Recommended Precision Touchpad settings

I’ve yet to ease into a new computer without having to fuss with some of the default settings, and the HP Spectre x360 laptop sitting on this desk has fit right into the pattern.

Most of the tweaking has involved its touchpad, because I’ve always found the defaults in Windows to be too jumpy. (I’ve said the same about some Mac touchpad defaults.) But after a few days of clicking around the stock Synaptics software, I realized I should first dump that for drivers supporting Microsoft’s more elegant Precision Touchpad software.

The directions I found on Reddit (embedded here after the jump) worked, and then I could easily shut off the touch behaviors I couldn’t stand.

  • “Touchpad sensitivity”: I changed this from the default “Medium” to “Low” because, again, jumpy touchpads bother me. I may try turning it back off to see if disabling the following two options made the standard sensitivity acceptable.
  • “Tap with a single finger to single-click”: This is the one setting I change on every laptop. If I want to click, I’m more than happy to press down so the touchpad makes an audible click; having it treat a stray touch as a click leaves me randomly dumping the cursor into documents and windows and feeling generally stabby as a result.
  • “Press the lower right corner of the touchpad to right-click”: I disabled this because it’s easier for me to remember to tap with two fingers to right-click than to keep track of which side of this invisible line I’m about to tap.

I hope this advice–which should also work on any other laptop running Microsoft’s Precision Touchpad software–makes for a more pleasant laptop computing experience. If you have other suggested settings changes, please share them in the comments.

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Weekly output: online comments, Chrome and site security

We’re thisclose to the slow days of summer, but we’re not there yet.That’s probably why I’m still taking care of work chores on a Sunday night.

Yahoo Tech online-communities post7/21/2015: Why Online Comments Suck (and How to Fix Them), Yahoo Tech

You know where this essay about the lack of constructive conversation at Reddit and other places online got zero comments? At Reddit. You never know sometimes…

7/26/2015: Why Chrome questions your bank’s security, USA Today

This column became a lot more work to report when financial-industry PR types clammed up after I asked what I thought was a simple question about their sites’ security. And then Google wasn’t much more help itself.

Weekly output: Alexis Ohanian, Snapchat, fitness gadgets, Mac webcam

As I type this, I’m on my way to my 17th CES in a row. My laptop and phone have advanced a great deal since 1998, that’s for sure.

DisCo Ohanian interview

1/2/2014: Reddit’s Alexis Ohanian: Current IP Laws Aren’t Much Of A Friend to Startups, Disruptive Competition Project

My final contribution at DisCo was an interview with Reddit’s founder, who’s since become both an investor and activist on many tech-policy issues. We talked about how a balanced intellectual-property system helped make Reddit possible–and how the same system doesn’t always offer much help for small companies whose own IP has been infringed.

1/2/2014: Snapchat experienced a security breach, WTOP

I talked to D.C.’s news-radio station about Snapchat’s inexcusably lax approach to security and how it’s harder to change a compromised phone number than a password.

1/3/2014: New fitness gadgets, Fox 5 News

WTTG’s Sarah Simmons quizzed me on what activity-tracking gadgets like the Jawbone Up and the FitBit can do to help you track your exercise–and how they’re at risk of being made obsolete by tools built into smartphones.

1/4/2014: Q&A: How can I re-install my laptop’s webcam?, USA Today

The column recounts how resetting my MacBook Air’s System Management Controller cured it of an inability to see its own webcam… except that when I opened the laptop this morning, the problem had returned. Either I didn’t do the SMC reset correctly, or this Mac has a deeper ailment. Either way, I hope I don’t have to Skype or FaceTime from this machine this week.

On Sulia, I inventoried the memes I ignored on Twitter this year (“Duck Dynasty” should have been on that list too, as I’ve never watched the show, have no interest in watching it and don’t care who’s on it), wondered why Google Now’s estimate of my cycling mileage in December missed my Capital Bikeshare rides, whined about Chrome asking for saved passwords on every restart (and then updated that post to share a fix), endorsed a great little Mac plug-in called “WordService” that adds editing tools to just about every other app, and teed off on Snapchat for its arrogant refusal to apologize.

Weekly output: Nokia 900, podcast, Fuji FinePix XP170, Web chat, This Week in Law, Reddit

Lest this list give too generous an idea of my recent productivity, remember that I filed the first two items earlier.

7/17/2012: Review: Nokia’s Lumia 900 already feels outdated, CNNMoney.com

In my second long-term evaluation for CNNMoney after May’s reassessment of the Kindle Fire, I took a look at Nokia’s Lumia 900 and what it’s done for Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 platform. The biggest difference between this piece and the review I did for Discovery News when the phone debuted in April: Microsoft’s announcement that the phone would not get an update to Windows Phone 8, which made Nokia’s “beta test” ads look dumb overnight.

7/17/2012: Rob’s “June” Podcast: Getting Silicon Valley To Talk To Washington, CEA Digital Dialogue

The quotes are required because this interview with Engine Advocacy’s Michael McGeary got held up by, in succession, travel, technical problems trying to record a Skype interview on my laptop, the derecho and the general scheduling chaos of the July 4 week. Then it got lost in the shuffle at CEA. But anyway… Mike’s one of the tech-policy types I enjoy talking shop with, and I think you can tell that from the interview.

7/18/2012: How A Shockproof Camera Knocked Itself Out, Discovery News

Surprise, surprise: yet another dismal review of a digital camera. This time around, I liked this Fuji’s rugged nature–the photo that leads off the review shows the camera immersed in my kitchen sink, with one of my daughter’s rubber duckies floating above it–but did not appreciate its clumsy WiFi Direct photo-transfer feature. I was further annoyed by the sloppiness on display in its interface and design, like having it beep by default every time you touch a button or including yet another proprietary USB cable. And this one did not take exceptional pictures, as you can see in the Flickr set of its output.

7/20/2012: Live Chat Today: Travel Talk, CEA Digital Dialogue

We opted for ScribbleLive for the chat, mostly for a reason I hadn’t thought of when I discussed our chat options on Monday: A large chunk of the potential readership would be at work and not in the best position to play video or run a webcam, which weighed against doing a Google+ Hangout On Air. The chat got off to a slow start, thanks in part to some rookie configuration errors on our end, but I did have fun and think we can work with this software.

7/20/2012: #171: Printing Friends and Influencing People, This Week in Law

I returned to TWiT.tv’s “TWiL” a month after my debut there to discuss a grab-bag of tech-policy topics: the prospects for cheap, widespread 3-D printing; a new intellectual-property bill that is not the second coming of SOPA; who much data the Feds have been collecting from wireless carriers; and the new face-blurring option on YouTube intended to protect dissidents. My conversation with hosts Denise Howell and Evan Brown and Public Knowledge attorney Michael Weinberg was briefly interrupted by a Skype dropout; I’m not sure if I should blame Skype or the increasingly erratic Actiontec router that came with my Verizon Fios connection.

7/20/2012: Redditors Bear Witness To Aurora Shooting, Discovery News

After reading an arresting firsthand account of Friday morning’s horrific shootings in Aurora, Colo., on Reddit, I quickly accepted an editor’s invitation to write about that. As i started putting together this post, I remembered my first mention of that site: a Post column that noted how it had become an interesting place for people to discuss news posted elsewhere. At that time, I had no idea that Reddit could become a new journalistic outlet in its own right.

Afterwards, I wanted to write a personal follow-up here noting the oddity of steadily loosening gun regulations while these mass shootings keep happening, but I ran out of time on Friday. Fair warning: You may yet read a post like that here.