Time to update Edge browser outside of OS updates

Edge has an uphill battle but “benefits” as being the default browser in Windows 10.  This is providing that end users don’t try to avoid the ‘e’ browser (because of Internet Explorer).

Having the Edge browser only update with OS updates is a major problem.  It is bad enough that it isn’t in their latest server OS (Windows 2016) and only exists in Windows 10.  It being updated only when a new major build of Windows 10 makes it so IT and vendors will want to stick with other browsers (e.g. Google Chrome).

It is fine for an initial version of Edge to be included in Windows 10 if not already present (in the case of an upgrade).  Allow the Windows Store and/or Windows Update to upgrade Edge with fixes and new features more often, outside of Windows 10 updates.  Too many people are on varying Windows 10 builds (1607, 1703, 1709, and now 1803) and their are difference to Edge on each of these releases.  Developers and support folks will take the easy route and simply point them to use the latest version of Chrome.

If Microsoft wants to make edge more relevant, it is time to update Edge outside of the Windows 10 release schedule.  Oh, and ideally make it work on Windows 7 and 2016.  But that is a different topic.

Microsoft Build 2018 Live

I find it worthwhile, when unable to attend in person, to watch the live streaming keynotes for Microsoft Build and Ignite Conferences.

Today, Microsoft has their Build 2018 conference live streaming.  Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and other members of Microsoft will discuss their future company direction as it relates to technology for us to use and implement as technologists.  There has been a lot of speculation on what will be covered.  A lot of blah, blah, blah.  How about just watching it?

Cinco de Mayo is now behind us and now it is time to freshen up the lost brain cells with some technology?  The Pre-show starts at 8am Pacific Time.  Keynotes start at 8:30am Pacific time.

Be there and be square (we are proud geeks after all)!

Educating Self

There have been times I have seen employees who are frustrated because their employers don’t help them with their education, typically getting paid while getting educated and/or paying for classes. What is sad to see is when they don’t do anything about it, including getting a new job that is more in line with your knowledge hunger or investing in yourself. You can pay for classes or find low cost or free resources. Don’t let an industry, short sighted employer, or controlling manager keep you from advancing. Just the mere act or attitude of fighting for yourself can land you an improved position, better job, or increased credibility.

So where to start? While this is focused on the Windows platform, these approaches are available for Linux and Mac systems. Or even cloud based options using Chrome OS or tablets.

There are news sources such as ZDNet. Microsoft Channel 9 has free video educational content. If you are willing to spend some moola, Pluralsight and ITPro.TV offer rich technical content.

Podcasts are great ways to stay current with technology. TWIT.TV has a bunch of IT-based content. .NET Rocks has great developer information. Using a podcast player (e.g. Pocket Casts is a favorite) on a mobile device allows you to subscribe and play back content while you workout, drive, do house chores, etc.

With development, if your employer hands you a poor performing machine, you can still buy your own home machine with some decent RAM and CPUs (recommend quad cores).  You can freely use Hyper-V on Windows 10 Pro or use VirtualBox to run multiple systems at the same time on the machine. Microsoft offers a lot of free resources to help. You can use Azure for virtualized machines. Visual Studio Community 2017 and Microsoft SQL Server Express are free editions for development and database respectively.

If you want to education credibility, you can work hard to prepare for a Microsoft Certification Exam. Take the right exams to obtain a MTA, MCSA, MCSE, or MCSD (the last one is best for developers) certification. While the exams aren’t free, you can find deals on purchasing multiple exams, typically with time limit restrictions. Or if you are nervous about taking your first exam, you can opt-in for an exam replay (if you fail the first time) or exam replay with practice test.

In short, there is no reason to not educate yourself, whether you are new, need to catch up, want to shift areas, or want to stay current.


Net Neutrality, Early 2018

On 12/14/2017, the FCC changed the rules, effectively eliminating Net Neutrality, so consumers legally lost equal access to all content for a given price based on bandwidth speed and amount of data consumed. With Net Neutrality, we could use the data as we wished, accessing the services desired on the same equal field. Paying for more data or bandwidth allows Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to receive more funds to pay for increased infrastructure improvements while still keeping an equal playing field for all content providers (and ISPs for that matter).

In each market, the internet services providers are essentially a monopoly.  While I could use my mobile carrier’s data, realistically for my data needs, I really only have DSL (one provider) and Cable (one provider).  This constraint is similar for most and for many one or both providers are not especially favorable in the big picture.  Like telecommunication providers before them, they provide the connectivity (or phone back in the day) to the rest of the world and should be treated as a basic essential service.  In reality, Internet access is required to live life such as getting a job, pay bills, monitor credit, research information, do schooling, collaborating, book flights, and so forth.  In essence, Net Neutrality helps people in a manner that is already stacked against them with the ISP monopolies.

One major problem for me is that ISPs also provide content.  They have every incentive to provide poor service to other content providers and give premium access to their content.  They can now charge extra to access outside content so their services look more attractive.  This is a very big conflict of interest.

Fortunately, while untested legally at this point, states are coming to rescue where the FCC (and specifically Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission) has failed us individuals.  They are helping to represent their constituents.  There is overwhelming support by individuals to have Net Neutrality.  People should come before business on basic (essential) services.  Time will tell how this shakes up.  But it is a good idea to keep an eye on what is happening and keep the conversation going.

iPhone X cross out?

The iPhone X has a lot of nice features.  It feels good in the hand.  It has a nice edge-to-edge screen. It is stylish and unique (especially with the notch).

What is problematic about it is numerous.

It has the notch (unique but looks silly, especially until apps catch up, unless you make the screen smaller.  This gives the perception to users that the screen has lost real estate.

It doesn’t have a thumbprint reader, not even on the back.  This is a big deal for daily use.  I am constantly unlocking the phone.  Having to position the screen just right is annoying.  Facial recognition is a good idea, especially if an additional authentication factor could be used (thumbprint and facial recognition for those very security conscious folks).  But it has a hassle factor too.  Now if they had been able to incorporate an under the screen thumbprint reader and been the first mobile phone to market with this feature, that would have earned Apple big innovation points.

It is expensive.  Way too expensive.  The iPhone 8 and 8+ are much less and there are solid Android competitors that are also much less.  Do we really need OLED for a lot more cost?

Siri is terrible.  Granted, this isn’t specific to the iPhone X, but users don’t necessarily know that.  None of the digital assistants are great but Siri is the worst of the mainstream bunch.

The iPhone is still a good device.  It is my favorite for providing support since it is the same for everyone.  The carriers don’t control iOS and the update process.

The iPhone 8 and 8+ are just more realistic devices in the Apple ecosystem in terms of daily features and acquisition cost.

iPhone Batterygate is short term

I generally like Apple products. They are attractive and work well. One complaint that has always been present and kept me from the Mac OS as my primary platform is their dumbing things down too much. When a technical problem arose, they expected users to get help from, well, Apple. Or a reseller. Information on self-help was sparse. They didn’t realize how harmful it was to technical people to have such a closed system. These are the same people that could significantly promote their technology.

And now, they have done it again. They thought they were doing the right thing by providing maximum battery life at the cost of performance. They were thinking for us. They benefited with old phones getting pitched for faster new phones, made more amazing with a greater perceived delta in performance. They didn’t disclose the fact that we could replace batteries to preserve our phones a little longer and reduce “digital waste”.

Apple needs to understand that outside of their fan-base they need to be a lot more transparent.  They could have given us an option to adjust battery life vs performance (how amazing of an option would that have been?!).  They need to understand that we don’t want to have to change our phones every year (or even two) – that should be our individual decision based on our choices absent of manipulation or potential coercion.

In some ways this is similar to VW Dieselgate in that actions were taken to manipulate the system to their benefit and it wasn’t disclosed until an outside person made it known.  I have lived through this debacle thus naturally comes to mind.

While it may not have the same environmental impact, this will cause confidence issues and there will be greater scrutiny into their products.  Apple has spent many years to gain the trust of the typical buyer that wouldn’t purchase a Mac and aren’t apple loyalists.  How this will impact?  Only time will tell.  My guess is that unlike the VW scandal, this shall pass despite the betrayal.  Phones cost a lot less than cars.  Apple still makes a good product that is consistent and easy to support.  The iPhone market hasn’t dropped.  Apple is taking action that helps us now.  While we are temporarily angry (it takes little effort to be indignant while a lot of effort to change our ecosystem) and they have lost long term trust for some, we are now better informed consumers understanding we can take our products to Apple ($29 to replace right now instead of the normal $80) or a 3rd party (accepting risk vs price) for a new battery.  Or we can try to replace ourselves if so bold or interested.  There is no current fix for most of the formerly beloved VW TDIs and likely no Apple employee jail time.

This is also an opportunity for all (including those hurt) to review the other options available (on the Android OS really) to see if Apple still measures up or if it is time to bail and rethink your platform.  Ultimately, the drama will cool off and we will return to our own cool-headed thinking and selection process that represents our best interests for the time being.