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 Wednesday, February 26, 2014

New Skitch I thought I’d post a list of the top Windows 8 WinRT (windows store) apps that I use all the time.

I know a lot of people who are running Win8 and treating it like Win7 – never leaving the legacy Desktop if at all possible. I think those people are doing themselves a disservice, and in the long run if they are developers then they are doing their users a disservice. I say this because I view the Desktop today in the same light I viewed green screen terminals in the early 1990s – a necessary evil that will ultimately fade into the mists of time (except for those poor users who will forever be stuck using legacy apps).

So these are the apps that, if they didn’t run on Win8, would probably drive me to get an iPad or Android tablet (except that because they are on Win8 I can use them on my tablet AND on my desktop, which is extremely nice). For the most part these are pinned on my start screen on my tablet and desktop. I’ve bolded the WinRT apps and left the legacy Desktop apps unbolded so it is clear just how much I use WinRT.

Productivity:

  • Mail, Calendar, People – the standard apps/hubs that come with Win8 – they started out bad, but have become quite good
  • Outlook (desktop) – I only use this to schedule Lync meetings anymore, but can’t live without it until there’s an alternative way to schedule a Lync meeting
  • Yahoo Mail – I use yahoo as my spam dump, but occasionally scan through to see if anything real creeps into that mail box
  • OneNote – they’ve really made this app nice for keyboard/mouse and touch and pen users – indispensible!
  • Skitch Touch – nice, easy to use graphic editor – I use it to crop/annotate quick screen grabs for the most part
  • Healthvault – keep track of my blood pressure and weight, important given my recent health issues, and it works on WP8 too
  • qool – a very simple to-do tracker, which works for me because it is low-friction, but I wish it worked on WP8 too
  • MyTrips – I travel a lot and rely on Tripit.com to keep me sane; MyTrips is on Win8 and WP8 and is better than the “official” Tripit app
  • Office (desktop) – I so wish there was a WinRT version of Office, but in the meantime I can’t live without the legacy Desktop version
  • Live Writer (desktop) – still the best way I know to author blog posts

News, weather, etc:

  • Nextgen Reader – RSS reader that also runs (and syncs) to my WP8 phone
  • Bing News, Bing Weather – nice apps, consistent on WP8 (finally), and keep me up to date with the world
  • MyRadar – consistent with WP8 and the fastest way to get weather radar on any device – I love this app!
  • Reading List – keeps a list of articles/posts/URLs that I want to review or use later
  • Flipboard – I use this only on my tablet because it is only fun with touch, but it presents a visually pleasing way to browse facebook/twitter/other web info

Finance:

  • Bing Finance – keep track of the market and business news
  • Mint – keep track of family finances – mostly just trying it out (and it is really nice), because I’m already a Quicken user
  • Quicken (desktop) – keep track of family and business finances, but I wish there was a WinRT version more like Mint – my problem is that Mint can’t do small business stuff, so I need Quicken

Social:

  • Lync (desktop) – I mostly use the Desktop version, though the WinRT app is slowly catching up and I do look forward to being able to use it
  • Twitter – the official twitter app, I’m sure there are better ones, but I’m not a heavy twitter user so this is fine
  • Skype – I use the WinRT app, but sometimes I also use the Desktop app – but the WinRT app is catching up fast, which makes me happy
  • Facebook – sure I can get there via the web, but I do like the app
  • Yammer – I mostly use the web because the yammer app is pretty poor, but it works as a share target; the WP8 app is better
  • Reddit by samrad – I’m not a big reddit user, but this is a nicely designed app that is fun to use
  • IE11 – for LinkedIn, because they don’t have an app yet; and for yammer because the WinRT yammer app is too limited

Media:

  • Xbox Music – I have a subscription to the service, and love the access to so much music on my tablet/PC/phone
  • Xbox Video – I’ve purchased a few movies to watch on the airplane on my Surface, and we also watch them on the TV through the Xbox
  • Netflix – we cut the cable a couple years ago and rely on Netflix/Hulu/Amazon for almost all media, so this app is indispensible
  • Hulu Plus – see my notes on Netflix – indispensible
  • IE11 – I wish, oh do I wish, that Amazon had streaming video app, but as it is I’m stuck using IE to watch Amazon video
  • MetroTube – very nice youtube app; another is MegaTube, but personally I prefer MetroTube
  • Zune (desktop) – my Xbox Music subscription provides me with 10 free songs each month, and the old Zune app is the only way to use those 10 credits to ‘purchase’ the tracks
  • Comics – the Comixology app is really nice; I know, as an adult I shouldn’t read comics, but I’m an uber-geek so I do, and this app is a really nice way to read them
  • Kindle – I mostly use a real Kindle because I don’t like reading on a glossy screen, but if I’m caught without my Kindle I’ll read on my Surface or phone
  • VEVO – I remember the days when MTV used to be about music videos, and VEVO is much like MTV from 1985 – happiness!

Utilities:

  • Clipboard – this is an app that allows you to Share from any app into the Windows clipboard, and I use it constantly – couldn’t live without it
  • File Manager HD – the best file manager app I’ve found so far – local and remote file access, quite nice
  • OneDrive/SkyDrive – slightly faster than File Manager HD for OneDrive access, but otherwise a duplicate
  • Dropbox – gives access to shared folders and other advanced features not in File Manager HD
  • Box – really a duplicate of File Manager HD
  • Remote Desktop – the WinRT Microsoft RDP client is nice, and I use it daily
  • TeamViewer – I sometimes use TeamViewer to connect to my desktop when I’m on the road; not as fast/smooth as RDP, but it gets through firewalls and NAT routers better

Photos:

  • Photos – I do use this app, but it was far better in Win8 than it is in 8.1 – they really crippled it…
  • Live Photo Gallery (desktop) – The only way to get at the thousands of photos on my server, and remains far, far more powerful than the built-in Photos app

Gaming:

  • Steam (desktop) – so I can get at all the games I’ve purchased via Steam
  • Origin (desktop) – so I can play Battlefield 4 and (soon) TitanFall
  • Wordament – my favorite casual game
  • Halo Spartan Assault – so nicely done, and fun to play

Shopping:

  • Amazon – of course! I do more shopping on Amazon than pretty much anywhere else
  • Zappos.com – I’m not a small man, and zappos always has shoes that fit, and their service is excellent
  • NewEgg – I go back and forth between their app and their web site, but the app is pretty decent

Development:

  • Visual Studio (desktop) – of course
  • Blend (desktop) – of course
  • Xamarin Tools (desktop) – build iOS and Android apps with C#, what more could you want???
  • GitHub for Windows (desktop) – nice way to interact with github and Visual Studio Online repositories
  • TortoiseGit (desktop) – I used TortoiseCvs, then TortoiseSvn, so it is natural that I’d use TortoiseGit more than any other git client
  • Windows 8 Dev Icons – provides useful icons with code snippets to access them
  • Xaml Candy – provides useful code snippets for common XAML elements
  • Samples Browser – browse Microsoft samples
  • Code Writer – a nice WinRT text/code editor for numerous file formats
  • Project Spark – so much fun to build WinRT and Xbox games
  • Project Siena – has the potential to be the “VB” of WinRT if they continue to evolve this tool – there’s no faster way to build simple WinRT business apps
  • Chrome (desktop) – for when IE11 doesn’t meet my needs
Windows 8 | WinRT | WP8
Wednesday, February 26, 2014 11:28:46 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
 Saturday, February 08, 2014

The Modern Apps Live! conference is coming up soon. Not only am I speaking at this event, but I’m the conference chair so I had the privilege of laying out all the content for the show.

map2014logo

This is the third Modern Apps Live! event and I think it offers something you won’t find in many (any?) other conferences. It is a single track, a single room. The content builds on itself through the entire conference. If you stick with us for the whole show we’ll walk you through the entire process of architecting, designing, and implementing a modern app.

What is a modern app? We define it as an app that has a compelling user experience that is available across all modern devices (Windows, iPad, Android, HTML 5) and that provides the user with a great touch/keyboard/mouse experience as appropriate for each device. A modern app’s data is ubiquitous, so it follows you from device to device, providing a consistent experience and access; as you can imagine, this implies a cloud-based back end system.

The great thing is that Modern Apps Live! is part of the Live 360! event, so if you want to branch out you’ll have full access to all the Visual Studio Live!, SQL Live!, and SharePoint Live! sessions as well.

There’s still time to register for Modern Apps Live! in Las Vegas, and I hope to see you there!

Saturday, February 08, 2014 4:43:16 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
 Tuesday, February 04, 2014

I got this in the email today, and I literally laughed out loud.

I’ve been fighting these spammers for years, and they’ve cost me ridiculous amounts of time and money over that time.

The fact that these inherently evil people are now asking me to spend more of my time and money to resolve some issue they brought on themselves is hilarious!

Now maybe if they’d offered me a bunch of money – enough to cover my time now to remove the links, plus enough to cover all the hours I’ve spent fighting their spam over the years – I’d be motivated to “help” them.

As it is, I find that I’m highly motivated to do two things:

  1. Use these people as public examples of evil in the hopes that few enough people will ever use their services that they go out of business
  2. Leave their spam in my web site as long as the Google ranking harms them by my actions

(what’s even funnier is that their spam is in a fake user profile, not in the actual forum, and the spammer that created that user profile has the password and could thus clean up the spam themselves – I think these national positions people should just pay their spammer to clean up the mess – that would be pretty funny too :) )

==================

Name: Webmaster

Email: webmaster@nationalpositions.com

Comments:Hello,

I am the webmaster for http://www.nationalpositions.com.

Sometime in the past we were paying a company for a link building campaign for our website. At the time, we didn't know what kinds of links they were building, and we were assured they would help our rankings. We are now in a situation where these links are causing a Google penalty on our domain.

We have identified which links we believe could be causing this, and we found your domain is hosting links we need removed.

I would greatly appreciate it if you removed all of the links to http://www.nationalpositions.com from your domain. Here is an example of the URLs hosting the links:

http://forums.lhotka.net/members/seowebmaster/announcements/default.aspx

http://forums.lhotka.net/members/seowebmaster/announcements/default.aspx?ProfileMessageID=7c814777-8d16-45cf-94ad-8dde74f57a17

Please let me know when you have removed our links from your domain.

We are very sorry if spam was placed on your domain on our behalf.

Thank you,

The nationalpositions.com Team

Tuesday, February 04, 2014 9:39:49 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [2]  | 
 Monday, February 03, 2014

I’ve had my Nokia Lumia 1520 “phablet” for around 6 hours now and thought I’d record my earliest thoughts.

(phablet is a term used to describe a huge phone, big enough to be a small tablet – hence “phablet”)

Good:

  1. The phone is as solid and well built as other Lumia devices
  2. Even though it is bigger than my 920 I don’t think it weighs much more; not what I expected from such a large device
  3. From what I’ve seen thus far, the battery doesn’t go down unless I run the Waze app (which drains batteries even if your phone is plugged into a charger)
  4. Reading email, browsing, and other data consumption activities are a lot of fun on the bigger screen
  5. Not only is the screen bigger, it is 1080p so it is so clear and sharp! Watching Hulu Plus and NetFlix on this thing is nice!!
  6. Moving from one WP8 device to another is a breeze; all my data and apps are in the cloud so the new phone just spent a while downloading everything and it just worked!

Neutral:

  1. The GDR3 “Black” update auto-installed on startup, and of course it has nice features all by itself, but I had that on my 920 already
  2. Though the device is quite large, I mostly talk via BlueTooth headsets or Microsoft Sync in my truck, so I haven’t yet encountered any awkward moments of holding a phablet up to my ear

Bad:

  1. Stupid AT&T prevents the Data Sense app from installing to the device; my 920 was a developer device and so it wasn’t blocked (even on ATT), and I really, really, really miss having Data Sense already (yes, they say I should use the myATT app, but I’m on a corporate plan so that app is total junk, and even if it did work it wouldn’t show the useful info shown by Data Sense)
  2. The screen is so big that even with my massive hands I can’t really use the device with one hand
  3. A small number of apps from the 920 apparently can’t run on the 1520, though that could be related to me moving from an unlocked dev phone to an AT&T branded device where they appear to cripple some things
  4. Though the battery life seems to be excellent, charging the battery takes _forever_ – or I’ve got a bad device, because it has been charging for a really long time and isn’t fully charged yet (and no, the Waze app isn’t running in the background :) )
  5. The device is big enough to be somewhat uncomfortable in the front pocket of my jeans, so I’m trying the back pocket; hopefully I don’t accidentally sit on it and break the phone…

On Waze:

Twice I mentioned the Waze app. It is a wonderful app if you need to get somewhere through traffic, snowstorms, etc. The user-driven data sourcing for traffic and related events is all in realtime, and I’ve found that Waze gets me around traffic that other GPS apps (even with traffic data) wouldn’t avoid.

BUT, the Waze app does literally drain the battery on phones even when plugged into a charger, so it is something you can _only_ use when the phone is plugged into a charger, and even then only for a relatively short period of time (such as on your commute to/from work). Even then, I suspect it would totally drain a battery with a longer commute like people have in some cities…

Monday, February 03, 2014 9:30:47 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [1]  | 
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