Disable onscreen keyboard in Windows 8.1

Windows 8.1 thinks that my laptop has a touch screen and therefor deems it necessary to display a little keyboard icon on my task bar, with which I can summon an onscreen keyboard.

Unfortunately, neither does my laptop in fact have a touch screen nor am I interested at all in using that idiotic onscreen keyboard.

So, how does one get rid of that icon? After searching the Interwebs I’m convinced that as of writing, there is no practical solution available. The only way to get rid of the icon (which is a toolbar, by the way), is to disallow any and all toolbars on the task bar.

While not everyone may be pleased with this solution, I’m fine with that. So without further ado, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Start Registry Editor (regedit.exe)
  2. Navigate to: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer
  3. Add a new 32-bit DWORD key named “NoToolbarsOnTaskbar” and give it the value of “1”
  4. Log out and log back in

Now the little booger will stay away (along with any and all other toolbars you might have had enabled).

Via Permanently remove Touch Keyboard toolbar from taskbar?

VPN Troubles

Recently I experienced a new kind of problem with Windows 8.1 on my laptop. I was unable to connect to my VPN-server at home. It turned out this was caused by a device missing.

The moment I would try to connect via VPN, Windows would try to comply, but fail in the end with some error message.

Before trying to connect via VPN, there would be no problematic devices listed in Hardware Manager. But afterwards, several miniport devices would be listed as such. Generally it was reported that the required drivers could not be loaded.

Investigation lead me to the Microsoft Support Forum:

  1. In Device Manager, right-click on the non-working miniport, choose Update Driver.
  2. Choose Browse my computer.
  3. In the next window, choose Let me pick driver from a list.
  4. Uncheck Show compatible hardware. From the Manufacturer list, choose Microsoft, and from the Network Adapter list, choose Bluetooth Device (Personal Area Network). (It can be any device the user is allowed to uninstall.)
  5. Back in the device manager, delete the device that just turned into a Bluetooth Device (Personal Area Network).
  6. Reboot.
  7. Delete your VPN information and then enter it again.

(repeat for all problematic miniport devices)

This solved things for me.

Crash in Wermgr.exe

Although I’m overall still very happy with my laptop (MSI GT 70), there are in fact minor annoyances that keep popping up. One of them is the fact that the Windows Error Reporting application itself (Wermgr.exe) keeps crashing. Most notably after extended idling, during which the screensaver (blank screen) is active. Upon resuming there will be dozens of dialogs reporting something along these lines:

The instruction at 0xf3f3be3e referenced memory at 0xa2dac660. The memory could not be read

Error Dialog for Wermgr.exe

So what to do? Simply disable the Error Reporting Service:

Press the Windows key + R to open a Run box.

Type services.msc

Press Enter.

Scroll down to the Windows Error Reporting service. Double-click it, Stop it and Disable it.

That should help, although you won’t be able to submit error reports abouts crashed applications anymore. Well, that wasn’t working to begin with. As for the origins of this failure? I haven’t got a clue…

Via Wermgr.exe Application Error?

Portal 2 crashes on Windows 8.1

Earlier this year I got myself a new gaming laptop, a sweet MSI GT70-0NE which came with Windows 8. Of course I play games via Steam and recently a friend finally got Portal 2 as well, so that we could start playing together and solve the multiplayer puzzles.

However, from the start I occasionally had some problems with Portal 2. Whenever I would join the multiplayer HUB, the Steam process would crash (simply exit without warning or notice) and thus the game would then just hang. Unfortunately I never really figured out what was wrong because the problem was not really prevalent. Sometimes a quick reboot would solve things.

But, running the game in a window (i.e. not full screen), did seem to improve things and the crashes of Steam have not returned since. You can specify this setting under Options -> Video -> Display Mode in the main menu of the game.

So, last week Windows 8.1 came out and I was eager to install it, because of the small improvements that were made. I first made sure (on another system) that my external hardware devices would continue to work and as that seemed to be the case, I plunged in.

It was only a couple of days later, when I fired up Portal 2 again, when I first noticed that the game would not start anymore. That is, the intro animation of the valve logo would show up and after that the main loading screen appeared. But at that point the Portal 2 process would simply crash and shut down. (“Portal2.exe not responding”)

After doing some research, it seemed that revalidating the game cache might solve the new problem (right click on Portal 2 in Steam, select “Properties”, select “Local Files”, select “Verify integrity of game cache”). So I did that and the result was that one file needed to be re-downloaded. After that was done, the game would indeedstartup again. I’ve been able to play the single player game again and I will be finding out if the multiplayer mode also still works. (i.e. Steam not crashing the moment I enter the multiplayer hub)

Atlas and P-Body decided who goes first

Portal 2