Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

May, 2012

  • Mini VGA? Really?

    Could someone please explain to me why mini VGA is a port on two of the latest Ultrabook style machines?  The second generation Samsung Series 9 machine, and the latest ASUS Zenbook (not yet shipping) both have mini HDMI and mini VGA.  I get that a lot of you might want to connect the notebook to a HDTV so full size HDMI or mini HDMI is needed, but why mini VGA instead of mini DisplayPort?

    Somebody please explain this to me.

    I know how this will go.  Someone will come armed with data showing the pervasive resolution of desktop LCD panels is still at or below 1920x1200 or 1920x1080. I know that.  But there are all sort of adapters that convert from mini DP to VGA.  There are plenty of adapters that convert from mini DP to HDMI and DVI for that matter. 

    If mini DisplayPort lets you easily go to VGA, DVI and HDMI, why isn’t that being chosen on a cubic centimeter constrained Ultrabook class machine?  I know, here come the dongle arguments.

    Port Conversions

    • VGA - if you have a VGA port on your notebook, it’s used as VGA.  Nobody really converts to anything else, right?
    • Mini VGA - like the big legacy VGA connector, you aren’t really going to convert from mini VGA to anything other than VGA.
    • HDMI - having a full size HDMI port on your notebook is the easiest connection to a modern HDTV.  Converting to anything else, not so much.  The problem with HDMI is that it doesn’t support resolutions above 1920x1200.  And getting from HDMI to VGA, DVI and DisplayPort is a pain.
    • Mini HDMI - easily converted to standard HDMI.  Really dirt cheap dongles and couplers from places like  Going from mini HDMI to VGA is harder and requires a special dongle.  You will pay for that privilege. Going from mini HDMI to single link DVI is relatively easy and cheap.  Going from mini HDMI to dual link DVI or DisplayPort and resolutions about 1920x1200 is either impossible or expensive.
    • DisplayPort - seeing a full size DisplayPort connector on a notebook is pretty rare.  The ThinkPad's have had them for a while and converting from DP to DVI is relatively cheap and easy.  DP to HDMI is cheap and easy, too.  DP to VGA is also typically below $20 for an adapter.  And DP to DP works and gives you full resolution on high resolution panels sporting 2560x1440 or above.
    • Mini DisplayPort - like the full size DisplayPort, converting to DVI, HDMI and VGA is easily done.  There are plenty of connectors and adapters.  Mini DP to DP is easily done cheaply thus supporting high resolutions LCD panels.

    So if it’s relatively easy and cheap to go from mini DisplayPort to everything else, why isn’t it on ALL of the new Ivy Bridge notebook computers.  Somebody please explain this one to me.

  • Aluminum is out, Carbon is in


    Lenovo is currently having their partner conference in Las Vegas and decided to use this evening for some announcements.  One of the machines I evaluated last year was the ThinkPad X1.  The new Ivy Bridge chipset based X1 includes a new thinner and lighter carbon shell and chassis along with an improved 1600x900 display. 

    The picture above makes it look like the screen is a non glossy matte screen but some of the pics from the conference have a lot of shine on the screen so it’s hard to tell.  The 14” screen should be a hit if it has good brightness, color, etc.  We’ll have to wait and see if Lenovo revived the Flexview IPS screen.  Hopefully they did but don’t count on it.

    At 3 pounds, this is sure to be a hit with the travel crowd.  One of the cool features of the previous X1 that made it to the X1 Carbon is the rapid charge technology.  I really liked that.  Charge the battery to at least 80% in 30 minutes.  Nice.

    The previous X1 had a backlit chiclet leyboard and so does the X1 Carbon.  I’m sure Lenovo will release the full specifications very soon.  Until then, save your pennies. 

  • Infrastructure and Planning Guide mother load

    The Infrastructure Planning and Design (IPD) guides are the next version of Windows Server System Reference Architecture. The guides in this series help clarify and streamline design processes for Microsoft infrastructure technologies, with each guide addressing a unique infrastructure technology or scenario.

    Here’s the updated list of the guides now available on the download center.  Click the pic to head over to the download center for the individual downloads.


    Go get em @

  • HP Launches New Ultrabooks

    imageSomeone apparently didn’t get all of the embargo information quite right today because I noticed several false starts on the HP announcements for some notebook models.  Oh well, nobody is perfect. 

    Pictured at right is the coming HP Folio Ultrabook.  It isn’t scheduled to start shipping until October so don’t start jumping up and down with joy. 

    There are several things I like in the pictures of the machine.  DisplayPort, VGA and a RJ-45 Ethernet jack are on the edges for you corporate computing presenters.  I also like the built-in smartcard reader.  This could be my next corporate travel machine.

    imageThen there’s the new HP Spectre XT.  Unfortunately this machine will be a non-starter for me due to the 1366x768 screen and HDMI thus limiting the maximum video output to my desktop monitors.

    The Spectre XT looks very nice so it will be interesting to see how it fairs in the reviews.  It looks like the third week in June is the target for availability.  If you can’t wait until then, there were some other Sleekbooks, Ultrabooks and Pavillions announced today as well.  Look for all of the gory specification details on very soon.  Some of it is already lit up at

    See the HP press release at for more information.  The Envy lineup is at

    Eventually the marketing folks will discover the link to is broken.

    [UPDATE for 5/9/2012] I just read the Folio 9470m screen is going to be 1366x768.  That automatically removes the machine from my personal consideration. I need 1600x900 or greater native resolution. IPS or PLS screen preferred.

  • Fond memories - one day I’ll have one


    A friend of mine in high school had one.  There was a Datsun place behind the establishment I worked at in college.  I’ve always wanted one.  I told myself back in the poor days of college I would buy a new Z someday when I can afford it.  In 2004, I came close.  I didn’t like the current Z so I bought the Infiniti G Coupe.  It wasn’t the same.  It wasn’t a Z. So when I ran across the picture above, it rekindled the Z fire.  I want one again.  Grin.

  • Photosynth Available for Windows Phone 7.5

    PhotosynthPhotosynth for Windows Phone is the panorama app that makes it easy and fun to capture and share interactive panoramas of the places, people, and events that are important to you. Using the latest in computer vision techniques, Photosynth is the acknowledged leader in mobile panorama creation. It is the only app available on any mobile platform that allows you to capture 360 degrees horizontally and vertically, making a perfect “sphere."

    Once you’ve created a Photosynth, you can share it as an interactive panorama experience on Facebook and Twitter (using the free service) or as a simple image. You can also publish your panoramas to Bing where millions of people will see your panoramas, on Bing Maps and in Bing search results for the places you've captured. And check out our featured list, where we show off the best of what you and your fellow users create and share.

    Go get it @

  • 300 Mbps soon to be available on Verizon FIOS

    NEW YORK – May 30, 2012 –  Responding to consumer demand for ultra-high-speed home broadband service, Verizon next month will more than double the speeds of several of its FiOS Internet tiers - and introduce two new tiers with even faster speeds.

    The new FiOS Internet portfolio will feature download/upload speed tiers of 50/25 and 150/65 megabits per second (Mbps), as well as two new tiers of 75/35 and 300/65 Mbps.  The latter speed is double that of FiOS Internet's current top speed of 150/35 Mbps, the nation's fastest, mass scale residential Internet speed.

    See for the full press release.


  • Let the downloading begin - Windows 8 Release Preview Announced

    Windows 8 Release Preview - Download it nowREDMOND, Wash. — May 31, 2012 — Microsoft Corp. today announced the availability of the Windows 8 Release Preview, the next milestone of the highly anticipated Windows 8 operating system. Available for download today in 14 languages at, the Windows 8 Release Preview delivers a fast and fluid experience, along with a new user interface that responds equally well to touch as it does to keyboard and mouse. Since the February release of Windows 8 Consumer Preview, which was downloaded more than 1 million times in the first 24 hours, Windows 8 has become the most tested Microsoft operating system of all time, and with today’s release, it enters its final phase of development before it releases to manufacturing.

    “We’re thrilled to be at this milestone with the Windows 8 Release Preview,” said Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live Division at Microsoft.

    See the entire press release at

  • Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate - now available


    Click the pic above or head on over to for more information.

  • I totally want this for my home office


    For Sale !!!

    [UPDATE for 5/19/2012] Apparently this specimen and auction is of dubious origin.  Maybe I don’t want it for my home office after all.  See the article on this possible illegally obtained critter at

    [Update for 5/20/2012] “The Honorable Carlos Cortez, a Dallas, Texas district court judge, granted a “Temporary Restraining Order” (TRO), after an application by Houston attorney Robert Painter, legal counsel for His Excellency Elbegdorj Tsakhia, President of Mongolia.”  See the rest of the press release at the bottom of the Wired article.  I wonder how Indiana Jones would feel about this.

  • The Windows 8 User Experience Gets Explained

    Yesterday the Windows development team posted a lengthy blog post on the history of the Windows UI, and the thinking behind the decisions they are making for Windows 8.  Here’s an excerpt from that article:

    “At the D: All Things Digital conference in June 2011, we demonstrated for the first time the new user interface that we developed for Windows 8. This new UI is fast and fluid to use, and optimized for mobile form factors such as laptops, tablets, and convertibles, where people spend the vast majority of their time today. Windows 8 works equally well with mouse, keyboard, or your fingers, and has the best pen support of any OS. It supports multiple displays and the widest array of configurations and form factors of any OS. On top of all that, Windows 8 introduces a new kind of app, which we codenamed “Metro style” following the design language that has evolved going back to Windows Media Center and the new Windows Phone. These apps are immersive, full-screen, beautiful, and optimized for the ways that people commonly use devices today.

    I thought it would be useful to take a step back and describe a little bit of the background of how the Windows 8 user interface was designed, and discuss some of the decisions we’ve made and the goals of this new experience in more detail.” - by Jensen Harris, Director of Program Management for the User Experience.

    See the full article @

  • Microsoft Private Cloud Summit - registration open and seats still available


    Join us at the Microsoft Private Cloud Summit with the “Best of Microsoft Management Summit”! Learn about how the new System Center 2012 can help you manage nearly everything in your infrastructure – from the desktop, to devices, to datacenter and the cloud. At this one-day event, you will hear directly from our Redmond-based product team and Microsoft technology evangelists who will share what is new in System Center 2012, and give you a sneak peak of Windows Server “8”.

    You will have the opportunity to engage with a panel of experts and get hands-on with the technology to see how you can simplify the management of your infrastructure, monitor and remediate application issues, and automate routine tasks.

    Agenda and Details - see for the full agenda, details and times.  Please note there is information for the hands on IT Camp as well.


  • Windows 8 and Windows Media Center - details from the product development group

    I have been a Windows Media Center fan for nearly a decade now so I was certainly interested to see what the product group had in store for Windows 8.  Yesterday afternoon they disclosed the plan in more detail.  Here’s an excerpt from the beginning:

    “In this post we wanted to update you on Media Center and Windows 8, specifically how we will make sure Windows 8 fully supports the capabilities of Media Center as it is in Windows 7. We took the feedback about maintaining the functionality very seriously, and we clearly understood what we’ve heard many of you saying around the value of Media Center for movies, Internet TV, broadcast TV, optical media, music, photos, and all the other scenarios it covers today. Many said in comments and email to us, that so long as the feature is available somehow it is fine. This post is how we will deliver on that and continue to support Media Center for another product lifecycle.”

    See the full details at

    Here’s a follow-up post on the discussion of DVD playback -