Pound foolish – the tale of two laptops

4+ years ago I purchased two laptops.  One was a completely loaded Dell Inspiron 6000 and the other was a bare bones Insipron 6000.  One was my laptop that I used every day and the other was a simple machine for someone who wanted to “save money”.

Fast forward to today and the loaded computer has the processor, RAM, and performance to still get the job done.  The cheaper laptop is so slow it’s basically un-usable.   It’s too slow to take advantage of any of the current search technologies, and is really only useful for surfing the web.  The video is slow, the hard drive and ram are slow, and the cheap Celeron processor is slow.  All of it adds up to a slow computer.  Sure it “did the job” when it was new, but with today’s software and multimedia intensive applications on the web, its painful to use.

This problem is all to common with customers who try to scrape every last dollar out of a computer configuration.  Don’t forget the old adage – Penny wise but pound foolish.  Time value of money is realized here in two ways.  Sure I spent another $1000 on the faster laptop, BUT I gained another YEAR of use out of it at least AND its been faster all along as well.  So that’s two ways I saved time and money in the long run with the faster computer.

This is why you’ll often find us suggesting a more expensive computer.  Its not about money, but true value.  Ask us to price out the most valuable computer for you so we can get you what you need to be efficient with your time, more profitable, and therefore more successful.  Computers are so cheap these days, spend the extra $500 to get a machine that will last you longer and make you more productive.

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Verizon DSL outbound email port changed

Several of our customers have been affected by this just this week.

Verizon DSL in NJ  is now forcing you to send ALL SMTP outbound mail through their own servers.

Change the port number in the “Advanced” section of your email program from Port 25 to Port 587. Detailed instructions on how to change the port settings on your computer can be found at www.verizon.net/port25.

Zune HD review – setup and initial impressions

I received my Zune HD last night.  Here are some of my initial impressions:

Very nice like ipod-like packaging, and the device feels pretty good.  Not quite as sharp as a MAC, but definitely quality.  I’ll post my impressions as I use it further.  I’m really looking forward to the HD-Radio, wireless sync and integration into my XBOX 360.

Installation & Setup:

Strangely I could not use the radio feature until I synced it with a computer?  So right out the box you have to do the setup.

It amazes me that Microsoft couldn’t do a better job with the drivers and software. I’m running a Vista 64 bit OS on my workstation.

I connected the zune and it could not find drives.   So I installed the ZUNE software from the zune.com site, still when connecting the player to my USB drive I found it is searching for drivers to no avail.  THEN I disconnect the zune, close the zune software, and try again.  This time, the zune drivers install automatically.  Great. so I open the zune software, “no zune connected”.   I disconnect the USB connector for the zune, and it is successfully installed when I plug the USB in again.  THEN the Zune needs to have a software update downloaded and installed before I can use it.

This PAINFUL process took almost an two hours between reboots, updates, installs, drivers… very painful.  MAC’s iPod is far simpler here for sure.

Hopefully my future experience is not the same.   I’ll keep you posted.

Managing Outlook Favorites

Outlook 2007 seems to have a bug that causes favorite folders to disappear frequently.  I’ve been loosing my shared calenders often.  We are still searching for a solid fix, but in the meantime here are the correct instructions to adding favorite folders back.

In outlook “Favorites” and “Favorite Folders” DO NOT mean the same thing.

To add a public folder to your “Favorite Folders” view in the “Mail” view in Outlook:

1. Navigate to the “Folder List” view in Outlook.

2. Navigate to any public folder, right click, then select “Add to Favorites”.

3. Still in the “Folder List” view, go to Public Folders >> Favorites >> [foldername].

4. Right click on the “Favorite” that you just created, select “Add to Favorite Folders”.

5. Your public folder will now appear in the “Favorite Folders” pane in the “Mail” view of Outlook.

Concatenating Multiple Data Fields for the DataTextField Property

Many, many times I’ve had the situation where I want to bind a data-set or data-view to a DropDownList, CheckBoxList, or other ListItem-based control, but I need the display text set through the DataTextField property to use multiple data fields from the result set, and not just the 1 field that it is designed to support.

For example, I might have a user’s name separated into 2 distinct data fields: User_Name_First and User_Name_Last, but I want it displayed in the DropDownMenu as “User_Name_Last, User_Name_First”.

Maybe you can relate.  What are the options?

1.  Modify your database query to merge the fields in the SELECT.  This is likely the most efficient solution, but not always the most practical depending on your environment.

2.  Add a new DataColumn to the result set, enumerate through the results, and set the value of the new DataColumn upon each iteration.  Does the job, but not very efficient or elegant.

How about this… go ahead and add a new DataColumn to the result set, but make it an Expression Column.  Example:

oDataSet.Tables(0).Columns.Add(new DataColumn(“MyNewFieldName”, System.Type.GetType(“System.String”), “CurrentField1 + ‘, ‘ + CurrentField2”)

I finally stumbled upon this solution (as simple as it seems) and it is such a relief!  I feel like a goof since it  never occurred to me until now, but its not the first time, and it certainly won’t be the last.  Many online searches yielded several comments on the first 2 options above, but not much else.  Now that I am on this side of the fence, I find it curious as to why there isn’t much discussion on this technique.  Maybe there is a lot of overhead to it?  Not sure, but certainly seems better than iterating through the result set record-by-record.  Seems like a no-brainer to me.

Mac OS X Snow Leopard upgrade review

This past Saturday I installed Max OS X Snow Leopard, but only after doing my homework! I read a lot of blog posts of pros and cons, most of them on the Apple discussions board. Plenty of scary stories and some praises too, let’s face it though, most people only go to discussions for trouble shooting help not to praise Apple. If your not having troubles you just continue with your day without a thought of what could have gone wrong. Even still there were enough horror stories to make me wait a week and take some pre-update safety measures. First and foremost I backed up all of my important files to external drives. In addition I set my Time Machine (Apple’s Back Up Utility) to do a complete back up, usually I will only back up personal important files, not system, applications etc. because  I have the original discs for those things and I don’t want to bog down my back up disc with things I can just reinstall. Then lastly I made a small 120 GB partition on my main hard drive and duplicated my existing system 10.5.8 using Carbon Copy Cloner, incase I needed to go back to my previous OS.

I ran the installer for Mac OS 10.6 on my mid 2009 iMac 24 inch with 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo processor and all went fine, took a little longer than I expected, about 30 to 45 minutes, but not bad. All my software seems run fine so far, Adobe Web Premium CS3 apps couple CS2 apps, Rosetta Stone, and most importantly Ghost Recon! I am excited to get some Exchange support in Mail, however no shared or public folders show and calendars do not connect. There is a huge performance increase with VPN connections and reading remote directories on Windows and Mac systems.

I have not fully tested everything yet but I will and update this post in the near future as I test the system more.

Oh, and while I was at it I  treated my iPod to the new iPhone OS 3.1, sweet, copy and paste!

The Durability of a iPhone and iPod Touch

My poor iPod fell down the shaft

My poor iPod fell down the shaft

While on vacation in Charleston South Carolina I had a traumatic experience. I was taking the elevator down from the third floor where our room was in the Marriott Courtyard hotel in North Charleston, when the doors opened I walked out, not looking up but checking my email on my iPod Touch. When I did look up I saw I was only on the second floor. Looking back down at my ipod I turned back to the elevator, took one step and was bumped by the closing door. The bump knocked the ipod from my hand and sent it tumbling 2 stories down the elevator shaft. I didn’t realize what had happened at first, then while scanning the floor I noticed the familiar glow of the screen shinning up at me. I was relived to see it was still on. The extremely helpful staff at the hotel was able to retrieve it for me in short order. I never invested in a case, cover or any kind of protection for the ipod, and as it turns out I didn’t need to. Other than a few nicks, a couple of scratched and a bit of a dent the thing is fine and in perfect working order. I think I will reward it with a iPhone 3.1 software upgrade.