Windows Phones, Lumias

Interesting piece on the latest Windows Phones. Microsoft continues to struggle in finding their place in the smart phone world. It is too bad, because personally, I think they are fantastic overall.

“Microsoft Sacrifices Lumia 950 And 950 XL For A Stronger Surface Phone”

Announced in October 2015, and released a month later, the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL smartphones have not set the world alight. The first ‘out of the box’ Windows 10 powered smartphones occupy a curious pivot point in Microsoft’s plans. What do they tell us about the direction of Microsoft and how it will approach mobile in 2016?

Between them they represent the end of a line of smartphones that stretches back to Nokia’s 2011 decision to go with Windows Phone rather than Android, They also represent Microsoft’s future attitudes to smartphones as a single element of a wide range of Windows 10 powered devices all living on the same code-base, all sharing information, applications, and data, through Microsoft’s cloud-based services.

The two handsets build on past glories, and point the way towards a potential future. Unfortunately it is a very unclear future. With CEO Satya Nadella focusing on Microsoft’s software and cloud services it means that much of the functionality that made Windows Phone a commendable choice in the past is no longer exclusive to the Lumia handsets. You can run Microsoft’s cloud services on iOS and Android easily, and in terms of process and workflow there’s little difference between Windows, Android, and iOS.”

Read it here

Big Google

Is it me or is the ‘Google’ on the  search page much bigger than it used to be? I thought my browser window had been ‘zoomed’ to about 125% or similar. But it turns out, this is their new super-sized word logo ;> It takes getting used to, if you ask me.

But it does get them NOTICED, that much is certain.

goog

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Packs a Serious Punch

Yahoo is reporting the Microsoft plan to truly boost Surface Pro 4 power specs. It looks like it may be delayed a bit, but will be a force to reckon with, if specs are of importance.

“The device is supposed to pack some serious high-end specs, according to Venture Capital Post, including two size options (12-inch and 14-inch) with 2K resolution displays, Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processor options, 16GB of RAM and a stylus. However, these specs are yet to be confirmed.

Actual pricing details for Microsoft’s rumored laptops isn’t available at this time, but the Surface Pro 4 should be more expensive than the recently unveiled Surface 3.

A few days ago, Microsoft quietly announced the Surface 3, a 10.1-inch Windows tablet that costs just $499 and will be upgradeable to Windows 10 later this year.

A fall release for the Surface Pro 4 would likely mean a launch in line with Apple’s new iPads. In fact, Apple is rumored to launch a larger iPad of its own, the 12-inch iPad Pro, which might compete directly against Microsoft’s Surface Pro line.”

Yahoo article

Microsoft OneDrive now at 10 Gigabytes of Storage

I just received this email from Microsoft:

“We’re excited to announce that you can now upload files up to 10 GB from desktop, mobile, and the web! Our goal with OneDrive is to provide a single place for all your files, and we don’t want you to be limited by file size.

Thanks,
The OneDrive Team”

10 Gigabytes of Storage – yikes, I don’t know if I have that much. ;>

If you do not know what it is, “OneDrive” used to be “SkyDrive”, and it is a Microsoft Cloud based storage area. You can upload pictures, videos, files to OneDrive either as your main working space (as opposed to saving to the Desktop, for example) or it can be a backup area. Either way, this is free disk space essentially …

Windows App Favorite – Police Scanner 5-0

Well, we all have our app favorites. I admit that I am not an App fanatic per se, neither for my Windows Lumia 1020 nor for my new ASUS Windows 8 home laptop. I use the major Social Media Apps, like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and a few others. I use a few camera Apps for the awesome 41 Megapixel Camera on on my Lumia 1020. I like some news Apps, Musixmatch (better than Shazam, sorry!) and a few others, but my new favorite is a police scanner called ‘Police Scanner 5-0’. It has ‘police’ in the name, but also it covers fire + EMT. They cover a lot of areas in the USA and throughout the world. Sometimes you hear sirens in the distance and you just have to find out EMS, police or fire fighting information! Or you just tune in to a local service or elsewhere for curiosity sake! Great fun.

The Windows App is here:

http://www.windowsphone.com/en-us/store/app/police-scanner-5-0-radio/1d10b430-98f7-4299-8a0d-f6551d58c060

Remote Desktop Printer Redirection

I had a Remote Desktop stumper recently. My company has people all over the United States accessing some of our servers and services over the Internet. They log in with their Windows accounts and get busy on a few work applications. People really like the printer redirection functionality in MS Remote Desktop Services (RDS). This allows for printing from an RDS session straight to their local office printer. So local PC printers and their drivers are virtually ‘installed’ or redirected from the RDS session back to the PC – this allows for printing a report or spreadsheet to your office printer in Texas from a server being accessed via RDS in California. Pretty cool!

But one day this functionality stopped. It was a busy day and the issue was not considered a top priority, but given medium level status. I checked a few PCs via remote support (using TeamViewer) and did not see anything wrong with the local printers. Employees could print from their PC to their printers. So I restarted the print spooler service on the RDS server. This did not resolve it. I scoured the logs, checked the application settings and it printing requirements. I noticed the administrator printers were not being redirected, i.e. were not showing whatsoever. Normally on an RDS session you can check the profile’s printer folder and see you PC’s redirected printers readily available.

It turns out there was a service that had suddenly stopped causing the trouble. I had never heard of this service, as seen in this image (screen shot after I started it):

I resolved this issue after having gone into the Services panel: this is a viable, quick way to be sure services are running – sort the columns by startup type, get to the Automatic services and be sure the critical ones are running. Once I started it the issue was resolved. I am not sure why it stopped and also I need to verify whether or not I got an automated alert on this from my monitoring application (and overlooked it?) or if it was not logged for some reason. I will fix that to be sure I get notified as I do with other issues.

But the service is running and employees are printing again and that is a good thing!

Asus 15.6 inch is a Rocking Laptop

This ASUS 15.6″ laptop comes loaded with touchscreen option. I bought one for the wife, who is not a heavy PC user. She needs it for basics, like e-mail, moderate to heavy web surfing, some file storage on OneDrive. That’s mainly it, maybe a little YouTube video streaming to boot as well.
This is the best PC (laptop) deal I have EVER been a part of, and I have worked in I.T. for 15 years.
Again, this is for home use. Yes, the 4 GB of RAM could be better, but trust me, due to the efficiency of Windows 8 and the ASUS hardware capabilities, 4 is more than enough. And 500 Gigbytes hard drive? Wow. I believe in using Microsoft’s OneDrive for storage, but this is pretty nice if you have lots of video files!
Did I mention the price? It comes in at $379! No joke. Yes, BestBuy does everything to upsell you on service and warranty additions, but I kindly declined. It’s been 30 days, and this hybrid laptop / touchscreen is sweet as ever! My wife initially hated the idea of ‘touch’ (sounds weird, I know), but now I see her squinting at the screen, while constantly touching, zooming, swiping away! And you can also attach a keyboard and mouse as needed, AND it does have the traditional laptop scroll. That would 3 different mouse options if you’re keeping track.
For $379, you cannot go wrong.

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/asus-15-6-touch-screen-laptop-intel-pentium-4gb-memory-500gb-hard-drive-gray/3500039.p?id=1219091871536&skuId=3500039&st=categoryid$abcat0502000&cp=1&lp=4

FREE Microsoft Office Software?

Yeah, I know it’s incredible and a bit unbelievable, but it’s true – MS Office applications, the very latest, are available ONLINE for free. You open up what used to be called a Hotmail account, and you get Office Apps software for free. Instead of installing the Office software on your PC or laptop or tablet, the software is automatically embedded in your browser. Make sense? If not, who cares, it’s there for your free use regardless. Read on.

This includes the famous Microsoft WORD, EXCEL, POWERPOINT and more! It’s the best kept secret on the web. If you have a Hotmail account, but do not use it much, then check your account. Get the password reset if you have to or sign up for a new account. Or what about OUTLOOK? Yes, you can use that too! The ubiquitous email client that millions upon millions use for corporate e-mail is now Hotmail. Which is now Outlook. Really, it’s OUTLOOK.COM. Get it? Good. Log in.  Then look in the upper left hand corner and click the down pointing arrow. You will see the applications (software). But what about Outlook? Oh yeah, it’s there too. Obviously. It’s fully integrated!

No matter which application you are working or playing in, you can simply click the arrow button to get to another application. It’s always there, so long as you are logged in.

But, but, but what if you want to save a file in the “Cloud”? Yeah, it’s there too – it’s called OneDrive [formerly SkyDrive]. You just drag and drop files into it. I no longer save files on my Desktop – I just keep them on OneDrive. It’s like 5 Gigabytes (7?) of space for free.

How confusing?! Well, I admit to one fact: in my opinion Microsoft has done a TERRIBLE job advertising these kick ass applications widely and easily available on the web. I am in the I.T. field so I happen to take notice of these services, but when I mention to the wife, the in-laws, and some friends, they have no idea what I am talking about. These are semi tech savvy people – like most adults these days. How can Microsoft reach them with the above information? Time will tell, but I recommend some straightforward advertising with images like the one below and frequent mention of he word ‘INTEGRATED’! Maybe show real people navigating these apps? I like some of the Surface tablet ads, so maybe they can use those themes. Anyway …

This is what it looks like, per image below – all you do is sign up for your Hotmail or Outlook.Com email and then just start looking around, maybe create and save a test file.You have nothing to lose. Businesses will incur costs with steep usage, but that is a different story (Bing for Office 365). Oh, and what about Bing? Yeah, Bing is a solid search engine, and it turns out at the top of Bing is a link to Outlook.Com, which is fully integrated with the free software and storage, as seen below, an discussed above! I just have Bing.Com as my default home page. So, this mere 4 letter web site (B-I-N-G) is in fact a secret, super simple door to the world of the below.

Search this Blog or Bing for Windows Phone, which is also fully integrated with these services.

Server 2012 Hyper-V Enabling Replication Failure

A fantastic feature of Windows Server 2012 is Replication. For I.T. and other Admins who need to work in the trenches on failover and / or Disaster Recovery specifics, replication is a method of copying data from one server over to another in the event of a server failure or worse, a disaster (i.e. fire, earthquake, building flood, sabotage etc).

Windows Server Hyper-V is needed. It is, believe it or not, relatively straightforward if following the Microsoft link documentation on bottom of this post. One thing I forgot is enabling firewall rules for replication traffic! So when I finalized a replica set up, I got an ugly and inaccurate error mentioning something along the lines of “Enabling Replication Failed, be sure logon locally rights are assigned”. It’s an ugly error, BUT the fix is easy. This has nothing to do with log on rights, which is good for me, because I have Group Policies that lock the member servers down.

The documentation mentions enabling what is basically web port 80. Replication uses web ports. I naturally missed this on one of the servers – these rules need to be opened on BOTH the replica server sender and the replication receiver. Go into each Advanced firewall tool on your Datacenter server editions (sender + receiver), and verify like below. You do this for Inbound Rules. There are two needing to be enabled, per bottom of this screen shot.

Once I did this, one of my VMs replicated with no issues from one Datacenter server to another.
Happy replicating!

Hyper-V Replica Overview:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj134172.aspx

Disk Cleanup, system error memory dump files

Ever run a disk cleanup on, say, a Windows Vista system, for example? I got an older Toshiba Satellite laptop (5 years old). It’s on the slower side as applications and Internet in general require more and more resources over time. I started scanning, using Windows disk cleanup, and saw it stuck at ‘Scanning:system error memory dump files’ –>> 15 minutes upon Disk Cleanup. That’s WAY TOO LONG. What to do? I went into “Problem Reports and Solutions”, then Advanced Settings on the bottom. At ‘For all users, turn Windows problem or error reporting” = OFF.

Of course, these reports supposedly help in diagnosing issues, but they seem to clog the system up, at least on Vista OS. I have never once benefited from a WER report. At worse, WER can be turned on later. At best, you can speed up the Disk Clean Up process and maybe cleanup a little room (disk space) as well.

Internet Explorer Bing Bar

Ever decide to take the plunge and load up the “Bing Bar”? The Bing Bar seems to have everything conveniently located right at the top of Internet Explorer. It has quick links to Facebook, News, Weather, Search, Slacker Radio, Games etc. No wait! There’s more. I’m kidding. No, actually there is more. But that’s the point – they cram way too much into the Bing Bar. I love Bing, use it all the time. It makes for a great homepage.

But as for Bing Bar, guess what happens when you boot up your PC, and log in, then open IE? You wait. And wait. Some may consider the inconvenience of the delay in opening IE (5-20 seconds) worth it, because they use EVERYTHING on the Bing Bar. But I do not, and if you agree, get rid of it. The starting point: click the ‘X’ on left side of Bing Bar, and
agree to Disable (or at least hide it). Also, you want to Disable Bing Bar Helper.