Enable writing with Apple’s built-in NTFS driver

18 03 2010
I am linking to this so I don’t forget

“Compatibility with Microsoft’s NTFS filesystem is sometimes necessary for people who use either separate PCs or Boot Camp. While Apple offers a driver to read NTFS volumes, by default it will not write to them. To overcome this, there are several third-party NTFS drivers available, but in Snow Leopard you can also set Apple’s built-in driver to write to NTFS as well.”

XP slow? Another list of things to try

16 03 2010

When your XP or 2000 computer gets slow a rebuild may not be needed.

First as I have mentioned before it is a good idea to eliminate hardware as the reason for the computer slowness.

Is the hard drive full? A full or nearly full drive will affect performance. If you have less than about 20% free space on the hard drive you may need a new drive or to delete files to free up space.

Does the machine feel hot to the touch? Is it faster for a short period of time after it has been shut down for a time? Can you hear or feel the fans putting out air? If you open task manager and the CPU usage is low, but the machine is hot and running slowly, either the fan is not working or perhaps there is something clogging the vent. If this is the case, unless the machine is taken apart and cleaned you won’t be able to fix the problem.

Running the quick diagnostics and looking for errors is a good idea. On newer Dell systems, with the computer powered off hold the key while pressing the power button, let go of both buttons when the computer powers up. On older Dell systems, when you see that Dell BIOS splash screen hit Ctrl-Alt-D. Let it run the diagnostics, all we are looking for errors to see if any of them are related to the performance issue.

If none of the above applies, start looking at software problems.

Uninstall any unused programs, the less you have, the less problems you will have. Make sure you are only running one anti-virus/anti-spyware program, while you are at it switch to Microsoft Security Essentials.

Make sure all of your Microsoft Updates are applied, just in case there is an unresolved bug causing the problem. You could also look for driver updates for the hardware when you are running the Microsoft Updates.

Clean up the ‘crud’ that accumulates in your system. Use CCleaner to to clean out temporary internet files, disable startup items, and to clean up the registry. When you install it, make sure to pay attention and don’t install the tool bar.

Defragment the hard drive. You can start with the built-in defragmenter, and if that doesn’t help you can try Defraggler.

This should give you enough to try for now, of course you could buy a SSD drive…

Can ping but can’t browse – a reminder to think the problem through before acting

16 03 2010

The computer in question was Windows XP SP3 with IE8 and McAfee. Since the user in question (like most people) hasn’t used a wired connection for so long the problem initially presented itself as a wireless issue. This remote user described the problem to me as he could not connect to wireless – 1st error – unless you can see they are describing the problem correctly never assume the user knows what they are talking about. It ended up being some sort of driver/software conflict

There are so many different variables that I can’t assume (and neither should you) that blindly following a list will get you a result. You need to understand what it usually means if you cannot ping by name but you can ping by IP. With that caveat here are some suggestions to try, let me know if I left something out or if I should order them differently.

  • Verify they are connected to the correct wireless network – if this fails…
    • verify type of network, SSID, encryption and key, etc
      • You can often connect to a network but get nowhere if you have the right key but the wrong type of encryption
  • Verify the device is enabled and has no errors in the device manager
  • Verify (if possible) that others can connect to wireless and the internet
    • if this fails… you need to deal with the router
    • if this succeeds try a wired connection to the router
  • Verify IP address, DNS, default gateway (cmd – then ipconfig/all) – if this fails…
    • ipconfig /release and then ipconfig / renew
    • verify properties of the connection
      • Is it set to use DHCP or manual – whichever is correct in your situation
        • usually the former
      • correct driver?
      • Power settings on adapter?
        • Scroll down to Brian’s answer on this website
      • TCP/IP installed and checked?
  • Verify they can ping  – systematically (either outside in or inside out)
    • Outside in would be something like
      • ping remote address by name – if this fails…
      • ping remote address by IP – if this fails…
      • ping default gateway by IP – if this fails…
      • ping local address by IP – if this fails…
      • ping localhost by IP ( if this fails..
  • Verify that you can connect wired or wireless by booting into safe mode with networking
    • If so, you probably have a conflict with hardware or software
      • Can you scan for spyware?
      • Check your list of software for security and or antivirus programs that may be causing conflicts
      • Try a system restore (if enabled)
        • if this fails you may have to rebuild the system
    • If not, and with the assumption that you double check all of the above, the system is probably beyond repair

Let me know what you think, and if you have anything to add…

Close Unexpected Pop-ups with ALT-F4

15 03 2010

Many malicious programs are using various techniques to try infect your computer. While we are actively pursuing new ways to defend your computer, an inadvertent mouse click may be all that stands between you and a major problem.

Consider the graphic. If you were to click the red ‘X’ to close the window, you would have ended up installing the virus instead of closing it, clicking anywhere on that window will actually cause the payload to hit – the whole thing including the title bar is a linked graphic. The mouse cursor may even change to the active link pointer, which would be a clue that there is something sneaky going on.

How can you safely close these unexpected windows without messing up your computer? By simply holding the ALT key and then pressing the F4 function key, you would safely close the window.

The key point is to train yourself to use ALT+F4 to close open windows.

Troubleshooting Outlook Performance Issues

13 03 2010

If you ever deal with complaints about Outlook speed, the first thing you need to do (apart from verifying all the latest patches are applied) is to make sure the user is following best practices when it comes to mailbox size (i.e. less than 2GB) . Of course as soon as you enforce or even suggest this you will receive complaints, once the user is shown the performance difference they may come around. This kb from Microsoft offers some additional suggestions. Hopefully this limitation will be fixed in Outlook 2010.

BSOD with Hyper-V & HP DL360 G5

11 03 2010

It appears to be a bug.
The workaround is to disable the processor C3 state (deep sleep) in the BIOS.

On DL360 G5’s (P58 BIOS) that is in the BIOS under
Advanced Options -> Processor Options -> Intel Core C3 State,
change it to ‘Disabled’.

After doing that, Hyper-V installs and no BSOD.

Get your Blue Screen of Death T-shirt, Large here…

Why installing a bunch of stuff on a Windows computer is a bad idea

9 10 2009

So I get an email from someone with XP and Office 2007 that both Excel and Outlook are unable to work properly (links are messed up, unable to move email around, etc) with the error “this operation has been canceled due to restrictions in effect on this computer”.

After verifying that they indeed had local admin privileges, I went to my best friend ‘Google’… Google didn’t help me much, so I asked the person if they had installed anything – and of course they had. When in doubt, blame the last thing you messed with.

What had they installed? Google Chrome – and not only had they installed it, they reinstalled it. When will people learn? Anyway with this new information, they changed the default browser and it works – for now anyway. Of course after that happened I found an article talking about how a corrupt registry entry at HKEY_Local_Machine\Software\Classes \htmlfile\shell\open\command can cause this problem and that Chrome can break Outlook.

Moral of the story? Quit installing junk on your computer!