Experiences with Microsoft Surface Pro 4

A few months back, GSM Connections had incredible offers on the Surface Pro 4 (& still do – the m3 @ €799 & i5 @ €899) with a black or blue Type keyboard included free – https://www.gsmconnection.eu/collections/smart-phones/products/microsoft-surface-pro-4-128gb-intel-core-i5 . I was looking for offers on this latest Surface Pro model for both my eldest son and myself.

The first difficulty was choosing between the fan-less m3 and the more powerful i5. Eventually, both of us chose the m3 over the i5 to have something more like an iPad rather than a PC. Both of us have other workhorse machines for heavy-duty work and we wanted something could be taken everywhere and use anytime.

However, there were a number of important lessons along the way.

Patching

Before doing anything else, CHANGE THE DATE to today.

The Surface is almost useless until you do this. Microsoft has released lots of important patches for the Surface but Windows Update does not work while the date is set to the default. It manifested itself in many ways – the normal welcome setup process did not work & I was unable to download my Microsoft profile.

The date issue was not obvious, so I did jump through many hoops. One of the laptops appeared dead for hours on end and I thought that I would have to return it but a forced reboot and that date change and all was well.

More help can be found here

Battery Life

Battery life was found to be lower on the m3 compared to the other models. This was surprising on the “mobility” chipset. The consensus appeared to be that the SkyLake chipset has settings for low power and for overdrive but some internal logic caused the Surface to use overdrive too often reducing battery life too frequently.

There were some articles around this here that I found incredibly useful and help counter the problem

For a finish, it is great to have a laptop that still has an hour left when the battery life dips below 10%

Wake-up

With the keyboard attached, closing the keyboard over the screen can be configured to sleep, hibernate, or shutdown. However, with sleep or hibernate, sometimes, nothing happens when you “open” the keyboard. If it happens, try the following in order until it works.

  • just close and open again – a few times if necessary; this is the most likely solution.
  • press the power button
  • hold the power button for 20-30 seconds
  • hold the power and volume-up button for 20-30 seconds

Bluetooth & WiFi

WiFi performance is far, far better when the Bluetooth is disabled. However, the very cool Surface pen uses Bluetooth so it is a trade-off. Disable Bluetooth if you need to do some serious downloading.

The Surface Pen

… is totally awesome. My son was studying old mathematics exam papers in PDF format. Double-clicking the top of the pen would copy the PDF into OneNote where you could annotate the document, scribbling on equations and graphs.

Handwriting recognition is very nice and, sometimes, I would use the pen over the keyboard because writing just feels so right! The auto-correct works beautifully but words that are run together in web links like “TheJournal” or “NewYorkTimes” are difficult to write correctly; the software does not appear to recognise or allow missing spaces.

Others

The face/eye recognition has improved a lot over the past few months. For a while, I had to remove my glasses to be recognised which was inconvenient since I am almost blind without them. In enhanced security, it does check that I am not 2D, requesting me to shake my head slowly.

The power brick connection is much easier to use than the original Surface. The brick also comes with a USB port for charging another device. It does get very hot and the cable from wall-plug to brick is very short which is impractical for the dog living behind my sofa.

The new type keyboard is an improvement over previous models and is easy to use. It feels far more rigid than earlier versions while still remaining light.

The multi-position kick stand is far better than older versions that had only 1 or 2 positions. I was surprised how easy it was to use both the surface comfortably on my lap while typing on the keyboard.

Summary

Overall, I really do enjoy using the Surface and have stopped “borrowing” my better half’s iPad for quick surfing. My son uses his Surface for everything except serious gaming and brings it everywhere.

It would have been nice to have Office included. It was included in some previous iterations and the Surface is not cheap.

But I have no regrets on this purchase.

Waiting for MSSQL Database Restores to complete?

In my current role, we can have a lot of restores in progress during a maintenance window. This handy script allows us to calculate how long the restores will take and when our coffee break will end!

— Check Restores in Progress
SELECT
         r.session_id
        ,r.command
        ,CONVERT(NUMERIC(38,2),r.percent_complete) AS [Percent Complete]
        ,CONVERT(VARCHAR(20),DATEADD(ms,r.estimated_completion_time,GetDate()),20) AS [ETA Completion Time]
        ,CONVERT(NUMERIC(38,2),r.total_elapsed_time/1000.0/60.0) AS [Elapsed Min]
        ,CONVERT(NUMERIC(38,2),r.estimated_completion_time/1000.0/60.0) AS [ETA Min]
        ,CONVERT(NUMERIC(38,2),r.estimated_completion_time/1000.0/60.0/60.0) AS [ETA Hours]
        ,CONVERT(VARCHAR(1000),(SELECT SUBSTRING(text,r.statement_start_offset/2,
                                                                CASE WHEN r.statement_end_offset = -1 THEN 1000
                                                                ELSE (r.statement_end_offset-r.statement_start_offset)/2 END)
                                                        FROM
                                                                sys.dm_exec_sql_text(sql_handle)))
FROM
        sys.dm_exec_requests r
WHERE
        command LIKE ‘%restore%’;
GO

Did you miss SQLSaturday #501 in Dublin?

As a previous organiser of SQL Saturday events in Dublin, I was bitterly disappointed to miss being an ordinary attendee at this year’s SQL Saturday  ( http://www.sqlsaturday.com/501/eventhome.aspx ). I had registered many months ago. Unfortunately, there was an unavoidable planned monthly maintenance window which lasted the whole day. I had hoped to get away and join the event in the afternoon but it was not to be.

But the great news is that some of the events were recorded and broadcast live on Microsoft’s Channel 9 and they are still available on the website – https://channel9.msdn.com/Events/SQL-Saturday/Learn-more-about-SQL-2016-Live-at-SQL-Saturday-Dublin-Ireland

Thank you to Microsoft and SQLSaturday Dublin for making this possible.

Wayne McCrum talks about Microsoft Premier Support’s Risk Assessment Program

The next SQL Server Ireland User Group meeting is on Microsoft Premier Support’s “Risk Assessment Program” on Tuesday, September 10th, 2013 in the Microsoft Atrium building, in Sandyford.

Wayne will discuss the program and discuss some of the common misconfigurations seen in the field.

When: September 10th, 2013 at 18.30

Where: Microsoft Atrium, Carmanhall Road, Sandyford, Dublin 18. A limited amount of underground parking is available via the rear of the building.

Cost: FREE Community Event

Registration: http://ssiug130903.eventbrite.ie/

Wayne McCrum has been working with SQL Server since 2004 in a variety of SQL orientated roles. He currently works as a SQL Server Field Engineer for Microsoft assisting customers within Western Europe on both proactive and reactive engagements around the SQL Server product.

Ian Meade on Flexible Data Modelling with EAV & other technologies

Ian Meade, from Ergo, will present on “Flexible Data Modelling with EAV & other technologies” in the Auditorium on the Ground Floor of the Microsoft Atrium on Tuesday, August 6th, 2013 at 18:30

The event is free and details can be found at http://www.mtug.ie/UserGroups/sqlserver/Lists/Calendar/DispForm.aspx?ID=7

The MTUG (www.mtug.ie) website has been updated with the details of all forthcoming SQL Server Ireland User Group meetings for 2014.

Sharepoint User Group Ireland – Making SharePoint work for Records Management & Social Features in SharePoint 2013

Making SharePoint work for Records Management.

SharePoint has had record management since version 2007 but has struggled in real world implementations due to design limitations and user unfriendliness . SharePoint 2010 added improvements such as document sets and in-place record management. In this talk Tony Ogilivie will bring real world experience in how to make SharePoint work for Records Management

Presenter: Tony Ogilvie – Automated Intelligence Tony brings many years of experience delivering high value and very successful deployments for a number of global organisations. Prior to joining Automated Intelligence Tony was a senior consultant with Parity and before that Autonomy. Tony is an expert in Microsoft SharePoint and is often engaged by customers and partners alike to design and implement their information architecture.

Social Features in SharePoint 2013.

SharePoint 2013 has added a major set of new features for based around Facebook and Twitter style collaboration. We’ll walk through Microblogging, User Feeds, Communities for both on Premise and Office 365. The usual Live Demo and Presentation mix plus a video clip of Steve Jobs, why? come and find out.

Presenter: Colin Byrne Colin is a SharePoint architect working in Ireland and the Uk. He is currently implementing a SharePoint solution for one of the worlds largest Aircraft Lessors.

Registraton : https://tito.io/tcube/sharepoint-user-group-ireland-june-meetup-2013

Location : TCube, 32-34 Castle Street, Dublin 2

Date & Time : June 20th, 2013 @18:30

Event is free & all are welcome.

Winners of the competition to attend Kevin Kline’s “From Good to Great: Productivity and Influence Skills for the IT Professional” pre-conference event

Last month, the SQL Saturday committee and SQL Server Ireland User Group held a competition to win a free place at the SQL Saturday 229 pre-conference – Kevin Kline’s “From Good to Great: Productivity and Influence Skills for the IT Professional”.

Kevin has been an awesome ambassador to Ireland in the SQL community and we wanted to celebrate that fact.

So the question was “How many times has Kevin Kline visited Ireland as a SQL speaker prior to this?”

Only one person, David Henley, got the correct answer of 3 visits :  Dublin, Cork, Galway & Belfast user group roadshow in 2007, a Dublin user group in 2011, & the Dublin SQL Saturday in 2012.

A second entrant, Yibo Hu, answered 6 times which is the correct number of events that he attended.

We decided to award a free entry to the event to both entrants.

Congratulations to David & Yibo.

To learn more about the event, visit the SQL Saturday 229 (http://www.sqlsaturday.com/229/) website for details.

SQL Saturday Dublin 2013 – One Month To Go

The SQL Saturday is now only a month away tomorrow and the committee has been very busy.

The biggest news is that the session builder is now available to all those registered for SQL Saturday 229 (http://www.sqlsaturday.com/229/). Whether you have already booked or have yet to book, please help us to plan room sizes by letting us know what sessions you will be attending.

SQL Saturday was oversubscribed last year so book quickly to ensure your place.

In other good news, we have extended the early bird on the pre-conferences until the end of May. There are still places left for each of the pre-conferences.

If you wish to attend any of the pre-conferences, the details for these can be found at:

Kevin Kline’s “From Good to Great: Productivity and Influence Skills for the IT Professional” http://www.prodata.ie/Events/SqlSat229/Precon1.aspx

Chris Webb’s “Self-Service BI and Office 2013” http://www.prodata.ie/Events/SqlSat229/Precon2.aspx

Matt Masson’s “A Day of Enterprise Information Management – SSIS, MDS and DQS” http://www.prodata.ie/Events/SqlSat229/Precon3.aspx

Win a free place at Kevin Kline’s “From Good to Great: Productivity and Influence Skills for the IT Professional” pre-conference

The SQL Saturday Dublin committee has completed the session schedule for SQL Saturday 229. In addition, we have extended the early bird on the pre-conferences until the end of May.

So what more could we do? We decided to hold a competition to win a free place at the SQL Saturday 229 pre-conference – Kevin Kline’s “From Good to Great: Productivity and Influence Skills for the IT Professional”.

Kevin has been an awesome ambassador to Ireland in the SQL community and we wanted to celebrate that fact.

So the question is “How many times has Kevin Kline visited Ireland as a SQL speaker prior to this?”

All you have to do is email “ssiug at live.ie” with “Competition” in the subject and let us know the answer.

We will complete the draw on the last day of May.

Neil Hambly on Effective Index Partitioning, Compression Strategy

The next SQL Server Ireland User Group meeting is “Effective Index Partitioning, Compression Strategy” on Tuesday, May 28th, 2013 at the usual location in Auditorium, on the Ground Floor of the Microsoft Atrium building, in Sandyford.

We all know that ‘Indexing’ is KING when it comes to achieving high levels of performance in SQL Server.

When Indexing also combines 2 of the Enterprise features: Partitioning & Compression, we can often see substantial gains.

Learn how to identify those objects that benefit greatly from being Partitioned or Compressed, OR combining both of these features to even greater effect.

Using Demos to illustrate the performance gains with real-world examples,

Take away advanced scripts for use in your own environments.

When:             May 28th,  2013 at 18.30

Where:            Microsoft Atrium, Carmanhall Road, Sandyford, Dublin 18. A limited amount of underground parking is available via the rear of the building.

Cost:               FREE Community Event

Registration:    Not required. Contact ssiug at live.ie for more details or visit the Microsoft Technology User Groups site (www.mtug.ie )

Neil Hambly is a Senior DBA @ Confio Software, having held various SQL Server roles during the last 14 years @ market leading companies (Accenture, ABN AMRO, BBC, iProfile, MDSL) He has considerable Experience in SQL Server starting with version 6.5 through to the latest 2012 release. A regular International speaker @ SQL conference & User Group, he also leads the SQL London PASS Chapter (UK). Frequently found studying the inner workings of SQL Server, as well as an avid Tweeter @Neil_Hambly.

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