Wednesday
May252011

Mango is Coming

Yesterday Microsoft officially announced the next version of the Windows Phone 7 software. Communications and more interactivity on tiles, integration with Twitter and LinkedIn is now available on the tile view (very cool)! Here are some of the highlights that I took away from the press release.

 

  • Group communication looks cool
  • Visual voicemail is very cool, soon my Windows Phone will be like my old iPhone!
  • Threads looks cool
  • E-mail is getting better (one of the reasons I bought this phone in the first place)!
One of the best features of this phone has been the integration with Facebook and Windows Live, in Mango everything looks better in this regard.
Also, another observation! I could not view the press conference on my Samsung Windows Phone 7, hopefully Mango will have built-in Silverlight. I'm going to view the press conference again to make sure that I did not miss anything. In any case I'm glad to see that Microsoft is finally giving the Windows Phone some much needed love!

 

 

Saturday
May212011

Cool New Games coming to Windows Phone

The phone advantage that iPhone users have had with an iPhone is the amount of cool names available on that platform. Now that is going to change for us Windows Phone users. There are a number of games that are going to be released in the coming weeks. While I'm not much of a phone gamer I do like the following games and look forward to adding them to my Windows Phone collection. Hopefully more will follow now that Microsoft is releasing free iOS conversion tools. 

 

  • Plants vs Zombies (coming June 22nd) - One of my favorite games on the iPhone
  • Angry Birds (coming June 29th)
  • Doodle Jump (coming June 1st)

 

For more information see the Microsoft Windows Phone 7 Blog, it can be found here!

 

 

 

Saturday
May072011

Running Hyper-V on a 2010 8-Core Mac Pro

Mac Pro has the following specs:

 

  • 2 - 2.4Ghz Quad Core processors (16 virtual cores)
  • 32GB of RAM
  • 3 - 1TB Western Digital Cavier Black HDs
  • 1 - 2TB Western Digital Cavier Black HD
  • 30 inch cinema display (2560 x 1600)

 

 

I've had my 2010 8-core (duel 2.4 GHZ) Mac Pro for a few weeks now and the performance running Regular Mac Apps (including VMware Fusion has been great. However, I thought it was time to take it to the next level and put my TechNet Professional subscription to good use by running a true (type 1) hypervisor since Fusion seems to get unresponsive after using 16GB of RAM. 

Installation was a fairly painless, I used the Apple Boot Camp assistant to create a 700GB partition for the Windows Server 2008 R2 (x64) Enterprise installation on the stock 1TB Western Digital Hard Drive. Installed the operating system, installed the Apple Boot Camp drivers, downloaded OS operating system hotfixes and SP1 for 2008 Server then I was ready to rock! 

 

After enabling the Hyper-V role I was ready to create virtual machines. I decided to create a new lab using 30 day evaluation licenses for this test because I did not want to waste all of my TechNet activations with this test (even the host) so I decided to not activate anything and 30 days is more than enough time to play! 

 

One of the first tests I decided to do was create at least 10 virtual machines at the same time. I expected a fair amount of disk thrashing so I also used another disk for half of the virtual machines. This served me well and I ceased to have any disk performance problems once I started using another disk. Hyper-V makes good use of all available cores and memory, I had good system performance during my unscientific 10 virtual machine build. I continued this process until i had 21 virtual machines built with a mixture of Windows 2008, Windows 2008 R2, Windows 2003 R2, Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows Vista. Running several server side applications such as Exchange Server 2003, 2007, OCS 2007 R2 (IM and Presence). Currently in the process of introducing Lync Server 2010 and Exchange 2010. 

 

Since my Hyper-V server is not a member of a domain I did not install System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2. I will install this later when I decide to build my Hyper-V server again! My next test with the Mac Pro is to install VMware ESXi 4.1 on the Mac Pro. Since I already have another ESX host I can simply move some of the VMs over and use my templates to build additional machines. Eventually I would like to get another server class machine (such as a Dell Poweredge) and have a permanent ESXi server. 

 

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions please post comments here!

Thursday
May052011

The 30 MB barrier

Since switching from a Kindle to an iPad for reading my experience has been very good for the most part but reading some PDFs sometimes a challenge due to the limits of the iPad. For example, the iPad cannot open a file larger than 30MB! This is a problem for me since I often get PDF versions of books that accompany the printed version, not being able to open them up in iBooks or PDFReader Pro is bad because I need to lug around the thick printed copy (how quaint)!

 

I have gotten around the 30MB limitation with my own documents by printing half of a book to a PDF file. While this is not ideal it does the job. However, it still does not solve the problem of getting a PDF file from a published book. Another option is to buy a kindle edition of the book. This is not a desirable option because I do not get a printed copy of the book as well. While reading novels is great on the Kindle App I still prefer a printed copy of a technical book! However, I have purchased technical books from the Kindle store when I needed something quickly!

 

Best of both Worlds

 

Since I also have a Safari Books subscription I have found the Safari App an interesting alternative. The only problem that I have seen is that some books get truncated in strange areas. For example, when reading Mike Laverick’s VMware vSphere 4 Implementation book I noticed some problems with viewing some of the pages. I was in a Borders at the time so I strolled over to the computer book section and compared both print and the Safari Books online versions and sure enough the LAB sections were cut off in the Safari App. Soon after that I reported the problem to Safari. Another good feature about the Safari Books Online iPad App is the ability to cache books for offline use. I had mixed results, if you navigate away or let the iPad sleep is stops the downloading process! This is best done in a high-speed environment (not in an Airport lounge)!

Wednesday
May042011

The 23-second boot

Review of the 15" 2.3 Ghz MacBook Pro

 

The 2011 Sandy Bridge MacBook Pros are outstanding in more ways than one! I have been testing one for several days now and I must say that this computer has exceeded my expectations. This computer has replaced my 15" Alienware 1.6Ghz Core i7 processor. I’m not going to run a bunch of diagnostics comparing every minutia of detail between applications. There are plenty of other MBP reviews that do that. Instead I want to give my report on how this machine is used and made a difference in my everyday work!

 

Before I even had the MBP I ordered 8GB of RAM from OWC (http://www.macsales.com) and a 115GB Mercury Pro Extreme SSD. I booted the MBP made sure that the memory worked then promptly shut it down and installed the 8GB of RAM and SSD. Approximately 5 minutes later I was installing OS X from the restore CD. The OS installed in about 20 minutes. Next I installed iLife from the Applications CD, this took a bit longer (approximately 25 minutes). Installed Office 2011, Fusion 3 and Starcraft II after that!

 

Boot time

 

The system boots into OS X in 23-seconds! Very fast read and write times overall, Word, Excel and Powerpoint loads almost instantly. Outlook takes a second or two longer but performance with MS Office has blown me away!

 

Boot camp

 

Installed Windows 7 Ultimate in about 15 minutes, patches took considerably longer! I only gave the boot camp partition 32GB since I only have 115GB to work with! Perhaps I will redo this later once I can afford a 240GB SSD! After loading a lot of patches, optimizing Windows for my SSD (like removing paging file, disabling defragmentation, disabling hibernation, etc.) and taking a Windows Experience Index check I was ready to test the Windows 7 boot time. NOTE: At this point my boot loader is set to boot from the BOOPCAMP partition and auto login is enabled. Windows 7 Ultimate boots in 32 seconds (considerably longer than OS X). Interestingly enough the Alienware boots in about the same time with the same SSD!

 

Battery Life

 

So far I have fully charged and discharged the battery about three times and have run the following tests.

 

  •       Full wifi, Bluetooth, and high performance settings – 3 hour battery life
  •       Full wifi, Bluetooth, and default battery settings – 5 hour battery life
  •       Full wifi, Bluetooth, and high performance settings (installing apps) – 2 hour battery life

 

I intend to run several more tests with real world applications, will report back here later.