Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Microsoft Surface Pro 3

A year and a half ago or so I got Microsoft’s first attempt at a tablet + laptop device. It was their first version of the Surface Pro and overall I quite enjoyed it. I thought about upgrading to the Surface Pro 2 but figured it wasn’t substantially different than what I had so I should be a good boy save my pennies for another day. Then the Surface Pro 3 was announced and it was improved enough that I thought it would make for a worthwhile upgrade (and I can use the previous Surface Pro at one of my restaurants). Microsoft’s new Surface Pro 3 comes with a bigger screen, new type keyboard, improved hardware, changes to the pen input as well as a host of other new features.

I’ll write more thoughts on it as my usage increases, but for now Mashable has a well-written review on the device. If you’re in the market for a new laptop, I’d urge you to take a look at the Surface Pro 3.

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Microsoft Surface Pro and our small world

I needed to get a new laptop and had had grown curious about the Surface Pro.  Most reviews I read were positive about the device (not so much about the Surface RT), and it felt like a great combination of tablet + laptop.

Unfortunately only the Surface RT has been released in Singapore, so there was no estimated date for the Surface Pro.  Just a couple days ago they announced it would be coming around the end of June.

Two weeks ago I was in Taiwan and reading more about the laptop and looked at availability on Amazon.  Via one of their affiliates I could get a Surface Pro shipped to Singapore.   I resisted at first, but then broke down while I was in a long queue at Taipei airport.

Amazing if you think about it… I pulled out my phone, launched the Amazon app, and it had the Surface Pro and type keyboard still saved in the shopping cart.  I clicked the purchase button and since it had my credit card information already, zip… the order went through.  This was Friday afternoon at 1 PM in Taiwan.

By 10 AM Monday morning the Surface Pro had made it from America to my home in Singapore.  I was blown away by the speed of delivery.  I think it’s going to take me longer as a passenger to get from Singapore to New York on my trip next month!

Anyway, after a week of using the Surface Pro and Windows 8 on it, I love it.  Windows 8 with a touchscreen is an awesome experience.  If you’ve been using Windows 8 (as I have) with just a mouse and keyboard, well, you basically haven’t been using Windows 8.  I’m motivated now to buy a touchscreen monitor for my desktop at home.

The gestures did take a little getting used to, especially when coming from an iPad, but after 15 minutes I was flipping through Windows and docking them with ease.

The type cover has also exceeded my expectations.  I think there’s minimal slowdown; I’m typing at essentially the same speed as on a regular keyboard.

The only drawback I’ve found is that it weighs more than expected.  Nothing too crazy but if you’re lying face-up in bed and holding it over you, you won’t want it crashing down on your face.

I’m looking forward to my first trip with it next month.  That will be the true test!

Outlook / Microsoft Office 2013 IMAP bug

Recently upgrade to Microsoft Office 2013?  Do you notice your IMAP account (likely gmail) showing messages that you deleted or moved into another folder previously?  Or even worse, a message from your mail provider saying you have exceeded bandwidth and are now locked out for 24 hours?

You’re not alone.  There are a few issues in Outlook 2013 which unfortunately while reported during the Preview period have not been fixed in the final RTM product.

From the Microsoft Answers site:

1) Outlook 2013 IMAP messages keep re-appearing after deletion or move

2) Gmail (or any IMAP accountd) “Account exceeded bandwidth limits” while using Outlook 2013 IMAP

For issue #1 you can try deleting and re-adding your IMAP account so it starts fresh.  I found that fixed the issue for me but others are reporting the issue remains.

For #2, which is a serious problem because it locks you out of your account for 24 hours (you can still use web access to the mail), I don’t know what the workaround could be.  The Office blog explains the new IMAP in Outlook 2013 which may shed light on what is going on.

Hopefully Microsoft is going to release updates frequently and  not make us all wait months for a service pack (or worse, just not fix this issue at all).

Microsoft Surface with Windows 8 RT

Windows 8 is finally here and along with it is Microsoft’s big bet – the Surface with Windows RT.  The company built the hardware itself (pissing off its numerous hardware partners) and it is basically positioned to compete against Apple’s iPad and Google’s Chromebooks.

Consensus is that the device is beautiful hardware-wise.  Unique case with a touch keyboard, slim tablet, and a kickstand to prop it up…

The criticisms I’ve read are centered around:

  1. The screen dimensions make it awkward to hold in portrait mode (a little too long)
  2. Windows RT doesn’t run all the applications that Windows 8 will run.  It runs basically the tablet-oriented apps and not the desktop and legacy applications.  That can be confusing for customers who don’t realize that Windows RT and Windows 8 are not the same thing.  The allowed apps must come from the Windows Store (app store)
  3. The lack of applications – it’s a new platform so more will be coming, but yes, there’s a lack of killer apps at the moment.
  4. Camera sucks

However it’s still an ultra-portable tablet with features that give it an edge over existing tablets for creating content.  Are people using it while still in the “shadow” of how one uses an iPad?  Perhaps it will take time to break out of using the Surface in the same way as using an iPad.

There’s plenty of reviews out there from the big tech sites, but this review by Hal Berenson had good analysis about what the Surface can offer.

Some observations on Windows 8

Last night I upgraded my laptop from Windows 7 Enterprise to Windows 8 Pro. On Windows 7 I had Office 2013 Preview installed as well as Windows Live Mesh to help keep files in sync across multiple computers.

I debated doing a clean install but was feeling lazy so decided to try for an upgrade. I set up the Windows 8 ISO on a USB thumbdrive and booted it from within Windows 7. I selected the upgrade route and the choices it gave me were to either keep my personal files (everything under my user folder) or delete everything. It didn’t give me a choice to keep my applications. Looking at the further Help it said that Windows 8 will offer the relevant choices to your situation – in some cases it would have been possible to keep the applications that were already installed, but I guess not in my case. I wonder if it’s something to do with the Windows 7 version I was running. Windows 8 required at least 20 gigabytes free hard drive space, so I had to delete a bunch of stuff (I have a small SSD drive) before it was ready to go.

The install went smoothly and my personal data was kept intact. The old installation of Windows was moved into a different folder called Windows.Old which I then deleted.

I’ve only been messing around with it for a few hours so I don’t have too many observations yet, but overall am enjoying the “feel” of it. Switching back and forth from the traditional desktop to the new Windows 8 user interface (heck, I’m going to continue to call it Metro) isn’t as awkward as I thought it would be, and everything feels snappy and faster than Windows 7.

Some issues I have encountered so far are that Squarespace websites look messed up in Internet Explorer. The images come out all blocky. A little troubling since that’s what I use for Standing Sushi Bar.

The biggest issue has been the inability to install Windows Live Mesh anymore. I don’t know if this is true for Windows 7 as well but on Windows 8 I can’t install Live Mesh and am forced to install SkyDrive to sync files. Unfortunately this means that I need to uninstall Live mesh on all the other machines and install SkyDrive on them in order to get all the computers to sync together.

This issue is more about SkyDrive than Windows 8… SkyDrive is kind of awesome but has one big problem. It’s slow as heck to upload and download!! So when you’re trying to synchronize 5 gigabytes of data this is important. Dropbox and Google Drive are reportedly significantly faster. There’s a lot of people experiencing the slowness of SkyDrive so you can see plenty of transfer speed comparisons.

So I spent awhile first trying SkyDrive and then switching everything over to Dropbox. Let’s see how things go…

Office 2013 Preview

I just noticed that Office 2013 has a "Blog Entry" template in the new version of Word. Maybe it has been there in previous versions but I’ve never seen it! So I’m giving it a whirl. Just installed the Office suite today, and I must say that it has made me "feel" like being more productive. Something as simple as typing is enhanced by how they have changed the flow of the cursor animation. It makes the words seem to glide out of the screen rather than a ka-chunk-chunk-chunk of individual letters being slammed into a keyboard. I know, sounds crazy, but it’s made me want to write more e-mails and actually enjoy using Outlook.

Speaking of Outlook, when I first installed the suite, Outlook refused to boot. I was worried since Outlook is the only application which doesn’t allow you to keep your previous version (i.e. run side-by-side Office 2010 and Office 2013). So I thought I was going to be locked out of my e-mail!

Nicely I searched online and found a solution. If you are receiving the, "Cannot start Microsoft Outlook. Cannot open the outlook window. The set of folders cannot be opened. An unexpected error has occurred," here is the solution.

Oh, this blog entry template doesn’t allow you to insert video. What a shame. The Office 2013 preview video.

Download the free preview here.

Well worth the time!

Update: There’s a weird issue with Gmail accounts connected via IMAP.  I move, delete, and otherwise change a mail message but it will respawn in my inbox.  Rather frustrating.  If I continue to do it eventually the change will stick but I’m not sure what’s going on.  Maybe it’s a timeout issue.

There is now support for Hotmail Tasks on the To-Do pane of Outlook, which is awesome!

Windows Phone 8

Yesterday Microsoft revealed the features for its upcoming Windows Phone 8 system.

Unsurprisingly, current Windows Phone 7 devices won’t be able to run Windows Phone 8.  However the biggest “look & feel” upgrade is the change to the Live Tiles on the start screen.  Thankfully this feature will be delivered to existing WP7 devices… as “Windows Phone 7.8.”

Live Tiles on Windows Phone 8 and Windows Phone 7.8

 

CNN.com has a good summary of Windows Phone 8 features.