What I've Learned Along the Way

WUSB600N + WPA and Windows 7 RC1

Windows 7, Wireless Jun 23, 2009 1 Comment

I recently updated my personal Media Center PC to the latest build of Windows 7 Ultimate.  Upon upgrading, my Linksys WUSB600N Ver1 USB dongle stopped working.  Well, let me specify…

Explanation:

Windows 7 did recognize the WUSB600N, however everytime I entered my WPA TKIP encryption key it would comeback as incorrect.  Upon further investigation, I realized that Windows 7 was thinking that the WPA encrypted network was actually using WEP, which of course was incorrect.

Upon even further investigation, I realized Window 7 was installing the driver for the Version 2 of the WUSB600N.  I had the Version 1.

How to fix

  1. Download the correct driver from http://nmiller.net/downloads
  2. Navigate to \Windows\System32\drivers
  3. Find netr28u.sys
  4. Rename the file to netr28u.old
  5. Unplug the USB dongle
  6. Reboot
  7. Copy the downloaded netr28u.sys to the \Windows\System32\drivers directory
  8. Reboot
  9. Plug in the USB Dongle
  10. The correct driver should now be autoinstalling ENSURE IT DOES NOT SAY INSTALLING “WUSB600N…VERSION 2”  It should simple say installing WUSB600N (no version number).
  11. You should now be able to connect to WPA networks.

Backing up files…are you SURE you are doing it?

Data Recovery, Linux, Windows 7 May 28, 2009 5 Comments

Backing up your data is one of the most important things you can do. I believe that most people understand that, however I do not believe most people fully comprehend what a “backup” really is.

Being an IT professional I hear again and again that “I was backing my stuff off to and external hard disk, and it just crashed, can you recover my files?”

Well if you need me to recover the hard drive did you really have a “backup?” I am not saying this trying to be a jerk, even I need reminding every once in a while regarding this topic.

Lets look at how backup is defined:

back·up
\-ˌəp\

1 a: one that serves as a substitute or support <a backup plan> b: musical accompaniment c: additional personnel who provide assistance

2: an accumulation caused by a stoppage in the flow <traffic backup>

3: a copy of computer data (as a file or the contents of a hard drive) ; also : the act or an instance of making a backup

For data purposes definitions 1 and 3 would be appropriate.  Just moving a file to off your local hard-drive to another storage medium (i.e. USB Thumb drive, External Hard Drive, DVD, the Internet) is not backing up.  This is simply transferring a file, if that USB drive was to fail, would you have a copy of the file to fall back on?

So what are some of the most used consumer mediums for doing backups?

DVD / CD

Pros: Very cheap, very common, easily taken offsite

Cons: Easily damaged, slow, hard to verify, relatively small size when backing up media files

USB Thumb Drives

Pros: Cheap, USB very common, fast, reliable, fairly large sizes available (32GB max at time of writing), easily taken offsite

Cons: Easy to lose due to high portability

External Hard Disk

Pros: Fast, very large size with just single disk, hard to lose, high availability, easy to automate

Cons: More costly than previous options, transfer between systems can be confusing due to such large amounts of data, generally onsite.

Cloud Storage (Internet)

Pros: Very cheap, unlimited amounts of storage, can’t really lose it, high availability (depending on system), easy to automate, backup is backed up by host, easily encrypted, always offsite

Cons: Slow (dependant on your Internet connection speed), must have internet access to see files, reliability unknown as it is fairly new.

So now that you know some very common relatively cheap mediums for backing up your data, lets looks at some important factors to take into consideration:

Location  (On-Site / Off-Site) –  Most people who do backups (myself included) have a bad habit of leaving them in the same location as your store your computer.  Consider this…if your house caught fire or flooded (probably more likely) and you lost your computer and its backup, you will probably be asking yourself “What was the point of doing all those backups?”  Most businesses send their backups to an offsite location for exactly that reason.  Now, this doesnt mean you have to pay someplace to do this.  Send DVD’s to a family members house once a month, use an online backup tool like JungleDisk or Mozy, put the files on your personal website storage space through FTP, put a hard disk in your storage unit.  There are tons of way to do this for free!

Security – Most consumers do straight A -> B backup.  This type of backup takes the data that is local to your hard disk and replicats it to the backup.  This means if someone gets a hold of your backup file(s) (intercepts) they can view the contents of that file with out any credentials. If you are using an offsite backup, that means your data has the opportunity to get intercepted.  It could happen in the mail or over the internet.  No matter how you do this, encrypt your backups!

Speed – This matters because the more data you backup, the more time it will take to run the backup job.  This is one area where online backups are less than ideal.  The initial backup over an interenet connection can take hours, even days if you are doing alot of media files.

Cost – You want a solution that is monetarily viable for the long term.  You dont want to keep switching backup solutions (trust me on that one).  When you start doing that it becomes confusing and data can easily get lost in the process.

Over the years I have tried many diffferent solutions.  Currently I run a combination of external hard disks + JungleDisk for online storage.  I keep all of my very large unchanged items (music collection, photos, videos) backed up to my external disk.  All of my smaller files such as Documents, PDF’s, and financial files I keep backed up to my JungleDisk, encrypted of course.

This method helps keep costs down, and backup time low.

If you have other methods I would love to know!

How to use Internet Connection Sharing with MediaNet on Windows Mobile 6.1

Laptops, Mobile Devices, Phones, Windows 7 Jan 27, 2009 No Comments

Upon upgrading my AT&T Q9 to Windows Mobile 6.1, I noticed that Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) only allowed me to tether the phone to a laptop usinf ATT ICS. Unfortunately, I don’t want to pay 59.99/month to get that feature. So I came across this work around.

Items Needed: A Windows Mobile Registry Editor. I prefer SmartReg

1. Open your registry editor and navigate to:
HKey_Local_Machine\Comm\InternetSharing\Settings

2. Choose Values, and select the string labeled “ForcedCellConnection”

3. Remove ATT ICS from the string and replace it with “” (yes thats two quotes)

4. Click Done

5. Exit the registry editor and reboot the phone. Thats it!

Intel 3945ABG, generic kernel 2.6.27 and Update Manager failure

Linux, Ubuntu, Wireless Oct 21, 2008 1 Comment

This post refers to the following items:
Lauchpad Bug 285280
Ubuntu Forums
Post

I applied a kernel update on October 15, 2008 which somehow didn’t have the updated nic-firmware package installed. Thus, my Intel 3945ABG wifi card stopped working…in the middle of work.
So after a couple minutes of research, I found this nifty little thread in the Ubuntu Forums. Following the instructions on the page, I indeed got my card to work.

Problem:

Upon the release of the next update they included the proper firmware in the package linux-firmware. This fails package updater and Update Manager. When I attempted to remove the package via Terminal I would get the following error:

$ sudo apt-get remove nic-firmware
Reading package lists… Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information… Done
You might want to run `apt-get -f install’ to correct these:
The following packages have unmet dependencies:
linux-image-generic: Depends: linux-firmware but it is not going to be installed
E: Unmet dependencies. Try ‘apt-get -f install’ with no packages (or specify a solution).

Fix:
Open the terminal and run the following:

# apt-get remove linux-image-generic

# apt-get remove linux-firmware

# apt-get remove nic-firmware

Then run updater and should update.

What was learned:
Packages have dependencies, and installing a dependency may not be the answer. You may need to work backwards. I had to remove all the packages that DEPENDED on nic-firmware before I could fix the problem. Seemed a bit backwards in my mind, but it worked.

Sun VirtualBox Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex and Spawning

Linux, Ubuntu, VirtualBox Oct 17, 2008 No Comments

So I am one of those kids who is always in the beta…of everything.

I decided to try the new version of Ubuntu (Intrepid Ibex). Install went pretty smooth, but when I went to open my Vbox Image it would just hang on spawning session.

The fix? Simple, reinstall VirtualBox or just run the recompile…

Download Package Here

or in the console enter:

sudo dpkg-reconfigure virtualbox-2.0

Problem Solved.

Microsoft Office 2008 (and the scam there-in)

Microsoft, osX Oct 17, 2008 1 Comment

Well, all I can say is this is precisely why I use Linux…nothing in this blog is recommended as a work around, but it is one. If you are interested in saving $250 US then read below.

Problem: Using Entourage 2008 from hosted exchange provider in conjunction with Office 2008 Home and Student


UPDATE
: I would try this method below from the “Entourage Help Blog” first. It allows you to use office with the latest updates, giving you better security. If that doesn’t work skip to the other method.

Method 1 (worked 50% of the time)

What you need:
Office 2008 SP1 update 12.1.0
Office 2008 SP1 update 12.1.3 or newer
30-45 Minutes

Note: that for this to work for me I had to completely remove the existing installation of Office 2008 off the computer by going to:
Applications -> Microsoft Office -> Additional Tools -> Remove Office. Reboot, then follow the instructions laid out HERE
***If the updater hangs on “checking existing / additional volumes,” try clicking back and then initiate it agian. I had to do this on almost of the service packs.***

Method 2:

What you need:
Office 2008 CD/DVD
Entourage 2008 DMG
1 Hour


I have been doing a decent amount of work for a client who uses a Mac. Well they bought their Macs with MS Office 2008 Home and Student Edition. One of the reasons I was hired with them was to help them migrate to a better mail solution. No problem right? Well thats what I thought.

Problem 1:
Apparently Home and Student edition (which I guess is different than 2004’s Student and Teacher Edition) no longer supports exchange connectivity in entourage. Talk about taking a step backwards apparently now that smartphones and iPhones have begun penetrating the consumer market, Microsoft thought it would be a good idea to pull support for free.

Solution?
Well, luckily (or perhaps not) Intermedia offers a free version of Entourage with each exchange account you create.
1. Download the .dmg
The Install Process:
1. Download the .dmg
2. Install…it gives a warning that installing this with Test Drive will cause a problem. Good thing we are using Home and Student!
3. Reboot…always a good idea.
4. Open Entourage
Uh oh, now you get a “Entourage Cannot Open the Main Identity” Whoops there goes all your old mail!

How to fix this:
Finder -> Documents – > Microsoft Office User Data
Drag the folders “Main Identity” to the desktop. Entourage now opens and works as stated.

5. Now lets edit a document in Word…or Excel…or PowerPoint.

We Cant!
You now receive and error stating “The application Microsoft PowerPoint quit unexpectedly”

Solution:

Reinstall Office 2008 for Mac

Why does this happen?
Well after a lengthy conversation with a very nice person at Microsoft (really, MS does have great support agents), I was informed that the “Free” version given to me by Intermedia is meant to be a stand alone version and not used in conjunction with any other version of office. Perhaps the screen that stated “Will not work with “Test Drive” could have shed some light on this BEFORE we wasted 3 hours.

I was then informed that I could get a refund from their “refund department” at 888-673-8624 and then repurchase the non-upgrade version of Office 2008 for Mac (Standard) for a price difference of a mere $250 US.

http://www.microsoft.com/mac/products/Office2008/shop-now.mspx

Oh yeah, and going from 2004 to the new entourage is seamless. Figure that one out.

The Caveat:
Well with “Method 2” you cant update office. Thats about it. Which is a security risk. But Macs can’t get a virus right 😉