Category Archives: Technology

2011 Apple Wish List

I’ve slowly accumulated a slew of Apple gear over the past couple years, not entirely intentional.  I use a 2008 MacBook Pro for work and a 2009 iMac at home, both of which have held up nicely.  However, times have changed, as have my needs.  Today I want (and to some degree) need MORE!

I expect to upgrade both my laptop and desktop in 2011, IF Apple can provide the gear to satisfy my discerning needs.  I’m what you call a power user.  In my day job, I run Windows 7 (via bootcamp) for Office, Visual Studio, SQL, etc. with most of my personal computing done via Mac OSX; Adobe Suite, Aperture & Final Cut Pro.  I also run VM Fusion with RedHat & Ubuntu and of course, expect everything to place nice together.  I’ll publish another post outlining my home-network (spoiler alert: I have a 42U rack, cisco/juniper equipment w/native 1GB connectivity & 10+TB of home storage!)

Today, I’d like to cast my 2011 Apple Wish List; and I promise if Apple upholds their end of the bargin, I’ll gladly acquire equipment upon pre-order.  I’m intimately aware there are many reasons why they have not shipped such amenities to date, but the ‘consumer’ in me doesn’t care about that – I just want the goods Apple, make it happen.

2011 MacBook Pro/iMac:

  • 3.4 Ghz 4+ Core, 2nd Generation i7 (aka Sandy Bridge) Processor (likely) or 6-core Gulftown i7 (unlikely)
  • USB 3.0 (unlikely, but possible)
  • 500GB SSD primary hard-drive (possible, 256gb likely)
  • 1TB SATA secondary hard-drive (likely)
  • eSata External Port (possible)
  • Blu-Ray BDR & BD-RE Drive (unlikely)
  • 8+ GB DDR3 RAM (likely)
  • 2560 by 1600 native resolution (unlikely) w/Open CL – 1920 by 1200 (likely)
  • Intel Light Peak
  • 10+ hr battery for MacBook Pro (likely)
  • And of course, all the standard stuff: 802.11n, bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, SD card slot, Firewire 800, Mini DisplayPort, audio in/out, etc.)

iPhone 5

  • VERIZON!
  • GSM/CDMA/LTE (4G) WORLD PHONE
  • Dual-Core ARM11 processor
  • 4X more memory
  • Accessories that work with the apple bumper
  • Drastically improved battery life with removable/replaceable battery
  • FM Radio
  • iOS 5 (unlikely, not yet seeded to developer community)
  • RFID-enabled

iPad 2

  • Of course, dual-camera’s (although, I only need 1 high-quality front-facing, won’t be taking pics with it, but some might?)
  • Dual-Core ARM11 Processor
  • 4X more memory
  • Price reduction (to justify my 3G/Wifi model upgrade)
  • Retina Display
  • Intel Light Peak
  • $99 iPad Mini offering to compete with Kindle
  • Multi-User support w/separate profiles!
  • More Storage – 256GB!?
  • Dare I say it?  Flash support!

Apple TV

  • Tivo-integration (or comparable recorder, hosted in the cloud?)
  • App-store capabilities (e.g. hulu plus, boxee & slingbox players)
  • Offer a hard-drive version (else, support usb-hacks for external USB hard-drives)
  • USB 3.0 external port!
  • AirPlay support for older AppleTV unit (w/Hard-Drive!)

 

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Who’s ready for Web 3.0?

Just when people started to become comfortable with Web 2.0, Social Media and increasingly “Cloud” – those internet hipsters have to push the envelope further!  In true geek style, increasing a version # is the equivalent to retail’s “New & Improved” formula for laundry detergent.  For supporters it sticks immediately because it has to be better than 2.0 – right?  In IT we move fast, learn, fail and iterate – using a zero based integer reflects our progress. For others it’s just another opportunity to exploit a “buzz word” an over-used, misunderstood acronym that attempts to differentiate the cool-kids from the has-beens.

Well, the only constant in technology is change – right?  Half the battle is determining what concepts are worth your time and which are just noise.  A good CIO should be able to help decipher that for your organization.  I often say, my level of detail fluctuates between 2″ or 20,000 feet – and not much in between.  It takes a respectable amount of time to stay abreast of what seems to be a daily innovation – as somebody, somewhere has uncovered the latest must-have technology/process or technique that you simply can’t live without.  Everyone once in a while, they’re right, most often they’re not.

At Billhighway, R&D is a first class citizen.  It’s important we’re able to speak to all modern technologies, tools, resources or methodologies – we pride ourselves on continuous improvement.  Agile, Scrum & Lean are deeply embedded into our thought process and rarely is there only a single way for getting something done.  Often, the correct answer to an IT question is “it depends.”  There are simply too many variables that can impact your results, having diverse perspectives and a process that can remove emotional decision-making is often key.  And, in a way, that’s what Web 3.0 is all about – the Semantic Web.

Arguably, each of the previous web generations was transformative to business and 3.0 aims to build upon that evolution.  Web 3.0 is a smarter Web, giving users/computers/processes better ways to share information, helping to make faster, more accurate decisions (business intelligence the the 3rd power.)  This has enormous benefits for people who need to search for information, automate business processes and transactions.  Information in a Web 3.0 world will be much easier to access, because systems will do a lot of the time-consuming work that people still do today.

Ultimately, it’s about transparency – by providing incentives for reducing waste and improving accountability.  The orchestration of tools that cut years of research down to days – the holy grail of “do more with less.”  The promise of Web 3.0 suggests information will be much better linked and more efficiently utilized on an increasingly global scale.  Gone are the days of walled gardens.  Sure there will always be private and confidential data, but it will be increasingly abstracted and consumed in more meaningful ways without jeopardizing critical data – via personal data lockers where you control access to your identity, configuring who gets access to what and in what context depending upon role, intent and location.  Think of it as a deeper understanding of the relationships between people, services and objects – paving the way for Electronic Medical Records (EMRs), Open Energy Information (OpenEI), advancements in biotech and even improvements in customer service.

It remains to be seen, if Web 3.0 will have the fan fair of say, Web 2.0 – which even casual observers could see or feel an impact.  3.0 is about transparency whereas 2.0 fundamentally changed the landscape and has touched nearly everyone in a meaningful way.  Think I’m wrong?  Have you managed to boycott Facebook or refuse to tweet?  How about read the news on an iPhone/iPad or eReader?  Still writing checks?  It’s hard to imagine any brand that isn’t somehow trying to incorporate a social strategy – even if done poorly or lacking initial value. The “conversation” has begun and the integration of one’s online and offline life is becoming co-mingled – with or without your participation.  The pace of change is increasing, knowledge has paved the way for tools and business processes to streamline, automate and exploit what we were taught in kindergarten – SHARING.

Hindsight is 20/20, but a rare few are able to decipher the climate of the internet economy and position themselves and/or their organizations to benefit from the next wave of innovation – bring on the “real-time-web.”

*If you find this an interesting subject, you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of The ClueTrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual.

Future Midwest

In response to a horrible piece by Dateline last night regarding Detroit, I wanted to share a positive look into our city, via a very well-made video: http://vimeo.com/11021663 put together by FutureMidwest.

I attended FutureMidwest last week (a 2 day conference held in Royal Oak) which is helping to raise awareness, educate and push innovation in our area.

For those looking for new opportunities, another site you might want to check out is: http://detroit.startupweekend.org/

If you have an idea, or desire to contribute to your own “startup” I highly encourage you to check them out – it’s an [aggressive] process that has been growing nationally, and this is the Detroit flavor.

Naturally, there are more traditional ways to starting your own business, but this could be a fun way for you to get exposure, experiment and maybe even learn something??

Hope to see you there!?

2010 New Year’s Resolutions for Software Developers

@jeffblankenburg wrote a good post for MSDN about opportunities for Software Developers in 2010.  The full article can be found here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/ee913537.aspx, highlights include:

  • Learn a new programming language
  • Attend [monthly] local user group meetings – (or support local community events, check out: iDetroit)
  • Attend a regional developer conference – gotta luv codeMash
  • Become an agent of change (within your organization)
  • Use your skills to change the world (for the better) – giveCamp
  • Give Twitter a real try!
  • Create an online presence
  • Added: Stay current with technology via pod/video casts – visit Twit.TV, Tech PodCasts or iTunes for more..

How to disable SSL v2 in IIS 7

For some reason, Windows Server 2008 using IIS 7 allows SSL 2.0 by default. Unfortunately, this means you will fail a PCI Compliance audit by default. In order to disable SSL 2.0 in IIS 7 and make sure that the stronger SSL 3.0 or TLS 1.0 is used, follow these instructions:

  1. Click Start, click Run, type regedit, and then click OK.
  2. In Registry Editor, locate the following registry key/folder:

    HKey_Local_Machine\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\SSL 2.0

  3. Right-click on the SSL 2.0 folder and select New and then click Key. Name the new folder Server.
  4. Inside the Server folder, click the Edit menu, select New, and click DWORD (32-bit) Value.
  5. Enter Enabled as the name and hit Enter.
  6. Ensure that it shows 0x00000000 (0) under the Data column (it should by default). If it doesn’t, right-click and select Modify and enter 0 as the Value data.
  7. Restart the computer.
  8. Verify that no SSL 2.0 ciphers are available at ServerSniff.net

Note: This process is essentially the same on an IIS 6 (Windows Server 2003) machine. Normally, the Server key under SSL 2.0 will already be created so you will just need to create a new DWORD value under it and name it Enabled.

For more information, read Microsoft’s Knowledge base article on how to disable SSL 2.0 and other protocols in IIS 7.

Microsoft Releases Exchange 2010

The e-mail server includes better storage optimization, voicemail integration, archiving, and potentially big cost savings, says the software giant.

Microsoft released the latest version of its Exchange e-mail server Monday with claims that Exchange 2010 could cost as much as 70% less than previous versions in terms of total cost of ownership.

The move comes just a week after Microsoft slashed the price of its online productivity suite, which includes a cloud-based version of Exchange, from $15 per user to $10 per user.

Though Exchange remains by far the dominant corporate e-mail platform, Google continues to get notice while competitors continue to ply their hands at the corporate market. In addition to IBM’s announcement of a SaaS version of Notes, Cisco announced Monday that it would be entering the corporate e-mail market by integrating e-mail capabilities into its WebEx collaboration suite.

You can read the full story here: http://www.informationweek.com/news/services/saas/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=221600802

Google Chrome OS Announced

Members of the media were invited to Google’s headquarters for the official unveiling of Chrome OS, the new operating system from Google. Details were few and far between, so don’t expect Chrome OS to become widely available until 2010.

Google has shared little information since first announcing Chrome OS just a few short months ago. The operating system, says Google, is designed for people who spend most of their time on the Web.

Rumors have been circulating around the web for weeks about when Chrome OS will arrive. In fact, a beta version of the operating system was expected to appear as early as this week. That may still be a possibility, but given the wording of the Google invitation, I wouldn’t get your hopes up.

Google is billing Thursday’s event as “an update on our progress with Google Chrome OS.” The event will include a demonstration of what Chrome OS is and how it works. Google also said it will detail its “launch plans for next year.”

That last quote makes it pretty clear that the operating system won’t be ready until some point in 2010. Hopefully it will be earlier in the year rather than later in the year.

Sundar Pichai, vice president of product management and Matthew Papakipos, engineering director for Google Chrome OS, will be leading the event.