July 27, 2015

Windows 10: Channel Chimes In With Pros, Cons Of OS

Thanks to myriad cloud services and applications, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 are just fine for now. “Can users get what they need done with Windows 7? Absolutely,” said Todd Swank, senior director of product marketing at Equus, a systems builder based in Minnetonka, Minn. 

 “Businesses will migrate to Windows 10, but for now most IT managers are saying, ‘If it's not broke, don't fix it',” he said.

Read Full Article Here:

July 26, 2015

2015 Lakefront Music Fest in Prior Lake, Minnesota

2015 Lakefront Music Fest in Prior Lake, Minnesota
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for July 26, 2015

Friday night brought us to Lakefront Music Fest in Prior Lake's Lakefront Park.  We wanted to show up early to see the first act, Chris Hawkey.  He's one of the morning personalities on the local sports radio channel, KFAN, and I've been listening to him for years.  He was flying high performing in front of a crowd this size.  I had the impression he hadn't performed in front of thousands of people like were at this show before.  He did a great job and was having an absolute ball interacting with the fans in the crowd.  Plus, he did a pretty good job singing.

We hung out with our rowdy friends for most of the night.  It was country night, so we felt that gave us the right to get a little bit out of control.

Rodney Atkins was next up on the agenda.  I'm sure some people love his music, but it didn't do much for me.  I'm just not much of a fan of country music.  He did have a nice hat, though.

Chris Hawkey walked by and asked to get a picture with us.  We just had to oblige.

By the time the headliner was coming on stage, we somehow found ourselves positioned directly in the front row.  We met some new friends down there that appeared to like making bunny ears in the air for some reason.

I swear, there had to be like 50 or 60 people there.

We were starting to get restless holding on to the front row railing.  Bring on the music!!

Suddenly this old cowboy appeared and started singing.  His name was Dwight Yoakam and apparently he's a big deal on the country circuit.  We listened to a couple of songs, looked at each other, and then decided to go home.  We figured somebody else would really appreciate those front row positions.

On Saturday night, we brought Grandma Linda along for the ride.  It was rock and roll night and this lady is Miss Rock and Roll.

We missed LA Guns, but arrived in the middle of Lita Ford's performance.  I remember her from the movie the Runaways as well as the song she did with Ozzy Osbourne called Close Your Eyes Forever.  She also sang Kiss Me Deadly which woke up the crowd quite a bit.  Most of the rest of her songs she played, I didn't know.  But she was fun to watch.

Between sets, some guy from Kool 108 was challenging people in the crowd to do wacky things for free merchandise.  I watched this guy take off his dirty shoe, let them pour a beer in it, and then he chugged the beer out of it.  It kind of made me ill to watch, but maybe you'll enjoy it more than I did.  Here's the video I shot of it:

Night Ranger was up next and they also played a lot of songs I didn't know, even though I knew they had a lot of songs that I did know.  The lead singer even made a comment about how it drives the audience nuts when they want to try to sell their new music rather then play their classic songs that everybody knows and loves.  They did end their act with some of their hits like Sister Christian and You Can Still Rock in America which were real fun.  I didn't know they sang the theme song to the Michael J Fox Movie, The Secret of My Success, which they also played.  I love that movie.

Daughtry was the headliner and he was great.  At least his first 3 or 4 songs were great.  Grandma Linda got tired and so we decided to leave early.  We kind of regret our decision, because Daughtry was one of the main reasons we went and we were enjoying his music as we walked out of the park.  Oh, well.  There's always next year's Music Fest.  

July 23, 2015

Luke's Prayer Before His Driver's Test

Published on Jul 23, 2015

Luke Swank turned 16 last week and got his driver's license that morning. This was the prayer he said before he took the test.

July 19, 2015

Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2015 in Orlando, Florida

Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2015 in Orlando, Florida
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for July 19, 2015

On Saturday night, we celebrated the graduation of our good friend, Alyssa Hornbuckle.  It's so hard to believe she's old enough to be graduating!  I remember her when she was just a little baby and her hair wasn't blue.

The Hornbuckle clan is always fun to be around no matter what the occasion!

We had a rousing game of kickball that was quite competitive until someone threw the ball in the water.  I think it was water.  There was enough algae covering the top to walk on it.  Nobody was willing to test that theory so we sent Avery out on a tree branch to get the ball.

On Sunday, I flew to Orlando, Florida to attend the 2015 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference held at the Convention Center.  What a great idea to have a convention in Orlando in July!  It was just a little bit hot while we were there.

Honestly, the weather wasn't that big of a concern since I spent most of the days inside attending keynote presentations and sessions on the latest and greatest offerings from Microsoft.  I'm like a kid in a candy store at these things.

They always bring cool things to these events.  Someone told me this was Dale Earnhardt Jr's race car, but I stood around it for like 20 minutes and I never saw him get in it or get out of it so I'm sure that was a bunch of baloney.

Microsoft always has cool new technology to show off like their new Surface Hub.  It's like a really big tablet you hang on the wall for video conferencing and stuff.  I just want to play Clash of Clans on that thing.

This lady was walking around handing out champagne glasses that were hanging on her dress.  I would have thought a rolling cart would be a lot more convenient, but who am I to judge?

The keynote presentations were very inspiring.  Each day opened with a different musical guest.  Recycled Percussion banged their ladders to open the first day which was a good way to wake up on a Monday.  It kind of rattled your bones a bit to listen to them.

They also had American Authors play on the third day.  They played some of their hits like Go Big or Go Home and Best Day of My Life.  They really rocked.  I grabbed a couple of clips of the performances which you can watch here:

Best of all, the lead singer of American Authors seemed really excited to see me in the audience which was nice.

Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, laid out his visions for the coming year for Microsoft and it's partners.  It's always fascinating to hear his views on where the technology world is going.  His focus right now is on Cloud First and Mobile First which is a bit challenging for those of us in the hardware business.  Microsoft is really pushing their resellers to embrace cloud services as opposed to the traditional on premise solutions we've all been selling for years.  It makes total sense, but is still a bit jarring to hear it when we've all been relying on hardware sales for so long.

Windows 10 launches on July 29 so we heard a lot about the plans for the new operating system.  To showcase what a different world we all live in now, Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for anyone who already has Windows 7 or Windows 8 installed.  That would have never happened during my first 20 years selling computers, but the times have changed.

One of the most exciting technologies demonstrated was their new HoloLens augmented reality goggles.  Between augmented reality and virtual reality, the average person has no idea what kind of technology experiences are in store for them in the very near future.  From what I've seen demonstrated, it's going to be absolutely incredible and it's coming soon.

They showed a demonstration of a young lady walking into a room that had been optimized for her viewing experience with video chats, customizable media displays, and even a holographic dog she could interact with.  It's pretty amazing stuff.

Microsoft COO, Kevin Turner, did the keynote on the final day.  He's also fascinating to listen to and he shared his vision for where partners could optimize their business to benefit from Microsoft's new products and programs. More good stuff!   

On Tuesday night, the Microsoft US team took a big group of us to Epcot Center where we had free run of the place until midnight.  I rode Soarin' twice which gave me the opportunity to snap some photos of my flight mates.

I also rode Spaceship Earth a couple of times, but found myself frustrated with it.  This ride used to inspire the heck out of me but apparently they changed the sound track and some of the exhibits a few years ago and I kept finding myself reminiscing about the way it used to be which kind of spoiled the ride.  Darn Disney has to change with the times when I just liked the way things used to be.

Blue was so excited to see me when I came home.

July 11, 2015

RV Vacation to Whitewater State Park in Minnesota

RV Vacation to Whitewater State Park in Minnesota
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for July 11, 2015

We rented an RV to get a taste for how much we would like this lifestyle.  The first 3 nights of our trip was to Clear Lake and the next 3 nights were spent in Whitewater State Park in Altura, Minnesota.

My co-worker, Nicole, made this photo in honor of our trip.

We drove into Whitewater State Park Sunday evening.  They tell me these rock walls are called Bluffs, but I don't think they're fooling anyone.

Since we were all confined together in a small living area, we thought it would be best to leave the puppy at home, but we couldn't go on a camping adventure without Sunny.  He loved peeing in the park!

We went to Mystery Cave in Fillmore County to get a glimpse at a hole in the ground that's nearly a million years old.  I would have sworn it didn't look more than 800,000.

Our guide told us this was his first day on the job.  I thought what a perfect time for a roof collapse to happen and trap us inside.  Lucky for us, that didn't occur.

He told us a lot of the formations were formed by something called Calcite, but they looked more like caramel covered dragon heads to me.  I kept having the desire to lick the walls.

Every time I walk by a deep hole in a cave, I always wonder if that's the gateway to hell.  I didn't see any fire or devil horns or anything down there, so it probably wasn't.

This cave had an underground pool of clear water that was really beautiful.  I wish I could have taken a bath in there, but Miss Sheri thought it would be inappropriate for me to get naked in front of the other cave visitors.

Luke and Avery took advantage of our camping trip to work on their Cooking merit badges for Boy Scouts.  It worked out great for their mother and I because they ended up cooking every one of our meals.

They had to do everything from meal planning, shopping for the ingredients, preparing the food, cooking it, serving it, and cleaning up afterwards.  We could really get used to living like this.

The boys discovered that one of the biggest challenges to cooking outside is keeping a consistent fire that gives enough heat for cooking, but doesn't flame up too much to burn everything.  It's more challenging than it looks.

I had low expectations for the quality of the results, but we were actually pleasantly surprised that every meal ended up tasting great!

The beef and chicken kabobs were the best!

We told Avery that he and his brother were going to now become our full time cooks.  Not sure if he likes that idea or not.

My biggest annoyance with the trip was the fact that we had no cell service or wifi in the park.  Everyone tells me that they think that sounds like heaven, but not to me.  I love being connected and know what's going on in the world and it's unsettling to me when I don't have that access.  Although, waking up and walking out to see this every morning didn't suck.

On our second day, we went to a nearby campground called LazyD Campgrounds.  They had a magic pillow which we just could resist.

We had a shocking coincidence happen to us when we went to schedule our horseback riding adventure.  The next time we could go was at noon and the lady told us their was another group going at the same time.  Suddenly Dawn Barragy walked into the place and we discovered that we were going horseback riding with some old friends.  It was a very pleasant surprise.

I've known Dan Barragy since I was a sophomore in high school and we were in cross country and wrestling together.  He used to give me a ride to school every day also, so it was great to have the chance to get on a horse with him and his family.

The ride was supposed to be an hour, but ended up closer to 90 minutes of fun walking through the hills, pastures, and woods of southeastern Minnesota.  I highly recommend Lazy D Campgrounds to anyone in the area.

They also had a really cool petting zoo that gave us the opportunity to touch tongues with creatures we hadn't touched tongues with before.

The llama and the alpaca weren't quite sure what to think of us.

Luke has become fascinated with fishing lately so we thought we'd give it a try in the creek.  Lucky for us, we didn't catch anything.

I thought I had something for a little while, but it turned out to be a weed.

All in all it was a great vacation and a wonderful time spent with the family that I love dearly.