Windows HomeGroup

The HomeGroup networking program in Windows 10 needs some work. It is a good idea which makes networking home computers much easier that networking them the old fashioned way. However, it looks like HomeGroup runs into trouble when the original PC on which it was set up leaves the network, and nobody knows the old password.

When you try to start up a HomeGroup connection or add a new PC to the HomeGroup, the program says that there is a group that you can join, but then it says the link fails. If you try to leave the old network and create a new one, you can’t.

There are a number of suggestions about how to resolve this problem in chatrooms and on websites offering advice on Windows. Usually you can get HomeGroup working again, but not easily.

One approach that seems to work sometimes, but not always, is to turn off all the computers on the network except one. Tell it to leave the HomeGroup, and then try to create a new HomeGroup. The trouble that often occurs is that it won’t let you create a new group; it says you have to join the old group. If you start with a brand new computer that has never been on the network, the new HomeGroup will probably work. You can then get the password that the new computer uses for the group and then use it to log in the older computers.

Microsoft needs to work on this problem. I suppose they want to force you to have only one HomeGroup on a network, but they should make it possible to create a new one to replace the old one, if the old one is not working.


When PC Freezes, Check Your Cables

My Dell 8300 i7 computer with Windows 10 Home began freezing up periodically. It began freezing up once every two or three days, but gradually it began freezing up more frequently, sometimes several times in one day. The only way to turn it off was to hold the power switch down until the power supply turned off. Then, when it rebooted, the various drives would need to be repaired by Windows. After the hard drives were repaired it would work fine until it froze up again. Sometimes as it would start to freeze up, I could close a few open windows, but I could seldom get it to shut down using the Windows software.

I ran every hardware test I could find, and they all said the hardware, including the motherboard, the hard drives, the graphics card, and the memory were fine. I got no errors, but when it started to freeze up, I could not start up the hardware tests. Since the hardware seemed to be okay, I decided it must be the software, probably Windows. I thought maybe Windows had been damaged by some improperly installed update. I rolled Windows back to several restore points. Each time the computer would work fine for a while, maybe several days, but then would freeze up again. I decided that perhaps the problem Windows update was trying to install itself after restoring the older version of the OS and was freezing up the PC again.

After several days or weeks of this, when the computer rebooted after freezing, it would boot in Windows 7 from an old hard drive in the PC. The problem C: drive was connected to the Sata 0 socket on the motherboard. The old drive with Win 7 on it was connected to the Sata 1 socket. Win 7 did not run well and was extremely slow, but it ran.

I thought perhaps if I upgraded from Windows 10 Home to Pro, the new installation would overwrite the damaged part of the OS. When I went to Sam’s for other stuff, I found they had Win 10 Pro. So, I bought it; it was expensive but cheaper than replacing the whole computer. When I tried to upgrade to Pro, the installation said that Windows Home was installed in an incorrect folder. Nothing could be saved; the installation would delete everything on the PC.

Before I allowed Win 10 Pro to erase everything, I made a copy of the Windows 10 Home C: drive with Macrium Reflect. I also backed up all of my data. After I installed Win 10 Pro, I found it was very difficult and time consuming to install all the programs or applications that I had installed in Win 10 Home. Although I had the data, I did not have the programs to run the data. The biggest problem was Microsoft Office 2010, which I had installed as a download years earlier. I couldn’t find an ISO file, if I ever had one, and I did not have the Microsoft key for the software.

After several days of trying to reinstall software, find passwords for web sites that I visited regularly, etc., the computer froze up again running Win 10 Pro. When I tried to repair the C: drive in Win 10 Pro, I got more than the usual errors. So, I decided maybe the drive was bad, although every hardware test said it was good, and I bought a new hard drive. I installed it; it worked for a while, and then froze up again. I decided to swap around some of the hard drive to see if they all behaved the same way. While swapping them, I realized that I had always been using the same Sata cable to connect the C: drive to the Sata 0 socket. I swapped the cables around, and the computer seemed to run fine for several days. So, I bought a new Sata cable to connect the new hard drive, and since then it has not frozen up again.

After a few days, I thought I would try to restore the Macrium Reflect image of my old C: drive to the new hard drive I was using as C. The Macrium Reflect worked perfectly. It took several hours, but the old Windows 10 Home was restored with all the applications, including Office 2010. Macrium Reflect, thank you. The PC has been running well for over a week now. I don’t need Win10 Pro, but since I have it and can’t return it, I will probably try to install it after a few more days, if all goes well. However, if it says that it cannot keep all the apps and data, I will not install it. Perhaps I will just keep it and use it to upgrade a new computer if and when I buy one, before it has as much stuff installed on it as this one does.

Encryption and the Fourth Amendment

Apple should be willing to help the US government access information on the iPhones of terrorists and other criminals. I do not think that anyone living under a democratic government has an absolute right to inviolable privacy. If someone’s home is subject to a search warrant issued by a proper judicial process, his other possessions should also be subject to search when properly approved. Apple refuses toallow any search and seizure, even when there is probable cause as determined by a court of law. While the Fourth Amendment is explicitly a protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, the implication is that the government should be allowed to carry out searches and seizures when there is probable cause.

I think that some of the technical objections to requiring breakable encryption on private phones could be overcome by requiring that decrypting the information could be done only by physically connecting to the phone. This could mean that some sophisticated decryption device would have to be connected to an iPhone through a lightning cable, for example. There might be some difficulty enforcing this physical requirement, but smart people should be able to do it. It would mean that your phone could not be hacked from China or Russia, or even by American law enforcement while you are walking down the street with it. Presumably experts could set up the connection protocol so that the phone would sense whether the decryption device was directly connected to the phone, and not connected through the Internet or iTunes.

As things currently stand, I think that Apple should help the FBI access the data on the terrorists’ iPhone. Software updates could come later, as well as hardware updates on new versions of smart phones.

My view includes the requirement that encryption software such as texting apps also should be breakable in some way. Other countries and the military will be able to create unbreakable communication software, but we could make it illegal to use in the US. This is not unlike a restriction on assault weapons. I don’t think that everyone needs to have an AR-15, although that is not currently the law in the US. Even though arms dealers can physically sell AR-15s to anyone, I think there should be restrictions on their right to do so. Similarly, the military and diplomatic services should have encryption that is unbreakable, but private individuals do not need it. The ability to do search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution is more important than individual privacy. National security justifies the use of unbreakable encryption; personal privacy does not.

Annoying Windows 10

The Windows 10 calendar reminder window has become very annoying.  At some point it downloaded the birthdays of everybody I knew on Facebook.  Now Facebook has apparently disconnected Windows/Microsoft from Facebook, so that the birthdays are now stored in some mystery calendar file.  But Windows 10 desktop keeps reminding me of them, every five minutes, and telling the reminder to dismiss does not help.  It just comes back over and over and over again.  And you can’t delete the calendar entry, because it’s not in a normal calendar.  The engineers at Microsoft are surprisingly stupid, despite doing a much better job in general on Windows 10 than on any previous version.

Quicken 2016 Reconcile Not Working

Quicken 2016 running under Windows 10 does not reconcile accounts correctly.  When you try to check or uncheck a transaction in the list displayed by Quicken, the balance does not update.  Sometimes if you exit reconcile and enter again, it will update.  Sometimes clicking “Mark All” will help.  But it doesn’t work correctly.  The Quicken community says this is a known issue, but has not been fixed, yet.

HomeGroup Works After All

Microsoft HomeGroup does work after all.  After days of trying off and on to get HomeGroup to work with my home network computers, I discovered that the problem was my router.  It was not the computers or the software.  My CenturyLink ZyTEL PK5001Z DSL modem and router was not configured for the IPv6 Internet protocol.  Apparently HomeGroup requires that its network use IPv6, rather than the old IPv4 protocol.

Instructions on how to enable IPv6 on the CenturyLink PK5001Z modem can be found here.

After I enabled the IPv6 protocol on the router, rebooted the computers and waited for a while, the option to create a HomeGroup suddenly appeared on a laptop computer.  The option to create a HomeGroup had not appeared since the major Windows 10 update.  The only option had been to join an existing HomeGroup, and after a long pause, Windows would say that the HomeGroup it was trying to join no longer existed, but it still would not display the option to create a new HomeGroup.

The tricky part of this for me was that the computers all showed that they were configured to use IPv6.  Trying to fix HomeGroup, I would often get error messages saying a protocol was missing, but there was no information about what it was or how to install it.  There are apparently others with similar HomeGroup problems, and I found solutions posted on the Internet, but none worked for me.  I wonder what I have done to normal networking functions by trying some of the suggested solutions, deleing files and changing registry entries, but so far HomeGroup and the other network functions seem to be working correctly after fixing  the router.

Microsoft HomeGroup Does Not Work

After installing a major Windows 10 update a few days ago, Microsoft HomeGroup, which had been working, ceased to work.  It says there is a HomeGroup invitation, but there is none, or it is from a computer that is no longer on the network.  After trying to join for many wasted minutes, it says there is no HomeGroup to join, and says to go to HomeGroup and create a new HomeGroup, but there is no option to create a new HomeGroup, only to join an existing HomeGroup, which Microsoft says does not exist.  Catch-22.

When you run the HomeGroup troubleshooter, it says there is a network protocol missing, but without HomeGroup, networking works perfectly, with file exchanges among all the computers on the network.  So the network seems fine.  HomeGroup is messed up.

The Microsoft website is useless.  It simply says create a new HomeGroup, but that is impossible because there is no option to do so.

There is no option to leave a HomeGroup, since Windows thinks the PC does not yet belong to a HomeGroup.  Again Catch-22.

Other people have this issue.  See

His solution was to start without a computer that tries to join a “ghost” HomeGroup.  I don’t have a computer that doesn’t think there is a “ghost” HomeGroup, so none of them is able to create a new HomeGroup.

As I recall, before the last update to Win 10, HomeGroup would tell you who invited you to join a HomeGroup and tell youthat you can ask them for their password.  In this case, it does not say who created the HomeGroup, so that there is no one to ask for the password.

By turning off the internet connection, I got Windows to allow me to try to create a new HomeGroup, but when I try, Windows says, “Windows can’t set up a homegroup on this computer.”

Happy that Intuit and Netflix Are Down

I am happy that Intuit and Netflix stocks are down. this morning.  I am still mad at Intuit for deceptive practices in marketing TurboTax last year.  I bought what I thought was the same version of TurboTax that I had bought for years to do my income tax, but when I tried to use it, I found that it would not work.  I had to upgrade it.  I was supposed to get a $25 refund after I filed my taxes, but I never got it.  I am somewhat over a barrel, because I like the fact that TurboTax carries forward data from previous years.  If it weren’t for that feature, I would switch for sure.  I’ll see this coming year what other options there are.

I am not a Netflix fan because it doesn’t offer any good movies on the Internet.   We signed up with Netflix to get “House of Cards,” which was good.  Since we had Netflix after we watched “House of Cards,” we occasionally thought we would watch a movie.  We could never find anything interesting that we had not seen.  I am a Cary Grant fan, and there were usually only one or two of his movies, and they were not he best.  I never saw “North by Northwest” or “Bringing Up Baby” listed.  By contract, Apple has almost any movie you want, but you have to pay for it.  For us, it is probably better to pay Apple by the movie than to pay Netflix a monthly fee that provides no decent movies.

1and1 Web Site Hosting versus GoDaddy Hosting

To experiment with  my web site skills, I set up two small web sites, one in 1and1 and the other in GoDaddy, using their discount offers.  1and1 was much better and offered more services than GoDaddy did.  Both offered in-house web building programs, but 1and1 also offered an FTP option for designing pages yourself.  GoDaddy did not, unless you upgraded to a much more expensive package.  Both tried to make it difficult to use the basic system that you got for paying about $1.00 for the web site address, and then $12.00  for one year of hosting .  GoDaddy was more aggressive and deceptive in trying ot make you upgrade to a more expensive package.  1and1 offered the possibility to have several email addresses, while GoDaddy limited you to one address managed by Microsoft Office 365.  For managing the site, 1and1 only offered their own control panel, while GoDaddy offered the standard cPanel option, but only with a much more expensive package.

I would definitely recommend 1and1 over GoDaddy, but there are probably some smaller hosting companies out there that offer better deals.

The web sites I set up were A News Hog (with 1and1) and Dixie Gone with the Wind (with GoDaddy).  I connected free WordPress blogs to both of them, and have been very happy with WordPress, as you can see from this blog.  Perhaps I should try setting up a web site from scratch with WordPress.  1and1 offers the option of using WordPress templates to create a web site that is hosted through 1and1.