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Archive for the ‘Troubleshooting’ Category

Vista: Activation Crack

Posted by cascadehush on January 11, 2007

Permanently Activate Windows Vista by Skip Activation with Patched TimerStop.sys Crack » My Digital Life

Permanently Activate Windows Vista by Skip Activation with Patched TimerStop.sys Crack

Two very similar posts, one probably plagiarised from the other. Anyway, here they are, should you choose to attempt to bypass, postpone or otherwise circumvent activation in Vista.

Posted in Security, Troubleshooting, Vista | 2 Comments »

PC: Rip and watch, the only way to experience DVDs.

Posted by cascadehush on January 9, 2007

Hack Attack: One-click DVD rips – Lifehacker:

I love a good DVD as much as the next guy, but the whole optical media world has been on my shitlist lately. I’m sick of renting or Netflix-ing a DVD, getting an hour into it, then hitting the scratchety-skip zone that freezes up my DVD player and leaves me unable to finish my stories.

My solution to this problem is to rip every DVD I rent to my hard drive as soon as I get it. In my experience, a rip smooths over those un-renderable sections of the DVD without issue, so when I’m ready to watch the ripped DVD, it’s certain to be scratch and skip-free.

Same here. DVDs suck anyway. It’s bad enough you have to sit through the propaganda from distributors, but now you often get anti-piracy messages on rental DVDs.

I don’t want to be forced to wade through a few minutes of drivel. It’s kinda ironic that these things that are supposed to help alleviate piracy are the very things that force me to rip the DVD.

And of course, as Adam says in his post on Lifehacker, you often encounter read errors that bring your evening’s viewing to a halt.

None of this is fun. Watching DVDs is supposed to be entertainment.

About 4 times a year I watch an actual DVD, and I almost always regret it. Rip and watch, the only way to experience DVDs.

Posted in Media, Software, Troubleshooting, Windows XP | Leave a Comment »

XP: Finding and Installing Drivers, Part 1.1 – Via Motherboard Chipsets

Posted by cascadehush on January 8, 2007

N.B. This is a continuing series of articles about finding and installing drivers in the case that you either don’t have the original driver CD or choose not to use it. There is an introduction to this series as well as an section introduction about Motherboard Chipset.

VIA Technologies, Inc, without a doubt, have the best motherboard driver package. I can’t say whether they are the best chipsets, though most of my PCs have Via chipsets. I find them a nice balance between cost and performance.

4 in 1 Driver
The older motherboard driver package was and is called the ‘4 in 1 Driver’. It is recommended for systems more than about 3 or 4 years old. Personally I have had good results with this driver on quite old systems running Win98; so don’t feel compelled to track down motherboard specific drivers for some ancient hardware if you have already identified it has a Via chipset.

The 4 in 1 driver contains the following drivers

  • AGP VxD; necessary for proper operation of an AGP Graphics Card
  • ATAPI Driver for smoother running of your IDE device.
  • The ‘INF’ driver which sets up the power management
  • The PCI IRQ Miniport Driver, which is only necessary and only installs on Win98, to fix IRQ routing.
  • For NT only, the VIA IDE Bus Mastering driver. This is the only driver installed on NT.

The package runs on any version of Windows from 95 to XP (32 bit only) and is smart enough to know which are the appropriate drivers for your hardware and OS.

The current version is 4.43 and was released on 25 October 2001. Don’t let its age fool you. It is a stable, mature driver set. Download the Via 4-in-1 Driver

Hyperion Pro
Sounds impressive. Well, perhaps not. But this is the name for the current package of drivers. I guess the name 4 in 1 was getting a bit silly since there were 5 drivers included, of which you would get 1, 3 or 4 drivers depending on your OS.

The Hyperion package include similar but updated drivers to what is in the 4 in 1 package, with the important addition of the SATA drivers. As of this writing the latest version is 5.10a which was released on the 8 September 2006.

The Hyperion package is for Win98 through XP and Windows Server 2003. Both 32 bit and 64 bit versions, where appropriate, are included. As with the 4 in 1 package, the installer is smart enough to know what drivers are required.

You can download both the Hyperion and 4 in 1 drivers from VIA Arena.

A Note about RAID Utilities
Now here is a fact worth noting. Many SATA drivers give you the option of installing just the driver, or the driver plus the RAID utility. I recommend that you DONT install the utility, just the driver.

The RAID utility is not necessary, and is usually just another annoying taskbar icon.

If you have a Raid 1 or 5 array where a drive fails, you usually have to go into the BIOS or RAID BIOS to run a utility to re-build the array. (after replacing the faulty drive, of course). Whilst the array is being rebuilt you can’t use the PC, but it is the quickest way to re-build the array.

However, with the utility installed you can rebuild the array inside Windows, which means you can still use the PC whilst the utility re-builds the array. Your PC will probably be slow, and the array will likely take all day (maybe all night as well) but at least you have access to your email and play Freecell.

So if you really, really, must rebuild the array with Windows loaded, install the utility then, and not before. The uninstall it when you are done, or at least remove it from the line-up of programs that run whenever you start Windows.

Posted in Drivers, Hardware, PC, Troubleshooting, Win9x, Windows XP | 9 Comments »

Hardware: Digital V6 KVM over IP

Posted by cascadehush on January 2, 2007

Digital V6 – The Engine of Innovation:

Kaveman is a revolutionary remote server management tool to remotely control servers, either over the Internet or your local network. Kaveman fully emulates a screen, keyboard and mouse, giving the user complete control over the attached computer.

I have no clue why the idiots who created this website can’t just use normal english.

This box is a single port KVM to remotely control any PC or Mac over a network using VNC. The would get a lot more hits from googlers if they’d use language like that.

There is nothing revolutionary about this device, it seems like a no-brainer to me. The focus on server management seems shortsighted. Any server should already have remote management in software. Of course KVM stuff is usually considered high end and is often ridiculously overpriced given that there are quite good, often free, software alternatives.

As a PC tech I regularly wish for a plug and play means to remotely control a PC temporarily. This would appear to be the answer. It’s a pity that it’s just too expensive.

Intel are introducing vPro which will build this type of thing into the motherboard. This would be nice, except I’m not a fan of Intel chipsets, and don’t like intel motherboards. Plus there are the security implications. Having your PC open to remote control even when it is switched off, before the OS is loaded, even being able to change BIOS settings… I don’t like it.

What would be nice is a cheap KVMoIP device that us techs could use day-to-day. Surely someone could manage that. Perhaps someone has, let me know if you find one.

Posted in Hardware, Opinion, OSX, PC, Security, Troubleshooting | 3 Comments »

PC: BIOS Guides

Posted by cascadehush on October 20, 2006

Here are a couple of good reference guides, if you are trying to decifer the often convoluted world of your PCs BIOS.

BIOS from A to Z – Tom’s Hardware
The Definitive BIOS Optimization Guide

Posted in Hardware, PC, Troubleshooting | Leave a Comment »

XP: Automatic Updates Warning

Posted by cascadehush on October 20, 2006

Microsoft has started including modem and LAN drivers are part of their automatic updates. Getting drivers from Windows Update has always been a very dodgy practice. Now it seems microsoft want to foist driver updates on users.

Modem drivers are especially tenuous, never change a driver if you have a working dial-up modem. LAN drivers should be less of a problem. I wonder how long it will be before tech support lines start getting floods of call from irate users who’s hardware suddenly stops working.

If you have Automatic Updates in XP switched to automatically install, now is as good a time as any to turn it off. I suggest you switch it to automatically download, but not install. Then you have a choice what goes on your machine.

N.B. It is possible that other drivers have been included in this new update policy, but so far I have only seen Modem and LAN drivers.

Posted in Hardware, PC, Troubleshooting, Windows XP | Leave a Comment »

XP: Get a new XP Key

Posted by cascadehush on October 20, 2006

Here is an insider secret. It is possible to get a new Windows key if your sticker is lost or damaged.

You have to call Microsoft on the technical support number for your country. You have to convince them that you have a legitimate copy of Windows. They may ask for a partial key or some details from your Windows CD. I know 2 people who have pulled this off successfully.

So if you have an old PC that dies and you can’t re-load it because the key is missing, there is hope.

Posted in Troubleshooting, Windows XP | Leave a Comment »

Win9x: Remove the login prompt

Posted by cascadehush on October 19, 2006

If you ever reloaded an old Windows 98 box, you know how annoying the little login box can be. Windows will tell you that if you leave the password blank that the logon box will go away, but this is a lie, it never does. Even if you are cluey enough to change the Windows Logon settings in the Network Settings, you’ll still find that annoying box still won’t go away. When you read Microsoft’s instructions on how to prevent the logon prompt you’ll see just how convoluted a process it is. No wonder that stubborn little box is so hard to suppress.

What is so appalling about this is that this bug was carried over from Windows 95 up to Windows ME.

N.B When you follow the instructions linked to above, you will get the logon prompt the next time you boot, only this time, when you leave the password blank, Windows actually does what it says it will, and never ask for a password again

Posted in PC, Troubleshooting, Win9x | Leave a Comment »

OSX: My Noisy Mac Mini

Posted by cascadehush on October 17, 2006

I have a Mac Mini. It’s one of the original PPC models, bought directly from Apple online. I had to pay for the memory upgrade from 256M to 512M (Sounds like ancient history) but it was one of the more reasonably priced options. About 2 weeks after I got it Apple decided to include 512M as standard. Such is life. It was my first Mac.

Anyway, the little beasty is quite noisy now that it is a little over a year old. The fan noise has been a little irritating for awhile but now it’s at the point where it sounds louder than a 3 year old desktop P4 PC. I am going to have to bite the bullet and open the case and clear out the dust. I do this with PCs all day long, but they have a handy feature called a screw, and you use this fantastic invention called a screwdriver. In combination these allow easy access to the inside of the case. Not so with the Mac Mini.

Smash World has managed to get the Technical Disassembly Documentation and a Disassembly Video both of which appear to have been leaked from Apple.

Some other articles of interest:

Macworld: Editors’ Notes: The Mac mini: Inside and Out:

The big question on many prospective Mac mini buyers’ minds is, “How easy is it to upgrade the RAM?”

Mac Mini Hacks :: View topic – Opening Mac Mini without Putty Knife:

loop the wire around the tab pull up securely until you hear the snap, the wire will be properly logged releasing the tab. Do this to all of the tabs.

I’ll be taking my own pictures, for whatever that is worth, so you’ll all get to see how it goes.

Posted in Hardware, OSX, Troubleshooting | Leave a Comment »

XP: Converting filesystems.

Posted by cascadehush on October 5, 2006

How to Convert FAT Disks to NTFS:

You can convert a FAT or FAT32 volume to an NTFS volume without formatting the volume, though it is still a good idea to back up your data before you convert.

Once you know how, it is easy to convert a FAT32 filesystem to NTFS.  If you ever have to restore an older  system from a recovery CD/partitionr, you will often end up with a FAT32 boot partition.  Some laptops currently still ship with FAT32 partitions by default.  As this article explains, XP has a utility to do the conversion without the need for a reformat, or 3rd party utilities.

Posted in PC, Troubleshooting, Windows XP | Leave a Comment »