An Apple A Day – Day 24

It’s almost go time!

Presentations:

I updated the PowerPoint presentation as if it has been edited in desktop Powerpoint and was unprepared when I was met with having to save it again as iPad PowerPoint. Haven’t quite figured out why this is a problem, but the presentation was negligible and worked the same regardless. I also decided to try out Keynote on the advice of a friend. Keynote didn’t like certain powerpoint presentations and wouldn’t open the files at all, so this option at least for now is a no go. Changing too much the day before is something I’m not too keen on doing if what I have already worked.

Next, I needed to set up some shortcuts to make web access to the pages a single touch. Essentially this is just setting bookmarks for the iPad on these pages but I did have an experience with one link that somehow went wonky and just showed up as blank and I was unable to clean it up, change it or delete it. Even Apple is not without its flaws, even if it is an app flaw. Never been a huge fan of Safari and it doesn’t work well with some things so I decided to download Chrome as well and setup universal bookmarks from my Google login just in case. Worked like a charm and expected, quick and easy.

I have linked the Global Azure Bootcamp event for those interested. Also, take a moment to visit my call to action for Mac Visual Studio parity. With the release of PowerShell 6, there is no reason we cant get PowerShell up and running bundled with Visual Studio for Mac and port over the Azure SDK. For those who use a Mac and want to do Visual Studio deployments to Azure, this would be golden.

Finally, I broke down and bought the Spotlight from Logitech. Was very pleased to see the battery life reported in the same places as everything else! A quick 2-minute charge gave me over 3 hours of use. Can’t beat that with a stick (or another presentation remote).

Well, that’s all the time I have for today! I look forward to hearing from you, leave your comments below and I’ll see you again tomorrow.

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ARM Templates For MAC – A Call For Feature Parity

Call To Action

Come one, come all. We are rallying for Microsoft to add features to allow Mac users of Visual Studio 2017 and onward to install the Azure SDK installation bundled with PowerShell so Mac users will be able to deploy ARM templates as they would in Windows.

The Case

For those of you who know me, I give a lot of talks on ARM and Azure as it’s near and dear to my heart. I recently struck out on a journey to understand more about the iOS side of the house in my most recent blog series. In my journeys, I discovered that Mac was missing some of the features I had come to love about Windows Visual Studio. Upon speaking to some of my peers they were also equally as disappointed. Even worse, the lack of the features actually turned them off to pursuing Azure as an option as they didn’t want to change their current software just to try something else and I can’t blame them. The perception is that if it required adding another tool to the toolbox at an engineer level it stands to reason this would require greater changes as it moved up the business chain. So I started a customer voice page and would like to ask for your participation.

I’m not a Microsoft only advocate, I’m a try all the available options that make sense and make an educated decision based on facts and fit advocate. With that said, I believe it’s a huge gap that Azure SDK is not available for Mac and given PowerShell (the main component behind ARM templates) is now open source, it’s wholly possible to install PowerShell on Mac now and leverage the same features in Mac that we have come to know and love in Windows.

The Ask

If you support the cause (or just want to make Visual Studio just a little better for those on Mac), make sure to make your way over and click –> Microsoft Customer Voice page <– and up-vote for this feature, the more votes the faster we can get this feature added. Thank you for all your support and making the Visual Studio community better, one vote at a time! I look forward to the feedback and comments you may have as well.

If there are other features you’d enjoy with Visual Studio or even other Microsoft products. I would recommend you create a voice and encourage others to join in the rally for your feature. You also get a set amount of points and I encourage you to peruse not only Visual studio but other Microsoft technologies and vote for other things in which you may be interested.

Thank you for your support and hopefully, together we can bring the Mac one step closer to a major gap in feature parity.

An Apple A Day – Day 23

Push it to the limit

Today I tried to discover new things to do with my Apple devices and push the limits of things I had done in the past. I committed to learning how to do one new thing and how to improve on one thing I was already doing.

I started with paying for lunch, it was simple enough to set up my ApplePay with a credit card so I could auto pay on the Square readers in the lunchroom. This was a relatively shallow learning curve and I encourage everyone with an Apple watch to set this up. It’s simple and easy and secure to use. Just double tap the button on the side and swipe your arm and 3 seconds later you’re done and got an email receipt coming your way.

*Fun math problem, this one simple act will now save me approximately 83 minutes of my life per year. That means if I live to be 80, I’ll have saved 62.25 hours of my life by just paying with a watch. I know that’s a little extreme, but one of my guiding principals is living my life to matter for each moment. Take a look at this and you’ll see why 62.25 hours of your life is nothing to laugh at.

[showhide type=”post” more_text=”Show Super Complicated Math” less_text=”Hide Super Complicated Math” hidden=”yes”]

262 working days in a year (2018)
23 seconds to pay with a card – 4 seconds to pay with watch = 19 seconds per day saved

262 * 19 = 4978 seconds

4978 seconds / 60 seconds in a minute = 82.96 minutes of my life per year saved

83 minutes * 45 years left to live = 3735 minutes saved

3735 minutes / 60 minutes in an hour = 62.25 hours of my life saved by paying with ApplePay

This means ApplePay saves lives. Who wouldn’t want a few extra days to live?

[/showhide]

Finally, for the one thing I can improve on something I already do, I chose presentation and picked buying the spotlight presentation tool for $99 while it was on sale vs. the original price of $129. This way I can have an untethered remote vs. carrying around the mini beast. The best part the price was reduced, so today I actually saved a few days of my life and a few dollars in my wallet. Not bad for a few button clicks, eh?

Well, that’s all for today, see you tomorrow where I’ll do something crazy….maybe.

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An Apple A Day – Day 22

Interview Day!!

Today I had several interviews lined up and got to try out the scribe abilities of the iPad Pro. This was great as I could make the call, pop in my AirPods and then flip over to another app entirely and walk around, sit wherever I want and interview relaxed and not tied to a desk, phone, or single location.

Interview Styles

Interview 1: For my first interview I decided that I would go for a walk and just have a conversation then transcribe my notes afterward.

Interview 2: For my second interview I decided to try a more traditional style with preselected Q/A patterns and just type the responses.

Interview 3: Last but not least for my third interview I tried out the same method but with handwritten notes in both OneNote and few other test apps, I downloaded.

Nebo is the best I could find and was quite a brilliant app. Well worth the money they ask for it. The only big gripe I have seen people have with this app was the lack of iCloud sync, luckily for me April 3rd they added not only iCloud but iPad File Manager to the mix so you can export and sync to anywhere!!!! All in all, I can say for the written portion I enjoy handwriting notes better than typing. It’s almost anachronistic, as the art of handwriting seems all but lost in today’s world.

My Secret Love Affair

So moving on to a couple of other secret love affairs with the iPad Pro I’ve been having. The first of which is writing blog articles and social media posts. It has almost become second nature and once you develop a rhythm for it, it actually doesn’t hinder production. I think part of it is because I’m not going down every little rabbit trail as you have to move around between apps on an iPad vs. piling up tons of tabs in Chrome on a desktop. This helps keep me focused.

The second love affair goes back much further, back to my days when I got my first Apple product and iPhone 3GS. How the iPhone, iPad, and Watch seem to interweave their tasks and information is pretty amazing but it comes at a price of what I like to call over-notification.

Ever since the 3GS, I’ve been obsessed with understanding ALL of the features of the settings app. There are a plethora of hidden gems that can help you optimize your daily consumption and how you interact with your apps and how they interact with other Apple devices. Each little settings category is like another little world that can be explored with more depth than even the apps they govern. I found that while it may be a little unsexy to go through every little app setting, that I haven’t had the problems others have had been plagued with battery issues or “over-notification” or improperly synced apps, settings or saves. I attribute it partly to taking the time to explore the options for each app as it’s downloaded and use it to make sure it’s optimized for my desired usage.

This may be a bit over the top for some but for me, it’s always been a keystone to optimizing my experience with the devices I use. I’ve never been one to blindly buy and use something without RTFM.

It’s been a long day, I think I will retire to the bedroom and watch a little Plex on AppleTV. Until we meet again, you know where to leave the comments.

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Azure Monitoring

Azure Monitor Voice Calling, Coming To A Cell Phone Near You!

Finally, a feature that I have long awaited….. Azure Monitor Voice Call is not in GA!

So for those not familiar with Azure Monitor, there are some really great features that allow for plugging into the monitoring infrastructure to fire certain events. Such as using alerts to trigger automated actions like autoscale, webhooks, emails, or starting an Azure Automation runbook. However, one thing missing I’ve always personally wanted is a voice call to notify me of really critical issues. This makes sense, especially for your “on-call” support staff, who mostly either have assigned phone numbers or an “on call” phone already. What better way to notify them than through a voice call rather than an email?

I’ve been very excited by the notion of voice calls for notifications since using SMS notifications and seeing the power of a simple message and how quickly I could react without having to watch my email like a hawk or wait to be pulled into a bridge call. By moving to voice, we move one step closer to initiating the opportunity to add additional servicing through modules. Imagine a day where you receive a voice call saying your infrastructure is producing 500 errors due to the load and you can be given the option to react directly over the phone via automation or get deeper information directly on the phone to whats causing it or where it’s coming from, without ever having to pop open a laptop or leave a restaurant in the middle of dinner.

If you’re not against a few more frequent calls, you could even setup voice call within an action group as a way to receive alerts and stay up to date even when you’re away from the office or your home, giving you the true flexibility to be anywhere and still be notified at the first sign of trouble.

The good news is you can also jump in and try the GA version now at preview pricing until June 1st. For a little over a penny a call you could be receiving phone calls notifying your support staff of alerts and issues.

Head on over to Microsoft to learn more about Azure Monitoring Voice Calls on the overview and pricing webpages. I’m excited to hear how you’re currently using or plan to use this new feature in Azure Monitoring.

An Apple A Day – Day 21

Strange Happenings!

A new experience emerges! I’ve had several strange happenings around having to constantly enter the iTunes store password and notifications that a watch was added to my account, my wife asked the traditional IT Crowd response, Have you tried turning it off and back on again? To which, I replied no, I haven’t rebooted my watch or phone since I got it 3 weeks ago. Upon reboot and entering my password again it went away. Wierd, I thought that joke was reserved exclusively for Windows products but seems the reboot monster is indiscriminate about the OS’s it hunts.

Presentations at their Finest

Today I went over one more live presentation with the iPad, verifying in another place and network that this way of life would still work flawlessly.

A few cool things I learned: If you are ok with carrying around an iPad pro, it’s nice to see the presentation and make marks on the screen in real-time but is cumbersome at times due to the weight of 12.9-inch screen. Probably need an armband to make sure it doesn’t fall. Or I could buy the $129 Logitech Spotlight Presentation Remote. Yes, this was a revisit for another day as seeing $1000+ dollar investment shatter on the floor is not a near future nightmare I want to experience.

Next up, the issue with the resolution of the iPad mirroring onto the projector was unreadable for displaying code, had to move to a laptop for it to become legible again. I will need to verify if it’s the iPad Pro, lightning connector or the projector that was the problem. My first guess is the resolution is different for iPad than the laptop so I’m thinking that’s got something to do with it. Will also perform some select interchange to see if it’s the projector itself, this one, in particular, doesn’t seem to be very impressive.

Another happy surprise I stumbled upon during my testing was that wireless network password sharing with other devices just works like I’d expect it to naturally. I discovered this when pairing my iPad to AppleTV and selecting the same network in the AppleTV menu. It automatically prompted me to share the password I had already entered in my iPad, which was a godsend for anyone who’s had to put in a long random password in with the remote.

Later that night, the Azure in the ATL meetup went amazingly! The crowd was very responsive and engaged and the talk was well received by all. If you’re interested in seeing the presentation or code examples, feel free to drop on over to my GitHub site for this presentation and take a look around.

Q & A

Based on some of the emails I’ve gotten I decided to answer the question I’ve received the most for everyone. At the end of the day, some would argue it’s hard to replace the laptop and this one is definitely subjective based on what you’re trying to accomplish. For me, it has met all my current needs though with a little compromise to be made. It certainly beats lugging around laptops and power supplies. My iPad Pro with a battery pack lasts me an entire 3-4 day conference with no need for anything but a simple USB cable. The only thing I could ask for would be a mouse and the ability to run a VM locally on the iPad, give me that and it’s going to be a really difficult argument at that point to convince me I’d ever need a laptop again. The iPad Pro’s simplicity and elegant user experience across the entire board have given back the productivity I lost with all the configurations and software installs, and updates, etc. that came with a traditional PC.

Well, that’s it for today, I look forward to what tomorrow brings. See you then.

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An Apple A Day – Day 20

Practicality & Ironing Out Experience Bugs

I started by walking through the experience on iPad with PowerPoint. I wanted to make notes and highlight areas as I gave a presentation and to my surprise just how I thought it would work, I could magically use the pen, draw on my presentation and it even saves my ink overlays if I want. This was yet another very pleasant surprise, but it wasn’t very intuitively presented as an option. However, I am constantly amazed at the thought that goes into the experience of using an iPad and it’s accessories and apps. I haven’t been used to this with Android as everything feels much more makeshift and disconnected. Once again Apple just works.

Next, I have a few GotoMeetings under my belt now and still have a nagging problem of being limited to only 6 webcam live views. In a native app, this gets real frustrating real fast when you have 11 peers with video and you can only see half. I end up having to use a browser which fixed this issue a while back due to many other complaints from their users. Why the native app hasn’t caught up is beyond me. To reiterate, that’s a GTM app issue, not an iPad issue.

Finally, I thought I would wrap up the day with testing out a full-length presentation for my upcoming Azure in the ATL talks. The iPad and AppleTV worked wonderfully as always and the demo went off without a hitch. I can’t help but feel like I’d rather have a “clicker” that cradle this almost 13-inch beast in my arms unless I need to directly interact with the presentation. So I’ll add that to the list of things to research next.

That’s all the time I have tonight leave your comments in the below and I’ll see you again tomorrow for another day of trials by fire.

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An Apple A Day – Day 19

So This Happened…

Today was a sad and busy one, by starting off with a notice from my favorite AppleTV app Dasher.tv.

Apparently, they are going out of business and I now will have to migrate all my dashboards I have created to something else. This is a huge pain as I’ve spent quite a while creating a myriad of dashboards from client data to personal dashboards to status update dashboards.

I know I could use PowerBI, but it’s overkill and is a job in itself to get up and running with some data points. I needed something more lightweight and that worked across more devices this time.

Enter Numerics, this folks is the Apple motherload for dashboards. It works for ALL Apple devices (a feat I haven’t found anything else can do), it has tons of integrations, and the app is free! To be transparent, the app is free but if you want to use more than three widgets or certain pro widgets you will need to pony up $9.99/mo. or $99/yr.

While usually, I try to stick to one time payments, I have learned over the last 6 years, that free solutions have all died out with relatively short lifespans in this area of need. The money it costs is well worth it and I was not only able to move all my dashboards I was actually able to use the pre-canned which were better than my coded versions for over 90% of my widgets.

Now I don’t need a server to run all my code that was generating the widgets data before as the integrations as seamless and require nothing but a couple of clicks to set up. The Apple Watch integration is also a very welcome addition and one of the most valuable features in my opinion. All of which adds up to value I am definitely happy to part with $10/mo. to not bother with coding anymore.

 

On the in-person collaboration front, I’ve noticed a large uptick in the amount I’m using the AppleTV in the office, partly due to our shared meetings and the fact that my peers all mostly use Apple phones and MAC’s. This helps everyone connect and share more easily than passing around an HDMI cord and waiting for things to “sync up”.

Well as Looney Toons say, “That’s All Folks!”. Leave your comments below and I look forward to another fun day discovering with you tomorrow.

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An Apple A Day – Day 18

Decluttering…It needs to be done

So today it’s all about decluttering. The first place I’m going to start is the 6 pages of apps I have accrued on my iPad.

First things first, if you’re not familiar with App groups, it’s time to get acquainted as this is by far the easiest way to organize your apps.

Long press and drag an app on top of another and it will create a group. Keep pressing and dragging alike apps into the same group and you will slowly but surely see one icon at a time drag their way to a cleaner “desktop”. My groups were as follows, you can feel free to use any and all of the names. Social Media, Collaboration, Home Automation, MS Tools, Games, and Trial Stuff. Those alone took me down to 2 pages from 6.

Next, I wanted to tackle an issue that I haven’t had a chance to follow back up on yet. Custom replies on an Apple Watch. If you ever received a notification on your watch you may have noticed that the watch automatically comes up with a bunch of automated responses to choose from when replying to a text. I’d like to be able to add my own. So after a little research, this is what I came up with:

  1. Open the Apple Watch app on the linked iPhone.
  2. Tap My Watch to select that tab.
  3. Tap Messages > Default replies.
  4. Select one of the messages that you don’t want.
  5. Use the on-screen keyboard to replace the text.

There are a total of six slots available for custom responses. That’s all you get to make em count. It’s incredible how much a difference just having a few custom messages can make while communicating with people on the fly. This makes things so much easier and personalized. Check out this article for a more complete list of messaging features customizations.

Well, I’m going to wrap it up for the night, leave your comments in the box below. Till we meet again.

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