October 2016

Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 :: First Impressions

by Volker Weber

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I love the BlackBeat Pro cans and have recommended them for years. Their only downside is that they are comically large. Now Plantronics has addressed this issue and made the new headset oval shaped instead of round.

I want to write this from a comparison perspective. But before we dive into that, first an introduction to both headsets for those who don't know them. The BackBeat Pro is an over-the-ear headset that provides great isolation when traveling. You can take a phone call, but the headset isn't designed for that. The microphones cannot provide an experience even close to what a Voyager Focus provides. But when you are sitting on a train or in an airport, you will not miss a call. Both headset provide the isolation through their over-the-ear design and an additional active noise cancellation that can be switched off when you are in quiet environments. Both headset connect via Bluetooth or via a 3.5mm cable, for instance to connect to the inflight entertainment when traveling. And both have ridiculous battery life. Plantronics says 24 hours between charges, but I have never been able to run them down, and get a good estimate of the time. I rate them at one week.

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Let's get to the differences. The new model has all audio controls on the left can. The right can has the 3.5mm connector, the microUSB plug for updates and charging, the on/off switch which puts the headset in pairing, when you hold the switch beyond the on position and a mute button. The volume wheel went from the right to the left cup. It no longer turns all the way around, but now rocks back and forth. Volume is coordinated with your phone. You can adjust it either on the headset or the phone. Track control is now inside the volume ring.

Both BackBeat Pro have an open-mic feature that will route your microphones to your speakers. That is useful when the flight attendant asks you something or you want to hear an announcement in the train station. This has become easier to operate. The noise cancellation switch now has three positions: on, off, open-mic. So you go from hearing nothing to hearing everything in two steps. This is an outright creepy feature. You can appear to hear nothing while being able to clearly hear what the person next to you says.

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The cups are clearly marked so you know which one belongs where. That was very subtle on the original and has continued on with the Focus and the Sense headsets. This time it screams. No complaints from me. You want to see what you are doing even in a dark aircraft cabin. The headset also has sensors that know if you are wearing them. Take them off and the audio book or podcast stops. Put them back on, and they continue to play.

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The headset comes with a soft carrying bag, that has improved by having an extra compartment for the two cables and other accessories you might want to carry, like a two prong adapter for odd airline seats. Plantronics also sells a more expensive version in "silver" with a hard case, but I find this bag way more practical. Notice the small loop at the left. I put this over the coat hook on the seat in front of me and organize all the little things I need during a flight in this bag.

So this is again a pretty big recommendation. There is just one thing. I don't like the materials. The old headset was an honest black plastic. The new one has fake wood veneer insets and all sorts of other plastic materials that pretend to be something else. The "silver one" might be worse in that it mimics metal. Plantronics might want to improve on that in future updates.

Plantronics may not have the best industrial design but they know audio. This is again a headset that sounds just great. Music is very transparent and the headset can provide a thumbing bass without being overly bass heavy. Put on The xx 'Fantasy' or James Blake 'Limit to your love' and you will hear it right away.

What does this headset compete with? Clearly the more expensive Bose QC35. The Bose headset has one big advantage: it folds much smaller and needs less space in your bag. Bose has also mastered noise cancellation. They are best bought with air miles.

One mugshot behind the fold.

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Thoughts on desktop Macs

by Volker Weber

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Announcing the Mac event as 'Hello Again' may have set the expectations too high. Everybody reads their own wish list into an iconic event like Hello where the original Mac was introduced, and Hello (Again) which was the debut of the Bondi Blue iMac.

I can see how Apple has viewed the introduction of the Touch Bar as a defining new moment. But most people expected nothing more than a complete refresh of the Mac line-up. Given the fact that Apple has been unable to keep their announcements secret lately, that expectation was probably misguided.

Here is my view on the state of the desktop Mac:

That means the iMac is the desktop Mac. It is a sustainable, profitable business. Go back to the photo above. You can sometimes see the future even without announcements. Watch, iPhone, iPad, Macbook, iMac. And that was not this week. This Macbook has ports.

Speaking of ports, do you know what else is a profitable business? Adapters and cables.

Will Apple ever make a touch MacBook?

by Volker Weber

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This question comes up time and again. Will Apple ever make a touch MacBook? I believe they will not. Let me explain:

We started this journey with 80 character wide text screens. To navigate this screen we used a cursor, a reverse blinking box. We moved the box around with four cursor keys and you could insert text or overwrite text.

With the Graphical User Interface (GUI) we added a mouse pointer. That was an extra layer on top, which also let you move the cursor, now a caret, to a certain place in your text. You were able to select text, sometimes even multiple blocks of texts. But when you started typing, it did not matter where the mouse pointer was. Text was inserted where the caret was. In order to not confuse the user, we switched off the mouse pointer while he was typing.

Fast forward. When Microsoft introduced touch into Windows (a long time ago), your finger would move the mouse pointer. Touch became another input device, competing with mice and trackpads. This was mildly confusing because the mouse pointer always trailed your finger.

Then came the iPhone and that did not have a mouse pointer. This layer was completely replaced. I still get this question: why doesn't this iPad keyboard have a trackpad? Simple. There is no concept of a mouse pointer in iOS. iOS was built from the ground up for touch. Apple has two UIs: one is optimized for touch, the other for pointers.

Microsoft went a different route. They have one OS and basically one UI for Windows 10. Windows 8 was leaning more towards touch, Windows 10 is leaning more towards pointers. You can switch between a tablet mode and a desktop mode. In tablet mode, touch targets become larger, but you always have these three layers: text, pointer, touch.

When Apple introduced the Touch Bar, it quickly became apparent that this was not a step towards touch macOS. This is another input device. You have a keyboard, a (huge) trackpad, and a new subsystem, the Touch Bar. Subsequently it became apparent that technically it works almost like an Apple Watch. It's a little computer in itself and it's quite possible that in the future, you can keep it alive while the Mac is asleep.

I strongly believe that Apple will not make a three layer device that combines touch, pointer and text. It's either touch or pointer. And I think that both work better than the hybrid Microsoft created.

Keep going

by Volker Weber

It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.
— Confucius

If there is a message to my younger self, it would be this. Sometimes I did not embark on a journey, because it looked too far. Sometimes I gave up, because I lost trust in myself. Sometimes I was too afraid to go.

Get up and go. Take your time. And then do not stop. Never stop. If you fall, rise. And go. After a while, you get closer. Keep going until you are there. And then set a new goal. Just keep going.

Even if it looks impossible, or too far away, or too scary, get up and go. Never stop.

Some thoughts on the Apple Keynote

by Volker Weber

Well, this was confusing. I need to put some order into all this "best ever". The Apple TV announcement is US only, from December. I will skip right over it.

Let me honest with you. There isn't a single one that I want to replace my late 2013 MacBook Pro Retina 13". And that is only for the ports situation. I don't complain about dropping a 3.5 mm headphone jack, which btw is still included. But take away all of the stuff I use daily, and things become ridiculous.

Meh.

One day we might live in a world where everything ends in a USB Type C plug. Where I can walk up to a presentation and be confident, that's the cable I find. Where all chargers have this plug, and where iPhones use it instead of Lightning. Today is not that day.

Cybook Ocean with Solar Leaf Cover :: First Impressions

by Volker Weber

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We have always used Kindle book readers, ever since the second edition, which my late friend Thomas brought back from the US, when they weren't even sold here. They have very clear advantages over other tablets: you can read their e-paper display in direct sunlight and they consume very little energy. And then, sometimes, this happens:

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If you rarely need to charge something, sometimes you forget to do it. This is where the Solar Leaf Cover comes in. It hides a photovoltaic charging mechanism and makes its e-reader almost autonomous. An hour of sunlight gives you a day of reading. Not, it does not fit on a Kindle, so Bookeen sent me their Cybook Ocean, and that is why this first look is about both products.

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Bookeen is a French company and their book store carries mostly French literature. But the format they are using is ePub and the DRM mechanism is Adobe. You can't just take your Kindle books and load them into the reader, but you can easily connect it to calibre and push books from your own library to the device. DRM is bad for the customer, and technically it is very easy to unwrap the DRM envelope form your own .azw books and get to the .mobi file hidden therein. From there you get your ePubs. Bookeen has an open store policy. You can basically use any store (but Amazon) to buy your books from. I have yet to figure out how to configure it but I know people who use Thalia.de on their Cybooks.

The big difference between a Kindle and a Cybook is the screen. Kindles are 6" and the Cybook is 8". That is considerably larger. Bookeen also has smaller 6" models and they start transitioning to 300 dpi screens. The Ocean is still 167 dpi and not as crisp as newer screens. Since I am mostly reading on a 167 dpi Kindle I only notice and enjoy the larger screen.

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The Ocean has a small service door, where you can a microSD card to expand its 8 GB storage and some contacts the cover makes use of to recharge the device. Here are the pins inside the cover:

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After you put the Ocean into the cover, you have a much better experience. The build quality wasn't very convincing before, but inside the cover everything feels just right. I charged the device, put some books in, and read for a few hours. It's now laying face down with the leaf cover on top. The battery is still fully charged. Seems to work as advertized.

Microsoft is bringing the sexy back

by Volker Weber

A few thoughts on yesterday's events, in a particular order:

So, here we are. Microsoft is making a machine to lure the creative community, which frankly has not been served well by Apple lately. At the same time, Apple is going after big business*. The caveat is Windows. Yes, the face got prettier. But the dragon is only sleeping.

*) You have to watch the first 55 minutes of this video. It teaches you how to prevent a migration (hint: application readiness assessment).

DTEK60 :: Mein Bericht auf heise online

by Volker Weber

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Ich musste noch ein wenig auf das Gerät warten, weil ich nicht nur die Pressemitteilung abschreiben wollte. Und ohne anfassen geht das nicht. Ein kleines Video habe ich auch gemacht.

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Microsoft Studio

by Volker Weber

Impressive industrial design, very expensive, no announcement for Germany yet.

Invited to Watson Workspace

by Volker Weber

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Seriously, I am in. Very beta. Spaces work, everything else coming later: Direct Messages, Mentions, Favorites. Haven't seen Watson yet.

I can invite people. I need your IBMid, which should look like your email address. If it does not, you need to create a new one.

Inhi Cho Suh announces Watson Workspace

by Volker Weber

"The Future of Work with Watson: Build Tomorrow’s Workplace Today with the Magic of Cognitive" - this is how IBM envisions collaboration in the future. Watch the 44 minutes and let me know what you think. I found some humor in the the whole theme "cyber illusion".

Do you understand what this is? It's messaging, Project Toscana. Like Slack. Or Microsoft Teams. Click?

Three days :: Three Launches

by Volker Weber

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Travelling to New York for a day sounds way more glamorous than it is. Airport procedures, immigration queues, being treated like cattle by security, sitting for hours on the plane. There are upsides: great hotels, the buzz of a wonderful city, meeting people. But if you don't have to squeeze yourself into your hands-on videos ("Hey, whats up guys, ... here with the latest wares") you can sit back on your desk with a much better working environment and watch the webcast. For me this happens three times this week:

Bonus event: you can buy an Apple Watch Nike on Friday. The Airpods are also supposed to be available at the end of October, but November starts next Tuesday and Apple has never launched a device on a Monday.

Lenovo Yoga Book :: Two weeks in

by Volker Weber

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The Lenovo Yoga Book is a dream. It's thin, it's light, it's elegant. It would be my companion when I leave the house. But I am afraid it's not working for me.

One reason is dozens of quirks with Windows 10. Sometimes it does not turn on. Sometimes it does not turn off I assume, because the battery is depleted. When I tap on a link in Twitter, it inverts the screen before flipping back to show the page in Edge. I can't move a Window to the side in tablet mode; you do that to split the screen for two windows. When in tablet mode it always opens the onscreen keyboard first until I type a character on the Halo keyboard. The first keypress on the Halo keyboard often gets lost. The list goes on.

The more important reason is that I am not learning how to type on the flat Halo keyboard. Yes, I can look at the keyboard and type hunt & peck style. But I cannot look at my text while I type. Which is useless to me. How do I know what I am thinking if I cannot see what I am writing?

A less important reason is that I cannot draw on a digitizer pad. I can draw on the screen with Surface or iPad Pro but drawing off screen would require some training. Yes, I could use the clipboard and paper, but you cannot erase stuff on paper, while you can on screen. Awkward.

Lenovo says they don't see those Windows quirks and that there is something wrong with my particular machine. I will try again with a new one. But the other conceptual flaws remain. This does not mean this machine is useless. People who are bound to their office desk because of a digitizer finally have solution to work everywhere. And for people who want to use the machine mostly as a consumption tablet, it's the most convenient one on the market. I just would not recommend it for a writer.

While the Yoga Book does not hit the spot, the best new notebook I saw this year, was the ThinkPad X1 Yoga. I knew I could not keep it so I returned it as quickly as possible before getting too attached to it.

Six weeks with the Sen.se ThermoPeanut

by Volker Weber

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It's been about six weeks with the Sen.se ThermoPeanut and my initial enthusiasm has been superseded by disappointment. Yes, it is easy to setup, yes it does work. But unfortunately not in any useful capacity to me.

Ever since the Eve Weather revealed it's disappointing Bluetooth range, I wanted something else to track the outside temperature. The ThermoPeanut isn't IP rated meaning it can only really be used indoors. But I have one Belkin Netcam HD which has survived three years outside and I attached the ThermoPeanut to its mount. Unlike the Eve Weather, it never showed connection issues. Remember, both use Bluetooth. Where the Peanut connects, the Eve fails. I was happy.

Ten days later, the ThermoPeanut was unresponsive. The battery which should have lasted six months was dead.

So I replaced the battery and tried again. Ten days later, it was dead again.

I asked for a second sample and put that outdoors, under the roof. I took the first sample indoors. Both with a new battery. Ten days later the new peanut was dead, the old one was doing fine. Now I knew that I could not put the peanut outside without burning a CR2032 in less than two weeks.

I only took the first sample indoors as a control case. I don't need to record the inside temperature because that is a steady 22 degrees Celsius, plus or minus half a degree, no matter what happens outside. Now I have put them in the fridge and it shows a steady 4 degrees for one zone and -18 for the other. If the fridge leaves its target temperature zone and cannot come back (door open) it starts beeping. The peanuts don't add anything there.

Maybe one day I find a use case.

Logitech K780 :: What a keyboard

by Volker Weber

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This is one of the rare moments where I meet a product that checks out in every single aspect. The K780 is a desktop keyboard, that can hold up your tablet or smartphone. It's a full featured six row keyboard with numeric keypad. Zero compromises.

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The most important trick is the Bluetooth switcher. You pair it with three devices at a time simply by holding down one of those numbers for three seconds. Once you paired your devices you just hit the corresponding key and it connects.

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It is quiet, substantial and heavy. Not meant to travel with you in your bag. But it is going to live on my table for the indefinite future. Editor-refuses-to-give-it-back award. Probably the biggest there ever was.

K780 works with Windows, Mac, Chrome OS, Android and iOS. On MacOS and Windows you can download Logitech Options to customize the keyboard to your needs. It uses Bluetooth Smart for very low energy consumption and runs on two small batteries. If your Mac or PC does not have Bluetooth Smart you can use the included pre-paired USB dongle.

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Last but not least, the materials are fantastic. Matte black with white accents. It sits on a grey plate that also builds up the hump which keeps your tablet or smartphone upright. Since the keyboard is heavy, there is no wiggle. It's all around solid.

In the past, Logitech has been a provider of inexpensive computer peripherals, but the last three products I have been using point into a very different direction. Both the Logi Base as well as the Logi Create are very well thought out and provide a quality experience day in and day out. And this keyboard continues on the same path.

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Fritz!Box 7580

by Volker Weber

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Ich bin ein absoluter Fritz!Box-Fan. Punkt. Aber vor gut drei Wochen hatte ich auf einmal ein Problem mit meiner 7490. Der Sync zur Telekom brach zusammen. Ich war felsenfest überzeugt, das kann nur an der Telekom liegen, aber die war völlig unschuldig. Das habe ich schnell herausgefunden, in dem ich eine 7390 dran gehängt habe. Alles ging, also hatte das DSL-Modem einen Schlag.

Zeit für eine neue Fritz!Box und wieder sollte es das beste sein, was AVM zu bieten hat. In diesem Fall die 7580. Kennt Ihr die Systematik dieser Nummern? Die erste Zahl beschreibt den Funktionsumfang. 3xxx z.B. ist ohne Telefonie, 7xxx ist mit Telefonie. Die zweite Ziffer beschreibt die Generation: 70xx, 71xx, 72xx, 73xx 74xx, 75xx. Mit der 7580 bin ich also nun auf der sechsten Generation. Aber 80 ist weniger als 90? Ganz einfach, die 7580 kann eingangsseitig kein ISDN mehr. Brauche ich auch nicht, weil ich das letztes Jahr abgeschafft habe.

Und dann habe ich das gemacht, was ich immer mache. Und bin voll auf die Schnauze gefallen. Alle Settings exportiert, neue Box angeschlossen, alles reingesteckt, Settings importiert, und dann nur noch die DECT-Telefone verbunden. Ergebnis: nach einem Tag stand die Fritz!Box und war nicht erreichbar. Stecker raus, Stecker rein. Alles geht. Sechs Stunden später, wieder ein Aufhänger.

Und man hat nicht die geringste Chance, die Ursache zu finden. Der Support bot mir eine neuere Software an, die sich nicht installieren ließ. Dann kam die Laborversion, die ebenfalls nicht installierbar war.

Dann habe ich eine Nacht über das Problem nachgedacht und bin zum Schluß gekommen, dass die Fritz!Box sich immer dann weghängt, wenn Sie eine Datei schreiben muss. Also etwa eine Anrufbeantworter-Nachricht. Oder eben ein neues Image. Was konnte ich machen? Ich Dussel hatte den USB-Speicher einfach umgesteckt ohne ihn neu zu konfigurieren. Zur Sicherheit ein neues Medium genommen, alles konfiguriert und jetzt schnurrt die Maschine wieder, wie ich das von AVM kenne.

Merke: PEBKAC. Problem exists between keyboard and chair.

DTEK updates finally rolling out to all devices

by Volker Weber

We have become aware of an issue related to the updating of specific open market versions of DTEK50 in Europe with monthly security patches. The latest software will be available starting the week of October 17th. We are taking steps to ensure that future security updates won’t get caught up in any operating system updates which can cause delays.

- Alex Thurber, SVP BlackBerry Device Sales

Last week it came to our attention that some DTEK50 weren't updating at all. Some were still on the July 05 patch level. We raised this issues with BlackBerry and finally got this answer. I did not like the "starting the week of October 17th" date, because that extends into the indefinite future but I am receiving reports that the DTEK50 sold through other outlets than ShopBlackBerry are finally getting their updates. It's a pretty big udate with more then 370 MB so BlackBerry seems to be staging it.

A few thoughts on the Galaxy Note 7 aftermath

by Volker Weber

Lots of articles about what the best replacement is and I find them not very useful. Some thought in no particular order:

If an iPhone is not in your budget, neither is a Pixel. You will have to compromise. That's OK, but don't pretend you didn't. I have seen plenty of capable Android devices in the 300 to 400 range.

You learn something every day

by Volker Weber

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When editing a text on iPhone 6S or 7, force touch the keyboard to get a track pad. #mindblown

Registration for Connect 2017 is now open

by Volker Weber

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Plantronics updates the BackBeat Pro cans

by Volker Weber

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I have had only one complaint about the BackBeat Pro headset: it's comically large on your head. But it does sound really great and it works extremely well isolating you from the noise around you. And it can do that 24 hours on a single charge.

Plantronics has been updating this 2013 design and came up with something smaller and lighter. I can't judge it from the photos, but supposedly the new cans take up 35% less volume and are 15% lighter, while sounding even better. I will let you know when I have a pair.

Plantronics should really hire a design director. Both the more expensive "Special Edition" above and the normal BackBeat Pro 2 don't look very intriguing. What is special besides the colour? The case and NFC pairing. What? NFC pairing is a differentiating feature? You've got to be kidding me!

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vowe's choice 2016

by Volker Weber

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While I talk about many products, I use very few tools to work with. They have to be efficient, very low maintenance and purposeful. I never mess with them, I don't install unnecessary software and I clean them up weekly.

I also use the products I write about extensively, so they may seem more important once in a while. But they are not. All of them are inferior in one way or the other. Sometimes the hardware is excellent but the software gives me headaches.

You don't see anything surprising in the photo above. MacBook Pro, iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, iPhone, Plantronics Voyager Edge, Manfrotto Pixi, ShoulderPod. And a bag. What may surprise you: I don't use pen and paper. Everything created is digital. And not everything is new. The MacBook Pro for instance is a late 2013 model. The endangered species here is the Plantronics headset. I have already tried the AirPods but I could not take them home.

There is a bit of redundancy in my toolset. The first thing I could live without is the iPad Pro with Pencil. The last two things I would keep are the MacBook Pro and the iPhone.

Planet Earth II :: Stunning Shots

by Volker Weber

Now we know everything about the DTEK60

by Volker Weber

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The official announcement of the DTEK60 must be imminent. The specs were leaked by BlackBerry, the photos and the price were leaked by B&H Photo in New York, and it's already listed in Canada.

If you look at the photos over at Crackberry.com, you can see it is a TCL device like the DTEK50. I also pegged the price right at $499. It's going to be more expensive than the Priv which is currently on sale at 474 € incl. VAT.

Now BlackBerry has to get out of the door with their new device.

My favorite cup

by Volker Weber

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Last year, I attended a party at Wolvesmouth together with Karen, on invitation by Sonos. When we arrived we were both handed a steel cup and filled that up with ice cold beer. After a long evening and many refills we were told to keep the cup. They even gave me two extra cups, so Karen and I returned home with two of those each.

I have not used a different cup since.

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This Hydro Flask cup not only has the perfect size for me, it also keeps everything inside cold for hours. Fits my quality obsession perfectly. What may feel expensive at first, pays back over time.

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Lenovo Yoga Book :: Notizen auf Papier

by Volker Weber

Lenovo liefert mit dem Yoga Book drei Kugelschreiberminen, ein magnetisches Klemmbrett und einen hochwertigen Block mit ein paar Blatt Papier mit. Da kommt sofort der Verdacht auf, dass hier ein Zusatzeinkommen wie bei der Druckertinte entstehen soll. OK, unfair, der Drucker ist das Zusatzgeschäft, nicht die Tinte.

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Aber das stimmt nicht. Man kann beliebiges Papier im Format DIN A5 nehmen, lochen und auf das Klemmbrett spannen. Auch die Minen sind vollkommen handelsüblich und lassen sich überall nachkaufen.

Das Klemmbrett kommt auf die schwarze Innenseite des Books und alles, was man drauf schreibt, wird in OneNote digital übertragen. Nur beim Seitenwechsel muss man daran denken auch in OneNote weiter zu rollen. Finde ich ziemlich cool.

Lenovo Yoga Book :: First impressions

by Volker Weber

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Six week ago at IFA 2016 in Berlin I attended a Lenovo press event where they highlighted a few of their latest products. The Yoga Book was the one device that triggered my must-have reflex. It was actually my IFA highlight. The Yoga Book was supposed to go on sale immediately but then Lenovo decided to postpone the launch to this week. So here we are, with a brand new Yoga Book at vowe's magic flying circus.

What you see above is the defining moment of this design. The Yoga Book has a Wacom digitiser that doubles as a keyboard. With a simple button press you can switch between typing and drawing. The book comes with a pencil that requires no battery or bluetooth pairing. It also comes with three pen refills for replacing the default tip, turning it into a regular pen. Attach a few sheets of paper with the included clipboard to the digitiser and you can take notes on paper while having them directly transcribed into digital ink.

The keyboard is obviously just a flat surface and it provides feedback through something that Apple would call a "taptic engine" and/or tones. Lenovo has done extensive testing and redevelopment until they were sure you can reach typing speeds matching physical keyboards.

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The interesting observation here is that it does not work for me. At least not immediately. See those two marks on the letters F and J? Look at your keyboard. It should have them too. What are they for? A touch typist rests his index fingers on those two keys and finds the rest of the keys from there. You can't do that on the Yoga Book because you start typing as soon as you touch the keyboard. Touch is sufficient, you don't need to apply pressure. This makes it completely useless to any touch typist.

I am simply not in the target demographic of 15 to 30 year olds. They are used to type on glass and the Halo keyboard improves on that experience, mostly by being significantly larger than your ten inch display keyboard.

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Yoga Book comes in two variants: Android and Windows. The Windows version is a 100 € more expensive; in the US that difference comes down to $50. I assume that the target audience will choose the Android variant but I am not. Lenovo has a terrible track record of updating its Android distribution whereas you can get Windows updates on day one. And then there is ink. Windows 10 has great support for pen input, better than anything else on the market. And that plays to the advantage of the Windows Book.

What I was looking forward to was a device that could beat my trusted Surface 3. Only it does not. Yes, this is a very light and elegant device. A much better tablet than any Surface. It's hard to believe that there is a battery in there, let alone one that can drive the Book for up to 15 hours.

But I believe that the Book is underpowered. You can't enjoy a Windows machine with just 64 GB of storage. Yes, there is a MicroSD expansion, but have you tried (and failed) to move your OneDrive folder to "external" storage? OneDrive integration in Windows 8/RT was great and things went downhill from there.

My other irritation is that you cannot draw on the screen to annotate documents. You always have to use the black digitiser. That means switching off the keyboard and then hovering the pen until the caret on the screen hits the right spot. Artists who work with a pen and digitiser on their desktop will not have the same problems that I have, but they will miss the keyboard for shortcuts.

The screen is touch sensitive and it does recognise the pen, just not for ink. You can do everything you could do with your finger. If you want digital ink, you have to resort to the digitiser on the other half of the device.

Long story short: this is very new device concept. It's the first of its kind and I am pretty sure that many more will follow. Whether you will like it or not, I honestly cannot tell. Graphic designers who work with a graphic tablet all day long will finally have a very easy to carry workplace. People who travel a lot by train or in coach will love the small space it requires. If you want to read books, you can just prop the screen up, with the body pointing towards or away from you. Whether I can easily write on it or not is still undecided. It does require some getting used to.

But I can tell you this: if you don't want it, then do not touch it. It's very hard to give back.

Gofundme SSL certificate broke today

by Volker Weber

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The certifier has been revoked by Globalsign. I expect this to be fixed immediately. There is just too much attention on the site.

Why I am doing this

by Volker Weber

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This is me today, a year ago, and three years ago. Two and a half years ago I changed my lifestyle. I had always been a couch potato and I have always been fighting with my weight. But instead of dieting I became active. 50 pounds came off in 2014, and more importantly they stayed off.

You can try and write witty comments but I am not budging. I need to exercise and I will continue to do so. Every. Single. Day.

Rocky needs your help

by Volker Weber

ZZ3FA44157 This is Rocky, amongst his friends, ten years ago at Lotusphere. Things have gone downhill from there. Now he needs your help.

Update: You did it. In one day. What was an unsurmountable problem for Rocky has been solved by 79 generous people. Let this be another lesson in collaboration and friendship. When we stand together we can make big things happen. They are small to us, but together we are strong. Very strong.

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vowe 500

by Volker Weber

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Today I completed the vowe 500. Ever since I got the Apple Watch last year, I found my perfect fitness tracker. I set a Move goal of 600 calories, the watch set an Exercise goal of 30 minutes and a Stand goal of twelve hours. Technically I missed the Move goal on a single day by 3 calories but I count this as a 500 day long streak of meeting not only one, but all of the three goals.

If you are not on a metered connection I invite you to click the photo below and see all 500 days. It's 3.7 MB and more than 20.000 pixels high.

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So, what's next? Maybe a thousand days in 2018?

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Keine Probleme. Gehen Sie bitte weiter.

by Volker Weber

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Immer wenn Apple neue Produkte rausbringt, dann gibt es besorgte Stimmen. Ich will mal ein paar Probleme aufzählen, die sich bei mir nicht einstellen.

Das Glas der Aluminium-Uhr zerkratzt bei mir nicht. Und zwar gar nicht. Es spiegelt wie am ersten Tag. Die Akkulaufzeit der neuen Series 2 ist super und ich kann keine Verschlechterung gegenüber der Original-Uhr feststellen.

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Ich habe den Lightning-Adapter zum Anschluss eines alten Kopfhörers noch nicht benutzt. Die alten 3.5mm-Earpods habe ich weg gelegt und verwende nur noch die neuen mit dem Lightning-Adapter. Die funktionieren an allen iPhones und iPads hier im Hause. Meistens benutze ich aber die Plantronics-Geräte, die alle Bluetooth haben. Die meiste Musik kommt aus dem Sonos.

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Das iPhone 7 hat keinen physischen Button mehr sondern nur den Touch-ID Button, der drucksensitiv ist. Wenn das iPhone aus ist, dann merkt man, dass sich dieser Button überhaupt nicht bewegt. Ist das iPhone eingeschaltet, dann erzeugt eine "Taptic Engine" eine kleine Bewegung, die den phyischen Druckpunkt simuliert. Steht bei mir auf der kleinsten von drei Stufen und funktioniert super. Man sieht einen dünnen Ring, mit dem Touch-ID erkennt, dass ein Finger aufliegt. Soll mit Handschuhen nicht gehen. Touch-ID allerdings auch nicht. Also?

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Das Objektiv-Glas auf der Kamera zeigt nicht den geringsten Kratzer. Auch das hochglänzende schwarze iPhone hat bisher ebenfalls keine Kratzer, obwohl es ohne Hülle benutzt wird. Auf dem Bild ist das matte, und dem geht es genauso.

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Man kann mit dem iPhone übrigens auch wunderbar telefonieren und verbogen hat es sich auch nicht. Und meine beträchtliche Sammlung von Armbändern passt auch weiterhin ganz prima.

VanMoof Electrified S :: A Short Test Ride

by Volker Weber

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As you may have gathered from the unboxing video, the VanMoof Electrified S is not my bike. But after a week of breaking it in I was able to borrow it for a short test ride. That's 45 minutes from Darmstadt towards Traisa, onwards to Eberstadt and back. This track has everything, from paved roads and bike paths to gravel. Enough to get a good understanding of the bike.

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Not surprisingly it takes balls of steel to ride this bike. There is no suspension and the frame is as rigid as it gets. Certainly feels way better on blacktop than on bumpy paths. The ride is very solid and quiet. No rattling, no squeaking, the bike feels like a tank. Surprise: even on full power you never feel like the motor is running you. It's just a gentle push that won't end. Technically it will, but the bike has never been recharged since its first charge last week. And there is still juice in the battery.

The average speed would have been higher if I did not include so many gravel roads, but it was also not a leisure ride. I looked at my Apple Watch and my heart rate was at 150 uphill. I would have been able to go that same path on my normal bike, only slower.

That's what the VanMoof Electrified S does: you still get your exercise on the bike, you just arrive earlier.

udoq is fully funded

by Volker Weber

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Congratulations, Marcus Kuchler on a successful Kickstarter campaign. Thanks to all backers that made this possible. And to those on the fence, there are still some rewards available.

You heard it here first.

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Aus meiner Inbox

by Volker Weber

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Verstärkung für meine VIPPs und ein großartiger Karabiner. Ganz herzlichen Dank!

1-UP, 2-UP, PARTY-UP

by Volker Weber

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The Ultimate Ears BOOM speakers are wildly successful amongst kids. And today they received a very cool update: instead of pairing two speakers for stereo that kids don't really care for, you can now add as many speakers as you want. Ultimate Ears says "more than 50", but that is unlikely to happen. But when you get together, everybody can bring their speaker and then link them all together. The UI is very simple. The UE BOOM (or MEGABOOM) app on your phone shows other speakers it discovers in a drawer at the bottom and you just pull them up. Disconnecting is as simple: just put them back in the drawer. The cool thing is that the speaker does not even have to be on. It can discover them via BT Low Energy and then turn them on as needed.

What I really like is that you don't have to have the latest and greatest. It works with the original BOOM, the BOOM 2 and MEGABOOM. The ROLL and ROLL2 speakers are left out right now, but I bet they will join later.

A few thoughts on the 'Made by Google' keynote

by Volker Weber

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That was a very smooth delivery. Here are a few thoughts in no particular order:

Looking at all the "Made by Google" products, I think they need a Jony Ive to develop a design language.

c't 21 :: Professionelle Abschottung geschäftlicher Daten durch EMM

by Volker Weber

Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) ist bei großen Unternehmen die Regel und nicht die Ausnahme. Bei kleinen Unternehmen ist das Gegenteil der Fall. Dabei erlauben Cloud-Angebote auch kleinsten Unternehmen die Möglichkeit, Mobilgeräte so zu verwalten, dass private und geschäftliche Daten getrennt bleiben.

Wer schon einmal alle seine Geschäftspartner als Freunde geworben hat, ohne das zu wollen, wünscht sich eine saubere Trennung von geschäftlichen und persönlichen Daten. Unternehmen wünschen das nicht nur, sondern wollen es nachvollziehbar durchsetzen. Und das ist nicht einmal besonders schwierig.

Geeignete Management-Lösungen werden heute in der Cloud angeboten, auch von deutschen Anbietern wie Telekom oder Vodafone. Das kostet ab drei Euro pro Monat und Gerät, ohne dass man in eigene Infrastruktur investieren muss.

Das ist kein Produktvergleich, sondern eine Motivation, mit dem Gewurschtel aufzuhören.

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IBM to deliver Verse on premises before the year is out

by Volker Weber

"On track". I like that. How is Project Toscana doing? Also on track for delivery this year?

Tan leather case after two weeks

by Volker Weber

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Now it's most beautiful and I would like to conserve this look.

Logitech wants to sell you cloud storage

by Volker Weber

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Logitech lets you store everything that's happening on the Circle camera for 24 hours, Netgear provides a week for Arlo. Netgear has always offered to store more than a week for a fee. Logitech now joins the club.

The interesting change of direction here is that Logitech never marketed the Circle camera as a security device. And I am also not using it that way. I think that Circle is the best home camera to stay on top of what is happening there. The day briefs are great. And the software lets you quickly jump through the day to look at specific events. The fact that video is only stored for a day also reduces the creep factor.

I have had the extended storage now for three weeks, and I have never ever looked at it. Sorry, Logitech, not buying.

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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