Andrew Connell

Latest Musings topics

All the latest Musings pages on this site.

Here you'll find random posts that don't belong in any of the other categories on this site.

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    Blog: Kindle Fire - 4+ Days Later, a Quick Review

    This was easily one of the most impulsive purchases I’ve ever made… a $200 device preordered within hours of the press conference announcing it. Granted, it helped I had about a $150 credit with Amazon, so my Kindle Fire only set me back a little over $50. I’m secretly hoping this device will replace my 1st generation iPad & existing 2nd generation Kindle. Before I get started, I’m not sure anyone else can say that every device they’ve released uses the same type of common cable.
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    Blog: How do you get your info? What medium do you prefer?

    I started a little poll today for the first 400 respondents and curious as to what your opinion is: My Tweet : #poll #SharePoint folk: what resource/ref do u prefer? Plz consider time to market, availability, cost, & depth. http://twtpoll.com/4j7te8 Today I kicked off another thread of posts that I’ve been working on related to Silverlight, SharePoint & MVVM. I’m starting to really like this approach quite a bit as I can get a ton of content out in a short order of time.
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    Blog: Updated Silent Virtualization Server Specs-Perfect for a Home Office / Small Business

    Last weekend I wrote about how I do SharePoint 2010 development & presentations both on the road and also from my home office . In that post I broke it down into two categories: what I use as my portable rig (laptop) and what I use when I’m not on the road in my home office. Since I posted that I’ve had quite a few questions through my blog about the silent virtualization server I setup.
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    Blog: The end of an era…

    Today marks the end of an era (assuming weather cooperates) with the launch of shuttle Atlantis, STS-135. I’m a bit of a space nut… maybe even a space geek. We live about 140 miles north of Cape Canaveral and am lucky enough to usually see it streak across the sky with the naked eye. I’ve been lucky enough to the launch in person twice. My dad was there for the first Apollo launch.
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    Blog: WP7 - 7 Months Later

    The week after it became available on the AT&T network, my wife and I abandoned our iPhones (she had a 3GS, I had a 3G) and got the new Samsung Focus Windows Phone 7 devices. After seven months of use & two OS updates later, I thought it may help others to share some thoughts on the device from a consumer POV. Most of my views are shared with my wife who’s not a developer/techie like myself, but she is savy.
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    Blog: Looking Ahead to 2011-New Year Resolutions

    Last year about this time I wrote a blog post where I called myself out and posted five things I wanted to get stronger at in 2010. Looking back, I think I did a decent job: Silverlight Development - Safe to say I’ve been bit by the SL bug. I find I can be so much more productive building business apps with Silverlight than with other tools. I dove head first into Silverlight in learning some tips and tricks as well as adopting the MVVM design pattern (I prefer using the MVVM Light Toolkit ).
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    Blog: My Experience: Stranded in Europe due to Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull Volcano

    Beware: this is going to be my longest blog post so far, and hopefully ever… this is my story about getting stranded in Europe due to the Iceland volcano. A few weeks ago I embarked on what I expected would be a very fun and interesting trip. My plan was as follows: Leave Jacksonville, FL on the evening of April 10, connect in Atlanta then overnight to London (Heathrow), switch airlines and head to Olso, Norway and by Sunday night, April 11, land in Trondheim, Norway.
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    Blog: Recapping my recent trip to Norway (-England)

    Recently I went to Norway to teach a private SharePoint Designer 2010 class to a consulting firm in Trondheim, Norway; Enable AS . The Saturday after the course I planned to fly over to London to present at the SharePoint 2010 Evolution Conference the following week and then go home. I expected this trip to be quite special going to Norway (which was new for me) and then seeing a bunch of friends and SharePoint folks in London.
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    Blog: Stupid API Rant: the SalesForce Web Service API

    Sometimes throughout the course of your work you find something that just makes you wonder what the heck the developers were thinking. Recently that was me and working with the SalesForce Web Service API. So far there have been quite a few challenging things in working with this API that were new and strange to me… a big one being when you query for objects, you get an object back that has all the properties available, but if you didn’t explicitly put the field you need in the SELECT statement, the SalesForce Web Service would still return the field in the return result, but it just wouldn’t be filled in.
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    Blog: An op for Microsoft to nail the low hanging fruit: Cloudify every app's settings/config

    I’ve got an idea for something totally feasible and doesn’t seem like a ton of work for Microsoft to offer for free without a lot of investment but would be loved by many consumers: cloudify application settings. Many people use multiple computers. There are folks like I suspect most of my readers where you have one or more machines at home and one or more machines at work. Each application you use has different settings.
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    Blog: Looking Ahead to 2010 - New Year's Resolutions

    What better way to hold yourself accountable than to publically state what your New Year’s Resolutions are? I’ve got a few professional and personal resolutions but only care to share my professional ones here (there’s a reason why they are called “personal” right?). I’m the kind of person that can fill up a to do list with all these ambitious things you want to accomplish, but if I don’t give myself a deadline or carve out time on my calendar, it won’t get done.
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    Blog: Doing SharePoint 2010 Development - What's in your rig?

    Over the last year I’ve been working with SharePoint 2010 in various ways. With the new requirements of x64 hardware in this release, I got a lot of questions at the SharePoint Conference , on Twitter and via my blog on what hardware I use to do my SharePoint 2010 development and demos. Here it goes… hopefully this helps someone else out there. The setup First, let’s get on the same page: SharePoint 2010 *requires* a 64-bit operating system in Windows Server 2008.
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    Blog: U2 360 Tour - Las Vegas :: The Best Concert I've Ever Seen

    Last week after the SharePoint Conference 2009 wrapped up in Las Vegas, Meredith flew out for a long weekend. On Friday night we jumped on a party bus that left from the Bellagio and headed to UNLV to see U2’s 360 tour ( set list here ). It was BY FAR the best concert I’ve ever seen. Thankfully one of my favorite U2 songs was part of the act (the last song before the encore: Where the Streets Have No Name.
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    Blog: It's time to break my personal NDA and out myself

    Next Monday in Las Vegas Microsoft lifts all the NDA’s on SharePoint 2010 at the SharePoint Conference … good times and watch your RSS readers as I’m sure folks have queued up quite a few posts. So I figure now is a good time to break my silence… No people… not an NDA with Microsoft! A few years back I had a semi-Vegas moment that I’d like to thank the 150 or so folks have been kind enough not to let get out in the public domain.
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    Blog: Windows Deployment Services benefits even small shops/individuals

    If you’re running Windows 2008 in your network, then you have a very slick zero-cost option available to you: Windows Deployment Services (WDS).
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    Blog: Fixing a lovely (and maddening) time sync issue for a virtualized home office

    For the last year+ I’ve been dealing with a maddening issue. All the machines in my house were always off by 3-8 minutes from the atomic clock . Not that big of a deal for most folks… but when you’ve got Windows Media Centers with the wrong time, you always have your recordings start a few minutes late. The way I’ve got my house setup is that I have a virtualization rig (Win2k8 with Hyper-V) that hosts my two domain controllers (all machines at home are on the same domain except a little Windows Home Server) and a bunch of others for work stuff.
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    Blog: A nice upgrade to my virtualization rig - look ma... no fans!

    In June of 2008 I built a custom rig with three things in mind: Super powerful and not requiring an upgrade for a few years Primarily a virtualization rig (hosting HyperV images) Stealthy quiet As a SharePoint developer, I live in virtual machines. After a nice quarter of revenue (note: this was back in Q2 of 2008 :)) and at my wits end of dealing with external USB drives, I finally gave in and said “screw it, you get a healthy budget… go build a rock solid virtualization rig.
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    Blog: PSA: My social networking / contact method TOS

    Man that blog title sounds so darn official! A public service announcement (PSA) for my terms of service (TOS)? That’s not how I mean it to sound, but it will at least catch someone’s eye. The purpose of this post is to have something to point folks back to in the future and hope some people take note of it going forward. Like many other people, I’m on Twitter ( @andrewconnell ), Facebook and LinkedIn .
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    Blog: And now for a brief update...

    I usually don’t like blog posts that say “oh, I’ve been quiet lately… you’ll see more posts coming soon” because most of the time, those posts are a crock of bull as the authors never pickup the pace… but I feel like I need to drop a little message after a few inquiries and being so light on the posts the last few months… specifically since March. This might be a bit more therapeutic for myself, so please, indulge me for a moment (or mark this post as read in your RSS reader and move along)…
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    Blog: Made the switch back... no longer a Mac guy, now a Lenovo guy

    Back in late 2007 I went way outside my comfort zone and bought an Apple MacBook Pro . I loved that machine… fantastic form factor, great screen, fast… you name it… it was a great laptop. I did have some issues with it unfortunately, like this nasty issue where the keyboard and trackpad would die, but thanks to some great support (and three tries), they replaced it with a brand new machine .
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    Blog: Do you use music to zone out and be productive?

    For years I’ve always used music to get myself into the zone and be as productive as possible. It only works when I’m doing solitary stuff like development, writing a paper/article/book, or just knocking tasks out. At first I had to use headphones to not disturb others (our whole production room was silent with everyone blasting their headphones) then when I started working from home I was able to use my home office speakers.
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    Blog: Two thumbs up on the Amazon Kindle 2 after two weeks

    For my birthday two weeks ago, my wonderful wife got me the new Amazon Kindle 2 . After two weeks, I absolutely love it… more than I expected. I didn’t load it up with a ton of stuff… so far I’ve only bought a few things: subscriptions to the Wall Street Journal and USA Today , The Da Vinci Code (yes, I am the last one who hadn’t read it), my Pro MOSS 2007 WCM Development book (I just had to!
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    Blog: OK, so I do like Twitter... (I guess this is a mea culpa post)

    So a while ago I poked my head into the twitterverse and decided it just wasn’t for me … but after hearing so much about it… I decided to give it another fair shake about 4 months ago. I can say that now I’m actually enjoying this. Don’t get me wrong… it’s still a lot a noise. Twitter is very much like walking into a bar at happy hour and hearing EVERYONE’s conversation at once.
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    Blog: Florida Gators - National Champions AGAIN!!!!

    Just like two years ago , after winning the National Championship over the OU Sooners, it’s time for another Alma Mater from this Florida alum… Florida, our Alma Mater, thy glorious name we praiseAll thy loyal sons and daughters, a joyous song shall raise. Where palm and pine are blowing, where southern seas as flowing,Shine fourth thy noble gothic walls, they noble vine clad halls! ‘Neath the orange and blue victorious, our love shall never fail,There’s no other land so glorious, all hail, FLORIDA HAIL!
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    Blog: Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

    Here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays… stop reading blogs and go spend time with family! … but come back in a few days please. :)
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    Blog: SharePointReviews.com - Independent Consumer Reviews on SharePoint Related Products and Services

    When buying a car, lots of folks head to Consumer Reports . When I buy electronics, I go straight to CNET and Amazon to read their reviews, but most importantly, to see what customers are saying with respect to the pros and cons. Finally, we have something like this for SharePoint! SharePoint Reviews ( http://www.sharepointreviews.com/ ) does this just. It’s got a whole slew of SharePoint offerings provided by the now huge SharePoint ecosystem.
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    Blog: MSDN Developer Conference - Catch the best of PDC 2008 in Orlando and Atlanta!

    Miss PDC 2008 but live in the greater Orlando, FL or Atlanta, GA area? MSDN is bringing the best of PDC 2008 to you for just $99. I was blown away attending PDC 2008 and learning so much about the future of .NET and the cloud. Register today for the Orlando or Atlanta area (other cities offered as well): Orlando, FL - December 11, 2008 Atlanta, GA - December 16, 2008 ยป MSDN Developer Conference - PDC 2008 Recap
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    Blog: PDC 2008 - Day 4

    Ah… here I sit in the food court area where all the power is writing this last recap post, hanging with fellow SharePoint MVPs Spence , Andrew & Ben (only a few of us made it to this show). Kicked off the day with a session on REST & WCF where they announced the WCF REST Starter Kit . Next up I hit a pretty deep session on the Silverlight control model where the presenter was essentially going through the nuts and bolts on building reusable Silverlight controls and what’s involved in skinny and setting the states of the controls.
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    Blog: PDC 2008 - Day 3

    I kicked off Wednesday (day 3) at PDC with Spence hanging with Fitz & Steve from Nintext . Fitz took the time to show me Nintex Reporting & Nintex Workflow … two very slick products. If you’re looking for a reporting solution for your SharePoint farm (specifically getting a pulse on your deployment), you need to check it out. As for workflow… one word: WOW. I’m VERY impressed. If you’re looking for a slick workflow solution for users that provides more control and power than SharePoint Designer, but not involve developers like Visual Studio 2008, this is for you.
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    Blog: PDC 2008 - Day 2

    Day 2 brought two more keynotes and more sessions. The first keynote was awesome where we saw the new Windows 7, Visual Studio 2010 and a bit on Office. First off, Windows 7, was quite impressive. I walked away with the impression they are focused on working hard on the core and addressing some pain points with Vista. One of the coolest things I saw that SharePoint developers will like is native VHD creation & attachment.
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    Blog: PDC 2008 - Day 1

    The first real day @ PDC 2008 kicked off with the Ray Ozzie and friends keynote pimping Microsoft’s new offering: Windows Azure . There are plenty of others who’ve blogged in detail about this so if you’re interested in finding out the skinny, go check those posts out ( Sam Gentile has a good rollup post ). My take is that it is pretty much a game changer. Late in the day I went to a session that showed how to go about creating your first web application hosted in Azure.
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    Blog: PDC2008 - Day 0

    As my first PDC, I figured I’d blog a bit about my experiences. I arrived late Saturday night and headed straight to the hotel to crash. On Sunday AM I got up early to head to the LA conference center & register. Have to say I was quite taken back at how skimpy the attendee bag. Course I’m sure this has something to do with the fact that all attendees are going to get a 160GB USB drive (we don’t get to pick it up until Tuesday-Thursday for a limited 2hr window each day).
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    Blog: PDC 2008 - Here we go!

    I’m giddy… I feel like I did when I was a kid at the top of my stairs with my brother on Christmas morning waiting for my parents to give the all clear that we could race down to see what Santa left us. Two years ago when I went out on my own, I swore I’d go to PDC, but alas Microsoft cancelled it [for good reason]. Next week’s should be incredible… I can’t wait!
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    Blog: Trying Twitter out again...

    OK Joel , I’ll give Twitter another shake. This time around, it is easier for me to use & consume thanks to better apps ( TweetDeck & Twitterific ). So I’m trying it again under @andrewconnell .
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    Blog: Ah... AC is a happy boy... it's football season again!

    Finally… the season is back! College has been going for a week, but the NFL starts up for real this weekend (sans last Thursday night’s game). I LOVE football! My Florida Gators are in prime position to make a run for the national championship (I’ve got my tickets for the UF-UGA matchup on November 1 in Jacksonville… doing a red-eye back from PDC to make that game) and LSU in Gainesville with 90k strong Gator Nation in October.
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    Blog: I'm the rain man apparently...

    So I get swamped at home (Jacksonville, FL) last week from Tuesday through Saturday thanks to Tropical Storm Fay… then it rains all afternoon on Sunday when I fly out to Seattle. I get to Seattle and it’s raining for the two days I’m there, but it was nice when I flew out on Tuesday AM. On the way to San Antonio we stop in Houston where, sure enough, it was raining.
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    Blog: Using VMWare Server 2.0 RC1

    Last month I blogged my saga of building a rig dedicated just for hosting virtual machines. So far I have been incredibly happy with the hardware. In the last week I’ve been going through the process of consolidating physical machines into virtual ones. Today I have a physical machine that acts as my (a) home AD domain controller, (b) SQL Server, (c) file share and (d) host for virtual machines. For all that stuff it works great, except it’s a bit limited in size (trying to put virtual machines & a file share on 250GB requires some tradeoffs) and it only has 4GB RAM so it can only host one or two VMs at a time.
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    Blog: Apple's iPhone 3G is pretty darn impressive

    When the first iPhone came out I dismissed it pretty quick because I was addicted to my AciveSync DirectPush on my Windows Mobile (WM) 6 device and because the ATT network it was tired to is just slow. All the while I switched my MP3 player over to an iPod Touch and fell in love with the UI & iTunes. Then, upon hearing Apple was adding support for 3G, a GPS receiver and ActiveSync support made me come back and check it out.
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    Blog: Triple Boot Goodness on the MacBook Pro

    Last week I got a call from the local Apple store that my replacement MBP was in. This was to replace my lemon MBP where the keyboard & trackpad kept dying on me. Finally they caved and cried uncle giving me a brand new machine. Cool thing is that this is one of the Penryn based models that gives me multitouch on the trackpad (ala zoom via pinching the trackpad) and a motherboard that can handle 8GB (albeit not officially).
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    Blog: Following me on Twitter? I don't recommend doing that...

    Little public-service-announcement here. A few months back I created a Twitter account and followed a few friends. I gave it a chance… but personally I think Twitter is a grand waste of time. I know, many people disagree, but for me, it’s like walking into a bar at happy hour and hearing every single conversation at the same time. That’s not a positive… that’s a negative. It’s too much effort to get anything of value.
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    Blog: The Saga of an Ultimate Virtualization Rig: Part 3

    In part 1 of this series I explained the reasoning and background on why I’m building a virtualization rig. In that post I included my experience with trying to get an OOTB Dell PowerEdge 2900 III . In part 2 I discussed the parts, buildout and price list. In this post I want to talk about the setup, install and performance testing. Burnin: Testing power & heat (and fans) Setup of the vRig was a piece of cake.
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    Blog: The Saga of an Ultimate Virtualization Rig: Part 2

    In part 1 of this series I explained the reasoning and background on why I’m building a virtualization rig. In that post I included my experience with trying to get an OOTB Dell PowerEdge 2900 III . In this post I want to cover parts. The next part will be more about setup and installation of the virtualization software. Before electing to build a new machine, I did consider getting a MacPro and installing VMWare Fusion on it.
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    Blog: The Saga of an Ultimate Virtualization Rig: Part 1

    Early last year Scott Hanselman & Jeff Atwood set out to build the “Ultimate Developer PC” for Scott. It was an entertaining series of posts on both blogs ( check out this post for links to all the other posts ). As someone who works exclusively out of a home office (except when onsite or teaching obviously) I’ve been eyeing doing something similar over the last two years. But as a SharePoint developer who doesn’t do so much gaming, I was more interested in a virtualization rig rather than a dev rig… things like graphics are of zero importance to me.
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    Blog: Change is good: thanks and good luck Bill!

    Funny how so many of these media stories and blog posts out there focus on Bill Gates leaving Microsoft last week and not nearly as much as dedicating more of his time towards his foundation. I think this is a fantastic move all around… for Microsoft, their customers, the Gates Foundation and the world. I don’t know Bill or never had the chance to meet him or can claim to know him so I won’t say that it’s good for him.
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    Blog: A Windows guy using a MacBook Pro: six months later

    Last December (12/2007) I ditched my Dell D820 and made the jump over to a MacBook Pro . Its now been just over six months since I made the switch and thought I’d pass a few thoughts off to those who are considering making the switch. First, I still love this machine. The only regret, and I’m not sure if this is really a regret, is that I went for the 15" over the 17".
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    Blog: Just watched the space shuttle Discovery from my front yard 140 miles away.... how cool is that?

    Subject says it all. Cape Canaveral is 140 miles south of my house. You can watch the shuttle launch on TV… wait about 5-10 seconds and then walk out in the front yard to see it streak across the Atlantic on it’s way over Africa for about 10 seconds. I can’t see the booster rocket separation, but you know when it happens because that’s essentially where the visible smoke trail and engine’s are no longer visible.
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    Blog: Into astronomy? Check this incredible experience from MSR: WorldWide Telescope

    The subject says it all… got about 30 minutes to burn? Check this site out, download the client and fire it off. I’ve gone through 3 guided tours (see toolbar at the top of the app) and I’m hooked! DISCLAIMER: this is a HORRIBLE link to hit if you have a ton of work on your plate and are into astronomy. Thank goodness I didn’t look at it last night when I was on deadline and up until 3a shipping code!
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    Blog: Safari on Windows has some slick Web developer utilities

    So I let the little Apple software update install the latest Safari v3.x on Vista on my MBP this weekend. In a client gig today someone was looking at this blog on ZDNet which prompted us to gather around and check out Safari on my machine. HOLY CRAP, I’m WAY impressed. Check out the perf. numbers on Safari over the others! The coolest part has to be the developer Web inspector.
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    Blog: WHS: Don't you just love it when stuff just works as advertised?

    We’ve got your typical geek household: two Media Centers, a server which acts as a DC-file share-virtual machine host, another older tower used as the home PC, a laptop or two and my wife’s work laptop. She’s got an iPod, I’ve got my Zune. I’ve been paranoid about losing my data as I’ve had it happen twice over the last ten years. Even more so, since we ripped all our CD’s to MP3’s, buy most of our music online and more importantly, all the pictures and videos of our son… all that stuff lives on two machines for fault tolerance.