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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Fixed! Firefox can't find the server at www.msnbc.msn.com

Ever since I upgrade to Firefox 3.0 on my Mac Mini (actually running 3.5.5) -- I have not been able to access the MSNBC website. And seemingly of all the sites I normally visit, this was the only one that I could not visit. Anytime I tried to go to the website, I would get the following error message:

Firefox can't find the server at www.msnbc.msn.com


It did not matter if I typed in msnbc.com, www.msnbc.com, msnbc.msn.com, or www.msnbc.msn.com. I still received the same error message:

Firefox can't find the server at www.msnbc.msn.com


I had previously searched Google with no luck, but came across an interesting post that seemed to indicate some possibilities with the HTTP protocol version in the setting for my FireFox browser. However, both of mine were set to version 1.1.

So that was not my problem, which caused me to look a little deeper. After some research, I found that not only did the page render correctly in the Apple Safari browser, but others were reporting the same issue between Firefox, and Internet Explorer -- whether they were using Windows XP, Windows Vista, or even the new Windows 7.

And, I should say, that the first order of business regardless should be to check your proxy settings under the network settings. You can do this by going to Firefox --> Preferences on your Mac, then choose the advance tab, then click on settings and make sure that "no proxy" settings unless you are positive you do not need it.

If that does not solve your issue, then the solution I found in for this guide -- should get it working for you. It did fix the problem for me -- and I will include the HTTP protocol how to in this guide so that it should cover the problem for you end to end, no matter which is the cause of your issue.

Here we go:

1. Go to the browser URL entry and enter (without quotes) "about:config" and hit enter.

2. You will be prompted with a message suggesting that it might void your warranty with some additional warning disclaimers about how the advanced settings can be harmful to the stability, security, and performance for the Firefox application. You can choose to uncheck the checkbox if you like, then click on the button that says "I'll be careful, I promise".

Firefox can't find the server at www.msnbc.msn.com accessing the about:config settings for the advanced Firefox configuration
3. Now in the filter box, enter the text "network.http" without the quotes to filter down all the settings so that you will not need to scroll.

4. Now that you have filtered the results, this where you will need to do the verification and possibly make some changes.

5. Please verify that both the network.http.version and the network.http.proxy.version are set to 1.1 and not 1.0. If you need to change both of these, double click on the line and you will get a dialog box asking you to enter the value "1.1". As you can see in the picture below, both of mine were set to 1.1 by default.

6. Now we are going to look at both the network.http.pipelining and the network.http.proxy.pipelining settings. In my case, both of were set to the default setting of false. For each of these I double-clicked on the configuration line and they were changed to true from false with a status of "user set" instead of default that remains bolded in the configuration screen. Look at the image below to see the exact settings that I have on my Firefox 3 browser.

Firefox can't find the server at www.msnbc.msn.com fixed by changing FireFox configuration settings for http network version and pipelining
7. Once you complete the changes and verify your settings, exit the Firefox browser to complete the changes. Open up the browser and type in www.msnbc.com; which should successfully take you to the MSNBC page.

Congratulations, you now have a fully working browser where you can browse to the MSNBC website without getting the message:
Firefox can't find the server at www.msnbc.msn.com


Did this fix work for you? If so, please post a comment to let me and others know -- including if you experienced this problem with another URL other than MSNBC. There are rumors that other URLs including www.microsoft.com can be subject to the configuration issue. Best of luck!

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

How To: See Sunrise at Haleakala National Park Volcano on Maui and Other Tours

So you want to visit Haleakala National Park to see the sunrise at the famed volcanic crater?

We wanted to. It's listed in the book, 1,000 Places to See Before You Die -- and also well known as one of "the things" to do on the Island of Maui in addition to the road to Hana.

However, you may have been scared off by the rumored 3:00 AM wake-up time to make it to the summit in time for that perfect moment. Let's just start by saying that during many times of the year, you DO NOT need to get up quite that early.

This post will take you through some basic "how to" in order to guide you on your journey and separate a lot of the fact from fiction that we encountered on our tour. Furthermore, we'll take you up close and personal on our recent visit to Haleakala including our Pony Express Crater horseback ride that we took just a couple of weeks ago while on vacation in Maui, Hawaii.

Sunrise and Tours at Haleakala Volcano Crater: Capturing Sunrise

Let's talk about planning for the trip.

In our case, since we were coming from California on our vacation to Maui, Hawaii -- we knew that the very next day on the island would be the best choice for us to make the journey to the summit of the 10,000 foot volcano crater. The reason was that we had a 2 hour time difference, meaning depending on when we woke up, it would not be a huge adjustment for us. For example, waking up at 4:00am would really be like waking up only at 6:00am if we were still in California with the time adjustment.

Once we got to the hotel, we spoke with one of the concierges who recommended we wake up by 3:00am and leave the hotel no later than 3:30am. Looking at the time tables for the sunrise -- it was set to rise at 6:30am the next morning. At first it really sounded crazy that it could take 3 hours to get to the summit -- especially from where we were staying at the Grand Wailea Resort in Wailea, Maui. We were planning to drive ourselves, but alternatively there are tours that will pick you up at your hotel (earlier than you would have to leave yourself) but leaves the driving to them.

After consulting Google Maps and identifying that the drive was only 51.3 miles and that Google Maps showed only 1 hour and 47 minutes to get there -- we decided that getting up at 3:00am was way too early. We decided to wake up at 4:00am, planning on about a 2 hour drive to the summit for a sunrise watch.


View Larger Map

And goodness, were we right. The next morning we woke up at 4:00am, headed out from the hotel at 4:20am and arrived at the summit at approximately at 5:50am -- only an hour and a half to make it to the summit. Now, I used a GPS in order to make sure to not make any wrong turns. But, since Ashley commonly gets very motion sick -- we took it very easy on the way up in terms of driving to the summit.

For us, getting there about a half an hour before the official sunrise was perfect, which I will describe a little more, but first a detailed recommendation about getting there if you drive.

When to leave:
The first thing to realize that the sunrise time changes fairly dramatically during the year, so in the summer time you may need to leave at 3:00AM. However, in the Winter time you can get away with much later times. What I would recommend is finding out what time the sunrise will be that morning and then taking two hours and fifteen minutes earlier as the time you should leave. For us, since the sunrise was at 6:30am, leaving at around 4:15am using the rule of thumb would get you there about 45 minutes before sunrise -- able to see some of the pre-sunrise lighting. This is an approximate time if you're leaving from Wailea, Maui. If you're leaving from Lahaina, Kaanapali, or Kapalua -- you'll need to add 15-30 minutes to the time.

Getting There:
The first thing to remember when you go is that it will be VERY COLD compared to the rest of the Island, often a 40-degree Fahrenheit temperature difference. You should pack at least a heavy sweatshirt and possibly even gloves for the early morning. It likely will be in the 40's, so be prepared -- it even gets colder depending on how windy it is.

The second thing to remember is that no stores will be open on your way there. Not even the Starbucks in Kahului. Pack your own food, breakfast, snacks, water and hopefully a thermos of coffee or hot cocoa for your trip up there. There are no food or general store facilities within the Haleakala National Park, so if you forget, you are really on your own. Also, bring a LED flashlight or headlight as it will be pretty dark when you arrive and you do not want to trip and fall over a volcanic rock which you may choose to walk over. And lastly, don't forget the sunblock. If you do any activities there, it will seem cool -- but given the intensity of the sun in Maui, Hawaii and the altitude of 10,000 feet -- you will burn very quickly if you're not careful!

The last thing is to remember that the Ranger Station at the base of the National Park will not be open. You will need to pull over to the right after you pass the booth and use the automated machine. As of this posting (November, 2009) the cost was $10. While the machine will take $20 bills, just remember the change will be made in $1 coins, so be prepared for heavier pockets if you do not have $5 or $10 bills. The Haleakala National Park pass is good for three days in case you are camping, or want to return. Do not forget, it is not worth getting a ticket from the Park Rangers for failing to register.

Once You're There:
There are two lots once you arrive at the top. A "lower" lot at about 9800 feet or so, and an "upper" lot at 10,000 feet. The lower lot is where the the Ranger Station is at and is a little larger of a lot, and where most people choose to go. If it is full, you can proceed up to the upper lot. While we never made it to the upper lot, there are definitely restrooms at the lower lot that are open.

Once you park, get a few layers on and proceed to the observation point. It can get crowded, but generally there are spaces available against the rail (which we found) if you're there a half hour or more before the sunrise. There you can just hang out and chat with others while you wait for the show to begin. We ended staying outside for about 40-50 to watch the entire sunrise.

Once you're done with a sunrise, there are a ton of other options for you.

What to do After Sunrise at Haleakala Volcano Crater:

First, a note -- weather can change quickly and dramatic at Haleakala. It can go from a sunny 60 degrees to a freezing 40 degrees or lower with lots of rain very quickly. Please make sure you're prepared for the elements.

Horseback Riding
What we chose to do was take a Horseback ride down into the crater. Horses and people on foot are the only ways that you can get down into the actual crater itself. The tour operator that provides the tours are the Pony Express Tours. If you book online (click here) you can save 10% on the price. You can either check in with them on your way up (except Sundays) if you do not want to catch sunrise -- or you can make arrangements like we did to just meet them at the top. It'll be enough time where you can catch a nap in your car between sunrise and the horseback riding if you want. They also provide rain equipment in case of weather changes.

The ride into the crater is approximately a 5 hour tour. A couple hours down the Sliding Sands trail into the crater -- then lunch -- then a couple of hours back up the crater, where at this altitude -- you are extremely thankful for the horse. We had a great time with our guide's nickname "Ra" from the "Sun God" -- and the lunch was excellent once we got down there. The horses were great and calm, and it was a very enjoyable trip for us. 4 hours on a horse can be pretty long if you are not used to it, so plan on having some extra padding or being a little sore at the end of it.

We highly recommend this tour, and made it back to our hotel shortly before 5pm after the 5 hour tour.

Hiking:
The only other way you can get into the crater is by hiking, which a lot of people choose to do -- and you cannot do it on bicycles or mountain bikes. But hiking comes with a strong caution. Please realize that you are at 10,000 feet and if you are not experienced with the altitude -- it will be difficult. "Ra" told us numerous stories of people (both young and old) that they had to pull out. Going down the crater will be much easier than coming back up as you will traverse about 2,000 feet of elevation -- make sure you plan for time accordingly and bring plenty of water so you do not get dehydrated.

Lastly, make sure you check in at the Ranger Station at the lower lot and let them know you'll be out on the crater in case anything happens or there are dramatic weather changes.

Bike Rides:
Bike riding is an extremely popular event at the Haleakala Volcanic Crater on Maui. There are a ton of companies, but first realize that you will not be going down into the actual volcano crater itself. You will be on other approved trails and roads.

There are a ton of companies that provide this type of tour and event. Rather than recommending a couple of them that are the most popular -- I will point you to an independent site where people review the various tours and often give their ages and skill levels so you can decide for yourself. Click here to read more.

Closing:
In all, a trip to the Haleakala National Park to see the sunrise and the crater are a must on your trip to Maui. We had an amazing time and were glad we got up early and made the full day investment.

Here are a few pictures from our Haleakala visit:

Sunrise and Tours at Haleakala Volcano Crater: Capturing SunriseSunrise and Tours at Haleakala Volcano Crater: Capturing Sunrise

Sunrise and Tours at Haleakala Volcano Crater: Looking Out Over the CraterSunrise and Tours at Haleakala Volcano Crater: Looking Out Over the Crater

Sunrise and Tours at Haleakala Volcano Crater: Watching while others take picturesSunrise and Tours at Haleakala Volcano Crater: Watching while others take pictures

Sunrise and Tours at Haleakala Volcano Crater: Posing in front of the Haleakala crater.Sunrise and Tours at Haleakala Volcano Crater: Posing in front of the Haleakala crater.

Sunrise and Tours at Haleakala Volcano Crater: Taking many pictures to get the right ones.Sunrise and Tours at Haleakala Volcano Crater: Taking many pictures to get the right ones.

Sunrise and Tours at Haleakala Volcano Crater: Our horses ready for the Horseback Tour Ride with the Pony Express.Sunrise and Tours at Haleakala Volcano Crater: Our horses ready for the Horseback Tour Ride with the Pony Express.

Sunrise and Tours at Haleakala Volcano Crater: Ashley on her horse Mele or Merry in Hawaiian.Sunrise and Tours at Haleakala Volcano Crater: Ashley on her horse Mele or Merry in Hawaiian.

Sunrise and Tours at Haleakala Volcano Crater: Kenny on his horse Joe.Sunrise and Tours at Haleakala Volcano Crater: Kenny on his horse Joe.

Sunrise and Tours at Haleakala Volcano Crater: Descending to the floor of the crater from 10,000 feet.Sunrise and Tours at Haleakala Volcano Crater: Descending to the floor of the crater from 10,000 feet.

Sunrise and Tours at Haleakala Volcano Crater: Looking out over the landscape (moonscape) over the volcano.Sunrise and Tours at Haleakala Volcano Crater: Looking out over the landscape (moonscape) over the volcano.

Sunrise and Tours at Haleakala Volcano Crater: Posing on our horses before heading back up to the top.Sunrise and Tours at Haleakala Volcano Crater: Posing on our horses before heading back up to the top.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

How To: Install Ubuntu Linux as the Other OS on your Sony Playstation 3 (PS3)

After a very unsuccessful attempt at installing a version of Linux (Ubuntu) as the "Other OS" on my Sony Playstation 3 (PS3), I was forced to reformat and start over. It was painful and frustrating, but forced me to do a little more research (your can read about the experience by clicking here) before making a second try.

What did I learn?

First, the bad news. There is a lot of conflicting information out there about how to get your PlayStation 3 (PS3) loaded with a secondary operating system (known as "Other OS") -- in fact some of the information and links on even the "official" Ubuntu Linux page are bad.

Now for the the great news! Now that I have successfully installed the latest version of Ubuntu Linux with all current patches (was 9.10 as of this posting), I am able to produce (hopefully) a great how-to guide that makes it EASY for anyone to install the Ubuntu Linux Operating System on their Sony Playstation 3.

Before getting started however, there are a couple of things that I would recommend you at least "think about". :-)

1. A hard drive upgrade. Although the Other OS partition on the Sony PS3 only allows for 10GB of space, you may be able to dramatically benefit from a better performing hard drive than what comes built in. For a specific recommendation on the hard drive (as it requires notebook drives) and an easy-to-follow guide, please click here.

2. Before you install the "Other OS" partition on your hard drive, you should first backup your Sony Playstation 3 system, so you can retain all of your users, settings, and game saves. For another easy-to-follow manual on this process, please click here.

After you finish those, there are a couple of things that you will need in other to complete the installation of the upgrade. The first is a must, which is a USB keyboard. You cannot use your PS3 controller better know as the Sony PlayStation SIXAXIS controller to type or as a mouse. Secondarily, you will benefit from having an USB mouse, especially if you choose (which installs by default) to use the GNOME or Ubuntu Linux GUI. Lastly, you should have access to the CD/DVD burner where you can create a ISO image of the Ubuntu Linux Operating system to install you PS3.

Once you have those available, you're ready to get started.

1. Step one is that you should obtain the latest stable build of the Ubuntu Linux operating system with the appropriate distribution for the Sony Playstatioun 3. You can go to this link to get the latest list of versions. As of this posting, 9.04 was the current stable and completed version...which you can automatically upgrade to 9.10 once you have it installed. Simply click here to download the Ubuntu 9.04 version.

2. Burn the ISO image to a CD/DVD. I will not cover the specfic steps on how to burn a CD.

3. Making sure you've backed up your PS3 as described above, it is time to get started by formatting the drive of your Sony PS3 to create the new partition that the Other OS will be installed on. To do this, Go to [System Settings] > [Format Utility]. Then select "Format Hard Disk" and click [Yes]. Next, choose [Custom] and [Allot 10GB to the Other OS] -- unfortunately, it cannot be made any larger. Finally, select [Quick Format] and confirm with [Yes].

3a. Right here I would restore my PlayStation 3 that I backed up earlier by going to System > System Settings > Backup Utility. Here you can restore (mine took 45 minutes) before you move forward. I did run into some odd behavior where the first time it wiped the secondary or Other OS partition, but worked great the second time. :-)

4. Now that your hard drive is prepared for the installation. Go ahead and put the ISO CD image you created into the Sony PlayStation 3 in step 2, making sure first that the keyboard and mouse are connected from there, go to [System Settings] > [Install Other OS]. Select "Other OS" and hit "Yes" to restart the system.

5. The Sony PS3 should reboot and the boot loader for Linux. The steps below are all in order on what the Ubuntu Linux system presents you with. The drivers for both the Ethernet direct connection and the Wireless 802.11 WIFI connection are provided, so you should be able to connect in any case. (I did have some difficulties with the WiFi connection; reverted to wired for the installation and then configured the Wireless from the GNOME GUI after the 9.10 updates were completed.)

Here are the steps in order:

a. First choose a language for the installation process, then your geographical location.

b. The system can try to determine your keyboard or you can choose it from a list.

c. The CD ROM is scanned, and additional components are loaded.

d. If your PS3 is connected to the internet via cable, choose eth0: Ethernet. (unless you are using WEP encryption - wireless networks can be hard to configure from here.)

e. Enter a hostname for the system - like "psubuntu" dashes are allowed, underscores are not.

f. Disks and hardware is dectected. If asked if you want to Activate Serial ATA RAID devices just choose yes, although frankly it's pointless.

g. When asked how to partition the disks, choose option 2: "Guided - use entire disk" (meaning the 10.7GB you formatted from the XMB).

h. On the overview screen, hit "Finish partitioning and write changes to disk". If asked to confirm, choose yes.

i. The partition is formatted and base system installed. It should take about 6 minutes.

j. Set up your user information (full name, username and password twice), and choose whether you would like to create a private encrypted directory for your user.

k. Unless you're using a proxy, leave the HTTP proxy information field blank (just hit enter).

l. The system will start installing software. It might appear to hang at 6%, but just give the installer time and it will move on. The process will take about an hour.

m. System clock - Yes to UTC.

Once it is all finished, the system will load and you will be in the Ubuntu XWindows / Gnome screen. From here, you might noticed you're locked in a pretty unfriendly 576 x 384 screen resolution. It can be very tricky (took me a couple of hours to understand and get it right), so I will be publishing a guide very shortly on how to complete that. Once you do that, you can run the Updates to bring your Sony PS3 system with the Other OS of Ubuntu Linux up to date!

Congratulations, you are now running a full fledged Linux Operating system on your Sony Playstation 3!

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Blackberry: The RIM handheld USB drivers are unable to suspend at this time

It's like a blast from the past with my Blackberry Bold 9000 handheld from RIM. What is it you ask? When I attemtped to close my laptop computer and put it into a "sleep" mode, I got the following messsage:

"The RIM handheld USB drivers are unable to suspend at this time."

The funny thing, it is not 2005 anymore -- when is the last time I can find on Google where anyone experienced this particutlar issue with trying to suspend or put their computer to sleep. Yep, you read that correctly, 2005! Not only that by this wasn't on Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows 2000...it was on a "fairly recent" Windows XP machine. Ok, maybe a little outdated we're two versions behind with Windows 7 being released and Windows Vista before that.

Still, a pretty big surprise.

How and why does it happen?

I am not sure why yet or how to solve the problem, but I can tell you it has happened three times in the past few days. And, I have a pretty good idea on what happened to cause it.

In an effort to improved the terrible performance on the BlackBerry Bold 9000 and the AT&T 3G network, I decided to check and see what updates were available -- both for the Blackberry Desktop Manager and the base handheld software / firmware.

As luck would have it, updates were available for both. The Blackberry Desktop v4.5 software I was running had been updated with version 5.0.1. And the Blackberry Bold Software had an update available to the handheld software. I was most excited about the handheld upgrade to version 4.6 build 297 -- hoping the woeful batter life, random reboots I would experience, and poor 3G coverage would cease.

I went ahead and installed both of the updates and everything seemed fine. Actually, the Blackberry Bold device software has done wonders for my system by upgrading to 4.6 build 297. My service is quite a bit better -- although I am still plagued by a 1/2 mile stretch in Malibu with no signal (how can this been in 2009?). Other than that, the spurious reboots are gone and overall the device seems a lot more stable -- not as stable as an iPhone, but pretty good for a Blackberry.

And then, as mentioned above -- I have started to get the message below when trying to suspend my IBM, err...Lenovo ThinkPad T61:

"The RIM handheld USB drivers are unable to suspend at this time."

How does it happen? Well, in my case the Blackberry is "connected" to the BlackBerry Desktop Manager and Microsoft Outlook / Exchange via a USB cable and not just plugged in. My Lenovo ThinkPad T61 is in the docking station and I go ahead and shut the computer to force it to enter the sleep / suspend mode. However, I get a Windows alert that says:

"The RIM handheld USB drivers are unable to suspend at this time."

With the notebook desktop opened back up, I unplug the Blackberry Bold 9000 from the computer and re-attempt the suspend mode by closing the laptop. The laptop suspends cleanly and goes into the sleep mode.

I did some Google searching and all I could find was a reference to an posting back in 2005 that had to do with USB conflicts. (link here) Given the age of, as well as the description of the issue with Windows 2000, still unanswered -- it clearly does not apply to the situation here.

Has anyone else encountered this error with Blackberry Desktop Software v5.0 or v5.0.1 and have a solution to recommend? If so, please let me know with a comment!

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Monday, November 16, 2009

How To: Upgrade / Replace Your PS3 Hard Drive (Sony PlayStation 3)

So, you want to upgrade the hard drive on your Sony Playstation 3? Maybe to either increase the speed of it or perhaps the capacity?

Or, perhaps the original hard drive on your PS3 crashed or failed and you need to replace it?

Whatever your reason for needing to upgrade or replace the hard drive on your Sony Playstation 3 (PS3), you've come to the right page to find out how you can do it. I recently upgraded my hard drive on my PS3 and this is the experience I went through. My reason is that I wanted to increase capacity as well as speed for downloadable content, multimedia and even the "Other OS" function that you can run Linux on. Overall, this guide should make it really simple for your to upgrade in just a manner of minutes.

Before you get started, there are a few things you need before you can get into the actual project.

And recently I made a video (available in HD of the procedure), here that is:



1. The most important thing to realize about the Sony Playstation 3 hard drive is that it is not a standard 3.5" hard drive. Rather, instead it is a 2.5" hard drive which are generally found in laptops, notebooks, and even the Mac Mini. Another important consideration is that if you are running Ubuntu Linux or another operating system you may want a 7200 rpm drive as it will make a dramatic performance difference. To find the right drive at a great price, click here to see the 2.5" hard drives from Amazon.com.

2. Tools -- you'll need a regular Flathead screwdriver, a standard Phillips screwdriver, and a smaller / precision Phillips screwdriver.

3. Other items: A USB memory stick, as you may need to update the Sony PS3 system.

4. Make a backup of your PS3 system so you can retain all of you settings, memory, and more. A very helpful guide can be found by clicking here.

Once you have those three, you are ready to go ahead and proceed with tutorial. Here is the step-by-step guide on how you can replace / upgrade the hard drive on your Sony PS3.

1. Power down and unplug all the cables from your Sony Playstation 3.

2. Find the side of your PS3 with the sticker labeled "Detach this cover when removing the hard disk". There is a little tab on the right hand side. Place your flat head screwdriver in the slot and slide the plastic piece. It should snap and then pop right out.

Sony PS3 Playstation 3: Find the side of your PS3 with the sticker labeled Detach this conver when removing the hard disk.  There is a little tab on the right hand side.  Place your flat head screwdrived in the slot and slide the plastic piece.  It should snap and then pop right out.

3. With the plastic cover removed, the hard drive tray is exposed. There is only one screw (blue) that is required to remove the hard drive. Take your regular phillips screwdriver and remove the screw.

Sony PS3 Playstation 3: With the plastic cover removed, the hard drive tray is exposed.  There is only one screw (blue) that is required to remove the hard drive.  Take your regular phillips screwdriver and remove the screw.

4. With the screw removed, the tab that the screw holds in will slide out from the PS3. From there slide it out and pull the tab to disconnect and slide out the hard drive.

Sony PS3 Playstation 3: With the screw removed, the tab that the screw holds in will slide out from the PS3.  From there slide it out and pull the tab to disconnect and slide out the hard drive.

5. Now comes the trickiest part. The four screws that hold the hard drive are in fairly tight. If you are not careful or have the right Phillips screwdriver size, you could strip them easily. Make sure to apply a good amount of pressure to the screws when turn and they should loosen more easily. Remove all four screws.

Sony PS3 Playstation 3: Now comes the trickiest part.  The four screws that hold the hard drive are in fairly tight.  If you are not careful or have the right Phillips screwdriver size, you could strip them easily.  Make sure to apply a good amount of pressure to the screws when turn and they should loosen more easily.  Remove all four screws.

6. After you remove the screws, you can easily slide out the hard drive from the tray to make room for your replacement hard drive.

Sony PS3 Playstation 3: After you remove the screws, you can easily slide out the hard drive from the tray to make room for your replacement hard drive.

7. Slide your new hard drive into the tray and reverse the previous steps in order to have your PS3 ready to turn back on.

Sony PS3 Playstation 3: Slide your new hard drive into the tray and reverse the previous steps in order to have your PS3 ready to turn back on.

8. Reconnect your Playstation 3 cables and power on.

9. In many cases, you may immediately receive the message "Update data 2.76 required" or a similar message. Do not panic, it's a fairly easy solution.

10. Take you USB memory stick or other storage media types compatible with your PS3 and format it as FAT32. Create a PS3 folder in the root of the stick. Then under the PS3 folder create an UPDATE folder.

11. Go to the Sony site (link here: http://www.us.playstation.com/Support/SystemUpdates/PS3/pc_update.html) and under Step 2, click on the DOWNLOAD NOW button to get the latest update. Once the update downloads, place it in the --> PS3 --> UPDATE folder.

12. Plug it into your Sony Playstation 3 and the system will automatically install the latest update on your USB or other storage media and update the system to the current version.

13. You're complete now and ready to use the new performance and capacity of your Playstation 3 system. I would recommend an immediate formatting of the new system including a partition for OTHER OS so you can have the maximum flexibility for your Sony PS3 hard drive.

If you have experience with replacing any hardware, you can complete this upgrade in less than 15 minutes. Those with less experience may want to plan on the upgrade / replacement taking about 30 minutes.

Good luck!

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

How To: Fix GNOME blank screen in Ubuntu for PS3 Other OS and other update problems...

After getting Ubuntu linux installed as the "Other OS" on my Sony Playstation 3 with the upgraded hard drive, I wanted to update to the latest supported version of the Ubuntu, which happens to be version 9.10 as of the time of this post. Since the version of Ubuntu I download based on my Google search was much older (you can get 9.04 from this page: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/PlayStation_3), say version 7 -- I had a lot of updates to perform.

In fact, I would first need to jump to version 8 of Ubuntu before I could even get to version 9. A little bit painful to say the least. Still, since the system was going to do the majority of the work for me, I went ahead and browsed to System --> Update Manager and was informed that the update would be to version 8.04. I went ahead and confirmed and started the process.

At first things looked like they were going fine, but at some point I ended up in some sort of error loop between an SSL certificate update and a couple of package installs. In the end, I needed to thumb the PS3 to get any sort of response from the system. I wondered where that was going to leave me...perhaps with a corrupted OS with the partial Ubuntu install?

On boot-up, amazingly everything looked find and I got to the log-in screen for Ubuntu. I was very pleasantly surprised. I went ahead and entered my username and password and they were accepted. Great news...but then the problem started.

After the logon screen went away, I ended up with a blank screen with just the mouse pointer / cursor that would move, but there was no user interface, task bar, or icons to perform any actions. At first I thought I was stuck.

Luckily, Ubuntu / Gnome has a feature that allows you to go directly to the command line by pressing Ctrl+Alt+F1. From there, you just log into the shell with the username and password and you are back in business.

Once I got to the command line, I was able to work through the issue by doing an automatic smart update from the command line. The command to enter to perform the update is:

sudo apt-get update

After all the packages are checked and downloaded, you are instructed to enter the following command to complete the update installation:

sudo dpkg --configure -a

It took about 10 minuts and froze on the cups-pdf package which I hit control+c to quit after 5 minutes of no activity, but the install of the updates worked great.

I then rebooted to try and get the PS3 Ubuntu update to work. After getting to kboot and hitting enter, the following happened:

Loading Kernel with initrd … success
Booting system
_

With the system being frozen and not able to boot. I tried a reboot again, and even a cold reboot -- but neither made a difference. Instead, I needed to type in the command "old" (without quotes) which uses the old kernal to boot.

Once I got back to the GNOME, the same symptoms persisted and I could not seem to get an upgrade to version 8.10. Whether I tried a plethora of commands:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
sudo apt-get install update-manager-core
sudo do-release-upgrade

The reality is that I got stuck in a loop and there was not way out of it, in fact the update manager would not recognize that new versions (9.04 and 9.10) of ubuntu existed. Other than to start over with the 9.04 release. So, to start the process I turned off the PS3, returned to the kboot command line. Where, contrary to some articles out there you're not stuck and locked out of XMB. Rather than holding down the power button for multiple beeps to return to the Sony XMB, all you need to do is type the following command to get back in:

boot-game-os

The lesson here is that you cannot always fix everything. :-) Or, better stated -- it may not be worth the time to continue down a certain path. Given that I was still on an older version of Ubuntu Linux for PS3 -- I figure it was best to start over.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How To: Prepare and Return Playstation 3 (PS3) for System Repair

Having the Blu-Ray player in my Playstation 3 (PS3) die a couple of weeks ago was a big bummer. Not only could I not play games, DVDs, or Blu-Ray movies, but my PS3 was out of warranty meaning that I needed to spend $150 to have it fixed.

Despite the loss of $150, Sony (SCEA - Sony Computer Entertainment America Consumer Services Department) makes it really easy to return your Playstation 3 system to them. About 5 days after placing my order, a pre-packaged box arrived at my door that was ready to have my system packed in.

Empty box my Sony Playstation 3 PS3 went will go into before being sent off for repair

But, before we get too far ahead of ourselves -- there are several steps we need to perform with the PS3 before disconnecting and shipping it. Most importantly, we need to backup the data, then deactivate the user, and then finally delete your local users since once the Playstation 3 is serviced, it will be returned without any of the original data.

Let's start with the backing up of the hard drive. In most cases, you will need an external hard drive (USB) to backup the hard drive. If you do not have one, you can order one pretty cheap from Amazon.com by clicking here.

Once you have your USB 2.0 hard drive for your Playstation 3 (PS3), you need to plug it in, and make sure it is recognized by your PS3. This can be a little tricky to be honest given some of the limitations with what the Sony PS3 will recognize. If you are struggling with this, I posted a how to guide that you can access by clicking here.

Finally, you are ready to perform the backup or take a drive image of your Sony Playstation 3. It entails several steps, that I've documented in a separate guide that you can access by clicking here.

Now that you have finally backed up your Playstation, we're ready to take the next steps.

The next step is to deactivate your Playstation 3 from the PlayStation Network. In order to do this, on the XMB go to the Playstation Network and Sign in by pressing 'X'. Next, scroll to Account Management on the XMB and press 'X'. Then highlight the System Activation icon and press 'X'. Highlight the PS3 System and press 'X'. You'll now receive a pop-up and select the type of content you do not want your system to use. (I started with game and then repeated with video.) Highlight Deactivate System and then press 'X'. An acknowledgement apprears, press 'X' to complete.

It is recommended that you repeat it for video.

Next, it's time to delete all the users. To do this:

On the XMB, go to (Users) and sign in to each user account. With the user name highlighted, press the button. Select "Delete" and press the button. The message "If you delete the user, saved data for the PlayStation 3 format software, messages, and bookmarks will also be deleted. Do you want to continue?" will appear. Highlight "Yes" and press the button. You will receive a confirmation message "Are you sure you want to delete the user?" Highlight "Yes" and press the button. The user will now be deleted. Repeat for all users.

Now we need to format the hard drive. To do this:

Go to (Settings) > (System Settings) and press the button. Highlight [Format Hard Disk] and press the button. The message "Do you want to format the hard disk?" will appear. Highlight "Yes" and press the button. The hard drive will then be formatted.

Now we're ready to pack and ship. The packing and shipping instructions that came in the box were simple and easy to follow.

It takes only 5 minutes to pack and prepare your Sony PS3 for service shipment with the instructions from Sony (SCEA). Make sure to take up the box good!It takes only 5 minutes to pack and prepare your Sony PS3 for service shipment with the instructions from Sony (SCEA). Make sure to take up the box good!

With the Sony Playstation 3 packed and ready to ship, take it to you nearest UPS store to drop it off with the prepaid return label. Hopefully, in just a couple of weeks your PS3 will be serviced, repaired, and as good as new. I can't wait for mine to return!With the Sony Playstation 3 packed and ready to ship, take it to you nearest UPS store to drop it off with the prepaid return label. Hopefully, in just a couple of weeks your PS3 will be serviced, repaired, and as good as new. I can't wait for mine to return!

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Monday, November 09, 2009

How To: Backup Your PS3 Hard Drive (Sony Playstation 3)

Backing up the data and hard drive of your Sony Playstation 3 is pretty important in a number of cases. In the first case, it is always good to have a backup of all your data in case of a hardware or hard drive failure. The second most important case is the case you need to return you PS3 for repair due to a failure -- like of the Blu-Ray player -- since that is what I am doing right now.

So, let's start with the backing up of the hard drive. In most cases, you will need an external hard drive (USB) to backup the drive because the volume of the contents (usually exceeding 10GB) will not easily on something like a USB drive. If you need a USB at a good price, I recommend checking out Amazon.com -- they have a ton of choices and sizes for any budget. Click here for the list USB hard drives from Amazon.

Alternatively, if you are looking to upgrade or replace your hard drive, there is a great article if you click here.

Once you have your hard drive, it is important to get the hard drive connected and recognized by the Playstation 3. This can be tricky given how "picky" Sony's PS3 operating system is. If you need help, click here to see my guide on how to connect a hard drive to your Sony Playstation 3.

Now with an external hard drive attached to your Sony Playstation 3, you're just about ready to back up the drive. But, before getting started, there are a couple of things that you need to be aware of:

Please note that the following copy-protected content will not be transferable:

Digital Right Management (DRM)
PlayStation format software game data
PlayStation 2 format software game data
PlayStation 3 format software Game Save Data flagged as unexportable

Please note that content purchased from the PlayStation Store can be redownloaded from the PlayStation Network download list and does not need to be backed up.

The good news with trophy data however. Trophy data is saved onto your PlayStation Network account and will be accessible regardless of the content on the hard drive.


Now that we're aware of how this might impact your backup, I would recommend storing any save data from the Playstation or Playstation 2 games on an memory stick or a memory card that you may be using with an USB adapter.

Here's how you backup the hard drive for your Sony Playstation 3:

1. Go to (Settings) --> (System Settings) and press the X button.

How to Backup the Hard Drive on your Sony Playstation 3: Go to  (Settings)  (System Settings) and press the X button.

2. Go to [Backup Utility] and press the X button.

How to Backup the Hard Drive on your Sony Playstation 3: Go to [Backup Utility] and press the X button.

3. You will be given three options: Back Up (Back-up all data from your PlayStation 3 hard disk drive to the external USB drive.), Restore (Use a back-up that was made to an external storage to restore data to the PlayStation 3 hard disk drive.), Delete Backup Data (Erase backup data).

How to Backup the Hard Drive on your Sony Playstation 3: You will be given three options: Back Up (Back-up all data from your PlayStation 3 hard disk drive to the external USB drive.), Restore (Use a back-up that was made to an external storage to restore data to the PlayStation 3 hard disk drive.), Delete Backup Data (Erase backup data).

4. Select the Back Up option and press the X button to start the backup process. Depending on the amount of data, games, saves, and other media it could take up to one hour. The process will inform you of the progress and the approximate time left.

Congratulations, you have successfully backed up the hard drive on your Sony Playstation 3!

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Sunday, November 08, 2009

Outlook 2007 Multiple Time Zones Offset Incorrect with DST

As luck would have it, I would be traveling to the East Coast this past week. And I commonly use the "multiple time zones" feature in Microsoft Outlook 2007 -- to keep track of appointment times in the time zone I generally find myself in, Pacific Time (PST). My second time zone either is commonly India Standard Time (IST) for the teams I am commonly working with.

Sometimes, however -- I do shift the timing to the East Coast for the Eastern Time (EST) zone. Especially when I was preparing to head on the above mention trip, that way I can plan my meetings on both the West Coast and East Coast at the right times and easily see everything together on the same Weekly Calendar view inside Microsoft Outlook. (regardless if it is Outlook 2000, Outlook XP, Outlook 2003, or Outlook 2007)

However, after booking a bunch of meetings, I started noticing a problem. The people that I was planning meeting with on the East Coast were mentioning to me that my meetings were for an hour later than I thought they were. I quickly looked at the calendar and it appeared to be at the right time, at least according the what the multiple time zone view told me.

But, when I looked closer...and interesting problem was revealed.

Timezone offset for multiple time zone view in Microsoft Outlook 2000, XP, 2003, 2007 off for DST

For some reason, the time offset in the Weekly View in the Outlook calendar was showing only a two hour difference between Pacific Time and Eastern Time. Which we all know should be three hours total. Oddly enough the problem didn't appear for either Central Time (CST) or Mountain Standard Time (MST).

Knowing the recent time change happened to Daylight Savings Time (DST), I assumed it was just Daylight Savings Time bug that I could use a tool (like this one). However, the problem I experienced did not directly apply.

What it appears I have discovered is nn existing, unfixed bug in the way Microsoft handles daylight savings with the multiple calendars specifically for the Eastern Time Zone (EST) when used as the secondary time zone. And it only occurs for one week (November 1st-7th in 2009) in with daylight savings and then return to standard time. Oddly, for the week of March 14th-20th in 2010 when we go to Daylight Savings time there is actually a four hour gap. This seems to to occur every year for the same week, with the November 7th-13th, 2010 experiencing the same problem.

While it is unknown whether Microsoft plans to fix the issue in Outlook 2007, we do know that it will occur, rather predictably moving forward. So, if you use multiple calendars and the Eastern Time Zone is your secondary one -- you can consistently expect the behavior the week after Daylight Savings occurs. If we cannot prevent it, at least we can manage it knowing what to expect.

Let's just hope I don't travel to the East Coast in March, 2010...since I'll likely forget about the problem until I start booking meetings at the wrong time.

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Saturday, November 07, 2009

Windows 7: Transfer iTunes Library and Settings from Windows XP and Vista

Today was a big day for my Dell computer. Because, I installed iTunes and transferred (moved) my entire music library over to it. This was important because I am retiring my old computer and needed to get my beloved iPod hooked up!

The first piece of amazement for me was that Apple does not provide any tools through the iTunes software or via their website to transfer all of your settings from one machine to another. This can be annoying to setup all of the tabs and keep track of your music library! So, after a little Google searching, I came across Aleksandar Vacić's blog for which he provides a solution:

1. Copy C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\Application Data\Apple Computer\iTunes\ into the identical folder in new install.
2. Copy C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\Local Settings\Application Data\Apple Computer\iTunes\ into the identical folder in new install
3. Copy entire contents of old C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\My Documents\My Music\iTunes\ into the identical folder in new install
However, this does not work for transferring or moving iTunes settings on Microsoft Windows 7 from Microsoft Windows XP (although it does work for Windows Vista to Windows 7). The reason being, is that Microsoft in Windows Vista and Windows 7 they remapped the folders so they do not line up exactly. So, an updated version of Aleksandar's checklist would be:

1. Copy the folder C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\Application Data\Apple Computer\iTunes\ to the folder C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\iTunes\

2. Copy C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\Local Settings\Application Data\Apple Computer\iTunes\ to the folder C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Local\Apple Computer\iTunes

3. Copy entire contents of old C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\My Documents\My Music\iTunes\ to the folder C:\Users\USERNAME\Music\iTunes

Then start up your iTunes and you will have been successful in the move or transfer of your settings and library to your new Microsoft Windows Vista PC.

Did this solution work for you? If so, please let me know with a comment!

Also, if you are interested in what the mappings of all the old folders in Windows XP were versus what they are in Windows 7.















































Microsoft Windows XPMicrosoft Windows Vista
Application Data AppData\Roaming
Cookies \AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Cookies
Local Settings \AppData\Local
My Documents \Documents
NetHood \AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Network Shortcuts
PrintHood \AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Printer Shortcuts
Recent \AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Recent
SendTo \AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\SendTo
Start Menu \AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu
Templates \AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Templates


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Friday, November 06, 2009

Fixed! Nintendo Wii Game freezes frequently at specific location

This can be the most frustrating problem for us when we are playing games on our Nintendo Wii. That being said, occasional lockups with video games can happen from time-to-time and do not necessarily indicate a need for repair or replacement of your Nintendo Wii gaming system. If you are experiencing frequent lockups, or a particular game always locks up in the same area, please see the information below – as it could be a larger problem..

Most importantly, please make sure you are using only licensed accessories. Unlicensed products and accessories do not undergo Nintendo's testing and evaluation process. They may not work at all with our game systems, and they may have compatibility problems with certain games or accessories. This could be the cause of erratic or unexpected behaviors, including game lockups.

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.


If a game freezes while playing, usually power, reset, and eject buttons will not respond to the problem. Try unplugging the AC Adapter from the back of the console, then check the air vents to make sure they're not being blocked, causing the erratic behavior.

If you are still experiencing this issue, what to do will depend on how many games this issue is occurring with. How many games are you having this issue with "freezing"?

If this happens with just one particular game
1. Check out Nintento's list of specific games to see if there is a known issue with that particular title.

2. Check the bottom of the Game Disc (the side without any labels or writing) for any dirt or damage (such as cracks, scratches, etc.).

o If the game looks significantly damaged, such as with scratches or cracks, it will need to be replaced. Please click here for Nintendo's Game Disc replacement options.
o If the game looks dirty (fingerprints, smudges), try cleaning the Game Disc by using my cleaning guide by clicking here. If the problem persists, the Game Disc will need to be replaced. Please click here for Nintendo's Game Disc replacement options.

If after trying the above information you are still experiencing lockups with and you only have one only game disc, please click here for game disc replacement information.


* If more than one game experiences freeze at specific locations during game-play:
1. Try cleaning a few of the game discs using our recommended method and re-test to see if the situation has improved.

If after trying the above information you are still experiencing lockups with multiple games, please call 1-800-255-3700 for assistance.

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Sunday, November 01, 2009

How To: Clean Nintendo Wii Game Disc

Is your Wii game disc or DVD not playing correctly?

Has the game disc been sitting out for an extended period of time collecting dust?

Is it freezing or experiencing other erratic behavior?

If the answer to the any of the above is yes, then this is the post for you where you will be walked through Nintendo's official game clean instructions.

Fingerprints, smudges, and other foreign material can interfere with a game disc being properly read by the Wii console. Please use the information on this page to properly clean a dirty Game Disc.

Before getting started, it is recommended that you get the Nintendo Wii Lens Cleaning kit. It's only $9.99, and you get get it from Amazon.com by clicking here to help keep your Nintendo Wii lens free of dirt and debris.

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.



With the cleaning kit, it makes the process much easier and we are ready to get started. As an important note, please remember:

* Use only: straight strokes when wiping the disc (do not use a circular motion).
* Use only: a clean, soft, cotton cloth (do not use paper towels, facial tissue, etc.).
* Use only: water (do not use soap or any other cleaning solution).

* Do NOT use: solvents such as: benzine, window cleaner, paint thinner, anti-static aerosol spray or abrasive cleaners.
* Do NOT use: machines designed to clean discs or remove scratches. These types of devices could damage the surface of the disc.


Here's how you can properly cleaning a game disc:

1. Dampen a portion of a clean, soft, cotton cloth, using only plain water lightly. Do not over saturate or soak the cloth.

2. With the damp part of the cloth, use straight strokes and wipe the bottom of the disc (non-labeled side) from the inside rim to the outside rim. Do not wipe in circular motion. Please see image below for proper cleaning technique.

How to clean a game disc for the nintendo wii.  With the damp part of the cloth, use straight strokes and wipe the bottom of the disc (non-labeled side) from the inside rim to the outside rim.  Do not wipe in circular motion.  Please see image below for proper cleaning technique.

3. Using a dry part of the cloth, use straight strokes and wipe from the inside rim to the outside rim. Repeat if necessary.

4. After all of the water has been removed, let the disc sit for at least two minutes to completely dry before inserting it into the Wii console. Do not use a hairdryer, heatgun, or any other heating device to accelerate the drying.

5. Try to play the game to see if the problem has been resolved.

If the problem has been resolved, be sure to properly take care of your game discs by storing them in their plastic cases in order to help prevent your discs from becoming dirty or scratched. Storing games in cases other than the ones they came in, or storing them outside their cases, may damage the disc. Do not leave them sitting out for extended periods of time.

If the same problem continues, the cause is likely damage to the disc. Use the disc replacement policy to determine how to get your game replaced.

If the game never worked or you are discovering errors in areas you have entered for the first time, it is possible that the problem could be with the system or the disc. (The system may still be the problem even if the disc shows some signs of damage.) Please call 1-800-255-3700 to discuss possible repair options.

As I mentioned earlier, if you are occasionally experiencing disc read errors, you may want to consider purchasing the Wii Lens Cleaner. Using the licensed Wii Lens Cleaner can help keep your Wii's lens clean from foreign material, which may help prevent these errors from worsening over time. For more information on this product, click here.

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