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Thoughts on the new Microsoft Surface Book

David Meego - Click for blog homepageOn Thursday 12th November 2015, the Microsoft Store in Sydney opened. Located at Westfield Sydney on the Pitt Street Mall, this is the first flagship Microsoft Store to be opened outside of North America and is a wonderful commitment to the Australian market.

Along with the opening of the store was the Australian launch of the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book computers announced at the Microsoft Windows 10 Devices Briefing.

I had already planned on getting a Surface Pro 4 based on the leaked information and speculation I had heard prior to the Devices Briefing. But when Microsoft surprised us with the Surface Book (well done on keeping it secret), I changed my mind and ordered the top of the range Surface Book (i7, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, GPU) and Surface Dock the next day on the Australian Microsoft Online Store.


After owning a Surface Pro 3 for more than a year and loving it, my reasoning for wanting the Surface Book over the Surface Pro 4 was as follows:

  • I found that I could not use the Surface Pro 3 easily on my lap. Once opened with keyboard and stand, it would not fit on my lap (something about short legs and fat gut).
  • I liked the idea of a larger screen. The Surface Pro 3 screen was a bit small when travelling (and not using an external screen).
  • I like playing FPS games (although I rarely have the time), and a discrete GPU would be useful.
  • I used to have a much larger and heavier laptop and so a little extra weight was acceptable, especially when it gives a longer battery life and discrete GPU.
  • OK, it is also freaking cool for a Microsoft Fan.

After waiting patiently while my friends in the USA got their Surface Books and posted on Facebook how much they liked them (looking at you Belinda), finally launch day in Australia came around.

I had received emails on the day before showing that the extra Surface Pen and the Surface Book & Dock where shipped “priority” (read as overnight) as a single consignment. So, I am working while waiting for the shipments to arrive. The door bell rings and I go to the door to find it was one of my son Rohan’s friends dropping in. Disappointed, I go back to my office. The door bell rings again and I go to the door to find it was one of my son Aaron’s friends dropping in. Grumpily, I go back to my office. Finally, the door bell rings again and Aaron shouts out that it is the courier. Yay, I think, my new toy computer has arrived. However, it was just the spare Surface Pen (one of the two packages in the shipment) and the second package was nowhere to be seen. Oh well, the pen looked nice.

After most of Friday, I contacted the courier company to see where the other package had got to as according to the online tracking site, it had not been scanned since it supposedly left Melbourne on Wednesday. They initiated a search to locate the missing package. I was concerned that it might have gone AWOL by nefarious means. I also contacted the Microsoft Store support and let them know that the package was currently missing. I was also worried that if the unit needed replacing, I would have to wait a while as I knew they were out of stock.

After a weekend with no news and wondering what was happening, I received an email on Monday 16th saying the package was scheduled for delivery that day. Great News. Late in the afternoon, the same courier guy delivers the package and says “So this is the package you were waiting for.”.


So, it was finally here and now started the process of configuring the machine with all the software and tools I needed. This process takes about two days and I will not go into too much detail, but will list a summary of the software and files installed.

  • Windows updates: Update to the Windows 10 Threshold 2 release
  • Office Pro Plus 2016
  • All my personal documents, media files and tools, including sync relationships with SyncToy
  • Windows tools such as Acrobat Reader, WinZip, WinAmp, Java, PerfectDisk, etc.
  • Microsoft Expression Suite
  • SQL Server 2012 & SP2 (I still need to support Dynamics GP 2010)
  • Dynamics GP 2010 & Dexterity to match
  • Dynamics GP 2013 & Dexterity to match
  • Dynamics GP 2013 R2 & Dexterity to match
  • Dynamics GP 2015 & Dexterity to match
  • Dynamics GP 2015 R2 & Dexterity to match
  • Visual Source Safe
  • Visual Studio Ultimate 2013 (I still need to support Dynamics GP 2010)
  • Visual Studio Tools for Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010
  • Visual Studio Tools for Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013
  • Visual Studio Tools for Microsoft Dynamics GP 2015
  • PoorMan’s T-SQL Formatter SSMS Addin
  • InstallAware
  • And lots more

During the set up of the machine, I experienced a known reported issue (many times) where the video driver would continuously reset and cause the machine to be unusable for a bit.  I did have the firmware update from 02-Nov-2015 installed, but the problem still continued. Not only did it make the machine unusable until it settled down, it changed the Windows Explorer windows to be really small.

Anyhow, by Wednesday morning, I finally had the machine fully configured and ready for use. On the morning of Thursday 19th Windows update installed another firmware update (18-Nov-2015) and the screen resetting issue is now fixed. My sons were happy now as it means that the previous machines shuffle down. Aaron now has my old Surface Pro 3 as his primary machine and Rohan has Aaron’s Surface Pro 2 as his portable device for university to compliment his gaming desktop.

Here is my final configuration: Surface Book with the screen reversed on a laptop stand, so that the keyboard is attached but does not take up much room on the table. Surface Pen magnetically attached to left of the Surface Book screen. The Surface Dock is connected to the external 27″ Dell monitor and Edifier Aurora speakers (under monitor, sitting on stand). The monitor has a USB 3.0 hub which connects to an external USB 3.0 WD My Passport drive and BluRay Combo Drive (below monitor on left). Rounding off the setup is Microsoft Designer Bluetooth Desktop and Plantronics Voyager Legend Bluetooth Headset.


Also in the picture, but a little difficult to see is the Microsoft Zune HD 64GB (below monitor on right) and the audio switch box (below monitor on left) which allows me to change audio signals sent to the speakers between 4 available sources (PC, Zune, HDMI out from monitor and DJ console – not in photo).

Final thoughts: I am really enjoying the Surface Book. It is faster than the Surface Pro 3 and has more storage. I don’t need to use a 128GB MicroSD card to store my media anymore. Having a full sized SD card slot and two USB 3.0 ports make connectivity easier. I have used the “clipboard” tablet by itself and it is incredibly thin and light. Adding the keyboard in reverse makes it heavier but works as a stand and gives much longer battery life. I have used it a little bit in laptop configuration and it has worked well. I was concerned about the screen resetting issue, but that has not recurred since the last firmware update so everything looks great.


PS: The Mini DisplayPort ports on the Surface Dock are very close together and close to the other ports. The Mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort adaptor barely fits between the audio cable and USB cable, in fact both cables are angled slightly and under pressure. I have ordered a different adaptor which has a short lead on it so will fit better.

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Filed under: Microsoft, News, Surface, Windows Tagged: News, Surface, Windows 10

Thoughts on the new Microsoft Surface Book

November 24, 2015 · WinthropDC · No Comments
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#GPUGSummit 2015 – Wrap Up

David Meego - Click for blog homepageGPUGSummit_Logo

That brings GPUG Summit 2015 to a close. The end of a great conference, a great trip and great first year for Winthrop Development Consultants.

As is usual for me I did not get to attend many sessions other than the ones I was presenting or involved in, but was able to meet with many people in the community.

Here are the presentation materials from the seven sessions I co-presented:

Below are the posts from this blog:

Here is a great article from fellow GPUG All Star, Steve Erbach:

Here a cool video from the Enterprise Software Podcast team:


Hope to see you next year in Tampa, Florida on the 11th to 14th October 2016 for GPUG Summit 2016.


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#GPUGSummit 2015 – Wrap Up

November 11, 2015 · WinthropDC · No Comments
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#GPUGSummit 2015 – Day 3

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Day 3 started again with breakfast in the Meal Hall at the Convention Center, and this time there was hardly anyone there. Looks like the partying at the bowling alley the night before was taking its toll.

The first commitment for the day was the Mekorma partner showcase breakout session. This session was presented by Craig Klapman, Mariano Gomez & myself and demonstrated products from both the Mekorma and Winthrop Development Consultants ranges.

The session included the official announcement that Mariano Gomez is now working for Mekorma. It was a very badly kept “secret” as he had already presented a number of sessions which said he worked for Mekorma on the slide decks and had been wearing Mekorma branded shirts.

Before the session got started Mariano and I pumped up the crowd to help bring in more attendees from the hallway. Thanks to the audience for being good sports and playing along.

PST04 – 50 Companies 50 Checkbooks One Button + Power Tools

The product showcase covered the upcoming addition to Mekorma’s Multi-Batch Payment Processing solution. The new product is Multi-Batch Payment Builder which will be able to automatically create multiple payment batches based on previously defined rules, including batches in multiple companies. Combined with the Multi-Batch Print and Post and Mekorma MICR products, this will provide a highly automated solution for handling the Accounts Payable requirements for businesses with one or more Dynamics GP companies.

In the middle of the showcase, I was able to demonstrate a few features from GP Power Tools which should help make the lives of administrators and users of Microsoft Dynamics GP easier. The session was very popular and the audience response to everything shown was very enthusiastic.

After the showcase, we all headed down to the general session GEN04: Ask the GPUG All-Stars in the convention center. Here are some photos from the session:

The session started with a welcome from Kim Peterson

Kim was joined by Rose Spitzer who announced the GPUG Chapter of the year and the GPUG Chapter Leader of the year

Kim then started discussing the GPUG All Stars and the qualities they should have

Here is a list of the previous GPUG All Stars. All of these guys are awesome people who do lots for the community. They also happen to be really nice people that I am proud to have as friends

So now Kim prepares to announce this year’s winners for which I am one of the nominees

As soon as she started talking about working for Microsoft and creating the Support Debugging Tool. I (along with everyone else) knew that I was the first one to be named.

Once Viola, Steve and I had been awarded GPUG All Stars we were kept on stage and joined by some of the existing GPUG All Stars for a Q & A session hosted by Andy Hafer

Kim Peterson with the GPUG All Stars for 2015: David Musgrave, Viola Shoell, and Steve Erbach

Lots of GPUG All Stars
Left to Right: Kim Peterson, Beat Bucher, David Musgrave, Mark Polino, Viola Shoell, Andy Hafer, Belinda Allen, Steve Erbach, Bob McAdam, John Lowther, Zubin Gudwani

Wow. Thank you so much to GPUG and everyone who voted for the GPUG All Stars. I am humbled to receive the award which adds me to an elite group of awesome people. I do what I do in the community because I love doing it. I love helping people with responding on forums and writing blogs. I love writing software that helps make peoples’ lives easier. To be recognised for my contributions with both a Microsoft MVP Award and a GPUG All Star award in my first year since leaving Microsoft is exciting, gratifying and humbling at the same time. It brings my first year to an amazing conclusion, see my post: Winthrop Development Consultants … One year on.

After the session Beat, Mariano and I headed to the Meal Hall for lunch. On the way we came across Tanya Henderson pretending to work on her computer.

Mariano Gomez and Beat Bucher trying to drag a very tired Tanya Henderson to lunch

After lunch we headed back to the Atlantis for the final breakout session that Mariano and I were presenting. This session was a demonstration of GP Power Tools (GPPT) and its Service Based Architecture functionality. GPPT exposes five Service Enabled Procedures which can be used to run custom user defined code stored under a Script ID. The Script ID is created using Dexterity sanScript in the Runtime Execute window and is automatically populated with template code that shows show to pass data into and out of the script.

Because the code is being developed using GP Power Tools, you can leverage and re-use Dexterity code in the context of any dictionary, Transact-SQL code in the context of any database, as well as .Net code written in C# and/or VB.Net. Once the code is saved it is immediately available without any need to restart any services. While it does require some code, you can now make any functionality you want available as a web service. The possibilities are endless, limited only by your imagination.

TOT09 – Using GP Power Tools to Write Custom Web Services for Microsoft Dynamics GP

After the session, I went back to the Mekorma Hub to relax and socialise with other attendees. I had some Australian Lollies/Candies/Sweets and chocolate still and so offered that around including the dreaded Vegemite and the chocolate with Vegemite salted caramel.

While I was at the Mekorma Hub I caught up with Daisy Eck. I had to get a photo of Daisy saying hello to my friend from Perth, Kate Sexstone. Kate had been staying up late in Perth and remotely attending GPUG Academy training sessions and so had been working closely with Daisy. So here is Daisy and I thinking about you, Kate. Hope you can get to a future GPUG Summit.

Daisy Eck and David Musgrave

I had planned to hang around the Bistro Napa and offer Tim Tam Slams to anyone who was game to try. However, I ended up being committed to dinner with the Mekorma team and had to leave. Sorry if anyone tried to find me and couldn’t.

The Mekorma team and I went to the Wild River Grill in downtown Reno and had a lovely meal. We went round the table and discussed what we got out of the conference and I must say that this meal with its conversation just confirmed that I made the right decision when I decided to link my company’s future with Mekorma by having them exclusively distribute and support my products. Thank you for including me in your team.

MekormaDinner1The Mekorma team (a great bunch of people) and Yours Truely.

Left to Right: Mike McDowell, Jay Manley, Angel Blum, Steve Linz, Ora Goldman, Craig Klapman, Mariano Gomez and David Musgrave

After dinner we returned to the Atlantis and found that some of our friends were still hanging around the Bistro Napa (even though it was closing). So I spent the final part of the evening chatting with Leslie Vail, Shiela Jefferson-Ross, Mark Polino, Frank Heslin. I also handed out my last packets of Tim Tams and Chicos.

Finally, Leslie and Sheila dropped me back to the Peppermill and the conference was over. I was happy that the conference was over and that it had been a great success, but I was also sad as it will now be another year (11 months or so) before I get to see my Conference Buddies again.


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#GPUGSummit 2015 – Day 3

November 6, 2015 · WinthropDC · No Comments
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#GPUGSummit 2015 – Day 2

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Day 2 of the GPUG Summit was here and food hall was a little emptier at breakfast time.

The day started with Mariano and I sitting in on Steve Gray’s session: ITP04: Developers: An Inside View of Service Based Architecture. Steve from 4Penny is the driving force behind the DynDeveloper website that is a great resource for developers, especially those using Visual Studio Tools for Microsoft Dynamics GP. His session was a perfect fit with the Service Based Architecture sessions that Mariano and I were presenting as it showed how to integrate with the Web Services from a Visual Studio application.

During his session Steve credited me for developing Menus for Visual Studio Tools (now Visual Studio Integration Toolkit), even if I did do it during his 3 day training class (sorry if I was disruptive all those years ago). So now it is my turn to give some credit back. It was during Steve’s Developer Toolkit class in May 2008 (after the Microsoft Dynamics GP Technical Airlift 2008 in Fargo) that I saw Steve using a blog for technical articles and not just a digital diary. I had always said that no-one would be interested in what I ate for breakfast or how often I go to the bathroom and so had resisted the idea of a blog. After seeing Steve’s approach, my eyes were opened to the possibilities and I went home with plans to start blogging. The result was the still popular MSDN Developing for Dynamics GP blog which I started in July 2008 and continued with until I left Microsoft in October 2014. So, thank you Steve for changing my mind about blogs and starting a new era of my career as a blogger.

PS: I also met Steve’s wife, Penny. And finally clicked on Steve’s business name… It’s all 4Penny!! I have known Steve for over seven years and only just worked it out. Doh!

After Steve’s session Mariano and I headed back to the Mekorma Hub. We spent time working on finalising the preparation for the Mekorma presentation which Craig, Mariano and I would be presenting the next day.

We also spent time working on one of the demonstrations for the Service Based Architecture session that Mariano and I were presenting in the afternoon. We were concentrating so much on our work that we ended up missing lunch all together.

Then it was time for our next breakout session. This was a repeat of the well received Tips and Tricks session that Mariano and I presented last month at reIMAGINE 2015. While the session went well, the target audience was quite different which meant that the tips and tricks presented were not as relevant. At reIMAGINE, most of the audience were Dexterity developing partners with a few Visual Studio developers, which was great as the majority of the tips were focussed on Dexterity development.

At GPUG Summit, the ratio was reversed with only a couple of Dexterity developers and the majority being Visual Studio developers. While many Dexterity tips have some relevance in the Visual Studio world, there were some tips that were Dexterity only. Mariano and I tried to highlight here the Dexterity tips were still valid, but in future we might have to redesign the session or mention the language ratio in the session description. Hopefully, the attendees enjoyed it and got something out of it anyway. At this session Mariano and I reiterated how useful having Dexterity knowledge is for any developer integrating with Dynamics GP, even those who only work with Visual Studio Tools.

ITP06 – 25 Development Tricks and Hacks in 50 minutes

We then went straight into our next breakout session. This session continued the Service Based Architecture series with a look at the architecture changes for Microsoft Dynamics GP 2015 including Service Enabled Procedures and .Net Interop. We covered how to create web services as Service Enabled Global Procedures using both window wrapped and decoupled techniques.

ITP07 – Developing Service Applications with Dexterity A No Nonsense Step-by-Step Guide

After the sessions, Mariano and I spent some time working on the demonstrations for tomorrow’s GP Power Tools Web Service session. The code was not working 100% and needed some tweaking to get it working. Eventually, we needed to take a break and were invited to join the Industrial Staffing Services team for dinner.

Dinner at Bistro Napa with Mariano and Jourdan Block and the Industrial Staffing Services team and Steve Endow (Precipio Services), Andrew Dean (Envisage Software) and Craig Klapman (Mekorma)

For dinner, Mariano and I both had a lovely Filet steak which was accompanied by an unusual vegetable that I have never heard of before. It is like a cross between broccoli and cauliflower, the Romanesco broccoli.

After dinner Mariano and I continued working on solving the technical issues and were eventually able to get everything working perfectly. Thanks to Beat who stayed with us and provided moral support.

Beat and I took a quick taxi ride back to the Peppermill. Instead going straight to sleep, I spent a “little bit” of time fine tuning the code and documentation based on the changes Mariano and I had made. The end result was that by the time I actually got to sleep, it was only three and a half hours before I had to get up again for the final day.


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#GPUGSummit 2015 – Day 2

November 5, 2015 · WinthropDC · No Comments
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#GPUGSummit – Getting There – Part 1 of 2

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Road Trip!

Yes, it was time to leave Arcata and head across the mountains to Reno in Nevada. While it would have been possible to make the trip in one day, we decided to take two days for a more relaxing drive and so we could see some of the sights on the way.

After breakfast, Craig picked me up from the Wild Horses house in his pickup and the journey began.

Below is a map of the first day’s route:


I knew that we would be travelling through the mountains and expected some windy narrow roads with huge drop offs. What I did not expect was that Craig would drive is pickup truck like it was my BMW 125i coupe. My car hugs the road and does not roll when taking corners and would have been amazing to take on a drive like this. All I will say is Craig’s pickup does not handle corners like my car…. :-) The fact that I am writing this article (and that I did make it to Reno) belies the fact that Craig did try to scare me to death.

RoadTrip0 RoadTrip11
Craig’s pickup and David’s car (for comparison)

Now that the terror has subsided, I can say that the trip was through some amazingly beautiful wilderness and national parks.

The road followed the course of the gorge that the river flowed through

Scary narrow windy roads with cliffs on both sides and missing barriers….

More views of the road following the course of the river

We stopped for lunch at a small historic gold rush town called Weaverville. Our timing was perfect as just as we were sitting down to eat, the town’s Homecoming Parade started. This was my first experience of this purely American tradition and it was fun to see the community gather to celebrate another year.

Homecoming Parade at Wearville, California

The town is also the location of the Weaverville Joss House (also called “The Temple of the Forest Beneath the Clouds”), a Taoist temple, was built in 1874 and is California’s best preserved example of a Gold Rush-era Chinese place of worship.

The Joss House in Weaverville

The interior of the Joss House in Weaverville

After visiting the Joss House and some of the other historical buildings in town, we continued our journey with even more scary roads.

Not a straight section of road anywhere to be seen

There was a section of the road on the 299 (Eureka Way) between Weaverville and the Whiskeytown lake that was ridiculous in the number of tight turns.

Section of road where Craig had the tires squealing to make the corners

The road straightened up as we passed by Whiskeytown Lake, so we stopped to grab a drink, a view and for my heart to slow down. :)

View looking back at the Whiskeytown Lake

Once we passed through Redding the roads became larger and straighter but not as scenic. We did find a small bridge over Craig Creek and so had to stop and take a photo of Craig in “model mode” again.

RoadTrip8Craig modelling the latest in black finery

The destination for the first day was still in California at the city of Chico. We stopped at the Mariott hotels just off the highway. Craig had managed to get one room in each hotel for us to spend the night.

Mariott Courtyard and Mariott Residence Inn, Chico, California

The day finished with dinner in downtown Chico at Smokin’ Moe’s Bar-B-Que which was recommended to us when we asked at the hotel for a place that did good ribs. They were right, the ribs were really good, that would explain the large number of awards they had on the walls.

RoadTrip10Smokin’ Moe’s Bar-B-Que

Day two of the road trip to Reno, Nevada, next….


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#GPUGSummit – Getting There – Part 1 of 2

October 29, 2015 · WinthropDC · No Comments
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A week in Northern California – Part 2 of 2

David Meego - Click for blog homepageHere is the second part of my time in Arcata, northern California.

This article will cover Thursday, a very busy last day before Craig and I started our road trip to Reno for GPUG Summit 2015 on the Friday.

So, this was the day that Craig had been planning for a while, to take me to see the giant Redwood trees (115m, 379ft) that cover parts of northern California.

We started with breakfast of savoury pancakes in Arcata before heading north on the Redwood Highway towards the Redwood National and State Parks near the small town of Orick.

On the road to Redwood National and State Parks

On the way, Craig decided to pick up a young couple (Cidney and Chianti) and their dog (Mama) who were hitchhiking north to Brookings. They were looking for work in Humboldt County but were a little early for the marijuana harvest, and so were travelling to visit some family first.

Cidney and Chianti with Mama in the back
(I promised to make them famous on my blog)

Originally, the plan was to drop them off at Orick before we went to see the redwoods. However, Cidney and Chianti ended up joining us on the The Lady Bird Johnson Grove Nature Trail (click link for map).

The trail was an easy walk (2.2km, 1.4m) over fairly level gound. Here are some photos from the walk.

David thinking about climbing a tree… NOT

All of us inside a burnt out but still alive tree

Redwoods1Even fallen trees (cut to allow the path to continue) were huge

Redwood trees at Lady Bird Johnson Grove near Orick, California (direct link)


The dedication plaque for Lady Bird Johnson Grove

Redwoods2Craig gives us a sense of scale with this huge tree trunk

Dwarfed by Redwood trees at Lady Bird Johnson Grove near Orick, California (direct link)


The forrest was also full of life with a large variety of flora and fauna (click for larger images).

Redwoods6 Redwoods7

The experience was fantastic, you feel absolutely dwarfed by these gentle giants. A very similar experience to walking amongst the tall Karri, (80m, 260ft) Marri (50m, 160ft) and Jarrah (40m, 130ft) trees in the South West corner of Western Australia. If you have not walked in a tall timber forrest, you must add this to your bucket list.

After the walk trail we dropped Cidney, Chianti and Mama off in Orick and then headed south back to Arcata. On the way, Craig suddenly stopped the car without any warning or saying anything. I was confused until I looked up and spotted a couple of large “deer” on the roadside ahead.

We were in Elk country and a couple had decided to cross the highway to feed on the narrow strip between the road and the water of the bay.

Elk on Redwood Highway

Elk on the Redwood Highway south of Orick, California (direct link)


On the way home, Craig took me to see the Samoa Cookhouse. This is the last surviving cookhouse in the west. It still serves food “lumber camp style” as it has since 1890. It also serves as a museum to the history of logging in the region.

We did not stay for food, instead we ate at a restaurant on Woodley Island in Humboldt Bay, looking across the water to the town of Eureka. Dinner finished off a fantastic day before we headed home to Arcata.

Hopeful seagulls and seals hanging around a fishing boat

Thanks Craig for a great week in Arcata and for ensuring that I got the full Humboldt County experience.

Tomorrow we start on our journey to Reno, Nevada for the GPUG Summit 2015 conference.


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A week in Northern California – Part 2 of 2

October 29, 2015 · WinthropDC · No Comments
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Friday Funny: Surface Tablet PC

David Meego - Click for blog homepageWith the recent launch of the fourth generation of the Microsoft Surface Pro tablet PC, I thought would be fun to remember back to early days of tablet computing.

These fun images are just a reminder that Microsoft has always been the visionary company when it comes to tablets.

I will let the following speak for itself.


The comic strip was created in 2012 and predicted that Apple would copy the Surface Pro design in 2015…. and guess what happened….

This final one just highlights the IPad’s lack of a simple USB port.




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Friday Funny: Surface Tablet PC

October 23, 2015 · WinthropDC · No Comments
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