So Long Quicktime, It was fun.

We’re recommending you remove the Quicktime Player from any machines you have it installed on.

It was a not so “quick” ride that has come to an end. Windows 8 & 10 haven’t played well with Quicktime anyway. In fact the plugin was deactivated with the last Quicktime update received this past January. Trend Micro recently discovered two major security flaws in the software. When they reported it to Apple they were told that there would be no more development of the product and the solution was to simply remove the product from your Windows machines. This came as a surprise because there had been no announcement about depreciating the software. As reported by The Register:

“We’re not aware of any active attacks against these vulnerabilities currently. But the only way to protect your Windows systems from potential attacks against these or other vulnerabilities in Apple QuickTime now is to uninstall it,” said Christopher Budd, global threat communications manager at Trend Micro, on Thursday.

“In this regard, QuickTime for Windows now joins Microsoft Windows XP and Oracle Java 6 as software that is no longer being updated to fix vulnerabilities, and subject to ever-increasing risk as more and more unpatched vulnerabilities are found affecting it.”

The flaws were reported to Apple on November 11, 2015, and acknowledged the same day by Cupertino. The following March, Apple told Trend Micro that “the product would be deprecated on Windows and the vendor would publish removal instructions for users.”

There’s a whole new world of video playing available these days from Flash (also a security headache) to the HTML5 standard. It’s time to upgrade from XP (also depreciated and unpatched) and make the leap to a newer system. Yes, there’s a learning curve but that’s true no matter what you buy.

Have Evernote files you want to transfer to OneNote?

I still maintain that OneNote is the best FREE tool you’re not using. Especially if you have a touch or pen device — but any device will do. There’s a OneNote App for that (really!). One of the arguments against switching over to OneNote was the lack of ability to move those files over easily. Well, here goes that argument.

Microsoft has released a tool that will import your Evernote files into OneNote from the Evernote Plus ($25/yr) and Evernote Premium ($50/yr). No word on the ability to import from the Basic (free) or Business ($120/yr/user) versions.

This is version 1 of the tool, so I’m sure there will be glitches and imperfections. I would also anticipate that, if successful, the tool will be upgraded to include all versions. In order to use this new tool, you’ll need Windows 7 or later. There currently is no Mac version of the converter tool.

Once you’ve run the tool, the files you import will be available across all devices (Win, Mac, iOS, and Android). Microsoft offers up a graph with the features gained by doing the import.

Microsoft also provides more details on how to use OneNote importer on this support page.

Remember – -this is a Version 1 tool. Your mileage may vary — but I still suggest you do it!

Source: Mary Jo Foley from All About Microsoft

Microsoft announces new tool to help Enterprises fight the Bad Guys

Windows Defender Advanced Threat Detection is the new tool being released by Microsoft to help Enterprises to fend off cyberattacks. Like its “Daddy” Windows Defender, it will be “baked in” to Windows 10 and will therefore be updated on a regular basis with the rest of the Operating System. The new tool is designed to detect advanced attacks and provide response recommendations. It will work in concert with Microsoft Advanced Threat Detection Solutions like Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection and Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics.

Microsoft says this tool is already “protecting 500,000 endpoints”.

Just like we developed Windows 10 with feedback from millions of Windows Insiders, we worked with our most advanced enterprise customers to address their biggest security challenges, including attack investigations and day-to-day operations, to test our solution in their environments. Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection is already live with early adopter customers that span across geographies and industries, and the entire Microsoft network, making it one of the largest running advanced threat protection services.

This does look like a promising tool. It is always nice to have a “fresh set of eyes” keeping and eye on the Bad Guys.


Be careful with your App downloads

CBS News did a piece this morning on how the Bad Guys are using Apps to steal your data and money. Games, Flashlight Apps, etc. all generally ask for WAY more permissions than they need.

Be careful. Be aware.

How Microsoft Surface and the App StaffPad are empowering music creativity

Lead photo: Eleven-year-old composer Garrett Weyenberg, right, and StaffPad creator David William Hearn are pictured in Angel Studios in London on Jan. 29, 2016. Photo by David Palmer.

From Microsoft News:

The songs began when Garrett Weyenberg was 2 and would climb onto a piano bench and make up little tunes, each an ode to things like snowmen or peaches. By ages 5 and 6, he was composing full, intricate songs, sometimes scooting his entire body along the piano to play multiple octaves.

By age 10 last year, Garrett finished an eight-minute piece called “Sonatina in G Major,” a lively work in three movements that won a regional composition contest. It was just one song in a vast oeuvre of original music, built from a lifetime of melodies flowing from Garrett’s head. But until recently, he had no easy way to write his musical thoughts, no practical means of saving his music and sharing it with others to play.

That all changed when Garrett turned 11. He got a Surface Pro 3 for his birthday and started using StaffPad, a notation app that lets users handwrite music and save it for editing, playback and sharing. Designed for Microsoft Surface, the groundbreaking app uses the device’s pen-and-touch technology for a natural, tactile experience, and combines it with modern tools in handwriting recognition, orchestral playback and score editing.

“I like that it’s really simple and intuitive. I can just jot down ideas and it’s easy for me to get a song down now,” said Garrett from his home in McKinney, Texas. He can now write music wherever he is – at a piano or in the car – and his scores are saved in OneDrive for seamless syncing and access across devices.

Garrett recently flew to London to meet the creator of StaffPad, David William Hearn, a composer and music producer known for his work in TV and movies, from “Friday Night Lights” to “Les Misérables.” After Garrett’s mom emailed Hearn about StaffPad, the meeting arose as a way for Garrett to meet the man behind his favorite app, and for the maker to meet a young musician empowered by his creation. The two worked on one of Garrett’s songs in a session filmed for a new video by Microsoft.

“He’s obviously a very talented kid, very musical,” said Hearn, who’s based in London. He’s thrilled that StaffPad, available exclusively in the Windows Store, enables creativity in musicians around the world, from kids like Garrett to retired hobbyists to professional composers.

“It’s amazing how far-reaching music is,” he said. “There’s so many people writing music, so many people creating, which is just such a lovely thing. It goes so far beyond what I thought we could achieve with the app.”

Hearn was inspired to create StaffPad while working on a film score and wishing there was a way to make quick edits with other musicians, instead of having to go back to his studio and fire up his computer. He also wanted to return to the ease of handwriting music and evolve it with technology.

“There’s nothing more natural and fluid than picking up a pen and writing down your musical thoughts,” said Hearn. “It was really an idea of how we could push written music forward.”

StaffPad converts handwritten notes into a beautiful typeset score, with no mouse, keyboard or complicated notation software to fiddle with. The app’s simple interface enables musicians to focus on music and not technology, and Surface tablets deliver a smooth, mobile and productive experience.

“Before StaffPad, I was really just sort of chained to the desk,” said Hearn. “It’s great to have the option to move away from the computer and get outside, or sit down at the piano and just write as you would on paper.”

Recently updated for Windows 10, StaffPad now has a handy “Composer Assistant” that knows voice commands to add woodwinds or change the key signature. And Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform means StaffPad works on the 84-inch Surface Hub, a great educational tool Hearn is using with the Royal Academy of Music in London on new ways to teach music in a lecture hall.

Before Garrett had StaffPad, his mom used to record hours of video of him playing piano, so that he could later score his music. But notating was so tedious that it rarely happened. It took Garrett a year to write his seven-page “Sonatina in G Major,” a feat he said would now take a week or two with StaffPad and Surface.

“He is composing music in his mind daily,” said Garrett’s mother, Stephanie Weyenberg. “StaffPad truly has been the game changer for him.”

When a medical condition left Garrett in excruciating pain in recent weeks, writing music was an emotional balm, and the technology enabled him to write from bed. It’s helped deepen his love for music as a form of expression and a way to connect with others.

“It’s kind of cool for me that other people could play something that originally I was thinking,” he said.

For Microsoft, StaffPad highlights the power of technology – from natural touch input to Surface Pen precision —to help people young and old express creativity in new ways.

“We’re so inspired by Garrett’s passion and use of StaffPad’s powerful capabilities, the way David envisioned for every professional, educator, student or individual,” said Mona Cao, product marketing manager for Surface.

“It’s digital creation at its best.”

Story by:  Vanessa Ho, Microsoft News Center Staff

iPhone “Error 53”: a “feature” that bricks your phone


What is “Error 53”?

This “feature” effects any iPhone that has the fingerprint sensor in the home button. It does not matter if you don’t use the fingerprint function — there’s a chip built into the home button cable that is synchronized with the main logic board. If that chip or cable is damaged, the home button works fine (without fingerprint). BUT the next time you upgrade the iOS the phone ends up in an endless boot loop. Why? Because the logic board asks the chip “you out there?” and if there’s no response (because the chip is damaged) the phone locks down to “protect your security.” In a stunningly brilliant move rather than have a useful “this is why it’s not working” message pop up, the cryptic “Error 53” rears its ugly head.

Why should you care?

Ever broken your screen? If the “3rd party” tech fixing it isn’t extra careful you could be carrying around a $600+ iBrick at your next update. The idea here is that Apple wants you to bring in your phone to Apple for repair. Then they can pressure you to upgrade or repair/replace the device for a kingly sum (it IS Apple and that IS what they do.)

I have personal experience with this “feature.”

Because I repair screens on phones, I ran into this “feature” shortly after the i6’s were released. I ended up replacing two i6 phones for customers because I damaged the home button cable. At that time, Apple Support had no way to “fix” the issue — at least that was the story I received from them at the time. They initially quoted me $300 for the home button repair (A new phone was $700 then) before deciding that they couldn’t help me at all. There is no insurance for small devices like phones for techs — I had to pay for the phones out of pocket. Ouch.

It gets worse

It would seem that “Error 53” is coming up for people that have never had their phones repaired or cropping up much later after a repair was made. Apple’s justification for this is (as sent to ZD Net):

“We take customer security very seriously and Error 53 is the result of security checks designed to protect our customers. iOS checks that the Touch ID sensor in your iPhone or iPad correctly matches your device’s other components. If iOS finds a mismatch, the check fails and Touch ID, including for Apple Pay use, is disabled. This security measure is necessary to protect your device and prevent a fraudulent Touch ID sensor from being used. If a customer encounters Error 53, we encourage them to contact Apple Support.”

The thing is — you can’t just swap the home button and have the fingerprint move with it. The fingerprint data is stored on the logic board of the phone. There appear to be no “smarts” in the home button chip that store any information other than how to read a fingerprint and to “phone home” to the logic board. If you swap the button, all you get is a fingerprint-less “regular” home button. iFixit tested this.

And the lawyers salivate

In what should be a surprise to no one, Apple is currently being slapped with a bunch of class action lawsuits. I don’t think this type of action is necessary, but it might be the only way to get Apple to figure out a better way to handle this “feature.” Or (and probably more likely) it will encourage them to “dig in” and fight all the way. That helps no one. Including Apple.


For a really nice Q&A layout to the Error 53 issue, check out this article by  of ZDNet:

Here’s the link to iFixit’s Investigation of Error 53:

Microsoft Fetch! guesses the breed of your dog — or what breed you are.


Microsoft Garage recently released a fun new iPhone App — Fetch!

It’s Joey and Fletcher Approved — it correctly identified their breeds even though I purposely took *terrible* pictures of them. Their faces were mostly covered as they slept. I haven’t had the nerve to find out if I belong in their “pack.” 🙂

From the Microsoft Press Release:

Man’s best friend has inspired a new app – Fetch! Using your iPhone camera or photo library, it can identify and classify dogs by breeds and tell you what kind of human personality fits best with specific breeds. And just for fun, the app will even take an informed guess on what kind of dog you or your friends might be.

Released through the Microsoft Garage just in time for the American Kennel Club’s Meet & Compete and the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, this mobile app demonstrates the potential for Microsoft  researchers’ continued advances in artificial intelligence, which have already appeared in other playful ways through Microsoft Project Oxford-powered experiences such as and Mimicker Alarm. In Fetch!, Project Oxford works together with some powerful new machine learning technology to deliver interesting results for all kinds of photos.

“There was an interest in creating a framework that would allow you to take a domain – in our case, dogs – and recognize numerous classes, such as breeds. We were interested in enabling an app to allow you to make object recognition extraordinary, fun and surprising,” says Mitch Goldberg, a development director at Microsoft Research whose Cambridge, U.K based team built the experience. His team works at the intersection of user experience, machine learning, computer vision and more recently, intelligent cloud services. He’s also had two German shepherd dogs, though now he has a cat. “We wanted to bring artificial intelligence to the canine world. We wanted to show that object recognition is something anyone could understand and interact with.”

Fetch! is designed for repeat use, and after giving it a couple tries, it’s easy to see how addictive it can be. You start with your dog, or your friends’ dogs. If the dog’s breed is unknown, the app will show a percentage of the closest breed. Tapping the percentage rosette leads to the top five breeds that could be in the dog. Clicking on the arrow in the corner leads you to more information on the breed.

“If you want to take photos of dogs, it will tell you what dog breed it is, if it’s one of our supported breeds,” Goldberg says. “If I choose to take a photograph of a flower, it’ll say, ‘No dogs found! Hmmm… This looks more like…flower?’ But if you take a picture of a person, it’ll kick into its hidden fun mode. And in a playful way, it’ll communicate to you not only what type of dog it thinks you are, but also why. It’s fun to see if the app knows it’s not a dog. A lot of the time, it’ll tell you what that image is. When there’s not a dog, you still want to use it.”

No two pictures yield the same result. You could resemble a Doberman Pinscher in one photo (sunglasses, no makeup) or a Pekingese (no glasses, makeup) in another. If you photograph an inanimate object, it might tell you, “No dogs found!” and make an informed guess at what it is.

If you like what you see, you can share the image on your social networks and through email.


Windows 10 UPGRADE should always be FREE.


Paul Thurrott does an outstanding job laying out the case of why the Windows 10 Upgrade should always be free.

I think that Microsoft will do the right thing. And today, I’d like to make the case that this is the only correct outcome. It is in fact, “the only outcome.”

That Microsoft gets that the world has moved on is obvious: They’ve evolved Windows into an always-updated modern monstrosity, and Windows 10 is now updated as if it were a simpler mobile OS or a cloud service. Yes, there are some fits and stops along the way, but this first year is all about making that transition.

Given this, it doesn’t make sense to return the Windows 10 upgrade to the paid model from the past. That is, once you’ve paid for Windows—by getting it with a new PC, usually—you’re entitled to free upgrades for the life of that device, just as you are (basically) on Android and iOS. The passage of 12 months of time doesn’t change that at all: If a customer still using (the still supported) Windows 7 in August 2016, or January 2017, or whatever, wants to upgrade to Windows 10, it is still in Microsoft’s best interests that that happen. And it should be as frictionless as possible. It should be free.

I agree. It’s the most logical decision. We’re moving to a subscription based, always on and in the cloud economy. Apple has already somewhat embraced this — it’s the model we’re all using for our smartphones already.

Data in the clouds or under the sea?

A New York Times article published on 1/31/16 highlights a new data center project from one of Microsoft’s Research groups called NExT (New Experiences and Technologies) that is solving a big data center problem (heat) with the cool ocean waters.

Today’s data centers, which power everything from streaming video to social networking and email, contain thousands of computer servers generating lots of heat. When there is too much heat, the servers crash.

Putting the gear under cold ocean water could fix the problem. It may also answer the exponentially growing energy demands of the computing world because Microsoft is considering pairing the system either with a turbine or a tidal energy system to generate electricity.

The effort, code-named Project Natick, might lead to strands of giant steel tubes linked by fiber optic cables placed on the seafloor. Another possibility would suspend containers shaped like jelly beans beneath the surface to capture the ocean current with turbines that generate electricity.

The experiment was a success — so much so that they extended the time and even ran some commercial data processing projects from the Azure cloud service.

The first prototype, affectionately named Leona Philpot — a character in Microsoft’s Halo video game series — has been returned, partly covered with barnacles, to the company’s corporate campus here.

It is a large white steel tube, covered with heat exchangers, with its ends sealed by metal plates and large bolts. Inside is a single data center computing rack that was bathed in pressurized nitrogen to efficiently remove heat from computing chips while the system was tested on the ocean floor.

This type of experiment leads to many other exciting options — better server hardware (can’t send a tech in the middle of the night to fix them under the sea), greener power (tidal wave generation, enhanced hardware power efficiency), etc.

It’s entirely possible that in the near future when you’re using the “cloud” you might actually be “under the sea.”