Click here to close now.

Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Plutora Blog, Liz McMillan, Carmen Gonzalez

Blog Feed Post

Surface RT: even more awesome with Windows RT 8.1

For those that know me, I am a die hard supporter of my Surface RT.  Back in February, I wrote a post about why I chose it over a Surface Pro.  The device wasn’t perfect and there were a number of issues that people had with it.  With Window RT 8.1, a lot of those issues have been put to rest and that’s pretty exciting. 

This device isn’t for everyone, but if you have a similar use case to mine, you might find it a highly useful device.  What is my use case?  Well, first of all, I travel. A lot.  I often find myself working from atypical office settings including the airport, airplanes, restaurants, and bars.  As a SharePoint architect, I write very little code. That means having Visual Studio on the device is not a priority for me.  If you write code every day, go buy a Surface Pro, or better yet stick with a laptop so you can have a bigger screen.  Do I use my Surface RT as my primary machine?  Only when I travel so that probably means a good 50% of the time.  Do I play games on it?  Nothing serious.   If any of the above applies to you, read on and you might find that this could be the device for you.

When I am not working, I often find myself catching up on things with my Surface RT while listening to music on my Jambox.  I use apps such as iHeartRadio, Vevo, and Nokia Music pretty often.  With this much use, it’s not uncommon that I might use my Surface 8 – 10 hours in a day.  Your Surface Pro isn’t going to do that.

Let’s take a look at a few of my new favorite things that make Surface RT even better.

SkyDrive Sync

As someone on the go.  I rely on SkyDrive heavily.  I expect my documents to be available wherever I go regardless of connectivity.  Windows RT could access files in SkyDrive but only when connected.  This was a real bummer when I got on a plane without Wi-Fi.  Although more and more @SouthwestAir flights are connected, there are still a lot that aren’t.  This meant if I wanted to work on a document on the plane, I had to open it up before hand to be sure I had a copy of it.

Now, the same functionality that we had in the SkyDrive desktop app is built into the Windows RT 8.1 app. 

WindowsRT81SkyDriveDesktop

The default setting on whether files are synced or not varies depending on your past usage of SkyDrive.  This can be controlled on a per file / folder level.  You can sync your entire SkyDrive, by using the settings charm and choosing Access all files offline.  SkyDrive will indicate whether the file is available offline right in the app.

Screenshot (4)

Unfortunately, you can’t configure where the files themselves are synced.  If that bugs you, reply to this thread and raise your concern.  However, this isn’t a huge issue for me yet.  I am definitely happy that I can access my files when I am offline.

Outlook RT

When Surface RT came out, people raised a big stink about how Outlook wasn’t included.  Ironic, since the iPad they were using previously ran Outlook so well…oh wait.  Anyhow, Outlook RT will shut a lot of people up.  I mean a lot.  Honestly, I haven’t even used it yet though.  I configured it, but since the February update to the mail app, it’s quite a bit more responsive and I can do most of what I need with the exception of managing tasks.  For that, I will have to return to Outlook.

They also demoed a new and updated Mail app at Build but that is not included.  That is “coming soon”.

Skype

I haven’t had anyone call me yet, but they added the ability to answer Skype calls from the lock screen.  That is nice.  I’m not sure if this functionality is included yet, or it is “coming soon”, but this will be a nice feature.

Apps

The app story is getting better.  Facebook is finally coming to the Windows store.  Does anyone on Surface care?  Probably not because they have been using it in their web browser just as they would on their laptop.  Remember, the reason web sites started making apps to begin with was because the browser experience sucked on that device.  I truly believe the days of native apps as just as interface to a web site are coming to an end.

Does the Windows Store have a ways to go?  Yes, but when I go back to my original use case above, I now find that I am only missing three apps that I use on a regular basis: Windows Live Writer, Visio, and Project.  I am not holding my breathe on Live Writer because each time it gets an update, I am shocked.  Honestly, I don’t use the last two all that much, but it would be nice. 

One thing you’ll notice is that you’ll see your apps automatically synchronize across your Windows 8.1 devices.  When you hit the start screen the first time, you’ll notice an arrow icon next to your apps.  This means it hasn’t been downloaded yet.  You can tap it to start the download or if you wait patiently, eventually Windows will go and grab it.  As you might have heard, apps update automatically as well.  I guess Apple will claim they invented that first though since they added that to IOS 7.

VPN

Supposedly the VPN experience is getting better and I really hope so.  As business users, we have put up with crappy VPN clients for years.  In my experience, most clients are buggy written using ActiveX or Java, are rarely updated, and don’t deal well with new browsers or operating systems.  If Windows can start operating native support for these, sign me up.  This was a major blocker for a lot of Surface RT users wanting to access corporate resources.  Windows RT 8.1 brings hope for native VPN connections to F5, SonicWall, and CheckPoint.  I tried it with our SonicWall VPN and it gave me an error.  However, it’s not like I ever got the regular VPN client to work anyways.  I really don’t expect these to work until RTM and chances are they will require an update to the VPN appliance, that your IT team will never get around to applying.  If you are a VPN administrator, I am sorry, but you know your users don’t like these. :)

Screenshot (5)

New Tile Sizes

This isn’t really specific to RT, but I do like the new tile sizes just as I like them on Windows Phone 8. It gives you a lot of flexibility on how you maximize your screen real estate.  If the tile doesn’t actually update, there is no need for it to be huge.

Screenshot (3)

I am kind of liking the new super tiles too.  I can see those being useful for certain scenarios.  You’ll also notice I have four rows of tiles.  You can get this by swiping in from the right to go the Settings charm –> Tiles –> Show more tiles.

Screenshot (11)

Xbox Music

I gave the previous Music app several tries.  All it did is success in frustrating me.  It was just so slow an unresponsive.  I haven’t used the new app a ton yet, but it already looks a lot better and feels faster.  I think this might be an interface I can work with.  As Scott Hanselman pointed out, you can even include your SD card in your music library without a bunch of hacks.

Screenshot (7)

This is some of the pre-loaded music included.  As we speak, it’s currently adding my library off the SD card so I didn’t have more songs to show.

Quiet Hours

Scott also pointed this out in his post.  I work with a team in Dubai and this is huge for me.  They come online 9 hours before I do.  That means, when I am going to sleep, they are sending me E-mails.  Sometimes, I forget to lower the sound volume and I have been woken up more than once because of it.

Alarms

At one point it occurred to me after I bought my Surface RT, that there was no alarm feature.  I am glad that they have taken the time to add this functionality.  I haven’t tested it yet, but my assumption is that it should wake me up even when my device is running in connected standby mode.  Will it work with a Surface Pro in regular standby mode?  I’m curious to know the answer.  Someone try it out and let me know.  I’ll also be trying the alarm functionality tomorrow morning to see if I can rely on it some day to get me up to go to an airport.

Screenshot (10)

What’s broken?

As with any beta software, we expect issues.  The device is stable.  The main thing that is not working for me right now is the Pictures app.  It simply doesn’t show anything from Skydrive, Facebook, etc.  It also crashes quite often too.  I’m sure we won’t have to wait for another build though.  Since it’s an app, we’ll probably see an update before long at all.

Conclusion

I’ve been particularly excited about this update for my @Surface RT.  It makes it an even better device.  What do you think?  For those considering a Surface Pro were any of these items a blocker before? 

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Corey Roth

Corey Roth, a SharePoint Server MVP, is a consultant at Hitachi Consulting specializing in SharePoint and Office 365 for clients in the energy sector. He has more than ten years of experience delivering solutions in the energy, travel, advertising and consumer electronics verticals.

Corey specializes in delivering ECM and search solutions to clients using SharePoint. Corey has always focused on rapid adoption of new Microsoft technologies including Visual Studio 2013, Office 365, and SharePoint.

He is a member of the .NET Mafia (www.dotnetmafia.com) where he blogs about the latest technology and SharePoint. He is dedicated to the community and speaks regularly at user groups and SharePoint Saturdays.

@ThingsExpo Stories
"We have seen the evolution of WebRTC right from the starting point to what it has become today, that people are using in real applications," noted Dr. Natasha Tamaskar, Vice President and Head of Cloud and Mobile Strategy and Ecosystem at GENBAND, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at WebRTC Summit, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
The 3rd International WebRTC Summit, to be held Nov. 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 15th International Cloud Expo, 6th International Big Data Expo, 3rd International DevOps Summit and 2nd Internet of @ThingsExpo. WebRTC (Web-based Real-Time Communication) is an open source project supported by Google, Mozilla and Opera that aims to enable bro...
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society-changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jason Mondanaro, Director, Product Management at Metanga, discussed how you can plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change the world and it starts with business models and monetization strategies.
Internet of Things (IoT) will be a hybrid ecosystem of diverse devices and sensors collaborating with operational and enterprise systems to create the next big application. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Bramh Gupta, founder and CEO of robomq.io, and Fred Yatzeck, principal architect leading product development at robomq.io, discussed how choosing the right middleware and integration strategy from the get-go will enable IoT solution developers to adapt and grow with the industry, while at the same time reduce Time to Market (TTM) by using plug and play capabilities offered by a robust IoT ...
The 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 17th International Cloud Expo - to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - announces that its Call for Papers is open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than
SYS-CON Events announced today that ProfitBricks, the provider of painless cloud infrastructure, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ProfitBricks is the IaaS provider that offers a painless cloud experience for all IT users, with no learning curve. ProfitBricks boasts flexible cloud servers and networking, an integrated Data Center Designer tool for visual control over the cloud and the best price/performance value available. ProfitBricks was named one of the coolest Clo...
17th Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises are using some form of XaaS – software, platform, and infrastructure as a service.
"In the IoT space we are helping customers, mostly enterprises and industry verticals where time-to-value is critical, and we help them with the ability to do faster insights and actions using our platform so they can transform their business operations," explained Venkat Eswara, VP of Marketing at Vitria, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Discussions about cloud computing are evolving into discussions about enterprise IT in general. As enterprises increasingly migrate toward their own unique clouds, new issues such as the use of containers and microservices emerge to keep things interesting. In this Power Panel at 16th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the state of cloud computing today, and what enterprise IT professionals need to know about how the latest topics and trends affect their organization.
WebRTC converts the entire network into a ubiquitous communications cloud thereby connecting anytime, anywhere through any point. In his session at WebRTC Summit,, Mark Castleman, EIR at Bell Labs and Head of Future X Labs, will discuss how the transformational nature of communications is achieved through the democratizing force of WebRTC. WebRTC is doing for voice what HTML did for web content.
To many people, IoT is a buzzword whose value is not understood. Many people think IoT is all about wearables and home automation. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, discussed some incredible game-changing use cases and how they are transforming industries like agriculture, manufacturing, health care, and smart cities. He will discuss cool technologies like smart dust, robotics, smart labels, and much more. Prepare to be blown away with a glimpse of the future.
Connected things, systems and people can provide information to other things, systems and people and initiate actions for each other that result in new service possibilities. By taking a look at the impact of Internet of Things when it transitions to a highly connected services marketplace we can understand how connecting the right “things” and leveraging the right partners can provide enormous impact to your business’ growth and success. In her general session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, VP, Marketing Enterprise and Cloud at Ericsson, discussed how this exciting emergence of layers of...
The 17th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. 17th International Cloud Expo, to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Microservices, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal today!
The 5th International DevOps Summit, co-located with 17th International Cloud Expo – being held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real results. Among the proven benefits, DevOps is corr...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal an...
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed this very serious issue of profound change in the industry.
SYS-CON Events announced today that kintone has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. kintone promotes cloud-based workgroup productivity, transparency and profitability with a seamless collaboration space, build your own business application (BYOA) platform, and workflow automation system.
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists peeled away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud environment, and we must architect and code accordingly. At the very least, you'll have no problem fillin...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems, described how to revolutionize your archit...
In his General Session at 16th Cloud Expo, David Shacochis, host of The Hybrid IT Files podcast and Vice President at CenturyLink, investigated three key trends of the “gigabit economy" though the story of a Fortune 500 communications company in transformation. Narrating how multi-modal hybrid IT, service automation, and agile delivery all intersect, he will cover the role of storytelling and empathy in achieving strategic alignment between the enterprise and its information technology.