mjh

Mark writes about Microsoft Windows, computer topics, and digital photography.

Jan 232014
 

How do you like the nerdy phrase, “end-user readiness content”? Though aimed at business users, there are enough resource links here to be worth perusing by anyone using Windows 8.1.

Announcing Windows 8.1 end-user readiness content

Today we’re announcing the availability of the Windows 8.1 business user guide package. The package provides a range of guides and video tutorials that will ensure your users take full advantage of Windows 8.1.

Announcing Windows 8.1 end-user readiness content

 Posted by at 11:43 am
Jan 212014
 

I use spoken commands with my Nokia Lumia 928 and a bluetooth headset (not required, but handily hands free). I can say “answer” or “ignore” a call, “read” a text, “reply” to a text (and dictate the text), etc.

Using Speech on your phone | Windows Phone How-to (United Kingdom)

Using Speech on your phone

Make a call, send a text message, take a note, open an app or find something online using just your voice? You can! With Speech, you can do all these things and more.

Using Speech on your phone | Windows Phone How-to (United Kingdom)

 Posted by at 3:57 pm
Jan 212014
 

Using the Mail app, create a contact from incoming mail by left clicking (or tapping) the contact’s name in the email message. That’s unexpected, especially because the name shows no indication of being clickable. This will pop-up a small box with an option to Add Contact.

add contact in Mail app

For existing contacts, clicking the name in an incoming message will give you contact options, including email address and phone number, if you have that information in the contact record.

Screenshot (117)

 Posted by at 4:12 am
Jan 202014
 

Mailing list groups are tricky in Windows 8.1. In fact, so far, the Mail and People apps don’t allow you to create a group. Instead, you have to log into www.outlook.com, then choose People from the little drop down arrow next to the word Outlook.

access Outlook tools

outlook tools

In People (on the Web, not in the app), New has its own drop down arrow for Group.

Once you have a Group, you add existing contacts by name. (That is, you cannot create a new contact and assign it to a group in one step.) 

add members to new group 2

If you want to add a member to a group later, select the group, then select Edit. Add members one at a time.

edit group

Just as you can’t (yet) create Groups in the People app in Windows 8.1, you can’t use the group in the Mail app (perhaps this will change with an update this year), Again, the solution is to browse www.outlook.com. Start a new message and type the name of the group in the To box.

send email to group

If you spend a little time with outlook.com, you may find it preferable to the individual apps in Windows 8.1, although the latest Mail app actually has a few features lacking on the Web (pinning contacts, for example).

 Posted by at 3:51 pm
Jan 182014
 

I switched from gmail to Outlook.com about 6 months ago. I don’t miss gmail at all. (I do miss Google Calendar, which is better than Outlook’s.)

How to Import a Gmail Account in Outlook.com – Video

Microsoft has launched a new account importing wizard in December 2013 in an attempt to make it easier for users who want to migrate from Gmail to Outlook.com and rely solely on Redmond’s email platform.

In addition, the company has recently rolled out a video tutorial to assist users throughout the entire process, and thus provide more information on a process that’s supposed to significantly improve its user base.

How to Import a Gmail Account in Outlook.com – Video

 Posted by at 8:33 am
Jan 152014
 

Not available until after you receive the Windows Phone “Black” system update. Verizon customers, like me, are still waiting.

Organising your Lumia Start screen, with App Folder – Nokia Conversations

What is App Folder?

App Folder was created by Nokia to bring your Lumia even more personalisation, and enables you to group apps and settings together into a folder. That folder can then be pinned to your Lumia Start screen as a tile, or accessed via the apps list.

You can name your App Folders however you like, with the obvious choices like Photography, or Social Life. It’s a one-click gateway into all that’s important to you.

Organising your Lumia Start screen, with App Folder – Nokia Conversations

 Posted by at 8:00 am
Jan 142014
 

We’re getting closer to having a universal translator at hand. These two apps — one for any Windows 8 device, the other for Windows Phone — take input through the keyboard, through voice, and through a camera and translate input text into other languages of your choosing. Output can be onscreen or spoken by the device. Wow.

Translator | Windows Phone Apps+Games Store (United States)

Bing Translator is your companion when you need to overcome the language barrier. Use your camera, voice or keyboard to enter text you want to translate. Use Bing Translator on-the-go, even when you don’t have an Internet connection.

  • Text translation – Type and translate text into more than 40 languages.
  • Camera translation – Translate signs, menus, newspapers, or any printed text with your device’s camera in an instant.
  • Voice translation – Translate by speaking into your phone. Voice translation requires a network connection.
  • Text to speech – Hear translations spoken with a native speaker’s accent. Text to speech requires a network connection.
  • Offline translation – Translate when you are not connected to the Internet and when you want to avoid expensive data roaming charges, by using downloadable offline language packs.
  • Word of the Day – Improve your vocabulary by pinning the Translator to your Start screen.

Pin each mode to your Start screen and jump straight to translating in a single tap. Copy and paste or use your keyboard to quickly enter the text you want to translate. New in 2.8: – Redesigned offline packs UI – Faster and more accurate voice translation

Translator | Windows Phone Apps+Games Store (United States)

Bing Translator app for Windows in the Windows Store

Description

The Bing Translator App for Windows is your companion when you need to quickly translate what you are looking at. Use your camera or just type the text you want to translate. Text and camera translation work offline with downloadable language packs, so you can get the power of Bing Translator on-the-go, even when you don’t have an Internet connection.

Show more

Features

  • Text translation – Type and translate text into more than 40 languages.
  • Camera translation – Translate signs, menus, newspapers, or any printed text with your device’s camera in an instant.
  • Voice translation – Translate by just speaking the phrase. Voice translation requires a network connection.
  • Text to speech – Hear translations spoken with a native speaker’s accent.
  • • Offline translation – Translate when you are not connected to the Internet and when you want to avoid expensive data roaming charges by using downloadable offline language packs.
  • Translate from anywhere – Translate text from other Windows Store apps using the Share charm. Just select and share.
  • Multitask with Snap View – Translate quickly while doing other tasks by snapping Bing Translator to the right or left of your screen.
  • Word of the Day – Improve your vocabulary by pinning the Translator to your Start screen.
  • History – Saves your translations and lets you edit them.

Bing Translator app for Windows in the Windows Store

 Posted by at 4:26 pm
Jan 102014
 

Ed Tittel singles out 5 new small cheap Windows tablets. I have an older version of the Acer Iconia (actually intended for Windows 7) that has been mostly good; the newer W7 is likely better. Note that a device suitable “for business” could be a good device for any use.

Better Windows 8.1 Tablet Options for Business Use – Windows Enterprise Desktop

Of the current crop available — and there are possibly as many as a dozen already in the marketplace — these five have captured my particular attention:

Better Windows 8.1 Tablet Options for Business Use – Windows Enterprise Desktop

 Posted by at 6:23 pm
Jan 102014
 

First the good new: Some great updates are available. Follow the next link for details, including screenshots and availability. As for the bad news: This essential update is not yet available for Verizon customers and in the past we’ve gotten updates later than others. Finally, there may be another update in April. Hopefully, Verizon won’t wait until then to give us Lumia Black, then name of the most recent updates.

Nokia Lumia Black update begins rollout – Nokia Conversations

The Lumia Black update combines a host of new features, improvements in imaging, new apps and app updates from Microsoft and Nokia to make your Lumia smartphone experience even better. So what can you look forward to, once Lumia Black is installed?

Nokia Lumia Black update begins rollout – Nokia Conversations

The updates to Glance and Bluetooth should be very helpful. Likewise, App Folders, if they are easy enough to use. I’m especially looking forward to Beamer, which will make it easy to project *any* screen from your cellphone onto *any* Internet device. There is already a Photo Beamer (in the Phone Store) that is pretty cool.

PhotoBeamer | Windows Phone Apps+Games Store (United States)

PhotoBeamer is a new, innovative and easy way to show your pictures on any screen. Just point your Nokia Lumia at any screen displaying www.photobeamer.com and you can enjoy your photos anywhere with family and friends. It’s a mobile projector that’s available anytime, anywhere. Features Show your Nokia Lumia pictures on any screen supporting a current web browser – including desktop screens, projector screens and laptops.

PhotoBeamer | Windows Phone Apps+Games Store (United States)

 Posted by at 9:01 am
Jan 092014
 

Just got a Windows 8 PC? Here’s how you can update to Windows 8.1

For those of you who managed to get a new tablet or desktop computer, complete with the latest Windows 8.1 update, then you are all set and ready to go. However, for those of you who purchased a device that came pre-installed with Windows 8 only, have no fear. Here are a few suggestions to get you updated and running.

Just got a Windows 8 PC? Here’s how you can update to Windows 8.1

 Posted by at 11:53 am
Jan 092014
 

Xbox has been a huge success for Microsoft until Xbox One. If you’re considering it, read this review.

XBOX: Fail | Hal’s (Im)Perfect Vision

As I dig into this keep in mind that we aren’t talking about gaming here, I have yet to play a game on the Xbox One.

XBOX: Fail | Hal’s (Im)Perfect Vision

These issues are reminiscent of Vista and Windows 8 — missteps, at best. However, Microsoft will probably fix many of these issues. The overall trend of merging the interface across all devices — computer, game system, phone, and devices yet-unimagined — is probably a good one, if only for “branding.”

 Posted by at 11:47 am
Dec 302013
 

The Fujifilm Finepix HS50 EXR feels like a DSLR. It is much larger and heavier than other superzooms, though that may not matter to some users.

This camera has the fastest shutter of any camera I’ve used (I don’t use any DSLR). You point, you press the shutter, and the image is almost instantly captured. I think this feature sets the Fujifilm apart from all other superzooms and is its major strength.

One unusual feature is that the zoom is entirely manual. Just as with a DSLR or traditional film camera, you turn the barrel to move the zoom. Sony has a feature similar to this except that the zoom is powered, whether you use the lever or the barrel. The Fujifilm zoom is very smooth and absolutely quiet.

The lens is threaded for 58mm filters and the lens cap fits very securely. A sensor detects your face near the viewfinder (EVF) to automatically switch between the LCD and the EVF. This feature worked very well for me (Sony has this on some superzooms, as well). The EVF has the highest resolution of any point and shoot and is a real pleasure to use.

The image processor in the Fujifilm is slightly larger than other superzooms. I didn’t see any significant benefit, though in theory is should result in better images. See sample images comparing the Fujifilm to the Canon.

Two years ago, I tried a predecessor to this camera and returned it to Amazon. Almost all of my objections to that camera have been resolved in this camera. (See Why I’m Returning the Fujifilm HS10.)

In the past six months, I have used the Canon Powershot SX50 HS, the Sony CyberShot 200v, and the Fujifilm Finepix HS50 EXR, arguably the top 3 superzoom point and shoot cameras on the market at this moment. Each has its strengths and weakness, its fans and foes. None of the three is perfect. All three produce great images in bright light outdoors, making them excellent for landscapes and wildlife. My complaint that applies to all three is that the image quality doesn’t live up to the superzoom. You’ll get close, but you may not like what you see, especially as you crop.


 Posted by at 2:51 pm
Dec 232013
 

Sometimes, an app misbehaves. In many cases, ignoring the app for a while may help. Restarting may help. Windows 8.1 has a ‘trick’ for restarting an individual app: with finger or mouse, drag the top edge of the app toward the bottom. When the app screen shrinks, don’t let go. Wait for the shrunken app to flip to show the app icon (or splash screen), then drag back up to let the app expand again. If an app stumbles despite this, you may want to run the App Troubleshooter (below), which will check all of your apps.

Troubleshoot problems with an app – Microsoft Windows Help

In many cases, the Windows Store will automatically notify you if there’s a problem with an app and try to fix the problem. If you continue experiencing problems with an app, or if you’re unable to open the Store, try running the Apps troubleshooter. This tool can automatically identify and fix some problems with apps and the Store. It’s only available in English, but will work on PCs running any language.

If running the troubleshooter doesn’t help, here are some things you can try to fix the app yourself.

Troubleshoot problems with an app – Microsoft Windows Help

[hat tip to  Winaero]

 Posted by at 11:27 am