Windows 8.1 Update

Microsoft has started the download of Windows 8.1 update today (04-08-2014) using it’s Windows Update Method. The much anticipated update will bring some very nice changes in the UI for mouse and touch users. I currently use Microsoft Surface Pro 2 and have downloaded the update from Windows Store.

How to get the free update

You can download the free update from the Windows Store.

  1. Go to the Start screen, and tap or click the Store tile     image
  2. In the Store, tap or click the Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1 update. if you don’t see the update on the Store home screen, see Why can’t I find the update in the Store?
  3. Tap or click Download.
  4. The download will start automatically.

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Based on Microsoft website there are lot’s of new features that will show distinct improvements from previous version. Some of them are life savers:

1. Power & Search buttons on the Start screen

2. A better looking Taskbar for Open & Pinned apps with START button

3. Much awaited minimize & Close button

4. A more intuitive tile with functionalities of Right click option like previous Windows operating systems.

5. Better Security

The good thing is that this update is free of cost. The other good thing that I observed that Microsoft has started listening to it’s customer base. Be it Windows 8.1 Phones or the Windows 8.1 Update for laptops, Microsoft is trying it’s best to cater to user’s demands. Introduction of Cortana & other great features in Windows 8.1 only makes Microsoft stronger in front of Apple & Samsung in the phone segment. The shift in strategy is a clear indication of product improvement and that too in time.

Arcade era back in Chrome browser: Cube Slam

Cube Slam is a part of Chrome Experiments and has been developed as an open source by Google. It’s an arcade game inside your Chrome browser and for the old time lovers the game provides Arcad-ish music + a great gaming experience. For all those people who are bored in office or home and have restrictions to install and play games, this is the game you were looking for.


By Default you play against “Bob” the Bear. The game is very similar to Arkanoid but you play against your opponent. You have other options to play against your friend where you can send an invite as a link and they can ‘Accept’ and start playing. The game gives a 3D feel and every new level has new colors of playing area.


Personally, I am a big fan of playing Arcade games and I must say, this game is very addictive.

Cube Slam is built using WebRTC, an open web technology that lets you video chat with your friends right in the browser, no plug-ins necessary. The getUserMedia API provides access to your webcam and microphone, RTCPeerConnection sends the audio and video to your friends, and RTCDataChannel exchanges all the bits and pieces that keep the game in sync. When there are no firewalls in the way, game data can be sent directly peer-to-peer, greatly reducing server costs.


Cube Slam is built entirely on Google Cloud Platform. The app is hosted on Google App Engine with a backend written in Go, and the Channel API is used to set up the connection with your opponent. If one of the players is behind a firewall, the game uses a STUN/TURN server hosted on Google Compute Engine to exchange data. PageSpeed helps things load quickly, and AppCache lets you play offline.

Courtesy: https://www.cubeslam.com/tech#webrtc


The Cube Slam is an open source and the code is available online.

Code         https://simeon23bg-cubeslam.googlecode.com/git/Makefile

Weblink:    https://code.google.com/r/simeon23bg-cubeslam/source/browse/Makefile

When Bob loses:

Gmail’s New Inbox

Google has reformed it’s inbox by adding various features which helps organize emails.

1

The New view has got five optional tabs which auto organizes your emails into five categories. It also allows us to drag and drop emails into various tabs with ease:

Primary:

1i

Social

2

Promotions

3

Updates

4

Forums

5

 

Options to choose from:

 6

The video can be found on:

White Paper to Install and Configure SCCM 2012

Technology Enthusiasts!

I had written the white paper to detail the process of setting up SCCM 2012 from basics. Although I am sharing it quite late, but like they say, “Better late than never”. You can get the PDF version of this document from (Click on the below Image):

WP_Install_Configure_SCCM2012_SatyamKrishna


System Center Configuration Manager 2012

(ConfigMgr or Configuration Manager), formerly Systems Management Server (SMS), is a systems management software product by Microsoft for managing large groups of Windows-based computer systems. Configuration Manager provides remote control, patch management, software distribution, operating system deployment, network access protection, and hardware and software inventory.

SCCM 2012 used in this article was in Beta Phase. It was formerly called V.Next.

System Center Configuration Manager 2007 comprehensively assesses, deploys, and updates servers, client computers, and devices-across physical, virtual, distributed, and mobile environments. Optimized for Windows and tightly integrated with Windows 7, it is the best choice for gaining enhanced insight into and control over IT systems. With up to 70% of a system’s total cost incurred in the form of maintenance, effectively managing a company’s IT infrastructure is one of the best ways to help reduce total cost of ownership (TCO). System Center Configuration Manager is used for configuration management globally by more enterprises than any other solution, and helps organizations large and small drive greater efficiency and control.

A lot of pre requisites are required before one actually installs Configuration Manager.

In this white paper, step by step procedure has been given with snapshots to install pre requisites and then install Configuration Manager 2012.

To Setup Configuration Manager:

  1. Oracle Virtual Box to host the Virtual Machines Lab
  2. Windows Server 2008
  3. Windows XP, Vista, 7 Virtual Machine as Client for deploying Applications
  4. Active Directory setup
  5. SQL Server 2008
  6. .net Framework 4.0
  7. Web Server (IIS) & Windows Server Update Service (WSUS)
  8. Running EXDASCH
  9. Setting up ADSI
  10. Configuring WEBDAV ON IIS 7.5
  11. Setting up Active Directory Service Interfaces (ADSI)
  12. Installing SQL SERVER 977443 KB SERVICE PACK
  13. Installing two features: Background Intelligent Transfer Service BITS and REMOTE DIFFRENTIAL
  14. SCCM 2012 V.NEXT

I have installed Server VM with Windows Server 2008 and Client machine with Windows XP. All of the installations defined below will be done on Server. Once SCCM is installed then add Client machine to the Domain using Active Directory.

 

ACTIVE DIRECTORY

Launch Windows Server 2008 VM as one has to configure Active directory on the Server

To Set up Active Directory type dcpromo.exe on RUN :

Continue reading

Microsoft Surface finally


‘Surface’ the name itself suggest Microsoft’s previous strategy for developing touch based device since last couple of years. They have come up with Surface tables and when I heard the name, I could easily recollect this information. Microsoft has time and again tried promoting the idea of ‘Surface’ by its devices.

Surface 2.0 is not similar to those touch enabled tables or stands, but Microsoft’s entry into already huge Tablet Market. The market already ruled by iPad and many android devices. Will Microsoft be able to make its mark in this segment? Only time will tell.

Microsoft released a video of this amazing device, which personally ‘I like’.


There will be two versions of this device:

  • Windows 8 RT version: This version will run only metro apps. It will be powered by ARM processor. RT version weighs 676 grams and is 9.3 mm thick. A little heavier than iPad. It has a 10.6 inch Clear Type HD display and supports USB 2.0, Micro HD and microSD which gives users more choice unlike iPad. Corning’s Gorilla Glass is used and offers a stand as shown in picture. RT version will come in 32/64 GB models
  • Windows 8 Professional Version: In this one will be able to install legacy apps and work as one does on a normal Windows 8 PC. It will be powered by Intel i5 processor, which I think is a very good idea for high degree of detailed computing done by most of us. This will enable professional users to use technologies like Virtualization/HyperV in this device (though nothing is officially said about it, but Windows 8 supports such features). It weighs 903 grams and 13.5 mm thick. It also includes the 10.6-inch Clear Type display but Microsoft’s spec sheets say it is “Full HD.” It includes USB 3.0 along with microSD, and a Mini Display Port Video to watch Video Out on TV. Corning’s Gorilla Glass is used and offers a stand as shown in picture. Windows 8 version will have 64/128GB options to chose from.

With this, Microsoft will try to persuade potential buyers from Corporate who have refrained to buy iPads as it doesn’t have Microsoft Office Suite. Microsoft has kept that in mind and will be integrating everything from Skydrive to Office in its new Tablet. They have married a PC to a tablet, which is a very good idea and pushes other Tablet devices aside in this area. Performance and other aspects will only be tested and will be available later.

Keyboard:

Surface comes with a touch keyboard hidden under its cover, with a track pad and Metro user interface keys which is very useful as being an Ipad user I sometimes feel the urge to use keyboard but not separately. Integrating Keyboard in the ‘Cover’ is a very smart idea which will help users in a very big way. There is variety of colors to choose from in terms of Keyboard and all are themed in the Metro manner.

Some more images from Microsoft Surface Website:


Trolling Logmein

So much we love this tool to remotely manage our computers. Be it office or at home, we have control on all the computers at our finger tip. I have been using Logmein from past few years and the software is simply superb. We have all the necessary options to configure the software to suit our requirements.

Lately, I decided to play with this tool and came across this funny screen. When one tries to Remote Control my own computer, Logmein screen gave me a mirror effect:

 

However, the controls are not that accurate and the mouse starts running random (I blame my slow internet speed). After some tasks, the Logmein session crashes and brings you back to previous screen by closing the session.

Following is the error I encountered:

 

Logmein did prompt me earlier not to Remote control my own PC:

Immidio Flex Profiles: An in depth analysis

Organizations around the globe spend millions of dollars to manage their IT infrastructure. For years, end-users have complained about slow profiles getting loaded on their machines. A huge number of users also face problems everyday due to corrupted profile applications/information. Not any more, as Immidio has answers for all the Infrastructure Management professionals. Flex profiles is a profile management solution developed by Immidio. It delivers a very robust Windows User Profile management platform without requiring additional investments in deploying and maintaining back end infrastructure. Immidio Flex Profiles version 7.5 improves IT services quality and end-user productivity with three instant-on solutions helping solve the most common profile management challenges:

  • Removal of legacy components from old application installation and uninstallation with the Profile Cleanup feature
  • Windows Common Settings and Application Templates to reduce size of user profiles.
  • Prepare applications to be managed through Immidio Flex Profiles 7.5 with a configuration wizard.
  • Instantly improve logon and logoff times drastically by enabling the DirectFlex feature

Flex Profiles separates user-specific desktop and application settings from the Windows operating system, making them available across multiple devices, Windows versions and application instances. A separated or decoupled user profile is independent from the traditional Windows user profiles and allows for easy introduction of virtualization technologies and new application delivery mechanisms. Immidio Flex Profiles is fully compatible with Windows 7 and integrates seamlessly with Microsoft AppV.

You can find the PDF for this article over here: 

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Benefits

  • Shorter Windows log-on and log-off times
  • Single user profile per user
  • Compatible with Microsoft RDS, VMware View, Citrix XenApp / XenDesktop
  • Unique migration and cleanup mechanism for existing roaming profiles
  • Pre-populate custom settings in the user environment without any scripting

Flex Profiles Features

  • DirectFlex
  • Application Profiler
  • Client Side Extensions
  • Profile Cleanup
  • Predefined User settings
  • Advanced Process Criteria
  • App templates and common settings
  • App-V integration
  • Profile archive backup
  • Extended FlexEngine logging
  • Existence check and max archive size

The tool is very simple to use and profile information can be generated by simple procedures.

Flex Profiles Components


The output file generated by each application is in INI format

It can be used as a command based utility


Corrupted Profile problem: ‘Not any more’

In many cases Users or Administrators face challenges when the User profile gets corrupted. This is one of the major bottlenecks and seriously hampers productivity and increases cost associated to Profile Management. With Immidio, if a user faces a corrupted profile, User/Administrator can ‘Reset’ the profile by using the tool itself. For example, in a user profile, Outlook 2010 got corrupted and the user specific settings don’t appear then either one can ‘Reset’ it to the base profile setting of Outlook OR ‘Restore’ it to previous date/time setting.

Application Profiler

With Immidio Application Profiler, an IT administrator can run applications on a clean desktop and check and – if so desired – optimize the settings that were captured in the Application Profiler interface. In the end, both IT and end-users will have an efficient and consistent experience with minimal effort.

You can watch Application Profiler in action on the video from Immidio’s Youtube channel

 How to create application profile with config.ini file as output

The procedure is to analyze the configuration information of an application by launching it via Application Profiler and capturing changes, user state and configuration information.

Launch Application Profiler and Click on ‘Start New Session’ under ‘Start Session’


Browse to the Application (whose configuration information needs to be analyzed). In this case we will use Notepad++ as an example:


This will lead to installation of Notepad++ application with Analyzing Application screen in background:


Install Notepad++ application. The analysis will take place in background:

On successful installation of Notepad++ application, user specific changes need to be made. These changes are later copied in config.ini.
In this example, changes have been made in View, Settings and the default file called contextMenu.xml has been deleted from Notepad++. All these changes will be captured in the config.ini file called Notepad++config.xml




Output file is called Notepad++Config.ini


If some predefined settings have been already created then these settings can be coupled with the predefines settings by clicking “Save Config File with Predefined Settings”

Profile Assistant:

Immidio Flex Profiles Assistant helps you record all relevant locations in the user profile where an application stores its settings, both in the registry and file system. To start the process of automatically generating a Flex config file, install the Flex Profiles Assistant in a reference environment.

Before you can start using the Flex Profiles Assistant it is important to realize it works in conjunction with Microsoft’s Sysinternals Process Monitor to scan all system activities of applications.

A prerequisite for building a Flex Profiles import file is a Process Monitor log file. This requires starting Process Monitor, resetting the filter options and running the application you want to analyze. If Process Monitor is in the same folder as Flex Profiles Assistant, the Start Process Monitor button is displayed; otherwise, you can start Process Monitor manually.





Logfile.flex gets created as an output:


Profile Management Console

How to Install and configure Management Console

Flex Builder has pre defined Settings for profiles. One can use the predefined settings OR create your own settings using ‘Advance Settings’

Flex Profiles Predefined User settings

  • Create or customize predefined user settings
  • Very simple scripting and easy to create
  • Dynamically convert variables during logon or application start (DirectFlex)
    • File and folder names
    • Text files (i.e. INI Files)
    • Registry keys, Values and data

Flex Profiles Advanced Process Criteria

Additional process criteria to reduce scripting effort:

  • Registry Key/Value
  • OS and its corresponding Bitness (32/64bit)
  • File Version
  • Exit code of custom script
  • Environment variable

Action on criteria match can be configured as following:

  • Process
  • Do not process
  • Only export (useful for OS migration)
  • Only import (useful for Server silos)

Advanced settings for OS and its corresponding bitness (32/64bit) set to ‘Do Nothing’:


Process criteria make it possible to have FlexEngine only process a Flex configuration file if certain criteria are met. By default, no criterion is applied, and the configuration file will be processed always.

Advanced settings for File Version set to 34.2.2.2 and the rule states that if the File version matches then Export:


Licensing Options Available

Local            For PC and Laptops

Hosted         VDI, RDS/TS

Other Similar software

Citrix Profile Management

Appsense Environment Manager

LinkedIn Passwords stolen: What the Hack?

LinkedIn member passwords compromised and uploaded online

6.5 Million Passwords have been reported stolen and uploaded on a Russian Hacker Forum.

From LinkedIn blog member Vicente Silveira :

“We want to provide you with an update on this morning’s reports of stolen passwords. We can confirm that some of the passwords that were compromised correspond to LinkedIn accounts. We are continuing to investigate this situation and here is what we are pursuing as far as next steps for the compromised accounts”

The users whose passwords have been compromised will be asked to change their passwords as they won’t work. The only way out is to immediately change the password.

SkyDrive: Will it Rain ?

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The war for the better cloud services and storage between the two giants Microsoft and Google is raining to the next level. Though Microsoft has been popularizing its cloud storage service using its spanking new OS Windows 8 but Google has made sure it gives all possible competition. Google recently announced its Drive and we saw Microsoft push for some more changes in its SkyDrive capabilities with extra storage space.  

As we are experiencing, the clouds are in their drizzling phase and soon we will see many more companies joining the race. The market leaders Google and Microsoft at present are neck to neck and the competition is expected to grow in years to come. Of course we can not ignore other companies in competition i.e. Apple iCloud, DropBox, Sygarsync, Cubby, Insync, Mozystash, Spyderoak to name a few.

 

Cloud: Size does matter !

 

Microsoft introduced its whopping 25 GB of free SkyDrive space (7 GB for new users and 25 GB for already registered users for limited time). Microsoft’s pitch is very ambitious with SkyDrive and they offer seamless integration, easy to use interface very similar to iCloud.

Google has only 5 GB of Drive space to offer. Only  time will tell who will win this war of cloud space but Microsoft gets an upper hand in synchronization, integration with other formats and disk space category.

There are other companies i.e. Symform which offer up to 200GB of free online space. There is catch where one gets 100 GB space initially and needs to get a referral to get another 200GB. SDExplorer too offers 25GB of cloud space


 

Currently Microsoft offers 7GB of online cloud space:

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Once upgraded to 25 GB (for old users):

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What Google Drive has to offer?

 

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File Formats support:

 

We all know how much we love Microsoft Office products and cannot imagine what life would be without them. Microsoft takes a big leap in providing Office files (docx, xlsx, pptx) support on its SkyDrive. These formats are widely used by most of desktops across globe along with Office Webapps. One can upload files in batches and it works as a charm

 

Editing word document in SkyDrive:

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SkyDrive supports viewing of popular PDF, ODF, OpernOffice and Corel’s WordPerfect. Although Google has been trying hard to counter this by providing its own Google docs etc but it still is a long way for them.

 

SkyDrive allows users to embed their Office documents (Word, Excel and PowerPoint) onto other web pages. These embedded documents allow anyone who visits these web pages to interact with them, such as browsing an embedded PowerPoint slideshow, or perform calculations within an embedded Excel spreadsheet. SkyDrive really excels at syncing documents created using OneNote and other Microsoft Office products like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. SkyDrive creates an experience very similar to  iCloud and works very smoothly.

 

Google Drive can open up to 30 types of files in a browser. It can open Photoshop files even if one doesn’t have Photoshop on computer. Google Drive creates a quick look experience inside web browser that makes it much easier to thumb through files. Drive also includes an option to turn on OCR text scanning, which means that when one uploads images to Drive, Google will scan the images for text and make them searchable. This feature is definitely missing in SkyDrive. Google Docs file format doesn’t offer synchronization with other software and we end up converting files to Microsoft Office file formats. As per enterprise perspective, Microsoft takes an edge in this domain and Office popularity puts it to a higher level.

 

File Sharing:

 

Filer sharing is very easy to use. One can make files public and share it. Another good feature in file sharing is that a user can grant viewing or editing rights to other users.

 

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Remote Desktop Access:  Managing work like a Sir

Microsoft still beats Google on this ground as there is not such feature offered in Google Drive. There is always a need of integrating and synchronizing files from different devices. For example, you saved your work in a file at home and worked later on other parts of same doc in office. Remote access will ensure you can login to your PC from Office and copy files to SkyDrive and then integrate it with your other work which you did in Office.

Google does not offer such feature as yet. And, it will be tough for them to introduce this in longer run.

 

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Mobile Support:

SkyDrive at present has integration with PC, Windows Phone platform, Android (Browser for SkyDrive) and iOS. But, Google is slated to introduce the feature on android and other devices. So, they both lock horns in some time on this feature.

SkyDrive uses the same metro style view for Windows phone. It’s all together same viewing experience as compared to SkyDrive on web or on PC. However, there are some restrictions when it’s accessed through Windows phone. Downloading files locally on phone memory is not allowed. One can view/edit Office documents on Windows phone using SkyDrive but saving them locally on phone is not permitted. Similarly, one can listen to the songs present on the SkyDrive but can not save it locally on the phone.

SkyDrive impression online:

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SkyDrive for Windows Phone:

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SkyDrive Browser (Android and Apple devices)

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SkyDrive for iOS:

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@Microsoft SkyDrive website

 

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SkyDrive: Final words

 

SkyDrive is a very ambitious offering from Microsoft. Considering the number of competitors in the market, Microsoft has made sure SkyDrive becomes popular by offering massive cloud space to users. With more power and functionality available to end users Microsoft will surely make a difference in this market. With Windows 8 round the corner and already launched Windows Phone, SkyDrive will surely prove to be a success. Its synchronization and integration with the PC, Phone and Tablet will ensure a steady road ahead for Microsoft and team. However, the need of hour is to concentrate on removing the restrictions on file download to mobile devices.