#12: Should I pay the (co)Pilot?

Microsoft has a habit of over-pivoting to use the same terminology for lots of different things, sometimes even giving the same name to related but quite specifically different things. Think OneDrive / OneDrive for Business, OneNote / OneNote for Windows 10, Skype / Skype for Business, Teams and Teams (work account) etcetera. At times in the past, everything was seemingly appended with “.NET”, or given a name starting “Windows…” “Live…” or “One…” (or all three).

Here’s the Copilot

With all the hoo-hah in recent months about “Copilot”, it can be confusing to pin down exactly what it is – a search engine, chatbot, a tool to write code, or something that will draw pictures while summarizing your email?

There are whole standalone experiences like the Bing search which was originally Chat but has now been renamed Copilot …

… and the Edge browser integrated Copilot panel, activated by the icon in the top right. Preview versions of Windows have a Copilot button on the taskbar with the ability to tweak things inside the operating system. New PCs will soon have a Copilot button on their keyboard.

There are other “Copilot” things coming out all the time. Want some help in writing a Power Automate cloud flow to integrate stuff between systems? If you’re a salesperson, Copilot in Dynamics Sales lessens the drudgery of keeping CRM up to date. Or if you’re a developer, Github can help you write better code, more quickly. Some are free and some need you to subscribe to.

It’s very likely that these things come from different sets of technologies under the hood, though Microsoft is increasingly talking about there being a “Copilot platform” behind each of these experiences. Things are certainly moving quickly – as BizApps MVP Steve Mordue commented in his chat with Charles Lamanna. Expect the effect of AI on regular applications to move from being an addon or a side panel, to fundamentally changing the apps we use – why build a BI dashboard if you can just ask the questions you need or even have the information suggested to you?

Copilot Pro and Copilot in M365

The recently-launched Copilot for Microsoft 365 integrates priority access to some of the public web services (akin to ChatGPT Plus), and adds in-app integration with Microsoft 365 and Office applications, promising also to be able to put the back end magic to work across your own organization’s data too. It’s been in preview for a while, for certain customers – initially it was invite-only for some of the biggest (who still had to pay for it) but recently has been extended to anyone with a Microsoft 365 Business subscription.

Somewhat confusingly, Microsoft at the same time announced “Copilot Pro”, which is really for individuals and integrates with Microsoft 365 personal or family subscriptions, for a monthly fee of $20 (or £19 – forex, huh… though the USD amount doesn’t include tax whereas the GBP one does).

If you’re not a Microsoft 365 Personal or Family subscriber you won’t see a lot of the value which Copilot Pro adds, on top of the GPT-4 Turbo and DALL-E 3 usage. If you are already using a M365 home subscription, then for your £19/month you’ll see Copilot functionality showing up in the desktop and web versions of the Office apps. (NB – that’s £19 per user; note that the £8/month you might pay for M365 family gets you up to 6 people… they’d each need to be enrolled into Copilot Pro if you wanted all to get the benefit, so it could work out quite expensive).

Select a block of text or a page in OneNote and you can summarize it or build a To-Do list on what actions it might contain. Word shows a little Copilot icon on the left of the text editing block, and will offer to draft some text or rewrite what’s already there.

 

Excel’s analytical Copilot is still in preview (and works on files already saved in OneDrive/Sharepoint only), while PowerPoint offers some frankly amazing abilities to generate fluff from thin air, or jazz up the dreary text-laden slides you might already have.

Buying and deploying Copilot for Microsoft 365 business users – available to small business users on Business Standard or Premium, or Enterprise users who have E3 or E5 licenses – is something an organizational admin would need to control, so if you’re an end user then you’ll need to wait until they decide you’re worth it.

The business version (priced at £30 per month, inc VAT) gives you everything that Copilot Pro does, and also access to your own organization’s date, and, integration with Teams, where Copilot can prepare summaries of meetings you have, or offer a chatbot that can find other information in different sources.

Should I buy it?

If you’re an Office apps user and have a M365 family or personal subscription, then it’s worth taking a look at Copilot Pro – the first monthly subscription of £19/$20 will give you a chance to have a proper play with Copilot functionality, and then decide to keep it going or cancel the subscription and it’ll expire at the end of the month. It might even give you an idea – as an end user – what Copilot for M365 could give you, and thus petition the powers that be to enable it for your M365 org.

One downside of the M365 business Copilot licensing model is that, although it works out at $30/£30 per month (give or take), it’s an annual commitment which must be paid up front. So if you’re looking to kick the tyres, try the $20/£19 a month Pro first.

 

 

 

 

#9: Go for a walk

Hello, ToW readers! It’s been a few couple of months now since the recent yet erstwhile host of “Tip of the Week” was acquired and their new owner has thus far not completed the repurposing of their content, and therefore not given me confidence in writing any more for them, for now. In the meantime, I’ll continue to dribble this stuff onto LinkedIn each Friday (as Tip o’ the Week always was, in the days when it was a Microsoft internal email), following from the restarted numbering system as at the time it changed from Tip o’ to Tip of.

I do hope you enjoy. Yay.

Now that we’re finally in the grip of the New Year, some NY resolutions might have been sacrificed already; eating less, moving more, not drinking too much and the like. If you’re still keen, maybe each weekend, why not get out into the great beyond and go for a walk?

Step 1 will be to decide where you’re going to walk to. Technology provides lots of help in that regard – from local website guides offering “10 great winter walks to take in your area” type articles (typically stuffed with clickbait and stupid advertising, though), to mobile apps and web sites like MapMyWalk, AllTrails and Visorando. Community enthusiasts might post their favourite routes on these and other fora, possibly with reviews to tell you how muddy they are / how many angry bulls you might encounter etc.

Screenshot 2024-01-12 134756If you like the good old method of staring at a map and making up your own way, there are all the usual mapping tools available too. Google Maps clearly has a market share leadership position, and offers handy offline capabilities and walking directions, which sometimes include off-road footpaths as well. Not bad if you’re mostly in a built-up area, but once you’re in the sticks, you might be better off with more tailored alternatives. If you’re walking in London, check out Footways – a site showing a curated set of suggested “quiet” routes from A to B.

Apple pushes their alternative mapping software for Fruity device users, however if you follow a link to an Apple Maps location – eg https://maps.apple.com/?q=47.641944,-122.127222&t=k – and you’re not on an Apple device, it will send you to Google Maps instead. DuckDuckGo lets you view the map using another browser – eg https://duckduckgo.com/?q=47.641944%2C-122.127222&iaxm=maps – in case you feel like you’re missing out. [You’re not, btw]

If you’re planning a walk in the UK countryside, you’d do well to look at Ordnance Survey, a government funded department which publishes maps at varying scale and with key attributes highlighted. The organization dates back to the 18th century, set up to accurately map England in order to counter military incursions from troublesome neighbours. They still produce not-insignificantly-priced paper maps, however pinch-to-zoom is somewhat problematic on such offline media, so a mobile subscription based app with route planning, offline guidance and the like might be more fitting (and they have a 30% offer on annual subscriptions right now).

If you’re not inclined to subscribe, there is one alternative that’s useful when planning walks, even if you need to print the map out (or screen grab it to save the image to your phone): use Bing Maps.

Screenshot 2024-01-12 144611It’s easy to forget about Bing Maps (jump to bingmaps.com in a browser to get there quickly) since there’s no workable mobile solution, so most people will rely on the other main platforms. If you’re in the UK, however (and you set United Kingdom as your region in the hamburger menu on the top right) then you’ll be able to access Ordnance Survey mapping for free.

Look at the “Style” icon near the top right and you can choose road maps, satellite view and more, including Ordnance Survey. If you don’t see that option, you will need to play some more with your location settings. Zoom in or out until you get the right level, and you’ll see Explorer (slightly more detailed) and Landranger map views, showing key attractions with public footpaths marked.

Screenshot 2024-01-12 144928

Screenshot 2024-01-12 150614It’s brilliant. Right-click the map to use the measuring tool to draw your walk and calculate the distance. Screen-grab (WindowsKey+S) the section you want, and you could highlight your route from within the Snipping Tool before printing it out, nice and big and easy to read.


688 – This IS the End

The first Tip o’ the Week was sent on Friday 4th December 2009, starting life in response to the Microsoft annual employee survey, where team members could give feedback on how things are going. One common complaint was that tools they had to use – internal, mostly – were less than ideal, so a local task force was formed to decide on how best practices could be shared amongst a wider group of 50 or so people. “Why not a weekly newsletter?”

Quickly, ToW evolved into sharing productivity tips and news about (Microsoft, mainly) technology. Membership to the newsletter spread organically until thousands of people received it every week. The “Best Practice Tip o’ the Week” lost the “Best…” bit by #87, and at #100 became part of an internal Microsoft “Love it” project (and outlasted said project by some years). When it turned #300, ToW gained Bill Murray’s endorsement. Eventually, it went online and onto LinkedIn.

In all of this time, the fourth wall was rarely broken.

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No longer. This IS The End. This is the last ToW. It is time to rest.

ToW has never been about me, it’s always tried to find and share some hopefully useful tips and tricks, often aided by suggestions from readers or even a few who wrote up the sollution themselves, presented in an informal and somewhat irreverant format.

It is now over. It’s been a blast, mostly. Sometimes, more effort went into the side-eye links than the topic in hand.

The best ToWs? Well IMHO, they are (in no particular order):

clip_image003The most fun was probably 662 – How to make the perfect martini, for obvious reasons. One I use every day? 406 – A path! A path!, though now Copy as path is built-in to Windows Explorer on the right-click.

The emails might be finishing but keep an eye on Tip o’ the Week on LinkedIn as, one day, it might resume.

In the meantime, thank you all!

STOP.

648 – F’ing Home Networks

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The profusion of wireless devices – from PCs and phones, to all kinds of internet-of-stuff, has exploded in recent years.

IoT reached peak buzzword in 2014/5 and analysts predicted 200+ billion t’Ings would be internet-connected by 2020. Unsurprisingly, they were wrong by a factor of 5 or maybe 10.

Still, few people probably imagined they’d have dozens of electronic devices in their own home which connect themselves to the internet. Do you know how many things you have? Careful people might have a separate network isolated from the rest of their house just to host all their connected stuff, reducing the risk of attack from the unknown services that sit behind their internet-connected radiators, washing machines or home automation rigs.

clip_image003You probably have a lot of Wi-Fi enabled kit, using TCP/IP to connect through your home router. Do you really know how many there are? If you log onto your own router’s admin page, you can probably see everything that has been given a network address – maybe you’ll see the IP address assigned, and the unique MAC address which the device has presented to identify itself.

Figuring out what is what can be one of the minor annoyances that leads people to such crazy actions as not renaming their home router SSID or changing its default password.

clip_image005If you’re not all that interested in managing addresses on your home network, you may still want to peer into what is on it and why. Never mind joining your laptop to a guest network – what else is there, too?

A neat app called Fing has been listed in the Windows Store, which gives an analysis of your network, using a source database to tell you what other machines are there. The unique physical address that each device presents usually contains a reference to its manufacturer, and Fing has some logic to figure out which is what, so you’ll get a description for most or all of the devices, with unknown ones flagged as worthy of investigation.

You do need to sign up to use the app, but once you’ve done so, it will show an intersting view of your network. Some premium paid-for features in proactive security monitoring and in-depth reportingmay tempt you to spend a few montly £ to see what they could do for you.

clip_image007There are lots of other freemium tools in the Store which can help understand or even troubleshoot the network(s) you have at home – WiFi Analyzer, for example, will show you lists and graphs of all the wireless networks it can see in your vicinity.

515 – Whiteboarding Teams

clip_image002[1]Microsoft Teams continues to attract more fans, as Office 365 licensees deploy it and end-users embrace and enjoy Teams as another way to other communicate and collaborate. As part of a blog post in November, some best practices and references were shared, as was the widely-reported figure of 20m active users.

After a while, Teams becomes prevalent as a way of managing online meetings: handy, for example, when the usual seasonal rain in Seattle gives way to the odd bout of debilitating snow.

clip_image004[1]clip_image006[1]If you’re having meetings with Teams, there’s always the chance you’ll want to collaborate on a virtual whiteboard, something that was discussed a bit back in ToW #440.

Just go to the Share control within the meeting and scroll over to the right – past a list of PowerPoint files you have recently opened; yes, it is possible to display PPT content without sharing your whole desktop – and you’ll see Whiteboard as a category.

clip_image008[1]The Microsoft Whiteboard that is listed within is a simplified version of the main application; as used in Teams, you get less control and fewer pens etc. You could just start then share out the main Whiteboard application, but as it would be a single-user application being displayed, you wouldn’t have the same fidelity of multi-user interaction.

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It is possible, however, to open up the Whiteboard canvas associated with a Teams meeting, back in the separate Microsoft Whiteboard app. So, if you want to use the groovy tools like highlighter and ruler, start Whiteboard, then look in the gallery of existing whiteboards you’ve used.

One of them will be the Whiteboard from the meeting: open it up in the main app and you’ll also be able to interact in real-clip_image012[1]time, even if the meeting is still taking place with others contributing.

Whiteboard is available as a Windows app, an iOS app, and also as a web apphere – and the web app provides the same kind of slightly more basic functionality as the Teams version. Who knows, they might be related…?

There’s also an even-more-capable whiteboard app that needs you to sign up for a free account and provides a commensurate web experience – Freehand by InVision. The Teams app basically embeds the web UI of that app too, but it provides a wider choice of features (like holding ALT down to force your freehand shapes to snap to real ones, or press SHIFT to force a straight line even if drawn with a mouse or a pen) and some additional organisational control. It’s worth looking at both Freehand and the simpler Microsoft Whiteboard.

Tip o’ the Week 471 – Buying stuff at auction

clip_image002As the web turns 30 and its role in the End Of the World As We Know It starts to become more clear, it’s worth reflecting on how the technology has disrupted more traditional businesses, sometimes ironically turning them on their head before turning into them.

One literally dusty and old-school business that is reinventing its traditional method, is that of the auction house. As any Brit hooked on Bargain Hunt or Cash in the Attic might attest, the auctioneer will let any amount of old toot pass under their gavel on the basis that they’re making some commission from the seller and gathering a not-insubstantial buyer’s premium from the successful bidder, too.

ToW#359 covered auctions a while ago, and covered some strategies in making sure you get the best deal.

It seems that the auction market is growing, and not just in high value art or fancy motoring. If you go to the saleroom of a bricks & mortar auctioneer these days, there is likely to be at least as much bidding action coming in online as there is in the room, but it’s all dealt with in real-time by a real-life master of the hammer, even if at some places and times nobody knows what they’re actually saying.

So, as well as perusing the ‘Bay for used stuff to fill your abode, and looking on Gumtree / Craigslist for clutter that’s not only cheap but nearby, it’s worth searching on some sites who provide aggregation services to real auctioneers, listing their catalogues online and providing real-time online bidding too. For a small fee, of course. Examples include The Saleroom, EasyLiveAuctions, iBidder or Invaluable.

You may want to look for your quarry on any one – or all – of the platforms, find an item you like, have a look at the photos etc, then go straight to the auctioneer’s own website and make a commission bid. These are entered on your behalf by the auction house, supposedly only high enough to win the auction unless you’re outbid. In practice, if you put a commission bid of £200 for something because you can’t attend in person or be online live to watch & interact with the auction, then be prepared to secure the item for £200… plus maybe 28% buyers premium, and a hefty charge for post and packaging if you’re not nearby enough to collect in person. Still, you might save the 6% or so that an aggregator would charge on top.

In truth, buying most things at auction is a bad idea: there’s little to no legal protection and if the thing you’ve bought it a dud, then it’s on your head to fix it. Many bidders at auctions are dealers themselves, and they’ll have a canny eye for what to get and what to avoid – and their “good” stuff will end up in their antique shop, with a 100% mark-up, or it’ll be cursorily cleaned up and shoved on eBay.

You’d be better off finding the people directly with things to sell if you can, or ferret around in a charity shop; for some goods, like watches, there are free aggregators (the likes of WatchRecon or WatchPatrol) who scrape all of the private “for sale” ads and let you deal directly with the vendor, rather than going through a middleman like an auctioneer or eBay. For cars, there are both free and paid-for advert platforms (eg ClassicCarsForSale, PistonHeads) that make it easy to find either the dealer or private owner who’s selling up.

clip_image003Selling via auction doesn’t make too much sense a lot of the time, either – you’ll pay fees and you’ll be reliant on them bothering to describe and photograph your item properly, and put some effort into talking it up on the day.

Here’s an example of a consignment to an auctioneer – a box of books, with titles like “A Fortune in your Attic” or “Treasures in your Home”.

The box sold for £2.

So, if you’re buying cheap rubbish, then don’t think twice about which platform you use.

If you’re buying Paul Newmans, though, it could even be worth flying in and doing it in person.

Tip o’ the Week 435 – Symbols, reprised

clip_image002When the late purple paisley musician Prince restyled himself as a squiggle (or “Symbol”), nobody knew quite how to reference him or his work, so he was given the monicker “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince”. The new “Love Symbol” logo that represented his “name” was not a regular symbolic character, and after first trying to get everyone to download a special font file that had that character in it, eventually he relented and rebranded back to Prince again.

Working with special symbol characters was covered back in ToW #362; there are lots of less esoteric characters that are in regular use: but have you ever stopped to think how they came to be?

The Ampersand (&) has been around for 2,000 years, starting as a single character to join the letters e and t, ie the Latin for “and”. It’s a surprisingly common symbol, often used in company names and logos … but not universally loved by writers, or the odd legal secretary in days of dictation typing (the lawyer doing the dictation might record the company name as “Smith & co” since that’s the legal name, but more than one typist has produced the letter addressed to “Smith Ampersand co”…)

What about the @ symbol? Popularised by accountants and keepers of ledgers, the “Commercial At” (short for “at the rate of” – eg. meaning 10 units at the price of 1 shilling – 10@1s), was part of the relatively limited character set of a standard typewriter for over 100 years. It’s arguably called the Asperand though has many other names; contemporary usage has meant the symbol is either the key conjunction in an email address or the start of a digital invocation in the way of a mention.

The Asperand has nearly as many alternative names as the Octothorpe, though modern users wouldn’t necessarily think about the history of the symbol, even though it has variously been used to denote “number”, to be “pound” on your telephone keypad, or the “hash” symbol (a corruption of hatch, as in the hatching pattern) and hence, hashtag.

Tip o’ the Week 413 – Got Skills, they’re multiplying

clip_image002It’s not been a great time in the press for Cortana. The personal assistant software which appeared nearly 4 years ago on Windows Phone 8.1 and later Windows 10, has been eclipsed in the last year by hardware-based offerings from Amazon and Google. At gadget-fest show CES in Vegas this week, manufacturers were even showing Alexa on their PCs (presumably in exchange for $$ from the largest online retailer).

The personal assistant market (somewhat incorrectly referred to as “AI”s by the mass media) is being talked up as a new frontier, of voice control meeting smart language understanding and connectivity. Apple were first to the market in the public consciousness with Siri, but now that Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home devices have been very sucessful (the Echo Dot being Amazon’s top selling bit of kit over the holiday season), the idea that people would use a phone as the main way to voice-interact with online services seems a little less assured than it was a couple of years back.

Alexa has led the way with integrating Amazon’s device and service, with other devices and services – just as the app made the smartphone useful and pervasive, the “skill” support of your chosen digital assistant seems set to make or break that ecosystem. Amazon has talked up having over 25,000 skills for Alexa – really impressive, though like smartphone appstores, there are a lot of “fart app” equivalents in there, amongst the good stuff.

clip_image004Meanwhile, Cortana has been showing up on other hardware and building skills, both at a slower rate. The Haman Kardon Invoke speaker – fairly well received as a music device and Bluetooth speaker as much as a smart assistant – is on sale at $99. The beautiful-looking JCI GLAS smart thermostat, powered by Windows 10 IoT Core, is on the way too.

The Cortana skills kit promises to make it really easy for developers to add Cortana support for their apps and services, though Cortana Skills are still officially “in preview”. Alexa and Cortana may yet get friendly – though it hasn’t happened quite in the timescale envisaged.

Despite reports, Cortana is not dead, yet – there are device partnerships being announced and due to be announced. And the Cortana assistant is available on Android and iOS; Samsung S8 users could even remap the Bixby button with Cortana, though unofficially.


clip_image006Skills on Windows 10

If you’ve a PC with the latest OS, you can get Cortana by pressing WindowsKey+Q, or even WindowsKey+C (to go straight to Cortana’s voice input), or even by saying “Hey Cortana” (check in Settings, look for Cortana). If you’re in the US, then you may be able to access Cortana Skills straightaway – there’s no installation or association required (like you’d need to do with Alexa skills), though you might need to configure or authorize the skill on first run.

Check out the list of supported Skills, here – there are quite a few fillers (yet more guff apps) making up the modest 250-odd skills available, but there are some good ones there too – see the featured skills for example.

clip_image008If you’re in the rest of the world, though, you may be disappointed – Cortana Skills are US only for now. To have a play, go into the “Talk to Cortana” settings page, and at the very bottom, set the language to English (United States). You’ll need to wait a few minutes for your PC to install the appropriate language support, but soon, you’ll be able to ask Cortana – on your PC – things like, “Hey Cortana, ask Dark Sky for today’s forecast”.

For previous coverage of Cortana on ToW, see #380, et al.

Tip o’ the Week 410 – Inbox Zero for New Year?

ToW has covered various strategies in dealing with email (189, 223, 310 and more), but this week’s tip is shamelessly lifted from a LinkedIn article by an erstwhile colleague and media industry leviathan, Tony Henderson.

Tony, it turns out, authored a book a few years back which offered a slightly different-than-the-norm spin on productivity and how to deal with some of the difficulties of the modern workplace. It’s from this tome that he picked some great tips in handling your inbox – perhaps leading to the ability to clear it completely and leave “inbox zero”.

The Eleven Rules of Email

  1. Daily Mail Test – “Never write anything in an email that you would not be happy for your mother to read on the front page of the Daily Mail.”
  2. Responding – Don’t be too quick to respond to email requests – emails are very easy to send, and it is often hard and time consuming to respond.
  3. Expectations – Get people to call you if they want something urgently so that you know whether they are really serious and why they need a response.
  4. Inbox Management – Clear your inbox every day to less than 30 emails (so the list does not reach the bottom of outlook page). Set up folders covering each area you work on – or groups you deal with – and file religiously – even if you have not always read. That way you can go back and review by topic and avoid the stress of an overfull inbox.
  5. Getting Things Actioned – if you are sending an email looking for someone to act flag that action is required by putting ACTION REQUIRED in the title which will mean that everyone who the email is copied will read it.  To make it really clear who and what you are asking you must highlight specific requests e.g.: “Action: Alan to check this issue and confirm.” This approach works well with people you know, but may be ignored by people who you don’t – a good idea to get verbal agreement first.
  6. Getting Your Message Across – If you need to get an email response from senior people who are busy or don’t know you very well.                       
    • Construct your title carefully (perhaps write it as a proposition such as – “Getting final approval for Project X”).
    • Get the message over in three short and punchy paragraphs – no more.
    • If you want approval, ask for it by asking them to merely reply to that email and type “yes”. This works very well as it makes it so easy for them to respond!
    • Remember that people are all really pressured by email but generally always scan the title and first few lines.
  7. Avoiding Inevitable Email Accidents – the speed and simplicity of email will always lead to some mistakes; many of them can be rectified by adopting two simple principles.
    • Set a Delay – Set a sending delay of at least 2 minutes on your Outbox – it gives you just enough time to delete that accidental email. Better still you can set it for specific addresses such as clients.
    • Double Check Addresses – Double check your address lines in email before you send – Outlook auto insert often puts odd names in there.
  8. Arguments – Never, ever have an argument by email – everyone loses and it is recoded for posterity. If you sense a disagreement coming, make a call or organise a face to face meeting and then circulate the conclusions by email.
  9. Favourite Form of Communication – Email is not everyone’s favourite form of communication. Some people are better “live”, others like to use the phone, and others respond to formal letters or memos. Try and find out which form your key people like and use it for important communications.
  10. Circulation List – When you need to respond to an email with a wide circulation on it, you need to stop and think. Do I need to send this to everyone? Is this “thread” wasting a lot of people’s time? (You can be sure that it is).
  11. Interruptions – While internal emails can be a huge waste of time they can also avoid unnecessary interruptions. After you have interrupted someone at their desk it can take up to 30 minutes for them to get back to their original task.
    So while talk is best, email may be a useful method to log a question or thought. Equally making a note and saving it for a lunchtime chat is also a good option.

See Tony’s article here, and The Leopard in the Pinstripe Suit, here.

Tip o’ the Week 409 – Touchpad settings

clip_image002Once upon a time, mice had balls, and there was even a joke field service bulletin telling customers how to manage them better.

Microsoft has had a few funny KB articles over the years, too, though not necessarily intended to amuse. Barney sometimes plays on his own…, for example – who knew?

Given that a defining feature of mechanical meeces was the fact they had a rubbery ball inside, it seemed obvious to early laptop designers that a trackball would make sense to move the pointer around.

Eventually the touchpad took over, and divided opinion – some people just couldn’t live without a USB-tethered proper mouse, which they carted around with their laptop, while designers sought to add more and more functionality to the touchpad.

clip_image004A slew of 3 or even 4-finger gestures can change the behaviour of the machine, from switching between apps to controlling the system volume.

On a Windows 10 laptop, if you type touchpad at the start screen to find the settings that control it, you’ll see a load of clip_image006additional gestures have been added over time, depending on what capabilities your machine has (specifically, if it has a Precision Touchpad or not).

If you’re especially particular about how your touchpad works, you may wish to look into tuning it further through registry tweaks.