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Novell Deploy Error D018

Here is a quick guide to fixing the error that occurs when you’re trying to open a NAL Object via Novell, the Error ID is D018.

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Posted by duck in How-To Guides, IT Issues, School

Review: Logitech Z-5500 5.1 Surround Speakers

Right now I’m listening to music… And I’m listening to them with headphones.
Why?
Because my favourite speakers, my Logitech Z-5500’s are currently broken, so what a better time to write a review about them 🙂

This review isn’t all bad though, the Z-5500’s are my favourite speakers of all time.Logitech Z-5500s

Why I like my Z-5500’s

Power

The Z-5500’s have 505 watts of power, that’s 5 speakers and a 10″ Subwoofer, which makes them perfect for movies or music. I’ve used these speakers at house parties, running them on extremely loud volume all night long with no hassles at all. I’ve even had people say they could hear the music from over a kilometer away.

Inputs

The speakers come with a Digital Optical Input, Digital Coaxial Input, a 5.1 Surround Analogue input and a stereo analogue input. This means I can have my MacBook plugged in via Optical, Gaming PC plugged in via Coax and decks + mixer plugged in via the stereo input.

Size

The Z-5500’s are pretty small, perfectly small enough to fit nicely in my bedroom, it has a nice control unit with a big volume knob on it, and can be packed away into a small plastic crate (minus the sub) to take it places.

Dolby 5.1 Surround

Games and Movies all sound 1000x better in Dolby Surround. When the wall shakes from the sound of a rocket launcher or an explosion in a movie, you know you’ve got a winner. One of my favorite scenes to play is the Atomic Bomb scene near the start of the latest Indiana Jones movie. It’s fantastic.

Sound Quality

The sound from the speakers is awesome, doesn’t distort, lets you play it at very high volume without it breaking up (see the below section about what happens at high volume though).

Warranty

They come with 2 years warranty. See below as to why this is important 😛

These speakers are *the* greatest speakers I’ve ever found, nothing comes close in terms of power and size.

Why I don’t like the Z-5500’s

Quality

Control Unit

So far I’ve had the whole set of speakers replaced twice. The first time the control unit backlight had died, the second time the control unit overheated and burnt out (eek, smoke coming from the control unit).

Speakers

At high volumes, the casing on the 5 other speakers starts to rattle, I’m fairly sure it’s to do with the front and back section of the speaker, as they appear to be vibrating separate from each other, no damage appears to be done by this other than that it makes a bit of a buzzing noise.

Fuses

If you plug in the power to the sub without all the speakers connected, you’ll blow a fuse. Logitech have acknowledged that there is an issue with the fuse on the speakers.

Price

Logitech can’t seem to pick a nice price for these speakers, I bought mine through my work for $350 and I’ve since seen the price rise and rise as time goes on for exactly the same product. The recommended retail price has gone from $700 down to $400 and back up again to $700 again, currently it is offered for $599 at some retailers.

Bugs

One of the issues I’ve had with both the control units I’ve had is that it doesn’t detect the input properly sometimes, you will swap to an input or unplug your headphones and get no sound at all. To fix it you have to cycle back through all the inputs to get back to the one you want. While it’s a minor annoyance, it’s just another step away from perfection.

Overall

The Logitech Z-5500’s are fantastic speakers, the quality and pricing issues are a bit of a bother, however being virtually the only set of speakers in this sort of category (high power, small form computer speakers) means there is little competition.

Warranty Claims

1. The first warranty claim I did on the speakers was when the Control Unit back light was broken, I contacted Logitech and they arranged a replacement set of speakers through my work where I bought it from. I simply swapped my set over for the new set. Even though the control pod was faulty, they replaced the entire set.
2. I had the speakers running in the morning, I stopped the music and went to work. When I got home the control unit was VERY hot and off. I unplugged the unit from the wall, let it cool down and then turned it back on to find 4/6 inputs were completely dead.
A couple hours later all the inputs were dead and the control unit was warm (not as hot as it was before, but warmer than usual).

5/11/09 – 9:00pm
Warranty claim sent to Logitech

6/11/09 – 5:30pm — 20.5 Hours Since claim started
Logitech contacted me to let me know I had contacted the wrong support line and that they had forwarded the claim onto the Australian Division.
In my defence: It didn’t ask me what country I was from, I googled Logitech and headed to their support section.

12/11/09 – 5:23PM — 6 days 20 Hours since claim started
I finally got a response from Logitech. They asked if anyone had been hurt or anything else damaged. They also said the speakers were covered under a 1 year warranty, but their website says it’s a 2 year warranty. I responded on the 14/11/09 – 1:56PM (2 days late, had a busy weekend) linking them to their own support article as well as with the receipt of my speakers.

16/11/09 – 2:42 AM — 10 days 6 hours since claim started

They apologised for giving me the wrong date (as I had proven them wrong) and gave me an incident number to give to my retailer to get a replacement unit.

17/11/09 – 1pm – 11 days since claim started
Emailed my retailer with all the details to replace the speakers.

Numerous Emails back and forth, nothing happened to get them replaced, this went on for over 2 months. After calling them one day, they complained I was rude in asking them to hurry up and told me to get them replaced by Logitech.

17/1/10 – 7pm – 2 months 11 days since claim started
Contacted Logitech complaining of the treatment I received from my retailer.

18/1/10 – 11am – 2 months 12 days since claim started
Received an email from my retailer letting me know the speakers were on back order and that they were onto it. No reply from Logitech, but I’m guessing they got onto the retailer and told them to get their arse into gear.

28/1/10 – 2 months 22 days since claim started
Replacement Speakers Arrived.

Only took 2 months and 22 days… That’s pretty terrible.

Of those 2 months and 22 days, Logitech took 10 days and the retailer took 2 months and 12 days to get it sorted out.

Posted by duck in Home, Reviews, Warranty

The Mobile Phone Plan Comparison Spreadsheet

UPDATE: 29/1/17 – This article is way out of date. Phone companies here basically give you free calls and all that for <$30 a month.  Leaving the article here for posterity, but don’t trust it 😉

I’ve put together a quick little spreadsheet you can use for comparing different phone plans to eachother. One of the tricks the phone companies use is they say “You pay $49 and get $330 worth of credit!” to make it sound like their phone plan is much better. However to make up for this, the calling rates are higher.
With this spreadsheet it tells you exactly how many minutes of talk time you get on your phone, ontop of that, if you enter how long your average phone call is, it will work out how many minutes of talk time you get once flagfall is called into effect.
One other great thing it does is give each plan a point rating that factors in minutes, texting cost, flagfall as well as the data plan.
Instructions are in the spreadsheet as well as 2 sample plans from Optus and Telstra.

Click here to Download the Phone Plan Calculator (Excel Spreadsheet)

That’s all for today 🙂

Ducky

Posted by duck in How-To Guides, IT Issues

Review: MultiScreen

My school recently bought a system called MultiScreen, it’s a system that connects up to multiple TV’s to play promotional material, it consists of a Server Box purchased directly from MultiScreen with multiple AV outputs and the TV units which were purchased through a local electrical supplier.
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Posted by duck in Reviews, School

Disabling StickyKeys for Good.

Update: It still works!  29/1/17

This guide explains not only how to disable StickyKeys for one user, but it will disable it for every user on the computer which makes it perfect for System Administrators.

NOTE, SEE THE BOTTOM OF THE POST FOR A SINGLE CLICK VERSION OF THE WHOLE PROCESS.

This guide will first disable it for the local user and the .default user (the user who’s active when noone is logged in ie. the Login Screen) and then will explain how to disable it for the Default User which is the user that is called upon when a new user is created.  This is limited in that it will only let you disable it for users who have not logged in on the computer before.

In my situation with a Novell Network, these steps should be done before the image of the computer is created or before the computer gets used by normal users.

This has been tested by me and appears to work fine on Windows XP Service Pack 2 machines, if it works for you please leave a comment saying so.

Here we go:

Part 1 – Disabling StickyKeys for the current user and when noone is logged in.

Open up Notepad and copy/paste this code into it, alternately you can download the file here:  StickyKeys Fixer

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

; For the Current User (Usually Me)
;Disable Sticky Keys
[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Accessibility\StickyKeys]
“Flags”=”506”

;Disable Filter Keys
[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Accessibility\Keyboard Response]
“Flags”=”122”

;Disable Toggle Keys
[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Accessibility\ToggleKeys]
“Flags”=”58”

; For when noone is logged in
;Disable Sticky Keys
[HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Accessibility\StickyKeys]
“Flags”=”506”

;Disable Filter Keys
[HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Accessibility\Keyboard Response]
“Flags”=”122”

;Disable Toggle Keys
[HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Accessibility\ToggleKeys]
“Flags”=”58”

Save this file as stickykeys.reg and place it anywhere. When saving it, under “Save as Type” in the save dialogue, change it to “All Files”, this way it will let you save it as .reg and not .reg.txt.

Double click the file and select Yes to add it to the registry.

If you’re the only user of the machine, you can stop here. If you wish to disable it for all other users too, please continue.

Part 2 – Disabling StickyKeys for all new users

Please note that this will only disable it for users who DO NOT CURRENTLY HAVE AN ACCOUNT YET ON THE MACHINE. If you wish to disable it for users who already have an account on the machine, you will need to run that reg file from part one as each user.

This solution is great for networks where a new user account is created on each machine as the user logs in through a server of some sort.

  1. Open Reg Edit (Windows Key + R -> regedit -> Enter)
  2. Click on “HKEY_USERS”
  3. Goto File -> Load Hive
  4. Select:  C:\Documents and Settings\Default User\NTUSER.DAT
  5. For the key name enter anything (this guide will assume you called it “blah”)
  6. Expand open “HKEY_USERS” and you will see the hive you added (“blah”).
  7. Open up the hive:  blah -> Control Panel -> Accessibility
  8. Make the following changes:
    StickyKeys -> Flags = 506
    Keyboard Response -> Flags = 122
    ToggleKeys -> Flags = 58
  9. Select the Hive you added (“blah”) and go to File -> Unload Hive
  10. Click OK to the dialogue.

It’s important that you Unload the Hive when you’re done with it, failure to do so could cause issues later.

That’s it!

Every new user should now have StickyKeys disabled 😀

If you liked this guide, please comment and let me know how it went for you.

Ducky

EDIT:  OK, this one I’m quite proud of. SUPER STICKY KEYS FIX <–Click there to download, then extract the archive, and double click StickyKeysUltimateFix.bat. It will disable Sticky Keys for the currently logged in user, the .DEFAULT user as well as “Default User”. This works on XP, and might just work on Windows Vista/7. If you use it, please leave a comment and let me know how it worked for you.
In a network environment, you should run this before you start getting users on, as it won’t affect users whose accounts are already created.
If you feel a bit sus about the files, you can open all of them in a text editor to see what it does.

    1. Open Reg Edit (Windows Key + R -> regedit -> Enter)

    2. Click on “HKEY_USERS”

    3. Goto File -> Load Hive

    4. Select: C:\Documents and Settings\Default User\NTUSER.DAT

    5. For the key name enter anything (this guide will assume you called it “blah”)

    6. Expand open “HKEY_USERS” and you will see the “hive” you added (“blah”).

    7. Open up the hive: blah -> Control Panel -> Accessibility

    8. Make the following changes:
      StickyKeys -> Flags = 506
      Keyboard Response -> Flags = 122
      ToggleKeys -> Flags = 58

    9. Select the Hive you added (“blah”) and go to File -> Unload Hive

    10. Click OK to the dialogue.

Posted by duck in How-To Guides, IT Issues, School

Review: The BeBook

Today I have an interesting new device to review, it costs $400 and lets you read any book wherever you want to. It helps to reduce eye strain from reading off a computer screen and is super portable. The device is called a BeBook. (http://mybebook.com/p5/ereader-bebook/product_info.html)

box and bebook

Keep reading for more information
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Posted by duck in Reviews

Review: Dells Warranty

So, I have a friend who bought a Dell, I told her to buy a Mac, she said she was going to buy a Mac, then someone at the last minute convinced her into getting a Dell.

No Problem, Dells aren’t *too* bad I figured (despite having 3 friends with other random issues with their Dell laptops).

The problem is, her Escape key broke. Not only did the key break off, but it broke IN HALF. Even with 30 kids in a computer lab for upto 5 hours a day banging away at keyboards, I have never seen a key actually break in half.  Thing is, she didn’t really put any stress on the key anyway, so it appears that either Dell is making their keyboards out of crap, or it’s a fluke that it broke.

She lodged a call with Dell to get it replaced. My first thoughts were that they would either send her a new key to click on, or tell her to take it to an authorised repairer where they will conduct the repair. This wasn’t the case however. She indicated to the person arranging the warranty that she was an intermediate computer user.

Time Line:
12th – Submitted support request via Email
15th – Reply from Dell asking for a photo of the Key – Reply with photo sent off on this day
16th – Email back from Dell saying they will replace the part
17th – Replacement Part Sent
18th – Replacement Part arrived
19th – Taken to me to install for her

Total time: 6 days.   Not too bad really.

keyboardThey sent her a replacement keyboard and an addressed package to mail the return part back in. No instructions on how to install the keyboard either. With no clue on how to install the keyboard, she brought it to me.  I had a quick poke at it to see if it was one of the easy types of keyboard to get it (the pull it back a bit and it just pops out type). But no, it was screwed in somewhere.  I turned to the service manual. (took me a few minutes to find that too…)

Following the instructions I was able to work most of it out, however there was one unclear step:

Disconnect the keyboard cable from the keyboard connector on the system board by rotating the keyboard connector latch towards the front of the computer.

insideAfter scratching my head and looking at the unclear diagram I worked out that the step was wrong. You have to flick the latch to the BACK of the computer (white bit is lifted upwards and swings back).   There’s no way that that is an “Intermediate Computer User” repair job.

Thankfully everything worked fine.

working

In Summary – How good is Dell Warranty?
Speed: 8/10
Quality of Service: 3/10
Overall: 5/10

Posted by duck in IT Issues, Reviews

“HELP MY MSN GOT HACKED” – What you can do!

Update: 27/1/17 – MSN Messenger is gone now. This page is no longer relevant.

Quite often I will see a friend of mine has had their MSN account hacked, the hacked account will then send out spam to all their contacts that will look something like this:

2:46:51 AM ***Name Removed***: phewww +o( unbelivable, is that you??? who ever is it…is really similar to you lol …

http://***Link Removed***.com/pic_gallery.html

There are a few ways that your password can be stolen:

  1. Through a Key Logger on your computer – A program that is designed to record everything you type on the keyboard and sends it off to a computer somewhere else in the world. (Unlikely, but possible)
  2. A virus on your computer that is sending out the spam or stealing your password (also unlikely, but still common)
  3. An exploit that gains your password if you’ve got the “Remember Password” option ticked in MSN Messenger, this one most people don’t see coming and I’ve heard it is common on websites that have flash games on them. (Sorry, no source for this one, if you do find a source please leave a comment and let me know and I’ll update the post)
  4. Through a Phishing attack. This occurs when you come across a page asking for your MSN Account details, it could look exactly like the MSN Website. To check if you’re on the official MSN Webpage, it should have something like:  http://something.live.com/, if it’s not that, don’t enter your password.
  5. By clicking the link sent to you by someone from a hacked account. The link will be either a download, a phishing page or a malware infested page that does one of the things from above to get into your account.

The question is: What can I do about it?  Well here’s your answer:

First up, change your password!
You can do this by going to https://account.live.com this is the official MSN account management page.
This method usually stops most types of spam right away.

What if you have forgotten your password or it has changed?
On the Live Account management page, there is an option for forgotten password, click the link and follow the instructions there to reset your password. If you can’t remember your security question then there is nothing else you can do.

What Next?

There are some other extra things you can to do help protect yourself. If you don’t have any antivirus installed, I suggest you go get some ASAP. I recommend AVG, it’s free and seems to do the job quite well.

If you already have antivirus installed but you’re not quite sure if you can trust it, it helps to get a second opinion, the Panda Security Active Scan is a good free scanner that does a good job at removing anything major. Best of all, it doesn’t need to install itself to run, it runs entirely in your web browser.

Next, if you’re still using Internet Explorer, I suggest you get Firefox, it’s way more secure than Internet Explorer and acts as another layer of protection from certain Internet Explorer only exploits.

Windows Updates – If you have updates turned off on your computer, I suggest you at least go and update it once a month or so. The Windows Updates include patches that block a lot of the exploits that viruses use to get into your computer.
You can get to this by going: Start -> Control Panel -> Security -> Windows Update

These methods have helped keep my MSN account hack free and have worked for friends of mine to help them get their MSN accounts back in their control.

Ducky

Posted by duck in Home, How-To Guides, IT Issues

Building a Media PC

I bought my mother a 42″ LCD TV (A 720p Acer one) for around $900 about 8 months or so ago. We were using a cheap Set top box with it which also had a recording function. It wasn’t too bad, however it started to get a little… dodgy. This included fuzzy signal and recordings not working and such. So we decided to throw it out and build something new.

In my investigating, I decided that we should buy a Tivo.  Before I got around to buying it, I visted a friend of a friend and they had this Media PC set up and it was working really well, so I instead decided that I’d go ahead and build my own Media PC.

3577639583_082d0796c9

Hardware

The computer has a cheap motherboard/cpu/ram setup with the old video card from my gaming machine (an nVidia 6600GT). I used the case from one of my old computers and bought a new power supply too.

My cheaping out on the power supply was a terrible idea, it has an 8cm fan that is fairly loud, which can get annoying when you’re trying to watch TV. Thankfully it’s not too much of a problem.

The hardware Specs are:   2.4ghz Core2Duo, 2gb DDR2 ram, nVidia 6600GT (128mb) Video Card and for the hard drives I use a 40gig System Drive (I have like 10 different 40gig drives lying around) and a 250gb SATA drive for TV Cache and Recorded Shows (I’ll explain later in this post).

I can’t remember the exact cost, but we’re looking at about $400 or so worth of parts (cheaper than the $700 Tivo).

The TV Card is the main part of a Media PC setup, you need something that isn’t so cheap that it fails to do what you want it to do but you don’t want to spend a billion dollars on it. The one I found was the DViCO DVB-T Dual Express. It’s available from a few major retailers for about $150AUD.  It has good reception, a nice remote, allows tuning into two channels at once (record one channel, watch one channel, or two computers on different channels (see MediaPortal below).

A nice listing of hardware that would be suitable for a Media PC is at my Server Building guide, all you would need to add is a TV Tuner card, also the motherboard in that article has HDMI out, which is just perfect for todays High Definition TVs.

3577640247_c5153b7e8f

Software

There’s many different Media Center programs out there, the most common one being Windows Media Center, though, the version of windows I used for this didn’t come with it. Instead, I used a program called Media Portal, it’s free and has a lot of good features.

Some of the things that I think makes Media Portal stand out above the rest are:

  • The ability to share your TV to other computers in the house.
    This means you can have your media PC watching one channel while another computer is watching another channel, or you can schedule recordings from another computer without inturrupting what’s happening on the other computer.
  • Hooks in with your existing video library
    I have it connected to my server (Zoe) so it can see the videos stored there and allow easy access to them.
  • Nice easy recording options
  • My Mum can use it

MediaPortal is a Windows only program, I figured I would use Windows XP Pro 32bit, I had a copy lying around at the time and figured that it’d be fine. (See Further below for Issues)

Configuration

As for setting it up, I installed Windows, updated it to the latest version of Windows (then turned off automatic updating, Auto Updates are EVIL), I didn’t bother with Antivirus as Firefox + Common Sense makes Antivirus unnecessary (Note for all of you about to uninstall your antivirus, I know what I’m doing, this machine does not store any important data and losing it all to a virus isn’t a problem for me).

I installed MediaPortal and configured it, one of the things I did was mapped a drive that links straight to the videos share on my server (you will need to do this to get MediaPortal to see it) as well as got all the TV Channels added (some of the channels like Prime have 3 channels broadcasting the same thing, you can turn this off in the Server Configuration of MediaPortal).

With my dual drives, I keep the system on the first drive and then put all my video on the second drive. Drive 2 is named “Bruce” (name courtesy of my Dad). On that drive there’s a folder for recordings and a folder for TV Cache, TV Cache is used to store the timeshifting that allows you to rewind live TV. Note that the TV Cache is necessary whether you use Timeshifting or not, the way MediaPortal works is by having the server record the TV and save it into a TV Cache file and then the Media Portal program stream the TV from that file (don’t worry, you can run the TV Server and the TV Client Program on the same machine).  Because it works this way, it allows multiple computers to be connected to the same TV Server. The setup in our home has the Media PC in the lounge room and I can access TV from the PC in my bedroom.

Other things of note: It’s a good idea to set auto login up and set MediaPortal to open when you turn on your computer. The remote will need to be configured to work with MediaPortal. I simply worked out what keys to press to make things happen in MediaPortal, then mapped them to the remote (also see, Issues below).

Issues

Building a MediaPC is not as simple as I had hoped. Here are some of the issues I came across.

General Windows Douchebaggery – The copy of windows I had used seemed to have some strange issue with Explorer not being a happy chappy. This caused random problems with Windows Explorer crashing. I have no clue why or how so I formatted. (See “Soon to come”)

Remote Issues – Two things here, firstly, the remote isn’t very responsive, you’ve got a list of 700 movies to scroll down through, and you can only press “down” once every second. I got around this by setting up the skip buttons to skip through a list page by page it doesn’t take as long to go through a list. The 1 second wait time between button presses is annoying though.

“Could not start Timeshifting” – I couldn’t find any information on this at all. It was an error that occurred when we had the media PC set to go to sleep rather than to bootup/shutdown. What I think it may be is that the TV Card isn’t properly freeing itself up when the computer goes to sleep, so it gets stuck and throws us this unhelpful error message.

Channel 10 Fails – A trick by channel 10 and other major TV networks is to make TV shows go for 10 minutes longer than they’re schedualed so that they make you sit and watch 10 minutes of the previous show, the intention of this is to get you to get interested in the show on before it. Unfortunately, this therefore means that when you’re recording TV, it starts too early and you also miss the end of the show.  To fix this, there’s a setting in the Server software to say “Prerecord x minutes and postrecord x minutes”. I set both to about 15 minutes.

Running out of Space – Depending on how much you’re timeshifting with, MediaPortal needs room to move. For TV Cache this means upto 5gigs and for recordings you’ll want to set aside a lot more. Our 250gb recording drive gets full every now and then.  The big problem with it is, it doesn’t tell you what’s going on, only that it can’t start the TV Stream. You will probably also notice that it will slow down a lot just before it gets completely full. I’m thinking up a possible solution to this (a warning system perhaps).

TV Stream Freezing – This happens rarely, but it still happens. Maybe, once every 2 weeks, the TV Stream will just crash, freeze, go glitchy or something equally unwatchable. The easiest way to fix it is to just reboot the computer, then everything is fine after that, it’s still a pain in the butt though, there’s so many points that could be failing (Media Portal, Windows, TV Card, Hard Drive).

Windows Incompatability – Media Portal REQUIRES Windows XP SP2/Vista SP1 or higher to run as well as the .NET framework.  I also had issues getting it to run on Windows Server 2008. It doesn’t seem to want to run in VMWare or Sun VirtualBox on my MacBook either 🙁

Soon to Come

At the time of this post, I’m currently installing Windows Vista onto my Media PC. I figured it was worth giving it a shot (and again some time later I might try Windows 7 too).

I’m also perhaps looking at a method of doing a warning when the Media Center runs out of space (instead of having a big cry).

If you like the post, want more information or there’s anything you’d like to see on my blog, please feel free to comment.

Ducky.

Posted by duck in Home, How-To Guides, Reviews