Posts tagged: Windows

Taking back control of updates in Windows 10

By , 2017-01-15 18:35

Microsoft’s latest OS brings a lot of improvements and changes to Windows. One particularly significant change is the way Windows Update works. By default, Windows Update will decide on its own when it wants to restart your computer – be it in the middle of rendering video, uploading or downloading a large file, or even in the middle of a competitive gaming session:

There are a few steps you can take however to make living with Windows 10 more bearable and stop it from interrupting activities on your computer.

Unfortunately, these steps only work on Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise and Education editions.

Part 1: Local Group Policy

  1. Run the Local Group Policy Editor tool by typing “gpedit.msc” into the Run dialog box.
  2. Navigate to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update
  3. The policies we are interested in are Configure Automatic Updates and No auto-restart with logged on users for scheduled automatic updates installations.
  4. Set both policies to Enabled, then for Configure Automatic Updates, configure the options as shown:
    2 – Notify for download and notify for install
  5. This should take care of preventing your computer from restarting automatically when it feels like it.

Part 2: Disabling Updates are available nag screen

OK, so now you’ve got the automatic updates disabled. But you’ve been a bit lax with your updates and haven’t manually installed them in a while. So Windows 10 presents you with this:

Which is good, because you really should keep your computer up-to-date for both your own and others’ security online.

However, there are some cases where this screen can be incredibly annoying – on a digital signage box, on an HTPC, or on a gaming computer for example – since it interrupts whatever you are doing with an un-closeable prompt, much like adware.

The good news is that there is a way to disable it. It’s a bit less “official”, so it may not work for you, but so far so good for me.

From an elevated Command Prompt, run the following commands.

cd /d "%Windir%\System32"
takeown /F MusNotification.exe
icacls MusNotification.exe /deny Everyone:(X)
takeown /F MusNotificationUx.exe
icacls MusNotificationUx.exe /deny Everyone:(X)

Warning: I don’t advocate running commands without knowing what they do or trusting the source, and since you might not trust me, I’ll explain what the commands do.

First we Change Directory (cd) to the Windows system32 folder. Then, we take ownership of the file MusNotification.exe and deny Everyone (including the system itself) from eXecuting it. Then we repeat the process for MusNotificationUx.exe.

And that’s it!

Windows shares on iSCSI volumes disappear after reboot

By , 2012-09-05 16:28

The loss of your Drobo’s shared resource settings (i.e., the volumes do not show) can be caused when the server service in Windows starts up before the iSCSI Initiator service does. The server service needs the iSCSI service to have already started file shares.

To fix this issue, open a command prompt, type: “sc config LanManServer depend= MSiSCSI” and press Enter.

via Drobo Support.

WRONG WRONG WRONG. If you run the above command, the LanManServer (Server) service will fail to start.

The correct command for adding the dependency on the iSCSI service (on a stock Win2K8 box) is

sc config lanmanserver depend= SamSS/Srv/MSiSCSI

Running the other command deletes the original dependencies of the Server service and replaces them with only  MSiSCSI.

Correct answer via User Error.

Farewell, Desktop Metaphor

By , 2012-03-04 16:20

We’re living the end of an era. I’m sad to say that as tech journalists have been proclaiming for a little while now, it seems “the desktop is dead” or at least on its last legs. (I would have liked to provide some data to support that but unfortunately big G has killed off their search timeline feature as of a few months ago.)

The original Macintosh Desktop

Now, when I say desktop, I don’t mean the desktop PC. I mean the traditional personal computer desktop metaphor introduced on the original Macintosh in 1984 (- yes, I know Xerox was first). Since then, most personal computers have used some variation of a desktop as their primary UI. Windows, icons, folders, documents, trash/recycle bins have become familiar and nearly universal. The desktop metaphor also includes some important elements that were not really part of a traditional physical desktop, such as menu, status and task bars.

Why do I concur that the desktop is dying? Well, there are a few reasons.

Mobile device sales

Smartphones and tablet sales surpassed PC sales this past year. In Q4 of 2011, vendors shipped just over 100 million smartphones, while PC sales were numbered at 92.1 million. It’s not a huge relative difference, but the trend shows no sign of stopping for now since many consumers are still using feature phones but already own a PC. Tablets are also poised to take a bite out of PC sales, especially with ever-faster processors and slimmer packages. New releases of tablet OS in 2011 should also contribute, with Apple iOS 5 no longer requiring activation using iTunes on a traditional PC and Android 4 (“Ice Cream Sandwich”) replacing the rather underwhelming Android 3 “Honeycomb”.

Web apps

Web Apps running in Firefox

There’s no denying that the Web has come a long way from its beginnings on Tim Berners-Lee‘s NeXT cube at CERN. Web sites have evolved from being essentially online news or encyclopedia articles to being hubs for dynamic multimedia content and information sharing. Take a look at your taskbar/dock/other app switcher (if you’re viewing this from a desktop!). There’s a very good chance a Web browser is running. Even if there isn’t one running, chances are you have already used the Web more than once today. More and more of our daily computing activities are performed using a Web-based tool. Sharing. Word processing. Blogging. Watching videos. Listening to music. Instant messaging. Photo editing. E-mail. CLI shell access. Hell, why not any GTK application. True, there are some things that can only be done using a desktop application. Like OS virtualization. Oh, wait – never mind.  There are probably quite a few computer users who never open a desktop app at all. Even as a network admin, most of my work is done using Web-based administration tools.

Single-purpose, full-screen apps

The new Metro UI in Windows 8

With the new breed of smartphones and tablets that started with the iPhone, single-purpose, full-screen apps have become mainstream. Game consoles and PCs had full-screen apps before, but now, more than ever, “there’s an app for that”. With limited screen real estate, these apps are supposed to be fast, intuitive and immersive. Desktop PCs have hopped on the bandwagon too. During the netbook era, “mainstream” Linux distro Ubuntu launchedUbuntu Netbook Remix“, a special version of their OS optimized for small (typically 1024×640) netbook screens featuring large buttons, automatically maximized apps and minimal user distractions. Ubuntu’s new interface, Unity, is based on UNR. Following the immense popularity of their iOS mobile devices, and the successful launch of the iPad, Apple released Mac OS X Lion with support for full-screen apps and many other features and UI elements pulled from iOS. Over in Redmond, Microsoft is bringing their “Metro” interface from Windows Phone 7 and XBOX 360 to the Windows desktop.

The future

It could be argued that some of these new interfaces are an evolution of the desktop metaphor. I would agree, however, the traditional desktop seems to have its days numbered. The future seems to be a future of full-screen apps, custom web/HTML-driven interfaces and maybe widgets. Windows 8 still has what they call a traditional desktop, however the Start button has been unceremoniously killed off. The next version of Apple’s OS is not Mac OS X Mountain Lion, but simply OS X Mountain Lion, a clear sign that the Macintosh and its once-revolutionary desktop is now a part of the past.

For my part, I feel saddened and almost homeless with the prospect that my beloved desktop belongs to the confines of history. True, I could just continue using Gnome 2, or Mac OS X 10.6, or Windows 7, but that means missing out on the latest and greatest. I don’t like where this is going. Change is not always good. I must be getting old.

On a more optimistic note, I know that there are teams of brilliant designers, engineers and programmers also living through this change. And I know I’m not the only person to feel less than satisfied with current desktop environments. Nothing to do but wait to see what the future brings! (Or become a programming pro and write a new Linux DE from scratch/help out with MATE or Cinnamon.)

UxStyle – mirror

By , 2012-02-16 17:03

It seems like the ‘net is becoming less and less reliable for keeping old content online. With all the DMCA takedowns, geocities going offline the whole megaupload fiasco and even large companies like Intel taking down or hiding their own software (see previous post).

Anyway today I wanted to enable third-party theme support on a new Windows 7 install. Headed over to to get the tool only to find a 404. Thanks to The Wayback Machine ( I was able to get a copy of uxstyle and hosting a copy here:

Intel AHCI drivers for Windows

By , 2012-02-12 18:56

If you have a “legacy” Intel chipset (and apparently legacy means anything not from the Core i era), the new AHCI/ATA driver Intel lists on their site (“Intel Rapid Storage Technology” ) isn’t compatible with older chipsets.

I have a few ICH7, ICH8 (also used for VirtualBox’s AHCI controller), ICH9, ICH10 and ESB2 southbridge chipsets and have found that the Intel Matrix Storage Manager 8.9 works.

I’ve attached the Windows installer, as well as the 64 and 32-bit “F6” floppy driver packages, because it seems Intel can’t be trusted to keep old versions of their drivers easily available.


Windows 98, 14 years later

By , 2012-01-28 01:49

I had an old ThinkPad lying around that is in perfect working condition, but all but useless running any modern Linux, and a little sluggish running Windows XP. This is strange, since it’s a Pentium 4 M 2GHz with 256MB of RAM and 16MB ATI AGP4x graphics, which should be enough for XP or Linux.

Anyway, I went over to the Lenovo/IBM support site looking to see if perchance there were any driver updates, when I noticed that this particular model (R32 2658) seemed to have full hardware driver support for Windows 98. Had a few hours to spare, so I decided to try and get some retro computing going.

First step was to get installation media. I’m not sure where I stashed my old Win98 CD, but fortunately I made ISO images of all my Windows OS discs and saved the product keys in a handy text file. So I burned a fresh copy of Windows 98, booted it up on the laptop, and I was off to the races. (Flash back to 10+ years ago, this would have been slightly more complex, without fast CD writers and proper BIOS CD-ROM boot support on older machines.) I went through the first stages of the installer, taking great pleasure in selecting EVERY installable option because I could fit it all and more on my massive 10GB partition on the laptop’s ridiculously immense 30GB hard drive.

Once that was done, I was greeted with a beautiful 16-colour, 640×480 display, no audio and no network connectivity. Awesome. No problem though, just hop on another computer, download the drivers to a USB drive, then install them on the laptop. Wrong! Good ol’ 98 has no USB mass storage support so that’s not possible. Thinking back to the turn of the century (yes, TURN OF THE CENTURY. we can say that.) the logical step would have been to bring out the ever-useful-but-hated 3.5″ floppy disk. Oh but wait, our dear late Steven P. Jobs helped start the “Legacy-free PC” trend, which means that none of my computers has a floppy drive. I could burn all the drivers on a CD, but that would be a waste of blank media. Staring at my coffee table in search of inspiration, I noticed a D-Link driver CD-ROM I had been using as a coaster. It was the driver for a Cardbus 10/100 Ethernet card. Perfect. Just connect the Cardbus NIC, install drivers from the CD, then download everything else directly via wired network.

Anyway, I’m too lazy to write the rest of the install process up, and nobody would read it anyway, so here are some links to useful tools and info for running Windows 98  today.


Note: Yes, I know, not technically 14 years later, seeing as it’s Win98SE.

Remove the Open File Security Warning in XP | vNate

By , 2012-01-06 15:58

Remove the Open File Security Warning in XP | vNate.

A concise tutorial on how to disable the annoying “Open File – Security Warning” popup and associated time delay/latency in Windows XP SP2 and higher.

Fix scrolling in GTK apps (Pidgin) on Windows

By , 2011-11-15 18:45

Synaptics makes great touch technology. Their performance and drivers have always been, in my experience, much better than their Alps counterparts.

Except in one specific situation: using the trackpad’s edge scrolling feature in Pidgin.

Turns out the problem is because the Synaptics touchpad enhancer app displays a custom cursor while scrolling in such a way that prevents GTK apps from reading the scrolling action. Not sure on what end the bug is, but the good news is there’s a simple registry fix:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00


Either copy-paste the above into Notepad and save as “DisableSynTPCursor-FixScrollPidgin.reg” or something less complex, and import it into the registry. Or make the change manually.

Fix thanks to mindelirium88.

Browser benchmarks

By , 2010-10-15 14:14

OK, so you still use Windows. That’s cool. It’s a fine OS, and there are some things it does that Linux and Mac just don’t.

But still using IE, now that’s crazy. It’s not standards-compliant (sure, Firefox isn’t either, but it’s close), it’s not customizable (except in the form of those ridiculous search toolbars), it’s not cross-platform (yeah yeah, you don’t need it to be because you only use Windows), it’s usually more vulnerable to attack and it’s just downright buggy.

If that’s not enough, here’s my final point: it’s SLOW. And to support this point, graphs! Everyone loves graphs, right?

Above graphs stolen from Ars Technica: Windows browsers benchmarked: October 2010 edition.

Netgear WNDA3100v1 driver only

By , 2010-05-25 00:33

The Netgear WNDA3100 is a pretty nice wireless adapter, but the drivers from Netgear are bundled with a crappy management software. I extracted the basic driver files from the .exe provided so that I can install the hardware using the Windows standard methods.

The 7z contains the Windows XP/2003 and Vista/7 drivers.

WNDA3100v1 Driver

Custom theme by me. Based on Panorama by Themocracy