Jul 25

Can technology save my day?

I recently went to Toronto to attend the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, a conference of some 16,000 Microsoft partners. At this event I found an unlikely saviour for a problem that has been dogging my digital life for some time now.

First off, I am a music lover. I love all sorts of music from speed and thrash to classical to folk to – well you get the picture. A few years ago the Most Beautiful Emma (MBE) decided that, as I was no longer a bachelor and was no longer commuting to work in a car in which I could listen to the thousands of songs I own, she would buy me an Apple iPod.

At first, the idea of an iPod didn’t work well with me. Yet another piece of kit I had to make a pocket available for, just another thing to worry about charging. It wasn’t until MUCH later that I discovered the “Genius” feature and that changed my world.

Since discovering an easy way to wade through my 27k strong music collection at the push of a button, I have moved from my iPod being an interesting device in my life to it being an essential device in my life.

Weirdly, I don’t buy any music from iTunes, I buy it all from www.play.com as that way it is downloadable, the data is correct and if by some chance there is a stuff up, I can simply download it again. I also buy from the Microsoft Marketplace for similar reasons. No proprietary formats and already bought and paid for is still available for download.

Zune Player

While Microsoft Marketplace is pretty damned cool and I LOVE the Zune software player, it simply doesn’t work with my iPod. Don’t get me wrong, I love my windows phone and I owned a Zune device years ago, but my Zune was doomed and my Windows phone only has 16 GB of available space. 16GB simply isn’t enough for me, I need 138GB at least. This is because I am fundamentally lazy. I want all my music available at all times and I don’t want to have my phone run out of power because of my regular lengthy train trips.

So I happily continue to use the iPod together with the worst software of all time, iTunes, purely so that I can take advantage of the Genius feature.

So this all sounds pretty decent right?

Well it was until February when I decided to move all of my data off of my laptop’s primary drive and onto an external USB so that I could replace the 500GB SATA drive with an ultra fast 128GB SSD drive.

The company I work for has some pretty darned strict security policies, we have to, we hold sensitive data for millions of people, and I was afforded a bit of leeway with regards to accessing an external USB device because of the size of my SSD drive.

Sadly, a month later the SSD drive fritzed completely and I was left with a much smaller 250GB SATA drive as that was all that was available for me at that time. I could have waited for a larger drive, but I am too impatient for that and in truth my music was all stored on an external drive so I wasn’t too worried.

That was until I got home, tried to access my USB drive and discovered that our security policies no longer permitted me to do so. Nor would my laptop recognize my iPod. No amount of huffing and puffing would get anyone to change the fact that USB devices are dangerous to allow to connect to your machine and that my reason for accessing wasn’t work related.

To add insult to injury, I had just finished my first resync of my iPod and the iTunes I installed on the SSD drive and had not yet run Genius. So my iPod has effectively been “bricked”. Lots of music on it, but none of the “cool” I so desperately want.

So where does WPC feature in this story?

Simple, at WPC I attended a Windows 8 Launch session and was given a pretty decent bit of swag, a 32GB USB key drive containing “Windows 8 to go”.

You might ask – “How does that help?”

A good question for sure.

First off, my general rule of thumb with swag is that it belongs to Griffin. He always emulates me and wants to work at Mimecast, so I figured giving him a USB key would do me no harm and might actually score me some additional brownie points.

You see, Griffin is not allowed to work on my computer. I know it sounds draconian, but he likes to go onto the Internet and just type random shit and click away from there. He has no idea where he is clicking too and will follow any link that seems interesting alternatively he types “free online games” into the search bar and follows whatever comes up.

I can’t risk him installing a virus or something on my work computer so he is effectively banned unless I co-drive with him.

He has owned two of his own hand me down laptops and will no doubt own my Microsoft Surface when it comes, but for now, he has to borrow mine or Emma’s if he wants to “work” on the Internet.

So giving him the bootable Windows 8 to go allows me to let him use my computer without him being able to do ANY damage to my work PC. In fact, he is so chuffed that he can take his computer anywhere that he makes sure we all know about it.

Flash back to my problems…

Griffin playing games on “his” Windows 8 laptop…

Windows 8 to go is a full blown Windows 8 bootable OS. I can install apps into it and I can do so without any involvement from the security folk at work. I can turn this piece of hardware into both a home computer AND a work computer! I already store most of my files in online containers so they will be accessible no matter what…

Yes its not as convenient as having everything in one, but it does mean that I can satisfy my home user needs while not impacting on my office user obligations.

I am pretty sure that Microsoft meant for the Win 8 to go model to be used the other way… Work OS on the key chain and personal stuff on the hardware, but I like this arrangement.

Anyway, I can now install iTues on the key drive, connect my external USB drive and activate Genius!

And all that without once doing anything to break work’s confidence in the security of my system.

Realistically speaking, most of what I o is web based, so I can access personal things or work things via the web anyway and my laptop becomes nothing more than a glorified terminal.

Gotta love the cloud 🙂