Microsoft Band 2 vs Fitbit Surge

Microsoft Band 2
Microsoft Band 2

Last year I was debating between the Microsoft Band or the upcoming Fitbit Surge.  After trying on the band at the Microsoft Store, I was not happy with how it felt on my wrist so I decided to go with the Surge.  I’ve been using a Fitbit Surge everyday for most of the past year.  For a fitness tracker with GPS, the Surge has been fantastic but I wanted some smartwatch features as well.

Fitbit Surge
Fitbit Surge

After trying on the new Microsoft Band 2 at the Microsoft Store, I decided to get that one to replace my Surge.  Here are my current thoughts on the Band 2 compared to the Surge.

Phone Compatibility

The Band 2 works with Android, iOS and Windows Phone but the Cortana (voice) integration isn’t available on Android and iOS,only on the Windows Phone and the onscreen keyboard isn’t available on iOS.

View Time and steps (secondary display item is configurable)

I have been using it with my Lumia 950 Windows Phone (see post here).  The Fitbit Surge also works on Android, iOS and Windows Phone but some things didn’t work on the Windows Phone like phone/text notifications and music controls.  I used my Surge mainly on a Windows Phone but my wife has been using it on her iPhone recently.

 

Same features as Fitbit Surge

Heart rate monitor

 

  • Displays the time and date
  • Tracks steps, calories burned, distance, floors, heartrate
  • GPS tracks runs
  • Tracks other workouts with heartrate like the elliptical
  • Alarms, timer, stopwatch

Pros over Fitbit Surge

  • More notifications
    See full text messages, email partials, and my upcoming calendar
    • Phone (Improvement for Windows Phone only)
    • Text (Improvement for Windows Phone only)
    • Email
    • Facebook
    • Facebook Messenger
    • Calendar Reminders
  • Control music (Improvement for Windows Phone only)
  • Reply to texts and phone calls
    • Up to 4 quick responses (with automatic detection of a question and showing yes and no as additional quick responses)

      The small keyboard used to reply to texts works surprisingly well
      The small keyboard used to reply to texts works surprisingly well
    • Small keyboard to reply to text messages, which works surprisingly well (Windows Phone and Android only)
    • Cortana voice dictation to reply to text messages (Windows phone only)
  • See weather, news, and calendar
  • Use Cortana to initiate reminders, texts, calls, etc. (Windows phone only)
    • I can even ask questions like “How old is j-lo” and the answer shows up on the band screen.

      Cortana - "How old is J Lo?"
      Cortana – “How old is J Lo?”
  • See last exercise and sleep
    • On the fitbit this was only available to view using the app or the website, not on the watch itself
  • Sleep cycle alarm to wake you up, up to 30 mins before scheduled alarm
  • Prettier design and user interface
    sleep
    A lot better sleep stats compared to Fitbit
    • Lots of people have mentioned that the Band 2 is a MUCH prettier watch than the fitbit surge.
    • The fitbit surge is large and looks big on my wife where the band 2 would look fine on a male or a female
    • The fitbit surge had a basic black and white interface whereas the band 2 is colorful and dynamic.
  • Less bulky
    • Fitbit would get caught when tucking in my shirt, taking off my jacket, or putting on my backpack
  • Auto detected sleep mode or manual
    • Manual is nice because it also turns off watch mode and notifications other than the watch alarms.
    • Tracks how long it takes to go sleep.
  • Watch mode
    • Off
    • Always on
    • Rotate
  • Lots more settings right on the watch, the fitbit had very few settings on the watch itself and was mostly configured using the app or website.
    • Vibrate
    • Dim

      Turning my wrist over turns on the low power watch mode for a few seconds
  • Tile and color settings using phone
    • I can even create my own background pictures or download some to the device using additional apps
  • More info can be seen while during an activity
    • The fitbit displayed a few pieces of data but that data wasn’t customizable.  Any additional data I had to swipe through at the bottom of the screen.
    • The band 2 allows me to configure what data I see on the main screen while during an activity and then it provides a single swipe right to see the rest of the data which I configured to be shown.
  • More analytics on the website and app
    More exercise stats compared to Fitbit
    More exercise stats compared to Fitbit
    • Vo2 max
    • Max and mins (heart rate, elevation, etc)
    • Recovery time
  • UV sensor tells me how long I was exposed to sunlight
    • Considering it’s currently winter, I haven’t had a chance to use this a lot yet.

Cons/current issues

  • Health app
    • No weight tracking – Now available in February Update
    • No food tracking
      • The fitibit app is fantastic at tracking food
      • I used this functionality for a little bit with my fitbit to get an idea but it wasn’t something I did all the time.
    • Not Universal Windows Platform and supporting continuum like the Fitbit app (WTH MS, can’t even utilize your own tech?)
  • Weird how different types of activities are grouped together
  • Best feel is wearing on bottom of wrist which feels kind of weird at first but I’ve gotten used to it.
  • The clasp took a little bit to get used to but it seems pretty solid
  • Battery life
    • Fitbit is 5 days
      • I would put it on the charger while taking a shower, giving the kids a bath, and while at the climbing gym

        View from the top of my wrist shows the clasp with integrated battery and the UV sensor.
      • On climbing trips typically I would charge while driving to the location and that was usually enough to last the whole trip
    • Band 2 is 24-48 hours
      • I’ve been charging mine nightly when I am sitting down to watch TV (it’s usually around 50% when I start charging)
      • Unsure how this is going to work when i am on climbing trips.  I might have to forgo sleep tracking just to maintain a charge.

Conclusion

I’ve really enjoyed the Band 2.  It’s been really handy when playing with my kids. I can put my phone down near by and glace at my watch when receiving texts from my wife or seeing emails come through.  It beats trying to dig my phone out of my pocket only to see the text was from Chick-fil-a telling me about some deal they are running. I’ve also really enjoyed being able to text my wife or reply to texts from my wrist while playing with the kids or during other activities where my phone isn’t easily accessible. I wish the app was better and the battery life was a lot better but compared to the advantages, I can get over those things pretty quickly.

What I like and dislike about Windows 10 Phone

IMG_0062
Lumia 950 – 5.2″ Quad HD (AMOLED, 2560 x 1440), 6-core 1.8 Ghz proc, 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB storage with up to 200 GB expandable with microSD, Dual SIM, 20 MP Camera

So if you are new to Windows Phone, you can refer to my post here on why I like Windows Phone better than iOS.  I recently have been playing around with Windows 10 Mobile on a Lumia 640 and a Lumia 950.  This post is mainly my running list of what has improved in Windows 10 Mobile over Windows Phone 8.1 and listing what current cons and issues I have.

Pros over Windows Phone 8.1

  • Hey Cortana with learn my voice or use any voice
    • Hey Cortana was only on select Windows Phone 8.1 devices
    • Learn my voice is new in Windows 10 Phone
  • Continuum (See video demonstration here)
    • Connect to a TV or monitor as a second larger screen to do work on

      Windows Hello - Iris Recognition
      Windows Hello – Iris Recognition
    • Use phone as mouse and keyboard or connect usb/bluetooth devices
  • Mouse support
  • Windows Hello (Only on some devices)
    • Iris recognition instead of typing a pin number
  • Outlook for email
    • Attach any files on device to emails
    • Attach from onedrive
  • Better organized settings
  • Keyboard joystick
    • Dot near z and x to easily move the cursor around
  • Notification text and facebook inline reply
  • Voice dictation built into keyboard
  • Don’t forget when powering off
    • Displays a reminder of your next appointment when you power off the device

      Notification inline reply, keyboard joystick, voice dictation easily accessible on keyboard
      Notification inline reply, keyboard joystick, voice dictation easily accessible on keyboard
  • Call Recording
  • Fast USB-C charging (only on some devices)
    • 50% in 30 mins

Cons/Current issues

  • NTLM passwords aren’t saved in Edge
  • Can’t connect to NTLM auth OneNote
  • Excel, PowerPoint and Word can’t connect to on-prem NTLM SharePoint
  • Airwatch blocks SD card – Confirmed bug with airwatch
  • Airwatch doesn’t install cert chain – Maybe fixed with a newer build
  • Cannot open EML attachment in email – Fixed in Outlook Mail 17.6868.41032.0
  • Continuum
  • Option to only try Windows Hello when unlock is needed
    • Right now Hello will get locked out from too many attempts because of notifications (email, text, etc)
  • Facebook app needs additional features and bug fixes
    • Live tile not working – Better in 10.2.1.0
    • Pinned pages don’t show notifications on live tile
    • Some types of content don’t display correctly
      Windows Hello tries too much and ends up locking itself out
      Windows Hello tries too much and ends up locking itself out
      • Memories
      • Birthday rollups
  • Battery life
    • Better after installing 10586.63
  • Dual Sim
    • No Visual voicemail on dual sim devices – Fixed in 14267.1004
    • Should be a way to hide 2nd sim when not used in dual sim
    • No vibrate on answer on dual sim devices – Fixed in 14283
  • OneDrive doesn’t connect to on-prem SharePoint
  • Live lock screen app from 8.1 isn’t available
  • Edge does not change to desktop user agent when used on continuum
    • Whatever screen the tab is opened in is the user agent that will be used
  • Random reboots (a lot less after 10586.63)
    • Seemed to happen a lot more at my office.  The following things are potentially different at my office vs at home.
      • Bluetooth devices
      • AT&T Microcell – Often after it reboots it says that my carrier has changed my SIM settings and I need to restart again.
      • Wireless charging
    • Kids corner (Fixed since 10586.71)
      • Since 10586.63, I’ve tried going to kids corner several times from the lock screen and the phone will freeze and eventually reboot.  I have since figured out if I don’t try to hold it up to my face and let windows hello to attempt to sign me in, then I can go into kids corner successfully.  It seems to be the combination of windows hello attempting to read my iris’s while I’m going to kids corner which locks it up.

Why I like Windows Phone better than iOS

Customizable live tiles showing unread counts and information
Customizable live tiles showing unread counts and information

The goal in the post is for me to document my running list of why I like Windows Phone better than iOS (iPhone/iPad).

  • Customizable home screen with three different tile sizes.  This enables users that have a hard time seeing small text or hitting small buttons can make them bigger.
  • Live tiles show more information when not using the small size which shows alerts directly on the home screen whereas iOS only shows the number of notifications.
  • Swipe right enables viewing all installed apps with search and jump by alpha.  Unlike iOS where every app installed has to be in a home page somewhere
  • Can have a combined tile for all email, separate tile for each email address or link several mailboxes together such as Gmail and Hotmail can be linked together as a personal inbox and keep work inbox separate

    Swiping right shows all apps with easy to find by alpha or using search
    Swiping right shows all apps with easy to find by alpha or using search
  • Can combine tiles into a tile folder
  • Driving mode
    • Reads texts to you over bluetooth
    • Can dictate responses over bluetooth
    • Does not popup or sound notifications for anything except phone and text
      • Can also turn off phone and/or text as well
  • Kids corner
    • Swipe right to show a start screen that you configured just for your kids and the apps they are allowed to use
    • Need PIN to get back into normal phone mode.
    • No longer can your child send your boss an email by accident.
  • Gadgets app
    • Run apps when accessories connect
    • Find accessory by seeing on a map where you last disconnected the accessory
  • Near Field Communication (NFC) can be used for more things than just payments like in iOS

    The Glance Screen is like a low powered notification screen.
    The Glance Screen is like a low powered notification screen.
  • Wireless charging in some models
  • Standard USB charging cable (micro or newer type c)
  • Full desktop class browser which can switch from mobile user agent to desktop one
  • Social integration with contacts so when you get a new friend in Facebook or twitter they can show up as a contact
  • Glance screen
    • Low powered screen that shows the time, date, next appointment and notification count.
  • Expand storage with SD cards
  • Battery Saver
    Wi-Fi can automatically turn back on
    Wi-Fi can automatically turn back on
    • Turns off checking for email and other background tasks to help save battery
    • Can automatically turn on at 20% battery
  • Configure apps from within the app instead of needing to leave and go to settings
  • When turning off WiFi, option to turn back on based on a time frame or when at a favorite place such as home
  • Cortana – Personal Digital Assistant with voice recognition
    • Quiet Hours
      • Inner circle can break through
    • Collection of news and other information that is important to you
    • Reminders
      • Place
        • Cortana is your personal digital assistant. Here she is giving me a run down of my interests.
          Cortana is your personal digital assistant. Here she is giving me a run down of my interests.

          Remind me to buy print cartridges next time I’m at the Best Buy off Rea road

        • Remind me to pick up groceries when I leave work
        • Remind me to start laundry when I arrive home
      • Person
        • Remind me to ask my Mom how her cat is doing next time I’m in contact with her (phone, email, text)
      • Time
    • Text message with nicknames
      • Text message my wife on my way
      • Text message my manager I’m running late

PowerPoint 2010 Save As Web Page

Recently a need came up for a user that wanted to post a PowerPoint slide with links embedded in it onto a SharePoint 2007 teamsite. Unfortunately, in Office 2010 the ability to Save As Web Page doesn’t exist anymore. It seems they are really promoting their PowerPoint services (Office Web Apps) and decided to remove this capability from the user interface. Fortunately, the backend code is still there to perform this function.

I found this forum post: http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en/officeappcompat/thread/89d70894-b455-4d3e-a801-f2574c3a0f5a talking about a quick way to save as html through the visual basic editor in PowerPoint. This was good but not very user friendly.

I decided to write my own PowerPoint Add-In to add a button in the ribbon that saves the presentation to html. Since this is my first add-in, it did take me a little while to get it working but I was really happy with the development experience.  Hitting F5 compiled, built and deployed my add-in and then started powerpoint for me.  This made debuging and testing really quick.

To get started I fired up Visual Studio 2010 and created a new PowerPoint 2010 Add-In. I then added a new item and selected Ribbon. I also added a button to the ribbon from the toolbox and created an on-click event for it. Below is the code for the on-click event:

SaveFileDialog saveFileDialog1 = new SaveFileDialog();

saveFileDialog1.Filter = "htm files (*.htm)|*.htm|All files (*.*)|*.*";
saveFileDialog1.FilterIndex = 0;
saveFileDialog1.RestoreDirectory = true;
saveFileDialog1.AddExtension = true;
saveFileDialog1.AutoUpgradeEnabled = true;
saveFileDialog1.CheckFileExists = false;
saveFileDialog1.CheckPathExists = true;
saveFileDialog1.DefaultExt = "htm";

if (saveFileDialog1.ShowDialog() != DialogResult.OK) return;

string filepath = saveFileDialog1.FileName;

Globals.SaveToHtml.Application.ActivePresentation.SaveAs(filepath, Microsoft.Office.Interop.PowerPoint.PpSaveAsFileType.ppSaveAsHTML, Microsoft.Office.Core.MsoTriState.msoFalse);

 

Here’s a screenshot of what it looks like:

 

One of the reasons it took me a while was I had issues getting it installed on another machine.  It turns out I didn’t select Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Tools for Office Runtime as a prerequisite to install under the publish settings.  Once that was checked it installed fine on other machines.

Paper Airplane

So a little while ago an e-mail was sent around at work to try out this online paper airplane game. The game is located at: http://flightsimx.cyclops.amnesia.com.au/index.html. The current record in the office was 91m. After about 10 minutes I was able to beat that record with 101.167m. After this I really wanted to beat my own score. I developed a stratagy to use the touchpad on my laptop at the very top edge to have a consistent mouse sweep. But even after doing this for a while I couldn’t achive consistent results. That’s when the thought came to me about writing a program that will do the same mouse sweep each time. Then all I would need to do it tweak the settings to achieve the perfect mouse sweep.

I ended up developing a little .NET 2.0 windows app to do the perfect sweep.

PaperAirplane

In my program you use the x and y coordinates in the middle of the program to determine where you mouse is. You move your mouse over your start position and record those coords in the Start X and Start Y. Do the same for the ending position. The speed is the number of milliseconds it takes for the sweep to get from start to end. So the lower the number the faster the sweep. You can use the grab x and y and the play again x and y for those actions. Once you have all of your coordinates entered. You can just hit Go and it will automatically click play again, click (grab) the paper airplane, move the plane to it’s start position, and then sweep the mouse to toss the airplane. Each of these actions can be performed by them selves by using the appropriate button on the app. When you close the program it will record your settings in the registry so the next time you run the program your settings will be remembered.  Also, you can use the link at the top of the program to launch the website for the game.

You can try my program out for yourself by downloading it at: http://steve.thelineberrys.com/downloads/PaperAirplane.exe

After being proud of myself in building this app I was still having trouble with the plane being thrown consistent. I was able to figure out that the Paper Airplane game is really a scam. I believe it randomizes the throws so even if you do the exact same throw each time, only a few times will you actually get a good throw. Try it out for yourself and you’ll see what I mean.