My initial impression of Microsoft’s Surface RT Tablet

First and foremost I haven’t purchased a Surface RT tablet. While traveling this week for work I found an opportunity to stop by a Microsoft Retail store in the area and finally get my hands on one for about half an hour. There is no question about  it, Microsoft has done themselves proud with the Surface hardware. The tablet is beautiful from the kickstand to the angular features and even the touch cover, which is surprisingly nice to type with and gives the tablet a finished look when closed. The UI works great on the tablet and everything operates smoothly. I put it through its paces by opening as many programs as I could and just bouncing around from a Word document and SkyDrive to taking photos and video. I even spent time browsing the web from within the new IE. Everything worked as advertised.

Continue reading My initial impression of Microsoft’s Surface RT Tablet

Saturday morning coffee [October 27 2012]

So much happens each and every week that it’s hard to keep up sometimes. Here are some of the tabs that are open in my browser this morning along with some random thoughts….

The coffee mug to the right is from Galveston, TX. Galveston is an interesting place. It’s a beach town, but unlike any beach town here in California. Galveston has the warmest ocean water I’ve ever been in. Almost like bath water. That may sound like a negative, but it’s really not. Instead of having to inch my way into the water I was able to jump right in and spend some time with the kids without freezing half to death. It was a nice change of pace from the California coastline. The other distinct feature of the beach is that it has a gradual slope into the water from the shoreline. I was able to walk more than 100 yards from shore without getting into water over my head. It made for some great fun as my wife and daughters joined me and we played in the water for quite some time. I hadn’t been in ocean water for a long time. It felt good. By the time we were finished at the beach I was sticky with salt, worn out and slightly burnt. In other words, perfect.

Paranormal Activity 4 was #1 at the box office last weekend. It’s that time of year again. Because we’re nearing Halloween we’re seeing a whole slew of scary movies hitting the box office. Not my thing.  I’m not a big fan of Halloween in general. Give me Thanksgiving or Christmas every time. You can keep Halloween and the movies that go along with it.
Continue reading Saturday morning coffee [October 27 2012]

Microsoft Surface RT is a great looking tablet, but I’ll be holding off for now

The difference between men and boys is the price of their toys” – unknown

I had a Microsoft Surface RT tablet in the shopping cart. I was this close – holding my thumb and index finger very close to each other – to pulling the trigger. Had the trusty credit card out and permission from the spousal unit.

What’s not to like about Surface RT? I believe it’s a more sophisticated option than either an iPad or Android tablet. The starting price is $499 for a 32 GB model with 10.6-inch ClearType HD screen, five-point multi-touch, resolution of 1366 x 768, a NVIDIA T30 chip paired with 2 GB of system memory, MicroSD card slot, USB 2.0 port, HD video out port, has a kickstand and so on. It even includes Microsoft Office 2013 Student Edition for crying out loud! And if you’re willing to drop a bit more cash you have options for a keyboard cover. It’s truly a bargain.

So what’s the problem? There’s really no problem. I want one. I really want one. The issue is that I made a deal with myself a month or so ago that I wouldn’t purchase another piece of technology unless it could replace something I currently have. I have a lot of toys.  And unfortunately the Microsoft Surface RT won’t replace any of the bigger ones because it runs an ARM-based chip that typically powers smartphones and consumer tablets. It could easily replace an iPad or Android tablet, but not my laptop or tablet PC. I suppose it could in theory, but not practically.

Being the logical guy that I am I’ve decided to wait for Surface Pro and shell out the $1K plus in the hope of replacing at least one of my bigger machines. That’s the plan anyway. You never know though. I’ll be in up in Bellevue, WA next week, which means that I’ll end up at the Microsoft Store at least once. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I ended up walking away with a Surface RT tablet. Just sayin’.


Saturday morning coffee [October 13 2012]

So much happens each and every week that it’s hard to keep up sometimes. Here are some of the tabs that are open in my browser this morning along with some random thoughts….

The coffee mug to the right is from The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Tx. My family and I spent some time there during our summer vacation in Texas. One of the things I really wanted to do in Dallas was visit Dealey Plaza and the site where JFK was assassinated. Well, I finally got that chance as my family and I spent some time walking around the plaza area, visiting the location of the assassination and spending a little time at the book repository and museum. JFK is one of the few men in history that I would have liked to have met in person.

Taken 2 was #1 at the box office last weekend. My wife and I saw it last Saturday. Not bad. If you decide to go see it make sure you don’t want a good story line or incredible acting range. Just enjoy the senseless violence and be entertained. Hotel Transylvania was #2 at the box office. I saw that last night with my wife and youngest daughter. Good, clean humor. Worth seeing especially if you have little ones.

Continue reading Saturday morning coffee [October 13 2012]

HP ElitePad 900 Windows 8 Tablet. Tah-da!

Engadget: “…the ElitePad has a premium look, marked by a machined aluminum back cover and 400-nit IPS display coated in Gorilla Glass. Also similar to the EliteBooks, it meets the military’s MIL-spec 810G durability requirements, and can withstand three-foot drops, among other accidents. All told, it weighs 1.5 pounds and measures 9.2mm thick. Going by weight, that’s more along the lines of what you’d expect from a larger, 11-inch tablet, but 1.5 pounds is still manageable, especially considering how armored this thing is.

Add to that 10 hours of runtime, a 1,280 x 800 resolution screen, an SSD, and a gaggle of accessories – docking station, “smart jackets” (seriously cool), NFC enabled pen support – and you have one impressive machine. It’s good to see someone going above and beyond and thinking outside the box a little bit.

The ElitePad 900 is scheduled to be released sometime in January of 2012. I can’t wait to see this thing in person.

Re-evaluating my travel gadgetry

I enjoy my gadgets. I enjoy them a lot. I take them everywhere I go. I’m not obsessed with them, but I find that they help me pass the time when I’m by myself or during quite periods when my crew is still sleeping.

Everyone in my family has an “electronics bag” that they carry their stuff in when we travel. During our summer vacation this year I got tickled watching everyone pack their gadget bags. I had everyone lay their stuff out on our coffee table and I snapped a quick photo. The image is below. As you can see it’s quite a bit of stuff.

I change up my travel gear all the time. I have both a work laptop and a tablet PC. I used to travel with both machines, but it became cumbersome, especially with all the security at airports. So now I only take one machine depending on what I’m doing, i.e. when I travel for work I take my work machine and when I travel for fun I take my tablet PC.

My other options when I travel include:

I’ve been trying to pare it down a bit as my bag is getting heavy. I’m considering going in two completely different directions.

Option 1: Get a Lenovo X1 Carbon to replace both my work laptop and my tablet PC, and add a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 to replace my need for note taking on a tablet.

Option 2: Get a new Windows 8 hybrid tablet like the Samsung ATIV Smart PC to replace my work machine and take the place of my aging Lenovo t201x tablet PC. With this scenario I’d continue to carry my Samsung Tab 7.0 Plus.

Option 2 is much cheaper, but Option 1 has a pretty solid coolness factor associated with it. I’ll mull this over for a while, at least until the new Windows 8 machines appear on the scene.

Saturday morning coffee [September 1 2012]

So much happens each and every week that it’s hard to keep up sometimes. Here are some of the tabs that are open in my browser this morning along with some random thoughts….

The coffee mug to the right is from Stanford University. I took my daughters on a site visit to the Stanford campus in the Summer of 2011. The campus is beautiful. This is the last time I will use this particular mug. I haven’t decided whether to simply put it in storage or smash it to pieces and throw it in the trash. I’m a little upset with Stanford. My daughter applied to Stanford in late 2011 and was promptly turned down. My daughter has the highest GPA that can be earned in high school, graduated Summa Cum Laude, was Valedictorian, took the maximum number of AP courses allowed (received A’s in all of them), did community service, was on the Forensics team, part of the leadership club, did school cheer, was part of two National Championship Competitive Cheer teams (outside school activity), etc, etc. She really wanted to attend Stanford, and they broke her heart. Their loss. My daughter will be attending UCLA this fall. I’m very proud.

- The Expendables 2 was #1 at the box office last weekend. My family and I saw it. Great movie. It was exactly what I wanted. It was action from beginning to end. Remember, I go to movies to be entertained, not to be enlightened. And I was entertained.

Sylvester Stallone: I heard you were bit by a rattlesnake.

Chuck Norris: I was and after 5 days of agonizing pain… it died.

Continue reading Saturday morning coffee [September 1 2012]

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 just around the corner

It appears that the Android tablet I’ve been waiting for is mere weeks away from hitting the street. Of course I’m talking about the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. If reports around the ‘net are true, the Note 10.1 should be available by the end of August, i.e. this month.

Specs include a 1.4GHz quad core processor, 2GB RAM, a pair of cameras (1.9MP on the front and a 5MP on the rear), microSD card slot, and of course pen support. I’m looking forward to having a 10.1-inch Android tablet optimized for the S Pen.

My limited experiences with the Galaxy Note have been exceptional, and one can only imagine that the additional real estate provided by a 10.1-inch screen will provide ample opportunity to do some really cool stuff.

The promotional video is below. If the tablet can perform even half of the functions covered in the video, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 will be a must have tablet.

Samsung is on fire.

Making data input on tablets simpler, easier (SwiftKey Healthcare)

Healthcare requires a lot of data input. Unfortunately that’s where tablets fall woefully short, i.e. doing lots of typing. So it’s was with great interest that I read about the new SwiftKey Healthcare keyboard for tablets.

SwiftKey Healthcare is an intelligent keyboard solution that offers unrivaled next word prediction for healthcare professionals. Built using real-world clinical notes data, it makes text entry on mobile devices fast, easy and tailored to your healthcare context.

SwiftKey Healthcare is based on the SwiftKey language engine. This uses patented Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning techniques to understand the relationship between words and offer powerful corrections and targeted next-word predictions that run straight from a device.

My daughter uses texting apps on her Android phone with “next word prediction” and I have to admit, the kid can text pretty stinking fast. While I don’t think an onscreen keyboard will ever totally replace a physical keyboard, things like SwiftKey Healthcare are certainly a step in the right direction. I’m looking forward to giving it a whirl.

Technology still can’t beat pen and paper

I am a tablet PC guy, no question. My tablet of choice is the Levnovo x201t, but I’ve tried several and enjoy the constant hunt for a new one. I don’t travel with it much these days as I’ve grown tired of carrying multiple machines, dealing with security, etc. But when I’m at home my tablet PC is a workhorse. Between Microsoft OneNote and Evernote I’ve basically eliminated my need for a notebook. Or so I thought.

For whatever reason I decided to take a long hard look at my note taking needs this week. I’ve been rather irritable lately and found myself nitpicking many of the cons associated with using a tablet PC for taking notes that I previously overlooked. The shortcoming of using a tablet PC are obvious: battery life, “boot time”, size and the mother of all….you can’t take notes on a tablet of any kind when it’s turned off, which has been a real issue for me while traveling.
Continue reading Technology still can’t beat pen and paper