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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Fixed! iPhone 2.2 Upgrade Low Battery Life

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, after Ashley upgrade of her iPhone to 2.2 from 2.1, her battery started draining really quickly. Unfortunately, this was exactly the opposite of what most people found – an increase in battery life.

I needed to find a solution.

As I mentioned in the previous post, there were two possible issues that I had read about and needed to try. They were:

1. Microsoft ActiveSync / Exchange / Outlook integration
2. Reset and wipe the iPhone, reloading all data and settings.

Since starting over would be a pain, I started with removing the Microsoft ActiveSync configuration from the iPhone. I hoped that would stop the quick battery drain on her iPhone. But, after a day – Ashley noticed the discharge rate was still higher than it would be and getting only one full day on a charge was not acceptable.

I then started the process to delete all content and settings. A process that takes a couple of hours to complete, especially if you include restore and backup of your files and data, then the initial sync.

The good news? After two days Ashley’s iPhone’s battery is performing much better, even with the Microsoft ActiveSync being re-configured. It was my first time completely wiping and iPhone, and overall was a pretty good experience.

For those interested in more detail, here is the process.

1. Sync or create a backup of your iPhone data through iTunes on your PC.
2. Browse to the Settings menu on your iPhone.
3. Click on the General option on the settings Menu.

Fixed! iPhone 2.2 Upgrade Low Battery Life - Click on the General option on the settings Menu.
4. Scroll to the bottom and click on the Reset option.

Fixed! iPhone 2.2 Upgrade Low Battery Life - Scroll to the bottom and click on the Reset option.
5. Click on the second option down, Erase All Content and Settings.

Fixed! iPhone 2.2 Upgrade Low Battery Life - Click on the second option down, Erase All Content and Settings.
6. Click on the red button which says Erase iPhone. The small print says that this will delete all media and data, and reset all settings. This will take about an hour. First, check and make sure you have a backup of your iPhone data and settings. Second, it really does take at least an hour to complete. Do not start this process if you need to use your iPhone in the next couple of hours.

Fixed! iPhone 2.2 Upgrade Low Battery Life - Click on the red button which says Erase iPhone.
7. Once the erase is completed, connect your iPhone to iTunes again.
8. You will be given two options, one to restore a previous backup or another option to treat it like a new iPhone. Restore your backup here.

After the back is restored and the sync is complete, your iPhone is restored to the previous state, but you will have much longer life on the battery.

Good luck!

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

BMW M3 E90/E92 Cruise Control Feature Review

Over the Christmas holiday weekend I took the BMW M3 on its first extended road trip -- or at least a trip great than 100 miles. And because of the 100 miles of open road heading up Interstate 5 in California from Bakersfield, I was able to try out the cruise control feature on the vehicle for the first time. And the cruise control would have the opportunity to be used not only in flat stretches, but also rolling hills and a couple of steep grades as drove over the Grapevine.

The cruise control feature is one that I have found to be really hit or miss in past vehicles. For instance in Ashley's GX470 it is worthless if you are traveling over 65mph and hit any sort of grade. The computer tells the engine to shift to a lower gear and the car accelerates quickly to adjust a simple 2mph correction. My Audi A4 on the other hand was excellent across most fronts and only suffered in downhill grades such as the Grapevine would accelerate above the set speed. Generally speaking, the down shift issue cannot happen on a manual transmission anyway. :-)

Leaving early on Christmas morning, I was able to turn on the cruise control almost instantly due to very few cars being on the road. I pressed the button on the left side of the steering column to activate the cruise control and then pushed the lever forward to set the speed. Two things happen once the speed gets set. The first is a "really cool" feature -- although I am not sure what function it really performs -- a red line slides up on the speedometer to the speed you have set and a digital number is displayed in the information window to confirm the speed that you have set (see picture below). From there, you just tap forward or backwards on the cruise control lever to increase or decrease speed in 1 MPH increments. To cancel, just pull the lever up or down.

BMW e90 / e92 / e93 M3 Cruise Control Settings and Review
Overall, the cruise control and speed management worked very much as I expected. Even at 73 mph, I was able to leave the cruise control on up the Grapevine grade without much strain or variation in speed. Speed remained constant and the power remained smooth, exactly what you would expect given the horsepower / torque and the quality of the settings.

However, I did run into two minor issues.

The first had to do when I was going downhill on the grades. The cruise control was able to maintain a constant speed rather than accelerating, but it was less than smooth. You could feel the car surge and slow every few seconds as the computer seemed to be unable to create the right mix of power and throttle. When the throttle would ease off, the engine would start breaking and decrease the speed. Then it would increase the throttle with a slight lurch forward and you would maintain the set speed. At first, I thought this was because I was running the car in "Power" mode and the electronic damping control (EDC) set to "Sport" -- by turning the power off and setting the EDC to comfort, the problem was a little muted, but still there. On the way home after it continued to occur on the downhill grade, I just turned off the cruise control and drove down.

The other minor issue was the due to the same shape / size of the levers, I would occasionally tap the top lever forward or backward which has the effect of turning on the high-beams or in effect bright-lighting whoever was in front of me. It was usually followed by me at some point passing the car and waving to say "sorry". Hopefully with more use, that will happen less frequency.

Still, despite these minor annoyances the cruise control on the BMW M3 E90 sedan / E92 coupe / E93 convertible seems to fit the bill.

Have you had a similar experience with your E90/E92/E92 BMW?

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Fixed! Guitar Hero Mic Won't Work!

Following up with my post yesterday on my minor struggles with getting the Guitar Hero World Tour Drum Set to sync with my PlayStation 3 system -- I also briefly encountered a couple of problem issues in setting up the microphone to work with my PS3 system.

Guitar Hero World Tour Microphone Mic has sync problems where you can't cannot won't will not connect to the Playstation 3 PS3 or Nintendo Wii
(In addition, after experiencing my issue and doing a little searching -- I noticed that a lot of Nintendo Wii users are having issues with the Microphone setup and synchronization with a Wii Remote. Please scroll to the bottom for Wii specific tips.)

When I was initially in-game with the Guitar Hero World Tour playing with the wireless Guitar controller and I wanted to put in the microphone. So, I attached the Microphone to my first USB controller port on my Playstation 3. It did not work -- I still got the problem message:

You must connect a microphone to continue.

I tried a couple more USB ports and still I had no luck.

What I did next was that I shut off the PlayStation 3 and hoped that would resolve it. I then turned the PS3 back on and used the Wireless SIXAXIS controller to get to the main menu. The Guitar Hero World Tour game then recognized my microphone and I was able to play.

The keys here were:

#1 Connecting the microphone while the game was not playing and the PlayStation 3 was turned off.
#2 Using the wireless SIXAXIS controller to start up the game.

Hopefully that works for you!

For Nintendo Wii Users
For Guitar Hero World Tour for the Nintendo Wii you need have a Wii Remote Controller(Wiimote) for each of the devices and specifically for the Guitar Hero Microphone. Without the third controller, then the microphone will not work. If you need another Wii Remote please click on this linkto purchase one from

If you have the three controllers, please proceed with these instructions in order to get the Microphone to work on the Nintendo Wii version of Guitar Hero World Tour:

This post is one of several on how to fix problems with your Nintendo Wii. To see the entire list, click here for the Nintendo Wii Repair Guide.

1. Turn off the Nintendo Wii completely.
2. Plug-in your microphone controller into the USB slot on the back of the Nintendo Wii.
3. Now turn on the Nintendo Wii system
4. Start up the Guitar Hero World Tour game using the Nintendo Wii Remote with nothing else connected or synced including a nunchuck, guitar, or drum set.
5. Use that unconnected Nintendo Wii Remote to navigate through the menus.
6. Test it by going to practice and choosing vocals. You now should be able to use your microphone successfully!

For more information, you can check out Red Octane / Activision's web site (link here) -- however, be advised that most of the answers are not helpful and point you back at the manual which does not have great detail. :-)

Did either of these solutions help you out? Please let me know with a comment!

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Fixed! Guitar Hero Drum Set Won't Sync

We arrived home today from a great Christmas break up at my parents and after unloading the car my attention turned to one of my Christmas gifts from Ashley -- Guitar Hero World Tour. I was excited to have the Complete Band Game edition of the Guitar Hero World Tour, which meant that I would have many hours of fun singing and playing the drum set in addition to the guitar.

After playing a few songs on the guitar to check out the song list, and belting out some excellent renditions (I must say) of "No Sleep till Brooklyn" by the Beastie Boys and "What I've Done" by Linkin Park, my attention turned to the drum set.

Guitar Hero World Tour Drums - Drum Set will not sync with Playstation 3
I was looking forward to the drum set perhaps the most of any instrument for this version of Guitar Hero. Probably because I could picture the hours of laughter Ashley will most likely have from watching me trying to play them in the game. That will have to be entertaining -- perhaps You Tube material at some point.

I started pulling them out of the box and with minor use of the instructions (I did not see the headphone plugs on the bottom of the cymbals), I assembled the drums and I was ready to play them in the game.

If only I could get the drum set to sync first. When I plugged in the USB Adapter dongle into the Playstation 3 it started flashing. I then hit the PS button on the Guitar Hero World Tour Drums and they started flashing. I assumed it would sync just like the guitar. After about 30 seconds of flashing, the drum set stopped -- but the USB adapter connector continued.

I tried again. Same result.

I figured it could be a conflict with one of the USB ports. I changed from port 2, to port 3, then port 4, and then port 1. No luck, same issue. I even tried in the USB extender on the main Guitar adapter still no luck.

Finally, after trial and error -- I came up with the following solution. If you are having issues with syncing your Guitar Hero drums on your PS3 -- hopefully this will help you out.

1. Turn on the Playstation 3
2. Plug the dongle for the drum set into an open port on the PS3, the light will begin to flash slowly.
3. Hold down the button (where the light is flashing) on the dongle until it begin flashing very rapidly. Release the button and the light continues to flash rapidly.
4. Hold down the PS button on the drum set until the red light starts flashing rapidly.
5. Within a few seconds you will get a solid light on both the Guitar Hero World Tour Drum Set and the Playstation 3.

Congratulations, you have now completed a sync for your drum set. Each time you turn on the Playstaion 3, Guitar Hero World Tour, and the Drum set, the synchronization should work perfectly.

Let me know if this worked for you with a comment below!

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Friday, December 26, 2008

iPhone: 2.2 Upgrade Reduces Battery Life

It’s been quite awhile since I have posted much on Ashley’s original first generation 8GB iPhone. For her it has been a reliable, high quality all-in-one device that handles all of her daily jobs with relative ease. While she is starting to struggle a little with space management constraints, the iPhone has really been everything that she expected it to be.

Ashley’s iPhone is still “stock” so to say, meaning that it has not had a “jailbreak” performed on it – and there are a few programs from the Apple App store. Nothing really heavy, mainly email, iPod, and phone usage.

As part of keeping up to date, we have also performed the software upgrades each and every time they become available from Apple. Each update has been relatively good for the phone, whether it was 1.2, the famous 2.0, or even 2.1 updates to the iPhone software.

Recently, we upgraded to the 2.2 version of the software and the battery life has gone through the floor. When fully charged, Ashley’s first gen iPhone could last up to 5-6 days without needing to be charged. Now since the upgrade, she is lucky to get 2 days without docking or charging the phone via the USB or car charger.

At first, we thought it might have been just a change in the usage patterns of the device. But here, 4 weeks later we have changed our minds. Since no new applications have been added and the usage has not changed – we are convinced that *something* in the iPhone 2.2 software is causing the issue. Constantly being nagged by the low battery 20% warning and dismissing it was becoming a nuisance.

Apple iPhone Software 2.2 reduces battery life in the original first generation iPhone
What could it be?

After doing a little bit of research, I have come to find out a couple of possible solutions that might apply that others have found.

Here they are:

1. Microsoft Exchange for Contacts / Calendar / Email. If you are using a Microsoft Exchange based email that leverages the Exchange ActiveSync technology to download and sync you calendar, contacts, or email. It could be the issue – apparently something in the upgrade can either corrupt or change the usage patterns of an already setup profile. In this case, simply delete the Microsoft ActiveSync profile and then re-add it.
2. Reset and erase all data on your iPhone. Some data or configurations could have become corrupted. Erase all the content, applications, and settings on your phone and then reconfigure them. To do this, go to General --> Reset --> Erase All Content and Settings.

Over the next couple of days we are going to try #1 first and then if that is not successful, try out #2. With luck, hopefully Ashley’s iPhone will go back to normal battery usage.

Is anyone else experiencing similar symptoms? If so, what did you find? Let me know with a comment!

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Fixed! Outlook 2007 – The data file was not closed properly. The file is being checked for problems.

Outlook 2007 is an interesting animal to say the least. I think I have experienced more issues with Outlook 2007 than any other previous version of Outlook – that includes Outlook 97, Outlook 98, Outlook 2000, Outlook 2002, Outlook 2003, and Outlook 2007. The only redemptive qualities of these errors are the fact that they have fit more in the category of annoying that debilitating or crashing.

One message that I have started receiving more frequently since my upgrade to Outlook 2007 has to do with a file checking of the Outlook OST (Offline Folder File) as I do run my Outlook client in the Exchange Cached Mode on Windows XP.

Here is the message:

The data file Mailbox – Hanscom, Ken was not closed properly.  The file is being checked for problems. Outlook 97, Outlook 98, Outlook 2000, Outlook 2002, Outlook 2003, and Outlook 2007 OST PST Exchange Cached Mode

The data file ‘Mailbox – Hanscom, Ken’ was not closed properly. The file is being checked for problems.

When this message occurs, I would see my hard disk with very high activity for 10-15 minutes, then followed by a little bubble message in my taskbar which told me the file checking had been completed. What Outlook 2007 was effectively doing was running SCANPST in the background to make sure my Offline Folder File for Exchange Cached mode was not corrupted. At least with Outlook 2007 this process now runs in the background. Had this been Outlook 2003, I would have been stuck waiting for the process to complete rather than just having a degraded, slower experience in Outlook.

After I encountered the problem a few times, I decided to try and understand what was causing it. When I looked at running processes after closing Outlook 2007 by using the File --> Exit under task manager, I noticed that Outlook.exe process was still running – meaning some other programs or processes still had the Outlook OST file opened.

I then thought about what other applications I might have that could possibly have access to the Outlook files. A couple of applications came to mind, Blackberry Desktop Manager, Microsoft Communicator, and Microsoft Search to name a couple. To test, I exited each of them, in different orders and when I exited all three of them, the Outlook.exe process went away from the task manager.

Looking into it a little more, I discovered that the source of the error generally has to do when you shut down your machine and the Outlook data file – whether it was a personal folder file or offline folder file – and another program or process has the file locked. Outlook and your operating system (Windows XP for me) is not able to close out the file properly and that flags Outlook to run a file check against the OST / PST to see if the file has been corrupted.

There are apparently several (link here) cases of this happening with the Google Desktop client if you have it running – which I do not. Also, Microsoft also recommends a number of options (link here, two-thirds of the way down the page).

The best solution for me has been to try one of two things:
1. Make sure that when I shut down my PC that Outlook 2007 is still open. That allows the Operating system to properly close out Outlook.exe. This is what Microsoft recommends in the link above.
2. If I have closed Outlook 2007 already, close out other programs such as Blackberry Desktop Manager or Microsoft Search that could have the file locked or open.

Since I have tried those two processes at shutdown I have experienced the problem much less frequently. That has at least made the issue somewhat bearable in the meantime. Hopefully, if you are encountering this issue – one of those solutions will work for you since frequent notifications like this can be quite the annoyance.

Interestingly, I have not experienced this issue with Outlook 2007 on Windows Vista – only on Windows XP. Has anyone else had a similar experience?

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Photo Blog: Merry Christmas Everyone!

First off, Merry Christmas everyone!

Ashley and I woke up pretty very early this Christmas morning – 5:30am to be exact – to leave and make our way up to my parents place in Bakersfield, California which is about 130 miles away from our house. Our goal was to be up there by 8:00am, just in time for breakfast.

We were still pretty tired as we had a great Christmas Eve, first having a very relaxing dinner at the “world famous” BeauRivage in Malibu, CA. Then we headed over to our church, Malibu Presbyterian for the 9:00pm Christmas Eve service. It was our first opportunity in the 15 or so years we have attended and we both really enjoyed it.

After shaking off our sleepiness, we finished packing jumped into the car just after 6:00am. Our first stop was Starbucks in the Calabasas Commons – surprisingly open – for a caffeine fix and then made short work of the trip up north despite some misting and cold conditions.

We had my first ever 5 hour gift opening session, highlighted of course by my 7-month old Nephew, Lincoln. While it sounds like a long time to open gifts, anyone that has had Christmas with a young one like Lincoln knows that the time goes by fast.

Here are a few pictures from Christmas Day...

Dominic and Kimberly open gifts as their 7-month old, Lincoln watches.Dominic and Kimberly open gifts as their 7-month old, Lincoln watches.

My dad opens Sadie's (Boston Terrier) stocking and hands her a gift.My dad opens Sadie's (Boston Terrier) stocking and hands her a gift.

Lincoln opens up his stocking.Lincoln opens up his stocking.

Ashley watches as others start opening gifts.Ashley watches as others start opening gifts.

I am trying to figure out how to assemble my foam car.  I later took some of Ashley's help.I am trying to figure out how to assemble my foam car. I later took some of Ashley's help after I bent a connector.

Kimberly and mom open up and show Lincoln some of his gifts.Kimberly and mom open up and show Lincoln some of his gifts.

My dad finds one of his many gifts on his treasure hunt that my mom setup.

The dogs are tired out and asleep on their beds after a long day.The dogs are tired out and asleep on their beds after a long day.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Everything is Roses for New Years Day 2009!

Exciting news, we will be spending our entire New Years Day in Pasadena, California -- for the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl festivities. And it will be a case of firsts for both Ashley and I.

For Ashley, it will be her first time to the Rose Bowl itself as well her first Rose Bowl game. (I had the privilege of attending the famous 2006 Rose Bowl)

2009 Rose Bowl Game featuring USC Trojans and Penn State Nittany Lions
For me, it will be my first time attending the Rose Parade. I have had the opportunity to view the floats after the parade at the float showcase, but never the Rose Parade.

2009 Rose Parade with Pepperine's Alumni Association
First for the parade, we will be joining our alma matter’s (Pepperdine University) alumni association for the Rose Parade event ( itself. Our section in the stands is towards the end of the parade route – near Sierra Madre and we are expecting the floats to start going by around 9:20am or so. That still means that we will need to get there pretty early because of traffic. Luckily breakfast will be served.

Then, I happened to fall into some Rose Bowl tickets on Stubhub this week to see the USC Trojans take on the Penn State Nittany Lions in a traditional PAC-10 vs. BIG-10 matchup. Regardless of my feelings about the BCS matchups this year, it is sure to be fun.

I say “fell” into them because I had been trying to get tickets for this year’s Rose Bowl through the publicly available method (Ticketmaster) unsuccessfully at the $145 face value price because I thought it would be fun to attend both events from the Tournament of Roses in the same day. However, despite logging on right at the time of sale, I was shut out of the tickets.

As I naturally do, I then focused my attention over to Stubhub to see if there were any other opportunities to pick up tickets. Still, they were on the order of $200+ each for super high seats in rows above 80. I figured I would pass this year.

Then over this past weekend, I decided to check out Stubhub and found a set of tickets for $120 each in the end zone at a perfect viewing row of 50. Even if that happens to be in the middle of the Penn State alumni section. :-) For $25 below face value, I could not pass and I snapped them up quickly.

Now we get to attend both events on the same day. Both fun and tiring!

We are still trying to figure out how the timing will work – with the parade ending shortly after 11:00am and the football game starting at 1:30pm, we are really going to need to move to get over there!

Are you going to be around or at the 2009 Rose Bowl or Rose Parade on January 1st? Let me know and maybe we will meet up! Otherwise, I am sure I will be taking plenty of pictures!

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

BMW TPM: Left Front Tire Pressure Low!

A few nights ago I walked out to my car and started it up. Immediately, I received the warning light and message from the BMW TPM (Tire Pressure Monitor system): Left Front Tire Pressure Low.

My first two thoughts were:

- Ugh, I have somewhere to be in 20 minutes and
- Maybe I should have really considered that tire / wheel insurance since new Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 in the 245/35ZR19/RF 93Y tires run $385 a pop even at Costco!

I clicked through the message on the BMW iDrive system in my e90 M3 and read through the run flat tire (RFT) message which suggested that I did not drive over 50mph while my tire were flat. Just to check, I jumped out of the car real quickly to kick the tires (literally) to see if I could notice lower pressure. I couldn’t tell any kind of difference and the right front tire sure did not look low. But, I did not know if that was due to the run flat tires or not.

Tire Pressure Monitoring System Reset on the BMW M3 E90

I drove carefully over to the local gas station to see if I could put some air in the tire. It was not dark, but the best I could tell is that I was able to raise the PSI to about 40 on the tires that state a maximum of 51 PSI. It did not seem to be losing air for the first couple of minutes I was there. I reset the BMW TPM setting and was on my way, hoping that I could make it to where I was going and that it was either a small leak or the TPM system was not accurate.

I made it to the location without issue where the car sat for 4 hours before I went to drive home. When I walked out to the car, I was not sure what to expect – but the TPM sensor still was not back on. Good news, I drove home and figured I would check things out in the morning.

When I woke up in the morning, I decided to go and check the tire pressures all the way around. 42 PSI on the front left tire, 29.5 PSI in the back left, 29.5 in the back right and 29 on the front right. I went to let the air down to 29 PSI on the front right tire and saw and interesting cap on it (none of the other stems had a cap) which says “Reset TPM! TPM Inside”. Ok, so I let the air down to 29 PSI, replaced the cap and then fired up the car. As mentioned, the TPM warning came on for the right front tire and I reset the system.

I went to let the air down to 29 PSI on the front right tire and saw and interesting cap on it (none of the other stems had a cap) which says Reset TPM! TPM Inside.  Ok, so I let the air down to 29 PSI, replaced the cap and then fired up the car.  As mentioned, the TPM warning came on for the right front tire and I reset the system.

Everything was fine and thankfully no need to replace a $400 tire. Whew.

But, the experience got me thinking and I had not read much about the TPM system, so I thought it was time to learn. Also, I had no idea what the recommended tire pressures were for the vehicle – probably a good thing to know rather than trusting the dealership to know what was best for the vehicle.

I knew that there were two places where I could find the tire pressure recommendation for my vehicle. The first was on the inside door of the vehicle (most cars have this) and the other would be in the manual. I decided to check them out and see which I should use. What I found was a little interesting.

The inside door of the vehicle had two rating. The standard rating for the front tires (245/35ZR19/RF 93Y) was 35 PSI as well as the rears (265/35ZR19/RF 98Y). But then there was another sticker there that had a rating that specifically stated for driving over 100 MPH, the fronts should be at 39 PSI and the rears at 44 PSI. I found it interesting that there was a specific recommendation for high speeds.

I then consulted the manual and for the 19” wheels, it recommended 35 PSI for the front and 36 PSI for the rears. I went ahead and adjusted the pressure to the manual recommendations of 35 PSI and 36 PSI, and then I reset the TPM.

Continuing on with the TPM – I learned a couple of interesting things about BMW’s TPM system for the E90 M3. Generally speaking, it is not made to detect slow or small leaks, but general or significant loss in pressure that takes it below a certain threshold. For example, in the iDrive system – I cannot tell the actual pressure – I am only notified when it drops below a certain threshold.

In addition, cold or freezing temperatures may cause a false alarm on the tires. In my case, this occurred during a recent bout of cold weather here in Southern California with the temperatures dropping below 40 degrees. With every 10 degrees in ambient temperature change, there is a difference of 1.5 PSI within the tire. That means that a 30 degree drop in temperature would lower the PSI in the tires by 4.5 – in some cases enough to trigger the TPM warning light.

Lastly, the recommendation is to check / add pressure to your tires at a “room” temperature in the 60-70 degree range after the car has been sitting for awhile. Doing this outside of this may trigger a warning as the tires may be warmer from being driven and/or it is significantly hotter or colder than the “room temperature”.

I have definitely learned a lot about the BMW TPM system through this – perhaps you have as well!

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Outlook 2007: The Microsoft Exchange administrator has made a change that requires you quit and restart Outlook

Admittedly, I am not the biggest fan of Microsoft Office 2007. It has definitely cause me my share of problems including just a couple:

- General sluggish performance on Outlook 2007 with Exchange cached mode.
- In PowerPoint 2007, any file I save in the old PPT extension rather than the PPTX format yields a file size of 2MB minimum. So much for backwards compativility.

But the past couple of weeks, I have had an interesting message appearing at random occassions -- that I've counted three times now. Two times when my Thinkpad T61 has woken up from sleep mode, and another time when I have switched network connections.

The message:
The Microsoft Exchange administrator has made a change that requires you quit and restart Outlook.

The Microsoft Exchange administrator has made a change that requires you quit and restart Outlook.

Of course the message is a little daunting -- what in the world did the Exchange System Administrator do to my mailbox? Were my size limits changed? Was my mailbox moved? Had my Outlook Offline file (OST) for Exchange cached mode corrupted again?

I had no idea. I just exited Microsoft Outlook 2007 and was on my merry way. After it happened for the third time in a couple of weeks, I decided to look around a little to see what the problem might be.

My conclusion after a little research? I still have no idea, but likely it has something to do with flakiness between my Outlook 2007 client and the Microsoft Exchange server. I can find references to this problem when you Administrator moves your mailbox between two servers (possible in my case), when there is a difference between Exchange Front End Servers and Backend Server (2003 / 2007) -- and that is about it in terms of what I have found.

Update: Microsoft has provided a hot fix for this and several other issues. You can download it here:

Other issues that the hotfix fixes:
Issues that the hotfix package fixes
This hotfix package fixes the following issue:
952001 ( ) You cannot open Macintosh binary attachments in Outlook 2007 after you install security update 945432

This hotfix package also fixes the following issues that were not previously documented in a Microsoft Knowledge Base article:
- Outlook 2007, you create an application that performs the following functions:
The application creates a search object by using the Application.AdvancedSearch method.
- The application listens for the ItemAdd event in the results collection.
When you run the application in Outlook 2007 in Cached Exchange Mode, the ItemAdd event is not fired.
- Your Microsoft Exchange Server mailbox is migrated to another Active Directory directory service forest by an Exchange Server administrator. Then, you use Outlook 2007 to connect to the server that is running Exchange Server. When you do this, you receive a message that resembles the following message:
- Microsoft Exchange administrator has made a change that requires you quit and restart Outlook.
- After you click OK, the Outlook window disappears. However, if you open Task Manager, you see that the Outlook.exe process does not stop.

In Outlook 2007, you import distribution list members from Windows Address Book by using a Cached Exchange Mode profile. Then, you start Outlook 2007 by using a new Cached Exchange Mode profile. When you do this, the distribution list members are changed.

In Outlook 2007, you try to add a recipient to a meeting request. When you do this, you notice that the recipient's free/busy information is unavailable.
In the Japanese version of Outlook 2007, you try to search the Contacts address book for a contact. If the name of the contact begins with the characters whose low byte is 0 in Unicode, the contact is not displayed.

You upgrade Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 to Outlook 2007. In the first 24 hours after you do this, you cannot view the contacts' free/busy information.

Additionally, when you try to set the "Out of Office Assistant," you may receive the following error message:
- Your Out of Office settings cannot be displayed, because the server is currently unavailable. Try again later.

This problem occurs because Outlook 2007 cannot connect to the Autodiscover service in Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 until approximately 27 hours after the upgrade process is complete.

In Outlook 2007, you accept a task request. When you do this, you unexpectedly receive the following message:

The spelling check was stopped before it finished. Do you want to send anyway?

Has anyone else encountered anything more interesting or ways to stop the message? If so, let me know with a comment.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Blackberry: App Error 523 Reset Issue

I disconnected my Blackberry from the USB Connection on my laptop where it was charging and saw a “funny” message. The only reason it was funny was because I had never seen it before.

app error 523

Ok, I click on the reset link and noticed that my Blackberry started the 5 minute restart process. Since I had not seen the message before, I did a quick Google search since I had recently upgraded the device os on the handset to v4.5.

It appears that it is a more common error than I anticipated and can have some pretty nasty side effects ( Additionally, it can be more common the on the updated Blackberry devices like the Blackberry Storm and the Blackberry Bold – newer operating systems, like I just upgraded my Blackberry to.

These are the most common conditions that can cause the issue:
The device is locked
Content protection is enabled
The 'today' theme is enabled
A mms message is received.

For most, it appears that it is due to a theme (today or otherwise), so if you started getting this error after adding a new theme – I’d recommend removing it ASAP. If that does not work for you, a couple of recommended fixes from RIM include wiping your device to remove any bad or corrupted data (how to here: or using their java loader utility and executing the command “javaloader -u wipe” which is another way to wipe the device if you cannot get back into it.

All that help aside, my device rebooted without issue – in fact it has the first two conditions – the device was locked and content protection is always enabled. Having one issue in a couple of weeks is not a big deal – although I will be on the lookout for more occurrences of the app error 523 reset message!

Are you getting the error? Let me know how you fixed it!

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ruby: Amazon Associates Web Services (AWS / ECS) Sample Code

Step one is complete. In my last post, I discussed how I started working on the development of a Facebook Application using Ruby on Rails. While I mainly discussed the process of getting a Windows environment setup to develop and test Ruby, I also outlined the four step process that I was going through in order to build a relatively simple application.

To review, they were:

1. Acquire the data I was interested in.
2. Parse and save that data to a database (MySQL)
3. Display that data within an application. (Ruby on Rails)
4. Integrate that application with Facebook.

In this post, I will discuss the process I went through in the process – how to acquire the information that I was interested in. The focus here will be around creating a Ruby script – one that interacts with Amazon’s Associates Web Services (AWS / AAWS), formerly known as Amazon E-Commerce Services (ECS). The outcome I was looking for from this effort was to simply print the information from my script to the screen to validate I had the correct information. Storing that information in a database would be done in the next step.

My desire was to leverage some of the GEM packages that were already out there – and build my script on top of those components. It was an interesting process – to say the least. For that reason, I will be posting sample code – since I had such a hard time finding any as sample code snippets are important to relative newbies like myself that have not written code in years.

Let’s get started...

The main goal I was trying to accomplish in acquiring data was to lookup a specific item on Amazon and return key information about that item – primarily description, pricing, and other common elements of the product on Amazon. Simple enough, right?

That is what I thought. I started with some quick Google searches and immediate came across a gem called Amazon/ECS (link here) that I thought would do the trick. I downloaded that gem, amazon-ecs-0.5.3 and started trying to create a sample script. What I quickly discovered is that the sample script only facilitated a product search that returned a list of results, rather than the type of specifics that I was looking for. It took me some time to figure that out from looking at both the documentation and then the source code of the gem package.

While not well documented, the gem package seemed to do what it was supposed to do; it simply did not meet my requirements. It was time to see what alternatives were out there. And, unfortunately – this is where it gets confusing.

There are two gem packages out there for Amazon’s AWS and I’ll refer to them by the installation name since they are both call Amazon AWS – one is referred to in your script as ruby-aws (ruby-aws-1.2.0) (link here) and the other as amazon/aws (ruby-aaws-0.4.4) (link here). Given the information that I sorted through using Google – it took me way too long to figure this out. Hopefully you can learn from my experience here.

First, let’s start with ruby-aws – which I installed the package for using the command “gem install ruby-aws”. Very quickly, I realized that this package was similar to the amazon/ecs package and its main purpose was to search on Amazon and return results rather than returning information about a specific product. I knew I needed to move on, but as I referenced above – it took awhile to understand the differences between the two Amazon AWS gem packages for Ruby.

Once I finally found and installed the amazon/aws by entering “gem install ruby-aaws”, I looked for some sample code. As with most of these packages – the documentation and samples are not to the level of a beginner who is still learning a good amount of the concepts and syntax of the language. Still, in less than an hour I was able to make a request to the Amazon AWS web service via a Ruby script leveraging amazon/aws package. (You can get Ruby AAWS here)

Here were the results on my item search for a Playstation 3 80GB system, Amazon Item ID B001COU9I6 – slightly edited, for readability:

upc = 711719801504
mpn = 711719801504
list_price =
formatted_price = $399.99
amount = 39999
currency_code = USD

= 0711719801306
studio = Sony
binding = Video Game
publisher = Sony
is_memorabilia = 0
product_group = Video Games
hardware_platform =
Playstation 3
platform = PLAYSTATION 3
feature = Includes PlayStation 3
80 GB system, Dualshock 3 wireless controller, and free PlayStaion Network
membership, Internet ready, Wi-Fi, 80 GB of hard disk storage for all your
games, music, videos, and photos. Built-in Blu-ray player to give you the best
high-definition viewing experience and pristine picture quality. Play your
entire catalog of CDs and DVDs.
batteries_included = 0
= PlayStation 3
edition = 80 GB
amazon_maximum_age = 240
title =
PlayStation 3 80GB
model = 711719801504
label = Sony
brand = Sony
release_date = 2008-08-20
item_dimensions = weight = 1500
width =
height = 3.9

product_type_name = VIDEO_GAME_HARDWARE
is_autographed = 0
package_quantity = 1
manufacturer = Sony
graphics_memory_size = 256
package_dimensions = weight = 1610
= 1380
length = 1730
height = 720

esrb_age_rating = Everyone
amazon_minimum_age = 60

And here is what you have been waiting for, the sample code that I used to generate the script. In order for you to run this code, all you need to do is copy it into a file called "amazon.rb" and execute it via command line by typing "ruby amazon.rb". Note: You must have an Amazon AWS API key (here) and replace it in the section below that says YOUR AMAZON API KEY HERE:

require 'amazon/aws'
require 'amazon/aws/search'

include Amazon::AWS
include Amazon::AWS::Search


il = 'ASIN', { 'ItemId' => 'B001COU9I6',
'MerchantId' => 'Amazon' })

rg = 'Medium' )


resp = il, rg)
item_sets = resp.item_lookup_response[0].items
item_sets.each do |item_set|
item_set.item.each do |item|
attribs = item.item_attributes[0]
puts attribs

Let’s walk through the various components of the code to understand what is happening here…

First the setup. All we are doing here is setting up your script to have the right packages and classes available to Ruby when you execute.

#the gem packages your require
require 'amazon/aws'
require 'amazon/aws/search'

# your includes for this script
include Amazon::AWS
include Amazon::AWS::Search

Now we are building the request. The key components here are your Amazon AWS API key which is required (you can get one here), your Amazon Associates ID which is optional if you want to refer would-be buyers, and then the Amazon product ID and the store that it belongs to. There are several options you have here (see this page for more information) that can be customized to your needs – this accomplished exactly what I was trying to do. Note: If your item is sold by a third party and/or is out of stock for Amazon – then with the below settings you will not get a result without some tweaking.

Now we have the Response Group setting which controls the amount of information returned by your item lookup. So you can see the difference, for the Playstation 3 80GB system, here are the “Small”, “Medium”, and “Large” outputs. You can detect test this by simply changing the value of the response group in the below code to get the values you're looking for:

# Put your ASSOCIATES_ID and KEY_ID here, ASSOCIATES_ID is optional.

# create your lookup object here using the ASIN or product ID
il = 'ASIN', { 'ItemId' => 'B001COU9I6',
'MerchantId' => 'Amazon' })

# choose a response group of small, medium, and large which controls the number of attributes returned
rg = 'Medium' )

# add your associates id and api key to the request

Now that we have built our request and know the expected output of our query, it is time to execute the query. In the section below, we are executing the item lookup with our parameters for the Item Lookup (il) and our Response Group (RG). While executing the query we return the set of attribute and then output them to the screen.

# execute the request and create a set for the item attributes
resp = il, rg)
item_sets = resp.item_lookup_response[0].items
item_sets.each do |item_set|
item_set.item.each do |item|
attribs = item.item_attributes[0]
# return the item attributes to the screen
puts attribs

And that’s it – with simple modifications to the above script (or none at all) you can lookup any item at with the Amazon AWS API in Ruby and return the attributes for further usage.

Hopefully this was simple for beginners (like me) and you now have some workable, usable sample code to get started with. If so, let me know with a comment.

Next up for me is now to store this data in a simple MySQL database!

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Ruby on Rails, Facebook, Invalid char `\222' in expression

It had been a really long time since I have done any *real* coding. A really long time -- almost 8 years since I had written any hard core code. Thinking a little more about it, I should probably back a little away from that statement -- as system administrators and DBA would probably take exception to it. I had written a lot of PERL and AWK scripts, numerous database scripts, stored procedures and packages from Oracle, but not any "application" related code.

Why start now?

I had *read* somewhere that creating a Facebook application was really easy to create. That's actually a joke and a serious over-exaggeration, but I had some pretty cool ideas for Facebook applications that did not exist. Plus, I was interested in learning more about some technologies like Ruby / Ruby on Rails, so that was seemingly a perfect fit -- an idea combined with the need to update myself on some development technologies.

So I took the dive. Literally.

I really had *heard* that it was fairly simple to create new Facebook application. But I was not naive enough to think that I could really develop something of any value in 30 minutes. I really did not have a clue how long it would take, but was hoping it was something I could put together from scratch in about 2 weeks. We'll see how that goes.

And, in retrospect -- I started the process a little backwards. What did I do?

I was going to create a Facebook application, right? So that meant that I immediately headed over to the Facebook Developers' site, signed up and registered my application.

Then I headed over to the "recommended" hosting provider for Ruby on Rails applications, Joyent to sign up for the free Facebook development hosting that they offer. Now I was ready to build and deploy my application, right?

One problem -- I had no idea what Ruby was or the difference between Ruby, JRuby or Ruby on Rails. It was time to figure that out. So, I headed over to the Ruby on Rails website, downloaded Ruby on Rails and started working my way through the Getting Started with Rails Guide.

To some extent, I raised my nose towards the guide that suggested the best experience was on non-Windows operating systems. Not because I did not have a Linux Virtual Machine available, but simply because it was a little more portable between my home server (Windows Server 2008), my home Desktop (Windows Vista Ultimate) and my work laptop (Windows XP). I proceeded down the installation path.

First I installed Ruby Language -- version 1.8.6, release 26. No issues there.

Then I installed the RubyGems Packaging system. No issues there.

Then I installed MySQL 64-bit (x64). And that's where the problem began.

Because I am running the 64-bit version of the Windows Server 2008 operating system, it made sense to me to install the 64-bit version of MySQL. I downloaded it and proceed with the installation of both the Server and the MySQL Administrator. I verified that I had database connectivity.

I then proceeded with the Ruby on Rails getting started guide.

I installed rails.

Then I tried to start interacting with the MySQL database, starting the Web Server and then getting the Application Home Page setup properly. Finally, when I was ready to access the blogs application, I hit an error message.

libmysql.dll was not found ruby.exe

And I could not figure it out. One Google post recommended copying the libmysql.dll from the MySQL bin location to the Ruby bin location, but that did not solve my problem. Then I saw a note about reinstalling the MySQL connectivity in Ruby / Rails. When viewing the MySQL gems installation package I recognized that "32" for 32-bit (x86) was in the file name.

That made it click. I had installed the 64-bit version of MySQL, but Ruby's support for MySQL was only with a 32-bit driver. Ugh. Would have been nice to reference that in the getting started guide, but I persevered.

I uninstalled the 64-bit version of MySQL, rebooted, downloaded, and installed the 32-bit version of MySQL. Great news, I was able to establish connectivity to the Ruby on Rails Blog sample site.

Now it was time to shift my attention a little, back to the application development. I had established that I could deploy / run an already created Ruby on Rails application -- now I needed to build one.

To start, I realized that I needed to thing about the application that I wanted to build in 4 stages. They were:

1. Acquire the data I was interested in.
2. Parse and save that data to a database (MySQL)
3. Display that data within an application. (Ruby on Rails)
4. Integrate that application with Facebook.

Easy enough, right?

So, I set off on a two hour (don't laugh) journey to *learn* Ruby and build a script that could display the data I was interested in. After a couple of hours and trying several GEM packages (which I'll discuss in a later article), I hit a wall.

No matter what the script was, or the sample code I used, I kept getting the same error:
Invalid char `\222' in expression

I tried a number of fixes and searched Google, but I could not get the Ruby scripts to run properly. After about 30 minutes of this, I decided to put it down for the evening.

However, tonight -- I was able to get some basic scripts to run. What did I do to fix the "Invalid char `\222' in expression" error? In Windows Server 2008, I change the single quotes in the sample script code I was using to double quotes.

Could it really be that simple?

The jury is out on that -- now that I have the code running correctly 24-hours later, if I change the double quotes back to single quotes -- I cannot reproduce the error. That being said, I am glad the error is gone. :-) Has anyone else encountered the Invalid char errors?

That's it for now for the Facebook application development using Ruby on Rails. I'll update soon on how step 1 is coming along.

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Blackberry: Dial by Letter Shortcuts for your Phone

Credit for this post goes to one of my colleagues at work -- here's how it came about...

While I was attending a meeting today at work, a colleague passed by me and mentioned he had a Blackberry tip for me. Anytime I hear Blackberry tip, I am all ears -- and when I asked whether I thought this tip was post worthy -- I responded definitely.

In fact, this solves an important problem I have had with my Blackberry for sometime...

Ever see a number you want to dial but the number has letters in it such as 1-800-HHONORS? In my case, this has happened more than I like and I have generally struggled through my mind that 2-ABC, 3-DEF, 4-GHI, 5-JKL, 6-MNO, 7-PQRS, 8-TUV, 9-WXYZ -- getting it wrong a couple of times.


Because the Blackberry does not have the translation available on the keypad to read and just simply typing the letters on the Blackberry does not yield anything valuable.

At least on the surface...

There is a solution that will work for you! If you need to dial letters in addition to numbers with dialing, just hit ALT+Letter to dial the correct number. For example, with 1-800-HHONORS, you would dial 1 - 8 - 0 - 0 - ALT+H - ALT+H - ALT+0 - ALT+N - ALT+O - ALT+R - ALT+S and you will dial the correct number which is 1-800-446-6677 and reach the Hilton HHonors number.

This will work for any letter combination. Enjoy!

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Monday, December 08, 2008

BMW M3: Service Update, Replacement Battery

By the time I arrived at the dealership on Thursday morning, I was not in a good mood to meet the service team to work on my e90 BMW M3. I had just been stood up by BMW Roadside Assistance, and I had confirmed that I was supposed to have my transmission service on my 1200 mile service the previous week.

As I pulled into the dealership, I started with the greeter that put my time placard and my paperwork on my car. I then pulled into the service bay and stepped out of my car. After a minute, my service advisor came out and knew I was not too happy.

To start with, I was least critical about the electrical / starter issue. While it was the most serious problem, I figured that with my luck -- I had left something on and it was my fault. The advisor looked into the car and the messages showed as "Increased Battery Discharge", never a good sign. We then discussed that it was possibly a bad battery with my positioning being it seems awfully coincidental that the battery problem started happening right with my 1200 miles. Still, I maintained that even though it was suspicious -- I would reserve judgement.

We then spoke about the 1200 mile service and the omission of the transmission fluid change, which I was pretty livid about. Without the problem with the electrical system, I could have driven the car another 10,000 miles with the drive-in fluid in the transmission. That could have done some serious damage. Luckily, I was only at 1220 or so miles -- while I appreciated the fact the advisor apologize and mentioned it was embarrassing when the customer knows more about the servicing of the car than the dealership, I still had a question. How was I to know if they knew how to service the e90 BMW M3 with a manual transmission? We discussed briefly and I was a little appeased.

One nice thing is that I was given a loaner car -- even though they were technically out of them for the day. At least I knew they understood the seriousness of the situation. I was prepared that I could be without my car for 2-3 days while the car was worked on and I left to head into work.

On the positive side, I received a call at 12:30pm -- that the car was ready. The transmission had been properly serviced and they replaced the battery on the vehicle. Seems odd that a car would have a bad battery from the factory -- but I guess it can happen. I went to pick up the car, here is the detail from the invoice:

1239 verified complaint, vehicle had to be jump-started, ran short test and found multiple battery voltages too low, DME-2793 Power Management, KOM BI-A559 Supply was switched off term. 30G. Followed test plan B6131_70112 and found shot off of term. 30G due to start capability limit. Performed a battery test and batter failed due to a bad cell warranty code B9N1G-2TNGH, Test Plan diagcode:D6121_00 ENDIAG_70_902. Removed / replaced batter, register battery and quick delete fault memory

And that was apparently it. The car would not start because of a bad battery. Definitely unexpected given the car was 4 weeks old, but I was glad that was the case.

The big question was for me, that after 5 hours of sitting at work -- would it start -- and it did. Here were are 4 days later and the car is still starting as expected, meaning I am satisfied for now that the problem is fixed. Hopefully we won't have a repeat 4 weeks from now!

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Blackberry: How to Remove Multiple Calendars in v4.5

Last weekend, I was finally able to upgrade my Blackberry 8800 to the latest and greatest version of the Blackberry device OS, v4.5 (click here to see how) from RIM. While AT&T still does not completely support this version, it has made a big difference for me.

Most of the problems that I was having with my previous version of the operating system have pretty much gone away for me. No more sluggish behavior, no more locking, no more resetting due to the GPS freezing, the list goes on and on. Also, with the new fonts and HTML based email -- the overall experience was greatly improved.

However, I ran into one problem I had not seen before.

When I went to the "view" my calendars on my device, I noticed that there were now 4 of them listed and displayed on the screen, in their corresponding set colors. This may be nice for some applications, but in my case, the exact same schedule was repeated over and over again in each one. What made it a little more painful is that each time I hit the the calendar application, I received the "Organizing Calendar" screen, pausing the application for 5-10 seconds while it organized the duplicate calendars.

There appeared to be an easy work-around for the issue, if you click on your menu key and go to the Select Calendar option, I has several options:

1. Show All Calendars
2. Desktop
3. Device Default
4. etc.
Rather than showing All Calendars, I selected Desktop and the problem went away. However, on several occassions I noticed (perhaps as a result of connectivity to an Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES)) that it would revert to the All Calendars option. I needed to find a different way.

After some research I learned that with the new version of the device OS (v4.5), there are new service books that are sent down for every email or service that you setup. Since I had setup multiple email addresses to come to my Blackberry -- it meant that I had a Calendar service book for every single one of them. Now the trick was to remove the ones I did not want in order to get the Calendar squared away.

Here's what I did.
1. I browsed to Options --> Advanced Options --> Applications --> Service Book
2. Since the CICAL entries are the calendar entries, I found the entry that looked like [CICAL]
3. I made sure that was one of the Calendar service books I wanted to delete.
4. I hit the menu key and selected delete.
5. I confirmed the service book entry was removed from the device.
6. I confirmed that the calendar for the service book was deleted from my calendar along with all of the associated entries.
7. I repeated the process for all the other calendars I no longer wanted.
And like that, I was back down to a single calendar from the Blackberry Enterprise Server -- the main calendar I wanted. The good news is that if in the future if I want the other calendars, all I need to do is long into the AT&T Blackberry Web Client and re-send all the service books.

If you need to get rid of multiple calendars on your Blackberry, this should do it for you. If it worked, let me know with a comment!

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

MPT v5: 5.13B Update Support New Phones

For all of you with Motorola Phone Tools, Avanquest has released the latest update to their MPT v5 software. The upgrade is version 5.13b, which is a 11.34MB download according to the message, but a 11.70MB download in the download manager. This latest upgrade is to the 5.10a version that was released a couple of months ago.

This article is a part of the complete guide to Motorola Phones, Modding, Software, and Troubleshooting guide. For additionl articles on Motorola Phone tools and other tips, please click here.

As usual, there are not release notes with this version of Motorola Phone Tools, so we're left to guess at what the enhancements really mean. What I can tell from a search of Google, that it appears the biggest changes are in the phones that are supported, with the biggest one being the Krave ZN4.

A cursory scan of the software does not reveal any new options or menu items that would indicate any new features.

Screen Shot showing the upgrade of Motorola Phone Tools v5 5.10a to 5.13b in Avanquest Software

If you do not own a copy of Motorola's Phone Tools -- you can order it for a cheap as $2 (MPT V4 upgrades to V5) through Amazon (link here) -- or buy the full MPT V5 for less than $15 (link here).

Here is the list of phones supported by detection in version 5.13b:
A1200 Edge Bluetooth
A1200 Edge
A1200 Refresh Bluetooth
A1200 Refresh
A1200e America BT
A780 BT
A780+ BT
A860 GSM
c363 Asia
CDMA Generic
E1 iTunes
E680 BT
E680g BT
E680i BT
E690 BT
E790 iTunes
EM325 Thai
GSM generic
L7 i-mode
L7c-SLVR Sprint
L7e Sibley
L7i Sibley
Ming BT
Ming Edge Bluetooth
Ming Edge
Ming Refresh
Motorola - DC600
MOTOZ9 Ornand
MS 600
RAZRmaxxV3i-mode DST
RazrV3xx DST
RazrV3xxi DST
RazrV3xxv DST
RazrV6 DST
RazrV6v DST
RazrV6vb DST
RazrV6vc DST
ROKR E1 iTunes
TDMA Generic
U6c Asia
V1050 BT
V1100 DST
V262 BT
V265m BT
V266 BT
v320 Asia
V3C Asia
V3c Rev2
V3i iTunes
V3i Screen3
V3m Refresh
V6maxx DST
V750 Telus
V8 2GB
V975 BT
V980 BT
VE20 Sprint
W385 refresh
ZN200 Thai

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Friday, December 05, 2008

Fixed! Green Line on 1080i with Verizon FiOS IMG

It only took Verizon FiOS a year, but they finally fixed it. As I reported back in November, 2007 -- there was a bug in the Verizon FiOS HD DVR (Motorola QUIP6416-2 HD/DVR) software that caused a green line to appear on the right hand of the screen when running in the 1080i resolution mode.

The only way to "fix" it without manipulating your screen was to change the resolution to 720p from 1080i -- hard to have a high definition picture without at least 1080i. Then initial word I received from Verizon was that it would happen in whatever the next release of IMG (Interactive Media Guide) that Verizon launched. However, release after release the problem was never fixed.

Recently, for Southern California the channel lineup changed back in November and apparently unannouced, there were a number of changes. These changes (thanks to the comment of an Anonymous comment) included a fix to the IMG system that corrected the green line problem for LCD and Plasma televisions!

If you are running Verizon FiOS TV, then I recommend adjusting your settings ASAP and start enjoying the 1080i picture without the annoying green line. Thanks Verizon, I thought this day would never come!

For any of those interested in the details of the upgrade, here they are:
Release 1.6.0
Build 06.89
Data Object Version Number 06.89

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

BMW Roadside Assistance: A Disaster

When I called to schedule a BMW Roadside Assistance tow to my dealership for my car earlier this week, I overlooked a couple of glitches in the process. Specifically, the experience was less than optimal, and a couple of levels below the experience I generally have had with AAA in the past. But after this morning, it's important to tell the whole story -- as I am not sure I will be using the "free" BMW Roadside Assistance again.

It seems a safer bet to stick with a dependable service like AAA - the Automobile Club of Southern California.

Here's why...

Last weekend when I called to schedule a tow due to the issue with my car, the process was very slow. The main reason, is that the agent struggled to pull up my information -- in fact we were disconnected once and then the agent had to call me back another time after experiencing a "computer" problem. But in the end, it was not an emergency for me and the appointment was made -- so I could overlook the delay and inconvenience.

Today however, is a different story. The way it works with BMW's Roadside Assistance is that when you schedule something like a tow to the dealership is that they are supposed to call you two hours before your appointment to confirm. This morning, my tow was scheduled for 8:00am which meant I was supposed to receive a call at 6:00am to confirm the appointment. 6:05am came and went, then 6:15am, then 6:25am, all without a call -- so I placed a call to the BMW Roadside Assistance at 6:30am to make sure the service vehicle would be here.

After getting to an agent and looking up my information, I was told that my another agent was confirming my appointment. That agent would be giving me a call back shortly with all the details.

6:45am came and went. 7:00am, 7:15am, and then at 7:25am -- I had it -- I placed another call to BMW Roadside Assistance and after waiting on hold for 5 minutes I finally reached an agent. Then all of a sudden that agent mentioned there was no record of my scheduled tow -- whatsoever -- but that they would work to schedule it immediately. Unsure how that happened, I mentioned the previous calls and still no record could be found. The agent reached out to someone who was scheduling it and they immediately called me on my other line.

I hung up and switched over. I was not sure what happened, but miraculously the agent had my cross-street and told me that a tow would be there before 9:00am. I mentioned that was unacceptable, I had scheduled this service 4 days earlier. Still the agent was able to do nothing since apparently Van Nuys Towing, the actual service provider was backed up and they had just received this order. I canceled the scheduled service and just jumped-started the car to take it to the dealership.

It has been a really bad week for BMW in my mind and at this point, I cannot say with any certainty that I will use BMW's Roadside Assistance -- it seems that AAA is way more reliable.

Hopefully my experience at the dealership will be much better today, we'll see...

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Monday, December 01, 2008

BMW M3: Needs a Jump Start

Ashley and I were waiting for the valet at the Hilton Hotel on Saturday to drive back home after a couple of awesome days with family at Disneyland. And we were waiting. And waiting. And waiting. Pretty soon I began to think -- there goes the valet's tip, this is taking way to long.

Then a valet approached me and said -- do you have the new black BMW M3? I said yep, that's me. He said it won't start. I thought, you have to be kidding me. The car is only three weeks old and just had the 1200 mile service performed on Wednesday, what was going on.

My immediate thoughts then turned that the valet from when we arrived on Wednesday night MUST have left something on to discharge the battery or that valet did not know how to start it. However, while walking the valet mentioned he had the legendary 1988 E30 BMW M3 and said how much like my new E90 M3 sedan. I then pretty much know it was more than someone not knowing how to start it.

Just for kicks, I sat in the car and tried to start it up. With the key on, the system turned on and I pushed the starter button. The car clicked, but would not turn over. The valet mentioned they had a portable jumping system that they brought over. We hooked it up under the hood and it still would not start. I called AAA (did not have the BMW Roadside Assistance number handy although later I found a sticker with the phone number on the windshield) and they were there in 10 minutes. After letting the battery charge for 3 minutes, it then turned over and started up.

As I pulled away from the Hilton Hotel in Anaheim, I assumed that the battery had somehow gotten too low. After a 90 minute drive home, I figured everything would be fine. But, two and a half hours after we arrived home -- the car would not start again. Perhaps this was really something wrong with the vehicle -- how likely was I to have a bad battery after just 3 weeks. It also seemed to fit quite coincidentally with service I just had performed.

I called the dealership and mentioned the problem, for which they told me to have BMW Roadside Assistance bring it. Still not convinced that my transmission fluid should not be changed, I also asked them to check on that again since my car was a 6MT (manual transmission) vs. the DCT (double clutch transmission). I knew the DCT did not have the transmission serviced at 1200, but I was pretty positive the 6MT needed the service.

Let's just say I was not too happy when I got off the phone with the dealership. I was leaving on a business trip and would not be able to get the car in until Thursday. Fortunately, the Audi A4 was still sitting in the garage as an alternate form of transportation to the airport.

I called BMW Roadside Assistance and scheduled a tow for 8:00am on Thursday morning to get my car to the dealership. After a fantastic first three weeks with the car, I was suddenly very annoyed given the problem with the vehicle and possibly a major service item being missed on the vehicle at a critical time. However, I decided to reserve judgment until Thursday when I take the car in. An update to follow, certainly.

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