Thursday, November 14, 2013

Seagate Backup Plus Drive USB 3.0 Disconnects and Reconnects on Windows 8.1 upgrade - Not a Workaround

This did not work. The drive still disconnect periodically when a Western Digital USB 3.0 drive connected to the same hub does not. I'm going to try removing all data and reformatting. I had to give up on this and re-purpose the drive on a pogoplug. Nothing written below worked. I am leaving this here so you can see my steps.

I have a Seagate Backup Plus Drive 2.0TB attached to a USB 3.0 port that started disconnecting and reconnecting on it's own when connected to USB 3.0. This started after I upgraded to windows 8.1 from 8.0. If the drive is moved to a USB 2.0 port there are no issues. I suspected a power savings issue since this would happen on an interval when the drive was not in use such as video streaming or surfing photos. The drive is a full size 3.5 inch drive in a portable USB 3.0 case with it's own external AC power adapter. Power to the drive should not be an issue.

I bought a SIIG USB hub and the problem persisted when the hub was connected to the USB 3.0 port without the 4 amp power adapter that came with the SIIG hub. Once the power adapter was added the drive no longer had issues.

Hub Info:

This is 3 USB3.0 ports and 4 USB 2.0 ports. I paid $28. There is a $20 coupon code that you can apply under the price. I am guessing that any externally powered USB 3.0 hub would work. This was my only windows 8 issue after upgrades to 6 machines.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Hidden Treasure or Fools Gold?

I recently ran into a little treasure when trying to completely remove Google from my machine and running into a hidden database that was locked and can't be removed without reformatting the hard drive. IObit offers free software to unlock files or directories that simply made my machine un-bootable which led to the previous article. It was locked in the same way the Windows OS locks the previous installation. I decided to use Opera browser
instead since it is almost identical under the hood to Chrome. So I started using the IOBit start menu 8. It work as expected but if you are an experienced user I caution you. You will realize you miss key features in Windows 8. Most settings are configurable and you can get back to the paneled start screen easy enough. Switching between apps from the Tiles can be a pain. The nice feature is you can turn this on and off in settings so you don't have to uninstall it if you ever want to go back. If you use Windows 8 there is no going back. There are some easy ways to enhance Windows 8 to get the best of both worlds but I will say that for the afterlife.

What does
Start Menu 8 do?
Start Menu 8 is specially designed for Windows 8. It offers a perfect solution for users who work with Windows Start Menu all the time and are not accustomed to the new Metro start screen in Windows 8. This smart tool brings back both the Windows 8 start button and Windows 8 Start Menu, and offers the option to skip Metro start page, allowing users who only work on desktop to boot to Windows 8 desktop directly. It's the best Windows 8 start menu replacement.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Road to Windows 8.1 is feeling like the Baatan Death March

No disrespect intended. I believe it honors the men and women left behind when MacArthur slipped away by remembering the sacrifice and also the brutality. War crimes continue into the modern day just as we see acts of bravery and courage. Now, like WWII, is one of the turning points in US history where our freedoms are not only being challenged but being violated and it is having a global impact.

This upgrade path to windows 8.1 from Windows 7 is brutal. Is it really that different from the old service pack model. If you have a retails disk you would install and upgrade. Maybe the Window 8 line will have a similar roll-up as XP sp3. My biggest issue is all the keys. It is best to keep these keys in a file or email where they are tied together so you know what key is for what machine and for what product offering.

I started out with Windows 7 in various versions. I payed for the Windows 8.0 promotion for several machines. This was a upgrade ISO where a key is provided to upgrade windows 7 to windows 8 pro.
I was given a key via email and a receipt for my purchase from the windows store. Later I had to find an obscure link to apply to get a email that provides a media center upgrade for windows 8 which was free at the time. This media center key is the new key applied to the machine. This key will not let you do a clean install so you need to apply your first key if you run into a major issue then reapply the media center component. Then I'm guessing upgrade again. Well Microsoft has a clear end to the upgrade path. How is this going to impact people that fall along this path. If you have multiple machines for yourself or family then now is the time to buy everyone Macs. Since this is high tech on a budget maybe just let them buy their own MACs.

In reality most people get the OS with a new PC. If you are looking at this site then you already know that is a bad idea since a DIY PC should be about 50% the price of a boutique PC on the high end. On the low end with budget DIY PC the OS becomes a big percentage of the cost. So we are now in too deep and need a plan. It is always best to backup as a first option but if your anything like me backups are not as frequent as I would like and I can't remember if there is anything important I might loose. My backups tend to be more about content than disk images. This is even more important when I have so many machines to think about.

Now with windows 8.1 you can download a ISO as a upgrade only ISO from windows 8 to windows 8.1.

Here are the links:
This article spells out how to create the media:
In this Winsupersite article it is clear this disk is only going to help with the upgrade and not allow us to go from 7 to 8 to 8 with media center to 8.1.

This is for the purposes of a upgrade only since we don't have a retail 8.1 key at this point.
Finally microsoft's link with instructions:

So if I have issues with windows where it won't boot or I need to repair what disk should I be using?

To create recovery drive for Windows-8, please start (open) the "Recovery Tools" in Windows-8! 

press the key combination
[Win-Logo]+[R], then simply type the command
control.exe /name Microsoft.Recovery
(... see Image1-1).  

Use one of your old small USB sticks. The stick will be formatted so save whatever you think you might need. Label it Win 8.1 Recovery as well.

In "Recovery Tools"  click the text "Create recovery drive". 

This will start the "recovery drive wizard" for Windows-8! The drive must be able to hold at least 256 MB, and everything on the drive will be deleted. You can use DVD-R/RW, CD-R/RW, USB .... 

Well the plot thickens. I ran into more issues when trying to recover from a windows 8.1 disaster after I tried to completely remove Google and all Google services from my machine. There was a hidden locked database that would not go away without formatting my hard drive. Unfortunately for me the damage was already done. The OS failed to boot and I needed to attempt a repair. To make a long story short you need the Windows 8.1 ISO. Not the recovery disk and not your windows 8.0 ISO. They all say invalid disk on any attempt to repair or even start a new install. I had to move the drive to a second PC and reover the files then reformat then install windows 8.0 then the media center key then upgrade to 8.1. I was able to get a bit torrent version of the 8.1 ISO for future recovery efforts. I would hope Microsoft makes this available to paying customers because as it stands now if you get backed into a corner there is no escape. Windows 8.1 is not a service pak. It is 3.5 GB of data that is downloaded and installed over your windows 8.0 which also requires re-installing your start screen apps. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Best First Date Ever - Easy, Free, did what I told it to do, didn't complain, and made me so happy.

I needed to migrate my laptop SSD to a slightly smaller msata drive. I first used the Microsoft Disk Management to shrink a partition of the existing operating system drive. I then used a program that is the best backup and recovery program I have ever used. The learning curve is ZERO. This program is simple to use. intuitive, and fast. I don't see anything it can't do. Most of the application walks you through what you are attempting to do. It really is the complete package and just works no questions asked.

Why you pay for Norton Ghost when there is a free alternative?

Why pay for something that is likely going to frustrate you. Will become outdated with the next release of windows with the offer to buy their new version after you just bought the old version a month ago. No I'm not bitter but there is finally a beautiful alternative to Norton and Acronis.

The biggest issue is the software prompts you periodically through services and startup applications with a S.
Get the job done and uninstall or run it in a VM or dual boot to be safe.

EaseUS Free Backup Software

  • Efficient system backup & recovery. No need to reinstall OS or applications to get everything back.
  • Backup data, system, hard disk, partition or individual files to a safe destination for disaster recovery.
  • Disk clone, disk upgrade and SSD migration solution.
  • Directly recover individual files from disk/partition backup image, no need to recover the whole image.
  • Every free user also can enjoy free automatic updates and version upgrades.
  • Our technical support team is ready to answer questions and guide you to complete repair with 24/7 email support.

My migration from a 128G SSD to a 120G msata SSD was as simple as selecting the clone option and then selecting the target and destination.

Later I wanted to backup my 320G multi partitioned original OS hard drive. This had 3 partitions set up this way to allow for recovery of the original Lenovo image. This is typical for many PCs and Laptops to come with recovery partitions.

I simply selected the 3 partitions and then selected backup and all 3 were stored in a dated folder under a single backup image. The tool provides a data verification which would be most useful with a offsite backup via a network connection or to a wireless NAS. 

I was able to later mount that image where, once open in the tool, I could select which partition to mount. You also have the ability to explore files and folders.

Checkout the full list of features from the link about. The shorter list would be what can't this do. 


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Recover Your Office Key Before You Can'r

NirSoft is a utilities developer that has a large number of useful tools for recovery and utilities to help diagnose problems. Most of this stuff is free.

Get your keys and print them to a file using foxit pdf or just use the XPS windows format. I prefer to use the portable foxit to avoid and problems with toolbars or crapware that might get installed it you aren't paying attention to the foxit installer.  You can also copy the keys from the tool to a notepad and email them to yourself.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Car Speaker spacers for about 60 cents per foot. My honda fit has speakers that extend out the door about 3/4 of  an inch. Like any after market speaker you will likely have to cut the door or add a spacer. I cut the door thinking I would get a perfect flush fit until I rolled down my window and heard a clunk.

So this was my simple solution. Use rope you can buy at any hardware store for 60 cents per foot. It will maintain a great acoustic seal while holding up to the compression as you tighten the speaker down.

The rope will make a perfect seal but if you want to flatten it down or you may need 1.5 layers you can remove the hard rubber piece from the nylon braiding by pulling and twisting.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Upgrading a Honda fit with MediaLink head unit and a Google Nexus Tablet for Waze.

I completed my latest project. This is a receiver with mirrorlink. Anything you can do on the phone you can also do on the stereo. There is some lag so movie viewing isn't worth while but apps, search, navigation, and music are ideal. It required a hacked Italian version of the samsung software and a grounding the safety circuits. I can also control apps like google play and pandora via bluetooth. The solution isn't ideal but beats any new car tech except radar proximity detection. I have a Nexus 7 with Waze running on left as well. This doesn't obscure my vision at all. I sit much higher than the pictures indicate. The picture of the tablet holder is at night so it looks a bit dingy but it matches the dash exactly and is actually suctioned to a rounded surface. The dash holder cost $12 and has absolutely no vibration. The airbag isn't obstructed. For it to be unsafe in a accident I would need to be hit from behind. It isn't as safe as nothing at all but doesn't concern me any more than a phone mount or a GPS.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Amazon Prime Video on Android

There are 2 problems with watching Amazon prime videos on Android. The first problem is that Amazon doesn't supply a app. This is most likely because any other Amazon product directly competes with the Kindle tablets.

Secondly adobe flash won't natively install on android 4.0 or higher. Now you know what it feels like to own a Ipad or Iphone.

The solution is to browse Amazon prime in full mode in your browser. The Amazon page opens up into a mobile version on your phone browse. Simply scroll to the bottom of the page and select the full website view or from the menu in chrome you can select desktop website. I'm sick of tablets with better than my PC resolution showing me a mobile page first. There is a fix for this but it doesn't always work.

Secondly you need Adobe.
Use this link:

The scroll down to get to the android versions. If you have the Amazon store on your machine than the security setting to install non playstore apps is already set. If you you don't have the Amazon store than get. You can get a free app of the day that offers up a new paid app for free everyday that changes at midnight pacific time.

With both the flash player and the web site you can now watch your Amazon prime movies or TV. There will be issues with screen timeout and if the movie stops for too long a period to queue up then you can use the option to close full screen mode and refresh from the browser bar.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Lets get that bad Windows 8 taste out of our mouths with a little Speccy


Get your Windows Key / Windows 8 for free

Windows 8 is a great operating system. I use it everyday and haven't had a single issue. It takes some getting use to but thanks to Apple force feeding us now Microsoft feels they need to do the same. 

Speccy is a free program for home use to let you uncover your windows 8 key from Piriform (the great makers of CCleaner). With Windows 8 and Media center I ran into a lot of confusion about how this really works. You can only install with your original key and you upgrade to you media center key. So if you get your media center key it will only help you in the upgrade. You will need to find your original receipt with the Windows 8 key.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Gremlin that is no trouble at all, unless you pour water on it - GIZMO

Gizmo is a toolbox of utilities most important of which is a free virtual drive manager.

You can mount and unmount ISOs to your virtual drive. The utility lets you create the ISO and load and run the ISO.

Gizmo Drive v2.7.9

      •   Mount ISO, BIN, CUE, NRG files to a virtual CD-ROM drive
      •   Mount VHD files, used with Microsoft Virtual PC
      •   Mount password protected images to a virtual hard drive
      •   Encrypt HD images using a passphrase
      •   Protect vital files from hackers using encrypted HD images
      •   Mount IMG files to a virtual drive
      •   Mount and unmount files from the Windows Shell
      •   Mount and unmount files from the command line
      •   Support for compression and sparse HD images

Supported Platforms:

I'm using it on windows 8 on a laptop with no issues.
  • Windows 7 (32-bit/64-bit)
  • Windows Server 2008 (32-bit/64-bit)
  • Windows Vista (32-bit/64-bit)
  • Windows Server 2003 (32-bit/64-bit)
  • Windows XP (32-bit/64-bit)
  • Windows 2000

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hide in Plain Sight with BoxCryptor

BoxCryptor is a FREE for non commercial use, cross platform, cloud encryption utility.

BoxCryptor secures your data in the cloud – no matter if you use Dropbox, SkyDrive, Google Drive or any other cloud storage provider.
Access your encrypted files on all devices. BoxCryptor is available for Windows, Mac, Android, iPhone and iPad. Also compatible with EncFS-Linux.
Secure your files the quick and easy way. And what is best: BoxCryptor is free for non-commercial use. Download and try it now!

This is encryption end to end for your most important data. You may want to share your password with a trusted friend or family member if the data stored needs to be accessed in the event you can't.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Ninite - Off to a beautiful start


With Windows 8 and new installs on many people's minds there are some things that can make the process simple and allow us to discover new things.

Ninite looks to be a great start after a OS install. This utility allows you to install multiple application that you choose and keep those applications up to date.

This is a cross platform utility suite for Windows and Linux.