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!

Installing Telerik Test Studio on a Server

It makes life easier to have Telerik Test Studio set up such that it is able to run remote tests after a server restart.  Since this isn’t well documented on the Telerik site, I’m sharing my notes here.  Please let me know if you have anything helpful to add.

Installation Instructions

  1. Log in to server with a dedicated testing account.
  2. Run Telerik Test Studio installer – login with testing account.
  3. After installing, under Control Panel > All Control Panel Items > Programs and Features select Telerik Test Studio and click Change.
  4. On the Welcome tab, select the Next button, then click the Change button.
  5. Under Select features, ensure that Storage Service and Scheduling Server are set to Entire feature will be installed on local hard drive.
  6. On the Ready to change screen, click the Change button.
  7. A screen discussing Database Setup may display. This can be closed (I used defaults).
  8. Since this is running on a server, deal with any alerts that object to the browser being used to navigate to the websites being tested. It’s probably a good idea to whitelist internal addresses such as intranet addresses, dev addresses, staging addresses, extranet addresses, and external addresses.
    Note: Be sure to include the HTTPS version of any secure site URLs or the tests for those environments will time out.
  9. Ensure that the testing user account is set to auto-login on machine reboot.
  10. After starting Test Studio on the server; in the system tray, right click Test Studio Test Runner and then click Show.
  11. At the bottom of the Execution tab, ensure Run on start up is checked.

How to get Live.com accounts working in Windows 10 Mail Preview

Having trouble configuring your Live.com, Outlook.com or Hotmail.com email address working with the Mail Preview app in Windows 10 Technical Preview builds 10061 or 10074?

Symptoms

When you try to add an account in the Windows 10 Mail Preview app, you have a few options in the Choose an account screen. 

If you select the Exchange option (which lists Exchange and Office 365 compatibility – but none of the legacy free-email domains specifically) it will ask you for your address and take a while before responding with a prompt for your password.

Shortly after entering your password, the dialog box disappears.

Solution

This seems to be an issue for people using two-factor authentication with their Microsoft Accounts.  If so, you’ll need to look up your app password – or create a new one.

After that, simply follow the same steps listed above – but instead of your normal password, use the app password.

After that, everything should work like a charm.

Mark Zuckerberg is being a jerk

In order to expand his stranglehold on your personal data, Mark Zuckerberg has decided to hold Facebook users hostage to grow his clout in the Instant Messaging (IM) business.

For years Skype helped them to offer features that weren’t available in Facebook Messenger – like voice and video calls from within Facebook. This also brought people together – billions of Facebook users could now talk to billions of Skype users.

Now Mr. Zuckerberg has decided to get into the IM business (everybody’s doing it!) and they can’t stand the competition – so they’re building walls to ensure that if you use Facebook IM you can ONLY talk to other Facebook users.

Sound odd? Well, it is odd if your goal is to help people the world over communicate with each other – but if your goal is to make money off of ad revenue and consumer data while leveraging your large user base to make you a dominant player in the IM space it makes perfect sense.

In addition to using Facebook users like pawns, he’s also terrified of their more established competitor, Skype. Later this summer Microsoft will make Windows 10 available at no cost to anyone with Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. Skype will be included – so you’ll be able to reach ANYONE via Skype.

Businesses have already made the switch to Skype for Business – so suddenly everyone with a PC will be able to talk to business users too. The idea that you could talk to ANYONE without him knowing about it has Mr. Zuckerberg TERRIFIED.

I’ve really enjoyed using Facebook to talk with friends over the years – and if Mark Zuckerberg is afraid that it will be easier for more people to use Skype; they should be doing the same with their IM network – instead of raising the drawbridge and trapping all of the peasants inside.

For more on what Facebook is doing, you can read this article explaining more of the details.

Thanks for taking the time to listen – and if you don’t add your Facebook friends on Skype now, maybe we’ll see you later this year if you upgrade to Windows 10.