Spring Weekend

IMG_6999Spring has finally arrived.  On Saturday it was over 60 degrees and today it was over 70, and sunny.  This, combined with it being the first weekend in a couple months I haven’t spent 10+ hours in the basement working on Ana’s table, made for a very nice and relaxing weekend.

We spent time at the park, went on a few walks, and capped it all off with a couple deliciously grilled meals.

Adios Winter.

Craft Table (Finally) Complete

It has been over 2 years since I began the project, but tonight we finally moved the completed craft table up to Ana’s sewing room!

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I started building it in early 2011.  I steadily worked on it nearly every weekend, just a few hours at a time while David was napping or after everyone had gone to bed.  I was making good progress, then had a minor accident.

I was determined to not let that stop me, so I quickly resumed work and made a lot of progress.  And then it sat.  I reached a point where I needed to make doors and drawers, something I hadn’t ever done before and I was very reluctant to start (out of fear of messing it up, I suppose).

It sat for nearly 2 years in the basement.  Every time I passed it, I cringed and was hit with a pang of guilt.  We had Ana’s sewing room all ready for it, but it wasn’t getting finished.

Fast-forward to two months ago, I did a little project making wooden letters for the kids and got the itch to finally give the drawers and doors a shot.

Everything turned out great.  I’m so glad I finally finished it and Ana is excited to finally have it at her disposal.  I think it looks pretty good in that room 🙂

3 Weeks with the Surface RT

Microsoft SurfaceNow that I’ve had the Microsoft Surface RT for 3 weeks, I think it’s a good time to go over a few things.

First, I’ll say that I really like this device.  Before owning one, I thought both the kickstand and touch keyboard were rather gimmicky.  But now, whether it’s sitting on my desk or with me on the couch, the kickstand is out the majority of the time.  The angle is a little steep for sitting on my lap, but still workable.

I have the Touch Cover.  I have mixed feelings about it.  For one, it’s GREAT having a keyboard.  I can type pretty quickly on it, but the error rate is still rather high.  I’m hoping I’ll get even better as time goes on, but there’s also the option of upgrading to the Type Cover which is more of a traditional laptop-style keyboard.

Having Microsoft Office on here is something I had far undervalued.  I mean, I’ve gotten along for 2 years with the iPad without Office, what’s the big deal?  Well, with fully functional Office, working with documents is effortless.   With the iPad, I always had to do some mental gymnastics regarding document handling: what format should I convert this to?  Email it? DropBox it?  Can the app I want to use open it from DropBox?  And  that’s just for viewing, forget about editing and getting it back off of the device!  With the new Office and its SkyDrive integration (not to mention that I’ve been an avid OneNote user for years), it’s for the most part seamless and Just Works: edit and save a document from my desktop, pick up where I left off on the Surface, an vice-versa.   Open from SharePoint (ugh), and on and on.

I was glad to see Microsoft include an ARM version of the Remote Desktop Client, it works well.  I’ve been able to VPN to both home and work, so this combined with Remote Desktop access really gives me plenty of flexibility.

Battery life has been decent.  I routinely get at least 8 hours without a problem.  What did come as  surprise is how incredibly fast it recharges.   I need to pay closer attention to it, but it seems like I’ve gone from less than 10 percent battery to well over 50 in right around an hour.  The plug is weird, though.   It’s small and magnetic, but I find it difficult to get plugged into the beveled side without looking.  Nearly impossible in the dark. One coworker agrees with me on this, another doesn’t.

Coming from using a Windows Phone (an therefore a Metro UI) for a couple months, I feel like the tablet (and perhaps Windows 8 in general) could benefit from a Back button.  I also wish the Start (“home”) button glowed like my Lumia 920 – it’s also very hard to locate and press in the dark when you’re not sure how you have the tablet oriented.

For the first few days, I mostly avoided Metro IE in favor of IE on the desktop.  Most likely because of familiarity.  But once I discovered that you can swipe left/right for back/forward in Metro IE, I rarely use the desktop version anymore.  I still find it painful that MS doesn’t allow browser plugins, though.  I’d really like to have my LastPass integration.   Random thought here, LastPass: what about implementing the Sharing Contract (or whatever it is called) so IE could pass you the URL, and you copy the password to the clipboard and toss control back to IE?

I think that’s it for now, David’s  swimming lessons are wrapping up so I need to get moving.  I’ll post more as I come across it.

Brother HL-1440 Driver for Windows RT

Now that I have a Microsoft Surface, one of the things I should be able to do from my tablet is print.  Our iPads don’t support printing to our old (almost 10 years) Brother HL-1440 Laser Printer, so I was a little skeptical that I would be able to find a driver for Windows RT (ARM-based).

I gave it a shot and, after testing a couple of the built-in drivers, hit upon the  “Brother Laser Type 1 Class Driver”. It works!

Internet Explorer 10 Skipping Keystrokes

I’ve been running Windows 8 for a while now on my laptop, and ran into a very frustrating problem with Internet Explorer 10. When typing on a webpage, I often found it skipping keystrokes. It seemed to get progressively worse over time, to the point where I found myself having to hit a key 3 times before it would register.

So tonight I set out to figure out what exactly was going on, or how to fix it.

Skimming through the IE settings, I found an option for using software rendering instead of GPU rendering.

I had completely forgotten that IE10 uses the GPU.  Off I went to NVidia’s website, downloaded new drivers, and voila! no more typing problem!

If you’re unable to find new drivers and are experiencing missed keystrokes in IE, you may want to check that checkbox in Internet Options – it may just help you out.


Lumia 920 not Recognized by Windows 8

Today when I plugged my new Lumia 920 into my Windows 8 desktop, noting happened. Odd, it had worked the day before.

I unplugged and retried a couple of times, to no avail. Checking Windows’ Devices and Printers showed it was Offline, so I wasn’t imagining that it was installed and working at one point.

I tried a reboot of the desktop, still nothing. As a last ditch effort, I tried rebooting the phone itself, and voila, it reappeared on the desktop.

No biggie, but I saw a few discussion threads online about the same problem. Hopefully this will help others out.

Lumia 920 and Windows Phone 8

After several years with Apple’s iPhone (3G followed by a 4), I’ve made the switch away from Apple. Yesterday I picked up a new, black Nokia Lumia 920 running Windows Phone 8!

First impressions, I really like this phone and OS. I’ve played around with Windows Phone 7.5 before, but have never used it as my main device before.

So, I think the biggest hesitation going into switching was the lack of applications. Or, rather, the perceived lack of applications. So far I haven’t really run into much that I cannot do with Windows Phone 8, and I suspect those places where it does fall short will be taken care of in the near future (Instagram, some notification-related stuff, etc). One day in, I’m very happy with the choice.

Getting Out to Shoot

As I mentioned a few months ago, I have been doing my best to get out and shoot as much as possible.  Some times are more difficult than others to push myself outside, like last night when it was still above 90 degrees and humid at sunset.   But I made it out, and was rewarded with this shot, which I particularly like.

I notice now that when I’m out, I find myself really working to just get a single good/memborable shot.  Sure, I get others, but I really try to make just one that really stands out among the others.  Last night, this was that shot.