Today I Learned: Quickly Navigating the Taskbar using the Windows Key and Numbers

I was messing around today and accidentally discovered that pressing the Windows key and a number will switch to the item in the corresponding position on the taskbar, with numbers beginning at 1, representing the leftmost item on the taskbar.

Windows 8.1 taskbar showing PowerShell (item 1 - pinned), PowerShell ISE (item 2 - pinned) KeePass (Item 3 - pinned), Windows Explorer (item 4) Chrome (Item 5) Spotify (Item 6)

Taking my current taskbar as an example
WinKey + 4 would switch to the folder I have open
WinKey + 5 would switch to the Chrome browser window I have open and WinKey+6 would switch to Spotify.

You may have noticed that there are also items pinned to my taskbar, but not open. Pressing WinKey and the corresponding number would also launch these, so:

WinKey + 1 would launch PowerShell
WinKey + 2 would launch PowerShell ISE
WinKey + 3 would launch KeePass.

It Rang

As my shift came to a close on Saturday night I took my first support call. It was everything I hoped it wouldn’t be, other than a large outage.

As is his wont in life, Murphy saw to it that his law was enforced on this occasion by making the internal tool I was using freeze, I presume due to a minor hiccup of my Internet connection at the most inopportune of moments.

In other news, my power chair, which had been away since my birthday was returned to me in better condition, free of the rusty bolts and tattered upholstery which represent its previous five years of working life.

Were my chair a person, one could compare this maintenance to a week at a spa, or other such place from which one returns feeling rejuvenated and ready to face the stresses of life once more.

This evening, my chair demonstrated that it had become accustomed to the spa treatment, and was not entirely certain that it wished to return to my service. This was made evident by displaying the word “Goodbye” on the controller’s screen, accompanied by a steadfast refusal to move.

Those in IT will now rise in unified chorus to sing the song of our people: “Did you try turning it on and off again?”

Of course I did.

As it was for Windows 98, Windows 95, and DOS before it, the ancient rite of the reboot was enough to persuade the chair to return to its usual modus operandi.

My manual chair has now departed to undergo the first stage of what will likely be a significantly more involved restorative process.

Ring Dammit

The crux of today is best verbalized by this line from late-90s alternative band Semisonic:

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

Today I celebrate not only my chronological progression, but also progression with respect to the milestones against which I test my personal development and self-esteam.

As the day ended, so ended my 25th, and begun my 26th year of life. As it ended, so ended my first night shift. With that, I can proudly say that I have in fact worked one day in my life, and that I managed to do so in a field that I love. In so doing, I have started as I mean to continue in terms of a future career.

My hope is that I can use this opportunity to practice what I know, and learn as much as I can.

So, how was my first night? Quiet. Too quiet. Not a phone rang or ticket logged during my entire shift.

From the outside it’s easy to look at that and think “Great. No work, and you made some money.” Not so much. Let me go back a bit to the start of my shift.

I’m sitting there, headphones on, ticket system open, as well as the various other internal tools I might need to do my job

….and then nothing happens. No calls, no tickets. You wait a while, hit refresh, and still, nothing happens.

And then begin the questions, all of which make you wonder if you’ve somehow screwed something up, but if you have, you’re not sure how.

*exhale* “it’s over, for tonight anyway.”

Scary as that phone ringing will be, I need it to happen so I can sink, and then slowly, awkwardly, learn to swim.

The Obligatory Birthday Post: 2015 Edition

At the stroke of midnight I will be 820450416.518754 (just over 800 million) seconds old.

In that time I’ve experienced a great deal of what being a human has to offer, and while I can’t say the experience has been entirely enjoyable, when considered as a whole, this life I’ve lead is best represented as a bag of the world’s most intensely flavored licorice allsorts.

So what have I done in 26 years?

  1. I’ve gained a small but awesome group of close friends
  2. I’ve got a strong set of morals to guide me. (thanks Mum)
  3. I’m directed by Science, logic and reason (thanks for not determining our religion Mum)
  4. I’ve learned that I’m extremely hard to kill.
  5. I’ve lived in at least three countries (thanks Mum & Stu)
  6. I’ve found my calling in life (Huge thank you to Granddad)
  7. I’ve almost got my Diploma in ICT (Tim, Heydon and Rikki, thanks for helping)
  8. I’ve got a job (Thanks in part to Tim)
  9. I’ve eaten some amazing food (largely thanks to Mum)
  10. I’ve got an awesome command of English (big thanks to Nanna and Mum, and my English teachers Mrs. Walsh and Mrs. Newton)
  11. I’ve got a solid upper body (Thanks Cerebral Palsy)
  12. I’ve listened to some considerably awesome music. (Thanks The Prodigy)
  13. I’ve got a good appreciation of world history (Thanks SKC)
  14. I know about Catholicism (Thanks Mr Farrell)
  15. I’ve got a solid appreciation of 90s computer games
    (Thanks Stu – 101 Best CD Games was aptly titled)
  16. I’ve experienced the joy of Leisure suit Larry (Thanks Morgan & Thomas)
  17. I’ve broken a few laws
  18. I’ve learned that I am not a morning person
  19. I’ve learned that I’m not a math person (thanks PR109)
  20. I’ve learned that almost everything ending in ‘ism’ is bad. Sexism, racism etc.
  21. I’ve learned to research and write excellent essays (Mrs. Newton, Mrs. Walsh, Chris)
  22. I can appreciate a robust debate
  23. I’ve had some awesome sex
  24. I’ve had some not so awesome sex
  25. I’ve learned fiscal responsibility (thanks Microsoft Excel)
  26. I’ve learned that the most satisfying things are the hardest to achieve (Thanks Intel)
  27. I’ve learned to be selective about the opinions I consider
  28. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn, and that no matter how much I know, there will always be something I don’t know, and probably should

It’s been a good run so far.  I’ve got a lot of countries to see, and a lot left to do, so chances are you’ll see another one of these next year.

Slight Redevelopment

Hello World

It’s been a while since we spoke. Much about us both has changed in my absence. In keeping with tradition, I shall try to provide a path between then and now by way of facsimile.

Last we spoke, I was living on my own in Christchurch continuing on my apparently infinite quest toward a diploma in ICT. All of the above holds true today, except that I now know the finite nature of my quest as I can just about see graduation on the horizon, just beyond the two papers with which I currently contend.

In addition to my study, I’m also the disability representative on the student council this year. I’m not sure where this will take me, but I hope I can do some good in this role.

There have been some other developments in my life of late which require some background in order to be properly understood.

Many of you will know that I came to my current circumstances as a result of an intense period of rehabilitation. During this period my existence was funded by ACC, who recently determined that I’m no longer eligible for said funding.

Being between sources of income has a set of associated challenges and stresses which I’ve had to overcome.

Upon finding out that my income was to disappear, I began looking for work. This process has been long and often mentally and emotionally draining for a number of reasons including my lack of formal qualifications, accessibility issues and simple lack of response to applications.

At this juncture, I’d like to thank the friends and family I have who have supported me through my recent challenges.  I’d be in a significantly worse position without all of you.

I’m happy to report that my search for a job has ended. For the first time in my life I can say that I am employed. I feel a mix of excitement for the challenge and uncertainty in my ability to do nerd things in a commercial environment, partially because I’ve never done so before and partially because a chunk of what I’m working with is new to me.

As the night now gives way to the morning, I’ll yield to sleep for the moment.


Goodnight World

Purr Purr, Crunch Crunch

It might be premature to begin describing my weekend in the early hours of Saturday morning, but were time to end at this point, the description most apt would be “variable”. First the bad news, because then I can deliver the good news and have it act as a chaser to remove the grayscale and leave you with a pleasant hum of electric blue.

This evening I attempted to watch the second disc of Awkward Season One. In order to do this I first needed to eject disc one, which I had been watching in small doses over the last two days. Upon clicking eject, the Mac protested in a chorus of dejected mechanical whirs and taps, before sucking the disc back in and re-initialising the drive.

I’ve tried all the software based resolution steps I know in both Windows and OS X and none of these have had any positive effect. This leads me to believe that whatever is wrong is very likely a physical hardware problem best solved by a visit to an Apple representative and probably the outlay of considerable amounts of money should the drive require replacement.

On to things less crappy. Last night I bought Just Cause 2 after initially seeing it on the NerdCubed YouTube channel. I can say that the few hours I’ve payed thus far have been very enjoyable.

As a consequence of my recent decision to switch primary OS to OS X, prudence behoves that I upgrade from Lion to the current Mountain Lion release.  I’ve just completed this process so can’t yet offer a reasonable overview of the difference between the two, but I do like the more subdued style applied to the dock in Mountain Lion.

I wonder how long it will be until Apple has used all known big cat names, and when they do what will they move on to?

It’s All Big Cats And Turtlenecks: Why I’m Switching To OS X

Those who know me will know that I have been a Windows developer and user for the vast majority of my computing lifetime. I first encountered Windows 3.11 Professional as a child in the mid-90s, however my usage was limited to clicking Exit to DOS on the way to games such as Wolfinstien 3D and the original DOOM.

Eventually, we upgraded to Windows 95 A and very rapidly on to Windows 98 where I began my obsession with software development after receiving a copy of QBASIC for Dummies from my Granddad.

And there I stayed until roughly 2002 when my family purchased a new computer running the still relatively new and shiny Windows XP which remained with us until at least 2010. During that time I learned JavaScript (before anyone had heard the terms Web 2.0 or jQuery) dabbled in C++ with Borland’s VCL and most memorably was introduced to C# and Visual Studio with Visual Studio Codenamed “Orcas” (a.k.a. Visual Studio 2005, IIRC). 

I still remember the joy i felt when the Visual Studio 2005 Express Editions were announced as I wouldn’t have to stop using IntellSense which by now I’d become so accustomed to I was annoyed it wasn’t in Word.

 Around this time I also took part in several  pre-release programs including “Kahuna” which would go on to become Windows Live Mail. as well as several pre-release versions of Messenger that would form the basis of Windows Live Messenger. I also took part in the pre-release program for early versions of Office 2007, which may have have a cool name that I’ve long since forgotten.

So…if I’ve spent such a large amount of my life living and working with Windows. why am I now switching? Good question. The simple answer is frustration.

Last night I couldn’t get to sleep and decided that watching a DVD (specifically Season 1 of MTV’s Awkward) would be a good idea, so I inserted the disc only to be told that due to some non-specified incompatibility between the DVDs copy protection and my system would mean that either I jumped the traditional troubleshooting hoops, or I watched something else.

I’m quite capable of troubleshooting most computer issues I encounter, and troubleshoot I did, but no media player would touch the disc despite the fact that I had the Media Centre feature of Windows 8 installed and the codecs required to play this DVD were present on my system and I’d used them to play this very media on this very system in the past.

Tired and annoyed I rebooted into OS X, inserted the disc, clicked DVD Player and it played.

Being both a person of sound and reasonable mind and one accustomed to computer use in general, one isolated incident is not in itself enough to justify a change of platform. The incident described above was just the final trigger.

I’ve always maintained that despite the widespread criticism it has (rightly) received for the Metro interface, there are positives to Windows 8, but I’ve found the level of inconsistency between 7 and 8 uncomfortable for reasons other than the user interface.

The fact DVD playback and TV support via Media Centre is not included out of the box is just one such frustrationThe cumulative effect of several small frustrations over a period of several months has me at the end of my rope as far as daily use of Windows 8 is concerned.

To remedy this, I’ll be booting into OS X on a daily basis starting today. I will still maintain a proper windows install for games, and my software development will be done in a VM from within OS X.

Initially, I am expecting to need to reboot a bit to use Office applications until I can afford to replace them with Apple’s iWork suite. I am aware of Office for Mac, but I’d at least like to try the Mac native solution first.

So that’s that. I’ll keep you posted with how the switch is going.

PS: Suggestions for apps that I might need on OS X are welcomed