July 31, 2014

SSD Developer NxGn Exits Stealth Mode To Join Crowded SSD Market

The SSD market today is vastly different from when sTec first came to market, said Todd Swank, director of product marketing at Equus Computer Systems, a Minneapolis-based system builder. 

 "Best of luck to them," Swank told CRN. "I'm not sure how they will separate themselves from companies like Intel or Samsung, which make SSDs and also the flash component inside them. And companies like Seagate that are moving into flash and who have years of storage relationships they are trying to get in." 

 A startup like NxGn likely has connections with enterprise customers they can leverage, Swank said. "But they're going up against some pretty well-funded competitors. We've got more people trying to sell us SSDs than we know what to do with."

Read Full Article Here:

July 27, 2014

A Birthday, A Wedding, A Roller Coaster, and A Graduation

A Birthday, A Wedding, A Roller Coaster, and A Graduation
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for July 27, 2014

On Sunday, I had another birthday and became 44 years old.  We went to Buca to celebrate.  Although I'm not real big on celebrating getting older!  Where did those 44 years go???

On Friday night, we went to the wedding reception for our neighbor's daughter, Jyll Ingvalson.  It was a beautiful reception and the bride looked stunning.  

Our neighbor, Jim, looked pretty stunning as well.

The reception was on campus at the University of Minnesota so we walked by TCF stadium to see where the Minnesota Vikings will be playing this fall.  The Vikings new stadium is being built so they'll be playing in this outdoor stadium for a couple of years.  We're buying tickets to a game but are sticking with earlier in the season because I have no desire to watch outdoor football in Minnesota in December!  Unless the Vikings are in the playoffs.  Then we'll tough it out!

On Saturday morning we visited Valley Fair to get some thrills.

The swings were a heck of a lot scarier than I remembered.  I kept feeling like I was going to spin over backwards.

Steel Venom was probably the funnest ride we went on that day.  Here's a quick video that Sheri shot which will show you a bit of the reason why.

On Saturday night, we went to the graduation party for Tyler Brown.  Tyler graduated from Prior Lake High School and will be going to Iowa State in the Fall.  Anybody going to live in Iowa is AOK in our book!

Tyler's dad is our old buddy and Gourmet Chef, Troy Brown.  Troy recently completed this amazing pizza oven that he built himself by hand!  I'm thinking it would have been a heck of a lot easier just to work out some kind of bulk purchasing with Domino's but I guess this is Troy's thing.

And after eating a bunch of slices of this delectable pizza, I can see why it's his thing.  It tasted absolutely incredible!

Luke's Heart Catheterization

Luke's Heart Catheterization
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for July 27, 2014

I'm behind on posting my diary entries.  So this one is technically about a week old.  I thought about skipping it, but it was a big week for my sons so I felt I needed to get it on the Blog.  Luke and Avery turned 15 on July 14th!  I can't believe how time flies!!

The only thing they wanted to do on their birthday was go get their driver's permits so they could start driving!  Not that their mother or I were in this big of a rush for them to get them.  

On the third night of driving, Luke had a bit of excitement as Sheri highlighted in this post on Facebook:

A big shout out to the Prior Lake Police Department for doing their job. They responded to a call that a 10 year old boy was driving in town. It was Luke! Yes, he is 15 and has his drivers permit and yes he's not tall. To the "concerned citizen" who broke a driving violation to follow us home, sit outside our house, and call the police, all is ok. You'll probably see us on the road soon. The officers were great! I am very proud of Luke. I know if I was 15 and that happened to me I would probably never want to drive again. Good thing Luke doesn't think that way. He's thinking he's gonna look 20 when he's 40!! Good attitude Luke!!!

The reason I wasn't with them for their birthday is because I was in Washington DC for the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference.  My company, Equus Computer Systems, won the award for Microsoft's OEM Named Partner of the Year and I was honored to accept the award on behalf of the company.  It was pretty exciting!

The other big event of the week was Luke's Heart Catheterization which I did come home to attend.   This is what I posted on Facebook that morning:

Please keep Luke in your thoughts and prayers today. 

He will be getting his heart cath at about 11am. 

I explained a little bit about why here: 


We were impressed with the hospital's new hand washing machine.  It was pretty soothing as it sprayed your hands with warm water and soap.  Although I had an overwhelming desire to go to the bathroom after using it.  I'm not sure why that was.

We spent the morning with Luke getting him prepared for his procedure and then prepared ourselves to go into the cath lab.  Obviously, they're pretty concerned with people not bringing germs in there.

We've brought Luke in too many rooms like this throughout his life and it never gets any easier.  these places are stressful!  Luke was somewhat awake, although pretty drugged up while he was transferred from his room bed to the lab table.  Then we got to give him kisses and encourage him while they administered the anesthesia.  Then we went to the waiting room to wait to hear from the doctor.

A few hours later we were pleased to see Luke and help him start to recover from the procedure.

The doctor was pleased with how Luke's heart looks and how well his surgeries he received as a baby have held up.  The doctors still have some things they want to check out with Luke so we will be going to a different doctor next month, but we're hoping we won't be making any more visits to any surgery rooms again any time soon.

Like I wrote on Facebook later that night, I guess we are where we've been since our boys were born. Thankful for every day we have together on this earth. We will live each day to the fullest and do our best to bring happiness to the people we encounter in life. None of us know what tomorrow will bring, so we just have to make the best of today.

The next night, Luke was feeling well enough for us to go on a boat ride.  Along the shore we saw one of our old friends, an Albino Squirrel.  Long time followers of my blog will remember that we've had albino squirrels appear in our lives pretty much ever since the boys were born.  They have followed us to two different houses and we've seen them around us ever since they were born in 1999.  Neither Sheri or I ever remembered seeing an albino squirrel in our entire lives before they were born, but they've always seemed to show up whenever one of our boys has had to deal with a surgery or other medical concern.  We like to think of them as our Guardian Angels and it sure was nice to see this guy to make us feel better about things.  Even if he did get attacked by a duck shortly after I took this picture.

July 20, 2014

Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2014 in Washington DC

Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2014 in Washington DC
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for July 20, 2014

Microsoft had their Worldwide Partner Conference 2014 in Washington DC earlier this week.  Here's some shots of some of the the sites nearby the event.

The Washington Monument and US Capitol as seen from the plane.

The White House

The Washington Monument

The US Capitol

We were at the convention center for most of the event.

There was something like 16,000 in town for the events.  These are only a few of the tables they had set up to feed that crowd.

I've been selling PCs for a living since 1993, but the times they are a changing.  Microsoft isn't very focused on PCs any more.  They are much more interested in talking about tablets and other devices.

And their phones!  Did you know Microsoft sold phones?  They are actually very cool, but it's been a slow go for them to gain traction in the US Marketplace.

The coolest thing I saw at the show was a 4K Ruggedized 20" Tablet from Panasonic.  Unfortunately there's not much 4K content out there yet, so $6 grand would be a pretty steep price to pay for this today.  But man, does it look sharp!

I enjoyed stopping by the Supermicro booth and seeing what cool new servers they're selling.  They're one of our biggest vendors at my company.

Microsoft provided us with a nice Happy Hour at the end of each day.  This guy seemed to be happy at his job.

The keynotes were very interesting.  Microsoft wants all it's partners to immediately forget about PCs, notebooks, and servers and start focusing on selling tablets and cloud services.  I gotta get on that.

Microsoft entertained us with some incredible musical acts like Gabriela Y Rodrigo.

And Buddy Guy and Quinn Sullivan.

Here's a couple of short clips featuring the music of WPC 2014.

During the oem dinner, it was nice having the chance to catch up with some old friends like Cami and David

On the last night I was there, the US Partner team invited all of us to a party at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

I always find it fascinating that Microsoft can rent out a place like the Smithsonian, give guests a bunch of free food and booze, and then turn them loose amongst some of the most rare artifacts on the planet.  Just seems like a recipe for disaster.  Although admittedly, I've never seen anyone be disrespectful to the exhibits.

They had a bunch of neat items on display.

I found the space shuttle stuff to be particularly cool.

The simulator was incredibly fun as it allowed you to chase and shoot down other planes in a cockpit capable of spinning you completely upside down as many times as you wanted.  I was a little sick when it was over, but I shot down three of those bastards!

Best of all, I got to make some new friends like this lady who told me she works for TWA airlines.  I'm not sure if she was serious or not.

I also had a great time with Cole Humphreys from Rackspace.  We ended up bumping into each other several time through the evening and so decided to just hang out and visit the rest of the exhibits together.  Cole was formerly in the Air-force, so he could tell me a lot of things I didn't know about this place! 

Sightseeing in Washington DC

Sightseeing in Washington DC
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for July 20, 2014

On Sunday, I had to fly to Washington DC for work.  Since my meetings didn't start until the evening, I had about 6 hours to check out the sites in our nation's capital.  So I put on my new, blue tennis shoes and decided to walk around the town.

I walked to the White House, but couldn't get past the front gate so I wandered over to the Washington Monument.  I tried to take a bunch of selfies, but my arms aren't long enough to make them look good.  That's why my head looks almost as big as the monument.  It's not in real life.

I headed over to the Smithsonian Institute's Museum of Natural History and walked inside because I was hot and it was free.  I was actually pretty excited to see what they had once I started walking around, though.  They have a lot of one of a kind artifacts that were pretty fun to see.

They had a bunch of skulls and bones of our ancestors.  I kept looking around trying to figure out which link of the chain of human evolution I may have fit, but nothing seemed like a good match.  Some day they'll find out where I came from.

I was fascinated with all the different meteorites they had on display.  These things were huge and very heavy.  It would probably hurt quite a bit if one of these flew down from the sky and hit you in the head.

They had the Hope Diamond on display which was billed as one of the world's most famous gems.  Weighing in at over 45 carats,  this diamond is renowned for its flawless clarity, rare deep blue color, and eventful history.  For some reason, they wouldn't let me try it on though.  So what's the point?

After leaving the museum, I hoofed it a little more than a mile to see the US Capitol building.  It was worth it to spend a couple of minutes taking this photo and then walking another mile in a different direction to the convention center where my meetings were.  I figure I put on about 5 miles on my new, blue tennis shoes which was nice.  Although I was disappointed nobody in DC commented to me about how fast I looked while I was cruising around their town.