Review: Urban Armor Gear Metropolis Case For The iPhone X/XS

Posted in Products with tags on October 19, 2018 by itnerd

I am the proud new owner of an iPhone XS and seeing as it is such an expensive phone I wanted to make sure that it was protected. So I went to my go to company for cases which is Urban Armor Gear. I had their case for the iPhone 7 Plus and that case protected that phone from drops and the like. Thus I had no issue pulling the trigger to get their Metropolis Case for the iPhone X/XS:

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As you can see from the pictures, this case has a flap that covers the screen. I felt that I wanted to have a case that did that as I didn’t want anything to scratch or crack the OLED screen that the iPhone XS comes with. Inside the flap is a felt like surface to ensure that the screen remains as pristine as possible. It also has a slot for a bank card or the like. That’s handy for me when I go out for a bike ride and I want to have a bank card in case  I want to buy something along the way. The flap has a magnetic closure to keep it closed and the magnet is strong enough that it does that really well. It’s also solid which means an impact will not make it to the screen.

The outside is textured so that your phone does not slip out of your hand. On the sides are redundant buttons for the power switch as well as the volume controls. The mute switch is still fully exposed though. Along with the Lightning connector and speakers at the bottom of the iPhone, and the camera lenses at the back. But to me that’s not an issue. Most of the phone is surrounded by a soft “ish” rubber material which is meant to take the shock from an impact. It all is put together very nicely as I could not find any build quality issues. The key thing is that this case meets military drop-test standards [MIL STD 810G 516.6] without adding bulk. Given that the iPhone XS is smaller than the iPhone 7 Plus that it is replacing, that means that I can put my phone in this case in my pocket with ease. That’s a total win as far as I am concerned. Finally, because it isn’t bulky, you can still use Apple Pay and wirelessly charge the phone.

Gripes? None really. I think that this is a great case option for someone who wants to protect their phone and doesn’t want to add a lot of bulk to the phone in question. The Metropolis case from Urban Armor Gear is totally worth looking at. Expect to pay $39.95 USD for one which is a very good price for a case of this type. 

 

 

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OVH Outlines Plans to Liberate the Cloud

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 19, 2018 by itnerd

OVH brought together its entire ecosystem for the sixth annual OVH Summit. Over 3,000 customers, partners and IT professionals attended the opening plenary session led by Octave Klaba, OVH Chairman and Founder, and Michel Paulin, the recently-appointed CEO.

Octave Klaba kicked off the OVH Summit by sharing his vision of a different type of cloud. At the heart of the data revolution, OVH must be the alternative that liberates the cloud and helps its customers and partners to succeed.

And because this data revolution should benefit the many, not the few, OVH takes up the challenge of helping everyone to control their data, innovate and develop new ideas in total freedom through a “smart” cloud. OVH CEO Michel Paulin set out what this means: A Simple cloud, quick and easy to set up. A Multi-local cloud, close to everyone all over the world. An Accessible cloud with fair and predictable pricing. A Reversible cloud, open and compatible. A Transparent cloud that functions responsibly.
A strategy that revolves around four product universes

This vision is reflected in the announcement of four product universes. Each is tailored to different types of OVH customer and the way they like to interact with OVH products and services:

OVHmarket is a digital toolbox for accelerating growth. It meets the needs of entrepreneurs who wish to harness the power of digital technology to develop their business. This universe includes a range of web, telecom and cloud solutions that are quick to implement, simple to use, competitively priced and supported by local OVH partners.

OVHspirit includes all the infrastructures you need to build a cloud platform. Infrastructure, hardware and network enthusiasts who want to build a cloud platform for themselves or their customers can harness the power of a scalable, multi-local cloud infrastructure that is based on cutting-edge technologies designed for specific needs, and offers unbeatable value for money.

OVHstack is a public cloud platform based on open standards. It is aimed at followers of the cloud-ready approach who need to develop scalable applications in the cloud. They get a public cloud that is deployed globally, yet integrates easily into their ecosystem and remains reversible.

OVHenterprise is an alternative cloud that powers successful digital transformation. This universe is aimed at decision-makers who want to achieve their strategic objectives using an alternative cloud provider. They retain control of their data by using a hybrid cloud based on both the public and private clouds offered by OVH, as well as any other clouds available on the market.

These four universes, which will be gradually deployed over the coming months, each have their own separate set of announcements regarding how they meet the changing needs and practices of all customers:


OVHmarket, a digital toolbox for accelerating growth

  • Cloud Web Hosting offers professionals a powerful and secure environment to develop projects like websites, e-commerce platforms and mobile apps. This innovative solution combines the simplicity of managed hosting with the benefits of a dedicated virtual private server, and does not require administrative expertise.
  • The Visibility Pro solution allows Web Hosting customers to manage their company profile and contact details in multiple online directories via a single interface, the OVH Control Panel. It also helps customers boost their visibility in searches, social networks and web browsers, and facilitates interactions with their communities by publishing targeted content and responding to comments.

OVHspirit, everything you need to build a cloud platform

  • OVH customers with Dedicated Servers will see their bandwidth doubled in the coming weeks – without any price increase. Customers with a top speed of 500 Mbp/s will see it increased to 1 Gbp/s at the same price.
  • The company will significantly overhaul its Dedicated Server ranges. The aim is to create a product offering that is more diverse, easier to understand and more in line with professional use, while remaining competitive in price. The dedicated and virtual private servers in these ranges will, as always, benefit from OVH’s modular storage as well as its network and security services: a global proprietary fibre optic network with a capacity of 15 Tbps and 34 points of presence, including anti-DDoS protection at no additional cost. They will be available in 28 OVH data centres spread over four continents, including the US. In addition, OVH remains the only global cloud provider to offer dedicated servers with or without the Patriot Act and CLOUD Act.
  • OVH is updating its premium Dedicated Servers. The HG 2019 servers meet the needs of companies seeking top-range reliability, security and performance while minimising costs. Based on Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processors, Intel® Optane™ DC technologies and 3D NAND Solid State Drives, they are particularly well-suited to intensive data processing. This innovation was made possible thanks to a strong partnership between OVH and Intel to build the next generation of cloud infrastructure services. Plus, before the end of the year, OVH will enhance the range with servers specially designed for artificial intelligence applications.

OVHstack, the public cloud platform based on open standards

  • To meet the expectations of cloud natives and developers who want to evolve towards microservice architectures, OVH is launching Managed Kubernetes in private beta. The promise: a plug-and-play Kubernetes platform managed on the OVH Public Cloud, combining agility, flexibility and performance at a competitive cost.
  • To make it easier to extract value from data, OVH is announcing a wide range of other ready-to-use data infrastructures: OVH Analytics Data Platform, a fully open-source big data analytics solution based on Apache Hadoop and deployable within one hour on the Public Cloud; plus enhancements to the Cloud Databases solutions, which from now on will include MariaDB, MongoDB, MySQL, PostgreSQL and Redis. In conjunction with these data management and processing offers, and to accelerate the adoption of deep learning technologies, OVH is adding a new GPU family to its Public Cloud catalogue: a GPU NVIDIA solution from the TESLA V100 range and the associated software platform, NVIDIA GPU Cloud. Innovation will not stop there this year, with a Cloud Databases solution complemented by high-availability solutions, a turn-key machine learning platform and data processing tools such as Apache Spark as-a-service.
  • OVH is also driving growth in the Asia-Pacific region by introducing Public Cloud solutions, including the Instance and Storage ranges, in the Singapore and Sydney data centres before the end of the year. Three new Public Cloud availability zones will also be launched in France. In addition, the Public Cloud solution will include a virtual router and a Load Balancer (Instance range), as well as a set of tools for monitoring resource usage and performance.

OVHenterprise, an alternative cloud to power successful digital transformation

  • OVH continues to enhance its product offerings in order to support companies seeking to implement a multi-cloud strategy by combining on-premises and cloud infrastructures. Enter OVHcloud Connect, which allows companies to connect to the OVH network in a totally isolated and secure way via numerous points of presence around the world, while offering maximum reliability and flexibility.
  • There is also a significant enhancement to OVH’s Software-Defined Datacentre (SDDC) offer: the integration of VMware’s vSAN technology. In a further step towards hyper-convergence and ultra-high performance, vSAN hosts integrate local storage based on the latest NVMe/SSD technologies.
  • The company continues to strengthen relationships with its technology partners. A particular highlight is the Veeam Enterprise solution, which provides all VMware users, whether or not they are OVH customers, with great flexibility around Veeam licences. They will be able to set up virtual machine backups regardless of their location (on-site, with another cloud provider or with OVH) and retain control over their digital infrastructure.

At its sixth Summit, OVH reaffirms its position as a global player and leader in the European cloud market, driving an alternative and open model. Amid fierce competition, OVH continues to grow and trust in the power of innovation – the engine of tomorrow’s growth.

Review: Bestand 2 in 1 Phone Desktop Tablet Stand & Charging Stand

Posted in Products with tags on October 19, 2018 by itnerd

After I got my brand new iPhone XS I discovered that my Belkin Valet Charge Dock for Apple Watch & iPhone wasn’t compatible with it as it would not charge my iPhone XS. That was weird as it is supposed to be an Apple MFi certified product. So as a result I was forced ditch it and find another stand that would charge my Apple Watch and iPhone at my bedside. I trolled Amazon for a while and based on some user reviews, I chose the Bestand 2 in 1 Phone Desktop Tablet Stand & Charging Stand:

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Here’s what comes in the box:

  • A Micro USB cable
  • The stand which has a Qi compliant wireless charger that’s mated to an aluminium stand that looks classy. The wireless charger has a pair of charging coils so you can charge a phone in portrait or landscape orientation. Or put another way, no matter how you position your phone, it will charge. It has a couple of vents at the back to evacuate heat from the charger.
  • Not pictured are two blocks with adhesive for cable management

You’ll notice that in the front facing picture on the right hand side is a hole. That’s for you to insert an Apple Watch magnetic charger as it doesn’t come with one. The cynical side of me says that they did that to avoid having to build something and pay Apple for a MFi certification. The more generous side of me says that they were trying to futureproof the device in case Apple changes something with the Apple Watch charger. I’ll leave it for you to decide which one is fact. But in any case, it has to be an Apple branded charger as third party ones will not fit. Once you get that sorted. This is what you get:

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Getting things to this state wasn’t hard. But the job isn’t done yet because what you’re left with is a stand that has two USB connectors for it to get power. One for the Apple Watch and one for the phone. I am guessing the use case that Bestand envisioned is that you’re going to have this stand next to a computer. That means you can plug it into the computer’s USB ports or a USB hub. If you want to use this on a night table next to your bed which is what my use case was, I needed one more thing which was a wall charger like this one to power this stand. So after covering up the LED lights that the charger had so that it did not create a glow at night, I was in business.

Now I’ve used this for the last few days and I found that I haven’t had an issue charging my iPhone XS at all. I place it on the charger with my case on it and it charges reasonably quickly. Ditto for my Apple Watch seeing as that is using an Apple charger. The stand looks classy and feels sturdy. All in all it’s a decent bit of kit. I just wish that they packaged it in such a way that allows it to be used in multiple use cases. Such as having a power brick to allow you to plug it into the wall. Besides that, it came with no directions of any sort. Thus a less technically adept user might become frustrated if they can’t figure out how to make this work in whatever use case they have and return it to Amazon or wherever they got it. Thus Bestand would be highly advised to do something about that. Not only that, they should make it a whole lot clearer in terms of what you will need both with their website and in terms of the documentation that should be included in the box.

Speaking of Amazon, I got this from Amazon for $45.99 CDN. But you need to factor in the cost of the Apple Watch charger which is $39 CDN, and the cost of the wall charger if you wish to use it at your bedside which is $49.99 CDN. That gives you a grand total of $134.98 for that use case. Subtract the cost of the wall charger and it a total of $84.99 if you plug it into your computer’s USB ports. If you don’t mind a DIY project, then I have no problem recommending the Bestand 2 in 1 Phone Desktop Tablet Stand & Charging Stand. If you want a finished good that you can plug in and start using with minimal effort, I’d look elsewhere.

 

Hitachi Solutions America Named to Microsoft Inner Circle for 15th Consecutive Year

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 19, 2018 by itnerd

Hitachi Solutions, a leading provider of global industry solutions based on Microsoft Dynamics, has been awarded the prestigious 2018/2019 Inner Circle for Microsoft Dynamics. This is the 15th consecutive year Hitachi Solutions has earned this recognition.

Membership in this elite group is based on sales achievements that rank Hitachi Solutions in the top 1% of the Microsoft global network of partners. Inner Circle members must consistently achieve a high standard of excellence by delivering valuable solutions that help organizations achieve increased success.

The 2018/2019 Inner Circle members were announced at Microsoft Inspire, the annual premier partner event held July 15-19 in Las Vegas. To celebrate this impressive achievement, Hitachi Solutions will join other top honorees at the Inner Circle Summit, to be held Oct. 23, 2018. There, they will have the opportunity to share strategy and network with Microsoft senior leaders and fellow partners.

Hitachi Solutions, Ltd., headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, is a core member of Information & Telecommunication Systems Company of Hitachi Group and a recognized leader in delivering proven business and IT strategies and solutions to companies across many industries. The company provides value-driven services throughout the IT life cycle from systems planning to systems integration, operation and maintenance. Hitachi Solutions delivers products and services of superior value to customers worldwide through key subsidiaries in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, India, China, and Asia Pacific. For more information on Hitachi Solutions, please visit: http://www.hitachi-solutions.com.

Review: OtterBox Statement Series Case for iPhone Xs

Posted in Products with tags on October 19, 2018 by itnerd

OtterBox has made a name for themselves in terms of making cases to protect your phones from drops and bumps for years. When I got my iPhone XS, I was gifted a Statement Series Case and it is a viable option for those who want protection in a bumper style case without adding a lot of bulk as it is very thin.

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The majority of the case is a polycarbonate shell which means that it will take a hit and come back for more. There’s also some rubber that surrounds the bezel to add to that. Also, the back has a leather accent to make the case feel upscale. On the sides are redundant buttons for the power switch as well as the volume controls. The mute switch is still fully exposed though. Along with the Lightning connector and speakers at the bottom of the iPhone, and the camera lenses at the back. But to me that’s not an issue. Since this is a bumper style case, you should really get a screen protector so that your OLED screen doesn’t get scratched or cracked. But other than that, this case should provide protection from drops and bumps. One thing to note on the screen front is the fact that the case extends slightly beyond the screen’s surface. So if it falls screen first, the screen should not take a direct hit.

Gripes? A minor gripe is the fact that some other brands that offer bumper style cases include screen protectors as part of the deal and OtterBox does not with this case. It’s not a deal breaker but I thought I would mention it as that stood out to me. Having said that, this OtterBox is a good option for those who want a bumper style case that will ensure that you get protection from drops without having a bulky phone to carry around. Expect to pay $ 39.95 USD for one.

 

Review: VMware Fusion 11

Posted in Products with tags on October 18, 2018 by itnerd

VMware has released VMware Fusion 11 which is the latest version of their virtualization product for macOS in the last couple of weeks. Last year’s VMware Fusion 10 impressed me so much that I switched to it from Parallels Desktop as my personal choice for virtualization on my Mac. Thus I was very interested to see what VMware brought to the table in version 11.

Let me get straight to the point. If you’re looking for a bunch of new and cool features, you’re not going to see that here. And that’s not a bad thing as from what I can tell, VMware Fusion 11 is meant to enhance what was already a solid platform and bring it in line with other VMware virtualization offerings. And that’s not a bad thing as one strength that VMware Fusion has is that it can pull from their other virtualization offerings to make itself better for Mac users. Plus you can integrate VMware Fusion into a larger VMware environment with ease as it fully supports that use case with ease. Having said that it does have a bunch of improvements which include the following:

  • macOS Mojave compatibility
  • Support for the iMac Pro and MacBook Pro models. Including TouchBar support.
  • Support for Windows 10 1803, Ubuntu 18.04, macOS 10.14, Fedora 28, RHEL 7.5, CentOS 7.5, Debian 9.5, OpenSuse Leap 15.0, FreeBSD 11.2, ESXi 6.7
  • Support for Apple Metal and Microsoft Direct X 10.1
  • Security fixes and architectural changes have been made to mitigate threats like Spectre and Meltdown.
  • Support for virtual NVMe drives on Macs that have those drives.

The last item is particularly interesting as NVMe drives offer performance advantages over regular SATA drives. Thus if your Mac has an NVMe drive in it, this will make your VMs run significantly faster. The second last item was a chief motivator for me to move to VMware Fusion last year as my previous virtualization product didn’t offer those fixes.  Support for Metal is great because that is another way that VMware has increased the performance of the product. And while I welcome support for Direct X 10.1, support for Direct X 11 or 12 would be most welcome for the game players out there. Other than that,   I did notice some improvements from a disk and graphics perspective after I upgraded and started testing my VMs.

One really cool feature is that VMware Fusion 11 includes an Applications Menu which sits in the Mac’s main Menu Bar at the top of the screen for easy access. This menu allows you to quickly browse and select your VMs and also to control individual VMs even when they’re not running. The menu can be used to start, shut down or pause a VM, or to switch viewing modes on the Mac desktop. It’s really handy.

Here’s the bottom line. This is an evolutionary upgrade that will appeal to a variety of users. Whether you are a home user or an enterprise that runs other VMware products, there’s value in upgrading to VMware Fusion 11. It is available starting at $79.99 USD for new customers and $49.99 USD as an upgrade. And don’t forget there is a Pro version which is $159.99 USD for new customers and $119 USD as an upgrade.

 

Fujitsu Announces ScanSnap iX1500

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 18, 2018 by itnerd

Fujitsu Canada has announced, the ScanSnap iX1500, a new flagship colour duplex model, joining the Fujitsu ScanSnap Series of document scanners.

The core appeal of the ScanSnap Series is in its ability to effortlessly convert most office documents into PDF’s, searchable PDF’s, Word and Excel documents, and more. ScanSnap is an essential productivity tool for knowledge workers whether they are scanning to their desktop, a network folder or to a Cloud service.

New 4.3-inch touch screen

iX1500 users can complete end-to-end processes with just “one touch” of the new large, 4.3-inch colour touch screen. Basic tasks such as setup and Wi-Fi configuration, checking scanning statuses and choosing save-to destinations are easy, even for first-time users with the touch screen’s use of simple visual icons.

Up to 30 pre-configured profiles can be made, optimized for each user’s workflow. Default profile icons come preset “out of the box,” representing popular functions such as sharing documents, managing business trip expenses, and sending attachments with email, to name but a few.

A single unit can also be shared among multiple users in an office, and identified by different icon colours, saving information to specific destinations based on individual user preference.

Connect to popular cloud services with ScanSnap Cloud

The iX1500 features ScanSnap Cloud, which connects to your favourite cloud service – without needing a computer or mobile device – to manage your documents, receipts, business cards, and photos. You can create pre-configured shortcuts right on the touch screen to send scans to a specific cloud service, or use ScanSnap Cloud’s intelligent sorting feature to deliver scans to the correct cloud service automatically.  Supported cloud services include Box, Dropbox, Evernote, Expensify, Google Drive, Google Photos, Hubdoc, LedgerDocs, OneDrive, Rocket Matter, SecureDocs, shoeboxed.com and TALK.

Introducing the all-new ScanSnap Home software

Users can now easily manage, edit, and utilize various types of scanned paper with the ScanSnap Home interface. By combining powerful ScanSnap functions into a single application, the software enables you to organize documents, business cards, receipts, and photos.

  • Advanced software for total document management ScanSnap Home offers excellent functions to organize and search through your data using folders, tags, and keywords. You can now identify the digital information you need more quickly and easily than before – freeing up more time on productive tasks and serving your customers.

Additionally, business users will appreciate the ability to utilize the built-in Optical Character Recognition (OCR) functionality, allowing you to create searchable PDFs, or convert your scanned documents into editable Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint files.

  • The iX1500 learns and optimizes performance as you scan The iX1500 automatically names and suggests titles for your scanned files based on content and preset naming conventions. Suggestion accuracy is improved the more titles are repeatedly edited, allowing users to avoid spending time on repetitive corrections. Edits made to company names attributed to scanned business cards, are reflected on successive scans with the same attributed company.

ScanSnap iX1500 key features

  • Automatic detection of page size, colour, blank pages, and page orientation
  • Scans 30 sheets per minute in colour-duplex mode; large 50-page hopper capacity
  • Easily scans long receipts that tend to curl, with the included Receipt Guide
  • Scans unconventional documents with Manual Scan
  • Cleans streaked images without the need for rescanning with Streak Reduction
  • Notifies users of dust that may interfere with scanning via Dust Detection
  • Offers built-in Wi-Fi with Direct Connect Mode to a laptop or mobile device
  • Supports 2.4- and 5-GHz Wi-Fi

The ScanSnap iX1500 is available through authorized resellers and VARs including Amazon, ATS Systems, Staples, and others. Suggested List Price for the ScanSnap iX1500 scanner is $665 CAD.  Reseller prices may vary.  Product is now shipping.