Surface 3 and Windows 10 “Touch is Right Click” Workaround

After upgrading my Surface 3 to Windows 10, a very annoying bug surfaced where I’ll be writing with the pen and all of a sudden any and all touches (pen or finger) are interpreted as right clicks.

For a few days, my only recourse was restarting.

I have since learned that you can avoid a reboot by going into Device Manager and Disabling/Enabling the Surface TouchScreen Device (Human Interface Devices -> Surface TouchScreen Device).

Here’s a PowerShell script I now have hooked up to a keyboard shortcut for when it happens again:

I hope this helps everyone else running into this frustrating problem!

 

Surface 3 on Vacation

I’ve had my Surface 3 (4GB of RAM model) since the day it was released, use it heavily daily for both work and home, and love it.  This past week it has taken its first road trip, vacation, and I couldn’t be happier with it.

Devices, Devices, Devices

Replacing my laptop on a trip isn’t an easy task for a tablet.  I take lots of photos and lots of video, which means I need to be able to pull this data off of a few different sources (Canon 7D, GoPro, and Sony camcorder).  Then there’s the sheer bulk of data to deal with, over 100GB on this trip the last I looked.  Rather than trying to fit everything in the 45GB free on the Surface (by shooting less, deleting more, etc.), I decided from the start to store everything on my USB 3 2TB Western Digital My Passport external hard drive.

The Surface 3 has a single USB 3 port and a USB On-the-Go port.  Unfortunately, I didn’t put much thinking into how I was going to hook everything up until the day before we left and I was unable to purchase an On-the-Go adapter.  So, in order to get everything attached (CF card reader, external hard drive, second external hard drive for Lightroom import backups, and possibly simultaneously the camcorder), I ran to the store and picked up a small USB 3 hub by J5Create.  I’ve had terrible experiences with USB hubs, but so far this one has worked admirably.

Surface 3 and Devices Attached

A typical import setup, minus the camcorder.

The Surface 3 was handled simultaneous photo import, copying to an external hard drive, with import backups going to second hard drive.  Many times, I was also copying video off both the microSD slot on the Surface to the external hard drive and the camcorder via USB to the external hard drive.  The Surface 3 handled it all incredibly well.

Lightroom and Smart Previews

My setup has the Lightroom catalog residing on the Surface 3, but the photos on the external hard drive for capacity reasons.  I initially thought I would just have to edit photos with the external hard drive attached, until I remembered a feature I’ve never used introduced in Lightroom 5 called Smart Previews.  Once configured, after import and while the external hard drive is still attached, Lightroom generates smaller versions of the full-sized photos you can view/edit/export when the originals are offline (the hard drive detached).

Generating the Smart Previews takes a while, so I usually kicked off the import as we were unloading at the cabin after a day out swimming or sight seeing.

Once the import and preview generation was complete, I put away all of the devices and was able to edit photos as time allowed.  Lightroom 6 has an excellent Tablet Mode for editing which I took extensive use of while laying in bed at the end of the day.

Wrap Up

The combination of the Surface 3’s ability to handle many devices at once and Lightroom’s Smart Previews and Tablet Mode make the Surface 3 an excellent travel companion.

If you’re contemplating a Surface 3 but the Atom processor name worries you, like it did me, fear not.

 

 

Centering a WPF Window in an Outlook 2013 Add-in

I recently came upon the need to show a WPF window in an Outlook add-in, preferably centered on the Outlook window (WindowStartupLocation = CenterInParent).  Easy enough, but without setting Window.Owner, it will appear in an uncontrolled location when calling ShowDialog().

Setting Window.Owner is where things get a little tricky.

Searching online produced a few variations of the theme of using the WindowInteropHelper class in combination with the win32 FindWindow API with the window caption discovered via Reflection.  Yuck.  Surely there’s a better way.

Enter System.Process.  One of the properties of the System.Process class is MainWindowHandle, which Microsoft states:

The main window is the window opened by the process that currently has the focus (the TopLevel form).

Sounds like exactly what I’m looking for.  A quick call to Process.GetCurrentProcess() and we’ve got everything we need.  The final code to show the WPF window is:

Simple as that!

 

Kindle Voyage

Yesterday I received my new Kindle Voyage.

Kindle Voyage

I’ve been a first-gen Paperwhite user since shortly after it was released and I have been nothing but pleased with it.  It was miles ahead of the other Kindles we in the household have owned.

The Voyage is another big step forward.  I was expecting an improvement, obviously, why else would I have upgraded?  What I was not expecting was how much of an improvement it is over that first Paperwhite.

The Screen

And what a beautiful screen it is!  Ultimately, the higher resolution screen is what caused me to pull the trigger on the upgrade.  The Voyage is sitting at 300ppi compared to the predecessor’s 212.  This, combined with the much improved screen contrast, makes the screen look like a printed magazine page.  Incredibly crisp and easy to read.  Texted seemed to get a little fuzzy on the smallest font and line sizes on the Paperwhite – not so with the Voyage.

The Voyage comes with a glass screen, something new to Kindles.  I was afraid this would hurt readability due to glare, but with their technology you can’t even tell there is glass on it when you aren’t touching it.  Nicely done.

The Light

Until upgrading, I didn’t realize the faults of the Paperwhite’s screen.  It lit up, making night reading pleasant.  End of story.

Well, the Voyage’s light can get much brighter (adding to that great contrast) and is distributed so much more evenly across the screen that the Paperwhite’s screen looks rather ugly to me now.

The Speed

I didn’t think I cared too much about the processor speed on my Kindle.  Until I fired up this one, that is.  Menus are very responsive, so much so that I’m actually browsing around the Kindle Store and Goodreads on it now.  Overall navigation is much improved by this.

PagePress

No more moving your hands to swipe/tap the screen to go to the next page!  You still can if you want, but they’ve added pressure-sensitive areas to the screen’s bezel for page navigation.  My only minor complaint is that I wish these glowed just a tiny bit for reading in the dark – at least on my first night I found it a little difficult to locate where to press.

Origami Case

The Amazon-recommended case is called the Origami case, named so due to how the case’s cover can fold up and function as a Kindle stand.  I’ll be honest, I thought it was just a gimmick when I ordered it, but I’ve already found myself folding it up to read hands-free.  The other nice surprise is that the entire case is magnetic: the folds are held magnetically; the cover closes magnetically; and the entire case holds onto the Kindle magnetically.

Overall, a fantastic device and well worth the upgrade.

Ugh: Windows 8, Metro and Desktop

First I’ll say that every PC I use these days is running Windows 8.1.  That’s my home desktop, laptop, Surface RT, and work PC.

Windows 8 is actually very good on the tablet form factor.  It’s fine on PCs if you’re wanting to stick to the new Metro style apps.

But it’s horrible when mixing desktop and Metro apps.  This seems to be compounded further when you’re running a multiple monitor rig.  Since many people complain about Windows 8 in general without offering specifics, I thought I would.

IE Stops Streaming

So here I am doing some work in Visual Studio or Lightroom. I’d like to stream something to listen to and watch, so I fire up Internet Explorer (Metro).  I dock it on the side of a monitor and get back to work.  Everything’s going just fine, I can glance over and catch a peek. It’s really nice.

Until I need to launch another app, that is.  So I hit the Start button to bring up the Start Screen and BAM.  Audio and video pause.  I suspect it’s because MS didn’t add background audio capabilities to IE, but still… it’s EXTREMELY jarring and frustrating.

Metro Apps Disappear

Many times, it’s happening right now actually, I’ll have a couple Metro apps docked but will still be working on the desktop.  As soon as the desktop app gets focus, some (or all) of the docked apps disappear and leave the start screen background color.  That’s it.  So now I just have a gaping hole of blue. If I click on that hole, the Metro app re-appears.  Give focus back to the desktop app and it disappears once again.

I don’t think it’s a driver issue, but then again I’m running all NVidia displays.  Anyone else experience this?

What’s Going to Happen?

When I want to open or close a Metro app, what happens next feels non-deterministic.  I can never guess where an app will open, what will replace the screen when it closes, etc..  On my Surface, my resolution doesn’t support 3 simultaneous running Metro apps, so I get prompted about which to replace. On my desktops, the new app starts full-screen and I have to move it somewhere.  The result is before launching an app I have to pause and recall which machine I’m on so I can prepare for what will happen (or if I should launch it to begin with given the screen/resolution limitations).

Sometimes after closing and app, I expect the Start Screen to re-appear, but it’ll just be replaced with a blank canvas, forcing me to hit the Start button (keyboard or lower left hotspot) to bring the Start Screen back.

And why, oh why, if I’m on the desktop and launch a Metro app am I not taken back to the desktop if I dock that app somewhere? After docking it somewhere, I’m taken back to the Start screen.  I just noticed this happens regardless of the starting point (Desktop or other Metro app).  Don’t make me remember what I was in before launching the new app, just take me right back there.  It’s ridiculous.

Did I Mention Multiple Monitors is just Weird?

Over the course of writing this, I have a situation where I have the desktop showing on one half of my left monitor and one half of the right monitor (full-screen metro app in between).  You can drag a window “behind” the metro apps, to the other sides.  It’s just really strange and unnatural feeling.

What am I Missing?

So these are my main gripes, coming from someone who uses Windows 8 daily and in multiple form factors.  Hopefully more is done to fix these in upcoming releases, but I’m not holding my breath.

Anyone have any other specific complaints?

 

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.