Annoyances

Windows 10 Freezes on Shutdown or Restart

Windows 10 users have been reporting this very annoying issue since 2015 or earlier: Just Google “Windows 10 hangs on shutdown” or “Windows 10 freezes on shutdown or restart“. Page after page of complaints and suggestions, including many by Microsoft. Several of these have promising titles such as Fixed: Windows 10 Hangs or Stuck on Shut Down [SOLVED] Windows 10 Stuck On Restarting Windows 10 Won’t Shut Down? Here’s How to Fix It! There are numerous suggested fixes including update all your drivers update the Intel Management Engine Interface turn off fast startup in Power Settings stop Chrome running in the background even if Chrome is not your default browser check for disk errors using chkdsk or corrupted files using built-in Windows utilities sfc /scannow and DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /ScanHealth disconnect all the external devices (printers, scanner, USB devices, etc.) except mouse and keyboard and restart by holding down the power button run the Windows 10 Power Troubleshooter run the Windows 10 Update Troubleshooter reset or reinstall Windows and numerous others including probably the dumbest of all: “start Task Manager with Ctrl-Alt-Del to find out which service is not shutting down” – Hello? How do you do this if your system is frozen? Well, I tried almost all of these, other than a complete Windows reset or a clean install of Windows, and none of them worked. I finally found a suggestion I hadn’t seen before (my apologies but I can’t recall the source for this): Reset your BIOS settings to the Default Settings. Okay. What do I have to lose? (Famous last words, I know.) This just involves pressing F2 or F8 or F10 or Del when booting up your computer (it varies with the manufacturer) to get into your Settings screen, and then looking for an option that

Problems with Microsoft Outlook 2016: It’s a dud!

I have been using Microsoft Outlook for years through a number of iterations, starting I think with Outlook 2000, then Outlook 2003, then Outlook 2007, and then Outlook 2010. Outlook has always had it’s quirks, some of which I’ve addressed here in other posts. But it basically worked, most of the time, the way it should, and the few annoyances weren’t too difficult to correct once you knew how. Last year, with my previous version of Outlook rapidly aging and at or approaching end of life, I thought it was time to upgrade and purchased Outlook 2016. TL;DR version: Outlook 2016 was a total lemon! It is the Vista of the Microsoft Office series! Avoid at all costs! It never really worked very well for me (under Windows 10 with all the operating system upgrades as they were released as well as driver and software upgrades. From the outset, it was slow. Slow to load, slow to switch folders, slow to do anything. Often, when I switched between Outlook folders, it would display a “Nothing to see here” message so I’d have to go to another folder and then back to get the emails to display. Yesterday was the last straw. I had rebooted the computer the night before and followed my usual morning routine of coffee and checking to see what email had arrived since the previous evening. My reaction: “What fresh hell is this now?” Most, although curiously not all, of the new emails would not display in HTML but only in plain text – not very useful in my line of business. As usual, I went to Google to search for “Outlook 2016 will not display emails in HTML format”. What I learned was that this was a very common problem with Outlook 2016, that Microsoft was

Windows Mail Phantom New Message Count

I use Microsoft Outlook as my primary email client but for less urgent things (things that don’t necessarily need to have immediate attention) I also have some accounts set up in the Windows 10 Mail app. Periodically, the Mail app seems to get stuck displaying 1 unread message when in fact all messages have been read, something that has come to be known as the “phantom message”. Sometimes, the count may be higher than 1 but  the most common scenario is just 1 phantom message. People have been reporting this, complaining about it, and seeking solutions since windows 8 but it’s still an issue with apparently no clear solution. The issues seems to be caused (in Windows 10 at least) by dismissing new mail notifications in the Windows Notification area (or in the noification popup) instead of opening the Mail app to check the mail. This seems to mess up the mail synchronization function in the app. Most of the suggested solutions either don’t work at all or they involve drastic measures like uninstalling and reinstalling the app, or performing a complete reset on the app, either of which is probably going to cause a loss of your emails and even your accounts, meaning you have to set everything up all over again. Thank you, Microsoft, but if that’s my only option I think I’d rather live with the annoyance of a phantom 1 showing on the app. Fortunately, there is a solution I’ve discovered, possibly two, that actually works: Try this first: If you have a second account, or if you create a temporary one, send yourself an email to an account that is checked by the Windows Mail app. Then open the app, and click on the email to “read” it, and the unread mail count should reset

Website Push Notifications: How to Disable Them in Major Browsers

With recent browser updates, it appears that the popups asking whether you want to allow Push Notifications from websites you visit have become more aggressive – or perhaps it’s just that more websites are using this feature. We have nothing enabled on this site to use these popups but here is how to disable these annoying popups in the three major browsers for Windows. Disable all push notifications in Chrome How notifications work By default, Chrome alerts you whenever a website, app, or extension wants to send you notifications. You can change this setting at any time. If you’re browsing in Incognito mode, you won’t get notifications. Allow or block notifications from all sites On your computer, open Chrome. At the top right, click More    > Settings. At the bottom, click Advanced. Under “Privacy and security,” click Content settings. Click Notifications. Block all: Turn off Ask before sending. Block a site: Next to “Block,” click Add. Enter the site and click Add. Allow a site: Next to “Allow,” click Add. Enter the site and click Add. Choose to block or allow notifications: You can also block any sites or apps from sending you notifications. Disable all push notifications in Firefox Open up Firefox, click on the Menu button at the top right, and click Options. Click on Privacy & Security in the left pane. Scroll down to Permissions > Notifications. Click on Settings to the right of Notifications. If there are any websites already listed as okay, click on Remove All Websites. Check the box next to Block new requests asking to allow notifications. Click Save changes. Disable all push notifications in Edge Start Edge and click on the More button at the top right. Scroll down to View Advanced Settings. Scroll down to Website Permissions. I think you

When Windows 10 won’t open links from your email in your browser

I have used Microsoft Outlook as my email client for years and I’m currently using Outlook 2019 (after a year with the very buggy Outlook 2016). Periodically, after an update of some kind or just seemingly out of the blue, clicking on a link in an email no longer opens that link in my default browser, Firefox. There are reports of the same thing happening in Chrome and Internet Explorer, as well as with links in the Windows 10 Mail app. Yesterday, it happened again. When this happened in the past, there was a quick and easy Microsoft Fix-It script that would resolve my problem. Of course, I went immediately to my trusty Fix-It script only to pop up a message that it would not work with Windows 10. The next step was to google the problem for Windows 10. The suggested fixes I got through Google either didn’t work or seemed unnecessarily tedious and complicated. Not encouraging. But there was a common thread, both in the old Microsoft Fix-It and in some of the suggestions from what Google found for me: Resetting the default browser to the Microsoft product (previously Internet Explorer, now Microsoft Edge in Windows 10). The following solution works for me: Exit from Firefox or your default browser (it turns out this is not required). Go to Default Programs in Windows Settings or Control Panel. Select Microsoft Edge as your default browser. Click on the link in your email to make sure it opens a tab in Edge. Then close Edge. Restart Firefox (or your preferred default browser). Reset your default browser back to the one you prefer: Under Options for your browser, select “Make Firefox (or Chrome, etc.) my default browser”; or Go back to Default Programs in Windows Settings or Control Panel and reset

How NOT to write headlines

Before I get into today’s annoyances rant, consider why we worry about writing headlines at all and what we hope they will accomplish. I think this comes down to two things: In a world where we are all inundated by more information than we can possibly process, we want the article or story we’re writing to stand out from the crowd, to make the reader stop scrolling down a list of a hundred other headlines and say, “Wait! What’s this?”. To provide the ultimate and most accurate mini-summary of what the article to follow has to say. Most headlines today do neither of these things. And yet we have article after article in the media and on the net telling us what this author and that marketer constitutes a “good” headline. And then what happens? The suggestions become a kind of “law of headline writing” which evidently everyone feels compelled to obey. I don’t want to single out any specific author because they are legion, but to use one recent article as an example, the author states that “While short, a headline has to stand out from the crowd of headlines running down a user’s screen.” and then offers these suggestions: “there are specific formulas that will attract more readers. For example, the ‘How to’ formula is popular, as it indicates the reader will learn something useful in an easy presentation. Also, ‘What You Need to Know’ is effective, as it creates a sense of urgency in the reader, especially when it hints that the reader may not know everything.” and “Numbers are effective for many reasons. They help construct articles, which provides organization. Not only does this help when you write the content, but it easier for the reader. When you use numbers in the articles, you create a
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