Scrolling Content in MS Windows without Focus (KatMouse)

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I’ve continue to keep one foot in the MS Windows world and the other in the Apple OS X world for several years. At home I primarily use Macs though I also had a Windows server and I still use a VM to run some Windows-only software. At work I was using OS X as my primary system though I recently switched to a Windows 7 system (note that I still use Macs for other purposes). Even when I used a Mac at work as my primary system I still used several Windows VMs.

Since moving to a Windows system as my main work computer I’ve found a few small ways to continuing using some of the features of OS X that I really like. One of those features is the ability to scroll content in a window that doesn’t have focus.

For those of you not familiar with this capability, it allows one to move a mouse cursor over a window that doesn’t have focus but does have content that can be scrolled. Instead of clicking to give the window focus in OS X I could simply scroll the content using the mouse wheel (or the multi-touch features of a Magic Mouse or trackpad). It may not seem like a big deal but it actually saves a little bit of time and effort over the course of a day when working across multiple monitors. I quickly realized that lacking this feature subtly disrupted my efficiency.

Fortunately, I was able to find a free utility that adds this feature to Windows. It’s named KatMouse and is managed by Eduard Hiti. I encourage anyone that finds this tool useful to donate to the author.

KatMouse

Keeping FaceTime Windows On Top (OS X and FaceTime 1.1.1)

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Last night I was sharing a FaceTime session with my wife via my MacBook Pro. In addition, I was also looking up some information in a Web browser. Several times I was annoyed that the FaceTime window kept falling behind other open program windows.

FaceTime (version 1.1.1) for Mac doesn’t appear to have an option to keep the windows on top. I’m not sure if this was an intentional UI decision or just an oversight – chat programs often have this capability. It’s probably something that will be added in the future but until then I found a solution by installing a program that I’ve used in the past.

Afloat works as an add-on that provides a handful of new window controls, including the ability to keep a window on top for programs that do not have this option built-in. The program is free and the current version works in Snow Leopard and Lion. It works directly from Window menu item. It doesn’t support every program (I didn’t see it appear in Firefox, but it did show up in Acrobat Pro and FaceTime).

Afloat 2.4 (Snow Leopard and Lion) – Developer Website

Scion tC 2006 Window Won’t Roll Up (Problem Identified – Not Resolved)

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In a recent post I mentioned a problem with our Scion tC’s driver-side window not working properly, though I didn’t go into many details. Several months ago her window stopped working and she wasn’t able to roll it back up. It would go about halfway and then stop. I pulled the door panel off and started poking around. It was a learning experience – I’m not a mechanic and though I will do some work on our cars I’d prefer to have a repair manual. As far as I can tell there aren’t any Hanes or similar manuals for the Scion line (at least none that we can afford).

The day the window failed I was able to guide the window back into place once I realized the front part of the window was sliding in between the rubber guide and the door. I then disabled the window control.

Since then I’ve explored the problem and I eventually discovered the cause. The window track was bent out of shape and crushed by a metal piece of the door (at the front, where it connects to the body). Based on other people’s forum posts, and what I could see of the damage, the door was opened so far that a part inside the door was bent out of position and into the track.

I made an attempt to fix it but I ran into a stumbling block that I haven’t tried to resolve, yet. My final plan was to remove the speaker in the door so I could access the window track and door piece and bend them back into position. Well, it turns out that instead of screws the speakers are attached with rivets. Removing the speaker requires that I purchase a rivet gun and the correct rivets or find screws that will work (or build a new mount for the speakers). I’m not certain what we’re going to do but at least we know what the problem is.

We figured out that the problem was caused when a strong gust of wind caught the door and pulled it open too far.

Updated 10/04/2011: We took the car to a body shop in our town but the result wasn’t encouraging. The shop told us that we’d have to buy a used door (estimated at about $150-$250), which they would remove the replacement part from. Labor was estimated at $150. The door estimate is better than I’ve seen in many forum posts, but it still seems unnecessary. In the end, I think it’s probably only the window track that needs to be replaced and that there’s got to be some place we can get one for less.

In several different forum posts individuals reported getting a body shop to simply bend the part back into place. I had the sense that the body shop hadn’t considered this. It’s possible the part is bent to a point at which it wouldn’t be useful, but this was never mentioned.

But then, I’m not an expert on automotive repairs.

We’re not sure if we’re taking her car back there to get it fixed. Aside from a few other things about the experience that didn’t leave us with a good feeling, I was uncertain why the owner wasn’t able to figure out how I had disabled the window, especially after I tried to tell him more than once exactly what I did (he also didn’t understand why I didn’t just unplug the cable but the reason is simple – I wanted the door lock and the passenger-side window controls to still function).

At the least, we’ll probably check another local shop for a second estimate.

Updated 06/25/2012: Just in case you were wondering we still haven’t found a good fix for this problem…

Disabling a Scion tC 2006 Front Window Switch

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My wife’s driver side window recently stopped working properly. Since it happened we determined that the window track was bent when a gust of wind caught the door and forced it open too far. Not long after this she rolled down her window and then discovered that it wouldn’t roll back up.

I was able to get the window back up but I needed to find a way to prevent it from being rolled down accidentally, until we could fix the problem. One solution would be to just unplug the controls, but that would have disconnected the lock and passenger side window controls as well.

I found a relatively simple way to do this. Essentially, I popped the controls out of the door and disabled the driver’s side window by placing electrical tape over the contacts.

Here’s a side-view of the controls removed from the door. I used a small flat-tip screwdriver to push up on the black plastic to get the white tabs out.

The last photo shows where I covered the contacts with electrical tape. This prevented the buttons from working.