Is a touchscreen useful on a laptop? Surprisingly, yes!

Once upon a time, mice didn’t have scroll wheels. (Scary to think how long ago that is!) Then there was a confusing time when some mice had those wheels. Soon after, only a few didn’t. And that’s when many people had that disappointing experience of trying to scroll using a mouse that couldn’t.

If you don’t know that feeling of confusion followed by irritation and then sadness, now’s your chance to relive it!

We live in a time where wheelmice are disappearing again. They are now being usurped by touchscreens. I used to think that putting a touchscreen on a laptop is nonsense: it already has a keyboard, touchpad, trackpoint, and commonly a USB mouse as well. Today’s post is my admission that I am mistaken – a touchscreen on a laptop is remarkably useful!

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From one Galaxy to another

Those who know me well will know that I am picky with technology, and I felt that my trusty old Samsung Galaxy S6 was doing a great job. If it works, don’t fix it! But, at long last, the battery is worn out and won’t last even half a day. This put me in a position where I had to do something: spend money to have the phone serviced (to install a replacement battery that is presumably also 5 years old), or buy a new phone.

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Don’t get fooled: Phishing was yesterday, here comes smishing!

Summary: This scam tries to trick you into filling a form with your payment information which signs you up to a subscription that costs, in this case, €40 per month!

The other day I received a text message that led to a phishing scam. I didn’t fall for the scam but I thought it would have convinced many people that I know, so I decided to publish this as a general warning and reminder to everyone to stay vigilant.

In these modern times I often order stuff online, and the attackers use this trend to catch people unawares. This attack started out in a fairly believable manner: a notification that a package has been held up in the distribution central.

Undeliverable package! Status: your package has been held up in the distribution central. Track your package: [short link]

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How large is the broad side of a barn, anyway?

Of course you know the idiom “can’t hit the broad side of a barn” of someone who has poor aim. That’s from 1852.

But how large is the broad side of a barn, anyway? Would you be surprised to learn that scientists have actually worked that out? And why do I know this??

Some time ago, I was trying to find a way to remember my license plate that ends with the letters “FB”. I don’t like a particular social media site so I was googling for other things that use those letters and discovered that it is also a unit of measurement used in particle physics: fb means femtobarn. I immediately chose that as my mnemonic simply because of its nerdy obscurity.

What I want to share here is its ridiculous back story: what the hell is a femtobarn?! Continue reading

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Achievement unlocked: maintain “inbox zero” for a year

“Inbox zero” means having no messages in your “IN” tray (and keeping it that way). This is not meant to be a goal in itself, but it’s a clear sign of whether you’re staying on top of things, and it lowers the general stress level. That’s remarkably easy with Outlook, even without any fancy add-on gimmicks.

Without trying very hard, I have managed to keep my email inbox at work at zero every day. It’s not because I don’t get any mail – it’s because Outlook makes it so easy to track open tasks with one or two clicks, even when the email itself is moved to a subfolder.

It’s easy enough to clear out the inbox – just dump everything into a subfolder, or just straight up archive or delete it. Gone. Done. See? Yay!

Not so fast – the real challenge is the “keeping it that way” part. Since I joined SDS last year I have enjoyed getting back to using Outlook again instead of Lotus Notes for almost two decades straight, ugh! I am frankly amazed at myself because with Outlook I have finally been able to maintain “inbox zero” all this time. I feel it’s worth sharing my method in the following. Continue reading

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