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IT ‘experts’ and Mac Biases

IT ‘experts’ and Mac Biases

David Sparks discusses anti-Mac prejudices he has experienced when presenting at various functions.

Many (but hardly all) of the IT professionals serving these industries have been far too busy earning Microsoft certifications to pay any attention to Apple and they are not only unhelpful, they can actively lob hand grenades at your attempts to get any work done with your Mac.

I have a number of friends and colleagues who work as IT professionals who, seemingly, have similar anti-Mac biases.

Macsparky is on the money with the idea that Microsoft Certifications, at least in part, at the core of the problem. Microsoft has done a good job convincing employers that they should hire people with these skills, and thus lots of IT specialists chase those certifications.

In my own pre-Mac days I undoubtedly had similar biases. But it is certainly my own experience in the past six years of Mac usage that plug and play functionality is stronger in Macs than in Windows machines.

I personally try not to present if I am forced to use a Windows machine.

Windows – The Wrong Platform for Presentations?

Windows – The Wrong Platform for Presentations?

Windows PCs should not be used for Presenting

One of the best events I get to go to every couple of years is OZTeK, a conference that focuses on the science, technology and mentality of diving on the cutting edge. It’s even cooler (for me) that for the third time this year, I was one of the MCs of OZTeK.

With a variety of the world’s best speakers in diving, including the likes of Jill Heinerth, Simon Mitchell, Michael Menduno and many others, I consider OZTeK to be a TEDx of tec diving. The presenters are fantastic, and have wonderful stories to tell. As with all presentations everywhere, the quality and style of the supporting media was varied.

Consisting mostly of PowerPoint slides and some supporting video, some of the media actively supported and added to the stories, and some were neutral. Unfortunately, a small number even detracted from the presentations. What was cool was that a few presenters chose to ditch the slides altogether, and instead just spoke. They had good stories, and were clearly passionate about those stories.

I give a lot of presentations, and these days am doing more and more of them from my iPad. My MacBook Air continues, however, to be my main presentation device. What I like about presenting from the Mac is that once you’re in presentation mode in Keynote, the Mac gets out of your way. I would be loathe to use a Windows machine for presenting these days, and my experience at OZTeK only reaffirmed that. You see, Windows machines (provided by the contracted AV company I believe) were used in the conference rooms for presenting.

The biggest problem with Windows is that it is an interuptive device. Windows machines, the Windows OS and Windows applications are often attention seeking little suckers, popping up left, right and centre, craving for you to do something. Or nothing. But at least talk to it, or it will do something anyway.


On several occasions, the little popup bubble shown on the right popped its head up. This one isn’t too bad, because at least it doens’t stop the presentation running. To be fair, notifications in OSX (using Growl or Notifications Center) do much the same. In all cases, these can (and should) be turned off. Especially if you use notification centre for other things, like emails, iMessages, etc…

With Windows, however, the default setting seems to be for the system to automatically download the update (and aren’t there a lot of Windows updates) and for many of these updates to require a restart. Which it also does automatically, although at least the system is nice enough to give you a warning.

Restart coming

Problem is that it will kick you out of what you are doing – even if you are presenting. In presentation mode. You, the presenter, are talking away and start to notice some of your audience giggling. You turn and see the screen. You rush over to hit the “Restart Later” button, because it seems that mostly you have 60 seconds to do so.

Presentation machines – Windows, OSX or even iPads – need to be setup so that once in presentation mode all notifications are automatically blocked from popping up and interupting. And they should never be allowed to kick you out of what you are doing.

With Mac OSX and iOS devices, turning off notifications is quite easy. With Windows, the interuptiveness is deeply embedded in the architecture. It is possible to turn things off, but (in my experience) the process is like the little boy plugging the holes of the dam with his fingers. After plugging 10 holes, things get interesting. And there’s always another hole.

So, as a presenter, I would suggest that you present from a device that allows you to turn off all interuptions. Of course, some notifications might be exceptions – you would want to know if you’ve got a critical battery issue, and you and your audience might want to know if the Centers for Disease Control announce a zombie outbreak.

In my opinion, Windows PC’s are not the right device to present from.

Samsung US Not Going to Market With Windows RT Tablets ⟶

Samsung US Not Going to Market With Windows RT Tablets ⟶

According to CNET, the US head of Samsung’s PC & tablet business has indicated that Samsung has dropped plans to bring to market (at least in the US) a Windows RT based tablet.

Abary noted Samsung reached its decision about he device, dubbed the Ativ Tab, for two main reasons. First, feedback from its retail partners indicated demand for such products is only modest. Second, Samsung determined it would take a lot of investment to inform consumers about the benefits of Windows RT

Jim Dalrymple put it best:

Ouch

Favourite Productivity Applications Revisited

Favourite Productivity Applications Revisited

In May last year, I blogged about my (then) favourite productivity applications. As co-host of the Personal Productivity podcast, and a long time seeker on the journey to improve my personal productivity, I’ve studied and experimented with a lot of methodologies, tools, gadgets and software applications to assist me in my quest.
As regular readers of this blog know, my own system is based on David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology, with some influence from Stephen Covey, Asian and Western philosophy and life lessons I’ve learned in work, life, scuba diving and karate.

Now before I get to heavily into this discussion, I want to emphasise that it is important to focus on working with your productivity system, as opposed to on it. I see a classic trap (one that I have been guilty of falling into myself) is to procrastinate by working on the system too much, trying to change things, playing with every tool/gadget/application available. You really need to understand the techniques and principles of your system before modifying it too much. See my post on Shu-Ha-Ri and GTD for more discussion on that topic.

Last year I had a list of 5 applications that I counted as favourites.

    • MindManager
    • ActiveWords
    • Anagram
    • Copernic Desktop Search
    • Bloglines

Whats interesting is that three of the 4 still number in my new expanded list. One has been replaced by a competitor, for reasons I’ll discuss.

So without any further ado, here’s my newly updated and expanded list of Favourite Personal Productivity Applications.

    1. ActiveWords – still a big hitter. This tool allows you to control your PC from any application and in context. The addition of the InkPad for TabletPC’s has been fantastic.
    1. Anagram – an easy way to capture stuff directly into Outlook or Palm Desktop. I debated whether to leave this on the list, as I don’t use Palm anymore, and I don’t like the current iterations of Outlook. But I still use Anagram to get stuff into Outlook and then onto my O2 XDA IIi.
    1. Backpack – this is a fantastic web based tool from 37Signals. Its a place where I can collect my “stuff” online, as well as organise it. Its the repository for my Next Actions and Projects lists, and a place where I collect stuff for projects, presentations and so on. I really love the ability to be able to email stuff to my pages, the mobile version and the ability to share selected pages with selected people. It is elegant simplicity personified.
    1. Bloglines – as I maintain a blogroll of approximately 300 feeds, and use several computers, I want a good browser based tool to manage my feeds well, and keep stuff in sync. To be honest, I got fed up with Bloglines for a while (when they had lots of availability issues), and defected to NewsGator/FeedDemon. I had FeedDemon on 2 main computers, but the syncing engine from NewsGator was temperamental, and I don’t like their NewsGator Online version in a browser. Bloglines has improved heaps, and are back on my list.
    1. Firefox – what a great browser. Especially since the release of version 1.5, I love this browser, and with more of my favourite apps being browser based (e.g. Bloglines, and several AJAX/Web 2.0 apps) I love the tabbed interface, and the extensions. Some great extensions include Performancing for Firefox (blog writing tool), Xinha Here, Livelines, Foxmarks, IE View, and the cool del.icio.us extension.
    1. gmail – I’ve moved all my personal email over to gmail. I love the labelling capabilities, the archiving and the easy search functionality. I do wish they’d listen to users, and give us a delete button.
    1. Google Desktop Search – Last year I rated Copernic Desktop Search, and I still really like that program. The reason for the switch – Google Desktop Search is well integrated to gmail and MindManager, and has an easy browser interface.
    1. Lotus Notes – a perennially cool application. Email in Notes is wonderful – I really appreciate simple touches like Send and Save. The collaboration functionality is outstanding, and I believe this is the best enterprise class messaging system. I am not sure why I didn’t include Lotus Notes last time ’round.
    1. NetVibes – an outstanding homepage based on the AJAX framework. This is my dashboard – I can see a bunch of key stuff in one place. On my page, I have websearch, and then feeds from tech.memeorandum, DIGG, del.icio.us/popular and Tailrank. I also have a display of my own MyComments field. This way I can quickly view whats popular in the blogosphere and also track my most recent commenting activity on other blogs. I’d like to see a world clock on this page to track current times in other zones. I have played around with other AJAX desktops, including Google IG and Protopage, both of which I like. NetVibes is the best for me though.
    1. Skype – my IM and VoIP tool of choice.

There are a couple of other applications that are on the radar, but have not yet made the leap to be a favourite for me. These include Writely (online word processor) and AirSet (online PIM). Writely is very cool, and I think will make the grade very soon. AirSet I am less sure about. Its interface is a bit clunky, and I dislike that I have to sync through Outlook to my PDA.