Windows 10: different backgrounds for each monitor

Hey y’all,


Here is quick how to I came across and absolutely love!

If you want different backgrounds on each monitor try this:

  1.  Go to Windows settings -> Personalization
  2. Right click on any monitor and you will get a menu that allows you to pick a separate image for each screen

I didn’t know about this so it came as quite a happy little surprise to me 🙂


Rumors: Windows 10 Night light

It has been called several different things but the name I keep coming across is Blue Light Reduction.  This feature will have controls in the action center and will be a quick toggle during certain times of day.

Similar to Night Shift on iPhones or the f.lux app it will adjust screen brightness depending on the time of day. What a great way to save your retinas (and that was an Apple joke in case you were wondering 🙂 )

You are unique: filtering Excel to show unique entries

I love Excel. If you know me you know that I can spend hours making formulas and playing with calculations.  This is almost an addiction. Here is a little tip I shared with a friend recently – it easily saved numerous hours of manual data crunching.

To filter a list in Excel 2010 to show only the unique entries do the following:

  1. Select the data area
  2. Go to the Data tab, go to the Sort and Filter group and click advanced
  3. Ensure the Filter the list, in place radio button is set
  4. Select Unique Records only

The resulting list will show only one instance of a data point.  Meaning, if “Joe” was listed as the agent for 4 companies but you wanted to know how many agents there were: when you used this filter it would show “Joe” but only once.


Ta da!

Updating Windows 10 and making more alphabet soup

It never fails.  IT equates with acronyms. YMMV, but IMHO this srsly needs to stop, ASAP.  Get it … groan… Since Windows 10 released it has been updating via small, incremental updates and wading through the alphabet trying to find the model that is best for you has been …interesting to say the least

Here are the new acronyms

8-17-2016 2-36-50 PM

WIPB – this is the most recent version that external users can use. It is released right after it has passed Microsoft internal testing.  It is almost like a beta release and goes through serious user testing. If you are brave you can join the Windows Insiders here:

CB – this release is an early release to the genereal public. Not yet tested enough to be released into large enterprise but tested enough that it is very stable and typical end-users should have minimal issues.

CBB – this is for general consumption in an organization. Allows for deployments over a longer period of time

LTSB – gets no new features but only has security updates (and some other updates). Used on devices that are business critical and usually are built with an OS having many other features already removed.


Geek specs: Kaby lake release

Gen 7 CPUs are so friggin tiny!  Intel has announced that they will release Kaby Lake with a 7nm processor with improved power and performance.

Intel is branding them as 7nm+ since they bring a 12% performance increase (how long can we hold onto Moore’s law?) and offer better graphics and video playback.

Look for m2, i3,i5 and i7 to ship ASAP

Disk clean up from Settings

With the new modern interface there are a ton of tools which are now more easily accessed. One of the ones that people should be using more is the option to clean out temp files.  Now, in the bad-old-days, temp files usually only amounted to a few megs worth of data but now we are looking at gigs of data being sucked into the temp file vacuum. As windows services (and updates) come down the pipe quicker it is easy to amass large collections of useless and orphaned files.  To clean up files from Settings is really straight forward

  1. Go to Settings -> System -> Storage
  2. Select the drive you want to clean (usually the C: drive but it should be the drive on which Windows has been installed
  3. Select Temporary Files
  4. Here there are 3 options. Temp files are first on the list.  Select this one.  Second is Recycle bin and you select this to empty the recycle bin. The third one is very interesting and warrants use but also a caution. It is called Previous Versions of Windows. This is where old updates are saved. Removing them can be a good thing and save lots of space but will block a lot of “roll back” options should you encounter system instability down the road. Also, I had assumed this was just for old versions – versions that get stored when you upgrade from, say, Windows 8.1 to Windows 10. So be warned -old updates are stored here as well.

Defender gets more defenses

Its no secret. There are lots of viruses on the web and there are lots of anti-viruses too and even lots of anti-viruses that are actual viruses.  It gets messy

As an IT Pro I always recommend using some form of protection when browsing the web.  The list of awesome free tools out there is long and distinguished.

I just came across a piece of very interesting information. I use a leading free product as my main AV solution and keep Windows Defender in the background. It has come in handy a few times.  Now Windows Defender has an offline mode as well.  In the anniversary update version you will be able to scan your drive offline.  Also, it introduces Block at First Sight which reduces detection time by leveraging cloud resources for analysis. Also, and this one I really like (if it works), is the ability to block unwanted programs from installing.  It has happened to us all, me included: you get so excited about a new application or are just not paying enough attention and while installing an app you forget to uncheck the boxes to install all the rest of the garbage that it suggests.  Hopefully this update will help us in those moments where we forget to help ourselves

Stay clean!

EDIT: After this was originally written I read another article which has some more fantastic news for Defender.  Post-anniversary it will offer lots of post-breach mitigation. I have been to a number of conferences lately and the motto is “It’s not if you will get breached, it’s what you do when you are breached”. Tools like Windows Defender Advanced threat protection offer a solution in the new cyber reality

There is a fully detailed post on the ATP functionality here:


Get Ignited

The Ignite sessions list has been posted! If you planned to attend take a look at what seminars, labs and sessions are available:

Hopefully yours truly will be there next year in person 🙂


There are over 70 windows entry level sessions and some amazing level 200 sessions as well.  Lots of talk about Azure by some highly respected people as well.  I am going to try and adsorb as much of this (virtually) as possible.  Isn’t it wonderful to live in an edge of online recording and live steaming!

Get your Windows serviced

Keep the faith Windows users!  The much debated issues with updating older OSs (7 and 8.1) is about to get a lot easier 🙂

As of October of this year windows updates for Windows 7 and Window 8.1 will be monthly pushes.  What is that you say? How is that a big change? Well, from October on the udates are all going to be… cumulative. That’s right – each update will include all the previous updates so you will only need to download one file and not run a series of updates to get back to “current branch”.

This does beg a few questions from this humble blogger

  1. How big do the “rollups” become?  I am wondering about bandwidth usage and companies on slower networks
  2. If you are only one or two versions behind do you really need to download the whole package? Hopefully there is some mechanism that checks the version you are running and only pulls down the portions you need
  3. What if you only want certain updates (i.e.: critical and security updates) and not the rest?  There seems to be some answers here as MSFT says they plan to release a separate package of just security updates
  4. How can you recover from a failed update?  What to do if an update causes issues. I can recover from that (hopefully) but how can it be removed from the list of file I have to download.  Am I blocked from ever updating again??

I am going to have to dig deeper on this one dear readers!

Stay tuned 🙂

Xbox controls man’s PC

At the time this gets posted I will be in the wilds of Algonquin park. I a weird twist I will also hopefully have cell reception so I can watch the last ever Tragically Hip concert. I have never wanted a signal when camping before (it was nice at times when I did get one) but this is an exception.  Much respect for the band and Gord himself.

To try and segue here – combining things that are quite different (see, I’m trying) the Xbox One controller is a supported device in Windows 10.  As the platforms start to show some overlap it will be nice to use a controller for PC based gaming without needing to shell out another 60/80/100 dollars.  The wired cable works, if you have a wireless adapter that works and the newer controllers have Bluetooth.