Microsoft Outlook requires password, but window disappears immediately [solved]


This has been one of the most embarrassing issues in quite some time. Issue was, that my MS Outlook 2016 (connected to an Exchange Online Plan / Microsoft 365) kept asking for a password, but the dialogue window disappeared immediately with no chance of entering a password. In effect, Outlook was not able to connect to the Exchange server, so that no emails could be sent nor received. 

Options that didn’t work

(yet may be helpful in other cases)

When googling for the issue, I ended up with some comprehensive forum posts and lists of potential solutions [1, 2], but nothing of the below worked (even though it may work in other situations):


It turned out that the root cause was different than what I expected. I had previously updated my BIOS, and during the process it also updated the TPM (Trusted Platform Module) settings of my AMD x570 based PC. The TPM is a dedicated chip (or on AMD platforms mostly a virtualized component) which safely stores encryption keys for i.e. Bitlocker and other security applications on a hardware level. It turns out, that updating the BIOS had reset the TPM and deleted all the stored keys which it held. Also Microsoft accounts for both, Windows and Office 365 seem to store some keys there which had been affected in my case.

Windows 10 still had the Exchange account listed with no issues under Settings > Accounts, but in fact -due to a missing TPM key- it was not able to access the account properly (without noticing the user btw). 

Finally, when I tried to delete the Exchange Account from Settings > Accounts > Access Business & School Accounts, it gave me this error message (Error 80090016): 

Please note that you must perform this action in both places, under Accounts > Email and Accounts and under Access Business and School Accounts! Only after removing the Exchange account from the second option will really and finally remove the account from Windows.

After clicking on the button, it finally removed the account, and after logging back into the same account (after rebooting), everything worked again. Having tried all the above things before, I had to reconfigure all my Exchange accounts and Outlook settings, but logging off and on again should spare you all of that, just give it a try. Luckily I had a recent backup which saved me hours of work. 

PS: Having a full Outlook backup in place is a great thing, including all the PST files, but also all configuration settings, signatures etc. The best tool I found for this (using it for 10+ years now) is MObackup. (No I am not affiliated with the creator, nor do I get any incentive or kickback, I am just a very convinced user for years).


ZIP vs. 7z: Using Optimal 7-ZIP Compression Presets

Photo by JJ Ying on Unsplash
Photo by JJ Ying on Unsplash

Recently I have cleaned up my files and folders which had accrued over more than 20 years. (Btw tools like AllDup and FileJuggler have been tremendously helpful). In the process I also compressed some larger folders using the open-source tool 7-ZIP.

That was the point where I asked myself which would be the best 7-ZIP compression settings to compress a typical “work” folder with some data, PDFs, Microsoft Office files, some images. Not that it would be necessary given how affordable storage has become, but nevertheless I wanted to know for lil’ Geek’s peace of mind.So what I did is this: I created a typical “office and work” folder which looks like this:

7-ZIP Benchmark Folder

…and ran it through all 7z and ZIP compression profiles which are available in 7-ZIP.  The result:

7-ZIP Benchmark Results

There are basically 3 tiers of speed vs. compression.

  1. Around 55% compression, there is no option but to use 7z, because ZIP just can’t compress the files that good, not anywhere near. The best preset here is “7z Normal”. You can save a little more space with “7z Maximum” or even “Ultra”, yet that comes with a hefty hit in terms of speed.
  2. Around 30% compression, there is not better preset than “7z Fastest”. Especially if compared to ZIP, you will get ~5 times the speed for exactly the same compression ratio. If you’re after the best compression in this tier, go for “7z Fast”. 
  3. Finally there is “7z Save” and “ZIP Save”, which does not compress anything at all, but wraps files up into a single ZIP or 7z archive. Both of these options happen at full drive speed (here: ~2.5 GB/s), where 7z has a minimal advantage because the overhead data added to the archive file is marginally less compared to ZIP.


ZIP is the most widespread format out there, but compared to 7z (LZMA2) it is just inefficient. At only a fraction of the speed of 7z, you will get max. ~30% compression, while there is no way to get up to ~55% compression with ZIP at all. And even at 55% compression with “7z Normal” preset, 7z will be 50% faster than ZIP for ~30% compression performance. Yes, it is that clear.

Sure, there are other considerations to be taken into account, like compatibility (ZIP is surely most widespread, while you will need 7-ZIP to decompress 7z files), storage of error correction data (which 7z is not capable of, compared to i.e. WinRAR). But beyond those (obviously relevant) aspects, there is just no way around 7z today.


Completely uninstall printer driver or printer port from Windows 10 [solved]

Canon Printer
Photo by Joshua Fuller on Unsplash

In the digital age, with switching locations and offices frequently, it may be necessary to uninstall a specific printer driver or printer port under Windows 10. However, it wouldn’t be Windows if that would work flawlessly under all circumstances.

In my case, Windows 10 threw up an error message which read Driver cannot be uninstalled. The printing queue is not empty. or The driver is currently being used. (I translated this from an actual German error message, so it could read different in English versions.)

Here is what to do about that.



VeraCrypt boot problems after Windows 10 update [solved]

Windows 10 Bluescreen

VeraCrypt 1.2x, Windows 10 x64 v1809

If you want to work with Full Disk Encryption (FDE), plus pre-boot authentication and you don’t want to use Windows BitLocker for some reason, it is likely you will end up with VeraCrypt. Being an OpenSource tool based on the original TrueCrypt, it has been significantly improved over its predesessor and is widespread in the community.

However, there are some problems connected to VeraCrypt and UEFI / Windows 10’s update mechanism / bootloader handling.

Problems with VeraCrypt and Windows 10 bootloader

What you experience is, that the UEFI boot entry for VeraCrypt is gone. The following applies if you encrypted your whole system drive / partition using VeraCrypt. After an update of your mainboard BIOS, or after major Windows 10 updates, you may experience a boot-loop or bluescreen, where Windows 10 will try to “repair” your Windows 10 installation over and over, without succeeding. The error message is:

Automatic Repair couldn’t repair your PC
Press “Advanced options” to try other options to repair your PC or “Shut down” to turn off your PC


Are deep neural networks dramatically overfitted?

Geek alert (headline = link btw). That is an excellent piece on overfitting effects in what many people refer to as ‘AI’ (Artificial Intelligence) or ‘ML’ (Machine Learning).

Overfitting: the nature of the models widely used, in detail some methods like backpropagation, amplifies multicollinearity within these models, which basically means to artificially create stronger correlations between independent variables and the dependent variable in a development sample. That can lead to extraordinary predictive accuracy of the model – which is limited to the test sample, while it performs much worse using e.g. real-life data. The model then has been ‘over-fitted’ to that particular data sample.

Despite (European) startups claiming to use ‘AI’ in many cases but just don’t do that, always remember as a rule of thumb if someone talks to you about ‘AI’:

In your pitch, it’s AI.
In your specs, it’s ML.
In your pilot, it’s linear regression.
In your product, it’s printf();

Don’t know the source (thanks for any hint!), I recently read it on LinkedIn and had a good laugh 🙂