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Monday, December 13, 2010

Blogger Blog Disappeared for 14 hours Today

I had a scare earlier today when I logged into GMAIL around 7:30am. Google informed me that I had "unusual or suspicious activity on my account". They forced me to change my password and I started checking all of my Google apps.

Was my account hacked?

Nothing suspicious occurred in Gmail.

Nothing unusual in AdSense.

Checking Blogger, I logged in only to see 3 of my blogs completely missing from the list.

Poof! Just like that, they were all gone. Including this site, in fact my most popular one. I checked the url, -- I got a page not found error. I then checked the original blogspot URL -- this time I got an attempt to claim it that just dropped me back to my Blogger Dashboard, empty handed.

At first I was shocked, had my account been compromised and the hacker thought it would be funny to delete blogs? Really, is that the first thing they would do?

Anyways, now the research had to go to the Google Blogger help, which is very difficult to find. I finally made my way to the "Something's Broken" webpage and located this thread.

Apparently this was a known issue although it sounded like it happened the previous night which was offset from my timeline of 7:00am. The instructions were to post your URL of your blogspot original URL and they would clean it up.

A few hours went by and blog was down, nothing from Google's blogger and you mind starts running...did I really just lose the last 4+ years of blogging and the surprising predictable income stream? Really, just like that?

In addition, the whole Gawker Database hack for registered users of their comments feature (details here) didn't help to ease my anxiety. I knew I had not only visited, but also commented at LifeHacker, Gizmodo, and Jalopnik in the past so I had an account.

The question...was my account one of the ones exposed and had I used my throw-away passwords?

First, I checked the handy tool at Slate, yep my account info had been compromised. I tried to log into a Gawker site and couldn't. The only choice was then to reset my password. To really know, the only choice I would have would be to download the database and see since no online tools really allowed you to see the actual password.

Then my mind is really racing, could it really just be a coincidence that the same day that Google has a number of accounts "compromised" and blogs deleted happened to be the day after large numbers of passwords were revealed from Gawker?

By the time I arrived home, my blog had been down for almost a full 12 hours. I rushed over to find a copy of the Gawker database, and searched the files for my email address. I found it and fortunately, was immediately relieved...I did use a throw-away password as I call it, as I often do with random accounts.

Feeling a little more piece of mind and not having to change a few more account passwords, my attention turned back to Blogger. My blog was down now for 13 hours and not a lot of info was coming from Google. Mainly, a "hey, we're making another pass through the list" which didn't exude confidence that I'd be restore soon.

But, after almost 14 three missing blogs were finally restored. I still had to re-point them to my custom domain, but I was able to get them in working order. Obviously a huge relief given what I was possibly facing.

Now that things are back and whole again, I have to laugh about the coincidence with the Gawker Database hack and only wish that Blogger would have been more explicit with details so more people's minds could have been at peace.

Were you caught in the Blogger or Gawker issues? Tell me about it.

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Solved! iPad IOS 4.2 freezes at Preparing to Sync - Stuck, Stops, & Frozen (4.2.1)

Like a lot of the modern iPad owner's world, I had anxiously been awaiting the update my iPad from the Apple IOS 3.X to the newest 4.0 version, which was 4.2 (4.2.1). While it was supposed to be originally release on Friday, November was held back for 10 days before finally being release on Monday, November 22nd.

I, like many iPad users rushed to my iTunes (after making sure I had the latest version of both iTunes and OS X) to try and upgrade my iPad.

This of course, is when the waiting begins. First you need to download the 500MB+ IOS 4.2.1 update from Apple which can take some time depending on your connection speed. Once that's downloaded, then you are ready to start the upgrade.

For me, the upgrade went very smoothly until the point where iTunes displays the message "preparing to sync" then my Mac Mini (also applies to Macbook Pro, iMac, and other OS X devices) seemed to "freeze" where the upgrade stops, the Apple computer is frozen with the traditional beach ball spinning in iTunes and it appears that your upgrade is completely stuck.

After about 15 minutes, I started to get nervous. Still, with no error messages I decided to let it run...and run...and run.

About 55 minutes was the total time that my iOS 4.2 upgrade on my iPad took before it finally started syncing with the Apple iTunes software. 5 minutes later, the upgrade was completed and I could now use the Apple iPad on iOS 4.2.1.

Checking around to see if my experience was similar, there were a number of people reporting problems with the iOS 4.2.1 upgrade for the iPad (whether it was the 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB versions) freezing, locking-up, and even crashing when attempting to upgrade their devices.

In some cases, people were canceling, stopping, or closing iTunes and starting over after 10 or 15 minutes. Others were restoring factory settings, backing up, restoring, and then trying it all over again with the same results, often failing.

The key here is to LET THE "preparing to sync" run for as long as it takes. It could take anywhere between 5 minutes and 90 minutes (or even longer) depending on how much data (movies, music, photos, apps, etc.) that you have on your iPad. For example, my iPad is running at about 55GB, or 85% of the capacity. Be patient, let the beach ball (or hourglass if you're running in Microsoft Windows XP, Vista, or Windows 7) run for as long as it takes to complete. It will complete, at some point. Just be patient. :-)

The reason? The upgrade is processing all of your data and files during that time and depending on the volume and file size can take a considerable amount of time.

Don't have the time and want to speed it all up? Un-sync or remove all of your Apps, Videos, Music, Emails, Calendar, Notes, and Photos from the iPad so there is less data to process. You can shrink the time of "preparing to sync" down significantly and in some cases to less than 5 minutes if you're in a real hurry.

In any case, do not is just a matter of time until your iOS 4 upgrade completes!

Did this post help you out? If so, please leave a comment! Along with the amount of files or data and the time to process, if possible.

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

How to Shrink Windows 7 & Windows Vista Virtual Disk in VMWare Fusion 3.0 on Mac OSX

On my MacBook, I use VMWare Fusion 3.0 (actually 3.1.1) to run Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Ubuntu Linux. Some of the reasons are simple, such as running Microsoft's Entourage in a corporate environment undoubtedly leads to a host of calendaring issues, especially if you have multiple people managing and sharing calendars. (Don't get me started about the iPhone's interaction with Microsoft Exchange, Entourage, and Outlook.)

Overall, I have been extremely happy with the performance of VMWare Fusion 3.0. When combining that with the great hardware and MacOS, definitely a great improvement over previous Lenovo and IBM ThinkPads I had in the past. Start-up, sleep and shutdown times were so much quicker on the MacBook Pro regardless of the operating system.

There was one thing that I began to notice over a period of a few months, however.

Over time, the virtual disk and virtual hard drive files (VMDK) were growing what I considered to be excessively. In fact, for about 30GB of total data on the hard drive, was now taking almost 75GB of hard drive space and noticeably starting to slow down.

I tried the most logical thing I could think of, the built in "Clean Up Disk" function inside of VMWare Fusion. To get to it, you go to Virtual Machine --> Hard Disk --> Hard Disk Settings to clean up the disk.

In VMWare Fusion 3.0 how to Shrink Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2008, Windows 2003, Windows 2000 Virtual Disk

However, after waiting for about 30 minutes for the disk to clean-up to run and shrink the disk back to a manageable size...nothing of significance happened. The Virtual Disk and associated VMDK files were all roughly the same and a total of less than 1GB of the 45GB in "extra" space was used up.

Disappointed in the impact of the tool, I turned to Google to try and find another solution. I came across the 41 Technologies blog, which had a great article that described some of the issues and had instructions on how you could easily shrink your Windows Virtual Machine. Unfortunately, the article was dated (2008) and many of the tools like "diskTool" is no longer in VMWare Fusion 2.0 or 3.0 and the vmware-vdiskmanager tool in VMWare Fusion 2.0 and 3.0 doesn't take the same input, especially when your Virtual Machine is within a package.

Still, the article provided some very useful information and pointed me to a path that allowed me to seriously shrink my VMWare Fusion Windows 7 Virtual Machine from 73.27GB all the way down to just 31.62GB, over a 50% reduction.

Here's how you can do it:

First, realize that all this "extra" space in your virtual machine is due to how Windows manages files and uses the virtual hard drive / virtual disk in Windows that uses a lot of space without "erasing it" or "zeroing it out" when it is no longer used. That leads to serious Virtual Hard Disk bloat, especially in Microsoft Windows based Virtual Machines.

Now, follow the following steps:

1. Do the basic disk clean-up that you'd like to do. Delete extra or temporary files, shrink your PST and OST files if you are using Microsoft Outlook, etc. Eliminate any extra space that you can.

2. Defragment the hard drive on your Virtual Windows this can be done by going to the command prompt and typing in "defrag c:" or the drive letter of the various drives on your virtual machine.

3. Go to the Microsoft Technet site and download the SDelete v1.51 tool by Mark Russinovich; which will enable you to remove the "held space" in files that were deleted, but not zeroed out.

4. Once you've downloaded and installed the tool, head to the command line, head to the install directory of the SDelete tool and type in "sdelete -c c:" (or the appropriate drive). In approximately 30 minutes or less, all the empty space will be zeroed out on your drive.

5. Now head back to the virtual disk manager and run the "Clean Up Disk" utility that can be found at Virtual Machine --> Hard Disk --> Hard Disk Settings to clean up the disk.

In VMWare Fusion 3.0 how to Shrink Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2008, Windows 2003, Windows 2000 Virtual Disk

After about 45 minutes, you'll find that your virtual hard drive had been shrunk back down to a reasonable I mentioned in my case, I went from about 75GB down to 30GB, more than a 50% reduction.

Once that's done, you can enjoy not only your reclaimed space, but also a higher performing Virtual Machine in your VMWare Fusion for Mac. If this worked for you, please let me know below with a comment.

VMWare Fusion Versions this works on:
VMWare Fusion 2.0
VMWare Fusion 3.0

Microsoft Windows Versions this works on:
Microsoft Windows XP
Microsoft Windows 2000
Microsoft Windows 2003
Microsoft Windows Vista
Microsoft Windows 2008
Microsoft Windows 7

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bug: Call of Duty - Black Ops - Hue City - Dark Room - Mason - Stuck!

I ran into what is an apparent bug, glitch, or easter egg depending on how you look at it (others, too...see here) in the brand new Call of Duty - Black Ops game and I am posting this quick note to help anyone else who might be encountering it.

What is the bug / defect / problem?

It occurs in one of the Hue City missions in Vietnam where you are playing as Mason. You're progressing through the game and get to the objective of Destroying the ZSU gun as your are trying to get to the landing zone (LZ) to complete your objectives. You're asked to help out and push the door in. A car explodes (blows up) and then the entire screen goes dark (black room) and you cannot see anything other than the next checkpoint indicator. You can move around in the room; but no matter what you do, you cannot get any close than 7.0 or 6.8 (if you jump) meters from the location.

This problem ends up being where you are stuck in the room with no way to exit, see or go forward. Even if you exit the game and restart, you end up at the same place in the game, in a black room with no exits even though you can still hear action, voices, guns, and still fire your weapon.

What appears to cause it?

The problem appears to manifest itself when you go to "help" push in the wall before the car explodes and you hold down the square button rather than tapping it quickly. Once the car explodes you are stuck.

Does this just happen on my console?

This problem is reported to happen on the Playstation 3 (PS3), XBOX 360, Nintendo Wii, and PC version so it does not appear to be limited to one version or hardware related.

How can I get around this?

Thus far, it appears the only way to get past this is to restart the level and make sure you tap rapidly on the square button rather than holding it down. Several users have reported success with this. Update: I was able to get past this bug, by restarting and pushing through the wall by tapping quickly on the square vs. just holding it down.

Is my game defective, can't I just return it?

This appears to be a software bug rather than a defective game. There are reports of people returning their games only to find the exact same thing on the new version from the store. This would mean that only an update from Activision could actually fix.

Is anything else known about the problem?

Not at this time, but with how new Call of Duty Black Ops is...information may develop quickly. I will post updates as other update me or I learn more.

Are you having this problem or did you find another way out? If so, let me know with a comment below!

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Friday, October 15, 2010

My Visit to BMW Performance Center: Driving School for the 1-Day M Class

There's nothing better than an unexpected surprise in your mail.

And that's what I received back in February of this year. An invitation to a free one day M driving school at the BMW Performance Center in Spartanburg, SC. Free class, free hotel, free food. All I needed to do was pay for my flight and rental car (<$500) and you could have the joy of driving BMW M3's, M5's, and M6's for a day with performance instructors. Pretty cool!

So, I quickly dialed up my buddy Josh (a free guest is included) and we settled on a date, September 27, 2010...7 months down the road. At times, it seemed like the day would never come and then quickly it snuck up on me as we moved houses and all of that kind of jazz.

For me, being the dedicated United Airlines flyer I am, it was not easy to get to even Charlotte, NC about 70 miles north of Spartanburg, SC. (1k with free unlimited first class upgrades helps!)

I awoke on the morning of September 26th in a haze at about 3:45am, just enough time to jump in the shower, get ready, and make it to LAX in time for my flight. Even taking the 6:00am flight out of Los Angeles (oversold, how does that happen on a Sunday 6:00am flight?) I still didn't make it to Charlotte, NC until about 5:00pm where I met up with Josh and we did the 90 minute drive to Greenville/Spartanburg, NC.

The BMW Performance Center puts you up in the Marriott Spa and Resort there in Greenville and let me tell you, they do it right. You get a nice room, free breakfast and dinner for the nights you're there with free Internet and all of that jazz. Compliments of BMW...all with the purchase of a BMW M3.

The only issue on the Sunday night we arrived is that there was no beer being served outside the city limits, due to the local law. So, we headed to the Quaker Steak and Lube and enjoyed some good food, some beer and watched Sunday night football...before getting a great night's sleep.

We got up in the morning, ate our free breakfast buffet and jumped on the shuttle to head over to the BMW Performance Center. The hotel was full of BMW employees from the area and from Germany...although us "tourists" were pretty easy to spot in our casual attire. Once we arrived at the center, it was time to begin. Our lead instructor for the day Matt greeted us by telling us how they change the course and school on days where it is wet like today. They simply tell us to do one thing...that is turn on the windshield wipers.

Rather than walking you blow by blow through the day, below are the picture, video and story from an absolutely amazing day at the BMW Performance Center. I'm definitely going to head back something net year for the 2-day version of the class!

Here we are entering the BMW Performance Center. The fun is just about ready to begin!Here we are entering the BMW Performance Center.  The fun is just about ready to begin!

Josh shares our first schwag for the day, free BMW M Performance Driving School pens. We're getting ready for our basic introduction and training before hitting the track.
Josh shares our first schwag for the day, free BMW M Performance Driving School pens.  We're getting ready for our basic introduction and training before hitting the track.

Oh, what a lineup that is! 6 M3's (3 e90 sedans, 3 e92 coupes), 6 M5's (e60), and 6 M6's (e63). It's a little wet out, but that will make things a little more fun.
Oh, what a lineup that is!  6 M3's (3 e90 sedans, 3 e92 coupes), 6 M5's (e60), and 6 M6's (e63).  It's a little wet out, but that will make things a little more fun.

My M5 for the day. Ready to hit the skipad.
<br />My M5 for the day.  Ready to hit the skipad.

Josh and I hanging out in the M5; observing and ready to roll.
Josh and I hanging out in the M5; observing and ready to roll.

Here I am in front of my 2011 e90 M3 with DCT and Competition Package sedan for the day, check out the sweet wheels. I was very happy to have the 4-door sedan which basically was the alter-ego for my daily driver; a Jet Black e90 M3 Sedan.
Here I am in front of my 2011 e90 M3 with DCT and Competition Package sedan for the day, check out the sweet wheels.  I was very happy to have the 4-door sedan which basically was the alter-ego for my daily driver; a Jet Black e90 M3 Sedan.

Here are some videos for the driving experience that I've posted on YouTube.

BMW M5 e60 - Full Drift 360 around Skipad - M School BMW Performance Center. Demo by the driving instructors to show us "how it's done!" We also got to go for a ride-along with each one which was a blast!

See the BMW M6 E63 on the cornering and acceleration activities at the BMW Performance Driving Center one day M School. Hear the acceleration and the active coaching from the instructors as the M6 goes around the track. This exercise was a ton of fun being able to open up the M6 down the back stretch.

The latest e90 / e92 BMW M3 with the competition package put through it's paces at the one day M Driving School at the BMW Performance Center in Greenville, SC. This exercise in the morning takes you through acceleration into a double apex turn before getting back on the power as you head up the hill. Great way to get to know your M3!

From the dual skidpad race at the BMW Performance Driving school at the 1-day M-School for BMW M3 owners. This is the final championship run for the "Blue" group with two M6's racing each other 10 laps around the short track. Oversteer, understeer, drifting. Who wins? Watch the Video to find out.

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fixed! Mac Mini Won't Start - No video No chime or Boot

It'd been a few weeks since we moved into our new house. Amongst all the boxes was my Mac Mini box (luckily I had my MacBook Pro; but haven't ordered my iMac yet) and I needed to pull it out to get to some documents.

So I spent some time unpacking it, finding the cables and then getting it all setup...then I plugged it in and heard the familiar Apple chime. After a few minutes through, all that seemed to occur was that I had a blank grey screen with no icons or indicators. I let it sit for another 10 minutes hoping it was just churning away, but after the time elapsed...I had to hold the power button until the Mac Mini turned off.

And that's when the fun began.

When I powered it back on, the light came on and I heard the super / dvd / cd drive power up, but that was just it. No familiar apple chime, the Mac Mini wouldn't start.

So, I then pulled the power plug for a minute thinking something happened with the whole gray screen during starup. Still, no luck.

Now I was starting to get worried.

I did some Google searches on the problem and came across a couple of possibilities.

1. Reset the PMU or the Power Management Unit, which also resets the PRAM or Parameter Random Access Memory.
2. Reset the SMC or the System Management Controller.

While Apple provides steps on how to do this from their support site, I'll cover it really quickly so you don't have to head over there.

To reset the PMU / PRAM on your Apple Mac Mini, do the following:
1. Unplug all cables from the computer, including the power cord.
2. Wait 10 seconds.
3. Plug in the power cord while simultaneously pressing and holding the power button on the back of the computer. (approximately 5 seconds)
4. Let go of the power button.
5. Press the power button once more to start up your Mac mini.

In my case, resetting the PMU did not have the desired effect, especially since mine is an Intel-based Mac Mini. The effect for me is that when the Mac Mini started up the fan came on at a high speed and just ran and ran and ran. In fact no chime, no video, just the fan running at high anytime I press the power button to start up the Mac Mini.

Next it was time to reset the SMC, which is recommended for Intel based Mac Mini computers.

1. Shut down the computer.
2. Unplug the computer's power cord.
3. Press and hold the power button for 5 seconds.
4. Release the power button.
5. Attach the computers power cable.
6. Press the power button to turn on the computer.

After resetting the SMC or System Management Controller, the situation with the fan running on high resolved itself, but I was still no better. The Mac Mini would power on, disk and drive would spin up, but no chime, boot up, or display.

Now I was getting a little desperate; having cracked open the Mac Mini in the past to upgrade the Mac Mini hard drive, I decided that would be my next step, just to check all the connections inside and see if anything had come loose.

If you haven't opened up your Mac Mini before, don't worry it is pretty easy -- just grab a spatula (I used a metal one) and you can crack it about 5 seconds. If you need some addition help, check out the video here: Upgrading your Mac Mini; for some easy instruction.

Once I opened the Mac Mini, I quickly went all the way around the computer and made sure all of the connections were snug with my fingers. Nothing was obviously loose, but once I was complete, they were definitely all tightened up.

I put the top back on the Mac Mini and tried to power it up. Surprise, surprise, I heard the chime immediately, saw video and the Mac Mini booted up as expected. Finally, after about 45 minutes of troubleshooting, my Mac worked again!

If you're having problems with your Mac Mini starting up, hopefully this will help you out. In the case you have a MacBook Pro or iMac, perhaps this can help as well!

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

How to Transfer Apps Between iPads, Computers, and iTunes Guide

Trying to figure out how to transfer applications on your Apple iPad between two iPads? Or, are you simply changing computers and what to understand how to transfer your applications between an iPad, iTunes, and another computer? Or, are you looking to share app between two iPads or perhaps share apps within a family or two computers with the same or different iTunes accounts?

If you are trying to do any of the above things then this article is for you. It will take you through the step-by-step guide on how you can transfer, move, and/or share app from the Apple iTunes App Store between multiple iPad devices and computers. This guide works in almost every situation, including moving apps between Apple Macintosh and Microsoft Windows (Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7)

Before you share apps, please make sure you are in compliance with the Apple license agreement.

Here is the step-by-step guide.

If you're on a Mac Mini, iMac, PowerMac, or any other Mac like the MacBook, go to the following location:
User (Your User) --> Music --> iTunes --> Mobile Applications

If you're on a Windows Machine (Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7), go to the following location:
User (Your User / My Documents usually found in c:\Users\UserName) --> Music --> iTunes --> Mobile Applications.

Select the Apple iTunes / iPhone / iPad Apps you want (with the .ipa extension) to transfer / share and copy to the same exact location on your new computer or destination computer.

How to transfer apps between ipads guide itunes computers share

Now open up your Apple iTunes software.

Click on the File --> Add to Library Command.

how to share apps between ipads and transfer apps from one computer to another share itunes

Select the folder where you copied the applications to.

The new iTunes App Store iPhone / iPad applications will now be added to your iTunes Library and available to the new computer and available to sync between you iPad and iTunes.

Note: If you are using multiple iTunes accounts in which you are transferring, subsequent updates will require the iTunes username / password of the account they are assigned to.

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Tuesday, June 08, 2010

iPad Screen Protectors? #iPad #Apple

Today I ditched my iPad's screen protector. Why?

Basically, I found that since Ashley received her iPad -- that the Apple screen itself is a lot more resistant to finger prints than even the screen protector.

Since I have the standard Apple case with the flip over cover, I figure what I'm most protecting pretty well covered for that. I ripped it off yesterday and seem to already like it better...reduced glare and less fingerprints. So far, so good.

Are you using an Apple iPad screen protector? If so, let me know with a comment how you like it and if you plan to keep it.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Fixed! iPad Disconnects from Sprint Overdrive Wifi Connection

Today I was pretty darn excited to get my Sprint Overdrive Wifi Hub / Router in the mail today. That meant, that finally my iPad could have Internet Connectivity wherever I was at...without needing to have the 3G version. Finally my frustrations with the lack of tethering with AT&T with my iPhone would be finished! Even better? Sprint's 3G/4G speeds have the potential (and for all practical purposes are) much fast that AT&T's anyways.

I plugged it in. Easy.

Set it up. Easy.

Connected my iPad to the Sprint Overdrive. Easy.

Browsed the web. Easy.

But, shortly after setting it up, I noticed that every few minutes that connection between the Overdrive router device and the iPad would drop. And it kept happening...and after a myriad of prompts, the connection would finally be restored.

It was time to troubleshoot.

First I noticed the Overdrive was configured for dual band -- Wireless B and Wireless G. Somewhat of a "no-no" for the iPad based on recent news. So, I set it to the single G band.

That didn't fix the issue.

Next I noted that the encryption was set to WEP 64-bit. Also, not the greatest of ideas with Apple products. The iPod Touch as well as other Apple computers seemingly have trouble with that type of encryption...especially only 64-bit. So, I reconfigured it to WPA Personal and setup security.

Problem was immediately fixed and has been stable ever since.

So, if you're having WiFi problems with your Apple iPad, iPod Touch, or iPhone and are using a router like the Sprint Overdrive, changing the security from WEP to WPA can very likely fix your issue.

Good luck!

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Monday, April 12, 2010

My Favorite Thing About The iPhone vs. Blackberry

This is an easy one. If I had to pick o e thing that is so much better than the Blackberry, what would it be?

The answer: Meeting invites on the iPhone always have 100% of the meeting invite content.

You don't understand how big of an item that is...or maybe you do?

Depending on what conferencing solution you use for business, you might have been in a similar situation as me. Here's what I would experience. The Cisco Meeting Place solution that is used where I work always appends the conference call number and ID to the bottom of the meeting invites. What seemed to happen several times a week was someone would have a descriptive (you could read long) agenda or meeting purpose. Then I would of course accept the meeting invite and it would sync to my Blackberry, right?

Of course it would. However, when you would bring up the meeting invite on the Blackberry device, you would learn that there was a character limit to the details of the invite. Which in turn would mean that you could not pull up the actual dial-in information for the meeting leaving you stranded.

This seemed to happen 3-4 times a week for me, which is frustrating...especially when you're traveling and do not have any other options. It has been a problem for the Blackberry for a number of years and whether it was a problem with the device or the Blackberry Enterprise Server, it never got fixed.

The fact that the iPhone with ActiveSync actually has the entire appointment is not necessarily novel, but is a major advantage over the Blackberry.

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

IPad charging via USB or FireWire?

Well, this is my second post directly from my iPad.

And with it, a short post continuing to explore other ways to recharge your iPad Rather than using the 10w wall charger that ships in the box with your iPad. I had previously mentioned my experience with trying to get the iPad to charge on my Mac Mini via USB 2.0 connection, in which it simply did not charge.

Subsequent posts on the Interenet (like this one: say it actually charges, just really slow. Still, my Apple Genius at the Apple Store warned me very specifically when I purchased my iPad...don't use the iPhone 5w wall charger and don't use a USB cable that is not fully powered. Why? Because apparently the lower power and the trickle charging will dramatically reduce the battery life on your iPad. With no known way to fix it, not sure I am ready to test it yet. And the fact that it could either damage you iPad or at least the life of the battery, I do not recommend it for anyone.

Still, an additional option was presented by a reader of this blog...there are some people having succeses using a FireWire cable to not only connect, but also charge the iPad. So, I picked up a FireWire cable for an iPod/iPhone/iPad to test it out. After holding my breath for a moment, I got an unsupported accessory notice on my iPad. Waiting for a couple of minutes, theniPad neither charged nor syncing on my Mac Mini.

Based on that, I am still searching for a way other than the wall charger to charge up the iPad. Any other ideas out there?

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Sunday, April 04, 2010

iPad charging via USB fails on the Mac Mini

I am a big fan of my new Apple iPad 64gb, as I am using it to type this post! Admittedly, at first I was a little bit skeptical if in fact it would be as "magical" as advertised. However, after just 5 minutes with my iPad, I was convinced it is quite the impressive tool it promises to be. More on that later...

Thie one issue that I have run into is that I cannot charge it via USB as has been reported at a number of outlets. Most of them reported however that you could charge your iPad if you had a Mac computer. Which, I do.

Still, I cannot get my iPad to charge vi a USB on my Mac Mini, after trying all of the ports on it. Which, I must say is just a little bit disappointing...still, I am guessing there is a higher powered (USB 3.0 ?) hub that should be able to charge it.

Has anyone else found a solution?

IPad won't charge, iPad doesn't charge via USB, iPad does not charge

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

iPhone: ActiveSync and Contacts

Microsoft's ActiveSync is one of the ways I am able to get some of my emails onto my iPhone. And generally speaking I have been overly surprised with the connectivity and integration with the iPhone. It is fairly impressive given the tempid history between Apple and Microsoft. While in the near futur I will post a more specific post on my experience with activesync, this particular one focuses on an odd behavior I saw earlier this week.

All of my activesync contacts mysteriously disappeared.




Even when checking my phone and caller id log, the numbers were there but the names and the contact information bad vanished. Seemingly into thin air.

In actuality what had happened is my iPhone had not been able to connect to the Microsoft Exchange server where all of my contacts were. For about 16 hours or so due to maintenance. Apparently after 12 hours or so, they just expired from the iPhone. Which seems really odd that they were not persisted.

Once the ActiveSync server came back online, everything was restored immediately. But, I still have not found the reason they disPpeared, even running searches.

Which means I am still looking for a reason and perhaps a solution other than MobileMe to make it work. Any ideas out there?

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

iPhone: Email Importance, Sensitivity, and Return Receipts

While some may think that I am not enjoying my new iPhone having been a 10+ year veteran of the RIM Blackberry's services, I must say it is quite the opposite. I am thoroughly enjoying the new device, the new user experience, and the availability of working and non-buggy apps that riddled my Blackberry experience.

Still, that being said there is a ton of room for improvement that I discover on almost a daily basis to fully bridge the gap between some of the key functionalities that people need in order to be fully functional.

The one I identified this morning was a lack of email options when composing or replying to an email. Any of us that use Microsoft Outlook or any other email programs know that there are a couple of settings on which you can tag an email to change some behaviors.

They are:

Sensitivity: The ability to set the sensitivity of an email. Common flags are Confidential, Private, Normal and Personal.

Importance: Enabling you to set the High, Low, or Normal importance of an email. Of course we all know what this one looks like, it is that big red exclamation point next to an email that we sometime see too often from certain people.

Return-Receipts: The ability to either request a receipt (or email confirmation) when your email has either been delivered and/or read by the recipients.

Adding some of these basic features to the email capability would be a great way to continue to improve on the features and functionality of the iPhone email. We can always hope for the iPhone V4 software, right?

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

iPhone: Notifications for Different Email Accounts

As I continue to explore and learn more about the usage of the iPhone, one big disappointment I have is apparently with the lack of flexibility of notifications on the device.

With my Blackberry device, it was pretty simple...not only could I have 4 different modes of notifications but I could also have different notifications setup for every different type of message, include for each email account.

And that's where a little bit of the rub is. I support multiple email accounts on my mobile / cell phone / smart phone device. Yet, with the iPhone it does not natively support different notifications on a per account type. It does on a very basic notification type (for example SMS text vs. email), but I cannot choose for instance to have my GMAIL account notify me silently with a vibratoin while my Hotmail account chimes each time.

The functionality at least natively appears not to be there...either that or I cannot find it. Of course, I could go through the process of building contacts for each type of email...that would be way too much work however.

Hopefully in the V4 of the iPhone OS this type of fine grain support for different different accounts within a certain messaging type to have different notification types. Please Apple, it's needed!

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Posting Frequency Phenomenon

You're a blogger. You've posted a ton of articles and built a decent base of traffic from a number of sources that drives a decent amount of traffic to your site which generates a decent amount of revenue.

Then one day, you stop posting. It could be for a number of're tired, you're burnt out, or your day job and the rest of life is so busy. Regardless of the reason, you stop posting altogether.

Over a two month period, what happens to the traffic? In theory, if a majority of your traffic comes from posts on previous hasn't lost any relevance, should your traffic suffer?

Well, this what I will explore in a couple of short minutes. I basically stopped posting in January and with the exception of a small post in February have done nothing in terms of this site.

What happened to my traffic? Let's look at the graph below.

It's been a pretty steady decline over the period of the two months in which I stopped posting regularly. In the last month where I did not post at all, it was a 10% overall decline. Since January 2nd, the total traffic has fallen almost 50% from the peak to yesterday March 23rd. There would seem to reason there is a lot of seasonality around the holidays (specifically with Wii posts), but there is no question that Google has sent less traffic my way.

The real question is whether or not the algorhythm that Google uses is taking recency into account and penalizing me for not posting. Or, if simply people are searching less for the results that traditionally bring traffic to the site. While not a fact yet, when I did post yesterday, I did notice about a 10% bump and uptick in traffic again. Not conclusive, but will be an intersting data point as I attempt to post more frequently over the next couple of weeks.

Of more interest though, is that my overall revenue from advertising has not fallen despite the shortage in traffic. Which seems to indicate that either advertisers are spending more per click, or the customers themselves are high revenue generating for me. It's possible to tell, but I'll need to download my Google Adsense data for the last couple of month to verify.

With all that being said, I have two hypothesis:
1. Even with older articles, sites that have more frequent updates are likely to get more traffic, even to that old content.
2. Even with the lower amount of traffic, for some reason more profitable (to me) visitors are coming to the site.

We'll discover a little more as to the answers over the next week or two...assuming the traffic comes back and validates hypothesis #1.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

AT&T: iPhone 3G Better Than Blackberry Bold 9000?

Just a couple of days, I finally made the switch to an iPhone 3GS 16GB from my old Blackberry Bold 9000 device. When I announced it on my Facebook and Twitter pages, it immediately was a mix of "welcome to freedom" as well as "you're really going to miss the Blackberry" types of messages.

What I'll do over time is post short notes on things that are both better and worse with the iPhone rather than the Blackberry.

Here are the first couple:

1. For some reason, AT&T's 3G service is MUCH more reliable than on the Blackberry Bold 9000. Not sure what actually causes this, but both the connectivity, quality of data, quality of calls and dropped calls have been almost non-existent on my new iPhone. It was so terrible on the Blackberry Bold 9000 that I had to force it back to 2G service on the Edge network.

2. Active-Sync with push emails is an absolute battery killer on the iPhone. I've since turned push email sync off and gone to a 15-minute / one demand pull with dramatically improved batter life....

This is just a short snippet...more to come!

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Sunday, February 07, 2010

How To Reset Blackberrry Bold 9000 / 9700 Frozen / Locked (Video)

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a video on YouTube that shows how to reset your Blackberry Bold 9000 / 9700. It also works on most of the other Blackberry Models except for the Pearl. They include: Blackberry Bold 9000 9700, Blackberry Storm, Blackberry Tour, Blackbery Curve, Blackberry 8800, and the Blackberry 8700.

The good news is that there is more than one way to reset your Blackberry Bold 9000 / 9700! In fact, there are a total of four different ways. Check the video below for more information...

Here are the 4 different ways that you can reset your Blackberry Bold 9000 / 9700:

1. Hit the ALT + SHIFT / CAPS + DEL keys simultaneously to reset the Blackberry device. You may need to hold the keys for a second for the reset to register.

2. Double hit the ALT + SHIFT/CAPS + DEL keys at the same time. By hitting them both in quick succession, it is a "harder" reset. This is as close as you can come to what is known as a "Battery Pull".

3. Method 3 is as simple as it sounds. A "Battery Pull" is where you remove the battery from the Blackberry Bold 9000 / 9700 for 30 seconds or longer to completely reset the Blackberry. To do so, use the button at the bottom of your Blackberry to remove the back cover and then lift the battery out. Wait 30 seconds and then put the battery back in.

4. The final way you can reset your device is by using a software utility such as QuickPull - Free edition. While QuickPull free does have ads on it, keeping it free -- it notifies you when your Blackberry is low on memory and asks you to reset it. An easy way to reset your Blackberry!

Now you know how to reset your Blackberry 4 different ways!

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Monday, January 18, 2010

New HD Video: Upgrade Hard Drive on PS3

Quick post today, but I made video from my popular post on how to upgrade the hard drive on your Sony PlayStation 3. It also works great if you are just replacing the hard drive as well.

If you're looking for the full article, including the original text and pictures, please go here: How To: Upgrade / Replace Your PS3 Hard Drive (Sony PlayStation 3)

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Powerline Networking Tutorial & Speed Test Using the Linksys PLK300

When I recently picked up our new Sony LCD 52" Bravia TV (link to Amazon) not only was the picture improvement tremendous, but there is an Internet connection for the television that allows access to Yahoo! Widgets, YouTube, and other basic Internet connectivity. While I was disappointed in the fact that it did not include a built-in Wireless via 802.11G or RangeMax N -- I was forced to confront a growing issue in my home Entertainment system -- the need for several wired connections.

Previously, with my Sony Playstation 3and Nintendo Wii the problem was not so bad -- since both support wireless Internet connectivity. But take the new Sony 52" LCD, and in the Sony Blu-Ray player and the emerging connectivity for Sony ES receivers and you have a major need for connectivity.

The way I looked at it was that I had a couple of options:

1. I could mess with the wiring in my house (which has CAT-5E run through it) and install some wiring between the room where my Verizon FiOS connection terminates and my family room, add in a new switch and hook all the wired devices up.

2. I could install a wireless bridge to extend the wireless network into the Entertainment system and hook up the various components to the wireless bridge.

3. I could dive into the world of Powerline networking, where just by using a simple outlet, I could with the newer technology reach speeds up to 200Mbps -- of course, under the right conditions.

After thinking hard about #2, I ran into a number of articles suggesting that the Sony KDL-52Z5100 television experienced numerous issues with various types of bridges. The recommendation from a few folks on seemed to be to use the Powerline equipment and folks seemed to have pretty good luck with the Linksys PLK300 Powerline AV Ethernet Adapter Kit.

After continuing to research the Powerline option, and due to a great deal on, I settled on the Linksys by Cisco PLK300 as the Powerline AV Kit of choice. For about $140, the cheapest around I got both a single port Powerline AV Adapter and a four-port Powerline AV Adapter, which was exactly needed. Throw in my Amazon Prime Free Trial and 2-day shipping free and I was sold.

If you're interested, I published a video on the setup and the performance of the video on YouTube, here it is. Feel free to keep on reading if you don't have the chance to watch as I'll cover several of the same topics.

Upon the Linksys by Cisco PLK3000 unit showing up at my house, everything I expected was inside. Two Powerline AV adapters, two power cords, and two RJ-45 Ethernet cables. I was ready to go.

The first step was to plug in the first adapater that would be connected to my gigabit switch in my office where the Verizon FiOS router terminates. No issues there, I plugged it directly into the wall (as recommended) and the switch.

I then went to plug in the device in my Home Entertainment Center. What I quickly realized that the 3-foot power cord that is provided is going to be too short for most people. It was for me, so I needed to come up with an alternate placement of the devices. Once I figured out where the next best place was for placement, I plugged it in and the good news was that I had instant connectivity.

I did not have to push any buttons, do any configurations, just plug and play and the adapter was working and providing direct connectivity to my PlayStation 3 device. In this case, Linksys gets high marks for the PLK300 (which is a bundle of the PLE300 and the PLK300) for easy of setup and first use.

Now was time for a real test -- how would the the Powerline AV Network perform? How close would I get to the 200Mbps?

At this point, I booted my Sony Playstation 3 up into the Ubuntu Linux mode so that I could establish network connectivity and test out a file copy of a large file (200MB or so) between my Network Attached Storage Device (D-Link DNS-323, which is awesome!) and the PS3 to see what kind of performance I would get. I started the copying and the results were less than impressive -- 2.1MBps, which roughly translates to 17Mbps, far short of the 200Mbps potential...of course based on the conditions of the wiring, distance, and electrical interference.

After reading the reviews, I was expecting to get somewhere between 30Mbps and 70Mbps, so only achieving 17Mbps was very disappointing. My home is relatively new constructions, so the age of the wiring is likely the least limiting here. Still, when comparing with wireless to the same location, I was actually receiving almost double as the Wireless G connection. In that regards, I was happy that I was able to achieve better rates.

Satisfied with the overall improvement, but not the overall performance, I decided to see if there were any advanced settings I could possibly reach knowing that forcing devices to 100-Full vs. Auto-detect can make big differences in certain conditions. I also wanted to check to see if there were any firmware of other upgrades available that could possibly filter out noise or give performance enhancements.

To make a long story short here, Linksys does not support these devices very well. Meaning, there's no utility that works (there is a Utility for the 200 series that is not compatible) and there have been no firmware upgrades since November of 2008 that are post on the site. There is also no advanced way to connect to the devices to tweak the settings which overall is a pretty big bummer.

Let with no options in terms of configuration, my only choices were to move the devices between power outlets to see what kind of differences they could make. Really, I approached it two ways:

1. Trying out through a power strip with cleaner power. It worked fine (although not recommended by Linksys, but the performance drops to roughly half of what it was previous. Generally, not a desired outcome.

2. I went ahead and tried out a plethora of different outlets between the two rooms. Not much to report here other than the end result is that my top end file movement speed was at roughly 2.1MBps, which appears to be the top end available.

In the end, the overall review on the Linksys PLK300 Powerline AV Network is really a mediocre one. Linksys gets extremely high marks for plug-and-play with a successful ease of setup. However, in terms of performance, advanced configuration, and overall support it's pretty poor. There for, that leaves me in the middle of the review. The good news is that it works just good enough for me to keep it, although I briefly concerned it when I saw the surprisingly low performance.

If you need to establish connectivity between a non-wireless device or a hard to reach wireless location -- the PLK300 is a great solution -- as long as you do not have to worry about speed.

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Sunday, January 03, 2010

Fixed! VMWare Stop 0x0000007B 0xFFFFFA60005AF9D0 with Image Converter (0x7b)

I recently decided that I needed to have a few less computers sitting around my home. Not counting the three laptops we have, there were a total of 4 personal computers plus a network area storage (NAS) device to store all of the common files. That makes 5. Throw in the two Sony Playstation 3's (PS3) configured to run Ubuntu Linux and that puts the count at 10. Completely unneccesary for a household of two.

The easiest place for me to start with a "consolidation" what two Dell machines I have. One running Microsoft Windows 2008 Server, and the other running Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate. The Microsoft Windows Vista Machine, a Dell E520 running a dual core, 4GB RAM system was a great candidate to be consolidated into the Dell server running a quad core and 8GB RAM. The machine is already running VMWare Server 2.0.2, and I had several Virtual Machines including a Windows XP machine I had retired a little over a year ago. The question was how could I do it easily without a major problem.

The first answer I decided to try was using Microsoft's Complete PC Backup feature built into Windows Vista where you basically create Virtual PC images of your hard drives that can then be restored onto another machine. The only downfall is that to truly to a full PC (and include hidden or recovery partitions) you really have to use the CD/DVD backup and at 6 DVDs, is a little laborious. Once in the VMWare Virtual Machine, it appeared to be going very well. However, towards the end I hit a major snag with DVD #5 continually hit read errors. It was time to try another path.

I then decided to try out WinImage, a software that is a free, fully functional trial for 30 days to try and create an image. It seemed to go well with the exception of a couple of problems. The first issue was that it seemed to need to create the full size of the physical drive on the initial image. For example, I had a 250GB hard drive, but there was only 50GB used across both partitions. Rather than copying the minimal size of the drive, WinImage by default even with the dynamically expanding disk selected -- needed to create it at the full 232GB size. Very difficult if the drive you are creating the image on as the destination is not larger than the source.

Once I completed the effort, I transferred the 232GB image (thank goodness for Gigabit connectivity) and started up the VMWare image of Windows Vista. Within the first few seconds I got the message:

Stop: 0x0000007B 0xFFFFFA60005AF9D0 - 0x7b
Usually, anything starting with 0x0x0000007B has to do with an INACCESSIBLE BOOT DEVICE; something to do with the hard drive configuration between IDE / SCSI or otherwise, especially when using VMWare and Virtualization. I had seen this in the past, but interestingly this time error message did not specifically mention an inaccessible boot device.

I made a second pass with a slightly different hard drive configuration, and no luck.

As you might imaging, one gets pretty frustrated at this point. After searching Google, I came across a post which mentioned VMWare's Converter tool which is specifically for taking an existing maching and converting it to an Virtual Machine without all the problem that I was likely going to have on startup with the Windows Complete PC Backup and WinImage issues. This was one of those V-8 commerical times, where I felt like hitting myself on the forehead and exclaiming, "I could of had a V-8." How did I not know this free tool was available from VMWare? Regardless, it was time to move on to a tool that was meant for this job.

Fast forward ahead 90 minutes. I successfully installed the VMWare Converter tool on my host Vista Ultimate x64 system and created the image. I transferred the much smaller 40GB image over to my VMWare Server 2.0.2 and fired it up...
Stop: 0x0000007B 0xFFFFFA60005AF9D0 - 0x7b
Ugh, now I was really getting frustrated. Time to return to the research bin. After a lot of research, I centered on three key issues that could cause this potential problem -- and here are the steps that I took in order to fix them.

1. The ATI 256MB Video Card drivers that were installed (X1300) can cause these types of problems.

2. The Sigmatel HD Audio drivers that were installed can cause these types of problems.

3. The Disk type (commonly known with inaccessible boot device) can cause these kinds of error.

Here's what I did in order to make another pass:

1. Uninstalled the all video drivers and the ATI software.
2. Uninstalled all sound drivers and the Sigmatel Audio software.
3. In the VMWare Converter job task, rather than choosing the "Preserve Source" or the "IDE" -- I choose the "SCSI LSI Logic" .

I ran the job again and 90 minutes later, the VMWare Server virtual machine powered up without any hardware related issues. I did experience some networking issues, but those were due to the Windows Firewall (which I documented here) and not the image creation and conversion process.

If you are struggling with the Windows Vista Error Stop: 0x0000007B 0xFFFFFA60005AF9D0, here are the settings I used for the entire VMWare Image Converter:

Fixed! VMWare Stop 0x0000007B 0xFFFFFA60005AF9D0 with Image Converter

Hopefully, this works for you in solving your potential inaccessible boot device issues with VMWare. If so, please let me know with a Twitter mention @SomeLifeBlog, a Facebook link, or a comment below.

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Saturday, January 02, 2010

How To: Clean The Camera Lens on Your Blackberry (Video: Bold, Storm, Tour, Pearl, Curve, and 8800)

Recently, the Camera on my Blackberry Bold 9000 Smartphone was not taking great pictures any more. There were a little more fuzzy and less clear than previously. Upon inspection of the viewfinder, lens, and CCD sensor on the camera, I noticed it was pretty dirty. I needed to give it a good cleaning in order to take some decent pictures again.

This guide will walk you through a quick tutorial on how you can clean lens / CCD sensor and viewfinder on the Blackberry device.

This guide and tutorial is available in both a video and text form. The video is below along with the supporting text on the steps to take and is compatible with the Blackberry series of devices and smartphones that include the Blackberry Bold, Pearl, Tour, Storm and Curve lines among others.

Before getting started there are 3 things that you need:

1. You Blackberry Device, Blackberry Bold 9000 in my case. (9700 from AT&T, T-Mobile)

2. Can of compressed air, link to Amazon if you need some.

3. Microfiber / lens cleaning cloth, link to Amazon if you need one.

Here is the video:

Here are the actual steps to take:

1. Power off your Blackberry.

2. Spray the viewfind and the lens / CCD senor and the area surrounding it on your Blackberry to dislodge and clean out any dirt or debris from the camera. Hold the can of air 6-8 inches from the Blackberry.

2. Prepare the isopropyl alcohol or lens cleaning solutions by pouring a little bit into the cap, just enough to wet the Q-Tip.

3. Either use lens cleaning solution, or light blow on the camera and viewfinder to create a little moisture.

4. Use the microfiber cleaning cloth to wipe and clean both the camera and the viewfinder of any final debris.

5. Turn the Blackberry back on. Congratulations, your camera should work again and take great pictures on your Blackberry device whether it is the Bold, Tour, Pearl, or Curve!

How To: Clean The Camera Lens on Your Blackberry (Video: Bold, Storm, Tour, Pearl, Curve, and 8800)

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Friday, January 01, 2010

Fixed! Can't Ping Vista / Windows 7 Machine by IP Address or Name

Having problems pinging a Microsoft Windows Vista Machine (or Windows 7) from another computer whether it is Windows XP, Windows 2008 Server, or Mac OS X? This is apparently a fairly common issues when working with Windows Vista or Windows 7 and frankly there is not a lot of good information out there about the problem.

The reason I know this is that I spent about two hours trying to solve this problem myself recently when I transferred my Windows Vista Ultimate machine to a VMWare image (post is pending on the experience) where at some point during the process my Windows Vista system become unpingable by any of the machines on my home network. By not pingable, the Vista installation COULD ping itself, could ping other machines, and could even initiate connections like RDP (Remote Desktop) and file sharing to other machines.

The problem? Other machines could not connect back. In fact, directly, I could not ping the microsoft windows vista machine by either IP address, netbios name, or dns name.

You might instantly think in that case that well, you must have a firewall or possible even Windows Firewall running on that PC and that's the computer. If only it was so simple. In fact, in this case the Windows Firewall service was completely turned off, disabled at startup and not even running. Furthermore, the machine had been working flawlessly before I had to do some tweaks to make it ready for imaging. What made it more frustrating was undoing those tweaks did not solve the problem -- which meant I needed to find a different root cause.

After scouring the Internet for help in this area; I must have hit visited well over a hundred web pages -- each of which only had pieces of information, linked to another site and in the end was somewhat unfruitful. Only the combination of these sites with bits and pieces of information led me to find a slightly different tweak on the situation that indeed fixed my issue.

This post will take you through all of the various things I looked at, learned, and eventually used to fix my problem. If you're experiencing the issue where you cannot ping Windows Vista or Windows 7 by name or ip address from another machine, I hope somewhere here you can find a piece of info that will help you out.

Best of luck! As you might guess, either a single one of these items, or perhaps all of them may be the root cause of what you're experiencing in not being able to ping.

The first place we want to start with your network connections dialog box; and specifically the network and sharing center.

Some of the key things to look at here are to make sure (assuming you are) that you are set to a private network and you have full connectivity.  Then, from there the Network Discovery, File sharing, and Printer sharing at a minimum should be turned on.  Both the Public folder sharing and the Media sharing items are optional for the problem we are trying to solve here where you cannot ping Vista machine by ip address or by name.

Some of the key things to look at here are to make sure (assuming you are) that you are set to a private network and you have full connectivity. Then, from there the Network Discovery, File sharing, and Printer sharing at a minimum should be turned on. Both the Public folder sharing and the Media sharing items are optional for the problem we are trying to solve here where you cannot ping Vista machine by ip address or by name.

If you need to make changes to mimic this configuration, go ahead and make them, reboot and test. If you still cannot ping the Windows 7 machine by IP or by name (Vista as well), the let's move to the next step.

The next place to look once you are buttoned up on the services you are running is the actual properties of the network connections that you have. The first note here is that if you have multiple networks or multiple cards; I would recommend disabling the ones not on the network IP address that you are troubleshooting to eliminate sources of possible secondary issues.

Here is how the properties on my network card looked after the machines was again pingable by name and IP again.

The problem?  Other machines could not connect back.  In fact, directly, I could not ping the microsoft windows vista machine by either IP address, netbios name, or dns name.
Here's the rationale:

1. Client for Microsoft Networks is an absolute must in order to be able to share files and printers between various machines in basic Windows networking. Make sure that's checked.

2. The Virtual Machine Network Services if not installed properly can be a source of networking issues. While this was not my issue in the end, it was best to eliminate it early on as one of the variables in the ping saga.

3. QoS Packet Scheduler. While not leveraged in my installation no information pointed to is a potential source, so I left it checked.

4. File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks. A must if you want to be able to share files between machines and either share a printer or access a shared printer on another machine.

5. Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6) as know just as IPv6. This protocol has had some strange behaviors with other machines and some network devices. If you are not explicitly using IPv6, best to disable it, especially in a mixed network as a troubleshooting step. There are a number of documented cases where simply disabling this driver solved the issue.

6. Link-Layer Topology Discovery Mapper I/O Driver. Some posts point to this as well as the next protocol being necessary for file sharing and more. In my case, I disabled it as a way to remove complexity. If yours is disabled by default, I would enable it as a test.

7. Link-Layer Topology Discovery Responder. Same case as with 6, recommendation is the same.

As it actually turns out, while several of those items solved MOST of the problems that people had with this did not solve mine. Only after reading a few articles did I turn my focus to the Windows Firewall.

The first thing, if you are running the Windows Firewall; I recommend turning it off just to test. If that fixes the pinging problem, then you may need to make a new rule for your firewall to enable ping and ICMP requests. There are a number of good guides out there; so I am not going to cover that.

However, if you are still having issues...time to turn to the Windows Firewall.

Now first my point of view with Windows Firewall: I hate it.

I hate the fact that after random Microsoft Updates, it gets reenabled without my permission and creates all kinds of problems. I hate the performance premium it puts on your system. And in the end, I don't need it on an internal network, since I have a firewall in front of it.

As you might imagine, I went pretty far to make sure the Windows Firewall Service did not start up or run. Inside of Computer Management and the Services area, I disabled the service by changing the startup mode to disabled and I even put in a fake password into the logon tab so it could not start up.

I decided to try and turn back on the service. Except, I first needed to re-enable the service. I clicked first went to the service dialog for the Windows Firewall Properties, hit the logon tab and selected the local system account, selected ok and then tried to start up the service.

I had a problem, instead I was greeted with the error:

Windows could not start the Windows Firewall service on Local Computer. Error 1079: The account specified on this service is different from the account specified for other services running in the same process.

This meant that the service could not run under the account "Local System" and after searching I found it should instead run as "LOCAL SERVICE" -- my first thought was that I did not have the password for LOCAL SERVICE. No fear, all you need to do is select "This account", enter LOCAL SERVICE and in the Password and Confirm Password boxes just enter the password as the user you are logged into. Click ok, and you will see the service getting a dialog back that a right has been granted the right to log on as a service.

This did not fix my ping problem, but the next step did.  I then went to my Windows Control Panel and selected the Windows Firewall option.  When that dialog came up, I selected the text on the upper left to Turn Windows Firewall On or Off; the Windows Firewall was turned on, so I selected off and clicked ok.
Then it should start up successfully, as mine did.

This did not fix my ping problem, but the next step did. I then went to my Windows Control Panel and selected the Windows Firewall option. When that dialog came up, I selected the text on the upper left to "Turn Windows Firewall On or Off"; the Windows Firewall was turned on, so I selected off and clicked ok.

And guess what?  Immediately from my Windows 2008 Server, and Apple Mac OS X (Snow Leopard) installation, Windows Vista / Windows 7 was again pingable.

And guess what? Immediately from my Windows 2008 Server, and Apple Mac OS X (Snow Leopard) installation, Windows Vista / Windows 7 was again pingable.

What I still cannot explain is how it all of sudden stopped working.  It could have been a Windows Update or possibly Vista Service Pack 2 that caused the issue to appear, but I really cannot say.  I'm just glad it is working again, and hopefully with luck this post will help a few of you out with the issue.

At this point, despite my hatred for the Windows Firewall service -- I was happy to have the service startup and be turned off, just so I could access the machine again. Once the ping problem was solved, Remote Desktop, File Sharing, and Printer sharing all started working again.

What I still cannot explain is how it all of sudden stopped working. It could have been a Windows Update or possibly Vista Service Pack 2 that caused the issue to appear, but I really cannot say. I'm just glad it is working again, and hopefully with luck this post will help a few of you out with the issue.

If so, I'd appreciate a tweet on twitter, link on Facebook, or even a comment below to let me know.

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