Archive for the ‘Making It Work’ Category

Unexpected Relationship

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Recently I needed a Python fix, Monty Python that is. I tried to watch the Spanish Inquisition on Netflix. Firefox (3.6) kept saying the Silverlight plug-in has crashed. Reinstalling Silverlight did not help. Luckily, someone else had already solved this one.  Silverlight would not run because the Windows Tablet PC Input Service was disabled.  I figured I did not have a tablet PC and was not using pen input.  Silly me.

I re-enabled the service and started it.  Silverlight ran fine after that.


Friday, September 10th, 2010

I just learned this one: to get the text of cross references in your MS Word document to update (say you inserted another table and it changed the numbering of your Table captions), do a Print Preview… then close the preview window. Sigh. And that after a lot of time spent looking for an Update Cross References button. Also, searching in the Word help for “update cross references” turned up nothing.

This trick was part of number 6 of Ten things every Microsoft Word user should know.  Users shouldn’t have to know this.

Follow-up:  Others report that you can Ctrl-A to select the whole document, then press F9 to update the references.

HP setup fail fail

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

I recently bought and installed a new HP OfficeJet 6500 All-in-One device.  Works great!  …as I eventually found out.  Lesson learned:  don’t always believe the installation test results.

Here’s how I learned my lesson:

I connect the new printer device to our network, and to the phone line. The phone line passes through the device (for fax) and on to an answering machine (a “TAM” (telephone answering machine) in some of the HP docs).  This is so the device can eavesdrop on the line and intercept fax transmissions before they get to the answering machine.

During the installation, the Fax Test keeps failing with the message “You are not using the correct type of phone cord.” Most phone cords have 4 conductors. The printer comes with a special 2-conductor cord, which is not very long. However, as instructed, I connect from the wall jack to the OfficeJet’s 1-Line connection with the supplied cord, and from the OfficeJet’s 2-Ext connection to the TAM with the TAM’s cord.

“Fax test failed: You are not using the correct type of phone cord.”

I try disconnecting the TAM.

“Fax test passed.”

Could the OfficeJet somehow be getting a signal from the TAM on the unused part of the 4-conductor cord? So I cut off one of the connectors, crimp on a new one to pass just the 2 (red and green) conductors, and connect it back up.

“Fax test failed: You are not using the correct type of phone cord.”

How can it know?!  I do some online searches.  Many of the posts just say “the special cord is too short; where do I get a new one?”  Of the posts that are actually trying to troubleshoot the problem, most solutions say “use the supplied special phone cord.”  I’m already using it.  One suggests to power cycle everything, so I try that.

“Fax test failed: You are not using the correct type of phone cord.”

Now I am starting to think the Fax Test is bad, so I run my own test.  The TAM and its attached phone are getting a dialtone, so there is continuity.  I try the HP FaxBack service, which comes conveniently preprogrammed on Fax Speed Dial #1.  It sends.  A few minutes later it receives.  The incoming call rings 4 times, then the TAM picks it up.  The OfficeJet hears the incoming fax tone and intercepts.  All works!  I’m happy.  My conclusion is that the Fax Test is flawed, and that I probably did not have to modify my phone cord.

Allow program to run with Admin privileges at startup

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

I have occasionally found it necessary to have a program start when I log in to my Windows desktop, but with Admin privileges.   A little Google searching turned up this procedure for Windows Vista.  I assume it works the same or very similarly for Windows 7.  Because it is a bit mystical, I have been living in fear that the website with the instructions will disappear and I will never again be able to successfully set up a task in the task scheduler to run with Admin privileges, so I have copied the instructions here, with all credit due to the original author at Thomas’ Developer Blog.

To begin you have to start by removing that program from start up.

1) Run > msconfig
2) Click the Startup Tab
3) Scroll down until you find that pesky program giving you issues
4) Note the location and see if it is HKLM or HKCU

Open up regedit
1) Run > regedit
2) If it is HKLM go to HKey_Local_Machine otherwise it should be HKey_Current_User
3) Go to HKLM/HKCU > Software > Windows > Current Version > Run
4) Find that pesky program, right click, and delete that string value (the ab icon thing)

After that you need to go to task scheduler
1) go to: Start > Program Files > Accessories > System Tools > Task Scheduler
2) Under actions context at the top click “create task…”

Under create task
1) Give it a name (I choose the name of the program
2) Make sure you select run only when user is logged on
3) Check “Run with highest privileges
4) Go to the triggers tab
5) Click New
6) From the drop down select at log on
7) Make sure everything is unchecked EXCEPT “enabled” and click OK
8 ) Click Actions tab
9) Click New
10) Select Start a Program from the dropdownlist
11) Browse for the program you want to start
12) Click OK
13) Click Settings Tab
14) Check Allow task to be run on demand
15) Check Run task asap after a scheduled start is missed
16) Uncheck “Stop the task if it runs longer than:”
17) Uncheck “If the task is not scheduled to run again…”  (note that you can check this if you want, but only if you don’t plan to run the program again after a set time)
18 ) Make sure “Do not start a new instance” is selected from the drop down list at the bottom
19) Click OK
20) Restart and it should be working just fine

Ubuntu Lucid Lynx upgrade breaks Grub boot loader

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Today I upgraded my laptop, which dual boots Ubuntu and Windows 7, to Lucid Lynx (Ubuntu 10.4).  Towards the end of the upgrade it said it was upgrading Grub (the multi-OS boot loader) to Grub2.  It then asked me some questions about which partitions to modify.

Apparently I answered wrong, because when the upgrade finished and I rebooted, I got an error message from Grub: “Error 4: Symbol ‘grub_puts_’ not found“.  I ended up at a prompt that said “grub-rescue>” where very few commands worked.  Even “help” was not recognized.

Thankfully, others had blazed the trail.  A little web searching turned up a procedure for repairing the Grub install.  (Note:   the first command should be “sudo fdisk -l” with a space dash lower-case L).  I just booted from the Ubuntu LiveCD and followed the procedure.  That resurrected Grub and allowed me to boot successfully into Linux.

Well, as you might have guessed, my Windows 7 boot had also been clobbered.  To fix that, I had to boot from the Windows 7 CD and follow these instructions.

Finally, here are a couple of other informational references for Grub 2:

Many thanks to those who went before, battled the dragons, lived to tell the tale, and took the time to tell it.

iPhone Screen Capture

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

iPhone ScreenshotDuring my last Japan visit, my good friend Tomo showed me how to take an iPhone screenshot:

  1. Press and hold the power button
  2. Press the main round button

The screenshot is saved in your Camera Roll.  From there you can email it, or sync it over to your main computer.

AC remote interpretation

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

My hotel room in Japan had a ceiling heat/AC unit with a remote control on the wall to operate it.  I got by until I had to switch it from heating to cooling one day.  So I asked for help from one of my Japanese colleagues, who interpreted the controls for me.  I didn’t get around to experimenting with them all, but I labeled the buttons.  The Up/Down, Left/Right, and Wide buttons control the baffles that aim the air.  The buttons in the green box at the lower left are some kind of timer that I didn’t mess with:  maybe associated with the Sleep Timer?  The one that solved my problems was the Change Mode button.

Japanese AC Remote with Labels

Sorry that I forgot to write down the name of the manufacturer of the unit.

Edit:  A helpful reader says the brand name is Daikin.

Black terrain after conversion to .vsb

Saturday, May 1st, 2010

Terrain in Vega PrimeAfter my last big visual database delivery on a tight deadline, I thought I had Terra Vista terrain generation mastered:  simply convert the OpenFlight to .vsb and make sure to specify the path to your vt_sub.rgb texture.

Then this time around, my texture came out black.  What now?  Turns out I had gotten used to using the -ct flag for the to_vsb.exe command when converting my culture layers.  -ct compresses the texture maps to .dds format.  Make sure to leave that off when converting the terrain layer that is textured with a virtual texture!

White terrain after conversion to .vsb

Saturday, May 1st, 2010

Terrain in Vega PrimeUsing Terra Vista I generated a large terrain surface covered with a large Virtual Texture.  It looked fine when I loaded the OpenFlight version of it into Vega Prime.  But when I converted it to .vsb format, the terrain came up white.

Dan Oller from Presagis explained why.  The vsb converter (to_vsb.exe)  is creating an optimized file for fast runtime loading, so it doesn’t want to include anything that does not exist.  So if it does not find a texture map, it will not include it.  The terrain that is to be covered with the Virtual Texture has a placeholder texture on it called vt_sub.rgb.  A copy of that texture needs to be somewhere where the vsb converter can find it when it converts your OpenFlight files.  You can specify a search path for the vsb converter.  In the GUI, under Options -> VSB Options…, add folders to the Search Path Options list.  On the command line, use the -p option followed by one or more pathnames to search, separated by semicolons.  On the command line, remember to use quotes if your pathnames contain spaces.

Terra Vista kills to_vsb.exe

Friday, April 30th, 2010

I have a Terra Vista project big enough that it takes about 6 hours to convert all the OpenFlight that gets generated to the fast-loading .vsb format.  I use the command line version of the to_vsb.exe tool because there are too many files for the GUI version to handle (because it tries to put them all into its scrolling list boxes).

I was nearing my delivery deadline, so I was doing some Terra Vista processing, and converting some .flt data that had already been generated.  I was waiting and waiting for to_vsb to finish.  Finally I decided to check the processes in the Task Manager.  to_vsb had disappeared!  I finally figured out Terra Vista was killing it, but why!?

Presagis Support had an explanation:  Terra Vista invokes to_vsb to convert its output.  When it is done using to_vsb, it kills all the to_vsb processes.  Not an elegant bit of programming, that.  Anyway, mystery solved.

Presagis suggests that if you want to run to_vsb and Terra Vista concurrently, you should make a copy of to_vsb.exe and rename it so TV won’t kill it.