Oct 28, 2012

Peeking into Windows 8 themes

Windows 8 has it's themes, just like it's predecessors. Microsoft, as usual, has published a good amount of information, also about sharing themes that you have created.

What they fail to mention is that the magical .themepack file is just a file archive, compressed using the LZX algorithm. Microsoft is known for using format this previously.

Anyway, if you want to look at the specifics of themes you've downloaded just extract them using you favourite LZX-archiver - for example, 7-zip. You can now pick out images and sounds as you like and create "remix themes" for personal use, or edit the settings in the .theme file inside the archive.

Oct 14, 2012

Weird right-clicking behavior in Windows 8

Recently I started to get an annoying problem on my laptop. I was using chrome, and suddenly my bookmark tab and apps buttons would stop working. Or rather, the app buttons would behave just like when I right clicked them...

So of course, I tried the number one problem solver there is: Reboot. And yay, after a reboot it would work. Sort of. After a few minutes, the problem would return. Anyway, I gathered this must be a problem with chrome, time to update, or at least try another browser.

Guess what? It did not help - but it did show me that the problem exists throughout windows 8, not just in chrome. If I clicked something in the start menu (or metro/modern/whatever ) nothing would happen. If I did a search and clicked one of the results, all that would happen was a green check mark would appear and disappear next to it.

I also noticed, if I use the desktop chrome, and click any of the tabs, it's like the application loses focus. Could be the same issue with the start menu, but it's harder to tell because there is no title bar.

So I gathered, since it's a system wide problem, perhaps it's the drivers fault, and indeed, the device manager told me the synaptics driver was from 2010. So, I downloaded the freshest version from Synaptics site. That did not work either. I have different options in my control panel for mouse now, but nothing seems to help..

One thing I did notice, is that the animated Synaptic icon in the taskbar indicates I am in fact left-clicking, while the UI is responding as if I'm right-clicking. Very confusing.

So here I am now, using my tab button (!)  for all it's worth, while I'm trying to figure out if it's a hardware problem. If anyone has a tip let me hear it...

Update, October 25. 
I finally got round to disabling the touchpad and installing a regular mouse on the laptop. This was of course to confirm the suspicion that the problem was caused by a malfunctioning touchpad. After a reboot, no right-clicking issues, yay! And I was able to navigate different windows using the mouse instead of alt+tab.

Then, after about ten minutes of use, back to square one. I am not able to navigate windows by clicking on them, and the same goes for a lot of buttons and links.

I'm going to try a fresh Win8 install and see if it helps. If not- it's off to the hardware lab.

Update, November 12.
Reinstall did not help. However, when I called HP and explained the problem, they sent a service man the next day, and he replaced the touchpad. That was last week, and the problem has not returned. Must have been a hardware failure.

Thanks, HP!