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  • FAQ: AskWoody, Windows Secrets, Subscriptions and ongoing database clashes

    Posted on January 14th, 2019 at 10:44 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    This morning’s release of the first AskWoody Plus Newsletter has brought a flood of questions. I’m answering them all at, but there are some recurring themes that I figure deserve a FAQ. I’ll update this list as the questions roll in.

    Q: What’s happening?

    We’re taking the Windows Secrets Newsletter subscriber list, which is indexed by email address, and moving it to a much more stable email system known as MailChimp. (The homegrown Windows Secrets Newsletter system was notoriously unstable, as many of you will attest.) At the same time, we’re using a WordPress add-in to manage subscriptions. The WordPress add-in depends on AskWoody usernames.

    We’re sending out newsletters to both (1) folks who had Windows Secrets Newsletter accounts and (2) folks who have the new AskWoody Plus accounts. It’s dueling database time.

    Q: Will you honor my payment to Windows Secrets?

    Yes. Absolutely.

    Q: I paid by PayPal, but it said I was set up for recurring payments.

    PayPal and the AskWoody ordering system have a weird relationship. When you make a donation, PayPal sets up an automatic payment, pays the bill, then immediately discontinues the automatic payment. It makes no sense, but that’s how it works.

    If you check your PayPal account, there won’t be a recurring payment.

    I receive email notifications each time the auto payment is set up, when the account is charged, and when auto payment is turned off. If you’re concerned that PayPal has you on the hook for auto-renewals, write to me at and tell me your PayPal account name (usually your email address). I’ll look it up just to make sure.

    I apologize. I’m seriously thinking about dropping PayPal support for just this reason!

    Q: I have an active Windows Secrets subscription, but I’m getting renewal notices.

    Usually that’s because the WSN data coming in isn’t complete. Any number of possible causes. The best solution, though, is to get you manually moved over to, and pick up your subscription from there. Once you’ve registered here — you need an email address different from the one you use for Windows Secrets — write to me at and we can make the switch manually.

    I hope to have an automated way to do all of that shortly. Will keep you posted.

    Q: When I went to register on AskWoody, I was notified that my email address was already in use. How do I get around this?

    The email address you use for the Windows Secrets Newsletter has been moved over to the AskWoody user database. Dueling databases. The easiest solution is to register on this site (use the Register link in the upper right corner) using any different email address you have. You’ll need to respond to a verification email sent to that different address.

    Once you’ve registered here, you can change your email address to anything you like. To change your email address (or password, for that matter), click on your picture in the upper right corner of this page, then click on Edit. 

    Q: I have a lifetime Windows Secrets Newsletter subscription. How do I get it switched over?

    Gotcha covered. With a lifetime subscription, you’ll get the AskWoody Plus Newsletters forever, but switching over to a Plus Membership (yes, lifetime, for free) will get you all of the new benefits. It’ll go faster if you first Register on this site and set up a username. Then write to me at with your AskWoody username and we can make the switch manually.

    Q: I created an AskWoody username that’s the same as my Windows Secrets Newsletter username — which is to say, an email address.

    Not a good idea. Using your email address as a username means that any time you post on AskWoody, everybody can see your email address — and that’s not good for a zillion reasons.

    Best bet is to register a new AskWoody username (don’t use an email address!) using any different email address you have. You’ll need to respond to a verification email sent to that different address.

    Once you’ve registered here, you can change your email address to anything you like. To change your email address, click on your picture in the upper right corner of this page, then click on Edit. 

    Q: What do Windows Secrets loungers use for user name and password for accessing AskWoody? I tried my Windows Secrets user name and password, and it doesn’t work!

    We haven’t yet migrated the Windows Secrets Lounge over to the AskWoody Lounge. That’ll be another huge effort, with two additional dueling databases.

    Just to add to the fun ‘n games, the Windows Secrets Lounge passwords won’t carry over to the AskWoody site. They’re incompatible – and I wouldn’t want to be moving passwords around anyway.

    For now, feel free to register a new account on AskWoody. Ultimately, when we move the Windows Secrets Lounge over to AskWoody, I hope to have a relatively simple way to combine your old account with your new account.

    Q: Wait a sec. You’re covering

    Yep. I learned a long time ago that the best way to understand a system is to respond to questions and complaints. Until the dust settles, I’m tackling all of the questions personally. I really believe in this project.

  • AskWoody Plus Newsletter 16.1.0 – Now open under old management

    Posted on January 14th, 2019 at 08:19 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    We’ve just sent out the first AskWoody Plus Newsletter to Plus Members.

    For a limited time (which is to say, until we get the hooks built into this web site), everybody can take a look, even if you haven’t signed up for Plus Membership. Mosey on over here to see:

    Tracey Capen‘s welcome, and a description of how we’re rebuilding Windows Secrets Newsletter from the ground up.

    Woody’s Windows Watch which asks whether you’d be willing to pay for a monthly subscription to Windows. It’s a complex question. What do you think?

    Fred Langa’s LangaList with down-to-earth answers to questions about Windows activation keys, a dying hard drive, and Microsoft Office alternatives. Have questions? Answers? Check out the discussion here.

    Susan Bradley’s Patch Watch proudly nominates Windows 10 version 1803 as the buggiest version of Windows ever — quite a distinction. There’s also a full rundown of all the latest patches, what’s broken, and what’s still limping along. Join the discussion here.

    For those of you who used to read Windows Secrets Newsletter, that should sound like a familiar roll call. The world has changed since the old team last appeared, and the new AskWoody Plus Newsletter takes it all in stride, dishing out help and ministrations without kowtowing to the folks in Redmond.

    I’m amazed at how far this team has come in less than six weeks. It’s all rough around the edges, and there are numerous glitches driving me nuts, but the foundation is solid and our intentions are noble.

    If you like it, sign up for an AskWoody Plus Membership. Remember that we work on the donation model — you pay as much as you think it’s worth. (And you can always donate again!)

  • AskWoody Plus Newsletter 16.1.0 Woody’s Windows Watch: Would you pay to rent Windows?

    Posted on January 14th, 2019 at 08:18 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Before you jump in with a knee-jerk reaction, realize that there are some compelling arguments.

    What do you think?

  • Fred Langa: AskWoody Plus Newsletter 16.1.0 LangaList — Windows activation keys, Rescuing a dying hard drive, Best free Office alternatives

    Posted on January 14th, 2019 at 08:15 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Fred’s back with the best LangaList in years. And, yes, the denizens of AskWoody land use lots of alternatives to Office.

    Check out the latest LangaList and let us know what you think right here.

  • Patch Lady: AskWoody Plus Newsletter 16.1.0 Patch Watch — DHCP bug, Non-security Flash updates, Lingering problems with Windows updates, Office and more

    Posted on January 14th, 2019 at 08:10 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    For a limited time — until I get the AskWoody site built out — AskWoody Plus Newsletters are available to everyone. Read the latest, and tell us about your patching problems here.

  • A special thanks to last year’s AskWoody donors

    Posted on January 10th, 2019 at 11:41 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    We’re almost ready to roll out the AskWoody Plus membership system. Still have one technical hurdle — a bug in one of our partner’s signup routines — but it’s getting there.

    Before we go into high gear, I wanted to give a special shout-out to those of you who contributed to AskWoody last year, or earlier this year. Your name (or an Anonymous hash mark) should appear on the Thanks, Patrons! list — and if you donated before the 3rd edition of Windows 10 All-In-One For Dummies went to press, your name’s also on the thanks page in the book.

    For those of you who donated in the past year, I’m offering a free one-year AskWoody Plus Membership. I’ll have more details about Plus later this week, but for now suffice it to say that it includes a one-year subscription to the AskWoody Plus Newsletter (a revamped and greatly expanded version of the Windows Secrets Newsletter) plus a one-year subscription to AskWoody Plus Alerts (the email notification many of you have requested that goes out when there’s an important news story). We’ll have more benefits, but those are the immediate ones.

    If you donated to AskWoody in the past year, and you want to claim your free one-year AskWoody Plus Membership, here’s what you need to do:

    • If you have an AskWoody username and password, use it to log on. (If you forgot your password, use the Lost Password link in the upper right corner.)
    • If you don’t have an AskWoody username and password, create a new one using the Register link in the upper right corner of this page. (You’ll have to respond to an email that confirms your email address.)

    Once you’re logged on, click on this link:

    At that point, you can choose any contribution amount and click Join Plus Now.

    Up at the top, where it says Have a coupon? click on Click here to enter your code.

    Enter the coupon code


    Then click Apply coupon. It’s a 100% discount coupon.

    IMPORTANT: Make sure you use a “real” email address, so you can receive your Newsletters and Alerts.

    You’ll end up with a free one-year subscription, with our compliments. If we have any questions, we’ll email you.

    Thanks once again for keeping us at AskWoody afloat. We couldn’t have done it without you.

    UPDATE: We now have direct credit card support. That was the last big stumbling point. Watch for the rollout shortly.

    Didja notice the new Newsletter/Alerts and About menus, up above?

  • AskWoody Plus Newsletter delayed

    Posted on January 7th, 2019 at 09:36 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Bugses. My life is filled with bugses. (Credit: Welta Digital via Wikipedia)

    In spite of the efforts of many people over a long (and lost) holiday, we didn’t make the cutoff to get the AskWoody Plus Newsletter — formerly the Windows Secrets Newsletter — out the gate this morning.

    There are lingering technical problems. And a couple of software manufacturers who aren’t co-operating. Microsoft’s bugs are bad enough, but some of the ones I encountered in the past few weeks put our woes here to shame. I should write a book.

    Anyway, if we’re lucky, we’ll have the newsletter out tomorrow morning. And if a %$#@! credit card processing company can get its act together, I’ll publish more details about Plus Membership — and signing up for the newsletter — later today.

    Stay tuned.

  • Big changes ahead for AskWoody and Windows Secrets

    Posted on December 20th, 2018 at 02:55 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    As of the end of the year, Penton/Informa media group is handing the Windows Secrets Newsletter and Lounge baton over to the people who started Windows Secrets years ago.

    Many of you will remember the original Windows Secrets “dream team” — Brian Livingston, co-author of 11 Windows Secrets books; Susan Bradley, Patch Watch diva; Fred Langa, author of LangaList, the ultimate tech Q&A; and yours truly with Woody’s Windows Watch and a bunch of books. All of us, along with former editor in chief Tracey Capen and many current and former newsletter contributors, are joining forces once again to launch a new AskWoody Plus Newsletter. Those of you who subscribe to the Windows Secrets Newsletter will see your subscriptions carry over, uninterrupted, to the AskWoody Plus moniker.

    We’re also merging the AskWoody and Windows Secrets Lounges. The new combined Lounge will sit on a software foundation that’s solid and reliable unlike, ahem, what we’ve had in the past. We’re implementing some of the features you’ve requested — email Plus Alerts, downloadable Patch Watch files, a reconstituted MS-DEFCON system, and much more. All of the AskWoody and Windows Secrets Admins and MVPs will make the trek. It’s a massive effort that’s going to bring all sorts of benefits to AskWoody and Windows Secrets Loungers.

    Both the new Newsletter and the new combined Lounge are tied together with a membership program called AskWoody Plus. If you join AskWoody Plus, you get the new Newsletter, the news Alerts, and full access to everything on the new combined Lounge.

    You’ll also get our thanks — and recognition, via a gold flare on your Lounge avatar — for helping us keep everything going. We’ll continue to hold Microsoft’s feet to the fire. We’ll keep you in the loop on important developments, and help you with palliative care on the demise of Windows 7. We’ll give you the straight story on where Windows and Office are headed, without the clickbait and garbled explanations you find on many other sites.

    AskWoody Plus works on the donation model — you can join for whatever amount you think fair. If you’d rather not join, that’s fine. New Loungers are most welcome, and there’s no charge.

    Changes in the plumbing are being tested right now. The hardest part of the transition will be merging databases, which won’t be easy, but we’ll take it in steps, and we’ll have human support available at all times. We’ll let you know if you need to do anything.

    For those of you who already get the Windows Secrets Newsletter, you’ll be automatically continued as a subscriber to the AskWoody Plus Newsletter. For those of you who have donated to AskWoody in the past year, we’ll set you up with a Plus Membership as well — no charge, with our thanks. Those of you who haven’t contributed are also in good hands — we’re carrying across both the AskWoody Loungers and the Windows Secrets Loungers of various stripes to the new combined Lounge.

    For now, sit tight. We’ll let you know if you need to do anything.

    Lisa Schmeiser, editor in chief, Windows Secrets Newsletter
    PKCano and Kirsty, AskWoody MVPs
    JoeP517, JWitalka, Rick Corbett, Satrow, Windows Secrets Admins

    Woody Leonhard, Eponymous Factotum