RetroChallenge Update #1

Ok, well, I happen to be rather busy with work lately, so I haven’t been able to post since my first post, but I wanted to post this brief update. I have been making good progress… I have been reading lots of documentation and I’ve nearly completed my parts list. For flexibility, I’ll be using a CPLD to implement the discrete logic/ROM required for my board design. I’ve ordered an Altera MAX7000 series part, but am also considering using one of the comparable Atmel parts. For compatibility, I’ll also be using the 6551 UART chip used in the original Super Serial Card design.

Now, for the most significant part… I think I’ve decided on using the BlueGiga WT12 embedded Bluetooth module. There are a number of good modules out there for embedded bluetooth, but this one has a flexible firmware and supports more profiles than other modules, giving me some interesting potential beyond simply establishing the virtual serial connection with my Treo. ;)

Also, I’ve got a handy Eagle CAD library for the Apple II card edge connector. (Thanks Anthony!) With that, I should be able to start putting a schematic and board layout together soon. Read More ›

Entry to RetroChallenge 2009

I’ve submitted an entry to RetroChallenge 2009. I came across the challenge last year, but didn’t have the time to put together an entry. I’m not certain I’ll be able to complete my entry this year, but I had to give it a shot. Here’s a description:

I was inspired while playing around with Virtual ][. I discovered that I could actually use my Treo 650 as a dialup modem from within Virtual ][ by using the Bluetooth serial connection from my MacBook Pro to the phone. Having recently acquired an Apple //e, I decided to set this up on the real hardware, with a goal to designing an expansion card that would emulate the functionality of the Super Serial Card while including the Bluetooth functionality, as well.

While I’ve got a number of ideas of where I want to take this eventually, for the purposes of the competition, I’m going to try to start modestly by simply getting the hardware to communicate. I doubt that I will have full card prototyped and fab’d by the end of the competition, so I will attempt simply to complete a design (schematic / board layout).

I have begun evaluating and sourcing parts for the project. I’ve also begun reading through the relevant docs. Also, much thanks to the kind folks of for their help in pulling the idea together. I’ll be posting more updates soon. Read More ›

Site online again

After a long time of being down, I brought the site back online. It is a little outdated, as it has been neglected for some time, but it’s back. I’ve been very active on a number of projects while the site has been offline, most notably, Campground Automation Systems. That project, along with several others I’ve been working on should give me a lot to blog about in the weeks and months to come. Read More ›

Article on Macs in the Enterprise

I recently came across the following article in CIO:…

While the author makes several technical errors, I found a number of her points to be valid. The one I want to explore today is an interesting claim she makes that the cost of supporting Macs in the enterprise may, in fact, be greater than the cost of PC support. While this may not sound right, I believe it may be true. But don’t be fooled. The potential higher cost of support is not due to any reduced quality of hardware or software. And, don’t assume that even with the higher cost of support that the TCO is necessarily higher when compared to Windows PCs.

The author identifies one of the factors in a higher support cost is that Mac users tend to be a bit more demanding than their PC counterparts, demanding more time and attention from network administrators, technicians, etc. I have found this to be true in my experience with Mac users. Not only to Mac users seem to be more demanding, they also seem to expect more from their computer, and well they should. The average lonely Mac or group of Macs sitting on a PC/Windows-centric network is underutilized. Typical Microsoft-certified technicians/administrators don’t know how to accommodate these foreign machines in ways that will make them truly productive members of the corporate network.

This leads me to add my additional factor for potentially higher Mac support costs – higher labor cost. In order to get someone who does know how to make Macs truly productive on the average corporate network, you must find someone not only with Mac expertise, but experience with Windows/PC administration as well. These network professionals will also likely have many other advanced networking skills and will likely cost more than the average MCSE.

This is also an issue of scale. The more Mac support an organization does, the cheaper it will be become. Most organizations will need to support Windows PCs today, regardless of whether they need Mac support. What’s the expression? Cheaper by the dozen?

Organizations should still consider Mac deployment even if Mac support costs will be higher. Many enterprise users are discovering the benefits of Macs in their homes, and these same benefits are valid in the enterprise, as well as many more, specific to business use.

With Microsoft’s recent release of Vista, businesses are and should take a good look at Mac deployment in the enterprise. Read More ›

Gordon Home Care featured on AHSS site

I just happened to be browsing rather randomly and came across a featured article on the AHSS website for my mother’s office. Pretty cool. Read More ›