How To Fix “Taskbar And Start Screen Disappeared” in Windows 8.1

Blank Start Screen Time Made Of Strawberries

Fix your blank start screen issue in Windows 8.1 within a few simple steps

Resume your workflow without having to turn it off and on again

By Mélissa M Azombo

Has your start screen been replaced by a blank purpley-blue screen and no matter how many times you click or right-click, nothing happens? Has your taskbar also mysteriously disappeared, leaving you with no other way to access your open programs than via Task Manager? Stay tuned to find out how to relaunch your productivity without having to restart your computer.

It seems that whenever we have a to-do list as long as a monthly shop till receipt, our tech just does not want to co-operate with us. If you have been haunted by a disappearing taskbar, start screen and desktop this Halloween, fix this issue and get back to smoothly checking off your tasks within just a few simple steps.

1. Launch Task Manager

Launch Task Manager Windows Security Screen Windows 8.1 Ctrl + Alt + Del time Made Of Strawberries

The Windows security screen in Windows 8.1 which appears after pressing Ctrl + Alt + Del together, from which Task Manager can be launched. Image credit: By Microsoft – Shot by Codename Lisa (talk · contribs), Public Domain,

Press the 3 keys most likely engrained in your brain as the life saver keys when it comes to tech issues “Ctrl + Alt + Delete” simultaneously. On the next screen that appears, click on Task Manager.

2. Run New Task from Task Manager

Run New Task Time Made Of Strawberries

Above: Run new task via Task Manager window

Once your Task Manager window opens, click “More details” at the bottom of the window. It will extend and a top menu will appear. In this top menu,  click File > Run new task. This will allow you to make your taskbar, desktop and start screen reappear by launching them as a new task from the dialog box that appears.

3. Launch the Taskbar, Start Screen and Desktop

Run New Task Explorer Taskbar Start Screen Desktop Windows 8.1 Time Made Of Strawberries

Above: Run explorer to launch taskbar.

In the dialog box that appears after you have selected File > Run new task in the Task Manager window, you will see a text box where you will need to enter the name of the program you are trying to launch. Type “explorer” and click “OK.”

Your taskbar will appear. You can now click on the start icon in your taskbar or press the start key on your keyboard, and your start screen will appear with all the icons it usually has. You can choose to search for a program or click on “Desktop” to navigate back to the desktop which will again, have all of the icons you normally have on it.

Crisis averted! You can finally get back to running your empire, being a boss, blogging or simply watching Doctor Who: Blink on Netflix in peace.


Doctor Who merchandise image featuring monster, companion anddoctor figures, the TARDIS, sonic screwdriver and VHS. These are set across 4 shelves.

Above: Doctor Who memorabilia, image credit The Doctor Who site.

Is Superfandom money and talent-centric?

By Mélissa M Azombo Support the author

I’m on the set of Doctor Who during one of those lulls when we are waiting to be called in for the next scene, when one of the other extras told me he had been in the newspapers as a kid for owning the biggest Doctor Who collection.

“Impressive!” I thought. “That’s really cool,” I responded. He must really like Doctor Who and it is amazing that he not only enjoyed the show enough to want to collect so much, but that he was able to. He is what the media would have termed a “Superfan”. Unfortunately, his name escapes me. This was way back in the summer of 2016, after all. While I wish him well wherever he is, I also wonder whether he would have agreed with that terminology.

See, I have seen many examples of fans photographed with their collections and artwork and called superfans but I wonder if this always feels like an accurate fit. Do they, themselves feel like superfans or regular fans? And what makes the distinction? I wanted to unpack what it meant to be a Superfan a bit further.

Tom Felton Meets The Superfans BBC Time Made Of Strawberries Un Temps De Fraises

Above: Snapshot from BBC documentary Tom Felton Meets The Superfans

The best place to start when you want to know the meaning of a word is always of course, the dictionary. The Oxford online dictionary defines a Superfan as “a fan especially of a sports team, who admires somebody/something or enjoys watching or listening to somebody/something, more than usual.” While Doctor Who may not be a sports team, instead the longest running sci-fi TV show, I think I can still use this definition as a barometer against which to calibrate Superfandom.

First, I need to set a baseline for “usual”. Is this Countdown? Because off we go to the dictionary corner again. According to the same dictionary, usual means “that happens or is done most of the time or in most cases”. This sets the baseline for usual fandom at: ways of enjoying a franchise that are the most accessible. In the case of Doctor Who for example, that would be simply watching each episode from when it aired. Anything beyond that, such as watching episodes multiple times or investing further in the show in other ways, would bring you towards the Superfan side of the spectrum.

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Above: A Doctor Who collection of Daleks, a TARDIS, figures and more. Image credit: The Doctor Who site.

This means that my fellow extra from earlier would categorise as a superfan. Does this mean that anyone who does not own even one Doctor Who Funko Pop, could never dream of qualifying as a superfan? Owning a huge collection is in large part, money based. Whilst it is arguably unfair to dismiss those who would never be able to afford such a collection, it is also not right to dismiss the passion for the show someone must have, to want to do this in the first place. The collector has rightfully earnt their place as a superfan (as long as it’s not just because they couldn’t shift the latest limited edition blu-ray for £1000 on e-bay, after all). Perhaps this just seems like the main representation we get of the superfan. Others are acknowledged in media, though.

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Above: Cosmic Doctor: The 11th Doctor fan at by Alice X. Zhang.

The superfan is sometimes in the media for their fan art. With Doctor Who’s deep history, there is lots to draw inspiration from to create hand drawn, painted or even digital artwork. Spend just a few minutes scrolling through Twitter and you will see a plethora of talent emanating from your screen.

Vincent Van Gogh Tony Curran in Doctor Who by BethanApple on Instagram

Above: A work of art: A pen drawing of Vincent Van Gogh as portrayed by Tony Curran in Doctor Who episode Vincent and The Doctor. Artwork by BethanApple on Instagram.

The talent of Doctor Who fans will astonish you. These fans show that their enjoyment of the show sparks their creativity, prompting them to take their fandom beyond just watching the program.

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Above: The Doctor Who Series 4 steelbook cover artwork designed by Sophie Cowdrey (@sophiecowdreyart on Instagram)

From The Doctor in her various incarnations to her companions or cross-era mash-ups, for example The 8th Doctor with Bill Potts, there is an array of fantastic artwork from fans. This can give them more material to practise their craft enough to even work on the show one day in an artistic capacity, as Sophie Crowdrey who designed the Doctor Who Series 4 Steelbook did.

There is no way in which these fans have not earnt the “Superfan” title. It’s still important to note though that artwork is money & resources dependent. It also depends on being able to draw. The concept that someone who does not have the funds or resources to produce this art or can not draw could not be a superfan, just does not ring true.

Timey Wimey Productions

Doctor YouTube Channel Timey Wimey Poductions

What about something more inexpensive like running a blog or a successful YouTube or Vimeo channel? Possibly even a successful social media account? Blogs not only take a lot of time and effort to run and promote, they employ a vast skillset. Bloggers need to research and innovate to come up with original articles you will enjoy reading. In the case of writing about a topic the rest of the Doctor Who fandom is already aware of, they need to be quick to beat the rush of every single other Doctor Who Blog writing about it or use a different angle that would warrant a later publishing date.

There is a lot to take into account from photography to logos and website design, as well as interviewing people, given the chance. This is definitely something not done lightly. Most times, this is a hobby fans are trying to squeeze in around their day job that they do not get paid for, with no guarantee anyone will read it at first.

Similarly, YouTube channels and social media accounts have no guarantee of ever being viewed by anyone. The amount of time, energy and creativity fans put into editing videos for, be it YouTube or DailyMotion and perfecting posts for Instagram or Twitter, is definitely a match for a superfan. But when it comes to success, this is tied to likes & impressions in the mediasphere. It’s a numbers game! By that logic, this level of dedication to the show means nothing to your superfan status if you don’t have thousands of likes and followers. Ouch! Sounds harsh.

Also a numbers game and perhaps the most symbolic of a superfan, is autograph & photograph collecting. The autograph & photograph hunters have been synonymous with the term superfan for ages and it’s quite an expensive hobby to keep up.

With conventions increasing in price, along with auto and photo prices, this is not exactly accessible to everyone. But it doesn’t actually have to be expensive. You can go to stage door for free and try to get a photo or auto from your favourite actor if they come out. You might be able to do the same outside red carpets, some of which are wrist-banded to restrict the number in fan areas.

Of course, if you are just after an autograph, you might actually be able to get one for the price of a stamp – well, 2 stamps. You can send fan mail to the agency of the actor of your choice and enclose a stamped SAE (self-addressed envelope), so that they are able to send you a response, including an autograph, if you request one!

While these last methods dramatically take the cost of this activity down, it is still exclusive. The latest figure from l’INSEE (L’Institut National de Statistiques et des Etudes Economiques) reflects that the amount of people in poverty is 14.2%. For such people, the cost of a stamp may be too much, let alone 2 stamps or trying to get into a convention. Unfortunately, being a Doctor Who fan does not automatically grant someone a magic money tree from the Universe.

So, who is the superfan in all of this? Is it the collector? Is it the artist? Is it the fanfiction writer or is it the person who has watched lots of episodes multiple times and can tell you a thing or 2 about them from the top of their heads? It turns out that the superfan is all of these examples. As far as being a superfan goes, you don’t have to have all the money in the world to collect every photograph, autograph or figure. You don’t have to be able to draw or write or even have defined success on your Doctor Who social media account. You just have to enjoy the show, in a more than usual way. There is more than one way of being a superfan, even a free one…



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Above: Doctor Who: The Edge Of Time logo from an earlier trailer.

An Inside Look At The Brand New Doctor Who VR Game

One sunny August evening, Product Manager Quin escorts me to the Maze Theory London headquarters. Through the high-end secure entrance and the lobby which exudes comfort, we make our way to the bright, spacious Maze Theory office. Dedication, hard work and positive energy in the air, ingredients of the new Doctor Who VR game “The Edge Of Time”.

At this stage, the game development is still in progress. Nevertheless, the game that I test is extraordinary. When I put on my VR headset, I am immediately transported to another world. I feel the nature around me, the tension of hurrying to save the day and the fear of monsters. As far as I am aware, there is no screen separating me from this captivating, time-sensitive world. This time, I am living in an episode of Doctor Who.

The Maze Theory team had taken us through their work on the game, on a widescreen TV. They were also keen on feedback from the eyes of avid Doctor Who viewers. This, an illustration of the passion, drive and painstaking detail they were putting into launching Doctor Who into the world of VR in perfect fashion.

The Edge Of Time is the first VR game to enter the Doctor Who universe.

With Monsters and threats to confront, Doctor Who fans take charge of defeating Daleks and Weeping Angels alike, by stepping into an adventure of their own.

Given some guidance at intermittent points in the game by The Doctor herself (voiced by Jodie Whittaker), players essentially become The Doctor as they are put in charge of their own destiny.

Released in November, the immersive experience filled with thrills, puzzles and tension is available worldwide to all owners of a VR headset via Steam, Oculus and PlayStation store at An RRP of £20 or $25 USD.

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Above: Neil Millstone, Lead Developer at Maze theory, pictured here at the Doctor Who: The Edge Of Time stand at London Comic Con MCM Expo in May 2019

Players should “come out thinking they’ve just had an adventure through space and time,” Neil Millstone from Maze Theory tells me.

As a fan of the show, he described working on The Edge Of Time as feeling “like a responsibility… Games based on movies and TV don’t have a great history and… we all wanted to make sure that we did right by the fans. We didn’t want to make a generic game that just happens to have the Doctor Who branding on the top. We wanted to make something that fans and people who knew the series, would identify with and see as part of the Doctor Who world.”

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Above: A Dalek from Doctor Who: The Edge Of Time.

In the initial planning stages, Maze Theory made sure to centre some vital elements in the world of the game. When considering which famous Doctor Who monsters to feature, the Daleks reigned supreme.

Having selected the Daleks as iconic monsters to include and Weeping Angels, they knew they needed to consider the types of environments that would be good to explore next.

“The plot mostly came first and then the gameplay fitted around that.” Neil tells me about the game development process. The balance of the plot and the environment was a key component of constructing the worlds in the game. Neil got an insight into the sheer scale of the game when he was asked to join the project, by being shown a demo of the game featuring the Weeping Angels.

“I was amazed by the Weeping Angels demo,” he told me. “The environment, the look and feel of it. There was something about the demo they showed me that made me think ‘If we can make something Doctor Who that looks like this, then we’re gonna do very well out of it.’”


Above: Don’t blink. A Weeping Angel, as seen in Doctor Who: The Edge Of Time VR game

This really emphasised that Maze Theory had put a lot of work into crafting every detail to build up the perfect fan experience. I very quickly learnt that this has been consistent over the course of the project, which started with a request sent out by the BBC. Since Maze Theory is a recent addition to Output Group, which had worked with the BBC before, this helped them get on the list when the BBC sent out a request for who would be interested in producing a VR game. Marcus Moresby (VR Director at Maze Theory) put together the demo which landed them the project. Project landed, they set to work!

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Above: Marcus Moresby, Creative Director at Maze Theory created the demo which landed them the project.

“We worked very hard to make sure that everything felt Who-y and it felt like something that would appear in the series,” Neil told me. He described every detail the team kept in mind while making the game, to make that world feel authentic.

“The intro sequence is designed to look like the intro to the TV series and getting elements like the TARDIS and the Daleks to be super accurate. All of these things are very important to us. Every module on the Dalek and every dial on the TARDIS is exactly where it should be.”

It is clear that the team knew just how important it was to get every detail right to create the perfect world. Maze Theory enlisted the help of some very knowledgeable Doctor Who cast members to get this spot on.

“Obviously, we enlisted the help of Nicholas Briggs and Jodie Whittaker to do the roles that they’re famous for in the series. As soon as we got the voices in, it felt much more like a part of the Who Universe.”

The game development process took about 14 months to complete, from building the team to the final completion stage.

This 14-month process led Maze Theory to an authentic Doctor Who game, in which players will find references to the Whoniverse throughout. This includes the laundrette representing the Totter’s Lane Junkyard and the time cabinet referencing Classic Doctor Who episode Talons of Weng Chang. It is no secret in the worlds of fandom, how dedicated fans are to the show, and how important this accurate detail and authenticity, which remained a constant theme throughout the game’s creation, can be to them. It strikes me that Doctor Who: The Edge of time is not only a chef d’oeuvre and labour of love. It is a love letter to the show itself, to the fans. VR headset firmly in place, I’m sure that fans can only be filled with joy and a sense of adventure.

My Christmas Wishlist

By Mélissa M Azombo

Christmas is just 18 days away. So, what better way to get ready for the festivities than to share some gift ideas and get that Christmas wishlist ready!

Of course, Chrsistmas is a time of giving, sharing and caring. It is not all about receiving presents. Sometimes though, someone wants to show you they care by getting you something you really want, no matter how many times you protest that you don’t want anything.

“You know when someone asks you what your favourite book is and suddenly you’ve forgotten every book you’ve ever read?” – Clara Oswald, Doctor Who: Series 7B: The Rings Of Akhaten

So, what do you actually want? It’s funny. All year round, you could think of things which could have made your day a bit better or really helped you out with that assignment or even sped up your business venture but now, your mind’s gone blank. What else is there to do than to get some inspiration, think back and get that small Christmas wishlist ready?

Hoping it will help you write yours, here’s my Christmas wishlist:

  1. Doctor Who: The Official Cookbook by Joanna Farrow

Lots of timey-wimey recipes to try out!

Image Courtesy of BBC Shop: Lots of timey-wimey recipes to try out!

This would be a fantatic present to receive for any Doctor Who fan, who also really enjoys food. This is a gift you can be really creative with and learn a lot from. It is really cool to make something that is a change to your average meal and also good for parties, if I ever have any, in the future. In the mean-time, it seems like the perfect companion for the upcoming Doctor Who Christmas special.

2. Orphan Black Comic Books

A Christmas with the sestras sounds perfect.

Image courtesy of Indiewire: A Christmas with the sestras sounds perfect.

Now that Orphan Black has come to a close on air, it sounds like the right time to explore the world of Orphan Black further. Perhaps this is a chance to find some hidden secrets about some of the characters the TV show may not have touched on, especially the clones. Comic books can be very expensive, so just one issue will make this sestra a very happy one.

3. The Science Of Orphan Black

Delve right into the Science Fact behind Science Fiction Orphan Black!

Image courtesy of Amazon: Delve right into the Science Fact behind Science Fiction Orphan Black!

Just one more Orphan Black treat. As an Astronomy grad, I am obviously all about the science (and yes, Cosima, is of course one of my favourite clones), so this book would just be perfect for me. I just really enjoy looking into how real life science applies to the generally futuristic ideas we tend to see in science fiction.

As Orphan Black tackled the Biology branch of sci-fi, straying from the usual Physics branch I tend to watch with Doctor Who, I found the show to be a really exciting concept, when it started. It will therefore be really enlightening, informative and fun to learn about the biology applications to Orphan Black. How close are we to the world of Orphan Black becoming reality? Is it a possibility or are actual regulations too tight to let illegal human cloning trials go unnoticed? In that case, is this something that may become legal in the future? There are so many questions I have I hope this book would answer. If I am lucky enough to get gifted this, I shall find out!

This is just a great gift for anyone who enjoyed the show and is not necessarily as into their science as me but keen to learn, in a fun way.

4. A Telescope

Bringing the stars closer to home

Image courtesy of 365Astronomy: Bringing the stars closer to home

I have wanted to get into Astrophotography properly for quite a few years, now but still have not quite managed to save up enough to be able to get my very own telescope and DSLR camera. This therefore goes into the category of unrealistic gifts but is still on my Christmas wishlist because one can dream, can’t one?

If I was to have my own telescope, I could make like Wilfred Mott and get back into my observing. Now, is the best time because, although it may sound like the winter coming up is an observer’s nightmare in the freezing cold, the longer nights provide us with a longer observing session, meaning more time to look at more objects and, if you’re a true enthusiast, more data to analyse. As long as it does not rain and there is no cloud cover, if you like observing, you’re in for a treat, in the winter.

In the mean time, there is still plenty to enjoy with the naked eye, such as my favourite, Orion.

5. Taylor Swift Concert Tickets


Image courtesy of Ticketmaster: Are you Ready For It?…

It is absolutely unexpected to be able to hear an album someone has written and sung seemingly about your life. Taylor’s new album Reputation is so relatable. To me, it is about a journey through a battle with being the kind, forgiving person you were always taught to be and growing up and realising that, if you are going to keep any part of yourself, that is not always the way to be. Those who take advantage of your good naure to mistreat you are why we can’t have nice things. As a result, you cange in a way that keeps you safe. Yes, people will talk (even more if you’re Taylor Swift) but it’s about doing what keeps you safe and sane.

The music in this album is something never before heard from Taylor. With new life experiences comes a new sound. It’s fair to say in this album that Taylor has xperimented with her music more than ever before and it has paid off. It would be incredible to see her in concert. Again, at £132 for the most ideal seats (as close to the main stage, as possible) and £62 for the cheapest tickets, I’m going to put this in the unrealistic category. If I can’t afford these, I don’t see how anyone I know who may or may not get me anything for Christmas this year would be able to. Even if they could, that is a lot to spend on one person. I would be over the moon for 23rd June tickets but also being realistic. These can still stay on the list though. after all, this is a Christmas “wish”list.

6. Harry Potter And The Cursed Child Tickets

Accio magical theatre experience!

Image courtesy of Harry Potter The Play London: Accio magical theatre experience!

The world J.K. Rowling has created is one I find comfort in at the best of times and of course, the worst times, which is when one needs it most. Harry Potter is definitely if not THE, then, ONE of my favourite film series. It covers so many themes that are so key to my life: the tricky topic of friendship, courage and changes.

As I still have not managed to see the stage play, set during the epilogue Nineteen Years Later, it would be simply magical to get to see it. I’m also intrigued as to how the magic comes alive on stage and do not need another repeat of that time I had to block my ears on the coach to avoid spoilers. However, tickets are really tricky to get and quite pricey too, so maybe another unrealistic Christmas gift? Maybe a copy of Harry Potter Et La Pierre Philosophale, instead. Or… um… Accio Harry Potter And The Cursed Child tickets!

7. Care

Last but not least, this is the best gift I could receive all Christmas. It’s been a tricky few years. People are not always as they seem. You’re left having to pick up the pieces of your broken heart, again, again, again, that someone else damaged. For this reason, this Christmas, I want to be surrounded by those who truly care and getting even one Christmas message shall make my day. To be remembered by one person is all a person needs, sometimes. To know that you are cared for and that your care is looked after and not lackadaisically thrown around is extremely heart-warming and more than anyone could wish for.

Jodie Whittaker Cast as “The Ultimate Character” – The 13th Doctor

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Almost 54 years later, Doctor Who casts a woman for the prestigious leading role

By Mélissa M Azombo

So, the wait to find out who will play The 13th Doctor is finally over and the time has come for the Time Lord’s next face to be revealed. During today’s Wimbledon final on BBC 1, it turned out to be no other than Broadchurch’s Jodie Whittaker.

During a one-minute clip, the suspense was killing Whovians accross the UK, (soon to be the world, as the clip later made the rounds online) as they eagerly waited to discover who The 13th Doctor was to be played by. After hours of sitting through tennis, when yet again Doctor Who fans were expected to sit through sport for a major Doctor Who reveal (Bill Potts reveal-style), it was unveiled the next Doctor was to be played by a woman, with the face of Jodie Wittaker for the first time.

The 35-year-old actress has a vast acting career in her pocket. Since graduating from Guildhall School of Music and Drama with the gold medal in acting, she has starred in the St Trinnian’s films, Attack The Block and most recently ITV drama Broadchurch, penned by soon-to-be Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall.

Doctor Who actors welcomed the news, with Colin Baker tweeting “Change, my dears and it appears, not a moment to soon. She IS The Doctor, whether you like it or not,” paraphrasing a quote from his run as The Doctor.

Time For Change?

However, not all fans agree with the change. Some fans believe this casting decision alone, will damage the show, while others call it satisfying political correctness. Despite some, already refusing to continue watching the show, a large proportion of the fans are praising this decision. While some are glad it is finally a woman after all previous actors being men, others are just welcoming the casting of a talented actress.

On the topic of being the first woman to play the role, Whittaker told the Doctor Who team “I want to tell fans not to be scared by my gender… Doctor Who fans have lived through so many changes and this is only a new, different one, not a fearful one.”

The Yorkshire-born actress who has already had a brush with the Whoniverse, standing in for past Doctor Who actress Carey Mulligan in stage production The Seagull and acting opposite 9th Doctor Christopher Ecclestone in Antigone at The National Theatre, is “most excited” about fully becoming a part of the Doctor Who family. Talking to the Doctor Who website, she said “To be asked to play the ultimate character, to get to play pretend in the truest form: this is why I wanted to be an actor in the first place.”

She continued, making it clear that taking on this “unbelievable opportunity”, required no hesitation on her behalf. “If you need to be persuaded to do this part, you’re not right for this part and this part isn’t right for you.”

It is very clear she knows how iconic the role is, even choosing “The Clooney” as a code name for it, at home and with her agent, “because to me and my husband, George [Clooney] is an iconic guy.”

She has called being the 13th Doctor so far “nerve-wracking, because everything’s been so secret.” This is no longer her secret, so hopefully Jodie is now feeling a bit less nervous, ready for fans to see her in the role for the first time during the final minutes of the Doctor Who Christmas Special on BBC 1 on Christmas Day.

In the mean time, the only Doctor fans can see Jodie as, will be as her character who plays a nurse pretending to be a doctor in BBC Drama Trust me on Tuesday 8th August 2017 at 21h00.