Google Apps Slow in Chrome?

December 6th, 2012 by Keith No comments »

gmail-still-workingMy office-mate and I had been having issues for ages when using Google Apps (Gmail and Docs/Drive especially) in Google Chrome. We’d get periodic timeouts, or just general slowness for a few minutes, and then everything would come back fine again. When this occurred, it would be next to impossible to open a Google Doc, and trying to send an email with even a small (~300KB) attachment would take 2-3 minutes.

After testing using Firefox for a few days, it was clear that the issue was only related to Google Chrome. How can Google’s web applications not work correctly in their own browser, you ask? Turns out that the traffic shaping used by some ISPs can affect Chrome’s SSL implementation.

If you’re running into this issue, just add the following command line switch to your Chrome shortcut:

--use-system-ssl

chrome-shortcut-use-system-ssl

We enabled it a few weeks ago, and haven’t had any issues since. Problem solved! Although a better solution would be for our ISP to stop the bogus throttling.

Good on you, Samsung!

November 8th, 2012 by Keith 3 comments »

Over the last few months, my Samsung TV had been having an issue that would cause it to turn off and on 6-8 times before actually staying on. After searching the web for the symptoms, I found that this was a common issue, but since my TV was out of warranty, figured I was out of luck.

A few days later, this post from Ars Technica showed up in my RSS feed: How Samsung spent $300 fixing my out-of-warranty TV’s “click of death”

While my TV wasn’t clicking, it was experiencing the other symptoms mentioned in the article. My TV’s exact model code was not in the list of TVs that Samsung was fixing for free, as they were only listing US model codes, due to a class-action lawsuit in the US. I decided to give Samsung Canada a call anyways, to see if there was anything they could do. After telling the support rep the symptoms, he immediately identified the issue as the one they are fixing for free, and they dispatched the repair to a local shop here in town.

I received a call the next day from the local repair shop, and they came out the day after that. About 45 minutes later, the TV was all fixed up, completely free of charge. I must say that I’m totally impressed with the customer service that Samsung (and the local shop here in town) provided. I would never have thought that my out of warranty TV would get fixed up at no cost to me, so kudos to them for taking ownership of an obvious manufacturing flaw!

Windows 8 Xbox Music Streaming Error

November 5th, 2012 by Keith No comments »

Xbox-MusicGetting this error when trying to stream music in the Xbox Music app for Windows 8?

0xc00d11cd (0x8000ffff)

If so, it may be due to your audio drivers not supporting the protected audio stream. If you’re like me and upgraded to Windows 8, you might find that there aren’t any newer sound card drivers available. Luckily, there’s an easy solution, assuming you’re comfortable with editing the registry:

  1. Open regedit and navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Audio.
  2. Change the DisableProtectedAudioDG value from 1 to 0 and reboot.

Bam! Free streaming music on sound cards with outdated drivers.

Certified Awesome: LogMeIn Security Features

March 6th, 2011 by Keith No comments »

LogMeIn LogoI’ve been a user of LogMeIn for years, but recently decided to review the various additional security settings that are available. Here’s a breakdown of the settings I’ve enabled:

  • Two-factor Authentication: After entering my user/pass to get onto logmein.com, a code gets sent to my BIS e-mail address, which can only be accessed from my BlackBerry. I have to enter the code correctly before being shown my list of computers.
  • Personal Password: I’ve entered a personal password into the settings for each computer running LogMeIn that cannot be accessed by LogMeIn employees because it’s stored on the computer being accessed, not on their servers. When trying to connect to the computer, I’m required to enter a subset of the characters in the code. The interesting thing to note here is that you select the characters from drop down lists, so they cannot be recorded by a keylogger. Also, because you’re only entering a subset of the characters in the code, someone looking over your shoulder will not know the entire code.
  • After that, I’m still required to enter the password of a user account on my computer (or a domain account if the computer is part of a domain).

So there’s four pieces of information that are required to access any of the machines in my account, including one physical piece (the BlackBerry with access to the BIS account). In addition to that I’ve also enabled the following settings:

  • E-mail notifications for everything from changing settings on the account, failed logins, etc. I’m even notified via e-mail for successful logins, so if by some freak chance someone actually managed to login to my account, I’ll get notified immediately. All notifications list the public IP from which the access was made.
  • Blank the computer screen while it’s in use, and give priority to the remote user over the console user. This prevents anyone who has physical access to the computer from viewing and hijacking your remote session.
  • Lock the computer upon any remote session disconnection, including graceful logouts.

In addition to this, you can configure the following settings if you so desire:

  • Limit connections to specified IP addresses. This will limit the locations from which someone can even attempt to access the machine from.
  • Require console user consent when accessing. Useful in a work scenario where you might have someone in the office 24/7 and you want to require that they physically go to the console to allow your remote access request. You could then also have a written IT policy to require that the request is only accepted after verifying the requester’s identity over the phone with a security question.
  • Record the screen during all sessions. This way if multiple users have remote access to the machine, you can audit their work.

Sounds pretty secure, no? Post your thoughts and opinions in the comments if you’re so inclined.

On a side note, one of the best features of LogMeIn is the Wake-on-LAN support. As long as you have one computer on a particular subnet turned on and running LogMeIn, you can power on any other computers on the same subnet that are running LogMeIn and have WOL enabled in the BIOS. This works great in a home or office scenario where workstations might be configured for standby on idle but some machines are left running 24/7. You can remotely wake any of the sleeping machines right from the LogMeIn website.

 

Recycle Bin Sadness

August 8th, 2010 by Keith No comments »

Recycle BinToday I needed to free up some disk space on my data partition, so I ran a scan using JDiskReport in order to map out which folders are taking up the most space, and I came across something peculiar. I found that the D:\$RECYCLE.BIN folder was taking up 50GB of space, even though the Recycle Bin appeared to be empty. Upon navigating into the D:\$RECYCLE.BIN folder in JDiskReport, I found that there were 3 different folders that were named for different user SID’s on the system. I didn’t bother to try and find out which users these SID’s belong to, or what was in the folders, but the remedy was simple. I just opened up a command prompt and ran the following command:

  • rd /s D:\$RECYCLE.BIN

After confirming the action, the 50GB was returned to the free disk space and I was happy once again. Make sure to substitute the D: in the above command with whatever drive your Recycle Bin is taking up space on. Also note that this was done on Windows 7. I would assume the same command will work on Windows Vista but I have not confirmed it.

Now that the space has been cleared up, I’ve also reduced the amount of space the Recycle Bin can consume to 10GB. This is done by right-clicking the Recycle Bin on the Desktop, choosing Properties, and setting the size in MB.

Custom Remote Desktop Screen Resolutions

February 24th, 2010 by Keith No comments »

RDP-Icon

When using Windows’ Remote Desktop Connection to access other Windows machines, I don’t like to have it running full screen, as I’m usually working with many other applications on my local computer at the same time. My primary monitor resolution is set to 1680×1050, but with the taskbar and the RDC window border and title bar, I can’t set the RDC resolution to 1280×1024 without having to scroll to see everything. The next step down in the RDC options is 1280×720, which is a bit too disproportionate for me.

Long story short, you can actually set the RDC window to whatever resolution you desire, using a couple of switches for mstsc.exe (the executable for the Remote Desktop Connection application).

Use the /w: switch to set the width, and the /h: switch to set the height. Simple enough, right? The example below would launch the RDC application with the resolution of your RDC window set to 1280×925. Note that the custom resolution won’t show up in the options for your session, but when you connect to your computer of choice, the window will be the size you specified.

  • mstsc.exe /w:1280 /h:925

64-bit System Limited to 3GB of RAM?

February 15th, 2010 by Keith 1 comment »

SODIMM Here’s an interesting tidbit of information that I wasn’t aware of. Apparently your system memory isn’t only limited by your 32-bit operating system. I installed 4GB of RAM into a system the other day and installed Windows 7 64-bit, and found that the System Properties page showed 4GB installed, but only 3GB usable. What gives?

SystemProperties

As it turns out, the amount of usable memory can be limited by the chipset, as well as the BIOS. In my case, the Intel 945 chipset only supports a 4GB address space. Since memory on other hardware devices (i.e. video cards) needs to be mapped somewhere in that address space, some of it is reserved, and cannot be used by the operating system.

ResourceMonitor

Now, if your chipset supports more than 4GB of address space, the BIOS still needs to support memory remapping. The memory remapping feature allows for the other hardware devices to use memory addresses above the 4GB limit, thus allowing the operating system to use all 4GB of system memory. I’m assuming that if the chipset supports more than 4GB of address space, then the BIOS should support memory remapping, but you know what happens when you assume.

What’s interesting to note, and makes perfect sense once you think about it, is that if your amount of system memory is equal to the amount of address space supported by your chipset, then your operating system will never be able to use all of the system memory. Again, this is because of the reserved address space for other hardware in the system.

Microsoft’s knowledge base article #929605 has a good explanation of the requirements for making 4GB or more available to the operating system.

CPU Fan Keeps Running After Windows 7 Shutdown

January 24th, 2010 by Keith 2 comments »

Win7Logo I ran into a strange issue the other day and thought I would share the solution. I had a laptop with Windows 7, and occasionally after shutting it down, everything would look like it was off, but the laptop stayed hot and the CPU fan would continue to run until the battery died.

I managed to duplicate the issue on another laptop, also running Windows 7. What was also interesting is that both laptops were configured with BitLocker for full disk encryption.

After some searching, I came across a Microsoft hotfix that resolves that specific issue on Windows 7 computers running BitLocker. Microsoft doesn’t include a cause in the information for the hotfix, so I have no idea what the actual issue is, but at least there’s an easy fix for it.

The hotfix is provided in article ID 975496 and can be found at the link below:

Enabling Windows Installer in Safe Mode

January 10th, 2010 by Keith 1 comment »

Windows Installer Box Where has this been all my life? I can’t count the number of times I’ve needed to uninstall something that won’t allow a computer to boot normally, yet in Safe Mode I can’t uninstall it because the program uses the Windows Installer service which by default won’t run in Safe Mode. I finally got around to looking into it and now I can uninstall anything in Safe Mode to my heart’s content.

For those wishing to enable the Windows Installer service in Safe Mode, add the following registry keys and set their Default value to ‘Service’. The first key is for plain Safe Mode, the second key is for Safe Mode with Networking.

  • HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SafeBoot\Minimal\MSIServer
  • HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SafeBoot\Network\MSIServer

The screenshot below shows what this should look like in regedit.

image

After you’ve done that, run the following command to start the Windows Installer service.
  • net start msiserver

You should now be able to run any installer or uninstaller that uses the Windows Installer service in Safe Mode.

WordPress for Blackberry, Finally!

July 7th, 2009 by Keith No comments »

wordpress_logo This is something so fantastic, I had to revive my blog just to talk about it. There’s finally an official Blackberry WordPress app! It’s currently in beta, but so far it’s working like a champ. If your Blackberry runs OS 4.2.1 or higher, point your Blackberry browser to http://blackberry.wordpress.org/install to install it. I wrote this post on my 8830, and if all goes well, it will actually make it onto the site.