Surface 3 and Windows 10 “Touch is Right Click” Workaround

After upgrading my Surface 3 to Windows 10, a very annoying bug surfaced where I’ll be writing with the pen and all of a sudden any and all touches (pen or finger) are interpreted as right clicks.

For a few days, my only recourse was restarting.

I have since learned that you can avoid a reboot by going into Device Manager and Disabling/Enabling the Surface TouchScreen Device (Human Interface Devices -> Surface TouchScreen Device).

Here’s a PowerShell script I now have hooked up to a keyboard shortcut for when it happens again:

$touchScreenDevice = gwmi Win32_PNPEntity -Filter "Name='Surface TouchScreen Device'"
if ($touchScreenDevice)
    write-host Found Touchscreen Device, Disabling...
    $null = $touchScreenDevice.Disable()

    write-host Enabling Touchscreen Device...
    $null = $touchScreenDevice.Enable()

    write-host done!

I hope this helps everyone else running into this frustrating problem!


Surface 3 on Vacation

I’ve had my Surface 3 (4GB of RAM model) since the day it was released, use it heavily daily for both work and home, and love it.  This past week it has taken its first road trip, vacation, and I couldn’t be happier with it.

Devices, Devices, Devices

Replacing my laptop on a trip isn’t an easy task for a tablet.  I take lots of photos and lots of video, which means I need to be able to pull this data off of a few different sources (Canon 7D, GoPro, and Sony camcorder).  Then there’s the sheer bulk of data to deal with, over 100GB on this trip the last I looked.  Rather than trying to fit everything in the 45GB free on the Surface (by shooting less, deleting more, etc.), I decided from the start to store everything on my USB 3 2TB Western Digital My Passport external hard drive.

The Surface 3 has a single USB 3 port and a USB On-the-Go port.  Unfortunately, I didn’t put much thinking into how I was going to hook everything up until the day before we left and I was unable to purchase an On-the-Go adapter.  So, in order to get everything attached (CF card reader, external hard drive, second external hard drive for Lightroom import backups, and possibly simultaneously the camcorder), I ran to the store and picked up a small USB 3 hub by J5Create.  I’ve had terrible experiences with USB hubs, but so far this one has worked admirably.

Surface 3 and Devices Attached
A typical import setup, minus the camcorder.

The Surface 3 was handled simultaneous photo import, copying to an external hard drive, with import backups going to second hard drive.  Many times, I was also copying video off both the microSD slot on the Surface to the external hard drive and the camcorder via USB to the external hard drive.  The Surface 3 handled it all incredibly well.

Lightroom and Smart Previews

My setup has the Lightroom catalog residing on the Surface 3, but the photos on the external hard drive for capacity reasons.  I initially thought I would just have to edit photos with the external hard drive attached, until I remembered a feature I’ve never used introduced in Lightroom 5 called Smart Previews.  Once configured, after import and while the external hard drive is still attached, Lightroom generates smaller versions of the full-sized photos you can view/edit/export when the originals are offline (the hard drive detached).

Generating the Smart Previews takes a while, so I usually kicked off the import as we were unloading at the cabin after a day out swimming or sight seeing.

Once the import and preview generation was complete, I put away all of the devices and was able to edit photos as time allowed.  Lightroom 6 has an excellent Tablet Mode for editing which I took extensive use of while laying in bed at the end of the day.

Wrap Up

The combination of the Surface 3’s ability to handle many devices at once and Lightroom’s Smart Previews and Tablet Mode make the Surface 3 an excellent travel companion.

If you’re contemplating a Surface 3 but the Atom processor name worries you, like it did me, fear not.



My Painful Experience with Microsoft Surface Support

This all started when my Surface RT’s screen cracked. I was using the device just minutes before picking it up and finding the screen shattered – I still have no idea what happened, but that is besides the point.

I briefly chatted with support,who explained the cost. They agreed to take a look at it and determine if it was my fault, and if so they were supposed to call me to authorize repair. $300, fyi.

While setting up the service, they ran into a problem which took a day to clear up. My device, a prior replacement due to video-out problems, was marked as an Enterprise device which apparently causes problems.

So I sent my Surface in, and waited for a call. And waited, and waited. A little over a week later, my device arrived back at the house.

With a letter explaining it was my fault and instructions on how to setup service.

And to top it off, they applied numerous little sticker arrows pointing to the cracks. As if I didn’t know the problem!


After another round of support, I sent it off AGAIN. It was mailed on May 9th and delivered on the 13th. Repair is supposed to take 8-10 business days.

It has now been 12 business days, the status online hasn’t even acknowledged they received it, my Escalation Engineer says there is an “internal issue” preventing them from shipping, all I am told is “we are sorry”, and there is absolutely no ETA.

For all I know, I won’t have this thing back by Christmas.

Why, Microsoft?

Or, rather: Why Microsoft?

Nice way to treat your early adopters.

Update 5/31/2013:

At the behest of @surface, I emailed my Customer Care Advocacy Specialist last night, asking for more information.  I just received a response:

Dear Eric:

We have received your device, but the internal issue is preventing us from processing your device. Since we can’t process your device there are limitations to shipping a replacement. I understand this issue isn’t providing the best customer experience and I am deeply apologetic for that. However, I assure you were doing everything we can to get this issue resolved as quickly as possible.

So Microsoft is holding my Surface in limbo.  It sounds like they’re just going to ship a replacement, but are waiting to fix an internal issue before doing so.  Excuse me?  You can’t send a replacement and fix your problem on your own time?  Seriously?

I don’t think this is how you’re supposed to act when you’re getting your butt kicked in a market you showed up 3 years late to.

Update 2, 5/31/2013:

Yay, an official mention of no ETA:

Unfortunately, I don’t have an ETA when this issue will be resolved, and our system is setup to receive an item and then ship a replacement.

I understand my apologies are becoming redundant but I do apologize for this inconvenience and want this issue resolved for you as soon as possible. I am doing everything I can.

Thank you for your continued patience.

I think I sense sarcasm in that last line.


Update 6/5/2013:

Today I finally received my replacement Surface.  Thanks for taking your sweet time, Microsoft.  Here’s to hoping nobody else has to deal with that.

Brother HL-1440 Driver for Windows RT

Now that I have a Microsoft Surface, one of the things I should be able to do from my tablet is print.  Our iPads don’t support printing to our old (almost 10 years) Brother HL-1440 Laser Printer, so I was a little skeptical that I would be able to find a driver for Windows RT (ARM-based).

I gave it a shot and, after testing a couple of the built-in drivers, hit upon the  “Brother Laser Type 1 Class Driver”. It works!