This is the one: Personal computing device edition (debate)

Paul published this headline riff a couple of months ago:

“How similar is the iPad Pro to the Microsoft Surface?”

Well, one is a toy and one is a full-featured 2-in-1 PC. So. Not very.

I just thought it was funny. I rolled back my decision on getting a Surface Pro, because it is still super expensive and I have to keep things tight on the money front since I became a Mrs.

I then started debating the very core of my argument: Do I even still require a 2-in-1 device? I’m studying now, which requires me to sit upright at a desk and work. There’s no more playing around, lounging around on a couch with tablet in hand. What’s the point of paying so much for a device that isn’t even going to leave the house?

I already have a working tablet running full Windows. Sweetie Pie (my old computer the SO now uses) is in need of a core upgrade (CPU and motherboard), so would it not make more sense to use the outdated (but still very much in working order) components for my computer, and upgrade Sweetie Pie instead? Hmm.


Garmin finally has an app for Windows

Sadly, the app is only for Windows 10. I installed it on my tablet and then spent an hour attempting to pair my vivofit, because of course, why would it work the first time?

Once I got the device paired and my profile loaded, I could view “snapshots” of my categories. The app is very beautifully made, but I can’t see a “sync” button, and the Garmin article does not indicate whether the sync takes place automatically when the Bluetooth is on. My data synced when pairing the device, but I’m not sure if that’s just because of the initial pairing process.

While I am happy about this development (mainly because I have not been able to sync the vivofit for 6 days via the dongle on Windows 7), I don’t know if it’s enough to carry on using the Vivofit.


This is the one: Personal computing device edition (rollback)

I’ve spoken about the Surface Pro 3 numerous times on here. It was The One, everytime. If anything, I would choose the next iteration as my new one.

No. I’ve had enough torture, being a Windows Phone supporter all these years, how much longer must I wait for Microsoft to officially start supplying Surface devices in SA? Now I have to hold out hope for a Surface phone too? Nuh-uh.

So I’m rolling back my decision on the SP3.


Another rant and rave about OneDrive for Business, and light at the end of the tunnel

After ranting about the OneDrive for Business app on this blog, to my colleagues, and to our IT Servicedesk, it appears that Microsoft has decided to personally respond to my complaints. Yesterday, they announced the preview version of their next-gen sync client, which basically means the ODfB client has now been integrated into the consumer OneDrive client.


In my last rant, I stated that I was giving up on ODfB, at least until Microsoft sorts itself out. I then attempted to go back to normal OneDrive, but it was no longer working on my work laptop. I decided to wait until my new one arrived.

Of course, it didn’t install on my new one either. My suspicions were confirmed when I asked our on-site IT support lady to please look into it for me, as I did not want to have to deal with our off-site support again (in the Philippines). She reported that yes, IS has blocked the installation of the consumer OneDrive client because everyone must use ODfB now that the company has completed the switch to Office 365.

I pointed out that not only do very few people even know about ODfB, most people are using Dropbox anyway. A few years ago, they had a special whitelist for people who specifically requested access to Dropbox. They had to scrap the list and open access to everyone because too many people were asking. The consumer OneDrive always worked because no one was using it at work (besides me).

She then said IS indicated to her that soon they will remove Dropbox access and force everyone onto ODfB. I’m going to buy some popcorn so I have something to eat when the inevitable fireworks over that decision explodes. Anyway.

I decided to google around again, and discovered that my real issue is not a 20 000 file limit, but a 20 000 sync limit, purely because of the limitations of the current ODfB client. The workaround is to use the browser to upload (no), or to map your ODfB account as a network drive.

I tried to map it immediately, knowing deep within that it would fail. After putting in my ODfB url and connecting with my AD credentials, I got an Access Denied error. I needed to add the company’s SharePoint site into my Trusted Sites under Internet Explorer options. Guess what?

Some of these settings are managed by your system administrator.

Now tell me, why is the company’s Office 365 SharePoint main site thing not in the list of trusted sites? Why do I have to suffer like this, trying to stick to “company-approved” apps while others merrily Dropbox it up? Unbelievable.

Either way, I still have to wait because Microsoft is, of course, staggering the rollout of the new client. Seeing as we just completed the switch to 365, and got everyone onto Office 2013 (just in time for 2016’s release), I can only assume that IS is not even aware of this development, never mind trying to get on a waiting list. Until I log several calls about this issue when I get back to office tomorrow.

Yes, I’m still sick at home, mostly because my brain still feels sore. Probably because I’m ranting about computers and overthinking this again.


Apps I can’t live without: Pushbullet

I have sung the praises of Pushbullet on here several times, so I won’t go into why I love it so much again.

I’ve also expressed my irritation with the fact that there is no official Windows Phone app for it. It’s really one of the few absent apps which bothers me. I initially used the third party app Pushpin, but consistently experienced login issues. I also never received notifications, and the app would crash constantly.

I was so desperate after Pushpin that I joined the beta for Bullet Bill, which went on to become Pushile. A suggestion I made was incorporated into the app in just over a week, which was an excellent response time from the developer. I used Pushile for the last year, enjoying the improvements after each update.

The only issue I really had with Pushile was that the notifications are spotty at best. App notifications on Windows Phone don’t work when battery saver is on, but most of the time I still wouldn’t get push notifications on the phone even when battery saver was off. This had shown signs of improvement in the last 3 months, but I was open to alternatives.

Last week, Windows Central published an article about Instabullet. I had never heard of the app, so I quickly installed it on Astro and my phone.

My main gripe with Pushbullet on the tablet is that I would have to leave Tablet Mode to open the win32 Pushbullet beta app, then copy my link into a new push from there. I could just install Chrome on the tablet and use the extension as I do on my work laptop, but I do like to make things difficult for myself, and I am trying to show support for Microsoft Edge.

I wanted to be able to share to Pushbullet using the Share picker on Windows. I assumed that because Instabullet is a Modern app, it would show up in the Share list. It did not. Thankfully, this seemed to be a minor issue, because the dev fixed it.

I cannot say the same thing for the phone app. Not receiving notifications through Pushile was never a dealbreaker for me because I only read the pushes on the computer or tablet. I needed it on the phone so I could send pushes. Having Pushile appear under Social Networks through the Share picker on the phone was ideal. Instabullet does not appear there, so I’m going to have to make a request or something.

Other than that, Instabullet has made my Pushbullet experience on the tablet much better. I also have no problem with its notifications on the phone (in fact, some notifications even come through twice!). While an official app would be nice, it’s not as critical as it was a few months ago. Either way, if Microsoft ever decides to release OneClip, I will be switching to that anyway. Pushbullet showed me what I needed, now I just need something similar which suits my chosen way of life.


This is the one: PC on a stick edition (decision)

I’ve been following a story on the periphery for some time now, namely the whole PC on a stick saga. It’s very interesting and all, but I wasn’t really into it.

Until a colleague showed me this. He’s getting his one next week. For that price, I would buy one for every screen in the house. Why? Just because I can.

This is getting ridiculous now. I’ve moaned before about my excess of Windows licences and Office 365 licences (FWP), and having another device around will just add to that load.

I was planning on going all-in with the Internet of Things and Windows 10, after picking up a Raspberry Pi at some point. However, the main reasons I would want to use it for (downloading, streaming, running scripts) have now almost become moot if I just pick a PC on a stick.

Now I’m complaining that there are too many devices for me to make decisions about. I’m going to go lie down. I’m really not going to buy this now though, because it has the exact same specs as Astro, and I reeeeeeeeally don’t have a need for it now. I’m going to keep telling myself that.


Using OneDrive and OneDrive for Business on the same computer: A nightmare

My unit at work migrated to Office 365 about 2 weeks ago, which means everyone upgraded from Office 2010 to 2013, and all our stuff moved to the cloud. I’ve been using Office 2013 since it came out, and I’ve been using it on my work laptop for the last year and a half with a MSDN licence, so the changes really didn’t affect me at all.

Everyone else is losing their minds about how different Outlook and Excel looks, and that the design should have remained the same. Basically, the usual reaction to any change in technology. Whatever.

The big thing for me is finally getting access to OneDrive for Business (hereafter referred to as 1DfB). I can now take the 21GB of Asset Management GIS data off my personal 10TB OneDrive (hereafter referred to as 1D), and shift it to my 1TB 1DfB.

Ha! I made that sound so simple didn’t I? I installed the 1DfB client by the totally unintuitive process of clicking Sync in my Office 365 Portal OneDrive web app. That’s because I was just clicking things to see what it would do. I then copied the relevant folders from the local copy of my 1D over to my newly created library for 1DfB.

I’m not sure how long I thought it was going to take to sync all that data to the cloud. When I initially synced the folder to my 1D about 3 months ago, it probably took about a week to upload what was about 15GB at the time. With the state of the network at work, I accepted that.

It’s been a week and a half now, and only 10GB has been uploaded. That may sound like a FWP, but the sync process is hogging the very few system resources I have, and it keeps creating huge folders of “unsynced changes” on my hard drive. Also, my 1D client no longer works. I actually uninstalled the app and tried to reinstall it, but it refuses to install.

In the meantime, I have to carry on working and manually syncing the work on my laptop to our network drive. In conclusion, I now have my 1DfB app taking forever to upload, using up system resources, and repeatedly racking up sync errors, while my personal 1D can no longer sync with my laptop, so I cannot work locally on my 1D documents. All the googling has led me to is the fact that 1D and 1DfB can indeed live on the same device because they use different protocols. To this, I say, nope.

The lack of substantial search hits for this question leads me to assume one of three things: not many people have both clients installed (probably for the best), the people who do have both installed are using Windows 8.1 like in the previously linked blog post, or the people who have both apps installed and working correctly have excellent Internet connections and computers. I feel like it’s that last option.


I did two wildly different Windows 10 upgrades yesterday

Yesterday morning, I did an in-place upgrade of my VM I use for my studies and testing, from Windows 8.1 Pro, to Windows 10 Pro, using the 64-bit ISO. It went smoothly. I could have left that VM on 8.1, since I don’t really use it for much, but I figured that if something went horribly wrong, it should happen in there instead of on my tablet.

The only complaint I have is that it’s not scaling the desktop correctly in VMWare, but that’s a VMWare problem not a Microsoft problem. Again, because I only use it for testing and running Oracle SQL scripts, I’m not too bothered about it.

Last night, I upgraded Astro from Windows 8.1 with Bing to Windows 10 Home using the 32-bit ISO. I chose to do a clean upgrade. It took about 45 minutes from start to finish.

The biggest change I noticed was that the screen was incredibly slow to respond. I couldn’t believe it, because at 2GB RAM my Bing tablet is on the higher end of the Bing tablets, and Windows 10 has 1GB RAM as a min spec. I’m talking about visible lag, and the windows shuddering as it tried to switch to a different application. After messing around a bit (and getting nowhere), I decided I should probably install updates.

By doing this, I discovered that even though updates are supposedly forced in 10, because I put Battery Saver on (so similar to Phone!), the updates were temporarily suspended from downloading. When it resumed, I saw an Intel graphics driver waiting to download. Driver problems are an issue listed in the Windows Central article, so I didn’t want to get agitated yet. While the updates were downloading, the battery died, so I left it until this morning.

Now that I’ve installed the updates and restarted, the difference is amazing. I’m busy right now with setting up my apps and tweaking my Action Centre. Once I’ve upgraded more devices, I will write my version of a review (where I hype the things I like) comparing the experience across the different platforms. Hopefully in a few months I will be able to add the mobile experience there as well.


Mouse without Borders has solved all my problems

Earlier this year, shortly before I got Astro, I went on a rant about Miracast and adding wireless displays.

What it boiled down to was I wanted a way to connect two different computers with the same keyboard and mouse. For a while at work, I was running my old box under my desk and my laptop at the same time. It was a pain to switch mice/keyboards when needed.

Yes, I know that there are hardware solutions to this problem, but I didn’t want to have to spend money to fix this. Eventually my box got taken away so I forgot about this problem.

After I got Astro, the problem reared its head again. While the tiny keyboard is fine for mobility, it’s a pain to work on at my desk. I also refuse to use the touchscreen when it’s mounted in its stand, because then I would have to stop typing/clicking on the adjacent laptop keyboard/mouse.

Out of frustration, I decided to google it again, and came across an app I had discovered last year while googling this problem: Mouse without Borders. Seeing as it’s a Microsoft Garage project, I wasn’t sure how useful it would be, but I decided to give it a go.

My goodness.

How did I live without it so long? I installed the app on my laptop and Astro, entered the security key, arranged the device layout to mimic the physical setup, and I was done.

Now I can type posts like this on my tablet while using my laptop keyboard. Now I can use the accompanying Windows Phone app to control the laptop. Now I am no longer tethered by the physical limitations of my devices, but instead I am allowed to roam free between devices as I please, using a single keyboard and mouse.

Windows Central mentioned it in their intriguing apps post at the beginning of the month as well, so it’s definitely making an impact. Yes, it sometimes does lose the plot, particularly on my tablet, where it can’t resolve the IP of my laptop and then stops working. However, that’s a minor issue, and a quick restart for Astro fixes it.


This is the one: Personal computing device edition (decision)

When Microsoft launched the Surface Pro 3 last year, I knew it was the one.

After thoroughly going through all the different models, I settled on the i5/256GB SSD/8GB RAM one. I could have done without the extra SSD space, and therefore a lower price point, but it was fine.

Until yesterday. The reason why I am only writing this post now is because yesterday Microsoft launched an i7/128GB SSD/8GB RAM model. For the same price as the i5 one.

I am so excited. The exact specs I want in a personal computing device. I know it’s probably in preparation for the Surface Pro 4, which I am assuming will be even more awesome, but I am perfectly happy with purchasing this i7 model in a year’s time at a greatly reduced rate.