Windows never changes

For months, Windows 10 complained that it didn’t have enough space on the hard disk, but the options it gave me to clean up space were ridiculous. Worse, the “storage” function that supposedly tells you what’s taking space wasn’t even close to the truth. This became so bad that I was forced to remove some things I didn’t want to remove, often with a lot of effort, because space was so tight that Windows didn’t even have enough to run the uninstaller! In the end I became so desperate that I installed TreeSize Free. It quickly revealed that crash plan was taking up a huge amount of space. This revealed to be associated to the Code42 program — a program that the system was listing as taking 200MB. Well, uninstalling Code42 freed SIXTY PERCENT of the hard disk space, 140GB.

My monitor setup

In the not-distant future there will be a single monitor that gets you the best of both worlds. For the contemporaneous, I maintain that the above is the best monitor setup available to us in 2020. I use the tiny E-ink monitor as much as possible, including now, for my blitz matches on chess.com, and of course for writing and sometimes reviewing papers. But as I mentioned earlier unfortunately for certain bureaucratic tasks that not all of us can skip altogether you just need a bigger monitor with color. So I push a button on the hdmi switch, and the image blasts open on the 30-inch screen, m’illumino d’immenso, and suddenly the mouse feels like the interface from Minority Reports.

E-ink monitor: the best money I have ever spent on electronics

We briefly interrupt the on-flight entertainment for an update on e-ink monitors (see previous posts here and here).  I am happy to report that during the summer my e-ink monitor worked extremely well.  Writing as I am doing now with the sun shining through my window is fantastic.  My entire summer production — including this survey on non-abelian combinatorics — was written exclusively on the e-ink monitor. I don’t think I ever felt so good about a piece of electronics since relentless market pressure forced me to abandon Amiga.

E-ink on the move

Today I was overjoyed to notice that the MBTA is installing e-ink signs. I didn’t know about this when I wrote in the previous post that the market for e-ink monitors will be huge.

I was actually about to report more on my experience, and by another standard coincidence today a reader asks:

Some time have passed, is your evaluation the same? Did you come across any unexpected difficulties?

Well, I wrote a paper entirely in e-ink. But I regret to admit that towards the end of the semester I got really busy with the usual end-of-Spring matters at the university, and I switched back to my back-lit 30-inch Dell monitor.  I had to interact with a number of computer systems where I could not easily change font size (the story of my life), and where color tended to matter, and I felt that the new monitor was slowing me down.  I haven’t switched back to the e-ink monitor yet, partly because I am still recovering from the burst.

However I look forward to using the e-ink monitor more during this summer, especially outdoors.  Here the fact that it’s usb powered will be essential.  In the MBTA project they use solar power which I think is really cool and makes me think of bringing my monitor to the secluded off-the-grid cabin in Maine I don’t have.

A dream come true, sort of: E-ink monitors

Spending your life staring at a (traditional) computer screen may not be ideal for your eyes (and more); so since an early age I have been dreaming of a “purely mechanical” monitor that you could stare at more or less indefinitely, like at parchment.

This dream is now becoming reality, sort of.  The Dasung E-ink monitor has no backlight and instead reportedly uses electric flows to move ink droplets.

After some consideration, spending yet more hours reading reviews online and watching youtube videos about it sealed the deal.  I shelled out $1300 and bought the thing.

I have had it for a few days now and I am sort of happy. I went from using a giant 30-inch monitor far away (my theory for avoiding eye strain) to using a ~13-inch monitor at pretty much the same distance as reading a book. I had to avoid sunlight, now I seek it (see the picture).

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The monitor makes your computer look like Windows 3.1 on a monochrome screen from the 80’s. The refresh is slow, and there is a ghosting effect, meaning there are shadows of previous images — which you can clear out. Also, it’s 4:3 instead of 16:9, which is a pain because it means I have to change resolution when I am forced to use my other monitor (for example if I have to check colors — the screen is gray-scale, did I mention that?). It makes browsing the internet quite painful, which is a nice side effect.

Contrary to advice, I am using it as my primary monitor. I am sort of happy with it and don’t regret buying it. I have started writing and reading papers with it and it’s working well enough.

I think as soon as the technology improves the market for these things will be huge.  Already having a 17″ monitor in 16:9 ratio, ideally touch-screen, even if gray scale, would be a dream come true.