Microsoft Loves FreeBSD

Microsoft has come along way over the years from considering Linux and Unix a cancer to embracing the competitive operating systems and investing in their success. Microsoft has been personally developing its own branch of FreeBSD that will adequately function on Hyper-V and Azure.

Microsoft is also contributing its development work on the FreeBSD Kernel back to the upstream source which benefits all parties.  The work they have done means, FreeBSD will fully integrate and work with Azure and Hyper-V environments plus, Microsoft will support FreeBSD versions 10.3 and later through Microsoft Support.

When Microsoft was questioned during a Q&A session regarding its involvement in FreeBSD development, they indicated the main reason Microsoft is developing its own version of FreeBSD is to ensure customers have an enterprise service level agreement (SLA) for FreeBSD VM’s running in Azure or Hyper-V.

“In order to ensure our customers have an enterprise SLA for their FreeBSD VMs running in Azure, we took on the work of building, testing, releasing and maintaining the image in order to remove that burden from the Foundation. We will continue to partner closely with the Foundation as we make further investments in FreeBSD on Hyper-V and in Azure,” said Jason Anderson, Principal PM Manager at Microsoft’s Open Source Technology Center.

This is an exciting time where technology competitors can join forces and start working together.   The future for Technology is only going to get brighter, more exciting, and competitive in other ways.  I look forward to seeing what’s next in our evolutionary step forward.

DirecTV Now

If you have not already heard the hype, then pull up your chair and continue reading.  DirecTV is in the process of making a huge change to the way it distributes its content,

Launched in late 2016 DirecTV started streaming its Satellite TV service over the Internet under the brand DirecTV Now.  This streaming service provides over 100 Live channels to your computer, tablet, phone, AppleTV, AmazonFire TV, and more devices soon.   This is going to be a game changer for the industry, open up access to the DirecTV ecosystem by allowing users unable to install satellite dishes, another medium to consume the service by using their broadband service instead.

I subscribed to DirecTV Now which cost me $35.00 per month. The Service provides over 100 channels of TV.

I added HBO for only $5.00 per month which allows me to keep tuned into Game of Thrones.   For someone that was paying DirecTV 183.00 per month so I can watch all my shows and now, I’m paying $40.00 for the HBO added, this is a tremendous saving per month.   DirecTV Now is also offering a FREE APPLE TV for signing up and pre-paying for the service three months in advance.   This is not a bad deal considering the cost of an AppleTV.  For those DieHard NFL Sunday Ticket fans, you can get the NFL Sunday Ticket through the AppleTV with or without a subscription to the DirecTV Now Service.   I would recommend you give this a try.  They have a free trial with no obligation.

Click Here to check out DirecTV Now

Wiping the cobwebs off of my video production skills…

Lights, Camera, Action!  Those were real words I used back in the early to mid 90’s when I was full time into Video Production.  I spent four years dedicated to the art using technology far different, than what’s used today.  We used mostly Commodore’s running a program called Video Toaster, we used Macintosh Computers, not the ones running OSX, but the early day ones that looked funny compared to the fresh looking one’s today.  I would spend countless hours screenwriting, scripting, planning, producing, editing, and releasing videos. Some were on public access TV, and others were used in training videos used by the Sacramento County Government, to even getting the opportunity to work on a soap commercial with a famous Hollywood director.   Video Production back then was a lot of work that required setting up scenes and shots that could take up to 8hours for just 30seconds to 5 minutes of footage.   Recently a very renowned Chef in the Seattle area passed away suddenly, and family/friends were scrambling to make preparations for his funeral/memorial service, they had hired a company to create a photo slide deck with music playing in the background.  They were presented with the work only to go into panic mode.  One of the individuals working on making this even perfect reached out to me recalling my past and fondness for the art.  I had about 12 hours to put something together, and I did.   It was exhausting, challenging since I do not know any of the people I was making the video for and had little context or translation into the photos other than who a few of the people were, etc.  I chose to use iMovie given the time constraints, my fear of trying to re-familiarize myself with Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premier knowing that this free tool built into OSX was available to me.   While its limited in what it can do, they were blown away by what I put together.  I added my transitions and grabbed some footage outside of the photos they provided to dress it up a little more.   Marcus the individual who passed away came from Scotland.  I had several photos from Scotland and his family there to throw in. I saved those for last and added a tribute to his Scottish roots.   I’m a big critic of my work.  I look at it and see so much that needs to be done, they looked at it, and accepted the draft as final and said it was unbelievable.   I guess I should try and be a little less critical of m y work.

 

Please Click Here to watch the video I made for Marcus using Apple’s iMovie

 

For those interested in the Video Toaster, Click Here to be taken to the Video Toaster Wikipedia page.

As always, thank you for checking out my blog.

Regards,
-Will

Installing FreeBSD 11

I completed my first tutorial today.  It was a long process but a fun one.  I’m looking forward to creating other tutorials.  This tutorial focused on Installing FreeBSD 11 under a Hyper-V 2012 R2 environment. You can check it out by Clicking Here

Hover-boards, reality now?

Have you ever watched back to the future II and wished you could ride on that hoverboard Marty McFly was riding on?  Well, your days of waiting may soon be over. I have come across a couple of Hover Board solutions that are just amazing.  Let’s start with the first which is a group of guys in France, that have created a board which can take you up, up and away.  I attached a video below of the solo flight for your review.  They call this new device, “The Flyboard Air.”

Zapata Racing – The Flyboard Air

This device can take you up to 10,000ft off the ground, has speeds more than 90mph, and just looks really cool.   I want a Flyboard.  Technology is getting closer and closer to what we saw on TV in the 80’s and 90’s.  TV inspired a generation of inventors to take the fiction, and turn it into a reality.

You can find more information on The Flyboard Air byClick Here to be taken to their site.

Lexus Slide – Hover Board

Another hover-board worth mentioning is the Lexus Slide. This hoverboard is more in-line with the hover-board of Back to the Future II, and at first, was difficult to believe that you can actually hover above the ground, over water, literally floating through the air. I would say this is an actual hoverboard that hovers under the same concept that gave life to Marty McFly’s board.  However, this technology is not without its limits.  The board has superconductive material onboard that is cooled with liquid nitrogen minus 197 degrees.  This superconductive material rides on top of the extreme north and south magnetic poles.  For this to work, they needed to create two magnetic north and south poles that allow the board to balance in the middle.  Watch the video below to see this in action.

If you would like to learn more about the Lexus Hoverboard, the technology behind it, etc. , You can Click Here to be taken to the Lexus Slide’s Hover Board site.

I’m excited about what the future holds for us all, and I look forward to seeing what is coming.

Respectfully,
-Will

Bye Bye DirecTV Hello Tivo

I have been a DirecTV consumer since 1999 the year I signed up for a leash. You know the leash that goes on the third finger of your left hand.  Moving forward to December of 2016, I came across my latest DirecTV bill, and it was $183.00.  I was very upset and decided to give DirecTV a call.  You see a few months before December, I had communicated with DirecTV I did not want to pay $183.00 per month.  I worked with the gentlemen on the line to have my bill reduced to $100.00 per month.  He assured me this would be my new monthly bill and after I checked the next two billings and verified the new pricing, I was on the road to saving $83.00 per month or $996.00 per year.

So back to my December call.  After being on hold, I spoke to the first rep, explained the situation, he confirmed everything I said, and then informed me he had to transfer me to another department that can fix the error right away, I thanked him and waited while the other department was connected. After connecting, I proceeded to repeat the issue with the new representative who indicated to me that she will fix my problem and is very sorry.  After waiting for about 15 minutes, she came back and told me the only thing she can do was lower my bill to $145.00, not the $100.00 we initially agreed upon a few months back.   Needless to say, I was not in agreement with the new proposal.

She became snobby as if I had no other options.  Needless to say, while I was arguing that DirecTV is in breach of our agreement, I was also browsing PrimeNOW by Amazon.  I had recently visited my friend Donald in Yakima who cut the cord and purchased a device called Tivo which allowed him to obtain several channels over the air for free; it also integrated AmazonTV, Netflix, and Hulu, as well as some other streaming services into their product.  PrimeNOW had a Tivo Bolt in stock, an HDTV Antenna, and  Tivo Mini’s which connect back to the bolt and allow you to use the Tivo’s Tuners and DVR features in other rooms.   I ordered it, confirmed the order, and told the lady on DirecTV that I just ordered alternative TV service and its on its way and would be installed tonight.   I don’t think she believed me at first, but I proceeded to cancel my TV service right there on the spot based on breach of contract.

TIVO Bolt and the world of OTA & Cablecards

 

 

 

 

My Tivo Bolt, Tivo Mini’s, and HDTV Antenna’s arrived.  I had already gone through the house and removed all the DirecTV receivers,   I pulled the Tivo Bolt out of the box, plugged it in, followed the onscreen instructions, and I was well on my way to Free TV.  While the Tivo Bolt was communicating back to Tivo, getting updates, etc.returning back, I proceeded to install the Antenna.  I put the Antenna, on the roof as high as I could,  I then used the cable going to the DirecTV dish to connect by Tivo Bolt to the Anreturningdown to the living room where the Tivo Bolt was located, I was at the setup screen, I plugged the coax cable into the Tivo and proceeded through the onscreen setup.   Within 20 minutes, I had over 50 channels of free TV to watch and record.  I then added my Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu accounts to the Tivo.   I just went from paying 183.00 per month, to paying 0.00 per month for TV.  This is a net savings of $2,196.00 per year in my pocket.

I continued to enjoyed the free TV through March of this year.  I was discussing my Fiber(FIOS) Internet service with a rep at Frontier as I wanted to downgrade from Business back to Consumer as I no longer needed the static IP’s as I moved my equipment that I had at home into a datacenter my friend owned and offered me free space.  So she told me I could switch my Internet to consumer service for 82.99 per month for 75meg down and 75meg up.  I currently had 150/150meg up and down.  She then said by the way, you can get our PrimeHD FiosTV service for 2yrs for 1.00 more per month.  Most would think that would cause someone to say yes right away.  I actually thought about this for 3 days, and then emailed her back and said lets do it.  About 5 days later, Frontier came out, switched me to consumer Fios Internet, and added the Fios TV Service.   Since I had a Tivo, and I didn’t want to pay 10.00 per month for additional receivers, I opted for what they call a cable card.  This card goes into the bottom of my Tivo Bolt, and allows my Tivo Bolt to function on the Frontiers Fios TV service.    Lets look at this another way,  Assuming I had the Fios Internet consumer service and DirecTV prior to this change, I was paying 115.00 for the Fios Internet 150/150 and 183.00 per month for the DirecTV which amounts to $3,576.00 per year for InterNET and TV.   Now I’m paying less than $100.00 per month or just under 1,200.00 per year for InterNET and TV service which equates to a net savings of $2,376.00 per year.  WOW!!!

So in closing, Tivo Bolt is an amazing product.   Tivo bolt does have a subscription service that can be paid, monthly, annually, or onetime.  The Bolt also will play 4k shows and broadcast, it also will work on both Cable or Over The Air (OTA) services.

If your looking at just Over The Air and know you will never purchase Cable Service, you can look at another product Tivo Sells called the Tivo Romio.  This box will only work OTA and does not have the cable card option.  This box initially cost more up front vs the Tivo bolt however, there is no monthly, annual, or lifetime subscription service that needs to be purchased to unlock all the features of the Romio.   I actually purchased this box as well to test it out and see how it works.  There is a cable card slot in the bottom of the box. The adapter the card goes in is missing.  If you have the skills, you can purchase the necessary component to allow for a cable card to function in this box.  I have another cable card installed in my Romio and its working as well.   I’m a geek though and I can tinker with stuff.

Another food for thought, If your looking at a way to save money, don’t mind having 2 devices to access TV content, look at the Tivo Romio for at least all the major broadcast networks ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, and then a TV streaming service such as DirecTV Now (35.00) per month or SlingTV (20.00) per month which will give you many of the channels on cable now days that have hit shows.   I signed up for DirecTV Now during their promotion.  So I have the GO BIG package which is $35.00 per month for over 100 channels.  They also gave me HBO for 1yr for free and after that the monthly fee is only $5.00 per month compared to the 15.00 to 25.00 per month that many cable companies charge.  You also get access to HBO-GO which is HBO’s streaming service if you subscribe to HBO through DirecTV Now.  I’ll talk more about DirecTV now in another blog soon.

As always, thank you for reading my blog..

Respectfully,
William J. Nelson

 

MICROSOFT PROVIDED EXCELLENT KOOL-AID BUT I HAD AN AFFAIR…

I’ve come along way from the days I use to walk the Microsoft Campus.  At first, I could never understand why anyone would want to use non-Microsoft software.  We worked so very hard at Microsoft to make great software for anyone and everyone to use in their day to day lives.  I was drinking the Kool-Aid and feeling pretty good.  I had no idea of what I could do with alternative software.  I knew of Unix & Linux. I knew Microsoft even built their version of Unix as it was sitting on the internal file share \\products\public\products\boneyard\  a place where you can find all Microsoft products.  At least the ones we released at one point or the other.  Even some cool internal products never released that found their way there.  At Microsoft, I was a work-o-holic working 20+ hours a day, seven days a week.  After leaving Microsoft, I was introduced to a whole new world of possibilities completely by accident.  My friend Jeric was running an import/export business down in Southern California, and his operation was in need of streamlining operations.  He was about to spend $80,000.00 on a phone system that would link his Warehouse in IRVINE CA, to his manufacturing plant in the Manila Philippines.  I was thinking woah! What a waste of money.  I took on the challenge of finding him an alternative solution that would address the framework he laid out.

So I started researching communication products that could allow Jeric to leverage his InterNET connection to communicate in real-time with his staff back in Manila.  At first, this was turning out to be a costly venture trying to leverage Microsoft technologies.  I needed several Windows Servers, VPN appliance, Microsoft Licenses, high-speed InterNET connections at both locations, etc.  YIKES!!!  What have I done?
I went to my second favorite tool after TechNet at the time.   YAHOO.  I started searching YAHOO and after extensive searches, drilling through all the other products and servers that cost an arm and a leg to provide something so simple, I came across a communication platform that was based on OpenSource.  Did I say OpenSource?  What’s that?  At Microsoft, we never used the term ClosedSource.  We used the term Proprietary Intellectual Property when referring to our code that was not shared with the general public.  I decided to check this product out.  I ventured to their website and started reading up on it.  The Software was called Asterisk, and it did everything I needed it to do. Also, the information I always needed to drag out of people was publicity available, plus, they did something that was completely backward from my rigorous programming at Microsoft.  They showed me the source code. Wait! They also give you their source code?  I have to install this on an Operating System called Linux.  At the time I remember Steve Balmer saying at our Annual Company Meeting in 2000 that Linux was a Cancer.  I remember tinkering with the Idea of installing Red Hat on my computer at home to see what it was all about.  My loyalty to the company that provided my paycheck and a great opportunity killed that idea.  All these thoughts were going through my head. I needed to follow through on my commitment to Jeric.   I decided to figure this out.   My next tasks were trying to acquire Linux.   I went to the store, and at the time I found Linux at CompUSA but it wasn’t called RedHat, it was Called SUSE 9.0, and it was $99.99.  I bought it and headed back to Jeric’s office where I had an old Pentium III that this software would allegedly run on without any issues.  I ventured through the install process pretty effortlessly and had SUSE Linux running with a GUI.  I was able to access the Internet, download updates, and pretty much do what I was able to do on my WindowsXP Laptop sitting next to me.  I was super excited, to browse the Internet using technologies not made by Microsoft.  This was weird; it was cool, it was different.   I started thinking oh no!  I just had an affair with SUSE.  How could WindowsXP take me back?  I drank the Green Kool-Aid.  My friends and family are going to disown me forever.  I have shamed myself. Microsoft gave me everything, and in a moment of weakness, I feel in love with SUSE LINUX PROFESSIONAL 9.0.  She was a professional alright. She had me wrapped around her box and looking at her features.  After my guilt faded away and I became desensitized to the fact that I was using an operating and software not developed by Microsoft, I was able to get back to the task at hand.  Well, I was in for a surprise.  I downloaded asterisk and learned it doesn’t install as easy as I can install a product on Windows.  There isn’t a setup.exe that guides me through installing the product.  I have to extract and compile the source code to run on my Linux Box.  I started thinking about how bad I was to cheat on Microsoft.  The Grass isn’t always greener on the other side.  Sometimes you should just take care of your lawn, and that starts by watering it.   In other words, should I just develop a Communication Platform myself for Jeric that ran on Windows?  Ok, lets see I need to start with a Vision Doc, then a product spec very quickly moves into a dev spec, and have all this completed in 7 days.  Uh NO! That’s not happening.  I can’t do that; I’m not God, I’m not Bill Gates.  So the venture continued as I compiled Asterisk to run on Linux.  It reminded me of my autoexec.bat and config.sys days of MSDOS.  After a lengthy time of compiling, I was ready to start the application.  According to the instructions, I type from command line service start asterisk and press enter.  I did that, and I received another command prompt. Next, I typed in asterisk -r, and I was brought into a console based application.  Needless to say, there were several commands I learned and continued on my path of Linux, Asterisk, and Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP).   This took forever!!!!! to setup, configure, and get working.  I had to script all the configuration from scratch.   It was a far cry from the GUI interfaces I had become accustomed to at Microsoft.  We wanted to make it easy for our customers to use our products.  My experience into the world of Linux all started by someone needing a PBX.

I can tell you it’s 2017 and as crazy as it sounds, that Pentium III is running SUSE 9.0, Asterisk 1.2, is still in-service today.

This is how my venture into Linux began…

Regards,
-Will