Newsletter Archives

  • How can an e-cigarette know the age of its user?


    Brian Livingston

    By Brian Livingston

    The dominant e-cigarette manufacturer Juul filed in the US last month an application to sell a new technology that requires age verification and prevents the use of third-party, candy-flavored vaping cartridges.

    Juul nearly went bankrupt in November 2022 after agreeing to a $439 million settlement with several US states. The attorneys general of those states successfully argued that the company had marketed fruity flavors specifically to appeal to minors.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.32.0, 2023-08-07).

  • Microsoft: Win10 1903 having problems with Bluetooth speakers

    This one’s odd.

    According to the just-posted KB 4518538, “Bluetooth speakers don’t work after update 4505903 is installed on Windows 10, version 1903.”

    After you install update 4505903 on Windows 10, version 1903 on a computer that has an internal speaker installed, you experience one of the following issues:

    • A Bluetooth speaker can’t connect to the computer.
    • A Bluetooth speaker can connect to the computer. However, the speaker output sounds noisy (bad quality).
    • A Bluetooth speaker can connect to the computer. However, the sound is generated by the internal speaker instead of the Bluetooth device.

    Additionally, in Device Manager, you notice an entry under the Sound, video and game controllers node for Microsoft Bluetooth A2dp Source that shows a yellow bang (exclamation mark) icon.

    Here’s what’s odd. KB 4505903 is July’s “optional non-security” second monthly cumulative update. I have no idea why the second July update would have a problem that doesn’t occur in the first August cumulative update. (We haven’t yet seen the second August cumulative update for Win10 1903.)

    UPDATE: @abbodi86 has what sounds like the right diagnosis:

    The issue is probably caused by some combination, or bad sequence, of patches. It does not seem directly related to the update

  • On forced upgrades

    Just got this entertaining message from Alan Arndt:


    I applaud all your efforts with regards to Microsoft’s Force update to Windows 10 and the automatic and uncontrolled updates of Windows 10 itself.  I certainly expect to upgrade my home machines and work machines to Windows 10 before the free update period ends.  However, even though we are using Windows 8.1 at home and work I haven’t been terribly motivated to make the switch.  A big concern is the way Microsoft intends to force updates down your throat.  For that an many other reasons I have only purchased Windows 10 Pro, however, several of my machines (3 laptops, came with home editions of Windows 7 & 8 and only get the Home version of Windows 10).  It would be very nice if Microsoft would offer a reasonably priced upgrade from one to the next instead of basically the full price of a new copy of Windows.  To experiment with things I have updated the three laptops (two son’s and mine – as I only use it for trips, not daily use), and one home computer (with Pro).

    Anyhow, my main point of this letter is to address the forced updating of Windows 10.  Recently I was on a business trip, with only my laptop to use.  I put my computer to sleep for a few minutes while I stepped away.  I came back and my Bluetooth mouse wouldn’t work.  No explanation why.  It seems the Bluetooth interface had been turned off.  I can’t get it to turn on from the Action center.  I can’t find it under settings for devices to turn it on.  I notice that there is a yellow triangle exclamation point on my computer, so I run troubleshooting.  It says I need to restart to apply updates but it allows me to continue troubleshooting process.  Sure enough.  It comes back and says I need to restart and apply updates.  Are you KIDDING ME?  God damn Microsoft BUSTED my computer when I stepped away for a few minutes because they applied updates.

    I very EXPLICTLY do NOT WANT to install any updates when I am gone on a trip.  Who knows what will happen.  So now I have no bloody choice because they have broken my computer and are forcing me to abandon what I am working on, restart everything and pray the computer still works.  What a bunch of jerks.

    Note that the Bluetooth issue with the mouse is especially frustrating because I have my laptop set to turn off the touchpad when I am using the mouse.  When the mouse disappears without properly shutting it off the touchpad is NOT re-enabled.  This is quite annoying enough when the laptop goes to sleep or is put to sleep by closing the lid, because that’s what it remembers when it wakes up.  So if you packed up things and put the mouse away, you are screwed next time to wake up the laptop.  Very poor thinking all around.