A Business Technology Place

Confessions from using Mac Linux Windows Chrome Android iOS

I’ve used them all.confession

Call me an equal opportunity technologist. I’ve given them all a try. From Windows to Linux and everywhere in between. Do I have my have opinions? Absolutely. Do I participate in the “Holy wars” for OS? Yes, on occasion, for entertainment in my life. So I thought it would be fun to write a few confessions about my experience. It’s purely for entertainment. 🙂

Mac OS

  • The ultimate OS right? Yet so many run Windows Parallels and I find that ironic.
  • I inherited a MacBook hand-me-down from daughter. To my frustration, Apple capped the MacOS upgrade level. It also ran super hot around the power cord connector so I had to download a special app for fan control and heat. I found these were common complaints via internet search. In the end, it was not a great experience.
  • Can we just agree on keyboard keys and shortcuts please?
  • Many Mac OS X zealots may not realize that  Mac OS is a Unix based operating system.
  • While viruses aren’t as prevalent on Mac OS. Mac OS is not immune to viruses as some have told me with a smirk.

Windows

  • Oh please Mr. PC tell me why you get slower with age? If your registry is bloated then give me a way to release the blockage please.
  • A breeding ground for viruses. Virus scanners are pricey and taxing to system performance.
  • Windows XP and IE 6. A match made in heaven and a marriage that outlived many attempts to kill it.
  • I have confirmed how long it takes my PC to boot in the morning. I turn it on. Then I go to the break room to put my lunch away and to get a cup of coffee. When I return, it’s ready to go. That’s Windows 7 and a platter based disk. (I’ve seen better with Windows 8 and a SSD.)
  • Windows 8? I get it.

Ubuntu Linux

  • It gave a few of my old PCs new life because it has less hardware requirements than Windows.
  • You can’t beat the price!
  • Software availability isn’t the best. Open Office has the basic features needed for word processing and spreadsheets. But it can lack the advanced features for power users and may not fully read a document prepared in MS Office.
  • Support is plentiful on internet forums. But I’ll admit, you have to be a geek to understand it.

Chrome OS

  • You’re right Google. I mostly just need a browser to complete my computing activities.
  • Google Docs is great. But just wait until someone passes a MS Office document to your non-techy spouse using a ChromeBook.
  • Boot-up time is amazing.
  • It’s really a “cloud” terminal.

Android

  • It works well for me because I’m in the Google ecosystem. Google docs, Gmail, Google contacts, Google+ and Google Voice.
  • Performance tends to lag at times. But I realize it’s tough to make judgements on this. Google doesn’t lock and control the hardware. So many combinations, so many possibilities.
  • Android phones don’t focus on simplicity. Some customizations can be hard to find, like speed dial and email account setup.

iOS

  • It’s not perfect as some make it out to be.
  • My daughter had reception problems from a dorm room in the basement of a building. I asked her to use wifi-calling, but found out it’s not supported yet. I’ve been using that for years on my Android device.
  • The marketing at Apple is the best. I’m not an Apple fan-boy, but their ads have won over an allegiance and created a brand title wave.
  • Let’s be honest, Apple die-hards are a bit snobby.

Desktops in the cloud

Is it time to put your business desktops in the cloud?

The concept has an appeal to IT managers. Why shouldn’t it? Reduced total cost of ownership, automatic upgrades, and on-demand variations for OS/browser are a few appealing features. But are we really ready for desktops in the cloud?

I think we’ll get there. But we aren’t ready just yet.

  • Habits – computing usage habits and familiarity with screens and processes are hard to change. Most of the users with desktops/laptops under my IT management are very attached to their local drive storage. Saving to a network drive isn’t the path of least resistance because it’s not the default (but could be) and may not be available (laptops in local mode). Laptop users are in the habit of using their devices even with not internet connectivity. That would have to change.
  • WiFi availability – A recent trip down I-95 and I-10 in Florida reminded me that we still have areas on the grid that don’t have good access to the internet. My phone was flipping between 4G, G, E, and no networks. It’s getting better as providers enhance their networks, but until we have more wide spread access to full internet access I don’t think we can see wide-scale adoption of a mobile cloud computing desktop.
  • Data location – Storing data in the cloud is a concept that hasn’t reached happy place with security policies and risk management offices. I fill out a couple of security questionnaires each week and must answer about the security of PII and PHI data. The most common security controls call for no local storage, encrypted storage, and disabling portable storage media. That seems to fit into the cloud storage model well. But the complexity is that cloud storage means another facility and another group of employees that could have physical access to the data. The risk management office asks many other questions about physical security of the building and standard operating procedures for employees. Once the data is stored in the cloud, how can an IT manager vouch for the procedures at the hosting site?
  • Industry machine – Desktops and laptops are a big industry. Don’t underestimate the lobby and influence of the major players if they feel a cloud computing desktop will cut into their sales and profits.

None of these concepts are difficult to overcome and I think they will be overcome. Google has already started creating a variation in the home market with the ChromeBook. I think the cost benefits will ultimately draw IT managers to introduce cloud computing in the business environment as well.  They just need to solve for user habits, accessibility, data location, and availability of equipment.

 

Windows Ready Boost and other system performance ramblings

(This isn’t my typical blog post. But I recently went through this exercise, so I thought it would be good to write it down.)

It happened again. My work issued Windows laptop is taking longer and longer and longer to boot. It’s one of those wonderful features of Microsoft Windows. In addition to going through the standard set of recommendations from Microsoft I tried a new feature this time which appears to have some immediate impact. Will it last?

Dualing OS

Can I get Ubuntu on my work laptop?

Here are some specs to set context:
Windows 7
Intel 2 Duo CPU P8700 @ 2.53GHz
3GB RAM

The boot time becomes so slow that some days I don’t fully shutdown, I just put the machine in sleep mode. It’s just too painful waiting for the boot. Oh, and I guess I’ve been spoiled by boot time of my Chromebook and Ubuntu Linux netbook. I know comparing the boot time of a Chromebook to a Windows OS machine isn’t a fair comparison. But the Linux machine is a fully functional operating system too. More on the comparison later.

Back to Windows for moment.  I went through the normal routine of speed improvements for a Windows machine. I deleted temporary files and cached files, ran disk fragmenter, checked for malware, removed some startup applications, and ran a free registry cleaner.  All this did provide some marginal help.

Then I also tried something new as well. I added a 1GB SanDisk to the system and dedicated it to Windows ReadyBoost. It’s essentially acting as another disk cache for memory and is designed to speed up disk reads because the flash drive provides faster access than standard disk drives.

So here’s my unofficial, unscientific, and non certified boot time measurement results:

With 1GB SanDisk in using ReadyBoost –
Boot  to Windows Login = 2:05m
Windows login to background visible= 50s
Background to finish load of startup = 30s
Total boot = 3:25m

Without SanDisk using ReadyBoost
Boot to Windows Login = 1:21m
Windows login to background visible =  2:13s
Background to finish = 22s
Total boot =  3:56s

The difference was 31 seconds and the machine booted faster with the SanDisk as part of the system. That’s good enough that I will leave the ReadyBoost active.

Oh. Just for fun I timed the Linux boot time and the Chromebook.

Ubuntu Linux (v12.04) test
Boot to Linux Login = 30s
Linux login to background visible =  20s
Total boot =  50s

Chromebook from boot to usable system was about 15s and I needed time to enter the password.

Time is money right?

Tablets, mobile devices, and Chrome OS offer different computing models

The Personal Computer model of the 80s and 90s is done.
In the early days of home computing, the personal computer was the choice for computing power from the home and office. The hardware required software to manage the operations of the computer and all of the software was installed locally to the device. Microsoft dominated these early days with the Windows and Office.

Through the 90s and 2000s we saw several advancements that started to change the world of the personal computer. The expansion of the internet to main stream life connected consumers to each other as well as consumers to businesses. The accessibility of broadband to the home made it possible for consumers to retrieve large amounts of information in the form of pictures, video, and rich text.  Advances in hardware speed and the reduction of computing device sizes helped engineers to create portable devices so that consumers could access information from anywhere.

Now we live in a connected world where individuals and businesses can not only consume digital content but they can create it as well. Facebook, Twitter, and mobile applications are all examples of this.

Today, consumers can choose from tablets, mobile devices, and cloud computing hardware.
I’m not a big Apple fan, but I’ll admit the iPhone and iPad have revolutionized the computing model that consumers use today. It’s a good thing, the advancements in user interface, ease of use, and practicality of the apple devices are creating more competition and advancements that benefit all of us.

Mobile devices work because of their portability and this makes them flexible to serve to consumers from almost any location. They have really become the swiss army knife of computing devices. Except they go one step farther. You can add and remove many blades from the device (software apps) to make the tool relevant no matter which venue of life you find yourself.

The tablet devices are filling a void between mobile device and laptop computer. The mobile device screen is just too small for some needs, while even the laptop computer can be bulky at times to carry. I see the tablet device as a portable and powerful information consumption device. Their use is exploding because consumers love the ease-of-use and breadth of applications.

But the tablet may be a challenge to use for heavy content creators.  The touch screen keyboard and limited hardware could decrease the efficiency for creating content. At least for now, until a generation grows-up using the touchscreen type keypads.

This past week, Google launched ChromeOS on a netbook frame to the general public. This event isn’t about netbooks, it’s about a computing model known as cloud computing.  Google has created a device similar to a smart-phone in a way. It’s a stripped down OS that removes most of the hardware operating system responsibilities and focuses on giving access to internet based applications through a browser. That’s the computer. A browser with access to the internet.  If you stop and think about it, many if not most, of the applications you use today are already from the internet.  It wouldn’t surprise to me to see ChromeOS on a tablet frame sometime in the near future.

Regardless brand loyalties or preferences, consumers win with all this advancement.
Consumers have many choices today. Unlike the PC-only model of the 80s and 90s, they have the ability to choose between different device types (PC, laptop, netbook, tablet, mobile) as well as different models (Local installation, cloud computing, and mobile application). It’s really about how the consumer creates and/or uses content. Consumers will choose those devices that work consistently and makes their lives easier by solving needs.

What do you think? What type of device and experience do you prefer?