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The SmallBizWindows Printer of the Year 2016: The Epson EcoTank System

2016-02 - PrinterInnovation is not just invention, but sometime a creative new way of looking at things, and of making ordinary everyday items not only more useful, but quite indispensable.

Take printing, for example.

Our SmallBizWindows Printer of the Year 2016 is not actually a printer, but a printing innovation: a printer with integrated ink tanks that last a minimum of one year to about two years, and cost a whole lot less than if you purchase the inks individually over the same period of time.

This is the Epson EcoTank system.


This, friends, is true innovation in this space.

Why so?

Because printing was in a decline due to the fact that printer inks are priced astronomically. So much so that people have actually stopped printing.


Mix in the fact that kids nowadays consume their documents and photographic media online, and you have a disaster in the making.


Printer OEMs didn’t help.

They have been, well, stupid. Their greedy pricing schemes have contributed to people not wanting to create printed documents.


Environmental consciousness has been another dagger into that heart.

Into this breach steps Epson with their affordable, long-term inks, and printers, the EcoTank, our SmallBizWindows Printer(s) of the Year 2016.

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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The SmallBizWindows Most Exciting Current Product (tie): Symphony

2016-08- Most exciting current techOh, Slack.

You’ve just got to love the absolutely incredible word of mouth, and the almost unbelievable amount of ink expended in the touting of that product’s necessity. Or utility.

However, much of that word of mouth has come from the lamestream – sorry about the Palinite word – technology media that seems to cream themselves over every new-NEW! that emanates from Silly Valley.

That said, what Slack has done, is highlight the need for collaborative messaging platforms.

For which I give you, Symphony.

What is Symphony?
sy_250x50_koSymphony is an enterprise-grade, secure, compliant messaging and collaboration platform.

It is engineered for businesses of all sizes, or far-flung teams working within, and external to a business. It is also highly customizable, and meets the complex regulatory, compliance, and data security requirements of that most demanding of sectors, the financial industry. Which, in fact, it was initially developed for.

Why we like it
The following thing about Symphony excite us the most:

  1. It is built to be secure. Symphony has end-to-end encryption for everything. Yes, including searches. That means your stuff remains your stuff. No peeking.
  2. Collaborative messaging. From one-to-one to group collaboration, both internal and external to businesses, collaboration is one of the foundational planks for which Symphony is built
  3. Cloud-based. It is available where you want it. iOS and Android apps are available today. Sadly, if you want Symphony for BlackBerry or Symbian, you’re out of luck. Smile
  4. Partners. Symphony has partnered with several firms in order to bring richer content to their eponymous app. These include Dow Jones, McGraw Hill Financial, Selerity, FlexTrade, Ipreo, GreenKey and InFront.
  5. Bonus: apps. Symphony – the company, has exposed a set of API for developers to build value on Symphony – the product, allowing further customizations. Auto-workflow apps and bots are also there.
  6. David Gurle, Symphony founder and CEO. David’s pedigree in this space is unparalleled. His ideas have influenced the major trends in enterprise communications over the last 15 years. He defined Microsoft’s unified communications strategy with Skype for Business – formerly known as Lync; and as head of collaboration services at Thomson Reuters, he introduced federated communications to the financial services industry. Before founding Perzo/Symphony, he was VP and GM of Skype’s Enterprise Business.

Symphony takes what is available with Slack, and amps it up, making security and compliance cornerstones of the product. That security extends to searches, which is not available with Slack.

It is simple to use, and on-ramping is rather easy. We were able to get far-flung employees and external consultants collaborating virtually instantly.

It is now free, and unlimited to use for individuals and teams, with an easy signup process. There is a business version, for which prices are displayed at Both Symphony for business and enterprise offers include the full range of administrative and compliance features

Additionally, Symphony is very well funded, with a plurality of the world’s largest financial institutions investing in it from the get-go.

For businesses not subject to the whims of the blogorrhea emanating from the Internet, this is a secure collaborative platform that should take care of your needs.

As a result, it is a SmallBizWindows Most Exciting Current Technology Award winner.

I hope to deliver a more detailed review and more on this product over the course of the year. 

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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HPE Cloud Day 2016, Part I


The Cloud. The Cloud!!!

This ‘cloud’ thing is dangerous.

It is dangerous because it is a very subliminal, almost stealthy paradigm shift, that is evolving computing as we currently know it is ways that are so great, yet, largely invisible.

I will almost hazard a conjecture – hard hats, please! Open-mouthed smile – that several CEOs at largish firms are shocked when faced with the knowledge that the cloud is their only way forward.

A couple of weeks ago, I was at Intel Cloud Day in San Francisco, where Intel, who’s CPUs are technically the engines powering the cloud, delivered their latest offerings in that quest.

This time, it is HP, talking about what they are offering to firms looking to make the transition.

Private, Public, or Hybrid?
The smartest firms always offer choice, correctly noting that each firm’s situation is somehow, unique.

ISVs, OEMs, and vendors destined for fails never realize that, exposing their customers and users to untold pain, and financial suffering.

I am glad to see that HP recognizes this.

There are three kinds of cloud that are in general, corporate use: public, private, or hybrid.

Following the hyperlinks will lead to brief descriptions.

HPE products are used in all of them, befitting HPE’s position as the largest server vendor on with side of the Alpha or Beta Quadrants.

Unlike my trepidations with Intel, for HPE I had none. In my dealing with them over the past decade plus, HPE’s Enterprise products team has constantly and continually delivered upgrades and updates to their Proliant offerings, enough to please even the most jaundiced of sysadmins, talk less of higher-ups who only tend to be enamored with figures.

I was not disappointed.

HPE Proliants are ready: The afore-mentioned HPE Proliants are ready for cloud computing, be it private, public, or hybrid.

HPE OneView is Ready: OneView is HPE’s orchestration and management software solution.

It is has been readied for the cloud, and works with most 3rd-party management schemes, especially our favorite, Microsoft Systems Center.

HPE is committed to Windows Server: Though I hear a lot about Linux, Windows Server is one of the MFNs (most-favored nations, or server OSs) for both HP Proliant, and HP’s cloud efforts.

HPE is committed to OpenStack: They are. If you are interested in, or vested in OpenStack, contact HPE; they will tell you more. I am not so…

HPE is virtualization-hypervisor-agnostic: HPE’s cloud efforts, I am informed, work very well with Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware, and KVM. This is very good, as it allows you to choose your poison, then bring it to the dance.

In Part II, I will report on HP’s HyperConverged status, and follow that with Part III, which will be about HPE’s Composable architecture.


© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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The SmallBizWindows Networking Product of the Year: the Aruba Networks Instant 325

2016-19 - NETWORKING -ZFor a second, the excellent HPE 5406 Switch seemed like it was going to be a repeat winner, then came the Aruba Networks*

Following a recommendation from HPE’s Kenn D., I obtained an Aruba Instant 325 device for testing and reviewing.

Just after HPE closed the deal for Aruba Networks, I had the opportunity to listen to Dominic Orr, CEO of Aruba at HP Discover Las Vegas 2015. This very animated man informed me that Aruba dogfooded it: everyone at Aruba was wireless.

I like companies that dogfood it!

That, including my respect for Kenn’s counsel, gave me the confidence to use, and depend on Aruba’s gear.

I have not been disappointed.

The Instant 325 is wicked-fast, easy to deploy and use, idiot-proof in managing, adjusting the device needed.

We have had no issues with it.

Consequently, it is the SmallBizWindows Networking product of the Year 2016

  • And NO! I won’t be writing the full, Rube Goldberg-ish trade name that HPE insists on calling Aruba Networks, and their products!

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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Intel Cloud Day 2016 Panel: Driving Optimized Cloud Solutions for the Next 10,000 Clouds

I had the opportunity to sit in a session at Intel Cloud Day 2016 called Driving Optimized Cloud Solutions for the Next 10,000 Clouds.

The panel was made up of representatives from Cisco, CoreOS, Dell, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Mirantis, and Supermicro.

It was quite illuminating.

No only are several players approaching the tasks of enabling cloud infrastructures, they are doing it from several angles.

From OpenStack (Mirantis), to secure, containerized operating systems (CoreOS), to software-defined networking (Cisco) to commodity servers used as the basis for appliances (Supermicro) to vertically-integrated hardware OEMS – Dell and HP.

I loved all the answers to the moderators questions, which were fair, and gave everyone an opportunity to talk.

While everyone tried to stretch out the deliverance of their wares for the future cloud, Dell’s Jim Ganthier shone. He delivered answers that were not only relevant, but showed a direct nexus to a Dell offering just for that specific answer.

I was able to use his products as a baseline for a study being undertaken at Logikworx which seeks to determine what steps the average SMB business owner should take on their journey to cloudifying their operations.

He definitely put Dell into the conversation.

SDI, coupled with DevOps will rule the datacenter of the future.

Solutions to be delivered must be self-serviceable, easily implemented, and be extremely agile, enabling dynamic configurational change.

This requirement should spread across your devs, software, and hardware.

Nothing less will do. Any vendor that cannot deliver will be a hindrance to you business.

Avoid them.

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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The SmallBizWindows Exciting Future Products 2016: Windows Server 2016 Windows 10 ‘Redstone’, & HPE Composable

These three items stand out as the most exciting products or tech we are looking forward to: HPE’s ‘Composable Architecture’, Microsoft Windows 10 Anniversary Update, and Windows Server 2016.


HPE Composable Architecture
2016-31 - fUTURE EXCITING- ZImagine hyperconverged on steroids, uppers AND crack!

The idea of composable architecture is the ability to install a rack, or the current max of a 5-pack of racks, of composable hyperconverged assets.

‘Composable’ is HPE’s term for highly customizable products, that can be dynamically reconfigured ad hoc, letting administrative composers(?) create required hardware combos that they can stand up almost instantaneously.

If HPE can get this done correctly, quickly, and cost-efficiently, they will totally redefine the datacenter. Leastways, for when high speed reconfigurations are concerned.

Microsoft Windows 10 Anniversary Update
2016-31 - fUTURE EXCITING- ZBased on what I am see in in the Redstone Insider Fast builds, what I am reading in the knowledgeable industry rags, glossies, and websites, and most especially, based on what Deep PacNorWester – my codename for the conglomeration of Microserfs that make up my valued ‘inside people’ – are telling me, this update to Windows 10 will be very impressive.

Microsoft is slowly, surely, righting all the wrongs.

Importantly, Microsoft Edge is starting to feel like a worthy improvement to not just Internet Explorer, but to all of the other browsers out there.

Sadly, no word on whether Windows 10 Storage Spaces will offer deduplication capabilities.

Oh, and containers!

Microsoft Windows Server 2016
2016-31 - fUTURE EXCITING- ZIf you know me well, you know that I have much respect and affection for the Server and Tools Bu at Microsoft.

They have never failed me, neither have they dropped the ball on delivering a smooth and very reliable product.

Well, they are continuing on that tract with Windows Server 2016.

Formerly codenamed Windows Server.Next – yes, even Mighty Microsoft can have brain farts, especially when it comes to product nomenclature! – Server 2016, as is the Microsoft norm, will be filled with enough goodness to make any sysadmin think they have died and gone directly to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory!

  • Windows Server Nano? Check.
  • Windows Server Containers? Check.
  • Windows Subsystem for Linux? Check. <- I don’t give a shift about this, but hell.
  • Beefed up Storage Pools? Check.
  • More, more more.

For which you can see why.

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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The SmallBizWindows Most Exciting Current Product (tie): HyperConverged Infrastructure

We have a tie for Most Exciting Current Product: one is a product category, the other is an actual shipping product.

2016-08- Most exciting current techThe SmallBizWindows Most Exciting Current Product or Technology (tie) : HyperConverged Infrastructure

Hyperconverged or Hyper-Converged, is a new product category that is sweeping the datacenter by storm, especially in this past year.

Hyperconverged – my preferred spelling Smile – is the current iteration of a wave started back in 2009 by then-HP*, and dubbed Converged Infrastructure Architecture.

Hyperconverged takes that vision further, melding virtualization into what was formerly a troika of hardware components: compute, storage, and networking.

clip_image002I may be wrong, but I believe the first firm to go commercial with hyperconverged products was Nutanix. In fact, I am told, it was that distributed file system that helped Nutanix gain initial traction. (Feel free to correct me. Thank you.)

This sector is smokin’ hot right now, I decided to ask Keith Townsend**, (@CTOAdvisor) a few questions on hyperconverged infrastructure:

John Obeto: is Hyperconverged really a thing for virtualization, or is it a new case of buzzword bingo?

Keith Townsend: Hyper-converged is a serious option for pure virtual environments. This is especially the case for applications that are virtualization friendly such as VDI.

JO: Who benefits most in the short term? Users or vendors?

KT: Both users and HCI vendors can benefit. While most HCI solutions have a cost premium. SMB's can reduce overall operational expenses.

JO: Who is poised to be the single biggest loser?

KT: Legacy storage providers that sold into the SMB ROBO space may find that HCI cannibalizes those opportunities.

Thanks, Keith.

However, this space is rapidly heating up, as the bigs get into it.

I was at HPE’s sprawling Houston campus for HPE Tech Day, and HP seems to have taken hyperconverged even further with their ‘composable’ architecture. I shall have more on that in a later post.

*HP’s enterprise division is now a standalone company, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, or HPE.

**Keith Townsend is an Enterprise Architect and founder of with over 18 years experience, including several with a "Big 4"global consultancy as a management consultant. He has a Bachelors and a Masters Degree from DePaul University, and currently works for a large BioPharma just north of Chicago.


  • HCI: HyperConverged Infrastructure
  • ROBO: Remote office/Branch Office
  • SMB: Here, as in Small & Medium-sized Business
  • VDI: Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

Nutanix is

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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Off to HPE Hyper-Converged and Composable Infrastructure Blogger Tech Day

I am off to the heart of Texas for the HPE Hyper-Converged and Composable Infrastructure Blogger Tech Day which takes place on April 13.

As usual, this should be chock full of actionable information, and I am hoping it will also be where HPE’s long-talked-about new hyperconverged product will be unveiled.

I understand that some information may be under NDA, so lips will be sealed for them. However, most of the event will be public, and I will make sure to let y’all know what’s going on.

Some preliminary information is here, and please follow the hashtag #HPETechDay on Twitter.

Let’s do this!

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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I was at Intel Cloud Day 2016

I was at Intel Cloud Day which took place at the end of last month in San Francisco.

I believe this day was quite necessary.

The Cloud
Even if you strip apart all of the ‘cloud-washing’ going on, the fact remains that the cloud is here, now, and rather inevitable for all but the most secure, or the most mundane of tasks.

Right now, and except for extreme instances, Intel has a dominance not seen since the heydays of IBM’s mainframe hegemony. Most clouds are x86-based, and in them, Intel rules supreme. Intel’s Xeon CPUs are the class of cloud computing, without a doubt.

Though Intel leads in having its chips – both central processing units (CPUs) and chipsets – running an impressive majority of datacenters, that same dominance leads profit-envious firms to want to participate.

Witness, ARM.

While the thought of ARM chips running server-class workloads seems fanciful today, the truth remains that ARM might make a breakthrough one of these days that allows ARM to be the primary CPU vendor for datacenters, with Intel kicked out of that henhouse.

However, ARM has been nibbling on the heels of Intel. It is emboldened by the dominance it enjoys in the mobile space, and is making noises about scaling up into webscale-class CPUs.

Thankfully, Intel does not seem to be suffering from what that great sage of SMB computing, John Obeto II, calls ‘The Myopia of the Dominant Incumbency’.

Intel has been improving the products called out above, and also the peripheral components that help them. Intel’s Xeon chips have continually improved every year, largely following “Moore’s Law”.

What I want to see, is how Intel will be making clouds more accessible to VARs and enterprises for whatever solutions we aim to implement for our clients.

Intel Cloud Day, NASDAQ Entrepreneurial Center, San Francisco, California
The keynote is headlined by Diane Bryant, Senior Vice President & General Manager of the Data Center Group, Intel

Diane immediately lays down a fact: “The cloud has the potential to be more impactful than the PC”.

This is true. In today’s primarily mobile world, most, if not all data lives in a cloud somewhere. These days, just about everything we do is somehow connected to the web. If you live a mobile life, assume that almost 100% of your life resides outside the physical parameters of your mobile device.

I’m sure it comes as a surprise to non-technical folks that these apps are not powered by some kind of computer magic, or pixie dust. The sysadmins toiling thanklessly in datacenters around the world could use some luv and appreciation.

She follows on by reminding us that clouds now tend to be spread across private, public, hybrid, and across multiple cloud providers.

Even for me as a consumer of Microsoft assets, I find myself using other apps, services and whatnots from other providers on a daily basis. That is a fact of daily life today.

"Intel Cloud for All"
Intel’s proposition is to be “there”, in every conversation when clouds, private, public, and hybrid are mentioned.

In other words, they want to be the enabler of the next 10,000 clouds.

To reach there, they have identified three objectives:

    1. Investments in the Cloud: they are going to have to standardize software defined infrastructures, using improvements there to drive efficiency and mitigate deployment woes.
    2. Optimize the Cloud: look at the cloud today. The needlessly varied cloud infrastructures make the term ‘Balkanization’ seem optimistic. Structure is needed in order to optimize cloud across various workloads, not the other way around.
    3. Align the industry to accelerate cloud deployments. Their own words, not mine. For which I wish them luck. It is a great ideal. I just don’t see how it could be pulled off. I hope I am proven wrong.

In order to do that, they have assembled an impressive list of global consumers of Intel's cloud offerings across several markets and verticals to help bring the goal to fruition.


New Intel #Xeon, the E5-V4


To help make these plans come to life, Intel is seeding computing with two new products: the Intel Xeon E5-2600 V4 CPU series, and a datacenter-class (?) SSD family, the P3520/3320, and D3700/3600 SSDs.

The Intel Xeon E5-2600 V4
As we all know, Intel Xeons are the dedicated server parts Intel produces.

For this new rev, Intel has raised performance even higher. Compared to the previous gen CPUs, the E5-V4 series now contain up to 22 processing cores per CPU. Coupled with virtualization, this new chips are able to deliver up to a 40% increase in performance, while some security workloads can see a 70% performance gain.

While impressive, the star of these new CPUs seem to be the Intel Resource Director technology.

The images below show a simplified view of how Intel Resource Director works.


Intel Resource Director tech seems to have completely won over @NASDAQ, w/ potential for 4x datacenter efficiency



I will need ,ore information and more data on Intel Resource Director before I crown it. However, it is a very important development. And one that, no doubt, would be very welcome to datacenter architects and managers.

The new PCIe-based SSDs are optimized for high performance, with very low latency. Just right for datacenters and the cloud, I am told.Evidently, they are faster than SATA. Until Howard Marks (@DeepStorageNet) says so, a grain of salt for me for now.

Several partner case studies are trotted out.

The case study that made the most profound impact on me from was the one by Dr. Joe Gray from the Knight Cancer Institute at the Oregon Health & Science University where they are trying to create drugs targeted ad hoc to each individual, since, as they put it, each cancer, is microscopically different because of the minute mutations from victim to victim.

They are harnessing open source to do this.

In a nutshell, they basically have to create precision medicines, since every cancer is technically unique, based on the victim's distinct DNA

As profound, but in a very scary way, was the statement below:

Healthcare data is so informative and rich that previously anonymized patient PII can be easily de-anonymized

My takeaway: security has to be an intrinsic part of your infrastructure plans, datacenter or not!


One of the greatest barriers to nirvana in the cloud is the lack of standardization, across training, expertise, standards, certifications, and more.

Coincidentally, it was something I had some thought on shortly before this event. Please follow the link above to read the article on

In Summary…
Intel is all in.

I came away from Intel Cloud Day 2016 with the realization that Intel understands the stakes involved here.

It just cannot produce faster, more powerful and/or more efficient CPUs, chipsets, and other components, then let the chips – no pun – fall wherever they may.

It has to lead several parties into the creation of a cohesive ecosystem that delivers coherent, quantifiable solutions that help drive further cloud adoption.

My only issue with all this is the reliance on OpenStack to deliver.

Personally, I have issues with a Hydra-headed organization composed of very vocal extremists who wage their little jihads as they try to steer their most-favored into being the standards. This is where I need a “Show Me”. (See the TV series “Fringe for deciphering that term.)

Show me, OpenStack.

Apart from that, Intel is on to ‘A Good Thing’!

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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The SmallBizWindows Scanner of the Year 2016: The Epson WorkForce WF-7610 All-In-One

2016-08 - ScannerWide-format devices are hard to come by.

Affordable wide-format devices are just about impossible to find.


The Epson WorkForce WF-7610 is one really cool printer.

It is a large-format all-in-one, meaning that it not only prints on up to 11” x 17” paper, it has a scanning bed that does the same as well.

Ii use it for diagramming the work I do, and it is great.

My Princess has adorned my entire office with her masterpieces, some created freehand, then copied, or others created from her HP Sprout computer.

I could go on, but read this exchange.

My buddy Justin had a requirement.

I replied thusly:

Epson turned out to be what he wanted.

Remember also, that this is a sibling to our multi-year Printer of the Year Award winner, the Epson WordForce WF-5690. I has all of the great things we like about the WF-5690 plus the added benefit of being a large-format device.

Consequently, the Epson WorkForce WF-7610 is the SmallBizWindows Scanner of the Year.

2016-08 - Scanner3

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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Intel Cloud Day, San Francisco.

I am in lovely San Francisco for Intel Cloud Day.


As the primary  - OK, incredibly dominant – developer of the CPUs used in cloud datacenters globally, Intel has to have ears to the ground trying to decipher what trends are forthcoming, and what it needs to do in order to both facilitate those trends, and equally importantly, use that knowledge to stay relevant.

Because ARM.

It is very good to see Intel knows this, and has created this event.

I go now to dinner with a subsection of the delegates to this event.

I shall keep you posted.

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The SmallBizWindows Workstation of the Year 2016: HP ZBook 15

2016-16 - WKSTN- ZThis year, we have only tested the low-end HP ZWorkstations and HP mobile workstations.

After having tested past iterations of the high-end HP Z-8xx series of workstations, I must confess: no matter how pleased I am with the z440, the ZBook wins this.

In mobile workstations, HP is without peer.

Their workstations – both mobile and desktop/deskside – are the class of that space, with every new performance innovation not only included, but seamlessly integrated.

You cannot beat them.

When both the performance of a workstation and the mobility of a laptop are required, you cannot do better than the HP ZBook line of workstations, and in this instance, the HP ZBook 15 is our SmallBizWindows Workstation of the Year winner.

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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The SmallBizWindows Consumer Product of the Year: The Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3500 3D Projector

2016-03 - consumerSelecting a Consumer Product of the Year is always easy: what [consumer] product had the greatest positive impact on me, my kids, our extended family, and our staff.

Additional props are given if that joy is replicated by others when the product is purchased on our recommendation.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the SmallBizWindows Consumer Product of the Year 2016 Award winner is the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3500 3D Projector.

It makes watching regular HD movies amazing. 3D movies become really immersive. Playing NBA 2K16 while viewing through the projector’s 125” screen is something else.

It just rocks.

Of all the devices here, this is the one device they all say they cannot do without.

And they aren’t alone: my brother and two in-laws have replicated the setup for their kids’ gaming rooms to similar success.

We definitely like the projector.

The Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3500 3D Projector is the SmallBizWindows Consumer Product of the Year.

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Apple announces a fight with Microsoft or How to hide the fact that your premier product isn’t moving as fast

Apple announced some new devices today, and, damn, how more underwhelming could Apple and the devices be?

As scripted, the know-nothings in the lamestream media are running with their screenplays describing the death of PCs. Every one of them has written an article cribbed from the Apple PR.

It is shameful.

Shameful, because it hides the fundamental malaise hitting Apple.

As currently run, Apple is the world’s most profitable company because of one singular device, and its variants, the iPhone. Apple is the world’s most valuable company because of the sales, and growth prospects of one singular device and its variants, the iPhone.

And boy, has iPhone produced.

That, is not in dispute.

However, a few clouds are looming.

iPhone sales are slowing
While the growth rate, market share, mindshare, brand loyalty, and profits – oooh, those sweet, sweet profits! – are still ultra-impressive, the fact remains that sales are slowing.

iPad sales have tanked
Unlike Microsoft with Windows Mobile/Windows Phone/Windows 10 Mobile/whatever-they’re-calling-it-today, iOS, and by proxy, iPad, cannot use the “app gap´ excuse. Yet, sales have tanked.

One could be unkind, and intimate, anecdotally, of course, that everyone who wants a netbook replacement, living room tablet, and or large-screen camera – don’t ask! – already has one.

Now that they need to get work done, they need Windows tablets. Because, that is where work is done!

Don’t get me wrong: iPad is a great device. However, a PC it will never be.

New Apple customers don’t want expensive devices as new Apple markets can barely afford them

The iPhone’s insane and profitable success doesn’t seem to be translating to less wealthy countries.

Sales are stalled, or have an initial burst out of the gate, only to settle to ho-hum – for Apple – sales. India, China, and sub-Saharan Africa come to mind…

Financial analysts are starting to notice. Some muttering, and issuing ‘neutral’ ratings for Apple, the stock. One of them, IIRC, even went rogue, placing a downgrade on the stock!

Something has to be done.

So, they did.

The battle with the FBI deflects the news
In American politics, the rule-of-thumb is, whenever there is a domestic issue that has the potential to derail an administration, manufacturing a foreign policy event always serves to break the attention of the American people from their angst, and focus their attention abroad, with great patriotic, and nationalistic fervor.

An opportunistic foreign event is even better.

For Apple, talk about an opportunistic, externality: The Curious Case of the San Bernardino Terrorist’s Locked iPhone”.

I mean, seriously!

Everyone and man + dog is engrossed with The New Civil Libertarian, Timothy Donald Cook.

What dying iPad sales?

What slowing iPhone sales?

The attack on Microsoft deflects the bad news
Today, another prong of the deflection came in: the new iPad Pro 9.7”.

This, is the PC-killer we’ve all been waiting for.

I’m serious.

According to Apple, 600 million PC users are completely upset with Windows computers, and the iPad Pro 9.7” is the device those disgruntled PC users have been waiting for.

In addition to this wonderfully magical device, Apple also introduced their equally magical iPhone SE which, in the words of my friend Enrico Signoretti, is…let’s hear it in his own words:

He wasn’t fooled!

The day when Apple became a purveyor of commodity devices
If you peel away the nonsense from all the bullshittery Apple Execs tossed at their proletariat today, you get to the pearl in that turdfest: Apple now sells deeply discounted stuff, from the new iPad to the smaller iPhone.

Maybe it would reboot sales growth.

In any case, no one’s talking about slowing iPhone sales growth today.

Tim Cook is a genius!

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Yes. Stephen Elop was right on Nokia Being a “Burning Platform”

Yesterday, a Twitterer, Carmen Crincoli (@carmencrincoli) posted the following on Nokia, Lumia, and Stephen Elop.



I wanted to weigh in, but went to bed early. Because paper stackin’.

Short reply is/was: “You’re 100% correct, right, and all that, Double-C.”

You get his point, right?

For those who don’t, let’s go.

I will not go over the entire memo* here, but the salient points are:

i) Symbian wasn’t the way. Remember Symbian? Neither do I. I remember whenever I spoke about mobiles back in the day, that an in-law loved his Nokia smartphones. I couldn’t explain enough to him that the lack of traction for those devices meant that they were niche. Very niche. I mean, Palm and the Palm OS were niche to Mighty Windows Mobile in those days!

ii) Maemo wasn’t the way, either. When the scales fell from the corporate Nokia eyes in the face of the complete and total evaporation of sales of their N-series of ‘smartphones’, they decided to create a new OS. As was the flava-o’-the- day, Nokia decided to create their own mobile Linux distro, initially called Maemo. And, as any sane person would expect, this kneejerk failed. Spectacularly too. It inexplicably lives on, a sad fantasy of its developers for world domination, rejected by just about all sane humans.

iii) The platform – Nokia – was burning. This is what Elop inherited upon becoming Nokia CEO. Immediately he realized that Nokia’s dominance in ‘feature phones’, those cheapo low end devices, had blinded executive management to trends, and that despite their dominance** in that field, they had been surpassed, and well on the way to ruin if they adhered to their then-roadmap. They had to do something new.

iv) Android was definitely NOT the way. Aaah, Android. The initial power in Android was Motorola. Motorola had a sweetheart deal with Verizon Wireless, whereby they branded the phones using the Android operating system as Droid phones. Moto shot to the top of the heap, and, remind me, where is Motorola today? Samsung took over, creating ever aspirational devices up until where it is today: the big dog in Android, taking about 80% of the profits available to device OEMs from their Android devices. Sounds good, right? However, Elop correctly separated the chaff from the true numbers, and realized a) there isn’t much, or any space, for great differentiation in Android devices, and b) while Samsung’s 80% Android profit share number looked good, it was 80% of the approximately 18% of the profits of the TOTAL GLOBAL smartphone market, with Apple’s iOS raking in 80% of the entire market! This, despite the fact that Apple’s global device market share number was about anecdotally the inverse of the profit number! Going Android, would be a me-too, and not deliver historical Nokia device margins, and relegate them to being a Google frontend.

v) The OS selection of Windows Phone. Of all the OSs available, Microsoft’s nascent Windows Phone was the best choice. It would allow Nokia to innovate, bring in co-dev and co-marketing funds, and based on the limited selection, help Nokia do great things.

vi) Why it – the Nokia OS and Windows Phone combo – failed. Lots of ink has been expended on this topic. All I will add to it are sadly pedestrian design, completely stupid branding – Lumia, what?, inept marketing, elephantine gestational periods between device releases or updates, limited telco coverage, zero sales motivation at mobile telcos, etc., etc.

That, in a nutshell, was Elop’s Burning Platform.

He called it correctly.

However, Nokia was d-u-n, done!

It was too late to save it.

Oh, Nokia is again flirting with Android.

Meaning that the lessons of the implosion of Motorola were lost on folks is Espoo.

*You can search for, and read the entire Stephen Elop “Nokia Burning Platform” memo online.

**Nokia’s fall from grace is yet another textbook example of what that great man, John Obeto II, calls ”The Myopia of the Dominant Incumbency”.

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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The SmallBizWindows Collaboration Product of the Year: Logitech ConferenceCam Connect

2016-11 - CollabThe SmallBizWindows Collaboration Product of the Year is the Logitech ConferenceCam Connect.

As reviewed here, the ConferenceCam Connect is Logitech’s portable iteration of their ConferenceCam line of videoconferencing products. It decouples the device from stationary placement, and allows users to use it while mobile, on the road, or from several conference rooms within the same location.

As reviewed here, the ConferenceCam Connect is light, powerful, has a backup battery, and works with all relevant videoconferencing software and services.logitech-connect

We were impressed enough that it scored the SmallBizWindows Absolute Best Award.

Our review is here, and the Logitech ConferenceCam Connect product page is here.42016-11 - Collab

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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The SmallBizWindows Storage & Storage Backup Product of the Year: HP RDX

2016-27 - storage2016-28 -STORAGE BACKUP - Z

For the second year in a row, the HP RDX backup solution is the SmallBizWindows Storage Backup Product of the Year. It is also our Storage Product of the Year.

All the things we like about it haven’t changed.Windows-Live-Writer-The-SmallBizWindows_11FB7-

From our 2015 Award post:

…the utility of RDX is apparent from the instant you think about it.

Fully integrated with Windows Server, and with cartridges that range from 320 GB to 2TB in capacity, RDX brings fast USB 3.0 hard drive speeds to SMB server backups, with rates approaching 360 GB per hour.4

…RDX comes in portable, shock-proof, and static-proof cartridges that are durable, yet interchangeable with all HP RDX docking stations, future-proofing your investment in the platform.

A free HP CDP application is included in the package. This is a full-featured program, allowing for scheduling backup tasks while running automatically in the background. RDX is also smart, disallowing the removal of cartridges whilst backups are scheduled, or running.


HP RDX is available in internal or external models. A rack mount model is also available.

This, without a doubt, is the premiere SMB backup and CDP solution on the market today. That is why it also a winner of the SmallBizWindows Absolute Best Award.

All that, for a random-access backup solution.

Oh, and prices have eased somewhat as well!

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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The SmallBizWindows Tablet of The Year: Microsoft Surface Pro 4

2016-18 - TABLET -ZThe initial winner in tablets was Apple, with the iPad.

The beauty of that design win for Apple was that it opened the eyes of humans to the possibilities that tablets could be. Hundreds of thousands of apps were written for the iPad, and people were able to achieve useful things with them

iPad, however, only whetted people’s appetites: they wanted to do more. More than just Twittering and Facebooking.

They wanted to be useful.

Sadly, iPad couldn’t do it for them.

Into the breach stepped Microsoft with the Surface Pro.en-INTL-PDP0-Surface-Pro4-SU3-00001-P1

Now in the fourth iteration, Surface pro bombed out of the gate, as the market wasn’t ready for it, the device not having been adequately explained or positioned. Don’t get me started on the muddled marketing either! Prancing, infuriatingly young Millennials snap-snapping the kickstand on Surface devices, my ass!

Microsoft learned from their failures, increased the size – to 12.3” – and resolution – to 2736 x 1824 – of the display, made it lighter, and voilà, the SmallBizWindows Tablet of the Year Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is born.

In short order, Microsoft had conquered the space for professional and/or business tablets.en-INTL-PDP0-Surface-Pro4-SU3-00001-P4

Surface Pro 4 is your ONLY choice when it comes to situations where a tablet will do.

Running Windows, and available with up to 1TB of storage to go with up to Intel Core i7 CPUs, this tablet is built for performance.

And it does perform. Pricey, but really screams.

I like it.

As reviewed last year, this is the best tablet you can buy.

It has earned the SmallBizWindows Tablet of the Year Award.

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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The SmallBizWindows Consumer Tablet of the Year: Microsoft Surface 3

2016-17 - TABLET CONSUMER -ZEven though I don’t use one as my daily driver, the Microsoft Surface 3 is the best consumer tablet you can buy right now.

It is light, compact enough to fit into every backpack, and comes with an impressively bright and responsive 1080p HD display.

Inking is included (pen is cost extra), and it can be had with up to 4 GB of RAM and 128 GB of onboard storage. All the Wi-Fi acronyms are included.

Best of all, it runs Windows.

en-INTL-PDP0-Themis-64GB-7G5-00001-P3For the low entry price of $499 – without keyboard – the Surface 3 beats any other tablet out there for usability, as it is fully compatible with all Microsoft Windows applications, thereby protecting your investment on the Windows platform.

My only beef with it is the fact that it does not come with priced with the keyboard at $499. Still, for what you get, this is a fantastic deal. And product.en-INTL-PDP0-Themis-64GB-7G5-00001-P6

It is the recipient of the SmallBizWindows Consumer Tablet of the Year Award.

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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The SmallBizWindows Utility of the Year (Tie): MyEcho

For the SmallBizWindows Utility of the Year 2016, we have a two-way tie.

The two utilities listed here were immediately useful, a requirement for this award, and delivered excellent value.

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I stumbled upon it by accident: Microsoft evangelist and all round knowledgeable guy Scott Hanselman had just posted this tweet


Intrigued, I asked a further question about usability. Scott replied to my question, and right there I made the decision to purchase the app.

MyEcho is an iOS app, so it is lightweight, controls and pairing with you PC are idiot-proof, and best of all, it works.

Boy, does it work!

I hurt my shoulder several months ago, and my dexterity with the arm attached to it is somewhat diminished, despite months of physiotherapy, which, I seem to only perform while I'm at the clinic/gym.

Anyways, this app has been a true godsend in the couple of weeks I have been using it.

In fact, it has been so useful, I have uninstalled the memory-shredding desktop application knows as Dragon Dictate from my desktops and lappers, and the iOS app from my iPad.

For the low price of just $1.99, you cannot do better.

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