How to speed up Windows 10 (Technical Preview – Build 9926)

If you are a Windows 10 Technical Preview “pioneer”, you will already be loving the enhanced GUI, Cortana and the new Notification Center etc. HOWEVER you might find it goes a bit slow at times and, if you like to keep an eye on Task Manager, you’ll note that CPU utilisation can shoot up randomly – so here are two Woody Gems® for how to remediate that:

Warning: If you are currently running Windows 10 Technical Preview, then this article assumes that you know what you are doing. If you are unused to using regedit or of a slightly nervous disposition, then DON’T TOUCH THAT DIAL – here is a picture of some kittens instead.

1. If enabled, speed up Windows 10 by disabling Windows Installer logging

See: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/223300

Note: The “Fix it” won’t run on Windows 10 – so ensure that you delete (if it exists) this key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Installer\Logging

2. STOP the Diagnostic Tracking service:

In Task Manager,  find and expand, the Service Host Local System with from 17 – 23 processes/services. Right-Click the Diagnostics Tracking Service and select “Stop”

Task Manager

[Yes, you could permanently disable this Service – but given that I am not entirely sure what it does – except for chewing CPU cycles – it might be safer to just stop it as needed]

That’s it – Windows 10 Technical Preview will go like the clappers now.

BT line with Caller ID/Display? Your bill is about to increase – as BT slides a cheeky price increase (from 4th Jan 2014) under the radar…

So, I have a BT line with “Caller ID” – AKA “Caller Display”, you know, the BT Calling “Feature” that shows that your mother-in-law is calling the telephone number of the person calling you.

imageUp until now, BT Caller Display has been free – as long as you make at least two “chargeable or inclusive” calls a month – otherwise a £2.00 a month charge applies.

However, did you know that from 4th January 2014, this previously free service will cost you an extra £1.75 per month?

You may not have been unduly concerned as you poked around in BT’s completely obfuscated and impenetrable website, because it clearly says here “BT Privacy with Caller Display will cost £1.75 a month from 4 January 2014, but existing customers of the service can pre-register to continue getting it free for 12 months.

So that’s OK – quickly register for BT Privacy and neatly side step the £1.75 per month price increase then. Oh no … I didn’t use the word “obfuscated” for nothing!

Scroll right to the bottom of this page and open the section entitled “The legal stuff”. Now, scroll down to the paragraph that starts BT Privacy with Caller Display Free for 12 months and see that it is hiding this little gem “Pre-register before 6th December 2013”.

So you did pre-register before 6th December 2013 for your BT Privacy with Caller Display Free for 12 months didn’t you?

If, by now, you are as annoyed as me by what I consider to be a hidden con, then you may just be looking for a new supplier for your phone line…

There are hundreds of suppliers out there – so you can do your own homework, but having two telephone lines, one already with Plusnet Broadband on it and the other that just needs to be a (now non-BT grrr…) phone line only, I went off and did a comparison. This revealed that I should swap one line (the line that already has my Plusnet broadband) to Plusnet and the voice only phone line to Madasafish.

Feel free to use this table to plug in your own figures:

 

BT

Plusnet

Madasafish

Line Rental (per month)

£15.99

£14.50

£11.99

Caller Display

£1.75

£0.99

£0.99

Unlimited Anytime calls

£7.00

£5.00

£5.00

Monthly Total (if paying line rental monthly)

£24.74

£20.49

£17.98

 

 

 

 

Line Rental Saver (pay 12 months in advance)

£141 pa (£11.75 pm)

£131.88 pa (£10.99 pm)

N/A

Equivalent monthly total if purchasing Line Rental Saver.

£20.50

£16.98

N/A

Monthly total if adding Unlimited (up to) 16MB Broadband

£45.74

£22.99

Not an economic proposition

Monthly total if adding Unlimited (up to) 16MB Broadband and purchasing Line Rental Saver

£41.50

£19.48

 

Year 1 total cost

£435

£233.76

 

Year 2 total cost

£498

£323.64

 

Total over 2 years

£933

£557.4

 

Notes:

1. BT own Plusnet, who in turn own Madasafish. Plusnet have UK based 24/7 support and multiple awards.

2. It is not possible to purchase a phone only service from Plusnet.

3. While it is possible to purchase broadband from Madasafish – it is simply not an economic proposition but, weirdly, you do get 100MB of web space included – so may be useful for someone?

4. All figures include current offers: BT – half price broadband at £10.50 for first 6 months and £21.00 per month thereafter AND Plusnet – broadband at £2.50 for first 12 months and £9.99 per month thereafter.

A fix for connectivity issues with Intel Centrino WiFi and Windows 8/Windows 8.1 (trouble with the new laptop you got for Christmas?)

Updated 31st December 2013 based on personal testing, direct feedback as a result of this article and the conversation on the Intel Wireless Networking Community (67 pages about this problem so far …) here.

image

Purchasers of Laptops with Intel WiFi adapters seem to have been having a hard time of it lately and have been reporting one of more of the following issues:

On upgrading from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1, their WiFi no longer works or has become unreliable.

and/or

Even on Windows 8 (yet to upgrade to Windows 8.1) their WiFi connection is unreliable – or doesn’t work at all – see the protests at the Intel Support Community web site.

and/or

With Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, folk experience various application hangs or failures – like the new (to Windows 8) IE11 hangs or appears to mis-render pages and Lync and Outlook appear to hang or lose connectivity.

If you are experiencing any or all of these symptoms, do this:

a) It is generally held that the most stable Intel Centrino WiFi driver for Windows 8 is version 14.8.8.75. This is the base driver that comes in the box with Windows 8, so if you are still on Windows 8 (as opposed to 8.1) roll back your Intel WiFi driver to 14.8.8.75.

b) If that doesn’t work, or you are already on Windows 8.1:

1. Control Panel –> Programs and Features and REMOVE any Intel® PROSet/Wireless Software but DO NOT  remove anything that says it is Intel® PROSet/Wireless Software for BLUETOOTH® technology

AND

2. UPDATE your Intel WiFi driver to 15.10.5.1 for Windows 8 or 15.10.5.1 for Windows 8.1.

IMPORTANT: ONLY install the updated drivers and NOT the full Intel® PROSet/Wireless Software – so only download and install the file that is:

Wireless_16.7.0_De164.exe for 64bit Windows 8.1
Wireless_16.7.0_De132.exe for 32bit Windows 8.1

Wireless_16.7.0_De64.exe for 64bit Windows 8
Wireless_16.7.0_De32.exe for 32bit Windows 8

[The “D” in the driver name, stands for “Drivers only” – and no, I haven’t the faintest idea why Intel should publish a driver update with a version of 16.7.0 which installs a driver version 15.10.5.1 …]

AND

3. Once the driver version 15.10.5.1 is installed and the PC has been re-booted, Control Panel –> Device Manager –>  Intel(R) Centrino(R) Advanced-N 6235 –> Properties –> Power Management and REMOVE the tick from the “Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power” checkbox:

image

c) If you still experience problems once you have upgraded your WiFi drivers, then try the Intel WiDi Update Tool.

WiDi is Intel’s implementation of Miracast – which allows mobile PC screens to be Download WiDi Tool Imageprojected wirelessly, via WiFi, to a suitably Miracast enabled display. Miracast requires the correct combination of Screen drivers, WiFi drivers and supporting software, so this is a good tool to run to ensure that you have all the correct drivers loaded for your particular laptop.

So, none of that worked?

OK, roll your sleeves up for this – but it’s not for the feint hearted:

Testing with friends and colleagues has now conclusively proved that some Broadband Routers with WiFi can hang and lose connectivity with Windows 8/8.1 devices if they have UPnP switched on (which is the default for most routers). To the laptop user, this router hang will appear as a local WiFi problem – i.e. the laptop user will think they have a problem with their Laptop Intel WiFi – when it is actually the router that you are connected to that has the problem.

Switching OFF UPnP on affected routers has a very high probability of fixing your WiFi network dropout/hang issue and to date, I haven’t found any adverse effects (Xbox gaming e.t.c. still seems to work fine with UPnP switched off).

Unfortunately, you will have to work out how to switch off UPnP for your particular router by reading its manual I am afraid, but I can tell you that testing so far indicates that the following routers hang with Windows 8/8.1 if UPnP is left turned on:

Plusnet, BE, Zen, Andrews and Arnold, O2,TalkTalk and other UK ISP’s Technicolor TG582N

image

Virgin Media (UK) Superhub

image

Orange/EE Broadband Brightbox (AKA the Arcadyan AR7516)

image

No, I have no idea what it is about Windows 8/8.1 which is causing a problem with UPnP in some routers – but I will update this article.

If you turn off UPnP on other routers and find that it improves stability, please tell me, and I can add them to the list here:

Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 WiFi works fine without having to turn UPnP off with:

Netgear DG834G V4 with  V5.01.16 – DGTeam Rev. 1018 firmware

Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 WiFi works fine when UPnP is turned off  with:

Technicolor TG582Ndisable by clicking “Game & Application Sharing” in the toolbox menu and under “Universal Plug and Play” there should be a checkbox to enable/disable UPnP.

Virgin Media (UK) Superhub

Orange/EE Broadband Brightbox

-

A fix for when Windows 8.1 (RT) and Server 2012 R2 December 2013 update rollup (KB2903939) fails to install

image

On 12th December 2013, Microsoft released Windows RT 8.1, Windows 8.1, and Windows Server 2012 R2 update rollup: December 2013 – KB2903939 which will be offered to most folk via Windows Update.

There are reports that this update is failing with neither the Windows Update troubleshooter or the alternative DISM.exe /online /cleanup-image /restore health e.t.c. (that the troubleshooter suggests as an alternate approach) fixing the problem.

All the usual caveats apply – so don’t sue me … but if you are similarly affected, try this:

1. Download KB2903939 as a standalone from here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=41294 (if you have a 32bit – X86 install, you need this instead)

2. Actually download BOTH the subsequently offered Windows8.1-KB2903939-x64.msu AND Windows8.1-KB2911134-x64.msu

3. Run Windows8.1-KB2911134-x64.msu – (but NOT Windows8.1-KB2903939-x64.msu)

4. Spin up Powershell (type “Powershell” in an admin DOS cmd prompt).

5. In the Powershell prompt, run each of these commands:

set-service trustedinstaller -startuptype Disabled

reg load HKLM\COMPONENTS $env:windir\system32\config\COMPONENTS

Remove-Item -Path HKLM:\Components\DerivedData\VersionedIndex\* -Recurse

reg unload HKLM\COMPONENTS

set-service trustedinstaller -startuptype Automatic

6. Run Windows8.1-KB2903939-x64.msu (that you downloaded in step 2)

7. Restart – when prompted.

How to reliably connect a monitor that has a DVI input (like a Dell U2412M) to HDMI

I wrote in Asus Zenbook UX31A (or any Intel HD4000/HDMI graphics) fix for no HDMI output to an external monitor in Windows 8 (should work for Windows 7) about a technique for connecting the DVI port of a monitor to HDMI output from a PC with Intel HD4000 graphics.

In that article I alluded to a potential problem in the way the Intel HD4000 chipset implements HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection).

I now know, through buying and experimenting with different cables and HDMI/DVI adapters, that I was wrong….

I have tested the following recommended components on the (micro) HDMI output of both a Microsoft Surface RT and an Asus Zenbook UX31A and the results are repeatable – in that no other cables/adapters (that I have purchased thus far) work – apart from the following:

If you want to reliably connect the DVI port of a monitor – and in particular, a Dell U2412M, to micro or regular sized HDMI, you need one of these:

image

This is the HD-9002 “DVI-D Male to HDMI Female Adaptor / Convertor – 24+1 Pins – PC Card to HDMI TV” from Cabling4Less.co.uk – which at the time of writing, is £2.49 inclusive of delivery from their eBay listing or £4.80 from their Cabling4Less website.

While you can see (obviously) that this is a male DVI connector, what is not so obvious, is that the other end of this adapter is a female full size HDMI socket – for connecting to an HDMI or micro HDMI cable of your choice.

Now, while the Cabling4Less adapter did the trick with a number of HDMI cables I imagetried, an honourable mention must go to the “Premium 1.5m Gold Micro HDMI Cable to Connect Amazon Kindle Fire HD to TV LCD” from juicebitz for £3.85 delivered.

Not only does the quality of manufacture seem to be a cut above most cables (juicebitz say that they manufacture the cables themselves) but it has immediately removed the little one pixel sized random green dots that I used to get in dark areas of photos with other cables I used.

Asus Zenbook UX31A (or any Intel HD4000/HDMI graphics) Black Screen in Windows 8 workaround (should work for Windows 7)

This is Part 1 of a two part article – only separated to make it easier for those with this particular problem to search for this.

This is a very niche article, I grant you, but of you are reading it, chances are, you have this problem and while my experience is specifically with the Asus Zenbook UX31A, searching the internet reveals that it seems to be a common and generic problem with Intel HD4000 graphics.

The Problem:

Randomly (it’s not reliably reproducible) you boot your PC or return from sleep or hibernation and you are presented with just a black screen. Hitting the power button for a hard reboot doesn’t help, you just get booted back up into a black screen.

The Explanation:

I am indebted to Seth Eliot for pointing out, that when you have a black screen, this is normally because the PC is outputting a display on the (micro) HDMI port – even though you don’t have a screen connected to the HDMI port. Worse than that, the HD4000 graphics seem to have made your non-existent HDMI monitor the default display.

The Workaround:

imagePress the Windows Key and “P” together, followed by tapping the Up Arrow twice. This should select the projection screen dialogue (try it on your PC BEFORE you have this problem to simulate the action) and two presses should select “PC Screen only” and bring Windows back to your PC screen.

And if that doesn’t work?

Well, you could try turning it off and then back on again …….

Note: This is NOT a fix for the BLUE screen login problem – where you have the blue Windows login screen but no user/password box to allow you to login. I haven’t the faintest idea how to fix that!

Asus Zenbook UX31A (or any Intel HD4000/HDMI graphics) fix for no HDMI output to an external monitor in Windows 8 (should work for Windows 7)

This is Part 2 of a two part article – only separated to make it easier for those with this particular problem to search for this.

This is a very niche article, I grant you, but of you are reading it, chances are, you have this problem – and while my experience is specifically with the Asus Zenbook UX31A, searching the internet reveals that it seems to be a common and generic problem with Intel HD4000 graphics and HDMI output to an external monitor.

The Problem:

The internet is awash with folk having problems getting any output from the micro-HDMI port on their Intel HD4000 graphics chipset PC’s – and this includes the Asus Zenbook UX31A, as this thread on the Intel Community site attests.

I have the problem myself, in that I found it impossible to drive a Dell monitor in extended mode via the micro-HDMI (most Zenbook UX31A users would use the micro VGA dongle – so wouldn’t come across this problem, but those who, ahem, have lost their VGA dongle are now forced to go the micro-HDMI route….).

I am therefore indebted to Cognus who has written this article over at Eightforums, which seems to suggest that the problem is fundamentally due to a chipset design error in the way Intel implements HDCP and it is probably not possible to fix it via a driver update. This has enabled me (via trial and error) to develop a repeatable process which will, if a little inelegant, drive an external monitor via (micro) HDMI.

The (temporary) fix:

Presuming that the screen is working on your Intel HD4000 laptop, here are some pictures of the technique I use to get the micro HDMI to output to an external monitor:

1. In Windows Device Manager, right click Intel® HD Graphics 4000, select “Properties” and then select the “Driver” tab:

image

2. Click the “Uninstall” button and be sure to select the “Delete the driver software for this device” checkbox:

image

3. You will then see that your display device completely disappears from the list of devices:

image

4. Select the top item in the device list (which will have the name of your PC) and in the Action drop-down, select “Scan for hardware changes”:

image

5. At this point, there will be a bit of screen flashing and your external (micro) HDMI monitor should spring into life. You will also note that Windows has detected your HD4000 graphics display, but has installed its default driver:

image

6. Keep the faith, because very quickly, Windows seems to decide that that is not the right driver, and automatically installs Intel driver version 9.17.10.2932:

image

7. Hit “Restart later” – because you are going to need to repeat this process every time you can’t get an external monitor to work via HDMI – so there is no point in restarting and putting you back to square one:

image

Of course, if anyone has a better process (I have tried the latest Intel V9.17.10.2875.01 video drivers – and it doesn’t make any difference) please do comment.

Malware Hunting and Windows Troubleshooting with Mark Russinovich and Microsoft Sysinternals tools

Mark Russinovich is a Microsoft teWindows Sysinternalschnical fellow, who a few of my, ahem, more mature readership will remember from his Winternals Windows tools company – which turned into Windows Sysinternals when Microsoft bought his company and hired Mark.

Mark is a an easy to follow and very engaging presenter who delivered two great sessions at TechED 2013 US:

Case of the Unexplained 2013: Windows Troubleshooting with Mark Russinovich

In which Mark walks you “step-by-step through how he has solved seemingly unsolvable system and application problems on Windows.

With all new real case studies, Mark shows how to apply the Microsoft Debugging Tools and his own Sysinternals tools, including Process Explorer, Process Monitor, to solve system crashes, process hangs, security vulnerabilities, DLL conflicts, permissions problems, registry misconfiguration, network hangs, and file system issues.

License to Kill: Malware Hunting with the Sysinternals Tools

Mark delivers “an overview of several Sysinternals tools, including Process Monitor, Process Explorer, and Autoruns, focusing on the features useful for malware analysis and removal.

These utilities enable deep inspection and control of processes, file system and registry activity, and autostart execution points. You will see demos for their malware-hunting capabilities through several real-world cases that used the tools to identify and clean malware, and conclude by performing a live analysis of a Stuxnet infection’s system impact.

—–

If you want to increase your skills at troubleshooting Windows issues or you are currently fighting a virus/malware infection (or not even sure if you have a malware or virus infection) then these videos are very good use of your time – and of course, the whole plethora of Windows Sysinternals tools are well worth evaluating.

Note: These videos are available for download – you don’t have to only watch them streaming. No need for get_iplayer and therefore Microsoft 1, BBC Nil…

How to download (for offline playing) BBC TV or Radio iPlayer programmes using get_iplayer [an alternative to Radio Downloader]

First, the sanity clause:
I am NOT a Lawyer – and therefore not an expert on the legality (or otherwise) of downloading material that the BBC make freely available for subsequent offline viewing or listening. However, I have paid my TV licence to the BBC and consider that downloading BBC material for offline playing once – as if I had watched it at the time of original transmission – followed by subsequent deletion (not retention) is fair use and my right as one of the folk who have contributed to the BBC for the original production of this material.

Reading further, is your acknowledgement and acceptance of the same principles and you confirm that BBC material obtained as a result of this article is for your own, temporary use. Furthermore, you acknowledge that the author of this article is NOT the author of the applications listed and that this article only points to products and information that already exist freely in the public domain.  

I am indebted to Matt Robinson, who wrote the original Radio Downloader and who therefore brought a little sunshine into my life, by allowing me to listen to the previous night’s Zane Lowe on my Walkman while I commuted to work.

It appears that Matt has now received a “Cease and Desist” order from the BBC which is so sad – as it follows on from the unnecessary approach the BBC took with Lawrence Gripper – when they had previously been more than happy for him to promote them via his Windows Phone app (however, fear not BBC News fans, an alternative called “Paper Boy” is on the way!).

So, the search was on to find an alternate way of downloading (for offline listening) BBC Radio programmes.

Step forward, David Woodhouse and his brilliant get-iplayer

 image

Now, get_iplayer is an extremely feature rich application which runs on Windows and Linux. In addition, it can be run in either command mode or via a Windows interface.

More technically advanced readers will probably find the command mode to their taste – but I prefer to use the Windows interface, which is not immediately intuitive if it is your first time of using this application.

So, follow these steps to iPlayer programme download and offline listen/viewing nirvana:

1. Download and install get-iplayer.

2. Once installed, run Get_Iplayer:

clip_image002

3. If get_iplayer is working and correctly installed, it will give you a screen that looks like this:

clip_image004

4. Wait for step 3. to finish and drop back to a prompt and then select the Web PVR Manager:

clip_image006

5. This should open a get_iplayer Search interface (in your default browser) that will search the catalogue that it downloaded in step 2. [It is a good idea to re-run step 2 in order to update the current programme catalogue on each separate occasion that you want to record something].

6. For TV programmes, just do a search and select “record” in the little box next to the programme that you want to record. This will open up a new page and you will see that programme being locally downloaded to your PC.

Note: that what gets downloaded has NO DRM – so in theory, you can keep it as long as you want – as long as you have purchased a UK TV licence I guess (I am not a Lawyer).

7. For Radio Programmes,

Either:

1) Put a tick in the box for BBC Radio

2) Put the name of the Radio Station in the “Channels containing” box.

3) Click “Apply Settings”

image

(I am indebted to Ed Savage for working this bit out for me!)

Then:

1) Put a matching word from the title of the Radio programme (that you are searching for) in the “Search” box.

2) Click “Search”

3) Click “Record”

image

OR

If the search doesn’t find the programme you want to record, try:

a) Locating the radio programme you want to record in here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio# and copy the link (url).

b) Put that url into the Web PVR Manager Quick URL box and then press “Record” – which is the second one along after “SEARCH”

8. You will then see a new web page open in your browser which will show the download status and other technical info about the media being downloaded:

image

Look out for “Download complete” and you are done!

Please additionally feel free to comment on this article with your tips and tricks for getting the most out of get-iplayer.

How to do things that you can't find info about anywhere else

Mele in Spain

Modern languages student, studying in Alicante and eating far too much tapas

GripDev

Code, Apps and Thoughts @lawrencegripper

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