Which is more scary: The spooky sounds on the way into work OR me being at work before the sun?
On Friday, I stood in line to pickup a Microsoft Surface for us to play with at work. (Yes. I do have a pretty awesome job.) After spending Friday night setting it up and using it for a good portion of the weekend, I feel like I have a good handle on it. Enough so that I’m willing to make bold sweeping statements that live on the internet forever.
A few disclaimers: These views are obviously mine alone (not my employers), and being so are slanted with a certain amount of Apple fanboyness that I can’t seem to shake. It should also be said that I’m not a tech or hardware journalist, nor do I ever want to be, these are just my reactions over the weekend.
It’s Just Another PC
This is the main takeaway for me. Coming from an Apple world where experiences are tailored for each platform (mobile, tablet, desktop) the “one size fits all” play from Microsoft under delivers in the tablet form factor.
Setup & Setting
One of the first steps of setup is to “give your PC a name” and while this may seem like a small thing, it’s the small things that add up. Once I saw this it all kind of clicked. I thought about all the demo models setup, all had kickstand set and keyboard out.
This PCness shows up in “Settings” where there are a context specific options and then at the very bottom a “Change PC Settings” link to even more settings. This is where you change “Global” configurations like home/lock screen image. Again, it’s a small thing but it is a thing.
The “laptop feel” continued as a tried to use it as a tablet. The proportions of the device make using it in “portrait mode” seem strange and awkward, as it would with any laptop. Even the other physical components like the front facing camera, the sleep/wake button, and even the Windows icon are oriented towards use in landscape mode.
This is not at all how I use my iPad. I use portrait mode for most of what I do (reading, browsing, taking notes) and really only use landscape when I’m either watching a movie or have to write longer text and set it down on a table to do so. Both of these are the rare exception.
In contrast, the Surface appears to be a machine that is meant to be setup, landscape, with the kickstand and the keyboard out, and only occasionally used other wise. To mean, that means it’s a laptop that you can sometimes use as a tablet, not a tablet you can sometimes use as a laptop.
I feel like where Apple used the tablet as a chance to create a new category, Microsoft has used it to make another kind of laptop. And honestly, I don’t want another laptop, and if I did (and was looking Windows) I would not be looking to spend Surface money on a less than beefy machine.
The Bright Spots
Before I lose too many Microsoft fanboys (and yes they exist…I spent an hour in line with them on Friday) I do want to point out the things I really do like about the tablet and the platform.
1) The “Live Tiles”: One of the little things I don’t like about iOS is the fact that they can update my calendar icon to the right date but not the weather icon to the right tempature. The Windows RT (and I guess now Windows 8) OS nails this.
2) A touch interface that works with a mouse: This makes sense given I the primary use case seems to be when used with the keyboard and kickstand, but still it’s nice to see. For the most part the mouse interaction was on par with the touch interface.
3) The virtual keyboard: I really liked the “metro” style digital keys. No texture, no rounded corners, and white text on black keys created something that’s very nice to look at and also felt very easy to use.
4) Number pad virtual keyboard: At first this caught me off guard, but it only took one online form where I had to enter my zipcode to make me really like it.
5) Vibration on “Home” key: When you touch the physical Windows icon it gives you a little vibration…just enough to let you know that you hit it. It’s not really a button, this feedback is a very smart addition and makes me think Windows is closer to creating the magical “buttonless” device than Apple.
A few other things that aren’t bright spots or deal breakers, just observations:
1) I was disappointed that in Photos, whenever I imported mine from Facebook it displayed left to right, oldest to newest. Social sharing has changed the default from oldest to newest TO newest to oldest. Show me the most recent first. To be fair, I just checked iOS and they do the same on Photos and Photo Stream. Come on photo folks, get with it.
2) On the physical “touch” keyboard I’ve really got no strong feelings. It worked like a keyboard.
3) No native Twitter or Facebook clients. This actually is kind of a big deal and I couldn’t believe that you would ship without native clients for these networks. That said, there wasn’t a native Facebook iPad app for a long time, so I guess I give a little bit of a pass here.
4) Yes, the orientation transition is noticeably bad and under thought. (Low quality video of transitions.)
And that’s about it. For those of you that like poorly taken tech photos, I’ve posted a few pictures of some of the things I mentioned.
I cannot imagine buying one of these for myself. It’s not “tablet” enough and it’s not laptop enough. My iPad feels like an enhanced iPhone, while the Surface feels like a paired down laptop. Personally, if I we’re looking to spend money on a Windows based system, I’d be much more likely to get an ultraportable laptop with Windows 8. (Which I know _may_ be Surface Pro, but we’ll have to see that sometime in “Mid January” I’m told.)
All the rails issues are tagged by frameworks now. 50%+ are related to Active Record.
I’ve been watching (in awe) as the Rails Issue team has worked to tag all the issues…and it’s been apparent very early on that ActiveRecord gets a lot of issues submitted. An accompanying trend is that ActiveRecord issues seems to get less new code attached to its new issues. (It’s a little hard to use GH to confirm this…but that’s what I get from spot checking.)
I have some hunches as to why (the need to run 3 dbs to test AR PRs, the inherent complexity of an ORM, etc) but I whatever the reasons I think we can work together to help.
One idea I’ve had is to spin up an ActiveRecord Brigade. This would be a small (more than 2 less than 10) distributed group that commits to learning, monitoring, and fixing ActiveRecord and help make it easier for other to do the same.
To be clear, this is different than the Core Team in that the group would not be setting direction for the library. This may just be an extension of the Rails Issue team…or it may be a different group all together.
But I do think there’s room and need for a group that can focus on resolving ActiveRecord issues and help the Core Team in that area, leaving them to work more towards future features and changes.
And so now I’d love to hear from you. Is this needed? Does this make sense? If so, want to help make it happen?
I don’t talk about my age to often, mostly because I feel very fortunate to have had so many opportunities at a relatively young age, but milestones are a convenient time to reflect on such things and today is one of those. Today is the last day of my 20s.
Looking back, I’m amazed by the number of experiences I’ve had in such a short amount of time. While those experiences are what stand out in something like the list below, the people that have surrounded me during those have been even more impactful on who I am today.
The list below is more for an older version of me than for you, but feel free to enjoy if you’d like:
20 - First non-assignment hacking. First HTML site. First Flash site. (Everyone makes mistakes in their youth.)
21 - First exposure to dynamic web applications. (Shout out to Brandon Turner who was slinging Perl to make things happen on the web.) PHP development.
22 - .NET development. Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia. Engaged to Shevawn.
23 - Married Shevawn. Playa del Carmen. Start contracting full time. Introduced to Ruby on Rails. (Thanks Matt Dean!) Full time Ruby on Rails. London.
24 - Graduate from Texas A&M. (Finally!) Contract with Trabian and The Garland Group.
25 - Find Dallas Ruby. Start at The Garland Group. First Mac. Switzerland, Italy, Greece.
26 - First Dallas Ruby talk. First house. First conference speaking gig. Chicago Christmas.
27 - Lake Tahoe. Claire is born. Start at Sabre.
28 - Lots of doctors and hospitals. Cabo.
29 - Lauren is born. Contest Apps and the “Chirpa” series. First training gig. Start leading Dallas Ruby. Start at LivingSocial.
While that is a great looking list, I’m even more excited about what the next one will look like.
Attention email marketers. This is the interface I use to quickly view, sort, and filter my email. It’s the place I decide what’s worth reading and what isn’t.
If you waste half of the space allotted with “To view this email with images click here” or “Ensure delivery by adding…” or “If this message is not displayed properly click here”, well then there is a very slim chance that I will actually open your email. I doubt I am alone in this.
That is all.
The idea is modeled after the Food Network show where expert chefs are given a basket of random items and told to make a dish from the contents. In the same way, ruby_chopped creates a project for you with a random set of gems, and asks you to do something great with them.
It was a fun project for several reasons:
- I had never built a gem with an accompanying command line executable. Good learning there. (And even more through the pull requests…)
- People wanted to add stuff to it! Within the first 5 or 6 hours I had two pull requests to greatly improve the executable and the way projects were built. Within 24 hours there were 2 more with additional options and features.
- Not only did it allow for others to contribute to OSS, but gave me chance to contribute to a different OSS project…more on that later.
All in all a great time and another reminder that sometimes this hobby turned job can still be a fun hobby!