Why Oh Why

A key skill in my career, I think, has been to ask the question ‘Why?’ (and ‘What?’ and ‘How…?’) repeatedly — often when no-one is specifically asking me.

Sometimes this occurs without really wanting it to; I need to see the latest version of some code-base or other and so I start with an ‘Update’ to my checkout of their subbversion project.  And then I see it… Continue reading

Don’t You Hate it When…

A software update remarkably seems to make a tool less able to do something that it seemed to handle well before?

I was recently strongly encouraged to apply a software update to my QuickBooks Pro 2014 software, for reasons of an important security update… yet afterwards I suddenly found out that the software I had successfully been using on Windows 10 for many months was suddenly incompatible?

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Snagit vs. DropBox in Competition for the PrintScreen Hotkey

I’ve been meaning to write a review of Snagit for some time, but in advance of that, and having experienced some issues getting the Print Screen / PrintScreen / PrtScrn hotkey to work after setting up a new Windows 10 PC, I decided to blog what fixed the problem for me first.

In essence, the problem was that I could not allocate the Print Screen hot key to trigger Snagit Global capture, because every time I tried to set it, the program complained that the key was already in use by another Profile, or application.  These different messages were confusing, especially as it was easy enough to confirm that ‘Print Screen’ was not a selected shortcut for any of my Snagit profiles!  That left another application as the culprit.

I was fearful that OneNote might be the cause, but I could not find any options mentioning Print Screen, and lots of web searches mentioned Dropbox… but I knew that I had already de-selected the option! (For reference, Dropbox may grab the PrintScreen and Ctrl + PrintScreen hotkeys to support its ‘Share screenshots using Dropbox’ function)

Dropbox Share Screenshots

After much faffing, I found out that the problem seemed to be something to do with Dropbox retaining the hotkey allocation while it was running even if the option had been deselected!

The solution I found worked for me was to:

  1. Disable the ‘Share Screenshots’ option in the Dropbox Preferences window (Import tab);
  2. Click OK on the dialog to make the changes and close the dialog, and then exit Dropbox (select ‘Exit Dropbox’ from the tools menu available from the Dropbox task bar icon;
    Dropbox Exit Dropbox
  3. Now I opened the Snagit preferences, and after selecting Print Screen as the shortcut key for the Snagit Global Capture, I was finally able to save this setting!
  4. Then I restarted Dropbox by finding the app in the Start Menu and double-clicking to restart it.

I hope this helps someone!

UPDATE 31/03/2016: Wouldn’t you know it, I had to reboot my PC overnight and after restart was once again greeted with a Snagit warning about a hotkey being in use by another profile! Turns out that Microsoft OneDrive had somehow nabbed it; I’m not sure how this is controlled… but when I pressed PrintScreen a OneDrive dialog appeared asking if I wanted to share my screenshots on my OneDrive. Answering ‘No Thanks’ seemed to free it up available for Snagit again. OK, I’ve found the Settings dialog, which like Dropbox is accessed from the Start Task Tray (normally at the right end of the Task Bar, near the clock):

OneDrive Screenshots


Sceptical About a Web-page ‘Screen-saver’

I’m a little sceptical that this web-page ‘energy saver’ I just saw is actually a power-saver?!

Jeep Screen Saver

Original ‘screen savers’ on a computer were a response to problems with the then-prevalent screen technology associated with Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) screens that had phospors that glowed when hit by a focused electron beam.  If phosphor pixels were lit up too much they could be ‘burnt’ which could leave a ghost image if a particular pattern was left on the screen for extended periods of time.  A standard response was to ‘save’ the screen; generally by darkening it, and often by moving a shape around; this was saving the phosphor rather than saving energy! (I would speculate that some energy would have been saved but miniscule amounts — the cathode-ray still had to be scanned as much as it ever did; a CRT would probably still consume hundreds of watts of power while in this ‘screen saving’ mode).

The energy saving part of screen-savers came later; in this mode the monitor was generally actually turned off; and thus this saved the main power consumption of the screen – potentially saving hundreds of watts as long as the screen was off… and I guess it must have been in the 1990’s that ‘Energy Star’ and powering-off screens when not in use became pretty-standard.

Modern screens, however, with LCD / TFT  type technologies generally have different features and problems than CRTs; and screen ‘burn’ is less of an issue as I understand it, so ‘screen savers’ intended to prevent burn-in are pretty irrelevant… and often because screen manufacturers are doing their best to reduce power where possible. My screens will attempt to detect my presence and will automatically reduce power if I am not close to the screen!  Note; this is the monitor going into power-save mode and whether or not Windows happens to choose to run a screen-saver or whatever is not necessarily relevant in this instance.

Whichever way, it is hard to imagine that one tab on one application on your computer going dark is likely to help reduce your power consumption at all; especially as any modern device worth its salt will already be applying its own layer of power reduction technology of its own!  And as it is a car company who’ve come up with this great idea, I can imagine someone is busy trying to offset the car company’s ‘carbon footprint’ against all the ‘carbon savings’ they will claim from their ‘black website page carbon save technology’!

In what circumstances could an ‘energy saving webpage’ save energy?

Lifting the Curse of Knowledge | DaedTech

An interesting post regarding ‘the Curse of Knowledge’ — or the difficulty in remembering what it’s like not to know something!

The first paragraph alone sets the scene:

As most of you know, one of the biggest anti-patterns when you’re instantiating program slots is to forget to set CanRemoveOverride to true. But what you probably didn’t know was that the SlotConfig is — Just kidding. I lifted this from a post I wrote almost 3 years ago about legacy code I was working with then. I have little more idea than you do what any of that means. [Emphasis Mine, ksb]

Lifting the Curse of Knowledge | DaedTech.

Words used in Source Code

I’ve been thinking about trying to create a library of name elements that might be useful while coding (e.g. above and beyond pattern names such as ‘BlahFactory‘ or ‘ThingMapper‘); and a list of elements that might be misleading or that I think should be avoided (such as the element ‘Data’ on a field name; it’s not impossible that this could be a valid element name; but in a sense everything in a data structure is ‘data’ so that’s the basis on which I consider its use may be problematic).

I thought that this was pretty interesting: Words used in Source Code.

Source Code Wordle

Be sure to visit the source site, where clicking on an image then shows you a larger version, where clicking on a word shows you where it is used.

These word clouds might help identify lists of the ‘useful’ name elements.