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06/20/12 @ 12:53 by mccmikey
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Joomla jUpgrade failed? Possible Solution

OK so I've just spent almost three hours trying to get from Joomla 1.0.0 to Joomla 1.5 to Joomla 2.5.5.

The upgrade from 1.0 to 1.5 was relatively pain free using the Joomla 1.0 to Joomla 1.5 updater script from

However, trying to use jUpgrade I was stuck with repeated problems such as:

Fatal error: Class 'JModelLegacy' not found in /home/snelcc/public_html/web2/jupgrade/installation/models/configuration.php on line 19


Fatal error: Class 'JModelLegacy' not found in /home/snelcc/public_html/web2/jupgrade/installation/models/database.php on line 19

[undefined] [undefined]

Warning: require_once(/home/blahblah/public_html/web2/jupgrade/configuration.php) [function.require-once]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/blahblah/public_html/web2/administrator/components/com_jupgrade/includes/jupgrade.class.php on line 88

Fatal error: require_once() [function.require]: Failed opening required '/home/blahblah/public_html/web2/jupgrade/configuration.php' (include_path='.:/usr/lib/php:/usr/local/lib/php') in /home/blahblah/public_html/web2/administrator/components/com_jupgrade/includes/jupgrade.class.php on line 88

and later on

Fatal error: require_once() [function.require]: Failed opening required '/home/blahblah/public_html/web2/jupgrade/libraries/joomla/methods.php' (include_path='.:/usr/lib/php:/usr/local/lib/php') in /home/blahblah/public_html/web2/administrator/components/com_jupgrade/includes/install_config.php on line 24

(Documented on their forums at

Having no real success, I started trawling Google - ran out of English results and resorted to German and French sites.

One mentioned a paid-for upgrade script called "SP Upgrade" - and a quick Google search landed me here:

So, I shelled out the 30 euros, installed a new Joomla 2.5 via Softaculous, installed the module, filled in the boxes, and in about two minutes the upgrade was done.

English (US)
05/28/12 @ 00:32 by mccmikey
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BigPond emails disappear.

If you are finding that your BigPond emails seem to vanish into thin air, even though you've called them and had your password reset, etc; there might be a simple solution.

Try logging in to with your BigPond email address and password.

If you find your emails there, then great :) However, to get them in your normal email program you might have to follow the steps at

BigPond, and Telstra, have teamed up with Microsoft to supply some email services. (A bit of a nightmare really, when you can find yourself on the receiving end of a crappy exchange setup rather than a tradtional POP3 / IMAP setup.)

This by the way is why you also can't go to and register an identity using a email - a rather annoying problem when you're forced to have a Windows Live ID to use Windows Live Mail to email any image.

End of rant.

English (US)
05/20/12 @ 19:38 by mccmikey
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When Chase Edwards calls.

You might get a Cold Call from a Telemarketer for Chase Edwards.

They may offer to have someone visit you, review your financial position; and if you proceed to the second meeting, they may encourage you to invest in properties / property development in Summerland Point NSW, and other areas in the Hunter.

In our instance, they suggested a likely interest rate of 6.25% if refinancing our existing home loan; and estimated we could build a property worth around $450,000 to $500,000 for $300 starting cost plus about $80 to $100 per week thereafter, after expenses and rental income.

This involved some tax reduction strategies, plus using equity in our existing property.

There were a few reasons I haven't pursued this offer further.

1 - I don't believe cold call telemarketing is an ethical method of communication. (My parter is less averse to it, hence the progression.) Given they spend a fair bit of money shipping at least three representatives around parts of Australia, they should be able to afford to use mass mailings instead.

2 - They demonstrated a future forecast using a custom piece of software that allowed them to plug in various variables and see the results in real time. This software was not available to me, and you can bet that if I'm going to be spending $400k I want to have all available data to fiddle with. If they made it available in the form of an MS Access Database, I'd take it more seriously. (Individual figures when clicked bought up many checkboxes, so it probably isn't easily done in Excel.)

3 - It is a bigger financial commitment than we want to make, given the risks associated if interest rates changed, etc.

4 - I failed to understand why they are looking for people to build the houses rather than just use their own finances to do so.

Those issues aside, if their forecasts are true then the system as a whole appeared to be workable.

English (US)
03/18/12 @ 20:48 by mccmikey
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NSLOOKUP works but ping cannot resolve XP

After Avast pulled a bug off a computer, I could not get internet connectivity.

The usual netsh commands didn't help.

A number of other small tests such as net stop dnscache didn't help.

LSPFix found something and removed it, but that didn't help.

In the end, a small freeware utility Winsockfix.exe from did the job :)

Afterwards, HitMan Pro found a few bits of bugs left over that SpybotSD, MBAM, and MSSS didn't notice.

English (US)
02/18/12 @ 13:10 by mccmikey
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Thunderbird 10.0.2 Freezes.

... well mine kept freezing after the upgrade anyway. Uninstalled and downgraded to 9.0.1 and all good now. Might have started freezing when I was attaching google images into an email's body.

English (US)
02/17/12 @ 23:11 by mccmikey
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Mullvad slow Windows XP

(Also known as "Why is Mullvad Slow on Xp, how to fix Mullvad being slow on XP - which sadly I don't know.)

G'day :)

Just a quick note that Mullvad might be slow on Windows XP. The website notes that there might be a way to force it to use TCP instead of UDP, but doesn't really tell you how to do that. Google was no help either really.

In my two XP test cases (one raw, one VM), I couldn't get above 250kbps, whereas Windows 7 and Ubuntu could get to 4000kbps.

The Ubuntu Unity machine eventually froze.

English (US)
02/17/12 @ 13:11 by mccmikey
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iertutil.dll is missing, possible cause.

I've had three computers in the last week crash with this error at startup.

Two of them I know had a modified termserv.dll (or is it termsrv.dll) to enable multiple concurrent logins on XP.

In another case, I had an error the ordinal 681 could not be located. That was because I copied the wrong iertutil.dll - you need one from a Windows XP machine running IE8. (I grabbed one from an IE7 machine first time.)

If you make that mistake, you will need to use recovery console, or boot from a Linux Mint CD or Memory Stick in order to replace the file.

English (US)
02/06/12 @ 22:52 by mccmikey
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HTC Sensation - possible how to fix touch screen digitizer stuck buttons.

G'day all :)

Recently my partner broke her digitiser glass on her HTC Sensation.

I ordered a replacement digitiser from eBay, and fitted it.

It worked well for a couple of days, then started going mental.

To diagnose the fault, I downloaded "Piano For You" - since it makes it really easy to see and hear what's going wrong. In my case C# was also triggering Bb and Ab.

It turned out in my haste to reassemble (stephanie) the phone, I didn't really do much of a job with the adhesive; which allowed hand cream, chocolate, or god knows what to sneak into the side of the phone between the phone and the digitiser, creating a 'conductive short' if you like down the right side of the phone.

Fortunately, this tardiness meant it was easy enough to pry the digitiser away from the phone, as seen below:

HTC Digitiser flipped up

This time I ran adhesive right around the edge, resting it diagonally along the ridge of the phone's shell so that the LCD would force it both down and outwards.

Wedgie Glue

So far, since then it's been behaving :)

This might not work for other people, but it worked for me.

English (US)
02/04/12 @ 14:01 by mccmikey
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Windows 7 Video Driver for IBM ThinkCentre 8424-3BM

IBM does not have a Windows 7 driver on their website for this machine.

Instead, follow the steps at to download the Driver update for Intel(R) 82915G/GV/910GL Express Chipset Family from

Extract the contents of the "Cab in a Zip" file, then tell Windows 7 to use that driver even though it doesn't want to.

(Only tested on 32 bit Windows 7.)

English (US)
02/01/12 @ 22:36 by mccmikey
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Samsung RV510 BSOD Crash when switching to Battery

G'day :)

Do you have a Samsung RV510 that crashes when switching to battery power, or comes up with errors such as "Desktop Window Manager" has had a problem, or assorted other BSODs.

Try going into Samsung easy display manager and unticking all the options - this seems to have resolved the issue for me.

Cheers, Mike.

EDIT: Spoke too soon, it's still stuffed. Ended up doing a complete wipe and reload to resolve the problem. Never really tracked down the cause, but Desktop Window Manager would crash each time switching to battery, or BSOD.

English (US)
01/26/12 @ 20:24 by mccmikey
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How to fix Acer AL2671W LCD TV that won't turn on or stuck in standby...

A customer gave me one of these after the local electronics repair guy couldn't fix it.

The problem with this one was that once it was warm it would work OK, but from cold you either couldn't turn it on at all, or it would turn on then become non-responsive to button presses.

My first instinct was to replace all caps on the power board, but that didn't make any difference. So, after reading I tried replacing C380 as well, and the problem appears solved.

C380 is right next to a heatsink solder-to-PCB interface of a nearby component, so it probably has its life shortened due to heat.

Here's a photo of C380 - I didn't have a 100uF around, so gave it a 220uF instead.

Cheers, Mike.

PS - As a side note, the power cable to the main board has multiple 12 and 5V rails. The brown wire remains hot 5V all the time, the others only when powered on.

English (US)
09/08/11 @ 18:02 by mccmikey
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QBOE how to backup to local drive.

Also known as QuickBooks Online Edition, QuickBooks Cloud Edition, backup fails, backup hangs 97% 99%

Today a customer tried to back up a 170MB from QuickBooks Online Edition by using Save Copy or Backup and selecting their local drive.

The backup didn't complete after an hour - a temp file appeared and grew suddenly from about 2MB to 138MB or thereabouts, but then grew at a rate of about 20kb per minute.

An online chat with QB support staff yielded an effective but non-obvious solution, and also advised that the info at only applies to US customers.

Here's the solution that worked for us

1 - Perform a "Local backup" to the Q:\ drive.
2 - When the backup finishes, choose "Restore" in Quickbooks Online Edition, but DON'T follow all the way through
3 - Click ONCE on the file you want to have on your own computer, and while it's highlighted hold down Ctrl and press C. (This copies the file to your clipboard, but nothing will happen on screen.)
4 - Minimise the QuickBooks Online Edition
5 - Find a place to copy your backup to, right click therein and choose Paste.

The file should copy from their server to yours at a rate of about 2.5Mbps if your line can go that fast. (8 minutes for the 170MB file)

Hope this helps someone out there! The QuickBooks online support pages are not date stamped and there's plenty of old and possibly out of date info there.

English (US)
08/20/11 @ 15:40 by mccmikey
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How to cheat with Microsoft Access and Australian Date DLookups

Many Australian programmers know that Access handles dates by default in the US date format, and this can be a pain when trying to use DLOOKUP to find data.

An easy way to cheat is to create a field called "IndexDate" in your query, and set it to be
IndexDate: Format([YourDate],"#")

This IndexDate field then contains the excel-style five digit date number.

You can then use that in your Dlookup:

MyField: DLookUp("[Field]","TableName","[Date] = " & [IndexDate])

English (US)
08/18/11 @ 14:06 by mccmikey
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Driver for Telstra NextG Qualcomm 3G 1201420 (Aircard 880U)

English (US)
08/18/11 @ 12:42 by mccmikey
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Error encoding as ISO-8859-1 - How to fix in cPanel

So this error has been bugging me for a little while. It usually appears when someone copies and pastes something from word or another program into the cPanel HTML editor - even if they used the "Paste from External Source" button.

To fix it...

1 - go to cPanel's File manager.
2 - click "Settings" (its right in the top left corner)
3 - Untick "Disable Encoding Check"
4 - Open the offending page with the cPanel HTML Editor
5 - Choose UTF-8 instead of ISO-whatever.

Worked for me - hopefully it works for you too.

This solution based on info at

English (US)
08/17/11 @ 23:31 by mccmikey
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Assorted News 37 - Still here...

In this edition:

A long delay between newsletters! Life has been busy.

Assorted News:
Google Plus
NBN Connections available.
Mobile phone and Tablet Manufacturer Sue-Fest wars...
Virus activity drops.

General Ramblings:
Fix It. Fix it with FIRE!
Why there are no leaves. (Leafs?)

Popular Internet and Phone Prices.
Cheap mobile plan for Exetel customers.

Rotary Presentation.

Google Plus! A Facebook alternative.

I'm not a fan of Facebook. I find it so infuriating getting emails from facebook saying "You have notifications pending." They could just as easily email me whatever they're trying to tell me, rather than trying to get me into their walled garden to see what's going on. So, I was naturally quite pleased to see Google introduce a new thing called "Google Plus."

Google Plus is sort of like facebook, but has a few features that make it somewhat more useful and easy to understand.


On Facebook, most people generally have 'friends.' (There are non-obvious ways of grouping them.) However, in real life most of us have groups of people we chat with. Friends, Family, Work colleagues, confidants, etc; When adding your 'friends' to Google Plus, you're asked to put them into groups. What this means is that when you write or share something, you can easily choose which groups get to see it.

Email Friends.

What I personally think is the best feature of Google Plus is that it allows you to add friends to your circles who you know will probably never bother to sign up for Google Plus, and yet you'd still like to keep them up to date. When you post a message to a group that has people that are not signed up to Google Plus, it will also email the same message to those people - unlike Facebook.

Multi-People Video Conferencing.

Another great feature is the "Hangout" feature - which allows you to have an online video chat with multiple people at once - kinda like Skype but without having to install anything. This feature could be very handy for businesses and families.

Mind you, I'm not really into social networking as such - perhaps because I don't have a gregarious social life! So, I'm not really in a position to give a full run-down on it, but if you're curious about it, find out more at and

.. and if you want an invite, let me know. :)

NBN Connections Available.

People regularly ask me what I think about the NBN. I'm of two minds about it. At present, most people in towns can already get what I consider 'enough' speed on the Internet - that is, enough to watch simple Internet TV services, or 1.5mpbs. Some can get as high as 16mbps. However, traditional broadband can only go up to about 6km from a phone exchange before dying. In theory NBN connections should not be affected by distance, and so should be able to go much faster.

On the positive side, it's a bit like when the original phone system was put in. It probably cost a lot of money to do, but has been useful in ways that weren't even considered back then. When you still had the rotary dial telephone you probably never thought that it would soon be able to show you high definition movies on demand! Installing the NBN should provide a similar scope for technological improvement. It'd be hard to justify it as a short-term project given it largely duplicates what we have now with ADSL, but in the medium term the benefits should outweigh the costs, assuming it's rolled out efficiently.

On the negative side, when properly provisioned, mobile / wireless broadband can provide quite reasonable speeds without the cost of digging up the streets. It is probably the more financially viable and practical option for rural areas, and wireless technology continues to improve speed-wise. Similarly, there are of course people stating that they can't get fast enough Internet to run their businesses; but generally I disagree. It'd just cost more to get multiple links and spread the load. (A decent NextG service can get upload speeds faster than ADSL at distances further than ADSL for example, but at potentially higher cost.)

The most likely benefit to home users will be movies and TV on demand. Not great news for the Pay TV companies mind you!

Anyway, with that said I am pleased to advise that I can provide NBN Internet Connections via Exetel at reasonable prices - something I didn't think would ever happen. See the prices at

Mobile Phone and Tablet Sue-Fest wars...

Last newsletter I mentioned I had purchased a Samsung Galaxy Tablet. Last week, Apple decided they were so annoyed by the success of these Android tablets that they went to court to get an injunction preventing Samsung from selling their latest 10 inch version in Australia, claiming it looked too similar to their golden child - the iPad. Then a few days later they did the same for the whole of Europe. .. and then a few days later again they did the same with Motorola.

In an unexpected twist, Google then purchased Motorola's Mobility division.

The whole drama is largely due to America's relatively out-of-control patent system - Google initially wanted to keep out of the wars, but being attacked so viciously by Apple presumably gave them no other option than to play the same game. (Google owns the Android operating system that is used by Motorola, Samsung and many other companies - it competes directly against Apple's products with over 500,000 new customers per day.) It's ironic that Samsung makes many parts for the iPad, and Motorola owns many patents pertaining to mobile phone radio technologies.

The latest bit of excitement is that it appears the evidence Apple provided was rather misleading. Unless it was an old stock photo, they appear to have resized a photo of a Galaxy Tablet (which is somewhat longer and narrower than the iPad) in order to make it appear to be identical. They also brought up a sub-screen with icons rather than the default screen to make it look identical to the iPad's antiquated appearance. See for the juicy bits - or Google for more.

These tablets are likely to be the hot Christmas item this year; so the race is on! Hopefully the prices come down a bit by then too.

Virus activity drops...

Last newsletter I mentioned that there were lots of bugs getting around. So far in August I've seen almost no viruses at all. Nice to see a bit of peace again! Microsoft has also released a handy 'run from a stick' virus scanner that gets rid of some of the hard-to-kill rootkits. See

Fix it. Fix it with FIRE!

Either this weekend, or some time soon, I am going to attempt to repair a laptop by cooking it.

.. more specifically, by cooking one faulty part to see if I can repair it.

Many newsletters ago I wrote about the nVidia flaw that meant many HP, Apple and other laptops met with untimely deaths. I now have a small collection of these - some really nice ones; and one still belonging to a customer who has given me permission to try out this radical method of repair.

Basically, it involves figuring out how long it takes solder to melt on a coin using a hot air gun, and then to repeat the process by aiming the gun at part of the laptop. Reports are that it works sometimes, and other times destroys the machine. See more about it here: - Hopefully I don't have an "IT Crowd" moment like this:

Why there are no leaves. (Leafs?)

You might also recall in a previous newsletter, I was surprised when a Hardman Nissan worker said "No Leafs here in 100,000 years" or something like that. Recently the Bluebird took me back there due to a new ailment - see below - and while chatting I asked what was happening with the Nissan Leaf. (An all-electric car with 150km+ range.) Apparently they require three phase power to charge - and as many of you will know; getting the power connected to a new property can be hideously expensive - and getting three phase power connected is often a similar cost - sometimes approaching that of the car itself. Hence, we don't really see any in Australia sadly. Technically, the batteries are presumably wired in series so the total voltage is over 300 volts, and as a result 240 volts is not enough to charge them directly. Oh well, I'll just have to keep the 'bird alive a little longer then...

Popular Internet and Phone Prices.

Here's a listing of the most likely popular Internet and Mobile plans currently known by myself. All figures are approximate, and town availability is based on likely service quality as well as availability. No guarantee is made to the accuracy of this data, as it is a rough guide only. Install / setup fees may apply. Figures are monthly.


ADSL1 ADSL2 Guyra Armidale
Exetel $34.50/100G $39.50/50GB Yes Yes (Mostly)
6/12 month contract, no excess fees.
$30/50GB No Yes (Mostly)
18 month contract, no excess fees.

Mobile Internet

Mobile Internet Guyra Armidale
Exetel $25/5GB Yes Not recommended
12 month contract, Massive excess fees. No warning on usage.
TPG $1 + $27.50/GB Yes Not recommended
No Contract
Telstra $10/1GB Yes Yes No Contract, Massive excess fees. Requires existing phone plan. Warning on Usage.

Mobile Phone (optional internet.)

Mobile Phone Guyra Armidale
TPG $1 + 10c/min Yes Yes Internet $27.50/GB, No Contract
Telstra $50 for 6 hrs Yes Yes Includes 1GB Internet, No Contract, Massive excess fees. No warning on usage.
TPG $20 for 5 hours Yes Yes Or ratio up to 1.5GB offsetting calls, No Contract, Massive excess fees. Warns on usage.

Cheap mobile plan for Exetel ADSL customers.

If you're an Exetel ADSL customer (and possibly a wireless customer, not confirmed) there are some new mobile phone plans out. In summary, $15 a month for approx. 6 hours talk time + 1.5GB internet, $29 for double that, or $39 for 33 HOURS on the phone plus 5GB. These have to be the cheapest plans around. These use the Optus network. Apparently this offer only lasts until the end of August - although they did say the same thing in July.


The poor thing gets a hammering. 400k a week, stop and start driving, doors opened ten times a day at least. It's no wonder then that the poor 26 year old gets a few quirks. Not that it doesn't get pampered with new parts - radiator, carbie, brake cylinders, batteries, bearings, plugs, leads, distributor etc in the last few years :)

The most exciting recent quirk was the Magic Roundabout trick. One day driving in the rain at night, I came up to the roundabout at the top of North Hill on the highway - and since I was planning to go straight, I didn't bother brakeing much. I was then somewhat surprised half way through when the car decided to dart off to the right of its own free will! Naturally I steered out of it, thought "WTF" and carried on. (Cars don't normally steer harder than you ask - they usually do the opposite.) Anyway, it turned out later that the front left wheel was apparently capable of turning inwards by about 15-20 degrees of its own volition, but in normal driving conditions this wouldn't happen.

This issue I had resolved by Hardman Nissan replacing some part in the steering rack - although since then she likes to walk from side to side a bit on the gravel so I guess an alignment is in order now.

Of course, not to be outdone it developed another party trick - a gutteral rumble in the back of the vehicle at 50kph. Rather annoying since almost every town has a 50kph limit! Aah well - took it to Ian Inman who replaced three uni joints. The surprising result? No more rumble at 50. Damn thing moved up to 90 instead! (and 70 down hills just for amusement.) To make it even more amusing, the rumble at 90 is close to the resonant frequency of the car and perhaps more surprisingly, the resonant frequency of my digestive system! Hardmans replaced a wheel bearing in an attempt to fix it, but I think they were fooled by the ever-present midget slapping at the axle with a thong sound that lives on the left rear wheel. I'm not sure if I'm proud to say the midget survived the swap.

It was already booked in with Inman again at this time anyway, so I took it back for another go - possibly surprising them by setting up shop in their waiting room with my laptop and tablet catching up on some web design work. (Previous time I kicked back watching Knight Rider episodes on the tablet.) Unfortunately he advised that he couldn't fix it - at least not without some expense; and he kindly took me out to show me what he believes to be the problem. I must say it's a strange feeling to be standing under your own car while the wheels go around above your head! It appeared that there was 1 to 2 mm of left-right motion on the rear tail shaft (damn thing has two) as it turned - or in other words it's no longer balanced.

Now, I'm not sure if I unbalanced it. There was a time about a month ago where I was in a hurry to get to a property on dusk, and while entering the property I didn't notice one of their home-made speed humps... but I think that was after the rumble had begun anyway - so it remains a mystery. Suffice to say that for the time being I am living with it and considering my options. These include the mythical Hose Clamp trick: , trying to find a place that balances them, or finding a second hand tail shaft somewhere. Being an '85 model, that might be a challenge. In the mean time, I just have to avoid doing 90. 100 is fine - but hills get their revenge! The biggest fear is that it could be in the diff. Another midget perhaps???

Rotary Presentation

I've been asked by Guyra Rotary to do a 20 minute presentation roughly along the lines of "Technology and The Future" on Wednesday 31st around 7pm at the Guyra Bowling club. I plan to cover in brief topics including Internet TV (iView), 3D printing and Health, tablets and smartphones (hopefully with projector demo), changing face of News, and stuff like that. I think visitors are welcome, but not sure as I've never been involved in such a meetup before. If you want to know, let me know and I'll find out. I'm not affiliated with any charity or religious organisations, but do provide discounts to NFPs.

Well, that's it for another newsletter. Sorry it's a bit late! Lots of programming work this last month.

Old Editions
You can find old editions of this newsletter on the CCC Blog.

You can also subscribe or unsubscribe at

Michael Kean
Proprietor, Cool Country Consulting.
Trading Hours: 10am to 8pm weekdays.
Tel: 02 6775 0239 Fax: 02 8212 9582 Mob: 0427 644 825
Chat contacts: WLM: Skype: cccons

English (US)
07/16/11 @ 00:12 by mccmikey
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CLMiner Error 500

Hmm. Perhaps you haven't waited for the entire blockchain to download first?

English (US)
06/06/11 @ 23:30 by mccmikey
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Assorted News 36 - Bugs are about, and other stuff :)

In this edition:

Not much :) Just some updates re. Viruses and Skype.

Assorted News:
Unexpected increase in virus activity.
Skype goes feral for some.
ACA reviews the Microsoft Calling scam.

General Ramblings:
I win a bunny...
SwitchWise - cheaper power?
A $100 tablet, might be OK...
BitCoin goes Bonkers.

Popular Internet and Phone Prices.

A car that plays LPs.
Ignored by six and a half police.
Prado takes on Bluebird, Wins.

Unexpected Increase in Virus Activity.

I'm starting to see more 'viruses' these days compared to months ago. This is not in itself of great concern, but some recent viruses have started to cross the line between being annoying and being destructive.

The biggest problem at the moment is that I can no longer give you sure-fire tips on how to deal with them, because there is almost nothing I can say that will be guaranteed to tell you how to accurately recognise a virus; so for the time being I am changing my recommendation to the following:

If you see anything on your screen appear out of the blue claiming you have more than one virus, press the power button on your computer to turn it off. (Or tell your computer to shut down.)

If the message reappears after turning the computer back on, you probably need help.

(You can safely close any documents you have open before doing so, but do not click any other message on the screen.)

Why do I say to do this? Well, the majority of viruses (technically Malware, true viruses are rare) aim to trick you into installing a fake antivirus program. They can do this by bringing up an animated picture that makes it look like you have viruses. The problem is that even this animated picture might be booby-trapped so that the close button is actually an install button - and there's no guaranteed way to know.

The other reason for saying this is because there's nothing stopping the virus from guessing what antivirus program you have and making a window that looks identical. I don't think they're doing that yet but it's only a matter of time. They certainly pick very convincing names these days.

"But what if I have a virus scanner?"

They often don't work. To recognise a virus they need someone to have seen that virus before and reported it. That takes time, and these new scams change their name and design daily.

"Why do people make these things. Haven't they got anything better to do?"

No. Imagine you were unemployed and hungry. Imagine you had no job prospects, but endless time to spend on the computer. It's very rare that you'll be able to dream up the next FaceBook or Twitter to make some money, so there's a chance that you too will lose your moral fabric and start buying these viruses in kit form, customising them and raking in the money. The underlying problem is overpopulation and underemployment.

"What else can I do?"

Well, apart from ignoring the social engineering attacks, the most important thing is to keep your computer and the programs you use up to date. The good news is that Windows will generally take care of itself in this department; but you're still responsible for keeping Flash and Java up to date. (And remember, if you're not using Java, best to uninstall it. The only common program using it these days is FrostWire.)

If you don't want to have to care about keeping anything up to date, the best solution is to install Google Chrome and let Windows take care of doing its updates automatically on shutdown. (Chrome automatically keeps all its plugins such as Flash up to date without needing your help.)

The most secure setup I know of for Windows however is to install Firefox along with the NoScript addon. Doing so makes browsing to new pages a bit annoying as you have to manually trust each page if you find bits of it not working. That said, if you mostly visit the same sites regularly it's not too much of a drag.

Apple computers are still largely immune to traditional viruses, but are no longer immune to the Fake Antivirus problem with a new one called MacDefender raking in the dough from unsuspecting Apple users.

On Windows, the most common activities for the latest bugs are the following:
1 - Hide all your icons and your files.
2 - Disable your wallpaper.
3 - Removes all the icons from your start menu
4 - Kill any program you try to open, including your antivirus
5 - Stop your Internet access.
6 - Possibly actually delete some programs - one instance of this so far.
7 - Possibly actually delete your start menu programs completely - one instance of this so far.
8 - Possibly install a rootkit

Occasionally they do not kill the antivirus completely, and the antivirus strikes back a few days later after an update and kills the malware - but rarely do they fix all the rest of the mess.

Rootkits are most problematic component - if you get a rootkit on your computer it can then be invisibly operated by a third party and that activity will be invisible to your antivirus. Typically it means you think you get rid of the bug, then another one pops up in short order. These can often only be removed by scanning the computer's hard drive via another clean computer - a time consuming process. In rare occasions, the damage may not be recoverable and the computer has to be reloaded from scratch.

Other options for being more secure:
Buy a Mac. (Not my favorite computer system, but it was designed to be secure from the beginning of OS X.)
Install Ubuntu or use a Ubuntu live CD. (It's like a Mac, but runs on an ordinary PC - can run on the same computer as Windows without having to wipe Windows.)
If you don't like installing updates all the time, try Chrome on Windows as it updates both itself and Flash invisibly.
Use your phone or tablet / pad for web browsing since there aren't yet many viruses for these.

Tablets and Phones will be a target in the future, but in most cases Apple / Google can remove programs remotely without your help if they are discovered to be malicious. Android was designed from the beginning to 'sandbox' each program so that they can't do more than you gave them permission to do when you installed them. (They ask when you install - for example "Use GPS, Access Phonebook, etc".) The iPhone relies more on Apple / Steve Jobs vetting each program that is submitted to the App Store, whereas Android will let anything in initially. Mind you, Apple is so greedy in demanding 30% revenue from every developer and sale they make through their app, that I can't condone using them.

Skype goes Feral for some.

Skype is in the process of being purchased by Microsoft, but that isn't finalised yet.

In the mean time, Skype seems hell-bent on destroying itself.

Some customers have had Skype add a gaming system to their computer uninvited. Others have had trouble with Skype shutting down randomly or refusing to open at all.

Skype has also upgraded to version 5 and changed the interface to a horrible mess with advertising all over it.

For the time being, if you're having any of the above problems I recommend uninstalling Skype, and then reinstalling an older version from (Your account and contacts are unaffected.)

I don't know what the future holds for Skype. Microsoft has a tendency to buy-and-destroy, but that's not always the case. It's rumoured that they only bought it to stop their rivals, such as FaceBook, from getting it.

ACA Reviews the Microsoft Calling scam.

I get about one call a week from customers who have been contacted by scammers claiming to be from Microsoft. Here's a video from the ACA that explains the tactics.

SwitchWise: Cheaper Power?

As power bills continue to rise, it might be time to shop around for a cheaper provider. Here's a website (there are others) that lists all the providers and if you type in the figures from your last bill it will estimate what you could save with a different company. I haven't made the jump yet, but it's tempting - especially since my home is heated with electricity :)

My Example:

Note: It might be worth reading up on the providers too. The ones with two or less stars are apparently known to be troublesome.

I Win a Bunny...

About a month ago I called in to the old "Guyra Neighbourhood Centre" while killing time between jobs, and checked out their renovations. In doing so I apparently entered a draw to win a large stuffed rabbit, and about a week later I get an email to let me know that hoppingus maddius is ready to be picked up.

I enjoyed the companionship of the 40cm tall stuffed floppy eared bunny simulant for a while, but having an already full house decided it would have a more useful life elsewhere - and thus donated it to the Guyra Hospital. Hopefully it will make the life of some kids happier.

Nice to see the Guyra NHC, now rebranded as "The Hub" has secured some money to keep trading for a while. I don't know much about what they do, but did see them in the Guyra Argus this week at

Bunny Pic at

A $100 tablet, might be OK...

A few of you have seen the Galaxy Tablet I'm carting around and using daily, and those of you who have asked have been disappointed that they're not currently available at their $299 price.

Well, I see Big W is flogging a $100 tablet that, while certainly not as good as the Galaxy, would still be good enough if you want to get started in the Tablet world. Like the Galaxy, this one also works as a phone and an "Internet Anywhere" seven inch slab, so if you want Email on the go without carting a laptop around, it could be OK. You could also use it as an MP3 player, a cheapo Camera, possibly a Skype phone, and an endless supply of games - educational and otherwise, etc.

I haven't seen what store stock is like. According to it's available until 17th June. Not sure what Optus is bundling, but odds are the TPG $1 per month 10 cent per minute mobile SIM plan or the $20 per month 5 hour or 1.5G ratio plan would suit this device for most people. (Note that it probably doesn't work on Telstra's network, so if you're planning to go bush, it might not suit.) I'll probably grab one just to play with later this week. Oh, by the way according to it will play Angry Birds - which is free on Android's App Market :)

BitCoin goes Bonkers.

Two newsletters ago I talked briefly about a new 'currency' called BitCoins. Recently, PayPal banned buying and selling them through PayPal, and there have also been several reviews of the BitCoin system in the media. When I wrote about them, one BitCoin was worth about 80 cents. They're now up to abour $15.

Of course, there's no guarantee that the system won't come crashing down, but nonetheless it's fascinating to watch :)

Popular Internet and Phone Prices.

Here's a listing of the most likely popular Internet and Mobile plans currently known by myself. All figures are approximate, and town availability is based on likely service quality as well as availability. No guarantee is made to the accuracy of this data, as it is a rough guide only. Install / setup fees may apply. Figures are monthly.


ADSL1 ADSL2 Guyra Armidale
Exetel $34.50/100G $39.50/50GB Yes Yes 6/12 month contract, no excess fees.
$30/5GB No Yes 18 month contract, no excess fees.

Mobile Internet

Mobile Internet Guyra Armidale
Exetel $25/5GB Yes No 12 month contract, Massive excess fees. No warning on usage.
TPG $1 + $27.50/GB Yes No No Contract
Telstra $10/1GB Yes Yes No Contract, Massive excess fees. Requires existing phone plan. Warning on Usage.

Mobile Phone (optional internet.)

Mobile Phone Guyra Armidale
TPG $1 + 10c/min Yes Yes Internet $27.50/GB, No Contract
Telstra $50 for 6 hrs Yes Yes Includes 1GB Internet, No Contract, Massive excess fees. No warning on usage.
TPG $20 for 5 hours Yes Yes Or ratio up to 1.5GB offsetting calls, No Contract, Massive excess fees. Warns on usage.

A Car that plays LPs

Well, actually it's a van. They surely wear the records out quickly, but are nonetheless amusing to watch! They're a Japanese toy from the '70s.

Ignored by six and a half police...

So far the LED Lighting I added to the Bluebird has passed the eyes of six and a half police people. (One I know was off duty.) There hasn't been any mad skidding of tyres and sudden U-Turns as they've passed me by, so I guess it's a case of so far so good.

Prado takes on Bluebird, Wins.

On a less positive note, someone backed into my car and left a relatively benign dent. Surprisingly they also owned up to it. Since the time to repair is apparently four days, it will be a while before I get it sorted. It's nice to know that the other person owned up and I will send them a gift when it's all resolved.

Well, that's it for another newsletter.

Old Editions
You can find old editions of this newsletter on the CCC Blog.

You can also subscribe or unsubscribe at

Michael Kean
Proprietor, Cool Country Consulting.
Trading Hours: 10am to 8pm weekdays.
Tel: 02 6775 0239 Fax: 02 8212 9582 Mob: 0427 644 825
Chat contacts: WLM: Skype: cccons

English (US)
04/25/11 @ 23:28 by mccmikey
Visibility: Published

Type: Post   Priority: 3  

Categories: Assorted

Assorted News 35 - Tidbits.

n this edition:

Not a great deal of news, but a few ramblings and stories. The most useful item for most people will probably be how to back up your important stuff on the Internet for free.

Assorted News:
Free and easy Offsite Backup with DropBox.

General Ramblings:
Read the Guyra Argus an Armidale Express online
What is a 3D Printer?
Desktop, Laptop or Tablet?
Android Tablet $299 until May 5...
Shopping Online vs. Shopping Local.
Longer Passwords and LastPass?

Bluebird gets new look.

Free and Easy Offsite Backup with DropBox.

There is a saying in IT that a file doesn't exist until it exists in three places. However, most people tend to have their files in one place only, or maybe two. The question to ask is 'what would happen if my computer blew up or my office / home burnt down?' The computer hard drive dying is about 6% chance per year. The house burning down is thankfully much lower than that!

Backing up to Memory Stick / USB drive / Thumb Drive / whatever they're called today is the most common way to back up, and it's probably good enough as long as you remember to do it :)

Well, here's another way. It's free and it's been around for years. It's a program called DropBox. When you install it on your computer, any file you put in the DropBox folder is copied onto a private spot on the Internet. If you have more than one computer, that file will also appear on the other computer automatically.

In practice, you probably only have a couple of really important files. Quickbooks, MYOB, CashBook Plus, etc. All you would need to do is put the backup into the DropBox folder and bingo - your file is safe on the Internet in case your computer goes bang and takes the office with it.

There are many other programs that will do a similar thing. Dropbox is just one of the easiest to set up. Free from

Reminder: I also offer a managed offsite backup feature with version control through CCC for prices starting at $10 a month.

Also, as mentioned later in this newsletter - a longer password or a passphrase is recommended since it's the only thing protecting your DropBox files.

Read the Guyra Argus an Armidale Express online

Doubtless you already know that you can read most newspapers on the Internet, but perhaps thought that the Guyra and Armidale ones were too small? Well, they're not :)

Read the Guyra Argus main articles free at

Read the Armidale Express main articles free at

What is a 3D Printer?

We're not too far away from the day when you can say "I want one of those" and your computer prints a real one for you. Or perhaps you have one part and need another identical one? Print one :) A reasonable article about this is at and there's plenty more on Google.

Pictured there for example is a working bicycle printed out of nylon, as well as dentures.

You can also print edible chocolates, etc :)

.. and once you've eaten too many of those, you can soon print a new, working kidney!

.. and a replacement bone if you broke one...

Amazing stuff.

Of course, we are talking about printers here. You know, those bastards that occasionally take paper and turn it into a torn mess, or refuse to stop when asked...

Desktop, Laptop, Netbook or Tablet?

One of my customers is planning a trip overseas to some lesser-known places for a while, and wanted some mod cons such as GPS, Book Reader, Email, Internet, etc. The GPS part was easy. Her Nokia Mobile has that built in, and crucially supports offline maps so she doesn't need Internet access to know where she is. (An advantage that up until very recently only Nokia had.)

My normal answer to the rest of the desires is "NetBook." As well as giving her all the book reading and email / internet capabilities, it would also be a worthwhile replacement for her 7 year old laptop. She liked the now old 8.9" Netbook I have, but we were both surprised to find that nobody makes a netbook in that size any more - they're all 10" or larger. (Strange to think the Netbook I bought new only last year is already a museum piece!)

Tablets were another option - but hey, they were still around $600 to $1,000 - too expensive to consider. Nonetheless I pointed her at the Samsung Galaxy Tablet shown online at Dick Smith as $588 with the suggestion to check out the other retailers. Next day I get an SMS to say "got one for $299 at Harvey Norman". One visit to said customer, and about an hour later it was all set up with email, internet, GPS, a couple of offline map programs, standard GSM phone, Amazon's Kindle software, Angry Birds and Skype.

So it's now a very real question for people. Do you need a laptop, or would a tablet computer - AKA 'fondleslab' suit you better?

What you get with a tablet?

* Email, anywhere there's Mobile or WiFi reception
* Internet, anywhere there's Mobile or WiFi reception
* An always up-to-date GPS, with or without Mobile or WiFi reception.
* A Video and YouTube player (that can connect to your TV too.)
* A reasonable still and video camera
* An Internet Radio player
* All your music collection in one gadget
* Contacts and Address Book, syncable.
* A games machine
* A mobile phone - albeit comically large
* 5-10 hours battery life
* A word processor
* A spreadsheet
* A book reader with almost instant access to 900,000 books.
* A Skype phone with teleconference capabilities.

Other features can be added for free or small amounts by buying apps - for example, an accounting program.

What don't you get?

* Viruses (yet)
* A big screen
* A traditional keyboard or mouse
* Traditional Accounting Software
* Easy ability to print. (Some Bluetooth printers might work, not tested. But why print?)
* Something that stands still in the upright position.

(Note: most of the above also applies to any Android-based Mobile Phone.)

So, for many people there's a strong chance that a tablet computer - or even just a mobile phone - will do all you need without the learning curve that applies to standard computers. As the price for these devices drops, they're becoming ideal 'first computers' for people new to the Internet.

Note - I haven't mentioned the Apple iPad or iPhone here - they are similar to Android-based tablet and phone devices, but the more I use both the more I see the iPhone as a 'co-dependent on iTunes' Apple-controlled marketing device. They're OK, but in my mind just a little 'retarded' in some of the ways they perform. I suspect that Android (Google) vs Apple (iOS) will be like Windows vs. Mac - I may yet be proven wrong however as Android too does have some rough edges here and there. Poor Nokia dropped the ball some time ago, and from what I hear Windows Phone 7 is still a problem child.

I sell SIM cards for them all if you need one - phone and Internet.

Samsung Galaxy Tab $299

Harvey Norman sold out of these on Saturday at 3:01pm care of yours truely - and apologies to one of my customers who tried to buy one at 3:02pm and couldn't! They're still available at Telstra - see - cheap because they're an older model about to be superseded.

Shopping Online vs. Shopping Locally In Store.

You may have recently heard Gerry Harvey complaining that he was having trouble competing with online sales? This kind of backfired as it encouraged people who hadn't already done so to have a look at what they could get online. Myself included. But it's not always guaranteed to be a better price.

Some retailers, such as and are purely online.
Most retailers are hybrids, such as Dick Smith,Harvey Norman, RetraVision, Bing Lee.

Many of the hybrids are behind the game. Dick Smith ( is probably the best of the four above as their website lists exactly what's in stock in which store. RetraVision Armidale is probably the worst, having a website that at time of writing shows a two page catalog with no products; and confusingly has a second website that lists a couple of stereos you can buy online and that's it. Harvey Norman is a bit better having a few products listed at but there's no guarantee that what's listed there is present in your branch. Bing Lee's website looks OK at but they're confusing to deal with since they tend to 'negotiate' on price, you can't compare them readily to the others. (For example, a freezer listed as $479 will come down to $429 the moment you look at it in the presence of a customer service rep.)

There's nothing wrong with these retailers - except perhaps for some of the sales people. Apparently Dick Smith has a "horrbile rude little man' according to one customer, and Harvey Norman has a 'salesman that gives me the creeps' according to another; but in my experience they're all just unique humans with their own ways. Only one ever annoyed me by making up info that I knew was wrong. I'll regularly wander through all four when shopping for customers needs.

My recent personal experiences: Bought a freezer for $399 + $79 delivery from Appliances Online since similar sized ones where available were $600+ without delivery. It arrived OK without issue. On the other hand, I also made the mistake recommending a Dell NetBook to a customer in comparison with others; not realising that there was up to a one month wait on them. Surprisingly it turned up a week later. Surprisingly it was also dead on arrival. Surprisingly a Dell Tech Support person arrived two days later to fix it. Surprisingly, he didn't have the parts. Then came Easter so we'll wait and see what happens next. A bit of a negative for Dell, as my other purchases with them have been good. I'm also always buying replacement laptop screens at a rate of one a fortnight from eBay, and am yet to have a problem other than slow delivery from Honkers. (Hong Kong ;-) )

And then, there's the $197 NetBook from last year and $299 Tablet from this year, both at local retailers. Sometimes the real world deals are as good or better than the online ones.

So, there's a debate. Do you save 20% or so on Retail and forego the customer service, or do you buy something locally with a markup? You decide :) But if you do shop online, the one key tip I have is to research before you buy. The counter point is 'what is your time worth' - what are you sacrificing in order to spend time researching. The Dell NetBook fiasco is an embarrassment I should not have caused.

Longer Passwords and LastPass?

As more and more of our stuff ends up online, it is often just our password that protects us from hackers. But we all hate passwords.

There's a new problem too. Computers are getting faster. Given the chance they can break simple passwords very quickly now. See for example. Generally, the longer the better. So perhaps consider using a phrase such as 'the dog smells' rather than 'rascal' - 400 years to crack is much longer than ten seconds.

.. and then if you don't want to have to remember all those passwords, you can use a free program called "LastPass" which will remember them all for you and protect them with a master password. See

Bluebird gets a new look.

I've had a few 'fun' things on the queue for the Easter break. One was to add LED lighting to the Bluebird.

Since it's one of those colours that 'blends into the road' I'm conscious that it's a bit hard to see in overcast conditions. However it's also one of those evil cars that will happily let you leave the lights on when you get out so you come back to a dead battery. Queue $10 worth of bits from eBay and a few hours of glueing, screwing and soldering and here's the result: - although I should have scraped those juicy dead bugs off first! As far as I know it's a legal modification, seeing as it's white in colour, but time will tell. The RTA site isn't clear on LED lighting. I have seen a couple of Armidale vehicles breaking that rule with red and blue illumination at the front.

Well, that's it for another newsletter. I now own a FondleSlab - primarily for experimentation and programming - so if you want to see one in real life, flag me down :)

Old Editions
You can find old editions of this newsletter on the CCC Blog.

You can also subscribe or unsubscribe at

Cool Country Consulting & Auzzie Internet
Tel: 02 6775 0239
Fax: 02 8212 9582
Mob: 0427 644 825
Skype: cccons
Yahoo: lispbourke

English (US)
04/08/11 @ 11:31 by mccmikey
Visibility: Published

Type: Post   Priority: 3  

Categories: Assorted

Cruise1323 Android App

Well, on their site they claim to have an Android app - they tell you to go search the market.

But it's not there, and they ignored my email.

So, if you wish to listen to this station on your Android device here's how.

1 - Download "Retro Radio"
2 - Click "Stations"
3 - Click "Menu" then "Add Station"
4 - Name Cruise 1323
5 - Streams, click Add.
6 - Stream address is
7 - Stream bitrate is 48
8 - Click Save, and optionally set as default.

Done. Now you can listen to those endless funeral ads, water filter sales and hunt street photo ads along with the older music.

EDIT: It is there for some devices only. The designer assumed a full-length phone resolution, so it is not compatible with devices with a smaller screen such as the HTC Wildfire.

They do not answer emails still.

NewNew post...

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