Windows 10 Build 1511

Over the weekend I was “lucky enough” to need to build a couple of new Windows boxes, and the timing coincided nicely with the release of Windows 10 build 1511. For those who didn’t pick up on it and who also happen to care, the 1511 is a combination of “2015” and “11 – November”.

The first thing I noticed during the installs is that you’re now prompted during install to select your options for some of the more contentious privacy related options in the OS. By these I mean the sharing of typing and writing data with Microsoft, the open sharing/joining of wireless networks, and the torrent-like sharing/seeding of Windows updates with other Windows users. Being prompted for these during installation felt appropriate, and should reduce the amount of privacy rage that these options were generating previously – however I should note that I was installing the Enterprise edition of Windows 10, so it’s possible that other editions don’t have these prompts during installation (I really hope they do).

Once installed it didn’t take long to notice the new window snapping options! As someone with large monitors, I use the window snapping a lot, and the improvements here are very welcome. The main one is being able to resize 2 snapped windows at once by dragging the joined border. This is a neat little feature which is really going to save me a lot of time. I also ended up in the Multitasking options and disabled “When I snap a window, show what I can snap next to it” which probably existed before now, but I’d never found it. The combination of the new resizing feature plus disabling the suggestion option makes snapping feel much more productive.

In the “features I’m never going to use” category, nested virtualization was added in this update. This means you can run Hyper-V servers inside virtual machines that are running under Hyper-V, which should be great for anyone looking to simulate Inception using virtual machines.

In the same category, you can now show more tiles on the start menu. Personally, this isn’t something I’d ever want to use, but it’s optional so maybe it’ll make someone happy. Go to “Settings > Personalization > Start > Show more tiles” if you’re that someone! On top of this there’s a few subtle visual changes to the taskbar/toolbars which seem to work nicely.

A word of warning is that upgrading apparently resets/changes the file associations for some people. As I was performing completely new installs, this wasn’t something I ran into, but others have reported it, so be prepared to re-associate all the things.

Overall the new release feels stable so far, and although there’s nothing major that’s been added, the small refinements feel good and there’s apparently a bunch of bug fixes that have been done under the hood. ARS Technica sums it up by saying “If you were holding back waiting to take the plunge and make the upgrade, now is probably a good time to do it”, which seems like a good summary to me.


Sending Ctrl+Alt+End to a Windows Remote Desktop Session using a Macbook

This is one that I’m writing down here for future reference, as it’s a keyboard shortcut that I need to use on my Macbook only a few times a year, and consequently I can never remember it.

So, the magic combination is:


SQL Server: Failover or Restart Results in Reseed of Identity

Just putting this out there, because even though there are workarounds (trace flag 272!) this behaviour feels broken to me:  Failover or Restart Results in Reseed of Identity

Aka “Why the fuck are my identity columns jumping by 1000 all the time in SQL Server”.

It feels even more broken if the gap in time between your server upgrade and the first time you notice this issue happens to be a few months apart, and isn’t consistent across all applications, which ends up making it harder to determine whether this is a problem in code or a “functioning as designed” style issue.

A selection of useful SublimeText plugins for frontend developers

I’m always keeping an eye out for interesting SublimeText addons, of which there’s a *lot* to go through. The lists below are all things which aren’t too useful to me personally (as I usually do this sort of work using Visual Studio), however there’s some handy looking stuff in there for anyone using SublimeText for front end development, so they’re worth posting.

How to Add Sass Support in Sublime Text – also contains a rather handy tip:

You can avoid this by installing the SublimeOnSaveBuild plugin, which will automatically execute the default build action whenever you save changes to a file. (It’s also handy when you’re working with CoffeeScript.)

5 Sublime Text Plug-ins for Frontend Development – some handy stuff in here, Emmet looks pretty useful (I’d imagine that something like that could be handy for all sorts of other things including GTD / writing type work).

10 Essential SublimeText Plugins for JavaScript Developers – some handy ones in here, including helpers for AngularJS and Handlebars.

HTTPS in all the places!

From the green padlock news desk:

Twitter is Moving to HTTPS only for new links – in general is a really bad idea, that breaks the usability of the web. However, if you’re going to break the web like that then I guess it’s better to break it securely. This one will be of note to anyone who relies on Analytics tracking and receives a large number of inbound traffic from Twitter. If that’s you, and your site isn’t running over SSL, then you’re going to lose your referral info:

Non-HTTPS sites may notice what appear to be lower referral numbers from Twitter as a result of the change. Web browsers drop the Referer header from a request by default when downgrading from an HTTPS link to an HTTP destination in compliance with the HTTP specification for the Referer header.

Chrome finally kills off the HTTP-HTTPS “mixed content” warning – in a move designed to "encourage site operators to switch to HTTPS sooner rather than later", Chrome will now treat sites with any mixed content as if they were standard HTTP. I can’t help wondering if this is going to make HTTP downgrade attacks a lot easier to perform.

The writing is really on the wall – get all your sites running over HTTPS as soon as possible.

iOS9 giveth and it taketh away

This iOS9 Safari media query bug sounds like it’s really annoying a lot of people. If you work on sites with a large iOS user population then it’s probably worth being aware of it before you run into it.

On the flipside, it looks like they fixed this really annoying iOS 8.x photo upload issue.

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Programmers: Learn how to Write

Yes – this x 1000: An Ex-Microsoft Engineer's Advice to Programmers: Learn How to Write.

It’s a constant surprise to me how many smart programmers can’t write an email, blog post, or document to save their lives.  What’s even more surprising is how many of those people brush it off as a skill that they don’t and/or won’t ever need in their lives.

I would advise folks in software to do one thing, and that’s write. Learn how to write ... It’s actually useful. You need to know how to express yourself. And it’s really tough for a lot of engineers to step up and do public speaking... Once you create a successful piece of software, you’re probably going to be writing English as much as you’re going to be writing Java or Objective C. I’ve created multiple pieces of software at DocuSign that went viral, and people liked them and wanted to use more of them. And I probably wrote 10 times the documentation and explanation, and answered questions in paragraph form.

The excuse of “I don’t need it for my job” is rather short sighted. You may not need it now, but if your career path changes trajectory (or stays on an upward trajectory), then chances are you’re going to need it at some point, so why not be prepared and ready?

If you’re a tech blogger, then take some time out to improve on the fundamentals of writing. Learn about apostrophes. Learn when to use “its” versus “it’s” and genuinely understand the difference (while you’re there, brush up on “your” versus “you’re” too). Improving those few things alone will make your writing sound 100 times more intelligent, even if there’s only a small percentage of your readers who will ever notice the difference.

Bye bye Zite, for real

Back in December 2014, I wrote a quick post about the fact that Zite was closing down, and how you could migrate to Flipboard. Well, I’m guessing the retirement date for Zite is approaching, because they’re getting pretty pushy about encouraging people to migrate. “Migrate to Flipboard!” has been appearing as the first story every day for a few days now.

However they’ve also made the process a lot simpler than it was back in December. Click a link, login to your Flipboard account, done.

It’s a bit of a sad day, as I’ve really enjoyed using Zite and have discovered a lot of really interesting content using it. I know Flipboard’s been around for a while, so it’s not as if they’re new to what they do, but I’m hoping they manage to preserve the customisation of the feed that Zite allowed.

Bye bye Zite!

Having issues with the Bootcamp 6 drivers not showing up?

Somewhere along the line the Bootcamp install on my Mac got very messed up, or alternatively, v5.0 of Apple’s Bootcamp drivers did something very weird with Apple Software update – either way, I’d upgraded the existing installation to Windows 10 and wanted the new Bootcamp 6 drivers and they weren’t showing up.

The solution was simple, but a bit tedious. I downloaded ~800mb file containing Bootcamp 5.1 and ran setup. It asked if I wanted to Repair missing files, which I did, and after a reboot was told I was running 5.1, and at that point running Apple Software Update finally started showing the v6 drivers as being available.

I’m not sure what broke or when, but I’m blaming the Apple Software Update program. It’s a pretty simple fix but it’s annoying as it means I’ve been running out of date drivers for a couple of years on this box, despite regularly checking for updates.

Windows 10 upgrade troubleshooting

Windows 10 has been much talked about over the past week and a bit. While I took the opportunity to do a clean rebuild on a new SSD for my main desktop, I also had a laptop which I’d planned to try the upgrade process with. The only issue was that the “Get Windows 10!” task tray icon simply wasn’t appearing.

There’s a lot of blog posts detailing tips and tricks to force the update process to work, and over the course of a few days it felt like I’d tried them all. From clearning the SoftwareDistribution\Download folder and running wuauclt.exe /updatenow through to various shenanigans with GWX.exe and scheduled tasks, I’d jumped through all the hoops, all with no luck. I also tried the media creation tool, and received the incredibly useful “Something happened” message.

None of these processes provided any feedback at all. I had all Windows updates installed, and it was a genuine version of Windows that should have been eligible for an upgrade. Something was clearly wrong here.

It was this post that led me to identify what it was. The post is a pretty comprehensive list of all the various troubleshooting steps, combined into a single reference point. Nothing listed there worked for me, however one of the updates towards the end of the post mentions that Microsoft has released a troubleshooting tool.

I grabbed the troubleshooting tool, and ran it. The first run seemed to confuse it, and it claimed there was an issue with Windows Updates which it fixed (thanks!), only to then display a message telling me my version wasn’t eligible for an upgrade. However I ran it again, and it informed me that machines that are joined to a domain aren’t able to be upgraded. I run a Server Essentials 2012 box at home, so laptop was joined to a domain (which is of course optional) – I left the domain, and lo and behold the icon appeared, and the Windows 10 upgrade ran flawlessly.

(Incidentally, if you’re also a Server Essentials user, then you’ll want to download the latest version of the connector here)

That was a lot of work to get the icon to appear, and I came very close to giving up and nuking the build from orbit a couple of times, but I really wanted to test the upgrade experience. While it’s apparent that there’s quite a few things that can cause issues with the upgrade experience, if you’re having trouble then it’s likely that working through all the links here will see you right.

Download Troubleshooting tool for Get Windows 10 app

Windows Server Essentials Connector for Windows Server 2012 R2 (Updated July 29th 2015)