January 2016

Up next: IBM Connect, the conference better known as Lotusphere

by Volker Weber

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As always, when I am traveling, I don't spend much time at a computer. Check out my accounts on Twitter and Instagram.

Paul Thurrott on Microsoft's Devices

by Volker Weber

Windows phone is a failure, no doubt about it. So much so that it casts serious doubt on the viability of a Surface phone. Looking ahead, I think that Microsoft keeps Windows 10 Mobile around to continue the Windows 10 cross platform dream, but that Windows 10 evolves generally so that hardware makers can add phone/text capabilities to devices as they see fit, but that the notion of a “Windows phone” sort of goes away. It’s just not a real business anymore. Sad but true.

Surface is in fine shape, but phone is dead in the water. Much like BlackBerry before, the market is collapsing. Both are really great phones, but the world is moving on without them.

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The real spirit of Australia :: As shown by a Qantas Safety Video

by Volker Weber

[Thanks, Hajo]

It's not about the phone anymore

by Volker Weber

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We were discussing preferences. A friend said his daughter did not really want his old iPhone 5 and preferred her Lumia. She likes the design better and she is used to it. Then another friend said that he would not buy another iPhone if he did not have everything else from Apple. He did not really know what he was suggesting, but most of his other equipment relies on him buying iPhones. Just recently he installed a bunch of Arlo cameras. They need an Android or iPhone. And he bought a few B&O connected speakers which need Airplay. He does not even know that a Lumia might be "chic", but would not work for him. Game over. He is now entangled in stuff that requires an iPhone.

I try to avoid this lock-in. All of my cloud services work across the board. I am not using services that are only available on Samsung, or Apple, or ... But the photo above shows the exception. I love the Apple Watch. And that keeps me on the iPhone. If I did not have an iPhone, or if I did not have an Apple Watch, I might be using the BlackBerry Priv as my daily driver. It has all the software support, it has this nice Samsung curved display, and a brilliant BlackBerry keyboard. It's not only the watch. Notice the case? That's Olloclip. With an opening for Olloclip lenses. Those are only available for the iPhone, not for the BlackBerry. There are so many things you take for granted when looking elsewhere.

If you don't have an iPhone, you don't have an iPhone.

Wolvesmouth :: I went to LA for this

by Volker Weber

Had a lot of fun with @kahobert at the #Sonos & Friends Open House Party in the Wolves Den last Friday. Thanks to @tmeyeratplay and @wolvesmouth for having us.

A photo posted by Volker Weber (@volkerweber) on

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New features for Microsoft Sway

by Volker Weber

It’s now been a few months since Sway became generally available. Last month we introduced new controls that allow Office 365 business and education admins to better manage and tailor the way Sway is used within their organization. This month we’re ushering in 2016 with new Sway capabilities we recently added to enhance your experience and increase the ways you can use Sway to create polished, interactive content.

Have you ever used Sway to create content? Do you use it for presentations? I am looking for better tools than the old presentation slide deck.

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Lenovo Tab 3 Pro no longer crashtastic

by Volker Weber

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The lastest firmware release from early January fixed all my outstanding complaints about the software running on the Yoga Tab 3 Pro. It's now pretty much perfect for me. Lenovo is providing monthly security updates, much like BlackBerry does for the PRIV. This has always been my major concern with Android and I am happy it is finally being addressed. They BT keyboard bug has been fixed and apps are no longer crashing on me. There are still a few hiccups but nothing I could not manage.

Still love the projector, the excellent battery life, and the form that makes it easy to hold it in my left hand while the right hand is recovering.

Wired: Outlook on Your Phone Is the Future of Email

by Volker Weber

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So it’s a shame there’s hardly anyone dedicated to making email awesome. Except for Microsoft. Its Outlook app for iOS and Android is the best mobile email app, no matter what phone you’re using. It’s better than Mail, better than Gmail. It’s the biggest email innovation since spam filtering.

It really is. I am using it on all my devices.

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Statt Personal Trainer

by Volker Weber

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Ich beobachte ja täglich, was die Apple Watch so an Bewegung notiert. Das ist nicht nur das Laufen draußen. Auch um's Haus herum kommt einiges zusammen. So ein Hund etwa hat zweimal im Jahr Fellwechsel. Einmal von Januar bis Juni und dann von Juli bis Dezember. Also führe ich täglich den Dyson spazieren. Dauert nur ein paar Minuten, zählt aber. Ein Nachbar bringt seine Kinder mit dem Fahrrad zum Kindergarten. Am Anfang im Chariot, nun fahren sie selbst. Was man noch so alles abbestellen kann: Putzhilfe, Brötchendienst, Schneeräumung, Gärtnerservice. Dann muss man auch nicht mehr mit dem Muttipanzer in die Muckibude zu fahren.

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MIKEY-SAKKE oder wenn man den Bock zum Gärtner macht

by Volker Weber

Die vom britischen Geheimdienst GCHQ entwickelter VoIP-Verschlüsselung erlaubt das Mithören aufgezeichneter Gespräche, auch im Nachhinein. Kein Wunder also, dass das GCHQ diesen Algorithmus als Standard für geheime Kommunikation haben will.

Das ist das Zeugs, was der Geheimdienst der eigenen (!) Regierung vorschreibt.

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Dropbox’s new Windows 10 app

by Volker Weber

Overall, the app tries to be a good citizen, taking advantage of platform features when and where it can. In cursory usage, it feels like a well-assembled application, and I like that it leverages platform features when and where it can. But I don't see myself using it with any regularity, because it's still a sandboxed UWP app, and that's its big problem.

Apple has the same problem with store apps on the Mac.

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Smells like enterprise

by Volker Weber

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I asked: "Do Amazon, Google and Microsoft also have these scheduled cloud outages?" Clemens Vasters from Microsoft simply answered: "No". And then elaborated:

Stuff that works :: Logi Circle and K380

by Volker Weber

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Jede Woche gibt es neue Spielzeuge. Das hört mit der Zeit auf interessant zu sein. Die Verbesserungen gegenüber den alten Spielzeugen sind oft nur marginal. Manchmal erschließt sich erst auf den zweiten Blick, ob das Zeugs auch etwas taugt. Ich teste und benutze solchen Technikkram deshalb gerne über eine längere Zeit. Nur so trennt sich die Spreu vom Weizen. Das beste Beispiel dafür ist wohl Sonos. Am Anfang war ich überhaupt nicht begeistert. Und wo ich jetzt stehe, ist ja bekannt.

Die Logi Circle gehört auch zu den Dingen, die sich über längere Zeit bewährt haben. Zur Erinnerung: das ist eine über WLAN verbundene Webcam, die den ganzen Tag aufzeichnet. Das interessante an dieser Kamera ist die Software. Sie erkennt zuverlässig, was langweilig ist. Wenn sich etwa nichts bewegt, oder wenn nur der Fernseher flimmert, oder sich am Vorhang im Wind bewegt. Diese Momente zeichnet sie nicht auf. Die Aufzeichnungen kann man jederzeit vom Smartphone aus betrachten, und man sieht dabei einen Zeitstrahl mit den aufgezeichneten Momenten. Beispiel: um 18:00 Uhr habe ich das Haus verlassen, um zu einer Veranstaltung zu gehen. Um 18:05 Uhr gab es eine Bewegung und die nächste erst um 21:30 Uhr. Schaue ich die um 18:05 Uhr an, dann sehe ich, dass der Hund einmal kontrolliert hat, ob ich wirklich weg bin. Um 21:30 Uhr hat er dann wieder geschaut, wo ich dann bleibe. Daraus kann ich schließen, dass der Hund mehr als 3 Stunden geschlafen hat. Auf Anforderung erzeugt die Software außerdem einen 30-Sekunden-Überblick über den ganzen Tag.

Das hat sich bewährt. Meistens beachte ich die Kamera gar nicht. Ich nutze sie nur, wenn ich weg bin und einmal nachschauen will, ob zu Hause alles in Ordnung ist.

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Das Logitech K380 hat mich ebenfalls nicht auf Anhieb überzeugt. Buntes Plastik, ziemlich schwer, nicht sehr ansprechend. Ich wusste erst gar nicht, was ich damit anfangen soll. Und jetzt die Überraschung: ich benutze die Tastatur andauernd. Aber nicht etwa auf Reisen, sondern zu Hause mit allen Geräten, die selbst keine Tastatur haben. Das ist das iPhone, das Lenovo Tablet, das iPad, der Fernseher, etc. Vier Monate habe ich das Gerät und ich habe es noch nie aufgeladen. Theoretisch sollte da ein Akku* drin sein aber ich vermute eher das ist eine Atombatterie. Was macht diese Tastatur so praktisch? Vor allem das schnelle Umschalten zwischen bis zu drei Geräten. Taucht ein viertes auf, kann man es blitzschnell koppeln. Sehr praktisch auch: die Tasten sind sowohl für PC als auch für Mac beschriftet.

So ist aus diesem langweiligen Stück Plastik eine dicke Empfehlung geworden. Ich glaube nicht, dass es etwas besseres für so kleines Geld gibt.

Editor-refuses-to-give-it-back award. Zweimal für Logi(tech).

*) Update: Ich habe schon vergessen, dass man die Tastatur gar nicht laden kann. Da sind zwei AAA-Batterien drin, die ich nie gesehen habe, weil sie schon eingelegt waren. Sollen wenigstens zwei Jahre halten.

Sonos :: Decisions, decisions, decisions

by Volker Weber

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Two things made my previous chart obsolete: the new PLAY:5 goes to eleven, and Trueplay Tuning makes all speakers so much better. I am leaving behind CONNECT and CONNECT:AMP now. I a way I find it wasteful to invest in those as an intermediate solution. You will eventually want the other speakers. They have multiple digital amps, one for each driver. So they don't need analog crossovers and can be programmed to any sound. See above, Trueplay Tuning.

The PLAY:3 is now the oldest speaker and I do not see enough benefit over the newer PLAY:1 to recommend it. This shows at the PLAY:1 and PLAY:3 pairs. The other big change is with the PLAY:5 and PLAY:5 pair. I recommend them over any other stereo pair, even when combined with a SUB. The speaker goes so deep that a SUB can only add a lot of punch at a volume you will seldom be playing at.

I also recommend PLAY:5 over PLAYBAR if you only listen to music. When it comes to TV, that's a whole different story. PLAYBAR adds so much to TV sound, that it's hard to imagine. You can build out the room that has a TV with PLAYBAR only, then add a SUB for the deep rumble. And maybe build out the full surround experience for movie night by repurpasing PLAY:1s from kitchen and bathroom. When you break out the back speakers they remember what they were before and you just put them back.

I continue to recommend the PLAY:1 speaker. Trueplay Tuning has leveled the differences and you can now place the speakers where you see fit. Once you heard the new PLAY:5 however, you have lost. You will want it.

You can now run Sonos in two configurations: Wifi mode just connects through your existing Wifi. In bridge mode you need one Ethernet wire between the router and any one Sonos speaker. Then Sonos creates its own wireless SonosNet that can be extended with BOOST.

Aus meiner Inbox

by Volker Weber

Letzte Woche habe ich in Sachen Sonos beraten. Aus 1xPLAY:5, 2xPLAY:3 und 2xPLAY:1 wurden 3xPLAY:5 und 4xPLAY:1. Heute Rückmeldung:

Guten Morgen Herr Weber,

am Wochenende Sonos gestartet und, was soll ich sagen? Einfach nur geil! Meine Bedenken im Bezug auf iTunes haben sich erledigt, dank Apple Music alles im grünen Bereich, Klang prima, Multiroom super, Look toll, auch meine Frau ist begeistert.

Besten Dank noch mal für Ihren Einsatz!

Das war ein seltener Fall. Nur wenige Leute steigen "voll" ein.

Progress

by Volker Weber

Almost 4 weeks in I received another x-ray today. And it is looking good. All the fragments stayed where they were, the healing has started. I'll take the cast off during the day but still need to wear it when walking or at night. Fingers are very swollen, the joints have become stiff. I can now start exercising again, but it is going to take several weeks if not months to make a full recovery. Warning: if you squeeze my hand at Lotusphere I may take my knee to your balls. We do not want to hurt each other, do we?

Different Voyagers

by Volker Weber

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I have three different Plantronics Voyager headsets. To the left is the Legend, to the right the Focus, and in the middle there is the Edge. All three of them are excellent noise canceling Bluetooth headsets. The Edge is the lightest and most comfortable one. The other two however seem to have a superior microphone boom. When I use them with Dragon for Mac those two headsets provide the most accurate speech recognition. The Voyager Edge does not quite seem to provide the same accuracy. That is kind of a bummer because I would really like to put this one in my pocket. The Legend isn't quite as comfortable because you're wearing the battery and most of the electronics behind your ear. Choosing between the Edge and the Focus is easier: you want the Focus for its ability to isolate yourself from ambient noise. The Edge will keep you connected to your surroundings.

Not all headsets are created equal. Choose wisely.

Ruf! Mich! Nicht! An!

by Volker Weber

Sims mir, mail mir, schreib per WhatsApp - denn ein Anruf stört immer. Telefonieren ist rückständig, sagt Stefan Schmitt.

Wenn das Telefon klingelt, dann ist meistens jemand dran, der etwas von mir will. Eine Agentur, die ihren E-Mails hinterher telefoniert, eine Versicherung, die mir etwas reindrücken will, ein Ratsuchender, der Google nicht bedienen kann, ein Leser, der mich für den Kummerkasten hält. Oder es ist etwas ganz dringendes, dringend für den Anrufer natürlich, nicht für mich.

Darum klingelt das Telefon einfach. Also es klingelt nicht, denn es ist stumm geschaltet. Wer mich zuverlässig erreichen will, der schreibt mir.

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Is IBM Verse your new way to work?

by Volker Weber

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It has been almost a year since IBM announced Verse in Orlando. It has been nine months since they started delivering it. Ed Brill was tasked with migrating all of IBM to the new platform, and though it might have looked like he was set up for failure, he delivered. By now most if not all IBMers should be on Verse. For now this is the only reference. No IBM customer has come forward as a Verse reference.

This is a shout out to all IBMers, especially if you are just a user: has Verse changed the way you work? And with that I mean beyond getting out of mail jail. Use email if you prefer not to comment.

Clichés

by Volker Weber

Do it in the morning

by Volker Weber

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If you don't have time for a walk at noon, maybe you can walk to work. Or maybe you can get up early and do some exercise. Can't get anything done before coffee? If you exercise in the morning, you won't need the coffee anymore.

It's dark? It's cold? It's wet? Broke a few bones? Yeah, right. Toughen up. :-)

Dragon likes the Voyager Focus

by Volker Weber

Plantronics headset

I knew the microphone is incredibly important. As it turns out the Plantronics Voyager Focus works better than the Plantronics Voyager Edge. It must have the superior microphone boom.

When I calibrate the microphones and listen to my own voice I don't hear much of a difference. But speech recognition is way better with the Focus.

Lenovo provides regular updates for its latest Android device

by Volker Weber

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I am quite impressed by Lenovo's efforts to provide at least monthly updates to Android on the Yoga Tab 3 Pro. Not only do they update to the latest security level, but at the same time they are also fixing bugs. The tablet now works with Bluetooth keyboards, the rotating cursor keys bug I logged has been fixed.

Now I have to see, how I can narrow down the cause for the random app crashes. I suspect it is an hardware issue. So I will probably need to replace the device itself.

Coffee, eggs, and bloody good speakers

by Volker Weber

Venues run by music obsessives are cranking up the quality instead of the volume, and bringing acoustic perfection to the public

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Dragon jetzt auch mit dem Plantronics Voyager Edge UC

by Volker Weber

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Ich habe Dragon jetzt mit drei verschiedenen Headsets genutzt. Zunächst mit dem Voyager Focus UC, dann mit dem Blackwire 725, und nun auch mit dem Voyager Edge UC. Alle drei sind von Plantronics; etwas anderes kommt mir nicht ins Haus. :-) Das Blackwire ist schnurgebunden und wird per USB angeschlossen. Die anderen beiden haben einen kleinen USB-Stecker, der die Bluetooth-Verbindung terminiert.

Dieser Adapter ist nur in der UC-Variante enthalten. Er ist entscheidend für die Verwendung mit Dragon. Diese Software unterstützt nur USB Headsets, und selbst an einem solchen Adapter sind eigentlich nur andere Headsets zertifiziert. Das UC steht für Unified Communications. Damit ist gemeint, dass man das Headset nicht nur mit einem Telefon, sondern auch mit Softphones auf dem PC oder Mac verwenden kann. Der kleine Adapter sieht PC-seitig wie ein Audiogerät aus. Auch wenn das Headset ausgeschaltet ist, bleibt es doch präsent. Damit kann man die Software permanent auf dieses Gerät einstellen. Bei Dragon taucht das Headset nicht auf, sondern lediglich dieser Adapter. Das kann man auch in Software nachbauen, beim Mac braucht man dazu eine Kernel Extension. Auch wenn ich gerne viele Sachen in Software mache, war mir der reguläre Anschluss über den USB Adapter lieber.

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Das Voyager Edge hat ein sehr formschönes Dock, in dem man das Headset verstauen kann. Es lädt auch den Akku bis zu zweimal nach. Bei der UC Variante kann man auch den Bluetooth Adapter in diesem Dock verstauen.

Keines der von mir verwendeten Headsets ist von Dragon zertifiziert. Und doch funktionieren sie, zumindestens bei mir, einwandfrei.

Inching towards a 1000 retweets

by Volker Weber

This tweet just woke up a few days ago with 200+ new retweets. :-)

BlackBerry is all about Android this year

by Volker Weber

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BlackBerry CEO John Chen said in an interview at CES in Las Vegas, that BlackBerry has no plans for new smartphones with BlackBerry 10 for this year. They are planning on releasing at least one more device with Android, possibly two.

I have talked about this before, and the interview strengthens my opinion, that BlackBerry 10 is now on life support. Blackberry will continue to sell devices with this operating system. The Classic seems to be very well received. They will also work on new versions of the software, to keep it fresh.

This is an interesting situation. The software works very well, the devices are more than adequate, so there really is no need to refresh either one. They're just doing their job. As long as you only need the software, that comes with the device, you are all set. Only if you want to add your own apps, you hit the app gap. Adding the Amazon store was a great idea, but it failed because Amazon failed to sell their own phone.

So now it is all Google. The PRIV is an excellent Android smartphone. I expect blackberry to Bring out a less ambitious device for may be half the price. And before the year is out, we will know if this plan is working or not. Blackberry's future is either on Android, or software-only.

CES 2016: The Toaster-Fridge Awakens—in 4K HDR!

by Volker Weber

If you were at CES, you could see water bottles with screens, alarm clocks with smell, robots with video projectors, underwear that's smart, and a tablet/refrigerator. That would have been all on one day. Yesterday.

Best report from CES I have seen so far.

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IBM veteran Steven Mills retires

by Volker Weber

International Business Machines Corp said on Monday Steven Mills, executive vice president, software and systems, decided to retire on Dec. 31, after a career spanning more than four decades.

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Registered for IBM Connect 2016

by Volker Weber

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Conference registration is confirmed. Now we are ironing out the travel details. If all goes well I shall be arriving Saturday night and return at the end of the conference.

I count this as my 20th Lotusphere in Orlando. How about you? Do you still call it Lotusphere?

How to reach all your exercise goals every single day

by Volker Weber

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I've told you before that my way to success is to set a realistic goal and reach it every single day. Apple Watch has two preset goals: 30 minutes of exercise and 12 hours of getting up once an hour. The third goal is adjustable and I have set it to 600 cal. This may be different for you, depending on your age, height and weight.

The standing goal is very easy to reach. You just have to pay attention to the watch alerts. It will tell you 10 minutes before the hour to get up. If you don't make any effort at all, your performance will look like something in the first picture. Your move progress (red) will be chasing your exercise (green) which will be chasing your stand up (blue) progress. When this happens, you are setting yourself up for failure. You will reach the blue target, but not the other two. If the red ring moves faster than the green one, then you are not exercising at all or your calorie setting is way too low.

If I see this pattern, I skip lunch and go for a walk instead. Exercise will go up very quickly, and move will follow. I don't really watch the exercise ring. That will close automatically. What I do watch is the move ring. This red ring has to lead the blue ring. So I do not stop walking until I passed the blue ring.

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All of these screenshots were taken at lunchtime. It took an hour and 15 minutes to get from the first to the last.

Using Dragon with two languages

by Volker Weber

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When I first installed Dragon, I did not know how to install two languages. I have the German version, so choosing German as the language was the obvious choice. Later I found out, that you can create a new profile, and then select another language. By switching the profile, you can now choose the language for dictation. With the language you're using, not only the dictation language changes, but also the commands for the software. You are basically learning two software packages.

When you're using two distinct setups, you also learn about the differences. With the German version my dictation is way more accurate. The reason is simple: I can speak German much clearer than I can speak English. When you set up English as the language, you have to choose between different regions where English is spoken, and you also have to select an accent. I chose American, because that is where I speak most of my English. Not being a native speaker of course means that I don't have a clear accent. While the dictation results are better in German, the commands are not. I blame the sloppy translation between the original English version of the software and the German one.

Dictating with Plantronics Voyager into Dragon for Mac

by Volker Weber

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This is my setup. Dragon for Mac works very well with the internal microphone. However, I have connected the Plantronics Voyager Focus via the Bluetooth dongle BT 600. This way I can listen to music while dictating. At first, this was a strange experience. But I found it to be very helpful if I can speak without listening too much to myself. Since the headset is noise canceling, I expect this to work even in noisy environments.

Dictation depends on excellent microphones. They record the raw material the software has to work with. This is why you need the Bluetooth dongle. Dragon only wants to work with USB headsets. Also, the BT 600 is always present. No matter whether the Voyager is on or off, Dragon maintains its configuration.

I have given away so many Voyager headsets, that I don't have a BT 300 anymore. If I still had one, I could also use the Voyager Edge without breaking the pairing between the Voyager focus and the BT 600.

And then the iPad wins

by Volker Weber

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I really like the Lenovo Yoga. My plan was to use it instead of the iPad. It has this nice projector, it's very easy to get movies in and out, the battery lasts forever, and it feels just right in your hand. Unfortunately, it has a few crippling bugs. I cannot use a Bluetooth keyboard – Lenovo knows of the problem, but has not prioritized the fix – and apps keep crashing on me. They just disappear, as if I had hit the back key, but when you switch back to them, they have lost their state. That's inexcusable, if you are in the process of creating something. You also do not want to fall out of a book or a movie without continuing from where you left.

This led me back to the iPad. What a relief - it just works. Very much like the iPhone it may be the expensive option. But if money is not the primary concern, it is also the most satisfying one.

Not my birthday

by Volker Weber

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Whether it's Facebook, Twitter or any other ad platform, I always choose the high value for age. Really old people don't buy anything, so you'd be foolish to target them. And for companies profiling white paper downloads, I am an Albanian janitor with zero employees.

It's an exercise in b/s detection.

Incompetent

by Volker Weber

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Message queueing 101: never restart from the top.

Dictate in Dragon for Mac in two languages

by Volker Weber

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When I set up Dragon for Mac, the German version, I selected the German speech model. The user interface was still in English, since this is my system language on the Mac, but all Dragon commands and the speech recognition were in German. I could not figure out how to add a second language. Then I set up the software on a different Mac and saw that you can select either German or English as the language. This time I selected English, and then I created a second profile and got the same question. For this profile select to German. Now I have two profiles and can switch between them.

That was actually easier than I thought it would be.

Two additional observations:

  1. The navigation commands seem to work much better in English.
  2. Yes, Dragon is way better than Siri.

Ceci n'est pas un blog

I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.

vowe

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