Windows 8.1 – Is it worth it?

I upgraded my Lenovo W520 from Windows 8.0 to Windows 8.1 2 weeks ago:

  • Stability
    • Windows 7 and 8.0 crashed now and then.. 8.1 seems stable so far
  • Hyper-V
    • I can now use all 8 cores for a VM!
    • Nice to have machines that can use EFI and boot from network, although not something I’m likely to use
    • The console now emulates RDP more closely, with full screen across two desktops possible! This is a great feature for demos when I will not be certain to have a router available
    • No RemoteFX .. why not? My machine is powerful enough to play Half Life 2 under RemoteFX
  • Outlook 2013
    • Font makes it easier to see more on the screen at once
  • Searching
    • This is a big one. Windows 8.0 let me type and find things in Apps, Settings or Files. I found it quite intuitive. Windows 8.1 not searches the Internet by default.. why?

So yes, basically worth it.

Some points:

  1. On a Lenovo W520, disable the NVidia graphics chip in the BIOS when installing Windows 8.1, otherwise it will crash without explanation
  2. It is very easy to install an additional mSATA drive on your Lenovo W520. (Although you need to remove the keyboard). Note that this interface has a 300 speed, even if you buy a 600 drive. (The internal 2 hard disk bays to however support 600)


How to stop your Bluetooth mouse freezing under Windows

I found my old Microsoft Wireless Notebook Presenter Mouse 8000 that I bought back in 2008. I lost the dongle however the bluetooth matched up easily with my Dell 6220 laptop and was working great.

However every now and then the connection was lost, requiring a visit to the Bluetooth control panel to ‘nudge’ it back into life. This was annoying to say the least.

The fix is not obvious however equally simple. Just find your laptop’s Bluetooth radio (likely a different name depending on your laptop) and click the ‘Power Management’ tab. Then just uncheck the ‘Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power’


Nokia Lumia 920 Observations

There is a ton of interest in the new Lumia 920, however thought I would add a few thoughts of my own.

In the past years I have gone from:

  1. HTC TYTN 2 (Windows Mobile 6.5)
  2. Apple iPhone 3
  3. Samsung Galaxy SII (Android ICS)

So I decided to jump back into the Microsoft ecosystem. Generally speaking this is a fantastic device, and the relativity heavy weight is not an issue for me. If you don’t like weight then consider a Samsung Galaxy SIII instead.

Missing apps:

  • Pleco : This is a really useful Chinese character / dictionary application for Android . No plans to release for Windows Phone.
  • Google Maps: Nokia Maps is for the most part comparable, however I’m surprised that Hong Kong station exits are not marked. (i.e. I can see there is an exit near my destination, however there is no way of knowing which letter it is) I could still use Google Maps through the web browser if I wanted though.

Apps with strange behavior:

  • SkyDrive: Great SkyDrive browsing, but no way to save the files onto my phone?
  • Nokia Maps: The incomplete subway exit markings (as above)
  • Twitter: Official app always scrolls to the top of your timeline, not from where you left off. (MetTweets is better)
  • FaceBook: Works, although noticeably less responsive than Andriod version
  • Lync 2010: Cannot join meetings. I’m not sure if this is a problem with my phone or my company’s Lync Server.

Good apps:

  • XBox Podcasts: I don’t have an XBox, however the Podcast facility is far better than ‘Google Listen’ for Android or iTunes for iPhone.
  • Outlook: Just integrates perfectly.
  • Skype: Far better experience than with the Android version. Experience for the other (PC) caller is improved greatly, although displayed screen shape is a little strange.
  • MetTweets: Best Twitter client I have found so far

Interface Issues:

  • URL bar too close to the Windows buttons: When typing a URL I often hit the Windows key by mistake. 
  • Switch between Wifi / 3G mode: I like to turn off my phone data plan when at home. The Lumia doesn’t have an easy way to do this, whereas even the iPhone 3 from 2007 has a quick way to turn on and off. I’m currently using an App called ‘Power Tool’ that makes this slightly easier.

Interface Strengths:

  • Bluetooth: This is the first device where Bluetooth has worked seamlessly for me. Even the Galaxy SII required a degree of persuasion to get my Bluetooth headsets to work. The Lumia 920 just works.

RDP into Windows 2012 client from Windows 8 host

I’m generally loving my Hyper-V capability under Windows 8, however for some reason I was unable to RDP into my new Windows 2012 virtual machine despite enabling remote access.

I discovered that there is a an extra option in the default firewall settings you need to enable if your host machine is not part of the same domain.

Since my laptop does not belong to any domain, I just ticked the ‘Public’ check box and all is fine.



SharePoint 2013 PowerPivot Install Issue: “Please install SharePoint before you install PowerPivot for SharePoint”

I wanted to try out the latest stack of SharePoint software from Microsoft, so I downloaded:

  1. Windows Server 2012 Essentials (for Domain Controller)
  2. Windows Server 2012 Standard
  3. SQL Server 2012 Enterprise
  4. SharePoint Server 2013 Enterprise

I installed SharePoint Server 2013 first, and then Installed the PowerPivot SQL Server option. I soon discovered an error in that SQL Server was looking for SharePoint 2010 as an installation check:

Rule “SharePoint installation requirements for PowerPivot for SharePoint” failed.  SharePoint Server 2010 is not installed on this computer.  Please install SharePoint before you install PowerPivot for SharePoint”

  • Disclaimer:The following Registry hack will likely result in an UNSUPPORTED installation of Microsoft SharePoint 2013. I publish it solely for use in your development environment. If you need to install a Production environment, then I suggest waiting for a fix from Microsoft.

I found a way past this with help from @spjeff :

However I still had an install issue:

Since @SPJeff was installing a preview version, I also had a look at Process Monitor from SysInternals and discovered:

So there were lots of prerequisites missing from my registry.

I went to an another server that had SharePoint 2010 Enterprise installed and exported the following keys:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Shared Tools\Web Server Extensions\14.0\WSS]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Shared Tools\Web Server Extensions\14.0\Secure]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Shared Tools\Web Server Extensions\14.0\WSS\InstalledProducts]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Shared Tools\Web Server Extensions\14.0\Secure\ConfigDB]


I the ran the REG files back on my SharePoint 2013 machine, and it all began to work:

The actual Registry files I used are embedded in the document below.

Use the following Registry files at your own risk.doc

(Please note that this fix probably doesn’t need all of these Registry entries, however I just grabbed everything to get around this quickly. You can probably delete after you have installed SharePoint 2013)

Connect to SQL Server on the Amazon Cloud

Amazon Web Services (AWS) are offering an instance of SQL Server Express for free. This is a great way to try out the service and see if it works for your scenario.

After you sign up (credit card required) you are able to provision an instance quite quickly. Note my highlighted Red box that contains the endpoint of the SQL Server instance.


Then all you have to do is setup the security group and specify the IP of the machine attempting to reach the instance. Amazon makes a suggestion based on the machine making the request.


You can now connect to your instance from SQL Server Management Studio. (Note that the instance is SQL Server 2008 R2)

You can then use it as any other SQL Server instance.



ESRI Maps ASP.NET Example Update

Two years ago I created an ASP.NET project with integrated ESRI maps and placed on CodePlex:

Original Post:

CodePlex Home:

Turns out the fun part of developing against public web services is that they can change over time. Not really a problem in this case since ESRI provide examples for the benefit of the community, not for business use.

I included the javascript changes in the ESRI example into mine, and it all works fine again now.


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