Category Archives: Windows

Dell Venue 8 Pro Windows 10 Home Upgrade

My Hardware

My Venue 8 Pro is a 5000 series (5380) that comes installed with Windows 8.1. I purchased the 32GB version.

The thinking behind the 32GB instead of the 64GB model was that expansion is possible with insertion of a microSD card. The 32GB was 55% the price of the 64GB version, and probably a fair differential in costs. Time will tell, because time is money.

To increase the storage, I purchased a 64GB SanDisk microSDXC UHS-I card with adapter (SDSDQUP-064G-AW46A).

I recorded some steps I performed in an attempt to get Windows 8 to be a productive platform on this device here.

I installed Windows 10 buy upgrading rather than a clean install. This left all the Dell programs intact. Subsequently, I uninstalled the Dell programs. They seemed to fight with Windows 10 for program and driver updates.

Windows 10 seems snappy and more stable. However, There is not enough room to upgrade to Windows 10 Home, version 1511, 10586. I further uninstalled all the programs I installed previously, have run the disk cleanup in settings, and even a uninstalled few Microsoft programs. Still there is only a paltry 4.5 GB free space giving the impression that more files need to be jettisoned.

This is a false impression and there is a way forward. It is just very unclear and Windows does a poor job of helping the user. If the system is rebooted and the disk cleanup run again, and again, yes repeatedly, the old system files that are archived will eventually be deleted. Still not enough space is freed to run the upgrade. I believe this is due to the insistence of the upgrade processes to save the older system files. Their seems to be no way around this. Eventually, at failure to update a system note pops up and asked to identify the problem. After a long delay it reports that not enough room is available and desired 10 GB of space, there was only 7 GB.

It did suggest that another disk be connected. Curiously it could not see the 64GB microSDXC installed and mounted already. It did eventually have a button to attach a drive, presumably to save the system backup files to since once attached it warned that the disk should be stored in a safe place. Curious that all this presumes that a user expects this to happen without documentation. Attaching the microSDXC at this stage did allow the upgrade to proceed.

This upgrade process apparently takes many hours as it has been at it for over three hours already and is only 4% along. Since the Venue 8 Pro only has one port for power and USB 2 I have to use the microSDXC since I do not have an adapter that allows both power and a USB drive to be plugged in at the same time and I certainly do not want the upgrade to fail due to battery power running out.

Talk Back prose or prose poetry

Talk Back prose or prose poetry

SpeechnDictationIconWant to have a second read of something you have written?
Kind of a dispassionate editor type of read?
Here is a way to make your writing read more polished.

When I write, I have an inner dialog which I put to words on paper, well not so much paper as into a text editor or word processor nowadays. I notice that when someone else would read it out-loud it frequently does not carry the same cadence and emphasis that it did in my inner dialog.

I have noted these discontinuities and questionable meanings with others writings also. These are readily identified in others writing wether I read there work out-loud or silently. I often think, “What are they trying to say?” when reading new scientists writings, and especially with students submissions.

With student mentees drafts, I would expect some rough spots like these, but they happen overly often, and go unidentified by the author, lingering over many drafts (that is when I can get them to submit more than one draft :-). So, I recognize that it is hard to track down discontinuities and questionable meanings and fix them: especially with the very compressed turnaround time we work with for todays communications.

I have found that if I use a text to speech feature on my Apple OSX computer I can fix many of these in my own writing. I have long been using text to speech as a tool with face to face editing sessions with student mentees and they have very positive responses.

How to enable text to speech.

OSX computer — interpret OSX to mean a Mac

With an OSX computer it is easy to have the computer speak selected text. Just go to “System Preferences” and choose the “Dictation and Speech” icon, choose the “Text to Speech” button and check the “Speak selected text when the key is pressed box.” The default is Option+Esc key combination and that has worked fine for me — your mileage may vary — but you may choose another key combination. Just select some text, and Option+Esc key combination.


On the iPad it is only slightly more work to turn on this great feature.

Launch “Settings” (the icon of a gear) and choose “General” then choose “Accessibility” and toggle “Speak Selection” to on. I the “Speak Selection” dialog window the voice used and the “SPEAKING RATE” can be adjusted. I like the “Highlight Words” being set to on but you can turn it off. With “Speak Selection” set to on, when text is highlighted “Speak” is an option on the popup dialog. Happy Days. (This works for the iPhone as well.)

Windows 7

Open the “Ease of Access Center” window by pressing the Windows key + U, or by clicking the “Start” button, choose “Control Panel,” then choose “Ease of Access,” then choose “Ease of Access Center.” Under the “Quick access to common tools” header click ‘Start Narrator‘, or press Alt + N. (This will start Narrator for current use and to make Narrator start automatically when you log in, with the “Ease of Access Center” window open. Under the “Explore all settings” header, click on “Use the computer without a display,” or press Tab until it is highlighted and then press Enter.

Keyboard shortcuts in Windows 7 Narrator

To read text from a screen, use the following shortcuts when Narrator is running.

    • Insert + F3 – Read the current character.
    • Insert + F4 – Read the current word.
    • Insert + F5 – Read the current line.
    • Insert + F6 – Read the current paragraph.
    • Insert + F7 – Read the current page.
    • Insert + F8 – Read the current document.

There you go. Clear as mud. Lots of key combinations to remember.

Windows 8

In Windows 8 Microsoft has moved in the direction of complexity as there are different ways to get Narrator turned on depending upon the device.

  • On the sign-in screen, press the “Windows logo key+U” or click the “Ease of access” button in the lower-left corner, and then choose “Narrator.”
  • On a keyboard, press the “Windows logo key+Enter.”
  • On a touch-only device, hold down the “Windows logo button and press the “Volume Up” button.

I like this description the best (probably because I have used Windows since before there was Windows 🙂

Settings > Control Panel > Ease of Access > Speech Recognition


Most modern devices have text to speech capabilities so the device is not the issue. The iPad is best at being used to consume and digest information, with only modest “creating and authorship” capabilities. This lends it well suited to using it as a tool to assess the readability of ones one work.

Directing your computer to use DropBox for your Document folder

To conserve disk or SSD storage space and time, you can save files directly to Dropbox from your computer programs that want to save to your Documents folder. This requires simple commands in Terminal for Mac OS or a small settings change for Windows.

For Mac OS, open Terminal (in Utilities) and type cd Dropbox. Press enter, and then type ln -s ~/Documents /Documents. Hit enter again to complete the process.

To segregate the Document folder of multiple users, or home machine from work machine.

To be clear you can use any file under the Dropbox folder if you want to segregate your work machine from your home machine. Just add the folder you want to use as the target under Dropbox.

To save the Document folder from a two different Mac machines as above type cd Dropbox at the command line in Terminal on the home Mac. At the terminal type mkdir HomeDocuments. Then type ln -s ˜/Documents /HomeDocuments. Hit enter to complete the process. The form of this symbolic link command (ln -s) is source directory followed by target directory.

If you do not want this HomeDocuments folder, sub-folders, and included files showing up on your work Mac you will have to use Selective Sync on your other Mac and uncheck the HomeDocuments folder. This process can be repeated from a work Mac using a different folder name (WorkDocuments).

The use of symbolic link (ln -s) can be handy as the user can even choose subfolders in the Documents folder and send files to Dropbox while leaving other subfolders resident on the machine without linking. One word of warning is that moving the source breaks the link.

It is more cumbersome on Windows machines and the granularity is less elegant. In Windows, right-click on your My Documents folder, hit Properties and click Move. Then select your Dropbox folder.