Stuclark

By Stuclark, in News,

Nokia (or at least HMD) have released the Nokia 3310 at MWC2017. It's not quite the same phone as we all remember from the late '90s, so what exactly is this handset?

This phone a blatent re-boot of the original 3310, playing on our nostalgia for the previous almost-indestructable handset.
This time round, the phone gets a colour screen, Bluetooth, MicroSD slot, 2MP camera, micro-USB charging and a headphone socket. There's no GPS, 4G / LTE, NFC or anythig else special, but at a Euro 49 price point, you can't ask for much more. You do get 2.5G browsing on the built-in Opera web browser, but forget about email, facebook, twitter etc.
The design has had a bit of an update, including a slightly curved screen and some lucious looking smooth plastics. Oh, and there's a new version of Snake! The phone will be available world-wide in Q2 this year.

Stuclark

By Stuclark, in News,

LG have finally launched the much-leaked G6 at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona. This handset has been subject to many leaks and teasers; indeed LG have virtually shown us the entire handset in a number of official teaser videos. So which of the rumoured specs are true, and which anticipated features didn't make it in to the final decive?

The official specs are:
Format: Candybar; non-modular aluminium sides & glass front & back construction Screen: 5.7" "FullVision" 18:9 QHD+ 2880x1440 564dpi Size: 148.9mm long x 71.9mm wide x 7.9mm deep Weight: 163g Battery: 3300 mAh (non-removable) Processor: Qualcomm SnapDragon 821 Cameras (main): Dual 13MP cameras (Wide angle: F2.4, 125 degree) (standard angle: F1.8, 71 degree) , supporting HDR10, SnapDragon processor assisted zoom, IOS 2.0 Camera (front): 5MP wide angle (F2.2, 100 degree) RAM: 4GB Storage: 32GB UFS2.0 internal storage, plus MicroSD slot Conectivity: 3G, 4G, LTE (600Mb download), WiFi, NFC, Bluetooth, USB 3.1 Android version: Nougat 7.0. Google Assistant included, which works even with the screen off (exclusive to the G6) Colour: 3 distinct colours, "signifying nature" - Ice Platinum; Mystic White & Astro Black Fingerprint sensor / power button: Rear, under the camera (as has been the style since the G2) Sound: DolbyVision Support built in, quad-DAC system as found in the V20 Games: $200 of Google Play in-game credit for 6 games in the "G6 Game Collection" Interface: LG UX6 - designed specifically to make use f the 18:9 screen, with two square (9:9) windows side by side, for example in the camera app as well as more obvious things like calendar Cooling: Heat pipes nestled inside the phone help to cool the processor Waterproofing: IP68 dust and waterproofing Charging: Qualcomm QuickCharge 3.0
 










Stuclark

After a week without any builds, Microsoft on Friday released Windows 10 Insider Build 15042. This build focusses more on stability than have previous builds, and indicates we're getting close(r) to the public release of the "Creators Update".

While the changes in this build might not at first seem too exciting, there's a few things which can be gleaned from the release notes. Firstly, a few of the "annoyance" bugs which have been hanging around for the last few builds (such as Windows incorrectly saying "some settings are managed by your organisation" have been fixed, and clearly much work has gone into "polishing" this build.
Also notable by it's absense is the build identifier string on the desktop. This comes and goes on different builds in the Insider Program, but usually it only "goes" when Microsoft start testing builds as release candidates for a major public release. In other words, the fact that it has disappeared after having been on every build since the RS_1 release, means MS must be getting close to the RS_2 release.
Other changes this week include the usual raft of Edge updates, plus a few fixes for Game Bar. I guess those only really matter to you if you make use of those programs or featuers.
Stuclark

Microsoft have admitted that there won't be any more Windows 10 Insider builds this week, or presumably over the weekend.

It's not unheard of for Microsoft to miss a build release date; it happened lots of times before the Anniversary update, but in the RS_2 (Redstone 2) cycle this is the first time we've not had at least one new build each week. Here's Donna Sakar's tweet confirming the lack of builds.
 
 
Stuclark

After the repeated failure of my QNAP NAS, I decided the time had come to start experimenting on how to build my own. In this, the first part of a series of articles, I'll go through hardware choice and show you how to get Windows installed and running FROM an SD card (something Microsoft say you can't do).

I already have an HP Microserver G8 (GT-1610) running FreeNAS which works very well, but I wondered if there's anything in the Microsoft camp which could provide similar functionality.  With this in mind, I started off by buying another Microserver G8 as, even in their base specification, they provide a Celeron 2.3GHz processor, 4GB RAM, 4x 3.5in (non-hot swap) drive bays, internal USB and MicroSD card support, dual Ethernet plus iLO and a PCIe expansion port. This spec is good enough to run FreeNAS out the box, meaning I'd always have something to fall back on if my endeavours ultimately failed.
The first decision was to get some more RAM - the G8 only has 2 DIMM slots so RAM needs (or at least should) be in matched pairs. For now mine is running 1x 8GB DIMM and 1x 4GB DIMM, giving an useable 12GB for the development work (the box will be upgraded to 16GB in the near future). Should the box end up running either Windows 10 or Server 2016 then i'll need a better processor than the Celeron it comes with, especially as it will get tasked with running my Emby media library as well, so a Xeon low power processor is on the cards, but only once the initial testing has been done.
I should probably add that all this is going to be getting benchmarked against my existing FreeNAS setup, also running on a Microserver G8, and my existing Emby server, which is a MacMini with i7 and 32GB RAM, oh, and that's running Windows 10 of course.
The first strugle with this plan is to get Windows installed on the MicroSD card that's sitting inside the G8. The reason for booting off a MicroSD card is twofold - 1) I've got a DVD-RW drive in the optical bay, so can't populate that space with internal SSDs; and 2) I already boot FreeNAS from the SDCard in my other G8, so if Windows is to win out in the new solution it has to do the same. It also keeps the OS and the disks which will make up the actual NAS element seperate, which is no bad thing. (infact, Windows does not allow a boot disk to be part of a Storage Spaces pool or cluster, so this is necessary to avoid loosing capacity)
Microsoft *STILL* don't support booting Windows from any form of removable drive, unless you're opting to use Windows-to-go, which itself only works on USB pen-type drives (sticks) and not on SD cards. However, Windows runs absolutely fine from either SD or USB, so long as your machine's BIOS is able to address them as a boot device. To get round this, it is necessary to get a little bit inventive with Microsoft's imaging tools; which, when used in the right order, make this a simple, if time consuming job.
First off (at least on the G8), make sure the SD card you'll be using as your ultimate boot device has not volumes on it; most cards ship pre-formatted these days, so use the Windows disk manager tool to delete any partitions showing on the card. Next, you'll need to have a bootable installation media for whatever version of Windows you choose (I picked Server 2016 over Windows 10, but both work in the same way) - I used Rufus to burn the Windows ISO onto an 8GB USB stick. Next, put the SD card and USB stick in the G8 and boot the machine. (you'll need to check that booting from USB is enabled in the BIOS if the machine is not set at its facrory defaults)
Once the Windows installer boots, it will present you with a language, location & keyboard choice screen - leave all these as default as we're not going to be using the wizard to install Windows anyway. On the next screen, which is the "Install Now" screen, instead click on the text link marked "Repair your Computer" then click on the Troubleshooting and Command Prompt buttons on subsequent screens to get the installer to drop you into the Windows command line. It's here we'll actually do the work which will allow us to install Windows on the SD card.
Next, we need to make a partition on the SD card using the command line DISKPART tool. To do this enter the following commands: (where the X below is the numerical value for the SD card (disk) in your system. Usually it will be 1 as Windows has booted from the USB disk 0)
diskpart list disk select disk X clean create partition primary format quick fs=ntfs label="SD-Card" active At this point we need to assign a drive letter to the SD card, but becuase we're going to subsequently boot from this drive, it *has* to be drive letter C:. Unfortunately Windows has "stolen" C: for the USB drive we're currently booted from. To resolve this minor issue run these commands. (this is still within DISKPART, and you'll need to replace the values for X and Y with those shown in the list volume command. Usually volume 0 will be the volume from which Windows has booted, and so volume 1 will be the one on your SD card. This would mean X = 0 and Y = 1)
list volume select volume X assign letter=D select volume Y assign letter=C exit Next, we need to apply the Windows install image to our newly created C: drive (SD card). Use the command below to do so. There's two versions of this code listed, depending on whether you're using a Server 2016 or Windows 10 boot image.
WARNING: The dism command takes a looong time (30 - 40 minutes) to run.
Windows Server 2016 version:
dism /Apply-Image /ImageFile:D:\sources\install.wim /index:2 /ApplyDir:C:\ Windows 10 version:
dism /Apply-Image /ImageFile:D:\sources\install.wim /index:1 /ApplyDir:C:\ Finally, once the DISM command has eventually finished (and you've drunk a lot of tea), the last step is to make the SD card bootable. Run these commands to do so, and once complete, feel free to reboot the computer. (remember to remove the USB stick when doing so)
bootsect /nt60 C: /force /mbr bcdboot C:\Windows When the computer reboots, if you've got all the above correct, the machine will boot from the SD card and "Iinstall" Windows on to itself. In reality it is just going through the first run setup and "discovering devices" stages that we're used to seeing when installing Windows, but it will seem to take an age this time. Stick with it, and after a reboot or two, the system will eventually boot up with a fully installed copy of Windows, be it Windows 10 or Server 2016.
Part 2 will cover the fun had in getting Storage Spaces to actually work on our newly installed machine... stay tuned!
Stuclark

Breaking the once-weekly release cycle for the first time this year, Microsoft yesterday released into the wild Insider Preview build 15031.

This build's headline new feature is the Compact Overlay Window - think of it as a picture-in-picture clone from your TV and you'll not be far wrong. It essentially allows app developers to write code that allows their apps to peak through another app's windows and appear on top (um, like that's been possible for years) - ah yes, but this new method allows that "peaked" window to take on a new compact design, only showing the contents (such as a video or TV stream) rather than all the fluff around the content.
As always, the full release notes are available here for all to see, and they include a screenshot of what Compact Overlay Windows will allow (once every app under the sun has been re-coded to use the feature).
As for user experience changes, I can't say I've noticed any yet, but if they crop up I'll add them to this post.
Stuclark

Yesterday Microsoft released the first "bug bash build" of the upcoming Windows 10 Creator's Update (build 15025) to Windows Insiders.

This build is the first in a series of builds which will be released, probably with increasing speed, in the build up to the next public release of Windows 10 - the Creator's Update (or Redstone 2 (rs2) release, as it's known internally).
The release notes are available here and show that this build is not about adding new features, but is the first take on polishing the features already in the rs2 builds.
An interesting issue with this build though is that it currently won't install on an x86 based computer; only the x64 version works. Microsoft's answer to this is to simply not release an x86 build at this stage, instead promising an x86 ISO later in the week.
 
[more to follow]
Stuclark

Today's Windows Insider build, 15019, promises to be quite a big one. As always, what are the new features we should care about this week?

The biggest change this week is the inclusion of "Gaming Mode" for those people who are Windows and XBox Insiders. Microsoft have been blogging about this during the week, making it somewhat confusing to know what is and isn't in the Windows Insider build (and also mudying when the build was going to be released) for us "mere mortals"; but now it's here this is what we're being told from the build's release blog entry.
First off, it seems that Gaming Mode has been made available to everyone, whether or not a member of the XBox Insider programme. I don't have many any games installed on my test devices, so can't comment on the functionality at the moment, but there's lots of options (mostly centred around sharing and recording game experiences) to try out.
Also new is the renamed "Holographic Options", which is now called "Mixed Reality". Again, there's quite a few options within here, but no as-yet obvious method of adding a mixed reality device, although there is interestingly an option to completely uninstall the Mixed Reality options. (although, Microsoft have again said we shouldn't be seeing this menu option yet)

Other new features and changes of note include:
Wi-Fi Captive Portal: The Wi-Fi connectivity experience in OOBE has been updated to support “captive portal” Wi-Fi networks.  When connecting to such a Wi-Fi hotspot, OOBE will navigate to a lightweight browser experience allowing you to complete the connection and reach the internet.  We’ve also included some updates allowing you to configure some basic properties for the Wi-Fi network during OOBE.
This might not seem like much; but if you've ever tried to work out the continual circle of not being able to activate a device because you can't sign in to a wireless network to get an internet connection to activate the device because the device isn't activated and so you can't open a web browser to complete the wireless network sign in because the device isn't actvated and so you can't open a web browser because you've not activated the device because you're not signed in to a wireless network because you can't open a web browser to sign in to the network because you can't open a web browser because the device isn't activated ... (you get the idea), then this really is a huge, huge deal!
Improved high-DPI support for ITPros: With Build 15002, we shared our new option to override a GDI-based app’s high DPI scaling with our own System (Enhanced) scaling. With Build 15019, we’re happy to let you know that this System (Enhanced) application compatibility setting will now also available to be enabled or disabled via the Windows ADK for IT Professionals, so you can make adjustments to a broad audience of PCs.
I mentioned this before in the 15007 article, sufice to say that while I haven't noticed any apreciable differences in 15019 (System (Enhanced) scaling still breaks Photoshop CS6), any advances in these settings are a good thing in my book.
Stuclark

This week sees the release of build 15014 - what should we care about in this build?

The most notable change is ironicly not available to everyone; only those with "select hardware". It is a GUI element which in future builds will allow you to tune your laptop / tablet's battery vs. performance settings in a slidebar, much as you can currently do for screen brightness.

Other than that, and the usual raft of changes / new features for Edge [seriously, does anyone even use Edge], there's not an awful lot to report this week. The full release blog post is available here.