I Thought He Came With You is Robert Ellison’s blog about software, marketing, politics, photography and time lapse.

Catfood Earth 3.46

Improved clouds in Catfood Earth

Catfood Earth 3.46 is now available for download. Catfood Earth for Android 1.70 is available in the Google Play Store and will update automatically if you already have it installed.

This follows hot on the heels of the last release as the new clouds layer service running on this blog can update far more frequently than the source used prior to 3.45. You will now get a fresh helping of clouds every hour! Unrelated to this release I've improved the quality of the clouds image as well. If you're interested you can read about this in exhaustive detail here.

Catfood Earth 3.45

New cloud layer image in Catfood Earth

Catfood Earth 3.45 is now available to download. Catfood Earth for Android 1.60 is available on Google Play and will update automatically if you have it installed.

I only just released 3.44 with some timezone updates but in the past week the location I had been using for global cloud cover abruptly shut down. If you like up to date clouds you'll want to install the new versions as soon as possible. With this update I'm building a cloud image every three hours and serving through this blog (and thankfully CloudFlare) so any further changes should not require a code release.

Catfood Earth 3.44

Updated timezones in Catfood Earth 3.44

Catfood Earth 3.44 is now available to download.

The timezone database has been updated to 2018i.

Eric Muller's shapefile map of timezones is no longer maintained and so Catfood Earth has switched to Evan Siroky's timezone boundary builder version.

A bug that could cause all volcanoes to be plotted at 0,0 depending on your system locale has been fixed.

Download Catfood Earth.

(Previously)

Catfood Earth 3.43

North Korea moves back to UTC +09 on May 5, 2018

Catfood Earth 3.43 updates the timezone database to 2018e. The big change is that North Korea is moving back to UTC +09 today (May 5, 2018). The time zones layer in Catfood Earth shows the current time in each zone at the top of your screen and color codes each country and region. You can also display a list of specific places (either an included list of major cities or your own custom locations).

Catfood Earth is dynamic desktop wallpaper for Windows that includes day and night time satellite imagery, the terminator between daytime and nighttime, global cloud cover, time zones, political borders, places, earthquakes, volcanoes and weather radar. You can choose which layers to display an how often the wallpaper updates.

Download Catfood Earth.

(Previously, Previously)

I just want to get rid of Windows 10 Notifications with one click

Updated on Thursday, May 3, 2018

I just want to get rid of Windows 10 Notifications with one click

910 days ago I vented my frustration at Windows 10 notifications.

Well someone in Redmond must be listening. They 'fixed' it.

The problem was that dismissing a notification did not actually get rid of it. Clicking the little x in the corner just sent it to the Action Center where you could enjoy reading it and dismissing it again.

Like some kind of cargo cult Toyota, Microsoft asked the one why, and changed the little x to an arrow. Now it's more obvious that you're just shuffling the notification around the desktop. Ticket closed. But I still have to handle every fucking notification twice.

Which makes the announcement of the April 2018 Update especially ironic:

"With this update, available as a free download today, you get new experiences that help minimize distractions and make the most of every moment by saving you time. Our hope is that you’ll have more time to do what matters most to you whether that’s to create, play, work, or simply do what you love."

I'm guessing they're all on Macs?

Catfood Earth 3.42

Updated on Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Catfood Earth 3.42

Catfood Earth 3.42 is a small update to the latest (2016d) timezone database and the latest timezone world and countries maps from Eric Muller. If you use the political borders, places or time zones layers in Catfood Earth then you'll want to install this version.

Download the latest Catfood Earth.

(Previously)

Catfood Earth 3.41

Updated on Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Catfood Earth 3.41

Catfood Earth 3.41 fixes a problem that was preventing the weather radar layer from loading.

I've also updated to the latest (2015g) time zone database and the latest time zone map from Eric Muller.

Download the latest Catfood Earth.

(Previously)

Updates were installed...

Updated on Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Microsoft you are literally killing me. Please tell me there is a reason.

Windows 10 has had a reorg of notifications. People in Redmond have spent quality time thinking about how and when to bother me. User experiences have been imagined, focus grouped, re-imagined, tested, pushed out to beta, revised, polished and finally shipped in a heaping turd of time wasting.

After one of the never ending reboots following some critical update or other I get a nice popup to let me know that updates were installed:

Updates were installed...

I'm not sure this is the most important news I'll read all day but fine, thank you and I click the little x to dismiss.

Windows at this point knows that it's told me about the updates, and it knows that I've seen the message because I took the time to actively dismiss it.

So why is this now in the Action Center:

Updates were installed...

I have to acknowledge my latest helping of updates all over again. It's the sort of double confirmation I'd really value before inadvertently nuking Belgium but for pretty much anything I've ever seen in Action Center it's overkill. It's causing the most anger I've had with an Operating System since I had to Google how to shut down Windows 8.

Windows 10 is on 110 million devices. Assuming a reboot a week and three seconds per device spent dismissing the extra message we're looking at a cost of $28 million a year (at US GDP). Microsoft has said it expects a billion Windows 10 devices in 2-3 years. Even at global average GDP that's $64 million down the drain.

It's not a quirky design decision, it's a class action lawsuit waiting to happen.

Smart people must have spent time on this. Please tell me why?

Catfood Earth 3.40

Updated on Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Catfood Earth 3.40

I've just released Catfood Earth 3.40 for Windows and 1.50 for Android.

Both updates fix a problem with the clouds layer not updating. The Android update also adds compatibility for Android 5 / Lollipop.

Also, Catfood Earth for Android is now free. I had been charging $0.99 for the Android version but I've reached the conclusion that I'm never going to retire based on this (or even buy more than a couple of beers) so it's not worth the hassle. Catfood Earth for Windows has been free since 3.20.

Enjoy!

Going Chrome

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Going Chrome

I came to Chrome OS by a circuitous route. Initially I though a browser in a box was a silly, under-powered toy. But then I needed a meeting machine for work.

To start with I decided to use an old Macbook. It was running OSX 10.5 (Leopard) which is a bit out of date so I thought I'd update it to the latest 10.8 (Mountain Lion) goodness. But this turned out to be impossible to do from my desk. Before I could go to 10.8 I'd have to get physical media for 10.6 (Snow Leopard) and patch it up to the point where it would accept an upgrade. This meant shipping a disc or visiting an Apple Store and getting smarmed at. Unacceptable.

So I decided to ditch OSX and install Windows 8. This was a cheap online purchase and a painless install... but Windows 8 is a disaster on a non-touch device. Everything takes an extra few clicks or a half-mile scroll to the right. 

Live tiles seem like a good idea until you realize that you're not looking at the start screen often enough for them to be of any value. If Microsoft had introduced a permanent ticker at the bottom of the screen or a secondary tile screen on all Windows 8 certified devices life could have been more interesting. 

Removing the start button so you have to go into touch and swipe mode to do anything is a pain. A boot to desktop mode would be great for older devices.

The deal breaker though is the increasingly assertive Windows Update. Twice in meetings it decided to reboot the computer. It used to be you could delay updates for hours but Windows 8 just knows that the latest patch is more important that whatever you happen to be working on and cheerfully pulls the plug. 

Admittedly you can figure out how to find the vestigial, non-Windows 8 config for Windows 8 and go to manual mode. And then figure out how to turn off the nagging for not having the recommended Windows Update setting. But but by this point you realize that you've got a operating system that is about updates first and getting work done second. And Windows 8 Windows Update doesn't even update Windows Store apps so you've got a live tile nagging for updates every five seconds as well. 

On top on the Windows 8 horror the Macbook was old, heavy and had a puny battery. Also, after installing Windows 8 the only software I needed to install was Chrome and the office VPN client. Once this sunk in I ordered the new Samsung Chromebook.  

Setup on the Chromebook is: 1. Login to your Google Account (with support for two-factor authentication), 2. Choose a wallpaper (optional). 

I'm not likely to use a Chromebook as my primary machine any time soon. It is however a meeting powerhouse for email, IMs, calendar and note taking. I replaced Skype with imo.im (which I've used on Android for a while). Full Outlook web access took a bit of head scratching - see this post for details. Google Apps and Hangouts work seamlessly as you'd expect. It's light and the battery lasts all day.

The only niggle so far is that Chrome OS doesn't support the flavor of VPN that my company uses. It would be nice to get to the wiki, but it's not a deal breaker (If you have a Cisco VPN that insists on a group name go vote for this bug). 

Microsoft and Apple should be really rather worried.

Updated 2013-07-17 13:54:

Two quick updates.

Providing a group name to use with Cisco VPN devices was added in Chrome 28. Unfortunately it still doesn't work for me. I've filed issue 261241 on the chromium bug tracker for this - you can star this issue if you have the same problem.

Skype has managed to block Imo.im so that no longer works for Skype on a Chromebook. I'm using IM+ for now, but it's not nearly as good - it doesn't remember passwords and it keeps silently losing connectivity so it's easy to miss chats.

(Read the full Chromebook adventure: Part 1: Going Chrome, Part 2: Staying Chrome? and Part 3: Leaving Chrome)