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24/12/2017

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Some Chromebooks have double that RAM figure, which seems a much more sound prospect, and when I cracked this one open, I could see space for more memory to be soldered on the board. In the UK, at least, the CB30 is stuck on 2GB. When it comes to storage, most these days offer a 16GB SSD as a minimum, as does the CB30. Google doesn’t think you’ll need any more than this because, of course, you’ll be storing everything in the Google Cloud … and then paying for the privilege as the freebie 100GB quota inevitably expires a couple of years down the line.I’ve likened this Chromebook storage tie-in as being much like getting a cheap printer, only to find you spend a fortune on ink over time. Still, you can use external storage devices as there are two USB 3.0 ports and an SD card slot. The latter doesn’t spur any photo-editing apps into life when a camera SD card is inserted, instead you have to navigate through the various folders to find your snaps. A basic viewer offers red-eye removal, cropping, brightness and contrast and orientation controls – you get more on a phonecam these days.

Talking of which, using USB to connect an iPhone to transfer pics is a waste of time (unless you want to charge it), as you can’t access the pics folder, although on Android phones, the device storage should mount. Apps such as Autodesk's Pixlr Editor exist to enhance photos, but you’re encouraged to upload your photos (and consume some storage) and use the revamped Google+ photo editor instead. The choice is yours.The dynamics and associated challenges we have been discussing shine a spotlight on the corporate access infrastructure and the components within it for dealing with performance, availability and security requirements. This includes things like load balancers, data transport optimisation devices, firewalls and other solutions that help to optimise access, enable resilience and protect applications.Such capabilities have been around for many years and most networks have something in place in the relevant areas, so why are IT professionals reporting so many challenges and issues? This comes back to the phenomenon we discussed right at the beginning. As elements of infrastructure and process have accumulated over the years, the most common situation reported is a complex and disjointed environment containing a lot of old technology, with a high reliance on manual administration (Figure 7).

Drilling into specifics we see a capability shortfall in many areas of QoS and security management, with most highlighting a need for improvement across key functions. This confirms a general sentiment that more attention needs to be paid to modernising and strengthening the access infrastructure (Figure 8).When considering security in particular, improving the access infrastructure is not just about incremental extensions or like-for-like replacement of old kit with the latest equivalent. The trends in application access that are evident from our study suggest that a new way of thinking is also required. In particular, the traditional notion of an organisational boundary, or network perimeter, is directly challenged as the primary way of dealing with security requirements going forward. This comes through in a couple of different ways from the research, with a general consensus that it is necessary to focus more on establishing perimeters around applications and data sets. Most, however, have yet to act on this mind-set shift (Figure 9).

In practice, moving down the application perimeter route involves defining application-aware policies in the network that are applied regardless of the source of traffic and the physical location of the application and data. This has two main advantages over the network perimeter approach. Firstly, if one application is compromised, others are not automatically exposed as they are each protected individually. Secondly, the network level protection measures in place guard against internal dangers as well as external threats.Turning to specific types of technology, we typically see the use of separate components for dealing with QoS and security, with integrated solutions such as application delivery controllers (ADCs) exhibiting a more modest level of penetration (Figure 10).The relatively low level of current use and future attention on ADCs probably reflects a general lack of awareness and understanding of the potential value offered by multi-function appliances. This is not surprising given that this type of solution is a comparatively new entrant in the market and is often associated with complex and demanding environments. However, as ADCs become more ‘mainstream’, those with experience confirm the associated benefits they deliver in terms of infrastructure simplification and lowering of overheads, as well as reducing the risk of things falling through the cracks (Figure 11).

As an aside, it is interesting that those more familiar with ADCs also see a role for such solutions to be delivered as virtual appliances to better fit with alternative architectures and emerging IT delivery models (Figure 12).When we stand back and consider these findings alongside some of the other challenges highlighted earlier to do with infrastructure fragmentation, the clear message is that a more joined-up approach is an important part of future-proofing the application access infrastructure. Integrated multi-function appliances can help with this, but if you prefer not to put all your eggs in one basket with ADCs, modern dedicated components need to be implemented as part of a coherent architectural framework.But moving from the disjointed world of today’s communications landscape to a joined up future-proof application access infrastructure is easier said than done, especially as making structural changes to the corporate network is akin to re-engineering an aeroplane mid-flight. So what’s needed in practical terms to drive the improvement that is clearly needed?

The Transformer Book V is a Windows laptop that, should you choose to detach the keyboard, becomes a Windows tablet.There's something odd at the back of the tablet: a broad groove that houses a five inch Android phone. When the phone is in the slot the tablet borrows the phone's brain to become and Android tablet. And if you click the screen back into the keyboard while the phone is docked, it becomes an Android laptop.Shih was bullish on Intel's mobile spawn throughout, claiming it outperforms Apple's A7 chippery when one uses real work benchmarks. “Landslide victory” was his preferred turn of phrase to describe just how fast ASUS' new kit is compared to its fruity rivals.The new ASUS Zenbook NX500 comes with a Core i7, 4K screen and 4 PCIe slots with an SSD apiece, plus a promise it will “glorify your distinguished professionalism and taste.”He laid it on thick throughout his 40 minute presentation, offering this introduction to a new laptop/tablet:

“In ancient Chinese culture, 'Chi' is the highest form of an invisible energy that can only be exercised by the greatest Kung Fu masters. It can cut through anything without touching it.”The new device is the Transformer Book T300 Chi, a 12.5 inch 2-in-1 lappie that Shih said is the world's thinnest such device with a 12 inch screen and also the world's thinnest tablet, as its thickest point of 7.3mm tapers to 3mm. The whole package is just 14.3mm thick. Hence the Chi reference, as Shih said Chi can also manifest in the wake of sword strokes made by master martial artists.There's also a 2560x1440 WQHD display and 4G built in, for those who would rather dwell on earthly energies.HP has created something called a “SlateBook” that uses Apple technology and runs Android.

SlateBook is apparently HP talk for a touch-screen-equipped laptop. Just what else is in any way slate-like about the device is not immediately apparent.Apple's contribution is small – the machine offers Beats audio – but the presence of this raises all sorts of questions about whether other OEMs will still be quite so interested in co-branding with Beats now that it's a Cupertino capture.The SlateBook boasts a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 4 CPU humming along at 1.8 Ghz, 16, 32 or 64 gigabytes of storage and two gig of RAM. The screen measures fourteen inches at 1920x1080.USB 2.0, 3.0, WiFi, Bluetooth and HDMI enable it to talk to the world. HP's not saying much about the battery other than it can keep Android 4.3 running for up to nine hours, although of course your mileage may vary.At $US399, the SlateBook is priced above HP's new 14-inch Chromebooks, which start at $US299. The extra $100 doesn't buy a lot: the SlateBook is less than 100g lighter than the Chromebook and only the touch screen makes it stand out from its Google-y cousin. There's also a new eleven-inch Chomebook starting at $US249.Computex Preview Taiwan has a thoroughly deserved reputation as one of the world's technology dragons, as shown by the fact its annual Computex show is probably behind only Las Vegas' CES in terms of significance to consumer technology.

Computex is why I've come to town. Trying to get a feeling for host city Taipei is why I arrived two days before the show.This year Computex starts the day after the Duanwu Festival, a day celebrated by Chinese around the world and set aside for dragon-boat racing. Taipei feels primed and I'm told huge crowds will line the river here.The city is teeming, perhaps as a result and perhaps because it's the kind of megalopolis in which apartments are small and public space therefore takes on greater importance. Whatever the reason, every train station, every tourist spot, every shopping precinct has a steady and sometimes choking flow of people moving through it. With daytime temperatures at around 30˚ C and humidity at a level I just don't want quantified. It's not an easy place to stay cool.Taipei's renowned technology malls, Guang Hua Digital Plaza and the Nova Electronics Mall, offer a little respite.Guang Ha which is nestled between a main road and a freeway. Like almost everything in Taipei, a bilingual signpost at the nearest metro stop makes it easy to find.

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