a pack of 'garden meadow' Seedballs, alongside a pack of 'poppy' Seedballs, and the back of the plantable thank you note.

My work sent all UK staff this thoughtful Spring gift of wildflower seedballs, to easily add some wildflowers to our homes and gardens. Even the little note that came with the packs contains seeds and is plant-able – just bury it and give it some water. I’m just waiting on some new planters to arrive, then I’ll get these added to the garden 🌼

This review of the Microsoft Surface Studio Laptop, by Bill Bennett, largely matches my own experiences with it. I’ve been using the Studio for the last couple of months, having bought it as a replacement for my aging self-built desktop, and it’s easily one of the best laptops I’ve ever used. Definitely the best Windows laptop.

My Surface Studo Laptop, with a sticker saying `#include <everyone>' in rainbow text stuck to the top right corner
My Surface Studio Laptop

I’ve gone for the “middle of the road” spec – i7 + 16GB RAM, as I couldn’t justify the jump in cost of the 32GB option – like Bill notes, these devices are expensive compared to available offerings from other PC manufacturers, but for me the following helped mitigate the price:

  • Solid build quality.
  • Great screen.
  • Really good laptop keyboard.
  • Similarly good trackpad – easily the best I’ve used outside of a MacBook.
  • No bloatware.
  • It’s in what I consider my “sweet spot” for laptop size.
  • I have just enough non-Apple needs to make a MacBook Pro (which has a similar price) not quite the best choice.

I wouldn’t say I’ve managed to really push the Studio very hard yet. I’ve mostly been using it for exam study and light “tinkering” in a WSL development environment, but I’ve also done a little bit of gaming in World of Warcraft. Playing WoW is pretty much the only time I’ve heard the fans make any real sort of noise, and with a little lowering of settings I was getting 4K on my external monitor at ~60fps from the 3050m GPU. For my needs I’d be happy to trade some resolution for higher settings at the same fps, but it’s not something I’ve devoted much time to.

In terms of noise outside gaming – I basically never hear it. Sometimes it will ramp up to a low-level “woosh” that’s barely noticeable above ambient, but most of the time it’s dead silent. Especially compared to my similarly specified (but 3 years old) work Dell – that sounds like a leaf blower from the moment it’s turned on, rising to jet engine as the day wears on.

The Studio’s signature folded tablet mode is “fine”; as Bill notes, it’s heavy, so you won’t use it on-the-go. In my limited use of it, the tablet mode is pretty nice for browsing/reading on the sofa as it’s more comfortable and balanced on your lap in tablet mode. I’m less concerned the whole thing is going to tip back off my knees and crash to the floor. It’s one of those features I’m not going to need 98% of the time, but on that rare 2% I’ll be glad I can make use of it.

Speaking of the fold – I don’t know if it’s just the way I lift the lid on the Studio, but I do find the double-hinge mechanism quite prone to opening up as if I were switching to tablet mode when I’m just trying to open up as a laptop. It’s not a big deal, but it’s happened enough I thought it worth mentioning.

Overall though, yeah, I’m really happy with the Surface Studio Laptop. It’s a very good laptop wrapped up in a premium-feeling package. As an aside, between this and the Xbox Series S, I’ve been very impressed with the quality of devices Microsoft is creating these days – it makes me wonder how well they’d get on in the smartphone space, if they ever decided to jump back in.

All going well – and DNS willing – this site has been migrated off of WordPress.com and back to self-hosted. That’s all well and good, but along the way, the site has picked up a couple of new tricks –

  • IndieWeb integration through microformats and Webmention
  • Fediverse integration through ActivityPub

Fediverse support means you can now (for example) follow this blog on Mastodon, by following @chris@chrismcleod.dev. You might even be able to like and comment directly from Mastodon (I haven’t tested this Update: commenting via a reply works). Regular RSS options are still available.

IndieWeb features come by way of the plugins provided by the community, and the Autonomie theme by Matthias Pfefferle (who also wrote the ActivityPub plugin I’m using). I haven’t rolled out all of the possible features – I’m not using Post Kinds yet, for example – as I want to think a bit more about what I want to achieve with the site before I go overboard.

Moving everything over was relatively quick and painless, and the setup of new features was simple. There’s a couple of small things to tidy up, and more to be added to the site as time goes on. I’ll write up the process of getting things setup in another post so others can replicate on their own site if they want.