Tech in the 603, The Granite State Hacker

KB3035583 – Where is the Windows 10 Invitation to Upgrade?

I’ve had a lot of folks express confusion over Windows 10…  It is FREE for the vast majority of existing Windows users. (Only some corporate PCs may run into a cash register.)  It’s also very easy to install for the vast majority of users.  I’m so confident with the upgrade process that I’ve handed off one of the URLs below to my folks, and told them to call me if they have a problem… 

The invitation to reserve Windows 10 is triggered from an update that rolls out over WSUS, described by Knowledge Base article KB3035583.  The reservation is essentially passed since the software is officially released, but here’s some detail on it if you’re curious…

The following URL is the KB article, which describes update that triggers the invitation to reserve Windows 10, mentioning that Enterprise machines do not apply:
https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3035583


The following article indicates that once installed, the KB3035583 update will also exclude itself from being applied Domain Joined machines:
http://rainesy.com/what-is-the-update-kb3035583-you-might-ask/


But the most important question to answer at this point… 
HOW TO UPGRADE TO WINDOWS 10 NOW:

I’ve had a couple links at the ready since I’ve been answering questions like this a lot lately across both business and personal connections…  here’s a post on how to download & install Windows 10 immediately for an individual system: 
www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10

If you’re looking for more information on how to roll Windows 10 out across a company infrastructure, there’s a high level set of options, outlined in the following post:
https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/mt158221%28v=vs.85%29.aspx?f=255&MSPPError=-2147217396

There’s a ton of great reasons for a company to deploy Windows 10, including

  • Universal Apps that enable you to extend your code base and/or future code effort across the entire Windows spectrum
  • A host of attractive, industrial-strength BYOD options for more than just tablets and smartphones
  • The most efficient and consistent use of latest generation hardware including touchscreen and security measures

Microsoft is preparing to *upgrade* over a billion Windows devices to Windows 10.   We’re proud to be a part of that, and very happy to help in any capacity we can getting the bits pushed out to all your machines. 


As a developer, I’m very happy to promote the platform I most want to work on… I really feel that Windows 10’s success is the foundation of a lot of others’ success, including my own.

Tech in the 603, The Granite State Hacker

Net Neutrality and the Return of AOL

For cable TV customers, there’s something oddly familiar about the idea of channel providers.  Trading off television channels by switching cable TV providers has long been commonplace in regions where there’s more than one cable TV provider, and long been the envy of those who don’t live in such regions.  If Time-Warner wants to cut off CBS over contract issues, and you live in a place where you only have Time-Warner, you don’t get your NCIS fix.

Flashback to a couple decades ago…  America Online, GEnie, and CompuServe WERE the “Internet”.  If you wanted IN on the “online craze” you had to go to one or more of these companies and buy your seat at their table.  Companies didn’t advertise their web URLs.  They advertised their AOL keywords.  CompuServe had great educational content providers, but AOL was king of chat at a time when chat was king.  Most companies flocked to AOL as a result, and so AOL wasn’t just an ISP, it was THE digital content channel provider.

The channel model died with the rise in popularity of the Internet.   Suddenly, all you needed to connect content to customers was the same thing that everyone needed.  A connection.  Thanks to a convention called “Net Neutrality”, the channel model built by services such as AOL & CompuServe were walls that were knocked down.  Your connection was every “channel”, simultaneously, all the time, with no bundling.  As a business, wanting to publish and contribute your content as a channel, you had only to invest in your own connection, and a little technical infrastructure, and you were in.

Facebook has taken serious shots at bringing the channel model back.  If you want to play certain online games or see some online content, you must join Facebook… and content/gaming providers who want to participate in that must come to agreements with Facebook, of course. 

Yet, with the breakdown of Net Neutrality, the pendulum is swinging solidly back to the channel provider model.  Your ISP now has the right to decide what traffic they carry over their networks and/or throttle performance from different content significantly…  if they want to cut back on Netflix… they can.  If they want to nix Google services, whatever.

Clearly this happened almost instantly with recent judicial rulings…  The jinni is already out of the bottle.  Verizon has decided to effectively drop the “Netflix channel” by cutting Netflix’ bandwidth down to reportedly unusable levels.  This means if you’re on Verizon and were using Netflix, you either have to find a new video streaming service, or you have to find a new channel service provider. 

How long will it be before this impacts every Internet service provider (and even cellular network providers, since VOIP services are reducing them to ISPs as well)?  

Here’s some fictitious quotes from a not so hard to see future (roughly within the next decade):

  • “I left Verizon for Time-Warner because Verizon charges too much for the Office 365 and Facebook channels.  Comcast is tempting, though, because they have Google Hangouts and enhanced YouTube in their HD package.” 
  • “I wish Verizon had the same educational channels as T-Mobile or Sprint, though, cause my kids could use that for school.”  
  • “Thankfully my channel provider and my folks across the country both have enhanced Skype.  I can’t Skype my sister at all, though.”
  • “I had to switch banks when I switched carriers.  AT&T hasn’t come to an agreement with my old bank, so I couldn’t use their online services.”
  • “Amazon’s gone bust since they failed to become a viable channel provider, and every other channel provider decided to compete against them.”
  • “Google is the new AOL.  Most folks can’t even get online except thru Google Fiber. Your business does not have an online presence unless it’s thru them.  It’s too bad your competitors already have exclusive agreements with them.”

ISPs love this, because as cable TV providers will tell you, there’s a lot of pricing power in being a channel provider, but not so much is being a connection provider. 

Businesses will struggle with this, however, because getting your website on the Internet will become a much more complicated proposition.  Sure, you’ll be able to get online the same, but your content won’t be carried the same.   Essentially, small business content will be at the whim of “local access channels” provided by each channel provider.  They’ll all have their own rules and regulations, and even more importantly, their own fees.  Is your audience growing?  You’ll have to hammer out deals with each channel provider to make sure your content gets to all your customers.

Further, how long will it be before we start having a resurgence in custom network interface hardware to the point of ending Wi-Fi and Ethernet as we know it?  We’ve already seen netbooks and tablets that have wireless Internet service tied to specific cellular carriers.  I’d be willing to bet that as channel providers gain hold and start to flex their newfound muscles, a breakdown in connectivity standards will take hold.

Tech in the 603, The Granite State Hacker

Cloud or Windows 8 Killing the PC Market?

Everyone’s busy scratching their heads as of late, and then pointing.  Who’s killing the PC market?  

Slashdotters are loving the idea that it’s Windows 8 ( http://tech.slashdot.org/story/13/04/11/002200/windows-8-killing-pc-sales ).

…but I fully call BS on that.  (Thankfully, Slashdot corrected itself to some extent.)

Then I came across this article by ZD Net blaming the cloud:
http://www.zdnet.com/whos-killing-the-pc-blame-the-cloud-7000013954/#postComment

The CLOUD?

That’s kind of like saying the Boeing 787 is killing the auto industry.

The cloud may be killing the server market, but that’s not the PC market…  the server market is busy supporting the cloud providers, though, so I don’t think they’re too bad off. 

If Windows 8 is holding the PC market back, it’s this:   I have upgraded every PC I touch (and then some) to the latest Windows 8 Pro, with no need for additional hardware, (because you were ill advised (or unadvised) if you’re a Windows user who didn’t take advantage of the $40 PRO edition upgrade offer from MS while you could.)

What’s killing the PC market is rooted in applications… especially games, on a couple levels:

1)  the fact that there’s only ever been one reason to have heavy iron at home:  games.  Games have gotten to the point that spending a few thousand dollars on a new machine won’t significantly improve your desktop gaming experience… so… unless you have that kind of scratch to waste, why bother?

2)  The games people want to play are on mobile devices.  As much as I love my desktop games, there actually have been a few mobile titles that have been engaging enough that I have taken time off from raiding to play them.

There is also the fact that the economy in general sucks, and while older PCs can continue to function, newer PCs are discretionary purchases that can (or must) wait.  

I can say from example, I’m aware of someone who has a laptop that, through what appears to be planned obsolescence, has broken in a couple of “expensive” ways… the display and keyboard are both dead.   Rather than pay a grand or more for repairs that would cost more than a new machine, or even pay the money for the new machine, the solution was to pick up a USB keyboard, and a cheap monitor… it now serves quite adequately as a desktop…  (and it was also upgraded to Windows 8).  (In any case, I’ll never waste money on that brand of laptop again.  🙂  )

If the hardware market wants me to spend, they’ve got to do something that will get me to feel like I’m not burning bucks for 10 additional frames per second, or… change their model… radically. 

Or… show me my favorite desktop title with an improved experience through touch screen…  but even this can be overcome with something like a LEAP Motion sensor for less than $100.

Bottom line… I think what we’re seeing is, for the first time, honest to goodness inflation hitting the PC market, and it’s choking on it.

Tech in the 603, The Granite State Hacker

Hedging Against The Risk of Becoming A Monopoly

First Microsoft with their late entry into the mobile market (and flubs leading up to it)… then Apple… now Facebook…  anyone notice that they kinda suck lately?  

Apple, clearly getting bored with it’s iPhone, is now turning its attention to it’s iWatch… which doesn’t make much sense to me;  I purposely gave up all other devices, including a wristwatch, in favor of a single unified mobile device.  It will take a lot to convince me to add a wristwatch back in, and I’m sure having to pay for it will be a deterring factor.   (Next thing you know, they’ll add electroshock notifications, and make it so that authorities will have the ability to lock it to the wearer’s wrist and cause it to electromagnetically bind to the nearest metal object in order to detain people… (but that’s another whole story)).

I’m always toying with social media, so when I ran across a Facebook post from an entrepreneurial acquaintance recently, wondering if his content was being suppressed, I had to check it out.   As an experiment, he posted a really cute puppy, and it picked up a fair number of responses.  His concern was that his regular posts were not getting the response he’d grown accustomed to.  To add yet more anecdote, there was recently a post on the New York Times’ blog about similar observations, tied to tweaks Facebook has made recently.  It seems posts that are engaging or paid for are prioritized, and posts that are not quite as popular are at best “deprioritized”.  It seems likely that even engaging posts tied to commercial products are likely suppressed unless paid for.  Anyone who dabbles in trying to build an audience through Facebook must pay or make sure their content is very engaging.   I like knowing about the books friends of mine are publishing.  I like knowing about their small mom & pop shop.  These posts are getting hidden from my newsfeed.  It’s not the most engaging stuff, but it’s part of what I use Facebook for.  Having this stuff drop off my radar makes Facebook start to suck more.  Yes, they want to make money, but I think there may be even more to it.

I digress.

But I have to ask…  with all the Big Data that companies like Apple, Intel, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Facebook, Google, and the rest have…  and rest assured, they have it… the analytics.  How can they really not recognize the things that are hurting their business? 

Is it intentional?

If modern history has shown us anything, it’s that free markets do not tolerate monopolies.  In every case, any time a company takes advantage of its own strength in the market, the market has pushed back, forcing one of a number of “bad” things upon the company.  Just about every global company has seen this.  I recall hearing about the Rockefeller oil breakup, but in our time, it was the Microsoft / Internet Explorer shakedown…. and there have been many others.

I long suspected the reason Linux existed and was not thoroughly stomped on by the powers that be (Microsoft) was to allow Linux to be a “competitor” in the market… something that would never have a unified corporate focus that could actually unseat Microsoft.  I know that Microsoft even supported some Linux components, which anecdotally supports my theory.  I’m sure they supported it as much as they felt they necessary in order to make sure Linux was a viable competitor.

When it became clear that Linux’s strength was flagging, a more corporate competitor became necessary.  It seems Apple filled that gap very nicely in the PC market for some time.

While Apple began to dominate the mobile market, Google stepped up to become a competitor there, partially because Microsoft wasn’t committed to the market space.  (It wasn’t enough of a threat to the PC market.)  Android has the same problems as Linux… too decentralized to be a lasting threat, so while Apple had it’s heyday and now lets itself slip in the market, Microsoft will target Google.  Eventually, I predict Apple and Microsoft will take turns with market dominance with Google there to provide another safety net.

So back to Facebook…  It seems like Twitter has become a haven for market bots, but not much more of real use to the average person.  Facebook’s power grew to near monopolistic levels over 2012, but I predict that Facebook will actually allow this unhappy situation to persist for entrepreneurial folks, encouraging them to explore Google+.  This leadership transference to Google+ will bolster Google+ as a competitor, enabling Facebook to remain free of  the shackles of being a monopoly.  I suspect they’ll both start taking turns with market dominance, but despite the market competition, I bet both will claim better results in their marketing campaigns, thus leading to higher advertising prices on both.

The nasty part, here, is that the reason for preventing and sanctioning monopolies is to prevent them from strong arming their markets.  Unfortunately, what it seems like we’re getting instead is very small oligarchies taking turns to be the dominant, but not quite monopolistic force in the market.  They take advantage of each other to develop brand loyalty which improves their profit margins and gives them near monopolistic power among their followers, yet they maintain their monopoly-free, unsanctioned status.

Tech in the 603, The Granite State Hacker

Infrastructure Agility via Cloud Technology

I’m honored to have just been published on Edgewater’s public blog…

It’s bit about managing infrastructure agility. The basic idea is architecting your infrastructure so that you can push off parts to different clouds when you need to, for any of a multitude of reasons. The idea goes a bit beyond virtualization.

Check it out:

http://edgewatertech.wordpress.com/2009/04/24/best-practice-cloud-computing/

Tech in the 603, The Granite State Hacker

Economic Detox

While contemporary headlines bode poorly for the U.S. economy, I see them as signs of hope…

I keep hearing high-pitched alarms about the weakening U.S. dollar, inflation, energy prices, the housing market bubble burst. We all see the ugly face of the these conditions.

Global trade has been a bitter (but necessary) pill for the U.S. Perhaps the Clinton-detonated U.S. economic nuclear winter (of global trade, NAFTA, etc.) is finally starting to give way to a new economic springtime in the States.

In the late 90’s US market, there were a lot of excesses in the technology sector. Then the bubble burst. When the dust settled, we (the US IT industry) found ourselves disenfranchised by our sponsors… corporate America beat us with our own job hopping. U.S. Engineers hopped off to the coolest new startup, and rode their high salaries into the dirt, while enduring companies went lean, mean, and foreign. We had become so expensive, we were sucking our own project ROI’s completely out of sight. By hooking foreign talent pools, the ROI’s were visible again.

Nearly a decade later, look what’s happening around the world… Many foreign IT job markets are falling into the same salary inflation trap that the U.S. market fell into… They are going through the same inflation we experienced. Their prices are rising.

Combine their salary inflation with our salary stagnation and a weakening dollar, and what do you get?

A leaner, meaner domestic competitor.

In a sense, it’s like that in many sectors of the U.S. economy.

So let the U.S. dollar weaken… It means that America can go back to being product producers (rather than mindless consumers) in the global market!