MS Office (Outlook) 2013 issues:
OK I have spent more than 10 hours of my evenings over the past few weeks trying to resolve issues with MS Office Outlook 2013 running under Windows 8 this was for the home and business version but I believe it's the same for all the new "click-to-run" versions. (Volume licence MSI install versions for business don't have this issue at all and I have been using Office 2013 since it was released without seeing this issue)
Basically the issue relates to accessing and modifying Outlook profiles (accessible via the "mail..." icon in the control panel). This is required in an instance where you have 2 x different mail accounts that you want to handle separately. Technically this issue manifests its self as rundll32.exe error.
I have replicated this issue 100% of the time under multiple (at least 5) different windows 8.1 PC's in different environments including clean installs. I have tested this using multiple different install disks (3) from multiple different suppliers. I have applied all the available patches and fixes suggested by both Microsoft and the IT community have failed 100% of the time.
I have gone round and round and round and round in forums and Microsoft support and I believe that this is a bug in the product that is unfixable by IT support such as myself. Now, this presents a bit of a problem as there is no Office (Outlook) 2010 available any longer.
What to do?
What have I not tested:
I get asked about a recommendation for a new PC a lot (obviously). These days its a lot easier than it used to be so here you go in one sentence, for a standard business PC:
Intel i5 CPU, 8GB RAM, Windows 8.1 (normally) (always pro), Office 2013 home and business (always retail version), NOD32 antivirus (never security suite), Acronis drive image home 2014 (this is your insurance), Small UPS (APC brand), 22" - 24" screen. Seriously consider a warranty upgrade to onsite.
Brand/suppler... well you will have to call me for that and it is significant.
Running Windows with ‘standard' rather than ‘admin' rights removes over 90 percent of the risk" according to a recent study. See here for the full detail or below is an excerpt (yes I know I have been going on about this for years):
Running Windows users with ‘standard' rather than ‘administrator' rights would have removed over 90 percent of the risk posed by critical vulnerabilities reported in Microsoft products last year, an analysis by privilege management firm Avecto has found.
The firm first looked at 333 vulnerabilities reported by Microsoft in 2013 across all products in its monthly Security bulletins, finding that 60 percent would have been mitigated by removing admin rights. Studying only the 147 rated as the most serious, the mitigation level reached an astonishing 92 percent.
Check to see if you are an administrator on your PC by right clicking on "My Computer" or "Computer" or "This PC" (depending on your Windows version) and chose manage. If you are able to access the Windows computer management console (with or without a warning popup) then you ARE an administrator and you might want to consider changing that (will require thoughtful setup). If you are prompted for a username and password then you aren't an administrator and are a lot safer from malicious software.
However even as a standard user all the usual safe practices apply.
Sometimes the easiest way to make a copy of something is to take a snapshot of your screen - this is what the free Microsoft snipping tool does. If you have windows 7 or 8 then you should have the snipping tool already.
Use it to save and share news stories, movie reviews, or images.
You can capture part or all of your PC screen, add notes, save the snip, or email it right from the Snipping Tool window anything that displays on your screen can be snipped.
Bring up or view the "source" for example a PDF, webpage or other content that you wish to "snip" on your screen and start the windows snipping tool. Within the tool click "new" then select the area that you want to snip and finally save as a jpg or png file so that you can add to your word document, email or wherever else you need it.
Sometimes the simple solution is the best! Want more details? Click here....
An article by Dr. Susan Weinschenk in Psychology Today suggests that people who frequently switch tasks could see their productivity reduced by up to 40%. She goes on to list several reasons for limiting how often you switch between tasks during your work...
5 Reasons To Get Over The Hype And Start Loving Windows 8.1 - Forbes:
What is Windows XP end of support?
Microsoft has provided support for Windows XP for the past 12 years. But now the time has come for us, along with our hardware and software partners, to invest our resources toward supporting more recent technologies so that we can continue to deliver great new experiences.
As a result, after April 8, 2014, technical assistance for Windows XP will no longer be available, including automatic updates that help protect your PC...
...If you continue to use Windows XP after support ends, your computer will still work but it might [WILL] become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses. Also, as more software and hardware manufacturers continue to optimize for more recent versions of Windows, you can expect to encounter greater numbers of apps and devices that do not work with Windows XP.
Computer weekly says the following:
Techies understand XP well, but then those writing malicious code understand it well too. With an ageing security architecture and a lack of full support, Windows XP will be a major platform for hackers to attack...
...For organizations, it should be the wake-up call to move to a more modern operating system that will be less open to such attacks.
So the take away message for organizations (and personal users) still running windows XP PC's is to upgrade now or fail to do so at your peril.
This will be a challenge world wide as XP is still installed on around 30% of the worlds PC's, testament to how good an operating system XP panned out to be. Because this is such a large number some security consultants are predicting that the hackers are probably sitting on an number of exploits and will wait until the product goes end of support before they release them. We are likely to see an increase in "drive-by attacks" where just by visiting a web site means you are infected let along downloading and running a file.
Having said all that I have been strongly recommending people move to windows 8 (or at least 7) for some time due to the significantly more secure nature of these products by design. As the sophistication of hacking technologies increased over time so has the sophistication of Windows to withstand these attacks.
If you have some legacy software or hardware that absolutely must run on XP and you have no choice but to continue, some things to consider:
So what about windows server 2003 (which is the server version of windows XP)? Support for this product ends on 14/07/15 but you should really be looking at this NOW and scheduling a replacement date for any systems running 2003 this includes small business server 2003.
When you install Windows 10 (even with Windows 8 or later) or setup a new Windows 8, 8.1 or 10 PC, as one final part of the setup you will see the a similar image to the one below prompting you to store your documents on OneDrive by default.
I strongly suggest that you don't use this preference. This setting synchronizes all your files up to Onedrive "cloud" storage. which creates unnecessary congestion especially on devices that are used on a cellular (mobile network) connection. Additionally depending on how many files you have you will probably get the Onedrive is full error message and "do you want to buy more space?"
If you would like to use Onedrive for online storage/backup this can be a good idea but to do that you probably want to selectively sync some folders only.
Update to windows 8.1:
One final consideration is that it may prompt you to store your data on Microsoft SkyDrive by default as part of the initialization process, unless you have a particular desire to do this make sure you click no.
The recent Adobe hacker-fest has again brought up the subject of passwords so here is my recommendation...
There are a full set of password rules and suggestions that are already widely recognised as being crucial for online security, see here for a great article: http://www.thegeekstuff.com/2008/06/the-ultimate-guide-for-creating-strong-passwords that pretty much says it all.
However, particularly relevant for now, you need to ensure that your passwords are always different from each other, if your Adobe password has been compromised you don’t want that same password to have been used for your banking.
Take some time to think about the quality and diversity of your online passwords would all your online accounts fall domino fashion if one was breached?
If you're having difficulty in tracking all those passwords consider a password manager, there are a number of different product options. I use https://lastpass.com/ which is available in a free version or paid if you want the smartphone apps as well ($12 per year), now free on mobile as well!!.
Moving your Windows programs round the screen using the Windows key and the arrow keys:
Pressing the Windows key and Left or Right arrow keys will dock the active window to the left or right-hand side of the screen. Pressing the Windows key and the Up arrow will maximize a window and pressing the Windows key and the Down arrow will "restore" and then minimize the window.
If you have multiple monitors use the Windows key + Shift + the Left or Right arrow keys to move the window to another monitor.
I get asked the same questions over and over again by new customers looking to setup a web site and also when the inevitable bills come in for your existing setup. Why do I have 4 or 5 separate bills for internet? Is a common one.
I have created the following diagram which hopefully illustrates the purposes of all the various “services” and approximate costs. Note that not all organisations will have all services but these are some common ones.
If you want the high quality printable PDF drop me an email. I hope this helps, if not let me know and I’ll bring my big black “Texta” pen and draw all over yours next time I see you :-).
[Updated 15/01/15] If you have Windows 8 (or a Windows phone) and you want to use Windows to its full capacity including getting apps from the Windows Store you’re going to need a free “Microsoft account”, basically this just equates to a hotmail.com or outlook.com email address, note that you don’t need to use this as your primary email (or use it at all beyond just getting access to the store and logging on to your PC).
Just a note if you logon in a business setting either via a domain or even peer to peer things are little different. In a domain you logon as the domain user and can then optionally "connect" the Microsoft account to the domain logon, peer to peer needs a bit more planning.
A Microsoft account is basically an email address and password. The good news is you probably already have one. If you use Microsoft services like hotmail.com outlook.com, Xbox, or SkyDrive/OneDrive, the email address and password you already use is your Microsoft account. You don't have to do anything else to get one. Just use that Microsoft account to sign in to your Windows 8 PC, tablet or phone, and you'll get free online storage, apps in the Windows Store, access to Xbox music* (on windows 8). You can also use your Microsoft account to synchronize your photos, documents and files to and from One drive to whatever devices you sign in from, on your phone, laptop, and tablet.
Here is the link to signup if you don't have one already:
Great for media centre or kids PC's but not for business PC's or sensitive data:
Microsoft Autologon enables you to easily configure Windows' built-in autologon mechanism. Instead of waiting for a user to enter their name and password, Windows uses the credentials you enter with Autologon, which are encrypted in the Registry, to log on the specified user automatically.
Autologon is easy enough to use. Just run autologon.exe, fill in the dialog, and hit Enable. To turn off auto-logon, hit Disable. Also, if the shift key is held down before the system performs an autologon, the autologon will be disabled for that logon.
(it works with windows 8 as well)
The fraudulent practice of sending e-mails purporting to be from legitimate companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information.
The article below is a good timely reminder from AVG about blindly clicking on a link that you receive in an email.
“Phishing” is a jargon name for emailing you something that purports to be from a legitimate source and tries to get you to click on a link and then enter some security information which they can use for their own purposes.
Have a read though the article, it’s important.
My recommendation is to NEVER click on a link that you receive in an email for banking or any other important service. If you get an email from Westpac (for example) saying something needs to be done no matter how legitimate it looks, delete the email and open the Westpac website directly from your browser (preferably from a favorite item), if something needs to be done I’m pretty sure they will tell you.
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Digitalwelcomemat provides IT consultancy and services for business customers on the NSW Central Coast in Australia.