Apple, Windows

Apple iOS Beta versus Microsoft GA

It’s been really interesting lately in my tech life. I’m still an avowed user of Apple products. particularly iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. All of these products make up my day to day in terms of running my life.

In order to stay up to date on the latest from Microsoft and Google, I invested in a Surface Book 2 and also a Galaxy S10 5g. For about two weeks, I basically replaced my iPad with the surface. On the smartphone side, I carried both my iPhone and the Galaxy.

Working with the Surface was mostly okay, but it was full of daily annoyances. The time it takes to start up…all the way until applications are actually useful. It seems like an eternity  compared to my iPad Pro 12.9. The apps on the iPad are instantly available for use and interaction the moment I open the tablet. Not the Surface, particularly with Outlook which can sometimes take about 3 minutes to do whatever it needs to do in the background. Granted, it’s the more “complete” Outlook for Windows 10, but that hardly seems a proper excuse. And besides, for what I do, I actually prefer the iOS interface to all the Microsoft Office apps.

The real issue has to do with the Microsoft update process…or a lack thereof. The last update basically bricked my Surface, making the CPU throttle to about Pentium speeds and basically unusable. The GPU in the base also “disappeared”. These are actions from official Microsoft General Availability releases of Windows 10 and Surface firmware. One only wonders if they have active QA.

Contrast this to the beta of iPad OS. It’s rock solid, my apps all work, and I have picked up all sorts of features, like USB Drive support that make this machine a joy to work on. So, I’ve gotten my full of the Windows “experience” for a while until they fix my machine with new updates.

As for the Galaxy, I was more impressed with that…again except for several things I was immediately missing. Integrated messaging like iMessage is basically non-existent and forget about anything like iCloud. The Apple ecosystem really means something to active iPhone users. The smartphone experience is about all the software and services, not just your camera resolution. I found the Samsung phone to be very well made.  I simply didnt care for Android, finding it a bit complex to do ordinary things. Also, the privacy aspects are concerning. Apps that ask for camera and microphone access…when this access is clearly not required happen frequently and are disconcerting. Still, if you started on Android and have never experienced the Apple ecosystem, then I suppose you don’t yet know what you are missing.

It’s a lot!


A Shout Out to Apple Music

I’ve been using Apple Music every day since the launch and I am totally hooked. What has grabbed me are the recommend playlists that show up every day in the For You section of the app.

It never fails that there are several playlists offered up every single day in which I am really interested. Some of the playlists are based primarily on what I have in my music library, which I would expect. For instance, I am a big ELO fan, so I just had a Deep Cuts for ELO playlist show up yesterday. Like most of Apple’s suggestions, it was spot on for me.

What’s even more impressive is when the playlist is based on an artist or a theme not explicitly present in my library. Great examples are ones based on the artists that might have influenced the acts that are in my library, allowing me to dig even deeper into music I may never have heard.

And that’s really my favorite thing about Apple Music. It has me listening again…a lot. And to things I either haven’t heard in ages or even better, things I’ve never heard before and most likely never would have sought out. So, I suppose you could say my love for music has really been rekindled by this awesome new service.

One other quick note is about affordability. I have been a heavy subscriber to XM Radio for years now, running it in multiple cars. With that service, you have to pay the subscription fee for every single radio. Now, with Apple Music, and blue tooth streaming, I only have to pay for *one* subscription and it works for me wherever I am. I am looking at substantial cost savings by converting from XM Radio to Apple Music. Not to mention the service is so much better and more tailored to my listening needs.

If your an iPhone or iTunes user, Apple Music is completely free for 90 days. It’s definitely worth checking out.


Apple Watch Battery Usage Update

It’s been a good two weeks and I have learned quite a bit about my usage patterns for the Apple Watch.

For the first few days, I was using it constantly and often getting low on battery by the night time. Then, as time as passed, I have learned to reduce things like notifications to only those I really need. And I only run apps on the Watch when it’s not convenient to use my iPhone.

By reducing my usage level to a more “normal” level of activity, I am able to end the day with upwards of 35% or more battery left on the Watch. So, I am now able to wear it to bed, and it keeps track of my heart rate all night long. I am getting a sleep quality app next to try as well.

Then, when I wake, I charge the watch for about two hours and it’s normally at 97% by then and ready for a full day.

Oh, and battery usage on the iPhone has stabilized as well. There is definitely usage, but it does not drain the battery to the point where the phone needs charging out of your normal cycle, i.e. at night.

Bottom line: Once you adopt a pattern of Apple Watch usage that doesn’t involve touching it every single minute the battery life is more than sufficient for a day and even for use at night.

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Simplify Suite

Taking Command of RDS with Tricerat Simplify Suite and TX


Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Service is a widely used method to deploy native Windows applications and full desktop access across the wire to a variety of client computing devices, including non-Windows devices, tablets and smartphones. Advantages to this type of deployment are widely appreciated. Applications can be deployed in a matter of minutes to large groups of users, regardless of computing platform. The management of these applications and resources can be handled at the server farm level, avoiding the need to continually “touch” each client device every time a new application or resource is added or changed. Since the applications and desktops run on the server, no data is maintained on the client, so there is some inherent data security.

In practice, deploying apps and other computing resources via RDS is easily accomplished with native tools when the installation is small and lacking in complexity. However, as soon as the installation grows to several apps, requires native (or mobile) printing, or more intricate control of the user experience, the operating system tools fall far short.

At Tricerat, we engineer software to simplify the job of the I.T. Admin. Enter Tricerat’s Simplify Suite and Simplify Printing TX. We designed these comprehensive software packages to address many of the significharacter1cant shortcomings inherent with the native RDS technology. Importantly, our software is designed specifically to save the I.T. Admin precious time. This article presents a brief overview of the products’ purpose; future posts will examine certain aspects in a How To format.

The Tricerat Tools can:

* Assign and manage single applications or entire desktops. Applications and desktops can be assigned by user, group, or even by login location. Activate and deactivate desktops and applications for the entire server farm with one click.

* Deploy new sets of applications and printers to users in real time while they are logged in. Users simply press refresh and they immediately gain the new functionality. This provides an excellent way to test the roll out of application upgrades without disrupting production.

* Monitor all server processes, ensuring that no single process overruns the operation of the server in terms of memory or CPU. Automatic remediation actions are included to prevent dreaded server lock up and the exhaustion of memory.

* Replace Roaming profiles with a managed set of Hybrid Profiles that load 500% faster and without the corruption issues that are the cause of most user login failures.

* Provide complete control over folder redirection and registry operations, ensuring a consistent look and feel to applications across a farm of application servers. Registry tools allow discrete control over functions that appear in applications. Good examples are the removal of the “Run” command from Microsoft Word, or providing a standardized set of application tool bars for differing groups of users.

* Fix the issues associated with printing from a server application through a remote display device. Tricerat tools provide management of network and locally attached printers including all native printer functions, like stapling, sorting, collating, etc. Tricerat’s ScrewDrivers virtual driver technology ensures accurate print jobs regardless of the type of client device displaying the windows application or desktop. With our Simplify Printing TX application, you can even configure and manage all iOS and Android printing, including Google Cloud Print.  Learn More about Simplify Printing TX.

* Manage all these aspects of the user environment from an easy to use database driven console.

Some of the world’s largest corporations have deployed Tricerat’s Simplify Suite and printing technologies to manage their RDS installations. Our software has been in active development for well over a decade and is serviced and supported by a worldwide network of highly skilled system integrators. If you are currently, or are considering deploying applications and desktops with RDS, you’ll find the Tricerat tools invaluable time savers. Look at this space for future How To articles.

Get your 30 Day Free Trial at

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Red or Blue

Red or Blue? New Political Game for Apple Watch and iPhone

Introducing Red or Blue – The Political Quiz game for iPhone and Apple Watch

I’ve always wanted to have a game about politics for my iPhone (and now my Apple Watch!). Something I can mess with when I have a few free minutes. So, the idea came to me one day. What about a simple Yes or No game where you see a comment made by a politician and have to guess whether it was a republican or democrat. Hence Red or Blue.

The game is going to be tricky. We’ll do our best to get a good collection of quotes, many of which many not be obvious at first. At the end of the game, you’ll get to compare your scores to those of your Facebook and Twitter friends to see who leads the pack!

For now, we are gathering names and emails of those who might be interested in this game. You can sign up here:

You can also play a mini version of the game for the web here:

Based on the reactions we receive, the game could be formally published in the next month or so. Stay tuned!


Apple Watch and iPhone Battery

I was noticing a real drain on my iPhone 6 Plus battery after pairing my Apple Watch. My iPhone used to make it two days between charges, but after the Watch I was looking at barely a day!

Turns out the main culprit is the Apple Watch Companion app that runs on the phone. That app can be quit and the Watch will continue to function as normal. And, suddenly, much less battery usage. Clearly, Apple has some programming to do!

So, if you are seeing a drain on your iPhone battery, try quitting that Companion App.

Back to playing!

p.s. The Watch battery is holding up great. It’s at 57% at 6pm and I attached it to my wrist at about 7am. Much better than I expected.

Update: Started at 100% on both devices at 7am. At 2:45 pm, Watch is at 74% and iPhone Plus is at 61%. I was using the iPhone Plus camera for a bit which used some battery. But, this is more battery use than normal for me, so it looks like there is still some drain on the iPhone Plus while it is connected to the Watch. Basically, I’ll have to go back to charging the iPhone Plus every night if/until this changes.

This is interesting because everyone was concerned about the Watch battery life; no one was talking about what it would do with the iPhone battery. Turns out we may have been looking in the wrong place. All that said we are at 1.0 here and I am sure things will develop rapidly.

Really gotten into using the watch and iPhone to track my activity. It works really, really well, and there is a ton of data collected. Looking forward to adding more health related apps.


Apple Watch!

All I can say is….. I’M IN LOVE!!!!!!! All these years of waiting and the day has finally arrived.

This is such an amazing piece of style and technology. It just feels right. It looks great. And it is going to be infinitely useful.

And my company, Playscreen, has a game for it! Black Jack Anywhere which you can download from the App Store. Here’s a pic of the game playing on my wrist!


Off to play with some more of the cool apps!

Simplify Backup

Advantages of Cloud Backup

I’ve received some interesting feedback from IT folks concerning Backup and Recovery. Many have written in saying they are still using antiquated tape backup devices and are maintaining libraries. Some have talked about tape failure and subsequent data loss. One even described a tape theft.

Tape backup also involves a great deal of expense, both in terms of equipment, media and especially personnel. These costs are not always immediately apparent, especially the costs of maintaining the tape library.

I did a little more research into the adoption of cloud based backup solutions and found some interesting statistics from Microsoft. In a survey of SMB, Microsoft found that 64% of shops that don’t currently use cloud services have security fears and 45% still fear not having decent controls over their data. Worse, as many as 42% think the cloud is unreliable in general. Much of this fear is being driven by the hype associated with the so-called hacking of celebrity photos in the cloud and even by Hollywood with the release of movies like Sex Tape.

The interesting thing is that the study also uncovered that the actual experience of those SMB’s who moved to a cloud solution is far different from these fears. In fact, these adoptive companies report that the cloud is reliable, secure and provides privacy benefits. In fact, 94% found the cloud more secure than their previous tape solution, 65% found it more reliable and 62% claimed it provided more privacy. These SMB’s are finding advantages that they didn’t expect.

Perhaps the best news for SMB’s implementing a cloud solution is that it allows for more time for their I.T staff to work on revenue generating projects and even can generate additional capital for the growth of their business.

Tricerat’s Simplify Backup is a cloud based backup and recovery solution that is simple to install and configure. Critically, your data is encrypted and is stored in secure installations operated by EMC Corporation, the world’s leader in data storage. This solution provides a low cost, high availability method for complete data protection and recovery.

Update: Citrix did a blog post about the top 5 myths people believe about the cloud.


Celebrating Earth Day

It’s Earth Day again! Time to recommit ourselves to doing what is right for the planet and our future generations. At my household, we are working hard to grow some of our own vegetables and fruits this year. Growing some of your own food, as well as buying from local farmers, is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint, while improving the nutrition content of your diet. And besides, gardening is fun and good exercise.

We’ve got lettuce and spinach growing in an Earth Box on the deck. IMG_0243

Just finished building the gardens around the Pole Barn where we get tons of sun. We were able to have 30ft on one side and 40ft on the other. What a great use of otherwise wasted space. Sure beat digging up the lawn. Special shout out to my buddy Russell Brooks for his help getting those in.

At one end of the garden we will be putting in berries and rhubarb. At the other end, we’ll put in tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers of various sorts. Some of which we’ve started already. The weather is looking unfavorable for planting until early May.



Finally, we added a new Purple Martin house to the property. Putting that together was…fun. Hopefully we’ll get some residents soon!

That’s what we are doing in celebration of our environment. What are you up to?


Simplify Backup

It’s spring and time to do all those fun cleaning projects. Some of us also like to so a spring cleaning of our computer. Many times this leads us to making decisions about what files to keep and what is just not worth wasting space over.

While doing these spring cleaning duties, something we all tend to forget about is backing up our important files. Often we don’t even consider what to do until disaster strikes. Fortunately, modern operating systems like Windows or OS X come complete with simple utilities to create backups from your local machine to local storage.

But is a local backup enough? Are you even doing one? When was the last time you tested a file recovery? What happens if your backup drive fails or if you have a natural disaster at your home? Fortunately, there is an excellent solution for handling all of these situations and more.

Simplify Backup, from Tricerat Inc., is a cloud based solution. The product is powered by Mozy Pro, a Division of EMC Corp, the storage giant. The primary advantage here is that your backups are being stored in EMC’s cloud. From there, these files can be instantly recovered and downloaded back to your computer.

Setting up Simplify Backup is a breeze. There is a small app that runs on your Windows or OS X machine. It is from this app that you control what files are to be backed up and over what time frame. It is important to note that backup speeds are affected by outbound bandwidth. So, if you are tight on bandwidth, it is best to schedule your backups for off-peak hours.

Mozy OS X Client

Once the app is installed and you’ve selected your files, the app will start the backup process to the cloud. The time it takes for the first backup depends strictly on the number and size of your files as well as your upload speed. I was able to backup several gigabytes of files in one business day, on a fairly heavily used internet connection.


A really cool feature of the product is the Mozy Client app for iOS and Android. This free app allows mobile access to all of your backed up files. Right from this app you can see the files that have been archived and you can read documents, look at pictures, play videos, etc. It’s like taking your hard drive with you on your phone. Very convenient.

Here’s a short video of the Simplify Backup mobile client operating on an iPhone 6 Plus:

Looking for a simple to use,  yet very powerful and inexpensive way to protect your files? Try Simplify Backup from Tricerat Inc. You’ll feel better! Really, you will!