Office 2016 Nag message about default file associations

Just in case someone else encounters this problem:
Keep in mind this is probably only useful for fellow IT gurus running shared environments.

I have a small lab of PCs with Office 2016 installed (msi, not C2R). The lab is mainly used by students and so the usual restrictions are applied (by GPO). When I initially installed it, I tested with an admin account and with accounts that are already on the PC and all was well.

I’ve since done my usual routine of cleaning off the user profiles and low and behold the non-admin accounts I tested no longer work correctly: I’m getting a message for every new user that logs in saying ‘Word 2016 is not your default program, do you want to set them?’. Obviously this isn’t an issue if we’re only having one user on the computer, but this is a lab so it will have many users and I really don’t want them to come to me every time asking if they should answer yes or no.

The solution: Deploy a registry key (via GPO) which will tell the offending Office Apps to not display the message.

Here’s the process I used:

  1. Create a group policy object which will apply to the users we need to (not computers unfortuately it’s per-user).
  2. Edit User Configuration under Preferences -> Windows Settings -> Registry
  3. Add a new registry item
  4. Use the Update action and set the Hive: HKEY_CURRENT_USER
  5. For Word, set the Key Path to SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Word\Options
    For Excel, set the Key Path to SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Excel\Options
    For PowerPoint, set the Key Path to SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office\16.0\PowerPoint\Options
  6. Change Value name to AlertIfNotDefault
  7. Set the Value type to REG_DWORD
  8. Put 0 in the Value data
  9. Now make sure that this policy will apply to your users and you should be good to go! It might also be a good idea to go into the Common tab up the top and set it to Apply once and do not reapply just for performance sake.

I hope that helps someone out there, I presume it will work on other versions as well? No idea.

Acer A1-810 Review

Well it’s that time again; I’ve bought myself another toy and it’s time to tell the world what I think.

My story starts back in November 2013 when I received an email from a local computer shop (Centrecom). This is not unusual for this particular shop – they’ve recently started a fairly persistent campaign to get more online sales. Normally I just take a quick glance to see if there’s anything I’m interested in, and this time was no different. What WAS different, was that it had a quad-core Android Jellybean 8-inch tablet from a reputable brand going for $99!. Insanity!
The deal had a 12-hr clock – and it was from 8pm to 8am. Given that it was about 9pm when I got the email, I was starting to feel the pressure; such a deal could not be ignored!
I quickly did some research on the device, the Acer A1-810.
My first issue to overcome was my hatred of Acer. I’ve never encountered a high-quality Acer computer; they have always been designed to a price, and so they fail more than any other brand I’ve ever used. So I wasn’t too keen to give them any chances, price however, was a pretty good bargaining point. For $99, who could argue; and besides – I had just effectively binned my other “cheap” android tablet (see that saga here) and that was $120.
I discovered that it had been out for less than a year, and that it had a locked boot-loader. I did, however, find out it could be rooted – which is somewhat of a prerequisite for me.


The specs for the tablet concerned me at first:

  • MediaTek MT8125 1.2GHz Quad-Core SoC
  • PowerVR SGX 544MP GPU
  • 1GB DDR3 RAM
  • 16GB Internal Memory
  • 7.9-inch LED Backlit 768×1024 IPS Display
  • Multi-touch with 10-finger registration
  • 5MP rear facing camera
  • VGA front-facing camera
  • Wi-Fi b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • GPS
  • MicroSD slot
  • 3.5mm Stereo Audio-Out
  • Accelerometer + Gyro
  • HDMI-out (microHDMI)
  • MicroUSB (charging + data)
  • Single Stereo Speaker (Rear mounted)
  • 4.96Ah Battery
  • Weight: 410grams

Specifically, the processor gave me pause. Before the A1-810 I had never heard of MediaTek, let alone an “MT8125”. But yet again, for the price, I decided that with 4-cores it had to be at least as good as the TI OMAP4 4430 processor in my Galaxy Nexus.

One thing that stood out to me was the GPU; PowerVR are very well known in the mobile market – and I believe this particular chip was used in the Galaxy S4 (or at least a closely related chip). The purpose in getting this tablet was not to play games on, but it would definitely be a bonus. Also, my thinking was that if I had a more powerful GPU, that would negate any shortfalls with the unknown SoC.

It really only took a few minutes of research to get all I needed to make a decision on this one. BUY! BUY! BUY!

And so a short time later, I was the proud owner of an Acer A1-810. There was one caveat with the pricing though; although it was offered at $99, it’s actual price was $128 with a $29 manufacturer’s rebate. The process of redemption is somewhat prolonged; I first had to peel off the serial sticker off the box, then register with Acer, then fill out the registration form, then send it off, then wait 6 weeks, then finally an Acer EFTPOS card arrived in the mail. Interesting that they chose to use EFTPOS Cashcard – most of them go for VISA or MasterCard prepaid cards; but whatever – as long as it’s money.

So a few days later I got the tab in the mail. The packaging was pretty unremarkable, it came with the usual microUSB cable, a USB Charger, a pair of headphones, a bunch of papers and finally the A1-810.

First impressions

It’s white! Not sure how I missed that in my (admittedly short) research period, but it wasn’t really an issue anyway – it will be covered by a case soon enough 🙂
Looking around the device, I found the power button on the top-right, the volume rocker, the microSD slot, the microphone, and the microHDMI, all on the right side.
The microUSB port sits at the bottom right side of the tablet with the 3.5mm headphone jack on it’s left.

As you would expect, the front facing camera is top centre. The rear facing camera on top-left on the rear side.
The last thing of note is the speaker; for some reason unknown to me, manufacturers like to put speakers on the back-side of mobile devices. <rant>This makes no sense to me! If you are using the tablet wouldn’t you want to have the speaker facing the user?</rant> Anyway, unfortunately the A1-810 is no exception; the speaker sits at the bottom-left on the back, in line with the camera.

Let’s start of the review portion of this review started:

Feel and Practicality.

Compared with the normal rubbish that comes out of Acer warehouses, the A1-810 is REALLY well built.
It feels comfortable (in 2 hands anyway), it’s very solidly built, it’s well balanced and it doesn’t weigh too much.

As a side note: Having 2 other tablets and an iPad, I recognised that most tablets need a decent case; specifically one that has a kickstand/stand ability. So even before I received the tablet in mail – I received an 8-inch black leather case stand from eBay (this one, if you’re interested). Given that the case was designed specifically for the A1-810, it wasn’t a surprise that it fit like a glove (so to speak). I’ve found it really useful to be able to set the tablet up on a table with it’s stand up; much easier than propping it up with a book or something! Plus you get the bonus of it’s protective abilities.

Boot time

First boot took about a minute, which is about consistent with my Galaxy Nexus.
3 months later, it’s still at around about the 40-second, 1-minute mark. I think there must be an Android limitation or something because most Android devices I’ve used take longer than 30 seconds to boot.


The screen is as you would expect for an IPS display; it might not be as nice as the SAMOLED display on my Galaxy Nexus, but it’s pretty darn good for $99. Text is sharp, colours are beautiful and the contrast isn’t too bad.
I was a little concerned that the resolution would be a problem; I remember using 1024×768 as my laptop’s resolution 12 years ago – although now I think about it, the screen was probably not much bigger than the tablet anyway. But I digress. Actually the resolution matches the screen size quite well; it doesn’t look enlarged, it isn’t too small, or cramped. Text is certainly easy enough to read, and videos, though this isn’t a 16:9 display, look fine.

Touch Screen

I don’t know what it is with me, Android devices and Touch Screens, but I always manage to get the worst in the world of touch screens.
The touch screen seemed fine the first few days of use, although I didn’t really get to use multi-touch until later, but after I started playing GTA (III I think), I noticed strange glitches; I’m casually driving along until suddenly the brakes slam on and I’m going backwards. Low and behold, I look at the pedal icon on the screen and the brakes ARE on, and yet I’m not pressing it. After running a multi-touch test tool, I discovered that when you have 2 fingers on the same horizontal axis, it gets all confused and starts registering touches and holding them down. I found the only way to fix this is usually to turn the screen off (lock) and on again. This isn’t such a problem in games where you can move the controls (like GTA). I just set the brake pedal a little higher than the accellerator, and voila!


It’s okay. I would really much prefer the speaker on the front or side; you just don’t get the volume you want when it’s on the back.
But still, it is sufficient for normal use; I would never really expect to use it for anything serious anyway.


The rear-facing

Average at best. I really didn’t expect much to be honest. A tablet with a rear facing camera has always baffled me – What situations can you imagine where you have your tablet with you, but not your phone? Not likely right? That’s what I thought.

The front-facing

In all honesty though, the front facing camera is quite a bit more pathetic than the back, as you would expect from a VGA camera. I’m almost left wondering why they didn’t but the 5MP camera on the front – oh well, it should do for some basic Skyping.


I was expecting a typical OEM branded interface, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was almost AOSP Android 4.2 Jellybean.
Acer did force on a few apps which I would consider “bloatware”, but compared to a Sony Ericsson or a HTC it’s nothing. From what I remember (I’ve actually used Titanium Backup‘s bloatware melter on them now) there was an Acer Cloud app, which is supposed to sync your images and videos with their service; personally I find such things useless, especially considering how many free synchronisation services are out there. There was also a registration app, a demo app and an updater app, a file manager app, as well as a few commercial apps which I can’t remember.

First thing’s first – the extra apps had to go! To do so, I need Titanium Backup, and to use TB, I needed to root the thing. So with less than 20 minutes of it being on, I was ready to root my new toy.


Well above what I could have expected. It’s smooth as butter in the launcher; I’m yet to see any sort of lag when swiping through pages.

Gaming is where this tablet really shines. I can play GTA: Vice City no problem – I haven’t tried maxing out the Graphical settings, but I bet it would run fine on max res and shadows – but maybe not max draw distance given it’s only got 1GB RAM. It’s a similar story with The Sims Freeplay – no issues there; okay, it lags massively when you enter a house that’s loaded with items, but then so does my Nexus.

Internet browsing is a similarly smooth experience; no glitches


Not too shabby actually. I usually get a full day + a few extra hours with heavy usage (gaming/web browsing/music/youtube). I could see it lasting a couple of days with light usage.

Got Root?

As usual, XDA Developers had the answer! After rooting, I used TB’s ‘freeze’ facility to keep Acer’s apps out of the way and as usual it worked brilliantly!

I went for the do-it-yourself method, since I happened to have a Linux Mint partition ready to use, but I hear you can use the download method with just as much success.

Basically the DIY method does a dump of the system partition on the device, installs the SU binary and then loads it back on the device; I like this method much better because you know which ROM you’re using (plus I was afraid it might have some localised differences on the Aussie ROM)



Wow! what a tablet. The good sides of this argument really do outweigh the bad

For the price, this was really the bargain of the century. Even now, you can pick one up for $130-140 which is still amazing value considering what you get.
I see this as a cheap-chinese-tablet killer! Why pay $100 for a load of junk, when you can pay $30 more for something that will actually last, and has a warranty, and has GPS?

I could also imagine this being a very popular, cheap alternative to buying a dedicated GPS unit.

If I could use one word to sum up this device, it would be this:




Perfomance Tyres for Subaru Liberty RX (Legacy)

Unusual I know, but since it’s been a while, and since I haven’t posted anything in quite a while – I thought I’d post something non-IT related: Tyres.

Yep, those things we hate to spend money on, and those things that tend to need replacing when you least expect it.
Normally, I wouldn’t bother posting about such a mundane topic, but any time I try to do research on a topic, and it’s hard to come by – I feel the need to make it easier for someone else to find the same information I spent a long time researching.

The car in question that needed tyres is my 2001 MY01 Subaru Liberty (Legacy) RX 2.5L Manual.
For the record the tyre size is 205/50/R16
Unfortunately (and yet also somewhat fortunately) this size quite limits what I could buy. Most of your run of the mill el-cheapo tyres are simply not made in this size or profile. Although this is a massively limiting factor in respect to price, it does ensure that you can’t really get a ‘bad’ tyre.

I really, really liked the Dunlop SP3000 Sport that came with the car when I bought it. They were extremely grippy in the dry, reasonable in the wet, they were very comfortable and balanced. Their biggest let down was longevity – these things didn’t last 30K Kilometres. I’ll admit to being a ‘spirited’ driver, but it’s not like I’m doing burnouts and drifting around corners.
Despite their problems, they have been extremely fun, but unfortunately they no longer make them in 205/50/R16 🙁

From what I found at my local tyre shops the absolute cheapest tyres that fit (and none of them had any in stock) were the Bridgestone MY02 at AUD$135 each, and although they are massively cheaper than many others, they seem to have a very ‘average’ rating across the internet. It also didn’t help that no one had them in stock.

My closest tyre store was Beaurepaires and they didn’t really have all that much in stock in my size (none of them really seemed to stock much in my size actually). Before I got there I had decided to get one of 3 tyres: the Bridgestone Potenza RE002, the Dunlop SP Sport MAXX and the Dunlop SP Sport FastResponse (depending on recommendation from the tyre guys).
I got none of those.

From reading reviews and posts, I believe the RE002’s would have been slightly better (performance wise) than the SP3000’s I had, and think the Sport MAXX would have been the closest match to the SP3000’s. The FastResponse was only an option because it’s the cheapest.

But of course they didn’t have ANY of those tyres in stock. None of them.

Luckily I had done research on the two they DID have: the Goodyear Eagle F1 Directional 5 and the Dunlop SP Sport MAXX TT.
I didn’t really consider either because of their relative price difference to the others.
Luckily, the guesses I found regarding pricing turned out not to be quite accurate.
Something that really bothers me about this industry (in Australia at least) is the availability of pricing information.
Out of the 5-6 mainstream tyre fitters in Australia, only one had prices quoted directly on their website. The only way to get information from the others is to call up and ask, or use their online enquiry forms – both of which I’m sure will put you on their mailing/phone list.

I ended up going for 4 x Goodyear Eagle F1 Directional 5 for $212/tyre with balance, fitting and alignment; which is actually quite a bit more expensive than the SP3000’s I had before ($160/tyre).

2-3 months in and I’m impressed, but not overly so.
I was told by the tyre expert that the Eagle F1’s are a slightly harder rubber but also should be just as grippy as the SP3000. I made a calculated gamble that for the extra price I should make up the difference in longevity; only time will tell.

So far here are my findings (all of this will be based on a comparison to the SP3000’s as they are the only ones I’ve had on the car):

Ride/Comfort: I found to be quite good; I’d say about the same level of comfort when hitting bumps. Certainly it’s just as good taking on a bumpy dirt road at speed.
Dry Cornering: As good as BUT, it just doesn’t feel the same as the Dunlops. They will take you around just about any corner at speed, but it just doesn’t feel as planted, as stable. It’s quite hard to describe what it is that’s different but it just doesn’t feel like all 4 tyres are working in unison to provide the most grip.
Wet Cornering: Quite a bit improved over the Dunlops, I feel much safer in the wet and I’ve not seen them slip yet.
Wet/Dry Braking: Very impressive in both wet and dry conditions. They’ve already prevented an accident.
Noise: I would say they are a little noiser, but that’s to be expected with brand new treads.
Economy: No idea honestly, I’m not one to measure my fuel costs, I just fill up when I need to. But judging by the amount of times I need to refill a month, I would say it’s slightly better than Dunlop.


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