Archive for the ‘Troubleshooting’ Category

Acer Aspire 5670 / 5672 laptop issues fixed by resetting NVRAM

December 1, 2009

A friend of mine has had lots of issues with his Acer Aspire 5672. When I did a system restore (restart, Alt+F10 on boot) without getting rid of the issues (keyboard and trackpad not working, general system instability), I did a bit of googling (which I should have done right away).

Turns out that the battery, for some reason, can cause these sorts of issues. My friend’s battery barely lasts a few minutes, it seems it failing can cause this – though I can’t quite see the connection.

Anyways – removing the battery, unplugging the machine, and pressing and holding the power button for one minute (which I’m guessing resets the NVRAM) magically made the machine stable and caused keyboard and trackpad to start working again. Weird. But very nice to know, if you happen to have a Acer and an issue of this kind.

I haven’t tried putting the battery back in, but I’ve a feeling that you should just get rid of it and buy a new one instead of trying to get more use out of it.

This is a funny kind of problem – I thought for the longest time that it was software-related, since the Windows installation was pretty ancient. And since they keyboard seemed to be working outside of the OS (boot menus), I thought it wasn’t a hardware problem. I guess NVRAM/PRAM issues sit right between software and hardware. Lesson learned – if something weird is going on and you can’t isolate the problem, it’s well worth trying a reset of the NVRAM.

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Parental controls stopping you from playing tracks in SingStar?

February 14, 2009

After swapping in a PS2 Singstar disk when playing PS3 Singstar, I was suddenly stopped from playing some of the songs. Ironically, the first song Singstar refused me was “We all stand together” – the rather child friendly Paul McCartney number…

Seems Singstar suddenly started to pay very close attention to parental control settings – or perhaps these were changed in a recent PS3 system sotware patch? I don’t know, but I found the solution on this forum: http://boardsus.playstation.com/playstation/board/message?board.id=ps3home&message.id=554051.

Here’s the solution, courtesy of dadog102:

Go to your security settings of that master account then select Parental Controls

>then put in 0000 (thats the standard code if it has not already been set)

> select OFF as the control setting after you hit accept it will show a screen after that with a check box saying restrict starting a game with no parental control settings uncheck that box and select ok

>You should be all set. You can then go back in and turn the parental settings back to normal later on.

Macbook Aluminium makes funny clicking sound while apparently not charging

November 8, 2008

The title really says it all. My Macbook Alu had run out of battery and died; when I plugged it in, the light on the power plug did not ignite, and I thought nothing was happening until I noticed a steady low ticking sound emanting from the top left of the keyboard. I tried to google it, but didn’t find anything interesting (I have to admit I didn’t spend too much time researching, as it was via Opera Mini on my N82….).

After listening to the steady ticking for a few minutes, I unplugged and reconnected the power plug, which promptly lit up like it usually does, and I’m typing this on my Macbook. Funny.

I wonder if perhaps the ticking is the Macbook’s way of saying it is doing some low-level charging of the battery?

Nokia N82 spontaneously reboots when I receive a SMS message

June 11, 2008

I haven’t had the time to do any proper research on this, but my Google searches haven’t turned up anything sensible, so I’m creating a blog post where I’ll put any info I come across – and hopefully other people’s Google queries will wind up here.

This is what happens: I receive an SMS, and the phone does a soft reboot, returning me to the standby screen after about half a minute. I can then read the SMS. I am a bit unsure, but I believe the “SMS received” icon is shown the second before the device reboots.

This has been happening about 1-2 times per day on average, or for about every 3-5 SMSes I receive, over the last couple of weeks. As far as I can see, it doesn’t seem to be related to other apps I am running, which is mostly Opera Mini 4.1 and the Gmail Java app. It is a possibility that it is related to the latest firmware – I upgraded about a month ago – but it is strange that this should start happening after a couple of weeks of use and not right away.

Hopefully it is not a hardware issue – if it continues and I cannot find a solution, I’ll try to re-install the latest firmware.

Anyone else out there having this problem?

Uodate 09/08/08: I still have this problem, and it doesn’t seem related to the phone’s power consumption or heat. The only thing the crashes have in common is that they all occur during bursts of network traffic – after a phone call, when I send a SMS or receive one, when I download mail (that has triggered a crash just once). Weird. Hopefully a firmware upgrade will fix this, but I haven’t had time to try yet.

Pairing the Apple Wireless Aluminium Keyboard with the Nokia N82

January 20, 2008

I had some problems hooking the Apple Wireless Keyboard up with my N82 and thought I’d share the experience.
The procedure should be very simple, and goes as follows:

Get the Nokia wireless keyboard support software. You want the 3.1 version, even though the N82 isn’t listed as supported by the software. Install this software on the phone (I assume you know how that part works – the easiest is to go to the site above over wifi and download the app straight to your phone, or download to your computer and transfer the install file to the N82 via bluetooth.)

Start the software. It is not located in the “Programs” folder – it is in what I believe is called “Connections” or something similar (I have Norwegian titles on my phone). That’s the same folder you have bluetooth settings in, among other stuff.

Activate the keyboard by pressing the on button. It should start looking for a bluetooth client to pair with – the status light should flash regularly. This is where I had a problem – every time I switched on the keyboard, it automatically resumed the connection with my Mac Mini, which it was paired with. To avoid this, I switched off bluetooth on the Mac (you could probably also just unpair it). The keyboard cannot pair with several units simulateneously (which is unfortunate – I would like to pair it with the mini, the N82 and the PS3…).

To be absolutely certain the keyboard was “rebooted” I also briefly removed the batteries – this shouldn’t be necessary at all, but who knows.

When switching on the keyboard again, the light blinked regularly and the keyboard showed up when I searched for it in the wireless keyboard app. After following the onscreen instructions with regards to setting a password, I can now consider my N82 a personal computer. Rejoice!

You might be interested in knowing that the left command key (apple key) maps to the left soft key, and the right command key maps to the right soft key. The central navigation button on the N82 (the “OK” key I guess?) is mapped to Enter – or sometimes shift+Enter. You can get to the menu with alt+tab. I haven’t figured out how to “escape” (red button on the N82) yet.

How do I move the focus to a popup dialog in OS X – using the keyboard? [Updated!]

November 7, 2007

Just can’t get there with the keyboard!
Ahrg – just can’t get there!

Update 11/11/07:
Previously, I posted that I couldn’t get to all dialogs using the keyboard (read more for details). Thanks to Archie on the Apple Discussions forum, I have now learned a workaround.

The VoiceOver utility has a function called Window Chooser. By turning on VoiceOver (in Universal Access), you can get to Window Chooser by pressing Ctrl+Option and hitting F2 twice. Cumbersome – but it works. Another workaround is to enable Mouse Keys and navigate the mouse cursor using the keyboard.

Of course, both of these solutions are rather hopeless – this is one of those keyboard accessability things Apple should just fix, for instance by including all windows spawned by an application in the Command+> sequence.

This is the scenario: I am installing something on my Mac that requires administrator privilegies, and I am doing it with my keyboard only. After agreeing to terms and conditions, a popup window comes up, asking me to verify that I am an administrator.

Accidentally, I task-switch to a different application.

Now – how do I get back to the Authenticate dialog, using the keyboard?

The popup dialog can’t be reached via command+tab, is not visible via Expose, and is not a sub-window of the installer process that spawned it, so I cannot get there with command+>. Seems to me like a good example of poor usability in OS X.

I haven’t been able to figure this out – I would be very grateful for any ideas!

Problems calling O2 subscribers when roaming into Great Britain / England?

October 31, 2007

Posting this just in case someone out there has a similar issue.

I went to London last weekend, and was surprised when I wasn’t able to make calls to my friend, who is a subscriber on the O2 network. I am a subscriber at Netcom, a Norwegian operator. When entering the UK, my phone (a Nokia 6300) automatically roamed onto Vodafone, then Orange and T-Mobile.

Eventually, I figured out that I couldn’t make calls to my O2 friend when I was on the T-Mobile network (the voice message I got was something like “the number you have dialled is not a valid number”). To fix this, I manually told my phone to use the Vodafone network, which is the operator I believe Netcom has a roaming agreement with (though I am not sure).

Sending SMS messages worked no matter which network my phone automatically latched on to, but I think it is pretty strange that I should be able to automatically join a network that doesn’t permit me to make calls to all UK numbers. If you have this experience, make sure to try switching manually to different cell networks.

Having problems with the Seagate FreeAgent 500 GB external disk drive

August 27, 2007

Update 20/07/08: Going by the experience of Tony in the comments, the drive problem is caused by overheating. Unplugging the light in the enclosure seems to alleviate this somehow – at least it made the drive more stable for me and others, though if the issue is overheating simply ensuring proper cooling should fix it as well. (I used a flat screwdriver to remove the bottom cover, unscrewed the metal cover to get to the circuit board and unplugged the wire running to the light. It’s been working fine since. But remember – experiment at your own risk!). Read on to see what people have figured out, and make sure to catch Tony’s very informative comment about overheating.

Update 24/05/08: Make sure you take a look at the comments section of this post – it seems the problem lies with the enclosure and not the drive itself. Posters have reported that their drive became stable after unplugging the front light (!) – and it worked for me as well. I used a flat screwdriver to remove the bottom cover, unscrewed the metal cover to get to the circuit board and unplugged the wire running to the light. It’s been working fine since. But remember – experiment at your own risk!

Update 31/08: After a night’s rest, the drive was detected by OS X and appeared to function normally. However, after a few more hours of operation, it became impossible to write to the drive again. I’m going to take the extra trouble and test the drive with a Windows machine, just to make sure the operating system’s not in any way part of the problem here. Then I’ll ship it back to Komplett and hope for a good apple the next time.

Right. It’s a bit late, so I will be very brief. And a few of these details are problably incorrect, as I haven’t noted them down before now.

About a week ago, I got a Seagate FreeAgent 500 GB external drive in the mail from webshop Komplett.no. I intended to use it for my Mac Mini, as a media server/backup solution, and so I formatted it as one big HFS+ partition.

After about 24 hours of operation, the disk did not respond when I tried to read from it using the Finder. I was forced to reboot. After rebooting, it was not visible in Finder any more. However, it did appear in Disk Utility, although without the partitions I had originally created, but with one called “disk1s3”.

When I tried to repair it using Disk Utility, I got an error message, saying that the disk had been corrupted:

Disk Utility reports problems  with the Seagate FreeAgent
I gave up the repairs, erased the partition and created two new partitions with 250 GB in each, roughly.

A few days went by, the drive appeared to operate as it should. Suddenly OS X reported an I/O error when trying to write to it. Apparenty, a file was partly written to disk. We tried to reboot the Mac Mini at this point, this did not succeed (stopped while showing only the background graphics), after a hard reset the drive was once more invisible to OS X.

Now I have gone through all the material I could find on Seagate’s web site, and verified that as far as OS X is concerned, no drive is attached to the computer’s USB hub (according to System Profiler). I have checked it on two Macs, and my WinXP laptop does not find the drive either.

Consequently, I am preparing to give up and return the drive to Komplett. The next drive will have no flashy light in front, but a standard, sturdy USB connector (this one has a mini USB) and a dedicated power button (which this one does not).

I’ll probably update this post tomorrow.

Installing Ubuntu 7.04 on a HP 510 laptop computer

May 26, 2007

I’ve just finished installing Ubuntu on the HP 510 laptop. It’s a very cheap machine – I got it for 4000 NOK (I believe it’s priced around 400$ in the US).

Installing off the Live CD, I was a bit annoyed that Ubuntu couldn’t resize the existing XP partitions, but considering that they are NTFS I shouldn’t be surprised, I guess. Being able to dualboot isn’t that important for this machine, so I used the entire disk for Ubuntu.

The out of the box-install has a few problems, namely:

– The display runs at 1024×768 and not 1280×800
– The trackpad doesn’t work
– The WiFi apparently doesn’t work

FIXING THE SCREEN RESOLUTION
I found this solution at this website: Alik’s site on how to fix the issue with Ubuntu 6.10 and a HP 500 laptop. I found that I could skip a step from his howto, so that I only needed to do the following on the command line:

Update the software:

sudo aptitude update

Install 915resolution utility:

sudo aptitude install 915resolution

after installation is finished, you need to set 915resolution tool:

sudo gedit /etc/default/915resolution

Change the following values in the file:

MODE=auto
XRESO=1280
YRESO=800
BIT=

Save the file, close the program and reboot the computer. The resolution should be the correct one.

FIXING THE TRACKPAD
These instructions are also from Alik’s site on how to fix the issue with Ubuntu 6.10 and a HP 500 laptop (well done, mate!).
To fix this, we have to download the latest kernel source code, make a tiny change in it, and compile a new kernel. (This sounds scary, but is actually easy, although more time-consuming than I would have thought.)

First, get the kernel source:
sudo aptitude install linux-source-[you get latest source code using TAB key]

The version I got was 2.6.20.
Now, we want to unzip (untar) it.

cd /usr/src/
sudo tar -xvjf linux-source-[your kernel version]

After this command you will have source codes in /usr/src/linux-source-[your kernel version] directory. We will now make a small change in the source code of the keyboard/mouse driver.

sudo gedit linux-source-2.6.17/drivers/input/serio/i8042.c

In the 2.6.20 source, the line you will add is at line 576. If you get a newer kernel, the function we are changing might have moved/changed slightly. Search the file for i8042_check_aux(void) if you can’t see it. Make an empty line and write

return 0;

See the screenshot if you are uncertain:

Screenshot of the kernel function

Now we have to get all the software we need to compile a kernel. Run the following commands:

sudo aptitude install build-essential
sudo aptitude install bin86
sudo aptitude install kernel-package
sudo aptitude install gcc
sudo aptitude install gcc-3.4
sudo aptitude install libncurses5
sudo aptitude install libncurses5-dev
sudo aptitude install libqt3-headers
sudo aptitude install libqt3-mt-dev

Now, we want to move into the directory where the kernel is untar/unzipped to, and start making it.

cd linux-source-[your kernel version]

sudo make xconfig

Alik has some suggestions to changes you can make in the QCONF graphical tool. These can be found in the Processor type and features section, and are:

disable Symmetric multi-processor support
select Pentium M processor family
disable Generic x86 support
enable Local APIC support on uniprocessors
enable IO-APIC suport on uniprocessor
disable Toshiba + Dell laptop support
disable Enable X86 board specific fixups for reboot
disable /dev/cpu/microcode – Intel IA32 CPU
Hight memory support – set to OFF
set Timer frequency to 1000Hz
disable kexec system call

Select Save from the File menu and quit QCONF.
Now we can make the kernel:

sudo make-kpkg clean
sudo make-kpkg --initrd --stem linux --revision=hp510.1.0 kernel_image

This will take quite a while. I didn’t pay too much attention while it compiled, but I think it took at least 10 -15 minutes.
Then, we have to decompress the kernel, so that it will be found at boot (the linux-image name below will vary depending on the kernel version you are using):

cd ..
sudo dpkg -i linux-image-2.6.20.3-ubuntu1_hp510.1.0_i386.deb
sudo reboot

When rebooting and entering the GRUB boot menu, you will notice that you have a new choice, ending with -ubuntu1. This was automatically selected for me. The trackpad should now work.

Note: Fixing this by modifying the kernel obviously means that a new kernel might re-introduce the problem. Unless the new kernel fixes the underlying issue (which we are merely avoiding by exiting this function), we will have to modify the kernel again. Thus, this is not an ideal solution. Béranger pointed this out and suggested to pass the i8042.noaux parameter to the kernel instead; unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make this work.

FIXING THE WIFI
There are two different issues causing WiFi problems. First, the DHCP appears to be not working, so the IP address must be set manually. This can be done in the System -> Administration -> Network window. Double-click on the WiFi connection, enter the password and add an appropriate IP address (ie, if the IP address of your router is 192.168.0.1, you could use 192.168.0.123 and set 192.168.0.1 as the gateway address).

The second is that after creating a new kernel (above), the new kernel cannot find the firmware required by the WiFi card. The kernel goes looking for it in /lib/firmware/[kernel-name]. Thus, we create a symlink from the new kernel name to the firmware we already have (in the old kernel’s FW directory).


cd /lib/firmware
ln -s 2.6.20-8-generic 2.6.20-ubuntu1hp510

The second part of the last command must correspond to your kernel name and version. If you have kernel 2.6.21, that should be reflected.

FINALLY…
A big, big, big thank you to Alki and his website on the HP 500 and Ubuntu 6.10 as well as the people on this thread on the trackpad, wifi and resolution issues over at the Ubuntu forums. Also, thanks to Hexen for the extra googleability. It is a pity that we still do not have complete out of the box functionality, but thanks to the community, it is possible to get pretty close to 100% when you put in some work :)

PS: Here is a short review of the HP 510.

Drag and drop in the OS X Finder stops working

January 27, 2007

I’ve been having my Macbook for about 7-8 months now, and this problem occurs on a regular basis: The drag and drop functionality in Finder stops working.

After googling for a bit, it seems Quicksilver is the problem. Drag and drop only goes away if QS is running, according to this forum thread. It seems the number of items Quicksilver is cataloguing might have something to do with it – it would certainly fit my profile, as I have about 70.000 items in the catalogue. Apparently, this can cause Quicksilver to experience errors and affect the Drag/drop functionality.

This post will be expanded as I look for solutions. Please leave a comment if you’ve also experienced this issue, or if you know of a workaround / solution.