67+ Years Pondering and Pontificating

What do you get after all these years have passed by, and you start looking back ? For me, lots of great memories, an amazing wife, a quad of great kids, a baker's dozen of grandkids, and several tons of experience. Of course, it also brings some entrenched opinions, thoughtful ideas, and perhaps some insight that will help others on their journey through life. Hopefully the posts on these pages will be useful and interesting.

Surface Pro 3 In The Real World

surface 3Several days ago, Microsoft announced the pending release of their Surface Pro 3.  I watched the presentation, and several hours later pre-ordered my new device even though I have yet to actually handle one.  That might seem impulsive, but for months I have been shopping for a replacement device that actually meets my specific needs, both business and personal.  I’ve looked at various operating systems, tablets, notebooks, processors, available software, and feature sets.  I knew exactly what I needed, and the Surface Pro 3 handled every item on my list.

Later I read the reviews and I was dismayed that the writers had not considered the actual use of this device when making their lists of pros and cons.  Instead they focused on the toy features they were seeking in a tablet, and the Surface Pro 3 apparently didn’t give them the gut wrenching wow factor they were seeking.  I read a lot about how the appearance wasn’t what they were seeking, or how it was a bit hard to keep stable on their knees while riding a subway change.  In fact, many comments related to how this machine didn’t pass the couch potato test … balancing on one’s cross legs while supine on a soft couch, playing with a remote, and guzzling a six pack of the corner brew. 

In my world, I want a device that is light to carry, runs full bodied software applications, has responsive touch and stylus input, and can be used in a notebook or tablet format.  When I travel, I want one device that can do both.  I love the idea of stylus input translating to text in a field ( much quicker than those spinning wheels ),  a full featured Microsoft Office Suite, the ability to write, and  fully test, software I develop for small businesses, and yet the flexibility to read a book,  watch a video, or browse through recent news.  Yes, it also allows me to handle my email and social media.

Most people do all of this by carrying a tablet and a notebook.  I have a nice iPad, and a 17” notebook, so that is a solution.  Of course, it’s a bit cumbersome, its two devices ( and power supplies ), and it’s a lot of weight.  How nice that I can set aside both and travel with one little device that weighs less than 2 pounds.

The reviewers went out of their way to find issues with the Surface Pro 3.  I guess that is to be expected when you send people who never worked on creating a product, and who are seeking glitz over performance.  That’s fine for those who are seeking toys and gimmicks.  However, they missed the opportunity to share a real world analysis for those who use their devices seriously to transact business, or perform personal tasks that abound in the real world. 

I’m not declaring the Surface Pro 3 the best solution for everyone.  I like Apple products, and have recommended them to people when I know they will be best serviced from that OS offering pair.  I like Microsoft products and have used that line for over 30 years ( DOS and Windows ).  The bottom line is people should define their needs and then find the solution that best fits their list, and disregard the arm chair designers who focus on fluff and thrills rather than real world technologies.

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Do you really want an app for that ?

App4That

I was recently involved in a discussion about the growth of apps in everything we encounter.  The originator’s premise was that every business should have a personal app.  I cautiously disagreed.  While it’s true that apps are the current marketing rage, I’m thinking the public reception will be lukewarm at best.

Do you remember when stores all started providing their loyalty cards ?  It might have seemed like a great idea, but pretty soon consumers would need to have a roll along suitcase for all the cards.  There would be a need for a filing system to quickly locate the card, and soon consumers would get annoyed.  People who produce these loyalty systems did a great sales job, but I rarely see people actually carrying the cards anymore.  Its not a protest against the system.  Its just cumbersome to have all those cards.

The same holds true for apps.  The real target here are smartphones.  They are always with us.  People love their phones, the connectivity, and the apps they use.   The downside is that apps consume essential battery and memory resources.  They also take up a lot of space on the desktop, and eventually become hard to find.  Its like searching through the suitcase to find the one item you need.  It will always be evasive.

Smartphone owners will have certain apps they love, and those will be on their device.  Over time, apps that are infrequently used will be removed to retain space for pictures, music, and important apps ( like photo editing and social media ).  Apps for every store that we frequent won’t be used that often and may soon be deleted. 

The smart strategy will be “combined apps”.  For example, I don’t want an app for each fast food place to find out where they are.  I want one mapping app that shows me all of the restaurants in my vicinity.  That’s a keeper.  Want to track my business for loyalty?  Fine.  Have one app that tracks my business wherever I go, and to which the community businesses all subscribe.  That’s also a keeper for me.

I agree that stores everywhere are now creating apps. Like many other “great ideas” sold on a vision, I think this one will peak and fade.  In there place will be more consolidated apps ( services ), and links to mobile enabled websites which provide far more information with a much lighter drain on the device’s resources ( battery, memory, and processor ).

What do you think ?  Feel free to air out your thoughts on this topic.  I’d really appreciate what you would, or wouldn’t, use.

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