A Brief Look at the Amazon WorkSpaces Beta

16 Mar 2014
March 16, 2014

imageAt the beginning of the year, we were invited to participate in the beta for Amazon’s upcoming WorkSpaces product. We just had to demonstrate a “reason” to be in the beta and then they’d hook us up.

Our beta plan was to use ourselves as the primary users and address on-call engineer needs. We rotate on-call coverage but sometimes you don’t want to carry a laptop everywhere you go during your on-call week. Or sometimes you’re caught with just a tablet or smart phone. These days you can get a lot done with a mobile device, but it rarely can compare to what can be done with a proper computer.

We built a Workspaces machine for each engineer and then configured  the WorkSpaces client  for all of our various devices. There is support for Android, IOS, Windows and Mac. The client is lightweight and snappy and the Android client has some nice extra shortcuts and menu’ing to help you get more done without a keyboard. (I have to confess I haven’t seen the IOS client – presumably it has similar niceties).

On my Android tablet (an HP Slatebook X2) with the snap-on keyboard and touch pad dock, the experience is just like I’m using an ultraportable laptop – with far more powerful than my Slatbook. If I detach the keyboard it still works quite well though, Just not as “native” feeling, of course. Read more →

New Old Workstation

07 Mar 2014
March 7, 2014

Just a quick note: I have a new workstation at home. Not very exciting news, I realize. But I find it interesting enough to share.

There’s really nothing all that great about this rig. It is a Vista era Core 2 Duo workstation (still has the Vista sticker on it). All I did was add an SSD, upgraded to 8 GB of RAM and installed Windows 8.1.

It runs like a champ.

Just another anecdote that shows that processors have been plenty fast for a while now. The trick is speeding up drives and making sure you’re not constrained by RAM. That SSD makes one heck of a difference here!

Process Explorer Updated

21 Feb 2014
February 21, 2014

Have you checked out the latest version of Sysinternals Process Explorer? This remains one of my favorite tools to use when trying to get a grip of what’s really going on in a Windows machine.

Ever wondered which program has a particular file or directory open? Now you can find out. Process Explorer shows you information about which handles and DLLs processes have opened or loaded.

Now there’s one more really handy feature: it will submit the running processes to VirusTotal.com for further analysis. Don’t panic! It isn’t sending the actual files; it is sending hashes of them and it does it all very quickly. VirusTotal submits each process to up to 50 AV scanners and sends back the results of the scan. Just click the link in the right-most column to see the scan results.

Slick. Read more →

Left Dropbox / Came back to Dropbox

17 Feb 2014
February 17, 2014

Dropbox logoI know I’m not alone when it comes to concerns about Dropbox and privacy/security. Last year there were a few “issues” in the press. Then the Dropbox app on my phone updated and wanted access to my contacts? “Pfft, nuts to that – time to check options!” said I. I have a large amount of free storage thanks to years of their referral program so I had to keep storage in mind. A free 2 GB account wasn’t going to cut it.

(and yes, let’s not forget that when you’re getting a product for free you are most likely the real product in that equation)

https://www.microsoft.com/global/en-us/news/PublishingImages/HomePage/hero/logo_onedrive2014_hero.jpgSkyDrive (soon to be OneDrive) is online storage that I’m already using. I have a personal account with a bunch of free “early adopter” storage but I also have a work account that I have on all my machines for key work stuff. That includes shared OneNote notebooks and such. Works great and I have never had an issue with it.

But. I once looked into running multiple SkyDrive clients on the same machine and it sure didn’t look like it would be worth the hassle. (has that changed?).

imageFinally,I recalled Box. When I bought my tablet last fall it came with a 50 GB subscription to Box storage. Well there you go – a nice storage upgrade and the price is right. I went looking for a Windows client.

Read more →