Monday, 22 February 2010

Easily Test for 64bit Capability!

It's a simple question.  A question that seems to be popping up more and more these days.

"Can my laptop / desktop / server / whatever run a 64bit Operating System and applications?"

Here are the simplest ways I've found to quickly test whether the processor in any system is capable of running a 64bit OS and applications.  I'm sure there are other ways to discover the same, but these work for me and there is no reason why they shouldn't work for you too.

Luckily for us, these tests can be run without having to install any applications and can be run on whatever operating system you have running now.  No need to wipe your hard disk and test for 64bit operation the hard way!

Linux / VMware ESX
Open up a terminal prompt and enter the following command:
cat proc/cpuinfo
This will produce an output similar to the following:

The area of interest is "flags" list:

If the "lm" flag is listed, then your processor is capable for running 64bit OS and applications.  LM stands for 64bit Long Mode, details of which can be found at Wikipedia here

Hop over to Gibson Research Corp and grab yourself a copy of securable (115k).  This little program was written to, amongst other things, test for 64bit processing capability.  It doesn't need installing and can be run from USB if desired.

Example outputs are as follows:

Full details regarding Hardware D.E.P. and Hardware Virtualisation can be obtained by clicking on the respective titles in the Securable window.

No Operating System Installed
What?  You would like to test for 64bit compatibility before installing an OS?

Sure, no problem!  Head over to the Shared Utilities area on VMware's website.  Download their CPU Identification Utility (130Kb), extract cpuid.iso file from the zip and burn to CD.

Example output is as follows:

Again, if "longmode : Yes" then your processor is capable for running 64bit OS and applications.

That concludes our 64bit Operating System compatibility testing.  It's simple to test for 64bit when you know how!

- Chris

Monday, 8 February 2010

Google: Lesson in Advertising

As readers will know, advertising in general really does wind me up.

So, why prey tell am I posing an advert here?

Simple.  This advert typifies the exact kind of advertising I do like.

Don't get hung up on the product its selling, just enjoy it for its zero gimmicks, blaring noise or general overblown tripe:

Just show us the product, how it works and demonstrate how it impacts peoples lives.  It is a product we already know and use, so just reinforce why we use it.

Apparently this was shown during yesterday's Super Bowl. An oasis of calm in all that hell for leather flashy on screen graphics and on pitch fireworks.

Why can't all advertising be like this?

Go-Compare / Injury Lawyers for You / Money-Supermarket - You really really don't have a clue do you?

- Chris

Friday, 5 February 2010

Windows 7: Fix Wireless Trouble

With the proliferation of wireless networks, it is becoming more and more likely that if you live in upwards of a fairly well a populated area, you are going to have problems with your wireless LAN.

Problems that are likely to include random wireless drops, undetectable or uncontactable wireless networks, data throughput problems, etc etc.

The question is - what can be done to try and get to the bottom of these problems?

Perhaps the best place to start is to run a single command line tool to find out as much information as we can about:
  • Wireless adapter model
  • Adapter card driver details
  • Configured wireless LAN profile(s)
  • Full details of wireless networks currently visible
As you can see, quite a lot of information from a single command!

Historically to get this level of information, you would need to look in several places (device manager, wireless networking info) and install 3rd party applications such as NetStumbler etc.

OK, so how do you get all this info from the single command?  Easy peasy.
  1. Click Start (aka Windows Orb) and enter cmd into the text box and hit enter to open a command prompt
  2. Into the command prompt window, enter the command:
  3. netsh wlan show all >wireless.txt
  4. This will run the command and pipe the output of the command into the file wireless.txt for easy reading
  5. Still in the command prompt window, run
  6. notepad wireless.txt
  7. This will open the output from the "netsh wlan show all" command in notepad
With a bit of luck, you should now be looking at something that looks a bit like this:

============================== SHOW DRIVERS ===========================
Interface name: Wireless Network Connection

    Driver                    : Intel(R) PRO/Wireless 2200BG Network Connection
    Vendor                    : Intel Corporation
    Provider                  : Intel
    Date                      : Wed 19/12/2007
    Version                   :
    INF file                  : C:\Windows\INF\oem1.inf
    Files                     : 3 total
    Type                      : Legacy Wi-Fi Driver
    Radio types supported     : 802.11g 802.11b
    FIPS 140-2 mode supported : No
    Hosted network supported  : No
    Authentication and cipher supported in infrastructure mode:
                                Open            None
                                Open            WEP
                                Shared          None
                                Shared          WEP
                                WPA-Enterprise  TKIP
                                WPA-Enterprise  CCMP
                                WPA-Personal    TKIP
                                WPA-Personal    CCMP
                                WPA2-Enterprise TKIP
                                WPA2-Enterprise CCMP
                                WPA2-Personal   TKIP
                                WPA2-Personal   CCMP
    Authentication and cipher supported in ad-hoc mode:
                                Open            WEP
                                Shared          WEP
                                Open            None
                                Shared          None

============================= SHOW INTERFACES =========================
etc etc etc!


Channels in "SHOW NETWORKS MODE=BSSID" section
Find your wireless LAN and compare this to the channel details of the other wireless networks detailed in the results file.  If your wireless network is using the same channel as someone else's then change your wireless access point or router to use a different wireless channel.  

Signal strength in "SHOW NETWORKS MODE=BSSID" section
Yes I know the Windows 7 GUI gives you signal strength (and that's about all), but this method is more accurate.  Is the strength any good?  With a higher signal strength, is the wireless connection more stable?
    These two are the most likely culprits when it comes to unstable wireless connections.

    Some more advance troubleshooting includes: 

    Driver in "SHOW DRIVERS" section
    In my case:
          Driver                    : Intel(R) PRO/Wireless 2200BG Network Connection
          Vendor                    : Intel Corporation
          Provider                  : Intel
          Date                      : Wed 19/12/2007
          Version                   :
      Armed with this info, I can hit Intel's website and see if there is a newer version driver available and update.

      Alternatively, I could go to the Windows Update Catalogue and search for MS approved driver updates or hotfixes.  See here for how to use the catalogue.

      Basic Rate and Other Rate in "SHOW NETWORKS MODE=BSSID" section
      Try configuring your wireless card via device manager to run at one of the basic rates listed.  Does this make any difference?  Trial and error to see how fast you can go whilst remaining stable.

      As we have seen, by running one simple command you can grab all sorts of valuable wireless information and  have a real good stab at fixing wireless networking woes.

      If all else fails, then there is always Ethernet over power!

      - Chris

      Wednesday, 3 February 2010

      Blogger Related Posts Widget

      Do you like my latest addition?

      Yeah, I do too!

      In an effort to lower the bounce rate of this site, I found this excellent related posts widget.  The killer feature for me has to be the thumbnails.

      Web-surfing experience shows that everyone likes to click on a thumbnail!

      So, how is it done?

      Quite simple.  Head on over to this post at Blogger Widgets to see how and to get the code.  I'm not going to repost the article here, there really is no point.

      Rather than using the standard relatedthumbs21.js java file as used in the article, I downloaded  the original (available here), tweaked and re hosted it just as I did with the java files in my slimbox2 post.

      Here are the two changes to relatedthumbs21.js I made:

      Changed the link text from 35 characters:

      if(relatedTitles[relatedTitlesNum].length>35) relatedTitles[relatedTitlesNum]=relatedTitles[relatedTitlesNum].substring(0, 35)+"...";

      to 30 characters:

      if(relatedTitles[relatedTitlesNum].length>30) relatedTitles[relatedTitlesNum]=relatedTitles[relatedTitlesNum].substring(0, 30)+"...";

      This was because at 35 characters, the blue highlight background fails to cover the whole block of text:

      Also, 5 lines of link text looks (to me at least) a bit too much.

      The final change was to tweak the "Related Posts:" header.  Originally it was too big, too bold and looked (to me) in contention with the post titles.

      Again, quite simple. This:

      if(relatedTitles.length>0) document.write('
      < h2 >
      '+relatedpoststitle+'< /h2 >

      To this:

      if(relatedTitles.length>0) document.write(' '+relatedpoststitle+' ');

      Nice. Feel free to have a click around. There's much more to this blog than just one page you know!

      - Chris

      Monday, 1 February 2010

      How to Enable Access to Windows 7 Administrative Shares

      From Wikipedia:

      The administrative shares are the default network shares created by all Windows NT-based operating systems (NT / 2000 / XP / 2003 / Vista / Windows 7). These default shares share every hard drive partition in the system. These shares will allow anyone who can authenticate as any member of the local Administrators group access to the root directory of every hard drive on the system.

      Microsoft in their wisdom have added an additional step in the process required to enable Administrative shares in Windows 7.  Follows is the process required:

      1.  Enable Use Sharing Wizard
      • Click Start
      • Click Computer
      • Click Organize and Folder and Search Options
      • Select View tab
      • Ensure that Use Sharing Wizard is selected:
      • Click OK
      2.  Open Windows Firewall
      • Click Start 
      • Click Control Panel
      • Click Category and select Small Icons
      • Click Windows Firewall
      • Click Allow a Program or feature through Windows Firewall
      • Find File and Printer Sharing and enable Home/Work and Public network
      •  Click OK and close Control Panel
      3. Enable Local Account Token Filter Policy
      This is the new bit.
      • Click Start
      • Type regedit in the Start Search box, and then click regedit in the Programs list.
      • Expand the following subkey:
      • If the LocalAccountTokenFilterPolicy registry entry does not exist, follow these steps:
        1. On the Edit menu, click New, and then click DWORD Value
        2. Type LocalAccountTokenFilterPolicy, and then press ENTER
      • Right-click LocalAccountTokenFilterPolicy, and then click Modify
      • In the Value data box, type 1, and then click OK
      • Exit Registry Editor
      Job done.  No need to reboot.

      For further reading on see KB951016

      Apparently you also had to do this to enable access to Administrative Share in Vista too...  But who cares about that?

      - Chris

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