Monthly Archives: January 2009

Formatting your shiny new external hard drive

About a year ago I purchased a MacBook Pro.  I had been following Apple for some time, as a casual observer, but with the announcement of Intel chips and the ability to run Vista (and mac os X, redhat, ubuntu, etc.) on a mac really encouraged me to take the leap.  I probably fall into that category of power user, as I tend to max out my peripherials, external usb hubs to connect all my gear, external displays, and most recently a firewire external hard drive.

Now I’ve had several external hard drives in the past, but had always had to format them differently so they played nicely between vista/mac OS, often keeping some NTFS (windows), some fat32 (both) or the default Mac OS Extended (journaled) – but this time I wanted one drive to rule all others – fat32! If you didn’t already know, fat32 can be read (and written to) by both MacOS  & Vista, so you can utilize the drive (with some minor limitations) under either OS!  Great for centralizing your media, mp3’s, pics, etc – as they typically don’t exceed the 4GB limitation.

Couple of things to note, fat32 does have limitations.  First, it has a size limitation on the files you store on the drive, 4GB.  Also, if you try to format with winXP or Vista, it barks if you try to create a partition larger than 32GB.  We’ll discuss work-arounds below.

Quickly, if you are trying to format fat32 on winXP and Vista, you’ve probably noticed the GUI only lets you format with NTFS.  So how can you do it (knowing the limitations above)?  Easy: Go to ‘run’ from the start buttona nd type ‘cmd’ to bring up the command prompt.  Next, type: format (drive letter): /fs:fat32 – and off you go.

Now, if you moved along too quickly (as i did) you’ll get a “The volume is too big for fat32” error message – this is windows thing, grandfathered back from when the Indians used to format hard drives and there were known issues with drives > 32GB.  Technically speaking, the fat32 format should theoretically support up to 2TB!  Anyhow, here’s how you can work around this:

*Below outlines how to do this in Windows, if you prefer Mac, this can be done easily using the Disk Utility.  Note:  This has worked well for me in the past using external USB drives, however my firewire drive, while formatting fine on the mac side, was not recognized on Windows, and required me to re-format (below.)

Here’s the *Windows* workaround, you need to get yourself a drive letter so you can access the partition.  Open control panel / administrative tools / computer managment / and locate teh Disk Management (under Storage) – you should see a black bar with the disk # and status of the drive.  Right click and choose Mark Partition as active.  Then right click again and choose change drive letter, set it to your desired letter.  If you want help with this step, here’s a guide:

Next, you’re ready to format, download a copy of fat32format. Extract the single EXE file to somewhere suitable, like C:\. Click Start->Run and enter cmd. CD to the where you extracted the fat32format exe, e.g. by typing CD /D c:\

Now, type this (if using Vista, make sure you’re running command prompt as administrator)

    fat32format f: (or whatever your drive letter is)

You should see this displayed

    Warning ALL data on drive 'f' will be lost irretrievably, are you sure (y/n)

Now when it says this, it really means it. If you format the boot sector, FATs and root directory will be filled with zeros. By pressing Y and hitting return, whatever was on the disk before will be wiped clean.

Assuming you don’t bail out at this point you should see something like this (rather quickly) –

    Warning ALL data on drive 'f' will be lost irretrievably, are you sure
    (y/n) :y
    Size : 250GB 488392002 sectors
    512 Bytes Per Sector, Cluster size 32768 bytes
    Volume ID is 1bdb:2c1d
    32 Reserved Sectors, 59604 Sectors per FAT, 2 fats
    7629261 Total clusters
    7629260 Free Clusters
    Formatting drive f:...
    Clearing out 119304 sectors for Reserved sectors, fats and root cluster...
    Wrote 61083648 bytes in 0.988463 seconds, 61796609.106193 bytes/sec
    Initialising reserved sectors and FATs...

That should do it!  If you want to confirm the results, type: chkdsk f:


IT Job outlook for 2009

January has been brutal for U.S. workers. Company after company has announced layoffs, salary freezes, unpaid furloughs, hiring freezes, plant closings, and budget cuts. With all the bad news flooding the wire, it’s easy to forget that more than nine out of ten Americans in the workforce still have jobs despite the dramatic downturn.

Those who work in the IT profession are certainly not immune to the pain that has been afflicting the U.S. job market, but they do have a few factors going for them that could help many of them weather the storm better than some of their co-workers in other fields. Let’s take a look at several trends – the good and the bad – currently affecting the IT job market and then read the tea leaves to decipher what we might expect from the IT jobs outlook in 2009.

IT pro salaries went up in 2008

As part of its annual salary survey, the tech job portal surveyed 19,444 IT professionals between August and November 2008. Dice reported that the average salary for working in IT is now $78,035, a 4.6% increase over 2007 ($74,570).

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • Job roles with the largest raises: Security analyst (8.4%), Software engineer (7%), Application developer (6.6%), and Network engineer (6%)
  • Outside of managers and executives, the highest paying job role in IT was Project manager, making an average salary of $103,424.
  • Several large metro areas saw significant jumps in average pay: Detroit (9%), Phoenix (8.5%), San Diego (8.3%), and Miami (7.7%)
  • The metropolitan areas that saw the largest increases in IT worker salaries were all mid-sized cities: Charlotte (14.7%), St. Louis (12.5%), Pittsburgh (11.9%), Portland, OR (9.3%), and Baltimore (9.2%)
  • As a whole, female IT pros make 12% less than male IT pros, although this number flattens out when comparing women and men with comparable job titles, years of experience, and educational levels

“That average tech salaries are rising even as the economy falls reveals how much has changed since the dot-com days,” said Tom Silver, Chief Marketing Officer at Dice. “Today many technology professionals are seen as core assets where they work. As they enhance their skills, they’ll need to align those efforts with the market’s shifting demands. However, over the long-term, updating and broadening one’s skill set is the key to continued salary gains.”

IT pros are worried about 2009

Despite the salary uptick in 2008, the respondents to the Dice survey also expressed some major fear and uncertainty about 2009.When asked about their biggest career concerns for 2009, the IT pros responded as follows:

  • Keeping skills up to date (22%)
  • Position elimination (20%)
  • Lower salary increases (14%)
  • Canceled projects / fewer projects (12%)
  • Increased workload, due to staff cuts (10%)

The survey also stated, “Dice reports a 67 percent increase in the number of new resumes posted to its site in the fourth quarter (year over year). Given that the majority of technology professionals who utilize Dice are currently employed, such ‘passive job hunting’ indicates greater anxiety about the job market.”

Companies with cash are still laying off workers

Tom Foremski over at ZDNet also spotted a disturbing trend. He did an analysis of several of the big tech companies that have announced layoffs and found that many of them have very strong balance sheets, with enough cash to weather the downturn without resorting to layoffs. The fact that they are still doing layoffs is a bad sign. It says that they do not have confidence that the economy will turn around anytime soon, otherwise they would simply use their ample cash to ride it out in the short term and come out stronger on the other side.

Here are the big tech companies that Foremski pinpointed:

  • Microsoft: $19.71 billion ($1.98 billion debt)
  • Apple: $24.49 billion (0 debt)
  • Intel: $11.84 billion ($1.99 billion debt)
  • Cisco Systems: $26.7 billion ($6.87 billion debt)
  • Adobe: $2.02 billion ($350 million debt)
  • Google: $14.41 billion (0 debt)
  • Yahoo: $3.2 billion ($63 million debt)

As Tom put it, “It’s tough to be laid off, [but] it must be tougher still to be laid off from a company with billions in cash – especially since you helped build that cash reserve.”

Who’s hiring?

Rafe Needleman over at Webware has a spreadsheet that tracks the tech companies that are still hiring despite the current economic malaise. Here is list of the some of the most recognizable companies on the spreadsheet and in parentheses you can see the number of open positions they have at the time this article is being written.

  • Intel (1000+)
  • (400+)
  • Walmart IT (300+)
  • Apple (189)
  • Siemens IT (100+)
  • Garmin (100+)
  • Facebook (100)
  • Samsung (50+)
  • Research in Motion (50)
  • Yale University IT (45)
  • GoDaddy (45)
  • Omniture (35)
  • Mozilla (30)
  • Barracuda Networks (28)
  • Cisco (25)
  • Billhighway (5)

At the time this article was written, listed 56,830 open jobs in the IT field.

The bottom line

The biggest factor that IT professionals have going for them during this economic downturn is that many organizations are looking to IT to help the company streamline, automate, conserve energy, cut costs, reduce headcount, and generally do-more-with-less. In some cases, that will mean spending more money in IT in order to reduce costs in other departments.

On the other hand, one of the biggest targets for cuts in many organizations is central services, which is being whacked in order to reduce overhead. Highly-centralized IT departments will be a huge target in these types of organizations because IT professionals are typically well-paid on the salary scale and a centralized IT budget is typically a big number, which puts a huge bulls-eye on it.

Ultimately, some centralized IT departments that have not articulated their value well enough will be hit hard by this current economic downturn. However, a lot of others will seize on this as a great opportunity to demonstrate the value of IT at a time when the chips are down and a lot is at stake.

*Re-posted article by Jason Hiner, Editor in Chief of TechRepublic

GL-SPIN – Agile Software Development

Agile groupies recently posted a video from January 14th’s GL-SPIN Agile panel discussion that took place at School Craft College.  If you live in Michigan and you’re not familiar with Agile Groupies or GL Spin, and you’re interested in learning more about Agile principals, you should check them out.

You can watch the Agile panel discussion video here: – it runs about 1.5 hrs.

Deloitte 2009 Global Predictions for Technology Industry

Key Themes Include Netbooks, Social Media and Smart Grid Technology

The arrival of netbooks as a competing PC platform, the explosion of social media networking for both business and personal use and the rise of smart grid technology are among the emerging themes unveiled today in Deloitte’s 2009 global predictions for the technology industry.

“In 2009, low-cost netbooks are going to disrupt the PC industry; social networking will no longer be just for the teenager, but a mandate by the CIO; and smart grid technology will represent the biggest and fastest growing sector in green tech, perhaps even in the entire technology market,” said Eric Openshaw, vice chairman and U.S. technology leader for Deloitte LLP. “The most significant emerging technologies will be those that deliver cost-efficiency, contribute to environmental sustainability and drive new forms of personal and business collaboration.”

Among Deloitte’s technology predictions for 2009, highlights include:

Making Every Electron Count: The Rise of the Smart Grid

In 2009, electricity is expected to account for over 16 percent of all energy used. However, the average efficiency of the world’s legacy electricity grids is around only 33 percent. Enter smart grid technologies. Smart grid companies add computer intelligence and networking to existing electrical grids, yielding a consumption savings of up to 30 percent. Smart grid solutions providers enjoyed 50 percent revenue growth in 2008 and may generate $25 billion in revenues in 2009. Although the global economy may make public spending on smart grid unlikely, governments may choose to offer tax incentives as well as consider how smart grid technology can reduce non-domestic energy dependence and help make the grid more secure. To conserve costs, profit-oriented utilities and enterprises may deploy smart grid technologies even without government support. Major manufacturers and utilities may even want to explore partnerships with or acquisition of smart energy companies.

Disrupting the PC: The Rise of the Netbook

The netbook, also known as the mini-notebook, is likely to be the fastest growing PC segment in 2009. The momentum behind netbooks should grow, with new models offering better processors and improved hard drives. Although netbooks have the potential to threaten PC and other subsectors’ margins, careful market development and expanded applications offer significant opportunities as well. PC manufacturers should consider the market for premium netbooks, with producers of operating systems developing products designed specifically for netbooks. Other technology companies should take advantage of the inexpensive, low-power central processing units (CPUs) of netbooks, with home-media systems, digital video recorders and game consoles capitalizing on the new CPUs. Already, wireless carriers are looking to subsidize netbooks as a way to lock in wireless data subscribers. Netbooks can also be used by office workers instead of conventional PCs and even replace field force worker’s clipboards or PDAs.

Social Networks in the Enterprise: Facebook for the Fortune 500

It looks as though 2009 will be the breakout year for social networks in the enterprise. Large IT companies are planning on spending significant money in 2009 on social network applications and are building research centers that focus exclusively on enterprise social networking (ESN).

Some major telecommunications companies are already deploying social networking solutions internally and as part of their global service offerings. Even governments are likely to deploy ESN, both internally and to interact with constituents. But while ESN looks like an easy way to capture value at a relatively low cost and applications are still being refined, enterprises need to develop social networks so that they engender productivity and balance control with employees’ desire for privacy.

Accessing Deloitte’s Global Predictions and US Outlook Reports

Predictions 2009 is a series of three reports examining emerging developments and how they will shape the technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) industries. The 2009 series has drawn on internal and external inputs from conversations with member firm clients, contributions from Deloitte member firms’ 6,000 partners and managers specializing in TMT and discussions with industry analysts as well as interviews with leading executives from around the globe. Each report includes recommendations on how to best leverage these trends.

Full reports on Deloitte’s predictions for the technology, media and telecommunications industries are available at

Accompanying the global TMT predictions this year, a closer look at the U.S. market is available in a separate report called the Deloitte 2009 Industry Outlook. For additional details on this report, please visit

Netflix continues to push the envelope..

Netflix, in tight competition with BlockBuster, Apple TV and even Amazon – continues to push the boundaries with video on demand. Last year, Roku announced a device which enables you to stream Netflix video directly to your tv, all you need is a $8.99/mo. netFlix account, the Roku device ($99) and a broadband internet connection. Also last year, LG and Samsung began offering blue ray players with BD Live which uses the internet to extend your movie viewing experience through downloaded content; in addition to, you guessed it – streaming NetFlix!

The Samsung BD-2500, and LG BD300 offer bundled blue ray + netflix capability in one device. As if that wasn’t enough, Netflix has also partnered with Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3 to watch (stream) Netflix movies directly to your game console. pretty cool, huh? Most recently, LG has announced Netflix streaming directly to a new line of HDTVs.

And, not to be out done, Mac/linux (and Apple TV, kinda) get Boxee! Boxee (from their website) gives you a true entertainment experience to enjoy your movies, TV shows, music and photos, as well as streaming content from websites like Hulu, Netflix, CBS, Comedy Central,, and flickr.

So, what’s next? My guess is competitive pressure. Apple and Amazon seem the best positioned, but BlockBuster hasn’t rolled over yet, so I’m guessing somebody somewhere at BlockBuster is willing to buy their way into the video streaming game, if they can’t roll their own!? Apple TV has yet to hit critical mass, and with Jobs on medical leave, it’s anybody’s guess. Amazon, in my opinion is probably the biggest wild card, they’ve also begun offering their video services within settop devices and has the technical staff and financial capital to compete with the best of them. It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out, my guess is we’ll see video-on-demand take a huge step forward in 2009, for us early-adopters, with mainstream audiences benefiting in 2010.

If this is all new to you, dont’ feel bad you’re not alone, however no video-on-demand conversation would be complete without considering today’s options, which include: Comcast On Demand, AT&T Uverse, Verizon’s Fios and heck, just for fun slingBox, which is not technically a video “provider” but they sure make watching video alot more fun!

*Update* Today I saw a demo of a blockbuster Mesh/silverlight (Microsoft) application, which actually looked pretty cool. So, blockbuster isn’t rolling over and playing dead after all! It seems MS and Blockbuster announced a deal in December to collaborate in the great “video war” with netflix. While this is pretty cool, from what I’ve seen it’s only supported on a computer (web) with mobile most likely coming soon. Cool, yes for techies, still a ways from mainstream appeal such as netflix set-top boxes.

Twitter for Business

Twitter and Micro-blogging

Twitter has already had a huge impact on blogging in general.  Commonly referred to as micro-blogging, it has wide-reaching affects on the blogsphere, everything from traditional “blog” posts to shifting media consumption, to what Robert Scoble refers to as the “real time web.”  With Twitter, real-time updates almost trump blogging, which (compared to twitter) has become a more formal medium for exchanging commentary, and thus takes more time.

Twitter is such a hot topic today, it’s hard for anybody to really ignore it, whether you choose to participate in it or not, it presents a similar [watershed] movement that further pushes the online conversational boundaries.  Messaging, as it appears is far from dead.  Email, however, in some circles has resorted to communications for the elderly, non-technical, or sun-setters. crazy i know.

Over at Mashable, Rachel Cunliffe posted a blog about 10 ways Twitter with change Blog design in 2009, which if you’re a blogger, you may want to check out.  Below are a few more [mashable] links to help get you up to speed on Twitter, if you’re not already bonging the cool-aid: