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Software - OSX
Jun 23, 2010

Resizing a Parallels VM hosting Windows XP

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VM Details:
Parallels 5.0 Build 9308
XP Pro SP3 (Guest OS)
C: 33GB with 700 MB unused formatted NTFS

Decided to try and increase the ol' XP VM (a bigger whale. . .).

Two basic steps are required -
  • Resize the Parallels VM
  • Resize the Windows XP partition within the VM

To accomplish this task I downloaded GParted ISO image from sourceforge which allows the resizing of the Windows partition within the VM.
I suppose the Acronis tools that are supplied with the Parallels could do this but I haven't tried that yet.

What I did (with a bit of messing around of course as is the way with Windows, etc) -

  • chkdsk /f done on the XP VM - all OK
  • Duplicated the VM in OSX (Finder>user>Library>Parallels>Blat XP.pvm). Also took the opportunity to copy the VM to an external USB drive which took c. 17mins for 33GB.
  • Used Parallels Image Tool to resize the VM image (Applications>Parallels>Parallels Image Tool)
    Browse to winxp.hdd
    Gets info for disk
    Increase size (I went for 40 GB)
    Get Operation Succeeded message

    At this point the Parallels VM has been resized to the 40 GB desired.
    If the XP VM is started at this point the XP size will still be 33GB.

  • Select XP VM in Parallels and use Configuration to set CD/DVD source and Boot order
    CD/DVD source set to gparted-live-0.5.2-9.iso
    CD/DVD set to 1st in Boot order
  • Just use the default settings of the GParted Live
    The GUI info showed -
    /dev/sda1 ntfs 40 GiB used: 30.75GiB unused: 9.26 GiB flag: boot

    With a bit of messing around I got a task to execute something like -
    shrink /dev/sda1 from 40.00 GiB to 39.99 GiB

    This seemed OK and it took c. 40 seconds.

    At this point the Windows XP partition within the VM has been resized to the 40 GB desired.
  • Closed the VM (tried to shutdown Linux but got all sorts of arcane messages)
  • Set the Boot Order in the VM to the HDD
  • On start the XP VM does a chkdsk and then restarts

Well, what do you know -
the XP VM booted up and the sweet dulcet tones of Win95 wafted across the room.
(Yes, I have set the startup tune to the venerable old tune - The Microsoft Sound.wav from Windows 95. This is the Number One hit after many years of Windows reboots and of course Number One on the video charts has to be the BSOD!)

Of course Windows being Windows the anal passages could not yet relax -
A message was displayed saying 'Windows has finished installing new devices' so a restart was required.

Fortunately the reboot proved good and the full 39.99 GB was now available to XP.

Original reading for this exercise was here - sk+size+xp

Hardware - Windows
Jun 22, 2010

Using LG BE08LU20 BluRay drive with Abit IS7 motherboard.

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Well - another interesting little endeavour with the old PC that I got in 2003. I just obtained an external BluRay Writer that will use either USB 2.0 or e-SATA. As it happens e-SATA is apparently quite quick so I thought I wonder if the SATA will work on the IS7 motherboard - it does!

The LG BE08LU20 comes with an e-SATA plate that installs into the case slot and it plugs onto one of the SATA terminals on the motherboard.

Installing the software went OK and the XP appeared to detect the hardware however when reset the drive operated (open/close) initially during boot but absolutely dead once windows had loaded.

Looking at the BIOS updates on the ABIT site I noticed that some of the later updates indeed had improvements for SATA, etc so I did the big Kahuna and upgraded the BIOS to the latest issue (the existing was IS7-16 and the latest was IS7-24).

Most of the time taken was finding a good floppy to use as a boot disk. Once found it was formatted in XP SP3 as an MS-DOS startup disk and the 5 BIOS files copied on.
I used the runme.bat and the flashing completed OK. Downpowered and then reset the CMOS with the motherboard link then re-programmed the BIOS (digital cameras are so useful for recording the old setup).

The reboot worked fine and the XP found the hardware and this time recognised it as BE08LU20 DVD-RAM drive.

The drive was allocated the next drive letter which happened to be P: (there are a lot of drives in this ol' PC).

The biggest disappointment was discovering that Abit no longer make motherboards - not surprised really since they were very good and last well.

I am amazed that with an old motherboard (2003) and XP that I can still run most stuff ranging from a Brilliance monitor (1996), Microtek E6 scanner on SCSI (1996) to a BluRay drive (2010).

Jun 22, 2010

PHP code doesn't execute - shows in webpage

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Had a situation where PHP code was no longer executing and was just appearing on the page with attendant errors.

Specifically an error was caused by using the <? xxx ?> short tag format rather than <?php xxx ?> format.
As it transpired later versions of PHP set the short tag format to OFF by default so in the php.ini file the following line needed to be set -

short_open_tag = On

As a further trap for amateurs (as I am) I had installed a standard version of PHP for Windows on my machine and this install of course wrote the PHP folder into the Windows Path so when I installed the PHP5 tailored for Abyss the Path remained incorrect.
The Abyss PHP installed into PHP5 and didn't update the Path so when my web app used PHP it went to the PHP folder and of course the php.ini file was still at default for the short tag format.
Uninstalling the standard PHP fixed the problem since the web app then used the PHP5 folder that had the short tag set to ON.

Jun 22, 2010

Adding Comtrend Powerline ethernet adaptor to network

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During a recent move one of the Comtrend DH10PF Powerline units(uses DS2 chipset) died terminally so I got another pair of Comtrend 902 Powerline units. Basically I used the 902 units for the BT Vision and the old DH10 unit for my P4 PC.

Seems to work OK - just a bit fiddly to get them synced up.

Basically just used the A unit of the pair as the master for the HH2 end, did a reset for 20 sec until status light started flashing then did the reset on the other slave units until the light flashed and then they all sync'd up (maybe I was are lucky). I did this with the units all plugged into a multibox to avoid running between rooms, breaking legs, neck or whatever because the flashing light on the master only stays in that state for c. 30 seconds.

I later found out that the units can be accessed by web browser by typing the IP address into the URL bar (the password appears to be 'admin').

The old DH10 units supplied by BT had a BT tailored firmware and the 902 units had a standard Comtrend firmware but the BT Vision works just fine over them.

Jun 22, 2010

Networking a USB printer on OSX

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Samsung ML1210 Laser USB 2.0
MacBook 10.4 Tiger (printer host)
Windows XP SP3 (inside Parallels 5.0 VM on MacBook Pro 10.6 Snow Leopard)
802.11n wireless ethernet network

Samsung ML1210 printer was installed on MacBook that had the Foomatic drivers installed.

Using OSX 10.4 (Tiger) -

System Preferences>Internet & Network>Sharing
Check Windows Sharing (need to select an account) eg: macbook.homemacbook
Check Printer Sharing
Accessing from MBP (OSX 10.6 (Snow Leopard)) -

System Preferences>Hardware>Print & Fax>Add Printer>Default printer showed as ML-1210 @ Mac Book's Computer (Bonjour Shared)

Accessing from XP SP3 Parallels VM -

CP>Printers & Faxes>Add Printer(Wizard)>Network Printer>Browse

A list of available printers should appear -

Mine appeared under WORKGROUP as MAC-BOOKS-COMPU

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.

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