I Have To Use Windows…

…and it's just about killed me.  I still don't understand how people get anything done on that OS.  After a month on my new job (I went from working at a lumber yard to working for the software company that the lumber yard uses) I've found some tools that help me cope…

June 19, 2014


I actually discovered this one back when I was working at alpha-sports.com.  It gives me the four (or more, depends on how many I think I need) workspaces that I’m used to in Linux desktop environments.  I can not contain myself to one for some reason (especially with the screwed up Windows 7 taskbar/start menu setup) after having the option of four, so this tool is a must.

One problem I noticed with Firefox, in relation to VirtuaWin, was the fact that it would act weird when I moved a window from one desktop to another.  It would open new tabs.  I fixed it by going to about:config and switching the setting in drawInTitlebar.  Chrome didn’t seem to bother.

Cisco IP Communicator (software phone) seems incapable of moving from one workspace to another.  I haven’t quit yet, but the future looks grim.  On the other hand, I can just close the window and open it up on another workspace…



The only ssh client I’ve ever used in Windows, and it’s been serving me well since… maybe the late 90’s?  A while, anyway.



Oddly enough, this laptop didn’t come with Acrobat preinstalled.  I was some happy about that, let me tell you.  I’m appalled at how slow that program is.  Since I’m used to using Evince on GNOME-ish Linux computers (Mint currently with Cinnamon) and it works in Windows, I grabbed it.  Sumatra is another that works, but I figured I’d stay consistent.


Classic shell

This has been more of a lifesaver for Windows 8 users that are completely lost (since a lot of them came from XP) because it gives them something familiar instead of the latest mess that Microsoft has created.  I also installed it on 7 though because I’d rather have some of the XP-ish menu functionality than what 7 has.  What I’d really like as well (and there’s probably something out there for me) is a way to make the taskbar behave more like I’m used to in XP and a lot of the Linux desktop environments I use.


Always Mouse Wheel

This saved my bacon.  I was nearly in tears every time I scrolled over a background window, only to have it pop out to the front.  Always Mouse Wheel allows me to scroll up and down with my mouse wheel over a background window, and that window stays in the background.  If I WANT that damned window coming to the foreground, I’ll click it, thank you very much.



One must always have a good text editor, and Notepad that comes with Windows is definitely NOT an example of a good text editor.  Stuffing weird extra characters in there and not knowing when there’s been a line break are just a couple of my gripes.  It’s been long enough since I used it that those are the only two I remember. 

Notepadd++ is an excellent text editor, but since it’s only written for Windows and I wanted to stay consistent, I installed Geany; that’s what I use in Linux.  Just like with Sumatra, I highly recommend Notepad++ for anyone looking at alternatives to some of the proprietary garbage out there.



Man, this one took me a while. I’ve NEVER been involved with Exchange, and I didn’t dare go farting around too much until I was comfortable. But Outlook completely drives me nuts. So does Office, for the same reasons. The menus I’m used to are gone, replaced by some frustrating mix of changing choices depending on where you click. It’s just weird, kind of like Unity and GNOME3; I can’t do it.

So I installed Thunderbird and an add-on called Exquilla. It’s free for now, but I’ve got to pay ten bucks or so next month to keep using it. I’ve got no problem with that.

Addendum: I used this plugin for the whole time I worked at a proprietary ERP vendor — it was beautiful. And I was worried when my license was going to run out a couple weeks before my last day with the company, but someone at Exquilla (I think it was the Kent fellow, but it’s been a couple months and I can’t remember) was gracious enough to give me a bit of an extension. 

I missed a meeting last week though, as the Exquilla only checks mail.  I had nothing in Thunderbird checking my Exchange calendar.  So let me introduce Exchange EWS Provider.  I’m running 3.2.0-Beta77, which is the last that this author put out in May.  He’s done.  If nobody picks up the project, it’s dead.  I really hope someone picks it up, even if it costs some more money.  Outlook is just a complete pain for me and I don’t want to run it at all if I don’t have to.


Other Issues

I still forget how copy/paste works in Windows.  I’m used to highlighting something and having that ready to paste when I either click both mouse buttons at the same time or click the scroll wheel.  Ctrl C and Ctrl V still works normally, I’m just used to being able to mouse it with no keyboard action.

The Java Control Panel is relatively easy to find in Windows.  For whatever reason, I forget where it is every time I install Sun (or Oracle — whichever, but not openJDK) Java. You get it up by typing in jcontrol.  Now that I’ve got this blog post up, I’ll still forget how to run it, but remember that I can check back here.  There are a few other blog posts like that around here…


In Closing

So, I think I’m going to make it.  The first couple or three weeks involved lots of mysql work, so I was able to use my own computer a lot and it wasn’t such an “all of a sudden” shock using Windows.  And now that I’m on the Windows box more, I’ve found these tools to help me use it to almost the same potential as I can use a Linux machine.

I think if I could figure out how to get some of the Cisco VPN and IP Telephone software running in Linux, I’d be done altogether, but I’m not too worried about it for now.

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