Windows10 Tips and Tricks

Ok Twitches, your friendly neighborhood BlindGeek has decided to share some of his tips and tricks to make your experience with Windows 10 easier. Wait, isn’t referring to oneself in the 3rd person considered a sign of madness? Oh well, carrying on…

Now that Windows 10 is out and making its way to eager customers who have waited patiently, or maybe impatiently in the case of some of you, for the new OS, I thought it would be a good time to post a few tricks and tips. These include changing the platform’s look, turning off Wi-Fi Sense, and loads more. There’s certainly more than what I’ve listed here, so check back for more and feel free to share what you’ve found in the comments.

Turn on the Start Screen

  1. Right-click the desktop and choose Personalize.
  2. Select Start.
  3. Turn on “Use Start full screen.”

Add folders to the Start Menu

  1. Right-click the desktop and choose Personalize.
  2. Select Start.
  3. Click “Choose which folders appear on Start.”

Remove tiles from Start Menu

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Right-click the tile you want removed.
  3. Choose “Unpin from Start.”

Change the Default Browser

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Click Settings.
  3. Click System.
  4. Click “Default Apps.”
  5. Scroll down and select “Web Browser.”
  6. Choose your desired web browser.

Change Notification Behavior

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Click Settings.
  3. Click System.
  4. Click “Notifications & actions.”
  5. Choose a desired setting for notifications.

Turn on “Hey Cortana”

  1. Click within the search field on the taskbar.
  2. Click Notebook.
  3. Click Settings.
  4. Turn on “Hey Cortana.”
  5. Optional: Click the “Learn my Voice” button so that Cortana can become familiar with your voice.

Clear Cortana’s Information Stash

  1. Log in to your Cortana Account
  2. Here you can clear Interests, Saved places, search history, other Cortana data, personalized speech, inking, and typing.

Disable automatic restarts

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Click Settings.
  3. Click “Update & Security.”
  4. Click “Windows update.”
  5. Click “Advanced Options.”
  6. Choose “Notify to schedule restart” from drop-down menu.

Create GodMode Tool

  1. Right-click the desktop.
  2. Click New.
  3. Click Folder.
  4. Rename folder to this: GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}
  5. You should now have an icon labeled GodMode.

Disable Wi-Fi Sharing

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Click Settings.
  3. Click “Network & Internet.”
  4. Scroll down and click “Manage Wi-Fi Settings.”
  5. Uncheck everything listed under “For networks I select, share them with my….”

Manage Your Privacy Settings

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Click Settings.
  3. Click Privacy.
  4. Privacy is divided into 13 sections. Turn off anything that may look intrusive, such as “Send Microsoft info about how I write….”

Turn on Battery Saver

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Click Settings.
  3. Click System.
  4. Click “Battery Saver.

Uninstall a Program

  1. Right-click the Start button.
  2. Click “Programs & Features.”
  3. Choose the program to uninstall.

Edit Your Microsoft Account

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Click Settings.
  3. Click Accounts.
  4. Click “Your Account” and make your changes.

Keep Cortana from Sending Your Browser History to Microsoft

  1. Open the Edge browser.
  2. Click the button with three dots.
  3. Choose Settings.
  4. Choose “View Advanced Settings.”
  5. Turn off “Have Cortana Assist Me in Microsoft Edge.”
  6. Turn off “Use page prediction to speed up browsing, improve reading, and make my overall experience better.”

Change Default Search Engine in Edge

  1. Open the Edge browser.
  2. Click the button with three dots.
  3. Choose Settings.
  4. Choose “View Advanced Settings.”
  5. Choose a search engine in the “Search in the address bar with” drop-down menu.

Note: Please keep in mind that, as of this posting, the new Microsoft Edge browser is not yet accessible, so your mileage will vary with the tips listed above that require its use.

Finally, here’s a list of Windows 10 shortcuts that were revealed by Microsoft’s Sebastian Klenk back in May 2015:

  • WIN – Open Start Menu
  • WIN + G – Opens the Game Bar
  • WIN + X – Open the Start button context menu
  • WIN + K – Connect to wireless devices
  • WIN + H – Share content
  • WIN + A – Open the Action Center
  • WIN + I – Open Settings app
  • WIN + S – Search Windows, Internet via keyboard
  • WIN + C – Search Windows, Internet using voice
  • WIN + D – Reveal the desktop
  • WIN + E – Open Windows Explorer
  • WIN + L – Lock the device
  • WIN + R – Run a command
  • WIN + P – Project the current screen
  • WIN + SPACE – Change the input language
  • WIN + SHIFT + LEFT or RIGHT – Move the current window to another screen
  • WIN + 1 or 2 or 3… – Open a program pinned to the task bar
  • WIN + TAB – Open Task View
  • WIN + Arrow key – Move a window in that direction
  • WIN + CTRL + LEFT or RIGHT – Move between virtual desktops
  • WIN + CTRL + F4 – Shut down the current desktop
  • WIN + CTRL + D – Make a new virtual desktop
  • ALT + TAB – Move to the previous window
  • ALT + SPACE – Move, Resize etc. a current window
  • ALT + F4 – Close the current window

Again, if you have any tips, tricks, or even best practices for Windows 10 that you’d like to share, pop them into the comments below or hit me up on Twitter, where, as always, I am @BlindSarcasm. 😀

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Poll: Which Accessible Twitter Client Are You Using In Windows10?

Windows 10 is liiiiiiiiive!

As, unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months, you’re well aware, Windows 10 was officially released on 7/29/2015. Windows 10, the latest iteration of Microsoft’s flagship desktop, laptop, and mobile operating system is possibly the most innovative and forward-thinking operating system to come out of Redmond, WA since Windows XP.

However, with innovation comes a seemingly requisite bit of heartburn…

As with almost any major operating system release, there are invariably some programs that will not quite work right at the beginning. This can be due to many factors, chiefly the individual program developers failing to get their code up to snuff before the new operating system is released.

It is with this thought in mind that I bring you my latest poll…

Which Accessible Twitter client are you using in Windows 10?

View Results

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P.S. If you selected the “Other/Not Listed” option in the poll, please let me know what you are using in the comments section below.

Thanks, and happy tweeting! 😀

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How much faster than SATA-based SSDs Are PCIe SSDs? Boatloads!

Can SATA-based SSDs hold a candle to the lightning-fast PCIe-based SSDs on the market? Let’s see…

Ok, for my fellow storage junkies, a group of which I’m not only a member, but the president according to my lovely fiancee Sam who have said to yourselves: “Self, I wonder just how much faster PCIe-based SSDs are than their slower, but still zippy SATA 6G cousins?

Your friendly neighborhood BlindGeek is here to help!

*Disclaimer* - I think I’ve posted enough of these by now that *most* of you don’t need a detailed explanation of the jargon involved in these disk speed tests. If you do need something explained however, feel free to hit me up here, or over on Twitter.

For this test, I chose to compare the CrystalDisk results from my 120GB Samsung 840 EVO 120GB sSD and the 512GB PCIe-based Solid State drive in my 2015 13in Retina MacBook Pro. The tests were performed using CrystalDiskMark v4.0.3 x64 running under Windows 8.1.

Drive 1 is the Samsung 840 EVO 120GB SATA 6G SSD residing in the @BlindPCs MiniITX Test Rig(hit me up for specs) .
Disk 2 is the 512GB PCIe-based SSD inside my 2015 13in Retina MacBook Pro.

The EVO, while no slouch in the SSD world, just couldn’t keep up with the much faster PCIe-based drive.

See the benchmark comparisons below for details.

The CrystalMark benchmark was performed on both drives with a 1GB test file, and each test was repeated 3 times and the results averaged for a final score.

Benchmark:

Test 1, Sequential Read:

  • Disk 1 (Samsung EVO): 497MB/s
  • Disk 2 (Apple PCIe SSD): 1,360MB/s

Test 2, Sequential Write:

  • Disk 1: 396MB/s
  • Disk 2: 1,434MB/s

Test 3, Random Read:

  • Disk 1: 69,384 IOPS
  • Disk 2: 78,831 IOPS

Test 4, Random Write:

  • Disk 1: 56,424 IOPS
  • Disk 2: 69,070 IOPS

Conclusion:

While the Samsung is still one of the fastest SATA 6G SSDs on the market, it just can’t keep up with the raw bandwidth available to PCIe-based SSds over the PCIe bus. It’s for this reason that, until I can get my hands on one of those spiffy Intel 750 Series PCIe-based SSDs, I’ll be building all of my Winstaller images on my Windows 8.1 BootCamp partition.
If you’ve got the opportunity and, more importantly, the budget to consider one of these badass drives for your next build or upgrade cycle, I say go for it!

Til next time, Twitches…

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It’s Coming, The BlindDIYPC 2015!

Ok Twitches, it’s once again that time of year…

The flowers are blooming, the birds are chirping, the animals are fucking like there’s no tomorrow, and us Alpha-Geeks are dreaming dreams of PC upgrades and rebuilds!

In that spirit, I’ve decided it’s time to do what will be at least a partial rebuild of the *cough* “critically acclaimed” *cough* #BlindDIYPC!

There are a couple of time-tested components from the old machine that will make the journey to the relative “Land of Milk and Honey” of the new build, but not many. After debating how I wanted the write-up for this build to go, I decided to write it up as I would any new build, denoting which components were new and which came from the old build. This serves two purposes:
1. It gives the documentation here a more natural flow by being more organized.
2. It will be more informative for those of you Twitches who, for whatever inexcusable reason, weren’t reading this blog back when the original #BlindDIYPC was being built.

So, with no more gilding the lily and very little ado whatsoever, I give you the #BlindDIYPC 2015:

Case

The Black “Soft Touch” iVector Mid-Tower ATX case from our friends over at EnerMax was the obvious choice to attempt to contain the raw awesomeness of this rig. Have I mentioned lately that my modesty is one of my best features?
Sporting 3 5.25in external drive bays, 3 dedicated 3.5in internal drive bays and 4 more internal HDD bays that can convert between 3.5in and 2.5in bays in a matter of seconds, the iVector can easily accomodate almost anyone’s storage needs and it definitely won’t have any issues with the storage setup in the BlindDIYPC rebuild.
The front of the iVector not only sports a pair of USB 3.0 ports, but also has a pair of USB 2.0 ports alongside the standard HD audio jacks. A fan speed controller to control the speed of the 2 120mm cooling fans included with the case also resides on the front panel.
Speaking of cooling, the iVector not only includes a pair of 120mm cooling fans, but it also has room for 4 more 120mm fans or 2 fans and a 240mm liquid cooling reservoir in the top two 120mm fan slots. This fact, along with the rubber-grommeted openings in the rear, make me consider possible future upgrades to a liquid cooling system.
Also, the case is designed for a bottom-mounted PSU, another design consideration I find particularly endearing.
Check the full details on this awesome enclosure and watch the NeweggTV feature here.

PSU (Power Supply Unit)

The Rosewill RX850-S-B Xtreme PSU from the original #BlindDIYPC is still going strong and produces more than enough clean, reliable power for my needs. It, therefor, will be sticking around until someone pries it from my cold, dead hands!
Details here.

Motherboard

Now to the real fun stuff!
For the rebuild, I’m doing something almost unheard of in my history of PC building… I’m actually choosing an Intel based system over an AMD based option. Weird, right? I assure you Twitches that I’m ok and am in full control of my mental faculties.
That said, I, as always, am building this beauty on an ASUS motherboard. I only build on ASUS boards for a number of reasons:
* ASUS is the absolute king of the motherboard industry
* ASUS uses the best, most reliable components in all of their products, from the extreme models down to their budget lines
* Their firmware, software and integrated solutions for everything from peripherals to overclocking are better than the industry standard
* And finally, They have best in the business customer support

With that said, My choice for the #BlindDIYPC 2015 is the ASUS Z97-PRO LGA1150 ATX motherboard.
Some features of this board:
* Socket LGA 1150 with support for Intel’s 4th-Gen Core i7, and i5 CPUs
* Supports 4x DDR3 DIMMs up to 32GB of RAM overclockable to DDR3 3200
* 2x PCIe 3.0\/2.0 x16 (x16 mode)
* 4x SATA 6Gb\/s port(s), by Intel Z97 chipset
* 2x SATA 6Gb\/s port(s), by ASMedia PCIe SATA controller
* 1x SATA Express port, compatible with 2x SATA 6.0 Gb\/s ports
* 1x M.2 Socket 3, with M Key, type 2260\/2280 storage devices support (both SATA and PCIE mode)
* Multi-VGA output support: HDMI\/DVI-D\/RGB\/DisplayPort ports
* Realtek ALC1150 Audio with 8 channels
* Intel I218V 10\/100\/1000 Gigabit Ethernet
* 8 USB 3.0 ports (4 on I\/O, 4 via internal headers) and 6 USB 2.0 ports (2 on I\/O and 4 via internal headers)
* Integrated 802.11AC Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0
* Support for the extremely cool ASUS NFC Express (Video)
I could go on all day, but you can just check the rest of the specs here.

CPU (Processor)

As stated above, I veered from my normal course and built this rig around an Intel CPU. Not only did I choose an Intel based CPU, but I said \”What the hell!\”, and went with Intel’s latest 4th-Gen LGA1150 chip, CodeName:\”Devil’s Canyon\”. Specifically, I went with the Intel Core i5 4690K Quad-Core 3.5GHz version of this rather impressive offering from the processor-manufacturing giant.
Some features of the chip:
* L2 Cache: 4x 256KB
* L3 Cache: 6MB
* Manufacturing Tech: 22nm
* Integrated Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4600

This CPU has insane headroom for overclocking, and should be able to run stable at over 4GHz on air cooling!
You can read the rest of the details on this beastie here.

CPU Cooling

To keep that pretty little piece of silicon cool, both before and after I overclock the shit out of it, I chose the CoolerMaster Hyper 212 EVO CPU Cooler
* Fan Speed: 600 – 2000 RPM (PWM) +/- 10%
* Airflow: 24.9 – 82.9 CFM +/- 10%
* Noise Level: 9 – 36dBA

System Memory (RAM)

A rig this badass deserves badass memory, and 16GB (2 8GB DIMMs) of Kingston‘s HyperX Fury DDR3 1866 certainly lives up to that expectation!
Some specs:
* Type: 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM
* Speed: DDR3 1866
* Cas Latency: 10
* Timing: 10-11-10
* Voltage: 1.5V
* Intel XMP support for 1st through 4th Generation Intel Core Processors

The best part of Fury is it’s auto-overclock capability. It automatically recognizes its host platform and automatically overclocks to the highest frequency published, providing plenty of power. Yay for XMP profiles!

Storage

I’m going with a 3-tiered setup of sorts for the storage array in this rebuild. I feel this configuration gives me an excellent mix of space and performance with as little pain to the old pocketbook as possible.

Operating System Drive: Samsung 840 EVO 120GB Solid State Drive

  • 540MB/s Sustained Sequential Read
  • 410MB/s Sustained Sequential Write

High-Speed Data Drive: 2x Kingston SSDNow 256GB SATA 6G Solid State Drives in RAID0

  • Up to 300 MB/s Sustained Sequential Read
  • Up to 230 MB/s Sustained Sequential Write
  • Significantly faster performance once they’re setup in a RAID0 array

High Capacity Data Drive: Seagate Barracuda 2TB 7200RPM 64MB Cache SATA 6G Internal HDD

  • 2TB Capacity
  • 64MB Cache
  • 7200RPM Drive Speed
  • SATA 6G Interface

Comments And Pre-build Thoughts:

While there are a few other facets of the overall system configuration I could have discussed here, I felt they were superfluous to the overall system. The DVDRW drive from the original #BlindDIYPC is making a return appearance in the rebuild, as what I use it for really doesn’t warrant a mention here, let alone any thoughts of an upgrade.
As a blindie, the choice to go with integrated video, even if it is Intel HD 4600, was an easy one to make.
And while the integrated Realtek ALC1150 Audio is certainly no slouch, it also didn’t really warrant it’s own section here.
I’ll be doing a follow-up post as I build the system and another with relevant benchmarks once the rig has been up and running and passed the requisite stress tests.

Want your own version of this badass rig, or just an awesome, custom-built #BlindPC? Hit up either @BlindSarcasm or @BlindPCs, or email sales@blindpcs.com for a personalized quote.

See you Twitches in Phase 2!

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Happy Memorial Day, And Thanks To My Fellow Veterans

Twitches, help me remember those that served, are serving and will serve our country!

Since today is Memorial Day, I thought maybe, just maybe, we could all  take a few minutes to remember.

It’s The Veteran!

Veterans poem:

It’s the veteran,
Not the preacher
Who has given us the freedom of religion.

It’s the veteran,
Not the reporter
Who has given us the freedom of the press.

It’s the veteran,
Not the poet
Who has given us the freedom of speech.

It’s the veteran,
Not the campus organizer
Who has given us the freedom to assemble.

It’s the veteran,
Not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It’s the veteran,
Not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.

It’s the veteran who honors the flag…

It’s the veteran who serves under the flag No matter where they serve, God Bless Them All!

God Bless America!

Thank you to all my fellow vets, including Mr. Joe Ruffalo, the President of the NFB of the great state of New Jersey for this poem.

Fair winds and following seas to my fellow Navy bretheren and a hearty “Semper Fi!” to my USMC Twitches!

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Benchmark: LaCie Rugged Mini 1TB USB 3.0 Hard Drive

Hello again my little Nerdlets! For this post, your friendly neighborhood BlindGeek is posting the benchmark results for my newly acquired LaCie Rugged Mini 1TB USB 3.0 hard drive.

In many ways, this rather rubbery little guy outperformed the flash-based Kingston Data Traveler I benchmarked earlier, but it seriously failed in one major way…
Upon unpacking and plugging this guy in to an available USB 3.0 port on my desktop, I was prompted with not one, but three (yes, 3!) autoplay prompts; one for the autorun.inf file in the root of the available drivespace, one for a reserved partition of some sort, and a third for the actual available drivespace.

Holy fucking overkill Batman!
What the hell do the devs over at LaCie think? Do you honestly believe that the average user is going to want to do either of the available options:
1. Follow through with LaCie’s completely retarded formatting and lose approx 20% of their disk space or
2. Go through the hassle of deleting all of their stupid partitions and repartitioning the raw volume?
Just for the record, yours truly went with the second option, as no uppity hardware vendor is gonna tell me that my 1TB drive is gonna give me any less then 925GB after overhead goddammit!

All of that ranting out of the way, the drive is a pretty decent performer. Check out the benchmark results below for the breakdown.

CrystalDiskMark 4.0.3 x64

Crystal Dew World

  • MB/sec = 1,000,000 bytes/sec

  • Sequential Read: 116.857MB/sec

  • Sequential Write: 117.099MB/sec
  • Random Read 4KB: 0.536MB/sec (130.9 IOPS)
  • Random Write 4KB: 1.066MB/sec (260.3 IOPS)
  • Sequential Read: 116.615MB/sec
  • Sequential Write: 114.452MB/sec
  • Random Read 4KB: 0.450MB/sec (109.9 IOPS)
  • Random Write 4KB: 1.103MB/sec (269.3 IOPS)

Test: 1024MB [G: 0.0% (0.0/931.5GB)] (x1)

  • Date: 2015/05/20 18:35:00
  • OS: Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 [6.1 Build 7601] (x64)
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Benchmark: Kingston DataTraveler USB 3.0 64GB FlashDrive

Ok Twitches, I just added a Kingston DataTraveler 64GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive to my geek arsenal. Below are the stats from my benchmarking of this nice little drive.

CrystalDiskMark 4.0.3 x64

Crystal Dew World

  • MB/sec = 1,000,000 bytes/sec

  • Sequential Read: 108.297MB/sec

  • Sequential Write: 51.699MB/sec
  • Random Read 4KB: 14.763MB/sec (3604.2 IOPS)
  • Random Write 4KB: 0.009MB/sec (2.2 IOPS)
  • Sequential Read: 94.576MB/sec
  • Sequential Write: 9.857MB/sec
  • Random Read 4KB: 7.464MB/sec (1822.3 IOPS)
  • Random Write 4KB: 0.009MB/sec (2.2 IOPS)

Test: 1024MB [G: 0.0% (0.0/58. GB)] (x1)

  • Date: 2015/05/20 12:48:00
  • OS: Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 [6.1 Build 7601] (x64)
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FireFox & NVDASR Being Sluggish? Here’s the Fix:

Ok my little nerdlets, if you, like me, rely on the hitherto awesome combination of NVDA and FireFox, you’ve no doubt noticed a few lag/loss of control issues when using our favorite combination of screen reader and browser. Have no fear, @BlindSarcasm is here!

Since the release of Firefox 37, I’ve noticed some issues with
keyboard responsiveness with NVDA. Among them were the following issues:

  • When typing echo is enabled, some Websites present more of a delay in voicing what was typed.
    Cursor keys are very slow to respond when playing HTML5 Youtube videos.
    On some pages, pressing an arrow key or a quick navigation key works but sometimes the cursor is returned to its previous position.
  • I discovered that disabling hardware acceleration seems to have solved these issues and Firefox seems to be back to normal. I never had to do this prior to the 37 release. Until this issue is resolved, disabling hardware acceleration may speed up Firefox’s performance for those who are experiencing performance issues.

    Here is how to do it:

      Press alt-T to go into the Tools menu.
      Press O to open the options dialog.
      Arrow down to the category called “advanced.”
      Ensure that you are in the General tab of the Advanced section.
      Press the tab key to move to the “use hardware acceleration” checkbox and press the spacebar to uncheck this item.
      Press enter to activate the OK button and close the dialog.

    I don’t know if it is necessary to restart Firefox but doing so never hurts.

    Hopefully, the tickets filed on this issue will see it resolved sooner rather than later, but until then, this workaround seems to be effective and not overly detrimental in any other way.

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    Help Me Choose A Major League Baseball Team…

    Duck season! Wabbit season! Duck season! Wabbit season!

    Wait, it’s baseball season!

    Ok Twitches, I want you to help me choose which MLB team I’m gonna root for this year. I don’t normally follow baseball all that closely, but since I’ve decided to follow a little closer this year, I decided to let you Twitches help me choose which team to cheer on during the 2015 MLB season.

    I have pared the choices down to the Baltimore Orioles, the Florida Marlins, or the Colorado Rockies.

    Cast your vote in the poll below and stay tuned for the results!

    Which of the following Major League Baseball teams should I cheer on this season?

    View Results

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    Social Security Disability: Don’t Count On It…

    I just wanted to post a quick video here from one of our Wyoming Senators, Mike Enzi, discussing the sorry state of our SSDI program.

    If you’re not concerned by this, there’s something fundamentally wrong with you…

    There, like I said, be afraid. Don’t just be afraid however, get out there and do something! Call your Congressperson. Let them know you’re outraged and make sure you let them know in no uncertain words that you want them to do their part to fix this unacceptable condition.

    *Steps down from soapbox* For now… 😀

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