I recently set up a new Windows 10 machine. After eight years with only Apple devices, I finally wanted to fetch up with the PC and Windows world again.
For a day or two, I tried to connect my laptop to my NAS at home. I checked firewalls, credentials, server settings, usernames, network. I checked it double, triple, quadrupplewise. I tried almost any permutation. Eventually, I gave up.
At a very last attempt, I tried the option to map a network drive. After entering user credentials again and again, finally Windows 10 came up the very first time with a useful error message.
“This shares requires the obsolete SMB1 protocol…” is quite some information one can work with.
Enabling SMB1 turns out to be quite easy. Head to Turn Windows Features on or of and scroll down to SMB 1.0/CIFS File Sharing Support. There check SMA 1.0/CIFS Client to enable SMB1 support.
Once done, connection to servers providing (only) SMB1 will work again on Windows 10.
One of the most annoying limitations using any version of Windows, is the clipboard and its limited capacity of one entry. Even Microsoft’s DOS supported sort of a clipboard striking the F7 key to choose from the last ten commands.
However, using Windows only one single item can be placed into the clipboard. Using multiple tools, documents over time one would speed up work significantly if it would be possible to keep many things in the clipboard at once.
Quite a while ago, Microsoft introduced the Clipboard Ring for Visual Studio to cycle through the most recent copied code snippets as especially developers often need different fragments of code over and over again (said that kids, please remember, copied code is never good at all).
Anyway, how great would be the experience using Windows if one could access such a clipboard ring or similar outside of Visual Studio? Ditto Clipboard Manager is a small open source project, providing especially this functionality:
“Ditto is an extension to the standard windows clipboard. It saves each item placed on the clipboard allowing you access to any of those items at a later time. Ditto allows you to save any type of information that can be put on the clipboard, text, images, html, custom formats, …..”
It does keep anything in your clipboard, is easy accessible and does even provide a preview for many things copied during your work day.
There is a whole bunch of shortcuts and if you don’t like its appearance go ahead and theme it differently. I haven’t tried all the options Ditto does provide, however, I am already using it on all my machines at work as well as home. So go and give it a try.
A couple months ago, we got a second 24” monitor for each developer at the company I worked for. At that particular time, some of the developers still used some old 15” monitors as a second monitor. I spend quite some time to explain why it is important for companies to provide a good great work experience. You should aim at making your employees feel comfortable at work. Following Starbuck’s a third place between work and home employers should try to keep the workspace as attractive as possible to their folks. Starbuck’s would not succeed with over 17,000 stores if the place where you can stay would not be attractive, though.
Said that, below is what my current home office workplace looks like right now. My Almost-Retina-But-Then-Again-Bought-To-Early-MacBook Pro, two external monitors with a total resolution of 1920×1200 + 1680×1050 + 1920×1200 and an Icy Box for easy swapping external 2.5” and 3.5” HDD drives and the ElevationLab low friction iPhone dock, I backed at Kickstarter.
I run both, Windows 8 and MacOS Mountain Lion on my MacBook, depending what I need to do, I switch between both operating systems, all peripheral devices fully supported.
I was quite surprised, DisplayLink already offers Windows 8 drivers. Quite skeptical about the external graphics card using USB as I read a lot about latency and quality, both, the quality of the device as well as the support for Windows 8 and Mountain Lion are just great. I do not experience any latency (I do not play games on the external monitor, though) so far and the quality of the output absolutely satisfying.
You own a MacBook Pro? You run Boot Camp? You run Mac and Windows? You want to upgrade to Windows 8 but you still hesitate because Apple has not released a new Boot Camp version supporting Windows 8? First of all: I did it. I have to admit, I haven’t spent a single though on drivers before I upgraded to Windows 8 – and still I just blog from Windows 8 on my MacBook Pro.
What happens when I upgrade?
If you upgrade, some devices will work some won’t.Even if the Microsoft Upgrade Assistant does not show any incompatibilities with any of the MacBook’s devices in its report, they probably won’t work.
After installing, Windows 8 will show various devices in the Devices list indicating, there are no drivers available. Other’s simply won’t be detected at all, e.g. Windows8 won’t be able to detect the MacBook Pro’s WiFi at all. Function key, keyboard backlight won’t work and the graphics chipset might reset the screen resolution between the MacBook’s native resolution and something about 800×600 from time to time.
Where to get the Windows 8 drivers for my MacBook Pro?
To solve the driver issues, you simply start the Boot Camp Assistant from your Mac OS and follow the instructions until you find yourself faced with the following dialog.
Chose Download the latest Windows support software from Apple and continue. In the following step follow the on screen instructions either burning a DVD/CD or copying the files to a USB drive or any folder accessible from Windows (don’t drop the files to the Mac OS’s partition, though).
Will it blend work?
Restart Windows 8 and insert the disc, stick and select the setup.exe in the WindowsSupport folder. This will install a whole bunch of drivers.
Based on Apple’s Boot Camp 4.0 FAQ , the Windows Support Files contain the following drivers
Apple Keyboard Support
Apple Remote Driver
Atheros 802.11 Wireless
Boot Camp control panel for Microsoft Windows
Boot Camp System Task Notification item (System Tray)
Intel Chipset Software
Intel Integrated Graphics
Marvel Yukon Ethernet
Cirrus Logic Audio
Startup Disk control panel for Microsoft Windows
Once installed and the machine restarted, everything seems to work fine, the Windows Bluetooth and Boot Camp icons are shown in the notification area, light sensor, FaceTime camera and sound work perfectly and the graphics card runs smooth like butter.
One last word on function keys – they won’t work out of the box. You have to start the Boot Camp Control Panel from the tray and switch to the Keyboard tab.There check the Use all F1, F2… box.
Windows 8 on the MacBook Pro is a great experience even without touch display and retina. Upgrading without checking for the drivers of course was a greenhorn mistake. However, I hoped (yes I know indeed, hope is not a strategy) during the inplace upgrade, Windows will keep the drivers. However, the fact that all drivers still work, clearly shows that the driver architecture from Windows 7 to Windows 8 did not change at all. That’s good as manufacturers do not need to update drivers in a hurry based on a new architecture, but on the other side it shows that there are not that many improvements how Windows deals with the hardware. But again, maybe this is not necessary at all.
Before you upgrade to Windows 8, run a backup! I did so using Acronis True Image 2013. Even without thinking about drivers, I was not sure whether the upgrade process with Boot Camp on the machine will maybe brick my box. Also run a backup of you Mac OS partition using Time Machine.
Said that kids, please bear in mind, that this worked fine on my machine, and might fail on yours. Also there is probably no support from Apple for Boot Camp 4.0 running Windows 8.
Once you run through the purchase process (they accept credit card or PayPal), at one point after the download finished, the Windows Upgrade Assistant comes up with the following dialog:
Because you’ve waited for so long you are quite impatient and go straight for the first option because you think you can create the media later one… If done so, the Upgrade Assistant will install Windows 8. Eventually, there won’t be any option to create the media later on.
What now? If you just need the files, you can turn on hidden files in Windows Explorer (it’s now in the Ribbon). You will see a folder ESD on the root of your drive containing a Windows folder with the downloaded installation files. Go ahead and make a backup if required.
If you try to create an .iso file using the Upgrade Assistant again, you probably fail by getting the following result.
In case you still need (or just want) the .iso file, there is a way to obtain it. First of all, check your mail for the order confirmation of your Windows 8 copy. At the very top of the mail, you will find a link to download Windows again.
Following the link, you will download the Windows 8 Setup (windows8-setup.exe). Once started this will straight let you choose whether to install, download or to postpone the installation as seen above. Chose Install by creating a media and either choose to burn a DVD to to copy the files on a USB stick (3GB required, though).
You will be asked to choose the place where to save the .iso file, after which the download process starts immediately.
That’s all you have to do. Whether you have been impatient, clicked to fast, did not read carefully or just clicked ‘next’, ‘next’, ‘next’, there is still a way to get the .iso file afterwards.
I continually move between different office places using different setups for monitors with my laptop. Sizes, numbers and orders of the monitors vary from place to place. As a consequence, you either deal with a complete mess on your desktop or you spend several hours per week in rearranging icons on your desktop.
Tired of doing so, I was looking for a nice tool for Windows, easy to use. Desktop Restore by Jamie O’Connell is such a tool available for Windows x86 and x64 systems and it is free to use (while he appreciate donations). For me, it works fine on a Windows 7 64-bit machine.
It integrates well with the Windows Explorer context menu where you can save and restore layouts for different resolutions. This even allows you to set up your desktop for different locations and restore them with a single mouse click.
I have used it for ages, however, I have not really realized how great this tools until I set up my machine from the scratch recently.
The visual preview of files in Windows Explorer is one of the great features of Windows when looking for a certain file. Unfortunately, with Windows Vista Microsoft disabled the preview for Windows Metafile Format (.WMF) and Enhanced Metafile Format (.EMF) files. As I needed t work a lot with EMF files during my latest book project with Springer, I was looking for some way to enable the preview of the file types mentioned above in Windows Explorer.
Fortunately, there is a great plugin called emfplugin written by Daniel Gehringer to enable the preview. The plugin is available for x32 and x64 machines and should work on both, Windows Vista and Windows 7. Once installed (and rebooted) the Windows Explorer is capable of displaying EMF and WMF files.
The plugin is licensed under the MIT license, so its safe to go with it. At the very end this raises the question why Microsoft did actually disable the preview for two formats developed by Microsoft itself and whether they might work with Windows 8 again.
If the upgrade really works from Windows XP up to Windows 7, Microsoft might be possible to shift many users to the next generation of Windows. While the price for previous Windows upgrades was quite high, many users kept their former version of Windows until they bought a new personal computer, obtaining a new OEM version of Windows.
Nowadays, computers used at homes definitely last longer than the average Windows life cycle and quite a lot personal computers outside in the wild might see at least two version of Windows until being replaced.
Therefore, personally I welcome this move by Microsoft, considering to upgrade even more than one of my licenses to the new Windows version. Even though, this might be a strategic move by Microsoft to keep market share, existing customers definitely gain by the relatively low prices by upgrading even from previous Windows version. This might be quite an advantage as one has to buy each and every Mac OS version on the way upgrading from previous versions.
After a recent data loss, I had to restore several backups from various sources. Unfortunately, some of these backups were made on a Windows Server 2003 machine. However, it seems that Windows 7 does not come with any possibility to restore these backups out of the box, though.
The Windows NT Backup – Restore Utility seems to be the solution for this issue. During installation you might get the notification to turn on Removable Storage Management – on Windows Vista.
However, this is one of the features not available in Windows 7 anymore. Fortunately, Microsoft did release another version of this tool for Windows 7. Even the tool itself is now called Windows NT Backup Restore Utility for Windows 7 and for Windows Server 2008 R2 you will find it only as Update for Windows 7 x64-based Systems (KB974674) on the Web – of course this would be the exactly what you are going to look for, yes?
Once downloaded the right bits and installed, you will see the familiar UI of the former backup tool.
Simply follow the Restore Wizard to access your old backups.
After receiving my new MacBook, I wanted to sync a whole set of files between both systems. For convenience, I decided to use DropBox instead of a thumb drive and for security reasons, I decided to use TrueCrypt to encrypt some of my confidential data within the DropBox folders.
Using a TrueCrypt container within DropBox is quite convenient as I am syncing my DropBox folders with various machines (e.g. at work). However, I do not want to access these file there nor do I want that an admin might check out my “oooh so secret” files (not saying they would, though).
With my rusty Mac OS kung-fu, I had to install TrueCrypt first. Of course, this failed and being the first app I did install on Lion, this was somewhat demotivating. Before you have install a version from MACFuse. It seems that the official version is not up to date, however, there are rumors you might use the latest version provided at Tuxera.com.
Once MACFuse and TrueCrypt are set up and the machine is rebooted, create a TrueCrypt container within DropBox. When creating on OS X Lion, you might want choose FAT for the containers file system so you can mount it on the Windows system as well. However, any change within this container will synchronize the container as a whole. Not being very efficient if this is a 256 MB file, it seems that one can turn of the timestamp of the TrueCrypt container to avoid syncing it. This will prevent that the container gets synced after files within the container are changes, however, the itself files are still updated. To turn it of, open TrueCrypt and select Settings / Preferences… chose the Security tab and uncheck the Preserve modifications timestamp of file container checkbox.
Of course, the same has to be done on your Windows system.
Once both settings are applied, only the initial sync of the container will take some time. Thereafter, only the files within the container are updated. for me this seems to be a quite good solution to keep my boxes in sync and to avoid rubbernecks seeking through my private stuff. The setup is done quite easily, only the hassle with MACFuse was quite annoying.