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Friday, June 22, 2012

Thinking about the "Surface"

Earlier this week Microsoft held a super-secret-event in which they unveiled the new Surface. This is no longer the tabletop touch screen that was revealed earlier but a highly portable Ultra-book / Tablet computer. The event's presentation explained, in limited detail, two iterations of the product: Surface for Windows RT & Surface for Windows 8 Pro. This is a break though product for Microsoft, though not for the reason you might expect.

Hardware and Software Hand-in-Hand

Microsoft's flagship product is software, both the Office Suite and the Windows operating system. They also have an abundant hardware business model as well, producing peripherals such as keyboards and mice, and the very popular line of Xbox products. The Surface is where the merge of these to focuses come together. This is the strongest point in the Surface; the fact that the hardware is built for the software and vice-versa. 

This hardware/software relationship has been modeled by Apple for years. Commonly referred to as a "walled-garden" or "closed-ecosystem" it ensures consistent stability and optimization. Microsoft historically has used the OEMs for hardware production; with Surface, they are now in direct competition with they main software licensees. It will be interesting to watch how this new business approach plays out once the Surface comes to market.

Surface Without Depth

While it is high time that Microsoft brings something of value to market, the presentation was disappointingly low on details. While all the dimensions and set-aparts were touched on, the important details were ignored. 

The display, while described as HD and Full-HD with mention of eyes not distinguishing pixels (sound familiar) was never clarified with a pixel density.

The product pricing was almost forgotten and only stated as "competitive."

The product release was mentioned often enough but only on a surface level (pun intended); "... will all be available on launch day." Thanks Tips, it is only fair to assume we can buy you product on launch day but is that next week or next year!?

The Surface for...

The naming of technology products is a difficult place to be (remember the feminine product joke with the release of the iPad?). Simple is the best way to go; it becomes memorable and creates ease of conversation. Case in point, try comparing all your favorite Android devices without stumbling and stammering over names.

Microsoft failed at the names for the new Surface product line. Since it is Microsoft hardware, there is no need in the name to specify that it is "....For Window...". The name approach should have been Surface RT & Surface Pro. Easy and clean. Instead we get "Surface for Windows RT" and "Surface for Windows 8 Pro

(Courtesy @isaach)


Microsoft designs an upside-down laptop and calls it "New". This graphic explains it all:

What are your thoughts on the Surface? Is it a worthy opponent for the competition? Leave your thoughts below.

Update 06/26/12: Upon further reading about the Surface product launch, this product might not be as polished as presented. According to, the post-presentation "hands-on" was very limited in what could actually be handled. Included on the "no-touch" list was the TouchCover keyboard. Being as this is a key feature and new tech, the fact that these were display only raises large red flags; makes one wonder how much product development remains for the "within the year" launch.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

WWDC Reflections: Hardware

Over the last week and a half I have both drooled over and chewed on the Next Generation MacBook Pro announcement. This notebook is nothing short of remarkable and I would be lying if I said I did not desire one myself. However, the justification of the purchase price coupled with the how the hardware was designed, the satisfaction quickly wears off.


The Retina Display

This is the reason to purchase this machine. With an incredible resolution, images and video will have never before seen clarity. The downside to this however is the applications that do not support the pixel density, they not going to look too hot until the developer gets around to an update.


All Flash Architecture

This flash storage setup coupled with the new Ivy Bridge processors is going to make this machine screaming fast. According to this independent YouTube Video boot time is under 15 seconds! 

Dropping the Legacy

(Courtesy of
The other main feature of the next generation MacBook Pro is the removal of all legacy I/O ports. What have come to be standard features on most notebooks have been removed in entirety from this hardware. The list of "missing features" includes: Ethernet port, FireWire, and (thought this would happen a while ago) Optical Drive. There are two other features that although not "legacy" will be missed from this device. First is a dedicated Audio-in port. Second is the simple battery charge indicator.

Putting it All Together is Where it Falls Apart

This computer's physical size is impressive enough; slap on the specs that Apple has built in and it is jaw-dropping. This computer was built to take on the most demanding of computing tasks in whatever location you want to perform them (I always prefer to work out of the office). There is no doubt that "Pro" is the name that suits this computer...But not for the reason in which Apple started the Pro line.

The Apple Pro line of computers (Mac Pro and MacBook Pro) where, and still are, designed for the professionals. The original feature that set these machines apart from the rest of the Mac line-up was the easy upgrade-ability. Though the easiness of this upgrading has taken a downward turn over the past few years it was still possible, until this next generation MacBook Pro. With the RAM soldered to the logic board and a proprietary cut SSD, what you buy is what you get. My advice, buy the fully upgraded version if this is the machine you want. Otherwise, you may regret it in as little as a year from now.

What are your thoughts on this new generation of hardware? Comment below.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

How-To: Stop Procrastinating

There is plenty of information online about how to stop procrastinating (here, here, here, and here to name a few). The difficulty is they are encouraging the behavior that needs to be corrected. By reading all available information about putting off procrastinating, you are still procrastinating (unless you have been assigned the task of researching how not to).

If you really want to stop procrastinating it is one simple step: Start the task. With that said, go start the task you are avoiding. By starting the task, your procrastination is cured.

Do you put things off, or get them done instantly? Leave your comment below.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Apple's Naming Convention - The New iPhone

Since the release of the Millennial Mac, there have been many iterations of both hardware and software. Along the way we have seen Apple's products grow in leaps and bounds in the performance spec department while keeping the familiar names: iBook, MacBook, MacBook Pro, Mac Pro (okay, the latter hasn't seen much change). And since the release of OS X (the tenth Apple operating system) we have simply referred to it as the "big cat" names: Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard, Lion. All along the way, Apple has used a naming system that is both recognized and simple (unlike the Android phone names). There has however been an exception, specifically in the mobile device department.