Not Quite so Lost in Windows 8.1

I’ve found a couple of things in Windows 8.1 that help me get around a little better.

When you mouse around on the Start screen, a down-arrow in a circle shows up. Clicking it give the list of Windows 8-style apps. Look to the right and you’ll see a second section with the desktop-style programs. On Windows 8, you get pretty much the same thing by right-clicking on an empty part of the Start screen, then clicking the “All apps” option that comes up. The helpful bit is that you can sort the Windows 8.1 app list by name, most used, date installed, or category. Better than reading through the whole list.

On the desktop the much-hyped Start button they added just takes you back to the Start screen.  Woo-hoo…  The one tiny helpful bit is that you now have a bigger target for right-clicking to bring up the useful management menu. Windows 8 makes you point precisely at the lower right corner. WIndows 8.1 lets you right-click anywhere on the Start icon.  AND, they finally got smart and added Shut Down and Restart to the management menu.

BUT they still didn’t put the printers on the menu. Oh, well, just do Control-C for the Charms menu, then click Devices, then Print.. nooo, that isn’t it…  Umm… Still have to go through the Control panel to get to Printers.  🙁

That’s all I’ve found to get “excited” about in Windows 8.1 so far.  How about you?



Lifting the Window Shade

Windows 8 has tried my patience and observation skills from the first time I turned it on. I’d read that Windows 8 is intended for touch-screen computers, so I wanted to see how far I could get without using a mouse or keyboard.

The first thing I saw was a full-screen picture of the Space Needle with mountains in the background. It had the date and time and signal-strength bars. I tried touching and tapping. I stroked to  the left. I stroked to the right. I stroked down. The picture moved a little, but snapped right back. I “flicked” in from the corners. I tried to squeeze it down with my thumb and finger.

I finally got fed up, grabbed the mouse and clicked on the picture. It went away and gave me a login screen! Why would a “touch” interface respond to a mouse click but not to a finger tap?

Another day I found out that you can stroke up, like lifting a window shade. So I found exactly ONE way to proceed by touch and TWO ways by mouse (left-click anywhere, or left-click & hold & drag up) and ONE way by keyboard – just tap any key.

Now I could finally type my password with the on-screen keyboard or the real one.  I’ve read that you can set Windows 8 to use a “gesture password” over a picture of your choice. I haven’t yet figured out where they hid the ability to turn this on.

Windows 8 is Down and Out

When I got logged into Windows 8, nothing looked familiar until I saw my name in the upper right corner, so I touched that. It said “Change account picture”, “Lock”, “Sign out” and “Switch account”. I just got here, so I touched the first one. This gave me a full-screen menu of “PC settings” so I thought, “OK, I’ll come back to this later.”  I pressed Escape on the keyboard, but nothing happened.

I remembered how I’d “lifted the window shade” to login, so I tried that. Nothing. I tapped, stroked, flicked and pinched. Still no response. I gave up on the touch screen and tried a bunch of those motions with the mouse. I happened to notice the mouse pointer change to a “hand” at the very top of the screen. I clicked and dragged and the screen shrank down and moved around with the mouse. When I let go, it sprang open again.

I went back to Googling on my Windows 7 computer. I eventually found that I needed to drag the shrunken screen down and off the bottom to close it. Where did Microsoft get this “down and out” metaphor? How are we supposed to guess which way and how far to drag? Why can’t there be a red “X” somewhere to touch?

Lost in Windows 8

I’ve been working with computers since Bill Gates was in high school. (He’s seven months older.) The difference is, he went on to Harvard, and I got sick with overwhelming headaches due to a chronic illness that is now identified as Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, although, back then it wasn’t even recognized yet.

I spent over two years mostly secluded at home. My main links to the outside world were Perry Mason on TV at noon and my subscription to Popular Electronics magazine. When the January 1975 issue arrived showing the Altair 8800 computer  on the cover, I dug out my HP BASIC programming notes from high school and dreamed of owning my own computer.

As my health improved, I eventually got an unofficial project at IBM in Portland, Oregon writing a data tracking and reporting program in IBM BASIC. This was on IBM’s “small” computer before the IBM PC, named the IBM 5110.

After eight years of programming and managing computers as an employee, I began a career as a self-employed computer consultant, now in my 25th year. It’s definitely been a challenge to keep up with the constant changes in technology!  There are often conflicts and shortcomings that need to be worked through. I admire and use Bill’s software, but my tactic has been to wait while other people get stuck and figure things out. Then I benefit from their experience and share it with my customers. This time is different…

The almost free Windows 8 upgrade offer had some of my customers talking about upgrading to Windows 8 as soon as it came out! Others are sure to buy new Windows 8 computers before the end of the year to deduct from their 2012 taxes. I decided that I’d better install Windows 8 and get started on finding solutions to the problems and questions that will be sure to come up.

My first impressions of Windows 8 were not positive. Windows 8 looks so different from previous versions of Windows that I felt lost. The very first change in looks begins at the beginning – Windows 8 opens up to a full screen picture with no place to type and nothing obvious to click on.  It felt like a barricade.  I tried the touch screen.  Pulling down, pulling sideways left and right, and tapping it.  Ah, pulling up – like lifting a window shade (ha, ha) worked! After I typed in my password, I was at the start screen.  Another puzzle was before me.  A block of multi-colored tiles with a color scheme I find unappealing.  I could see places to click, but not what I wanted, which was the control panel.  (Wanna see a real life experience of a man befuddled by Windows 8?). I couldn’t see how to check my network, install my printer, or even shut down the computer! I felt so frustrated, but I’ve gotten past that, and have even started to appreciate some of the new Windows 8 features.

I wanted a way to keep track of all this new information I’ve been absorbing for my own benefit and to share with my clients, and then I thought “why not share with everybody?” So I’ve decided to blog about where I get lost, what I find in Windows 8, and help others in the same boat.

It is my hope that you will find these posts a valuable resource and aid to your problems and annoyances in trying to cope with Windows 8. Feel free to contact me with your questions about Windows 8, and I’ll find answers to share. If you live in the Willamette Valley and need help with your personal or business computers or networks, contact us at Performance Computer Services for a solution to your computer problems.