Fix the Windows 10 Frozen Taskbar

I’ll start by saying that this solution happened to fix my frozen taskbar issue. I can’t guarantee it’ll work for you but it’s worth a shot!

The Symptoms

Another annoyance in Windows 10 that can surface (pun intended) is the freezing of the taskbar. Not only does it freeze but the Windows button stops responding as well meaning Windows key shortcuts don’t work!

For me, I’m able to tell that I’m about to cop this “feature” when I’m logging in. I’ll enter my secure password and hit login only to experience the slowest login ever. Windows seems to sit there for 60 seconds thinking about what to have for dinner before it presents me with a practically unusable desktop. Things seem to load a little slower and the system just feels unresponsive.

 

The Solution

If you’ve Googled around you’ll most certainly have seen all of the solutions that recommend you run /sfc scannow, edit the registry and other things. Absolutely none of these solutions worked for me.

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How to Solve the Windows 10 “App won’t open” Issue

As much as I love Windows 10, sometimes it can be a real pain in the ass. I lost an entire evening of productivity this week after I hit the dreaded “App won’t open…” issue.

This is where you’ll try to run one of the native Windows 10 apps (Calc, Photos, Store, etc) but instead of loading you’ll get an error across the screen saying “App won’t open. Please contact your system administrator to repair or reinstall the application” or something to that effect. It’s incredibly frustrating because there isn’t even any meaningful data in the Windows Event Viewer to help you pinpoint the issue.

There are many guides out there but this one from Windowsreport is the only one that covers troubleshooting and resolving the issue from start to finish.

In my case, the problem was that these steps did NOT fix my “App won’t open” issue. Actually, I lie. The final step in the guide is to create a brand new user account and then copy your files over to that. I wasn’t willing to do that so I don’t know if it will actually resolve the problem. I feel like that’s a crappy workaround that I shouldn’t have to resort to anyway.

I ended up getting on Microsoft web support chat to see if I could get a Microsoft tech to fix the issue. After an hour and a half, the tech from the Philippines was actually able to resolve the problem! (I’ll add that he was such an incredibly nice guy, I was super impressed. Just fantastic support!).

 

The Solution – Windows 10 Media Creation Tool

Surprisingly, he went through pretty much every step in the Windowsreport guide (unfortunately to no avail). There was only one thing left he could apparently recommend: perform a Windows 10 Upgrade Reinstallation.

Windows 10 Media Creation Tool
Windows 10 Media Creation Tool

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5 Technologies to Help Wrangle the Kids

5 Technologies to Help Wrangle the Kids

There was one comment we heard quite a few times when we had our first child: “We never needed <insert tech here> when we had kids! We used <insert manual, character building process here> and we were just fine!“.

Here’s the deal. Technology has advanced so far and so quickly, you’d be a moron not to embrace the technologies that would make your life easier and relieve some of the stresses caused by children. Why torture yourself? Just to say that you toughed it out? Please.

Over the past few years I’ve found myself using the following technologies to help with the kids and to get me a few minutes of peace. I swear I’m not lazy though!

 

Google Chromecast

While my beloved Chromecasts form the basis of my digital entertainment experience, there’s no denying they’ve helped with the kids. Who needs DVDs anymore when I can stream Youtube, Netflix or my local media straight to the TV via an app on my phone?

If you don’t have one, go get one NOW and thank me later. It makes old TVs usable again and will make physical media a thing of the past. The kids will love you for it too!
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7 Uses for an old USB Drive

7 Uses for an old USB Drive

I remember when USB drives first hit the market: “32mb of storage on this one tiny stick! Say what?!”. Skip ahead 10 years or so and I now have a 32gb and 16gb USB drive on my keyring – and that’s considered average. If you’re insane, you can blow over $1100 to get your hands on a 1TB USB flash drive – crazy! The problem is that with the incredibly quick technology advances, we end up accumulating old, smaller capacity drives.

I was cleaning out a box in the garage the other day and found a plastic Ferrero Rocher container (those things are great storage solutions!) which was filled with old USB drives and memory cards. 32mb, 128mb, 16mb, 2gb. It’s hard to believe I ever survived using such tiny drives!

USB Drive Collection
A few devices in my USB Drive Collection

What to do with them though? Throwing them away is definitely an option but it does seem wasteful so I’ve put my nerd hat on and come up with 7 ideas:

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How to Remove Deteriorating Rubber from a Mouse

How_to_Remove_Deteriorating_Rubber_from_a_Mouse

The other day my mum called and asked if I had a spare mouse for her computer as her old one had kicked the bucket. I remembered I had an old Logitech MX Revolution wireless mouse sitting in a box somewhere so went searching. I finally found it but boy was it nasty! The rubber panels on it had started deteriorating and it was disgustingly sticky!

It turns out this is a pretty common issue. The rubber used on peripherals made by Microsoft, Logitech, Thermaltake and other companies tends to deteriorate with time, especially if they’re not actively being used. This was a pretty severe case given the rubber had become sticky and gross. More commonly, the rubber tends to develop a “skin” on it that is easily scratched with the fingernail and leaves a black residue. I have this happening with my Logitech G15 keyboard wrist rest.

Logitech Keyboard Rubber Deteriorating
Don’t worry, it looks like crap but at least it’s clean! (Dettol clean!)

Cleaning the Rubber off

The first thing I did was stupidly grab a paper towel and try to rub it off. Stupidly because the paper towel instantly stuck to the rubber and tore to bits leaving me with an even uglier situation than before. I actually considered giving the mouse to mum in this state. The paper towel had completely covered the sticky parts and the mouse was smooth again! Read more

How To Remove a GPT Protective Partition

How to Remove a GPT Protective Partition

As part of my recent storage upgrade project in my PC at home I came across something I hadn’t dealt with in ages: A GPT Protective Partition!

For the unacquainted, these are (as the name implies) protected partitions that can’t be formatted or removed. Once you’ve created a protective partition, you’re pretty much stuck with it. In Windows, you can remove the partition using the Microsoft DiskPart utility run over the command line.

This is specifically noteworthy because all partitioning is usually done through the Computer Management > Storage > Disk Management snap-in. This is how you find out the disk has a GPT partition on it. Read more

5 Tips for Learning a New Programming Language

5 Tips for Learning a New Programming Language

Learning a programming language has to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever attempted to do. I constantly start the learning process, get through the introductory steps and then end up losing interest or procrastinating. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve written a Hello World program!

Recently however, things have changed. I was introduced to the Python programming language by (yet again) my friend, Bob who’s very proficient in the language. After seeing some of the amazing things he’s created with the language I was pretty motivated to get learning.

It didn’t take long before I’d actually created my own program. Not a program that a book or course required me to build but something I wanted to build for myself. After successfully creating the app, it hit me why I’d never been able to get this far before and what was different this time around. Here’s what I discovered. Read more

Pebble Time Steel Review

Pebble Time Steel Review

Click here to check out my top 5 favourite apps on the Pebble Time Steel!

I’m a massive Pebble fan: I backed the original Pebble and jumped on the Pebble Time Steel as soon as it was announced. After two months or so with this baby strapped to my left wrist, here is my surprising list of pros and cons.

I have to admit, there are a lot of pros but after having owned the original Pebble, the Pebble Time experience was less mind blowing this time around. The original Pebble made my jaw drop because it was the first real smartwatch. (I could finally receive emails on my wrist!)

Now however, with every Tom, Dick and Harry creating their own smartwatch, the Pebble Time doesn’t feel as crash hot anymore. It’s still a beautiful piece of tech that I love but in a market saturated with competition… I’m just not sure how it stands up against the rest. There is a ton on offer though, so first let’s look at the pros.

Pebble Time Pros:

Sex Appeal

From the moment you open the box, you’re drooling. Read more

Removing Bloatware – Declutter Your Computer

Removing Bloatware

Bloatware! It’s the stuff of nightmares for computer savvy folk. This is my latest encounter with the stuff, yuck!

A week or so ago, my dad gave me a call, said he needed a new laptop and wanted me to help him buy one (because I’m totally awesome right?). Naturally I obliged, did all of the research and price comparisons then bought him the laptop. I got it for a great price too! Go Team!

It arrived a few days ago and today I finally had the chance to switch it on and set it up for him. There I was, all excited about this shiny, sexy and speedy new Lenovo, ready to configure accounts and install my choice of software when I noticed it still hadn’t booted. About 2 minutes had passed and it still wasn’t up! This is after the initial Windows configuration too. I’d set up the account name and password but the thing was still chugging along.

This laptop isn’t something to laugh at either. With a dual core 2GHz Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of memory and a dedicated graphics chip, it should have powered through boot up and been sitting waiting for me. What was going on?!

Once Windows finally logged in I was presented with a very cluttered desktop. Bloatware. Of course.

I couldn’t believe how much of the stuff was installed on this thing!

What is Bloatware?

The short and sweet is that Bloatware is all of the vendor specific and 3rd party software that comes preinstalled on a computer when you buy it from a shop. Things like trial anti-virus suites or DVD playing software. The sorts of shoddy deals that hover around and pop up after a month saying they’ve expired.

This isn’t something I deal with often either as I build the computers for myself and everyone in my immediate family. My company laptop comes pre-installed with a custom version of Windows that suits my job so I don’t deal with it there either.

What do I do about it?

Well! You blast it all to hell! Or you can uninstall it. Essentially, declutter your computer the way you’d declutter your house!

First thing’s first, Read more

Secure Password Management

Secure Password Management

With the sheer amount of services available online it feels like we’re constantly being asked to create new passwords and accounts.

It’s so easy and tempting to fall into the trap of using one password for everything. I was a serial offender once upon a time… I mean who wants to remember 50 different passwords right??

As much as we hate to admit it, it’s a terrible habit. Imagine using a single key for every lock you own: locks in your house, your car, padlocks, safe deposit boxes etc.
Now imagine someone stole the key. You’d be pretty boned!

So why then is it seemingly acceptable to use a single password for our most private information?

I know of people who use the same password for both Facebook and their online banking. Worse yet, the password is painfully simple! (If your password is “password”, please seek help).

It’s something we all know we need to change but it’s so damn hard to kick the habit! How do we remember that many unique passwords? Read more