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Software - OSX
Jun 22, 2010

Indistinct fonts on OSX

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Using the browsers (Safari/FF/Camino) on Snow Leopard I found the font rendition to be poor but the font rendition in the XP VM was fine.
As it happens it's easy to fix by using System Preferences>Appearance
I unchecked
Use LCD font smoothing when available
And set
Turn off text smoothing for font sizes to 12

Interestingly until I set the font size to 12 just unchecking the LCD font smoothing had no effect.

Hardware - Mac
Jun 19, 2010

Unable to connect CD/DVD-ROM using Parallels VM on MB Pro

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This occurred when starting up a Parallels 4.0 VM on a MacBook Pro running Snow Leopard (10.6). The CD icon at the status bar of the VM had a red cross and the following message -

Unable to connect CD/DVD-ROM 1.
A file or device required for the operation of CD/DVD-ROM 1 does not exist
or is used by another process, or you have no permission to access it.

On closer inspection the device option shown was HL-DT-ST DVDRW GWA 4080MB.

Checking the VM configuration for the optical drive the above device was checked but another device existed - MATSHITA DVD-R UJ-868.
Selecting this device in configuration worked fine and the other device disappeared from the list.
As it happens the HL device was the old device used with the MacBook which formerly hosted the VM and the MATSHITA device is the one equipped in the MB Pro. It seems that when the VM is copied to the new machine some of the device settings are retained.

Pretty well worked so a happy wee bunny.

Jun 18, 2010

Win XP printing from OSX 10.6 (Snow Leopard)

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Basically the Win XP computer detail is the same as discussed before but with the shift from OSX Tiger to Snow Leopard there are a few wee differences.

Printer setup::

Set a workgroup (same as printer PC - say homelan for example) System Preferences>Network>Advanced>WINS (under Tiger this was set using Directory Access)
Install Ghostscript
Install Foomatic RIP
Install Samsung GDI drivers
Look for printer - System Preferences>Print & Fax>Add Printer>Windows>Workgroup will display so browse for printer and select. My printer appeared as SamsungM ( named as such on the XP machine) Under the Print using I selected - Samsung ML-1210 Foomatic/gdi (recommended)

Pretty well worked so a happy wee bunny.

Software - XP
Jun 18, 2010

ITunes install package failure

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Recently had to look at an iTunes install failure. A new iPhone had been obtained (not by me I hasten to add) and needed to be commissioned via iTunes on a PC (running Vista in this case).
After downloading the latest file (v 8.2) and running the install I got -

An error occurred while attempting to create the directory: C:Program FilesCommon FilesAppleMobile Device SupportSyncServicesSchemasBookmarks.syncschema
Retrying was no good so had to cancel out and got a message to the effect of -

Error type 2330
Schema folder is inaccessible or corrupt (not only politicians eh! - sorry)
Possibly a package error

Trying to open the folder just gave the above error again.
I tried to delete the Schemas folder but not allowed because stuff was existing inside it and I couldn't access it - however I was able to rename the folder to xSchemas and then the install worked OK.

How the original folder was corrupt I don't know but the new install fixed it and the iPhone sync'ed up OK and upgraded its firmware.

Hardware - Mac
Jun 18, 2010

MacBook shuts down without warning

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Lately I have noticed a problem which I assumed to be a battery failing but no - a sordid little tale from the forums helped solve this.

Basically loads of folk have been experiencing random shutdowns with MacBooks and MacBook Pros and the 'fixes' seem to encompass battery replacement, logic board replacement, heatsink replacement, SMC firmware problems, etc.

My problem :

Working in Parallels 4.0 (XP Pro SP3) the VM would suddenly close along with the MacBook without any low power warning from XP or OSX. In actual fact the MacBook went into sleep mode and if a restart was attempted it would crash out again before completing the boot up. Parallels was absolved because it would happen when just OSX was in use and usually occurred when the battery indicator showed c. 1:00 hr left or 39%. Since the low battery alarms are set to c. 20% they never got triggered.

I read a forum thread which mentioned an issue with the BatteryUpdater.bundle file in the OSX so I had a go at this.

Someone suggested that the version 1.3 BatteryUpdater.bundle is for MB Pros only and indeed an Apple kb article (HT1403) confirms this. Interestingly Apple suggests that 1.3 will be shown if the 10.4.11 update has been done (as it had for my machine). So I decided to downgrade to 1.2 just to see - using the Apple kb HT1359 article I downloaded and installed BatteryUpdater.bundle 1.2 (just move the old 1.3 bundle to trash).

This appeared to do the trick since the battery indicator showed the red warning at 20% and the machine went into sleep at c. 9% rather than 39%. The low battery warnings also worked in XP as well. So much for Apple's ability to detect the difference between a MacBook and MacBook Pro when applying the 1.3 update.

I suspect this issue probably started when the 10.4.11 update was done with Parallels 4.0 so I have a reasonable fix at the moment however the whole area around the SMC (System Management Controller) in the MacBooks seems to be a bit dodgy. There appears to be a heatsink expansion issue combined with faulty batteries which cause problems with the SMC calibration/operation and Apple have also done a 'dirty' fix which involves running the fan more to help with overheating issues and maybe this also upsets the SMC battery monitoring calibration.

A free utility (CoconutBattery) will show the relevant details of the battery state and really just repackages data provided by the SystemProfiler utility supplied by Apple.

I also discovered that there is now a 1.4 update to the BatteryUpdater.bundle which applies to the MacBook so I have applied that as well - so far so good.

Software - OSX
Feb 03, 2009

Parallels Desktop for Mac Upgrade from 2.5 to 4.0

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P2.5 had been upgraded from Build 3188 on OSX 10.4.5 to Build 3214 (last build on Tiger) on OSX 10.4.5
OSX then upgraded to 10.4.11
P3.0 Build 5160 installed (last build).
P4.0 Build 3810 installed (latest hotfix build).

Amazingly things went rather well. Tried for quite a while to rename folders etc so I could run P2.5 with the old VM's if necessary but couldn't get it to go so just made copies of the Parallels folder containing the VM's and then started the install.

Was running P2.5 as parrotware and purchased a copy of P3.0 which never got installed (a moral correction for the parrotware). Since purchased an upgrade to P4.0 and decided to have a go (very scary if you read the Parallels forums regarding version 4.0).

Installed P3.0 with no problems (New serial number worked OK) and then installed P4.0 again with no problems (U/G serial number worked OK).

P4.0 listed all the old VM's plus my copied backups and when each one was started a conversion was done again with no issues. The first two were basic Linux VM's (Mandrive One and Kubuntu) of c. 2G size.

Now for the "real one" - XP of c. 31G size.
Prior to converting the XP VM from within XP I disabled all auto startups except Parallels and vital Windows stuff and in the Services also disabled startups for non-essential services (Firewalls, virus apps, etc).
With the XP VM I did the backup option before conversion and both processes worked fine albeit much longer (c. 1 hour or so). Remarkably the newly converted VM started OK with no hardware install issues and no input of the XP serial required.
P4.0 defaults to starting up in Coherence mode so I changed that to Windowed and also adjusted the mapping of Windows files to Windows and Mac to Mac so avoiding the MACOSXP soup at the moment - I like to keep each OS relatively separate but will play with the sharing of apps later maybe.

The Network Adapter in XP had been changed to DHCP and when I tried to change it back to Static with the old IP I got a warning message that the IP was already allocated to another Parallel's adapter. I used the old IP anyway since I think the 'other' network adapter is now unused and hidden in the registry.
In the XP Device Manager viewing hidden devices showed two entries -
Direct Parallel
Parallels Ethernet Adapter #2

In the XP Network Connections the ethernet adaptor was shown as - Local Area Connection #4 using Parallels Ethernet Adapter #2.
The registry did indeed show an entry for Local Area Connection (which was not in Network Connections) used by Parallels so I suspect Parallels simply did not use this but created a new entry.

Things to note:

The P4.0 VM shell now has the control bar horizontally across the top (rather than down the side) and is 2 to 3 times wider than P2.5 which is a big hassle on a MacBook which is vertically challenged in the screen aspect ratio department. However it is adjustable with a small icons option but the thinnest option is Text Only for the toolbar buttons. It would be nice to be able to relocate it to the side though!
Multi-core CPU: The converted XP VM was still using only one CPU/core according to the Task Manager but fortunately this can be adjusted without a complete re-install of XP. It will be remembered that when installing XP Professional (Dual core capable) the HAL is set up for the particular machine. If the machine changes the HAL will need reconfiguring by the installer. With P4.0 (the VM must be stopped) the number of CPUs can be altered. The VM is then started and the Task Manager will still show one CPU but after a wee while a restart message will appear and then after the restart the Task Manager will show multi-core CPU. The restart was obviously needed to enable the HAL change done from within XP by Parallels.
A new Network Adapter seemed to be setup by Parallels leaving the old one in the XP registry and so causing IP conflict possibilities. It is possible that un-installing the network adaptor and cleaning the registry entries would solve this but it should only be a problem if both connections were in use anyway.
When opening a .rtf file with Office 2000 a message asking if I wanted to register happened - I just said no and it appears to be OK.
The Command/E key combo which I use frequently still appears to work OK in XP (opens Explorer) - I had fears that this had been altered in P4.0, although I do use a key mapping app to adjust for the MacBook keyboard so BAU!


So far so good - I must say P2.5 was rock solid and perfectly OK (I wasn't doing games at all).

Speed, well hard to tell, P4.0 seems about the same as P2.5 but then I am using quite an old install of XP and as folk know newer installs are far more snappy with Windows. I wanted to try P4.0 for the multi-core ability and also the graphics (I might try and finish off Syberia that I left in limbo in 2003!)

OS usage ratio is probably c. OSX - 2% and XP - 98% so P4.0 will get a good test. For games it might be an idea to have a dedicated VM to avoid performance hits from the dross that Windows collects over time.

Feb 03, 2009

BT Vision installation

Close ...
Powerline ethernet units worked OK.
Plugged in the router end first and lights showed -

Router endTV end
Status ::GreenGreen
Ethernet ::Green (flickers)Green (flickers)
AP ::AmberOff

Fired up BT Vision box and power light was flashing and harddrive "hunting" for a long time after initial screen.

Clearly not working. After waiting quite a while and a few resets later I got the following -

NR01 Experiencing difficulties screen (ring 0845 600 7030)

Then after a while -

BE01 Error has occurred screen (ring 0845 600 7030)

Being the frugal type (0845 calls cost money) a bit of thought was required.

The fix was to enable DHCP in the HomeHub and things progressed a lot better.

Recommended procedure:

Ensure Hub has DHCP enabled and ethernet port 1 is available.

Plug in Powerline ethernet adaptors and connect router end first (becomes AP on adaptor - Access Point)

Ethernet through to TV end should be OK.

Fire up BT Vision box. It may start at the NR01 screen but just wait and it will pick up the IP address and do a whole lot of stuff (possibly downloading again from BT servers), eventually it will recover and give a screen with two cogs and a progress bar).

The next screen will give Connecting to Registration server.

If registration is OK then will ask "Press Select" which kicks off the channel scanning etc.


Once the DHCP is enabled two devices should appear against Ethernet 1 in the hub status. I got -

Unknown-00:13:96:12:2C:5D Powerline ethernet device

RM4100 Philips BT Vision box

F/W of the Hub was 6.2.6C

Software - Apps
Feb 03, 2009

More Web Editor stuff

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The macro facility in EWD can be used to provide XHTML validation in a similar manner to that described for FP at Michael Suodenjoki's site -
Here is a wee bit of a comparison between web editors I have used -

FrontPage 2003 Cost: Pricey

A good all round editor but quality of code handling could be a bit dire at times.

GREAT thing: Ability to re-factor hyperlinks between pages when renaming pages.
GOOD thing: Macro allowed use of pluginl XHTML validator tool to help things.
BAD thing: Avoid FP bots, etc to keep clean code.
BAD thing: XHTML 1.0 Strict validation/error checking average
BAD thing: Would alter code layout arbitrarily.

BEST feature: Hyperlink refactoring.

Expression Web Cost: Pricey

This improved on FP2003 hugely in the code handling department and was pretty good but I was finding that the DESIGN mode usefulness was diminishing especially when using tricky CSS.

GREAT thing: Still has hyperlink refactoring when pages renamed.
GOOD thing: Global Find & Replace.
GOOD thing: Still able to use XHTML validator macro.
GOOD thing: Doesn't mess up code layout.
BAD thing: Inserts BOM when page saved - no good for PHP.
BAD thing: DESIGN view of limited usefulness with exotic CSS - layout broken

BEST feature: Hyperlink refactoring.

Expression Web 2 Cost: Pricey c. £216

Moved onto Expression Web 2 but find it a disappointment. The DESIGN mode is further degraded since MS "corrected" the display relating to overflow attribute in CSS.
This can cause pages (or part of) not to display if 'overflow: auto;' is used. This seems ridiculous to me since the pages will display correctly in Mozilla/Opera, IE6 and 7. It seems that EW2 still uses the IE6 engine to render the DESIGN view and although there wasn't a problem in EW1 the tweak has broken EW2. MS feels this corrects an issue but since the pages will display OK in IE6 itself it is now another minus against EW2. It is a shame that EW2 doesn't render as per IE7 since IE7 is capable of using common CSS with Mozilla, etc.

GREAT thing: Still has hyperlink refactoring when pages renamed.
GOOD thing: Still able to use XHTML validator macro.
GOOD thing: Global Find and Replace.
GOOD thing: Doesn't mess up code layout.
GOOD thing: Can now omit BOM when page saved.
BAD thing: DESIGN view of limited usefulness with exotic CSS - layout broken even more with design tweak - still uses IE6 rendering engine.

BEST feature: Hyperlink refactoring.

Aptana Studio CE Cost: Free

Quite impressed with this app since it is free and the quick PREVIEW tabs are accurate.

GREAT thing: PREVIEW tabs for both IE6 and Mozilla(FF).
GOOD thing: XHTML validation works well but not perfect.
GOOD thing: Doesn't mess up code layout.
GOOD thing: Save without BOM possible.
BAD thing: No split CODE/DESIGN mode.
MAJOR BAD thing: Hyperlink refactoring not possible when pages renamed.
MAJOR BAD thing: HTML pages with Java applets on them can't be previewed -
FF PREVIEW tab: Aptana IDE will CRASH and BURN with a Java bridge problem
IE PREVIEW tab: Page will indicate that Java NOT INSTALLED.

BEST feature: PREVIEW tabs for both IE6 and Mozilla(FF). * plus FREE of course

WebBuilder 2008 Cost: Reasonable c. £35

GREAT thing: PREVIEW tabs for both IE6 and Mozilla(FF).
GOOD thing: XHTML validation works OK.
GOOD thing: Doesn't mess up code layout.
GOOD thing: Save without BOM possible.
GOOD thing: Split CODE/PREVIEW mode possible.
MAJOR BAD thing: Hyperlink refactoring not possible when pages renamed.

BEST feature: PREVIEW tabs for both IE6 and Mozilla(FF).

End result:

I tend to use Aptana for general editing simply because of the quick internal preview tabs and good validation.

The problem with the Java bridge error on pages with applets is a huge one and although I just avoid those pages if thay were to charge money for the app I would want it fixed. Some folk are blaming the Mozilla XUL engine but since the pages will work fine in all the later Mozilla and IE browsers and editors I think that Aptana is having a problem with starting Java from within the app!

I still use EW for hyperlink refactoring and for XHTML cross checking but really for the money EW 2 is losing its appeal unless you qualify for academic pricing.

WebBuilder 2008 looks good and has the great PREVIEW tabs for Mozilla and IE with an added advantage of split CODE/PREVIEW mode. It doesn't have any problems with applet pages but of course costs money compared with Aptana but not as much as EW.

And of course Notepad++ I find extremely useful for all my text editing which includes HTML/XHTML/CSS/JS as well.

Web Expression SuperPreview

Tried the Beta out and looks OK but not really a decent browser testing replacement.
The idea is to provide a Preview app for web pages that emulates the browsers (IE initially and others when app is introduced with EW 3).
Unfortunately for me unless it is available for free I probably won't bother since the emulation only provides a static DESIGN page snapshot view. Javascript or CSS hover will not run so I would still need the real browsers to fully test any dynamic pages (eg: my pages use a JS scrolling method and plenty of CSS hover stuff).
The page rendering is however very good and in my view the sort of result that the normal DESIGN view tab within the editor should provide. The functional preview provided by Aptana, WebBuilder or IETester is still far more useful for me.

IETester 0.3.1

This wee app allows browser emulation of all the modern IE versions from 5.5 onwards and works dynamically as per the real browsers. Mine was installed on XP SP3 with IE8 installed. I found that using the IE6 preview initially gave me a debug crash but seemed to work OK after IE8 and IE7 previews were used (some dependencies in there somewhere?). This is a proper browser PREVIEW as against WE SuperPreview which appears to be halfway between a WYSIWYG DESIGN view and a browser PREVIEW.

Software - XP
Aug 11, 2008

Excessive Memory Usage with Firefox 3

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Problem: Memory usage by the browser seems to be excessive.
Most opinion seems to suggest that the problem largely lies with inefficient
add-ons but my feeling is that the browser itself isn't entirely blameless.

This wee tip certainly helps a bit -
Go into about:config and create a parameter called config.trim_on_minimize and set the value to true

After setting this I got the following result - (seen with Task Manager)

FF open - c. 139K
FF minimized - c. 4k
FF minimized - usage grew quickly to 60k and stabilized

Dev - VB
Dec 20, 2007

VB2005 Express - List box Drag and Drop

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Odd stuff encountered whilst using VB 2005 Express.

Simple solution for drag and dropping a single item within the same listbox.
This was found at posted by a chap called Rykler. MSDN and elsewhere have more complex variations but this works fine for the simple requirement within a listbox. Initially it didn't work for me - the item would drag with the appropriate mouse effect but the DragDrop wasn't occurring when the DragOver was ended. Of course it turned out to be a silly error by myself - the old DragDrop Sub was renamed but I didn't rename the handle so the DragOver was ending and using the old DragDrop handle to go into hyperspace!


Private Sub listbox1Renamed_DragDrop(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As System.Windows.Forms.DragEventArgs) Handles listbox1.DragDrop

Should have been - Handles listbox1Renamed.DragDrop

Good Code -

Click mouse to select item -

Private Sub listbox1_MouseDown(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As System.Windows.Forms.MouseEventArgs) Handles listbox1.MouseDown

listbox1.DoDragDrop(listbox1.Text, DragDropEffects.All)

End Sub

Drag item holding mouse down -

Private Sub listbox1_DragOver(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As System.Windows.Forms.DragEventArgs) Handles listbox1.DragOver

e.Effect = DragDropEffects.Move

End Sub

Release mouse button to drop -

Private Sub listbox1_DragDrop(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As System.Windows.Forms.DragEventArgs) Handles listbox1.DragDrop

' Drops before item that pointer is over
listbox1.Items.Insert(listbox1.IndexFromPoint(listbox1.PointToCli ent(New Point(e.X, e.Y))), e.Data.GetData(DataFormats.Text))
listbox1.Refresh() ' not strictly required

End Sub

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