless I use the CLI for everything I really don't have that option anymore if I want to configure anything "new." One of the nice things about a local client is feedback when you're accessing something over a low-speed or high-latency connection -- you can be sure you clicked something rather than thinking "Is that Flash acting up again, or did it actually go through?"

Maybe I'm just old, but I like the responsiveness of a GUI that has at least some local intelligence. HTML5 is a good step in the right direction, but it's amazing how much the traditional GUI application is being stuffed into the confines of a web browser.

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IBM to shutter Greenock x86 line after sale to Lenovo - reports

Erik4872

New York's facilities are next

IBM's original home state of New York is probably going to get hit too. They have a huge research facility in Poughkeepsie which may or may not get killed, and a chip fab in East Fishkill that will almost certainly go when they dump their semiconductor business. Pretty soon all they will actually manufacture is mainframes and UNIX boxes, so they don't need as much research or chip capacity for that. I thought one of the reasons they were keeping non-Chinese manufacturing facilities was for customers in government/military/intelligence who demanded US-made, US-assembled equipment. Maybe something similar was happening with this UK facility?

They're well on their way to becoming Accenture/KPMG/PWC...and it's too bad. From what I've heard IBM used to be a very good place to spend an entire career. Not so much anymore.

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Microsoft dangles carrot at SMEs, eases Windows 8 Enterprise licensing

Erik4872

It's not just side loading!

As a previous poster mentioned, MS got greedy and started pulling "enterprisey" features out of Pro to entice people to sign Software Assurance agreements. This is actually a good thing for us. Enterprise supports these features that you no longer get in Pro:

- AppLocker

- Windows to Go

- DirectAccess

- BranchCache

- RemoteFX support (for VDI stuff)

- NFS services

They did something similar with Windows 7, but more features were available in Pro. In 7, they reserved multiingual OS support for the Enterprise Edition -- which we need to support some of our customers, since we're not all native speakers of the languages they use. We really don't care about side loading apps (and I doubt most companies do at least at this stage) but we really need some of these features for support.

Maybe this means Microsoft is realizing that not everyone is going to jump on the software rental treadmill. Next thing I'd like to see is MDOP available to purchase outside of SA...we need it!

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Q: Just why are AT&T, banks snubbing kit from Cisco & co? A: Control

Erik4872

Interesting....

...Microsoft also reduced prices on OS licensing to woo low-end tablet manufacturers. I think Cisco is just coming back down to reality and noticing that people aren't necessarily selecting their stuff as the only choice anymore. Maybe this means no more insane list prices for basic network hardware? Naah...

The things I see Cisco, Microsoft, HP, etc. providing to businesses that they can charge a premium for are:

- Service and support

- A stable platform with a known release schedule that doesn't throw in the latest new cool thing just for fun

- A well-known product supported by many IT pros with a training and certification program to at least give you a starting point evaluating candidates

The problem with all these vendors is that these things have been watered down over time in pursuit of higher license profits. Cisco can't just keep commanding the premium pricing it does and not give businesses what they're looking for. Eventually even the execs start noticing.

My personal favorite with Cisco these days is that they ship equipment that's intentionally crippled until you pay for feature licenses. One set of SSL VPN license features I saw at work cost almost $25K for a piece of paper with a serial number on it...in addition to the actual hardware which was incredibly expensive for what it was. We haven't even started looking at the Cisco UCS server hardware yet just because we know it's going to be insanely expensive and require $$$ in ongoing maintenance contracts.

There is something to be said for having a source of trained individuals though...if that training program is decent. I work with a very niche-market systems management product from a very large enterprisey software vendor, and it is very difficult to find anyone who knows about the particular quirks of the product. It doesn't help that this particular vendor doesn't provide good documentation or even a product that can work out of the box with most environments, or that the core of the product is almost 20 years old and all the top-layer cool stuff is wrapped around a completely proprietary protocol stack from the 90s. If I were using something like System Center, there's Microsoft certified individuals who know the product, an active user community and easy access to help. Right now, our only source of help is the enterprisey vendor's "professional services" teams...groan.

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Microsoft may slash price of Windows 8.1 on cheap 'slabs

Erik4872

New downward price pressure on PCs...

As someone with family members who insist on buying the crappiest, cheapest PCs and laptops they can find at Best Buy, this worries me a little. I wonder if manufacturers are going to try to shoehorn a working PC into a less-than-$250 price point.

The horrors of the low end PC market like the HP Pavillion range are what I'm thinking about. Some of this stuff reminds me of the Packard Bell PCs from the mid-90s. Every single corner will be cut to force it into that magic number so they don't have to pay as much for Windows. My mom, for example, never listens to me and keeps buying these pieces of junk every few years because it's too frustrating to even try to make a warranty claim. Plus, the most I've ever seen on these is a partial 1-year "ship it to us and maybe you'll get a working PC back" warranty.

I also have to deal with these things when small-business-owning friends ask me to "look at" their office PC. More often than not, it's one of these 11-pound 17" "media laptops" that was $499 at Best Buy, loaded with crapware and with very poor driver support.

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Oracle scores mixed bag in Rimini Street software IP 'theft' ruling

Erik4872

Enterprise software licensing is so much fun...

It sounds like these guys were just taking advantage of Oracle's very liberal _access_ to their software, but not paying for the _support contracts_ that need to go along with it.

In my experience, Oracle and CA have the most open access to their software. If you have any sort of support contract, for any product, you can download the major point releases of any other product. So if anyone has a burning desire to run an instance of PeopleSoft in their basement, they can do it as long as they're not making money off of it or benefiting from it at all. You need support contracts to access the (usually required) patches, fixes, and documentation corrections to get anything working.

The problems come when you actually need to use the software in production. If you aren't 100% licensed, and need help, you're in trouble. Oracle and CA's software almost always needs an army of "professional services" folks to get things tuned properly because the documentation is so awful. These guys will do the work, but they'll also scan your environment and see what isn't licensed properly. It's one thing if you're a company and, oops, you installed Oracle Enterprise Edition when you only paid for Standard Edition, but when you're reselling access to unlicensed software, I guess you wind up in court like these guys did.

With all the IP cases going around about hardware vendors locking up access to firmware, software companies denying patches without support contracts, etc. it will be interesting to see whether cases like this one will keep popping up. Other enterprisey vendors like SAP totally lock everything down now -- so I wonder if Oracle and the like will follow suit.

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Server tech is BORING these days. Where's all the shiny new goodies?

Erik4872

Maybe it's just the cloud marketing?

Even if it's not the reality for many companies, I think that a lot of the traditional server vendors are spooked about the rise of the whitebox cloud data centers. When Joe Random CIO of a 100-person company reads a magazine article or Gartner report about Open Compute Project, and Facebook running on thousands of no-name servers, maybe HP and IBM are afraid that they'll ditch their gear for better or worse. Then, they declare that the cloud wins, and stop innovating on the standalone server market. After that, it's a race to the bottom to see how cheaply they can put out the latest System x or ProLiant box...we're already seeing this in my company that buys low- to midgrade servers for projects.

Just like the PC world, however, there is still some innovation going on at the high end of the market. IBM and HP have some interesting things in their 4+ socket monster boxes. But IBM just sold that business to Lenovo, the ultimate low-margin box shifter. Cloud economics aside, you always get what you pay for. Whitebox stuff is fine as long as you pay a fleet of people to keep them running and invest in your own management tools. Vendor backed stuff gives you the luxury of a warranty and the research they pour into new hardware designs.

0
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Report: IBM to peddle its chip wing

Erik4872

Re: Is there some master plan in Wall Street...

"Suggesting that IBM don't have the required in house talent suggests that you have no experience of IBM in house."

Admittedly I don't, but from the outside, it looks like IBM is trying to become another Accenture, BCG, etc. I find it hard to believe that the market can absorb yet another snake-oil peddling "consulting firm" as well as losing another hardware manufacturer. That's one thing I worry about in the PC and server markets -- fewer companies fighting over lower margins means they'll just stop doing anything cool and figure out the best way to squeeze a $299 price point out of a 4-socket Xeon box with 2 TB of RAM.

Watson is really cool technology, but how is IBM going to make money selling "decision support" and other stuff? More importantly, where will the next hardware innovations come from? Startups are cool and sexy, but sometimes you need a company as massive as an IBM to invest the kind of money needed to make huge changes. Oh, and keep half a million people employed...

2
0
Erik4872

International Business...?

I've read elsewhere that IBM is doing all of this bloodletting simply to get their earnings per share to reach $20 by some target date. I guess my question is what will be left of the company after that's done.

The thing that's a little scary about all this "let's get rid of those pesky Machines our International Business division manufactures" stuff is that they're really betting that software and services will be more profitable. IBM has been known in the past to be right about some of its predictions, like the commoditization of the PC marketplace. But they've been known to be wrong too.

The other thing that might happen is that their Research division will be clobbered because there will be no physical products or manufacturing processes to improve. And if they farm out semiconductors, they lose control of their ability to fab mainframe and POWER chips themselves. IBM's one of the last companies with enough resources and (I thought) forethought to support basic research.

I don't know, core competencies this, brave new world that...but divesting yourself of any physical products just to chase software profits doesn't seem like a good long term strategy. I guess I'm an old fogey, but I do remember when IBM was completely unstoppable and they employed way more people than they do now. It's going to be very weird having the next generation not seeing anything with an IBM logo on it and associating them with crappy outsourcing and WebSphere.

18
1

Lenovo and IBM's System x biz: It'll be just like 2005's PC buyout

Erik4872

Hope it goes smoothly

I've had very good luck with System x support. Actually doing business with IBM is very difficult and it seems you need to contact an army of reseller staff just to place an order. Maybe Lenovo can fix this. I think that swapping out all those "expensive" US support folks I talk to would be a very bad idea, since being able to talk to a knowledgeable CE and support tech is one of the main reasons to spend the extra money on a System x machine. I know a lot of people have different experiences, but for me, once I get through the nightmare of firmware and driver hell, the equipment itself seems to be well made and just run forever. As long as you don't touch firmware. :-)

If you buy a "real" ThinkPad with an onsite service warranty from Lenovo, you still get IBM's support model. And I think Lenovo has done a decent job turning around IBM's PC division. It's only recently (last 2 generations) that they've started messing with the original design of the laptop. I'm not a big fan since it's obvious they're just trying to copy Apple. But I'm not alone in not liking the new designs, so hopefully Lenovo will NOT be like IBM in the sense that they'll listen to customer feedback.

Lenovo: I want my physical trackpoint buttons back on my new T540p!!!

0
0

It was inevitable: Lenovo stumps up $2.3bn for IBM System x server biz

Erik4872

Hope they don't mess it up...

Well, I guess it was inevitable, but it's definitely a shift. Now that IBM is out of the retail POS business, the printer business, the disk drive business, the PC business, AND the server business, it's going to be very hard to point to an end-user facing "business machine" that would convey the IBM brand.

I hope Lenovo actually plans on innovating at the high end of the server line like IBM did rather than just dumbing everything down to commodity boxes. There are still quite a few workloads that don't really belong on a cloud, and having some of IBM's monster System x boxes to virtualize stuff on is helpful.

One thing I did like about IBM was that, even though their support site is crap, if you had a contract they would bend over backwards to make sure things worked. Lenovo did keep business support for their non-consumer desktops in the US, and I've had nothing but good luck calling up and asking questions. IBM's System x phone support has been some of the best I've dealt with and I hope Lenovo keeps those knowledgeable guys in Atlanta employed. Plus, it's nice having a CE who actually knows about the equipment they're working on.

I'm mostly happy with the way Lenovo handled the PC transition, but I sharply disagree with their consumerization trend on the high-end ThinkPads I love to use. My last IBM-style ThinkPad died (the T510) and I just purchased a T540 from them...they're chasing Apple and the low-end consumer laptop crowd at the same time with this new design. Let's hope this doesn't spill over into the System x line.

So what does IBM actually do now? :-) (Yes, I know they do a ton of stuff...but your average consumer now will have no idea who they are. Kind of like Accenture or their ilk.)

0
0

Amazon workers in Delaware reject trade union membership

Erik4872

Re: Typical....What makes Amazon great is what low skilled want to hinder.

"Every employee is free to quit if they feel unappreciated or not paid what they are worth."

"Amazon better get cracking on replacing them with robots IMO."

Sure, it's low skill work now, and it's nice to think that we're all above that. But the reality is that automation is coming for us knowledge workers as well. Will you be singing the same tune when 80+% of the office jobs out there are wiped out and you can't even fall back on low skill jobs anymore?

Also, I know it's fashionable to call these people lazy and entitled, but read some of the stories. Amazon deliberately sets up the working conditions so they attract the most exploitable workforce. Some of the distribution centers in Kansas, Nebraska or whatever are the only employers for miles around, so these workers can't just go to the warehouse down the road. Since they're low-skill workers, there's not too many options outside of fast food or similar work either. Remember, us knowledge workers are very privileged right now compared to the rest of society. Whether that remains the case in the next 10, 20 years will be a very interesting experiment to watch.

Not everyone has the brains, people skills, and sheer insanity required to be in business for themselves.

4
0
Erik4872

Propaganda wins

I think IT would do well with a professional organization rather than a traditional union. How are American doctors' salaries maintained? The AMA controls the labor supply by controlling medical school admissions. Look at what happened with the Bar Association opening the field for law schools -- now new law grads can't get a job. In the case of the Amazon workers, a traditional union would be good to at least force management to provide something beyond the bare minimum OSHA requirements for the job. For IT, minimum training standards and the ability to push back on unreasonable requests for professional reasons would really improve things.

If you read any of the accounts of Amazon's warehouse working conditions, especially around holidays, you'd probably think they were crazy to not unionize. One thing I have noticed over the years is that the right wing has slowly bled over from the management to the labor side, and labor is now believing the anti-union propaganda. I think it might be a Fox News thing.

Any time I've heard a story about unions in the past few years, the following points keep getting hammered home:

- They're all corrupt/in bed with the mafia

- They promote mediocrity because of collective bargaining

- They only exist to serve their leadership

And of course, Joe Average Worker thinks he's 10x better than his peers and couldn't possibly need a union. "Why would I ever want to get lumped in with my colleagues?" he says -- then watches management outsource his job to the lowest-wage country that week with no retaliation. (No, being a Rust Belt kid and watching the city I live in disintegrate in the 80s has nothing to do with my feelings on this. :-) )

I've been very lucky and work for decent employers. When they eventually lose their marbles and stop being decent, I move on. But IMO it's a good idea to keep people (especially knowledge workers) working at a place for a long stretch. I also know that most employers are pretty evil, especially when the workers have zero leverage.

9
3

Intel shutters BRAND NEW chip factory as PC market storm rages

Erik4872

Desktops aren't dead, they're just resting!

Everyone posting so far is right -- desktops have finally reached the point where most people won't notice the speed bump afforded by a new processor. One person mentioned SATA's availability as the turning point...I think the point was actually when multicore came out. When you have one or more cores available just to run the background stuff that a Windows machine needs (like bloated AV software,) even a low end system becomes usable.

Tablets are going to kill a lot of the PC market, but I think desktops and laptops still have their place in business. Even typing emails on the average phone or tablet is a much less productive experience than the same task on a PC. The bloodbath is coming simply because the 3 year maintenance cycle on PCs is over. I do end user computing stuff for my job and regularly deal with HP, Lenovo, Dell, etc. There is a HUGE amount of overhead in their business PC divisions...VPs of nothing, endless revolving-door account managers, project coordinators, analysts, marketing guys...... That overhead was supported by BigCo, MassiveMart and OmniGloboCorp buying 100,000 new PCs each, every 3 years.

My job in end user computing leads me to believe that corporate types still use desktops/laptops to do actual work. An exec might view sales dashboards and stuff on a tablet, but execs generally don't create content themselves.

1
1

HP clampdown on 'unauthorised' server fixing to start in January

Erik4872

Re: That settles it. HP is in deep do-do

> They will find that this stunt backfires on them big time.

I suspect you're right, but we'll see how badly customers react to it. In my opinion, even if I didn't need firmware updates for a product, just knowing HP wasn't going to lock me into a support contract the way Oracle, IBM, etc. do would probably add another checkbox on the "pro" side when considering what hardware vendor to go with.

.

Problem is that HP knows big enterprisey customers do one of two things with hardware when the warranty expires:

- Call the scrap dealer and roll in new hardware

- If you can't replace it, extend the warranty until you can't, then call the scrap dealer.

If they're nice about it and just let you enter any ProLiant serial number to pull down any update you need, then this may be no big deal. But, if you have to leave your server connected to the Internet all the time to phone home to HP's hardware monitoring service, or you need to know the exact serial number of the P420 array controller installed in one of your servers to get an upgrade for it, that's just going to piss people off.

The funny thing is that this goes in cycles with proprietary hardware and software vendors. Big software shops are a mixed bag. Microsoft Office and Windows are heavily policed license wise while their server products are open. Oracle basically says, "Here, have full point releases of our products. Patches aren't free, and God help you if we find you're running underlicensed in production." CA does a mix in all their hodgepodge of products. Cisco just recently got tougher on IOS entitlements but was previously pretty open. SAP is insanely fortressed off -- I have to beg customers our company does integration work for to collect SAP support notes and software from the support site because we can't get access. So HP isn't alone on the "we don't give anything for free" front, but it's not universal.

3
0
Erik4872

Wow

First legacy stuff, now current stuff? That was fast...

I wonder how this is going to be implemented. HP was always helpful in that you could browse their website and pull down individual updates or the entire SPP (or what used to be called SmartStart/PSP) for free. I guess this explains the little cautionary messages I've seen popping up when downloading drivers saying that they're provided only for registered owners with valid warranties.

I guess we're going to have to keep maintenance contracts in force for our hodgepodge lab or just go without updates...

It'll be interesting to see how this plays out. AFAIK Dell and IBM still give out updates to anyone. I didn't know there was a huge gray market repair business...I use the free access to drivers/firmware just because our company has a "diverse" set of equipment that our group ends up supporting whether we like it or not.

5
0

HP: A firmware update is just for Christmas, not for EVA

Erik4872

Tough call

On one hand, you can't just produce firmware upgrades for free, but on the other, a mature product like the EVA probably has a very small team dedicated to maintenance that doesn't need huge cash infusions to keep going.

This trend is just the continuation of other proprietary hardware vendors' policies. Sun and later Oracle stopped giving away free firmware updates for their kit. Cisco has always required you to have _a_ service contract for _some_ device to get access to firmware, and lately they've been cleaning up their access policies to at least warn you that you're not specifically entitled to firmware you're looking at. IBM has started doing this with their storage hardware too -- you now need a serial number to download anything, and I imagine a service contract check is next.

I think security updates should be provided to anyone, to the extent that the company decides to fix bugs in older hardware. Enhancements are another story...I work with a lot of LSI and IBM storage gear with very extensible controllers, and they keep rolling out features in firmware without changing the physical box. That said, I've seen software companies patch products (or pieces of products) that are positively ancient if they have a customer willing to pay the money. It's tough - those of us who buy lots of stuff off eBay and bankruptcy sales like the ability to at least update it to the point it was at before support got dropped. But it's not free.

1
0

IT bods: Windows XP, we WON'T leave you. Migrate? Chuh! As if...

Erik4872

Re: I believe it

ClassicShell, Start8, etc. are fine for personal use, but I know large companies aren't interested in spending an extra $x per computer just to have a feature back that Microsoft took away. Multiply the neighbor's computer by 40,000 and you are talking real money.

I think that if they bring back enough of the old UI, and offer a very attractive upgrade price (maybe even free or really cheap,) that would get the people who are holding out because of UI changes or money issues to switch. The tougher nuts to crack will be all the large companies running wierdo legacy applications that have no hope of working with IE 8 or the other new features modern Windows and Office versions offer.

One thing I wish Microsoft would do is issue one last patch rollup for XP, the way they did with NT in the last year of support. They wouldn't even have to call it a service pack, but maybe they could turn on a few security features by default, etc. and say, "Well, if you're going to keep going with this, at least start from the last known good patchset." There have been hundreds of patches since SP3 rolled out, and this would at least make sure people have those installed.

7
0
Erik4872

I believe it

What a lot of industry pundits don't mention when breathlessly talking about XP's demise is the sheer amount of dependencies that XP and its included components (IE 6, et al) have in large organizations. The XP-to-7-or-8 transition is even more painful from the NT-to-XP transition I lived through ages ago. One of the reasons is the plethora of "web apps with big chunks of client-side code" that were prevalent in the early 2000s. In vertical markets (banking, insurance, transport, whatever) there are many applications that only work with the specific quirks of IE 6, and are too expensive or impossible to reasonably upgrade. Oracle's Forms-based ERP applications are famous for this, and it's very hard to justify upgrading the ERP application because the clients have changed. It's the same reason you see Office 97 in use in some places -- "some guy" wrote an Excel macro or Access database that stores a department's core business logic and it's too convoluted to upgrade.

I imagine that everyone will eventually bite the bullet and move, or virtualize all the XP desktops and lock them behind 5 firewalls with no access to anything other than QuirkyApp 3.0.0.20.3762. But it's going to be painful, especially in industries where they're notoriously stingy with IT dollars. Even moving the workloads to Windows 7 + XP Mode doesn't help you, because now you have a vulnerable VM sitting alongside your supported OS.

If rumors are true, and Windows 8.2 allows a "regular desktop" interface, that may help people make the move. Personally, I want all the under-the-hood improvements of Windows 8 PLUS the Windows 7 "classic" UI back, then I'll be happy.

Microsoft does offer patch support for an exorbitant fee, plus a promise from you that you are actually moving off XP, plus an annual increase in said fee to incentivize you. Oracle is also doing something similar for JRE 6 customers -- if you're a support customer, they're still patching bugs even though the last public version is months old (support ended in February.)

10
0

Fisher-Price in hot seat: iPad bouncy chair lets APPLE BABYSIT tots – parents

Erik4872

Re: Oh, rilly?

Good thing you put "parents" in quotes.

I think the bigger issue is that devices like this signal to the dumber parents / those who don't give a damn that it's OK to completely abandon your kids to devices like this. If you don't have kids or don't interact with a wide cross section of families, you might want to look at what's going on lately.

Electronics are fine in small doses, when appropriate, and when combined with parental interaction. Strapping your kid to an iPad is not.

2
1
Erik4872

Extremely sad

I have 2 young kids, one 3 years old and the other 6 months. I would never consider buying anything like this for them. Sure, it's a free market and all, but this thing making it to market shows that parenting is in a pretty sad state.

I'm not claiming to be a super parent by any means, but anyone who has little kids and gives a crap about them knows how incredibly hard it is to balance work, interaction with the kids, household tasks and the occasional 15 minutes to do something for yourself (like take a shower. :-) ) The wife and I both work, she has an awful commute on top of that, yet we still find the time to stay fully engaged with the kids whenever we're home. Does that make us evil Nazi parents who shun all electronic devices? Of course not -- our 3 year old loves to borrow the iPhone or watch the occasional show on the computer. The difference is that we don't stuff them in front of their devices and go off to do our own things. I sure don't love the fact that I have to give up what little sleep I have to keep my IT skills up after bedtimes, but this is what we signed up for. Parents who don't get that produce the kind of kids that make you wish they handed out parenting licenses.

The sad truth is that there are a lot of parents out there who shouldn't have had kids, because it cuts into their lifestyle too much and they can't handle it. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the sanctimonious uber-parents who give you a dirty look when your kid is watching a video while waiting for dinner at a restaurant. I can only offer anecdotes, but it looks like my older kid is turning out pretty well compared to the others you sometimes see with the drugged look on their face plugged into the iPad.

The American Academy of Pediatrics came out with a paper a few years ago that basically discounted any educational benefits of TV and computer use before age 2. They recommended completely withholding TV, etc. until at least age 2, and I'm sure they said that because there were a majority of parents who think this "Apple-Acquired Content IV Chair" is an awesome idea. Moderation, folks...talk to your kids, read to them, play with them...you know, be their mom/dad.

And oh yes, I grew up in the 70s/80s when they said TV was rotting our brains. Don't forget that TV was passive, there were a maximum of 5 or 6 channels before cable came out, and there wasn't tons of kids' programming either. Now the first Facebook generation is having kids -- I can't wait to see the socail experiment unfold in real life.

3
0

Google unveils ten-year plan to build its ROBOT ARMY of the future

Erik4872

Hastening French Revolution 2.0, I see

Everyone talks about all the great stuff robots will free everyone from, like having to work at boring, monotonous jobs. One of the things I'm worried about is the shift in society that would happen if, all of a sudden, all the manual labor in the world became unemployed while all the "knowledge workers" kept their jobs and actually benefited more with all the extra robot productivity.

There's two paths - a Star Trek universe where everyone does what they're good at and there's zero scarcity, and a messy revolution when the majority of society gets pissed off at being broke and unemployed.

I don't expect it to be a nice transition -- but we'll see in 10 years I guess :-)

5
0

No more Service Packs for Microsoft Office? HA! Think again, Ballmer!

Erik4872

No new service packs??

I wonder if this is going to be one of the decisions that's reversed when Ballmer hands over the reins. I admit that time has moved on, and most of us in the first world have always-on high speed Internet, and more of an appetite for the rapid-release thing. I also remember that a Service Pack used to be a really big deal that would require Microsoft to press new media and put some effort into building up a new release that would be deployable "hands off" out of a physical software box. This is probably what Microsoft means by this -- that a SP is no longer the huge milestone that it was. But I think it should be, at least for some products.

I do think that even with cloud this and agile that, business IT still wants to have a jumping-off point in a product lifecycle to begin and standardize deployments on. If that release cycle shrinks too low, large customers may not be able to let the dust settle on a certain release and shake bugs out before the next release is out, and oh by the way, deprecates features from Release -1. Enterprise customers just jumping onto Windows 7 from XP are running into this, in the form of Microsoft not backporting key features to Win7 and Server 2008 R2.

I never thought I'd say this, but maybe Microsoft should reverse the decision they made with Windows 2000 to merge the consumer and business client OS base. They could have three tiers of release speed -- Azure where things change every day, Consumer Windows which is more app driven, and Business Windows which focuses on stability and predictable release schedules. PC manufacturers do the same thing -- they have the consumer junk line that they throw whatever components they feel like into and shove it out the door. Then at the high end, they have the rock-stable "business grade PC" that doesn't change the design for 18 months so companies can buy 40,000 of them and deploy them the same way.

6
0

HP wants to help you mount a Moonshot

Erik4872

Needs to be marketed differently

HP actually pitched these to us a while back -- we're a bog standard IT shop and my boss thought this was the next version of BladeSystem.

The truth is that this isn't your typical x86 server or blade platform. Customers who would use something like this probably have an idea of exactly what they need, and have a problem that needs a very customized system to solve. The first rollout of this was pitched directly to the Googles and Facebooks of the world, or more correctly, companies that thought they were a Facebook and Google and needed to get on the big data bandwagon. It looks like an attempt to stave off the white-box hardware solutions that the big social media and cloud startups have begun using in their data centers. It's targeted somewhere between the x86 blade customers (density) and midrange/Itanium customers (highly custom/complex systems) and it'll be interesting to see HP drum out some case studies to give customers ideas about what it would be good for.

2
0

Microsoft creates new cert to make VMware admins 'bi-lingual'

Erik4872

Not surprising this would happen

For all the mess they're causing on the Windows client side, Microsoft has been making some smart moves on the server side. One of them is giving away fully-functional Hyper-V for the cost of a server license. We're starting to move away from VMWare in situations where it makes sense to do so. Our company's IT leadership just isn't ready for KVM or similar -- not because they're OSS, but they have an intense need for a vendor to nail to the wall.

The big holdouts are going to be companies with large data centers who are heavily invested in VMWare and have admins who only know VMWare. Our "main" data center is like this -- they refuse to support Hyper-V in production still. Unless VMWare reduces their prices significantly or gives away all the functionality in the "free" version and just limits capacity, even the holdouts are probably going to have to change their minds.

0
0

EasyJet website crashes and burns

Erik4872

LCCs don't do DR

I work in the air transport industry, and have previously worked for an LCC in the US. This is not a shocker. Airlines, believe it or not, are mostly a very low margin business and they do the absolute bare minimum when it comes to IT. The particular carrier I was with converted almost all their end user systems to Citrix/thin clients, and the monster server cluster running the environment was hosted in a single data center. When the possibility of single point of failure was brought up, a second site hosted in an (airline-owned) DC on the other side of the country was shot down for lack of ROI/high cost.

After the six-plus hour full outage of that (entire) primary data center, the second server cluster was (grudgingly) approved. Manual check-ins at the busiest airport in the system were a very interesting sight to see.

It is true that stuff like bag fees suck, but it's not like airline headquarters have gold plated lavatory fixtures either. Joe Sixpack demands $49 flights...and it costs more than $49 to get him and his bags where he's going!

3
0

Scottish gov follows cutting-edge Italian Post Office with Win 8 trial

Erik4872

It's not that bad actually

Windows 8 does offer a lot of under the covers improvements that make it better than Windows 7 overall, but I agree that it's really hobbled by the Metro UI. Win 8.1 makes it a little better, and in my mind it's the only version that makes sense to even try using in a business setting. Maybe with Steve going away, we'll be able to convince a new exec team to let us have themes and the Start menu back. But, I've gotten used to the new UI, and while I'm not in love with it, Win 8.1 is at least not maddeningly bad like 8.0 was.

There's always a few intrepid companies that sign up for the early adopter programs Microsoft offers. The place I was at last almost joined the one for Vista -- that was a lucky decision not to...

Traditional desktop users won't see a productivity improvement, but the BYOD/millenial crowd might eventually like it.

1
0

Microsoft to kill Select Agreement rebates, rain cash on cloud deals

Erik4872

The next logical step

Sounds like yet another step in the quest to end the options of buying perpetual licenses.

Microsoft is very heavily pushing cloud-based software with this latest iteration of the Windows/Office release cycle:

- Office 365 subscriptions are being sold cheaper than perpetual licenses (up to a certain break-even point).

- Windows client OSes now default to using your Windows Live/SkyDrive account for logging in

- Windows Server 2012 R2's new feature list almost exclusively revolves around cloud and virtualization

- TechNet subscriptions are now gone in favor of hosting virtual labs or getting you to buy Azure time for your testing

Considering the fact that Office 365 is just a metered, App-V'd version of the full Office 2013 product, the motivations are pretty clear -- force people onto a monthly subscription model. Enterprise Agreements were the corporate versions of this, now it's being pushed down to the end user. Unfortunately, people seem to be indicating that they're willing to go down this route. Adobe Creative Cloud is another example -- vocally protested by IT and end users alike, but when push came to shove, they shut up and paid the monthly fees.

I know the cloud thing isn't just a fad, but I do think there will be a chunk of the market who still wants perpetual license rights and will apparently have to pay a premium for it.

3
0

Facebook sharpens ad-shifting tool: Soon users will eat creepily SPECIFIC ad-gloop

Erik4872

Serious question...

I know advertisers are all about eyeballs and stuff, but does the average person actually look at an ad, let alone click on it?

Other than looking at the ads served up by Google for a microsecond and saying "wow, that's creepy that they know I was searching for flights to Minneapolis and old computer parts on eBay", I don't think I've ever paid attention to an online ad. Maybe Facebook thinks that by injecting ads more directly into the news feed they can trick people into clicking them. But are people really that stupid? I know, I know, "yes."

I just don't get how businesses have success advertising. I'm 100% immune to it, and have never bought a product based on an ad campaign. Have I bought something because a trusted person has said I should take a look at this? Yes. But not a "ooh, that's a shiny ad, the product must be awesome" kind of response. It seems to me that businesses should focus on getting customers to recommend them, maybe even by paying them, rather than spraying random ads on the Internet and hoping they get some sucker to bite.

2
0

Sofas with a roof and Star Trek seating: The future of office furniture?

Erik4872

Grr, more open plan office furniture

I absolutely hate the trend of the open plan office. It makes it impossible to concentrate, you have to find a room to make a phone call or hold a meeting, etc. My company brought in the usual suspect management consultants a few years ago who convinced them that the open plan office was the way to go. Since then, they've been converting all their bigger offices to these Google-esque wonderlands. No assigned desks, glass-walled meeting rooms, the whole bit.

I think it has something to do with the whole social aspect, but when I'm working on a problem, I want quiet. When I make a phone call, I don't want the entire office to hear it.

Fortunately, for now, our smaller branch office hasn't been targeted for Googlefication yet. We'll see what happens though...

2
0

Oh snap – AWS daddy disses IT's 'old guard': You're so 2000-and-late

Erik4872

Horses for courses

AWS, Azure and the other big infrastructure clouds are great for the huge wave of social media startups that have popped up lately. Where else can you buy and provision 10,000 servers instantly to support a Web-only, noncritical application?

I don't think it's pointless for a large enough company to build a private cloud. Even in medium size organizations, providing servers, storage, rack space and network is a long process. And projects change so fast that you end up having a lot of unused capacity when something gets killed, just waiting around to be redeployed.

I'm a little tired of the "old guard" remarks from the Pinterests, Twitters, and Facebooks of the world. There is a huge difference between a disposable playtime app and the stuff that a business relies on to keep the books, process customer orders, etc. For testing, I'm a serious fan of AWS and others. I can build and rip up whatever I want as long as I have the credit card to pay for it, and don't have to spend a dime on lab equipment except for things that I really don't want to host. For production...it's headed that way, but businesses are probably going to prefer the traditional ASP or hosting model rather than the public cloud route, or they'll go hybrid which in my mind is the right thing to do.

6
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