Category Archives: Windows 8

Lenovo Flex 10 SSD upgrade

I was asked for advise for a cheap new Windows laptop for a friend. I went for the Lenovo Flex 10, for the following reasons:

      1. Lenovo build quality & support
      2. Portability
      3. 4GB of RAM

This machine is currently £229.99 in PC World (http://www.pcworld.co.uk/gbuk/laptops-netbooks/laptops/laptops/lenovo-flex-10-10-1-convertible-touchscreen-laptop-black-10016057-pdt.html) , which is where the friend happened to be when I was called. So a quick bit of research, this is what I went for, the main reason being that it is relatively easy to install an SSD. These small laptops are all very well, but would really be about as fast as an ageing Windows XP netbook. Put an SSD in however, and everything comes to life – the CPU can keep up, there is enough RAM to have a few apps running, and with a decent SSD in, the system seems positively spritely. At the end of the upgrade, you have a small, lightweight machine with a fast SSD a shade over £300, not bad. So I also recommended the Crucial MX100 256GB SSD drive for £73.79: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Crucial-CT256MX100SSD1-256GB-Includes-Spacer/dp/B00KFAGCWK/ref=as_sl_pc_ss_til?tag=highbird-21&linkCode=w01&linkId=&creativeASIN=B00KFAGCWK.

So the machine came along with a disk. A bit of Googling didn’t quite give me enough detail, so I will share how I did this here.

SSD Installation in the Lenovo Flex 10

You can install an SSD as follows:

      1. Prise open the 2 rubber feet. Lever open the side near the edge of the laptop, there is a hinge at the other side. I used a pen knife blade, be careful not to damage the foot.
      2. Remove the paper seal under one of the feet (goodbye warranty) and remove the screws underneath
      3. Remove all the other screws on the bottom of the unit. Keep the safe.
      4. Prise open the case, I used a credit card (a store one you don’t want as it may get damaged) to go all around the edge until it popped open. At the back near the hinge I had to use a penknife bottle opener to pop that off, it was quite tough. Then the whole back came off nicely, revealing the standard 2.5″ 7.5mm HDD. There are no wires or cables attached to the base, so it is a relatively safe operation if you are careful.
      5. Unscrew 3 screws holding in the HDD caddy. Note that in the picture below I mistakenly screwed one back in the wrong place, the top one, don’t add that one.
      6. You will then be able to slightly life up the caddy, and remove it. It is quite tricky as the one I had had some sticky tape on the bottom of they drive. Take it slow wiggling from side to side.
      7. Remove the old HDD from the caddy and install the new one. It just takes standard 2.5″ 76mm drives.
      8. Clip the laptop back together and screw all the screws in.
      9. Reboot, press Fn+F2 to enter the BIOS.
      10. Go to the Boot option and enable legacy boot.
      11. Reboot, press FN+F12 this time to enter the boot menu.
      12. Choose your USB device to install Windows.

Windows installation

What I generally do, is stick in an SSD if I can, and then do a clean installation of Windows, without all the crapware. In this case, I was not able to preserve to the OEM activation due to the version of Windows on this machine (Windows 8.1 with Bing), so I used on one of my own Windows keys.

The machine came with ‘Windows 8.1 with Bing’. The SKU for this is CoreConnected. Unfortunately there seems to be no way to do a clean install of Windows with this version (yet) – see http://forums.mydigitallife.info/threads/40897-Guide-to-preserve-Windows-8-x-OEM-Activation

Here are some images which may help.

Surface 2 HDMI output problems fixed with a cable mod

The Surface 2 has a micro HDMI output, however some cables will not work correctly due to the angle of the port.

I picked up a Surface 2 the other day. Loving the tablet, except had few annoying issues. The first was that when I connected it to my TV via a micro HDMI to HDMI cable I picked up on Amazon here I found that it did not work properly. An LG TV worked fine, but a Samsung did not detect the input. It turns out that this is because of the angle of the port, and the fact that the cable needs to be fully pushed home to work properly.  Once I worked that out, it was a simple fix with a knife to trim some of the cable shrouding off on one side, allowing the cable to push further in.

Here is the cable after the mod, with one side shaved off, now works perfectly:

cable_mod

The second issue I had, was that my display settings kept getting messed up, either changing the resolution, or making the desktop and start screen much smaller than it should be. This was because I had a Windows 8.1 VM logged on with my account, and it kept syncing the settings. Modifying the sync settings to not sync display settings resolved this one.

The Nokia Lumia 2520 value proposition

Update: Turns out that this was indeed a good deal, John Lewis have now put the 2520 up to £399 again!

So it looks like the price reduction in the UK for the Lumia 2520 is permanent on the John Lewes site. I have attempted to compare 3 similarly specced tablets with 32GB of storage, and all with 4G LTE, this being one of my main requirements. I also tried to add in some Samsung Android tablets, but they are such a confusing mess of similar products (Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1, Galaxy Note 10.1, Galaxy Tab 3 10.1), and some even come with different types of CPU, which then affects whether or not 4G is available. I gave up in the end.

So we are left with 3 decent devices, the Kindle HDX, the Lumia 2520 and the iPad air. The Kindle has a smaller screen but benefits from low weight, however once you specify 32GB of storage, 4G and no ads version, the price really mounts up. The iPad as everyone knows is reassuringly expensive. Note that I have no considered the Surface 2 LTE as this is not yet available in the UK.

TabletKindle Fire HDX 8.9Nokia Lumia 2520Apple iPad Air
Storage32GB32GB32GB
SD slotNo Ads versionYesNo
RAM2GB2GB1GB
CPU2.2GHz quad-core2.2GHz quad-core1.4GHz dual-core A7
Screen8.9"10.1"9.7"
Pixel density339218264
4G/3G4G LTE4G LTE4G LTE
Price£449.00£299.95£579.00
Weight384g615g478g
NotesNo Ads versionIncludes Office

What seems amazing is that the Nokia is £150 cheaper than the nearest rival if you want a 4G large current gen tablet. Not only that, it includes Office which would require a £75 a year subscription on iPad, albeit that is a touch version. Most people are already invested in an ecosystem, so this probably doesn’t make that much difference, but to me this is pretty amazing value. The Nokia is a damned fine device and for this price is very tempting, if you can handle the lack of apps in the store. It is also the only device with expandable storage.

Skipping product or license key during installation of Windows 8 and Server 2012

Windows 8 and Server 2012 have an annoying default installation process which forces you to enter a product key during installation. Often you may want to paste this in later, or just not enter one if you are installing a demo or test system, having to type one in manually is a massive pain. Luckily, you can easily modify the installation so that it lets you skip the requirement for entering the product key. The easiest way to do this is by creating the ei.cfg file in Sources folder in your ISO or USB media.

For Windows 8 or Server 2012 – this is the file that I normally create using notepad and save as ei.cfg in the Sources folder.

[EditionID]
[Channel]
Retail
[VL]
0

This works using MSDN or Technet (RIP) keys and media. I don’t bother entering the version, since I often may want to choose that during installation. By not entering the version you can choose if you want Standard, Datacentre etc.The format of the ei.cfg is as follows:

[EditionID]
{Edition ID}
[Channel]
{Channel Type}
[VL]
{Volume License}

[EditionID]: This is the version of Windows that you want to install. This varies by OS. You can use Dism /Get-ImageInfo and specify the image file  to get the editions available from the wim file e.g. Dism /Get-ImageInfo /imagefile:I:\sources\install.wimValid options are:

Windows 7:

Starter
HomeBasic
HomePremium
Ultimate
Professional
Enterprise
Windows 8:
Core
Pro
Windows Server 2012:
SERVERSTANDARDCORE
SERVERSTANDARD
SERVERDATACENTERCORE
SERVERDATACENTER
Note that there others, e.g. Foundation and Essentials for Server 2012.

[Channel]: This can be OEM or RETAIL depending on the type of media that you have.

[VL]: This can be 1 for  Volume License, or 0 for Retail

See http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh824952.aspx for more information.

 

Creating bootable Windows Vista, 7, 8, 2012 USB or SD memory card

There are several ways to create  bootable USB media if you have an ISO. You can also do this using an SD card if you have a USB adapter for the memory card.  For windows 7 a 4GB drive is fine, for later you will need more than 4GB.

Microsoft Windows 7 USB/DVD download tool

The easiest method is probably the Microsoft Windows 7 USB/DVD download tool http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msusa/html/pbPage.Help_Win7_usbdvd_dwnTool

This is simple and easy to use, and should work with Windows Vista ISOs or later.

 ZOTAC WinUSB Maker

This is another nice tool from http://forums.mydigitallife.info/threads/47012-ZOTAC-WinUSB-Maker-Official-Support-Thread, and works with Windows Vista ISOs or later.

Manual method

 

If you don’t have the ISO or want to do this manually, you can also use diskpart to prepare the drive and then copy the contents over. This is the way I normally end up doing it for some reason, the advantage being that you don’t need any other tools if you are running a Windows OS. Risk of formatting the wrong drive if you don’t know what you are doing with diskpart, so be careful.

Format the Drive

Run cmd.exe as Administrator and type the following:

  • list disk (Note which one is your USB disk – make sure you get       the right one!)
  • diskpart
  • select disk 2       (assuming that it was listed as disk 2)
  • clean
  • create partition       primary
  • select partition 1
  • active
  • format fs=fat32 (Note: Quick format does not work)
  • assign
  • exit

Copy the files

Mount the ISO or insert the DVD, and then copy the Windows files to your drive.

Modify the below example depending on your drive letters:

xcopy d:\*.* /s/e/f e:\

OR easier using Robocopy:

Robocopy d: f: /e

 

Note that you can do something similar on Linux using http://www.pendrivelinux.com/

Windows wifi roaming – setting clients to automatically connect to the nearest wireless access point

The preferred method of installing multiple wireless access points in a large house or office, is to use the same SSID for all of the access points whilst separating them onto different channels as much as possible. However, not all wireless clients will automatically switch to the strongest signal as you roam around the environment. I recently discovered a setting on Intel wireless cards that does just that, and has increased my connection significantly. My laptop no longer stays connected to an access point with poor signal, it switches to the nearest one very quickly.

The setting is called roaming aggressiveness, and can be found on the Advanced settings or your network adapter. Just change this up to 5:

Intel(R) Centrino(R) Advanced-N 6205 Properties (2)

 

See the following on the Intel site for more details:

http://www.intel.com/support/wireless/wlan/sb/CS-030101.htm

I am also interested in how IOS devices (iphones and ipads) handle WiFi roaming, in my experience the answer is not very well. There is a support on the Apple site

iOS and OS X: Recommended settings for Wi-Fi routers and access points http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4199

This recommends setting the same SSID on all routers, but doesn’t mention what settings to use on the client (there aren’t any).

Using advanced search in the Windows 8.1 mail app

Microsoft overhauled the Mail app in the 8.1 release this year. One of the obvious improvements to the Search feature was that you could now search in both the current folder, as well as All folders:

allfolders

However, you can also do much more advanced searching, similar to the features found in Outlook, for example to find all messages from someone or with a particular subject. You could use Favorites in the app to see all messages from a favorite contact, or the People list, but you may want to just look for from:microsoft.com or something. I havent seen this documented anywhere, but what you can do is enter search strings similar to Outlook but in a different format:

e.g. from:microsoft.com

subject:samsung

to:fred

Note that this differs to Outlook which uses the format: from:(microsoft.com)

I haven’t had time to find more than this, but some of the more advanced Outlook ones don’t seem to be present. But these are the the most important ones that I use, and make using e.g. Windows RT more usable as a daily mail app. You can see the difference with the functionality below, a search with the word Samsung picks up another email for something I was watching on ebay (which had the word somewhere in it), but if I use the subject of Samsung I only get the relevant results. Now if only they would actually fix my fridge…

samsung

More refined results:

subject

Quickly editing the “New” context menu in Windows…

When you right click in a folder and want to create a new item, the New context menu that appears can become quite cluttered with programs that you do not want.

This is how I edit this menu to remove all the entries that I do not want and streamline my workflow. You could of course script this, but not easy to script the removal because it depends what you want to remove. This can save you time as you don’t have to hunt for the items that you actually need in a larger New menu.

  • To start with, right click in a folder, choose New, and note the items that you want to remove. You will need to know the file extension for each entry. Some will be obvious, e.g. you probably know that a Text Document has a .txt extension. Others may not be. In this case, just create one of the files using the New item menu, and use explorer to show the file extension of the file that it creates.
  • Once you know the extension, open regedit. I am going to assume that you know what you are doing here, so if you don’t I would not advise proceeding without a system backup.
  • Open HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT. You will see a long list of extensions.
  • If you want to remove e.g. New Word Document, type in .doc (including the period) and you will jump down to .doc
  • Expand the key and find the key called ShellNew, and delete it.

HKCR_shell

What you end up with is a nice clean New menu:

New_Context

 

 

Skydrive sync errror when saving Office 2013 files

Some of you may have encountered this annoying error when saving an Microsoft Office file, for instance Word or Excel, to a Skydrive folder on Windows 8 or Windows 7. What happens is that you edit the file, click save, and an annoying error pops up almost every time saying: ‘SAVE AGAIN We need to refresh your file with updates. Click Save to try again.’

SkyDriveSync

There is also then an error using Skydrive explorer:

SkyDriveSync2

Thankfully there is a simply fix for this. Just go into the Righyt click on the Skydrive app in the system tray, choose settings and disable Office save:

SkyDriveSettings

Relocating Documents and other folders the easy way

If you want to relocate users folders on a locally managed PC, one (somewhat painful) way is to just right click on each folder, choose Properties, then change the location on the location tab:

docs1

But, a much easier way is simply to cut and paste the folder. This works even if the destination exists, and has the added benefit of removing the folder from a C: drive. So it is the ideal way to do this if you keep user folders on another drive and have formatted your primary OS drive.

– Navigate to C:\Users\username
– Right click on each folder you want to move, choose cut, and then go to the destination you want e.g. D:\Users and choose paste. This should work on Windows Vista or later. XP probably won’t want to merge the folders.

docs2

Job done!