Heard on the radio this morning that ole Microsoft is in the midst of producing an advertising campaign to counter the Mac/PC ads from Apple. They have enlisted comedian Jerry Seinfield to star in the campaign along side Bill Gates. I can only imagine how this one will go. For Microsoft’s sake, I hope that its not a comparison of the finer points of Windows versus Mac. If so, it’ll be a 10 million dollar mess just proving that Microsoft doesn’t get it – as with their Mojave project – which backfires in my opinion by pointing out shortcomings of Vista that people really weren’t even thinking about.
In my original post, I completely neglected the Back To My Mac feature introduced with OS X Leopard’s release. It was another big feature of .Mac and now MobileMe that I really like to make use of. BTTM worked as somewhat of a mystery to me, until yesterday. AppleInsider has a great post about how this service works.
In light of HP’s crap support yesterday, today I thought I’d relay something more positive towards a company I admire. This time its not Apple. Its USAA – the United States Automobile Association.
USAA is a bank/insurance/financial company which is a member’s only corporation serving active and former members of the armed forces and their families. Once you’re a member, you are a member for life and your children can inherit membership, along with their children and so on. My wife and I are members thanks to her grandfather Fischer, who served in the Air Force for many years.
Background aside, I can’t remember when I’ve been more impressed with a company. USAA is not only a financial company that really has great products to offer. I think there are lots of those companies out there. USAA just gets customer service. That is what makes this company so different.
Well, its taken years, but it’s finally happened. I can actually walk into a store and buy a Mac in MYRTLE BEACH! I knew Best Buy was expanding their Apple mini-store program… It took me by surprise because I had no idea that a lower level market like Myrtle would be getting this so soon…
So, the story… Yesterday, I took the afternoon off. I ran down to the beach for a few errands and swung by Best Buy. Just inside the door, I was greeted by the most wonderful of signs. “Now Open” and the beautiful Apple logo!
I made a v-line for the back of the store and there it was – mecca – a mini-Apple Store in the Myrtle Beach Best Buy. Ok, so yeah, I’m a little carried away, but you have to realize that for years on years, the only way to get a Mac in Myrtle Beach was to order it online. Yes, there was THAT one Apple shop, but the word Shady doesn’t even begin to describe them. Last year, I stumbled upon a store in Garden City – “The Mac Guy”. He’s more of a business consultant Apple partner and specializes in music – Logic Pro and the like.
I’m thinking that I just might have to go and buy a shiny new one soon. I’m holding out for the inevitable refresh to come later this year. I’m keeping my fingers and toes crossed for a redesign of the MacBook Pro line, but how can you improve perfection?
One of my most recent projects at HTC has been implementing our HP Bladesystem (not to be confused with a BladeCenter – that’s IBM’s product!). For the most part, its gone extremely smooth and the solution is fantastic for a sprawling datacenter. It really allows you to consolidate and concentrate your computing in the datacenter.
Monday I struggled with a LUN presentation issue to a set of blades. I was trying to create a cluster for our SQL 2005 instance. I had 4 blades setup identically. I was able to have a LUN presented and bring up a cluster on two of the blade – no problem.
For the second set of blades, I setup the same configuration. I have the 1 Gig LUN presented to the SQL boxes for quorum and then rescan. Windows no see… Rescan again… Windows still no see. I troubleshot this for the rest of the afternoon to no avail. Tuesday morning, I open the support case with HP.
After being flung from one support queue to another, I realize that HP is done a fantastic job of creating silos withing their support departments – to such a degree that most of their employees only know the one particular component of a solution which they support. This has become especially true when looking at big solutions – like a blade system connected to and booting from the SAN.
After 3 and a half hours, I ended a support call which involved a total of 7 support “engineers” and at one point, I had one support guy in India who conference’d in another in India who conference’d in another in Costa Rica – talk about lag time on the phone call… My voice had to travel to India and back to the Caribbean to talk to the guy I really needed to talk to in the beginning.
Final solution – uninstall the multipathing software (MPIO) and reinstall. The servers now see the LUNs. Better than Indian support #1’s suggestion that I reinstall Windows before he troubleshot anything…
The opinions expressed here are strictly personal opinions authored by Philip Sellers, an employee of HTC (Horry Telephone Cooperative, Inc.) and/or its subsidiaries. Any reference to, discussion of, or content regarding HTC and/or its subsidiaries has not been reviewed, approved, or authorized by HTC and/or its subsidiaries before such content is posted and does not represent HTC and/or its subsidiaries or its views and opinions in any way.
First, let me say that a wise man once told me that procrastination solves many a problem. While I don’t think it always applies, when it comes to software patches and upgrades – I tend to tread water for a while before applying anything in production.
Everyone else has chimed in with their perspective on why the Update 2 bomb bug is a big deal. I probably approach this from a slightly different angle. I’m never fond of any software company which time limits your software. I don’t really care much if its beta software or final release, but anything which bundles a mechanism to expire the software at some point in time to me is not production software. Any time this is included, you run the risk of the exact scenario that VMware setup on us. To me, there is only one thing worst – a HARDWARE based license shackle (I have one I absolutely despise in the office right now!).
I have always been a fan of VMware’s solution to licensing – because it wasn’t a date or hardware shackle solution. That’s what makes me so worried with VMware at this point. Why would a company whose central mechanism for license control add a date layer when its not necessary. If you’re VMware, do you really care that someone is running a pre-release version of your patches instead of the final revision? Why did the date of August 12 matter? If someone is crazy enough to run their production systems on pre-release patches, let them.
Those darn pirates
Yeah, yeah. I get that some people pirate software. But many of the anti-piracy measures only serve to agonize the legitimate customers of the software companies. Many years ago during my consulting years, I maintained a dental software package which relied on a parallel port hardware shackle to operate. This was the pain of all pains. There wasn’t a move the office could make without having problems. And should the one workstation with the key go down, well, the office was down.
Microsoft has been combatting piracy for years, with little success IMO. The things that they have added to their operating systems continue to do little other than annoy their legitimate customers. As an enterprise, I find it rediculous that we’d have to activate every copy of Windows we deploy. They already rape extort persuade us into “Enterprise Agreements” on the threats of audits and in the olden days, rewarded us with the ability not to have to activate each copy in the enterprise. With the advent of Windows Server 2008 and Vista on the desktop, we lose that ‘reward’ and are forced to allow this needless traffic through our firewalls and security framework to allow Microsoft to certify that we have legitmate copies of their operating system. [EA’s are for a whole ‘nother blog post]
So everyone must wonder what my solution would be? Simple actually. Disable the ability to add new data to the software – whatever the software may be – but NEVER should a software simply stop running cold because of a licensing issue – regardless of type.
Take my dental software – how should it have acted if the hardware shackle was gone? It should have allowed for normal check-in, check-out, appointment scheduling for existing patients. It should allow for day-to day operation. But, perhaps hit the pirate where it hurts – stop them from running financial reports, submitting insurance claims, etc. But don’t stop a legitimate customer with a technical problem from running their office.
It ultimately comes down to whether the software company really values the customer, but that’s a whole ‘nother post.
Its been a little while since MobileMe has been released and the dust has started the settle. There was a lot of attention to the botched launch and even the Steve has weighed in on it with an internal email circulated through Apple. And while the launch had major issues, the service is really impressive.
I should start with a disclaimer – I’m a rather light user at this point. However, that said, the service is working fantastic for me. The web applications rival that of Google, in my opinion. The calendaring application is particularly slick. It mimics the workings of iCal very well within a web browser.
There is just something about this little company in Cupertino that gets everyone going, myself included. Their products are unlike anything else in the market and it is a company that really “gets” user experience.
Our first meeting
My first experience with an Apple was back in elementary school and it was an Apple ][. I can’t say then that I knew or was as nearly impressed with the company or their products. Fast-forward to high school journalism class. A row of baby-Mac’s and a couple Performa’s and I have to say, I was hooked. Even during my high-school years, Windows 3.11 was the cutting edge thing. But these Mac’s were very different.
A year later, I headed to college and ended up in the newspaper office. I ended up spending a good bit of time there, and it ultimately changed my life’s path, but it also let me spend a lot of time getting to know the good and bad of a Mac. And there was bad. Mac OS 8 and 9 were ok, but prone to crashes and data corruption. But, this was around the time Steve Jobs was returning and settling into iCEO position. And Apple was churning out some very interesting hardware at this time. We upgraded from the beige boxes to candy colored iMacs and translucent G4’s.
Since June of 2006, I’ve worked for HTC (Horry Telephone Cooperative), which by the way is the national’s largest telephone cooperative. Its offered me some great experiences and training opportunities. One of those is exposure to virtualization technologies. And this one comes with a story.
When I started at HTC, my wife was pregnant and due in November. In September, we were scheduling a VMware class for the new version of VMware that was being released. VMware was already in our datacenter and operational, but the new version offered a huge leap forward – something we wanted to take advantage of. So the class was scheduled starting on November 1 and moving forward – no big deal – until the doctor’s said we’d have our baby on October 30 (much longer story there). So I began VMware classes two days after my daughter was born, but I haven’t regretted it. Even as distracted as I was during class, I met a really amazing product suite.