Scott Hanselman

Finding the Perfect Mouse

March 9, '16 Comments [109] Posted in Hardware | Reviews
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I have a small problem. I'm always looking for great computer mice. I've tried a number of mice (and keyboards!) over the years.

Five black computer mice, laid out left to right, and described in order below

Here's the current line up.

But the left one...oh this mouse. That's the Logitech MX Master Wireless Mouse and it's really top of the line and it's my current daily driver. It's usually $99 but I've seen it for $74 or less on sale.

The Logitech MX Master is a high end mouse, but rather than catering to gamers as so many mice do, it seems to be aimed more towards creators and makers. Prosumers, if you will.

Highlights

  • The MX Master has rechargeable LiPo batteries that are charged with a simple micro USB cable. So far they've lasted me two weeks or more with just a few minutes of charging. Plus, you can use the mouse with the cord attached. There's a 3 light LED on the side as well as software support so you won't be surprised by a low battery.
  • Fantastic customizable software.
    Exceptional Logitech Mosue Customization Software
  • Uses the "Unifying Receiver" which means a single dongle for multiple Logitech products. I also have the Logitech T650 Touchpad and they share the same dongle.
  • Even better, the MX Master also supports Bluetooth so you can use either. This means I can take the mouse on the road and leave the dongle.
  • Tracks on glass. My actual desktop is in entirely glass. It's a big sheet of glass and I've always had to put mouse pads on it, even with Microsoft Mice. This mouse tracks the same on a pad or a glass surface.
  • Heavy but the right kind of heavy. It's about 5 oz and it has heft that says quality but not heft that's tiring to push around.

One of the most unusual features is the Scroll Wheel. Some mice of a smooth scroll wheel with no "texture" as you scroll. Others have very clear click, click, click as you scroll. The MX Master has both. That means you can use "Ratchet" mode (heh) or "Freespin" mode, and you can assign a Mode Shift. If I click the wheel you can hear a clear mechanical click as (presumably) a magnet locks into place to provide the ratcheting sound and feel which is great for precision. Click again and you are FLYING through long PDFs or Web Pages. It's really amazing and not like any mouse I've used in this respect.

On top of that there is a SmartShift feature that automatically switches you between modes depending on the speed and vigor that you spin the wheel. All of this is configurable, to be clear.

It's a nice mouse for advanced folks or Devs because not only can you change basically every button (including a unique "gesture button" at your thumb where you click it and move the mouse for things like 'Next Virtual Desktop') but you can also have...

image

...configurations on a per-application basis!

image

This is fantastic because I want Chrome to scroll and feel one way and Visual Studio to scroll and feel another.

It's been 6 weeks with this new mouse and it's now my daily driver for code, blog posts, Office, and everything.

Trying out this new @Logitech MX Master mouse. This thing is SO SMOOTH.

A photo posted by Scott Hanselman (@shanselman) on

 

What's your favorite mouse or pointing device? Let's hear it in the comments!


PSA: Be sure to check out http://MarchIsForMakers.com all month long for great hardware podcasts, blogs, and videos! Spread the word and tweet with #MarchIsForMakers!

* Referral links help me buy mice. Click them for me please.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Using the Surface Pro 4 Type Cover with Fingerprint Reader on a Surface Pro 3

November 2, '15 Comments [21] Posted in Reviews
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Using the Surface Pro 4 Type Cover with Fingerprint Reader on a Surface Pro 3Last year in August I went and bought a Surface Pro 3 with my own money (it's not machine that work paid for) and I've been very happy with it. Now the Surface Pro 4 came out, and well, it's silly to upgrade for me when it's been just a year.

But. That Keyboard. The Surface Pro 4 has an all new Keyboard and Touch Pad.

The Surface Pro 3 keyboard is good, to be clear, but the touchpad sucks. After I used it for a few months I called it out as sucking. It's usable, but it's not fun to use.

Turns out that you can get a Surface Pro 4 Type Cover keyboard and it works and fits perfectly on a Surface Pro 3. You can upgrade your Surface Pro 3 (and pretend it's a 4, which is what I'm doing) by just adding the new Keyboard.

Fingerprint Reader

There's lots of new color Type Covers but the really interesting one is the Type Cover with Fingerprint Reader. Sadly, only available in Black, but it has an integrated Fingerprint Reader that lets you use the new "Windows Hello" login feature of Windows 10. Windows Hello means "using biometrics like fingerprints and faces and eye scanning to login to your computer."

It works and it works great. There was an Oct 26th "Firmware Update" in Windows Update that gives you the drivers you'll need. A Firmware Update for a Surface is essentially a "driver pack." Run Windows Update and attach the keyboard and you're set.

Windows Hello for Fingerprints

You enroll as many fingers as you want in Sign-In Options and that's it. Now you log in with your fingerprint. Lovely.

All new keyboard and touchpad

The picture before shows my original Surface Pro 3 Type Cover next to my new Surface Pro 4 Type Cover with Fingerprint Reader. First, the keyboard was already good on the Surface Pro 3, but it's just better on the 4. There are actual spaces between the keys, and you can see from the pic how the keys go even closer to the edge/bezel of the cover's surface. The keys are also slightly rearranged for the better. FN has been moved to the left, which makes sense, and a "context key" (which is effectively Shift-F10).

Another nice touch is that the FN key now has a light. On SP3 you had no way to see if it was locked, and you had to FN-CapsLock to force it on, and would have no visual indicator.

Finally, the silly Share and Settings secondary functions for Function F7 and F8 are gone and there's now an actual PrtScn button. It's the little things.

image

Now, to the touchpad. IT IS SO MUCH BETTER. It's actually usable. It's way larger (they say 40%) and it feels nicer. Before I always took another mouse with me because the SP3 touchpad was crippling. No longer. It's large enough for multi-finger gestures, including 3 and 4-finger taps. I'm still holding out for a "4 finger swipe" for Virtual Desktop switching, though.

One other subtlety that is worth pointing out...the fold. With the Surface Pro 3 Type Cover keyboard, when you fold it up to keep the Type Cover off the table, the fold makes it hard to press the "Start Button" on the screen because the keyboard butted right up against the screen. The Pro 4 Type Cover folds tighter and lower against the bottom bezel such that pressing icons in the taskbar and the Start button isn't a problem anymore. Subtle, but again, it's the little things.

I totally recommend this keyboard. It's given my Surface Pro 3 new life. It's the keyboard it should have always had.

* My links are Amazon Affiliate Links! Use them as they help support my blog and buy me tacos.


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Review: TP-Link AC3200 (Archer C3200) Wireless Router

September 29, '15 Comments [51] Posted in Reviews
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TP-Link AC3200 (Archer C3200) I've always been a Linksys or NetGear router person. I loved the legendary Linksys WRT54G and ran DD-WRT on it for years. A while back I updated my router to the Linksys WRT1900AC. This router was supposed to be the second coming of the WRT54G and promised enthusiastic support for alternate firmware. For about a year I ran the WRT1900AC with the stock firmware as there was a bit of controversy as to what that support would look like. Fast-forward a bit and it appears that Linksys and Marvel have been working together to solve some technical issues and have reached out to the OpenWRT and DD-WRT folks but unfortunately there is still no release place for DD-WRT for the WRT1900AC. I am tired of waiting and some recent instability in the stock firmware has got me shopping around.

I did some research and decided on the TP-Link AC3200 (Archer C3200). Now, before you say it, I will. This is a prosumer router. It's not cheap. But so far, it's been brilliant. I've tired $50 routers and they tip over with what I throw at them. I've got a minimum of about 20 devices on the network at a time, and often as many as 35-45. I want to be able to manage them differently, apply QoS (Quality of Service) rules, as well as segment my network. However, I am not a network engineer and I don't feel like being one. I've also had issues with range in the past but I don't feel like having two routers and one SSID. So far, it appears that this TP-Link Archer C3200 router can handle everything I throw at it.

TP-Link AC3200 (Archer C3200) 

First, let me say that this router looks like a UFO. It's a very dramatic design, but it's for a functional reason. Those are six folding antennas on the top.

router

Installation in my home took about 30 min from the moment it left the box until the whole house and every device was set up. I personally found the web interface to be simpler and more organized than any other router I've ever used, and I've used them all.

In this screenshot you can see that there are currently 18 devices connected and there are three wifi networks. I really like this feature. I've setup my own 5GHz SSID for my office, while the family gets their own 2.4GHz WiFi Network, and Netflix/Streaming/XBox devices get their own 5GHz SSID. It's nicely compartmentalized. Even more, I could optionally turn on one or more Guest Networks when folks visit from out of town. This gives guests internet, but keeps them off from seeing internal devices.

TP-Link AC3200 (Archer C3200) Wireless Router UI

If the idea of three SSIDs is too much for you, they also have a feature called "Smart Connect" which basically collapses a 2GHz and two 5GHz SSIDs and associated channels into a single Smart SSID that will abstract 802.11bgn across many channels. You get one SSID (Wireless Network Name) and the router handles the rest, automatically putting your devices on the right network given their capabilities.

There's also great Parental Controls built in, where you can set a Time Schedule per device. For example, you could make it so your child's iPad could only access the internet during certain times of the day. You would need turn off iOS Mac Address Randomization for this to work, I believe.

This TP-Link AC3200 (Archer C3200 also has some light NAS (Network Attached Storage) features that allow you to access disks via FTP, DLNA, or SMB (meaning you can talk to it via \\ROUTER\share for example). You could also even expose a disk over FTP externally if you wanted to. The router can also be a print server and make any USB printer a wireless/network attached printer which could be helpful if you've got a home office.

For the tech enthusiast/prosumer user the only nit I would say could use improvement is the Bandwidth Control (QoS) panel. It could be a little friendlier. For example, I can certainly figure out the IP Range and Port Range for Xbox Live or Netflix and set the Bandwidth rules, but since those are already pretty well understood it would be nice if there was just a dropdown or set of smart defaults. For example, we would ALL want to be able to check a box that says "make sure Netflix doesn't get slow when my spouse checks email." This dialog could be simpler.

Aside: My spouse asked me why Netflix gets slow sometimes when other people are streaming or pushing the network. I said that it's the same reason that the shower water changes temperature when someone flushes the toilet elsewhere in the house.

TP-Link AC3200 (Archer C3200) Wireless Router UI

So far I've been VERY happy with this router. Set up was a breeze, perf has been fantastic, and there hasn't been a single hiccup. I'll report back later.

Do you have this router? Or do you recommend another router? Sound off in the comments below.


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Review: 3D Scanning with the HP 3D Capture Stage on the HP Sprout PC

September 21, '15 Comments [9] Posted in Reviews
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HP Sprout with Capture StageThe 7 year old and I have been trying to make various things with the HP Sprout (review soon) and Dremel Printer. I was sent review versions of both to explore and give feedback on. We've learned a lot and filed a lot of bugs and received lots of great software updates.

About two months ago we tried 3D scanning an object using the Intel True Sense camera and manually rotating a 3D object on the HP Sprout's touch pad. I was both impressed and unimpressed with the results. Impressed because 3D Scanning is a biscuit away from straight magic. Unimpressed because it was a tedious process and the result was a little chopped up.

But then the Spout folks sent over a "HP 3D Capture Stage" for me to try. I'll be totally honest, I thought this was going to be a cheap rotating circle, basically a Skylander's portal with a motor. I couldn't be more wrong, this thing is built like a TANK. It's actually a rotating stage split on an angle that connects via USB and allows the Sprout to angle the object between 0 and 15 degrees, however it likes. Combining this with both a 14 megapixel camera AND an Intel RealSense Depth Camera, the results are significantly better than my first attempts.

The HP 3D Capture Stage is $299 by itself, which is admittedly not an impulse purchase. The price point that I'm impressed with though is the "Sprout 3D Maker's Bundle" which includes the HP Sprout itself (no slouch with an i7 and 8 gigs, stylus, and 23" touchscreen + 20" second screen/touch mat) AND the 3D Capture Stage AND a Dremel 3D Printer all for $2999. (US$3k) That's the Sprout with the Dremel Printer and the Capture Stage is free, essentially.

ASIDE: It blows my mind that I got a loan from the bank and paid $2,800 for a 486DX/33 in 1990 and today I can get something like a Sprout AND 3D Scanner AND Printer for about the same. Seriously, Star Trek: The Next Generation is coming. Throw in an Oculus or a HoloLens and we're living in the future.

OK, first things first. Can you scan an object, get a perfect model, then 3D print the same object? Essentially photocopying/xeroxing 3D objects? No.

But you can get a VERY nice 3D model of a real physical object in just a few minutes and then export it to your favorite app for manipulation.

Here's my FIRST scan where I sat for 15 minutes and rotated a teapot 15 degrees each time the computer told me to. Not so good. And I was VERY careful and accurate, I thought.

A manually scanned 3D object

Here's the SAME teapot on the 3D Capture Stage. I used the supplied putty to gently stick the object on the stage at an angle.

Preparing a scan with the HP 3D Capture Stage

Here's a video of the start of the process. It's totally automated, but after you're done if you feel the object wasn't completely represented you can put it on its side or flip it over to get occluded sides.

A video posted by Scott Hanselman (@shanselman) on

I did scans a total of 3 times and got this auto-merged result. While the lettering got blurred after the second scan, the general structure of the teapot is 95% correct.

Teapot scanned by an HP Sprout 3D Capture Stage

I exported it into the Microsoft 3D Builder Software and got this result.

A 3D scanned Teapot using the HP Sprout 3D Capture Stage

It's also worth noting that the 3D scanned object and the textures are totally separate now, so if I wanted to make a red wooden teapot from this scan, I could.

Texture Map of the Teapot from the HP Sprout Capture Stage

Additionally, if I wanted it to be empty (like a real teapot) and have a top that could come off, I'd want to spend some time with this 3D Scan in a 3D modeling tool and actually DO THAT. ;)

The 3D Scanning Stage could be a great way for a burgeoning game designer to collect unusual objects, obtain textures and texture maps, and really jumpstart a 3D model.

3D Scanned Teapot from the HP Sprout's 3D Scanning Stage in the Dremel 3D Software

So far the whole thing has been amazing. The software has been continually updated, and while it's not perfect, it's definitely cool. My kids of been doing 2D stop-motion animation and my wife has been using it for scrapbooking.

A full review and YouTube Video is coming soon, but so far I can tell you that the HP Sprout is not just a fantastic "Kitchen PC" and a "Maker PC" but I could really see it being my family's primary computer. That said, the real place it shines is in education. I'd love it if my kids had a complete PC/scanner/printer combo available to them in their classroom.


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Review: Dremel 3D Printer and initial impressions of the HP Sprout

September 9, '15 Comments [11] Posted in 3D Printing | Reviews
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HP Sprout and DremelI've been having a blast with my new hobby - 3D Printing. I've only been printing for about 9 months but my kids and I are having fun which is what matters.

I've been using an HP Sprout PC (full review of the Sprout coming soon) along with a Dremel 3D Printer to build stuff with the boys. The Sprout is interesting not just for it's form-factor and Intel RealSense camera but also its 3D scanning platform. I don't have the platform yet but I have one on order. The idea is that the platform rotates the object to be scanned while the Intel 3D camera gets depth information, along with structured light scanning and a second 14 megapixels camera capturing textures.  I've got a video here showing the scanning of a teapot. The scans are not perfect, but the scans are a great kickstart for a new project. I'll cover the 3D scanner and HP Sprout more in another separate post, but I will say that it's very fast (an i7!) with a great touchscreen AND a projector with touch mat, so it's effectively a multimonitor multitouch two screen system. My wife has been "scanning" bills with it, while my boys have been spending many hour making StopMotion videos with their LEGOs.

Dremel 3D Printer

In this post I want to focus on the Dremel 3D printer. I've used a Printrbot for several months and have been very happy with it. It's definitely a hobbyist/hacker machine. Many people choose to build a Printrbot from a kit, not just to save money, but also to (forgive me) build one's own lightsaber.

The Dremel feels more Consumer, or at least, Prosumer. While the Printrbot required a few hours before I was printing a basic object, with the Dremel I was printing within 15 minutes. No joke. Now, for a non-techie that might be an hour or so, but seriously, I unboxed it, leveled the bed, and pressed Build on the touchscreen.

The Dremel uses PLA and a non-heated bed. There's special Dremel 3D Build Sheets, essentially like "BuildTak," that adhere to the bed. You also should (you don't have to, but it's easier) use Dremel's filament. Why?

Let's unpack a few things here. No heated bed, use their filament, and just PLA. For the pro this might give you initial pause. But let me tell you - the prints are amazing. Here's a close up.

My first @dremel 3d print. Was absolutely perfect and very smooth first try. #GoMakeThings

A photo posted by Scott Hanselman (@shanselman) on

This is the very first print. The filament runs at a much hotter temperature than I'm used to with PLA. They run it at 220C when I use 180C on my Printrbot. In the Dremel Reddit AMA they mentioned that all this is to maintain "it just works" quality, and I can say now after having printed about 40 things with the Dremel and am currently on my 4th Filament roll that it does just work. I have had one iffy print in 40 prints and it's still usable. Their build tape REALLY works, even with large surfaces. I have had no peeling up or warping.

Here's a video of the Dremel in action.

Video of the @dremeltools 3D printer in action. #GoMakeThings

A video posted by Scott Hanselman (@shanselman) on

And here's a pencil holder that turned out great.

Just had a 4 hour 3D Print finish on the @dremel printer. #GoMakeThings

A photo posted by Scott Hanselman (@shanselman) on

My 7 year old and I wanted to see how far we can push this printer so we are currently trying to print a Crossfire 2 Quadcopter. This is a complex print with over a dozen parts in tight tolerances that will be put under stress (assuming we get it to fly) so it seems like a reasonable test.

So far it's coming out nicely and it's huge. The Printrbot Simple Metal is a great printer with a 6"x6"x6" bed but this is where I really appreciate Dremel's 9"x5.9"x5.5" bed size. You can see the quadcopter's legs below. We're printing two in black so we can tell the copter's front from its back.

In this pic you can see the size difference between the Printrbot and the Dremel. The Dremel is like a small microwave. It's enclosed (which is really nice) and maintains its inner temperature nicely during the print which may be why it hasn't needed the heated bed. At 220C and a very warm inner environment I have had no peeling or sticking issues.

A Dremel 3D Printer printing a Quadcopter

The last quirk about the Dremel that was interesting was that you don't get direct access to it from any app and you can't send it gcode (raw instructions). Instead you use their Dremel all to import STLs and then export them to their g3drem format. This concerned me originally, but opening the g3drem file in notepad shows that it's simply gcode with a small thumbnail image prepended in front. This is a nice touch as the Dremel has a small color touchscreen that shows you what you're going to print.

The standard workflow is simply:

  1. Design or download an STL however you like.
  2. Optional: If it needs supports, open in Meshmixer and add supports. Click Send to Printer.
  3. Dremel 3D opens the exported (with supports) STL file. Click Build to save a g3drem to an SD card.
  4. Take the SD card to the Dremel, click Build on the touchscreen and print!

I continue to use both the Printrbot and the Dremel day to day. I've added/upgraded the Printrbot with a heated bed so I can print ABS plastic as well as PLA, but I've turned to the Dremel as my "daily driver" due to its rock solid reliability. I can definitely recommend the Dremel as a good beginner 3D printer for families, classrooms, or hobbyists. While it's not hackable, it's not meant to be. It Just Works and does exactly what it's advertised to do.

I'll blog in the future as our quadcopter build continues!

3D scanning with #SproutByHP. @hp. Really insane.

A video posted by Scott Hanselman (@shanselman) on

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Disclosure of Material Connection: HP sent me this Sprout and Printer in the hope that I would review it on my blog and because I've been talking actively about 3D Printing and Maker Culture. Regardless, I only talk enthusiastically about products or services I would use and think you would find useful. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.