Breaking Up Again, OneNote and I Must Go Separate Ways

Ok, psychologically one is supposed to tell the good news last and the bad news first. Well, I’m doing that backwards with this article. First things first, all the awesome about Microsoft’s OneNote App.

Microsoft OneNote

The cool thing is, after more than a few years, OneNote runs on most mobile and desktop systems. When I say most, what that equates to is: Windows, iOS and OS-X. Now, I wouldn’t doubt if it works on some other things that I’ve missed, but those are the places I know it works because that is where I’ve used the application the most.

OneNote does a number of things that are pretty cool. The first is simply look pleasant and make it easy to add notes, images, sound or other objects into any notebook in the app. This makes note taking extremely easy. There are also a lot of features around note history to move back and forward, play things back and more. This interaction with the notes across all of the devices is pretty seem-less, when the features are similar across all of the devices.

I actually really like the interfaces built specifically for the device that OneNote is running on. If I’m running the iOS iPhone App it is oriented to small screen touch and interactions of that sort. The iOS version is focused on creating notes, not on managing or organizing the actual notebooks and related structures.

On the iPad iOS App it’s oriented toward a larger workspace and more navigation between each notebook and and a little to the management of these notebooks and the respective notes. The iPad version is a happy middle ground between the note creating focus of the iPhone App and the full blown OS-X and Windows Desktop versions.

Speaking of that, it’s been about 3+ years since I’ve used OneNote on Windows and about 2 years since I actually used Windows for anything relevant. So when One Note was released on OS-X I was all over that. I’d always been a fan of the product, but it was limited since it only ran on Windows for the longest time. So when I switched off of Windows as my core operating system years ago, it went away. I had a list of top apps I lost when leaving Windows.

  1. LiveWriter for blogging because it hooked up to all the blogs I wrote to at the time; WordPress, DotNetBlogEngine and Blogger. So it was hugely useful.
  2. ReSharper for Visual Studio. Note I did NOT say Visual Studio, but just ReSharper. I’ve got a lot of this power back via WebStorm and IntelliJ, but I still miss the robustness of refactoring options with ReSharper.
  3. OneNote with Office. Note, again the specifics of just missing OneNote and not Office. The Office Suite, especially when I moved to non-MS Operating Systems was already useless to me. It was stuck in the 90s world of files and file systems. I’d already moved on to web options where the files were always where I needed them and versioned appropriately.

When I got down to this list, I assumed I could go ahead and switch. I did, haven’t regretted it for a moment and will still tell anybody that’s good at adopting to tools and finding the best for the job, the grass is indeed greener being not on Windows.

But I sure was happy to get OneNote back, but as I used it I realized…

…and now OneNote dies to me again.

…that I’d moved on form the paradigm that OneNote has to offer. I use more than just merely the iOS or OS-X or Windows Version. I need an option to see and retrieve my information beyond that medium. I needed to be able to use these tools sometimes disconnected and this also created a huge problem, as they’re all tightly coupled to the skydrive style service. In addition to this, if one uses any of the other iOS Office Suite Apps from Microsoft those are also tied to skydrive, but one has to get a monthly account to use those.

Overall the OneNote app was elegant, nice and worked well, but the connectivity issues and the tightly coupled service to skydrive left it removed from the other tools that I use to get work done. I suppose, if one is a full on fanbois and using all the Microsoft tooling running on Windows it likely has some integration to those tools. However I use a wide variety of tools across more than one operating system. In the end it seemed like Microsoft was endeavoring to lock me into their online presence with their offer of free OneNote as a gateway to their Office Product.

Albeit I’ve used it now for 2 weeks, I’ve made tons of notes in it, I’m just going to go back to Evernote. The access is better, the apps are clunkier and not as pretty (I realize that’s subjective), and overall I’d rather use OneNote as an interface to files I put in Dropbox or Google Drive or Evernote or something, but alas, it hasn’t worked out. So if you’re looking for a note taking app, OneNote might still be fore you, but otherwise if you want full across the board support across many platforms, Evernote is still a more capable option.

Sorry OneNote, but even though it was nice to have a second fling, we have to go our separate ways again. I guess it’s time to fire Evernote back up.

Riak in a .NET World

Jeremiah's Demo Works, IT WORKS IT WORKS!

Jeremiah’s Demo Works, IT WORKS IT WORKS!

A few days ago Troy Howard, Jeremiah Peschka and I all traveled via Amtrak Cascades up to Seattle. The mission was simple, Jeremiah was presenting “Riak in a .NET World”, I was handling logistics and Troy was handling video.

So I took the video that Troy shot, I edited it, put together some soundtrack to it and let Jeremiah’s big data magic shine. He covers the basics around RDBMSes, SQL Server in this case but easily it applies to any RDBMS in large part. These basics bring us up to where and why an architecture needs to shift from an RDBMS solution to a distributed solution like Riak. After stepping through some of the key reasons to move to Riak, Jeremiah walks through a live demo of using CorrugatedIron, the .NET Client for Riak (Github repo). During the walk through he covers the specific characteristics of how CorrugatedIron interacts with Riak through indexs, buckets and during puts and pulls of data.

Toward the end of the video Joseph Blomstedt @jtuple, Troy Howard @thoward37, Jeremiah Peschka @peschkaj, Clive Boulton @iC and Richard Turner @bitcrazed. Also note, I’ve enabled download for this specific video since it is actually a large video (1.08GB total). So you may want to download and watch it if you don’t have a super reliable high speed internet connection.

Also for more on Jeremiah’s work check out http://www.brentozar.com/articles/riak/  and contact him at http://www.brentozar.com/contact/

New Relic, The King Makers, MS Open Tech, Riak VMs and Life Gets Easier Today

Today Microsoft released, with partnerships with a number of companies including Basho, Hupstream and Bitnami, the VM Depot. I’ve always followed Bitnami, so it’s really cool to see their VM releases for Jenkins (CI Build Server), WordPress, Ruby 1.9.3 stackNode.js and about everything you can imagine out their along side our Basho Riak CentOS image. If you want a great way to get kick started with Riak and you’re setup with Windows Azure, now there is an even easier way to get rolling.

Over on the Basho blog we’ve announced the MS Open Tech and Basho Collabortation. I won’t repeat what was stated there, but want to point out two important things:

  1. Once you get a Riak image going, remember there’s the whole community and the Basho team itself that is there to help you get things rolling via the mail list. If you’re looking for answers, you’ll be able to get them there. Even if you get everything running smoothly, join in anyway and at least just lurk. :)
  2. The RTFM value factor is absolutely huge for Riak. Basho has a superb documentation site here. So definitely, when jumping into or researching Riak as software you may want to build on, use for your distributed systems or the Riak Key Value Databases, check out the documentation. Super easy to find things, super easy to read, and really easy to get going with.

So give Riak a try on Windows Azure via the VM Depot. It gets easier by the day, and gives you even more data storage options, distribution capabilities and high availability that is hard to imagine.

New Relic & The Rise of the New Kingmakers

In other news, my good friends at New Relic have released a new book in partnership with Redmonk Analyst Stephen O’Grady @, have released a book he’s written titled The New Kingmakers, How Developers Conquered the World. You may know New Relic as the huge developer advocates that they are with the great analytics tools they provide. Either way, give a look see and read the book. It’s not a giant thousand page tomb, so it just takes a nice lunch break and you’ll get the pleasure of flipping the pages of the book Stephen has put together. You might have read the blog entry that started the whole “Kingmakers” statement, if you haven’t, give that a read first.

I personally love the statement, and have used it a few times myself. In relation to the saying and the book, I’ll have a short review and more to say in the very near future. Until then…

Cheers, enjoy the read, the virtual images and happy hacking.

Apple iOS / OS-X vs. Windows 8 / RT == OS Goulash & Predictions

All These Thoughts Derived at Seattle Coffee Works in Downtown Seattle

All These Thoughts Derived at Seattle Coffee Works in Downtown Seattle, a good place to enjoy the use of an iPad or Windows RT Tablet.

Ok, I’ll admit it, I have a soft spot in my heart for Windows 8. At least in the tablet form. I honestly prefer it over the iPad model of little icons displayed in a grid over a background with the bar of app icons at the bottom. Don’t get me wrong, I find the iPad remarkably usable and will have one for many years to come. I have sketching, drawing, movie making, picture taking, code writing, code pushing, deployment, comic books, books and other applications that I’m not about to just give up. But Windows 8 is very compelling.

I really hope it pushes Apple to make some change with their own UI to update it a bit. The icon placement and icon bar at the bottom is fine, but I’d really like to have more information available to me at a glance, which is something that Windows 8 on a tablet (or phone for that matter) enables in an extremely easy way.

In addition to that information, the stark design colors of Windows 8 are definitely better than the “we’re Apple and make futuristic devices that disrupt the markets but simulate every physical traditional thing we can”. Matter of fact I find Apple’s inane obsession with making accurate recreations of wood, notebooks, calendars, file cabinets and all that absurdly stupid. It’s great that some graphic artist can do that, but jeez, I’d like my interface to be as futuristic and disruptive as my device.

Overall, the two operating systems for tablet devices – iOS and Windows 8 (or RT, whatever they’re going to call it) – are pretty amazing in their own right. As of this moment though, I’ve come to the conclusion that I will very likely be getting at least one Windows 8 device. Emphasis though, on device – singular. If Microsoft has finally cracked that nut (their other hardware isn’t bad) than I might just start buying some Microsoft “device(s)” in the future that would obviously be running Windows OS. If they haven’t cracked the device nut, then it might be a short lived experiment.

I’m wondering, if you’re really not an Apple or Windows fan and you’re going to give either device an honest kicking in the coming months, I’d love to hear your input on the device. I’m sure I’ll hear a whole bunch of arbitrary ad hominem nonsense from the fans of either platform over the next few months. There will surely be a lot of FUD and propaganda thrown out of every media outlet either corporation can get their money funneled into too, I’m however keeping a close eye on blogs and real people providing feedback that have used both. That notice this or that difference, all those little things.

Being that we’re so flippin’ close to the release of Microsoft’s new flagship OS, Windows 8 and Apple, no doubt, will come back kicking with something this competitive cycle is starting to get interesting again!

Meanwhile, the wild card of Android is sitting in the sidelines. Will someone actually make a move and kick it into the fray? It seems to be the lethargic thing with zero marketing budget and zero existence. It’s sad even though it is such a massively robust environment and ecosystem compared to Windows RT/8 and much more open and capable than the iOS ecosystem.

With all that said, those thoughts thought, here’s my prediction. Yes, I’m going to be one of those guys and make a silly prediction. I’m not taking bets but this is it, this is the SWAG. Along with this SWAG though, I’m throwing out a hope. Because I honestly don’t want them to overtake Apple because I’d be absolutely sick if the absurd hubris of Microsoft came back. Nothing was worse during the 90s and 00s than Microsoft’s hubris (yeah, Apple’s was easy to ignore, Microsoft’s was just annoying)

My Windows 8 / Windows RT Tablet Prediction

  • Prediction: 90 million devices in about 2-3 years.
  • My Hope: 45 million devices in 2-3 years, 90 million in 3-4 years.

…and I leave this blog entry with a single question. What is your opinion and what device have you found that peaks your interest the most? Is it Samsung’s devices, Dell’s or simply the Microsoft Surface?

What really is Open Source Software and what’s this community nonsense they ask…

Open Source Software (OSS), Why Some Fail At It

OSS has won the war. It has been over for years now. Microsoft has ceded, Oracle, VMware and many others have stepped up and attempted to embrace the open source community. Sometimes they’ve been successful, sometimes they haven’t. They’re slowly changing their models to play well with that of the open source software model. Sure, some software is kept closed, but that software in large part is becoming more and more irrelevant while open source efforts are becoming the forefront of technological progress.

What exactly is open source, besides just the opening up of code for others to download? Open source covers a vastly larger ideal than merely providing code for download. A case in point, has been the learning phase Microsoft has gone through. Microsoft, as a company, used to attempt to dictate to its consumer & developer base standards and practices that the company had deemed necessary or in some cases merely a good idea.

Microsoft failed at this miserably over the last decade. Time and time again an open source project would start and Microsoft would create a duplicate library – sometimes directly taking the OSS Project exactly functionality, sometimes they’d merely duplicate it with a basic understanding. Everything from Entity Framework duplicating the functionality of the dozens of ORMs before it. Basically stabbing those efforts in the back instead of being part of the community, Microsoft would remove itself and attempt to subjugate the community efforts.

It back fired over and over and over…

Oracle did something different, yet still blindly stupid. They purchased entire OSS Projects from mySQL to Java. In each case they’ve tainted the efforts significantly by attempting to make these products encourage an unspoken lock in to their proprietary tooling all while litigating (re suing). Their attempt to patent (another issue we can discuss later) the most absurd features and functionality, akin to patenting the breathing process in people! In addition they’ve tried to set legal precedent for things as simple as a URI end point and other notions. Again, something that hasn’t gone over well in the software development world. With the current result being a growing backlash against Oracle. To top all that off, their patent cases have been far worse than even Apple’s Samsung debacle. Oracle, has taken the crown for stabbing the development community, and especially the OSS Community in the back. Multiple wounds too, not just once. They’re doing it over and over as I write this.

Others have continued to make this mistake. They’re starting to suffer for it, and well justified that they do. To stab the community is more than just merely disrespecting one or two developers. It is desecrating the entire community’s efforts, the individuals and their thoughts, ideas, creations and more. It is a slap in the face in so many ways.

Some are starting to do it right, albeit slowly…

Some companies have started to get their act together. One company that is learning right now, slowly but steadily and confidently (they have a good team working on this) is VMware. With their introduction of Cloud Foundry, some could argue this, but they have generally and are trying diligently to open up and be inclusive in the community around their Cloud Foundry Product. Yes, I might have a slightly biased view since I build products for Cloud Foundry with the Iron Foundry Organization at Tier 3, I talk to the teams & individuals at VMware and they, with all their might, intend and do the best they can. As in almost all cases, as long as management keeps everything in their heads clear, they’ll maintain a great project and the future is bright.

Microsoft is another company, with tons of closed things, many attempts at opening products, and is finally starting to get it. They’re starting to be part of the community instead of trying to dictate to it. The windows azure team directly involves itself with jQuery, Node.js and other projects these days. They actively put forth a good foot and have opened up Web API and other web application frameworks and pieces, allowing for pull requests and openly having conversations int he public for full view and inclusion with the community.

So What Really Is Open Source?

Open source software itself, just the code, is simple. But it is assumed and written into the all legal licenses that are included to protect the software from theft and closing by errant companies & individuals. Open source software is code, used as examples or as production web sites is software that is available freely to others to learn from, fix, change, or otherwise modify. It often excludes sharing and using the code with closed source environments or redistributing with closed source products – because OSS efforts do not want to encourage the bad behavior and errant ideals in closed source software by contributing to it.

Building OSS includes a very specific idealism. One doesn’t just throw something into the code, one encourages and builds a culture of openness and being free in thought when working with and contributing to the code bases. The OSS Community is about sharing ideals between individuals to accelerate learning, expand the capabilities of the community as a whole, and push forward progress and development. To summarize with a standard quote, “open source software is about freedom”, and it truly is.

So far, it’s working in a huge way. Some simple successes that have been massive…

OSS Victories

Linux & FreeBSD pretty much hosts the Internet. From Facebook to Google to Amazon they all use some type of Linux variants. Estimates range from 60% to 93% of the Internet & Super Computing is hosted on UNIX machines of the Linux or FreeBSD variety. The notorious Microsoft Windows Server only claims 0.4% of the super computer space and about 30-37% of the Internet Server space. Summarized, the Internet runs on UNIX and specifically on variances of Linux.

When it comes to the web, not only is the majority of the web hosted on systems built by the open source community, but the web applications hosted and run on those systems are open source. The most widely used framework in the world is PHP. One of the biggest up and comers for serving websites and providing interactive web applications is Node.js, with Ruby on Rails being a stalwart for speedy prototyping and production application for thousands of businesses.

Mysql & postgresql round out two of the most heavily utilized databases in existence. Postgresql has grown from zero code to a massively capable database, regularly one-upping the stalwarts at Oracle, Microsoft or other database makers. Mysql has become the go to database for those starting a website or collecting 60 billion rows of data a day, such as New Relic. Many successful businesses have turned these databases into absolutely powerhouses that truly eclipse the need to expend the revenue on databases like SQL Server or Oracles Databases.

NoSQL has come into existence and exists today because of the community. Not everyone has a big data problem and a need for a NoSQL database, or what is sometimes called Not Only SQL these days. The open source community stepped up to build out solutions where relational databases and their history of vertically scaling falls down for modern web applications that run at larger than normal scale. Companies like Facebook, Twitter and others have helped to bring people into this fold and bring more great minds developing the open source that powers these things. This entire movement has been a huge win for the Internet and increased functionality – and the mere ability for many of the large sites to continue to exist at scale (think LinkedIn, Netflix, Facebook, etc)

O’Reilly Books is a company that does a number of things, two of which are run conferences and publish books. They’re a well respected company that encourages open source software and learning through its books, conferences and is heavily involved in supporting the individuals and community around open source software. Even though they don’t create open source software, they provide a massive boost to the ability of developers to write and create open source software by mere involvement. This is a perfect example of example from outside of software development that gains value and adds value back to the community as a whole.

That’s just a few. So really, there’s no reason to resist the freedom of open source. Ignoring or turning away from open source is like turning your back on your family, your community and those around you. There’s no reason to believe the nonsense about TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) that’s been wielded as a weapon against open source solutions. There’s no reason to listen to the FUD about “will it survive” or “what happens when X happens to the project”. There are many companies out there that will help you understand these solutions further, so the TCO argument is dead on arrival. The only path here is toward more software freedoms, preventing large companies from limiting our development options (re: Oracle suing to control API end point pathing, etc). When you do development these days, your first option and thought should be to open source “all the things”. It will help you as a developer, it will be better for you company and those that are leading the way, and it will be better for the community as a whole.

Stay relevant. Write code, individually contribute and be part of your community.

I’m Adron (@adron twitter or @adron app.net) and I write open source software.