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  • Working with UAC and Remote Assistance

    This a note for me as I always have to lookup which group policy setting I need.

    When using the Remote Assistance tool to help someone running Windows 7 (or Vista!) if you need to elevate via UAC you’re not able to do this as the “helper” out of the box. The end user is supposed to respond to the UAC prompt. It’s intended as security feature to prevent remote helpers making admin changes but what if you’re the network admin and the end user doesn’t have local admin rights?


    As the helper you just end up with a black screen displayed and the user is prompted for credentials they don’t have and you probably don’t want to give them.


    The solution is to allow remote assistance users to interact with the UAC prompt.

    It’s a simple change in group policy. (or via local security policy if you really wanted to do it by hand!)

    Local Settings\Security Settings\Local Policies\Security Option

    This setting needs to be ENABLED
    User Account Control: Allow UIAccess applications to prompt for elevation without using the secure desktop

    If you are a little worried about security there are still some restrictions in place that prevent just any old application from getting around UAC.

    UIA programs (User Interface Accessibility) are designed to interact with Windows and application programs on behalf of a user. This policy setting allows UIA programs to bypass the secure desktop to increase usability in certain cases; however, allowing elevation requests to appear on the interactive desktop instead of the secure desktop can increase your security risk.

    UIA programs must be digitally signed because they must be able to respond to prompts regarding security issues, such as the UAC elevation prompt. By default, UIA programs are run only from the following protected paths:

    • …\Program Files, including subfolders
    • …\Program Files (x86), including subfolders for 64-bit versions of Windows
    • …\Windows\System32


    If you really wanted to lower your security you can disable this requirement too but it’s probably not worth thinking about!

  • Internet of Things Midlands Meetup Number 1

    The Internet of Things (IoT from herein!) is one of things in the technology world that has been on the verge of exploding over the last few years.

    Finding a definition for the IoT isn’t all that easy to pin down, in the same way that “The Cloud” has a ton of different ways of being described but in short it’s used to describe the process of connecting everyday “things” to the Internet.

    Why would you want to do that?

    What if you’re fridge could tell you were low on milk and automatically order you some more?

    What if your alarm clock could check local traffic reports and wake you up a little early if it thought you were going to be late for an important meeting?

    What if you’re house could tell you were on the way back from work and could turn the oven and start cooking your evening meal?

    These are just one or two examples (more here) and the technology for these sort of applications already exists, today!

    So to that end the International Institute for Product and Service Innovation (IIPSI) are looking to kick-start some growth in the Midlands region around this topic and are hosting the first coming together of companies in the area who can collaborate and explore opportunities.

    This event will be an informal ‘Show and Tell’ event, featuring short talks from those innovating within the ‘Internet of Things’. 

    Speakers in place already confirmed:

    • Maurizio Pilu, Lead Technologist (Digital) & Programme lead for the Internet of Things at the Technology Strategy Board. “What is the Internet of Things?”
    • Alyson Fielding, MD of Pyuda Ltd. Gesture controlled, connected Books.
    • Ben Wood, Technology Transfer Specialist at WMG. 3D printing and low volume manufacturing.
    • John Shermer, MD of JSJS Designs Ltd. Using occupancy data for the greater good.
    • Miles Hodkinson, CTO of Cicesco plc. Wireless comms options for your IoT products.

    So if this sounds like it’ll be your cup of tea then register on the Meetup page.

    The event is at the University of Warwick on Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 7:00 PM

    See you there!

  • The IT Marketing Crash Course – book


    Last week I I got an email from Raj Khera who asked if I’d like to take a look at his new book which was due to launch and is aimed specifically at small technology companies and help them win new business by improving their marketing.

    Raj is the CEO of MailerMailer, who are an email marketing company so he certainly knows a thing or two about getting people’s attention.

    The title very much describes the book in a nutshell. It’s a starting point for owners and managers of IT companies who need a starting point when it comes to spreading the word about their own business and the services they provide.


    This is an area that I know lots of people I speak to at AMITPRO and similar groups have a problem with and this book is a broad overview of the things you should be doing to let people know about what it is you do.

    Each chapters covers a specific item and provides a check list of actions to complete so you can actually get something done straight away.

    Covering areas such as social media, blogging, in-person networking and newsletters the book helps to position yourself as an expert and stay in touch with potential clients.

    There are also several examples of how other companies have made changes to their marketing efforts and the results they have seen.

    At the end of the book is a master checklist you can use as your final take away to get started on putting renewed efforts into marketing.

    So what did I think after reading it?

    If you’re not already doing some marketing for your business this book it’s worth a read. It’s an area I know I’m not doing enough with at the moment and I enjoyed reading it. It’s aimed at a very specific audience so if you’re already doing some marketing it’s probably not for you but if you don’t really know where to start it’s very much a crash course. It’s jargon free and each chapter is short enough to read when you’ve got a few minutes spare. I particularly liked the checklist at the end of each chapter as it meant you could go and do something straight away.

    It’s available now Amazon either as an eBook (for free – at the moment) or as a paperback (£9.95)

    If you take a look let me know what you think!

  • Review: Snugg Kindle 4 Case

    Following my post about my recent Kindle purchase I was asked if I’d review a case for that’s available at the The Snugg website.

    Case Packing

    The case is made of black leather which makes it sturdy enough to keep your Kindle safe. The inside is made from a soft fabric which should keep the screen safe. After the first day I had to give the screen a wipe as it was covered in “fluff” but after that is was fine so I’d put that down to it being new.

    All of this doesn’t add too much bulk to the overall size of the Kindle either which can only be a good thing.

    There is a strap that clips onto the front to keep the case closed when it’s not in use.

    Case Closed

    In terms of features?

    The bottom straps are fixed so it holds the device in place pretty firmly so there is no danger of it dropping out. The elasticated straps at the top make it easy to put in and out.

    There is also a large elastic strap to slide your hand into when the case is open and folded around the back to give that extra bit of grip when you’re holding the Kindle.

    Case Open

    You can also clip the front cover into a slot on the back which turns the case into a stand for hands free reading! A quick change in device settings to rotate the screen obviously helps here. You do have to be careful not to make it topple over but it’s a nice touch and could be useful on long train journeys.

    Stand Front View

    Stand Rear View

    Overall it’s a decent case. I haven’t used the hand strap at the back all that much but in all honesty that’s because the case doesn’t add that to size so it’s still comfortable to hold.

    You can get the case from The Snugg website. It’s currently £24.99.

  • Bye Bye Google Reader

    I woke up to the news this morning that Google Reader will close down on July 1st. My twitter feed was full this morning people who use it on daily basis now having to consider alternatives.

    It’s part of a broader “spring  clean” Google have been on for some time but the specific reasoning was described in a couple of lines,

    While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader. Users and developers interested in RSS alternatives can export their data, including their subscriptions, with Google Takeout over the course of the next four months.

    I’d be interested to know what numbers Google take to mean a “loyal following”.

    I’ve been using Google Reader pretty much since it was launched in 2005. I’ve tried various other feed readers, both desktop and online but Google Reader worked best for me as it’s simple to use but mostly importantly for me it works everywhere. Specifically the mobile web version of Google Reader is what I’m talking about here. I’ve never needed any apps for it so the platform or device I’m using becomes unimportant (I’ve even used it on my Kindle!)

    I’d really like something I can use entirely in the browser but I’ve not found anything yet that fits that bill.

    Maybe as that July 1st date approaches some of the alternatives will step up their game to try and grab some new users and start adding new features.

    Some alternatives I’ve seen mentioned so far include:

    Feedly, NewsBlur, The Old Reader, Netvibes, Feedreader, Feedly, Pulse and Taptu.

    I’ll be checking these out I think!

    What I’d really like is for Google to make the source code available and I’ll put it on my own server! I can only wish.

    If you’re not a Google Reader user what are you using to keep track of your favourite sites/blogs?

    If you are a Google Reader what are planning on doing now?


  • Putting a Katinkas Kaboom Bluetooth Speaker Into Pairing Mode

    I reviewed the Katinkas Kaboom Bluetooth speaker recently and said I’d write a quick post on putting it into pairing mode as I had to figure it out myself.

    In the interests of trying new things I thought I’d add a video to this as well. A picture is worth a thousand words and all that!

    It’s pretty simple to do.


    Find the power button.

    Hold the button down to turn the speaker on. You’ll hear a beep and the lights will flash on red and then blue. 

    Keep the button held down. You’ll hear a second, different beep and the light will pulse much faster (blue).

    It’s now in pairing mode.

    Your device (phone/tablet/laptop) will now be able to find the speaker when you use the Bluetooth pairing options to add a device, it’ll show up as “Katinkas”. There isn’t a passcode or anything so it’ll just connect straight away.


  • Revisiting The Kindle

    I mentioned recently that my house had been burgled. One of the items taken was my beloved Kindle. Two years ago I had a hard time trying to decide if a Kindle was for me. I took the plunge and it’s decision I certainly didn’t regret. My initial fears were unfounded. I still read good old fashioned dead trees and my Kindle complements them very nicely and the convenience is hugely helpful. My Kindle goes everywhere with me.

    I tried to last a couple of days without it after it was taken while I dealt with the insurance company but I couldn’t take it anymore so went on a shopping trip to replace it.

    This led me to another tough choice.

    Two years ago the only decision you had to make was how important 3g was to you as there were only two models. With 3g and without. I plumped for the 3g edition and while it’s not something I used extensively I was thankful for it on the occasions I needed it.

    Fast forward to now and there are several models to choose from which all differ from the original model. I popped into my local Waterstones that had the full range to try out. (How ironic, considering how the eBook is supposed to be end of traditional bookshops!)

    The model line up in summary:



    Entry level model. Keyboard has gone (across the range) which makes for a smaller device without sacrificing screen size. Wireless only. No text to speech or mp3 playback.






    Kindle Touch

    Controlled via touch screen instead of buttons on the device. Wireless only, Text to speech & mp3 playback, automatic language translation. Slightly bigger and heavier than the entry model.




    Kindle Paperwhite

    Provides same functionality as the Touch but with a backlit, higher resolution screen. Better battery life and some other software features such as the ability to read comics more easily and “Time to read” which will let you know how much of a chapter you have left based on your reading speed. Only model that also comes with a 3g option


    That’s a pretty interesting line up and certainly more to think about than first time around. I was gutted the keyboard has gone. Like the 3g functionality I didn’t use it often but it was nice to know it was there where I did need it.

    I went with the entry model in the end and there were lots of factors involved in making the decision. 

    I tried the touch screen on both the touch and the PaperWhite and I really didn’t like it. It’s possible I may have gotten used to it over time but the buttons on the side better worked for me. The screen on the PaperWhite is really nice but again I’ve been getting along quite fine at the existing resolution and I don’t see the backlight as some essential for me as the only time I’d need it would be for reading in bed – and I do that with the bedside lamp anyway. If your significant other is easily disturbed by that sort of thing it could be very useful instead of having an light clipped to the side of your device. The final thing the PaperWhite had going for it that I’d consider was the 3g option. Unfortunately it was too big a leap in price from the entry level to the 3g capable PaperWhite for me and with it so easy to share an Internet connection from my phone or from a dedicated device such as a MiFi it’s not worth the additional cost for what I need.

    So now I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks I’m pretty happy. The smaller size and weight is welcome and much easier for carrying around as it’s around the same size as a paperback only much much thinner. The back of the device has a rubberised type covering to help with grip when holding which is a nice touch instead of shiny plastic. The page turn buttons are taking a little getting used to. I’d been so conditioned to their size and push action I sometimes need have to a second attempt at turning the page! The lack of a keyboard was frustrating in the first few days. Entering account details and WiFi passwords using the buttons was highly irritating but it’s not something I’ll need to do frequently.

    Amazon make it really easy to get at your already purchased content so I was back to reading my books really quickly. I didn’t even have to worry about losing my page!

    Do you have one of the other models? Why did you go with that particular model?

    Let me know if the comments section please!