The seeds Nadella’s been planting since he hopped in the chief executive seat blossomed in full this year. Looking ahead, Microsoft’s future looks bright so long as it doesn’t drop the ball.
You already know where I stand on this topic.
Again, this is only the things I came across this year and can remember. I don’t keep a list throughout the year but rather rely on my memory. If you think I missed something great please reach out.
I’ve linked to Becky’s blog 6 times this year. Mostly related to her iOS app SnapThread (which I can’t even use because I’m no longer on iOS). She openly published her thoughts, trials, tribulations, and triumphs (and new children) throughout the year. The epitome of a personal blog.
Each year Lynn Fisher shows off her talent to build responsive web designs in a fun way by redesigning her site/blog. Go ahead and resize your browser on her homepage. Very fun.
Hear me out. This blog publishes tons of times per day. The web site is obnoxious with ads (very thankful for RSS!). Despite that, since switching to Windows 10 this year I have been thankful to have a resource like this to keep me up-to-date with all things Windows. It has proven very useful to learn a number of tips and tricks and to know what the latest features are in Windows.
This past September we visited Iceland – and it was definitely the standout trip of our year. The landscape, the water, the horses, the northern lights – everything was amazing.
I certainly laughed out loud more than once while reading this book. It was a fun read and is much better than any of the movies or series I’ve seen trying to adapt it to screen. Though I did enjoy Martin Freeman in one of the more recent movie adaptations.
Runners up: The Road by Cormac McCarthy – sad, but good read. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand – what a story.
Spotify continues to be one of the greatest services I’ve ever used. Eliza and I are on a family plan and we use the service every single day at home, on the go, at work. See also.
This is a fun album. It wanders around a little but overall it is a solid album to put on while enjoying a Manhattan (one of my requisites for good music). I also enjoyed his interview with Terry Gross about the album.
Runners up: Free Yourself Up – Lake Street Dive, SYRE – Jaden Smith (don’t @ me).
I am hoping to watch this one again soon. It isn’t particularly revolutionary or mind blowing – but the pacing, the acting, and the overall balance of the movie is really good. Enjoyed it thoroughly.
Runner up: I just saw the new Spiderman and it is very refreshing. So glad they did something so different.
In my opinion, Microsoft has been firing on all cylinders for nearly the entirety of Satya Nadella’s lead. Their Surface hardware, Windows 10, Azure cloud services, acquisition of Github, Open Source initiatives, and push into mobile through Android has really been something to watch. Don’t call it a comeback but really, this company is back. See also.
I haven’t had time to write a proper review of this device yet but I do plan to. This is easily my favorite iPad ever – and I really, really liked my iPad Air 2. One quick anecdote; Face ID is extremely fast and works in so many more circumstances than I thought possible.
Very close runner up: Google Home Mini. We now have 3 of these in our apartment (kitchen, living room, bathroom) and we use them every single day for playing music, starting Netflix or YouTube videos on our TV, viewing photos from past vacations, and setting reminders or alarms. I hope to utilize these even more this coming year but I’m delighted at the capabilities of a device you can get for $29 (when on sale and we even got 1 for free with our Spotify subscription).
The Mozilla Firefox team is killing it this year. This browser is my favorite ever on any device. I also use it on Android and iOS. And I’m glad too given recent news re: Edge and Chrome. A few features I cannot live without at this point: Containers, Sync, Pocket (which could work in any browser but is built right into Firefox).
Runners up: 1Password – Eliza and I moved everything into 1Password this year and we couldn’t be happier that we did. Should have done so a long time ago. Visual Studio Code – Still the best code editor on any platform and certainly the best free editor.
I use this app twice a day on my commute to and from work. I never have any issues with it, and every decision made by the design team seems to be right in line with what I want from a podcast app. My feature wish list for this app is relatively short and I believe they are coming with a not-too-distant-future update.
Runner up: Waze this app has saved me hours of sitting in traffic just this year.
I’ve been using Trello more this year than any year previous and I find it to be incredibly well made. I don’t think we’ve had a single moment of downtime the entire year and, although I’d like it to be slightly less expensive for our team of ~30 I feel it is a very useful tool.
I’ve also tried to fit it into my workflow for other things like replacing a previous year’s winner; Bullet Journal. I couldn’t get it to fit. So I now have a hybrid system of using my daily Bullet Journal with Calendar and Trello.
Runner up: OneDrive – I’ve been using OneDrive this year for so many things across all platforms. The utility rarely messes up (whereas Google’s is terrible) and the space is affordable.
I use this small Windows utility to move files from OneDrive to two backup hard drives and Google Photos from my phone, camera, drone, and Eliza’s phone. It is far, far from perfect but I have wrestled it into doing exactly what I need.
Runner up: Snip & Sketch on Windows 10. I have this app mapped to my Logitech MX Master 2S’s middle click to quickly take screenshots and mark them up. It is an indispensable part of my workflow now working with my team. I just middle click, drag a rectangle, and CNTRL + V into any app I’m using to show my team a screenshot. I probably use this 5 times a day on average.
I hike a lot. And I like to photograph nature. Listening to Meat Eater, and watching their show on Netflix, has given me a lot of knowledge about how to approach animals, how to know where on the landscape I’m allowed to go, and tons of other tips.
I’m also going to pick up fishing again in 2019 as a result of listening to this podcast.
This guy is killing it. Each week he produces a new episode in a number of series on design. He’s incredibly quirky and likely not to everyone’s taste but I’ve found his videos both entertaining and educational.
I had a few other categories that I’ve now dropped off because the list got a bit long. So instead, I’m just going to finish off this post with a bunch of random links to things.
Somehow I missed that he was at Tesla.
After three and a half years at the company, Kim moved to Tesla, where he contributed to the designs of several vehicles, including the Model 3, S, X, and Y as well as the Roadster V2 and the Semi, according to his LinkedIn profile.
There are several key talents that I personally try to keep track of as they bounce around. A few come to mind like Bret Victor, Mike Matas, and Chris Lattner. There are tons more. Andrew Kim has been one of them. His designs are both striking and practical.
The question is; what is he working on at Apple?
There’s just no sugar-coating this. I’m sure the decision makes sound business sense for Microsoft, but it’s not good for the health of the web.
His reaction is very similar to mine. His call to action is too.
Chris Beard, CEO Mozilla Corporation:
Microsoft’s decision gives Google more ability to single-handedly decide what possibilities are available to each one of us.
From one point-of-view this move by Microsoft might seem to make total sense. They spin this as “it will be easier for web developers to target one less browser engine”. However, this is exactly what web standards are supposed to afford – developers target the same set of standards and the browser engines, however many there are, target the same set of standards. In theory, having multiple engines shouldn’t make it too much more difficult for developers. In practice, however, it has. But most developers would agree that to avoid a monopoly in the browser market we’d take on the added complexity we’ve had for years. In fact, having multiple browser engines has made browsing on the web better since the competition has led to faster load times, less battery drain, and less computer memory usage.
Beard’s take is right on. Google has not shown themselves to be the best steward of privacy, of web standards, or of leading the most popular browser engine. In fact, they routinely build web applications that only work using their engine. This is the exact antithesis of the web. And giving Google even more power is obviously not a good thing.
Microsoft, though, can do whatever they’d like. It is just unfortunate they’ve decided to go this route.
I switched away from Chrome in 2017 for good. I’ve been using Firefox on every device I own and while it is a little more work to do so on iOS I will continue to.
Beard’s call-to-action is to use Firefox. I think you should too. But I would simply say use anything but Chrome for a while just to swing the market in more directions.
In Things about Windows 10 #2 I wrote:
It turns out Windows 10 is fairly terrible at remembering window sizes and placement when connecting to or disconnecting from an external display.
This post is in a similar vein.
The Windows 10 taskbar houses a few apps that constantly run such as OneDrive, Google Drive, Docker, 1Password, etc. This is very similar to macOS’s menu bar at the top of the screen. These small apps don’t require full window interfaces in many cases, and they run all the time, so the developers decided not to make them full blown apps that have their own task bar items with other apps like your email or calendar.
The issue I have is that whenever I change display sizes the “faux windows” or small pop-up dialogs that these icons invoke all but disappear (see right side of screenshot). From my research and my own noodling around there is no way to retrieve these without restarting the processes these icons represent. It isn’t as easy as quitting the “app” since you cannot find the interface to do so. You have to open the Windows 10 Task Manager and find the process and quit it. Then reopen that process yourself.
I waited several builds of Windows 10 to write this post, thinking it would be fixed very quickly. I cannot imagine that Microsoft’s Windows team isn’t running into this every single day themselves so I’m hoping a fix is in the works.
Occasionally I will have need to transfer photos from Eliza’s iPhone X to my Windows 10 laptop. I’ve found the process of transferring the photos to be excruciatingly slow, unreliable, and frustrating. That is, until I figured out a better way.
Most tutorials, including Microsoft’s own, will recommend you plug the phone into your computer, open the Photos for Windows 10 app, and import the files through that app. But this never worked for me. I was attempting to transfer just under 5,000 photos and the process rarely worked for more than a few hundred before the phone disconnected, the process halted, or an error message popped up.
It turns out there is a better way. Here are the steps I recommend.
Using this process proved to work reliably and much quicker than going through the Photos app. Also, toggling that one option in Settings made a world of difference in reliability.
Of course, this was my experience, your mileage may vary.
Well, I had said I’d try to keep this series positive but every now and then you run up against a problem.
It turns out Windows 10 is fairly terrible at remembering window sizes and placement when connecting to or disconnecting from an external display. So far I’ve had issues going both ways and having to rearrange all of my windows each time. On the Mac, it always remembers how I like my windows arranged in each context. I’m connected to an external display most of the time so I only feel this pain a few times per week.
This turns out to be a particularly frustrating issue if an app, like DropIt, doesn’t have a Taskbar item. It means you can’t “get a window back” onto the primary display without some sort of trickery.
Here is what you do: select the app by clicking on the primary icon for it, type Alt then Space then M (not at the same time) and that will allow you to move the “lost” window with your arrow keys to get it back.
There is so much blogger coverage for Apple’s hardware and software products that I feel there needs to be a few more in the Microsoft and Google world. To that end I’m going to start a few new series here on my personal blog; Things about Windows 10, Things about Android.
Generally, I’ll be keeping both of these series positive. I contemplated calling them “Things I like about Windows 10” but, inevitably, there will be some things that I wish were a bit better. So, they will just be “things” that I find interesting.
This first thing about Windows 10, Task Bar Previews, I like very much.
Let’s say you have an application that has two windows currently open. In the above screenshot I have two File Explorer windows open. By simply hovering the Task Bar icon for that application I can quickly see a preview of sorts for what those windows look like. It turns out to be very handy.
It goes a bit further than that as well. If I hover a single one of those previews, everything else fades away on my computer and I’m able to see just that preview.
Check this one out where I have a bunch File Explorer windows open while moving myriad files from one place to another.
I’ve found this feature very useful in just the first few weeks of using Windows 10 every single day.