All posts by woodygems

While trying very hard not to be just another Fat Bloke On The Sofa - since a very large professional services company (for whom he was a Senior Manager) decided to increase his leisure time by 100% - Woody has taken to sorting out all the technology that he really should have got to grips with a long time ago. In the process, armed with Google and a seeming inability to sleep, Woody stumbles into stuff that he thinks is really helpful or cool. Woody is for hire - and of course, is reassuringly expensive.

A fix for when Windows 8.1 (RT) and Server 2012 R2 December 2013 update rollup (KB2903939) fails to install

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On 12th December 2013, Microsoft released Windows RT 8.1, Windows 8.1, and Windows Server 2012 R2 update rollup: December 2013 – KB2903939 which will be offered to most folk via Windows Update.

There are reports that this update is failing with neither the Windows Update troubleshooter or the alternative DISM.exe /online /cleanup-image /restore health e.t.c. (that the troubleshooter suggests as an alternate approach) fixing the problem.

All the usual caveats apply – so don’t sue me … but if you are similarly affected, try this:

1. Download KB2903939 as a standalone from here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=41294 (if you have a 32bit – X86 install, you need this instead)

2. Actually download BOTH the subsequently offered Windows8.1-KB2903939-x64.msu AND Windows8.1-KB2911134-x64.msu

3. Run Windows8.1-KB2911134-x64.msu – (but NOT Windows8.1-KB2903939-x64.msu)

4. Spin up Powershell (type “Powershell” in an admin DOS cmd prompt).

5. In the Powershell prompt, run each of these commands:

set-service trustedinstaller -startuptype Disabled

reg load HKLM\COMPONENTS $env:windir\system32\config\COMPONENTS

Remove-Item -Path HKLM:\Components\DerivedData\VersionedIndex\* -Recurse

reg unload HKLM\COMPONENTS

set-service trustedinstaller -startuptype Automatic

6. Run Windows8.1-KB2903939-x64.msu (that you downloaded in step 2)

7. Restart – when prompted.

How to reliably connect a monitor that has a DVI input (like a Dell U2412M) to HDMI

I wrote in Asus Zenbook UX31A (or any Intel HD4000/HDMI graphics) fix for no HDMI output to an external monitor in Windows 8 (should work for Windows 7) about a technique for connecting the DVI port of a monitor to HDMI output from a PC with Intel HD4000 graphics.

In that article I alluded to a potential problem in the way the Intel HD4000 chipset implements HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection).

I now know, through buying and experimenting with different cables and HDMI/DVI adapters, that I was wrong….

I have tested the following recommended components on the (micro) HDMI output of both a Microsoft Surface RT and an Asus Zenbook UX31A and the results are repeatable – in that no other cables/adapters (that I have purchased thus far) work – apart from the following:

If you want to reliably connect the DVI port of a monitor – and in particular, a Dell U2412M, to micro or regular sized HDMI, you need one of these:

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This is the HD-9002 “DVI-D Male to HDMI Female Adaptor / Convertor – 24+1 Pins – PC Card to HDMI TV” from Cabling4Less.co.uk – which at the time of writing, is £2.49 inclusive of delivery from their eBay listing or £4.80 from their Cabling4Less website.

While you can see (obviously) that this is a male DVI connector, what is not so obvious, is that the other end of this adapter is a female full size HDMI socket – for connecting to an HDMI or micro HDMI cable of your choice.

Now, while the Cabling4Less adapter did the trick with a number of HDMI cables I imagetried, an honourable mention must go to the “Premium 1.5m Gold Micro HDMI Cable to Connect Amazon Kindle Fire HD to TV LCD” from juicebitz for £3.85 delivered.

Not only does the quality of manufacture seem to be a cut above most cables (juicebitz say that they manufacture the cables themselves) but it has immediately removed the little one pixel sized random green dots that I used to get in dark areas of photos with other cables I used.

Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 Storage Spaces: RAID is dead – here comes Smart Data Ubiquity

“…nothing can be said to be certain, except death, taxes and hard drive failure Benjamin Franklin, 1789.

Call me old fashioned, but I tend to still think that the folk who know the capabilities of any product best (and how long it will last), are the people who manufacture them. So as an exercise for the reader:

Why do you think that most Hard Drive Manufacturers provide only 1 year warranties with their drives?


The Problem

With this in mind, I started to investigate the current data retention technologies available for increasing the storage in my HP ProLiant MicroServer (you know, the one everyone bought after HP did a cash back deal – because it seemed like a cheap and good idea at the time).

I wanted to build a resilient repository for family photos and and the like – the sort of stuff that is spilling out of USB drives, memory sticks and getting deleted from digital cameras when they run out of space.

I would like to say that I did the investigation bit first, but having leapt at an offer for two 3TB Toshiba DT01ACA300 drives – I ended up scratching my head as to precisely what to do with them when they arrived …

Given the certainty that both of these drives will fail at some point in the future – at least, before I am no longer capable of operating a computer, I figured that unless there was some common and interrupting event, like a plane falling on the house or a massive power surge – at least these drives are unlikely to both fail at the same time. Therefore if each drive was a duplicate of the other, I reckoned that I had a pretty good chance of maintaining a resilient data storage environment in which I could swap out drives when they failed.

The Woody Plan

My plan, was to use the RAID controller in the HP micro server to do RAID 1 mirroring – i.e. each disk would be a mirror of the other, with files being written (and read) from both disks. However, once I had sat down and thought about it, I realised that it was quite an inelegant approach and not very cost effective. For although I would continue to have a complete copy of the data if one disk failed, that data would be a mixture of stuff which could effectively have different retention policies – not all of which, needed the same level of resilience.

For simplicity, let’s say that I have just two data retention types (although you could have significantly more in your world):

1.  Family photos and the like – which need to be retained for the sake of marital harmony..

2. Music MP3’s (rips of CD’s that I own and can be re-ripped), iPlayer downloads, Mrs W’s PDF’s of Next catalogues …etc, etc. This is stuff, which while I am in no hurry to lose, can be recreated and doesn’t need to sit on a high cost storage array.

Note how, with my proposed two disk mirrored array, I have to provide 6TB of drive space to deliver only 3TB of storage – and a lot of that storage will actually be used up by data that I don’t care if it is lost (like the Next Catalogues).

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I guess that you began to read this article in the traditional way by starting at the title … so it will come as no surprise to you that as a result of my research for my own storage options, I became intrigued by the capabilities presented by a technology called Storage Spaces – that is built into the newly released R2 version of Windows Server 2012 (there was a version of Storage Spaces in R1 – but R2 adds some significant additional features).

This is not just for large enterprises

While Windows Server 2012 is generally held to be the preserve of large enterprises, now with the launch of the R2 release, entry level can be gained via the Foundation edition (up to 15 users running on single processor servers) which will only be available OEM pre-installed on new servers (like the HP Micro Server) for an uplift – which current manufacturers retail pricing is indicating to be around £160/$260. OK, so it’s an additional cost, but you have to buy an operating system to put on your new micro server in any case – right?

Of course, there are other versions of Windows Server 2012 R2 (see references at the end) which contain the same Storage Spaces technology and there are products that can simulate some of the capabilities of Storage Spaces in Windows 7 and 8.1 (which I will cover in a later article).

…And just to cover something else off – for those who are wondering why I appear to be endorsing an en-premise approach to storage management in the era of the cloud: There continue to be many IT Managers for whom the provision of en-premise centralised backup, file and print management is still a key service.

Smart Data Ubiquity (SDU) – what is that?

SDU in Windows Server 2012 R2, is the result of a complete paradigm shift in the way we think of provisioning storage:

Imagine building a server which, for simplicity, contains just a bunch of disks (JBOD) [although the technology works just as well with NAS, Fibre attached, clustered bare metal or virtual servers] which can be a mixture of sizes and technologies – traditional platter and SSD’s].

A number of these disks are then effectively ring-fenced as a Storage Pool (there can be multiple Storage Pools).

Virtual drives – called Storage Spaces – are then defined and mounted as if  they are physical drives.

Each Storage Space automatically configures using (but not reserving – as we’ll see later) available space from any of the physical drives in the Storage Pool:

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Data written to each Storage Space is then striped across the drives in the storage pool in 256K blocks (block size is adjustable – for optimising block write to match the block size of a tenant application for which you have reserved a dedicated Storage Space).

The Data bit

There are three types of Storage Space, two of which are resilient by design:

Simple: Data is simply striped across drives in the storage pool. No parity bit is stored, neither is the data mirrored or otherwise duplicated. This type is best suited for ephemeral data – that which no longer needs to exist after an application has closed or for elastic compute environments etc. Don’t back up your photos on this one …but actually, as we’ll see later, a Simple Storage Space is more resilient than a stand-alone drive in situations where disk degradation occurs (but it won’t protect against sudden/catastrophic disk failure).

Parity: Data and associated parity bits are striped across physical disks in the storage pool, but it does need at least 3 physical drives to protect you from one physical disk failure and 7 drives to protect from 2 disk failures etc. So I guess you get better protection from catastrophic disk failure at the cost of reduced usable disk space overall.

Mirror: Data is striped in duplicate data blocks across different physical disks in the storage pool. Again, while you suffer some reduction in overall capacity, it takes 3 physical drives to protect you from one physical disk failure and only 5 drives to protect from 2 disk failures etc. In addition, Mirror Storage Spaces support three way mirroring (a copy of a copy of a copy – for the truly paranoid) – so I am guessing that when building large Storage Spaces, Mirroring might be the most popular approach, as data from a lost physical drive can simply be block copied from it’s mirror – rather than being recreated from it’s parity data – which can be potentially more processor and Bus intensive.

The Smart bit

Storage Spaces also have additional inherent capabilities:

Thin Provisioning: This one is a bit mind bending, but it is the ability to provision a Storage Space at a size that if all Storage Spaces were filled to capacity, the sum of the total capacity of all Storage Spaces would be larger than the total capacity of physical disk space in the the Storage pool. As an example, if the total physical capacity of all the drives in the pool was 10TB, you could provision 15TB’s (the sky’s the limit) of total Storage Space capacity as long as the actual consumption of space in all the Storage Spaces never exceeded 10TB (you would get an error and a lot of phones ringing if it did …).

Most traditional storage systems run significantly under capacity – as disk partitions generally tend to be specified for the maximum amount of data that users and applications are going to throw at them (plus, say, 20% – if you want to keep your job when something goes wrong). Even if you say that any partition runs, on average, at 70% utilisation – this means, that at any moment in time, there is a lot of disk space sitting idle.

With thin provisioning, you can effectively size Storage Spaces to the same capacity as a traditional sizing model, but on average, with Storage Spaces transient data cycling between max and min consumption, it means that more users/apps can inhabit the same physical drive space. Oh, and the best bit – if you start to run out of space, just bung another drive into the pool!

Storage Tiers: As you initially provision or add drives to the Storage Pool, you must specify the tier of each drive that is added. Currently there are two tiers:

– SSD’s

– HD’s

Over time, as data is written and read from a Storage Space, it is identified as high or low frequency accessed data. High frequency or “hot” data will automatically and dynamically be moved to the SSD’s in the storage pool and vice versa, with the lowest frequency accessed data being moved to HD’s.

Write cache: (AKA Write-back cache): Each Storage Space, as long as it contains a physical number of SSD’s appropriate to its type (Simple, Parity or Mirror) is automatically provisioned with a 1GB write cache. This allows the initial buffering of either the types of random writes common in enterprise applications or high density streaming writes. Data is then background striped across the Storage Space – smoothing jitter caused by data write bottlenecks.

The ubiquitous bit

This, to me, is the most exciting and coolest resilience bit – which kind of ties it all together:

Storage Pools (of physical disks) automatically self heal. If a drive is detected as failing or otherwise degrading, it’s data will automatically be moved to free space on the other physical drives in the Storage Pool.

Storage Pools can also contain a pre-designated Hot Spare Drive which a Storage Space will then use first for healing – in preference to free space on the other drives.

Similarly, additional physical drives can be added to a Storage Pool at any time and the Storage Spaces will rebalance.

There’s more ….

This is but a taster to start you out on the Windows Server 2012 R2 SDU journey.

There is so much more – that I have left out for simplicity – like how you configure and provision Storage Spaces with the Server console or PowerShell commandlets. How you manage TRIM and Defrag and the time and frequency of high frequency data being optimised to SSD and how you manage fail over clustering and multitenancy etc.

Continue the Smart Data Ubiquity journey here:

http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/15198.storage-spaces-overview.aspx

http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/11382.storage-spaces-frequently-asked-questions-faq.aspx

http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/15200.storage-spaces-designing-for-performance.aspx

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/products/windows-server-2012-r2/default.aspx#fbid=b1js9HiS4GV

© Woody – October 2013

[This article is original work – over which I own and retain copyright. However, it is based on multiple Microsoft documentary sources placed in the public domain and I acknowledge and thank Microsoft for that. You are welcome to use and otherwise republish this article as you will – but I just request that you continue to attribute me as the original author. Thanks.]

Asus Zenbook UX31A (or any Intel HD4000/HDMI graphics) Black Screen in Windows 8 workaround (should work for Windows 7)

This is Part 1 of a two part article – only separated to make it easier for those with this particular problem to search for this.

This is a very niche article, I grant you, but of you are reading it, chances are, you have this problem and while my experience is specifically with the Asus Zenbook UX31A, searching the internet reveals that it seems to be a common and generic problem with Intel HD4000 graphics.

The Problem:

Randomly (it’s not reliably reproducible) you boot your PC or return from sleep or hibernation and you are presented with just a black screen. Hitting the power button for a hard reboot doesn’t help, you just get booted back up into a black screen.

The Explanation:

I am indebted to Seth Eliot for pointing out, that when you have a black screen, this is normally because the PC is outputting a display on the (micro) HDMI port – even though you don’t have a screen connected to the HDMI port. Worse than that, the HD4000 graphics seem to have made your non-existent HDMI monitor the default display.

The Workaround:

imagePress the Windows Key and “P” together, followed by tapping the Up Arrow twice. This should select the projection screen dialogue (try it on your PC BEFORE you have this problem to simulate the action) and two presses should select “PC Screen only” and bring Windows back to your PC screen.

And if that doesn’t work?

Well, you could try turning it off and then back on again …….

Note: This is NOT a fix for the BLUE screen login problem – where you have the blue Windows login screen but no user/password box to allow you to login. I haven’t the faintest idea how to fix that!

Asus Zenbook UX31A (or any Intel HD4000/HDMI graphics) fix for no HDMI output to an external monitor in Windows 8 (should work for Windows 7)

This is Part 2 of a two part article – only separated to make it easier for those with this particular problem to search for this.

This is a very niche article, I grant you, but of you are reading it, chances are, you have this problem – and while my experience is specifically with the Asus Zenbook UX31A, searching the internet reveals that it seems to be a common and generic problem with Intel HD4000 graphics and HDMI output to an external monitor.

The Problem:

The internet is awash with folk having problems getting any output from the micro-HDMI port on their Intel HD4000 graphics chipset PC’s – and this includes the Asus Zenbook UX31A, as this thread on the Intel Community site attests.

I have the problem myself, in that I found it impossible to drive a Dell monitor in extended mode via the micro-HDMI (most Zenbook UX31A users would use the micro VGA dongle – so wouldn’t come across this problem, but those who, ahem, have lost their VGA dongle are now forced to go the micro-HDMI route….).

I am therefore indebted to Cognus who has written this article over at Eightforums, which seems to suggest that the problem is fundamentally due to a chipset design error in the way Intel implements HDCP and it is probably not possible to fix it via a driver update. This has enabled me (via trial and error) to develop a repeatable process which will, if a little inelegant, drive an external monitor via (micro) HDMI.

The (temporary) fix:

Presuming that the screen is working on your Intel HD4000 laptop, here are some pictures of the technique I use to get the micro HDMI to output to an external monitor:

1. In Windows Device Manager, right click Intel® HD Graphics 4000, select “Properties” and then select the “Driver” tab:

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2. Click the “Uninstall” button and be sure to select the “Delete the driver software for this device” checkbox:

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3. You will then see that your display device completely disappears from the list of devices:

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4. Select the top item in the device list (which will have the name of your PC) and in the Action drop-down, select “Scan for hardware changes”:

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5. At this point, there will be a bit of screen flashing and your external (micro) HDMI monitor should spring into life. You will also note that Windows has detected your HD4000 graphics display, but has installed its default driver:

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6. Keep the faith, because very quickly, Windows seems to decide that that is not the right driver, and automatically installs Intel driver version 9.17.10.2932:

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7. Hit “Restart later” – because you are going to need to repeat this process every time you can’t get an external monitor to work via HDMI – so there is no point in restarting and putting you back to square one:

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Of course, if anyone has a better process (I have tried the latest Intel V9.17.10.2875.01 video drivers – and it doesn’t make any difference) please do comment.

Malware Hunting and Windows Troubleshooting with Mark Russinovich and Microsoft Sysinternals tools

Mark Russinovich is a Microsoft teWindows Sysinternalschnical fellow, who a few of my, ahem, more mature readership will remember from his Winternals Windows tools company – which turned into Windows Sysinternals when Microsoft bought his company and hired Mark.

Mark is a an easy to follow and very engaging presenter who delivered two great sessions at TechED 2013 US:

Case of the Unexplained 2013: Windows Troubleshooting with Mark Russinovich

In which Mark walks you “step-by-step through how he has solved seemingly unsolvable system and application problems on Windows.

With all new real case studies, Mark shows how to apply the Microsoft Debugging Tools and his own Sysinternals tools, including Process Explorer, Process Monitor, to solve system crashes, process hangs, security vulnerabilities, DLL conflicts, permissions problems, registry misconfiguration, network hangs, and file system issues.

License to Kill: Malware Hunting with the Sysinternals Tools

Mark delivers “an overview of several Sysinternals tools, including Process Monitor, Process Explorer, and Autoruns, focusing on the features useful for malware analysis and removal.

These utilities enable deep inspection and control of processes, file system and registry activity, and autostart execution points. You will see demos for their malware-hunting capabilities through several real-world cases that used the tools to identify and clean malware, and conclude by performing a live analysis of a Stuxnet infection’s system impact.

—–

If you want to increase your skills at troubleshooting Windows issues or you are currently fighting a virus/malware infection (or not even sure if you have a malware or virus infection) then these videos are very good use of your time – and of course, the whole plethora of Windows Sysinternals tools are well worth evaluating.

Note: These videos are available for download – you don’t have to only watch them streaming. No need for get_iplayer and therefore Microsoft 1, BBC Nil…

How to download (for offline playing) BBC TV or Radio iPlayer programmes using get_iplayer [an alternative to Radio Downloader]

July 2015 Update: Please read this article FIRST.

First, the sanity clause:
I am NOT a Lawyer – and therefore not an expert on the legality (or otherwise) of downloading material that the BBC make freely available for subsequent offline viewing or listening. However, I have paid my TV licence to the BBC and consider that downloading BBC material for offline playing once – as if I had watched it at the time of original transmission – followed by subsequent deletion (not retention) is fair use and my right as one of the folk who have contributed to the BBC for the original production of this material.

Reading further, is your acknowledgement and acceptance of the same principles and you confirm that BBC material obtained as a result of this article is for your own, temporary use. Furthermore, you acknowledge that the author of this article is NOT the author of the applications listed and that this article only points to products and information that already exist freely in the public domain.  

I am indebted to Matt Robinson, who wrote the original Radio Downloader and who therefore brought a little sunshine into my life, by allowing me to listen to the previous night’s Zane Lowe on my Walkman while I commuted to work.

It appears that Matt has now received a “Cease and Desist” order from the BBC which is so sad – as it follows on from the unnecessary approach the BBC took with Lawrence Gripper – when they had previously been more than happy for him to promote them via his Windows Phone app (however, fear not BBC News fans, an alternative called “Paper Boy” is on the way!).

So, the search was on to find an alternate way of downloading (for offline listening) BBC Radio programmes.

Step forward, David Woodhouse and his brilliant get-iplayer

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Now, get_iplayer is an extremely feature rich application which runs on Windows and Linux. In addition, it can be run in either command mode or via a Windows interface.

More technically advanced readers will probably find the command mode to their taste – but I prefer to use the Windows interface, which is not immediately intuitive if it is your first time of using this application.

So, follow these steps to iPlayer programme download and offline listen/viewing nirvana:

1. Download and install get-iplayer.

2. Once installed, run Get_Iplayer:

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3. If get_iplayer is working and correctly installed, it will give you a screen that looks like this:

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4. Wait for step 3. to finish and drop back to a prompt and then select the Web PVR Manager:

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5. This should open a get_iplayer Search interface (in your default browser) that will search the catalogue that it downloaded in step 2. [It is a good idea to re-run step 2 in order to update the current programme catalogue on each separate occasion that you want to record something].

6. For TV programmes, just do a search and select “record” in the little box next to the programme that you want to record. This will open up a new page and you will see that programme being locally downloaded to your PC.

Note: that what gets downloaded has NO DRM – so in theory, you can keep it as long as you want – as long as you have purchased a UK TV licence I guess (I am not a Lawyer).

7. For Radio Programmes,

Either:

1) Put a tick in the box for BBC Radio

2) Put the name of the Radio Station in the “Channels containing” box.

3) Click “Apply Settings”

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(I am indebted to Ed Savage for working this bit out for me!)

Then:

1) Put a matching word from the title of the Radio programme (that you are searching for) in the “Search” box.

2) Click “Search”

3) Click “Record”

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OR

If the search doesn’t find the programme you want to record, try:

a) Locating the radio programme you want to record in here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio# and copy the link (url).

b) Put that url into the Web PVR Manager Quick URL box and then press “Record” – which is the second one along after “SEARCH”

8. You will then see a new web page open in your browser which will show the download status and other technical info about the media being downloaded:

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Look out for “Download complete” and you are done!

Please additionally feel free to comment on this article with your tips and tricks for getting the most out of get-iplayer.

Install Windows 8 or Windows 7 from a bootable USB memory stick using the Microsoft Windows 7 USB/DVD Download tool

 This article has been updated 03/08/2013 – because Microsoft had moved the download page again…..

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If you search around the internet, you will find all sorts of tools and tips for how to install Windows 8 (or Windows 7) without a DVD drive – but I prefer to stick with the tool from the folk who created Windows 8 – presuming that they must know something about how to do it ….

Just go to the “Microsoft Store” here:

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and download Microsoft’s handy Windows 7 USB/DVD Download tool.

The Microsoft Windows 7 USB/DVD Download tool Tool will create a bootable USB memory stick containing everything you need to install Windows 8 (or Windows 7) from either a downloaded ISO or DVD.

Configure Outlook 2013 Search so that stuff doesn’t seem to vanish

This is a quick tip for Office 2013 (only) about a problem that had me scratching my head – so I thought it might be valuable to share.

Consider the scenario:

You are having an email conversation i.e. you are sending emails on one particular subject and folk are responding.

In your Outlook inbox, you can see the latest email response and it contains all previous reply text – so once you have read that latest email, you have no need to read and separately file all previous emails on that subject that are still in your inbox. So what do you do to speed things up?

Well, if you are like me, you select the latest email reply by RIGHT clicking on it and select Find Related –> Messages in this Conversation

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You then select ALL the emails it lists in that conversation and delete them or file them or whatever.

A little while later, you need to refer to one of the messages in this conversation that was written and sent by you, but for some reason, you can’t find it anywhere in your SENT items – yet you must have sent it, otherwise how would anyone have been able to reply?

Step forward, an ingenious Search option in Outlook 2013 that is the culprit. It is either set by default during Outlook 2013 installation or I may have mistakenly set it while tinkering (more than likely) but not appreciated the impact:

You will note that in Outlook 2013, next to the search entry, there is a little down arrow:

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What you want, is the search to occur in the Current Folder (which in this scenario is your inbox) but you can select other options, most notably, the Dick Dastardly option Current Mailbox.

Current Mailbox, in this context, is EVERYTHING in your current mailbox – and that means that search finds and shows matches for stuff in your inbox, drafts, deleted items and most importantly, your SENT folder. The result is, that by selecting and deleting all these emails which you presume to be only emails in your inbox, you are actually selecting and deleting emails in this conversation that you have already sent – which explains why you can’t find them again ….. 

What we need, is a way for Outlook 2013 Search to default  to Current Folder – rather than Current Mailbox – and fortunately there is a setting for that:

1. Go into the Outlook 2013 “backstage” view by selecting File –> Options and then clicking on Search

2. Select Include results only from: Current Folder  rather than Current folder. Current mailbox when searching from the inbox

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Simple when you know how!

How to make Windows 8 (and Outlook 2013) go a bit faster

For those who have already upgraded to Windows 8, or who have bought PC’s with it newly installed, you will already have discovered that it is a great new Operating System that increases productivity – once you get your head around the fact that it has two user interfaces: The normal desktop – ideally suited to those without Touch Screens and the Metro Modern Windows UI – for those with Touch screens.

Most folk with recent hardware will find that Windows 8 is extremely fast and fluid – in fact, it flies along on a Lenovo G580 in our household – so much so, that even though it doesn’t have a touch screen, users just use the Modern UI – because it just seems to offer a faster way of getting things done. However, there have been reports from folk who, on older hardware, feel that it is not so snappy. In response, what follows, are two tips that should speed things up a bit – but at the loss of some fluidity in scrolling etc.

Give it a go – and please do post a comment if you find it makes things better or worse (so I can gauge the effectiveness of this Woodygem™ ) – as both of these tips are fully reversible and will cause no damage:

Speed up Windows 8 by turning off all unnecessary animations:

1. Select “Ease of Access Center” in the Control Panel:

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2. Select “make the computer easier to use:

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3. Scroll down to the end of the page and put a tick in the box for “turn off unnecessary animations (when possible):

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Speed up Outlook 2013 (might work for other versions as well)

1. In Outlook, select File –> Options

2. Select Advanced and remove the tick from the box beside “Use animations when expanding conversations and groups”

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3. Click “OK” and you are done.

 

Note:  This advice is only suitable for people running Windows 8 on a PC that does not have a touch sensitive display. While it will work for PC’s with touch sensitive displays, these two tips may impact your overall experience in that things might no flow so smoothly when you are flicking things around with your finger.

With Thanks:  To Ric Harris for the initial confirmatory testing.