Archive | News RSS feed for this section

Microsoft buys Xamarin

25 Feb

About time.

Not just got the technology, but just as much (if not more so) for the awesome staff.

Good move.

So now the bridges really can go both ways.

OneNote Goes Free on the Windows Desktop

18 Mar

The jewel of the Microsoft Office suite in my opinion is OneNote. Microsoft have just released their first version of OneNote for the Macintosh as a free download. I wonder why this version took so long considering that OneNote has been available on Android, iOS, Windows RT and of course Windows Phone and Windows desktop versions for quite a while now. I guess devices with a sub 10% market share are not worth developing for as a priority…

The one thing all versions aside from the Windows Desktop SKU have in common is that they are all free. To rectify this Microsoft has now also released a free version of OneNote for the Windows desktop, but it’s not all good news.

My recent ramblings around Office 365 all really hinge on the fact that OneNote 2013 is better under touch than earlier desktop versions.

Not only is OneNote by far the application I use most often in the office suite, but it’s also the application I use most with touch, preferring traditional input methods (i.e. mouse and keyboard) most of the time for everything else. Essentially the thing pushing me towards Office 365 was the new version of OneNote, but now that’s free I’ll be backing away from the upgrade even more… right?

Well, yes and no.

The problem is the free version of OneNote has a few missing “premium” features. I’ve not been able to find a list of what these are, but have encountered one through my usage – audio note taking. Unfortunately I use this extensively in meetings, so not having this is a huge problem for me and I have found myself reverting back to the Office 2010 version I already own for meetings.

Otherwise, so far, the free version seems to do everything I need, so for non-meeting notes I’ve been using this. But it’s not a very elegant solution (running two versions) so I’m not sure how long this setup will last.

At the end of the day I think I may end up transferring everything back to OneNote 2010 and sticking with that for the near future, but I fully understand what Microsoft has done here, OneNote is a tremendous piece of software and it’s understandable they want to be paid for it.

But for most people I’d be surprised if the free version doesn’t more than meet their requirements.


Surface Pro 2 and McAfee internet Security 2013

21 Nov

A few days after the launch last month I decided to get myself a Surface Pro 2, the 256GB version with 8Gb of RAM. As regular readers to this site will be aware, I’ve been putting off getting a Windows tablet for over a year now since my laptop was doing a pretty sterling job.

The thing that finally swung it for me however was the realisation that, whilst the laptop was still very capable, it was sufficiently heavy that most of the time I left it at home. Once I’d made this realisation I finally had the justification I needed to spend the £1138 on a new device, and so the rest is history…

So what do I think of it after a little less than four weeks of ownership?

Well, at first I was in two minds. Yes it was a lovely device, but a purchase for as much as this is not something I do lightly nowadays, so I think that put a bit of a downer on it. Even though I’d thought long and hard about what a Windows tablet would do for me (over a year as mentioned), I still had my doubts that the money was well spent.

However, as time has progressed I’m beginning to feel more like I’ve actually made a good decision. The device has accompanied me almost every day (only missing the days where I had to attend after work events, i.e. the pub) and it has so far done everything I have wanted and behaved itself fairly well (more on this in a moment).

The battery life seems pretty decent, and I’ve been using it a lot at work for taking notes and recording audio in meetings.

The other thing it gets used for extensively while I’m at work is listening to music. The sound produced by this thing to my Bose QC15 headphones is among the best I have heard, to the extent that even the Lumia 920 that I had previously thought delivered an excellent sound, now seems somewhat lacking. The Surface is a little bass heavy, but the overall sound quality is very satisfying.

There have been a couple of negative points however, one of which in all fairness I am (sort of) to blame for.

Firstly, I decided to go for a “Touch Cover 2” as my keyboard of choice, rather than the significantly better typing experience provided by the “Type Cover 2”, my reasoning being that I plan to get the power cover when it becomes available next year, so having two similar keyboards was a bit silly. Additionally, I also wanted to experiment with the cover as a giant touchpad (Verdict: underwhelming). Don’t get me wrong, the keyboard is usable, impressive even in some ways, but I know without even trying the type cover that it is lacking a little in its primary use case. Sure I can type reasonably fast on it, but something is just not quite right and I do end up making slightly more mistakes than usual. Overall I question if this was the right decision. Still, backlighting in something as thin as this is impressive (but that doesn’t help much in normal usage).

Secondly, I have found the device has frozen a few times, but I think I’ve worked out why.

Very shortly after getting the Surface, I heard about the CryptoLocker virus that’s doing the rounds. This insidious virus has put the fear of god into me, so whilst I’ve been well served by Microsoft’s virus software for several years now, I decided the time was right to start paying for protection again.

I purchased three copies of McAfee Internet Security 2013, one for the Surface, one for my old Laptop which Hayley now uses, and one for my desktop machine.

So far I have only installed one copy, that going on the surface.

Shortly after I started to find that “clicks” in the Modern version of Internet Explorer were not always registering. Probably a coincidence I thought.

Then I noticed the file transfer speed of my device was far slower than I had previously seen when copying large files across locations.

Then in a meeting I noticed my battery was draining disturbingly quickly. A quick investigation revealed that despite being on battery power, McAfee had decided to do it’s weekly scan (I can find no setting to alter this behaviour).

Then yesterday whilst editing a file in Visual Studio, the IDE froze for a couple of minutes. On investigation it appeared that the biggest process user was the McAfee on access virus scanner. I feel this was an unacceptably long interruption.

Enough, I thought, is enough, so I’ve uninstalled it from the machine and gone back to the Microsoft defaults. This has left me a little uneasy, and more than a little annoyed that I forked out for three of these licences.

There is a (very small) chance that I’m blaming too many negatives on this application, so I guess time will tell if I see an improvement (it’s only been off the machine a couple of hours now)

I shall try to use this licence on the old laptop that Hayley uses, as I don’t expect she will notice the difference, and I’d like her to have the added protection and see how it works out for her. At the same time I’m hoping that the other two licences will allow me to install an updated version of this software at a later point in time when it isn’t a complete shambles (perhaps a 2014 version?). We’ll see.

In the meantime I’m annoyed I paid for something I am not going to use. Oh well, I guess that I should have read those reviews first…

So anyway, these gripes aside and considering it is missing a few features I would have used (NFC for example), I think I’ve made the right decision now, and look forward to getting some of the forthcoming accessories (power cover, dock, Bluetooth adapter for the keyboards) and using this device for the next few years.

I’m feeling pretty confident I’ll get my moneys worth out of the Surface, and that it will be money well spent… Unless of course I do something stupid like drop it on concrete or lose it entirely. That had better not happen as I can’t see me being allowed to buy another replacement for a good few years now.


It’s a bit of a mess at the moment, sorry.

23 Aug

Since I wanted to get off Blogspot as quickly as possible, I’ve basically created this new WordPress blog in a bit of a hurry, so apologies for the mess.

I’m working on tidying things up as quickly as possible, but until then please bear with me and let me know what you think.



Pull up a chair…

21 Aug

If you’re reading this entry before 23rd August 2013 then you’re here early, but welcome!

Essentially, I’ve had it with Google and want to distance myself from as many of their services as possible. The old version of my tech blog was hosted on BlogSpot ( which is owned by Google, so that is easy enough to ditch, although unfortunately it doesn’t appear particularly easy to move content across.

However, this new tech site on WordPress gives me the opportunity to start again, so let’s see how I do this time.

Hopefully I won’t need/want to move again anytime soon.