Sunday, July 14, 2019

Amazon Echo Show 5

I've been searching for a modern replacement for my wife's clock radio. It is a Timex and is so old that the programming for the dates for Daylight Saving Time are wrong!

Her requirements are fairly simple. Tell the time. Play the radio.

I had tried an Amazon Echo Spot. Close but no cigar.

Recently Amazon announced the Amazon Echo Show 5. That seemed worth trying.

She's comfortable with that.

radio.com almost made it a no go. She listens to FM 100. radio.com recently moved all its streaming to its own web service. Amazon has not (yet) included radio.com in its streaming providers supported by Echo routines.

What this means is that you can't create an Echo routine to start playing FM 100. You have to speak a command to the Echo to play FM 100. Worse yet, radio.com apparently has more than one FM 100.

To get the Echo to play FM 100 you have to say "Alexa, play FM 100 Memphis." And with our deep Southern accent, the Echo sometimes confuses "Memphis" with "minutes."

I created a routine to walk her through that.


We still struggle with the command syntax. As an example it would seem that if you start playing FM 100 by saying "Alexa, play FM 100 Memphis" that to stop it you would say "Alexa, stop playing FM 100 Memphis."

Nope. You have to say "Alexa, stop."

We're learning.

Here's a good review on the Amazon Echo Show 5.

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Android Q Beta 4

Somebody's gotta test this stuff. Might as well be me.

My Essential PH-1 has gotten a little banged up. I don't use a case and it shows. 2 corners are scratched up and there's a little crack of the screen on one of those corners.

I still love the PH-1 so I shopped for a replacement. I found one on swappa.com and got it.

As long as I'm going to reload everything why not just put a beta operating system on it? What could go wrong?


Pretty much nothing.

I haven't found much different in Android Q. The biggest change I've seen is the gesture navigation. This is a lot like the iPhone X's interface. Swipe up from the bottom to go home. Swipe in from the left or right to go back.

But...

Swiping in from the left is normally how you activate the "hamburger" menu. So I just don't do that.

Alternatively you can go back by swiping in from the right. That doesn't activate the "hamburger" menu but you have to be very deliberate to avoid the active app from sending a swipe on a menu item, e.g. delete a podcast in Pocket Casts.

The other gesture I've struggled with is to get the app list. The story is that you swipe up from the bottom part of the way and then stop. The app list will slide in from the left.

That has been difficult to execute dependably. Maybe Google will change that before the final release of Android Q.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Windows 10 1903 Network Icon

More head-shaking here. After the discussion on Windows 10 1903 Explorer Icon, I've come across another one.

Do you remember the color-coded network icons? They had red Xs or yellow !s indicating problems with network connectivity.


In 1903 these have been replaced with a single icon that doesn't have the highlighting colors.


From Howtoconnect:
New disconnected network icon on Windows 10 taskbar
Windows 10 1903 will replace the disconnected network icon on Windows 10 taskbar. Not connected icon will appear for all types of networks whether it is WiFi, Cellular, or Ethernet. This new visual should help you quickly recognize network problems so that you can take action to resolve them. You used to see either a red cross or yellow exclamation mark for the same till Windows 10 version 1809.
Seems like a step backward to me.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Windows 10 1903 ThinkPad Monitor Driver

I'm a HUGE ThinkPad fan. When I updated my X250 to Windows 10 1903 one of the few problems I had was that when the screen would turn off after not using the laptop, it wouldn't turn back on when you began using the laptop again.

You could tell that the laptop was working. The power light was on, Sometimes you could hear the fan running. It would even beep if you (blindly) clicked on something wrong.

Thankfully I have the Power button set to hibernate when pressed. I could hibernate and then resume and the display would come back on.

Still pretty irritating.

I had gone to the Device Manager and checked the driver for the display adapter. It was current with Lenovo's guidance.

Then while still in the Device Manager I checked the driver for the monitor. It was back-level and "Update driver" loaded a new one from Lenovo.


Seems to be fixed.

While on this quest I came across this workaround:
Solution 5 - Use a keyboard shortcut to restart the graphics driver
Now, this isn’t a solution but might act as a proper workaround until you resolve the issue completely. Maybe with one of the provided solutions or some of the future Windows updates address this. Either way, there’s a black screen and you can’t do a thing besides physically powering off your PC and starting it again. However, there’s a once keyword combination which will, when utilized, restart the graphics driver and the screen might just turn on.
This helped some HP users who were plagued by the same issue. The combination you should try out is Windows key + Ctrl + Shift + B. It’ll automatically restart the graphics driver and the screen should turn on from the Sleep mode.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Windows 10 1903 Explorer Icon

Sometimes you just have to shake your head.

With all the opportunities/problems in Windows here's an excerpt from Microsoft's post on Windows 10 1903.


Yes, Microsoft spent time updating the icon for File Explorer. If you can't tell the difference, I've included bigger images below.

Before

After

SMH

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Windows 10 1903 Explorer Windows

Recent versions of Windows 10 have had a new capability buried deep in an options menu. This capability was to launch folder windows in a separate process.

So what does that mean to you? Have you ever had an Explorer window stop responding, e.g. a network link that has gone offline.

Sure you could right click on the taskbar icon and select "Close window".

If you've ever done that you immediately regretted it.

That caused the entire Windows desktop and taskbar to restart and everything gets jumbled up.

With the new capability, each instance of Explorer has its own process. So if you force it closed the scope is just that instance. Your desktop and taskbar are undisturbed.

Some articles about Windows 10 1903 say that this is now the default. I didn't find that true on my laptop which I upgraded in place.

To check the status open an Explorer window. Select View then Options.



In the new dialog choose View. Scroll down to "Launch folder windows in a separate process" and check it.


Click on "Apply" and you're done.

Sunday, June 02, 2019

Windows 10 1903 Tamper Protection

If you're running Windows 10 Pro (and you should be) after you upgrade to Windows 10 May 2019 (Version 1903) you'll have a neat new feature that I haven't seen discussed anywhere.

Windows 10 1903 introduces Tamper Protection. Microsoft's support article is here.


Tamper Protection helps prevent malicious apps from changing important Windows Defender Antivirus settings.

Microsoft's page says "Tamper Protection is turned on by default." I didn't find that true.

To turn it on follow these steps:
  1. In the search box on the taskbar, type "Windows Security" and then select Windows Security in the list of results.
  2. In Windows Security, select "Virus & threat protection" and then under Virus & threat protection settings, select "Manage settings".
  3. Change the Tamper Protection setting to "On".
Enjoy.