What to do when SkyDrive takes a faceplant

I have a number of machines that synchronize with SkyDrive.  Last week, things went sideways and one of my machines was reporting errors and quit synchronizing.  After the next reboot (which naturally fixes most issues), the SkyDrive application would initialize, trying to start processing the changes, and then do a faceplant in the form of a crash and generating an event in the event log like this:

skydrive_event

This looks and sounds bad.  I wasn’t sure how to resolve it, but it’s actually pretty simple.  There is a catalog or index of everything that is synched and it is stored on each machine in a hidden location.  You need to delete that file and restart SkyDrive.

After doing some searching, I found a thread on the Microsoft Help forums.  It’s as simple as deleting %localappdata%\Microsoft\SkyDrive\settings\3e2972b1aa909a0c.dat.  After you delete that, restart the SkyDrive client and you should be back in business.

A few quick pointers on Windows 8 System Recovery

If you’ve used the “Create System Image” functionality available in Windows 7, you’ll be surprised to see that its missing in Windows 8.

Well, it’s not actually missing, but the functionality is hidden in the Control Panel and is now called “Windows 7 File Recovery”.

image

Once you locate it in the Control Panel, the options to “Create a system image” and “Create a system repair disc” on still in the left pane of the window.

An important note … From what I have experienced, you cannot use a “Windows 7 Repair Disc” to load and recover a Windows 8 system image, so if you create a system image of your Windows 8 desktop, be sure to also create a system repair disc when it prompts you to after the system image capture.

Issues Installing Windows Phone IsoStoreSpy on Windows 8

Windows Phone IsoStoreSpy is a great utility for interrogating the Windows Phone Iso Store when developing applications.  It usually if you want to check to see if files are being created correctly, and identifying what is in a file on the phone’s local store.  IsoStoreSpy can pier into both the emulator and physical device.  It also provides some other functionality like being able to create ringtones, but I haven’t used that. I had a brand new install of Windows 8 with Visual Studio 2012, and not a lot of old components installed.  This was a fresh install, so the most recent versions of most things were already installed.  When I tried to install IsoStoreSpy with the ClickOnce installation, it error’d out indicating that version 3.5 of System.Data.SqlCE needed to be installed in the GAC.  For some reason it wasn’t, although I would’ve assumed that Visual Studio would’ve had that in there (I believe VS actually installs 4.0).

In order to even install the application, you need this component installed.  I did a little search and found that you can install SQL Compact Edition 3.5 SP1 with a standard MSI for both x86 and x64 versions.  You can download those here.

Once I installed that, I was then able to get the ClickOnce installation going and completing successfully.

AT&T Rocking 4G LTE in the Twin Cities

Looks like today is the day when AT&T flips the switch on full-time LTE for the Twin Cities.  I noticed back in September that the State Fairgrounds was lit up and providing some nice download speeds.  Also the U of M campus and a few other northern suburbs have been enjoying that functionality as AT&T was going through testing.

I can’t find an official release on AT&T’s website, but a few media outlets are reporting this too.

heraldonline.com

Star Tribune

Pioneer Press

Start8 fixes the missing Start button dilemma

Start8 ConfigurationI was reading the article: “Will Microsoft restore Start Menu to Windows 8?” in the Tuesday edition of the USA Today newspaper.  This was an interesting headline that piqued my interest given the announcement that Microsoft Windows head, Steven Sinofsky was making a quick escape so close to the launch of Windows 8 and Microsoft Surface.

You can read the article for yourself, but I’ll admit that I’m in the same camp of people who aren’t comfortable with the “justified” disappearance of the little button in the corner that got you to where you needed to go.  Tablet or no tablet, this is such a huge change, and for novices and pros alike, the learning curve is very sharp. 

My home PC is running Windows 8, while my work laptops are still on Windows 7 due to some software incompatibilities.  There are lots of things that I like about Windows 8 (maybe I’ll cover them in a future post), but getting to where I need to go has gotten a lot more complicated.  I don’t like having to search for everything.  Simple tasks like adding a printer have me befuddled and looking for Printers, or Add New Printer … which funny enough took me to a Print Server Manager application.  Confused.

So, anyway, in reading the USA Today article a reference was made to Stardock, a company who is known for creating apps that masquerade the look and some functions of Windows.  Think themes and icon packages on steroids.  It went well beyond that into opening up full customization of many additional aspects of the Windows operating system.  I purchased it back in the XP/Vista days.  Some pieces are useful, but a lot of it is about crazy display modifications.

Their newest invention is something called Start8 for Windows 8.  It essentially restores the availability and functionality of the Start menu we’re used to.  It adds additional functionality as well.  It’s almost as if Microsoft never removed it.  It performs well and you really can’t tell that it’s an “after market” package. 

You can find more information about Start8 here.  There is a free 30-day trial, and if you like it, you can purchase for a cheap $4.95.

All of these changes beg the question “Will the Start button be back in Service Pack 1?”  We’ll have to wait and see, but in the meantime, Start8 has a job on my PC.

Running with the Crucial M4 SSD

I decided to do some hardware upgrades this weekend, and as prices on SSD continue to drop, I found a pretty good deal at my local MicroCenter.  The Crucial M4 256GB SSD normally retails for $239, but you save $50 instantly, and an additional $20 on a rebate, so you can take it home for $169 all said and done. I installed it into my Dell desktop this afternoon, and thought at the same time I would start with a fresh build from the OS on up.  I timed some of these operations just to have an idea of the performance increase you can see when switching from spinning disk to SSD.  Of course, this isn't a full comparison, since I don't have existing data on these operations, but nonetheless, we all know how long we sit and wait for a new install of Windows or Office.

I'm pretty impressed with the performance.  There was a recommended firmware update for this drive, and I was able to install that directly from within Windows with only a reboot required to make it happen.

All in well, this seems to be a good investment.  After all, I was pretty spoiled when I received my XPS13, which also has an SSD on board.