Notes from 30,000 Feet

I recently completed an article titled ‘The Technology of Financial Services’ (as well as one called “Just the Apps, Ma’am“) for the CPA Technology Advisor. It was an interesting project, and I even got to interview a man named ‘Batman’- Tony Batman, that is. (I had to work on the wordings to avoid phrases like ‘According to Batman’ and ‘Batman says’, as I enjoy the writing, but don’t want an excerpt to end up in Jay Leno’s monologue. All kidding aside, thanks to Tony and all of those who made time to allow me to interview them- I think the article came out well.

Big thanks to Averatec for replacing my Averatec 3715-EH1 with an AV2260-EH1 this week. The 3715 had been a lemon from the start, and had spent almost as much time in the shop as it spent in use. The new laptop has a 1280×800 12.1” screen (very bright), a Turion 64 processor, and weighs four pounds. The 2260 also has an easily accessible service panel on the bottom- a welcome change from the 3715, which in addition to being cheaply made, required technical skills beyond most mortals to upgrade the RAM or HDD. Seriously- the old machine required me to remove no less than 10 screws, the keyboard, three ribbons, the processor fan, and disassemble the screen from the base, and took me (a guy who has worked on PC hardware starting with an Apple II+ in the 1980’s) a full half hour of concentrated work to perform this work. Thanks for standing behind your product, guys. I’ll be reporting how well the device holds up to the demands of a road warrior.

My HP Compaq nx6125 is on its way to recovery after a corrupted registry. It’s in Kansas now, recuperating from its recent illness (owner overinstallation disease). I’m looking for a good comparison of the performance of VMware vs. MS Virtual PC/virtual server, as I’m in the process of moving my testing to a virtualized environment- maybe this will help me keep my teaching machine leaner & meaner. Any tips and tricks from readers on how to max out the performance of VM’s would be appreciated. I’m particularly intrigued by the concept of booting to a 64 bit version of Linux which would be locked down and let me just run virtuals of Windows, Linux, and Windows Small Business server. I have two desktop boxes at home which I’d like to get more out of than I’m currently receiving. I also have a four year old who needs an environment which can be easily refreshed- so I’m going to be playing with the VM products in the next few weeks.

I am currently working on an article about Portable Apps and the new computing models which it ushers in. An example is my 2GB Kingston u3 drive- I run the following apps directly from the drive:
– Firefox Browser
– Thunderbird E-mail
– Zinio Magazines (PC World and PC Week, of course)
– Skype (!)
– Open Office
(it’s worth noting that I would prefer to run MS Office 2003 instead of OpenOffice for my portable office apps, but have no clue how to set up Office as a U3 app. It occurs to me that portable apps could be combined with an MP3 player (think iPod with Linux) to allow you to present Powerpoints from the iPod’s video out (and use the Apple remote to control the slideshow). This, combined with video clips of software demos could make it possible for a guy like me to use my iPod video as a backup to live presentation. Ahhhhh…. the projects for the Fall conference season. (Lots of new toys in my future, for sure.) If anyone knows how to boot an OS on a PC from a thumbdrive or an iPod (with a universal setup like the ones out there on the Linux boot disks), please drop me a line with any useful links.