Junction Two Weeks on Tuesday Bi-weekly Review : Issue #001

So every two weeks I intend to provide an update for the Junction Project. Who might have joined, what was worked on, where we are and generally any other bits of news related to the project. This is the first “Junction Two Weeks on Tuesday Review” so enjoy! ¬†ūüôā

  • Two weeks ago today I wrote the entry “Introducing Junction” to kick off the project. Everything is hosted on github via github pages at¬†http://adron.github.io/junction/¬†and the git repository at¬†https://github.com/Adron/junction. The video in which I described at a high level each of the sections of the application is located here:¬†http://vimeo.com/adronhall/junction.
  • Clive Boulton @cliveb, Jared Wray @jaredwray, Kristen Mozian @kmozian and OJ Reeves @OJ joined the project to help out.
  • Issues, as stories and tasks were added to get started with the project. Here’s a first draft of the things we’re all working on. If you’d like to jump in, feel free to ping me and I’ll add you to the project, you can submit a PR (Pull Request) or talk to me about organizing a hackathon to help move the project forward.

Github Issues – Working Items

The easiest way to view these is to log into the Huboard Kanban Board and give a look see of what is in progress and who’s working on what. Currently I’ve outlined the big items that we’re working on and would love a fellow coder to jump in on. If you’re interested, ping me @adron¬†or just jump into the issues list on Github¬†(or view by milestone – i.e. functional area) and comment on the issue you want to dive into, I’ll add you so you can get started!

For the “Call the Doctor (Administration and Maintenance)” part of the application there are a number of questions to answer. How should we connect to Riak to ensure a secure SSH connection? Should we even use SSH? Is there another way to connect to the Riak Cluster for a secure way to administer the cluster?

In the “Golfing With Your Data (Query, Put, Deletes, Etc. Handling the CRUD)” one could dive into creating a functional query space to pull data out of a Riak Cluster. A lot of UI work needs to be done in this space, so if you’re up for putting together some awesome windows 8 interfaces, I’d love to hear from you!

Review Summary

At this point we’re moving forward. We’re always looking forward to new participants so reach out if you’re up for helping out! ¬†So until the next two weeks are up, see ya at the Junction!

Introducing Junction

Today I’ve officially kicked off a new project from my notebook of projects based around building a Riak admin, data manipulation, reporting and news tool for Windows 8. If you want to jump right to the project, here’s the Github Pages Site, the Github Junction Repo and eventually I’ll have it listed in the Windows 8 Store for download. Yes, it’ll be free as in beer, it’ll all be Apache 2.0 Licensed and the project is open to contributors and others that want to jump into things. There’s also a quick intro for how I setup the “Windows 8 Logos, Badges & Splash Screens of Riak“.

So now that I’ve provided the links, here’s a quick intro to each of the application sections, what this application is for, where the workflow for contributions will be and what the next steps are. Trust me, I roll easy, I’ll be working as hard as I can to make pull requests easy peasy, keep the issues down to workable contributions and the whole “this is a good OSS project”.

Riak Junction Application rocking on the Windows 8 desktop with a full tile!
Riak Junction Application rocking on the Windows 8 desktop with a full tile!

Juncture Divisions

The juncture application should be split into several key components, or application divisions of functionality. I’ve broken each out with a basic description. If you just want to watch a video where I outline each division, play the video below for a quick 5 minute intro to the application and the idea behind it all.

A quick run through of the first sample UI.

Call the Doctor! (Administration & Maintenance)

This part of the application would provide an interface for all the general administration and maintenance needs around individual nodes and around the overall cluster of nodes. The ability to add, remove and generally administer everything that is available via the riak-admin command line interface.

Time Travel That Data (Performance Benchmarking)

This section of the application will provide the ability to benchmark the timing of data in and out of a cluster. In addition it should show standard benchmarking similar to that which is offered with the basho_bench project.

Love of the Data (Reporting)

This division of the application would be focused on reporting. I’m not sure what exactly that would entail, but something with charts, graphs and pulling together trending points of some sort. If you have ideas and want to work on this part of the application, weigh in!

Golfing With Your Data (Query, Put, Deletes, Etc. Handling the CRUD)

The application will have an interface to provide access to add and remove data, as well as viewing the data that is available within a cluster. The primary means for implementing this part of the application will be with the CorrugatedIron Project. It’s a library available via Nuget that @peschkaj and @TheColonial¬†have put together.

News! News! News! (News… ¬†RSS Feed Reader)

The idea is that this will provide a quick and easy way to get familiar with Windows 8 dev and the project overall. I’m aiming to eat the Basho blog feed and provide it as key highlights for the application with future abilities around mining other RSS feeds or such and having those fed into a ?? ¬†Riak Cluster? Again, everything is open to change, addition or removal! So jump into the project and let me know your thoughts.

Cheers & Happy Hacking!

Banning the Phablet… with the Samsung ATIV with Keyboard.

Ok, in the end, let’s just call these things tablets. I know there is the attempt to call these phablets, but that’s so freakin’ stupid. They’re called tablets Microsoft. Just go with the flow. Here’s an unboxing, initial application viewing & a bit more via video. I’ve broken this review into three sections; A Video Review & Unboxing, A Few Product Photos and A Few Notes. On to the review…

A Video Review & Unboxing

A Few Product Photos

Samsung ATIV (Click for full size)
Samsung ATIV (Click for full size)
The ATIV with Windows 8 Start Screen displayed. (Click for full size)
The ATIV with Windows 8 Start Screen displayed. (Click for full size)
The side view of the ATIV; power button, the something another button, headphone jack and USB port. (Click for full size)
The side view of the ATIV; power button, the something another button, headphone jack and USB port. (Click for full size)
The button, connectors removed for attachment to keyboard. (Click for full size)
The button, connectors removed for attachment to keyboard. (Click for full size)
Close up of the screen. (Click for full size)
Close up of the screen. (Click for full size)
The Connectors between the bottom and the keyboard. (Click for full size)
The Connectors between the bottom and the keyboard. (Click for full size)
ATIV connected to the keyboard. (Click for full size)
ATIV connected to the keyboard. (Click for full size)
Power chord side. (Click for full size)
Power chord side. (Click for full size)
Base of it, folded with keyboard. (Click for full size)
Base of it, folded with keyboard. (Click for full size)

A Few Notes

On an Atom device, a ton of software is incompatible with Windows 8. NOTE this. It is vitally important to be aware of. Especially if you’re under the impression you’ll do any type of “Microsoft” Application Development. Also much of the 64-bit software won’t run even in¬†compatibility¬†mode. All things to keep in mind when making a purchase.

Strava, Pandora, Spotify and many other apps just do not exist for Windows 8 – still. Microsoft is either going to have to win market share in the app market or they’re going to have to pay companies to build Windows 8 versions of their applications. This isn’t entirely out of the question, as Microsoft has basically paid for most of the applications that are in the Windows 8 store.

If you’re an Evernote power user, or any type of power user for that matter, you will likely need to download the regular Windows version of any application in addition to the Windows 8 Start bar, tablet style metro interface contraption that is available via the store. The Evernote application for instance is cumbersome and requires more fiddling about clicking and moving things on the screen to be truly useful.

Amidst all of these problems there are a few gems in the Windows 8 application space. The one that stands out the most to me at this time is the Amazon Kindle Application. It is truly one of the more polished applications, but in addition it looks good and works well in the Windows 8 touch universe. Another application that holds up is the Weather Application. Yup, the simple built in Windows 8 Weather Application.

The Evernote application, fact is it doesn’t synchronize effectively nor does it actually show you how or were it is within that process. In the end, even though the application appears, at first to work well with touch, it doesn’t work well overall. Maybe it’s Evernote or Microsoft that is at fault. I don’t know. As the consumer I don’t need to know because it’s their responsibility to make these things work. Hopefully, that’ll happen eventually.

I’ll be using the tablet in an ongoing basis to build and test Windows 8 applications and for some everyday tasks; email, twitter and other applications as they become available. I’ll definitely have more to say about this device. Another review in a few months when I get really used to the Windows 8 interface and the hardware itself.

NOTE: I don’t get paid to do any of these reviews. I merely do these because I enjoy good, candid reviews and want to contribute back to the tech community. I am not paid to advocate Windows 8, Samsung, Apple, Tablets or Phablets or anything in this video. This is merely a product that I have purchased that I intend to use for software development and testing in the near future.

Cheers,

Lenovo X1 Carbon Touch :: Opening, Setup and Failure

X1 Carbon with all the standard parts that come in box. (Click for full size image)
X1 Carbon with all the standard parts that come in box. (Click for full size image)

Yesterday I received my X1 Carbon Touch from Amazon. First part of this whole adventure is that I sent it to my old address in one part of town so that led to a little sleuth action to track it down. After a short bike ride up the street I arrived and the office staff had my X1 Carbon. Whew, disaster averted.

I went down to Ace Hotel were one of the local Stumptown locations is to open it up and see what I was in store for. Nothing like a good macchiato while I unpackaged the new machine. When I arrived I ran into Nathan Aschbacher and Eric Redmond. Two of my fellow Basho comrades. We all grabbed coffee and headed up to the roost for some hacking and conversation.

Unpacking

In the package, laptop sitting on the table at Ace Hotel's Stumptown Coffee.
In the package, laptop sitting on the table at Ace Hotel’s Stumptown Coffee. (Click for large image)

Unpacking the Lenovo X1 Carbon is a straight forward process. A simple box, no elegance, just a box with some labels and logos on it. Pulling the laptop out of the box, still just the bare minimum. No bells, no whistles, even the documentation is a 2-3 page pamphlet. Personally, I’m totally cool with this approach. I find Apple’s packaging to be an experience of sorts, however extensively wasteful.

One of the applications I found not available for Windows 8 was a native HipChat client. This actually makes sense, since most of their customers are likely using Linux or OS-X. It really shows how Windows has seriously lost the edge with developers.

Nathan and Eric both give a feel to see how light and strong the laptop is. Nobody actually threw the laptop, but we all wanted to, just to see how it would hold up. Maybe with somebody else’s hard earned Lenovo purchase. ūüėČ

Nathan gives it a look.  (Click for full size image)
Nathan gives it a look. (Click for full size image)
Gleefully smiling at the laptop, Eric proposes we throw it over the guardrail to the first floor below. (Click for full size image)
Gleefully smiling at the laptop, Eric proposes we throw it over the guardrail to the first floor below. (Click for full size image)
No start? (Click for full size image)
No start? (Click for full image)

After Nathan and Eric threaten the poor laptop, I set her down and try and get her booted up. First thing I notice, it doesn’t start. I’m puzzled? Why doesn’t it start? I pick at my PC Tech experience and think, “oh yeah, probably gotta do something stupid an unintuitive like plug it in for some magically arbitrary amount of time first”.

Lenovo lives! (Click for full size)
Lenovo lives! (Click for full size)

So I plug it in and try again. A small light around the power button, kind of a halo, lights up and immediately I get the happiness. The machine is coming to life. A bright Lenovo logo pops on the screen with the notorious Windows 8 swirly working image below.

Move ya mouse! (click for full size image)
Move ya mouse! (click for full size image)

Windows 8 then shifts into a preparing windows workflow which basically means you fill out a few things and it does something to the OS to make it ready to run. I sit through a solid 7-10 minutes of these screens, these fluctuating colors. It’s rad, in a¬†psychedelic¬†waste of time kind of way. However, I’ll admit, my Mac Book Air is sitting beside me running just fine that I’m using to do work while I wait for all this process to finish. I’m no¬†amateur¬†at loading operating systems, I come prepared. ūüėČ

A Problem Arises

I relocate to Bailey’s Taproom after setting up some basic things and installing Visual Studio 2012 on the machine. While working through updates and installing patches my track pointer (the little red button thingy in the middle of the keyboard, that Lenovo is famous for) stops working.

I toy around with the settings and see why the track pointer is shadowed out in the settings. I battle with Windows 8 trying to find the easiest way into the settings and out of the settings and to the desktop and to the start screen and back and forth. It’s somewhat tumultuous but in the end it’s helping me get used to the new system and where everything is. But still, I’ve no idea why the track pointer thingy doesn’t work. I consult the great Google.

Apparently the drivers that it ships with are the suck. I get pointed to this video by Jesse Anderson.

After I get the drivers installed, everything is working flawlessly again. Onward!

Flakiness o’ Windows 8

As I’m working on Windows 8 setting up some of the cool applications for the start menu (or whatever the metro dealio is called now) I get a really flaky behavior. This is the kind of behavior that screams “we don’t really pay attention to usability” or maybe it screams “we’ve no idea what we shipped” or maybe it’s just a simple example of “oh shit we shipped that stupid user experience“. Whatever the case is, this is it…

Notice something redundant here?
Notice something redundant here?

Yup, on a laptop with a HARDWARE LAPTOP ATTACHED Windows 8 is showing me the keyboard. WTF kind of pure idiocy of a UX is this? My mind is blown. After years of the iPad having this problem figured out (and Apple doesn’t even sell keyboards themselves). When you have a HARDWARE keyboard NEVER show anybody the stupid SOFTWARE¬†keyboard¬†EVER. Seriously, this has to be one of the dumbest UX situations that I’ve seen in ages. This is a total failure of logical flow. Note also, this screen doesn’t fold all the way around, this is a laptop pure and simple, not in any way a tablet. But there’s the SOFTWARE¬†keyboard¬†that one should only see on a tablet! Oh well, it aint the end of the world, it’s just DUMB.

I get everything else setup, zonk for the night after working through all the software installations and patches. All is right. All is cool.

Loading Ubuntu Linux

Loading Ubuntu (Click for full size)
Loading Ubuntu (Click for full size)
Ubuntu (Click for full size)
Ubuntu (Click for full size)

The next morning I rise early and get to working on the next phase of my installation. I don’t, by any means, intend to use Windows 8 all the time on this machine. I want to have a dual boot of Ubuntu and Windows 8 on this laptop so that I can have every OS (OS-X, Windows 8 and Ubuntu) running natively on at least one machine that I have.

I do a little research and find this information about making a bootable USB Stick for Ubuntu from Windows. That information points me to this application that makes it a no brainer to get a bootable USB stick ready for use via Linux Live USB.

Just As I Got Ubuntu Installed…

I shut down the computer after getting all of these things installed. Windows 8 was finally fully patched, Ubuntu was installed and running with all patches too. The X1 seemed to hang on the shutdown. So I held down the power button for about 8 seconds to hard reboot the machine. Thinking that it would startup no problem at a later time I packed it in my messenger bag and headed off to a meeting I had scheduled. I arrived at the meeting and went to start the laptop again.

…nothing.

So I tried to hold the button down for 7 seconds to start it back up.

…nothing.

I packed it back up and returned to a place I could plug it in and try to start it. I swung into Backspace and found an electrical jack. Plugged in, counted a few seconds just for good luck. I then held down the power button for 8 seconds to see if it would start plugged in.

…nothing.

SOS SOS SOS !!!!!
SOS SOS SOS !!!!!

(Click for large image)

I then sporadically pressed the button. I then used morse code to spell S.O.S. on the power button.

…nothing.

I resigned myself to now owning a large paper weight. Albeit a much lighter paper weight than what laptops traditionally weighed. My X1 Carbon Touch was dead. I called tech support.

Impressive Support

First thing that happens, I navigate through support quickly. The automated voice tells me I am now being connected to Lenovo Support in Atlanta, Georgia. At this point I was impressed. I’m getting to speak to someone in the country where I’ve bought the machine. That is cool.

I get connected to Tom in support. I fill him in on my sitrep. We walk through some basic troubleshooting. Such as the “pin in the battery reset hole” trick“.

…nothing.

Tom wastes no time as I’ve already laid out everything I have in this blog entry. He declares it dead and gets a box on its way to me for returning it to Lenovo. With a promised 7 day return after I ship it to them. Well hot damn, my laptop is dead by I’m stoked to have support like this. I don’t recall support this good since the late 90s!!

As I tweeted about this I got a lot of responses like this. I concur and I already have a mac, this is an machine specifically NOT for using the mac. ¬†ūüėõ

So in the meantime, it’s back to Windows 8 via VMware Fusion on a good ole’ mac!

Windows 8 via VMware Fusion on OS-X. (Click for full size)
Windows 8 via VMware Fusion on OS-X. (Click for full size)

…so stay tuned, for the ongoing saga of Windows 8 & Ubuntu Linux Development on a Lenovo!