Toyota, Suzuki near technology partnership agreement, report says

Toyota Motor Corp. and Suzuki Motor Corp. are nearing a partnership agreement to develop technology for a variety of functions, including for self-driving vehicles, the Nikkei business daily reported.

The two Japanese automakers could announce a deal as soon as Monday, the Nikkei reportedon Friday.

The partnership will also cover areas such as development and procurement, which includes applications for information technology and sharing sources for parts in Japan and abroad, the Nikkei said.

Suzuki and Toyota’s unit Daihatsu Motor will continue to sell automobiles under their separate brands to avoid risks related to antitrust laws. The companies will collaborate in ways that steer clear of antitrust risk, the business daily reported.

Toyota and Suzuki said in October that they plan to explore a possible partnership, citing technological challenges and the need to keep up with consolidation in the global auto industry.

Suzuki and Toyota did not immediately respond to requests for comment outside regular business hours.

US announces $8.5bn F35 order

US F35

The US Department of Defense has announced a deal for 90 F-35 jets worth about $8.5bn for supplier Lockheed Martin.

The agreement brings the price for each stealth fighter aircraft below $100m for the first time, the Pentagon said.

The Pentagon says it will save around $728m compared with its last order.

US President Donald Trump has been vocal in his criticism of the price of the F35 programme.

Mr Trump that the costs of the project were “out of control”.

However, defence analysts have said that a subsequent discount, which Donald Trump announced at the end of January, was in line with what had been flagged by Lockheed and Pentagon officials for months.

The F-35 is the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons programme, costing about $400bn (£316bn).

But the price per jet has been steadily declining as production increases.

The US military will buy 55 of the jets, while 35 of the F35s will be sold abroad.

The UK is to buy three of the fighter planes.

Lockheed, the main contractor, and its partners have been working on building a more cost-effective supply chain to fuel the production line in Fort Worth in Texas.

Ex-VW chairman Piech testifies in Winterkorn probe

FRANKFURT — Volkswagen’s former Chairman Ferdinand Piech, who left the company following a showdown with ex-CEO Martin Winterkorn in 2015, has testified to prosecutors investigating Winterkorn’s involvement in the carmaker’s diesel scandal, according to Winterkorn’s lawyer.

“Winterkorn learned a few days ago of the existence of more detailed testimony by the former chairman, Prof. Dr. F. Piech,” a lawyer for Winterkorn said in an emailed statement, adding that Winterkorn did not know any details about what Piech told prosecutors.

The prosecutor’s office was not reachable for comment on Friday.

Piech, the carmaker’s former CEO and chairman who spearheaded its global expansion, quit in April 2015 after more than two decades at VW’s helm following a power struggle with then-CEO Winterkorn.

Prosecutors in Braunschweig near VW’s Wolfsburg headquarters said last week they were investigating Winterkorn over suspicions of fraud, citing indications that Winterkorn may have known about VW’s cheating on emissions tests sooner than he has said publicly.

The five biggest headaches for software developers

frustrated-developer.jpg

For any developer who’s spent hours hunting for a bug in a tangle of spaghetti code, glib pronouncements that “programming isn’t hard” are particularly tiresome.

Programming may be rewarding, but as veteran devs will tell you, it can also be terrible.

The reality of software development is that it can be a fulfilling but also difficult role, where compromise is frequently necessary to meet deadlines.

While the daily grind of an iOS dev may be vastly different to that of an embedded software engineer, there are common sources of pain that cut across all fields of software development.

SEE: Stack Overflow founder Spolsky: The three skills every software developer should learn

A group of European researchers polled about 180 GitHub developers, asking them what their greatest “causes of unhappiness” were and how that dissatisfaction affected their work.

Here are the most common frustrations reported by these devs.

1. Poor code quality and bad coding practices

Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the greatest annoyances for devs is shoddy code, whether written by themselves at an earlier date or inherited from a colleague. The pain of fixing issues is compounded by poor and unclear comments, with those polled expressing particular frustration at having to work with “unexplained broken code”, as well as having to tidy up earlier work by refactoring the codebase.

2. Hunting for bugs

A related problem is pinpointing the source of unexpected and undesirable behavior in a codebase. When it comes to bugs, the most egregious for the devs surveyed are those that can’t be easily located, followed by perennial issues that won’t go away, those which are particularly unexpected and, as you’d expect, those which take a lot of time and effort to fix.

3. Disappointing technical infrastructure

Unwieldy and unhelpful technical infrastructure is another major pain point, particularly where it constrains what the developer can do, is broken or outdated, not well-documented or judged generally to be “inadequate”. Code comments that are either too general or too specific were also criticized by those polled.

4. Unclear and fanciful requirements

As with any professional, developers dislike uncertainty about what they should be doing. Those questioned cited “vague” and “unrealistic” project requirements as a source of stress, particularly where those requirements are changing right up to the last minute.

5. Maintaining past code

For a developer, having to understand, maintain and build upon code that they haven’t worked on for months or years can be tough. That challenge becomes even more acute when the code was written by people who’ve long since departed the company or it has been haphazardly cobbled together over a long period of time.

BMW to recall 230,117 U.S. vehicles with Takata airbags

MUNICH — BMW said it would recall 230,117 cars and SUVs in the U.S. that may have been fitted with faulty airbag inflators made by Takata Corp.

The vehicles were being brought in for checks again as they may have had an airbag replaced with a Takata inflator after a crash or in a previous recall, BMW said, adding this was part of a wider recall of 900,000 vehicles announced in 2015.

The vehicles were originally built with inflators made by another company, the automaker said.

Takata inflators have been linked to at least 16 deaths worldwide. The inflators can explode with excessive force and send metal shrapnel inside cars and trucks.

BMW said the recall covers certain X5 SUVs between 2001-2002, some 3 series from 2000-2002 and some 5 Series from 2001-2003.

Trump to order review that could relax Dodd-Frank bank rules

Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump is expected to take his first steps to scale back financial services regulations on Friday.

He is due to sign an executive order to review the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial regulations, which some people on Wall Street say are overly-restrictive.

The law was brought in after the 2008-09 financial crisis with the aim of avoiding another financial meltdown.

“Dodd-Frank is a disaster,” Mr Trump said earlier this week.

He added: “We’re going to be doing a big number on Dodd-Frank.”

Mr Trump made it a campaign pledge to repeal and replace the Dodd-Frank act, which also created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

This US government agency seeks to make sure banks, lenders, and other financial companies treat US consumers fairly.

Dodd-Frank, named after the Congressmen who campaigned for the legislation, was introduced to restrict risky practices by banks and other financial companies.

But Trump administration officials have said Dodd-Frank did not achieve what it set out to do, and argue that is an example of government being overly-controlling.


  • The 2010 Dodd-Frank act was introduced to address “too-big-to-fail” banking
  • The law forced US banks to reduce their reliance on debt for funding
  • Banks had to craft “living wills”, or blueprints for winding them down in a crisis
  • Dodd-Frank created the Financial Stability Oversight Council
  • The Council seeks to identify risks and promote market discipline
  • The law also had a big consumer protection element
  • It created a new agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to oversee consumer financial products
  • This gave regulators new powers over large non-bank financial companies
  • Dodd-Frank is named after Democrats Christopher Dodd and Barnett “Barney” Frank, who pushed the law through Congress

The executive order will direct the Treasury secretary to consult members of different regulatory agencies and the Financial Stability Oversight Council, and report back on potential changes.

Mr Trump will also sign a presidential memorandum instructing the Labor Department to delay bringing in an Obama-era rule requiring financial professionals to put their clients’ interests first when giving advice on retirement investments.

The rule, which was set to take effect in April, will be delayed for 90 days while it is reviewed.

The so-called “fiduciary rule” was aimed at blocking financial advisers from steering clients toward investments with higher commissions and fees that can eat into retirement savings.

Critics say the rule limits retirees’ investment choices by forcing asset managers to steer them to low risk options.


President Trump wants to “do a big number”, as he put it, on the Dodd-Frank act, a law that changed financial regulation after the 2008 crisis.

On Thursday evening, a senior White House official told me and other reporters about their plans to examine the act and the regulatory system.

Speaking in the West Wing, the official described Dodd-Frank as “massive government over-reach”, and said that an overhaul of the system would empower consumers, giving them a chance to make “independent” financial decisions.

People in the financial industry have welcomed the chance to dismantle Dodd-Frank, and to make other regulatory changes.

Yet, many of those in the briefing room were not impressed. Reporters asked whether bankers were pushing for these changes – and whether a revamping of the regulatory system was necessary.


Also on Friday, Mr Trump is meeting with his business advisory group of senior US executives.

It will be the first meeting of the Strategic and Policy Forum, a group of executives that includes Jamie Dimon, of banking giant JPMorgan Chase, and Mary Barra chief executive of carmaker General Motors.

Travis Kalanick, the chief executive of ride-sharing service Uber, stepped down from the economic advisory group

: “Meeting with biggest business leaders this morning. Good jobs are coming back to US, health care and tax bills are being crafted NOW!”

AT&T raises stakes on 5G, targets two cities for AirGig trials

airgig.jpg

The 5G future may be coming faster than we think. AT&T has entered into advanced discussions to determine trial locations for its Project AirGig wireless gigabit internet service.

According to a press release, AT&T is targeting at least two locations to begin trials by fall of this year. The release noted that “one location will be in the United States with others to be determined in the coming months.”

Originally announced in September 2016, Project AirGig is a new approach to multi-gigabit wireless internet that uses antennas attached to power lines to deliver the signal. AT&T has noted that it is “easier to deploy than fiber,” as it doesn’t require building new towers or burying any cable. The company also said it expects that it can help deliver internet to more rural areas as well.

SEE: AT&T to deliver gigabit wireless internet on power lines with new Project AirGig

AT&T has been experimenting with AirGig’s broadband-over-power lines (BPL) technology for quite some time, and has achieved positive results, the release said. Those experiments have led to the development of the company’s Radio Distributed Antenna System (RDAS) as well.

“Project AirGig represents a key invention in our 5G Evolution approach,” Andre Fuetsch, president of AT&T Labs and chief technology officer, said in the release. “AT&T Labs is ‘writing the textbook’ for a new technology approach that has the potential to deliver benefits to utility companies and bring this multi-gigabit, low-cost internet connectivity anywhere there are power lines—big urban market, small rural town, globally.”

Earlier in January 2017, AT&T also announced that it would begin a 5G trial in Austin, Texas for its DirecTV Now customers. That trial is set to focus on 4K video streaming, IoT deployments, and mobile video.

The AT&T announcement is just the latest in a host of carrier and tech company innovations that will help build out the 5G network of the future. Verizon recently announced its own efforts in 5G connectivity and next-generation wireless technology with the $1.8 billion purchase of XO Communications to focus on fixed wireless and gigabit speeds.

Silicon Valley tech giants are also jumping into the market. Google recently expanded its support of Webpass for its Google Fiber customers, and Elon Musk’s SpaceX has come up with a plan to use thousands of satellites to deliver wireless internet.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. AT&T has entered into advanced discussions with power companies to find two new trial locations for its AirGig service.
  2. AirGig is AT&T’s wireless service that uses antennas attached to power lines, and could help advance their 5G mission.
  3. Companies like Verizon, Google, and SpaceX are all developing next-generation wireless innovations that could mean a lot of competition for AT&T.

Trump orders review of Dodd-Frank, potentially impacting CFPB, Cordray

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump launched a sweeping review of the Dodd-Frank Act rules enacted in response to the 2008-09 financial crisis, signing an executive order Friday designed to significantly scale back the regulatory system put in place in 2010.

The move could have major implications for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was established under the Dodd-Frank Act, to oversee automotive and other lenders including automaker’s captive finance companies and banks. New-car dealers’ practice of setting interest rates on vehicle loans, and the fees they collect for arranging financing, has been a frequent target of the bureau. The CFPB has also settled with Ally Financial, American Honda Finance Corp. and Toyota Motor Credit Corp. for alleged discriminatory auto lending practices.

By law, the CFPB has oversight of lenders but not new-vehicle dealers.

The review included examining making personnel changes at financial regulators as a way of accomplishing the administration’s objectives, a White House official said earlier before the order was signed. They declined to answer a question on whether Trump would try to fire Richard Cordray, the director of the CFPB. The official did say the administration believed that some of the rules created under Dodd-Frank may have been unconstitutional, including the creation of new agencies, an apparent reference to the bureau.

Asked Monday about whether Trump would retain Cordray in his position, White House press secretary Sean Spicer declined to answer. Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s treasury secretary nominee, said during his congressional testimony that he believed the CFPB as a whole should be preserved but that Congress should take more direct control of its budget.

In October, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the structure of the CFPB was unconstitutional. Under the ruling, the president will have the power to supervise and direct the CFPB director and to remove him or her at will. The previous CFPB structure allowed the director to be autonomous and fired by the president only for cause.

The court’s decision says the CFPB can continue to operate as an agency, but it must operate as an executive agency like other executive agencies that are headed by a single individual, such as the Department of Justice or Department of the Treasury. The CFPB appealed the decision in November.

Mnuchin told CNBC in November that “stripping back part of” the Dodd-Frank Act would be a priority, but he didn’t provide details on how the CFPB could be affected.

Trump’s order will also halt another of former President Barack Obama’s regulations, opposed by the financial industry, that requires advisers on retirement accounts to work in the best interests of their clients. Trump’s order gives the new administration time to review the change, known as the fiduciary rule.

Taken together, the actions are designed to lay down the Trump administration’s approach to financial markets, with an emphasis on removing regulatory burdens and opening up investor options, said the White House official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.

The orders are the most aggressive steps yet by Trump to loosen regulations in the financial services industry and come after he has sought to stock his administration with veterans of the industry in key positions. His plans are sure to face fierce criticism by Democrats who charge that Trump is intent on undoing changes designed to protect everything from average investors to the global banking system.

He also could face a backlash from some of his own supporters, whose distrust of big institutions and the financial industry helped fuel the populist anger that propelled Trump to the White House.

‘Big number’

Trump is scheduled to issue the directives at a signing ceremony around noon following a meeting of more than a dozen top corporate executives led by Blackstone Group LP CEO Steve Schwarzman.

On Monday, Trump promised to do “a big number” on the Dodd-Frank Act during a meeting with small business owners. He said the law had damaged the country’s “entrepreneurial spirit” and limited access to needed credit.

“Regulation has actually been horrible for big business, but it’s been worse for small business,” the president said. “Dodd-Frank is a disaster.”

Trump’s Treasury secretary Mnuchin will meet with members of the Financial Stability Oversight Council and report back on what changes the administration should take to alter Dodd-Frank, the official said. Particular attention will be paid to the Volcker Rule limits on banks making speculative bets with their own funds, a restriction promoted by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker.

Immediate impact

The official wouldn’t say how long the Treasury Department would have to complete its review, but did say that the administration would be looking for ways to make an immediate impact, including through administrative changes and personnel decisions.

Trump’s directive also stalls the so-called fiduciary rule — set to take effect in April — that the Obama administration said would protect millions of retirees from being steered into inappropriate high-cost or high-risk investments that generate bigger profits for brokers.

The Trump administration doesn’t believe Dodd-Frank measures, including the Volcker Rule, addressed real issues in the financial system, the official said. The president’s team also believes the Labor Department fiduciary rule was unnecessarily restricting investor choice without providing necessary consumer protection, the official said.

Republican lawmakers and some financial firms say the fiduciary rule is deeply flawed, arguing that it will restrict options for consumers and result in some savers being denied advice on their retirements. Trump will call for the Labor Department to stop and review the regulation in its entirety.

While the review will be undertaken independently by the Labor Department, the White House aide signaled that the president was expecting significant change.

Broader overhaul

Delaying implementation of the Labor Department rule is the first step Republicans and the finance industry are eyeing as part of a broader overhaul of the measure. GOP Lawmakers have argued that the Securities and Exchange Commission, not the Labor Department, should oversee and regulate any changes related to financial firms.

Banks, asset managers and insurers have been fighting the fiduciary rule ever since the Labor Department approved it last year, saying the regulation could raise the costs of providing advice and make it harder to serve lower-income clients. Business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and American Council of Life Insurers have sued to try to block it.

Still, representatives of some financial services companies said they planned to change practices to meet the regulation’s standard even if it is halted.

Hannah Lutz of Automotive News contributed to this report.

Trump to order review of Dodd-Frank, potentially impacting CFPB, Cordray

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump will order a sweeping review of the Dodd-Frank Act rules enacted in response to the 2008 financial crisis, a White House official said, signing an executive action Friday designed to significantly scale back the regulatory system put in place in 2010.

The move could have major implications for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was established under the Dodd-Frank Act. The agency has previously settled with Ally Financial, American Honda Finance Corp. and Toyota Motor Credit Corp. for potentially discriminatory auto lending practices.

The review will include examining making personnel changes at financial regulators as a way of accomplishing the administration’s objectives, the official said. They declined to answer a question on whether Trump would try to fire Richard Cordray, the director of the CFPB. The official did say the administration believed that some of the rules created under Dodd-Frank may have been unconstitutional, including the creation of new agencies, an apparent reference to the bureau.

Asked Monday about whether Trump would retain Cordray in his position, White House press secretary Sean Spicer declined to answer. Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s treasury secretary nominee, said during his congressional testimony that he believed the CFPB as a whole should be preserved but that Congress should take more direct control of its budget.

In October, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the structure of the CFPB was unconstitutional. Under the ruling, the president will have the power to supervise and direct the CFPB director and to remove him or her at will. The previous CFPB structure allowed the director to be autonomous and fired by the president only for cause.

The court’s decision says the CFPB can continue to operate as an agency, but it must operate as an executive agency like other executive agencies that are headed by a single individual, such as the Department of Justice or Department of the Treasury. The CFPB appealed the decision in November.

Mnuchin told CNBC in November that “stripping back part of” the Dodd-Frank Act would be a priority, but he didn’t provide details on how the CFPB could be affected.

Trump also will halt another of former President Barack Obama’s regulations, hated by the financial industry, that requires advisers on retirement accounts to work in the best interests of their clients. Trump’s order will give the new administration time to review the change, known as the fiduciary rule.

Taken together, the actions are designed to lay down the Trump administration’s approach to financial markets, with an emphasis on removing regulatory burdens and opening up investor options, said the White House official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.

The orders are the most aggressive steps yet by Trump to loosen regulations in the financial services industry and come after he has sought to stock his administration with veterans of the industry in key positions. His plans are sure to face fierce criticism by Democrats who charge that Trump is intent on undoing changes designed to protect everything from average investors to the global banking system.

He also could face a backlash from some of his own supporters, whose distrust of big institutions and the financial industry helped fuel the populist anger that propelled Trump to the White House.

‘Big number’

Trump is scheduled to issue the directives at a signing ceremony around noon following a meeting of more than a dozen top corporate executives led by Blackstone Group LP CEO Steve Schwarzman.

On Monday, Trump promised to do “a big number” on the Dodd-Frank Act during a meeting with small business owners. He said the law had damaged the country’s “entrepreneurial spirit” and limited access to needed credit.

“Regulation has actually been horrible for big business, but it’s been worse for small business,” the president said. “Dodd-Frank is a disaster.”

Trump’s Treasury secretary Mnuchin will meet with members of the Financial Stability Oversight Council and report back on what changes the administration should take to alter Dodd-Frank, the official said. Particular attention will be paid to the Volcker Rule limits on banks making speculative bets with their own funds, a restriction promoted by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker.

Immediate impact

The official wouldn’t say how long the Treasury Department would have to complete its review, but did say that the administration would be looking for ways to make an immediate impact, including through administrative changes and personnel decisions.

Trump’s directive also stalls the so-called fiduciary rule — set to take effect in April — that the Obama administration said would protect millions of retirees from being steered into inappropriate high-cost or high-risk investments that generate bigger profits for brokers.

The Trump administration doesn’t believe Dodd-Frank measures, including the Volcker Rule, addressed real issues in the financial system, the official said. The president’s team also believes the Labor Department fiduciary rule was unnecessarily restricting investor choice without providing necessary consumer protection, the official said.

Republican lawmakers and some financial firms say the fiduciary rule is deeply flawed, arguing that it will restrict options for consumers and result in some savers being denied advice on their retirements. Trump will call for the Labor Department to stop and review the regulation in its entirety.

While the review will be undertaken independently by the Labor Department, the White House aide signaled that the president was expecting significant change.

Broader overhaul

Delaying implementation of the Labor Department rule is the first step Republicans and the finance industry are eyeing as part of a broader overhaul of the measure. GOP Lawmakers have argued that the Securities and Exchange Commission, not the Labor Department, should oversee and regulate any changes related to financial firms.

Banks, asset managers and insurers have been fighting the fiduciary rule ever since the Labor Department approved it last year, saying the regulation could raise the costs of providing advice and make it harder to serve lower-income clients. Business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and American Council of Life Insurers have sued to try to block it.

Still, representatives of some financial services companies said they planned to change practices to meet the regulation’s standard even if it is halted.

Hannah Lutz of Automotive News contributed to this report.

How to use Cortana to perform file management tasks in Windows 10

hero

This past December, my wife and I decided to get an Amazon Echo for a family Christmas present. Unfortunately we didn’t make that decision early enough to beat the holiday shopping rush—Amazon sold out of the Echo before we got around to ordering one. To top it off, that shortage quickly spread to all the local retail outlets that normally carry the Echo. An internet search revealed that there were no Echos within a 250-mile radius of my home. A notice on the Amazon site said that the Echo would not be in stock until the end of January. So we put our plans on hold.

We recently received our Amazon Echo and are really enjoying learning all the things that it can do.

While this article isn’t about the Echo, I bring it up because while I was waiting for my unit to arrive, I was reading everything I could find about it on the Web. As I did, my interest in digital assistants was reinvigorated and I delved back into investigating Cortana on my Windows 10 system. I had played around with it a couple of times in the past, but since I have an iPhone, I use Siri for directions, weather, reminders, music, and impromptu internet searches. I never really found it compelling to use Cortana for those types of things while sitting at my desk.

However, I decided to give Cortana a second chance and found that she does a nice job of providing me with the same types of features that I’ve grown accustomed to with Siri on my iPhone. Now, I haven’t yet attempted to add Cortana to my iPhone, but I just might do that sometime.

While I exploring Cortana’s functionality, I began focusing on the things she could do that would help me automate some of the file management tasks I normally perform on my desktop system, such as opening folders, launching applications, and finding files. I was a bit frustrated at first, but I soon discovered a few neat tricks I could use to get Cortana to expand her horizons. Let’s take a closer look.

SEE: Microsoft Cortana: The smart person’s guide

Activating “Hey Cortana”

To make this this endeavor work, you must enable the “Hey Cortana” feature. If you haven’t already done so, you’ll need to follow these steps. To begin, click the Search box to the right of the Start button. When the search panel appears, click Settings, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

Figure AFigure A

Click Settings in the search panel.

When the Settings window appears, turn on the Hey Cortana option, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

Figure BFigure B

Turn on the Hey Cortana setting.

Throughout the rest of this article, I’ll assume you know that all of the verbal commands I describe begin with my saying, “Hey Cortana.”

SEE: Amazon Alexa: The smart person’s guide

Launching applications

I found that for the most part, Cortana is quite adept at launching applications. For example, to run Microsoft Word, you say, “Hey Cortana” and then say one of the following:

“Open Microsoft Word”

or

“Launch Microsoft Word”

Immediately, Cortana will respond audibly while providing a visual, like the one shown in Figure C.

Figure C

Figure CFigure C

Cortana will let you know audibly and visually that she is launching the requested application.

Sometimes when you ask Cortana to launch an application, she has trouble interpreting your request. For example, when I asked her to “Open Notepad,” she prompted me identify which one I wanted, as shown in Figure D. So I’d have to click one, which sort of defeats the purpose.

Figure D

Figure DFigure D

Cortana never could figure out which Notepad I wanted.

This became frustrating as after so many times, I had hoped that she would learn that regular Notepad was my preferred choice, but that never happened. And when I asked specifically for Notepad++, she would launch Microsoft Edge and initiate a Bing search for Notepad++. I’ll keep working on this one and let you know if I find a solution.

SEE: How to control your Windows 10 PC using VoiceAttack

Searching for documents

Cortana is really good at searching for files on my Windows 10 system. I suppose that’s not all that surprising since she lives in the search area. To have Cortana search for files, you can use either the “Find” or “Show me” command. For example, I discovered the following commands useful in tracking down files on my Windows 10 system:

“Show me recent documents”

“Find the {document name} document”

“Find the {document name} PowerPoint”

“Find the {document name} PDF”

“Find the {document name} text file”

“Find documents named {any word in a document name}”

“Find PDF files”

“Find Excel files”

“Find PowerPoint files”

“Find text files”

However, no matter how I tried to phrase it, I could not get Cortana to find any image files, such as JPG, PNG, GIF, or BMP. I’ll keep working on this one and let you know if I find a solution.

SEE: Microsoft wants to make conversing with your computer the new normal

Opening folders

Opening folders is a pretty standard file management task. But no matter what I tried, I couldn’t get Cortana to open specific folders. Of course, I could easily have Cortana launch File Explorer with the command:

“Launch File Explorer”

I just couldn’t get Cortana to understand that I wanted to open a certain folder. Heck, I couldn’t even get Cortana to open standard folders, such as Documents or Pictures.

However, after doing a ton of research on the internet and performing a number of experiments, I discovered that I could get Cortana to run shortcuts if they were placed in the following folder:

C:ProgramDataMicrosoftWindowsStart MenuPrograms

Once I found out that fact, it was easy figure out that if I created a shortcut to a folder, configured it just right, and then moved it into the Programs folder; I could get Cortana to open any folder I wanted. And indeed that turned out to be the case. But in between, there was a lot of trial and error in choosing a shortcut name that both made sense to me and that Cortana could recognize. This is definitely a situation where persistence pays off.

I created shortcuts to several folders and renamed the shortcuts with simple names and then tried to get Cortana to open them. Even when I did choose a perfect shortcut name, it took several attempts before Cortana learned what I was asking her to do. If after three or four attempts, Cortana still wasn’t opening the folder, I renamed the shortcut and then tried again.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the procedure you’ll need to follow to create the shortcut.

Creating the folder shortcut

To begin, locate the folder you want to be able to access via Cortana. Right-click the folder and select the Send To > Desktop (Create Shortcut) command from the context menu, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E

Figure EFigure E

Create a shortcut to your folder.

Next, rename the shortcut and move it into the C:ProgramDataMicrosoftWindowsStart MenuPrograms folder, as shown in Figure F. Keep in mind that to locate this folder path, you’ll need to enable the Show Hidden Files, Folders, Or Drives setting in Folder Options. In this particular instance, I ended up renaming the shortcut CurrentWork, which worked for both Cortana and me.

Figure F

Figure FFigure F

Move the shortcut from the desktop into the Programs folder.

When you drop the shortcut into the Programs folder, you’ll be prompted to provide administrator permission, as shown in Figure G, since the Programs folder is a hidden system folder. Just click Continue.

Figure G

Figure GFigure G

You’ll be prompted to provide administrator permission.

Now, you’ll need to access the shortcut’s Properties dialog and fill in the Start In text box by typing the path to the Programs folder, as shown in Figure H.

Figure H

Figure HFigure H

Type the path to the Programs folder in the Start In text box.

Be sure to enclose the path in double quotes:

“C:ProgramDataMicrosoftWindowsStart MenuPrograms”

Since the Programs folder is a hidden system folder, when you click OK, you’ll again be prompted for administrator permission, as shown in Figure I. Just click Continue.

Figure I

Figure IFigure I

You’ll be prompted to provide administrator permission.

At this point, ask Cortana to launch the shortcut using the “Open” command. For example, I used the command:

“Open CurrentWork”

The real benefit

Having Cortana at my beck and call to perform some standard file management tasks really does have its benefits. For instance, now when I walk into my office, I start giving Cortana commands even before I sit down at my desk. For instance, I’ll say:

“Open CurrentWork”

followed by

“Launch Microsoft Word”

Then when I sit down, everything is ready for me to get to work. I know it may sound kind of goofy, but hey, isn’t technology great?