Andrew Connell

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  • Published on

    Blog: Two Weeks with a Surface Pro 4 and Windows 10

    Don’t get any ideas… I’m still very happy with my MacBook Pro and not planning to switch anytime soon. Spoiler alert: my MacBook Pro is still my primary & preferred machine I still prefer OSX over Windows. A few weeks ago I got really lucky had a very good weekend playing on DraftKings … like real lucky. I thought to myself how nice it would be to have a machine for native Visual Studio based work.
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    Blog: Finding that Device Sweet Spot

    Desktops, laptops, ultra portables, tablets, mini tablets, phones… with so many choices out there it’s hard to find your device sweet spot. Over the years I’ve tried just about everything and I think I’m finally coming to the conclusion of what works best for me. The other day I wrote a blog post that gave the impression to many from what I saw on Twitter that I was dismissing the Surface RT.
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    Blog: Moving my Phone from Office 365 to Skype

    As someone who works from home but spends a solid amount of time on the road, one thing I’ve wanted to have is a good business phone solution. I don’t like giving my cell phone out to every single vendor or being a contact point, rather I prefer to have a “office line.” For years I used Vonage as my phone, but that was like a regular phone… it was just VOIP.
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    Blog: After 8 Months, My Thoughts About the Surface RT

    It’s now been roughly 8 months since I got my 64GB Surface RT last October and I thought now would be a good time to provide some perspective after it’s had some serious usage. In recent days there’s been a lot of poor press on Windows RT and the RT devices including these stories on ZDNet: Mary Jo Foley - Microsoft’s $900M Surface RT Write-Down: How Did This Happen? Matt Baxter-Reynolds - Surface RT Sets the New Gold Standard in Hubris Agam Shah - Lenovo Drops Yoga 11 Hybrid with Windows RT from its Online Sales None of these spell good news for Windows RT.
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    Blog: Microsoft SurfaceRT Review 3+ Months Later (Even After Using a SurfacePro)

    First some context… I preordered a SurfaceRT 64GB model when they were first available with the Touch keyboard. After getting it, my wife liked it so much we got one for her as well. We both also have a Bamboo capacitive stylus… something we both thought we’d use more than we actually do. These have tablets 100% replaced the 1st Generation iPads we both used (related news, the kids think they got brand new iPads this past Christmas).
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    Blog: My Blog Engine and Design has Served Me Well, But its Time for a Big Change

    Over nine years ago I started this blog on an open source engine (.Text v0.94). I was using one of the out-of-the-box skins which served me well for a while. Then Phill Haack picked it up, forked the source and created the engine SubText . I can’t recall when I moved over to SubText, but it was a painless move being that SubText was really just a fork of .Text.
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    Blog: Lync + BusyLight = Great Solution for the Home Office

    A while ago I saw a post by Scott Hanselman about this little thing called BusyLight that he found for Lync . The concept is simple: a little orb lights up different colors based on your presence status on Lync. Lync is smart enough to automatically flag you as busy when your calendar says you’re in a meeting or if your Lync is tied to your telephone ( as mine is with the Office 365 Lync-to-Phone service ), it flags you as busy when you’re on a call.
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    Blog: Lenovo Laptops and Windows 8 - Are you too Suddenly Seeing BSOD's such as when Coming out of Sleep?

    A few weeks back I did a few updates on my laptop and everything seemed to be fine. But then I started seeing BSOD’s on my Lenovo w520 that has Windows 8 Pro x64 installed. I did some troubleshooting and came up blank. Ends up with the help of someone in the Microsoft community site, we identified, isolated and resolved the issue: The latest Intel Storage Drivers provided by Intel have lots of issues with them, specifically waking laptops coming from sleep.
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    Blog: Product Review: Microsoft Surface RT

    Disclaimer: This is not a provided device from Microsoft. This is my device that I bought. I got an iPad (first gen) a few months after it came out and never upgraded to a more current one because I didn’t see much value-add from version to version that was worth the cost. For me it was only good as a content consumption device to read blogs or movies or play games.
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    Blog: Product Review: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

    Disclamer: This is not a provided device from Amazon. This is my device that I bought. I feel like I have to say this with so many bloggers now being paid to do product reviews which, IMHO, is absurd. At any rate… Years ago I got a Kindle 2nd Edition, the second white one, and immediately fell in love with it. Aside from my phone, it was the one device that was always with me on every trip and anytime I had to wait (doctor appointment, car service, etc).
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    Blog: After a month+, loving Windows 8... looking forward to a tablet!

    First, some context. I’m a bit of a road warrior that works out of a home office. I’ve got a Lenovo ThinkPad w520 with dual SSD’s and 16GB RAM as I need to run VMs and teach/present so the speed is important. When I’m at home I leave my laptop docked and use two 27" LCDs but when on the road, I’m just using the laptop or presenting on a monitor/screen.
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    Blog: Converting all your non-MP3 files to MP3's with VLC, PowerShell and TagLib

    Last weekend I was poking around my music collection on my server and noticed a bunch of artists and albums not showing up in my library. In this post I explain how I fixed it.
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    Blog: Amazon Kindle Fire - It just isn't for me

    It’s now been a few months since I got one of the first Amazon Kindle Fire’s (see previous review posts here & here ) and I’ve come to a conclusion: it just isn’t for me. I’ve switched back to my iPad (1st gen) for my tablet experience. Why? Two core reasons that I touched on in my last review: Performance: To put it simply, there’s a reason the entry-level iPad is $300 more than the Kindle Fire.
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    Blog: Authenticating and Working with the Salesforce REST API and OAuth

    In the past I’ve complained about the Salesforce SOAP API for reading/writing your CRM databases. Last year Salesforce added a new API, one founded on RESTful principals, for developers to work with. I wish it was implemented as an OData service, but I guess the Salesforce guys are stuck behind the times. At any rate, I had a need to read/write to a Salesforce instance and couldn’t bear to use their SOAP API again so I decided to give the REST API a go.
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    Blog: Amazon Kindle Fire - 2 Months Later

    When I saw the presser months ago with Jeff Bezos, someone I highly respect in this business and one of the few true visionaries, I jumped and did what I try not to do and make an impulse purchase on something that expensive. When I got it I loved it, gave it a few days and wrote a review I posted here . Now after two months, I wanted to post some more thoughts.
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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: 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: SharePoint 2010 Development-What's in your rig?

    Back in November 2009 after getting a bunch of requests I elected to put a post up that explained the hardware I use when doing day-to-day SharePoint 2010 Development . Seems that was quite popular… but recently I’ve been getting the same question a lot in my classes with people asking if that old it still applied. So I figure it is about time to refresh this. Forward I’d like to break this down into two categories.
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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: 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: 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: 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: 5th Annual Jacksonville Code Camp - Saturday, August 29th (open call for speakers)

    The 5th annual Jacksonville Code Camp is coming up… just under two months away! This year’s event will be held at University of North Florida and like all others, is free to all who want to register! Make sure you register early… it’s sure to “sell out” with an average attendance of 300+ in previous years. I’m helping them arrange a SharePoint track of sessions if we get enough speakers. Interested?
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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: Get hip to Mesh... it rocks!

    I’m surprised how many people aren’t familiar or using Mesh yet. I’ve found Mesh to be one of the coolest and most useful things I’ve started using in a while. For me, Mesh does two things, and does them very well. First, it allows you to create a “shared” folder across multiple machines as well as a Web desktop. For instance, I created a folder called “SharePoint Utilities” where i keep the small apps and PowerShell scripts I use on all my SharePoint tools like SharePoint Manager 2007 , the Content Deployment Wizard , Reflector , SPDiposeCheck and other stuff.
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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: Creating a Custom and Quiet Virtualization Rig with Microsoft's Hyper-V

    As a professional who’s primary focus these days is SharePoint, like most folks I live in virtual machines. That’s usually meant working with Microsoft’s VirtualPC or VMWare Workstation on my laptop on a daily basis when working on projects, demo’ing to customers, doing presentations and teaching. While performance was never ideal, it was acceptable and just settled with running one machine at a time even on a 4GB laptop. While unrelated, as I don’t work for a large organization and thus, work out of my house, I got tired of having a few machines running in the home office for various things.
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    Blog: Creating a Custom and Quiet Virtualization Rig with Microsoft's Hyper-V

    Earlier this year I built a custom server with a few goals in mind: Very powerful & capable of running multiple machines for an extended time Must be quiet Fault tolerant Not requiring a hardware upgrade for a few years The specs for this box have made it something that’s turned into a great business expense as I’ve got so much use out of it. It’s a nice strong machine that runs VERY quiet:
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    Blog: My Geek's Christmas Present Recommendations

    So I see I’ve been tagged by both pals Nick Swan and Spencer Harbar for geek Christmas recommendations. So, these are the geek things I have that I absolutely love. All are for the road warrior, like me, except one that I’ve extracted the most value out of. APCAmazon link I love this thing… we’ve all got devices that are powered via USB from phones to games to bluetooth headsets to MP3 players.
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    Blog: A slick free drive imaging solution

    Last week I posted about doing a rebuild of my laptop so that I could run Leopard, Vista x64 and Windows Server 2008 x64 in a triple boot fashion, as well as run Vista virtually in Leopard via VMWare Fusion. I really like doing presentations & demos of SharePoint natively off the bare metal for performance reasons. However the challenge was having a reliable imaging solution. Thankfully I found something with the help of my friend Dan Holme : the Windows Installation Automation Toolkit .
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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 » 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: TechEd North America 2009 - Back to the 1 week format

    THANK GOODNESS! I hated the 2 week format the moment I heard about it . Well it looks like next year’s TechEd in Los Angeles has been switched back to one week! The new date is May 11-15, 2009. Wahoo!!!! » Microsoft TechEd 2009: Move back to 1-week format
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    Blog: PDC 2008 Session Agenda / Timeline Posted

    I hope all Microsoft conferences do it this way from here on out. Check out how the calendar was setup: https://sessions.microsoftpdc.com/timeline.aspx There’s this cool timeline where you can see all sessions going on for a whole day in a matrix with the sessions you’ve selected colored in. Then you’ve got a list of all the sessions that day at the bottom (where you can also select them) and see their details.
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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: I'm all geeked up about PDC 2008!

    With PDC 2008 around the corner, I’m all kinds of geeked up! You see, I’m a PDC virgin. I never could get approval to go to PDC at former jobs… frankly it was hard to justify it. When I went out on my own almost 2 years ago, one thing I said to myself was “I’m going to PDC no matter what” as I had no boss to check with (well, except the one at home).
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    Blog: So what's on your SharePoint development machine?

    Occasionally I get a comment from someone who hit an old page on my blog called What’s on My PC… an oldie that others were doing at the time. In the last few weeks I’ve been hit by a higher than normal amount of these in part due to my Setting up your SharePoint development environment post at the end of August. After migrating my virtualization rig to Hyper-V last week , I build out a brand new clean SharePoint development machine.
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    Blog: In search of ISA experts... want a free MSDN Team Suite subscription?

    So I’m trying to setup ISA on my home network… but not as a firewall. There are just two things I want: VPN server - I’ve got stuff hosted inside my home network that I’d like to gain access to while remote, but not expose it. Such as source control, network shares, personal WSS sites used for organization and storage of stuff… etc. So basically all I want is to connect using the OOTB Vista client connection, using my home AD login, and be assigned an IP on my private network and act like I’m at home.
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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: 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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