Category Archives: Cool Tools

Checking Windows DotNET Versions Installed

A recent Windows news story reports that “KB5012643 for Windows 11 breaks .NET Framework 3.5 apps” (WindowsReport). This raises some interesting questions for Windows 11 users. For some, it apparently renders certain apps inoperable. Indeed, the bug highlights the value of checking Windows DotNET versions installed on a given PC.

So I did a little research, and learned there are at least two methods to run this info down. In fact, MS offers a multi-page Docs item that explains how to do it using PowerShell. Belgian-based software developer (and former MVP) Nick Asseloos’ ASoft company goes another way. It offers a free download named .NET Version Detector. Its output provides the lead-in graphic for this story.

What Checking Windows DotNET Versions Installed Tells You

As you can see by examining the lead-in graphic. the detector provides information of several kinds, conveniently listed in order from top to bottom by row:

Row1: Versions of the MIcrosoft .NET Framework Installed. In my example, it shows older versions to the left (2.0, 3.0, and 3.5, with SP levels),and current versions to the right (4.8, with latest update level).

Row2: Extra Details show the folder locations for the various frameworks installed. It also shows names and levels for frameworks installed as well (mostly relevant to 4.x versions), plus languages and updates (mostly a bunch of KB article identifiers).

Row3: .NET Core versions installed for 64-bit (left) and 32-bit (right) enviornments. Given my machines all run Windows 10 or 11, 32-bit is mostly MIA.

How ‘Bout Going the Other Way ‘Round?

OK, we know now how to determine what .NET versions are installed on a Windows PC. What about figuring out which applications use some specific .NET framework? That’s a bit trickier. The only sure-fire method I could find was to fire up SysInternals Process Explorer. There’s a tab named “.NET Assemblies” that shows up whenever a process that includes same gets highlighted.

This means you can find out which .NET versions are in use primarily by observation and inspection. Stack Overflow has an article that explains how to automate this process for managed processes using C# or PowerShell. I’ll leave that as an “exercise for the reader” for those inclined to work out to that extent!

[Note: this story gives a shout out to the redoubtable Martin Brinkmann at Ghacks, whose 2014 story (updated 2018) introduced me to ASoft .NET Version Detector. Nochmals vielen Dank! (Thanks very much again!)]

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Sold-out CalDigit TS4 Offers Amazing Power

I’m a big fan of Thunderbolt docks, especially for high end laptops. These days, Thunderbolt 4 stuff can be especially hard to buy. I was “wildly excited” to learn about CalDigit’s new 18-port 98W charge capable TS4 dock. I was also unsurprized to learn it was out of stock. Indeed, the sold-out CalDigit TS4 offers amazing power and capability (view next graphic full-size for complete front and back view of ports). That said, its most outstanding attribute at present is to frustrate my ability to say “Shut up, and take my money!”

Sold-out CalDigit TS4 Offers Amazing Power
Sold-out CalDigit TS4 Offers Amazing Ports and Power (click image for full-sized view; use Back button to return to story)

If Sold-out CalDigit TS4 Offers Amazing Power, When Can I Get One?

According to CalDigit’s latest “Update on availability,” more TS4s will come off the line in mid-May. Assuming the second batch is as popular as the first, it’ll sell out in days, if not hours. I may still try to buy one anyway. But I’m not expecting to score on the upcoming round either.

Why not? Because there aren’t that many good Thunderbolt 4 docks on the market right now. And because the TS4 is sufficiently compelling to elicit the famous “Shut up and…” response I uttered earlier.

Sigh. On the plus side, it’s fun to get excited about computing gear for good reason. On the minus side, it’s sad to understand that demand will continue to outstrip supply for some time to come.

Waiting for the Perfect, or Buying What’s for Sale?

OTOH, I could always succumb to the almost as nice, but less capacious and powerful Caldigit Thunderbolt 4 Element hub. There are other alternatives available, too. See this WindowsCentral story for a nice survey of what’s on the market in this space right now.

I’m torn, but will probably keep trying to score a TS4 through the next round. After that, I’ll either post a review, or reconsider a change of plan. Stay tuned!

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Printer IPv4 Address Produces Reports

Here’s something I just learned that I should’ve known years ago. Turns out that if you type in a specially formatted version of any printer’s IP address into a web browser, you’ll go straight into a report interface. To be more specific, the Printer IPv4 address produces reports on the resulting web page. Let me explain…

How Printer IPv4 Address Produces Reports

Of course, three things are essential for this technique to work. They don’t pose a big hurdle, though, as you can see here:

Thing1: The printer must be network-attached and have an assigned IP address (that’s how most printers work nowadays, though many home users still use USB-attached devices).
Thing2: You must know the printer’s IP address (I explain two handy ways to get that info in a following section).
Thing3: You must format the URL for the printer as follows:
http://xx.xx.xx.xx, e.g. http://192.168.1.44
Secure HTTP (which puts https:// at the head of the URL string) does NOT work, as I confirmed by experiment.

When I tried this technique for both printers on the LAN here at Chez Tittel, it worked in Edge, Chrome and Firefox. One is a Dell color laser 2155cn MFP; the other is a Samsung monochrome laser ML-2850. I can’t say from sure knowledge that it works in ALL browsers and all printers, but I can assert it works in all the browsers and printers I use.

Under the hood, there’s a reporting API for network-attached printers. It produces report data as HTML formatted output when this kind of connection gets made. Works nicely, so it’s good enough for me!

Finding Printer IP Addresses

I can describe two ways to get this info, though those with their own IP scanning tools can use them instead. The first way is to open Devices and Printers, right click the printer of interest, then select the Printer Properties item from the pop-up menu. Select the Ports tab, then find the currently selected port in use (hint: it’s the only one whose left-hand checkbox is checked). Highlight that port, then click the “Configure Port…” button. You’ll see something like this:

Note that the IP address appears in the second field from the top (Printer name or IP address). Works every time!

I am also fond of Nirsoft’s NetBScanner utility. If you scan your local LAN segment it will report and describe all IP addresses it finds in use. For me, it’s a little faster and easier than the foregoing tactic, so it’s the one I use most often myself. Other scanners will do the same for you, so if you’re already familiar with another one, use it with my blessing.

Always nice to learn something new. Even better is to learn something new and useful. Here ’tis!

[Note added early afternoon: Thanks to ElevenForum member and fellow WIMVP @stormy13 whose off-hand remark in this thread pointed me into this topic.]

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Windows 11 Clean Install Overlooks Certain Drivers

OK, then: here’s a “new-ish” behavior in Windows 11 that I don’t love. Once upon a time, you could use the update function in Device Manager to search the Internet for device drivers. No longer: if a driver is absent, the “Update driver” function can’t find anything to use. That explains why Windows 11 clean install overlooks certain drivers. If they’re not in the driver store built into the ISO image, they’re simply unavailable.

If Windows 11 Clean Install Overlooks Certain Drivers, Then What?

Take my recently clean installed Lenovo ThinkPad X380 Yoga. I happened to notice a half-dozen items under “Other Devices” in Device Manager yesterday. “Hmmm” I thought to myself. “Looks like the installer didn’t find some drivers while bringing the machine up.” Too true, as it turns out!

Fortunately, none of what was missing was essential to the laptop’s operation. Thus, that meant identifying the missing drivers, then finding and installing them. At first look, I saw 7 such devices. A quick hop to the Lenovo Vantage app (the company’s maintenance-update platform, which generally works OK or better) took care of three of them.

On a whim, I looked up LifeWire‘s story on the best free driver updaters (Tim Fisher updated it on April 4, 2022). It gives Driver Booster 9 Free the best rating (but the free version only updates 15 drivers, then requires users to pay ~US$23 to get a paid-up, for-a-fee version). It found 24 (!) drivers in need of update, so I concentrated on updating those that showed up with a “Driver Missing” label in that program’s output. Once identified, I knew I could handle the others on my own.

Back in  the High Life Again . . .

Indeed, the free version of the program did the trick for me. You can see in the lead-in graphic from Driver Store Explorer (aka RAPR.exe) that I was able to update 7 drivers (they show outdated versions). Add in another 7 new drivers added to go from “missing” to “found” and my system is now fully up-to-date, with no remaining “Other” device entries. No Device Manager items with the yellow exclamation point, either.

The gurus at TenForums and ElevenForum generally recommend against driver scan/update tools. I generally concur. But this was a big enough kerfluffle that I was grateful for some automated search-and-update help.

I guess that means I’m willing to make an exception when the “don’t check the Internet for available drives” behavior in Windows 11 prevents the installer from providing a full slate of items. I understand why MS did this (to prevent driver changes from adversely affecting naive users). But as I said in my lead ‘graph: I’m not in love with this design decision and its impact on clean install completeness.

That’s life, here in Windows-World. I can live with it, and fix it myself, when I must. So that’s what I did. And now the clean install machine is nearly production-ready. Just a few more apps and applications to go!

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Ventoy 1.0.73 Requires Interesting Contortions

When I saw a new version of Ventoy came out this morning, I immediately went to update my drive with the new software. It runs on an AData 256 GB (nominal) M.2 SSD inside a Sabrent NVMe enclosure. For some odd reason, the update function did not work properly. Digging into the log, I see the program had trouble writing the new EFI files to the Vtoyefi partition where the program does its boot magic. Indeed, installing Ventoy 1.0.73 requires interesting contortions for me to achieve success. I’ll explain…

What Ventoy 1.0.73 Requires Interesting Contortions Means

First, I backed up the contents of the Ventoy drive, which shows up as E: on my production desktop. Then I tried to use the Install function in the program to over-write the existing disk structures. No go. I switched over to a newer PC, where I was able to cable up using a high-speed USB-C cable into the Sabrent enclosure. Then, I performed a clean install of Ventoy 1.0.73 on the target drive. That worked!

Of course, then I had to go back to my production PC to restore the backup. The whole process ended up taking about half an hour to complete, of which time the bulk went to creating and then restoring a backup of the 28 ISOs in the Ventoy (E:) partition.

Speculation Reigns Supreme

I must confess I don’t know why the update function failed this time around. I’ve not seen this happen before with Ventoy. That said, I’m not surprised that a vintage-2016 PC with USB 3.1 drivers might have trouble with a device that works with USB 3.2 (and Thunderbolt 3) drivers. And indeed, when I hooked up to a device that supported those newer drivers, everything worked as expected.

That’s why I’m thinking something went weird with the USB drivers when the program attempted to rewrite the 32 MB FAT based EFI partition from which Ventoy works its magic. That’s the part that wouldn’t update on the older PC, but which installed flawlessly on the newer PC. If somebody else has a better explanation, please share. But when the next Ventoy update comes out, I’m going to run it from the newer PC. I’ll bet it runs faster that way, too, thanks to those newer — and faster — USB 3.2/Thunderbolt 3 drivers it uses.

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Modern Winver Updates Its Namesake

The old saying goes: “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” True that. And likewise true that Winver.exe still does what it always has. But there’s an enhanced version of this program now available from the Microsoft Store. That app, Modern Winver updates its namesake in numerous cool and interesting ways. The lead-in graphic shows the two programs side by side (classic left, modern right). But it only hints at all the things that the modern version does that its classic counterpart cannot.

What Is Modern Winver? Who’s Behind It?

Modern Winver is third-party software.  It comes from a GitHub project run by one torch (aka torchgm). It describes itself as a “modern and more functional replacement for the About Windows screen, providing details on Windows and your PC.”

Actually, I think the description is off a little, and the name of the program is actually more informative. As the lead-in graphic shows, it looks and acts like Winver, but provides more information than the classic version of the  program. Specifics follow under the next head.

How Modern Winver Updates Its Namesake

I’ll organize its difference by the four tabs shown just beneath the OS heading in the right-hand pane above — namely, About, System, Theme and Links:

1. About: Shows Windows edition (Home, Pro, etc.) as well as OS version, install date/time and build number. Shows machine name as well as logged-in account name.

2. System: Shows CPU name and type, base CPU speed, device architecture (x86, X64, ARM), plus levels and usage for CPU, primary storage and RAM.

3. Theme: Provides access desktop theme, wallpaper and lockscreen. Enables inclusion of About info on wallpaper and lock screen, if desired.

4. Links: Provides acess to Settings, System Properties, Tips and MS Support, plus links to the underlying Discord and GitHub scaffolding for this program’s development

Bottom Line: Classic Winver Plus

The simplest explanation of the difference is that Modern Winver does everything its namesake does, and a fair amount more. IMO, it looks better and is more fun to use. If you’re of the “like to play with new software and toys” persuasion, you’ll probably like it. If you’re of the “if Windows does it already, why do I need a third-party equivalent?” school, don’t bother. As for me, I’m having fun playing with and learning more about this new toy. Cheers!

Shout-out Added ½ Day Later

Thanks to the members at ElevenForum.com, who alerted me to Modern Winver, particularly @Graulges and @Berton. Thanks, people! I like to give credit where it’s due.

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