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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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