Windows 10 mouse stutter

Since I upgraded to Windows 10 in October 2017, I have noticed that my mouse pointer stutters when opening a new program or playing games. This has made mouse heavy games almost unplayable as the mouse stutters its way around the screen.

I sought advice on Reddit and StackOverflow, however, the advice found there did not resolve the issue. I have now found a solution that works for me:

  1. Open the Start Menu
  2. Type “mouse”
  3. Select “Change your mouse settings”
  4. Go to Pointer Options
  5. Uncheck “Enhance pointer precision”
  6. Click apply

Since making the change, no stutter.

Microsoft Surface Impressions

I had the chance to play with Microsoft’s new Surface RT yesterday so I thought I would give a few impressions. I will preface them by saying that I don’t currently have a horse in the tablet race. The iPad has done a fantastic job in popularizing the concept (as apple products tend to do) but I am not a huge fan of the iOS interface with its grid system. On mobile I prefer android and have a fondness for Asus’s Eeepad Transformer range of tablets. I was eager to see what Microsoft would bring to the table.

The tablet itself is a nice piece of kit. The hardware seems sturdy and the stand does not feel like it will snap off easily, I also love how easy it is to connect and disconnect the keyboard from the device. Surface is well featured with usb, microsd and a port that will allow you to connect it to monitors and televisions. There are two downers though, the first for me is that the device is too heavy. I disconnected it from its keyboard and played with it off the desk for a while and it was giving me a bit of an arm ache. It was noticeable that the device was heavier than an iPad and less comfortable to hold. The other downside comes from the keyboards. The first major issue is that to use the keyboard functionally you need the device on a table. If you place it on your lap the stand will not be stable and it will be a poor experience. The second issue is that the colourful surface touch covers are horrible to use. They are pretty much flat and there is no movement or feedback when you press a key. It makes it very difficult to discover if the keys you are pressing are actually registering and it was not enjoyable. Fortunately Microsoft also offer a black keyboard cover that has a much nicer keyboard and although the level of travel is still small you have a much better idea of what you are doing. I could get on with the black keyboard, I couldn’t with the coloured ones. Spend the extra money… The final thing I will say on hardware is that Apple have gotten me used to the dimensions of the iPad which made the RT feel very wide and thin, this made it feel strange in the hand. The advantage of this is that it means that video tends to fill the screen.

The tablet I played with did have some videos preloaded and they predictably worked well, the store on the device also seemed to be offering movie rentals at very decent prices as well. The music player didn’t seem overly well laid out and it was hard to hear the sound quality in the store, even with sound all the way up I could hear nothing. The supplied apps were generally pleasing, calendar, contacts and mail all have a nice clean feel and I would be happy using those. The image features were pretty standard and the inbuilt cameras seemed ok for what they are. The sample pictures and general colour display on the device did not seem as vibrant or enticing as on the iPad though. In terms of the general Windows 8 interface, it is starting to win me over as a tablet and phone layout. It has the ability to display information easily and once you get used to where things are I would rate it as better than the iOS grid. It took me a while but I also worked out some of the gesture controls that are not standard on other devices, for example swiping from off screen to bring up the open/recent apps on the left or the search/settings on the right. It took me a while to work out how to control IE but swiping from the top/bottom does the trick. These gestures work well once you know them and it made the experience easy to control. What was less impressive was the responsiveness of the tablet. Sure it runs apps and all of that fine, my problem was a more base issue of the device not picking up what I was tapping on. It occasionally took me two or three attempts to open an app, the worst was trying to play music which took me a while to get working. A delay and a lack of feedback to tell me if something was in the process of opening did not help.

So overall I enjoyed playing with the surface. Would I buy one? No, but the interface is up there with android as my favourite. I am sure that Microsoft will fix (or already has fixed) the responsiveness problems I faced but there is a more general issue of the device being too heavy and being impractical for lap usage. I guess that means that I am giving the interface and OS a plus mark for use on tablets, especially given the bonus of the integrated windows desktop experience and office suite, but I am not sold on the surface hardware. Time will tell on how the competition stacks up in the RT marketplace but if I had to buy a tablet today I would be going android.

Image from the Microsoft Surface website

Browser rankings

So a month ago we saw Microsoft introduce its browser ballot which popped up for everyone who had Internet Explorer picked as their default browser. So I had a look at the top five and some of the smaller picks in the ballot.

6. Apple Safari – I tested Apple’s browser at work yesterday and found it very slow, sure browsing speed was fast but the software itself kept stalling and smacked of software built mainly for another operating system.

5. Flock – Flock is the best of the smaller browsers. It allows you to keep an eye on your social networks with a style largely based on Firefox even borrowing the rendering engine

4. Internet Explorer 8 – Its become rather cool to mock Internet Explorer, IE8 goes a long way to fixing the problems but its still not as good as several other browsers but with IE9 coming in a few months time Microsoft will be hoping that they can get back onto peoples computers.

3. Opera – Opera were the company making the biggest noise about the need for microsoft to stop packaging IE in Windows which immediately made me hate them. That said though they have built a decent and speedy browser with some very neat addons to improve the experience including a turbo button that puts sites through their server, compresses the images and then shows it to you a lot quicker than usual. They have also added a system to allow you to share files and host websites via your browser.

2. Google Chrome – I’ve liked google chrome for a long time for its speed and minimalist style. This is the fastest browser in my opinion and it never nags you about updates which is a bonus.

1. Mozilla Firefox – Firefox has gone downhill a little in the last year or two, the browser has gotten slow and clunky but the range of extensions and its brilliance as a browser for web design makes it a must have for me.

What do you think? Which browser do you use?

The image software I pick and why the others don’t fit the bill

So a month ago I decided to test out every image editor I had ever heard of and then Craig gave me a couple more that I hadn’t. The aim was simple, I knew photoshop was brilliant but I wanted to see if I could get the features I needed without the £600 price tag. My intention was to run a series of tests across all the software devices and then report back. Unfortunately I ran out of time so my analysis is not as in depth as I would have liked but I can rank the software by my preference with my reasons.

This analysis is not meant as a general means for everyone, I mainly use image editors to prepare images for websites so a little minor touching up, a bit of text addition and a lot of resizing and optimisation. I do not get the most out of these pieces of software that are built for so much more.

First off though two suites that Craig recommended that I could not work out what need I had for. I am sure that for some they are very useful but for me, not so much.

So last:
Xara Xtreme and Xara Xtreme Pro – as I said I just could not find a use for these products that really justified the price.

Now to those that I found could do most if not all of the things I wanted.

6. Paint.net
Paint.net is largely a wonderful tool, it is intuitive and has almost all of the image editing features you could need and being free only sweetens the deal. It is easy to resize and optimise images for the web and will do simple design… BUT it is last of the editors that had the features I needed because of its really bad text tool. The Paint.net help pages explain it best:

“While typing, you may press the Esc key to finish the text and render it to the layer. Once you have finished with text, it may not be modified except by undoing it and retyping the text. To be precise, after the text is rendered it no longer exists in the image as text, but only as pixels and that is why this limitation exists.”

Well sorry but sometimes I make mistakes in my text and want to edit it. I do not want to have to retype the text every time I want to change a word or make a small change. This is retarded and ruins an otherwise excellent free program.

5. Gimp 2
Gimp has been around for ages but I’ve never really seen eye to eye with it, while it did everything I wanted it to it sometimes took more steps than I thought it should and it is not always an intuitive program to use. Being designed primarily for linux means the interface looks dated. That said it could do everything I wanted to do, it just took me a while.

4. GimPhoto – BEST FREEWARE
It turns out that people have been releasing their own updates to the Gimp freeware, this version aims to make the software more like Photoshop and it largely succeeds. Everything feels a little bit newer and a bit sleeker. It is definitely an improvement over the original design and represents my top rated piece of freeware.

3. Corel Paintshop Pro – £59 on amazon
My Father introduced me to Paint Shop Pro years ago with out Windows 98 machine. Back then we had our first digital camera and the software was pretty dang basic. Now though the software is a lot better with many of the features of Photoshop. It just seems to nag a little too much, be a little slow in places and lack a bit of the sheen of the premier product. If you are looking to manage and touch up a photo collection then this would be a good choice.

2. Photoshop CS4 – £580
The big daddy of image editing is about to get a new release. This program offers pretty well any tool I could ever need and does everything in an intuitive way. It is very easy to resize images, manipulate images in any way and has a save for web option. Adobe Bridge is also a pretty good way of managing your images and overall this software is just a joy to use. The downside is the price, oh to be a student and be able to get this program for £200. £580 is just too much for a piece of software for the majority and it leads many to find other means of getting Adobe’s masterwork. If adobe halved the price I would snap this up in a second but when I can buy Photoshop or a new PC, TV or a heck of a lot of games and some grand prix tickets or 20 times Karting it is just no deal. No matter how good it is I just cannot justify the cost for what I would use it for. If my livelihood were image editing and design then I would have to swallow the bill but its not, I just need some light editing and touching up for websites.

Therefore…

1. Photoshop Elements 8 – £50 – OVERALL WINNER
With all the features that I need to do everything at the moment and a pretty good image manager built into it as well Photoshop Elements is a clear winner. At a tenth of the price of its big daddy you would expect something a lot more cut down than what you receive here. Sure you might be missing bigger modern features but what I am doing is things that could have been done years ago and so have happily filtered down into the Elements program. Its fast, its optimisation is identical to CS4 and it maintains the same straightforward interface in most places. I see no reason to spend the extra £550 on the bigger software.

What do you think though? I will certainly be trying out CS5 next month. Content Aware Fill looks incredible and I can’t wait to try that out. What image editors do you use and what was I meant to use Xara for?

Tidying up a bit

I have tidied up some parts of the blog template that have been annoying me for a while. At the same time I have also added a new feature.

The categories are now near the top so they are easier to find, still not perfect but definitely an improvement. At the same time I’ve improved the twitter widget I am using and also added my xbox gamercard as well. If you have an xbox feel free to add me. I have also added the link to my amazon wishlist back in as well in case you have a need to buy me something… not sure why you would but just in case…

Lastly I have started allowing registrations so that you can now sign up so it remembers your login for when you post comments. I will eventually move this functionality over to the gallery as well when I make changes to it later in the year so if you want to make comments sign up to make it easier for yourself in future.

Also let me know on this post if you want any other changes made or have any issues with the site.

Thanks guys.

What I’ve been working on

You may or may not know that several months ago my friend Craig and I launched (well almost) our own hosting website. I’ll tell you more about that in another post in the future when we have finished tinkering. Part of that process meant signing up as being self employed, I thought that I’d take the opportunity to earn some extra funds and build websites for people in my spare time. Well the first of those websites has now been launched.

Tapovan

My aunt wanted a website for her Gite in the south of France. It launched last week and is already near the top of google in searches for the region. Currently I am finalised a gallery and ideas for an online booking system but for now if you are interested in a holiday in a beautiful area in the south of France then take a look and contact them.

The other thing I have been working on is a pet project, being a Formula One fan for the last 12 years and not missing a single race in that time while also playing every F1 game that has come out in that time. I have been a member of a forum for the last 5 years that was a great community but its somewhat fallen into disrepair as the owner lost interest. I therefore wanted to take the theme and improve upon it. I have therefore launched the first version of f1gaming.com.

f1gaming.com

The idea behind the site is to place the latest f1 and f1 game news onto the website on a daily basis with several writers keeping out community updated. In the next couple of months we will be launching a forum on the site and a full database of race results and racing games with reviews and user reviews. For now though the site only has the ability to allow users to sign up and post comments on most news stories with a lot of other parts coming soon.

Other sites I am working on:
A church website
A telecoms and courses website
This Blog
My film news website
Our hosting site

So if you want a website or you have comments about my work let me know… but be prepared to wait for a little while due to my current workload… and the fact I occaisionally don’t want to work in the evenings.

Touch Screen is not the future

While the gimmick of 3d has rather stolen the title of overhyped technology in the past couple of months its predecessor the touch screen is still a powerful force. With Apple set to announce its widely rumoured tablet pc later today and the iphone being the most popular phone handset in the western world it seems that we are going to have a lot of people using poor input devices.

While I will happily say that a touch screen gives a great interface and input method that I believe is an improvement on a mouse in a lot of devices. And with the abilities of touch screen only going to improve I still can not see a sound reason for a touch screen to replace the keyboard. For a start I think that it is a mistake to create desktop machines with a touch screen. I do not want to sit at my desk and have to raise my hands to click on something every five minutes, that sounds stupidly tiring. I think touchscreen though is a good idea for laptops, laptops with swivel screens have been around for years, multitouch makes them cool.

I like the idea of having a conventional laptop and then spinning the screen around to create a tablet pc to demonstrate something to someone. I do not, however, see the point of having a dedicated tablet device. Certainly whatever apple comes out with later today will be seen as a very cool tablet pc and it may be a game changer in terms of that market and of ebook readers but it suffers from the issue of typing on a touch screen being inaccurate or inconvenient.

Every device that I have used that tried to handle text input well using solely touch has failed compared to a traditional button input. This is worst on mobile devices (where such things have really taken off recently). While I have been using a phone with a touch screen for the best part of six years now until the HTC Hero they all had an input keyboard. I tried to use the onscreen attempts but constantly failed miserably. There is no conceivable way that without the feedback of a regular keyboard a touchscreen a device can compete for accuracy or speed. Certainly the hero makes up for this with predictive text but really I wish I could type the words correctly myself instead of relying on technology to interpret what I am trying to say (and it often fails to do that).

The problem is that the mobile industry is now moving so fast away from buttons and towards touch screen because of the iphone that millions are left disadvantaged. Sure it looks flashy that stylish piece of plastic in your pocket but do you honestly enjoy the experience of typing on the screen, getting your grubby mitts on it and making it grimy?

In the latest issue of PCPro (January 2010 issue: 185 page: 134) Paul Ockenden ran a test between six handsets, 4 with onscreen keyboards and 2 with traditional button based input. He then typed the first couple of verses of Lou Reed’s ‘Pale Blue Eyes’, timed himself and counted the errors. The two button based devices were the only ones on which he made zero errors and he finished over 40 seconds faster than using any of the touch screens. I do not see how it is possible that on mobile devices that are getting smaller and smaller any new innovation can appear that brings back those 40 seconds or the accuracy.

An iphone or my current phone (the HTC hero) could become my favourite phone but for the lack of slide-out keyboards if HTC or Apple add one then I will buy it very quickly but y’know a big ole keyboard is not exactly sleek or stylish and so will it happen? no and we are worse off because of it.

Therefore my favourite phone and the one that has been the most useful and convenient remains my faithful Tytn2. Sure it was not perfect carrying a fairly awful Windows Mobile OS but the keyboard and features made it a true joy. If it had been touch screen only it would have been pure unbridled hell. Slap a faster processor and a chunky SSD on that baby and it would last me a long time.


The greatest phone of all time? Update it and I would buy it again…
image from pdagear.com

A new toy

In recent times I have found it a slight flaw that I have never built a computer before. Sure I have seen the insides of a computer but until you actually build one you never know exactly what each little bit does and where and how it connects together.

Luckily then, my wife saw my frustratedness with our inherited home pc which we have also been using as a media centre and took pity letting me create a new media centre from scratch. After a little deliberation with Craig I narrows down my components list which can be found here:
http://jonners.me.uk/resources/computer-plan

On Tuesday and Thursday and ordered my components and by Friday all had arrived and with my wife out for the evening I set to work.

case before

This is what my case looked like before I started, you should be able to see it is compartmentalised into three parts. The main area will house the motherboard, processor and memory. It also has two nice chunky (and thankfully silent) fans. The nearest area has the power supply and any cd drives and finally we have the harddrives in their own little area.

The first job was to fit the motherboard which was a bit of a pain… especially when it tells you to screw in the phillips head screws provided… and all the provided screws of all shapes and sizes are in fact philips head. I got this done quite quickly though compared to the pain that was the CPU heat sink. First the motherboard booklet lied about which way in the CPU should go… luckily the way I had guessed you should do it turned out to be right. The heatsink though used a really annoying push screw tecnique that made me feel like I was going to bend and snap the motherboard. Once these joyous tasks were done I fitted the ram (something I have done many times) and then got to work with the harddrives and CD drive (also simple).

The last task was cabling it up, while the compartments were a nice idea for keeping parts separate they were a right pain for cables. I essentially did the whole thing twice, once and then again from scratch to make it tidier.

Case after

As you can see its not exactly tidy in there but with the space in the case there wasn’t really another way. The next and final task was to make sure the thing actually worked so I plugged it in having checked the cables one last time and surprisingly it worked.

Having moved data about I did the windows experience indexing and got a 3.1 due to the onboard graphics. The PSU was a 6.3 compared to my dell which gets a rather pathetic in comparison 4.5 that said with its 7600gt the dell gets a 5.9 for graphics…

In terms of wattage it does 10w in sleep mode, 60 watts in idle and 70 watts in use which I think is pretty darn handy especially as it is likely to spend 23 hours of each day in sleep mode. Coming out of sleep mode is also impressive, taking a nice short 3 seconds. Overall I am a little chuffed and with lots of room for improvement in future things can only get better…

Now though I have no excuses not to work from home as I now have a PC to call my own.

Is there a need for twitter

Twitter is a service that has seemingly divided people more than most others. It appears to mainly be used by people who stalk celebrities. Yet I have noticed that all of our companies competitors are now using the service to promote their services and enhance their brand. The question though has to be asked, is there a point to this.

For me twitter is a simple way to update my status across multiple platforms. When I post on twitter, it appears on this blog and on facebook. I am sure I could link it to my google account as well if I wanted. It is the perfect way to get across fun and interesting links that I find as well as links to my blog posts and other websites. Lastly it is a way to get my point across with little effort from any internet enabled device (usually my phone).

For a company it is a free marketing tool. They have to do nothing and they can get their products and services out there in 30 seconds. News organisations such as our competitors can post the latest news on twitter which leads to clickthroughs to their website.

The problem is I just don’t check what people write on twitter and pcpro came out with information that said that the majority of twitter users post only once. It is an ideal way to stalk celebrities, to find out the more pointless parts of their lives and to be ignored by them when you reply to them. Come on who thinks Stephen Fry would reply to his 500,000 followers when they send him things. The man just doesn’t have the time.

For me twitter has a use, for businesses it can be a valuable and cheap advertising tool and for others its a great way to stalk celebrities without the threat of prison. I do not see how many can be made from twitter as I think it would lose a lot of its users if it started to charge. The freeness of it is what keeps the businesses coming back as well. The same is true with advertising. It could happen but it seems somewhat at odds with the sites simple nature.

I have a use for twitter, but how much longer will it be able to survive? I don’t know and I could find a way to survive if it didn’t so I don’t really care. Which I suppose means that no there is no real need for twitter. It is just a tool for free marketing, it is what I use it for, what companies use it for and what celebrities use it for. Everyone who uses it for their deepest personal revelations is just a bit daft.

End of Year List – Games

This is the first of three lists I am compiling for the end of the year, the first is most likely to be the most boring for everyone but I am doing it anyway. I am making my list of the top five computer games of this year. On Wednesday I will be doing my review of the year in top five experiences form (incl America, getting engaged etc). I will then be rounding this off (probably on Friday) with my top five films of this year.

Games
5. The Godfather: Blackhand edition (Wii) – This game made me properly appreciate the films in all their splendour, a proper open world was portrayed in 1930’s New York and the control system was amazing. This was easily the equal of a GTA game, nothing hindered my enjoyment of this brilliant game.

4. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Wii) – Prime 3 was the game most people we excited about when the wii was announced what with the proper aiming abilities afforded by the console. While not perfect the game is superb and I really enjoyed what I have had the chance to play so far. The puzzles are occaisionally stupidly tricky but I do not think this is a real complaint. Held my attention far better than the previous two did.

3. Race Driver: Create and Race (DS) – I was looking forward to this game from the day it was announced and it didn’t let me down. The ability to create and race on your own tracks has always been a dream for me and this game made it a reality. The fact that Craig is so bad at it is but a bonus. The handling and graphics are brilliant for a racing game on a handheld system and I really have no complaints with this game except on the repetitiveness front.

2. Bioshock (PC) – Bioshock will probably be most peoples game of the year and I am glad I took a chance and bought it when I got back from America. The physics engine is superb what with the special abilities called Plasmids as well to make the game more enjoyable. Possibly the best shooter I have ever played with an immersive story as well. The game is maybe a little short but replay value is high.

1. Super Mario Galaxy (Wii) – Everyone loves Mario, except me. I have never been able to get into a Mario game before, I can play them but they never have the appeal to keep me what with their weak stories and samey gameplay. Finally this has all changed, Mario Galaxy is my game of the year because of the way it plays with gravity and physics. You have the run of full galaxies with fluctuating gravity levels and this is brilliant fun. If you have a wii then you must have this game it is the game that makes me like Mario.

So there are my top five games with a short explanation of why I enjoyed each so much. There are many more games I wish to have played – Call of Duty 4 being the main one – but I have yet to buy a new harddrive to allow me to buy the game for PC but for me this has been a top year of gaming and I can see next year being even better for Wii even with three of the top series already having been released.