Two Weeks with Microsoft Band 2

First off, all the sensors and technology in the first Microsoft Band is still in the new 2015 version, but now we have a barometer too, taking the count up to eleven.

  1. Heart rate monitor
  2. GPS
  3. Accelerometer
  4. Gyrometer
  5. Light sensor
  6. Microphone
  7. UV sensors
  8. Thermometer
  9. Capacitive sensor
  10. Galvanic skin response
  11. Barometer

The real changes are in how the device feels on my wrist.

The screen is now curved and made of glass, the main body is now metal and also curves around the wrist. The band itself is now significantly more flexible (as it doesn’t include the batteries) and the overall experience is one of a much higher quality device.

New Microsoft Band

I didn’t really have any problems with the original device feeling too bulky at the time, but when compared to this updated version it would be hard to go back.

There are other less obvious changes too. The software on the device is much nicer to use – the team has clearly been listening to feedback and made various screens much more useful. An example is pausing a run. The previous version was all too easy to accidently end the run by brushing the screen with your finger by mistake – now you need to swipe across and press the end run button.

The existing sensors have also been put to better use too. You can now set alerts for UV and use a smart alarm feature to wake up at the optimal time. Very handy.

Microsoft’s approach to personal health has changed recently with the shuttering of the MSN Health & Fitness app, and I’m hoping that they bulk up their new Microsoft Health offering with more of the smart insights we were promised – but I’ll save that discussion for another day… hopefully when the long awaited universal version of the app comes out for the Windows 10 desktop. It’s soon, right?

Microsoft Band 2

Using the Microsoft Band has helped me get fitter and feel healthier. The Band 2 does all of that and packs it all into a better looking and higher quality package.

I recommend it.

Launch PowerShell with AutoHotkey

Sometimes nerds like me just need to open PowerShell as fast as possible.

This is very easy to achieve thanks to AutoHotkey – a very popular desktop automation application for Windows.

First install AutoHotkey from their website. Modern Windows machines just want the x64 + Unicode option when installing, if in doubt check their help documentation.

Once you’ve got it installed you need to create a new file for the script. For me, I created a new file called PowerShell.ahk in my scripts directory using gvim – but you can use your editor of choice and place it wherever you like.

Inside the file enter the following script:

#+p::
   Run, PowerShell
Return

The # is the symbol used for the Windows key, the + is the symbol used for shift, and the p stands for PowerShell. On then next line I’ve put Run, PowerShell and that’s it.

This means we are set up to run PowerShell when we press WIN + SHIFT + P.

Obviously you can do a lot more than just this, and for me starting PowerShell like that is not enough – I really dislike that blue background they use by default.

I have already set myself up with a nicely customised shortcut to PowerShell which I keep in my scripts folder and syncronise across machines. This includes the font and colour options I prefer.

#+p::
   Run, C:\Users\Julian\Scripts\PowerShell.lnk
Return

However you decided to script it, you just need to double click the PowerShell.ahk file when you’re done and AutoHotkey will register the combination for you.

There you have it! A super fast way to bring up a PowerShell prompt whenever you need it.