Category Archives: Cool Tools

CNF Conundrum Gets Some Love

OK, then. I’ve been trying to figure out why, on some of my test PCs, I get an error message when PowerShell loads my profile and tries to import the PowerToys WingetCommandNotFound (CNF) module. You can see that error message in the lead-in graphic above (from my ThinkPad P16 Mobile workstation). Thanks to some fiddling around, this CNF conundrum gets some love — finally!

I haven’t figured out how to fix the problem properly just yet. But for the nonce, if I go into PowerToys, visit CNF, uninstall and then resinstall same, it returns to work. This happens every time I open a fresh PowerShell session, so it’s at least mildly bothersome. But I’m starting to make progress on figuring things out.

How CNF Conundrum Gets Some Love

The error message keeps changing on me as I add things to the folder where the profile resides — namely %user%\documents\PowerShell. First, it complains about not being able  to find the module itself. I copy it into that folder. Then it complains about a .DLL. I copy that, too. Finally, it complains about an error handler not being able to field a thrown exception.

It’s not fixed yet, but I now know that this issue comes from my PowerShell modules path set-up. Something is wonky between those search paths (there’s one for the system, and one for my login account) and PowerToys. This happens for one of my Microsoft Accounts (MSAs)  every time I use it to log into Windows, because this information is shared across those instances through OneDrive.

What’s Next?

I’ve got to research how I should be setting things up in the OneDrive environment to get PowerShell and PowerToys to get along with each other properly. I’ll be contacting the WinGet crew (Demitrius Nelon’s team at MS) to request additional info and guidance. That’s because my online searches have only clued me into what’s going on, but not how to fix it properly.

Stay tuned: I’ll keep this one up-to-date. And I’ll probably post again, when a resolution is formulated. This just in: OneDrive is reporting multiple copies of the PS profile in its file store. Could this be related? I have to think so. Again: stay tuned…

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Repair Install Fixes Instability

At the beginning of this month, I performed an in-place upgrade repair install on my Windows 10 production PC. It’s now running Build 19045.4046. You can see that this repair install fixes instability on the PC in the lead-in graphic. Over the past 20 days I’ve had only one critical event — mostly self-inflicted when testing winget Chrome update behavior (see last Friday’s post for details). Otherwise, this 2016-vintage system has been rock solid of late.

When in Doubt, Repair Install Fixes Instability

Gosh! I’ve long been a believer that an in-place upgrade repair install (IPURI) is something of a Windows cure-all. Reminder: an IPURI runs setup.exe from a mounted ISO for the same version of Windows that’s currently running on a PC. Thus, it requires the host OS to be running well enough to replace itself. See these terrrific TenForums.com and ElevenForum.com tutorials for all the details…

Thus, you can’t use this technique if you’re having boot problems, or the OS isn’t running well enough to get through  the GUI phase of a Windows upgrade. But for situations where the OS is running (but most likely, not as well as you might like) this technique works extremely well. My earlier Reliability Monitor trace, before the February 1 IPURI, looked something like a sawtooth wave on an oscilloscope. Ouch!

How to Get the Right ISO

I still use UUPDump.net to match build numbers between what’s running and the ISO I have it build for me. Then, I mount that ISO, and run setup.exe from the virtual DVD drive ID Explorer puts out there for me. Lately it’s been showing up as the E: drive; but this morning it comes up as P:. But you’ll most likely see it labeled with the initial characters of the image label like this:Repair Install Fixes Instability.recent-iso

Here’s what Explorer shows me when I mount the ISO I used on February 1 for an IPURI: Virtual DVD Drive P:

For the record, I also use the excellent Ventoy project software to boot into my various ISOs when an IPURI won’t do. Admins and power users will want to keep a USB handy with their fave ISOs for repair and recovery scenarios. I do that on a 1 TB NVMe SSD inside a USB3.2 drive enclosure. Lets me keep dozens of ISOs around, ready to boot into any of them on a moment’s notice. Good stuff!

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Winget Browser Updates May Be Curious

As far as I can tell, I’ve been blogging here about the Windows Package Manager — Winget, that is — since May 2022. Indeed it’s received regular mention ever since (nearly a third of all posts). I finally observed the other day that winget won’t update a browser with any of its processes running on the target PC. Also the browsers I use (Chrome, Firefox, Edge) still make you “Relaunch” to complete any update. This includes instances when Winget updates them successfully. Hence my assertion: Winget browser updates may be curious. And I mean both in terms of effect and outcome.

If Winget Browser Updates May Be Curious, Then?

It doesn’t stop me from trying, but the update doesn’t happen at all when any related process is running. Thus, for example, if any chrome.exe items show up in Task Manager>Details view, winget breezes past the update package and does nothing. Ditto for Firefox and Edge. But it’s a good flag for me to jump into each one’s Help>About facililty which is usually more than happy to update from insider the browser itself. And again, to request a “Relaunch” when that process comes to its conclusion.

It’s all part of the learning process in working with winget to keep Windows up-to-date. Sometimes — indeed nearly all the time — winget handles update packages quite nicely on its own. At other times (less often) winget acts as a sentinel to warn me that an update is available, which I then must figure out how to install.

Here’s a short list of such programs above and beyond the browsers already mentioned: Kindle for Windows, Discord, certain EA game executables, Teams Classic, Windows Terminal (now fixed), and even Winget itself from time to time. But gosh, it’s always fun to see what’s out there and what happens when winget wrangles update packages. It’s made my life ever so much more interesting (and updates easier) since it emerged in 2022.

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Build 26058 Explorer Brings Button Labels Back

It’s a small change but a helpful one. In Canary Channel  Build 26058 Explorer brings button labels back. That is, instead of simply showing labels and forcing you to do one of these:

  • Remember what they are and what they do
  • Mouse over the label icon and read the text tip
  • Pick one and hope for the best

Explorer once again shows text to accompany the icons so users know what they’re doing. These show up at middle in the lead-in graphic, with icon buttons above and text below. To wit: Scissors button/Cut, overlaid pages/Copy, Text “A”/Rename, Block with pointer/Share, and Trashcan/Delete. Good stuff!

You can see what the old way looks like in the production Windows version (Build 22631) below where the icons appear at the bottom of the Explorer right-click context menu for files inside a folder. Much less intelligible, IMO.

Build 26058 Explorer Brings Button Labels Back.notext

Notice the line of icons at the bottom of the content menu. Mouseover will show tip text.

Rejoice When Build 26058 Explorer Brings Button Labels Back

It’s not a huge change to see text show up with a button, unprompted. But it is a comforting usability improvement. I’d always wondered why MS adopted this ultra-compact approach. But given the presence of tip text on mouseover, I’d always been able to suss things out if I wasn’t 100% what was what.

This latest improvement saves the time and effort involved in mousing over. I definitely appreciate it. On the one hand: thanks! On the other: Why’d it take so long?

And if those aren’t among the major dueling dualities here in Windows-World, I haven’t been paying attention for the past 30-plus years. Yeah, right…

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Microsoft PC Manager Makes Store Debut

They used to call it Microsoft PC Manager (Beta). Now, not only is the beta designation gone, Microsoft PC Manager Makes Store debut. And when you install it from the download, the program flashes this screen to confirm that change of status:

What do YOU think? Official it is!

Easy Pickings As Microsoft PC Manager Makes Store Debut

I’ve written a couple of prior stories about the Beta version so I’m fairly familiar with this program:

I can say this much right away: with its release into the MS Store, installing MSPCM (as I like to abbreviate Microsoft PC Manager) has become a LOT easier. If you didn’t realize how the download button worked in the beta version you could easily be fooled into thinking installation didn’t work. Happened to me, anyway. And of course, installing via the Store means you can skip all the steps I depict in the afore-linked TekkiGurus story (as well as the ones I just skip over).

OK, Then: What’s Changed?

Other than dropping the (Beta) from the end of its name and popping up in the Store, I haven’t found that much different about the program just yet. Looks like I need to spend more time noodling around. Good thing that’s one of my favorite ways to spend time with Windows.

On the plus side, MSPCM is losing a lot of its rough edges. It still shows some signs that non-native English speakers put the text together, but it’s getting better, e.g.:

PC Manager will automatically boost your PC when high usage of RAM or there are 1GB of temporary files

Cleanup your system and free up spaces.

Built-in a variety of Windows tools.

The first of these items comes from the UI itself, the latter two from the PC Manager web pages. Still a bit of Chinglish in there, but they’ve come a long way since I started playing with this tool last fall. Check it: search for Microsoft PC Manager at the Microsoft Store, or follow its Store Link. Cheers!

Note: here’s a shout-out to Abishek Misra at WindowsLatest, whose February 6 story clued me into this new step in MSPCM evolution.

 

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NirSoft BatteryInfoView Works Well

I admire the heck out of Israeli software developer Nir Sofer. He’s the person behind the powerhouse utility provider NirSoft.net, where you’ll find nearly 200 (177 at last count) great Windows utilities ready for download and use. I just got reminded about his nifty BatteryViewInfo took in a recent AskWoody newsletter. Indeed the free NirSoft BatteryInfoView works well, and provides lots of useful battery status and health information. See a typical display from my 2018 vintage Lenovo ThinkPad X380 Yoga in the lead-in graphic.

Why say: NirSoft BatteryInfoView Works Well?

As you can see from the screencap above, BatteryInfoView (BIV) tells you pretty much everything you need to know about any given PC (laptop, tablet, etc.) battery. The current capacity and battery health values tend to be of greatest interest.

And indeed, Lenovo offers a battery settings control, for which it claims that setting maximum capacity to around 80% will result in longer battery life. I believe that translates into better battery health over time. Here’s what the X380 shows under battery charging threshold in the Battery section for Lenovo Vantage:

NirSoft BatteryInfoView Works Well.batset

Note: Charge threshold is turned on. Charging starts at 75% and stops at 80%. [Click image for full-size view]

Notice further that in the lead-in graphic, battery health is 92.8%. On my Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme, which I obtained in 2021, I did not reset the battery threshold on that PC. Thus, even though it’s two years newer than the X380, its current battery health number is 89.3%. That’s about 4% less. To me, it shows that Lenovo’s recommendations to lower the stop and start values for charge levels really do have an impact on battery life. It’s not huge, but it’s not nothing, neither.

It also shows how a good tool can help admins and power users get the most from their technology investments.

Copilot Weighs in on Battery Health

Just for grins I asked Copilot “Working from NirSoft’s BatteryInfoView utility, at what level of “Battery Health” should one consider replacing the battery?” Copilot hemmed and hawed but ultimately said this:

In general, if the “Battery health” value is consistently below 80%, it may be a sign that the battery is deteriorating and may need to be replaced soon. However, this is not a hard and fast rule, and other factors such as the age of the battery, the usage patterns, and the operating conditions can also affect the battery life and performance. If you notice that your laptop’s battery is not holding a charge as long as it used to, or if you are experiencing other issues such as overheating, slow performance, or unexpected shutdowns, it may be a good idea to have the battery checked by a professional or replaced if necessary.

My original impression comes from translating a story from German into English for Tom’s Hardware back in the early 2000s. Even then, their research showed that a regime of reducing charge level was the best way to keep a laptop battery healthy in the long run. I wish I could find a link to that story (but I can’t) but they recommended dropping battery charge levels to 40% for long term storage, and recommended not charging batteries to over 80% if a PC remains plugged into AC power. Regular deep discharge cycles were also recommended. A 2023 Tom’s Hardware forum thread still cites the 80/40 rule, in fact. Sounds like the old rule is still cool.

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No Details Means Reset Reliability Monitor

Here’s an interesting one. Sometimes when I have to grope for a blog topic, I check Reliability Monitor on one or more of my Windows PCs. In an ironic twist, this itself produced my topic when the data in my Windows 10 production PC turned up missing in ReliMon (as I like to call it). In fact, a quick web search told me that no details means reset Reliability Monitor is a good fix. And there are numerous batch files to do that job. Ultimately, the one I used appears in the ElevenForum tutorial “View Reliability History in Windows 11.”

Why No Details Means Reset Reliability Monitor

Behind the scenes reliability monitor itself relies on scheduled tasks and a data collection service. These combine to sweep up all the data it tracks into an XML file at regular intervals. If any of those elements hang up or fail, data neither gets collected or stored. With no data to show, ReliMon can’t put on much display, either.

WindowsClub published a story entitled “How to Reset Reliability Monitor in Windows 10/11” in September 2023. It’s mentioned in the afore-cited ElevenForum tutorial in Post#11. As a usually reliable source for fixes and info, I gave the batch file a go. And indeed it cleared Reliability Monitor completely (see next image).

No Details Means Reset Reliability Monitor.blank

Nothing to see hear: the report history is completely cleared.”

By design, I must  wait 24 hours before reported data starts showing up. I’ll report back here if it works — or not. But in the meantime, please chuckle with me that in looking for something to blog about, the very tool I sometimes use to help me zero in on topics itself provided my topic for today.

And is that how things often go in Windows World? You bet!

Note Added Next Day (Feb 2)

And …. yes! …. ReliMon is back at work on the affected PC. Doesn’t have much to show for itself yet, but you can see events and data are being collected and reported.

Happy to show that ReliMon is again gathering and reporting errors, warnings, info events, and so on.
[Click image for full-size view]

The reset appears to have had the intended outcome: Reliabiity Monitor is back at work.

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Winget GPU-Z 2.57.0 Download Error

Here’s something I’ve not seen before, but immediately understood. Yesterday’s update check found a pending update for TechPowerUp’s nifty GPU-Z software. But it forced a Winget GPU-Z 2.57.0 download error upon attempted retrieval, as you can see at the bottom of the intro graphic.  I kind of like the error message “Download request status is not success.” Methinks the download link or path might be incorrect, what?

Hint: To actually *see* the bottom of the screencap, right-click the intro image and select the closest thing in your browser to “Display image in its own tab” (Firefox) or “Open image in new tab…” (Chrome or Edge) or whatever else you might find in your software of choice.

Overcoming Winget GPU-Z 2.57.0 Download Error

Although the error message is a bit convoluted, the associated HTML error code  — namely, 410 — is not. Here’s what Ahrefs.com has to say about this particular code number (bold emphasis mine):

The 410 Gone is an HTTP status code returned by the web server when the client (a browser or a web crawler) requests a resource that is no longer available at the requested address. It is one of the so-called “client errors,” meaning that the error is on the client side, not on the server.

Unlike the 404 Not Found response code that can be shown for non-existing or mistyped URLs, the 410 code indicates that the resource was in use but is no longer available and will not be available again at the requested address.

This would seem to indicate that TechPowerUp has moved or deleted the resource associated with the download link. I believe this is on them to fix, so the winget manifest can be appropriately updated. I have emailed the EIC to that effect.

A Dead Simple Workaround

When I visit the home page for GPU-Z, I can access its download link page, where I see what may be part of the problem. It points to 10 mirrors, from any one of which a download may occur (6 in USA, UK, NL, DE and SG [Singapower]). Probably, the developer who supplies manifests needs to pick one mirror and let winget use it exclusively — or write code to handle localization and pick a proximate mirror instead. Which do you think is more likely?

Winget GPU-Z 2.57.0 Download Error.mirrors

Count ’em: 10 (ten) mirrors!

Long story short: when I access any US mirror, I can download the 2.57.0 file without difficulty. Run that file (GPU-Z.2.57.0.exe) and it updates the program without problem. Solved!

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Beta Channel Gets In-Place Upgrade Repair

I’ve been waiting for this to show up for a while. Now it’s finally here. In build 23635.3130, Windows 11 Beta channel finally shows the “Fix problems using Windows Update” button. It appears in Settings → System → Recovery. You can see it in the intro screenshot above. I call this an “in-place upgrade repair” (sometimes, I add “install” to the end of that phrase) because it’s been a known technique for a decade and longer under that name. But when Beta Channel gets in-place upgrade repair, MS describes it as “Reinstall your current version of Windows” — a completely acceptable alternate label. Whatever you call it, it’s great to have it built right into the OS now.

As Beta Channel Gets In-Place Upgrade Repair, Use It!

The idea behind the in-place upgrade repair (install) is to replace all of the current — and suspect, or possibly damaged or deranged — OS files with known, good, working versions. This is a powerful Windows repair technique, and one of my go-tos when more focused troubleshooting tries and fails to fix things. This built-in version has the advantage of grabbing everything it needs from Windows Update and doesn’t require admins or power users to download and build an ISO, mount the image, and then proceed from there. It’s much more hands-off than that (but also more time consuming). No need to build custom ISOs at UUPDump.net, either.

Another Great Way to Fix Windows 11

As long as Windows is still running, this may be the best way to run the in-place upgrade repair install. But don’t pitch out your rescue media, boot drives, and especially not your backups. This tool can’t cover all contingencies. You’ll still need that other stuff when Windows won’t boot or run the setup.exe installer on which this maneuver depends. But even so, it’s a great addition to the Windows repair toolbox.

In fact, I can’t wait to try it out! Thus, I just fired it off on a test machine to see what happens. Here’s an approximate timeline rounded to the nearest 5 seconds:

00:20 Checking for updates
07:15  Downloading install files (“Downloading”)
32:45 Installing replacement OS (“Installing”)
02:20 Time from “Installing – 100%” to “Restart now” button
02:35  Time with “Updates are underway” prior to reboot
03:30  First reboot to second reboot (jumps to 54% after)
05:10  Second reboot to lock screen
02:15  Transition through “Welcome” to Desktop
Total time elapsed: 55:10

Trust me: this takes a LOT longer than mounting an ISO and running setup.exe to handle the repair install. OTOH, all I had to do was push a few buttons along the way. Just be prepared to give it some time.

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DiskGenius Poses Odd Winget Issues

OK, so here’s an interesting set of issues. The otherwise usable and worthwhile free version of DiskGenius poses odd Winget issues. ICYDK, DiskGenius is a disk partitioning toolbox that also does data recovery, backup and restore and disk management. The free version offers more limited capability than its paid-for counterpart. But it definitely has issues related to its package structure inside Winget. Let me explain…

Evidence: DiskGenius Poses Odd Winget Issues

Take a look at the lead-in graphic. It’s from a PowerShell tab inside Windows Terminal. It shows the results of a winget update scan. I made it just AFTER I had forcibly uninstalled DiskGenius using Revo Uninstaller Free, then used Winget to install it afresh:

Winget install eassos.DiskGenius

As you can see, winget upgrade –all –include-unknown still wants to update DiskGenius. It wants to update to the same version that’s already installed: 5.5.1. According to the application’s Help/About info, it’s actually version 5.5.1.1508 x64. This makes me think there is some kind of problem with the manifest where the local installed copy of DiskGenius reports a different version than is associated with the manifest even though they’re the same. My best guess, in fact, is that the .1508 x64 at the end is getting truncated or lost.

As you can see in the next screencap, DiskGenius clearly shows 5.5.1 as its version number from the winget show output. (I split the pane to block out a bunch of extraneous details from the release notes.)

DiskGenius Poses Odd Winget Issues.show

Winget Show DiskGenius shows version number, publisher, and so forth.{Click image for full-sized view.}

Because DiskGenius happily runs as a portable app without actual installation, I’ve decided to uninstall it and run it from a flash drive when I need it. That way I don’t have winget constantly nagging me for an update that I neither need nor want to read about. Problem solved.

The Other Issue…

Remember, I mentioned “odd Winget issues” (plural) in the headline? So yes, there’s something else. When I initially installed DiskGenius I chose a USB-attached NVMe drive as the target. These problems started popping up when I unplugged that drive from its original host PC and plugged it into another one for some testing. Winget still complained about the need for an update, but then failed on the update because — of course, of course — it couldn’t find what wasn’t there. Plus, we already know it woudn’t have changed the nag report anyway…

Turns out installing left sufficient traces in the registry and file system that winget could know DiskGenius was supposed to be present, but nowhere to be found. Even using the uninstall option in Settings → Apps → Installed apps didn’t get rid of all traces. I had to use Revo Uninstaller and remove all registry entries and remaining files (mostly shortcuts that pointed to the now-missing E: drive) to make this stop.

But eventually, I got it all cleaned up. And now, I’m just going to run it as a portable app from the USB-attached SSD enclosure where it now lives. And sigh loudly, because that really is the way things too often go here in Windows-World.

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