Get your Groove back by making a Windows CD toaster!

 

  1. Press the Start button and type Media Player then click to open it.
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  2. In the Organize menu, select Options…
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  3. Select the Rip Music tab.
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  4. In your Microsoft OneDrive account, create a Music subfolder and set that as the location to save ripped music.
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  5. In the Rip settings section set the recording format and audio quality to your liking, but make sure the Rip CD automatically and Eject CD after ripping boxes are checked (this is what makes it act like a toaster!)
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  6. Install and run the Groove Music app on your Windows 10, Android, or iOS device (install from the Store if needed: https://www.microsoft.com/store/apps/9wzdncrfj3pt) and sign in using the same Microsoft Account you use for OneDrive.
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  8. Now just insert a CD in the drive and watch the magic!

 

Notes:

  1. You can set this up on any PC with OneDrive and Windows Media Player so you can rip music at home, at work, or on the go.
  2. You can also copy music files you’ve already ripped into the OneDrive – even upload them to your Music folder via OneDrive in your favorite web browser on any device.
  3. Keep in mind, once the song is ripped, it must be uploaded which depends on your Internet connection – but as long as you’re not in a hurry, the experience will be magical. I set it up for my Mom and she was able to master the process – now she has all of her favorite music wherever she goes.
  4. Anyone in select regions can do this for FREE, no subscription required. Here’s a list of the places this will work today:

Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States.

More info:

https://www.microsoft.com/groove/Onedrive

Cortana on Band 2 can’t reach your Phone

One of my favorite features of the Microsoft Band 2 is the voice link to Cortana – without having to un-pocket my phone.  Unfortunately, when I tried that, I got the following message.

Cortana: Sorry, I couldn't reach your phone...

Fortunately, a brief chat with MS Band Support led me to this elaborate but effective solution.

  1. Unregister the Band from within the Microsoft Health app (under My Microsoft Band in the hamburger menu [≡]).
  2. Remove the Band from your Bluetooth settings screen (tap and hold to Delete)
  3. Uninstall the Microsoft Health app
  4. Restart your phone (on Lumia 950 XL, press and hold power button until the phone vibrates – then release the power button and phone will re-start)
  5. Reinstall the Microsoft Health app
  6. Reset the Band (swipe to the Settings tile [⚙], swipe right to Power [⏻], swipe right to Reset Device and confirm your selection)
  7. Go through the Band set-up process

After this, I was able to issue voice commands to Cortana through my Band 2 again.

Update: I used the voice command feature at about 6p after resolving the issue around 1p, but by 10p when I tried to use it, the feature had failed again, displaying this message.

Update #2 (2016-04-07): I put some feelers out on common support sites for Band 2 and the Lumia 950 XL. 

Cortana on Band 2 can’t reach your Phone (answers.microsoft.com)

Cortana on Band 2 can’t reach your Phone (forums.windowscentral.com)

How often are you able to successfully use Cortana via Band 2? (Straw.pl)

How often are you able to successfully use Cortana via Band 2? (Reddit)

All I was able to learn, after several weeks, is that it’s a very common problem (which is an understatement).  At this time, here’s what we seem to have learned:

Band 2 Cortana works fine with iOS, Android, and Windows Phone 8.1 devices.

Band 2 Cortana doesn’t work with Windows 10 Mobile devices.

I took my fully updated Lumia 950 XL and Band 2 to my local MS store after scheduling an Answer Desk appointment.  I was told that this has been a known issue since November and that there seems to be very little discussion on it since then… it seems to have stalled.

Also, since my initial post, Band 2 and Microsoft Health apps have been updated and installing these updates have not resolved the issue.

It’s troubling to me that such core functionality of flagship products has gone unrepaired for six months!

Make Sure Bluetooth is on and your phone is close by

Update #3 (2016-06-09): Even though there have been several updates to Windows 10 Mobile (I’m now on Fast Ring), the Health App, and the Band 2 firmware, the problem still persists.  Rod Trent over at WinSuperSite.com has written the following article about the situation though:
Constant Problems with Windows 10 and Lumia 950 Make for Irate Microsoft Band Owners

Cortana and the future of Digital Assistants

A friend on Facebook asked “Do any of you use the voice system on your phone, and if so, what are your common uses?”

I use a lot of the base functionality of Cortana frequently such as setting reminders to remember to take things with me when I leave home – or remember to do things when I get to work – or remember to buy something when I’m near a particular store – or type of store.  Lots of managing one-offs or things that happen infrequently – like a reminder to change the furnace filter in 3 months.

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It’s great for kids.  I can say “You can play at the park for 10 more minutes” and then quickly set an alarm to go off when the time has elapsed.

I use the package tracking a lot, and directions (though I’ve been using Waze a lot lately and it doesn’t yet have Cortana support on Windows 10 Mobile – and is unlikely to improve because Google bought it and they’re trying to drive people to their platform).

I used the flight tracking to great effect when I volunteered to shuttle dignitaries to and from the airport for a large convention.  I could tell people if their flight was delayed and knew what gate to meet them at.

I use it for a lot of math or currency conversions (“What’s the price of Bitcoin in USD?”). Also dictionary and info like “Who is the CEO of Cisco?” or “When did Facebook start?”.

Since I have Cortana set to listen, I might be buttoning my shirt while getting ready for work and say “Hey Cortana, will it rain today?” and I get the answer.

Those are all things with enriched functionality and results – but anything else fails over to a search which is just a head-start on how most folks would find the answer anyway.

Using Cortana with apps

Two really cool things is that some apps tie in to Cortana – so I can have the Windows Central app read me the top tech news headlines – or the Skype app start a video call with someone.

She even ties into my fitness tracker (MS Band 2) and shows me a summary of my day’s activities, etc.  Plus I can ask Cortana things via the mic on my Band and get the results on the screen – considering all that she can do, it means that there are a lot fewer reasons to pull the phone out of my pocket.

Also, if you have Windows 10 (as I do on all devices) I can use Cortana on those devices to send SMS messages from my phone without fiddling with it.  I’d closely watch this space – more on it later.  She can also send emails without ever opening up an email app.

She can be set to respond to “Hey Cortana” prompts on PC as well as phone – and if both devices are within range she’ll do the task on both but seems smart enough not to make two copies of the task.

I also use her to track news items on topics of interest to me – such as news about political issues, technologies, companies I’m interested in, etc… and I see it in a useful summary form.  It’s a really good nexus to stay informed on the things I care about.

In summary, I use it a lot because there are a lot of little things I want to remember – but I don’t want them cluttering up my mind or my ToDo list until I need to do them.  If I forget something, it’s because I didn’t take the time to ask Cortana to remind me.

The future of digital assistants?

I do wish I could ask questions of Cortana and have the result sent to people who either don’t have Cortana or have it and ask me when they should be asking Cortana (my wife).  Maybe a feature like “Notify my Wife when I’m heading home for the night” or “Remind my Wife to have the left front tire checked for leaks next time she’s at the mechanic” – or even “Tell my Wife the weather forecast” (she already knows that what contact info to use for “my Wife”).

I’d also like to see interop with Siri and Google Now for tasks like “Find a good place and time to meet with my friend John Doe” then it’d maybe find places half-way between us, at venues we both like, that serve the kind of food we both like and fit into our schedules.  If I had a real assistant that’s the kind of thing I’d ask him/her to do most – and none of the digital assistants can “have my people talk to your people”.

Also, it’d be cool if Microsoft used the technology they developed for PowerShell to allow Cortana users to hand off computing tasks to the appropriate machine for the task at hand.

From your phone you could instruct your desktop PC (or several different desktops and tablets) to work together on a bandwidth or processor intensive task – then only send your phone the result. 

This kind of thing could get the job done much faster and save power and bandwidth by matching the right devices with the right tasks.

Adding attributes to HTML.EditorFor in MVC 5.1

I’ve been adding WAI-ARIA attributes to an ASP .NET MVC site lately (to enhance accessibility of the site) and it lead to some interesting research on how best to accomplish this.

One of the most prominent discussions is an MSDN blog entry from 2012 entitled “ASP.NET MVC: Adding aria-required attribute for required fields” by Stuart Leeks.

Stuart went into moredetail on supplying HTML attributes with EditorFor, and teamed up with his colleague Simon Ince to explain how to add HTML attributes in Templated Helpers such as EditorFor.

Fortunately, I found a better way thanks to a post on how to specify HTML Attributes in an EditorFor by AntonK on StackOverflow.com this December.  He also referenced the portion of the MVC 5.1 release notes where they explain that MVC now allows passing in HTML attributes in EditorFor as an anonymous object.

Here’s an example of how I used it to add an ARIA “aria=required” attribute:

@Html.EditorFor(model => model.City, new { htmlAttributes = new { @aria_required=”true” } })

@Html.ValidationMessageFor(model => model.City, “*”)

Note that the attribute is listed with an underscore, which MVC replaces with a hyphen.

I hope this helps!

Join me in celebrating “Lysander Spooner Day” on May 14th!

I propose that Americans observe Lysander Spooner Day on May 14th (a Thursday this year).

How?

By refusing any and all un-wanted mail!

I’ll get to the how in a moment, but I think it’d be a fitting tribute because Mr. Spooner thought that the US Postal Service was an unconstitutional monopoly – so he did what any good person would and responded by starting a competing company, the American Letter Mail Company.

The US Government responded to this competition by tying him up in court until he ran out of money and shuttered the company.

Fast forward about 170 years…

I just got done sorting through a pile of unread mail in my home.

It weighed 8.5 lbs (4kg)!

After sorting it into two piles, I found that 86% of the mail was unsolicited junk!

So here’s how to stop it.

The USPS Domestic Mail Manual section 508 part 1.1.3 “Refusal After Delivery” explains that Addressees may control delivery of their mail.

One way to do this is to write Refused near the postage (I’ve used a fat tipped fluorescent pink marker to great effect), then returning it to my mailbox with an indication that there is mail to be picked up.

When the letter carrier arrives, they see the mail piece, read the Refused note, and process it accordingly.

That’s all there is to it – and it takes a lot less of your valuable time and effort to write Refused on a letter (or you can use a Refused stamp) than it does to recycle the mail or throw it away.

Don’t you think that’d be a fitting remembrance for a guy who was bullied by the US Government?  If so, simply share this post with your friends, family, and most importantly – your neighbors!  This protest against Government bullying and junk mail will work best if people participate together.

I propose the hashtag #LysanderSpoonerDay in social media.  Please join me in spreading the word so that Lysander Spooner and the ideas he stood for are remembered across the nation.

All I ask is that you share a link to this page with your friends, and by all means, let me know if you’ll be participating!


Some of you might be wondering, “What happens if I do this for a while – will I get in trouble? Will my letter carrier get mad at me?” For the answer to those questions, I’ve detailed my experience with refusing United States Postal Service junk mail.

My experience with refusing United States Postal Service junk mail

Earlier today I discovered that I had 8.5 lbs. of mail in my house – none of it really important as evidenced by the fact that I ignore it to no ill effect for long stretches at a time – in this case, several months.

I had been refusing my mail using the process described in the USPS Domestic Mail Manual section 508 part 1.1.3 “Refusal After Delivery”.

But how did I get that much junk if I’m refusing it?  Well, I took a break because we added a new member to our family and I honestly didn’t have time to interact with mail at all – not even enough to refuse it.

But I did use this approach before for several months and here’s what happened.

At first, the mail simply disappeared.  This happened for a few weeks.  Then, one day when I wasn’t home, the letter carrier asked my wife a strange question.

Does your husband live here anymore?

My wife suspected something fishy and said that yes, of course I still lived here, and asked him what led to his question.

He said:

Oh, well, we’ve been getting a lot of mail addressed to him that is refused… so we’re going to assume that he doesn’t live here anymore and hold all of his mail.

Seriously? Threats?!? They didn’t like what I was doing so they were going to hold my mail hostage and make me go to their post office to beg for it – no doubt with a complimentary tongue lashing?

My wife responded that the mail man would need to discuss that with me first.

It took me a few days to catch my letter carrier to discuss it with him.

I asked him what the issue was and he explained that my refusal was causing a lot of confusion and frustration at the local post office.

Specifically, he was concerned that it was his sworn duty to deliver every piece of mail with proper postage to my house.

I explained that I did not in any way wish to interfere with anyone’s attempts to do so – only that, as documented in the Domestic Mail Manual, I would be exercising my authority to refuse any mail allowed by the policy.

He said that this left them in a bit of a pickle.

According to him, anything mailed first class would be sent back to the sender – at the sender’s expense (which is an easy way to use market forces to encourage organizations to stop sending junk mail – who wants to pay for useless junk mail?).

That was a hassle for them – but at least they knew what to do with it.

The problem was “bulk mail” that is delivered to everyone in an area as a service of the Postal Service.  Apparently they don’t have a process for returning it – and my junk mail was piling up in the post office.  Worse yet, they have strict policies against destroying or disposing of mail.

His proposal was that I continue to accept delivery of mail as before – and continue expending time and energy processing it as garbage or recycling.

I expressed that I was simply trying to simplify my life, and that while I planned to deal with any requested mail, the junk mail was tantamount to someone stopping by each day and littering in my living room.

I explained that I was unsympathetic to the concern that the perpetrators of this littering would now have to shoulder 100% of the burden for the trouble they’ve caused me and countless other Americans for years.

Since I have nothing against my letter carriers or US Postal Service employees personally, I notified him that I opted out of “bulk mail” and that as a result he would no longer have to shoulder my mail both to my home, and back to the post office after I had refused it.

Unfortunately, he was unwilling to accept my proposal, once again admonishing me that he was bound by sacred trust to deliver every fake foreign lottery winning notice some fraudster felt like sending.

I also explained that, perhaps he could obtain some relief by asking the USPS to amend the Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) or other policies to address his concerns.  It was a real shame that people reading and following the instructions in the DMM were causing so many internal issues – but those were issues between the USPS and it’s employees, and as a customer there was little I could do about them.

Disappointed, he smiled and said that his supervisor would be paying me a visit and I responded by sharing my schedule so she could catch me on a weekday when I was home.

Unfortunately, I have yet to discuss the matter with a supervisor as none have ever attempted to contact me.

So, there you have it… refusing mail in compliance with DMM guidelines may result in threats and attempts to coerce you to stop, but so far I have not explored the limits of adhering to this approach in the long run, so my apologies if it results in less favorable outcomes in your particular case.

How to Set Messenger to Auto Sign-In

  1. Press the Xbox button on your controller (the round silver button with the green “x” on it) to bring up the Xbox Guide.
  2. Navigate to the Settings tab on the far right.
  3. Select the Profile option at the top of the list.
  4. Select Sign-in Preferences near the middle of the list.
  5. In the Messenger Auto Sign-In section, select either On or Off, then press the Xbox button to return to the screen you started from.

Using this method you can set your Profile Auto Sign-In as well as your Messenger sign-in status. The benefit of auto sign-on with messenger is that any friends with Messenger on their phones or computers will see that you are playing Xbox and be more inclined to join you for a gaming session. Smile