Old Things

St. Paul's Church 2015I like to work as a part of old things. Old buildings. Old industries. Old organizations. The farm that my family owns is already on its third generation, the church that I volunteer at and am a member of just celebrated its 150th anniversary last year, and my place of employment is not far behind. Farming, education, and religion are all “old industries” as well (in a sense).

Christmas at St. Paul's ChurchThis is almost anathema today. So often we are pulled to look outside of where we are and to find discontent … with the promise that we will be able to find contentment in the new things that world is offering us today. Sad? Buy a new car! Not feeling content with your job? Then you need to change your job to one of those new and up-and-coming companies! Feeling like you are not fulfilled where you are? Then move away to one of those hip areas in the country! Looking for Christ? Look to that new mega church down the road! Toss all of your past behind and leave those backwards places to your old self and try on this new self today!

MLC WCC 2016The old, the traditional, the stable are things to be cherished and embraced. Our culture tells us to toss out those old things in our lives and bring on the new things without taking into consideration what is being lost in the process. All of the combined decisions and knowledge and meaning of the past is then left behind when we decide that what has come is not worth out time. History is our collective understanding of who we are and where we came from, and tossing all of that history aside because “I know better” or “I don’t need that anymore” is a high form of hubris. How are we to know we know better? Don’t sit there unthinking and without a look toward what can be done better, but don’t sit there and believe that you somehow are able to have a higher understanding.

Now, none of these things are old when considering the entire span of history, but it does a person good to consider the institutions they are a part of and why they are there. Embrace history, embrace the old, embrace the opportunity to work within these established, stable, traditional places and to be a part of something greater than just the here, the now, the transient.

Final Words on the Surface 3

I’ve had the device for over a month now and I think I’ve come to some sort of conclusion on it.

That’s the basics of it. I can’t see the device being all the useful past the current year, and I’d say almost any person with only modest computing needs would be better off with an iPad Air + keyboard combination (if they feel the need for a keyboard). The iPad Air is just a sleeker device overall, feels faster (because it is being asked to do less), and has better battery life. I’ve found myself using the iPad Air more while testing the Surface 3 than I was before I started testing.

This isn’t some sort of blanket verdict on the Surface line of devices or even Windows 10, but I would avoid the Surface 3 at all costs.

Apple Open Sources Swift

Apple finally went ahead and did it!

Today Apple unwrapped their open sourced Swift programming language. Yes, Swift has been around for a while already, but today it was opened up to the community (Engadget link there).

You can find out more at the website but also check out the repositories at GitHub as well. Currently Apple’s GitHub organization houses pretty m much only projects around Swift.

Sadly, on the Linux-side of things, only Ubuntu binaries are available.

So go forth OSS friends and contribute!

Testing a Surface

I recently came into a Microsoft Surface 3 and receiving the device coincided with our office at Martin Luther College considering the purchase of a number of Microsoft Surface Pro devices to deploy to the faculty at our college. So I’ve been testing out this Surface 3 for the past few weeks to see how well it can hold up under some sort of usage along with taking an extended look at what Microsoft has done with Windows 10.

Let’s call it a mixed bag, overall.

Microsoft Surface 3 – Device

  • Surface 3 TabletIt is a rugged device overall. No bend in the frame, kickstand is solid, never have any fear of damaging it when putting in and pulling out of bags.
  • Screen is decent. It is nothing to write home about, but attractive-enough. A Surface Pro 4 is going to get you a significantly better display.
  • It doesn’t act like an iPad. It does not wake instantly, I’m not always sure when to use the “power’ button, etc. … which makes it far more annoying than an iPad. I know it is a hybrid device, but that is an annoyance.
  • Battery life is fine. Definitely not as nice as on my iPad Air, but not terrible either.
  • Ports are limited. Oh well, I try not to use ports as often as I can.
  • You charge it through a mini USB cable, which is really annoying. Apple’s iOS devices and the Lightning port have spoiled me. I’m hoping USB-C is better, but for now, the charging is a ton more annoying than on any Apple device. I know the Surface Pro has a better port, but I don’t have one right now.
  • The Keyboard Cover is fine as well. I like how it doubles as the cover and the keys are fine, if mushy and extremely loud. Turning it around on the back is fine, but make grain the Surface a little annoying because you are grabbing keys along the way.
  • Trackpad is bad. Just bad.
  • I haven’t had a lot of time to test the camera (no need), but they are just fine.
  • Overall the device is quite slow compared to even an iPad Air. Of course it can do more, but responsiveness can be sluggish and I believe that the Intel Atom x7 processor can be blamed for it. The Surface Pro 4 should provide a lot more oomph in comparison.

Overall, it is a fine device. It is rugged, which is the most important part. It is obviously cheaper, and that makes it quite limited.

Windows 10 – Operating System

  • Surface 3 OpenMicrosoft has done an admirable job attempting to marry the tablet and laptop.
  • Windows 10 is still quite buggy, but each release squashes a few more of those. The Surface 3 still has some problems figuring out when it is waking from sleep/hibernate and that can mean it gets caught in between things and I need to force the login screen again. Annoying.
  • While Microsoft’s work is admirable, it is a strange marriage at times. Some things work well with a touch input, and then not as well with a cursor … but then you switch to tablet mode and things are reversed. Actions are not that understandable at first, with some apps hiding their toolbar so that you need to swipe from the top … there are many hidden features like that.
  • I had the Threshold II update (1511) fail at first so I needed to download the ISO and upgrade myself. Annoying.
  • Windows 10, overall, needs more time to cook to get the kinks worked out. Edge needs some more work as well.

Overall

The Surface 3 with Windows 10 is an interesting device combination. It works relatively well, but there are still some issues that need to be worked out.

One huge pain source is just the software available for Windows 10. The catalog of software cannot hold a candle to what is available on OS X and iOS as far as integration across devices and quality. Part of that is my affinity for Apple-like software, and part of it is the difference in the ecosystems between Microsoft and Apple.

The Surface 3 is a decent hybrid device. It is a lousy tablet in comparison to the iPad but an okay small laptop (compared to the MacBook Air, perhaps).

Windows 10 is along the same lines. It is a good hybrid operating system (and one of the only ones). However, it isn’t as good on a tablet as iOS or as good on a desktop machine as OS X is.

I’m looking forward to getting my hands on a Surface Pro 4 soon to see how it fares as well. Watching Microsoft continue to move forward with Windows 10 will be something to watch as well. The Surface 3 is not something I would run out to get, but it has been an interesting experiment to see how another computing ecosystem works.

I will continue to carry it with me for now and see if I can find a way to use it more as time goes on.