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Documenting Problems That Were Difficult To Find The Answer To

Monthly Archives: December 2011

OpenWRT on Buffalo WZR-HP-G300NH 10.03.1

I browsed the OpenWRT website today and noticed that the final release of version 10.03.1 of OpenWRT was made available yesterday!

So I downloaded http://downloads.openwrt.org/backfire/10.03.1/ar71xx/openwrt-ar71xx-wzr-hp-g300nh-jffs2-sysupgrade.bin and then logged into my router running 10.03.1-rc6, navigated to the “System” tab, then the “Backup/Flash Firmware” tab, then clicked “Generate archive” to take a backup of my configuration, and then submitted the firmware image I downloaded above.

The flash procedure takes several minutes – the first minute or two the router appears to be functioning as normal – and traffic still flows through the router as if nothing has changed. But eventually the router reboots – and takes a little while to power up.

One the router is back up my attached computers (Windows 7 and Ubuntu server) did not detect that the Ethernet was back up – so I unplugged all the Ethernet cables in the back of the router and plugged them all back in.

Running fine now!

Acronis True Image Not Completing FTP Backups

Today I started making backups over FTP over a home LAN. It was a very simple LAN. Computer A connected to a gigabit Ethernet switch which connected to FTP Server B.

I attempted to make a disk backup to my FTP server on ftp://192.168.177.62:2121/ using Acronis True Image Home 2011. My FTP server was the Java-based Apache FTP server running as a simple anonymous FTP server.

Every time I attempted this transfer the log would indicate successful transfer of files (at around 250Mbit/s over the gigabit Ethernet link) but then there would be the same 3 entries:


Pending operation 144 started: 'Saving partition structure'.
Failed to open data stream.
Operation has completed with errors.

Looking around on various posts there was a suggestion that Acronis True Image 2011 had problems when it came to erasing old backups. In this case I was making a fresh backup – and I realised that FTP may not report free space on disk. So I used options that would prevent True Image from querying the free space left on the FTP server.

  • on my backup I clicked on the Operations drop down and selected “Edit backup settings”
  • because this was a disk backup I clicked the “Disk backup options” link on the bottom left hand corner of the “Configure disk backup process” dialog
  • I selected the “Backup scheme” tab and chose “Single version scheme” (because the Version chain scheme attempts to delete versions 6 months old)
  • under the “Advanced” tab I expanded the “Error handling” drop down and unclicked (ensured it wasn’t selected) “When not enough space in ASZ, delete the oldest backup”

These two changes seemed adequate and my next FTP backup completed successfully.

Trying to Move Windows 7 Disk to SSD

Using a disk cloning tool called Acronis True Image Home I cloned my Seagate Hard Disk Drive (HDD) onto a OCZ Agility 3 120GB SSD.

However when I tried to boot off the SSD I got the following error (after successfully entering the Truecrypt disk enryption password):

Windows failed to start. A recent hardware or software change might be the cause. To fix the problem:

1. Insert your windows installation disc and restart your computer.
2. Choose your language settings, and then click next
3. Click “repair your computer.”

Status: 0xc000000e
Info: The boot selection failed because a required device is inaccessible.

I have a legitimate copy of Windows 7 but no DVD drive handy. So instead I booted into Knoppix and issued the following commands:

cd /tmp
dd if=/dev/sda of=sda-mbr bs=512 count=1

to save a copy of the master boot record (MBR) of the HDD (where the HDD was /dev/sda).

Then I typed:

cd /tmp
dd if=sda-mbr of=/dev/sdb bs=512 count=1

to write that MBR onto the SSD (where /dev/sdb was the SSD). It appeared the problem was that Windows 7 didn’t like the SSD having a different disk identifier to the original disk. Booted fine after that!

Attempting to Boot a Truecrypt Encrypted Drive That Isn’t Encrypted

Today, after restoring a partition using Acronis True Image Home 2011 (a paid-for product), I rebooted and was presented with the Truecrypt bootloader screen that asked me for my Truecrypt password. I duly typed in my password and then was confronted with the following boot error that I’d never seen before:

No physical memory is available at the location required for the windows boot manager. The system cannot continue.

My backup was actually an unencrypted backup. Thus when I restored I had the Truecrypt bootloader but an unencrypted restored partition. All I had to do was skip the Truecrypt bootloader and the unencrypted restored partition booted into Windows 7 just fine.

When one makes a backup from within Windows 7 of an encrypted (Truecrypt) partition they are actually making an unencrypted backup because the True Image program is operating within the running Windows 7 environment (the Truecrypt drivers making the drive appear unencrypted to the Operating System when, in fact, the drive is encrypted at a low level).

It is only if you use the True Image boot disk (or boot USB) to make a backup of an encrypted partition sector-by-sector that your backup is of the encrypted partition.

The Automobile Association Spamming Personal Mobile Phones with SMSs

After not being a customer of The AA (The Automobile Association) in the UK for over 3 years I received a marketing SMS (text) direct to my personal mobile phone today. The text read:

Bad driving weather forecast, make sure you’re covered! AA Breakdown Cover from £39 and £20 Boots voucher.Call 08002944673. To end SMS mkting, text STOP to 88779

From TheAA, sent 15:36, 14 December 2011.

This makes me very angry. No company should be sending advertising to personal mobile phones. Especially after no contact for years!

I stopped being a customer of The AA when they stopped accepting normal methods of pay. They only accept direct debit – putting them (not you, the customer) in control of your own bank account! I don’t hand over control of my bank account to anybody.

Several years ago Carphone Warehouse started bombarding me with marketing SMS messages (even though I’d never been a customer!) and I’ve never stepped foot in a Carphone Warehouse store since. I will never be a customer of The AA ever again.

I strongly recommend you boycott The AA because of their dirty and disrespectful campaigns! When a company stops being about service and becomes all about manipulation and profit – you know it is time to quit!

Really Clean Up Firefox Cache

I’m using Firefox 8 (by the time you read this blog the version number may well be something far greater, 25 or 26, 100? Why didn’t they just keep calling it 2.x or 3.x? Absurd!).

When you press ctrl-shift-delete and clear all history for all time for the cache or history are you surprised to find that detailed information is still kept in D:\Users\username\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\profilenumber.default\places.sqlite for example?

The truth is that Firefox merely instructs the database to mark entries as deleted – but they are not actually removed from the file. You have to perform what is known as a “VACUUM” on the file – which rebuilds the database file from the existing – but more compact and without the data you thought you deleted.

So how do you do this “VACUUM” command? You need to download a program called sqlite3.exe (for Windows) or build your own sqlite3 for unix/linux. See the sqlite website for more details.

Once this program is in your PATH you can scan your disk drive for all *.sqlite files and perform a “VACUUM” on them.

Microsoft Windows

Copy and paste the following text into a file called cleanup_sqlite.bat:

@echo off

for /f "delims=" %%a IN ('dir /s /b *.sqlite') do call :doit "%%a"

goto EOF

:doit

echo --- %1
H:\utils\sqlite3 %1 VACUUM

goto EOF

:EOF

Then start a command line process (e.g. press Start -> Run -> type cmd.exe and press enter). Change to the drive you want to scan (usually C: but sometimes D: in corporates) – and type cleanup_sqlite and this script will search for sqlite files to VACUUM.

If you see the following message:
  Error: database is locked
then consider closing your browser before running the script another time.

It doesn’t hurt to run this batch file multiple times.

Linux

It is much easier to use the find command to find .sqlite files to process. The following script should do it:

#!/bin/bash

find . -type f -name '*.sqlite' \
    |xargs -I{} \
    nice sh -c "echo \"{}\"; sqlite3 \"{}\" VACUUM"

HTC ChaCha Update 2.3.5 Severely Broken

DO NOT UPGRADE THE HTC CHACHA TO VERSION 2.3.5!!!!!!!

I did this last night over the air. The phone has never been rooted or modded – it was bought without a contract so isn’t tied to any phone company. It was using the HTC software that came with the phone when purchased.

First problem after the upgrade was that it demanded a SIM PIN when there was none set on the phone. What happened? I locked the SIM and had to get the PUK.

After accepting the PUK the phone started up normally. I attempted to set a new SIM PIN. I was asked for the old SIM PIN. And locked my phone after trying unsuccessfully 3 times again.

(I think I know what I did wrong – when you enter your PUK you also enter the new PIN you want on the phone – but the initial enter PIN/enter PUK screen isn’t correctly dimensioned for the HTC ChaCha small display: there are no instructions – just a text box and the “next” or “ok” button – so it is impossible to know when the phone wants a PUK and when it wants a PIN – I just kept typing in the PUK over and over until it let me into the phone – again, shocking software testing issue when even the initial screens are unclear).

The WORST BUG is that every time I press a keyboard number or press the green button to make a call I get a window saying:

Sorry! The process android.process.acore has stopped unexpectedly. Please try again. Force close

The same error comes up if I try and start the “Phone” app.

If the phone is in standby and I wake it up to the password screen the “Emergency call” button does not respond. So you cannot make emergency calls using this software update either.

A phone that can’t make phone calls? I tried restarting the phone. And locked my SIM again (because I have no SIM PIN but the phone demands one irrespective of the fact none has been configured). I entered the PUK again. The phone still crashes every time I try and make a call!

This is as close to bricking a phone as is possible using an authorised software update.

Setting SIM Pin on CyanogenMod

  • press the emergency call button
  • enter **05*<PUK Code>*<enter a new pin>*<confirm the new pin>#

e.g. **05*12345678*1234*1234#
That set up the PIN and I was able to put my newly PIN-set SIM into my ChaCha and use the new PIN to get into the phone. However I still get a crash every time I attempt to dial a number.

Factory Reset

So my phone was as good as a brick. I had no choice but to factory reset it.

I turned the phone off. I held down the “volume down” key then held down the “power up” key until it went into boot mode – selected “clear user data” by using the volume up/down to navigate and the power button to select. Then the phone rebooted.

After going through the pain of adding all my accounts again – guess what: the phone still crashes when attempting to dial a number or make a call!

Here is the important information from the error report that the phone attempts to send to HTC:


  package name: com.android.htcdialer
  package version: 200176211
  package version name: 2.0.2120152869.176211
  process name: android.process.acore
  system app: true
  device: chacha
  Build ID: GRJ90
  model: HTC ChaCha A810e
  SDK version: 10
  release: 2.3.5
  incremental version: 189894.2
  brand: htc_europe
  exception class name: android.content.res.Resources$NotFoundException
  source class: android.content.res.Resources
  source method: loadDrawable
  line number: 1699
  error: java.lang.RuntimeException: Unable to start activity ComponentInfo{com.android.htcdialer/com.android.htcdialer.Dialer}: android.view.InflateException: Binary XML file line #10: Error inflating class <unknown>

Phone is now officially a brick. Even after a factory reset!

Work Around

This post has proved very popular – getting, typically 4-5 views daily, clearly a lot of you are suffering like me.

You can install a new dialer from the Marketplace – when you press the call (green) button the phone will give you a choice of which dialer application to use. Most appear to cost money or require Internet access – I found one that didn’t need either – but it only works in portrait mode – it was called “exDialer”.

Update 2012-02-20: I rooted and installed CyanogenMod onto my phone. Now it has a working dialer! I’ve documented the steps I went through in this post.

Godaddy Hijacked Control of my Domain

I have a .co.uk domain with Godaddy that expires on the 24th of this month. It is only the beginning of the month and yet I no longer have the ability to renew, unlock, or do anything with my .co.uk domain.

I’ve had e-mails warning me to renew before the expiry date. Yet my domain now has “Pending Expiration” status and I cannot do a single thing with it.

I’m extremely angry about this because I was waiting, diligently, to renew shortly before expiration. I do not want my domain – which is the same name as my limited liability business – stolen!

At no point did GoDaddy ever indicate it was going to hijack control of my .co.uk domain before expiration. This is outrageous and incredibly dishonest behaviour.

Update: there is a good news ending. I logged into my GoDaddy control panel, clicked “My Account”, and under my name and customer number clicked the link “Contact Support”. I requested the instructions on how to transfer – and the first reply was an offer to renew – upon which I sent a strongly worded e-mail reminding GoDaddy that my request was to transfer, not renew, and that my domain had still not expired.

GoDaddy then informed me I needed to request the IPSTAG to be set to whatever the new domain register’s tag would be. In my case I chose www.daily.co.uk to be my registrar and their IPSTAG is DAILY. So I replied to the support ticket requesting the IPSTAG to be set to DAILY. After 3 days they did so and I initiated the transfer from http://www.daily.co.uk.