Tag Archives: GUI

Moving lost applications back into your Desktop on Windows

Ok, I confess that this post is about as far removed as I can probably get from my blogging “focus”, but as of late I have been running into this problem more and more frequently on my Windows 10 tablet and it is starting to annoy me. So to use my blogging platform for the original purpose (as a reference for me in the first instance), I have decided to make a little note of what actions I take to get these dastardly disappearing applications back.

When your applications somehow get stuck in the electronic equivalent of purgatory, there is one (almost) sure-fire way to get each one back. You will need to take the following actions:

  1. Provide focus to the application.
  2. Access the application windows Move option.
  3. Begin the move through the keyboard.
  4. Drag the window to your desktop.

How you perform these steps can vary, but the simplest method can be achieved by :

  1. Hold SHIFT key and right-click the application. If windows are stacked, make sure you (SHIFT and) right-click the application you want.
  2. From the context menu click Move. If the Move option is grayed out, you first need to click the Restore button and repeat this process again.
  3. Click one of the arrow keys to activate the Window move.
  4. Wiggle your mouse all over the place until the Window in question is visible and then drag it into the center of your screen. Remember that the window can be at any axis North/ South/ East or West of your Desktop, so keep moving until you see it!
  5. Click the mouse button to ungrab the Window.

You might also find that cascading your Windows can help make the above procedure easier to perform. To do that, right-click the task bar and select Cascade from the context window.

Using the new Azure Dashboard favourites and tiles

The new Azure Portal represents a huge improvement over the old Classic Azure Portal in terms of User eXperience and performance.

If you were used to the old portal you’ll most probably have got to like the quirks and simplicity, but the new portal has a lot to offer and does a great job in providing a more customised and colourful end-user experience.

In this post I shall discuss some of the functionality that will make your Azure UX experience more productive and enjoyable.

Favourites sidebar

Favourites can be dragged up or down to your preferred position.


The Portal sidebar at first seems like a cluttered mess, but what items appear on it is completely under your control.

The items on display can be removed (or added) by clicking on the the Browse option and navigating to the item you wish to add/ remove.

When the item in question is visible in the browse list, you can simply tick the star (to its right) to add as a favourite (see below) -the star is highlighted yellow to add as a favourite or cleared to remove from your favourites bar.


The favourite will be placed at the bottom of your sidebar list, but you can order these simply by hovering your mouse pointer over them and dragging and dropping into position.

Once you have customized your menu to your satisfaction it is worth minimizing the favourites list by clicking on the minimize button just beneath the Microsoft Azure logo. This will hide (or display) the favourite titles leaving only the icons on your screen real estate.

Navigation bar

Your Azure experience will consist of many click-select-click-select operations and each time you will navigate further and further down the resource tree in order to make changes required to your resources. This could pose a problem when trying to step back up the tree if it wasn’t for the presence of the Menu Ribbon (found at the top of the Azure Portal). Every sub-menu that is selected will cause a new item to appear to the right of the ribbon (see below).

menu ribbon

In order to step or jump back one or more levels, simply click at that specific item on the tree. If the ribbon cannot fit all the item names on the screen, it will place the earlier ones into a drop down menu accessible by clicking the far left back-arrows item (as seen in the ribbon above).


Tiles are cool right? Well they are even cooler when you can move them around and resize them (just like Windows 8-10).


In order to drag a tile somewhere else within the dashboard surface area you can either switch the dashboard into edit mode by clicking edit on the Portal Menu ribbon, or hover the mouse pointer over the tile you wish to move until its menu bar appears. Simply drag the tile to the position you desire (other tiles will automatically adjust their position to accommodate). You will probably get better mileage from laying the tiles to fit either a vertical or horizontal layout if you commonly use different screen orientations.

select tileFrom this menu it is also possible to remove the tile (by clicking the close cross) or by clicking the ellipses (three dots!) and selecting Unpin from dashboard option from its drop-down menu.

The ellipses menu option will also provide the ability to resize the tile but tile sizing is tile sensitive. In other-words specific tile types can only be resized to specific dimensions (or not at all). For instance, a Virtual Machine tile can be resized only to 1×1, 2×1 and 2×2 dimensions but subscription tiles cannot be resized at all. Once you have selected the tile dimensions from the ellipses drop down menu click the Done button at the top of the Azure Portal.

Newly created resources will be automatically added (by default) onto the Azure dashboard (unless you deselect that option on creation). If you have existing resources you wish to add to the dashboard, simply search for the one you want and select the ellipses option to its right in the resource list and select Pin to dashboard.


If you are not crazy about the default colours used in the Azure Portal you can easily change to another pre-defined theme by clicking the settings settings button on the Portal Menu ribbon. This will give you the option to select (currently) 1 of 4 themes, turn Animations on or off and enable or disable Toast notifications. Personally I like the default theme and I don’t really see any point in turning off animations or toast notifications, but you can if you want to…


microsoft azureIf you are busy making changes to different resources, one useful feature to assist navigation is the history recorder. It will remember the last 10 previous locations visited in the Azure Portal. These can be accessed by the drop-down list (located next to the Microsoft Azure logo). I think it is a shame that this list does not remove duplicates, nor is the list size (currently) configurable, but you may find it an easy way to travel around to commonly accessed resources and options.

Well that concludes my introductory post on the new Azure Portal UX, and if you have any other tips then I would really love to hear them!

Lets keep it short – problem creating availability group listeners

Someone once said to me that he thought I should work as a GUI tester since I always seemed to find problems in the UI after I highlighted a problem to him that I’d found in Linux Gnome that he had never seen before after all his years working with the product. I guess there is an element of truth to that statement since I really do like clicking around and trying different things. However I suspect that my latest discovery won’t necessarily be one of those obscure problems that no-one else comes across since it is such an obvious problem and fairly easy to run into.

Whilst playing around with SQL Server 2012 (Denali) Availability groups, I discovered that there is a restriction set on the size of the listener name that you are able to enter through the GUI.

Let me demonstrate…

First I will create a new DNS host name called “readpastandfurious” which you should note is 18 characters long.

create our “longish” DNS host record

And of course there isn’t a problem creating this record since the restriction upon the size of the DNS host name is (I believe 24 characters).

DNS Server will now resolve our host record

Next I decide to create an Availability Group Listener via the SSMS GUI wizard and am very surprised when I can only type in 15 characters! Obviously this text field must have been programmatically restricted since by default the GUI text fields would not be limited.

oh dear we are out of space

My first thought was that it has been restricted on purpose perhaps for an odd NETBIOS reason -if for example NETBIOS was being used for resolution in any way in addition to DNS (daft but possible). Microsoft limits NETBIOS names to 15 characters, so this might have been a plausible explanation.

Next I decide to try and create the full 18 character availability group via T-SQL and I am a little surprised to find that it succeeded with no problems at all!

ADD LISTENER 'readpastandfurious' (WITH IP ( ('','') ) )

but as I suspected, TSQL is hunky dory

My conclusion then is that this behaviour is almost certainly a bug and was introduced by a programmer who either doesn’t understand the difference between NETBIOS and DNS or blindly assumed that 15 characters is enough?! In any event I believe this is a problem and have therefore raised a connect item for this issue here give it a vote up if you believe you might fall prey to this issue at some point in the future!

Why you should implement GUIs/ drop the history

I was chatting today with a colleague today about my frustration at the Oracle dbas not implementing (or having a standard) on GUI deployment on server builds. Some use the Java based Enterprise Manager, some use the command line and some (occasionally) use Grid Control. My point here is that from server to server the environment determines what you can use rather than you as the dba determining to use the appropriate tool for the task in hand. In my opinion for each server setup (10g or 11g) the database should be setup to be administered by either Grid Control or Database Control (since the Java gui is now in 11g phased out and also runs into various DMZ accessibility issues) but in my environment that is unfortunately not the case.

One of the reasons I offered as to why we as the dba should be determining to use the best tool for the job in hand whether it be GUI or command line is the scenario of dropping a database. What is the difference between dropping a database via the GUI or via the command line? Well when the GUI is used, an attempted drop of the database will first perform the drop and then attempt to clear down backup job history. Image if the history has not been maintained and needs to be done so at a later date due to the size. In this scenario the GUI will just hang for an excessive amount of time until it either completes OR the spid of the drop operation is killed. If it is killed the the database will still have been dropped. Therefore the best tool in this situation would have been the DROP database statement in the command line since this does not attempt clean-up and simply and quickly drops this database. However should you require clean-up the conversely the gui would be far more desirable for you to achieve your goal.