Phone Only App Manages Spectrum Networks

Man! I am NOT a happy camper right now. I just figured out that my DHCP leases have changed, but DNS isn’t tracking same. Thus, my “fixed” correlation between machine name X12Hybrid and 192.168.1.20 is no longer valid. The last digits of the IPv4 have changed. But NSlookup still sees the aforementioned address. And in attempting to troubleshoot the issue, I’ve just learned I can’t login to my router from a PC on my LAN. Because a phone only app manages spectrum networks, I must go through my iPhone.

Why Phone Only App Manages Spectrum Networks Is a Drag

I’m used to getting up close and personal with the Spectrum router through a web-based login. I know that interface, and can use it well. Now I not only have to learn a new interface instead, I must also:

  • run it through a smartphone with a ~3″x6″ display
  • try to figure out how (or perhaps even if) what I already know how to do inside one utility still works in another

It’s frustrating to be FORCED to use a cellphone when I have large screens at my disposal. I’ve shared my sentiments with the Spectrum tech support crew — a nice and genuinely helpful bunch of folks — but it seems to make little difference.

That’s progress, I guess. I can’t say I see this as a step forward. I can approve of using the phone app as an alternative to the old way. I can’t approve of using it as an out-and-out replacement. Sigh.

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Use NSlookup for Machine Name Checks

Certain recent Dev Channel builds have played intermittent hob with RDP. Thus, for example, I had to switch from using the machine name to its IP address to RDP into one particular PC. In troubleshooting that issue, I quickly realize it makes sense to use NSlookup for machine name checks. Indeed as you can see in the lead-in graphic, when NSlookup resolves that name correctly, RDP will also accept that name to establish a connection.

Why Use NSlookup for Machine Name Checks?

Because it will tell you if RDP can recognize the machine name. Under the hood, both RDP and NSlookup rely on access to local DNS records to resolve the name into an IP address (see lead-in graphic). When the command line works, RDP should also be able to rely on the same underlying service — namely, DNS — to do its thing as well.

Of course, this raises the question as to why my local DNS server — which runs on the boundary device from Spectrum that sits between my LAN and the cable Internet connection — sometimes fails to resolve valid machine names. Feature upgrades can cancel existing IP address leases, and require the DNS cache to be rebuilt. And apparently, recent lightning storms can also mess with that device’s DNS cache when the power fails. So, I’m learning to flush and rebuild that cache as part of local device hygiene.

At least I now know what’s going on and why I must sometimes switch from machine names to IP addresses to access certain devices. Good thing it’s easy to log into and handle the reset over the LAN. It’s always something, right?

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Recent 25145 Dev Channel Hijinks

The last two Dev Channel builds are 25145 and 25140. For both of them, my Start Menu has been munged when first accessing the desktop. On 25140, a restart set things back to rights. On 25145, I launched File Explorer, then restarted the process in Task Manager. That worked, too. So while recent 25145 Dev Channel hijinks have been irksome, they’ve been by no means insurmountable.

Limits to Recent 25145 Dev Channel Hijinks

Interestingly, this phenom occurs only my Lenovo X12 Hybrid Tablet. It does not pop up on the Lenovo X380 laptop. I don’t see any interesting errors in Reliability Monitor on the X12 that could point to possible causes. Once again, I find myself wondering if it might be related to 8GadgetPack, which has wonked around for a while lately  in the wake of new Dev Channel builds.

Recent 25145 Dev Channel Hijinks.relimon

This time Relimon doesn’t have much useful to say (the SearchHost item is a known gotcha, unrelated to my issue).

Frankly, it’s hard to pinpoint the cause of this trouble without more data to go on. But now that I know how to work around it without a restart, I’ll keep plugging away as new Dev Channel builds keep coming. Either the problem will get fixed in the background, or I’ll get enough data to identify — and hopefully deal with — the actual cause.

FWIW, I’ve sent feedback to the hub about this. It’s entitled “Build 25145 start menu nonresponsive on first boot.” Please upvote if you encounter the same thing on one of your Dev Channel PCs or VMs. Cheers!

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Windows Insider Page Gets New Look

Upon visiting the Windows Insider info page in Settings → Windows Update → Windows Insider Program, I just noticed some interesting changes. That’s right: there, the Windows Insider Page gets new look. You can see what’s up in the lead-in graphic. First, there’s a link to “Latest build notes” (very handy). Second, information labels the insider account in use (I blanked it out on the screenshot). Third, there’s clear status info available. In this case it reads “You’re on the latest build for your device.” Good-oh!

Why Is Windows Insider Page Gets New Look Nice?

Upon checking Dev Channel Build 25140, I see the exact same look and feel there also. Going back to the Release Preview on Windows 10, however, shows the old look and feel is unchanged there.

Windows Insider Page Gets New Look.win10

Windows 10 Release Preview Insider Stuff remains unchanged.

In general, I prefer the new “dress” for the Windows Insider stuff in Windows Update in Windows 11. The info is more readily accessible, more compact, and more usable. I especially like one-click access to the release notes for the latest build. Checking those notes, I don’t see any info about changes to the Windows Update and Windows Insider program pages in Settings.  Kind of makes me wonder how long this has been going on without my noticing.

Sigh. That’s the way things go in Windows-World — for me, sometimes, at least. Good changes can happen, but they don’t really hit home until they’re noticed. Hopefully, this notice, however late, remains welcome to you, dear readers. Sigh again…

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DISM Component Store Cleanup

This morning, I recalled the value of occasional “check-and-clean” operations on the Windows Component Store (aka WinSxS). Check the “Before and After” screencap at the top of this story. It shows that applying updates can leave old components behind. Checking the component store tells you what’s up. Performing a DISM component store cleanup recovers wasted space. To wit: 1.72 GB in reported size, and 1.47 GB in actual size.

How to run DISM Component Store Cleanup

What you see in the before (left) and after (right) image is syntax to check the Windows Component Store. Run it in an admin cmd or PowerShell session, like so:

DISM /online /cleanup-image /analyzecomponentstore

Two notes. One, the output from the before (left) tells you how many reclaimable packages are found (2, in this instance). Two, it tells you whether or not component store cleanup is recommended (yes, this time around). Running the check and report syntax shown above takes 1-2 minutes on most Windows 10 and 11 PCs.

Performing the Actual Cleanup

As with the check and report DISM command, the cleanup command must also run in an administrative cmd or PowerShell session. That syntax is slightly different:
DISM /online /cleanup-image /startcomponentcleanup
Depending on how many reclaimable packages are found, and how big they are, cleanup can take upwards of 5 minutes on most Windows 10 or 11 PCs. That wait goes up, as the number (and total) size of packages increases. Be patient! I’ve only had this fail a handful of times over the years I’ve been using this tool (and many of those failures were self-inflicted because of prior use of /resetbase, which locks existing packages into place in the Component Store).

Nevertheless, this is an excellent and recommended Windows cleanup technique, which I try to run after each month’s Cumulative Update (CU) is installed. The check and report command doesn’t always find something to cleanup, but when it does, I follow up with the /startcomponentcleanup to trim down the Component Store footprint. It’s a great technique for regular Windows image management, in fact.

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MS 365 Brings New Defender Aboard

OK, then. Now I finally understand what’s up with the Store-based version of Windows Defender. It’s been “out there” for while now for Insiders. Called “Microsoft Defender for individuals,” it’s available to anyone with an active Microsoft 365 subscription. (Either Personal or Family subscriptions qualify.) That’s why I say “MS 365 brings new Defender aboard” in today’s title. The lead-in graphic shows the dashboard (in part) from my production Windows 10 desktop. Both “other devices” run Windows 11.

When MS 365 Brings New Defender Aboard, Then What?

According to MSPowerUser.com the tool is built on Microsoft Defender Endpoint technology. Thus, it brings the same cloud-based security to end users already available to Enterprise customers. A June 16 Microsoft Security blog post confirms this assertion. It describes this new Defender version as “an exciting step in our journey to bring security to all.” The tool works on Windows, iOS, Android, and macOS devices to provide family-wide protection across whole households.

MS explains Microsoft Defender for individuals as enabling the following capabilities (also including “continuous antivirus and anti-phishing protection for your data and devices”):

  • Manage your security protections and view security protections for everyone in your family, from a single easy-to-use, centralized dashboard.
  • View your existing antivirus protection (such as Norton or McAfee). Defender recognizes these protections within the dashboard.
  • Extend Windows device protections to iOS, Android, and macOS devices for cross-platform malware protection on the devices you and your family use the most.
  • Receive instant security alerts, resolution strategies, and expert tips to help keep your data and devices secure.

I’m giving it a try on my production PC which still runs Norton 360, along with a couple of my Defender-only test machines running Windows 11. Should be interesting to see how it all turns out! If you’d like to check it out for yourself and your devices (and your family’s, if applicable) visit the Microsoft 365 Defender page for a download link.

 

 

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WingetUI Offers Useful Update Capability

Lately, I’ve been using the Winget PowerShell applet to assist with updating my Windows 10 and 11 PCs. Thanks to Martin Brinkmann at Ghacks, I’ve found a GUI front end for that tool. Indeed, the aptly-named WingetUI offers useful update capability.

Winget.UI does other things, too. It let you explore all 3460 packages under its purview (“Discover Software” tab). It also shows a complete list of all packages already installed on your PC (“Installed applications”). On first blush, Winget.UI looks like a good tool. Its GitHub page provides the lead-in graphic for this story.

Winget.UI Offers Useful Update Capability.updates

“Available updates” quickly identifies and provides ready access to item-by-item update launch. [Click image for full-size view.]

What WingetUI Offers Useful Update Capability Means

To update an item from the Software Updates tab in Winget.UI (shown above), simply double-click its corresponding Winget entry under the “Installation source” heading. Personally, I find this prefereable to the winget upgrade --all command. Why? Because it provides item-by-item control. That lets me skip elements (such as MS Teams), which experience has taught me isn’t really amenable to winget updates.

The double-clicking takes a little getting used to, but by and large the update function works well. It worked well for third-party packages, including Kindle, Python 2, and Revo Uninstaller. It hit errors on some built-in MS components, such as the WADK and Edge Runtime. Based on prior history, I didn’t even try the Teams components.

Good, But Not Perfect

I’ll need to spend more time with WingetUI to fully understand and appreciate its foibles and strengths. For now, it’s much like other update tools I use: good — indeed, pretty helpful — but by no means either great or perfect. Perhaps that’s just the way that update tools work here in Windows World!

[Note: Nochmals Danke schoen to Mr. Brinkmann for an interesting find.]

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No Tabbed Explorer Folders Here

Earlier this week, MS announced gradual release of tabbed folders in Windows 11 for both Beta and Dev Channels. That is, for Builds 22621.160 (Beta) and 25136 (Dev). However, as is so often my experience with such things — gradual releases — none of my three test machines will show me this exciting “new” feature. Thus, no tabbed Explorer folders here at Chez Tittel. Sigh. Thus, I grabbed the illustration from WindowsUpdate to show what this looks like.

Why No Tabbed Explorer Folders Here?

I wish I knew the answer to this question. It’s happened to me so many times I can’t say I’m surprised to be somewhere behind the leading edge. But I can say: I’m curious to try them out myself; I’m frustrated to be on the outside looking in; and I’m on the “honor system” NOT to use ViveTool to force it onto a test system to take it for a test drive. So sigh, and sigh again.

Of course, sooner or later this will show up on one or more of my systems. Later rather than sooner,  in fact, if prior experience is any guide. In the meantime I’ll just continue my practice of launching multiple File Explorer windows instead of switching among tabs in a single such window. I know I can live with that option, because that’s how I’ve been doing things for years.

How Long Will It Take to Show Up?

Again, I wish I could say. It all depends on how well the feature works and how much telemetry it generates that indicates potential issues in need of remediation. That’s why MS does the whole gradual release thing, anyway.

My only fervent wish is that MS might allow an opt-in for such features, especially for active Windows Insiders. That would be nice, don’t you think? I do!

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Box App Update Secret Revealed

In many ways, Windows remains a “learn as you go” kind of thing. So it was upon returning home to update my PCs. The team I worked with used the Box Drive app to exchange big files. Thus, I found myself asking “How does one update Box Drive?” It took a bit of digging, but here is the Box App update secret revealed.

Getting to Box App Update Secret Revealed

It’s an app, so my first update thought was to go to the Windows Store, where such things normally get handled. No go. Next, I tried the winget command in Powershell. Nothing doing. And my typical auto-update tools — namely PatchMyPC and SUMo — didn’t help, either. Obviously, there had to be another way…

When I went poking around for help online, I couldn’t seem to find much insight there at first. Then I found a Box Support article with the essentials of this operation:

1. Find the Box Drive entry in the notification icons (click the up-caret if it’s not already showing on the toolbar).

2. Click that entry, then click the Settings (gear) icon at lower left.

3. If an update is pending, an update option appears in the resulting pop-up menu. Once up-to-date, though, the item no longer appears.

And that’s really all there is to it. Like much else about Windows, it’s dead easy if you know how to do it. Otherwise, it’s a bit of a runaround figuring things out.

Why Not Stick to Standard Methods?

Good question! Given that Box Drive is a Windows app, why did its maker decide not to use the Windows Store to deliver updates? I can’t say, except to observe that Box Drive is concerned with security and file protection, as well as offering file exchange services. My best guess is they opted for explicit control to help maintain security, rather than relying on less visible background updates through the store.

Again: it’s pretty easy to accomplish, once you understand how it works. And thus, I’ve got another item to add to my usual update drills.

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Windows Docking Rules Legal Computing

OK, then. I just spent the last week in Waco, at the courthouse for the US Western District of Texas. A few blocks away, the law firms I worked with rented office space at Legal Lawfts on 4th street. In both locations I noticed (and used) a key technology for computing. When I say “Windows docking rules legal computing” I mean that 90-plus percent of the PCs in use ran Windows (10 mostly). And even the lone Macintosh I saw also used a dock for extended functionality.

What Windows Docking Rules Legal Computing Means

When lawyers, witnesses and support staff go to trial, that’s essentially an “away team” exercise. But nowadays when they rent office space, desks come with one or two monitors, external keyboard and mouse, and — you guessed it — a USB-C/Thunderbolt dock of some kind. Thus, I too was able to benefit from a 27″ monitor along with a decent Logitech keyboard and wired mouse, while keeping on working on my trusty and powerful Lenovo X1 Extreme laptop. It rocked!

I also noticed in the courtroom that the “mobile clerk” — that is, the person who is in and out of the courtroom on the judge’s orders — also used a docking station. When he left he would disconnect a single USB-C/Thunderbolt cable and take his laptop with him. Upon his return to his desk, one plug reconnected and he had access to two 27″ screens, plus his own external keyboard and mouse. Good stuff.

Productivity Benefits Power Through

At the offices, we all mostly used cheapo, unpowered hubs with a single HDMI/DP port for video, two USB-C ports, and two or three USB3 Type A ports. That’s where the wired Logitech keyboard and mouse already consumed two of the latter. I actually had to plug the HDMI cable into my laptop because the underpowered hub in the office didn’t work with my X1 Extreme. I did see others using them for video without issues, so something odd was up with my rig.

Thing is: it all worked. We were all much more productive with 2 (and in some cases, 3) screens at work with our laptops. And even on a conventional bar-shaped keyboard (not ergonomic as I use at home) I’m still a lot more productive typing on same rather than the more condensed and taller layout on my laptop’s keyboard deck.

I also have to hand it to my office-mate Jeff, an appellate specialist from Austin.He came prepared with his own, externally powered high-end USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 dock, plus wireless ergonomic keyboard and mouse combo. Heck, he even brought a seat cushion for the comfortable Herman Miller Aeron chairs with which the desks were also endowed. Good stuff, and a valuable learning experience.

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