[EDIT: I wrote this with inline photos when I was off-line, but then deleted the photos from my camera roll later. Therefore the photos were deleted before I could post this and no longer available, leaving just the text.]
I just had my first experience of made.com, having arrived back in the UK after 6 years away, and so thought I’d share as a newcomer to the brand.
We ordered an Edelweiss Ash&White dining table, that looks strikingly stylish at a very good price of around £320 for the extending version. The middle panel has to be stored separately rather than be concealed under the table, but, for the price, can’t complain!
What I can complain about, however, is the engineering. Assembly involves bolting the legs on, and then fitting the clasps that lock the extension pieces together. You’re supplied the clasps and self-tapping screws, and there are pre-drilled marker holes.
The trouble is, those marker holes are very shallow – only half a mm. And the wood is very hard. In short, it’s impossible for the screw to actually get deep enough into the wood to self-tap and screw in. You have to drill a deeper hole first – since I didn’t have a drill, I used a very thin torx bit for my electric screwdriver.
The clasps themselves are even worse. The holes are too far apart by 2-3mm, such that the clasps can’t actually close fully. But, if you put a bit of effort into it and force them closed, they will close – by pulling and bending (actually un-bending) the metal hook of the clasp!
The hook before
Push real hard
Now it’s closed – but look at the hook now!
The thing is – if you do this, it does work! It’s horrible, but it works, making me wonder if it was deliberate.
Still, the table is sturdy and big enough for our young family, so for the price, I guess we can’t complain too much. (don’t get me started on the chairs!)
I did that thing you do a while back – buy some beans at a cafe, but not be convinced that I’ll get into single origin beans in a big way, so I bought the cheapest quality grinder I could – a Hario MSS-1B hand grinder. The idea was that if I found I was enjoying freshly ground beans (read: have time to actually bother enjoying them), then I’d buy an electric grinder.
That ‘thing you do’, is using it once, then putting it away, until, a few months later, I’m completely out of ground coffee, and find myself needing to use my beans and grinder to get a cuppa.
But one thing bothered me when I was using it: should I turn the handle at the speed that ‘feels like it’s doing the most grinding’, with the most resistance, or should I just turn it as fast as possible, even though it feels like it’s not doing as much work. I had theories about the beans not falling into the grinding stone gap as fully at max speed when compared to the highest resistance, etc.
Well, I did a quick test. I counted 40 beans into the grinder, and ran two grinds with each approach – coarse and medium. The results were pretty demonstrative:
At highest resistance: Coarse grind: 20s. Medium grind: 2min30s
At fastest speed (2-3x): Coarse grind: 15s. Medium grind: 50s
So, yeah, even though ‘as fast as you can’ doesn’t feel like it’s doing as much work, evidently that’s because of the lower resistance per rotation, but the number of rotations more than makes up for it.
So, grind like the wind.
Have you ever opened up your Elitebook after taking it from your bag, to find the screen rotated 90 degrees, and whatever you do with the configuration and settings, it keeps flipping back?
I had the same with mine, and went through all sorts of troubleshooting pains such as changing the default system display settings, changing the Intel driver settings, rebooting, and sometimes eventually disabled the display driver altogether. This is all in Windows 10.
I eventually discovered the root cause of the problem. The 9470m has an orientation sensor, even though it’s not a tablet/hybrid. This means that when I was putting it into sleep mode and slipping it into my bag, it was still running for a few seconds more and would detect the orientation change to ‘portrait’ (one side down) before it was fully asleep. Therefore, it would interpret me putting the laptop into my bag as “the user has rotated this tablet into portrait mode”, change the screen mode to 90′ or 270 orientation, and have it ready in that mode when I took it back out.
So – although I would try changing the orientation on the driver configuration, the orientation sensor would still report that the screen was on its side, and would flip back as soon as soon as I had closed the configuration panel! Of course, the laptop was sat flat on the desk, but this orientation is not detected as ‘upright / 0 degrees’, so it would flip it back to the last ‘severe’ orientation, usually 90′ or 270′. I suspect that the sensor is on the motherboard, and while in a tablet the motherboard would be in the screen section and so ‘horizontally up’, on the 2470m the motherboard is in the base, and so lying flat on the desk.
The solution is to tilt the entire laptop towards you so the keyboard is almost vertical (space bar towards the floor, number row towards the ceiling). The orientation sensor will detect this as ‘0 degrees’, and your screen will rotate back to horizontal.
Thanks HP, for this ‘feature’!
So, now that I’ve removed around 15,000 duplicate photos from my varying levels of overlap between backups of my photos, it was time to look to videos.
Googling “video deduplication” is actually much less productive than for “photo deduplication”; there’s very few reviews or results that come back. I ended up testing three products, and give some very quick results/benchmarks below.
39 dupes in 80 files
6 dupes in 80 files
Eu30 for 1500vids
41 dupes in 82 files
I ran all three on the same set of videos.
- Teemoon looked promising for free, but churned away for ages, and hardly found any duplicates at the end. I discounted that
- Duplicate Video Search did pretty well, and had some good options. However, it displays results in a series of rows, with little UI differentiation between the videos that are in groups, so makes it laborious to carefully work through a long list
- Video Comparer was the leader of the pack. It had the most efficient UI for reviewing many duplicates, and also some great features for more nuanced copies. It also picked up every dupe, whereas DVS missed one or two.
Video Comparer in use
Below I show a cropped screen capture of the results tab of VC 1.06.
There were two stand-out features in Video Comparer ahead of the other products:
- Colour banding of groups: Although still organised in rows, the pairs of duplicate videos were shown in different colour bands per group. This made it easier to quickly visually follow the duplicates, and select the one to delete
Match-banded timeline: If you look at the group of four ‘duplicates’ above, you can see the blue/grey bands on the right, before the keyframe display. This is awesome:
- The keyframe display shows you much more than a single thumbnail – it assures you that the videos are similar all the way through, and that one isn’t cut (eg. Half the length) in relation to the other
The timeline band completes that thought. It shows which parts of the video files matched. Here, you can see:
- lines 2 and 4 show the full file length in grey, and that part is coloured blue.
- That blue represents the part of that file that is contained in the files represented by lines 1 & 3
- Hence, you can see that lines 2 and 4 (the same file; same filename) represent the original video, and lines 1 and 3 represent a split of that video for the front and rear part
So, all from this view, I can understand:
- Which files contain which parts of the full unedited video
- Which I might want to keep, and which I might want to delete
- Reassurance that I can delete either the full-length video, or the two parts
It’s great, but at Eu30, it was expensive. I did buy it, because my challenge of comparing 4 copies of 15 years of home movies is a big one, and this tool will save me a heck of a lot of time in doing so.
For any of you looking for a tool to de-duplicate files or even images, I thought I’d write this quick post to make you aware of a hidden gem – FileMany.
Weird name? Yes, judging from the fonts in the tool, the author is Japanese, and perhaps doesn’t promote it in the English-speaking world as much as the big US names do. As such, I tried many before I tried this one, including many from the Likehacker Top list such as Duplicate File Finder, Auslogics Duplicate File Finder, and the reputed best for photos, VisiPics).
So, I wasn’t expecting much with FileMany, but when I did try it, I was blown away. It’s a little ugly, granted, but very functional.
Take a look at the configuration panel.
Now, lots of deduplicators will have many of the features, so let’s look at some of the stand-out ones:
- Select all dupes in a directory – if you have a secondary directory where you know there are a lot of duplicates, and you want to delete all dupes in that folder first, you can select to select/delete all within that directory. Having said that, it doesn’t do this hierarchically into its subdirectories too in one click, as Auslogics can.
- Hash-compare only the first few bytes – rather than read an entire file to generate a hash, it can read just the first KB. This makes it much faster to get a rough comparison, especially for very large files. If you are worried about hash collisions (getting the same result for two different files), you can use additional safeguards like requiring the same filename or filesize, just to get to the point where you can do a first pass to thin out the numbers.
- Store each pictures’ characteristics for future comparisons – this is gold! It takes so long to analyse pictures for comparison, that you don’t have to scan the entire lot every single time. Here, you don’t have to. ManyFile scans a picture once, analyses it, saves the analysis to a small file in the same directory, and then uses that for all comparisons. Hence if you subsequently compare to a different directory, or even change the ‘similar photo’ thresholds, it can reload the database files in seconds and compare the values, without having to re-scan the same files. For bulk or continuing dedupe jobs, it’s fantastic!
- Loads of scan filters, selection filters, wildcards, etc – just so many options. I haven’t found myself missing any function yet!
- Fast image side-by-side comparison – Visipics does this the same way, but just seems a bit slower. ManyFile also allows displaying the resolution and filename on the thumbnail so you can immediately spot the likely lower-quality dupe, whereas Visipics needs you to hover over each one to get the metadata.
- Lock files – if you want to protect files as original, there are many ways to do it – folder, filter, etc.
When you run it, you get this progress bar
Because the image analytics was already cached, that run took three seconds for 6,000 files with a different similarly setting!
This is the screen for selecting the duplicates to delete once found:
Lots of dupes
As you can see, there are all sorts of options for filtering those to be deleted:
- Name contains
- Size above/below
- In/out of folder
- Path name is longer/shorter
- File size larger/smaller
- Resolution larger/smaller
You can even do things like re-timestamp the surviving files with the stamp of the deleted duplicate – such as if you edited the thumbnail and wanted it transferred back!
It’s an incredible app. And it’s free.
I love OneNote.
I love the fact I can write a stream of consciousness during meetings; I can add ToDo boxes, ToDo actions, meeting details from Outlook, and so much more. Although we all wish we were super-organised before and after every meeting, the fact is we’re not, and OneNote is there to take whatever I throw at it and make it instantly searchable and accessible everywhere.
And I love mindmaps.
I love the fact that you can visualise a hierarchy of ideas, or an org chart, and rearrange it dynamically. I love the fact that you can use it simultaneously as an organisational tool, and a presentation dashboard of your project.
And so, I hate the fact that there’s no mindmap in Onenote. That I can’t get the best of both worlds. Until now…..?
OneNote Gem appears to be a small company that produces productivity add-ons for OneNote. I’m aware of the other major player, Onetastic, which is a one-man band in the form of Omer Atay, who now works for Microsoft directly. I use his excellent OneCalendar and a few of his OneNote macros, and they’re all excellent. OneNote Gem, I was less familiar with, but I really, really wanted that mindmap, so I bit the bullet and bought it.
In short? Not good. Avoid.
For a start, the company seems dodgy-as! The installer itself triggers a virus warning on Virus Total, saying that 1/37 of the virus scanners identified it as a Trojan. Granted, that’s probably a false positive, but it leaves a sense of unease. The author stated that it was an artefact of the licensing engine that he can’t change that triggers a false positive, but it would be the kind of thing you’d want to fix.
Added to this is that while the company is based in, or linked to, China, the author’s name is Anglophone – “James Linton”, but he writes emails as if his native language is not English. It feels like a pseudonym, which with the ‘false’ Trojan malware warning, leaves me feeling uncomfortable. Despite the website and domain, he uses an MS Live email address, from which every email I sent was replied to immediately. Within a minute. Excellent service? But also a bit creepy.
There’s no trial for the app – you download, install, and have to pay USD20 / AUD29 to get the key to run it. For one-man productivity apps, this is a reasonable price for a suite of functionality like Onetastic, but James Linton charges prices like this for each module – you can pay USD 95 with discounts for a package of six modules from the set, and that’s a big leap of faith for something you’ve not even tried yet. He also charges for each version of the software – so you buy one of the Office 2010/2013/2016 versions for each module, but it seems you must pay again if you buy an alternate version,say, if you upgraded Office.
And that brings me to the product itself. It sucks.
Lines and Boxes
The fact it, it seems that you can’t work magic with OneNote. It can only draw boxes, lines, ‘ink’, and insert images… and if you’re going to try to create a mindmap, you need to do it with boxes, lines, etc. Therefore, it becomes apparent all too quickly that Mind Map for Onenote behaves like some kind of macro language, creating one-cell tables and connecting lines whenever you add a node.
However, that’s about it. If you try dragging a node, then the line stays where it is – it doesn’t move with the node, at least not there and then. If you add sub-branches to two adjacent branches, the sub-branches and nodes can end up overlapping each other. If you try deleting a branch’s line, it actually turns out to be a series of three lines drawn individually to look like one, and you only delete one of them at a time.
It’s not all bad – there is a ‘Refresh’ button. Evidently, MMfO does track which nodes are connected together, and if you make some edits such as deleting nodes and then click ‘Refresh’, it will remove any orphaned nodes, redraw the connecting lines, and try to tidy things up a bit. It won’t move nodes or detect overlapping/crossing nodes, however.
The toolbar appears rich with functionality. However, many of these are layout / alignment tools trying to provide some of the functionality that should be automatic in a mindmapping tool. For example, the ‘move’ arrows allow you to move the mindmap as a whole around the page without completely messing up the entire layout, as you would if you tried to shift-select-drag it.
The problem with all this is that mindmaps are supposed to be aids to productivity, by creating this infinitely scalable space that automatically re-organises as you move nodes, or thoughts, around – allowing you to brainstorm or organise without having to worry about managing the layout.
In contrast to this, Mind Map for Onenote requires intense micro-managing to create a readable layout. It has no automatic re-organising, a very basic layout, no node collapsing/expansion. It’s effectly no more than a very basic hierarchical layout designer, much like a hierarchy SmartArt in Powerpoint, but less dynamic and flexible.
And, to be honest, that’s where you should go. If you need to display hierarchies in OneNote, do it in Powerpoint and insert it as a file and image. If you need to use Mindmaps in Onenote – use something like Xmind or Freemind, and attach the file and a GIF export in the note.
I was hoping that this would be the app to merge these two incredible productivity tools into one, but sadly, that’s not the case.
OK, I’ve learnt this the hard way.
If you’re downloading Picturelife RAW files from Smugmug, while Down Em All seems the most efficient way to do this, you may find that your download times out.
Downloading multiple files simultaneously with down ’em all
This is because the URL for the file is created dynamically with a session key in the URL. Once the session times out – around two hours – then the URL is no longer valid. That means that of the 1200 RAW and AVI files I’ve queued to download, I may download 50-60 before the session times out and all the remaining files fail to download, as their URL is no longer valid.
What this means, is that I have to go back to the download page – logging back in to Smugmug first., otherwise that page is empty – re-open down ’em all, and then manually locate where it left off in the long list of files. That takes a while, but once done, I can Shift-select everything from the last file on, and continue.
So – what can you do better? Well – sort the list alphabetically by the description before you start the entire process. This means that when you have to go back and start again, you can at least find where you left off easily, by working by alphabetical/alphanumeric order.
Wrong – sorted by order in the download page
Right! – sorted by alphabetical file name