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SharePoint MindsharpBlogs > Mike Walsh's WSS and more

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Apr 20
Although the title is positive, note that I will be talking about my experiences with a very small portable (10 inch) with consequently a very small keyboard and most importantly with a very small gap between having your finger on the TouchPad and having it on the screen.

I remain convinced that it would feel uncomfortable to use a touch screen on my massive 17 inch portable, let alone with a normal desktop keyboard and large screen combination.

So for me the question is where to draw the line and say up to here but no further. Apart from the cost question - the premium for touch screens for midrange portables is often far too high, and while high-end (Win 8) portables tend to include touch as a matter of course, these are in any case very pricey - there's also the question of whether you need some of the useful functionality of touch if your screen is already quite large; and, yes, finally that gap between you and the screen.

At a guess I'd say that touch may well be still very useful at 13 inch but no longer at 15.6 inch. But that's just me guessing wildly.

On a ten inch, it's turning out to be extremely useful to have touch.

First there are the situations where it is very useful to resize things in a controlled way impossible without the touch screen. This includes the more mundane examples such as Zinio magazines and "replicated" web versions of newspapers and magazines but also such things as Excel spreadsheets which unlike on my iPad I can actually modify and save thanks to the included Office 2013, yet modify requires you being able to clearly read the cells, something a controlled (and easy) zooming makes quickly possible without having to guess how much percentage to go for.

Secondly, once you have got used to using the touch screen for the above zoom actions you quickly find yourself using it for other things. For instance this is a slow machine and I've noticed on some web pages that the cursor isn't responsive until the entire page has been rendered. However you can touch a link on the screen (and it works) long before the screen is fully rendered.

In other words *without thinking* once I was used to using the screen with touch for magazines it became almost normal to sometimes use it for other things (and note that I've not mentioned clicking the large icons on the Modern home page because I tend to be always in desktop mode - this is after all a PC with a real keyboard and Windows 8.1 doesn't recognize the touch screen and thus puts me in the desktop when I start up.).

The point is that I am now using touch naturally and not as initially just to see if it worked. Once you start using something naturally (right-click, anyone) it becomes part of your working methods in a way that forcing yourself to go to the Modern home page doesn't.


Apr 14
I find it very useful that Chrome stores my Favorites in the cloud and gives me the same links in the same places when I load Chrome in different devices.

But I've just discovered that Microsoft are doing the same thing with at least some of the settings for Windows 8.1. (which I - as recommended - log in with my Microsoft password irrespective of which device I am using).

Now it so happens that on the desktop with two screens that I share with my wife, I had tried to give her a startup screen background of a black and white photograph of her father in a boat in the 1930's which I had found in her set of images in that machine. I'd failed in that whenever I had been the person using that PC before shutdown, that image appeared before an Enter gave the Password screen but if she had been the last user there was a more normal image on the screen.

I hadn't got round to fiddling with it so that was still the setting on that PC when I set around updating the new mini PC to Windows 8.1. which is probably a good thing otherwise I wouldn't have noticed that the mini PC was also showing that background image - a PC that you will remember didn't even have the file of that image in its hard disk!

This led to to wonder what else was copied across and then I noticed that the background I was using (orange) on the mini PC was the same as the one I had on the larger PC.

So next time I used the desktop I changed it (to a blue background) and at first I thought I'd cut the connection because when I opened the mini PC I had an orange background but after a few minutes my orange background had changed to the blue one. I wonder now how many other things are being used from that large PC and it's a pretty scary prospect because these are two completely different levels of PCs.

Even pushing the same desktop background used on a dual 24.inch screen setup used in perfect lighting conditions and driven by a good graphics card onto a ten inch screen of much less than 1920x1200 used in variable light seems overly optimistic to me. What is suitable for one is not necessarily suitable for the other.

Yet what other surprises are in store?

Microsoft, think again. What's good for browser favorites is not necessarily good for desktop settings.

P.S. This post was typed on a the Mini PC. The keyboard is actually quite good.


Apr 13
People who have read my recent posts will be wondering why - after having recently upgraded a newly bought desktop with Windows 8.1 already installed on it and then updating it to Windows 8.1 Update 1 - I can have the need to update from Windows 8 to 8.1.

The answer is regrettably simple and it goes back to a few points made in even earlier posts about Windows 8 / 8.1. portables.

1. Get a hybrid if the price difference isn't too much over a normal portable.

2. Get a portable with a touch screen if the price difference isn't too much over a portable with a non-touch screen.

3. At the low end, portables including Windows 8 can be had for not that much more than Windows 8 alone.

Add to those points the current prices in the Finnish Market v - Windows 8.1. Pro = EUR 269,90 (Non-OEM: Windows 7 Home Professional costs ca EUR 109 but is only available in an OEM version)

- Office 2013 Home and Student = EUR 129,90

and follow up with a Lenovo Flex 10 with a touch screen and running Windows 8 (upgradable of course for nothing to Windows 8.1 Pro) and including a full copy of Windows 2013 Home and Student and costing (including the hardware!) EUR 299 in the advert (and in fact EUR 279 when I bought it) and maybe you are no longer wondering why I spent all of Friday upgrading from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1.

In fact it's amazing just how many reasons I can find for justifying that purchase. These include:

- it's at netbook price levels so I can leave it in places I wouldn't dream of leaving my rather too expensive (128GB!) iPad.

- it doesn't have any Stardock product installed so I can see exactly what Windows 8.1. post Upgrade 1 looks like

- it's a hybrid of sorts (only goes to 300 degrees turn so you can't use it as a fat, flat tablet - you can use it to watch videos without the keyboard being visible).

- it has a touch screen so I'm discovering that for instance Zinio magazines on a small screen (and even without the screen move from landscape to portrait that I get easily on the iPad) can be easily zoomed so that I can read the text.

OK. That's enough to be going on with, now what about the whole day and those 100%s?

One reason why the low price is justified is that the Lenovo Flex 10 has Windows 8. Now I know how to do this so it's not a problem that you need to install some fixes before you can upgrade to Windows 8.1. however with 73 (yes, seventy three) of them to install and a not over-powered machine (2GB, dual core Celeron) to process those upgrades, things took a long long time.

Finally though they were through - annoyingly after the number of bytes downloaded / % done message were showing 0KB and 0% for ever. It seems the updates were automatically being downloaded at the same time hence the software is unable to give you the figures for a manual 73 fix download - and I could (after doing the usual dance of booting a few times before the Windows Store would deign to show me the update to Windows 8.1. option) look for and see the Upgrade to Windows 8.1 Option in the Windows Store.

Then we were on to the update to Windows 8.1. where it of course warns you about the need to re-boot several times. What it doesn't warn you about is that it will on several occasions count you up from 0% complete to 100% complete before (often re-booting and) starting you again at 0% complete before making yet another 100%.

To add insult to injury when you finally think it has finished it then starts on a very slow process to which it gives the snappy name of something like "just a few more changes for you" [+0% complete; 12% complete etc.]

Once that was over I went to the Windows Update page again to find I had no updates. "Odd, what about the latest Windows 8.1. Update from April 8th?". All was revealed when I checked the Modern startup page at the top right hand corner of the screen. There indeed was the new Power Button. It appears that by earlier setting the system to automatically install important (but not recommended) updates, these had been included as part of my Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 update. Nice.


Apr 10
Published: April 10, 2014 05:04 AM by  Mike Walsh
Having put the update from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 in the Windows Store, Microsoft naturally made the April 8th 2014 Windows 8.1 Update 1 available in Windows Update. Yet another case of the lack of standardisation that I have - to no avail - muttered about when it comes to KB Articles and (more recently) TechNet articles (where Published + date seems to have finished and even new articles get the 'Modified On' + date text.)

My problem was in finding Windows Update.

In my "normal" Windows systems (like Windows 7) it was accessible via Start / My Programs and then it was listed in an easily accessible place in the list you then get.

But in a Windows 8.1 system?

So I tried Bing - i.e. I made what was possibly the mistake of going into IE rather than Chrome (which would have given me by default a Google search) because I was thinking that if anyone would know where the Windows 8.1 Update was it would be a Microsoft system.

All the Bing answers (well those early on the list) led me eventually to the same two pages.

When searching for Windows 8.1. Update all I had was pages telling me about updating Windows 8 to Windows 8.1.

They were followed (after changing search criteria to just Windows Update) by every single site pointing me to the same Microsoft page which told me that I would find Windows Update by going to Start; My Programs and clicking on the name Windows Update.

A very useful piece of information for an operating system that no longer has Start ! (and although I did have a Stardock Start button, that too didn't after My Programs show Windows Update).

Eventually I finally found that Windows Update can be found via Control Panel and 'System and Security'. Once found it works as it should.

People already testing products from Stardock will be glad to hear that both already installed Stardock Start button and already installed Stardock ModernMix still continue working after Windows 8.1 Update has been installed.

As for how useful this new upgrade is, well first impressions are not very (useful) perhaps because I'm already running those two cheap (as a bundle $7.99 - individually $4.99) Stardock products.

In fact the only differences I've noticed so far are

1. The appearance of a Power Button at the top-right of the main "Modern" screen. (Not much use if you are working in the desktop and no use at all if you have installed Stardock's Start button.)

2. The addition of a link to the Microsoft Store to the taskbar. (Just annoying as it takes up space that could be more useful for something else. It should however be noted that a right-click to the icon in the task bar means you are another click away from getting rid of it from the taskbar - something Apple could learn from as the latest version of iOS doesn't let you get rid of some icons.)


Apr 05
I had an Osborne I when that company was ruined by its founder pre-announcing the Osborne II with (it seems laughable now) floppy disk drives with double the previous capacity - result: sales dried up and the new product when it came six months later was too little too late to save it.

I also had a Nokia phone when Elop joined Nokia and ruined it by in effect making the same blunder as Mr. Osborne - i.e. by announcing that the operating system used by them was useless when he had nothing ready to replace it (and then compounding that blunder by deciding on Windows Phone thus ensuring for Nokia a market share in the low single numbers - when that is *those* Nokia phones were ready).

So clearly pre-announcements are not a good idea (see too the Surface launch). What about post announcements?

With hardware devices these are fine - you have the hardware in stock and can supply immediately - but with services they become problematical.

So, finally, we move on to the latest "strategic" move from Amazon UK which seems pretty close to losing an entire large market of often long-term loyal customers for the sake of a minor (and probably temporary) increase in profits.

Now given that Amazon's strategy until now has been trying to get as many customers as possible even at low profit margins, you have to wonder whether Amazon UK's management are following a new company policy based on "OK, it's not working, let's try to cash in on the customers we have" or whether they have just lost their collective minds and in due course will be fired by Jeff Bezos.

If you are still with me, here's what has happened.

Amazon UK sent an e-mail to all its customers outside the UK that *one day earlier* (1) they had abandoned the Free Shipping option.

Now that doesn't seem to much of an issue even though they were only offering Free Shipping on orders over £25 which meant no doubt (and a long thread in their forum of angry users confirms this) that people were like me in that whenever they ordered something they looked around (= raided their Wish List) for something to add to the order to put them over (often well over) that limit. So Amazon UK sold more because of this policy than they otherwise would have done [and because they used slower postal services for these Free orders they didn't lose much money either].

(1) That thread confirmed that people were rightly mad that they had been told about the change one day after it was implemented. There were people who already had an order planned but just had not got round to going to the Amazon web site to order it and there were many more who said that if they had known even only a few days in advance of the chance they would have placed a large order while free delivery was still an option.

However Amazon UK then compounded this error by changing the rules for delivery charges to outside the UK.

Amazon sites (my experience is of US and several European sites) typically have delivery charges consisting of two things a) a charge per order plus b) a charge per item. Some have in the meantime gone over to a fixed delivery charge per order with no charge per item. [For many of them there is free delivery for inland orders but not for foreign orders]

Amazon UK used to have the above system too for foreign orders - for orders under the £25 limit or for orders you didn't want to wait so long for (split up into Standard or Express delivery). However in combination with the withdrawal of the Free Shipping option, Amazon UK changed their rules to make them more expensive and more difficult to work out than before.

Now Amazon UK has three different charges for each foreign order. (Add them all together)

1. A standard fee (£4).

2. A fee per delivery.

3. A charge per weight.

[Charges for 2) and 3) vary with what is in the parcel]

Clearly ordering a couple of DVD box sets for the previous £25 limit is no longer going to be worthwhile, let alone a couple of hardback books ...

As I wrote earlier, responses have in the thread started by one user have been piling up at rapid pace (from Portugal to Poland). No-one is happy with the change (to be expected) but worse is both the fact that we were told after the event and that the new charges are so high that it makes it not worthwhile to even think - except for extreme circumstances - of using Amazon UK's services ever again.

In fact - until those fees are raised in sympathy - the only silver lining here is that orders placed from Marketplace companies apart from typically being cheaper also as before have a reasonable per item postage cost. [Typically Marketplace prices are a couple of pounds less than the Amazon UK price and the postage charge per item is about that two pounds].

In other words if I in future want to order a book; CD; DVD or Blu-Ray I may well still go to the Amazon UK site but only to check out Marketplace offerings. Until such time that their new postage costs have been heavily revised downwards, Amazon UK is dead for me. Why even Amazon Germany with its controlled book prices and (relatively high) fixed postal charge per order is beginning to look good.

But - to close - the real question is, is this a major policy change from Amazon from increasing market share to gouging existing customers or is it local Amazon UK management thinking their jobs are on the line if they don't achieve quickly a major increase in profits? Mr Bezos, over to you.


Apr 03
When I found out that the April Update to Windows 8.1 (due out via Windows Upgrade on April 8th 2014) did not contain the major improvement to Windows 8.1. that I expected (normal windows around - otherwise full-screen - apps), I decided to install the $4.99 add-in "ModernMix from Stardock that is supposed to.

There's a trial 30-days installation so I went for that for now and because it was a trial version also installed their Start8 add-on that "brings back the (real) Start button + menu".

So far I'm not convinced that - once you've been using the normal Windows 8.1 for a week or so - you actually need the Start8 add-on. (An extra $3 if bought with ModernMix)

But so far ModernMix seems useful. However as it improves the use of "Modern" apps only (as normal desktop apps are already in normal windows), I'll have to find some that I actually want to use. So far I can only think of Zinio and the Modern-Side IE that I use (and in fact I use the desktop IE where there's no problem).

However even with limited use of "Modern" Apps, paying $4.95 for better functionality for the few being used is surely a good deal. Worth trying out the trial (30-day) version for.


Apr 03
Published: April 03, 2014 04:04 AM by  Mike Walsh
Confession time again.

I checked for a long time the web site of Amazon France for French language SharePoint 2013 books and there was nothing (apart from the one I already had). So I suppose I stopped checking.

Anyway by chance (a list of French language SP 2013 books as an ad on an English UK MASN web page (explain that if you can)) I saw that there were some French SP 2013 books after all. So I followed that up and today added five "new" books and one video.

Two of the books are at least from 2014 so they weren't too bad ...

Anyway check out the relevant part of

http://SPF2013FAQ.mindsharp.com/Lists/SharePoint%202013%20Books%20and%20Extracts/V%20Books.aspx

if you want to see them.


Mar 29
Published: March 29, 2014 09:03 AM by  Mike Walsh
No doubt many people when reading my previous post knew what was going on, namely that I was confusing a pointer to Videos with an actual Location of D:\Videos_from_Drive_C.

Well, Yes and No.

In earlier operating systems there has indeed been a (for instance) Downloads listed that in fact pointed to a sub-folder that was located somewhere down the food chain and in Windows 8.1 that behaviour/behavior is repeated as part of "This PC".

The problem here is that I was specifically looking at the D: drive and when I look at the D: drive I expect to see ALL the actual "physical" sub-folders listed and not something pointing at them.

Here not only was there under D: only the pointer to Videos (etc.) listed but also they didn't list the real sub-folder D:\Videos_from_Drive_C.

This truly is a very poor implementation for any user who knows what they are doing.

So are they fixing this in the April 2014 Update One? Somehow I doubt it.

P.S. Yes I did try to find a setting that would allow me to see all folders - and No I didn't find one!


Mar 27
Published: March 27, 2014 05:03 AM by  Mike Walsh
I'm continuing this mini series of Windows 8.1 posts because I've noticed that in one person I can cover both the Power User and the Normal User.

I'm giving myself the title of Power User because I'm looking at the differences in Windows 8.1 mainly from the point-of-view of someone who has seen a lot of Operating Systems in his time and who is interested in just how various things have been implemented.

At the same time I'm giving support to a person who in future will be referred to as "the Normal User" - readers of earlier posts will know who I mean. A normal user in this case is someone who insists on everything in Windows 8.1. looking and functioning exactly the same as it did in Windows XP and who tends to be extremely annoyed with me (!) (because I installed this thing) when it doesn't.

If you like we have the two extremes and I'm going to be reporting on both but naturally tending mainly to report on the normal user's complaints and if possible my solutions to them.

Let's start with a simple one. Having discovered that a right click on an app gave a Customize bar at the bottom of the screen, the normal user did something (almost certainly click again on the selected app) which meant that in that bar there were no Customize options but still the word Customize.

The demands for immediate support because the machine had stopped working led to me climbing up the stairs; glancing at the screen; clicking Customize and then noting that the problem had vanished and that everything that hadn't worked now worked.

The UI here is clearly at fault as far as normal users are concerned. After all logically clicking Customize should change things not just be the equivalent of a Close, and often normal users have been told to stop clicking things at random ...

Anyway once that was sorted the next much minor issue was "what does "Pin to taskbar" mean (in a Customize section). Oddly the meaning of "Pin to Start" didn't seem to be a problem (even though it didn't add to an XP Start Menu) whereas "Pin to taskbar" did.

Curious.

With that, back to the Power User as I discovered something odd while trying to make sure that as much data was possible was stored on the D: drive (normal, large, 7200 rpm hard disk) rather than on the C: drive (much smaller SSD drive)
It's a simple process. You right-click on something in C: - let's say the sub-folder Videos; go to Location and then change the location to a folder in D:

I wanted to remind myself that these drives were originally in C: so I created new folders as part of the Location function that were all named with _from_Drive_C at the end of the name - so D:\Videos_from_Drive_C. Having set the new location the routine allows you to move the existing data across to the new location so I did that too.

The result of all this was that the Videos (etc.) folders all vanished from the C: drive but they had all been copied to D:\Videos etc. and none of the Videos_from_Drive_C (etc.) folders were listed.

No biggy as I can live with Videos going to a Videos folder and Downloads to a Downloads folder but why allow me to specify a particular folder name and then amend it to the original folder name? (Yes, I'm now going to check that this is what did happen - slowly!)

P.S. I checked it (on Searches). When I'd reached the point where it asked if I wanted to copy the Searches from C: to the new D: location, it did say "Do you want to copy from C:\Users\MikeWalsh\Searches to D:\Searches_from:Drive_C" but the end result is still that when you open D: there is no Searches_from_Drive_C folder and there IS a folder D:\Searches with the content from C:

Odd, really odd (and a year after Windows 8 came out surely something that should have been fixed long ago).

P.P.S. The equivalent action within iTunes worked fine. Of course it then turned out to be a waste of time because using the above Windows right-click Location function meant that iTunes files were moved below D:\Music. Now I'm wondering what will happen if I add a CD to iTunes - will it go to the sub-folder of D:\Videos or to my earlier created and specified D:\Itunes_Files?


Mar 24
While I know that there are ways to get the April Update to Windows 8.1 already, I'm still waiting for the official release around the 8th of April.

As well as waiting, I'm also hoping that at least two of the changes that it is supposed to bring will actually happen.

I think it is fairly sure that there will be a Power button at the top-right of the screen. This will be of great benefit for my in-house support function because although I've shown her a couple of times where the Power button is hiding, my wife again today called me up to (what is laughingly known as) the computer room to ask me how to turn the computer off.

What I'm not so 100% sure about - as it presumably involves quite a bit more programming than providing a link on the desktop - is the reported availability of Windows 8 apps in a window frame so they can be sized and shut down.

This one, it turns out, is for me.

As part of the process of getting the new PC I ordered a new monitor because it seemed stupid that I had a graphics card that would support 2 x Full HD and yet the sole monitor I was using (and the one in the cupboard for use with a portable - and incidentally in the cupboard all the time since I got a 17 inch portable) only offered 1600xsomething.

My intention was to have two identically sized monitors next to each other which meant pulling out the one in the cupboard and using that with a new one. So rather than ordering a 27inch one, I ordered a 24inch one which turned out to be bigger than the (oops) 22 inch one I was intending to put it next to. (Yes, it did clearly say in the product number for the monitor that it was a 22 inch one - some people simply don't look ...)

Anyway to make a long story somewhat shorter I ended up with the new 24 inch (in glorious 1920x1200 resolution) as the main monitor and the 22 inch tilted **in portrait mode** alongside it on the right.

This setup was perfect for having browsers/videos etc. in the landscape mode and documents and web pages with articles to read in the portrait mode side screen.

But this was a Windows 8.1. setup and if you open a document in a Win 8.1. it's full-screen *on the main monitor* and for now that means you can't move it across.

This was more than a bit annoying because one of the things I wanted to do was read Zinio magazines in portrait mode and using the Zinio app I had them on the landscape monitor. (Problem solved by open the Zinio site in a browser (although not the IE copy on the Modern/Metro side!) and then moving the open magazine across to the side monitor.)

[Side Note: Trying to read magazines in the Windows 8.1. Kindle app is worse as even if you have valid subscriptions to magazines, the Kindle app won't show them (and they won't let you install the Windows for PC application on the desktop side as you have Windows 8.1....)]

Anyway the point is that if the April Update does give Windows 8.1. apps the ability to be in a Windows frame, then it ought to be possible to move the contents of a (Zinio) magazine to the side screen. [Why is this better than using the browser? Because you can download the magazine to your PC from an app(lication) which you can't do when using the browser - i.e. you need to be on-line to read.]



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