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Last updated April 20, 2022.

Imagine if the FBI asked you to put a device in your house that is always listening. The FBI promises us that it will only listen for certain things, such as gunshots or the voices of people on the FBI’s most wanted list. In exchange for this device that is always listening, you are getting greater safety. After all, if someone fired a handgun in your house, the FBI device can automatically dispatch the police much faster than you could dial 911. Would you volunteer for that?

Just change a few words and you have people not only volunteering but paying money to do so. Imagine if Google asked you to buy a device for your house that is always listening. Google promises us that it will only listen for certain things, such OK Google. In exchange for this device always listening, you are getting some convenience. After all, if you wanted to make coffee, OK Google can automatically start your coffee maker faster than you could.

And what convenience! I can unlock my door with my smartphone. I can turn on my lights without using my legs. I can find out about something without the hassle of typing.

Here is the bottom line: Can you really trust a for-profit business to permanently respect your privacy? (Especially one whose business it is not to respect your privacy.) Can you really trust that these devices will always be secure?

Smart homes are a dumb idea. And I can also say smart cars are a dumb idea as well. These are all solutions looking for a problem.

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This post has been updated.

A lot of people think I dislike Apple products. I once had no problem with the quality of Apple products, but that has changed. Now, because of how lousy the quality is and how horribly Apple treats the customer, I strongly recommend you avoid any and all Apple products like the plague. I am going to links to Youtube videos that show how Apple has no problem lying to you and treating you like dirt. No other company can treat people the way Apple does and stay in business. View full article »

In early September 2022, Microsoft released a bad version of Microsoft Edge, build 105. The solution was to rollback the version. These are the simplified instructions on how you can do that. Microsoft’s rollback instructions are at https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/deployedge/edge-learnmore-rollback.

  1. Go to https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/edge/business/download and download an older version of Edge. The older versions are below the download buttons at the top. As of the time of this post, the most recent build was 105, so I had to choose a 104 build.
  2. After downloading, open a command prompt as an Administrator and then go to the folder where the file was downloaded.
  3. Type the following command in the command prompt: msiexec /I MicrosoftEdgeEnterpriseX64.msi /qn ALLOWDOWNGRADE=1
    1. Note that the file name MicrosoftEdgeEnterpriseX64.msi may be different.
  4. Wait. There will be no confirmation that it was successful.

UPDATE: The reason why build 105 of Edge stopped working is because of a bug related to an obsolete setting. You need to delete the registry keys HKCU\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Edge\MetricsReportingEnabled and HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Edge\MetricsReportingEnabled. Check both places, but it may not exist at one of them.

These are the simplified instructions to install a Pi-Hole on a Raspberry Pi device. You will need any Raspberry Pi with an ethernet adapter and a high-endurance microSD card. If ever you Pi-Hole device begins to freeze up, it is because your microSD card is bad or you need to use a legacy version of Pi OS. View full article »

Here is a problem that seems to affect phones using Verizon’s network. Although it may affect other carriers. I recently switched from AT&T to Visible Wireless — which is a Verizon subsidiary — and I started to have trouble with visual voicemail on my phone. Numerous chats to Visible’s support people didn’t help. I finally figured out it was my VPN causing the problem.

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People know how I feel about smart speakers and smart homes. I also feel the same way about smart TV’s. I always recommend people DO NOT connect their TV to the internet. The saying goes “jack-of-all-trades, master of none”. A smart TV cannot be as good as a standalone device, such as Roku or Fire Stick. (While not a smart TV, I actually paid extra for a dumb blu-ray player from Oppo that didn’t have any apps. Unfortunately, Oppo no longer makes blu-ray players.)

Well, here is one more reason to hate smart TV’s: They have the ability to analyze what you are watching and can sell that information to advertisers. This is true whether you are watching by an antenna, cable, or even a blu-ray movie. And TV makers are now starting to take advantage of this technology. For instance, Vizio now inserts ads into your TV while you are watching the show.

You can stop Vizio and every other TV maker from knowing what you are watching by simply never connecting the TV to the internet! A simple fix to stop this greedy nonsense forever.

If ever you have a laptop that will not come on, do not assume the motherboard is bad. It may be something connected to the motherboard that is bad. I have had many HP laptops with this problem. But it is possible that it affects other models too.

This problem happened after I just replaced the broken screen, which at my cost was $180. (It is a beautiful screen.) A few weeks later, this HP laptop no longer powered on. The LED light by the power connector – which is integrated into the power connector – never came on. Since this light only comes on when the motherboard works, I naturally assumed the laptop motherboard was defective. The person was using a cheap generic Chinese power adapter and I thought it could have damaged the motherboard.

But, I was wrong. Here is how I eventually figured this out.

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Here is a problem that plagues many versions of Microsoft Outlook. You have no emails in the outbox, but every time you use Outlook, it is trying to an email. You may also get a send error. The underlying problem is Outlook had trouble sending a read receipt. Which can cause other read receipts to never send. Emails in the outbox may or may go through as well. In my experience, some did send and some did not.

The problem goes back to so many versions of Outlook, that Microsoft has provided a tool and instructions to fix the problem.

I would also recommend you use the scanpst tool after this, and then compact the PST data file.

Update: Sometimes the Microsoft tool does not work. In that case, you will have to create a new Outlook PST file. You will have to do this with the Mail option in the Control Panel. The only way to properly do that is to add a second instance of the same email address while making sure it uses a new Outlook PST file, then migrate all emails to the second instance within the Outlook program, then close Outlook when done, then go back to the Mail in the Control Panel and remove the first instance of the email address.

Laptop System Fan Failure

I had a HP laptop that was giving a system fan failure message on boot. The service code from HP was 90B, but related codes on HP’s website show it might also be a 900, 909, 90A, and 90F code. The CPU fan would spin up and down constantly and the CPU speed was capped at a very low speed. This made the laptop very slow.

I fixed this by disconnecting the fan and hard drive, turning on the notebook computer, then turning it off, and re-connecting the fan and hard drive. After doing that, everything worked just fine. This simple fix might work for other laptop computers.

There are some others things I recommend doing while you are doing all this.

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Windows 11

I have just bought a new laptop just so I can experiment with Windows 11. I eventually settled on the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro Generation 6. I chose this one only because of the screen. It has a 16″ screen (instead of the standard 15.6″ screen on laptops) that is Dolby Vision certified. I thought about some with an OLED screen, but you have to be careful with image burn-in for those screens. This laptop was on sale and I had a coupon. With tax, I paid $256 less than the MSRP (which doesn’t include tax). And even better, it shipped from Durham so I got it the next day! (I always thought it was funny that Lenovo, a Chinese company, still builds computers in North Carolina but HP and Dell, American companies, build most of their computers in China.)

These are my experiences with Windows 11. I am going to save you some time and sum up my experiences so far with this statement: overall, Windows 11 is even worse than Windows 10.

This post will be periodically updated. Content may change.

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HP Printer is Very Slow

Here is a problem that affects some HP printers. I can confirm that it affects the OfficeJet 3830 series. It appears that it only affects printers with two ink cartridges. The printer does a sweep, pauses for about 15 seconds, does the next sweep, pauses for about 15 seconds, and so on.

The problem with the printer is that one ink cartridge is bad. You need to remove one and test the printer in single cartridge mode. If the printer is fast again, you found your bad cartridge. If that doesn’t work, remove the other ink cartridge and return the first one. The printer should now be fast. If not, you will need to try again with a fresh cartridge, either color or black. If it still very slow, chances are good the problem is too expensive to fix.

There is a message you may get when you are restarting or shutting down Windows that is preventing the computer from automatically restarting. It might also prevent the computer from booting too. It will say:

Task Host Window
Task Host is stopping background tasks. (\Microsoft\Windows\Plug and Play\Device Install Reboot Required )

This is the result of some hardware that is either defective or not fully compatible with Windows. You need to isolate which one is the problem. Try the USB devices one at a time first. And if that doesn’t work, try the internal hardware. Once you find isolate the defective or incompatible device, leave it disconnected. If it is a USB device, you may still be able to use it, but you can only connect it when you need too and disconnect when you are done. If you are using Windows 10, the device may be compatible with an earlier version of it.