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    “This is a test. This is only a test.”
    Although still in the beta phase of its lifecycle, I think Metro Mail deserves some attention. It is after all from the makers of Metro Talk, arguably the premier Google Voice app on the Windows Phone platform. After signing up to the Google Group, I have been using the app since early October. It is getting closer and closer to a final release. Is it what Gmail users need when using a Windows Phone 8 device?
    The App

    Why  someone will use this app over the native client, per the developers...

    First-class support for archiving, starred emails, and labels
    No more broken threads when replying to emails
    Proper search functionality
    Support for multiple From addresses
    Select a specific label (e.g. Primary) to display on tile of each account
    Select a specific label for all configured accounts, or for a specific account, for displaying on the main tile and on the lock screen
    Properly display long HTML emails
    Since the initial release, they have added…

    Download/view attachments
    Proper live tile support
    Push notifications
    Added ability to enable toast notifications, in addition to the live tile updates
    Added ability to cancel downloading attachments
    Added support for non-GDR2 devices
    Another attempt to fix scrolling when typing a new email (still not perfect!)
    Various bug fixes
    Microsoft and Google aren’t exactly best friends. Windows Phone 8 devices do offer the ability to sync a Gmail account and leverage email, contacts and calendars. However, there is no push support for Gmail within the stock client. There are also some key Gmail features missing. Metro Mail hopes to bring to life the things Gmail users love.
    For more, you can find the Google Group here.
    The Experience
    Starting the app yields tabbed screens that you can swipe between using left and right gestures. I set it up so I can switch between my Inbox and Sent Mail. However, you can add tabs for everything from All Mail, to Chats, Circles, Deleted Items, personal folders and more. It is really nice to have this kind of control over labels. Besides being able to Manage Labels, hitting the three dots also allows you to Switch Accounts. Yes, you can have multiple Gmail accounts setup with one app. Separate tiles can be pinned to start for each account. Settings gives users options to enable and disable both Live Tiles and Toast Notifications. A Signature can be edited and enabled or disabled as well. One last nice setting is the ability to control the behavior of the back button. If left off, the back button will eventually exit the app. However, you can enable an option to keep the back from only navigating within the app. If enabled, you have to leave the app using the three dots and tap Exit (or the multitasking button). I leave it disabled so the app behaves like every other Windows Phone app, but it is nice to have options.
    [gallery link=file" ids="1414,1412,1404,1403,1409,1410]
    The email list is simple. Sender name, subject and part of the first line of each email can all be found left justified. The date received along with the ability to Star an email are on the right. Clicking an email adds additional details, and displays the message in a web based view. It seems to work very well, and images are disabled on a per email basis unless you chose to show them. The top right has a quick reply button, with an option to included selected text. There are also three vertical dots that allow quick access to Reply All and Forward. At the bottom of an email, you can change the label, delete or archive it. There is also a mark unread option.
    [gallery link=file" ids="1402,1401,1409,1410,1407,1408]
    Back on the email listing (home screen) you can create a new email, trigger the ability to mass select emails via checkboxes, change your view (labels) and search. New emails can be created easily, with an option to show CC & BCC on command. Selecting emails via checkboxes has become standard fare. Search works well as it searches emails stored on the Gmail servers, and not just on your phone. Many apps seem to lack this ability from my experience. Everything is fast, responsive and pleasant to use.
    The Verdict
    I don’t know what Metro Mail will cost when it comes out of beta and hits the Windows Phone Store. But I know I will buy it. It is one of the best email experiences I have had on the platform. Gmail is a great service, and Metro Mail gives it a nice home on Windows Phone. Although the stock experience is fine, it is nice that power users can some of the options they have been longing for. Labels are very important to power users. Image heavy emails seems to render better with Metro Mail as well. Hopefully, everyone will be able to give it a try soon!

    We are talking antivirus AGAIN for Windows Home Server.  There is a nasty virus called CryptoLocker and I'll tell you the details and how to stay away from it.  Also, the streaming pack is out for Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials.  A couple of news items on this very short podcast but I hope you enjoy! See you in the forums.

    FlipBoard - Home Storage Geeks http://flip.it/LsCjB
    Surface Geeks - http://flip.it/PcEU

    JoliCloud 2
    This pack enables the media streaming functionality for Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials.
    Malware Bytes
    Tons of links on the CryptoLocker malware.







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    I just finished posting a photo gallery and the unboxing video for the Dell Venue 8 Pro and I ran across a post by Dr. Pizza (Peter Bright) on the Surface Pro 2.  In his post he did a performance test of the Surface Pro and the Pro 2 with Sunspider and Kraken.  I thought this would be a good way to measure the performance of the Venue 8 Pro since his numbers are nice and fresh.  Here is his post over on ars technica. Read it please, it's good.  The first two numbers are from the article.
    Kraken (lower = better)
    Surface Pro - 3142
    Surface Pro 2 - 2676
    My 2 year old Core i7 - 1822.1
    Lets not forget that the Venue 8 Pro is an Atom Processor.  The Z3740D at up to 1.8Ghz is not going to turn in the numbers of the Pro hardware.  It does give you a number that you can compare to some of your own systems though.  Are you ready for the number?
    Dell Venue 8 Pro - 8451.6
    I don't have much laying around to compare this to.  How about a cheap Chromebook?  Celeron 847 at 1.1Ghz. - 4365.5
    Surface RT - 24,635.5 (not a fair test at all but I know someone would ask)
    What do you get on an Atom processor? Check here:  http://krakenbenchmark.mozilla.org/
    I'll continue to play and test with this 8" tablet but wanted to show you a little fun I had with it.  Halo 1?  Stay tuned for more real world tests of the Dell Venue 8 Pro.

    John, Darren, and Dave are back and talking about the Dell Venue 8 Pro and the Surface 2. One crazy show that jumps around like mad.  I think we discussed every single mobile product on the market.  Not as long as last week and a lot of fun!  See you in the forums.
    Twitter: Darren Cohen, David McCabe, John Wiskowski
    Dell Venue 8 Pro Unboxing and Photo Gallery
    Surface 2 – A Personal Experience Review
    Giant Surface 2 lands in Trafalgar Square, The UK welcomes Surface 2 to the market, Microsoft News Centre UK, October 24, 2013
    Microsoft Surface Pro Docking Station Arrives Early, Information Week, Michael Endler, October 27, 2013
    Connect Surface to a wired network
    You can connect Surface Pro or Surface Pro 2 to a wired network using the Surface Ethernet adapter.
    Quick Look – Dr. Nick Patel On Using Surface Pro In The Hospital, Surface Blog, October 29, 2013
    Quick look – What’s new in Touch Cover 2, Surface Blog, October 28, 2013
    Microsoft disputes tests that suggest Windows 8.1 has a battery life problem, PCWorld, Mark Hachman, October 30, 2013
    Microsoft provides fix for battery issues found by some Surface RT owners,
    Microsoft partners with Corona Labs to attract more Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 apps, ZDNet, Mary Jo Foley, October 29, 2013
    Qualcomm: We're betting on Windows for third-place in mobile, ZDNet, Zack Whittaker, October 27, 2013
    As Microsoft Looks On, Nokia Reports a Rise in Smartphone Sales, Bits Blog NYTimes, Mark Scott, October 29, 2013
    Nokia Corporation Interim Report for Q3 2013 and January-September 2013, Nokia Corporation, October 29, 2013
    Microsoft seeks EU approval for $7.5B Nokia takeover, ZDNet, Zack Whittaker, October 30, 2013
    Still kicking: Nokia has yet another Lumia phone in the works, BGR, Zach Epstein on Oct 28, 2013
    Two Microsoft Q1 FY2014 charts you'll want to see, ZDNet, Mary Jo Foley, October 24, 2013
    Microsoft's Q1 shines; Enterprise rolls along; Windows 8.1 wait and see, Larry Dignan, October 24, 2013
    Microsoft Names Exec to Top Skype Post, All Things D, Kara Swisher, October 29, 2013
    Microsoft updates Windows Phone App Studio with Fast Resume, FlipView, NFC, native phone functions, and Ad SDK, The Next Web, Emil Protalinski, October 30, 2013
    Nokia tweets teaser of Instagram for Windows Phone on a Lumia 1020, The Next Web, October 28, 2013
    Windows Phone platform receives new support for IT and Viber app receives update, WinBeta, Alan Buckingham, October 29, 2013
    Microsoft says its Remote Desktop app for Android, iOS, and OS X passed 1 million downloads in 12 days, The Next Web
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    I ordered the Dell Venue Pro on October 18th which I assume was the first day to order the device from Dell and was delighted to see the estimated ship date to be October 30th.  I got an email on the 28th saying the device was still in production and to expect arrival on November 8th.  I got another email on the 29th saying it has shipped and to expect it on the 31st.  As I write this, the device is on a FedEx truck somewhere near me.[gallery ids=1383,1382,1381,1380,1379,1378,1377,1376,1375,1372,1373,1374]
    On the afternoon of the 29th @davydthomas sent me a tweet saying Wal-Mart had the Venue 8 Pro.  I called the nearest store and sure enough they had 3.  I left immediately and picked one up.  I asked about the stylus and case but they didn't know if they had them or not.  I searched around and didn't see them.

    Here is the unboxing video.  I've started it at the 5:30 second mark because there was a lot of talking explaining the story prior to that point.  Rewind if you want to.  I was told that this is the first Unbox video of the Venue 8 Pro so that is a cool first.  I wish I would have known that as I did the unbox Live on YouTube via G+ Hangouts so people could watch live.  I interacted with the chatroom a lot instead of  just doing the unbox.  My apologies if it seems to chatty.
    There is more to come so stay tuned. Ask questions in the forums!


    The SmartGlass Is Half-Full

    By Dave, in Surface Geeks,

    When the Chromecast device was announced this summer, I listened as a Microsoft enthusiast attempted to throw a wet blanket on it.  “We have SmartGlass” was his response.  Wow, I thought, have you ever used it?  Even subtracting all of the hype that I’d heard about Chromecast, I really couldn’t think of classifying it as something that already existed in the Microsoft ecosystem…and SmartGlass, really?
    Forest and Trees
    Are we so enthusiastic that we can’t see beyond our windows?  Full disclosure – although many rightly accuse me of having a Microsoft bias – I can usually diffuse this by admitting that my preference is really OS/2 and Lotus Notes.  While that translates to having been around for a while, it’s also reminds me of a time when I considered Microsoft to be the evil empire.  I recall vividly that Windows NT – and specifically Exchange – was classified as the ‘Notes Killer’.  Fast-forward many years to when Ray Ozzie joined Microsoft – and hell had truly frozen over.  Heck, even Paul Thurrott recently admitted that Ray Ozzie got it right!
    Chrome Polish
    I ordered a Chomecast device in August and received it recently.  I installed it – overcoming some baffling setup problems on a Windows PC – by using an old Android device…go figure.  It’s working great.  While I had to install the Chrome browser (grrrr) I’m impressed by the ‘cast’ icon and how well it works.  Casting through the iPad YouTube app is even more impressive.  The audio and video quality is fantastic.  What a great experience!

    The experience is far from SmartGlass in its current version.  I’ve been a Surface RT user since day one and have an Xbox 360 in the house.  I still can’t figure out what SmartGlass does and can only keep the faith that it will become a platform for future development.
    Play To

    Having a collection of music that resides on a Windows Server 2012 Essentials box, I make frequent use of the ‘Play To’ feature in Windows RT.  Although I’ve had to utilize a work-around to enable my devices to work with ‘Play To’ in Windows RT, it’s something I consider a positive differentiator when comparing ecosystems.  Microsoft backs the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) and it works as planned.  Did DLNA proliferate as it should have – definitely not.  Most digital home audio systems today reside within various closed ecosystems – Apple TV, Pandora, Spotify, etc.  And while I understand the appeal of streaming – hey, I really like the new Xbox Music service – I still have a lot of media that I want to manipulate within my own private cloud household.
    What’s A Media Center
    I have a dream for my Windows 8 devices.  Having spent some time with the official 8.1 release – and the preview before it – it’s unfortunate that my DLNA devices throughout the house are still in the ‘not certified’ category.  What this means is that I’ll have to employ the registry change yet again to ensure that my DLNA-compliant devices are compliant with what I’d consider to be the pre-eminent DLNA ecosystem out there – Windows.  Sigh.
    So let’s get this right – I have Windows 8 Pro Media Center edition that has to be significantly altered to work with other DLNA-compliant devices.  I also have a SmartGlass app that I’m still quizzical about.  Think about this from the typical home consumer users’ perspective.  Could you talk your mom through a registry edit to ensure that her tablet can use the ‘play to’ feature? I hope that Microsoft sees the potential in using the Surface as a media controller for the home environment.  I think that the Surface Remix Project shows promise in positioning Surface as having more potential than what we currently see.
    Get To The Point
    I believe that we have the origins of a great Chromecast-like device.  Yes, we paid more for them (Xbox, Surface and a Windows Phone) but they have potential.  But the Chromecast is $35…yes $35! So let’s get serious.  The ecosystem needs to work easily out of the box.  Let’s start sending media content to our TVs via Internet Explorer on our Surface or WP8.  Let’s determine exactly how to integrate the Xbox One with our other Windows 8 devices.  How about integrating DLNA features with WP8 – allowing manipulation of Xbox content from a stream, SkyDrive or our server’s shares. And – most importantly – let it function so that our mothers can do it.

    A week ago, I expected to have so much to say about the Surface 2. Fast forward, and I simply don’t. I am going to provide my thoughts on from using the Surface 2. However, I also have to explain why I no longer have it. The Surface 2 could be the perfect device for you, and one day, could be the perfect device for me. Today just isn’t that day.

    Listen to our latest podcast here. You’ll see and hear the excitement I had for holding the device. The VaporMg casing feels superior in its raw form. The texture and temperature of the in hand experience is second to none. Although marginally so, it truly does feel lighter. The screen is beautiful, and for photos and videos it shines. However, the Surface RT screen can hold its own for other tasks. The kickstand seems to work better when used at both the old and new angle. I know that doesn’t make sense, but it is how it feels. “Lapability" is better, but still lacking. One still needs to work around the Surface 2, as opposed to it working around them. Oddly enough, more people commented on the Surface RT than the Surface 2 when proper up on my desk. I think the Surface 2 looks fresh, but some perceptions clearly differ.
    I used the same case for the Surface 2 that I bought for the Surface RT. Being able to share and  reuse accessories is nice. But I will note here that weight begins to add up. A Surface 2, plus a Type Cover 2, placed in a case with a few extra items is not feather light. I leaned towards Surface like tablets because of weight concerns. In my experience, a Surface 2 with a type Cover 2 rivals some thin and light ultrabooks. The Sony Vaio Pro 11 and MacBook Air 11-inch come to mind.
    It’s faster. The Surface 2 can multitask more seamlessly. It loads and buffers music, photos and videos very well. Apps load quicker. However, there is still that inherent lag when loading Modern UI apps for the first time. It is an improved an experience, but I grew to get used to the Surface RT’s loading times. I know apps load faster on the Surface 2, but not fast enough. Surface RT has seen countless OS and firmware upgrades over the last year. The circa 2013 Tegra 3 inside the Surface RT has been maximized to its full potential. I can’t say the same about this year’s Tegra 4 today. But I am sure it’ll get better over time. ALthough Qualcomm insists their chipset in the Lumia 2520 will prevail.
    Battery life is hit or miss. And not just for me, but with top blogs reporting polarizing findings. Some reviewers see 6-hours on average, with others quoting 14-hours in battery rundown tests. In general, I believe it is about the same as the Surface RT. I also owned a third-party Windows RT tablet, the Samsung Ativ Tab (imported from the UK). That device blows away both the Surface RT and Surface 2 in terms of battery life. The Qualcomm SoC also performed somewhere in between the Tegra 3 and Tegra 4 in my real world experiences. For most people, the Surface 2 needs to last all day. I’d prefer having two day battery life, for the rare moments you can’t put in on the charger. Long story short, your mileage may vary. Don’t forget it can take days or weeks to fully break in the battery of any device you buy.
    Windows 8.1 on a Surface RT versus a Surface 2 is virtually no different. I didn’t find one thing I couldn’t do on one versus the other. Windows 8.1 is a great upgrade to the veteran OS, and it offers the best of both a laptop and tablet. The desktop in Windows 8.1 is easier to use, and Modern UI “Start Screen” tiles and apps offer users more options and control over their experiences. It also appears many new features are waiting to be unearthed by developers. Developers should be able to provide better updates, and even websites can join in the fun with Internet Explorer (IE) 11 offering web-based live tile support. This means websites “pinned to Start” can have live tiles that behave like local apps.
    Apps are still an issue. Many will argue that I am wrong. They will say IE11 is a great browser, and websites offer users everything they need. Personally, if I wanted to live in a browser, I’d get a Chromebook. Chrome is by far more versatile for a web-based life. IE11 is decent, but the navigation between tabs, favorites, and pages themselves are lacking. I want new and unique applications customized for the Surface and similar devices. It was nice to get Facebook this month, and to know Flipboard is coming soon. But iOS, Android, and even Chrome offers apps and utilities for things above and beyond social networking and news readers. Listeners to the podcast will know that although not technically “needed”, a healthy app ecosystem is nice to have. I want to check-in at Great Clips, book my flight and have my boarding pass for JetBlue, access my home Time Warner DVR, Cisco VPN into my office, and listen to podcasts how I want to. Among many, many other things.
    I only bought one official accessory. The Type Cover 2 in purple. It is highly lusted after, thanks to Microsoft making them hard to pre-order online. I scored one before Surface 2 launch day at my local Best Buy. It worked almost just as well on the Surface RT as the Surface 2. My Surface RT didn’t display as many options for the trackpad as the Surface 2. (I tried the app found on the Windows Store, and searching for new updates with it attached.) The keyboard on the Type Cover 2 is very good for being as thin as it is. The trackpad however might as well not even be there. Ok, that is a bit harsh. It is probably better to have something to use when navigating desktop based apps either locally or via RDP. But it is too small for my hands, and too unresponsive and unpredictable to be useful for more than a click or two. Now I know why the iPad, Android tablets and even some Windows 8 tablets come only with a keyboard.
    Thanks to bluetooth and the full-sized USB port, you can have wired and wireless options. If tracking is important to you, definitely consider an external mouse. I have the Microsoft Wedge Mouse, but the new bluetooth enabled Arc Mouse looks compelling as well.  Any bluetooth and USB RF-based pointing devices should work. The USB port is the best feature of the Surface family. Other devices lean towards micro-USB. Having the “real thing” allows one to grab an accessory and go. I use a USB powered Qi-charger for my Lumia 925. Also, my AT&T Bean LTE dongle works as well. However, driver issues still plague some Windows RT “certified” devices. Windows On Arm "connected standby" support is the root cause, and it has been a problem for other devices as well.
    My Issues
    The USB “connected standby” issues plaguing my AT&T Beam LTE dongle are definitely a downer. AT&T and Netgear state they support Windows RT, but that support seems minimal. No one wants their displays to not turn off when they hit the sleep/wake button, let alone when the display sleep time limit is reached. If you leave the dongle attached and walk away from the Surface RT or Surface 2, the display can be left on for hours. There goes your battery life.
    Speaking of battery life, my Surface 2 barely go me through a day. And one day, I had a serious problem with the battery. I left my Surface 2 with Type Cover 2 attached and on the charger overnight. Before leaving the house around 8:30am, I put them it my case and left for work. I was so busy that day, I didn't get a chance to use the Surface 2 until 1:30pm. The remaining power was down to 40%. In 5-hours, sitting unused, the device burned through 60% of its battery. Unacceptable.
    On launch day, I played around with the Type Cover 2 a few times. Twice, when attaching the Type Cover 2 the Surface 2 froze. The only way to resolve that was to completely power off the device. However, I did receive a day one firmware update that resolved the freezing issue. The firmware update also squashed some software bugs I witnessed with screen refresh times and display sleep/wake performance. Some third-party apps still didn't behave as well as I would have liked. Various apps had scrolling, loading, and sat syncing issues.
    My Surface 2 and Type Cover 2 went back to Best Buy shortly before completing this review. I am confident additional Windows RT OS/driver updates and Surface 2 firmware updates will resolve most, if not all of the issues I saw. I am sure developers will be updating their apps to better support Windows RT 8.1. But I don’t want to wait. I need to get work done on my mobile devices now more than ever. In my opinion, the Surface RT offers a more stable experience than the Surface 2. The Surface 2 does not offer enough new features or improvements to justify upgrading. If you have a Surface RT, keep enjoying it. Maybe give the Surface 2, and the Surface family which is likely to grow in numbers, another look in a few months. I must be clear that others aren’t reporting the issues I have found with the Surface 2. Maybe I had a lemon? Or am not used to early adopter issues like these? Don’t just take my word for it. Visit a local retailer and check out a Surface 2 for yourselves. But if you have a Surface RT today, upgrade to Windows 8.1 and know you likely have the most stable experience available on the platform today.

    This is a monster episode.  Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 are out and we are talking about each one.  We also talk some on the Dell Venue Pro 8 which we will have by next week.  We answer a viewer question about which device to choose and then jump into the Nokia news.  The 1520, 1320, and 2520.  Will RT survive? Why did Nokia put this device out?  A little more on the Android test and Microsoft vs. Apple.  The battle continues.  All on Surface Geeks 43.  It's a long one!
    Twitter: Darren Cohen, David McCabe, John Wiskowski

    of this podcast. 
    Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 tablets now available in 21 countries, Engadget, Jon Fingas, October 22, 2013
    Microsoft's Surface 2 midnight launch has everything but buyers, ZDNet, Nick Statt, October 21, 2013
    Microsoft ships Surface 2 tablets to lukewarm reviews, PCWorld, Mark Hachman, October 22, 2013
    Microsoft's real Surface 2 competitor: Nokia's Lumia tablet, Mary Jo Foley, All About Microsoft, October 22, 2013
    Nokia Lumia 2520 tablet hands-on: Windows RT wrapped in polycarbonate, Engadget, Brad Molen, October 22, 2013
    Nokia Lumia 2520 10-inch tablet unveiled with Windows RT and LTE for $499, Engadget, Brad Molen, October 22, 2013
    Nokia unveils Windows tablet, supersized smartphones, USA Today, Edward C. Baig, October 22, 2013
    Nokia YouTube of the 2520, and here.
    Nokia Lumia 1520 YouTube video
    AT&T will have exclusive on Nokia 1520 in the US, will sell the 2520 tablet also (update), Engadget, James Trew, October 22nd, 2013
    AT&T product page omits wireless charging for the Nokia Lumia 1520, Windows Phone Central, Daniel Rubino, October 23rd, 2013
    Apples and oranges, Microsoft Blog, Frank Shaw, Corporate Vice President of Communications at Microsoft, October 23, 2013
    Apple Exploits Microsoft Hesitation on Office, NYTimes Bits Blog, Nick Wingfield, October 22, 2013
    Apple's newest biz strategy: Free, free, free, CNet, Richard Nieva, October 23, 2013
    Windows 8.1 launch weekend plagued by some show-stopping installation issues, PCWorld, Brad Chacos, October 21, 2013
    Microsoft Releases Fix for Surfaces Bricked by Windows RT 8.1 Update, All Things D, John Paczkowski,, October 21, 2013
    Surface Pro 2 and Surface 2 trail behind OS X, iOS and Android in battery life tests, ZDNet, Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, October 22, 2013
    Fingers are pointing at Windows 8.1 as tests show that both the Surface Pro 2 and Surface 2 tablets trail behind OS X, iOS and Android devices when it comes to battery life.
    Microsoft Confirms That The Desktop Start Screen Tile Is No Longer The Default In Windows RT 8.1, TechCrunch, Alex Wilhelm, October 23, 2013
    Instagram isn’t the only great app coming to Windows Phone. Here’s the full list from Nokia World, Windows Phone Blog, Michael Stroh, October 22, 2013
    Microsoft pulls some Windows Phone web 'apps' following complaint, The Verge, Tom Warren, October 23, 2013
    Southwest Airlines tells Microsoft to remove its Windows Phone 'WebApp', Neowin.net, John Callaham, October 22, 2013
    Instagram will finally make its Windows Phone debut 'in the coming weeks', Engadget, Mat Smith, October 22, 2013
    Nokia Camera app now available to download, combines Smart and Pro Cam, Tom Warren, October 22, 2013
    Review: Sony Vaio Tap 11 - The Windows 8 tablet to beat, Windows Phone Central, Michael Archambault, October 19th, 2013
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    With Windows 8.1 installed on it, it is an even a more capable device that it was before. At $349, it’ll be hard to match in build quality and usability in a tablet form factor. On Tuesday, I will finally get my hands on the Surface 2. I expect Microsoft to take something good, and make it great. While you read this post, hopefully the official reviews are hitting the web. I plan to review it as well, once I get enough hands on time. But for now, I’d like to highlight what I’ll be looking to get out of the Surface 2.
    Expected Improvements

    Screen: To be honest, I never expected to enjoy the Surface screen as much as I do. Even though it is considered “low res” by today’s standards, the overall quality is very good. 1080p is always nice to have, as are the forthcoming color accuracy improvements. The screen is good, but I know it will get even better.
    Speed: Somehow, I have grown to get past the overall performance of the Surface RT. But I cannot wait to get my hands on the Surface 2 and its Tegra 4 processor. I want to never see lag. That might not happen, but multitasking and first launch of my key apps should be much improved. Gaming should be much improved, and should allow for some stellar looking time wasting.
    Kickstand: For me, the current stand angle is near useless. It works great when I want to prop the Surface on a table to show it off. But when I try to use it… forget it. I have high hopes for the additional kickstand angle coming with Surface 2. It probably won’t be perfect, but at least I won’t have to hunch over my desk to use it. “Lapability” is nonexistent for me today, and I hope I can start using it on my lap more with the improved kickstand.
    Look/Feel: The current Surface looks nice, but black is so last year. I think the new color will help make the device stand out even more. It’ll look great with the various Type Cover 2 colors. Although considered only negligibly lighter, I hope it feels better in hand. The current black coating can be very slippery. Perhaps the untouched VaporMg will feel even better.
    SkyDrive: With 200GB of extra storage space, SkyDrive should become my de facto online storage/backup solution. Today I am half in between SkyDrive and Google Drive. I expect that to change starting Tuesday.
    Hopeful Improvements             

    Apps: Surface 2 won’t support any applications that other models already don’t. If the Surface family, and Windows 8.1 tablets in general start selling better, we will hopefully see more apps. And not just more apps, but regularly updated apps as well. Apps can impact the user experience more than anything else. We need dedicated developers capable of making a profit off their user base.
    Battery: I had a Samsung ATIV Tab (Windows RT) tablet. The battery was insanely great. The specs were similar to the Surface RT, but it ran a Qualcomm SoC versus NVIDIA. I could easily get 2-3 days usage off the charge. On my Surface RT, I usually need to charge it nightly. Hopefully, the 10-hour rating of the Surface 2 is a conservative number.
    Connected Standby: Long story short… my AT&T Beam wasn’t supported by the Surface RT’s “connected standby” mode, then it was for a few days, and then it wasn’t again. After talking to Netgear, AT&T and Microsoft, no one knows what is going on. But I do know, drivers and firmware play a role. Hopefully Surface 2 is more compatible with USB devices, and the “connected standby” state. Even if it isn’t, I hope device sales are high enough to encourage manufactures (and Microsoft themselves) to update device-specific firmware and drivers.*
    Accessories: We all expect a ton from the new accessories. I hope they all pan out, and really make the Surface family the best devices for both work and play. The original Touch Cover received mixed reviews, and the new version 2 is apparently much better. Type Covers have always been decent, but the new thinner, lighter and backlit version should be even more useful. Everything else announced will be key to a select group of use cases, and I hope they all come through.

    What’s Next?

    I was fortunate to pick up a Type Cover 2 (in purple) from a local store on Sunday.
    I should get my Surface 2 on Tuesday, October 22nd.
    Look for a Surface Geeks podcast on or before Wednesday night.
    More posts, with attention focused on the Surface 2, the accessories and Modern UI “Metro” applications.
    Don’t worry, I’ll get back to phones soon enough. (Bandit, maybe?)
    * The AT&T Beam works very well. However, whenever it is attached to my Surface RT, my display won’t turn off. The wake/sleep button doesn’t function, and “Sleep” is not available from the Power charm. The oddity is that everything worked fine for a few days. Surface RT firmware or drivers must have changed. All the companies involved were helpful, but no one seems to have enough experience using devices like this under Windows RT. Although it is officially supported, most testing seems to be under Windows 8/8.1 (x86). “Connected standby” won’t engage because the device, when attached, is listed as not supporting the power state.

    A lot to cover in a short amount of time on this show. New gear and a lot of media related topics tonight.  I almost forget the lead! A new bare metal backup option is available for you although it will be for a limited crowd.

    homestoragegeeks.com & thegeeksnetwork.com coming soon
    Happy Windows 8.1 Release Eve
    Lian Li Double Wide
    UR3 for Server 2012 Essentials
    KB 2862551 Article for UR3
    New Synology Box - The DS214 is moving from a single-core to a dual-core processor; and the revision has brought with it read and write speeds above 100MB/s. It's also following in the line of the 13+ series by adding tool-less drive bays; which make installation a lot less laborious.
    New WD Sentinel Announced  - Check them out here
    Update on Recorded TV HD on Windows 8.1
    Recorded TV HD WILL WORK on Windows 8.1 RTM after installing GA Rollup A.
    Remote Potato 2014
    WindowSMART 2013, Home Server SMART 2013 and Home Server SMART Classic
    Matt Sawyer on HSS 216
    New Roku’s
    Bare Metal backups for 2008 R2 and above
    Vint Cerf
    A New Case maybe? A stacker!

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    Twitter: Darren Cohen, David McCabe, John Wiskowski
    Darren is away and now Dave and John can really complain about Podcast apps on Windows Phone 8!  That'll show ya Darren!  Tons to talk about this week ahead of Windows 8.1 dropping. New tablets to consider and getting ready for next week.  Surface 2 is almost here!
    FYI - John's audio is quiet until about 2:40 into the show.
    GDR What?  GDR3 rocketed out quickly behind GDR2 on AT&T. What was the holdup, AT&T?
    Driving Mode on NBC
    A Lumia925 story, 520 is popular, and my 928 is jealous.
    Here comes Windows 8.1 - Upgrading, purchasing, store shelves, costs, etc.
    Lenovo Miix 2
    Microsoft Blog on the Miix 2
    ZDNet on the Miix 2
    What are your thoughts on 8" full Windows tablets?  Let us know in the forums.
    Remember the  W3?
    Midnight madness for Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2.
    Four new Windows Apps?
    Limitations of the new Movie editor app
    Don’t fight, just switch. New Phone?
    One Note desktop shortcuts
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    October 14, 2013 was a big day. Windows Phone 8 Update 3, formerly known as GDR3, hit the street. Many sites announced the arrival of the newest update to our beloved OS, and others offer walkthroughs of the features. However, what does it really mean for the Windows Phone 8 platform?
    First there were hints. Then the official announcement came. Before too long, users could find out how to install GDR3 on their Lumia devices here. I quickly jumped at the chance to install the update on my Lumia 925. It was the fastest and most seamless OS update I have ever performed. (And this is from a guy coming from iOS!)
    When Microsoft first announced Windows Phone 8, I had high hopes they could beat Android and fully match iOS’ ability to offer operating system updates to all without carrier intervention. It used to be believed that OEM customizations to Android slowed everything down. Windows Phone 8 confirmed it was the carriers that held up OS updates. I had hoped Microsoft could match Apple’s power to dictate terms. Carrier locked devices, specifically those on AT&T and to some extent Verizon, had to wait months before getting the same features and fixes international variants received. I knew this before jumping ship and coming aboard the Windows Phone train. Hence my choice of a carrier and SIM unlocked, French variant of the Lumia 925.
    Microsoft struck a huge win on Monday, when they announced the Windows Phone Preview for Developers. The name is slightly misleading, as it is open to basically everyone and anyone with a compatible device. Part of me thinks AT&T knew about this, and delayed releasing GDR2 to their customers as they likely also tested GDR3 as well. God forbid 3.4 out of every 100 phones on their network had something other than carrier approved software. I guess they don’t care about the buggy TouchWiz and LG UIs over Android 2.x to 4.x, nor iOS7’s crazy blue screening on millions of iPhone 5S devices. (Amazing!) We all know network stability has nothing to do with carrier decisions. I don't have any facts, but I assume money is behind it.
    Windows Phone 8 Update 3 is light in noticeable features, but heavy in meaning

    Support for bigger, higher-resolution screens (not applicable to currently shipping hardware)
    More powerful hardware (again, not for current hardware)
    Driving Mode
    New accessibility features
    Improved Internet Sharing
    More useful ringtones (still no individual volume controls)
    No more twist and shout (rotation lock)
    Better storage management (really?)
    Easily close apps (yay!)
    Wi-Fi access out of the box (for setting up a new device)
    Better Bluetooth (maybe?)
    The above sounds great, but it should have always been part of the OS. What matters is that they offered it to most of their install base today. No phased releases. No official carrier review. No wait. Users that don’t participate in the preview will eventually get an official update rolled out to them. Maybe. Some speculate AT&T will never push another update out to their current line of Lumias. But that doesn’t matter anymore. Or does it?
    GDR3, sorry Update 3, is here today. And I suspect additional updates could follow suit. However, I believe the Nokia updates offer a greater selection of user facing features. Nokia’s Amber update was amazing, and Bittersweet Shimmer looks to be even better. However, Microsoft was clear that the Windows Phone Preview Program for Developers only includes Microsoft code. No vendor or carrier features or apps are included. I don’t see Bittersweet Shimmer being delivered the same way. But, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Eventually, Nokia code will be Microsoft code. We have to hope the merger completes early next year, and the efforts of the Nokia software team get rolled into to Update 4 or Windows Phone 8.1 (Blue). Maybe not right away, but one day all Lumia devices (er, Windows Phones by Microsoft?) should be able to get some sort of access to all Microsoft/Nokia software features and fixes.
    If the rumors are true, a new Nexus phone will be announced this week. (Maybe even today!) Nexus phones, like iPhones, can always run the latest and greatest OS builds and other software. Now Lumia devices can pretty much say the same. The Microsoft announcement and the release of the Windows Phone Preview for Developers could not have come at a better time. I feel even better about using a Windows Phone than I did before. Part of that is my phone got some new features. Most of it is knowing my phone can still receive new features. The devices coming from Nokia next week will get great new features too. Microsoft seems more dedicated than ever to the platform. Hopefully in a few months, we will all have the same OS and same vendor delivered software and features on our Lumia-like devices. Microsoft will deliver them to the phones of today, and tomorrow.
    Now, what about Windows Phone 8.1? Will they leave Windows Phone 8 users in the dust, like Microsoft did to Windows Phone 7 users? I hope not, but only time will tell.

    Goodbye, Surface RT. You’ll be missed… but not for long. Surface 2 is just over a week away. I was planning to focus on the negatives this week, and the Surface seemed to know it. Although still my favorite tablet to date, the flaws came through this week.
    I used the Surface daily with the AT&T Beam LTE dongle when at work and on WiFi when at home. TeamViewer, Tweetro+/Twitter and Hyper were my most used apps. Office RT was used to view Word and Excel files. Either Nokia Music or Xbox Music was usually active. The device was used either used in my hands, lap or desk.
    Same Device: Surface RT 32GB running Windows 8* (no blades)
    Those darn apps! They are so good when they work well. However, once a day one at least one app would stop working properly. Twitter would give a “bad user auth” error. TeamViewer would be less responsive than usual. Hyper would not playback the SurfaceGeeks video podcast. When it did playback videos, quality was definitely lacking. SkyDrive is abysmal at playing back videos uploaded from my Lumia 925. It is basically a slideshow. The screen would not sleep if the LTE connection was active, even when pressing the power button. However, sometimes the device would put the display and LTE connection to sleep, as it should. I could never figure out what made it not work properly.
    Lapability zero. At least for me, the Surface RT cannot work in my lap. I need to cross my legs and keep everything stable. The angle of the stand is far less than perfect. On a desk, it is even worse. At 6’5” I have to hunch over to use it. At lying flat is not ideal, so I typically use my Lumia 925 to prop it up a bit. I know the Surface 2 will help here, but I really wish they added a third position for typing (aka iPad Smart Covers and Samsung Book Covers). However, I am sure the Touch Cover 2 I ordered will have me typing on the screen less and less.
    Feels good, looks good. Battery life is pretty much 2-days of usage for me. I hope to see that hold on the Surface 2, as I assume I will use it even more. The Surface RT in the case with my few accessories is fairly easy to take around the office and to and from work. It always feels good in the hand, and looks great on the desk. I am hoping to see more app updates and new apps alongside Windows 8.1. Windows Phone 8 is growing everyday, and I hope to see Modern UI apps do the same. But the apps of today look great on the Surface RT. It all makes for one attractive experience.
    “Let’s Do This… Better.” As I stated above and in previous posts, I enjoy how the Surface RT makes me feel. I can’t wait to have that elevated when I get to touch and hold a Surface 2. Playing with a Surface RT has made me more and more excited for Surface 2, and confident this is the right mobile computing platform for me. The new Chromebooks seem to compete with Surface RT more than Surface 2 in specs. The Samsung tablets are still full of bloat. No new Nexus 10 rumors have emerged, although I expect it to be announced before month’s end. We can all guess what the new iPads will offer. And although the iPad is one of the best devices ever made, it is targeted at consumption. I need consume and produce. This makes the Surface family my choice both for today, and very likely for tomorrow.
    * I am still running Windows 8 as the 8.1 Preview has ended and Microsoft won’t let me download it.


    BYOB Episode 133

    By Dave, in BYOB,

    This week we recap all the hardware changes that we are working on, from server OS’s, to racks, to hardware.  We spend some time talking about the Automatic – Driving assistant, and get a detailed update on the Galaxy Note 3 from Michael.  As I am becoming a big fan of Plex Media, we talk about the latest version and some of the added functionality in the current releases.  We also get into Hyper-V and the new version on Acronis True Image.  Hope that you enjoy the show and thank you for your support.
    Mike Faucher’s Blog
    Michael Martis’ Blog
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  • Our picks

    • I throw this out every once in a while.  Is anyone interested in writing up "semi-formal" reviews here on the forums?  I say semi-formal because they don't have to be pro level, just a good attempt at telling the story about the gear.  Something you have purchased lately.  You don't have to go buy stuff, just incorporate what you have already have purchased.  Hit me up with any questions.  You never know where it will lead!
        • Like
      • 2 replies
    • D-Link has dropped a couple of new products and additions to their lineup of smart home gear.  Hold on because there is a lot of gear!
      Let's start with cameras.  D-Link has new Wi-Fi cameras, the Full HD Pan and Tilt Pro Wi-Fi Camera (DCS-8302LH) and Full HD Indoor and Outdoor Pro Wi-Fi Camera (DCS-8526LH).  These are not just new, and good looking cams, they can now perform people detection and glass break detection.  The new cameras also feature expanded ways for customers to save video, including ONVIF Profile S, which enables custom storage and streaming options to personal NAS devices, built-in storage microSD capacity up to 256 GB, as well as free and paid cloud storage options. 

      This year's camera models include both an indoor and an outdoor model. The outdoor model features a spotlight and siren that can be triggered when motion is detected, deterring potential intruders. The indoor model pans around to give a full 360-degree view of any room and tracks motion. Both include two-way audio. 
      Full HD Pan and Tilt Pro Wi-Fi Camera is the model (DCS-8302LH), available in Q2, 2020, and retail pricing will be $99.99.
      Full HD Indoor and Outdoor Pro Wi-Fi Camera is the model (DCS-8526LH), available in Q3, 2020, and retail pricing will be $119.99.
      One of my favorite products is Wi-Fi.  D-Link has a whole lot of new products coming including Wi-Fi 6, Mesh, Alexa and Google Assistant integration, IFTTT, Parental Controls, and more!

      There are so many new SKU's that I can't make heads or tails of them!  I'm going to be speaking with D-Link more this week and will sort all of these out. I do want you to see all they are offering and what the release date and projected retail pricing will be.

      AC1900 Scalable Mesh Wi-Fi Router (COVR-1900-US), Q1 2020, $119.99
      AC1750 Mesh Wi-Fi Router (DIR-1750-US), Q1 2020, $99.99
      AC1900 Mesh Wi-Fi Router (DIR-1950-US), Q1 2020, $119.99
      AC1750 Mesh Wi-Fi Range Extender (DAP-1755-US), Q1 2020, $99.99
      AC1950 Mesh Wi-Fi Range Extender (DAP-1955-US), Q1 2020, $109.99
      Smart AX1500 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 Router (DIR-X1560-US), Q1 2020, $119.99
      Smart AX1800 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 Router (DIR-X1870-US), Q2 2020, $139.99
      Smart AX2400 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 Router (DIR-X2460-US), Q3 2020, $159.99
      Smart AX5400 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 Router (DIR-X5460-US), Q1 2020, $279.99
      AX1800 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 Range Extender (DAP-X1870-US), Q2 2020, $129.99
      AX1800 Whole Home Mesh System (COVR-X1872-US), QX22020, $269.99
        • Like
      • 0 replies
    • RESET Merch Shop
      Get ya Merch here!  I've created a T-Shirt shop with the famous RESET paperclip. I've pasted that clip on just about everything so you can wear it around town!  Cable bags, Coffee Mugs, T-Shirts, and more. 
      or you can get it it via
      Here is the main design.

      Below is a part of the order that I put in!  

      The Heather Grey above is the Extra Soft version and it is awesome.  I highly recommend the softness!    The "Chili Red" is the Tri-Blend and probably my favorite feel and color.

      This is the Zip-Up Hoody, Heather Indigo, Sponge Fleece, Men's, Large.  In my podcast I couldn't remember what style it was but it is Sponge Fleece. It's REALLY soft on the inside. Soft outside as well. The only problem is with the zip up hoody the logo is on the back. Regular hoody, it will be on the front.
      or you can get it it via
      Thank you for supporting this community. Everything you purchase will help keep the lights on the hard drives spinning.
      • 0 replies
    • OneDrive Personal Vault and expandable storage
      Microsoft's OneDrive has a few new features and options worth pointing out.  Personal Vault and Expandable Storage.
      Personal Vault is a protected area in OneDrive that can only be accessed with a strong authentication method or a second step of identity verification, such as your fingerprint, face, PIN, or a code sent to you via email or SMS. 
      Personal Vault gives you an added layer of protection for your most important files, photos, and videos—for example, copies of documents such as your passport, driver’s license, or insurance information—should someone gain access to your account or device.
      Plus, this added security won’t slow you down. You can quickly access your important documents, photos, and files with confidence wherever you are, on your PC, OneDrive.com, or your mobile device.

      Beyond a second layer of identity verification, Personal Vault also includes the following security measures:
      Scan and shoot—Using the OneDrive app, you can scan documents or shoot photos directly into your Personal Vault, keeping them off less secure areas of your device, like your camera roll.
      Automatic locking—No need to worry about whether you left your Personal Vault or your files open—both will close and lock automatically after a period of inactivity.
      BitLocker encryption—On Windows 10 PCs, OneDrive automatically syncs your Personal Vault files to a BitLocker-encrypted area of your local hard drive.
      Restricted sharing—To prevent accidental sharing, files in Personal Vault and shared items moved into Personal Vault cannot be shared.
      Taken together, these security measures help ensure that Personal Vault files are not stored unprotected on your PC, and your files have additional protection, even if your Windows 10 PC or mobile device is lost, stolen, or someone gains access to it or to your account.
      Expandable Storage
      If you are and Office 365 Subscriber you get 1 TB of OneDrive storage space with all the other Office goodies like Word, Excel, etc.  I know personally that I have gone over the 1TB limit and have always wanted to be able to add additional storage to my account.  Now you can!

      Pick and option and keep on hoarding, errr, I mean saving! Cancel anytime, upgrade at any moment.
      • 1 reply
    • Ubiquiti adds new items to the Unifi Line including UAP Flex HD and the Unifi Dream machine
      Ubiquiti has been busy.  There area ton of new items to recently released and I'm going to share two of my favorites.
      The UAP Flex HD and the Unifi Dream machine. The Flex HD is a mouthful of descriptors like most of UI gear is.  It's a 2Ghz 2x2 MIMO, 5GHz 4x4 MU-MIMO, POE, Indoor/Outdoor, multi mount, mesh point that is no bigger than a can of Coke.

      You will still need the Unifi controller although you can configure it with basic functionality with the Unifi App.  I've always found it's best to configure with your controller and then use the app as an add-on.  There are several mounting options that include sitting it on a shelf! That is something that Unifi has not had before unless you count the ceiling AP I have awkwardly mounted placed on top of a few books.  It can be found on the Unifi store for $179.
      The Dream Machine is an altogether different beast that I hope lives up to its naming.  This is the gateway drug, for lack of a better term, to the Unifi world.  The starter kit.  It is an Access Point, Gigabit Switch, Security Gateway, and the Cloud Key all in one package.  The latter being the most significant as this is something that has deterred new users from getting started with Unifi.  Requiring new users to purchase a $100 item just to run the AP's has been somewhat of a roadblock in the past.  Granted, that is improving every year with the ability to run it in the cloud, on a NAS, a Pi, Docker, MacOS, and of course Windows, it is still a barricade to getting up and running when manufacturers such as Eero offer simplicity in an app.

      The switch includes 4 LAN Ports and 1 WAN port.  All of which are Gigabit and security services such as IPS are rated at Gigabit speed. It's $299 in the Unifi store but I'm unsure how nicely it will play with other Unifi gear.  This may be a nice "first AP" with its built in Cloud Key if you can add additional units or other Unifi access points.
      • 4 replies

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