Windows 10 How to make File Explorer open in ‘This PC’ view

I’ve been playing further with Windows 10 and working on little tricks to get it working how we want it. Many people have been complaining that they now have to click on ‘This PC’ to access network drives etc. So I decided to find a way to make File Explorer open with ‘This PC’ as the default view. Luckily I didn’t have to look to far until I came across this great blog post.

http://libsyn.net/how-to-open-file-explorer-to-this-pc-by-default-in-windows-10/

I have used method 3 with a replace command for a user registry setting in the Domain Group Policy. Now when ever users logon this policy is set and the registry is altered to make File Explorer open in ‘This PC’ view by default. More happy customers and another job ticked off the list!

Windows 10 Useful Tools – Uninstalling Windows 10 Built-in Apps

I’m currently trialing out Windows 10 in our environment and working out little tricks to get things how we want them. I found that Windows 10 comes with many built-in Apps which we don’t need. So I decided  to find a way to remove them and stubbled across this cool article on HowToGeek.

How to Uninstall Windows 10’s Built-in Apps (and How to Reinstall Them)

What does the end of Windows 2003 mean for you?

What does the end of Windows 2003 mean for you?
On July 14th 2015 Microsoft will officially end support for Windows Server 2003. Many schools and businesses are still using this outdated OS on their servers and with the end of product support I thought I’d write a short blog post to help you understand what this means.

 

windows server 2003 end of life

windows server 2003 end of life

 
Well first of all, I will point out that your servers won’t suddenly stop working. They will continue to work as normal and you won’t notice anything different. Files will be served, logins will be accepted and IP addresses will still be distributed. However this doesn’t mean you can sit back and ignore this important event. After the 14th July you will no longer receive updates from Microsoft. This means your server which is the brains of your IT network/system will be open to vulnerabilities. If someone finds a security hole in Windows Server 2003 then Microsoft will not send you the annoying updates to block the hole and keep your server secure. Plus, if you get an error or bug in any of your applications running on Server 2003 or even in Windows itself, you will not be supported! So if you decide to ignore this and continue running Server 2003 your whole system will become vulnerable and open to attacks/viruses/security issues and bugs/errors. Is it worth ignoring this and risking it? No!

What next? Unfortunately most servers running Windows 2003 have old server specs and won’t run Windows 2012 Server (the latest version) or at least won’t run it to its full potential. So the answer is to purchase a new server. This also means the fancy migration tools that are built in to windows server 2012 can be used to Migrate all your settings, files etc. If you are in the UK and would like a quote for a new server please get in touch. Plus if you are based in Leicestershire or surrounding areas we can quote for a full install!

Managing Google Chrome via Group Policy and creating a Chromebook style Windows Laptop

Over the last few days I’ve been working at turning an old laptop into a Chromebook style laptop. Obviously its not a 100% chrome OS but I feel I’ve managed to achieve the best of both worlds. So here is a brief description of what I’ve done.

First I installed a fresh copy of Windows 8.1 onto the laptop and connected it up to my Domain. I then put the laptop into a new org unit on my Domain for testing and created a new group policy object in the org unit. Before I can use the group policy with Chrome I had to install the Chrome group policy templates. These are available from the site below along with a list, description and examples of all the policies you can set.

https://www.chromium.org/administrators/policy-list-3

After I’d installed the policies I opened up the group policy and set up the computer configuration to install Chrome via MSI (available here) and then setup my computer policy. How you set the policy depends on how you want it to work but I included things like

  • start up pages
  • enforcing safe modes
  • preventing developer tools
  • setting Ephemeral profile (forces chrome to log out on browser close)
  • hiding the web store
  • preventing incognito mode
  • restrict chrome to only my google apps domain users
  • forcing extension installs (more help on gathering update url for this here)

I then created a new user and a group policy for the user where I set the user configuration to lock down the windows laptop including preventing access to control panel, locking taskbars etc.

Finally I setup the laptop to auto logon as the new domain user and told chrome to automatically start on logon.

Now I have a laptop which is locked down, loads up quickly, auto loads chrome, sets chrome restrictions and then when a user has finished using Chrome they are auto logged out upon browser close. This can also be further enhanced by using Google Apps and setting the Chrome User Settings for different org units within your Google Apps Domain. Then each user will receive their own apps upon logon to chrome and access to their own Drive, Email etc etc.

Although this is only a brief explanation I hope it gives you an idea and points you in the direction of turning old laptops into chromebook style machines in your environment.

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Thanks

Exciting News – ICTtechie has Expanded!

Its been a long while since I’ve done a blog post due to the increasing demand on my time with running ICTtechie while still working for another School. However this hasn’t stopped me working hard in the background to make ICTtechie even better. Today I’m really excited to announce that ICTtechie is now the complete one stop shop for all your ICT needs. I’ve worked hard to join together with some of the UK’s leading computer distributors, enabling ICTtechie to supply you with anything from a new mouse to a complete new solution for your school!

  

We can now supply all the leading brands including HP, Fujitsu, Epson, SMART, Netgear, Apple and many more. And here’s the even better news, as ICTtechie is a small business with low overheads it allows costs to be kept low and thus we can pass these savings on to you! Also with over 15 years experience working in schools with a large range of equipment and being family run, we can ensure your get a friendly and knowledgable service. The aim is to help you get the right products for your school while helping you stretch your budget further.

So if you are looking for some more ipads, laptops, touch screens, network equipment or anything else why not give us a try and let us be one of your three quotes. All you need to do is drop us an email to admin@icttechie.co.uk with all your requirements or request a callback by leaving your contact details and a convenient time when you can take calls.

Also did you know we offer a free broadband consultation service? If your broadband is up for renewal in the next 6-9 months then contact us on the details above to find out more.

Finally if you have a bigger project coming up in the summer and require installation of a new server, wifi, touchscreens, ipads or a new computer suite again we would love to be one of your three quotes.

Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and we look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sphero 2.0 Review

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been playing with a very clever robotic ball which is controlled and programmed via the iPad. More info about Sphero can be found here.

Sphero Box Contents

 

First Impressions
When I first unpacked the Sphero I was very surprised at how solid it felt and its size. To give it some perspective it’s about the size of a tennis ball. This gave me confidence in Sphero in that it would be able to bang into things without getting damaged. I was also pleased to find two ramps and a clever wireless charging unit in the box.

 

Sphero Charger and Ball

Charging
The Sphero is supplied with a clever wireless charging base which has a universal plug on the end with all the adapters for different countries. To charge you just place the Sphero heavy end down into the charging base. The Sphero then started flashing and so did the base. The base continued to flash until it showed a solid light approx 3 hours later when the Sphero had been fully charged.

Apps
While the Sphero was charging I took the opportunity to check out the apps available. I was pleasantly surprised at how many free apps where available. In total I counted over 25 apps on both iTunes and Google Play Store. All of the apps need the main Sphero app to work so I downloaded that into my iPad first along with some of the others but not all. From what I can see the apps give some form of interaction for everyone with the Sphero and I imagine this will only be added to over time.

Connectivity
Now I had a charged Sphero and the main Sphero app installed I was ready to get started. The Sphero connects to devices via Bluetooth and found this to be a very simple process. The Sphero flashes through a sequence of three colours when in pairing mode and thing this is a very clever way to pair the devices.

Sphero App Drive Screenshot

First Play
The first time I loaded the app it walked me through using the different controls and I found it very simple to get the Sphero moving. I was able to control the Sphero very easily and got it moving around the room with easy. I then investigated the other options in the app including being able to change the colour and speed of the Sphero. Going further I found that as I used the app further I gained points and was able to trade these for some built in tricks like getting the Sphero to dance, sneeze, jump and many other things.

Childs Play
To give the Sphero the ultimate test I decided to let my children (aged 4 and 7) have a play with it. They both found it very easy to move around and loved being able to make it change colour. My 4 year old was soon driving it around the house under tables and through doors. My 7 year old was more interested in getting it to jump over the ramps and make it dance. They both really enjoyed it and every day since I’ve a “Daddy can we play with the ball on your iPad”

Sphero Macrolab App

Education
As well as using the Sphero at home I took it to one of my code clubs and used it with the MacroLab app. This app allows you to program the Sphero by using a preset list of options. These options can also be altered using sliders to make the Sphero move, change colour etc. The MacroLab app can also be used when not connected to the Sphero. I found this to be very useful as the groups could create their programs and code for the Sphero on separate iPads. We then connected up the Sphero and tested as and when required. The only thing to remember here was to ensure Bluetooth was turned off on all devices apart from the one giving the Sphero code. I gave the club a challenge to code the Sphero to navigate around a small course and use the ramps to jump into a box. I kept it simple as it was the first time everyone had used a Spbero. The children loved it and were fully engaged in creating the code. They started adding in extra challenges like changing the colour and found the MacroLab app very easy to use. Most groups completed the challenge in the hour long club. They all now want one for Christmas.

Conclusion
To conclude I feel the Sphero is a fantastic accessory for the iPad or tablet and will bring many hours of joy to all age ranges whether at home or in an educational setting.
What do you think of the Sphero? Do you want one?

How to Install System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager – A Step by Step Guide

Just a quick post to point you to an amazing site I found this week. After a major server failure I needed to reinstall our SCCM setup. So I decided to take the opportunity to upgrade to the latest versions. As I didn’t have much time to research and read etc I decided to find a step by step guide. After a short time googling I came across this site and found it to be so good that I thought I’d share for others.

http://prajwaldesai.com/sccm-2012-r2-step-by-step-guide/

I hope you find it useful. Enjoy

Simple Guide to Installing Microsoft Office 2013 via Group Policy (GPO)

Today I decided to update our Office from 2010 to 2013. Rather than going round lots of computers to install it though I decided to do a quick ‘Google’ to find a script and I came across this fab site so I thought I’d share it. Enjoy

Deploy Office 2013 with GPO – the simple way

How to update your iPad or iPhone to iOS8 using iTunes

With the release of the much talked about iOS update happening this week you properly want to upgrade to see what the fuss is about. However many people have found that the update is to large to do directly on their device. There are two solutions to this. You could either delete lots of apps, photos and music to free up nearly 7GB of space or you can follow my video below showing you how to do the upgrade using iTunes. This not only saves you from deleting anything it also has the advantage of doing a full backup before upgrading incase anything goes wrong. You just need a windows computer or Mac with the latest version of iTunes installed from here and a usb to lightning cable. Good Luck

If you would like to see whats new in iOS8 before you upgrade, heres the list of updates and features from Apple.

This update contains hundreds of new features, including the following:

  •   Messages improvements
  • ◦  Tap to Talk to send your voice, a video or a photo with just a swipe
  • ◦  Group messaging options to name a conversation, add a contact, remove a contact or leave a conversation
  • ◦  New details view with Do Not Disturb, location sharing and attachments view
  •          Photos improvements
  • ◦  Smart editing tools to adjust light and colour with a swipe
  • ◦  Fine-tune controls to adjust exposure, brightness, contrast, highlights, shadows and more
  • ◦  Search by date, location or album name, or use smart suggestions
  • ◦  Smart albums for Slo-mo videos, Bursts, Panoramas and Time-lapse
  • ◦  Third-party photo filters and editing tools supported directly in Photos
  • ◦  Your photos and metadata from iPhoto will be migrated to Photos. Books, Journals and Slideshows will be converted to albums containing only photos. iPhoto for iOS is not supported on devices running iOS 8 or later.
  •          Camera improvements
  • ◦  Time-lapse mode
  • ◦  Capture timer
  • ◦  Adjust exposure with a simple nudge to lighten or darken a photo prior to capture
  • ◦  Burst mode on front-facing camera on iPhone 5s
  • ◦  Panorama for iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display
  •          QuickType keyboard
  • ◦  Predictive typing personalised to your writing style, and customised based on the recipient and the app
  •        ◦  Predictive typing is available in English (Australia, Canada, UK, US), French (Canada, France, Switzerland), German (Germany, Switzerland), Italian, Portuguese (Brazil), Spanish and Thai
  • ◦  Third-party keyboard support
  •          Health
  •   ◦  New Health app with easy-to-read dashboard of health and fitness data
  • ◦  Ability to share health data with apps to provide a more comprehensive way to manage your health and fitness
  • ◦  Add a Medical ID with information about allergies, medical conditions and more, with the option to make this accessible from the Lock screen
  • ◦  Available on iPhone and iPod touch
  •          Family Sharing
  • ◦  Share iTunes, iBooks and App Store purchases with up to six members of your family.
  •     ◦  Pay for family purchases with a single credit card and approve purchases by children with Ask to Buy
  • ◦  Easily share family photos, a family calendar, locations and more
  •          iCloud Drive
  • ◦  Store all your documents in iCloud and access them from your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac or PC
  • ◦  Share the same file across multiple compatible apps
  • ◦  Edits you make on one device update on all your devices automatically
  •          Continuity features so your iPhone, iPad and Mac work together more seamlessly
  • ◦  Handoff to continue what you’re doing as you move from one device to another
  • ◦  Make and receive calls and send and receive SMS or MMS messages on your iPad or Mac
  • ◦  Instant Hotspot to automatically use your mobile connection to get online with your other devices
  • ◦  AirDrop compatibility with OS X Yosemite
  • ◦  Available on iPhone 5 or later, iPad (4th generation), iPad Air, iPad mini and iPod touch (5th generation)
  •          Spotlight improvements
  • ◦  Displays suggestions from Wikipedia entries, places nearby, films (US only), popular web sites, App Store, iTunes Store and iBooks Store
  • ◦  Safari also supports Spotlight suggestions alongside Top Hit and search suggestions
  • ◦  Supported for local languages in US, UK, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland
  •          Mail improvements
  • ◦  Easily jump between drafts and your inbox with a simple swipe down on the draft
  • ◦  Intelligent suggestions for Calendar events and Contacts
  • ◦  VIP threads
  •          Siri improvements
  • ◦  Improvements to responsiveness, reliability and accuracy
  • ◦  “Hey, Siri” option to initiate Siri using just your voice when your device is plugged in
  • ◦  Streaming voice recognition
  • ◦  Works with Shazam to answer “What song is playing?”
  • ◦  Purchase content from iTunes Store
  •          Safari improvements
  • ◦  DuckDuckGo search engine support
  • ◦  Private browsing per tab
  • ◦  Subscribe to RSS feeds in Shared Links
  • ◦  Use Camera to scan and enter credit card info
  •          Maps improvements
  • ◦  Flyover city tours
  • ◦  Maps place cards in Phone and Contacts
  • ◦  Inline map view and travel time notifications for Calendar events
  •          App Store improvements
  • ◦  New Explore tab for easier category browsing
  • ◦  Top trending searches displayed in Search tab
  • ◦  Scrolling search results
  • ◦  App video previews
  • ◦  Editors’ Choice badges
  •          Quick access to key contacts in multitasking view
  •          Interactive Notifications for Messages, Mail, Calendar, Reminders and enabled third-party apps
  •          New Tips app to help you do more with your iOS devices
  •          iBooks app built into iOS, now with auto night mode and new organisation for book series
  •          Podcasts app built into iOS
  •          Battery usage by app
  •          iCloud Keychain can use saved website passwords to easily sign in to associated apps
  •          FaceTime Audio call waiting
  •          Rich text editing in Notes
  •          Peer-to-peer AirPlay discovery and playback
  •          Enterprise features
  • ◦  Expanded data protection to Calendar, Contacts, Messages, Reminders and Notes in addition to Mail and third-party apps
  • ◦  Per-message S/MIME email controls
  • ◦  Improved UI to make it easier for users to understand the remote management of their device
  • ◦  Automatic reply for Exchange
  • ◦  Free/busy lookup for Calendar invitations
  • ◦  MDM Managed books can be automatically pushed to users
  •          Accessibility features
  • ◦  Redesigned Zoom with one-handed control and multiple zoom modes including picture-in-picture
  •    ◦  Built-in timer and Touch ID support for Guided Access
  • ◦  Speak Screen to read out contents of the screen via gesture or Siri command
  • ◦  VoiceOver improvements including Alex voice option and Braille input support
  • ◦  Multi-device support for MFi hearing aids to seamlessly switch from one paired iOS device to another
  •          Features for China
  • ◦  Vector-based maps
  • ◦  Turn-by-turn navigation
  • ◦  Lunar calendar support
  • ◦  Improved predictive input
  •   ◦  Improved weather data
  •          Expanded language support
  • ◦  Dictation support for 22 additional languages: Croatian, Catalan, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Indonesian, Malay, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Romanian, Russian, Slovakian, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian and Vietnamese
  • ◦  New keyboards for English (India), Bengali, Filipino, Marathi, Slovenian and Urdu
  • ◦  Hindi localisation
  • ◦  Definitions of a selected word for additional languages: Russian, Portuguese (Brazil), Thai and Turkish
  • ◦  Spanish-English bilingual dictionary
  • ◦  Spell check for Turkish
  • ◦  Hebrew language support for Text to Speech and VoiceOver
  •          New developer capabilities, including
  • ◦  Extensibility, giving apps new sharing options and the ability to create widgets, photo filters and editing tools in Photos, and third-party keyboards
  • ◦  Metal, a new graphics technology for game providers to bring console-class 3D games to mobile devices
  • ◦  SpriteKit and SceneKit for improved 2D and 3D games
  • ◦  HealthKit, so health and fitness apps can share their data with each other
  •      ◦  HomeKit, a new way for you to control supported devices in your home using Siri
  • ◦  Touch ID support so you can sign in to third-party apps with just your fingerprint
  • ◦  CloudKit, offering a complete and scalable back-end solution, helping developers eliminate the need for writing server code and maintaining servers
  •          Bug fixes

Some features may not be available in all countries or all areas.

For information on the security content of this update, please visit this website:

http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1222

 

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