SkyDrive, Outlook, Photos

I am really enjoying saving files, like photos, to the Cloud. In this case I am referring to SkyDrive. It is awesome. A great starting point on this for me was to get a Windows 8 phone (a Lumia 920). SkyDrive is basically a way to save your files off the phone. This is good in case something bad happens to the phone (is stolen, for example), or if quick access to these files is needed from another computer. Another way to see the benefits of this (somewhat) new Cloud based service is Outlook.Com. This is or was Hotmail or Live.com email. Hotmail can be converted to the new Outlook.Com interface. I recommend this. It may take a few minutes to get used to but it works very well.

Once in the web based Outlook, you can easily navigate amongst these items:
Mail, People, Calendar, SkyDrive

The secret is in the upper left hand, specifically at the arrow. Once the arrow is clicked, you will see these options. My recently taken photos show up automatically in SkyDrive. From here, they can be seen at any computer. Very nice!

Microsoft’s SkyDrive Introduction

Microsoft and The Cloud

Well, everybody and their dog has heard all the hype about “The Cloud” lately. And it is for good reason. Sooner or later, much or all of your content will exist in the Cloud. What is “The Cloud”? The Cloud used to be known as off site backup. For businesses or most medium to large organizations, this has been critical for many years or decades now. Systems Administrators (like me!) have fought long and hard to get Owners and CEO types to approve datacenter or colocation contracts. This is basically rented rackspace for server storage. You connect your office to this leased or rented rackspace, and voila, you have colocation. It is more complicated than this, in no small part due to networking considerations. Moving large data chunk can be a challenge.
Some organizations do not have servers onsite or in their office. They connect to a colocation facility from the get go. This is a good and safe way to set up infrastructure, but a very solid connection between the 2 sites is required, as applications, email, and databases will require this in order to be used. Also, not all datacenters are created equally. Some are more natural disaster proof and have 24/7 security, while others do not. Some organizations only use colocation for backups. Their servers are located in offices and backups are done nightly or so to the colocation. This is a decent way to do business, but if a floor or power outage takes these servers out, then there better be colocation backups available and ready for use! Another common scenario is a mix of the above. More and more organizations are moving not just data but applications to the Cloud. But it takes careful  planning and analysis.
I have installed Windows Server 2012 beta. It is very much a product of the modern age. It is heavily geared towards The Cloud and Cloud Services.

Heavy Duty Information on MS Server 2012 Cloud Services

Lumia 920 Windows Phone Will Not Connect to Laptop

I spent a few hours trying to connect my new Lumia 920, Windows 8 to my laptop. I had Zune installed and working with the previous Lumia 900 (Windows 7) series phone. I was able to synchronize pictures, music and contacts. However, when connecting the new phone, Zune did not recognize it whatsoever. I tried uninstalling Zune, then reinstalling, but that did not work. Research with coworkers and online showed that the specific USB cable that came WITH THE PHONE must be used and also that Zune appears to be on the way out for synching purposes.

So, even though another phone connector will actually plug into both the phone and the laptop correctly, it will not synchronize. It may charge via the USB, but that is all. I was keeping the connector that came with the phone in my laptop carry bag as a backup. I had a spare connector from the previous phone. That was the culprit.

Once I used the proper connector, my phone was immediately recognized and there was a link to the Windows Phone App for the Desktop.

Bing Takes on Google Ads

Maybe I should not be posting this on a GOOGLE Blog, but hell, it sure is interesting! Microsoft is using the term, “Scroogled” in order to compete with the mighty Google ad network.

“In the beginning, Google preached, “Don’t be evil“—but that changed on May 31, 2012. That’s when Google Shopping announced a new initiative. Simply put, all of their shopping results are now paid ads.
In their under-the-radar announcement, Google admits they’ve now built “a purely commercial model” that delivers listings ranked by “bid price.” Google Shopping is nothing more than a list of targeted ads that unsuspecting customers assume are search results. They call these “Product Listing Ads” a “truly great search.”
We say that when you limit choices and rank them by payment, consumers get Scroogled. For an honest search result, try Bing.
Don’t get Scroogled this holiday season. Watch the video Vent

Warn your friends now
Bing

Nokia Lumia 920 Gets Hot with Maps

I noticed my Nokia Lumia 920 with Windows 8 gets VERY hot sometimes. It becomes so hot on the backside, that I need to turn it off. It does not seem to be a deal breaker. In other words, it does not stop the smart phone’s functionality. It is the same as with many laptops, Windows or Macs. After much use, they sometimes can actually heat up noticeably on the bottom. This is especially true when dealing with heavy video editing or other heavy duty multimedia usage or work.

My Windows 8 Lumia 920 last night became extremely hot after using the Nokia Maps version 3.0. The good news is that the Nokia Maps app is awesome. It not only shows directions, it actually vocally points you in the right direction via voice. I love it. And it is free. I just wish it did not get so hot!

MACKLEMORE Thrift Shop

Ok, so it’s not really related to Windows technologies per se, and I’m probably too old to like this song, but Thrift Shop is a great song!

It is actually very creative. The video has a Delorean in it. How cool is that? The song mentions  jammies, honky, RKelley, grandpa style, velcro sneakers, Gucci, 99 cents, fur fox skin, Goodwill, mamie, and poppin’ tags. D’oh!

Wait, Macklemore is from Seattle, Washington, very close to Redmond. Now this makes sense!

Warning –  this song has multiple cuss words ;>

Macklemore Thrift Shop Video

Windows File Servers and Samba

It looks like a new Samba Server version is coming out. Samba has never been for the faint of heart. It is basically a technology or software used to bridge the gap between the Windows world and the Unix (Linux, really) world. Of course, it functions fine on its own, but many Administrators use it in mixed OS environments. It provides for similar functionality as Active Directory – in other words, user accounts and LDAP type of stuff. It utilizes the SMB Protocol to facilitate common file sharing as well.


“The Samba 4.0 file server contains an initial implementation of SMB3, which will be further developed in later Samba 4 releases into a fully-featured SMB3 clustered file server implementation,” the Samba team wrote. “Future developments of our SMB3 server and client suite, in combination with our expanding number of SMB3 tests, will keep driving the performance improvements and improved compatibility with Microsoft Windows that Samba users have come to expect from our software.”
Windows server with AD has been around since 2000 and the installed base is massive. While Samba will help enterprises deploy Linux as well, there’s no way Linux will immediately displace Windows out of the gate given the massive installed base and investments in the Active Directory infrastructure.
The availability of Samba 4 is a direct offspring of Microsoft’s antitrust settlement, which required the company to disclose specific protocols that the Samba team used.
But Microsoft went far beyond just releasing the protocols and has been helping the Samba team throughout the process — though slow and laborious as it was….”

The ZDNet Article here

Possible Dropbox Danger

More and people are looking to services like Dropbox as a way to quickly share documents. But there are dangers. Beware of security dangers!

“An example of such an exploit came to light this month, owing to a Dropbox employee having stored an unencrypted document on the service that contained Dropbox users’ email addresses. An attacker logged into the Dropbox employee’s account, using a password that the employee had reused on another–compromised–site, obtained a copy of the document, then used the email addresses to unleash a flood of spam at Dropbox users.”

This Information Week article spells it out.

Read About Dropbox

Print to PDF without Adobe

I am so tired of all Adobe software! Argggg.
It is bloated software and constantly has ongoing updates. It is not even an operating system and I am pretty sure it has more security and patch or enhancement updates than even Microsoft or Linux systems! Anyway, I was in need of some printing to PDF.

What is “printing to PDF”? For those who do not know: certain PDF related software is used to literally add a printer icon to your workstation. This software is installed and an icon is set up in your Printers folder so that you can “print” to it. Except it has nothing to do with printing. It just outputs the file to a .PDF. You pick where to save it. Pretty cool.

I recently ran into a situation where I needed to print to PDF. The catch? The need was on a server. I did not realize that you cannot use Acrobat Reader in order to print to PDF on a Windows Server 2008 (R2) system. Adobe Forum elders make it clear this has something to do with Licensing terms. As this was a test database server, I was not going to put a full licensed version of Adobe on this server. Only absolutely required software should go on a server, even a test one. After all, servers are not toys. So, I had to go somewhere else, away from the Adobe machine.

I remembered from several years ago that I used a very useful freeware piece called BullZip software for this very task, albeit on a standard PC. So I typed in bullzip.com to research and sure enough, it is still there. There is other software offered as well. I cannot vouch for the other programs, but BullZip PDF Printer is top notch. Not only is it still there, but I installed it on the server, tested it, and it works great. The download site let me know this freeware also works on Windows 8 and Server 2012. It appears they are forward thinking. This tells me they will be around for a long time!

Use and Support BullZip!

Outlook.Com Free Upgrade

If you are a Microsoft Hotmail user, then you will be seeing solicitations in your Inbox to upgrade to “Outlook.Com”. Basically, this is a new interface that streamlines some services, for example, SkyDrive, Calendar, Skype (coming soon). But really it is a harbinger of things to come or things that are already here: Windows 8.

If you have used Windows 8, as I have, then you will notice that Microsoft is merging the Metro styled interface across the board: on tablets, on PCs, on laptops, on phones, and …online.

Go directly to Microsoft’s Outlook site for any questions

Windows Phone for 1 Cent

I do not mean to seem like an AT&T advertisement, but this is a really good deal. It is a Windows based phone that costs 1 Cent. Here is the catch: it is refurbished. That should be pretty self explanatory, but if you are looking to get an essentially free Windows based phone, then this is the time. It is a web only offer, and of course, you need to sign up for a voice and data plan with AT&T.

Hey, it is at least worth investigating and comparison shopping.

AT&T Store for 1 Cent Phone

Windows Apps in Cloud

It looks like developers will are able to essentially save their custom built apps to the Cloud. This is intriguing for Developers across the Microsoft spectrum.

From ZDNet:

“One of the new development concepts introduced with Windows Phone 8 is compiling applications in the cloud. But what does this mean, exactly?
Among the hundred-plus developer sessions that Microsoft execs presented at the company’s Build 2012 conference (and which are now viewable for free by anyone, not just conference-goers) was one touching on Microsoft’s cloud-compilation strategy.
The Softies first mentioned intentions to provide compilation in the cloud in June 2012 — when Microsoft first opened up about some of the features coming in Windows Phone 8. Details were scarce, other than the fact that Microsoft, and not individual developers, was expected to be the one doing the compiling of apps once they were submitted for approval. Up until last week, Microsoft officials declined to say anything further about how cloud-compilation would work for Windows Phone.
(One thing we did know is that cloud compilation is/was part of Microsoft’s strategy to insure that existing Windows Phone 7.x apps work well on Windows Phone 8.)
There’s now more publicly available information. In addition to the aforementioned Build session, a new Microsoft Channel 9 “Going Deep” episode digs even further into cloud compilation, which Microsoft is advertising as enabling “really fast startup of Windows Phone 8 .Net apps.”

ZDNet Article

Microsoft Surface RT Sales

Microsoft Surface sales numbers higher than tought? Interesting opinion …

If Microsoft’s tablet has a sales problem — and let’s strut that I-F again — distribution is the reason. The product isn’t overpriced or flawed. Microsoft only sells Surface through the company store; that’s online and (by my count) 66 retail shops. Sixty stores are in the continental United States, five in Canada and another in Puerto Rico. There are only a limited number of places anyone can buy the tablet, which limits how many the company can sell. What matters more is how many Microsoft sells per store. Pundits crying “fail” are nincompoops of the nth degree. If any of them bothered to look at Apple Store, they would understand.”

BeatNews Article