Category Archives: Platforms

More help is available

From the “Do you understand why people hate you, Microsoft?” department:

D:\>net stop xyz
The service name is invalid.

More help is available by typing NET HELPMSG 2185.

D:\>net helpmsg 2185

The service name is invalid.

D:\>

Yes. Very bloody helpful.

I don’t expect miracles in the command line, but I do expect that if I’m told more help is available, that more help is actually available.

Why can’t you resize Remote Desktop windows?

RDP optionsIf you can spontaneously change the resolution of Windows in a Virtual Machine, how come you can’t do it in a Remote Desktop session?

I’m forever opening up RDP sessions in the wrong resolution, because the RDP client seems to have a funny way of selectively remembering (or forgetting) the preference.

Sometimes if focussing entirely on the remote session, I’d like it to be full-sized. At other times I’d like it smaller so I can more easily jump between things.

Is there something complicated that stops RDP windows being resized after connection has been made? If it is possible in a VM, presumably it can’t be too hard in RDP?

It looks like in Windows 8 and later you can easily turn on “smart resizing”, and in earlier versions this can be configured in the .rdp file. But this scales the window at the original resolution, rather than changing resolution.

It’d be nice if proper resizing of the window was possible.

iTunes free U2 album: How to make it appear

So you don’t want to splash out on a new iWatch or iPhone, but you do want that new U2 album that’s free on iTunes until 14th October?

The instructions (for Mac or PC itunes) say:

On your Mac or PC, open iTunes, then select the Albums tab. Select Songs of Innocence. Select a track to listen or click the iCloud icon to download.

What they don’t tell you is what to do if it’s not showing there. In my case, it wasn’t. It also wasn’t in Purchased, and although I could see it in the iTunes Store (and play previews), the iCloud icon wasn’t appearing.

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 10.58.33 am

The answer is you need to switch on the option to see iCloud purchases:

Preferences / Store / Show iTunes in the Cloud purchases

Then it should appear in the Albums tab.

With thanks to Sam Wilkinson on Twitter

Update 2014-09-16: For those who aren’t as keen on U2, Apple has now published an article on how to remove the album from your iTunes:

Remove iTunes gift album “Songs of Innocence” from your iTunes music library and purchases

Upgrade of web site from .Net 2 to 4.5 breaks asmx web services

Despite my best Googling, nobody seems to have had quite this problem (and written about it).

I’m migrating a .Net 2 web site to .Net 4.5 (well, 4.5.1 to be precise). Everything seemed to work except browsing to the .asmx (web service) pages, which threw a System.BadImageFormatException: Invalid token error:

Error Stack:System.InvalidOperationException: Failed to handle request. —> System.InvalidOperationException: Unable to handle request. —> System.Configuration.ConfigurationErrorsException: Invalid token. —> System.BadImageFormatException: Invalid token.
at System.Reflection.RuntimeAssembly._nLoad(AssemblyName fileName, String codeBase, Evidence assemblySecurity, RuntimeAssembly locationHint, StackCrawlMark& stackMark, IntPtr pPrivHostBinder, Boolean throwOnFileNotFound, Boolean forIntrospection, Boolean suppressSecurityChecks)
at System.Reflection.RuntimeAssembly.nLoad(AssemblyName fileName, String codeBase, Evidence assemblySecurity, RuntimeAssembly locationHint, StackCrawlMark& stackMark, IntPtr pPrivHostBinder, Boolean throwOnFileNotFound, Boolean forIntrospection, Boolean suppressSecurityChecks)
at System.Reflection.RuntimeAssembly.InternalLoadAssemblyName(AssemblyName assemblyRef, Evidence assemblySecurity, RuntimeAssembly reqAssembly, StackCrawlMark& stackMark, IntPtr pPrivHostBinder, Boolean throwOnFileNotFound, Boolean forIntrospection, Boolean suppressSecurityChecks)
at System.Reflection.RuntimeAssembly.InternalLoad(String assemblyString, Evidence assemblySecurity, StackCrawlMark& stackMark, IntPtr pPrivHostBinder, Boolean forIntrospection)
at System.Reflection.RuntimeAssembly.InternalLoad(String assemblyString, Evidence assemblySecurity, StackCrawlMark& stackMark, Boolean forIntrospection)
at System.Reflection.Assembly.Load(String assemblyString)
at System.Web.Configuration.CompilationSection.LoadAssemblyHelper(String assemblyName, Boolean starDirective)
— End of inner exception stack trace —
at System.Web.Configuration.CompilationSection.LoadAssemblyHelper(String assemblyName, Boolean starDirective)
at System.Web.Configuration.CompilationSection.LoadAllAssembliesFromAppDomainBinDirectory()
at System.Web.Configuration.CompilationSection.LoadAssembly(AssemblyInfo ai)
at System.Web.Compilation.BuildManager.GetReferencedAssemblies(CompilationSection compConfig)
at System.Web.Compilation.WebDirectoryBatchCompiler..ctor(VirtualDirectory vdir)
at System.Web.Compilation.BuildManager.BatchCompileWebDirectoryInternal(VirtualDirectory vdir, Boolean ignoreErrors)
at System.Web.Compilation.BuildManager.BatchCompileWebDirectory(VirtualDirectory vdir, VirtualPath virtualDir, Boolean ignoreErrors)
at System.Web.Compilation.BuildManager.CompileWebFile(VirtualPath virtualPath)
at System.Web.Compilation.BuildManager.GetVPathBuildResultInternal(VirtualPath virtualPath, Boolean noBuild, Boolean allowCrossApp, Boolean allowBuildInPrecompile, Boolean throwIfNotFound, Boolean ensureIsUpToDate)
at System.Web.Compilation.BuildManager.GetVPathBuildResultWithNoAssert(HttpContext context, VirtualPath virtualPath, Boolean noBuild, Boolean allowCrossApp, Boolean allowBuildInPrecompile, Boolean throwIfNotFound, Boolean ensureIsUpToDate)
at System.Web.Compilation.BuildManager.GetVPathBuildResult(HttpContext context, VirtualPath virtualPath, Boolean noBuild, Boolean allowCrossApp, Boolean allowBuildInPrecompile, Boolean ensureIsUpToDate)
at System.Web.UI.PageParser.GetCompiledPageInstance(VirtualPath virtualPath, String inputFile, HttpContext context)
at System.Web.UI.PageParser.GetCompiledPageInstance(String virtualPath, String inputFile, HttpContext context)
at System.Web.Services.Protocols.DocumentationServerProtocol.GetCompiledPageInstance(String virtualPath, String inputFile, HttpContext context)
at System.Web.Services.Protocols.DocumentationServerProtocol.Initialize()
at System.Web.Services.Protocols.ServerProtocolFactory.Create(Type type, HttpContext context, HttpRequest request, HttpResponse response, Boolean& abortProcessing)
— End of inner exception stack trace —
at System.Web.Services.Protocols.ServerProtocolFactory.Create(Type type, HttpContext context, HttpRequest request, HttpResponse response, Boolean& abortProcessing)
at System.Web.Services.Protocols.WebServiceHandlerFactory.CoreGetHandler(Type type, HttpContext context, HttpRequest request, HttpResponse response)
— End of inner exception stack trace —
at System.Web.Services.Protocols.WebServiceHandlerFactory.CoreGetHandler(Type type, HttpContext context, HttpRequest request, HttpResponse response)
at System.Web.Services.Protocols.WebServiceHandlerFactory.GetHandler(HttpContext context, String verb, String url, String filePath)
at System.Web.Script.Services.ScriptHandlerFactory.GetHandler(HttpContext context, String requestType, String url, String pathTranslated)
at System.Web.HttpApplication.MaterializeHandlerExecutionStep.System.Web.HttpApplication.IExecutionStep.Execute()
at System.Web.HttpApplication.ExecuteStep(IExecutionStep step, Boolean& completedSynchronously)| Global.asax:Application_Error()

I tried adjusting the .Net version — turns out it would work fine in 3.5 or lower, but broke in 4 or higher.

My machine itself was okay — creating a new 4.5 web site with just a web service in it worked fine.

In the end the solution was to create a new web site and add the individual pages back into it, leaving out the Bin directory. I rebuilt that by adding references to the various DLLs back one by one. Something in the old Bin directory apparently was throwing it out.

Samsung Galaxy SII doesn’t mount under Linux

unable to mount samsung_android: error initialising camera -1 unspecified error

Screenshot of the error message

Unable to mount SAMSUNG_Android

Error initialising camera: -1 Unspecified error

So this is the error message I get when plugging my Samsung Galaxy S2 into the USB port on my Linux boxen, all running Linux Mint Maya running the MATE desktop (Ubuntu 12.04). 

PTP_transfer_enable The answer is, of course, you need to enable PTP transfers, rather than MTP transfers.  MTP transfers work great for Windows or Mac, but not Linux.  On your phone, drag down the Notifications screen, then under “Ongoing” you’ll find something about “other USB options”.  Select that and you can pick the PTP transfer.

Per the notes on how to take a screenshot on a different phone, I took a screenshot of the final screen. Getting the screenshot onto my computer, that was a whole world of hurt.  Settings | More Settings | USB utilities | USB mass storage needs to be turned on, otherwise the file browsing from Linux shows only the directory structure, no files whatsoever.

Of course, Cathy’s HTC Desire, it Just Works.

New graphics card in the Mac Pro

To recap: I’ve got two old 2008 Mac Pros. Lovely machines. The video card in one went bung (possibly power problems).

As a workaround I’ve been using a friend’s spare ATI Radeon 3870, which only works in Windows, not OS X.

I’ve just bought an upgrade: an nVidia GeForce GTX 480. Very nice. A beast of a card, too, very impressive looking. Got it on eBay from a bloke in NSW selling under the name “Mac PC Parts” for about A$270, which is a bit cheaper than the official Apple upgrade — which is no longer available anyway — and a LOT cheaper than any of the new cards at OWC or other etailers and retailers that I could find.

Mac Pro, video card installed

A note of caution to fellow Mac Pro 2008 users: it appears to be near-impossible to get the card out once plugged-in, due to the placement of the PCIe catch on that model of Mac Pro. It might explain why later models went to a bar thingy which is easier to get to. This also means it’s worth plugging in the two power cables before the card goes in.

Anyway, the card has taken the graphics rating in Windows 7’s Performance index thingy from 5.1 to 7.9. It even seems more responsive for regular web browsing.

There’s a certain amount of geek pride in getting each item, one by one, to the top of the scale.

But given the weak point is now the hard drive, it would seem that the next upgrade needs to be a new hard drive/SSD.

Windows performance index

But the main reason I wanted to get it was to get this computer running OS X again — son the elder is getting familiar with it at uni, and may need to run OS X-specific software again soon.

Alas, plugging in the OS X drive and trying to boot off it got me a “Operating system not found on disk” error. It would seem the Microsoft gremlins got onto it.

The disk doesn’t have anything important on it anyway, so stand by for updates as I figure out how to wipe it and rebuild OS X.

Update: It was easy. Download Mavericks onto a USB, boot it up and use the built-in disk manager to re-partition the OS X drive (I unplugged the Windows drive just to be sure I wouldn’t accidentally wipe it) then install onto it.

Plugged the Windows drive back in, and installed ReFit again to provide a more visible boot menu. Done.

Diablo I (yes, Diablo 1) LAN play on Vista or Windows 7

- and presumably 8.

There’s various convoluted steps to get LAN play working on more recent versions of Windows.

Mount the ISO on your hard drive, and use the somewhat unstable Microsoft supplied ISO mounting program to fool the program into thinking you CD is in a CD drive.  Install Diablo from here.  This step is not strictly necessary, but it’s so much quicker and cleaner than the alternatives.

Fetch and apply the patch to bring Diablo 1.00 up to version 1.09.  It may also be helpful to pull up the properties of the .exe and enable compatibility mode with WinXP Service Pack x. When fetching patch, get it for the version you’re installing – much confusion is caused if you get the spawned Diablo patch and apply it to the full version.

Go and get IPXWrapper, and per the instructions drop the DLL files into your Diablo directory. If you have a heterogeneous environment, all machines need to use this wrapper – IPXWrapper is a translation layer than transforms IPX into UDP, and without it IPX aware OSes like WinXP won’t see the network traffic of the IPX unaware OSes like Vista.  Punch a hole in your Windows Firewall to allow UDP port 54792.

To fix the palette issue, you might want to wrap the exe in a batch script to kill Windows Explorer whilst you’re playing Diablo.  However a better idea is to download the registry patch, which seems to work under Vista as well:

32-bit Windows 7 – http://ftp.blizzard.com/pub/diablo/d109_x86.reg
64-bit Windows 7 – http://ftp.blizzard.com/pub/diablo/d109_x64.reg

See?  Easy.  Doesn’t take more than a few hours if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Where did I take that photo?

I couldn’t find anyone extracting out the geolocation geotagging EXIF data from their photographs so they could pull it up on something like Google Maps.  There are stand-alone programs with embedded maps, but the bits and bobs lying around on the average system ought to be enough to just generate a URL to a mapping website.  The following bash script echoes the  URL that geolocates your JPEG.  Because my camera doesn’t emit it, I couldn’t be bothered dealing with the seconds part of a location, but I did detect that you don’t have a camera the same as mine.  Drop a line if you’ve used this and fixed it.

#!/bin/bash
# emit a hyperlink to google maps for the location of a photograph
declare Seconds=""
Seconds=`exif -m --ifd=GPS --tag=0x02 $1 | grep -oP "[\d|\d\.]+$"`
if (( $Seconds=='0' ))
then
  Seconds=`exif -m --ifd=GPS --tag=0x04 $1 | grep -oP "[\d|\d\.]+$"`
fi
if (( $Seconds!='0' ))
then
  echo
  echo "Script does not support seconds being specified"
  exit
fi
echo -n "https://maps.google.com.au/?q="
declare NorthSouth=`exif -m --ifd=GPS --tag=0x01 $1`
if [ "$NorthSouth" == "S" ] 
then
  echo -n "-"
fi
echo -n `exif -m --ifd=GPS --tag=0x02 $1 | grep -oP "^[\d|\d\.]+"`
echo -n "%20"
echo -n `exif -m --ifd=GPS --tag=0x02 $1 | grep -oP "(?<= )[\d|\d\.]+,"`
declare EastWest=`exif -m --ifd=GPS --tag=0x03 $1`
if [ "$EastWest" == "W" ]
then
  echo -n "-"
fi
echo -n `exif -m --ifd=GPS --tag=0x04 $1 | grep -oP "^[\d|\d\.]+"`
echo -n "%20"
echo -n `exif -m --ifd=GPS --tag=0x04 $1 | grep -oP "(?<= )[\d|\d\.]+(?=,)"`
echo

Can’t copy address bar from Google Chrome

I’ve had periodic problems with Google Chrome on Windows (Version 32.0.1700.102 m, but this has also happened occasionally in the past); sometimes it will refuse to copy the address bar.

Instead of copying, it will clear the clipboard.

Copying from other places, such as a web page (content or using Right-click / Copy Link Address) works fine.

Not sure if it’s an environmental issue — only seems to happen on my work machine; I haven’t seen the same at home.

Very odd.

Blogging it here because I can’t see any mentions of it online (which might be because it’s just me). Will post back if I find the solution.

Update 2014-01-31: I uninstalled and reinstalled Chrome… it seems to work again, for now.

Update 2014-02-05: The problem seems to have come back. Very odd.

Update 2014-02-20: Some old posts on a related problem seemed to suggest it might be a Chrome Extension causing issues, so I removed all of mine. The problem seems to still be intermittently occurring.

Installing Pygal into Cygwin

Pygal is a python library for emitting SVG charts. It might do PNGs too; the documentation is… sparse. Okay, there’s no documentation, but they show you several ways to make bar charts, and figure you can follow on from there.  Anyways, the installation instructions don’t work, not under cygwin.

Here’s what you should do:

  1. ensure cygwin has the libs libxml2-devel and libxslt-devel installed
  2. issue the command
    cygwin$ pip install pygal

and you’re done. Getting pip into cygwin is a whole world of hurt, but you will need to go looking for a http (not https) source to download setuptools, then download and run ez_setup.py, followed by using pip to upgrade setuptools. Have fun with that; I know I did.

Nvidia 8800GT nvlddmkm.sys blue screen of death

I’ve got two old Mac Pros, and on one of them, the Nvidia 8800GT video card suddenly started causing weird errors in Windows.

Nvidia crash

Then it started doing the blue screen of death repeatedly, a crash in nvlddmkm.sys.

Nvidia blue screen

I have no idea why it started happening now — the Nvidia drivers don’t appear to have been updated for months, and Windows Update hasn’t installed anything for almost a week.

Oh well.

Boot into Safe Mode With Networking

Download the latest drivers

Install with Clean Option on

Reboot

Seems now to work, touch wood.

Update 2013-11-19 18:45 — No such luck. It seemed fine this morning, but later on started crashing like before. Investigations continue.

Update 2013-11-19 21:00 — After playing around disabling various things, and puzzling over what might have updated itself (since there was nothing recently installed or patched listed by Windows), I think I may have found the culprit: the Steam client beta (which I’m using to get the family sharing trial). Have disabled this, and Windows seems to be stable again. Will try it for a bit longer, then report findings to Steam.

Update 2013-11-20 — It couldn’t be that easy, of course. And I have dissed Steam without justification. The video card is still playing up — now so much so that:

  • a lovely speckly pattern appears when booting
  • Windows proclaims the video card isn’t working, and automatically puts us into Base Video (640×480) mode
  • OS X won’t boot at all — the GUI presumably tries to come up, then it reboots

Oh dear. Trouble in video card land.

The card is an NVidia GeForce 8800 GT, quite a nicely specced card. I suspect it’ll need replacing, dammit.

Update 28/11/2013: As per the comments I found another spare PCIe card (an ATI Radeon 3870) which works… in Windows. Not in OS X. Even the broken card partially works in Windows, but not at all in OS X.

A workmate pointed me to the Tony Mac x86 web site, where I found a good list of graphics cards compatible with OS X.

Thankfully however this specific machine is mostly used for Windows-only, so there’s no tearing rush. In fact Windows performance index thingy rates the ATI card slightly higher than the nVidia one.

One option is to buy the official Apple-supported Mac Pro video upgrade kit, an ATI Radeon HD5770, which is A$299. Despite the Apple site claiming it requires a post-2010 Mac Pro, plenty of sources indicate it’s fine with a 2008.

Update 2014-04-08: New video card bought and successfully installed