October 27, 2013

Luke and Avery's Affirmation of Baptism

Luke and Avery's Affirmation of Baptism
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for October 27, 2013

On Tuesday night, we had the opportunity to enjoy the first band concert of the Prior Lake High School 9th grade band.   It was harmonious. 

Luke still plays the percussion although here it looks like he may be plotting a prank instead.  Hopefully, it doesn't involve toilet paper or pumpkin smashing.  

Avery is still horning in on playing the trombone.  He keeps talking about quitting band, but we're hoping he doesn't follow through on that because I really don't think there's nearly enough tromboners in the world.  This also may be why he wants to quit.  He hates when I refer to him as a tromboner.

After the concert, the students had to go in to the gym to pose for their yearbook photo.  I had no idea the group was so square. but it appears they really fit well together.

On Friday night, we headed to our church for a weekend full of activities for us to prepare for Luke and Avery's Affirmation of Baptism.  It was a nice chance for us to review the boy's spiritual journey over the past four years of confirmation classes and get to hold hands and pray around a candle.  A very nice weekend indeed!

We are very proud of them going through this process!

We had a couple of Grandmas join us for the ceremony and they were pretty proud of them also.

As a matter of fact, there were a lot of kids there getting confirmed and they had plenty of proud family members there as well.  Believe it or not, this is only half the number of kids who were confirmed this year at Luke and Avery's church.  The other half were confirmed at the later service.

Our little babies are almost all growed up now.  

Driving home from church, we saw this puppy dog going for a ride in his owner's backpack.  We debated if the dog loves it or is terrified by doing this.  I think we settled on that the dog loves it!

On Saturday night, the boys went to a Halloween party at a friend's house.  The thing I like the least about them going to high school is I no longer get invited to parties with them any more.  No Fair!

October 20, 2013

Bowling and Pool

Bowling and Pool
Todd Swank's Diary Update for October 20, 2013

Friday night we went bowling.  It just seemed like the thing to do.  We wanted to go golfing, but realized that wasn't possible due to the fact that it gets dark so early now and it's cold outside.  So our after work activities now will be moving indoors for awhile.

Luke can't find his ball.  I wonder if someone hid it.

Sunny is sad that his swimming days are numbered since winter is right around the corner.

On Saturday we discovered a new fun place to visit.  It's called Brambillas in Shakopee, Minnesota.  They sell RVs of all shapes and sizes and the showroom is full of all kinds of them to explore.

I could totally see Miss Sheri and I doing this in 10 - 15 years.  Except hopefully we'll be outside.

On Saturday night, our good friends the Walters Family came over for a visit.  We invited them to play pool, but I'm not going to talk about that since Jen beat me in the last game of the evening!

The kids are becoming pretty proficient at billiards also.  Won't be long until we can start hosting regular tournaments!    

October 17, 2013

Microsoft Partners Say Windows 8.1 Improvements Could Lure More Users

With Windows 8, many users were put off by the major user interface changes Microsoft introduced that seemed to mash together elements designed for tablets and PCs. 

Todd Swank, senior director of product marketing for Equus, a Minnetonka, Minn.-based system builder, thinks Windows 8 is a solid OS that got a bad rap. The Start button and expanded feature set should give people plenty of incentive to buy Windows 8.1 PCs, Swank said.

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October 15, 2013

Intel's Q3 Revenue, Earnings Flat As Data Center Growth Meets PC Decline

The Intel results make sense given the changes going on in the IT industry, said Todd Swank, senior director of product marketing at Equus Computer Systems, a Minneapolis-based system builder. 

"Channel-wise, the data center business seems to be the best fit going forward," Swank said. "There's lots of competition in the mobile and PC market, but lots of opportunities for the server business. We have already aligned our business accordingly, so we feel Intel is going in the right direction."

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October 13, 2013

Intel EPSD Leadership Conference 2013

Intel EPSD Leadership Conference 2013
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for October 13, 2013

It was time to fly again and this week I had the chance to visit a state I'd never been to before.  I went to Oregon.  Home of the Mighty Ducks and some mighty mountains.  It's also a state where it is illegal to pump your own gas.  They literally have an attendant at every gas station waiting to pump your gas for you.  Which is nice.  Pumping gas is really hard.

When we left the airport, my co-worker suggested we go a little bit out of our way before going to the hotel and see Multnomah Falls.  I'm so glad we did!  This waterfall was incredible!  One of the tallest I'd ever seen!  And best of all, it was full of water!! The thing never stopped pouring water over it the entire time we were standing there.  I have no clue who's paying for it, butI'm guessing  it has to be very expensive to run that much water for so long.

Then I saw this sign which made me realize the government was in charge of it and then it started making sense.  No wonder they keep running out of money if they're just going to keep wasting all that water!

This is my co-worker, Tim Poor.  He's our Director of Field Sales and is way more technical than I am.  He's also an expert on Portland having traveled here several times before.  It was his idea to visit the Falls and I'm so glad we did.  It was amazing to see such beautiful vegetation in the paths that led up to the majestic falls.  I would have loved the chance to spend more time here, because it really is spectacular.

But we weren't in Portland for sight-seeing.  We were here for the Intel EPSD Leadership Conference 2013.  It's a chance for Intel to meet with some of their large customers and showcase what technology is coming out in the next couple of years so they can get feedback on their plans at an early stage.  We met with people throughout their server hardware division and learned all sorts of cool stuff.  Unfortunately, none of which I can share here else the black limosines will pull up outside of my house and take me away forever.

Although we weren't offered a tour of their new Fab, we did stop by early one night to sneak a peek.  According to this article, Intel is expcted to spend at least $3 Billion dollars building additional capacity which will give them an additional 2.5 million square feet of space to build chips.  There were more cranes than I've ever seen in one place at a time and the place was humming with activity.  It was pretty cool to witness how a world class manufacturer like Intel creates their factories.

The two days we were there were filled with meetings from 7am to 10PM.  On Wednesday night, we attended the Portland Trailblazers/Phoenix Suns pre-season basketball game.  Intel had a great suite for a big group of us to enjoy the game.

This was my first time going to a pre-season basketball game between two teams I don't follow, but it was exhilerating.  At least for the few minutes I watched it.  Most of the time I was in the suite networking with other computer people.

While I was out of town, our backyard project went through its next phase.  The landscaper brought in a whole bunch of mud and started regrading the whole thing.  I wasn't here, but I'm hoping seeing this made Miss Sheri feel kind of dirty.

The cement slab was laid for the centerpiece of the project which will be delivered soon.  I asked the boys why they didn't put handprints in the cement when I came home, but they said that by the time they came home from school it was already hard.  So it's handless.  Just like most of  our family.

 By the time I came home, the landscaper was done and the cement had been laid.  I'm pretty happy with it, although I really wasn't expecting for our yard to now be yellow.  It's going to take some getting used to.  It must be a new style of doing lawns which I just haven't seen before.  At least it will match the house nicely.

On Saturday, the boys helped with a Food Drive in conjunction with the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Lions Club.  We usually do pretty good at these, but this was a banner year for sure!  They basically filled an entire truck full of food donations.  People are so nice and generous.

On Saturday night, we connected with some good friends for some snacks and really good conversations.  I miss these guys a lot, but it's nice that we can still get together from time to time to catch up on the Good Ole Days.

October 6, 2013

All the leaves are brown. That means Winter is Coming.

All the leaves are brown.  That means Winter is Coming.
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for October 6, 2013

I ran into a bit of a Seasonal Affective Disroder Wall this week.  I don't know if it was because October rolled around which means that summer is definitely over.  Or the fact that all the leaves and plants are dying. Most likely it's because now when I get home from work at the end of the day, it's too dark to go outside and do anything!   So Thursday night we said "Screw It" and decided to go for a family walk in the dark.

That worked out OK until we made our regular stop at the lake to throw the ball so Sunny can jump off the dock to swim after it.  Turns out it's pretty hard to find the ball in the dark.

I woke up on Saturday morning still feeling the blahs and walked out on my back porch.  I then saw this tree and realized how beautiful it was even though it's leaves are dying and will fall off one day soon.  I thought that maybe this means it's time to Let Go of summer and just focus on all the great fun we'll have this fall.  The holidays are coming and winter can even be kind of fun some times.  Right?  All right, who am I kidding?  Winter Sucks!

I don't know what's different this year, but for some reason we are having a banner crop of acorns!  These things have been falling from our trees constantly day or night for the past few weeks.  It's a little distressing when lying in bed in a quiet house and suddenly having one of these slam down on the roof.  It sounds like a squadroon of paratroopers just dropped down on us and is getting ready for the Swank Family Assault.  We've always had acorns, but for some reason I don't remember ever getting this many before.  I keep thinking there's gotta be a way for me to sell these things.  Do squirrels buy products on Ebay?

We decided to beat the rush on boat winterization which officially means our boating days are done for the year.  Feels like we just put it in the water for the first time, but I guess that's what happens when we get blizzards through the begining of May.

One of the highlights of the week was taking the family to see the movie Gravity with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.  My expectations weren't the greatest, but I was pleasantly surprised as it kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the film.  Never before have I experienced the feeling of what the risks the brave men and women who go into space take with each trip.  It was intense and well worth seeing!

Luke and Avery were fortunate enough to make the Prior Lake High School Robotics Team and part of the responsibility they received was to help the younger generation with the Lego Robotics league.  We joined them at one of their meetings to see how excited they were to get their robots moving for the first time.  I think this program is such a positive experience for children and think it's great that there are opportunities for them to get involved at younger and younger ages each year.

We found the boys back in the Cave with the older students.  Avery was helping build a set of stairs for the high school musical "Legally Blonde".  Not sure what scene these will be used for, but I'm guessing it will involve some character trying to go higher or lower at some point in the story.

October 4, 2013

Microsoft Says It's Not Stepping Up Its CES Presence

Microsoft needs to get back in front of people and get them excited about its products, Todd Swank, senior director of product marketing for Equus, a Minnetonka, Minn.-based system builder, told CRN. 

"Going to CES could help Microsoft get the buzz back. It would also be a good place for them to talk about how they're going to leverage the assets from Nokia," Swank said. 

When Microsoft announced in December 2011 plans to ditch its CES booth and pull out of the keynote slot, Frank Shaw, corporate vice president of corporate communications, explained that its product milestones typically didn't take place in the January time frame. Microsoft would instead look to connect with customers through Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft's retail stores, Shaw said at the time. 

 By sending more people to the upcoming CES and talking in more detail about devices, Microsoft could start building the kind of buzz that Apple enjoys, where it can generate buzz without even showing up.

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