Jan 16, 2018

Multiple desktops in Windows 10

I know Linux and Mac users have been using multiple desktops for ages. I know people like my sister and husband, who surf between five to ten desktops with ease. I'm not one of those. I don't even like to use two monitors. I need focus. I need to have everything I need visible to me one way or the other at all times. That's why I have a dozen tabs open in browsers, multiple browsers open at the same time, current work open in app windows that I don't close after work.

You can probably guess that I was not one of the early adapters of multi desktop when Windows (finally, if you ask many) got it. It took me quite some time to brew the idea in my head that I could use more than one desktop. Then one day I did it. I divided my stuff to two desktops: personal and work.

This is a really nice divide, since I use the same laptop for work and personal stuff. When I work, my personal stuff is invisible, and when I'm off work, my work stuff is invisible. Well, mostly, since new email icon does show on Outlook icon on the taskbar even on the other desktop.


While I definitely like this new way of managing my apps and browsers etc. there are things that I wish would improve.
  1. When the laptop reboots itself due to an update, it would be totally awesome, if the apps and windows would actually open to the same desktop they were on before, instead of going all haywire.
  2. When I launch an app, say new OneNote window or open a Word document from Windows Explorer, it would be awesome if the app window would open to the desktop I'm on, instead of opening to the other one (when I might have the app open there for a different purpose).
  3. When I click on a link in an email, it would be awesome if the webpage would open to the browser instance open in that same desktop instead of switching to the same browser (but original instance, I guess) on the other desktop.
You get the drift? It think in short one could say that the desktop awareness in Windows  is not very good. Things should be executed on the desktop the user is using, not some other one simply because the same app was originally registered there. 

Of course all of this is repairable, but moving windows from desktop to the other every time I launch something gets kinda old. I would imagine Microsoft developers could do something to insulate the desktops better and prevent this highly annoying cross-launching.

Dec 22, 2017

Bye bye TeleWell TW-EAV510, Welcome tp-link TD-W9970 & F-Secure Sense

I'll have to say that these things like WiFis and DSLs and stuffs are sometimes way complicated. Of course, it's partly up to you, as to how complicated things need to be, but still.

Our VDSL modem fried a few weeks ago, when my husband accidentally spilled a wine glass on top of it (don't ask). We bought a used (maybe, or maybe not) TeleWell TW-EAV510 as it happened to be readily available, and tried to cofigure it into our use. It did not exactly go very well.

After both I and my network architect husband had tried fiddling with the device for hours on three separate occasions, with and without some (outdated) instructions (we did google it), I threw my hands in the air with a frustrated: "How do normal people ever get their WiFi's working, when two IT pros can't do it?"

My husband answered, very rationally: "Well, normal people don't have a static IP. Their modems work with default settings they fetch from the ISP provider." Yeah. So, possibly - just possibly - that darn TeleWell might've worked if we weren't nerds with a static IP. Own fault. Still we should've been able to configure the damned thing.

So, we gave up and when we got our F-Secure Sense, we also got the cheapest DSL modem in the local nerdy store (verkkokauppa.com), a tp-link TD-W9970. It took us all of 5 minutes to configure it. Five. Minutes. Eat that, TeleWell!

TeleWell is a Finnish company and that kind of adds to the disappointment. Usually you can pretty well rely on Finnish technology, especially when it comes to interneting, but this TeleWell device deserves a code red warning blinker on it.

Trying to configure this device is sheer waste of time! *blink blink*

Once our modem was up and running, it was time to configure the F-Secure Sense. My husband had already once started it, but note: have your modem and Internet connection running and Sense hooked up to it (if using LAN cable) before even strating the configuration wizard. How many times is that an issue, I don't know, but we needed to reset the Sense after the config wizard hung since we didn't have the Internet connection when husband first was going through the wizard.

Configuring the Sense (once it was reset and we coud just start all over again) was straightforward and easy. It, too, was completed in no time at all. My only disappointment was that only one device at a time can be used to manage the Sense. So since it's connected to my husband's iPhone, I'm not able to manage it from mine. Probably it doesn't matter really, but I am a little curious about the device and would like to follow the stats etc. at least in the beginning.

So, now we are protected by the Sense. I have noticed slight glitches in my matrix after hooking it up. My Skype for Business was giving some server connection messages in the morning (then again, it could've been an issue with the customer's Skype server; they said they had some issues today). Also, my Chrome freezes occasionally for half a minute or so. Can have something to do with the Sense trackings or maybe not. Hard to tell.


Mar 3, 2017

Commodity lenses for mobile phones


I have a rather nice, if old, Samsung camera. It weighs a kilo and has a long adjustable lense that cannot be changed. It takes quite ok photos, though the macro is hardly macro at all. I don't like to carry the camera along on trips and hikes etc. so lately I've either borrowed my teen's small but excellent Nicon or made do with the iPhone camera.

Some time ago I learned about these extra lenses you can get for your cellphone camera. I even tried a few, that my co-worker had bought and brought to the office to show them to us. A few weeks ago I finally decided, on a whim as usual, to order some lenses from Amazon. I got a 12X Optical Phone Camera Lens with Tripod and a CamKix Universal 3 in 1 Camera Lens Kit. Yes, I got them separately, because at first I only was going to buy the zoom lense, and only later decided on the lense kit.

The main things I have come to understand about the lenses are

  • the macro lense rocks
  • the 12x zoom lense is no good without the tripod or with a target that moves even a hair
  • daylight is a must
  • they will never replace the mentioned Samsung/Nicon cameras, because setting them on the phone camera is not exactly easy to do on the fly
This said, I'm not sorry I bought them, especially the macro lense and the 12x zoom, which I believe will prove to be excellent for certain types of photoshoots. The picture quality is rather good for a phone camera + small lense combo. Yet, on a hike or trip, I fear I will still be carrying a separate camera.

In the case of cameras and lenses, I guess pictures tell the story better than a thousand words.

12x zoom lense. Littlest Pet Shop photoshoot. Photoshopped ever so slightly: simply adjusted the levels and curves a bit (winter photography...).

12x zoom lense. Littlest Pet Shop photoshoot. Photoshopped ever so slightly: simply adjusted the levels and curves a bit. Taken without the tripod, actually.

12x zoom lense. Taken with tripod, slightly moving objects.

Macro lense. Thyme leaf (width approx. 5mm). Daylight, but taken inside the house.

Wide angle lense (top) vs. phone cam without any extra lense (bottom). Poor daylight inside the house, levels and curves adjusted slightly in Photoshop.

Fish eye lense. Don't really know what to do with that one...

Sep 8, 2016

AirPlay on PC

My (slight) struggles with my unholy alliance of iPhone SE and a Win10 laptop continue. This time my issue was AirPlay for Windows. Tomorrow I demo Nintex Mobile App at a customer and, well, since it is a mobile app, it would be quite essential to be able to show my phone screen to them. Since you can hardly have a meeting room full of people all gather around you to gape at the small phone screen, I started looking for the best way to mirror my phone on the laptop screen.

Now AirPlay is simple enough (*cough* not *cough*) when you are in an Apple device wonderland, like you airplay to a MacBook or AppleTV etc. And really it is usually quite straightforward, unless you try to do things like control the AppleTV vie AirPlay etc. But PC? You need an app, of course.

Simple googling reveals that there are plenty of Win apps for this purpose available. Starting with the free and simple LonelyScreen, ending in slightly costly (in my opinion, for my random needs) apps like the Mirroring360 and the Apowersoft Phone Manager, which I tried and found a bit too complicated to my taste. It said something about updating iTunes and connecting the phone with a cable etc. and I lost interest.

Tech iOS World ranks the LonelyScreen best of the PC mirroring apps. From my short experience and trial and error of all of two apps, I'd say I agree. Simple enough, strictly to the point, easy to use, no extra hokum it most definitely seemed to suit my purposes the best. My only problem was that my phone would not show the AirPlay option no matter what I tried.

My phone and laptop were on the same network.
I rebooted my phone AND my laptop.
My phone IS up to date software-wize.
I allowed LonelyScreen access through the firewall. 
I even disconnected the Direct Access (well, actually, the disconnect doesn't work for me, so I stopped the whole service, but anyhow...).

I was getting desperate. How can stuffs just always be so darned difficult?! Finally, as my last straw, I turned on the personal hotspot on my phone and connected my Windows to the Internet using the hotspot. And - TA-DAA! - AirPlay appeared on my phone!


My conclusion? LonelyScreen works like a train's toilet (A Finnish idiom that I just chose to use here, don't ask) and is exactly as good and simple as expected. However, I believe our home network is just too complicated what with all of our own firewalls etc. in between everything. That's what you get in a geeky household. Anyway, I'm actually really glad it works with this hotspot, since that is the way I most probably will be using it tomorrow at the customer's.

Aug 22, 2016

Quick time frustration

They say business is dirty. They say Microsoft doesn't play nice with other kids. They say Apple is such a charming son-in-law and practically a saint. They say with Apple, things just work. Oh yeah.

Last spring I did some careful consideration about my phone options. As I then wrote, I ended up getting my very first iPhone and up until this moment, this morning, I have not regretted. Right now, however, I couldn't be much angrier at a faceless corporation than I am at Apple.

Apple is notorious for going it's own way - as is Microsoft, but when MS does it, it's called nasty behavior and when Apple does it, it's called ingenious pioneerism - and right now, today, my unholy matrimony of an iPhone and a Win10 PC is seriously frustrating me.

One word: mov.

I mean, seriously! Why can't Apple devices record videos in mp4? Or at least provide a safe software for converting them so that I can actually use the videos, e.g. edit and combine in Camtasia Studio etc?

First, Camtasia informed me that Quicktime is required in order to use .mov files. After a lengthy search, I finally found the Quicktime download for Win10 and regardless of multiple posts about how it doesn't install on Win10, it actually did. I was able to import the .mov files to Camtasia now, but did they work? Noo-o-oo! The application crashed after fruitlessly trying to play one of the three videos and won't even launch anymore.

I decided to resort to money, but apparently my money is not good enough for Apple. Futilely I searched and searched the interwebs and clicked the Buy Quicktime Pro in the Quicktime and whatnot but could not find a place to buy me a registration code. Finally I stumbled to a page where someone had asked this very question and received the frustrating answer: no can do, it is discontinued (for Windows).

Really? Really, now?! What are my options here now? Upload unedited videos only, straight to Youtube? Take my chances with a free converter (they scare me because most of them are adware at best and malware at normal)? Forget about videos?

I have always likes still photos better anyway. Sometimes, however, videos would be the way to go, but apparently I'm back to the stoneages with my combo of an iPhone and Win10. Thanks, Apple.

Apr 25, 2016

iPhone SE and iOs9

Alas, so came the day that I the Windows girl gave in and got an iPhone. My Lumia 820 - old enough to have the Nokia logo! - was starting to be a rather ancient phone with all sorts of data connection issues constantly. I was long hoping to get a Lumia 950, but when people were telling me how it rebooted itself at least once a day and whatnot, I slowly but surely turned my attention to iPhones. With a sigh.

Today I got a brand new Rose Gold (oh yes, the color is of great significance!) iPhone SE 64GB. Naturally I have been fiddling with it ever since. It is nice and shiny and I like it very much - as my readers know, I'm not a total stranger to iOs, having had the iPad2 for many years already (many enough, that IT is starting to feel ancient and outdated, like, heavily) - but there are some buts. Always.

First of, let it be stated that I still like the WinPhone GUI better. What can I say? I just think it's nicer than the i or Android.

That said, there are things that I absolutely love about my new phone! For one, the camera. Way better than the one in my old Lumia (so ok, the new Lumias have good cameras too). I like that there actually are the apps available, you know. I absolutely love the fingerprint unlock. And, well, new is always new :)

I did have some déjà vu experiences today where it comes to the aggravating iOs issues too. Mainly, photo syncing. iCloud almost works. It almost uploads photos (requires wifi, which is stupid in a country like Finland where phone data is not restricted but e.g. our home internet connection is way slower than my 4g). It almost syncs the photos to the Windows iCloud app. At least it did for the first half an hour. You see where this is going?

I cleaned my Dropbox folders from photos that were just lingering there, old photos from years ago, all of which I already have on my hard drive, and turned on camera uploads to Dropbox. Works. With cellular data too (though not necessarily immediately like the OneDrive photosync... meh...)

One thing I was kinda surprised about is the lack of the 3D touch on the SE. My husband has an iPhone 6s and he had talked about this feature. Not that I actually necessarily was missing it, but I would have expected to have it on this newer (hardware-wize similar) phone.

All in all, so far iPhone SE is getting 4,5 stars from me. I like the light (116g) compact size (even though the screen is smaller than what I was used to with the Lumia 820); there's really nothing not to like. Oh, except that I had to reboot it two or three times today when AppStore wasn't able to download apps. Hmm.

P.S. Since I have a track record of breaking the screens of my phones, I immediately went to the the local Apple Store and bought a protective clear silicone case and glass screen protector.


Nov 11, 2015

Mirror mirror in the phone...

I was driving this morning in the rush hour traffic with my youngest daughter, when she dug her mascara out of her pocket and exclaimed: "I almost forgot! I had time for only one eye at home, need to swipe some mascara on the other one too." Then she opened the mirror on the window shade, but immediately dismissed it as inconvenient and started to fiddle with her phone.

"Do you have a mirror app there?" I asked her, halfway joking. "Duh! Camera!" was the answer, like only teens can, immediately making me feel stupid and old. "Um, righ, yeah. How stupid of me."

Just out of boredom, sitting there in the non-moving traffic, I took out my Lumia, opened the app store and typed in "mirror". To my astonishment there actually was a loooong list of mirror apps! I mean, I had already laughed at myself for forgetting that the front camera was a (im)perfect mirror indeed, but apparently a whole lot of app makers had had the same vanity thought of having a mirror app in the phone.

Just out of curiosity I installed the first one on the list, a free mirror app, and tried it. So I saw my face on the screen, the app using the front camera I assume (what would the option be anyway? a reflecting blank screen?). So now I have a mirror app in my Lumia. Never has my reflection been as grainy as it is in this mirror ;) The Lumia820 front camera is pretty sucky.