Skip to main content

Two weeks with the Microsoft Surface

The Microsoft Surface has been out for about two weeks now and I have been working with my for the same timeframe. I wanted to write up my experience with it to date. I have been trying to put it through its paces as much as I could. I will try and cover all the things I have done with it so you get a feel for where my opinion is coming from. For background I have only owned one other tablet in my life and it was the first version of the iPad. After a month or so of the iPad I stopped using it. Maybe that was because I shared it with my kids and wife. I think it was a combination of that and just not enjoying it as a primary device and apple kind of bugs me.

When I went to get the surface I was not sure if I would get it. When I finally got my hands on the hardware I was really impressed and it made it hard to say no. I got the 32GB devices with the type keyboard (writing this review on it now in fact). I have used it in a number of different scenarios the past two weeks and I will try and quickly summarize them each here.

I was not sure what to expect on this front and while the selection is still pretty slim it is actually better then I was expecting. I have found a few quality apps like google reader app, kindle, flight tracker, mindmapper, onenote and some good games. The selection needs to grow quickly though as your options are limited.

Touch Interface
I have really loved the touch interface. There have been a few times when the touch does not seems to register but it is infrequent enough it is not a big deal. It only took me a couple days to get use to the gestures and the ability to dock two apps and work with them as the same time has been great.

I have used the onscreen keyboard and the type keyboard a fair amount. Both have been a pleasant surprise. My typing speed, responsiveness and accuracy of the onscreen keyboard as been really good. While I don't think you want to type a lot with the on screen keyboard, the smaller stuff is pretty easy. With the screen being wider than other tablets typing while holding can't really be done without going one handed. You can switch the keyboard to thumbs mode (not sure if that is what it is really called) and that works but again typing with any speed at all that way would take some practice.

The type keyboard has been great. I have used it for all day meetings to type notes, write emails and word documents. The design is great as is the feel. I do have a few issues with it though and one is not its fault it is just the nature of the beast. The keyboard cover is smartly designed so when you flip it to the back it becomes unresponsive so you don't have to worry about key presses when you flip it to the back. This feature does not always work 100% though. Sometimes I will flip it back and the surface will turn on just in time to get a few key presses registered before it turns off. At that point it is hard to get the onscreen keyboard to come up because it thinks the typepad is active. Also when you flip it to the back and hold the device you can feel the keys being pressed. While it normally works get and the keyboard is shut off while flipped back it just feels odd to me to feel the keys back there. While it has held up great it just feels weird. I know it is the nature of the best so not Microsoft's fault. I have used the touch keyboard a little and it feels better when flipped back and it just feel like a cover. I have not used the touch enough to speak to the typing experience.

I have used it on a couple business trips on the plane, and I have to say I love it. I read a review where he was complaining it did not fit very well. I have to say I did not find that to be the case at all. When I got on the plane I put it in the seatback pocket in front of me and it fit fine. It also fit well on the tray. Granted with the keyboard and kickstand there was not much extra room but it still worked great.

In order to really test this out I made a point to not plug it in. I spend a day (9-5:30pm) in a meeting taking notes, email, doing some internet searching and reading documents, and at the end of the day I still had 50% battery left. I then took the device to dinner with my boss where we spent another hour and a half doing some work (internet search and documents). When I got back to the hotel I still had a good quarter of the battery left. This was way better then I expected.

I have spent time reading my kindle books on the device, PDF files, websites and word documents. While you can read the device while holding it, it is heavy enough you can't do it for very long. Overall it has worked rather well. When you shift the device to portrait instead of landscape it provides an interesting experience. Since the device is a 16:9 widescreen device you get a more longer (think legal paper) reading experience. To tell  you the truth I am still not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. At times I really like it and at others I don't. Most of the time I end up reading in widescreen mode.

I have also spent time watching some movies on it Netflix is great and with an HDMI connector plugged into a TV it is even better. Things like Xbox smartglass is a cool feature, but to be honest I am not sure how much I will ever really use it.

Overall, I am very happy I bought the device. After two weeks I have a hard time being without it.


Popular posts from this blog

Uniting Testing Expression Predicate with Moq

I recently was setting up a repository in a project with an interface on all repositories that took a predicate. As part of this I needed to mock out this call so I could unit test my code. The vast majority of samples out there for mocking an expression predicate just is It.IsAny<> which is not very helpful as it does not test anything other then verify it got a predicate. What if you actually want to test that you got a certain predicate though? It is actually pretty easy to do but not very straight forward. Here is what you do for the It.IsAny<> approach in case someone is looking for that. this .bindingRepository.Setup(c => c.Get(It.IsAny<Expression<Func<UserBinding, bool >>>())) .Returns( new List<UserBinding>() { defaultBinding }.AsQueryable()); This example just says to always return a collection of UserBindings that contain “defaultBinding” (which is an object I setup previously). Here is what it looks like when you want to pass in an exp

Anatomy of Sitecore Business Rule - Macros

In previous posts, we talked about  field syntax and the basic structure of business rules . This time we are going to dive into macros in the business rules. Macros are used as part of the business rule syntax. The syntax looks like this and calls for 4 parameters. [Property to set, Operator/Macro, AdditionalParameters, Display text]. When I first started working with business rules the difference between operator and macro was confusing. To add to this confusion some of the out-of-the-box macros are named with the term "operator" (like ListOperator who's configuration points to a class called ListMacro and the class implements IRuleMacro). Anything under the path /sitecore/system/Settings/Rules/Definitions/Macros should be a macro and should implement IRuleMacro. Macros have the follow characteristics: They inherit the IRuleMacro interface The interface requires this execute method void Execute(XElement element, string name, UrlString parameters, string value)

Experience Profile Anonymous, Unknown and Known contacts

When you first get started with Sitecore's experience profile the reporting for contacts can cause a little confusion. There are 3 terms that are thrown around, 1) Anonymous 2) Unknown 3) Known. When you read the docs they can bleed into each other a little. First, have a read through the Sitecore tracking documentation to get a feel for what Sitecore is trying to do. There are a couple key things here to first understand: Unless you call " IdentifyAs() " for request the contact is always anonymous.  Tracking of anonymous contacts is off by default.  Even if you call "IdentifyAs()" if you don't set facet values for the contact (like first name and email) the contact will still show up in your experience profile as "unknown" (because it has no facet data to display).  Enabled Anonymous contacts Notice in the picture I have two contacts marked in a red box. Those are my "known" contacts that I called "IdentifyAs"

Excel XIRR and C#

I have spend that last couple days trying to figure out how to run and Excel XIRR function in a C# application. This process has been more painful that I thought it would have been when started. To save others (or myself the pain in the future if I have to do it again) I thought I would right a post about this (as post about XIRR in C# have been hard to come by). Lets start with the easy part first. In order to make this call you need to use the Microsoft.Office.Interop.Excel dll. When you use this dll take note of what version of the dll you are using. If you are using a version less then 12 (at the time of this writing 12 was the highest version) you will not have an XIRR function call. This does not mean you cannot still do XIRR though. As of version 12 (a.k.a Office 2007) the XIRR function is a built in function to Excel. Prior version need an add-in to use this function. Even if you have version 12 of the interop though it does not mean you will be able to use the function. The

Windows Workflow Unit Testing

I know people have very mixed opinions about Windows Workflow and, to be honest, so do I. Really I am not even sure if it has much of a future given the little attention Microsoft has given it. However, despite all that and rather your like it or not there are times when you may use it and want to unit test it. The question is how? Well there are not a lot of options but there is one, that for me, has proven valuable. People tend to use Windows Workflow in a few different ways, so first let me explain how I have use it most. I have never really used it where I programmatically created and instantiate of my own workflow. For me it has pretty much all been using the Windows Workflow designer and using IIS as my workflow host. Then inside those XAML workflows I have custom activities I create and need to test. Do to this I have found one tool that does this pretty well and pretty easy. Microsoft Activities Unit Testing It is an old framework but it still gets the job done. There is