Monday, July 28, 2014

Stuck in Beta?

I just recently made the jump and installed the Developer Preview version of Windows Phone 8.1 (WP8.1) on my Lumia Icon phone.

(For those of you "non-tech-geeks" still reading this, don't worry - this isn't necessarily a "tech article", so you can keep reading.)

One of my co-workers was installing it on his phone and, through a chat, I decided to do the same thing. Only took about two hours in total (if that). There were multiple downloads and reboots that took place. Again, this is the Developer Preview version. When the "official" version gets rolled out via the cell phone carriers (I'm a Verizon customer), it should be the "complete" version (including updates and patches) and consist of only one download.

One of the neat features that came with WP8.1 is Cortana - a Siri / Google Now type interface. Previously, when you touched the search button on the phone, Bing search would launch and you would type your search (or, select the microphone icon and speak your search). Bing always provided textual results - like searching with Google on your desktop. Cortana replaces Bing (Bing is incorporated into Cortana), so Cortana launches when you click the search button. You can either type or speak your search. If you type, you get a textual result like before. If you speak, Cortana will respond verbally (and/or give you textual results if warranted.)

I noticed in the top right corner of the screen when Cortana is "running" the word "Beta". This is one of those terms that floats around that belong to the inner world of geeks and techies. I looked up a Wikipedia article on the Software Release Cycle that has a simple graph showing the testing and development periods of software. They are as follows:

Pre-alpha (a.k.a. development releases nightly builds)
Release Candidate (a.k.a. Gamma Delta)
RTM (Release to Manufacturing) (a.k.a. Release to Marketing)
GA (General Availability)
Production or Live Release (a.k.a. Gold)

WP8.1 is either in RTM, GA, or Production - being that it is in the hands of carriers. As of this writing, AT&T has started rolling out 8.1, whereas Verizon still shows as "under testing". There is a firmware (software that directly affects the hardware - like drivers and such) update called "Cyan" that is due to be available at the same time as WP8.1, which was not available to download with the Developer Preview. When Verizon releases 8.1, it will include Cyan. But back to the Beta of Cortana.

One of the reasons I've read for how long Cortana will remain in Beta concerned the ever-evolving nature of the software. As more people use it, and it's database grows (and the software is tweaked with more features), Cortana will continue to become "more". At what point will Cortana leave the Beta stage is difficult to determine, mainly because of this type of growth.

Like I said in the second sentence of this article, the focus here is not "tech".

My question to you is, are you still in Beta? And if so, for how long?

Like Cortana, are you ever evolving? Are you constantly growing? Do you look for new experiences (and people) to facilitate this growth?

The bible makes reference to three basic salvations (being born again, born anew, or born from above - Greek shtuff). It says you've been saved (Ephesians 2:8), you are being saved (2 Corinthians 2:15), and you will be saved (Acts 15:11). It says you are saved by faith (or acceptance of…), not of works (you can't please your way to God - salvation is a gift, freely given, from God alone) (Ephesians 2:9). It also tells us to "work out your own salvation" (Philippians 2:12). Of course, this kind of "confusion" helps provide one of the reasons for all of the different denominations in Christianity. And yet, I don't think this is what the 5,000 foot view meant. And how does this connect with Beta? Continue!!

The bible considers that we are triune beings, made of Spirit (the part that is "like God"), the Soul (your will, intellect, emotions), and the Body (the physical part of you). When a person accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior, his Spirit is saved - or made new. That is the "been saved" (since the above references are from the letters written to Christians). When the rapture occurs (rapture is a word not in the bible - it is referred to in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17) the person receives a new body like the kind the risen Jesus has). This is the "will be saved". What about the "being saved"? This is where we get the "work out your own salvation" part. This is your Beta state. This is where you develop your Soul (your character, your intellect, your emotions, etc.).

You see, the Spirit part of you is pure - like God. You become "separated" from God by an act of your will (known as the age of "understanding"). When you are too young to understand the gospel (good news), your Spirit is still "connected" to God. Have you ever heard someone speaking in tongues? Sounds just like baby talk. Ever wonder why?

The Soul part is the part that communicates between the Spirit and the Body. We really see the connection with the Body. When any of the three parts is out of balance, there are problems. Mental illness, for the most part, is both a problem of the Soul AND the Body (issues with the brain that are often "adjusted" via medication).

This is why you and I are still in Beta - and will be for the rest of our lives. The only other way to get out of Beta is to stop updating. But, would you really like to consider yourself "perfect" at this point and stop experiencing new things in life?

I wouldn't.

© Emittravel 2014

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