marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

In a weird twist, it's not HP recording your keystrokes on certain desktops and laptops - technically it's a Conexant audio driver that does the actual keystroke recording (it includes a debugging program that went a little haywire; whether that's by design or error is not yet known). HP has since released a security advisory that claims the driver's keystroke logging is "caused by a local debugging capability that was not disabled prior to product launch".

Because Conexant makes audio drivers for many computer brands, this privacy intrusion may ultimately affect many other computer, laptop and tablet makes and models, as well.

That means check your tablet, laptop or computer for this driver - no matter which make, model, form factor or version of Windows you have.

You can follow these steps to find the Conexant audio driver on your device and to get a new HP driver without the keylogger in it:

  1. Using Cortana or a search tool like Everything, look for C:\Windows\System32\MicTray.exe or C:\Windows\System32\MicTray64.exe (you can right-click, copy and paste these words right from here into either one of those tools).
  2. If either file turns up, right click the computer taskbar, select Task Manager and look for either MicTray.exe or MicTray64.exe. If either of these turns up, right-click it and select End task.
  3. Go back to the file you found in C:\Windows\System32, right-click it and delete it.
  4. Install the latest HP driver from here. [ed. note: requires FTP to download]
  5. Now search your computer for C:\Users\Public\MicTray.log or check C:\Users\Public\ for the file; if it turns up, open it and check for login names, passwords, banking info, and so on, then change your passwords at the affected websites. 

Microsoft says in this advisory that "Windows Defender AV detects and removes this threat" but also warns "[d]oing so also disables the keyboard short cut that turns the microphone on and off."

For affected desktops and notebooks/laptops HP has made the public aware of scroll to the titles Commercial Desktops, Consumer Notebooks and Commercial Notebooks in the same security advisory linked above, which will list affected models not found in the lists below.

More affected notebook/laptop models the public has been made aware of [list]:

* HARDWARE PRODUCT MODEL(S):
HP EliteBook 820 G3 Notebook PC
HP EliteBook 828 G3 Notebook PC
HP EliteBook 840 G3 Notebook PC
HP EliteBook 848 G3 Notebook PC
HP EliteBook 850 G3 Notebook PC
HP ProBook 640 G2 Notebook PC
HP ProBook 650 G2 Notebook PC
HP ProBook 645 G2 Notebook PC
HP ProBook 655 G2 Notebook PC
HP ProBook 450 G3 Notebook PC
HP ProBook 430 G3 Notebook PC
HP ProBook 440 G3 Notebook PC
HP ProBook 446 G3 Notebook PC
HP ProBook 470 G3 Notebook PC
HP ProBook 455 G3 Notebook PC
HP EliteBook 725 G3 Notebook PC
HP EliteBook 745 G3 Notebook PC
HP EliteBook 755 G3 Notebook PC
HP EliteBook 1030 G1 Notebook PC
HP ZBook 15u G3 Mobile Workstation
HP Elite x2 1012 G1 Tablet
HP Elite x2 1012 G1 with Travel Keyboard
HP Elite x2 1012 G1 Advanced Keyboard
HP EliteBook Folio 1040 G3 Notebook PC
HP ZBook 17 G3 Mobile Workstation
HP ZBook 15 G3 Mobile Workstation
HP ZBook Studio G3 Mobile Workstation
HP EliteBook Folio G1 Notebook PC

Affected operating systems the public has been made aware of [list]:

* OPERATING SYSTEM(S):
Microsoft Windows 10 32
Microsoft Windows 10 64
Microsoft Windows 10 IOT Enterprise 32-Bit (x86)
Microsoft Windows 10 IOT Enterprise 64-Bit (x86)
Microsoft Windows 7 Enterprise 32 Edition
Microsoft Windows 7 Enterprise 64 Edition
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Basic 32 Edition
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Basic 64 Edition
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 32 Edition
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Edition
Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 32 Edition
Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64 Edition
Microsoft Windows 7 Starter 32 Edition
Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 32 Edition
Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64 Edition
Microsoft Windows Embedded Standard 7 32
Microsoft Windows Embedded Standard 7E 32-Bit

I'm pretty sure merely having one of the operating systems listed above - by itself - isn't enough to predict "MicTray.exe" or "MicTray64.exe" will be found on your computer, but any make, model or type of computer - such as your tablet, laptop or computer tower - could have it, so it still doesn't hurt to check.


*ETA, 6-29-17: hat-tip to [personal profile] darkoshi for pointing out HP's security advisory lists laptops affected by this keylogger not found in the lists I posted; while I was noticing that, I realized there's a list of affected HP desktops, as well. Article and post title have been updated accordingly.

marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

Seriously, for the love of God, PCWorld has you do so much just to boot into Safe Mode and it's so unbelievably torturous and will so make you want to stab your eyes out with forks (they didn't even have the simple courtesy to turn their many needless steps into a perhaps easier-to-read list, instead pushing you through a gigantic wall of text that barely passes for a normal paragraph) using both hands at once I'm quoting it just for others to share in my sheer horror (emphasis mine, and oh, do I emphasize! [Bracketed step numbering like so] is also mine.):

Step 1: Enter Safe Mode

[in which I've scraped out two paragraphs of useless fluff you can google which has absolutely nothing to do with how to actually boot into Safe Mode]

Sadly, Microsoft has turned the process of booting into safe mode from a relatively easy process in Windows 7 and Windows 8 to one that is decidedly more complicated in Windows 10. [1] To boot into Windows Safe Mode, first click the Start Button in Windows 10 and select the Power button as if you were going to reboot, but don’t click anything. [2] Next hold down the Shift key and click Reboot. [3] When the full-screen menu appears, select Troubleshooting, then Advanced Options, then Startup Settings. [4] On the next window click the Restart button and wait for the next screen to appear [5] (just stick with us here, we know this is long) [ed. note: NO, really?]. [6] Next you will see a menu with numbered startup options; select number 4, which is Safe Mode [ed. note: Finally, yay! Oh, but wait...-->] . [7] Note that if you want to connect to any online scanners you’ll need to select option 5, which is Safe Mode with Networking.

Dear God.


My way, or the highway

Type "safe" into Cortana. Click on the first result; on the next screen hit the Restart Now button. After restarting, click Troubleshoot, then Advanced Options, then Startup Settings; on the next screen hit the Restart now button.

*drops mic forever* (this came in many words under PCWorld's version even once I had to edit shortly after posting for leaving most of the steps out*)


I could make my version even shorter, but it'd just be nitpicking.

Bold is used in my how-to to help the eye track better, so you stay more focused. And if your steps involve a computer re-start at any point, like these ones did? You need to ask your readers to bookmark the instruction page so they can find it again.

The thing is, if you're gearing words toward the computer-learning, don't use lots of words. You need a clear, short, simple, easy-to-follow framework, preferably in list form if it takes more than 2-3 steps. I struggled with just this issue in learning to write how-tos, and still feel some of them should be even shorter/more concise than they are.

Computer users often know what to look up if they don't understand why they're doing something, so simply tell them how and let them figure out "why" in Google or by asking you or others. You can also explain "why" before you start the actual how-to, but somehow separate it from the actual instructions to help minimize confusion.

And if there are multiple ways to do something, show the simplest way possible. Make it look easy; make it seem like fun! Or they'll never want to follow your steps again. Even I got a headache trying to envision how to perform all of PCWorld's steps: knowing the most complicated way to do something is far from knowing the one way that makes you look l33t even if you have no idea what you just did.

And I'm hoping no one says, "But what about people who disable Cortana?" Can't be done, for one thing. Even if people choose to keep Cortana "hidden", there are still easier ways; for instance, the latest version of Win 10 Pro allows you to find Safe Mode by looking in the taskbar tray for All Settings; from there just go to Updates & Security-->Recovery-->Advanced Startup and hit Restart now, then click Troubleshoot-->Advanced Options-->Startup Settings and hit the Restart button. That's it - for real.

*last paragraph also left steps out; now fixed

marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

Which, before I get started, reminds me *glances at title*...I have two problems with writing - besides, of course, the inability to proofread my own writing as objectively as I proofread in general, and a style so elastic that 10 years of online writing hasn't narrowed it down to anything in particular (but in truth, there are at least two major styles I display; one's very hard to use because I never use it, so it gives me a headache like the one I have right now; the other's conversational and therefore almost too easy to use; I don't like either) - commas and where they should go, and when to use 'that' or 'which'. And yes, I know the Internet's a thing I can use to look up the answers, but my mind riots against commas and wants to switch up when I use 'that' for 'which' with wild abandon and I'm getting so tired of fighting it.


  • The kittens need to be re-weighed for their next round of Activyl because the doses come in two sizes: over or under nine pounds. They were in the 6-7lb range a month ago but kittens do strange things, like grow, that I have to take into account in order to not under or overdose them.
  • The kittens completed their third round of dewormer two days ago. Never saw a worm again after the lone worm I reported before their first dose.
  • Tab-tab tried to reproduce with Pip the other day. They're boys, so I take it it's time to look into the removal of that which produces the need to reproduce. Income's been too low lately to consider it.
  • Roof's still not fixed. I was actually glad the due date of last week came and went because it was supposed to get fixed just before Matthew was to hit, so I figured the roof would get fixed, fly off or get broken by the trees in the next storm, then have to be fixed again. Spare me my rich landlord's crying about having to fix the damn roof twice. At least if it ever does get fixed, we're getting a new roof, end to end. No more leaking in my bed every freakin' time it rains. Yay-ah.
  • Comcast lied about giving me most of the credits discussed in this post. It's not that I never got them - I saw evidence of at least two: one under "My Account" on their website and one in an email confirmation, but the first $75 credit I saw was apparently rescinded by an auditor before it could be applied to my next bill, and the next $75 credit never showed up. While I had $50 credited by them last week to partially make up for one missing credit, I agreed to another $75 to settle up, but still haven't seen it, despite more promises made by an escalation agent than I can even count. Hours lost toward trying to get credits promised, both in person at the local office and on the phone: at least five. Years off my life over the stress of fighting with Comcast for the better part of three years over so much stupid shit: at least five. I've been in bad relationships with actual people that were easier to endure and ultimately to just get the hell away from than Comcast is.
  • I need to do more online surveys and start selling on eBay again. I put off doing eBay over the storm last month and haven't looked back and can kind of understand my trepidation over it now: I'm afraid another storm will hit and I won't be able to ship items on time because of it. Things like that terrify me because I want my customers really happy.
  • I need to roll my phone back toWin8, though it kills the battery to run Win8. 11-3-16: done, about a week later. Everything's fine except the battery. Pictures won't sync from Win10 Mobile to OneDrive. I can log onto onedrive.com and nothing on the phone now is there, which gives me the most fragmented mess of pictures I've had since before I owned smartphones. I have to manually import the pictures now but sometimes the laptop won't recognize my phone as something that can have a picture on it, another bug I can't contemplate without flailing, so it won't find anything to import and why, Microsoft, why do you make our lives such living hell.
  • The Dell got a new keyboard. Unlike my laptop's replacement keyboard, it's a genuine part and works flawlessly. I wish I had it that easy on my HP - but, fwiw, the seller's refunded 75% of the purchase price, so ultimately I only paid $5 for it.
marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

Other Person has gotten the Dell laptop working again. The "i" and "z" keys sometimes stick or die and yesterday, of all things, the apostrophe quit so I had to copy one out of a Google search for "apostrophe", because I'm really nothing without contractions. Today the apostrophe's fine and after I sat my index finger on the "i" for a few minutes it sprang to life, as well. The rest of the keyboard seems up to speed and the laptop no longer freezes.

I didn't pay attention to what he did to fix it because I was on his tablet, because my tablet keeps freezing up now, too, but from glancing at him now and then I gather it involved taking the laptop apart, blowing some things out, re-seating other things, re-assembling it, and perhaps the chanting of incantations. The Dell cost me nothing, I've already fixed it once, and I would've tossed it rather than gone through what he did, but I'm kind of glad now that he bothered. My blog looks pretty good on it (better than it does on our tablets - those turn the page gutters an ugly dark tan color that I wouldn't have picked myself).

My replacement laptop keyboard's due here by the end of the week, but I'm worried about it being a crapshoot, so I'm keeping the packaging and will re-seal it like new to turn around and re-sell ASAP if it doesn't work out. The thing is, since the storm, my existing keyboard's bent toward the top middle, so I'm thinking it's because something under the bent part corresponding to the motherboard overheated and warped, in which case no keyboard (except an external) might ever work again.

If it does turn out to be useless, I'll need a new external keyboard because the one I'm using now has multiple dead keys, just like the laptop. The dead keys on the external aren't dead on the laptop so I've just been using both of them at once. I wish y'all could see this - I'm like a DJ working keyboards instead of turntables, which is sort of amusing.

We've lost power four times since the storm, for anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. Last night was for a few minutes, a few days before it was for a few hours, there was a quickie the night before that, and it was out a few hours the weekend before last. Every time we've lost power since the storm Comcast's cable modem has totally wigged out. It's always been slow - it takes a good five minutes to reboot, find its own ass, feel everything out and start pumping signal again, but since the storm you can add "find its own signal" to the list of things it takes too long to do. It has to reboot multiple times to finally stop claiming our signal's broadcasting when, in fact, it's not.

What sucks is that to our phones and computers the signal looks like it's broadcasting, and when you connect it doesn't show a yellow triangle to denote limited connection issues. But when you try to get online you can't, and when you check the network list it shows a full signal but then says next to that, "No internet", in classic, "Oh, NOW you tell me" fashion. So we waste a) five minutes waiting for the modem to reboot and decide it can do this, b) another five minutes for it to realize it can't do this and is totally lying, and c) another 5-15 minutes for multiple reboots to take place to finally push the signal back to life again.

I'm pretty sure it's a surge victim, though it was on surge protector - but there's nothing the storm didn't seem to touch - so we're planning a trip to our local Comcast office soon to get another modem so big I'll need both arms to carry it out. I'm going to hate having to swap these things out every time there's a storm.

To finish what I started the night the storm hit, I installed the latest build of Windows 10 on my now-collector's-item Nokia about five days ago. My phone restarted to install updates required to get Win10 (one tree had hit the house by then; the second tree was about to) just as the lights went out. My phone only installs updates over wifi, which didn't exist for another 14 days, so once wifi came back the phone automatically picked up where it left off.

I had to use the WinInsider app as a workaround against Microsoft's official app, which blocks my phone from getting Win10 because it's not recommended on phones with only a half gig of RAM. It's running great on my half gig, though. It's opening and resuming windows, menus, browsers and the app list faster than Win8.1 did and looks jazzier, too. The worst problems are with Edge windows - they tend to crash as much as Internet Explorer windows do on 8.1 - and with the native email app, which opens with the keyboard displayed every single time. I can't figure out why the email app thinks it's the messenger, but one press of the back button makes it go away, so it's more "annoyance" than fatal flaw.

Battery life, once the primary dealbreaker on Win10, is actually better now than it is on 8.1, so if you're an 8.1 user with just a half gig of RAM it might pay to go the WinInsider route and switch to Win10 to preserve battery life, but no, I never said that, EULAs be damned. It's helped my battery - a lot. On 8.1 I had to keep screen brightness on "low" to get the battery to last more than a few hours, which made the screen really, really hard to see because my eyes, as we know, are not the greatest. On Win10 I can get 12+ hours on a single charge with brightness set to "high", which means it would last even longer on a lower setting (there's a "medium", too).

I mostly upgraded to Win10 to use my bank's official app, which isn't available on Win8/8.1, but the one thing I wanted it for - to deposit checks, which I get a fair amount of each month - isn't working. It tells me it took pictures of the checks successfully, then says it can't read them, and gives me tips on how to take the pictures so they come out better. Reading through the tips, I can see I've done exactly what they suggest, yet the app still fails to read my checks.

The worst thing about Win10 Mobile is the News app. I don't know if I've discussed it before, but I've been addicted to it on Win8/8.1 for years. It shows lists of headlines with a tiny thumbnail next to each one. You click an item and it opens full page with larger pictures, which, if you click on those, can be pinched and swiped from full-size (like the actual size they were published at, which can sometimes be huge) back down to article size. If you swipe left you get thumbnails of all the pictures in the article, and you can swipe through those without the accompanying text, or cycle through them with accompanying text, one picture at a time.

It's the greatest app for looking at pictures, but it's MIA in Win10. You can't change picture sizes anymore - the medium-ish thumbnails found in the articles are completely WYSIWYG, which results in a loss of context because pictures are so often essential to understanding what's going on.

The other thing missing in Win10 News is the entire list of headlines. Now there's huuuuuuuge thumbnails and huuuuuge titles with loooong blurbs, so you have to scroll and scroll and scroll to see even a tiny bit of what's going on. I liked the cleaner, simpler, and for lack of a better example, Drudge Report-style lists (they're much nicer/calmer-looking than TDR, but otherwise it's the same idea) and the fact that the lists were truncated at 3-5 items per topic with no blurbs (you click on a topic name to see the full list of headlines on one page).

There's no truncation in Win10 now, just endless scrolling. It's highly inefficient, and totally breaks my reading flow.

It's gone from:

WORLD

This item
This item
This item

To:

World

This item

*huge thumbnail here*

Blah blah blah blah blah
blah blah blah blah
Blah blah blah blah blah
blah blah blah blah...

This item

*huge thumbnail here*

Blah blah blah blah blah
blah blah blah blah
Blah blah blah blah blah
blah blah blah blah...

This item

*huge thumbnail here*

Blah blah blah blah blah
blah blah blah blah
Blah blah blah blah blah
blah blah blah blah...

And you can just rinse and repeat forever. It's awful.

marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

Tested/works with clean-installed Windows 10 Pro Anniversary Update (Build 14393). Untested in other varieties and combinations; untested on Windows Insider preview builds.

  • Open Microsoft Edge (the blue "e" with the funny mohawk on your taskbar)
  • Click the menu icon (the three little dark or light dots, depending on whether you use Edge with a light or dark theme) located to the right of your web address/search bar
  • Scroll to the bottom and click Settings; this will open a new menu
  • Scroll to bottom of this menu and click View Advanced Settings; this will open another menu
  • Scroll this menu until you see the words Optimize taskbar web search results for screenreaders. Click the slider to On.

I don't know why anyone would want to use IE, but my Google searches indicate some people want to. Other people, conversely, are having trouble figuring out why Cortana is using IE11 instead of Edge, so checking (and, if needed, unchecking) this particular setting may solve it for them. Nothing else does - not Windows 10 in-place upgrades, Cortana reinstalls, nor any other steps I've seen mentioned.

Microsoft did a weird thing back in April or May; they decided you can set your default browser to whatever you want, so say, you can still set it to Google Chrome or Firefox, but web searches (regardless of which search engine you choose as your default) can no longer be diverted to any browser but Edge - and will no longer use any search engine but Bing. (To be clear: web addresses typed into Cortana - for example: https://aol.com - will open in any browser you set as your default, but web searches can only be opened in Edge - which now uses nothing but Bing to complete the search you began from Cortana.)

Well, the screenreader setting above actually hacks this prohibition to pieces (web addresses open happily in IE11, but web searches still open in Edge) so now I'm wondering how to duplicate it only to divert web searches to Firefox.

It's probably some stupid-easy thing. Almost everything in Windows is. I actually found a file with Cortana's URL parameters set to Bing (there are probably many more like it, and it was an XUL file, so probably not the right one to be working on), opened it in Notepad++ and started editing, but upon trying to save changes discovered Windows file protection on Cortana, which led to error messages (Notepad asking if I'd like to run as admin, then telling me to check the file wasn't open in another program - of course it wasn't) only to discover disabling Spot Verifier in services.msc doesn't free up the file and global file protection cannot be turned off.

By then it was almost 4 in the morning and, like, I've got things to do, but if I ever get back to it I'll probably figure it out in Safe Mode (yep, that's right, Windows: heeeeeeere's Johnny!!!) or else figure out that it's probably not...figure-outable...I have a feeling the end result will be a bit of both: I'll figure out exactly what to do, then be unable to do it because getting around file protection will simply short-circuit Cortana, or whatever.

*Upon further inspection I find typed-in web addresses still open in your default browser, so this works for redirecting web searches only.

marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

ETA: Mostly a false alarm. While this really did happen, I can't make it happen again. More-informative-than-this ETAs are at the end of this post.


If there's no Internet connection Cortana does not do a thing. She won't open a command prompt, find a file, open an app or a folder or even run the command rstrui (which was how I discovered the issue!).

Does Cortana really need an Internet connection to find an app or run a command or open a folder or find my copy of CCleaner? No, she doesn't. She needs an Internet connection to send back what I type into her search box to Microsoft's servers.

I already had Cortana's Notebook, tips and suggestions and web searches disabled when this happened so I can rule out anything but Microsoft sends back what you type in - unless they can't because you're offline, then they simply disable Cortana altogether. This is no doubt by design. If you already have Cortana's web search disabled then they don't need an Internet connection for you to be able to type in 'cmd'. They simply want one.

I guess them disabling Cortana if I go offline keeps me from doing all the superseekret searches I like to do for, you know, "cmd", "rstrui" and yeah, even the filthy "regedit" (I know, I know, *shhhh*...) that they won't get to record unless I have a connection available for them to zip it right back to their servers with.


ETA1, next night: OK, so I made sort of a cart blanche assumption before I wrote this that with the internet connection disabled, Cortana simply will not work. Because, obviously, she didn't. Backstory...because this does get kind of interesting...

It was while installing a new copy of Windows 10 onto another computer (not recently red and teal-screened ASAP, which I'm actually typing this up on) that Cortana became completely dysfunctional. I was putting the finishing touches on, updating a few drivers from within Device Manager when, after a restart to finish installing some of them, the wifi adapter deleted itself (and a conflict between an Intel driver and a touch driver caused me to have to hook up an external mouse. Boy, was this fun.) So that's how I came to have no internet connection.

With all the driver conflicts and a self-deleting wifi adapter, I needed to do something. So I got on ASAP, downloaded the missing adapter driver onto a flash drive and reinstalled it. It deleted itself again - without ever working for a minute - on the next restart.

Feeling out of options, I started typing "rstrui" (for System Restore) into Cortana, and that's when I discovered she no longer worked (but she'd been working fine before the adapter deleted itself). So that was just putting two and two together and as frustrated as I was with all the issues this computer was having, that was as much as I thought about it before posting.

Before I did, I got into System Restore via an alternative method, rolled the system back to a time I knew the adapter was working (luckily I'd set a custom restore point because drivers are notoriously tricky), disabled the Intel driver that conflicted with the touch driver, which I uninstalled, and with a few more restarts these problems were solved.

After sleeping on it, I decided I'd try replicating Cortana's dysfunction on that computer on ASAP, my laptop. Only to find I couldn't. Disabling the wifi adapter manually, Cortana still worked. After a restart with the adapter still disabled, Cortana still worked. So, keeping the adapter disabled, I deleted it from within Device Manager, thinking I could use a previous restore point to bring it back after my test was done. Well, no need for that. Upon a restart, the adapter - without any Internet connection that I'm aware of, since after all I'd disabled it before the restart - reinstalled itself. I replicated this result twice, the second time after fully shutting the laptop down and letting it cool a bit before restarting. The wifi adapter simply reinstalled itself once again (and turned itself back on, changing the "disabled" setting I'd chosen for it without any input from me).

At this point I don't know what to think, but I'm suspecting versioning differences might explain the results. That is, Windows versioning. The build I installed on the other computer was a normal, non-Insider copy of activated Win 10 Pro and whatever "version" of Cortana that comes with that. The build ASAP is running is an Insider Preview, build 14328. The non-Insider and Insider versions of these operating systems have two different versions of Cortana with different menus, settings, and interface functionality, and I'm thinking with the version that appears on a non-Insider, regular copy of Windows 10, a deleted and unrecoverable wifi adapter might indeed disable Cortana because that version is not designed to recover from such an error, ie, to reinstall the adapter even after you've removed it.

I'm also curious to know how the adapter gets reinstalled between restarts on the Insider build - if Windows is indeed incapable of connecting to the internet because I disabled the adapter before restart or shutdown, then it must be rescuing the driver files itself and just re-installing them before the next restart. Which, I mean, did I give it permission to do that? No. Maybe I never want a wifi adapter again. How does MS get to decide this for me?

I'm completely wigged out by my inability to delete the wifi adapter on my Insider build, and curious if the stable release of Windows 10 normally allows the adapter to be deleted without trying to reinstall it between restarts or not. Last night the answer to that question was definitely "or not" but that was under such a weird set of circumstances - an adapter that deleted itself twice at the same time other driver conflicts were occurring - that upon reflection I don't want to try to form a solid conclusion from that alone.

Maybe I'll bring entry tags back just to mark things like this "needs further testing" - this is something I definitely want to dive into again soon. Next I'll want to try physically pulling out the wifi card with the Insider build and see what happens. It can reinstall the wifi driver all it wants, but the wifi still will not - cannot - work, so does Cortana stop working then?


ETA2, 5-21: while it was an exciting thought, I'll have to call this a one-off for now. I cannot, no matter what I do, including disabling wifi adapters and cards and physically removing them from whatever computer I'm on, replicate what happened the night I wrote this. Just ain't happening. At this point I'd be willing to guess multiple driver conflicts might have caused Cortana to basically short circuit herself, though even that seems highly unlikely. I'm just lost.