Sunday, July 12, 2020

Windows Explorer Search

Do you remember the good old days of Windows XP where Windows Explorer had a drop-down box in the search dialog where the keywords you could use were listed?

Well, that drop-down box has been gone for a decade.

BUT, the keywords are still available but not discoverable as far as I can tell.

Recently I was trying to find all the photos I had taken with my iPhone X. I could see that the detail information was there.

In a list of files in Windows Explorer, right click on a file and choose "Properties" all the way at the bottom.

In the pop-up window, click on the "Details" tab. There's a ton of information there. If you could only search on it!

Well, you can.

I found this on the Wayback Machine.

It's 10 years old but still works fine.

In my case, I put
cameramodel:"iPhone X"
in the search field of Windows Explorer and got just what I wanted.

Search around in that Wayback Machine article and see what you can find.

Sunday, July 05, 2020

The Crow Needs a Little Salt

I have to eat some crow. Do you remember my recent advice on Windows 10 Updates?
Take a system image backup. Cross your fingers. Apply them.
Yeah, I got bitten. Not once, but twice by Windows 10 2004.

My big desktop is running Storage Spaces.

I guess Microsoft forgot to test Storage Spaces.

I saw that my desktop system was offering Windows 10 2004 but I was going through my normal sequence of applying the update to my less critical systems first.

Then I came across Woody Leonhard's article on Storage Spaces. When I went back to my desktop, the update was blocked. And it still is.

You can see Microsoft's support page here.

One of my less critical systems was my former desktop system. It doesn't run Storage Spaces so the update to Windows 10 2004 was offered and I installed it.

When I revisited it a day or two later, I noticed a pop-up complaining about OneDrive.

I didn't think much about it and chose to download files like it prompted me to. OneDrive started copying ALL my files to that system. I didn't think that that was the setting I had so I started un-syncing most of the directories and went on about my business.

A day or two later, I checked back in. None of the files had actually synced and the transfer rate was 0.0.

HotHardware has a good article on it here but there hasn't been much coverage of this. I followed the OneDrive reset ( process and that seems to have resolved it.

I'm not in much of a hurry to install Windows 10 2004 on my remaining systems.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

The (Intel) Sky Is Falling

Clickbait drives me crazy. So much of the press grabs a quote and makes a story out of it where there really isn't any meat to it.

A recent example is a WIRED story with the headline:
Security News This Week: An Unfixable Flaw Threatens 5 Years of Intel Chips

Doesn't that scare you? 5 YEARS OF INTEL CHIPS ARE THREATENED!

WIRED refers to a blog post that says:
The problem is not only that it is impossible to fix firmware errors that are hard-coded in the Mask ROM of microprocessors and chipsets. The larger worry is that, because this vulnerability allows a compromise at the hardware level, it destroys the chain of trust for the platform as a whole.
OMG! The world is ending. The "chain of trust" is DESTROYED!

In a headline ArsTechnica called this flaw:
...a concerning flaw that’s unfixable
Finally (and ironically) The Register brings some sanity to this discussion.
Although exploitation is like shooting a lone fish in a tiny barrel 1,000 miles away
Whew! I think we're safe.

Intel said that "an attack would require local access, specialized gear, and a high level of skill, making it relatively impractical in the real world."

reddit posted a link to the WIRED article and one of the comments gave some really good advice.
Guess I'll stop inviting Russians over for dinner.
Yeah, me too.

Sunday, June 21, 2020


GroupMe is a free group messaging service offered by Microsoft. It supports groups of up to 500 users across iOS, Android, Windows 10, the web and SMS. Microsoft's introductory page is here.

It’s simple to add anyone to a group using their phone number or their email address. If they're new to GroupMe, there’s no need to download an app right away. They can start messaging over SMS immediately.

You can even use GroupMe to hold a conference call or conduct polls.

Many organizations such as schools and churches have used GroupMe for communication.

For myself, I use the SMS delivery so the messages show up in my phone's text messaging app. I change the text tone to differentiate GroupMe messages from other text messages.

Under the covers, GroupMe is pretty clever. Each GroupMe group is assigned a phone #. This is how the SMS and conference call features work.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Chrome Scroll to Text Fragment

Google's Chrome 80 introduced a new deep linking feature called "Scroll To Text Fragment." That description struggles to describe what it does.

Basically, it lets you specify a link that will position a web page at a string that you choose.

Here's a screen shot that doesn't use it.

Here's a screen shot that scrolls to "Beat".

Notice that the requested string is highlighted.

Now for the bad news. It's really hard to use.

Here's the URL that I used in the above example.
And I can't find a tool that lets you easily construct that URL. I use Notepad.

How-To Geek has an article on it.

Sunday, June 07, 2020

So You Think Your Backups Are Safe

I always beat the drum about making (and testing) backups.

But there's a story that goes back to the 70's. One of my former co-workers used to talk about the best way to damage an enterprise. He said to cause the organization's backups to be corrupted. Then when all their backups had been corrupted, delete the live versions and they wouldn't be able to restore.

He was way ahead of his time.

ZDNet had an article about ransomware attacks corrupting/encrypting backups because they were online when the attack occurred.

Don't forget my admonition.
Backup, Restore, Test
Do it. Do it again. Worry about it.

Now I'm going to add one.
Take the backup copies offline
Do it. Do it again. Worry about it.

I use Macrium Reflect and then keep the USB drive in my trunk.

And as usual I use belt, suspenders, and raincoat. Both Crashplan and Zoolz have built-in ransomeware protection.

I still worry.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Video Conferencing Testing

CIO Services Group (CIOSG) has continually leveraged a variety of collaborative technologies. In the realm of video conferencing, we have been using Microsoft's Skype on many platforms. Skype has been effective and dependable with exceptional audio and video. We have exercised Skype with a variety of Windows browsers and clients and smartphone clients.

Most of the Skype usage has been with a host-initiated call. This requires all participants to be logged into a Microsoft account (MSA). We also tested the technique that doesn't need an MSA. That technique was as satisfactory as using an MSA.

There are a confusing number of Skype clients between Skype and Skype for Business as well as Windows browser clients.

CIOSG next tested 8x8. This is a commercialization of Jitsi. The audio and video were good. The controls were not up to the level of Skype. The testing was done with Windows browser clients with Firefox being "Limited Support." We didn't get Firefox to work.

Google Meet was next on our assessment. CIOSG is a GSuite customer so we have had access to Google Meet Essentials. This is now available to all users with a Google account. The audio and video were exceptional. The controls were complete and full function. The testing was done with a variety of Windows browsers and smartphone clients.

Our Webex testing was less than satisfactory. The audio and video were the lowest quality of all the clients tested. Webex was the only test where we abandoned the platform and went back to Skype. The testing was done with a variety of Windows browsers and clients and smartphone clients.

Our testing of Zoom showed that its reputation was well deserved. The presentation was well organized and functional. The audio and video were exceptional. The testing was done with a variety of Windows browsers and clients and smartphone clients.

While CIOSG tended to focus on Windows browser clients, several of the platforms were insistent on downloading and installing Windows clients. Often the "run in browser" link was actually delayed in presenting. Other than Google Meet, the other platforms presented limited capabilities when using the Windows browser clients. Examples of limited capabilities are no grid view, reduced host controls, lack of background features.

A detailed assessment of the various platforms is available here.