Posted by: kurtsh | September 9, 2014

NEWS: Surface Pro 3’s System Firmware Updates for 9/9/14

imageMicrosoft is releasing important driver/firmware updates for Surface Pro 3 today (Sept 9th) that may address some of the issues users have experienced.  These updates will be available via Windows Update ~10am, PST and for download shortly thereafter.  The following updates will be listed as “System Firmware Update – 9/9/2014” within the Windows Update History:

Note  When Surface updates are provided via the Windows Update service, they are delivered in stages to Surface customers. As a result, not every Surface will receive the update at the same time, but the update will be delivered to all devices. If you have not received the update then please manually check Windows Update later.

  • Surface Pro UEFI update (v improves system experience and enhances overall system stability, including Wi-Fi.
  • Surface Pro Embedded Controller Firmware update (v enhanced support for system performance and user experience, including adjustments to the thermal tuning.
  • Surface Pro System Aggregator Firmware update (v 3.9.350.0) increases the overall system reliability and compatibility with a Surface cover.
  • Surface Integration driver update (v 2.0.1102.0) enhances user experience, including Wi-Fi stability.
  • Surface Wi-Fi and Bluetooth driver update (v 15.68.3055.107) improves Wi-Fi/ Bluetooth reliability and system stability, and significantly enhances the user experience.

Users can update immediately by going into PC Settings, Update and Recovery, select the box for “Check for updates from Microsoft Update”.

imageIn case you hadn’t heard, for a limited time, (from now until Oct. 6) if you purchase a new Surface Pro 3 through the official Microsoft Store you will receive a free one year subscription to New York Times Crossword.  This is $39 value.

The NYT Crossword app is special.  It enables the player to:

  • Handwrite their answers into the crossword using the Surface Pro 3 stylus
  • Circle their writing and have it converted to text
  • Play the actual crossword published in the NYT that day
  • Go back and download archives of the NYT crossword from the past month

So if already have a Surface Pro 3 from the store… congratulations!  Download the Windows 8 app and start wracking your brain on “what the heck is a 7 letter word for ‘donut’?”

(If you don’t have a Surface Pro 3 from the store, you can still download and play NYT Crossword mini-puzzle for free daily)


Original post:

Posted by: kurtsh | September 4, 2014

Been Out Fishing. Just got back.

imageSeriously.  I’ve been out fishing, zip-lining, wine-tasting, hiking, and doing a number of other wonderful activities with my family while on vacation.  We’re also starting a new school year for my son and with the new fiscal year kicking in here at Microsoft, I haven’t had the chance to post in a while… obviously.

Yeah, I know.  Weak sauce.  But I’m planning on getting back on the horse this next week.  See you then, if not sooner.

* Yes, that’s a photo of the ONE fish I caught.  Actually, it wasn’t even me.  It was a little 8 year old girl in the same pontoon I was in… but we’ll keep that a secret between you & me, okay?

imageAdmittedly, until recently, something I’ve struggled with is using OneNote for my Todo lists. 

Until recently I still typed “notepad” into a command line to quick jot ideas down.  It was easy to get things I needed to remember down in text this way.  The problem is that I’d often forget about the notes and if I rebooted my laptop or closed the notepad window, I’d lose everything with no hope of data recovery, since Notepad doesn’t autosave.  OneNote seemed like the perfect solution but frequently getting to a Todo list in OneNote amongst all my pages was laborious & frustrating.

I learned how to create shortcuts into specific OneNote pages and that has revolutionized my life.  Anywhere in Windows, I now use “CTRL-ALT-X” and it immediately takes me to my Todo list in OneNote – the same Todo list that’s synced across my tablet, my PC and my phone.

Here’s how I did it:

  1. Open OneNote.  Select a page you want to link to.
  2. Right click the page tab and select the “Copy link to page” menu item.
        1. If your Notebook is synced to OneDrive, what you just copied is a bunch of text representing two links: 
          One for the ONLINE OneDrive version of your OneNote page (which begins with https:)…
          the other for the LOCAL OneNote page (which begins with onenote:)  Paste the link into NotePad and you’ll see something like this:


        2. Copy the section that begins with “onenote:”, as underlined above.  Do not copy the “&end”.
  3. Switch to your desktop. 
  4. Create a shortcut & paste the OneNote page hyperlink into it.  Name the shortcut something like “Todo list”.  Click Finish.
  5. Right click on the Shortcut icon you just created.  Choose properties.
  6. Click the “Shortcut key” textbox.  Press the keyboard shortcut you’d like such as “CTRL-ALT-X”.
  7. Click Ok.

That’s it.  From now on, anytime you need to enter a Todo item, you can hit CTRL-ALT-X and it will take you to your OneNote Todo page.

Posted by: kurtsh | August 7, 2014

INFO: Explaining the cloud… through Pizza

A coworker, Lee Reese, passed this on to me.  It’s a humorous explanation of what the cloud is at differing levels of control.  For those that don’t get the differences between PaaS, IaaS, and SaaS:


Posted by: kurtsh | August 7, 2014

HOWTO: Delete a partition on a USB Thumb Drive

Found this neat set of instructions on how to repartition & reformat a USB thumb drive without any additional utilities or tools from the command prompt using DiskPart that I thought I’d share.  (And I’m basically posting this to make sure I can find it again in the future.)

From a command prompt in Windows:

1. From Command prompt type diskpart

2.Within Diskpart, use the List Disk command to check which disk the USB device is. The USB device should be obvious; in my case, it’s the 14GB disk.

DISKPART> list disk

  Disk ###  Status         Size     Free     Dyn  Gpt

  ——–  ————-  ——-  ——-  —  —

  Disk 0    Online          232 GB  1024 KB

  Disk 1    Online          149 GB      0 B

  Disk 2    Online          149 GB  7168 KB

* Disk 3    Online           14 GB      0 B

3 Once the disk is known, select the disk and run the rest of the displayed commands (change "disk 3" to the number of your disk):

DISKPART> select disk 3

Disk 3 is now the selected disk.


DiskPart succeeded in cleaning the disk.

DISKPART> create partition primary

DiskPart succeeded in creating the specified partition.

DISKPART> select partition 1

Partition 1 is now the selected partition.

DISKPART> active

DiskPart marked the current partition as active.

DISKPART> format fs=ntfs quick

100 percent completed

DiskPart successfully formatted the volume.

DISKPART> assign

DiskPart successfully assigned the drive letter or mount point.


(taken from

imageIn case you missed it, Omer Atay, a developer on the OneNote team released an addin to OneNote called “OneTastic”:

Here’s a look at Onetastic, an add-in to enhance OneNote functionality with a set of built-in features and an extensible macro processor that allows you to download and modify macros and add new ones yourself.

Onetastic features will light up in the Home tab as well as some right-click menus. When you install the add-in, you will see the following buttons added to your Home tab:


Included in OneTastic are:

  • OneCalendar – A standalone application which provides a calendar view into your notes.
  • Favorites – A feature that allows you to bookmark your frequently used pages or sections into the Ribbon, or pin them to your desktop or any folder you choose
  • Custom Styles – The ability to create new customized styles and apply them to quickly format your text.
  • Image Crop – An item is added to the image right-click menu that allows you to crop a selected image.
  • Select Text from Image – Select a small part of the text within an image and copy it instead of converting ALL the text in an image which is the out-of-box behavior.
  • Rotate/Flip Printouts – Easily rotate a printout that is inserted in the wrong orientation.
  • Macros and Macroland – Onetastic has a macro processor and editor which allows you to build macros to perform routine tasks with one click. Macros can create pages and modify page content, like inserting outlines, paragraphs, and tables. If you think this is complicated, don’t worry. Onetastic ships with lots of built-in macros and also features Macroland, where you can download more macros. Following are the built-in macros you can find, which notably include another frequently requested feature called Search & Replace.

Here’s a video that shows these features:

Work Smart: OneNote for Pros: Welcome to Onetastic


For more information, visit the announcement blogs and download the add-in here:

New free eBook for Azure developers!

imageGreetings! We’re happy to release a free ebook today: Building Cloud Apps with Microsoft Azure: Best practices for DevOps, data storage, high availability, and more, by Scott Guthrie, Mark Simms, Tom Dykstra, Rick Anderson, and Mike Wasson.

You can download all formats (PDF, Mobi and ePub) at the Microsoft Virtual Academy.

This ebook walks you through a patterns-based approach to building real-world cloud solutions. The patterns apply to the development process as well as to architecture and coding practices.

The content is based on a presentation developed by Scott Guthrie and delivered by him at the Norwegian Developers Conference (NDC) in June of 2013 (part 1, part 2), and at Microsoft Tech Ed Australia in September 2013 (part 1, part 2). Many others updated and augmented the content while transitioning it from video to written form.

Who should read this book

Developers who are curious about developing for the cloud, are considering a move to the cloud, or are new to cloud development will find here a concise overview of the most important concepts and practices they need to know. The concepts are illustrated with concrete examples, and each chapter includes links to other resources that provide more in-depth information. The examples and the links to additional resources are for Microsoft frameworks and services, but the principles illustrated apply to other web development frameworks and cloud environments as well.

Developers who are already developing for the cloud may find ideas here that will help make them more successful. Each chapter in the series can be read independently, so you can pick and choose topics that you’re interested in.

Anyone who watched Scott Guthrie’s "Building Real World Cloud Apps with Windows Azure" presentation and wants more details and updated information will find that here.

Read more or download the books here:

imageOffice Lens for Windows Phone is a tool that, using the phone’s camera & OneNote as a photo store, allows you to capture:

  • Whiteboards
  • Documents
  • Presentation slides

What I want to talk about is capturing projected presentation slides in presentations you are present in because this is a feature that is really excellent and I don’t think it’s fully realized by everyone that has it.

Here’s basically how you capture slides you see projected during meetings:

  • Start Office Lens.  This will turn on your camera.  I recommend turning off the flash by tapping the “lightning bolt” symbol until it is “crossed out”.  I also recommend setting the app to “whiteboard” by touching the icon in the upper right hand corner, which will toggle between “photo”, “document”, and “whiteboard”.
  • Aim your camera at the slide you wish to capture.  The application will automatically attempt to frame the slide using dynamically generated vector lines, setting photo borders.  This may be helpful, but don’t worry about this.
  • Touch the screen image, specifically on the image of the slide you wish to capture.  This will change the brightness & contrast required to focus on the slide and take the photo.  This is very important to reduce glare & eliminate projector light ‘hotspots’. The captured image will appear on the screen.
  • Touch the “framing” icon near the top, if you need to change the boundaries of the slide within the image.  This will allow you to set the borders of the presentation slide that you are capturing.  4 user-adjustable corners allow you rubber band the slide visually if it hasn’t already been “locked on to” via the applications whiteboard auto-detection intelligence.
  • Acknowledge your framing by touching the “save/floppy disk image”.  The slide should be captured as an image.  Your Windows Phone camera roll will store BOTH the original image as well as just the rubber banded slide image as separate photos. 

The images will be stored, saved, and replicated to your OneNote workbook.  A single page will be added to the “Quick Notes” section of your cloud connected OneNote workbook.

Here’s a video on using Office Lens on YouTube:


(taken from

Just announced:

Today, we are excited to announce the general availability of Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET) 5.0. EMET is a free tool, designed to help customers with their defense in depth strategies against cyberattacks, by helping block and terminate the most common techniques adversaries might use in comprising systems. EMET 5.0 further helps to protect with two new mitigations, and with new capabilities giving customers additional flexibility on their deployments.

EMET helps to protect systems, even before new and undiscovered threats are formally addressed by security updates and antimalware software.

Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit–A Customer’s Perspective

Read more here:

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