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Sep 08, 2013

Using SQLite3 and PDO with PHP 5 on Abyss X1 Webserver

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Just been looking at using SQLite3 as a backend to some web apps and found it all a bit interesting.
It seems that PDO (PHP Data Objects) is a handy interface for numerous types of database but I did find info relating to using SQLite a bit thin in places. Anyway after a bit of trawling and trying I managed to get a handle on basic usage which is not too difficult.

HERE is a wee PHP file (as txt) that encapsulates my trials and may be of assistance to some folk.

Random Techo
Sep 08, 2013

Buzzing noise from Zanussi DW908 dishwasher

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Just had an adventure pulling apart a dishwasher to find the source of an unusual buzzing sound. The buzzing seemed to occur when the water was being pumped in after the initial pump out of the stale water at the beginning of the cycle.

After cleaning various filters and bits the cause of the problem appeared to be the wee filter on the water inlet valve.

The mesh was covered with a brown residue blocking most of the holes but was easily cleaned – the buzzing ceased so at least I didn’t have to replace the inlet valve or worse still the dishwasher!

Software - OSX
Sep 08, 2013

Running Parallels and VirtualBox on same OSX host

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Just my experience and Parallels seems to suggest that results may be unpredictable if Parallels Desktop for Mac is run at the same time as VirtualBox.
OSX 10.6.8 Snow Leopard on MB Pro

Both guest OS’s are running XP Pro SP3 32bit and both use native disk format (VDI for VB and HDD for Parallels)

Parallels 7 and VirtualBox 4.2.10
Seemed to co-exist quite well and could transfer files OK between each guest using Shared Folders within the guests.
Only glitch was that HTTP browsing from the VirtualBox guest stopped working when Parallels guest in use but seemed to work OK if the VirtualBox guest was started before the Parallels one.

Parallels 8 and VirtualBox 4.2.10
Co-existence not as good – noticed that if Parallels guest was in use that trying to start the VirtualBox guest gave an error – “You can’t open the application VirtualBoxVM because it may be damaged or incomplete”.
I did find however that if the VirtualBox guest is started and in use before the Parallels guest is opened then both guests appear to co-exist OK.

Software - XP
Sep 08, 2013

Win XP – Organising All Programs listing in Start Menu

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The camel’s back broke the other day when the program listing in the All Programs part of the Start menu disappeared off the right hand side of the screen – too many columns and too many unremoveable empty entries!

Anyway as it transpires the cure is not too bad.

Click the Start Button, then right-click ‘All Programs’ and then select ‘Open All Users’.
Alternatively the Program folder can be found under the Start Menu folders in each User account by using Explorer in Documents And Settings.

The All Programs listing is actually a conglomeration of the Start Menu folders in each of the User folders –
ie :
All Users - contains apps installed for all Users
Default User - contains default apps
- contains apps installed on a user basis

It is possible to group all apps of a similar type into one folder.
Create a Browsers folder in each of the User accounts that contains browsers and move these apps into the folder. The All Programs list in the Start Menu will then show a single Browsers folders containings the browser apps from all the appropriate accounts.

This method is also ideal to delete app entries that are empty but were not deleted when the app was un-installed.

Software - OSX
Sep 08, 2013

OpenOffice/LibreOffice Ligature issue when saving PDF

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Had a PDF with no cover page so arranged a cover page and inserted into the PDF and saved with LibreOffice Draw.
Unfortunately ligatures seem to be a problem in my case it was the ‘fi’ in the document which would end up with the ‘i’ superimposed over the f and a space where the ‘i’ should have been. This appears to be a known issue and the consensus appears to be – use an Adobe writer of some form ….

The fix for me was to use a merge tool – a handy free option is PDFMate Merge which appears to work quite well.

1st PDF is cover page only
2nd PDF is the original coverless PDF

Drag both PDF’s into PDFMate app and BUILD.

My PDF was c. 15MB in size

Sep 08, 2013

Airport Express – Streaming Audio Stops randomly using iTunes

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Noticed that iTunes tracks being streamed via an AEX would randomly stop and would need a pause/play toggle to resume playing. Not sure what is going on but looking around the forums it looks like streaming with iTunes has been decidedly dodgy in the last few versions. Given that unless the late departed Man has a problem with a feature on Apple gear then action may not always be forthcoming I decided that using another app to do the actual streaming may be worth a look. There seems to be a few quite good audio apps out there but I settled on using Airfoil for Mac.

This app is a commercial one but not too expensive (c. £20 or so) and seems to have fixed the issue of streaming not working properly. Airfoil allows the steering of audio to any named AEX and can be used to enable streaming with numerous apps. I tried VLC, Quicktime, Decibel, iTunes and a couple of others. The final setup is currently using a Synology NAS with the iTunes library for cataloguing, etc and the Airfoil handles the streams to a couple of speakers on the Line Out jack of the AEX. The upside for me is that I can now stream my World Radio widget output (which uses Quicktime on the Mac) via the AEX speakers as well.

Note: the trick with Airfoil is to run it prior to the desired app so it can grab the requisite audio ports.

Software - Win7
Oct 09, 2012

Sony Vaio VPCEB3F4E Win 7 64bit – re-install OS as Factory

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It appears that recovery disks are not provided with these machines. When they are purchased the HDD has a hidden Recovery Partition that can be used to re-install the software and it is up to the user to generate their own recovery disks to be used if the HDD should ever fail and need replacement.

I was lucky as the HDD was OK in the unit I had.

From Windows I did –

Start > Programs > Vaio Care > Recovery + Restore > Recovery > Recover Computer

This proceeded to install the software to factory spec OK. I did notice that there were a huge number of updates which surprised me with Windows 7 – seemed as bad as XP which is a lot older!

With hindsight it would probably pay to install Win 7 SP1 immediately after the factory install and this may reduce the number of updates to do.

Software - OSX
Oct 09, 2012

Upgrade MacBook (white – 2,1 late 2006 Core 2 Duo) from 10.4 to 10.6

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The MB suffered from an instant hardware failure of the HDD which appeared to be a known issue within Apple but unfortunately mine was out of the 3 year window so my recourse was to buy a new disk and load in the OS.

Couldn’t find the Tiger discs since moving house so decided to try upgrading to Snow Leopard using the MBP discs (grey – machine dependent, 2009 – 5,3).

Used the Firewire Target Disk Mode with the MBP.

1 Install new HDD into MB
2 Connect MB with MBP via Firewire cable
3 Set up Target Disk Mode (press T whilst starting the MB)
4 Disk Utility on MBP said ‘Disk not Accessible’
Proceed with partition and give disk a name.
Disk will be partitioned and on restart of MBP will appear on Desktop.
5 Install disk will allow Target Disk to be selected for install (takes c. 1 hr)
MBP restarted during install and rebooted on Target.
6 Install completed – shutdown both machines and disconnected Firewire cable
7 Started MB and got –
Setup Options (regions/lang/etc
Selected options but didn’t connect to internet to avoid Apple-ID stuff – that can be done later.
8 Restarted MB and install appeared OK.

Install bundled Apps.

1 Used Firewire Target Mode again – MBP booted to Target Drive and install allowed.
2 Install completed – restart
3 Power down and disconnect Firewire – MB booted OK.

Software - OSX
Apr 01, 2012

Reset lost Administrator password on G4 running Tiger OSX 10.4

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Hold Command-S during the computer startup which should open the Mac in Single User mode.

Enter sh /etc/rc and press return.
Enter passwd yourusername and hit return. (yourusername is the short name of the account/home folder in finder)
A new password will have to be entered twice and will be blind ie: not echoed to screen.
Type reboot and hit return.

Apr 01, 2012

WD RAID shares not available from OSX & XP VM

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- p4localshare (shared folder on C: of P4xpsp3computer)
- p4raidshare (shared folder on USB attached RAID - WD My Book Mirror Edition)

In finder under Shared as P4xpsp3computer, click on server and finder displays shared folders OK. If p4localshare is double-clicked the folder opens OK
but if p4raidshare double-clicked fails, get message - The alias "p4raidshare" can't be opened because the original item can't be found.

If I tried accessing the share from the XP VM on Parallels I got messages like - "not enough storage space" and "not enough memory"

Thought it may be the 'alias bit set' problem that affects some folk but when trying Pathfinder to check it was no good.
Pathfinder needs to connect and mount the share in order to use the Get Info to see the Alias Bit setting but it couldn't even connect saying the server didn't
exist ( it did - I could ping it OK).
Console showed Path Finder error - An error occurred while trying to mount "smb://P4xpsp3computer"., err: Error -41

The short answer to the problem was that the IRPStackSize value on the XP server needed increasing - I initially set it to 18 (decimal) but no good so I tried 30 and
BINGO, all the sharing worked again!

As a background the IRPStackSize came up on a forum ( as a fix for similar problems so I looked further into it.

Found a KB article at MS - Antivirus software may cause Event ID 2011

As it transpired I had only a day or two earlier uninstalled AVG 2011 and installed Avast Personal and that was about when the sharing had been flakey.

Interestingly the Registry on the P4 had no entry for IRPStackSize so I created one and noted when set to a value of 18 I was getting Event Viewer messages -

'The server's configuration parameter "irpstacksize" is too small for the server to use a local device. Please increase the size of this parameter.'

Setting the value to 30 fixed the issue.

It appears that there were no Event Viewer messages before I created the IRPStackSize parameter so they must only appear if the Registry parameter is present.

Method: (assuming registry backup has been done in time honoured fashion)

Use regedit in START>Run

Path is -
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEMCurrentControlSet\ Services\lanmanserver\parameters

IRPStackSize didn't exist so right-click and do New>DWORD, change value to Decimal and enter number (max 50 for XP)
If it exists right-click and do Modify.

Reboot on completion.

Check above KB article for absolute Registry details.

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