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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The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up - Book Review

I’m going to start by saying that this was one of the most interesting and fun reads I’ve had to date. Given this is a book about tidying up, this may come as a shock for those of you who know me!

Few books have had the ability to inspire me such that I’m instantly willing to change personal habits and my view of the world. Even fewer have left me feeling like I’m a better person and wondering how I ever lived before reading it. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo has done the unthinkable.

The first thing I think needs to be clarified is this: do not begin reading this book expecting to get a static list of steps and tips for tidying up. If that’s what you’re looking for, go find something else to read. I believe this is why you’ll find a very split community of reviewers out there. My guess is that people can’t appreciate the Magic of Tidying Up (seriously not typing the whole book name every time) for what it’s meant to be.

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Meetings – A Necessary Evil

Meetings - A Necessary Evil

Meetings are seriously the worst. There’s nothing worse than being forced to spend your time on a call or in a room covering the same content you did last week. I struggle to understand why organisations, managers and teams schedule meeting after meeting when none of us really want or need to be there.

The way I see it, a meeting should be a last resort. They should only be held in serious situations or when it will be the most effective way of communicating and collaborating.

Not all meetings are bad of course. In fact, I actually have a pretty fantastic “meeting experience” at work compared to most people I know.

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Being too busy is a Myth

Header Image - Being too Busy is a Myth

I’m currently reading the 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. Groan if you must. I reckon it’s a pretty good book. The concepts he discusses are interesting enough to get you thinking about your own situation which I think is great. In my case it was his take on being busy that inspired me. In fact, within the span of a few days I had a few different resources discuss the concept of being too busy – it’s like the Universe was trying to tell me something!

What being too busy really means.

Being too busy is a myth. We all have stuff to do. What makes one person different to another in this regard? We all have the same amount of minutes in a day. All that differs is how we choose to spend those minutes.

If you’re too busy to do something, it just means that you haven’t made it a priority (yet).

This is why I love the concept of the 4 Hour Workweek. We all busy ourselves with fluff and time wasting activities such that when we go to bed we complain about how little time there was in the day or that we didn’t have enough time to do something we’d planned on doing.

 

Evaluation

The first thing you should do is evaluate the tasks that make up your day. You’ll probably find there are plenty of things you do on a daily basis that are essentially time sinks. You put aside the core, important tasks that will help you move forward, for tasks that are just fillers. These are tasks that may seem important, but really don’t get you anywhere.

Take email for example. How much time do you spend a day checking and responding to email? It’s a big part of most jobs but does it really help you in the long run? Is maintaining a watchful eye on your inbox going to get you that next pay rise? I don’t think so.

Actually doing the things that you don’t really want to do because they involve work or are a challenge, these are the things that will move you forward. Don’t bother with the rest.

When you start focusing your time on the important tasks, you’ll find that you’re no longer “too busy” in the traditional sense.

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A Morning Routine for the Rest of us

A Morning Routine for the Rest of us

If you’re on the productivity bandwagon you’ll undoubtedly have read or heard that having a solid morning routine is one of the key foundations to being productive and successful. Starting your day off correctly sets the mood for the rest of the day and ensures the right frame of mind.

BS!

Don’t get me wrong, I totally agree with starting the day on the right foot (or left!) but it’s just plain silly to promote to the masses a consistent morning routine of reading books while doing yoga on the roof at sunrise. It seems to me that the people promoting this notion don’t have children. If they do, who the heck takes care of them in the morning? Maybe their time management skills are just out of this world… something I don’t think I’ll ever comprehend!

After reading countless books and articles on productivity, to some success, I’ve been able to implement my own morning routine. Not so surprisingly, mornings with the kids completely differ from mornings without. I’ll cover what my productive morning routine is like at the end of the post (it’s not that exciting). For now, here’s:

 

A Morning Routine for the Rest of us

Thursday to Sunday (not super productive)

Let’s start with the days that the kids are at home (Mon – Wed they’re in day care).

6:00 – 7:00am: Somewhere in between this hour of death, the boys (obviously in cahoots with one another) decide to wake up. Our 3yr old will stand out in the living room yelling “DAAADDY” while the baby lies in his crib talking to himself at the top of his lungs (spoken in gibberish of course). Read more

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