Scott Hanselman

How to customize the Windows 10 Start Menu

September 24, '15 Comments [32] Posted in Win10
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It's been a few months, and pretty much everyone in my family and neighborhood has slowly upgraded to Windows 10. Some have upgraded from Windows 7 and others from Windows 8. For the most part, from a SAF (Spouse Acceptance Factor) it's been a non-issue, which is amazing, frankly.

I have been doing a few videos on Windows 10 that you can find at http://hanselman.com/windows10. I'd encourage you to share them with your friend and family or any one who's interested in being more effective with Windows! If you've still got family who are using Windows 8, my tutorials are at http://hanselman.com/windows8 but, hey, it's time to upgrade them to Windows 10.

Windows 10 has much higher SAF than Windows 8.

The first thing I recommend that everyone do once they've installed Windows 10 is to spend a few minutes customize the default experience. Out of the box you'll get a Start Menu that looks something (basically) like this.

The default Windows 10 Start Menu

This is "fine" but it's nice to customize things and make them your own.

First, you can make the Start menu wider by grabbing the right side of the menu and dragging. Grab the top and do the same thing, and make it the height and width that makes you happy. I like a 2/3s of the screen style "not a start screen but still a big menu" look, myself.

Expanding the Windows 10 Start Menu

Tiles

Pin a bunch of apps, but not just any app. I prefer apps that I use a lot, but also apps that have a pleasant Live Tile. You can right click on any app and set their tile size. Desktop Apps can be small or medium, and Windows 10 Store Apps can be small, medium, wide, or large. I like to mix it up, but that's what's nice about the Start menu, you can make it your own.

In one of my YouTube videos a person asked "how can I make these horrible live tiles ago away." Well, unpin them all. I think you're missing out, Random Internet Commenter. Another solution might be to just turn off Live Tiles. Often it's the movement folks find distracting, not the tiles themselves.

Color

Go to the start menu and type "Color." When you go into the Settings app and into Personalization | Color, you can change a bunch of stuff. I like to have the Start Menu automatically pick a color from my wallpaper, then I change my wallpaper every 30 min (more on this soon). When my wallpaper changes, my accent color changes.

Themes

The Themes Control Panel is one of the last places in Windows 10 that hasn't been updated with a new Settings page. That's a bummer because it's one of my favorite features. I hope it lives on. Themes can be downloaded by just searching for "Windows themes" or "Windows 8 themes." I like the "Best of Bing" themes that include wallpaper from popular Bing backgrounds. These themes are really RSS feeds that bring down fantastic free wallpapers.

If you combine themes with the "Automatically pick an accent color from my background" feature, you'll get a nice dynamic experience in Windows where your colors and wallpaper change as often as you'd like. I mix it up every 30 min.

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More Folders

Another great setting that doesn't get used enough is "choose which folders appear in start." Go ahead and click the Start menu and type "choose which" to get there quickly. Remember also that your Settings menu is full searchable.

Your default Start Menu will have something like this at the bottom:

The Default Start menu in Windows 10 has few shortcuts

But once you "choose which folders appear in start" you can have useful shortcuts like these. This is a huge timesaver. Hit Start, then click and you're right in your Downloads folder.

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Adjust the Taskbar

By default Cortana shows up as a text box at the bottom in your Taskbar. But you can change Cortana into a single button and regain more space on your Taskbar. It's up to you.

Right click in the Cortana text box and click Cortana. You can select Hidden, Show Cortana Icon, or Show Text Box.

Making Cortana smaller and getting more space in the taskbar

You can also remove the Task View button if you want as well.

Steam Tile for Games

I did a video on how amazing it is to stream a game from your Xbox One to your laptop. It really is. However, I also use Steam and I have a pretty large collection of Steam games. There's a GREAT application for Windows 8/10 called Steam Tile. If you use Steam, go get this application NOW. It's fantastic. It connects to your Steam account and gets your connection. Then it takes the art for each game and lets you Pin that game to your Start Menu.

Steam Tile makes for a VERY attractive Start Menu. The games launch into Steam, chained from Steam Tile. Steam Tile is an app that arguably fixes Steam by adding these awesome configurable and croppable live tiles.

Steam Tile is amazing

What have you done to customize your Start Menu in Windows 10? Sound off in the comments.

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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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Free Training at Microsoft Virtual Academy - Introduction to ASP.NET 5

September 16, '15 Comments [23] Posted in ASP.NET | Learning .NET
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In 2013, Jon Galloway, Damian Edwards, and myself went up to film a LIVE 8 hour long Microsoft Virtual Academy training session called "Building Web Apps with ASP.NET Jump Start." We returned in 2014 with "Building Modern Web Apps with ASP.NET." Both of these are free, and are effectively a full day each of content.

Just a few weeks back here in September of 2015, we recorded "Introduction to ASP.NET 5." This is 100 to 200 level beginner content that starts at the beginning. If you're just getting started with ASP.NET 5 (currently in Beta) or perhaps you have been meaning to dig into the new stuff in ASP.NET 5 but haven't gotten around to it, this a good place to start.

image_08347e93-9435-4eab-865f-611c432b2562

Introduction to ASP.NET 5

We cover

  • Introduction to ASP.NET 5
  • Introduction to Visual Studio
  • Introducing Model View Controller (MVC6)
  • Getting Started with Models, Views, and Controllers
  • Debugging Web Applications
  • Configuration Data
  • Publishing Your Application
  • Using Data with Entity Framework

In the final three segments, we work with Damian Edwards to dissect every line of code in the real-world cloud-deployed application that runs our weekly standup at http://live.asp.net.

  • Exploring live.asp.net
  • Managing Data on live.asp.net
  • Advanced Features in live.asp.net

It's a full day of detailed video training with assessments after each video. You can seek around, of course, or download the videos for offline viewing. We are pretty happy with how it turned out.

We'll be returning to Microsoft Virtual Academy over the next several months to record 300-400 level advanced content as well as a Cross-Platform specific show for Mac and Linux users who want to develop and deploy ASP.NET applications. I hope you enjoyed it, we all worked very hard on it.


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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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Optimize for Tiny Victories

September 13, '15 Comments [15] Posted in Productivity
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image

I was talking with Dawn C. Hayes, a maker and occasional adjunct processor in NYC earlier this week. We were talking about things like motivation and things like biting off more than we can chew when it comes to large projects, as well as estimating how long something will take. She mentioned that it's important to optimize for quick early successes, like getting a student to have an "I got the LED to light up" moment. With today's short attention span internet, you can see that's totally true. Every programming language has a "5 min quick start" dedicated to giving you some sense of accomplishment quickly. But she also pointed out that after the LED Moment students (and everyone ever, says me) always underestimate how long stuff will take. It's easy to describe a project in a few sentences but it might take months or a year to make it a reality.

This is my challenge as well, perhaps it's yours, too. As we talked, I realized that I developed a technique for managing this without realizing it.

I optimize my workflow for lots of tiny victories.

For example, my son and I are working on 3D printing a quadcopter drone. I have no idea what I'm doing, I have no drone experience, and I'm mediocre with electronics. Not to mention I'm dealing with a 7 year old who wants to know why it hasn't taken off yet, forgetting that we just had the idea a minute ago.

I'm mentally breaking it up in work sprints, little dependencies, but in order to stay motivated we're making sure each sprint - whether it's a day or an hour - is a victory as well as a sprint. What can we do to not just move the ball forward but also achieve something. Something small, to be clear. But something we can be excited about, something we can tell mommy about, something we can feel good about.

We're attempting to make a freaking quadcopter and it's very possible we won't succeed. But we soldered two wires together today, and the muiltimeter needle moved, so we're pretty excited about that tiny victory and that's how we're telling the story. It will keep us going until tomorrow's sprint.

Do you do this too? Tell us in the comments.


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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.