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Apple Xserve: Rackmount server with wide range of turnkey features.

Apple is known first and foremost for its consumer-oriented technology. The common DNA between products like the iPod or MacBook Air is a consistent, graceful and elegant interface that prioritizes the end-user experience. Dedication to a user friendly formula and modernist design has enabled Apple to claim a successful niche in a computer marketplace crowded with commodity PCs.

But Apple’s strong focus on lifestyle consumers sometimes obscures the fact that the company also makes and markets servers aimed at business customers. The server room might not seem like a natural habitat for a vendor that puts as much emphasis on appearance as function, but server duty is not as much of a stretch as it might seem for Apple. The visual polish of Apple’s critically acclaimed OS X platform is built on a complete Unix backend, which is certainly no stranger to server racks. In fact, Apple has packaged a server-oriented version of its platform, called OS X Server, which it includes with its rackmount series of servers, the Xserve.

With racks of servers already crowded with products from HP, Dell, IBM, and others and running platforms ranging from Unix to Linux to Windows Server, it is natural to ask where the Apple Xserve fits into the picture.

But the appeal of Apple products has always been the synthesis of software and hardware as a bundle, whereas the PC represents a mashup of hardware and software from different vendors.

The base model Xserve ($2,999) includes one 2.8Ghz quad-core Intel Xeon processor. A $500 upgrade buys dual quad-cores, for a potential total of eight processing cores. The base also includes 2GB of 80Mhz server memory and can support a maximum of 32GB. An on-board controller supports SAS or SATA drives but does not include hardware RAID (the operating system supports software RAID). For that, an $800 upgrade to the Xserve RAID card will replace the base model controller, thus preserving one of the two PCI Express expansion slots. Three hard drives can be installed in the front-accessible hot-swap drive bays, with one 80GB drive included in the base model. The included single power supply can be supplemented with a hot-swappable backup ($200), and you can select between a square or threaded hole rackmount kit for this 1U form-factor machine.

Enterprise users needing massive shared storage can bulk up the Xserve with a Fibre Channel storage controller and Xsan 2, a $13,000 solution that lets multiple OS X platforms pool high-performance storage for simultaneous access.

Up and Running

As one would expect from Apple, out of the box the Xserve is a handsome slab of server. Although it is likely to spend most of its time tucked away in a secure room, the Xserve does offer convenience features like the front-mounted hot-swap HD bays and a front USB 2.0 port for quickly securing a keyboard or mouse if necessary. On its rear side are two gigabit ethernet jacks, two Firewire 800 ports, two more USB 2.0 ports, and a mini-DVI port with included VGA adapter for monitor hookup. An old-school serial port will warm the hearts of Unix veterans who like kicking it ’80s style for direct terminal access.

Sleek looks aside, experienced IT admins may say that on specs alone, the Xserve is comparable with rackmount offerings from the major PC vendors, such as a similarly configured Dell PowerEdge that sells for hundreds less. But the appeal of Apple products has always been the synthesis of software and hardware as a bundle, whereas the PC represents a mashup of hardware and software from different vendors.

Apple’s 64-bit OS X Server (10.5) is included with the Xserve. It includes an unlimited client license, in contrast to the OS licenses for PC servers that often carry hefty surcharges for large numbers of client connections. If you’ve ever used OS X on an Apple computer, the transition to OS X Server is pretty much seamless. If you have not used OS X before, it may appear to be an unusually glossy interface for a server, since it shares the architecture and design of its consumer-oriented counterpart.

OS X Server extends Apple’s ease-of-use philosophy in two ways. The platform comes bundled with a wide range of server applications that cover most business uses with an added emphasis on media serving. Because OS X is built on a Unix base, many server functions are repackaged open source applications, including Apache, Tomcat, MySQL, Samba, NFS, and FTP. Although most of these server apps are present on almost any Unix or Linux server, Apple adds value by integrating its administration into an accessible, unified interface. Second, Apple bundles servers like Mail, iCal, Wiki, Podcasting, Quicktime streaming and iChat. Duplicating these functions on PC servers would require the expertise to find, install and configure a variety of third-party packages.

Consistent with the Apple philosophy, one does not need an IT degree to administer the Xserve, although some IT expertise is probably necessary to understand what the server applications do. The entire system can be kept up to date simply using Apple’s Software Update utility. All of the bundled server apps can be turned on, off and configured through the central Server Admin interface. Server Admin can also connect to and administer remote Xserves.

In extending OS X from the desktop to the server, Apple has left in some slightly rough edges. For example, the software update utility is actually available through two different tools, and updates applied through one do not always immediately reflect in the other. Xserve includes the open source MySQL database server, which you can enable through the Server Admin. However, there is no GUI for creating and administering database. For this you must either use the included command-line mysql tools or download a third-party GUI.

These are hardly serious shortcomings, and on balance the Xserve delivers a turnkey server environment that offers out-of-the-box productivity difficult to match with enterprise PC servers.

Among the wide range of IT environments, the Xserve will appeal least to organizations whose needs are easily met with standard server apps like file sharing, Web serving, and standards-based messaging. Likewise, the Xserve’s ease-of-use is less likely to be appreciated by experienced IT admins already trained in the labyrinthine intricacies of Linux and Windows servers.

To its credit, the Xserve offers a one-box solution, which is Apple’s bread-and-butter. Organizations with an interest in media serving will find the Xserve an especially facile environment to get up and running with a minimum of hassle compared to PC servers. Smaller businesses without an existing investment in PC servers or expert IT admins will find the Xserve an accessible, low-fuss route to hefty server power. And, of course, for anyone already comfortable with and loyal to the Apple experience, the Xserve provides a familiar environment without sacrificing features or power to its PC-based peers.

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Why Every Apple News Byte Seems To Matter So Much

Why every Apple news byte seems to matter so much

There’s an addiction in the modern news reporting universe online to updates on details so very small that less than 10 years ago they’d never have left their respective sources lips. With Apple, we’ve got an addiction to details on the devices we’re holding right this minute. Chances are, in fact, that you’re working with a device right now that we’ve written about in the past 24 hours, and it doesn’t just have to be an Apple device.

When I write a story about a BlackBerry device, I don’t necessarily feel as though it’ll be read by BlackBerry fans alone. Our news cycle currently includes mainly stories about BlackBerry 10, an operating system that’ll be released inside the next few months, likely at the start of 2013. Because this operating system’s success will in a giant way affect the company that makes BlackBerry available to the world, each detail matters. As the iPhone 5’s absolute barrage of tiny details turned into full stories has shown you over the past several months, it doesn’t matter that the end product is greater than the sum of its parts.

With BlackBerry 10, we’re not expecting an operating system that’s going to change the whole mobile universe. It is interesting, on the other hand, to masses of people working with their smartphones on Android, iOS, and Windows Phone, that BlackBerry 10 will bring a whole new keyboard to the mix. If you’ve got a keyboard that’s a hit on one system, the other systems see the success and step up their own game.

If we see Apple adding a new way to look at the map on your smartphone, the competition has no choice but to jump into the ocean. Google Street View recently added underwater panoramas to their archive. If Google was the only group in the world making an effort to map our planet, the public would expect that the speed at which they’re doing it was the fastest anyone could go. They’d also expect that noone else could do it better since Google would be the only one making the attempt.

So what does it mean when Apple’s Lightning connector is broken into? It means that Apple’s continually successful projection of a “magical” delivery of technology is inspiring the rest of the industry to “fight back”, so to speak. There’s no chance that manufacturers across the board don’t see an update about a hacked Apple cord and think, at least to some degree, “I wish our hardware mattered that much.”

Because of Apple – and the rest of the companies that find their way into our news feed every day – we’re seeing the personal technology market grow at a rate that’s absolutely astounding. Think about what we were working with just 2 years ago and consider how a story about clock image licensing is changing the speed at which we see great innovation every day.

Apple One Bundle: Is It A Good Deal?

Apple bundling all of its cloud, TV, music and game services into one bundle has been rumored for years. With the release of “Apple One,” Apple has put the long-anticipated rumor mill to bed. However, is it a good deal? It looks to be a great deal on paper, especially for anyone who subscribes to Apple Music or Apple Arcade. The real question is whether Apple One means we are paying for more than is needed or wanted? Let’s dive into Apple’s new bundle of services and see whether or not this deal is too good to be true.

What Do Apple Services Cost Individually?

First things first. Let’s have a reminder of what Apple charges individually for each of its monthly services:

Apple Music costs $9.99 for individuals and $14.99 for families.

iCloud costs $0.99 for 50GB, $2.99 for 200GB and $9.99 for 2TB.

Apple TV costs $4.99.

Apple Arcade costs $4.99 for over 120 games.

Apple News costs $9.99.

Apple Fitness+ (available later this year) will cost $9.99 a month.

Each of these services can be purchased separately, and you have the choice of subscribing to as many or as few as you like. What does that mean for people who want to subscribe to Apple One and believe they could save a little money? Let’s find out.

What Bundle Plans Are Available? Individual Plan

There are three plans available for Apple One, the first of which is the individual plan. This bundle costs $14.95 a month and includes Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade and 50GB of iCloud storage. If you were to purchase each of these separately, they would be right around $21 a month, saving you $6 monthly. This plan is the backbone of the Apple One entertainment lineup.

For anyone who subscribes to Apple Music and at least one of the other services, it’s a good deal. If you already subscribe to all four Apple services, this can be a nice monthly savings, good for at least one more cup of Starbucks each month. The only real caveat with the individual plan is that you cannot share Apple Music or iCloud storage with family members.

Family Plan

The family plan is when things get a little more interesting. The biggest difference is that for $19.95, you get 200GB of iCloud storage and you are upgraded to the Apple Music family plan (which alone is $14.95). Add in Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade and you are looking at savings of $8 monthly. For an extra $5 a month, you get hours of new shows with Apple TV+ and more than 100 games through Apple Arcade.

If you do not need either of those services, things get a little more murky. The 200GB of storage for a family can be a huge help, especially given that Apple only offers 5GB of iCloud Storage out of the box. The bottom line is that you should only get a family plan if at least one person in your house regularly uses Apple TV+ or Apple Arcade. If not, you do not need the bundle and would save nothing with Apple Music or the upgraded iCloud Storage plan.

Premier Plan

If you and your family are in the bucket of wanting every subscription Apple has to offer, the Premier plan is for you. With this $29.95 plan, you receive 2TB of iCloud storage, Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple News+ and Apple Fitness+ when it launches later this year. If you do some quick math, subscribing to all of these services individually would cost you around $55 a month. At that point, saving $25 monthly becomes a bit more desirable. Of course, that’s only if you want to use everything Apple has to offer.

What if you do not want Apple News+ or Fitness+? In that case, you’d be better off with the Apple One Family plan but again, only if you want everything else in the Family plan. On the other hand, once Fitness+ launches and you add it to the bundle, the Premier plan turns into a pretty comprehensive offering. That all of these services can be shared with up to five people in your family makes it an even more attractive bundle.

The Bottom Line

So far so good, right? Everything about Apple One sounds like a savings, and that’s exactly what Apple wants you to think. In a lot of cases, it actually will save you money. Or will it? The reality is that Apple One may have you spending more to get extra services you may not have subscribed to individually. Ultimately, the value here is really dependent on what you are currently using and how many people are in your family. The Premier plan is the most expensive but also offers the most services with the best savings.

If you use a lot of iCloud storage, already subscribe to Apple Music and have been thinking about Apple Arcade, the bundle may make a lot of sense. On the other hand, if you only want to stay subscribed to Apple Music, you can do exactly that. There is nothing that says you have to subscribe to any bundle other than to stop yourself from paying more for each service individually. Ultimately, if you pay more than $30 for your subscription services, Premier is a good deal. Similar reasoning applies to the Family and Individual plans.

David Joz

David is a freelance tech writer with over 15 years of experience in the tech industry. He loves all things Nintendo.

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Apple Watch Vs Moto 360 (2023): Which One Should You Buy?

Now that Android Wear is officially compatible with iOS devices there’s a lot more smartwatch love to go around, at least for Apple fans. Android users have had a taste of the first generation, but Motorola’s new Moto 360 is one of the many new options available for both sides for the fence. The question is, should you give Motorola your money?

If you’re not familiar with the first generation or Android Wear in general, you can check out our Moto 360 review here. This year Motorola has updated the internals to closely match the other smartwatch offerings on the market, but does it pack enough to win over the hearts of iPhone users? Like Apple, Motorola has two different sizes available for this year’s Moto 360. There’s a 42mm version which is the same as Apple’s largest offering and a slightly bigger 46mm version for those who prefer chunkier watches.

Each model packs a 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 quad-core processor, 4GB of storage, and 512MB of RAM. On the 42mm version there’s a 1.37-inch display with a 360×325 resolution, while the 46mm features a 1.56-inch display coming in at 360×330. In comparison, the 42mm Apple Watch’s 1.5-inch OLED display has a slightly higher pixel density with its 312×390 resolution.

Both devices are water-resistant as well, which is definitely a must-have on any electronic device worn on your wrist. Activity tracking is available with heart rate sensors on each device and it’s safe to say you’ll get about a day’s worth of use on a full charge, though Motorola claims the Moto 360 will last up to 1.5 to 2 days depending on which size option you choose. Either way, expect to charge any of these watches at night.

Check out our Moto 360 (2023) vs Apple Watch video below:

Comparing the sizes, you’ll notice that the 46mm Moto 360 isn’t too much larger than the 42mm Apple Watch, but the difference is really present when worn on your wrist. I prefer the 42mm look of the Moto 360, but anything smaller than that would just look funny on my arm.

When it comes to customization, the Moto 360 definitely wins. First off, it accepts any 22mm watch band with the new lugs that were added this time around, but with Apple you’ll need to stick to proprietary bands which can run you a bit of cash if you go with the official offerings. You can even take it a step further and completely customize the colors and variation of the Moto 360 using Moto Maker.

For software customization, Apple may have the lead here. Both offer customized watch faces, but there’s a lot more to do (almost too much) with Apple’s watchOS interface than you’ll find on Android Wear. Android Wear’s simplicity may be seen as a positive aspect though depending on who you ask. You can also take phone calls and use Siri on the Apple Watch, while the Moto 360 will only respond to voice search and Google Now.

With the Moto 360 your primary method of input is going to be the touch screen. Navigating through menus, apps, and more will all happen with a swipe of the finger, but you can use motion gestures with your wrist to flip through various notifications. On the Apple Watch, most navigation is done with the touch screen, but there’s also a Digital Crown on the side that will allow for scrolling and zoom in certain situations and a couple of buttons to perform various tasks, Unfortunately, the relocated button on the new Moto 360 will simply put the device to sleep when pressed, but again the entire story here is simplicity.

Which one do you prefer? Did Google’s latest Android Wear compatibility announcement change your mind about buying or keeping an Apple Watch? Obviously if you’re on Android, Apple Watch isn’t an option, but let us know what you think.

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Sonos One Official: Alexa Built

Sonos One official: Alexa built-in, Google Assistant in 2023

Sonos may be rolling out Alexa support to its existing speakers, but the connected music company also has a brand new speaker with Amazon’s assistant onboard. The Sonos One looks at first glance like the existing Sonos PLAY:1, but it’s not just full of speaker drivers. Instead, it has a microphone array on top so you can speak directly to Alexa – though that’s just the start.

Those six microphones are a far-field array, intended to hear you from across the room, just as an Amazon Echo or Google Home might. You’ll be able to control it via the existing Sonos app – which is getting a visual refresh today – in addition to by tapping and swiping the control surface on top. Finally, you’ll be able to ask Alexa to play tracks and playlists.

In fact, Alexa will be capable of controlling not only the Sonos One but any other Sonos speakers in your network. Still, the speaker company isn’t placing all its eggs in Amazon’s basket. Sonos says it’s open to working with any voice assistant technology that wants to integrate, and that users would like to see.

Indeed, Google Assistant will arrive on Sonos in 2023, it was confirmed today. Beyond that, we could one day see Samsung’s Bixby onboard, if that escapes from the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8, or any other virtual assistant that wants to play ball. It’s part of Sonos’ reminder that, unlike some platforms, it isn’t just interested in giving access to a single music service but instead every one which listeners are subscribing to.

Next year, that’ll include Apple AirPlay 2 streaming, with the Sonos One among the first of Sonos’ speakers to support the technology. CEO Giles Martin insists that Sonos’ goal is “a world where customers us Sonos One with multiple voice assistants,” removing its dependency on Amazon alone – which has a higher-quality version of its own connected speaker, Echo Plus, launching soon.

“It’s the smart speaker that’s been built to be beautiful and sound great throughout your home,” Martin says. Inside, there are two Class-D digital amplifiers, one tweeter, and one mid-woofer. Of course, you’ll also be able to pair two Sonos One speakers together into a stereo pair, just as you can currently with the PLAY:1. It’ll also be groupable with other, non-Alexa-enabled Sonos speakers, and there’s Trueplay tuning support for making Sonos One sound better in irregular locations.

Sonos has baked in some privacy features, too. The light which illuminates when the microphone array is active is hard-wired into the circuit, for instance, so that the Sonos One can’t listen to you without some visual indication of that happening. Meanwhile there’s active noise cancellation, and any music being played while you give commands automatically has its volume lowered to give Sonos One a better chance of hearing.

Sonos One will go up for preorder today, and will ship on October 24. It’s priced at $199 in the US and £199 in the UK, or 229 euro in Europe.

Troubleshooting Xbox One Error 0X800704Cf

Error code 0x800704cf indicates there’s a network problem that’s preventing you from signing in to your Xbox account. The same error may occur when the console can’t launch your favorite games due to network issues.

‘You’ll need the Internet for this. It doesn’t look like you’re connected to the Internet. Please check your connection and try again. 0x800704cf’.

How to Fix Xbox One Error 0x800704cf Check the Service Status

Since this error usually appears when there’s a general network problem, start by checking the Xbox Service Status.

If there’s a known issue that could be triggering error 0x800704cf, it should be on the list. If this the case, wait until Microsoft has fixed the problem.

Try Again

The error could also be triggered by temporary server issues caused by an unusually high number of requests. In other words, the Xbox servers are overwhelmed. Wait five or 10 minutes. These issues usually disappear after a few minutes.

Restart or Unplug Your Modem

If the issue persists, it’s time to check your network. Restart your modem and check if this quick workaround did the trick.

Try unplugging the modem if you haven’t done that in weeks. Unplug the power cable and leave your modem unplugged for three minutes. Then power it back up and check if the error code 0x800704cf is still there.

If you suspect the error is caused by low bandwidth problems, disconnect all the other devices using the network.

Clear Local Xbox 360 Storage

Navigate to Settings.

Select System.

Go to Storage.

Then select Clear local Xbox 360 storage.

Restart your console and check again.

Clear the MAC Address

You can also try to change the MAC address of your console.

Navigate to Settings.

Go to General settings.

Select Network Settings.

Then go to Advanced Settings.

Locate and select Alternate MAC Address.

Clear the current MAC Address.

Restart your console and reconnect to your network. The console should start updating now if there’s a new version available.

Which brings us to the next solution.

Update Your Console

If you’re running an outdated system version, don’t be surprised if your console becomes a bit glitchy.

Go to Profile & system.

Select Settings.

Then go to System.

Select Updates to check for updates.

Go to the Troubleshooting Screen

If the console is not updating correctly, do this:

Take out the power cable and leave your Xbox console unplugged for 3 or 4 minutes.

Then hold the Sync button on the controller and press the Eject button.

While holding down these buttons, press the ON button on the console.

Wait until you hear a second ON sound. You can then release the Sync and Eject buttons.

You should see the troubleshooting screen now.

Select Continue and update your console.

Launch a Game Without Signing In

Other users suggested this quick workaround worked for them:

Sign out and reconnect the console to your network.

Select a random game and launch it.

You will be prompted to sign in once you reach the game’s login screen.

Select your profile, and try to sign in. There should be no error this time around.

Reset Your IP and DNS

Refreshing your IP and DNS may help. Here’s what you need to do:

Navigate to Settings.

Go to General.

Select Network Settings.

Then, go to Advanced Settings.

Select IP Settings.

Set the IP settings to Automatic.

Repeat the same steps for the DNS settings to get a new DNS.

Check the connection.

Reset Your Console

Resetting your console without deleting your games and app may help you to get rid of this error.

Open the guide and go to System.

Then select Settings.

Go to System → Console info.

Locate the Reset console option.

Select it and keep your games and apps.

After the process is complete, you can power cycle your console.

Let us know which solution worked for you.

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