What’s in My … Messenger Bag?

As I have written previously I recently picked up a Microsoft Surface Pro 3, and despite a couple of minor annoyances it truly is a wonderful device.  Because I have not been traveling as much as I did over the past few years, I have taken the opportunity to downsize my carry-load. 

My sister called me a couple of weeks ago with the news that her new company device would be a Surface Pro 3, and asked me what accessories she should make sure she picks up.  We had a conversation about the keyboard, battery life, and so on.  Jennifer and I don’t speak all that often, and it was a nice excuse to talk.

Last week a friend and fellow MVP told me that his device was being delivered shortly.  He knew that I had downsized my carry load, and with that knowledge, and knowing that we have the same device, he hoped that I would take the opportunity to write a new article in my ‘What’s in Your Laptop Bag’ series. 

The first article I wrote on the subject does back to 2009, when I wrote ‘What’s In Your Laptop Bag?’  It is amazing the difference a few years made… as my priorities changed so did what I carried with me.  Back in 2009 I was carrying a full sized laptop in addition to a netbook, which at the time I thought was a good idea, and to an extent it was.  I had to carry two power supplies, mice, a power bar, external hard drives, a travel router, a headest, a digital camera… and a pack of lozenges.  Twenty-five pounds or so is the estimate I put down in that article; if truth be told it was probably a bit more than that.

A few years later – when I had a Surface Pro – I wrote the article ‘How Surface changed my thinking… and helped my shoulder.’  In it I discuss how I realized that downsizing my load could really do wonders for me… and it did.  Of course, when I went to Japan last year for nearly four months I upsized again, but only because I would be setting up a permanent system in my hotel room, and brought things like docking stations, speakers, and more.

I now find myself in August of 2014, nearly eighteen months later, and I am living a more sedentary life than I was.  As I am not traveling as much, my basic requirements are probably a lot more in line with what others need. 

We should actually start with what the bag actually is… In July of 2013 I wrote and article called ‘What IS your Laptop Bag?’  I am no longer in the business of shilling for other companies, so rather than use the branded freebies I had so many of I invested in a couple of proper cases… for the time being I am exclusively using a Briggs and Riley Messenger bag (black) that they refer to as a ‘Small Slim Vertical Brief’.  It is not exactly the one shown, but is quite similar.  It is made of a ballistic nylon fabric and has a lifetime guarantee. 

I downsized my bag for a couple of reasons, but the main one is simple… the smaller the bag, the less likely you are to pack useless crap (that will weigh you down).  As I sit as the pub with the contents of the bag emptied before me I would not go so far as to say there is nothing useless in there… but it’s still better than it was.

Device: Obviously (based on the opening of the article) I am carrying a Surface Pro 3.  I was a little worried when I bought it… the Surface Pro 2 fit perfectly, and I was worried that the larger form factor (12” instead of 10.6”) would not fit.  Fortunately it does – but barely.  Otherwise I would have to have changed out my bag, and I didn’t want to do that.

In case you are curious, yes I carry the keyboard and stylus with me, and no, it does not increase the weight noticeably when I carry the bag.

Additional Device: It’s not what you think… I said the Pro 3 was a great laptop replacement, and it is.  The additional device that I usually carry with me is a Kobo Glo e-book reader, including the magnetic case.  Of course I could read my e-books on the Surface Pro 3, but I see value in having both devices.

Cables: I carry a few different cables with me, primarily in the front pocket:

  • Micro USB cable to charge my Kobo, as well as my Nokia Lumia 920 when I am in the USA.
  • iPhone 5 cable to charge… well… yeah.
  • Mini USB cable, which is a legacy but I still carry it.  It is to connect the external USB screen that I use occasionally and which lives in the trunk of my car.
  • FitBit One Cable which charges that device.

Dongles: The downside of a smaller device is fewer ports built in, and an entire new industry – the industry of dongles – was created.

  • HDMI dongle
  • VGA dongle
  • Ethernet dongle

Logitech Wireless Presenter R400.  It’s not the newest, but it still works and is very comfortable in my hand.  If you spend any time presenting PowerPoint from your computer you will want one of these.  The newer ones all seem to be too light or two small.  I wish the R400 were Bluetooth instead of USB, but I’ll survive.

USB Keys: I currently have four of them in the bag – three for storage and when I need to transfer data, and one Windows to Go key (Windows To Go: This is going to be a game changer!).  If you wonder why I have four, I can’t answer… and in my defence, one of them is a bottle opener too :)

Mouse: The only problem that I had with the Microsoft Arc Mouse Touch was that it had a dongle, and took up the only USB port on the Surface.  Solution: Microsoft Arc Mouse Touch Surface Edition… Bluetooth connection, and it still folds flat for easy storage!

Ear buds: A couple of years ago I found myself in an airport without ear buds, and I picked (blind) a pair called a-JAYS Four.  I had never heard of the company and I am not quite sure why I picked them, but boy am I glad that I did.  They are comfortable, and more importantly the plug is flat (look at the picture and you’ll understand) so when I am on an airplane plugged in and stand up without paying attention I don’t wreck them.  They sound great too!

Pens: Yes, I carry pens… and use them all the time.  The nicer of the two is made of (or made to look like) a printed circuit board, and was a gift from my friends Rick and Isolina.

…and that’s it.  I have a few papers, I usually have some guest passes for Taekwondo to give out, and maybe a cigar… but there’s nothing else.  It makes for a much lighter load than I used to schlep… I remember dragging my Lenovo Carbon X1 behind me when I was in Japan… it was not that much bigger (14” instead of 12”) but because I had the bigger bag I always stuffed more into it than I needed, hence the shoulder pain.

But what’s missing?  You may have noticed (or not) that I did not list a power supply on the list… I don’t carry it with me.  I charge it overnight, but I have only run out of juice once in the last month.  Now it is worth mentioning that I am have been between contracts since I picked it up, and have been able to work at either Starbucks or the Niblick Pub for six to seven hours before having to go home.  I am starting a new contract next week, and if I end up using my own device then I will bring the power supply with me… or more likely the docking station which is coming out in the next couple of weeks (yes, I have pre-ordered one… first time ever).  I do have a power supply in the car, but it is still sealed in the box, and I might just return it because I never use it.  We’ll see!

What does it weigh? Honestly I don’t know… but probably around 6lbs… or roughly equivalent to the weight of the primary device I carried when I wrote the first ‘What’s in Your Laptop Bag’ article.  One thing is certain, I don’t worry about it hurting my shoulder as I used to, and I never worry about airlines making me gate-check it :)

Conclusion

The truth is that I need very little with this device… the dongles are important, and the USB keys, cables, mouse, and ear buds are really all I need.  Everything else that I might need in a hotel room – external speaker, VGA cable, and so on – can go in my suitcase when I travel.  What do you need?  I don’t know… but I hope this article will help you with the bare essentials!

I’m Afraid. You should be too.

This weekend throughout Canada there are demonstrations going on that are billed as being against the Israeli action in the Gaza Strip.  Some people are going so far as to call them anti-Israel.  While I find it distressful that there are demonstrations across one of the countries where I am a citizen that are specifically and vehemently against the other country where I am a citizen, that is not what frightens me.

We have all sorts of expressions like ‘call a spade a spade’ and so on… so why is it that nobody is willing to stand up and call these demonstrations what they are?  Simple… because it is not polite to call them anti-Semites.  When slogans of Heil Hitler and Death to Jews are called out it has nothing to do with the State of Israel.  You can call it what you want… I am calling it what it is.

In numerous North American cities (including Ottawa and Washington, D.C.) Jewish protesters were evacuated ‘for their own safety.’  I appreciate the police doing that  if they felt the lives of the protesters were at risk… what I would like to know is why weren’t the people who would do them physical harm (and in a couple of cases did) arrested?  Physical violence is a criminal offense.  Why isn’t it treated as such?

As a Jew I am afraid to walk in the street.  That must sound ridiculous to people who know me – I am a Second Degree Black Belt with a military background… not to mention that I am 6’3” tall and not small of stature by any measure.  So what should I be afraid of?  The answer is simple… it’s what I tell every student of mine: no matter how big and strong you are, there is always someone bigger and stronger.  And an individual doesn’t have a chance against an angry mob.  If I am to stay safe I have to either avoid the protests, but because there are attacks on institutions and on individuals now I would also have to hide the fact that I am Jewish when I walk in the street.

My children aren’t safe.  My parents aren’t safe.  Why not?  Because there is no law being enforced in Canada that prevents or punishes an attack on Jews and Jewish institutions, as long as it is done under the guise of being anti Israel.  My friends can only be safe as long as they hide the fact that they are Jewish.

A few weeks ago I wrote an article and published it on my blog, and then pulled it down an hour later.  I was told that especially now, as I am looking for a job, that I should keep my political feelings quiet, lest someone not hire me based on them.

Guess what? I’m done hiding.  I am Jewish and I am Israeli and I was Israeli Defense Forces, and I am proud of all of that.  Those three factors combined make it very clear what my stance is… and guess what?  I’m a centrist – not right wing, and certainly not a right wing fanatic.  I am certainly not a left wing dove who would pay any price for peace… I want a reasonable solution.

I may be afraid to be a Jew living in Canada, but I am done living a life of fear.  If someone won’t hire me because of who I am then I probably shouldn’t be working for them anyways.

Now here’s the thing… It’s not just Israelis and Jews who should be afraid… you should be too.  A German pastor named Martin Niemoller wrote the following:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

It is all well and good to be on the side of Hamas now because they are fighting Israel and not you… whoever you might be.  If everyone sides with them eventually there will be no more Israel and there will be no more Jews.  Do you think they will be satisfied?  If you do then you are fooling yourself.  Do you think Hamas doesn’t like Jews because they are Jewish?  They hate the Jews because we are not like them.  Once they are done with the Jews they will fight someone else… and don’t think that because you agreed with them in their struggle against Israel that they will cut you any slack.

So you then say that you don’t actually agree with Hamas, but you are against Israel because they are killing innocent Palestinians.  In the history of warfare no army has ever gone out of the way to prevent civilian casualties… but Hamas has done their best to thwart those efforts at every turn.  They put their people in harm’s way at gunpoint.  Someone I am getting close to said to me the other night ‘…the wrong people are dying.’  Yes, they are.  That is because the people who should be dying (Hamas militants) are very well protected in bunkers (including ones beneath hospitals) while they leave the innocent in the line of fire – where Israel specifically announced they would be bombing.

I am against innocent civilian deaths… I hate it.  I weep for every dead civilian on both sides.  I weep for the dead Israeli soldiers too, because they are my brothers.  However to blame Israel for these deaths is ignorant, and that is not propaganda.  When an Israeli soldier kills an innocent civilian intentionally he is brought up on very serious charges and will spend the rest of his life in prison.  There are some Israeli nut jobs who cheer when people die… but they are just that – fanatical nuts, and unfortunately it is those morons who get the attention of the media and are then shown as examples of why all Jews are monsters.

I am afraid because the majority of international media has a bias against Israel.  Is it all ideological?  No… simply put, anti-Israel headlines sells newspapers, and retractions don’t change the initial impression left.  Really, if you want to destroy the credibility of every anti-Semitic argument, you don’t have to go any further than ‘The Jews control the media!’  If that were true I wouldn’t have to be afraid… but we don’t control the media anymore than we control the banks (if you want proof against that one please refer to the balance of my accounts).

They are coming for me now and a lot of you agree with them, or are staying silent because they are not coming for you.  Maybe you agree with them because deep down you don’t like Jews but more likely because they have convinced you that Jews or maybe just Israel is evil.  I challenge you then to visit Israel and then make up your mind… Israelis are the warmest people you will ever meet, once you get through their protective shells.  Sit down and have a rational and reasonable conversation about the current war (or History) with a Jew or an Israeli and you will see sadness in their eyes.  They are coming for us now but you should be afraid because you are next.  I am afraid primarily for the simple fact that most of you don’t realize that I’m telling the truth.

An Open Letter to Those Who Posted on my Facebook Wall Berating Israel

It is amazing that people who are otherwise intelligent can be so gullible and ignorant.  In 2005 Israel left Gaza completely.  Not only did the IDF withdraw, they pulled out all settlers (often at gunpoint, kicking and screaming).  They left behind factories, farms, and the world community committed a boatload of money for them to build more.  In fact, they had the opportunity to make a Palestinian state that would have been a model for the other occupied territories.

What they did, instead of building anything productive:

  • They elected Hamas (an internationally recognized terrorist organization) as their government;
  • Rather than build or maintain infrastructure, they dug tunnels… at a ridiculous cost of BILLIONS of dollars.  They dug tunnels under the border with the expressed intention of attacking Israeli civilians.
  • They armed themselves to the teeth.  They bought billions of dollars of weapons – rockets that can reach Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, guns, bombs, etc… not just some, but ridiculous amounts of them.
  • They placed those weapons as close as they could to civilians… rented apartments intentionally adjacent to childrens’ bedrooms, hospitals (the Al-Shifa hospital which was built by the Israeli government, complete with a bunker-protected operating theatre, is now a command headquarters for Hamas), and yes even UNITED NATIONS SCHOOLS.  This is done so that when Israel DOES retaliate (as they have been this month) there will be civilian deaths which Hamas can then show the world and convince ignorant people that the big bad Israelis are evil.

Israel targets the Hamas weapons and weeps when there are civilian casualties.  Hamas aims at civilians… they always have, and they have not changed.  Not only do they TARGET Israeli civilians, they place their own civilians in harm’s way INTENTIONALLY and at gunpoint so that there will be civilian deaths.

With all of that said, Israelis NEVER celebrate the death of innocent civilians… on either side.  Whoever told you that they did is full of crap. 

Israel and Israelis want peace, but we are also not stupid… Hamas doesn’t want peace… even the PLO (the government of the West Bank) are trying to distance themselves from the Hamas tactics… and they know that Hamas is screwing them.  Hamas has asked for several cease-fires, and have broken every one of them within an hour.

Fortunately there is a solution.  Everyone is telling me that there has to be a complicated negotiation in order to end the war.  No… here it is, the answer to a lasting peace between Gaza and Israel.  Are you ready for it?

STOP SHOOTING AT ISRAEL.

Of course it is a little more complicated than that… They would need to stop firing rockets into Israel (and tough shit that we keep shooting them down… We actually want to PROTECT our people… suck it up).  They would have to secure their borders and stop digging infrastructure aimed solely at attacking Israel.  Stop sending human bombs into Israel… in fact stop sending anyone who doesn’t want to be friends.

There it is.  By the way, I know you don’t like Jews.  Here’s the truth, as proven by… every conflict, as well as every other measure of your struggle against us: We are stronger than you, and we are smarter than you.  Live with it.  You don’t like us?  STAY IN YOUR OWN YARD AND BUILD YOUR OWN COUNTRY. 

Wait… you say that some of the Palestinians in Gaza DON’T hate Israel?  They WANT peace?  They want to come into Israel to work (as they have been doing since 1967)?  Guess what… THEY ARE WELCOME TO CONTINUE TO DO SO. 

We don’t hate Arabs, we don’t hate Muslims, and we don’t hate Palestinians.  WE LOATHE TERRORISTS.  We hate them with every fabric of our being.  I remember what I learned in Basic Training way back when – 1994, and it was in Ramallah which is no longer part of Israel.  WE ARE NOT LIKE THEM… WE TARGET THE GUILTY, AND NOT THE GUILTY BY ASSOCIATION.

So you live in the West, and you want to believe the propaganda? You know what… I can live with that.  You want to boycott Israel and Israeli products?  No problem… but please boycott all of them, including the vaccines.  You want to support Hamas?  Don’t do it on Facebook… fly over there (Sorry, you will have to fly into Ben Gurion International Airport and then take a bus to Gaza) and join them. 

But if you want to accuse Israel and Israelis of being monsters? War criminals? Murderers?  Do me a favour… do it to someone else.  If you want to do it on Facebook, then do it to someone else.  If you are willing to discuss it like rational human beings over coffee, I will gladly listen to what you say as long as you are willing to listen to what I say.  I guarantee you though… I am better informed on the subject than anyone who gets their information from CNN or the BBC.

Surface Pro 3: A VERY different experience

If you are a long time reader of this blog you may remember how thrilled I was when I bought the first Microsoft Surface Pro sold in Canada.  I wrote about it (including videos) that week (Microsoft Surface with Windows 8 Pro: It’s Here!) and quite a bit subsequently.  It was… well, it was a nice device, don’t get me wrong, but it was really a companion device to my laptop.  It simply didn’t have the oomph to replace my HP EliteBook (which I soon thereafter replaced myself with a Lenovo X1 Carbon).  I need more than 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage to be comfortable.

This past February I decided to sell that device and trade up to a Surface Pro 2.  I was absolutely thrilled with the new device (Surface Pro 2: Oh yeah!) because it really was a replacement laptop for me… okay, it wasn’t… but only because the screen size was just too small.  However because of the amount of travel that I do I decided that was a small price to pay for a lighter load – and anyways, most of the offices I worked in and hotel rooms I stayed in had another screen I could connect to.  The 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage really did make the difference, although I was hesitant… I decided that before I actually sold my Lenovo I would put it away for a fortnight, and see if I ever missed it.  I didn’t, and when I decided it was time to sell I never looked back.

Okay, I looked back a little… I had been considering this as an option for a while, and in May I went out and purchased an external USB screen (There was a sale on the AOC model and I broke down and bought it).  The fact is that while I am on writing assignments – I don’t mean blog articles, but full length courses – I simply need more  desktop real estate, and I was not working from my home office so it was simply a necessity.

A few weeks ago Microsoft released the Surface Pro 3.  They didn’t release all of the models – there will be one with 512GB of storage, and one with a Core i7 CPU among others – but they released the equivalent model to my own… which really is all that I would ever need, as I use other devices (either servers or high-end laptops) to create the courseware that I am writing about.  I decided to roll the dice and see what I could get for my Surface Pro 2 on the open market. 

Jackpot!! I won’t say that I got my full purchase price for it, but I did get enough for it that the new device would not cost me too much… actually it wouldn’t cost me anything because I had a voucher!  I ran to the Microsoft Store at Yorkdale Mall (Toronto) and asked the associate to bring me a shiny new Microsoft Surface Pro 3, complete with 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, a navy blue type cover, and an extra stylus.  For good measure I purchased the Complete Care warranty too… that has saved my bacon a few times in the past!

For the first time in a very long time I found myself without a computer configured as my own, so I rushed home and opened it up… and I recorded the process of opening it up, narrating all along (including through the dropping thunk).

There are a couple of things that I noticed pretty quickly.  The Surface Pro 2 stylus was essentially a dumb device.  Not so with the Pro 3, and it comes complete with a AAAA battery.  You discover immediately when configuring the machine that it is also a Bluetooth device, and is pretty easily configured.

Did I mention how incredibly light it is?  Wow… 1.76lbs (800 grams) makes it 10% lighter than the Surface Pro 2…  and only about 10% heavier than the Surface RT.  As for thin, at 9.1mm thick it is 33% slimmer than the Pro 2 and only .2mm thicker than the RT.  All that with a larger screen (12”) with a better display resolution (2160×1440 compared to the 1920×1080 of the Pro 2).

Opening and getting to know the Surface Pro 3

Once you have watched the videos you should know that there were a couple of things that went wrong later on… For some reason out of the box I was getting a message that there was no battery detected, and I could not even turn the device on if it wasn’t plugged in.  I suspected at first that had to do with the battery type cover I have heard about, but when I looked up a solution on-line it seems that people had the same problem with the Surface Pro 2… I don’t know what it is, but it’s something… fortunately it was fixed by a couple of firmware updates.

Speaking of firmware updates and patching the device, it would not let me do any further patching until I had plugged the device in and charged the battery to 100%.  All this to say that rather than being ready to go right away, I spent the evening at the Niblick Pub in Oakville (which is no hardship I assure you!), and only when I got back a few hours later could I truly set it up.

Once that was done I have had no further issues… on anything.  I am sitting at Starbucks as we speak with my external AOC screen connected, but the truth is that I don’t need it; I probably would if I was on a writing assignment, but while the 16” external screen is larger than the 12” screen on the Surface Pro 3, the resolution of the Pro 3 beats the AOC hands down.

Is it a true laptop replacement?  I got into a bit of a debate with a friend about that on Facebook – it probably is for the vast majority of users, but for people who truly need higher resources – the friend in question truly does need 16gb of RAM to run the array of virtual machines he walks around with – it doesn’t cut it.  For most of us I suspect the Pro 3 really can replace our other laptops.

I was a little concerned by the size… next to the 10.6” Pro 2 the Pro 3 looks positively huge, and I was worried it would not fit into my messenger bag – when I shed the Lenovo I stopped lugging my huge laptop bag and have been happy carrying my kit in my messenger bag (not this exact one, but similar) and saving the added weight.  I was glad to see that while it truly is the maximum size I could comfortably fit into the bag, it did indeed fit.

Will the romance last? I don’t know.  For the time being I am thrilled with the device – not simply the size and form factor and novelty of it, but the performance is what I need to do my work.  I have been running a single Windows 8 virtual machine in the background and I haven’t seen any degradation in performance whatsoever.  Now granted, I have been writing, surfing, checking e-mail, and editing videos… nothing to truly test the mettle of the machine.  However with the 4th generation Intel Core i5 I don’t anticipate I will be disappointed.

Is it for you?  I don’t know.  Is it for me? Absolutely… all 800 grams of it!

P.S. I stand corrected… in the video I claim it is just under or over $1200, when in fact the model I have sells for $1,349, and the Complete Care Warranty would have added an additional $149, but there was a bundle of the Complete Care, a Type Cover keyboard, and a sleeve.  I don’t remember the exact deal, but the long and the short is that I walked out of the store $1,600 plus tax ($1,807) poorer… and one great machine richer!

Outlook Looking Out for me AGAIN!

A few hours ago a deadline was about to pass.  I had promised someone I would send them the final draft of a file before they got into their office this morning.  I also knew that I would not be available to re-send it if there was a problem because of a previous commitment.  I wrote the e-mail and pressed send.  Immediately the following window appeared:imageWow… how often have you done that?  ‘Hey I am sending you this file’ and then you forget to attach it?  Sometimes you catch yourself and sometimes you only realize it when the return e-mail of ‘what file?’ comes through.  Fortunately Outlook 2013 saved me in this case – I was tired and likely would not have realized it, and my colleague would have had nothing to work on this morning.  Thanks Outlook!

Honesty in Advertising

EatHereThis week-end I lambasted a friend who hosts/produces a radio show about travel for posting that a particular hotel chain wanted to appear on his show to discuss his product, but refused to provide a free stay in exchange for the privilege.  I also told him that I know the entire industry works that way, and that I was not holding it against him.  My comment:

it is unfortunate that every single travel (and most sales-type) shows think it a given that they have to be pay for play… because of that we the general public cannot trust any ‘review’ on these shows because they are all just paid ads (at best) and whoring at worst. No restaurant review, travel review, or product review will ever be honest if the product is given to the hosts as a prerequisite and barter for air time. This is NOT limited to ‘<our show>, believe me… I know it is all of them.

We had a bit of a back and forth about it, and he ended by saying that in a perfect world he would rather companies pay for advertising, and he pay for their product (or stay home).  I respect that.

Here’s the issue though… If it is true that every travel show works like this (and It seems they do) then how can you ever trust that a place is worth visiting?  In the same vein, in the IT industry, how can you trust a site that only gives positive reviews to products that are given to them?

Take, for example, my blog… www.garvis.ca. If you are not familiar with it you will be interested to know that (unless I have been quoted or plagiarized) you are currently on it.  I write product reviews from time to time, but I have a policy: Verum quod integrity primoris (Truth and integrity first).  However I also do not believe in bad-mouthing products for no reason.  I may not like it for personal reasons, but it takes a lot for me to actually badmouth a product.

With that being said, when I am asked to write a review I make them the following deal:

  1. They have to provide me with the product.   If it is hardware then they cannot be loaning it to me, and if it is software they must provide me a complete, non-time-bombed license.
  2. I will work with it within 30 days of them providing it to me.  If I am going to write a review it will go up within 45 days, or on an agreed upon date.
  3. If I do not like the product, I will not write the review.  What I will do, however, is provide feedback to the company as to why I don’t like it.  This will be done in the same promised time frame as I would have written the review

If you ever wonder why you never see negative reviews on my blog, that’s it.  I do not consider my site to be a place for ads, a profit centre, or anything of the sort.  However I know there are a lot of sites and shows that don’t work that way… and I respect that, but I wish they would let their listeners and readers know that up front.  ‘Hey, this site is a pay for play site, and any product that we promote has paid us to do so, either in cash or product.’  At least that would let them know the truth… and more pointedly, when they badmouth a product (either on their show or site, or on any social media) they should be very clear that they are not doing so because the product is bad, but because they refuse to play ball.

I am not holding my breath… but in the meantime I will promise you my readers that any product or service that I endorse, I do so freely and am not compensated to do so.

Mitch Garvis

Outlook 2013: Take Action!

I have been using Microsoft Office 2013 since it was in early beta mode, and I still find features on a daily basis that I love.  Of course, some of them I have been using all along, like Action Items.

Microsoft Outlook analyzes your e-mails and lets you know if it has found things, like Action Items. So when I received the following e-mail:

image

At the top of the e-mail the following option now appears:

image

Because there is an address in the e-mail (I think it is LinkedIn’s main offices) the Bing Maps option appears; however it is the Action Items that I like… Outlook’s intelligent analysis determined that the e-mail was asking me to do something, so when you click on Action Items you see the following:

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Nice… you can now see at a glance what is being asked of you in the e-mail.  But that is not the end of it…

image

Fred wants to meet me for coffee Thursday morning.  You will notice that the application bar has the option of Suggested Meetings.

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So the good news is it found the meeting.  It did get the time wrong, and I am not quite sure how that happened, but it does make sure you keep on your toes.  You can click on Schedule Meeting and it will create the calendar object, including inviting Fred.  How cool is that?

Try it out… it’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good!