Microsoft Azure Advisor is a super useful tool to help administrators obtain pertinent recommendations for improvement of services. It is used in order to work towards obtaining best practices. Azure will occasionally prompt administrators upon log in, but to get to it manually, simply type in “advisor” on the home screen search.
The categories focus on cost, security, reliability (aka, high availability), operational excellence, and performance. In a perfect world, we would always see all these wonderful green check marks, as below. Admittedly my ever-changing Azure account is currently limited, so the green was easy in this case. It is normally not unusual to see low, medium and high level recommendations, with descriptions of their impact on services.
I found this neat little game, called “Surf”, that can be played right within the Microsoft Edge web browser. It is very basic, but it is pretty darn fun. This takes web surfing to another level (cheesy, I know).
Within Edge browser, type this to turn it on:
Surf is a very basic arrow and spacebar driven game, with a timed surf race competition. That is all. Surf away!
The Microsoft Xbox Project xCloud is in Preview. It looks very cool, although will only be available to stream off Android phones and tablets at this point. XBOX will be offering 50 Xbox games. The idea is to stream directly from the cloud. Watch your mobile data billing on this one!
They are actively seeking testers “to help shape the future of game streaming”.
If you ever had the relatively common issue with Windows 10 desktop right-click failing, I may have an answer. I had the displeasure of this occurring recently on my Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5. This is a fine 2-in-1 computer. It is really nice, both in tablet mode [after folding over] or in traditional laptop mode. But after a year of Android and Visual Studio and other bulky application installs, it started to get cluttered with software, an issue of my own making. So, time for a refresh! I verified everything I needed was already synced or backed up to One Drive.
I reset my Windows 10, mainly to refresh my system so that it was like brand new. I went through the “Reset this PC” process successfully. Mission accomplished. One glitch after completion: while trying to get to the simple desktop personalization settings to extend my 2nd monitor, I noticed that right-clicking was not working. It even locked up my laptop completely a few times. In addition, sometimes it WOULD open after about 20 seconds, although sometimes not at all. It was driving me crazy. I restarted multiple times. Should I clean things up a bit on the OS? There was nothing to clean up, as this was literally a fresh install.
I did the usual Internet searches. I tried Google and Microsoft’s support pages, but kept getting odd answers, such as “reset your system” [hey, I JUST did that!] or “just go into the registry and make a simple change”! I am not scared of the Registry, but there is NO WAY this should be needed in order to fix what SEEMED to be a Microsoft related issue. Microsoft has had its fair share of issues over the years [for sure!] but right-clicking on the desktop is not one of them. So I checked the Event Viewer and noticed it was mostly clean, with the usual assortment of harmless warnings and generally useless “Information / Service Control Manager” events … except for ONE that stood out:
Now this one was interesting. The log error is a red error, and it is non stop, essentially flooding my event viewer since I reset the Lenovo’s Windows 10. I assumed if I simply updated Nvidia software, all would be good, but alas, their update tool told me I was up to date. The only thing to try was completely removing the NVidia software – all of it, then maybe reinstall. There is a control panel and a display driver. You will NOT lose graphics or your monitor view if you do this. If anything, Windows will default to generic drivers. But the reality is that my laptop, like so many modern laptops has TWO graphics interfaces [usually Intel and NVidia], per below image. Why two? Intel handles most graphics tasks. NVidia is used mainly for highly intensive tasks, such as gaming or video editing, maybe 3D. I do not work with those tasks, so I removed every NVidia application from the Windows 10 “Add or remove programs”. Success! I can now right-click on my Windows 10 desktop, and it feels so good! I will not be reinstalling NVidia software any time soon until they can fix this.
I also feel better not having a flood of NVidia related error messages in Event Viewer. All the red errors are now gone. Sometimes people lash out at Microsoft for things like this, despite the root cause of the issue emanating from a graphics or other hardware vendor.
Whether you like Microsoft Teams or not, it is set to auto-start with most newer versions of Microsoft Office or Office 365. Even if you do use Teams, you may not want it starting automatically every time your computer boots up and you log in. To keep Teams from opening automatically, check out these simple instructions.
On Tuesday, April 21, 2020 Microsoft’s premier Software as a Service (SaaS) offering officially becomes Microsoft 365. It is a very interesting change, considering how incredibly popular Office 365 is. There must be some high-level branding change going on in Redmond, Washington. Regardless, it will be … Microsoft 365. I am sure people will be calling it “Office” or “Office 365” for years to come!
I have not worked with Windows 7 in quite a while, but lately I have learned that Microsoft has been very generous with a FREE Windows 10 upgrade. So long as you have a viable, licensed copy of Windows 7 on your computer, it should be doable. Many older PCs or laptops have the license key on the outside of the machine.
It is surprisingly easy to upgrade although it can take a few hours, depending on the age of your computer and your Internet speed.
The free upgrade to Windows 10 essentially all happens within the Media installation tool. It will assess your current computer and/or operating system and then download the full Windows 10 operating system. You can also download an image to a USB flash drive and boot straight off of that. But if you want to do an in-place upgrade while logged into your Windows 7 computer, the Media tool is easiest. Back up all your files to a USB drive etc. or to the Cloud [Microsoft One Drive, Google Cloud or similar]. Again, you can upgrade your computer to Windows 10 while logged into your Windows 7. You should not lose any files, but back up all the files beforehand to be safe.
This is the link to the Media installation tool. Go to the “Download tool now” or the “using the tool to upgrade this PC to Windows 10” link for more information.
The Outlook “Sweep” function is your friend. Do you get bundles of emails from the same business, organization, vendor etc.? Do they add up over time to mountains of mostly meaningless information? Me too! Although one can argue that Outlook can be a receptacle for endless amounts of email, I prefer a neater, tidy Inbox. Some of this is simply a reflection of my personality. But I have noticed times when searching for an actual IMPORTANT email can get challenging due to the high volume of needless emails blurring the search results.
Again, the Outlook Sweep tool is NOT intended for important emails. But when I get endless coupons from CVS, Walmart or never ending political or fundraising email solicitations, it is time to train my Outlook to dispose of these emails after a certain amount of time. In this example, I decided to move Wells Fargo bank emails of a certain sort [email@example.com] – they tend to be Marketing oriented with a sprinkling of services or feature enhancements etc. The emails may be useful occasionally, but not mission critical in my life. So, I do not quite want to unsubscribe completely [again, there MAY be a useful tidbit every now and then] but I certainly do not need these emails hanging around for years!
This is for the personal, free Microsoft Outlook. In the Inbox, I just select the email in question, choose Sweep, then send to Deleted, but only after 10 days. There are several options, but this is the one I like. If I have not checked the email within 10 days, then I do not need it. Use carefully, be sure NOT to use this with important emails.
This new online Microsoft poster is an excellent overview of all the certifications available with Microsoft in 2019-2020 and beyond. In my opinion, it is really laid out nicely and I appreciate their clarity with the top level 4 categories:
Apps and Infrastructure; Data and AI; Modern Workplace; Business Application
I personally am focused on the “Apps and Infrastructure”, as that is more in line with my Systems Administration background. But honestly all four areas are very interesting. I have already completed AZ-900 and am now focusing on the Azure Administrator – the below is only a snippet of the entire poster, which lays out possible career paths for all levels of Windows IT pros.