Minecraft: fix for “Multiplayer is disabled. Please check your Microsoft Account settings”

My kids will start playing Minecraft on a self-hosted server soon, but the newly purchased Java edition of Minecraft for Windows has the “multiplayer” button disabled. There’s a tooltip that says, “Multiplayer is disabled. Please check your Microsoft Account settings”. That would have been a helpful tooltip if there were any relevant “Microsoft Account settings” that can enable multiplayer. But there is no such setting!

Google shows that this appears to be a general problem, and the suggested solutions do not work. Some posts even claim that this has been broken for so long that it’s outrageous that Microsoft still hasn’t fixed it. I can now confirm that there is a working solution, but it’s so obscure that not even an hour on the phone with first Xbox Support and then Microsoft Support was able to resolve it!

So, here’s the solution:

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Is a touchscreen useful on a laptop? Surprisingly, yes!

Once upon a time, mice didn’t have scroll wheels. (Scary to think how long ago that is!) Then there was a confusing time when some mice had those wheels. Soon after, only a few didn’t. And that’s when many people had that disappointing experience of trying to scroll using a mouse that couldn’t.

If you don’t know that feeling of confusion followed by irritation and then sadness, now’s your chance to relive it!

We live in a time where wheelmice are disappearing again. They are now being usurped by touchscreens. I used to think that putting a touchscreen on a laptop is nonsense: it already has a keyboard, touchpad, trackpoint, and commonly a USB mouse as well. Today’s post is my admission that I am mistaken – a touchscreen on a laptop is remarkably useful!

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From one Galaxy to another

Those who know me well will know that I am picky with technology, and I felt that my trusty old Samsung Galaxy S6 was doing a great job. If it works, don’t fix it! But, at long last, the battery is worn out and won’t last even half a day. This put me in a position where I had to do something: spend money to have the phone serviced (to install a replacement battery that is presumably also 5 years old), or buy a new phone.

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Don’t get fooled: Phishing was yesterday, here comes smishing!

Summary: This scam tries to trick you into filling a form with your payment information which signs you up to a subscription that costs, in this case, €40 per month!

The other day I received a text message that led to a phishing scam. I didn’t fall for the scam but I thought it would have convinced many people that I know, so I decided to publish this as a general warning and reminder to everyone to stay vigilant.

In these modern times I often order stuff online, and the attackers use this trend to catch people unawares. This attack started out in a fairly believable manner: a notification that a package has been held up in the distribution central.

Undeliverable package! Status: your package has been held up in the distribution central. Track your package: [short link]

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How large is the broad side of a barn, anyway?

Of course you know the idiom “can’t hit the broad side of a barn” of someone who has poor aim. That’s from 1852.

But how large is the broad side of a barn, anyway? Would you be surprised to learn that scientists have actually worked that out? And why do I know this??

Some time ago, I was trying to find a way to remember my license plate that ends with the letters “FB”. I don’t like a particular social media site so I was googling for other things that use those letters and discovered that it is also a unit of measurement used in particle physics: fb means femtobarn. I immediately chose that as my mnemonic simply because of its nerdy obscurity.

What I want to share here is its ridiculous back story: what the hell is a femtobarn?! Continue reading

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