Life is a journey, Enjoy the trip

Surface Pro 3 Quick Review

The Surface Pro 3 is Microsoft’s third version of their tablet device.

The model I reviewed features a 12” touchscreen, an I5 processor, 4gb of ram and 64gb of SSD storage. The unit weighs in at a respectable 1.76lbs

Microsoft is advertising this unit as a laptop replacement, specifically Apples Macbook Air. Having used a MacBook Air for close to two years, I was curious to see if the Surface Pro 3 lived up to the hype.

A first glance the unit does seem very compelling, for many people these days this is all the computer they need. The ability to plug it into a docking station makes it suitable for use as a workstation during the day and then unplug to take home for other uses at night.

The Surface runs Windows 10 and runs it quite well. Performance is similar to a desktop for standard apps like web browsers and Microsoft Office. Video services like Netflix and Youtube also run very well.

Windows 10 will sense if you remove the keyboard and will offer to put the unit into tablet mode, which aids in making the touch interface easier to use.

Tablet mode includes the following features. (List provided by Reddit user “silentcrs”)

  • Keyboard automatically opens
  • Maximizes windows by default.
  • Makes start menu tiles and taskbar targets larger for touch.
  • Allows you to close apps by dragging from the top.
  • Split apps (“see-saw”) equally across the screen when opening two or more apps; lets you resize these apps using the separator bar instead of trying to find the edge of each window.

Now for the stuff that I find annoying.

The keyboard cover is a nice piece of kit with a well-made keyboard with good travel on the keys. Being a keyboard snob, this impresses me quite a bit.

If you are using the surface on a table this works very well. However unlike a laptop there is no way to adjust the position, so working on it anywhere else like your lap is very difficult.

The most annoying thing of the MS Surface experience has to be the power management. In particularly the seemingly random way the surface will decide to go into sleep mode. Now I’m spoiled as I use a MacBook as a primary laptop and the sleep mode there just works. I can close the lid and the unit holds the charge for days. With the surface even though Microsoft has issues updates to fix this issue, sleep mode still is hit and miss. I have found it very frustrated to take the Surface out of the house to find when the battery has been drained. The recommended solution is to shut the unit down complete or try hibernation mode. In short, this is an issue that Microsoft should have solved by now and I’m very disappointed in that.

Overall, if Microsoft can solve the power issues and create a keyboard that could allow me to use the Surface on my lap then it would be a better option for me. It is a very compelling option for some people depending on their work style,

In the end, my perfect machine still does not exist. Something the size and weight of a Mac Air which would allow the screen to flip all the back into a tablet mode.

My thanks to for the use of the review unit.

Forcing a Windows 10 upgrade on users

Microsoft has made no secret of the fact that they want as many PC’s as possible to upgrade to the company’s latest Operating system Windows 10. Having more of your user base on the latest version of your O/S makes sense in many ways.

What is not OK is the manner of which they are doing it. Recently Microsoft made a small change in the way the upgrade notification is displayed. Previously a dialog box would appear on the bottom right of your screen asking you if you wanted to upgrade. Closing this window would prevent the upgrade from happening.

Now they have changed what is in the dialog boxes. You are now presented with a date and time when your PC will be upgraded. The two choices displayed are “Upgrade Now” or “Ok”. Also in very small text just above that is an option to change or cancel the upgrade. Closing the window will still allow the upgrade to proceed at the time displayed. This behavior is very similar to what ‘crapware’ and ‘spyware’ vendors to get people to download their products.

win 10 upgrade 2

I’ve seen many people already hit by this and although many times the upgrade works, it is not right for Microsoft to do this automatically without a clear consent to the user.

For various reasons if you don’t want to upgrade to Windows 10, there is several free utilities that can help. The one I recommend is “Never 10” from Steve Gibson. Steve is a security professional and is highly trusted in the IT world. You download this very small program and then run it. You click on the “Disable Win10 upgrade” button and you are done.

If you decide in future you want the Windows 10 upgrade, you can run the program again and re-enable the upgrade.

The program will also tell you if there are any Windows 10 install files that have already been downloaded and offer to remove them. This can save you several gigs of disk space.

Although Windows 10 has proven to be popular, I’m very disappointed in Microsoft in choosing to engage in this sort of behavior. Fortunately, there are workarounds that can help with this issue.

Commonplace Books


Life has been keeping me very busy so one of the first things that have fallen by the wayside sadly is blogging. We are planning to move house and trying to sort / purge and pack is a very overwhelming task. It appears to have caught up with me as I’ve been sick for the last few days. So I’ve taken cold meds and hopefully, by staying in bed I will heal faster.

I’ve been using this time to catch up on my RSS feed and notice that the Evernote Blog is doing a series on notetaking including commonplace books. A commonplace book is essentially a scrapbook or a journal where one would put ideas or thoughts about subjects one is reading about or learning. In the modern world, Evernote and Pinterest do similar things.

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