Category Archives: tech

BSOD on Windows 7 – Faulty Memory or Motherboard ?

If you experience a Windows Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) with the error

DRIVER_IRQL_NOT_LESS_THAN_OR_EQUAL_TO

or

MEMORY_MANAGEMENT

There are a few reasons this could be caused Either:

  • You may have a conflicting driver
  • There is a faulty memory chip
  • There is a faulty motherboard
  • Some other reason

While there’s a bewildering number of articles on what it could be (and some of them are as helpful as a chocolate teapot), this one hopefully cuts to the chase:

Resolve your drivers

Download SlimDrivers – https://www.slimwareutilities.com/slimdrivers.php . It will tell you which drivers are out of date and offer to download them for you. Regardless of if you have a BSOD issue, this isn’t a bad thing to do.

Do a memory test – The download-less, almost-helpful version

  • Click on the “Start” button and open the “Control Panel”

  • Type in “memory” in the Control Panel’s search bar located at the upper right hand corner.

  • Look for “Administrative Tools.” Click on “Diagnose your computer’s memory problems.”

  • Choose “Restart now and check for problems” to run the scan immediately
  • Wait for the computer to restart and then follow the instructions. When the scan finishes, the diagnostic tool will let you know if RAM is the cause of the blue screen error.

Well it kind of will – I got “There is a hardware problem. Contact your PC Vendor” – so I have a problem with my hardware but I don’t know much else. Not helpful

Do a memory test – the yes-this-works-but-requires-more-effort version

Download Ultimate Boot CD (https://www.ultimatebootcd.com/) – you could just download memtest+ but given Ultimate Boot CD gives you a myriad of tools that might come in useful one day, download and burn this CD and keep it for a rainy day.

Once you have burned the CD (read how to burn an ISO image to CD/DVD):

  • Power down your PC and remove the power cable
  • Open the case of the PC

STOP HERE – THIS IS IMPORTANT

You have now entered a world where static electricity is your enemy. You should remove any chance of static build-up (typically wearing socks on a nylon carpet on a really dry, humid-less day will not be a good idea). When you are working on your PC you should earth yourself. Some people just touch the case of their PC, other are more robust about it.

  1. Once you have earthed yourself
  2. Remove all but one of the memory by pushing on the clips that hold the memory in (on both sides) and pulling the memory chip(s) out. Some configurations mean you have to have the memory in pairs, so if this is you, leave two memory chips in. You’ll know this is you if on step 4 you hear a constant beeping and your PC doesn’t start up
  3. Place the pulled memory somewhere safe and static free
  4. Restart your PC
  5. Press F8 or F12 to get to the Boot Options
  6. Boot from your Ultimate Boot CD – if this doesn’t appear as an option you should adjust your bios to enable the CD as a bootable device (read how to do it here)
  7. From the menu that appears, pick “Memory” > “memtest +” (it will have a version number after it
  8. Let memtest do its magic
  9. If you start to see red lines of text appear then you likely have failed memory
  10. Confirm this by swapping out memory chips to test either those that were set aside, or to see if one of the already tested chips is the faulty one (e.g. if you are testing two chips at a time, swap out one chip and re-run the test).

If all your memory chips pass, move onto the “Something else” section

Something Else is Wrong

In the case of my own BSOD woes, i found out after the memory test that dust had entered the memory slots and was causing an issue. A quick blast of the air duster resolved it.

If you have made sure all your memory and cards (E.g. graphics cards) are properly seated in their respective slots, other issues can be harder to identify – for example if there’s a thermal fracture; this is where the circuit is broken (sometimes old solder can crack and will only make connection when warmed up – so a cold booting PC would fail but a warm PC might work).

Here’s some additional resources on checking

FIX: Windows 7 WIFI disabled and Can’t Connect

WIFI Stopped Working on Windows 7?

If you have a wireless adaptor that used to connect to a Wifi network and is unable to then your WLAN adaptor is likely disabled. To further verify this, when you go to Control Panel > Network and Internet > Network Connections, your wifi adaptor is greyed out indicating it’s disabled and right-clicking on it, choosing “Enable” does not resolve.

Fix / enable your network adaptor again on Windows 7

  • Start > Run > type services.msc (enter)
  • Scroll down to WLAN AutoConfig, right click and choose properties
  • Change Startup Type  to Automatic
  • Click Start below the “Service Status” text

To be extra-cautious, you could also make sure the order of your network is set correctly:

  • Control Panel > Network and Internet > Network Connections
  • Advanced menu > Advanced Settings
  • Make sure your Wifi connection (adaptor) is set to the top-most entry

Why does this happen?

Seems it could be a multitude of reasons; it might be that your network card got in a tizzy and or that some condition occurred where your system disabled it. If it keeps happening, this could be a more significant issue. I would do the following:

1. Virus scan your system – I usually use Microsoft’s own Virus scanner as well as Malwarebytes AntiMalware

2. Make sure you have the latest drivers for your network card

Installing Angular.js on Windows

If you’re new to Angular.js and are trying to follow their example app (see http://docs.angularjs.org/tutorial/), chances are you might get an error like this:

node ./scripts/web-server.js
module.js:340
 throw err;
 ^
Error: Cannot find module 'C:\Users\<user>\scripts\web-server.js'
 at Function.Module._resolveFilename (module.js:338:15)
 at Function.Module._load (module.js:280:25)
 at Function.Module.runMain (module.js:497:10)
 at startup (node.js:119:16)
 at node.js:902:3

What the tutorial failed to mention is that you need to be in the directory of the angular-phonecat directory – so the sequence is :

cd angular-phonecat
node ./scripts/web-server.js

Then access your browser at localhost:8000 and it will work. Remember if you’re using Windows that port 80 is typically reserved for IIS so unless you want to mess around with IIS default ports….

http://docs.angularjs.org/tutorial/

FIX: Asus RT-N56U doesn’t see the second USB hard disk

The Asus RT-N56U has been out for a little while now; it’s been proven to be quite a popular home consumer router as it comes with many features for a decent price (dual-band including N-band wireless and media streaming, for example).

As with most hardware products, there’s an occasional need to upgrade the firmware, to address bugs, security issues and/or introduce new features. Around 2013 ASUS introduced a completely new firmware for the router which removed features from the router – chiefly the media server. Instead these features had to be installed on an attached USB hard disk. Not only that but the latest version of the media server software ASUS supply (minidlna v1.0.33) has a bug which fails to index all content.

Media Server Fix 1 – Downgrade to 1.0.0.22

Simply follow these steps – version 1.0.0.33 has the issue mentioned. You’re basically doing a manual merge of file to over-write the media server. If you need a copy of the files, you can download from here.

Media Server Fix 2 – Second Hard Drive Doesn’t Appear for DLNA devices (like PS3)

If you’re like me, your media server install (and other router related files) is on the same drive as media you are streaming. But when you connect a second drive, you may find that you can see the drive using the file share (samba) or FTP but DLNA devices (like the PS3) don’t seem to see it. This appears to be because the second drive takes a few seconds to mount (or register – the router uses unix and this is how it handles hard disks) and so when the media server goes to look at what’s available, doesn’t see it.

Solution 1 – Web Interface

You can try to either disable and then re-enable the media server via the web interface:

ASUS Wireless Router RT N56U   USB application

or telnet into the router and force a restart with re-index:

  • Start your telnet session
    • For Windows see this link
    • For OSX, go to Utilities > Terminal > type “telnet <your router IP>”
  • Login using your router username and password you setup
  • If you want to confirm you have multiple disks mouted, type

cat /proc/mounts  – you will see

/dev/sda1 /tmp/mnt/Media ufsd rw,nodev,nls=utf8,uid=0,gid=0,fmask=0,dmask=0,force 0 0

(Media refers to the name i gave this drive)

/dev/sdb1 /tmp/mnt/Shared ufsd rw,nodev,nls=utf8,uid=0,gid=0,fmask=0,dmask=0,force 0 0

(Shared refers to the name i gave this drive)

the key part is sda1 refers to the first hard disk; sdb1 refers to the second; note they’re both mounted via /tmp/mnt

  • Type minidlna -f /opt/etc/minidlna.conf -R which will force the DLNA server to re-index.
    For info, the “-f /opt” refers to the config file for miniDLNA and “-R” is the command to force a re-index
  • Now go to your routers miniDLNA status page – this should be http://<router-ip> :8200 – e.g. http://192.168.1.1:8200 – this will give you a count of the re-index process. Depending on the number of files, this could take a while!

And you’re done! Hopefully this helped take the mystery out of resolving this issue.

IMPORTANT NOTE: There is a known security issue with the router that has been resolved with the latest firmware – if you are using the ASUS cloud service that lets you access your files over the internet you need to update ASAP. See the ASUS files site for info.

Notes of Interest – April 24 2013

Curated links of interest – April 24 2013

SailFish OS

Open Source Mobile OS based on Linux core and the QT Framework – SDK avaialble for Linux, Windows, OSX
While Mozilla is offering its’ own OS, this could be a outlier that creates a movement for budget devices

Why Excel has been the bane and core of my business life

28 Year old Econ Grad publishes paper “Does High Public Debt Consistently Stifle Economic Growth? A Critique of Reinhart and Rogoff,” that took aim at a massively influential study by two Harvard professors named Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff. Herndon found some hidden errors in Reinhart and Rogoff’s data set, then calmly took the entire study out back and slaughtered it.

LinkLink

Don’t Send Me a Message

One of my pet peeves too – Don’t send me a message to say I have a message!!!

Link

Pony – ORM for Python

Pony is a Python ORM that lets you query a database using Python generators. These generators are then translated into effective SQL.

Link

How Hyphens can hurt your SEO

Experiments in SEO and why hyphens can impact you

Link

Javascript demos

Pushing the boundaries of traditional javascript, these demos show how far we have come – and the potential of where we can go

 JQuery 2 released

Drops IE 6-8 Support. Performance improvements.

Link

Which Javascript Frameworks are getting more interest?

What people are searching on (sourced from Google)

Link

HTML5 apps are still the red headed step-child

HTML5 is great, or would be if it had tools to support it (and why native mobile apps still win)
Link Link

Please don’t deploy your app on a Friday

As someone whose life was Friday night app deploy focused, I can relate

Link

O’Reilly Free Books

Free books from the famed tech publisher

Link

App Developers Leaving Facebook

Why Developers are leaving Facebook – sometimes its’ own success can be its’ ultimate downfall

Link

Technology is great until it fails! How to back up your pictures and other files

In this age where almost everyone has some form of capturing the moment digitally; whether you have a full-on Digital SLR camera, point and click, iPod, iPhone, Android, etc. at some point you’re going to amass lots of pictures and videos.

So what would happen if the device they were on right now failed? Would you lose all your treasured files? What options do you have to backup?

Backing up your PC / Mac

There are so many options here to consider; here’s a brief run-down of the main ones:

Data Transfer Speed Cost to Implement Typically Stored Risk of Failure Comments
Optical Media (CD/DVD) Slow $ On Site Low Long term storage option; Size limitations per Disc (e.g. Single Layer DVD is 4.7GB)
Attached Portable Disk Fast $ On Site Moderate Good for quick archival; risk of disk failure
(in unit) RAID array (non-NAS) Fast $$ On Site Low Provides protection, but risk to data if the entire unit is affected
Single NAS drive Medium * $ On Site Moderate Central location for everyone on a home network to backup to; risk of single disk failure
RAID NAS Drive Medium * $$ On Site Low Central location for everyone on a home network to backup to; risk should the location catch fire, etc.
Free Cloud Offerings Medium * Cloud Low Space is typically limited; very little options in syncing files
Paid Cloud Offerings Medium * $$$ Cloud Low Best compromise  of accessibility, speed, risk and flexibility; Most expensive option long term

Some terminology while we’re here:

NAS = Network Attached Storage; think of it like a portable hard drive that you can put in your home network and anyone on your network can see it

RAID = Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks; most home PCs have one hard drive. if that fails then it’s game over. Some PCs are configured to allow other hard drives to be added which mirror the main hard drive. This doesn’t increase your hard drive space – instead, if the main hard drive fails, you have at least one disk with a backup of your data which you can run from. To read more about RAID, check this wiki article out.

Backing up isn’t just once and done

Backups typically are one of three types. When you are looking to backup your files, you might want to think about using backup software to help automate it, and so you’ll need to consider the following

  • Full – A complete backup of all files is taken each time
  • Incremental – A full backup is taken and then only changes are backed up after that point, resulting in multiple incremental sets of backups
  • Differential – A full backup is taken and then only changes are taken; each time a backup occurs it overwrites the last differential backup and takes all files updated since the full backup. This results in only two backup files being present at any one time.

Many backup services offer a variety of these. To me, differential seems the one I’d pick because in the event of a disk failure, I’m only having to work with two files, otherwise I’m maintaining many files with incremental (unless I’m on the ball with when I do a full backup).

The Need for Speed

When you’re backing up gigabytes of files you want it to happen fairly quickly – if you’re using something like a DVD or slow internet connection it’s going to take a while. That could be a PITA.

What’s the best option for me?

Generally using Cloud for backups is the best compromise – if all you’re doing is backing up and don’t want others to have access to the files. Otherwise, a NAS RAID drive might suit better. Both have pros and cons – think about speed, access, cost and finally – if you’re house were to catch on fire, would you save your RAID NAS drive?

Here’s a comparison of Cloud services to consider. Carbonite, Mozy and Backblaze are typically the most popular premium services, so also check out this.

What about my cell / mobile phone backups?

iPhones have iCloud and iTunes to help with that. You can sync your files to either / both and take care of it.

Android has a slightly different set of options; You can sync your contacts and pictures with Google directly (including Google Picassa) or you can buy some of the apps out there for it. TechHive has a great article on this very topic.

Conclusion

We all need to consider our backup strategy – and have one in place. It also goes hand in hand with being able to organise your files so that if you need to refer back to them, you can. How many times have you seen the folder “DCIM” with image names such as “IMAGE0012.JPG”? Technology still has to solve the ability to catalogue digital images effectively!

So, what do you use for backups?

Top Reasons for and against XBox Live Gold

Xbox Live logo since 2005
Image via Wikipedia

If you are like me and own an XBox 360 then chances are you either have currently, or have considered signing up to XBox Live Gold. As a recap, XBox Live is a service provided by Microsoft to enable you to connect with others, both socially and in games as well as consume other services like Netflix or Hulu. Microsoft has taken the humble games console and is (iteratively) changing it into a home entertainment service.

There are two flavours of XBox Live; Silver and Gold, with USD$0.00 and USD$50.00 price tags respectively. So why would you pay the premium for Gold?

Reasons For XBox Live Gold

  • It provides a more reliable network / service than the equivilant Sony PS3 network (applies to both Silver and Gold)
  • It integrates Netflix, Hulu and ESPN (and will also integrate other services such as Comcast Xfinity) – watch content through your XBox!
  • It provides a social connection to your other friends – particularly if you all have Kinect, where you can video chat also

Reasons Against XBox Live Gold

  • Pay to access the applications for Netflix, Hulu etc – then pay again for each service! Sony and Apple provide the apps for free!
  • The member exclusives are generally not great (in my experience)
  • Video chat? I’ll stick with one of the myriad of other options elsewhere (Skype, Facebook Connect, Google Hangouts) – they’re free!
  • Pay for multiplayer ability? Again, Sony offers this for free
  • Listen to personalised music using Zune Music Pass? How about Spotify, Pandora, or countless other music services, many of which have a free option

So should you buy XBL Gold?

Regretfully yes; even if you don’t indulge in multiplayer, Microsoft offer other services which make things convenient (a one-stop-shop), even if you do have to pay for third party services (again) such as Hulu. Also consider that the premium pays towards security of their network and the services they can offer – Sony has had far more issues with the PSN network (e.g. multiplayer gaming “lag”, security breaches, etc).

There are some ways to reduce the cost of XBLG – I use Amazon and typically save $7 – $10 on the cost of an annual subscription

Extra Tip

Don’t sign up your credit card – once MS have it, it’s very hard to remove it (you have to call customer services), otherwise the renewals are automatic.

Adobe and the future of Flex

On the 15th November 2011, Adobe effectively announced that it no longer saw Flex as a long term going concern and would push it into the community/open-source domain (semantics aside), as it realized that HTML5 combined with comprehensive Javascript libraries such as JQuery were the future. There was mixed reaction from the Flex community, covering both positives and negatives of this announcement, but after the dust has settled what does this really mean for Flex, Adobe and the community?

It’s a beautifully ugly thing

I’ve always had mixed feelings about Flex as a platform; on one hand I found the to be much elegance and simplicity of the architecture – XML for layout; Javascript-u-like for code seemed a fantastic approach, particularly as it opened up the possibility of writing your own Flex app without the need of a $$IDE. However the delivery through what is basically a Flash container always concerned me as it limited the available platforms (no need to rehash why Flash/Flex doesn’t run native on Apple mobile devices).

So Moving Off Flex Is Good?

Strategically speaking this is the right move for Adobe; Using HTML5 + JS….

  • Removes the run-time dependencies of Flash
  • Creates a wider base of developer community
  • Standardises on technology/architecture
  • Adds more pressure on the less compliant browsers to man-up (Internet Explorer – why are you even still here?!?)
  • Allows touch-capable mobile devices able to consume applications

However there are still challenges:

  • We’re back to the browser inconsistency world; implementation of HTML5 is not standard across all browsers
  • There isn’t yet one “go-to” Javascript framework implementation or standard

So there are still a few key open issues that need to be solved, buying Adobe some time to continue to support Flex with a view to moving folks to the next big platform. Once could argue that there needn’t be one Javascript framework as we’ve all managed fine for some time – but to have a reference implementation that is open and standard (as possible) would be a great thing.

Should Adobe Acquire?

If I was Adobe I would be deep in discussion already with the likes of the folks who make JQuery, mooTools, 960Grid, etc. with a view to acquisition. These Javascript frameworks have built a reputation of quality and capability which has made many developers lives so much easier.

JQuery would undoubtedly be everyone’s first choice as it has gained popularity in the community and has many extensible attributes and add-ons covering both User Interface elements and mobile device support. However, I cannot pass up an opportunity to mention and often overlooked framework which came out around the same time as JQuery and in my personal opinion, has a some architectural advantages (though cool architectures don’t always make happy users) …. I refer to MooTools. You can draw many parallels between mooTools and JQuery, although the former takes a hit in terms of adoption. There are many “versus” articles out there (here, here, here) for you to make up your own mind. I speculate JQuery will win if only for popularity.

Adobe did try their own framework of sorts (Spry) with limited success; partnering with a JS Framework might be a good first step, but without acquisition or co-ownership they lose control of the roadmap. Producing their own framework might be a bit late in the game, so it stands to reason that obtaining a popular and well supported framework such as JQuery with its’ vast community would be the best thing to do.

So What’s Next?

I foresee a roadmap to a new Adobe application which will allow the creation of HTML5 applications in replacement of the Flex Builder product. It will be a hybrid that takes MXML (layout/UI) and ActionScript (action / code)  and (somehow) compiled /assembled into an HTML5 app. We’re likely to see an announcement over the coming months.

Fix: DroidX won’t show characters in a text / SMS message

If you own a DroidX then this might happen to you with the current implementation of the Moto/Google software; when you’re typing a text message, the screen will either not update, appear incorrect or if you’re typing away and the on-screen keyboard goes away.

Having tried the official method of going through Verizon support which resulted in a new (refurbed) phone, only 3 weeks later for the same issue to recur, I realised this must be something else. The good news it is, and is easily fixed!

From your DroidX home screen….

  • Go to Settings > Applications > Manage Applications
  • Click on “All Applications”
  • Find “Multi-touch keyboard”
  • On the next screen, under the “Storage” section, click “Clear Data”
  • That should resolve the issue seen.