It's a really cool concept, and Dave ten Have explained a bit to me during the Kiwi Foo Camp back in February 2007. We actually ended up sharing a motel room on that unconference (this is probably my only claim to fame now that he's a big startup).
Ponoko is the first personal manufacturing platform. Using their website, people can invent and design new products, then have them made to order, or sell their designs to others.
If I don't hear from anyone else I'd say this is the first New Zealand company building dedicated Windows Home Server machines.
It's a nice box, with an ASUS P5S-MX SE motherboard, running an Intel Pentium Dual Core Processor. I don't know the exact memory and disc configuration yet, because I am right now packing and leaving to the airport - I will be back in a couple of days and then put this machine through testing.
I have now a copy of PerformanceTest 6.1 that I am using to test a Lexar SSD Express Card and will use to test this Windows Home Server too. Stay tuned!
The conference theme is "Moving Your Business Online - The Tipping Point us Upon Us". I will lead the "User Generated Content" session (7 November, 4:10pm) and also participate in a panel session "Blogging your customers" (8 November, 4pm).
I am also planning to be attending the TUANZ Business Internet Awards 2007 afterwards.
TUANZ (Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand) is a not-for-profit organisation that for 20 years has been promoting the needs of end-users of telecommunications in New Zealand.
There's a YouTube video inviting people to visit the TUANZ website and also to attend the conference. I don't think Ernie will be playing in the conference though...
Last month, I wrote about the FUD surrounding Windows Vista and DRM. The FUDmaster is Peter Gutmann, a New Zealand researcher who wrote a paper last December that made a series of outrageous and inflammatory claims about Windows Vista. Since then, Gutmann has expanded the paper to more than four times its original size. The current version available on Gutmann’s website clocks in at more than 26,000 words, making it longer than some recent works of fiction.
And length isn’t the only thing Gutmann’s paper has in common with the average pulp novel. Gutmann’s work is riddled with factual errors, mistaken assumptions and unproven assertions, distortions, contradictions, misquotes, and outright untruths. In short, it’s a work of fiction all on its own.
Gutmann is a clever writer, and he’s able to string together nouns, verbs, technical terms,and acronyms in ways that sound persuasive. In this three-part series (look for Parts 2 and 3 later this week), I’m going to dig deep into Gutmann’s work and show you just where he got it wrong.
I’ve been working on this story for months. Part of the problem is that Gutmann’s paper is a rambling, sloppy, disorganized mess, and nine months of additions have made it even more difficult to pick out the serious arguments from the scare stories and snark. Gutmann’s favorite technique is to string together anecdotes he’s plucked from magazines and websites, juxtapose those stories with sentences from presentations by Microsoft engineers and developers, and then speculate on the implications, often with wildly incorrect results. And worst of all, Gutmann appears to believe everything he reads—as long as he can fit it into his anti-Microsoft world view.
The other part of the problem is Gutmann’s lack of hands-on experience with modern consumer electronics gear and with Windows Vista itself, which shows in nearly every sentence he writes. I’ve done extensive hands-on testing and have personally seen Vista do things that Gutmann says are impossible. Rather than write 26,000 words of my own, I’m going to pick out more than a dozen substantive errors in Gutmann’s piece and explain why they’re wrong.
Peter is a "Professional Paranoid" as he describes himself on his page. You can read Peter's paper "A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection" on-line for more information on his theories.
But what happens when things stop working?
Microsoft Windows Live Custom Domains is down. I can't get to it to administer domains. It's like the server simply doesn't exist. When I tried to find a support contact it was impossible. There's none. I visited Microsoft's live.com website and clicked on Feedback. There's a huge list of Live services, but Windows Live Custom Domains is not there.
How can we get control of our domains back? A couple of redirects that use the Live Domains service are not working.
If a company relies on Live domains they would now be without access to this service for some time. And there's no contact point.
A friend pointed me to a URL where I could enter feedback to specific Windows Live Products. And this is what I got:
Your current language is English (New Zealand). Support for Windows Live Custom Domains is currently only available from the following list.
Seriously? hat is different in English (New Zealand) from English (Australia) or even English (United States)?
I am able to send feedback when I change my language to English (Australia), but then I get this:
Thank you for taking the time to give us your feedback. We appreciate your feedback and use it to help create better services and products. Unfortunately we cannot provide a personal response to your comments.
Hello!? Your service is down. We can't contact anyone, and if we do provide feedback you tell me you won't contact me back?
This kind of problem is what makes some companies walk, no, run away from hosted services. How can they trust a third party with their information, if the third party cannot be contacted in case of a fault?
We take some companies for granted, but we forget that in this age every service seems to be "beta". "Beta" doesn't mean "under expert testing" anymore. It means "we have a cool service but we can't guarantee it will work, because we keep tweaking it and breaking it".
UPDATE: The service is up, with a downtime of four hours, during which I couldn't contact anyone because I speak English (New Zealand).
The features are really incredible: VGA screen, 1 GB flash memory for storage, 128 MB RAM for program execution, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and a 806 MHz processor. Add to this a GSM module so it can connect mobile data and on top of that, it's a rugged device!
Now I am having some fun configuring it to synchronise with an Exchange Server 2007 test account provided by AnywhereExchange, so I can demonstrate all the new messaging and security features.
I got it from GeoSystems, TDS Resellers here in Wellington and region.
You can find a good review of this new processor at The Tech Report ("AMD's Quad-Core Opteron 2300 Processors"), but I'd like to share some of the slides I had access to and point to a few features that makes this a very interesting new platform for servers.
The first slide is just an overview of this new family of processors. The most interesting features are the AMD CoolCore Technology, for reducing energy consumption by turning off unused parts of the processor; the Independent Dynamic Core Technology, an enhancement to AMD PowerNow! technology, allowing each core to vary its clock frequency depending on the specific performance requirement of the applications it is supporting; and Dual Dynamic Power Management (DDPM), which provides an independent power supply to the cores and to the memory controller, allowing the cores and memory controllers to operate on different voltages, determined by usage.
The Independent Dynamic Core Technology sound really promising. For comparison, on Intel processors all cores must run at the same speed, regardless of individual workload.
Also interesting is that AMD provides 512KB L2 cache for each core, and a shared 2MB L3 cache. They say this reduces possible bottleneck that could come from a single cache implementation.
AMD is heavily investing in virtualisation, and Quad-Core AMD Opteron processors come with Direct Connect Architecture, providing an integrated memory controller for reduced memory latency, and Rapid Virtualization Indexing, a new AMD innovation in AMD Virtualization technology designed to reduce the overhead associated with software virtualization. Rapid Virtualization Indexing takes functionality that was previously performed in software and accelerates it by performing those functions within the CPU.
The last slide is the introduction to Average CPU Power (ACP) metric, which represents processor power usage, including cores, integrated memory controller, and HyperTransport technology links, while running a suite of high utilization workloads to be more indicative of the power consumption that end-users can expect.
ACP is a useful metric for data center operators when estimating power budgets to size their datacenters.
Overall it was a good conference call, although lacking in the questions side - in my case I thought the presentation and slides provided a good coverage of new features and other information.
It's interesting seeing Vodafone sponsoring something in the U.S. where they are an almost unknown player, except for their (minority) participation on Verizon Wireless, one of the two main CDMA operators there...