Headphones in Schools

We have many sets of headphones, one for every machine infact, that’s over 120 sets of headphones. Every day they cop a lot of abuse, from kids chewing the cables to the fluffy bits on the ears being destroyed.

When you’re looking for headphones to use in a school environment, there’s a lot of things you need to take into consideration, see below to find out what I’ve discovered from my investigations into headphones.

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Posted by duck in IT Issues, Reviews, School

Arduino – 8×8 LED Matrix

I bought myself an Arudiuo, it cost about $30 and basically lets me prototype electronics. It gives me a whole heap of input and outputs that I can use to input stuff into the computer, output stuff from the computer or just have it running by itself.

The first project I built was just some LED’s and flashing them, this second project is an 8×8 LED Matrix that I bought online off ebay. It cost me $16AUD with free postage for 10 of them.

Here is a video of it in action:

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Posted by duck in Home, How-To Guides

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.
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


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.


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.


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).


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


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).


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 🙂


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.


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]

;Disable Filter Keys
[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Accessibility\Keyboard Response]

;Disable Toggle Keys
[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Accessibility\ToggleKeys]

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

;Disable Filter Keys
[HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Accessibility\Keyboard Response]

;Disable Toggle Keys
[HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Accessibility\ToggleKeys]

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.


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. (

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.


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