Reminders

There is nothing worse than forgetting something, especially if that something important affects more people than yourself.

I have been using Evernote for a few months now and it is an awesome tool and helps me out a lot. It very rarely happens, but in some cases like today, it would be nice if I had some kind of alert for a particular to-do list item. Something that will audibly and visually grab my attention whether it is on my iPhone or my computer. 

As far as I am aware Evernote does not provide such a feature. I will give it some research, but for now my immediate solution is going to be the Reminders app for iOS. It has the ability to sync with my Outlook.com calendar, so if push comes to shove I still have some way of being reminded about that all important item.

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Dual-wielding Browsers

It really is a never ending story!

For a lot of the web-based applications I use at work the Safari browser just doesn’t cut it, so this is what I am going to do:

  1. For work purposes I am going to strictly use Google Chrome. Our company utilizes Google Apps, so I will use my company Google account to sync just my work-based bookmarks.
  2. For personal browsing I will continue to utilize Safari for moments when I need to check non-work related items without having to reboot into my Windows partition.

I will then remove work-based bookmarks from my personal Browser, so that work and personal stuff is truly separate. It pains me to have to use two separate Browser’s, but Google Chrome is so much better for the web-apps I use, plus I get to utilize app tabs, which is extremely convenient.

 

A Week in Windows

For the past week I have primarily been using the latest addition to the Windows family of Operating Systems, Windows 8 Pro.

My word have things changed and in my opinion they have changed for the better!

I have been reading a variety of reviews some of which rate the new OS as “OK”, some “A sign of good things to come”, others “A complete disaster!”.

One review I read, which was reassuring, mentioned that the same things were being said about the Windows 1.0 OS when Microsoft first transitioned away from the command-line interface of MS-DOS to the new graphical user interface. Of course, a change this big was not well received at first and it took Microsoft a few releases to truly nail it and make Windows 1.0 something that was usable. As you all know it wasn’t too long after this that Microsoft went on to dominate the PC market for decades.

Now Microsoft is faced with a similar conundrum. This time they are transitioning from a well known desktop graphical user interface to a new touch-centric user interface, but still trying to preserve desktop functionality and usability. It’s quite a feat and as expected there has been a lot of criticism. I don’t think Microsoft thought people would take to it instantly, as there are people out there who still complain that Windows 7 is too different from Windows XP and continue to use this ancient OS even though Microsoft will be pulling the plug on support for it.

To borrow a quote from Steve Jobs “Time takes care of these things” and rightly so. Microsoft arrived late to the smartphone and tablet market and it’s clear that this is where people are spending their money and their time carrying out everyday computing tasks. We rely so heavily on mobile devices these days that even companies like Facebook and Google worry about how to target phone & tablet users with ads because there is where more than 95% of their revenue comes from. It’s an astonishing transition!

I think Microsoft can pull this off though. As late as they may be in terms of establishing a presence within the smartphone and tablet markets they are further ahead in some ways. Apple still has two separate OS’s: OS X and iOS. They sync all of your data very well via iCloud, but the experience is notably different between the two platforms. This is not the case with Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. On paper they come across as two separate OS’s, but they are based off the exact same kernel, which puts Microsoft in a better position going forward. Right now there are some shortcomings such as not being able to view movie content purchased from Windows 8’s Xbox Live Video store on Windows Phone 8, but I am under the strong impression that these things will be resolved soon. As for the experience though, that’s where the magic happens.

For a couple of days I had the chance to play around on a Nokia Lumia 820 and hopping between Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 felt completely seamless! I set up the tiles to match as closely to the configuration of my desktop (give or take a few things due to smaller screen real estate). Veterans of the Windows OS who opt for a Windows Phone first while still using Windows XP or Windows 7 may find this as a way to ease themselves into Windows 8 and likewise people like me who have been using Windows 8 Pro full time, but still have an iPhone, may find themselves looking into a Windows Phone in the future.

Another advantage that came to mind, which I believe Microsoft is probably already working on, is the feature I have longed for in the OS X / iOS world whereby you could simply dock your phone into a larger screen with a keyboard and mouse and get a full desktop experience. As Windows Phone runs the same kernel as Windows desktop/server it can support the same amount of CPU’s and RAM. When phones become powerful enough surely this architectural decision that Microsoft made will come into play. This makes sense seeing as Office and other desktop related software is still the biggest cash cow for them.

I know this is all just speculation, but it is something that has got me very excited and as mentioned earlier I have not been this excited about a Windows release since Windows 98. Such a coincidence that both versions have an ‘8’ in their name 🙂

I’m definitely going to be riding this one out and so with that I am announcing a full transition to Windows 8 Pro! That means Operation Transport was a success and I now have everything I ever need running on Windows. Due to the work carried out as part of Operation Drano there wasn’t much else that needed to change because all of the applications I rely on are available on Windows 8. However, one thing has changed… yes, you guessed, I no longer use Google Chrome! I am a huge fan of Internet Explorer 10. No, you did not read incorrectly, I am a huge fan of Internet Explorer 10. In all of the time that I used Windows on my personal computer (1995-2002) and for work (2004-2012) I have always opted for Mozilla Firefox and the more recent Google Chrome. I loathed Internet Explorer all the way up to version 9 in Windows 7. Internet Explorer 10, however, is a different animal and the metro version is down right slick!

“But wait! What about your bookmarks?!” Fear not Ladies and Gentlemen, as I will be utilizing the power of iCloud to be the synchronizer of browser data between Windows 8, OS X, and iOS. Apple developed the iCloud Control Panel for people running Windows, which was very nice of them. You can sync bookmarks with Internet Explorer and sync your Photo Stream. For email, contacts, and calendars it recommends that you utilize iCloud.com instead, but this isn’t a problem for me as I am now fully up and running on Outlook.com for email, contacts, and calendars.

This means that on OS X and iOS I now utilize the Safari browser, which for iOS, is better purely because Apple does not allow you to set the iOS version of Google Chrome to be the default browser anyway. As for OS X it will take a little getting used to, but in the name of simplicity it is best to just run Safari.

“But wait! Internet Explorer and Safari do not run on Linux!” Unfortunately Linux will always be an OS I tinker with on older machines, run as virtual machines, and use for server side technology. I don’t think I can utilize it as a permanent desktop OS 😦

Operation Transport – Phase 1 Completed

The reason Operation Drano failed is because Linux as a primary desktop OS just didn’t cut it for me. I love to tinker with computers, but for me (at least on my primary machine) the stability of the system has to be perfect.

During the course of the last 5 years I have always dabbled with Linux on a secondary machine and never felt I was quite ready to make the transition full time. However, 2012 looked to change that and I found myself running Linux more and more. In the past 6 months I have looked at:

  • Fedora (GNOME & Xfce)
  • OpenSUSE
  • Ubuntu 10.04 LTS and 12.04 LTS
  • Linux Mint (GNOME & KDE)
  • Kubuntu 12.04 LTS

Kubuntu was looking to be the most promising, but unfortunately even that wasn’t stable enough. Each OS was run on a MacBook Pro, which some may argue is not fair, but then in addition to that there are a lot of work related things I do on my personal computer and so it still needs to support a wide range of applications.

In the end it was becoming clear that Linux wasn’t going to be easily manageable (for me that is) and the Mac is becoming too dumbed down; therefore after an entire decade away from running Windows as my primary OS on my personal machine I have decided to go back to Microsoft.

I am writing this post from a 300GB Windows 8 Pro partition on my MacBook Pro via the Metro Internet Explorer 10.

Windows 8 is absolutely stunning! I know I have only been using it for a couple of hours, but it really is a huge difference. The last time I had this much fun toying with Windows was when Windows 98 was released!

Phase 2 will consist of importing all of my personal files and phase 3 will be to find a solid backup solution.

Time to install the Netflix metro app me thinks!

Operation Transport

Due to the highly secretive nature of LEPAT the only details they would offer regarding the suspension of Operation Drano was that Phase 3 uncovered a number of severe technical difficulties that would not be acceptable under any circumstance.

Operation Drano remains in a suspended state as LEPAT revises all phases to verify that no layer 8 issues were to blame.

However, in the meantime the LEPAT has acquired some new talent who will be heading up a new initiative codenamed Transport.

More details to be released upon completion of each phase.