Friday, June 29, 2012

Windows 8: The Hidden Menu

Hidden menu in Windows 8
One of the biggest controversies with Windows 8 (ok, it's the second biggest next to making the Metro UI default) is Microsoft's decision to remove the Start button/Start Menu we've all known and loved since Windows 95 from the taskbar.  However, in it's place they have added a hidden menu that provides quick and easy access to many useful system tools such as Device Manager, Programs and Features, Control Panel and Command Prompt just to name a few. This is yet another feature Microsoft has added to make navigating Windows 8 easy for those who prefer using a keyboard and mouse.

To access this menu, move the mouse cursor to extreme bottom-left corner of screen and right-click.  You now have access to the hidden system menu. You can also access it using Windows key + X.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Windows 8: The Windows Key

Windows 8 is right around the corner. Contray to what many believe, the Metro UI is not that hard to navigate without a touchscreen especially using the Windows key. Here are several hot keys (keyboard shortcuts) associated with the Windows key that can come in handy while working your way around Windows 8:

Windows Key + = - Opens Magnifier
Windows Key + Tab - Open the Switch List
Windows Key + C - Opens the Charms Bar
Windows Key + F - Open File search
Windows Key + W - Opens Settings search
Windows Key + K - Open Connect Charm
Windows Key + H - Open Share Charm
Windows Key + Z - Open App Bar
Windows Key + I - Opens the Settings menu
Windows Key + X - Open Systems Utility Settings menu
Windows Key + T - Opens Desktop Mode and cycles through any open windows on taskbar
Windows Key + M - Opens Desktop and minimizes all applications
Windows Key + Q - Opens Search in Metro
Windows Key + O - Lock device orientation (for tablets)
Windows Key + R - Switches to Desktop Mode and opens Run
Windows Key + B - Goes back to Desktop Mode
Windows Key + L - Locks the computer screen
Windows Key + E - Opens Windows Explorer
Windows Key + Enter - Opens Narrator
Windows Key + Print Screen - Takes a screenshot and saves as *PNG file in Picture Library
Windows Key + Page Up - Moves open app or Start screen to a connected monitor to the left
Windows Key + Page Down - Moves open app or Start screen to a connected monitor to the right

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Windows 8: A tempting switch

Disclaimer: While I just attended Microsoft's Tech Ed North America 2012 conference, the opinions here reflect me being a fanboy of cool technology and not of being Microsoft sympathizer or Apple hater. Cool technology is cool technology. Period.

Last week, Apple announced the new, MacBook Pro with Retina Display at WWDC and this week Microsoft announced their new Surface tablet. Guess which one I am more excited about and will spend my hard earned money on? The Microsoft Surface. People and critics can say what they will about how Microsoft is copying Apple's iPad and how they are late to the mobile game, but in my opinion, with the upcoming releases of Windows 8 and devices running it, Microsoft can be considered fashionably late.

Let's take a trip back in time to around 2005/2006. I was at a point that I was getting tired of Windows XP. It was bland. There was nothing new in terms of Windows technology to get excited about. Enter Apple. They were moving from PowerPC chips to Intel and made some vast improvements to OS X. It was cool. I made the switch. Bought my first Apple computer. A white MacBook. Even though I had continued hardware issues with it, I loved it. Soon after, Microsoft released Windows Vista. A complete disaster (but one has to admit Vista performs much better now with all the service packs and updates).  More people were starting to switch from Windows to OS X.

Now back to the present. The same reason that I switched from XP to OS X is why I am taking a closer look at Windows 8. Microsoft is taking a big chance with with their upcoming Windows release. Having used Windows 8 since the Developer's Preview and I can say that this will not be just another new version of Windows. Microsoft is making a truly consumer-oriented product. Microsoft's goal is to provide a great experience across multiple devices: computer, tablet, smartphone and even Xbox. They are on the right track to achieving that goal.

Don't get me wrong, Apple produces cool HARDWARE, but when was the last time you got really excited about OS X? Yes, OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion will be released soon, but from my experience using it, the changes seem to be more cosmetic and less innovative. Imagine what a new Corvette would be like with a simple 4-cylinder engine. Looks good. Boring performance.

Windows 8 is generating the buzz and chances are it will live up to that buzz when it is released. I am looking forward to getting a Windows 8 tablet as well as installing it on my current computers to see how it fits into my home technology ecosystem. Who knows, it may become my primary OS of least until Ubuntu 13.04 catches my eye.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Tech Ed 2012 Day 4

That's it. Tech Ed North America 2012 is a wrap. Attended two sessions today:

  • SIA309 - Windows 8: Malware Resistant by Design
  • WCL288 - Windows 8: Desktop Security Strategy

The last day seems to be for last minute SWAG gathering, getting stuff at discount in the onsite Microsoft Company Store, and standing around multiple vendor booths waiting to see if your ticket is drawn for some type of prize such as an Xbox 360 or ultrabook (I wasn't lucky enough to win anything).

Overall, I found Tech Ed 2012 to be a success. Was it perfect? No, but it allowed me to gain further knowledge in the technologies that I work with everyday and better prepare me for implementing and supporting Window 8. I'm also looking forward to getting my hands on some Windows RT devices. Loved the Intel demo touchscreen ultrabook too.

Now to start planning for Tech Ed North America 2013 in New Orleans.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tech Ed 2012 Day 3

Three days down. One more to go. Tech Ed North America 2012 is almost over and I have to say that it has been a worthwhile trip. While I did not have many sessions to attend today, the ones that I did were very informative.

  • WCL279 - Windows 8: Overview for the Enterprise-Enabling Flexible Workstyles
  • WCL281 - Windows 8:Lap Around the Windows 8 Metro style UI

I used today as an opportunity to mingle with a few other attendees as well as really talk with some of the vendors about their products. The shining point of day, possibly the entire Tech Ed event for me was the Skills for Emerging Technologies Seminar/Luncheon held in the Hilton Orlando Ballroom. A panel of speakers discussed changing and emerging career opportunities and ways that everyone could enhance their professional and technical skills for this rapidly changing IT market. There was a lot of good advice provided (I wish my students could have heard it). Well worth the price of attendance.

Time flies when you have having fun....

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tech Ed 2012 Day 2

Second day of Tech Ed North America 2012 has come to an end. It started with a keynote covering Windows 8. Microsoft's goal is to provide a great Windows experience from multiple devices. Microsoft is on the right track.  While some might argue, but Windows 8 is enterprise ready by design when you look at features such as Windows To Go. I have a feeling that Windows 8 will surprise everyone.

A lot of good information provided from the sessions I attended today:

  • WCL202 - Windows 8: Windows RT Device for Business
  • WCL382 - Deploying Windows 8 with the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT)
  • OSP223 - Microsoft Office 365 for Education
  • WCL384 - Windows 8: Windows To Go Overview

Now for some rest to get ready for day 3.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Tech Ed 2012 Day 1

The first day of Tech Ed North America 2012 is in the books. From the cloud-focused keynote to TechExpo Welcome Reception, everything was well done. The only complaint that I had was how uncomfortable and close together the chairs were in the sessions (literally no elbow room). I attended the following sessions today:

  • FDN03 - Enable Consumerization of IT
  • WCL323 - Troubleshooting Windows 7 Deployments
  • WCL327 - Maximizing Windows 7 Performance: Troubleshooting Tips
  • WSV202 - Overview of Windows MultiPoint Server

How can I forget to mention the large number of SWAG (Stuff We All Get) I got today and that I was able to enter the Alumni Lounge this year. It was amazing to see the number of people in attendance for this event.

Taking the time now to download the presentations and complete the session evaluations. I love that you can also download the presentations of the sessions that I could not attend because it was at the same time as another one I was attending. Looking forward to tomorrow's Windows 8 keynote and Windows 8 sessions.

Until tomorrow...

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Arrived in Orlando for Tech Ed 2012

Made it safely to Orlando earlier today for Microsoft Tech Ed North America 2012. Checked in, picked up my "goodies" and got a close-up look at the Project Detroit car. Looking forward to the sessions being offered this week, specifically the ones involving Windows 8 and Office 365. Look for my daily updates of the sessions I attend to share my experience as a second year Tech Ed attendee.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Packing for Tech Ed 2012

The essentials
Started packing for my trip to Orlando for Tech Ed 2012. Since this is a week-long event,  I had to make sure that I had the essentials packed:

- Dell Inspiron Duo (running Windows 8 Release Preview)
- iPad (yes, an iPad at a Microsoft event)
- HTC Trophy (Windows Phone 7)
- Nikon Coolpix S3100
- Verizon 4G MiFi

Of course I have other stuff not pictured such as chargers for all those devices, Sanyo Eneloop rechargeable batteries, Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse, 16GB USB flash drive, Kindle and a few magazines. Still debating whether or not to bring my HP Pavilion g4 laptop along just in case I have to do something work-related.

Now to find room for my toothbrush and underwear....

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Tech Ed 2012

Next week is the annual Microsoft Tech Ed North America conference being held in Orlando, FL and I'm going. This will be my 2nd year attending (and I finally can go into the Alumni Lounge with all the grown-ups). The conference is a key forum for technical professionals from around the country and abroad to learn about the latest Microsoft technologies and products (Hint: Windows 8). You get the opportunity to meet and network with other IT professionals in the Microsoft community. I found it to a very worthwhile educational experience last year and expect the same this year.
I highly recommend attending if you are an IT professional working with Microsoft technologies. Once you do, you'll want to attend every year going forward.

Friday, June 1, 2012

A Little Technical Surgery

I bought my wife a new Dell Inspiron 15r for Mother's Day to replace her Dell Studio 1535 that had cracked hinges. Being one not to let a good computer go to waste, I decided to fix it (plus I have to make sure these young techs know that I still have skills and know what I am doing).

Hinge cracked on both sides

Ordered the parts from Amazon and an followed the videos at and it's done (no screws left over either). Fixed for less that $50. Amazing what you can do with some tools and a hot cup of tea. Installed the Windows 8 Release Preview on it and I now have another spare laptop for testing and general usage.