Posts tagged hardware

Microsoft announces Multitouch Mouse

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Microsoft has recently announced a “Touch Mouse” at the CES-Conference which is going to be primarily focused on bringing Touch-Features to Windows 7 (who’d have thought that). It’s going to be released Mid-2011 for about 80€ (so I guess around 90$ in the US) and here’s what it looks like:

http://m-kuttner.com/blog//HLIC/a9cecd47b57b759a94038444a9ee96c9.jpg

The first thing I thought was that this really seems like a well-designed piece of hardware. Something I don’t recall seeing from Microsoft in a while now, leaving Kinect aside. Because in my humble opinion, it’s not even about designing something that everybody loves to look at but just putting enough effort into the design of a product that it does not look like it’s cheaper than its internal specifications make it worth.

Best example for that: No one even remotely cared about the fact that the first generation iPhone had no 3G-Functionality, no regular Bluetooth, no regular Audio-Jack and things like that which we had already gotten used to from Smartphones around it. Its selling-point was all about the Multitouch and its looks basically.

So my basic message here is that even if this “Touch Mouse” from Microsoft doesn’t out-perform similar products that came before it, it still might out-sell them if it becomes something that people just want to have sitting on their desk.

Windows Server 2008 On-the-fly Memory Expansion

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Since I had a Windows Server 2008 x64 Virtual Machine configured in my VMware Workstation and a Product Key from MSDN that I didn’t use I decided to try one of the cool features Server 2008 brings to a wide variety of new and even some old motherboards out there. I’m talking about its “Hot-add-Memory” feature.

So as I start this Virtual Machine up I have it configured with 1024MB (or 1GB) of RAM (click on image for original):

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And now I want to expand this Server’s RAM without having to restart the whole system. I honestly don’t know if that’s that common of a use case out there in the real world but nevertheless it’s something that’s possible technology-wise and I think Linux has had it far earlier than Windows so here goes:

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Hot-Swapping RAM is something that’s also included in more expensive versions of Server 2008 (like Datacenter) but in the Enterprise version which we have here all we can do is expand the RAM, not reduce it (see red box). So I pull the slider up to 2048 MB (or 2GB) to double my RAM and click “OK”.

What happened then wasn’t entirely what I was hoping for. VMware Workstation saved the Virtual Machine’s state first, then the Screen went black for a second and then it came back immediately and everything was exactly as I left it, so I guess this was just a precaution of VMware rather than something that was absolutely necessary. Then it took another few seconds for Windows to recognize the additional RAM and this was what I ended up with:

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As you can tell from the red boxes in the first and the last picture (and the immense drop of the blue curve in the last picture) the RAM has been added without any shutdown of the system.

For Companies who need this, Windows Server 2008 Enterprise is definitely not too expensive to buy although it could be cheaper of course. This feature is not exclusive to the latest and greatest hardware either so the additional cost in hardware shouldn’t be too high either. Contrary to a Linux Server it offers an Administrator the possibility of deploying Microsoft Exchange Services natively and it enables them to install the wide variety of Software that’s out there for Windows.

Time Machine and Apple Multi-Touchpads

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Without finding nor providing an excuse for my absence around here I think I have gathered enough things to talk about to fill a blog entry once again after some weeks of hard work on multiple school projects.

time-machine-logoYesterday I came to the realization that I don’t even have to buy any additional hardware in order to be able to use the Time Machine feature of my MacBook. Since I bought my Network Attached Storage I had a 500GB USB Storage laying around with nothing to do. At first I tried to modify Time Machine in order to be able to use it as a Network Storage although it isn’t a Time Capsule from Apple. After a variety of weird Error Messages (which seem to be one of the reasons why Apple only supports their own Time Capsules) I decided to connect it via USB.

It works like a charm. Time Machine backs up to this Storage hourly whenever it is connected while the MacBook is not on battery operation. It keeps those hourly backups for the last 24 hours and lowers them to daily updates for the last 7 days accordingly. Furthermore it keeps weekly updates of my files until there is no storage left. So to retrieve a lost file or file-state one opens a Finder (=Explorer) Window and directs it to where you once had your file the way you want it to have now. You launch Time Machine and it takes the Finder Window on a journey to the past. You specify the Date you want to go back to and the contents of the Window will change to what they have been like at that time.

So whenever my MacBook is connected to the Storage those backups will be made regularly and I can make those journeys to the past.

To switch to another topic, something I wanted to talk about in my Blog for a long time now is how satisfied I am with the way the new Multi-Touch Trackpads from Apple work.

new-macbook-trackpad

Since the introduction of the Multi-Touch concept by Apple with the iPhone this has proven to be a hit among customers looking for ways to interact with their hardware more intuitively. And it has proven my conviction wrong that touch-pads cannot be a tool for a serious workflow on a mobile computer.

With this Trackpad I do not feel the need of grabbing a hold of my Mouse on every occasion.

I do not feel hindered by technology when working with it. It has size and it doesn’t recognize the accidental touch as a click like many others do and it does not have a dedicated Click-Button since it itself is the button which you can press down on which I think is way more intuitive than having your own click-button when most people just want to click on the touchpad itself anyways.

Whenever someone uses it for the first time they stumble across the problem that clicking and holding down on the Trackpad while dragging a scrollbar across the screen can be rather annoying. What they do not know of course is that its primary intent isn’t that at all. Since it can receive multiple inputs you can for example right-click when clicking with two fingers or scroll while sliding across with two fingers. In supported applications the possibilities are even higher in number. You can pinch and zoom in iPhoto. You can use a 4-finger swipe to get to your desktop or to Exposé (a grid of all open windows). You can use 3 fingers to go through an iPhoto Album.

Of course every application can implement their own functionalities for these, which means that sooner or later there will be even more advantages for users of this Trackpad since they are now being built into every mobile Mac Apple ships.

So this entry has been very Apple-based but this should just go to show that although I believe to be very critical of what companies like Apple do these days (because I absolutely don’t think their philosophy is better than anyone else’s) I can’t help being astonished by their way of thinking once in a while.

Have a nice weekend

Apple User Accounts, iPhone Development

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So for my day off after yesterday’s “C# for Windows Mobile” exam I decided to join some colleagues of a higher semester as they start a brand-new course – which has its premiere here at University of Applied Sciences Hagenberg right now and maybe among all Univeristies of Austria – concerning iPhone Development.

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When I entered the laboratory in which the entire course will be held, I encountered some new hardware which was acquired by the University some time in February already and obviously has found its primary use now. During the lecture I realised that all the students who are signed for the course could log in to the Mac Minis with their Active Directory Accounts the University provides them. As we all either know or can find out from the Link, Active Directory is a service by Microsoft that enables you to store user accounts including their files on a Windows Server so the respective users can log in from any computer and use them alike.

Prior to my research on the internet I did not know that Active Directory and Open Directory (from Apple) can interact with eachother at all. I was scared that some Administrator actually created those accounts one by one including their passwords, which would mean that I am not the only one who has legal access to my password (assuming that the Administrators of a System I use can do whatever they want with my data). My Research however showed at least some calming results. Active and Open Directory can be used in combination but there have to be both a Windows Server and a Mac OS X Server running on the network. It does seem to be very complicated to accomplish the wanted results though. What I also know is that others at University have already used Macintosh Computers for video cutting or other creativity related things, so it only seems logical that they have been using the possibility to log into their accounts from both Operating Systems all along.

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When I tried it out myself the login went smoothly as you’d expect it. I still hope that no one has access to my password in plain-text but in the end I also know that I can be the only one held responsible for my own security, so how far I want to go with my paranoia defines how vulnerable my digital personality is.

And of course the conclusion of all this is that everyone who uses Computers without exception has to be aware of this.

have a nice weekend

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