Windows 8.1 Changes

Now here is a change I really like:

In the control panel image has become imagewhich opens up the task bar properties; as in earlier versions you can also get to these by right clicking on the Taskbar and selecting Properties.


In addition to the current Taskbar, Jump List and Toolbars tabs we now have a Navigation tab which allows you to turn off some of the Windows 8 features, or rather make it harder to get to them if you don’t know the keyboard shortcuts; why you would want to I don’t know.

The first improvement is for Techies giving us the option, on by default, to open PowerShell instead of the Command prompt from the context menu.

For the professional or business computer there is the option to go straight to the desktop on start-up. When I first started using Windows 8 the first thing I did was to hit the Desktop Tile, simply because that was where I was used to working. Now I use a combination of both modes and I like the way I get interaction on the Start screen, so this is one option that will remain off.

I have always thought it wrong that I cannot use a picture as a background to the Start screen, being forced to use one of the provided designs; well now I can, albeit it’s my Desktop background; but that’s OK as I have a set of NASA pictures that change daily.


The Apps view now has a cleaner look and you can sort it by Name (the default), date installed, most used and category making it much more useful.

The Navigation tab has an option to show Desktop apps first when the Apps view is sorted by category.

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I’m Supporting…


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Windows 8.1: the first thing you notice

The most obvious thing about the new version is the new size app icons; as you can see there are now four sizes and they can be grouped under a title.


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Windows 8.1 Preview is available


This pretty little fish is on the screen whilst I install the latest from Microsoft;

Windows 8.1 is an update to Windows 8 (what else), due for release sometime around October this year. Click this link if you want to try it yourself; BUT BE WARNED Angry smile: You cannot upgrade from the preview to the release version so you will be doing a clean install of your system in October. For this first release I am running it on a Virtual Machine which I can just scrap although I might decide to install it on my laptop later: it could do with a clear down anyway.

As with Windows 8, I’ll post some details as I go along but for now:


Yes, there it is for those who have been moaning about the loss of the Start Button!! but don’t smile too quickly; all it does is take you back to the Start Screen which you could do with the Windows key or swiping in from the left side on a touch screen.

Right clicking on it brings up the, albeit enhanced, context menu.

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Be Safe Online

I was reading this story on the BBC News and thought most people will take a look; think about it and then ignore it because they don’t realise how easy it is: so this post is intended as a quick guide to being safe online. A much better guide can be found here the government sponsored Get Safe Online website.

The first thing to point out is that people who hack computers are criminals so nothing they say can be trusted; an example: looks the same as the link in the first paragraph doesn’t it? Click on it and see what happens: don’t worry it’s safe. Thinking smile

Assuming this site hasn’t been hacked that link will take you to an error page. So how did I do that? it’s easy:

<a href="></a>

That’s the line of code that does it: the first part is the actual link; the second part, between the >< is what gets displayed on screen. I can put anything I want in there. I have deliberately used web addresses but often you will see a link displayed like this one: Click here to go somewhere nice!!! I hope you weren’t tempted to click it. Angry smile

OK so how do I know where I’m going: Take a look at these screenshots of a link:

image    image

The second picture was captured when I had my mouse hovering over the link; notice the address showing in the browser status bar. Now try it with our example and you will see the true link displayed.

imageIf your status bar isn’t showing turn it on; in Internet Explorer: click your right mouse button in the top part and check Status Bar

imageIn E-Mails hover over a link and you will see a popup; this is one I got this morning:

OK I just know you are going to say “it’s too much trouble to do that every time” which is exactly what the hacker is relying on.

So what to do:

  • Make sure your system is kept up to date
  • Make sure your Anti-Virus software is kept up to date and running
  • Get the latest version of your browser – they are more secure; I use Internet Explorer 10 which came out with Windows 8 but it is available for earlier operating systems.
  • Don’t be tempted by get rich quick links:- if it looks too good to be true it probably isn’t true.
  • Use Parental Control software to protect your kids if they are browsing (I bet you didn’t check the link Winking smile)
  • Just be aware and think before you click.
  • DO NOT IGNORE the warning box: Read it.

imageBy the way; if the little light beside your webcam comes on without you turning it on:

You’re being watched:

Don’t worry too much; my code can’t run unless you let it so when you click a link and a warning box comes up: read it before clicking YES.

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An Event for your Diary

  • When: 21:27 – 21:42 on Friday 19th July.
  • Where: Anywhere on Earth.
  • What: Look up in the sky towards Saturn, smile and wave as Cassini takes a photo of Earth.

SolSysSim6_final_642x361Yes I know the camera will not be able to see anyone, in fact it will not be able to see anything other than a blue dot, but imagine people all over the world looking up and waving:- it would be a great fun event.

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Smile for a while…

As I was lying around, pondering the problems of the world, I realised that:
.. If walking is good for your health, the postman would be immortal.
.. A whale swims all day, only eats fish, drinks water, but is still fat.
.. A rabbit runs and hops and only lives 15 years, while
.. A tortoise doesn’t run and does mostly nothing, yet it lives for 150 years.
And you tell me to exercise?? I don’t think so.

Not sure who penned this but thanks for the smile Smile

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PPC Will not claim for car use

I have commented on this guys use of public funds before so I have to give him his due. In this article ( he has declared that he will not be claiming for using his own car on official business. Good for him.

OK; now the cynical side of me comes out: The estimated saving is £3,000. I wonder how much his total expense claim will be for the year on top of his £70,000 salary.

Northamptonshire PCC Web Site

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Server Crash

Being a bit of a geek I run a server at home so laptops, workstations and media computer are all connected to a domain.

The server runs Windows Small Business Server (SBS) 2011 (upgraded from the earlier version) it has (had) 2 640GB hard drives, mirrored for recoverability, and it is backed up every day, so you would think that when something goes wrong it is easy to recover.

On Wednesday night the server went down and it turned out to be a hard drive failure. Since they are several years old I shouldn’t be too surprised when one of them give up the ghost but in this case it turned out to be both of them; which probably means I didn’t pay attention to the warning events.

Now the idea of having mirrored drives is that you take out the failed one, put a new one in and they synchronise without loss of service, apart for the time it takes to do the swap. Unfortunately when they both go you are left with no option but to rebuild; I hear you asking ‘what about the backup?’ yup, that would work fine if your server wasn’t the domain controller(DC). The beauty of SBS is that it is an all in one server with DC, Exchange, SQL Server and internal SharePoint web site. The down side is that when you have to rebuild, in my case using 2 shinny new 2GB drives, you are creating a new domain. New domain means that all the users and other computers have to join the new domain -and redo their settings.

So the backup – yes all of the file based data was recovered; E-mail was recovered by exporting to a pst then importing it after the rebuild but I couldn’t recover the SharePoint site because all of the running credentials were from the old domain. Not really an issue as it wasn’t used much so I decided it was too much trouble to adjust the credentials and I took the opportunity install SharePoint 2013.

Anyway 2 days later I am just about getting everything back to normal. I have decided to knock up a secondary DC using a virtual machine on my workstation so if it happens again I will not have to go through the pain of sorting out all of the user systems again; and I recommend anyone running a single DC do the same.

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Does anyone else think this is wrong

OK I’m a long term Microsoft supporter having learnt my trade primarily using the companies products;

That said I cannot for the life of me see why Microsoft has to push other companies products for them in the EU; If Microsoft have to do this then why doesn’t the same rule apply to Apple and Android (Goggle) based computers?

First it was Windows Media Player then Internet Explorer; so the EU users got a special version of Windows that didn’t have Media Player unless you went out and downloaded it, and then a Browser Choice application.

Web browser choice

You would think that the Browser Choice would offer IE as the first choice but no; Microsoft wanted to play fair so they randomised the pattern and, often as not, IE comes after some browsers I have never heard of. I wonder how many users faced with this choice will just hit the first button? I know quite a few who have done this and then complained to me (as family tech support) that everything has changed so I have had to go in and put them back onto their familiar browser. Don’t get me wrong, like most techies, I consider IE6 as a piece of junk full of security bugs but the world has moved on since then and we are now on IE10 which is arguably one of the best along side Firefox in its latest version.

Then, when they make a mistake and the choice application got left out the EU decided to fine them: what I want to know is; When are they going to impose the same rule on other OS vendors?

In the mean time kiddies; when you get the Browser Choice Window come up, don’t just hit the first button; look for Internet Explorer if you want the same as you had before or, if you want to look cool and trendy go for Firefox or, at worst, Chrome.

Personally I’ll stick with Internet Explorer for two reasons; firstly it’s made by Microsoft and will get patched very quickly if a bug is found; secondly I like it better than I like the rest of them.

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