Microsoft did something good in Windows 11

I know that I dislike Microsoft because they cheat. But if I’m going to have at least a little bit of integrity, I need to admit it when Microsoft does something good. Yes, they did something good in Windows 11, even if it took them 30+ years to copy the idea.

In Windows 11, you can select a file and right-click on it, and the popup menu lets you copy the path of the file to the clipboard.

If you didn’t know about this, and you start using it, you may be surprised at just how useful this is. I’m not, because I’ve had that functionality all along these last 30 years in WinBatch. For 30 years, I’ve had an easier time of it than you, because I’ve always had right-click clipboard tricks at my fingertips.

And I do have some sympathy for Microsoft taking so long to implement this feature. Microsoft had been caught stealing ideas from software vendors who sold (or wanted to sell) Windows utilities. Wilson WindowWare, the publisher of WinBatch, made Windows better by providing a macro recorder for Windows. It was kind of a sham though, because playing back the same mouse and keystrokes – without the ability to edit the macro – was more teaser to buy a product than helpful.

But if you bought the product, it was magical.

And Microsoft decided (this time) to not stab their partner in the back by implementing the partner’s idea themselves.

I did buy WinBatch. I bought it for my personal use. And in fact, I conviced my employer to buy the compiler, at $500 per year. What that gave me was an unlimited site license to run as many WinBatch scripts as I wanted on every machine in my environment. The compiler embedded the scripts inside a .exe much like the Perl PAR modules do, so you get a Windows .exe that runs your Perl script. The interpreter is embedded, the DLLs are embedded, and the script is embedded, and it all launches from the .exe

At work, I put the runtime DLLs on the public folder of every NetWare server where users log in. I compiled scripts to the small .exe option, and then copied the .exe to the file servers. Well, I didn’t copy them, I had a WinBatch copy them for me. Then I edited the Novell login script to launch the WinBatch exes.

Did I need to take an inventory of every drive letter mapping on a machine? Yes. Could I do that for 2,500 machines and write the results to a shared drive? Yes. Oh, and by the way, how about listing which printers were installed too? This was reasonably competent tech for 2005. WinBatch had a set of Windows Registry search-and-replace calls, so I could launch from a login script a utility that changed registry keys on your machine after we migrated you to a new server.

Anyway, I loved WinBatch, and used it daily. And it came with clipboard tricks: any file, any folder, mulitple files and folders: you could right-click and copy either the name(s) or the full path (including file names) to the Windows clipboard.

So when I saw that Windows 11 added right-click copy path to clipboard I was impressed. Microsoft finally did something good.

Now technically, this feature has been in Windows for a decade or more, but you needed to know to shift+right-click to get the menu option. With Windows 11, they finally just made it available without any weird key combinations. Good job, Microsoft.

Man I hate the Orbit B-Hyve sprinkler controller

A while ago, I reconfigured my network, and I got an email from Orbit that they hadn’t seen my device check in with them in a while. Yes, it was going to need to be reconnected to WiFi. Today, the weather is getting warm, and I need to connect the thing up. It won’t connect.

I vaguely remember that it was super difficult to connect the first time, too.

Later, I wanted to change my email address, and I called their technical support number and talked with a guy: how do I change my email address? You don’t. They don’t have a way to allow someone to change their email address. I could create a new account at the new email address, but then I’d have to re-do the setup all over again.

My experience with Apple is that you can never actually delete an app with old data. They store it in their cloud, and the reinstall always brings back the old data. I had even called Apple technical support, and a very nice lady remembered that once-upon-a-time apps could be deleted from a person’s account in the cloud. She checked with a developer, and sure enough, they removed that ability a couple iOS versions back.

So now I have this fear that if I were to delete the Orbit B-Hyve app, I wouldn’t actually be able to delete it and it’s data. I’d try to reinstall, but it would bring back the bad data Apple has stored in their cloud. Remember kids, Apple app data becomes a part of your permanent record….

I have zero faith that the Orbit people can code up an app that deals with this situation. I mean, they can’t even code up an email address change….

The Orbit device is super frustrating because their stupid instructional video acts as if everything is going to Just Work. It doesn’t, and that’s the end of their knowledge. Of course I went searching on the Internet, and Reddit has some people with similar problems, and

  1. Technical support is stupid and can only ever tell their customers to uninstall and reinstall the app. Anything more than that, and they have to RMA the unit. I’ve had the unit long enough, it’s no longer under warranty.
  2. Apparently, some people got the connection to work by turning on location services on their smartphone. Orbit technical support didn’t know that was something that had to be done. In my case, location services are already turned on, but I don’t see the Orbit B-Hyve app in the list of apps that request location services. I am loathe to delete the app and start over because of the iCloud behavior mentioned above.
  3. The instructions do make clear that the sprinkler controller can only do 802.11b (1999) and 802.11g (2003). Well, that’s a stupid design choice, but should not be a problem for me because the WiFi router I’m hooking it up to is one of those. No good reason to waste an otherwise okay router; it’s not like IoT devices need a lot of bandwidth.

Problem is: I’ve got to connect to the controller with my “modern” iPhone. The iPhone seems to intensely dislike the old WiFi. That may be a reflection on Apple for not playing nice with others.

Still, I’m in a situation where stuff doen’t work. If Orbit hadn’t built a box with ridiculously old technology, -or- built firmware updating into the box, these problems could be solved.

What is so frustrating is that the Orbit instructions say that once the box is in WiFi pairing mode, it will stay there for an hour. Reality is that the SSID shows up for about 15 seconds and then vanishes. It takes a whole system reset (clear CMOS) to get it to go into pairing mode again.

Even when I do get my iPhone to connect to the Orbit SSID, it doesn’t stay connected long enough for the app to see the device.

The iPhone does warn me that the WiFi connection is in plain text / unencrypted. Because the Orbit only powered up a few seconds ago, I’m sure the date is 2015-01-01. I don’t know if the iPhone is okay with that or going to “protect me” from connecting to such a wide open network. The iPhone keeps advancing with updates in security standards; I’m pretty sure the Orbit never will.

All I really know is that my lawn and shrubbery are going to start dying in the heat unless I can get this sprinkler controller connected.

Nothing gives me hope that it will connect easily, if at all.

I should have bought a unit from Hunter or Rachio. Way more expensive though. Who would have thought that you get what you pay for?

Dang it Microsoft: can’t you even follow your own instructions?

This morning, Outlook popped up “Allow this website to configure mailbox@domain server settings?” No, I don’t want to, because it messes things up. The website mentioned is the autodiscover.xml serving web site. The dialog box says “Your account was redirected to this website for settings. You should only allow settings from sources you know and trust”

I click the checkbox “Don’t ask me about this website again”.

Then I click the Cancel button. The other button is “Allow” which is specifically what I don’t want to do, ever again.

That’s the combo: “Don’t ask me about this website again” plus “Don’t allow the change”. That’s what the dialog box prompts for, and that’s what I choose, and the dialog box goes away.

And of course it’s nagging me with the same prompt an hour later. It will continue to nag me for all eternity if I have the fortitude to resist it’s nagging.

I have to wonder if somewhere in the souce code commments, someone had to add above the “Don’t ask me about this website again” checkbox “Just kidding. We don’t record or care if the user doesn’t want to be asked again. Stupid user.”

It was Microsoft who presented the checkbox. I’m just asking them to implement what they presented. But apparently they aren’t competent to do that.

I probably ought to write a WinBatch to wait for that dialog box to pop up, and automatically close it with the options I want. And having thought that, I expect that at some time soon Microsoft will offer to sell me a Windows Copilot skill, for the low low price of $1 per month, to auto-dismiss the nag they implemented. Ain’t Microsoft grand?