Vol. 22, #8 - February 20, 2017 - Issue #1119

Reader feedback: Fashion over function

Editor's Corner

In this week's issue of WServerNews we'll share some of the feedback we've received concerning Issue #1117 Fashion over function of our newsletter where we examined the recent trend in web and software development to focus on style over usability, or as clothing designers and architects say, fashion over function. We'll also share some of the recommendations we received from our readers concerning the Ask Our Readers question in Issue #1117 where a reader named Wayne asked if anyone could suggest an application that allows access to the clipboard history on Windows computers. And of course we have some tips, tools, news and tech links, and fun stuff to keep you from getting bored as you verify your organization's last three months of backups are still accessible.

Speaking of fashion, how does an engineer make a bold fashion statement? See this Dilbert comic for the answer:


Ask Our Readers - Accessing clipboard history

In Issue #1117 Fashion over function a reader named Wayne asked us to redirect the following question to the almost 100,000 IT pros around the world who receive our newsletter each week:

Has anyone got any decent suggestions for a basic widget or application that allows access to clipboard history? I find that many times I am editing databases with the same information and use ctrl-c/ctrl-v a lot, but I would like to be able to save information on the clipboard so that I can re-use it. I have tried Ditto but found it a little awkward in use.

We received a bunch of helpful recommendations on this matter and we'll share a few of them here. To begin with, a reader named Ingo who is an IT Directory in the Greater New York area says:

I've been using Ditto for many years:


Other readers like Greg who is an IT Support Office based in Ontario, Canada concur with Dean's recommendation:

Ditto for sure, easy to use, fast and free.

Johannes from Iceland recommends purchasing this product:

I recommend ClipCache Pro. I have used it for many years.


Rudy offered this suggestion:

Yankee-Clipper III - clipboard extender


Tim from Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, USA suggested the following Windows gadget:


Works great!

Chris then expanded at length on the topic of Windows gadgets and clipboard history as follows:

Windows 7 had some good gadgets that provided clipbook/clipboard history functionality. When MS killed off the Windows Sidebar platform (gadgets) due to security concerns, 8GadgetPack came to the rescue to allow the continued use of existing gadgets on newer versions of Windows:


However, since MS no longer provides the MS Gadget store, installing new gadgets can be challenging unless you know where to go.

The 8GadgetPack installation includes many gadgets, including one named Clipboarder. However, I prefer Clipboard Manager, which was made by Clipà.Vu:


Although they also provide a free and paid version of a newer Desktop app that has additional features such as cloud sync and encryption:


the older gadget version still works great for my needs and can be downloaded here:


8GadgetPack works the same way that the MS version of Windows Sidebar did, including the file path. As before, it is possible to manually edit the %LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Windows Sidebar\Settings.ini file to your liking, including the ability to change opacity of individual gadgets (by adding a line for the PrivateSetting_GadgetOpacity setting in the specific gadget's section of the file).
Gadgets are a dead technology but can still be used for things like clipboard history, for those that well educated about and are willing to accept the security challenges. Clipà.Vu and other software vendors provide non-gadget based alternative options for everyone else.

Finally, Antonio from Sydney, NSW, Australia used the shotgun approach for his recommendations:

Hi Mitch, there are bunch of free clipboard managers on the Internet, namely:

I tried ClipX, Ditto, and ArsClip before settling on ClipX as I only need something simple.

Readers who have additional recommendations can send them to us at [email protected]

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 protected]
And now let's listen to a few of our readers chime in on the subject of fashion over function in the realm of software...


Disappearing act

First here are two complaints from a reader named Germanas that I *totally* agree with:

 My two cases, which are really annoying:

• Sometimes disappearing scroll bar in some Win10 windows. Not convenient if you want to see what part of a long page you are at.

• Edge address bar. Unless I miss something, invisible address bar where I am supposed to enter an URL is reaaally annoying. Every time I need to enter an URL I am unsure where to click. That vertical thin bar isn’t always visible on all devices. This is one of the reasons I am still on IE11.

Do other readers agree? Email me at [email protected]


I just want to see my dog!

This next comment is from Susan who manages the IT Helpdesk for a mid-sized company in the USA:

You asked for it… <grin>

Windows 10 has many examples where the developers changed a perfectly functioning setting to something they felt was cooler. Take changing the wallpaper or theme on your desktop. Windows 7/8.1 were very simple. Right click in the middle of the screen and go to Personalize. Pick your theme or wallpaper (picture) and off you go to the races. Fast forward to Windows 10…and let the frustration begin. Personalize now puts you into that "fantastic" *yes that's sarcasm* Settings area, where you now have to click on Themes then Theme settings to get to the window to choose a different theme. What used to be two clicks is now three. But what if you want to change just the picture to one of your kids, dogs, etc. Well, click on Desktop Background, which in Windows 7/8.1 used to let you into a screen to change the picture, now you're sent back to the Settings page and Background. For the non-computer tech, trying to figure out how to just add that picture of your dog/child/grandchild has just gotten a whole lot more complicated.

My next example, and even more irritating, adding icons to the Taskbar notifications area. Once again, Windows 7/8.1, very simple. Click on the little white arrow down in the taskbar and choose Customize. Now in Windows 10, you have to click on the Action center icon (little white box), choose All Settings to open up the Settings page, and depending on which version of Windows 10 you have, because Microsoft decided to change this in 1607 from the 1511 version, you either go to System then Notifications and actions, and finally Select which icons appear on the taskbar or in 1607, you go to Personalization, Taskbar, scroll all the way down and choose Select which icons appear on the taskbar. Either version, two clicks just went to five. Someone explain to me how that's more efficient??

Sadly, Microsoft has gotten into the habit of changing things for the sake of changing things and not always for the better. I remember when Windows 8 first came out, I had to google how to shut down my machine!

Yes, I'm shaking my head.

Light and airy don't mean it's faster!

Jimme who works for a state legislature in the USA has these thoughts on the subject:

I've been using Microsoft Windows since version 2.11 and have appreciated the look and feel changes until version 8. It seems that many of the look and feel changes have been driven by simply looking different than the previous version. Rather than a change for improved functionality the changes are purely cosmetic and too often, confusing. (This has been happening with automobiles but that is another story.)
It's akin to the old advertising adage that white space sells. As if to say an operating system that looks light and airy will perform faster. If only this were true. The fact remains that Windows 10 needs more Processor speed and memory than any of its predecessors even if it appears lighter.
Business needs consistency in the tools that are used day to day. Business is what drove Microsoft to "reimagine" why it removed the Start button and then "reintroduce" it back into the OS again. (Previous sentence intentionally poorly written.)

It doesn't have to make sense because no one cares

Looking ahead to the next generation of corporate managers, Peter who is an IT Manager in Maryland, USA takes a more fatalistic approach to the problem:

The quick lesson to learn from these examples is: These weren't designed for "You!" (aka "Us!"). The next generation is moving in and taking over the almighty "Key Demographic." All facets of life will be designed with them in mind. As for us, we get too placated in the cool Retro stuff. Don't try to make sense of it. Don't bother with comparisons or to determine which was better. No one cares.

In my
company I am watching the earliest Millennials starting to be promoted into management positions. It's time to adapt or die.

Just upgrade the network!

Bill on the other hand looks back to how software changed in the past and suggests an antidote for today's developers to drink instead of their usual Kool-Aid:

I read this article and just had to laugh to myself. Back in the early 1990's, I worked for a company that created a networked ERP system for printed circuit manufacturing. The entire environment was built in Microsoft BASIC and ran in DOS (or DOS windows), and the code was served up by NetWare servers. Typical application size was 100-200KB, and navigating from one application to another was nice and fast. Fast forward a few years, and some of the developers there started replacing the DOS applications with native Windows 3.x interfaces, and application size ballooned to 2MB-5MB. Of course, users complained that moving from module to module (i.e. module load time) was inexorably slow and painful. What was the solution? Move from a 10Mbps Ethernet infrastructure to a 100Mbps network!

Of course, some bloat is necessary, as different devices use different screen resolutions, and embedded graphics may be provided in multiple form factors to deal with this. But how big is TOO BIG? The simple matter is that the bloat will continue, and developers will simply use that time-tested response -- if your app loads slowly, get a better and faster network. The way to fix this? Make all developers work off a dial-up connection, and they will ensure that each app is as small and compact as possible.


 Where's Donald Trump when you need him?

Mike thanks for speaking up on this whole issue of fashion over function in modern software development:

Your article was very well stated and I couldn't agree more!!! I have my own observations that are even more pointed, but if Microsoft and its defenders really got "into the trenches" they would realize how much disdain they have earned from those of us that use their products faithfully because they are so necessary.

I have never written to you before but this article hit a bulls-eye issue so well that I just had to respond. Is there a "Trump" in the IT world that can shake up the "establishment?" (I have not implied an endorsement of Trump.) There is a need to "drain the swamp" of lousy software designs and bring back more practicality, compared to which "coolness" means nothing but is rather interference.

Thank you again for stating what should not have to be stated.

Remembering the best

Next here's John who gives an example of sacrificing function for fashion:

Old outlook and Outlook Express, were functional. Outlook on line and windows 10 mail are fashionable, but I have a real hard time seeing which emails I have are new or old, checking junk mail for mail I really want. Have yet figured out why I have to snyc all my computers to my Microsoft account. 30 days of saved messages does not get it. Had to go to online mail to find very important saved messages. Microsoft wanting to take everything mobile has destroyed desktop applications. They harp on security, and then fix it so if someone opens your desktop all email is available for everyone to see. Using a personal password you cannot use Microsoft apps. The best email application they ever had for personal use was Windows Live Mail.


Speaking of gum packages…

Finally we received the following email from Elizabeth:

Your story about the gum wrapper in "Form Over Function" nearly duplicates the one I had this weekend sitting in a dark theater trying to open a package of Raisinettes. I usually wish I had a sharp knife to get into these things and gripe about the good old days when there was a proper, red tear strip on plastic wrappers. No amount of pawing at the seams will work for me so I end up asking my friends to open those boxes. Because it wouldn't hurt the look of a box of candy I thought the tear strip must have been abandoned because it saved them some miniscule amount of money to manufacturer, not because it would hurt "the look."

Meanwhile, speaking of Raisinettes:


Hah! Thanks!!

Send us your feedback

Got feedback about anything in this issue of WServerNews? Email us at [email protected]


Recommended for Learning

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Factoid of the Week

Last week's factoid and questionwas this:

There is only one stop sign in the whole of Paris. Question: What unusual road signs have you encountered in your own corner of the world?

This one generated a lot of interesting feedback from our readers and we're including several pictures of signs they've seen for readers who might find the signs fascinating.
From a reader named Tad:

My wife and I honeymooned for two weeks in New Zealand in 1997 and had a wonderful time running around in a large diesel-powered camper with air brakes. Three driving highlights:

Signs like the above - the image looks very much like a road sign I remember just south of Christchurch but didn't have the wits to photograph.

Mentioning to a cashier that we felt bad about being slow (between gawking and the limits of our vehicle) and we were glad that we only had been passed by a half-dozen or so cars during our day's drive ... and being told that we were unlucky it was busy season!

Backing up over a car that had parked behind us unnoticed as we were jetlaggedly checking in to our first camping spot ... and having the driver apologize to us and note that the bonnet was due for some fixing up anyway.

Beautiful scenery, great people, we *will* get back there.

From Kris who is a Senior Product Manager for a company in Seattle:
Hi Mitch, I took the picture below from Google Images, but have seen this sign in Lake Chelan, Washington (a common tourist destination):

I thought it was a joke at first, but back in 2007, I saw a news report about a car being hit by a falling cow, hitting the hood and narrowly missing the car's occupants. Who would have thunk?

From Steven in SoCal:

Open Range sign, leaving a mining ghost town in Oatman, AZ:



And a few more reader comments:

A number of years ago I was driving in Washington DC near DuPont Circle. I was on a One-Way Street. I came to a "T" intersection proceeding left and right from the street I was on. On the left side of the street was a sign reading "NO LEFT TURN FROM 9:00 AM TILL 1:00 PM" On the Right Side of the street was a sign reading "NO RIGHT TURN FROM 11:00 AM TILL 3:00 PM". I went by there a few months later to show a friend of mine, but both signs had been removed. (Just by the way I cheated and made a right turn anyway). --Frank
"Bends for 1 mile", a sign on a single width road on the west coast of Scotland; after having just negotiated 25 miles of curving cliff-side road. We had already met two cars on this road, had to back up to a passing place, to then encounter this sign. This was 1977. They now mention it on their website:



It is no longer there, but during the "Go Metric" push many years back there was a sign on I-75 South in Ohio that proclaimed, "Metric Signs Next 50 Miles". --Randall
While this is not a road sign, between English being a tricky language and translations causing difficulties: "The manager has personally passed all the water served here" certainly qualifies as unusual (in several ways).


Now let's move on to this week's factoid:

Fact: In 2013 in Turkey, thieves stole an entire 22 tonne, 82 foot metal bridge overnight.
Question: Do you know of any heist that was more remarkable than this one?

Email us your answer: [email protected]
Until next week,

Mitch Tulloch

Admin Toolbox

Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without

GOT ADMIN TOOLS or other software/hardware you'd like to recommend? Email us at [email protected]

Join Veeam for an ESG-led webinar on why companies are choosing virtualization, and learn good automation and orchestration examples. 


Ghostscript Studio is easy to tool (IDE) that facilitates the use of the Ghostscript interpreter by providing you with a graphical interface:


Dot11expert is a compact tool which displays low-level details about your wireless network adapters and local networks:


Microsoft Script Browser enables you to search, download and learn over 9000 TechNet script samples covering all Microsoft IT products from within PowerShell ISE:



This Week's Tips

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PowerShell - Run PowerShell scripts in SSIS

This tip form the SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) Official Blog demonstrates how to run PowerShell scripts within SQL Server Integration Services:


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Events Calendar

North America

Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) on July 9-13. 2017 in Washington, D.C.


Add Your Event

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Tech Briefing


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Understand the big changes for the new streamlined Microsoft technical certifications (TechNet UK Blog)


Home Lab Secrets: Building the Killer Home Lab Part 5 (Deploying Exchange Server 2016)(New Azure Portal) (Elliott Fields Jr.)


Cloud computing

Virtualization Predictions for 2017 (Virtualization Review)


Using ADConnect with multiple clouds (Ralf und die Cloud)


Exchange Server

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Build a strong OpenStack cloud computing platform with these tips

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The wrong tool for the job ruins DevOps on cloud plans

In today's organizations, pressure for continuous application delivery and faster IT responses breaks the tension inherent in DevOps – and the cloud adds in another added layer of complexity. In this tip, explore the planning required to select DevOps tools to support cloud applications.



WServerNews FAVE Links

This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

GOT FUN VIDEOS or other fun links to suggest you'd like to recommend? Email us at [email protected]

Writing this newsletter makes us hungry so we're including some Flixxy videos this week on the topic of food:

Food Exploding In The Microwave In Slow Motion


Beethoven's Fifth Symphony Breakfast Parody


Magician Blake Vogt Rips and Eats the Judges' Money


Funny Cats And Dogs Asking For Food


Raccoon Eats Grapes



WServerNews - Product of the Week


WServerNews - Editors

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.