Category Archives: Troubleshooting

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.


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 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…



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!


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…


P16 Blows Up, Requires Clean Install

Wow! I took an unexpected detour yesterday. Upon rebooting my Lenovo P16 Mobile Workstation after CU KB5039302, it got stuck in perpetual Restart. After about an hour wasted on the spinning balls and apparently going nowhere, I forcibly rebooted the PC. Bad idea! Long story short: soon thereafter the P16 blows up, requires clean install to restore to working order. Sigh: let me explain…

Why P16 Blows Up, Requires Clean Install

I’ve seen my share of Windows crashes since the 3.1 days. This was one of the scariest. Indeed, it is the first one I can recall where even the Macrium Reflect Rescue Media couldn’t bring the system back from the dead. I could boot up the restore environment but the trackpad was MIA (fixable with an external mouse) as was the external NVMe drive where the restore image resides (not fixable at all).

So I downloaded a fresh Windows 11 23H2 ISO, turned off secure boot, and fired off a bootable UFD created using the MS MCT. That got the PC running again. But I still found myself woefully short of device drivers. A quick install of Lenovo Vantage and a set of updates later, that defect was remedied: I went from 20-odd “Unknown devices” in DevMgr to zero (0). Good!

Right now, I’ve just reinstalled Macrium Reflect, and am rebooting to be able to make a snapshot of the rebuilt system (and create new Rescue Media). After that I’ll try the lone pending update for the P16 and see if it finally goes through. My best guess is that something went sideways after that update. Indeed the P16 automatically rebuilt its BIOS when I did finally get the machine to reboot after the CU hung on me. So whatever affected the system, it was at a pretty low level.

Fingers Crossed, I Try Again…

With a new rescue disk, and a fresh image backup demonstrably at hand (see next screencap), I once again tried CU KB5039302.

P16 Blows Up, Requires Clean Install.exp-list

Today (6/26) there’s a fresh backup available!

Downloading takes some time . . . but eventually, it gets to installing . . . and about 20 minutes later (!) I’m ready to restart again,  with appendages overlapping for as much luck as I can get. So I fire off the restart and watch it count down (or up) . . . reboot . . . restart . . . spinning circle . . . and a second restart?! . . . SUCCESS!!!

That was officially weird, and I’m glad it’s behind me now.

The News Catches Up

This morning, I came across a story about KB5039302 at WindowsLatest. The title says it all Windows 11 KB5039302 breaks PCs, MS pulls the update. It specifically mentions the very “boot loop” that I describe earlier, and ties to nested virtualization. (I’m a heavy user of Hyper-V VMs on that PC so: no joke!)

The recommended fix is what I guess I should’ve done, rather than a clean install (though without trackpad drivers or access to USB-attached NVMe drives, things were challenging):

You must use the WinRE page to access the troubleshooting tools, remove the update, or do a clean install.

OK, now we know. But here in Windows-World, there’s always something around the corner looking to bite  you if it can. It certainly bit me! But that’s what Windows Insiders are for, I think . . .

Concluding Unscientific PostScript

I also understand now why the initial application of KB5039302 blew up on the P16, but why the post-clean-install upgrade worked. In the former case, Hyper-V and nested virtualization was already present and active. In the latter case, I didn’t enable Hyper-V and VMs until AFTER I’d applied the update. Turns out that was exactly the right thing to do. Better sometimes, indeed, to be lucky than good!


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.]


Forced Win10VM Upgrade Gets Stuck

This is pretty strange. I checked in on one of my Windows 10 VMs this morning, and found WU stuck part-way through a Windows 11 upgrade. This popped up, courtesy of toggling the familiar “Get the latest updates…” option in Settings > Windows Update. Alas, this forced Win10VM upgrade gets stuck. I’m trying some things to undo that state. Bear with me, as I report on what things I try…

Before I start introducing repair maneuvers and upgrade counters, let me explain I’m running this VM deliberately to check and test Windows 10 stuff.  Thus, I have ZERO desire to upgrade it to Windows 11, even though I know full well that I could if I wanted to.

Fixing Forced Win10VM Upgrade Gets Stuck

The excellent and usually reliable batch file from “Reset_Reregister_Windows_Update_Components….bat” returned WU in the VM to a normal appearance. Then I ran “Check for updates…” While watching the sliding balls, I wondered if I’d find this VM in the same situation as before. Not yet: it offered a routine Defender update, plus KB5037849. I let things roll.

Interesting results ensued. Defender download threw a 0x80070643 error.  A quick jump into Windows Security > Virus & threat protection > Check for updates showed that everything was already up-to-date. Subsequent “Retry” attempt dropped the same error anyway. Odd…

Back in WU, KB5037849 went through download and install. Eventually it got to the “Restart now” button, which I pressed. I’m pretty sure the Security Update error was bogus because of internal status in Windows Security, so off it went…

Beta Channel Sign-Up Effected!

When I got back into Windows Update, I found a successful transition to the CU, but an error report on the Security Update, to wit:

But because another visit to Windows Security showed the same update was still current, I’m seeing this as a Windows Update problem, not as an issue with security updates on this VM. So I jumped over to Windows Insider Program and signed up for the newly re-opened Beta Channel for Windows 10. Indeed, that was the whole reason I started down this rockier-than-expected road.

Then I restarted again, to see what would happen on the next go-round. WU came back clean, and I’m opted into the Beta Channel. Success, but without some oddities along the way. Another magic day in Windows-World…




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!


PowerToys Throws One-Time 24H2 RunDLL Error

When I logged into my newly-upgraded Windows 11 24H2 laptop this morning, I couldn’t help but notice something new. It’s reproduced as the lead-in graphic: it shows a missing app as the focus of a scheduled task. Upon digging into Task Scheduler, I learned that PowerToys throws one-time 24H2 RunDLL error as shown. But after ending the task, then rebooting, it doesn’t come up again. Weird!

Fixing PowerToys Throws One-Time 24H2 RunDLL Error

I right-clicked on the PowerToys entry, then right-clicked the PcaWallpaperAppDetect Task in the “All Running Tasks” pane overlaid at center right. Now, I can’t make it come back, so I can only show you where it was (I swear!). You can, however, find discussion and examples at Microsoft Answers, where I also posted info about the very fix I’ve just explained.

PowerToys Throws One-Time 24H2 RunDLL Error.Task Scheduler

I right-clicked the PcaWallpaperAppDetect task, then select “End task” from the pop-up.[Click image for full-size view.]

I was a little surprised by the outcome of my exercise. I’d expected the task to return after a reboot. But it did not, as you can see from the preceding screencap, captured after I rebooted the only 24H2 Preview PC I’ve currently got running. Go figure!

Given MS Answers Action, Going Thru Channels

Because numerous other folks are reporting the same RunDLL error online, I’m letting @ClintRutkas know about this. He’s the leader of the PowerToys dev team. That teamshas shown itself extraordinarily responsive to such reports in the past. My best guess is that they’ll fix it pronto!


Black Screen Says “Welcome Back!”

OK, then. I’ve been away from the office on a family vacation to Nashville, TN, since May 6. When I sat down at my desk this morning to reboot my work routine, I  found myself literally rebooting my production desktop to regain access to Windows. With tongue planted firmly in my cheek I’ll describe this as black screen says “Welcome Back!”

Recovering from Black Screen Says “Welcome Back!”

Now that I think about it, I probably should have tried the old graphics driver restart key combo Winkey+CTRL+Shift+B before rebooting the system. Why do I  say this? As you can see in the lead-in graphic, Reliability Monitor shows that forced restart as an “Unexpected shutdown…” This means Windows itself was still working on that PC.

Had I simply restarted the graphics driver, chances are thus pretty good that my desktop would’ve returned to normal operation without a reboot. But, after leaving the machine alone for 8 days, I wasn’t worried about impacts on open files or the like.

Thus, I just went for the hammer when a pair of tweezers might have done the trick. Yet another way of observing that I’m back at work, and ready to tackle the joys and trials of getting things done here in Windows-World.

What Have I Missed?

That’s the question I’ll be seeking to answer over the next couple of days as I ease back into my daily routine. I’m happy to say that I see only a couple of “burning issues” in my inbox this morning. I’m also happy to say that the rest of the PC fleet is still working like it should. Thus I should be able to get back into the groove without further delays or disruptions.

Stay tuned, though. I could always be wrong, and have to hare off after other Windows issues. Should that happen I’ll report back here…