Microsoft Word 2013–updated for touch

Here’s something nifty I discovered.  Microsoft Word 2013 can be configured for touch.

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Upgrading to AT&T Uverse from AT&T Elite plan

I finally decided to upgrade my broadband connection from 6 Mbps to 12 Mbps.  I blogged about the surprises that came up with respect to costs  (Advertisement vs Actual Cost of 12 MBps High Speed Internet).  In this blog, I’ll write about my experience from a technical view.

The first thing that happened two days prior to installation was that I received a Self Installation Kit. 

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It came with the usual fair, one 2-to-1 and three 1-to-1 DSL filters, Ethernet cable (yellow cable), Data line (green cable), power supply, stand, and a 3600HGV Gateway. 

Gateway 3600HGV

I was surprised to see the Gateway 3600HGV as it is pretty big compared to Speedstream modem used for 6 Mbps broadband.  When used with a stand, the 3600HGV Gateway takes about 5.5”W x 12.5”H x 10.75”D of space.  Here are some snapshots I took before I started hooking things up.

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Without the stand

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Bottom portion of the face.  Individual LEDs light up to show link status on Ethernet, Wireless, and Broadband connection.

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Rear view.  The Gateway 3600HGV provides four Ethernet ports, one DSL port, and two phone lines.  To the left of the device is a power port and a reset button.

First problem encountered

The ATT technician arrived in the morning and after he was finished working on the DSL line outside of the house, he knocked on my door and told me, “Everything is ready.  Go ahead and connect your DSL Gateway and you should be able to get internet access.”

I thought this guy knew what he was doing and trusted that he was right that everything was ready to go.  He said a few “Thank You”s and left.  My mistake!

After I connected the Gateway 3600HGV to my computer, to power, and to the DSL data lines, nothing worked.  All my calls and live chats to ATT customer support was not able to get my internet connection back.

Note to readers:

Before the AT&T technician leaves, make sure you’re able to get internet access.

After enough tries and not getting anywhere, I scheduled for an ATT technician to come in and determine what the problem is.  The only time he had available was the next day.  More time lost!  Silly me to think that upgrading would be as simple as plugging things together.

After the ATT technician arrived he quickly figured out that in order for higher bandwidth to work in my house, internal wiring had to be fixed.  Fixing meant landline phone lines had to be separated from the high-speed DSL line.  The lines are identical at my house – they are both copper wires.  The difference is that, to minimize noise and interference, it would be better to separate the lines so that one set of wires is dedicated to landline phones while the other is to be used only for broadband DSL traffic. 

All this work would cost $99.00.  I declined to pay the fee because there was nothing mentioned when I signed up that explained that there would be additional fees like this.  All that was advertised was that paying an extra $5 would double your internet speed.

Second problem encountered

Next problem was having the Gateway work with my Linksys E4200 router.  I couldn’t figure out how to get it to work together.  When I was using the 6 Mbps Elite Plan, my Linksys E4200 router’s Ethernet cable simply plugged directly to the Speedstream DSL modem.  But, connecting the Linksys E4200 router to the Gateway 3600HGV was entirely different – and I still can’t figure out how to make it work.  Its not simple that’s for sure.  I’ll have to search through forums to make it work. 

It turns out the Gateway functions in similar fashion to my Linksys E4200 router.  It provides wireless access as well as wired access.  For now, the solution is to not use the Linksys E4200 router.  For wireless devices, I had to add the Gateway’s SSID and password.  The good news is that the SSID and password are clearly imprinted on a sticker on the side of the Gateway.  It can’t be missed.  Setting up devices to get wireless access is really simple.  For wired devices, simply plug Ethernet cables to the Gateway.

Bandwidth measurements

Using www.speedtest.net, my download speed topped out at roughly 5.18 Mbps and my upload speed topped out at 0.65 Mbps before upgrading.

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After the upgrade, my download speed hit 11.51 Mbps and my upload speed hit 1.41 Mbps.  Its great that its more than double my original speed but I don’t get the advertised download speed of 12 Mbps

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Am I satisfied?

Cost is too much.  My rates just increased fro $48 to $51 in just a month.  I’ll keep tracking the prices but the price hikes are just ridiculous.

As for the speed, well, why don’t I get 12 Mbps as it states on the ATT website?  What I pay for should be what I get.  For now, I’ll stick with ATT until something better comes a long.

Lost time.  The fact that I had to wait for two service technicians in a span of two days cost me a lot of productivity.  Second, being without internet for more than a day is really disruptive to me.  It sure made me realize how important the internet is and how crucial it is to modern day life.  Its another utility – a luxury utility.

There is a bandwidth limit of 250 GB per month.  The ATT website states this.

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I never thought I’d see limits to internet use.  This could get tricky now that I have more devices using the broadband connection – we use Netflix often on our Smart TV, sometimes Pandora,  Roku, multiple computers, hand held devices, etc.. all vying for data.

Last words

I hope you found my write up about my experience helpful.  If you have any questions or want to know more, feel free to post a comment.

Windows 8 command to find text in a file buried deep in subdirectories

Something I learned long time ago and I find continually useful.  This is a way to use the Windows 8 PowerShell Get-ChildItem and Select-String commands to search through files for a particular word, even files buried deep in subdirectories.

Simply type the command below in the following format.

Get-ChildItem –Recurse –Include [files] | Select-String [text to search for]

For example,

get-childitem –recurse –include *.* | select-string “particular”

When executing the following command, the output can be a bit messy.  Here are some commands that could make the output cleaner

  • Shows the directory path and name of the file that contains the text you are looking for
  • get-childitem –recurse –include *.* | select-string “particular" | Select-Object -Property Path

How to activate a window by using “mouse over”

Here is a feature that allows me to quickly switch between windows on my Windows 8 desktop.  With this feature you can position your mouse arrow over any portion of an opened desktop application (without clicking any mouse buttons) and it will become the active window.

Here are the steps to enable this feature:

1) Type “mouse works” on your Start screen and select Change how your mouse works

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Note that the search result shows up in the Settings category.

A window will pop-up in your desktop called Make the mouse easier to use

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2) Left-click on Activate a window by hovering over it with a mouse

That’s all there is to it.

Notes:

  1. If you hover your mouse arrow over the “body” portion of Internet Explorer (E), it will not activate Internet Explorer.  This is because the area where the browser renders a webpage is tracking where your mouse pointer is moving so that it can know when it has to emphasize links.  To activate the browser, you’ll have to hover your mouse over areas that aren’t rendering a web page.

How to change the size of Live Taskbar Previews to make it easier to see contents of an application

One of the great things I like about using a computer powered by Microsoft Windows is its configurability.  You can change the hardware or software as you want to fit your needs.  In this write-up, I’ll describe how you can change the size of Live Taskbar Previews.

In case you didn’t know, I’m referring to Live Taskbar Previews, which is a feature where

…you can point to a taskbar button to see a live preview of its open windows—including webpages and live video. Move your mouse over a thumbnail to preview the window full screen, and click it to go open the window. You can even close windows and pause video and songs from the thumbnail previews—a big time saver.

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The previews show you what’s happening on your desktop.  This feature was first introduced in Windows 7 and was carried over to Windows 8.

With a simple edit to the registry, you can change the size of the Live Taskbar Preview windows.  You can make them larger so that contents of previews are easier to see.  Here is a step-by-step guide of how to do that.

1) Edit the registry using a program called regedit

In your Start Screen, type “regedit”.  Windows will search for the program and the result should look like this:

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Left-click on regedit.exe

2) Before changing anything in the registry, make a back up of the current registry.

Left-click on File, then left-click on Export

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I’ve created a directory under Documents\My PC\My Registry Backup where I save my registry backups.

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To be extra safe, select All in the Export range portion of the windows, which is on the bottom of the window.  In this example, I’ve saved the registry backup with the name “My Registry Backup 20130113.reg”.  Basically, what the file name is with today’s date.

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The left-click on Save.

Now your registry should be backed up.

3) Create a registry variable called MinThumbSizePx in  Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Taskband  and set it to a value of 500.

Browse to Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Taskband

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Right-click on the right side of the Registry Editor window.  A selection called New should appear like so.

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Left-click on New and select DWORD (32-bit) Value.

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A new registry item is created called New Value #1

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Change the New Value #1 variable to MinThumbSizePx.  The result should look like this

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Double left-click on the new MinThumbSizePx variable you created to change its Data value.

A window will pop-up called Edit DWORD (32-bit) Value.  Select Decimal.

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In the Value data field, enter 500 then left-click on the OK button.

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The new registry variable you created in the registry should look like this.

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4) Exit out of the Registry Editor and restart your computer.

From now on, Live Taskbar Preview windows will now be larger and it will be easier to see contents of an application.  As you run more instances of an application, it is normal to see the preview windows get smaller.  This happens so that more preview windows can be accommodated.

You can change the value for MinThumbSizePx again if you don’t like the way Taskbar Preview looks like with a setting of 500.  Just edit the MinThumbSizePx variable again using the same regedit program.  You’ll have to restart the computer each time you change it. 

The Windows Start button isn’t needed anymore

Two months into using Windows 8, I’m realizing that it is okay to let the Start button go.

When I first used Windows 8, I bought Stardock’s Start8 program, the software used to make Windows 8 look and behave more like previous generations of Windows software.  It was out of habit that I always sought the Start button.  I would click on it and navigate through files and programs that I want to use.

Now I find that I don’t miss the Start button at all.  That is because it is quicker to tap the Windows key and type the first few letters of a program or file.  It is quicker to left click on a previously pinned program. 

Way more efficient

Did Microsoft software developers get it right?  Did they see something after years of developing and testing Windows 8?  Did they figure out that removing the Start button made sense after the day-to-day grind of software development and testing?  I think they did. 

They found a way of using Windows that complements how Windows 8 does everything faster than its predecessors.

Looking back, I think of all the articles and comments I’ve seen on the internet about people complaining about the missing Start button.  A big part is that people get so used to seeing things a certain way.  People are creatures of habit. 

If you think about it, prior Windows versions might have been developed without a Start button.  People’s habits wouldn’t be aware of a Start button at all.  Their habits wouldn’t know any better or worse.  It would be just the way things are.  And, they wouldn’t be complaining about a Start button.  The computer would still usable.  People would still be able to get their work done.

Now it makes me wonder, what other things have I been doing – out of habit – that have been imposed upon me, that could be done differently or even better?

The Start button.  It isn’t needed anymore.

How to fix Error Updating Shortcut when changing Windows PowerShell Properties

I was running Windows PowerShell, not as administrator, and I didn’t like the window’s layout – it was too tall for my screen.  I decided I wanted to change the layout every time I started PowerShell.  I changed the layout using the Properties pop-up window and after I left-click the OK button, I got the following error message:

Error Updating Shortcut

Unable to modify the shortcut:

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Check to make sure it has not been deleted or renamed.

The error message contained in the pop-up window would look like this:

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This error happened because PowerShell was run not as administrator and when I changed PowerShell Properties, it was trying to ensure that my changes stick the next time I wanted to run PowerShell again. 

The solution to this problem is to simply run PowerShell as administrator and change the PowerShell Properties.  If done properly, the next time I run PowerShell not as administrator, it will run with your new settings.

The steps below detail how it is done.

1. Run PowerShell as administrator

In your Start Screen, type the word “powershell”.  Windows 8 will look for the program and the results should look like the image below.  The green boxes highlight key items of doing the search.  Note that the word Apps on the right of the screen is highlighted.

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Right-click on Windows PowerShell and, in the pop-up bar on the bottom of your screen, left-click Run as administrator.  Please see the two green boxes in the image below.

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The Windows PowerShell window should pop-up in the desktop.  The title of the windows should read “Administrator: Windows PowerShell”.

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2. Change the Properties

Right-click on the windows title, then left-click on Properties.

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There are a variety of settings you can change.  Once you are done, left-click on the OK button.

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Now, if you run Windows PowerShell again, not as administrator, it will run with your new settings.