June 2016

IBM and Cisco Transform the Way People Work

by Volker Weber

As part of the transformation, the highly secure Cisco Spark and WebEx collaborative workspace platforms will be integrated with IBM’s leading cloud collaboration solutions, including Verse and Connections, and underpinned by IBM’s cognitive computing capabilities.

Transforming The Way People Work. Once again. I think I heard this before. A few thoughts:

  1. With WebEx and Spark coming to Connections and Verse, there is an obvious overlap with Sametime. Something will have to give. Eventually.
  2. There is another overlap between Spark and Project Toscana. Both do messaging. Don't know what that means.
  3. Notes and Sametime took the wrong detour with the Eclipse Framework. Which increasingly looks like a dead end.
  4. This partnership was announced by Inhi Cho Suh, who is famous for opening up IBM with partnerships and acquisitions. However, there is an obvious connection to Cisco with former GM Hernandez who's tenure at IBM lasted less than a year.

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Überraschungspaket

by Volker Weber

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Lakritz aus Amsterdam. Wunderbar! Vielen Dank, liebste Lorena.

Evernote wants your money

by Volker Weber

From the Evernote blog:

Beginning today, the prices for our Plus and Premium tiers will change for new subscriptions, and access from Evernote Basic accounts will be limited to two devices.

Evernote isn't doing so well. They need more revenue. So they want more money, and they are pushing harder. I was once an Evernote user, but I have since migrated to OneNote. I like it better.

Logitech K780 für alle Geräte

by Volker Weber

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Letztes Jahr habe ich von der IFA eine Tastatur mitgebracht. Ich wusste erst nichts damit anzufangen. Zu schwer, zu bunt, einfach nicht mein Geschmack. Aber dann habe ich sie lieb gewonnen. Und schließlich gehört sie zu den Dingen, die ich nicht mehr missen will.

Ab Juli gibt es das Modell K780 mit ähnlichem Konzept, aber nochmals stark verbessert. Zunächst zum Pudels Kern:

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Diese drei Tasten schalten die Bluetooth Verbindung. Zwei Sekunden halten und die Tastatur geht in den Pairing Modus. So verbindet man das erste Gerät. Dann schaltet man die Belegung um zwischen Android, iOS und PC/Mac. Will man das nächste Gerät verbinden, macht man das gleiche mit der zweiten Taste, ebenso mit der dritten. Nun hat man drei gespeicherte Konfigurationen, zwischen denen man schnell wechseln kann. Das Werbevideo zeigt das.

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Wie K380 wird auch K780 von zwei handelsüblichen Batterien gespeist, die ca zwei Jahre halten sollen. Was kann das K780 besser als das K380? Es hat einen Ziffernblock und eine Rinne, in der sich alles von iPhone bis iPad Pro 12.9 aufstellen lässt. Und es sieht dazu auch noch gut aus.

Ich habe bisher kein Testgerät und kann deshalb nicht sagen, ob die Tastatur beleuchtet ist. Nach der Beschriftung der Tasten rechne ich nicht damit. Und ich würde das eigentlich auch nicht von einer so energiesparenden Tastaur erwarten.

Microsoft Support for iOS and Android

by Volker Weber

Interesting data point:

Within Intune and ConfigMgr we are managing millions of mobile devices – 50% of the devices are iOS and 25% are Android.

The rest is probably Windows.

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When no means no

by Volker Weber

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Sorry for scaring you. This is just a picture, not a dialog. Let me translate:

Don't miss out. Offer for free sex ends July 29.

[Have sex now] [Choose time for sex] [Decline offer for free sex]

Microsoft just paid 10,000 Dollars to somebody who never wanted to have sex Windows 10. So they are changing the push for free sex Windows 10 upgrades ever so slightly.

Developers may have created the best Windows version ever, but then Microsoft turned it into a POS by not accepting no for an answer. It does not help your case to keep on asking or to just go ahead when somebody isn't paying attention because she is busy doing other things.

IBM mail support for Microsoft Outlook

by Volker Weber

Long announcement letter, TL;DR

Enables you to connect a Microsoft Outlook 2013 client to a Domino V9.0.1 Server

Two caveats, translated:

  1. "A small, lightweight client add-on for Outlook must be installed on user workstations." Domino does not behave like Exchange.
  2. "Users can log in with their existing credentials." Users need to use separate credentials from Windows.

Deploying Outlook against Domino is not a smart architectural decision. Microsoft does not break it on purpose, but they also do not test against it. At best it's a tactical move to buy some time when users with pitchforks demand their Outlook client.

Ultimate Blödsinn

by Volker Weber

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Ich habe heute das Auto waschen lassen und dabei steht man halt ein paar Minuten rum, in der das Hirn was anderes verarbeiten kann. Soso, 66 km pro Tank. Sternchen. Lesen wir mal das Kleingedruckte:

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Basiert auf einem Tank mit einer Reichweite von 850 km. Aha. Und wenn es bis zu 66 km sind, wieviel sind es dann im Minimum und im Durchschnitt?

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37 km im Durchschnitt. Und ja, vom Fahrzeug und Fahrstil abhängig. Bringt also wahrscheinlich gar nichts. Aber rechnen wir mal. Statt 850 km dann im Durchschnitt 887 km. Das sind 887/850 = 1,04 oder 4 Prozent mehr. Und wie ist der Aufpreis?

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125,9 ct statt 113,9 ct. Macht 125,9/113,9 = 1,11 oder 11 Prozent teurer. Selbst der Ausreißer mit bis zu 66 km mehr kommt nur auf 916/850 = 1,08 oder 8 Prozent. Ist also selbst dann ein schlechtes Geschäft, wenn man an diese wundersame Reichweitenerhöhung glaubt.

Diese Ultimate-Treibstoffe sind ein Produkt für Leute, die im fortgeschrittenen Alter höhere Sampling-Raten abonnieren.

Medienarbeit

by Volker Weber

Sehr geehrter Herr Volker Weber,

wenn sie bereits an unserer Onlinebefragung teilgenommen haben, möchten wir uns bei Ihnen sehr herzlich dafür bedanken.

Da die Umfrage gänzlich anonym durchgeführt wird, können wir leider nicht unterscheiden, wer bereits teilgenommen hat und wer nicht. Deshalb bitte ich Sie um Verständnis dafür, dass diese Mail auch jene Personen erreicht, die den Fragebogen schon ausgefüllt haben.

Diese Mail geht völlig in Ordnung. Niemandem sollte der Nucki rausfallen, weil er zwei Einladungen für eine Umfrage erhält. Die Tatsache, dass zwei Einladungen nötig sind, zeigt aber auch, dass das Instrument nicht so gut funktioniert. "Oh, eine Umfrage, die muss ich aber gleich ausfüllen," sagte wohl niemand.

Die Mail zeigt aber auch, wie schlecht die Medienarbeit ist. Eigentlich sollte man nämlich nicht ein Formular präsentieren, das dann aggregiert eine Tabelle füllt, mit der man dann die Scorecard füttert. Ich habe noch niemals eine solche Umfrage von jemandem bekommen, der gute Medienarbeit leistet. Der weiß nämlich schon, was klappt, und was nicht klappt. Weil er einen guten persönlichen Kontakt pflegt.

Es ist schon paradox. Eine bessere Betreuung bekommt man nur, indem man den Fragebogen nicht ausfüllt. Wer noch mehr Einladungen schickt, hat den Schuss nicht gehört.

Dyson DC62 und V6

by Volker Weber

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Die 'großen' Dyson Akkusauger haben eine elektrisch angetriebene Motordüsen, die ihrem Strom über zwei Kontakte im Rohr beziehen. Und dieser Anschluss hat sich vom Modell DC62 zum V6 geändert. Damit sind die Rohre und Düsen nicht mehr beliebig austauschbar. Links sieht man das Rohr des DC62 und die Carbonbürste, rechts das Rohr des V6 und die Fluffy-Düse.

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Ich will jetzt nicht alle Kombinationen von Rohren und Düsen aufzählen, die funktionieren und nicht funktionieren. Was bei mir geht:

  1. Die Fluffy-Düse passt an die Rohre von DC62 und V6.
  2. Die Carbon-Bürste passt nur an das Rohr des DC62.
  3. Das Rohr des V6 passt an DC62 und V6.
  4. Das Rohr des DC62 passt nur an den DC62.

Mit anderen Worten: das alte stromführende Zubehör passt nicht an den neueren Sauger, das neue Zubehör aber an den alten. Ein Schuft würde jetzt schließen, dass Dyson gerne neues Zubehör verkaufen will.

Wie man sieht, hat das neue Zubehör auch nur zwei Kontakte. Elektrisch sind alle untereinander verträglich, der Unterschied liegt nur im Plastik. Und mit ein bisschen Dremeln lässt sich das sicher auch anpassen. DC62 und V6 sind ansonsten augenscheinlich baugleich. Die Netzteile sind identisch, der Aufbau auch.

Die Vorgänger des DC62, also etwa der DC45 sind deutlich anders. Sie haben ein anderes Netzteil, einen anderen Akku und einen großen Vormotorfilter, der nicht in der Mitte des Zyklons sondern zwischen Staubbehälter und Motor eingebaut ist. Er hat soviel ich weiß inkompatibles Zubehör und lässt sich nicht mit Carbonbürste oder Fluffy nachrüsten. Das kann ich nicht verifizieren, weil ich dieses Modell nicht habe. Der ähnlich aufgebaute DC30 (Plömp) hat keine Anschlüsse für eine elektrische Motordüse.

Stuff that works :: Der Fluffy

by Volker Weber

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Cooler Kommentar von Henning:

Moin Volker, meine Lieblingsfrau schiebt gerade mit zufriedenem Lächeln im Gesicht Fluffy über Parkett und Fliese. Seit Fluffy im Haus ist, ist der grosse Flüsterbosch abgemeldet. Danke für das Influenzen! Der Vorgängerdyson (den hast du auch beeinflusst) ist noch super, aber Fluffy ist quantensprunghaft besser. Insbesondere wenn Anton die Haare abwirft. Zitat der Holden "Das Coolste ist, dass ich den jetzt immer vor dem Benutzen ausleere und nach dem Saugen direkt das beeindruckende Ergebnis sehe."

Bei mir ist das auch so. Der Fluffy fährt täglich mehrmals durch das Erdgeschoss. Frau Brandlinger hat nämlich zweimal Fellwechsel im Jahr. Den ersten von Januar bis Juni, den zweiten von Juli bis Dezember. Ohne den Fluffy wäre das die Pest.

Emoji predictions

by Volker Weber

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Apple is touting emoji predictions for iOS 10. Did you know that BlackBerry PRIV has Emoji predictions at the keyboard level? That means they work everywhereand both with the hardware as well as the soft keyboard.

Number26 :: Das war einfach

by Volker Weber

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Ich habe jetzt ein Konto bei Number26. Und damit bin ich spät dran. Ich wollte einfach mal sehen wie einfach das geht. Und es ist brutal einfach.

Schritt 1: Max hat mich geworben. Dafür bekommt er 10 Euro Prämie. Die Beute haben wir geteilt, wie man oben sieht. Bei mir geht das nicht, aber Ihr könnt Euch gerne von Max werben lassen.

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Schritt 2: Man nimmt die Werbung an und erfasst seine persönlichen Daten. Danach kann man sich per Videochat oder Postident identifizieren.

Schritt 3: Der Videochat funktioniert direkt aus der Android oder iPhone App. Der freundliche Mensch am anderen Ende macht ein Foto, lässt sich den Perso zeigen und fotografiert ebenfalls Vor- und Rückseite. Dann wird noch ein SMS Code ausgetauscht und der Vorgang ist abgeschlossen. Sehr schön fand ich, wie mit ganz kleinen Tricks eine persönliche Prüfung erreicht wird. Etwa, wenn der Prüfer das Geburtsdatum abfragt, wenn man es selbst nicht lesen kann. Wer da zappelt, der hat bestimmt einen Eintrag im Klassenbuch.

Schritt 4: Man verbindet das Konto mit dem Smartphone. Fertig. Voll funktionsfähig ist das Konto, sobald man seine Mastercard erhalten und aktiviert hat.

Warum Number26? Das ist die erste Lösung, bei der ich kein Geld und keine Maestro-Karte haben muss, um einzukaufen. Das Handy reicht. Wie geht das? Rewe ist ein sogenannter Cash-Partner. So wie man dort mit einer Maestro-Karte einkaufen kann und sich einen Bargeld-Betrag auszahlen lassen kann, so geht das auch mit der App. Man gibt einen Betrag ein, die App erzeugt einen QR-Code, der an der Kasse gescannt wird, fertig.

Sehr schön auch, dass man innerhalb von Number26 Geld überweisen kann, ohne mit IBAN zu hantieren. Einfach die Mailadresse des Empfängers angeben und zapp, ist das Geld überwiesen. Moneybeam nennt Number26 das.

Das Konto ist kostenlos, es gibt eine Mastercard und eine Maestro (optional), Auslandsentgelte entfallen, und Überweisungen in fremden Währungen sind günstiger als anderswo.

Habe ich noch von jemandem Geld zu kriegen? Geht jetzt ganz einfach: vowe@vowe.net :-)

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Surface 3 is being phased out

by Volker Weber

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Since launching Surface 3 over a year ago, we have seen strong demand and satisfaction amongst our customers. Inventory is now limited and by the end of December 2016, we will no longer manufacture Surface 3 devices.

Surface 3 has been my favorite over the Pro version, simply because it is more nimble and is fanless. I have no idea if Microsoft will make a similar Surface 4 model or if they are only going to advance the Pro line of tablets.

Ars Technica makes a good point: Intel does not offer any CPUs that would let Microsoft offer an entry level Surface better than Surface 3.

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A week with the Plantronics Voyager 5200 UC

by Volker Weber

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I have used the Voyager 5200 for a week now. And its noise cancelation is as brilliant as this promotional video suggests. My hardcore test was going as fast as I could on my bike and there was zero noise at the other end. You couldn't even hear one bit of wind at all. I could hear it in my earpiece, from the drag on the headset. But not at the other end of the line. You will have to watch the video I linked above. You can speak in a very low key voice, barely audible and completely incomprehensible to anyone around you, on the bus or in traffic, and you come across loud and clear. There is just a bit of metallic distortion. Listen carefully in the video. It's kind of magic.

You wear this thing in the office, in your car, but most likely not when walking around. But that's ok. Just leave it switched on, put it away in your pocket, and when you get a call, put it on. Its sensors recognize when it's on your ear and accept the call automatically. Here is a video how to handle the headset.

It is better than a Voyager Edge? Yes, it is. Is it better than a Focus or a Legend? Not by much, unless you use it outdoors.

Who needs a car, when you can have this?

by Volker Weber

How to deal with Twitter spam

by Volker Weber

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For 'Promoted Tweets' don't click on Dismiss. Click on ... and then Block. You will never see this spammer again.

IBM Connections Premier and IBM Connections Compliance

by Volker Weber

IBM Connections Premier combines engaging employee collaboration applications and compliance discovery solutions, including granular policy controls for content inspection, logging and archiving of social and instant messaging communications. With IBM Connections Premier integrated collaboration and compliance discovery solutions, your organization can protect your brand and reputation, meeting corporate, legal or governance requirements, and engage and enable your entire workforce.

Translation: we monitor what you say. Or: this product, with an IBM part number.

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Site News

by Volker Weber

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Wow, we did not have a site news in years. I don't mess around with the site itself very often. But a couple of things have happened:

  1. Last week we had a major downtime. You were unable to comment, I was unable to post. vowe.net has moved and is way faster now.
  2. Monthly archives are full text now.
  3. The site has a new responsive design that should work better on mobile phones.

Are you liking the changes?

Comment Feed

by Volker Weber

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I won't name names but a few regulars have just discovered, through the comments, that vowe.net has a comment feed. It has been hiding in plain sight for at least a dozen years.

So I thought it might be a good idea to tell you, right on the front page, that you can subscribe to two feeds: full posts and all comments.

Did I mention that we have a comment feed?

I wish this site had a comment feed.

[Snicker]

vowe.net braucht ein bisschen Hilfe

by Volker Weber

Thomas kommentierte:

Selten so einen aufgeräumten Quellcode mit so hohem Inhaltsanteil gesehen. Habt Ihr gut gemacht!

Ich würde mir einzig noch eine bessere Leserlichkeit auf dem Smartphone wünschen.

Das wünsche ich mir auch. Das Web Design ist seit 2002 im Wesentlichen unverändert und hat keine Mode mitgemacht. Irgendwann habe ich die Tabellenstruktur durch DIVs ersetzt und ziemlich mit IE gekämpft, aber seitdem läuft das alles unverändert.

Was mir fehlt, ist eine bessere Anpassung an mobile Geräte. Wenn jemand vom Fach ein besseres CSS schreiben kann, bin ich ganz Ohr. Die Anmutung soll bleiben, aber im Detail kann man das bestimmt viel besser machen.

[Update:] Kristof hat mir heute mittag eine kleine Vorlage geliefert, die ich im Laufe des Tages ausgebaut habe. Ich finde, das sieht jetzt schon viel besser aus.

UE Boom 2 and Megaboom get Siri and Google Now integration

by Volker Weber

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With UE's new Siri and Google Now Voice Integration, you'll always stay in the moment--with nothing between you and your music. It's now quicker, easier, and more convenient than ever to keep your party going.

First you need to update to the latest firmware. Then you just press the Bluetooth button (that is the tiny one) on top of your speaker once and you are connected to Siri (iOS) or Google Now (Android). On your iThing Siri supports Apple Music, on Android Google Play Music and Spotify, in addition to your local storage on your device of course.

It's the same kind of integration you get on your headset. The UE speakers are dumb and only play what your device is sending.

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Control Sonos from your Apple Watch or Pebble

by Volker Weber

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Max just alerted me about this tweet from Pebble product manager Henry Levak. What works for Pebble should also work for Apple Watch. And it does.

Just swipe up for the Music Glance and there it is: the same controls you have on your iThing lock screen. And that is actually all the Sonos integration I need from Apple Watch. Since it is not a 3rd party app, it loads immediately.

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Update your Sonos controller today

by Volker Weber

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iOS finally gets long overdue lock screen controls, iPhone 6S gets force touch support. And Napster/Rhapsody has higher bitrates and a redesigned UI. I am already on the next version and there is more great stuff coming.

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City, Light & Movement

by Volker Weber

Waref Abu Quba:

As a Syrian refugee and through this artistic film, I am trying to say 'Thank You' to the people of Darmstadt and Germany for their helpfulness and hospitality.

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[Thanks, Stephan]

Yesterday I broke the chain

by Volker Weber

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Ever since I completed the full year I was wondering what to change. I wanted to continue my daily exercise, but I wanted to take some pressure off. As your longest move streak gets longer and longer, it becomes more "valuable". If you break a 14 days move streak, that's not a big deal. But when you complete a year, holy cow, you get really proud of yourself. And you continue to pile on.

But what is the end game? Stay attached to that game and continue to win? Until you lose an even longer streak? Gamification is nice, but not when it turns into an obsession. The first time Apple slipped when it was supposed to acknowledge achievements, I was not happy. The second time that happened, I did not even mention it.

Even the longest streak will end. Why not do it right now? I was thinking about taking the watch off for a day. And then I decided to just let it slip. Put in a lazy day. But any lazy day still turned out more than 600 cals. Sunday was a lazy day since we had visitors. 870 cals.

Yesterday was the first day I dropped below 600, only if barely so. No perfect week this week, no full month. And no more longest move streak, at least not for another year. Does it stop here? Of course it doesn't. I already completed all of my exercise and a third of my move goal in the first hour since getting up and hit all goals in the afternoon:

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The program is still #dontbreakthechain. That is what works best for me. Onwards to 500 days in October! That is just four months away. Give or take a few days.

This looks like a major Arlo problem

by Volker Weber

Status: unconfirmed. Read to the end!

A few months back I purchased a Netgear Arlo home security camera set. I set up an online account, connected the cameras, tried them out for a few days and ultimately changed my mind. They were returned to the store and I never gave it another thought...until today. I got a random email alerting me that the camera had detected motion...but I don't have any cameras. So I logged into my online account and I can see the new owner, their house, and everything they're doing. Netgear obviously doesn't have a system in place to prevent cameras on multiple accounts.

You connect Arlo cameras to your network. That part is protected. You set up an account and your cameras show up on the service. Apparently they are not removed from an account they were connected to. Three implications, if this works as described:

  1. If somebody steals your camera, you get a free video feed from any new place your camera shows up.
  2. If you buy a unit that is not really brand new, somebody might already have registered it.
  3. If somebody were able to register your brand new camera, he gets a free video feed from you.

If it really works this way, Netgear needs to fix this ASAP. And it actually looks like an easy fix. When a camera gets registered, remove it from an account it was previously registered to. I would have expected this to be the standard behavior.

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[Update: 20-Jun-2016 11:35] Testing ...

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Step 1: A neighbor removed his camera from his setup. I added it to mine.

Result: I have a new camera, he no longer sees it.

Step 2: I did not remove my new camera. He added it back to his account.

Result: He has his camera back in his setup. I still have the camera in my overview, but it appears as offline. I cannot turn it on. I do not receive alerts. I have no access to his videos.

For now, this looks like a false alarm. I believe somebody returned his fully operational kit with hub and camera. The store resold it and the new customer plugged it in.

[Thanks, Marcus]

Plantronics Voyager 5200 :: They hit it out of the park. Again.

by Volker Weber

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The new Voyager 5200 promises protection from wind noise, and boy does it deliver. I tested this today on my bike. At 25 km/h you were unable to hear any wind noise at all at the other end of the phone connection. It sounded exactly like it would if I were inside an office. You could attend a conference call on your bike. How does it deliver that? It has a redesigned microphone boom with four protected microphones and software that detects and eliminates this particular noise. In addition to all the other noise cancellation the previous models provided.

This is my third installment of the Voyager series, not counting the Focus and the Edge. I started with the Voyager Pro, which was replaced with the Voyager Legend, and now the 5200 Series. The Edge is a very comfortable and small device, but I found out that the classic Voyager design renders better sound quality. Only by a small margin, but it is noticeable in dictation.

This Voyager over-ear design is a winning formula, that Plantronics can only improve in small steps. The Legend gave us a dock connector for quick charging inside a case or on a dock. But it lost its microUSB port so you always had to have either the case or a small connector. The new 5200 Series has both:

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That means you can buy the bare headset without case and still be able to charge everywhere. The case has grown considerably from the Legend. Like the older model it protects and recharges the headset and has a place to keep the BT600 USB dongle, which presents a sound device to your Mac or PC without pairing the headset to the Bluetooth stack in the operating system. You won't have to reconfigure your softphone when connecting the headset.

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The new feature for this case is a desktop dock. Take the headset out, close the lid, connect the case to microUSB so it recharges the case battery. And then place the headset between conference calls into this dock, like you see in the first photo.

Should you buy a Voyager? If you spend a lot of time in phone calls and conference calls, by all means, yes. The headset connects to both your pc and your smartphone at the same time. Software ties into your softphone and provides call control and presence information. It has sensors that know whether you are wearing the headset, which lets it switch from and to your smartphone without any interaction on the screen, just by putting it on your ear or taking it off. Should you buy a 5200 series if you already have a Pro, Legend, or Edge? Probably not, unless you have this specific wind noise problem. But connect your older headset to Plantronics software and see if you have an update waiting. Plantronics is one of those companies that improve their products in the field.


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You don't see these devices on the street. They just look too dorky. If you are serious about phone calls or conference calls, you should not care too much about the looks. You should not have to hold a phone to your ear.

Kommentar: VR ist nur ein großer Hype!

by Volker Weber

Virtual Reality könnte schneller in der Bedeutungslosigkeit verschwinden, als viele wahrhaben wollen. Denn VR ist vor allem ein großer Hype, kommentiert Martin Fischer.

Ich bin auch sehr skeptisch. Dinge, die man vor das Gesicht schnallen muss, haben zu viele Nachteile.

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Der bessere Regenradar

by Volker Weber

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Die meisten Bekannten mit iPhone nutzen RegenRadar, um zu schauen, ob es demnächst regnet. Ich habe seit einiger Zeit Warnwetter vom Deutschen Wetterdienst. Das sind die Leute, die das amtliche Wetter in Deutschland machen. :-) Gibt es auch für Android.

Und das Ding gibt auch schöne Warnungen raus, bevor es kracht.

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vowe.net has landed safely

by Volker Weber

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Photo: NASA

What happened?

vowe.net runs on 12 y/o software. I believe in simplicity. If it ain't broken, don't fix it. So I am flying a Soyuz spacecraft instead of a Shuttle. The site is incredibly light, it's basically just html that is assembled with a bit of PHP code. Things that look the same on all pages, are the same on all pages. The things that are not the same on all pages are created with Perl code and stored in a database so they can be recreated. When I post, or when you comment, I generate the least possible amount of new hmtl.

This site was running in shared hosting. With tens of thousands of other sites on the same hardware. The operating system got refreshed and my bespoke construction no longer worked. PHP did, Perl did not. Nobody's fault, just collateral damage.

Once I knew this would be complicated to fix I asked Stefan for help. I pushed all the code to my sandbox, where parts of the site were already hosted. Today, we ironed out the last bug we could find and with a bit of help from 1&1, we pointed DNS to the new site.

Huge thanks to Stefan who fixed everything in his spare time. He is one kick-ass developer/admin.

vowe.net is still a Soyuz, but we no longer launch from Baikonur.

Error 500 when commenting

by Volker Weber

This is a bit frustrating. Wednesday afternoon I noticed you could no longer comment on posts and I could not get into the CMS. Usually these things repair themselves since I am on a shared hosting platform that is closely monitored. Servers get restarted, things go back to normal.

Not this time. I contacted the hosting service Thursday morning and got a quick and friendly reaction. They were looking into it and came up with an explanation: I was migrated to the new platform and unfortunately they would no longer support 32bit but only 64bit scripts. What? 64bit scripts? Scripts aren't binary. Something did not compute.

I put together a quick Perl script that tries to open my database.

use DBI;
use CGI;
my $dbh = DBI->connect('DBI:mysql:database...) || die "Could not connect to database: $DBI::errstr";

It bombs right away. Wrote the same thing in PHP and that works like a charm. Then I checked the hosting services' own scripts, like those checking for free space, and they bombed as well. So I let the services team know and they promised to escalate. That was Thursday morning.

Thursday evening I got a quick status message. They found the error and would fix it. Now it's Friday afternoon, and they haven't gotten around to fix database access from cgi. I asked again and the new update is that it might take days. And since it is Friday, well, well, well.

Plan B is already underway. Rebuild the site on a different platform. My money is on Stefan to get this site up (in his spare time) before the others can fix their own mistake.

Privacy will become obsolete

by Volker Weber

We have become addicted to tools that will make us targets.

There’s a process to grieving the loss of your privacy. First you deny it. Then you get angry about it. Then you try to make a deal about it. Then you get sad. And then you just accept it, because this is your future.

You cannot hide. You need these tools. You’re about to trade the annoyance of paying for the tools you need for the annoyance of constant harassment from people who will know all about you.

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Fame or fortune

by Volker Weber

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We had this tempest in a teapot yesterday, where journalists complained they were being spammed by PR agencies, illegally so. And they were putting all the blame on these agencies, not accounting for the fact, that agencies (have to) do what their customers demand. And that basically means, get this information to the influencers.

If you think about it for a while, there is a parallel to an important question:

If you could choose only one in your life, what would it be: fame or fortune?

That choice is actually very simple, and most people do not get it. Fortune trumps fame, every single time. Fame is smoke and mirrors, fortune is gold. Fortune does not get measured in money alone. There is health, love, and joy. Fame is measured in number of followers, clout score, Alexa ranking, etc.

If you want to be left to your own devices, you have to avoid fame. You have to do everything to hide it. Avoid showing (off) any metrics of influence. In practical terms: opt out of any score you can. Try to keep the numbers low that make you a target of bots trying to find influencers. You can be an influencer, alright. But avoid letting the masses know.

And for crying out loud, get behind the camera, not in front of it.

Size matters

by Volker Weber

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iPhone 4, BlackBerry Bold, iPhone 5, Lumia 920, iPhone 6, S6 edge, Note 5, iPhone 6+, Lumia 1520

These are some of the iconic smartphones I have used over the last five years. And they have only gotten bigger. The 920 was once considered too big, the 1520 was in a league of its own. My daily driver today is the 6(S)+, which replaced the 1520. I like this size, many do not.

Now we are entering an even bigger space. Ladies and gentleman, meet the Lenovo Phab2 Pro, next to an iPhone 6 Plus and an iPhone 6S:

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And no, that photo was not taken at vowe's magic flying circus. I don't have a Phab2 Pro.

Auch IBM führt Apple Pay nicht in Deutschland ein

by Volker Weber

IBM schickt eine Pressemitteilung:

Ab Herbst können Händler, die ihren Webshop mit IBM WebSphere Commerce betreiben, ihren Kunden die Online-Bezahlung mit Apple Pay anbieten. Dadurch wird Online-Bezahlen noch einfacher und schneller. Dank Apple Pay müssen Kunden ihre persönlichen Daten oder Bezahlinformationen nicht mehr manuell eingeben. Stattdessen können sie ihren Kauf einfach und sicher mit einem Fingertipp abschließen. Apple Pay wird für alle Online-Händler verfügbar sein, die IBM WebSphere Commerce, weltweit derzeit 12.000 Online-Shops, oder IBM Commerce on Cloud nutzen.

Da IBM wohl kein Apple Pay in Deutschland einführt, habe ich mal nachgefasst und folgendes gelernt:

ApplePay ist in vielen Ländern dieser Erde bereits verfügbar. Falls ein Kunde aus Deutschland zum Beispiel in England studiert hat und deshalb über eine Karte einer geeigneten Bank aus Großbritannien verfügt, dann kann diese Karte mit Apple Pay verbunden werden und an deutschen Apple Pay-fähigen Kartenterminals und -lesern verwendet werden. Falls der Kunde eine Kreditkarte einer Bank in den USA, Großbritannien, Australien oder Kanada besitzt und diese Karte Apple Pay-fähig ist, kann er diese für Zahlungen mit diesem Service in Deutschland nutzen. Nicht alle Banken in diesen Ländern bieten Apple Pay-fähige Karten an. Apple Pay kooperiert mit VisaCard, MasterCard und American Express.

Wir werden also weiter darauf warten müssen, dass Giropay, Paydirekt und solche Krücken wie Sofortüberweisung scheitern und ihr Business an Paypal verlieren. Dann steht vielleicht mal ein Fintech auf und macht einen Deal mit Apple. Und der kriegt dann mein Konto.

How watchOS 3 will improve the Apple Watch

by Volker Weber

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As you know I am addicted to the Apple Watch. These are my use cases:

  1. Tell the time. Doh!
  2. Get notifications. They show up as a red dot at the top of the watch face. Swipe down from there to see them. Dismiss them one by one, or force touch to dismiss all of them.
  3. Track three exercise goals. I have one "glance" below the watch face for that. Swipe up and I can see my three circles. I could use a "complication" but find it too ugly. There is also a full Activity app. You get there by tapping on the glance or by pressing the crown and then selecting the app.
  4. Answering phone calls. When the iPhone rings, I can take the call from the watch. It's like a speaker phone and it works for better than you might think.

All is well? No. Lots of room for improvement. Glances are superficial. Light versions of apps that take too long to load. Then there is a button below the crown that I never use. It gives you a dial with your closest friends and you can call them from there. There are some gimmicks, where you can send a heart beat or a scribble to some other watch user, but I never used this in any capacity.

Here is what changes. Instead of selecting glances you will have "favorite" apps. Those will remain in memory and can refresh in the background. That means they are available immediately. You get a lauchpad/switcher by pressing the long button. Halleluja! Instead of glances you have running apps, immediately available by swiping left and right, invoked by a hardware button.

When you swipe up, you no longer get glances, but instead just a simple control panel. Like you do on the iPhone. In watchOS 2 there is also a control panel, but it's left of your glances. Swipe up, swipe right, right, right, until you get there. And then I lost my activity glance and have to swipe back, back, back. Much better in watchOS 3.

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There is a new watch face with activity rings, but that is too busy for me. I will probably keep my simple watch face. Good news however: I can have both. Swipe left and right to swap watch faces.

Listen to your enemy

by Volker Weber

Ein professioneller Austausch

by Volker Weber

Ganz große Welle bei den Kollegen. Mein Austausch mit Cision war sehr professionell und zivilisiert. Und ich bekomme keinen PR-Spam, jedenfalls nicht von Profis. Mein PR-Spam kommt von Amateuren rund um Kickstarter & Co.

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Einfacher geht es kaum. Ein Email an Jana, und schon ist Ruhe im Karton. Ich bin sicher, das macht sie auch heute noch gerne. Aber vielleicht ist es nicht so einfach, ganz uneitel zu sein und zu sagen, ich gehöre nicht zu den Journalisten, Bloggern und Medien. Vor allem, wenn man stets bemüht ist, als wichtiger Influencer bekannt zu werden.

Erfolgreiche PR-Leute arbeiten übrigens nicht mit Spam. Die pflegen einen persönlichen Kontakt. Ich habe vor zwei Jahren einen Profi gefragt, ob ich der Aufnahme in die Cision-Datenbank zustimmen soll und nach seinem Rat um Löschung gebeten.

You need to wrap your head around this

by Volker Weber

I was reflecting about the things that Apple has shown yesterday, and there was a common theme. Apple did not announce any new products you need to buy. Everything they have shown will improve the products you already bought. They will get better, they gain new capabilities, they work better together. And they enable developers to build better solutions.

Apple is making you a happier customer. And that my dear friend is how you sell more products.

Don't be an idiot

by Volker Weber

A developer preview is made available so that developers can build apps for new APIs and to check their existing apps against the new operating system. Developers have separate devices to run a developer preview.

Then there will be a public beta program. This will facilitate broader testing. Only install a public beta if you are able and willing to report bugs. People who understand what they are doing will not be running a beta on their only device.

A beta program is followed by the official release of the software. Dumb people (like me) install the new release right away. Smart people wait a few days for the emergency fix.

Don't be the idiot who installs a developer preview on his daily burner. And if you are this idiot, keep your mouth shut and don't complain about crashing apps and burning batteries.

A few thoughts on the Apple WWDC keynote

by Volker Weber

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Great keynote covering all four software platforms Apple has. Watch the 10 minutes summary. A few thoughts:

Biggest takeaway was how well Apple integrates between its devices, again. Shared clipboard between iPhone and Mac for instance. Unlocking your Mac with your watch. Great, great stuff. Did you notice the multi language keyboard, that BlackBerry already has had for years?

One missing link: Xcode on iOS. Swift Playground leads the way.

And as excited as Apple got about iMessage, they might fall in the same trap as BBM did. Messaging has to be cross platform. And with that I mean Windows and Android.

When will people learn not to predict hardware for the developer conference? Apple showed new software, now developers have a go, then Apple will deliver in the fall. With new hardware. Easy, isn't it? And those predicting or demanding a revolution? You still have not figured out chess, have you?

Microsoft to acquire LinkedIn

by Volker Weber

Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) and LinkedIn Corporation (NYSE: LNKD) on Monday announced they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Microsoft will acquire LinkedIn for $196 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at $26.2 billion, inclusive of LinkedIn’s net cash.

Free Windows 10 upgrades for everyone.

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Every TED Talk Ever

by Volker Weber

Lenovo Techworld

by Volker Weber

A while ago I advised to offset purchase decisions for Android devices until today. The reason was that I wanted you to see what Lenovo has in store. I knew they were working with Google and my secret hope was that they might show a new Nexus, right after the Google I/O conference.

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They didn't do that. Instead they have shown two new devices, the PHAB2 Pro and the Moto Z. PHAB2 means there is/was a PHAB which was never sold here. PHAB2 comes in three flavors, for 199, 299 and 499. The most expensive one is remarkable in that it the first consumer handset with support for Google Tango. That's what they were working on.

Tango is a solution to a problem we don't yet have. A Tango device knows where it is in relation to other objects around it. Just as you know so that you don't bump into walls, countertops or tables. Knowing and learning what is around you opens up new applications in AR (augmented reality). Lenovo has shown some impressive demos that did not resonate with me. For now it seems like a gimmick to impress your friends.

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The Moto Z is less ambitions. It's just an incredibly thin device that lets you snap modules to its back. The MotoMods that were shown yesterday were nothing to write home about. A speaker system, a 480p beamer and an extended battery. Lenovo wants to establish a design for years to come, so that mods work with next gen phones as well. The interesting device, the one that you want, is the Moto Z Force with its shatterproof screen and bigger battery. Unfortunately it seems to be a Verizon exclusive for the time being. That makes it a locked and crapware-infested device that you don't want.

If you watched the keynote, you probably missed the most interesting piece (14 minutes into the video): a notebook without physical keyboard. You will read about it here in the future.

Stealth Arlo

by Volker Weber

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I am a huge fan of the Arlo HD security camera. It's completely wireless, runs on battery and is waterproof. One set of batteries has already lasted half a year and I just upgraded to another camera. They all work together, you can schedule them to arm and disarm at certain times, and Arlo also supports IFTTT and geofencing.

While most other cameras have to be mounted where there is power, Arlo just goes anywhere. You can hide it in a tree and point it towards the house. You just have to make sure it does not stick out. Netgear sells kits of three silicone covers that let the camera blend into the surrounding area. I think I just need a black.

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Yesterday I lost my iPhone

by Volker Weber

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I often don't know where exactly my iPhone is. When that happens I go to this glance on the Apple Watch and tap the sonar button. The iPhone will make a loud sonar sound, even if the volume is turned down or the phone is on mute.

Yesterday however, something was wrong. The watch face showed a red disconnect icon. The iPhone was not in my vicinity. And it could not have shut down because of low battery. It was gone.

I did not go into panic mode, because I was prepared. Just three weeks ago, a friend lost his iPhone and he made all the mistakes you could make. Call the carrier, lock the SIM card, change the password to his mail address and so on. He had cut all cords before asking for help. It was like a patient who did not only have a heart attack, but was shot and quartered before calling the ambulance.

Since I had told him what to do next time, I had completed my fire drill:

Chances are that not all of those options work. iCloud may ask you two of your three security questions and you may not know the exakt answers to them, just as an example. If you know your safetey net works, you can do what I did.

I had an idea where the phone could be. I looked it up in the Find iPhone app on the iPad, and it was still there. I set the iPhone into Lost Mode. This lets you put instructions on the home screen and insert a number the finder can call. The phone remains locked and will display the number. And calling the number is the only thing the finder can do.

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Since the phone had not moved in about half an hour, I set a number to call and left to fetch it. Halfway there, a young man called and I asked him to wait for me. Three minutes later I met him right where I had left the phone, and I got it back.

Two lessons: (a) be prepared and (b) people do the right thing if you ask nicely.

Lenovo needs to fix this

by Volker Weber

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Tomorrow Lenovo is going to announce new products in San Francisco. You can watch it live on Youtube. And if past Lenovo announcements are any indication, there will be lots and lots of products. Lenovo is a big company and it has swallowed other big businesses, like Motorola.

What I would really welcome is a change in direction. Lenovo pumps out new products and then quickly forgets about them. That's ok for cheap Android media tablets. I mean it's not ok, but that is just the state of the business. But for premium products you have to take responsibility. No crapware, timely software updates are mandatory.

Take the YT3-X90F as an example, also known as Yoga Tab 3 Pro. It still runs on Lollipop, no Marshmallow plans announced, let alone Android N. The security patch level is three months old. Lenovo skipped April and May, and they have yet to deliver June.

You cannot aspire to compete with Apple without proper maintenance.

Never check your bag

by Volker Weber

I cannot remember the last time I checked a bag. I always travel light, I avoid suitcases, and I prefer messenger bags. For those of you who like backpacks, this might be the ultimate travel bag.

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Pebble updates the Time watches

by Volker Weber

Version 3.13 of Pebble’s firmware and mobile apps includes a clearer, more accurate Pebble Health experience; an official Weather app; a new emoji; and a fix to keep the iPhone app’s file size down.

The original Pebble watches will remain on 3.12.1, at least for the time being.

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The One Key Reason Why Mobile Device Management (MDM) Is Incomplete

by Volker Weber

By putting the barrier around the entire device and not simply around sensitive data, you actually expose your data to greater risk. Hands up for anyone who’s ever let someone else use their device.

I have seen enough mobile deployments to agree with this sentiment. IT breaks devices by locking down services, demanding convoluted passwords, and creating a miserable experience. Security theater.

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Microsoft Planner comes out of beta

by Volker Weber

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Today marks the general availability of Microsoft Planner. Over the next several weeks, Planner will roll out to all eligible Office 365 customers worldwide. This includes Office 365 Enterprise E1–E5, Business Essentials, Premium and Education subscription plans.

I did not know about Office Planner until I read Michael's book. And I found out that my Microsoft contacts also did not know about it. If you ever tried Trello, you already know the concept. It's a light weight project and task manager. It builds on Office Groups and is therefore only available to customers who can use Groups and the Office Graph.

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BlackBerry Priv is faring worse than expected

by Volker Weber

AT&T offered a more detailed account of why the Priv has disappointed. BlackBerry and the carrier expected to see demand for an Android phone with a physical keyboard. Instead, most of the buyers were BlackBerry loyalists, the executive said. Those faithful, however, struggled with the transition from the BlackBerry operating system to the Android operating system, leading to a higher-than-expected rate of return.

That makes sense. The Priv is very, very expensive and not on the menu for typical Android customers.

BlackBerry is in a very difficult place here. They will be making one or two more affordable devices, but they cannot be as good as the Priv. If this were possible, they would just sell the Priv at a lower price. They can use a cheaper screen, they can remove the slider, making it either a smaller screen with keyboard or a larger without. All of this makes for a cheaper phone, but who will want it?

The unique value proposition is that BlackBerry wants to build a secure Android phone. But are Android customers even interested in a more secure device if it is less shiny than competing products?

BlackBerry cannot compete with Korea on price, and even less so with China. BlackBerry needs to convince people that security is important. They are trying their best.

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Looking forward to the Internet of Things, are you?

by Volker Weber

Watch the video above and then the video below, shot by a Nest employee.

Plantronics Voyager 5200 Series

by Volker Weber

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Plantronics upgrades its Voyager headset with better noise cancellation. The new 5200 series adds a fourth microphone, a new algorithm to discover and eliminate wind noise, and modifies the microphone boom to protect the microphones from wind. When I had to rely on a headset to work with dictation software, it turned out that the Voyager Legend was superior to the more convenient Voyager Edge. Sound is all important and the 5200 wants to improve outdoor use.

Voyager 5200 is available now, the 5200 UC variant becomes available soon and I am waiting for this model. The new 5200 UC replaces the BT300 dongle that came with previous UC models with the new BT600, that also completes the Voyager Focus UC headset that I love so much. It also includes this charging case, which is slightly larger than the Legend case:

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The case recharges the headset when you put it away and it also holds the BT600 dongle when you remove it from your computer. While you can pair a Voyager headset directly with your PC, using the Plantronics dongle comes with a number of benefits, the most important one being that you don't have to reconfigure your software when the headset is off or not paired. BT600 is recognized as a sound device, not a Bluetooth device.

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The new charging case also doubles as a desktop stand. You can just place the headset directly on the case, as it has a second charge connector that is accessible from the top.

The headset has a few minor modifications. Volume buttons moved to the top where the Voyager Pro had its volume control. Two distinct buttons are always easy to find with your finger tips. The Legend has a slider at the back which also worked well for me.

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And more importantly, the 5200 series adds a MicroUSB port which was missing from the Legend. Even without the charging case you no longer need a little accessory to fit between the cable and the charging port. It now has both options: the quick magnetic connector for the case/stand and a MicroUSB port.

How is iPad Pro working for you

by Volker Weber

I did not have a single issue with the iPad Pro 9.7. It upgraded to 9.3.2 without any of the issues that forced Apple to take down the upgrade, it never crashed on me, not even once. How is it working for you?

Adonit Pixel, Apple Pencil and Surface Pen

by Volker Weber

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Adonit has a new digital pen, the Pixel, and offered to send me one for a review. I will get to it in more detail, but wanted to reflect a little bit more on the whole concept. These two photos show five pens I will be mentioning. I put them down end to end, to give you an idea of the different lengths and more importantly the tips.

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If you never had one of these, you may think there are interchangeable. But they are not. Not at all. But they share one feature: they are all active pens. They talk to the tablet or phone they are connected to. What does that mean? The pens have a pressure sensitive tip. They can tell the software side of things when the user presses down on the pen and also the force being used. On a multitouch screen the software can figure out when you are using your finger (no signal from the pen) or which one of the touch points is the pen. This helps with palm rejection, so that you can rest your hand on the screen while writing. You always have to tell the software how you are holding the pen so that it knows which touch point the pen is.

iPad Pro and Surface are different from other iPads because they both have a digitizer. They do not only provide 10 point multitouch, but also a very precise location of the pen. They see the pen before it even touches the screen.

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I just told you to get the Apple Pencil if you have an iPad Pro 9.7 knowing quite well that Pixel also works with the Pro. The devil is in the details here. This leads us to the user experience and how small things matter. With the Apple Pencil you get an experience very close to a fountain pen on paper. The ink seems to flow out of the tip of the Pencil. There is no noticeable lag, especially in 53 Paper. It also glides like a fountain paper on paper.

This is where the Pixel has improved so much over the Jot. It has a new, much narrower tip (left pen above). While the Jot felt like writing on glass, the new Pixel pen feels more like on paper. It does not have the precision of the Apple Pencil, but it works on a wide variety of iOS devices, starting with the iPhone 5, the iPad mini, iPad 4, Air, Air 2 and Pro. It is the best pen that touched my iPhone 6S Plus. Only on the iPad Pro 9.7 it loses out against the Apple Pen.

While both the Surface Pen and the Apple Pencil work with digitizer hardware on the tablet, all the other pens have to do lots of fancy trickery to get precision out of a screen that was built to recognize a finger tip. And the experience differs depending on how powerful the tablet is. What is quite acceptable on the iPhone 6S, does not meet my expectations on an iPad mini, or even an iPad Air. It may be OK for drawing, but certainly not for writing.

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All of these pens are active, that means they need power. The 53 Pencil has a USB connector, the Apple Pencil plugs into the iPad to recharge. My Surface Pen runs on battery, and the Adonit pens have a little USB charger that attaches with a strong magnet to the end of the pen. The new charger (again left) feels a lot less substantial than the old one, but they do work well. It can hold the pen in any direction without it falling off. Be prepared to misplace this little adapter and then search for it.

I noticed a big difference between the Jot and the Pixel. Like the Apple Pencil, the Pixel is recognized as an input device even outside its compatible apps. You can navigate iOS, select options, start apps, just like with your finger, only more precisely. The Jot was just dead outside of the compatible apps. Maybe I am doing something wrong with the Jot, maybe it really is a new feature.

Also note that Adonit does not list the iPad Pro 9.7 as a compatible device. This is not an oversight. Adonit told me:

However, if you plan to test on iPad Pro 9.7, we are afraid to tell you that the screen technology on iPad Pro 9.7" unfortunately does not acknowledge the touch events. As a result, we don't feel Pixel performance was good enough with our standards.

Simple flow chart: for a Surface get Surface Pen, for iPad Pro 9.7 get the Apple Pencil, for any other iOS device consider the Adonit Pixel. It's not nearly as good as the other two, but I think it is your best option if you have neither the Surface nor the iPad Pro 9.7.

I reserve judgment on the Adonit Pixel with Surface Pro 12.9 until I was able to test it myself. I expect it to perform much better there. If it does, it would get my vote over the Apple Pencil since it also works with other iOS devices.

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Another Notes client? You've got to be kidding me.

by Volker Weber

Let me go out on a limb here. I don't think there will be a Notes 10 client. IBM will keep the Notes 9 client alive as long as there are customers who want to pay maintenance for it, but the world has moved on. Nobody wants to do another fat client rollout.

Instead IBM will deliver on its cloud platform in a continuous delivery model and it will create maintenance packs for the existing on premises client and server product.

Verse is a different story. IBM will finally deliver what was promised for 2015: Verse on Domino, on premises. That means retooling Verse in a big way, but that effort is underway, finally.

If you are seriously expecting another big Notes release, you will need to recalibrate.

Push comes to shove at Microsoft

by Volker Weber

Microsoft’s Windows 10 nagware campaign has entered a new phase, with all options to evade or escape an upgrade finally blocked.

The astonishing thing is not that Microsoft shoots itself in the foot with the Windows 10 Upgrade push. It's how quickly they reload.

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I am with Paul Thurrott on this one.

Why on earth, indeed. Coupled with the growth of clean personal computing platforms like Chromebooks and Macs, and the fact that Microsoft can’t convince its own PC maker partners to not ruin the Windows experience with crapware, one has to wonder: Is this all part of some plan to destroy Windows from within? I mean, seriously. You couldn’t write a dumber story about how to ruin something that is otherwise as wonderful as Windows 10.

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Ceci n'est pas un blog

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

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