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Spoiled by Windows

Windows 8 By . Posted December 10, 2013

Recently, I read a post about how easy it is to clutter a Mac’s menu bar with various status indicators and icons. When watching people give presentations on MacBooks with a real-world payload of software installed, you do almost begin to expect to see ridiculous menu bars like this one:

mac-status-menu-icons

Reading that post definitely brought back memories of the two years that I used my now-mothballed MacBook Air. Not only was my menu bar littered with icons, but there was even one nondescript update app’s icon that I never was able to eliminate from my menu bar.

Frankly, it was beginning to remind me IE with too many toolbars installed.

ie-too-many-toolbars

Now that OS X can finally maximize windows, there’s room for this!

Dealing with that situation on my Mac was particularly annoying because I was already accustomed to a better way of handling those icons.

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A month with my Surface RT

Surface RT, Windows 8 By . Posted November 26, 2012

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably know that I’ve been playing with a shiny new Microsoft Surface RT that I’ve had for about a month now. I’ve had a bunch of requests for a post about my experience with it thus far, so here we go…

Since I had a few weeks to write it, this post grew a little bit out of control. Sorry in advance for the wall of text. To hopefully compensate a bit, here’s an index of the major sections:

In an unsurprising twist ending, I wrote the first few drafts of this entire post on my Surface RT. I used the Touch Cover for most of it, and then picked up a Type Cover toward the end and used that for the rest.

I tried to write a post like this soon after receiving my original iPad, but was not successful due to a combination of the pain that comes along with long-form writing on a screen-board and the tedious multi-app workflow in iOS — it’s definitely possible, but it’s a task that requires more determination than I could muster at the time.

By contrast, Windows 8 and the physical keyboard made writing this on the Surface RT nearly indistinguishable from writing on my 13″ laptop. If you want a tl;dr for the next 6,500 words, I think that sums it up pretty well.

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Closing Windows 8 apps with Surface RT’s Touch Cover

Windows 8 By . Posted October 29, 2012

Windows 8’s new gesture for closing programs works pretty well when you’re using a Surface in your hands as a pure tablet, but it feels a bit awkward when you have the Surface’s kickstand and a Touch/Type Cover deployed. Something about the combination of angle and distance in that configuration makes dragging from top to bottom of the screen feel awkward.

Though Windows 8 apps don’t look like traditional Windows programs, many of Windows’ traditional keyboard shortcuts still work in them. In Windows, Alt + F4 is the keyboard shortcut to quit the active application and that shortcut also closes apps running in the new UI.

At first glance, the Surface’s Touch Cover doesn’t appear to have traditional function keys. However, the top row doubles as function keys if you hold down the “Fn” key at the lower right. As you might expect, the fourth key from the left (marked as a play/pause key) is F4’s secret identity.

So, holding both Alt and Fn and then pressing play/pause works to close the active application without dealing with the vertical dragging gesture.