Scott Hanselman

Review: The Blackberry Z10 - In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king

August 6, '13 Comments [39] Posted in Reviews
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imageI've been hating my iPhone lately and I've got a love-hate relationship with my Lumia 920 so my buddy at AT&T loaned me a Blackberry Z10 for a month to try out. This is the same buddy who loaned me an AT&T Unite Hotspot in May. These are loans, I don't keep them.

Imagine a world where there is no iPhone and there is no Android and there is no Windows Phone. In this world, the Blackberry rocks. Not just rocks, present-tense, but rocked, past tense.

I mean, seriously, the RIM 950 had an Intel 386 and 4MB of RAM. That thing ran for a week on a AA battery and changed my life. Blackberry connected me. That was truly innovative. Research in Motion changed mobile forever.

The Blackberry Z10 changes nothing. It pains to me to say this, truly it does. I'm sure that in some parallel universe Blackberry is on top and Mr. Spock has a beard. But on this planet, Mr. Spock has an iPhone (or probably a rooted iPad Mini that runs LCARS).

rim-850

But, still, I ran with a Blackberry Z10 for a month and I tried, I really did. It's a lovely device, the Blackberry Z10, make no mistake. But, it's a Blackberry-iPhone. It's evil Spock, not Spock - a mirror if you will.

BlackBerry_Z10_front_and_back

Don't we all appreciate the innovation in phone design that's happened since the introduction of the iPhone?

image

But is it a Blackberry? Kind of. It has BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) but that's where it ends. It actually feels more like the lovely HP TouchPad's webOS than like anything I've seen in the Blackberry universe. It's certainly more visually polished and consistent than any Android I've used, has more clarity and depth than a Windows Phone and is some how as fluid as an iPhone.

Moving Around

You can move in and out of apps within a grid of four running apps. It's similar to the row of thumbnails you see on iPhone iOS7 or Windows Phone, except in a grid. One nice touch is that some apps, like the NYTimes for example, can opt-in and draw a custom tiny thumbnail of their own. Apps that choose not to just show a standard thumbnail. This is a small but under-utilized touch that has potential if it takes off with developers.

You swipe left and right between the Blackberry Hub on the far left, the running task list, and the actual app launch takes up the remaining screens.

IMG_00000017IMG_00000018 IMG_00000008

Browsing

The browser is excellent. It supports much of HTML5, CSS3 and Media Queries and modern sites like my blog and podcast site rendered great. It's not quite Mobile Safari but it's very close. Fonts render clear and clean and the 1280x720 screen is fantastic.

IMG_00000001 IMG_00000002 IMG_00000003

Your Information

The calendar has such potential, although the Month View is useless, as it is on literally ever smart phone I've ever used. It's all birthdays and wasted space. Week View tips over quickly as well once you start having anything that resembles a normal person's schedule.

IMG_00000011 IMG_00000012 IMG_00000014

Email and The Hub

The one differentiator that this Blackberry has is the omnipresent "Hub." It is always off to the side and accessible from any app. It's Email and Facebook and Twitter and Texting all in one.

IMG_00000015 IMG_00000009 IMG_00000010

Pros

  • Mini HDMI connection - I'm not sure I'd never use this, but I love that I have the chance. However with things like the Chromecast (and Miracast, AirPlay and Wi-Di) there's just no reason to have a physical connection to a large screen anymore. Or at least there soon won't be.
  • Feels great in your hand - It feels like an iPhone 5. It's weighty, but not heavy, firm and well built. Even though the back comes off (a plus, so you can swap batteries) it still feels tight.
  • Fast - It never lagged, swipes were recognized and responsive
  • Blackberry Hub - Everything (Twitter, SMS, Email, etc) is all in one place. Reminiscent of the Windows Phone People Hub, but more "swiss army knife" with all your messages in one giant list, my only complaint is that the swipe to access the Hub is not-intuitive. You swipe up from the bottom, then turn 90 degrees and keep swiping to the right, like a right-turn sign.
  • Browser - I was really impressed with the browser. It supports CSS3 media queries nicely and scrolls fast.

Cons

  • Smallish battery - I never made it a full day without having to charge. To be clear, my iPhone barely makes it past 2pm, but I somehow expected more from a Blackberry. This battery is only 1800mAh.
  • Small App Ecosystem - The Angry Birds, Twitters, and Facebooks are all here, but once you start digging it's clear that this is a paper dragon of an AppStore.

If you're #teamblackberry and you have #iphoneenvy then this is likely the phone for you. However, there's no compelling reason to switch if you already have a smart phone. If you're in the market for your first smart phone, I'd consider one of the top three phones, as I just don't see Blackberry winning. Still, it's an impressive first outing.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Add Social Sharing Links to your Blog without widget JavaScript

August 5, '13 Comments [13] Posted in Blogging
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This sharing button thing is out of controlI'm always trying to tidy up my blog layout and remove 'noise' but every time I try to remove those social sharing buttons for Twitter and Facebook I get a barrage of email asking me to put them back. Personally, I use bookmarklets in my browser for tweeting links, rather than relying on AddThis or ShareThis or any of the other garish sharing JavaScripts.

This sharing button thing is out of control. Links work too, folks. It's the web. Let's not have our blogs turn into Vegas Billboards.*

Twitter, Facebook and Google+ all offer JavaScript that they'd LOVE for you to add to your site. Tracking is one of the reasons that they'd love you to add these. That may or may not be a strong reason not to add their JavaScript, but a concrete reason not to is speed.

When you add three services' JavaScript you're adding three DNS lookups, three (or 20) HTTP requests for their JavaScript and images, and on and on. That JavaScript has to execute as well, of course, but the value it provides isn't justified over the speed and hassle involved in my opinion.

I wanted to add social sharing links without adding JavaScript. Fortunately all these services support sharing via simply visiting a URL. Stated differently, you can share via an HTTP GET.

Below, I'm adding "YOURURLHERE" in the places you'll want the URL for your blog post. You should change these templates for your own blog engineer. WordPress, BlogSpot, DasBlog, etc all have different macro formats. Your mileage may vary.

NOTE: Make sure you check that you have the right number of quotes and ampersands when adding these to your blog template.

Twitter

Note that twitter's sharing format includes the URL, the Title and the "via" which is your twitter name.

<a href="https://twitter.com/intent/tweet?url=YOURURLHERE&text=YOURPOSTTITLEHERE&via=YOURTWITTERNAMEHERE">Twitter</a>

Facebook

<a href="https://facebook.com/sharer.php?u=YOURURLHERE">Facebook</a>

Google+

<a href="https://plus.google.com/share?url=YOURURLHERE">Google+</a>

You can share THIS post by clicking the links just below here on the same line as the Comments link.

Let me know about other social sites that support this kind of sharing in the comments, and I'll add your tips to this post.

* Yes, I know I have ads on this blog. It's taco money and it pays for the gadgets I review. It's hardly Vegas.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Hanselman's Newsletter of Wonderful Things: July 2nd, 2013

August 5, '13 Comments [3] Posted in Newsletter
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I have a "whenever I get around to doing it" Newsletter of Wonderful Things. Why a newsletter? I dunno. It seems more personal somehow. Fight me.

You can view all the previous newsletters here. You can sign up here to the Newsletter of Wonderful Thingsor just wait and get them some weeks later on the blog, which hopefully you have subscribed to. Email folks get it first!

Here's the newsletter that I sent out July 2nd.


Hi Interfriends,

Thanks again for signing up for this experiment. Here's some interesting things I've come upon this week. If you forwarded this (or if it was forwarded to you) a reminder: You can sign up at http://hanselman.com/newsletter and the archive of all previous Newsletters is here.

Remember, you get the newsletter here first. This one will be posted to the blog as an archive in a few weeks. 

Scott Hanselman

(BTW, since you *love* email you can subscribe to my blog via email here: http://feeds.hanselman.com/ScottHanselman DO IT!)

P.P.S. You know you can forward this to your friends, right?

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Download Windows Live Writer 2012

August 5, '13 Comments [73] Posted in Tools
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imageWhy is this blog post called "Download Windows Live Writer 2012?" Because that's all I wanted to do. I love Live Writer. If you love it too, put a note in the comments and maybe the team will notice, because I will carry Windows Live Writer with me until you pry it from my cold, dead hands. I use Windows Live Writer exclusively for writing my blog posts and I recommend you use it too. Windows Live Writer is the best windows blog authoring application I have found so far.

This post now exists so when I google for download Windows Live Writer I will find it.

The TL;DR version of this post is this:

I googled with Google for "Windows Live Writer 2012" and got this mess, including the slightly creepy "you visited this page on" message. Um, thanks for noticing.

* These images are poorly resized on purpose you don't think they are clickable.

image

When I googled with Bing for "Windows Live Writer 2012" I got this mess. Three results from a bunch of evil download sites that I don't trust because they will just install toolbars and I'm generally afraid of them.

image

The second link looks promising since it's at Microsoft's own Download Center, BUT the date is from 2009.

Finding this thing is too hard so this blog post exists so you can find it and because I felt like complaining a little. Just a little.

Again, the point of this post is this:

Have a nice day!

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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A rich new JavaScript code editor spreading to several Microsoft web sites

August 1, '13 Comments [33] Posted in Javascript
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Where is this JavaScript-based editable code area coming from?

I noticed yesterday that some C#, JavaScript and CSS files I had sitting in SkyDrive were suddenly editable.

Editable code in SkyDrive

Not just editable, but there's also autocompletion of strings (not quite intellisense, as it's just one file at a time) and token/symbol recognition.

Editable code in SkyDrive

Plus, this editor looked REALLY familiar to me. I started looking.

I looked over at the Windows Azure Portal, where developers can write node.js to make web services directly in the browser. Here we've got dropbox autocomplete, tooltips with syntax errors and even some basic symbolic refactoring!

Azure Mobile Service's rich code editor

Below you can see the editor in Azure Mobile Services throwing a tooltip syntax error. Is this happening on the server?

Untitled2

Then I remember TypeScript's "playground" online that shows how TypeScript turns into JavaScript. This is split-screen with TypeScript on the left and JavaScript on the right.

The TypeScript Playground

Then I went to look at TFS Online's stuff at http://tfs.visualstudio.com/ where I made an account http://hanselman.visualstudio.com to host private Git repos for side projects.

Inline comments in TFS online

Notice that in TFS Online this editor is used for diffs and comparisons, but also includes inline threaded comments! This is all in JavaScript, people.

The editor in a side by side diff

I brought up F12 tools just to check.

The javaScript editor open in SkyDrive

That's pretty unambiguous. Looking at the CSS by just clicking on editor.main.css. The "vs" in the div's class point to a vs-theme.css that I presume is to set the colors and make the text editor look familiar.

editor.main.css

Looking in editor.main.js, it's all minified, but it's cool to see.

editor.main.js

This JavaScript code editor/viewer component is on a TFS site, an Azure site and a SkyDrive site, being used very different divisions across Microsoft. Very cool to see code reuse, but also a good experience replicated. Kudos to the SkyDrive team for recognizing a good thing and putting it into production. It'll be interesting to see where else this editor pops up in the future.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.