Archive for Technology

Tech Tuesday: Coding on the Go

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For months I’ve tried to write-up my experience trying to turn my Note 10.1 tablet into a coding machine. I’ve had this post sitting in my draft folder since February every so often I pull it out and try to finish writing it. every time so far I have saved incomplete. Of course my circumstances have changed a bit since I started writing this, but I still think there is useful information for others in this post. So this last weekend I finally sat down and finished it. So I’ll be writing up a post to discuss what’s changed and why I’m less interested in finding development solutions for Android.

One of the reasons for replacing my Nexus 7 with the larger Note 10.1 was that I wanted to use my tablet for more than entertainment. From blogging to note tacking it has severed me well over the last 6 months, What I have yet to find a way to do productively and consistently is write code. To be fair up until the beginning of the year I haven’t made that a priority, I was content with using CodeAnywhere to make minor tweaks to projects, that was until it failed me completely when I was trying to write a procedure to review my picture of the day posts from 2014, ever since then I’ve tried to find alternatives. I’ve even been in contact with CodeAnywhere support, who’ve been reasonably responsive when dealing with a non paying customer, but ultimately it’s not reliable enough to be my primary mobile solution or even move up from the free service.  So where does that leave me?

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POD:Waiting for Windows

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Yesterday Microsoft released the latest build of Windows 10 into the wild. I spent the day working at a clients so I couldn’t install it on my testing computer. So this morning one of the first things I did was set up my second computer to install the latest build. Unfortunately the first attempt failed, and it was only 10% done when I left for the day. I’m hoping to arrive at work in the morning with it all done, but I fear it might have failed again.

The one thing that surprised me is how much I missed having the extra two screens during my work day. It’s only been a bit over a months since I added them, but I’ve been come really attached to the extra screen space. Not to mention having somethings running on a different system is handy too.

POD: A Geek Desk

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Back in October I shared a picture of my desk, with an explosion of screens(POD: My Work Desktop). It represented an extreme that I wished for, but didn’t have the technology to support. To add insult to it I had the spare monitor I used with my Nieces laptop that day sitting on my desk, but I had no computer to power it. Today that changed. Today I decided that the old laptop with windows 10 wasn’t up to being lugged around to coffee shops. It still works when it has a nice stable home, but we didn’t have a good place for it at our place, so I thought, why not set it up on my desk at work. After a bit of rejiggering my desk I had it hooked up to the spare monitory (and connected with Synergy), to form my 4 screen desktop. I through my Tablet in on the left because I could.

Of course I’m not sure how well this set up will work, it is an older laptop, but I’m excited to give it a try, it will also getting me working with windows 10 on a daily basis, so that I’ll know when and if the technical previews are ready to be installed on my main computers.

Tech Tuesday: NaNoWriMo

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Yesterday I wrote about my personal experience competing in NaNoWriMo, Today I thought I would take a look at the different technology I used to try to reach 50,000 words. My first year I had a personal notebook that I wrote on quite successfully. In the years since my laptop died and I haven’t replaced really replaced it. So instead I’ve tried a few different technologies for writing my novel. One year I had hopped to write on my Motorola Milestone, I thought with its slide out keyboard it would be perfect. It wasn’t. So this year I was thrilled when through some opportunities at home and work I started November we access to a Laptop and a Tablet to write my novel. So I thought I’d break this post into two parts, first I will compare the Hardware and then I will compare the different software I used.

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Tech Tuesday: Galaxy Note 3

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Today I thought I’d take some time to give a basic review of my Galaxy Note 3. I’ve been thinking about writing this review for a while, but I always got bogged down with history and which features I should write about. Today I set that all aside and write about the phone, and what I think about it.

It’s Big!

That was the first thought I had in store when I was purchasing it. Put a case on it and it’s even bigger. So the question you have to ask yourself is do you want a big phone. For me the answer was yes, in fact I’ve been wanting a Galaxy Note since the first one ship three years ago. I got the Note 3 to replace my Nexus 7 that suffered an unfortunate accident. I didn’t want to relied on my tiny Lumia 520 as my only personal internet device. So I upgraded my phone to a Note 3 and went from carrying two devices to carrying one. So the size didn’t bother me.

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Tech Tuesday: A Big Unboxing

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For months I’ve known it was time to get a new computer, but it’s a hard thing to pick a computer. This week I finally pulled the trigger and got a new computer. Well work pulled the trigger, but I picked what it was aimed at. I considered a number of options for my computer, from laptops to touchscreen desktops. In the end I settled on a Lenovo K450E. I’ve set up a lot of Lenovos for clients recently and I’ve been impressed with the quality of the hardware and their customer support.

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Tech Tuesday: Lumia 520

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At the beginning of December I purchased a new phone. The Nokia Lumia 520. I bought if because it was cheep and my phone died, and with over a year left on my contract my options were limited. I did look at other low-end phones, but I couldn’t see using a low-end Android phone after having my Mid to High end phone so long. So that left Windows Phone and I have to say that I mostly like it. For the last 4 months I’ve been working on this review and I look at it today and realise that It’s not really done. I’ve written about half the programs and features that I’ve wanted to, but with the release of Windows Phone 8.1 in the coming weeks I thought I’d clean up what I have and publish it and hopefully find the time to follow-up in the weeks to come.

The Lumia 520 is clearly low-end hardware, with its 480 x 800 screen, 512 MB Ram and only 8GB storage. The processor is nothing special,but even with these limitations it doesn’t feel low-end to hold or 2 use. The area that I bothers me most is the camera, it’s a 5 Mega Pixel, without a flash. Even with its limitations I have managed to capture quite a few pictures that I am proud of. A big plus is the inclusion of a micro SD slot that can handle up to 64GB SD cards to make up for the limited storage and the remove able battery gives me some options to get more life out of the thing.

The front of the phone has 3 Captive touch buttons, Back, Windows, and Search. One of the hardest things to get used to is the layout, the HTC Amaze has 4 captive ouch buttons starting with home, so there was an adjustment. Along the top edge is the Headphone Jack. Right side has the Volume Rockers, Power Button and a dedicated shutter button. The Left has nothing, The bottom edge of the phone has the micro USB connector for charging and connecting to the computer. The SD and Sim Card slot is under the phones back cover next to the removable battery.

When I was researching phones the lower resolution of the 520 worried me, I thought I’d miss the pixels, turns out that I don’t. The picture is vibrant and sharp, with great outdoor viewing. There are times when I do see where more pixels would be nice, but in my day to do use it’s not an issue.

Getting used to Windows Phone 8 has been a bit of a challenge,. Though there are parts of it that I think are better than any other smart phone, all to often as I use them I hit limits that leave me scratching my head and hoping Microsoft fixes in a future update. Notifications is a perfect example. When ever there is a system notification it comes down from the top of screen in a green bar. You can select it or swipe it away. Once it’s gone it’s gone. You can’t leave it for later review. It’s annoying specially after coming from Android Rich notification system, which has gotten even better in the last few releases of android. Still I like the core vision of Windows Phone, one I hope that Microsoft continues to refine in future version of the OS. Now let’s look at some of the features that makes Windows Phone such a compelling OS.

A Sea of Tiles:
When you start with windows phone you are presented with a sea of tiles, most have the same colour. It’s a clean uniform look. If you have attached it to an Active Microsoft account the People Tile comes to life with pictures of your contacts. The photo tile shows off your own photos from attached accounts,. The Calendar has you next event, it’s almost magical. Out of the gate Windows Feels more like your own device then any others I’ve used. Unfortunately you soon realize that it’s only skin deep. At every turn the clean and useful integration seems to just fall short of what you want.

The Live Tiles can look great, the uniform sizes makes the user interface clean and crisp, but they are so inconsistent with what they show. I know this isn’t all Microsoft fault, they created the platform the app makers have to use it and to few of them are. But their own apps are so hit and miss there is no surprise that the rest of the developers aren’t taking full advantage of it.

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Tech Tuesday: Have Gadgets will Travel

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For weeks I’ve tried to kick-start my blog, my Musings are a start, but I also want to get back to writing about Technology and Fatherhood. I had hopped that we I published my first Tech Tuesday post on January 14th that I would be following it up with another one the next week and it would be the beginning of a weekly series. I’ve been working on the follow-up since before the Kobo review was posted, unfortunately I’ve yet to complete it. It’s close, I could have probably pushed it out last night, but after the evening of skating with Jacob’s Beaver troop I didn’t feel up to it, and besides It will be a better post with the extra time I can now spend on it. That left me with a dilemma for today, I could just forget about posting today, or hope that I’m inspired to write something on the way to work, like yesterday or I could do something different. I’ve chosen something different. I thought I’d go over some of the Hardware and Software that I use everyday, but that’s a long list. One I might do on a future Tech Tuesday, for today I thought I’d highlight 3 gadgets that I took on vacation with me(I’ll leave out the few gadgets Melissa brought).

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Tech Tuesday: Kobo Touch

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Sometimes you have start over,  that’s what I’m going to do today. Last Christmas I got a Kobo Touch E-Reader, I had wanted to write a review of it for the first Monday of the new year, it never happened. For the entire year I would look at the draft post try and write it and never get it finished. In the beginning of December I sat down and pushed threw it, writing a few hundred words about it, but still never got it finished. So today I through it out and start over. I’m not even going to look back at what I had, this is a new review.

The Kobo Touch is a light weight and easy to use E-Book reader. It’s e-ink screen is easy to read. Over the last year I’ve used it almost daily. The device has limited physical buttons and ports. There is a Home button on the front,  a power toggle on the top edge. The left edge has a small port for a Micro SD card (I’ve never found the need for one) and the bottom edge has the USB port for transferring books from a computer and charging.  The back is a quilted and almost soft to touch. I remember when I first held it being surprised by how thin and light it was. Of course once it’s in it’s case it looses most of that.

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Taming my Inbox: Rebooting the process

A while ago I wrote about the mess my multiple email accounts are in, and how I planned on writing about how I get it all organized (read it here). Since then I have been trying to figure out where to start. I began reviewing the different software I could use, but as I began writing about the different options I had the list kept growing, and each choice seems to do something I liked. So I stalled and nothing got posted. So Today I take a step back and try to break the problem into smaller pieces.

I have three types of email accounts Personal, Work and Miscellaneous accounts. I am going to look at what I use each type for then build a Plan for taming each type.

Personal:
This is where I get email from friends, family and other non work stuff. Right now I have 4 email accounts that fit into this type. Of these 4 accounts 2 our hosted on my domain and the others are a Microsoft Live and GMail account. As of writing this only 2 are accessible from my phone, which seems to suggest That I might have 2 to many. Of course my accounts have an average of around 2000 messages in the in-boxes, with some messages as old as 3 years. So before I purge any I first have to go through and organize the messages and get rid of the trash.

I also have another 2 accounts sitting on the bubble of becoming Personal accounts, both are currently accessible from my phone, but that’s because I have been testing the accounts to see how the phone handles it. One is a Yahoo account, the other is a free web based Exchange account that supports active sync with my Windows Mobile Phone (Mail2Web). To be fair, the yahoo account was part of an attempt to build a brand around my blog and can be relegated to Miscellaneous or deleted outright. The Exchange account is a different story, I signed up for it to see how my phone would interact with an Exchange account and to see if I would be dinged for bandwidth. I haven’t been dinged and I’m very happy with how its been work. The only problem is that I only have web access to the Exchange account and that limits how useful the account will be. I could subscribe to an Exchange account with full access from out look but that costs between 8 and 16 a month, and going into a year of Melissa on maternity leave that’s not an option.

Work:
I have one work account but as with most of my personal accounts I have over 2 years of email Sitting in my inbox. I have been using IMAP to access my Mail to simplify getting messages from home and work. To tame my work email I need to start moving my email out of the inbox and into better system, something to make it easier to find old messages.

Miscellaneous:
Then there are my messing around accounts. These are usually online accounts I create to check out the service and I use to register for things that I don’t generally want in my inbox. Occasionally I move an email account from Messing around to my personal but not often. I have around 6 accounts that I check occasionally that makeup up my Miscellaneous accounts. For now I am planning leaving these accounts alone. I should probably purge a few of them, but that can wait till I have the rest of my email tamed.

The Next Step:
So that is generally what my email situation Looks like. Now I need to Clean it up. From the beginning I have been looking at having a single solution for all my email, but as I have been reviewing my software options and my accounts themselves I am starting to think that I might want to consider having one application for my personal accounts and another for work account. I am also starting to reconsider where I want my mail to sit. For the last 2 years my mail has lived on the Mail server, I just connect to it and work with it online, usually using IMAP and Mozilla Thunderbird. This allows me to have access to the same mail where ever I am. This solved a problem with accessing my Mail at home and at work, but I now have a new way to check my Mail anywhere, my phone. So I have been asking my self, does my Mail need to stay on the server? I don’t have an answer for that yet, but until recently I wasn’t even asking the question.

So the question is how to organize my mail, where to do it, and how am I going to find the time to go through the thousands of messages. Right now I’m deciding between Tagging my messages with the relevant categories, or using a folder structure. In the end this might be decided by which software I use to organize my mail. Only time will tell, every post I’ve worked on so far has changed my prospective on my inbox and how to solve it so stay tuned.

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