Category Archives: Help & Tips Center

Tech help & tips. Operating systems, software, cloud, and more

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OneNote Power-User Tips – Part 2

I have decided to publish my compilations of tips on efficient use of OneNote. I published Part 1 a few weeks back.

  • On low-powered x86 devices like Dell VP8 use the OneNote MX only, even if you could install the Desktop version. Desktop Apps are not battery efficient avoid using them on these devices if you could.
  • OneNote MX doesn’t allow you to attach files for now. But it allows you to use or access attached files. So attach needed files via OneNote Desktop then let it sync to OneNote MX and use them there. (File attachment now supported with latest updates to OneNote)
  • Keep High Volume, Low Access Notes only online and on principal devices. Create a low volume version that you can have on all devices from which you can move sections and items to the Online Archives.
  • Keep an eye on your OneNote size, move sections out for very large volume OneNote into new Notebooks
  • Make judicious use of Sections to organize thoughts and Categories
  • Keep number of Notebooks on low capacity tablets to absolute necessary, sync has cost for data if you have mobile data connection.
  • Identify mobile data connection on your tablet as Metered Connection so OneNote doesn’t sync on that connection. Sync preferably on WiFi only. This is important if you’re using your smartphone as WiFi Access Point to your tablets etc.
  • If you’re not sure of Sync times, choose to sync manually by turning Auto-Sync off in the settings.

You may not realize it, but OneNote comes with a powerful OCR built-In. This is one of the area where OneNote separates itself from competition.

  • This can come in handy when you need to get data out of a picture, and it is a boon to students who exchange screenshots etc. Right click on any picture and choose Copy Text then paste to any app or in OneNote itself for further edits. You’ll notice mis-recognition here and there depending on the quality of the text in the picture, these you have to manually correct.

Import Slides from PowerPoint:

  • If you search for this topic online you’ll get various hits all mentioning to import slides via PrintOuts or the so called “Print to OneNote” feature. Since Office 2010, you can actually copy and paste slides directly into OneNote.
  • There is a bug in OneNote MX that will prevent you from pasting more than one slide from PowerPoint. The first slide in your selection is always pasted. I have made this known to Microsoft, lets hope they’ve got a fix for it.

Watch out for Print-Outs, they’re top-heavy and costly in terms of space: Original PDF file:

PrintOut OneNote file container of the same file:

The original PDF file of 2.54Mb size in now a humongous 25.9MB folder of printouts. Now that OneNote MX supports file attachment, you don’t need to printout anymore unless you need to annotate. Printouts will make your OneNote database unnecessarily large, thereby affecting sync efficiency.

I will continue to update this list with new entries as they come to mind. You can also pass your favorite tips to the community via comments below.

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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.)

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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.

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How to Install Windows 98 — Video Tutorial

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Need to install Windows 98 on an old PC? Trying to run an old software on a Windows 98 virtual machine? This video demonstrates how to install Windows 98 as well as devices drivers for Windows 98.

I install the OS on a VMware Virtual Machine, but the steps should work on a real PC too. I installed Windows 98 recently on my 13 year old PC, and it went flawlessly.

You need to make sure, however, that you have the drivers for your hardware; otherwise, you may be stuck with a bad experience, such as lack of sound or low color depth and screen resolution. Enjoy the video. If you have any questions, please leave a comment, and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible, God Willing. 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!

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

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Pro Tip: Use Custom Colors for Windows Phone Start Screen Tiles

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With Windows Phone 8.1, you can now choose any background images for your Start screen tiles. A nice side effect of this is that you can now also put custom colors for your live tiles too! No, Windows Phone 8.1 did not add new accent colors for you to customize device with. Instead, you can use a solid color of your choice as the background picture for your tiles! Continue reading

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Did you know: Windows Phone 8.1 Built-in Apps Update through the app Store

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With Windows Phone (WP) 8.1, many of the built-in apps are now updatable from within the Windows Phone Store. Unlike on previous WP versions, the built-in apps do not need to wait for the next OS update to be updated. These apps now can and do update regularly just like other apps you install from the Store. I have already seen many of them being updated recently, and WPCentral documented today that the Games app has been updated. To compliment this, these apps now have their dedicated Windows Phone Store landing page just like any other apps you find in the store. Continue reading

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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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SkyDrive doesn’t support Full Folder restore

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I learnt the hard way to day that Microsoft SkyDrive (OneDrive) service doesn’t support Full Folder Restore from Recycle Bin. I was unfortunate to own a Dell Venue Pro 8 tablet, and right from the bat, I have discovered Dell cut corners with the device by integrating a sub-par Touch and Pen Digitizer in the product. I would have returned the device, but I am mesmerized by the screen quality of the device on an 8″ tablet, hoping Dell will eventually fix via Driver patch. This tablet would have been utopia if not for this buggy touch/pen interface. Continue reading

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Private Network Setting NOT gone from Windows 8.1

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Earlier today I posted about the Private Network Settings being gone from Windows 8.1, well I have found the root cause of the problem. I am happy to report that the setting is not gone from Windows 8.1, but it’s part of a typical change of feature that Microsoft didn’t bother to inform the populace about; maybe they did, but as a Microsoft Watcher I find it difficult that I would have missed the information. Continue reading

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Private Network Setting gone from Windows 8.1

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Since Windows 7, Microsoft have been pushing Network Awareness in the modern Windows OS. This is the ability of the OS to distinct between Public and Private Networks so that resources can be made available or protected given the type of network. In Windows 8, since Developer Preview till 8.0, you could either turn ON or OFF the Private Network feature in “Network and Sharing Center” on the Desktop’s Networking Control Panel as below  Continue reading

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Visual Studio 2013 RTM Available for Dreamspark Users!

Good evening! Great news if you are a student. Starting today, you can download and install the full version of Visual Studio 2013 Professional. You can do this through Dreamspark. We blogged earlier that Microsoft Dreamspark users would be able to download the software on October 31, 2013. Well, today is the day. Here’s how to get your copy if you are a Student.

Log in to Dreamspark

Visit http://dreamspark.com to sign in with your account. If you don’t have a Dreamspark account, and you are a student, you can sign up for a free account. You will need to validate your student status, however.

Choose Visual Studio 2013 Professional

From the software catalog, choose Visual Studio 2013 Professional by clicking on it. This will take you to the download page.

Accuring  and Activating VS 2013 through Dreamspark (1)

Get your Product Key

Click the Blue “Get Key” button to reveal a genuine product key. Write it down or copy it to a file on your PC. You will need this key later to activate Visual Studio 2013.

Accuring  and Activating VS 2013 through Dreamspark (2)

Download the Software

Click the green button to download Visual Studio 2013. This will take you to the download page. Follow the steps given exactly. Once you do, you will see the download progress for your software.

Accuring  and Activating VS 2013 through Dreamspark (3)

Accuring  and Activating VS 2013 through Dreamspark (6)

Install Your Software

Once you download the software, mount the ISO image (by double-clicking it on Windows 8.x) and run setup.exe to start the Installation. Then follow the instructions on the screen to finish installing.

Visual Studio 2013 Install Configurations

Activate Visual Studio 2013

Run Visual Studio 2013. Sign in to your user. Then, when the Integrated Development Envrionment (IDE) loads, click the “Help” menu from the menu bar. Click “Register your Product” menu. When the license window opens, click “Change License” and enter your Product key you wrote down earlier to activate Visual Studio.

Accuring  and Activating VS 2013 through Dreamspark (4)

You are done! This is not a trial; you can use the product as long as you like! Enjoy!