January 26, 2014

Hot Tub Time Machine

Hot Tub Time Machine
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for January 26, 2014

Back in November, I was in Austin, Texas with Uncle Cliff Nelson.  We went to see Portugal The Man during a taping of the PBS music concert TV Show, Austin City Limits.  Our episode is showing on the air in Minnesota on February 2nd and can be seen on their website here:  http://video.klru.tv/video/2365157779/  Uncle Cliff and I can be seen on the program at the 25 minute 24 second point.  Here's a screen shot I took.  I've never felt so famous in my entire life!

On Monday night, I joined my old Nor-Tech co-workers for the Steve "Cuds" Cuddihy Fantasy Football Awards ceremony.  It was good seeing the old gang.  I was a little sad because I didn't win any awards this year.  My team had Adrian Peterson, Alfred Morris, and Frank Gore, but that just didn't cut it.  Aaron Rodgers got hurt for most of the season which killed my chances.  Dang Packers.

Luke and Avery have been actively involved with the Prior Lake High School robotics team, KING TeC.  They are hard at work developing their new robot for upcoming competitions.  Last year the team made it to the finals at the World Championships in St. Louis, Missouri and are hoping to have a repeat of that success this year.  It's going to be quite the challenge because this year's competition looks pretty tough.  Here's the video introduction:

On Saturday night, we had our friends, The Walters Family, over for pizza and a dip in the hot tub.  They are transplants from Florida so convincing them to put on their swimsuits and go outside when the temperature was near zero was a bit of a challenge.  Jen got it in her head that our spa was like the one from the movie Hot Tub Time Machine and if we went in it we'd be transferred back to a party in the eighties.  I just went along with it so we could get them in the water.

I told the boys I was going to put this picture on Facebook and this was their reaction.

The kids were the first ones in the tub.  When we were sure they weren't getting frost bite, we decided it was safe enough for the adults to give it a try.  It's nice to be able to use the kids this way.

Despite the fact that it was pretty cold and we were still somewhat wet, Jen and I thought it would be fun to have Miss Sheri take our pictures while standing in the snow.  It was fun until Miss Sheri thought it would be cool to throw snow at us.  We decided to go inside pretty quickly after that.

January 21, 2014

SanDisk, Diablo Intro ULLtraDIMM Flash Storage, Claims Performance Better Than PCIe

Todd Swank, senior director of product marketing at Equus Computer Systems, a Minneapolis-based system builder, said he is looking forward to seeing ULLtraDIMM come to the broader channel. 

"For certain products like high-performance computing, the performance of ULLtraDIMM could be amazing," Swank said, adding "200 to 400 GBs capacity? That's huge. It will be interesting to see how it is priced." 

How quickly a technology like ULLtraDIMM is adopted depends on the price and performance ratio, Swank said. "I'm guessing it will be pretty expensive," he said. "But there is always going to be someone who will want that performance." 

Swank said it is fun to watch the evolution of flash storage technology. 

"The SATA SSD market is coming to the end, and SAS will become the mainstream," he said. "PCIe is next. Where do you go from there? Putting flash storage on the memory bus, like ULLtraDIMM. After that? Could Intel (NSDQ:INTC) someday put SSDs in the processor? It's kind of crazy."

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January 19, 2014

Memories of the Minnesota Zoo

Memories of the Minnesota Zoo
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for January 19, 2014

Our membership to the Minnesota Zoo is about to expire, so we thought we'd head there one more time for a trip down memory lane.  We've been going to the zoo with the boys since before they could walk.  I remember a time when our whole family could fit into one of these shark tank viewing holes.  That's not quite possible any more.  We're all just too big.

When Avery was just starting to learn how to walk, I had brought him over to this tide pool for him to reach in and touch the live starfish contained in the tank.  Somehow, I lost my grip on him while he was reaching forward and he fell face first into the water.  By the time I pulled him out, the whole top part of his body had been submerged.  Needless to say, he wasn't a happy camper.  We thought it would be fun to re-enact that scene, although Avery wasn't willing to get his hair wet this time.

We covered all of the indoor exhibits and even stepped outside for a few of the outdoor ones.  The animals still on display were quite active running around their frozen enclosures.  I figured they must have been trying to stay warm.  It's gotta be a long winter for all them critters.

The bears have the right idea sleeping until Spring.  The sign says that they could be awakened so technically they weren't hibernating, but when I knocked on the window I could barely get them to grunt.  Seemed like they were hibernating to me.

Pretty Bird!

On Saturday night, we went to Benihana with the Zitzewitz Family.  Nothing like a little Yum Yum sauce to celebrate good times with friends!!  I sure do love their shrimp.


After our wonderful experience with the Tepanyaki cuisine, we headed over to Dave and Buster's to kill some nasty zombies.  We've been battling them quite awhile on our phones and TV's at home, but for some reason they just keep coming and we try to do our part to rid the earth of this menace.  You can thank us later.

On Sunday night, we went to Grandma Linda's for a home cooked family dinner.  We've been bugging her to have us over for awhile and finally she caved and hooked us up with some roast, baked beans, corn, and Steiner Diner Hash Browns.  Good stuff, Mom!

Ailing SSD Pioneer OCZ Gets Approval To Sell To Toshiba

Todd Swank, senior director of product marketing at Equus Computer Systems, a Minneapolis-based system builder, said there are only a few SSD makers with their own memory business, and that Toshiba's move to acquire OCZ shows the importance of having the kind of scale needed to compete in this business.

"Memory manufacturers will have the advantage over those who don't make their own memory chips," Swank said. "OCZ was a pioneer, but no memory maker. Big companies will want to grow as a market like this matures. And it will come down to who has economies of scale and who can produce SSDs for the lowest cost." 

For custom systems builders, having more competition, in general, is a good thing, Swank said. 

"But it's hard to manage relationships with 10 suppliers," he said. "If there are too few choices, prices tend to rise. But we're nowhere near that yet with SSDs."

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January 12, 2014

California Video Shoot

California Video Shoot
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for January 12, 2014

On Wednesday, I hopped on a jet plane for a quick trip to City of Industry, California to help shoot a video for work.  I always forget there's mountains until I get there.  They sure are pretty.

I was there to spend a couple of day's in my company's California Office.  I had the chance to spend some time with my co-workers and spent all day Thursday shooting promotional videos for our webstore, www.serversdirect.com.  I also had a few minutes outside enjoying the seventy degree weather and sunshine and wondering why the heck it is again that I live in Minnesota?

The videos consisted of footage of our production center and work processes as well as hour long interviews of my co-workers and I which will be edited into a bunch of short videos covering many different topics.  My boss, Dave, went first to set the tone which made me glad.  I didn't want to set the tone.  I'm too hyper for that.

My co-worker, Tim, also made the trip with us and did the interviews as well.  He's a really smart guy who is our Director of Field engineering and has designed mega-servers for companies like Netflix.  I kept telling people the only reason I was there was because the camera loves me and they needed me to pretty up the video.  Not sure if anyone believed that or not.

We had some unique eating experiences again while we were there including going out with our good friend, Wayne from Microsoft, to an All You Can Eat Korean BBQ.  It was interesting because the waitress kept bringing us different kinds of meat to grill in the middle of our table.  At least I think it was meat.

When I came home I was sad to see that we still had snow on the ground and the lakes were still frozen.  How long does this winter thing last again?

January 5, 2014

Celebrating the 2014 New Year in Minnesota

Celebrating the 2014 New Year in Minnesota
Todd Swank's Diary Update for January 5, 2014

We celebrated the new year with our good friends, The Zitzewitz Family.  This is Tina and her mom and they were a bunch of fun with which to ring in 2014.  We even made it to the Central time countdown to midnight this year rather than cheating and leaving after the countdown in Time Square an hour earlier like we did last year.  Our stamina must be improving.

Karl's dad brought along a bottle of Mezcal to the celebration.  It tastes like Tequila if Tequila had been poured out, set on fire, and then put back in the bottle.  There was even a worm at the bottom of the bottle which I was hoping to have a chance to eat because I hear they have mystical properties.  However, after having one sip of this fire water I knew I was going to be of no help in getting that little guy close to the surface.  So that worm is just going to have to wait for a different new year some time in the future.

On Saturday night, we had dinner with our friends the Walters Family.  The kids wanted to play charades after we done, even though I begged them to let us just play a card game so I could relax at the dinner table.  The kids won.

I'm glad the kids talked us into it, because it ended up being a lot of fun.  Even though I didn't do very well, although I really don't think it was my faults.  I mean how could me team not know I was doing "The Mighty Ducks" here?

Dan did a great job telling his team that the character he was trying to portray had a mustache.  Either that or I caught him smelling his fingers before his turn began.  I really can't remember.

Jen was an incredible competitor and impressed us all when she was able to flex her legs in just the right way so she could actually start levitating high above the ground.  It's a skill I think she should find a use for outside of charades.

January 1, 2014

2013 Ends On High Note For PC Device Channel Sales

For Todd Swank, senior director of product marketing at Equus Computer, a Minneapolis-based systems builder, his Windows XP customers are preparing for the switch to Windows 7. In April, Microsoft will no longer be providing Windows XP support, said Swank. 

"Microsoft is officially going to stop supporting the product, which means no more service updates and patches, and customers' PCs won't be protected after April 8," Swank said. "That has contributed to the uptake of strong PC sales primarily because their PCs are running on XP, and customers need to move to a current operating system like Windows 7 or 8." 

As the market gets more competitive with differentiated and robust offerings from Apple, Google and Microsoft, 2014 will be even more valuable for distributors and resellers, said Swank. 

"[With] the economy and stock market improving, [it] gives confidence to people to spend," said Swank. "Competitiveness keeps this game exciting to differentiate your products and offerings."

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