Monthly Archives: June 2013

Mr Microsoft why did you ignore most of the English Speaking World when releasing Windows 8.1 RT Preview on 26 June? UPDATE 4 July 2013

Important Update 4 July 2013

On 27 June 2013 I wrote the blog below bitterly complaining about Microsoft’s apparent decision to ignore most of the English Speaking World (i.e. all those who did not live the US). At the time of that post, whilst Microsoft promised a fix for those who had language packs installed, it was not immediately clear to me whether that would also apply to those like me, who did not have a language pack installed, but merely the wrong OS Base Language.

My unhappiness may have been unwarranted.

I am pleased to report that Microsoft has made Windows 8.1 RT Preview for other languages. The Australian version can be downloaded from

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-au/windows-8/preview-download

I guessing the Great Britain English version can be downloaded from

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows-8/preview-download

by clicking the “Get Update Link”, you down load an application/upgrade required to be installed from the desktop (you just need to follow the instructions). Upon installation of that application /upgrade the Surface reboots, and you are then taken to the Store and asked if you wan to install the Preview. The preview then appears installs like any normal application. As I write this, my RT is still downloading the 2.1G update files. It is doing it slowly (10:48 am 4 July) so I can not confirm final installation.

JDC 4 July 2013 10;50 pm One Possibly Happy Customer.

Further Important Update 4 July 2013

My installation of Windows 8.1 RT Preview completed its download at 1:10 pm (having commenced at say 10″10 am). The installation process involving various restarts took a further 40 minutes. I was able to login at about 10:50 pm.

One trick for the unwary is that the default Keyboard was the UK board after the install. You will need to log into your Microsoft Account. If your password contains characters that appear in a different location on a UK keyboard, you may first need to change the input method to select the correct keyboard layout.

The other surprise is that Microsoft has by default implemented a two factor authentication to log in your Microsoft Office Account. In addition to your password it also requires that you enter a PIN that is sent to you (to your previously notified mobile telephone) by SMS.

I have not yet tried any of the new features of 8.1.

JDC 4 July 2013 3:31 pm A Happy Customer.

MY Original BLOG 27 June 2013

I am writing this on my un-upgraded Windows Surface RT because I do not live in the US and I speak English.

I could not upgrade to Preview 8.1 because my original OS base language is Australian English. I quote you from your download site

Notes before you download: If you’re using an English version of Windows, you can only
install Windows 8.1 Preview from the Windows Store

if your OS base language is English (US).

If you’ve installed a language pack, please don’t install Windows RT 8.1 Preview at this time. A fix will be available soon, so please check back.

ISO files (.iso) are not available for the Windows RT operating system. You can only
update to Windows RT 8.1 Preview through Windows Store.
Windows RT 8.1 Preview is only available in the following languages: Arabic, English (US), Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish. You can find system requirements, support options, and other additional information in the FAQ and in the links on this page.

I do not have additional language packs installed. It is not immediately clear whether the fix referred to in the second paragraph we will permit me to install the preview when it arrives. If it is only intended to apply where additional language packs installed:

  • I am very angry as it would appear you propose to totally ignore every English speaking person living outside of the United States.
  • I have shown loyalty to Microsoft in purchasing the Surface RT when it was first released in Australia, even though I recognised then that improvements and developments had to be made.
  • I wrongly believed that in supporting you, you would not let me down.
  • I was wrong and my patience has ended.
  • Unless the position is corrected quickly you have lost my support.

If the fix is proposed also to permit me to install the preview I hope that it will be released very soon.

JDC 27 June 2013 One Very Unhappy Customer

A commenter on Reddit asked why I could not just change to English (US). That is a good question and I in fact tried to change my Language and Regional Settings but it did not work In investigating further, Microsoft in fact says

Windows RT users

Please do not change your base language just to install the Preview.  If you do this and then update to the preview version, you will permanently change your base language on these devices.  This happens because we create a new restore image based on your selected 8.1 base language during install.

Also, as we noted on the download page, if you’ve installed a language pack on Windows RT, we ask you not to install Windows RT 8.1 Preview at this time. A fix will be available soon for updating through the store with a language pack installed, so please check back.

Charles [MSFT]

In either report there is no suggestion that Microsoft will make the Preview available to other English speaking RT owners outside of the US. It also appears that for RT owners the only way to upgrade is to wait for the correct OS base language to become available. Microsoft is not even suggesting that will occur.

JDC 27 June 2013, Still One Very Unhappy Customer

Some other commenters on Reddit question my concern it because it is only a pre-release preview version. Most of those commenters either live in the US or they do not have a RT version, others do not understand that even the US English version of the Preview is not available for use to even download. Previously I would not consider installing preview Versions of an operating system on production computer. However, as I discussed in previous blogs, Windows 8 RT does not have Outlook and that is a great big missing hole in the operating system. It is not possible to send my email any document from the Desktop. You cannot send from any word document by email from inside Word RT.

I was also looking forward to 8.1 Preview because I hoped it would provide a more capable PDF Reader. Microsoft’s reader, and all other available readers are limited. You cannot open more than one pdf in them. None of them cope with PDF packages (they open the first document but do not recognise the links other pdfs in the package). While I could not check myself, it would appear my wishes in that regard have not been answered.

JDC 28 June 2013, Remaining One Very Unhappy Customer

   

Advertisements

Information Security for Lawyers – Passwords reconsidered

On 26 February 2013 I wrote about Information Security for Lawyers. In that blog I suggested a password protocol recommended by StaySmartOnline.gov.au. Two readers were kind enough to post comments providing criticism that that recommendation. David referred me to two 2 cartoons from xkcd.com, one of which I reproduce below

Alex Muentz more directly said

“Good advice, except for the passwords. Passwords like these end up on stickynotes.

Why not multi-word passwords? Easier for language oriented folks like lawyers to remember and a large enough password-space to make brute-forcing inefficient. Tools like hashcat permit 2 dictionaries, but doing 3 or 4 word passphrases is a lot of entropy”.

While I am not sure how the thermodynamic concept of entropy has become a measure of password strength, multiword password protocols are a viable alternative and should be considered.

Any password policy is a compromise between complexity and ease of use:

  • A 24 character multiword password can be difficult to type correctly, particularly as the password is often hidden and where your typing skills could be less than perfect.
  • Whilst it may be easy to remember multiword passwords, it may not be that easy to remember many multiple multiword passwords you will need for different websites.

Cartoons can be very informative. My son Alex referred me to another very relevant XKCD cartoon on “Password Reuse”. I reproduce it below.

.

Even if the website is not evil, not all websites, even highly respected websites do not always store passwords and other private information securely. See Sean Buckley’s article Microsoft Store hacked in India, passwords stored in plain text, and Michael Lee’s article Qld govt department stores credit card recordings unencrypted.

The same password should not reused to logon onto different websites. Unless you are a lot smarter than I, you should use a password manager to record and store passwords. I use eWallet from Ilium Software, Inc. Versions are available for Windows PC, iPhone, iPad, Windows 8 Metro, Android and Blackberry. It is not available on the Windows Phone 8, (Ilium Software Please Fix:eWallet to Go, just does not get there) l The data file is encrypted and can be synced between devices. The file can also stored to dropbox or skydrive to make syncing irrelevant between devices.

Internet Facing Devices

Password strength is more important for internet facing devices and websites. Most law firms may not be as concerned to securely protect network access from locally connected workstations. Microsoft’s Windows 8 Operating system recognises this and provides the option for a 4 digit pin code alternative to password logons. Whilst some may consider this could reduce security, I do not believe that to be the case. Pin Code Logons can provide convenient network access for devices known to be secure and simultaneously requiring complicated passwords when external access is required.

Another alternative could be to use Two Factor Authentication. This is become very popular for a lot of websites. It can be introduced very inexpensively. Phone Factor, a company which has been purchased by Microsoft, offers free (if you are small) or relatively inexpensive solutions (if you are larger). You can learn more about them here. I will talk more about Two Factor Authentication in a future post.

JDC 10 June 2013.

My First Six Months with a Windows Surface RT, from a Lawyer’s Perspective

I have previously written about my experience using the RT in the following posts

My First Three Months with a Windows Surface RT from a Lawyer’s Perspective | Jeffrey Chard (my last post) and

My First 10 days with the Surface RT | Jeffrey Chard

I have had my RT now for about 6 months.

General Use

I donated my iPad to my beloved wife about 2 months ago.

I primarily use the RT as a tablet. When using it as a tablet I prefer to use the Metro OneNote and IE10 Apps to the desktop programs.

I no longer have any problems with website compatibility with IE10. The Metro IE10 is extremely easy to use. The Swipe action UI is truly excellent.

There are a lot more Apps now available for Windows 8. From my first post, Dropbox has been available for some time. I wrote about it in my first above mentioned post. I prefer to use Skydrive because it is more integrated.

Zite and a decent replacement for Goodreader are still not available. Adobe Reader (Touch) is available, but it has similar functionality as the Microsoft Reader. There are other apps that allow you to annotate PDF, but nothing with the same capabilities as Goodreader.

Whilst Zite has come to Windows Phone 8, it is still not available on Windows 8 (nor is it available as a website, a fact that I I find curious). I use the following news reader apps instead.

The Fifth.
This has very recently become available in the Windows Store. I have been using it, and beta testing it for several months. Even though I may be biased, it is my favourite New Reader App. Whilst it uses upon RSS feeds, it is very easy to search for RSS feeds and to subscribe to them. The are a host RSS feeds that are built in to browse. All your subscriptions and reading history are synced to the cloud so that your history follows you between devices. The App can be downloaded here.

The Fifth app for Windows in the Windows Store

http://apps.microsoft.com/webpdp/app/e741b66c-cb4c-4e64-9ed0-5e35267a377a

Learn more about The Fifth by Ardent Technology and download it from the Windows Store

The only difference between the Trial Version (which is really the Free Version) and the Paid Version is the absence of Advertisements in the Paid Version. As the Adds are not very intrusive in the trial version, I am not sure there is much incentive to buy the Paid Version, unless you want to support the poor author. As he is my son, I would encourage you to do so J.

Appy Geek

Pulse News

From the Lawyer’s Perspective

As I mentioned in my last post, as a Lawyer I used primarily used by iPad to reduce the paper I had to carry. I could load into Goodreader, 20000 page briefs, which were fully hyperlinked. On the RT I have similar functionality, but with the added convenience of being able to access those documents from a USB Drive with no need to import.

Office RT is by far much easier to use the iPad equivalents when it is necessary to do work. Now that I have the Typecover, it is very convenient to take into the meeting room to take statements. I find it convenient to prepare witness statements and which I save to Skydrive. I eventually acquired a Typecover, and I use that when I have to do any creative work. The Typecover is much better than the Touchcover for doing work. I find that I can type more accurately on it than I was able to do on most of my earlier laptops when it is on a stable surface. I still use the Touchcover, as a cover and interestingly it is more accurate when it on my leather briefcase on my lap when I am on a train. The touchcover works better on a uneven surface.

If I need to use an desktop application I just use the Remote Desktop Application.

Why did I buy the RT instead of waiting for the Pro?

The RT has one main advantage over the Pro; battery life. It is inherent in its design. The tasks that I needed to do on the RT I was wiling to sacrifice all the benefits of the Pro to obtain longer battery life in slightly thinner package. The Surface Pro has only been available in Australia since the 30 May 2013. I have seen one in the shop and briefly paid with it. It works very well. I particularly like the stylus.

As I mentioned in my first mentioned post, the main thing missing from the RT is Outlook.

Microsoft has announced that Outlook will be available with RT 8.1 which is being released for Preview on 26 June 2013. This will be a great improvement. While I believe that I will continue to use the Metro Mail App, Outllook RT will fill the very big hole that existed when using the Desktop. The sooner Outlook RT is released the better. I am hoping that Microsoft will release it to RT8.0 for download at the same time as the 8.1Preview is released.

Back in the Office

In my last post I said

I am an advocate of the Metro UI, but in the office I am firmly a Desktop user. I am still using the Windows 7 Professional, and I did not take advantage of the reduced price to upgrade. I am a firm believer of Windows 8 and like its split personality, but there is really little point to upgrade until you have touch screens. The only advantage to upgrade (which is real) is the convenience of having access to all your metro apps on the Desktop.

I am hoping that Microsoft has a lot of success with the Surface RT. For a lawyer, the advantages of an RT over an iPad are clear. I am still looking forward to many great thinks from Microsoft this year.

Not much has changed but I expect it will very soon. I have read a lot about Windows Blue/8.1. Microsoft have done a lot to address some of the concerns that I had with Windows 8 on the Desktop. Whilst I believe that the split personality is inevitable. There a lot of changes in 8.1 that will encourage it to be used in the enterprise. One of the main advantages of 8.1 will be that, each Desktop User, will be able to use his/hers Microsoft Account and still be able to connect to the enterprise domain.

I am still looking forward to many great thinks from Microsoft this year.

JDC 10 June 2013