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ISSUE 18.10.F • 2021-03-15

In this issue

ASKWOODY: Woody Leonhard – A new life in paradise

BEST OF THE LOUNGE: March patching madness begins

Additional articles in the PLUS issue

LANGALIST: Windows’ semi-secret “back door” still exists!

PUBLIC DEFENDER: A $1,000 hot technology? It’s quite a steal.

LINUX: Windows and Linux interoperability

PATCH WATCH: March madness drives printers to blue screen

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Woody Leonhard – A new life in paradise

Chris Husted

By Chris Husted

Is he having fun yet?

Late last year, after 28 years of publishing everything everyone needed to know about Windows, esteemed AskWoody founder Woody Leonhard retired. He disappeared from our screens, but never drifted far from our thoughts. That voice we had grown accustomed to, calling out Windows for its shortfalls – sometimes with a roar, sometimes a grumble, but never a whimper – had gone.

While Susan Bradley has picked up the mantle as publisher of AskWoody, with Will Fastie as editor in chief and a host of respected contributors continuing to shine light on those critical issues that can bring your computer down, it has been hard to ignore the silence. Where did Woody go? What is life after AskWoody like? Could someone so immersed in his field for so long ever truly step back from the keyboard?

The answers are found in an apartment at the southern end of Phuket, Thailand, more than 9,000 miles from his home in Tennessee. It is here that Woody is doing his version of taking it slow, enjoying time with his wife Addie and son Andy, who was born in Phuket 10 years ago.

“We’re waiting for the COVID situation in the States to improve. Many folks know that I lived in Phuket from 2000 to 2014 – both and my son were born here – so it’s great being back, especially without the crowds,” says Woody.

Yet tech and being connected are never far from his mind. “Internet in Thailand is outstanding. I get 100 Mbps over Wi-Fi (fiber optic), 20 Mbps with 4G – tethered. 5G is widely available, but I don’t have a phone yet that can handle it. Even remote parts of Thailand, such as my mother-in-law’s farm in the very rural south, get good-to-excellent coverage, and have for years,” he points out.

The move has meant some changes to his devices at hand, but Woody still likes his creature comforts from home. “Before I left the US, I spent most of my time on a trusty Dell XPS-15 – but I was doing more and more on a Chromebook and on my Samsung phone. Unfortunately, there are very few Chromebooks in Thailand, so I’m back to the XPS-15 (great laptop, by the way), my ancient Das Keyboard 4 (don’t leave home without it), and Logitech MX Master.

“One new addition to the family: I bought a 34-inch super-wide curved screen monitor, from Xiaomi, on sale out here for just over $300. My eyes have thanked me for the 3440 x 1440 ever since,” he says with a glint in his eye.

Windows has been the heart and soul of Woody’s sharp focus for nigh on three decades. Asked, “Now that you’ve had a chance to step back a bit, what do you think about Windows?” his reply is simple: “Meh. I use it, but I don’t like it.

“Microsoft’s been dishing out more of the same-old, same-old, with broken patches and truly insipid new features that I’ll never use. Windows 10 is in a bloated downward spiral, and has been for years. Yeah, I’m the prototypical grouchy old man yelling at the TikTok kids to get off the lawn. It hasn’t brought much improvement yet.

“I read that Panos is ‘pumped’ about the next Windows – Win11 or whatever MS will call the next version of the last version of Windows – but his ‘pumped’ picks usually leave me snoring. Great showman. Not much to show for it.

“At least I’m not taking care of an on-premises Exchange Server. Man, those folks got hung out to dry last week,” he grimaces.

Looking back at the AskWoody handover last November, Woody is a happy bunny. “I like what Susan’s doing with the site. She’s reaching out to cover more ground and bring in a more diverse group. That’s good for everybody.

“Susan and Will are doing a fantastic job with the Newsletter. I couldn’t believe they convinced Brian Livingston to come back. Fred Langa’s at the top of his form. Max Oppenheimer brings some real legal chops to tech subjects. Susan has picked up the Patch Watch/MS-DEFCON baton with technical savvy I could never approach.”

However, adjusting to retirement can take time. Asked simply “What’s next?”, Woody replies, “I wake up every morning and wonder the same thing.”

“I’m taking some downtime right now – catching up with the family, tutoring my son, soaking up the sun. I still handle the Customer Support line at AskWoody, but I don’t even try to tackle technical questions anymore,” he admits.

But his new life is presenting new opportunities. “Down the line, I’d like to do a lot more traveling. I’ve been to quite a few places and would like to see a few thousand more. The world is changing so quickly! Places I visited 30 or 40 years ago are completely different now. That fascinates me,” says Woody.

“We’ll move back to Tennessee, COVID willing an’ the creek don’ rise.

“Beyond that, who knows?”

Until then, old habits are hard to break. “Most of all I miss being in the middle of things, helping normal customers push back against Microsoft’s wayward ways. I’ve spent several decades as a self-styled consumer advocate, and it’s hard standing back and letting other folks fight the battles. But the shift from combatant to spectator was inevitable, and probably overdue,” says Woody.

“I’m very heartened by the fact that many – perhaps most – Microsoft customers now know that the company is fallible and that people have a right to expect better. There’s now a formidable array of talented geeks who routinely hold Microsoft’s gilded feet to the fire. Ten years ago, that wasn’t the case.

“It remains to be seen if MS can rise to the challenge.”

Woody and a Khao Lak sunset
Woody at the Bay View Cafe, Phang Nga, Thailand.  Photo ©:2021 by Andy Leonhard. All rights reserved.

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

Chris Husted, who once upon a time was a junior computer column writer, is currently Executive Editor at The Phuket News. He has spent 20 years working in news in Phuket, with a one-year hiatus as a staff editor for a small national newspaper on Borneo.

Best of the Lounge

March patching madness begins

This was the “Susan, all Susan, all the time Susan” week in the Lounge. Updates were on everyone’s mind.

Her Patch Watch column from last week generated the most conversation by far. But just two days after sending out a somewhat routine AskWoody Plus Alert announcing MS-DEFCON 2, Susan issued an emergency elevation to MS-DEFCON 1 when severe problems with printing were discovered.

With one exception, no other forum topics generated this kind of interest and engagement, making this week’s list a short one.


Here’s the exception, obscured a bit by the title. Susan writes a plea for all of us to help those with less technical savvy navigate their way to COVID vaccination lists. Members shared their own stories.

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


Fred Langa

Windows’ semi-secret “back door” still exists!

By Fred Langa

All current Windows, including Win10 20H2, contain an old, sneaky workaround that lets you log in to a PC even if the usernames and passwords are scrambled, unknown, or forgotten.


Sandra Henry-Stocker

Windows and Linux interoperability

By Sandra Henry-Stocker

If you, like me, have both Windows and Linux systems on your network, you don’t have to walk from one desk to another to work on each of them in an isolated fashion.


Brian Livingston

A $1,000 hot technology? It’s quite a steal.

By Brian Livingston

Every technology has unintended consequences, but this is ridiculous.

Essential elements in the devices we use every day — lithium, platinum, palladium, rhodium, basic semiconductors — are soaring in price as demand outstrips the facilities we humans have built to extract and produce them.


Susan Bradley

March madness drives printers to blue screen

By Susan Bradley

The month of March is not starting off well for those of us who patch Windows 10 machines.
Nothing like the dreaded blue screen of death to get one’s attention. And why?


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