How to Handle All That News

So much news, so many sources, so much to read, so where does one start? If you are a news junkie as I am this is the ultimate question of our times (tad exaggeration).
My system for trying to keep up is not complicated, but it works for me and something similar might work for you. First I have 3 “old media” sources that I subscribe to so I read those as you would have in 1950 at the kitchen table. Those would be The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. These three are also the only news apps that I allow to send me notifications on my phone, breaking news only of course!

The next bit is how I take in the rest. It pretty much works like this. I see a link in a number of places and save it to Pocket. There are a few services that allow you to save items to read later, but Pocket works everywhere and has the best tools. Then a few times a day I go into Pocket on my phone or PC and read away.

I have two primary ways to find stuff I want to send to Pocket. That would be my RSS app (RSS explainer) and Twitter. Since the death of Google Reader I have used Feedly as my RSS service. I do however use third party apps to use Feedly though they provide more than adequate first party apps. On the MAC and iOS I use Reeder, and on Windows I like Nextgen Reader. Both apps do a great job of syncing with the Feedly service and most importantly make it easy to save to Pocket. For Android I still have not found anything better than Feedly for Android.

Those that know me understand I like and use Twitter a lot. While the social stuff is fun, I have found it be a useful place to see what news is breaking in the now. With the right Twitter app you can save anything that looks interesting with one quick click. On the Mac and iOS I use Tweetbot, on Android I like Talon, and on Windows I like Tweetium.

While a setup like this can take time to curate it is quick and easy to use. During the day or when I am busy I just quickly scan my Twitter and RSS feeds. If I see a headline or lede that draws my attention, I just click save to Pocket. Then when I have a few minutes I open Pocket and read!

Like anything the news is only as good as the sources you choose to follow and read. Don’t just read the sites and authors who you know you will agree with. Push your boundaries, remember there is a world outside of the borders you live within, and become an informed citizen.


Apps and services mentioned above:

A Cynical View of Windows 10S

I know it will shock many that I am looking at the launch of Windows 10S in a different light.  I am going to start with my conclusion and go from there.  Windows 10S is about finding a different way to keep Windows revenue afloat while they continue to evolve into the Azure and Office company.
A few points:

  • The first selling point from Microsoft is that devices with 10S in a managed environment like a classroom is safer thanks to it being so locked down.  One of the items they mentioned is Microsoft Intune.  Reality check, if you are using Intune you already have the other tools as an administrator to lock down systems to do pretty much what S offers.
  • Another benefit they mentioned is the security of using just apps bought through the Windows Store. Now there is some truth there, however in the next sentence they talk about how easy it is to package your standard Win32 apps and throw them in the store.  Many security experts who I trust have made the point that using Microsoft’s Project Centennial (how you package those old desktop apps for the new world) tarnishes many of the security benefits.
  • Windows 10S locks Windows Edge as your default browser and Bing as your default search engine.  While Microsoft said that other browsers are welcome in the store, you will not be able to change either of those defaults.
    • UPDATE: May 10, 2017 Ed Bott at ZNDET has been told that the original consensus from the press that Google and others could just package their browsers and put them in the store was wrong.  

Now with those points in mind, Windows 10S is about one thing and one thing only.

 

  • Outside of security, what else does the Windows Store do?  Like the App store on iOS and the Google Play store on Android it allows Microsoft to take a 30% cut off the sale of your app.
  • Having Edge and more importantly Bing as your default does what?  It makes Microsoft money.  Like Google, Microsoft monetizes the data used in search and other things.  Unlike Google they do not have that marketshare.
  • Microsoft offers OEMs steep discounts on lower end PCs.  So now you put Windows 10S on those devices allowing Microsoft to make up some of the lost revenue with forcing you into the store and to use Bing.

Here is the real kicker.  Microsoft is allowing you a very easy way to change that Windows 10S install into a full version.  Just hand over $50.  So Microsoft is setting up a system where you either make them money by using the store and Bing, or you can just hand over the $50 making up for the future lost revenue.  This is what some would call the “freemium” model just taken to the OS.

Small Look Behind the Numbers

Streaming Music Numbers

https://techcrunch.com/2017/03/02/spotify-50-million/?ncid=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Techcrunch+%28TechCrunch%29

 

The streaming firm clocked 40 million ‘Premium’ subscribers in September 2016, having hit the 30 million mark in March, so the growth rate has continued to be fairly consistent. Aside from its $9.99 paid plan, Spotify also offers a more limited free option that it monetizes via ads. Back in June last year, the company disclosed that it had reached 100 million registered users — including paying and non-paying users — but we haven’t had a newer figure since then.

There’s plenty of competition in the market, and Spotify’s nearest rival is Apple Music, which reached the 20 million paid user mark in December. Tidal, the service owned by rapper (and soon-to-be-VC) Jay-Z, reached three million last March which was its last update.

These numbers made me think of the famous quote that “a rising tide lifts all boats”.  The only difference being that in this case it might be only two boats.  Since Apple Music has launched Spotify has done more than hold its own.  While there are other players out there like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Tidal it does seem that it’s a two horse race right now.  Has Spotify become the go to for Android?  The irony is that Google has by far the best deal out there right now as you get Google Play Music with a YouTube Red subscription for the same monthly price as the others.  The libraries are all pretty similar as of now, so it should not be hard for people to jump around.

Spotify yesterday also announced they will be adding a lossless audio plan similar to what Tidal offers.  This is interesting, and I still think Apple will add something like this with the purchase of Tidal.  It seems Tidal was created as something to be purchased.

The Battle For the Classroom

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/02/technology/apple-products-schools-education.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0

Of the 12.6 million mobile devices shipped to primary and secondary schools in the United States in 2016, Chromebooks accounted for 58 percent of the market, up from 50 percent in 2015, according to the report. School shipments of iPads and Mac laptops fell to 19 percent, from about 25 percent, over the same period. Microsoft Windows laptops and tablets remained relatively stable at about 22 percent, Futuresource said.

The next generation is being taught that the default is Google.  It’s pretty incredible that an OS that is just a few years old is getting close to a 60% market share in the US.  Now with new Chromebooks running Android apps it will be interesting to see if they can start to grow in any meaningful way outside of the education market.  They are offering something today that Microsoft is trying to promise in the future.

 

My New Favorite Bluetooth Keyboard

I have never been a huge fan of many of the portable bluetooth keyboards being sold out there. Logitech and Microsoft both make some of the better ones, but even those felt small and crowded at times. I was just browsing on Amazon last week and a keyboard from Anker popped in my recommendations.
On sale for $19.99 I just went and ordered the Anker Ultraportable Keyboard. While it is a little heavier, and a little bigger than some of the competitors I love this thing. It feels and sounds like a true desktop keyboard. I have been using it with my iPad Air 2, but you should have no problem using it with any device. I have not used enough to test the battery claim since it says it can go 6 months on one charge. I obviously have not had to charge it yet!

Anker Keyboard

Other recommendations:

Microsoft Universal Mobile Keyboard

Logitech Multi-Device Bluetooth Keyboard

My Thoughts on Windows 10 Anniversary Update

I wrote a little something over on the Agnostic Tech Podcast site.

The bottom line is this. My thesis on Windows 10 has not changed. Microsoft is throwing crap against the wall in order to make an enterprise ready operating system by 2020. That is when support for Windows 7 will end for their big paying customers. Those using Windows 10 today are just guinea pigs for this purpose. If you have to use Windows 10, use it as you would your Windows 7 machine. Don’t be confused when you read reviews on the mainstream tech sites saying that this is a nice update. It is if you setup the machine as you would a Windows 7 PC. That is all they are doing.

Read the rest here….

Windows 10, We Have A Problem….

These headlines have shown up in my RSS reader over the last few days.  I can’t argue with any of them.  Since the Windows 10 launch it has been obvious the package delivered to users was not ready for prime time.  I have had issues with Mail, Edge, and some awful problems with Action Center that took me editing the registry to fix.  For the most part the OS has been “okay”, but the built in apps that shipped with Windows 10 were not ready.  Given that Microsoft’s big sell with Windows 10 was the new universal app platform this is a shame.  Even those that are okay with operating system will give apps like Edge a try, and never go back.  So Microsoft may fix the bugs, but shipping bad software is going to harm the long term impact of the universal app store.  Does it really help Microsoft if users upgrade to Windows 10, but still use just win32 apps like Chrome, iTunes, etc like they did on their Windows 7 machines?
Many had issues with the user interface of Windows 8, but that operating system launched in a much better working state.

P.S. Bring back OneDrive Placeholders.


Screenshot 2015-09-15 09.43.38Screenshot 2015-09-15 09.43.16

Apple Smells Blood

Apple over the last decade has not been a company that is great at inventing new categories, it is great at knowing when to jump into a category.  They did not invent the smartphone, but the moment teenage girls started clamoring for a Blackberry Apple knew it was their time.

That time is coming again, and no it is not in the watch or car category.  It is in the PC category.  There are a lot of rumors of two new devices coming out from Apple.  One is a larger iPad which will support a keyboard and stylus.  The other is the 12.9 inch MacBookAir.  This is Apple’s SurfaceRT and SurfacePro.  However, I don’t expect Apple to have the same struggles Microsoft did when launching these products.  Microsoft Surface Pro 3 was the first in that lineup that is having success, so Apple will see this as a sign that the time is now.

As one of the few people that thought SurfaceRT and WindowsRT were the right products for Microsoft, an iPad Pro will be the same.  A powerful product that gives you the productivity you need without the normal maintenance requirements of a full blown desktop OS.  We have all seen people using a portable keyboard with an iPad, and they are doing this without Apple fully buying in.  This can change that.  The MacBookAir is already a popular PC, but this will be a much better machine with a higher res display and better battery life.

One company that knows what is about to come is Microsoft.  They are going full in the Apple ecosystem.  Their apps are now first and best on iOS, and just this week a preview of the next version of desktop Office came to OS X.  For the first time an Office user will not feel like the wicked stepchild on their Mac.  This is a big improvement.  Microsoft is definitely now a software and services company.  They are going to care less and less what platform you use those services on.  Just this week we have seen partnerships with Samsung and this Office for Mac release.

There are going to be a lot of upset users who are all in on the Windows ecosystem. Windows will still be core to Microsoft, but don’t expect Microsoft to give their OS users any extra love.  I also would not expect Microsoft to stay in the hardware game much longer.  Why take a loss for each Windows mobile phone you sell when you can make money on other platforms?  One thing is for sure, Microsoft and Google are in a full fledged fight for the iOS home screen!

A Way To Get Around Slim Margins for PC and Phone OEMs?

After Lenovo’s week from hell, I have been thinking on ways for Microsoft to get their partners to make computers without the cruft that makes these machines unusable and unsafe.  How about Microsoft shares store revenue with manufacturers that install a clean version of Windows for their users?  If you can tell Lenovo and HP that they can make money on their machines even after they are bought, that has to have some pull.  So if you user X buys $50 worth of apps from the Windows Store… $35 would go to developers, $10 would go to Microsoft, and $5 would go back to the OEM.  They can’t be making much on what they pre-install now, can they?

I think this approach would also have some Android OEMs take a look at Windows Phone if you promised them some post sale revenue.  The mobile app store has become a place people expect to spend money, so if you tell Samsung or HTC they will get a few bucks a year from each user….

Just trying to think outside the box!

Two Images That Show Off the New Microsoft

Frank Shaw, head of communications at Microsoft, tweeted this:
 

 

I do see that the individual Office apps are running on an Android phone.  This would be an update to the current Office Mobile, and would be the same as iOS and Windows Phone 10 (at launch).

 

…and then when you open the Sunrise app on Android you are greeted with this image:

2015-02-12 05.18.46

 

Why Joe, Why?

Joe Belfiore took to Twitter today to clear up some questions regarding Windows 10.
First he confirmed that the task bar is there to stay in tablet mode.  I can’t imagine that anyone thinks that you want a task bar on an 8 inch tablet. (Paul Thurrott has some good images over at thurrott.com)

 It gets worse.  He then confirmed that any device over 8 inches will include the desktop and win32 app support.  I can’t tell you the amount of people I see everyday using their iPad with a keyboard, and slowly more and more of the Samsung Note Pro devices.  They could have full computers for that price, but they don’t for a reason.  Now we have confirmation that Microsoft does not want to compete in that market.  Microsoft is under the false assumption that price alone will draw people to the PC.  Many users like that their iPad just does what it does.  It doesn’t run legacy apps, which means it does not have legacy issues.  Microsoft has a version of Windows that could do the same, but alas they decided to throw in the white towel.