Kenny Sahr

Have you ever considered using your Google Drive account to store and play music? Google Drive surprised me when I decided to upload my music collection to the cloud.

After uploading all my photos and documents, I still had over 90GB to spare (thanks to the 100GB bonus that came with my new Chromebook). Then it hit me – why not upload my music video clip and favorite songs collection to Google Drive?!

I have a collection of just over 200 music videos that I have burned onto a few DVDs. Why not watch them on YouTube, you ask? Mine are in better quality and by being organized, I’m just a click away from watching Paul Simon’s You Can Call Me Al video. Otherwise, I would waste too much time on YouTube’s search results page.

Google Drive automatically streams videos! It handles almost every format with ease – mp4, mpeg1, mpeg2, vob (raw dvd files), flv (Flash video). The only file extension Google Drive won’t play is .ts – which is another dvd format and I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before my .ts files play as well.

Streaming Music on Google Drive

In addition to my digital clip collection, I have a few hundred “desert island songs” that I’ve put together over the past 15 years from my cd collection. Yes, some people still buy and listen to real cds. Besides the usual classic rock and jazz, it is comprised of two iTunes compilations, a bunch of radio shows (detective TV and movie themes), my favorite James Bond songs (Moonraker, You Only Live Twice and Diamonds Are Forever) and other musical gems.

Google Drive can’t play wav or mp3 files on its own. Just download the free Music Player and you’re good to go. Music Player works with mp3, wav, aac, ogg, webm and supports playlists. It even plays hi-res 24bit/96kHz wav files – something that even my Samsung 5.1 surround sound stereo can’t do. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard the theme song of the 1985 Chevy Chase movie Fletch in 24 bit!

Store Over 5,000 mp3 Files!

Every Google cloud user currently gets 15GB for free. Your 15GB counts toward your Gmail, Google Drive and everything else in the Google universe. If you keep your email attachments to a minimum, Gmail won’t take up more than 20-50MB as it automatically deletes emails in your trash box every 30 days.

How many songs can you store on your free Google Drive account? The average 3 minute 128k mp3 takes up 3MB. 15GB divided by 3MB is 5,120 songs! For an audiophile like me, I can store 512 wav files (which are typically 10 times the size of an mp3) on a free Google Drive account.

Impressive and convenient. Storing and playing music isn’t one of Google Drive’s top 10 goals, but it does an excellent job. As soon as I get home, I’m going to upload my collection of vinyl rips!

Kenny Sahr

The Chromebook has Microsoft scared. Have you seen their latest Scroogled commercial? I saw it during a recent trip to Florida. The Scroogled site is witty. Every fan of advertising should check it out. Goliath has become David. If only the rest of Microsoft’s marketing was so cool! I look forward to seeing Google’s response to this.

Until recently, the battle of the laptops revolved around Microsoft and Apple. Because of the nature of Apple’s quality products, the fight took place at the high end. Apple never intended for their laptops to be an “everyman’s tool.”

The Chromebook – Microsoft battle royale takes place at the low end of the market. Chromebooks typically sell for $199 – $299. According to Amazon, the bestselling lower end Windows based laptops go for $300 – $800.

Chromebook Designers – Listen Up!

I bought an Acer C720 Chromebook last month and love it. I have a Windows desktop at home, but use it a lot less now that I have the Chromebook. It’s nice to have a laptop that actually fits on my lap and weighs less than a gold filled suitcase. My Chromebook is perfect for web browsing and writing – 95% of my needs. But it is missing a few things..

  • My Chromebook can’t burn cds and dvds. I burn backups a few times a month. I absolutely need the ability to plug in a USB dvd burner.
  • I don’t print a lot of documents, but wish I could “plug and print” on my Chromebook.
  • If the Chromebook wants to level the playing field with Microsoft, Google will need a cloud version of “plug and play.” We need to be able to plug in any USB device and run it. Drivers should be located in a new Chromebook Driver Cloud.
  • My Acer Chromebook doesn’t allow USB charging; I need to plug it into the wall. I wish I could charge it the same way I charge my smartphone and tablet.
  • I use two Google personas – personal and work. On my desktop PC, I am able to log into both at once; not so on my Chromebook. It’s annoying to have to logout and in when I want to check my work email. I’m sure there will be a workaround for this.

The Next Round in the Chromebook – Microsoft Battle

If nothing else, the low end laptop war has awakened the folks at Microsoft. The website and commercials are a nice start, but it’s not enough. I won’t be surprised if Microsoft lowers prices on their entry level products. Expect price reductions on the basic versions of Windows and Office.

And the Winner is – You!

You, the consumers, are the winner of the Chromebook – Microsoft battle. The best thing for all of us that can happen is that neither side wins by knockout. This will push Microsoft to lower prices and finally deal with a worthy competitor on the lower end of the market. For three decades, Microsoft ruled the PC market with almost no serious competition. It is going to be fun see how a post-Gates & Ballmer Microsoft fights back.

Until now, Google was hitting Microsoft around the edges. The recent success of the Chromebook is a body blow that Microsoft will not ignore. Hold tight, the laptop market is going to get very interesting as 2014 progresses!

Israel Lifshitz

“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” – Mark Twain

VDI has had more ups and downs than a struggling comedian. In the early 2000s, VDI was on its way to conquering enterprise. By the end of the last decade, VDI was as passe as Windows 3.1. In 2014, VDI is back with a vengeance. VDI owes its resurgence to Android and iOS, the world’s two most important operating systems today. The gods of history are laughing – what didn’t work on desktops works like a charm on mobile. In this article, I will cover the roller coaster ride of VDI and why its surprise comeback matters to enterprise IT.

Modern VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) began in 1999 with VMWare. IT departments were thrilled at the idea of a central data center or server handling and maintaining the critical data while employees worked on thin clients. It was a dream come true; only things didn’t quite work out that way.

VDI is like a star quarterback who never made it to the Superbowl. Like a top athlete, VDI was missing vital resources that would have pushed it to the top. What went wrong?

At first, IT managers thought they could transfer their Microsoft desktop licenses to the server. Microsoft and its army of lawyers did not make this easy. Transferring Microsoft Office from a desktop to the server took hours and wasn’t necessarily cost free. Anyone who thinks that the worst bureaucracy stories are all about government has never dealt with IT licensing.

Secondly, the VDI server hardware requirements were astronomical. It demanded a lot of hardware on the data center side. Eventually, IT managers and CFOs realized “what’s the point of having a thin client connecting to a fat server?!”

Fast forward to 2014.

Now there is a new mega challenge for IT – mobile security. Surprisingly, VDI is the perfect solution to a very modern problem. BYOD has much more complex security challenges because devices are not locked down in the office. When you add VDI to BYOD, you end up with zero data on the device, which solves BYOD’s most pressing problem. BYOD gave new life to VDI and it is amazing how these two acronyms are solving a huge enterprise challenge.

Like in an OSCAR winning action movie, VDI leaps from the shadows and saves the day at the last minute! Modern VDI offers huge advantages, solving all of its past problems.

VDI’s New Cape

For starters, modern VDI is based on Android, an open source operating system. Android is free and so is its most popular document editing suite, Quickoffice. This removes Microsoft and its lawyers from the picture. No license, no problems.

Second of all, unlike Windows, Android is a fresh, new operating system which handles hardware resources much better than its 90s cousins. IT managers can put 10 users where 1 used to sit in the enterprise data center. Every Android VDI user takes up 10% the space of the legacy VDI components.

VDI + BYOD = Nubo! Nubo is VDI on Android and it works on iOS as well. The Nubo client is thin and runs on almost every version of Android and iOS. The app takes seconds to download. IT retains all of the benefits it expects from a VDI environment – one centralized server that maintains all of the data and thin clients which hold zero data.

VDI never died, it was just waiting for mobile technology all these years!