Among the biggest and oldest bottlenecks in the computerized workplace are the aging input methods, specifically keyboards, mice, and trackpads. With tablets, and even our LCD touchscreen monitor rental, yet another input method is now available: Various finger moves and combinations on a trackpad or touchscreen will run your hardware and software. It’s a whole new dimension of “hands-on control.” Well, perhaps not so new anymore, as there are new products advancing an entirely different paradigm.
Gesture Glove…Coming to a Cubicle Near You
Now, from the inventive world of the gamers, comes another input device that offers hands-off control. The technology revolving around the Nintendo Wii, Sony PS4, and Microsoft’s own Xbox One (which is catching up to the PS4 in the sales race) has led to the development of the Gesture Glove (Gesture Glove Mouse and Air Mouse Glove in some markets) by Japanese firm Thanko Co., Ltd. A 2.4GHz wireless radio (Bluetooth) connects the device to just about anything:
Android and iOS tablets;
PCs running Windows XP SP2, Vista, 7, and 8; and
Macintoshes running OS X 10.5 or later.
As it is based on technology that has thus far been used for games, and not productivity software (or even handy-dandy tablet apps), there has been some resistance to the Gesture Glove. It looks a bit clunky and it does take getting used to unless you’ve been using a similar game-controller. The moves you learn for Microsoft Office on a PC will work just as well with Office for Mac on our MacBook Pro rental. Controlling media files for volume, playback, etc., is also a learn-once, apply-everywhere proposition.
A simple wave of your hand (your right one, as there is no “left hand” model) initiates control of the on-screen cursor. A device wrapped around the glove’s index finger has two buttons for invoking right and left clicks with your thumb. Finally, a pause button is on the underside of the button device. Fact is, you can get a lot done with just a few moves and gestures. The integrated USB charger provides 12 hours of use after one hour of charging. Like most Bluetooth devices, it has a maximum range of about 30-40 feet.
A Crowded Field… for Now
The new Gesture Glove is based on a design project by Google and is an exclusive offering from what is known as Japan’s “rare things shop,” the Thanko firm. Its compatibility with Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android makes it a broad-based peripheral anyone can use. Plenty of other companies are jumping into this market too. As the technology progresses, and better and better glove controllers (and other new input devices) are developed, we’ll be back to update you!
While CRE does not currently stock the Gesture Glove we do have the latest and greatest technology, including Mac Pro, wifi arrays and HD 4k monitor. Let us solve your technology rental needs by calling today 877-266-7725 or simply Contact Us.
CNET’s Josh Lowensohn declared a week or so ago that the “disc drive is dead,” explaining that it hadn’t happened to “PCs just yet, but certainly in Apple’s Macs.” There has been buzz about the death of optical drives for a few years. As it coincides with the advent of small, net-connected devices—including laptops in new form factors like ultrabooks, our own iPad rental, the iPhone, and the zillion Android tablets and smartphones—the story of its demise is somewhat cloudy. The choice of terms is deliberate. Let’s put this trend in historical perspective, and acknowledge up front that the interactive Internet with “that whole cloud thing” is both a cause and result of today’s coalescing, interrelated tech advances.
Apple recently updated its MacBook Pro line and introduced the futuristic Mac Pro. Lost in the fine print of a press release was the news that Apple was dropping the 15-inch, non-Retina MacBook Pro, leaving a single 13-inch non-Retina model with an optical drive. Lowensohn says this is Apple’s way of signaling “imminent extinction.” You may recall that Steve Jobs’ insanely great original iMac was released without a floppy drive and soon enough, all of Apple’s computers were floppy-less. Ditching optical drives merely continues the effort begun with the disc-less MacBook Air in 2008. Since the App Store didn’t open until 2011, it was “a gamble,” concedes Lowensohn, to drop a major conduit for getting software into your computer. Looking back, it is hard to argue against Apple’s prescience.
Size, weight, and waste
Dropping the optical drives in the Air reduced power consumption, system complexity, weight, and size. Building on this experience, Apple engineers trimmed the new 2013 iMac’s girth and volume by some 40% and estimated that the new Mac Pro is “one-eighth the volume of the previous generation.” Such other new components as flash storage (replacing the moving parts of the hard drive), high-speed wireless (802.11ac vs. 802.11n), and Bluetooth have sped up Macs by providing alternative connectivity for storage, communications, peripherals, etc. Apple has also taken the “connectivity crown” with Thunderbolt 2, capable of two simultaneous 20Gbps streams. Real world transfer speeds? Recently, Intel put up a demo showing “peak performance…just under 1100MB/s.” Over a gig per second? Fast!
Lowensohn notes the practical impacts of Apple’s hardware-trimming campaign, one of which is a huge reduction in shipping and storage costs. There are important marketing considerations; there are enough environmental benefits to call this continuing reduction of size, weight, and waste a “green program,” right in line with enlightened corporate goals and social values. When you consider the ingredients we’ve discussed—flash memory, WiFi, Thunderbolt 2—it is sobering to remember what is on the way. Holographic displays, gesture sensors, voice control, visual commands, instant translation, virtual keyboards—what crazy combo or brand-new idea will make our devices easier to use, smaller, less costly, more powerful, and more attuned (and tuned-in) to our individual lives? Well, we know the future is disc-less—and we think it will be “cloudy” for a while, too.
So if you need a disc-less computer or laptop, feel free to contact the experts at CRE Rentals. We have the latest technology rentals to suit your office or corporate event needs.
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is among the largest showcases of new technology every year, and this time around CES 2013 takes over Las Vegas from January 8 through 11. After Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer gave the company’s last-ever keynote at CES 2012, any number of industry pundits bemoaned the show’s supposed decline. So, is CES passé? A waste of time and money? A candidate for virtualization?
Still a “heady mix”
To judge from what we’re hearing, you’d have to answer a resounding “No!” to all of the above queries. CES 2013 promises a heady mix of keynote surprises, sneak peeks, and high-tech hullaballoo. Even more than usual, press leaks abound—all the better for us to bring you the latest, most useful information. Here’s some of what you can expect to see coming out of Las Vegas this week:
A “real” TV tablet: You can jump through a few hoops with our iPad rental and get TV shows, but RCA’s new DMT580D combines an Android tablet with an actual TV tuner for free over-the-air digital broadcasts.
A Google TV device or three: Manufacturers TCL, Asus, and Hisense are all expected to exhibit new Google TV “devices,” according to CES press statements. Google’s current partners Sony and Vizio will debut the recently upgraded TV service on “new devices,” as well. Interestingly, the term wasn’t defined so it could mean anything from set-top boxes to integrated screens.
Samsung rebranding move: It has the best-selling smart phone on Earth, but with its headline-grabbing legal woes Samsung is reportedly preparing a serious rebranding. Stephen Woo, president of Samsung’s device solutions division, will set the tone for the company’s new image in his January 9th keynote address. The company’s Full HD Super AMOLED display arrives at the show, perhaps mounted in the new, also-headline-grabbing Galaxy S4.
The birth of Ultra High-Definition TV: There will be plenty of these on display. To qualify as an Ultra High-Definition (UHD) screen, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA, parent of CES) requires a minimum resolution of 3840×2160, at least 8 million pixels, and a 16×9 or better aspect ratio.
The big Kahuna of CPUs: Intel is not the only chipmaker coming to CES 2013, but is expected to “show up big” and possibly announce a new mobile processor or two, as well as some for the iMac and Mac Pro lines. The rumors that Apple may not use Intel as its CPU provider resurfaced after Apple developed the A6X for the iPad 4—a CPU that is twice as fast as those in current iPads. We’ll keep you posted on this.
Nvidia debuting the Tegra 4: Nvidia’s Tegra 3 made its way into phones from HTC, Google’s Nexus 7 tablet, and Microsoft’s new Surface PC/tablet, which may be a big hit for Microsoft and future king of tablet PC rentals. It is likely that the firm will debut the Tegra 4 at CES, with initial clock speeds up to 1.8GHz and a target of 2GHz by mid-year.
CRE is your one-stop shop for convention rentals, computers, office equipment and all the top post-production gear. A call or e-mail puts you in touch with an experienced Account Executive, while the Quick Rental Quote page will get you in and out in minutes if you know what you need. Either way, we’re here to help!
Last week, Apple released its first computer operating system without “Mac” or “Macintosh” in the name: OS X 10.8, with the cute kitty code-name of Mountain Lion. It is available only by direct App Store download and only to users with either of the last two OS versions installed (10.6 or 10.7, Snow Leopard and Lion, respectively). Should you upgrade? Should you specify OS X 10.8 when you rent Macbook Pro laptops?
Let’s take a look at Mountain Lion…
When Apple introduced Lion in 2011, almost six of every 10 Mac owners passed on converting to Lion completely, including many a high-end user like those that rely on a CRE Mac Pro rental. Oddly, as Mountain Lion now appears to deliver on its predecessor’s promises, it’s not quite living up to its own pre-launch hype. Apple hasn’t made its intentions clear about the future of OS X, and the company’s reticence promotes FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt), as well as occasional bad reviews. What gives?
New dividing line?
Apple has upset a number of its most loyal customers by dumbing down Final Cut Studio and letting the Mac Pro go stale over the last several years. High-end users feel abandoned (subject of an upcoming blog), and oppose the Mac’s “iOS-ification.” The sort of media pros that use AJA IO HD-level technology are not as concerned with look and feel as they are with brains and brawn.
For non-pro users, it’s all about “social networks,” despite Facebook integration being delayed until a fall update. When iOS 6 is released around the same time, a CRE iPad rental will integrate just as seamlessly with OS X devices as other “pads, pods ‘n’ phones.” In the meantime, other new Mountain Lion features push “Mac socialization” forward, like Messages, the Notifications service and system-wide iCloud support. This last feature is not as intuitive as it should be, and it is strange how hard Apple worked to make it invisible.
Mountain Lion features …lots to look at?
Apple claims “over 250″ new features, but this includes changing the typeface on some dialog boxes. Peruse that new features list carefully, as some features only work with select Macs, such as Power Nap that collects messages and updates while asleep. Right now it only works on two Air models and the Retina Display MacBook Pro. There’s a lot to go over, so we’re going to live with the new OS for a bit and report back to you with what we discover.
Here’s your first Mountain Lion heads-up: Coinciding with the release of OS X 10.8 was the launch of new Mac-specific malware. Go here to check it out and get the antidote (if you need it).
For everything from trade show convention rentals to high-end post-production technology, your solutions are a single call or e-mail away, right here at CRE. And if you know what you need, visit our Quick Rental Quote page and be done and gone in minutes.
It started with “enterprise software” companies like Oracle and Microsoft offering ever-more-centralized control over a firm’s data, storage and workflows. Now Adobe Systems and other software makers are jumping on the bandwagon, too, giving startup firms and solo professionals some of the flexibility they need to compete with “the biggies.”
We’re talking about software subscriptions, a niche within a large new tech service category known as Software as a Service (SaaS). While some tech categories are dead (netbooks) or dying a slow death (fax machines), subscription software packages are booming. Let’s take a look.
Subscription software options = advantages
Reasons both economic and managerial can support choosing subscription software services over buying programs outright. Whether you’re running Microsoft Office on a PC desktop computer rental or a 3D design package on a top-rated Macintosh, you now have options you didn’t have just a few years ago.
Of course, even when you pay $1,000+ for Adobe Creative Suite, you don’t “own” the software. Rather, you have a license to use it, a “perpetual” one that lasts forever. The downside? It doesn’t matter if you’re using a PC, an iMac or a laptop – updates, upgrades and ongoing tech support are not free, and can be as much as 20-25% of the total cost of ownership (TCO).
Make your best subscription deal
With a subscription deal, you pay for a certain term (a month-to-month or year-long agreement) and can’t use the software if you don’t renew. For example, if you decide to rent laptops for your conference team, and need special software installed, the cost-effective way would be short-term subscriptions or other SaaS arrangement. For longer periods, cost effectiveness improves, as upgrades, support and repairs are all included in your recurring payments.
You will always need the latest version of the program(s) you and your firm rely on daily, so the subscription model is best if you have a tight budget. Like plasma display rentals from CRE, your software rental is always ready to work, will be replaced immediately if defective and is guaranteed to do the job. There does come a point at which a purchase makes sense, but this differs for everyone and the variables are quite numerous. Rely on your trusted number cruncher to advise you.
When the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ran computer security tests in 2010 and 2011, the results were disappointing. In one incident, DHS agents surreptitiously dropped USB thumb drives, CDs and DVDs – compatible with every PC desktop computer rental and Mac in the world – in parking lots of both government departments and contractors. Some 60 percent of the people that picked up these unmarked items inserted them into computers. Of the items with a government or industry logo, over 90 percent were inserted.
The results were not unexpected, as computer security professionals have known for some time that humans are the weakest link in the security chain. This is why hackers study psychology and sociology in addition to every possible kind of computer from a mainframe to an iMac. They exploit humanvulnerabilities in addition to technological ones.
Computer security…it’s not like the movies
When people think of computer security, they imagine geeks with a MacBook Pro battling nerds with Windows 7 PCs. In real life, however, “all forms of online theft” cost the world’s economies about $1 trillion according to the Silicon Valley computer security firm, McAfee, Inc. The best defenses, corporate firewalls costing millions to build and manage, have done a decent job of blocking malware aimed at infecting computers, disrupting networks and stealing credit card numbers, account data and passwords.
But humans are the weak link, remember? The low-tech, virus-free “phishing” technique – sending e-mails that appear to come from a legitimate company – still gets plenty of confidential and extremely valuable information. The latest version is dubbed “whale phishing” as it targets senior executives whose computers contain, and link to, tons of valuable info. Data on iPad rentals or personal tablets can also be swiped, as they are backed up regularly via iCloud or USB.
After leveling off in previous years, phishing incidents were up almost 7 percent between June 2010 and May 2011, according to Symantec Corp. In addition to updating firewalls and strengthening security practices against other threats, here are some simple things you can do to combat phishing:
Check the sender of any e-mail that has attachments or embedded links. Don’t know them? Don’t open it.
Don’t enter personal or corporate information on a web or e-mail form.
If you get an info request that is supposedly from your bank or vendors, call them up.
Do not click on any links in any e-mail whose sender is unknown. One click to the wrong place can ruin your day (and your hard drive).
Remember, one call or e-mail to the right place, CRE Rentals, puts an experienced Account Executive to work just for you. You can also use our Quick Rental Quote form to get things going even faster. From event production rentals to the latest in high-end post-production gear, CRE is your one-stop shop.
Through the years, Macintosh and Windows never played well together, although there were plenty of attempts to make them do so. But not only were there different pieces of software, they ran on completely different processors. Windows used Intel, AMD and other compatible chips, while Macs, like the top-of-the-line Quadra 950, ran on Motorola processors – and were slower by far than today’s iMac.
When Apple began using Intel processors in 2006, everything changed. Now it doesn’t matter if a particular Windows program doesn’t have a dedicated Mac OS X version, because there are two different ways to run it on a Mac – emulation or virtualization – with various approaches for each. If you have a favorite Windows program you want to use for a presentation on one of our plasma display rentals, you can do that with a Mac, no problem.
Emulation software simulates enough basic parts of the Windows OS to run some programs on the Mac. One well known Windows-on-Mac emulator is WINE, which you build yourself from freely available code (difficult) or install with a third-party “pre-fab” package (not so difficult). Among the best of the latter is PlayOnMac, which features a simple interface for browsing and installing compatible Windows programs.
The more advanced Crossover application is quite straightforward. Try it for free to see if the programs you want to run are supported, and then buy it if they work. The shortcomings of emulation include a limited selection of programs, potential quirks in running them outside their native environment and a heavy CPU load for some. Of course, the MacBook Pro and other Macs now have Intel “Core i-” series CPUs, so that last problem is greatly diminished.
In the era of Motorola CPUs, the open source VirtualBox (since acquired by Oracle) was among several complicated ways to run Windows on the Mac. Virtualization now relies on an actual installation of Windows, which became possible after Apple started using Intel chips. You can boot into Windows, as well as run it “in parallel” with Mac OS X. In fact, one of the first programs to offer this functionality was named Parallels, which is in wide use.
Running two operating systems simultaneously gobbles up memory and CPU resources, and early virtual machines did not always work properly with peripherals. Now, Parallels and VMware run on every Mac from laptops to the mighty Mac Pro, and can interface with scanners, networks and all kinds of printer rentals. Just ensure that your Mac has at least 4GB of RAM and a Core 2 Duo processor and you should have smooth sailing. Remember, you need a Windows installation disc with a serial number for a legitimate installation.
From straightforward advice and high-tech gear – render farms, mass storage, A/V equipment – to the best trade show convention rentals, one call or e-mail (or a few clicks on our Quick Rental Quote form) puts an expert Account Executive on the job for you!
DT Videolabs has a short, sweet product line. Along with two versions of its playback software, PlaybackPro and PlaybackPro Plus, the firm makes two USB keyboard controllers and a few other products. Adding Playback Pro Plus software and the 40-key PlaybackPro Plus USB Controller turns your computer into a digital video powerhouse. DT Videolabs’ products work with Apple towers, laptops and the iMac, but not Windows PCs.
Setup and use
The PlaybackPro Plus software is a snap to install, and the keyboard simply plugs into a USB port. Because the products are Mac-centric, DT Videolabs recommends that you save clips in Apple’s ProRes 422 format on a RAID 0 drive to ensure the best quality and reliability. CRE, of course, is an expert in Xserve RAID and other mass storage solutions.
This software/controller combo gives you a flexible multi-channel player that becomes a recorder, too, when you add the RecordPro application. The features are extensive:
cut and dissolve between clips
variable fade and kill settings
individual control of gain, saturation, gamma, volume and black levels
automatic adjustment of output resolution and aspect ratio
works in any ratio (4:3, 16:9, etc.) with infinite adjustability of sizing, stretching and cropping
With keyboard controls logically laid out, the learning curve is short, and adding the appropriate QuickTime components lets you use almost any file format. With a switching system that accepts VGA, DVI, DisplayPort or HDMI high-res inputs – which the Thunderbolt port on new Macs like our MacBook Pro rental can handle with simple adapters – you can connect directly, and even gen-locked signals can be handled with just a simple add-on or plug-in.
The same kind of tight hardware/software integration that makes using a Mac Pro a “seamless experience” enables the DT combo to give you total control of every function. The device is essentially half a keyboard with buttons in clearly divided Preview and Program areas (left and right, respectively), with Loop, Freeze and Link buttons in the middle. Group buttons are color coded, and there’s a double-sized green “Take” button on the left and a same-sized red “Kill” button on the right. It all makes sense – and works great.
The PlaybackPro Plus software/controller combo is perfect for corporate presenters, and is even making inroads into the hotel, theater and concert/touring industries. Adding DT’s controller and software to a Mac yields a dependable, professional presentation solution. And we should know – CRE is the leader in trade show convention rentals, as well as potent post-production gear, high-end A/V equipment, plasma display rentals, touch screens, workstations and computers. Call or e-mail an Account Executive, or use our Quick Rental Quote form, to get the right tool for the right job – right now!
Confused about “the cloud”? You’re not alone. Still, believe it or not, we may be nearing that point where we’re finished defining it and are moving into some clearly understood efforts and approaches. Perhaps IT managers can finally stop going to every workshop or conference on “virtual teams” or “whatever-as-a-Service” (the first was probably SaaS, Software as a Service).
We’ll call that the good news. And the bad? The cloud computing options are seemingly limitless. That a list of just the “top firms” in cloud computing runs to 100 is a sign of just how big this latest top-down paradigm shift might be. For now, though, the whole thing still seems big and a bit unwieldy – and hard to explain in the desktop computing vocabulary most people have learned via basic home and office use.
The real problem with “the cloud”
There is a dizzying array of activities surrounding “the cloud,” but that’s not really the problem – having choices is a good thing. But it gets complicated when you have to decide on vendors, choose commercial vs. open-source solutions, ensure the “portability” of applications among various clouds and so on. For individuals and firms exclusively using the Mac Pro or other Macs, Apple has a top-down solution in iCloud. But for PC users and mixed environments (like most companies), it can be messy.
Running a business has never been more complicated than it is now. Everyone is talking about “cloud projects” but your IT manager (or outsourced service) spends 70-80% of the time (and budget) just keeping things running. Now, if you’re a small post-production firm handling your own IT you may be comfortable with high-tech gear like a Xserve RAID rental but confused by all these cloud offerings. And it’s expensive to acquire the right skills whether you promote internally, retrain, cross-train, get a consultant or hire a full-time expert.
Public or private?
For larger firms a Private Cloud may be worth a look, so study the best practices of current Public Cloud operators like Netflix to see what you can implement. And it’s not just about what happens in the office. If you outfit your conference team with iPad rentals you’ll want access to your cloud for PDF brochures and other data. Universal access is one of the main reasons to have a cloud.
From chaos and confusion comes opportunity, as long as you’re open to change, new ideas and an incremental (read “cautious”) approach. We’re experiencing an historic change in computing and communications that will affect businesses on many levels. How inventors, vendors, businesses and individuals handle the challenges will chart the course of IT for the next decade or two. It should be interesting!
Although you can use it as an remote archive, Apple’s new iCloud service that debuted on October 12th is not primarily for storage. It is made to keep your data synchronized among your iOS devices and computers (Mac, PC). After it’s set up, you can work on your iPad rental and know that the document will instantly be ready for editing on any synced device. Transferring files by e-mail or USB flash drives is on the fast track to obsolescence.
How iCloud works
First off, iClouddoesn’t work without the latest OS X Lion update, 10.7.2, and the latest iTunes update, 10.5. For better iCloud integration, Safari also got a bump to 5.1.1. Pages, Numbers and Keynote – the iWork programs that run on every Macintosh, from the cutting-edge laptops to the mighty Mac Pro – now sync documents via iCloud. Contacts, Calendar and Mail data also updates automatically on multiple devices. Just as importantly, iCloud also stores device settings, apps, screen layouts, ring tones and text messages, so all your vital data comes with you when you upgrade devices.
The new Photo Stream lets you download up to 1,000 photos for 30 days without counting against your storage total (see “What’s the deal?” below). Third-party apps can also leverage iCloud services, and it’s vital to remember that iCloud is “open territory” where tablet PC rentals running Windows are free to roam, too. Future blogs will update you on the features developers implement for their various iCloud products and services.
What’s the deal?
You get 5GB of iCloud storage for free, and iTunes music, e-books, apps and Photo Stream pics do not count toward your total. Your iCloud real estate will be populated by documents, application data, mail, non-Photo Stream photos, settings and other information. You can buy more storage for annual fees of $20 (10GB), $40 (20GB) and $100 (50GB), but Apple’s customer research indicates that 5GB of storage should be sufficient for most people. There are numerous variables – the size of your Camera Roll, how many documents you carry around, how much application data you’re amassing, etc. – so you will have to figure out what works for you.
iTunes Match confuses
There is a possible point of confusion with iCloud, and that revolves around iTunes integration. When you buy tracks from iTunes, they are automatically synced to your devices and don’t count toward your free storage total. However, if you want to sync music that was not purchased from iTunes, the privilege requires paying $25 a year for the separate iTunes Match service.
CRE, like Apple, is all about “value added” and excellence. From Audience Response Systems (ARS) to high-end digital gear and Xserve for that new post-production project, we’ve got you covered. One simple call or e-mail puts an experienced Account Executive on the job for you, while a couple of clicks gets the ball rolling with our Quick Rental Quote. We’re ready with solutions for whatever challenges you face!