Archive for the ‘windows’ Category

Windows 7 ReadyBoost with the built-in SD card reader in a Dell Lattitude E5550

Friday, August 28th, 2015

I bought a 16GB Class 10 SD card on super-sale, and I wanted to set it up with ReadyBoost on my new Dell laptop. To my dismay, I couldn’t get the ReadyBoost setup prompts to come up – for years I’ve been annoyed at constantly seeing that option when I plug in a Flash drive or SD card, and now, when I actually wanted it, it wouldn’t come up. Figures.

Apparently few people use ReadyBoost – there weren’t any search results specific to my Dell model.

I did find a reference to removing the manufacturer drivers for the SD card controller for a similar ReadyBoost problem, so I gave that a shot.

In the Windows Device Manager, under Storage Controllers, my card reader was listed as a “BayHubTech/O2Micro Integrated MMC/SD controller”, Driver version, dated 5/12/2014. I have no idea if there is a newer driver, or if such a driver would support ReadyBoost. I did the right click, update driver, manually choose driver, “standard SD card controller” thing (not the exact words).

And… magically, it worked.

I now have a top level “SD host adapters” branch, and below that “SDA Standard Compliant SD Host Controller” in the Device Manager.

Whether or not I’ll be able to notice any difference with 12-13GB of ReadyBoost added, well, I’m not sure. I feel it did help on my previous laptop running Vista with a 4GB card.

Google Drive broke itself? Deleting the user settings…

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

About 3 weeks ago, I think Google Drive tried to update itself and broke itself. This happened on multiple computers running at one of our client’s businesses. These were Windows XP Pro computers, in Workgroup mode, and the users are running in Limited User accounts. I’m not 100% what the trigger to the problem was – it didn’t seem to be a  wide spread problem, since, my brief web searches on the topic didn’t turn up anything recent.

I tried an uninstall and re-install of Google Drive, but that didn’t work. In hindsight, I should have tried disconnecting the drive from a Google user account, and then re-connecting it.

What I actually did was to delete the Google Drive user level files (and, as it turns out, the settings). As far as I can tell, this seems to reset the software. It looks like Google Drive doesn’t really use the Windows Registry – this makes sense, it makes it easier share code across platforms like OSX or Linux (if such clients exist).

So, I renamed this folder, to “break” Google Drive:

C:\Documents and Settings\%username%\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Drive

I think Windows Vista and later would have it here: C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Local\Google\Drive


Upon re-opening the Google Drive client, I was prompted to do the initial setup. And after entering the Google Account username and password, and pointing to the original drive folder, it started to work. There was an initial sync check, where all the files were compared to the cloud copy, and then a prompt to correct any discrepancies.

I’m not impressed that this happened, it makes me wonder about all these automatically updating programs, like Chrome (which has also caused me grief after an automatic update).

Microsoft Security Essentials for XP alternatives?

Friday, January 10th, 2014

It was widely reported this week that Microsoft will be ending updates (including definitions) for MS Security Essentials for Windows XP when they end support of XP itself.

This is a problem for me. I have been recommending MSE to friends and family for years – it’s non-intrusive, it generally works, it’s never broken any software for me, and it doesn’t constantly produce false or exaggerated  warnings over things like “tracking” cookies.

Sadly, anti-virus software in general is awful. The marketing of AV requires long lists of checkbox features. Every single one of these features takes just a little more resources or risks software conflicts.

In business environments, I have used many of the familiar brands over the years – now that I think about it, I’ve directly worked with most of the common paid software brands at one time or another – though, some of these were a decade ago, and the experiences are irrelevant to the current versions of the packages. I have also tried many of the common free AV options for home users.

Universally, they have had their annoyances and/or huge limitations. I remember the time an AV program deleted (not quarantined!) a contact database file that happened to have a magic string that looked like a virus. Or the time a business AV package sent me literally thousands of emails warning me about something or other (it was too stupid a package to recognize that it had already emailed me the exact issue seconds ago). Or the AV feature that inserted itself as a HTTP proxy and thereby broke the instant messenger and some websites. Or incredibly resource intensive AV, bundled by the PC OEM, that brought brand new computers to a crawl.

This post has drifted a bit… I am currently testing Immunet on one of my daily use computers. Immunet was recently purchased by SourceFire, and uses the ClamAV antivirus definitions (and I think engine) that is community run (and powers many open source anti-virus systems). This isn’t a recommendation, merely a mention of another option that is a little under the radar.


Change a Dialup Connection to 10 digit dialing. Hi Saskatchewan!

Monday, May 13th, 2013

My out of the blue problem today was resolving a dialup issue for a store in Saskatoon. Yes – we do support a few people using old fashioned analog modem connections.

Everything seemed normal, the phone cord connections, the modem was picking up the line, the ISP’s dialup number was answering if dialed on a cell phone, and it was entered correctly in the dialup settings… it was a puzzle. The on-screen error in Windows was a fairly generic 676.

Until the local contact mentioned that Saskatchewan just added a second area codes. The original area code 306 and the new 639. This has required mandatory 10 digit dialing – 10 digit dialing was optional for a year, but as of May 11, it’s mandatory.

The easy way to dial 10 digits in Windows XP is to shim the area code into the phone number box where there used to be just the 7 digits.

The “proper” way to make this change is to go to the dialup connection properties. Select “Use Dialing Rules”. Open the “Dialing Rules” window. Edit your location. Under “Area Code Rules”, add a new rule for area code 306 (for Saskatchewan) and set a new rule for all prefixes to “Include the area code”. Save everything and try it.

Remotely Enable Remote Desktop in Windows 7 Professional

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

I recently needed to login to a computer on a LAN that did not have Remote Desktop enabled. Here are the high-level steps that I took.

If you search online, you will typically find references to a registry setting to enable RDP.


HKLM Hive  -> System -> CurrentControlSet -> Control -> Terminal Server > fDenyTSConnections  should be changed to zero.


That’s not sufficient in most cases.

You also typically need to allow Remote Desktop through the firewall. I did this using Sysinternals psexec tool to get a command prompt to the remote machine.

i.e. psexec \\remote-computer cmd.exe

Then running a netsh rule to enable RDP:
i.e. netsh firewall set service type = remotedesktop mode = enable


Also, I needed to add the user to the local computer’s Remote Access user’s group (not the exact name).

A reboot was required.


netsh firewall rule: