Posted on June 13th, 2013 No comments
I’ve had a problem recently trying to sync some OneNote notebooks.
The error message I get when checking the sync status is:
An error occurred while attempting to sync this section or notebook. (Error code: 0xE000003D)
Looking closer it’s specific parts of the note book that have the problem. They are easy enough to spot. The tab goes a white colour and you get the ever so helpful message.
“An unknown error occurred while opening this section”
A common suggestion with OneNote sync problems is to clear the local cache and download the whole thing again. You do this by starting OneNote in safe mode and press the “clear cache” button.
I wasn’t expecting this to work however as I’m getting the same problem on my laptop and my desktop machines so I the problem seems to be with the note book itself.
To fix the problem here’s what I did.
I opened the Web version of the OneNote. The section that was having the problem opened just fine here.
Then I created a new section.
Then I drag and dropped each page from the old section to the new section.
I then deleted the now empty damaged section and renamed the new section.
Once all this had been done the changes sync’d down to my devices and all is good.
I’m not entirely sure what caused the problem in the first place. I had opened the note book in OneNote 2013 at some point so maybe I’d caused a problem there but that’s just a guess. Thankfully all my data was still intact.
Posted on June 7th, 2013 2 comments
I can’t believe how badly Microsoft appear to have got this.
After the PS4 launch all Microsoft had to do for a more successful launch than Sony was,
Show the console
Show some interesting games
Show some cool features
But first, the name, XBox One? If I went into a shop to ask for an Xbox One I’d be told “Sorry, we don’t sell those anymore”. From a marketing perspective I can see why they might go with it. Since they are intent on bringing all your entertainment into one place it sort of makes sense. But in reality it’s ridiculous!
Anyway, show the console? Check!
They talked about hardware specs which sounded ok, but it’s not like I can upgrade the components inside so they are what they are. They promised near silent operation and no repeat of the failure rate of the Xbox 360. If they can deliver that then great. Not something I’d specifically buy one for though.
Interesting games? Meh.
Forza 5 – I’ve never had a problem with the Foza franchise and from a graphics perspective it’s good way of showing the capabilities of the new device but…..it’s not going to make me want to rush out and buy one on launch.
Quantum Break – ok cool, some new IP! But again at the moment not specifically making me want to part with my cash on day one.
Call of Duty: Ghosts – not for me. If you’re a COD fan I guess this might be interesting but I’ve tried other Call of Duty games and it’s not something I can get excited about.
and that was it for games.
“Wait for E3” we were told!
And features! Here are a couple that are of note.
New controller – yep ok. I’ve been pretty happy with the controller I currently use but you can always improve right? But once again I’m not going to go rush out buy a console off the back of it.
TV – Let’s get to it then since this is what Microsoft spent more time talking about than anything else. As it’s been said in plenty of other places Microsoft seem to want to build an entertainment system that happens to play games whereas what the majority of people want (i.e gamers) is a games console.
They talking quite a lot of the inconvenience of having to switch inputs between TV, Blu Ray and games console and how the Xbox One means everything is in one place! Come on, switching inputs isn’t that hard. My kids managed to do it ok and they are seven and four years old! Also if my countries TV system isn’t supported it’s not a lot of use. For me it sounds like a “nice to have” instead of “OMG I NEED THIS IN MY LIFE”.
Kinect – Every console will come with one and you have to connect it. I don’t have a a Kinect for my current Xbox for two reasons. First, my living room is setup in such a way it just wouldn’t work and secondly there isn’t anything worth using it for that justifies the cost! That said, Skype is a big deal for me. We’ve got family the other side of the world and currently to use Skype everyone has to crowd around a PC, Laptop or phone and it’s a bit of a pain. Having a large screen and being able to not worry about being seen is cool. But again in the grand scheme of things this is a “nice to have”. I could quite easily replicate this by hooking up a PC to my TV and a camera just above it.
Cloud / Azure – this could be interesting if developers use it in the right way. Microsoft have an enormous amount of computing power available in their datacentres. Allowing game creators to make use of processing away from the device could make for some interesting experiences. It will likely be some time before developers figure this out though.
So as launch it felt ok. But nothing that made me want to rush out and buy one but it caught my interest enough to wait for E3 and see what was next. Games after all are why want this, despite where Microsoft are obviously trying to take this I want games first. Anything else after that will be a nice bonus.
I don’t quite understand why Sony and Microsoft did the reveals in this way. If you’re holding stuff back for E3 why not just do it all there?
But what really ruined it was how they have dealt with the things they hadn’t mentioned.
There had been plenty of rumours about how the new Xbox would require an always on Internet connection or second hand games would be a thing of the past or how with the required Kinect sensor will having a camera permanently turn on in your living room have an effect on your privacy?
Instead of just coming out with it they talked in very vague terms that only added to the confusion. On top of that different people were being quoted with totally conflicting information. All of this made it very infuriating when you’re supposedly trying to make people excited.
This meant that people were talking about that instead of the launch itself. Twitter, Facebook, forums, gaming sites and blogs were full of people asking for answers.
It appears Microsoft were a little worried about it so last night they tried to clarify some of those points
Always on – your console will need to “check in” at least once ever 24 hours. This is because the discs aren’t really needed. You install the game onto the hard drive and play it from there. It’s a not very obvious way of weaning us all towards digital distribution (games will be available to download on the same day as they are released on disc) and that “check in” mechanism is to ensure you’re playing a game that’s tied to your Xbox account.
Second Hand – Well they certainly scotched the rumour that Microsoft will be taking money for second hand sales. They wont. But the publishers now have the option to. Furthermore that link above has a lot info on how “games licensing” will work. Thing is though a lot of that will be very confusing to the average consumer who just wants to put the disc in and play the game.
Privacy – Kinect will be under your control apparently. You’ll be able to pause Kinect sensing and control what happens to pictures and videos. Also,
When Xbox One is on and you’re simply having a conversation in your living room, your conversation is not being recorded or uploaded.
This was the one page that was actually specific around certain scenarios. (I think, the privacy angle is not something I’d given a great deal of thought to)
This actually hasn’t helped. Microsoft were skirting around the issue during the launch because they knew it might be received badly and I’d say “received badly” will be an understatement.
To Microsoft this may sound amazing but there are people who own an Xbox 360 and don’t have an internet connection at all. There a people in the world who get all their internet access from their phone. A permanent fixed connection isn’t always wanted or needed. As it stands these people will be excluded from Xbox One.
The second hand sales area is what will be frustrating most people however. The key thing is how Microsoft are talking about it in terms of “games licensing”. For many years publishers and consumers have seen games in entirely different ways. Under law you never own the game, you are given a license to use the software but that isn’t how consumers see it. If you have a disc (or cartridge) then it’s “your” game and you can do with it as you wish, even it that means selling it, lending it to a friend or giving it away once you’ve finished with it.
On top of this there is the money side of things. The second hand sale market hits publishers directly in the pocket. They can only ever make a profit from a game sale once. After that however, other people make plenty of profit from it. Stores such as Game can buy and resell that game many times over, making a profit each time. The whole area of the way Game (and other stores) work the second hand market could make an entirely separate post that as lengthy as this one already is but it’s obvious that publishers want a slice of that money.
As I understand it game retailers will need to work with Microsoft to facilitate this system to re-activate the second hand game and pass on the cut to the publisher. If this mechanism is complicated and costly it’ll likely mean big trouble for small independent shops (which will be a travesty if it’s true – there aren’t enough of them about as it is)
Sony must have something similar in mind surely? This will have been asked for by the publishers but if Microsoft are going alone on this then Sony will clean up this generation! If I were a retailer and Xbox has this “baked in DRM” and the PlayStation didn’t then I’d only stock the PlayStation!
In the run up to a console release you need to drive interest and demand for your product. At the moment everything Microsoft are doing seems to be having the opposite effect and Twitter, Facebook, forums, gaming sites and blogs seem to be full of people who are saying they don’t play on getting an Xbox One.
They’ll need to pull something special out of the bag at E3.
After all that, looks like that PlayStation 4 reveal wasn’t so bad after all?
Posted on May 30th, 2013 No comments
We’re very eager to complain about bad customer service and in the era of social media it’s very easy to get yourself heard. It’s also very easy to not mention examples of good service so I like to try and redress that balance where I can!
In our household we use Netflix for streaming and LoveFilm for discs-by-post. This mix works well for us and from a customer service perspective it’s largely been trouble free.
We’ve been watching Game of Thrones on Blu Ray via LoveFilm and are half way through season two. Disc four of five arrived last week but when we sat down to watch it within the first few minutes it felt like we were missing some plot points. Turns out we were an episode ahead.
The blu ray collection of season two is made up of five discs
Disc two contains episodes 1-2
Disc two contains episodes 3-4
Disc three contains episodes 5-7
Disc four contains episodes 8-9
Disc ten contains episode 10
Having watched the first two discs we assumed it was two episodes per disc. Unfortunately when disc three arrived the label on the disc sleeve said “episodes 5-6” so we watched two episodes and sent the disc back expecting to see episodes 7-8 next time around.
When disc four turned up it had the same problem. The disc sleeve said “episodes 7-8”. Seeing as we had a problem a closer look the label on the disc showed it as “episodes 8-9”.
We had missed episode 7. At this stage I thought that either their were two versions of the box set or the labelling of the sleeves was incorrect.
I had a quick search but wasn’t able to find anywhere that actually listed which episodes were on each disc.
Anyway, LoveFilm have an online form you can fill out for incorrectly sent discs so I filled that out and sent the disc back. (We’ve used this in the past and your allowance is reset and the next disc is sent out straight away)
Disc 5 turned up a couple of days later with exactly the same problem though. The sleeve said “episodes 9-10” the actual disc said “episode 10”
You can just about see the start of Episode 10.
Irritatingly the menu system on Blu Ray gives you the full selection of episodes to choose from across all the discs. If that episode isn’t on that particular disc you get a very helpful “please insert disc 3" message. It’s not that helpful if you’ve only got one disc though. As we were trusting the disc sleeve to tell us what was on the disc it’s quite easy to see how we missed the extra episode on disc three. Having looked at the label on the sleeve I hadn’t actually looked at the label on the disc (as you can see from the picture, a LoveFilm label obscures that anyway)
So this time I decided to give LoveFilm a call. It’s an 0800 number and was pleasantly surprised to see they are open until midnight on a weeknight and 10pm at the weekend.
The member of staff was very helpful and his guess was that the labels are wrong.
Without any fuss he said he’d get discs three and four sent out to us straight away (depending on availability of course!). This means all being well we’ll have all the episodes to watch over the weekend at the same time.
What I’m pleased about is he didn’t have to send us the discs all at once. I didn’t even ask him to do it. We’re on a “one disc at a time” package that generally works well for us. He could have quite easily sent us disc three again and made me return disc five and it would have been a couple of weeks before we got back to disc 5 again. That’s pretty much what I was expecting to happen.
It’s only a little thing but they dealt with my query quickly, efficiently, with minimum fuss and exceeded my expectations.
I know it’s only a small thing to resolve a minor problem, that’s doing customer service right isn’t it?
If I had to grumble about one thing? I’d put all this detail in returns form when I sent disc three back. The fact I had to make a phone call to sort it out isn’t deaf accessible at all so Mrs P couldn’t have dealt with this. Sadly, it’s a common thing.
Posted on May 20th, 2013 4 comments
There is nothing worse than having a mobile phone run out of power and you’re nowhere near a plug socket. This happens to me quite a lot when I’m having particularly busy days so I was very pleased when MobileFun asked if I’d like to take a look at the Kit Power Scout Portable Battery Charger.
The device itself is around the size of a portable hard drive so easy enough to keep in a bag or carry in a coat pocket and isn’t particularly heavy. I was able to go out for the day with it tucked inside my coat pocket and didn’t notice I’d got it with me and was glad I’d got with me by the time I’d got to the pub at the end of the day as my phone was on it’s last legs.
It comes with a regular micro USB cable and an iPhone specific cable.
On the front is a status LED and a push button.
All you have to do to get it working is connect the device and press the button. Nice and simple!
The charger has three ports, two are outputs and the other one is for actually charging the battery via USB.
Charging is pretty quick when connecting to the mains but it worked equally well when connected to a PC.
The curly cable is useful as it helps keep the bulk down but without sacrificing the length of the cable.
The instructions included indicated the 2.1A port should be used for charging larger devices such as an iPad with the other port for phones. I couldn’t get my mobile to charge with the 1A port but it was more than happy in the other port.
The instructions also say the 6600mAh 3.1 Amp battery can charge a smart phone approximately 4 times and a iPad up to 80% in addition to holding it’s charge for up to 90 days. Bold claims but my experiences so far have been very good. I’ve used the charger to breathe life into my phone as well as my Kindle.
Not much more to say. It does exactly what it says on the tin and isn’t in anyway an inconvenience. I took with me on a trip to Dublin recently and it was great knowing I wouldn’t have to worry about running my phone down which happens all too easily when taking photos, looking for directions and general browsing when doing the tourist thing.
This particular device is £39.95 but having made full use of it recently it’s worth it. There are plenty of alternatives in different sizes and prices but for my usage this is a good fit.
Posted on April 30th, 2013 No comments
Came across a bit of a weird issue today I thought was worth repeating here.
I took a support call where the end user could print documents in Word, Excel, Outlook without issue but as soon as she tried to print something via Internet Explorer no document appeared and Internet Explorer was non-responsive.
What struck as weird first of was how Internet Explorer was “non-responsive”.
Normally when a program locks up in Windows it’s pretty obvious. The program visibly changes and Task Manager reports the program as not responding and Windows will give you the option to end the task. In this case it was as thought there was a dialog box hidden somewhere so the rest of the application was off limits.
After quite an amount of time trying various things I managed to find the problem
Internet Explorer Protected Mode
Protected Mode for Internet Explorer is a Windows 7 feature there to prevent webpages running applications it’s not supposed to. If it attempts to run a program you get a warning.
In this case the print driver itself was kicking off one of those warnings (this is something I’ve never seen before and I’m still looking into why).
At some point the user must have click “Don’t Allow” and put the tick in the box for “Do not show me the warning for this program again”. This meant the printer driver was waiting for input, permission to run and never getting it.
Unfortunately you can’t re-allow a single application (as far as I’m aware anyway) so you have to reset Internet Explorer to defaults.
To do this click, Tools, Internet Options, Click the Advanced Tab, click Reset and then in the dialog box that pops up click rest. (Instructions from the Microsoft site are here)
Once that was done I was able to click “Allow” and put the tick in the box for “Do not show me the warning for this program again”.
Alternatively if there is a new browser to upgrade to (IE 8 to IE 9 for example) you can do that and it’ll have the same effect as part of the upgrade.
After that everything started to print ok!
Posted on April 22nd, 2013 No comments
On Saturday I did the most physically demanding thing I’ve ever been involved with.
10km off road running adventure through woodland, farm tracks and across grassland held on the grounds of Brooksby Melton College’s Spinney Campus.
The longest distance I’ve ever ran continuously was about 5 miles (around 8km) which I did once during my recovery from my knee injury. At that point I was doing 2-3 mile runs and wanted to see if I could step up to 5. I did it and decided that once was enough!
So I guess the first question is why?
Well, why not?
I’ve said before about how I’m all for new experiences and pushing boundaries and when some friends said they were getting involved I thought it’d be a good thing to do with them. If anything it would certainly be an experience!
Whoever designed the course must be some sort of sadist. It starts out with a gentle 2km run with a paddle through a very shallow stream, under a bridge and over some hay bales. All very straight forward and fun.
Then you’re expected to climb quite a steep hill, come back down again and repeat…at least eight times, on the last couple of climbs they give you a log to carry!! This isn’t even the halfway point of the course.
Some you waded through, some you crawled through, some you’d have to swim through if you weren’t tall enough!
The running and hay bales kept coming and just when you think it might get easier more near vertical hills suddenly appear!
Crawling under a cargo net that is submerged in what I can only describe as a large muddy puddle is something I’ll remember for a long time!
The final stretch gave us another net to clamber under before a sprint for the finish line (I have no idea where I got the energy from to sprint to the line!)
Actually getting across the line was an amazing feeling and any immediate thoughts of tired muscles vanished!
I finished the course in one hour and thirty two minutes and finished in 143 place.
The overall winner finished in just short of an hour so I’m pretty pleased at that as a total amateur and my first ever event. There were 278 total entries so 143rd place put me right in the middle, again something I’m pretty happy about.
As well as it being as equally fun and rewarding as it was difficult I learnt an awful lot. Many of these things are useful in plenty of other areas I think!
Long distance running events like this are only in part about physical strength. Mental strength is key. Around the 7km mark ever part of my body was telling me to stop as this was too hard. I really had to push through and tell myself to carry on going.
Never underestimate having someone to lean on. My friend Stewart and I ran the whole thing together. He’s got much more experience at this sort of thing than I have and if I’d been doing it on my own I can’t say with 100% confidence I’d have been strong enough to push through the hard parts. I’m confident I’d have still finished but would I have slowed or even stopped? Quite possibly. He even ignored my babblings about how hungry I was at the 8km mark! Cheers mate.
Know when to go alone. We actually started out as a three running together but Neil was carrying an injury. We initially resisted calls from him telling us to carry on without him but being brutally honest when we finally made the decision to actually do that it was the right thing to do. He made it around in his own time but our enjoyment of the event may not have been the same if we had stayed as three. It worked out fine in the end and we all had a great time.
Preparation is really important. While I didn’t specifically train for the event I was conscious that football aside, I hadn’t done any running since last summer. I made sure I went out six or seven times in the weeks leading up to the event and ran a coupe of miles each time just to get back into the rhythm of running over a distance. I’m glad I did! If I’d thought about it a bit more and done some longer distances that wall I hit around 7km would have been much easier to get through.
Don’t overdo it! Because of how bizarre our winter has been we’ve been playing catch up on football fixtures. This meant I played football Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before the event. With another game on Sunday – ouch. It wasn’t quite as bad as I thought it could be but my calf muscles were starting to cramp up half way around. I was actually thankful for the cold water on some parts of the course.
The London Marathon was the day after and the amount of respect I already had for those who take part shot up a thousand fold! Not that I have any plans to take on that sort of distance!
Posted on April 18th, 2013 No comments
Everyone once in while when using Outlook you’ll get messages that just refuse to send.
Looking down the folder list you see the dreaded number next to the Outbox that lets you know something isn’t quite right
Clicking on the folder shows the message just sitting there.
You try double clicking the message and pressing the send button again, you’ve pressed the “send/receive” button, you’ve restarted Outlook but it just sits there.
The Outlook blog has a decent post with some things to try to help shoo the message along. But I thought I’d share one of the tricks that generally works for me.
What can sometimes be frustrating is that everything otherwise appears fine. Outlook is reporting as connected (you have checked that’s not the problem though?) and inbound messages are still coming in
When it’s really trying to mock you other messages actually send ok!
So my “tip” is actually pretty simple
Drag the message into your Sent Items folder.
Open the message from there and press the send button again.
Posted on April 4th, 2013 2 comments
If you make any changes to settings in Windows you’ll have seen three buttons at the bottom.
OK, CANCEL, APPLY
I’ve been asked a couple of times recently about difference between the ok and apply buttons so thought that I thought it was worth posting about!
It’s not all that complicated.
If you make any changes and press the APPLY button the settings are put into place and the window stays open.
If you make any changes and press the OK button the settings are put into place and the window is then closed.
Both are supposed to be time saving functions depending on what you are doing. If you are making multiple changes but want to see what effect it has as you are working the apply button means you don’t have to constantly reopen the settings window each time.
The OK button is there for one off operations and means you don’t need an extra click to close the window manually.
I very often see people who click the Apply button and then immediately click the OK button which says to me it’s not obvious what the difference is.
I’m hoping it’s obvious what the cancel button is for.
Posted on April 2nd, 2013 2 comments
Sometimes people solve problems with ideas that are so simple you wonder why no-one ever thought of it before. The MU Foldable USB charger is a classic example of that and when the nice people at MobileFun asked if I’d be interested in a taking a look at their phone chargers and I saw the MU was on the list I jumped at it.
So what’s the problem they are trying to solve?
Specifically plugs for chargers (phone, kindle, mp3 player, etc).
Have you ever tried to carry a charger in your pocket? The pins on the plug stick in everything and the whole thing is is so bulky you end up with lumps in places you probably would rather there weren’t. This means chargers are usually stuffed in bags but if you do a lot of travelling you’ll know bag space comes at a premium so having silly shaped chargers isn’t helpful.
First thing though the packaging!
It’s very stylish packaging and the sort of thing you’d expect from a high end gadget such as a mobile phone or a tablet.
It makes just unboxing the thing an “experience” but if you’re reinventing the plug then way not add a bit of jazz?
Packaging aside however, what’s different about this?
It’s a plug…that folds!!
Here’s how it looks when it comes out of the box.
You then open it up and rotate the bottom set of pins.
And there you have it!
Just a really simple idea that’s executed very well.
The only real downside with it is that it’s not intended for “high ampere devices such as tablets” so it wouldn’t be the complete solution while on the road.
MobileFun have them available for £19.99 which is a lot of money on the face of it but if you consider you can get a Belkin USB AC Charger / UK Plug for about £9 (and it doesn’t fold!) so you may think it’s worth the extra money for the convenience.
The manufacturers website is here and has much better pictures than the ones I’ve taken!
Posted on March 25th, 2013 No comments
This a note for me as I always have to lookup which group policy setting I need.
When using the Remote Assistance tool to help someone running Windows 7 (or Vista!) if you need to elevate via UAC you’re not able to do this as the “helper” out of the box. The end user is supposed to respond to the UAC prompt. It’s intended as security feature to prevent remote helpers making admin changes but what if you’re the network admin and the end user doesn’t have local admin rights?
As the helper you just end up with a black screen displayed and the user is prompted for credentials they don’t have and you probably don’t want to give them.
The solution is to allow remote assistance users to interact with the UAC prompt.
It’s a simple change in group policy. (or via local security policy if you really wanted to do it by hand!)
Local Settings\Security Settings\Local Policies\Security Option
This setting needs to be ENABLED
User Account Control: Allow UIAccess applications to prompt for elevation without using the secure desktop
If you are a little worried about security there are still some restrictions in place that prevent just any old application from getting around UAC.
UIA programs (User Interface Accessibility) are designed to interact with Windows and application programs on behalf of a user. This policy setting allows UIA programs to bypass the secure desktop to increase usability in certain cases; however, allowing elevation requests to appear on the interactive desktop instead of the secure desktop can increase your security risk.
UIA programs must be digitally signed because they must be able to respond to prompts regarding security issues, such as the UAC elevation prompt. By default, UIA programs are run only from the following protected paths:
- …\Program Files, including subfolders
- …\Program Files (x86), including subfolders for 64-bit versions of Windows
If you really wanted to lower your security you can disable this requirement too but it’s probably not worth thinking about!