Windows 11 Broken Notifications

Updated on Saturday, December 4, 2021


I'm lucky enough to have the right sort of TPM so Windows 11 installed smoothly on my laptop through Windows Update. It's got some nice fit and finish improvements and round corners and generally seems well put together. Except for anything I actually use and care about on a regular basis.

It is still impossible to get rid of notifications with one click. This has actually regressed from Windows 10 as we're back to a little x to dismiss which actually sends the notification off to the action center for when you have some spare time to dismiss it a second time. Microsoft, spend less time on focus assist and more time on this!

The taskbar wants your icons in the center. If I wanted a Mac I would have bought one. Luckily there is a setting to move them back to the left. But one thing you can't do is have small taskbar icons. There is a registry hack, but it breaks the system icons so until that's fixed the main impact of Windows 11 for me is missing out on about one row of a spreadsheet. I would like those pixels back!

Maybe the start menu is better, but I stopped using that with Windows 10 and now just pin apps or search for them so I'd never know.

(Previously: I just want to get rid of Windows 10 Notifications with one click)

Updated 2021-12-04 10:35:

A few weeks into my Windows 11 adventure and I think they handed this one off to the designers and forgot the adult supervision.

Alt-Tab you have one job and it's switching between applications. Why then is the selection now indicated by a hair thin black border? It's pretty, but I now have to squint to figure out where I'm going.

Worse still you can no longer drag and drop to the taskbar. I don't do this every day, but it's a big time saver when I need it. Now I have to go through a re-org of windows to drag things between them.

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New Podcast Business Model: Less Content

Peak Podcast

I have been listening to podcasts for over 20 years.

That shouldn't be possible as the format only really started in 2003. In late 2000 I was commuting from San Francisco to Sunnyvale and wanted to listen to Radio 4 while driving. I cobbled together a solution that involved some dodgy software that saved a RealPlayer stream to MP3, one of the first (pre-iPod) hard drive MP3 players and a headphone jack to FM dongle. I'm pretty sure I was the only person listening to the Today Program on I280 back then.

These days it's Podkicker Pro and Bluetooth and my problem is too many podcasts. For some reason I can't sit down and listen to a podcast. I'll immediately start reading some news or doing something else. The only times I can listen are while I'm occupied with something else - cooking, walking, commuting (and I haven't been doing much commuting recently).

I can't be alone in this but for some reason most podcasts are monetizing with extra content. Pay $5/month on substack and get the extra subscriber episodes or extended interviews or something extra. What I actually want to pay for is less content. Give away the three hour meandering version and charge for a tightly edited hour. Please.

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Did anyone tell Material Design about Gesture Navigation?

Did anyone tell Material Design about Gesture Navigation?

The screen shot above is from Google Fit. Which icon is active? I can't tell any more. Is it the blue one or the underlined one which is a much stronger cue?

Of course none of the icons are underlined. This is a bottom navigation bar on top of the Android navigation bar on Android 10 with gesture navigation enabled. My brain knows this but my finger still tries to click on Home. Journal just looks so much more active I can't help it. This friction is also in Google Photos and Google Maps and presumably Google everything before too long.

Maybe the Google app developers don't have access to recent Pixels, or maybe the Material Design team all have iPhones?

(Previously: Material Design 3)

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Do you want me to use Edge, Microsoft?

Updated on Saturday, May 22, 2021

Do you want me to use Edge, Microsoft?

If you're going to ask for something be direct, don't beat around the bush.

So I'm confused, Microsoft. Do you want me to use Edge? After installing updates Edge wants to 'Get started', on a nice modal with no cancel button or even any little x to close it. Must be some mistake right, not quite ready for prime time if they forgot the 'Don't get started' button. Maybe I'll try it when the kinks are worked out.

Ah, right clicking the icon and choosing close would work, right? Nope. Feels more and more like malware.

You can kill it from task manager so at least someone was paying some attention to usability.

Don't I remember some settlement with the DOJ after an antitrust judgement for forcing browsers on someone? That was a while back, must be remembering a different company.

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Google search-for-your-own-verified-sites Console

Google Search Console

I don't know about you, but when it comes to Google Search Console I spend about 0.01% of the time adding sites and 99.99% analyzing existing ones. And yet when signing into Search Console with many verified sites the interface is ALL about adding a new one. Maybe 10% of the UX would be reasonable but it looks for all the world like I have nothing added.

To get to my sites I need to click the hamburger. Come on Google, being mobile first doesn't have to mean being desktop hostile.

Clicking the hamburger isn't even enough. This just brings up a practically blank sidebar. I then need to expand the 'Search property' drop down. Finally I get a needlessly scrolling list of my sites.

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Firmware update warning

"Please be careful not to update while in riding on vehicles, such as trains, or in environments where 2.4 GHz band radio waves such as Wi-Fi, microwave ovens, cordless phones and many other radio waves are intermingled."

It looks like I need to travel to the United States National Radio Quiet Zone in West Virginia to update the firmware in my headphones, and I don't think that's on the cards for several months so I hope the update isn't important.

Nice touch that they gave an example of a vehicle though, that really helps.

Maybe use a checksum Sony?

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Please fix phone spam Google!

95% of my incoming calls are now spam. Most of them are some strange pre-recorded Chinese voice with music playing in the background but I occasionally get a free hotel stay as well.

So far Google has rolled out Call Screen. This means I can waste my time watching Google Assistant talk to the spammer. It's way faster not to bother, hang up all calls and delete the voicemails later.

It seems like instead of Call Screen there could be a better way to deal with this.

Firstly, send any call not from someone in my contacts directly to voice mail. This would actually solve a lot of the problem.

Next, for extra credit, run spam detection on the voice mail before sending it to me. If it's two seconds long and blank then just bin it. If it's Chinese with music bin it. Only if it passes the smell test should it appear in my actual voice mail. Google is very good at this for Gmail.


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Facebook Interoperability

Updated on Friday, May 22, 2020

In TechCrunch today Josh Constine gets friend portability for Facebook almost right:

"In other words, the government should pass regulations forcing Facebook to let you export your friend list to other social networks in a privacy-safe way. This would allow you to connect with or follow those people elsewhere so you could leave Facebook without losing touch with your friends. The increased threat of people ditching Facebook for competitors would create a much stronger incentive to protect users and society."

The problem is having a list of friends does me no good at all when none of them are on Google Plus, Diaspora or whatever.

What we need is legislation that forces interoperability. I can share with my friends via an open protocol, and Facebook is forced to both send and receive posts from other networks. This would actually create an opportunity for plausible competition in a way that a friend export could never do. Social networking should work like email, not CompuServe.

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Material Design 3

Updated on Friday, May 22, 2020

Material Design 3

Material Design brought bland consistency to the Android ecosystem. Every app had some sort of bold header and a floating action button. There is some value in consistency and at least some personality was retained. It's red, it's probably Gmail. Yellow, I must be in Keep. Boring but tolerable.

Material Design 2 solves mainly for the problem of knowing which app you're looking at. Colors have gone. Every Google app is now an oppressive black list with some oppressive black icons. To add to the misery the icons have a shade of stock-library amateurism and are just a little too heavy. Unless I look really closely or the what-icon-did-I-just-click region of my brain is on top form there is no longer any way to tell the difference between Google apps.

I'm pretty sure Material Design 3 is just going to be a command prompt. What Android customers really want is telnet or wget and some raw JSON.

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Amazon Alexa Echo Wall Clock Review

Alexa Echo Wall Clock

It has one job and it's not great at it.

I've been itching to replace my kitchen clock. I stupidly bought a self-setting atomic clock and the instructions said (this was a few years ago so I'm paraphrasing) 'Install as high up as possible on a southern facing exterior wall - ignoring these instructions may interfere with reception of the time signal.' Of course when used in my kitchen it has no idea what the time is. Due to the fancy mechanism it's extremely painful to set the time manually - you push a tiny button and try to stay awake while the hands move round and ultimately overshoot. Repeat.

It really should be illegal to sell things that tell you the time without some self-setting mechanism that works. Would it be hard to encode this in the electricity mains supply for instance? Or acquire via wifi or bluetooth? Every time I get in my car it connects to my phone but the car clock is clearly some cheap crystal that drifts daily and has no idea about daylight savings.

So the Echo Wall Clock is appealing because it should keep the right time without effort in addition to it's main role - visualizing Alexa timers. It's a stripped down implementation of the smart Glance clock but $170 cheaper at $30. It looks like most of those savings went to finding the cheapest possible plastic body. The Echo Clock also skips a face plate, which is a risk as if you touch the hands it will die.

Pairing is easy (via bluetooth) and it does manage to keep the right time. It's a decent if unattractive clock.

The timer function has taken the easy way out. If you set a five minute timer it lights up the minute marks from 12 up and then counts down. On a clock that knows what the current time is. This means that if you want to figure out when something is ready you're going to have to think. You need to look at the lit segments to see how long is left on the timer, and then add this on to the current position of the minute hand. I don't think anyone is buying a $30 timer visualizer to do minute-math. It would be a much better device if it just added the timer onto the current location of the minute hand, which is so obvious that this is what I expected to happen the first time I used it.

Overall it's cheap, cheap looking and flawed. But still a huge improvement on my kitchen's atomic age.

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