Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: SmartBear Blog, Elizabeth White, Waqar Ahmad, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan

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
The IoT has the potential to create a renaissance of manufacturing in the US and elsewhere. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Florent Solt, CTO and chief architect of Netvibes, will discuss how the expected exponential increase in the amount of data that will be processed, transported, stored, and accessed means there will be a huge demand for smart technologies to deliver it. Florent Solt is the CTO and chief architect of Netvibes. Prior to joining Netvibes in 2007, he co-founded Rift Technol...
Join IBM June 8 at 18th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn how to innovate like a startup and scale for the enterprise. You need to deliver quality applications faster and cheaper, attract and retain customers with an engaging experience across devices, and seamlessly integrate your enterprise systems. And you can't take 12 months to do it.
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, will discuss how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to im...
This is not a small hotel event. It is also not a big vendor party where politicians and entertainers are more important than real content. This is Cloud Expo, the world's longest-running conference and exhibition focused on Cloud Computing and all that it entails. If you want serious presentations and valuable insight about Cloud Computing for three straight days, then register now for Cloud Expo.
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, will provide tips on how to be successful in large scale machine lear...
IoT device adoption is growing at staggering rates, and with it comes opportunity for developers to meet consumer demand for an ever more connected world. Wireless communication is the key part of the encompassing components of any IoT device. Wireless connectivity enhances the device utility at the expense of ease of use and deployment challenges. Since connectivity is fundamental for IoT device development, engineers must understand how to overcome the hurdles inherent in incorporating multipl...
The paradigm has shifted. A Gartner survey shows that 43% of organizations are using or plan to implement the Internet of Things in 2016. However, not just a handful of companies are still using the old-style ad-hoc trial-and-error ways, unaware of the critical barriers, paint points, traps, and hidden roadblocks. How can you become a winner? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan will present a methodical approach to guide the holistic adoption and enablement of IoT implementations. This ov...
We’ve worked with dozens of early adopters across numerous industries and will debunk common misperceptions, which starts with understanding that many of the connected products we’ll use over the next 5 years are already products, they’re just not yet connected. With an IoT product, time-in-market provides much more essential feedback than ever before. Innovation comes from what you do with the data that the connected product provides in order to enhance the customer experience and optimize busi...
The IETF draft standard for M2M certificates is a security solution specifically designed for the demanding needs of IoT/M2M applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Brian Romansky, VP of Strategic Technology at TrustPoint Innovation, will explain how M2M certificates can efficiently enable confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity on highly constrained devices.
Artificial Intelligence has the potential to massively disrupt IoT. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, AJ Abdallat, CEO of Beyond AI, will discuss what the five main drivers are in Artificial Intelligence that could shape the future of the Internet of Things. AJ Abdallat is CEO of Beyond AI. He has over 20 years of management experience in the fields of artificial intelligence, sensors, instruments, devices and software for telecommunications, life sciences, environmental monitoring, process...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ericsson has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Ericsson is a world leader in the rapidly changing environment of communications technology – providing equipment, software and services to enable transformation through mobility. Some 40 percent of global mobile traffic runs through networks we have supplied. More than 1 billion subscribers around the world re...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Stratoscale, the software company developing the next generation data center operating system, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Stratoscale is revolutionizing the data center with a zero-to-cloud-in-minutes solution. With Stratoscale’s hardware-agnostic, Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) solution to store everything, run anything and scale everywhere...
Angular 2 is a complete re-write of the popular framework AngularJS. Programming in Angular 2 is greatly simplified – now it's a component-based well-performing framework. This immersive one-day workshop at 18th Cloud Expo, led by Yakov Fain, a Java Champion and a co-founder of the IT consultancy Farata Systems and the product company SuranceBay, will provide you with everything you wanted to know about Angular 2.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Klein, CEO and Co-founder of Rachio, will discuss next generation communities that are using IoT to create more sustainable, intelligent communities. One example is Sterling Ranch, a 10,000 home development that – with the help of Siemens – will integrate IoT technology into the community to provide residents with energy and water savings as well as intelligent security. Everything from stop lights to sprinkler systems to building infrastructures will run ef...
You deployed your app with the Bluemix PaaS and it's gaining some serious traction, so it's time to make some tweaks. Did you design your application in a way that it can scale in the cloud? Were you even thinking about the cloud when you built the app? If not, chances are your app is going to break. Check out this webcast to learn various techniques for designing applications that will scale successfully in Bluemix, for the confidence you need to take your apps to the next level and beyond.
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, will discuss how leveraging the Industrial Interne...
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
Increasing IoT connectivity is forcing enterprises to find elegant solutions to organize and visualize all incoming data from these connected devices with re-configurable dashboard widgets to effectively allow rapid decision-making for everything from immediate actions in tactical situations to strategic analysis and reporting. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Shikhir Singh, Senior Developer Relations Manager at Sencha, will discuss how to create HTML5 dashboards that interact with IoT devic...