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Maximizing your Windows 10 Battery Life

Maximize your Windows 10 Battery Life and Reduce your Device Performance, featuring X1 Carbon 2nd Gen.

Recently I was preparing for a trip to a music festival while taking classes over the summer. I know that I needed to keep up with my courses but I also knew that I wasn’t going to be able to charge my computers battery very often, so I decided to write a short article on how you can maximize your computer’s battery life beyond normal power-saving methods.

After this guide you’ll be saving battery like nobody’s business and your laptop will be significantly less usable then before! Before we get started it’s important that you’re aware of my computers specs; depending on your computer’s specifications and application usage, results may vary.

The make of my computer is Lenovo and the model is the X1 Carbon 2nd Gen.

OS: Windows 10 Pro

Version: 1607 build 14383.1198

Processor: Intel Core i5-4300U at 1.90 Ghz – Turboboost to 2.49 Ghz

Ram: 8.00 GB (7.68 Usable) DDR3 at 1600 MHz

Hard Drive: 256GB M.2 SSD eDrive Opal capable

Wireless: Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 (2×2, 802.11ac) with Bluetooth® 4.0

Integrated Lithium Polymer 8-cell (45Wh) RapidCharge battery

Also note that the only application that I was using was Microsoft Edge – to save battery over using Google Chrome.

First head over to Device Manager (Note: you’ll require internet for this step). This can be accessed from the Windows Power User menu by pressing the Windows Key + X at the same time. From the Device Manager menu go through every device and make sure that the drivers for each device are up to date. This should ensure that all of your devices are using the best possible drivers that are more efficient for your system’s battery; out of date drivers can adversely affect your systems performance as well.

While in Device Manager we’re also going to make a few more changes. Depending on your how you use your machine, you may want to adjust these settings to your needs. Click on the “Network adapters” drop down menu and double click on the Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC (this may be named differently depending on your device’s wireless card). Click over to the Advanced tab and change the “Preferred Band” to 5.2 GHz, “Roaming Aggressiveness” to a lower setting (lower is better unless in a congested wireless area). Now click over to the “Power Management” tab and make sure that the “Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power” is checked. Click the “OK” button and move on to the “Intel Ethernet Connection I218-LM (also may be different on your device) and double click on this as well. Make sure that “Enable PME” is set to enabled, “Energy Efficient Ethernet” is set to on and “System Idle Power Saver” is set to enabled. After that, navigate over to the “Power Management” tab and make sure again that the “Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power” is checked again.

After going through your drivers, head over to the Power & Sleep settings for your laptop. This can be accessed by pressing the Windows key, navigating to Settings -> System (Display notifications, apps, power) -> Power & Sleep. I’d recommend setting your Screen to turn off after at maximum of 5 minutes and setting your computer to Sleep after a maximum of 15 minutes. Then, navigate to the bottom of that page and click on Additional power settings. This will bring your to your computer’s Power Options.

You may want to switch over to the Power saver plan, which should automatically drop your computer down to a more efficient battery saving mode, but we want to push that even further. Click on “Change plan settings” to make some changes.

Consider changing “Adjust plan brightness” to the minimum usable brightness, as it’s one of the biggest aspects of battery saving. I however made sure that the computer’s brightness was always at minimum possible level was a must to keep my laptop alive.. Primarily I used the computer in the early morning or late at night so that I could keep the screen at the minimum brightness while still being able to use the laptop.

After changing your brightness to the minimum, click on “Change advanced power settings”. Here’s where you can adjust the fine controls for different hardware and software’s battery usage. Make sure that the top drop down menu says “Power saver [Active]” and move on the the main table of items. I would recommend changing this to your own personal preferences but there are a few major aspects I would recommend adjusting in this panel.

In “Desktop background settings” -> “Slide show” I would recommend setting this to paused while on battery power.

In “Wireless Adapter Settings” -> “Power Saving Mode” switch this over to Maximum Power Saving on battery power as well.

In “Sleep” -> “Sleep after” make sure these are set to the values you set earlier, around 5 and 15 respectively to On battery and Plugged in. Also in “Allow hybrid sleep” is set to off for both options, this is because hybrid sleep is more taxing on the battery. In “Hibernate after” set these to slightly higher values than your “Sleep after” values. This will allow your PC to conserve more battery than typical sleep. Also set “Allow wake timers” to disabled on battery power. We don’t want anything taking your laptop away from it’s beauty sleep.

In “Intel CPPC Energy Efficiency Settings” -> “Enable Energy Efficient Optimization” and make this enabled for both options. Also in “Energy Efficiency Aggressiveness” and set both options to 100%.

In “USB settings” -> “USB selective suspend setting” set both of these options to enabled.

In “Intel Graphics Settings” -> “Intel Graphics Power Plan” set both of these options to maximum battery life.

In “PCI Express” -> “Link State Power Management” set both of these options to Maximum power savings.

In “Processor power management” -> “Minimum processor state” set both options to 5%. This is the minimum percentage that your processor will run at. I wouldn’t recommend setting this to below 5% for minimum operation. Also in “System cooling policy” change both options to Passive cooling, which will slow your CPU before slowing your fans. Also in “Maximum processor state” set this to below 100%. I personally set my computer to a maximum of 50%, but depending on your use case, this will vary.

In “Display” most of these setting we’ve already touched earlier, but in “Enable adaptive brightness” and disable this setting. We don’t want the system to decide it wants a brighter screen and eat up valuable battery resources.

In “Battery” I would recommend just making sure that hibernation comes on in your “Critical battery action” settings and that your critical battery level is set to around 7%.

A couple additional changes that I made is to upscale the resolution on the computer so that it’s not having to display content in native 2K on the X1’s screen. This depends on the machine that you are using however, and your preference of how you want your machine’s screen to look.

Now there are a few things left to be changed, if I haven’t missed anything in Windows 10. For these you’ll want to shut down your computer and enter its BIOS settings. On the X1 Carbon that I was using, this is done by hitting Enter repeatedly after hitting the power button.

BIOS settings user interfaces tend to vary dramatically across computers and manufacturers, but for the X1 Carbon that I was working with it looked something like this

Image result for x1 carbon gen 2 bios(aside from the fact that this isn’t a Gen 2, it’s a very similar interface.)

In the BIOS I was working with, it doesn’t recognize mouse or trackpad input, so you’ll likely have to navigate with arrow keys, enter and escape; bear with me.

Navigate over to the “Config” tab and down arrow down to the “> USB option”. Make sure that the “USB UEFI BIOS Support” is enabled, “Always on USB” is disabled, and “USB 3.0 Mode” is set to auto. Now hit escape and down arrow down to the “> Power” option. Hit enter and I would recommend switching all of the settings over to battery optimized settings. For this X1 specifically, make sure that “Intel SpeedStep technology” is set to Enabled, “Mode for AC” is set to battery optimized, “Mode for Battery” is set to battery optimized. Also, make sure to switch the settings under “Adaptive Thermal Management”, “Scheme for AC” is set to balanced and “Scheme for Battery” is set to balanced. Now under “CPU Power Management”, make sure this is set to enabled, and make sure that “Intel Rapid Start Technology” is set to disabled. After modifying all these settings, hit escape again.

Depending on your personal use, you can head over to the “> Virtualization” settings and disable the Intel Virtualization and VT-d features, although this may adversely affect performance and prevent operating system virtualization entirely, so use at your discretion.

Thanks for bearing with me until now. Now you should have a remarkably effective battery-saving laptop that performs significantly worse than it did before. This worked out great for me working on course assignments while on a camping trip. I hope this works out well for you as well!

Setting Roam Aggression on Windows Computers

What is Wireless Roaming?

Access Points

To understand what roaming is, you first have to know what device makes the software function necessary.

If you are only used to household internet setups, the idea of roaming might be a little strange to think about. In your house you have your router, which you connect to, and that’s all you need to do. You may have the option of choosing between 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels, however that’s as complicated as it can get.

Now imagine that your house is very large, let’s say the size of UMass Amherst. Now, from your router in your living room, the DuBois Library, it might be a little difficult to connect to from all the way up in your bedroom on Orchard Hill. Obviously in this situation, the one router will never suffice, and so a new component is needed.

An Access Point (AP for short) provides essentially the same function as a router, except that multiple APs used in conjunction project a Wi-Fi network further than a single router ever could. All APs are tied back to a central hub, which you can think of as a very large, powerful modem, which provides the internet signal via cable from the Internet Service Provider (ISP) out to the APs, and then in turn to your device.

On to Roaming

So now that you have your network set up with your central hub in DuBois (your living room), and have an AP in your bedroom (Orchard Hill), what happens if you want to go between the two? The network is the same, but how is your computer supposed to know that the AP in Orchard Hill is not the strongest signal when you’re in DuBois. This is where roaming comes in. Based on what ‘aggressiveness’ your WiFi card is set to roam at, your computer will test the connection to determine which AP has the strongest signal based on your location, and then connect to it. The network is set up such that it can tell the computer that all the APs are on the same network, and allow your computer to transfer your connection without making you input your credentials every time you move.

What is Roam Aggressiveness?

The ‘aggressiveness’ with which your computer roams determines how frequently and how likely it is for your computer to switch APs. If you have it set very high, your computer could be jumping between APs frequently. This can be a problem as it can cause your connection to be interrupted frequently as your computer authenticates to another AP. Having the aggressiveness set very low, or disabling it, can cause your computer to ‘stick’ to one AP, making it difficult to move around and maintain a connection. The low roaming aggression is the more frequent problem people run into on large networks like eduroam at UMass. If you are experiencing issues like this, you may want to change the aggressiveness to suit your liking. Here’s how:

How to Change Roam Aggressiveness on Your Device:

First, navigate to the Control Panel which can be found in your Start menu. Then click on Network and Internet.

From there, click on Network and Sharing Center. 

Then, you want to select Wi-Fi next to Connections. Note: You may not have eduroam listed next to Wi-Fi if you are not connected or connected to a different network.

Now, select Properties and agree to continue when prompted for Administrator permissions.

After selecting Configure for your wireless card (your card will differ with your device from the one shown in the image above).

Finally, navigate to Advanced, and then under Property select Roaming Sensitivity Level. From there you can change the Value based on what issue you are trying to address.

And that’s all there is to it! Now that you know how to navigate to the Roaming settings, you can experiment a little to find what works best for you. Depending on your model of computer, you may have more than just High, Middle, Low values.

Changing roaming aggressiveness can be helpful for stationary devices, like desktops, too. Perhaps someone near you has violated UMass’ wireless airspace policy and set up and hotspot network or a wireless printer. Their setup may interfere with the AP closest to you, and normally, it could cause packet loss, or latency (ping) spiking. You may not even be able to connect for a brief time. Changing roaming settings can help your computer move to the next best AP while the interference is occurring, resulting in a more continuous experience for you.

What is S.M.A.R.T?

Have you ever thought your computer might be dying but you don’t know what? Symptoms that people might be familiar with may include slowing down, increased startup time, programs freezing, constant disk usage, and audible clicking. While these symptoms may happen to a lot of people, they don’t necessarily mean the hard drive is circling the drain. With a practically unlimited number of other things that could make the computer slow down and become unusable, how are you supposed to find out exactly what the problem is? Fortunately, the most common part to fail in a computer, the hard drive (or data drive), has a built-in testing technology that even users can use to diagnose their machines without handing over big bucks to a computer repair store or having to buy an entire new computer if their computer is out of warranty.

Enter SMART (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology). SMART is a monitoring suite that checks computer drives for a list of parameters that would indicate drive failure. SMART collects and stores data about the drive including errors, failures, times to spin up, reallocated sectors, and read/write abilities. While many of these attributes may be confusing in definition and even more confusing in their recorded numerical values, SMART software can predict a drive failure and even notify the user of the computer that the software has detected a failing drive. The user can then look at the results to verify, or in unsure, bring to a computer repair store for a verification and drive replacement.

So how does one get access to SMART? Many computers include built in diagnostic suites that can be accessed via a boot option when the computer first turns on. Others manufacturers require that you download an application without your operating system that can run a diagnostic test. These diagnostic suites will usually check the SMART status, and if the drive is in fact failing, the diagnostic suite will report a drive is failing or has failed. However, most of these manufacturer diagnostics will simply only say passed or failed, if you want access to the specific SMART data you will have to use a Windows program such as CrystalDiskInfo, a Linux program such as GSmartControl, or SMART Utility for Mac OS.

These SMART monitoring programs are intelligent enough to detect when a drive is failing, to give you ample time to back up your data. Remember, computer parts can always be replaced, lost data is lost forever. However, it should be noted that SMART doesn’t always detect when a drive fails. If a drive suffers a catastrophic failure like a physical drop or water damage while on SMART cannot predict these and the manufacturer is not at fault. Therefore, while SMART is best to be used as a tool to assess whether a drive is healthy or not, it is used most strongly in tandem with a good reliable backup system and not as a standalone protection against data failure.

Multiple Desktops in Windows 10

The concept of using multiple desktops isn’t new. Apple incorporated this feature back in 2007 starting with OS X 10.5 Leopard in the form of Spaces, allowing users to have up to 16 desktops at once. Since then, PC users have wondered if/when Microsoft would follow suit. Now, almost a decade later, they finally have.

Having more than one desktop allows you to separate your open windows into different groups and only focus on one group at a time. This makes it much easier to juggle working on multiple projects at once, giving each one a dedicated desktop. It’s also useful for keeping any distractions out of sight as you try to get your work done, while letting you easily shift into break mode at any time.

If you own a Windows computer and didn’t know about multiple desktops, you’re not alone! Microsoft didn’t include the feature natively until Windows 10, and even then they did it quietly with virtually no advertising for it at all. Here’s a quick guide on how to get started.

To access the desktops interface, simply hold the Windows Key and then press Tab. This will bring you to a page which lists the windows you currently have open. It will look something like this:

Here, you can see that I’ve got a few different tasks open. I’m trying to work on my art in MS Paint, but I keep getting distracted by YouTube videos and Moodle assignments. To make things a little easier, I can create a second desktop and divide these tasks up to focus on one at a time.

To create a new desktop, click the New desktop button in the bottom right corner of this screen. You will see the list of open desktops shown at the bottom:

Now you can see I have a clean slate on Desktop 2 to do whatever I want. You can select which desktop to enter by clicking on it. Once you are in a desktop, you can open up new pages there and it will only be open in that desktop. You can also move pages that are already open from one desktop to another. Let’s move my MS Paint window over to Desktop 2.

On the desktops interface, hovering over a desktop will bring up the list of open windows on that desktop. So, since I want to move a page from Desktop 1 to Desktop 2, I hover over Desktop 1 so I can see the MS Paint window. To move pages around, simply click and drag them to the desired desktop.

I dragged my MS Paint window over from Desktop 1 to Desktop 2. Now, when I open up Desktop 2, the only page I see is my beautiful artwork.

Finally, I can work on my art in peace without distractions! And if I decide I need a break and want to watch some YouTube videos, all I have to do is press Windows+Tab and select Desktop 1 where YouTube is already open.

If you’re still looking for a reason to upgrade to Windows 10, this could be the one. The feature really is super useful once you get the hang of it and figure out how to best use it for your needs. My only complaint is that we don’t have the ability to rename desktops, but this is minor and I’m sure it will be added in a future update.

 

Tips for Gaming Better on a Budget Laptop

Whether you came to college with an old laptop, or want to buy a new one without breaking the bank, making our basic computers faster is something we’ve all thought about at some point. This article will show you some software tips and tricks to improve your gaming experience without losing your shirt, and at the end I’ll mention some budget hardware changes you can make to your laptop. First off, we’re going to talk about in-game settings.

 

In-Game Settings:

All games have built in settings to alter the individual user experience from controls to graphics to audio. We’ll be talking about graphics settings in this section, primarily the hardware intensive ones that don’t compromise the look of the game as much as others. This can also depend on the game and your individual GPU, so it can be helpful to research specific settings from other users in similar positions.

V-Sync:

V-Sync, or Vertical Synchronization, allows a game to synchronize the framerate with that of your monitor. Enabling this setting will increase the smoothness of the game. However, for lower end computers, you may be happy to just run the game at a stable FPS that is less than your monitor’s refresh rate. (Note – most monitors have a 60Hz or 60 FPS refresh rate). For that reason, you may want to disable it to allow for more stable low FPS performance.

Anti-Aliasing:

Anti-Aliasing, or AA for short, is a rendering option which reduces the jaggedness of lines in-game. Unfortunately the additional smoothness heavily impacts hardware usage, and disabling this while keeping other things like texture quality or draw distance higher can make big performance improvements without hurting a game’s appearance too much. Additionally, there are many different kinds of AA options that games might have settings for. MSAA (Multisampling AA), and the even more intensive, TXAA (Temporal AA), are both better smoothing processes that have an even bigger impact on performance. Therefore turning these off on lower-end machines is almost always a must. FXAA (Fast Approximate AA) uses the least processing power, and can therefore be a nice setting to leave on if your computer can handle it.

Anisotropic Filtering (AF):

This setting adds depth of field to a game, by making things further away from your character blurrier. Making things blurrier might seem like it would make things faster, however it actually puts a greater strain on your system as it needs to make additional calculations to initiate the affect. Shutting this off can yield improvements in performance, and some players even prefer it, as it allows them to see distant objects more clearly.

Other Settings:

While the aforementioned are the heaviest hitters in terms of performance, changing some other settings can help increase stability and performance too (beyond just simple texture quality and draw distance tweaks). Shadows and reflections are often unnoticed compared to other effects, so while you may not need to turn them off, turning them down can definitely make an impact. Motion blur should be turned off completely, as it can make quick movements result in heavy lag spikes.

Individual Tweaks:

The guide above is a good starting point for graphics settings; because there are so many different models, there are any equally large number of combinations of settings. From this point, you can start to increase settings slowly to find the sweet spot between performance and quality.

Software:

Before we talk about some more advanced tips, it’s good practice to close applications that you are not using to increase free CPU, Memory, and Disk space. This alone will help immensely in allowing games to run better on your system.

Task Manager Basics:

Assuming you’ve tried to game on a slower computer, you’ll know how annoying it is when the game is running fine and suddenly everything slows down to slideshow speed and you fall off a cliff. Chances are that this kind of lag spike is caused by other “tasks” running in the background, and preventing the game you are running from using the power it needs to keep going. Or perhaps your computer has been on for awhile, so when you start the game, it runs slower than its maximum speed. Even though you hit the “X” button on a window, what’s called the “process tree” may not have been completely terminated. (Think of this like cutting down a weed but leaving the roots.) This can result in more resources being taken up by idle programs that you aren’t using right now. It’s at this point that Task Manager becomes your best friend. To open Task Manager, simply press CTRL + SHIFT + ESC at the same time or press CTRL + ALT + DEL at the same time and select Task Manager from the menu. When it first appears, you’ll notice that only the programs you have open will appear; click the “More Details” Button at the bottom of the window to expand Task Manager. Now you’ll see a series of tabs, the first one being “Processes” – which gives you an excellent overview of everything your CPU, Memory, Disk, and Network are crunching on. Clicking on any of these will bring the process using the highest amount of each resource to the top of the column. Now you can see what’s really using your computer’s processing power. It is important to realize that many of these processes are part of your operating system, and therefore cannot be terminated without causing system instability. However things like Google Chrome and other applications can be closed by right-clicking and hitting “End Task”. If you’re ever unsure of whether you can end a process or not safely, a quick google of the process in question will most likely point you in the right direction.

Startup Processes:

Here is where you can really make a difference to your computer’s overall performance, not just for gaming. From Task Manager, if you select the “Startup” tab, you will see a list of all programs and services that can start when your computer is turned on. Task Manager will give an impact rating of how much each task slows down your computers boot time. The gaming app Steam, for example, can noticeably slow down a computer on startup. A good rule of thumb is to allow virus protection to start with Windows, however everything else is up to individual preference. Shutting down these processes on startup can prevent unnecessary tasks from ever being opened, and allow for more hardware resource availability for gaming.

Power Usage:

You probably know that unlike desktops, laptops contain a battery. What you may not know is that you can alter your battery’s behavior to increase performance, as long as you don’t mind it draining a little faster. On the taskbar, which is by default located at the bottom of your screen, you will notice a collection of small icons next to the date and time on the right, one of which looks like a battery. Left-clicking will bring up the menu shown below, however right-clicking will bring up a menu with an option “Power Options” on it.

 

 

 

 

Clicking this will bring up a settings window which allows you to change and customize your power plan for your needs. By default it is set to “Balanced”, but changing to “High Performance” can increase your computer’s gaming potential significantly. Be warned that battery duration will decrease on the High Performance setting, although it is possible to change the battery’s behavior separately for when your computer is using the battery or plugged in.

Hardware:

Unlike desktops, for laptops there are not many upgrade paths. However one option exists for almost every computer that can have a massive effect on performance if you’re willing to spend a little extra.

Hard Disk (HDD) to Solid State (SSD) Drive Upgrade:

Chances are that if you have a budget computer, it probably came with a traditional spinning hard drive. For manufacturers, this makes sense as they are cheaper than solid states, and work perfectly well for light use. Games can be very demanding on laptop HDDs to recall and store data very quickly, sometimes causing them to fall behind. Additionally, laptops have motion sensors built into them which restrict read/write capabilities when the computer is in motion to prevent damage to the spinning disk inside the HDD. An upgrade to a SSD not only eliminates this restriction, but also has a much faster read/write time due to the lack of any moving parts. Although SSDs can get quite expensive depending on the size you want, companies such as Crucial or Kingston offer a comparatively cheap solution to Samsung or Intel while still giving you the core benefits of a SSD. Although there are a plethora of tutorials online demonstrating how to install a new drive into your laptop, make sure you’re comfortable with all the dangers before attempting, or simply take your laptop into a repair store to have them do it for you. It’s worth mentioning that when you install a new drive, you will need to reinstall Windows, and all your applications from your old drive.

Memory Upgrade (RAM):

Some laptops have an extra memory slot, or just ship with a lower capacity than what they are capable of holding. Most budget laptops will ship with 4GB of memory, which is often not enough to support both the system, and a game.

Upgrading or increasing memory can give your computer more headroom to process and store data without lagging up your entire system. Unlike with SSD upgrades, memory is very specific and it is very easy to buy a new stick that fits in your computer, but does not function with its other components. It is therefore critical to do your research before buying any more memory for your computer; that includes finding out your model’s maximum capacity, speed, and generation. The online technology store, Newegg, has a service here that can help you find compatible memory types for your machine.

Disclaimer: 

While these tips and tricks can help your computer to run games faster, there is a limit to what hardware is capable of. Budget laptops are great for the price point, and these user tricks will help squeeze out all their potential, but some games will simply not run on your machine. Make sure to check a game’s minimum and recommended specs before purchasing/downloading. If your computer falls short of minimum requirements, it might be time to find a different game or upgrade your setup.

Step-by-step walkthrough of downloading Office 365 Education

Microsoft Office is a useful suite of productivity applications that includes Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook, Access, and OneNote. Microsoft provides a no-cost subscription to college students, faculty, and staff to install these programs on up to 5 devices. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to get your free access to Microsoft Office 365:

  1. Navigate to the UMass IT website.
  2. Click on Software.
    UMass IT Website
  3. Scroll down, and in the Microsoft table, click on Microsoft Office 365 Education
    UMass IT Website - Microsoft Table
  4. A. If you are a student, click on the Microsoft Office 365 web site under the student section.
    UMass IT Website - Student 365 Link
    1.  If you are a faculty or staff member, click on the Microsoft Office 365 web site under the faculty and staff section.
      UMass IT Website - Faculty 365 Link
  5. Once on the landing page for Office 365, fill in your UMass email address and click Get started.
    Office 365 Education Landing Page
  6. A. If you are a student, click on I’m a Student
    B. Click on I’m a Teacher if you are either a faculty or staff member. The I’m a Teacher option will work if you are either a faculty or staff member.
    Microsoft Office 365 Education - Student or Teacher
  7. Check your UMass email for the confirmation email and click the Yes, that’s me link.
    Microsoft Office 365 Email Confirmation
  8. Create your account using your personal information.Microsoft Office 365 Education - Create Account
  9. Click Skip on the invitation page.
    Microsoft Office 365 Education - Invite Page
  10. Download your software by clicking the Install now button! If you don’t want anything in your web browser changed, make sure to uncheck the two boxes above the Install now button.
    Microsoft Office 365 Education - Download Software
    A. If you’re on Windows, this will download the installer for Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook, Access, Publisher, Skype for Business, and OneDrive for Business.
    B. If you’re on OS X, it will download the installer for Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook, and OneNote.
    With the Office 365 subscription, you will also have access to the Office Online suite of productivity software, all of which is listed below the install button.
  11. Once the installer is downloaded, run the installer.
    office365installer
  12. When the software is installed, you will be able to open any Office Suite program and use it as normal.
    Note: it may prompt you to sign in. If it does, be sure to use the same email address and password that you used when you signed up for Office 365 at the beginning of this walkthrough.
  13. You’re done! Enjoy Office 365 for the duration of your time at UMass Amherst!

Windows 10: 1 Year Later

Windows 10 was released to the public as a consumer ready operating system on July 29th, 2015. We nearly approached the end of its first year, and it has marked some changes for long-time Windows users. Reviews are still out on how it will compare to previous versions, especially how it will measure up and fill the shoes of the immensely popular Windows 7, and the seemingly universal hatred for Window 8 and just slightest love for 8.1 (Full Disclosure: I like Windows 8.1, I will however concede that Windows 8 at launch was indeed a mistake).

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Your computer won’t boot…now what?

You finally sat down to start that paper you’ve been putting off, hit the power button on your laptop and nothing but a folder with a question mark shows up. Or maybe you just got back from the library and just want a relaxing afternoon online. However, when you wake up your computer, all you see is a black screen and text reading “Boot device not found.”

When diagnosing issues where your computer won’t boot, there are a few different diagnostic tests that you can run to determine what is causing the issue. These can vary depending on what kind of computer you have. For all manufacturers, the first step is determining whether or not the computer turns on. With laptops, check whether or not any lights come on. If it is unplugged, try making sure the battery is seated correctly and plugging it into the power adapter (be sure to use a known-good wall outlet). If none of these work, the most likely cause is failure of the main logic board.

If your computer does turn on at all, this could mean there is a hardware failure. Usually if the computer doesn’t turn on at all this means there is some kind of power failure. It could be as simple as your battery dying, which can be solved by charging the laptop with a known good power adapter. On the other hand, this could also be caused by a motherboard that has failed.

The other hardware point of failure is usually the hard drive. In this case Windows and Macs will give two different errors. Macs will boot to a folder with a question mark. Windows could show a number of different screens depending on the manufacturer and how old the machine is. Usually it will look something like the following:

The last point of failure for boot failure is the operating system. If the operating system has been corrupted, it can cause any number of errors to be shown on startup. On Windows machines this usually results in a blue screen of death. To fix this, usually the hard drive needs to be wiped and Windows needs to be reinstalled (after making sure your files are backed up). Macs, on the other hand, have a few recovery options, the most useful being disk first aid. Holding down Command-R while the machine is booting will bring up the recovery boot options:

Regardless of what happens when you try to turn on your computer though, there is always a solution to fix any problems that might happen. Determining where the point of failure is can be the difficult part. Once you know that, it’s much easier to make a decision about fixing the computer.

A Journey From Windows Phone 8.1 to Windows 10 Mobile

A couple of months back, I wrote about my jump to a Windows Phone. I haven’t regretted that jump, nor have I been lured away by the wiles of the sleek iPhone or the omnipresent Android. Outside of the occasional frustration with the lack of an app here or there, and the inability to connect to the campus eduroam (I can still connect to the regular UMass network perfectly fine), my experience with using a Windows Phone has been great. But even as I started my journey with a Windows Phone only half a year ago, the platform is already evolving in a big way.

During the development of Windows 10, Microsoft has had a new ideal in mind: The unification of its desktop/laptop, tablet, and mobile systems into a single operating system, able to morph between the three architectures with ease. Although Microsoft’s biggest share in these three architectures lies in the desktop/laptop market, it hopes that the unified system will draw people to the Windows versions of the tablet and mobile architectures. Convenience is the key for Microsoft, the hope that people will decide, “Hey, I use a laptop with Windows 10, and a Surface Pro with Windows 10, maybe I should get a Windows Phone to sync everything together?” This is where Windows Phone’s next advancement comes into play. While the desktop version of Windows 10 has been in development, so has the mobile version, in order to truly make this goal of a unified and cohesive operating system come to life. And that brings me to why I’m writing this article. We’ve tested and talked about the Windows 10 desktop preview builds, but not yet about the mobile preview builds. Without further ado, let’s get started on my exploration of the next evolution of Windows Phone, Windows 10 Mobile, or at least the latest preview build, which at the time of this article is build 10149.

Let’s start off with a warning. Testing preview builds on a phone is always risky, because of the fact that unlike testing them out on a desktop, sometimes issues can arise which can lead to your phone being unable to call or text, or in the worst case, being completely bricked. Unfortunately for me, the combination of not having a secondary phone to test preview builds on, and an unrelenting curiosity, led me to install the latest build on my main phone. The installation process was simple enough, I just had to install the Windows Insider app and let it download and install the latest Windows 10 mobile preview build. After the phone restarted, I watched the animated gears turn away for what seemed like an eternity, but in reality maybe a half an hour. Eventually however, everything finished and I saw Windows 10 Mobile for the first time. Let’s dive into what I saw, and what my experience was like.

Stability

I haven’t tested out the earlier preview builds of Windows 10 Mobile, but from the reviews I had read, they weren’t exactly the most stable. Some of them had rare, but phone-breaking bugs that would scare away regular beta testers due to the risk you’d be taking by installing the build on your phone. Bugs were galore, crashes happened everywhere, and sometimes you were barely able to even install the build! This build however, it seems things have gotten a lot better. Right after I first installed the build, I made sure to reset my phone so that I wouldn’t have any lingering issues due to upgrading from 8.1, and it’d pretty much be a fresh installation (similar to how you’d reinstall a desktop preview build from an ISO to have a clean, fresh start). I’m happy to say that in my couple of days of using it so far, I haven’t run into any major issues. Unlike some previous builds, there haven’t been any unexpected total phone crashes or restarts. Apps generally run pretty smoothly, although there are places where errors will popup, or areas are unfinished (that’s to be expected of a preview build anyways). This build also runs quite fast in most places, and in some ways, it seems even faster than the old Windows Phone 8.1. Overall, I would definitely say that the stability of this build is quite good, and outside of the occasional crash of an app, things are looking very good!

Battery Life

I’ll be honest about this; It’s generally been quite atrocious. The phone that would normally last over a day on a single charge now lasts a couple of hours at max. Digging into this issue a bit has led me to believe that it might be caused by the beta Store app, so clearly this is something that needs to get worked on for the future. As a side note, I will add that I’ve been running the phone today after restarting it, and the battery usages appears normal (I haven’t opened up the beta Store app at all).

Appearance

Although many in the Windows Phone community have argued that the changes to appearance are getting rid of some of Windows Phone’s stylistic identity (like the three dot pivot style), and replacing them with visuals you’d see on more popular operating systems (like the hamburger menu), I think that so far, the changes have been quite good. The new animations are generally quite fluid, and the overall operating system, in my opinion, looks sleeker than 8.1. The only big gripe I have with the appearance at the moment –which is actually a bug– is that the bottom bar of apps, which should normally have the same accent color as the rest of the phone, has a completely different color.

I will let you judge for yourself how it looks from some of these screenshots below:

My current start screen in this preview build.

My current start screen in this preview build.

The new and improved "All Apps" page!

The new and improved “All Apps” page!

The way, way, new and improved Settings screen.

The way, way, new and improved Settings screen.

A glance at the new Microsoft browser, Edge!

A glance at the new Microsoft browser, Edge!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apps

This preview build also comes with several revamped apps from Windows Phone 8.1. The most notable of changes, and one that carries over to the desktop builds as well, is the introduction of Microsoft Edge. Project Spartan is officially dead, and from its ashes has arisen Edge. For those who haven’t been keeping up to date with some of the changes occurring in the preview builds, both mobile and desktop, Microsoft has ditched Internet Explorer and created an entirely new web browser to better embrace modern web standards and compete with the likes of Google Chrome and Firefox. The desktop version of Edge is already quite good, but what about the mobile version? Well, I’m happy to say that it is also shaping up nicely. There are still issues with some websites not rendering correctly, and there are a couple of annoying visual glitches in the browser itself, but overall, it looks and functions quite well. The next most notable app change comes with the new Music app. If you’ve ever used the default Xbox Music app on Windows Phone 8.1, you know it’s not the best. It doesn’t offer many features, doesn’t look that great, the live tile is an ugly green color, among other things. The new Music app is a world of difference. There is a hamburger menu, yes, but the entire app just looks and feels so much better to use. I personally love using this app to browse and listen to music. However this isn’t the only app that’s been redesigned for the better. The Calendar app has also been improved to look much more sleek and streamlined. I also have to add that all of these apps carry a unified visual style, so when you’re switching between them, it doesn’t feel like you truly are, which is pretty cool. As great as they look however, they still can feel sluggish sometimes on my Lumia 930, which is currently one of the higher end spec’d Windows Phones. The beta Store app especially needs work; there are apps that give errors while attempting to update through it, and it causes a massive drain on battery life when using it. Overall, I definitely like the direction they’ve taken the apps, and I’m not as attached to the old pivot menu as other people to disagree too much with the direction.

Final Notes

My experience with this preview build has been pretty good overall. There are still a few issues with battery drain with some apps, the occasional crash of an app here and there, and a couple of visual glitches. Beyond those problems however, I think that the direction that Windows Mobile 10 is going is a good one. It has a nice blend of the traditional identity of Windows Phone with the more popular stylistic choices adopted on other phones. Oh, and let me emphasize again to Microsoft that eduroam still doesn’t work on Windows Phones.

Windows 10 Eduroam Configuration

With the release date of Windows 10 approaching (7/29/15), and with that comes good news; Windows 10 shares the same method of configuring eduroam as Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, despite the changes to the user interface. There are two methods to configure your Windows 10 device to eduroam.

Method 1 – Without XpressConnect 

  • Select the WiFi tray icon located in the bottom right corner and select “Network Settings.” The Network & Internet settings window will appear
  • eduroam1In the Network & Internet window, select Eduroam and select connect. Enter your NetID@umass.edu and your IT account password and select OK.

eduroam2

  • Accept certificates if prompted. Once complete, the device should now be configured and connected to eduroam

Method 2 – Using XpressConnect 

NOTE: At the time this article was written (6/25/2015), XpressConnect does not have a version specific for Windows 10, and the XpressConnect client will state that the current operating system is Windows 8.1. 

  • Select the WiFi tray icon located in the bottom right corner and connect to UMASS.

eduroam3

  • Open a browser and navigate to http://login.wireless.umass.edu (any other webpage will redirect to the wireless gate) and select the “Set up eduroam”

eduroam4

  • Log in using your NetID and password and then select the “Run Xpressconnect” button. Select the download link for NetworkWizardLoader.exe.

eduroam5

  • Save and run the executable, allow xpressconnect to open. Once prompted, enter your NetID and Password and follow the remaining steps for installing SecureW2 and necessary certificates.

eduroam7

  • Grant access to any User Account Control windows that appear, and once the device is connected to eduroam, xpressconnect will state that the device is now connected and what the IP address has been assigned to the device.

eduroam8


If you wish to reserve your copy of Windows 10, please visit http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/windows-10-upgrade. The upgrade is free for users with Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 and can be done from your computer at any time. Cheers!

How to set Up Boot Camp

While at UMass, you might come across a point where you will need to use specialized software that can only be used on a Windows PC. This is fine if you have a Windows computer, however this leaves people who own a Mac at a clear disadvantage. So what do you do if you have a Mac computer? A commonly used solution to this situation is BootCamp Assistant. BootCamp Assistant is a built in function in the Mac operating system that allows Mac users to install Windows alongside their OSX operating system. This program can either be found by searching “bootcamp” in spotlight, or by going to the application folder in finder, where BootCamp can be found in the utilities folder.

How it works:

BootCamp works by sectioning off an certain amount of used space in your hard-drive in order to make a full installation of Windows. This process is limited by the specs of your computer and the operating system version. Below you can find the minimal requirements needed to run BootCamp. Also you can find a list of BootCamp versions needed to install the specific windows operating system that you need.

**Side note: Before you start installing Windows on your computer, you need to make sure that you computer is up to date using Software Update. Also use the chart on this page to download updates for your Boot Camp. This update is based on the model of your computer, and some models are limited to their updates because of their specs. It may also be necessary to upgrade you computer to the latest version of OSX.

Media is not Included:

A common misconception about BootCamp is that it provides a windows operating system to install. This is not true. BootCamp will provide drivers and updates for your Windows operating system, however it will not provide the media to install the Windows operating system. It must be provided by the user. This can either be done by purchasing the product online or through Microsoft.

However if you are are either faculty, staff, or student at UMass there are some options that may be available to you for a discounted version of Windows operating system.

If you are Faculty or Student either teaching or taking a course within STEM Departments, then you are entitled to a free download of Microsoft operating systems using Microsoft Dreamspark. More information about Dreamspark and STEM qualitfications can be found here.

If you are Faculty and Staff, there is a alternative way of purchasing Microsoft products at a discounts by using the university Microsoft Campus Agreement. Information about the Microsoft Campus agreement can be found here.

Finally there is the Microsoft Through Gov Connection, which is open to all student, faculty and staff, and allows you to easily purchase copies of Microsoft products. It often gives discounts to many of the products. Click here for more information.

Running BootCamp:

Please use the youtube video below for a step by step tutorial for using BootCamp Assistant for installing Windows 7 or 8 on your Mac Device.

If you have any trouble or questions, try the links in the troubleshoot question for some answers to some frequently asked questions.

Boot Camp Versions needed to run Windows

  • Windows Vista: Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, or Ultimate, Service Pack 1 or later (Boot Camp 3)
  • Windows 7: Home Premium, Professional, or Ultimate (Boot Camp 4 or 5.1)
  • Windows 8: Windows 8 or 8.1, Windows 8 or 8.1 Pro (Boot Camp 5.1 only)

System Requirements:

To install Microsoft Windows using Boot Camp, you need the following:

  • An Internet connection
  • An administrator account in OS X to use Boot Camp Assistant
  • The keyboard and mouse or trackpad that came with your Mac (If they aren’t available, use a USB keyboard and mouse)
  • A minimum of 2 GB of RAM, 30 GB of free disk space are recommended if you are installing Windows for the first time, or 40 GB of free disk space if you are upgrading from a previous version of Windows
  • An authentic Microsoft Windows full install disc or ISO file
  • A built-in optical drive, or a compatible external optical drive is required if you are using an install disc
  • 8 GB USB storage device, or external drive formatted as MS-DOS (FAT) to install the downloaded drivers

TroubleShooting:

Frequently Asked Questions:

http://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201456

Windows 7 Frequently Asked Questions:

http://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202008

Windows 8 Frequently Asked Questions:

http://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201457

 

 

 

New Dual-Boot Android/Windows Phone

Ever wanted to have an Android phone but still be able to play Xbox Live games on mobile? Soon you’ll be able to!

An upcoming handheld developed by a Chinese company called Elephone will be able to do just that! The new phone rumored to be arriving in June will reportedly be able to dual-boot Android 5.0 and Windows 10 giving you the best of both worlds.

 

 

Although Windows phones are not nearly as common as Android devices and iPhones, they are still packed with plenty of useful features.

  • Full Microsoft Office Suite. Word, Excel and Powerpoint are included on all Windows 10 phones. The Suite will work the same on your phone as it does on your desktop with minimal compromises. Outlook and Calendar are also being revamped for 10.
  • Xbox Live gaming on your phone. Currently with the Xbox Live app you can tweak your avatar, check achievements and Gamerscore and message your friends. Using the SmartGlass app from the Windows Phone store you can navigate your Xbox dashboard, start and pause movies, and view information about your games and videos. In Windows 10 Microsoft is planning to be able to allow users to play Xbox Live games on their phones. Although the list is short Microsoft is working to integrate mobile and Xbox multiplayer capabilities.

  • More Space! When you sign up for a Microsoft Account you get 7 GB of free space on their OneDrive cloud-based storage. You can automatically sync your photos and videos to your account.  You’ll be able to able to access all your content through your Xbox on the big screen.
  • Messaging. With inline messaging you’ll be able to send text messages and Skype messages through one app. You can also resize and drag the keyboard around for more one-handed usability.
  • Cortana. Windows’ version of Siri can assist at making phone calls, texting, making calendar events and setting reminders, control alarms and music, set up directions and help you find places to go. You can ask Cortana about certain facts, ask her to check sports scores, suggest weight loss workouts, and find out how the Dow Jones did today.

With the dual-OS option you’ll be able to access all those great features and at the same time run Android Lollipop which has a whole slew of unique features itself:

  • Access to the Google Play Store which contains the most mobile apps ( over 1.3 million) compared to the iOS app store, Amazon Appstore and Windows Phone store. You can also download movies, books, and music.
  • Full integration of Google Services. Out of the box Android phones come equipped with apps like Gmail, Maps, Play Music, Hangouts, YouTube and Google Drive. It’s handy having everything in one Google folder on the home screen.
  • Google Now. Although originally a Google Search application, Now can do everything Cortana and Siri can do. Google has announced that they will also begin supporting third party applications such as Pandora, Duolingo and Lyft, among others.
  • Open Source. It’s easier to design and program applications for Androids as they are written using the Java coding language. There is a lot of documentation out there and free programs where one can learn to develop mobile applications.

Elephone is planning on releasing two phones, one just with Android and the second with the dual boot capabilities. Both versions will have large 5.5-inch 2K displays (1440 x 2560), 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of built in storage. There will also be a a battery reported to exceed 3800 mAh  For reference, the Samsung Galaxy S5 has a 2800 mAh battery and advertised for 21 hours of talk time.

There are slight differences in the 2 handhelds as the Android version of the phone will contain a 64-bit octa-core processor while the dual-OS phone will only contain a quad-core chip. Also, the Android-only handset will come with a 21MP camera while the dual version will only be 20.7MP. Both are expected to also come with fingerprint scanners.

If you, like myself, have been used to the Android interface but want to see what’s different or special about the mobile Windows OS you’ll be able to get both without sacrificing anything. Elephone is already popular outside of the United States for making affordable Androids so it’ll be interesting to see if they make any impact in the US market.

PortableApps: Your workspace to go!

Description:
PortableApps is a platform software that allows you to practically bring your workspace almost anywhere. You can install it on any USB storage device, computer, or even a cloud service such as Dropbox. You then install portable versions of the some of the everyday applications you would normally see installed a computer such as LibreOffice and Firefox. What makes these applications portable is the fact that they don’t modify or leave any data and settings on the host computer but instead saves them only in the location where PortableApps is installed.

Usage:
PortableApps has over 300 portable applications to choose from ranging from office suites to games to antivirus softwares. Though not every application that we commonly use is available (for example, Microsoft Office).  However there are alternatives you could use in their place (such as LibreOffice). When you run PortableApps, you are greeted with a display much like the Windows start menu to the bottom right of the screen.
The Start Menu
From here, you can launch, install, and update your portable applications. You can even see how much space you have left if you install it on your USB storage device and explore the content of your USB storage device with a click of a button.

On a USB?:
With PortableApps installed on a USB drive, You can bring your personalized data to any computer. For example, you can browse the internet on a public computer, or on your friend’s computer without leaving your bookmark or history on the computer. All of it will be saved on your USB drive so you can take your bookmarks, extensions, and addons anywhere you go. If your browser saves your tabs before it closes then those are saved as well. For a computer tech, you can also load a bundle of tools to diagnose and fix a wide variety of computer problems, including virus infections, all organized and just a click away using PortableApps. Using PortableApps also mean being able to use programs you need that typically would not be installed on other computers since the program is installed on your USB drive. An example for computer science major is PuTTY. Most public computers typically don’t come with PuTTY installed but with PortableApps, you can load PuTTY along with its saved connections.

On the cloud?:
PortableApps can be useful even in cloud services that sync your data between your devices. Whenever a computer changes the settings for a program, the cloud will sync the settings to your other devices. For example with Firefox or Chrome, your bookmark, history, and extensions are saved and synced between all your devices. Or even when starting fresh after wiping your computer or buying a new computer, all you have to do is grab your files from the cloud service and you’ll have applications ready to use and already configured to your liking. PortableApps can easily update all your programs ensuring that your programs are up to date across all your devices and reduces the redundant task of updating each program for each of your devices.

More information can be found in their official website: http://portableapps.com/

How to get rid of Superfish

Superfish

Superfish

As you may be aware, it was recently revealed that many Lenovo computers shipped between October 2014 and December 2014 were pre-loaded with a piece of AdWare called “Superfish.” In addition to being annoying, Superfish introduces a serious security hole in the way your computer uses HTTPS on the internet. It’s gotten bad enough that the Department of Homeland Security had to advise people to remove the software. Lenovo has since gone on full damage-control, and is no longer shipping computers with Superfish pre-installed. The following is everything you need to know about this piece of AdWare.

What is Superfish?

Superfish is your typical piece of AdWare. It runs in the background on your computer and when you go to a webpage Superfish injects pop-up ads in to the page you’re looking at. It does this on all pages, regardless of whether they use HTTPS.

Why is it bad?

First of all, no one likes ads. If you happen to be someone who does enjoy pop-up ads you may want to remove Superfish anyway, and here’s why: in order to make sure that it can show you ads even on encrypted secure webpages, Superfish has to break your computer’s encryption. It does this by installing its own “root certificate.” The way that HTTPS works is that each website needs a certificate to verify its identity. If you’re interested, Wikipedia explains the details behind HTTPS and certificates fairly well. These certificates must be signed by a trusted authority such as VeriSign or InCommon. Because Superfish installs its own certificate on your computer it can pretend to be one of these trusted authorities and thus it can pretend to be any website it wants. This is what is called a “man-in-the-middle attack.”
In addition to being annoying and malicious, this was also poorly done. Superfish installed all of its root certificates using the same password, which this man figured out in 3 hours. That means that if your computer has Superfish installed, you could be vulnerable to a phishing attack or anything similar since anyone can take Superfish’s certificate and pretend to be a website they aren’t.

How do I fix this?

First of all, let’s find out whether you have Superfish or not. A nice, white-hat citizen of the internet built this website to help you figure it out. If you do have Superfish installed, Lenovo was nice enough to put out a handy uninstall guide, along with a nice automatic tool. The steps are written for Windows 8, but they should be similar if you are on Windows 7. Here’s the synopsis:

1. First, open up Control Panel and go to “Uninstall a program.” Then find Superfish in the list, select it and hit “Uninstall”
2. Go to Window’s search function and look for “Manage Computer Certificates.” Go into Trusted Root Certification Authorities, and delete the Superfish cert.
3. Finally, Firefox and Thunderbird also need to have the certificate removed manually. See the Lenovo article for instructions on how to do this.

You’re done! Remember to keep all your software up to date, and always feel free to come to UMass IT for help with security or anything else you might need.

My Jump to a Windows Phone

A couple of weeks ago I decided that it was time to advance to the modern era, and migrate from the trusty old flip phone I’d been using for years to a modern smartphone. Thus, the all-important question came up: what phone should I get? Nowadays there is a vast array of smartphone options for me to choose from. I could get an iPhone, a phone that seemingly everyone around me had. I could get an Android phone, whether it was a Sony Xperia, a Google Nexus, a Samsung Galaxy, or any one of the other infinite amount of Android devices. Most people could pick from one of those two categories, an iPhone or an Android phone, and be completely satisfied.

I looked a bit further. Continue reading

Stream services for TV and Movies

From cable-cutters to college students, nearly everybody is interested in video streaming services. You may be tempted to use torrenting software to get your TV shows and movies, but this software is notorious for landing people with copyright violation notices and occasionally some hefty fines. There are many legal alternatives to torrenting software, and I will discuss them here. Continue reading

Zotero Citation Software

Have you had trouble finding a good site to help you create a bibliography? Tired of hunting down pieces of information about your source? Or maybe you’re not sure if you have enough information in your citations. Now there is an answer to all of your questions and that answer is Zotero. Zotero creates citations for you at the click of a button! It allows you to store your citations in folders or libraries for organization and upon registering with an email and password(for free) you can access your citations across multiple devices! Continue reading

Help! I think I have a Virus (Windows)

First it’s important to verify that your computer is infected. The general sign for malicious software is that your computer stopped working as expected. The obvious problem with this is that there are a whole lot of reasons your computer can stop working correctly that are not caused by viruses. For example software updates can often cause unexpected side effects, hardware can stop working, and users can change settings without truly understanding the effect of the change they made. The most general way to determine that you actually have malware is to ask yourself could somebody be making money off of what is happening to my computer. The fact is that almost every piece of malicious software in existence was created with the intent of making money. That being said here are some common signs that your computer may be infected:

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Add-Drop Walkthrough

So as the new semester rolls around, as does add-drop period. If you don’t know what this is, it is the time during the first couple of weeks in which you are free to add or drop a class without having to go through the Registrar’s office: it can all be done through Spire! Continue reading

Configuring Exchange Email and Calendar in Thunderbird

Configuring Email clients can be a frustrating task due to the sheer number of different server settings that need to be properly entered in order for it to work properly and the variety of choices in desktop mail clients. Fortunately, this guide is written specifically for configuring UMass Amherst Exchange mail and calendaring for Thunderbird, an open source desktop mail client that is compatible with most Windows, OS X, and Linux distributions. For your convenience, the instructions and screenshots in this guide should exactly match what you see on your screen.

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How to Install Windows

Installing an operating system is a complex endeavor, and requires a fair amount of computer expertise in order to accomplish. This guide is written with the goal of making this process as easy as possible, but it is important to understand that it is still a generalized guide. Installing an operating system can have drastically different results depending on the exact hardware installed in your computer. This guide should work for the majority of computer setups, but may require some troubleshooting and tweaking in certain circumstances.

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Virtual Machines: Running Another Operating System On Your Computer the Easy Way

Virtual machines are programs that allow you to run programs (or an entire operating system) on your computer that weren’t originally designed for it. Most commonly this is done by Mac users who want to run Windows programs which don’t have versions for Mac OSX, but can be done with almost any operating system (like Linux). If you want to run Mac OSX you have to be on a Mac computer (unless you have some tech skill), but otherwise you’re free to experiment. All you have to do is download the operating system .iso or .dmg file or buy an installation DVD and you can use that to start up your virtual copy of that Operating System (OS).

Continue reading