New tech Book by a Former Dayton Native and Friend

Windows Performance Analysis Field Guide is available on Amazon for pre-order right now.

Root your Asus HD7 Now

I couldn't find complete, straight-forward instructions for rooting my new Asus tablet, so I wrote this article.

Excellent Instructions for Using a Raspberry Pi as a Web Kiosk

I wrote this article as a result of not being able to find clear instructions on who to lock down a web kiosk I built with a Raspberry Pi computer. Learn from my Experience.

ICVerify: All your Woes Easily Solved

This is an explaination of how I cured myself of the ICVerify blues.

10 Must Know Topics for Using PowerPoint as Digital Signage

Learn from my years of usng PowerPoint as Inexpensive Digital Signage. Must Know Topics!

ICVerify “Cannot Start Program” error and Set File

Tutorial on fixing Cannot Start Program Error in ICVerify 4.

7/7/10

Lessons Learned with a Toshiba Satellite Laptop: 10-FC12-0017 error

Sometimes repairs stop being about a quick fix and become a vendetta. This is one of those instances.

Recently, a Toshiba Satellite L305 was given to me for repair. The OS had been accidentally removed, but the person had the Vista 32-bit recovery disks. I figured no problem, I can do this in a hour.  Well, the recovery went find until disk 2 went into the recovery process and hit about 30%. I received a 10-FC12-0017 error.  A search of the net found nexperts (net experts) divided between bad recovery disks or bad hard drive.

The hard drive wasn’t acting or sounding bad. Plus ,my friend had said the only reason she ran the recovery disks originally was because the touchpad wasn’t working. It’s ok to laugh. I assumed the HDD was fine since she didn’t complain of operating issues.  So I figured it was the recovery DVD’s, as they had some serious scratches on them even after I cleaned them.

The L305 had a 64-bit processor so I figured, let me try my OEM 64-bit Vista disk.  It actually installed fine with no errors.  However, I had no valid product code and the product key on the bottom wasn’t validating.  So I knew I had to use the recovery disks.

Toshiba has quite a racket with these recovery disks. It’s $25 for a new set. I wasn’t about to go that route. 

I booted freedos off a CD and made sure all the partitions on the drive wiped before attempting a new recovery, With a raw drive, I attempted the recovery again, using the recovery disk to setup the partitions. It failed again.

At this point I was frustrated. I also think Vista sucks. I re-wiped the drive with freedos and attempted an install of windows 7 32-bit. It is what I had laying around. It failed with a “cannot install on this hardware error.”

At this point I knew something was up. I then ran CHKDSK on the drive and it took damn near 8 hours to complete.  I ran the recovery and it failed again.

So extremely frustrated, I put a spare SATA drive in it, and ran the Vista recovery disks. 

After about 14 hours of attempted recovery, the OS came to life.  So error 10-FC12-0017 on a Toshiba recovery, is a bad hard disk.  Save yourself the trouble and just replace the HDD.

What is most frustrating about this is the touchpad never did work, it was bad. The owner opted for an external mouse instead of paying to fix it.  It didn’t work during the recovery. That should have been my clue that more hardware (like the HDD) could be damaged.

And that is one of the lessons I learned.  The other lesson is, check the disk before running a recovery (something I normally do anyway for computers I don’t know the drive’s history).  The third lesson is never detour from your usual practices because you are doing a favor for someone.

I hope someone finds this helpful.

Also, if you aren’t reading this at http://beavmetal.blogspot.com, you should be.

 

5/3/10

Download Youtube(and other) videos and batch convert them to mp3

This is a quick article on how to download videos from youtube (or any other supported site) and batch convert them into mp3 files.

First, how do you get the videos downloaded from youtube? I use the software from http://www.downloadhelper.net/   . It is a Firefox plug in.  Unfortunately, I have not found a Chrome equal.  SO I used Firefox for this task.

Using Download Helper, you just select download from its toolbar when you find your desired video.  You can select between flv and m4p file types.  I choose flv as personal preference.

Now the real reason for writing this, step 2: converting the video to a mp3.  I spent a portion of today trying out freeware that is supposed to do this easy task.  It all pretty much angered me.  Let me tell you what I tried so you don't go down the same path:

Freez FLV to MP3 - Not Free, can use once before getting a registration prompt. If you don't register, the program closes.  It also wouldn't batch encode more than 30 items.
FLV2MP3.org - It kept giving me 0 byte mp3 files.
A file from richapps.de: It wasn't a batch converter.

The program I ended up using, was VideoLan player.  It is an absolute favorite program of mine. There is no batch conversion feature of VideoLan.  However, a quick and dirty BAT file will do the trick.  I found the following code on the videolan help wiki and changed it for flv files.

Create your BAT file (How to create a bat file) in the top most directory where you downloaded your FLV files.  I plan to use this frequently so I called mine vlanFLV2mp3.BAT. It will convert all the files in that directory and in all the sub-directories below it. For instance, if you downloaded the flv files into C:\Documents and Settings\MYPC\Desktop\FLV and then have sub-directories of musical artists, you would want the BAT file in that top ..\Desktop\FLV directory.


Here is the code you need to past into the BAT file:

@ECHO OFF
REM ########################################################################
REM # A Windows XP cmd.com script to batch convert flv files to mp3. #
REM # #
REM # Copyright (C) 2008 Andrew Boden #
REM # (boden@graduate.uwa.edu.au) #
REM # #
REM # This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify #
REM # it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by #
REM # the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or #
REM # (at your option) any later version. #
REM # #
REM # This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, #
REM # but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of #
REM # MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the #
REM # GNU General Public License for more details. #
REM # #
REM # You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License #
REM # along with this program. If not, see .#
REM # #
REM # Version 1.0 (June 27th 2008) #
REM # Uses VideoLAN VLC 0.8.6h (www.videolan.org) #
REM # Gracefully handles commas and apostrophes in file names. #
REM # Not aware of any other characters needing graceful handling. #
REM # 512kbps encoding with 44100 sampling. #
REM ########################################################################

@ECHO OFF
FOR /R %%G IN (*.flv) DO (CALL :SUB_VLC "%%G")
FOR /R %%G IN (*.flv.mp*) DO (CALL :SUB_RENAME "%%G")
GOTO :eof

:SUB_VLC
SET _firstbit=%1
SET _qt="
CALL SET _newnm=%%_firstbit:%_qt%=%%
SET _commanm=%_newnm:,=_COMMA_%
REM echo %_commanm%
CALL "C:\Program Files\VideoLAN\VLC\vlc" -I dummy -vvv %1 --sout=#transcode{acodec="mp3",ab="512","channels=2"}:standard{access="file",mux="raw",dst="%_commanm%.mp3"} vlc://quit
GOTO :eof

:SUB_RENAME
SET _origfnm=%1
SET _endbit=%_origfnm:*.flv=%
CALL SET _newfilenm=%%_origfnm:.flv%_endbit%=.mp3%%
SET _newfilenm=%_newfilenm:_COMMA_=,%
COPY %1 %_newfilenm%
DEL %1
GOTO :eof

:eof


This is the original code, it might be easier to copy.  Remember to change m4a to flv if using the linked code.


If you already have all of the software, it isan easy 2 step process. 1: download all the videos you want. 2: run the bat file.

4/21/10

ICVERIFY 4.0 - user manager - admin password issues

I am posting this because I couldn't find a solution to the problem online while I was working with ICVERIFY 4.0.  It is a relatively dated program used to process credit cards.  Basically it is just a GUI on top of a few SQL databases.

In the past, if some one changed or lost the admin password to the user manager and forgot it, deleting the UserDB files from the SQL directory and reinstalling the app cured the problem.

However, yesterday, I was doing a new install on a XP machine. I choose a custom user name and password for ICVERIFY, as is an option, then completed the install.  When I went to open ICVERIFY, it thew back an error saying invalid user name password. After making sure I wasn't making a typo, I tried the default password and it didn't work.  Neither password would let me into User Manager either.

So I did as above, deleted the database files, uninstalled user manager, rebooted, then reinstalled. I tried to let it use the default login info this time.  I kept getting errors saying invalid login basically.

There was a great deal of trial and error after that.  I won't go into it.  However, my fix is the following: Uninstall ICVerify, User Manager, and the MSDE.  Go into Windows Explorer and delete the ICverify data, and the SQL data.  Use Regedit, to remove any instance of ICVERIFY, UserDB, and the SQL path.

Now, I was using a user account that was set as a local admin.  But after removing all that info, I went into my actual local admin account and reinstalled everything.  Worked fine for all users on the machine after that.

Last note, don't bother with calling their tech support line anymore.  I called today and once about 3 years ago.  Prior to today, I got a English speaking person who was well acquainted with the software and solved my problem quite quick. Today, the tech support number got me to what was obviously a 3rd party, English as a second language shop. Dude actually made it worse poking around turning off services and crap.  When he couldn't solve the problem, he gave me the "Oh you don't have a 2nd tier support contract, please buy one to continue" speech.

Anyway, I hope this helps someone out there.

3/19/10

Anyone Else addicted to Territory War Online?

The game Territory War Online is a simple turn based stick figure assault. You build your team very simply by picking names and hats. Then you play against other people worldwide while trying to eliminate their stick figure team first. It amuses me greatly.  Anyone else play? What's your handle?

3/10/10

Cincinnati Bell Wireless (CBW) Comes through again

Hopefully, you read my post from early this morning about the issues I was having with my phone, CBW, and their insurance.

The phone issue has been resolved by some very diligent CBW employees. The beginning of the resolution comes quite abnormally.

This morning I received a comment on my previous CBW blog post from a CBW rep named Katie asking me to contact her via email. After verifying the email was valid and not a scam, I emailed her my phone number.

Two hours later the manager, Kent, from the Fairfield Commons CBW store called me to find a solution. He was quite helpful, friendly, and knowledgeable. He offered to replace my phone on a tiered pricing scale. That means I was given the choice of a nice discount on the 2 better models and offered the most similar model at no cost. I decided to go with the 8520 Blackberry (no cost) as I really just wanted my 8320 replaced. I certainly tried to justify my price of the newest model, but ultimately sided with the more financially practical.

I went to the store to pick up the phone and everything was ready for me. The employee, Shaun, was also friendly and professional. Since I didn't need my data copied, I was out of there in 3 minutes.

And this is why I always recommend CBW. It is this high level of service that always leaves me smiling. Aside from the initial snafu, CBW has always made sure I felt appreciated as a customer. And as a long time customer, I can say that I have never had a problem with their network coverage.

That is saying a lot as I have had issues with TMobile, Verizon, and AT&T (a long time ago). Furthermore, I used to work for Sprint, so I know they blow.

Lastly, another commentor suggested I wasn't aware of how the insurance worked. Quite the opposite actually. Granted I was more familiar with Sprint's insurance (their TEP is pretty good), but my issue was expecting to much from what is not a Total equipment protection plan. The insurance I HAD was basically a discount plan. I am also very familiar with equipment warranties. As a technology contractor, I deal with them frequently. The problem with dealing directly with the manufacturer is that they are usually intentionally slow. It forces you to buy a replacement.

Anyway, I am a happy CBW customer again. Thanks everyone

If you aren't reading this at http://beavmetal.blogspot.com, you should be.

3/6/10

iPad Killer from Microsoft

3/5/10

Myspace blocks shortened URL's and blogspot...wtf?

I just checked my myspace account to verify my links are going through.  They are not.  All the other sites I auto-update are working fine as far as I know.  I want to apologize for the slew of broken links and false malicious site warnings.

However, I have come to learn that myspace blocks all shortened URL's such at bit.ly.  That is very annoying. Myspace claims it is because spammers were abusing the service, but I think it is to force people to log on to the actual site to update statuses.  It also doesn't allow http://beavmetal.blogspot.com or other blogspot addresses. Which is even more annoying. Ihaven't found or received a good reason for this. It says it is a malicious website which is false. What is the point of using a social service that doesn't let me share my work?  I am coming to find Myspace even more anti-social than Facebook.

The way I update my accounts to let you know I posted a blog post consists of 3 steps. First, I post the actual blog. Then twitterfeed.com parses my RSS feed and sends it to ping.fm. Ping.fm then sends a message to all my social networking services stating a blog has been posted, so you can see them.

I would like very much if I could turn off link shortening in twitterfeed, but we can't, so I have to deal. I have changed from bit.ly to digg. So we will see if myspace blocks that one too.

2/22/10

Defining difference between Windows users & Mac users, funny.

This was also awesomely funny and must be shared.
http://www.makeuseof.com/tech-fun/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/macvswindowsuser.jpg


The original source is here. Click on picture to view complete pic.
If you aren't reading this at http://beavmetal.blogspot.com, you should be.

Pirated DVD vs Legal DVD, Funny

I got a kick out of this and wanted to share.

http://www.makeuseof.com/tech-fun/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/pirateddvd1.png
Original source is here. Click on the image to be able to view the whole thing.
If you aren't reading this at http://beavmetal.blogspot.com, you should be.

2/13/10

I love Google Analytics

I'm a techie and understand that every IP address is traceable.  While I understand how Google Analytics works, I still get a huge kick out of the map overlay section. I love that it can tell me down to the city the originating locale of my traffic. Since I am a very small little blog, I can definitely tell which friends are reading and which aren't.  Some location aren't surprising (like Dayton/Springfield), some locations are quite a surprise. I've gotten hits in California from San Francisco to LA. I only have like 3 friends in CA and one that I know specifically is in LA (Hi Amy). Thanks for the love Southern half of CA. I've even started getting more foreign hits. Germany, India, China, etc; of course those may be the same locations that spammed me the other day.

Furthermore, I find the referring sites section extremely interesting. I have gotten a couple of surprises there. A nice web design site called CSSMania.com has sent me some traffic.  I haven't figured out why yet as I don't see any links to my blog or anything.  Regardless, thanks :)

I wanted to write this to let Google know I appreciate their tools.  They have taken quite a beating in the media about their Google Buzz social networking app. While I haven't used it but for 2 seconds, I still love Gmail, Google Docs, Analytics, Reader, and Blogger.  I am also looking forward to seeing how Google works out the whole book scanning, giant digital library scheme. That should be cool.

2/10/10

Before you buy an iPad, this is how much the mark-up is on each

http://www.isuppli.com/News/Pages/Mid-RangeiPadtoGenerateMaximumProfitsforApple,iSuppliEstimates.aspx

Not a bad profit for Apple huh?
http://www.isuppli.com/PublishingImages/Press%20Releases/2010-02-10_Apple%20iPad.jpg
http://www.isuppli.com/PublishingImages/Press%20Releases/2010-02-10_Apple%20iPad.jpg

2/9/10

Stop 11 Hidden Security Threats

Stop 11 Hidden Security Threats

Highlights of Good Ideas from this Article:
-Unshorten Shortened URLs
-Watch your Privacy Online
-Careful of Adware, Scareware, Malware, etc
-Be wary of unsolicited text messages
-Protect your laptop in case it is lost Stolen
-Not all wi-fi signals are your friend
-Backup your damn data

See I shorted it to 7 good points for you ;)

Virus Comes Back From Dead to Hit Hard Drives - CIO.com - Business Technology Leadership

Virus Comes Back From Dead to Hit Hard Drives - CIO.com - Business Technology Leadership:

Quick highlights:
-Old Virus used as prank, escaped into the wild
-Travels via USB drives and infected web sites
-Wipes MBR (Master Boot Record) Rendering drive useless to general users.
-Another good reason to run Anti-virus (Avast or AVG) and Spyware (Spybot or Ad-Aware).

2/7/10

Cross Posting social networks part 2: Lessons Learned

So I've learned a few things about cross posting to multiple social networking services.  Last time I wrote about cross posting I billed Windows Live Writer with the xPollinate add-in as a cure all.

Well that methodology left me with a bunch of duplicate posts and I was only able to update my blog from the 1 PC I had installed Live Writer on.  Don't get me wrong, Live Writer is a good app, but I use multiple computers and prefer to work in the cloud.

I have been tweaking my various social networking sites trying to figure out the best method (with the least effort) to update all my social networking sites at once, with out duplicates, with little to no intervention on my part except an initial blog post or status update.

Here is the configuration I finally came up with.

  1. Post new content to Blogspot (using Blog This bookmarklet in Chrome, Send To in Google Reader, the Blogspot website, or via Email). 
  2. After configuration twitterfeed.com will post RSS feeds from Blogspot to a designated spot. 
    1. I set up a separate feed to ping.fm for micro-blogs and blogs. I deleted the one I had setup for Statuses as it was giving me double posts.
  3. Ping.fm is an option on twitterfeed, so I used it to notify all my social sites of a new blog post.
    1. I had to turn blogger (aka blogspot) off in ping.fm, so that when I update my status via SMS, I don't get double posts when twitterfeed updates from blogspot.
I'm always toying with this stuff, so I will write an update if I find a better way to cross post.

Hackers Wield Newest IE Exploit in Drive-By Attacks - CIO.com - Business Technology Leadership

This is for those people who have no head about this already. Scary stuff. If you are using Internet Explorer version 6. You need to upgrade immediately. Check out the article for details: Hackers Wield Newest IE Exploit in Drive-By Attacks - CIO.com - Business Technology Leadership You can get the newest IE version here. Personally, I haven't used IE in a long time. I have been migrating from Firefox to Chrome here lately. Chrome seems to run much faster then Firefox. However, the add-on extensions for Chrome just aren't there yet. If you are used to IE, Firefox will seem like a race car. If you switch to Chrome for IE, Chrome will feel like a rocket ship.

1/28/10

How to get Latex Paint out of jeans: Even if it has dried on for a week.

I managed to get latex paint on one of my favorite pairs of Jeans 2 weeks ago.  I tried washing them in cold and hot water.  I also tried putting stain remover and oxyclean on the stains. I washed them like 5 times.  The stains remained.  I thought my favorite jeans were ruined,
Then I used wisdom I found via Google.  Apply rubbing alcohol and rub the stain with a medium stiff brush or tooth brush,  The rubbing alcohol took the paint right off,  I washed the jeans one last time and they came out paint free.
I also wanted to share this pic I found on the net :)

Rewiring a new wireless Doorbell to an existing but bigger doorbell speaker

I recently purchased a wireless doorbell from Wallyworld.  I should have been more careful about picking one out.  I bought the 2nd cheapest one available,

I could’ve swore I bought one that had the speaker that plugs into a standard wall outlet and the doorbell buttons were wireless.  Apparently, I did not.  I have one that runs on batteries.

I got it all loaded with batteries and was met with a moderately OK doorbell volume.  I figured it was good enough, but was frustrated it wasn’t louder. 

When I went to mount it, I started to remove the old doorbell, when I realized it was actually an alarm speaker that was wired to the home security system that came with the house.

Then I had a eureka moment. I removed the small speaker from the wireless doorbell, ran speaker wire out the front of it, and spliced it into the speaker that was already mounted to the wall.  I was able to hide the wireless doorbell box behind the wall where the original speaker was mounted.

So I now have a damn loud wireless doorbell for the price of a good sized meal at Wendy’s :)

It does still run off batteries, but when I have some extra time, I may see if the home security system will power it.

If I get really motivated, I may wire the doorbell into the surround sound system.  That way my nosey neighbors will be able to hear when someone rings the doorbell haha.

1/27/10

Crossposting Blogs: Blogger, LiveJournal, Tyepad, Wordpress, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Ping.fm

Today I am trying out Windows Live Writer after a long search to crosspost blogs and updates.  Those of you that know me, know I frequently use ping.fm to update my statuses across almost every service ping.fm supports (about 30 sites).  While it works great for status updates, I did not find it to be preferable for blogs.

My most current blogs have been on Myspace.  Nothing seems to work directly with Myspace’s blog.  That makes me sad.  However, Windows Live Writer does integrate with Blogger, LiveJournal, Typepad, Wordpress, and Ping.fm (via a plug-in called xPollinate).

Windows Live Writer (WLW) only updates a single blog at a time by default.  However, with xPollinate, it will update all blogs you are able to setup as accounts in WLW.

WLW is a WYSIWYG editor.  It allows you to insert hyperlinks, ordered and unordered lists, various fonts, etc.

Examples:

You can easily insert Photos from the desktop or web (respectively):

me

Video is no issue either:

 

 

Plug-ins let you easily integrate with Flickr, Picasa, or even maps (of my new place)

Map picture

 

As far as I know, it is only a desktop application.  I do not think it currently has a web version.  I see that as a small hindrance when compared to the amount of features available with the app.  Of course, being able to crosspost and update all my social sites at once is fan-freaking-tastic.

Thanks Microsoft.  Please update for Myspace. :)

 

While you are here, go checkout  

Also, checkout my