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Issue #400: Mar 22–28, 2015

The halls of Geek Tower were alive with music and merriment this week, as the crew of It’s Geek To Me celebrated our milestone 400th issue!  It’ll probably take Clyde the Janitor days to sweep up all the confetti, and we’ll probably be pulling Silly String® out of the ductwork in the break room for weeks, but it was worth it!  The column has come such a long way since its humble beginnings in 2007.  I’ve answered literally hundreds of your questions, grown the Geek Lights on the Corner into an annual local Christmas tradition, performed a few dozen public appearances and transformed what was originally strictly an online archive of prior columns into what is becoming quite a nice little website.  I want to thank you, my readers for your ongoing support, reading the column and submitting questions.  I’d also like to tell you that I.G.T.M. is branching out into social media on Facebook and Twitter, and that I have a host of new features coming to the website that I’m pretty excited about.  You can learn all the latest, comment on articles, submit your own questions, and read exclusive website-only content, all at!


 Q: Per your suggestion, I am trying to create Standard user accounts for my family members and retain the Administrator account strictly for software installation and maintenance.  I can create new Users, but when I try to log in under the users with standard accounts, the computer immediately enters a “log off” state and goes right back to my page to select users.

– Mike B.
Niceville, Florida

 A: Usually, when I write an answer to someone’s question, I take up almost as much column space giving all the background, and explaining terminology and concepts as I do providing the actual answer.  The whole idea is that everybody learns that way.  (Well, maybe not, since people tell me all the time that my column is over their head.)  In your case, Mike, there are so many possibilities, and so much background, that I’m just going to plow right ahead with a fix, since it would take way too much space to cover every other little thing.

The solution is going to require using the Registry Editor (Regedit), so I want to get all the warnings out of the way up front.  Regedit is an immensely powerful tool, and it is crazy-easy to make mistakes.  Since the changes you make with it are live to the registry (there is no “Save” or “Undo” function) you must be extremely careful how you proceed.  I also recommend making a registry backup before you proceed, just in case you make an error, so you’ll have a chance at restoring everything.  Start out in your account with Administrator privileges.  Run Regedit from the Start menu by typing Regedit into the search box and pressing Enter.  Ensure “Computer” at the very top of the tree is selected, then click File->Export…  Select a name and location that you will be able to remember, then click “Save” to create your backup.

Now, the problem you’re having occurs when the Windows logon service fails to run the Windows default shell and user shell that are defined in the registry.  These values can sometimes be touched by badly-behaving software installers or de-installers, malware, or other incidents that corrupt the contents.  To fix the problem, you must correct the values.  In Regedit, use the tree to navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SOFTWARE > Microsoft > Windows NT > CurrentVersion > Winlogon.  In the right-hand pane, look for value Shell, and make sure it’s set to “explorer.exe”, and value Userinit, which should be set to “C:\WINDOWS\system32\userinit.exe”.  There should not be anything in these values except what I’ve shown here, and you should not include the quotation marks.  If you find anything else, remove it. If you find these values are set correctly, then you have a different problem, masquerading as this one.  One thing you can so is double-check to make sure that userinit.exe exists in its assigned path.  It’s also possible that userinit.exe has become corrupted, possibly with malware.  Windows can self-diagnose many such system file corruptions by running a command prompt and entering the command “sfc /scannow”. Good luck!




The Geek’s Website of the Week!

Name:YouTube Time Machine

Nominated By: The Geek


Description: If you’ve spent any length of time on YouTube, you probably already know that you can really lose yourself in the videos they have on there.  Ironically, you can also find yourself, so there’s that.

But have you ever wanted to see videos from one particular year?  Maybe a time in your life you’d like to revisit?  There is so much content on YouTube (and more being added every hour of every day) that it can be challenging to find exactly what you want, especially when your goal is to virtually time travel into your past.  Wouldn’t it be sweet if someone would do the work for you?  Oh, you know where I’m going with this, don’t you?

Yes, someone has, done the work for you!  And it’s this week’s Website of the Week!  The YouTube Time Machine indexes thousands of videos by year, dating all the way back to 1860.  Within each year the videos are sorted into categories such as Video Games, Television, Commercials, Current Events, Sports, Movies, and Music.  If you find any video game or TV videos from 1860, please let me know!  In the mean time, enjoy yourself.


One Response to “Issue #400: Mar 22–28, 2015”

  • Yogi says:

    I wish your suggestions had worked, but alas, no.
    The Registry looks just as you described it should.
    The file “userinit.exe” exists in the described path.

    When I try to run sfc/scannow from a command prompt window, I’m told “You must be an administrator running a console session in order to use the sfc utility”. Yet the account I’m using has administrator privileges (I double checked. I had named it “Administration” rather than “Administrator”, but it has Administrator privileges.) Is a “console session” different from a DOS prompt window which comes up from typing CMD in the search box?

    Apparently I do, indeed, have ” a different problem masquerading as this one”.

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