Monday, 18 November 2013
HP G62 laptop powers up but no display and fan is running

A family member had a problem with their HP G62 laptop not displaying anything on the screen. I naturally thought it was a user related error until further investigating. The WIFI indicator light was showing orange, the Caps Lock light was out and the hard disk wasn't doing anything. I found the trouble shooting steps for the laptop and went through them doing the following.

  • Test the memory by removing SIMMs one at a time
  • Checking the hard disk
  • Trying an external hard disk

But nothing worked and the usual check, the Caps Lock flashing light didn't display anything then I chanced on the following post on the HP website. The key piece of information here was that I think the BIOS had become corrupted. To solve the problem I did the following.

  • Remove all peripherals from the laptop
  • Remove power supply
  • Remove battery
  • Hold down the power button for 30 seconds (to drain any power from the laptop and hard reset it)
  • Then start up the laptop while holding down the Windows and B key together

Surprisingly the screen burst into life and the machine began to rebuild/reinstall the BIOS and suddenly worked! While doing so the caps lock light flashed several times.

I hope this helps someone.

posted on Monday, 18 November 2013 20:04:29 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [1]

 Tuesday, 26 July 2011
SkyDrive, I wish it had a guarantee

I have always been a big fan of Microsoft's SkyDrive and the Windows Live Mesh Service that bolts onto it for syncing all of your folders in "the cloud". One of the things I like about SkyDrive is the ability to map it as a network drive on your machine with relatively little trouble at all. If I am out and about I can access my SkyDrive documents from any web browser I can also edit my office documents online using the Web version of Office. Although I must point out that the web versions of office do have a few limitations when it comes to editing documents with shapes and images I have discovered.

image

If I install the Live Mesh client on my computer I can also access my computer from a web browser anywhere in the world, Live Mesh will also sync my browser favourites and my Office Templates for me and it will do all of the above mentioned for free!

I believe that Microsoft are great at releasing brilliant services although I don't feel they get quite the cult following they deserve as a service that would have been released by Google or Apple. Microsoft's approach always appears to be an "on going thing", when Google, Facebook or Apple launch something new it usually ends up on some major news websites not just the usual technical news services.

One thing Microsoft could make a bit more clear are some tutorials on some of Sky Drives features . By this I am referring to the features I mentioned at the top of this article. I am surprised that few people realise you can map a drive on your machine to SkyDrive and there is no little app that offers to do this or tutorial on the SkyDrive site (that I could find) that brings this into view. While the more tech savvy users don't mind "hacking" about for this information the less technically astute would probably be lost. Mapping a drive makes things so much easier when uploading pictures and files to SkyDrive in bulk it also make working on Office documents a lot easier.

I believe Microsoft should charge for even greater amounts of space on SkyDrive which is something they don't currently do. SkyDrive is currently capped at 25gigs.  I as a user of the service feel that for such a great service, how on earth are Microsoft paying for it? What's the catch? It can't be cheap maintaining the software and infrastructure for such a service and I really can't see how advertising can cover the service. I feel that because its a free service Microsoft could pull it when ever they wanted to if they don't feel its adding value. While I doubt they would, I feel that paying for the service enters me into a contract with them and some type of a guarantee?

Microsoft appear to be very good at "changing" and reinventing everything every few years or changing how services work which can be difficult for users who get used to having things working in a set way. If I wanted to use SkyDrive as my primary storage options for "everything" I'd pretty much want some assurances that it will always be there and that I can access it the same way in the future i.e. a virtual drive on any machine I use in future. If you look at the service agreement on Microsoft's website the following from point number 5 regarding "Your content" has the following paragraph in bold.

"You're responsible for backing up the data that you store on the service. If your service is suspended or canceled, we may permanently delete your data from our servers. We have no obligation to return data to you after the service is suspended or canceled. If data is stored with an expiration date, we may also delete the data as of that date. Data that is deleted may be irretrievable."

The above paragraph is just about the only thing that stops me from using SkyDrive in a serious capacity and makes me feel that the service is seen more as a convenient virtual pen drive that you can access from anywhere or share parts of it with friends than an actual long term storage solution or backup. Its aim appears to just make your data available "everywhere" through syncing maybe with Live Mesh (only 5gigs though) with the machines you use, but at the end of the day you still need to invest in a good old fashioned hard backup solution for "your stuff".

posted on Tuesday, 26 July 2011 11:52:24 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Friday, 29 May 2009
Sky to be available on Xbox 360

Well we all know it makes sense and a lot of you have said how it would be such a good idea to watch on demand TV on your Xbox 360. If you can see it on your PC why can't you see it easily on your games console which is actually connected to your TV? Well Microsoft and Sky have finally seen sense and quite soon Microsoft will be offering Sky content on the Xbox 360. If you look at how Sky delivers its current offering called Sky Anytime PC, they are using Microsoft's Silverlight technology while everyone else (BBC, Channel 4 and ITV) are using Adobe Flash.  As you can see Sky and Microsoft are quite compatible on the technology front.

While Sky Anytime PC is a good service they do not offer all of their channels live through the service. The majority of the content provided is a catch up service for missed TV episodes (not bad) and for Box Office Movies. It doesn't (and I could be wrong here) look as if Sky will be offering their flagship channel Sky One live through this service, it would be great if they did.  In the ideal world I would like to see everything that is offered via my satellite dish also offered over an IPTV service including on demand content.

It used to be possible to view Sky Player content on your Xbox 360 but only using a Windows XP or Windows Vista machine as a proxy hopefully this should change all of that.

posted on Friday, 29 May 2009 21:53:44 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Monday, 13 April 2009
Can’t see images on web pages using Vista?

My wife started to have problems seeing various web pages correctly on the Internet. For some reason these websites were not displaying images at all on any browser running on Vista. What made things even more confusing was they worked just fine on our XP and Mac machines.

The first one was PayPal where all of the images on the site didn't load. Because the site looked odd and she thought there may be a scam taking place she didn't want to log into the site. The second was not being able to see the images on the property website www.rightmove.co.uk.

The Problem

Being a tech savvy person I did all kinds of investigations and worked out that all of the sites she had problems with were making use of the Panther Content Delivery Network or PantherCDN for short (you can find out more here http://www.pantherexpress.net/).  Because these sites have so much traffic they make use of the services of Panther which specialises in distributing this content so you don't get the full load on your servers and the user gets a speedy service. However the one problem with the Panther network as I discovered appears to be an issue with IPv6 and I am not entirely sure why this is a problem. In Vista by default your machine may be setup with Teredo Tunnelling, this basically enables you to use IPv6 over IPv4 . For those not in the know, IPv6 is a protocol brought in to eventually replace IPv4. An IP address is used to identify yourself on the Internet, at the moment the version being used (since the Internet started) is running out of 'numbers' and hence the need for IPv6.

The Solution

So to cut a long story short I found I was able to view these sites again by disabling IPv6. You can do this by

  1. Going into Control Panel
  2. Select Network Connections
  3. Here you should see your network connection in most cases many people use a wireless network from home. Double click on your connection and in the box that appears select properties.
  4. You should see a list of connections properties find one called "Internet Protocol Version 6" and and deselect it.

    IPV6 

Once you have done this you can now click OK. Wait about 5 seconds and then try to view those web pages again. I would be interested to hear from anyone else having this problem. I wasn't able to find much help about this issue on the Internet when searching on Google, most people appeared to have the problem but were not able to solve it.

posted on Monday, 13 April 2009 11:06:41 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Sunday, 25 January 2009
My new laptop

Advent If you have read my previous article you would gather I've been looking around for some computer related bargains. A few weekends ago I picked up a Netbook, what is a "Netbook"? I hear you ask. A netbook is a new name given to a certain size of laptop. They are basically ultra portable laptops and because of their size they are usually only 10inchs wide. What is even better is that they are designed to use as little power as possible and as efficiently as possible using processors such as Intel's new Atom processor basically the smallest processor Intel have ever developed. You would have thought with such a processor that you would be limited to the likes of Windows Mobile PC or a cut down copy of Linux, but the Atom can support Windows XP! Now I know Windows XP is supposed to be on its way out (Microsoft said so!), but one thing the Atom processor does is run Windows XP incredibly well. It is the ideal operating system for such a machine which probably would have ground to a holt if Vista was installed. My larger more powerful work laptop usually does if I'm not careful! Although its worth noting that Microsoft are releasing a new version of Windows for netbooks, lets wait and see how good it is..

Anyway back to my Netbook. Its an Advent 4213 with built in 3G, web cam, 160gig hard disk (yes you heard right), built in SD card reader, bluetooth, wifi and1 gig of RAM. That's what neat little package, I thought the 1gig of RAM would have been an issue but the machine hardly uses any of the memory especially when using the likes of Internet Explorer, Remote Desktop and  Windows Live Mail. Granted the machine comes installed with IE6 which I am reluctant to upgrade based on the dire performance issues I have had with it on previous XP installs. The machine hibernates and restarts like a dream in under a minute which is pretty impressive. The built in webcam has excellent quality for Skype calls something this machine does very well. The most impressive feature and the main reason I bought the laptop was for its size (so I could use it on a crowded rush hour train) and the built in 3G modem. Using the 3G modem was simplicity itself, you plug your SIM card into the slot found under the battery compartment boot up and connect to the Internet with the preinstalled connection software. The only issues I have had has really been with the "3" 3G network when it goes down to 2G in low coverage areas. This lower coverage area is actually the Orange network which 3 have a contract with. The Orange 2G network is painfully slow I would imagine that they give 3 customers lower priority over their own customers. just a thought.

My Advent fulfils all of my needs so well that I have now left my work laptop at work because it is so heavy and just use my Advent to connect over VPN or to do work on the train.  

posted on Sunday, 25 January 2009 15:28:01 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

Dell Inspiron 1525 running slow with Vista

I purchased a Dell Inspiron 1525 some time ago with Windows Vista preinstalled for my wife. However after a year the machine was constantly maxing out its CPU. I tried everything, from installing all the Microsoft performance patches running virus scans and spy ware scans with every program I knew. I even searched Dell forums and installed the latest hardware drivers to make sure. I eventually installed Unbuntu Linux on the machine in dual boot mode to make sure it was not the machine causing the problem, and it wasn't the machines fault at all. Unbuntu barely used 5% cpu occasionally it would jump to 100% when using Firefox but other than that the machine was very usable.

The solution
So the problem must have been Vista, so I continued to monitor processes especially the svchost process and check what services this "catch all" windows service was running. Eventually I detected one that kept on coming up all the time was Windows Defender (MsMpEng.exe). I decided to disable Windows Defender by going into the control panel opening up Windows Defender selecting options and disabling it. Like magic the machine was down to 5% CPU usage! Opening FireFox, IE and Outlook only used short bursts of high CPU before bringing the CPU down to 10% to 34% usage. Which was far better than the 100% constant CPU usage.

The clash
One thing I did note though was that AVG anti virus and Windows Defender seem to be in a constant struggle with each other. Its as if Windows Defender checks a file then AVG goes who that file was touched let me just go and check it quickly and then Defender does the same which may have been causing a vicious circle of CPU usage. All I know now is that its better to be have some common sense when surfing the Internet and installing applications on your machine. Anti Virus software if you keep it up to date should be all you need to keep your machine safe. I know some people may require more protection for their machines but there is probably a better product than Windows Defender out there that doesn't stop you using your machine.

Process Tamer
Another program I have found to have been of great use to me is Process Tamer. This little app sits in the system tray and stops any one process on your machine from using more than 100% cpu usage.

I hope this little article is of use to people!

posted on Sunday, 25 January 2009 15:10:21 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Sunday, 04 January 2009
My PCWorld bargains

Its true if you shop and haggle on the high street you're bound to pickup a bargain especially concerning the current economic client the consumer has more power over price than they have ever had before.

Wandering around PCWorld my wife and I saw a real bargain of a PC in their clearance section.  This section isn't looked at much by the normal customer who is more attracted to the all dancing all dazzling display models. The clearance sections consists of ex display models or machines with missing bits all wrapped in bubble wrap. Usually these machines are identical to the display area but are missing box's, cables and software and discounted by as much as 50% in some cases. We found one such example with one of PCWorlds own brand PC's which usually retail for £220 but had been discounted to £185 because it didn't have a box or cables.

We got my father who was wandering around some other shops and had been keen to get another PC after his old one had given up the ghost. I had to rush my father through as someone else had seen the same bargain in store and was waiting for me to put the PC down so they could get the bargain. However I was unable to get it to the till without the sheet of paper containing its price which seemed to be missing so it proved to be a real conundrum getting a price as all of the staff were suddenly busy. Eventually we got the price sheet for the computer and it had been brought down to £129! Nice! It was rather easy to get the machine setup for dad, after I had discovered PCWorld still had the demo OS installed which I didn't have the password for. Not a problem there is a setup menu just before the OS boots which will reinstall it from scratch for you with Windows Vista. Its a pretty fast PC which my father is rather happy with after I set him up with 3 Mobile Broadband. We told my parents in-law and they also wanted one! Now I have ordered them a £185 version online. The thing I love about ordering a PC online is you don't get put through the PCWorld staff sales pitch trying to sell you after sales support. I don't need it but maybe some people do, in my mind its just a waste of money because I know how to recover or tune a PC. The staff treat you as though you are nuts not taking it because it appears essential in their minds. I am guessing it might be to some people, but for now I am saving money.

posted on Sunday, 04 January 2009 16:32:53 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Sunday, 21 December 2008
Windows Vista Internet Explorer and VMware

I really don't understand this, may be someone can shed some light on this one for me. If I am running Internet Explorer on my Windows Vista machine with 3 browser windows open (non of them have Flash) and I also have a VMWare machine open running Windows Server 2003 with 2 programs running. Why oh why does Internet Explorer use 122,792K of precious RAM and VMWare uses 27,080K of RAM? Why is it that this that even when I have Internet Explorer open in Windows Server 2003 in my VMware session on the same pages that it still doesn't use as much RAM?

Also considering that I have turned off all the advanced graphics such as Aero off in Vista.

Is it that:

  • Windows Vista is badly written compared to Windows Server 2003?
  • Is VMWare so magnificently written that it only uses as much RAM as it needs?
  • Microsoft's QA dept didn't do the same quality checks as they did on Windows Server 2003 (great OS by the way).
  • That there is an issue with Internet Explorer suffering memory leaks on Windows Vista?

I know so many people who have switched back to "good old XP" for this very reason. Some have even gone as far as using Windows Server 2003 as their operating system to get around these issues. I have read online that companies have delayed upgrading their networks to Vista until Microsoft have sorted out the printing issues Vista has which still exists in Service Pack 1.

posted on Sunday, 21 December 2008 16:22:10 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

50% CPU usage by DNS Client on Windows Vista

If you are reading this article you have probably encountered the same problem I have with svchost continually using 45-50% cpu usuage. Making use of Systinternals process explorer I discovered it was the DNS Client that was using up all my CPU time.

Having a look at several forums online most of the solutions were for Windows XP which didn't work for me and were based around the Windows Update service causing the issue. However my issue started after me implementing a whole raft Windows updates recently.

Anyway long story short my temporary fix has been to disable the DNS Client in Windows Services for now. You can get to this by typing services.msc from the Start menu in Vista finding the DNS Client go to properties and under Startup set this to disabled. You may need to go into Task Manager selected services and End the process tree for the svchost service for this change to take affect without rebooting. Disabling the DNS Client basically causes Windows Vista not to cache the DNS entries effectively making browsing sites you have already seen a lot faster. This is by no means a permanent fix, but until now it will do until Microsoft can issue a fix for the issue....I miss Windows XP...

posted on Sunday, 21 December 2008 15:52:05 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Friday, 25 April 2008
Windows XP as a virtual machine on Linux

I've seen a lot of articles and demonstrations on how Windows XP is faster run as a virtual PC under a Linux desktop. What gets me about these demos is if you run Windows XP as a virtual machine under a Windows XP desktop you actually get more or less the same results. The reason being is that Windows XP is incredibly fast the first time you install it anyway, it only after a few months of usage that XP degrades in performance. Virtual PC's can be made to run incredibly fast, I have had some pretty good performances with virtual PC's running on compressed images and in machines with plenty of RAM. I actually do most of my development work inside virtual PC's where I keep the host operating system as pure as possible to boost performance.

posted on Friday, 25 April 2008 21:25:58 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]