My Blog


My Latest Tech

posted Nov 1, 2016, 1:37 PM by Tim Key

I know, I know it's been FOREVER since I have made a blog post on here.  Well, there's a very good reason for that.  However, I'm not at liberty to tell you so, we can just move right along.  :-)

I thought I would catch you up to speed on the latest techy gadgets that I am currently using in my life.  Let's begin with the oldest tech and move forward from there.

The Desktop

Oh yes, I still use a desktop.  I actually use several but two in particular.  At home, I use the HP XW8400 Workstation that I purchased way back in 2007.  I've had to replace a few parts along the way but, for the most part, it's still running well.  At work, I use a custom built workstation that I blogged about several years ago.  You can see all of the specs by clicking here.  I have recently had to replace the video card but, other than that, it has been the best running desktop I have ever had.  I am considering building a new desktop at work in 2017 and expiring the XW8400.  I would love to get some recommendations on a custom build and your experience.

The Phone

I am currently using the Samsung Galaxy Note 4.  My wife and I both have this phone and love it.  I am eligible for an upgrade from Verizon and was just about ready to jump on the Galaxy Note 7 when they started exploding.  Well, I won't be getting one of those phones.  I was awaiting for the Google Pixel to finally release and, after it did, I wasn't that impressed with the overall specs for the price point.  I'm torn between the iPhone 7 Plus and the Google Pixel XL but neither of them are overwhelmingly appealing at the current time.  Until I can feel all warm and fuzzy about the next phone, I'll just hang on to my trusty Note 4 with the replaceable battery.

The Laptop

I have a 2012 model of the MacBook Pro that I rarely, if ever, find a reason to turn on.  It is more of a nostalgia for me.  I keep it running and up-to-date but just don't find a good reason to use it.  I'll keep it around though, just in case.

The Tablet(s)

Here is where I find inspiration.  I have 3 tablets and all of them have different purposes.  I have the Motorola Xoom Android based tablet that I use exclusively for my sheet music library for playing live gigs.  It is quite old and I am working on moving my music library to another device.  Which brings us to tablet #2.  I have the iPad Pro 12.9 that is quickly taking control of my digital life.  I am finding new ways to do old things every week it seems.  As an MBA student, I cannot imagine not having this device for all my in-class work and note taking.  I have the type cover and pencil accessories that completed the ensemble.  When my wife started college, I insisted that she also get one of these and, though reluctant at first, has the same opinion of the iPad Pro as I do.  It's invaluable for students.  But there are a few things that my favorite tablet device just can't do and for those pesky little details, I use the Microsoft Surface Pro 3.  

Also with the type cover and pen, it is a wonderful device to have in my collection.  The pen doesn't work as well as the Apple Pencil does but it is effective if needed.  I use the Surface Pro for more office type activities such as Programming, Excel Solver, Analytics, and etc... The iPad just can't cover everything.  

Summary

Well, there you have it ladies and gentlemen.  The full lineup of technology that I am currently using.  I'll try and keep things a little more fresh on the site for the next time that you drop by and perhaps a little more interesting.

Tim

Changing My Mind on Windows 8 Pro

posted Jul 2, 2013, 10:53 AM by Tim Key

Just over a year ago, I evaluated Windows 8 Consumer Preview and wrote about it here. A lot has happened in the hardware side of things since then, namely Microsoft's introduction of the Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets.  In my original review, I declared that my only interest in Windows 8 was a tablet or maybe even an ultrabook.  I've been skeptical of the Surface Pro as the reviews are wildly mixed as to good or bad.  Some claim the batter life isn't all that great for a tablet for the price.  So that basically left me scratching my head for a replacement for my now 2 years old HP Elitebook 8540W that I recently threw across the parking lot at work as I slung my backpack over my shoulder not realizing I had left the zipper open on the laptop compartment.  I don't recommend it...

This incident forced me to dig deeper into the market place for a replacement unit.  My expectations are very high in choosing a laptop that I'm going to live with for at least 18 - 24 months.  I don't like having issues with my equipment and I don't like junk.  I went looking for an ultrabook 13" or less.  I've not seen a tablet that I could live with exclusively, so I just wasn't considering that as an option.  I looked at a lot of products like the Dell XPS 12 convertible, HP Envy x2, HP Elitebook Revolve 810, Lenovo Ideapad, and many more.  I just couldn't decide.  I don't like Atom processors and I desire to have either a Core i5 or Core i7.  While browsing around, I noticed this one unit was in the suggested similar items on Amazon, the Asus TX300 Transformer Book.  I was very impressed with the specification of the unit.  Check them out below:

Asus Transformer Book TX300


 Processor Intel® Core™ i7 3517U Processor    
 Operating System Windows 8 Pro 64bit
 Memory DDR3 1600 MHz SDRAM, OnBoard Memory 4 GB
 Display 13.3" 16:9 IPS FHD (1920x1080) Glare panel
 Storage 500GB HDD With 128 G SSD
 Camera Front HD camera & 5M rear camera
 Interface 1 x COMBO audio jack 
2 x USB 3.0 port(s) 
1 x RJ45 LAN Jack for LAN insert 
1 x micro HDMI
1 x Docking Connector
1 x mini Display Port
1 x SD card reader
 Battery 2Cells 5000 mAh Polymer Battery
2Cells 3120 mAh Polymer Battery

I would call it love at first site.  A 13.3" tablet/ultrabook.  There wasn't a lot of reviews on this device since it was so new in the market and the price was a little steep at $1400 but it was exactly what I was looking for.  I ordered it and couldn't hardly wait to get home with it and set it up.  This is one beautiful product.  The depth of color is incredible to say the least.  It feels a bit awkward as the display is basically the brains of the unit and the keyboard half is more of a dock, it feels a bit top heavy but is very stable and doesn't tip over.  It's more of a mind trip than a real issue. 

I must confess, I had issues locating a number of functions and features in Windows 8 and became extremely frustrated that first night.  I bit the bullet and logged on over at Virtual Training Company and took the Microsoft Windows 8: Introduction Course by Mark Long.  I didn't take the entire 7.5 hrs. course but about 4 hrs and I'm sure glad that I did.  I'm now a fan of Windows 8 and contrary to my previous blog about not using Windows 8 on my desktop, I'm now planning to upgrade that as well.  Microsoft could have done a much better job helping make the transition but they didn't and that is the reason it will take a lot longer for this Windows to catch on.  I do believe it will catch on but the learning curve is just too much for the average user who just wants to do their thing on the PC and get off.  I consider myself to be an Expert Windows user and this one was tough for me to take on.

If you have the desire and time, Windows 8 Pro is certainly worth the trouble to learn.  One of the most impressive things about it is how fast it boots up from a power off mode.  I say go for it!  Sign up for a course on Windows 8 and you'll be glad you did.



My Thoughts On Windows 8

posted Jun 4, 2012, 11:00 AM by Tim Key   [ updated Jun 5, 2012, 10:41 AM ]

In case you haven't heard, Microsoft is soon the release a new version of their flagship product they have named Windows 8.  I have downloaded and installed the Consumer Preview version as well as the Release Preview that came out last week.  I installed both of them in VirtualBox for testing and the latest  Release  Preview version was the simplest and most stable version of the two to install and use.

My initial reaction to the new "Metro" interface was not positive and I found it awkward to navigate.  I feel it will be all but too much for an average user to make the switch without hours of exhausting frustration.  In an effort to not be so closed minded about the change, I dug around online and figured out how to properly navigate the interface and became more settled with the functionality.

The start button is gone now and replaced with a start screen with Metro style tiles instead of icons.  That is for Metro style apps only.  If you install a non-metro style app, you will find an old clunky icon that takes away from the beauty of the tiled interface.  It would seem to me that it would be a simple thing to allow for custom tiles for these apps rather than clunk old icons but such is typical of Microsoft to "not allow" such features and force developers to design Metro apps. I'm sure that very quickly, there will be a developer that will solve this problem and become very wealthy from such a simple modification.

It is my understanding that Microsoft's approach to an OS is to not distinguish between types of hardware (desktop, laptop, tablet, etc...) and have one OS to rule them all (Lord of the Rings pun).  Sounds great in theory and time will tell if their crystal ball was right about that or not but my initial observation is that between a desktop and laptop, their use is similar enough to share an OS but on a tablet, I'm leaning toward a distinct difference.  I do not desire, nor do I perceive that I will ever want a desktop or laptop that is touch screen.  I currently have a 27" monitor and a 21" monitor side by side and just don't see the practical use in either of them being touch enabled.  It's bad enough keeping the finger smudges off my Motorola Xoom and it's only 10.1".  But for a tablet, it makes sense to use touch rather than external keyboards and mice.  For my desktop/laptop, I just don't get it.

The good news about Windows 8 is that anything that will run on Windows 7, will also run on Windows 8 without the clunky XP Mode.  The desktop is now just another App in Windows 8.  That's right, a Desktop App.  Click it from the Start screen and magically there is the desktop.  Well... most of it anyway.  No start button, program menu, or any menu at all.  You have to go back to the Start Screen to launch a new app.  From the Start Screen, right mouse click and from the bottom of the screen pops a bar with a single button on it called "All Apps".  Click that and you get a screen filled with icons sorted in groups of Metro apps and Non-metro apps.  I have found that you can still pin your non-metro apps to the taskbar in the Desktop app and image that I will be using that feature for my regular apps for ease of launch.  Yeah, if that sounded confusing, it is!

My final thoughts on Windows 8 are as follows:

PROS
  • Will promote Windows 8 tablets optimized for a touch interface that will run native Windows 7 apps as well as full USB support.  This is a plus for me as a Winform Developer.  I will now have a tablet that can run the software apps that I develop without having to remote into a Windows Desktop.
  • Metro apps are very cool and beautiful.  By design, these types of apps will be more secure than non-metro style apps.
  • The cost of Windows 8 tablets will be comparable to other tablets (iPad and Android) whereas the current line of Slate PCs are ridiculously priced and not optimized to run Windows in performance or battery life.
  • Supports Adobe Flash (unlike iOS)
  • Full support for ARM-based devices, including the Desktop app (Sweet!)
CONS
  • Huge learning curve for the average user.  I don't foresee business clients adopting Windows 8 for their Desktops or Laptops in any reasonable amount of time.  I for one will run Windows 7 on my Desktop for as long as possible.
  • Limited amount of Metro-style apps in the Windows Store but suspect that they will quickly follow the release.
  • Limited amount of instruction from the Windows OS to assist users in how to accomplish basic tasks.  I was just using the IE 10 and navigated to a page.  Needing to go back to the previous page, there was no obvious means to do so.  Right mouse clicking seems to bring up the navigation features of IE 10.  Would it have been so difficult to have a notification prompt that you could turn off once you read it that pointed you in this direction?
For me personally, my only interest in Windows 8 is the tablet.  Nothing more, nothing less. It's just too strange for a desktop.  I might consider it for a ultrabook but would never consider upgrading my Windows 7 OS to Windows 8 on my existing laptop.  I'd be glad to hear your thoughts.


Custom PC Build

posted Aug 23, 2011, 8:53 AM by Tim Key   [ updated Oct 6, 2011, 11:31 AM ]

It's been several years since I have built a custom PC.  About 4-5 years ago, one day, I just quit building and started buying them.  A few weeks ago, I was needing a mass storage unit attached to my network for backup-to-disk operations.  I looked at NAS and SAN solutions but the reviews were terrible on most all NAS solutions and SAN
solutions were entirely out of my budget.

A few days of reviewing and poking around the Internet gave me some ideas.  The inherent problem to solve was temperature and write speed.  So, I went to the gaming world for a solution of inexpensive, high cooling, & mass storage computer shown to the left.

I used the Corsair 600T Graphite case.  This is the coolest cases I think I have ever seen.  Corsair did an amazing job in the design of this case in planning for proper cable management.  In fact, I don't think I've ever seen another case before with cable management in mind.








Notice all of the rubber grommets on the back wall of the case?  Those are for feeding your cables to the rear side of the tower so they can be managed properly and out of the way as to not interfere with air flow.  This is a mid-tower that support ATX and Micro ATX form factors.  The case can support a very large power supply as well as the extra long graphics cards that gamers love so much.  It has 4 - 5 1/4 bays for expansion as well as 6 - 3.5" bays for a mass amount of hard drive storage.  The case includes 2 - 200mm case fans as well as 1 - 120mm fan in the rear of the case.  Here is my full parts list:


Tower: Corsair 600T Graphite Series
Power Supply: Corsair 850W Modular ATX
Motherboard: ASUS Sabertooth X58 LGA1366
Processor: Intel Core i7-960 3.2GHz
Cooling: Corsair H50 Hydro Series
Memory: Crucial 2GB DDR3 PC3-10600 (x3)
Graphics: ASUS EN8400GS 512mb
Optical: HP 24x DVDRW
OS Drive: 160GB Seagate 7200
RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s
RAID Drives: (4x) Western Digital 2 TB SATA 3.0Gb/s
OS: Windows 7 64bit


That's it ladies and gentlemen.  The cleanest looking machine I've ever built.  Styling and fast.  I reduced my backup time in half compared to the DLT tape system I was using.  This will allow me more opportunities to get creative in my backups and protect the integrity of my company's data.  Feel free to contact me if you have questions or want more details about the build.

Moving On... Life after graduation

posted May 18, 2011, 8:55 AM by Tim Key

So, I graduated from Western Kentucky University with my Bachelor's degree in Management:Business Administration with honors.  Throughout my college career, I have ended it all with a GPA of 3.77.  Not too bad for an old guy huh.  Now that education is behind me, it is time to move on and I'm ready.

I've decided that I'm going to take a few days to rest and reflect after spending the past 18 months without a break from school.  Right now, there just isn't a new normal to spend my evenings and I want to avoid getting into the habit of coming home from work and watching television until bedtime.

I want to spend some meaningful time with my family since sacrificing my time with them for the past 4 years has at times been a burden for us all to bear.  Yeah, I feel out of touch with the family life but I have tried my best to dedicate some amount of time each week to keep us from drifting too far apart.

So far, this week has been about resting and catching up on a few chores that I have let slide.  At work, I have been rushing to complete some tasks that I have been putting off for a long time.  I suppose that the coming weeks will settle into some new normal but for now, it's all new.

Surreal

posted Apr 25, 2011, 7:06 AM by Tim Key   [ updated May 16, 2011, 6:16 AM ]

Life is progressing forward as my college days draw to a close.  19 days left until graduation and it feels surreal.  I've spent most of the past 12 years getting two degrees and now this part of my life is coming rapidly to a close.  I realize that had I done things differently, that I could have finished my education about 6 years ago or had a Doctorate by now.  No matter the wrong choices made, the time spent getting my education has by no means been wasted.  I'm looking forward to a new chapter in my life, I just need to get my emotions wrapped around the concept.

Easter was this past Sunday and I had a wonderful time celebrating the resurrection of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  There were 34 baptisms at Hillvue Heights yesterday.  God was certainly working in our midst.  Though the weather was terrible and raining, it did not stop the celebrations.  The Easter bunny might have been disappointed, but my Lord was worshiped and praised.

After church, we went to have lunch with several friends from church at John Paul and Connie Logsdon's home.  This was our first visit to their home, though we have met for coffee or lunch in a few different restaurants around town.  It was nice of them to open their home to so many friends and provide us lunch.

This coming Friday, my baby girl, Mindy, will turn 20 years old. I remember the day she was born and the sheer panic that I felt when I found out Heather was in labor.  We were both working at the same factory back then and I was down in the basement.  My boss came running across the room hollering at me.  He said, "You need to take your wife to the hospital or she's going to have that baby upstairs."  Well, as it turned out, we weren't in that big of a rush but the reality didn't aid in reducing my panic.  It was a scary time in our lives because just 4 months earlier, Heather was involved in two car accidents in the same week.  We weren't certain that Mindy would harmed from the accidents or not, though the doctors were fairly certain that she was fine.  18 hours later, Heather gave birth to my beautiful baby girls and she was completely healthy.  We were so blessed of the Lord.

Through the years, tragedy and turmoil has knocked on Mindy's door to steal her away either physically or emotionally but God has saw to it that she survive and not just merely survive but continue to build the hopes and dreams that He Himself placed within her spirit.  I am so honored and proud to be her father.  She brings pure joy to my life every time she smiles or laughs.  She is a joy that I never deserved to have but I'm so glad that God thought differently.  Happy Birthday baby girl. I love you.

Spring Break 2011

posted Mar 7, 2011, 1:34 PM by Tim Key   [ updated Mar 14, 2011, 11:57 AM ]

    Wow, time sure does fly by so fast these days.  Only 68 more days left until graduation.  My feelings about this are surreal.  I've worked so hard to get here and it just still seems like a distant dream.  I am ready for this event to pass in my life and to move forward into the unknown tomorrow of my life.

    This past weekend I took off to Chattanooga, TN with a few friends for Spring break.  Hard to comprehend a Spring break when Spring is still 2 weeks away but I digress.  Paul and Debbie Johnson, David and Gretchen Stokes, and Heather and I took a 4 day weekend trip to relax and explore the south-western part of Tennessee.  We arrived at our motel room in Catoosa County, GA on Thursday evening.  I know I said Chattanooga, TN but we actually stayed at the Super 8 Motel just across the Georgia line because it is a lot cheaper to stay in Georgia.

    Thursday evening we all gathered in Paul and Debbie's room and hung out playing cards until about 2:00 in the morning.  Friday we took off to Lookout Mountain and rode the Incline Railroad up to the top.  We must have spent at least 4 hours walking around up there exploring and reading about the Battle Above The Clouds from the Civil War.  I don't know why but I just find all this history stuff to be very interesting.  Perhaps I missed my calling and should have became a history professor or something.  When we came down from the mountain, we found a nice little pizza place called Mr T.'s Pizza and it was really good.  We all got medium sized pizza and shared them with our spouses.  Heather and I couldn't quite finish ours but it was really good late Saturday night reheated when I got the munchies.  After lunch we headed over to the Georgia Winery for some wine tasting.  That was really nice and the people there were so friendly.  Great place to stop for sure if you are in the area.  After this, the ladies did some shoe shopping while us guys stayed in the van and played poker.  Later in the evening, we went to El Matador for dinner which was okay I guess even though they didn't bring me the food I ordered.  We finished the evening by playing Mexican Train Dominos until about 10:30 pm when we decided we should all go to bed.

    On Saturday, the weather wasn't so pleasant and it rained all day long.  Good thing we were able to pick up some umbrellas really cheap because no one but Debbie had thought to bring one.  Thank you Big Lots!  Anyways, the first thing we did was head up to ride the train over Missionary Ridge.  I had never taken a real passenger train ride before so I found the whole experience to be very entertaining.  The addition of all the history and story telling that the tour guide did make the journey even better.  After this we stopped at Wendy's for some lunch and then over to the Tennessee Aquarium.  That place has really expanded since I was there about 10 years ago.  We must have spent at least 3 to 4 hours in there.  I loved it but was getting very tired by the end of the visit.  After we had finished at the Aquarium, we went over to the IMAX Theater and watched Ultimate Wave Tahiti 3D.  I hate to admit this but though the movie was interesting, we were so exhausted that some of us slept through most of it.  Well Heather slept through most of it, I only slept through about half of it...  After the show, the ladies wanted to do some more shoe shopping and us guys did some more poker playing in the van.  Then we went to Logan's Roadhouse for dinner and back to the room the play dominoes again until 2:00 am.

    On Sunday we slept in and checked out just before 11:00 AM.  We stopped at Cracker Barrel for breakfast and did some shopping there as well.  Had to get a few souvenirs for the kiddies ya know.  We stopped at the Monteagle Winery and did another wine tasting.  Also a very good place to stop if you are in the area.  Very friendly folks.  After that we had a nice relaxing drive back home.  I had to finish a report for one of my classes so I took the down time to write that on the way home.

    All in all, it was an absolutely fabulous weekend of which I will cherish for a long time.  There is nothing better than good friends and family relaxing away from home.  Our next adventure will be in July as we all will travel to Gatlinburg, TN for a Cabin Weekend Adventure.

tk

A Very Merry Christmas

posted Dec 28, 2010, 7:08 AM by Tim Key   [ updated Dec 28, 2010, 7:27 AM ]

I am back to work today after being off for the Christmas holiday.  I must say that I have had one of the best all-time Christmas holidays ever.  We began our celebrations on December 16 by having a Christmas party with our closest friends, Dan & Melinda King, Dave and Gretchen Stokes, Paul & Debbie Johnson, Mindy, Kassondra, & Dustin.  Next came the celebration at my Mom's house in Tennessee on December 18.  It was a house full to say that least.  My sister has 5 kids and three of them have at two kids of their own plus my crew.  It is so great to see the next generation of kids running around playing and laughing.  Family is so great!

Next was December 23 at my Dad's house and another houseful.  Pretty much the same crowd of folks that was at my mom's house only without mom...  Maybe someday we can all get together once and celebrate the Birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ without all the divorce drama.  Anyway, I digress.  Christmas eve was mad busy.  Heather and I finished off the shopping we had to do (including food) and then off to my Grandma's house in Glasgow at 2:00.  Yet another mad house of family and children (I love it).  I was so exhausted that I fell asleep right after lunch on the couch (and Heather did too). 

Back home by 4:30 and spent the rest of the evening baking cookies and desserts for Christmas day. My mom, sister, and her two boys came home from Grandma's house to spend the night and Christmas morning with us.  We had an absolutely wonderful Christmas morning with them.  The boys were so surprised at their gifts and it was worth it all to see their faces light up with delight.

Later on in the day other came and we hosted 28 people (family and friends) before evening.  There is nothing like family and good friends to make one's heart sing with joy and praise unto the Lord Jesus Christ.  The fun, games, sharing, and laughter I was given on this most sacred day of the year will long be remembered. 

I hope that your day was as special as mine was.  I will you all a Happy New Year.

tk

Inside 6 months and counting

posted Nov 23, 2010, 8:39 AM by Tim Key

I just noticed today that it will be less than six months until I graduate from Western Kentucky University.  I felt like it would never get here but now I stand at the door and can see the end.  I can't help but wonder sometimes what life after college will be like.  For me, it won't mean going out and landing my first job because I have been working on my career for over 20 years.  I am hopeful of some modifications to my career and better pay but I don't foresee any major shifts.  Then again, one never knows what tomorrow may hold.

I wonder if I will return to the pre-college activities of vegging out on the couch and catching the latest episodes of the popular sitcoms every evening.  I have not done that in several years and I have found it difficult to keep up with them while I have been in school.  I would hope that I will take the additional time and spend it with my family and friends.  I intend on serving my community in a greater capacity than I have previously.  Maybe I will find time to hit the gym and shed off a few pounds and work on my health.  Maybe I will head over to the animal shelter and walk a few dogs and make some new friends.

I guess I don't really know what I will do.  But I do know that I am hopeful.

Marriage Enrichment Weekend Fall 2010

posted Oct 26, 2010, 5:53 AM by Tim Key

This past weekend, Heather and I were co-hosts with Gary and Charleen Osberg at the Hillvue Heights Marriage Enrichment Weekend at Fall Creek Falls State Park in Pikeville, Tennessee. 18 couples joined us for the three day seminar and what an amazing time we had.  God moved in a mighty way and lives were changed, new friend ships were formed, and I even performed a wedding on Saturday afternoon for Derrik Hooten and Tressa Green.  This was by far the best retreat weekend I have ever been too and because I was a co-host had nothing to do with it.  The entire group was engaged with all of the activities that we had planned.  We even had trouble getting them away from the dinner on Saturday night to the bon fire because they were enjoying the music and social aspects we had around our dinner.  I am truly blessed to have been able to be the hands and feet of God this weekend in enriching the lives of these couples.

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