Sunday, December 27, 2020

Happy 2021

This is a repost of my year-end post.

The start of a new year is a good time to review a few things and make sure everything is right. Here's my list of things I think you should check once a year.

Some of the steps may be a little out of date but I think you can find your way around. If not, leave me a comment and I'll help.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Jack Be Nimble, Jack Be QUIC

My router (Asus RT-AC68R) has a nice traffic monitor screen. I check it regularly. One day I noticed that the largest usage was attributed to QUIC.

What is QUIC?

Simple. QUIC stands for Quick UDP Internet Connection.

Yeah, right.

There's a good explanation here. If that article is too simple for you, try this one.

QUIC has taken all the best qualities of TCP connections and TLS encryption and implemented it on UDP.

Here's why:
  1. Reduced connection times. To establish TLS encryption, the client and the server need to perform a TLS handshake and exchange encryption keys. QUIC replaces this with a single handshake.
  2. Better performance when data packets are lost. The QUIC protocol allows streams of data to reach their destination independently. They no longer need to wait for the missing data packet to be repaired.
  3. Stable connections when networks are changed. If you are connected to a web server via TCP and your network suddenly changes, QUIC allows for a smoother transition by giving each connection to a web server a unique identifier. These can be reestablished by simply sending a packet rather than establishing a new connection, even if your IP changes.
  4. Easier to improve and develop. QUIC can be implemented on the application level, making it a more flexible protocol.
But you'll never see any of this. All you'll see is faster.

So who uses QUIC?

Google Chrome when it connects to Google servers. This includes all of Google's services, i.e. YouTube, Blogger, Hangouts, etc.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Windows 10 Screen Recording

In this time of virtual meetings, I've desired to record a couple of presentations.

I came across Windows 10's Xbox Game Bar. It's a standard feature in the latest versions of Windows 10.

Unfortunately, it doesn't work on all hardware. It works on my ThinkPad but not on my big Asus desktop with a Radeon video card.

It's incredibly easy to use. Just press Win+Alt+R to start your recording.

That's it. Then click the blue button to stop recording.

It creates an mp4 file in C:\Users\[your name]\Videos\Captures.

It couldn't be easier.


This worked perfectly when I was recording a Zoom presentation where I was just watching and not interacting.

But in another use, I was watching a webinar where the presenters used multiple windows. Every time I switched between windows; the recording stopped.

Still, it's pretty nice. And the price is right.

Sunday, December 06, 2020

Windows 10 Black Screen

Several associates of mine and I have all experienced Windows 10 black screens, pretty much since Windows 10 1903.

The symptom is that the screen turns off per your setting.

Then it won't come back on.

The PC isn't really powered down. Often you can hear the fan running or the hard drive working away.

What we have been doing is just holding down the power key until the PC shuts down. Then restarting the PC and all is well, for a while.

One of my workarounds is to disable the screen powering down and just turning the power off to it when I'm not using it.

It seems as though we're not the only people experiencing this problem.

Computerworld had a long article on this problem. This article describes 2 different black screen problems. The one I'm referencing is just a "plain and simple" black screen.
This means the screen is completely dark with nothing at all showing.
The author gives several workarounds for a black screen with a cursor but nothing for the "plain and simple" black screen except the forced power down.

What we have found is that the "plain and simple" black screen is usually the result of a display driver.

My desktop PC has an AMD Radeon R7 200 Series display adapter. Windows 10 "feature updates" love to UNINSTALL the AMD driver and use a default driver.

This results in the "plain and simple" black screen. After I reinstall the current AMD driver, my problem goes away.

One of my coworkers had to undertake a similar process for his Dell system.

Unfortunately, my other coworker ended up reimaging his PC.

If I have this again, I think I'm going to try to restart the graphics driver as an initial workaround.
Windows key + Ctrl + Shift + B
This four-key combination tells Windows 10 to restart all graphics drivers.

Then I will upgrade the graphic drivers.