627 – Sleeping as Edge hits the ton

clip_image002Ever since Microsoft switched the Edge browser from its own page rendering technology to instead use the open-source Chromium, it benefits from regular rolling updates and the version number keeps increasing to match. If you use Edge already, you can see what release you have by going to the “…” menu > Help and Feedback > About Microsoft Edge or paste edge://settings/help into the address bar.

The release number ticked over from 99 to 100 recently, causing a few legacy websites to fall over: when you visit any site, your browser’s User Agent String identifies to the web server what type of client it’s dealing with, including the version number (so the server can modify the page to suit the client, if necessary).

In Shades of Y2K, a few sites balked at a browser showing up with a 3-digit number – if you have problems with any, you could make Edge stick to telling sites it’s running v99 – go to edge://flags/#force-major-version-to-minor on the address bar. Mozilla – creators of the Firefox browser which also uses Chromium – tracked known issues in sites and which ones have been fixed.

As well as taking whatever goodies come from the evolution of Chromium, the Edge development team can devote more of their time building stuff with a view to making Edge better than other browsers.

clip_image004One feature which made it into Edge a while back is sleeping tabs; meaning open tabs you haven’t used it for a while can be put into an inactive mode and consume less memory, CPU and ultimately, power.

Look in Task Manager (CTRL+SHIFT+ESC) and you’ll likely see lots of entries underneath the Edge application; some are processes in support of the overall app, Extensions and the like, but you’ll also see each Tab appear separately. If you think Edge is running amok, it’s worth looking here to see if some specific site is chewing up CPU and consuming lots of memory.

clip_image006Tab sleeping has been updated and given extra capabilities to manage tabs which are inter-connected, reckoned to mean that 8% more tabs will be put to sleep. When a tab is dozing, it typically saves 99% of CPU and 85% of memory compared to when running.

Other updates which came into v100 include some changes to handling of PDF files and some tweaks to policy-based control and other improvements to the way the browser works.

The Performance view on sleeping tabs Is rolling out now; if you don’t see it in Settings, then sit tight, or try visiting the Edge Insiders site and install one of the test versions, either Canary (daily updates – not really recommended for the average user), Dev or Beta; pre-release and stable versions of the browser can be run side-by-side so there’s low risk in having both on your machine.

For more information on browser evollution, keep an eye on the release notes for the Beta channel and watch the release schedule for when to expect further browser updates. There’s a feature tracker too, to see what’s in development and learn what’s coming, and summary news is regularly shared via the What’s New blog.

Tip o’ the Week 327 – To sleep, perchance to dream

clip_image001Some old bard, about 4 centuries ago, wrote about sleep. We all know how important sleep is, for us organic life forms as well as for our intelligent devices.

The Windows Insider program is delivering various new builds to improve battery life for Windows 10 PCs & tablets that use “modern standby(the mode previously known as “connected standby”) that lets them stay on the network and update certain data feeds whilst ostensibly being in sleep mode.

Surface 4 and Book machines have had a few issues with sleep, but recent firmware updates should sort that out.

As for the organic machine, there’s plenty of advice on getting better sleep. Problem page gurus warn against drinking coffee or caffeinated tea after lunch, recommend eschewing alcohol & talk about avoiding “screen time” up to 2 hours before bed in order to fall asleep more easily and get a better quality of sleep while you’re there.

The Microsoft Band 2 does a good job of tracking its wearer’s sleep, either through detecting that you’re in the land of nod, or by the user initiating the sleep mode. The auto-detect function is there for times when you’re too tired/drunk/forgetful to remember to tap the sleep tile on the Band before dropping off, but there are other clip_image002benefits to using the sleep tile proactively – the Band will report your “sleep restoration” (which it doesn’t when auto-detecting), the screen is turned off (as is auto-rotate, which otherwise might be showing you the time), the Band itself will go into Do Not Disturb mode so you won’t get any notifications during the night, and the Bluetooth link to your phone is switched off to save battery power too.

clip_image003Further refinements to the Microsoft Health Dashboard are on their way too; the competitive amongst you may already compare quality and duration of sleep with your partner if you’re both wearing Microsoft Bands, but you’ll soon be able to set yourself targets for sleep duration & quality, get the band to remind you to start winding down for bed, report on how well you’re doing against your targets and so on.

The advice on reducing screen time before bed is partly because reading email or other things that stimulate your mind won’t let you doze off easily, but also because the device you’re using to do the reading might be fooling your brain into thinking it’s still daylight. The LCD/LED screens used by lots of devices – PCs, tablets, phones etc – have a bright, blue/white light that apparently stimulates the noggin in ways you don’t want as you’re about to drop off. Agony Aunts say, don’t use that technology in your bedroom at all, but there could be a better way, if you’re a habitual browser dans le lit.

4 years ago, ToW talked about the “colour of time”, and the same tool/advice is still very useful today – F.Lux is an app that runs on Windows PCs (and versions are available for Macs, iOS, Android & Linux).

clip_image004It’s simple to install & use, and could help to reduce the glare on your laptop if you’re working after sunset, so that when it’s time to go to bed, you’re not still wired. There’s little hard scientific fact that it works as described, but there’s plenty of opinion that it does – and since it’s free, it’s worth a whirl. At first, it looks a bit weird & pink, but you soon get used to is as your eyes adjust.

Install it on your tablet, turn up the wick on its dim settings, and use it happily in the sack without fear of staying awake all night worrying. Unless, of course, you’ve got something to worry about.