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Surface Pro 4: First impressions

I must be mellowing as I get older.

When I got my Surface Pro (was it really only February of 2013 that they came out?) I was still working with Microsoft, and a colleague at the Microsoft Store in Toronto (back then there was only the one) arranged for me to get in early so that I could open the first device sold in Canada, and of course I recorded it.

When I upgraded to the Surface Pro 2 a year later (February 13, 2014) I was heading out of town from Ttve igioronto to to Quebec; there was no way I would get all the way to Chateau Frontenac with the new device in the car, so I stopped off for lunch and recorded my unboxing video at a rest area off Highway 401.  That video did not turn out well, but it was recorded.

It was only five months later (July 3, 2014) that I traded in the Pro 2 for my first Surface Pro 3… This would be the first Surface that would be my primary PC.  My family was out of town (visiting Grandma for the Fourth of July no doubt) so I was able to rush right home, set up my video camera and tripod, and record the unboxing video from my dining room table.  While I would go through a slew of them (there were several flaws in the original Surface Pro 3 so I had to return it a few times to get a good one) it (and they) would be my primary PC for over a year.  I say they because when I went back to work for Rakuten in January, 2015 they provided me a corporate laptop which was also a Surface Pro 3.  Once they got it right, they were pretty rugged machines.  Unfortunately shortly before my recent trip to Japan I well and truly Claused the device, when my Rakuten Surface was knocked out of my hands and made its way to the bottom of Lake Ontario.  We will give the device a pass though… that was slightly abnormal use, and it was the one thing that I found could not be recovered from.

And then, on December 9, 2015, nearly a year and a half after the Surface Pro 3 came into my life, I traded up again.  I picked up my Surface Pro 4 (this time with an Intel Core i7 CPU and 256 GB of storage) from the Microsoft Store.  However rather than running home to open it, I called my girlfriend and went over to spend some time with her.  The conversation did not revolve around how excited I was to have my new device; in fact it didn’t revolve around computers at all.  We had a nice evening, and after a few hours I took my leave.

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…and THEN I went home to record the unboxing video!

Watch the Unboxing Video here…

I have now recorded five unboxing videos (two were not good enough quality to share).  I don’t think I did too bad this time, but you can be the judge.

While recording the video I had the two devices side by each, and was able to make a couple of comparisons between the 3 and the 4.  However it was only after I shut off the camera that I started to see some of the great differences.  On camera I mention that the keyboard magnet seems to be stronger than the old one; I had forgotten that the stylus now connects to the side of the device magnetically as well, and my first impression is that the magnet there is quite strong as well.  I never used the magnetic corner of the SP3 because I did not want to have to replace my lost stylus; I am not at all worried that this one will be lost… although time will tell.

I was disappointed that my Juiced Systems 4-in-1 adapter does not fit while the power supply is connected.  While I was not prepared for that, I consider it a minor nuisance, especially because of the better battery life we have been promised.  I already knew that my new device would not fit into my old docking station – I have to decide now whether to pick up a new dock, or just order the compatibility shim that Microsoft has created.  We’ll see.

Isn’t that one of the bigger issues we have when we replace laptops and tablets… we have to start our collection of toys from scratch?  Fortunately this is not entirely the case with this device.  The leather folio folder that I picked up last year for the Pro 3 fits my Pro 4 perfectly… That was a relief, as I really like the folder.  I am also thrilled that I don’t have to throw out my extra chargers – those are the same too, a relief knowing what I paid for them.

I spent an hour installing software before heading off to bed.  No, I have not tried the new high-res camera logon yet but I will, don’t worry.  I have written this article on the Pro 4 on the train into the office, and I cannot say enough about the improved keyboard design.  It is a much easier typing experience.  I know there is also a keyboard with a fingerprint reader, but one thing at a time.

No real complaints yet, although I am sure there will be a pet peeve or two.  Stay tuned to find out what.  In my next article, find out why I opted for the Surface Pro 4 over the Surface Book!

Helping Others… Helping Myself.

Many of you probably think that because I have this great blog that I am smarter than others.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The reality is, sometimes I just research a problem that I am having until I find the solution… I blog about it, and then I usually forget about it.

So this week I spent a couple of hours getting my new system (Microsoft Surface Pro 4… Stay tuned for the video and review!) ready, and one of the first things I wanted to do (you know, so I can write the articles and all!) was install Windows Live Writer.  Yeah I know, it is an old application, but I still haven’t found anything I like better.

Unfortunately I started getting this weird error.  No matter what I did I got the error.  Drat!

Now wait a minute… the computer might be new, but I have been using Windows 10 (and blogging all the while) since July.  Maybe I had the same issue before, and just forgot?

I navigated to this very site, clicked in the Search window (look up top!) and typed in Install Live Writer Windows 10Sure enough I got the following response:

https://garvis.ca/2015/08/10/live-writer-not-gone-just-a-pain-in-the-windows-10/

I followed the instructions.  I downloaded the file, I ran the command as typed in PowerShell, and sure enough, there it was:

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I was glad to see that, as promised by this site, Windows Live Writer was installed.  You want more proof?  Here I am working on it!

This is not the first time I have turned to www.garvis.ca for help.  I often use it as a reference for things that I know I have done before, but did not feel important to commit to memory.  Anytime I use a dism command or a PowerShell command with a long tag of switches you can be sure that I referred back to the blog.

There were several reasons I started blogging way back when.  One of them was, as I have told people a hundred times, to help build my brand.  It sure has served me well over the years.  However another is as a resource tool for myself… I know that if I have to do something once, I might have to do it again.  So rather than having a private file that is only good to myself, I have a blog that everyone can use.

You may wonder what I am getting at, and here it is.  It doesn’t only apply to IT – you can be in any field and benefit from this.  Start blogging.  If you do, your own notes will be available to you wherever you are… but more importantly, you might just help someone else along the way.

Another Milestone for TWAM

A few weeks ago – somewhere around the second week of November or so – this blog hit a bit of a milestone.  It welcomed its 183,060th visitor of 2015.  That may seem like a bit of a weird number to celebrate… but it is significant in that it is the same number of visitors we welcomed in 2014 – the entire year.

That same week we welcomed our 181,122nd visitor… the same number as we had welcomes in 2013.

If I remember correctly, for a few days in December of 2014 I was worried if we would have the same number of visitors as the preceding year – the year I first went to Japan and Australia, the year I spent traveling across Canada as a Microsoft Evangelist (with all of the exposure that entailed).  We did of course, but statistically it was no more than that – Actually, just over a 1% increase.

I wasn’t sure if I had plateaued – if this was as good as it was going to get.  I expected that Now that I am no longer a Microsoft Evangelist, no longer a Microsoft MVP, my readership would actually start going down.  And it might yet… but it certainly hasn’t.

And so last month we matched the total for the previous year… and every view after that was shooting for a new record.  But before we would know what that record will eventually be – and we will not know until January 1 – we have been shooting for another milestone.

If the trend continues, that milestone should be reached around the same time as this article goes live, at 8:30am Thursday morning.

Around that time, we will welcome our 200,000th visitor of the year.  Wow!

Additionally, once we hit that target, we will then be 5,344 hits away from welcoming visitor number 700,000 (since migrating onto the WordPress platform in November, 2010).  Another Wow!

I want to thank all of you for your confidence and your readership.  Even though my father does not know how to visit my blog (and if you know him, please feel free to tease him about that) I still consider you part of my family.  No, that does not mean you should expect a Christmas present or that you can borrow money.  What it does mean is that I feel a responsibility to all of you, and will continue to work hard to not let you down.

Thank you all!

Five Years Of WordPress: A Celebration?

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It honestly doesn’t seem like that long ago… and of course it seems like forever.  Of course I have been blogging for well over a decade, but I seem to remember sometime in 2010 when Cory Fowler started telling me I should migrate my blog from Community Server over to WordPress.  I was pretty happy with what I had, but I trusted Cory and told him that if would help me to do the migration then I would do it.  And so on November 2, 2010 he and I set a meeting to sit down at Artisano Bakery Cafe in Oakville, and as I watched on he did the heavy lifting… that is, he exported my old blog (a couple hundred articles deep at that point) and then created my new account here, on WordPress.com.

There was a slight cost involved (as there still is to this day) so that my blog appears at www.garvis.ca (and www.virtualizationczar.com) instead of at garvis.wordpress.com.  Remembering the advice I received from people wiser than myself (and that I have since passed on to many aspiring IT Pros) I needed to build and maintain my brand… a professional site should not be a redirect.

I do not remember how many visitors I had in 2010 (combining the old site and the new one), but I think I was pretty happy at the end of 2011 to have welcomed nearly 26,500 visitors.  Five years later and for the first time ever I am on pace to record 210,000 visitors for the year… and while that makes me happy, it does not make me satisfied.  What really satisfies me is when people tell me that they have read my articles; when they have enjoyed the personal ones and grown or learned from the professional articles, that is what really makes me keep at it.

Thank you for your continued readership.  If you are a new reader, then I am glad you found it, and I hope you stick around.  If there is something in particular that you would like for me to write then just ask… my blog is about me, but it is for you.

Thank you for your comments, your questions, your inquiries, and yes thank you for your occasional donation!  Of course, if I am in your city (or you are in mine) rather than going through PayPal I am always glad to accept a drink or two Smile

I know that I sometimes fall behind in my writing… I know that so many of you were looking forward to a bunch of new posts once I got to Japan, and that didn’t happen… I wrote a few but have not published them yet.  They are coming, I promise.  One or two professional ones, along with one of two personal ones.  Stay tuned, I promise I am back!

Live Writer: Not gone, just a pain in the Windows 10.

I have been blogging with Windows Live Writer for a very long time.  So when Microsoft did not see fit to install a Universal App (formerly Windows 8 app) of it, I was glad that I could simply install the same old version… and even if they were not going to upgrade it who cares, because the old version does everything I needed it to do.

So when I installed Windows 10 last week one of the things I had to do right away was, of course, install Windows Live Writer.  Aside from the fact that I have a new OS and need my familiar apps on it, a new OS release is one of the prime times you want me to be blogging, right?
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Crap… Windows Live applications do not seem to be friendly with Windows 10.  Is this the end of an era?  I don’t think so.  As someone once said, where there’s a will, there’s a way.  (My friend Al Aronson used to say that where there’s a will, there’s a relative… but that’s another topic)  I started looking around… and finally I found Stefan Stranger’s article on it.

**NOTE: If you upgraded from Windows 8.1 and had Live Writer installed, you may not need to do this, and it might work without any of these hoops.  If so, carry on!

Step 1: Download the Windows Live installer from this link.  Note there are other places you can download it from, but they do not appear to work.

Step 2: From Windows PowerShell navigate to the directory where you saved your file (c:\Users\Mitch\Downloads) and run the following command command: .\wlsetup-all.exe /AppSelect:Writer /q /log:C:\temp\Writer.Log /noMU /noHomepage /noSearch

There will be several moments of… nothing.  There is only this:

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However if you wait a few minutes, the application will be there… just like magic!

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See that?  At the top, right under SnagIt in Recently Added.

On the one hand I am really glad that I figured out how to make this work (Thanks Stefan!).  On the other hand, I wish Microsoft would invest in upgrading some of the tools that we love, even the free ones.  Yes I know there is no money to be made from a free blogging tool, but come on… The people who use it are the people who blog about you, and we can either give you lemons or laurels.  Windows 10 overall is getting a laurel… but the fact that the Live tools (remember when you made a huge deal about these because you were taking apps out of Windows 7?) have not been upgraded in forever is a big, juicy lemon.

Another Humble THANK YOU!

I do my best to blog consistently, but as I am sure you all know, sometimes work (and life) get in the way.  I assure you it is never my intent to shirk the blog… but the reality is that (despite my having placed a very handy PayPal link on the site) I have never earned any money from blogging.  Don’t worry, that is not why I do it.  I blog – I have always blogged – to help the IT Pro community, and to entertain, and to inform.

Blogging for me is not entirely selfless.  I get true satisfaction when I help people, and the way I know I am reaching you all (since it is not from my PayPal balance) is from comments, replies, and sheer numbers.

That is why it makes my heart swell when I watch my WordPress statistics page.  It is especially meaningful when I write something personal (as I did on September 30, 2014, when I wrote My parting words as a Microsoft MVP.  With all of the technical articles and how-to blogs I have written, that piece resulted in the single highest hit-rate day I had experienced in ten years of blogging… September 30 held that honour for nearly a year.

I have been busy with a lot of different technologies over the past weeks, not to mention my participation in the Pan Am Games.   So in the last week of July I posted five articles in five days – two technical (on PowerShell), two product review/comparison, and one personal completely non-technical piece on the PanAm Games.

If you haven’t noticed, all of my completely non-technical articles are saved for Fridays.  That is the day that I assume people want something lighter to get them ready for the week-end.  Two weeks ago it was a long-overdue piece on Las Vegas, last week and this week it was on the Pan Am Games.  I enjoy writing these pieces, and I know that I do have a growing non-technical audience that I like to write for.

When the week started (with a piece on PowerShell) the statistics were leaning toward an average month – about 16,500 hits, which by the way still blows my mind because I remember the days when 10 hits a day made me happy.  It usually breaks down as 600-650 from Monday to Friday, 500-600 on Fridays, and I am happy if I get 300 hits Saturdays and Sundays.

However as piece after piece came out, something amazing happened… Monday ended and I had 711 hits… 700 hits in a day is not unheard of, but it is usually when I post something either interesting or controversial.  Tuesday was 743 hits… two days above 700 hits is amazing for me!  Wednesday reached 861 hits… wow, I can literally count on two hands (maybe three) the number of 800+ hit days I remember.

I should point out, by the way, that Wednesday was also the day that Windows 10 released.  So of course my Thursday morning post discussed the new OS.  With that said, Thursday’s numbers absolutely shattered the previous record.  1,072 hits from 887 visitors.

Wow.

Fridays are always slower, but still, 827 hits from 701 visitors left a huge smile on my face.

What was probably the best single week of hits (5,300 or so) helped The World According to Mitch to shatter another record.  Thanks to you, 18,381 views on my blog were recorded in July, making this month (my birthday month!) the best ever for the site.

I am sure the fact that I did not neglect you helped… In a 31 day month I posted 15 articles.  I will try to remember that the next time I get complacent.

Thank you all… and if you have any comments, questions, or requests… feel free to ask.  I love you all!

Fourth Year: Thank you once again!

Thank you.

Three years ago The World According to Mitch, a blog that I started because the two or three dozen people to whom I would e-mail my thoughts and insights got sick of getting my e-mails, was recognized by BizTech Magazine as one of the 50 Must Read IT Blogs.  For that year there was no nomination process that I knew of… out of the blue I found out via Twitter that the blog had been put on that list.  There are a few tipping points when the blog readership jumped, and that was certainly one of the bigger ones. (Read A Humbling Recognition)

A year later when the 2012 list was released I was thrilled that The World According to Mitch was one of the few blogs to repeat – I was thrilled, partly because that was the first year that readers were invited to vote for their favourites… and then again in 2013! (Read A Humbling Accolade, A Humbling Accolade, Year 3)

50 Must ReqadThis week my heart leapt when I was informed that once again The World According to Mitch made the list for 2014 as well.  The 50 Must-Read I.T. Blogs 2014 includes this humble site.

I am not going to lie, this year I actively solicited your votes.  I was worried, because I did go dark for a few months… as you might have read, this year has not been a good one for me (personally or professionally), and the number of articles I wrote dropped drastically from previous years.  I am so glad that so many of you stuck with me (and I can tell you that there are ‘friends’ who did not) during my darkest times.  I promise that I will do my best to not disappoint – I will continue to blog and to do what I can to help entertain and inform you all.

For the fun of it, there are only three blogs on this year’s list that have appeared every year… Chuck’s Blog (Congratulations Mr. Hollis!) and CIO Dashboard (Chris Curran of Price Waterhouse Cooper)… and my little site here.  I am humbled to be in such esteemed and respected company.

While I am naming names, I want to congratulate CanITPro, the Canadian IT Pro Connection – or the IT Evangelism Team at Microsoft Canada.  While I am no longer with that team or a resident blogger on that site, it is great to see them recognized for the amazing work that they do.

As you know, I am no longer a Microsoft MVP.  Oh well, I’ll move on.  I did not blog because I was an MVP, I was an MVP in part because I blogged.  I am not going to stop doing what I do because of something so petty.  I am also no longer affiliated with the Microsoft DPE Team.  That is both good and bad – bad because I no longer have the same level of access I had, good because I no longer have to temper my words according to Microsoft’s marketing message.  When Microsoft does something good I will say so and talk about it… and when they blow it (and yes, it happens!!!!!) I am going to tell you (and them) about it.

Thank you all for sticking with me, and as I will do with Microsoft, please tell me when I am getting it right… AND when I get it wrong!

MDG

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