My day in London

I’m back in my hotel in Paddington, London now. Just finished with a work meeting and my schedule is now free. I like being alone in a foreign country. Allows me to truly explore small places where I can’t go if I were to bring family along.

I’ve spent the whole day planning around this meeting. It was set at 2pm which makes going out for sight seeing to be tedious at best. Also, it is almost winter now in London so the bitter cold air, dampness and overall general weariness hung on to the day like stubborn cobwebs in a dirty barn.  I’ve soiled my sneakers and jeans when I took a morning walk to Kensington High Street for shopping. I had packed super light for the trip and wanted to get a thick long-sleeve t-shirt to sleep in because I’ve brought an Airism wife-beater by mistake.

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Time for a new laptop

Recently, I had been bitten by the upgrade bug for a notebook. I was looking for something to replace the very reliable Surface Pro 4 2-in-1 that I had been using everyday since it was launched as the main daily driver at work. My must-haves were simple. The following are compulsory features that I am looking for:-

  • Light (I had really grown to like the ultra portability of the Surface Pro line of computers);
  • Large high resolution screen (not necessarily 4k but definitely not 16:9 as I had found the 3:2 form factor to be ideal for work and photography); and
  • Powerful enough to handle my daily work routine (which could range from creating Powerpoint presentations to analyzing complex Excel worksheets to occasionally editing photos on Lightroom).
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Something’s amiss with Apple

I’m using and have owned various Apple products through the years. I’m typing this blog post on an iPad Pro that is tethered to my iPhone 6S Plus while regularly checking my Apple Watch to ensure that I don’t miss my next appointment. When I get home, I watch Netflix on my TV via an Apple TV and then check my emails on my iMac before I go to bed.

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Happy 40th Birthday Apple!

Apple marked its 40 years of existence with a, well, nothing. For most companies, a milestone is a cause for celebration, or atleast, an opportunity to sell more items through an anniversary themed promotion. But not Apple. It chooses to celebrate this occasion by doing nothing.

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Apple September 2014 Event Keynote

It is really weird that Apple’s announcements are always called keynotes. I remembered times when a keynote meant the most important speech that always underscores the theme of an event. It is supposed to precede an event. Apple’s Special September Event is just that– an event where the only thing happening was the keynote.

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Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac

Even though I love Apple’s iWork, I’ve always had a soft spot of Microsoft Office. In my mind, iWork is the sexy Ferari that one takes out to spin once in a while Office is the utilitarian Toyota one takes daily to commute from point A to B.

That is the reason why any Microsoft Office for Mac always attracts my interest. It’s like a clash between 2 ideologies where the Mac, a temple of aesthetics, melds with Microsoft, the makes of Fisher Price blue and lime green themed operating systems like Windows XP. Their offspring can sometimes be wonderful- like the very first version of Microsoft Excel for the Mac or it could be disastrous like Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac.

Microsoft writes really good code for office productivity software. I can’t imagine a day in office where I’m not relying on my trusty Microsoft Outlook to organize my day and flow of information or squeezing meaning out of data dumps with complex pivot tables on Microsoft Excel.

But all that is in the office.

At home, in front my big screen Mac, I just want to have fun while I work. I want to drain my brain from the clumsy and clunky Windows interface and just stare at beautifully crafted icons.

Occasionally, when I need to work on office items, I want to use elegantly designed software like iWork. But Pages and Numbers can only carry me so far. Once in a while, I have to shore up my courage and load Microsoft Office 2008 on my Mac and get the work done.

During those times mentioned above, my Mac is transformed to become a Windows PC. Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac is so badly designed and perplexing, especially for big screen Macs, that J.J. Abrams could have set the story of Lost on the computer screen. Common features are embedded so far deep into the interface that they don’t have the chance to see the light of day.

The good news is that this may change with Microsoft Office for Mac 2011. While it is not a Lexus, Microsoft have learnt a few things and these are the key improvements which I really liked after test driving the Microsoft Office for Mac 2011:-

Fast and more responsive: I’m blown away by the improvements in speed. The applications load up quickly and in matter of fractions of seconds, one can start using Word, Powerpoint or Excel. Letters appear instantly on screen as you type in Microsoft Word. Contrast this to the previous version where the application speed is slow and highly unresponsive, the improvement in performance is one great compelling reason why everyone who is using Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac should upgrade.

Snazzier Templates: Okay, Steve Jobs will probably not use any of the supplied Microsoft PowerPoint templates but they are the best Microsoft Office templates that I had ever seen so far. Much better than any in the PC version—and the best thing is that they are fully compatible which means that there is no need to export great looking presentations from Keynote to Powerpoint.

Microsoft Word

Improved User Interface: The separate floating “palette” is gone! In its place is the ribbon that first made its appearance in Microsoft Office 2010 for the PC. There is some contention as to whether the ribbon is a better interface but I’ve grown to like it. It is really practical for people like me who have 12 different windows opened at any one point in time.