My laptop power brick died on Friday – it took me a while to figure out why my screen kept going black after checking the power was plugged in at the wall and at the laptop. The weird thing is that the brick bleeps – it almost sounds like a ticking time bomb, even though it doesn’t provide power (or turn the green led on) We tried various psu’s at the office but it seems that nearly every type of dell laptop we have uses a different power brick that aren’t compatible.
I checked on Dell’s website yesterday for the latest wifi drivers for the Inspiron 600m to fix the widely reported vulnerabilitys. Dell has a driver available but when you download the file, you can extract the files from it. However double clicking on the setup program causes the dellinfo.exe program to crash followed by a message stating “Error – This installer does not support installation on this computer.”
So far I’ve chatted with about 3 people on the dell chat program. The scary thing was when a tech asked me “Why is it your downloading the driver if the wireless card is ok?” – I had to (patiently) explain that I’m trying to download a driver to patch the critical vulnerability that is (from the readme) “Urgent = Dell highly recommends applying this update as soon as possible. The update contains changes to improve the reliability and availability of your Dell system.”
His solution was to send me the driver cd but we got cut off before we managed to exchange shipping address’s.
I checked the driver on another inspiron 600m this morning and the dellinfo.exe crashed on this machine but it tried to install the drivers but failed to do so with 2 more crashes that were reported to microsoft.
I tried chat this morning and the tech stated that the driver may be corrupt and I would need to contact customer care to report this. I called the customer care line 1 800 456 3355×7241969 who then after not understanding a word I was talking about put me through to support who then told me that they had put me through to the wrong department and I’m now on hold again – awaiting to put me through to the wireless support card. They can’t support me as apparently someone else installed the driver “2 hours ago” and therefore the download must be ok. A conference call to hardware support was the next step. Unfortunately hardware support were too busy to answer the phone so the tech guided me to the intel website and I downloaded the driver from the driver page on intel.com. Whilst I was downloading this driver my boss tripped over the phone cable, pulled the phone off the desk and hung up – I let out an involuntary wail as it was the end of 90 minutes with “technical hold support”. However the wireless drivers from Intel loaded ok but interestingly the windows driver version is the same as the version that I was currently running (188.8.131.52), but the Intel Wireless software (an alternative to Windows Wireless configuration utility) was upgraded a couple of versions to 10.5.0.3.
Note that if you scroll down on the driver page you can actually just download the windows driver by itself (something I should have done as I don’t use the IBM configuration software as the Windows Management software is easier to use as it is standard across all the laptops.
Bios’s can be reset in Dell Dimensions using the following obscure key combo –
Turn on Caps Lock, Scroll Lock and Num lock.
Press Alt-E, Alt-F and Alt-B.
The Dell will then reboot with factory defaults.
1. If a computer freezes every 20 minutes, is it safe to upgrade the bios (which might solve the problem)? A tricky question and in my case, the answer is no. The computer crashed during the bios update and consequently was Columbus’ biggest doorstop. Fortunately I had made sure the machine was under warranty before I began but still had to endure a 45 minute phone call with Dell as they troubleshooted the call. The last 2 minutes went something like this
Dell: Sounds like you need a new motherboard.
Dell: Sounds like you knew I was going to say that.
The engineer will be on site tomorrow to swap out the part although they asked if I wanted to do it. Very cheeky on their part seeing as though the company is paying for the warranty and the coverage – why do their job for them? That and the engineer can sit and wait whilst the lengthy diagnostics runs and I won’t.
2. If you use Lotus Notes as your mail client and synchronise your databases to the server, it doesn’t synchronise your address book (which doesn’t need a replica on the server either to confuse matters). Instead you go to Actions/Synchronise Address Book. Why you have to do this I don’t know *cough* you don’t have to do that in outlook you know – its all included in the synchronisation/offline capabilities *cough*. I’ve also not worked out how to get that command onto a toolbar so I have one click access rather than going to the menu to do it (or even better to automatically do it). I’ve also yet to work out what they synchronise journal does as I dont see an option for a journal in my notes client – this notes client lark is a steep learning curve.
3. If users complain they can’t see unread email in outlook, make sure that the messages view does NOT have the “Use Group” menu item selected otherwise it is possible to hide last weeks mail, including unread emails, in this one line within the view (and its too complicated for the users to go to the unread emails view)
What a nightmare restoring a pocketpc is. After my previous hard reset and reinstalling the apps on the pocketpc I realised I didn’t have access to the notes, contacts or diary in the pocketpc. This didn’t use to be a problem as all the data was synched up to my outlook account, but now that I am on my home pc I don’t use outlook – and therefore no computer based backup of the data. It would have been possible to restore the data from the pocketpc backup that I had taken but this would roll me back to the state where MediaPlayer would not launch so that wasn’t really what I wanted. It took about an hour of searching in google but eventually I came across Sunnysoft’s backup manager that enables you to backup your pocketpc and more importantly do a selective restore. I restored the full backup from the pocketpc backup, then used Sunnysoft to backup the data to the SD card and make the backup an executable (a VERY smart feature). I then hard reset the axim, installed the applications that I had previously installed with this computer (which is very easy as I just had to reselect the programs within activesync) and then double clicked on sunnysofts backup file. I then said No to restoring everything, selected the tasks, contacts, calendar and all of my documents and a minute or so later I was prompted to reboot and the pocketpc is back to a fully functioning state.
Backup manager is a free trial download (and saved my bacon) and is usable for 14 days after which you need to register. This application also has the ability to automatically copy the backups over to the pc for further offline backup.
I tried to use orb on the pocketpc last night and the pictures worked great but I had no video. This is due to the nasty bug that occurs when media player immediately closes when it is launched. This is apparently to do with a corrupt default skin or missing shortcut -both of which I checked and neither of these “solutions” fixed the problem. The only other solution was to hard reset the axim. So that is what I did about 10 minutes ago (after doing a backup which took a couple of hours). Now, I can watch movies in media player so I just have to reinstall all the apps again – ugh.
I decided to reinstall the pocketpc today with a factory reset and then a reinstall of the programs. I had found that Word, notes and contacts were hanging when I went to save them and Microsoft Media Player just wouldn’t start up.
Therefore I’ve reinstalled the following apps:-
MS Activation for reader ( to read the occasional ebook)
TomTom GPS + CityMaps (the maps were already saved to SD card so that cut down on backup/installation time)
MagiButton (allow proper close of applications)
Macromedia Flash player
Adobe Reader 7
GPX Sonar (old beta version as the newest only works on pocketpc2003)
kevtris (essential for those 10 minute breaks)
PocketWarrior – wifi checker
Pocket Streets & Trips 2005. Even though I got the USA version, there are uk maps to download!
total commander – file utility
Windows Theme Switch Today
Real Audio for PocketPC
Update After all that the pocketpc is still hanging – BUT I’ve found out that it only hangs if I have the SD card in the slot. If I power off the Axim, remove the sd card and then power it back on again, the axim resumes where it was and *instantly* saves the file. Now to work out why it does this in Word and notes (that I’ve discovered so far). The SD card is fine as the other apps seem to write to it ok (Thanks to treasure realm by deleting ignore_my_documents from the root of the SD card Word now works great! (So I’ve just wasted 4 hours restoring and wiping,reinstalling and wiping)