How to Remove the “Get Windows 10” System Tray Icon

Recently a Windows icon popped up in the system trays of all of my Windows computers. Its purpose, I discovered, is to assist you in upgrading to Windows 10 when it is released on July 29, and asks you to reserve your copy to facilitate your upgrade. That’s fine with me, and I went ahead and did what it asked. The problem is that the icon is consuming valuable screen space in my system tray and won’t go away. Even when you try and hide it (by clicking the little “up” arrow in the system tray then selecting “Customize” and “Hide icon and notifications”) it only comes back the next time you start your computer.

A Google search turned up some complex ways to remove it, but I figured out a very simple and easily-reversible way.

  1. Navigate to c:\Windows\System32
  2. Find the folder named “GWX”. Rename it “GWX2”. (Since this is in a Windows system folder, you will need to agree to provide administrator permission.)
  3. Restart your computer.

I would probably put things back by renaming the folder back to “GWX” sometime around July 29, as I’m assuming this program is important to an easy, automatic Windows 10 upgrade.

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Change Windows Live Mail Notification Sound

In Windows 8.1, Windows Live Mail is my mail application of choice. I don’t need anything more complicated.

I recently installed Windows Live Mail on a new computer and tried to change the new mail notification sound. It didn’t work and Google was little help. I finally figured it out on my own.

Normally I would change the New Mail Notification setting in the system sounds section of the Windows Control Panel (hit the Windows key and type Change System Sounds to get there). However, changing this had no effect on the sound Windows Live Mail played when there was new mail. I finally figured out you need to change the Desktop Mail Notification sound.

Yes it’s ambiguous and confusing to have two “Mail Notification” settings. It’s just another of the oddities of Windows 8 that I hope will go away when Windows 10 is officially released.

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iTunes Starting and Stopping Randomly

I have a Mac Mini that I use as my media computer and for doing Apple-related stuff (like synching my iPhone). This morning while listening to music in iTunes the playback suddenly stopped for no reason, then started again, and continued to repeat the start/stop process. It was like a phantom was randomly pressing the “Play” button on my keyboard (removing the batteries from my Bluetooth keyboard did not correct the problem). I restarted my Mac but as soon as I did iTunes started itself and proceeded to play the last tune I was listening to (and then stop, and play…).

After a number a diagnostic steps and some Google searching I finally figured out the problem. Last night I had set something down towards the back of my desk which was accidentally lying on the speaker cable coming out of the back of my Mac causing an intermittent connection. Apparently the intermittent connection was causing the Mac to receive unwanted play/stop messages. When I removed the object and plugged the cord firmly into the Mac the problem was solved.

Posted in OS X | 1 Comment

iPhone “Unable to Move Message” Error

If you add an e-mail account to your iPhone you might see “Unable to Move Message” when you try to delete a message. I believe this only happens with IMAP accounts (and not POP3). Here is how to fix it:

  1. Start the Settings app, then tap Mail, Contacts, Calendars.
  2. Tap the e-mail account name, then on the next screen tap Account.
  3. Tap Advanced.
  4. Under MAILBOX BEHAVIORS, tap Deleted Mailbox.
  5. There are two sections on this screen: At the top is ON MY IPHONE and underneath is ON THE SERVER. There should be a check mark next to the Trash folder in the ON MY IPHONE section. Tap the Trash folder in the ON THE SERVER section.
  6. Click the back arrow at the top. You should probably repeat the process for other folders.
  7. Click the back arrow again, then click Done.
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Declutter Your Facebook Feed

Facebook was showing me EVERY “like” and EVERY “comment” made by EVERY one of my Facebook friends. I want to keep up with what’s going on in my friends’ lives but that was ridiculous. Here’s how I removed most of the clutter:

  1. In the left column of your feed there’s a heading called “Friends.” In it you’ll see lists like “Close Friends,” “Family,” etc. Click the word “Friends.”
  2. You’ll now see your Friend Lists. Some of these you might have created yourself (like adding select friends to your “Close Friends” list), but Facebook creates some automatically.
  3. Click “Acquaintances.” These should theoretically be your non-close friends and consequently the ones you want the fewest amount of updates from.
  4. Near the top towards the right you should see a button that says “Manage List.” Click that button, then from the drop-down menu select “Choose Update Types…”
  5. Deselect “Comments and Likes.”

You can return to return to step 1 and edit your update types for other lists, but for me doing this for the “Acquaintances” list was enough to get my feed under control.

Although it took a bit of digging around to figure all this out, I actually like the way Facebook handles friend lists and lets you filter what you see from each list. If you ever want to add a friend to a list, hover your mouse over their name, then click the “Friends” button from the pop-up window and click “Add to another list…”

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Windows 8.1 Kills Windows Live Mail

I just upgraded from Windows 8 to 8.1. I use Windows Live Mail as my e-mail program, and got a mild shock when I started it up the first time after upgrading and got the following error message:

This program can’t start because MSVCR110.dll is missing from your computer. Try reinstalling the program to fix this problem.

A Web search turned up nothing, but it was easy enough to figure out how to fix on my own:

  1. Hit the Windows key, then type: add remove programs
  2. Select “Add or remove programs” from the list of options.
  3. Scroll down until you see the Windows Essentials option. Double-click it.
  4. Click on: Repair all Windows Essentials programs

Windows Live Mail should now work correctly.

Posted in Geek Stuff | 3 Comments

How to Disable Notification Center in iOS 7

UPDATE 6/24/14: Unfortunately it looks like this trick no longer works in iOS 7.1.1.

Version 5 of Apple’s iOS system for iPhone and iPad added a Notification Center, a “pull-down” window accessed by swiping down from the top of the screen. iOS 7 adds a Command Center, activated by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. These are convenient shortcuts, but not everyone uses them, and if you’re playing games that require swiping (like the old chestnut Flight Control) they are a big nuisance. Sadly, Apple gives us no obvious way to disable them.

I discovered a fairly easy way to disable and enable the Notification and Command Centers. First the setup:

  1. Go to the Settings app. Select General, then Accessibility.
  2. Scroll down to the very bottom and tap the Accessibility Shortcut option.
  3. Tap the AssistiveTouch option so there is a check mark next to it. This should be the only option with a check mark; if not, un-check the other options.

Once that’s done, here’s how to disable the Notification and Command Centers. This can be done from the home screen or within any app:

  1. Click the Home button three times in quick succession. A black square with a white dot will appear on the screen. Tap it once.
  2. A menu with several options will open. Tap the Home option three times in quick succession. The menu will disappear.

Your Notification and Command Centers should now be disabled. Try swiping down from the top of the screen and swiping up from the bottom to verify.

NOTE: I’ve discovered this method has one undesirable side effect. When Notification Center has been successfully disabled, your device will no longer sleep automatically. Your device’s battery will drain quickly if you’re not aware of this. If you want to disable Notification Center on a long-term basis, you will need to remember to manually put your device to sleep when you’re not using it by hitting the Sleep/Wake button. This effect is only temporary; if you re-enable the Notification Center (as outlined below), the device will sleep automatically once again. Because of this, I would recommend disabling Notification Center only when you really need to (when playing a game, for example), then re-enable it when you’re finished.

If you wish to enable them again, here’s how:

  1. Click the Home button three times in quick succession. The black square with a white dot will appear; this time ignore it.
  2. Click the Home button again three times in quick succession. The black square with a white dot will disappear and your Notification and Command Centers should be working again.

That’s it! This worked on both my iPhone 5S and my third-generation iPad. I hope it works for you!

Posted in iOS | 7 Comments

How To Delete Your Last Name from Your Google/Gmail Account

I wanted my Gmail account to show only my first name, but they insist on requiring you to enter a last name. I entered “Chris” as my first and last name. You can also enter a “nickname” which is supposed to be the name displayed when you send an e-mail; however, it doesn’t always work. I recently sent myself a location from Google Maps (click a location pin on the map, click “more,” then click Send), and the “from” name on the message I sent myself was “Chris Chris,” not my nickname.

I tried entering a blank space for my last name but that didn’t work. I figured out you could use an “alternate” blank space to successfully accomplish this. Instructions are below, but this only works on Windows computers (maybe someone will read this and post instructions for how to do it on a Mac).

  1. Go to
  2. Next to the “Email” heading click the “Edit” link.
  3. Remove whatever is in the “Last Name” field. (Click anywhere in the field, hit Ctrl-a, then the Delete key.)
  4. With the cursor still in the “Last Name” field, hold down the Alt key and enter the following numbers from your keyboard’s keypad: 0160
  5. Click “Save.”

Note that you must enter the above numbers from the keypad; using the regular number keys in the main part of your keyboard won’t work. Also note the Alt key needs to be held down the entire time you are entering the four numbers.

After I did this I came back to the Google account email settings page later to see if the blank space was there and it wasn’t. The “Last Name” field was empty; no blank space, no nothing. It looks like they will accept an alternate blank space without throwing up the “Required field cannot be left blank” message , but filter it out later. I sent myself a test message and there was no blank space where my last name should have been; the “from” name was only “Chris.”

Posted in Geek Stuff | 18 Comments

Firefox Alt-Click Download

It used to be that you could alt-click a link in Firefox (the Web browser) and it would automatically download the target of that link to the default download location on your computer (specified in Tools > Options > General) without popping up a dialog box or requiring any other action on your part. It was extremely convenient. However, in Firefox version 13 that option was disabled. Here’s how to put it back.

Note: The following requires modifying your computer’s system files. Although I’ve tested and use these modifications on my own computer and verified they are safe, I’m not responsible for any damage to your computer that might arise as a result of attempting these modifications—proceed at your own risk!

  1. In the Firefox address bar enter: about:config
  2. You’ll get a warning message asking you if you want to proceed. Click the button if you do.
  3. At the top of the new window will be a search box. Enter: altclicksave
  4. You’ll see a line that stars with browser.altClickSave. Double click on that so that the “Value” column reads “true.”
  5. Restart Firefox.

Note: The following requires modifying your computer’s system files. Although I’ve tested and use these modifications on my own computer, I’m not responsible for any damage to your computer that might arise as a result of attempting these modifications—proceed at your own risk!

Posted in Geek Stuff | 1 Comment

OS X Lion Problems

I recently upgraded my Mac mini to OS X Lion (from Snow Leopard) and discovered two very annoying problems that were not present in Snow Leopard. Both stem from the fact that I have a two-monitor setup: a regular computer monitor connected to the display port as my primary display, and a television connected to the HDMI port as my secondary display.

The first problem I encountered was when I tried to select HDMI as the audio source. I couldn’t. I tried to select it in the Sound panel of the System Preferences, but it kept reverting back to “headphones” as the output (“headphones” means anything plugged into the headphone jack—in my case it’s desktop speakers). After some Google searching that lead nowhere, I decided to unplug the speakers to see what happened and low and behold, I was able to select HDMI for audio output. After further searching, I discovered that Apple considers this a feature and not a bug. This Apple support article says this behavior was added “to mimic the mutually exclusive speaker behavior of iMac and Apple display products that use Mini DisplayPort or Thunderbolt,” whatever the heck that means. Their only “solution” is to unplug the speakers from the back of the Mac mini every time you want to use HDMI for sound. What a pain (and a bunch of wear and tear on the headphone jack).

The second problem is that apps will not display full screen in a secondary monitor. If you attempt to set them to full screen, they will jump to the primary monitor. I used to be able to play video full screen on the television while working (or surfing the Web or whatever) on my main monitor; I can no longer do that. I can view video in the secondary monitor in a window, but then I’m stuck with the window title and status bars, and the video is never as big as it could be.

The HDMI sound issue is an inconvenience, but the full screen video issue is ridiculously bad. A quick Google search turns up a ton of forum posts about this (even in Apple’s own support forums) by people who are scratching their heads at best and outraged at worst. Lion was released almost a year ago, and Apple shows no signs of wanting to address this issue. Shame on them.

Posted in Consumerisms, Geek Stuff, OS X | Leave a comment