Microsoft Surface Book

SurfaceBook

I’ve purchased a Microsoft Surface Book as my main computing device.  The Microsoft Surface Book is described by Microsoft as “The Ultimate Laptop”.  Now that I own one I have to agree.

The Microsoft Surface Book was introduced for sale beginning on October 26th.  I had made an advanced order for mine on October 7th and I picked it up at the Microsoft Store in Atlanta at 10:00 AM on Monday, October 26th, the first day of availability.

The specifications for my Microsoft Surface Book are as follows:

i7 Processor, 16GB RAM, 512GB PCIe NVMe  SSD, NVidia GeForce Graphics

Trust me, this is one very powerful laptop.  Everything is literally instantaneous.  Thanks to the PCIe NVMe solid state drive, it takes only a few seconds from the time I turn it on to the time I’m ready to work!  I’m also fortunate to have an optical cable connection with Comcast and I have a download speed of over 90 Mbps.  The Internet is very fast for me.  I love it!

At 3000 x 2000 and 267 PPI, this is the highest resolution I’ve ever had on a screen. The 3:2 aspect ratio is the same as the aspect ratio on my cameras. Isn’t it interesting that the 3:2 aspect ration is also the perfection of the Fibonacci ratio in nature?  After you use this ratio on your screen you have to wonder why all screens aren’t designed with this aspect ratio.  Surface Book screens are individually calibrated to be 100% color accurate.  This is the absolute best color I’ve ever seen on a screen  It’s the first screen I’ve ever had that when I look at one of my camera images it looks like I’m seeing an actual photograph instead of a computer screen.  You really do have to see one of your own favorite images on this screen to fully appreciate it. When going through my images it’s like I’ve never seen them before. I just sit back in utter amazement at how good this screen is. The drawback is that very few people will ever see my images as I now see them.

The track pad is everything that I’ve read about and more. On any keyboard I’ve ever had, I try the track pad for a few minutes, then go to my mouse and never want to use the track pad again. This track pad is a whole different animal. It’s made of glass and feels silky smooth, it’s huge and it’s accurate.  I still have yet to connect my mouse, it’s that good. Between the touch screen, the pen and the track pad I may never use a mouse again!

So far I’ve installed Adobe Lightroom/Photoshop CC Subscription, Microsoft Office 365 Subscription, and Microsoft Visual Studio 2016. Everything runs like it should with no problems. Of course as soon as I logged in to Windows 10, all of my data was there from the cloud on Microsoft OneDrive. I love it!

Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop are noticeably faster. Since a NVMe PCIe SSD is used, importing and exporting images is over twice as fast as an ordinary SSD. I often export multiple images and cutting the time in half is indeed very welcome. Looking at the options menu, I see that the default is to use the Surface Book’s NVidia GeForce graphics processor. When I go back and forth from the original to the processed image in the Develop module it is instantaneous now. From some of the reviews I’ve read I thought I would only see a small incremental change. With how I work in Lightroom/Photoshop CC, the speed difference is very noticeable.  I’ve found that I like to work with Lightroom/Photoshop with the screen reversed and then laid back down to cover the keyboard.  This is what Microsoft calls “Creatie Canvas”.  The screen is still attached to the keyboard base and has full access to the NVidia graphics processor.  Since the Microsoft Book keyboard is now covered by the screen, I attach my Bluetooth Microsoft Mobile Wedge keyboard to the Microsoft Book and since I can position the Wedge keyboard anywhere I like alongside the screen, between the Microsoft Pen and Wedge Keyboard I have a very ergonometric working setup. This is the best Lightroom/Photoshop setup I’ve ever had!  I like it a lot!

Facial recognition is really amazing. It was very easy to set up and now when I turn my computer on it recognizes me literally instantly. No more entering a password at startup. I like this feature a lot more than I ever thought I would.

One of the things that I was a bit worried about was the screen “wobble” that reviewers were complaining about.  I’m not seeing any of that. Evidently I don’t vigorously punch, jab and poke at the screen like I see some of the reviewers doing. For the way I work the screen is quite stable and I do a lot of touching and use the pen quite a bit. I think that I’ll be putting the screen in to what they call “Creative Canvas” mode when doing a lot of pen work on a photo. That’s where you reverse the screen and lay it back over the keyboard to keep the use of the NVidia graphics processor which resides in the base under the keyboard.

It’s interesting that when I first turned my Surface Book on, I was prompted to do a system update and driver updates. I would imagine that my experience is better than what many of the pre-release reviewers were seeing.

Taking just the screen to the family room and using it as a tablet while watching TV is really nice. It is interesting to note that the screen by itself in tablet mode can be attached to the spare Surface Pro 3 charger that I keep by my family room chair.  Since the screen (Microsoft calls it clip-board mode) has a small battery to keep size and weight down.  Battery time in tablet mode is limited to 3 to 4 hours.  With my spare charger the  lack of battery time in tablet mode shouldn’t really be a problem for me where I most use it.

The pen is a significant improvement over my Surface Pro 3 pen.  The sensitivity has been increased from 256 to 1024 degrees of sensitivity and battery life has been increased from a couple of months to over a year.  I noticed the increased sensitivity immediately.  Microsoft also has reduced the physical distance between the pen tip and the ink.  One now has the feeling that he is writing directly on the tablet surface (pun intended).  When in tablet mode, the pen totally replaces a mouse for me.  And in tablet mode I don’t use the on-screen keyboard at all.  I write with the mouse and my cursive/printing is instantly translated to text input.  The pen is now very strongly magnetic and attaches quite securely to the side of the screen.  This really works well for me.  I like the new pen a lot.

I’m very pleased with my Microsoft Surface Book and I would buy it again in a heartbeat.  I’m using my Surface Book full-time and it has completely replaced my old desktop system.  I’ve been over it with a fine tooth comb and can find no physical hardware defects whatsoever. After Panos Panay’s highly entertaining dog-and-pony show at Microsoft’s October 6th Hardware event there was a lot to live up to in my mind, but my Surface Book has actually exceeded my expectations. For me Microsoft totally hit this one out of the park.

Posted in Microsoft Surface Book

Going Paperless

“Going Paperless” buzzwords have been around for quite a while now and I really never gave much thought to how “paperless” I really was.

I have 2 two drawer file cabinets and a one drawer file cabinet in my home office. I recently realized how few times they have actually been opened in the past couple of years.

Everything I used to write down on paper in notebooks is now kept on Microsoft OneNote. OneNote data is kept in Microsoft OneDrive and is available on any device from anywhere. Everything is kept in folders just like a physical file cabinet and better yet is immediately searchable. You talk about convenient!

Years ago, after buying several eBooks for my Kindle, I found it was very convenient having my reference books immediately available to me on my smart phone, tablet or computer, complete with bookmarks and annotations, wherever I went. Over the past few years literally all my reference books are now on my Kindle and, of course, automatically on the Kindle apps on all my devices. I find this absolutely invaluable. Sadly for Barnes and Noble I will go in to the store to browse and then order the Kindle version of what I want for a fraction of the store list price and have the book in a much more useable format. The days of Brick and Mortar book stores are unfortunately numbered.

I’ve done my taxes using Turbo Tax on-line for many years and have no need to keep paper copies. All my forms are available on-line from all the companies with which I do business.   I even file my taxes on-line. My taxes have been totally paperless for many years.

Whenever I buy a new device, whether it is a tech device or a home appliance, the up-to-date manual is always on-line in PDF format. When I open a device box, I look at the “getting started” paper while setting it up and then I download the PDF manual on-line and save it in my PDF folder on Microsoft OneDrive. Then I throw the box and all the paperwork away. (Actually Kate flattens it all and uses it as compost in her garden.)  If I’m ever having a problem with any device I have, I simply take out my smart phone and look at the PDF manual.  Paper manuals are totally obsolete.

I used to print out information I found on the Internet and then file it in my filing cabinets, but I realized that all I really needed was a link to what I needed. There was no reason to waste paper and time on printed paper. When I want someone else to read something I’ve found, all I need to do is email them a link to it.

I have a printer on my printer stand, but all I use it for is an occasional photo print. And even at that, almost all photos are expected to be on-line. They days of having photos in a wallet are all but gone, now your photos are on your smart phone. You don’t reach for your wallet to display photos of your grandchildren, you reach for your smart phone!

There’s no question about it, I have become, for all practical purposes, “paperless”.

Posted in Uncategorized

Sony RX10 Camera

pSNYNA-DSCRX10~B_main_v217On February 23rd, after much research, I purchased a Sony RX10 camera .

This camera has an absolutely amazing Carl Zeiss 24 – 200 constant f/2.8 lens.  My DSLR system requires two bulky, heavy lenses to equal what this one lens can do.  And carrying and changing two heavy lenses for my DSLR system is a real pain.  It had gotten so that I seldom ever used the DSLR system unless I was planning an actual photo expedition and even then it was a pain to carry and use.  The smaller, lighter and much easier to carry RX10 has been used every day since purchase and I see no end to the fun.  Technology has apparently passed by my 12 year old DSLR and lenses.  The Sony RX10 makes sharper, higher resolution images. My aging Canon 40D is only capable of resolving 1,700 to 1,800 lines on a standard camera test chart whereas the Sony RX10 is capable of resolving 2,200 to 2,300 lines.

So far I’m very impressed with what I can do with this camera.  I purchased the Think Tank Mirrorless Mover 20 camera bag.  The camera, lens hood, filters, charger and two extra batteries take up just a fraction of the space and weight of my large, heavy DSLR system.   I’m absolutely amazed that the sharpness and image quality easily beat the old heavy DSLR system.  So far this is the most fun to use camera I’ve ever owned.  Combined with the diminutive Sony RX100M3, the two make an ideal pair.  I really do love these two cameras!

I should comment on image stabilization in the RX10.  Image stabilization is a system of highly compliant gyros built in to the lens that compensates for hand-held camera shake movement.  With my old DSLR, the 24-70 lens didn’t have any image stabilization and when using that lens you had to put it on a tripod if you wanted really sharp shots.  The RX10 has a very advanced 5-point image stabilization system that, for me, eliminates the need to carry a tripod around.  The hand-held images I’ve been getting are phenomenally sharp.

I have made a Sony RX10 Gallery Page under the Photo Gallery menu item.  Go take a look and tell me what you think.

Posted in Sony RX10

Windows 10 Preview Build 9926

I’m now running the latest beta build 9926 of Windows 10 Technical Preview.  It’s been a bit of an adventure getting to this point. Two weeks ago before this build was available I decided to go back to Window 8.1 for a while.  Windows 8.1 is mature and runs flawlessly.  The same cannot be said about the Windows 10 Technical Preview.  Of course Microsoft warns you that it’s in beta form and should not be used on a production machine.  I’m still running Windows 8.1 on my Samsung ATIV 700T, so there isn’t a problem as I always have a running machine.

When this version came available I immediately installed it on my Surface Pro 3 and went back to the beta.  For me, working with the beta is a bit of a trial because some things don’t work like they should.  For example it was only yesterday that YouTube videos would play without causing Internet Explorer to crash and close.  The problem was solved with a driver update, but being without YouTube videos for my subscriptions was a real pain. I had to turn on my backup machine.

With build 9926 I’ve found that Internet Explorer is anything but stable. I’ve had it crash any number of times and totally mess up what I was working on. Since I depend on a stable browser for a lot of the things I do, if we don’t get an update for the browser soon I’m going to have to go back to Windows 8.1 yet again.

The stability I needed did not happen for my Surface Pro 3.  Even though I will upgrade to Windows 10 when it is released, Windows 8.1 is giving me the stability I need to do my daily work.  I have no problems with Windows 8.1 whatsoever and like using it.

I may try the Preview again before 10 is released, but as of right now I’m quite happy using Windows 8.1

Posted in Windows 10

Surface Pro 3 and Wi-Fi

There have been a number of articles published concerning problems with the Surface Pro 3 and Wi-Fi connectivity.

I purchased my Surface Pro 3 at the Microsoft Store in Atlanta the day they were introduced on June 20th. At home I have a NetGear Nighthawk R7000 AC 1900 router on a Comcast cable modem. I’ve never seen any WiFi problems whatsoever. Testing on my home setup with an AC connection, my ping averages 10 sec, my download speed averages 30 Mbps and my upload speed averages 6 Mbps. Those results are very consistent. I connect with no problems to WiFi wherever I go throughout the Atlanta area. Speeds vary of course, but connections have been reliable. I’ve connected without problems to WiFi at the public library, the bookstore, several restaurants, the doctor’s office, the dentist’s office and several shopping malls.

Edit: After reading the above I need to add the caveat that since I’ve been running the Windows 10 preview that I’m running a different version of the operating system.

Posted in Surface Pro 3

Windows 10 Preview after 3 Weeks

I’ve been running my Surface Pro 3 on Windows 10 Technical Preview for 3 weeks, so it’s time for an update on how it’s going.  Over a million people have downloaded the Windows 10 preview so there is apparently a lot of interest.

I really like what Microsoft is doing with Windows 10.  I know this is a work in progress and Microsoft is listening to everything that people are saying.  There is a very well done Windows Feedback page and there are sections for just about everything one would want to report on.  When the most reported items are cosmetically related, there can’t be many real problems.

By and large this is a very solid preview and I’ve only had a few reports to Microsoft on some cosmetic details.  I’m anxiously waiting for Adobe to update Photoshop CC and Adobe Bridge CC as the higher resolution of the Surface Pro 3 leaves the software interface almost too small to use.  I still have very good eyesight, but once in a while I have to resort to my Bosch & Lomb magnifying glass when using Photoshop CC.

If I run in to any major problems, I’ll note them here in my blog.

Posted in Windows 10

Windows 10 Technical Preview

I’ve been running the Windows 10 Technical Preview on my Microsoft Surface Pro 3.  I decided to give it a try as it is very easy and quick to set this machine up from scratch again as I keep all my photos and data in the cloud on my Microsoft OneDrive.

I really liked Windows 8/8.1 and had no problems with it.  I know there was a very vocal minority that didn’t like Windows 8 and wanted the start menu back again and didn’t like the feeling of using two different operating systems that didn’t really work well together.  With Windows 10 there’s no longer the feeling of running two separate disjointed operating systems.  Everything runs from the same seamless desktop and you have the feeling you are simply running an upgraded Windows 7 operating system.

The disjointed problem with Windows 8/8.1 has been solved with Windows 10. The boys at Microsoft have managed to accomplish the impossible.   An even better start menu has been brought back and all the “Modern” apps now run just fine in resizable windows just like any other Windows application.  Everything has worked smoothly for me with no real problems which is very surprising as this is a very early preview release.

I still would only recommend Windows 8/8.1 or Windows 10 on a touch screen computer.  For the past 15 years I’ve upgraded operating systems with a new computer at the same time.  I’d not recommend doing it any other way. There always seems to be too many problems with legacy hardware.  I’ll add to this post as I continue to work with Windows 10.  But so far I really like it and highly recommend it, at least on the Microsoft Surface Pro 3.

Posted in Windows 10

My Microsoft Surface Pro 3

I recently purchased a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 (the tablet that can replace your laptop) on June 20, 2014.  I can tell you that the ad you see on TV is spot on.  My Surface Pro 3 has now totally replaced not only my laptop, but my desktop machine as well.

This device is more amazing than any machine I’ve owned in the last 30 years, and I’ve owned literally dozens of computers.  The display has a resolution of 2160 x 1440 and is “retina” quality, as you cannot discern individual pixels with the naked eye.  The display is simply stunning.  For Adobe Photoshop work it is excellent.  DisplayMate testing says that it is one of the most color accurate displays they have ever tested. As I do a lot of work with Photoshop, this is very important to me.

I chose to get an i5 processor with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD drive.  This thing is just flat fast.  If you’ve never experienced Windows on an SSD (Solid State Drive) your really missing out.  There is no physical spinning hard drive or stepper motor running.  It’s totally solid state.  Disk access happens literally instantaneously with no sound whatsoever.

I also have 1 Terabyte of storage on Microsoft OneDrive in the cloud.
What’s a Terabyte you ask?
1000 Kilobytes = 1 Megabyte
1000 Megabytes = 1 Gigabyte
1000 Gigabytes = 1 Terabyte
That’s a lot of storage.

I really like having everything stored on Microsoft OneDrive securely  offsite.  I have Microsoft Office 365 and the default storage for all applications is OneDrive.  There is never the worry of losing all my data and photos if I lose my HD for any reason, whether fire, theft, or anything else you can think of.  It’s really nice to be able to pull up any of my images from anywhere, on any computer, at any time.  I really like Microsoft OneDrive cloud storage.

I bought a sleeve case at the Microsoft Store the day I bought my SP3. When I know I’m just doing a day trip and will be back in the evening, I just use the sleeve as it fits perfectly with only room for the SP3 and my pen. I like the sleeve case a lot. It looks expensive and very professional. Snugg Universal Sleeve Case for 13″ laptops in Black PU Leather. $34.99 at the MS Store.

When I’m gone for a longer period of time I use the Targus A7 Laptop Messenger that has accessory pockets for charger, mouse, etc. BestBuy $44.39

I keep everything clean with microfiber dish cloths that I get from WalMart. Highly recommended. I slightly dampen a corner and wipe off any of those “wear” marks on the keyboard and my keyboard (black) still looks like new. Microfiber immediately absorbs any finger print grease marks on either the SP3 or the keyboard.

Did I mention that I really love this device?

 

Posted in Surface Pro 3

My Sony RX100M3

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For our wedding Anniversary this year, since both Kate and I are avid photographers, we decided to each get a camera that was both portable and made high quality images.  I’ve been a member of the dpReview.com photo website for many years and I’m constantly checking out the camera reviews and I follow several forums where cameras are discussed.   For a couple of years I’ve seen the Sony compact RX100 series of cameras get top reviews and the images were very high quality.  I’ve been using the RX100M3 for over two weeks and I can tell you that all the hype about the camera is true.  To have a camera of this quality small enough to fit in your pocket is nothing short of amazing.  Its really like having a miniature DSLR in your pocket.

Since the RX100M3 has a 1″ high quality BSI (Back Side Illuminated) sensor and a very high quality fast f1.8 Zeiss lens it is capable of making some portrait photos of people, pets, and plants that rival my Canon DSLR gear with professional L-series lenses.

Look at some of my first images under my Photo Gallery menu item RX100M3.

 

Posted in Sony RX100M3

First Entry

This will count as my first entry on my newly configured WordPress site.  Its been quite an adventure the past few weeks deciding on what I would be using to work with my site going forward.  My old site had been dormant for a number of years and my web programming skills had also grown stagnant.  So it was time to do something about it.  The something ended up being a quick read of “WordPress: The Missing Manual”, and deciding that I had found exactly what site development software I wanted to use going forward.  I’ll be adding some of my better photos to the gallery page.  Some of my better photos are on the home page.  Maybe somebody will even stop by my page some day and leave me a comment.  Who knows?  Stranger things have happened!

Posted in Uncategorized