Removing old install files in Windows 10

When you upgrade the old files are kept around. Usually, you have tons of free space but with time things accumulate in the dusty corners.  Removing the old versions can free up gigs of space.  There are 2 ways to do this

  1. NOT recommended – just find the windows.old directory and delete it. Poof!  However this is a bit hacky and can lead to long term stability issues.
  2. The other way is to use Disk Cleanup
    1. Right-click on your system disk (C:)
    2. Click Disk Clean up
    3. Click “Clean up System Files”
    4. Check the “Previous Windows Installations” entry
    5. Click “OK”
    6. Choose the “Delete Files” option

A quick little EXCEL command

=TRIM(A1)

This wonderful little command removes all spaces from a text field except single spaces between words. This can save you tons of time as exporting .TXT files and other CSV files can add these spaces.  From recent experience formulas don’t work as well when you don’t include the “hidden” space characters in a users name… just saying

Keep your stick on the ice!

Call me on my Surface

Microsoft and hardware have a shaky relationship. When the Surface was first launched, under the Ballmer regime, it had a massive and very public failing.  But now, Surface is an integral brand and a prestige item.  Same for the phone markets, right?  The first attempt, Lumia, was a failure. I do have to add here that I find that a shame as I used and loved my Nokia Lumia for a long time and only reluctantly switched to Android when I had to upgrade.  But wait, what about the bright and shiny phone future you ask.  Enter Surface phone

Fall 2017 is the date they are currently whispering about and Pegatron is in the mix! Things look promising 🙂

A brave new era

Microsoft is taking the electronic assistant and making it new again.  In order to compete with Echo and Home they are leveraging an old ally – Cortana.  The Microsoft approach may not require purchasing hardware – just up dating the software you are already using.  Brilliant!  All your devices can be a part of “Home Hub” (or whatever the final version of the offering is to be called)

There was talk of releasing hardware but it seems like the course of that ship has changed to include Windows 10 devices.

Intel is interested in this as well.  They are looking at ways to turn on a computer using far-field speech recognition.  Hopefully Redstone 3 will start this brave new era 🙂

Cortana to get smarter and better at scheduling meetings

Scheduling meeting is a pain.  It can take a long time and is a task for an assistant … maybe a personal digital assistant?  Now that Microsoft has acquire Genee (and AI scheduling start-up) it looks like meeting scheduling may get easier.  Currently there is a preview wait list but you can enroll and cross your fingers

Enroll in the Calendar.help preview and let Cortana schedule your meetings

Using common language voice commands you will be able to set date, duration and location.  Now if only it can arrange peoples schedules so the only free time is not Friday at 4:00pm 😉

Another Excel gem

=VLOOKUP(A2,C22:E25,3,FALSE)

Yeah, I know, its just a Vlookup. But, I’ve never spent time working with this formula and had to for the first time today and does it ever work well. I just want to take a second and say a big thanks to Rob Williams for helping me fix up the test data and helping with the debugging of the actual formula (not the test one shown here).

Here is my test data

What this formula does is look at a given cell (a3 in this case) and compare that to the table defined as c22:e25.  If it finds the value of A3 in that table it returns the data that is 3 columns over (including itself, although why you want to return your own value seems very weird to me.  In case you were wondering the reason it takes the third column is the “3” in the formula

One big warning is to use “FALSE” in the fourth clause as that forces Excel to return only on exact matches; otherwise, it does all kinds of weird stuff.

So my example will lookup a name you type in cell a3 and return the corresponding user name (as it is 3 columns over)

If you want to get the account attribute you change the formula

=VLOOKUP(A2,C22:E25,4,FALSE)

Microsoft scores well in the security review

I just got around to reading the security reviews for 2016. Adobe was in far worse shape then anticipated.  They has as much as Apple and Microsoft together!  Apple has fewer then Microsoft but that gap is closing.  Here is an excerpt:

“[Microsoft’s] security mitigations and improvements will also make it more difficult for attackers to find more vulnerabilities in its OS.”

Microsoft has made some amazing progress!  Keep up the good work boys!

My new favorite Excel formula

=IF(ISERROR(MATCH(A3,’Source lists’!$B$3:$B$1000,0)),” “,”Yes”)

Ok, so what does it do?

It looks at a list (in this case on ‘Source lists’!$B$3:$B$1000,0) and compares it to a set value (in this case A3).  The  “‘Source lists’!” portion means that the source is on another tab called Source Lists. It then returns true if the value/content of A3 is on that list.

I use this list to manage my user accounts. I can see who is in what groups using a command line export.

From Command Prompt:

net group /domain “Domain Users” >”Domain Users”.txt

Now the trick in my case is building that source (Source List tab). I had to export a series of groups to get the master list and from there I checked back against that list to see who is in what group. Again, all you need to do is use the text to column function in Excel and the output will take up 3 colums. Cut and paste into one column, sort using the Sort function in Excel and voila (repeat for all the lists to make a nice big meaty main list if you don’t have the luxury of knowing all users some other way – which I don’t in my current position)

Geek on!

I’m a defender fan

Its true.  I admit it.  I’m not saying it is the be all and end all in terms of AV solutions these days but rather that an application that was quite a bit sub=par has progressed by leaps and bounds in the last few years to be a viable backup solution. I do recommend using 3rd party applications but I also think it is good to run at least 2 different AV scans when you are worried about infection. I think Defender is one of those.

News coming out now that a new version of Defender is going to be released soon is music to my ears.  I hope that we can get a few more people on board and that this app continues to improve!