Instantly more productive


I’d read about this feature for a long time and pretty much ignored it. I just didn’t have a need for it.

Until yesterday.

On Sundays, there are three big tasks to do around here. First, I write a post for Monday morning. Second, I write a post summarising my previous week and schedule it for five pm on Sunday afternoon. Third, I have a Google Spreadsheet where I record all of the blog authors, their blog post, and a bunch of other details from the Friday “This Week in Ontario Edublogs” post.

The third one is really just tedious information. It’s a matter of copying and pasting information from the actual blog post and the planning document into the spreadsheet. I’ve done it so many times that I could probably do it in my sleep. Some of the information is unique to each post and other information is the same like the URL to my Friday post.

For years, I’ve mastered the skill of CTRL+C and CTRL+V for copying and pasting. Since there are a number of things to be moved in this manner, it dawned on me that what I had been reading and ignoring actually had a place in the routine.

It’s a feature that’s been in Windows 10 and 11 and I just didn’t see a need to try and it was only a key away.

You’ve been using Windows cut and paste all wrong

The CTRL+C part was good but it was replacing CTRL+V with Windows key + V. Instead of just pasting, it gives access to the copying history where I already had the information I needed just sitting in memory. It seems like a simple thing and, until I actually tried it, I had ignored it. Since It cut out switching back to another document, it was a time saver. I didn’t realise how much of a time-saver until I finished the task so quickly.

The next step seemed natural and that was if Windows Key + V was magic, what about Windows Key + C. That is a Windows key combination but didn’t do what I could use.

I read a lot of these types of article and sit down and try them out. Previous to this, I knew of it but it didn’t change my routine until I actually found a purpose for it. It’s now part of my routine and will make me just that much more productive every Sunday.

Still waiting


When I upgraded my computer from Windows 10 to Windows 11, I thought that the experience would be like Windows 10, only better. It seemed to me that the logical thing was to take the existing code and add features, tweak here and there and keep on going.

I suppose that, for the most part, that’s what happening. Like any operating systems, there are regular updates and I look forward to fixes and improvements.

Yet, despite all this, there’s one feature in Windows 10 that has never appeared in Windows 11 and, according to this, may be a while coming. It seems like a simple thing.

And yet …

Microsoft explains why you can’t move Windows 11 Taskbar

It seems like such a simple thing to me, the end user.

My Windows computer is a 15.5 inch display. It’s really wide. It’s terrific for watching videos full screen. However, most web pages don’t take advantage of the wideness of the screen. Those sites, like this blog, have open space. Good resources are typically “long” and require a great deal of scrolling.

Don’t you just love that green border that’s outside the white border?

All that I want is to be able to move the taskbar to the left side of the screen. It would take advantage of all the screen real estate that I have from left to right and give me more reading room from top to bottom.

My Chromebook and MacBook Pro have that feature although the MacBook Pro isn’t a wide screen computer. Windows 10 used to allow the taskbar to be moved.

All that I want is that feature back.

In the meantime, I just wait I guess.

Overkill?


It comes as a bit of irony that I read this article on my Chromebook this morning.

Surface Laptop 4 15-inch vs. MacBook Pro 16-inch: Which is better?

Even before I read the article, I knew what the conclusion would be. It’s a comparision piece and I’ve seen so many of the years. It’s written in the US so I did a quick lookup to see what the pricing of the two products would be in Canadian dollars.

Surface Laptop $1 750 – $5 150

MacBook Pro $3 150 – $4 400

The Chromebook that I read the article on and am currently writing the post on came in at $500. To be fair, top end Google Chromebooks to match the Surface and MacBook Pro would be in the range of $880 – $1850.

Now, there was a time when those higher end Windows and Macintosh machines would have captured my attention and I would be drooling. Those were the days when there was an application that needed to be installed on the computer in order to be functional. It didn’t stop there. If you needed 10 things done, you probably needed 10 applications! Those applications are still there and I still have a few of them installed for specific purposes. My Chromebook allows me to install Linux applications and I do have Libre Office in particular installed but honestly I don’t use it. It was just fun to go through the process of enabling it. Ditto for Android installation but it is nice to be able to use Opera as an alternative browser to Chrome at times.

Instead, I have embraced the concept of the web based world and do any creation in online applications these days. Finally having decent internet speeds at home made a huge difference.

In actual fact, it seems less important for me to compare these very high end laptops. If you’re disposed to buy Macintosh, you’ll overlook the heavier machine and lack of scrolling or find some way to rationalize things. If you’re disposed to buy Windows, you’ll know that Windows 11 is new to the market and, while the foundation is built and ready, the rest of the ladder is being built while you’re climibing it.

I would doubt that anyone would be buying one of those machines as their first laptop and if it was an upgrade, you’re probably already vested in your particular platform and unlikely to change. But it still is interesting to read, compare, and think back to a time when specifications might well be a determining factor.

What’s so intriguing about the Chromebook is that it is rock solid with its Linux base and you don’t need to use it (unless you want to) because everything is accessed through the Chrome browser interface.

Of course, the Chrome browser is available for Macintosh and Windows. That’s the great leveler between all three of the platforms.

And, in a day when so much stuff is done online anyway, it makes the comparisons that I so valued at one time, really just an academic read.

Productivity


So far, my experience with Windows 11 has been kind of ho-hum. And, I mean that in a good way. It works really well; the applications that I’ve always used are there and function as well as with Windows 10 or better.

I’m not fussy about the widgets so, quite honestly, am not using them. Besides, when you click on a link, it loads the Microsoft Edge browser. I even thought about right clicking to see if the alternatives for browsing were there but they aren’t. I’m still a bit miffed that I can’t move the taskbar to the left side of the screen. I’m fearful that I’m getting used to it on the bottom and may not switch back if it becomes available. OK, that’s not right; I’d switch in a heartbeat. I like every bit of real estate taken up to make me more productive. Although I have changed the wallpaper on this computer, the only time I see it is when the computer is booting.

It’s not uncommon for me to have many windows open in my browser where I spend most of my time these days. Except for GIMP. You never know when you might need to edit an image.

For years, I’ve had multiple windows open on multiple monitors. And, multiple tabs there as well and sometimes multiple desktops. At times, it seems like I’m stickhandling to get them all into place. Snapping to full screen is easy but having a couple of windows and trying to maximize the amount of space to each can be a challenge. Well, not a big challenge, more of a thing that’s become part of my regular routine.

There is a feature in Windows 11 that I’m really enjoying and it adds about five seconds of productivity to my sessions. It’s called Snap Assist. Snapping has always been around in Windows 10 but there’s so much more in Windows 11. A whole tutorial is available here.

It’s all configurable from the Settings application.

I just typically start by hovering over the maximize button to get the layouts that are available. Normally, on my main screen, I’ll have a two windowed layout and a four windows layout on my external monitor. If I’m working on a project with a number of resources, I find it handy to have them open in their own window and just activate them when I need them. It stops me from forgetting something or alt-tabbing to try and find it.

Weekly, for example, I write a weekly summary of things around here for Sunday afternoon. I’ll have the WordPress editor open in the left window and my actual blog open on the right so that I can scroll through to see what I had done on a particular day and then make a note of it in the other window where I’m editing.

It’s a routine that I’ve worked on to make happen and now with Snap Assist, it’s just a little bit quicker to get to it.

Thinking about widgets


Continuing my investigation and discovery with Windows 11 crossed paths with an online survey about the use of widgets on Android phones this weekend.

The survey was simple enough; it wanted to know how many widgets you use on your phone. I took a look and saw that I had four

  • Windy
  • Opera search bar and QR code reader
  • Storage and memory allocation of my phone from Samsung
  • Step counter from Samsung Health

Why widgets? They make so much sense on the phone. It’s nice to just be able to flip to the home screen to see what’s up. I do value the information and its ease of access. I’m also aware that they may well be an ongoing drain on battery use due to the fact that they’re constantly working whether I’m using them or not, unlike actual applications that have to be launched in order to work. My battery is still in good shape and my routine allows it to be functional for an entire day and that’s my standard for success. I can remember a time when a widget was something unique and special. Now, it seems that every application can also have a widget.

Turning to the computer though, my first experience with widgets came with the Macintosh operating system where they can slide in on demand or, at times, when I accidentally move my cursor to a hot spot. Quite honestly, I’ve never really found a use for them on the computer. I tried using it with Notes but since I always seem to have a browser open, it’s much more natural for me to just open a tab and work in a Google document.

With Windows 11 comes widgets. There’s a nice default installation although the news seems to have a decidedly US slant to it. I could probably customize things if I wanted it. But, like me with a television remote, I don’t want to just see what’s on, I want to see what else is on.

These are my options when I went to add more widgets.

I tried a couple of them and clicked on the links which promptly loaded the Edge browser to show the content. That’s not cool since I like to think that I’m in control and I’m not currently using the Edge browser. A link should be a link should be a link and not a call to launch something else when what’s currently open will do the job.

The whole process got me thinking about the Widgets on my Mac. I don’t use them there; why would I use them here? If I want a news or other update, I have Flipboard, News360, and Start.me already pinned as tabs.

There’s been a lot of praise given by people writing reviews of Windows 11 and it’s a lot about how it’s nice that they’re included in the release. Maybe it’s because I’ve never had access before and have other ways to stay connected. I’m just not feeling the urge at this time to open an overlay onto my workspace. It’s like the rounded corners on windows. I typically have whatever application that I’m using opened to a full screen. I value all the screen real estate and I guess I’m just too stingy to give it up at present.

Besides, my phone is just to the right in its own stand. If I need a widget, I could just look there.

My journey continues.