Why I’m thinking about going back to a PC

I spent years hating all things Apple, after all I was a technology professional and did “real work” MacBooks are for creative types and such. Then things started to change, Apple made Windows on the Mac a possibility, and the iPhone was the must have device for business professionals. The urge to learn how to write iPhone applications combined with the ability to retain my current working environment pushed me over to the dark side and I transitioned to a MacBook.

Most people will tell you the transition from Windows to Mac is simple. Being a Windows power user, I’ll tell you it was painful. While the Mac OS is good, it’s simply not Windows and new things take time to learn, and even longer to understand. Additionally it was a hit to my ego when I had to google how to complete what I thought were simple tasks on a PC. (Ex: Command – Shift – 3) Still in time I learned the ins-and-outs of OSX and learned to love my new experience.

OSX was stable, things just worked, and the Macbook hardware was out of this world. I used Parallels and brought Windows into my OSX world and everything was wonderful. It was so good, I’ve said, and will continue to say my best Windows experience has been on my Mac. So if I’m so happy why go back?

It could be boredom, or perhaps the newness has worn off but I continually find things I want to do better. Office on the Mac just isn’t as good as it is on the PC, yes I know there are alternatives, but Office is what I know and like. Chrome on my Macbook stinks, it’s almost like Google has a personal vendetta against my moving to Mac. This doesn’t seem to be an issue with others but wow, my Mac won’t run Chrome. Then there is the big one, I want a tablet.

I was a Windows tablet user before tablets were cool. I’ve owned about every iPad released and none are as good as my Windows tablet. I’m also sick of carrying multiple devices. If I have to be honest about why I want to change it boils down to choice, I want the ability to be smart enough to know what form factor fits me best. That’s not something Apple will ever offer. Apple makes great tools and those tools are normally very stable, but you lose the individuality that makes technology interesting. I think that’s what I miss the most, and why I’m likely to change.

I’ll keep my iPhone, but I’ll dump the Macbook and iPad for a Surface Pro 3 and be happy with knowing I have choices. I’ll carry fewer devices and chargers. Office and Chrome will work as will the third party plug-ins I’ve come to enjoy. I’m sure I’ll have the normal gambit of PC/Windows issues, but I am a technology professional after all.

Do you think I’m crazy? Love or hate MacBooks or the Surface? Let me know.


Wearable Tech

Remember when Google Glass was going to change the world? I do, but it didn’t happen, and for good reason. Technology needs to add value but remain transparent. While Google Glass did add value it made people look like dorks. For wearable tech to function it must serve a purpose and fade into the background.

Watches seem to be this year’s big thing. To me a watch is useless, something that was replaced by the smartphone. Quite honestly I dismissed the smart watch the first time I saw it. I ignored it with the exception of poking fun of it during presentations. It wasn’t until took a hard look at my smartphone usage that a smart watch started to make sense.

While retrieving my phone from my pocket isn’t that difficult it is a distraction during meetings and especially during dinner. I often get “the look” from my wife for responding the constant vibration of my phone. This is where a smart watch is an elegant solution, it allows the user to be informed and when needed ignore information as it’s delivered. That’s the value I’ve found, the ability to ignore things of low importance.

I know, I know, it sounds silly that I found value in the ability to ignore things. Just think about it, your day is full of constant distractions. Most of these can be safely ignored yet we balk at the idea of turning off a device, or even disabling an alert. The ability to quickly scan an incoming message and dismiss it something I find value in. The question becomes, how much?

The reality is companies are filling smart watches up with a number of features that simply don’t appeal to me. This is driving the price way up, and the price to value ratio is out of balance. In addition to this I have the fear that I’ll need to constantly replace my watch the way I replace my phone. I simply don’t want to commit to another bi-annual expense for portable technology. After all I’m buying a new phone and tablet ever other year now.

As technology improves and we see the Internet of things grow, it would make sense to me that so will the smart watch adoption. This is where I see the value of wearable tech increasing. Don’t believe me? Think about the value we find from not digging for our keys to start our cars. Push button start is all the rage, and the value add is something we normally don’t think about. Now think about some of these scenarios:

  1. The ability to unlock/start your car with something you’re wearing.
  2. The ability to unlock your home, or set the temperature with your wearable device.
  3. Consolidating your loyalty cards into your watch for easy scanning.
  4. Payments made as simple as tapping your wrist to a payment device.
  5. Canceling a call from your Ex without ever looking at your phone.

While we are likely not to find value in all the features offered, in time we will come to find our high value features and love wearable tech. Is a watch the best form factor, I doubt it but it seems good enough for now. If smart watches fail I doubt it will be from a lack of features but more likely excessive cost, combined with frequent upgrades. Regardless I think I’ll own one, worst case is I’ve paid way too much to have a device that keeps perfect time. Will you be buying a smart watch this year?

Windows XP Support Ending Soon

Microsoft Windows XP And Office 2003 with hit the end of it’s support lifecycle on April 8th, 2014.


Microsoft’s product lifecycle requires that Windows and Office version be supported for a minimum of 10 years. This includes 5 years of mainstream support (improvements, service packs and regular updates) and 5 years of extended support (critical updates only). Windows XP was released in 2001, about the same time that Palm Pilots were popular and flip phones were the rage. As with all technology and certain Toronto mayors, sooner or later it gets a bit long in the tooth and needs to be replaced.


End of support for Windows means that no further updates of any kind will be provided for Windows XP or Office 2003. Also, support options, both free and paid, will be removed from Microsoft’s offerings. A lack of security updates leaves remaining Windows XP users open to any future security vulnerabilities and puts their computers at risk. With this lack of support from Microsoft, most hardware companies and third party software companies will also end support for Windows XP and Office 2003, meaning that any new issues encountered will go unaddressed. (Don’t get too angry. When these products were released, Destiny’s Child was still topping the Billboard charts.)


While it’s technically possible to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 8, it’s difficult and not something I’d recommend. In simple terms, you’ve waited too long to upgrade and technology has passed you by. The good news is that you’ve had a decade to save up pennies for something better! The easiest solution might be to simply invest in a new PC and migrate your data. After all, it’s the holiday season and you deserve a new shiny piece of tech goodness to brighten your mood.


Okay, so you’re ready to break up with your 100 year old machine (in computer years). You’ve said your final goodbyes, and went for a drive to cool down while XP finished shutting down for the last time. Now what?

  • A new Windows box: If you’re ready to settle down with Redmond’s offerings for another decade, you could pick up a Windows 8.1 laptop. Regardless of how you feel about the new look and feel, Windows is still the standard for enterprise and the best bet for running Microsoft Office proper (for all your exciting pivot charts). A good Windows laptop will run from $500 to $2000.

  • Get a Mac: You could go the hipster route as well and pick up a new MacBook Air, starting at about $1000. Apple produces great hardware, and although their latest operating system is rather buggy, if you’re already used to the iPad and iPhone, this route would be less of a learning curve than it would be otherwise.

  • Go Googley: As a third option, you could pick up a new Chromebook, available in models ranging from sub $200 to $1200. If you’re used to using a web browser and this makes up most of what you do, a Chromebook is a very affordable and accessible computer — and will also keep itself up-to-date until Google stops supporting it.

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Embracing Inbox Zero for better productivity, security

Now more than ever I believe Inbox Zero is one of the most important technology processes a professional can adopt. The number of security breaches surrounding email has exploded, the amount of information communicated electronically is overwhelming, and the number of devices accessing and storing email is continually growing. All of these are great reasons to take some time to develop a process of protection: to protect your time, your data, and most of all protect your sanity.

Not sure what I’m talking about? You can find the full details of Inbox Zero at http://inboxzero.com/. For those who want the cliffsnotes version stick with me.

The idea of Inbox Zero is to get your mind out of email and onto productive tasks. I like to think of it as a framework that you can use to build an email processing system that works the way you want to work. The basic concept is simple. Choose times and process out your email by taking some simple actions.

  • Do – If the mail is something you can complete in a couple minutes just do it, don’t save it for later. Complete the task and delete the email.
  • Delegate – If the email is something that someone else could or should do then delegate it. Don’t hang on to tasks you won’t have the time to complete.
  • Defer – This is the one that gets people in trouble but the idea here is to take these items and move them out of the inbox into a schedule that ensures they actually get done. For me, this is my calendar. I force myself to make time within my schedule to complete these tasks.
  • Delete – This is the most important. Get rid of those things you don’t need.

You will notice that I specified “choose times to process your email.” What this means is removing the random bings, pings, and dings we all get when we receive an email. This keeps your mind out of email and focused on the task at hand. Meanwhile, if you have time set aside to process emails, you can rest assured you’ll still respond in a timely fashion. These replies will be dedicated to the task at hand, and normally result in better overall communications.

Keeping a clean inbox keeps you on task and ensures better communications, but those aren’t the only reasons email processing is important. Email is a huge security target and we increasingly make it less secure. Think about how many emails you currently have that contain confidential or proprietary information. What is the real impact of your email being breached? Now think about how easy and convenient it is to access your email. Can you access email nearly everywhere? Most will say yes, and this becomes the problem.

With convenience comes risk. Cloud based email systems have remote help desks with social engineering vulnerabilities. Mobile devices are easily lost and have real time access to all that email you’ve stored. We connect to email on any network available – coffee shops, airports, fast food restaurants – it doesn’t matter, we’re always checking email. All of these are risk points, and the more information you have in your email the more information you lose when your email is compromised. Processing out your email mitigates this risk.

So if you want a quick boost in productivity, and a bit more security checkout Inbox Zero and see what processes you can utilize to clean up your email.

The Wallaby Card: One card to rule them all

Screen Shot 2012-12-20 at 9.04.10 AMSay goodbye to carrying around multiple credit cards with different rewards programs in your wallet. Many credit cards have rewards that change monthly, and who has time remember them all?

Stop paying fees for your various cards, and not getting any rewards. Wallaby Financial offers a smart card to make sure you don’t miss out on any bonuses again. Simply tell Wallaby what credit card you have; what you want to earn and they will mail you a Wallaby card to use at stores and online.

Every time you use it, Wallaby will crunch the numbers and determine which card will give you the best deal and send the purchase to that card.

For example, if you get rewards on one of your credit cards for using it at the gas station, Wallaby will recognize that and send your gas purchase to that card so you’ll get the rewards. The advantage is not having to remember which rewards are associated with one of your many credit cards and still reaping the rewards.

Wallaby Financial claims that their Wallaby Card is not a new line of credit or a new checking or debit account and there is no credit check and no new bills to pay. Just pay on your regular statements every month like you normally would. You can add and delete cards and change your preferences at any time via the web or through their Android or iPhone apps.

Get started at www.walla.by.

CardMunch: Business cards solved

CardMunchShuffling through piles of business cards that haven’t managed to get lost is not efficient. iPhone users can now utilize CardMunch to capture the business card’s image, which is then transcribed, edited and reviewed by humans, not computers to guarantee accuracy.

Powered by LinkedIn, CardMunch allows you to connect on LinkedIn with the contact whose business card you just scanned, and boasts a full-text search including name, address, and even notes.

Working with your iPhone’s address book, CardMunch syncs your existing contacts providing flexibility to store contact information in your iPhone address book or CardMunch.

The best part about CardMunch: it’s absolutely free!

Currently CardMunch is only available through the Apple App Store, but look for it to be available to BlackBerry users soon.

Learn more at cardmunch.com/howitworks.