Vol. 20, #34 - August 24, 2015 - Issue #1044
In this week's newsletter we'll catch up on all the latest news, tips, troubles and rumors concerning Microsoft's so-called "best Windows ever" a.k.a. Windows 10. But instead of starting off this issue with the usual Dilbert comic strip I'm going to tell you a story that includes a nerdy tip for any of you engineering types out there among the readers of our weekly newsletter.
Way back in my university days during the 70s, I got an undergraduate degree in Physics and was originally planning on pursuing a PhD in Astrophysics. During the second year of my undergrad program a sales rep for Hewlett-Packard came to visit our class and show off their latest calculator the HP-35:
We were geeks then, and young, and when we saw the new calculator we all lusted after it mightily. The more the sales rep talked and demonstrated its features, the more we were ready to chuck our slide rules in the dustbin. The rep ended is pitch by describing how robust the calculator was--and then demonstrated its robustness by winding up and throwing it smack against the concrete wall of the classroom!! The calculator's case shattered into fragments from the impact, but the main "guts" and keyboard were still one piece and when the rep picked it up off the floor it still worked!! We were hooked.
I became a loyal user of HP calculators that day (and a staunch advocate of Reverse Polish Notation) and went through a whole series of them as the years passed. I still own one today (an old HP-27S that I purchased back in the late-80s that was HP's first algebraic calculator) and I still use it occasionally for doing things like manually balancing my checkbook. But I eventually noticed that my HP-27S was a voracious eater of Lithium batteries (Duracell 76S) as I found myself having to shell out about $20 each year for new batteries even if my calculator was only used once a month and was turned off the rest of the time. Something was causing my calculator to use battery power even when it was turned off. I could of course take out the batteries to extend their life but that would clearly be an inconvenience. Could there be any "secret" way of completely turning the calculator off so the batteries won't drain?
To see if there was an answer to my question, I turned to the forums at the Museum of HP Calculators:
I posted my question to one of the forums and in almost no time at all I received the answer I wanted from another nerdy engineering type who shared the following secret keystroke sequence for completely powering off my calculator:
Press and hold the top right softkey (the one with 1/x over it) AND the plus ("+") key AND the CLR key simultaneously and when you hear the beep sound release all three keys.
After doing this, when I next turn on my calculator it briefly displays MACHINE RESET and then it's ready to be used. But what's *really* nice about this is that this "geek hack" has enabled me to use my calculator on a single set of batteries since 2007. Until yesterday when I finally had to buy a new set of batteries. So I've basically saved about $150 over the years by using this hack.
Now I know there probably aren't that many readers of this newsletter who own HP-27S calculators, but maybe you've found some terrific little geek hack of your own that has saved you time or money over the years. Maybe it's a BIOS hack for some model of laptop, or a hack that lets you buy fewer toner cartridges for your printers, or a hack that lets you use a much cheaper type of RAM in your server that what your system hardware vendor sells, or a hack that unlocks some secret functionality for your smartphone. If you've got a potentially useful hack you'd like with other readers of this newsletter, please feel free to send us your geek hack at email@example.com
And if you still fondly remember HP from the old days like I do then be sure to visit the Museum of HP Calculators and browse the pages there and lurk the forums. There's even a thread there about upgrading Windows 7/8 to Windows 10:
Gotta love those (mostly) old HP geeks. FWIW their consensus regarding upgrading their primary workstations to Windows 10 seems to be "wait" though a few have taken the plunge.
Last week's Issue #1043 Disk diagnostic tools generated lots of reader feedback. One reader named Alain from New Zealand raised the question the following question which we felt would be better to highlight here as Ask Our Readers instead of putting it in our Mailbag:
Thanks for the starters -- the tools do work, but are more focused on the HDD than the SSD. I recently had a catastrophic failure on my laptop's SSD. One day, Windows was not performing the way it should, and so I rebooted, only to find it could never re-start! The end result was I had a laptop which I have great difficulty in trying to use again, since it does not have an optical drive, and will not boot from a USB. I did luckily make a clone of the drive, but that didn't help because I could not boot to the new SSD in order to restore. Moral of the story -- if you use an SSD, have an online data store that automatically saves your data immediately, or you run the risk of losing a whole bunch -- and for large data, backup regularly!
There was no data recovery possible from the SSD. The recovery company even offered to dismantle the SSD, and re-wire the ram to another similar board, but there was no guarantee of recovery that way either, because SSD's encrypt the data and have an algorithm that identifies where data gets stored on which memory chip. Even if I could get the data back, it would be jumbled. I did run a diagnostic on the SSD, which said it was fine. The program I tried was called SSDLifePro (did not buy the paid for version, but the free trial does identify whether there are any problems).
I have another SSD that seems to be giving trouble at the moment. My laptop keeps shutting down for no reason -- it just stops as if the power were turned off to a desktop. (Lenovo X240). I am in the process of trying to clone the drive to a new SSD, so I can have a bit more reassurance that things will not disappear like they did the last time. And I do a daily backup to external media of all my data, and I have a cloud storage system (AeroFS) that is a Dropbox clone, using your own storage -- very nice!
If you have any other ideas on measuring the life of an SSD, please let me know.
Do any of our readers have any suggestions for Alain? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ask Our Readers: WServerNews has almost 100,000 subscribers worldwide. That's a lot of expertise to tap into. Do you need help with some issue or need advice on something IT-related? Got a question you'd like us to toss out to our readers to try and answer? Email us at email@example.com
Disk Diagnostic Tools
Let's first look at some reader feedback on Issue #1043 Disk diagnostic tools beginning with this suggestion from a reader named Fernand who is a Computer and Network Consultant living right here in Winnipeg, Canada:
Hello, thanks for the great content you provide. By far the best drive diagnostic tool I've found is HD Sentinel. It is very accurate and works great. It will not only provide the SMART details, but also does a credible analysis of the results.
Simon from Romsey in the UK sent us this recommendation:
You might take a look at HD Tune Pro or Free
Several readers including Geoff from New Zealand pointed out the following omission from our list of disk diagnostic tools:
How did you write that much about disk diag's & not mention Spinrite -- the worlds best data recovery tool?
A reader named Jeff had these suggestions:
Fujitsu HDD Diagnostic Tool for Windows v1.12 for use with Fujitsu and Toshiba branded Fujitsu drives. You can download the executable fjdtwin.exe here:
Hiren's BootCD 15.2 which is described as "a first aid kit for your computer" and which contains a whole collection of different hard disk tools listed on this page:
Windows 10 upgrade woes
Reader feedback concerning Issue #1042 Windows 10 roses and thorns has been mostly thorns. Here's a short sampling:
I was on Win 8.1. Had hundreds of photos in download folder. After upgrade to 10, they are gone! Does MS care? --Mike, a Systems Engineer in Buford, Georgia USA
I have successfully installed Windows 10 but I have a minor problem. When I go to print e-mail the box for all the various enhancements takes the entire screen and the radio button for "Print" is almost off the screen. Is there a way to ask Microsoft about this issue. Thanks for any help you can give me. --Robert
Hi, To this day, I still can't get audio to work. The software shows that audio is working, but no sound comes to my external speakers. Here is part of my configuration... Not sure what to check next! Your help would be appreciated. --D.
Have performed 2 small business migrations and my customers are generally happy but there are a few kinks, mainly: (1.) Edge does not allow to sort favorites like IE does, it is a pain. No extensions allowed. (2.) Edge does not allow Norton 360 to add the extra layer of protection like it does in IE. Again, no extensions. (3.) On laptops (those using Synaptic pad only, so far), the scroll does not work and have to use arrow down to navigate page. Some laptops go on a boot loop till the touchpad is deleted and reinstalled. (4.) Had to modify the Verizon wireless FIOS router using the _optout option as described in a security article and turn off the wireless sharing in settings to prevent Facebook friends from accessing the network without authorization. I feel strongly that his feature should not be automatically turn on during setup. --Sam
We recommend that any readers who are experiencing problems with upgrading to Windows 10 post a detailed description of their problem to the Windows 10 forum on Microsoft Answers:
NOTE: There are probably several other (non-Microsoft) forums where users may be able to find help with their upgrade issues. If you have tried any of these forums and can recommend them, email us the link and we'll put together a list of the most useful online forums for troubleshooting Windows 10 upgrade problems and include this list in a future issue of WServerNews. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Stepping back from Microsoft Edge
Several readers have told us they're not very happy with the new Microsoft Edge browser in Windows 10. For example, a reader named Michael said:
I dislike both Edge Favorites and the Start Menu because MS has made it difficult to arrange them using nested folders. I get around the Start Menu issue by using Quick Launch for my frequently used applications, which still works fine. Haven't figured out how to get around Edge Favorites though.
For a different perspective on Microsoft Edge and what it means for website developers, check out this series of blog posts by Peter Drougge on MSDN:
Ben Riga also has a helpful post that lists some important Microsoft Edge URLs for developers:
Is Wi-Fi Sense really a danger?
Next, a reader named John who is a Senior Analyst / Programmer for a business based in London, England took issue with something we reported earlier concerning the new Wi-Fi Sense feature in Windows 10:
Oh dear! I really can't believe the amount of FUD being spread about Wi-Fi Sense. First of all you have to specifically enable network sharing -- it isn't selected by default. So if it bothers you just don't do it. Jennifer Abel clearly didn't read through the FAQs very far as this is clearly spelled out under the section 'I'm concerned about sharing my Wi-Fi networks. Can you tell me a little more.' As far as I can see adding '_optout' to the SSID is only for open networks, and if you're running an open network I'm not sure why Wi-Fi Sense would bother you.
Secondly, even assuming you do decide to share a network there isn't any notification that you've done it. You'd have to email them to let them know and then they would have to come and camp out in your yard to make use of it -- which I think you might just notice. Notice also that your password is not revealed at any point and that your contacts get internet access only -- they don't get access to your computers or other devices on the network. Enterprise networks can't be shared at all. As threats go I think this is pretty minimal.
Thanks for your feedback. For a somewhat different perspective on the possible dangers of Wi-Fi Sense see this ZDNet article by well-known columnist Ed Bott:
Remembering Windows 95
Finally, a reader named Tom from Spokane, Washington USA has a Windows 95 story that follows up on our "Remembering the launch of Windows 95" topic back in Issue #1039 System Management Briefs:
Just getting caught up on your newsletters, was reading the stories about the release of '95. Fortunately I had not entered the world of IT at that time, I was fighting to stay away from computers then and continued that path until the summer of 2001; Whew! I did not escape using '95 though, and in fact was just on a laptop last week running '95 as I manage a couple of buildings for a company I used to be the IT Director for. The newer of the two buildings has an HVAC system and the control interface for the HVAC is managed by said laptop. The company looked into upgrading to a newer control unit a few years back, but the 10G price tag was more than what they wanted to spend, and the system is working well enough. The HVAC service company who owned the laptop even donated it to us a couple years ago as they no longer needed it at any other location. Keep up the great work, as always I do enjoy your weekly letters.
I told Tom that I hoped that laptop running Windows 95 was not connected to the Internet. Tom replied:
No, and as a matter of fact, in order to do so would require a PCMCIA card for Wi-Fi or with a dongle. This laptop has no USB ports, no CD/DVD drive, just a floppy drive for moving data. But it has the RS-232 (? for DB-9 and 15 plugs) connector which is how the HVAC unit interfaces with it.
Which sounds good of course provided that the laptop is also in a physically secured location where only those who are authorized are able to touch it.
And now on to our roundup of news and other information about Windows 10...
The IT administrator's picture of how to deploy, secure and manage Windows 10 is still emerging out of Redmond. The most helpful high-level summary I've found so far on this is the following blog post by Hema Senthilkumar, a Senior Technology Evangelist at Microsoft:
More detailed information on how to deploy, secure and manage Windows 10 can be found in the TechNet Library:
Hopefully walkthroughs of many of these topics will appear in various blog posts over the coming months. If you find any good walkthroughs, be sure to email us at email@example.com
Ars Technica has an article about how disabling chatty features using the Windows 10 privacy controls doesn't seem to completely shut the operating system up:
Some additional interesting information on this subject can be found in this this article which references some traffic analysis of Windows 10 performed by a Czech security expert:
A website called Fix Windows 10 proports to restore your privacy after upgrading to Windows 10 which we present to you here with a "take it as-is" disclaimer as we don't know who the site owners are:
All of this may be a privacy concern for many organizations, so if any readers can find anything further about Windows 10's "chattiness" feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
IT pros might want to alert their non-tech-savvy friends and relatives that they should be careful about how they upgrade their PCs to Windows 10. This blog post on MSDN has some details of what's going on:
Some users are still reporting problems trying to upgrade their machines to Windows 10. Buck Hodges, Director of Engineering for Visual Studio Cloud Services at Microsoft, wrote a blog post on how the upgrade process couldn't update the system reserved partition and how this issue was resolved:
On a more negative note, ZDNet has this article about how the first cumulative update for Windows 10 put some users into an endless reboot loop:
Then there's this story from one of our readers named Clay who is a Senior Operating Systems Engineer for a company in Minneapolis, Minnesota USA:
First, I enjoy your articles. Very informative and have used several of the tips. I just wanted to give a first impression I've had with upgrading and using Windows 10. The upgrade went flawlessly, all drivers, hardware worked. Only issue with hardware/drivers was NVidia G-Force card. Resolution was set to 640 x 480 after upgrade finished.
Since the upgrade, Windows 10 has worked great up until this weekend when Microsoft forced patches and a re-install. I was in the middle of a 14 hour recovery of a 4TB drive, 90% through the detection phase, went to bed only to discover the next morning that Microsoft had patched and re-booted my computer, even though I have Windows 10 Pro and had patches set to deferred. Upsetting and pure Microsoft B.S. once again. I'm a big-boy…. I can decide if and when I want to patch my machine. If I get fried by a virus, that's on me. Should not be up to MS to decide.
Have any other readers experienced this kind of problem with Windows 10? Email us your upgrade success or failure stories to email@example.com
The Register has a disturbing article that says Windows 10 is focusing itself onto domain-joined Windows 7 computers that are configured to use Windows Update instead of Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) for keeping the machines patched and up to date:
I haven't confirmed this issue myself--have any of you readers experienced this? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have.
Some users have been reporting on the Windows 10 forum at Microsoft Answers that they have been unable to activate Windows 10 after performing a clean reinstall after upgrading their PCs to Windows 10:
To avoid this problem be sure to read the post marked as the answer for the thread.
The Hacker News has an article that suggests Windows 10 may be stealing your network bandwidth and advises how you can disable the feature that is responsible for this:
If you absolutely need to install or reinstall Windows 10 right now you can apparently do so from this Microsoft page:
I'm told that this can help you avoid waiting for your free upgrade to become available since this offer is reportedly being rolled out in stages all over the world.
Got feedback about anything in this issue of WServerNews? Email us at email@example.com
This week we have some new titles from Pearson and also a discount code our newsletter readers can use to get 35% off of any Cisco Press titles they purchase through the end of this year!
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Getting Started with Windows 10 for IT Professionals
IT Pros, view this free on-demand course to find out how to securely enable your organization. Find out about management features that empower IT professionals to address the current shift toward a mobile workplace. Our team of experts introduces you to what's new in Windows 10 deployment and management, and much more -- including what Windows as a Service means for you and your organization.
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Registration is open for this year’s MS Exchange CON event, the annual online gathering of IT Strategists, System Administrators, Solution Providers and, and Microsoft MVPs. This virtual live event is I hosted by MSExchange.org and TechGenix as a convenient and cost-effective opportunity for IT Professionals everywhere to catch-up on the latest technologies, solutions and strategies to manage MS Exchange in the Enterprise, Office 365 and Hybrid Environments.
This year’s event kicks off with a Keynote address by Michael Osterman, discussing the challenges and uncertainties facing organizations as they deal with the shifting landscape of on-premise Exchange and Office 365. A few of the wide range of topics and issues he’ll address includes:
The virtual live conference takes place on Thursday, September 24, 2015, starting at 10am ET / 9am CT / 7am PT / 3pm GMT.
Following the kick-off presentation, you will be able to choose from multiple breakout focus sessions featuring experts addressing topics of interest to the MS Exchange Community and the newest tools offered by leading solutions providers, including ENow, Barracuda Networks, Kemp Technologies, and Binary Tree.
Participation is limited to the first 1,000 registrants, so reserve your spot today!
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"Once a new technology rolls over you, if you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road." --Stewart Brand
Until next week,
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Somewhere on the Internet I found someone advising Windows 10 users that they could "stop the Windows 10 push altogether" by performing the following steps:
Why is doing this a bad idea? Because by changing the default startup settings of Windows services you'll be placing your Windows installation into an unsupported state, that is, a configuration that has not been tested by Microsoft. As a result if you should contact Microsoft Support for help with some problem they will likely tell you that you need to restore these service settings to their out-of-box defaults before they can help you with your problem.
Hammoudi Samir has a helpful post on his blog "beanexpert" where he explains how you can easily upgrade your Windows 10 edition without the need of having to re-image your computer:
Kishore Rajendran, a Premier Field Engineer at Microsoft, demonstrates how you can use the Remote Desktop application for Windows 10 in this post on his Windows 10 blog:
GOT TIPS you'd like to share with other readers? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Microsoft Convergence on April 4-7, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana USA
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Mapping AWS services to those of other cloud providers (Part 1) (CloudComputingAdmin.com)
Why one CEO thinks the market that Box and Dropbox created will be wiped out in 2 years (Business Insider)
How to: Get up to speed with Windows Azure. Deploying your personal test lab, fast! (Bas van Kaam)
Creating a WordPress website with Azure (Microsoft Student Developer Blog)
What you need in your PC support toolkit (WindowsNetworking.com)
How do you safeguard your business? (Microsoft UK Small and Medium Business blog)
All Flash Performance without Buying an All-Flash Array (VirtualizationAdmin.com)
Samsung unveils 2.5-inch 16TB SSD: The world’s largest hard drive (Ars Technica)
Going Over the Edge with your VMware NSX and Cisco Nexus (Brad Hedlund)
VMware vSphere - Voted VirtualizationAdmin.com Readers' Choice Award Winner - High Availability (VirtualizationAdmin.com)
Archiving Data to Amazon AWS (Part 5)
Getting Started with AWS (Part 10)
Getting Started With Azure Pack (Part 5)
Embracing The Internet of Things as well as its Security Challenges (Part 1)
The Real Cost of Data Loss And How To Prevent It
Many companies today are still trying to figure out how to drive their cloud projects forward. They primarily face two challenges: picking the wrong benefits, or, meeting too much opposition internally. Fortunately, these two obstacles can easily be overcome with a solid business case. Learn how to craft a cloud business case execs can't resist.
Before you make any serious decisions about your hybrid cloud, there are a lot of factors you need to consider, most importantly data management and data movement. Get an in-depth look at these considerations so you can choose the best cloud server for your hybrid cloud today.
Windows 10 becomes available on July 29, and employees are likely to take advantage of the free upgrade, even if IT isn't ready to support the new OS. Fortunately, even if users are prompted to move before your IT team is ready, VDI and other strategies can help prevent app compatibility issues and helpdesk calls.
Windows 10 Action Center was a major welcome addition to Windows Phones for a variety of reasons, including that it puts all your notifications in one place and makes accessing some features and settings easier. Learn how to use and reap the benefits of the Windows 10 Action Center and start putting it to work.
GOT FUN VIDEOS or other fun links to suggest you'd like to recommend? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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WalkCar - the world's smallest electric vehicle - weighs 6.6 pounds (3 kg) and can carry an individual up to 7 miles (12km) at a speed of up top 6 mp/h (10km/h):
The amazing journey of a piece of luggage racing along a network of conveyor belts through Amsterdam Schiphol Airport:
A newly released video from the comedy team 'Men in Coats' - the masters of nonverbal entertainment:
Mitch Tulloch is Senior Editor of WServerNews and is a widely recognized expert on Windows administration, deployment and virtualization. Mitch was lead author of the bestselling Windows 7 Resource Kit and has been author or series editor for almost fifty books mostly published by Microsoft Press. Mitch is also a ten-time recipient of Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for his outstanding contributions in support of the global IT pro community. Mitch owns and runs an information technology content development business based in Winnipeg, Canada. For more information see www.mtit.com.
Ingrid Tulloch is Associate Editor of WServerNews and was co-author of the Microsoft Encyclopedia of Networking from Microsoft Press. Ingrid is also manages research and marketing for our content development business and has co-developed university-level courses in Information Security Management for a Masters of Business Administration program.