Archive for Windows 10

Tech Tip – Access Your Phone’s Photos and Texts On Your Computer

The Windows 10 phone app means that you can get instant access to your Android phone’s photos and texts on your computer.  Here’s how to get it:

– Make sure you have latest version of Windows 10.

– Go to this page to launch the app: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/phones 

– Follow the steps to link your Android phone.

MFA Lockout For Microsoft & Azure Users Causes Business Disruption

The latest multi-factor authentication (MFA) issue left users of Azure and Microsoft Office 365 unable to login to their accounts on Monday 21st, causing widespread disruption to businesses in Europe, Asia, and some parts of the US.

What Happened?

According to reports by Azure, the root cause was a European-based database, reaching operation threshold with requests from MFA servers.  This led to latency and timeouts, and an attempt to re-route traffic through North America caused the extra traffic to block servers.

Finally Rectified

After lasting from 4.39 am to the evening in the UK, the problem was finally rectified.  According to Microsoft reports, services could be resumed after engineers removed the link between the backend service and the Azure Identity MFA service, thereby allowing the impacted servers to catch up with the existing authentication requests.

Happened Before

This was certainly not the first time that disruptive outages had occurred with Azure and Microsoft’s service.  For example, a global outage in September this year affected Azure and Office 365 users worldwide after one of Microsoft’s San Antonio-based servers was knocked offline by severe weather.  Also, in October, UK Office 365 users endured a 3-day-long outage and had the frustration of having more login prompts appearing after their user credentials had already been entered.

Price Rise Makes Outages More Annoying

In addition to the obvious costly business disruption, the spree of outages occurring around the time of announcements of new commercial prices i.e. an increase of 10% over previous on-premise pricing (4% increase for employees who are part of a volume discount agreement), the service failures caused even greater annoyance.

MFA

Multi-factor authentication, which works by requiring any two or more verification methods for a login / transaction, such as a randomly generated passcode, a phone call, a smart card (virtual or physical), or a biometric device, is designed to be beneficial to a user and their business because it should provide an extra layer of security for user sign-ins and transactions.  Unfortunately, in the case of this most recent outage, MFA cost users rather than helping them.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

For some companies, the recent outages at Microsoft and Azure are likely to bring into focus the dangers of placing huge operational dependency on one environment i.e. Microsoft, and of trusting a single cloud supplier to keep connected and productive during unplanned (and planned) email outages, especially when you have no independent cyber resilience and continuity plan.  In recent months, many businesses will have been counting the productivity costs of sticking to a software-as-a-service monoculture with a company whose service has let them down on several occasions.  Unfortunately, the dominance of big tech companies with their familiar Operating Systems and environments, and the fact that most businesses are committed to them with few possible, practical alternatives to choose from, mean that most businesses may simply have to unhappily endure the outages and weigh them up against the benefits and reliability of the environment generally.

For Microsoft, these outages can be damaging to its reputation and can shake the trust of its prized business users.

Tech Tip – Turn Your Handwriting Into a Font on Your Computer

In a creative and fun step, the latest update to Microsoft Windows now means that you can achieve maximum personalisation in your written communications by using the ‘Microsoft Font Maker’ to turn your handwriting into a font that you can install and use on your computer. Here’s how (N.B. It works best with a digital pen and tablet):

  • Download Microsoft Font Maker: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/microsoft-font-maker/9n9209f8s3vc?activetab=pivot:overviewtab
  • Either click the pen icon on the taskbar or manually enter the Settings > Devices > Pen & Windows Ink.
  • Launch Font Maker, and write each letter in each box as shown.
  • On the next page, write 3 short sentences to tell the program how to space your words.
  • Make any final adjustments in the size of font and spacing in the sample page (you’ll be shown this).
  • Click the Create button to export your font.
  • Save your new font to the fonts folder – go to the File Explorer folder icon on your taskbar, then – This PC > Local Disk > Windows > Fonts, or save it to a known location and then copy and paste it into the fonts folder.
  • You can now use a digital version of your own handwriting in popular programs e.g. Word and WordPad.

Tech Tip – Cloud Clipboard

With the new Windows 10 update and the new ‘Cloud Clipboard’ feature, you can avoid losing text that you’ve copied, see a history of the text and images you previously copied (via the new Cloud Clipboard feature), and even pin frequently used content to the clipboard permanently. Here’s how to use it:

  • Hit the Windows key + V. This shows all the content previously clipped and copied.
  • Select a piece of content from the clipboard history, left click on it.
  • The next time you select paste from the dropdown menu or hit Ctrl + V you will paste that selected content.
  • To make a piece of content permanently available in Cloud Clipboard, mouse over the content you want to keep, and left click the horizontal push-pin icon on the right-hand side of that item. The icon should switch to a diagonal position, indicating that it is now pinned to the menu.

Tech Tip – Save Time By Dictating Rather Than Typing

Microsoft’s Windows 10 contains speech recognition linked to Cortana that allow you to dictate speech through your Windows machine’s microphone, and convert it into typing in a text field. Here’s how to use it:

– Go to Settings.

– Go to Time & Language > Speech > Related settings and click “Speech, inking and typing privacy settings”. This will enable speech services and typing suggestions.

– Use the Windows Key-H hotkey combination in any text field to load a Cortana box that records your voice (through the machine’s microphone).

You may have to type manual punctuation, but you can still save time by dictating emails, messages, and more.

Tech Tip – Clearing & Organising Your Screen

If you sometimes have too many windows open and you need to clear things up and / or get back to the desktop view in Windows 10 as quickly as possible, here are a couple of tips that can help.

Windows 10 has a ‘shake your screen’ feature that enables you to quickly clear all the open windows so you can focus on one. Here’s how it works:

  • Grab the window you want to focus on from the top title bar.
  • Hold it and shake it. All other open Windows will then automatically minimise.
  • Shake it again to bring everything back!

Also, if you need to minimise all your open windows to get back to the desktop quickly:

  • Click on the bottom right corner, to the right of the line on your screen. All open windows will minimise. Click it again and all the windows will reappear in their original positions.

Tech Tip – Setting Print Screen Key To Screenshot On Windows 10

On Windows 10, starting with version 1809 (October 2018 Update), the ‘Snip & Sketch’ app has been re-purposed to become the new default for screenshots. You can, however, choose to set the Print Screen key on your keyboard to open the screen snipping tools. Here’s how:

— Open Settings.

— Click on Ease of Access.

— Click on Keyboard.

Under “Print Screen shortcut,” turn on the “Use the PrtScn button to open screen snipping” toggle switch.

Windows 10 October Rollout Suspended Due To File Deleting Fault

The October rollout of the update to Windows 10 as part of the SaaS model has been suspended due to reports that some customers have experienced mass file deletions.

Eating Files

It has been reported that the rollout of version 1809 October 2018 update for Windows 10 has been temporarily halted after users reported that files had been deleted and over-written.

The update rollout (which is due to be happening in waves over the course of this month) was stopped after users took to Microsoft’s support site and social media to complain, express their anger, and warn other users of what appears to be quite a serious fault.

For example, one user warned others that if documents are saved in the user directory, i.e. users/John, and not on OneDrive, the update deletes everything in that location. Similarly, another user reported that the whole of their “My Documents” folder was deleted by the update, including all of their personal documents (Word docs, spreadsheets, etc). Other issues such as incorrect CPU usage in Task Manager and broken audio drivers have also been reported.

What’s Causing It?

Some tech commentators are blaming the fault on OneDrive, Microsoft’s online file hosting and synchronization service, and a bug in its user profile settings. Engadget, for example, has said that the bug may have slipped through early testing despite reports of the issue appearing on Microsoft’s Feedback Hub some months ago.

The official word is that the exact cause is, as yet, unknown and that users who have already downloaded the update or are enrolled in programs like Windows Insider shouldn’t proceed with version 1809 until Microsoft has released a fix. For the rest of us, it’s a case of making sure that we haven’t downloaded the broken version yet, backing up files now as a precaution, and waiting for the automatic update as normal (which should contain the fix).

On The Upside – More Android Compatibility

Even though the technical fault in the update has dominated the news, with the fix in place, there are some positive aspects and improvements in the update, most notably in Android compatibility. For example, the update allows a better connection between your phone and your Windows desktop by enabling photo syncing and a direct interface to send and receive text messages via your device.

Other Good Points

Also, the latest update will bring a cloud clipboard (across devices), allowing you to copy more than one thing at a time. This will be included as part of Windows Timeline. There will also be new extensions for both Chrome and Firefox to give them the same functionality as Edge.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Many tech commentators had predicted that it was likely that there would be some kind of problem with the latest update, but this file-deleting bug is probably much worse than they were expecting and could be devastating, disruptive and costly to businesses that have installed the update but haven’t recently backed-up their files. It is worth, therefore, taking the official advice of backing up files now as a precaution and if you’re part of the Windows Insider programme, not proceeding with version 1809 until the fix has been released.

The Android OS has the biggest worldwide market share, just ahead of Symbian, thanks to its extensive app availability, easy interface, functionality and affordability. With more of us spending more time away from the desktop in the working day, it is helpful, therefore, that the latest Windows 10 update will help sync our Android phones with our desktops.

Since many people don’t use Edge as their main browser, its also good news that the latest Windows update (extensions) will bring greater functionality to Firefox and Chrome.

Tech Tip – Disable Flash in Edge to Speed Things Up

Adobe Flash may be a way to make websites more exciting and engaging, but it can contain bugs, security holes, and it can really slow things down when you’re waiting for Flash-heavy pages to load. In Windows 10 you can quickly and easily turn off Flash in the Edge browser. Here’s how

Go to Settings and scroll until you can click “View Advanced Settings”.

Toggle “Use Adobe Flash Player” to off.