Archive for June, 2012

Its all about the apps

At least according to anyone who has owned an Apple phone, its all about simplicity… The iPhone does that. Despite the recent announcement of a whole set of new iOS6 features integrated with Facebook that are mostly copied from Windows Phone 7.5 its actually still all about the apps for me.

As of yesterday I was till under the impression Dell was going to launch new phones later this year. Well apparently not anymore, a shift in strategy means we are going to focus more on the management, than phones themselves. I’ve grown really fond of my dell Venue pro with Windows phone, despite the fact I’ve been holding onto a device with a cracked screen, hoping for new devices to be launched real-soon-now.

One of the big frustrations I’ve been living with isn’t the phone or the OS at all, its the Twitter client/app. It constantly returns “rate limited”.

Want to tweet? Sorry, rate limited. Want to retweet, rate limited. I tried birdsong, at 99c what a deal, shame the red on black text is unreadable and not changeable. At least accordingly to the Windows Phone marketplace, it is an official app Published by: Twitter, Inc. and released in October 2010. Ever since I installed this, it often fails with rate limited, I guess this is an app error based on https://dev.twitter.com/docs/rate-limiting. – Shame is loads of people are complaining about it that twitter have not addressed it.

Next up, I tried Seesmic… Used it before, wasn’t really that good, very restricted input windows for non-twitter sites like facebook. lets try again, sorry can’t create twitter space, turns out to be a authentication error…. I’m guessing in direct response to twitter changing to always returning a gzip formatted authentication response.

I tried Birdsong, a really nice twitter app, sadly it uses red on black for twitter names and links, which on my phone is unreadable. So what to do about a broken app? Despite my enthusiasm for Windows 8, I think the time has come to switch over to Android. I have a B&N rooted to Android Gingerbread, and a Smasung Nexus S with ICS, and although they are both great computers, as a smart phone, I prefer Windows Phone 7.5. But hey, as a platform the Facebook app is not keeping up, the twitter app is broken, the marketplace lacks details on versions, updates and more.

Posted from WordPress for Windows Phone

Dell vStart 1000

I’ve previously posted on the Dell vStart systems, first the vStart 200, and then later it’s smaller brother, the vStart 50. Now it’s the turn of the big brother, vStart 1000. The announcement came as part of a suite of technology product announced by the head of my division, Brad Anderson, at the second annual U.S. Dell Storage Forum. You can find a summary and video from Brad here.

Apart from the scale and capacity of the vStart 1000, obviously designed to accomodate about one thousand virtual machines running on either VMware’s ESXi or Microsoft’s Hyper-V server virtualization hypervisors, a couple of the key additions are the first Dell Compellent storage and Dell Force10 networking-based vStart solution. By combining the new PowerEdge M620, Dell Force10 networking and Compellent fibre channel storage, vStart 1000 provides a mission critical application and private cloud platform withintegration and exploitation of theses key infrastructure components.

[update] CRN has a good summary and a picture of the new blades which I hadn’t seen. You can read it here.

Windows 8 – Hero or Villain?

Friday evening I headed down to the Woodlands to see the Beach Boys, just as I was walking in I got an email, it said simply “Hi Mark, what are your thoughts on this[Windows 8] as a user?”.

Since I had 20-minutes before the concert started, at least, I figured I’d bash out a quick reply. I’d been thinking I should write a follow-up to my earlier “Windows 8 and is change ever good?” entry and earlier in the day had read “Final thoughts on Windows 8: A design disaster” on zdnet.

If you ended up here to get confirmation that Windows 8 is indeed a bad idea, and you are not interested in anything else, then good news, just read the next paragraph and you are done. If you do though, you are risk of missing the point, and that’s what I think is happening now. Reviewers are missing the point, well mostly. And before you accuse me of being a Microsoft shill, remember I contributed to the IBM Linux strategy as discussed on my “corner” over the years, so don’t have my past or my future vested in Microsoft’s success. One of my documents on Linux, from the year 2000, is still available from the About page of this blog.

Corporate PC use: As a corporate laptop user with a keyboard and mouse, Windows 8 is indeed a pain. A number of the default windows behaviors have been changed which mean using it with a mouse is, clumsy at best. I sort of like Metro, and full screen windows, but then I’m an old guy who used grew up on 3270 mainframe terminals.

Ultimately these inconsistencies are going to be a big barrier to early corporate adoption on traditional PCs and laptops, the lost productivity will be a big cost, eventually i can see MS having to ship a Windows 8 that doesn’t boot to metro so they can withdraw support for WIN7.

Home use touch-screen: At home I’ve got an Dell 17-inch Inspiron touch screen laptop attached to my tv and home theatre system. Windows 8 and metro are brilliant, everything i had before works, I’ve been able to write scripts with a UI to automate a few simple, repetitive things I do. For example most mornings I listen to BBC Radio London over the Internet, I’ve now got a metro initiated script that launches the web page and stars the player, all it takes is a simple tap on a big button and it works. Even when the button is off the screen it takes just a few simple swipes. No more trying to scroll win7 scrollbars, trying to be accurate double touching icons, etc.

As a software architect:  One of my current projects the Dell Enterprise Systsmes Group Software/Firmware mobile/UI strategy. I love that you can use a knockout.js   implementation and that you can build apps out of html5 JavaScript and a smattering of CSS and this I think is a key point. There is a great article here if you don’t understand this.

My view is Windows 8 shouldn’t be aimed at corporate for a while, I don’t have a Windows 8 tablet, but one of our guys has bought his own Samsung, taken a Dell IT early Windows 8 build, and is using it in the office. So when Adrian Kingsley-Hughes says on zdnet he’s “going to avoid commenting on Metro on touch-based systems for now because Windows 8 is too far off in the future to know what the hardware is going to be like.” – He’s just wrong.

With the ability to use touch on a tablet or phone, build UI apps easily, I think Microsoft have taken a bold step, making WIN8 pretty compatible with mobile hybrid apps, and touch. In the next few years that will turn out to be a masterstoke but with the ability to capture a new generation of developers, writing web apps, Windows 8 apps, Windows Phone apps, and xbox.

As a PC User: All the apps from win7 are compatible, I get a pretty useful touch paradigm, and best of all, we get a pretty easy way to write metro apps without the old complexities of windows UI programming.

And I sent off my reply. A Few minutes later the reply came back “Sounds great Mark and I am seeing this in a similar way to your view below but you’ve added some new insights. Thanks and enjoy the beach boys! Michael [Dell]”.


About & Contact

I'm Mark Cathcart, formally a Senior Distinguished Engineer, in Dells Software Group; before that Director of Systems Engineering in the Enterprise Solutions Group at Dell. Prior to that, I was IBM Distinguished Engineer and member of the IBM Academy of Technology. I'm an information technology optimist.


I was a member of the Linux Foundation Core Infrastructure Initiative Steering committee. Read more about it here.

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