ISSUE 17.50.F • 2020-12-21


The AskWoody Newsletter

In this issue

SURVEYS: The new management wants to get to know you

BEST OF THE LOUNGE: Warning! Malicious browser extensions

Additional articles in the PLUS issue

LANGALIST: The 30 troubleshooters built into Windows 10

WINDOWS 10: Windows 10: Looking back at 2020 — and looking ahead 1o 2021

BEST UTILITIES: Freeware Spotlight — Zer0

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The new management wants to get to know you

Susan Bradley

By Susan Bradley

As most of you should know by now, Woody Leonhard has retired from AskWoody operations, and I’ve taken over the reins.

Transitions of this level are an excellent time to take stock of where we’ve been and where we’re going.

So I’d like to get to know more about you, the AskWoody member. And the best way to start that process is with a survey. I’d love to learn about the technology you’re using, what tech you’re interested in, and how the AskWoody newsletter can help you navigate our digital world.AskWoody survey

The survey — AskWoody newsletter – what do YOU want? — is quick and simple; it should take no longer than a few minutes. The survey is open to all, whether you read the paid newsletter or the free edition. Again, the object of the survey is to help me, our newsletter editor, and our contributors provide the information you need.

What would I like to know about you? Here’s a preview:

What systems and devices do you use? We’ll start with the operating systems you use every day. Clearly, more and more of us are no longer tied solely to Windows. We might use one OS for our work computing, another for a tablet, and possibly a third on our phone. (I see nearly as many complaints and confusion about smartphones as about Windows.) Knowing what hardware and software you regularly use will help us plan the breadth and depth of platform coverage.

Your thoughts on the paid newsletter: I ask a few open-ended questions about what you like about the paid newsletter — and what we might improve. Feedback on these questions is especially important to both the AskWoody staff and our contributors.

I also ask you to “stack rank” some of our recent articles — which you find most useful. Don’t worry, our feelings won’t be hurt if your favorites don’t match ours. The newsletter is for your benefit — although we learn a lot from it, too. You may also add topics you’d like to see covered in more depth (or that you feel we’ve neglected).

Is the timing of the newsletter right? From time to time, we’ve had discussions about the frequency and schedule of the newsletter. Back in the Windows Secrets days, we sent it out Thursday evenings — mostly to match up with Patch Tuesdays. But updating Windows and Office has become somewhat more complex, so we chose Monday for the AskWoody editions.

Does that schedule work for you? Would another day be better? (Wednesdays and Thursdays are not practical, due to our coverage of Patch Tuesday releases.)

How about frequency? We currently send out an issue every week, with a few breaks through the year. (We like to take summer vacations as much as anyone else.) Is that schedule too frequent or not often enough? Would publishing twice a month help reduce your mailbox clutter? If you have some other format, schedule, and/or frequency that you think would be better, let us know!

Technology consumer protection: I know that security and privacy are important topics for AskWoody subscribers. But I’ll let you in on a secret. Currently, Windows Secrets founder Brian Livingston publishes a newsletter on fintech (financial technology). However, he’s willing to join AskWoody as a contributor focusing on personal protection — such as avoiding hackers and scammers on the Web and protecting yourself from those who would do you harm.

Are you interested in topics related to online financial security? Let me know in the survey!

The free newsletter: I’d like to know what you like best and least about the abbreviated free edition, and why you prefer the free newsletter over the more comprehensive paid version. Keep in mind that free subscribers are often missing out on popular columns such as LangaList and Patch Watch. And our Master Patch List is offered only to paid members. AskWoody uses a pay-what-you-want model, so the bar for becoming an AskWoody supporter is low.

General feedback: This might be the most important question in the survey. Use this open-ended comment box for any specific thoughts, suggestions, and constructive criticisms you’d like to leave with us. This information can go a long way toward creating a newsletter — and website — that’s useful to all AskWoody subscribers.

How do you apply technology? The next series of questions asks about your employment status, the type of work you do (or don’t), and your level of technology expertise. This will help with balancing our coverage of “personal” versus “work” computing. I’d also like to know what other sources you use for technology assistance and news.

Getting a bit personal: The final question asks your age. If you find this annoying or simply not something you wish to reveal, feel free to skip it. But it’s another valuable data point for helping us get to know you.

If you’re about my age, you’re old enough to remember Windows 3.1, BASIC, Lotus 123, pfs: Write, and Word Perfect. But you’re still young enough to have grown up with technology as a major part of your life. Younger people will have very different tech perspectives and preferences.

Making AskWoody an even better resource: We know that there are many websites devoted to technology news and information. But we like to think that AskWoody is different. We strive to cut through the massive amount of information clutter and provide concise and accurate help through a combination of fresh posts, forum assistance, and the newsletter. As our tagline says: “Not bull.”

This survey is an important step toward making our site and newsletter even better. So please help us out: take a few minutes to fill out our simple online survey form. And add any additional thoughts you might have using the comment link below.

Thank you for your ongoing support!

Da Prima Susan Bradley

Questions or comments? Feedback on this article is always welcome in the AskWoody Lounge!

In real life, Susan Bradley is still a Microsoft Security MVP and IT wrangler at a California accounting firm, where she manages a fleet of servers, virtual machines, workstations, iPhones, a cloud or two and other digital devices. She also does forensic investigations of computer systems for the firm. To that extensive resume, Susan has added the title of Da Prima Boss of, where she ensures that you get honest technology information and advice.

Best of the Lounge

Warning! Malicious browser extensions

As we’ve known for some time, Web browsers are a known source of malware. MVP Microfix has posted a list of potentially malicious extensions revealed by Avast researchers (more info). The affected browsers include Chrome and MS Edge. No word yet on Firefox.

When was the last time you ran through your installed extensions and add-ons, looking for unfamiliar or outdated versions? And is validating extensions feasible or even desirable? Drop in and offer your thoughts — after you check all your browsers.


As if 2020 didn’t have enough problems, we are now dealing with the SolarWinds debacle. The company’s widely used — and compromised — software has allowed malicious hacks of government agencies and many businesses — reportedly including Microsoft. Da Boss Susan Bradley launched a long discussion about the event and its possible consequences.


When troubleshooting Windows issues, Sysinternal’s Process Explorer is a powerful and venerable tool. And VirusTotal is highly valued for flagging malware-infested files. Unfortunately, the VirusTotal link in PE has stopped working, according to multiple forum members. Let’s hope this is a temporary breakdown.


Sometimes, forum threads take wild detours. Lounger doriel posted a hypothetical dialog with Microsoft and posed the question of whether it might pass the Turing test. Shortly after Da Boss Kirsty gave a succinct definition of the test, the conversation veered into the pros and cons of … Windows Aero.


Windows’ chkdsk is one of the most fundamental and important troubleshooting tools in the OS. So when a Windows update impacts the applet, it’s big news. Da Boss Susan Bradley posted a link to a Born’s Tech article that describes how chkdsk can damage solid-state drives after users install Win10 20H2’s December cumulative update. Take heed!


After updating to Version 87.04280.88, Lounger 7ProSP1‘s Chromebook started randomly locking up. So far, silence from the forum. Have you had issues with Chromebook updates? A fellow Lounger needs help.


Many of us love the latest technology; others, not so much. Most of us would assume that everyone is happy with a smartphone. And we would be wrong — especially if an individual finds both Apple and Google unpalatable. MVP Ascaris posted a minor dissertation on the ugly side of smartphones — and purchasing the latest-and-greatest in general. Fellow skeptics chimed in.

If you’re not already a Lounge member, use the quick registration form to sign up for free.

Stories in this week’s PAID AskWoody Plus Newsletter
Become an ASKWOODY PLUS member today!


Fred Langa


The 30 troubleshooters built into Windows 10

By Fred Langa

A Bluetooth keyboard problem leads to a wider discussion of Win10’s numerous troubleshooter tools.

These applets are a follow-on to old-school Fix it and Easy Fix solutions and to Web-based diagnostics. Win10’s built-in troubleshooters are always available, right at your fingertips.

Also: What to do if the troubleshooters fail!

Richard Hay


Windows 10: Looking back at 2020 — and looking ahead to 2021

By Richard Hay

2020 sure didn’t turn out like anything we anticipated on New Year’s Day — not by a very long shot.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdown that started in March, working from home or other remote locations has become the norm for millions of people. Moreover, IT managers and support staff really earned their pay, setting up work-from-home connections. This service required new solutions for common tasks, such as onboarding new employees — remotely.

And it didn’t hit just IT. Consider the challenges of landing a new job and learning the ropes in a new environment. Now imagine doing all that over the phone or online!

Deanna McElveen

Best Utilities

Freeware Spotlight — Zer0

By Deanna McElveen

This is a busy time of year, so this review will be quick.

As with many people who work on computers, I am a bit paranoid. By now you know that I own a computer store, and almost every day I hear about laptop thefts from cars, homes, gyms, and so forth. The tales of larceny usually include horror stories about sensitive information that’s now in the hands of the malefactors.

With that in mind, I went looking for a quick and super-simple way to permanently delete specific files on the systems I was repairing/maintaining. Eventually, I discovered that KC Softwares had just what I needed. Zer0 is portable, free, and exceptionally easy to use. Win! Win! Win!

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