Fix for People App crashing in Win 8.1 after latest update

Posted Posted in Windows 8.1


Microsoft updated the Mail, Calendar and People App in the Windows Store on June 26. After that update, a number of people, including myself, found that the app would open but then “crash” immediately. It still would be running in the background, but would not display the default screen. I saw this on 4 Windows 8.1 computers. I checked the 2 computers running Windows 8.1 that had not yet been updated with the latest revision of the app and they worked fine. I upgraded to the new App release on one of these two computers, and as expected, the crashing behavior started.

After reading the initial complaints that started appearing in the Microsoft Forums I started digging into this. My hunch, reinforced by my logs and the log from another user, was that something in the social media integration function was  causing the issue.

I found that link to control which social media accounts were linked to my Microsoft ID: 

It turns out that the Twitter integration was causing the issue for me. After removing the Twitter integration, the App functions as it should and displays properly.

after removing all social media


And yes, the Facebook Connect piece is now deprecated, but that was not causing the crashes.

I’m not 100% convinced that Microsoft has escalated the issue to the team that owns the app.

Siri HomeKit Commands with On/Off Switches and Lights in Rooms or Zones

Posted Posted in Connected Home


Apple’s HomeKit powered hubs and devices are very new and the platform is fragile, but definitely is a promise of things to come. Early adopters are struggling with device control and finding precious little documentation to assist them. I’ve had mostly good experiences, but I like over the bleeding edge technology and I like rolling up my sleeves to see what makes things tick or stop ticking. I want this platform to work. And I’ve been digging in.

Apple recently published a list of Siri HomeKit commands at When looking at their list (below), I found myself scratching my head. Look at the number of times the word LIGHTS appear in the sample commands. I have 8 lights controlled by HomeKit compatible accessories, but many of the commands that use the word LIGHTS just are not working. Commands like “Turn on the Living Room Lights” or “Turn on the Downstairs Lights” resulted in failure.

apple siri

I did some thinking and realized that my downstairs lights are connected to Insteon On/Off switches and NOT to Dimmers. And I began to suspect that this made a difference, since On/Off switches could be connected to non lamp devices like Table Fans, etc.

As it turns out, my hunch was correct. Omitting the word “Lights” from the Siri commands made a huge difference. I have Rooms and Zones, and have been struggling for a few days to understand why Siri commands weren’t working. I now have the answer. Here’s a video that demo’s what works and what doesn’t work.


Let me know your experiences with HomeKit on Twitter @barbbowman

HomeKit and My Connected Home

Posted Posted in Connected Home


The Internet of Things isn’t arriving fast enough for me, but I’ve managed to jumpstart my Connected Home’s entrance into this brave new world thanks to Apple’s iOS HomeKit.

What I have now using HomeKit is a preview of things to come, and I’m hoping that iOS9 brings some improvements and refinement, as has been rumored by many who more actively follow the iOS ecosystem. And I’m happy to play with what I have today, a somewhat fragile but working system that lets me control HomeKit enabled devices from multiple vendors both from my iPhone 6 and by voice command using Siri over my home network.

Most of the top tier Home Automation and Control vendors like Insteon and Lutron, who already had bridges and addressable devices in the marketplace, are introducing HomeKit enabled bridges or have introduced them. Existing dimmer switches and on/off switches should work with the new bridges, but battery powered devices like motion sensors most likely will not work. There may be support for motion sensors in iOS9, but it’s not known if existing sensors will need to be replaced by a new HomeKit enabled sensor.
HomeKit can control devices, scenes that control multiple devices, rooms, and zones, depending on the iOS app. You need to add/discover a particular vendor’s HomeKit enabled bridge and you’ll need to add devices from a particular vendor using that vendor’s app. Once devices are enabled, you can use any vendor’s app to configure scenes, rooms, and zones, provided that the app supports this.

There are only a few apps in the iTunes Store that work with HomeKit devices. Lutron’s App is sandboxed and only controls Lutron devices. It does recognize Rooms created by other apps. It can create Scenes, but only using Lutron devices as HomeKit devices from other Vendors don’t appear in their app.

lutron scenes



Insteon’s HomeKit enabled Insteon+ App has full HomeKit integration and no restriction on using other vendor HomeKit devices in scenes. I can include Lutron dimmers in scenes I create in the Insteon+ app.


insteon scenes


While I don’t have any Elgato devices, I actually like the Elgato Eve app best because it is easier for me to read. The Elgato Eve app also lets me add/edit scenes and rooms.

elgato eve


I’ve got Hey Siri enabled on my iPhone 6. And I’ve got a charging cradle in my Bedroom where my iPhone spends the night. Siri integration with HomeKit is not perfect, but it’s pretty cool to tell Siri to run on a light or a scene, as shown in my video.

To control devices over cellular or while away from home, a 3rd generation Apple TV with firmware 7+ is required. I found that I had to move my Apple TV from Ethernet to Wireless for this to work. I also had to sign out and in to iCloud a few times. HomeKit works remotely using iCloud integration. Siri commands over cellular didn’t work, but using the actual Apps on my iPhone worked fine (with a short delay).

All in all, this is great fun for an over the bleeding edge geek.

Fix for Start Menu Not Working on Windows 10 Bld 10130

Posted Posted in Windows 10, Windows 8.1

Screenshot (3) 

I keep trying to get the Start menu on Windows 10 to show what I want and not what Microsoft wants. I turned off the first two entries in Personalization, Start. I especially do NOT want app or content suggestions in my Start menu. I suppose this is yet another bug. But it is most annoying that I can’t get the Start menu to look anything like the Start menu in Windows 8.1 on my tablet. And I LIKE the Start menu on tablets in 8.1. The Windows 10 Start menu was built for Phones and for folks that use Portrait View.


If you find that you can no longer get the Start menu to display in 10130, you’ll have to not opt out of what Microsoft wants. At least for now.

Windows 10 blew itself up and is aggravating Me

Posted Posted in Windows 10


I hadn’t planned to spend all night Friday and most of Saturday morning dealing with annoying Insider Preview Windows 10 issues. But that happened on my Surface Pro original.

It all started yesterday afternoon when I dug into why some June updates were sitting in the “Downloading” status and were stuck. Reboots didn’t help, just stuck at 53% for hours and hours. So I tried to reinstall 10130 from ISO over the top of 10130 to see if I could do an in place upgrade to repair whatever was wrong. After a couple of hours, I thought I was going to be ok, had two reboots, and got to a prompt that required me to select NEXT. I’d hit NEXT either by touch or type keyboard and the tablet would reboot. Rinse and repeat. Held down the power button to insure totally off. Powered on, got to select NEXT. Boom. Rinse and repeat.

So last night it was time to nuke and pave. I decided to see what a real upgrade over 8.1 Pro might be like for a typical end user.

I created a USB recovery drive for my original Surface Pro using the downloadable bits online. I did the volume down/power thing and booted off the USB and ran the setup. It took forever. And that was Windows 8.0. I couldn’t install 8.1 from the Store without installing Windows Updates. 142 of them. I have a fast connection, but that took hours. Went to bed. Got up early and updates were installed, rebooted a couple of times, found more updates, more reboots. Went to the Store and started the 8.1 updates. Went out and did some grocery shopping. Couple of hours later 8.1 was installed. Went to the Store, My Apps, got the ones I needed. Note that they did NOT appear on the Start Screen with the indicator to download so I had no familiar Start Screen layout. My sync settings WERE correct. Maybe because this tablet once had W10 on it this sync piece no longer applies when you first power up a “new” computer. Anyway, I downloaded the apps and they landed in their designated layout on Start.

Went to as again, I wanted to see what the end user experience would be upgrading from 8.1. 10074 was offered, not 10130, I guess because of all the issues people have been reporting with 10130. So two hours later, 10074 is installed. And my Start menu is replaced by what I guess is the “default” arrangement for Start. My carefully arranged app tiles from 8.1 totally ignored.


Now from within 10074, Windows Update, I have to install the offered 10130.