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On The Surface

I have the opportunity to use a Microsoft Surface 3 (S3) tablet computer. My son Steven has shared one with me that was given to him for business construction site use. However, the IT group refused to support the Surface tablet and it was not allowed to use the company VPN connections. I think because it was the first WIN10 PC they had seen and didn’t like the constant auto updates that are out of their control. Company policy is only IT is permitted to provide OS updates. That made the S3 totally useless for use on his construction project work. IT had installed the VPN software, but must have changed their thinking. WIN 10 changes how computers get upgraded in corporate IT.

The S3 computer simply wasted away on a shelf for 16 to 18 months totally unused. Steve didn’t need to lug two PC computers around. He already had a company “approved” standard laptop. The S3 battery went flat and the Operating System (Windows 10) was far out of date with no upgrades. Microsoft made some major changes to the original WIN 10 OS. The newest version is quite different.

There were some damaged system files on the S3 that were preventing me from completing the required OS upgrades. Maybe something IT did to prevent auto updates. The infamous Microsoft BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) was occurring over and over as I attempted to do the upgrade. After extensive internet research on error codes, I determined I would have to totally strip off the original OS and do a bare bones restore /upgrade. It was the Microsoft published recommendation.

I found the software necessary to make and use a USB boot drive on Microsoft Support. About 8 Gig and a complex process of working with the old system to not lose the WIN10 registration to the S3 tablet. Luckily, I had the ability to get what I needed off the S3 machine without getting the BSOD.

I spent more than 24 hours on the OS restoration and now I have a perfectly clean and operating Microsoft S3 Tablet. It’s not the computer or keyboard I am used to operating, but I am getting the feel for the flat keyboard. The rather slow (but low power) 1.6 GHz quad core Atom processor can do the job.

The newer version of the S3 tablet uses a more powerful processor, probably needs more battery and sells for over twice the price of this version 3. I don’t know if that could be justified in my budget. I would have to really like using a tablet PC. The price is what it is, if you want a new version of the Surface. I like S3 so far, as it is a new experience. I don’t think I would want it as my only computer since I have a very nice Desk machine and large screen. The S3 tablet can drive a large screen monitor but without the touch feature.

The S3 is very well built with metal parts and a glass screen. I was also surprised that the keyboard is lighted while typing. The lighting turns off when not being used. An amazing feature in my opinion, for a detachable keyboard.

So many cool little features are present on this computer, I am impressed. I have only been using it for a few hours, so I need to spend a lot more time to really determine how well I will like this machine. There is much more to this machine than first meets the eye. I don’t have the user manual so it’s fun discovering what all is here. I did find one available in PDF on the internet. For example, I literally haven’t scratched the surface in using the pen features.

I have free reign on what applications and programs I want to install on this tablet. I have a multi install (my use) subscription to Office 365. I have installed the full suite on this machine. No problem (as expected). I am using Word to compose this post. I have the Adobe Photo suite subscription and I will load that on here too if the subscription permits. I think it does…

This machine has a 128 GB solid state drive (SSD). Only about 80 GB available for storage. Not a huge amount of memory, but adequate for some nice applications. A small tablet like this is not intended for heavy duty commercial programs.

A tablet like this can take advantage of network and cloud drives for file storage. There is a micro memory card slot on the back of the tablet and up to a 400 GB capacity card can be installed. I ordered a 200 GB micro disk from Cost about $75.00. I can live with that. 400 GB are available if willing to pay the price. I am not, ha! The link to my LAN drive and Cloud servers are working well if needed.

It is not good practice to store data only in a portable computer. Damage and loss are always a possibility. The cloud is probably the most secure storage from hardware failure these days, but doesn’t ensure no one else will have access. I never assume privacy. I just don’t produce anything that I am worried about being discovered or uncovered someday. Most politicians these days seem to be ignorant of these possibilities.

I’ll post more and probably repeat myself as I gain user experience with the S3 tablet computer. It’s fun to use and explore and I will see how it “wears” on me in the longer term. It’s WIN 10 after all, and I have learned to accept the “special needs” of this OS. The entire design of WIN 10 was for this style computer. Microsoft thought tablet touch screen computing was the major future direction of personal computing. I don’t know if they still do… it’s a niche they went overboard to fill. Now I have a chance to find out what it really can do.

Stay tuned…

Tablet Wars

The company for whom I have been working, is going to supply me with an iPad so I can assist with review their new product, which is a Service Book application running on iPad. It is the project for which I was hired and have been involved. Now I will be able to see it in action. Much desired for my understanding of what I am doing.

I am not sure what they will provide other than it’s an iPad. Anything (even 2nd hand) is better than none. <ha!> I am familiar with iPad operation as I have been the IT support for my wife’s iPad. I think it is the version 2 and is 6 or 7 years old. Still going strong and perfectly adequate.

She is a constant user of her iPad so it was not something I could commandeer for my business use. She doesn’t enjoy when things change in her iPad experience. Upgrades drive her crazy.

This opportunity for using my own (or loaner?) iPad gave me he desire to do some research on where the state-of-the-art and prices are with today’s tablet devices. I am not interested is the Android systems as Win 10, Linux and Apple are quite enough OS’s to be playing in.

I own a very old Apple MAC mini I purchased maybe a year after they first came out. It’s well over 10 years old. The files dates on some of the software certify this. No OS updates available for it’s  ancient processor but it still runs just like it did a decade ago. I wanted to experience the “Apple OS” experience through playing with the MAC mini for awhile. Now I am back in the Apple OS mode…

I checked the top line, latest iPad Pro and is an expensive bugger. Especially when the keyboard and pen are added to the mix. Being a tech junkie I always covet the high end hardware. There is a marketing video with a cute young girl (with large glasses) spending the day with her $$ full-house iPad Pro and supposedly not aware it was a computer. Probably no sense of purchase cost. Just something a carefree kid needs. Ah… that’s Apple marketing.

My son has a Microsoft Surface 3 tablet that he hasn’t used for more than a year. He is charging the battery and bringing it over so I can “play” with it. Designed as a competitor for the iPad (et-al) it will be interesting to see how WIN10 operates on a real tablet computer.

The latest new version of the Surface is also a very expensive package when the keyboard and pen are added. I was attracted to the Microsoft Surface when it first, uh… surfaced. The cost and marginal specs kept it out of my consideration. Then my son received one for his work, but the company IT group refused to support or allow it access to the VPN connection. So it became a useless tool and he just put it on the shelf for more than a year.

The newer versions of Surface have better hardware specs than the version 3, but are more than twice to original cost of the Surface 3 when new. Surface 3’s can still be purchased at about half of their original price. The 3 went out of production at the end of 2016, so it’s not all that old.

I admit I am a bit excited to have a few tablet “toys” to play with during the holidays. I don’t know how long I will be able to keep either one. Hopefully for some good length of time. If either one goes back to their owner, I can decide how much I have to have my own, or not.

That’s is a great opportunity for a retired guy. No cash outlay for a real user experience.

I own a tiny Asus Netbook PC that I loaded with the Xubuntu OS, and I enjoy using it from time to time… like right now. The screen height is too short for most applications but it is usable with scrolling. Not a touch screen and the keyboard is attached like a regular laptop, It’s about 8 years old.

I bought it low cost as “refurbished” and it was actually brand new with a higher capacity battery update. Couldn’t be sold as new. The original release had poor battery battery life. Currently this one is good for about 4 hours. I wouldn’t buy another. It IS a good machine for text writing and receiving email. There are some blog posts here in this blog.

The netbook was intended for my wife’s use for email and web browsing as she was recovering from cancer. Too weak to get to the MAC mini and very low white cell count required staying in isolation. I soon gave her the iPad at Christmas time, as a replacement for the netbook and she has never put the iPad down since.

I had a regular laptop from my company when I was fully employed, but almost all of my may regular use PCs are the wired power type. Includes the three in my workshop for CNC use. I don’t have a real need for total portability around the house. The netbook as been enough. The tablets will be a new experience.

That doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy the new “toys” while I have them. Ha! I will have some thing(s) and new experiences to post in my blogs!


IOT – Internet of Things

Internet Of Things

I stumbled onto and watched an intriguing cable network channel containing programs about Cyber-warfare. As all these specialized channels have become, they are more about drawing in viewers such as myself, than presenting impartial reporting. They all have an agenda, that suits their purpose.

That understood, it still presented a story, many stories , that  need to be heard. Most people will not understand what was shown, but people like myself, raised in a developing world of embedded computing, and have worked in the industry, know exactly what was being said.

Many and perhaps most of the electrical appliances or devices […] Continue reading » IOT – Internet of Things

RING Issues

Ring Pro Confidence

At first, the RING doorbell looked like it would do exactly what I expected. Be there to monitor activity at my front door. But it has fallen seriously short of expectation in only the first week since installation.

The hardware is fine. It works. The problem is the Internet servers used by RING to process and store the video. On the afternoon of October 31 (Halloween eve) the servers quit working. The error messages made it look like it was my hardware. I checked with my son who has a RING installation miles away and his system was off-line also. It […] Continue reading » RING Issues

Sign of the Times

I had to spend some of my hard-earned retirement funds on a new doorbell button. It’s a bit more than a button. It is the “Ring” video monitor doorbell button.

Halloween is here, and it will be fun capturing the visitors, but that is not the reason I made the investment. We are in an age of front door delivery. A lot of services leave packages at the door. Some ring the bell and some just drop and run. A few will knock. There is no consistency, not even with the same carrier.

Amazon and UPS are […] Continue reading » Sign of the Times