Inappropriately Touching Windows 8

5 03 2012

It’s time to dust off the cobwebs here.

I’ve got a few things to do in 2012 technology-wise and I may shift the focus of this blog so that its content better includes what I’m actually doing. Including more content like photography and shooting information in addition to computing and technology topics.

Most of my technology these days involves cloud computing and lots of data management. Photography happens to be involved or reliant upon both those things!

Onto Windows 8…

Starting with the Developer Preview, I knew that this would be something interesting. In fact, prior to its release, I bought my new Tablet PC Convertible with multi-touch, and a pressure-sensitive Wacom stylus (for Photoshop) knowing that “the future of computing” involved touchscreen computing.

(And, I have looked at the iPad for a long time. I’ve used them, and I’ve used the iPhone as a primary device, Mac OS X etc. I’ve also been watching Android tablets closely to see if they would fit my needs…)

Now, I’ve used Tablet PC’s for the past 8 years, so that’s nothing new. I know Apple says that “if you see a stylus, they blew it,” but Wacom appears to have made an OK business out of it. And now, I have a mini Cintiq that is also a computer with me (note – I would not refuse owning a real Cintiq!).

The Windows 8 Developer Preview was pretty lumpy. I did use it as my “primary desktop” for a few months. But, I used Windows 7 as my “photography OS” for using Capture One, FastPictureViewer, Photoshop, etc. while using Windows 8 for Office tasks and Visual Studio.

The current Windows 8 Consumer Preview seems like a totally new, much smoother experience. And, I will state up front, that this experience will be very familiar to me because of the following factors:

  • I have a Windows Phone 7 (going on 18 months) – but my LG is dying
  • I used the Developer Preview
  • I have a multi-touch device

That said, I use the keyboard and mouse just as much (I don’t use my tablet as a “tablet” – I just touch the screen).

You’re going to love this when Apple invents it!

If I’m in a public setting, inevitably surrounded by iPads, and I boot up my laptop, I have to touch the screen to boot into an OS… it’s a dual boot system. And the boot screen uses the Zune / Windows Phone 7 “swipe up” type unlock move which isn’t subtle on a bigger screen.

I get asked: “Did you just touch your laptop?!”

No kidding…

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Windows copy and paste rants and raves

6 07 2009

Ever since Windows NT 4, I have had an issue with a very simple operation… copy and paste.  It may have existed prior to NT4, but that’s the OS where it started to matter to me.

It’s not something obvious like, resuming an interrupted transfer or having the progress bar be better integrated into the status of the files being copied (e.g. indicate they are in process or in queue so you don’t accidentally edit or delete them).

I can’t necessarily call this a bug, but it certainly is a pronounced behavior that exists today in Windows Vista and Windows 7.  It’s quite simple, and I’m going to talk about some of its effects. 

The steps to repeat the behavior are easy:

  • Multi-select several files (say file1.txt, file2.txt, and file3.txt)
  • Copy
  • Paste them into a new location

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Economic necessity: When all you have is a hammer…

16 04 2009

The lure of “Something as a Service” may not be for everyone, but I think some of (the few) positive aspects of hard times are discipline and innovation. 

Reflect on Michael Porter’s HBR article “What is Strategy” to see what I’m talking about.  As is validated in this blog post, everyone will cut costs and focus on operational excellence, but that opportunity is transient.

Innovation through discipline is typified in my work with small theatre companies.  The arts have known nothing but hard times.  Yet, we have pulled off miracles with zero money.  That’s not to say we couldn’t have used more funds, but creativity was the order of the day to make something out of nothing.

User innovation, like art, may actually thrive in hard times.

The sin of opulence?

Fifteen years ago great debates raged on USENET newsgroups about the merits of programming in constricted resource environments (yes, comp.sys.*.advocacy).  Assembly vs. higher level languages.  It was very geeky.

The premise was simple: relying on hardware for performance lead to undisciplined code.  Today’s constraints are different, but using existing assets better will force creative thinking – as long as there is incentive, and merit is recognized.

Users may not have access to anything in today’s buzzword parade (SOA, SaaS, etc.),  but they will discover great potential in tools like Microsoft Office.  Innovative users will exploit all their available resources if they have the time and incentive.

Problems will be solved in new ways, costs may go down, and new value may be discovered – if users are empowered.

The revolution may not be scrutinized

In almost any company, certain users have the flexibility to operate on the outskirts of IT’s control.  So experimentation could already be underway.  Using the Office example, users can install a long term trial version in stealthy manner and create the “next great thing” right under the nose of IT.

These installations can grow gradually with minimal impact on operations, and users can solve some really interesting problems for the business by just assembling components. 

D.I.Y. solutions to problems like document management, “Excel hell”, and rich application construction without programming are all possibilities given the capabilities of Office.

But companies must create a structure to reward the curiosity of its innovators.  Fear of job loss is not a motivator.  In today’s world where company loyalty has dwindled on both sides, a collaborative approach to surviving and thriving is not an option, but a requirement.

In a later post, I’ll write about how and where to draw the line in order to reap the benefits of these innovations sustainably.  Then we’ll discuss what this means for vendors.