Wednesday 22 October 2014

Windows 8 and Windows 8 RT - Issues and Workarounds to get Windows 8.1 behaviour

Getting around Window 8's issues

By Strictly-Software

I use Windows 8.1 (proper version - thank god) but if you are stuck on Windows 8 or the Windows 8 RT version you should upgrade to Windows 8.1 ASAP as the design of Windows 8 was so that they could use the same display format for both phones, tablets, PC's and laptops.

The problem was that the techies didn't want numptified hidden away features behind a design obviously meant for touch screens and not for coders.

So they introduced Windows 8 RT which was a sort of half way house between Win 8.1 and Win 8 as they realised they were going to have another Vista issue where people hated the OS and many skipped over it or stayed with the previous version anyway Windows XP (I know I did!).

So when they realised they had another Vista/XP issue on their hands they rolled out Win 8 RT which tried to get rid of the main tablet screen and have am option to get back to a normal desktop screen.

Windows 8.1 was a total reverse of Windows 8 with the desktop as the main screen and the horrible tablets accessible by the home button.

As the article says:

If your PC is currently running Windows 8 or Windows RT, it's free to update to Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1. And unlike previous updates to Windows, you'll get this update from the Windows Store.

by following this Windows Knowledge Base article: upgrade from Windows 8.0 or 8.1 RT to Windows 8.1.

Making some changes

The first thing I hated about the OS was that the mouse would change the size of the screen without me asking it to. In Chrome or elsewhere I was constantly manually putting the screen size back to normal ratio 100%.

In fact the mouse was moving so fast I couldn't hardly see it and I needed to make some changes. The list below are those I made.

Increasing the size and changing the colour of the mouse

I changed the colour of the mouse using the "Pointers" tab where you can pick the group of pointers you want to use to "Windows Black (extra large)" in the top selection and in the bottom I chose "Normal Select".


Now I could see the cursor much easier due to the colour change as most programs have a white background so a white cursor with a black border is not very helpful.

Changing the auto drag that the mouse does

One of the annoying things about Windows 8+ is the auto drag ability of the mouse which enables you to highlight or drag features without using the CTRL key.

You can turn this off in the "Buttons" > "Click Lock" panel by de-selecting the "Turn on Click Lock" feature.

This was one of the major pains I had when I first used Windows 8.1 especially when I was remote desktopped into my work PC. Then I found a way to turn it off.

Changing the mouse controlling the size of the screen

This is one thing that really pissed me off. When I was surfing the net or just writing a swipe of the mouse would change the whole screen size.

Other Mouse Changes

I also did the following changes in the "Pointer Options" tab I changed the pointer speed to a slower one.

With a bigger black pointer it helps a lot. I also did the following.

  • I chose to "Automatically move pointer to default selection in a dialogue box". No point hunting for CTRL keys is there! 
  • I chose to "Show location of the pointer when the CTRL key is hit" 
  • A nice circle appears helping you find the cursor. 
  • I disabled the "Hide pointer when typing" option so that I can always see the cursor.

Other Windows 8.1 Programs

With all the numptyfictation going on with the Windows tablet format there are some actual applications that can help you without going command line.

Even though the start bar is pretty crap you can either use the "Search" function to find an app or just go into the app page and start typing. The words will just start to appear in a search box in the top right of the page e.g "Paint" to get the Paint application.

The Windows App Store is one of the great features that Windows 8 has introduced and there are lots of great programs you can download for free including "Live TV" to get TV from freeview channels as well as US and European TV shoes.

With WiFi and network connectivity you want to check that your broadband speed is fast and everything is okay. One of these programs is "Network Speed Test" which you can get from the App Store.

This application tests your broadband or WiFi speed and tells you whether you would have the capabilities of downloading high or low quality video, your internet status, network details and other ISP related information.

So now you know how to get Windows 8.1 features, change some annoying ones in the OS related to mouse usage and use the Windows App Store to download apps to test your WiFi for you.

You should now be on your way.

Monday 13 October 2014

Debugging Issues with Strictly AutoTags or Strictly TweetBOT

Debugging Issues with Strictly AutoTags or Strictly TweetBOT

By Strictly-Software

You can purchase the pro versions (and download the free versions with less features) for these plugins here.

This article is about debugging issues you may occasionally get with these two plugins.

I usually find (as my code hasn't changed) that if the plugins stop working that the issue is down to one of these scenarios.
  • Another plugin causing issues.
  • WordPress code / update (bugs) - I usually wait until the first subversion is released before upgrading due to having to many problems upgrading to 3.7, 3.8 and 3.9 so I am waiting until 4.1 is released before upgrading this time.
  • Not enough memory on your server. Lots of tags equals lots of regular expressions to run which means memory usage.
  • Too many tags for the post save job to loop through on save. Trim them down regularly.
  • If you are on a shared server / VPS another user maybe taking up all your memory and preventing your site from running correctly - contact your hosting provider.
  • A hacker has caused issues on your server. Check your SSH file to see if it has been compromised with this console line /etc/init.d/ssh and view the contents.

Strictly AutoTags

Specific things to try with this plugin include:

  • De-Activating any auto-feed importer tools that create articles from RSS feeds and then saving a draft / published article from the test article in the Readme.txt file.
  • Ensuring you keep your tag list trim. If you have 25,000+ articles you shouldn't have many tags related to a single article or even three. So use the delete feature to remove tags with few articles related to them. The less articles, the more relevant the tags and the less memory is used.
  • If Auto Discovery is enabled and the test article in Readme.txt file works and tags are added the plugin is working. This means another cause for the issue.
  • Disable Jetpack, I have found this plugin to cause many issues.
  • Disable Post Revisions and set the Auto Save time so far in the future it won't cause problems. Depending on your settings you could be re-tagging your article every X seconds due to Auto Save and Post Revisions.
  • The code for disabling the WordPress features in the wp-config.php file are below.

/* turn off post revisions */
define ('WP_POST_REVISIONS', false);

/* set auto saves so far in future they shouldn't get saved on auto posts */
define( 'AUTOSAVE_INTERVAL', 10000 );

// increase memory limit
define( 'WP_MEMORY_LIMIT', '120M' );

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Strictly TweetBot

Specific things to try with this plugin include:
  • Disable Jetpack Sharing or Jetpack altogether. Having multiple tweet systems can cause issues such as duplicate tweets and Twitter thinking you are sending automated messages. Jetpack has also been found to cause issues with many plugins.
  • Ensure you don't have too many Twitter BOT accounts setup. If you do increase your memory in wp-config.php (see the above code for Strictly AutoTags)
  • Constantly check your Admin panel to see if you are getting messages back from Twitter such as "duplicate tweet" - "this tweet looks like an automated message" - "this account needs re-authenticating". If you get these errors then Twitter is blocking your tweets. Change the formats of your messages and prevent duplicates from being sent.
  • If you need to re-authenticate you can try to delete the account, then re-add it and see if it works straight away without requiring a new PIN code.
  • If this doesn't work then you may need to re-install the plugin and all the accounts one by one and re-authenticate the OAuth with new PIN codes.
  • If you are linked automatically with Strictly AutoTags then ensure that the AutoTag plugin is working correctly. Make sure the tag list is not too large, there is enough memory to run the tagging and that when a post is made the POST META value strictlytweetbot_posted_tweet has been added to the post. If it hasn't and the post has tags but no tweets went out then you need to find out why. Check the Strictly AutoTags help list for information on fixing this. Memory and the size of the tag list are two major issues.


Always remember that if the code in the plugin hasn't changed but then the plugin suddenly stops working LOGICALLY it is likely NOT to be the plugins fault. Therefore:
  • Have you just done something on the server or website? If so roll it back to see if that effected the plugin.
  • Have you just upgraded or installed a new plugin? If so rollback or remove it.
  • Check other plugins by disabling or removing them.
  • Ensure your host has not had issues e.g memory / CPU is too high.
  • Ensure any new plugins have not caused issues.
  • If you have just upgraded WordPress try rolling back to the last working version.
  • Try re-starting Apache, then if that fails try a reboot (soft).

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