Fix a broken Start menu in Windows 10

Back in October 2017, Microsoft released the Fall Creators Update for Windows 10.

For most people, all was well. But for a surprisingly large minority, the Start menu just sort of stopped working.

Clicking the Start button did nothing, and neither did right-clicking it. Sometimes, open apps won’t even show up on the taskbar.

Apparently, it’s still not working right for some people 5 months later!

There have been a variety of fixes for this issue, but there is one that I have found always fixes the problem…

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Off isn’t really Off

In the olden days, our gizmos had electro-mechanical power buttons. When the thing was turned off, no power was sent to it.

Nowadays, things have changed with the advent of electronically-controlled everything – including things like washing machines.

You can even look at the specs of most gizmos these days, and you’ll see two power ratings: Max power consumption, and “Sleep” power consumption.

Puters haven’t been off-off for a long time now. Smartphones are also never really off in many cases, and neither are smart TVs.

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HDMI Cables: Which type should I use for 4K?

I recently had some fun with HDMI cables – specifically, how best to connect a 4K UltraHD Blu-ray player to a 4K TV?

As a follow-up to my Display Cable Madness vid, I dive a bit deeper into the different flavors of HDMI cable: 1.4, 2.0, and 2.1.

Obviously, the latest and greatest cable is always recommended for new components. But what about existing setups?

Would your upscaled Blu-ray to 4K setup benefit from a newer HDMI connection?

It’s not just about resolutions and refresh rates, but also stuff like UltraHD Deep Color and High Dynamic Range (HDR)…

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Smart Meters are worse than you think

I recently learned the hard way what’s happening with smart meters in Europe. The same type of smart meter they’re using here in France has already been deployed in many EU countries.

Mostly, we hear only about the negative health effects of wireless smart meters, but the ones here only send data back over the power lines.

Nevertheless, it turns out smart meters here are still being used to pretty much screw many over.

In short, smart meters may mean less juice to power stuff, and more frequent main breaker trips as people exceed their (now reduced) capacity.

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Why I ditched my smartphone

Smartphones are nice, right?

They let you Do Stuff™, and you can even convert your entire social life to be run entirely via Google’s servers!

WOW!

Well, according to a recent investigation by the Tucker Carlson clan, it turns out Google is hoovering up far more data than previously thought.

So, I finally decided to take the plunge: I’ve switched to a dumbphone, and I’ve never been happier…

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Do SSDs make good backup hard drives?

A friend recently asked me about what backup hard drive to buy.

He mentioned an external SSD, which made me do a double-take. External SSD?!

Well, yeah. Apparently, they’ve been around for years already, although only recently have prices become a bit more reasonable.

And, until now, I hadn’t even seen an ad for one!

An external SSD as a backup drive has the primary benefit of SPEED!

But is it worth it? And are they reliable enough for use as a backup drive that might sit on your shelf for months or even years on end?

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A better Stylish Smartphone Faraday Box

9 months ago, I made this video: Make your own stylish smartphone Faraday Box in 10 minutes

Since then, I’ve learned a ton more about Faraday cages, and experimented a lot to make an even BETTER box.

It turns out that my original box was only so-so at blocking Bluetooth. My original testing of Bluetooth blocking was, shall we say, not very thorough. My primary focus was blocking cell network signals.

I also mistakenly assumed that if Bluetooth was blocked, WiFi at 2.4 GHz would also be blocked. Nope! WiFi is much harder to block due to the higher signal strength (among other things).

I’m fired!

To make matters worse, contrary to popular belief, we’re still learning about how Faraday cages actually work!

And so, I give you: Stylish Smartphone Faraday Box: Mark II

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Time to switch to a HomeGroup on Windows 10

Way back in 2009, I wrote this article:

How to Determine the Master Browser in a Windows Workgroup

I also released a tool called LAN Scanner that lets you see all the puters on your local network, their IP addies, MAC addresses, and which puter is the Master Browser.

That’s great… except that recently, it stopped working!

While digging into this problem, I discovered that the traditional “Network” browsing in Windows has kind of become broken since Microsoft has officially poo-pooed (and disabled) SMB v1.

What that means for you is that if you have a home network with Windows 10 machines, you’re going to want to switch to using a HomeGroup – but there’s a catch!

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Get your politics out of my tech!

In recent years, we’ve seen a huge upsurge in “political correctness” and certain “social movements”.

From James Damore being fired for speaking his mind in a very “leftist” corporate culture, to Amazon’s Alexa declaring that she is a feminist, to DNA testing services telling everyone they’re African to “combat racism”…

It seems that amidst all this political/social mayhem, our tech has essentially been weaponized.

We may still have separation of church and state, but it seems that the political and social views of tech corporations are being pushed onto people via their products.

I don’t think that’s a wise course of action…

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