chromebook End User google H/W

Contagious Chromebook Ardor

Yesterday morning found me doing the usual, staring at my monitor and rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, catching up on all of the whats and wheres and whos that took place while I lay me down to sleep. I slid on over to this website to put one last tweak on my piece scheduled to post a couple of hours hence and noticed that Tref has put up not one but two posts featuring Chromebooks, Second Hand HP Chromebook for sale £199.99! and New HP Chromebook for £170 with voucher code save30est. Now being well aware of Tref’s enthusiasm for Chromebook technology, philosophy, and hardware, seeing these two postings didn’t surprise me, but they were enough to give my own somewhat-dormant Chromebook interest a nudge. A nudge that as the day wore on started to feel more and more like a good hard shove.

I bought a Samsung Chromebook when they were first released in the U.S. in November 2012, driven by the same curiosity that pulled me back to Apple in 2008, the sharp design, and the remarkable pricepoint. From the get-go I was delighted with it, too, so much so that I deemed it “KoryChrome” (fellow Paul Simon fans will smile at that), had a protective sleeve made, and declared it good.

KoryChrome 1And KoryChrome was good. It opened me up to the possibilities of the Chrome operating system, turned my attention to Chrome apps and the Chrome Web Store, provided plenty of configuration itches for me to scratch, and on more than one occasion it helped me out of a business communication bind (with AppleKory, Google Docs + Google Hangout = Beachball). What KoryChrome didn’t do, though, was transform my cyber-life or work practices, and once I figured out how everything worked and had login environments set up for me, My Missus, and The Boy…well, there just wasn’t much use or fun to be had, as all three members of La Famille Kessel have MacBooks that are already quite light and which go mobile with no discernible difficulty. Despite this, though, KoryChrome held its spot in our household for well over a year, until I finally steeled myself up and put it up for sale on eBay this past February. Purchased for $249, sold for $150 just 15 months later, and I got to keep the 100GB of Google Drive storage that came with KoryChrome through to November next. All in all, I dropped $99 to improve my knowledge, increase my marketability, and satisfy my curiosity.

All of which leads me to ask…what is it about the recently-announced Samsung Chromebook 2 that has my eyes lighting up, my fingers tingling, and my thoughts racing to justify making a pre-order in time for one my May visitors from the U.S. to make delivery (got my crosshairs on you, Marcos Campos)? It must be the stitched faux leather finish…yeah, that must be it.Faux Leather Stitching!

Related posts:

Bad Stuff End User H/W

Apple, Do Us a Solid

Late one Saturday afternoon in the spring of 2009 I lived out a fantasy, one that I know is shared in one form or another by just about anyone who has ever sat down in front of a computer keyboard. On that unforgettable day I placed a Dell laptop computer that had caused me no small amount of angst, frustration and tsuris (Yiddish word…look it up) under the back left wheel of the car I was driving and repeatedly ran over it until it could be repurposed as a post-modern art installation piece entitled “Android Roadkill”.

True story*. Ultimate catharsis achieved.

On that glorious sunny day I recall for a scant second trying to imagine putting AppleKory under-wheel in the same manner, and I think I actually shuddered at the thought. I simply could not fathom laying any harm to my beloved MacBook, the first computer with which I had ever felt a sense of affection. To borrow scandalously from “Jerry Macguire”, AppleKory completed me. I had her set up in a way that reflected who I am, the way I work and play, the things I like, my interests, my hobbies, my compulsions, my obsessions, and she made my fingers tingle when I ran them over her chassis. Everything on my AppleKory had to be smart, sharp, efficient, clean, and…perfect.

For my math-challenged readers, 2009 was five years ago. A lot can change in five years.

Rotting AppleTwo complete system replacements later (as well as a component upgrade on my current AppleKory that for all intents and purposes should be considered a full system replacement), I still get my MacBook with great tenderness whenever I go to to backpack her. Today, however, that is more due to care and concern for my cyber-life than any lingering finger tingle. Not that I would describe her as delicate or fragile. No, from a hardware perspective this AppleKory — my third, a 2011-issue MacBook Pro 13″ — is as sturdy a piece of computer hardware as any I can imagine. I find it fortunate, though, that she spends the vast majority of her time in her now time-worn position at the left of my keyboard and not on the move, because these days from a functionality perspective that ol’ Apple “solid” feel is a growing-more-distant memory.

That Apple “solid” feel. I think more than anything else it is what drew me to make the move back to Apple in 2008, and also what kept me there. And I am not just referring to the build quality (though, that too, yes, yes), but a computer you could actually close the lid on and put into a bag, and then take out of a bag and lift the lid on (lather, rinse, repeat) repeatedly without worrying for a moment about…well, about anything. She’d go to sleep, she would jump straight back out of sleep rarin’ to go, and do it all over and over again (lather, rinse, repeat). WiFi up, connections restored, software still in RAM and ready to resume function. Every time. Every. Time.

At one point not all that long ago I thought that Apple was amiss in not using the following dead-effective — and truthful — advertising slogan to sell their computers: “Apple. It just works.” And though this quality does become assumed over time, I would be willing to wager substantial clams that for anyone who has moved from the wonderful world of Windows into Apple OSX it really is something you never quite take for granted. That said, whereas with Windows I was always pleasantly surprised when things worked as expected, with Apple — fair or not — I am always bitterly disappointed when they do not.

Remember the good ol’ Aughts, when things were so uncomplicated. I wish I could go back there again…and everything would be the same…

I cannot say the love affair is over, but to borrow a favorite idiom: Today the AppleKory that I once thought could do anything and everything often has trouble walking and chewing gum at the same time. Want to whistle while you work, with a little help from your onboard speakers? Not a problem as long as you don’t mind your tracks skipping with each change in your CPU usage. Like to channel your music through your Hi-fi, system-connected via Apple Express connected to your Wi-Fi? Might work today..might not. Keep more than three tabs open in your browser at any given moment? Beachball. Edit photos in iPhoto with iTunes open at the same time? Beachball. Work in Google Docs while occasionally hopping over to TweetDeck to see what you are (not) missing? Beachball. Copying a file from one system to another with anything else open whatsoever? Beachball. Beachball. Beachball.

A feeble argument can be made — and has been made — for laying AppleKory’s problems at her own feet (whereas Dell Technical Support’s favorite solution has long been “Reinstall Windows.”, Apple’s “Upgrade to a new system.” is far more cheeky and charming, capitalistically speaking). As a Technical Writer, however, with over 20+ years experience in hardware and software (read: born system troubleshooter) I am able to spot a trend, and the abundant evidence shows (and is echoed in copious Googling and Binging search results) that the loss of that Apple “solid” feel is at least as much the fault of Apple’s more recent OSX iterations and their traditionally half-baked software.

With the release of Snow Leopard, the seventh iteration of OSX, instead of the usual New-Feature-This-New-Feature-That Apple impressively went against trend by targeting improved performance, greater resource efficiency, and the reduction of OSX’s memory footprint (and they lowered the price to an unheard-of-at-the-time US$29, too, to increase adoption). I remember being deeply impressed by this tack, and perhaps even more impressed by the Snow Leopard OSX experience. Subsequent iterations, though — Lion, Mountain Lion, Mavericks — have seen Apple returning to the featuring of features (while trumpeting the stability stuff), and today the company is very much in need of a “Snow Mavericks” release designed to bring back the “solid”. Lest I start daydreaming about taking AppleKory for a ride in my car.

Taking a Ride

*In the interest of full transparency I need to mention that the slain Dell computer was at the bottom of a short stack of client-provided laptops that I have used and set aside over the years as each new one came down the pike, one that had lost every shred of possible value save for doorstop (and I have plenty of those). For the ever-curious, the systems that comprise said stack are all EOL (End of Life, and thus not deemed worth the cost of return), not legally mine (which explains why I didn’t eBay ’em and pocket wads of cash), and creaky lame (I am the Jerry Lee Lewis of computer keyboards).

Related posts:

Bad Stuff End User H/W

Sandy, Baby, Our Two Worlds Will Be One

Anyone who has ever spent more than 5 consecutive minutes using a Windows PC knows well the hourglass, that ubiquitous symbol that the cursor morphs into when the system is processing and cannot take further input. Users of PCs loaded with various other operating systems know the hourglass, too (a buncha different flavors of UNIX, for example), though they encounter it far less often. Annoying when it lingers on-screen for more than just a second or two, the hourglass does offer a sensical message, that being that some time will need to pass before you cursor changes back to an arrow and your system is usable once again.

Spinning Hourglass

The Apple Mac operating system — though UNIX-based — does not display an hourglass in place of the cursor when it needs time to catch up with the user. No, what OSX offers is a spinning beachball (or, as perceived by some, a pinwheel), which is a lot more fun than a staid old hourglass! Beachballs are found…at the beach! Thus, a delay in system reponsiveness is to be regarded not as a period of necessary waiting but as an opportunity for colorful fun! Beach = fun! And therein lies a clear view into the mindset of Apple versus all of the other schmoes out there looking to drive your personal computing experience.

Windows, UNIX flavors: “Yeah, we know this is taking up some of your valuable time.”
Apple OSX “It isn’t our fault if you cannot see the fun in this delay.”

Goofy grins and ability to have fun aside, when I inched my way back to an Apple computer in March of 2008 I did not see many beachballs. Sure, they would pop into view from time to time, but they were colorful (hourglasses, at that time at least, came only in black and white) and just when you found yourself noticing them they were gone. “How pleasant.”, I found myself thinking. “Not at all what I am used to!”

agricultural fun stuff Weekend

Saturday Snapshot (19-April-2014)

A few months back my brother-in-law (heretofore referred to as BiLly) treated me to lunch at a new Yannick Alléno resto in Paris called Terroir Parisien, located in the Palais Brongniart near Bourse. There we enjoyed a deeply satisfying meal, sampling from a menu that features stalwart Bistro dishes made new with the help of a pinch of little-here-little-there creative tweaking (i.e., Pot au Feu, Boudin Noir). Having indulged previously, my BiLly suggested — well, insisted — that as a starter I take the Champignons rosés de Chez Spinelli à la Fleur de Sel (a long fancy French way of saying “Crazy-fresh cremini button mushrooms produced by the renowned grower Spinelli, served with flaked sea salt”), and having no reason whatsoever to doubt the temerity of his urging I did just that. Uh..oh yes..YES, a point — no, two points — for BiLly.

Some weeks pass, and on a recent Friday night my BiLly’s wife and mine (sisters) found occasion to put a couples dinner on the calendar (with one of my lovely nieces included). My Missus had not yet experienced Terroir Parisien, so a booking was made and a table soon occupied. Menus passed around, experiences recounted, and soon enough My Missus was ordering…yep, those mushrooms (wanting to explore the menu a step furher I didn’t go again for the dish, somewhat to my regret). Lots of “Mmmmm!” and wide-open-eyed happiness, and then the “We should do this at home.” The 5-ingredient roster was no secret — so-fresh-they-snap-between-your-teeth Cremini mushrooms, flaked sea salt, hazelnut oil, faiselle (cottage cheese, or close enough anyway), ciboulette (chive) — and the presentation was right there before us. So why not?

In this space on 6-April I waxed on (and on) about the Orbec mushrooms we strive to lay hands on at the Lisieux Saturday morning farmer’s market whenever we are passing time at the La Famille Kessel Normandy hovel, and these we knew would do nicely. The salt, the oil, the cheese..check, check, check. And the ciboulette grows wild in the garden.

So here is where my narrative will take on the air of recounted recipe, playing — I can only hope — to my technical writing strengths (save for citing amounts as my experience may not be yours, hungry read, and hinges on how many salivating maws you are looking to sate).

Kory on the clock. Knife in hand. Lunch won’t wait.

orbecs, Pre-cutting2014-04-19 13.18.46

First, I washed and trimmed the Orbecs, taking care not only to rid the marvelous mushrooms of any adherring sand but also cutting enough of the stem away to ensure that the only “woody” evoked was in their flavor. Following that, I carefully cut the Orbecs in a vertical slice (think top of button down to end of stem) at 1/8th inch thickness. Next, I arranged the slices on 5 plates (5 people) in a symmetrical spiral — for anyone out there following along, feel free to express your creativity in how you arrange your mushrooms…this ain’t “My way or the highway” territory — and moved on to the faiselle.

2014-04-19 13.30.232014-04-19 13.44.58Methinks it is within the faiselle that the trick of Champignons rosés de Orbec à la Fleur de Sel lies. Taking a small bowl in one hand and a fork in the other, I mixed flaked sea salt into the faiselle, test-tasting it until…until…well, until I liked the the taste. I set the mixture aside.

Next, I poured the hazelnut oil into a small container into which I could easily dip a teaspoon. Set that aside too.

Cleaned and minced the fresh ciboulette and set that aside.

Now my mise en place was finished and I as ready to construct the dish. In order: (1) Used a fork to artistically flick small dollops of the faiselle onto the mushroomed plates, (2) Used a teaspoon to drizzle hazelnut oil onto the faiselle-laden mushroomed plates, and (3) Used my fingers to rain pinches of the minced ciboulette onto the oil-drizzled and faiselle-laden mushroomed plates.

2014-04-19 13.57.442014-04-19 13.57.55

And that’s that. I yelled “À table!” to assemble our running band of eaters, sliced up a crusty Boule, and braced myself for the “Mmmmm!”

Related posts:

Bad Stuff End User H/W

A peck? Nay, a bushel!

Yesterday in Apocalypse Then, I wrote that having shifted from Mac to Windows upon starting a technical writing gig with TEA (Texas Education Agency) in 1993 that for the next fifteen years I paid “…nary a thought…to Apple and their Mac OS whatever-number.” Well, memory is a cagey, amorphous, and deceitful beast — one that tends to spit out incongruent detail at just the moment when you think you have recollection locked down — because the truth is that I did have one more go-round with Cupertino-designed computers before the big shun took hold.

I decided not long before leaving the U.S. to spend 1994 in Europe that I would use my Apple connections to get a good deal on a PowerBook 165 that I could take along. How novel it would be, I thought, to hostel-hop Europe with a laptop computer in my backpack! I could use it to keep a journal! I’d send emails (CompuServe — I was and forever will remain 72124,3441  — supposedly had modem access phone numbers everywhere)!

PowerBook 165 The longstoryshort? During the period I spent in the U.K. working for London Underground Limited at the start of my adventure I came to realize the ridiculous reality of moving about with a 6.8 lbs. computer in my pack. Sixteen countries, no less than 3 electrical outlet interfaces to consider, probably a like number of modular connector interfaces, and for what? So I could self-satsifying type instead of write, all while cavalierly pinning a “Stupid Guy with Expensive Toys for the Taking” target on my good self?

Before leaving the U.K. to begin the backpacking half of my year in Europe I offloaded the PowerBook 165 on a London University student for an amount that translated to nearly twice what I originally paid (and the kid still made out like a bandit, as the same system was selling new in the U.K. for a good deal more). Generous guy in other ways, too, as he clued me into Iain M. Banks’s Consider Phlebus. Some things just work out.

Bad Stuff End User H/W

Apocalypse Then

I will start with a question, and feel free to answer simply by raising your hand. Have any of you out there who have read this far ever felt a near-overwhelming bloodlust with regard to a PC, wanting to hoist it over your head and smash it at your feet (or, even better, on the pavement or sidewalk or other surface of sufficient unforgivingness many stories below an open window)? Or harbored visions of a cataclysmic reckoning descending upon the good folks at Microsoft who develop, market, and directly financially benefit from the Windows operating systems? Ever fantasize about the painful and public (oh-so-public) limb-from-limb rending of someone somewhere who in some way had nth degree of responsibilty for your facing the Blue Screen of Death?

OK. Hands down. Really, I was just asking rhetorical questions. Enthusiasm is always nice, though. And appreciated.

PCs running some flavor or other of Windows. Man. I distinctly recall entering that world back in 1993, and begrudgingly doing so…for money.

As a first-year technical writer just starting to dry off the space behind my ears, at the time I was working my first post-entry-level contract for Apple Sales and Support in Austin, working solo to document the company’s PowerBook Problem Resolution Process (really, it was called that)…for $10 an hour. I had visions — Heck, I had plans! — to save up enough dosh to take the following year off to live/work/travel in Europe, and yet in June of that year I was working a gig that was just managing to cover rent and gas. But it was Apple! PowerBook-era Apple! At-the-precipice-of-cratering Apple, but still Apple! And I felt comfortable and warm and safe in the Mac OS and that clanky Claris software (MacWrite! MacDraw!). For $10 an hour.

Around that time a programmer type with whom I had some acquaintance (and who really liked my cooking) told me that he could help me latch on at the Texas Education Agency for a great deal more than I was making at Apple. He didn’t quote numbers, but he was sure the rate would be at least double the amount of pennies I was yanking down at Apple. And the TEA offices were just down the street from my my digs at the time (small unshared detail up to this point: Apple’s Austin campus was out in the sticks), too. Government contract! Double the money! Wicked-short commute! One caveat, though…I would have to work in…Windows.


And so I instigated a personal sea change in my day-to-day. For a 150% income bump my cyber soul was bought and paid for. From The Beatles to the ‘Stones. And that is the way it was for the next 15 years, through the year I did end up spending in Europe (London Underground Limited, Safety Directorate, in 1994…a Windows shop), through career stints at Dell and IBM, the first Internet bubble, and the first 7 years of my freelance career. Windows this, Windows that, nothing but Windows (OK, a little Unix on the side, but that was just for fun and profit), and nary a thought paid to Apple and their Mac OS whatever-number. Was I “happy” in the Windows world? Did it matter? Being adept at Windows was essential for my work…necessary to ensure my income. Lucrative, baby!

End User gadgets H/W wearable

Google Can Kiss My Glass

The netwaves have been humming for about a week with the news that Google would finally open up their Glass Explorer Program to the general public, albiet for one day only — today, 15-April — and only for the suckers…er, buying public who can claim to be a “US resident” (though not in a legal sense as a US-bound means of payment — credit card, PayPal account, or a friend with such willing to front the dough — and a US mailing address that can receive a package likely has what it takes to get in). Now “open up” may be something of a misnomer, as just a cursory glance at the fine print of it all reveals that Google is “opening up some spots” and that “spots are limited”, even if the email I received this past Saturday from the company served up as its Subject: Heads Up — You Can Purchase Glass on Tuesday.

The Glass Explorer bundle’s WTF! $1500 + tax* pricetag will no doubt go somewhat far in keeping out the mere curiosity seeker, but those with a little bit of pocket who still feel as though they are on the outside of Google Glass looking in no doubt felt the tingle (not to mention the heart-flutter) when the How To Get One link went live at 9:00AM EST today. I know I…didn’t.

The hype machine began cranking over Google Glass about a year ago — Believe it! — and I remember well how quickly it swept its way into every corner of the Internet…

Google ShatteredWhat is it?…this is what it is…this is what it does…I caught that Glass demo video and I won’t feel whole again until I have direct-walk-around-literally-in-my-face access to the Internet…I know someone who has it…a friend of mine let me wear theirs…that article on Google Glass knocking down the last vestiges of privacy rattled me but good…can you imagine being in a public restroom and having someone wearing Google Glass walk in?…the world will never be the same!

…Google Glass got the antennae of the common plugged-into-Internet human vibrating like few tech-y devices before (portable CD players back in the late 80s come to mind, and — of course — the first iPhone), and not surprisingly when it did start to make its way into the wild the posturing began. Social media profile pictures changed, to best illustrate the new Stars-upon-Thars status of those lucky few with an ‘in’ at Google good enough to…well, get them in, and conversations with the blessed that didn’t contain numerous and constant references to the new on-face ticky-tack became as common as a truly great television program airing in prime time on a Saturday night. Google Glass. It was all the talk, it was all the rage, it was on the “Want” list of anyone and everyone able to spell ‘WWW’…

…and then it wasn’t.

End User gadgets H/W internet media Mobile mobile apps phones

Gaining Focus

As readers of last week’s Conscious Uncoupling already know, I am making moves to unhitch myself from my iPhone 4 of the past 3 years and start anew at some point in the near future with an Android KitKat device. And as I am always looking to put the latest tech into my hands when the time comes to upgrade (or as my Apple-inebriated friends would likely put it in this case, “mistakenly change”), I have been looking quite fervently at both the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S5, both of which have just recenlty seen release and both of which are racking up impressively high numbers with regard to NRP (Number of Reviews Published…my statistic, my acronym, and no amount of search engine pounding will turn it up).

Two weeks ago (week of 31-March) HTC brought their blitz of HTC One M8 promotion to a crescendo that rolled over and straight through the technologically inclined and/or curious, and which resulted in a quantity of review inches more than adequate enough to ensure informed options would set in time to counter the Samsung Galaxy S5 wave that followed last week (week of 7-April). Now, of course, I cannot and will not make such an important relationship decision without first establishing a level playing field upon which I can hinge it, so I have resolved to wait a few weeks…a couple of weeks…at least a week to let all of the new information foster (fester?) within.*

So all of those reviews. Essentially, they boil down pretty straight across party lines (yes, that is a telephony joke…a groaner of a telephony joke but a telephony joke nonetheless).

HTC One M8
Pros: Gorgeous build and design (actually it is more accurate to go All-Caps on GORGEOUS, as this is the overwhelming first-notice feature cited in every one of the product reviews I have read or skimmed or found myself subjected to). The expected high level of display, speed, and functionality. GREAT speakers! “Motion Launch”, which allows the user to perform specific commands with the display off via tap, swipe, or gesture. Better than expected battery life (and a power-saving mode that can be configured to set energy amount parameters).
Cons: Lousy camera. Just awful. Won’t anyone say something nice about the camera? Or, at least, not be so enthusiastic in dinging it?

Samsung Galaxy S5
Pros: Waterproof! Yup, the Galaxy S5 is waterproof, up to 30 minutes at a depth of 1 meter. Terrific screen, camera kudos all around, noticeably great battery life (and the battery can be swapped out as needed, too), storage expandability up to 128GB, health features (a heart rate monitor as part of the on-board hardware won’t keep me from drinking a single Cola-Cola or eating a single chip) significant reduction in the amount of Samsung TouchWiz bloatware from its S4 predecessor, speed and functionality to beat the band, and light.
Cons: Perhaps TOO light, as every reviewer critisizes the S5’s “cheap” feel (at least in comparison to the heavy and shiny smartphones in the arena, all of which suffer phone reception for their metal-enwrapped goodness), the fingerprint scanner is not as smooth as Apple’s Rolls-Royce-aspiring iPhone 5S, and though the TouchWiz bloatware is less than it was on the S4 it is still a proverbial fish-in-a-barrel target for criticism.

So pushing cost/plan out of the equation, I find I am leaning hard towards the Samsung Galaxy S5. I cannot say that I have spent much time wishing I could use my phone in the sea, pool, or shower (and I haven’t found my phone doing a toilet tumble since the days of the Nokia 3310), but what I can say is that I cannot imagine spending ANY time with a smartphone that is camera-lacking. The (at the time) industry-leading camera is what put me in my iPhone 4 back in 2011 to begin with, and as criteria go that function is even more of a decision-maker for me in 2014.

Get the picture?

Yes, there are tens of other KitKat-able phones that warrant consideration along with thes two new goliaths now stomping around, however I did lead with my propensity for grabbing up the latest tech and it doesn’t come any “latest” than the new flagship products from HTC and Samsung. Of course, the fact is that “With Great Popularity Comes Not Only Great Punditry But Great Amounts of Shared Opinion and Technical Insight.” (humblest apologies to Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, both of whom are thankfully still with us as of this writing), so there is that, too.

fun stuff Weekend

Saturday Snapshot (12-April-2014)

All week long the focus for the coming Saturday has been easily described: “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”. The film was released in France on 2-April and circumstance and scheduling conspired to keep La Famille Kessel from taking it in over opening weekend, but that would be rectified on Saturday. No doubt, no question, no choice.

Woken this morning by Bella the Cat and the call to breakfast (again, “À Table!”), my first thought that didn’t involve body function was “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”! Hot coffee? Crave it, and not for the caffeine. Orange juice? Cold and sweet and slightly fizzy on my tongue (I mix it 1:1 with Quézac, or whatever other cold sparkling water is lurking in the fridge), every morning I revel in the marvelous contrast it offers to that other beverage. Some edible or another, depending on the day or location or mood or availability borne of desperation. Breakfast, yes, please…but let’s not forget “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, OK?

Just as I was breaking the surface into full consciousness My Missus says to me, “This morning we need to replace the broken lamp, and I want to go to that Indian furniture and accessories shop we walked into last month, to buy a birthday gift for my sister.”

But…yes, OK, but…but…”Captain America: The Winter Soldier”? Mind you, it is not yet 9h30 and we decided days ago that we would go to a late afternoon showing at a nearby cinema, but…but…”Captain America: The Winter Soldier”?

Nirwana Inde (Paris)I polished off breakfast, helped my cups and plates and such into the dishwasher (which has needed replacing since Kevin Feige produced his first flick for Marvel Studios — that would be “Iron Man” — in 2008…and perhaps the subject of a future all-too-compelling “Saturday Snapshot” in this space?), splashed water on my face and over the part of my head that once housed my once-signature bushy brown locks, figured out the clothes and shoes thing, and declared myself ready to do what had to be done. Somewhere in Paris there was a cheap halogen lamp just waiting to be brought home, and Indian curios in the 11th Arrondissement to be picked over.

Business UC

Churn and Drang

Far from the richest of subjects for 500-plus words of clever (one hopes) pondering, Unified Communications (UC) does, though, seem to generate its fair share of pixelated words across the Internet on any given weekday. Breaking “news” on the subject seems to pop quite often, in fact, regarding this award or that award (yesterday, for example, it was reported that 8X8’s Cloud-Based Unified Communications and Contact Center Suite had won the award for “Best Midmarket Solution” at the Midmarket CIO Forum), and there is a constant trickle of hot scoops as to which company has been awarded which UC contract entailing this feature and that. Then, of course, there are the compelling tidbits detailng which executives from which companies are moving to whatever positions in whatever companies.

Thus, like any other industry doing business today, a ton of fill-the-space churn is being kicked into view — into print? — with the primary intent of filling space and selling advertising (and don’t for a second think I am deaf/dumb/blind to the blatant irony threading through and wrapping around that sentence). Still, there has to be some honest-to-goodness need-to-know UC news out there…somewhere. And, by gum, I am going to be the one to find it and bring it into the light, right here…right now?

Down the UC Rabbithole

According to ITWeb, “Unified communications (UC) is becoming a necessity in the South African workplace, yet many organisations are still grappling with why it needs to be adopted as an integral part of business operations.” Not that pointing out contradictions is much of a sport, but…what? A survey declares UC is becoming necessary in business, yet organizations (the U.S. spelling this time) particpating in the survey do not know why this is so? I provided the link, so you are welcome to go read the piece if you haven’t already wasted your time doing so.

My effort up to now at bringing hard UC news into the light? Not really going so well. I’m a gamer, though, so I’ll pound the dust off and try again.

Headline: VoIP increasingly considered thanks to features like flexibility.

Ah, this could have a little juice in it…lessee. According to a survey — so many surveys, so little time — 84% of organizations that “specialize in technology” (can only shake my head in wonder at how entry into that exclusive circle is secured in these “an app that will ping you to empty the dishwasher” days) are thinking seriously about integrating UC to the way they do business, though only 40% of businesses are using such services today. So how does that break down? Assuming the 16% of technology specializers who have no interest in UC are not among the 40% currently using it, the cited statistic means that nearly 50% of the 84% who are considering putting UC to work are already doing so?

End User gadgets Mobile mobile connectivity phones

Conscious Uncoupling

In early 2010 I gave up Windows Mobile and my HTC TyTN II and made the leap to an iOS-saddled iPhone 3G. Making the switch was not necessary — the TyTN II still had a good amount of life in it, and I know it kept its next owner happy enough for roughly two years following — but when My Missus’s company upgraded her to an iPhone 3GS I thought I’d take the opportunity to shake myself out of my mobile comfort zone and repurpose her leftover phone.

I can see you drifting, treasured reader, so let me take a moment here to put my fingers in your nose and pull you back towards your screen. I am not going to go down the gorged-so-deep path of the iPhone-converted here. Promise. Stick a needle, man.

Continuing…I enjoyed my early experience with the iPhone, but felt then that it was more a toy than a tool, and that has not changed (yes, four years gone by and I am still wielding an iPhone, though I upgraded that original 3G to a iPhone 4 three years back because at the time it offered what was unequivocally the best phone-based camera on the market).

ChainedNow don’t get me wrong.  Toys are great — anyone reading my stuff for any sustained period of time soon learns just how much I love my toys — and so long as the Internet-connected shiny in my pocket is able to provide pics, phone, text, email, and a wee spot of web browsing it really doesn’t need to be anything more. Thus I should be fat-n-happy with iPhoneKory, right? (If you haven’t caught on yet, yes, I sometimes name inanimate objects.) I shouldn’t be consumed with thoughts of moving into an Android phone, but should be content to remain comfortable and cared, warm and satisfied within iOS’s bright, colorful walls. I shouldn’t be…but I am.

Business End User Mobile mobile connectivity social networking UC

Air France has Me all A-Twitter

Decided to leave the cave and go mobile to do the writing thing today. And why not? Both of the pieces I hope to crank out are of a mobile ilk, the weather on this early April Paris Monday is Spring Fever inducing, and a new local wifi-enabled coffee house (Le Café Lomi) has opened its doors nearby…a perfect storm!

The battery icon says I have 2:11 before all goes dark, so let’s start clacking.

This past 21-December I packed up My Missus and The Boy for a 5-day trip to visit family in Chicago (far more accurate to say that My Missus packed me and The Boy up, but I don’t see any reason to ruin a good story with facts…except, paradoxically, I do). We left the flat early that morning, all media-delivery devices fully charged and ready for the 12+ hours we would spend in the air travel envelope (bubble?), and headed for the RER B train that would deliver us to Charles de Gaulle (the airport, not the long dead general and president). En route I decided to check our flight status, and having successfully carried that out I then thought, “Let’s see if anyone is awake at the Air France Twitter switch on this fine Saturday.” Not being the most avid Twitterer, this was actually a bit of personal evolution on my part.

First Tweet to AF

Within just moments I received a response, and a somewhat personal one at that (as evidenced by the reference to my day’s destination)! Shocked and delighted, I immediately tweeted back.

Second Tweet to AF

Then my wheels started turning…hmm…yes, I would look for ways to keep my @AirFranceFR friend apprised as we moved through the system.

End User fun stuff H/W storage backup & dr

Turn, Turn, Turn, A Time to Every Purpose

19.11 GB of 471.48 GB – About 6 hours

Roughly 8 minutes ago I fired up my brand-spanking-new 3.5” hard drive enclosure (complete with newly-installed and formatted 4TB 3.5” hard drive), navigated via Finder to my bursting-at-the-seams 500GB 3.5” hard drive (also happily enclosed, and for over 5 years now), nimbly hit Ctrl+A to highlight everything, and dragged the highlighted contents over to begin the process of copying the data therein to its new home.

31.41 GB of 471.48 GB – About 6 hours

Speaking only for myself (though I suspect my words will ring true for a great many, if not the majority), I am not at all surprised to find the act of upgrading my external storage to be akin to cleaning out a household “junk drawer”. Generally speaking, I know what I have collected on Compote – the original 500GB drive – over the years, and yet many surprises abound.

55.10 GB of 471.48 GB – About 6 hours

Before I go any further, I should come (somewhat) clean by saying that not all of the flotsam-and-whatnot that resides in my digital universe has come into my possession in a pure and unassailable manner. Without admitting anything that could be used against me in a court of law (somewhat mad I am for “Law & Order” in its various flavors, and it is especially good when viewed in pristine .mkv on such-and-such device at my leisure), I will just say that I am, have been, and always will be a music/film/TV junkie and leave it at that.

Windfall Status

So I am seeing that all kinds of curious things are moving over to the new neighborhood (Windfall be its name, and in case you aren’t paying close enough attention, yes, I do use a certain fruit as the basis for the network drive naming convention at Chez Kessel). To offer just a hint of flavor, these were the last three items I saw go by:

  1. BBC.Pink.Floyd.1of3.The.Story.of.Wish.You.Were.Here.x264.AAC.mkv
  2. Stevie Ray Vaughan And Double Trouble – Texas Flood (1983) [FLAC] (2-CD) {2013 30th Anniversary Legacy Edition}
  3. Marvel chronology disk 11 v2.0

A part of a television documentary, lossless Stevie Ray Vaughan music files, part 11 of a Galactus-sized collection of Marvel comics in .cbr format…any moment now I expect to see a box of old staples, a airline-issued personal sewing kit, and a too-well-thumbed and dog-eared deck of cards!

125.45 GB of 471.48 GB – About 5 hours

Just to fill in some of the backstory here, Compote is actually only one of three long-maintained “junk drives” whose contents will be making their way over to the oh-so-shiny-and-sparkly Windfall today (and from the looks of it, into tomorrow). Decorum restrains me from naming the other two, but suffice it to say they don’t fall very far from the tree, and each one is chock full of the same kind of gotta-have-it-and-someday-I-will-get-around-to-doing-something-with-it digital entertainment media detritus.

161.02 GB of 471.48 GB – About 4 hours

To be clear, I am not what used to be called a “packrat” or what today is more readily referred to by the darker and far less cute-sounding “hoarder”. No, I actually have real purpose in maintaining the nearly 2 TB of this-that-and-the-other that is currently undergoing consolidation onto the honker of a hard drive that is Windfall! You see, the center of my aforementioned digital universe, AppleKory (feel free to take a short break here to point fingers, cover your mouth, and enjoy a giggle at my expense), is sacrosanct, and new content must be scrubbed and polished before being allowed to cross the barrier into the vast media libraries I am forever building there. Thus the external drives? Holding pens of a spinning platter order.

206.26 GB of 471.48 GB – About 3 hours

Insight and useful lessons are no doubt popping off of these pixels, different depending on the individual reader (none of whom, I hope and pray, has the legal standing needed to commit me for observation or my own safety). I do want to share one last piece of information, though, to anyone out there who is finding inspiration in my personal data migration exercise and is now considering moving down their own amalgamation road: make sure the enclosure you have or will buy is capable of handling the new hard drive. SATA is SATA is SATA, right? Well, no. The SATA enclosures I bought years ago for my soon-to-be-pensioned 500GB drives were only able to handle the new 4TB drive up to a maximum of 1.8TB, a key fact I learned only after the shoes and socks were off, the screwdrivers were pulled out, the hard drive was relieved of its antistatic bag and installed into the enclosure, and the whole schmear was connected up and awaiting formatting.

258.14 GB of 471.48 GB – About 3 hours


Related posts:

agricultural End User fun stuff Weekend

Saturday Snapshot (5-April-2014)

Yanked to the surface of consciousness on this Normandy morning by the potent combination of bright sky warmth-providing orb, insistent cat, breakfast aromas (coffee, toasting raisin bread), My Missus yelling “À table!”, and the promise of the Saturday farmer’s market in Lisieux (gotta get there before those Orbec mushrooms are gone!).

April in Paris?  Schmapril in Schmaris!

** I do plan to return to the whole “April in Paris” in a positive, musical sense in these pages quite soon, but let’s stay on point, shall we? **

Basket in hand, car keys in other hand, shoes on feet…OK, I’ve got the appendages covered (rest of the body too, as the last thing this American wants to do is throw a fright into scads and scads of provincial Frenchies). A few coins in my pocket, and a rough-but-working-itself-out lunch scheme forming.

Our late arrival at the market had My Missus and I worried we would go Orbec-less this weekend, but I am happy to report (and indicate via photograph) that this was not the case.

Photo Apr 05, 12 13 33     Photo Apr 05, 12 14 37

800 grams of the finest and freshest Normandy-grown Cremini mushrooms secured, our market wander could take on a more relaxed pace and did, leading us to various vegetables and to our lunch plate protein of choice, which today we had decided would be a few nice sole. With no less than five fish mongers hawking their wares at the Lisieux farmer’s market, the selection and pricing is usually in line with expectation and today was no exception (though our score – five good-sized sole for just 10€ — certainly could be described as ‘exceptional’).

End User social networking UC

Many Happy Returns of the Onslaught

According to some algorithm or other deep in its cockles, Facebook reports that 79 people of the oh-so-fine folk I am connected to via that social media behemoth posted birthday wishes to my wall on Monday (which, yes, was my birthday). On top of that, after I posted acknowledgement and thanks for all of that warm thoughtfulness quite a few others chimed in to make their good wishes known in the comments of my post. Thus, it is no April Fool’s joke to say that over 100 individuals, each with their own lives to lead and their own days to traverse end-to-end, had me in mind for at least a few moments and made the effort to let me know it. I consider this to be somewhat remarkable in itself, however when I take these well-wishers into account and realize that (a) a high percentage of them are people to whom I am not related, (b) I haven’t seen many of them in over 20 years, and (c) a little mental straining is needed to recall where we met …well, at that point it just gets me thinking.

Facebook Birthday ArtAdmittedly, I almost wiped my birthday data from Facebook a couple of days prior to the date, not because I am sensitive about getting older, but because I just didn’t feel up to dealing with what can only be considered an onslaught of contact. No doubt the majority of you reading this piece – and thank you for doing so – know exactly what I am referring to. Depending on where you live and how the time zones for your Facebook “Friends” break down, this onslaught can actually last for far long than the 24 hours it traditionally takes to move through one’s birthday. It begins with the Notifications. Each time someone writes a birthday greeting on your Facebook wall – and doing so is now so easy that a puppy can do it (and likely has…check youtube) – you receive a Notification stating such. And because we are all unabashedly self-centered, we immediately chase that Notification so we can see exactly what it was that someone wrote (more often than not, some variation of “Happy Birthday”…capitalized, not capitalized, ALL CAPS, with and without terminating punctuation, and so forth). Then, of course, because we are all inherently polite, we acknowledge the birthday greeting in some way, be it by clicking “Like” or actually using the Comment function to write something back. It is this exercise, which goes on over the course of a full rotation of the planet and then some, that had me pondering the three clicks needed to erase my Birth Date from my About|Basic Information. That said, I am truly glad I didn’t do so.

Business UC

Oh, the Places We Won’t Go!

Travel Communications Survey Report 2014, a new survey released last week, shows that although customer service and staff productivity to be at the top of the list of concerns by those in the British travel industry, only 9% of the businesses are currently implementing some form of unified communications technology. The survey, performed by leading unified communications provider, and UC manufacturer Swyx, in conjunction with Travolution magazine, breaks the entire pool down as follows:

9%      Implementing unified communications in their business
18%    Know of UC, but have not yet applied it in their business
13%    Know of UC, but do not understand how its potential benefits
60%    Are completely unaware of what unified communications is

Yes, you correctly read that last bullet point. When asked about unified communications, SIXTY PERCENT of the travel executives surveyed responded by stating that they have no knowledge or awareness of UC whatsoever! And curiously enough, despite this lack of UC understanding this same pool cited cost as the prime showstopper to upgrading their systems, while also forwarding the notion that improving customer service and the flow of communication amongst the business Holy Trinity (staff, customers and suppliers) are more important than cost reduction.


Clearly, there is a significant amount of confusion amongst UK travel industry technology decision makers with regard to unified communications system pricing, installation, and maintenance. The Travel Communications Survey Report 2014 acknowledges this fact, too, placing it at the center of their conclusions, saying “…we presume that because unified communications technology is ‘new’ and marketed as an ‘upgrade’ companies may believe it to be more expensive when it actually isn’t. The platform evolved to simplify cost management and save money and resources across IT and telephony.”

Apps End User Mobile mobile apps phones UC video voip

A Chatty Kory

Who among the teeming throng hasn’t at some point or another had the thought, “Instant Messaging sure is a marvelous thing…no idea what I’d do without it…but really, by this point shouldn’t I be able to seamlessly carry on an IM conversation via Yahoo! Messenger with a contact using Google Talk? Or AOL AIM? Skype? And vice-versa? And do I really need to subscribe to all of these services – and lest I forget to mention Windows Live Messenger, Facebook Chat, Twitter, and so many others — to ensure real-time IM reachability?”

Yes, that is one large mouthful of a thought, but it should be easy enough to chew and swallow.

Numerous times over the past 15+ years the effort has been made to establish a unified standard for Internet-based instant messaging, and all of these efforts have thus far come to naught. Entrenched proprietary protocols die hard, after all, and with such integrated services as IP telephony, video conferencing, desktop sharing, and file transfer thrown into the IM provider mix (to name but a few) the potential for absolute and utter world communication dominance is such that no one major player is ever likely to champion a true standardization. No, “the greater good” will never be enough of a reason to hasten such a sea change. Instead, it will require either (1) a scenario in which instigating such a protocol will benefit all parties, (2) an irresistible push/pull prompted by a powerful outside party (government?), or (3) good old-fashioned fish-eat-smaller-fish empire building.

A Chatty KoryNow to be fair, there is some light in the sky these days regarding inter-network IM capability. For instance, with Yahoo Messenger you can add and communicate with contacts using Windows Live™ Messenger, and you can add your AOL AIM contacts into Google Talk. Such functionalities, however, are the result of agreements reached between the networks, agreements in which a bridging of two (or more) proprietary protocols has been put in place not to open communication up but to simply extend one IM provider’s boundaries to include those within another’s.

Business UC

Journey’s Start

I can hardly have a conversation with anyone these days without being asked, “Hey Kory, what exactly is ‘Unified Communications’?” As such, I will attempt to provide a definitive answer to that oh-so-ubiquitous question by copiously leveraging/paraphrasing/appropriating/borrowing/stealing from various authoritative (or authoritative-ish, at least) online resources, using my handy-dandy search engine and my remarkable knack for pulling effective keyword criteria out of my noggin.

Here, as they say, goes nothin’.

Back in 2006, Unified Communications Strategies defined UC as “Communications integrated to optimize business processes.”, and I daresay a crisper, more to-the-point description is not to be found anywhere. It has big words, a jargon-y swagger, and suffers not a lick for punctuation. Kinda dry, sure, but it is an excellent start, and when you consider that it was first floated some 8 years ago that really is all it needs to be. That is, except for its strict confinement to business.Journey's Start

Since first defining UC way back when, Unified Communications Strategies has fine-tuned their “foundational” definition, and today their quite useful publication What UC Is and Isn’t leads off with their New And Improved take on it all:  “UC integrates real-time and non-real-time communications with business processes and requirements based on presence capabilities, presenting a consistent unified user interface and user experience across multiple devices and media types.” A more fleshed-out delineation of UC, to be sure, but still overwhelmingly business-centric.

A little less than a year ago RIC Services’ Rick McCharles offered his UC definition: