6 Months with a Surface Pro 4

22 02 2017

After my retirement in August 2016 I moved over from Germany to Thailand.

My company wants my future support so I got a Surface Pro 4 (128GB, Intel Core i5, 4GB Ram, Type Cover) to keep an eye on the further development of the company’s main application, a tool for auditors based on Microsoft Access as the container for all the data needed to audit companies, Excel for analyses, and Word for documentation of the audit process.

The device serves as a Windows 10 based reference system for the company’s internal software quality control.

Like every technical product the Pro 4 has its pros and cons. The energy management isn’t what I would expect from a high-priced mobile device. Optimization (like Apple did it with its macOS on a Macbook Air) isn’t Microsoft’s strength. Maybe this is caused by the many compromises coming with a newly developed universal platform.

Sadly there is another annoying lack (for me). Neither the Type Cover nor the Onscreen Keyboard sports a BREAK key although it’s needed when debugging code. Shame on Microsoft.

Summary after 6 months …

Battery life is still limited and makes a Surface Pro 4 an immovable property if there are lots of points on your agenda; generation of heat is higher than average and definitely too much for a tablet; showcasing Windows 10: indeed, including its occasional frustrations and aggravations.

There are still some dialogs coming from Windows Vista/7 which do not really match with the Windows 10 design. I hope the colleagues will fix it all shortly.

Ironically, where the Surface Pro 4 falls short is that “tablet” part, not because of the hardware but as the result of an ecosystem that is light on the kind of apps that make a great tablet. The same situation I’m faced with on my Lumia 550.

What remains is a fine and good looking portable PC (I wouldn’t call it a hybrid because it lacks in tablet mode) with which I can successfully work through my GTD list. Not more. Sadly.

The Surface could possibly be beaten by an iPad Pro running macOS. But it wouldn’t be an alternative for me because there is a huge app gap between the Windows- and the macOS-based application line-up. Users are supplied with a wide range of high-quality apps for Apple’s mobiles but they are faced with lots of problems to get specialized business software for their Macs. The Windows mobile “App Gap” finds its counterpart in a Mac “App Gap”.

I already used one of the first convertibles running Windows XP Tablet Edition more than a decade ago. Maybe I have to wait another decade to find the ultimate hybrid.

Note (for the youngsters)
Windows XP Tablet PC Edition was intended for specially designed notebook/laptop computers called tablet PCs. Windows XP Tablet PC Edition was compatible with a pen-sensitive screen, supporting handwritten notes and portrait-oriented screens.

More about Surface vs MacBook …

Surface Pro 4 vs MacBook

Thanks for dropping by.





Be creative

23 01 2017

Make the most out of your iThing.

Why should such a powerful device like an iPhone with 3D Touch technology solely be used for going Google+, Twitter, or Facebook?

Apple’s App Store offers lots of useful apps with a great UI and features you need to be creative.

Here’s my app portfolio for writing articles on WordPress, the world’s biggest blogging platform.

ByWord
a simple text editor for writing down ideas everywhere and every time

Inspiration
a tool for creating mind maps and concept maps which can summarize details of tech related topics true to the motto “An image is worth a thousand words”

WordPress
the official app for text formatting, adding images and videos, and publishing articles

Tap Forms
a database app for managing more detailed information about blog articles 

Here’s an app review of Inspiration:

Inspiration

If you’re interested in reviews of the other apps just enter their names into the SEARCH field of my website.

Thanks for visiting iNotes4You.





About an innovative product

28 04 2016

powered by Microsoft Windows Tablet PC Edition

Usually you find Apple related stuff in my profile stream. This time it’s about a reliable companion not running an Apple OS.

My T4010, still running with Windows XP, today reached its 10th anniversary of a busy working life.





Specs …

Fujitsu-Siemens Lifebook T4010

Intel Pentium M 745

Intel Extreme Graphics 2 64 MB

12.1 inch, 4:3, 1024×768 pixels

2kg

It’s a shining example for innovation and development of disrupting technology. One of the most important people in the development of mobiles was Alan Kay with his concept of the DYNABOOK.

More about Alan …

Some decades ago

More about innovation …

About innovation

Thanks for dropping by.





Some decades ago

6 11 2015

In 1972 a Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center) scientist published a research study entitled A Personal Computer for Children of All Ages.

The device was called DYNABOOK and the author of that paper is Alan Kay, one of the key people who have shaped the way we are using computers today. In contrast to Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Steve Ballmer he didn’t stand on stages but he can be seen as the key scientist behind the graphical user interface and one of the inventors of object-oriented programming.

The Dynabook wasn’t so much a prediction but a vision.


A significant component of the Dynabook’s usage model was that its users would be able to easily develop simple applications. This is far away from Jobs’ tablet concept and that of all other competitors. The last thing you would want to do on an iPad is write your own software. There is an app for that and you will find it in the App Store. Anyway there is no doubt about the fact that Kay influenced Jobs in developing the iPhone and the iPad.

“When I saw the iPhone, I figured that they had already done a tablet version, which is easier to make work than the iPhone, so I was partially joking with Steve when I said ‘make the screen at least 5″ x 8″ and you will rule the world’.”

What can we learn from history?
Well, everything has it’s preceding ideas.

Would Einstein’s Theory of Relativity be possible without Newton’s Laws? Edison and Swan were the two most successful at combining the necessary technologies and engineering techniques to build a light bulb (electricity and the knowledge of how to economically create vacuums).

There is no need to talk about COPYING. Success comes up when intelligence combines the right things at the right time in a sexy apparel. This alone is already a technological achievement and innovation crowds of people today derive benefits from.


Regarding Apple’s success the most important thing Jobs overtook from Kay was the belief

People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.


Jobs made it to the core principle of Apple.

This message would be an exaggeration nevertheless it’s a fact that Apple changed the way we communicate today and handle information. And that was definitely not just one small step for man. Neither Alan Kay nor Steve Jobs ever claimed to be the only inventors.


Related

Ap(pl)es

About the iPad


Thanks for reading.





Visualizing your Success

5 06 2015

Some people think that personal success can be measured in bucks, clicks, +1s, or Likes.

So I won’t be surprised if somebody wants to visualize his personal value with a chart created with Apple’s spreadsheet app Numbers for iOS.

Here is the tutorial.

  • Step 1
    Create a new spreadsheet within Numbers.
  • Step 2
    Create a table (table 1, top left) and enter the months and the corresponding number of bucks or clicks in a month.
    The last row should contain the sum. It’s needed to display the relative amount of success (the ratio bucks / total x 100).

2015/01/img_3776.png

  • Step 3
    Create another table (below the first table). This table isn’t really needed but usually it’s worth to separate the data from its visualization.
    Refer to the the first two columns of table 1 by using terms like ‘=Table 1::A1’. This will show the months and the absolute values of bucks.
  • Step 4
    Now let’s create the crux of the matter.
    Use the built-in function REPT (Repeat) with the money bag (from Apple’s Emoji keyboard; activation via Settings – General – Keyboard – Keyboards – Add New Keyboard and select Emoji).

Refer to Apple’s excellent help for this function and all the others to understand the parameters.

  • Param 1
    the symbol you want to use for the bar graph
  • Param 2
    the length of the bar (the monthly value in % of the total)

Use it and you will see that Numbers for iOS is perfectly adapted to touch screens.

Note
If you want to refer to a cell of an other table in a function, just tap on it instead of entering the table number and the coordinates. That’s perfect user experience, isn’t it?

Now your visualized success is always with you, on an iPhone, an iPad, or an  Watch.

I suggest to publish your stats quarterly on the internet like Apple does in its U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings.

Summary …

The usage of functions in Numbers is explained in meaningful helps.
An alternative is to enter the values in a table and use the feature Create Chart from Table. But that would be too easy. Always following the KISS principle doesn’t help you to improve your knowledge.

Related links …

Avoid a Liquidity Bottleneck

An Invoice created with Numbers

If Then Else

Thanks for visiting iNotes4You.





Creating Collages

10 05 2015

People say …

A picture is worth a thousand words.

And there is more …

Humans are designed to absorb visualized information in a jiffy and in many cases remember this information much longer than any other stimulation of senses.

Create collages on your iPad. It’s not only funny but also lets you digest the topic again.

Earlier I posted this image with an ironic content about Apple’s payment system, which works with the iOS devices starting with iPhone 6 and iPad Air 3.

2015/01/img_38931.png

It’s an example for what you can do on an iPad. See the appropriate ingredients, apps, and devices to create collages in the image below. The collage was also created with Apple’s presentation app Keynote.

2015/01/img_3916.png

It might be also worth creating some images with photos of your last holiday. Once you started you’ll love it.

The iPad is definitely a shining example for disruptive technology.

It’s because a touchscreen is much nearer to human activities than any other device or textbook could be. What we do is mostly what we do with our hands. It’s our first approach to new things. Creating artworks, modeling new devices, or writing down all the ideas leading to Einstein’s E=m c c equation on a sheet of paper while walking through the room and reflecting our thoughts is almost always done by hand.

Summary …

Stay hungry, stay foolish, and be creative with your iThing.

Related links …

iPad @ Universities

About the iPad

If you use images you should know something about the Copyright

The Copyright

Thanks for dropping by.





Mindscope

30 11 2014

Apple’s iPad is the perfect device for summarizing and visualizing what’s going on in your brain.

Most of the apps available at the App Store are designed for special tasks like note taking, mind mapping, concept mapping, etc. But there are also innovative ideas combining different purposes in just one app.

For technical products Three-In-One, or let’s say X-InOne, is a synonym for a set of three/X features implemented in just one product. Three-In-One concepts are well-known from printers. For printing, copying, and scanning documents there is just one device which does it all.

IMG_3217.PNG

An example is the brandnew app Mindscope by John Goering.

It promises to be

Part mind-mapping tool, part outliner, part todo manager.
A multi-level magnet board for your brain.

The basic idea of John is to organize information in layers each attached to a text snippet.

Create a text snippet.
Tap on it to move into the next layer
(fortunately not the next layer of your touch screen but a software controlled stoarage)
Enter further information.
Go back by using the pinch gesture or tapping on the layer menu at the top of the screen.

If you installed the app the welcome screen presents several videos about the usage.

IMG_3218.PNG

In advance …

The app isn’t ready yet. It’s brandnew and if you are interested in using this tool you should be patient until John adds some necessary features users expect when using the tool for note taking and mind/concept mapping.

Not all readers are familiar with all the abbreviations used in the IT world. UI means the User Interface and describes the layout of an app seen by a user. Developers should follow some standards published by Apple in The iOS Human Interface Guidelines.

UX means the User Experience and describes what users feel when they use the app the first time and extensively later on. The iPad is made for apps simplifying daily tasks. If UI and UX isn’t perfect it’s likely that an app carves out a miserable existence or is deleted after a short time.

Both UI and UX are in some way subjective criteria. So take a look on the screenshots of Mindscope and build your own very personal opinion.

The UI was developed by an engaged team in Berlin, Germany, and for me it looks perfect. I’m convinced that we soon will see a high quality product with the well-known label ‘Made in Germany’. So there seems to be no reason to not purchase the additional features via an In-App-Purchase and getting all the projected refinements of future updates.

Features …

An image is more than a 1000 words. So please look at my collages to see how the app works.

Using the app is easier than any other app I used before. Although it should be mentioned that features are limited. It’s the task of John to keep it as simple as it is now after necessary features are added. Jaakko did it with his app Mindly and I hope John will do it as well.

An application …

Using the app Inspiration I created a short summary of how to sell an iOS device. To get familiar with Mindscope I transferred the information to a board in Mindscope.

IMG_3226.PNG

What we can see is that there might be problems of acceptance because Mindscope doesn’t support colors, shapes, and images. The only way to highlight essentials is to use a bold text possibly with a larger size.

Honestly said, the creation of the board shown above was a nightmare and here are just some of the reasons why:

  • The size of a board is limited to the screen size of the iPad. The content cannot be extended or moved around.
  • Boards cannot be zoomed.
  • Boards do not adapt their position relative to the keyboard coming up when you create a new object.
  • The shape coming up when multiple objects are selected often doesn’t surround the actual selection.
  • The press and long-press gesture often opens a new board and transfers the content of a text snippet into this board.

English is not my native language and so it’s quite difficult to describe what happened during the creation process but we should keep in mind that we are talking about a 1.0 version.

Anyway I’m not sure if developers should release apps where basic features are missing or the UX in some cases is near to annoy users. It’s getting harder and harder to compete with apps already available and constantly improved over years and so the release date for a new app should be considered carefully.

Missing features …

Developers like Jaakko Rantanen (developer of Mindly) who first released his app in December 2013 and launched powerful updates in January, April, and July 2014, skyrocketing ratings and sales did it right. Talk to your customers and delight with useful new features.

If John is only approximately on the level of Jaakko we will see a competitive offer which will have it’s place in the category of useful productivity apps.

The cons as of August 26, 2014 …

  • Syncing between iOS devices not supported
  • Images cannot be assigned to topics
  • Text colors are not supported
  • Proprietary file format available only on the device
    Files cannot be sent to cloud storages or by mail
  • Topics cannot be organized in folders
  • Shapes for topics are not available
    This is a quite important con because shapes are an indispensable option to use visualizations of complex topics.
  • The UNDO control is missing
    Sorry, but that’s an absolute No-Go.
  • No word wrap
    At the time the app is more suited for shorter text snippets.

Not listed are a couple of useful small parts in the program code which make users happy, e.g. aligning objects, duplicating objects, and, and, and.

IMG_3219.PNG

The developer tries to avoid on-screen controls which is definitely the right approach to let the user focus on content.

Remarks (October 23) …

To get an overview of the changes after my article was written please have a look at the Version History of the app in the App Store. Some useful features have been added but I still think that, after 2 months of being in the market it’s a no-go that there is still no UNDO feature.

Remarks (November 15)

Never give up. The sorely missed UNDO command was released in Mindscope 1.3 along with some other tweaks which can be looked up in the version history of the app in Apple’s App Store.

The app still has the subtitle ‘Mindscope – the Mind Mapping Out…’ although many features even of simple mind mapping tools are missing.

Summary …

The app looks quite promising. The next months will give us the answer whether it moves into the smiling sky of iOS apps or drops into no-man’s-land.

The app promises to be a tool for mind mapping, planning projects, taking meeting notes, creating flowcharts, tracking todos, and presenting information. This is a quite exaggerated announcement. To compete with a specialized app or a Three-In-One app like MagicalPad it needs tons of further improvements.

John, keep on following the KISS principle. This is what users expect from modern apps for the Apple’s mobile flagship for teaching, learning, and organizing.

Related links …

The developer’s website …

Mindscope

Mind mapping …

iThoughts

Mindly

Mind/Concept mapping …

Inspiration

Three In One

Mind Maps + Concept maps

Others …

Note taking

Thanks for visiting iNotes4You.








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