Surface Pro 4: Episode 5

Continuing my adventures with my Surface Pro 4 ….

I observed today that  one of the main sources of “mystery menus” appearing is when my left hand touches the bottom left of the screen unexpectedly. I’ll just have to get used to avoiding that one in particular.

I rebooted the machine yesterday hoping that this would leave it in the best possible state for today’s lecture. But when I got to the room today the Surface Pro 4 could not detect the pen or my hand. Only my mouse worked. Fortunately the machine is fast, and rebooting was very quick. (It is just as well the machine didn’t have lots of updates to install though!)  After that I had no problems with the pen, and (as mentioned above) touch was working a bit too well!

One student (so far) has pointed out politely that my handwriting can be difficult to read. Looking at recent classes, I can see that I should try to keep the writing big, and perhaps avoid the temptation to cram too many comments between the lines of my PDF skeleton notes. Either that or practice a bit more! I could also consider printing instead of joined up writing, or just write slower. Not that my handwriting was ever that good, but I do feel it has become a little worse this year. Whether this is just aging, eyesight, lack of practice, or the machine’s doing is not obvious to me. I think I would have even more trouble with a smaller screen, though. So I don’t think I could get by with a Surface 3.

Adding new pages in Bluebeam is easy in theory: I just need to click on the blank page icon in the bottom right corner of the window. However I am finding it a little harder to click this icon than I used to. Either the pen/screen interaction needs re-calibrating, or I should use the mouse, or maybe just put my glasses on! I should certainly take my glasses with me when I go round the room in workshops, as I am finding it hard to see the students’ attempts properly otherwise.

My pace in today’s workshop (Workshop 4) was definitely off: we didn’t get through as much as I wanted. Fortunately the later questions were covered in previous years’ videos. (See for links to the G11FPM Echo360 video archives from the autumns of 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.) So anyone who does want to see the remaining details of this version of the proof of Bezout’s Lemma can find them there. (The whole workshop is devoted to slowly building up a proof of Bezout’s Lemma, with the students proving a set of easier facts first about sums of multiples of integers.)


4 responses to “Surface Pro 4: Episode 5

  1. I just corrected “left” to “right” above in
    “I just need to click on the blank page icon in the bottom right corner of the window”


  2. One way to give myself more room to write between the lines is to use the touch features to zoom in and out a bit. I’m going to try that! (But I’ll practice a bit first.)


  3. I’ve moved the taskbar to the top of the screen, as I don’t think I’ll be touching the screen there accidentally.


  4. Bluebeam does alter my inking shortly after I write something, presumably trying to smooth out the “vector” version. But in fact it does sometimes make things worse. The writing becomes thinner, and gaps appear in some of the strokes, though they do all become smoother. I have tried googling for this, and there are a number of settings that I can change. (In settings, under Tablet: Pressure sensitivity, Pen Commitment Interval,and under Rendering, “Enhance Thin Lines”.) But I haven’t been able to do anything to help with the ink-altering issue there. It might be a problem with the microsoft pen drivers in the end. But if anyone knows an answer, please tell me!


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