Category Archives: Recent Activity

Busy Times for Windows 10 But…

Attentive readers will notice I haven’t posted much this week. This is deliberate. I’m taking most of the week off from blogging here at EdTittel.com. Consider this post fair warning: these are busy times for Windows 10 but yours truly is pausing for a few days to recharge his batteries and spend some time with the family.

Busy Times for Windows 10 But I’m Taking a Short Break

Over the past few weeks, I’ve worked extra hours more than normal. The Wiley Dummies custom publications group and ActualTech Media’s content machine have thrown a bunch of hurry-up projects my way. Frankly, I’ve been struggling to keep up with paying gigs. Not a bad problem to have in this time of pandemic and pandemonium. I guess I should be grateful! Good thing our US Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow will give me just the opportunity I need to voice my appreciation to our hunkered-down family crew here at Chez Tittel!

That’s not to say there hasn’t been plenty going on with Windows 10. Just this morning, I’ve seen juicy rumors about upcoming 10X features — including something fascinating called “Cloud PC” — at WinAero and WindowsLatest. We’ve also seen new releases into the Dev Channel (20262.1010, mostly just a servicing item) and Beta/Insider Preview Channels (19042.662, with oodles and scads of fixes and tweaks). Of any of the sites I follow WindowsLatest seems to be the most on top of bugs and gotchas in 20H2, and has been reporting them in some volume lately.

As for me, I’ll be back on the beat on Friday, November 27. Lord knows, I plan to have a surfeit of calories to work off from epic consumption of turkey, all the trimmings, and pumpkin pie. In the meantime for those readers who will also be on holiday tomorrow, I hope you enjoy yours as much as I plan to enjoy mine. For the rest of you working schmoes, I hope you’ll take pleasure as and when it comes your way. Best wishes to one and all, regardless.

–Ed–

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Pluton Enacts Prego CPU Philosophy

Here’s a blast from the past. In 1984, jarred spaghetti sauce maker Prego immortalized the phrase “It’s in there!” for its products. (Note: the link is to a YouTube copy of that very same TV advertisement.) But the tag line lives on, and comes with occasionally interesting applications. It helped me understand that Microsoft’s introduction of Pluton enacts Prego CPU philosophy.

What in Heck Does “Pluton Enacts Prego CPU Philosophy” Mean?

It means that functions currently associated with a separate chip called the “Trusted Platform Module” (aka TPM) move onboard the CPU die. That’s why I’m stuck on the Prego tag line “It’s in there!” It succinctly sums up what Pluton is and does.

On November 17, MS Director of Enterprise and OS Security David Weston wrote a post to the Microsoft Security blog. It explains Pluton nicely. The post is entitled “Meet the Microsoft Pluton processor — the security chip designed for the future of Windows PCs.” Therein, Weston reveals the notion of a ‘Pluton Processor’ as something of a misnomer — but a useful one.  Here’s what he says to help explain Pluton, already “pioneered in Xbox and Azure Sphere.” (Note: I added the emphasis in blue bolded text):

Our vision for the future of Windows PCs is security at the very core, built into the CPU, where hardware and software are tightly integrated in a unified approach designed to eliminate entire vectors of attack. This revolutionary security processor design will make it significantly more difficult for attackers to hide beneath the operating system, and improve our ability to guard against physical attacks, prevent the theft of credential and encryption keys, and provide the ability to recover from software bugs.

Thus, Pluton is not really a processor per se. It’s a set of circuitry included on the die and tightly integrated into the CPU itself. This prevents attacks on communications lanes between a physically disjoint TPM chip and the CPU.

There’s a Scare Factor There

Apparently, recent research shows that the bus interface between TPM and CPU “provides the ability to share information between the main CPU and security processor…” At the same time, “…it also provides an opportunity for attackers to steal or modify information in-transit using a physical attack.” (Note: the preceding link takes readers to a Pulse Security research paper. It explains how sniffing attacks against a TPM permit BitLocker key extraction, used to read an encrypted drive.)

The Pulse Security paper describes ways to boost security to foil such an attack. But MS apparently took the work very seriously. In fact, it introduced Pluton to make communications lanes between CPU and a security processor  impervious to attack.

Can Pluton Boost Windows PC Security?

Sure it can. It will indeed make sniffing attacks like those Pulse Security describes nearly impossible. And it should usher in a new, more secure approach to computing. This applies directly to handling “credentials, user identities, encryption keys, and personal data” (Weston’s words).

The real key, however, is that MS has all of Windows CPU makers on board with Pluton. That means AMD, Intel and Qualcomm . It will be interesting to see how long it takes for them to incorporate Pluton into their CPUs. We’ll wait awhile before the first Pluton-bearing chips hit the marketplace. I’m betting that Pluton will show up for both Windows Server and client OS chips as well (that’s not explicit in Weston’s post).

My best guess is that we’re probably two generations out. For all three makers of CPUs mentioned, it’s likely that their next-gen designs are too far along to incorporate the redesign and layout rework that incorporating a security facility on the die will require. That’s why it’s more likely two (or more) generations out, IMO. Stay tuned, and I’ll keep you posted.

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20H2 RDP Mystery Remains Unsolved Until …

I’ve been raving about the SFF Dell Optiplex 7080 Micro a fair amount lately. I remain convinced it’s a good purchase and will be a great machine for long-term use. That said, there is the proverbial “one thing” that lets me know for all its glories, it’s still a Windows PC. I’ve been dealing with an RDP mystery — as shown in the lead-in graphic for this story — that actually affects RDP traffic in both directions. Its 20H2 RDP mystery remains unsolved, as all my troubleshooting efforts so far have failed.

Read on, though: I did eventually figure this out, and get RDP working. It turned out to be a basic and obvious oversight on my part. Sigh.

What Do You Mean: 20H2 RDP Mystery Remains Unsolved?

Despite chasing down a large laundry list of things to check and set, I get password related errors when trying to RDP into or out of the 7080 micro. The lead-in graphic shows what happens when I try to RDP into the box. When I try to RDP out of the box, I get an out-and-out invalid password (“may be expired” error) instead.

Obviously, something funky is up with authentication on this Win10 install, because when I try to access the device through the File Explorer network connection, I get a request for network credentials, too. Again, presenting valid credentials doesn’t work. I see a “not accessible” error message instead:

Here’s the list of what I’ve tried so far:

  1. Double-checked Remote Access is enabled.
  2. Relaxed all relevant settings in Advanced Network Sharing for Private, Guest/Public, and All Networks categories.
  3. Enabled all Remote Access checkboxes in Defender Firewall settings.
  4. Ran the Network Troubleshooter
  5. Ran the Microsoft Support and Recovery Assistant

It’s the Account, Stupid!

After noodling about with this for a couple of hours I realized that I had defined a local acount as admin. Worse yet, I had not promoted my Microsoft Account on the Optiplex 7080 Micro from ordinary user to administrator.

Because I was using my MS account credentials to attempt network login and access, I didn’t have permission to do the password lookups in LSASS needed to make the process work. Once I promoted that account to admin level, everything started working.

Sheesh! Talk about an obvious mistake. As with many problems with Windows 10, this one turns out to be entirely self-inflicted. At least, I know who to blame!

 

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Dell 7080 Micro Performance Amazes

Well, shut the front door, please! Just for grins I started running some of my desultory benchmarks and speed tests on the Dell Micro 7080 I just bought to replace the old mini-ITX box. When you see the numbers and screencaps I’ll be sharing in the following ‘graphs, you’ll understand why my title for this item is “Dell 7080 Micro Performance Amazes.”

Why say: Dell 7080 Micro Performance Amazes?

The numbers do not lie. They’re all pretty incredible, too. Here are some start/boot numbers, with the 7080 left and the (much more expensive) P-5550 numbers right:

Table 1: Shutdown, cold Boot, Restart Times
Description Action 7080 Micro P-5550
 Desktop to machine off  Shutdown  7.92 sec  13.02 sec
 Turned off to desktop  Cold boot  10.46 sec  16.01 sec
Desktop to desktop   Restart 21.26 sec  30.01 sec 

Across the board, then, the $1,200 7080 Micro is significantly faster than the $4K-plus Precision 5550 Workstation. Of course, this takes no account of the more expensive unit’s Radeon Pro GPU. The 7080 Micro simply relies on its built-in Intel UHD Graphics 630 circuitry to render bits on its Dell 2717D UltraSharp monitor, and does so reasonably well. But this comparison is unfair to the P-5550 because UHD 630 is not like a dedicated GPU, especially a professional-grade one like the P-5550’s Nvidia Quadro T2000.

But Wait, There’s More…

The CrystalDiskMark results are also mostly faster than those from the P-5550. The lead-in screenshot shows the 7080 Micro’s CDM results. Compare those for the P-5550 and you get the following, where I’ve bolded the best times in each category so you can see that the 7080 Micro beats the P-5550 in 6 out of 8 categories.

Table 2: CrystalDiskMark Comparisons
CDM Label Action 7080 Micro P-5550
 SEQ1M/Q8T1 Read 3364.8 3373.64
   Write  2790.49 2334.67 
 SEQ1M/Q1T1  Read  2147.04 1716.39 
   Write 2800.90   2056.88
 RND4K/Q32T16  Read  1972.38  630.64
   Write  2152.12  358.26
 RND4K/Q1T1  Read  60.54  41.21
   Write  108.21  119.34

I’m particularly impressed with the 4K Random write numbers with queue depth of 32 and thread count of 16, at which the 7080 Micro kills the P-5550 (read is more than 3 times faster; write is more than 6 times faster). With a queue depth and thread counts of 1 each, it’s a split decision: the 7080 Micro is almost 50% faster at reads, and the P-5550 is about 10% faster at writes. Even when the P-5550 comes out ahead it’s by less than 10% in both cases. To me, that puts the 7080 Micro way, way ahead of the P-5550, especially considering the price differential.

Am I happy with my 7080 Micro purchase? So far, heck yes! More to come as I have more time to do benchmarking. This week is jammed up, but maybe Thanksgiving week I’ll find more time. Stay tuned.

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Astonishing Dell Precision 5550 Workstation Encounter

OK, then. Just yesterday, I noticed that Windows Update offered the Dell review unit I’ve got the 20H2 upgrade/enablement package. What happened next surely qualifies as an astonishing Dell Precision 5550 Workstation encounter. Bottom line: it took less than TWO MINUTES to download, install and process the enablement package for 20H2. This is easily 3 times faster than on any other machine on which I’ve run that package, including my brand-new Dell 7080 Micro PC. I knew this machine was fast and capable, but this takes the cake. Really.

It’s odd to see 16 hyperthreads/8 cores show up on a laptop. Apparently, they’re all ready (if not actually thirsty) for work.
[Image is shown 2x actual size for readability. CPU Meter Gadget.]

After Astonishing Dell Precision 5550 Workstation Encounter, Then What?

Good question! I need to run a bunch of benchmarks on this system, then gather up those results for publication here. But in the meantime, this system has taken everything I’ve thrown at it, and simply KILLED it. As you can see from the preceding CPU Meter gadget screencap, this machine comes equipped with an i7-10875H CPU and 32 GB of RAM. So far, I haven’t been able to slow it down much, if at all, by throwing work at it. Desultory benchmarks, like CrystalDiskMark, are frankly breathtaking (this is far and away the fastest system in my house right now). Even CrystalDiskMark turns in some pretty impressive read/write numbers:

By comparison, CrystalDiskMark results from my production desktop with its i7-6700, Asrock Z170 Extreme7+, and a Samsung 950 Pro 512GB SSD, are mostly lower. The top line reads: 1954 (read) and 1459 (write): 58% and 62%, respectively. The second line reads 1550 (read) and 855 (write): 90% and 41%, respectively. This changes in line 3 which reads: 1230 (read) and 391 (write): 194% and 109%, respectively. The two bottom lines are nearly identical, with a 42.49 (read) and 98.99 (write): 103% and 83%, respectively. There’s no question that newer-generation M.2 PCIe technology is faster on bulk reads and writes. And as you’d expect, random reads and writes being shorter and scattered about, those metrics don’t vary overmuch.

Performance Theory, As Usual, Beats Practice

According to its specifications, The P-5550’s SSD is an SK Hynix PC601A 1TB SSD. It’s a PCIe Gen3 x4 NVMe device with theoretical maximum of 958 MB/sec per lane, or 3,832 MB/sec for all four lanes. The actual performance is always slower, as the top-line numbers from the preceding CrystalDiskMark output show. But it’s not half-bad and is, in fact, the best-performing NVMe SSD currently at my disposal. At over US$4K for this laptop as configured, it’s pretty pricey: but you do get a lot for the money.

The Cold Boot/Restart Numbers

Here’s a set of average times, taken across three sets of measurements for typical PC on/off maneuvers:

+ From desktop to machine turned off (shutdown): 13.02 sec
+ From turned off to desktop prompt (cold boot): 16.01 sec
+ From desktop to desktop (restart): 30.01 sec

Across the rest of my stable of PCs, these times are at least 50% faster than anything else I’ve got. I still have don’t these measurements for the Dell 7080 Micro PCs, though. Given that they’re also brand-new and have similar CPUs and NVMe drives, i’m expecting numbers more like than unlike the preceding ones. Stay tuned! I’ll report that soon in another post.

For the moment, suffice it to say that the “Workstation” in the Precision 5550 product name is not just wishful thinking. This system delivers speed, graphics and compute power, in a beautiful, compact package.Facebooklinkedin
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KB4589212 Offers Intel Microcode Updates

On November 10, Microsoft rolled out KB4589212. That support note is entitled “Intel microcode updates for Windows 10, version 2004 and 20H2, and Windows Server, version 2004 and 20H2.” It is currently available only from the Microsoft Update Catalog, where a search on KB4589212 provides links to related downloads. As you can see from the following screencap, KB4589212 offers Intel microcode updates as downloads that apply to Windows Server and Windows 10 for X64 and X86 systems, versions 20H2 and 2004.

KB4589212 Offers Intel Microcode Updates.catalog

If you read the note, you’ll see this update applies to all Intel processors back to Ivy Bridge (circa 2011-2012).
[Click image for full-sized view.]

If KB4589212 Offers Intel Microcode Updates, What’s Covered?

In addition to covering most Intel processors still in use back to Ivy Bridge (which is as old as anything I’ve got, from the 2012 mini-ITX box), this microcode update covers 7 different CVE items (3 from 2018, 2 from 2019, 3 from 2020). Here’s that table of items, plucked verbatim from the Microsoft Support note:

CVE number CVE title
CVE-2018-12126 Microarchitectural Store Buffer Data Sampling (MSBDS)
CVE-2018-12127 Microarchitectural Load Port Data Sampling (MLPDS)
CVE-2018-12130 Microarchitectural Fill Buffer Data Sampling (MFBDS)
CVE-2019-11091 Microarchitectural Data Sampling Uncacheable Memory (MDSUM)
CVE-2020-8695 Intel® Running Average Power Limit (RAPL) Interface
CVE-2020-8696 Vector Register Sampling active
CVE-2020-8698 Fast store forward predictor

I’ve run this on half-a-dozen different 20H2 PCs of all vintages from 2012 to 2019 with no ill effects. This one’s definitely worth downloading and installing sooner, rather than later. That said, note that microcode vulernabilities do require physical access to PCs to foist. Once foisted, though. they’re mostly indetectible and difficult to remove, too. Take no chances: schedule this update for your next maintenance window. You can access the CVE links in the preceding table to learn more about the vulnerabilities involved. In fact, the most recent CVE is fascinating: it decrypts data based on detailed voltage consumption over time simply by carefully monitoring and plotting CPU power usage. Zounds!Facebooklinkedin
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VPN Works Around Weird Credit Union Access Issue

Suddenly, the usual login prompt from my Credit Union, where my wife and I both bank, has become inaccessible on my local network. No PC, no browser, no nothing will open the login URL. Errors proliferate like mushrooms after the rain instead. What gives?

Credit Union Access Issue. VPN login works, other access doesn't.
VPN Works Around Weird Credit Union Access Issue. VPN login works, other access doesn’t.

I’ve been working in and around IP networks professionally since 1988, and with IP networks since 1979. I’ve seen many weird things, and now have another to add to that list. From my LAN right now, no PCs can login to our credit union on the web. Nobody, that is, unless I go through a VPN link. Otherwise, when we (my wife and I bank together) try to access the login page, a raft of error messages presents. Only the VPN works around weird credit union access issue, which throws up beacoup HTTP error codes. (Explanatory text verbatim from Wikipedia.):

400  Bad Request: The server cannot or will not process the request due to an apparent client error (e.g., malformed request syntax, size too large, invalid request message framing, or deceptive request routing).
401  Unauthorized: Similar to 403 Forbidden, but specifically for use when authentication is required and has failed or has not yet been provided.
403  Forbidden: The request contained valid data and was understood by the server, but the server is refusing action.
404  Not Found: The requested resource could not be found [(aka “File not found/Page not found”)].
501 Not Implemented: Server either does not recognize the request method, or it lacks the ability to fulfill the request.
502 Bad Gateway: The server was acting as a gateway or proxy and received an invalid response from the upstream server

How VPN Works Around Weird Credit Union Access Issue

I can only assume that the address resolution for the specific login URL is somehow malformed or invalid. Changing DNS server assignments at the Windows 10 clients (in the TCP v4 Interface properties) does not help. When I switch to VPN, though, that bypasses the local DNS infrastructure. That connection uses the VPN provider’s DNS infrastructure instead. Then, we have no problems accessing the bank URL.

Now, here’s where things get interesting. I can’t remember the login credentials for the Spectrum device that acts as a Wi-Fi AP and router at the network boundary. Thus, I can’t check the DNS situation on that device, which is where DHCP tells all my Windows 10 machines to get their DNS information from. I’ve got a call into Spectrum to see if they can help me break into my router without having to do a factory reset. In the meantime, we’re using the VPN to access the credit union stuff, and plain-vanilla networking for everything else. It’s strange and unfathomable, but at least there’s a workaround.

For Want of a Nail…

Last night, I drove to the nearby Spectrum outlet and swapped my Technicolor cable modem/VoIP device for an identical replacement unit. The theory was that something about this device was behind the issue. It was sheer hell trying to get back online because Spectrum’s activation drill requires providing account, password, and other identity characteristics. I keep all that stuff in Norton Password Vault, and I couldn’t get access to that info through my iPhone nor did I have another path onto the Internet to grab the necessary data. I eventually had to spend another 45 minutes on the phone with tech support as they FINALLY activated our Internet service, TV, and VoIP phone. Reminded me too much of Catch-22 “How can you see you’ve got flies in your eyes when you’ve got flies in your eyes?” Last night, I couldn’t see much of anything for far too long!

Because our son attends school online, doing without Internet is impossible. Thus, I ordered a 5G hotspot from Verizon last night, so we have a medium performing fallback. They tell me the hotspot I ordered delivers about 200 Mbps downstream and 25 Mbps upstream in our neighborhood. I’ll be finding out — and making sure the fallback works — when it shows up via USPS early next week. Sigh.

Router Reset Solves Resolution Hiccup [Added 1 Day Later]

With a little more time to think about what could cause my problem, I formulated a hypothesis about the cause — and a likely fix — for my troubles. All nodes on my LAN had an issue with that one specific URL. But neither the site operator nor my ISP could replicate that problem. Thus it had to be on the boundary between my LAN and the ISP’s aggregation network. That means only one possible culprit: the Spectrum router. It sits at my network boundary. It also provides DHCP to the nodes on the LAN and acts as the DNS server for all internal nodes.

“Aha” I thought, “I bet resetting the router will fix this issue because it reloads — or repopulates, rather — the DNS cache.” I was right. After powering off the router, letting it sit for a minute or two, then powering it back on, our name resolution issue was gone. Glad to have it fixed because it was deucedly inconvenient without credit union account access. Ultimately, it was the “VPN trick” that led me to the solution. Sigh again.Facebooklinkedin
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Intel Laptop Graphics Driver Upgrade Pros Cons

Here’s an interesting topic for Windows 10 power users and admins. As stated in this post’s title, there are plusses and minuses regarding Intel’s new — and frequently updated — DCH drivers. Intel graphics drivers show up on laptops with Intel CPUs. That’s simply because a graphics component is built into most such processors, particularly mobile ones. Indeed, some laptops have additional external (usually PCIe-attached) GPUs. But any of those with Intel CPUs can switch back and forth between the on-chip GPU and that external GPU . Thus it’s important to ponder Intel laptop graphics driver upgrade pros cons — particularly when choosing and upgrading drivers.

Understanding DCH Helps Unravel Intel Laptop Graphics Driver Upgrade Pros Cons

DCH stands for Declarative Componentized Hardware supported apps. This is the new, forward-looking architecture for Windows Drivers. It’s explained in a Microsoft Docs article entitled DCH Design Principles and Best Practices. There we find an explanation for each of the acronym’s letters (I quote this material verbatim):

  • Declarative (D): Install the driver by using only declarative INF directives. Don’t include co-installers or RegisterDll functions.
  • Componentized (C): Edition-specific, OEM-specific, and optional customizations to the driver are separate from the base driver package. As a result, the base driver, which provides only core device functionality, can be targeted, flighted, and serviced independently from the customizations.
  • Hardware Support App (H): Any user interface (UI) component associated with a Windows Driver must be packaged as a Hardware Support App (HSA) or preinstalled on the OEM device. An HSA is an optional device-specific app that’s paired with a driver. The application can be a Universal Windows Platform (UWP) or Desktop Bridge app. You must distribute and update an HSA through the Microsoft Store. For details, see Hardware Support App (HSA): Steps for driver developers and Hardware Support App (HSA): Steps for app developers.

Componentization is Good!

To me, the componentized piece makes the DCH driver both interesting and relevant to laptop owners. Basically, it means base driver packages from the device maker are OK — Intel, in this case. That’s because customizations from an OEM or laptop maker can slipstream onto the base level driver. And it won’t affect the behavior or reliability of the graphics circuitry. Especially for those who use their laptops for gaming (where drivers matter quite a lot, and change pretty frequently) this is good news.

Case in Point: Intel’s November 6 igfx_win10_100.8935.exe Driver Release

Late last week, Intel dropped the afore-mentioned new DCH drivers release. The release package is available at Intel Graphics – Windows 10 DCH Drivers web page. This new release covers Windows 10 versions 1709 through 20H2. It also comes in both ZIP (direct access to driver files and components) and .exe (self-installing formats). Those who use the Intel Driver & Support Assistant are already familiar with the .exe versions of the company’s drivers, because those are this tool’s default versions. If you look at the Release Notes for this …8935 version you’ll see that all of the key issues fixed call out computer games (Crysis Remastered, PGA Tour 2K21, Doom Eternal, World of Warcraft, Shadowlands, Red Redemption 2, and so forth). Hence, my earlier point about gamers as primary beneficiaries for such updates.

Other admins or owners with Intel GPU circuitry on their laptops can relax about updating laptop drivers on major-branch laptops (Dell, Lenovo, HP, and so forth). Why? Because the DCH architecture means that Intel’s base level driver is more or less guaranteed to “play nice” with any such customizations as the OEM/mfgr may add for its own laptops. In the past, I’d relied on the various vendor update services (e.g. Dell SupportAssist, Lenovo Vantage, HP Support Assistant, and so forth) as the sole source for laptop graphics drivers.

I’ve been experimenting with using Intel DHC drivers plus the occasional OEM/mfgr graphic driver on four Lenovo PCs for the past six months now. My experience has been almost completely positive, with only one install issue on a Lenovo X380 Yoga last month, easily remedied by a manual install after downloading the driver file from the Lenovo Support pages.

DCH Graphics Drivers: Worth Trying Out

Looks like DCH Intel graphics drivers are pretty safe, and ready for day-to-day laptop use. Don’t take my word for it, though. Conduct your own experiments on test machines (as I did) and see how things go. I’m reasonably certain of positive results. If not, I hope you’ll tell me all about it (comment on this post). Cheers!Facebooklinkedin
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{WED} Check Out MS News Bar Beta

MS has released a new news app through the Microsoft Store. Those interested in a new look for the MS newsfeed will want to check out MS News Bar Beta release. It strikes me as an improvement over the default MSN news pages that come up in Edge. There’s also considerably more control over how (and where) this News Bar appears on your desktop, too. And it can be dismissed instantly with a click on its minimization control when you want to get it out of the way. My opinion: the News Bar is worth downloading and playing around with. It’s a useful tool during this current news-hungry pandemic WFH situation we now live in. Here’s a look at its Appearance pane, from the app’s Settings controls:

Check Out MS News Bar Beta.appearance

The News Bar’s Settings are simple and straightforward. Took me a couple of minutes to work through them, and decide what I liked.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

Download from Store to Check Out MS News Bar Beta

The app is readily available as a free download from the Microsoft Store. Or visit the Store, and search on “News Bar Beta.” It will pop right up. The download is just over 75 MB in size, and takes only a short while to download and install. As the preceding screen cap illlustrates, its controls are both simple and intuitive. After messing about a little while, I chose to position the News Bar at the top of my Primary (#1) Display in Image format. Here’s what a snippet of that looks like, from the left-hand-side of the screen. (It’s about 1/3 of the total display width, but I didn’t want to shrink the thumbnails down TOO much for reproduction here):

Check Out MS News Bar Beta.images

You can switch between text and images views for newsfeed stories to see a representative photo (image) or a brief description (text).
[Click image for full-sized view.]

[Note:] Thanks to Nayan at WinCentral for bringing this new (beta) app to my attention in his post “Microsoft bringing ‘Windows News Bar’ to Windows 10 as the on-desktop news source.”Facebooklinkedin
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{WED} Winkey R Directly Accesses Settings Pages Using URIs

Here’s another item under the “I didn’t know you could that in Windows 10” heading. This time, it’s a series of shortcut commands to access the vast majority of panes within the Settings UWP app. That’s right: if you open the Run Box, Winkey R directly accesses settings pages using URIs. Thus, for example simply typing ms-settings: in the run box opens the home page for the settings app. Things in this realm are a little tricky though, because not all of these strings are predictable. Thus, for example ms-settings:network launches the Network & Internet home pane. But neither ms-settings:system nor ms-settings:devices gets you past the home page for Windows Settings. This is more of a recipe or incantation, then, than it is a predictable use of obvious strings. What’s a power user or admin to do?

Winkey R Directly Accesses Settings Pages Using URIs.nodevices

Looks like a reasonable guess, but doesn’t work as you expect (you get the Home page shown at the top of this story, instead of the Devices pane).

Details for Winkey R Directly Accesses Settings Pages Using URIs

There’s a “magic reference” available in Microsoft DOCs that provides the necessary collection of usable strings. They’re organized by category, alphabetized (Accounts, Apps, Cortana, Devices, and so forth). Find them in a subsection of a document entitled Launching, resuming and background tasks named Launch the Windows Settings app. I forbear from reproducing the full list of entries you can find in this document, because there are over 200 strings that start with ms-settings: that you can use in the Run box to produce any of a plethora of Settings panes and pages.

Instead, I suggest you bookmark the link to the Launch the Windows Settings app page, and spend some time getting to know its contents. There’s a lot of useful stuff in there, so your investment of time and in play/experimentation should be amply rewarded. Good stuff, in fact!

[Note:] Once again, thanks to Sergey Tkachenko for posting an item on this topic at WinAero.com. It’s entitled MS-Settings Page List of URI Shortcuts in Windows 10. Most of it recites the strings that work in the Winkey-R/Run box environment. As you chew it over, I hope you’ll see why I pointed to the master reference at MS DOCs instead. Sigh.Facebooklinkedin
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