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.





CloudOn

28 09 2014

To work on Microsoft Office files (Excel, Word, Powerpoint) you can either use an app like DocsToGo, a subscription of Office 365 (connected with Microsoft’s cloud service SkyDrive) or a free app called CloudOn by CloudOn Inc., first released in October 2011.

20140122-062353.jpg

CloudOn can be connected not only to SkyDrive but also to your Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Hightail accounts, and send or share files with colleagues and contacts via email directly from within the app. Some features like AirPrint are only available through the Pro version of CloudOn with an introductory offer of $2.99/month or $29.99/year.

The features …

CloudOn works with Microsoft Office documents stored on the above mentioned cloud storages. New files can be created and existing files can be edited. Microsoft’s proprietary file format is kept in either case. •So there is 100% compatibility with Office files and you do not have to worry that they will break or compatibility issues will occur.

  • CREATE, REVIEW and EDIT documents
    Create, review and edit Microsoft Word documents , Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations on an iPad or an iPhone.
    •Insert charts, images, equations, SmartArt, clipart, tables, shapes and change format fonts, paragraphs, styles, themes and layout.
    •Review spelling and grammar, track changes, comments, annotations and rich markup.
    View and create charts (including pivot, bar, line, area etc), add formulas, filter etc.
  • ACCESS and MANAGE files
    •Seamlessly connect to and access Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat documents in your cloud storage provider account(s), including Box, Dropbox, Google Drive and SkyDrive.
    •Open documents, spreadsheets and presentations from your email accounts as well as Box, Dropbox, Google Drive and SkyDrive.
    •Copy, paste, delete, rename and move files across folders.
    •All files are saved automatically giving you the comfort that you won’t lose your data.
    •DOC, DOCX, XLS, XLSX, PPT, PPTX, PDF, JPG, PNG, GIF are the file types supported by CloudOn.
  • SHARE and SEND documents
    You can work on the same doc with colleagues (understandably not simultaneously).
    •Use the FileSpace to add context to your work – view all the activity on any given doc including edits, action, and notes or if you prefer just send a link to the file by email.
  • AIR PRINT documents (feature of the Pro version)
    •Print Word Documents, Excel Spreadsheets and Powerpoint Presentations.

Here is a summarization of all features created with a mind map with my favorite mind mapping tool iThoughts HD for the iPad.

20140122-194601.jpg

Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

The alternative file formats have been created with iThoughts HD for iPad (.ITMZ file format). Compatibility to other tools is limited.

Application File format
Adobe Reader PDF
Apple iWork/Microsoft Office DOCX
iThoughts ITMZ
MindManager MMAP
XMind XMIND

User interface …

The functionality of CloudOn is pretty straightforward, with a tidy interface that allows you to rearrange the layout of your files by tapping an icon. There are also shortcuts for creating a new document and for accessing the settings and other menu options.

20140122-063536.jpg

CloudOn also has an autosave feature, so if your quick burst of editing is interrupted, everything will have been saved for when you can come back to it.

The navigation features and the different ways to show files and storages are quite impressive. But navigation through folders is unfortunately not the main task of the app. It’s working inside a document.

20140122-062523.jpg

In contrast to Apple’s iWork suite the UI of CloudOn when working on a document is not perfectly adapted to touch screens. It just reflects what is well-known from the original versions of the Microsoft Office suite. With a “RIBBON” as the main menu bar it works like the big brother for desktops. This might be seen as an advantage by many users but others complain about the missing adoption for the iPad’s touch screen.

20140122-063019.jpg

This is the fully adapted keyboard of Apple’s spreadsheet application NUMBERS.

20140122-063119.jpg

As you can see Apple uses a fully adapted keyboard which fully supports the basic tasks done with a spreadsheet application like choosing the field type (text, number, date, term), building a sum, and using functions.

There would be a lot of features which should be added to CloudOn to facilitate typing on an iPad in Excel. CloudOn just helps a bit by adding a row at the top of the iPad keyboard with Ctrl, Alt, Shift, Tab, function, arrow, Esc, and Del keys.

Unfortunately there is a keyboard lag. A slight delay between touching the keys and the appearance of letters on screen makes the typing process feel disjointed. You might also recognize the usefulness of Apple’s autocorrect feature which is not working in CloudOn documents. It’s quite frustrating to manually correct all those minor typos.

In a group setting CloudOn’s lack of support for custom add-ons, templates, auto-correct settings, and other advanced features may limit the program’s usefulness. Still, the word processor lets you track and accept changes, show or hide markup, make and view comments, restrict editing, and compare and combine versions.
Similarly, the mobile versions of the spreadsheet and presentation apps provide most of the features you’ve come to expect in Excel and PowerPoint, respectively.

Summary …

For all the productivity apps working on Microsoft Office files this is still valid:

It’s not that it does it well,
it’s that it does it at all.

CloudOn goes far beyond the basics to provide a full set of word-processing, spreadsheet, and presentation features in a familiar interface. But it’s still not adapted to touch screens.

So the usefulness is only given if there is a constraint to stay fully compatible with Microsoft’s file formats. It’s also useful if documents are just for accessing information or making smaller changes.

In general the concept of porting a desktop app to an iPad with just slight modifications is wrong and will not be accepted by the majority of users. We are living in year 4 after the launch of the first iPad and users need and want apps fully adapted to touch screens.

A further disappointing approach to manage Microsoft Office files and a certificate of poverty for Microsoft not to offer an iPad version of their Office 365 Suite.

Related links …

Office 365 for Mobiles

Thanks for dropping by.








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