Fixing Google Home Broadcast

When setting up Google Home Broadcast recently, it worked fine from my Android device, but when I tried sending a broadcast from one of the speakers, I got an error reporting that there were no other speakers on the network.

After chatting with Google Support they were a little confused, but after calling back a second time and trying a few things, we arrived at the fix of factory resetting the Google Home Hub and Google Home Mini.

For the Home Hub, press and hold volume up and volume down for 10 seconds to perform a factory reset.

For the Home Mini, press and hold the orange button on the device base for 12 seconds.

After reconfiguring each device, I was able to say “Ok Google, broadcast ‘test message’” and it was broadcast to all other speakers on my network.

It’s a handy feature we’ll be using often – especially when notifying everyone in the house that it’s time to wake up, a meal is ready, it’s time to leave, or even remotely that you’re on you’re way home.

You can even reply to broadcasts making it a handy home intercom feature.  To learn more, check out the Google Home Broadcast documentation.

Microsoft Teams vs Cisco WebEx for Meetings

Creating a new teams meeting is as easy as clicking New Teams Meeting in the Office ribbon. It’s built-in to Office.

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Just one click, add a Title, add attendees, and click Send.

With WebEx, you must first create a New Meeting, then add WebEx to the meeting or click Schedule Meeting in the ribbon via with a 3rd party plug-in.  Since it doesn’t fill in the meeting location field, a pop-up needs to be dismissed to send – another extra click.

Converting an existing meeting to a Microsoft Teams meeting is easy as well. Just open the meeting delete the WebEx content in the body (below the line – Do not delete or change any of the following text. –), click Teams Meeting in the ribbon, and click Send Update.

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Doing so not only results in the Teams meeting experience, but joining the meeting is now easier too.

To join a WebEx meeting, one must first open the meeting, then click the link.  Sometimes one needs to enter their personal info before clicking Join Meeting, and if the meeting is hosted in a personal room, the meeting can’t start without the host (which is a pain if the person is on vacation).  Notifying the host requires a captcha to be entered. It’s just one hassle after another. After all of this, you’re finally able to select the means of connecting to the call. Even if the meeting starts while you’re waiting, you won’t join the meeting until this step is completed.

Contrast this to Teams. If the meeting is selected in your Outlook calendar, a Join Teams Meeting button appears in the ribbon.

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Clicking this takes you straight to the audio/video preview to allow you to adjust your settings before joining the meeting and simply pressing <Enter> or clicking Join now adds you to the meeting.

Meeting attendees also have the option of right-clicking the meeting and clicking the Join Teams Meeting option.

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So there you have it. Teams meetings are easier to set-up, and easier to join than meetings in WebEx, and all of that saved time adds up – so start converting your old WebEx meetings today! Smile

Mirror: mPING WEATHER TYPES EXPLAINED

In December of 2018, the US Government initiated a shutdown of non-essential services.  As part of this, I noticed that apps like mPING which are used for reporting weather conditions began to have broken links. 

Non-essential Government employees such as the NOAA.gov webmasters threw a tantrum associated with being told that they were “non-essential”.  As a result, even though the servers were humming along just fine, these workers blocked access to their content for the duration of the “shutdown” with a message politely explaining that they would be holding their non-essential information hostage until they were allowed to continue suckling at the teet of the State.

I was hoping to find a mirror for the info but couldn’t immediately.  Now that the Government has resumed it’s non-essential operations (at great economic expense to innocent Software Engineers like myself), I was able to obtain a copy of the information which I will mirror below.

Enjoy!

PS: Another archive of this information exists here: https://web.archive.org/web/*/https://mping.nssl.noaa.gov/types.php


What are all of those weather types that are listed in the mPING app? How do you tell the difference between freezing rain and freezing drizzle?

Test
Sends a test report to confirm that NSSL received your report; you will see a small yellow X appear to show your report was received
Rain and/or Snow
None

No precipitation occurring; most useful shortly before precipitation begins and after it ends

Drizzle

Very small, numerous and uniformly distributed water drops that may appear to float while following air currents

Freezing Drizzle

Drizzle that falls in liquid form but freezes upon impact to form a coating of glaze ice

Rain

Liquid water drops falling that do not freeze upon impact

Freezing Rain

Rain that falls in liquid form but freezes upon impact to form a coating of glaze on exposed objects (this will occur well before any ice forms on the ground)

Ice Pellets/Sleet

Small translucent balls of ice cosisting of frozen raindrops (not to be confused with hail)

Snow

Frozen precipitation in the form of flakes of ice crystals

Mixed Rain & Snow

Usually has the consistency of slush; almost never results in any accumulation

Mixed Rain & Ice Pellets

Often occurs as wet ice pellets mixed with small raindrops; sometimes occurs as falling raindrops containing one or perhaps few small pieces or chunks of ice (not snow)

Mixed ice Pellets & Snow

Snow along with ice pellets; the snowflakes don’t have ice pellets at their core as with ice pellets mixed with rain
Hail (include size)
A chunk of ice falling from the sky ranging from the size of a pea to a grapefruit; hail occurs exclusively in thunderstorms. Sleet is not tiny hail but is instead produced by a different process.
Wind Damage
Severity 1 (Damage Trivial)

Lawn furniture & trash cans displaced; small twigs broken off

Severity 2 (Damage Mild)

1 inch tree limbs broken; shingles blown off

Severity 3 (Damage Moderate)

3 inch tree limbs broken; power poles down

Severity 4 (Damage Severe)

Large trees uprooted or snapped; roofs blown off

Severity 5 (Damage Extreme)

Homes and buildings destroyed
Water Spout
Not displayed but sent to the NWS
Tornado (on ground)
Not displayed but sent to the NWS
Flood
Severity 1 (Flood Minor)

River/creek overflowing; cropland/yard/basement flooding

Severity 2 (Flood Moderate)

Street/road flooding; stranded vehicles

Severity 3 (Flood Serious)

Homes and buildings filled with water

Severity 4 (Flood Severe)

Homes, buildings and cars swept away
Mudslide/Landslide
Most often areas of soil mud that becomes loose due to lots of rainfall and then slides down a hilside; sometimes an entire hillside will come loose in a layer and slide
Reduced Visibility
Dense Fog

Visibility reduction caused by very tiny condensed water droplets so small that they cannot be individually distinguished; essentially a cloud on the ground

Blowing Dust/Sand

Visibility reduction caused by strong winds lofting sand and dust, most often from dry and barren soil

Upgrading SSRS Tooling

Over the years I’ve been told that in order to support SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) files (RDL) that I had to install the decade-old Visual Studio 2008 product.

More recently, I came across some info that indicates that this may not be the case, so I’m sharing it here in case it is able to help someone upgrade to current tools.

VS 2008

To work on SSRS reports (RDL files) one needs Visual Studio 2008 with the BIDS extension installed.

BIDS download – https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=30438

Note

Historically, the Visual Studio shell used to create SQL Server content types has been released under various names, including SQL Server Data Tools, SQL Server Data Tools – Business Intelligence, and Business Intelligence Development Studio. Previous versions came with distinct sets of project templates. To get all of the project templates together in one SSDT, you need the newest version. Otherwise, you will probably need to install multiple previous versions to get all of the templates used in SQL Server. Only one shell is installed per version of Visual Studio; installing a second SSDT just adds the missing templates.

SOURCE: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sql/ssdt/previous-releases-of-sql-server-data-tools-ssdt-and-ssdt-bi

VS 2017

It may be possible to work on SSRS reports with Visual Studio 2017 via the Microsoft Reporting Services Projects add-on.

https://marketplace.visualstudio.com/items?itemName=ProBITools.MicrosoftReportProjectsforVisualStudio

This requires the SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT) workflow to be installed via the VS 2017 installer.

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Git Fatal: Authentication failed for

Issue

> git pull –tags origin master

fatal: Authentication failed for ‘{repository URI here}’

Resolution

  1. Go to Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Credential Manager in Windows
  2. Select Windows Credentials
  3. Scroll down to Generic Credentials
  4. Edit git: credentials with updated password

Authentication will now succeed

Upgrading Magenic/MAQS from V4 to V5

If you get an error like this while upgrading Magenic/MAQS from V4 to V5:

Severity Code Description Project File Line Suppression State
Error Could not install package ‘Microsoft.Extensions.Configuration 2.1.1’. You are trying to install this package into a project that targets ‘.NETFramework,Version=v4.5’, but the package does not contain any assembly references or content files that are compatible with that framework. For more information, contact the package author.

Tried clearing the NuGet cache in VS 2017 but that didn’t help.

Solution

Troy Walsh suggested this solution…

Unfortunately, there is no clean upgrade path from V4 to V5.
The team has made several big changes, such as moving to .Net Standard 2.0, lazy initialization of the web driver, support for multiple web drivers in a single test, slitting of the config file sections and adding support for .Net Core to name just a few.

So there are 2 ways to upgrade

The hard way:

  1. Make sure you are using VS2017 or above
    https://marketplace.visualstudio.com/items?itemName=NuGetTeam.NuGetPackageManagerforVisualStudio2015#review-details
  2. Update your projects to 4.61 or above – https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dotnet/standard/net-standard

  3. Update your using statments
    using Magenic.MaqsFramework to using Magenic.Maqs
  4. Use the system under test configurations
    Config.GetValue(“WebSiteBase”) to SeleniumConfig.GetWebSiteBase()
  5. Remove any project references to Microsoft.VisualStudio.QualityTools.UnitTestFramework
  6. Use nuget to add the MSTest.TestAdapter package
  7. Update your app.config so it has a Selenium specific section
  8. Set the App.config to copy always

The easy way:

  1. Install the latest MAQS templates. – https://marketplace.visualstudio.com/items?itemName=vs-publisher-1465771.MAQSOpenFramework
  2. Create a new project

Copy your code into the new project
Note* You will need to update your using statements and any place you use the config settings

SOURCE: https://github.com/Magenic/MAQS/issues/5#issuecomment-407429302

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.

wp_ss_20160224_0002 wp_ss_20160224_0003 wp_ss_20160224_0005 wp_ss_20160224_0004

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!