It’s been quite a while, since I had so successful and effective morning, while trying to discover new Microsoft-dependent tools and techniques. I’m very glad from what I achieved, so I decided to share it a bit with you!
Feedly-connected News Reader for Windows 8 Tablet
First of all, I had to find a decent news reader for my Lenovo Helix ultrabook. I’m already using Chrome on the Desktop, but my tablet browser of preference is by no competition Internet Explorer 10. No other browser can compete with its slickness when displaying/resizing text with gestures. I tried many: Chrome, Firefox, Opera – all of them worked perfectly on the desktop, but their tablet mode is ridiculous (and that’s soft talk here, I was using much more harsh words, while trying). Feedly Cloud, on the other hand, does not work with IE10. I’ve no idea why, but when trying to login with Google Authentication, it just hangs on the authentication provider and… that’s it! So I needed something else.
I remember Alex Miloev mentioning that he found something quite good for his Windows 8 Phone (I do not like and do not use this mobile platform), so I tried to reproduce his success, but for my Pro tablet. A quick Windows Store query yielded my news reader of choice: NextGen Reader. I do not remember is Alex mentioned the same app, but it took only 15 min with the trial version to decide that this will be my Windows 8 Tablet reader of choice. Because of:
- Full Feedly integration (although I’ve still had no success discovering how to unsubscribe from a feed from within NextGen )
- Quick and easy synchronization
Very nice and neat UI
- Although I’m missing Portrait mode, for some strange reason it shows up just the NextGen blue logo (initially I thought the app hung, but then rotated back to Landscape and it was all there.
- Excellent synchronization with Pocket and Readability
…and it just “feels right”, while I’m using it
- Maybe the user experience resembles quite well the Android tablet user experience, to which I’m addicted?
I had some troubles, while trying to pay for the app (it costs US3 before tax, for me it went to something below US$3.50). Completely acceptable price, I didn’t even wait for its trial to expire and purchased it immediately.
(Of course) I had some trouble purchasing it . Otherwise it won’t be Windows Store, ain’t it? My trouble was provoked from the fact that my Live account is created with US-based address, and in its Divine Wisdom someone at Microsoft (I’m trembling from fear it could be a whole team though!) decided that once country is tied up to Microsoft Account, only Death can separate it. So the Store kept insisting for Microsoft-based postal address (I had to use my PayPal account, because guess what – all my credit cards are with my real address)! I was almost given up (and ready to write a long rant in my blog), but then it struck me: I have to cheat (again)! I have plenty of friends, who live in USA and have valid addresses, so I just put there one of them (Note to self: warn the person that I tied up his address and phone number to my live account ).
So once I did the “fraud” above, all went smooth and my PayPal payment (with my Bulgarian credit card) went smoothly. Yay, I am not a happy NextGen Reader user. And it’s awesome!
Windows 8 Tablet Radio Application
The next challenge, which I had to resolve, was to bring some noise in the room. I.e., to enable my tablet to play radio streams. Yes, I know, it’s a Pro tablet, I can install WinAmp or whatever there for desktop you can try/find, but I actually waned a tablet application, because it’s much cooler .
Again a Windows Store search, which yielded lots of choices. Initially I went for Mini Radio Player. After installation and some playing with it (literally), I decided to keep searching, because this thing didn’t have some of my favorite local stations! Yes, it was very intelligent, immediately offered me Bulgarian stations, but with quite limited choice. So I had to give it up. I refined the query a bit (sorry, don’t remember how ) and then I stumbled upon Audialis. A bit too “overdesigned” app for my taste, but since its main purpose is to run in background, the overdesign did not scare me (too much). Tried it, saw it has practically all stations I’m interested for, and that’s it for now. It’s even playing now, while I type this .
Microsoft Word and WordPress Integration
In the past, I was vivid Windows Live Writer user. However, I did not had Live Writer and also it seems Microsoft does not pay much attention to it either, so I decided to use Word for my posts. Word has pretty good (English and Bulgarian) spell check and auto-correct and it’s a word processor, after all, i.e. great for stuff like that. Until today I was using it as “ground-up” for my posts (when without Live Writer), but today I decided to look for a better integration.
I was very nicely surprised to see that Word actually has an excellent blog integration. WordPress Support says almost nothing about it (is it intentional, or is it on purpose?), but I found this excellent blog post “How to Use Microsoft Word to Publish Directly to Your WordPress Site”, which guided me how I can easily setup my Word 2013 to work with blog.doncho.net. All (again) went flawlessly.
Windows Store and the app content have really grew in the past few months. It’s good to see that and it brings some hope in me that if one day Windows Phone becomes more open and flexible platform, I may decide to give it a chance again (not that I dislike Android, but just of curiosity).
- Windows Store, on the other hand, still sucks big time, when it comes to “country diversity” and flexibility. I’m not willing to switch my 10+ years Microsoft Passport account just because an idiot on high Microsoft level can’t understand that sometimes people change countries. Why, Microsoft, oh why?
- Feedly, although promised their cloud will work with any browser, still do not support Internet Explorer 10 in a good way. Maybe Internet Explorer 11?
- Word and WordPress work awesome together!
- Lenovo Helix is an excellent i7 Windows Ultrabook, Tablet and Notebook, all in one! Great job, Lenovo! I hope I’ll find enough time one day to describe how glad I am from having this gem!
<span style="font-family: Wingdings;">J</span>
Only a Microsoft Product Manager can be so naive