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April 24th, 2014

Microsoft ended official support for Windows XP recently—on April 8, 2014—but no one can claim surprise. And they didn’t need to convince the tech-savvy, who have been moving to Windows 7 and 8 (and, in small numbers, to Linux and Macs, like our potent MacBook Pro rental) for the last few years. It’s true that, as of March 2014, XP was the world’s second most popular OS, holding about 28 percent share. But the pace of upgrading is accelerating, a pretty predictable result when you really do get to the end of the road.

Microsoft has been “pleading with customers” to upgrade, observes Spencer Ferguson of Wasatch IT, who was on Microsoft’s licensing and anti-piracy teams back in the day. It might look and sound like a sales pitch for buying the company’s latest OS, but Ferguson says it should mean only one thing to users: “It means you should take action.” We offer up these simple, straightforward FAQs about this crucial matter, and suggest that whatever action you are going to take, do it ASAP. Now consider:

What’s the #1 reason to upgrade? — One word: security. Windows XP computers will certainly still function, but without new security updates, non-security “hot fixes,” free or paid support plans, or online technical content updates. Some firms are moving to fill in the gaps, but your XP computer will be poorly defended, and hackers will exploit bugs and back doors that Microsoft is neither fixing nor closing.

Are there exceptions? — After the initial negative feedback , in February 2014 Microsoft extended Microsoft Security Essentials for Windows XP until July 2015. Enterprise customers will get System Center Endpoint Protection, Forefront Client Security and Endpoint Protection, and Windows Intune, while consumers will receive Microsoft Security Essentials updates. nti-malware solutions are limited, and only “some anti-virus providers” will extend support for XP.

Is it a big deal for real, or Y2K-level dramatics? — A new data breach or computer invasion hits the headlines daily. The risks are real. Just because you like XP, or you don’t want to hassle upgrading, you’ll risk your company? Anti-malware maker Avast estimates that Windows XP systems are “six times” more vulnerable than PCs running Windows 7. (Of course, when you rent iMac computers from CRE, you get the least hacked OS around.)

How do I make the switch? — Microsoft’s online tutorial help you get from Windows XP to Windows 7, so make certain to back up all your files. The update process will not preserve your settings, preferences, files, and programs.

Can I upgrade straight to Windows 8? — It is technically possible, of course, but Microsoft warns that “Windows 8.1 isn’t designed for installation on PCs running Windows Vista or Windows XP.” What with the costs of two OS packages, if you want to end up with Windows 8, you really should buy a new machine. If you have a tight budget, search for reports like “Best Budget Laptops.”

Microsoft, naturally, wants everyone to adopt its latest and soon-to-be-upgraded-to-greatest OS, Windows 8. It has picked up market share slowly (it just went over 11 percent in February) because of the touch-centric UI, but the newly released Windows 8.1 Update promises to bring some of the Windows 8 resistors back into the fold. We’ll keep you posted!

When you rent computers from CRE Rentals you can feel safe knowing that you’ll be getting the most secure,  up-to-date OS and Anti-virus versions available.  Plus, our post-rental wiping process ensures that any data you leave on the machines will not make it into the hands of the next client.  Keeping your valuable data safe is just a small part of the CRE Rentals experience.   Call 877-266-7725 today to let us know how we can help with your technology rental needs.

 

April 17th, 2014

Recent research into the cost of updating old mainframe programs indicates that it is a significant contributor to IT debt, and a possible drag on our global digital future. The study, conducted by technology consultants Vanson Bourne across the dynamic high-tech industries of Australia and New Zealand, has implications for the U.S. and every high-tech nation, as well as those still working to modernize. Roughly 10 percent more debt is expected to be piled on over the next five years.

The study concluded that the average firm would need $8-10 million to update aging mainframe applications, a 40-50 percent increase over the May 2012 figure, and the increases are accelerating. For companies relying on mainframes these upkeep costs are not optional, and must be justified as “worthy investments”. With the growing power of even a basic computer rental, is there really a need for these “enterprise legacy technologies” in the world of small, mobile, wireless, and distributed?

Where To?

The study indicated that the average tech firm expects to use mainframe applications for another 10 years, with nearly half expecting it to be even longer. This points out the longevity of mainframe applications versus the regularly updated OS you get when you rent iMac, but long life presents other problems, like funding these large, energy-thirsty, expensive systems in the first place. Some 7 of 10 CIOs believe they’re running into compliance and/or risk situations in the meantime.

The report clearly forecasts a coming era—flush with every wireless gizmo and even wearable technology—where businesses simply must find a way to pay for fundamental changes or lose out on business growth, new product R&D, and the obtention of new customers. It is not inappropriate to point out, too, that recently divulged reports on NSA/CIA/FBI spying have raised general concerns about large, eminently hackable computer databases full of our private information. We will come back to that subject soon, but for now it bears mentioning as yet another result of “big for big’s sake.”

It Will Be a Challenge

A solid majority (72 percent) of survey respondents admitted the difficulty of transitioning mainframe applications to mobile devices. One major problem is the sheer number of platforms, especially in a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) environment, where an iPad rental and a Chromebook PC need entirely different solutions. And Google Glass is on the way!

The best approach? Knowing your employees—and customers. Customer needs are forcing the changes coming into existence now. A full third of report participants are transitioning their mainframe applications into more modern languages (to work with our MacBook Pro rental and every other OS). Interestingly, a quarter of respondents are finding some success replacing legacy applications with “off-the-shelf solutions,” although many are less than ideal. We expect the majority of firms to take their mainframe applications to every device and OS that their customers use. We’ll keep you posted!

Don’t want to get bogged down with extensive technology upkeep and upgrade costs at your organization?  CRE Rentals offers the technology items that you need to effectively run your business today, and you won’t have any of the anxiety associated with making large, and limiting,  technology purchases.   Put our inventory and expertise to work for you.   Get a quote now or give us a call at 877-266-7725

April 10th, 2014

Oculus RiftFacebook is buying Oculus VR, the maker of the Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) headset, for around $2 billion. This is a fact—as opposed to much of the hype about the purchase,  and the product itself. Recently, Sony announced its own headset, dramatically named Project Morpheus, so the momentum is building for “the breakthrough” that has been decades in the making. It’s time for a reality check on virtual reality.

The challenges now are legion. The public sees VR headsets as “gamer gear,” so Facebook will need to merge the technology into its huge (and still growing) social space. In an investor call after the purchase announcement, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke of “sharing not just moments [but] entire experiences and adventures. Oculus,” he opined, “has the potential to be the most social platform ever.”

A Call for Clarity

In a statement reminiscent of Apple’s reactions to rumors about our original iPad rental, one PCWorld.com columnist went so far as to say, “Everything you’ve heard about the Oculus Rift is wrong.” Brad Chacos thinks the Oculus Rift is “a groundbreaking, affordable virtual reality headset,” but the public has “a skewed picture.” He lists five top “inaccuracies,” but two deal with Kickstarter funding and the Oculus SDK (Software Developers Kit). The other three points, however, are crucial to clarity here.

Not Just For Games: The “early software” for the Rift, or any other VR headset, will focus primarily on games and other diversions. But Zuckerberg did not buy Oculus to make shoot-’em-ups more realistic. Like Steve Jobs with the iMac, he “sees the future” and aims for it. What might he see? One simple example: Bossa Studios’ Surgeon Simulator is a game today, but delete the horror-movie elements and tomorrow it could be part of a medical school curriculum.

Not Ready for Primetime: The Oculus Rift can be purchased at the company’s website. The firm has sold some 75,000 of them since March 2013, but the “product” is not a finished consumer product, but a developer’s kit to help you create VR software. There is no date set for a consumer-ready device, and when one debuts, it will require the horsepower of a CRE computer rental. Until power requirements are reduced to work with tablets and smartphones, the VR social “dimension” will remain constricted.

Not the Only Game in Town: With Facebook’s clout (and cash), Oculus—which will operate “semi-autonomously” like recent acquisition WhatsApp—often appears to be the only VR company around. CRE agrees with PCWorld.com’s Chacos that you should keep an eye on a “wide range of companies [that] are developing virtual and augmented reality headsets…including game-industry heavyweights like Sony (of PlayStation fame) and Valve (creators of the Steam PC gaming platform).” We know you’re busy, so we’ll keep an eye out for you—and so, as we like to conclude, we will keep you posted!

CRE Rentals  keeps you informed on future technologies while continuing to provide the technology that  you need to get your projects finished today.  If you’re looking for the new Mac Pro…we’ve got it!  Give us a call today to find out about all of products and services. 877-266-7725

April 3rd, 2014

Classic Arcade Watch

Arcade WristwatchSince the Apple iWatch is an “official rumor” awaiting the mere technicality of the Cupertino firm’s own announcement, industry observers have already moved on to wondering about the competition (and it’s not just Samsung). There will be doubtless  scores of lookalike iCounterfeits, as well as watches running on Android and other mobile OS flavors. But something tells us that the Classic Arcade Wristwatch is going to have a corner on the 1980s arcade game look.

For telling time, the bitmap display (good ol’ pixelated B&W) shows a large comet (hour hand), a small comet (minutes), and a rocket ship (seconds). The small joystick is nonfunctional, but the “Fire” button results in screen flashes and appropriate sound effects. The detail work is very good, and it’s definitely more of a conversation-starter than, say, our iPad rental. Still, this is a true niche product: not just for geeks, but retro ones.

Nothing Succeeds Like Excess

American pen maker Cross once had a pretty tight grip on the premium pen market in the U.S. Graduations, promotions, and other commemorative events would spike their sales year after year. Today there’s a huge supply of pens that can cost as much as our MacBook Pro rental. As one example, the Monteverde One Touch Engage Retractable Ink Ball Pen, a premium pen at a premium price, does offer some usefully simple features, like doubling as a stylus for touchscreens.

Like a Mont Blanc pen, this model from Monteverde fairly oozes class. Built of carbon fiber and other primo components, the One Touch has Monteverde’s ultra-cool retractable rollerball (unscrew the tip and behold!), as well as a fountain pen’s ability to suck up any ink and make it work. Substantial without being heavy, with a reportedly “sublime” on-paper feel, the One Touch is as futuristic as our new Mac Pro rental, as well built as a Swiss watch, and as classy as a pen can be.

Plugged… or Mugged?

Girl Plugged InThe Sensory Fiction project at MIT, with no trace of irony, is using The Girl Who Was Plugged In by James Tiptree Jr. as its initial foray into “multimedia reading.” To experience Sensory Fiction, you wear a high-tech harness equipped with a scanner that reads encoded directions to dial up coldness or warmth and adjusts built-in LEDs to establish time or mood. Vibrating mechanisms affect the heart rate while an airbag compression system loosens and tightens around the torso. And it all follows the story’s plot.

“Traditionally,” the Sensory Fiction project objective states, ”fiction creates and induces emotions and empathy through words and images… Sensory Fiction [conveys] plot, mood, and emotion while still allowing space for the reader’s imagination.” Leave space, too, for those words and images that, when wielded by the sort of skilled creatives who use CRE render farms, bring you that “emotions and empathy” stuff.

Not sure about a high-tech harness that tightens around your torso?…we’re with you on that one.  For today’s technology rental needs your best source is CRE Rentals.  Interested to know about our products and services?  Give us a call today 877-266-7725