Fixing Internet Explorer 11’s Blurry Font issue

This issue started with my first subscription to The Wall Street Journal.  I noticed that when I viewed web pages at www.wsj.com, the fonts always seemed blurry.  Even after adjusting my ClearType settings in Microsoft Windows, the web pages were still not clear.  I even tried switching to a different browser, Google’s Chrome, but the issue was still the same.  I think I’ve found a solution that I want to share with you. 

As a reference point, the computer that I’m using is a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 using Windows 8.1.  Internet Explorer 11 is Version 11.0.9600.17728 Update Versions: 11.0.18 (KB3038314).  I used OneNote’s screen clipping feature to capture website images and Microsoft Paint to mark the web pages.

Problem

Below is an image of what I saw on IE11.  The red boxes show examples of blurry text that I’m referring to – you can probably find more but I’ll just limit it to these. 

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There appears to be gray shading on the edges of letters and they seem to be more pronounced with uppercase letters and the letters on the titles of each article.

Here is a close-up of some text using Microsoft Paint zooming in at 200%.

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There is just too much gray in the letters’ edges which leads to blurry fonts.

When I tried using Internet Explorer’s options to change fonts and ignoring font styles specified on webpages it, unexpectedly, affected Microsoft’s News App and Microsoft’s Health & Fitness App. 

Here is how the News App looks normally.

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Checking the checkbox in Tools->Internet Options->Accessibility->Ignore font styles specified in webpages will fix Internet Explorer font issues but will have side effects.  It causes icons and text to disappear from the News App like so (see the red boxes indicate missing icons).

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Maybe Microsoft has a technical reason for linking Internet Explorer 11’s settings to the News App or the Health & Fitness App, but whatever it is, the result is annoying and just plain wrong.  However, I’m glad to report that there is a fix – albeit lengthy.

Solution

The fix involves the use of a style sheet that changes the font to a size and style that is more readable.  The reason I use a custom style sheet is because it limits the fix to Internet Explorer 11 and does not affect the News App or the Health & Fitness App.

Steps

  • Create a style sheet by opening Notepad and cut-and-pasting the following text into it.

/*
* Save the file with a .css extension
*/

/*
* This next example changes the font size to large.
* It also says please use calibri as my default font.
* the ‘asterisk’ means apply this to the whole page
* the !important declaration should over-ride any values set by the website.
*/
*
    {font: large calibri, calibri !important;}

 

  • Save the file to a location where you can find it again.  Make sure to save the file with a “.css” extension.  For example, I saved the file using the name StyleSheet02.css.
  • In Internet Explorer 11, go to Tools->Internet Options

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  • From within the Internet Options window, left-click on Accessibility

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  • From the Accessibility window, check the box labeled Format documents using my style sheet like so…

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  • Then, left-click on the Browse… button to find the style sheet you created from the first step.
  • After you’ve found your style sheet, left-click on the OK button in the Accessibility window, and left-click on the OK button on the Internet Options window.
  • Exit then re-run Internet Explorer once more.  There should be a difference in the way fonts are rendered.

Result

Again, before the fix…

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The result after the fix

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I’ve basically changed the font style and size to minimize/remove blurriness.

Again, here is an image before the fix…

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Here is an image after the fix, again using Microsoft Paint zooming in at 200%.

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As you can see, at 200% there is still some blurriness in the letters but it has been substantially reduced.

At normal view (without zoom), comparing before..

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.. and after…

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This solution might seem a little complicated, but I think the fix is worth it.  There are probably more settings that could be made to the style sheet to improve the webpage even more but I think this is a good start in understanding what style sheets can do.  I hope you found this article helpful.  Have a nice day.

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How to fix “Failed to initialize connection subsystem” Cisco AnyConnect VPN error messages

I was trying to log into work but had trouble making a VPN connection.  I am using Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client Version 3.1.04066, Windows 8.1 Pro on a Surface Pro 3.  This post describes how to fix the following error messages:

  • Failed to initialize connection subsystem

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The steps to fix this problem are as follows:

1. First make sure you’ve completely exited from the Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client software before proceeding to the next steps.  It is possible that the program is still running in the background.  Take a look at the Taskbar’s notification icons.  It is possible that the Cisco AnyConnect software has been set to “Hide icon and notifications” or “Only show notifications”.  Right click on the clock portion of the Windows Taskbar then left-click on Customize notification icons.

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1.a) A new window will open called Notification Area Icons.  In the graphic below, make sure there is a checkmark on Always show all icons and notifications on the taskbar then left-click on the OK Button.  Note that I have also indicated how the Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client’s icon looks like in a green box.

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1.b) If there is a Cisco AnyConnect icon on the taskbar, right-click on it then select Quit to fully exit the software.  The Cisco AnyConnect icon should disappear from the taskbar.

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2. Search for the Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client application by heading to the Start screen and typing “Cisco AnyConnect”.  Windows will search for the program.

 

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3. Right-click on Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client then left-click on Open File Location to open the directory where the Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client application exists.

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4. Windows will switch to the Desktop and open File Explorer and show where the Cisco AnyConnect program shortcut is located.  In my case, Windows found the program at this location

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5. Next, right-click on the shortcut to the program and select Properties

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6. A Properties window will pop up.  Please do the following steps in order…

Step 1) Left-click on Compatibility,

Step 2) Check the box marked with Run this program in compatibility mode for,

Step 3) Select Windows 7 on the drop down list

Step 4) (Optional) check the box marked with Disable display scaling on high DPI settings – this makes the program look crisp on any display that I use with my Surface Pro 3.  Note that this step has nothing to do with the fix for this issue.  I only did it to make the program’s appearance look clear.

Step 5) Left-click on the Apply button

Step 6) Left-click on the OK button

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7. Run Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client and reconnect.  It will probably ask for the username and password used to log into your company.

That’s all there is to it.  Good luck!

A fix for OneDrive not syncing

Every now and then I see that OneDrive/SkyDrive on my computer doesn’t sync with the cloud.  I find that it usually happens when I go back and forth between a network that has disabled OneDrive (i.e., my work for security reasons) and my home.  I think that when I’m at work, the OneDrive/SkyDrive software keeps trying to sync and ends up getting confused in one way or the other.

I’ve found the solution to this problem.  If you click on this link , it will download and run software that fixes the problem.  When it runs, it could take up to 10-15 minutes to completely fix the problem.

This link was sourced from a Microsoft site found here.  So, if you don’t trust this blog’s download, you can always grab the one from Microsoft.  It is from step 6 of the Answer.

Good luck and have a good day!

Titanfall Tips

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Its been a long time since I’ve played First Person Shooters and I’ve been playing the production release of Titanfall since it came out on March 11, 2014.  The game is definitely fast-paced and the graphics are enjoyable to watch. 

When I first started to play the game, I was averaging 0 kills most of the time especially when I played Attrition.  Talk about frustrating!  Now, I currently average between 2-4 kills per match.

Most of the time, I play Hardpoint.  I find it more enjoyable since there is a goal I can work toward besides just killing the enemy.  I’m nowhere near being a good player yet, so I’m using NVidia’s ShadowPlay to help me improve my game.  ShadowPlay is used to record the game from beginning to end so that I can watch the replay afterwards. 

Here are my notes after studying my replays.  I’ll continue to update this page as I play more. 

Things to practice

    1. Jump and spin around to see who is shooting at you
    2. Use the “Q” key to camouflage as often as possible especially when entering into another room through the windows or doors.
    3. As soon as you see someone, shoot!  Don’t wait to recognize whether it’s a teammate or enemy.
    4. Reload while running.  I’ve gotten killed several times while I was standing still reloading.
    5. If you are a Pilot and a Titan sees you, just get out of there.  Don’t go head-to-head against a Titan if you are a Pilot.
    6. Don’t reload while in a firefight.  I got caught up in the heat of a battle that I run out of bullets and I’m reloading in the middle of a fight.
    7. Learn to keep moving while shooting the enemy

    Hardpoint tips

  1. Don’t reload at a Hardpoint.  Switch to Secondary weapon after using Primary weapon.  In this way, you won’t be caught off guard when the enemy pops into view
  2. Don’t be out in the open on the ground especially if there are enemy Titans nearby
  3. Although I hate campers, defending a Hardpoint could potentially increase your kill count
  4. Arcmines are great for defending a Hardpoint

Microsoft needs to fix SkyDrive so that it works 100% of the time!

I’m running the 64-bit version of Windows 8.1 Pro.  I noticed that there are times when SkyDrive in File Explorer won’t upload files even if SkyDrive Sync Engine Host is running.  I see this complaint everywhere on the internet.

In my particular case, I had a PDF file that was 8,264 KB in size.  For some unknown reason, SkyDrive simply didn’t upload the file no matter how long I waited.  I ran skydrive.exe /reset many times and also ran their SkyDrive troubleshooter but to no avail.  I even ran the SkyDrive App and clicked on the Sync button.

The only way I was able to get SkyDrive to upload the file was to go to my online account, select OneDrive and upload the file using the browser!

For the most part, I enjoy Microsoft products but its times like these that make me really pissed off about using their products.

My suggestion would be that they add a way to force uploading/downloading files in File Explorer.  Using the SkyDrive App just doesn’t cut it when I’m in desktop mode.

Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client VPN slow using AT&T U-verse

Problem:

I was recently struggling with a slow or unusable VPN connection when using Windows 8.1, Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client VPN version 3.1.04066, and a Wireless connection to a 2Wire Gateway 3600HGV. 

Without VPN, my speedtest.net results are:

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With VPN, my speedtest.net results are:

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Solution: 

The solution that I found so far was to edit a field in a file called preferences.xml.  This file is found under

/<Username>/AppData/Local/Cisco/Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client

Originally, there was a line that showed this…

<SDITokenType></SDITokenType>

and my performance results were…

I edited the file using Notepad to look like this instead…

<SDITokenType>none</SDITokenType>

Now, my performance results are…

image

Then I removed

<AutoConnectOnStart>false</AutoConnectOnStart>
<BlockUntrustedServers>true</BlockUntrustedServers>
<LocalLanAccess>true</LocalLanAccess>

Now, my perfomrnace results are…

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When VPN doesn’t work, its frustrating to figure out what has gone wrong.  This solution worked for me so far.  I hope it works for you.

Using the Desktop Toolbar as a pre-Windows 8 Start Menu

When using Windows 8, I found that switching between the Desktop and the Start Screen was visually jarring.  After I updated Windows 8.1, I changed the Start Screen background to match my Desktop background.  Visually, the transition is much smoother.

I do like the Start Screen and Live Tiles, but every now and then, I want to just stay in the Desktop.  Without using 3rd-party software, there is a way to have close to pre-Windows 8 Start Menu.  Here is how to do it.

1. Right-click on the Toolbar followed by a left-click on Properties

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A window will pop-up called Taskbar and Navigation properties.

2. Left-click on the Toolbars tab, left-click on Desktop, and left-click on the OK button to add the Desktop to your Toolbar.

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3. Adjust the position of the Desktop toolbar to the left right next to the Start button then shrink it down to allow more room for your Taskbar icons.

4. (Optional) Lock the taskbar

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The end result should look something like this..

With taskbar unlocked

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With taskbar locked

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