I’m actually happy with Win10.

There are several ways you can make Windows 10 more bearable/comfortable.

I like the start screen because I’ve organized mine: got rid of everything MS had put on it and just put my stuff in groups that make sense to me. It’s essentially just like most people used to have their desktops but with some structure to it.

If you have it set to be a start menu, that might be annoying. I would encourage you to instead get Stardock or something and give yourself a win7 program menu.

Tip #1 – Start -> Search
Pressing the Windows key or clicking Start opens the menu/screen but it also opens an input box. This isn’t always obvious to everyone. You don’t have to click anything at this point – just type, and it will search for what you’re typing.

e.g Hit Start and type cmd.

Tip #2 – Start +
Few people know that you can access the items on your taskbar based on their position. My left-most icon is my browser, and I can launch it with the keyboard by pressing Windows+1. The next icon is my email, that’s Windows+2. The third is Windows explorer, that’s Windows+3. And so on.

Tip #3 – Hidden taskbar, crouching start.
I keep my taskbar auto-hidden for a little extra screen space, and the annoyance of having to mouse for it is gone for me now because pressing Start brings it up along with the Start menu/screen.

Tip #4 – Pin
Tap Start and type calc. The top entry will be “Calculator”. Right-click on it. Your options will include Pin (or unpin)to Start, and Pin(or unpin) to Taskbar. If you have the option to Pin to Start go ahead and do it. Then try moving the tile to someplace you’d like.

Try right-clicking the tile and see what your options are.

Most things that have icons – from Control Panel to Folders can be pinned to the Start Menu or Task Bar. Have folders hidden 300 deep somewhere? Pin ’em.

I use a combination of things pinned to the Taskbar (for Tip #2) and everything else pinned to the start menu.

The beauty of this: My desktop now has very little stuff on it – a few folders organizing data, files, etc. I actually keep urgent bookmarks on the right side of my screen – something I couldn’t do before because of clutter.

The taskbar is less cluttered, just stuff I want to access with a Windows key and develop muscle memory for.

Everything else is nicely grouped and organized on the Start Menu.

As much as I hate live tiles, I actually make use of several of them on the left-most side: News, Weather, Mail, and Photos. These form a great little change-of-context summary if I want to look to the top left of my screen when pressing the button, and I ignore them otherwise.

Tip #5 – Windows Keys
There are a whole bunch of things that I’ve learned have Windows Keys associated with them, that I make heavy use of.

My favorites:

  Windows + D => hide windows and show Desktop
  Windows + H => screensHot + sHare this window (!!!)
  Windows + I => Settings
  Windows + R => Start -> Run
  Windows + S => [Cortana] Search
  Windows + W => Windows Workspace (checkout Screen Sketch!)

Misc/useful ones:

  Windows + A => Action Center
  Windows + E => Explorer
  Windows + G => Game Bar (when a game is running)
  Windows + L => Lock (avoid pressing if you don't know your password)
  Windows + T => Cycle thru taskbar items
  Windows + U => Accessibility options
  Windows + X => Alternate Start Menu

Landmark cancelled

Daybreak just announced cancellation of EverQuest: Landmark. This is part 2 of the death of EverQuest Next.

 

The idea was that EQ:N would have a voxel-based world (like Minecraft) where the buildings and terrain were destructible. I figure this requires such a radical change in the art pipeline that they built the engine early, and it just naturally lent itself to a sort of EQ:Minecraft which they went on to reveal as EverQuest:Landmark. The PR behind this was that the community would have chance to experience it and to provide feedback to the tools, and to contribute designs and buildings that would eventually become part of EQ:Next.

It always struck me as a bit insanely ambitious for an MMO; flash backs to the landmines EQ1 discovered that most modern MMO players don’t know about. Griefing factor 11 much?

Landmark was cute. I can’t speak to how the game has shaped up because we stopped playing it a long time ago. You probably have to have some passion for 3D art to enjoy it – not even Meg’s decorating/housing stuff was enough to get past dealing with the controls.

When they announced the cancellation of EQ:N, I couldn’t see a long future for EQ:L. You really have to be good and/or lucky to release your game more than once, including beta and alpha. There are many more dead fish in the MMO/online game sea than there are successful, thriving ones, and running your game in beta/open-beta can be a real risk. Plenty of potentially good MMOs disappeared into obscurity because of unsuccessful beta runs, with a team slaving away under the impression that “it’s just beta”.

The days when the internet was populated by geeks who actually gut-understood “beta” are long gone. Today’s players treat a “beta” the same way that restaurant goers understand a “Grand Opening”… Launch accordingly.

Alexa addendum

The other day I gave Amazon a hard time for the difficulty of extending Alexa for your own in-house needs. Well, “skills” are actually more accessible than I thought and there are some tutorials – setup … something … in “under an hour“,  or write a controller with “python with flask-ask“.

That brings it a lot closer to being in the hands of the lay-maker, but the setup on Amazon’s side leaves things in a state that will probably result in much sloppiness. I’m also not clear, yet, whether you are limited to “tell” and “ask” directives or if you can create first-class Alexa commands with it.

Going to get a hub and some lights today, get that working, and then some time this week I’ll see if I can implement “Alexa, open Notepad”.