Computer Tips

Tweaks to Windows 8: Part 1

There are several things in Windows 8 that are clearly not meant for people using this OS for business or science. So this is a list (updated as necessary) of the tweaks I’ve found necessary to be as productive in 8 as I was in 7.

First, if you right-click the start screen icon on the taskbar, you can get to some of the things that used to be in the start menu: control panel, shut down, etc.


1a)The default search only finds files if they’re in libraries, which I don’t use. So select Indexing Options in the Control Panel, click the Modify button and add additional drives and folders that you want to be searchable.
1b) I also don’t want to search the web from the search pane, just my computer! Disable the online component via the Settings charm > Change PC settings > Search.
1c) Want to search from the desktop rather than going to the start screen? Keyboard shortcut [Windows) + S opens a search bar.

2) Booting. I almost never use the tablet-friendly app versions of programs… it’s a laptop and I want my desktop! So:
2a) right-click on the desktop taskbar, choose Properties and then open up the Navigation tab — tick the top option under the Start screen heading to “boot to the desktop”.

3) Touch-screen vs. trackpad. I’m excited to figure out how the touchscreen can enhance my efficiency, however some features are just plain ridiculous if you have a keyboard/trackpad. So here are some tweaks:

3a) Turn off hot corners. Right-click the desktop taskbar, choose Properties and then open the Navigation tab. Under the Corner navigation heading, you can disable the top left (open apps) and top right (Windows charms) corners.
3b) Turn off the feature where mousing from the right opens the charms bar. On lots of systems, this will be in control panel under your mouse options. However, my Asus has some crazy third-party software that I haven’t figured out yet.

4) Backing up. After all this effort, I definitely want to make a system image so it’s easy to restore if my HD fails. Launch the desktop Control Panel, then choose System and Security > File History window and the System Image Backup option is down in the lower left-hand corner.

5) Keyboard shortcuts. I absolutely hate having to hover in a corner to open the side charms bar. Nothing as annoying as a) having to pause, and b) having it open by accident when you’re working in a program and mouse over there. So
5a) Disable hot zone for charms
5b) Settings Charm: [win] + [ i ]
Charm Bar: [win] + [ c ]
Desktop: [win] + [ d ]

[win] + [down arrow] closes an App

6) Fuzzy programs
Several programs aren’t optimized for high-resolution computer monitors yet, like Google Chrome, Office 2010, ArcGIS, etc.  To remove the fuzziness, right click on the icon to open the program, and go to properties.  Under “compatibility” check the box for “disable display scaling on high dpi settings”. Hopefully new versions of these programs won’t have the same problems.

For full info, here are some of the sites I got this info from:

Citation language sorting problem: solved!

I’ve been having a lot of difficulty with the various citation management software packages based on the CSL language, as none has a built-in style that aligns with how we’ve always formatted our citations, particularly the sort order.

From my understanding, what we want for citations by the same first author:
– single author pubs in chronological order (oldest first)
– multi-author pubs in chronological order (oldest first)

This morning I finally did the research to come up with a solution that appears to work!

This should sort all papers by their first author. Then within that, it sorts between single-author and multi-author papers. Within each of those categories it searches by year

Method 1: via a direct CSL code editor

In the macro section, add the following macro:

<macro name=”Author-count”>

<names variable=”author”>

<name form=”count” et-al-min=”3″ et-al-use-first=”2″/>



Then, in the <bibliography> section, specify your sort as:


<key macro=”author-short” names-min=”2″ names-use-first=”1″/>

<key macro=”Author-count”/>

<key macro=”year”/>


Method 2: via

1) add a new macro

– named author-count

– add an element for names

– add an element to names for variable ‘name’

– under “form” select “count”

– under “et-al-min” select “3”

– under “et-al-use-first” select “2”

2) under sort, first use a macro for “author-short”

– specify “names-min” as “2”

– specify “et-al-use-first as “1”

3) under sort, then add a macro for “author-count”

– leave all options blank (default)

4) under sort, add a 3rd macro for “year”

– leave all options blank (default)

Setup tips for Windows 7

If you’re like me, you often don’t agree with what Microsoft thinks are useful features. Here’s a short compilation of the steps I take when dealing with a fresh Windows 7 install, which I’ll update as I apply them to my newest install.

1) Turn off automatic docking

DockingI find nothing more annoying than my computer assuming I want one thing while I try to do another.  It’s easy to turn off, but hard to find.

Go to the Ease of Access Center, make the mouse easier to use, and check the box to prevent docking.

2) Make explorer window only show useful shortcuts on the left.

I only use the “Favorites” and “Computer” groups, so I hide the others (network and libraries).

It requires registry entry changes (right click first to give yourself permission to edit):

change b080010d to b090010d

change b0040064 to b0940064

Full link to LifeHacker post.

Computer tip – minus signs in text

I know this is barely a craft, but I had to record it somewhere before I forget (since editing the ‘tips’ section of my website is too difficult… must remedy this in the future).

I was getting incredibly sick of Word putting the line break in the middle of my exponents. For example:

… rates of 3.0 kmol N d−
1 and other…

So I learned about the “non-breaking” dash/minus sign, unicode character 2212.  To insert it, type 2212, then press alt+x to replace the 2212 with the symbol.  I then ctrl-h’ed to replace all of them.

Powerpoint slide solution

One of my peeves with Powerpoint has always been that when you insert a new slide into your presentation, you can’t change the default format… it always shows up with the dumb boxes for the title and content that then need to be deleted so I can add real content.

I found a solution online today (thank goodness for nerds and the internet)

This page has an add-in for powerpoint that adds a drop-down to let you set this option.