Category Archives: Thoughts & concerns

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…



Default Browser Reset Rankles

It just happened again. I clicked a (safe) URL in an email message and found myself inside Microsoft Edge. Because my personal practice and preference is to run Chrome as the default, this was a back-handed way of telling me that my default browser had been reset. It probably came from some new VM I set up and filtered back into my MSA via OneDrive. Or I could’ve agreed to something in Edge to make that happen. However this change occurred, any surprise default browser reset rankles when it happens. I don’t like it.

Here’s Why a Default Browser Reset Rankles

I get used to things working a certain way on my desktop. When an update or a settings change affects that same old, same old, I get a little disturbed. Upon investigation, such things are mostly my own doing. I think what bit me this time I that I set up a VM a couple of days ago and just let all the standard defaults — including Edge for the browser — go through unaltered. It didn’t hit me in the chops, though, until I clicked a URL In an Outlook email yesterday  after which it opened in Edge. Ouch!

The right thing to do, obviously, is for me to use one MSA for work, and another MSA for testing and experimentation. I think I can avoid the issue through proper practices going forward. But it still rankles when a change in one place trickles down into the same change somewhere else.

Work Away from Unwanted Surprises
IS Working Smarter

As the old saying goes “Work smarter, not harder.” I will do my best to take that old saw to heart and make sure to steer clear going forward. Just another day here in Windows-World, and another case of IDKYCDT via OneDrive. Sigh.


RenamePC + Date&Time Move Into Settings

I’ve been paying a lot more attention to Microsoft’s sometimes slow and scattered migration of functions and features from Control Panel to Settings lately. Why? Because I’m in the midst of a series of stories on Control Panel, Settings and Consoles in Windows 11 for That’s why I picked up quickly on Canary Build 26217.5000. In that release,  renamePC and date&time move into Settings.

You can see the new “Rename your PC” window in the lead-in graphic. It echoes the current Windows 11 theme. It also shows rounded corners and other modern UI hallmarks.

What RenamePC + Date&Time Move Into Settings Means

More functionality keeps making its way from the older Control Panel interface into the newer, dynamic Settings environment. Indeed, the Sync capability is now fully integrated into Settings > Time & language > Date & time:

It’s no longer necessary to jump from Settings into Control Panel to sync a PC’s clock with some standard time server. Mine is (Look near the bottom of the preceding screencap.)

MS: When Will You Make an End?

Like the Pope to Michelangelo in working on the Sistine Chapel ceiling frescoes, the question more or less begs itself. Because of all the separate development groups involved across the whole OS, I’m afraid the answer is “Nobody knows!” No doubt the old rejoinder “When it’s finished” applies as well to transitioning from Control Panel to Settings as it did to the 1965 Hollywood epic that’s the source of this cheesy dialog. Hopefully it, too, leaves a legacy for the ages…


Pondering AI PCs Means TOPS

Since last Friday (April 26) I’ve been working with the Lenovo Yoga Pro 9 laptop. It’s also called a Yoga Pro 9i. I’m a little mystified by the “i” that comes and goes for this device name. If you look at the lead-in graphic you can see the User Guide calls it “Pro 9i” while Lenovo Vantage calls it “Pro 9.” It’s an early AI PC from Lenovo, which means it has a Copilot key and a built-in AI processor, aka NPU (Neural Processing Unit). As I’m now learning, pondering AI PCs means TOPS (trillions of AI or “tera” operations per second) matter — a lot!

If Pondering AI PCs Means TOPS Matters, What’s the 9(i) Got?

According to Intel Ark the name of the NPU integrated into the Intel Ultra Core i9 185H CPU is “Intel AI boost.” Otherwise, there’s precious little info available about its capabilities except for the frameworks it support. For the record, those are Intel’s own Open VINO, WindowsML, DirectML and OMNX RT.

I had to turn to Copilot to get more information about the 185H NPU. Here’s what it told me:

Intel’s Core Ultra “Meteor Lake” offers an AI Boost NPU with 10 TOPS

Since I’ve learned to verify whatever Copilot tells me, I found this stat verified at Tom’s Hardware in an April 9 story. When I asked Copilot directly “What’s the TOPS rating for the AI Boost NPU in the Intel i9 185H?” it came back with a higher number that I couldn’t verify. Here’s what it said:

The Intel Core Ultra 9 185H processor features an AI Boost NPU that can perform approximately 34 trillion operations per second, which translates to 34 TOPS (Tera Operations Per Second)12.

The second source it cites may explain this apparent discrepancy, though: the 10 TOPS is what the NPU itself contributes. But Arc and NVIDIA GPUs can also support the same AI frameworks mentioned above, and can thus add to a unit’s overall TOPS rating.

Put this into more Copilot context that asks if it itself can use NPU resources:

Microsoft Copilot is now set to run locally on AI PCs with at least 40 TOPS (Tera Operations Per Second) of NPU (Neural Processing Unit) performance.

Given that the Yoga 9(i) comes close to that number, I’m still wondering if it qualifies or not. So far, I can’t find any details that lead me definitively to an unequivocal “Yes” or “No.” Sigh.

The Next Generation Gets It, For Sure?

Another Tom’s story, also dated April 9, says the next “Lunar Lake” generation will include an NPU rated at 45 TOPS. Further it also asserts that PCs with such chips will offer 100+ TOPS overall when they become available. AMD likewise says it will play in that same ballpark, as will the Snapdragon X Elite chips.

I’m still unsure as to whether or not my current review unit — that is, the Lenovo Yoga 9(i) has enough AI oomph to run Copilot workloads locally. I’ll keep banging away at this, though. Eventually, I’ll figure it out. At this point, I’m still at the start of the learning curve…

Rereading Tom’s Hardware I See This…

The Tom’s Copilot Locally story relies mostly on quotes from Intel to set things up — namely, from Todd Lewellen, VP of Intel Client Computing Group. He says:

“[..]And as we go to that next gen, it’s just going to enable us to run more things locally, just like they will run Copilot with more elements of Copilot running locally on the client. That may not mean that everything in Copilot is running local, but you’ll get a lot of key capabilities that will show up running on the NPU.”

This seems pretty clear that the current generation — including the Core Ultra i9 185H in the Lenovo Pro 9i  — does NOT fall under this umbrella. That said, I think it leaves open whether or not it will make any difference for other AI workloads. Should be interesting to get to the bottom of this!


Is ARM In Your PC’s Future?

I just saw an interesting story over at Windows Latest. It’s entitled Microsoft; Industry considers Windows on ARM as the future of computing. We’ve seen Windows on ARM for 3-plus years now. But so far, the user experience has been more under- than over- whelming. Nevertheless,  I’m inclined to agree that ARM has revolutionary PC potential going forward.  Thus IMO it IS reasonable to ask: Is ARM in your PC’s future? Let me explain… as you look at the CPU package in the lead-in graphic (Image Credit:

Why say: Is ARM In Your PC’s Future?

I’ve been writing ongoing tech briefs for HPE, around the  ProLiant server family since last December. Much of my research, analysis and reporting has centered around ARM CPUs. Specifically, I’ve been exploring benefits they confer on cloud-based servers vis-a-vis top-of-the-line x86 Intel and AMD processors :

  • Energy efficiency: ARM CPUs routinely deliver the same or better performance as the other CPUs, but consume 50-70% less power.
  • Footprint: ARM CPU-based servers require only 1/3 the physical space (and volume) of their intel or AMD counterparts. That means either major savings on rack space, cooling, cabling and yada-yada, or 3 times as much capability in the same space.
  • Predictable and improved performance: ARM (Ampere Altra and Altra Max) CPUs use a single constant clock speed and lots of cores to keep things in synch and running smoothly. They can handle higher loads, faster and more predictably (with less jitter, too) than the competition.
  • High core-count ARM CPUs (Ampere Altra and Altra Max) can handle AI workloads without needing supplementary GPUs to offload or assist with such processing. Considering that the latest high-end Blackwell NVIDIA GPU is expected to cost US$30-40K, that’s HUGE (the current spot price for the top-of-the-line Ampere Altra Max M128-30 is US$2,305).

Pretty amazing, eh? It’s already shaking up the cloud and data center server market in a big, big way.

What Does This Have to Do with End-User PCs and Laptops?

Right now, not much. But in general, the ARM processors all share the smaller footprint and improved energy efficiency characteristics that help set the high-end ARM server CPUs apart from intel and AMD. They won’t offer anywhere near the same number of cores, and they’re also likely to use multiple core types (Ampere Altra uses only single-threaded cores, all identical, all in lock-step).

A March 13 MS announcement about worldwide availability of an “ARM advisory service for developers” had this to say about ARM silicon:

This is no surprise, as many across the industry consider Windows on Arm devices as the future of computing, with unparalleled speed, battery life, and connectivity.

Like me, MS apparently sees the uptake of the advantages that ARM architecture brings to computing having a significant impact at the end-user level. This is going to be interesting to watch unfold. It’s going to be even more fun to play with and test, to see if the running gear lives up to the breathless hype. If the benchmarks that Ampere and HPE are publishing are any indication, this could very well shake up desktops and laptops over the next year or two, as it’s already doing so for the rack-mounted server market right now.

Will the next PC/laptop I test have an ARM CPU? Gosh, I hope so. Will the next PC/laptop I BUY have an ARM CPU? Jury’s still out, but it’s looking at least possible, if not downright likely…


24H2 Versions Gain Storage Pool Delete

Once upon a time Storage Pools in Windows fell under Control Panel’s sway. Bit by bit, control over Storage Spaces has been moving from Control Panel into Settings. With Build 26080 (Canary channel) Windows 11 24H2 versions gain Storage Pool delete capability in Settings as well. I learned this today, thanks to an article in WindowsLatest by Abishek Mishra. Note: this article also provided the source for the lead-in graphic, as I did not have time to set up a NAS to build a local storage pool myself.

Reflecting on 24H2 Versions Gain
Storage Pool Delete

There’s been a slow but inexorable switchover from Control Panel (and its CPL executables) to the Settings app since it first appeared in Windows 8 in February 2012 (Technical Preview). That’s been underway for over a decade now, and the process is not yet done. But each little step away from CP toward Settings marks incremental progress toward a new way to control and manage Windows.

This has me wondering: will I live long enough to see that switchover complete? My best guess is that the switchover is somewhere between half and two-thirds accomplished. There are still around 20 CPL executables in Windows 11, of which most still run. Thus, MS still has work to do to make the switchover complete. I’ll keep watching, and keep reporting, as this process grinds its way along. Stay tuned!

Warning: AskWoody Item Coming Soon!

I’ve actually been working on a series of stories for the AskWoody newsletters to look at the ongoing move from Control Panel to Settings. I am completing a piece on Settings that shows where CP still comes into play. I’ll follow that up with a complete listing of all CPLs still present in Windows 11, and also indicate which ones lead back into Settings and which ones remain necessary and outside that umbrella.

It’s fascinating stuff, trying to tease the details out of an OS as big and complex as an average Windows 11 instance. Fun fact: a typical Windows install will have a Settings tree (a map of all the functions and capabilities it provides) of between 1800 and 2000 nodes. That’s big, and it changes to reflect what’s plugged in at any given moment, and moves around as the OS gets updated. It’s both fascinating and mind-boggling at the same time…


Widget Screenshot Users, Beware

Wow! Did I get an ugly surprise in the mail yesterday. I got two demand letters from a Canadian image rights company, seeking payment of US$1,334 for use of two thumbnails in a screen capture I made. Where and how did this happen? I was reporting about the introduction of the Windows News Bar (Beta) app, before the whole news and weather widget stuff rolled onto the Windows taskbar. That’s why I admonish fellow bloggers and Web content developers: “Widget screenshot users, beware!”

Ouching into Widget Screenshot Users Beware

The actual images the claimant asserts I’m using without a license are thumbnails. They measure 78×41 pixels. They’re included as an illustration of what the news bar looked like on the Windows desktop at the time (after I downloaded and installed the app).

Of course, news and weather info is now available from the taskbar. It comes courtesy of the so-called “Widgets” icon there, where the popped-up window that clicking on it produces is simply called Widgets. It shows both captions and images because it has more pixels to work with. This original design let users pick whether to see captions or images (images by default). Because I screen-capped two of their clients’ images on March 30, 2020, I must pay . . .  says the claimant.

Fair Use to the Rescue

“Not so fast,” is my response. I replied in writing  as follows:

  •  I make no money from my website
  • I was reporting news about a new MS Store app (News Bar Beta)
  • I used the image strip (5 or 6 of them altogether, if memory serves) purely to show what the app looked like, and made no reference to individual images
  • I reproduced the strip as thumbnails only, heavily cropped
  • I do not sell or license images to any third parties, and I make no money from the site, so it can’t impose commercial losses on the copyright holders

These are all part of the arguments through which “fair use” is proven in the US. I think I’m on solid ground, but it’s pretty disturbing nonetheless. Going forward, I’ll look more closely at exactly what’s in my screencaps. I’d advise you to do likewise for anything that goes online as well. Better to avoid trouble than to have to (de)fend it off.


POPCNT Fuss Is More Fizzle

OK, then: the ‘net has been abuzz since last week as upcoming Windows 11 24H2 requirements come clear. Indeed, that OS won’t run on processors that don’t support the POPCNT instruction . IMO this POPCNT fuss is more fizzle than it is a major obstruction. Let me explain…

Why Say: POPCNT Is More Fuss than Fizzle

The POPCNT instruction has nothing to do with stack processing as its name might suggest. Rather, it counts up all 1-values in a binary sequence. It’s part of the SSE4.2 instruction set. These were introduced in 2008 to both AMD and Intel processors — namely:

  • AMD K10 (codename Barcelona), released in April of that year
  • Intel (codename Nehalem), released in November same year

That means the oldest processors that DON’T support SSE4.1 (and POPCNT) are more than 15 years old. Not terribly suitable for running Windows 11 anyway and likely to fail owing to lack of support for TPM, Secure Boot, and other reasons as well.

You can use Franc Delattre’s excellent CPU-Z tool to check your CPU to see if it supports SSE 4.2 or not. Check the lead-in graphic next to “Instructions.” It pops right up even on my 6th-gen 2016 vintage Skylake CPU (still running Windows 10 BTW).

For all but the most diehard long-haul PC users running a machine more than 5 years old is pushing things (and 15-plus years is highly unusual). This very Skylake is my oldest at 8 years, and it’s due for retirement soon, soon, soon.

WTFuss? No Workaround

The problem with POPCNT is that it’s absolutely, positively mandatory for 24H2 to work. Whereas the other impedimenta — e.g. TPM, Secure Boot, UEFI and so forth — have all been cleverly worked around, there’s no known (or likely) workaround for this gotcha. Thus, older PCs that have been shoehorned into Windows 11 upgrades will not be able to advance past the 23H2 upgrade level. Hence such fuss as has emerged in the blogosphere since this news came out last week.

My best guess that that less than 1% of PCs in the US (and perhaps 5-8% of PCs elsewhere, mostly outside the first world) might be subject to the POPCNT limitation. Just another sign that even here in Windows-World, time keeps marching on.


MS Provides “Complete” CPL File List

“What,” you may ask, “is a CPL file?” It stands for control panel item or component, and maps to something you can run inside the Control Panel hierarchy. You can see the top level of my Windows 10 hierarchy above, and a corresponding one from Windows 11 below. Though MS is working to replace CPL items with Settings elements, there are still a lot of CPLs around. In fact, MS provides complete CPL file list on one of its support pages. It’s called “How to run Control Panel tools by typing a command.”

Click image for full-size view (Windows 11 CP).

MS Provides “Complete” CPL File List: Use It!

Upon closer examination of this list, and comparisons with voidtools Everything output (search on “*.cpl”) I can see several limitations of this list. But for most of the items that do appear therein as actual .cpl references, they do provide quick access via PowerShell or the Command Prompt. That said two of the items — namely, the Fonts Folder and the Printers — simply tell readers to use corresponding folder structures.

OTOH, there are numerous items that aren’t on the list that do appear in the Control Panel window. That makes things interesting. You can also see that third parties can and do register items in the Control Panel. And the list is neither complete nor accurate when it comes to Windows 10 and 11. Let me lay things out, then explain…

Get It from a Table…

I built a table that shows item names, cpl file names (when present), and the name of the software item that launches. Some may surprise you: they sure surprised me!

Control Panel Item CPL filename Result in Windows 10/11
Accessibility options access.cpl not found (use Settings > Ease of Access)
Add New Hardware sysdm.cpl System Properties CPL (computer name tab)
Add/Remove Programs appwiz.cpl Add/Remove programs CPL
Date/Time Properties timedate.cpl Date and Time CPL
Display Properties desk.cpl Opens Settings > System > Display
Findfast control findfast.cpl Defunct (no longer available)
Fonts folder ==none== Visit C:\Windows\Fonts
Internet Properties inetcpl.cpl Opens Internet Properties (General tab)
Joystick Properties joy.cpl Opens Game Controllers CPL
Keyboard Properties main.cpl Opens Mouse Properties CPL
Microsoft Exchange mlcf632.cpl Defunct (no longer available)
Microsoft Mail wgpocpl.cpl Defunct (no longer available)
Modem Properties modem.cpl Defunct (no longer available)
Mouse Properties main.cpl Opens Mouse Properties CPL
Multimedia Properties mmsys.cpl Opens Sound CPL
Network Properties netcpl.cpl Not found (use Settings > Network & Internet)
Password Properties password.cpl Not found (use Settings > Accounts > Sign-in…)
PC Card main.cpl Opens Mouse Properties CPL (but defunct)
Power Management powercfg.cpl Opens Power Options CPL
Printers Folder ==none== Use Settings > Bluetooth & devices > Printers…
Regional Settings intl.cpl Region CPL
Scanners and Cameras sticpl.cpl Not found (use Settings > Bluetooth… > Printers…)
Sound Properties mmsys.cpl Sound CPL
System Properties sysdm.cpl System Properties (computer name tab)

What’s Interesting Here?

This file clearly shows its age with some items (especially Exchange and Mail stuff) long, long gone from Windows. The need to use Settings elements instead of CPLs shows the gradual shift-over from the latter to the former. It’s also interesting how many still work just as they always did.

Ahhhh, Windows. It’s always an education to dig into the details and see how older versions still have influence. But new forces (and designs) will inexorably push old stuff out of the way (e.g. PCMCIA or PC Card stuff). Interestingly the meta-data says this file was created in 2017 and last updated in 2021. That shows, and explains why some of its info is just plain out of date and thus, wrong.



Counting PCs versus Stars

The number of stars in the night sky might as well be infinite. We quite literally can’t count them all. But for the number of PCs in global use, we can do better. According to MS there are somewhere between 1 and 1.1 B Windows 10 PCs. Throw in another 300-400 M Windows 11 PCs. To be more accurate, MS calls them “monthly active users” which probably captures situations where one PC may host zero or more physical Windows instances, and zero or more Windows VMs, any of which must do something with an MS server in a 30-day period to get counted. But there’s more to counting PCs versus stars in the sky — namely, PCs running Mac OS and Linux.

Counting PCs versus Stars Takes More Than Windows

Copilot estimates the number of global PCs running Mac OS and Linux at around 300 M each. Thus, with the Windows global pop at somewhere between 1.3 and 1.5 B that puts the overall total at between 1.9 and 2.1 B. Sounds big, but consider that the same source (e.g. Copilot quoting Statista) estimates the global smartphone count at 6.8 B. That really puts things into perspective.

All this comes as prolog to yesterday’s coverage of a Canalys report — for instance, Martin Brinkmann’s item — that estimates up to 240M PCs may wind up getting junked after Windows 10 hits EOL on 10/14/2025. Personally, I think this is mere headline fodder. Many users who want to keep running older PCs will do so even if they don’t buy into Microsoft’s ESU (Extended Service Updates) program. Many will switch over to Linux instead.

Though some will undoubtedly get junked, I don’t think that means all such devices will wind up in landfills, either. But for those inclined to put them on the curb, I’d recommend finding a safer means and a better place for disposal. US-based readers should recall, please, that Goodwill accepts and disposes responsibly of e-waste, including PCs. And don’t forget to wipe their drives — thoroughly! — before passing them on to anyone else. If there’s no Goodwill in your area, call your local city or county trash pickup provider: they’ll probably know something useful. Cheers.