Windows and Office – Not Dead Yet

The last 2 companies I’ve started have been pure cloud — no infrastructure, no Windows in the server stack or client requirements. I had thought the days of using Office and Windows were over for me.

Then I got hooked up with some guys using Office 365 to get launched and it works really well. Similar to my fat client post before, I’m surprised at how easy it is to go back to “rich” tools like PowerPoint and OneNote. I’ve got my Windows VM running in Parallels and when I switch to Full Screen, it’s like I never left.

Final thought is the Surface machines look really cool. If they go on sale, I’m picking one up!

To the Cloud and Back

I made the transition to Google Apps and browser based email/calendar about 2 years ago.  It was pretty difficult to ween myself off of Microsoft Outlook and Exchange which I’d been using for 10+ years.  In general I was happy with GMail and, in many ways, I think the Google Calendar user experience is BETTER than any fat client solution I’ve seen.

I even went to the trouble of consolidating several GMail and Google Apps accounts using forwarding and aliases.  It all was working pretty well.  Until I hit the 4th email account where I needed to keep things separated. I was spending all my time switching from one browser window to the next checking multiple inboxes the hard way.

Then it happened.  I’ve moved back to a fat email client to manage all these accounts.  Apple Mail, the free client included in $29 OS X, is fantastic. It manages multiple accounts gracefully and the default configuration works great with Google Apps.  Don’t try to outsmart it.  Just take the defaults and be happy.

One subtle trick is knowing that you can use multiple email addresses in a single account in Mac Mail by separating them with commas.  That was the final piece to make it all work perfectly for me.  Note that you need to setup these secondary aliases in Gmail as well.  Read here for more details.

Bluetooth Can Work

I’ve hated wires for a long time.  So when Bluetooth came along, I tried everything that came with a Bluetooth radio.  Perhaps my favorite Bluetooth success story is Jabra Halo2 headphones…with a few caveats (one easily overcome).


  • Bluetooth actually works
  • Sound great
  • Foldable, small, and surprisingly durable
  • Comes with cable to use a regular 1/8″ phono jack when you need it
  • Comfortable for running and skiing with no cable!


  • Microphone not usable for calls in an environment with any noise (i.e. walking in an airport)
  • Works best when paired to only 1 device using the “special” protocol

What’s this about a “special” protocol?  I don’t have all the details, but when I tried the default pairing I got frequent drop-outs.  Almost seemed as though the headphones wouldn’t stay associated well.

However, if you start the pairing process and KEEP HOLDING THE BUTTON DOWN until both the Bluetooth and Red Battery light stay on solid, then your headset will be paired to only the new device and use a reliable connection to an iPhone 4S.  My experience spans an iPhone 4 and 4S and 2 sets of Halo2 headphones. Maybe the default pairing mode works fine with other phones.

The Tools are Good

It’s been awhile since I used a web CMS.  Launching a personal website using a “builder” tool used to be a sign of weakness.  Now with WordPress and all the killer plug-ins, you’d be crazy to hand-stitch a site.

If you’re building interactive web apps, not just marketing sites, you’ll need more than WordPress.  I’ve gotten into Google App Engine, Cloud SQL, and Django as tools of choice.  The GAE stack has been solid the last 12 months building and launching

GAE isn’t the cheapest, but the value is just right — big time stability and scalability, real developer productivity, and no system engineering required.  All for just a small premium over roll-your-own hosting like AWS.