Windows 10 Slow Sign In Fix

Has your Windows 10 machine been plagued with slow sign in since the major update in November 2015? My desktop machine has. Running from an SSD the computer will reach the lock screen in seconds as usual. But when I enter my pin, the computer now takes 20-30 seconds to reach the desktop. Previously it was only a few seconds.

Since the major update in November there have been a few minor updates released but none have fixed this issue. Yesterday evening I was searching for a solution again and I saw one mentioned I thought was mad. Surely this wouldn’t work. How could something so simple cause such a problem and why wasn’t this caught in testing?

The problem? Auto hiding the taskbar. My Desktop PC was set to auto hide the taskbar. I read that this was the cause of the problem. I didn’t believe it. I assumed it was someone trolling a tech forum.

I tried the fix anyway. I unticked the box marked “auto hide the taskbar”. And lo and behold. My PC now reaches the desktop from the lockscreen in two seconds. Two seconds!

Ridiculous a bug like this gets through testing. But anyway, I hope this fix works for you.

SMSL 793II DAC/Headphone Amp – Quick Review

You can pay an absolute fortune for a good headphone amp but much of this money goes into snake oil. A decent DAC chip is not expensive and amplification is not rocket science. SMSL is a Chinese company that’s making waves with good quality audio gear that means you don’t have to break the bank to get good sound. This DAC/Amp receives optical/coax digital PCM and sends it out of the headphone output at the front and via RCA line-out at the rear. The volume controls the headphone only – as it should – leaving the line-out to be a fixed volume. I’ve got this DAC set up on my desk where I feed it an optical signal from my motherboard, the line-out then goes to a hi-fi amp and speakers. The sound quality is excellent both in the phones and via the line-out. I’ve used the line-out to feed an SMSL SA-50 amp and a Marantz MR-603 hifi and in both cases the results were superb. Be aware like most headphone amps there is a little channel imbalance through headphones at the quiet end of the volume taper but this is gone at normal listening volumes.

Also as is often the case with excellent but inexpensive Chinese audio gear the power supply lets the side down with cheapness and potential electric death. My 793ii came with a two-prong switching power supply and a travel adapter. While the power supply seems fine – I didn’t like using it with the travel adapter and bought a 9v switching power supply from Maplin with a proper UK plug.

Videogame Ghosts

Lack of interactivity is something I’m noticing more and more in games. It’s not that the worlds used to be more interactive – it’s that as the detail in games has increased the level of interactivity has not kept pace. So while the Paris of Assassin’s Creed Unity is a really amazing thing – I’ve spent house exploring it – after a while I felt like a ghost. So many games we move though these amazing worlds without being able to really reach out and touch them.

Perhaps these lonely avatars wandering though Paris or Chicago of Watch Dogs are a metaphor for a lonely generation. Unintended of course. But I want to be able to give money to a beggar in Watch Dogs, or just talk to someone in Unity, tell a busker they are great, hold someone’s hand.

So many games with amazing game worlds and the only time we can touch them is with a blade or a bullet.

Lent Sacrifice

I’m not a spiritual person – I don’t give up things for lent as a religious observance. However this year I’ve joined my wife in giving up Twitter and Facebook for lent.

FB is easy. I don’t use it much anyway, there’s only so much bullshit “pass this on” rubbish one can take. “Friends are wonderful, if you have a friend share this to show how much you love them”, “Parents are great, share this if you’re a parent”. You know, that kind of shite.

However I love the discourse of Twitter and already on day one I’m missing it. I’ve had to remove the Tweetdeck icon from my taskbar and from my browser just so I don’t automatically open the program by mistake.

I will likely still post on Twitter/FB without visiting and reading the sites purely because my blog can auto post, I can share links via my browser and I will share links from my Flickr photostream. But the traffic will be one way, it’s just auto stuff, not me getting properly involved in the streams.

I live a long way from my family and have no local friends. I maintain existing friendships via social media – mostly Twitter. So it will be interesting to see how I cope over the next few weeks. It’s an interesting experiment – watch as Harry is shorn of his social contact and slowly goes insane.

Front Element Dust – One Man’s Quest

Maybe others have done this before, but I want to relate a little story of how I solved an issue with my Fujinon 18-55mm and a persistent blob of dust on the inside of the front element.

I had this big piece of dust on the inside front element of the lenses. This didn’t adversely affect the image in any way but was annoying me. I believe it was a dust mite, it even seemed to move around a little and would come towards the edge of the lens when I shone a torch there. But I could not shift it completely, it kept returning to the front element.

I read some advice about killing mites in lenses by freezing. So I sealed the lens in a ziplock bag and put it in the freezer for a few hours. I didn’t release the lens from the bag until it had returned to room temperature. Whatever the dust blob was it didn’t move again after this. But it was still sat there in the middle of the front element. I had killed the beast but not shifted it.

Now I’ve seen all the pictures of smashed front elements still taking pictures. This wasn’t really about image quality, but about something of mine not being how I wanted it. I get that. This was a slightly obsessional thing. And while I have no plans to ever part with this excellent lens I could hardly sell it with a corpse of an invading entity sat their bang in the middle of the front element.

So just now I was looking at this blob of dust and my thoughts went in the direction of the ultrasonic vibration some cameras use to remove dust from the sensor. Many modern cameras shake the sensor at start up and shut down to remove particles of dust. What if made the front element of the lens vibrate? Would that help? What should I use to vibrate the lens?1

I tried my Phillips rotary shaver first. But the damn thing was too smooth. It didn’t vibrate much. I held the body of the shaver against the edge of the lens’ filter ring. No luck. Then I remembered that my beard trimmer vibrated much more as it used reciprocal motion rather than a rotary movement. I fetched that, held the side against the filter ring and fired it up.

Within seconds that pesky blob of dust fell away harmlessly into the corrugations of the inside of the lens barrel. It had been smote by my silly idea. I’m not sure If I’m trying to pass on advice here. Warn you not to be so silly with your gear. Or just sharing something that made me laugh. But there you go, an ad hoc method of removing persistent front element lens dust.2

1No sniggering at the back there.
2I accept no blame for you damaging equipment, or for your significant other asking what exactly are you doing with their vibrating device.