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IT Camp: Windows 8 in Tampa

Microsoft will be hosting a Windows 8.1 IT Camp on Friday May 9, 2014 from 9am-4pm. The day long session is titled “Empowering People-Centric IT with Windows 8.1 for Professionals”. The audience for this hands-on event is geared for IT Decision Makers and IT Managers.

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This event takes place at the Microsoft Office in Tampa Florida. The address is: 5426 Bay Center Dr, Suite 700, Tampa FL 33609

Click here to register

Windows XP End of Support coming this Tuesday

In case you have missed it, Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system will not receive any new security updates beginning Tuesday April 8th.  

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Yes, this is a true statement. So, how does this impact you?

WINDOWS XP

Keep in mind that Windows XP will continue to run after Tuesday. It just means that Microsoft will not be pushing out any new security updates for the product after this date. Nor will Microsoft provide technical assistance. This could be an issue for people using Windows XP in regulated industries, such as legal, financial or medical. Microsoft, of course, is recommending that you to move to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.

MICROSOFT SECURITY ESSENTIALS

Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) is Microsoft’s free anti-virus software. If your XP computer has MSE installed, you may already have seen popup windows warning you support for the XP operating system is ending. These warnings may lead you to believe that MSE will stop working on April 8th and that your computer will not be protected. But that is a false assumption.

If you already have MSE installed, Microsoft will continue to upgrade anti-virus definitions for that product for another year! However, after Tuesday, if you have Windows XP, and you try to install MSE, you will be blocked from doing so.

THIRD PARTY SOFTWARE

Since Windows XP will no longer be a “supported” operating system after Tuesday, it is possible that various third party software companies may also choose sometime in the future to stop supporting or selling their product on Windows XP. If you have a specific concern about a particular product, you should contact the vendor of your software.

SHOULD I UPGRADE?

Eventually, yes.

Windows XP was released 14 years ago. A lot has changed in that time. Look at it this way: perhaps you have a 14 year old TV or car or washing machine. Not only does it still work, but you’ve grown to accept and understand it’s little quirks. It’s become familiar to you, and you would like to keep it for as long as you can.

The thought of getting a new TV or Washer or car may be frightening to you because all these new items have all sorts of fancy new features and gadgets that you’re not sure of. Moving from Windows XP to Windows 7/8 will be a similar challenge.

Yes, it is possible to install Windows 7/8 onto your current Windows XP computer, and not lose any data. However, if your XP computer is more than 3-4 years old, I would NOT recommend doing so. It’s like putting new wine into an old wine skin. That old wine skin is apt to break sooner than later!

The other issue is to determine whether the various software programs you are using on your XP workstation will run under Windows 7/8. To help you in this process, Microsoft does provide a Windows Upgrade Compatibility tool that will check all your software and hardware, and let you know which will work and which may need to be replaced or upgraded if you move to Windows 7/8.

Read more from Microsoft:
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/end-support-help

If you have questions, please contact me and we can determine the best solution for you.

Roboform for Windows 8 Phone

I’ve used Roboform on my main desktop for years to store and manage my logins and passwords to web sites. So, when I purchased my Windows 8 Phone (Lumia 920) back in November 2012, I was disappointed (to say the least) when I discovered that Roboform did not have an app for my phone.

Lo and behold, after waiting for more than a year, Roboform finally released version 1.0 of their Windows 8 Phone app. I will let you read all the complaints and criticisms from people about this first release.

For me, it installed and worked without a hitch. Intuitive? No, but if I can figure out how to make it work, I’m sure you can. Here are some actual screenshots of my first attempt at using the new Roboform app v1.0:

Step 1

Go to the Windows Store on your phone, and search for Roboform and download the app.

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Step 2

Next, login using your Roboform login name and password. The settings page is pretty sparse, and I did not change them from the default.

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Step 3

For my first attempt, I decided to see if I could access my Twitter web page, which I hardly do. Type in the Twitter URL, and it then takes me to the mobile version of their login page.

wp_ss_20140309_0005  wp_ss_20140309_0006

Step 4

Look down at the bottom of the screen, and when I press the left icon (highlighted by the arrow), it displays for me the two Twitter login accounts that I have previously saved in Roboform from my desktop.

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Free eBook on Migrating and Managing Office 365

imageThe folks at apress have made available as a free download the eBook titled “Office 365: Migrating and Managing Your Business in the Cloud”. The book is jammed-pack with information, including a hands-on tutorial of Office 365, and covers in-depth what you need to do to migrate to Office 365/

This 680 page book is available in EPUB, MOBI and PDF format.

Here is a partial list of chapter titles:

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Two Factor Authentication for Office 365

imageMicrosoft announced this week that their “multi-factor” authentication is now available for the majority of Office 365 plans – midsize, enterprise, academic, non-profit and even standalone plans for Exchange Online and SharePoint Online. I guess that just leaves out the “P” plans.

More importantly, there will be no extra charge for this new feature, and it is purely optional whether you implement it at all.

Microsoft is calling it “multi-factor” instead of “two factor” authentication because you have multiple options for getting that second authentication.

Check out the Microsoft Office Blog for details and screen shots!

Microsoft selects new CEO

imageOne of the most anticipated announcements from Microsoft was made today (Feb 4, 2014) when Satya Nadella was selected as the third CEO of Microsoft, succeeding Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. Satya joined Microsoft 22 years ago.

Bill Gates will serve as Technology Advisor.

Read Steve Ballmer’s email to Microsoft employees on the announcement

Read Satya Nadella’s email to Microsoft employees on his appointment

Best wishes to all!

SkyDrive to be renamed OneDrive

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It’s official … on January 27, 2014 Microsoft announced an upcoming name change to their cloud storage service. SkyDrive and SkyDrive Pro will soon be known as OneDrive and OneDrive for Business, respectively.

The rebranding of SkyDrive is a result of a trademark case filed last year by British Sky Broadcasting.

Stolen Email Passwords Again!

Yahoo reported today that usernames and passwords of some of their email customers have been stolen. Read the specifics in this ABC News Wire story.

Unfortunately, this is becoming a daily occurrence, and much like the person who kept yelling “fire”, we are slowly becoming numb to these warnings of security breaches and identity thefts. But we must not let down our guard.

So, what can you do? Here are a few suggestions, and by no means complete:

  • Use strong passwords – the password for your email account should (1) contain a combination of letters, numbers and special characters, and (2) be 8 or more characters in length. Why? Because it makes it that much harder for spammers and hackers to break your password. An easy to implement rule is to replace some letters with numbers or similar special characters.
    One example, if your password was “racingcars”, you might change it to “R@c1ngC@r$” – where I simply replaced the letter a with @, the letter i with the number 1, and the letter s with $.
  • Change your email password – if you think your email account has been compromised, go online to your email provider’s web site and change your password immediately.
  • Don’t click on links within emails – especially those that are mass emails sent from financial institutions, stores, or online web sites. Example: if you get an email from PayPal saying there’s an issue with your account, don’t click on the link in the email. Instead, open up your browser and go directly to the PayPal website.
  • Restrict incoming email – if you really want to cut back on junk email, many email programs, including Outlook, will allow you to set up a “Safe Senders” list. If a person is not listed in your “Safe Senders” list, then the email will be sent to your Junk Mail folder. Outlook will also give you the option to automatically add everyone in your Contacts to your Safe Senders list.
  • Learn to use the BCC: field – BCC stands for “Blind Carbon Copy”. If you are going to send out an email to a group of unrelated people, then list their email addresses in the BCC: field rather than the TO: field.
  • Never send confidential information by email – if someone needs your social security number, call them and give it to them over the phone. Don’t email it. Don’t text it. You have to consider the possibility that anything you put into an email could get into the wrong hands.

C’est la vie!

Apple iTunes crashing with latest update

Yes, you heard me right, Microsoft is not the only company that is prone to releasing updates that can cause your computer to crash!

In this case, I received a call from a client today who reported that iTunes suddenly was not working, and would immediately crash when started. He tried to reinstall iTunes, but it went from bad to worse.

It didn’t take long to find that a slew of people (slew = more than I can count) were reporting similar crashes, and it appears to be caused by version 11.1.4 that Apple rolled out at the end of last week (around 22-Jan-2014).

Fortunately, the work involved to fix this was pretty straightforward, but with some minor bumps in the process.

First, a quick summary of the steps required:

  1. Uninstall iTunes and its related components and reboot
  2. Delete associated Apple program files and reboot
  3. Download and reinstall iTunes

Now for the details!

Step 1 – Uninstall iTunes and related components

Apple recommends to remove the following programs in this specific order:

  • iTunes – note: when uninstalling iTunes, be sure to leave your user profile & settings
  • Apple Software Update
  • Apple Mobile Device Support
  • Bonjour
  • Apple Application Support

Then reboot your computer

Step 2 – Delete associated Apple program files
You need to confirm that the following folders have been removed. If any are left behind, remove them now:

  • C:\Program Files\Bonjour
  • C:\Program Files\Common Files\Apple\
  • C:\Program Files\iTunes\
  • C:\Program Files\iPod\

If you have a 64-bit version of Windows, these are the folders you need to confirm are removed:

  • C:\Program Files (x86)\Bonjour
  • C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Apple\
  • C:\Program Files (x86)\iTunes\
  • C:\Program Files (x86)\iPod\

NOTE: some files may not delete:

It is possible that you may run into some files or folders that will not delete, because these are programs currently running that are using these files. If that happens to you, here are the steps I used to delete those files:

  • Open up an elevated command prompt
  • Type: start taskmgr — and the Task Manager window will display

For the following steps, leave both windows (Command prompt and Task Manager) open!

  • From the Task Manager window, click on the Processes tab, locate explorer.exe, right click on it and click End process. This will close your Windows desktop, but don’t worry, we will restart it in a few moments.
  • Now, switch over to the Command prompt window
  • Using the CD (change directory) and DEL (delete) commands, go to the folder with the file that won’t delete, and then delete the file. In my case, as an example, the commands I entered were:
    cd \
    cd Program Files (X86)
    cd Common files
    cd Apple
    cd Internet Services
    del shellstreams64.dll
  • Repeat the above steps, if necessary, if there were other files you could not delete.

Now let’s restart the Windows desktop.

  • Switch back to the Task Manager window
  • Click File –> New Task (run) –> and then type: explorer.exe and the windows desktop should redisplay.
  • At this point, go back and delete those folders that did not previously delete.
  • I recommend rebooting the computer again, and then verifying that all the folders identified above are deleted

Step 3: Download and install iTunes

I think you can handle this part on your own!
But just in case, here’s the link to get you started:

http://www.apple.com/itunes/download/

SBS 2011 and Essential 2012 Updates

Several updates and fixes to SBS 2011 and 2012 Essentials were released in the past month, including:

1. UR5 for the Windows Server Solutions BPA :

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2908176

2. Update 2 for SBS 2011 Standard’s Migration Preparation Tool :

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2908177

3. Update for Essentials 2012’s Migration Preparation Tool:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2908178

4. Update for Health report for Essentials 2012:

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=35565