Scott Hanselman

Run more apps and show more tiles on your Surface 2 or high-dpi Windows 8.1 Laptop

November 19, '13 Comments [28] Posted in Tools | Win8
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Show more tiles and run more apps on a Microsoft Surface 2

I did a blog post a little while ago about getting real work done on a Surface 2 (ARM & RT) and I've learned a few interesting things since then. The Surface 2 has a great screen. Having 1920x1080p resolution screen on 10.6" screen is really fantastic. In fact, the DPI on the Surface 2 is so nice that working on any other machine (like the 13" 1366x768 laptop I'm writing this on right now) is just unacceptable.

NOTE: This isn't specific to Surface 2. It works on the first Surface Pro, or really, any 1080p or above Windows 8.1 machine!

However, the default DPI settings for both Store Apps and Desktop Apps is set too high, which scales everything and in my opinion this limits you in a few ways. You see fewer tiles on the start screen and can't snap/see more than two Store Apps at a time. If you don't mind smaller on-screen elements, here's a few tricks that will take your high-resolution Surface 2 to the next level. It did mine.

Here's my Start Screen with the default settings as the Surface 2 shipped.

3 rows of Tiles by default

But, if you search for "size" in Settings... (hit the Windows Key+W and type "size")

Size the apps on the screen in Windows 8.1

From this Setting screen, change the Default setting to "Smaller."

Changing Store App sizes

Here's the Start Screen now with the size set to Smaller.

5 rows of tiles

But wait, there's more. Now, go to Settings (Windows Key+C) and click Tiles, then Show More Tiles.

Show more tiles

Now my Start Screen has smaller tiles, but lots more. It's nice to have options.

6 rows of Start Screen Tiles

Here's Mail and News snapped next to each other using the Default DPI setting on the Surface 2.

Mail and News

After changing the setting to Smaller, I can now pull a third application in and the others will get out the way. With 8.1 apps I can resize them to more sizes than 8.0 apps.

 Adding a fourth app and swapping out a third

I prefer the smaller Full Screen/Store DPI setting because I can now read email, check web pages and watch a movie at the same time.

Mail, IE, and Video

I can also bring the Desktop in and run apps over there at the same time I have other Store Apps.

Here I'm running Excel on the Desktop, next to Mail, next to Hulu.

Excel, Mail, and Hulu

After changing Full Screen/Store DPI settings, don't forget you can also changed the DPI for Desktop apps as well. Right click on the Desktop and click Resolution, then "make text and other items larger or smaller." You can play with the settings and find what works. These desktop settings do not change your Store Apps.

Change the size of all items

I hope these tips help you push your own Surface (or any high-DPI laptop) harder.


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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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Working Remotely Considered Dystopian

November 18, '13 Comments [50] Posted in Remote Work
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At the time of this writing, I work remotely from Portland, Oregon for Microsoft and have for over 5 years. While I haven't written any books on Remote Work, I think it's fair to say that I am well-versed in successfully working remotely and I am certainly a remote work enthusiast. I have written about the experience extensively on this blog.

Recently DHH, the creator of Ruby on Rails, co-wrote a book about remote work called Remote. Here's the digital "inside cover" from Amazon.

Today, the new paradigm is "move work to the workers, rather than workers to the workplace."

In Remote, inconoclastic (sic) authors Fried and Hansson will convince readers that letting all or part of work teams function remotely is a great idea--and they're going to show precisely how a remote work setup can be accomplished.

And from the Remote book site:

REMOTE, the new book by 37signals, shows both employers and employees how they can work together, remotely, from any desk, in any space, in any place, anytime, anywhere.

MicrosoftiPhoneAppsAwesome. Now we have tools that will move work to the workers like Google Apps, Office 365, and Base Camp. But it seems that workers are taking this too seriously and passing out in bed with their tablets on their faces.

DHH's most recent blog post is called Microsoft's dystopian pitch for remote work and it declares "For shame on Microsoft for cheerleading its [Remote Work's] most dystopian corruption." So, work anywhere, except where you apparently end up needing to work.

Two words that are guaranteed to get folks frothing: "Microsoft" and to a lesser extent, "Dystopian."

As a disclaimer, while I do work at Microsoft, I don't work on Office or know anyone over there. I don't work on any tools or apps that enable you to work remotely unless you count "The Internet." I am a remote worker. If my company disallows remote worker in the future, I will quit.

NOTE: As an related aside, if you want a another REALLY great book about working remotely, I highly recommend "The Year Without Pants" by Scott Berkun, a friendly acquaintance. It's a brilliant account of his time at WordPress.com, a company with only remote workers.

David's primary issue in his post is with this infographic, which is, at best, questionable. But David implies this is a celebration of bad behavior.

Microsoft is launching a new marketing campaign for Office 365 that celebrates working during your kid’s recitals, on vacation, and while enjoying the appetizer at a restaurant.

20% of parents said they have worked at a child's event or activity

Personally, don't really like this campaign either because it strikes at the behaviors that I sometimes do but I know are unhealthy in my heart. We need to ask, is this a behavior we want to enable? That's what's at issue here.

Have we uncovered a secret Microsoft plan to destroy work-life balance? No, but edgy ads like this make us uncomfortable because they catering to the fact that people do work remotely like this. Every time I go out to dinner I see couples sitting together in silence while they type away on their pocket supercomputers. No, it's not healthy nor should it be how remote work gets done.

But don't forget how the Microsoft ad opens.

Survey finds that more than half of U.S. office workers would be willing to work more hours — and one in five would even take a pay cut — to have more flexibility to get work done.

Again, you like that you can work remotely, but you don't like where people end up working remotely? Thing is, nearly every app and suite that enables to you work remotely has used the soccer game thing to the point that it's approaching trope status. Here's Google, with the same pitch.

Access your work from any device with a web browser – your computer, phone or tablet – and stay productive even when you’re away from the office. Need to attend a meeting from your kid’s soccer game? Edit a spreadsheet while at the airport waiting for a flight? Respond to an email from a hotel business center computer?

Need to attend a meeting from your kid’s soccer game?

Yes, it's bad (sub-optimal, whatever you want to call it) to work at your kids' soccer game. But it's sometimes necessary. Sometimes work-life balance means that work leaks into life and vice versa.

I think it's great if you can literally turn off all access to work at 5pm on Friday and turn it back on at 9am on Monday. Bravo and good for you. For me, it doesn't always work that neatly. I am happy that when needed I can chat someone at work, send a file, share a screen, or forward an email quickly without going into the office.

It's a odd ad campaign, I agree. It's inverted in its priorities. But, I like having the ability to put out a fire while I'm at a soccer game. It's clearly better than missing the soccer game completely. Having tools to get stuff done remotely means I am empowered. If I choose to use that power for evil, that's hardly Microsoft's fault (or iCloud or Google or Dropbox, etc) or the Internet for existing.

It's good that tools like this exist. But I agree with David that it's probably not a good idea to advertise or endorse admittedly unhealthy behavior.

DHH clearly doesn't like Microsoft, and that's fine. But rather than railing against the company that makes tools (and admittedly poor ads) about enabling remote work, why not direct that frustration at the companies with cultures that have workers up at 2am? Or even better, at the managers who demand this level of access?

For the record, when I'm not travelling I drop of my kids at school every day, pick them up at 3, go on fields trips (where I'm usually the only non-homemaker), and tuck them in every night after reading books.

Full Disclosure: I use Office 365 at work, Google Apps for Business at Home, access them all from my iPhone 5S and Surface 2 and store stuff in DropBox. I'm non-denominational.

I'll end with my unwavering agreement on what David said here:

It’s about spending the hours of work more productively, and then having more time free from its tentacles.

Sound off in the comments. How bright is the line between things work and things personal? Do you shut off and shut down, or are you working a little everywhere? How does this affect how you, and those around you feel about you and your work?


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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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Portable Class Libraries just got REALLY useful with new licensing changes

November 14, '13 Comments [16] Posted in ASP.NET | Open Source
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Flickr Photo by thienzieyung used under Creative Commons
 

It takes a little while to turn a large ship. I love the .NET community and I'm happy to have been a part of it from the beginning. I'm also happy that I'm helping (in a small way) turn the ship from the engine room along with a lot of like-minded individuals.

Sometimes what seems like a "can't you just" request requires days and weeks of legal this-and-that and meetings and "alignment" (that's a thing business people LOVE to say). But if you're patient and keep pushing, change happens.

You have have noticed on the .NET Blog this week that Portable Class Libraries are now enabled for Xamarin. You perhaps remember this post on Portable Class Libraries that I wrote, with this screenshot:

image

Today on 2013 with Xamarin installed, I see this after File | New Project.

image

Of course, there's still wasted space, but I hope you can see the change. ;) The more interesting,  perhaps, change is the legal licensing changes to make sure you're allowed to use useful Portable Libraries on other platforms, like Xamarin.

In my original post there were negative (and these discussions continued on Twitter and UserVoice) comments like:

Hi Scott, unfortunately that wasted space you refer to can't be used until MS changes the licensing on many of their Nuget components (e.g. HttpClient) as these stipulate that they have to be used on Windows systems... making them far from portable!
Are you aware of this, and do you know whether this situation will change in the near future?

Yes, it just changed. We've been lifting these as fast as we could, starting with ASP.NET Katana in July, getting PCLs everywhere, and finally changing licenses on ALL these libraries this week.

The lifting of this restriction also applies to some non-portable libraries like, ALL the Microsoft .NET NuGet Libraries, the Entity Framework and all of the Microsoft AspNet packages.

Go forth and be happy. Even  better, you can use these portable libraries as  dependences to new portable libraries that you create and share.

Ships may turn slowly, but they do turn, and ultimately, in significant ways.


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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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Why do my Font Awesome icons show up as blank squares?

November 4, '13 Comments [28] Posted in Open Source
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So you've decide to use Font Awesome for some great scalable icons. You download them, maybe you use the Bootstrap CDN.

  • You're not an idiot, but you only get black squares.
  • You look at the F12 Developer Tools and you can see the fonts are getting downloaded.
  • You're super advanced, so you check that mime/types are correct on your web server and confirm them in the HTTP headers.
  • You've burned a half hour just pressing CTRL-F5 and clearing browser caches.
  • You're about to smack someone.
  • You're trying different browsers, checking the wire, reading the docs, googling with bing for crying out loud.

Sigh.

image

Then you realize that you need to have class="fa" as well as whatever the icon's class is.

So, not just

<i class="fa-pencil" title="Edit"></i>

But in fact, you need

<i class="fa fa-pencil" title="Edit"></i> 

Then...it works.

image

I hereby declare this the Foux du Fa Fa rule of Font Awesome and blog it so I don't forget.


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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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PowerCfg - The hidden energy and battery tool for Windows you're not using

November 4, '13 Comments [21] Posted in Tools
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There's been a lot of talk about power and energy usage by PCs lately, especially ones on battery. I use an irresponsibly power hungry desktop at home, an Ivy Bridge Intel Lenovo X1 Carbon Touch for work, a Surface 2 (for email, remote desktop (RDP), videos, games and airplane stuff since I don't sweat its batter) and I'm also testing this prototype Haswell that Intel sent me. Whatever machine I get next to replace the X1 Carbon Touch (likely a Yoga 2 Pro) will be a Haswell, and ideally it will support "Connected Standby." Connected Standby is a low-power state that lasts for tens (or hundreds) of hours, but allows the PC to play music, refresh email, and receive VOIP calls. Haswell is amazing, to be clear, but it's all the components working together - chipset, wifi adapter, processor - that make for a truly compelling machine.

Recently I re-discovered the powercfg.exe command line tool that's built into Windows. You have this now. It's a funny little tool that, on the one hand, lets you make minute tweaks to how power is used on your computer, but on the other hand, creates the most elaborate reports on how your PC uses power.

You may have used powercfg.exe in low disk space situations to disable the hibernation file with

powercfg /hibernate off

It'll tell you lots of things about your system that you may not know, or that may help you better use power. For example powercfg /availablesleepstates will tell you the flavors of sleep and standy your PC supports.

How deep can your PC sleep?

Here's my fat desktop:

C:\>powercfg /a
The following sleep states are available on this system:
Standby (S3)
Hibernate
Fast Startup

The following sleep states are not available on this system:
Standby (S1)
The system firmware does not support this standby state.

Standby (S2)
The system firmware does not support this standby state.

This is useful to know. My desktop supports standby. Do I use it? We'll see a little later. Here's the same query on my 5 years-newer Surface:

C:\>powercfg /a
The following sleep states are available on this system:
Standby (Connected)

These S1,S2,S3,S4 numbers indicate how "deeply" your system can sleep. S1 is dozing, and S4 is hibernation. You might find that your machine supports a mode like S3 or something but then it's a device you've added that is preventing it from sleeping that deeply. You can diagnose sleep issues (which, for me, usually end up being cheap USB things I've added) with

powercfg /devicequery s1_supported

...for each state and compare the lists of devices.

The most powerful (today) sleep state for energy management is Connected Standby also known as ACPI S0. Regular Sleep/Standby on average Win7 and Win8 machines is S3.

Connected Standby lets you effectively turn your machine off, but still get email, VOIP calls, play music, etc. There's also rules and guidelines around connected standby that limit battery drain to less than 5% of capacity over a work day.

I ran powercfg.exe /a on the prototype Haswell I've been evaluating and it too supports connected standby, which is deeply cool. This explains the fantastic standby ("in the backpack") times I see with it. As more and more machines have Haswell and support Connected Standby, developers will need to support theses "always fresh" scenarios. It's just habit for me to open a laptop before getting on a plane, launch email, load up on RSS feeds, get my flight details. It'll be very cool to have a Haswell machine in "Connected Standby" that is always fresh, even though it may have been asleep all weekend.

Power Reporting

I recently blogged about how the Windows "High Performance" power profile differed from the "Balanced" profile on Servers' performance. Since I'm not on my desktop machine 24/7, I could save a lot of energy by making sure it's falling asleep at the appropriate time and that it's sleeping as deeply as possible.

The real magic switches buried in PowerCfg.exe are /energy and /batteryreport and, if your machine supports "Connected Standby" also /sleepstudy, and I recommend you run them now. I shall wait. ;)

I ran the Energy Report on my Desktop and it generated a nice HTML report. Here's some highlights (it's super long).

First, my desktop isn't configured to ever fall asleep! A fail on my part.

  • Power Policy:Power Plan Personality is High Performance (Plugged In)
  • The current power plan personality is High Performance when the system is plugged in.
  • Power Policy:Sleep timeout is disabled (Plugged In)
  • The computer is not configured to automatically sleep after a period of inactivity.

Second, my wifi adapter isn't set to use Low-Power. Didn't know that.

  • Power Policy:802.11 Radio Power Policy is Maximum Performance (Plugged In)
  • The current power policy for 802.11-compatible wireless network adapters is not configured to use low-power modes.

Finally, my Wacom Tablet may have the wrong drivers or not be able to sleep:

  • USB Suspend:USB Device not Entering Selective Suspend
  • This device did not enter the USB Selective Suspend state. Processor power management may be prevented when this USB device is not in the Selective Suspend state. Note that this issue will not prevent the system from sleeping.
  • Device Name - Wacom Tablet
  • Device ID - USB\VID_056A&PID_00D1

This was extremely useful information for me, so I'll take 5 minutes and make sure this big desktop goes into standby when I'm not around.

Battery and Power Reporting on a Laptop/Tablet

If you run powercfg /batteryreport on a laptop you get a WEALTH of information in an HTML report. Here's some highlights.

Details on Installed Batteries

Lots of details on the batteries in your machine

  • NAME - X864048BA
  • MANUFACTURER - ATL
  • SERIAL NUMBER - 12412
  • CHEMISTRY - L/ION
  • DESIGN CAPACITY - 31,297 mWh
  • FULL CHARGE CAPACITY - 31,646 mWh
  • CYCLE COUNT - 34

What the device was doing, when, the battery mWh and times:

image

You get awesome charts showing how you battery discharges, charges, and percentages.

image

As well as detailed usage history, percentage used and hours used.

image

Connected Standby machines get an even MORE amazing report with /sleepstudy

You can see what apps are using what about of battery and time, what devices are the "worst offenders" and then you can use this knowledge to decide what you keep running in the background.'

image

Here is one Connected Standby session:

image

I was a little surprised at the quantity of hard data collected and stored by Windows. Also, when blogs and reviewers do detailed tests on different machines showing battery life and stressed tests, are they running powercfg.exe to ensure all the drivers are working together and haven't been flagged as either power-hungry or energy-stupid?

I would love to see even more data on what Windows is doing around energy, and I'm nearly positive the system is keeping track of power-hungry apps. Why not give me a little "heat map" in the title bar so I can know what browser uses the most power, what app is working too hard, or what website is running JavaScript in a loop? Why not give us the option to put those tools front and center?


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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.