Sunday, 13 October 2013

WeTransfer Job Ad

I like using WeTransfer to transfer things that don't fit in emails, mainly because the site is fast, has a large upload limit (2GB!) and is easy to use (no registrations required!). It seems like their main business model involves showing advertisements in the background picture of the page. This spot makes a lot of sense due to the fact that people are likely going to keep the page open for at least a few seconds as they upload/download things.

However, a particular advertisement that I saw recently caught my eye (click on the image to make it bigger):

Pretty clever way of getting people to apply I must say!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

iPhone Searching... No Service/No Reception Problem

Short answer: Turn of iMessages and try sending a text message to yourself to see if you get your network connection back.

This problem was so frustrating that I just had to make a post about how I managed to fix it. Today evening, all of a sudden someone iMessaged me and told me that they were unable to call me. I looked at my phone and saw that my phone said "No Service". I still had a wifi connection though. Peculiar.

My first reaction was to go to settings and put the phone in Airplane mode and turn on the radios back again. However, that didn't do much. I then went to Cellular settings and turned 3G on and Off. That too didn't do anything, still it said Searching... No service.

I then rebooted my phone, several times, and that too yielded no result. I then tried Resetting my network options and rebooted my phone again to see if I got my network connection back. Nope. I really didn't want to spend the time restoring my phone!

Finally, I remembered that the last message that I got from someone was a text message. So I figured that I should probably turn off my iMessage and try sending a text message to myself and see if that works. Somehow, as though it was magic, the iPhone got full reception and I started receiving text messages that were sent to me hours ago. All seems to be working well now.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Review of ActualMultipleMonitors from Actual Tools in Windows 8

I was recently contacted by Actual Tools and they asked me to try out their newest version of Actual Multiple Monitors. It is a tool that provides you with taskbars on all of your monitors, ability to move windows around between monitors quickly and ability to customize the wallpapers and settings for each monitor individually. Being a fan of multiple monitors, and actually having used AMM in the past, I couldn't resist the urge to try it out on Windows 8.

Let me start off by saying that multiple monitors are pretty essential if you tend to spend a lot of time on your computer creating content and reading a lot of content. For instance, if you're coding something you can have your text editor on one monitor and the running application on another. Or, you may prefer to have one screen dedicated to just emails and another one for writing. Either way, you'll be able to look at more content without having to minimize, maximize or move windows around as much, saving precious time and effort. 

One little problem with previous versions of windows (every version before Windows 8) was that it did not come with any built in tools to manage more than one monitor. If you wanted to have a taskbar on your secondary monitor, you would have to resort to a third party application. This was probably the main reason tools like Actual Multiple Monitor were created, because having a taskbar on every monitor and ability to assign a shortcut to move windows to another monitor makes things so much easier. With the Windows 8 desktop mode, however, you get a taskbar on each monitor by default.

Here's what my desktop looked like before Actual Multiple Monitors (you may notice that I have 3 monitors currently connected, all of different resolution):

Also, in the above screenshot you may notice a start button on the taskbar for the middle monitor. This is provided by the application Pokki, which I highly recommend if you miss the start button like I do.

Here's what my desktop looks like after installing Actual Multiple Monitors:

I'd like to point out that I usually have way more windows open :)

A few things you will probably notice right away are:
  • There are windows start buttons, the windows clock on each taskbar for each monitor
  • Each taskbar only shows the applications that are open on that monitor
  • There are buttons on the title bar of each window to move the window around

There are some tweaks you could do to your setup with AMM such as:
  • Changing the wallpaper (or desktop background colour) of each monitor individually. I don't know of a way to do this by in Windows 8 without using an app like AMM, although Windodws 8 seems to be able to choose a different wallpaper for each monitor randomly from a bunch of wallpapers
  • Replace the main taskbar (on the main monitor) to only show the apps open on the main monitor
So it looks like this:

I would like to see a more "metro" oriented look for AMM's start button though, and the ability to have a third party launcher like Pokki for the center screen. But I don't mind using AMM's classic start menu (putting the windows 8 start screen for the start button doesn't workout for me), although its search feature does not have the ability to search through files on the computer or the web.

After using AMM for quite a bit, I really liked its ability to keep the applications that are not on that particular monitor hidden. If you're like me and have more than 20 windows open at any given moment in 10 different applications you'll find this feature quite indispensable. It's not so much the fact that you can find a minimized application on a particular monitor faster, but the fact that you can find it without having to stop thinking about something and search for an application icon. This feature alone would make you much more productive. Also, I like the shortcut for moving windows around. I've disabled the title bar buttons because they sometimes interfere with applications like chrome, where having more than 6 tabs open when the application is maximized is sure to cause some problems. See below: 

I just prefer to use Windows Key + / shortcut instead to move windows around to different monitors and using Windows + Up/Right/Down/Left Arrows to maximize, minimize and snap windows to one side.

Finally, having a start button on each monitor is also great. You don't have to keep going to the center monitor all the time just to open a new app.

I'm not too fussy about changing the wallpaper, icons and other visual aspects for each of the monitors, but it would be a nice feature to have in case you like tweaking and personalizing your wallpapers.

There are also other features in AMM like desktop divider that allows you to set a grid for particular applications, and a wide array of other shortcuts that allow you to move things around any which way you like.

I highly recommend that you give the trial version on Actual Tool's website a go. If you feel like it has boosted your productivity then you can buy the full version for about $25. This may be a steep price if you're a student like me, but if your full time job involves staring at a computer for a long time, it may be worthwhile to consider grabbing a copy or getting your employer to buy you a license.

Free up some more hard drive space on your Windows 8 installation

I've been using Windows on my mac quite often recently, and although I had budgeted 65 GB of my precious SSD space to windows, it seems like Windows has already managed to consume 90% of that space! So, I wanted to figure out a way to reduce the hard drive space without deleting too much of my personal "my documents" content. Naturally, a good way of doing this was to delete unused system files. Although this installation is fairly new (about 5 months or so) there will still some old files remaining on the hard drive.

Here's how I went about gaining some more space:

Step 1: Run Disk Cleanup - the usual place you should start for reclaiming some hard drive space (you'll need admin access for this of course)

1. From the Start screen type in "Control Panel" and go to the control panel
2. Type in disk clean up in the "Search" bar at the top right hand corner
3. Click on "Free up disk space by deleting unused files"
4. Select your hard drive and click OK
4.5 If you feel like your system has been running fine for the past few weeks, you can also delete back up "system restore" files by clicking on "Clean up  system files button", then clicking on the More options tab that appears and clicking "Clean up" under System Restore and Shadow Copies, then go back to the disk cleanup tab
5. Check all the files that you think you don't need and click OK

Step 2: Run Windirstat to check for large files that you can delete

Step 3: I noticed a folder called WinSxS that was really large (about 12 GB), 

and looked it up to see if I could delete it. As expected, it was back up copies of all the updates that were installed, and links to other files so it would be catastrophic if anyone were to delete the installation. However, I found a little tip online that you can try to remove system files that have been superseeded if you had installed the latest service pack.

From the start screen type "Command Prompt", right click on the app, and click "Run as Administrator" on the bar that pops-up below. Then copy and paste the following into the window and hit enter:

DISM /online /cleanup-Image /spsuperseded
This will remove any old and unused files from the previous service pack and hopefully save some space on your hard drive.

Friday, 8 March 2013

How to dim your monitor brightness more than what your monitor allows

So I recently got a new monitor (will post a review about it later) but I found that the LED monitor was a bit too bright for my eyes, especially when I'm reading a white page in a dark room. I tried using the monitor hardware to turn down the brightness, but it was still too bright.

Enter Dimmer! Dimmer is a light weight free windows application that adds another layer of "darkness" on top of all the windows on your screen and makes all the white pages less brighter.

Try it out, and I'm sure it should help make your monitor less bright!