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.

captured-civil-war-confederate-flag

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.

disunion-first-national-flag-blog427-v2[1]

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.

image: thefederalist.com

image: thefederalist.com

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.

Build

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).

Lapability

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.

Apps

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.

So I ran across this interview with writer and hip hop personality Karrine Steffans aka Superhead. It was an interview about her relationship with the rapper Lil Wayne with radio personality DJ Vlad. It was snippet of an obviously larger interview but the thing that struck me was how Steffans talked about her “relationship” to Wayne.

I don’t often write about this type of stuff but Steffans comments and her thinking left an impression.

Now for those that don’t know Karrine Steffans is famous for having relationships with numerous rappers and actors; which she later wrote about in a series of memoirs. Steffans is a controversial subject in hip hop circles because of her disclosures. I am not going to talk about that but about her and Wayne.

It seems that Wayne and her have been in a very, very open relationship for years now. It’s not like a traditional open relationship where both agree going in, set up rules, and make sure whoever they sleep with understand. It’s more like they just are and occasionally have other people.

It would be a modern thing except for the part that both have married and/or became engaged to people. Wayne had kids with multiple women, and Steffans expect any man she dates or marries to be okay with her running off when Weezy F Baby calls.

Now Steffans says these guys get with her knowing this because, “they like being with the woman of a powerful man”. Maybe that is true; maybe its getting with Superhead. Maybe they think they’ll change her, I don’t know. But as she explains they always leave; she expects them to leave.

I have no idea what the women that get involve with Wayne think, especially the one’s that have his kids.

I don’t know but it doesn’t seem like a healthy situation foor anyone because no one has any type of relationship. Wayne and Steffans are a loose concept of a couple; he goes to her when he needs to and she waits like 911. Anyone that walks in is at best a guest and at worst a fuckbuddy. Anyone trying to get hitched is silly cause they are committed until the call comes in. Steffans doesn’t want anything that creates the semblance of ownership or owing and in terms doesn’t value the guys she let’s in cause she’s waiting on them leaving.

It’s a mess or maybe it is love and I am too archaic to understand it.

I’m off to a monestary, y’all can have this mess.

There has been so much news coming out of this year’s Build Conference that it’s hard to just recap daily events. Beyond HoloLens which is amazing is a number of initiatives and changes that are making Windows 10 this very intriguing platform to watch. In particular the future of the UI once known as Metro and Continuum.

Now this isn’t exactly breaking news, other sites have reported it, but during one of the sessions on Windows Live Tiles one of the slides listed Interactive Tiles as a feature being worked . While Live tiles allow you to see information without having to open an application you still have to open an app to do anything proactive. Interactive tiles function like Widgets which allow you to interact with info without leaving the Start Screen. Interactive tiles were introduced as a research project two years ago and it looks like they will be coming in Windows 10.

Interactive_Tiles

On the other side of things is Continuum. Continuum is a system that makes it easy for users of Windows to switch between the Desktop and Tablet environments. Basically it’s a tablet mode for Windows PCs and 2-in-1 devices. On Wednesday Microsoft introduced a version of Continuum for Windows Phones running 10. unlike the PC/Tablet PC version, Continuum for Phones turns smartphones into PCs. This means with a dock, wireless dongle, or USB cord your Windows phone can deliver a PC experience.

Continuum_Concept

Now during a talk on how to implement Continuum for Phones members of the Continuum team briefly showed a slide that showed a device they described, “as not a PC but a device powered by a Phone.” The white laptop dock, which was also described as a detachable tablet PC, would work like a cross between Windows RT and a Chromebook. The team described it as one of a new class of devices that could be powered by Continuum for Phones. The idea of using a phone to power a laptop isn’t new; Motorola did it with the Atrix and Palm with the Foleo. Asus also markets the Padfone as tablet/phone device. The difference here is Microsoft is designing its software to work across screens and providing developers with the tools to do the same.

The fact that the developers showed off a picture of a device looks like Microsoft or one of its hardware partners is planning on showing us something cool.

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