Fixing Windows 7 Update Hangs

Update hangs?  Boy howdy!  This has become a real nightmare. Windows Update can spin on “checking for updates…” for hours – or even days.

I (and many, many others) have run into this on new Windows 7 SP1 installs from Microsoft media, newly arrived laptops with Win 7 SP1+ preloads, and laptops and desktops running ‘7 SP1 that were previously fully updated.

The below fix was recommended to me by a wise old IT JOAT.  It has fixed all my machines and will hopefully help others.  OTOH it isn’t likely a universal fix and it takes some patience to apply.

For me Windows Update works almost instantly after this procedure.

Install  .NET update NDP461-KB3102436-x86-x64-AllOS-ENU

In an elevated command window turn off the update service:  net stop wuauserv

rename the folder C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution to …OLD

With the update service still off, install this update to the update client:  KB3138612

turn the update service back on: net start wuauserv

Install the following KBs in order, rebooting after each install.  It may be necessary to turn off the update service while doing this to keep it from hanging on “checking…”.  The update service is typically on a delayed start so it may or may not be necessary to turn it off for each install.


That last KB is the July roll-up.  It may be superseded by later roll-ups, and there should be an indication of that on the KB’s page.

Happy updating 🙂


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Miix it up: Lenovo’s Miix 700 Tablet


(Image Lenovo)

The same old boilerplate:  From time to time the nice people at Lenovo send me a gadget.  They’re handy to have around – both for my own use and when trying to help out in the Lenovo forums.  I do some testing and writing as well.  I’m not otherwise compensated, and opinions are my own.  I DO NOT speak for Lenovo

Well, another Lenovo gadget showed up the other day.  This one is a Miix 700  – my first Windows tablet.  It’s a surprisingly capable machine for a tablet.  Maybe too capable – since it encourages trying some things I’d normally attempt on a laptop or desktop.

This isn’t a review; I don’t do reviews.  This is a quick look at the tablet’s specs and features I find interesting.  I’ll also explore some things I do with most computing hardware that I get my hands on: making recovery media, accessing the tablet’s innards, SSD upgrade/replacement/performance, cloning, virtual machines, and Linux, for a start.

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Lenovo Yoga 900: not a ThinkPad, but not too bad…


From time to time the nice people at Lenovo send me a gadget.  They’re handy to have around – both for my own use and when trying to help out in the Lenovo forums.  I do some testing and writing as well.  I’m not otherwise compensated, and opinions are my own.  I DO NOT speak for Lenovo.

I’ve had a Yoga 3 Pro 2-in-1 for a while now.  Fascinating piece of engineering.  Thin, light, beautiful display, reasonable performance, and the gymnastic ability to transform from a laptop into a tablet – and several poses in-between.  And that stunning watch-band hinge…

Recently  a Yoga 900 showed up on the porch. Wow!  It’s a refinement of the ‘3 Pro: i7 processor, 6-row keyboard (with function keys!), USB-C port, increased battery run time, similar display, hinge, and flexibility.

I’ll probably do a series of articles including things like SSD upgrades, cloning, backup, etc – but first let’s just start by comparing the specs, appearance, and power supplies:

I’ve done my best to gather accurate specifications, but no guarantees.  Please double check before making a purchase decision based on this information!


Yoga 3 Pro Yoga 900
Processor Intel Core M 5Y70 (2 cores / 4 threads 1.10GHz / 2.6 GHz 4MB cache)

Intel Core M 5Y71 (2 cores / 4 threads 1.20GHz / 2.9 GHz 4MB cache)

Intel Core i5-6200U (2 cores / 4 threads 2.3 GHz / 2.8 GHz 3MB cache)

Intel Core i7-6500U (2 cores / 4 threads 2.5 GHz / 3.1 GHz 4MB cache)

Operating System* Windows 8.1 Home 64 Windows 10 Home 64
Graphics  Intel HD Graphics 5300  Intel HD Graphics 520
Memory 8GB max / PC3-12800 1600MHz LPDDR3, soldered to system board 16GB max / PC3-12800 1600MHz LPDDR3, soldered to system board
Hard Drive Up to 512 GB  m.2 2280 SSD Up to 512 GB  m.2 2280 SSD
Display 13.3″ QHD+ (3200 x 1800) IPS, 300 nits 13.3″ QHD+ (3200 x 1800) IPS, 300 nits
Camera  720p HD, 1.0 MP resolution, fixed focus  720p HD, 1.0 MP resolution, fixed focus
Audio support HD audio, Realtek® ALC286 codec / two JBL® speakers,
1.5W x 2 / dual digital array microphone, combo audio / microphone jack
HD audio, JBL branded Speaker with Dolby® Audio Premium certifi cation,
2.0W x 2, dual array microphone, combo audio / microphone jack
Keyboard Full-size keyboard, backlight, 5-row, multimedia Fn keys Full-size keyboard, backlight, 6-row, multimedia Fn keys
Touchpad Buttonless touchpad below keyboard, multi-touch Buttonless touchpad below keyboard, multi-touch
WLAN 802.11ac, BCM 4352, 2×2, Wi-Fi + BT combo adapter

(Bluetooth 4.0 wireless, integrated in Wi-Fi + Bluetooth combo adapter)

One of the following, configurable by model:

11b/g/n+BT: 11b/g/n, 1×1, Wi-Fi + Bluetooth combo adapter, M.2 Card

11ac+BT: 11ac, 1×1, Wi-Fi + Bluetooth combo adapter, M.2 Card

Intel 8260 ac+BT: 11ac, 2×2,Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260,
Wi-Fi + Bluetooth combo adapter, M.2 Card

(Bluetooth 4.1 wireless, integrated in Wi-Fi + Bluetooth combo adapter)

Battery** Up to 7.2 hours, 4 Cell 44.8 Watt Hour Li-Polymer Up to 9 hours, 4-cell 66 Watt Hour Li-polymer
Ports 2 x USB 3.0,  1 x micro HDMI, 1 x DC-in with USB 2.0 function, 4-in-1 reader (SD, MMC, SDXC, SDHC), Audio Combo Jack 2 x USB Type A 3.0, 1 x USB Type C 3.0 with Video-out, 1 x DC-in with USB 2.0 Function, 4-in-1 Card Reader (SD, MMC, SDXC, SDHC) Audio Combo Jack
Weight 2.62 pounds (1.2 kg) 2.8 lbs (1.3 kg)
Dimensions 13″  x 9″ x 0.5″ (330 x 229 x 12.7 mm) 12.75″ x 8.86″ x 0.59″ (324 x 225 x 14.9 mm)

* Operating system as shipped.  Other options may be available.

** Take battery run time with a grain rock of salt 😉  although I’ve seen the Yoga 900 “gas gauge” indicating over 15 hours just sitting with a web page open.

Hinges and Side Views

The hinges are nearly identical.  And amazing.  The 900’s hinge feels subjectively stouter, but this may be due to the more rigid halves of the clamshell.


The Yoga 3 Pro’s right and left sides:


And the Yoga 900’s:


The port layouts – and many other things  – are detailed in the respective user’s manuals:

User Guide – YOGA 3 Pro

User Guide – Yoga 900

Power Ports and Supplies

One thing that’s immediately obvious is that oddly-shaped USB port on the laptops’ left sides near the hinge.  It’s one of the clever (and perhaps confusing) aspects of these Yogas.  That warped port is a combination USB 2.0 host port – for attaching devices – and a port for charging the laptop.

Here’s the confusing part: even though those ports support attaching USB devices and the charging cables have USB connectors on each end, these laptops cannot be charged by a 5V USB power sourceThey require a specific 20V power supply.  More on that below.

To match the laptops’ charging ports, the AC “wall-wart” power supplies have dual-purpose capabilities.  They can supply the 20VDC required by the Yogas via an extra pair of pins added to the standard USB pins.  They can also supply USB-standard 5.2VDC to other USB devices when not being used to charge a laptop.


To further add to the confusion, the two laptops’ wall-warts are similar.  The connectors and cables area physically compatible, and both supply 20V.  However, the Yoga 3 Pro’s supply provides 40 Watts max, and the 900’s provides 65 Watts.  The Y3P’s supply can be plugged into the 900 and may be able to charge it when the laptop is turned off.  When the 900 is running it will likely max out the smaller power supply – leading to overheating and possible over-temp or over-current shut down. Generally speaking, it’s fine to use the larger supply with either laptop, but not a good idea to use the smaller one with the 900.

Another minor difference:  the Y3P’s supply has the AC pins located toward the edge, while the 900’s pins are in the middle.  The 900 supply may block more than one AC socket in a wall outlet or surge strip.

The Yoga 3 Pro wall-wart & cable:



A friend’s video comparison of the two Yogas:  Lenovo Yoga 900 & Yoga 3 Pro Differences

Laptop base specifications:

Yoga 3 Pro

Yoga 900

Hardware Maintenance Manuals:

Hardware Maintenance Manual – Lenovo YOGA 3 Pro-1370

Hardware Maintenance Manual – Yoga 900-13ISK


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Windows 10 Virtual Machine Network Issue

A quick note about running Windows 10 Pro 64-bit in VMWare Workstation Player 12:  works well, but there is a networking issue.

Even though the virtual network is up and running – the browser can access the internet – Windows Updates and the Windows Store claim they can’t connect:  “We couldn’t get online to download your updates” and “The server stumbled”.



Switching the virtual NIC from NAT to Bridged gets things working.  My WAG is that there’s a protocol that isn’t being passed through, but that’s just a WAG.


The VM client has the same problem running on an i7 Windows 7 whitebox desktop and an i7 Lenovo T450s Windows 10 laptop.  I don’t really want to run in Bridged mode so it would be nice to figure out the root problem.  Input welcome.

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Retro ThinkPad Follow-up Surveys

David Hill of Lenovo has posted another blog article. He’s asking ThinkPad fans to fill out a survey indicating which features would be most important in the proposed “retro” ThinkPad.  There will be a series of these surveys.

Here’s your chance! Take a minute to speak your mind.

Weigh in on Retro ThinkPad

Retro ThinkPad Survey 2: Displays, Keyboard, and More

Retro ThinkPad Survey 3: What’s Under the Hood?

Retro ThinkPad Survey 4: Miscellaneous

Retro ThinkPad: Time to Think

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ThinkPad Time Machine?


Lenovo is contemplating a “retro” ThinkPad” 😀

…Imagine a blue enter key, 7 row classic keyboard, 16:10 aspect ratio screen, multi-color ThinkPad logo, dedicated volume controls, rubberized paint, exposed screws, lots of status LED’s, and more…

Join the conversation!  Add your support and participate in shaping the specs.  ThinkPad Time Machine?

Title, text, and image shamelessly borrowed from the Lenovo blog article.

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A FOB STORY: some notes on bootable flash drives

I admit it: I’m a little obsessed with bootable flash drives.  Especially multi-boot flash drives. It’s replaced my obsession with multi-boot PCs.  It’s an interesting challenge, and the end result can be useful.  They’re great for forensics, data recovery and operating system repair, and these days with the shift to ultrabooks and tablets, they may be the only way to install an operating system.

As I mentioned back here Bootable USB Flash Drive Tools there are tools that can help or fully automate making a bootable flash – but I prefer to roll my own.  Please double-check anything I suggest below.  I’ve given it my best shot, but can’t guarantee it’s all correct – or won’t b0rk your computer.

This article discusses hand-made bootable flash drives using grub2 as the bootloader that can be legacy-bootable, UEFI-bootable, multiboot, or all of the above on the same fob.  Some side trips on chain loading and persistence tossed in for good measure.

Legacy bootability testing was done on a Lenovo T400, UEFI testing on a Lenovo Twist.  (The Twist has some issues when booting Ubuntu.  See page “Stuff that doesn’t work…” at the end of this article.)  Flash drive creation, file copying, grub2 installation, etc. on whatever was handy. Ubuntu 14.04.1LTS 64-bit is the live CD ISO used, both in its entirety (as a “vanilla” live CD) and as a source for grub2.  Grub2 documentation can be found here:  GNU GRUB Manual 2.00

There are no doubt several ways to skin this cat, and countless articles – so please forgive one more.  This is a first pass and a little disorganized.  Corrections and additions welcomed.  Let’s go prep the flash drive…

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Polenta With Chicken And Wild Mushrooms


It’s chanterelle mushroom season in the Pacific Northwest.  They grow wild here and are starting to show up in the market.  They’re mild-flavored and I never thought much of them until SWMBO came up with this excellent recipe.  The subtle smoky mushroom flavor goes very well with the polenta and chicken, and the feta adds a nice counterpoint.

Bake approximately one pound of chicken breast (two individual breasts) with a sprinkling of black pepper, oregano, and basil.  Cool and shred.

Chop a small onion and two cloves of garlic.  Saute in olive oil and 1 TBSP of butter until softened.  Cut 5-7 chanterelle mushrooms (more or less, to taste) into chunks and add to the onion and garlic.  Continue to saute until the mushrooms begin to wilt.  Sprinkle with a little cayenne pepper.  Add the shredded chicken.

Bring 3 cups of chicken broth to a low boil.  Add 1 cup of polenta (quick-cooking polenta if you can find it) in a small steady stream.  Cook until thickened.  Stir in 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese when done.

Combine the polenta, chicken mixture, and 1/4 cup of feta cheese.  Mix well and transfer to a casserole dish.  Bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes.

Now all you need is some warm French bread and a glass of good pinot noir.


1 lb chicken breast (more or less)
1 cup polenta (quick-cooking if available)
5-7 chanterelle mushrooms (more or less)
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
3 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup feta
1 TBSP butter
olive oil as needed
black pepper, oregano, basil, cayenne pepper to taste
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Salt Water Mooring: don’t believe everything you read in Chapman

15 years ago – or so – we had the good fortune to acquire waterfront property with a boat ramp.  All it needed was a mooring to make things complete.  Out came the copy of Chapman, and I built a mooring per the conventional wisdom.  Something like this:

MooringCroppedThe anchor was a massive concrete hemisphere with an iron ring.  The guy who delivered it on-site had attached a 6 foot log boom chain with a 1-1/2 inch shackle.  I added a 3/4 inch swivel and 25 feet of 1/2 inch long-link chain.  A 24 inch float with the chain passing through the middle, and a 5 foot pennant completed the setup.

Just like the image above, and hell-for-stout.  Not so much.  It didn’t survive the first winter.  The lower portion of the lighter chain was almost completely gone, and one of the swivel shackles had failed.  The real excitement: the weight of chain kept the float in more-or-less the same place I had set it.  I tied up my 21-footer, took the trailer off the truck, and built a camp fire.  A little later noticed that the boat was gone!  It had drifted almost onto the rocks by the time I got organized and retrieved it.  Needless to say, that was it for the fishing weekend.

Here’s the deal:  it isn’t the big waves, weight of the boat, passing logs, kelp, and other junk that tears up the mooring.  It’s the constant little riffles.  Whatever chain link is just at the bottom (where chain goes from lying flat to vertical) gets its galvanizing rubbed off.  It rusts, and the rust gets rubbed off.  The length of chain that’s subject to this (given the tidal range) dissolves pretty quickly.

My solution (modified from a set-up a local diver described to me) is to use nylon rope instead of chain, and try to minimize motion in the places where metal must be used.  That and use the heaviest parts available.  The rope does the wiggling, and hopefully reduces the scuffing action on the metal.

The setup, from the bottom up:  anchor, 1-1/2 safety shackle (heavy enough to just lie flat most of the time so it doesn’t wear the anchor ring), 1 inch shackle (more or less vertical so it doesn’t wiggle much), 3/4 inch swivel (stands vertical),  3/4 inch shackle, 20 feet of 3/4 inch 3-strand nylon with 3/4 inch wire rope thimbles at each end, a mid-water float (trawl ball or similar to hold the swivel vertical and isolate the lower parts from the riffles) 6 feet from the bottom of the rope, 5/8 inch shackle, 7 feet of 1/2 inch long link chain through the float (the chain weight snubs some of the yank on the other parts), 24 inch float, 5/8 inch shackle, galvanized ring (for convenience), and a 5 foot pennant with stainless snap.

I replace all the metal and nylon every three years – with the exception of the 1-1/2 inch safety shackle, which seems to last 15 years, more or less.  One could argue that the swivel should be at the top of the rope so the bottom shackle could stand vertical.  This might be a better setup, but I’m worried about wearing out the anchor ring.  Once that’s gone, it’s game over.

The “upper swivel” setup would look something like this:

mid_float_mooring_croppedjpgThe original sketch:


And what the 2016 version looks like:


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Coleslaw, a lot of coleslaw…

A big cabbage split open in the garden today. Sort of a slaw grenade.  Only one thing to do when life hands you  lemons: make coleslaw…

Shrimpy Slaw:

  • Chopped cabbage
  • Salad shrimp
  • mayo
  • splash of tarragon vinegar
  • a little diced shallot or green onion (I prefer onion, SWMBO likes shallot)
  • celery seed
  • black pepper
  • pinch of salt

Proportions per your taste.  Make a little in advance – maybe a couple of hours – and refrigerate.  It’s pretty good the next day, but breaks down after that.



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