Windows 10 late April update

Yesterday, my home office desktop initiated the update to Windows 10 April update (not to be known as the Spring Update) – code name RedStone 4.

This was not a simple update and took quite a while insinuate itself in my machine, but after a few reboots and other gyrations, it accomplished its task. For some reason, on my wife’s laptop (which is much slower) it installed more quickly.

Once the install was complete, I still had all my files and programs but had to grant network access to a few programs and perform a few other setup tasks that normally only happen when installing a new program. It also deleted and rearranged a number of icons on my start menu and also re-enabled some programs (like the default mail program) that I’d eliminated from my user interface.

Timeline

The greatest enhancement to Windows is Timeline. It’s designed to facilitate projects across multiple devices. For Timeline to work on iOS and Android devices, you’ll need to install Cortana on your mobile device and be logged in.

To start using Timeline, go to Settings -> Privacy -> Activity history and make check the box next to “Let Windows collect my activities from this PC.” If you want to “Show activities from other accounts” move that slider to on. Timeline should now be turned on not just for this device and this account, but for your other devices and other Microsoft accounts. To turn Timeline off, set the activity history slider to off.

Definitely, something that will take a while to understand its value.

Edge for Android (and iOS)

Chrome has become an increasing resource hog over the years and it looks like Edge for Windows has improved significantly with this release. Now that Edge for Android arrived (I guess it has been out there for a while and I just hadn’t noticed) and should be able to sync favorites… with Windows, I am definitely going to give it a try. I did notice that “Do not track” was not enabled by default. When I tried to sync I received the error message: 0xa04a1823, so I had to submit an issue into MSDN. I am hoping there is a quick response since there were a few others who expressed the same sort of problem.

Now to understand what’s new…

There are a number of other features like disk space recovery that that I’ve been playing with for a while already (Setting -> System -> Storage). This automates some of the cleanup that you used to have to run Drive Space on each drive to accomplish.

I am sure there is much more to delve into (like it appears there are some significant enhancements to annotating videos) but I’ll leave that for later.

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Repairing Windows 10 WiFi network disconnects – not has hard as it used to be

In the past month or so, my wife’s laptop has started experiencing Wi-Fi network drops. These were coming at an ever-increasing rate, until the machine was almost unusable on the network. I tried a range of repairs and diagnostics and although they always got the computer back on the network – it continued to drop off-line.

Finally, I was fed up and decided to just reinstall windows 10 (64-bit, home edition). I used to reinstall the OS on my machines on a regular bases – say every 6 months, to clean out the gunk that builds up, but I haven’t been doing that lately because things have been running smoothly.

First thing I did was ensure the ‘normal’ backup was running. Then I made another backup, just in case. Next I downloaded the Windows install and started the process. I am used to having to doing clean installs, but was in for a surprise when it asked if I wanted to install windows but keep the personal files.

I thought: “What do I have to lose?” I have everything backed up and it may save a great deal of time, performing backup restores and installing apps…

Sure enough, it took a process that would normally take me 4 hours or more down to less than 2 hours. Granted, there were a number of reboots and auto upgrades along the way, but it was almost all automated.

It appears that her machine is back on the network… and productive. Now I need to make sure the backups are running…

Ever lose a drive partition in Windows?

Drive gone badEver have encounter a drive gone bad? That is exactly what happened to me over the weekend. I had a perfectly viable drive that fell off a shelf. It looked OK, but when I went to plug it in, Windows didn’t see it. It didn’t have anything critical on it, but it wasn’t totally backed up to another file. Lesson one – always have multiple backups on everything that means something to you.

I started the Windows Administrative Tools -> Computer Management (needs to be launched as administrator) and then opened Disk Management. The drive was visible to this tool and a partition was showing, but Windows didn’t mount it. The partition was healthy but in a protected state (I don’t remember exactly what that state was).

I then did something stupid — which we’re all prone to do at 5AM. I looked for information about that partition state on the Internet and what to do about it. The recommendation was to clean the drive – sound benign right?  I used to Windows Diskpart command to ‘clean’ the drive. Now, I was left with a drive with no partitions!!! The only hope was a real drive analysis to find the files off the partition.

I went digging on the web for a tool that would analyze the drive and pull the files off. There are many them out there for a price, but I was looking for something open source. I stumbled across TestDisk (an open source partition recovery tool from CGSecurity). This looked like exactly what I wanted, and it had a detailed wiki with step-by-step instructions. Using this tool is not for the faint of heart, some technical background is required, but did the job.

I started the analysis, found the partition, told it where I wanted the files copied on another drive and recovered the files – success. It only took the better part of a day.

The purpose of this post is more to archive what I did, so I (and others) can find it later. I hope I never have to go through this again.

Installed the creator version of Windows yesterday

It all went smoothly EXCEPT I lost everything that was pinned to my start menu. If I were to do it again, I’d take a screen snapshot before installing the update. All the programs were still loaded and working, they just were not arranged on my start menu anymore. The update does take much longer than the normal monthly upgrade.

There are a number of minor enhancements here and there but what I was waiting for was Paint 3D. I wanted to see what it can do. So far, I’ve not really figured out the controls but you can manipulate solids (in the picture I pulled in some 3D space ship models). You can change them in simple ways, as well as color them or stamp designs on them…

Paint3D

Once you create a model you can export it as .3mf (what Microsoft 3D builder uses) as well as PNG, JPG, GIF, BMP and TIF. Not sure how much use it will be for 3D printing, but the capabilities were intriguing. You can also load your models into Remix 3d – a Microsoft hosted creative community

Back in Seattle

Last week, I was able to go back on the Microsoft campus in Redmond for a meeting. That’s the first time I’ve been back there since I spent 3 months there as part of the EDS Top Gun program back in 2005.

Flying into Seattle, we got a good view of the Space Needle and the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame.seattle

There were a number of déjà vu moments walking around the Microsoft campus.

IMG_20170324_124756711~2

I always find these opportunities to see what companies are most proud of very telling. It was clear that cloud, analytics and human interface transformations were in the forefront of their thinking — much like the rest of us.

First it was Windows and now Office for free on small devices?!?

I mentioned earlier this month my efforts to make a small Windows tablet useful. Now I see a story that Office will be free for small tablets, with an under 10″ screen size. This is definitely Microsoft making a statement that it is serious about getting a beachhead in the mobile space.

I wonder if they have a way of checking to see ways of accessing the ‘display’ from other devices. Or if there will be limitations that only permit editing and not content creation — although that would be rather short sighted if their goal is demand creation.