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 192.168.1.1.
Sure, the ASUS guy on the phone said 192.168.1.1, but it turns out to be 192.168.50.1. 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 192.168.50.1. 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 184.108.40.206 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).
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
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.
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.
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!
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:
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.
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:
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:
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.
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!
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!
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!
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):
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:
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.
Last month, I wrote a blog post here about co-called “corrupt file” messages originating in SFC /scannow. On Friday, August 16, Microsoft published a support note on this issue. It not only explains and acknowledges the problem, it also promises a fix. The good news is that fix will take the form of a new Antimalware Platform update. Specifically, it will carry version number 4.8.1908. The bad news is that the fix is not yet in. I couldn’t even find a download source for that promised next version. A quick check of my Win10 machines, including current-version 1903 PCs and various Insider Previews, shows most of them at version 4.8.1907. That’s why I entitled this post Defender PowerShell hash mismatches fix coming.
What Causes Defender PowerShell Hash Mismatches?
MS offers an explanation and scope for this issue in the Support note entitled “System File Checker (SFC) incorrectly flags Windows Defender PowerShell Module Files as corrupted.” It points specifically to the Windows 10 folder %windir%\System32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\Modules\Defender. In the original Windows image, such files use catalog signing. But Windows Defender’s newest manageability component uses an out-of-band (OOB) update channel.Original files give way to updated versions that use a trusted Microsoft certificate instead. Because this differs from the original signing mechanism, file hashes do not match. Thus, SFC flags them as potentially damaged or corrupted with the annotation “Hashes for file member do not match.”
When Is the Defender PowerShell Hash Mismatches Fix Coming?
The Defender update code needs to change to avoid this new and different, but still valid, update mechanism for Windows Defender elements. The note says: “Once this change is implemented, SFC will no longer flag the files.”According to Microsoft, “[t]his issue is fixed in the version 4.8.1908 of Windows Defender. After this update is applied, PowerShell files that are part of the Windows image are not changed, and the SFC tool no longer flags these files.”
MS goes onto recommend the same mitigation/workaround that I described in my previous blog post on this topic. Running dism /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth will replace the new Defender-supplied PowerShell files with the originals from the installed Windows image. Then, SFC /scannow will be able to repair the files it scans on a first pass thereafter, and provide a clean bill of health on the second following pass.
When is 4.8.1908 coming?
We’re talking about the version associated with the antimalware engine for Windows Defender. You can tell what version is running by inspecting the contents of a specific Windows 10 folder:
%ProgramData%/Microsoft/Windows Defender/Platform. The names of its subfolders match the version number. As shown here, the highest numbered folder represents the current antimalware engine version for Windows Defender (see red arrow):
The higher numbered folder (41.18.1907…) represents the current running antimalware platform version
[Click image for full-sized view.]
Of course, as fate would have it, the current version is one level BELOW the promised version that will fix this problem. I checked my Insider Preview and other Win10 PCs (the preceding screen cap is from a Win10 Pro 1903 PC running Build 18362.295). All are running that version, except for Win10 Enterprise 1903 Build 18362.295: it’s running version 4.12.17007.18011-0, dated January 20, 2018. Who knows when MS will drop the new version that will fix the issue? We’ll all be finding out, I guess — hopefully sooner, rather than later!
Yesterday, in the wake of the August 13 KB4512508 update, I noticed some of my local PCs were devoid of Internet access. Upon further investigation, I discovered a few things. First, only wirelessly connected PCs fell prey. Second, only PCs that had Hyper-V enabled were off the Internet. Third, by uninstalling Hyper-V, those PCs immediately resumed their Internet connections. Apparently, the latest CU disturbed my local network topology. Because removing Hyper-V fixed the problem I wrote it off to 1903 Hyper-V networking interference. What was going on, really?
Undoing 1903 Hyper-V Networking Interference
Armed with this knowledge, I had to step through Hyper-V configuration one more time. On my trusty Lenovo X380, I turned Hyper-V back on. This time, wireless Internet access kept working. I noticed that the Default Switch was set up automatically as its name indicates, and that it worked properly. On my previous installation, I’d set up a new and separate virtual switch. And this time around, as soon as I set up a test virtual switch named Hyper-V WLAN Switch (see below), Internet access immediately vanished.
A new switch definition explicitly targets the Wireless NIC for network access
[Click image for full-sized view.]
The proper connection type is indeed “External network,” but the resulting network is labeled Public. Consequently, Internet access vanishes. That’s because the network topology changes. I had to go into my VM settings, and change the Network Adapter to point to the proper virtual switch. I selected “Hyper-V WLAN Switch” from the pull-down menu under the “Virtual switch” item. That did the trick!
As soon as I picked the right “NIC” (virtual switch, actually), LAN access expanded to include the Internet.
Apparently something in the latest update reset the Network Adapter as “Not connected.” As soon as I pointed to my new virtual switch, everything went back to normal. Go figure! Not a difficult fix, but upsetting to have it affect multiple desktops at the same time. One might be happenstance or coincidence; multiples is a conspiracy. That said, I’m glad it’s fixed.
In my last post, I wrote about cleanup as a technique to get PCs to cool off a bit. Since then, I’ve found myself in an investigation that shows determining PC temps can be a tricky business. In fact, using three different toolsets, I get three different sets of temps for my Lenovo T520. Thus I find myself grappling with too many different Win10 temperatures. Which one’s right? I can only lean on research from Tom’s Hardware to find the most accurate and reasonable temp monitoring utility. Based on recommendations from Tom’s that turns out to be Martin Malik’s HWiNFO utility. They recommend that users grab the tool in its portable form, and run it in sensors-only mode. Otherwise, you’ll end up wading through lots of other good system info that’s irrelevant to temp tracking.
What Does Too Many Different Win10 Temperatures Mean?
Alas, it means that the tools I picked to check temps didn’t agree with each other. That’s why I went looking for a recommendation as to which one — namely HWiNFO — bears the closest relationship to real temperatures measured with a probe thermometer. Look at this side-by-side comparison (SIW Pro left, HWiNFO center, Core Temp via CPU Usage Gadget right).
Notice that SIW Pro and HWiNFO are close, but Core Temp is WAY OFF
[Click image for full-sized view.]
For those who don’t want to click the image, and see it in readable form, here’s a tabular version of some of what appears in the preceding graphic (the important temps):
|Core 0||Core 1||CPU Pkg|
As you can tell with a single quick inspection, Core Temp is running around 33 to 34 degrees Celsius lower than the other two utilities on my T520. So now, I auto-correct for this gap by adding 32 to what I see it displaying. The funny thing is, HWiNFO agrees within 1 degree Celsius with Core Temp for the i7-6700 CPU on my production desktop. I’m going to have to conduct a PC-by-PC comparison on the rest of my machines to see how things diverge. All I can say at this point is “Very interesting!”
Putting PC Temps in Context
The afore-linked Tom’s Hardware item includes an interesting chart that it describes as “the nominal operating range for Core temperature.” It also emphasizes that “Core temperatures above 85°C are not recommended.” and “Core temperatures below 80°C are ideal.” Here’s the chart:
Note that my recommended and observed ranges are well within tolerances.
Check out the rest of CompuTronix’s post to the Tom’s Forum thread. Definitely worth reading.