MacBook Pro 13 w/Touch Bar: First Impressions

Noticeable things coming from using a MacBook Air 11:

  • Keep hitting the ESC key, as that’s where my pinky would normally sit.
  • I need to get used to the MUCH larger trackpad.  Definitely had to change typing position of my wrists.
  • Add getting used to Force Touch to the list.  Still trying to get used to moving things around without engaging Force Touch.
  • Add getting used to Force Touch to the list.  Still trying to get used to moving things around without engaging Force Touch.
  • Bigger screen makes a LOT of difference with seeing things a lot more clearly!
  • It’s taking me a bit more time to deal with the ‘butterfly’ keyboard than the standard MBA/silver MBP keyboard.
    • Definitely something that needs time to get used to, especially the reach between the palm rest and keys and the key travel times.
      • One month later: still getting used to it.  I don’t think it’s as easy for touch typists, in my opinion.  But I am getting used to it.  Hopefully I’ll be ready by ASUG Annual Conference/Sapphire 2017.  I am definitely going to need to be on my ‘A’ game, typing-wise.

New things with the MacBook Pro that are leaving an impression:

  • All USB-C  ports requires dongles… and it’s just as annoying as you would think.
    • One month in and I have had to buy:
      • USB-C Cable ($10)
      • USB-C to USB 3.0 Adapters (3) ($30)
      • USB-C to Micro USB Adapter (2) ($7)
      • USB-C to HDMI Adapter ($15)
      • USB-C to VGA Adapter ($15)
    • Luckily I already had a USB-C  hub, so that’s money staying in my pocket. But I need to have it to use my CAT-5 network adapter or pay $20 for a USB-C version.
  • The 8 GB RAM/256 GB SSD is very snappy coming from 4 GB/128 GB SSD in the MBA 11.
  • Retina screen is definitely a nice upgrade from the MBA 11!
    • Still need to figure out the resolution vs text size settings to find the most comfortable viewing size.
    • I keep swapping back from full-size to zoomed-in since I’m trying trying to balance resolution and app sizes with comfortable text sizing.  Although to be fair, this only really seems to be an issue when I’m tired.  Maybe I’m just getting old!!

Touch Bar Impressions:

  • Where there is app support, it’s a ‘nice to have’.  Microsoft Office has really jumped out in front, especially Outlook.  OneNote is a bit lacking in Touch Bar support, though.
  • Still playing with the default setup.  I like the application specific icons (when available), but wish I could have a few more options in the ‘default’ expandable bar.
  • I really wish that instead of the Touch Bar, Apple would’ve gone with a Touch Screen.  I’ve used the one on the Dell XPS 13 and really appreciated the touch screen for my workflow, as opposed to the Touch Bar.

Portability Notes:

  • I really got used to the super-light MBA 11, but the MBP is only slightly taller and thicker than the MBA 11 when closed.  At the end of the day, I don’t mind the slightly heftier MBP 13 (3.48 lbs vs 2.38 lbs on the MNBA 11) to gain the screen real estate.
  • ASUG Annual Conference/Sapphire is on the docket for May and will look to see how it compares to the MBA 11 in a real-world, ‘carry it around all day’ scenario.

Price thoughts:

  • I am still trying to decide on the cost-benefit ratio, to be honest. If I wasn’t already big into the Apple ecosystem, I was strongly considering the Dell XPS 13.  Comparing  Apple Refurb to Dell Outlet prices, the XPS 13 was a much better deal.
  • If you’re locked into a particular ecosystem, that’s one thing.  But if you’re a free agent and self-sufficient in not downloading random stuff or clicking squishy links in your email; Windows 10 and the Dell XPS 13 may have a better cost/benefit ratio for web-surfing and office documents.  You’ll need to weigh your personal preferences in applications and workflow versus cost and specifications.

Final conclusion to be submitted after May’s conference travels.

Thoughts and ideas on HANA…definitely not at HANA speed.

(Opening Note: I do not profess to be a HANA or 'big data' expert. I'm primarily an Analytics architect in a relational world. But I'm a geek and HANA intrigues me.) That curiosity has definitely been piqued in over the last month, starting with the launch of HANA Enterprise Cloud right before Sapphire/ASUG Annual Conference. And of course, the subsequent references during and after the conference.

The overall picture has begun to become a bit clearer through the murky waters. I've been using these blogs as my primers:

 

Since I do not profess myself a HANA guru, I have NO intention of writing anything to the level of the above. But from the outside looking in, what does all of this movement seem to say? SAP is pushing forward with it's 'all in' HANA strategy, correct? Given the technical effort, marketing push and recent news- that's pretty obvious.

On that note, I've heard some interesting discussions regarding the latest HANA Enterprise Cloud and HANA Cloud Platform announcements. Some SI's/partners/consultants think that SAP might be moving into some of their key spaces. Others think SAP is taking a logical step by offering these services and challenging partners to step up their game, while reaping the benefit of solidifying the HANA market with a level of expertise that currently SAP (and a few select partners) can currently offer. Personally, I think that only time and actual customer purchasing will really tell. Once HANA becomes a commodity, does SAP bow out of the cloud hosting model? These are probably questions that don't have clear answers now, only in the future. But it doesn't make them any less fun to discuss.

Turning to my home turf, what about Analytics? There has been a lot of discussion back and forth about the future of the semantic layer. Today, each semantic layer has a necessary use case/requirement. But what about in the future? Does HANA survive 'the Game' and take 'the Prize'? There can be only one.

Can (or even should) SAP really position HANA as the one 'semantic layer to rule them all'? Companies who can't/won't buy HANA as a database may be open to purchasing HANA as a 'BI Accelerator'. At this point- is HANA any different than installing the 'accelerator' server for other vendor's Analytics tools? Can I can model my data views in HANA and since all the SAP BI tools connect to HANA natively, HANA BI Accelerator Edition is the semantic layer? In the perfect world of my brain- this works. Of course, the reality is starkly different. Licensing, fees, server installs and configurations, designer tools…the list could go on and on.

Think about the possibilities. One semantic layer: a common business layer that brings a single vision of your data. (Yes, yes- I am sure that some may call this data federation. But in some enterprises, that is a 'dirty term' and not easily implemented.) Perhaps that's too Utopian of a vision. Disparate systems, databases, security requirements- that is the reality in most enterprises. What if I could model my HANA layer to connect to my big relational warehouse and a smaller departmental database; bring the data back into HANA and make it available for my Analytics tools. Once my query is done, the dataset is blown away- no persistence. This makes HANA an Analytics 'Appliance' or 'Accelerator' and not an 'in-memory' database. Are there use cases for this kind of implementation?

Perhaps another option is to break out the database from the application engine and use the engine only as your new semantic layer? Instead of connecting to a UNV/UNX/etc, you connect to a 'model' that lives in HANA. No data is brought back, HANA acts as the semantic layer to your data. SAP or agnostic datasources? Doesn't matter. BI developers now have one tool to connect and model. Use cases for this particular implementation may be easier to come by, but is it actually doable?

Did you notice a lot of questions above? Me too- that's why I wrote this blog. I think that there are still untapped markets and possibilities regarding HANA. Does SAP continue to drive the market to a place it thinks and hope that when it gets there, the price and time to production are commiserate with the public perception (and reality)? Or can SAP let the marketplace drive where to go next?

 

First Impressions: BlackBerry 9930

After recent (and frequent) fights  with my BlackBerry Tour 9630 (I am a Verizon subscriber), I started considering that it might be time to get a new phone.  I have been a BlackBerry fan since the days of the 8700 and will freely admit an addiction to BlackBerry Messenger for quick chats with my wife, Staci.  But recently, I have been experiencing slow performance, hourglasses and just HORRIBLE lag from my current 9630.  Mainly, my frustrations pretty much had me cursing at the phone and ready to throw it out the window.  Staci decided that she had enough of hearing me complain and told me just to go out and get a new phone.  For those that might know my wife- this is a big deal!

I have been due for an upgrade since my failed experiment with a Droid X last year.  I liked the Droid, but after months of horrible battery life and the fact that I just could NOT get used to using a touch screen for emails and texts.  After I couldn’t be reached for tragic family news because of the Droid’s dead battery (~6 hours of use), I switched back to the 9630.  Knowing that an iPhone isn’t in the cards (see ‘touch screen vs. my thumbs’), I was drawn to the new 9930.  I’ve been asking for RIM to release this model forever.  A gorgeous touch screen with that BlackBerry keyboard.  So, what do I think so far…

Keyboard: What can you say?  It’s a BlackBerry.  A great keyboard and actually larger than the one on my 9630.  To be honest, the larger keyboard is taking a bit to get used to- but that’s a GOOD thing!

Screen:  Best screen I’ve seen on a BlackBerry to date.  Bright and crisp. Feels like ‘Gorilla Glass’, but RIM calls it ‘Hardened Glass’.  Whatever it is, it feels like the glass on my iPad.  I’m still going to put a screen protector on it, since I’m kinda geeky like that!

Touchscreen: Listen, it’s a BlackBerry- not an iPad or iPhone.  I knew that I wasn’t going to get the most responsive touchscreen ever. But the fact that I can scroll up and down, select and click around without using the trackpad is GREAT!

The question I’ve been getting hasn’t been why the 9930?  That’s because those who know me, know the reasons why I’m sticking with a BlackBerry.  The questions have been about the ‘apps’.   I don’t need a whole lot of apps on my phone…I pretty much use it for Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, TripIt, BlackBerry Travel, BerryWeather and Google Maps. The one thing that I miss about my Droid X is the Google Navigation.  I can use VZ Navigator in a pinch, but Android’s free Google Navigation is great.

Why don’t I want more apps? Because I have an iPad (and an iPod Touch and a whole bunch of other gadgets).  If I want to Skype, FaceTime, play Angry Birds or Fruit Ninja- I’m good.  That’s why I’m perfectly happy with my BlackBerry- because it does what I need it to do and does it well.  It needs to first  and foremost: be a phone, then BBM with Staci and handle basic apps.  For everything else that needs  ‘apps’, I’ve got a better device along for the ride.  This setup works great for me!