Category Archives: Insider stuff

USB4 Means Yoga Pro 9 Stays On

I have to apologize to the review team at Lenovo. I’d told them I’d be sending back their splendid Yoga Pro 9(i) last Friday. Then I got an assignment from AskWoody to write about external, USB-attached NVMe (and other SSD) storage devices. So of course I had to a buy a current-gen 40 Gbps USB4 drive enclosure. Also, its inbuilt USB4 means Yoga Pro 9 stays on here at Chez Tittel while testing is underway. Sorry, Jeff and Amanda: I need to keep this beast a bit longer…

Why USB4 Means Yoga Pro 9 Stays On

Short answer: it’s my only PC/laptop with USB4 capability. And I want to research and write about same. And on the Yoga Pro 9i the first thing I observe is that while it has two USB-C ports, only one of them supports 40 Gbps throughput (the other is USB-C 3.2 and tops out at half that). This makes a big difference in read/write speeds. Ditto for cables: for best results you need a cable marked 40 Gbps or Thunderbolt 4, too. The device info for the MAIWO 40Gbps enclosure shows what needs to appear for fastest I/O:

USB4 Means Yoga Pro 9 Stays On.Settings-USBdevinfo

The salient info is at the bottom: 40Gbps. It also detects a Gen3 NVMe SSD.

Over the next 10 days or so, I’ll be comparing enclosures, drives, and cables with related measurements. This should be interesting. But for now, let me observe that I paid US$70 for a 40Gbps NVMe enclosure yesterday. When I bought the previous generation (20Gbps) enclosures, the cheapest ones cost US$120 or thereabouts. It’s good that the technology is getting both faster and cheaper. I’m very interested to see how quickly Macrium Reflect can back up the Yoga Pro 9i with a fast SSD and this fast enclosure. Should be fun!

Top of the Heap? You tell me…

FWIW, Cale Hunt over at WindowsCentral just anointed the Lenovo Yoga 9i as the #1 best laptop for 2024. I’ve found it to be pretty stellar in my 5 weeks working with it so far. It’s been great at handling complex programs, lots of VMs, and both compute- and graphics-intensive workloads. Too bad it came out before Copilot + PC requirements were known. It’s close, but not quite at that level. Sigh.


WinGet Source Hiccup Self-Repair

I saw a new WinGet error message yesterday. In attempting a “blanket update” PowerShell showed a “Failed when opening source(s)…” error instead (see intro graphic above). That same error also suggested its own fix via WinGet source reset. I didn’t read carefully enough to see that the –force option was also required. But my next upgrade attempt succeeded anyway. There was apparently a WinGet Source hiccup self-repair at work. What happened?

OK, Why Did WinGet Source Hiccup Self-Repair?

I can only speculate that there was a transient communications glitch between my test PC and the URLs associated with the Microsoft Store and WinGet itself. To me, this dual drop most likely indicates an interruption of service at the ISP level. Both domains have vastly different IP addresses so it’s unlikely to have been something at their end. Hence my best guess that something affected the lookups from my end through my ISP,

It’s amusing that I discovered this hiccup simply by entering another command (albeit an incorrect one). Upon re-entering the original blanket update:

winget upgrade –all — include-unknown

Everything went through as expected on the second try. Through well-cultivated habits, in fact, my first impulse with Windows when things don’t work as expected is simply to try again and see what happens. In this fragile world of ours (including Windows-World) what doesn’t work at first often succeeds on a subsequent attempt.

Had it turned out otherwise, I’d be showing a different screencap, and telling a different story. This time, second try was the charm!


USB4 Gets MS Fixer

Just over a year ago (May 24, 2023) MS added support for USB4 to Windows 11. Curiously enough, multiple MS sources — such as MS Learn, for example — attribute this introduction to KB5026446. A quick check shows no mention of USB4 in that announcement. Be that as it may, MS has released a Support article entitled Fix USB-C problems in Windows. It explains how to troubleshoot the now-common “USB4 functionality may be limited” error message. Of course, you’d need a suitably-equipped PC to see that. This drives my title: USB4 gets MS fixer.

What USB Gets MS Fixer Actually Says…

I’ve been working with USB4 directly since Panasonic sent me a Toughbook just before Christmas in 2023. (See my January 3 2024 post HWiNFO Bestows USB4 Insight for my first hands-on peek.) Thus, what I see in the Fixer item linked earlier is mostly a distillation of common sense gotchas that meeting USB4 link-up requirements imposes:

  1. Gotta have the device (can’t get USB4 from something USB3 or older)
  2. Gotta have the right cable (can’t move at USB4 speeds over older cables: they must be rated TB3 or higher, USB4 or higher)
  3. Gotta have a USB4/TB4 port (strictly speaking, USB4 is a subset of TB4 so either will do — but nothing older handles USB4 devices at native speeds and capabilities)
  4. Gotta have the right drivers (while I’ve never seen a working USB4 port come up with the wrong ones, this is a given to make sure the device chain from port through cable to device will work).

What’s interesting about the MS Learn item is that it mentions a whole slew of error messages that you might see when trying to use a USB4 device — 11 in all, in fact. Worth reading the piece over if only to see how many of them you might have encountered before. FWIW, my personal count is 5 at this point.

The High Cost of USB4 Entry

When I started mucking about with USB4 last fall, I bought a couple of USB4/TB4 NVMe enclosures. These were limited to 20 Gbps aggregrate throughput, but still cost  from ~US$120 to $150  or so. Now, you can buy 40 Gbps USB4 enclosures for ~US$70 to $120. The surrounding specs and verbiage claims real-world throughputs from 25000 to 3000 Mbps. I’ll have to check that for myself, but I have seen speeds in that range in CrystalDiskMark for my 20 Gbps Acasis and Konyead units on some laptops (e.g. Lenovo ThinkPad P16 Mobile Workstation and Yoga P9i models).

It’s still pretty darned expensive to take advantage of USB4 for external storage access. But it’s pretty darned fast, and keeps getting faster. I’m hoping to write a more in-depth examination for AskWoody in the near future. Stay tuned!


Stellar OST Tool Worth Grabbing


Microsoft Outlook, in both its local and cloud forms, is an interesting beast. For those with Microsoft 365 or similar subscriptions, that goes double. For such instances, Outlook uses OST (Online Storage Table) files, which maintain fluid, shared snapshots of Outlook “stuff” (e.g. messages, events, contacts, and so forth). Such files live mostly in the cloud on an Exchange server. Outlook also uses Personal Storage Tables (stored in PST files locally on a PC) as well. But while Outlook allows users to export and import from other files,  OST files won’t support this activity: PST is your best bet.

Here’s what STELLAR OST CONVERTER looks like, once you complete the initial conversion step.

Why Is Stellar OST Tool Worth Grabbing?

Simply put: the STELLAR CONVERTER FOR OST provides a quick and easy way to convert OST to PST files (local to the PC) with just a few mouse clicks. Indeed it can even recover “orphaned” OST files — those no longer readily available inside Outlook itself — by scanning folders where OST items live. It then happily converts everything it finds to PST.

Stellar OST Tool Worth Grabbing.outlook-import-export

Outlook’s export/import capabilities embrace PST files, but NOT OST files.

As the preceding graphic shows, Outlook exports its contents to PST. A similar dialog for import shows those same options. OST, I’ll observe, is conspicuously absent. Thus, this tool provides a great way to create backup PST collections to match Outlook accounts and related file holdings. These can get quite large: mine is currently around 3GB in size (I’ve seen them as big as 14GB). Conversion takes awhile: about 15 minutes in all (7.5 to scan and enumerate, 7.5 to save) . That said, PST files are browsable repositories, and can restore entire Outlook data collections if necessary.

Exploring This Stellar Tool…

In graphic captioned “initial conversion step” above, you see the STELLAR CONVERTER FOR OST, showing the contents of the Consulting/AskWoody folder. As you can see, it captures all of my recent message traffic, and can show individual message contents in the reading pane at far right. The left-hand pane shows the folder hierarchy; the center pane shows message info. Note: deleted messages appear in red in their parent folders (as well as in Trash).

In fact, the STELLAR CONVERTER FOR OST offers several noteworthy additional capabilities:

  • Handles large OST files: It took about 15 minutes, but STELLAR CONVERTER FOR OST handled my huge collection of Outlook data. That included messages, contacts and calendar data . The time to scan is roughly equal to the time to save what’s been scanned.

By some quirk of fate, the subject of the current message pops up as STELLAR CONVERTER FOR OST save handles Outlook message store.

Once saved, the converted PST file weighs in at just under 3.0 GB (3,072MB).

  • Handles encrypted OST files: STELLAR CONVERTER FOR OST can read and decrypt encrypted OST files, and save them in PST format. When mailbox or server synchronization issues impede server-based decryption, STELLAR CONVERTER FOR OST delivers them in readable PST form.
  • Global purview for Outlook data files: STELLAR CONVERTER FOR OST finds and lists all OST files. That includes those from IMAP plus Exchange or Microsoft 365 message profiles. Users can easily select and scan OST files to extract specific items. STELLAR CONVERTER FOR OST also offers a powerful “Find” (search) function. It even shows orphaned messages in a Lost & Found folder, like this:

The Lost&Found folder in STELLAR CONVERTER FOR OST contains orphaned Outlook items — mostly Calendar stuff.

  • Complete OST coverage: SSTELLAR CONVERTER FOR OST extracts everything from OST files. Beyond email messages, it handles attachments, contacts, calendars, tasks, notes, journals, and more. It even handles OST to PST conversion with no need for Exchange profiles.

But Wait: Still More Recovery…

Beyond these specifics, STELLAR CONVERTER FOR OST is useful for recovering from OST synchronization failures. These can occur when

  • the client view of what’s current and correct diverges from the server’s view
  • when mailbox issues (loss, damage, corruption) present themselves
  • clients wish to recover deleted items no longer present in the Trash folder. You can see such deleted items in red in the preceding screencap (assume they’re more useful than canceled appointments, please).

OST conversion provides a PST upon which to base a new, shared view of Outlook contents and to re-establish proper agreement.

Vitally, STELLAR CONVERTER FOR OST offers recovery should the server behind Hosted Microsoft Exchange service be damaged or hacked. That is, this program can provide PST files from which to rebuild and restore mailbox data to Office 365 or Microsoft 365 servers. This same capability also enables quick migration from Hosted Exchange to O365 or M365 with minimal effort, and no risk of data loss. Good stuff!


STELLAR CONVERTER FOR OST comes in 3 versions: Corporate, Technician and Tookit, with respective licensing fees of US$79, US$149 and US$199. See their “Buy Now” page for a complete comparative features matrix. The TLDR version is that higher-priced versions offer more and better repairs: Technician adds batch file conversion, more advanced PST handling, exports to live Exchange and O365, plus Contacts in CSV format to the mix; Toolkit does all that, plus corrupt PST repairs, total mailbox restores, more format options, PST merge, password recovery, and a whole lot more. Of course, you’d expect to spend more for higher-end program versions, but they do come at higher costs.

For years, I’ve relied on Outlook to maintain a journal of all the emails I send and receive. It’s an astonishingly detailed and accurate record of my professional and financial life. STELLAR CONVERTER FOR OST provides me with the confidence that I can access and rely on my “email trail” to document and manage a busy working schedule, an upcoming calendar, and a sizable list of professional colleagues and contacts.

The more you rely on email to help run, document and prove up your activities, assignments responsibilities, and professional network, the more you need STELLAR CONVERTER FOR OST. It’s definitely worth having, if only as a way to insure yourself against loss of or damage to vital working assets.

[Note: I produced this item after Stellar contacted me to ask me to write and post the piece. I am invoicing them for a modest fee as well. That said, the opinions herein are my own, and I stand by my recommendation of this product.]


WordPress Link Access API Hack

Whoa! I just got messages from a colleague on LinkedIn, and have confirmed for both that social media platform and Facebook, that something wicked this way comes. That is, it seems there’s a WordPress link access API hack that enables malicious redirection whenever a link compaction program calls my site for link info. You can see what this looks like in the lead-in graphic. To mangle Talking Heads my reaction is “That’s not my beautiful site! Those aren’t my URLs.” Ai-yi-yi!

Fixing WordPress Link Access API Hack

Scan, remove bad references. remove any suspect WordPress elements. Put a security scan service in place to prevent recurrences. That’s what my Web guy is working on right now. For whatever odd and obviously invalid reason, I thought my WP service already covered all these bases. Now that I know that’s untrue, it will get fixed as soon as that work gets done.

Wow! What an astonishing PITA for something so modest and focused. It seems that several configuration files got modified through a vulnerable plug-in and included references to malicious URLs as of 5/21. We’re changing all the passwords, fixing what’s wrong, and cleaning up the mess. I’m hopeful things will be back to normal by tomorrow.

Going forward, we’ve added explicit ongoing security scans, and regular reviews of software selections, patch levels, and protective software to the mix. Hopefully, this won’t happen again. But if you see something odd any time you access one of my posts or Web pages, do like MS MVP Simon Allison did, and let me know right away that something seems funny or broken. Every little bit of insight and info helps!

Note Added 6/5 2:40 PM

The URL/API portion of the site has been replaced, and no more malicious or suspect URLs get generated. The issue is apparently fixed, but we’re still scanning all files in the entire site to make sure no other unwanted content/malicious payloads are lurking anywhere. All’s well that ends well, but the road goes on forever and the party never ends…



Classic Teams Continues Despite Phase-out Promises

Gosh. I just noticed upon attempting a Teams login this morning, that Classic Teams (aka Teams (Classic)) is still alive and well. Look at the prompt in the lead-in screencap, which asks “Did you mean to open the new Teams?” I’ve read repeated MS claims that once new is installed, Classic should auto-delete in 15 days. But so far that promise remains unfulfilled (see my April 25 blog post for deets). Indeed, Classic Teams continues despite phase-out promises at regular intervals. Sigh.

Classic Teams Continues Despite Phase-out Promises, Interminably

I noticed this because of an entry named Microsoft.Teams.Free that showed up in a WinGet update recently (version 24124.2402.2858.5617). Looks like I may have missed an important toggle in the Classic Teams interface: in the upper left corner of the UI, it reads “Try the new Teams.” Upon toggling same, you’ll see this pop-up window:

Classic Teams Continues Despite Phase-out Promises.toggle

Perhaps toggling will help resolve the upgrade/replacement issue?

After trying that maneuver, I closed Teams. Then I went into Task Manager, details pane, and closed all open Teams processes. This time, when I entered Teams in the Start menu search box, the new Teams iconage came up right away. No request to switch. No question about which version I wanted. No confusion. Even so, Teams classic still shows up in the Start menu. Maybe it will FINALLY vanish when the next 15-day interval expires? Could I have been missing a simple, obvious option all along? Of course I could: this is Windows-World, after all!

One possible moral for this story: Watch those titlebar toggles. They might just make a difference. Sigh again.



Reboot Clears Little White Box

Here’s an odd one. Yesterday afternoon — right after updating the beta NVIDIA app, in fact — the right-hand display on my production PC starting showing a  blank area at its dead center. It appeared to be about 100 pixels wide and 15-20 pixels deep. It wouldn’t go away, no matter which apps I opened or closed. Happily, a reboot clears little white box this morning, so it appears it was temporary.

When Reboot Clears Little White Box, Then What?

Of course, I’m pretty sure the box wasn’t actually white. I set my desktop background to solid white routinely, because it supports the best screenshots for my writing work. I’m pretty sure it would have reflected whatever the desktop looked like in that region.

My best guess is that the screen simply wasn’t updating that rectangular region, and it was displaying its default appearance. Hence its color, which matches the desktop background (see lead-in graphic). Whenever the graphics driver was updating the screen, it skipped whatever range of addresses that box represented for each update, like it wasn’t even there. Which is sort of true, but also annoying.

Seems like yesterday’s driver update may have dropped those addresses. In retrospect, I should have tried the graphics driver reset shortcut (WinKey+Ctrl+Shift+B ) to see if that brought the box back to life. A reboot also resets the graphics driver, among many other things that may have been unnecessary. But it did the trick.

And boy howdy, that’s how the mop flops here in Windows-World this morning. It’s always an adventure!


Hub Disconnect Breaks IP Lease

I should have known. I took my Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Hybrid tablet upstairs with me on Saturday night for some couch-based reading. Perforce, I unhooked the device from its usual home: a CalDigit ThunderBolt 4 (TS4) hub. When I hooked it back in the next morning, the device threw an error when I tried to RDP in from my desktop. Why? It seems that a hub disconnect breaks IP lease, and forces the resumed connection to pick up a new and different IP address. It takes 24 hours or so for the machine name table to catch up with reality.

Proving That Hub Disconnect Breaks IP Lease

Open the lead-in graphic in its own window (right-click, then “Open image in new tab” or equivalent). Up top, it shows the results for 2 similar nslookup commands: one for the current IP address (ends in .41) and the other for the old, out-of-date IP address (ends in .22). You can see that the name in Remote Desktop Connection (X12Hybrid.lan, aka X12Hybrid) resolves to Alas, as you can see in the lower part of the intro image, Advanced IP Scanner reports the current active IP address for the device as Right now, that resolves to X12Hybrid-423.lan.

So, while I’m waiting for the name table to catch up, I’m using the actual current  IP address for the X12Hybrid to make an RDP connection. That still works, thank goodness. This is just one of the little quirks that makes Windows networking interesting from time to time. Fortunately, I have enough miles on me to recognize this when it happens.

That’ll teach me to take the laptop upstairs with me on a Saturday night, right? More fun, more fun, more fun in Windows-World!


Snappy Misses Realtek UAD Drivers

My attitude toward Windows Update driver tools has changed a lot over the years. I’ve tried a lot of them. Indeed Tim Fisher’s “Best free” Lifewire guide mentions no fewer than 8 (May, 2024).  I’ve come to rely on an Open Source tool named Snappy Driver Installer Origin for driver checks and updates. But this morning, I noticed that Snappy misses Realtek UAD drivers — its “Universal Audio Driver” versions that work with newer devices– and wants to use HDA (High Definition Audio) drivers instead.

If Snappy Misses Realtek UAD Drivers, Then What?

I’ve long turned to the French website Station Drivers as my “driver source of last resort” when other sources come up dry. I don’t know where or how these guys get their downloads, but they usually have the very latest (and always virus-free) versions of device drivers available. Thus, for example, my updated UAD driver was version 9464.1 dated May 6, 2024.

As you can see in the lead-in screencap, Snappy correctly identifies that my aging SkyLake i7 Asrock Z170 Extreme4+ mobo has a Realtek audio device that needs a driver updates. But it insists that such a driver be the High Definition Audio (HDA) variety. That actually works, but not with the Realtek Audio Console (which pairs with UAD drivers by design).

So what I do when I see Snappy recommend a driver I don’t want is simple. I elect not to install it. Instead, I use it as a warning to update the UAD driver, then head on over to Station Drivers to see if what they’ve got for download is newer than what I’ve got installed. In this case, it turned out to be version 9464.1 (available) vs. 9618.1 (installed). Fixed that in a hurry, I did!

Supplement Tools with Experience

This is a general approach that works well with Windows maintenance of all kinds. Once you learn the foibles and limitation of your chosen tools, you can also learn when and how to over-rule them. That’s what I did with the Realtek UAD drivers this morning. As these opportunities present, I urge you to follow suit, because that sometimes the way things go here in Windows-World.



Go 24H2 Outside Insider Program

i just learned something interesting. MS has added an ISO for Windows 11 Insider Preview (Release Preview Channel) – Build 26100.560 to its Preview Downloads page. As long as you access the page using an MSA that’s in the program, you can download, install and run 24H2 without future forced Insider updates. Long story short: if you want to get a head start on the next version, you can go 24H2 outside Insider Program. Neat-o (and thanks to Paul Thurrott for pointing this out).

How-to: Go 24H2 Outside Insider Program

Once you grab the ISO, mount it and run its top-level setup.exe to fire off an update or clean install. I’m doing mine in a VM because I don’t have a spare physical PC on which I’d like to run another copy of 24H2. And alas, my current one is enrolled in the Release Review channel of the Insider Program. FWIW, the download took about 15 minutes (it self-reported at 5.2 GB). The whole process took 40 minutes, give or take.

After all is said and 24H2 is running, I show winver and the Insider Program status. Because the latter starts with “Join the Windows Insider Program,” it shows that this is a 24H2 image. Ostensibly, it’s only available to Insider Program members in the Release Preview channel. But here ’tis outside that tender embrace. Thanks again, Mr. Thurrott!

Go 24H2 Outside Insider Program.visual-proof

Winver shows 24H2;Settings > WIP says “Join up!” QED.

Thurrott says this image will happily collect WU items as they’re issued going forward. I believe him. This seems like a stellar way to jump into 24H2 production mode a bit early. IDKYCDT Good stuff!