All posts by McAkins

MS MVP and TechSpec fighting MS FUDs online. Love this creative process called Technology. The Atoms and molecules shaping our existence. More at http://mcakins.com/about

Apple Painted itself into a Corner

With all the nude leaks going on these last days, all linked to iCloud breach, and the thundering silence of Apple to respond officially to the allegations, I am smelling a rat. It is two days after the fact, and Apple is yet to go to town with their manipulative attitudes. That smells to me fishy. It is unlike Apple to keep quiet for so long. Even with a single gram of salt, they would have gone to town in damage-control mode.

All these points as far as I am concerned to the fact the damage is so tremendous, that it requires special handling. You see the problem is, this is Apple that told the world they are the “most secured” platform on planet earth. The SwitcherAds adage still rings in the ear with “We are Apple, we don’t get viruses” pompous exclamation.

This very hubris is turning out now to be the Apple’s downfall in security. When you’ve conditioned the world to accept that you’re invincible and all bullets just bounce off you thick hide, then it is difficult to now turn around and confess to the world that your platform is as porous as any other’s on the planet.

Once is an accident, twice is a curiosity, thrice is a habit. The number of Security breaches taking place in Apple’s paradise is becoming epidemic. The laxity of Apple to build security into it’s product at foundational level is now coming back to bite them where it hurts most.

We’ve told the masses that there is not a single company that knows security like Microsoft. When you’re the planet’s atlas, carrying 90% of the world OS usage on your shoulder, you’re the big target for malicious hackers. Microsoft has learnt its lessons by pressing the reset button with its Secured Computing initiative in the Vista timeframe. Right now, they are centuries ahead of competition in security. We’ve told you all along, now we’re being vindicated.

Who are you going to trust with your precious data in the Cloud. Well my choice is clear. My choice goes to that company that has been battle-tested, and so should yours. Now let’s continue to wait on Apple’s spin-doctors, to see which diversionary tactics they’re going to employ this time around.

Image Credits:

From <http://thestickmanspeaks.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/painted-into-a-corner.jpg>

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Updated! Posting to WordPress Blogs with OneNote Only

Credits: PGSRamblings

Windows Live Writer is god-tool to all Bloggers, no matter your file and rank. That is the first tool you install after installing any OS upgrade. Windows 8 is no difference to this rule, except there is a problem. If you decide to go the route of mobile computing and minimalistic blogging on the go, there’s no way to do that with Microsoft Surface or Surface 2. These are pure ARM devices that doesn’t allow you to install any other Desktop apps except for the ones that came with it from the factory.

So you can’t install Windows Live Writer, bummer you said. No buying of Surface for you. Well I have good news for you. Whatever your reason will be, lack of Windows Live Writer will no more be your excuse.

Those that follow me on Twitter know my whining to @Automattic every once in a while about the lack-luster WordPress app for Win8 they dropped in the Store about two years ago, and promptly forgotten about it. It hasn’t received a single update in two years. In this App, you’re practically limited to basic editing, and no local attachment of pictures. Yes, you can add internet pictures, but anything local is burst. I have begged them to fix this app to no avail.

Then I started thinking critically, this is the 21st Century, live should be easier than this. For me, I have moved from Desktop Apps to fully mobile experience. I don’t install Desktop apps on any of my x86 Tablets, (Have about 3 of them), I can’t install on MS Surface that I love so much. I have gone the green route on my Desktops, so the less Desktop Apps the better.

Then I remembered something from the young days of WordPress, they allow you to publish to your blogs by mail posts. Ok, lets check if it still exists in the 21st century, and there you are! It’s still a supported feature!

Now don’t get me wrong, this is a glaring security risk, WordPress gives you a mail address to which you could mail anything and it will get published immediately. Therefore, if anyone should get hold of your address book, they can basically publish to your blog. But that is less frustration if you can manage the security of your devices. Now, let’s check if that mail feature supports full HTML markup. Picture and all. Voila! It does.

So, there it is, WordPress problem on Windows Metro solved. We have a better tool in Windows 8 that is far better than Windows Live Writer, it is called OneNote. I don’t need to tell you about OneNote, it is an app that any Information junkie should be using. Period.

Now suppose I could compose my blog posts in OneNote, with its rich writing experience, spell-check, and formatting experience, I could just press the Share to button, select to Share to Windows 8 Mail App, select my Blog WordPress mail address and presto, a blog post. I am in paradise!

I used the above technique to post the McAkins Online Article below:

Open Share Charm, select to share to Mail App:

You get the full OneNote article in the Share Pane. Remove the OneNote Title metadata and Mail Signatures as shown in Yellow below. WordPress will use the Mail Subject line that has be entered for you by OneNote, you can of course change the title here.

Press the Send Mail button and you’re done. Your post is live within half a minute. One disadvantage to this is that the posts are published under “UnCategorized” or default category. Also there are no tags, no excerpts etc. You have to login to WordPress to do these updates. But at least, you now have the chance from OneNote to Publish in no time.

[UPDATE] What a joy, please neglect above strike-throughs. You can use shortcodes in your mail to specify all necessary tags and category information, and delay or set posting time! Just scroll a bit down on the page and read all about it.

Of course this is a temporary solution till Automattic decides to update their WordPress client in the Windows Store. We just have to bear the little risk that if anyone hack your addressbook, they also have access to your site publications till you change the publish email address for your blog site.

(For those waiting for my second treatise about OneNote, please consider this as the second publication. I wanted to show you also the workaround on how to attach files to OneNote, but that is already a supported feature in OneNote now. My excuse for being late with that.)

Dusting off McAkins Online

Credits: TQN.com

Ladies and gentlemen, we want to thank you for your patience with us for going AWoL on you these past two months. Naz was going through physical expatriation, and I was going through a hard time at work before going on a much deserved vacation of full 4-weeks.

Those of you that follow us on Twitter of course know I was doing micro-blogging the whole time. I just didn’t have the time nor the energy to write full quality blog posts like you’re used to from us.

Naz and I are now finally settling down. We promise to start bringing back awesome to McAkins Online. We thank @MajorSky17 for filling the gaps for us in our absence with nostalgic news videos about past Microsoft OSes. Now we are all back, and ready to bring you the usual Tech news from around the world.

Thank you and stay tuned.

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High System Interrupts CPU Usage in Windows 8

This past period I re-loaded my Desktop PC to use one of the modern APU from AMD. I went from a powerful Quad-Core system to an APU On-board low power system. I did this out of a conscious choice to start limiting my impact on carbon emission and of course lower my utility bills. I am mostly in browse or Coding mode most of the time, I don’t game at all, so my need for a monster powered system of decades ago, is no more responsible in this green age. I mean, my desktop is like 24hr alive, so this is really necessary.

After the re-load, I was faced with two issues immediately. Video Driver issues which I wouldn’t bother you with in this article. I was eventually able to fix it by double installation of Win8. Simply to refresh the system.

The second and persistent problem was the high CPU usage of the System Interrupts.

Mine was running on constant average of 20% which as a Windows expert I know it means trouble in paradise. In the IDE HDD years, you know this means a HDD is using low level mode instead of the DMA mode. But these days, all HDDs use DMA mode, just to be sure, I wanted to check, yup, all my HDDs are on UDMA mode. So what could be causing this headache. High Interrupt use means warm CPU and waste of energy.

I scoured the internet for a solution, none are relevant to me. Now there is no tool that I know of that can show you Interrupt CPU usage and from where the break requests are coming from. So I decided something that years of experience has taught me: Defragment your HDD when having Perf issues.

Well, it worked like a charm, I defragged the System Drive fully, offline fully if you know what I mean. The result is what you see above. Interrupts now averages 0.5%.

So there you go guys, maintain your spinning HDDs, it helps. Of course this solution will not/should not apply to SSDs, but unfortunately, those are also notorious to frags. But you should let Windows maintain SSDs as recommended by Microsoft. As you know they have limited Write life compared to traditional HDDs.

XP Still Not Completely Dead to Microsoft

 

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Today I fired up an old XP box just out of curiosity to see the security status of XP anno June 2014, and lo and behold I have one Security update which in this case is the Malicious Software Removal for June 2014.

Then I thought while we are at it, lets see the status of MS Security Essentials, and yes, it is still being updated daily by MS as you can see below:

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Like I initially reported and contrary to popular opinion, MS has not completely abandoned XP users, it is still making sure they are not the Internet Trojans everyone is purporting them to be after EoL.

Of course this doesn’t mean that you should still sit on XP, it is a dead OS. You may be making the Net unsafe for all of us as is. You don’t want to come to a Gun warfare with a knife. Get off of this time bomb called XP now while you still safely can.

Windows Phone File Manager “Files” now in the Store

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Microsoft jumps the gun and released the Windows Phone file manager simply called “Files” today in the Windows phone store instead of waiting till June as we’ve heard earlier. Everyone knows MS is working on the file manager, there have been a few tweets even a few weeks past from top program managers informing the world, and the general consensus was this will break in June. Well here we are 30th of May a day earlier, the file manager was just tweeted by the head himself, our beloved Joe Belfiore says as follows: Continue reading

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Making OneNote MX Better – Part 1

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Some people have recently discovered Microsoft’s OneNote and within no time it has become a tool of choice to organize their lives. Rightly so.

As for me, I was using OneNote when it was first known as the Clipboard in Microsoft NetMeeting. Believe it or not, in those days even long after NetMeeting died, I would install NetMeeting just to use its clipboard. It was so easy to use as a digital-scratch book; to dump your daily experience and for those rare moments in life when a lamp lights up on top of your head.

It was joy then to see, when the NetMeeting people branched out the Clipboard as a standalone app that we know today as OneNote. It has become the joy of my life, both professionally and in private life. I just can’t imagine life now without OneNote. Oh yes, for those of you that don’t know your history and swear by EverNote, OneNote was there when they lifted the idea to create EverNote.

So enough of history. This post is about making OneNote MX better. I was a fan of OneNote for Desktop, all of its iterations, but I have moved fully over to OneNote MX. That is the Touch-enabled version of OneNote for Windows 8 Metro interface.

The reason I prefer the MX version is simple. I am a multi-device person, I love OneNote ubiquity to death. Therefore I have lot of my personal and professional Knowledgebase on OneNote. I do a lot of casual reading thus on my tablets. Secondly, I am gradually weaning myself off of the Desktop. It is history. Desktop environment sucks battery life on mobile devices. The less desktop apps you have running the longer your battery life.

So here is OneNote MX rocking my life, but I miss a lot of the features I’ve come to depend upon in the Desktop version as follows:

  • Documents and Media Attachments:

Figure 1: OneNote Desktop with full Inserts.
Figure 1: OneNote Desktop with full Inserts.

  • Audio/Video Inserts with Time Sync
  • Password Protected Notes creation and consumption
  • Ability to add Caption to pictures

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Figure 2: The New Store as example of Picture with Caption

 

Those are Desktop version features that I miss the most, I am sure you can think up a few for yourselves. Now unto feature requests for OneNote MX:

  • Support Ink Stroke smoothing on ALL devices. On Dell Venue 8 Pro, Dell has improved inking a thousand times than when it was released. But it’s still a joke compared to Wacom strokes. This can be helped with stroke smoothing. If the Wacom Bamboo App can smooth strokes on my 8″ device so should OneNote MX.
  • This one is for all Bloggers who are suckers for OneNote:

Please add a Plug-in or something to export a OneNote MX page to WordPress.com, essentially making OneNote a LiveWriter replacement for Windows 8. Please do it! We don’t need another LiverWriter MX App or something, with just a little tweak, OneNote should be able to export to WordPress etc. It can’t be that hard right?

  • There is inconsistent Drag-to-make-subpage with touch and mouse. You can with Mouse, you can’t with Touch. Please fix. Make Promote/demote subpages easy with both touch and mouse.
  • All my notes now reside on OneDrive, I can’t easily see the size of my notes. I keep very large KB Notebooks, I need to know the size of individual notebooks. Please add property button to Notebook appbar to see size of notebooks.

These are just a few of my longings for OneNote MX, be rest assured I am passing all these and more to the OneNote Team. I am hoping with this, that more people will make the same request so MS can take it seriously. Just use the feedback button on OneNote Appbar. I hope we’ll see an iteration with time that will bring OneNote MX in par with the desktop version in terms of usefulness; hopefully towards the Gemini release timeframe.

Now this is the first part of my OneNote treatise. In the second part I’ll introduce you to how you can have attachments in your OneNote MX and other little tricks. And in case you don’t know, both OneNote Desktop and OneNote MX are free as Air. You can download and install them with no charge at all, and with OneDrive, your Notes follows you all over the world.

Peace out!

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When an Apple person reviews Oranges

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“This thing called Orange doesn’t look like Apple, doesn’t have Apple color, it doesn’t taste like Apple, an Apple can have a worm, but this Orange thing can’t even tolerate a worm”.

Here we go again. Another Microsoft Hardware/Platform launch, followed by rounds of Reviews from people who has little or no interest in Microsoft, neither do they use Microsoft’s products as goto tools in their daily routine. Continue reading

Kinectimals Unleashed

Kinectimals Unleashed in the Store as Universal App!

 

 

Kinectimals Unleashed

Microsoft brings Kinectimals to its platform as universal App! We already have Kinectimals on Xbox Live for all the while, now they’ve debuted as Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 Apps. And the best of all, they are downloadable for free! Something for the whole family to enjoy on this Mother’s Day weekend. So guys, go right ahead, download this for our ladies and kids. ;-) Continue reading

Hints of Cortana on Windows

Cortana is already knocking on Win8 door!

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Our favourite MS tweeterer and Trekkie-extraordinaire Brandon LeBlanc posted this blog post today to inform that the power of Bing, the same that powers our lovely Cortana is now in Windows 8 common search feature or “Smart Search” as Microsoft likes to call it. Before you only search as always with keywords, now you can input search in Natural Language in the Windows 8 search box, and Bing has got your back to understand your intent and bring you relevant result. Continue reading

Windows XP

Windows XP Dead as Advertised–Now what?

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Source: @Thurrott & @TheRomit

Unless you’re an alien visiting earth for the first time today or you’ve been living under a rock, no doubt you’ve been bombarded with the so-called death of the most veritable OS on the planet today: Windows XP!

Yes, XP is officially dead today. Tomorrow is the day after and still you haven’t upgraded to a modern OS, or you cat just pissed on your shiny modern device, now you have to use XP for a while. Well, we know there will be some of you roughnecks or by chance still using the OS after its demise; this advice is for you then to make your life bearable.

Warning: All advice given here does not replace upgrading to a modern “Safe” OS. You are aware of your own risk staying on a Dead OS! (Sorry we just have to insert that Legal bit). Continue reading

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Designing the Windows Folder for the Mobile Era

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Here is a little suggestion for Microsoft Windows Design team to improve Windows for the modern/mobile age. I have been fighting this past week to get my VHD boot device upgraded to Windows 8.1 as I have grown tired of waiting for Microsoft to fix this problem. If you’ve not heard, Microsoft choose to leave out the upgrade of an official Install Scenario of Windows called VHD Native Boot. This is an officially supported Install option for Windows since Windows 7, but without warning to the community, they are not going to upgrade you from Windows 8RTM to any later version if you’re running in Native Boot. Continue reading

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Windows Store Passed 150000 Apps Mark

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I know App count has lost its meaning, still we at McAkins Online feel we should inform you folks that indeed Windows Store has passed the 150000 Apps mark. Really I don’t know whether to cry or to rejoice as I don’t see the real meaning of bloggers beating the app count to death resulting in the OS Publishers allowing junk apps in the Store just to belong to the number success group. If I may have my take I’ll say let Windows Store have just 5000 App that are highly polished and worth users’ time than having to prune the Windows Store just to find App needle in a haystack. Continue reading

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Introducing NextGraph–A Simple yet powerful MindMap App

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Sometimes we come across a gem in the Store and we appreciate the effort the Dev has put in the App, then we are absolutely blown away when as icing on the cake the Dev makes it free. Such is the case with this NextGraph app in the Store. It is a simple yet effective way to dump your mind of ideas and create simple UML relationships. I was looking for a simple tool in the Store to help understand the relationships in an app I’m currently involved with in a project and I came across this app in the Store. Continue reading