Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

April, 2011

  • Lenovo ThinkPad T420s - mini review

    openLast year I bought the ThinkPad T410s when the model with the Optimus graphics became available. It’s a great little machine so I was anxious to try the ThinkPad T420s with Optimus and compare the two.  I’ve done that now and I thought you would be interested in some of my preliminary findings.

    Executive Summary

    If you are looking for a powerful portable computer in a lightweight thin profile, look no further.  The T420s is capable of housing three drives and running advanced server operating system software. However, the ThinkPad T420s has fair battery life. If you need to run unplugged for more than five hours, you are going to need to resort to using an additional battery in the Ultrabay.

    Specification Notes

    The ThinkPad T420s comes in several different flavors and I thought I’d begin by talking about the processor, screen, storage and other features. After I describe some of the technical features we’ll look at some photos then move on to battery life and performance.

    The Proc

    The processor choices range from the Intel i5 right on up to the dual core Intel® Core™ i7-2620M processor (2.70GHz, 4MB Cache, Intel Turbo Boost 2.0 (3.40GHz),  DDR3 memory controller (up to 1333MHz),  and Hyper Threading technology.  I would have picked a different processor for the eval unit. I realize you want to put your foot forward with the fastest candidate, but fastest isn’t always best. The i7-2620m is extremely fast so for those of you that want something speedy, you won’t be disappointed. 

    I wonder what the battery life is like with the Intel® Core™ i5-2520M processor (dual-core, 2.50GHz, 3MB Cache), DDR3 memory controller (up to 1333MHz), Intel Turbo Boost 2.0 (3.20GHz), HT technology.  Someone that has one needs to run some battery tests and let me know.  My details for the tests I ran are below.

    The Screen

    The screen that is on this model (4174-A21) is the new 16:9 aspect ratio 1600x900 HD+ native resolution panel.  At 250 nits, it isn’t as bright as my T410s but that’s fine by me.  I never crank the T410s to level 15 brightness anyway.  Like all of the panels in the T and W line, it’s a standard business class screen with a matte finish.  I like the 1600x900 resolution but I know my significant other would set the DPI to 125% right away. 

    There have been a number of internet forum comments on this screen.  Some people describe the screen as having a screen door effect. On close inspection I can see some of what they are describing.  As a standard viewing distance from the screen I really don’t discern the pixels much.  I don’t know if there’s more than one supplier of the LCD screens but if there is, maybe I have the better screen.

    For those of you that intend to use this machine with Hyper-V, the loss of vertical screen real estate is going to force you into some unnatural acts.  Get used to turning off the toolbars and such on your VM client.  You’ll probably need to auto hide the taskbar as well.  This is the sacrifice you’ll have to make due to the new resolutions and form factors.

    Storage Options

    The ThinkPad T420s has three drive bays.  Let me repeat that.  Three. There are the two typical drive bays, one for a hard drive and one for an optical drive, but Lenovo got creative and added a micro SATA capability to the machine.  The Intel Series 310 mSATA drives can be inserted into a micro PCI-E slot.  This slot is normally used for a wireless broadband card, but if you have no need for an embedded card like that, now you can use it for high speed storage.  More on that later when we talk about performance.

    There is one thing to note about the primary storage bay.  The bay is a 7mm height bay which does present a problem.  Lenovo switched from the 1.8” form factor to a 2.5” wide drive, but it’s only 7mm high.  The Intel Series 320 SSD drives can be ordered as 7mm models, or you can take the plastic spacer off the top of the 9.5mm Intel X-25m SSD drives.  Warning: the cover screws need to be shorter after removing the spacer and I managed to scrounge four of them up from my stash of screws.

    The drive that currently comes with the T420s is the second generation 160GB X-25M Intel SSD.  I expect Lenovo will switch over to the Intel Series 320 drives soon but I have no idea when.  I didn’t like the way Lenovo slapped the tape on the Intel case in order to give you a Mylar like pull tab for the drive.  It really isn’t needed and it was already trying to come off my drive after a couple of inserts. 

    The third optical bay, also known as the Ultrabay is a standard size 9.5mm bay.  Therefore you can use an Ultrabay caddy like the 43N3412.  This gives you the ability to put yet another drive in the system.  This particular caddy can be used in last years T and W series ThinkPad's as well as this years models.  The bezel is quite small and will not cover the 12.7mm bay on the W510, W520, T520, or T420.  Expect to see a small gap.  Most people will use the 43N3412 with a high capacity hard drive but I’m sure that will change when 600GB SSD drives become more affordable.

    There are two DDR3 SoDIMM slots in the T420s with easy access from the bottom of the machine. Today that means a max of 8GB of RAM but I have no doubt you can take the machine to 16GB with the right 8GB SoDIMM sticks.  Someone want to send me two? Grin.  The are prohibitively expense right now, but who knows, maybe they will be within reach by Christmas.  We’ll see.

    T420s_hero_01Photo Tour

    This time around I didn’t take pictures with my Canon G11.  I found a treasure trove of Lenovo albums on Picasa.  I downloaded the pics and stuck copies out on my server so they won’t move or disappear.  Here are my comments on the chassis, keyboard, ports, etc.

    Front - there really isn’t anything special about the front edge other than it’s pretty thin.  It isn’t possible to see in the pic, but the front right portion of the machine is the slim battery.  For this reason, you can’t simply add a 9 cell battery to the machine to improve battery life.

    Right - the right side has the wireless on/off switch, Ultrabay with a DVD burner, and a security latch hole.  As you can probably tell be looking at this pic, the machine is pretty darn thin.

    Back - the back is interesting. You’ll notice the power port, Ethernet, USB 3.0 in blue, powered USB 2.0 in yellow, DisplayPort and a standard VGA port.  Unfortunately Lenovo dropped the combo USB/eSATA port present on the T410s.  I’m glad they added USB 3.0 but frankly I’m not that impressed with USB 3.0 speeds.  I also hate having the USB ports on the back.  It’s inconvenient.

    Left - the left side shows a single USB 2.0 port, combo headphone/microphone jack, a spot for an ExpressCard 34mm slot or Ricoh Multcard reader, a smartcard reader slot (thank you!) and just below the smartcard reader slot is the cover to the 7mm drive bay.

    Bottom - in the pic of the bottom, the top edge is the front of the machine.  Therefore, looking at the top left, you see the 7mm bay cover and tell tale screw.  Notice removing the cover provides pretty deep access into the bay.  This is good because you don’t need the special mylar tabs and tape to remove drives.  I like it.  In the top right portion of the pic you see the outline for the slim battery.  It’s really slim and as a result there isn’t much storage area for energy.  This is probably the biggest flaw of the machine.  In the middle of the pic you see the cover for the RAM slots.  Inside that cover is also easy access to the mSATA/WWAN PCIE slot.  Therefore installing RAM or a micro SATA drive is very easy.

    Open - in the pic of the machine laid wide open, you can clearly see the keyboard layout.  This is the design that started last year and has now carried over to this years models.  I like it.  I like the mic mute button. If you look closely at the top bezel of the screen you’ll see the 720p webcam with dual array mics on both sides.  You’ll also notice if you look carefully the 16:9 screen size in the lid and the fat bezel below the screen.  That honestly doesn’t bother me but some people are particular about such matters.

    The speakers on the T420s seem louder than my T410s.  That might be my imagination.  The keyboard seems nice and quiet with no overly clacky tone and the keys themselves don’t feel mushy or cheesy.  In other words, it’s a great keyboard though you Dell and HP users will have to get used to the FN and CTRL placement the first couple of weeks.  The trackpad and trackpoint are fine but I still prefer to use a mouse whenever possible.

    Lid - this picture is important for several reasons. I want to draw your attention to the thinness of the LCD screen and bezel.  If you are in the habit of carrying your notebook by grabbing it by the LCD lid, don’t buy this machine.  Either break your habit or you are going to crack a LCD panel.  That lid is not designed as a handle. You were warned.  Treat this machine with care. 

    Big Brother - I decided to include the T420 big brother shot.  It’s important for several reasons.  First, the T420 is really designed for most peoples needs.  It’s a great combination of power AND battery life.  Because it has standard sized bays, offers a 9 cell battery in that back, better port placement, and is still relatively small and light weight, you should strongly consider this machine.  I hope I get a chance to evaluate one like I did the T410.  There are a number of good reviews on the T420.

    Battery Life

    The one place the ThinkPad T420s falls down is battery life.  I had been reading a few reviews and early owner comments on this and didn’t want to believe it until I had tested this machine.  Unfortunately the machine I have didn’t fare well.  On the first two tests I ran the battery life was 2 hours and 15-20 minutes. 

    I ran nearly identical tests on the T420s as I did on the ThinkPad W520.  I made sure the BIOS settings were on Optimus and the battery settings were optimized for saving power.  I used the miserly power plan settings in Power Manager and double checked the Control Panel settings for the Intel GPU, IE9, etc. 

    Like the W520 tests, I set the screen brightness at 10 and looped a .MP4 movie.  Looping wasn’t really necessary since you are barely going to get through a single movie. 

    So what on earth is going on?  Well, there are a couple of significant differences between the W520 powerhouse and the thin T420s.  The size and capacity of the battery is the main one.  The 66+ in the T420s only has 44Wh so there simply isn’t much there for real chores.  Sure, you can probably get five hours of battery life with the screen turned off and everything else at idle, but that isn’t a realistic work load.

    If you need more battery life, plan on purchasing the Ultrabay battery or another 66+ spare battery.  They don’t currently offer a slice battery for the T420s though it is offered for the T420.  The battery connector and placement is probably a key factor.

    Another potential power suck in the T420s is the configuration I tested. Although I tested with the factory configuration and Windows 7 image, I did already have the mSATA drive installed in the PCIE slot.  I don’t yet know how big of an impact this had but considering other reports are in line with mine, I’m thinking it had very little difference.  I will eventually yank the micro SATA drive and run another test and report back.

    Performance and OS Support

    weiThe performance of the dual core i7 is phenomenal.  I have just started testing this machine but you can tell right away it’s built to handle some pretty high performance workloads.

    This machine is also a good example of where Intel, and the onboard Intel HD 3000 integrated GPU has closed the gap with some of the discrete GPU offerings on the market.  For your general computing needs, the integrated GPU is now sufficient for most people.  Having Optimus provides more external display support.

    In the screen shot at right, I changed the configuration since the battery testing occurred. I pulled the original factory 7mm Intel SSD and inserted one of my own. It too is a second gen X-25M 160GB SSD with the spacer removed to thin it down to 7mm.

    You can see the mSATA drive (C:) and the second generation SSD drive (D:).  I did a clean install of Windows 7 SP1 x64 to the mSATA drive and applied all patches and fixes.  I am storing all of my user data on drive D:.

    Notice the performance rating from WINSAT on the mSATA drive.  Not bad, eh?

    As usual I installed Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 and ran some quick checks to verify it would work as a Hyper-V server if needed.  In my limited testing, I didn’t see any issues. The network adaptor drivers install and work, the Optimus drivers installed (much to my surprise), and I was able to create and run a 64 bit virtual machine.  I have no intention of doing any longer term testing of R2.

    And for those of you that are linux fans, I have no intention of testing SLED or any other distros like Ubuntu.  Sorry, I just don’t have time for it this time around. Let me know if you do and have a blog entry somewhere.

    Final Thoughts

    For most people the big brother T420 is a better fit.  The T420 adds IEEE 1394 Firewire, eSATA, standard sized bays, longer battery life, etc.  The T420 is a little heavier and thicker but I think it offers the best combination of features.  If you really must have a lighter and thinner machine to carry from home to the office and back, the T420s should be on your list of considerations.  My wife will love a machine like this when she can pry the T410s away from me.

    If you want something really small with long battery life, see all of the reviews on the X220.  The screen on that machine is a little too small for me, but a lot of people really dig it.  With battery life approaching 24 hours it’s no wonder.

    [UPDATE for 4/17] Removing the mSATA drive did add some battery life.  Only 20 minutes.  That puts the max I was able to squeeze out of the battery at 2 hours 40 minutes. Not good.

    [UPDATE for 4/21] Yesterday I went back to the drawing board to test the T420s and the W520 with the dock I have (433820U). I tested the configuration at the bottom of http://www-307.ibm.com/pc/support/site.wss/document.do?lndocid=MIGR-76617 to see if the T420s would drive three external monitors. It does.

    I was able to drive the Dell E248WFP, Dell U2711, Dell 2407WFP and the T420s LCD all at the same time. The T420s would not drive the U2711 at it’s 2560x1440 native resolution. It would only go to 1920x1080. Everything else was running native.

    [UPDATE for 5/5] Yesterday I ran another battery test on the T420s and managed to keep it running over 5 hours.  Now before you get all excited, let me first say the scenario was one that some of you might do, but not very often.  I went through my Lenovo Power Manager power profile and fine tuned the battery settings to be extremely miserly.  There was one exception.  I don’t let the LCD screen turn off.  However, the dimmer timeout was set so that after 5 minutes the screen would dim to 30%.  Thirty percent of the brightness while on battery is really dim.  Swipes on the trackpad or keyboard would brighten the screen back to the 13 brightness level.  I didn’t do that very often.

    The actual test was pretty simple.  Start Microsoft Word and open a document.  Leave Word and the doc open (as if you are reading it).  In this state, the 6 cell battery lasted well over 5 hours.  I actually grabbed it at the 5 hour 5 minute mark and started recharging it.  Power Manager said it had 29 minutes left.

    So there you have it.  Some battery tests ranging from 2-5 hours.  That is a wide spectrum so your action item is to really make sure you understand the Lenovo Power Manager profiles, their settings, and the effect of what you are doing and it’s power use.

  • Earth Day - when gas hits $6 per gallon, what will you be driving?

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    I switched to a small fuel efficient car several years ago. The new CIVICs are pretty nice looking. Time to get serious America.

  • TechNet Professional Subscription Promotion Now Available

    imageWe have a new promotion for TechNet Professional Subscriptions from now until June 30, 2011 purchase a new TechNet Subscription Professional and receive an additional three (3) months of service at no extra charge. By using TN3MNA06 as the promo code you can receive the 3 bonus months on the TechNet Professional Subscription!

    Click here to get your TechNet Subscription: Purchase a TechNet Professional Subscription

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    1. Full-version software licensed for evaluation purposes; includes Microsoft operating systems, servers, and Office System software as well as Beta software: pre-release versions of Microsoft software to keep up to date on the latest technologies.
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    So go get your TechNet Professional Subscription today, and remember use the promotion code: TN3MNA06 and receive the 3 bonus months! This offer is only for NEW TechNet Subscription Professional orders only, and is only valid for redemption in the US. Offer is valid until June 30, 2011 and is subject to change.

  • The Magic eSATAp Cable

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    At the MVP Summit a couple of months ago I sat behind Aryeh Goretsky.  He’s a nice fellow with a background in security, Windows, and a number of other passions including Lenovo laptops.  We were showing off our various gadgets and he happened to have a cable similar to the one above.

    We talked about it and he informed me that he could boot Windows and other operating systems from a 2.5” attached drive.  This got my attention.  I’ve been using a variety of methods to do that for quite some time but they all have their pros and cons. 

    Notebook bay adaptors have been around for a long time. I first started using them a lot with the Compaq Armageddon M700 and ever since including the recent Lenovo ThinkPad W520.  Hard drive adaptors are easy enough to use but they typically involve wrappers, screws, and dexterity to get in and out of the machine.

    Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to plug into a naked 2.5” drive and boot an OS or grab data with ease?  Now you can.  The cable I bought from newegg.com cost me $9.99 USD and allows me to use a SSD drive or traditional hard drive just as if it was inside the notebook primary hard drive bay.

    What Is eSATAp?

    If you have a notebook with a combo USB eSATA port, it’s probably eSATAp.  Basically it’s an eSATA port with power being supplied courtesy of the USB connecter.  This means you don’t need an eSATA enclosure for the 2.5” SATA hard or SSD drive.  Many of the new Lenovo ThinkPads, HP Elitebooks, and Dell Latitude or Precision Mobile workstations include this port type.

    How’s the perf?

    I’ve copied data across the cable from a variety of sources to a number of targets including Intel Series 510 and X-25M SSD drives.  Testing included 500GB drives from Seagate and Hitachi.  I’ve formatted (long) drives.  I’ve also used “boot from VHD” to boot R2 SP1 from several drives and verify Hyper-V works properly.  So far I have yet to see an error or issue and the speed it very good.  Best $9.99 I’ve spent in a long time.

    And if you are scratching your head, think of this like those hard drives docks but much easier to throw in the backpack and hit the road with.  This is a must for your geek toolkit.

    Photo courtesy of newegg.com.

  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Breaks Cover

    It hasn’t been announced yet publicly, but Engadget seems to have confirmed the rumored ThinkPad X1 is real.

     

    x1

    There has been has been a lot of chatter about this machine with opinions all over the map on the screen, options, and price.  It sure seems way too early to form an opinion just yet.  I’m looking forward to testing one and checking out the new keyboard, screen, thinness and battery life.  Looks pretty cool to me. And I just happen to have a T61p going off warranty and ready to head to the Microsoft PC Recycle folks.  Darn. Grin.

  • Microsoft readies new store in my birthplace of Houston, Texas

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    Houston, Texas is getting a Microsoft Store at the world famous Galleria. Can I get a yeeee hhhaaaawwww?  Here’s to hoping Southlake Town Center, Texas is next.

  • Microsoft iSCSI Target is now a free download !!!

    ws2008 r2 blog logo

    The Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3 provides storage (disks) over a TCP/IP network. It turns a computer running Windows Server into a storage device which provides shared block storage. You can use Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3 to perform a variety of storage-related tasks, including the following:

    • Provide shared storage for Hyper-V to enable high availability and live migration
    • Consolidate storage for multiple application servers (i.e. Microsoft SQL Server or Hyper-V)
    • Provide shared storage for applications hosted on a Windows failover cluster
    • Enable diskless computers to boot remotely from a single operating system image using iSCSI.

    The Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3 is an economical solution suited for a development or test environment and a small, medium, or branch office production environment. It enables storage consolidation and sharing on a Windows Server by implementing the iSCSI (Internet Small Computer Systems Interface) protocol, which supports SCSI-block access to a storage device over a TCP/IP network. For details on how to manage iSCSI targets, see http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg232606(WS.10).aspx.

    Go get it @ http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=45105d7f-8c6c-4666-a305-c8189062a0d0. See additional information at http://blogs.technet.com/b/virtualization/archive/2011/04/04/free-microsoft-iscsi-target.aspx.

  • The Windows Phone Spring Update is coming to the ATT Samsung Focus

    windows phone WP_Brd_Blu_v_rgbOne of the most popular Windows Phone 7 devices in the USA is the Samsung Focus.  It’s really popular with Microsoft employees. 

    As you might imagine, there are a lot of people anxiously waiting for the update.  Well, the WP7 team just updated the status page and the update is now out of the testing phase and being scheduled for delivery.  Thank heavens!

    See http://www.microsoft.com/windowsphone/en-us/features/update-schedule-usa.aspx for the latest status.  See http://windowsteamblog.com/windows_phone/b/windowsphone/ for the team blog and information.  Let the “check for updates” watch begin. Grin.

  • It’s Superbowl time again - place yer bets

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    I’m not sure I’d want to be in this fight for the finish.  See http://consumerist.com/2011/04/worst-company-in-america-final-death-match-bank-of-america-vs-bp.html.

  • End of Windows XP Support - desktop gadget download

    winXPpro

    Looking to get off Windows XP? Use this handy gadget to count down the number of days until Windows XP End of Support (EOS) in 2014.  Someone has a sick sense of humor.  Go get it @ http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=53a27766-0168-4617-b44e-74b2886cec6d

  • ASUS Transformer goes on sale in the USA

    • ASUS TransformerNVIDIA® Tegra™ 2 1.0GHz dual-core CPU for excellent multitasking & 1080p video playback
    • Android 3.0 Honeycomb O.S. with Adobe® Flash® 10.2 support*2
    • Full QWERTY keyboard, touchpad input with Polaris® Office® for mobile productivity
    • 16*1 hours long battery life for all day computing with docking station
    • Brilliant IPS panel with ultra-wide 178⁰ viewing angle made from scratch resistant and super tough glass
    • One year of Unlimited ASUS WebStorage, two USB ports, SD and Micro SD card readers for easy sharing & storage expendability
    • 3D stereo with max bass response with SRS premium sound

    Hit this link for the full specs and details. Ready to buy?  Good luck finding one at the online retailers.  Here’s a snazzy video in the meantime. Looks cool. I’d like one.

  • Photosynth now available for the iPhone and iPad

    <a href="http://video.msn.com/?mkt=en-us&amp;from=sp&amp;fg=shareEmbed&amp;vid=286219d4-1988-4479-816f-12e36d18b514&amp;src=FLCP:sharebar:embed" target="_new" title="Microsoft Photosynth App – April 2011">Video: Microsoft Photosynth App – April 2011</a>

    This was developed by the Bing team and is a fascinating new application for those of you that have an iPhone, iPad 2, or late generation iPod Touch with camera.  According to the end of the video, it’s coming to Windows Phone next.  Enjoy.

    More information on Photosynth at http://photosynth.net/capture.aspx.  See the Photosynth Blog at http://blogs.msdn.com/b/photosynth/archive/2011/04/12/announcing-the-mobile-photosynth-app.aspx.  See all the cool synths at http://photosynth.net/default.aspx.

  • http://worldsbiggestpacman.com/ - check it out

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    The blog post and backgrounder on this.  Amazing stats.

  • SKYNET is coming

  • How about a 4x2 matrix on your desk?

    Paramount

    Anyone have one of these Humanscale Paramount monitor arms? This must throw off a little heat when fully populated, eh?

  • Dell Precision M4600 and M6600 Mobile Workstations coming May 10

    Precision MobileROUND ROCK, Texas, April 26, 2011 — Dell today announced the next generation Dell Precision M4600 and M6600 mobile workstations and dual-socket Dell Precision R5500 rack workstation, building upon the company’s heritage of delivering the highest-performing and most scalable workstation products. These mobile and remote systems, specifically designed for professionals who need raw horsepower, scalable performance and application certification, deliver a desktop workstation experience without being tied to a specific location.

    See the full press release at http://content.dell.com/us/en/corp/d/press-releases/2011-4-26-mobile-rack-workstations.aspx.

    See the blog post at http://en.community.dell.com/dell-blogs/Direct2Dell/b/direct2dell/archive/2011/04/26/dell-precision-m4600-and-m6600-mobile-workstations-available-worldwide-may-10.aspx.

    See your spouse for budget approval. Grin.

    Picture Courtesy of Dell Inc.

  • Talk TechNet airs 4/27 at 9am PST - Topic for the day - Virtualization

    TalkTechNetThis morning we’ll be taking questions live from you.  Join us at 9am PST as we host an episode on the topic of Virtualization.  Our guest this morning is Aidan Finn.  Aidan has many years of experience on this topic so please take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to ask a question you have.

    To register for this episode, head on over to https://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/WebCastEventDetails.aspx?EventID=1032483836&EventCategory=4&culture=en-US&CountryCode=US

    See http://technet.microsoft.com/talk for past episodes and the schedule of those to come.

  • Office 2010 AdminTemplate files (ADM, ADMX/ADML) and Office Customization Tool

    ofc-brand_h_rgbThis download includes Group Policy Administrative Template files and Office Customization Tool files for use with Office 2010 applications. It also includes an \Admin folder with an Office Customization Tool, and ADMX, ADML, and ADM versions of Office 2010 system Administrative Template files.

    For administrative template files, you may use the ADM files for any Windows operating system, or the combination of ADMX and language-specific ADML files on computers running at least Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008.

    Go get it @ http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=64b837b6-0aa0-4c07-bc34-bec3990a7956.

  • Want to learn IPv6? Here’s a test lab and guide to download

    ws2008 r2 blog logoInternet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) is designed to solve many of the problems of the current version of IP (known as IPv4) such as address depletion, autoconfiguration, extensibility, and restoration of end-to-end connectivity. Its use will also expand the capabilities of the Internet and enable a variety of valuable and exciting scenarios, including peer-to-peer and mobile applications.

    This paper contains an introduction to IPv6 and step-by-step instructions for extending the Base Configuration test lab to demonstrate IPv6 functionality and connectivity in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

    Go get it @ http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=9db5abdf-80e0-4c3e-9204-69c6c65e2195

  • Office for Mac SP1–now available for download

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    Go get it @ http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=ef1e612f-d8e3-4628-9fe4-ad136f0debd3. For full details of the changes and fixes, see http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2525412.

  • Want a portrait for your dog?

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    It’s weird how you discover stuff. I was watching twitter while doing a restore for my wife’s laptop and this cool dog avatar scrolled by in the #idol stream of tweets.  I followed that to Ann Ranlett’s link to her website.  I like her work so I thought you might be interested.  See http://www.annran.com/pages/dogs.htm.

    I used to have a German Shepard so the portrait of Max caught my eye.  I need to take some pics of Elvis and get her to do him.

  • Check out these numbers on Windows Phone 7

    windows phone WP_Brd_Blu_v_rgbBrandon Watson did a nice little post on the Windows Phone blog while I was traveling and in meetings. Hopefully you’ve already seen the full post but if not I thought you would enjoy some stats.  Here’s an excerpt:

    “The number:” 11,500 – What is an app? It’s a question that really begs some scrutinizing. For us, from the beginning, we have always been focused on quality over quantity. We recognize the importance of getting great apps on our platform and not artificially inflating the number of actual apps available to customer by listing “wallpapers” as a category, or perhaps allowing competitor’s apps to run on the platform to increase “tonnage.” We also don’t believe in the practice of counting “lite” apps as unique quality content. In reality they only exist because developers can’t have a Trial API and must therefore do extra work. Finally, we don’t double and triple count apps which are submitted in multiple languages.

    We respect that determining what is or is not a quality app is subjective, for example eBooks as titles will probably find their way onto the platform en masse. Still, we believe we have the standards and processes in place to continue ensuring that customers have the ability to quickly and easily locate and acquire quality apps and games that extend the value of their phone.

    We’ve been very focused on the quality of the apps in the Marketplace since we first announced the platform one year ago, and we’ve done this by doing what we do best for developers; giving them great tools, tons of sample code and unparalleled support through our incredible Developer & Platform Evangelism team. As a result, we’ve got apps; thousands of them. In fact our ecosystem generated 10,000 apps faster than anyone else, without padding the stats.

    Full post and some other amazing numbers @ http://windowsteamblog.com/windows_phone/b/wpdev/archive/2011/03/30/a-year-later-the-windows-phone-7-numbers-that-matter.aspx.

  • Robots Evolve

  • Viva La Springboard - The Springboard Tour Dates and Cities Announced!!!

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    May 2 – Toronto | May 4 – Detroit | May 6 – Chicago | May 9 – Indianapolis | May 11 – Dallas | May 13 - Columbus

    The Springboard Series Tour is back! This 6 city tour brings the top product teams from Microsoft to you. We understand the questions and issues that IT pros deal with every day. How do I manage end users bringing consumer devices into the office? Should we look to the cloud for key solutions? Should I virtualize? What are the best tools to manage application compatibility and deployment? The Springboard Series Tour brings the experts and the answers.

    Join us for a full day’s deep dive into the tools, solutions and options to help you do more with less. We will cover managing the flexible workspace, a first look at Windows Intune and Office 365. We’ll also show you some of the new Windows Slates and give you details around Microsoft’s strategy for Slate devices. We will preview  the new tools in the MDOP 2011 suite, a deep dive into managing and deploying Office 2010 and great tips and tricks to help you deploy Windows 7 and move your users from Windows XP with speed and ease.

    REGISTER NOW and save your seat for this free day of technical demos, Q&A sessions, and real-world guidance from Microsoft experts. We’ll see you on the road!

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  • Windows 7 RSAT released for SP1 - download now available

    windows7rc_bloglogoRemote Server Administration Tools for Windows 7 with SP1 enables IT administrators to manage roles and features that are installed on remote computers that are running Windows Server 2008 R2 with SP1 or Windows Server 2008 R2 (and, for some roles and features, Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2003) from a remote computer that is running Windows 7 or Windows 7 with SP1.

    It includes support for remote management of computers that are running either the Server Core or full installation options of Windows Server 2008 R2 with SP1, Windows Server 2008 R2, and for some roles and features, Windows Server 2008. Some roles and features on Windows Server 2003 can be managed remotely by using Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 7 with SP1, although the Server Core installation option is not available with the Windows Server 2003 operating system.

    Go get it @ http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=7d2f6ad7-656b-4313-a005-4e344e43997d

  • Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 SP1 - now available for download

    ws2008 r2 blog logoMicrosoft® Hyper-V™ Server 2008 R2 SP1 is a standalone product that provides a reliable and optimized virtualization solution enabling organizations to improve server utilization and reduce costs. With the addition of new features such as live migration and expanded processor and memory support for host systems, it allows organizations to consolidate workloads onto a single physical server and is a good solution for organizations who are consolidating servers as well as for development and test environments.

    By having the ability to plug into existing IT infrastructures Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 enables companies to reduce costs, improve utilization and provision new servers. It allows IT professionals to leverage existing patching, provisioning, management and support tools and processes. IT Professionals can continue to leverage their individual skills and the collective knowledge of Microsoft tools, minimizing the learning curve to manage Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2. In addition, with Microsoft providing comprehensive support for Microsoft applications and heterogeneous guest operating systems support, customers can virtualize with confidence and peace of mind.

    blah blah blah Smile

    Go get the .ISO, Overview and Livemigration Guide @ http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=92e2c4ba-6965-4f8e-abbe-cbb40556b680.

  • HP outs the EliteBook 8560w

    HP EliteBook 8560w Mobile Workstation - Business Laptop and Tablet PCsNEW chiseled design

    • From a precision-stamped chassis to the radial-brushed display cover, every aspect of the workstation exudes power and performance. The purposeful design of the HP EliteBook 8560w translates into true business ruggedness.
    • This mobile workstation boasts military-grade testing for drop, vibration, dust, humidity, altitude and high temperature. Work on the road just became less stressful.

    Workstation-caliber graphics

    • Maximize on-screen performance with your choice of ATI or NVIDIA’s ISV-certified workstation graphics. See this video about how one architect used his HP Mobile Workstation.

    More marketing at HP.com. See the specs for some interesting details.

  • Want to see this on TV? Watch the YouTube version and help make it happen

  • Intel Series 320 600GB SSD now selling!

    imageIntel® Solid-State Drives (Intel® SSDs) just got better. The next generation Intel SSD 320 Series offers built-in data protection features, better performance, larger capacities and more value for your money.

    Available in a wide range of capacities, the Intel SSD 320 Series provides you with the flexibility to choose an SSD that best fits your need and budget.

    Whether you choose the 40 gigabytes (GB), 80GB, 120GB, 160GB, 300GB or 600GB capacity, the Intel SSD 320 Series delivers the highly responsive PC experience you desire.

    Get the rest of the marketing information at http://www.intel.com/design/flash/nand/320series/overview.htm

    Ready to buy?  Head on over to http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820167061 or click the pic from their site.  Make sure you have plenty of head room on your credit card.

  • Springboard Tour comes to Dallas 5/11 - register now!

    Slate Devices and the Windows Enterprise

    Slates are among the hottest consumer and enterprise devices today and consumerization of IT has driven lots of discussion and analysis about how and when to leverage these devices in the Enterprise. In this session we will detail Microsoft’s Strategy around Slate devices, Technical differentiators you can expect in Windows Slates, technology we have to support non Windows Slates, and we’ll show you some of the existing and upcoming Windows Slates.

    Why Desktop IT Pros Should Care About the Cloud

    One term gets used and abused in the tech world: Cloud. How does it impact the desktop? What is really possible today? In our session your will learn how the cloud will allow you to quickly scale to more users, manage your users and devices without having to invest in a large infrastructure, and provide the latest productivity services to your business. We will first start off introducing Windows Intune and discussing best practices in PC management, the challenges of protecting and supporting remote users and their experience with Windows Intune. In addition to product demonstration we will dig into the how-to tips and tricks behind support your on premise PC’s as well as those non-domain joined in remote locations. Then we will show how Office 365 enables business to quickly use the latest client & server technologies, Office Professional Plus, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, and Lync Online, through one easy to manage portal. Desktop IT Pros are key to helping their customers update the desktop with Office Professional Plus and enable the anywhere access to e-mail, documents, and collaboration.

    The Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack: What’s New in MDOP 2011 and What’s Coming Soon

    MDOP has been updated for 2011, with all new versions of Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) 4.6 Service Pack 1 and Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V) 2.0. Find out how App-V 4.6 SP1 helps you make virtualizing and managing your applications easy, fast and predictable, while MED-V 2.0 helps you break barriers to Windows 7 migration. Coming soon to MDOP: Microsoft BitLocker Administration and Monitoring (MBAM), and the Diagnostic and Recovery Toolset (DaRT) 7. See how MBAM can help you deploy and provision BitLocker, improve compliance and reporting and allow standard users to perform basic BitLocker tasks. And you’ll get a sneak peek at new DaRT 7 features.

    Planning & Customizing Office 2010 for your Environment

    Many IT Pros are starting from scratch when planning their organization's desktop refresh and Office 2010 rollout. Get a head start by attending this session! For Office 2010 there are key planning stages for file compatibility and remediation, add-in compatibility, and Office customization. You will learn the toolset needed for each of these phases, such as the OMPM, OEAT, OCCI, and OCT. You will learn about managing Office through SCM and Office 2010 security features, as well as SP1. The last section will highlight free resources to help ready and train your users as part of your deployment plan. This session will prepare you to leverage the Office 2010 resources for a smooth rollout!

    Alphabet Soup Deployment – Understanding MDT, WDS, MAP, ACT, SCCM, and USMT

    This deep dive session will cover why using Microsoft’s package-based imaging tools will save you time and money over your current sector based imaging product. We’ll cover how these free tools (MDT. WDS, MAP, and ACT) will allow you to seamlessly categorize what applications you currently have, which ones are supported with Windows 7, provide app compat help and move your users from Windows XP to Windows 7, along with all their data, in less than 60 minutes! This is a must-see session for those deploying Windows and Office.

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    Registration

    Register for the Dallas event on May 11th @ https://www.ustechsregister.com/springboardseriestour/registrationcreateaccount.aspx?EV=5086. See the other cities and dates at http://www.springboardseriestour.com/register.

  • Talk TechNet subject for 4/15 - Windows Client Security - register now!

    TalkTechNetI know many of you are avoiding tomorrow because it’s USA Federal Income Tax deadline day.  But you should not be avoiding learning about Windows Client Security or getting your questions answered on that topic. 

    You’re in for a treat.  Elias Mereb is our guest and he’s a sharp MVP I had the pleasure of meeting a few weeks ago in Seattle at the MVP Summit.  Because he’s a Windows Client expert on IT Pro topics, he can handle a wide variety of questions but we thought security would be good for discussion.

    Join us at 9am PST for #TalkTechNet.  You can ask questions via LiveMeeting or call us directly on the phone.  Stuck in traffic?  No problem.  Call us at 800-229-0449.  Use PIN 4331. *8 let’s us know you are in the queue and want to ask a question.  Hang tight and we’ll get to you asap.

    For those of you that want to listen from your computer and LiveMeeting, head on over to the registration URL at https://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/WebCastEventDetails.aspx?EventID=1032483829&EventCategory=4&culture=en-US&CountryCode=US.  Talk to you in the morning!!!