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Photo Credit: Microsoft & Michael Cruse
An Error Occurred – Try Refreshing?

An Error Occurred – Try Refreshing?

Sometimes apps have their own mind and do not behave as we wish.  I have dealt with a problem where Microsoft MSN Money App for Windows 10 displays the following message on several tabs “An error occurred” and “Try refreshing?” with a link to “Refresh this page.”  Refreshing the page never helped.  I tried reinstalling the app, resetting Internet Explorer settings, and registering the App Store with PowerShell, but nothing corrected the problem.

I was able to fix the problem, but trying these steps is done so at your own risk. I did not look at the implications of taking ownership as described below and deleting the wrong folders will break your apps.

  • Uninstall Money by right-clicking on the Tile and choosing “Uninstall.”
  • Navigate with File Explorer to C:\Program Files\WindowsApps
    You may need to turn on the setting to display hidden folders, and you must grant yourself access to the folder by taking ownership.  This will cascade down through the folder tree.  You can do this just to the base folder and the specific sub-folders that need to be deleted if you wish (Look at Step 7 in the Ownership link or Google how to do it.)
  • Delete the three folders that start with “Microsoft.BingFinance.” DO NOT DELETE ANY OTHER FOLDERS.
  • Reinstall Money from the Microsoft App Store
  • Start the Money App!
Opportunities at the Application Layer

Opportunities at the Application Layer

I saw a headline earlier today that Bill Gates spent the day installing Windows 8.1.  I too, in my free time, have spent the last couple days beginning to set up a new Windows 8.1 laptop.  I am certainly known to be an advocate for Microsoft since I built much of my career on their products, but by no means would I consider myself a fanatic.

The installation of the operating system has gotten easier with every release of Windows since the early days.  No matter if you are a Microsoft or Apple fan, I would argue that every release of the operating system for both platforms continues to get better with time.  I certainly am not enjoying the wipe and reload process related to replacing a laptop, but it is certainly better than what 5 or 10 years ago.  Back then, it was a balmy 8 to 10 hours to complete the job.

The operating system is probably the easiest part to get installed.  Drivers and Windows updates come down extremely easily. My frustration with the entire process continues to be the application layer.  It takes absolutely forever to install all the applications and utilities back on your computer after replacing the hardware or just completing a fresh start with a clean operating system.

It will take about an hour to get an operating system installed and patched, but it could easily take me 4 to 6 hours to download install and configure every application utility that I use.  Each time I do this, I always swear that I am going to make an image of the hard drive before I start using it.  The idea being that the very next time I need to do this, I can just drop an image on it and be done.  Needless to say, I never do it for some strange reason.  Maybe it is just my own morbid fascination with the process.

The market is beginning to challenge application providers to come together with easier and more portable application installation and preference retention methodologies using the cloud.  It unquestionably should not be that hard to track all of your application settings and write those preferences to the cloud. Imagine the very next time you install the software and login, it will bring down all of your preferences to the device.  Time Saver!!

Google with Chrome certainly has done this and Microsoft has made significant strides with the latest version of Office that are tied to a Microsoft account.

These are two examples where the software manufacturers got it right, but there are myriad of other applications and utilities out there that do not leverage this simple time-saving and customer beneficial enhancement.  Mobility is driving innovation with applications that span all platforms and remember whom you are no matter what device you are using.  This is the new frontier and opportunity for all application vendors to innovate and modernize their platforms to become more customer-focused.

Photo Credit: Michael Cruse
Read this before you publish Blog Posts in Word 2013!

Read this before you publish Blog Posts in Word 2013!

My last post briefly outlined the steps to publish a blog post with Word 2013. Microsoft Word makes a very good tool for creating and publishing blog posts, but once you publish the post you are not done. Some good old-fashioned post-cleanup must be completed. Because of this, I think the “Publish” button should never be used in Microsoft Word 2013. Publish the post as a draft and then publish it from within WordPress or your preferred blogging platform once the necessary post-cleanup is complete.

After doing a few posts with Microsoft Word 2013, I was surprised when I looked at the code version of the posting. I was expecting an extensive amount of Microsoft inspired HTML embedded in the post. This has been my experience when someone uses Word to edit a web page, but shockingly, the blog post was perfectly cleaned and well-organized. This was a very pleasant surprise and has reaffirmed my opinion that word makes an excellent blog authoring tool. So what are the cleanup steps needed?

To start off, we need to add tags to the post. Word allows you to add categories to the post but not post tags. Your blogging platform may call these by different names but essentially a category is an organizational hierarchy, and tags should be considered more as keywords. Based on your theme and/or platform, you may need to edit another post to remove some categories from them. This is common if you have a featured category that highlights a particular post on the top of your blog and does not necessarily take the most-recent post. When you publish from within Word, you have to remember to go back in and make possible category adjustments. If you are in you are already in your blogging platform to do the publication of the post, it is easier to remember to do some of these category cleanup steps because you are right there.

You need to preview the post to make sure that all formatting is correct. Some text formatting is usually required. For example, I often use justified text in my blog posts, but Word 2013 does not support justified text for blog posts. I also ran into several issues where I had it to go in and add a line break to the code of a blog post to get some specific text spacing I was looking for. Albeit, these are minor little issues that anyone would run into and would have to be done anyway no matter what authoring tool was used.

I found that all the images were uploaded at the properly scaled size. When I inserted an image into my blog post, I scaled it to 45%. I was expecting a similar force scaling on-line, but I found that word had scaled the image properly when it posted it to the Web server. This was extremely convenient, and a delightful find. You should also take a few minutes to clean up the image names and descriptions in the media library. Otherwise, you will be left with the random names that Word decided to call the images. Furthermore, you will need to set the Featured Image if you use that function in WordPress.

If you use post plug-ins, such as SEO, you will need to add the information to the post. It is common for most bloggers to use these types of plug-ins and you often have to fill out additional information such as custom post titles, keywords, and description.

One other tip, do not make iterative Publish as Draft from within Word if you have added images to the post. I found that each time I published a draft, images were uploaded to my WordPress site. When I looked at my media library, I found the images had been uploaded five times for a single post. This corresponded to the number of times I saved via my work via ‘Publish as Draft’. If you do wish to save your work-in-progress multiple times, then Publish as Draft but complete the needed cleanup in your media library.

Have other usage tips?  Please leave a comment and share!

Photo Credit: freeimages.com/sanja gjenero
Everything Needs Maintenance, Even a Blog

Everything Needs Maintenance, Even a Blog

It is been my general experience that many auto mechanics typically have cars that run in less than ideal condition. IT professionals often have computers and websites that are similarly plagued with less than ideal configuration and are sorely in need of maintenance. As it goes with mechanics, so it goes with IT. We spend all day working on computers, and then we have to go home and work on them some more…really?!? This is not exactly what I call a high priority in the grand scheme of things.

The result: many IT people end up with personal sites and projects that tend not to be updated as often as needed or even to the level we recommend our clients to maintain. It is ironic, but understandable if you are in this field. You spend all day working on client web projects, and you really want to go home and install the latest security patches on your own server/site? However, neglecting the regular maintenance will catch up with us eventually and create greater problems that we do not really have the time to resolve.

For example, I was a couple of releases behind WordPress and about five releases behind my blog theme. I finally took some time to patch my server, install the latest version of WordPress, update on my plug-ins, and install the latest release of my site’s theme. The result was a nicely updated WordPress site that did not function properly. But heck, I was fully patched and as secured as I can reasonably make the site. That is a plus right? The few pages that would load seemed to load a little faster than normal, but I had to start the long process of fixing everything that was been broken.

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