Thursday, 17 April 2014

Ubuntu 14.04 LTS

I used to hate Ubunt but I have now got quite used to the Unity desktop and it's way of working, I still love PCLinuxOS for it's rock solid stability and will use it on one of my servers. Now in a short while the latest Long Term Release of Ubuntu will be with us 14.04, it's called Trusty Tahr or some silly name, I've been using the beta for a while and it seems quite stable to be honest. Let's see how it fares once it's released.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Wireless Problems

At work, one of the most common issues we have are down to poor wireless connections and quite often the poor old router gets the blame. A lot of these issues are irrespective of whether you have a cable or ADSL connection and can be traced to local interference, building construction or poor location of the router.

Most routers with built in antennae (ones you can't see), have a radiation pattern that is similar to a dome but the signal doesn't extend downwards, this is why a lot of after market routers have external antennae on them, you shouldn't line them up so they look pretty, the idea is to have one horizontal, one vertical and another diagonal or similar to get signals travelling in all directions. From this, you can see that if you have your router installed upstairs then your downstairs connection is probably not going to be that good.

Don't put the router behind the TV, all you will do is knock the signal levels down, put it out in the open somewhere so it gets a good view of your house.

If you have a games console, smart TV or desktop, forget about wireless connection, spend £30.00 or so on powerline adaptors instead, PC World do them and other computer stores are available, here's a link to one of the products.

Games console controllers normally use Bluetooth which runs in the same frequency band as your WiFi signal, this means interference and a poorer connection, smart TVs are normally wall mounted, the antenna is receiving electrical interference from it's own electronics and the wall behind it is also blocking the signal and then there's desktops, they are normally on the floor, they are a big lump of metal and they block radio signals. Just put an Ethernet lead in or get a powerline adaptor in all these cases.

The other problems you can get are down to interference, I've lost count of the amount of times I've been told by people that best channel to select is 1, 6 or 11 as these are going to be the clearest, they won't be if everybody listens to this bit of advice. If you have Vista or later then a fairly simple command line will list the channels in use in your immediate area, just open up a command prompt and type:

netsh wlan show networks mode=bssid.

This will show all the networks your computer can see and the channels they use, try and pick a channel that's about 2 channels away from one of these. For example, if there's a network on channel 8, go for 6 or 10. If after changing the channel you find that you can no longer connect by wireless, you are going to need to connect up to your router with an Ethernet cable to try a different channel or carry out a factory reset.

If you have an android device, there's an app called WiFi Analyzer, it's free and will show you what's happening in your area.

Baby alarms, microwave cookers are things that can also generate interference and reduce or stop your wireless connection, brick walls, foil lined walls (for heat loss), water (as in fish tanks or water storage tanks) will do the same as will old stone walls.

Basically, wireless is an added free extra with your broadband and can never be guaranteed to work in all parts of your home with one router, no matter who the Internet provider is.

If your devices and router support it, connect to the 5GHz network, there's more bandwidth here and you should see less buffering in high definition content.

Other connection problems can be caused by outdated drivers, especially with Atheros chips, firewall problems, unwanted wireless manager software and sometimes the router just needs a restart as it's unable to dish out any more IP addresses.

Remember, all broadband providers give you wireless as a free extra, speeds on wireless are generally slower than a wired connection and are more troublesome.

The last thing I should mention is related to Internet connections in general, if you have a 20Mb connection and have one device connected, you will get speeds of 20Mb, if you have two devices connected and they are both working as hard as each other, your bandwidth will be split between these devices so 10Mb per connection.

I have generalised a little bit here but try and follow some of these tips and you should find that you should have a bit less hassle with your connection.

I hope this has been of some use.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Network Sort Out

I've got a small little home network which consists of a little server that up till now has been running Linux, to be honest I would rather keep Linux on it but the little machine is 32 bit only and I want to use Bitcasa to back up my data to the Interwebs so it' being converted to Windows 7.

It's an Intel Atom CPU with 2Gb of RAM and a 530Gb HDD, it's going to be running a few things like Sickbeard, Sabnzb and will eventually have 2 x 3Tb drives connected to it. One of these is going to be my main data drive and the other is my onsite backup.

Offsite backup will be taken care of by Bitcasa, if you want some infinite online storage then go and check out the Bitcasa website here.

Problem number one is down to the fact that all of my drives are currently formatted as EXT4 which Windows can't read, I've formatted the main 3TB drive as NTFS and then found that my main data drive on the server is starting to fail, so at the moment I'm backing up everything from the old 1Tb drive to the new 3Tb drive as quickly as I can.

I've also installed VNC, Teamviewer and will be running an ssh server courtesy of Cygwin so I can get at my machine from just about anywhere.

Another bit of the project will be to hook up a webcam which will be overlooking a bid feeder, I'm probably asking for a lot from the little server but it seems quite happy chugging along so far.

I will also be running an automated backup from the main drive to the backup drive(s) at least every night.

I'll keep this updated as I go along, in the meantime it's a matter of waiting till my data transfer has completed.

A few days later with the data transfer is running at a snails pace, I remembered I had a back up that was about a week old on another drive, I restored this and then used the wonderful mirrordir command to just update the new files and now my little server is up and operational once more.

I went to thinking about using rsync to duplicate my data drive to the backup drive and it was then that I remembered the wonderful robocopy command. Basically you type robocopy source destination /mir and the source drive is mirrored, any files removed from the source are removed from the destination and and files added to the source are added to the destination, you just need to remember that you can only use a folder path such as c:\mystuff d:\mystuff /mir.

All I need to do is use the Windows scheduler to run this about 3 times a day and I'm sorted.

Next task is to install SabNZB and Sickbeard, this is currently underway and updating and the little server is performing really well considering it's specifications.

Once all this is completed, it will be time to setup and configure the webcam.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Line 0 Error in Internet Explorer

Quite a few people seem to be getting this error when starting Internet Explorer

Most people getting this error seem to be using iGoogle as their homepage. It’s possible that a malfunctioning gadget (application box) on your iGoogle page is causing the error.
Should I Be Worried? This error doesn’t seem to pose a security risk, but it should be dealt with in order to avoid other problems with Internet Explorer.
What Do I Need to Do? It seems that in most cases, this error can be resolved by removing the malfunctioning gadget from your iGoogle page:
• In the top-right corner of the gadget you’d like to delete, click the down arrow.
• Select Delete this gadget.
If you continue to experience problems, or you can’t determine which gadget is causing the issue, you can find more troubleshooting steps at the iGoogle help center.

MS Office Removal Tool

Having trouble removing or uninstalling Microsoft Office, there is a removal tool
which can be found here.

Word 2007 and 2010 losing spaces in a document

Apparently there are incompatabilities between Word 2007 and 2010 which result in spaces being randomly dropped in a document.

There's an article here, which tells you how to sort it.

Fix an unmountable boot volume

How to troubleshoot "unmountable boot volume" in XP.

If you are unable to start Windows and get an error message saying you have an "unmountable boot volume," this can be caused by a corrupt boot.ini file or by a defective hard drive.

To troubleshoot the problem, do the following:

Boot into the recovery console at startup, using your Windows XP CD.

In the recovery console, type chkdsk /p If disk errors are discovered, you may need to replace the hard drive.
If no disk errors are discovered, reboot the computer and go back into the recovery console.
Type the following command at the command prompt:

bootcfg /rebuild

The bootcfg utility will scan the drive and display the results.

When the prompt asks if you want to add installation to the boot list (Yes/No/All), type Y and press ENTER.

When asked to "Enter Load Identifier," type the name of the operating system (for example, Windows XP Professional) and press ENTER.

When the prompt says "Enter OS Load options," type Fastdetect and press ENTER.

Remove the Windows XP installation CD from the drive and type Exit.

Reboot the computer. Windows XP should start normally.