Category Archives: Recent Activity

Intermittent Mouse Needs New Battery

I have a kind of love-hate relationship with mice. Because I work on a desktop PC by choice, I’m more or less forced to use a USB-attached pointing device. I’ve switched back and forth between wired and wireless models because their weaknesses sometimes vex me. For the wired meese, the wire tends to snarl up with other cables on my desk. For wireless models, what frosts my jowls is intermittent or imprecise cursor stuttering or movement. I started to experience that on my current mouse this morning: a usually unflappable (and wireless) Microsoft Mobile Mouse 4000. Then I noticed a dimly pulsating red indicator light atop the device. Oho! This intermittent mouse needs new battery to work properly.

Why My Intermittent Mouse Needs New Battery

According this MS Community thread, the light is a battery life or status indicator. When you plug a new battery in, it shows green for 5 seconds, then turns itself off. Ditto when you power the mouse back on. When the battery is starting to fail, it shows red for the same interval upon power-up. And when battery levels are going critical — that is, it’s about to die — the dim red pulsations begin. Good to know!

We shop at Costco, so we always have lots of batteries around. As soon as I swapped out the old AA for a new one, I got the green glow for 5 seconds. Now it’s dark again. And presto! The mouse is no longer stuttering, and it’s tracking exactly where I want it to go. Yay!

The Best Issues Get Quick, Easy Fixes

Working with PCs in Windows-World means there’s always something in need of fixing or figuring out. Once you identify an issue, the troubleshooting process begins. Over my decades working with this stuff, I’ve learned to appreciate problems that are easy to recognize, diagnose and fix. Today’s successful battery swap definitely falls in that category, even if another one bits the dust as a result.

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Pondering Post-Hurricane Internet Outages

The old saying in my home state of Texas is “If you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes. It’ll change.” Things took a turn for the worse on Monday and Tuesday, when Hurricane Beryl tore through the Gulf cost then Houston. At one point, over 2M locations (households or businesses) had no electricity. That number is still about 1.2M as I write this screed according to PowerOutage.us. One unexpected effect caused most Internet Service in Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio to fail from about noon Tuesday until after 7PM that day. As a member of an affected household, it has me pondering post-hurricane Internet outages.

Fortunately, our 5G service stayed up and continued to provide Internet access. So I was able to limp along during the outage, using my iPhone 12 as a hotspot for minimal connectivity. Failing over from a nominal GbE link to something that delivers 5 MBps if we’re lucky stings, though.

If Pondering Post-Hurricane Internet Outages, Think Failover

Until last year, I had a Inseego MiFi M2100 mobile hotspot through my Verizon account. I kept it around as a fallback when the pandemic hit, because we had to have Internet access, guaranteed, while my son was attending high school remotely. He’s off to college now, and we’re doing our best to cut recurring expenses — like most American families nowadays. So we dropped the hotspot when we switched over from Verizon to Spectrum for cellphone service last year. The iPhone isn’t quite as robust as the MiFi device, but it does the job in a pinch.

Looking at news coverage of Tuesday’s Internet outage, Spectrum is quoted as saying it arose from “a third-party infrastructure issue caused by the impact of Hurricane Beryl.” My guess is that an Internet POP/peering location got flooded, or lost power, and backup generators couldn’t or didn’t pick up the slack. The afore-linked story also tells me that the affected area also included Laredo, San Antonio, the Rio Grande Valley, and Corpus Christi.

Resilience Matters

As somebody who makes his living at least partly thanks to Internet access — I use it for research and learning, for business communications, to obtain and deliver work assignments, and a whole lot more — ongoing access is essential. I’m glad I could use the iPhone as a failover device, but it definitely battered my productivity.

It’s enough to get me thinking about doubling up on fiber-optic coverage, and bringing in the AT&T Uverse fiber service alongside Spectrum’s CATV-based GbE service for redundancy’s sake. The question then becomes: it it worth the extra expense? I’ll have to think on that…

 

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Notepad Gets General Spellcheck

Since March, 2024, or thereabouts, MS has been testing spellcheck within the venerable Notepad app in Windows 11 Insider Preview versions. As of the latest Store version (11.2405.13.0) however, it is now popping up in production/stable Windows 11 builds (22631.3380, as I write this item). Hence, my proclamation that Notepad gets general spellcheck for Windows 11. The lead-in graphic shows what this looks like for a simple sentence with 2 typos.

If You Don’t See that Notepad Gets General Spellcheck

Whenever I read about new features or capabilities showing up in Windows, I like to go look for myself and confirm their presence or absence. So when I read about this yesterday in a story from Sergey Tkachenko at WinAero, I tried it out to see what was what. At first, spellcheck didn’t work.

First thing: I checked Settings to make sure it was turned on. Indeed, it was. So I toggled it off, then toggled it back on. That did the trick — and produced the spell-checked text you see in the lead-in screencap. If you find yourself facing the same circumstances, that simple operation will hopefully produce visible spellcheck output, too.

One more thing: spellcheck is sensitive to file extensions. It does spellcheck text types. But it does not check scripts, programming language source code, or log files (e.g. .ps1, .py, or .log/.evt). You’ve been warned! So far, I like I what I see when Notepad does its spellcheck thing. Check it out!

 

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Word Gets Seriously Weird

I should know better, so I have no one to blame but myself. Yesterday, I was beavering away on an MS Word project for one of my regular customers. An update notification popped up in Word and I confess: I clicked “OK” before I really thought about what that might mean. Alas, I was about to find out — the hard way. My project entailed “rolling up” three tech briefs into one single, larger document which made it mostly a cut-n-paste exercise with some minor reformatting, intro/outro content creation, and a QA pass over about 6,000 words of copy. Then, as MS Word gets seriously weird in the wake of the updates, I notice things aren’t working correctly.

When Word Gets Seriously Weird, Start Over

As somebody who’s been writing professionally in MS Word since the mid-1980s (40 years or so), I’ve seen my share of Word weirdness. Because I was heads-down, trying furiously to hit a deadline, I didn’t really notice what was going on. But slowly it dawned on me that:

  • cut-n-paste boundaries were off
  • item selection was acting strange
  • keyboard and mouse responses were slow and cranky
  • menu commands were sluggish

Finally I thought to myself “Maybe updating Word while I was working wasn’t such a good idea.” I did close and then reopen all files, but apparently that was insufficient. So I went for the first step in any real Office repair: a reboot. I closed all open apps, initiated a restart, and crossed my fingers.

Shoulda Done That in the First Place!

After the reboot, it took a while to set my content elements back up. I opened three source files, a target file, and a template/go-by file, and then started over on the target file. Everything worked just like it was supposed to. I was able to finish the second try at the project in about an hour and half, more or less in line with my original estimate.

What I hadn’t counted on — and won’t get caught on again for a while — is that permitting Office to update itself while I was trying to hit a deadline wasn’t a good idea. I ended up losing another 90 minutes to that debacle. But eventually, I figured out what was up, and responded appropriately. And isn’t that just the way things go sometimes — especially when deadline loom — here in Windows-World? You bet!

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UUPDump Covers ARM64 ISOs

OK, then: now that I’ve got a Copilot+ PC with Snapdragon X Elite CPU, I’m paying attention to backups and restores, plus repairs and rebuilds. Thus when I saw Paul Thurrott’s (Premium) post this morning The Windows 11 on ARM ISO Conundrum I immediately jumped over to UUPDump.net to check ARM64 status. To my great relief, UUPDump covers ARM64 ISOs — along with other kinds — as you can see in the lead-in graphic. This is doubly valuable, because neither the Windows 10 nor the Windows 11 download pages provide ARM64 ISO options. Thus, they can’t build ARM64 ISOs, either (10 offers x86 32- and 64-bit, 11 x86 64-bit only).

Thank Goodness: UUPDump covers ARM64

I used the search string “24H2 arm64” at UUPDump.net to produce the lead-in graphic. Checking my Lenovo Yoga Slim 7X Copilot+ PC using winver.exe, I see it’s running Build 26100.1000 right now. As you can see in the lead-in graphic, that’s the top/most recent version of Windows 11 24H2 available at present.

Just for grins, I’ll visit the site and generate myself an ISO for this version later today. Who knows? It may come in handy for repairs and/or as the basis for a bootable flash drive. Lord knows they’re handy whenever Windows gets weird as it will sometimes do on its own. And when I’m beating on a review PC I do have a tendency to break things a-purpose, just to see what happens. Repair/recovery media are always good just in case they’re needed, right?

Other News on the ARM64 Front

I’ve got some deadlines today, but I’ll be reaching out to Lenovo tomorrow. I still haven’t been able to get into a VM on the Slim 7x. I keep getting hung up at the Start screen, which goes straight to PXE boot and then gets nowhere. There’s got to be a trick I haven’t been able to figure out on my own, so I’m going to ask the real professionals for help — namely the support SMEs who try to help hapless reviewers like yours truly who dig themselves into the occasional hole.

Stay tuned: I’ll keep you posted on my ongoing adventures with limited-access Windows 11, as well as all the other versions I’m running around here.

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Painful Tradeoff: System Update vs. Hyper-V

I just learned something new yesterday, as I’m still breaking in my new Lenovo Yoga Slim 7x Copilot+ PC. It seems one can’t use the Lenovo Service Bridge and/or its System Update facility without turning off the Hyper-V feature (and support for VMs). To me, this is an extremely painful tradeoff, because System Update vs. Hyper-V means doing without one or the other. I want both!

Uncovering Painful Tradeoff: System Update vs. Hyper-V

It was actually slightly worse than simply disabling the Hyper-V feature using Control Panel item Programs and Features built-in Turn Windows features on or off option. As you can see in the next screencap, the Hyper-V feature box is unchecked (turned off).

Painful Tradeoff: System Update vs. Hyper-V.turned-off

When the Hyper-V box is unchecked, it’s not available on that host PC.

In addition, I also had to remove an exclusion on a range of dynamic (upper-address) TCP ports because Hyper-V reserves them for its exclusive use. That required the following command:

netsh int ipv4 delete excludedportrange protocol=tcp 50000 60

What this does is remove the exclusion range from TCP port number 50000 through 50059 (60 ports total, as per the final value). When I turned Hyper-V back on, I had to reboot the PC as per SOP. But I had to re-exclude that range of TCP ports to restore Hyper-V Manager’s ability to access the network. Until I did so, it showed no information when trying to access predefined MS image resources. As you see in the empty “Select an operating system” pane for Quick Create, there’s no there there…

The syntax to restore the excluded port range is:

netsh int ipv4 add excludedportrange protocol=tcp startport=50000 numberofports=60

But I couldn’t get it to work in a way that would return the Gallery files to Hyper-V Manager. Now amount of fiddling around with TCP port reservations returned those items therein. Sigh. So I elected to run a Repair install instead using Settings > System > Recovery > Fix problems using Windows Update. This took about 15 minutes to complete and it still didn’t fix my problem. I’ll try a reset next.

Terrible Trade-offs Suck!

I’m reaching out to Lenovo in hope of some additional help. I don’t like the situation of trading System Update against Hyper-V. I will keep working until I can have both. Stay tuned. This isn’t over…

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SDIO Replaces Studio with Game-Ready

I’m looking over what Snappy Driver Install Origin (SDIO) wrought by way of massive driver updates on a couple of Lenovo laptops. I noticed something interesting. Something perhaps even mildly disconcerting, in fact. In updating drivers, SDIO cheerfully replaces Studio with Game-Ready drivers for GeForce GPUs.

I’m not sure that’s what users would want, if informed in advance of this switcheroo. Indeed, I had earlier noticed and reported on SDIO replacing Realtek Universal Audio Driver (UAD) drivers with High Definition Audio (HDA) ones. As with the prior NVIDIA driver types UAD offers things that HDA does not. For example: UAD adds Realtek Audio Console support while HDA is a no-go. Thus, some users wouldn’t want to switch — myself included.

Why SDIO Replaces Studio with Game-Ready

Methinks SDIO’s approach to driver updates is pretty simple-minded. And indeed, the release date for the NVIDIA Game-Ready driver is newer than that for the Studio driver. A simple data comparison makes it “logical” for the younger item to prevail. But IMO that shows other considerations are needed. If you check the lead-in graphic, you’ll see that SDIO recommends Realtek HDA drivers, though I’m happily using UAD and the Realtek Audio console.

This kind of thing needs “exception handling” in SDIO. If it supported rules to over-ride strict date-based selection, it could easily work around the kinds of situations pertaining to NVIDIA graphics and Realtek audio drivers. I guess I’ll file a feature request to see what happens.

Know Your Tools; Work Around Deficits

This illustrates how important it is to observe and understand what tools are doing. When they do something unexpected or unwanted it’s often because the developer didn’t consider certain use cases. By bringing them to developers’ attention and learning how to work around them until they’re fixed, IT pros can keep on keeping on even when their tools don’t always work exactly as they want them to.

That’s life, here in Windows-World. I intend to keep watching, and keep enjoying its eddies and rhythms, for some time to come! Happy 4th of July, too, for those who celebrate this holiday.

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Snappy versus Vantages Poses Sharp Contrast

In case you didn’t know, I’ve got a boatload of Lenovo laptops here at Chez Tittel (I count 6 in my office right now, with another upstairs). The company is kind enough to loan me the occasional unit (just over half that total) and I’ve purchased many more over the years than are currently on hand. That means frequent driver checks and hunts to keep those units up-to-date. I performed a clean install on the P16 Mobile Workstation  last eweek.  I also recognize extended procrastination on the X1 Extreme (both are ThinkPad models). Consequently, I’m observing that Snappy versus Vantage poses sharp contrast in items found and updates needed. Let me explain…

Why Say: Snappy versus Vantages Poses Sharp Contrast

For the P16, Vantage found 8 drivers in need of updating after I’d completed the clean install. For the X1 Extreme (running Build 22635.3858) Vantage says “nothing to see here.” From the Snappy Driver Installer Origin (SDIO) perspective, it found 61 drivers to update on the P16 (delta = 53), and 59 on the X1 Extreme (delta = 59). IMO, that’s a pretty sharp contrast. You can see it at work downloading packages prior to installing updates for the X1 Extreme in the lead-in graphic.

SDIO is an open source project, for which Glenn Delahoy is primarily responsible. It’s donation-ware, and worth supporting (I just anted up US$5 and thanked him for his work). I find it to be a reasonably accurate driver scanner and absolutely the least intrusive of all many and various ones I’ve tried over the years.

The download phase takes a while because that many drivers perforce means downloading a number of good-sized driver package files for SDIO to use. On the X1 Extreme, it just took about 15 minutes to download 8.4GB of stuff, then another 20 minutes or so to chunk through the 59 driver installs. I was bemused that each of the CPU’s 12 cores required its own download and install of an”Intel Dynamic Tuning Generic Participant” and another “Intel Dynamic Tuning Processor Participant,” but that’s apparently the way it rolls.

Indeed, there was lots of Intel stuff in the mix (I’d say around two-thirds of the components overall). But the updates went through and produced no blivits (Unknown Device entries) in Device Manager. Indeed, the X1 Extreme seems to be running faster and more smoothly, too. Go figure!

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Update and Check Windows Terminal Versions

When I checked over the PC fleet this morning WinGet let me know an  update for Windows Terminal was pending. It would take the program from version 1.20.11381.0 to 1.20.11781.0. Easy-peasey. But once is was done, I asked myself: what’s the best way to check that the new version is running. Thus, I found myself digging into how to update and check Windows Terminal versions. The lead-in graphic, in fact, shows two ways to version-check, captured from the colorful Lenovo Yoga Slim 7x Copilot+ PC.

For the record those two checks are:

1. Winget list Microsoft.WindowsTerminal shows the current installed version on the PC.
2. Click the down-caret in the WinTerm title bar, then click “About” from the pop-up menu to get the “About” mini-window atop the Windows Terminal application window.

How-to: Update and Check Windows Terminal Versions

The update part is easy using the general WinGet upgrade –all –include-unknown command. But if you want to target WinTerm explicitly, Winget upgrade Microsoft.WindowsTerminal will also work.

One thing to remember, as you’ll see in the next screencap: once you’ve updated Windows Terminal, you need to close the current session, then open a new one. Why? Because the process that’s running the old version won’t quit, and a new process to run the new version won’t take over, until you’ve done the “out with the old, in with the new” routine that this accomplishes. Good stuff!

Update and Check Windows Terminal Versions.ps-details

One more cool little detail: as soon as WinGet updates WinTerm, it bails back out to the command line. That’s so you can close/re-open your session and keep going…

Just another routine day here in Windows-World. I really enjoy working at the command line a LOT more, now that I’ve learned how to jazz things up and make best use of WinGet to keep them current.

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Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 Gets Accolades

For over a week now (11 days, actually) it’s been my pleasure to work with the excellent and affordable Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 Copilot+ PC. It’s got modest stats — Snapdragon X Elite X1E78100, 16 GB RAM, 512GB SSD and a gorgeous OLED display — but a modest MSRP of ~US$1,200. And it’s got Copilot support with a 45 TOPs NPU to take advantage of AI capabilities and planned support features. In short, it’s a pretty great ultrabook-style laptop with usable features and capabilities at the low end of the price spectrum for such devices.

Who Says Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 Gets Accolades?

Lots of reviewers give it high ratings or rankings. Paul Thurrott has written about it 4 times in the last week with positive things to say in every piece. WindowsCentral says it has the “best bright screen,” and one of its other reviewers says it “may be his favorite Windows laptop ever.” Online reviews abound with phrases like:

  • Great bang for the buck
  • Hidden Gem
  • Everything you Need
  • Amazing Display + Battery Life
  • A solid graphic design laptop

Indeed, all of these breathless exhortations match my own recent experience working with the unit myself. I’ve reviewed a LOT of Lenovo laptops (probably around 100 or so, over the past 15 years) and this one is in my personal top 3, along with the still-amazing X12 Hybrid Tablet and the equally killer P16 (Gen 1) Mobile Workstation.

Still Looking for a Killer Justification

Because MS pulled its Recall feature owing to security concerns, I’m still trying to decide if the pre-loaded AI models on the Yoga Slim 7 –which account for  fair amount of its 100+GB on-disk footprint when delivered — provide enough added value to further tip purchase decisions in its favor. That’s nothing on MS or Lenovo: I need to learn enough to figure out how to use them and what they’re good for. So it’s on me!

But as a new laptop, I think the Yoga Slim 7 represents a great value for the money (I’ve seen prices — e.g. Best Buy — at $100 lower than Lenovo MSRP). So far it’s handled everything I’ve thrown at it with grace and dispatch. It won’t run Google Drive (no ARM support yet) but seems to run pretty much everything else. If I needed to buy a laptop right now, I’d be happy to buy this one. It’s a good value and should have enough oomph to carry users for 3-5 years with ease. Given AI (and Hyper-V/VM) appetites for RAM and storage, you might want to opt in for the 32GB RAM and 1 TB SSD model. That said, I don’t see it for sale in the Lenovo Store just yet…

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