Pass a Virtualization Exam, Get TechNet for Free

Microsoft Learning has been running this Microsoft Virtual Academy promotion since March 1, so I'm not sure how many more TechNet subscriptions it will give away. Still, it's worth registering for the program if you intend to tackle any of the virtualization-related exams (70-652, 70-659, 70-669 or 70-693).

Posted by Michael Domingo on 03/22/2011 at 11:59 AM0 comments


Microsoft Learning Embraces The Cloud

The cloud is in everything that Microsoft does these days, so it's no surprise that Microsoft Learning has had its head up there. Just this week, at the Microsoft Management Summit in Redmond, ML announced the official debut of the Microsoft Virtual Academy.

All the courses in the Microsoft Virtual Academy are geared to learning more about -- you guess it -- the cloud. The MVA has courses for learning more about private and public clouds to more specific coverage of Windows Azure and SQL Azure. The MVA requires memmbership, but it's all free. Check out the FAQ here to find out more and get started. I'll see you there.

Posted by Michael Domingo on 03/22/2011 at 11:59 AM0 comments


Oracle Aims at SQL Server Developers

Is its ess-kyu-ell or see-kwull? I've always wondered (and I've pronounced it both ways, depending on who arguing with me). So, too, does my colleague at Visual Studio Magazine, David Ramel, who blogs about Oracle's big push to get SQL Server developers to try out the open source MySQL. David poses other questions at the end of the blog that, if you're at all involved in database development, he'd like to hear your opinions on.

Posted by Michael Domingo on 03/16/2011 at 12:17 PM1 comments


All Zuned Out

A Bloomberg story tells us that Microsoft's Zune players have been discontinued, which seemed like news to Zune's program manager, Dave McLaughlan. Except Dave answered the rumors in Microsoft marketspeak, so Bloomberg might be kind of right.
First-gen, brown Zune with video of my beloved Mokie; and yes, that's an iPod Touch in the background. Tweet me @domingophoto to win an MCPmag hat if you spot this. I'm giving just one away before March 23, 2011.

My Zune, a first-generation one at that, is brown. (Click image to view larger version.)

Posted by Michael Domingo on 03/16/2011 at 11:59 AM0 comments


This Week in IT History: "inviting coworkers"

What does "inviting coworkers" mean? Probably not much. And it pales in comparison to messages as impactful or important as "Mr. Watson. Come here. I need you!" and Armstrong's "One small step..." Still, it's the first message Jack Dorsey sent out and maybe history will see it differently decades from now.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves, for it was this week in 2006 that that message was even possible because Dorsey had conceptualized something as simple as 140-character status messsages sent out over the Web or through smartphones in a service he originally dubbed "Stat.us." Upon debut, the service we'd eventually come to know as the ubiquitous Twitter was a simple way of just shouting out one's existence to the world, but it has proven to be an important communication tool during times of crisis. Social networking, indeed.

BTW, would love a follow. I'm @domingophoto.

Posted by Michael Domingo on 03/13/2011 at 11:59 AM0 comments


Earthquake News and Tech

I woke up with a jolt this morning, not produced by the earthquake but by this realization that I had too much sleep. It was about 3 a.m. Pacific time, and I turned on the news. Word was just reaching U.S. news outlets that there was an incredibly devastating earthquake off the coast of Japan. It's news that I've been following ever since I woke up, first with CNN, then with my local news channels here in San Diego.

When I had to start work this morning, I gravitated to the news feeds online, and that's where I could get more news than I could handle. Besides the news sites, there's news from several sources coming from Facebook and Twitter. News travels fast, as does rumor and conjecture, especially with social media in the mix.

I found the live feed from Katz Ueno at http://YokosoNews.com/live/ particularly newsworthy. (A tip of the cap to @JoseBucud, btw.) Katz had been on for about 10 hours straight since the big quake hit. He continued to check the various Japan-based news feeds, local and national, and simultaneously read tweets, many of them inquiries asking him to check the veracity of reports streaming in from around the world's news sources.

Tweets from French viewers would ask, for example, how true were local French news reporting of missing trains. Katz would check many of the local feeds, with updates. (The news, as he knew it at the time, was that there were no trains missing. Pretty much, all trains and subways across the country stopped for hours.) Another, from Australia, asked about the aquarium in Sendai, which is the nearest city to the epicenter, while others were mainly asking about family members.

Katz did continually remind viewers that he was checking local reports, and that those reports, even though they originated near the source, were also prone to mistakes. Katz heard some urgency in the NHK news of a major 6+ jolt in Nagano, which is located about three hours southeast of Sendai. Minutes later, I noticed feeds from Business Insider and some other lesser known folks I'm following on Twitter, tweeting about that incident. That jolt turned out to be true -- he confirmed it with a ground report coming from TBS, but damage assessments on the ground were still scarce.

Social media in most aspects of life seem to be distractions to most folks, but these apps do prove themselves in times like these.

Posted by Michael Domingo on 03/11/2011 at 11:59 AM3 comments


Another Microsoft Exec Who Is NOT Leaving

I just heard on the wire (okay, it was Twitter) that Chris Capossela, a Microsoft SVP, is stepping away as head of marketing for the Microsoft Office division (Kurt delBene is taking on that role now). It's different this time (so far as we know), because Chris is staying with the company. He's not fleeing to Google, Facebook, or Salesforce, disgruntled. I don't know Chris personally, but I've followed his career back two decades. Back then, I reported for a publication covering FoxPro, and Chris was an exec at Fox Technologies. Microsoft scooped up that company and Chris has been along for the ride ever since.

Posted by Michael Domingo on 03/10/2011 at 11:59 AM2 comments


Is IE 9 Really a Game-Changer?

IE 9 makes its debut March 14, at a press event at SXSW in Austin, no less. Yeah, the venue seems a more appropriate venue for announcing Microsoft Songsmith than IE 9, but what do I know about cool? (As evidence of my uncoolness, a fellow editors reminded me I have a Zune in the least popular brown-colored case.)

In any event, I'm trying to grasp the gravity of the moment, but I'm lost. Besides the IE 9 developers in this video, who else is excited about IE 9? Is IE 9 really that innovative or big enough to get excited about its arrival? Maybe I'm missing something. I'd love to hear it from you. Why should I care?

 

Posted by Michael Domingo on 03/09/2011 at 11:59 AM3 comments


Google Boots Malware From Market

Google has a Microsoft problem, which seems inevitable. Several dozen apps have managed to penetrate the Android Market site with malware, and were eventually booted off (Dan Goodin at The Register has the full story here). Like Microsoft's Windows platform, Google's Android platform makes for easy prey from hackers due to its growing size coupled with the openness of its development platform.

So, chalk up a point to Apple -- yet again -- for its approach. Apple is the biggest beast in the phone app market, but the philisophical approach it has taken to maintain strict control of developers, the Apple Apps Store and hardware has provided a form of consumer protection that has worked incredibly well after all these years.

I can't wait to see the first iPhone vs. Droid ad campaign. I'm sure that's inevitable too.

Posted by Michael Domingo on 03/04/2011 at 11:59 AM0 comments


Review: Breffo's Spiderpodium Minimizes Device Shock

Here's something out of the ordinary: Lots of requests from companies who want me to review their products float through my inbox. Alas, none of those requests originate from Apple; rather, it's the usual stuff, mainly IT-related tools (security software, performance monitoring stuff, backup tools, hard drive enclosures), and the occasional non-IT-related items, such as computer luggage, wire holders, or some new iPod protector case. One item that intrigued me was Spiderpodium, from Breffo, which was introduced at CES this year.

In simple terms, it's a device gripper, mainly for smartphones and there is an iPad-sized version. The name, Spiderpodium, is a fairly succinct and apt description: It looks like a spider, and it props up your device as if on a podium (somewhat). It has eight rubberized tentacles, some of which can be used to hold a device as well as shaped into legs to prop up the device for easy, hands-free viewing.

I looked all over the Breffo site to find out more, and it seems like the unit is fairly sturdy. The company Web site has photos showing the Spiderpodium latching a smartphone to a treadmill, the air conditioning vents on a car dashboard, even the handlebar post of a mountain bike. So, it looks like Spiderpodium is able to absorb a pretty modest amount of shock. On a whim, I wrote the company to get a unit. The premise was to test it out on my motorcycle, to see if it could hold and protect my phone from the shock of a 65-mile commute (luckily, I work at the home office most of the week).

The company obliged, sending me two white units and two black units, plus two dummy smartphones (a Blackberry and iPhone). In a quick phone conversation with Breffo's PR point man, he explained to me that he'd rather have me test the Spiderpodium using dummy phones before I commit my own, valuable phone for a real-world review. I obliged, but I also wondered about his confidence in the company's own device.

I received the units and immediately started playing with them. It takes some practice to figure out how to get the phones to grip the phones in the right way, without having the fingers get in the way of controls. But once I got it right, it was easy to repeat the process.

Breffo SpiderPodium, black, gripping iPhone dummy unit reffo SpiderPodium, black, gripping iPhone dummy unit
reffo SpiderPodium, white, gripping Blackberry dummy unit reffo SpiderPodium, white, gripping Blackberry dummy unit

Breffo SpiderPodium passed a basic shock test on my BMW K1200. The pictures show the Spiderpodium gripping its fingers around the dummy phone units that the company sent to me for testing. (Click images to view larger versions.)

I then tried installing the Spiderpodium, with phone, on my motorcycle. The most obvious place is the handlebars, since I was seeking instant access. I figured out quickly that it's much easier to install the unit first, then manipulate the remaining fingers around the phone. What I also found was the fingers will stay put and not budge much, so it seemed fairly secure. I left the unit on the bike for a week, and logged about 400 miles. All I have is good news to report, the phone didn't budge, even after removing the phone and replacing it several times. Those fingers will stay exactly where you put them.

The real test, though, was with my phone. It's a bit smaller, and in the past I've put the phone ona BMW aftermarket holder made by another company. The drawback has always been that the aftermarket holder is solid plastic, and with no shock absorbing qualities between it and my phone, my phone would sometimes sound like it was stuttering while it played music, or it would just inexplicably turn off. Besides that, the attachment for the phone is also bulky and not easy to remove.

Not so with the Spiderpodium. Their holder performed admirably, even after miles and miles of constant rumbling from my home to the office, and out in the north county San Diego backroads a few times. The phone comes out easily, and it's also easy to put back in short order. Pretty much, Spiderpodium passed the test and now I'm a fan.

Breffo Spiderpodium comes in two sizes and colors: white and black for smartphones and similar devices (USD$19.99), and gray and black for tablets (USD$34.99).

Posted by Michael Domingo on 03/04/2011 at 11:59 AM2 comments


Good News for 2010 Server Sales, Bad News for 2011 PC Sales

Just when you thought all the recession-reversing action was in those iPads and smartphones, there's an IDC report that shows that server sales in 2010 had trended upward, from beginning to year's end. IBM and Microsoft were the big revenue and unit sales winners.

PC sales will be just as strong or better in 2011, according to Gartner's report, but the research firm also recently revised its forecast downward for the rest of the year as well as in 2012.

Posted by Michael Domingo on 03/03/2011 at 11:59 AM0 comments


Posey on Windows 2008 R2 SP1 and Hyper-V

I tip my hat to the folks at Redmondmag.com (after all, we're siblings in the 1105 family), who have taken on Brien Posey as an online columnist. Brien has written for MCPmag.com on occasion, and his stuff is solid. Check out his take on what you need to do to apply Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, especially if you're also deploying Hyper-V. Ignore Brien and you're pretty much throwing caution to the wind.

Posted by Michael Domingo on 03/03/2011 at 11:59 AM0 comments


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