Looking For Quacks In The Pavement

Category: Geekery (Page 1 of 86)

Windows 11: It’s okay!

I’m a paid, professional computer nerd. Wrangling Windows PCs into a semblance of good behavior is part-and-parcel of what pays the bills around here. So, since my work-from-home aged PC is new and shiny enough to accept the upgrade, I went ahead and pulled the trigger on the 10-to-11 jump last night.

I’m partway into my first workday on the “new” operating system and… it’s okay! It’s fine. It’s Windows. It does what it says on the tin.

Look, when you’ve been around long enough that your first Windows version began with the number 3, after a while the interface changes stop meaning too very much. Oh, so this one has the icons in the middle of the taskbar instead of on the left. Okay. Oh, so this one has gone back to more rounded corners on the windows. Okay. Oh, they put some color back into parts of the interface again. Okay.

Windows 11’s Explorer window. Note the color-coded content folders. (Wallpaper by Mary Cagle.)

They added some spacing between elements here, reduced spacing there. It’s more refinement than revolution. And you know what? That’s okay, too. More than okay.

The “centered icons” taskbar about which much wringing of hands is seen on the Internet. Copying the Mac UI! Yes, Microsoft’s been doing that for literal decades now, try to keep up.

Those of us who remember some of the great boondoggles in Windows’ version history will be glad of a chance to breathe easy. Windows Millennium Edition, anyone? Heaven help us, Windows Vista? The dreaded version between 7 and 10 which somehow wasn’t 9 because Reasons? It’s still early days but I don’t think 11 is going to wind up lumped in with that roster of disasters when we look back on the history of the operating system.

It’s different, yet the same. Which is, honestly, a good summation of the entire 10-to-11 experience.

With all that said, I have a couple of tips:

  • You can select to put the icons on the taskbar back on the left “like normal” if you want. I’m trying out the default Mac-style centered icons to see if it’ll be better, worse, or a big nothingburger. (I expect “nothingburger” to win this challenge.)
  • What you can’t do is toggle “show all icons in the system tray” like you could before. You must choose one-by-one, which is… only mildly annoying, honestly. I liked being lazy and just saying “show me everything,” but I’ll live without that option.
  • There’s a desktop-Linux-y “multiple desktops” function, which is great if you’re into that sort of thing, but it comes with a catch: If you use multiple desktops and have multiple monitors, you can only set one wallpaper for all monitors on each virtual desktop. If you want to set per-monitor wallpapers (and I do!) then stick with just the one desktop. (Or run a 3rd-party app. I used to use DisplayFusion but I’m trying to go without that to reduce the number of programs I have running at all times.)
  • Speaking of not needing DisplayFusion: Multi-monitor taskbar is finally a native feature, complete with “put the icons of each running program on the taskbar of the monitor that program’s showing on.” Huzzah! (You only get one copy of the systray, though.)
One of my near-future goals is to convince that damned Xbox Live thing to stop running at every login, though. Ugggh, WHY? Also: I have Teams AND Teams now? Yay…?

Overall, my verdict remains: It’s okay! Nothing seems broken, it’s still essentially Windows 10 as far as application compatibility is concerned, and since I’m running an Intel CPU I’m not affected by the (as of this writing) issues with AMD CPUs in this new version. (Presumably they’ll get that sorted out soon. We hope.)

Satisfactory – So Much Work For Shinies

While I’ve not been writing about the game much, I still play at least once per week on my own game and usually once per week in a cooperative game session with my son. I’m at what could be considered the “late” stage of the game, having sent off the third big Space Elevator shipment and unlocking access to the aluminum and nuclear tiers.

This is where things go from “moderately complex” to “rather fiendishly complex,” and the scale gets to the point where you can’t simply expect to make a variety of products from one resource node, let alone one group of resource nodes.

Case in point? Crystal Oscillators.

So much work, so much time, for a couple of little odd-looking devices every couple of minutes per manufacturer.
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The Summer of Our Discount Tent

I bought a “light tent” some time ago in order to get portraits of the various duckies (as well as, potentially, anything else we want a Very Nice Picture of) but I noticed something after the first couple of sessions that bothered me a bit. Due to various circumstances mostly having to do with living in a pandemic and not wanting to deal with much of anything, I didn’t get around to trying a solution until this week.

The problem? The LEDs at the top of the tent leave a bright glare in the photographs of any smooth, shiny subject. The solution? Buy some kind of light-diffusing material and find a way to “mount” it in the tent.

Let’s see how that went, shall we?

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MediaMonkey 5 – A Greener Interface

After years and years and years of development time, MediaMonkey version 5 arrived for general release. It’s new, it’s slick, it’s all that and a bag of chips. (Or crisps, if you’re from across the proverbial pond.)

It’s also, by default, a hideous mess of orange. So I did something about it.

I’ve gotten into late-era Gary Numan a bit, by the way.

Technically, all I did was change some settings in one file in the “dark” version of the default skin, but at least it’s less eye-searing now. If you want my (very slightly modified) version, download this ZIP archive and place the directory it contains (“Material Design (green)”) into the Skins directory of your MediaMonkey 5 program directory and restart the program. You should then be able to select it from the Skins setting.

Enjoy!

Satisfactory: Rail Guide Addendum

I’ve been working on a railroad. Not all the live-long day, mind you, but I did put in a lot of hours over this past weekend on a very silly project in Satisfactory. You see, I just shipped off the third Space Elevator bundle and unlocked Tier 7… but the forthcoming game patch called Update 4 is supposed to do exciting things to the tech at that level so I don’t want to actually build anything from that tier yet. Either I need to shelve the game for the duration (yeah, right) or find something to work on that doesn’t involve new tech.

Spoiler: It involved more trains. Because trains are cool.

I decided, “Oh hey, let’s spend our vacation week doing a silly rail project.” (I’ll have more on that later this week.) Along the way I worked out a couple of useful techniques that I thought I’d share with the group as a sort of follow-up to the previous big post about the game’s monorail tech.

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Satisfactory: Ridin’ the Rails

Ever since a friend showed me the game, the goal I’ve worked toward this entire time in Satisfactory is unlocking the monorail. I finally got there, I have two working rail loops now, and I have some thoughts and advice for newcomers. Load up the cargo, release the parking brake, and let’s steam forward, shall we?

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