Microsoft Releases Additional Patches

Meltdown and Spectre patches have been rereleased and they don’t crash AMD machines any more!

 

During january’s Patch Tuesday, Microsoft released patches for both Meltdown and Spectre. They worked, too.  Well, for Intel processors, anyway.  AMD processors didn’t have as great an experience.  Some AMD based computers ended up getting bricked.  Once the reports of this reached Microsoft, they pulled the patches, cand cancelled Patch Tuesday.

On 2018-01-17, Microsoft rereleased AMD based patches for Windows 10.  What makes this a bit confusing for many is that depending on the version of Windows 10 you’re running, you obviously end up with a different build for that version of Windows 10.  Microsoft released build 14393.2034 for the Anniversary Update and build 15063.877 for the Creators update. Microsoft also released build 16299.194 for the Fall Creators Update.  This last build contained a fix for AMD devices.

There are a few issues that you need to be aware of in all of these builds. Thankfully, Neowin kindly pulled the following information together for everyone.

Symptom Workaround
Windows Update History reports that KB4054517 failed to install because of Error 0x80070643. Even though the update was successfully installed, Windows Update incorrectly reports that the update failed to install. To verify the installation, select Check for Updates to confirm that there are no additional updates available.

You can also type About your PC in the Search box on your taskbar to confirm that your device is using the expected OS build.

Microsoft is working on a resolution and will provide an update in an upcoming release.

When calling CoInitializeSecurity, the call will fail if passing RPC_C_IMP_LEVEL_NONE under certain conditions.

When calling CoInitializeSecurity, the call may fail when passing RPC_C_AUTHN_LEVEL_NONE as the authentication level. The error returned on failure is STATUS_BAD_IMPERSONATION_LEVEL.

Change the authentication level parameter to RPC_C_AUTHN_LEVEL_CALL.

Microsoft is working on a resolution and will provide an update in an upcoming release.

Due to compatibility issues with some versions of antivirus software, this update causes stop errors or abrupt reboots. Contact your antivirus (AV) vendor and follow their guidance.

 

Microsoft further released additional patches for Windows 10 Version 1511, Build 10586.1358.  This update further has AMD based fixes in it.  There are also known issues with it, and again, thanks to Neowin, we have the following details

Symptom Workaround
When calling CoInitializeSecurity, the call will fail if passing RPC_C_IMP_LEVEL_NONE under certain conditions.

When calling CoInitializeSecurity, the call may fail when passing RPC_C_AUTHN_LEVEL_NONE as the authentication level. The error returned on failure is STATUS_BAD_IMPERSONATION_LEVEL.

Change the authentication level parameter to RPC_C_AUTHN_LEVEL_CALL.

Microsoft is working on a resolution and will provide an update in an upcoming release.

Due to an issue with some versions of antivirus software, this fix only applies to the machines where the antivirus ISV has updated the ALLOW REGKEY. Contact your antivirus AV to confirm that

their software is compatible and have set

the following REGKEY on the machine

Key=”HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE” Subkey=”SOFTWARE\Microsoft\

Windows\CurrentVersion\QualityCompat”

Value Name=”cadca5fe-87d3-4b96-b7fb-a231484277cc”

Type=”REG_DWORD”

Data=”0x00000000”

 

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The Day After the [Patches] Before

My office implemented both Meltdown and Spectre patches over the weekend…

In the previous weeks, both the Meltdown and Spectre processor vulnerabilities have been making a great deal of news. At my office – a financial firm – a Windows shop running Windows 7 (like most of the business world), implemented Windows based patches this past weekend. The results, especially in some of our older hardware, haven’t been very good. Thankfully, those machines are non-critical, non-business systems: For example, those that are used to display presentations in a conference room during a meeting. Unfortunately, the performance on those machines is atrocious. They are nearly unusable.

To understand what’s going on with those machines and why they now suck beyond all relief, we have to understand what the vulnerabilities are and what’s needed to patch both of them.

Meltdown Logo

Meltdown effects both x86 and ARM based microprocessors and allows rogue processes read all memory, even if unauthorized to do so. Meltdown effects nearly ALL processors used today. Resolution of this vulnerability will require a hardware revision, or effectively a new processor. For most computers – laptops especially – this isn’t likely to happen. Replacing a laptop’s microprocessor is expensive, and is likely not possible, as it would also require new system boards and supporting chipsets.

The only way to resolve this vulnerability is to come up with some level of operating system patch. Most of the operating systems used today have been, or are in the process of being, patched, including iOS, Linux, macOS and Windows.

Unfortunately, Meltdown patches are likely to cause performance issues, especially in older machines. The vulnerability makes all memory, including cache memory accessible. The patch works by constantly flushing the cache, making the computer work harder to put information back into it, where it can be read quickly. Unfortunately, since the cache is constantly being flushed, the computer is often forced to read it back into memory from the hard drive, slowing things down. In some cases, this happens far too often, forcing your computer’s hardware to fight against its operating system, putting it into a constant read loop. By the time the drive has read ahead enough information, its likely had the cache flushed, requiring it to start over again.

Spectre Logo
Spectre is a vulnerability that effects modern processors that perform branch prediction, or a way to predetermine possible execution outcomes allowing for speed of computations and actions. When the computer doesn’t predict where “you’re going” correctly, your computer may leave observable side effects that may reveal private data to hackers. For example, if the pattern of memory accesses performed by such speculative execution depends on private data, the resulting state of the data cache constitutes a side channel through which an attacker may be able to extract information about the private data using a timing attack.

There are two common vulnerabilities and exposure IDs related to Spectre, one for bounds check bypass and one for branch target injection. JIT engines used for JavaScript were found vulnerable. A website can read data stored in the browser for another website, or the browser’s memory itself.

Unfortunately, Spectre patches are also known to cause performance issues; and they have been reported to significantly slow down a PC’s performance, especially, again, on older computers. On newer, 8th generation Intel processors, performance has been known to take a 2% to 14% hit.

With both of these patches on your machine, your current computing experience is likely totally hosed, no matter what generation processor you have or how much computing power you possess.

For example, if you do anything with any kind of video, you’re going to have an especially hard time. Patches for both of these vulnerabilities are likely to result in a performance hit of anywhere between 10% to as much as 50%. As a result, graphic and video renders can take up to twice as long to complete, if they don’t just crash your machine.

However, it isn’t all gloom and doom. There does appear to be some light at the end of the tunnel. Fixes for Spectre aren’t easy to implement. The problem is likely going to be around for quite some time. However, while a great deal of the vulnerabilities are executed through Java Script, and therefore while you’re surfing the web, Browsers such as Chrome, and Firefox are implementing other processes on top of the OS level patches you likely already have. You could also completely eliminate browser based exploits for both Meltdown and Spectre by disabling JavaScript all together.

It has also been suggested that the cost of mitigation can be alleviated by processors which feature selective translation lookaside buffer (TLB) flushing, a feature which is called process-context identifier (PCID) under Intel 64 architecture; and under Alpha, an address space number (ASN). This is because selective flushing enables the TLB behavior crucial to the exploit to be isolated across processes, without constantly flushing the entire TLB – the primary reason for the cost of mitigation.

Personally, I haven’t seen much of a slow down on my Late 2013 MacBook Pro. Thankfully, I seem to be falling somewhere in the 2% to 14% performance hit. How things go from here, however will help me decide if I stay with this Mac or wait until Apple releases a new Mac with a new processor that doesn’t fall victim to this nasty issue.

What happened to you and your computer? Do you have an older machine? Have you installed the patches? Are you experiencing a performance hit that you’d like to reveal or discuss with someone?

If so, give me a shout and let me know where you stand. You can find me in the Discussion are a below or you can send me an email.

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Check for Windows 10 Updates

Quickly check for Windows 10 system updates with this handy how-to…

Sometimes, checking for updates on your Windows 10 PC can be a pain. You either have to swipe open the Action Center and then open Settings, or get to Settings through the Start Menu. Then, you have to scroll down to Updates and Security and click it. While this isn’t a huge deal, it can be sort of a pain, as it involves a few steps.

There’s actually a much easier way of taking care of manually checking for updates. This cool tip, however, is going to require you to make some modifications to your Windows 10 computer’s Registry.

If you’re not comfortable making Registry modifications, then you might want to skip this one. However, if you’re undaunted by the challenge, and you’d like to put the ability to check for Windows 10 updates on a right click context menu off the Desktop, then you should follow the steps outlined below.

Step 1
1. Open Regedit
2. Navigate to Computer\HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\DesktopBackground\Shell
3. Select the “Shell” folder in the left pane
4. Right Click the “Shell” folder in the left pane
5. Click New – Key from the context menu that appears
6. Name the new Key (folder) “Check for Updates” without the quotes and press enter
7. Select the “Check for Updates” folder in the left pane
8. Right Click the “Check for Updates” folder in the left pane
9. Click New – Key from the context menu that appears
10. Name the new Key (folder), “command” (all lower case) without the quotes and press enter. You’re going to create two (2) string values, one in each of the folders (Keys) that you’ve created.
11. Right click the “Check for Updates” Key (folder).
12. Select New – String from the context menu that appears.
13. Name the String, “SettingsURI” without the quotes.
14. Double click the new string you just created and enter the following value into the “Value data” field: ms-settings:windowsupdate-action

Step 2
15. Right click the “command” Key (folder).
16. Select New – String from the context menu that appears.
17. Name the String, “DelegateExecute” without the quotes.
18. Double click the new string you just created and enter the following value into the “Value data” field: {556FF0D6-A1EE-49E5-9FA4-90AE116AD744}

If you’ve done everything correctly, then once you right click on the Windows 10 Desktop, you should see an entry in the context menu called Check for Updates. Clicking it, will launch Settings – Updates and Security – Windows Update – Check for Updates, and will automatically… check for updates.

This added shortcut will DRASTICALLY cut down on the amount of time it takes to manually check for updates to your Windows 10 computer. However, you should know that your Windows 10 PC will automatically check for updates on its own. It will also download them in the background and likely install most of them, without you ever knowing that you needed to do… anything. However, if you want to stay on top of things, as I do, then this is the quickest and easiest way I’ve found to check for updates as often as you want or need.

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Disable Fast Startup in Windows 10

This new feature in the Fall Creators Update is taking many by surprise…

If you’ve got the Fall Creators Update on your Windows 10 PC, then you’ve probably noticed a new feature that Microsoft is calling “Fast Startup.” The feature claims to improve the speed of your boot times, so you spend less time waiting on your PC to boot and more time working, being productive. Windows has this feature enabled by default, so if you’re using the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, then, you’re likely booting faster than you were before, and have likely noticed it.

Most users will like the faster booting times, but there are a few things about it that you should know so you can decide if you want to disable it or not. Understanding how it works, is going to go a long way to getting you to this decision.

Normally, when you shut your PC down, you do what many call a “cold shutdown.” Here, you save everything to your hard drive or SSD, close all the programs and kill the power. RAM is cleared. When you turn the PC back on, it loads everything back on the drive BACK into RAM in order for it to function as intended. That’s the way everyone is used to having “shut down” work on their PC.

When users have Fast Startup enabled, the computer doesn’t shut down, per se. It really hibernates instead.

Fast Startup saves all of your active data to a hibernation file before turning off. When you turn it back on, it reads in the hibernation file, putting you back to where you were before it shut down. Interestingly enough, Fast Startup can only be enabled if your PC has the ability to hibernate, AND then only if hibernation is enabled.

So, this brings you up and down quicker. That’s good right? Right?

Well… not always. There are some times when you really might want it disabled.

Drivers…

Drivers are a GREAT reason why disabling features like Fast Startup are a good idea. Windows system drivers are historically known for being picky about how they are accessed. Windows has always had issues with power and power management, and some system level drives simply don’t like being accessed after being in a hibernated state. They may not flush out of RAM correctly. They may not initialize into RAM correctly from hibernation. They may really want to be loaded and/ or reloaded upon hardware startup in order to function correctly. When they don’t get initialized right, depending on how they access RAM or what portions of RAM they live in and access, they can either make the PC unstable, OR they can crash the entire PC.

Boot loaders are another GREAT reason why you may want to disable Fast Startup. Some boot loaders don’t get accessed correctly from a hibernated state, as the Fast Startup and hibernation in general has a tendency to want to lock the hard drive. When you want to boot into a different operating system, you may find that they only way you can reliably do this is to reboot the PC after “resuming” via Fast Startup, as you can’t access the boot loader choice for additional operating systems upon startup.

That extra restart WILL do a cold restart, by the way; so if you’re ever updating the operating system, or doing some kind of activity that really requires you to go “all the way down,” having Fast Startup enabled doesn’t prevent you from swapping out locked system files (or files that are in use) after Windows Update updates your PC.

So should you ALWAYS disable Fast Startup? Signs point to, “no.”

If things work ok for you… if you don’t have driver issues, problems or errors, you should be ok. You can keep it enabled and enjoy the faster booting times. You have to keep in mind, though, that if you want access to your hard drive from outside windows, you likely won’t be able to get that access with the feature enabled.

If you’re noticing that you get BSoD’s or you start having issues with devices not working or spinning up correctly; or if things don’t work without an extra restart, then yeah. You may want to consider disabling Fast Startup. Doing this is really pretty easy.

Ok… so how do I enable or disable Fast Startup on Windows 10’s Fall Creators Update?
If you wish to disable Fast Startup, follow these simple steps:

1. On the Desktop, press Win-X.

2. Choose Power Options from the context menu that appears.

3. Choose Power & sleep on the left side menu.

4. Under Related Settings, click the Additional power settings link.
Power and Sleep

5. On the left side of the Power Options window that appears, click the, “Choose what the power button does” link.
Power Options

6. On the Power Options – System Settings window that appears, if you see an Admin Link for Change settings that are currently unavailable, click it.
System Settings
7. The three check boxes under Shutdown Settings should enable. Uncheck the Turn on fast startup (recommended) check box.
Shutdown Settings

If you don’t see a check box for fast startup, it’s because hibernation has somehow become disable on your PC. Renabling this is actually a lot easier than turning Fast Startup on or off.

To enable hibernation on your PC, follow these steps:

1. On the Desktop, press Win-X.

2. Choose Command Prompt (Administrator) from the context menu that appears.

3. In the Command Prompt window, type the following:

powercfg –h /on

and press enter

If you need to need to disable Fast Startup, you can follow the steps in the above section, now.

At this point, you will notice that it takes your PC a bit longer to start up. This may be an issue for you in the long run; but as they say, slow and steady wins the race. Any driver issues you have, should be gone. Any update issues you have, should certainly be gone.

Was Fast Startup an issue for you? Did you have a need or desire to disable it? If so, I’d love to hear from you. Why don’t you meet me in the Discussion area, below and let me know what you did.

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The Difference between Outlook.com and Gmail

I recently had a very good friend of mine ask me the difference between the two. Here’s the skinny…

eMail services today aren’t like they used to be. It used to be that you got email because of the online service you used (like CompuServe, Prodigy, American Online or MSN, to name a few…). Some of them were IMAP related services. Some of them were POP3 related. In very rare occasions, depending on the level of service you purchased, some of them were corporate based or corporate classed, like Microsoft Exchange services. And, on top of that, you nearly ALWAYS had an email application (like Outlook or Outlook Express) to read your email with.gmail

Today, it’s a completely different story.

Today, nearly all email addresses are services that you choose to use. While the players have largely changed – all except for Microsoft, who still offers email via Outlook.com – most users choose to use web based email services provided by one of the larger consumer SaaS providers like Google, Microsoft, (and yes, even) Yahoo! (still…).

So, as I said, I recently had a very trusted, and good friend ask me what the difference between Outlook.com and Gmail were; and more importantly if one was better than the other. My answer, as always, was qualified. It depends.aL0gJ9_Y

It depends… on your needs.

So, for this discussion, I’m going to leave the Office compatible applications OUT of the conversation. Both offer Microsoft Office or Office compatible app suites, including eMail, but they also offer

• Word Processing – Word Online vs. Google Docs
• Spreadsheets – Excel Online vs. Sheets
• Presentations – PowerPoint Online vs. Slides
• Online Storage – OneDrive vs. Google Backup and Sync

For the sake of our discussion, we’re going to call these pretty much even; though, Google’s online storage offering does offer full computer backup, where OneDrive does not.

We’re going to instead concentrate on the email offering, which, believe it or not, is also, pretty much even. However, there are a few differences, and I want to touch on those so that you can pick out the service that is really the best for you.

Here are the nuts and bolts of the differences between Gmail and Outlook.com

Feature Gmail Outlook.com
Cost Free Free
Accessibility Online or Offline; but offline isn’t easy Online or offline
Tags & Folders Uses labels instead of folders Folders and Categories
SPAM Filtering Comprehensive Rudimentary
Attachment Size 25MB 10MB

 

There are perhaps one or two more differences of note; and depending on your situation, they may make a difference to you.

The biggest one is that will likely may any difference to anyone is that Outlook.com supports Exchange and Gmail does not. This won’t make any difference to you unless you intend to use Microsoft Outlook as an email client. Exchange allows you to take full advantage of all of Outlook’s features.

For example, while Gmail supports calendaring, Exchange’s calendar features are an industry standard. In fact, most of the features in Outlook are an industry standard. The thing about Outlook.com is that if you really want to use it, you’re best email client is going to be Outlook. If you’re not wanting to use Outlook, then you don’t have to.

Outlook.com will still work with a web browser, and work well; but if you really want that to work well, you’re going to need to use Edge or Internet Explorer. While Outlook.com works with any web browser, its feature set is deprecated with anything else other than a Microsoft web browser. Gmail works with Outlook, but it requires either POP3 or IMAP configurations. Gmail also really wants to live in a browser, and more than that… it really wants to live in Google Chrome.

So, at the end of the day, where does this really leave us? Honestly, that’s pretty easy.

If you want to use Outlook, then you should choose Outlook.com or Office 365 for your email needs. Outlook.com will default to Exchange regardless of the email address it creates for you. If you want to use it as either a POP3 or IMAP service, you can, of course, but you won’t get the advantages of Exchange, in Microsoft Outlook if you go that route.

If Exchange Services aren’t important to you, then , as I mentioned you can still use Outlook.com as a POP3 or IMAP service provider, or you can simply go with Gmail, which has some of the most reliable, easiest to configure services available It just depends on what you want to do and how you want to do it… It’s really up to you.

So what are the differences between Gmail and Outlook.com? Why do you pick one over the other? To be honest, I’m going to tell you exactly what I told my friend:

They’re effectively identical.

The only reason why you choose one over the other is going to depend on what type of mobile devices you have (Google services plays best with Android devices…); or whether or not you need or want Exchange.

If either of these are a toss up, then by all means, just pick one. To be honest, most folks aren’t going to care and it won’t really matter… It’s not your email needs that are going to drive you to pick one over the other. It’s going to be another service – Exchange, Office Suite compatibility, web browser needs/ choice, or full app client that are going to push you to choose one over the other.

If none of that makes a difference to you, then by all means… flip a coin.

However, I’d love to hear what you chose and why. Did you go Google or Microsoft? Chrome or Outlook? Why don’t you meet me in the Discussion area, below and tell me what direction you went and why. I’d love to hear all about it.

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Microsoft Introduces Surface Book 2

If you thought Surface was just a passing fancy, think again…

Surface-Book-2-696x429

I’ve always been a HUGE fan of Microsoft Signature PC’s. They are, in my opinion, the best Windows experience that you can buy. They don’t have any extra crap on them that would take away from or distract you from your computing purpose. It’s one of the reasons why I really like Microsoft Surface PC’s as well.

Over the past five or so years, I’ve had an original Surface Pro, a Surface Pro 3 and a Surface Book. The combination of the devices features – like the touch screens and pens – have made the Surface line one that I find very valuable, especially in a corporate setting. The Surface Pro and the Surface Book are both perfect for Microsoft OneNote and for a number of different business applications, including custom sales and invoicing apps as well as process and business flow.

Recently, Microsoft released an update to their Surface Book line, and this update, is squarely aimed at not only the creative professional, but the enterprise as well. The Surface Book 2 now comes in both its original 13 inch size, but also a new, 15 inch version. The new size, paired with Intel’s eight generation Core i processor and better graphics hardware also enables Microsoft’s Mixed Reality Headsets.

Like its earlier iterations, the Surface Book 2 has put the bulk of its processing power in the tablet. The keyboard houses both the extra battery and the new Nvidia graphics cards. The 13″ version has an optional Nvidia GeForce 1050 and the 15″ gets a GeForce 1060 by default. Both are mainstream gaming graphics cards and a big step up from what the Surface Book was previously equipped with.

The following are basic specs for both versions of the Surface Book 2.

 

 

Surface Book 2 – 13″ Surface Book 2 15″
Processor Intel 8th-gen Core i5 (dual-core) or i7 (quad-core) U-series processors Intel 8th-gen Core i7 U-series processors
Display 13.5-inch 3,000×2,000-pixel display 15-inch 3,240×2,160-pixel display
Graphics Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 GPU

(Core i7 version only)

Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU
USB Ports 2x USB-A 3.1 ports

1x USB-C 3.1 port

2x USB-A 3.1 ports

1x USB-C 3.1 port

Card Reader SDXC card reader SDXC card reader
RAM 8GB or 16GB RAM 16GB RAM
Storage 256GB, 512GB or 1TB SSD storage 256GB, 512GB or 1TB SSD storage
Intel 8th-gen Core i5 (dual-core) or i7 (quad-core) U-series processors Intel 8th-gen Core i7 U-series processors

When it comes to augmented reality, both of these convertibles are in good shape to perform well. Both work well with Microsoft’s Pen and the Fall Creators Update version of Windows 10. You can, for example, create a file in Microsoft’s Paint 3D and then drop it into a real word situation, capturing everything with the device’s 8MP, rear-facing camera. The only problem that you’re going to have here, when trying to hook into AR headsets is the lack of an HDMI port, though you shouldn’t have any real concerns with performance of the box or its graphics adapters. According to recent test results, both versions of the Surface Book 2 can be taken seriously as gaming machines, which is kinda cool.

Microsoft is also releasing a new mouse, called the Surface Precision Mouse. It’s got a more traditional design than either the original Surface Mouse or the Surface Arc Mouse. It also includes a set of programmable left side buttons; and supports both wired USB and wireless Bluetooth connectivity. As of this writing, pricing for these devices has not been released, though you should expect them to fall somewhere between $50 and $80 USD.

Microsoft is putting the Surface Book 2 directly against the new Apple MacBook Pro. According to Microsoft, the Surface Book 2 is a much better performer. There may be some truth to this, as the Apple MacBook Pros are still using previous generation Core Intel processor. Pricing for the new Microsoft Surface Book2 starts at $1499 USD for the 13 inch version and $2499 for the 15″ version.

In my opinion, pricing for the Surface Book line has always been a bit on the high side. As I previously stated, Microsoft is clearly targeting the Surface Book 2 at Apple’s MacBook Pro. The problem that I have with this pricing strategy is that the MacBook Pro is a clearly well established, top performing machine with a long history of top notch components and high price tags.

Microsoft doesn’t have any of these precedent, with any version of the Surface Book. The device has had what I would consider to be a mediocre performance history, especially with all of the issues that were first encountered with the original Surface Book and its ROM problems.

This update is also mostly what I would call an evolutionary update rather than any update of note. Surface Book with Performance Base, released earlier this year, put a better graphics card in the keyboard along with the extra battery. It also bumped the price up quite a bit.

The Surface Book 2 offers a new processor and a new graphics card; but the fact that it also offers a new 15″ screen size takes this device to a completely new level, in my opinion. It clearly brings the Surface Book up into a better class of computing device, and may actually make the larger price tag, a bit more reasonable. To be honest, we’re going to have to wait and see on that one, though. The a5″ version is new. It’s a completely different device than the 13″ version, with different components and different drivers; and Microsoft has always had an issue with drivers and components when it comes to Windows, regardless of version. So this clearly falls in the wait and see category…

Is Surface Book 2 something that you’re interested in? Will it be a convertible that you pursue or keep your eye on as a potential work tool? I’d love to hear what you plan to do. Why don’t you give me your thoughts in the Discussion area below?

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G Suite’s New Calendar Interface

If you were looking for enhanced functionality out of Google Calendar, you’re about to get it…

My good friend Doug Golding used to have a site called Just Another Mobile Monday. He got out of the mobile enthusiast world and sold the site and unfortunately, the site didn’t survive much past the sale even though it had a decent run afterwards.

However, it was during that time that I wrote a review on the Nexus One and got deep, DEEP into Google Services. In fact, I was all in with iTechGear.org by that time and I had started using what is now called G Suite for all of my PIM services – mail, calendar, contacts and to-do’s.

As of 2017-10-17, there’s a new look and a new set of features for Google Calendar on the web. Google has taken a lot of what they’ve learned over the past seven years related to their mobile apps and have brought that knowledge forward to the desktop, web version of Calendar. This new design is responsive. It adapts itself to your screen size, presenting you with the proper controls for your size screen. Google has also added additional enterprise level features designed to help teams prep for meetings.

Google Calendar

In the new version of Calendar you can:

• See conference room details when booking a room. G Suite admins can enter detailed information about room locations so users know its location, size, seating capacity, A/V equipment status, Accessibility features, etc. Users can simply hover their pointing device cursor over the location and get all the information about the location and its resources.
• Add rich formatting and hyperlinks to calendar invitations. You can link out to documents (word processing and spreadsheets) and presentation files, and then open them directly in a new Event Detail view. Meeting agendas are now more comprehensive and interactive, and attendees can be more productive and prepared prior to the actual meeting.
• Manage multiple calendars in a single view. It’s now easier to see who is busy with what at specific times during the day so that scheduling meetings when attendees are free is now easier and more efficient.
• View contact information of meeting attendees in a calendar invitation. Again, hovering your mouse cursor over an attendee’s name will get you the details you need.
• More easily view and restore deleted items in a single place if you accidentally delete a meeting invitation.
• Day, Week and Month views are now more accessible, featuring better compatibility with screen readers

The new changes will be rolling out during the month of November 2017. By the time this is posted, we should be very close to when Rapid Release domains will begin seeing the new UI implemented (2017-11-14). Scheduled Release domains will begin transitioning to the new UI at the end of the month (2017-11-28); and the transition depending on domain size will take about eight (8) weeks. Admins will have the opportunity to opt-in or opt-out. Admins may also manually opt-in via the Google Admin console.

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Top 10 Features of Microsoft’s Fall Creators Update

The latest bits are now available. Download ’em if you want ’em!

http://www.zdnet.com/article/windows-10-fall-creators-update-should-you-upgrade-now/

Microsoft's Fall Creators Update

During the middle of October, Microsoft released the fourth feature update to Windows 10, the Fall Creators Update. This new version is listed as version 1709 . The final build number is 16299. I’ve pulled together a quick list of some of the new features that might be of use to everyone. I’ve also got some personal impressions of the new update, as it has already installed on my Surface Book, and I’ve been using it almost daily for the past couple of weeks.

New Features
Here are some of the newest, more compelling features of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. Depending on what you’re doing and how you’re doing it, these may or may not matter to you.

Action Center
You’re going to see a HUGE revamp of the Action Center in the Fall Creators Update. You’ll see new organization, improved notification hierarch and separation and a new, enhanced integration with Cortana. The Action Center is probably one of the most noticeable and used features of Windows 10, and this improvement is going to be very noticeable, if not in your face, as soon as the OS boots.

Mixed Reality Headsets
With the Fall Creators Update, Microsoft is finally and completely throwing its hat into the mixed reality ring. Besides Microsoft’s own Halolens, other third party providers are also prepping six degrees of freedom (6DOF) powered headsets, manufacturers like Dell, Acer, ASUS and HP are also launching mixed reality headsets this month. Some of these manufacturers are also expected to release Mixed Reality certified PC’s, too.

Mixed Reality Viewer
Coupled with its Mixed Reality headset initiative, those that can’t or don’t want to shell out the shekels for a mixed reality headset will still be able to take advantage of mixed reality via Microsoft’s Mixed Reality Viewer. Any device with a compatible web can will be able to climb in and experience mixed reality with the Fall Creators Update. Users of this app will also be able to use the new and included tools like 3D Paint to create their own elements, too.

Story Remix
The Windows 10 Photos app has gone through a complete revamp in the Fall Creators Update. Story Remix is an evolutionary update to Photos that implements machine learning and mixed reality to automatically create cool highlight reels of your digital content. You can include stills and videos as well as edit your own soundtrack. On top of that, you’ll be able to include 3D mixed reality objects and animations in your creations directly from Microsoft’s 3D database.

(These are) My People
My People was originally supposed to be part of the Creators Update, but didn’t make the cut. My People assumes that your digital life revolves around a small group of contacts and makes the contact cards for those chosen few available directly from the taskbar.

Ransomware Protection
With Controlled Folder Access, you can insure that you don’t fall victim to ransomware and other malware designed to keep you from accessing your files. When enabled through Windows Defender, unauthorized access to specific folders will be prevented. Protected folders include Documents, Pictures, Movies and Desktop; and can’t be removed. You may also manually specify other protected folders and can whitelist individual apps that are allowed to access those locations.

Phone and PC Integration
With Windows Phone officially dying, Microsoft is making phone and PC integration a major part of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. After you’ve linked your phone to your Windows account, you can push web pages and even files back and forth to your phone and computer. Windows 10 will also notify you of, and allow you to respond to, text messages and to see missed calls on your PC. Cortana also has a new, “I’ve got more for you” section that displays apps, documents and websites you were recently working with on your other devices, allowing you to pick up where you left off. Unfortunately, the list of supported applications is limited as of this Windows 10 version’s initial release.

OneDrive Files on Demand
As I noted back in June of 2017, Microsoft’s replacement for Windows 8 Placeholders is Files on Demand.

With Files on Demand, you’ll be able to see what files are available in the cloud and which ones are stored locally. You can select which individual files or folders will be available only online or which ones can be edited while offline.

If an app tries to download a file that’s only stored in the Cloud, you’ll see a Windows 10 popup notification display. The popup will show you details of the file being downloaded and give you the opportunity to download the file or block the app from accessing OneDrive completely.

Enhanced Linux Support
If you’re a Linux user and rely on the Bash shell support in Windows to do what you do, you’re going to like the changes in the Fall Creators Update. Now, Linux support in Windows has been expanded to support additional Linux distributions, including SUSE and Fedora. All three distributions are available in the Windows Store. You also will no longer be required to enable and configure Developer Mode to use Bash anymore.

Additional Update Options
One of the biggest problems with Windows 10 was the way updates to the operating system have been delivered since its original release. Settings now includes Delivery Optimization Advanced Options. These give you granular control over how Windows 10 handles and delivers updates to you. These advanced options allow you to tell the OS to limit how much of your network bandwidth is used to download new updates. A new Activity Monitor also shows you how much data has been pulled down specifically for Windows Updates per month, and to see where it went.

Personal Findings and Impressions
I’ve been using the Fall Creators Update since its release on 2017-10-17. Unlike the original Creators Update that took absolutely FOREVER to be received by most Windows 10 users, the Fall Creators Update made an almost immediate appearance to many users. If you had a Microsoft Signature PC, you likely got notification that your PC could download the update immediately. I know that’s what happened to me with my Surface Book.

However, since the update installed, my experience has been anything but stellar.

In fact, I’ve had to reset my PC at least 3 times in less than two weeks due to some app and utility incompatibilities. I’m also not completely done with all that mess, as I’m still trying to figure out where some of my issues are coming from.

I’ve been working with one of the developers of one of the 3rd party utilities that I’ve been using, and his insight into what is going on and why it is happening has been more than enlightening.

The issue that I’ve got has to do with – I think – incomplete compatibility with my 3rd party virus scanner of choice, Webroot Secure Anywhere. The problem I have is with the creation, deletion and recreation of temporary application files used by the utility. It appears that Webroot Secure Anywhere is removing all permissions from files in a specific folder. This folder needs to be deleted as part of the app’s normal operation. Unfortunately, Webroot is stripping all permissions from the folder without quarantining it, making the app non-functional.

I think the issue has to do with the rate at which folders are created and deleted by my utility that is causing the issue.

At this point, I have a choice. I can forego the use of my utility and install Webroot Secure Anywhere, or I can use my utility and trust Windows Defender to protect my computer. While my utility isn’t mission critical, it IS something that I want to use and keep on using. I also do not trust Defender enough to keep my PC…

And so here I sit.

I am currently trying to figure out exactly what to do. I have contacted Both the developer of the utility that I’m using and Webroot. The utility developer I’ve heard from. In fact, we’ve had a rather prolonged and protracted conversation about this issue. He actually has a few users with the same problem. They are also using Webroot Secure Anywhere.

I have heard nothing in reply to my inquiry with Webroot. Nothing at all; but I’m not surprised that my problem is related to a virus scanner. These apps over and above all others are known to cause issues with OS upgrades and other basic OS functions.

Have you downloaded the Fall Creators Update? Are you using it yet? If so, have you bumped into any issues or problems? I’d love to hear your impressions of the Update, as my experience thus far has been mixed.

Why don’t you meet me I the Discussion area below and give me your thoughts and impressions on Microsoft’s latest update to Windows 10.

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