Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Microsoft Sculpt Wireless Mouse less accurate


I have found the Microsoft Sculpt Wireless Mouse is less accurate than either a wired or traditional wireless mouse.  I suspect the reason is the mouse transmits over bluetooth and is encrypted.  The encrypted traffic slows the mouse down.

I do not have scientific proof, but I know my experience and it has taken a long time to reach this conclusion.  You may not notice this problem in normal word-processing or browsing work.

Keyliner Review:  Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard and Mouse Review.


Mouse:

I was reluctant to use this mouse because it was so large and ungainly.  It gets tepid reviews, even on Microsoft's site, but I learned to like the mouse, then to dislike it. 


A picture about the mouse is worth a thousand words.  Once I learned this, I understood the mouse:




In the end, I was surprised; this mouse is noticeably more comfortable than other mouse or trackpad I have used.

If you have an existing wireless mouse, abandon it and use the new mouse. Two reasons: 
  • The mouse is comfortable.  You will be surprised.  
  • The USB transmitter/dongle handles the keyboard, number pad and mouse. No sense taking up another USB port for a second transmitter for a different mouse.

Follow-up:

I have found this particular wireless mouse is less accurate than wired mice.

I find I am subtly overshooting or undershooting the intended target, and often have to orbit pixels.  Definitely not a problem with a wired mouse.   It turns out this problem is well-known in gaming circles.

Not all wireless mice have this problem.  Because this mouse is encrypted, I suspect it takes it longer to calculate the position. The effect is barely detectable, but it noticeable if you are skilled; especially in drawing programs.  The encryption cannot be disabled so there is no way to test this hypothesis.

I have since abandoned the mouse, but kept the reviewed keyboard.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Stopping Telemarketing Calls - ATT Call Protect

How to stop telemarketing calls when using AT&T cellular.

The AT&T program, "ATT Call Protect", is a free service that helps block telemarketing, surveys, scams and other such calls. 

The program is written by another company, "Hiya caller-ID and Block" and the two are nearly identical.  If you are not an ATT customer, consider the Hiya version, which can also be found in the appstores. 

I recommend this version over other call-blocking software I have tried.

Installing:

ATT Android customers have to install two pieces of software from the app PlayStore:  "ATT Mobile Security" and then "ATT Call Protect," in that order.  I am unclear why both programs are required.  As you install, you have to go through some gyrations to connect to the ATT database and prove you are a legitimate ATT customer; all is menu driven. 

Apple users only need to install one application, "ATT Call Protect".

Non ATT customers should install the "Hiya Caller-ID and Block version."  I suspect this is easier to install, although none of them are hard.  In all cases, grant rights to your Address Book and to the phone.  Your address book acts like a white-list.


Flaws:

The tool works well but has a few small design flaws:
  • Calls are not blocked at the network, instead uses a locally-installed application.
     
  • On ATT Android phones, two applications are required for this one function. It took me several attempts to get ATT's access code typed in; their install is a bit kooky.  They Hiya version probably installs easier, but it will slightly change your Answer-phone dialogs.
     
  • Flagging calls requires a couple of clicks and a pull-down menu -- a bit too complicated for when you are angry.  The "Report" button is mis-named and should have been called "Flag."  This is really a minor complaint.
     
  • Unsure the difference between Report (flag) and Block.  Probably not material.
     
  • Flagged calls by other users sometimes still reach your phone.  They need to be blocked by enough people to stop arriving.  For example, I saw one call with 600 flags, but it still rang my phone.  This defies logic.
     
Even with the flaws, it is still worthwhile. The program works and I have been pleased with the results.



A locally-installed app is required because this is how you report spam.  As more people "flag" the number, its reputation gets bad enough to be "blocked."  It seems that 100 nation-wide reports is the trigger to move a caller into the blocked list.  The more of us who report, the more accurate and better-responding the app becomes.

Illustrated shows my phone has 13 legitimate inbound calls.  Four have been flagged as suspicious  (and they did not ring my phone - and yet for some flagged calls, they did ring... I am confused by this), and another 4 were blocked.  Clicking the numbers reveal more details.



Flagged or blocked, the calls still arrive at your phone, but they are in stealth-mode and you will not hear the ring.   I wish the call were blocked higher-up on the network, but this is a quibble and does not change your experience.

With flagged or blocked calls, the app proudly informs you on the top-notification bar.  I found this slightly annoying.  If desired, click the app's hamburger menu, settings, and turn off "blocked call notifications" (recommended).  Or, from the System, Apps menu, block notifications from there.


Periodically, I open the app and look at the inventory, nudging a few of the calls along their journey to block-dom. 


Complicated Flagging

You can simply ignore blocked calls and let others worry about reporting bad guys -- but the more who report, the faster it gets blocked.

If a call rings on your phone, that means nobody bothered to flag it.  With disgust, hang up and open the app; find the call and click either "Report" or "Block." 

If you click "Report", another menu appears, where you can select what type of call it was:

- General Spam
- Telemarketer
- IRS Scam
- Debt Collector
- Political
- Survey, etc.

I am sure this is useful, but nobody has time for this. Report the call and be done with it.  Perhaps an "Advanced Flag" button?  I can understand the reasoning, but seems like a lot of clicks and a too many decisions. 

I wish the "Report" button were labeled as "Flag" -- matching the rest of the screens.  

 
Competing Programs

In the app-stores you can find dozens of competing call-block programs.  Most are scams or are used by so few as-to-be ineffective.

One program, "TrueCaller" (out of Scandinavia), has been popular.  But like most apps, it contains advertisements and has in-app purchases. I tried "TrueCaller" for a couple of weeks and found it pestered me too often about upgrades and it pestered too often when it blocked calls.  I felt ATT's software was less intrusive.

ATT's Call Protect was written by a company named Hiya.  Hiya's own program, "Hiya caller-ID and Block" is available separately in the app store, with 5M downloads.  I did not try this version, but it looks nearly identical.  I suspect ATT purchased a license and both versions use the same database.  The Hiya version overlays the phone-answer panels with their own screens, making it slightly different than you might be used to.  I decided to use the ATT version.  Your thoughts on this program are welcome.


Other Minor Issues with ATT Software:

My ATT phone came with the usual array of crap-ware, including "ATT Protect Plus" -- which I think is an older version of ATT Call Protect.  You cannot un-install that software, being locked into my phone, and one wonders if they have conflicts.  Your phone may have a different experience.

Use this keyliner article to disable the older version (and other programs):
http://keyliner.blogspot.com/2014/12/disable-cellphone-crapware-android.html


My phone also came with a security and virus scanning program called "Lookout".  Unfortunately, this cannot be uninstalled or disabled.  "ATT's Mobile Security" (the first of two required programs used by the call-blocking software) is written by the same Lookout company.  As near as I can tell, both programs are running at the same time and both do the same thing.  Except for wasted resources, I have seen no harm.  I happen to like ATT's version and without any grounds, I trust it more than the free version that came on my phone.


Conclusion:

If you are an ATT customer, install their version; if you are not an ATT customer, consider the Hiya version.  Participate in flagging and blocking unwanted calls and help the database grow. 

I have noticed some Verizon phones have similar features and it may be part of the Samsung experience.  My Verizon friends thought this was normal and never had to go out of their way to install.  This shows there is a fine line between having unwanted crapware and having a truly useful utility.  I think the key is un-install-ability. And what if you are lonely and want these calls?  What if you like to harass them?  The world is complicated.


Related Articles:
Disable unwanted Cell phone crapware

Related and mentioned software:
ATT Protect Home Page
Hiya Caller-ID and Block (see App Stores)


Thursday, July 20, 2017

HP35s Scientific Calculator with RPN

Review: General review of HP's RPN calculators and why you should switch. I just bought a new HP35s.

HP35s Scientific Calculator (RPN)

Author's note: Although this article is dated, first written in 2009, I smiled today as I reviewed it and decided to re-publish it.  I am still using these same calculators!

This is a digression from the usual computer topics. If you need to calculate more than simply adding and multiplying numbers, consider using an HP "RPN" calculator. In this short article, I will explain why this type of calculator is better than a standard "Algebraic" calculator.

(Illustration: My new calculator and my daughter's statistics text book)

Consider this formula. Using your current calculator, compute the result:


Questions:
  • Did you get the right answer the first time?
  • Did you write down intermediate answers?
  • Did you type parenthesis?
  • Were you confident, as you entered the numbers, that you were on the right track or did you have to wait for the final equal-sign before you were done?

Now try this formula:



Again, the same questions:
  • Were you confident?
  • Did you see the intermediate results?
  • Did you have to save values into Memory (M1), (M2)?
  • Did you type a boat-load of parenthesis?

My daughter, with her expensive TI calculator, tried these formulas several times and was not confident in her results.

Here is the surprise:

With an HP (RPN) calculator, you would get the correct answer the first time. You would have a high degree of confidence, knowing each intermediate step was reasonable -- with results displayed as you type formulas.

For example, on the HP, you would see the following:


- As you typed "2+3" you would see "5"
- As you typed "4+5" you would see "9"
- and when multiplied together (2+3) x (4+5) you would see "45"

RPN calculators show intermediate results and there are no parenthesis, nor do you need to store values in "M" (memory) -- the calculator handles all of this for you.   


What is RPN?

RPN stands for Reverse Polish Notation. The gist is this: You enter the formulas in the same way you would if solving on paper and pencil; solving from left-to-right, inner-parenthesis first, using "My Dear Aunt Sally" (multiplication and division before addition and subtraction). These are the same rules learned in 3rd-grade.

RPN keystrokes are different than an algebraic calculator. With RPN, you type the first number,then press ENTER and type the second number.  After the two numbers are typed, press the function (add, subtract, etc.)  Of interest, there is no "Equal" key.

This works to your advantage. With this, you can type the most horrendous function and never once have to type a parenthesis or save an intermediate value.

Using the first example, the keystrokes would be this:

2 (Enter, separates this first number from the second)
3 +
The calculator shows the intermediate result: 5

4 (Enter, separates this from the above "5" *)
5 +
The calculator shows the intermediate result: 9
x (times)
The calculator shows: 45
Sqrt
The calculator shows the intermediate result: 6.708

Without pressing any other keys, begin the second part of the equation by typing:
6 (Enter *Technically, this ENTER is not required because the SQRT resolved)
7 + .... etc.
completing this part the same as the first.
Once completed, press "+", adding the two big sections together.

At each stage, intermediate results are always displayed. Yes, the keystrokes are counter-intuitive, but after practicing for ten minutes, you will never forget and you will never go back.

I have used HP's RPN for so many years I can no longer use a "standard" calculator and I am embarrassed when forced to -- I can only solve the simplest equations on those types of calculators -- Algebraic calculators now seem completely foreign to me.

Choosing an HP Calculator:
  • HP makes both Algebraic (press "Equals) and RPN calculators (press "Enter") -- be sure to pick the right model.
HP divides the world into two types: Financial and Scientific. If you are a banker or real estate, choose a Financial calculator (12c). Otherwise, choose the Scientific calculators (even if you are not a scientist). Here are my recommendations:

Scientific/Non-business Calculators:
HP33s ($40.00) low-end calculator. 
If you can, buy the 35s; it has a better keyboard.

HP35s ($60.00) Recommended

HP50g ($150.00) Graphing (now dated)

HPG8X92AA (graphic)  I will be buying this calculator next:







Business: (Interest/PMT/Financial)
HP12C ($70)

This is an Industry Standard calculator for all financial users. HP reviewed this calculator a few years ago and decided, even after 30 years of production, nothing needed changed. This same calculator, with the same features, has been produced since then. Remarkable.


Look and Feel:
These calculator are pleasurable to use. The buttons "feel" substantial; with a solid, satisfying 'click' as you type. People who use HP calculators rave about the keyboard -- it is unlike any other calculator. When HP has made some cheaper models, with cheaper keyboards (the 33s, for example), users complained.

I believe all of the scientific calculators are programmable (you can write your own functions, automating common tasks).

The other thing about these calculators is they never die. My first HP11c is now approaching 30 years old and I still use it several times a week. I think I've changed the batteries three times in all those years.  It uses standard watch batteries.

My other HP calculator, which sits at home, is a 20-year-old HP32s and I only recently replaced it with a newer 35s for no other reason than I wanted to see what the new calculators looked like.

In short: If you are in school, or if you need to do a bit more than common math, spend a few dollars, get a quality calculator. Take twenty minutes studying the first couple of chapters in the manual, and you will never go back to those old, stinky, run-of-the-mill calculators again.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

WD Smartware Password Problem

How to: Western Digital SmartWare backup prompts for user-id and password.

Problem:  Western Digital Smartware backup is prompting for a user-id and password and you don't know what it is. 

Likely Solution:

1.  In the Smartware program, click the SanDrive/Cloud Drive's pull-down menu, illustrated below in the circle'd highlight area. Change the pull-down menu to the the backup (share).

On my drive, my backup volume is named "SmartwareBackup".  Choose the backup volume and the password problem should go away.



2.  Once the backup volume is selected, click the WD My Cloud icon and give it a few seconds to login.  When successful, the [Backup] tab should be enabled.



An area I am Unsure:

If you do the steps above, I don't think you will need credentials.  But, if you need the user-id and password, do the following:

1.  Start, Run, CMD (A command Prompt/ DOS Prompt)
2.  Note the c:> prompt.  For example, mine reads:

C:\Users\trayw>

where "trayw" is my account name.

3.  For your login credentials, type "trayw".  For the password, use the password you use when first booting and logging into the machine; using your Windows password.


For setup and backup strategies, see this keyliner article:
Western Digitial My Cloud Review   (In particular, note the Data Backup section)


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Windows 10 Wired Network named after Wireless

How-to: Change the Network Name in Windows 10

I noticed my Windows 10 network name was showing my Wireless network when it should be showing the wired. 


This made me believe my desktop, which has both a Wireless Network and a standard wired RJ45, was using the wrong card. 

After disabling the computer's wireless card (see Control Panel, Network and Internet, Network Connections), and rebooting, it still reported the original Wireless name.  This proved I was using the wired connection -- but the name was wrong.

If you login to the Wireless router's admin panels, you will not find a broadcast name for the Wired connection.  Nor will you find a way to change the name in the Network Sharing Center, nor in the TCP/IP adapter settings.

The name is only exposed in the Registry.

How did this happen?  The first time the workstation connected, it connected via Wireless and placed the name into the Registry.  Switching to the wired connection maintained the same profile and name.

 
Renaming the Network Connection

1.  Start, Run (Windows-key-R), "Regedit.exe"
 
2.  Tunnel to this key:

HKey Local Machine\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion
    \NetworkList\Profiles

Multiple network connections may exist, each listed with a GUID {CBSA1321...}.

3.  Within the Profiles folder, click each GUID until you find the network in question.

4.  On the detail side, illustrated below,

Change the Description to a new name
Change the Profile Name to a new name

5.  Close the Registry Editor to save changes.
Click for larger view


The change takes effect immediately, but the System Tray will not update until the next reboot.

In my case, I changed from "wolfhouse24G" to a more generic "wolfhouse".   For this workstation only, both the wired and wireless will show this same name.



Wednesday, June 28, 2017

File MD5 Checksum - How to tell if a file has changed

File MD5 Checksum - How to tell if a file has changed
File MD5 Report - Batch MD5 Reporting

A file's MD5 Checksum can tell you when a file has been modified from the author's original version.  For example, when downloading a program from the Internet, developers often will give you the file's MD5 check-sum -- your version's MD5 could be compared with the author's to see if there was a change.  

Seeing a file's MD5 checksum, sometimes called a 'hash,' requires software.  I have written a handy utility, which you can download. 

This utility can report the MD5-hash for a single file.  But more interestingly, it can keep track all MD5's in a directory -- keeping a mini-inventory.  With this, you can tell when a file has been added, changed or deleted! -- regardless of the filename or date-time-stamp.


Problem at the Office:

At the office, I had a directory of photographs that are weekly refreshed by another system.  Each week the entire inventory was replaced.  Original filenames and sizes remained the same, but because the files were re-downloaded each week, the date-time-stamp changed.  I needed a way to tell which files were different. 

This Keyliner utility resolved these problems.  It is able to tell if the same-named, same-sized photo contained different contents and it can tell who is new and who has been deleted. 


Download Utility

Download this Keyliner utility, from Keyliner's GDrive:

Link: FileChangeMD5.EXE

This utility is free for all personal and commercial use.
No registration.  No logging in.  No email.  No nag screens. 

Ironically, it has this MD5: 54-d5-e7-f6-59-7a-96-6b-6c-0e-f8-90-ac-95-b9-5d


Click the download link and save to a known directory -- but do not run from the browser (you won't be able to see the results).  The program is best run from a command-line prompt.  (Start, Run, CMD.  Then change to the download directory and type 'FileChangeMD5.exe'). 

Since the executable is not signed (too expensive), Windows will warn you of an un-trusted program downloaded from the internet.  If you trust my program, accept with a "Run anyway".  You will only be prompted for this once.





Features:
  • Show a specific file's MD5 check sum, using this command-line

    FileChangeMD5.exe file=filename.ext
     
  • Optionally, using a configuration file, report on all file-changes within a directory, showing
    -Changed Files
    -New Files
    -Deleted Files

    For example:
    FileChangeMD5.exe c:\temp\filechangeINI.MD5
     
  • Keeps track of changed files by using a text-based database - no database to install or maintain
  • Output is an ASCII tab-delimited file (default name: "Inventory.MD5"), suitable for Excel or other programming
     
  • Runs in Batch or interactive command-prompt mode
  • Runs unbelievably fast; directory is parsed in sub-seconds
     
  • Can report, grouping by changed-status, or by filename
  • Controlled with text-based INI files; multiple INI files, multiple directories, etc.
     
  • Free, no charge, no registration, no nags
  • Simple EXE - No installation required
  • No registry changes; no databases
     

Example Output:

This shows the inventory of all files in a directory (C:\Temp).  Notice the Status column:  "nochange", "changed", "new", and "deleted".  Each file's checksum/MD5 is listed:

Click for larger view

This file can be consumed by other software, parsing for the Status Column.  See also, the optional InventoryReport, below, for a similar inventory file.


Optional Inventory Reporting:

If the config file's "InventoryReport" field is populated with a file name, a secondary inventory report is generated.  The is a simplified report, showing only the type of change and the file name.






Individual File MD5 Checksum

The utility, without any configuration or setup, can report a single file's MD5 checksum, showing the results to the console. 

This example shows the MD5 hash for the file named "C:\Temp\file-01.txt"

Click for larger view

To view a single file, run the program from a Command prompt.
Use this command: 

filechangemd5.exe  file="C:\path\somefile.ext"

where the keyword "file=" is required. 
use quotes around the path and filename.

If you download this utility, use the downloaded program to check its own MD5!  Use this DOS command:

FileChangeMD5.exe fileChangeMD5.exe

Compare with my published hash near the top of this article.



Installation and Configuration:

There is no real installation to this program.  Just copy the EXE.  But if you want to inventory a directory, it requires minor notepad editing changes to a configuration file.

1.  Download FileChangeMD5.exe from Keyliner's GDrive

2.  Place executable file in any directory
     I recommend a data-folder, such as C:\Data\Programs\FileChangeMD5 or any directory.

Special Note:
If saved in "C:\Program Files"  or "C:\Program Files (x86)",
you would have to give your user-account unusual rights to update files in this protected area.
Putting the executable program in Data folder resolves this problem.

* See Advanced Installation, below, for more information on the Program Files directory.

3.  Build a sample configuration file.

     From a Command Prompt, or with Windows Explorer,
     Double-click (launch) the program for an initialization-run.

     This generates a default INI file, named "FileChangeINI.MD5
     The file arrives in the same directory as the executable. 
     (You must have rights to write the file in this directory)

Click for larger view


Notes:  
The configuration file "FileChangeINI.MD5" is an INI file, but does not use an INI file-extension.  Reason:  You do not want this file to show up in the inventory database.  Files with an ".MD5" extension are ignored by the utility.  With this, the files "Inventory.MD5" and "FileChangeINI.MD5", can live in the same directory as the files you are inventorying.

If the INI file is not generated, you do not have enough rights in that directory.  Run from a DOS prompt to see the error message.  Likely issue:  See below, Advanced Installation 


4.  Using Notepad, edit the file and change the FileDirectory path from
     C:\Temp  to a directory of your choosing.

     Close and save the configuration file.



TESTING:

Create a test directory (C:\TEMP) and populate the folder with expendable files.

A.  From a Command Prompt (DOS prompt), re-launch the program

     C:
  CD\Data\Programs\FileChangeMD5
  FileChangeMD5.EXE


     This runs the program and builds an inventory of the (C:\Temp) directory.
     The exe must be in a folder where your user-account has rights to update files.
     Often, Program Files folders are restricted.  See below for more advanced options.


Notes: 
When launched, the EXE looks in the current directory for a config file, unless told otherwise.

Notes:
Optionally move the config/INI file to any directory, any name.
Launch with this command line: 
FileChangeMD5.exe C:\mypath\myconfigINI.MD5


B.  Start, run "Notepad.exe"

      Tunnel to the directory where the Program/INI was installed.
      Select file-open, and open this file: "Inventory.MD5"

  * "Inventory.MD5" is the inventory of changed files and the first-time run
     is the base-run.  

     The first-time run, all files show as "New". 



     Close Notepad.

C.  Run the executable a second time (with no file changes)

      Using Notepad, re-open "Inventory.MD5"
      All files now show as "unchanged"  e.g. no changes to the base-inventory since the last run.



D.  Edit any test file in (C:\TEMP), making any innocuous change. Save the change.

     Consider deleting a file
     Consider adding a new, unexpected file

E.  After changing files, run the executable a third time.

     Using notepad, open file "InventoryReport.MD5"
     Note file changes in the status column:

   

To Force a re-inventory of all files in (C:\TEMP)

1.  Erase file "Inventory.MD5" and re-run the program.
     All files are re-detected as New.

To Force a single-file to be detected as "changed"
(for example, you need a downstream routine to re-process it), do the following:

1.  Using Notepad, open the current inventory file:  "Inventory.MD5"
 
2.  Edit the file's MD5 hash, changing to any random number.
     You only need to change one digit to invalidate the checksum

Click for larger view
3.  Re-run the program.  The file will show as "changed"


Advanced Installation Notes:

Microsoft has restricted "C:\Program Files (x86)" and "C:\Program Files" from unsigned, and un-installed programs.  If you are like me, you really want your utility programs in these folders, where they are protected.  The trouble is, the program wants to write a default configuration INI file in this same area.  This is resolved with these steps:

Build a default FileChangeINI.MD5 control file:

A.  Temporarily copy "FileChangeMD5.exe" to a data folder (such as MyDownloads, C:\data, etc.)

B.  Launch the program one time (double-clicking).  It will have enough rights to write its default configuration file, "FileChangeINI.MD5" -- or copy the file from below and avoid the temporary steps.

C.  Move the executable, "FileChangeMD5.exe", back to your favorite ("C:\Program Files\Util", etc.) folder.  The temporary copy in (MyDownloads, c:\data, etc.) can be deleted.

D.  From the temporary copy's directory, move the newly-constructed INI file, "FileChangeINI.MD5" to any directory of your choosing.

      For example,  C:\Data\Jobs\FileChangeINI.MD5

E.  Edit the INI file, and set a path for the Inventory files to a location where you have update rights.  Typically any location other than C:\Program Files.  For example, "C:\data\jobs\Inventory.md5":

;FileChangeINI.MD5 Configuration File
FileDirectory     = C:\Temp             //Search this directory
FileMask          = *.*
LastRunInventory  = C:\Data\Jobs\Inventory.MD5
InventoryReport   = C:\Data\Jobs\InventoryReport.MD5
UpdateInventory   = TRUE


with this, the executable can live in C:\Program Files, and the inventory files can be directed to a folder where your normal Windows account has update rights -- such as "C:\Data\Jobs\Inventory.MD5"

F.  Launch with this command line:

C:\Program Files\Util\FileChangeMD5.exe  C:\Data\Jobs\FileChangeINI.MD5

The Executable can live in a protected directory.
The INI is in a known location, anywhere on the disk.  It points to an updateable area.
The Last-run Inventory file lives where you have rights
The searched-File-Directory (C:\Temp) can be anywhere.

This solves the restrictive Windows security, without having to grant rights to odd places.



Command Line Options

This utility is best run from a DOS Command prompt and is designed to be run in a batch, automated, mode.  Except for the single-file report, the program will not pause or stop for user input.

A configuration file (FileChangeINI.MD5) controls how it behaves and where results are written.  All filenames can be pathed.  For example, the program can be configured to look at a server's UNC path, and store the inventory reports on a different drive, and the INI file could live on a third drive, as long as all are accessible by the user running the code.

Each time it runs, it overwrites previous inventories and reports.

Command line options:

FileChangeMD5.EXE  (no parameters)

     Assumes the current directory contains the default-named
     FileChangeINI.MD5 configuration file.

    If FileChangeINI.MD5 does not exist, it will generate a default INI.
    The INI will point to c:\Temp as a sample.

    This assumes your Windows account has update rights in this folder.


FileChangeMD5.exe  C:\Path\FileChangeINI.MD5

    Launches using a manually-specified configuration / INI file
    The INI file does not have-to-have an .MD5 extension, but is recommended.
    If specified on the command line, the INI file can be any name, any extension.


FileChangeMD5.exe  C:\Path\FileChangeINI.MD5 FALSE

     Runs in test, but does not make changes to the Inventory.


Possible Command Line Error:

When trying to run a single-file MD5 check, it is easy to forget the keyword "file=".  The result is messy and the program will be confused, reporting "Warning: Unexpected value in prefs INI..."

Click for larger view
Bad Command line: 
FileChangeMD5.exe  C:\somefile.ext

Proper command line:
FileChangeMD5.exe  file="C:\somefile.ext"




I hope you enjoy using this program.  Drop me a note and tell me how you like it.

Version history:
1.00 - Initial release
1.01 - Added command-line /?  and /help logic
          Improved bad INI file detection with clearer error messages
          Improved missing file= parameter detection.
          Improved error message texts for Configuration/INI errors


Of Interest:
A one pixel change in a photograph, changing a white pixel to light grey, resulted in this MD5 change:

MD5: 9f-46-58-ef-3d-fe-76-45-65-61-f0-d3-a7-f3-62-bc     Original File; saved twice
MD5: 54-d3-9d-69-07-1a-9f-d9-92-1c-1e-2b-54-42-de-a4   One-pixel change


Related Keyliner Programs:
BullDozer -- a batch file delete program
Prize Select Raffle Program

Saturday, June 24, 2017

WordPerfect Compliment

If you saw my previous post about self-publishing my C# programming manual on Amazon.com's Kindle, then you would know it was a large project.


The book, now divided into 3 volumes, 28 chapters, has passed 1,800 pages.  The last time I counted, it had nearly 1,000 illustrations.

A serious document that no traditional publisher would touch.  Plus, it was a crowded market with lots of similar titles.  But I know my book is one of the better ones out there.... 

After all this work, I still want the programming manual out in the real world.  Because of this, I chose to publish each chapter as a separate Kindle title, charging $2 or $3 -- making for a low-cost of entry. 

Editing 28 individual documents would have been a chore -- I needed to work with them as one large, multi-chapter book because page-numbering, TOC's and Indexes needed to span chapters.

How did I manage?  WordPerfect!


WordPerfect?

Most of you just snorted. "Tim still uses WordPerfect?  Sheese!" 

Microsoft Word would die on a document like this -- and I would still be cursing squirrelly graphics and bullet-lists.  I stand by my guns here.  WP knows how to handle complicated documents.

Case-in-point, today I was editing Volume 1, an 800-page documents behemoth (a master, with subdocuments, all expanded and all visible). 

Scrolling is effortless, moving from top-to-bottom and anywhere in-between, without delays.All edits and graphic changes are perfectly tracked.  Font and margin changes are made in the master document - one change and all chapters change. 

A click of the mouse re-generates the Table-of-Contents and the index rebuilds with a concordance file; this takes about 5 seconds.  Let me remind you, this is on an 800+ page document, with hundreds of tables, margin changes, and the like -- and all the graphics are right where they are supposed to be, flowing with the text without a problem.

When I save, each chapter parks itself out to the disk as a separate file and I don't have to keep track of them.  If I want, I can edit the chapters individually -- but seldom do.

WP to PDF to Kindle - Easy Cheesy

From the master document, I printed each chapter using WordPerfect's PDF option, and fed the results into the Kindle Text Book Creator.  The result - a perfect document, exactly as formatted.  Uploaded to Amazon, clicked Publish, and was done.  Super easy and kind-of-fun.

Even if I were using Word, I would still print to PDF and then import into Kindle -- this saves the formatting and graphic positions.  (But if I were using Word, the documents would not be as well-behaved.  Yes, I am opinionated about this.)

What is my point?  Don't be a snob and say Microsoft Word is the only word processor for you.  WordPerfect Student/Home is $50 -- and it saves in DOCX format.  If you are frustrated with your current word processor, try someone else.


Related Keyliner Articles:
Publishing Text books and Comic books to Kindle

WordPerfect Reviews  X5 - X8
WordPerfect for School Papers
WordPerfect Protecting Text across page boundaries

Shameless Amazon link:  A Beginner's Guide to C-Sharp Programming
https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2/134-2760193-8662735?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=ABGC



Monday, June 19, 2017

Kindle Book Publishing

I just published my C-Sharp programming manual on Amazon's Kindle.  The process was easier than expected.

First, some history as I understand it:  On Kindle (or Nook), authors can upload MS Word documents and the software will convert it to the e-book reader's format.  Page numbering, chapters, etc., are all figured out during the upload.  The end result is a document that changes the number of pages, depending on the size of the device and on the magnification of the font.  Things like indenting, columns, and other such formatting are ignored.

I admit I have not actually done this because I knew my book -- a text book -- would die during the conversion.

Technical and illustrated books do not tolerate a simple text conversions.  Page-numbering, page-breaks, and especially illustrations come into play, and the e-book cannot re-format the document without causing harm to its structure and design. For the same reasons, children's book and comic books also require special care.

Enter Kindle's new (beta) software -- "Kindle Text Book Creator."

This tool takes your already-formatted, book-ready-PDF, and makes it an e-book.  Pagination and illustrations survive and the resulting e-book is exactly as the PDF.  Download and install to your workstation as a local application.  There is no cost.



Steps:

1.  Download and install the textbook creator program.
2.  Launch.  File-New, Open the PDF.  Then choose "Package."  The result is a "kpf"  (kindle package file).

3.  Login to Amazon.com's Kindle Direct Publishing Site: https://kdp.amazon.com

4.  Click "Create a new Title "+Kindle eBook" - not Paperback.

5.  Upload the kpf and follow other on-screen prompts.

Within 24hrs or so, the book is available in their catalog, ready to sell.



A Beginner's Guide to C-Sharp - A la'carte

My book was so obscenely big*, no traditional publisher accepted it.  Plus, the market is saturated with similar titles.  For these reasons, I thought I'd try Kindle and self-publish.

*how big, you ask?  3 volumes, 28-chapters, 1,800 pages, 1,000 illustrations.  Untold code-block examples.

As an experiment, I decided to be different.  Each chapter is published as a separate "book" and each chapter was priced at $2 or $3 dollars, depending.  This way, students could pick and choose which chapters to download and would not be forced to buy three volumes all at once.

This design is causing me troubles.  The books are hard to differentiate from each other when browsing them on a tablet.  The price is not displayed on tablets or smaller devices, obliviating the benefit of my chapter-by-chapter design. From the web, it flows a little better.

Success?

Success will be judged if anyone buys the book.  With Amazon taking a 70% cut, there is no real profit here.  An average chapter earns less than a dollar.  Having only done this work today, it is too early to tell.  I will come back to this article and update my status.

If you are curious, search on Amazon for "ABGC" (A Beginner's Guide to C-Sharp).  Ignore all those other similar publications -- mine is clearly better.


Lessons Learned:

I have since revisited the uploaded chapters and made three changes to them: 

First, each chapter got its own graphic.  Although all 28 chapters are from the same book, each chapter needed its own graphic.  On a phone or tablet, each chapter's title was truncated and since the graphics were all the same, it was hard to tell which chapter-was-which. (If I published the book as one giant document, this would not have been a problem).


Secondly, each chapter began with a Table of Contents for the entire volume - 8 pages.  When Kindle readers downloaded a sample, they would only get the cover page and the TOC -- and could not see the document.  I removed the TOC from all of the intermediate chapters, leaving it only on the first chapter of each Volume.  This was not a perfect solution, but not bad.

Finally, the low-cost per chapter is again hidden on the smaller devices and the low price is not discoverable until too late.  In the first page of each document, on the first paragraph, I mention the low-price per chapter.  Later, I will update the introductory text and make this more prominent.  Unfortunately, this makes it difficult to change the prices -- sales and price increases will now require multiple edits per document.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Greenshot Screen Capture - The best

Utility: Greenshot Screen Capture

When I need screenshot illustrations for this blog or for documentation at the office, I use a utility called Greenshot.

http://getgreenshot.org/downloads/

Greenshot is a free, no advertisement, no registration, no-strings-attached utility.  The authors ask for a donation; they do not nag.  I recommend this program


How it works:

After installing, note the "Greenshot" icon in the "G" system-tray, meaning the program is running and waiting.

At any time, press the keyboard's Print Screen key and draw a box around the part of the screen to capture.  (Other keystrokes will capture the entire screen, the same area as last time, etc., as well as other options to boring to list here.) 

For example, her is a screenshot of Windows Explorer.  Notice the size, in pixels.  The program can optionally capture the mouse pointer and it can show a pixel magnifier. 


Then it prompts for a location:


I typically choose "copy to clipboard" or "Open in Image Editor".

"Open in Image Editor" is my favorite destination -- This option is slightly misnamed.  By default, it opens in a small Greenshot editor -- not in your photo editor.  From here, you can manually copy to the the clipboard, where I then paste into my favorite graphic editor.


I like the "Open in Image Editor" because it opens a new window with each Print Screen, acting like multiple clipboards.  I might have a dozen of these open, then, as needed, I copy the image to the Windows clipboard and manually paste into my graphics editing programs.  This helps keep my work organized.

You can also write automatically to a numbered file-folder; a feature I have not used, but understand its usefulness.

The Image Editor even has click-to-place counters!  Oh, my heart, be still!  As well as line-drawing and shape tools....



Preferences:

Because of new security with Windows 8 and newer, you may find the PrintScreen key does not work on all screens you are trying to capture (pressing PrintScreen does not activate the highlight).  I made the following changes:

A.  From the System Tray, select the Greenshot icon, Preferences.  In the General tab, set the program to not [  ] Launch Greenshot on startup.

B.  Then, from the Start Menu, type the letters, "Greenshot".  When the program is found, other-mouse-click the icon and "Pin to Start"

C.  Launch the program manually by "other-mouse-clicking" the Greenshot desktop tile, choose "More" and then "Run as Administrator"

With this, you will have full control, on any screen.  Greenshot's FAQ explains the reasoning behind this.


I continued with these other preferences, set one-time: 

From the System Tray icon, set preferences. 

a.  I like to change the default Output Destinations to "Open in Image Editor":  This gives me multiple clipboard like functionality.


Cautions:

Download the utility from the Vendor's site (link at the top of this article); do not download from SourceForge or other sites because many have re-packaged the program around banner ads, browser changes and other nefarious stuff.  I learned this from personal experience.

Other comments:

The source code is available for the curious and there is a good FAQ section on the website, which will answer any other questions you might have.


Related Links:
http://getgreenshot.org/downloads/

My favorite graphics/photo editor:  Corel Paintshop Pro - used for all illustrations here.


Friday, June 9, 2017

Computer Household Cleaning

Computer Household Cleaning

Keyliner has written several articles on steps to cleanup viruses and other Windows infestations.  In particular, I use this this Keyliner article to recover other people's machines:  Virus Cleanup Steps.

But if your machine is running reasonably well, this series of articles, in particular, "Windows Repair and Maintenance" / "Cleaning and optimizing a Windows computer" was interesting.  I recommend reading the articles in this site: 

https://decentsecurity.com/

Use my article to recover a machine that is horribly infested, then follow-up with DescentSecurity's article. I don't agree with everything said, but most of the suggestions are good.  Here are some areas I found particularly interesting and I have been or am now doing:

1.  Run Windows 10.

Windows 7 is too old and Microsoft's resources are dedicated to Windows 10.  The newer OS is more secure and safer. 


2.  Set Windows UAC Nags to maximum.

By default, Windows sets this one notch lower and that is where I used to be set; I have now changed.  Since I am not installing a lot of new software, the change will not add to my burdens. 

To check the settings:
From the Start Menu, type "UAC"

Some people turn UAC off.  They are idiots.


3.  In Google Chrome and in Firefox, install "uBlock Origin" (Addon / Plugin)

uBlock instead of AdBlock plus (my long-time favorite plugin)
uBlock does more to stop drive-by virus installs
It has a larger library to search than Adblock
It is faster than all other adblocking software and does more stuff


4.  Uninstall Java. 

I have never considered this, but in retrospect, agree.  According to the author, "Java is not needed for any modern reason other than obscure software".  Note this is different than JavaScript (used by most websites).  Java can be uninstalled; it will not affect JavaScript.
 
See Programs and Features, un-install Sun Java.

Related: The article suggests upgrading Flash.  On my main Windows 10 machine, I have it disabled.  This has caused problems, but I remain in that state.  If curious, see this keyliner article: Time to Disable Flash.


5.  WinSxs Cleanup

I have long known the WinSXS directory is a pig sty of duplicate DLL's.  DescentSecurity recommends running this Microsoft command, from a DOS prompt, run as Administrator:

C:\WINDOWS\system32\dism.exe /online /cleanup-image /startcomponentcleanup /resetbase

An intriguing idea.  However, on my machine, it ran without errors, but had no affect on my disk.  The number of files and directories in WinSxS remained the same.  Your results may vary.


6.  Registry Cleaners and third-party Windows Optimizer programs are useless

These are snake oil and often dangerous.  I have long said this.  Yes, there are times to fiddle in the registry, but use care.  Registry Cleaners do not.


Microsoft Wish*

I wish Microsoft would allow us to customize the UAC nag screen.  Much like some banking sites, if the UAC showed a personal photograph or some other personalization, we would know we were on a non-spoofed screen.  Even better, imagine your virus scanner with such a personalization.



At the same time, the picture would be our family and employee's cue to never click "OK".  Tell them to call the IT Support Staff (you), before clicking OK.  This would help stop drive-by installs (such as, "You must install this driver to see this online video!"  -- almost guaranteed to be a virus.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Add Bit Rate to Windows Explorer View

How to add the Bit Rate column to Windows Explorer Detail View (for music files) and making it "stick".  This article was tested with Windows 7, 8, and Windows 10.

Issue: 
Opening an MP3 music folder with Windows Explorer shows the Name, Track, Title, Contributing Artist and Album name, but not the Bit Rate. Manually adding the bit rate for one folder may work for one folder but not for others.



Solution:

1. Launch Windows File Explorer.

2. Open your top-level music album folder (mp3 folder). 

In my case, C:\Data\Music
You may find yours in C:\Users\(your name)\Music

3. Windows 7 users: Expose the File Menu with these steps:

On the top menu bar, click "Organize," Layout, and check "Menu Bar". 
This exposes the File, Edit, View menus. 

4.  View the Details:

For Windows 7:  On the newly-exposed menu, choose "View, Details"

For Windows 10, click the View tab in the ribbon bar, choose "Details"

5.  In any Music/MP3 folder, locate the file/directory name's column-heading (the line with the Name, Date Modified, contributing artists, album, etc.).

Find a blank space on that column-heading section and "other-mouse-click" (right-mouse).
A list of fields will appear.  It may help to maximize the screen and look to the right.
Windows 10 users may have to click "More"

Check [x]  Bit Rate.

Note:  This only takes effect for the current folder.  Additional steps are needed for other folders....



6.  Make the change for all folders and sub-folders of (C:\Data\Music) with this one last step:

     With Windows Explorer, highlight the top-level music folder; in my case C:\Data\Music

     Windows 7 Users (illustrated below): 
     Return to Windows Explorer's top menu, choose Tools, "Folder Options."

     Windows 8 Users:  Click Top-menu, View, "Options"  (not illustrated, but similar steps)

     Windows 10 Users: 
            From the Ribbon, Choose "Options", then "Change Folder and Search Options"
            (not illustrated, but similar steps)



All versions of Windows, continue with these steps...
   (in Tools, "Folder Options" / Options)
   Click the View tab
   Click "Apply to Folders", then OK, closing the dialog.



Results:
The Bit-Rate should appear on all music folders and subfolders.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Western Digital WD Cloud Backup Drive - Revisited

WD Could Drive Backup - Revisited

Two years ago I purchased a 2 Terabyte Western Digital SAN drive for backups.  See Keyliner review here. The drive is connected to the network with a Cat-5 cable and it hides unobtrusively in a closet.   With included software, it backs up all of my data from several computers.  I never pay it any attention and after all this time, I am pleased to report it is doing swell.



Take a look at this:

One of the projects I am working on is a computer programming book on C#.  The software backs up any changed file in my data directory and it keeps 5 generational copies. With each generation, it renames the older version(s).  For example this shows Chapter 13:


Since I often save the documents while working on them, all of those transactions would overwrite the 5-generations within a single day.  I changed the software to backup changed files once per day, this way the generational backups go back several days.  From the illustration, there are five copies over five days with no effort or housekeeping on my part.


Not only does it backup, it also restores - said with some humor.  Earlier this week, I trashed a graphic image in that same chapter.  I seldom edit these graphics but was not worried.  The restore showed two versions, one when it was created and a second a few months later after an apparent edit.  Easily recovered.  Click, click, problem solved.

What a joy.

For two years this drive has been running non-stop.  It sits on a shelf, in the same closet as my router and hub.  All three devices are protected with a battery-backup UPS.  Oh my gosh, I get shivers thinking about how cool this is. 

Be sure to read my previous article for hints on how to best setup the backup.

Related Articles:
keyliner review: Western Digital Cloud Drive
keyliner article:  Best Virus Scanner
keyliner article:  Disk Imaging Cleanup Steps



Sunday, January 1, 2017

Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Review

Review: Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard L5V-00001

Some people love ergo keyboards while others loathe.  I am in the "willing to give them another try camp."  Microsoft's latest attempt is the "Sculpt" Ergonomic keyboard and mouse.  This is a great looking product with many thoughtful features and it is less bulky than others.  The keyboard is an artistic statement, worthy of being at your desk.  


The keyboard is sold with (or without) a mouse for around $100 ($85 mail order - mouse'd version).  Buy the mouse'd version for several reasons, but the mouse does have reservations, described below. 

 
The Good:
  • Beautifully designed.  Good ergonomics.
  • Good key travel for the main keys
  • Keys are firm, not mushy. Keys have resistance. Better than all laptops.  Better than most desktop keyboards.  Keys use a scissor spring and a rubber pad.
  • Large backspace and shift keys
  • Palm-rest; nice texture; firm 
  • Keyboard is weighted and heavy (dense); will not slide on desk
  • Separate numeric keypad is a brilliant idea
  • Wireless traffic is encrypted and uniquely tied to the USB dongle
     
The Bad:
  • PFKey and ESC keys are "chicklets," with a distinctly different feel
  • No function Fn key (to switch between PFkey/Hardware controls, see text below), but you can choose how the keys behave.
  • The palm rest is not replaceable and easily soils 
  • The mouse is less accurate than a wired or other wireless mice; you may not notice this.
     
The Interesting:
  • The mouse is yuuge but surprisingly comfortable.  I have grown to like it (but have later discovered it is less accurate than a wired mouse - unclear why)
  • The keyboard arch is subtle
  • Some keys are larger than others (T, G, 7, H, N, Del). This is a nice touch.
  • Home, End, and page keys follow new laptop standards (see text below)
  • No keyboard indicator for caps lock, num or scroll lock; but does display onscreen

Ergo Keyboards in General:

The keyboard should only be bought if you are a touch typist,
It will take several days of steady typing to learn the new layout. Nothing you won't be able to handle.

The right-hand "pinky" keys, such as the hyphen and backspace, seem to be in a different position from a standard keyboard.  Measuring will show they are exactly the same location and distance as always, but because of the arc of the keyboard it "feels different." This takes time to get used to.

Your fingers will miss landing on the home-row - your hands are spread more and will not arrive at the starting position without glancing at your fingers.  Practice solves this.

Four-month update:  Still struggling with the backspace and delete keys.  The Backspace literally in the same position as any other keyboard, but the feel seems different.  I have yet to train my right hand to accurately find the large delete key.  Finding the home row J-key still feels weird and I miss it often.  My problem is switching between a standard keyboard at the office and at home.


Key Changes:

The Page-up, Home/End keys and arrow keys are in a different position when compared to a  101-keyboard or with many laptops.

For example, compare Microsoft's Home/End layout compared to an older laptop:

Click for larger view


All laptop vendors have played around with key positions for years, with no agreed-upon standard.

I have noticed new Lenovo and other brands are using this new design.  But there are notable exceptions: Both Apple desktops and laptops are either lacking these keys or they are in the older positions (Apple never understood the need for dedicated keys - those poor Apple users).  HP and Dell's newest top-line laptops are also missing these keys.  (Dell lost my long-time and recent laptop business because of this.  See Keyliner Yoga 900 Review.)

Microsoft is clearly tying to make a desktop and laptop experience more consistent.  Moving between the two machine's keyboards should be easier, provided both have the same pattern.  But years with the old design makes for hard-to-break habits.  Gritting my teeth, I have decided this is for the best.


PF Keys:

The main keys on the keyboard and number pad feel good.  Good travel, not mushy, with tactile feedback, and quiet.  The keycaps have a slight downward sculpt or cup, helping your fingers to find the center of the key, but the keys are still relatively flat.  Compare this with most laptop's flat keycap profile.

The PF keys are a different beast.  They are "chicklet" keys -- hard keys with a mechanical click (thunk) when pressed. They feel cheaply made.  If Microsoft did this to give differing feedback, they succeeded.

By default, the PF-keys act as hardware keys, adjusting desktop settings, speaker volume, contrast, etc.  On the far-right is a mechanical slide switch, which changes them to standard PF keys - which I recommend.  Because there is no laptop-style "Fn" key, you can't easily flip between the functions.  Practically speaking, you will set the slide-switch once and will never touch it again. 


Mouse:

I was reluctant to buy this keyboard because the mouse was so large and ungainly and it gets tepid reviews, even on Microsoft's site.  But one reviewer's comments were right on:


A picture about the mouse is worth a thousand words.  Once I learned this, I understood the mouse:




In the end, I was surprised; this mouse is noticeably more comfortable than any other mouse or trackpad I have used.

If you have an existing wireless mouse, abandon it and use the new mouse. Two reasons: 
  • The mouse is comfortable.  You will be surprised.  
  • The USB transmitter/dongle handles the keyboard, number pad and mouse. No sense taking up another USB port for a second transmitter for a different mouse.
 
The mouse is a basic two-button mouse with a four-directional scroll wheel (scrolling up and down -- and leaning left and right; a feature people seldom use). 



But there are two hidden buttons.  The blue windows logo is a "Start Menu" button, and hidden on the thumb-side, is a fourth button that defaults to a "browser back" key.  I didn't even know this fourth button existed until I downloaded the drivers and looked in the Mouse control panel.

Mercifully, the extra buttons are out of the way and won't be accidentally pressed.  For those who remember the "magnifier" bug with earlier 3 and 4 button mice, you won't have that problem here.

I have found this particular wireless mouse is less accurate than wired mice. 

I find I am subtly overshooting or undershooting the intended target, and often have to orbit pixels.  Definitely not a problem with a wired mouse.   It turns out this problem is well-known in gaming circles. 

Not all wireless mice have this problem.  Because this mouse is encrypted, I suspect it takes it longer to calculate the position. The effect is barely detectable, but it noticeable if you are skilled; especially in drawing programs.  The encryption cannot be disabled so there is no way to test this hypothesis.

I have abandoned the mouse, but kept the reviewed keyboard.


External Number Pad:

Having a separate number pad has been a revelation.  It can move to any comfortable location.  If you have a lot of numbers to type, move it closer to the keyboard; if not, move it out of the way, bringing the mouse closer.  This speeds up typing, with less hand movement.  All number pads should be like this.


The only thing wrong with the number pad is it is missing a tab-key.  Of course, no number pads have them -- but I can dream.


USB Dongle:

As of this writing, the USB transmitter (the "dongle") is larger than normal, making useful for desktops only - which is more-or-less assumed because the large mouse would never travel with a laptop (See this laptop mouse review:  Logitech Ultrathin).  Microsoft often changes the dongle's size in later models and this dongle is smaller than the first iteration.


The dongle, which can be stored in the mouse's battery compartment, is not replaceable.  If lost, the keyboard, mouse and number pad are worthless.  This is no different than any other USB wireless mouse.

The dongle is 128-bit encrypted; this means your keyboard traffic cannot be intercepted.  Each dongle is uniquely paired to its keyboard.  This is another reason Microsoft cannot, and will not, replace lost dongles.

My desktop is abnormal because it is about 5 feet away, hiding underneath another desk.  Because of this, the transmitter would occasionally hesitate or sputter.  I fixed this with a USB extension cable and the transmitter now rests behind the monitors.  I doubt you will have this problem, but I mention this idea in case it helps you.

Batteries:

With good reasons and different needs, the keyboard, external number pad, and mouse all use different batteries.

Keyboard uses 2 AAA
Mouse uses 2 AA  (a larger battery; larger power needs)
Numeric Pad uses a CR button battery

Of the three components, only the mouse has a on/off power switch and I never turn it off.  If my experience is similar to other Microsoft mice, this two-battery-mouse should last for six months to a year.  The keyboard and number pad draw no real power when idled and I expect longer life. 

I will return to this article and update the battery life observations.


Palm Rest:

The palm rest is comfortable and is made with a rubberized and slightly textured material.  After just a few day's use, it already shows wear.  Time will tell how durable this is.  Periodic cleaning is a must.  The pad is not removable nor is it replaceable.  I do not have high hopes for this.


Software Installation:

With Windows 10, insert the USB dongle, turn on the mouse's power switch and you are ready to go.  No software to install, nothing to setup.  Even the hardware PFKeys (speaker volume, etc.), all work as hoped.  This may be because I had previously used a wireless Microsoft mouse.

I recommend downloading the Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard Center software (the driver), which changes how the mouse keyboard control panels behave.  I ran without these drivers for a week with no ill-effect before I realized a driver was available.

Driver Download:  https://www.microsoft.com/accessories/en-ca/d/sculpt-ergonomic-desktop


Design Wishes for Microsoft:

- I wish the keyboard held 4 AAA batteries - one less thing to worry about.
- Replaceable palm rest.  Would like to order a new one when too dirty to clean.
- A tab-key on the number pad! 
- Softer touch on the PF-Keys.  (Dear Microsoft, I use these keys every day)
- An all white keyboard would be awesome


I am not a fan of ergonomic keyboards, having tried and abandoned them in the past.  But I was in need of a new keyboard, and wanted to get rid of some wires.  Prior to this, I was entertaining a new mechanical keyboard, one with cherry-switches.  I still miss mechanical keyboards, but this keyboard has a reasonable feel - better than most, and it is attractive.   

I have been pleased with this new keyboard and would like a second one for the office. 

Related articles:
Logitech Ultra Thin Mouse
Keyliner Yoga 900 Review.

Related Links:
Unicomp Buckling Spring Keyboards - a favorite