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.

Microsoft_Surface_Pro_4_Teal

…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!

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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

Rock the Vote!

For over a decade I have been working on this blog, first on MITPro.ca, then a couple of different URLs and every year my readership has grown… and I have worked hard to maintain the level of posts that you have come to expect.  While this year has been a difficult one for me (more to come when I am ready) I am happy to say that I am back on my feet, and the writer’s block has for the most part abated.

So it is the time of year again where BizTech Magazine is asking for you to vote for the top IT blogs… The World According To Mitch has been on the list since 2011, and with your help, I am hoping to retain our place.  However I need your help!  Please vote for me here: https://list.ly/~ZTczk – it only takes a second!  Click on the VOTE button and let them know that The World According to Mitch still matters!

Thanks for your… I am looking forward to another year of IT (and whatever else I choose) blogging!

Mitch

Goodbye TechNet… But not quite.

TechNet

Microsoft is retiring the TechNet Subscription service.

September 1st came and went… most of us in North America enjoyed the long Labour Day weekend, whether we were with family, at the cottage, enjoying the CNE, or doing whatever people who don’t live in Toronto do for Labour Day.

What most of us did not feel was the hard stop of all of our TechNet Plus Subscriptions.  By all rights we should have, but last year, shortly after the TechNet team announced that they would be ending the benefit availability, they announced an extension.  So if you had purchased a valid subscription by August 31, 2013 you would get a 90 day extension… in other words, you can continue to access your benefits until November 30, 2014.

There was a huge outcry last year, and I was not part of it… partly because I was on contract to Microsoft, and partly because I will still enjoy my MSDN Subscription as an MCT and MVP.  However for the people who relied on TechNet, this is a sad end.  Fortunately you will still be able to use evaluation versions of the software… but we all know it’s not the same.

Even though we have another day, I will still say my fond farewell to the TechNet Subscription.

Reasons Why WordPress Cloud Hosting is a Great Idea

As The World According to Mitch grows in popularity, I get a lot of questions from people about the tools and platform that I use.  So when I was asked by Richard Myers if he could write a guest post about the platform I have been using for the past two years I was glad to accept.  I hope you enjoy his article! –MDG

clip_image002You will find that WordPress hosting is much like many other types of hosting companies that are available for various types of websites. Whether your site is a blog website, or a business website, or designed for advertising products, you will simply enjoy the benefits that come with WordPress hosting.

Getting started with your website

Setting up a new webpage can be quite the challenge because there are many things that you have to have in order so that you can successfully build the website. Being organized and knowing what you are doing is key to having a great webpage. However, no matter how much you organize, you will still find that you are in need of a server in order to properly run your website. Particularly if you are someone that is new at using WordPress or building your website, it might take you some time to learn more about how you are to go about setting your website up. It will all be worth it in the end though once you finally know what you are doing.

There are many options that you can choose from when it comes to choosing the right type of WordPress host that you want.

Managed WordPress Hosting

Within the benefits of hosting your site, you have the advantage of receiving managed hosting needs if you choose too. To have your website managed you will be doing a great thing because of the quality features that come along with it. There are simply so many different benefits that come with managed hosting for your WordPress site.

Web hosting companies

clip_image008After reading more about what benefits you can acquire with cloud, it’s about time that you start searching the internet for the right hosting companies to assist you with the needs that you have for your website. The good thing about hosting is that there seems to be endless companies for website owners to choose from. The downside about having so many options to choose from is that you most likely won’t know where to begin in your search. With that being said, one of the first things that you will need to do is make certain that you choose a web hosting company that will support the needs that you have for a cloud host.

Let’s take a further look at some of the different plans that are available. Since cloud offers multiple plans, you can easily choose the right one that you will suit your website needs.

Individual

Individual plans are typically going to be the ones that are the cheapest. You can easily afford an individual plan, and only pay a few dollars per month just to have your website hosted. It’s a great package deal to choose if you are only looking for the minimum support for your website. However, there will be some limits that you will have to keep in mind before choosing this plan. For instance you only get so much bandwidth and limited storage, so you will need to make sure that what you are getting is what you will need.

Dedicated

The dedicated hosting plan is another option that is available for you to choose from. Generally this option is the one that will be the most expensive, because it offers the max amount of features, including unlimited storage space and lots of bandwidth, because this option is for online websites that are very busy with traffic and have lots of product that they advertise/sell. The dedicated server is also one that is more customized to what the website owners want since they are spending more money.

Knowing which plan is good for you

Another thing that makes WordPress hosting for cloud such a great idea is that you can make a decision on which plan you want according to a few factors. By going through with these factors you can easily make up your mind on which plan you want.

Price

As they say, you get what you pay for. This saying is true when it comes to choosing the right cloud server host for your website. So you will pay more money for more features, but you also have the option to start out with the minimum if you are building small web business.

Reviews

The reviews that people leave about certain hosting websites will give you a heads up on what to expect and they will help you to make a better decision about which host company and plan would be better for you. Overall good reviews on a site should help you to see that the company is well trusted and has a good standing reputation with the majority of people.

One tip would be to try to steer clear of companies that have very few to no reviews at all on their hosting sites because this tells you that they are not well established, or possibly they are not yet a trusted company. There are many companies that you read up on to learn about the benefits and factors of hosting. Just do a Google search.

Personal Blog entries

So many people nowadays are using WordPress that you can look across the web for blogs and entries about their latest experiences with WordPress. WordPress servers are all great, but there can be some issues that people will mention in their blogs, or they just might have opinions about how something about the platform is working or not working and they want to be able to let other users know to perhaps get tips, etc. So, people basically help each other out by reading the blogs and sharing the latest news on their personal experience with WordPress. You might even want to start your own WordPress blog to keep others informed.

Features

The features for hosting are plentiful and they are features that come in handy for any WordPress website. Read more about some of these features below.

Mobile

Many of the latest WordPress themes have been upgraded so that they are compatible with various mobile phones and other gadgets, such as tablets, iPods, etc.

Plugins

clip_image006WordPress plugins are quite useful as well. Users are able to use various functions that will enable them to customize different plugin settings. Some of the features for the plugins include:

  • SEO
  • Navigation bars
  • Widgets

These are just to mention a select few of the useful features that are available within the plug-ins. The plug-ins on many of the themes are updated on a regular basis as needed.

Themes

You can choose from various WordPress themes which will allow you to personalize and customize the way your website looks.

Author Bio: Richard Myers is an app developer, tech buff and an overall geek. Years of working with servers of all kinds has endowed him with the knowledge that he now likes sharing with anyone who needs his help.

The World… for the World According to Mitch.

Somalia. Greenland. Vanuata. Montserrat. Cook Islands. Samoa. Mali. Sierra Leone. Burundi. Federated States of Micronesia, Liberia, Equatorial Guinea, Niger, Djibouti, British Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands.

What do these sixteen nations have in common?  Certainly not geography – some are tropical islands, others African nations, and of course Greenland should, by all rights, be its own continent (albeit a frozen one).  You cannot even say that they are all members of the United Nations, as Greenland is actually a Danish territory, and the British Virgin Islands are a British territory.

In fact, the only thing that these sixteen states have in common are that they are tied at 1… a single hit has been logged to The World According to Mitch from each in the year 2013.  Mauritania, French Guiana, Vatican City, and French Samoa are ties for second (with two hits each), and Bhutan stands alone with three hits.

In total, over 173,000 hits have been registered to The World According to Mitch to date in 2013.  I guess we sort of hit our stride this year, because with two weeks to go in the year (let’s face it, I expect the numbers to tank from Christmas) we have registered 72,000 more hits than the total of 2012 – a 73% increase year over year.

That number includes visits from 207 countries/territories/protectorates, accounting for every single member of the United Nations except one (No hits from North Korea), plus fourteen others (aside from the aforementioned, Vatican City, the Palestinian Territories (66 visits), Taiwan (1,219 visits), Hong Kong (1,204 visits), Puerto Rico (198 visits), Guam (15 visits), and a number of others.  Interestingly enough, Kosovo – the last of three independent states not members of the UN, also did not register a visit.

Owing to the free nature of the Internet and the fact that one little blog is hardly worth blocking, there were roughly 7,300 visits from countries that would prohibit me from entering (or worse, prohibit me from exiting).  Owing I would hope to my technical articles rather than those of my travels I occasionally am invited to consult for companies based on my blog.  In July of this year I was invited to consult for the national bank of one of these nations – an invitation I politely turned down.

The hottest month of the year (by far) was October… 17,333 visits based on twenty-two posts – eight of which were technical, the others mostly about travels and my experiences in Japan.  However the highest total hits was registered in June (the post was about the flood in Calgary, which I experienced first hand).  The second highest total for a day was in November (I was answering questions for a www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com Jump Start, and posted the link to an article I wrote), and the third highest was in December – the day I wrote about my hat.  Incidentally the week that started with that article was my highest per-day average over a week – 597 hits per day.

While I am not sure I have a definite formula for what does work and what does not work, it seems to me that a solid balance of all sides of me – work, leisure, travel, opinions – is what accounts for the best average for me… I never expect one article to be a home run (although there have been a couple, thanks Server Core and Netfx).  When I balance my articles between the technical and the non-technical both sides of my readership seem most content.  And so that is the direction that I will continue along in the coming year.

By the way some might ask what effect spending a year as a resident blogger for www.canitpro.net had on my own blog.  I would guess that a some of my readers were introduced to me from there (but I also expect some of my foreign readers found that blog because of this site).  I like to think that both blogs complemented each other, with neither leaning heavily on the other.  If the statistics are accurate then any readers I gained while blogging there have remained with me, as only one of the last four months is slightly below any of the preceding twelve… and that was September, when I was in negotiations with a client and trying to remain tight-lipped about leaving my position with Microsoft Canada.

The World According to Mitch received a number of honours this year – for the third year in a row it was listed on BizTech Magazine’s list of 50 IT Blogs You Must Read, and I retained my position on Evolven’s POWER35 Insightful IT Bloggers.  I was also selected as one of the SMB 150 – honoured by my peers with their nomination and votes.

Mitch HatAll in all 2013 has been a banner year for the World According to Mitch banner… and the promise I make to you, my loyal reader, is that I will endeavour to keep up or improve the quality of the posts… and I will try to keep up the pace as well!

May the holiday season bring you and your family blessings of joy, health, and happiness, wherever you are in the world, and whatever holidays you celebrate.  Most importantly, let us all pray for peace in the world in 2014.

Mitch Garvis

Big in Japan…

There has been a rumour floating around that I was not happy at Microsoft Canada.  Whoever started that rumour was not me, and it could not have been further from the truth.  I have loved working with the DPE Team, I have loved almost everything about the past year.

With that being said, over the past few months I have come to the decision that my hands-on experience is getting a little long in the tooth.  I started thinking about taking on a new challenge where I could get my hands dirty again.  After all, one of the reasons I am as credible as I am is because I do have the real-world experience, and do not just live in front of a class.

A gentleman who has attended several of my sessions over the past year approached me in June and asked if I would be interested in discussing a project.  I told him what I tell most people who approach me about projects or jobs: I am always happy to listen.  We scheduled a meeting to have a cup of coffee later in the month.  That meeting turned into two and three and four, until we decided that we both wanted to do business with the other.

Knowing who this man was I was certain that whether we would be a good fit or not, it would certainly be an interesting conversation.  I was not disappointed.  The part that did surprise me though was that this opportunity was to take us both to the head office of the parent company… in Tokyo, Japan.

There is an old expression that says you should shoot for the stars, so that if you miss you will still hit the moon.  This opportunity in Japan is indeed shooting for the stars.  And so I am thrilled to announce that on September 24th I will be boarding Air Canada flight 003, Japan bound.

Unlike all of my previous overseas business trips, this is not for a week or two at a time.  I may get excited that I am going away, but I never have to write an article explaining that things will be changing.

Last week I announced that I was changing teams at Microsoft Canada.  My role there is essentially a Senior Server Champ… although that is not my title, and indeed I do not have one.  I was actually put onto that team because neither side wants to sever our connections, but I am obviously taking a bit of a hiatus from Microsoft Canada.

While this project will see me working with Microsoft Japan as well as some of the product teams in Redmond, I will not be working for them; rather, I will be working for the customer, and not representing Microsoft… for now.

I expect this blog, The World According to Mitch, will continue to thrive… but differently.  I expect that I will want to write a book about what I am doing, and not simply blog articles.

And as for the details… well, it is hard to say.  Until I get there and am told otherwise I do not intend to disclose any information about the customer I will be working for.  Will that change?  I don’t know.  In the meantime, I will be living in Tokyo, and I expect that there will be enough culture shock for me to post interesting (if slightly less technical) articles on a regular basis.  No, I do not expect to be like Tom Selleck in Mr. Baseball, as I am going in with a much better understanding (and respect) of the culture.  That does not mean I will fit in… but here’s hoping I won’t make too much of an ass of myself!

In the meantime I will be in Redmond this week, so there just may be a technical post or two left before I leave!

A Humbling Accolade, Year 3

biztech-mustreadit-300Two years ago I had not heard of BizTech Magazine, so when I found out that this blog had been listed on their list of 50 IT Blogs You Must Read I was truly surprised, and honoured.  I then started following them and reading the publication, and that increased the value of the honour.

A year ago this blog was again awarded a spot on the 2012 list.  It was amazing to me that people continue to read what I write, and as I have said before I am thrilled when even one person reads what I write.

Last week the 2013 list was released.  I do not know how many blogs have made the list all three years of this list’s publication, but I am over the moon to find out that I am one of them.  Again, I want to thank the staff at BizTech Magazine for putting me on the list, but more importantly I want to thank you, my readers, who continually inspire me to write.  Without you, this space would be empty.

Make sure you read the list of the 50 Must-Read I.T. Blogs 2013  at www.biztechmagazine.com.

Not thrilled with WordPress today…

image I want to be clear that this is a one-time rant.  I generally LOVE WordPress.  I think it is an excellent blogging platform and I recommend it to everyone who asks.  This is probably ‘just one of those things.’  As well, it is actually a rant about the WordPress App for Windows 8, and not actually about WordPress at all.

Last week I got my new computer, complete with Windows 8.  Of course I am not new to Windows 8 – it has been my primary platform for nearly two years now – and I am certainly not a novice.  As I am sick and stuck in a hotel room for a couple of days (by the way, any Montreal peeps who want to bring my chicken soup will get a prize – don’t know what) I decided to get blogging.

I usually blog from Windows Live Writer.  I have been using it for years, and have never seen a good reason to change.  However I have been hoping since the release of Windows 8 that they would come out with a modern version, and barring that would have tried a different blogging platform if I found a really good one.

I installed and configured the WordPress app, and it dutifully found my blog and all that rot.  I then remembered a colleague mentioning that he had used that app to actually write his articles, and it wasn’t bad.  I decided to try it out.

I started writing, and it seemed pretty intuitive, with some features that even the newest Live Writer doesn’t have (autocorrect).  I was getting into it, but someone pinged me on Lync and I tabbed to that conversation.  When I was done chatting I went bac…. huh?  It’s gone?  It’s not there?  Whatchu talkin bout Willis?  It was simply… gone.  No auto-save, nothing.  It was as if I had never sat down at the computer.

I think we are in dire need of a better app, and until we get one I am back to Windows Live Writer… from which I am happy to say I have tabbed away from several times during the writing of this rant and it has not been lost even once.