Lenovo Ideapad U310 – A laptop you can touch

First of all, I’d like to say how thankful I am for Lenovo giving me this laptop to review. I have really enjoyed putting it through the paces as my main machine.

One of the major trends in personal computers since the release of Windows 8 last October was the increase of touch-enabled laptops. In the past, people have scoffed at the idea of touching your laptop screen, saying that it is too awkward or pointless. That may have been true with Windows 7, which wasn’t as optimized for touch as Windows 8 is.

However, with Windows 8, touch now makes perfect sense on any device, from a large all-in-one PC to a little 13 inch laptop. (Obviously touch makes perfect sense on a tablet) Within the first few hours, I was completely accustomed to touching the screen that I completely forgot about the track pad. In fact, whenever I needed to use a laptop without touch, I found myself touching the screen, only to be frustrated when it didn’t work. J

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to use the touch screen to do everything, so I found myself using the mouse for a few things. For example, applications like Photoshop, Illustrator, Muse, and Visual Studio (applications which I use on a daily basis), require a more precise interaction than a touch screen can provide. However, the majority of people don’t use these applications and this wouldn’t be a problem for them.

Overall, I used touch for when I was not on the desktop. I would use touch in Internet Explorer, Tweetro+, and just about every other Windows 8 application I use. It was especially fun to play around with Fresh Paint on Windows 8. (No, I’m not going to share any art, it would be too embarrassing. J)

Games was also great to have touch for. I had purchased Angry Birds Star Wars before, but because it wasn’t working on Windows RT, I hadn’t had a chance to play it at all. (I absolutely refused to play it using a mouse. That is just pointless.) But when I received this computer, finally my chance at popping some storm trooper pigs had arrived.

Unfortunately this Ultrabook is not for me. I love the size and touch capabilities, but it turns out that I require a much more powerful device to accomplish what I need to do. I do a lot of programming and design work, which requires me to have multiple resource-intensive applications running at once. Running Visual Studio (for programming), Photoshop, Illustrator, and Muse (for design), I quickly reached the max memory and processor load.

So while this device would be perfect for the average user, It’s not for me. (Which makes me sad because I love the size of the device and the touch capabilities)

Change border color on selected GridViewItem and ListViewItem

I have had this issue where any GridView or ListView I create with item selection enabled has a standard border color that I just couldn’t seem to change. It was a purple color, and it annoyed me because it didn’t match the colors I was using in my app.

I had given up hope on finding this until recently. Today I found the code for a GridViewItem style, and found the specific items that I could change a couple properties, and voilà!

Screenshot (1)

Custom color selection borders!

So here’s how you do it. First, you get the code for a GridViewItem. (Or a ListViewItem)
(GridViewItem)


(ListViewItem)


There are two things you are looking for (They’ll be near the bottom of each style):

  1. A rectangle with the name “SelectedBorder”
  2. A path with the name “SelectedEarmark”

All you need to do is change the Stroke property on the rectangle and the fill property on the path to the SolidColorBrush of your choice.

I hope this helps you as you seek to perfect your app!

Remember, the best way to learn is to DO. So feel free to mess around with the style code and get things looking just the way you want.

Thanks,

Joshua

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Custom URI Associations for Pouch for Windows Phone

I have received requests from users of Pouch for Windows Phone to be able to save a link to Pouch (Pocket/Read It Later) from other apps. Unfortunately, Microsoft doesn’t allow me to integrate my app into Windows Phone’s share menu, so I can’t receive links that way.

That’s where custom URI associations come in. If you are unfamiliar with them, they basically allow one app to open another app and pass simple information along to the opened app. (Read more about it here)

In the next version of Pouch (to be released soon), I have added a custom URI Scheme so other developers can integrate Pouch (Pocket/Read it Later) in their apps without having to create a custom implementation.

Developers can use the following URI to launch Pouch to save an article to Pocket:

Pouch:Add?Url=InsertUrlHere

For example, to save a link to Pocket, an app could launch the URI with the following line of code:

Await Windows.System.Launcher.LaunchUriAsync(New Uri(" ")

That’s it! Pouch will add the link and show a preview page of the article that looks like this:

Screenshot 1

From here the user can either hit the back button to return to your app, or by using the app bar, they can continue on to Pouch to view their articles

Screenshot 2

Thanks and good luck! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me on twitter @SonofNun or via email at pouchapp@outlook.com

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How to get four rows of tiles on your Surface RT

During my time using my Surface for Windows RT, I have had several instances where it would seemingly randomly have four rows of live tiles on the start screen.

Like this:

After thinking about what I did before each instance, I was able to work it down and figure out what was triggering the change. However, what I figured out does not make sense.

So what seems to be triggering the change to four rows is the touch cover. I have found that if I have the Surface in a shutdown state (not sleeping), and have the touch cover on and closed (covering the screen), then press the power button to turn on the device. Usually I walk away while it boots, but that’s not necessary for this to work. When I come back and flip open the touch cover, swipe away my lock screen, and go through my picture password, I will be greeted with my start screen with four rows of tiles.

Then later (I have not figure out this part yet) it just switches back to three rows of tiles.

I do not know if this will work on everybody’s Surface. It may by unique to my Surface, but my guess is that it isn’t. I would be interested to hear if anyone else can get their Surface to do the same thing, or even if you can’t. Either way, leave a comment to let me know.

[Update]

I should have posted this sooner, but if you haven’t found out already, there is a way to get your Surface RT to permanently have four rows on the start screen. However, the process is not for the faint of heart, so if you are not comfortable modifying the registry, you might want to skip it.

First, fire up the registry. The easiest way to do this is to search for “regedit” while on the Start Screen, then tap the “regedit.exe” to open the registry.

Second, navigate through the registry to the following key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer

Third, right-click on the key “Explorer” in the navigation pane on the left of the registry editor, and click New -> Key, and name the new key “Scaling”.

Fourth, right-click on the new key, and click New -> String Value, and name it “MonitorSize”.

Screenshot (11)

Fifth, on the right panel of the registry editor, right-click your new string value and click “Modify”.

Sixth, in the value box, enter “12.1”

Screenshot (12)

Click OK, close the registry, and restart your Surface. And now your screen should have four rows like mine!

Screenshot (13)

 

Thanks,

Joshua

What will Windows RT look like?

I’ve been thinking, “What exactly will the final version of Windows RT look like?” Yes, yes, I know, the interface will look something like this screen:

 

surface_04

But what about the little details? I forget where I read this, but I’ve heard tech editors say that there will be no desktop on Windows RT? Really? How do they know? Yes, I also know that Windows RT won’t support tradition x86/x64 applications, but that doesn’t mean that the desktop won’t be there. Take a look at this picture of Excel 2013 for Windows RT:

office_2013_rt_original

Ahem, pardon me, but what does that look like on the bottom of the screenshot? What’s that? Bingo! The “taskbar”! Where does the taskbar usually show up? Right again! On the DESKTOP!

So, it looks like there will be a desktop on Windows RT. A desktop with a file manager and a desktop version of Internet Explorer 10.

So please, all you people who say that the desktop will be missing from Windows RT, please stop.

Why I Think the Microsoft Surface Pro is Coming Out 3 Months After the RT Version

Yeah, I know, it’s been a while . . .

My brother and I were talking, and I think we came up with a pretty viable reason why Microsoft will release the Surface Pro three months after the Surface RT. Let me string some facts together:

  1. Microsoft said that the Surface RT would be available around Windows 8 general availability, which they mentioned at the announcement press conference.
  2. The Verge reports that the only confirmed Windows 8 RT tablet in the works is one by Asus.
  3. There seems to be a plethora of Intel-based tablets which will run the full version of Windows 8, including ones by Lenovo, HP, Dell, and others.

Now, if you think about all these facts together, what can we conclude?

Well, first, how many OEMs are going to get “screwed” by Microsoft with the Surface RT? Well, currently it’s just Asus, as they are the only one currently developing a Windows RT tablet.

Second, what could be a possible reason for Microsoft waiting three months to release it’s Intel version of the Surface? Maybe it’s so that it doesn’t “screw” all the OEMs who will release their Intel-based Windows 8 tablets around Windows 8 general availability.

Can you think of a better reason? Have anything to add? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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Question: Ice Cream Sandwich and HTC Sense

So, I hear that HTC Sense is the flavor of Android to get. But when I saw a video of stock Android 4.0, a.k.a. Ice Cream Sandwich, I thought, “Who would want Sense?”

Source: Engadget

Source: SmartPhoneBlogging.com

So the question is, from what you see now, will you prefer your Ice Cream Sandwich plain? Or do you prefer your Ice Cream Sandwich to be Sense flavored? Let me know it the poll below.

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Leaked Lenovo Tablet

Lenovo Tegra 3 leak

This 10.1-inch Lenovo tablet looks pretty awesome, but where are the face shots? Whoever leaked this couldn’t get pictures of the front of the device. Hmmm . . .

Anyways, from what we can see of this tablet, it looks pretty awesome! Rumored to be running Android’s new Ice Cream Sandwhich OS, this purports to be a device to be reckoned with.

It is said to have include NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 T33 processor, along with 2gb . . . you heard that right . . . 2gb of 1,600MHz of DDR3 RAM. Lenovo also decided to throw in there a full-sized USB socket, which they also had included in their Thinkpad Tablet released not to long ago. And not to mention the fingerprint scanner.

Pretty awesome! I can’t wait to hear more about this tablet.

Source: Engadget

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Changing a Wireless card in a Lenovo G560

This is a relatively easy task even for those not very technically inclined.

Tools: A small Phillips head screwdriver, a small flat head screwdriver, and a pair of small pliers. A small container is also preferred to hold loose screws.

First, begin by powering off the device, unplugging the power adapter, and removing the battery.

Now, there is a large panel on the bottom of the laptop, held into place by seven (7) Phillips head screws.

P1080594

Once you have removed those seven screws and placed them in a safe place, use the flat head screwdriver to pop up the panel, starting on the right side in the above picture. Be careful not to break any of the small clips holding it in place.

P1080595

Once you have removed the panel, set it aside somewhere safe. You should now see something similar to the below picture.

P1080596

In the above picture, the wireless card is in the top right of the large “hole” left by the panel. It has a small barcode on it, and black and white wires running vertically to it.

P1080597

With the small pliers, gently but firmly remove the two wires connected to the wireless card. Don’t worry, they just pop straight off.

P1080598

There is one small screw holding the wireless card down. Unscrew it and set the screw somewhere safe, you are going to need it.

P1080599

Gently pull the wireless card towards the center of the laptop until the connection comes loose.

P1080600

Then remove and set somewhere safe.

P1080601

Carefully unpack the new wireless card.

P1080602

From now on, we are basically doing the same steps in reverse.

Gently insert the new wireless card by sliding it into the connection. Look carefully before you start, there is only one way to insert it and you don’t want to break your new wireless card. Or the laptop for that matter.

P1080603

Now, screw in the small screw that you set aside.

P1080604

Now, using the pliers, carefully attach the wire connections. They go on straight down.

P1080605

Here, the new wireless card is completely attached.

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Now, replace the panel, making sure to press down all around the edges until you here it click in place and it is flush with the rest of the bottom.

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Now, screw in each of the seven screws.

P1080609P1080610P1080611P1080612P1080613P1080614P1080615

Then, reinsert your battery, plug in the laptop (if desired), and power on the laptop.

P1080616

There you have it!

Windows, or any other operating system, should automatically detect the new hardware and have it ready for use.

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Changing the Color of the OSD on a Lenovo Thinkpad Edge

I just recently stumbled upon a setting allowing you to change the color of the On Screen Display (OSD) on my Lenovo Thinkpad Edge. You can do this if you are bored with the original black and white that it comes pre-set as.

{Prerequisites: Lenovo Thinkpad, Windows 7, On Screen Display driver installed. (This may work with other models, so if you find that it can, let me know in the comments so I can update the post)}

So, here is what you do:

1) First, minimize everything you have open by clicking the button in the bottom right corner of your screen. (To the right of the Time)

   <— Here

2) Right-Click on a blank part of the desktop.

3) In the menu that opens, click “Screen Resolution”

4) Click on the “Advanced Settings” link in the Windows that opens up.

5) In the window that opens, click the “On Screen Display” Tab.

6) Then you can click on one of the buttons to the right of “Foreground color” and “Background color”.

7) You can then choose your colors and click the “Apply” button. The Capslock and NumLock OSD flashes in your new colors.

8 ) Click the “OK” button on the Advanced Properties window.

9) Click the “OK” button on the Screen Resolution windows.

That’s it!

Enjoy your new colors!

(If you find that this process works with a different model computer than the one(s) listed, please leave a comment with the make and model of your computer.)

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