Monday, January 15, 2018

Windows 10: Lock Screen Shortcut

In any organization, it is important to lock the computer when the user leaves it, this will prevent someone from abusing someone else’s network security access. By pressing the WinKey + L on the keyboard, the user can lock the computer screen. With this tip, the user can create a shortcut icon that does the same thing by clicking on it.
  1. Create a new shortcut (right-click the desktop, select New > Shortcut)
  2. In the Type the location of the item field, type: RUNDLL32.EXE user32.dll LockWorkStation, and then press the Next button.
  3. In the Type the name of the shortcut field, type: Lock Screen and then press the Finish button.
Use any of the additional commands below to create additional shortcuts:

  • Show Desktop
    • shell:::{3080F90D-D7AD-11D9-BD98-0000947B0257}
  • Run… (dialog)
    • shell:::{2559a1f3-21d7-11d4-bdaf-00c04f60b9f0} 
  • Recycle Bin
    • shell:::{645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E}
  • Slide to Shutdown
    • slidetoshutdown.exe
  • Task Manager
    • taskmgr.exe

Friday, January 12, 2018

Windows 10: PowerShell Core 6.0 is now available...

If you are a Windows PowerShell scripter, then you might be excited about Microsoft announcing the release of PowerShell Core 6.0.  For the first time in the scripting language’s ten-year history, it is now cross-platform (meaning the same script can run on Windows, MacOS, and Linux) and its open-source (so it is freely available to download or modify).

If you are a PowerShell scripter, this opens up new opportunities for managing heterogeneous environments (meaning multiple different types of OSs) with a single scripting language.
PowerShell is not the first or only open source cross-platform scripting environment that is currently available.  Python is a very mature scripting language that has a huge following right now.

Windows PowerShell vs. PowerShell Core

Here is the interesting news.  There are now two versions of PowerShell; there is the Windows and the Core version.  Windows PowerShell, which is the current version of PowerShell that is shipping with the OS today, is now being dropped in favor of PowerShell Core.

What this means is now that PowerShell Core 6.0 has been released, Microsoft will not be developing any new releases of Windows PowerShell.  All new development in the language will be done under PowerShell Core.

Downloading and Installing PowerShell Core

To download and install PowerShell Core, just select the link next to the OS you are using and follow the instructions on the page to install the software.

Monday, January 08, 2018

PowerShell: Checking for the Meltdown and Spectre CPU Flaws

You have probably already heard about the Meltdown and Spectre flaws in the Intel CPUs.  The flaw has existed in the chips since 1995.  This flaw also effects any OS that uses the Intel chips that are effected, so it's not just Windows, this also effects Linux and the MacOS.

On January 3, 2018, Microsoft released an out-of-band Windows updates to address the Meltdown and Spectre flaws.  It is worth noting that these patches should be tested on machines before deploying it to a full environment.  There have been posts about incompatibilities found with AMD processors and some anti-malware packages.

Microsoft has four help pages of guidance for client and server:

Microsoft has instructed anti-malware vendors to modify their products and create a specific registry key on customers' computers to confirm that their products won't crash the PCs if the patches are installed.
"The compatibility issue arises when antivirus applications make unsupported calls into Windows kernel memory. These calls may cause stop errors (also known as blue screen errors) that make the device unable to boot. To help prevent stop errors that are caused by incompatible antivirus applications, Microsoft is only offering the Windows security updates that were released on January 3, 2018, to devices that are running antivirus software that is from partners who have confirmed that their software is compatible with the January 2018 Windows operating system security update."

Meltdown and Spectre Flaws Diagnostics

To check if you have the anti-malware compatible registry key:
REG QUERY HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\QualityCompat /v cadca5fe-87d3-4b96-b7fb-a231484277cc
If you want to test the state of a computer if it has been patched or not, you can use a PowerShell module/cmdlet that Microsoft has created to test for the existence of the flaw and patch.

  • Download and install a Powershell module: Install-Module SpeculationControl
  • Run the following PowerShell command: Get-SpeculationControlSettings
Note: If you can't run the commands, you might need to change the PowerShell security level: Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned -Scope Currentuser 

Windows 10: Tips for Traveling with the OS

If you travel domestically or internationally with you Windows 10 computer. There are features and apps in the operating system that can be leveraged to make it easier being away from home or the office. As well as working offline

When planning your trip, several great travel apps and web sites from other companies are available that can be used to help you.  There are also several built-in Widows 10 apps and features, you can leverage to help you as well.

Use the following built-in functionality when traveling:
  • Make sure the Set time zone automatically option is enabled in the Settings app. This setting is located under Time and Language, Date & time.  It is worth noting that two additional time zones can be added to the system clock in the lower right corner, just click Add clocks for different time zones.  
  • In Windows Fall Creators edition, if you click on the date and time in the taskbar can see events from your calendar under Show agenda feature.
  • Use the Print to PDF feature to keep electronic copies of travel documents (i.e. airplane itinerary, hotel reservations, etc.). Otherwise take pictures of them with a smartphone, or scan them using another device and store them on the computer for easy access.
  • Cortana has many smarts around traveling and can help while abroad by answering your questions (such as what is the local time, weather, track lists, etc.) or make reservations.
  • The Mobile Hotspot feature (available under the Settings app) allows you to turn a wired connection into a wireless connection for your mobile device.
  • Sticky notes can help you track important information that you only need temporarily.
  • Use the Snipping tool or the print screen feature to copy information (i.e. pictures, maps, etc.) off the screen and paste it into OneNote for later use.
Use the following built-in apps when traveling:
  • Use Microsoft Edge for browsing web sites while you are while abroad. The browser also supports reading ebooks in PDF and ePUB format.  In Windows Fall Creators edition, you can markup ebooks by highlighting information and writing notes.
  • The Maps app can help you plan getting around while traveling; do not forget it supports downloading maps locally for offline use.
  • The News app provides the latest local and world breaking news.
  • The Weather app displays current local and world forecast information.
  • The Calendar app can help you manage your time and itineraries.
  • Use the Mail app for managing your mail while you are on the road.
  • The Alarms and Clock app can provide alarms and world time.
  • The Calculator app has a built-in currency conversion feature.
  • The Photos app is great for managing pictures, and performing basic cleanup of photographs. In Windows Fall Creators edition, you can convert your photographs into movies or create augmented reality special effects to them.
  • OneNote is a great way to organize all notes and other information about the trip. A little known feature of OneNote is that it can index the text in a photo, so it can make it searchable. 
  • An alternative to OneNote is the Notepad or WordPad and the Calculator app to provide basic note taking or the tracking of expenses.
  • The Movies and TV app can allow you to watched downloaded content while you are offline.
  • Use Groove Music for listening to your favorite music or podcasts.
  • Skype is great for staying in contact with your friends and family or making international calls while away from home.
Additional programs that can be downloaded from the Windows Store to help you while traveling.
  • Microsoft Translator can translate from on language to another.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Windows 10: App Windows Management

If you have a lot of windows open on the desktop and want to quickly bring them under control. Right-click the Taskbar and select:

  • Cascade windows (cascades stacks open windows)
  • Show windows stacked (stacks open Windows to best fit the screen)
  • Show windows side by side (arranges open Windows to best fit the screen).