Windows Enterprise Desktop

September 12, 2019  6:48 PM

Cycling Power Fixes Wireless Weirdness

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Windows 10, Wireless access, Wireless Access Points, wireless adapter

A week ago, I acquired an ASUS RT-AX88U wireless access device to replace a failing RT-AC68U. Today, suddenly and unexpectedly, all of my older wireless adapters found themselves unable to connect to that device. That is, all of my 802.11ac devices kept working fine, but none of my 802.11n devices (the oldest 802.11 version I’m still using) would connect. Drove me absolutely bananas. Ultimately, I would determine that cycling power fixes wireless weirdness. But first, I had to spend half an hour on the phone with the very nice and surprisingly knowledgeable folks at ASUS tech support in the Philippines.

Cycling Power Fixes Wireless Weirdness.ax88u

When in doubt reboot applies to routers/WAPs as it does to Windows, apparently.

Why say: Cycling Power Fixes Wireless Weirdness?

I couldn’t get the 802.11n devices to work for love or money. After inspecting the built-in router page and configuration data myself, I didn’t see anything wrong. When I called ASUS, we tried a bunch of settings — including “802.11n only” (auto configuration off), a variety of name changes for SSIDs, and other stuff I can’t remember — but none of it made any difference. I even tried plugging in a USB 802.11ac USB wireless NIC into one of my incommunicado machines, and that didn’t work, either. So I said to the tech support guy: “Why don’t I cycle the power on the router, and see what happens?” His reply: “Yes, but first, return all settings to their previous values.” So that’s what I did.

Guess what? After the power was cycled, and the router started back up, all the 802.11n devices were able to connect to the ASUS device. Problem solved! I was reminded of the old “three-fingered salute” I used to use to solve so many Windows problems (CTRL-ALT-DEL). I should’ve been smart enough to figure that one out on my own. At least, I figured it out eventually. Sigh.

September 11, 2019  1:08 PM

Pondering System Refresh Planning System Retirements

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

All right: I admit it. My local “fleet” of PCs is getting long in the tooth. The age distribution  for the 9 systems at my immediate disposal is strongly skewed. That’s what has me pondering system refresh planning system retirements right now. Take a look at this table to see what I mean:

ET PCs on Hand
Name Mfgr Yr Acquired Brief specs
 DinaMiniITX Homebrew  2012 Mobile Ivy Bridge i7 Q4, 16 GB RAM, 250 GB SSD
 X220T Lenovo  2013 Mobile Haswell i7 Q4, 16 GB RAM, 250 GB SSD
 T520 Lenovo  2013 Mobile Haswell i7 Q4, 16 GB RAM, 250 GB SSD, Nvidia Quadro
 XPS2720 Dell  2014 Mobile Haswell i7 Q4, 16 GB RAM, 250 GB SSD
 Surface Pro 3 Microsoft  2014 Mobile Haswell i7 Q4, 8 GB RAM, 250 GB SSD
 Win10TP Homebrew  2015 Haswell i7 Q4, 32 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD
 i7Skylake Homebrew 2017 Skylake i7 Q4, 32 GB RAM, 512 GB NVMe SSD
 Yoga X380 Lenovo  2019 Kaby Lake i7 Q4, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB NVMe SSD
X1 Extreme Lenovo  2019 Kaby Lake i7 Q6, 32 GB RAM, 2×1 TB NVMe SSD

Five of those machines run Haswell CPUs, which are pretty old. My wife’s Jetway-based Mini ITX PC runs an Ivy Bridge, which is even older. Yet all of these machines run Windows 10 1903 (or Insider Preview) versions quite well. I plan to keep using them until one of two things happens: (1) a breakdown or component failure occurs that costs more to fix than the machine is worth, or (2) some new Windows 10 upgrade or update finds the target machine unsuitable (blocks it from installing).

What Refresh and Retirement Really Mean

That said, I know it’s just a matter of time before I have to replace all of the Haswell and Ivy Bridge models. Thus, I plan to acquire a Surface Book 2 to replace the Surface Pro 3. At least for now, the two new Lenovos replace the two old ones. I need to rebuild my wife’s Mini ITX using a new-generation motherboard, CPU, RAM and NVMe drive instead of the current SATA SSD. I’ll also rebuild the Win10TP machine, and make it my new production desktop, and demote i7Skylake to test machine status. I’m thinking about replacing the Dell XPS 2720 All-in-One with a Surface Studio 2 (or its replacement model, because that will probably fall outside this year’s planned expenditures).

As best I can estimate that means I’ll be spending $4K or more this year to replace the Mini ITX, purchase a Surface Book 2, and build a new homebrew production desktop PC. With prices starting at $3,500 and zooming past $5K for current models — and an educated guess that next-gen models will be a little pricier — the Surface Studio is going to have to wait.

September 6, 2019  3:28 PM

When Disk Cleanup Fails Use Search

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Disk cleanup, File management, Windows 10

I’ve been slowly but surely working my way through all of my test machines recently, putting things to order. In do doing, I keep running across a list of files and folders on the C: drive that Disk Cleanup (or its new fave counterpart “Managed Disk Cleanup“) fails to get rid of. In the interests of documenting what I’m finding, I’ll keep this list going as I find new stuff. But, after cleaning up a half-dozen machines, here’s what I’ve seen that I’ve deleted with a brief explanation and links to more info.

When Disk Cleanup Fails Use Search.sysreset

$SysReset shows up on most of my systems, even after Disk Cleanup.

When Disk Cleanup Fails Use Search To Determine What’s Safe to Delete


Disk Cleanup Leftovers
Name File/Folder From OK2Delete? More info
 $GetCurrent  Folder  Any upgrade  Yes HowtoGeek
 $SysReset  Folder  Failed upgrade  Yes HowtoGeek
 $Windows.~BT  Folder  Any upgrade  Yes HowtoGeek
 $Windows.~WS  Folder  Any upgrade  Yes MS Answers
 $WINRE_BACKUP_PARTITION.MARKER  File Some upgrades  Yes TenForums
 Windows10Upgrade  Folder Win10 Upgrade Assistant  Yes WinHelpOnline

[Note: Because WordPress doesn’t properly format hyperlinks inside tables — go figure! — I manually turned them italic, underlined them, and colored them blue in Column 5 of the preceding table. Thus, they won’t change color after you’ve clicked them, as they ordinarily would.]

As far as the Windows 10 Upgrade Assistant goes (resides in the Windows10Upgrade folder) you could also elect to uninstall that program instead. Do this using Control Panel → Programs and features, then select Windows 10 Upgrade Assistant and Uninstall.

As I find more of these things I’ll keep adding them to this list. If you’d care to suggest possible entries, please email them to me at ed at edtittel dot com and put “SDCMissing” in the subject line. Thanks!

September 4, 2019  12:41 PM

Technology Advances Require Basic IP Address Understanding

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
IP address management, Router IP address, Windows 10, Wireless Access Points

OK, then. A couple of weeks ago, my 6-year-old ASUS RT-68U started getting flaky on me. What does that mean? It means it began losing its configuration settings on the 5 GHz band with the Windows 10 PCs it served. How do I know this? Because network status shifted from Private to Public and wouldn’t respond to normal Win10 methods to reverse that setting. At first, I suspected issues with Hyper-V (but that proved irrelevant). Next, I wondered about ISP issues (Spectrum’s usually excellent diagnostic tools found nothing wrong). Interestingly, the RT-68U worked fine on the 2.5 GHz channel and only improperly on the 5 GHz channel. Thus, I reluctantly diagnosed intermittent failure and decided to purchase a replacement. Configuring that new device, I realized that technology advances require basic IP address understanding.

Why Do Technology Advances Require Basic IP Address Understanding?

Just as the RT-68U I’m replacing is actually a full-fledged router as well as a Wi-Fi device, so also is the RT-AX6000 that replaces it. At first, I couldn’t get to the AX6000 at all, even with a direct, wired RJ-45 connection to the device from one of my laptops. So I did two things — and presto, my problems became solvable. First, I chatted with Spectrum and got them to add the MAC address and serial number for my AX6000 to their device whitelist table. Second, I chatted with ASUS and learned that, in addition to plugging directly into a switch port (not the Internet modem port) I could access the device at IPv4 address

Technology Advances Require Basic IP Address Understanding.ipconfig

Sure, the ASUS guy on the phone said, but it turns out to be No matter! As long as I know what it is, I can — and did — get there to make my configuration changes.

Actually, my next reboot occurred with a laptop plugged into a switch port and the AX6000 disconnected from the LAN. IPCONFIG showed me the Default Gateway address was No matter: with that information in hand, I was able to access the router page using that address via Chrome on the attached PC. From there, I selected the “Wireless Access Point” configuration option, and I was off to the races.

All’s Well, and Ends Well

I’ve now got the AX6000 humming along, offering wireless access to the half-dozen-plus wireless devices here at the house. (That includes 5 laptops, 1 All-in-One, 1 iPad, and 3 iPhones.) It is pretty fast, too. I just got 450 Mbps-plus downstream, and about 45 Mbps upstream through Ookla Speedtest. That’s to my closest ISP (Suddenlink, in Georgetown, TX, 8 miles away). This came courtesy of my X1 Extreme, and its built-in Intel Wireless AC-9650 NIC, operating at 160 MHz (first time I’ve seen that option show up in the network selection criteria).

The ASUS documentation says things will run even faster if I install a new Intel driver designed to work with 802.11ax frame buffers. I think I’ll have to check that out next . . . Stay tuned!

Note Added August 5

I’ve checked the ASUS documentation about drivers. It says that PCs running various models of the Intel adapters — including my dual-band Wireless AC-9650 — should be running version 20.70.0 or higher. Mine’s running and is offering the 160 MHz option, so my X1 Carbon is already up-to-date. My other wireless adapters are too old to take advantage of this higher-level service, except for the Yoga X380 (and it’s au courant as well, but does not show the 160 MHz option).

September 3, 2019  5:33 PM

1903 KB4512941 Garnering Numerous Issues

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Troubleshooting, Windows 10, Windows Update Management, Windows Updates

On August 26, Microsoft rolled out KB4512941 to Insiders signed up for the Release Preview distribution. On August 30, that same Cumulative Update went live to 1903 users in general. I’m lucky I was gone for the holiday weekend. I came home to lots of issues and potential gotchas. One of them even bit me — the persistent .NET related 0X800F081F error code — on my release preview machine. But when I say 1903 KB4512941 garnering numerous issues, here’s what I mean:

– More info on the 0X800F0801F error code and a fix: Upgrade Repair Install Fixes Stubborn 0X800F081F Error
Microsoft Confirms Windows 10 KB4512941 causes high CPU usage (Appears Cortana and Windows Search related, see next item)
Windows 10 KB4591941 breaks Windows Search for some users
– Lots of discussion at TenForums, also includes specific mentions of O&O Shutup10 and MSI Afterburner/Riva Tuner

1903 KB4512941 Garnering Numerous Issues.header

For admins and power users, the question becomes “Do you WANT to install this upgrade, or skip it and wait for the next one?”

What Does 1903 KB4512941 Garnering Numerous Issues Mean?

For those whose practice or inclination is updating sooner rather than later, this represents a warning along the lines of “Here be dragons.” For those who trail behind the leading/bleeding edge of MS updates anyway, it’s a more-than-usually-serious indication that this update demands strenuous and thorough compatibility testing.

KB4512941 reportedly addresses some interesting and important issues. See the release notes for its lengthy and fascinating “Improvements and fixes” section. Nevertheless, it may pose more trouble than it addresses for the moment. I’m installing in on my production PCs only piecemeal, with some caution and checks upon completion. I strongly urge IT pros and power users to do likewise.

August 30, 2019  12:59 PM

Wonky Wi-Fi Forces Public Network Status

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Router Troubleshooting, Wi-Fi network, Wi-fi ptoblems, Windows 10

Ah, the forces of entropy and gradual failure. How they can sometimes fool us into finding and fixing problems that don’t exist. What do I mean? Seems that my Asus RT-AC86U Wi-Fi router has been slowly failing on the 5 GHz channel. At first, I thought I was dealing with Hyper-V related issues, because turning off Hyper-V restored network connectivity. But just recently, I’ve observed that this apparently wonky Wi-Fi forces public network status on the 5 GHz channel. Weirdly enough, the 2.5 GHz channel continues to work properly, and I can continue to access the Internet through this device, albeit at a slower speed (802.11n versus 802.11ac).

If Wonky Wi-Fi Forces Public Network Status, Then What?

Then, alas it’s time for a new Wi-Fi router. I plunked down enough cashola to order an ASUS RT-AX88U for 9 PM delivery tonight. With a little configuration and set-up elbow grease I should have the 6 wireless devices in my office, and our iDevices, back online in an hour or two. Hopefully, the added cost will also confer some increased networking performance. But at the moment, I have no native 802.11ax devices to take full advantage of higher speeds. Knowing my penchant for picking up gadgetry, that probably won’t last very long, either.

What Gave the Problem Away?

When I look at network properties (click on Properties below the selected Wi-Fi network from the notification area Wi-Fi icon) for the 5 GHz connection, I see no Network Profile radio buttons. Further investigation through gpedit.msc (Computer Configuration → Windows Settings → Security Settings → Network List Manager Policies) shows the Location Type value as “not configured.” Alas, this means it defaults to the safer Public setting, and thereby cuts me off from the Internet. Curiously, I was able to manually override this setting for a while by forcing the Location type to private. But that quit working yesterday, and finally forced me to recognize that the Asus Wi-Fi device must be having hardware or communications problems on the 5 GHz channel.

Wonky Wi-Fi Forces Public Network Status.5GHznotconfig

Somehow the 5 GHz channel is losing (or failing to share) its proper configuration data. Time for a new Wi-Fi device, alas.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

I can’t say I’m looking forward to clearing my next credit card balance. Nor am I exactly jumping with joy to install, configure and switch over from the old Wi-Fi device to a new one. But technology marches on, and eventually, the old stuff gives out. So change is coming to my wireless environment, whether I like it or not. I’ll keep reporting as I work out the kinks. Stay tuned!

August 28, 2019  1:25 PM

Hello Face Yes Hello Face No

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Biometrics, Camera, Facial recognition, Windows 10

Last April, Lenovo sent me a couple of great loaner laptops. The Thinkpad Yoga X380 (i7-8650U quad core, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB NVMe SSD) is a great, compact 13.5″ traveling laptop. The Thinkpad X1 Extreme (i7-8850U 6-core, 32 GB RAM, 1+1 NVMe SSDs) is a 15″ brute that also travels nicely, too. In fact, it’s the fastest PC in my house right now. It beats out my homebrew deskop (Asrock Extreme7+ mobo, i7-6700 quad core, 32 GB RAM, 512 GB NVMe SSD plus lots more storage) except in the video department. I’m still learning the ins and outs of these two Lenovos, which is why I just learned this morning that the X380 lacks the right kind of camera for Windows Hello Face. The X1 Extreme, however, comes properly equipped for Hello Face. And that’s why I entitled this post “Hello Face Yes Hello Face No.”

How to Distinguish Hello Face Yes Hello Face No

The requirement for Windows Hello Face support adheres to the camera installed on the laptop in question. It must support infrared (IR) and belong to a specific device class. That class is known as the “Windows Hello Face Software Device” class. I guess that means it works with the built-in Windows Hello Face software. Thus, it can do facial recognition, Windows 10 style. How can you tell if your camera has the right stuff to handle Windows Hello Face? Look in Device Manager under the Biometrics heading. If you see a Hello Face entry, like the following, you’re good to go:Hello Face Yes Hello Face No.devmgr

Of the two Lenovo laptops, only the X1 Extreme includes the all-important Hello Face entry under Biometric devices.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

Working With Windows Hello Face

If your laptop (or other Windows-attached camera) supports Windows Hello Face, you’ll handle setup through the Settings apps. Navigate through Settings → Accounts → Sign-in options. At that point you should see Windows Hello face at the top of the options list. Click that option to go through facial recognition and registration. The whole process takes about 30 seconds, and requires that you sit in front of the camera so it can make a variety of key facial measurements. The software was smart enough to see that I wear eyeglasses, and asked me to go through the process a second time to “Improve recognition.” It worked!

Now, when I sit down in front of the X1 Extreme and fire up the machine, it automatically logs me in as soon as it recognizes my visage. I can still opt to use the fingerprint scanner, a PIN, or a password, but this is about as convenient and quick as login gets. I’m not sure it’s enough to justify the purchase of a new, suitably-equipped laptop all by itself. But it sure is a neat and fun feature.

August 26, 2019  12:04 PM

Lenovo X380 Ethernet Extension Follies

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Ethernet adapters, lenovo, Troubleshooting, Windows 10

Last week, I decided to order an Ethernet dongle for my 8th generation Lenovo laptops. Each of them — the Thinkpad Yoga X380 and the X1Carbon Extreme — includes a proprietary Ethernet interface. It connects to each of those computer’s inbuilt Intel I219-LM GbE adapters. Ordering and obtaining the right device from Lenovo itself has, however, shown itself to be an exercise in frustration. It’s why I describe the current whirlwind of mostly wasted effort as Lenovo X380 Ethernet Extension follies. Sigh.

Here’s a snapshot of the relevant side of the X380 Yoga PC, courtesy of the folks at TigerDirect:

Lenovo X380 Ethernet Extension Follies.port-pci

When my replacement part arrived, it was too big (or the wrong shape) to fit any of the ports on my Yoga X380. Obviously, I ordered the wrong part! I wanted something to plug into the mini Ethernet port at center above. No dice!

Lenovo X380 Ethernet Extension Follies: Part 1 (How to get an RMA?)

Looking over the paperwork that arrived with the unit shipped to me, I see an return address and a URL for the return contact. When I try to fill out the form on the web page, it tells me my order number — copied faithfully and accurately from the included paperwork — doesn’t exist or is invalid. I have the option of calling Digital River in Germany for further discussion, but that just makes my stomach hurt. Here’s the part that was shipped to me (part number 4X90Q84427). Apparently it’s a part for the 6th-generation version of ThinkPads (including my X380 but perhaps not my X1Carbon Extreme). I needed an 8th generation part, which looks like this:Lenovo X380 Ethernet Extension Follies.adapter-needed

Apparently, this is what I needed, but not what I got. Notice how tiny the PC side of the cable (not the RJ-45) is. Sigh again.

Looking over the paperwork, I can’t figure out how to get an RMA (Return Merchandise Authorization) to send the unwanted item back for a refund. I’m on the phone with tech support right now, to see if they can (a) give me the right part number to order for my PCs and (b) point me at where to go to get an RMA to return the current unusable part. Right now, technician Mike is checking my serial number to make sure I’m eligible for warranty support (I’ve already checked myself and I’m good through the end of 2022). Mike was able to point me at the part number for the right part for my PC, but unable to help me get an RMA number or figure how to properly return the unusable adapter I already have.

Lenovo X380 Ethernet Extension Follies: Part 2 (Who pays for return shipment?)

Right now, I have one apparent choice as regards return of my unusable Ethernet adapter. I can pay the shipping back to the return address myself, and include copies of the order paperwork and hope that my PayPal account will get credited for the purchase. I’m not that trusting a soul however, so I’m reaching out through other channels to see if I can get some help. In the long run, I’m out exactly $35.71 so it won’t be the end of the world if I have to eat it. But wow! Does it really have to be this hard? I wonder . . .

[Note Added August 27, AM]

My son woke me this morning before 8AM to tell me an early FedEx delivery had arrived at the house. Rousting myself out of bed, I ripped into a box from Lenovo that included not one, but two of the parts I needed. That part number is 4X90F84315 (depicted below). Stuck it into the mini-Ethernet port and it fired right off immediately. Ookla Speedtest reports the following: 13 ms Ping, 620.79 Mbps download, 42.35 Mbps upload (results do vary by local LAN load, but that’s pretty normal for a wired GbE device on my LAN). It is about twice as fast as USB, and about 12 times as fast as 802.11 locally.

working part

I still don’t know what to do with the wrong part, but now I have two of the right parts. Very interesting!
[Click image for full-sized view.]

Once again, the Lenovo guys blow me away with their rapid and helpful response. But it’s weird to get stuff in the mail without an email or phone call to say “Hear you’re having a problem. We’ll help you with a solution.” This byplay makes me no less grateful, but it does leave me a little perplexed. Thanks guys!

August 24, 2019  2:34 PM

Partially Disconnected USB Cable Puts Mouse MIA

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Troubleshooting, USB connection, Windows 10

As the old saying goes: “If it ain’t one thing, it’s another.” Earlier this week, I sat down at my desk and awoke my production PC from its slumbers. Keyboard worked just fine, but the mouse was MIA. This put me into a more-or-less typical troubleshooting drill. Checked the mouse power switch: on. Replaced the mouse battery with a brand-new Energizer Lithium AA. No change. Unplugged and replugged the MS RF dongle for the Microsoft Wireless Mobile 3200 Mouse I’m using. Nothing doing. Then I started haring off into Device Manager (thanks to my backup wired Microsoft Basic Optical Mouse, which I had plugged into an available USB 2.0 port). Only eventually did it occur to me to check the USB cable(s) between the PC and the RF transceiver. And sure enough, as the Boss dusted my desk the night before, she’d bumped the cable enough to loosen its connection. Thus, a partially disconnected USB cable puts mouse MIA the next morning!

Partially Disconnected USB

If the cable is bumped or tugged, the male and female fittings will disengage, ever so slightly.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

Easy Fix for Partially Disconnected USB Cable

After checking the drivers I found nothing amiss. Then, I swapped out the MS dongle and mouse for a Logitech Unifying Transceiver and an M325 mouse, and that didn’t help either. Only then did it occur to me: check the cable, bonehead! Sure enough, the two connectors shown in the photo had slipped apart a little bit. Just enough, it seems, to prevent the cable from ferrying wireless communications to/from the mouse to the USB port and into the PC. A quick shove in the right direction, and I was back in business.

It just goes to show that it pays to check the obvious stuff first and foremost. Upon reflection, a loose cable is a first-check kind of item when devices go MIA. I just wish I’d thought of it sooner, rather than being forced to recognize it (and my own lamebrainedness) later. And so it goes, here in Windows-world!

August 21, 2019  2:16 PM

MS Store Now Includes Notepad

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Microsoft stores, Notepad, Windows 10, windows app store

Insiders running on the Fast Ring can now download and use Notepad from the Microsoft Store. When you visit the store, search  on “Windows Notepad.” Even so, you’ll have to wade some distance through the 47 variants to find the MS version. But indeed, because MS Store now includes Notepad, you can run it as an app instead of an application. Here’s something like what you’ll see in the store for this item (it’s installed so Store no longer shows the download offer):

MS Store Now Includes Notepad .storepg

Here’s what the Notepad listing in Store looks like.
[Click item for full sized view.]

Why Is MS Store Now Includes Notepad a Good Thing?

Putting Notepad in the Store means MS can decouple it from Windows releases. As explained in this Windows Insider blog post “Announcing Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 18963” (8/16/2019), this confers several potential user benefits. First, it lets the company keep making improvements whenever it’s so inclined. The updates will get to users more quickly and easily through the store than through Windows Update mechanisms. This also creates a separate and independent channel for feedback on issues, and input on upgrades and enhancements. Now, in fact, users can provide this kind of information through the independent Feedback Hub channel Apps > Notepad. A quick once-over on that Feedback channels shows it to be active and interesting:

MS Store Now Includes Notepad.FBHpage

Lots of interesting input already on the Feedback Hub Notepad channel!
[Click image for full-sized view.]

The word is that the notepad.exe application may be retired when Windows 10 20H1 makes its debut next spring. Thus, it makes sense to start planning for a switchover. In another blog post, I’ll explain how to preserve the old exe version and its runtime context so you can keep using it, even if MS takes it away in a future Win10 release.

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