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July 11th, 2013

new-MacProThe mid-June introduction of the new Macintosh Pro, a futuristic 10-inch-tall rocket (or silo, or trash can) of a computer with radically revised approaches to construction and operation, has added more fuel to one of the oldest fires in the history of tech-head in-fighting: customization, especially internal vs. external expansion. This new Apple model, which could join the existing version in our Mac Pro rental inventory come fall, is the perfect example of a new PC paradigm that redefines expansion, customization, and upgrading.

A little background

It was the 1970s that saw the first attempts at scaling down “computing machines” to something smaller than a commercial refrigerator. The Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Altair, and Commodore logos were among the first to decorate the “microcomputers” that flooded the market by the end of the decade. Numerous OS versions, lack of broad standards, poor build quality, and other problems abounded. We can date the beginning of standardization to the release of the IBM PC (IBM 5150) in 1981.

IBM 5150 PC - the old paradigmThis IBM PC’s case was built to allow for repair, expansion, connectivity, and future developments. Essentially, IBM standardized the motherboard design, used replaceable RAM, established the serial, parallel, keyboard/mouse, and peripheral connections, and installed MS-DOS. The paradigm: Tower or box case with open slots, open drive bays, power connectors, and room for various plug-in cards. This paradigm has aged for decades now, through different case form factors, expansion card designs, and cooling systems, but the changes have been evolutionary, not revolutionary. Tomorrow’s new PC paradigm, though—an entirely different approach—is suggested by the new Mac Pro.

Apple has a plan

Through the years, higher-end PCs started getting separate (discrete) GPUs to power better graphics, and now WiFi and Bluetooth are standard in most models. As a leading supplier of Xserve RAID units and similar solutions, we at CRE know that “there’s never enough storage.” Some people want extra hard drives inside their PC case to minimize the “rat’s nest” of wires and plugs, but the iMac and other all-in-ones already make this expansion impossible. If there is room in your PC’s case, installing additional devices adds heat, the dissipation of which often requires active cooling. But wireless hard drives are available, and getting cheaper all the time. Hmmm…

The new Mac Pro, with its revolutionary “triangular core” cooling design, has no internalMany ports on the New Mac Pro room for additional drives, and the PCIe card with the flash drive is proprietary (so it seems you can only get a bigger flash drive through Apple at this point). The only user-serviceable parts are the RAM modules (four slots). But with six Thunderbolt 2 connections (on three controllers), four USB 3 ports, two Gigabit Ethernet, and HDMI 1.4, external expansion is easy. Each Thunderbolt 2 port supports up to six devices, and with the USB and all the rest (don’t forget the WiFi and Bluetooth) there will be no problem connecting anything and everything.

Housekeeping issues? Okay, a few

Cable management is not that difficult, and should be eased by the number of wireless options you have. In summary, here are the main reasons that external expansion could be the new PC paradigm:

  • You won’t overheat your desktop computer,
  • you can turn hot-pluggable drives on and off without rebooting your system,
  • connected devices remain transportable and swappable,
  • and, at least in the case of Apple computers, the advanced power-management features in OS X Mavericks can dramatically simplify the smooth running and troubleshooting of complex (or just numerous) connections.

At CRE, we are committed to the smooth running of your business, and the troubleshooting of your problems. Perhaps you need render farms to push a few projects out the door. Maybe you want to to pull people to your booth at an upcoming conference with some great trade show convention rentals arranged just right (we help with that, too). Call us at (877) 266-7725, send a message, or visit the Quick Rental Quote page and tell us what you need. We are always ready to lend a hand! Call now!

July 31st, 2012

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 OS X Mountain LionMountain 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.

June 19th, 2012

Apple made a number of announcements last week at its Worldwide Developers Conference, but the Mac Pro – the stylish aluminum tower that has always represented the ultimate in Macintosh computing power – got exactly zero stage time. After the show, an unnamed Apple exec contacted David Pogue, the New York Times tech columnist, and “announced” that the first Mac Pro upgrade in over two years was “under way.”

The big improvements? You can now get “slightly faster two-year-old CPUs,” griped Instapaper developer and longtime Mac partisan, Marco Armendt. He noted there were no top-of-the-line Xeon chips, no USB 3 and not even a Thunderbolt port, the very thing that media pros using render farms and other post-production gear need. The “new model” even has “the same two-year-old graphics cards [and] motherboard.” To Armendt, the message is quite clear: “Apple doesn’t give a —- about the Mac Pro.”

An Apple vet speaks

Andy Hertzfeld was a member of the original Macintosh development team whose influence can be seen all the way to today’s powerful iMac rental. He says he was “worried” when the Mac Pro wasn’t mentioned from the WWDC stage, but “was in for a shock” when he found the Apple tower “stuck in time in 2010.” Bottom line? “The only thing that’s still high-end about it,” Hertzfeld concludes, “is the bloated price.” (CRE has the fastest Mac Pros anywhere, set up right and ready to go – and rentals save you from big capital expenditures.)

Clearly, Apple’s management team believes that mobile iOS devices are the firm’s best bet for the future. Chris Foresman of Ars Technica observed at the end of 2011 that “the iOS ecosystem has come to represent 70% of Apple’s revenue.” At the same time, Apple has upgraded and added Thunderbolt ports to MacBook Pro rental and the rest of the Mac line – the mini has Thunderbolt and the Pro doesn’t? Some high-end users just might switch…how many will desert Apple for Windows or Linux?

Desktop computer dead?

It is bad business to “utterly disappoint your most loyal customers,” as Hertzfeld puts it. He ends with a couple of irritating questions: “Why do an update at all if you hardly change anything? What’s going on here?” As journalists attempted to clarify the situation after WWDC, Apple didn’t immediately respond. When the blowback built to a boiling point, however, that “unnamed executive” called the NYT‘s Pogue and began damage control. Some Apple watchers wonder if Apple thinks desktop computers have a future, since nothing was said at WWDC about the iMac, either. “An executive did assure me” about new models, says Foresman, “probably for release in 2013.” Okay, so we’ll keep you posted. Again.

CRE will keep you moving forward, too, with everything from event production rentals to post-production technology and mass storage. One call or e-mail, or a trip to our Quick Rental Quote form, gets it done. Call now!

May 3rd, 2011

Many Macintosh users know the company, VMware, because of its product Fusion, a “virtualization” program that enables Intel-based Macs (the only ones made anymore) to run Windows. But VMware has a range of virtualization programs, including VMware Player, a free application for running multiple operating systems – including Windows 7 and Google’s new Chrome OS – on Windows and Linux computers. VMware brings total OS flexibility to the desktop on iMac rentals and other Apple models, while also supplying virtual machine technology to servers with VMware Server.

VMWare Forum 2011

VMware is taking its show on the road between May and July, hitting eight cities (including Anaheim on May 19; city schedule here) and doing one online presentation. The firm’s VMware Forum 2011 is a free, day-long event where you will learn how “accelerated” IT lets you respond quickly to market conditions, competitor moves and customer needs. You will find that virtualization of the desktop, amazing as it is, is just the beginning. VMware vSphere – “the most widely deployed foundation for cloud computing” – can help you reduce capital and operating expenses, tighten up security and even “go green” (CRE supports that strongly).

VMware claims its products can meet your company’s precise business needs, even as you lower costs, with custom-tailored IT service based in “the cloud.” Whether or not it works for your unique situation is something you must look into. With a full range of computer rentals capable of running any OS you need, CRE is ready to support VMware’s goal of a “cohesive, secure and compliant cloud strategy in three core areas: infrastructure, applications and end-user computing.” We can install VMware Fusion on Mac Pro rentals (even Mac laptops) to introduce you to desktop virtualization, but to get the corporate-wide “view from the cloud” you should attend this free event.

No crowd in the cloud

At Forum 2011, you will discover a proven method for providing safe, secure access to applications and data – to and from any device, wherever and whenever users need them. You will see how the power and potential of VMware vSphere can help your company make a swift, secure transition to the cloud.

We know all about virtualization here at CRE, and our expert Account Executives are ready to respond right away to your call or e-mail. Whether you want to test a new virtual server with your customer service reps or set up a new branch office with same-day office equipment rentals, we’re here with the expertise (plus the hardware and software) to help you pull it off. As always, if you know what you need you can skip right to the Quick Rental Quote form. Whatever you need, call CRE Rentals!

February 10th, 2011

The Macintosh was introduced in the legendary 1984 Super Bowl commercial as “the computer for the rest of us.” The IBM PC and compatible computers, whose descendants are an important part of CRE’s computer rentals, were portrayed as boring corporate machines. The Mac started with a chime, smiled and welcomed you to the first consumer-level graphical user interface (GUI). Each platform had its backers, and they declared war. The two systems didn’t work well together, either, but today they do. What changed?

Is the Mac vs. PC War over

Return of the peacemaker

That war was still raging when Steve Jobs returned to Apple in the late 1990s. Without him, CRE would have no iMac rentals in its inventory, as the iMac was among his first projects. In the early 2000s, the Mac’s PowerPC chips fell behind in the clock speed race, so in June 2005, Jobs surprised everyone – and outraged Mac True Believers – by announcing that PowerPC chips were being replaced with Intel chips. Those first models debuted in January 2006.

Happily, the Mac-PC wars are pretty much over. Both systems are capable and powerful now, and digital workflows can easily incorporate both systems. Start a PowerPoint project on a Mac Pro rental, save it to a USB thumb drive or the cloud, then take it home and finish it on your PC – or the other way around. Most of today’s major software packages – from MS Office to the Adobe Creative Suite – are available in both Mac and PC versions, as are a variety of specialized applications.

The foundation of collaboration

Not only do the hardware and software components of a mixed Mac-and-PC operation work together, a range of text, audio, video and image formats are accessible to both systems, too. Whether you’re working on a Mac, a touchscreen Sony VAIO L or a potent HP 8600, you can use the same files. For text, there are txt, rtf and rtfd files; the universal audio formats are wav, ogg and mp3; video formats include avi, wmv and mpg/mpeg; and cross-platform image formats include gif, jpg/jpeg, tif/tiff, eps and png.

There are more, but you get the idea – whatever you need to do, you can do it on a Mac or a PC, accessing the same “raw materials” with either system. If you work in a mixed computer environment and need computers, monitors or printers, simply call or e-mail an Account Executive. If you know what you need, use our handy Quick Rental Quote form. We know the technology across platforms -  and inside out, too.

January 11th, 2011

Our technological tools are getting faster and better all the time, but you’ll spend a fortune trying to stay on the leading edge. This is why renting from CRE is such a powerful budgeting strategy. Rent MacPro with Apple Cinema Display With Mac Pro rentals and high-end storage solutions, CRE provides the power you need for animation, post-production and other creative tasks, and you will know ahead of time what your costs will be. This is important for every company.

You may be better off thinking of computer technology the same way you think about renting equipment for conventions. How so? Unless your company is a  Fortune 500 company, you’ll probably rent what you need for that upcoming trade show. Why pay for equipment that won’t be used most of the time? This is analogous to the tech question you need to ponder, “Why pay for computer power that won’t be used most of the time?” Why, indeed?

Overselling as an art form

PC and peripherals manufacturers suggest that you need the latest, greatest, most powerful hardware (and software) at every employee’s desk. Not so. Basic, entry-level computers can handle all the normal “office productivity” tasks you need done – word processing, spreadsheets and charts, even presentations – so you do not need leading-edge tech for the bulk of your employees’ work. You really need to match the equipment to the job at hand, ensuring that each employee has enough power for their work. Having too much power means you are spending too much money.

Once you look at what you really need to run your business, you may find that you can save a good deal of money on hardware. Crunch the numbers and you may discover that half a dozen iMac rentals makes more sense than continuing to buy them on a regular basis. Likewise, if you have production bottlenecks a few times each year (pilot season, FY end, etc.), your bottom line may respond better to some short-term render farm rentals than to purchase orders for the same equipment.

Customize technology…consider rentals

Any plan to save money on technology implementation requires a good deal of study. Customer service reps typically don’t need $6,000 gaming PCs, just as iPad rentals are most cost-effective for your field personnel than rubberized laptops. Many employees will do just fine with entry-level devices. You may even find that certain models in CRE’s wide range of computer rentals are more cost-effective (and more powerful) than the plain vanilla solutions that you will have to replace down the line. Still, your situation is unique – so YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary).

Our expert Account Executives can help you figure it all out if you give them a call or send an e-mail. Know what you need? Then fill out the Quick Rental Quote form and we’ll take care of everything. We are always ready to help. It’s what we do!

December 7th, 2010

There are three major computer operating systems (OS) running the world’s PCs. According to this ongoing survey the usage as of October 2010 split up this way: 87% Windows (with almost twice as many people using XP as Win7, and twice as many using Win7 as Vista), 8% Mac OS, and 5% Linux. The Mac usage has about doubled in just three years, while Linux Operating SystemLinux use has increased by about 80%. CRE’s computer rentals, of course, can come equipped with the OS you want. We’ve talked quite a bit about Windows PCs and Macs, so lets get an update on the Linux world.

The history of open-source

Linux is based on AT&T’s Unix, created in 1969, and got its name from Linus Torvalds in 1991. The main tools and “user space” libraries came from Richard Stallman’s GNU Project, and the Free Software Foundation still refers to the package as GNU/Linux. In the early ’90s, there was a great deal of confusion involving drivers, those little bits of code that help your computer connect to monitors, peripherals, modems, and networks. Today’s Linux OS computers can be used with everything from CRE’s LCD monitor rentals to standard office equipment like printers, scanners, and external storage devices.

The major packages of this open-source OS are Ubuntu, Red Hat, Slackware, and openSUSE, which differ mostly in the number of custom utilities added to the mix. Historically, installing Linux has been a bit technical, and it hasn’t been a particularly user-friendly OS, unlike the elegant Mac OS X on CRE’s MacBook Pro rentals. A new product named EasyPeasy aims to change all that with a drop-dead simple installation targeted at a specific kind of user, the netbook surfer. To that end, it is easy to install on any netbook, connects to the Internet out of the box, uses Web apps, and is built for the cloud.

Linux done right

Should you dump everything you have and move to a Linux platform? Probably not, and that’s overkill anyway. If you want to run Linux – to take advantage of open-source apps, learn the OS, whatever – you can install it on a PC or a Mac alongside your other OS (or alone). In fact, if you want to supercharge the already potent iMac rentals, you could install all three major systems on them – Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. If you need this kind of broad capability in a dozen top-of-the-line Mac Pro rentals for a TV/film project or training session, you just let us know. CRE Rentals can install the OS you need!

At CRE, we do “everything tech” to support your workflow, convention presence, and presentation needs. Need the right solution for your unique situation? Simply complete a Quick Rental Quote and one of our expert Account Executives will follow-up to make sure you get what you need, when you need it.

November 18th, 2010

Cloud computing software, Office 365 In Part 2 of this two-part series (if you missed, make sure you read Part 1 for #1 – #4), we will highlight #5 through #10 on the great things about the cloud-computing software from Microsoft, Office 365!

5. Stable and crash-resistant

Reliability is nearly as important to users as security, since downtime costs money. Microsoft Online Services’ Service Level Agreement (SLA) targets 99.9 percent uptime. To make it happen, Microsoft has SAS 70 and ISO 27001 certified data centers around the world hosting “redundant network architecture,” so an outage at one means instant backup from another with minimal service interruption.

6. Compliant

Microsoft’s attention to detail is evident in the careful transition plan it lays out for users upgrading to Office 365 from its Business Productivity Online Suite. Complying with numerous laws, standards and regulations around the globe requires this same focus. For the U.S. market, Microsoft has even added features to help users comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

7. Compatible

With a sluggish economy keeping companies from upgrading hardware and software, Office 365 seems a no-brainer. It works everywhere, on everything, supporting not only Windows 7 and Vista but the SP3, Home and Media Center editions of XP, too. Users of CRE’s Mac Pro rentals can use the Office 365 applications as long as OS X 10.5 (Leopard) or 10.6 (Snow Leopard) is installed. The online administration portal works with the latest versions of IE, Firefox and Apple’s Safari, while the Outlook Web Apps can be accessed with all those browsers plus Google’s Chrome.

8. Up-to-date on the server side, too

Office 365 provides companies and their users all the functionality of Microsoft’s latest server products. The services run on Exchange 2010 SP1, SharePoint 2010 and Lync. Client software is Microsoft Lync 2010 for Windows and Communicator for Mac, while the enterprise edition includes Office 2010 Professional Plus.

9. Single sign-on

If your network runs Server 2008 Active Directory, you can configure a single sign-on so that users can be automatically authenticated to use Office 365.

10. Office Web Apps

These Web Apps are not meant to replace the full-sized Office applications. For comprehensive document creation, you need a powerful, local application, but when you’re away from your “Office” and need to do a quick edit, that’s where Web Apps shine. They are “special duty” tools offered in the increasingly popular Software as a Service (SaaS) model. No matter where you are, or whose computer you’re using, you can create or edit content with the same familiar interface as Office applications.

At CRE, we continue to make special, high-end tools available to media content creators – Xserve RAID rentals, Final Cut Pro workstations, etc. – while also staying abreast of productivity advances on the Web. Wherever your business is taking you, we can help you get there. Call or e-mail an expert Account Executive, or fill out the Quick Rental Quote form – now!

October 26th, 2010

Along with all the amazing advances in computing and networking technology over the past decades have come some serious challenges. For whatever reasons, some people want to bend and twist technology to destructive purposes. Today’s computer users, both at home and at the office, are now faced with the never-ending task of protecting themselves against viruses, spyware, malware and even orchestrated “hack attacks” designed to crash your site. This is why CRE ensures that every one of our computer rentals is certified “problem-free” before you get it. We know the cost of overlooking security!

On staff or on call?

Companies may be targeted by competitors or even their own employees, who will try to hack into secured networks, spread damaging viruses or install various kinds of spyware. The removal of these “invaders” requires state-of-the-art knowledge of the threat as well as up-to-date software tools. IT Services from  CRE RentalsIf you do not have a security expert on staff, or a good IT generalist that can get (and stay) up to speed, you can always contract with a good networking tech firm that will possess both the know-how and the right toolkit.

There are also lots of companies offering Software as a Service (SaaS) that can handle any one-time, à la carte jobs such as spyware removal. You should consider, however, what an ongoing relationship with a networking company can offer. Some are leading the way to the world of the virtual office, and the cost savings for your business can be substantial when you entrust the entire network to the care of experts. The firm’s tech pros can keep your network running, handle all day-to-day operations, ensure critical uptime, perform all backups and take all the headaches from you. Essentially, you are hiring a freelance IT department.

Put money into growth

When you don’t have to keep buying new equipment, repairing it, maintaining it and replacing it every year or two, you have additional time, money and energy to do what’s really important. That means growing your business, of course. Along with spyware removal and threat mitigation, an IT pro (independent contractor or company) can secure your data and show you the way to leaner, more focused company operations.

This is the same rationale that makes CRE Rentals a smart move. You can stop “keeping up with the Joneses” (or Jobses) and always have state-of-the-art computing power like the potent Mac Pro rentals at the office, and the interactive kiosk rentals and other things that make your conference booth and/or breakout session(s) a hit. Let us help you stay current on technology, save money on hardware and hit your deadlines — fill out the Quick Rental Quote form today.

October 12th, 2010

In our last two blogs (Tech Predictions Past and Present – Part 1 and Part 2) we reviewed the spotty record of “tech predictions” in the past. 2010 Technology Winners & Losers - CRE RentalsToday we’re looking at the winners and losers in 2010 – and what the pundits and oddsmakers are betting on for 2011. The lesson of those recent blogs? Hedge your bets!

Integrating personal and corporate assets

The average corporate PC is almost five years old. However, corporate workers have been buying all kinds of smart phones (with exciting 4G models), e-book readers, wireless doohickeys and potent little laptops for themselves, at constantly falling prices. As we head toward 2011, IT departments will feel increasing pressure from both managers and workers to tie personal tech into corporate workflows. CRE’s iPad rentals show that these devices can be true productivity enhancers, too.

Facebook fatigue

Facebook is going to level off at some point, as users are already reporting that cybertedium is setting in. Twitter takes time to use well, and LinkedIn works to the extent that you leverage the revamped Answers feature and position yourself as an expert. These social sites are in the process of evolving into corporate tools.

Staffing stalls (investment, too)

During times like 2010 (and likely into 2011) when hiring is flat and funds are scarce, managers continue to look for ways to get just as much, often more, from the same size staff and the same set of tools. CRE computer rentals are a proven way to increase productivity without investing precious capital in new equipment, with bang for the buck that continues to grow with ongoing technological advances.

The big loser of 2010

Amazon passes eBay: Amazon.com’s stock is higher than it was even during the dot-com stock bubble of 1999-2001. Because its vendor agreements require greater transparency than eBay’s, Amazon.com is a more secure buying experience. Just like CRE’s reputation for having the latest, greatest iMac rentals whether you need two or 20, Amazon.com’s reputation puts people at ease, too.

Big winners of 2011?

IT pros who live and breathe social networking: Social networking sites grew incredibly fast over the last several years, but individual users may be tiring of them a bit (see “Facebook fatigue” above). Corporate use, however, is on the rise, as witness by first-rank advertisers promoting their Facebook pages instead of their corporate sites in TV and print campaigns. IT workers who can combine their tech expertise with insights into social media marketing will become even more valuable over the next year. If you want to test those waters at your firm, CRE’s Mac Pro rentals pair up nicely with our Xserve rentals to create a workstation with which you can run all those ideas up the virtual flagpole.

No matter what the trends are, we are on top of them and know how to help you leverage them for your greatest benefit. Call or e-mail one of our seasoned Account Executives, or fill out the Quick Rental Quote form, and we’ll deliver the solutions you need, fast!

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