Demonstrating unfinished aspects of the Microsoft Windows 8.1’s Windows Store experience

For this demo, I’m using a Dell Venue 8 inch tablet with an optional bluetooth keyboard.

I’ll present you with a few frustrating use cases that are very non-intuitive and in which regular users would absolutely get lost during the task at hand.

1. When updating apps, it’s very hard to discover how to select just a single app as Microsoft introduces yet another unnatural gesture for single selection of an item.

2. When installing an app, there’s no “OPEN” action available on the store.
When the user goes back to the Start screen, the app is nowhere to be found.
Once the user figures out how to see all the apps, the user will have to search for the app as there’s an overwhelming amount of icons with very small type to choose from.

It’s not as bad as it used to, but it still has some details that really need to be taken care of to not frustrate users and send them running for Android/MacOSX.

I hope someone at the Microsoft Windows UX Team is listening, and can see the frustration from a long life computer user’s perspective.

First impressions of the Dell Venue 8″ pro running full blown Windows 8.1 (Intel Atom)

Check out the new Dell Venue 8″, this is a pretty cool $300 tablet that runs FULL blown Windows 8.1, so you can use like a full blown desktop. Then if you’re not working, you can take it to the living room, bedroom, couch, wherever and have fun with it like with any other tablet.

In this video I’ll set it up in front of you and share with you my first impressions.

After using it for a few days here are a few thoughts:

Pros:
– Great 8″ form factor for tablet use.
– Has all the popular apps you’d expect on a tablet.
– If you associate a bluetooth keyboard and mouse, flip it over, you have a full blown desktop computer to do actual work.
– Has an x86 CPU, so you don’t end up with Windows RT which nobody has developed apps for. You can all the available Windows desktop software, and all the new stuff coming out for the touch world.
– Expandble storage via SD cards.
– Affordable, only $299.
– You can attach a larger monitor via USB using the Pluggable Dock (see this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPPY4m8iY0k )

Cons:
– Super Heavy for that size when compared to the iPad or the Kindle Fire HD.

Still Testing:
– Battery life so far I can’t complain, let’s see how it holds up with a bit more usage throughout the day.

My first Facebook Gift Experience


November 22, I buy a gift for my wife.

I notice the selection is already sizeable, seems like they’ve cut out deals (or just integrated) with Starbucks and other smaller but exclusive brands. I’ve picked a Sarabeth’s Jam, I’m given the option to choose the flavor or to let my wife pick the flavor for herself.

After I’ve done the purchase, I see the gift in the Newsfeed, Facebook has been cool enough not to make it public by default, it’s only been shared with Friends, I can choose to change privacy just like any other post on the newsfeed.


One cool detail that plays with the minds of everyone looking is that the present is still under wraps and it will remain that way until my wife opens the present and sets up a shipping address. They want to make the surprise element last for as long as possible creating attention towards the gifting experience on Facebook.

November 24, the gift has shipped

Maybe their volumes on opening were large, kinks needed to be addressed, it was thanksgiving weekend (not everybody was working), but it took way too long between ordering and shipping.

November 26, gift arrives 4 days later.

How did they manage to squeeze all that on that tiny box?

Notice the details on the packaging, Facebook has made sure to put a signature and to make their brand stay with us to create word of mouth by putting the gift on a Facebook branded cloth bag that you’re not going to trash. In the case of the jam we have the added bonus that the packagers have included 2 gel packs that I get to keep and reuse.

The contents have been very well packed, the Jam jar is safe and the contents delicious.

Have you sent or received a gift on Facebook? How was your experience?

Reviewing the Nokia N900, User and Developer opinions.


Playing with it from the User Perspective
– Virtual keyboard is deactivated by default, not good if you have one hand busy, however I can see why it’s this way (the virtual keyboard sucks). When it comes out it covers the entire screen, and the experience with it is not there yet in comparison to the virtual keyboards of the iPhone or Android.

Physical Keyboard feels great.

Not sold on the stylus, I think I might loose it. However it comes in handy when clicking on tiny links.

– Web browsing experience is clumsy if you try to use your fingers and you’re used to Android or iPhone where dragging occurs on a light touch. With the N900 you have to Tap harder to begin to drag, probably like that intentionally. I must admit I find myself making mistakes on the Droid maybe because it’s too sensitive.

Using forms on the browser is inconvenient. There’s no way to move from form field to form field except using the stylus. Keyboard arrows won’t work to switch focus between form fields, and the lack of virtual keyboard (when you’re using the real one) implies that you won’t have a “Next” button to move through the form (or at least I couldn’t figure out a field hopping mechanism).

Zooming in and out on a web page will be extremely unintuitive. Thanks to patents on multitouch gestures you’ll have to either double tap, or do a ridiculous tap+hold and twirl clockwise zoom in (in a controlled way), or tap+hold and twirl counter-clockwise to zoom out… wtf.
Nokia has to put up a fight on this, natural multi-touch gestures are a must on today’s smartphones.

– I still don’t know how to select, copy and paste text from a website. Very hard to quote text and twitter it.

– Default timeout for screen auto lock is way too short.

It has a stand on the back, which as a developer I appreciate. It’s a pain to debug apps on the nexus one, you always kind of need to pick it up or create some sort of desktop apparatus to have the phone facing you while you test hands free.

Multimedia
Video and audio playback were perfect. Droid and Nexus One have nothing to envy, so it’s not a selling point. Watch the 3 phones playing the same video.

– Navigation is convenient with top left corner control. It took me a few seconds to figure it out being used to Android’s back and Home Button and of the one physical button on the iPhone.

– The Media player comes with pre-installed internet radio streaming app. On Android I had to download one from the Market.

Didn’t have to install Flickr photo uploading app, already comes with OS.

OVI Store experience frustrated me. Should be an app, not a web page. I got asked for an HTTPS certificate while trying to install a Twitter plugin, it was basically the same exception you get on a web browser. The regular user would get lost adding the certificate and the security exception. Then after that I got asked to signup for the OVI store, and I gave up. Installing apps should be a breeze. Setting up your OVI Store account should be done as part of the phone setup process on an App.

The more I use the phone the more I think, Nokia’s hardware is hot, but they’re wasting their time with competing on software. Nokia running Android would kill everybody else, let’s hope it will happen sooner than I think, they just need to test with one cool device and feel the market.

Unboxing Pictures
[flickr-gallery mode=”photoset” photoset=”72157623986709513″]

Playing with it as a Software Developer
– No SDK for Mac environment, or at least not a very accessible or official version of it. The only solution seemed to be installing the SDK on a Virtualized Linux (e.g. VirtualBox).

– Maemo SDK not compatible with Ubuntu 10.4 64bit, it seems it’s only 32bit.

The project page confirms this:
“The development environment for Maemo running on the desktop is called Maemo SDK. You can only install Maemo SDK on a Linux operating system. Maemo SDK currently supports the following Linux distributions: Debian, Ubuntu”

Tried installing Scratchbox on my Mac with no luck.

– It was a little surprising to see the Nokia documentation for developers talking about GTK+ in all their examples and not Qt, given the acquisition of Trolltech by Nokia in 2008. However you go to the Qt page and it says that it’s the defacto SDK for Maemo devices.

In the end I decided to install it on a 32bit Ubuntu VirtualBox image on my Mac and deal with the performance hit, I couldn’t just return the phone without compiling something, otherwise I’d be speaking out of my ass right?

Hello World in GTK

Hello World in Qt4, exactly the same code I would’ve used for a desktop Qt4 app.

compilation is the same thing as if developing a regular Qt4 app on linux
[bash]/scratchbox/login
fakeroot apt-get install libqt4-dev[/bash]

create your helloworld.cpp… then make your project
[bash]qmake -project
qmake
make
run-standalone.sh ./qt_helloworld[/bash]

If you’re used to Linux development with GTK or Qt4 you will feel right at home, and you probably know right off what’s the most comfortable set of tools to code. If you’re not, it seems like Nokia has left the whole thing way too much on the hands of the Maemo community.

Documentation seems a little all over the place, unfinished Wikis, not very welcoming for non-linux developers, I’m talking about companies that come from actually making money on iPhone OS or Android, looking to port their apps to Maemo. The first impression won’t be the best and you’ll think that things aren’t as well prepared as for iPhone with X-Code or Android with the Eclipse extension which let’s you deploy a signed installer in just a few clicks.

It seems that Nokia is relying way too much on the Linux community for all of this, I’m not sure if this is going to get very far with mobile shops, specially after seeing how many hurdles a user has to go through sometimes to get an app from the OVI market (in comparison to iPhone or Android’s markets simple purchasing processes).

SDK experience Screenshots
[flickr-gallery mode=”photoset” photoset=”72157624248900230″]

Conclusions

First of all thanks to Nokia for sending the N900. My final conclusions which are mostly thinking from the consumer perspective might not be one you’ll like much (you=Nokia), but you probably need to hear this (I’m guessing this is why you sent the device in the first place).

In my case after being a faithful Nokia consumer I felt dissapointed with the software side when I chose the N95 over the iPhone, newer Nokia phones came, but the same shitty platform was running on them, I thought Maemo would change that but now I know it’s nowhere near what smartphone users today expect. Then Android came along to truly compete with the iPhone.

Now as an Android user when the time comes for me to upgrade my phone I’ll be looking for another Android device.

Let’s imagine what’s going to happen when my Droid is too old, by that time there will be even more Android phones to choose from also a richer Application ecosystem, if I were the kind of person that installs paid apps I’d probably like to keep my “investment” for my next phone, however even if there’s a myriad of Android phones out there, the only brands I’ll consider are Motorola, HTC, LG and SonyEricsson, I’m not too fond of any of them so I’ll have to research what each of the phones they’ll be offering will suit my needs.

An Android based Nokia smartphone would certainly make my decision a lot easier. As of now you’re entirely out of the picture, there’s no way I’m switching to Maemo, and Moblin is way too new to tell if it’s going anywhere.

Nokia, Stop playing outside the garden, don’t get cocky with your current numbers and admit you’re slowly decaying, if you don’t do something about it once Android is on every cheap phone you’re gonna die. Android could use some Nokia.

Follow the geek.

Quick Motorola Cliq Review – AT&T


Here is AT&T’s/Motorola Cliq downloading "Bebbled", a free game from the Android Marketplace.

The one think I like about this phone is the keyboard, however It’s very annoying that when it’s closed the touchscreen side doesn’t have the Search button that the Droid and the Nexus have.

So, everytime you want to perform a search, you’re forced to do so with the keyboard, the search button is only to be found in it.

The way that it opens is not good for people with clumsy hands, this phone can end in the floor a lot if that’s your case.

The phone has been a bit buggy, sometimes it won’t receive or make calls and it has to be fully turned off (battery out and every thing)

It’s an OK entry android phone for the average user, If you’re looking for speed and a physical keyboard get the Droid, it’s far superior. If you don’t care about the keyboard, get a Nexus One.

Chris Pirillo reviews MyBloop.com

Chris Pirillo has reviewed this week our Infinite Storage service MyBloop.com very positively, and he has called it “The World’s Biggest Hard Drive.

About Chris
Christopher “Chris” Joseph Pirillo (born July 26, 1973(1973-07-26)) is the founder and maintainer of Lockergnome which is a large blogging network. He spent two years hosting the TechTV television program Call for Help before parting ways with the show. He also hosted the first annual Call-for-Help-a-Thon on TechTV. He now hosts videos on several internet sites, including CNN.com, YouTube and his own website.

Chris Pirillo live streams from his home-office using Ustream technology and uses this to create YouTube videos daily with a focus on software, computers, iPhone applications, and other technology-related topics and events.

Chris Pirillo is also an avid blogger, combining his website which contains over 1,500 posts, and updating his micro-blogging accounts, such as Twitter and FriendFeed daily.

Every year, Pirillo hosts Gnomedex, a technology conference tailored to technology and blogging enthusiasts.

About MyBloop.com
MyBloop.com is a free service that allows its users to store an unlimited number of files absolutely for free. It allows for an evolving and incremental set of functionalities depending on the file types, being the more feature rich, music, playlists and picture files. It has social features, search, and several file sharing functionalities such as flash embedding, which makes it attractive to podcasters and musicians looking to host their audio files and get exposure without paying for the storage or the bandwidth.

Plurk.com Review

What is it?

In short, it’s a twitter clone, a time waster, with a little more thought into it. Is it more complex? Maybe not, sometimes the right added functionality makes life easier for people.

Why you should try it?

I tried Jaiku, Pwnce, FriendFeed and Twitter, and stayed with Twitter. I’m actually proud to say that I’ve sent 6,801 Twitts that have landed me 390 twitter followers, and this is probably the hardest thing about switching from Twitter to another competitor, as good as it may be.

But from last week I’ve been hearing about Plurk, and today after some good web-reputable friends joined I decided to give it a try (see the power of web-prestige?), before they joined I just thought… “another twitter competitor”.

The added functionality might make things better, it’s probably the evolution of micro-blogging happening, and twitter needs better competition in order to get better.