It’s hard sometimes to get back on the bike after taking a break or natural procrastination kicks in.

So my apologies.

From my perch I still observe the goings in in technology; even type a few of my mutterings on Twitter. But lately I have been silent. Part of it has been laziness, but also a growing weariness to jump back into the fray that is consumer technology blogging.

While I was silent a number of things have popped off including new iPhones, a larger iPad, Windows 10, Android M, Microsoft writing down Nokia, and lots more. In time I will be updating this site with new material, so stay tuned.

Today Apple CEO Tim Cook will once again take the stage and announce new products with the now iconic symbol of a half bitten fruit. Months of speculation will finally be answered and whatever is shown will be reported on every news site from here to over there.

Today’s announcement will likely cover a new iPhone 6 variant, a possible Apple TV, and a larger iPad.

The thing about Apple announcements, at least in some circles, is they are harbingers of obsolescence for something. The announcement of the first iPhone ended the mobile phone market as it was and sent companies scrambling. The iPad was the beginning of the so called Post-PC era and resulted in companies almost killing themselves to get into tablets. The long rumored Apple TV which may show today was long supposed to be the grim reaper coming for the souls of television, cable, and gaming consoles.

And so once again we have an Apple announcement; and once again there will be companies wondering if this is the day they loose.

For me as a Microsoft fan I really dread the Apple events because I think  afterwards Microsoft will bow out and quit because X is announced. Its how most feel when discussing Windows Phone. Now the mumbling is around the Surface line.  The gist is a larger iPad with a pen and keyboard will destroy the momentum of the Surface line and especially its Pro model which has sold well.

With the Surface Microsoft’s biggest issue was they created a tablet but didn’t have the app support needed to make it really work as a tablet. The Pro line worked but only because it ran “real” Windows. And even after the success of the Pro 3 Microsoft still must contend with it not being tablet enough.

The iPad Pro according to sources will be as large or larger than the Surface Pro 3 (12 inches) and like the Surface come with a Pen stylus and keyboard. It is not known if its all bundled together. iOS 9 makes things like multitasking easier for such a large screen but the question with the Pro is the opposite of the Surface.

For all the success of the iPad it has faced the issue of declining sales. The iPad Pro is largely seen as Apple’s way of re-energizing the tablet market. And its adding features that the Surface line already had. So for me the question is does the iPad Pro kill the Surface and Windows tablets in general?

Maybe that is the wrong question to ask.

Maybe what should be discussed is how does Microsoft and others meet the challenge. How do they build up their app catalogs and feature sets. For too long we have treated Apple like this thing that can never be competed against; that was unbeatable.

That should now end.

I feel like I need to preface this by saying I am an African-American man that was born and raised in the South. In fact I was born in the state that birthed noted Civil war general and founder of the Ku Klux Klan Nathan Bedford Forrest. I understand exactly what the Confederate Stars and Bars represent to anyone who is Black in America.


I said that to say I think the anti-Confederate flag movement is a non-issue.

The Confederate flag or at least the one we think of is an invention of the Civil Rights era. It was put up in opposition to a growing movement for Black empowerment; a warning. But I also know for some it’s a symbol of state’s rights and a history they aren’t ashamed of.

Now if I was younger I’d be like tear it down, burn it, and (expletive) any honky who protests. I’m older and that flag holds no power over me. And its destruction or desecration is only symbolic. And that what’s going on.

No one except that young shooter could’ve stopped the horrible thing that happened at Mother Emmanuel AME. Nine good people died and we can’t bring them back. Removing all vestiges of the Confederate flag or even history from the South won’t change what happened; and can only provide moderate relief. It is being done cause this we can do.

But the problem we have is all we’re doing is avoiding the larger issue and not facing it head on.


The thing about history is it happened. The Confederacy existed, slavery existed; African-Americans are here in this country because it needed a labor force. The Civil War is remembered about being about ending slavery but reality was it was about more. And the slave part only became prominent when it became necessary.

See we like are problems and are solutions to be black and white and easy to resolve like a 50’s sitcom. But life isn’t black and white. It is messy and the resolution is often just as messy and prone to leave things unfinished.

But that’s okay cause we don’t sell them flags no more and that’s that.



Today in 5-4 ruling the United States Supreme Court has ended the decades long issue of Gay marriage by legalizing it in all 50 states. The ruling follows a previous case that overturned the Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA which federally ruled marriage to between a man and woman) and the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy that prevented gay and lesbians openly serving in the US military. Today’s ruling eliminates the last 14 states that prohibited gay marriage or did not recognize such unions if done in other states.

The ruling’s decision was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy who was the deciding vote while the four dissenting Justices including Chief Justice John Roberts wrote individual dissents.

I am not surprised by the decision. I mean the Court had already made it legal by overturning DoMA which was a federal law. I am surprised that some thought Chief Justice Roberts wouldn’t dissent and be on the “right” side of history. It actually interesting in looking at what both he and Kennedy wrote as both the bookend to the issue of Gay marriage and the next chapter.

Kennedy writes of interracial marriage and the sanctity of marriage as an institution. He talks about the fact that denying marriage to gay and lesbian couples was a denial of personhood. It is an evocative piece that is an illustration of the Constitution as a living document; one that adapts.

Robert’s dissent is also interesting but in a different way. He isn’t dissenting because he is against gay marriage but against having to decide the case in the Courts. He writes about the precedent it sets that any law created by states can be overturned by simply going to court. As Roberts says the Court isn’t about making law and this case, Obergefell v. Hodges, should’ve been resolved in the Legislature and the States.

So what is my opinion?

I’m keeping that to myself. But I will make a prediction that some states will be looking hard at creating religious freedom laws similar to the ones in places like Arkansas and Ohio. I also expect cases to crop up over issues of whether its discrimination or religious observance when someone refuses to do a service for a gay couple.

So Love wins.

Microsoft held it’s first Ignite conference this past week in Chicago. Ignite combines previous Microsoft conferences like TechEd and I think SharePoint and others. Unlike Build Ignite is about managing IT and services like Offic365. For me there wasn’t much news but there were still some interesting bits of information.

One of the biggest was the Windows Update for Business. The new Update allows businesses to stagger updates and control which users get which feature. Secondly Microsoft released a public preview of Office 2016. Office featured quite heavily at Ignite with news about Office365 and OneDrive. The news around OneDrive was interesting; for the first time we got a look at the roadmap for coming features and updates. The big news is OneDrive will be consolidating its consumer and business products on both the front and back ends. With Office Office365 is adding the newest Office application, Sway, to 365.

One of the more interesting events, or set of events, was Ignite had multiple sessions around Microsoft hardware. There was one for Windows 10 on phones. The session went over a bit of what was covered at Build, but it also covered Microsoft Lumia. While it was brief the Lumia discussion did confirm that there will be high end hardware (so you with the pitchfork and torchlight can go home). Ignite also held a number of sessions on the Surface.

There were the obvious ones about deploying Surface devices in workplaces. But there were two that were about design and development. One was an overview about the development about the Surface Pro 3. This one was interesting because it went into the cost of development and some of the reasoning behind certain design choices. Now the second one was done by Surface’s Creative director Ralf Groene. It was much more an overview of the Surface brand but it interesting because it describe the history of the Surface and the process by which it was made. (This will be its own post).

The last two weeks has been chock full of Microsoft developer and product news that I am only now getting to write down my thoughts.

This week Microsoft held both Microsoft Ignite and Microsoft Edge Web Summit. Last week it held it’s annual developer conference Build as well as a small gathering for analysts and investors. They even managed to squeeze in the release of their newest member of the Surface family.

Busy week

So I was planning on doing a guide for understanding the Windows Universal Platform; going in depth but forgot I am not a developer. But I still want to discuss this from a non-developer, layman’s view. I will be talking about a few of these topics in detail but a bit later.


Like I said last week was the Build conference which is Microsoft’s big developer show. And the focus there was on it’s platforms. So the focus was on Azure and Windows 10. Build 2015 was an interesting event. Not just because it began with Azure or HoloLens, but how it illustrated where both Microsoft and Windows is going.

For the last two years I think many enthusiasts looking on from the outside have really questioned if Windows is relevant to Microsoft. Windows 8 and Windows Phone’s reception and the embrace of a cross platform strategy has led many, including at time myself, to think Microsoft is divesting itself from Windows. We wanted clarity and I think Build brought that.

The more I learn about Windows 10 the more I buy what CEO Satya Nadella says; this is Windows being retooled and rethought for the next stage. While I still think Windows 10 is mostly about regaining the desktop it is also not abandoning the mobile aspiration of Windows 8. In some ways 10 is a clearing of the deck. This is a version of Windows that is moving back toward the desktop and also cleaning it up to move forward. I mean for all the talk about pulling back from Windows 8, Windows 10 is also refining what 8 brought. Microsoft is expanding the Windows store in terms of what it offers and where it runs.

There will be one store across devices and it will even have programs built running traditional desktop code. The new Windows Universal Platform (WUP) is an expansion of the Windows Runtime. Windows 10 is about making it easier to use on a desktop laptop, but it is not a return to Windows 7.

Build being a developer conference was all about developers and code; which made some reporters supposedly upset cause they wanted this to be WWDC. The interesting thing for me was how much the developer part of the show was about them going to where developers are. They released a number of products to Mac and Linux developers; specifically Visual Studio Code.

They also opened up Windows development to developers on iOS and Android by making it easier to just port code. Yes this is a Hail Mary pass but it also makes sense. And to me anyway it didn’t feel like a death knell the way Android porting to Blackberry did or the way it was rumored for Windows Phone. The news about porting iOS apps was a surprise because no one was expecting it. The more interesting in my opinion part was the plan to bring traditional desktop programs into the new Universal Platform. The reasons this port is interesting is in order to do so developers essentially are having to get rid of the a lot of things that needed to go.

Beyond the developer news the other big thing was design. Or more to the fact the design team is finally talking publicly. One of the things that has been frustrating for me has been this silence on the design front. Around Windows the majority of discussions are around development and tooling but little about design. I think part of the issue with Windows Phone and especially Windows 8 development was this lack of designer input. This Build we actually had a high level talk and hell even a blog post. Progress!

So this week the Surface 3 finally went on sale in stores and online and I once again wade through the reviews (both written and video).

Since the release of the very first Surface I have noticed a pattern in a lot of the reviews that almost become cliché. Actually it reoccurs so much you could make a Bingo game out of them. I am not saying they aren’t making valid points but at some point even they have to know they shooting the proverbial dead horse and move on. So this is my list of things said about the Microsoft Surface aka Surface Review Bingo (Surface 3 edition).


Now this is the part of the review that either comes at the end or sometimes is the whole review, especially when the Surface was new. Now this problem I blame on the Surface team itself; for giving a name to how well a tablet could sit on one’s lap. It seems like every review has to remark on it. How well it does or doesn’t and how some wish it were a laptop.

Is it a PC or is it a Tablet

This is the part of the review where you can tell how the whole of the review will go down. This part is also tied to the discussion on apps. Now the issue with the Surface for most reviewers is it doesn’t really conform to how a tablet is defined. Most tablets are defined by the iPad; a light, keyboard-less device that runs a mobile (phone) OS and apps which you touch the screen to use. A tablet (most times) doesn’t have or require a keyboard. The Surface is a tablet, but it also functions like a PC. The Surface also has an optional keyboard which makes it more of a PC; many reviewers will tell you it is required and thus the debate continues.


Now if a review mentions how to use the Surface or “real” Windows you have reached the apps portion of the review. Let’s get this out of the way, there are not a lot of apps (software written for tablets/phones) in the Windows store, and what is there is a mixed bag. When apps are talked about it usually ends up as, “don’t buy this to use as a tablet, you’ll be disappointed”. They’ll also mention again how you will need the keyboard because you’ll want to use the desktop which isn’t touch friendly and thus you need a keyboard.

“Real” Windows

Now up until the Surface 3 the Surface line was divided between the ARM based Surface line the Pro line that ran on Intel. The ARM version ran a ARM based version of Windows called Windows RT which only ran tablet apps and not the one’s built for PCs. The Pro line though runs on Intel which REAL Windows; desktop programs like Photoshop, iTunes, and Chrome. Real Windows has none of the limitations Windows RT did except not suitable for touch, not scaling well to certain screens, a tad on the insecure side. But hell its REAL Windows.

Why doesn’t Microsoft just include the Keyboard?

So the Microsoft Surface comes with a set of accessories. One of these has been the TypeCover which as it’s name implies is cover that also doubles as a keyboard. The keyboard section in the review usually goes like this, ” We love the keyboard, but wish it was included with the Surface. We also wish that there were a version that was a real keyboard attachment to turn this into a real PC.” Sometimes I wish they would say it’s optional (because it is).

Now these are just some of the re-occuring themes, motifs, and memes that will litter the next Surface review you read. I am not pointing them out to say they are wrong; only that they exist. I may even use one or two myself.


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