Sunday, August 18, 2019

Windows 10 and VPN

When I'm in any public place, e.g. hotel, car dealer, doctor, etc., and want to use their Wi-Fi network, I try to use my VPN even though pretty much every site I use is https.

A while back I got a lifetime premium subscription to ProXPN. ProXPN has a long list of servers available including international locations. There are reviews of ProXPN here and here.


They have a downloadable client that takes all the worry out of setup.

But you know me. I'd rather do it myself.

Android Authority has a good article on how to setup a VPN on Windows 10 without the client.

Here are the steps:
Step-by-step instructions on how to set up a VPN on Windows 10:
  1. Click the Start button and select the "Settings" option.
  2. Click "Network & Internet."
  3. Select the "VPN" option and then click "Add a VPN connection."
  4. Select "Windows (built-in)" from the "VPN provider" drop-down list.
  5. Type a name of choice in the "Connection name" field.
  6. Add in a "Server name or address" - get the info from your VPN provider.
  7. Select the "Automatic" option under “VPN type.”
  8. Select one of the "Type of sign-in info" options - "User name and password" in most cases.
  9. Add in your "User name" and "Password."
  10. Click the "Save" button to finish the process.
To connect to a VPN server you’ve set up, go to Settings > Network & Internet > VPN, select the VPN connection you want to use, and then click the "Connect" button. Alternatively, you can click the network icon in the taskbar, select a VPN connection, and click "Connect."
When you're done, be sure to go to WhatIsMyIP and check your IP address.


I use ProXPN's Toronto server and get 100Mbps.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Insteon Hub Replacement

I've been using an Insteon home automation system for a couple of years. It has worked fine (at least as well as expected).

Until recently.

One night I noticed that the scheduled events hadn't happened. I tried to use the iOS app to look into it but the app couldn't connect to the hub. That wasn't good.

A quick look into my equipment closet showed that the LED on the hub wasn't on. Now, that's bad.

The obligatory power cycle didn't change that. Off to Google for help.

I came across this post on the Insteon forums. If you're into electronics you can geek out there.

In summary all of the older Insteon hubs fail with a bad capacitor or two. Replacing the failed capacitor(s) make it all well.

But I really wasn't into soldering.

In the first post was an update from Insteon.
UPDATE MESSAGE FROM INSTEON:
If you've come here because your Insteon Hub (2245-222) is unresponsive/dead, we now offer a service to migrate your hub account and device links to a new hub, even if you are out of the 2 year warranty period. Email with your hub account info to hubfix@insteon.com and ask for a hub migration. For more information visit this page: https://www.insteon.com/support-know...ew-insteon-hub.
But you know how these things normally go.

Not with Insteon.

I sent the requested information to the specified e-mail. The next day I hadn't heard from them so I called their technical support. The representative who answered the phone was familiar with the situation and quickly found my e-mail. They were already processing it.

If your version is old enough you don't even have to return the old one. Mine was rev 1.4 and didn't have to be returned.

Insteon has your configuration so they pre-configured the new Hub. When I received the new one, I just plugged it in and no re-configuration was required. Even my Amazon Echo integration was undisturbed.

It was 4 days from failure to receipt of replacement.

Insteon was over-the-top helpful.

Sunday, August 04, 2019

2019-07 Cumulative Update for Windows 10 Version 1903

In late July Microsoft released a new cumulative update (the second one in July) for the Windows 10 version 1903 that includes a series of quality improvements.

Bleeping Computer has a thorough article (archive.is) on it.

It is an optional update and you have to click on a new "Download and install" option on Windows Update settings page to apply the patch.

It all worked fine for me but the list of "quality improvements" overwhelmed me.

  • Addresses an issue that fails to record a local user’s last sign in time even when the user has accessed the server’s network share. 
  • Addresses an issue that may sever the domain trust relationship when you enable Recycle Bin in the domain that established the trust relationship. 
  • Addresses an issue that prevents Windows Hello face authentication from working after a restart. 
  • Updates time zone information for Brazil. 
  • Addresses an issue to enable Microsoft Edge to print PDF documents that contain landscape and portrait-oriented pages correctly. 
  • Addresses an issue with PDFs that are configured to be opened only once in Microsoft Edge. 
  • Addresses an issue that may display colors incorrectly when viewing an image on 10-bit display panels. 
  • Addresses an issue that may prevent you from changing the display brightness when using certain graphics drivers after resuming from Sleep or Hibernation. 
  • Addresses an issue in which Windows Graphics Device Interface (GDI+) returns an empty font family name for Bahnschrift.ttf. 
  • Addresses an issue that may cause a mouse press and release event to sometimes produce an extra mouse move event. 
  • Addresses an issue that may cause the UI to stop responding for several seconds when scrolling in windows that have many child windows. 
  • Addresses an issue that fails to bypass automatic sign in (Autologon) when you press and hold the Shift key during startup. 
  • Addresses an issue that may prevent a device from going to Sleep mode when certain applications that rely on Bluetooth are open. 
  • Addresses an issue that may reduce Bluetooth audio quality when using certain audio profiles for extended periods. 
  • Addresses an issue that prevents Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) scripting from working if you run it when you’re not connected to a domain controller (DC). App-V scripting also fails when you run it in an environment that only contains Microsoft Azure Active Directory. 
  • Addresses an issue that causes an error if you open Microsoft OneDrive files on demand when User Experience Virtualization (UE-V) is enabled. To apply this solution, set the following DWORD to 1: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\UEV\Agent\Configuration\ApplyExplorerCompatFix 
  • Addresses an issue with UE-V that may sometimes prevent exclusion paths from working. 
  • Addresses an issue that may cause a system that has a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) to stop working. 
  • Addresses an issue that prevents a system from recognizing a Microsoft account or Azure Active Directory account until the user signs out and signs in again. 
  • Addresses an issue that may prevent the Netlogon service from establishing a secure channel and reports the error, “0xC000007A – ERROR_PROC_NOT_FOUND.” 
  • Addresses an issue that fails to update the personal identification number (PIN) policy (minimum length, required digits and special characters, etc.) for Windows Hello for Business when a PIN already exists on the machine. 
  • Addresses an issue that causes failures to create a recovery drive (USB key) with the error, ”0x80042405[gle=0x00000715].” 
  • Addresses an issue that prevents an Android emulator based on the virtual machine platform from starting on some systems. 
  • Addresses an issue that uses a temporary profile to sign in a local user account when the account is configured with a mandatory roaming user profile. The error, “We can’t sign in to your account” appears. The Application event log contains Event 1521, and the event’s source is listed as the Microsoft-Windows-User Profiles Service. 
  • Addresses an issue that changes the status for Work Folders in File Explorer to 0x80C802A0 (ECS_E_SYNC_UPLOAD_PLACEHOLDER_FAILURE) after selecting Free up space. 
  • Addresses an issue that may cause a Remote Desktop Server to stop responding when someone who is using drive redirection disconnects. 
  • Addresses an issue that may cause the Remote Access Connection Manager (RASMAN) service to stop working. You may receive the error “0xc0000005” on devices that have the diagnostic data level manually configured to the non-default setting of 0. You may also receive an error in the Application section of Windows Logs in Event Viewer with Event ID 1000 referencing “svchost.exe_RasMan” and “rasman.dll”. This issue only occurs when a virtual private network (VPN) profile is configured as an Always On VPN (AOVPN) connection with or without a device tunnel.
  • Addresses an issue that causes applications on a container host to intermittently lose connectivity because of a port conflict with applications running on a container.
  • Addresses an issue that intermittently prevents connections to a corporate network when using Always On VPN with the IKEv2 protocol. Connections are not always automatically established, and manual connections sometimes fail. In this scenario, when you call the RasDial function from the command line for the target VPN connection, you receive the error, “ERROR_PORT_NOT_AVAILABLE(633)”.
  • Adds limited support for Windows voice dictation for Chinese Simplified, English (Australia, Canada, India, United Kingdom), French (France), German (Germany), Italian (Italy), Portuguese (Brazil), and Spanish (Mexico, Spain).
  • Addresses an issue with opening or using the Window-Eyes screen reader application that may result in an error and prevent some features from functioning as expected.
  • Addresses an issue that prevents an App-V application from opening and displays a network failure error. This issue occurs under certain circumstances, such as when a system's battery is low or there is an unexpected power failure.
  • Addresses an issue that prevents an App-V application from opening if the client is offline and a startup script is defined for the App-V application.
  • Addresses a rare issue that causes Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) to temporarily prevent other processes from accessing files.
  • Addresses an issue that causes the Start menu to stop responding when new users sign in to Windows 10, version 1903.
  • Updates the Windows Ink Workspace by simplifying the menu and adding direct integration with the Microsoft Whiteboard app for a richer collaboration experience.
Then there's a list of known issues in this update.

  • Windows Sandbox may fail to start with "ERROR_FILE_NOT_FOUND (0x80070002)" on devices in which the operating system language is changed during the update process when installing Windows 10, version 1903.

    Microsoft is working on a resolution and will provide an update in an upcoming release.
  • Devices that start up using Preboot Execution Environment (PXE) images from Windows Deployment Services (WDS) or System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) may fail to start with the error "Status: 0xc0000001, Info: A required device isn't connected or can't be accessed" after installing this update on a WDS server.

    For mitigation instructions, see KB4512816. We are working on a resolution and will provide an update in an upcoming release.
  • Devices connected to a domain that is configured to use MIT Kerberos realms may not start up or may continue to restart after installation of this update. Devices that are domain controllers or domain members are both affected.
    If you are not sure if your device is affected, contact your administrator. Advanced users can check if this registry key exists HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System\Kerberos\MitRealms or for “Define interoperable Kerberos v5 realm settings” policy under Computer Configuration -> Policies -> Administrative Templates > System -> Kerberos.

    At this time, we suggest that devices in an affected environment do not install this update. We are working on a resolution and estimate a solution will be available in mid-August.
Scary.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Silent Notifications

I've been playing with Android Q Betas. On Beta 5 I've noticed a section of the notification shade that is labeled "Silent Notifications".


I'm not sure why you would want a notification to be silent. That seems to be an oxymoron.

Here's what they were:


What's that picture of the phone at the top supposed to illustrate? There's no legend.

What do the sliders beside the "Silent notifications" do? Does sliding them to off make the "Silent notification" not silent? Does it clear the notification?

This is a beta.

9to5Google's article on this begins "Android's notification system has been pretty great for a long time now..."

Amen.

But I guess I'm not a big user of notifications.

9to5Google continues:
Android Q Beta 5 fixes this in one fell swoop by labeling notifications as "Alerting" or "Silent" and splitting up the notification shade as a result. Notifications that are set to "Alerting," the default for most apps, will appear at the top of the list of incoming notifications. Any notifications set to "Silent" are dropped below a clearly labeled section. The section also has its own button for clearing only those notifications.
So if you have a BIG problem with notifications on Android, Q should help.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Amazon Echo Show Live Video

When I chose the Amazon Echo Show 5 I hadn't considered the possibility of integrating it with my security cameras.

It was easier than I thought.

In the Amazon Alexa app, go to "Devices" and click on the "+" at the top right. Tap "Add Device" and choose "Camera". Select the brand of the camera and tap on "DISCOVER DEVICES".



That was easy.

I use it with my Ring Doorbell and my Wyze Cam.

Incidentally, since my Fire Tablet functions as an Echo, I can see these cameras on it as well.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Amazon Echo Show 5

I've been searching for a modern replacement for my wife's clock radio. It is a Timex and is so old that the programming for the dates for Daylight Saving Time are wrong!

Her requirements are fairly simple. Tell the time. Play the radio.

I had tried an Amazon Echo Spot. Close but no cigar.

Recently Amazon announced the Amazon Echo Show 5. That seemed worth trying.

She's comfortable with that.

radio.com almost made it a no go. She listens to FM 100. radio.com recently moved all its streaming to its own web service. Amazon has not (yet) included radio.com in its streaming providers supported by Echo routines.

What this means is that you can't create an Echo routine to start playing FM 100. You have to speak a command to the Echo to play FM 100. Worse yet, radio.com apparently has more than one FM 100.

To get the Echo to play FM 100 you have to say "Alexa, play FM 100 Memphis." And with our deep Southern accent, the Echo sometimes confuses "Memphis" with "minutes."

I created a routine to walk her through that.


We still struggle with the command syntax. As an example it would seem that if you start playing FM 100 by saying "Alexa, play FM 100 Memphis" that to stop it you would say "Alexa, stop playing FM 100 Memphis."

Nope. You have to say "Alexa, stop."

We're learning.

Here's a good review on the Amazon Echo Show 5.

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Android Q Beta 4

Somebody's gotta test this stuff. Might as well be me.

My Essential PH-1 has gotten a little banged up. I don't use a case and it shows. 2 corners are scratched up and there's a little crack of the screen on one of those corners.

I still love the PH-1 so I shopped for a replacement. I found one on swappa.com and got it.

As long as I'm going to reload everything why not just put a beta operating system on it? What could go wrong?


Pretty much nothing.

I haven't found much different in Android Q. The biggest change I've seen is the gesture navigation. This is a lot like the iPhone X's interface. Swipe up from the bottom to go home. Swipe in from the left or right to go back.

But...

Swiping in from the left is normally how you activate the "hamburger" menu. So I just don't do that.

Alternatively you can go back by swiping in from the right. That doesn't activate the "hamburger" menu but you have to be very deliberate to avoid the active app from sending a swipe on a menu item, e.g. delete a podcast in Pocket Casts.

The other gesture I've struggled with is to get the app list. The story is that you swipe up from the bottom part of the way and then stop. The app list will slide in from the left.

That has been difficult to execute dependably. Maybe Google will change that before the final release of Android Q.