George Phillips Computer Services

This is the online workshop of GeorgePhillipsComputerServices.com . Here I'll keep a blog of technical details and solutions I encounter in my business and other activities. These tips could prove useful to you and keep you up and running. If you do encounter problems beyond your scope of expertise I'm just a click away. I can support you remotely via my website or visit your location. Just contact me on the CONTACT ME page and I'll be in touch with you shortly.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Dell Latitude E6510 Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6200 AGN intermittently disconnects from wifi

I ran across a problem with this model laptop not connecting to our corporate wireless network or it would connect but disconnect intermittently. The laptop would, however, connect to our guest network which had no security. In a nutshell, the wifi driver for this adapter needs to be updated. Microsoft Update and the online checks indicate that the laptop has the latest version which was v13xxx. By visiting the Intel site directly at http://www.intel.com/support/detect.htm an updated wifi driver is needed and can be installed (v15xxx). After this upgrade the wifi connection works as expected.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Re-purpose Older Smart Phones

Have you ever wondered what you can do with your old smart phone after you upgrade to the newest model? You can turn it back into the store for a small credit (about $30) or sell it or leave it in a drawer OR you can turn it into a fully functional wifi device with text and call capabilities for FREE (well, except for the voip plan but it's very cheap) for your tween/teen who is itching for a smart phone but you don't want to pay for a data plan. Below are a few basic steps to get you on your way...at least with an Android device. iPhones aren't worth my time. :)

  • Upgrade your existing smart phone and transfer everything you need from the old one such as pictures and contacts. Move over your SD card, if necessary.
  • Restore your old phone to factory defaults so everything is erased and put back to good working order.
  • Go through the boot process and setup a Google account as well.
  • Install and configure Pinger for free texting. You'll also be issued a phone number so others can text you. Calling may be possible through Pinger as well but I prefer the app below.
  • Purchase a few dollars ($10 is plenty) of VoIP Phone time from a provider online. I used www.voipvoip.com. It costs less than 2 cent per minute and can be shared among multiple devices.
  • Install and configure Sipdroid for calling. Voipvoip.com has turorials to configure your specific device with their service.
That's really all you need to do to give your tween/teen a fully functional smart phone with phone and text capabilities. They can use all the apps such as Netflix, Angry Birds, Facebook, etc. as usual. The only catch is they have to be around a wifi connection. Since wifi is so prevalent these days it's a small trade-off and worth the savings of not buying a $60+/month data plan per person.

When your tween/teen is traveling with camp or sports sometimes it's important for them to be able to text or call when away from wifi. In that case, we have just added a basic phone to our plan for $10 per month without the data plan that they can share. Whichever one needs that capability takes that phone with them on the trip. It may be a little inconvenient at times but most of the time they're happy with their wifi smart phones and we're happy not having to pay for two additional data plans each month.

If anyone has other ideas to share on this topic I'd love to hear them. If someone can provide information from the iPhone world that would be helpful, too.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Manual Recovery from a Dell Vista Recovery Image - Step-by-Step

[The original document is located at http://www.goodells.net/dellrestore/vista/vistarecovery.shtml.]

The Dell Vista system can normally be restored to factory settings through a selection on the Vista Advanced Boot Options screen. To perform a factory restore, first try the F8 method, "Dell Factory Image Restore Option in the System Recovery Options Menu". If that doesn't work, next try the DVD method, "Run PC Restore From a Microsoft Windows Vista DVD".

Try the above two procedures first. If neither of those works, try directly accessing the factory image using the procedure below. Note this procedure assumes the Factory.wim file is still intact and has not been damaged.

(Note: Click on any image below to view a larger image. Click your browser's 'Back' button to return to this page.)




Screen 1: Boot from the Vista Recovery CD

Insert the Vista Recovery DVD in the CD/DVD drive.

Reboot the computer.

At the POST ("Power-On Self Test") screen with the giant Dell logo, press F12 a few times to get to the BIOS One-Time Boot Menu.

At the One-Time Boot Menu, select the option to boot from CD/DVD.

Press any key when you see the prompt, "Press any key to boot from CD or DVD.."

The Windows Recovery Environment will begin loading files.

Screen 2: Select your language.

Screen 3: Click the "Next" button to continue.
Screen 4: Select the option to "Repair your computer".

Screen 5: If you see this screen, click "No".

(We're going to restore the Vista partition from the Dell factory image, so we do not need to repair the existing Vista installation.)

Screen 6: Click the "Next" button to continue.

Screen 7: This is the main System Recovery Options menu.

We will use the "Command Prompt" option to perform the factory image restore. However, to avoid accidentally overwriting the wrong partition, it would be wise to first confirm the drive letters the Recovery Environment has assigned to the relevant partitions.

To check the drive letters, select the "Windows Complete PC Restore" option.

Screen 8: To check the drive letters, select the "Windows Complete PC Restore" option from the System Recovery Options menu.

If you see this dialog box, click the "Cancel" button to tell Windows to stop looking for a Windows backup.

("Retry" just returns to this same dialog box.)

Screen 9: Click the "Next" button to continue.

("Cancel" returns to the System Recovery Options menu.)

Screen 10: Click the "Advanced.." button.

("Cancel" returns to the System Recovery Options menu.)

Screen 11: Click "Install a driver" to continue.

(Note: we are not going to install a driver, but the other two options, "Search.." and "Cancel", will not let us continue.)

Screen 12: Click the "OK" button to continue.

("Cancel" returns to the System Recovery Options menu.)

Screen 13: Click the "Computer" button to show the drive letters that the Recovery Environment has assigned to the drives.

(Note: your computer may show different drive labels or sizes than shown in this example.)

On a Dell-configured hard disk, the main Vista OS partition will be identified as drive C: with the label "OS", and the Recovery partition will be identified as drive D: with the label "RECOVERY". If you have readjusted the partition layout, you may have different labels or drive letters.

You may double-click any drive letter icon to study the files and folders in each partition. Once you are satisfied that you know the drive letters of the Recovery partition and the partition we are going to overwrite, press "Cancel" until you return to the System Recovery Options menu (screen 7).

Screen 14: From the System Recovery Options menu, select the "Command Prompt" option. The following instructions assume the Recovery partition (as determined in screen 13) is drive D: and the Vista OS partition to be overwritten is C:.

At the command prompt, type "d:" and press [Enter].

At the 'D:\' command prompt, type "cd \tools" and press [Enter].

At the 'D:\Tools' command prompt, type the following command:
  imagex  /apply  d:\dell\image\factory.wim  1  c:\  
When you press the [Enter] key, the ImageX utility will begin overwriting the C: partition with the contents of the Factory.wim image.

Finished.

The Vista OS partition should now be restored to its contents as it was when originally shipped.

Reboot and the computer should boot into Vista.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Easy way to find Server / PC serial number

Many times I find myself needing the serial number of a remote server or pc. Below is a simple command line that will provide the information quickly and easily.

C:\>wmic

wmic:root\cli>systemenclosure get serialnumber

SerialNumber
xxxxxxxx

wmic:root\cli>exit

C:\>

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

No network connectivity - IPSEC Event ID's 7023, 4292

I ran into an issue with a few servers that shutdown unexpectedly. After rebooting the servers appeared to boot normally but would lose network connectivity during the bootup process. I noticed that the IPSEC service would not start with Error 2: The system cannot find the file specified. This is also associated with Event ID 7023. Also in the Windows logs was Event ID 4292 which states that the IPSEC driver has entered Block mode. That error indicates that all inbound and outbound TCP/IP traffic is being blocked.

To resolve this issue I followed the solution in Microsoft KB article 870910 at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/870910 . I noticed, however, that the servers didn't have the key indicated in step one so I skipped that part and went to step two to register the dll (regsvr32 polstore.dll) and that resolved the issue for me. Once the dll was registered successfully I was then able to start the IPSEC service and connectivity was restored. I rebooted again for good measure.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Ubuntu Customization

To add effects run the command below:

sudo apt-get install compiz compiz-plugins compiz-gnome compiz-core emerald compiz-fusion-plugins-main compiz-fusion-plugins-extra fusion-icon compizconfig-settings-manager

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Blank Screen with Blinking Cursor

This is not a pretty site. After trying to boot your pc all you see is a blank, black screen with a white, flashing cursor in the upper-left corner. Below are the steps I took to resolve this issue in Windows 7 (should work in Vista as well, not sure about XP).

-Enter the Recovery Console (boot from the Vista/Win7 dvd, system repair, command prompt)

-Type both commands below at the command prompt:
bootrec /fixboot
bootrec /fixmbr

-Exit the Recovery Console and reboot

That most likely has resolved the issue and the pc will now boot normally. If not you may also have to enter Safe Mode and disable UAC.