I wrote this on my new Microsoft Surface Pro 4, on my lap (yes, for all those who have lap-angst about the Surface, it works fine - in fact because the battery is not near your lap, I actually find it more comfortable than a regular laptop). I had decided I needed a professional development environment that was separate from my work laptop, but still portable so that I could take it with me to interviews, demos etc. so I went to a mall that had both Apple and Microsoft stores in order to try hands-on comparisons.
I found the MacBook to be teeny, and I do feel that the noted shallow keyboard-travel is odd (although I could quickly get used to it if I had to). Using macOS and the Mac was familiar, but it felt oddly cramped - I say odd, because the Surface is only a fraction of an inch bigger, yet felt much roomier.
I played around with the Surface longer, and found myself excited in considering it as a choice. So that was that, I bought it. Below, are notes on modifications I made.
Due to the high definition screen, some older applications not built for Windows 10 and high definition screens look blurry. There is a simple (if slightly tedious) solution here
Visual Studio Code and Go
First, I installed it from here
Then I added the Go extension but before I followed the rest of the instructions for the Go tools needed, I had to set my
Search for “environment variables” and open the window offered, then add a variable "
GOPATH" with the path of
Editing PDF's was a considerable pain. On my Mac, the Preview app made it easy, but on Windows, you either have to sign-up for a monthly fee from Adobe, or purchase some other expensive software. My needs were simple - I needed to be able to delete a few pages and save. The Surface came with Drawboard PDF installed, which is actually a lovely application, however, it will not save my changes to PDF’s. Perhaps it’s somehow crippled as it’s a free install or something, but it’s very annoying, because it acts like it saved, sometimes even throws a copy on my OneDrive, but no changes. In the end, I installed CutePDF, which acts like a printer, and that allowed me to select what pages I wanted to "print" to a file.
As a DevOps person, I'm operating-system agnostic, but I do mostly work in the bash shell, so I’m glad to hear that Microsoft will be finally bringing bash to Windows (what this means). That said, however, they have made Powershell pretty powerful, and it now has a lot of additions to help with Azure.
I needed to make a few modifications to make vim work well under Windows 10 which I documented here - I also installed Apple's iCloud Drive on the Surface and was able to sync my iA Writer documents (of course there is no iA Writer on Windows, but I've made some modification to how Vim handles
.md files that should make for a decent text writer (with word-wrap and spell check)). So my Surface is also now one of my writing machines .
Although I do quite a lot of drawing and painting using Microsoft Fresh Paint (that came installed on my Surface), nothing (free) beats The Gimp for more complex image editing. However, on a high-definition screen, the icons are too small to see, so I downloaded themes for larger icons and changed theme to the larger size:
Edit->Preferences->Themes (note that Gimp needs to be restarted for the theme to take effect) - I found this information here.