Tip o’ the Week #290 – get your Groove on

clip_image002It’s quite useful to have a catalogue of names that can be put to different uses. Codenames are frequently reused, and there was a time when every new product had to have a snazzy moniker – remember Daytona, Natal or more recently Spartan?

As well as the more public ones, there are all kinds of internal project and product codenames that never make it out into the wild. Nowadays, openly referring to old products exclusively by their pre-release code names is no longer a sign of authority and more an indication of being a wazzock.

Product names, on the other hand, sometimes get reused, though not often by the same company. Microsoft, however, took the original Surface name from the table-computer (now PixelSense) and applied it to tablet computers, and has also now renamed Zune Xbox Music to Groove (not to be confused with this Groove), featuring the Windows 10 app called Groove Music and a subscription service called the Groove Music Pass. If you already had Xbox Music content, you need do nothing – it’s a rebranding exercise and some fresh new app functionality. If you don’t have Win10 or a Music Pass, check out the web player to see what’s available.clip_image004

Great News! Groove Music Pass users can now play with Sonos, so there’s no need to keep a Spotify (… Deezer, et al) subscription if you’re already a Groove Music Pass user. If you’re tired of waiting for Sonos to release a proper controller app for Windows Phone or Windows 8/10, then check out Andy Pennell’s Phonos. Or take to Sonos’ forums to ask what’s happening, though be prepared for a wall of silence neither confirming nor denying if and when a Windows Phone app is coming.

Readers with long memories might recall where “Groove” came from – it was the product of Groove Networks, brainchild of erstwhile Lotus Notes inventor, Ray Ozzie, whose company was acquired by Microsoft 10 years ago, largely to get the man himself. Along came the baggage of the (frankly horrid) Groove 3.1 then Groove 2007, which begat Sharepoint Workspace and was subsequently deep-sixed as a separate product line. Or so you may have thought.

If you dig around in Task Manager (CTRL-SHIFT-ESC to jump there quickly, keyboardinjas), clip_image006or better still, use the excellent Process Explorer from SysInternals, you’ll see something interesting…


That’s right – the bones of Groove live on in OneDrive for Business, at least for now – the plan being to unify the OneDrive for Business and consumer OneDrive sync engines. Good thing too.

Tip o’ the Week #284 – Music on OneDrive


Did you know you can now put music on your OneDrive, and stream it to the Xbox music app on your phone, your PC, the web or even your Xbox Console?

You don’t need an Xbox Music Pass to do it, either – though in time, you may find that having both XMP and music on OneDrive is a good thing, especially if music-playing hardware that supports them both is available.

Uploading loads of uploads

The trick is to basically copy or even move all your music to your OneDrive storage – you may need to get some more of that. It can be a bit challenging doing the actual upload, though – what if you’ve got 500Gb of music ripped from your CD collection at home? Try uploading that little lot over your domestic ADSL and you might well break the internet as far as your family is concerned.

Upload speeds on a lot of broadband connections are pretty poor, you see. The A in ADSL stands for Asynchronous, meaning it’s very much not 50:50 up and down. Doing online backup and/or bulk upload of loads of files could take a looooong time, and whilst you’re maxing out the upload bit of clip_image003the link, the download bit will be getting very constrained too – so you could see your overall network performance drop dramatically. Take a look using the Network Speed Test app (for Windows, for Windows Phone) to see the latency (otherwise known as network delay or sometimes PING time – anything into 3 figures is basically bad news), upload and download rates that are available – during heavy usage periods, it’ll seem like your network is performing poorly.

Managing music & OneDrive together

One trick to making sure your music is synced properly, is to put music folder into your OneDrive cache. If you have the OneDrive app installed on your PC, you’ll have a location that is set to sync the OneDrive storage from the cloud onto your machine. If you move your Music folder to be a subdirectory of your OneDrive location, then your PC will sync all that music up into OneDrive for you, and yet it will still show up as local choonz library for playback on your PC, if you tell it so (find Music library in Windows explorer, right-click and you can Move from there).

The downside? It might take weeks to actually copy your music to the cloud and you may not want to nail your broadband to the ground in the meantime. A solution is at hand, however – take your PC into the office and use the network there set up a schedule so your home machine starts OneDrive at times when nobody is using the network, and can kill it off when you might want to.

clip_image005clip_image007Depending on your version of Windows, the specifics may vary a little, but they generally start by looking for the Task Scheduler in control panel – something that’s existed since the very earliest days of Windows NT, though used to be a command-line only thing. Now with Task Scheduler, you can create jobs that do something on your machine according to a load of conditions – running at user logon, or at a time but only if someone’s logged in, if it’s been idle for a while etc.

It’s a snap to create a task that will start up OneDrive on a timed basis clip_image009– just create a new task, tell it when you want it to fire (midnight, when everyone’s gone to bed, and 9am, when everyone’s left the house could be good times?) and set the action to run.

Now, rather than running the OneDrive app directly, you might want to create a little command file that can do some other goodies too – try running (WindowsKey+R) notepad %userprofile%\start.cmd to create a new start command, and paste the following into it (and save it when you’ve done that):


echo Started OneDrive %date% %time% >> %userprofile%\onedrive.log


… and, while you’re at it, create a similar stop.cmd file with:

echo Stopping OneDrive %date% %time% >> %userprofile%\onedrive.log

taskkill /IM onedrive.exe 2>> %userprofile%\onedrive.log


Now, schedule the start.cmd to run at the times you like, and stop.cmd to do the same – eg if start is midnight and 9am, maybe stop should be 7am and 6pm. Both will write a line to a log file to say what date/time they ran.

clip_image013clip_image015Assuming it’s running at the time, you should be able to see the OneDrive icon in the Windows taskbar, and if it’s busy uploading you’ll see just how it’s getting on by clicking on the icon.

If you find your network is taking a hammering and you need all the bandwidth you can get for a Skype call, right-click on the icon, choose Exit and then click on the Close OneDrive button. This will stop all syncing of OneDrive content until either you manually start the program again, or until the next scheduled time kicks in.