Archive | Review RSS for this section

Toshiba Satellite M50-187 Reinstall: How could such a simple procedure be so difficult?

As you may have gathered, I repair computers for a living, among other things.

In this pursuit, with Windows computers, I frequently end up re-installing Windows fresh, meaning I back up the user’s data, erase the hard disk, install Windows, drivers and applications. Then I restore the user’s data. It’s a pretty standard thing and I’ve gotten quite adept at it.

For the most part, manufacturers are quite helpful by having all the drivers for a particular model easily locatable and downloadable. My Google search history is littered with searches like “lenovo thinkpad driver download” “dell inspiron 1540 driver download” and so on.

Naturally, yesterday after re-installing Windows XP on this Toshiba, I googled “toshiba satellite m50-187 driver download” and that’s when my troubles began. I’ve tried so many things at this point, that it’s hard to recall the exact steps, but i’ll try.

Toshiba Switzerland Driver Download pageI did get to the product page for the correct laptop, but only several hours later did I see the link to “Driver Downloads” over to the right in a neutral color. Meanwhile, I did see the horizontal menu option that said “Support & Downloads,” so I hovered over that and saw “Driver Downloads” and I got the following page.

Since this is a laptop, when I saw “Notebook” I selected it and then chose Product Family (“Satellite”), then Product Series (“M Series”), but then the only option was “Satellite M840” and I have the M50. Argh! (I found out much later that instead of picking “Notebook” I should have chosen “Archive” presumably because I’m supposed to know the life cycle of Toshiba’s products and realize that it’s no longer a notebook, but it’s now an archived product. <sigh>)

I clicked on the Support & Downloads option above and with three levels of filtering (“Satellite”, “Satellite M50”, “Satellite M50-187”) had the page I needed with the list of drivers. Yay!

No wireless driver!I downloaded them all and installed them one after the other, as I do all the time. Except…. There is no wireless card driver. There is a Wireless LAN Client Manager, but it’s hard to manage a device that’s not installed and working. I did try downloading this and installing it, but actually it made things worse: Windows User Fast Switching was disabled, it couldn’t be uninstalled, etc.

So, I dug into my bag of tricks and visited pcidatabase.com. I plugged in the Vendor and Device ID found in Device Manager, and found it was the Intel Pro/Wireless 2200bg device. I went to the Intel Driver Update Utility Wireless page, asked to have my device auto-identified and guess what? It couldn’t. No information whatsoever.

So, I tried to download it manually. I tried downloading from the Intel site, from other Toshiba sites, from cnet.download.com. Eventually, I did manage to download the driver I needed. Or I thought I needed. And when I installed it, things looked good. The yellow question mark in the Device Manager disappeared, but I still couldn’t use it. Disabled. Failed. Grrrrr.

Finally, I confirmed that I had uninstalled all the drivers that I had previously tried and uninstalled this last driver as well. I rebooted, installed, saw the good indications that things were going right and rebooted. Wonderfully, it worked.

No thanks to Toshiba. No thanks to Intel.

But, come on, I do this for a living and had such a headache, can you imagine someone trying to do it themselves?!?

 

 

Advertisements

Laptop users: Prey Project, a free anti-theft solution

The other day, I was WhatsApp’ing a friend of mine in Norway. She told me she was at work – on a weekend? – and that she had just frightened a burglar away, but he had nonetheless managed to steal a laptop.

My immediate response was, for the future, install and configure Prey Project which is a free anti-theft service. I’m not sure I agree with the word “anti-theft,” but in case of theft, Prey Project might help you by gathering and providing you with data.

Here’s how it works.

You download and install a tiny piece of software which will run in the background. As part of the installation, you provide an email address and a password which is used to create an account on Prey Project’s website. You receive an email to activate the account.

The whole process takes about 5-10 minutes, from download through to activation. From now on, your laptop will periodically check with the website, essentially asking ”

Have I been reported as stolen? No? Oh, ok. Good. I’ll go back to sleep.”

What happens next is…not much. That is, until your laptop gets stolen.

As soon as you realize that your laptop has been stolen, run – don’t walk – to their web site, log in and “report” your laptop as being stolen. Now, the next time your laptop asks “Have I been reported as stolen?” it will be told that indeed it has and it will start to collect data: geolocation data, network information (such as the name of the wireless network it’s connected to, IP addresses, nearby wireless hotspots), screenshot, picture of user from webcam (don’t put tape over your webcam!), and other info. You have access to this data and can print it and take it to the police so they have something to work with.

It’s not an anti-theft solution, but it does give you a fighting chance to get your laptop back.

Highly recommended. Works on Windows, Mac OS X, Ubuntu, Linux, Adroid and soon, iOS. Although I am directing this towards laptop users, it does work with desktops, too. It’s just that laptops are easier to steal.

 

iBank 3 Review: on Mac OS X Lion (10.7.x) and iPhone

Some time ago, I purchased iBank to keep track of my finances. During the Eighties, Nineties and Naughties, I used, recommended, and even sold Quicken, but I forget why I decided to change this time around.

In any case, I was able to keep track of my finances both on my MacBook Pro and also on my iPhone. Any transactions entered on one would be automagically sync’d to the other either via MobileMe or directly when on the same WiFi network. Great stuff.

But, the iPhone version has some noticeable bugs and problems. To this day, and I’ve tried it on iPhone 2G, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3Gs and now iPhone 4S, I cannot enter a Deposit directly. I have to select “POS” or “Withdrawal” or something with a negative number, then I can decide that it’s a Deposit. If I select “Deposit” first, it simply won’t let me enter anything. Weird.

Furthermore, it seems to me that I should select the Payee first…based on previously entered transactions, the program should know that BP is a POS transaction, category is Auto:Fuel, etc. Or if payee is Client, then it should be a Deposit, category Salary, etc.

Then, there’s the program on the Mac.

I wish you could drag and drop transactions from one account to another. Sometimes, I’m  entering 5 or 10 transactions, some are Cash and others are Debit Card. If I mistakenly enter a transaction in Cash, but it should be in the other account, I can’t drag and drop it into the correct account.

While typing this, I discovered that I can copy and paste the transaction, which is already something. However, when I do so, I have to go search for the transaction; the window does not scroll automatically to the new transaction. In fact, there seems to be a lot of unnecessary scrolling in the program.

Another thing I wish they’d fix is with dates. When I press up/down arrow on the date, I want it to be intelligent….Pressing “up” when it says 01 march 2012 should take me to 29 Feb, not 31 march. The date should be treated as one item, not three separate data pieces.

But, here’s the reason I am writing this post: iBank 3 on Mac OS X 10.7.x (Lion). For me, it was crashing all the time when I quit the program. It would freeze for about 10 seconds and then I’d get the crash message: Ignore, Reopen, etc.

I found out the problem. And the fix.

There is an issue with the “Sync devices on launch and quit” option. Turn it on – crash. Turn it off – smooth sailing.