Category Archives: GeekStuff


FIX: Widgets and Chat Won’t Open on Windows 11

On a recent clean install of Windows 11 on a brand-new machine, I ran into an issue with two core parts of the Windows 11 experience:

  1. Widgets did not open when I clicked on the button: the icon would animate and then restore itself
  2. Chat [from the Taskbar] would sometimes open with a “We ran into an issue” or just ignore the click entirely

There was never an error message or anything in the Event Log calling out the issue – it just didn’t work. Most of the reports online were calling out issues from the pre-release versions but most of it didn’t apply to the released builds of Windows. Additionally, I’ve been running on Windows 11 for a long, long time and have never seen this issue before (and we’re talking ~300 clean installs over a period of 18 months) which left me perplexed. Given how I planned to use this machine, I shrugged and turned off the Widgets and Chat buttons on the taskbar and continued the rest of my installs.

Shortly after I put the PC into its new home, I remoted into the box and said “ah, lemme try Widgets now” and lo! I get an error message:

You need Microsoft Edge WebView2 Runtime

Oh ko! An error string that is searchable? I can work with that. What’s odd is that I know I had WebView2 installed at some point already because it had like nine instances running while Edge was off. I don’t think I disabled it in anyway, so that tells me some other new install must have knocked it off the box.

That said, I found an install point for the WebView2 Runtime here: https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-edge/webview2/ – after installing the x64 runtime, Widgets and Chat both began to work without issue.

Leaving this as a note to myself as much as sharing it with others.

How to Fix macOS App Store

It seems that if I don’t use my MacBook often enough it punishes me by making a screensaver out of the macOS App Store. At least, that what it feels like, since it opens with an empty split-view scene and immediately goes into a blissfully restful state that shows me a spinning beachball until I Force Quit it. It also seems that this is one of the more widespread issues with macOS right now as there are hundreds of “how to fix” articles, which is ironic for something that Just Works.

In the most recent instance of this issue I found one workaround and one fix, so I’m making notes to myself:

  • Seems you can update macOS via Terminal, with:
    • softwareupdate -i -a
  • If you have an account issue – and you have no way of knowing that you do, so this is a “give it a try” fix – you can reset your default Keychains:
    • Go to the Keychain Access app, open the app Preferences, and select Reset my default keychains

If you try the fix you may want to reboot or sign in/out and some setting may have shifted but it depends on your setup and preferences. For me, I just rebooted, and viola! the App Store showed up fine and started taking updates again.

Setting a Network Connect to Private

Over the last few months, I’ve noticed at home that my network adapters on Windows 10 spontaneously flip to from Private to Public. At first I thought it was a Windows bug but I think it’s related to my router because it seems to happen on a number of machines, all at once. Annoying too because Private has things like network discovery turned on, while Public does not.

Anyway, because of this, I decided that it’s easier to fix this via PowerShell script rather than dink around in the UI. Basically, run this script with Admin privileges (assuming you have one network connection, as you have to call out the “active network”) to set the network to Private:

Set-NetConnectionProfile -Name (Get-NetConnectionProfile -InterfaceAlias Wi-Fi).Name -NetworkCategory Private

Carry on.

Notes to Self: Minecraft Edition

How to build a portal to the Nether: take some blocks of obsidian and build a rectangle that looks like a door to no where on the ground. Then take an Iron Nugget and mix it with some iron ore and flint to make a “Flint and Steel”. Step up to the portal you just built and ignite the portal. Further note to self: this is a two way portal so unless you try to sleep in the Nether next to it you’ll be fine.

How to build a portal to the End: build a portal that lays on the ground out of End Portal blocks. Lay down three, turn right lay down three more, and continue until you are standing in a square that is 3×3 on the inside. Now, stand directly in front of the first Ender Stone and put an Eye of Ender on top of it. Move to the left and put another Eye onto the next Stone. Stand directly in front of the Stone when you place the Eye. Once you do all nine, the portal activates immediately and you go to the End.

How to get back to the End: kill the dragon. Or type this in chat: /kill @e[type=minecraft:ender_dragon] and then go to the center of the pillars. You’ll find a portal there.

Praised be the Washington State Convention Center (Sakura-con)

Over the years I’ve seen and experienced random things at Sakura-con.

For those of you that have never heard of this con, it’s a conference that has been run in Seattle, WA – always on Easter weekend – for anyone that appreciates anime, manga, cosplay, video games, and Japanese culture. For example, they have a manga library, where anyone can stop in and read up for free. They have whole rooms dedicated to Go or trying on kimono and taiko drum demonstrations right next to the latest video games from Japan and other rooms filled classic consoles and CRTs. Anyone interested in attending the con just needs to buy a ticket: it’s not for professionals or industry folks and a ton of people come from out of state to spend three days geeking out over almost everything.

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Edge with no tabs

I’ve hated tabs before tabs were a thing. Back in “the day” most applications followed a design called the Multi-Document Interface ideal: you had one app window with a lot of document windows within it. If you’ve been around long enough, you will remember the day when apps like Word started opening individual documents with their own Word environment, ushering in the SDI (Single Document Interface) era which was sparked by Mosaic, Netscape, and Internet Explorer.

Then something went wrong. I know OS/2 had tabs. So did Lotus Notes. So does OneNote, which I love, but in all of these cases, they used tabs to logically split functional groups of controls. It wasn’t about keeping documents together. But now it’s 2018 and we have Edge, Chrome, and Firefox all offering tab bars that are auto-populating themselves with content that you can’t [ironically] ALT+Tab or Command+Tab to.

Recently, Edge has changed to that if I forget to hold down the Shift key when I click on a link, it opens in the same window or in a new tab. Rather than trying to remember holding down the key, I thought it would be best to have an Edge extension take care of this for me.

Edge with no tabs is pretty simple: any time Edge opens a new tab, it grabs the URL, opens a new window, and passes the URL to it. Then it cleans up the now abandoned tab. I also put this in the Microsoft Store so installing it is the same as any other extension, but I’ve included a direct link to it to save you time. Also, as with most of my projects these days, it’s an open source thing so you can check out the source as well!

Edge with no tabs 1.0: install | source code

Windows 10: Turn on SMB v1 for clean installs (starting with 1709)

Over the weekend, we got a new desktop in the house and as per usual, I blew away the bloated pre-installed image in favor for a clean install of Windows 10 Pro. Post install, I found 4 drivers that defaulted to the built-in Windows versions; clicking “Update driver” immediately reached out to Windows Update and I had a completed and successful install. Some time after that, Jolene mentioned that “Scan to network folder” from our HP printer wasn’t working and if I could take a look at it.

Six hours later I was ready to smash the desktop and the printer in short order. I considered peeing on the monitor for good measure. This note is to prevent the same problem from happening in the future.

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Thanks, CodePlex – Hello, GitHub

Looks like CodePlex is beginning it’s long ride off into the sunset! As part of that, people that have their source code in the TFS instance we being encouraged to migrate their projects to GitHub. It’s a pretty straightforward process and so I’ve been spending some time getting my existing source up there:

SharpKeys, for keyboard remapping: https://github.com/randyrants/sharpkeys

SharpMT, for blog writing: https://github.com/randyrants/sharpmt

Compile and enjoy!

RDC, DPI, and You

I recently became the proud owner of a Lenovo Yoga X1. This replaced my generation Lenovo X1 Carbon, which is only being retired because of some wonky video connections on the mini-DP port. Fine box otherwise even after three years.

One of the new features of the Yoga X1 – and there have been a bunch I didn’t even know about, like the Wacom-based pen! – is the extremely high resolution display at 2560×1440. While I love the concept of having so many lines of resolution, the laptop still have a 14″-or so screen, which means you almost have to start messing around with the font size, aka DPI. Being able to change the DPI value has been in Windows for a while, like I think Windows 95 or maybe even Windows 3.1. For decades I’ve left it alone. You see, for DPI to be useful, applications have to support it. In more modern applications – think .NET 2.0 and newer – this Just Works but for older apps it’s one of those things developers were supposed to do but almost never bothered with. Like bidi text or help systems.

With modern boxes with uber-big resolutions, keeping the DPI at 100% is nearly impossible. I’ve run 1920×1080 on a 15″ display with DPI set to 100% but trying to do 2560×1440 on a 14″ display isn’t going to work. The worst part of this is how the DPI changes have been impacting my Remote Desktop Connections.

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