Fixing Windows Hello PINs not working after a BIOS update

This weekend I updated my Lenovo Yoga Book’s BIOS to fix some sleep issues with the device. This BIOS update came through Lenovo’s website, along with some driver updates, and not through Windows Update.

After I updated I realized two things about changing the BIOS out from under Windows 10:

  1. Bitlocker will lock your device on reboot because it thinks something deep within the hardware has changed, and that is true. Make sure you have a Bitlocker key handy. This can be generated from the Settings or is tied into your Microsoft Account (so you can access it via a phone or another device). You can get that here: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=237614
  2. The Windows Hello PIN won’t work anymore. Try as I might, I kept getting an error with no error code identifiable online. Removing and re-adding the PIN threw me into a “Something went wrong” loop.

The solution to this was pretty easy and I’m writing it here to help anyone else in the future:

  1. Go to Settings > Accounts > Switch my account to a local account. Don’t worry, it won’t delete anything or change much.
  2. Go back and select “Sign in with a Microsoft Account” again. This switch from online to local or local to online and back again flips whatever’s needed in the security key and PIN settings to clear it up.

Once I did that it worked great. And the BIOS update from Lenovo is about two versions ahead of what’s in Windows Update. It fixes Yoga Book sleep issues where it requires a force reboot to load after hibernating. WiFi driver helps speed it up, too.

Mike Pence is not “Indiana nice”

I’ve always heard this claim about the Midwest being “Midwest nice.” More locally, “Hoosier hospitality” and “Indiana nice” might as well be on our license plates. But then a guy like Mike Pence comes along, and he’s just not a very nice man. He seems downright mean.

My grandmother used to say some people “had a lot of meanness in ‘em.” No one was safe from her scorn – Democrat, Republican, young, old, didn’t matter. Her litmus test seemed to be if you caused someone harm, damage, or were otherwise uncouth, you were mean. I feel the same way about Mike Pence. More broadly, it’s starting to feel that way about the entire Republican party.

When Pence was still Governor, I began to realize why a generation of people had begun to shift to the left and continue to stay there: everyone in my generation was taught more than any other to “just be nice to people.” I can’t prove it, but I’d bet 50% of Indiana’s brain drain problem is directly related to the politics of our State House. I’m not even talking about bag bans and Tesla sales. I’m talking about all the social cruft that strikes an entire generation as somehow mean, like a bully.

The Republicans aren’t doing a superb job of framing their agenda as “being nice.” And when someone isn’t “nice,” they’re probably being “mean,” and that’s very off-putting. The Democrats may just be better at hiding their meanness because the government can certainly be a bully to a lot of people the more it expands.

“Justin, this is ridiculous. Just because a bunch of sissy millennials can’t handle some toughness is no reason to coddle them,” you might say. If you did say that I would say you just proved my point by being a dick.

It doesn’t make a generation of people weak to be nice. It just means we don’t see a reason to push large groups of individuals away. Pence’s, and now Trump’s, Muslim ban, the wall, Sessions, the Supreme Court nominees, etc. are all just mean dick moves. Their downsides are worse than the potential purported benefit.

Don’t get me wrong – everyone’s kind of a dick some of the time. Left-leaning folks love shows like The Daily Show and Full Frontal precisely because they’re mean. They poke at people in a way that you’d never do to someone’s face. Bill Maher is mean. Sean Hannity and others on the right are mean.

Pence, and certainly Trump, come across as that kind of person. A sort of faux-niceness that’s him just pushing people in ways they don’t want to be. That is against the grain of what it means to be “Indiana nice” where we stay out of the way, help when people ask, and kindly say hello and smile when interacting with others.

As an aside, I find anyone who blindly supports a specific party, votes straight ticket, doesn’t question everyone and everything, and anyone who lacks some level of empathy to be psychopathic. That can’t be healthy. In what other endeavor do we do that? Do you only drink one beer? Do you only ever always and forever buy one brand of batteries or toilet paper?

I can support a lot of reform efforts that Democrats largely don’t like. I can get behind a lot of issues that Republicans generally don’t like. And I can feel at home with a good chunk of the Libertarian party because they’re increasingly just, “Leave people alone, and be nice.”

Don’t be mean. Leave people alone when they want to be left alone. Be Indiana nice.

The Misery Index

When I first started my business in 2009 I had a working theory of why I’d be successful, at least as far into the future as I could predict: no one else will be willing to live like I do to beat me on price.

Other web professionals seemed almost decadent in their desire for the usual working wage. I, however, was not. I thought the market was clearly trending toward a world where web developers were overpriced. Graphic designers could maybe hold out a little while longer because “good taste” can’t easily be transferred to software or services. But most people don’t care. So neither should I.

Where everyone else had to meet payroll, student loan payments, car payments, credit cards, and had a desire to go out and pay for restaurants, drinks, and vacations, I had none of that. I still don’t. I make more money than I did 6 or 7 years ago, sure, but my prices are still lower for what we provide. My conservative estimate is we under-charge by about 60-80%.

I began to think of it as a “misery index”. That guy in Avon re-selling templates dirt cheap to customers won’t last because he’ll eventually have a kid. He did and left the business. That guy in Carmel I met at the networking event selling overseas labor for cheap won’t last because he lives in Carmel and will clearly want nice things, like a fancy car. He posted a photo of his Lexus online and left the business about a year later. That developer I see online from time to time in Greenwood won’t last because he’s over-extended on his house. I know how much he charges and how much that mortgage costs. He didn’t last and eventually took a full-time job after the IRS caught up to him.

Instead, there I was (and still am) the one who doesn’t go on vacations. I use the library. I ride a bike in the winter and take the bus in the rain. When I lived alone I ate half a tuna sandwich for lunch and the other half for dinner. I never did student loans, opting to quit when I realized the price was too high. I don’t buy much over $100. I’ve never purchased an alcoholic drink at a restaurant in my life because of the cost. I bought a lousy house in a do-nothing part of town because that’s what I could afford (and am hoping it will help me make rental income when it’s paid off). In total, I could live on $700 a month in income.

I could outlast a lot of people over the years simply because “I can be more miserable, for longer, than the other person.”

And I was a miserable person because of it. Internally I hated everything. I literally kept working almost out of spite just to prove myself right to only myself.

Obviously, everyone’s experiences are highly subjective and vary wildly. I’m not exactly a cancer-stricken drug mule in Somalia. Don’t overthink this. Everyone forms opinions based on experiences.

Today marks 15 years since my mother died. That’s framed a lot of my opinions on things. But I’ve also come to realize my opinions on most things aren’t worth sharing because my life has had to be hyper-realistic. It literally makes people uncomfortable.

“Oh please, that’s impossible, Justin.”

If you ask me whether people deserve health insurance or not, I skew straight to the notion that most people aren’t that important. I could die right now and it wouldn’t matter at all to the world. A few people would mind for a short while (I imagine). Thus, the only sensible solution is that frequently people will just die and everyone else will move on.

See. Now you’re uncomfortable.

I keep the possibility of being “friends” with most people at a safe distance because I assume they’ll move (far) away and we’ll never see each other again. You laugh at that, but it’s happened too many times with my closest friends. I’ll just let people stay as casual acquaintances. It keeps the misery index consistent.

I saw a tweet the other day that kids on SNAP (food stamps) deserve to have popsicles just as much as any other kid. “No they don’t,” I thought. “They should get used to never having nice things now. It’ll prepare them for life.” People always want things. I’d like a swimming pool. I don’t get to have one. You may think that’s an apples and oranges comparison, but what difference does it really make? Because one’s cheaper to you than the other?

Now you’re even more uncomfortable.

This is because so many messages tell us we can change, we can do anything, we can have whatever we set our mind to. No you cannot. Deep down, we all know that’s not true. Not everyone gets a fancy car or a nice childhood or their favorite spot at the table. Deplorable things will happen. If it knocks you too far off a high point your misery index won’t be able to handle the change.

Not everyone can just “change their mindset”, either. Because if that were true you’d just tell depressed people to change their mind. That shallow trope never imagines that science might show chemical imbalances that are nearly impossible to diagnose, treat, or correct. Sometimes, things just are.

Your disagreement to this is fine. It also doesn’t matter. Your life experiences were just different. Like the the amount of water in a small well, your misery index is set at a different level.

Indianapolis landscapers should be considered hellscapers.

The funny thing about Indianapolis is how you can bump into people in ways like you might think of in a small town. I guess it’s not impossible a person in Chicago or New York might randomly see someone around town in the course of a day’s errands. But I think it happens more here.

To give you an example I met a guy for coffee one afternoon. I can’t even remember where or why I extended the invitation, but it was probably Facebook. After seeing this guy’s name in a few circles about some website work I figured it was worth a chat. I make it my business to know people in my business.

We meet for bad coffee and service at Mo Joe’s and we talk about the usual niceties. He’s from El Paso, Texas. Works for a local shop that makes websites for high end service groups. In both cases he’s simultaneously more southern and more webby than me. Which is annoying.

Before we go he mentions his boyfriend was at the table right behind me the whole time. Not coincidentally, of course, but we took a few moments to talk about his work. Turns out he’s interested in freelance architecture design that’s more approachable and affordable for average people.

We part ways and a few weeks later my ash tree in the front lawn dies. Those two facts aren’t related, but I also have no proof they aren’t.

And in the funny way Indianapolis ticks, I saw these two guys a couple more times. Once on my bike on the way home. Then again twice in one weekend at two distinctly different places miles apart from each other.

The whole time my ash tree continued its slow death slide into being a literal stick in the ground.

In pursuit of finding a guy to cut down and replace the tree I discovered that the people who cut down trees aren’t the people who put them in the ground. Those seem like obvious lateral business moves to me, but I’m not a lumberjack or a landscaper.

After finding a bunch of quotes from landscapers and tree removers in the range of $500-$1000, these were all far higher than I valued such a service. So applying a process I call “encouraging people to do it for less”, I managed to get a guy to do it for $375. Henson’s Landscaping did a fine job of chopping down the tree and grinding out the stump. I just wish I could have gotten them to give me ideas on the “landscaping” part of their name. But they never returned my call. Like about a dozen other places in town. It was starting to become a vast hellscape of broken promises. I wasn’t indicating anything other than “I have a house. I’d like some landscaping.”

So I turn to calling all kinds of places for quotes on landscaping. All the ones that showed up in trucks with logos on them were immediately out of the running. Too pricey with too much overhead. I know how much guys like me cost, and someone has to pay that logo designer.

And in step with Indianapolis’ modus operandi, these two guys I met for coffee popped in my head. “I bet they know people who know things about trees.”

Turns out they know things about trees. Joey Ponce and Brian Burtch, both operating under the banner of “City in Green” came out to the house and gave me 100% more than at least a dozen other places around here would: in that they actually came to the house and gave me a quote. No other landscaper seemed to bother giving me the quote or showing up when scheduled. Brian’s a licensed architect with his firm NEON Architecture, so the quote even had schematics of my house and property lot. Which was both helpful and creepy.

I like hiring people who operate at small scale. They care more and are way more affordable, but are the hardest to find. I got lucky bumping into these guys.

Brian and Joey gave me an estimate, they stuck to it, and we were able to split things into phases to meet the seasons and my budget. This weekend they came out and replaced the death hole in my front lawn with three new trees. A red maple, dogwood, and eastern redbud. They’ll grow quickly, look good, and they’re not ash trees, so they stand a solid chance of not being eaten alive by supper.

City in Green's first project

Next spring we’ll throw down phase two: a mulch bed off the front of the house with native grasses and plants. And by “we” I mean them while I stand around remembering how much I don’t like to be dirty and Jeremiah makes dinner.

As it turns out this was their first landscaping project. You should be their second. Because this is how Indianapolis works and and stays looking nice.

Dogs

The one thing I miss the most about living on the northwest side of Indianapolis is the close proximity to the Indianapolis Humane Society. For the year I lived up that way I’d routinely volunteer my time with the dogs. Jeremiah would donate some of his time to sitting with the cats. As you can imagine, the dogs are way more fun.

I’d help people check out the dogs, take them out for walks, introduce people to the kinds of dogs they might be describing an interest in (“small”, “short hair”, and “good with kids” was always top of the list). It was always great walking a dog up to the adoption desks with a family.

Here at the house we’re clear on the other side of town and closer to Indianapolis Animal Care than the Humane Society. But Animal Care might as well be on the moon with its clumsy location behind the trash incinerator, the electrical plant, and miles of industrial parks. So I don’t really get to volunteer anywhere now.

Jeremiah and I adopted Ares at Indianapolis Animal Care. He was marked with a relatively lackluster tag that said “Seems friendly, tail wags a lot. Stray, found: Washington and Lynhurst”. He had only been there for a couple weeks.

If you’ve never been to Indianapolis Animal Care, it can be reasonably described as the saddest place in Indianapolis.

The staff there is great. They have volunteers, but nowhere near the army the Humane Society or other shelters have, mostly because of their obscure location. The facilities are adequate. I wouldn’t call them dilapidated or embarrassing like I would IMPD Mounted Patrol’s horse facilities.

The sadness comes from the sheer lack of energy from so many of the dogs. Normally you’d walk through a room full of dogs in kennels and you’d expect them to stand up, jump around, walk, bark, or otherwise be interested in you. Not at Indianapolis Animal Care. Many of them didn’t even turn their head, let alone stand up. Some had been there for months. Because IAC is the tax-funded shelter of first and often last resort, with no ability to turn away anyone or any animal like other shelters, there’s an invisible death clock hanging over the place. They do a good job of working with other no-kill shelters in the state when that deathclock nears midnight, but there’s only so much space.

They routinely divide the open shelter area into two chunks. “Dogs with contagious kennel cough off the left. Those without on the right.” This is about like taking an elementary school classroom and having kids with the flu on the left and the kids without on the right. You can imagine how well that would work.

So when anyone asks me, “Where should I get a dog?” I can’t speak forcefully enough that the answer is: “Anywhere, but you should go to IAC.” Even if you live in a surrounding county, pay the extra few dollars to adopt from IAC.

We’ve had Ares for a couple years now. This weekend as Jeremiah was plucking things out of his garden, another dog wandered up. No tags, looking very thin, and in need of flea treatments and a bath, he seemed to take quickly to Ares in the driveway.

Now we seem to have another dog. We’ve done due diligence in reporting him on Nextdoor and IndyLostPetAlert.com. We had him checked for chips. Sunday was spent at FACE – another place that’s doing more good than you could ever hope to report – to get him checked out.

I didn’t particularly want another dog. But there are just two options and one of them is taking him to IAC. He’d likely get adopted given his size and demeanor. But Indiana rarely ranks high on any “good” list of anything. This is no exception. 125,000 animals a year end up in shelters in Indiana, not even counting rural areas where people just do whatever with who knows what. 40% per are euthanized. 8,000 animals a year are put down in Marion County alone. Interestingly, of all the things we can’t get legislators to agree on, we got one: House Bill 1201 was signed by the Governor this year, requiring all dogs and cats to be spayed or neutered statewide. We’re 30th to do so.  It passed unanimously. Of course, those laws rarely work anyway.

Apparently if you find a dog in Indianapolis, you have to turn it into Animal Care. It’s up to them what happens next. This makes the libertarian side of me vibrate as it assumes no one could possibly do something better and cheaper like just taking care of it.

So you can see my dilemma here. And why there’s now a dog that likes to sleep under the blankets, enjoys chicken, bounces up and down when you walk into a room, and lazily sunbathes around the house.

I guess we need a name. Any suggestions?

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