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.
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!)
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
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.
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”.
Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon are all competing in the digital assistant field. There are pros and cons to each. Yesterday I received an Amazon Echo Dot (2nd gen) and I’ve been dabbling with it. So far Alexa reminds me more of the command-driven voice apps I tinkered with on the CBM Amiga decades ago than she does of Hal, but there is promising progress.
You’ve heard me rant about Cortana, I don’t have a Siri to tinker with and while I’ve had a highly positive experience with Google’s voice recog, for some reason I just haven’t used it in anger – I’ll try and remedy that in the next week or so.
But having the discrete device like this finally gave form to the notion that’s been percolating in the back of my head this last year or so of watching the assistants emerge: Makers.
One of these assistants needs to cross the bridge for home enthusiasts that empowers them to interact with their devices and applications in their terms.
I should be able to rustle up a few dozen lines of code and create my own little agent that transforms into a feature of my assistant exclusive to me and my ecosystem. Once I can do that, someone will build tools to make it easier and more accessible for idea people who aren’t interested in learning to program.
The problem is that to thrive, it’s going to have to be open. Hold your horses there, I’m not anti-proprietary, I’m just stating this simple fact. Apple and Siri aren’t contenders because the winner is going to be enabling a farmer who got his kids to write a raspberry-pi controller to check on his irrigation system from 10 miles away.
I don’t see Alexa being the winner, because her value in is selling Amazon Prime and Amazon Prime Music subscriptions. I suspect anything beyond that is gravy of the cold, lumpy kind from an Amazon perspective, but I’m happy to be proven wrong.
That leaves Google and Cortana.
Google sells advertising, but they have a history of open APIs. Bringing makers into the fold and enabling personalization has all kinds of value potential to Google, starting with bringing you into the android fold, disinsentivizing you from using Apple or Amazon, etc.
Microsoft is built on the success of open architecture and they’re making a large push to support IoT stuff, so this would be a return to roots for Microsoft that could really make WinIoT attractive, so long as they can manage to focus on the role of a driver and not try to restrict it to “must run on Windows”.
There is one more potential contender, though: Facebook.
Mark has shown an interest in exactly this kind of field with Jarvis. They’ve invested a lot in AI, they like releasing the stuff they build into the community. Their mission statement is “to make the world more open and connected”. This notion fits in with the ideas behind Facebook’s internet.org…
It’s not that it’s currently impossible to do these things, but there’s a huge barrier to entry. For example, the simple task of turning on (or off) my PC? Voice control is largely going to be about inter-action; set the heating in another room, check on the house while you’re away, remind me of something in 30 minutes when I might be in a different room or building or vehicle…
(*Edit: You can actually build your own Alexa skills. But it’s definitely not entry-level stuff)
As far as I know, my Xbox One has been turned off for a couple of months – standby maybe. Not even using it for it’s entertainment features: the handful of apps we use run better on our smart tv. We’d tried putting the comcast cable output thru the xbox -> the tv, which was ok for live tv, but completely broke down when faced with us trying to use our “DVR service”. I forget the details, but plugging the cable box directly into the TV and putting the Xbox on HDMI 2 made my life easier.
Sure, you can say “Xbox on” (or “Hey cortana, turn on” as it is now), and it turns on the xbox and the tv, but it doesn’t switch input sources, which means using the remote. It’s a trivial thing but it’s one that makes you not bother saying “Hey cortana, turn on” or reaching for and fiddling with the xbox controller and the tv remote – when I can just pick up the tv remote and press one button to power it on and a second button to start netflix/amazon/youtubve/etc. The TV wins at this game.
I wanted to know if the xbox had a fix for the source-switching yet, so I powered it up. I tried a few Cortana commands and a search, and all I could find was a low-voted xbox live thread complaining that the xbox can’t switch sources.
The Xbox1 UI has definitely changed a lot since I was actively using it, I couldn’t find jack. I was trying to find a way to play music or videos from my local network, and it turns out the Xbox doesn’t come with a media player by default – you have to install one. After that, it did OK playing the videos although I’m pretty sure I wasn’t getting 4K.
But then I tried browsing the store. I tried to use Cortana to navigate but – well, forget that. “Do you want me to search for that?”, I reply “No” and cortana hears “now” and goes off and searches for “now”.
So I tried “Hey cortana, open cortana settings”, and up popped Khan Academy. Ugh!
Parts of the Cortana UI appear from time to time, but I couldn’t find a way to actually open the cortana ui with the notebook etc, so I couldn’t find any kind of way to do some voice training with Cortana. She’s *incredibly* unhelpful on the Xbox – but that’s maybe because I’m not using a headset.
During my attempts to browse the Apps and Games stores, I was continually frustrated by a lack of responsiveness in the UI. I eliminated it being the controller or it’s connection, it just seemed to be the UI being really sluggish.
Then there was the weird stuff like “Game Clips” for Elder Scrolls where it’s just a guy telling you to go into power settings and do something with power saving mode so your Xbox doesn’t explode. The video buffered every few seconds, despite the Xbox claiming it was getting 60Mb/s speeds. *Shrug*
So I went into Network Settings and noticed a “Bandwidth Statistics” option. I selected it.
Apparently: the Xbox can only take screenshots of games, you can’t take screenshots of things like … settings.
According to the Xbox, it has used 1.2GB of bandwidth in November and 13GB of bandwidth in October.
Which is odd, because, as I said, it’s been off for the last two months. Unlike other editions of Windows, there didn’t seem to be a way to get a break down of how the bandwidth was used…
I tried a few more experiments with Xborktana, until it started to annoy me, and decided that the UI is just as unhelpful and unpleasant.
Is there some secret plan by Microsoft to kill off the Xbox One by making its users give up?
(* I say “DVR service” in quotes because it doesn’t appear to be an actual DVR where you record a local copy of shows onto your device, they appear to be on-demand streamed such that you can’t watch the content if your cable or the service has problems, it can take several seconds to respond to remote inputs like pause or rewind, etc)
Siri, Alexa, Google Home/Now, Cortana… One thing none of those links gave you was the ability to use the assistant from your web-browser. You have to install the right app for a specific ecosystem on specific hardware :(
A family household is likely to be a complicated device-ecosystem, a typical house is going to have TVs, computers or laptops, tablets or pads, phones, music and/or game systems.
I want you to try role-playing this scenario, ideally sitting down.
You have a household assistant, you can ask it who is at the door, get it to place phone/skype calls, change the tv channels, play music… You just have to say “Hey house” and the command you want.
Ok. It’s cold. Ask the house to “turn up the heat”.
“Hey house: turn up the heat”.
Great. The room starts to warm up.
Now, you can go back to reading on your tablet/laptop/phone this great news that your bank noticed it hasn’t been paying you interest and you’ll see a $1,000 deposit from them in your account tomorrow. There has to be a catch, or some small print, right? But it’s a bit dark and you can’t read the screen. There are no brightness controls on this thing, you have to ask the house to raise the brightness on the display.
Go ahead. Ask.
Travel facilities, quest simplification, loot retooling, mechanic changes, etc, have all been tuned to reduce friction of rapid leveling – but they have achieved a system that satisfies nobody.
Playing Old-WoW has been reduced to playing a slot machine that gives you a quarter back for every 4 spins of the wheels. It’s just there to distract you until the main show.
The reward-set for the starting quest hub in each leveling zone is un-special, and the pacing is such that you’re out-leveling the quests before you’ve finished the first gear set. At this stage, you need to fight yellow/orange mobs to get off more than 2-3 attacks, and you know that if you just went to the next zone you’d be having more interesting fights with better gear.
Crafting items during this phase are essentially pointless since if you try to gather the materials to make something useful, you’ll either get a better random-drop while you’re or out-level the item from bonus exp/etc while you’re working on it.
Despite all this, with 100 levels to reach end-game content, leveling is still. too. slow.
So now the majority of WoW’s legacy content is unpleasant either way:
. Nothing lives long enough for you to develop a “rotation” or learn the deep mechanics of your class,
. Progress rate eliminates value in rewards, drops and crafted items,
. Progress rate eliminates value in interacting with the lore you are traversing,
. Travel access decouples you from rich environs lore is set in,
. Zones have been reduced to quest hub sequences making gameplay dependent on travel access – WoW today feels more like SWGs early mission system than the rich questing experience of the release game,
– Compare with Suramar!
. Exploration is made pointless,
. Progress rate makes zone-completion counter-productive,
. Many zones/quest lines handle co-operation poorly,
. Progress gating makes it counter-productive to group up since you are still limited to content tagged level-appropriate,
– Misses out on opportunity for guilds to put together “hard mode” levelling groups that could race through content above their level for faster exp turn around and more challenge,
. Crafting is largely pointless: the time (and bonus exp) it takes to gather your materials often sees you out-level any item that would be useful,
. Lack of useful crafting/drops makes interaction at these levels (e.g auction house, crafting, etc) largely pointless
I posit that we need to use different levers and switches to allow rapid character progression and try to restore leveling to a more vanilla pace and character:
. Make it easier to get heirloom gear,
. Add bigger exp bonuses to heirloom gear,
. Target dungeons and raids for power-leveling,
. Dial-back the progress rate of world questing, leverage the “Chapter’s” concept seen in Legion and perhaps a “Lore” counter two; progress bars are awesome,
. Dial-back the stats across loot drops in world questing,
– Re-add some challenge to leveling,
– Re-add some value to crafted items,
– Re-add some value to rewards,
– Re-add some scope for stat tinkering during leveling,
. Tune up the difficulty of world questing mob encounters by 5-50% for longer fights and more opportunity to experiment with your skills, stats, etc,
. Re-factor some of the world-questing story-lines so that you come back to places more often:
– Currently you do 3-4 quests for “Jim” in “A town” who sends you for 3-4 quests with “Sue” in “B town” who … next zone,
– Originally you’d go back to “A town” to see if new quests had opened up; this largely went away to speed up progression rate,
– Gives you more reason to be involved in the area and designers chance to give an npc richness that might endure longer,
The goal, then, is to allow recapturing some of the richness of playing and developing *a character*. If you want to kick-back and roam the hills, slowly gathering bear pelts, take off your heirloom gear and have at it. But if you just want to be a healer for your raiding group and need to get it done, throw on your heirloom gear, run a bunch of dungeons or maybe a couple of raid instances, and you’ll be set.
I think it might also be a good idea to consider allowing a *free* choice of starting a toon at Wrath or BC.
A few days ago, Windows bamboozled me. A little pop-up appeared (grr, and stole focus): “If you tell me which teams you like – or don’t – I can tell you how they are doing”. My third thought(*1) was “who is this message from?!”