Win 10 Tips ‘n hints – easy photo editing VIDEO

I’m trying something new – videos of various tips and hints for Windows 10 users.  I started thinking about doing this as an aid to my customers and decided to go full bore and load them up to YouTube and share them with my readers.

First episode: Easy editing with Windows 10 built in Photo App.  You can go directly to YouTube and see it there if you prefer.

If you have an idea for a future video, leave a comment.



Bing Maps – all grown up

Bing Maps – all grown up

Bing maps has been a utilitarian map for awhile but the new beta shows an all grown up feel to the site.  It has all the useful tools, but the improvements are impressive. The feature I like the best is the ability to sync my saved sites between my devices. So, if I’m at home, looking for an address and directions, I can save it on my laptop and it will appear on my phone or tablet. When you’re traveling about the city as much as I do, this is a welcome feature.

The interface is cleaner, less cluttered feeling. When you’re working off a small screen, this is a relief. It still has the directions feature, which will tap into local transit. As well, when available, it will still help find a transit route between cities. What I did notice is a far more sophisticated traffic alert system.

Bing Maps preview

When I mapped a route between Toronto and Burlington, up popped a warning about heavy traffic. A revised travel time estimate was offered. Looking down the list, it even showed where the slowdowns were and how heavy the traffic was. The old Bing simply acknowledged slow traffic but didn’t offer a detailed breakdown.

If you flip over to the public transit directions, as with the previous version, you get detailed instructions and a number of choices.  Most of the cities I tried did seamlessly show transit options. But not all cities supply transit info, so it’s a bit hit and miss. It still lists Via Rail options so it takes a lot of the humbug out of plotting a trip.

There is a better date choice now. You can drop down a calendar, tap the date and adjust the time to adjust your depart date with far less fuss.

One feature Microsoft did correct was the infuriating default that threw the address into the business/name category rather than the location search bar.

Balzacs on Bing Map

Bing now uses one integrated search box rather than forcing the user to cut and paste ever search. That’s a “feature” that won’t be missed.

The  detailed view is nicer, from a purely visual point of view. Here’s my favourite hiding spot in the city – Balzac’s coffe across from St. Lawrence Market. Bing pops up it’s location, reviews, photos and business hours. The old Bing did much the same, but the interface always felt too cramped and cluttered so I didn’t use it much. This is fresh, clean and much more information is offered.

If you are taking a road trip, you now have the option of calling up “search nearby” to find interesting sites to see along your way.  I’ll be testing that out in the next few weeks and will let you know if I stumble across anything fascinating.

As expected, it will also be fully integrated with Cortana and is Windows 10 ready. Overall, a much needed makeover with some excellent new features. If you want to test drive the new Bing Maps, go to Bing, click on maps. Click on the link “Try the new Bing maps” for full access.



Biometrics coming to Windows 10

Microsoft unveiled new security features for Windows 10. One of the most intriguing is their biometric start-up page. When you log into Windows now  you can setup a password or (in the case of 8.1) a 4 digit pin number. The new OS will take advantage of biometrics and facial recognition to keep your computer secure. In keeping with Microsoft’s “let’s choose a dorky name” policy, it will be called “Windows Hello”. Ok, ok, It’s a lot better than “Charm Bar” so I’ll let them have that.

The new biometrics will work with either a finger swipe, facial recognition or iris to unlock your Win 10 device. The facial and iris recognition will use infrared to detect your features. That means a 2 dimensional photo won’t trigger off the device. Unless it’s you and/or your eye, Hello won’t unlock.  The benefits of recognition and iris technology is, it’s a lot harder to fake out. It’s pretty easy to look over someone’s shoulder and scoop a 4 digit pin number. It’s even easier to crack a password if you know anything about the user. I’m constantly surprised, and dismayed, by the number of folks who use 12345678 or Password123 and swear “no one else will ever figure that out”.

I tried to find out if a strong eyeglass prescription will screw with the iris biometrics, but couldn’t find anything solid. I suspect, it will be simpler to take off your glasses when setting it up.  Of course this means any device you use will have to have the necessary hardware installed to make it work. It won’t be backwards compatible, so if your existing laptop or smart phone doesn’t have fingerprint reader or biometric hardware already installed, you won’t be able to use Hello or Passport.

Hello will work with a new feature, code named Passport, which will allow you to access password protected websites. Once Passport is authenticated through Hello, you’ll be able to access password protected websites without in anything, They’ll be unlocked via facial/iris scan. This is welcome news for people with disabilities. I have a number of customers with arthritis in their hands and shoulders, which limits how much they do. Being able to bypass typing in passwords would be a huge welcome.

New browser for Windows 10 – Spartan

The cat is out of the bag. This week, ZDNET reported Microsoft will be unveiling a new browser for Windows 10. Although IE11 will still ship with the new OS, MS will likely be debuting Spartan, their leaner, (hopefully) faster browser as well.

Despite what many tech bloggers love to claim, IE is still widely used around the world. With approx 56%(see Market share research) of the market share, it’s still a player. I shake my head everytime I read a blogger claiming “no one uses IE” or “it’s usage is so low, it’s not worth designing for”.  IE isn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, an excellent browser, but it is servicable and people stick with what they are familiar with. People have learned to live with it’s quirks.

Early leaked report say Spartan should be leaner, faster and more stable than the venerable IE. It should also be compatible with IE, which hopefully means people can import all their settings with no hassles. One of my major complaints about IE is the amount of bloat it comes with now, so a spartan browser would be refreshing. Early days yet, but hopefully the reports are true. One big note  – it’s supposed to be compatible with Windows 10 tablets which would be a relief for RT users stuck with IE.

We’ll have to wait and see if Microsoft shows off the browser in January 21 Win 10 big reveal.

If Microsoft is listening – make it compatible with Surface RT out now. We really need a viable alternative to IE on our tablets.