Michael J. Thom Father. Nerd. Race fan. Musician.


Windows 8

Editor's note: This was originally written in August 2013... but for some reason was never posted. I'm posting it now, despite it being slightly out of date. Oh well!

I've used Windows 7 since its pre-beta. I used Windows 8 on a Surface Pro tablet. Now I run Windows 8.1 (beta) on my primary work laptop. And yet I'm writing this on a MacBook Pro, my personal computer. So I get around, as operating systems go, and I am in no way married to one platform. The count at home right now is actually: 3 Android devices, 2 Mac OS computers, and 1 Windows PC. If you count my work laptop then that's 2 Windows machines.

All that to say, as an operating system, I love Windows 8. Well, 8.1. Though on principle I don't love that Microsoft kow-towed to all the complaints about Windows 8 not having a Start button on the taskbar or letting you boot straight to the desktop, I do feel like it's the OS Windows 8 should have been. Windows 7 was awesome right out of the box, the first version. But Windows 8... not so much.

Will Windows 8 Save the Windows Platform or Kill It?

Look, anyone who asks this question has missed the truth about Windows's place in the world of computing. One single version -- almost regardless of how great or how terrible it is -- is not capable of singlehandedly derailing the whole ecosystem. Users may complain, businesses may hold off on upgrading (I'm looking at you, Vista), and the "state of computing" may not be furthered, but then they'll fix it (or just move on to another version altogether), and those businesses will then go ahead and upgrade and move on. We saw this with Windows ME, and then Windows XP got everyone basically back with the program (though some of course stuck with 2000). Windows Vista was definitely a "skip" version, but then Windows 7 came along and has proven to be a venerable option.

So will Windows 8 continue the good-bad-good-bad pattern of late? I truly believe the answer is no, but not because it's an overwhelmingly needed upgrade.


Google Glass – A Brief Review

Google Glass Explorer. Glasshole. Michael.

Google Glass in its boxCall me whatever you'd like, but I just got done living with Google Glass for about three weeks, and I have a few thoughts to share. (Why only three weeks? That mess is $1500... so I just played with it while still within the window to return it, and I have now sent it back for a refund.)

Overall impression: WOW. The UI, the UX, just the overall usability of it is actually pretty stunning. They've really spent a lot of time refining the experience of wearing and using Glass, and it shows. We've all seen the videos online that show how it's supposed to work, but when you put it on and find that it actually works as well as the videos show, that's something.

Coolest feature today: Translate This. Really the only augmented reality app so far, the Translate app takes whatever you're looking at, translates it, and replaces it on-screen with the new text, in a font and color that closely match the original. It's a bit sluggish and finicky, but it's so impressive when it works. And yes, I said replaces -- it's not a subtitle, it completely deletes the original word from the live-view image and replaces it with the translated word. Too cool.


Interop 2013 – Wrap-Up

Back in May I was fortunate to get to attend the Interop Las Vegas IT conference. I've already discussed my trip as a whole and the Principles of Effective IT Management workshop in the previous two posts. I wanted to take one more post to describe briefly the rest of the conference.

Wednesday, Thursday, and the first half of Friday comprised the main part of the conference. Wednesday and Thursday each began with keynotes, and then the rest of the time was filled with breakout sessions and time in the expo hall.

The breakout sessions were a definite mixed bag. Some of the ones I attended were frankly fairly boring and generic -- nothing I couldn't have stepped up with about a day's notice and presented myself, and I'm an expert in almost no relevant areas. But others were in fact quite interesting and well-presented.


Interop – Principles of Effective IT Management

This post is part 2 in a 3-part series. Check out the first post if you haven't yet.

I want to review a workshop I attended at Interop Las Vegas in May called Principles of Effective IT Management. It would be tough to recap all my notes from the 2-day workshop in blog posts, simply because they're so exhaustive. I would however like to highlight a few of the key takeaways, at least from the perspective of my experience and current situation.

We Are a Value-Add, Not a Cost Center

One of the main precepts that came up again and again was that of providing value to the business. "We are definitely not a cost, we are a value," Tom Randall kept reminding us. Most businesses have a tendency to treat IT as a cost (both as viewed by Accounting but even just as a general feeling), and it's completely in opposition to the way we should function. But beyond simply convincing the rest of the business to see us "properly," it also affects the way we treat ourselves. If we just consider everything as a cost, we'll be driven in decisions and approaches by the simple dollar amount -- the bottom line -- more than we should. When we think of ourselves as providing value -- regardless of the dollar amount -- the way in which we spend those dollars becomes considerably more impactful.

He also had this wonderful nugget to share, regarding the trend towards consumerization of IT and so much hardware: "It was a lot easier when what we did was effing magic." So true.


Interop Las Vegas

During the last six months of my time at Slingshot SEO, I was fortunate enough to get approved for my first work trip. And catch this -- it was to Las Vegas!

Interop logoInterop is the world's largest independent IT conference (put on by UBM Tech), and they have a few different venues each year. The Vegas conference is the primary show, and it is attended by tons of IT pros, CIO/CTOs, and other interested parties.

First, I'll just be honest -- I love traveling by air. I love the airport experience, I love being in the air, and I love getting to stay at a cool hotel. Specifically, I got to stay at the Mandalay Bay resort on the South end of The Strip. For more on the venue and my time as a tourist, check out an upcoming post over at my video and photo site.

The conference has a few different options for attendee passes, including expo-only, main conference passes (Wednesday-Friday), and "All Access" passes, which adds all-day workshops on Monday and Tuesday. I had the latter.

Though there were many one-day workshops to choose from on Monday and Tuesday (and a few half-day 'shops as well), I chose one of the most popular sessions, the only two-day workshop offered: Principles of Effective IT Management.