Windows 10

I have been using Windows 10 on both my Dell E6430 and my workstation at the office. It is very slick looking and like the fact that the start menu has returned to its former self, but with still enough change to make it more than just the kind of start menu from previous versions.

I don’t have any complaints to be brutally honest. By doing this I have finally found an awesome PuTTY replacement. The Git for Windows application comes with a Bash Shell, which is far better to use for SSH’ing to servers than the NT looking PuTTY application. It’s also nice to be able to use the command line for Git operations versus a GUI.

This week I’ll be switching back to OS X as my primary operating system to see what I have missed. At the same time I will be switching my workstation over to Ubuntu 15.10 (Wily Werewolf). I’ll keep the E6430 running Windows 10, so that way I can interchange between all three.



Rumor: Apple to kill the headphone jack

I’ve heard around the office and read a few articles about the potential of Apple killing off the standard 3.5mm headphone jack that has been around for decades. As expected, there are a lot of people who are expressing their hatred towards Apple even though there is no concrete evidence that such a thing is going to happen!

What makes me laugh is that this is not the first time Apple has made a move like this. It depresses me that as a species we are so quick to forget things and immediately jump on the hatred bandwagon. 

In every case I can think of a move like this from Apple has always improved the technology industry as a whole in ways that benefit more people/companies/products than their own. 

Ditching the floppy drive for CD-ROM gave people the push it needed to adopt the newer medium. 

Ditching the CD/DVD drive not only made MacBook’s thinner, lighter and ultimately more portable, but it also drove the download culture to newer heights. 

As a result of MacBook’s getting thinner the Ethernet port disappeared. What a great way to destroy the download culture, right? Wrong! Wi-Fi speeds jumped from 802.11b (10Mbps) to 802.11g (54Mbps), but they stalled for a long time. Once Apple started pushing Wi-Fi only devices the innovation in Wi-Fi improved and Apple even works with the standards bodies for wireless Ehternet. My MacBook Pro has 802.11n, which is capable of up to 350Mbps and the latest Wi-Fi standard 802.11ac in the new Aiport Extreme and MacBook’s is capable of up to 1.3Gbps! 

If the industry remained complacent, then we would all be hard wired into our home networks still. What a sad world that would be!

So, with the increasing number of rumors that Captain Cook and his merry men are removing the 3.5mm headphone jack I urge all of the doubters to just take a step back and think for a moment before jumping on the hatred bandwagon. 

There could be something magical in store!

Plagtech revamp

As I switch between different operating systems I have always tried to use applications that work across these different environments, for example I use Firefox as my browser because it works flawlessly across Windows, OS X, and any Linux distro.

However, using Firefox as an example again, it doesn’t work so well on iOS and Android, especially on iOS compared to Safari.

Similarly, in a bid to try and break out of the so called walled garden I switched to instead of and started using the iOS app instead of the native Mail, Contacts, and Calendar iOS apps that Apple provides.

I then went one step further and completely stopped using my iCloud account altogether, restored my iPhone back to factory defaults, then setup my iPhone from scratch under a brand new Apple ID.

Again, this was all in a bid to cut off any ties from one vendor and try to keep everything neutral. However, what I have learned from doing this is two things:

  1. My iPhone is my primary computing device (welcome to the post-PC era!).
  2. Native apps provide the best experience.

Yes, it really is true. Even though I am typing this blog post from my Windows 10 PC (my iPhone is currently restoring from my iCloud backup), my iPhone really is my primary computing device. As I switch between different desktop OS’s the one constant in my digital life is my phone. As I use it so heavily I started to realize the importance of native apps.

Without using my primary iCloud account on my iPhone I noticed how much I depend on it, which was one of the points I raised in an earlier blog post. I think iCloud is the sole reason iOS is so freakin’ awesome!

The app is great in a sense that a single app allows you to work with your mail, contacts, and calendars in one place, but I noticed that this severely impacted my GTD work flow. The app is completely decoupled from Notes and Reminders, which I rely on heavily. Also, the built-in Messages app would not work properly because it is not capable of pulling the contacts from the app. This meant that iMessage and FaceTime could not work on my iPhone, which is another must have because I use it to communicate with friends and family overseas.

Switching back to my primary iCloud account has enabled me to revive all of the integrations that I took for granted with the native apps on iOS. So, that’s iOS sorted, but what about OS X, Windows, and Linux?

  • Linux: Let’s start with the easy one. I am very confident that I will not be using Linux as a primary desktop OS again for a long long time, so I do not need to worry about that. I have been using Ubuntu & Fedora as virtual machines within OS X and Windows, but I do not need to worry about syncing my data to the VM’s, as everything is on the host.
  • OS X: The second easiest one is OS X, because I will set this up just like iOS.
  • Windows: So here is where things get interesting and I know I have touched on this point before. I love using Microsoft Office and having signed up for Office365 with my account I can still use that to sync documents and continue using OneNote. However, I can use the iCloud Control Panel application in Windows to sync with Outlook for mail, contacts, calendars, and reminders as well as Internet Explorer (and now Firefox!) for my bookmarks.

This gives me the best of both worlds, as I can now fully utilize the native apps across iOS, OS X, and Windows that are designed to work extremely well within their own environment all the while utilizing iCloud as the glue (or SaaS if you feel so inclined) that holds all of the information together between each environment.

I feel as though this is still very platform agnostic, because if I continue to use Windows I can! With the added benefit that I don’t have to switch cloud providers, which for some strange reason I always feel is necessary!

What about Android? Exactly! What about it?! I very rarely use it for personal use like browsing/shopping/checking emails etc, so I was actually thinking of using it primarily for work. Seeing as the company I work for is a Google Business Apps shop and Android is drenched in Googleism why not use it for meetings instead of obnoxiously  pounding away on a physical keyboard when taking notes? Anyway, that can be it’s very own post.

Going back to the context and title of this post the reason I am calling this a plagtech revamp is that this experience has changed the way I look at being a platform agnostic technologist. In order to be plagtech one does not have to abandon the native apps that work so well on each respective platform. I can still enjoy the power of native apps and the seamless integrations they provide, so long as the cloud service providing the behind-the-scenes mojo works well across multiple platforms. In this case, so far, iCloud seems to do a bloody good job across iOS, OS X, and Windows.

A week with Fedora 23

After my week with Fedora I am once again drawing to the same conclusion that I have before. It’s a solid OS, especially for all of my geeky tasks like running Vagrant boxes, writing Chef recipes, using Git, and various other tools, then Fedora is a dream come true.

However, for day-to-day GTD I really like the native Microsoft Office apps on Windows and OS X. I don’t mind using their web-based counterparts (in Firefox) when using Linux for say, a quick glance at OneNote, but the Linux platform doesn’t have the neat integration’s with apps like Box as they do with OS X & Windows. This, you will say, is because Box doesn’t develop the same apps for Linux, but that’s not my fault unfortunately.

Also, when it comes to tasks like managing my photos or music there’s just something that feels unfinished about Fedora. It’s as if the software is in constant beta mode. People may snarl at me for saying so, and yes, I know it is all open source software and community driven work (which I do admire!), but when it comes to trusting software with my sacred photo collection of almost 10 years I can’t help but feel safer using software that is more well polished. From my experience the application Shotwell is an iPhoto clone and I can’t stand iPhoto (now Photos), especially with the way it sorts my pics. I’ve fully converted back to the old school method of creating my own folders and dragging and dropping the pics from my camera’s SD card. So retro, but it works the way I like it!

So, do I still like Linux? No, I love Linux! However, it will still not be my full time OS for personal computing at this time.

What’s coming next? I am currently on my RDMBP typing this post as I wipe Fedora off the E6430 and install Windows 10.