S h o r t S t o r i e s

// Tales from software development

Archive for the ‘Hardware’ Category

Apple Airport Time Capsule NETBIOS name

leave a comment »

After setting up an Airport Time Capsule with the default base station name of “AirPort Time Capsule” I found that I couldn’t connect to it from a Windows PC using a NETBIOS name.

An IP address worked OK, e.g. I could open \\ in Windows Explorer and see the Data network share. But any attempt to use the base station name, even enclosed in quotes, failed:

C:\>ping "AirPort Time Capsule"
Ping request could not find Airport Time Capsule. Please check the name and try again.

A quick search on NETBIOS names showed that the maximum number of characters is 16 but that Microsoft reserves the 16th character. So, I tried NETBIOS names of fifteen and sixteen characters, e.g. “AirPort Time Ca”, but this failed too.

Knowing that some NETBIOS implementations, including Microsoft’s, can be fussy about characters such as spaces, I guessed that Apple probably uses a NETBIOS name based on the base station’s name but limited to fifteen characters and spaces replaced by hyphens or underscores. So I gave this a try:

C:\>ping "AirPort-Time-Ca"

and was rewarded with:

Pinging Airport-Time-Ca [] with 32 bytes of data:
Reply from bytes=32 time=2ms TTL=255
Reply from bytes=32 time<1ms TTL=255
Reply from bytes=32 time<1ms TTL=255
Reply from bytes=32 time<1ms TTL=255


Written by Sea Monkey

June 19, 2015 at 8:00 pm

Posted in Environments, Hardware

Tagged with ,

Windows 7 DisplayPort Link Failure: It might be the cable

with one comment

The day after I switched from a display configuration consisting of three 24″ Dell U2412M monitors to three 30″ Dell U3014 monitors on my Dell T5600 I was disappointed to suddenly see one monitor go blank and Windows 7 display this error message:

The system has detected a link failure and cannot set the requested resolution and refresh rate on your DisplayPort display. Your display might not support the requested resolution or there may be an issue with the cable connecting the display to your computer.

I’d checked and confirmed that the T5600’s AMD FirePro V5900 graphics card could handle three monitors at 2560 x 1600 resolution and had used the new display setup for most of the previous day without any problems. So what was the problem ? A defective monitor perhaps ?

I tried a few things: unplugging and re-seating the plugs on both ends of the DisplayPort cable, powering the monitor off and on, using the Detect function from the Control Panel Display Resolution applet. All to no avail. After a bit more fiddling around unplugging and replugging the cable the monitor came back to life but Windows decided that its maximum resolution was 1920 x 1200 rather than 2560 x 1600 and wouldn’t allow the correct resolution to be set.

When I’d re-seated the DisplayPort cable plugs I noticed that the cable was different from the other DisplayPort cable (the FirePro V5900 has two DisplayPort sockets and one DVI-D socket). The cable looked a bit, well, cheap. Both DisplayPort cables were the ones that had shipped with the monitors but they were definitely different. And, the error message did specifically say, “there may be an issue with the cable connecting the display to your computer”.

I went and retrieved one of the DisplayPort cables that I’d been using previously with the U2412M monitors and which I’d had to buy because the U2412M shipped with VGA and DVI-D cables only. I’d paid a premium price for these DisplayPort cables so hopefully they were good quality cables.

After changing the cable the monitor immediately came back to life and showed up in Windows with the correct maximum resolution of 2560 x 1600.

Written by Sea Monkey

May 3, 2015 at 8:00 pm

Posted in Hardware

Tagged with

Logitech Wireless Rechargeable Touchpad T650

leave a comment »

In my quest to find the perfect pointing device I’ve recently bought a Logitech Wireless Rechargeable Touchpad T650.

Having held off for months because I wasn’t convinced that this device was anything new, I caved in and decided to give it a try.

To give some context to what I’ve previously tried, I have a large storage box full of discarded and defunct input devices including:

Griffin PowerMate
Logitech Trackman Wheel trackball
Logitech NuLOOQ Navigator
CyKey MicroWriter
Numerous Logitech and Microsoft mice and keyboards

For the past five or six years I’ve used a Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000 Keyboard and a Logitech TrackMan Wheel trackball in preference to a mouse and, more recently, a Wacom Bamboo pen graphics tablet alongside this.

The attraction of the Logitech T650 is that it’s large at around five inches square and supports iOS/Windows 8 style gestures. My concern was that the gesture support might be limited in Windows 7 and would require Logitech specific software rather than a generic Microsoft driver. Having read a few reviews (e.g. Amazon) it appeared that the Windows 7 support was good and that the driver software is stable.

Having used it for the past few days this seems to be true and I’ve been very impressed with it. The gesture support is good with various combinations of taps, swipes, and fingers allowing you to click, right-click, double-click, drag, scroll, zoom, navigate forwards and backwards, switch applications, minimize current application, show the desktop, etc.

I never intended it to completely replace the TrackMan but having put that to one side for a few days to force myself to use the T650, I can see that I could live with T650 as my only pointing device.

The only significant downside I’ve found is that the new Logitech ‘unifying’ driver software that handles all of Logitech’s newer keyboards, mice, trackballs, and touchpads, isn’t compatible with my old TrackMan wireless trackball. Having installed the new driver software, it recognised the presence of the TrackMan but the device simply didn’t work. There is a new version of the TrackMan, the M570, that uses the new ‘unifying’ wireless technology so I guess I might have to buy one if I want to continue using a trackball as well. The upside is that only a single wireless receiver is required for up to six devices and it’s miniscule – the receiver only extends a few millimetres beyond the USB plug itself. The idea is that if you use it with a laptop then you can leave it plugged in even when putting the laptop into a bag or case.

A couple of other observations… First, by default the scrolling action is that swiping two fingers upwards across the touchpad results in an upwards scroll, and a downward scroll when two fingers are swiped down the touchpad. I’ve encountered this convention with other devices but it always seems back to front to me, i.e. it feels more natural and intuitive to push two fingers upwards to scroll down as though the text in the application (e.g. a web page in a browser) is a page of paper that is being pushed upwards so that you can view what is below. Fortunately, there is an option in the driver software to switch between the two conventions.

Secondly, unlike the TrackMan wireless trackball which uses a single AA battery that lasts for around a year or so, the T650 uses a rechargeable lithium battery which lasts for around a month before it needs recharging. A USB cable is provided for this but it is purely for recharging, i.e. it does not allow the T650 to used as a wired device rather than a wireless one. I can’t help but feel that this is the worst of two possibilities – a wireless device that I am likely to leave plugged in all the time because I can’t be bothered to periodically (even if only monthly) plug it in and charge it. That said, the T650 is much too slim to take even a AAA battery never mind a AA and being wireless and rechargeable does mean that it can be picked up and used to control the PC at some distance. I just can’t think why you’d want to do that.

Summary: Does what it says and works well on Windows 7, although I’ve only tested it on the 64 bit version.

Written by Sea Monkey

October 10, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Posted in Hardware

Tagged with

Using the PAE switch to enable 4GB RAM in Windows Server 2003 SP2

leave a comment »

In theory, the more recent versions of 32 bit Windows all support up to 4GB of memory and some support additional memory beyond 4GB when the Physical Address Extension (PAE) switch is enabled in boot.ini.

I’ve just upgraded a Windows Server 2003 SP2 server from 2GB to 4GB and so was disappointed to find that Windows only recognised 3GB. A few blog posts suggested that although the PAE switch is intended to enable use of memory above 4GB it seems to affect how Windows handles memory in the 3-4GB range too.

It’s an easy enough change to try. Just add /PAE to the end of the parameters in boot.ini:

[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Windows Server 2003, Standard" /noexecute=optout /fastdetect /PAE

It worked in this case – after a reboot Windows reported 4GB of physical memory.

Written by Sea Monkey

December 14, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Posted in Environments, Hardware

Tagged with ,

Kyocera FS-1350DN error “Call service F020:”

with 5 comments

I’ve owned a Kyocera FS-1350DN for a few years and am very happy with it. The only negative is that when printing several documents at a time the printer will sometimes pause for a few minutes between documents. I assume that this is due to the relatively modest 128Mb of memory that the printer is shipped with as standard.

Official Kyocera memory modules are expensive with even the 256Mb module priced at £250. However, I recently noticed a German retailer, PHS-electronic GmbH, selling a compatible 512Mb memory module on Amazon UK for a mere £30 and decided it was worth a try.

I was very impressed that the memory module arrived the next day and immediately installed it. I switched the printer off and removed the power cable as advised in the FS-1350DN user manual, installed the module, and then turned the printer on again.

Unfortunately, it displayed an error message within a few seconds:

Call service

I checked the manual but this specific error code is not described. I cycled the power but the error message appeared again. I removed the memory module after switching the printer off and unplugging the power cable and re-inserted it and realised what the problem was. The memory slot on the internal PCB seems to require that you slide the module into place holding it approximately parallel with the PCB. However, if you do this then it won’t be seated correctly.

You need to insert the module at an angle of around 30 degrees to the PCB and push it in firmly. You will feel it move positively into the slot. It can now be hinged downwards so that it is flat against the PCB and the metal retaining clips engage the module.

Once I’d done this the printer started successfully and the management web page shows that the module is recognised in memory slot 1:

Kyocera FS-1350DN Memory

Written by Sea Monkey

April 19, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Posted in Hardware

Tagged with

Dell Vostro 3700: Plugged in, not charging

with 6 comments

Last night I noticed that my Dell Vostro 3700 wasn’t charging. I’d unplugged and reconnected the power supply a few times during the course of the day and now, when I hovered the mouse over the power icon in the system tray, I saw the following message: 6% (plugged in, not charging)

This seemed a bit odd and I wondered why it wasn’t charging. I googled the message and found a number of forum posts describing similar symptoms and courses of action ranging from returning the power supply to Dell for replacement to a convoluted process of powering the laptop down, removing the battery, restarting the laptop and shutting it down, then putting the battery back in and rebooting again.

In my case, the ‘problem’ turned out to be user error. One of the Dell function keys on this particular model controls whether the battery should be charged or not. There’s a blue battery icon on the F2 key and pressing FN+F2 toggles between charging and not charging. This can be confirmed by right-clicking the tray icon and selecting Dell Battery Monitor. On the second tab, ‘Battery Life’, there’s a checkbox labelled ‘Disable battery charging’ which will either be checked or not depending on the current state of the FN-F2 function.

I’m guessing that Dell have added this feature so that you can disable battery charging if the laptop is used as a desktop replacement and always runs from AC power. Disabling the battery charging will probably prolog the life of the battery.

However, it seems a bit odd to have a function like this that is fairly obscure and easily (mis)used inadvertantly. I’m guessing that most users who accidentally put their laptops into a ‘not charging’ state won’t know why or how it happened and will assume that there’s a fault with their laptop or the power supply.

Written by Sea Monkey

January 11, 2011 at 8:00 am

Posted in Hardware

Tagged with

Dell Vostro 3700: Cannot connect to WiFi network on channel 13

with 3 comments

I’ve been having some problems with my SqueezeBox losing its WiFi connection on a regular basis so I had a look at the support forums and followed a recommendation to try a different WiFi channel in case there was interference from other 2.4Ghz devices.

I’ve used Channel 11 on every home WiFi station I’ve ever used as it seems to give a reliable and consistent performance but I followed the suggestion and re-configured my router/modem to use channel 13. The connection problem I’d been having on the SqueezeBox immediately went away but was replaced with a new one – my Dell Vostro 3700 laptop could no longer see the WiFi network.

After a bit of poking around I think I’ve found the answer and it’s not good. The driver for the built-in WiFi card (DW 1520 half-mini card) pre-installed when I bought the laptop in August 2010 has a ‘Location’ parameter that allows one value only: USA

Channel 13 is valid in Europe but not in the USA so this is likely to be why my WiFi network is no loger detected. I assumed that the USA-only driver was an early release and that an updated driver would be available from the Dell web site but the latest driver available is the same release:

Written by Sea Monkey

January 5, 2011 at 8:00 am

Posted in Hardware, Uncategorized

Tagged with