• Born to fail?

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    ISSUE 21.08 • 2024-02-19

    BEN’S WORKSHOP

    Ben Myers

    By Ben Myers

    A beguiling and captivating laptop showed up here with a bad combination of RAM and SSD.

    One of my clients recently traded in a Dell Inspiron 15-7568, a laptop with a brilliant 15-inch, 4K (3840×2160) resolution touch screen; eight gigabytes of memory; and a 256GB solid-state drive (SSD).

    Nice, but troubled.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (21.08.0, 2024-02-19).
    This story also appears in our public Newsletter.

  • Can you use a free password manager, or must you pay?

    PUBLIC DEFENDER

    Brian Livingston

    By Brian Livingston

    We all face security threats on the Internet. A common recommendation by tech pundits is this: at each website where you register, enter a different username-password combination.

    Remembering all those combos — especially if you make up random strings, such as 6!p#o&a0%9b — almost forces you to install software called a password manager. But do you really have to?

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (21.08.0, 2024-02-19).

  • Microsoft’s groundhog — Copilot

    PATCH WATCH

    Susan BradleyBy Susan Bradley

    Will you see it, or won’t you?

    In the United States and Canada, on a day in early February, a certain rodent is observed emerging from its burrow. Based upon an old Pennsylvania Dutch superstition, if the groundhog sees its shadow, it retreats into the ground for six more weeks, signaling that much more wintry weather.

    I feel a bit like this with Microsoft’s release of Copilot — I never know whether a machine is going to see it or not.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (21.08.0, 2024-02-19).

  • Who are you? (2024 edition)

    EDITORIAL

    Will Fastie

    By Will Fastie

    Here are a few things we learned from this year’s reader survey.

    First, many thanks to the very large number of readers who took the time to complete our 2024 reader survey. Your response is very gratifying and greatly appreciated.

    There are several reasons we do these annual surveys. Of greatest importance is making sure we understand the nature of your use of technology, which directs the content we produce. We also want to know a bit about you and your background — again, so we can gauge the level to which we write.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (21.08.0, 2024-02-19).

  • Review your notifications

    When you purchase a new Windows 11 computer – especially one that wasn’t manually built by you but purchased from an OEM vendor, you want to look for all of the “upsells”. In the System/Notifications, look for the other apps and other vendors that have preset to give you notifications.

    Case in point my Windows 11 Home test laptop purchased “AS IS” from an OEM vendor comes with notifications turned on to “upsell you” to Dropbox.

    The other day I saw someone in Enterprise complain that new HP computers were coming shipped with Wolf security and wondering if that bloat could be removed with Intune or Autopilot.

    Bottom line anytime you get a new computer, review what’s installed and rip out accordingly.

    And for the record “bloat” has long been a problem in the Windows ecosystem.

  • Master Patch List as of February 13, 2024

    Happy Valentine’s day and Happy Post Patch day – or rather the wait and see week.

    I’ve updated the Master Patch list for the February updates.  I’ll be updating the page for any known issues or issues that we are tracking.  Still seeing failures on Windows 10 and KB5034441 which fails to install with error code 0x80070643.  That has not been fixed.

    Consumers: At this time I only want you to install browser updates.

    Businesses: You’ll want to install Exchange updates for your on premise mail servers NOW.  Exchange 2016 – you must run a script.  Exchange 2019 has a patch. Make sure you read this post.

    Mind you at this time I still have not given the go ahead and strongly recommend that you do not install updates at this time. But I know some of you are testing updates at this time. The full details will be in Monday’s Plus newsletter.

    As always, thank you all for supporting the cause! Remember we use the “name your price” model where you can choose how much you will pay for  a membership . Plus membership gives you access and if you donate $50 or more you’ll get a special code to enable text messages sent to your phone each time the Master Patch List gets updated and when I change the MS-DEFCON level.  More details in Monday’s newsletter.  You are missing out if you don’t sign up. All content is human made with our own blood, sweat, tears, fingers and brain power and 100% AI free.  Therefore, if I’ve fat fingered any KB numbers or if you have any questions, as always post in the forums and I’ll follow up!

  • February 2024 patches for Windows

    Ready or not, here comes the February updates for Windows.

    Will we see a fix for our  KB5034441 for Windows 10 22H2 and in KB5034440 for Windows 11 woes? (so far, the answer is no)

    What we will see is “Highlights for Windows 11, versions 22H2 & 23H2 (cont.) •The Copilot in Windows icon will appear on the right side of the system tray on the taskbar. Also, the display of Show desktop at the rightmost corner of the taskbar will be off by default.”

    Ugh. And double Ugh.

    I’ll be adding more links to this post as I digest the info.

    And of course it’s a “dribbled” change

    • Note Windows 11 devices will get this new functionality at different times. Some of these new features roll out gradually using controlled feature rollout (CFR) to consumers.

    Remember if you get Copilot and don’t want it, we’ve got your back here and here.

    Grrrrrrrrrr and double grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

    Zero day blog on the updates released today.

    Exchange getting patched again today. SQL client fixes released in the OS patches so check those line of business database connections.  Not seeing any automated patch for the Windows RE issues. Office and specifically Outlook is getting fixed for a preview pane security issue.  Defender for endpoint getting fixes for zero day that led to malware being installed.

  • Replacing WordPad (and more) with Office Online

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    ISSUE 21.07 • 2024-02-12

    MICROSOFT 365

    Peter Deegan

    By Peter Deegan

    Anyone can view and even edit a Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or OneNote file on a computer by using Office in a browser. It’s free for anyone.

    Word for the Web is Microsoft’s recommended replacement for the soon-to-be-deleted WordPad app in Windows. The browser-based apps are worth keeping in mind. They let you keep working with Word, Excel, or PowerPoint docs if Office isn’t working or you’re at another computer. All you need is:

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (21.07.0, 2024-02-12).
    This story also appears in our public Newsletter.

  • How to link your smartphone with Windows 11

    WINDOWS 11

    Lance Whitney

    By Lance Whitney

    Connecting your iPhone or Android phone to Windows 11 lets you make phone calls, send texts, and view notifications directly from your PC.

    As an iPhone owner and Windows user, I’d like to be able to access my phone from my computer at times. Maybe I want to make or answer a call, or send or view a text message, but my phone isn’t handy. Or maybe speaking or chatting with someone feels easier when I’m already using my PC for other tasks. Whatever the scenario, this is a capability I often need. And it’s all doable with the right tools.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (21.07.0, 2024-02-12).

  • Sandboxie-Plus — A safe place for apps to run

    FREEWARE SPOTLIGHT

    Deanna McElveen

    By Deanna McElveen

    Whether trimming the rose bushes, pulling weeds in the garden, or watering the hanging pots, and when needing to take my eyes off my tiny twin girls, I just plopped them down in the sandbox.

    It’s hard to do real-world damage to a castle when it’s only a castle in a sandbox. You can treat programs the same way.

    In the sense of software, a sandbox is a way of running software in a protected space (virtualized) so that it can run as normal but can’t do any harm to the host computer.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (21.07.0, 2024-02-12).

  • The annoyances of a new computer

    WINDOWS 11

    Susan Bradley

    By Susan Bradley

    There is a dirty little secret in corporate technology — we don’t care about your operating system.

    If it misbehaves, we blow it off. If your computer doesn’t work, we issue you a new one. Don’t like that keyboard? Throw it away. Get a new release of Windows? We redeploy the entire operating system, using one of our various methodologies.

    It’s my opinion that this mentality — that the desktop doesn’t matter and can be easily wiped away — persists inside the Microsoft organization.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (21.07.0, 2024-02-12).

  • Want to see the world darker?

    This question came up the other day – someone wanted to know if we could offer a button to flip the site to dark mode. Do you know that you can do it with an Extension? Edge, Chrome, Firefox, Brave, etc, whatever is your favorite browser – just go to the extension store and look for a reputable extension. What’s a reputable extension? One that has lots of users, and good reviews. The one I tried out is called darkreader.org

    The one application that I never do dark mode on is Excel. The dark borders do not work with the white cells. I also recommend good light bulbs when working with computers. I prefer a brighter daylight lightbulb when working with computers. Mind you I work with documents AND computers so often I’m reading tax documents or other information.

    What about you? Do you use tools or techniques to deal with contrast issues?