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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

E13: Switching to Windows 10 and the Surface Book, and pre-orders

Danny and I have a Saturday morning conversation about my purchase of the new Microsoft Surface Book with Performance Base and switching from macOS to Windows 10.

Links:

Thanks to Danny for the early wakeup.

I edited this MP3 and published this post on Windows 10. Yay!

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Surface Book reviews

I’m keeping an extremely close eye on all things Microsoft lately. I’ve even stated, publicly, that I think if they continue on their current course they are going to be beating Apple on several fronts within half a decade.

One product out of Redmond I’m watching closely is the new Surface Book. Even though today is the day they are supposed to be out, most stores that carry Microsoft products do not have them. Not even for display. Even Microsoft’s own retail stores only have them on display and you can’t buy one yet. (This information came from multiple calls to multiple stores, not from me physically visiting one.)

As the embargo on reviews has seemingly been lifted the reviews are pouring in. I’ve read/watched a few so far… notably Norman Chan’s, Mr Mobile’s, Dan Seifert’s and Dana Wollman’s. Go read/watch their reviews.

Here are a few other details I’ve picked up:

  • The new Surface Book isn’t new. But the base, or keyboard, is. The Performance Base, as MSFT calls it, comes with a GPU now and it didn’t before. There are also a few subtle configurations that are different now.
  • The Surface Book gets no where near the battery life that Microsoft claims. The only reviewer that got anywhere close to the same battery life as Microsoft claims was Dana Wollman at Engadget. And this was only because she set up the Surface Book simply to play video rather than do any real tasks. Norman Chan and MrMobile both got abysmal battery life.
  • Apple catches a lot of flak for the MacBook Pros doing away with ports, but the Surface Book is also lacking many of the ports you’d want on it. It rather relies on a proprietary port and a $200 box you can use to extend the port offerings.
  • When gaming (which I never do) it gets pretty hot.

I was very eager to purchase the new Surface Book. I was ready to trade in my MacBook Pro and get one today, actually. But I’m glad I didn’t after these reviews. My excitement has been squashed a bit. It shows it pays to wait for the reviews to come out rather than rely on what Microsoft puts on display during their events.

So now I’m back to being truly torn. Do I purchase a new MacBook Pro or the Surface Book? I have no idea.

E11: Browsers, Surfaces, MacBook Pros, and Tesla roof

Danny and I have an early Sunday morning conversation about our browsers of choice (he likes Vivaldi), Microsoft and Apple’s announcements this week and the Tesla roof.

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Touch Bar

I’ve been tweeting like crazy about the new MacBook Pros and how I’ve found the most recent updates underwhelming. But I couldn’t come up with a great way to describe how I felt about Touch Bar in a way that I wanted in my blog archives. Until I read this.

Michael Tsai:

I’m not crazy about Touch Bar, but it does seem potentially useful.

That’s exactly it for me. The Touch Bar does not excite me. But, I can see how it could be potentially useful.

Apple asked a bunch of people to fly to their campuses to show them a new version of the MacBook Pro that is, of course, lighter thinner and has less ports. And it has the Touch Bar. But it isn’t what I wanted from them. And, as you see from Tsai’s post, perhaps they don’t care. I don’t care about lighter or thinner. I care about performance, storage, reliability.

I am underwhelmed. No. It is worse than that. I’m disappointed.

I’m using a 2012 MacBook Pro. I’m ready to upgrade. But I can see no compelling reason to do so. Not for Touch Bar that’s for sure. After spending some time with the Surface Book this weekend I can now say I’m going to purchase one and see if I can make the switch. Microsoft’s software may not yet be up-to-snuff but they certainly have my attention and it appears I’m not alone.

Microsoft open sources .NET Core

Richard Lander on the .NET Blog:

We are excited to announce the release of .NET Core 1.0, ASP.NET Core 1.0 and Entity Framework Core 1.0, available on Windows, OS X and Linux! .NET Core is a cross-platform, open source, and modular .NET platform for creating modern web apps, microservices, libraries and console applications.

They said they would, and they did. Good on MSFT. Likely an incredible amount of work to get this out. And supposedly this is also a deep rewrite of .NET Core.

Google has JAVA (though, they didn’t make it), Apple has Swift, and now MSFT has .NET*. All fully open source languages, frameworks, and platforms backed by public companies. A good time to be a programmer.

* MSFT has had .NET forever, it is just that now it is open sourced.

Digital Transformations

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, on LinkedIn:

Each of us are part of our economies and our societies. Long-term growth is directly related to our ability to make our climate more sustainable, our economies more viable and our societies more equitable. Those changes can only happen if we ask ourselves two questions: What difference is our business making? And what difference are we making?

Satya’s Build keynote introduction made it clear that he believes technology can change society for good. We can all agree that it is changing society, but it is arguable whether or not all of it is for good. His position is that he’s both optimistic — that in the long run the changes will be good — and driven — that he and Microsoft will try to make good decisions about how technology fits into our lives.

He’s only been in the CEO chair for a little while but I believe he has a vision for the future of the world and of Microsoft that is based on his core beliefs far more than his predecessor. I welcome it. And I like him.

I’m looking forward to Microsoft’s Build conference today…

I’m looking forward to Microsoft’s Build conference today. Last year’s presentation left me with a completely different attitude toward the company. Let’s hope they keep up the momentum this year.

Windows 10 update

Terry Myerson:

Today, we reach our next milestone as the first major update to Windows 10 is now available* for PCs and tablets. With this update, there are improvements in all aspects of the platform and experience, including thousands of partners updating their device drivers and applications for great Windows 10 compatibility.

Looks like a good update especially for older devices. One update, multiple device categories, on the same day. How I wish someone else was doing this same sorta thing!

Windows 10 privacy problems

David Auerbach, writing for Slate:

By default, Windows 10 gives itself the right to pass loads of your data to Microsoft’s servers, use your bandwidth for Microsoft’s own purposes, and profile your Windows usage. Despite the accolades Microsoft has earned for finally doing its job, Windows 10 is currently a privacy morass in dire need of reform.

Oh boy. Fortunately, Auerbach goes on and shows you how to restrict the information that Windows 10 can collect.

/via Nick Semon.

Windows 10 launch

Microsoft is reporting 14,000,000 Windows 10 installs in 24 hours. Not bad.

Me, in May:

I want Microsoft to do great things. I want Windows Phone to be as amazing as it is but with thousands more applications. I want HoloLens to exist. I want to see whether Microsoft’s unified Windows Platform will be a better idea than Apple’s bifurcated one.

From what I’ve seen and heard so far people are enjoying Windows 10. That’s great. I hope what they’re doing will be a home run. Like I said back in May — it is going to be an exciting 5 years.

Microsoft’s Windows 10 Vision Isn’t Simple

Cade Metz for Wired on Microsoft’s vision for Windows 10 to be on a billion devices and for applications from Android, iOS, and Windows all running on them “easily”:

But this kind of thing is never as easy as it seems. “I’m skeptical of anything that pretends to be the magic bullet,” says one coder, who requested anonymity because he works closely with Windows. In many cases, coders must manually modify their apps so that they run on disparate devices (these devices, after all, are quite different). And even if Microsoft’s tools provide an onramp to all Windows devices that’s as simple as promised, that’s no guarantee that coders will actually use them to build apps for things like Windows phones or Hololens—particularly if these coders are already focused on other operating systems.

What Microsoft showed at Build is obviously not the best way to build an application for Windows. However, for now, for today, to get up-and-running, it may be the quickest way to get something on Windows so that you’re able to support the new Windows 10 users.

I hope developers port their apps to Windows 10 using Microsoft’s toolset to do so and then go back and rethink them from the beginning if they get any traction there.

 

Microsoft’s Build Keynote

I just finished watching Microsoft’s Build Keynote from yesterday. If you haven’t seen it, and understand developer jargon, I recommend you watch it.

My takeaways:

  • Windows is about to get a lot more applications
  • Office is now as big a platform for MSFT as Windows is
  • Visual Studio Code is very good (I’ve been using it all day)
  • Azure is a beast

That first one is pretty important. Me, in August 2013 regarding Windows Phone:

Windows Phone is a much better competitor to iOS than Android currently is. It is clean, simple to use, vastly different than iOS (which is good since Android and iOS just bite off each other with each release), and really fun to play with. The problem? Official apps.

Yesterday Microsoft announced a slew of things that could change the only gripe I had with Windows Phone.

Trying iOS, Android, and Windows

Fred Wilson:

I plan to go back to iOS when the next iPhone ships, and then back to Android six months after that. In this way, I can stay current on both operating systems and ecosystems which I think is useful in my business.

I wish I could do this again. For a time I was when we had a number of testing devices laying around. I’d pick one up and using it for a weekend here and there. During that time my eyes were opened to what was available on all platforms.

At that time Windows Phone stuck out to me as the winner over Android but iOS was still in the lead. I wrote:

Windows Phone is a much better competitor to iOS than Android currently is. It is clean, simple to use, vastly different than iOS (which is good since Android and iOS just bite off each other with each release), and really fun to play with. The problem? Official apps.

And official apps are still a problem on Windows. Windows Phone was great the way Mac OS was great for years. Microsoft just didn’t stick with it. They got beat. And now it seems like they are moving on.

It was expensive to have multiple new and up-to-date devices in service at the same time. I think our monthly bill was roughly $700 or so. Not cheap for a small business. I like Wilson’s approach a bit more. Switch between devices completely once a year or so. Perhaps I’ll find a way to do that too.

 

I’d love to see Windows Phone become the third horse in the smartphone OS race

Fred Wilson, on Android and iOS:

But I find myself rooting hard for Apple now. I sense the danger they are in and I don’t want either smartphone OS to be so dominant that we lose the level playing field we have now. It’s very important for startups, innovation, and an open mobile ecosystem for all.

It is true. Apple has been dominant for too long and in some ways Android is really beginning to creep on their turf. There are many layers to the smartphone market onion but I look at three things when I try to determine who is winning: market share, profit, number of official apps.

Each of these three categories are important and any single company can focus on any combination of the three and still be “winning” or at least competing. I think Apple has focused on design quality and number of official apps as their primary ways to maintain profitshare. And they earn the lion’s share of the money being earned in the smartphone market. I think Android has focused on low cost, “open” offerings to capture market share. And they’re obviously doing a great job at growing.

By capturing market share, as Wilson mentioned in his post, Android will now end up capturing the official applications it was missing out on before because Android is where the people are. Or, at least as many people or more than on iOS. Wilson posits that iOS and Android are near parity. I think he’s right. And I think we’re about to see a shift in perception in Android as more and more official apps are made either first or at the same time as they are for iOS. See: Dropbox, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. Imagine if Instagram was made today and made only for Android. Something like that could happen any day.

Because of my work I have an iPhone 5, a Samsung Galaxy S4, a Motorola Razr, and a Nokia Lumia 920 running Windows Phone on my desk. The iPhone 5 has been my daily use phone since June 29, 2007. The Samsung Galaxy S4 is an amazing technical achievement – with the eye watching and all – but overall I am not in love with Android. Certainly not as much as my friend Paul. It is just too busy, too much going on, there always seems to be so much running. Android is far from simple. Not to mention that the manufacturers and telcos end up adding so much junk to the phone it can seem hard to navigate through. The S4 came with three browsers and four ways to buy music pre-installed! I realize this isn’t Android’s “fault” but as a consumer it is certainly confusing.

Regarding Windows Phone

Windows Phone OS

Windows Phone is probably not going to take off if they haven’t found a way to do it already. But can I just say this? Windows Phone is a much better competitor to iOS than Android currently is. It is clean, simple to use, vastly different than iOS (which is good since Android and iOS just bite off each other with each release), and really fun to play with. The problem? Official apps.

Most of the applications on Windows Phone are absolutely abysmal if they aren’t the official apps. The Instagram apps end up getting their photos deleted from Instagram because they use Private APIs. Not to mention that when compared to Instagram they’re terrible. The Dropbox apps, which aren’t official, are simply unusable. All of the official apps, however, such as Twitter, Spotify, and others are superior to their iOS counterparts in a number of ways. I love the Spotify app on Windows Phone.

As the smartphone market matures from people buying their first smartphone to people buying their second, third, and fourth smartphones people are going to come to expect the quality they find on iOS and now on Android. The official applications are, in general, amazingly well-made and work great. If someone gets a Windows Phone as their second or third smartphone they are simply going to think that the applications on it are poor.

I think Windows Phone “the OS” is great. But I think Windows Phone “the business” doesn’t have a focus. They aren’t focused on market share by offering amazingly cheap hardware. They aren’t focused on having the best official apps. And they aren’t focused on profit. I don’t know what Windows Phone stands for besides Microsoft simply having an OS in the mobile space. And I certainly don’t see enough ads for Windows Phone.

I wish Windows Phone had a better shot. I love the Lumia. If it had a few more official applications on it I’d switch to it from my iPhone 5 in a heartbeat. I haven’t tried the Lumia 1020 but if it is even better than the 920 I could see myself switching in spite of the application debacle. But I don’t know if Windows Phone has a chance. I don’t know what they should focus on to get to parity with Android and iOS and I don’t even know if there is room in the market – large as it may be – for a third horse.

I agree with Wilson that Android and iOS are near parity but I’d love to see Windows Phone become the third horse in the smartphone OS race.

The Web 2.0 Expo experience

When I first found out that the entire Viddler team would be going to San Francisco for the Web 2.0 Expo – I wasn’t sure of what to expect from the Expo. Would it be a social (tshirt and jeans) or more a professional (suit and tie) type of conference? And really, it turned out to be a little bit of both.

The Expo

moscone_expo
The Web 2.0 Expo Floor

The expo floor was filled with companies of all types ranging from large companies like Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft to smaller more fun companies like Viddler, Zimki, and Piczo. Some people were being very professional and demonstrating some very high-level enterprise applications (which are typically found behind-the-scenes of more social software. ie. Analytics and monitoring systems for server grids). Others were demonstrating their next-generation web service that can take care of all your development needs from coding, to versioning, to deployment all in a social and collaborative way. Each had their pitch, each had something very interesting to offer, and each were trying to make their product/service stand out from the pack.

The sessions that I got to see (which weren’t many since I didn’t have a session pass so I had to sneak into any of the rooms by tossing Hershey Kisses on the floor in front of the badge-checker on the way in) were much more “professional” than the panels I got to see when I was at South by Southwest this year. This isn’t to say that those panels at SXSW were not done in a professional manner, but that the sessions at the Web 2.0 Expo were much less interactive and more a demonstration of some products/services/companies that stood out as doing good work in their various fields.

Web2Open

Chris Messina discusses hAtomic

The Web2Open Mashroom

Running adjacent to the Web 2.0 Expo keynotes and sessions was Web2Open which is a *Camp style event that run in the main corridors on the second floor. Various presentations and discussions given by people that attended and participated in Web2Open were very good. “Minutes” were taken by various people and left on the walls so that if you came late to a particular discussion, you were able to quickly catch up and be part of the conversation. If you didn’t like where the discussion was going you were able to change the topic yourself by suggesting a topic, or – you could literally get up and go into another room where maybe the topic suited you a little better.

The idea of doing Open conferences like this is still very much in beta – and the process is being refined by the attendees each and every time one of these events goes on – but they are definitely much more attractive than any other event that I’ve been to. Simply being able to steer the conversation by simply raising your hand and asking a question lends itself very well to building value for those that attend.

The Viddler team and version 2.0

Viddler had a massive push to finish Q&A and testing on the its latest version of the site and player and managed to fit in many hours of development in order to release version 2.0. There are still a few bugs being worked out as soon as the developers and managers get back home from this trip – but overall the release was a big success and was fairly well received. The roadmap for Viddler is still quite exciting and the entire team is looking forward to the next step. I’ll have some more information about this and will be asking for everyone’s feedback on some of our ideas shortly.

saratoga_cake

We celebrated version 2.0 a little bit early with some champagne and cake. The entire team was staying in Saratoga at our President’s relative’s house. We were so well taken care of that none of us wanted to leave (freshly squeezed orange juice right off the tree every morning makes a man wanna stick around).

Meeting the entire team for the first time was awesome. Working remotely with our team is really great and is actually conducive to getting very good work accomplished without the added expense and overhead of having everyone move to one location and setting up the proper digs for such an effort. However, it was nice to finally spend some time together to get to know each other even better and fit a real personality to the people that I have the privilege of working with everyday.

Harry and I got to work on our commercial together, which has caused a little bit of a stir with some members – which is always good to know that our users are reading our terms of use. We’re looking forward to updating our terms of use to fit more inline with what we really want to be able to do — promote really good video content and display it in an interactive and valuable way.

The Web 2 Party

The moment I got a feel for who was going to be at the Web 2 Expo; namely my friends from Citizen Agency, Ma.gnolia, etc. – I decided I really wanted to have a party with a few companies to help fit the bill to really pull off something nice. I mentioned this to Larry Halff and Chris Messina and I must say – they really took the ball and ran with it especially considering my inexperience in putting something like this together combined with the fact that I’m on the east coast far away from finding out about all of the venues that were available.

Tara (unknown last name) (aka Tara 2.0) came through in a very big way and secured our venue and setup everything we needed go pull off a successful event. Having an “event planner” is really key when you are trying to do one of these events with multiple companies and tons of logistics involved. If you are thinking of doing something like we did – I definitely recommend assigning one experienced person to get everything setup properly.

varnish_party
The party attendees

The party, in my opinion, was a huge success and it seemed like everyone had a really great time. People were lined up outside to get in, we were “at capacity” for the entire duration of the party, and people had to be escorted out of the gallery when the place closed. I had been to a few events at South by Southwest where people leaved early, the bar tab ran out quickly, or where generally not many people showed up. Such was not the scene for the Web 2 Party and we had a great time meeting everyone who came, shooting some video, and had some great discussions.

We’ve been talking about doing something in New York in the Fall so be sure to keep your ear to the ground. We don’t want to let all the west coast peeps have all the fun!

I know I’m speaking for the entire Viddler team when I say that w
e’d like to thank Citizen Agency for helping to coordinate the entire event, and thanks to Ma.gnolia, Scrapblog, JanRain, faberNovel, Facebook, Plasq, and WineLibraryTVfor helping us in throwing the best party during the Web 2.0 Expo. We hope you had as much fun as we all did.

The photos

Here is just a small collection of photos that I took over the course of the week. I didn’t have a lot of time to shoot many photos as I always seemed to be busy recording video, talking at our booth, chatting with friends or just generally preoccupied with other things. I recommend you look at the Viddler Group on Flickr for more photos (oh, if you have photos please put them in the Viddler group) and also watch the Viddler tag on Viddler to see any video that may pop up over the next few days from the Expo.

santaclara_viddler2
Version 2.0 development

Chris Tingom
Chris Tingom

saratoga_house
Viddler Palace

saratoga_lucaszkasper
Lucasz and Kasper

saratoga_oranges
Oranges from Saratoga

saratoga_breakfast
Breakfast meeting

moscone_booth
Viddler booth

Blake Burris
Blake Burris and I

D. Keith Robinson at Varnish

Crazy Keith

Dustin Diaz at Varnish
“Naked” Dustin

Gina Bolton at Varnish
Joyful Jina

The Viddler gang at Ritual Coffee Roasters
The Viddler gang at Ritual Coffee Roasters

Harry Snodgrass
Firecracker Harry

Again I wish that I had more time to take more photos than I did but I’m thankful that friends like Chris Tingom were able to take a bunch of photos during our trip.

So the next time you hear that Viddler is coming to your town or throwing a party in your neighborhood – be sure to give us a shout and come out and drink some of our beerz…