Saturday, March 28, 2015

Limited Connectivity when using an ethernet swtich

After a big office revamp, I tried plugging my Linksys 8 port gigabit switch into my router, and then plugging one computer into the switch.

I got one of those "limited connection" messages which amounts to the same thing as no connection at all. After googling, I see there are some sophisticated reasons and sophisticated remedies, all of which are over my head.

I figured maybe my switch was bad. That's something I can understand. But before buying a new switch, I tried a different ethernet cable.

Bang. My switch works after all. The ethernet cable was bad.

Unfortunately, all that googling had never landed me on such an answer. And it wasn't intuitive, at least not to me, that a bad cable could throw such a message. But apparently it can.

So there you go. Now it's someplace on the web. If you're getting that limited connection message and you're using a switch, try swapping out each ethernet cable before going and buying a new switch.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

How to scan a network drive with Malwarebytes Antimalware free

Malwarebytes Antimalware free has a setting under "general settings" to turn on the context menu. Make sure that's on. Once done, you can close Mbam and then right click next to the folder you want to scan, and select Mbam.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Help! My Windows 8 computer started talking!

Windows 8 comes with a function called "Narrator." It's possible to accidentally turn it on. To turn it back off, just hit Caps Lock and Escape.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Pavtube wouldn't rip my copy-protected DVD

Remember, if you own a DVD, you can rip it for your own use. You can't share or sell it, though.

Pavtube wouldn't rip my copy-protected DVD. I tried Pavtube DVD Ripper and Pavtube Video Converter Ultimate. The first created a distorted picture and the second created only audio.

So I tried DVDFab

DVDFab did the job just fine. I used the free version because I don't mind the watermark.

There was one glitch, though. I couldn't figure out how to use the free DVDFab to create a version for my Kindle Fire. I think maybe that can only be done with the paid version.

So I used Pavtube Video Converter Ultimate to try and convert my output from DVDFab to the Kindle Fire format, but it did not work. Some of the sounds of dialogue were missing.

Here were the steps, but like I said, only steps 1 through 4 work. The rest of the steps are for creating a kindle version, which did not work.
  1. Put the copy-protected disk in drive
  2. Download and install the free trial of DVDFab
  3. Using the ripper, take the defaults and create an mp4 using DVDFab
  4. Close DVDFab when it's done
  5. Crank up Pavtube Video Converter Ultimate
  6. For format type, choose Amazon Kindle Fire HD (*.mp4)
  7. Import the mp4 you just created
  8. Click convert
  9. When it's done, copy the output to your Kindle Fire and enjoy

Next I tried Handbrake 

Handbrake is open source, and therefore totally free.  I got the same bad results in Handbrake that I'd gotten from Pavtube. No joy.

And then I tried AnyDVD

The utility called "AnyDVD" does not rip DVD'S. What it does do is remove copy protection so you can  then rip it with your favorite ripper. I tried running a trial version of AnyDVD, and after I did, I was able to then rip the DVD with Pavtube Ripper. Also I was able to get a good kindle version.

Here are the results as reported by "AnyDVD":

Summary for drive E: (AnyDVD HD, BDPHash.bin 15-02-13)
HP BDRWUJ272 1.00 131004
Drive (Hardware) Region: 1

Current profile: DVD-ROM
Media is a DVD.
Booktype: dvd-rom (version 1), Layers: 1
Total size: 2042508 sectors (3989 MBytes)

Video DVD (or CD) label: TALHOTBLOND
Media is CSS protected!
Media is locked to region(s): 1!
Video Standard: NTSC

Structural copy protection not found.
Found & removed RCE protection!
UDF filesystem patched!
Found & removed Autorun from Video DVD!
Removed CSS copy protection!
Bad sector protection not found.
Emulating RPC-2 drive with region 1!

What Pavtube said

They concluded that they had not succeeded at decrypting the disk. They asked me to find the link for the exact SONY disk on Amazon, which I sent them. In the meantime, while I am waiting, they suggested this, but I could not get it to work:

How about use freeware MakeMKV to decrypt the disc protection of this movie, and then import the copied file into Video Converter Ultimate for ripping, that works as well. 

I had to install 1.9.1, of MakeMKV, not the beta version, and with this key: T-u6zbhoZevw54ZZdt8cyLY6xQ70p50IjW9ho6dWXe1JFOYfNLdVd6m8Vm2jHA8TNMI1

But I still could not make it work.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Solved: Google Play app stuck on install and has stopped

Google Play install stuck and  " has stopped"

I tried installing Winstreak on my android phone but it appeared to be installing forever and was never installed. I tried the install from my Google Play Store on my computer, and I tried the install from Google Play Store on my phone. No joy.

To fix the problem, here's what I tried on my phone, but it did not work.

Stop the app from installing
Go to settings
Select All tab
Select Google Play store
Force stop
Clear cache
Clear data
Uninstall updates ("the application will be replaced with the factory version")
Turn off phone
Took battery out and put it back in
Turn phone back on
Make sure it's connected to Wifi
Open Google Play Store and accept terms
Try a new install of Winstreak
No joy

That's when I noticed that whenever I try to go back into Google Play Store, I was getting this message: "Unfortunately, the process has stopped." I had been ignoring this. So I googled the message and found this solution.

This worked:

settings-->apps-->all-->download manager-->tap to open download manager-->disable-->enable

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Cablevision can't make up their mind if they want their remotes back or not.

I called Cablevision, whom I no longer use for television viewing, to find out if they want all fifteen remotes back. The rep said yes I must send them back so I am not billed. And no I won't have to pay for shipping. She directed me to the online prepaid label.

The prepaid label was there, and so was an explanation that if I choose to mail back my remotes, it's at my expense. That contradicts what the rep told me on the phone.

So then I entered a chat, and got a third, different, set of facts. This chat rep told me
that I don't have to send the remotes back at all. Nice. Here's the chat transcript. I think my favorite part was when she apologized for Miss Information. Yes indeed, that first phone rep could be voted Miss Information of the year. But so could their website.

New party ('JEAN') has joined the session
JEAN: Hi, my name is JEAN H and I will be assisting you today.
JEAN: Good Morning
Mike Moran: Hi. I want to return some remotes because I don't use
cable tv any more. I just got off the phone with a rep who said it
would not be at my expense, but the website says it WOULD be at my
expense. Which is true?
JEAN: Please verify name address and phone number that is on account
please? Who am I speaking with please?
Mike Moran: Linda Moran or Mike Moran 504 Darby Court Ridgewood New
Jersey 201-305-3488
JEAN: thank you
JEAN: Who am I speaking with please?
Mike Moran: Mike
JEAN: Thank you Mike Moran please tell the remote you want to return
please describe it for me please
Mike Moran: I do not know how to describe it. it's the only kind I
know. It has a big IO button in the middle
JEAN: Does it have A B C only?
JEAN: at the top of the remote
Mike Moran: It has an A, a B, and a C. I don't know what you mean by
"A B C only"
JEAN: Ok thank you
Mike Moran: Oh and I have about fifteen of them
JEAN: Great news no worry about any fee may keep the remote
Mike Moran: My store never wanted them back
Mike Moran: Oh. So just to be sure I understand, you're telling me I
don't have to return the remotes?
JEAN: Yes it is our older remote that has ABC at top and blue arrow buttons
JEAN: Was there anything else?
Mike Moran: Okay so let me understand one more thing.
JEAN: How may I help?
Mike Moran: The rep on the phone told me I have to return them and
that if I didn't, I would be billed for them. Does this mean she was
Mike Moran: Please understand that this presents a dilemna to your
customer. Whom do I believe?
JEAN: Sorry for the miss information
Mike Moran: So you are certain that the information you gave me is
correct? Please send this chat to me when wer'e done. I'll
understandably need this paper trail
JEAN: Sorry there is no option on chat to be sent by email
JEAN: What number may I reach you please so I may inform
JEAN: you by phone ?
Mike Moran: Okay I'll copy and paste. But please answer my question.
You are sure that your inforamtion is the correct information?
JEAN: Yes we no longer give the remote with abc option on top of
remote and that is why or local optimum store did not take the remote
as well
Mike Moran: Telephones don't have paper trails.
JEAN: Yes that is correct but is recorded for Quality assurance
Mike Moran: Okay that's good information. Thanks for that. You have a
great day. If you have a means to escalate this chat, I'd suggest
doing so. Your management needs to know that you were forced to
contradict another rep.

Plex Media Server using Windows 7, Roku, and my Buffalo NAS

Update on October 25, 2018

My plex server finally died with a bluescreen and IRQL NOT LESS OR EQUAL.

I left it for several hours, then rebooted it and it froze. Then I shut it down, and it wouldn't boot at all. The hard boot button wouldn't even light up when I hit it.  It's dead, Jim.

Update on June 4, 2017

  1. The Windows 7 laptop I speak of in this post is now upgraded to Windows 10. It was easy
  2. The app I speak of below also runs on the Amazon firestick. I mostly use my firestick these days. 
  3. Almost three years later, my Plex Media Server is still running great. I borrow free DVD's from the library, then rip them onto my own computer's hard drive. They get backed up to my NAS device within hours, and there they stay. As you'll see below, my Plex source is my Buffalo NAS device.

How I converted an old Windows laptop into a Plex Media Server  

(and it's free)

I wanted some way to throw my media, stored on my NAS, to my television.

For months I was too intimidated by the word "Plex" because it had the word "server" next to it. But every time I googled how to get my media onto my television, I kept coming back to the dreaded words "Plex Server."

I even tried a Roku app for a while called "Roku Media Player." It was pretty bad.

Then I got fed up with myself, and dove in. It's not that bad. Here are the points I figured out that I thought were too stupid to even ask. For simplicity I will explain my installation in particular.

  1. I can use Plex and continue not to understand my NAS device. Yay.
  2. My NAS device is only one choice among many of where to install the Plex Media Server, and it's not the best one.
  3. My NAS device is the place where all my media is. I want Plex to look there.
  4. There are two installations: the Plex Media Server, and the Plex "app." You need both. This follows the old-style pre-web way of doing things, in which you have a "server" and a "client."
  5. There are three reasons why I didn't install the Plex Media Server on my NAS device.
    1. My research (that's a lofty way of saying I googled this) shows that it can bog down a NAS device. Most geeks seem not to recommend it unless you have a top of the line NAS, which I don't. Mine's a Buffalo Linkstation, and I own it just to have one place to store all my media. Actually, it's my backup target.
    2. Because I know precious little about how a NAS actually works, other than the fact that it's a Linux environment, I didn't want to do something that could trash all my media files that on it, which amount to about 2/3 of a terabyte.
    3. My particular NAS, which is a Buffalo NAS, doesn't appear to be supported for Plex Server anyway.
  6. There are three reasons why I chose a Windows 7 computer for the server
    1. I had a Windows 7 computer lying around
    2. Although I had an Ubuntu laptop lying around too, that computer is kinda old, with a slower processor.  Over time, if I see that my Windows server (the one with the small hard drive) is getting bogged down by Windows, then maybe I'll ditch Windows on that computer and replace it with Ubuntu. Then I'll put Plex Media Server on there.
    3. One more reason I went with trying a Windows server first is that I'm not so handy with installing softare in Ubuntu. That's why I decided it's more of a last resort.
  7. I think of my Windows Server machine as a dedicated server because I don't plan on using this particular computer for anything else. Besides, it's got a tiny hard drive. I had to remove all the bloatware just to fit the server software. I think of both the software (Plex Media Server) and the Windows 7 machine itself as the server. That's usually the way geeks talk, I've learned.
  8. I own a Roku, so that is my client. That's where I put the Plex app. I found the Plex app easily by searching for more channels in my Roku. After all, the Plex app is just a channel.
  9. The Roku app is free for thirty days. AFter that, I'll have to pay a whopping five bucks (one-time fee.)
  10. A way to get the client apps free (not just for Roku, but for my android and other devices) is to pay for the professional version of the Plex Media Server. But when I looked at its added features, it didn't seem worth it for my purposes. Besides, I got the free one running, and now I don't want to muck with it. Anyway, I wan'st planning on using any device right now other than Roku.
  11. I keep the server turned on all the time, to make it easy to always be able to flip to the Plex channel in the Roku and not hae to think about it. I keep the server lid shut (I configured my power settings so it "does nothing" when the lid is closed. IT's tucked away on a shelf, kind of shoved behind a table, So when I want to directly access it, I use teamviewer.
  12. I created three libraries -- one for my pictures, one for my music, and one for my videos. Right now, my ripped videos are mixed in with my home movies. I'll see over time if I want to make those into two separate libraries. Also true is that I have a lot of videos mixed into my pictures folder right now. I'm hoping I don't have to move those.
  13. I found out Plex offers lots of channels, too, not unlike the channels offered in native Roku. I wasn't even counting on that. 
  14. All this for a total of five bucks!

So far, the quality is great. Hopefully this means I won't have to switch to an Ubuntu server. In a month, when the Roku app demands the five bucks, I'll gladly hand it over.

Some tekkie things I had to do

  1. I had to open port 32400 in the Windows firewall so my channels wouldn't be blocked on the client
  2. I had to enable DLNS on the NAS
  3. I discovered that my music was duplicated in the Media Server. I found out that all my music was duplicated in a music subfolder on my NAS device. The subfolder was called Buck 65 - 20 Odd Years (demonoid). I have no idea what this is but anyway, I deleted it.


  1. I now understand that the Roku app is a dumbed down front end to the server. That means the app has limited function. If I want the app to do something it just won't do, it's possible I can get it to work on the server side. Remember, the Plex Media Server can run on its own without using the Roku as your interface to the television. A workaround is to get it running on the server, and then throw it to your television with chromecast. (I know I know, it makes my brain hurt too.)
  2. So for example, there seems to be no playlist support for the Roku app. However, I did find the function on the server side. I can create playlists on the server and play them there without using the television and the roku. That's why I've now attached a set of external speakers to my server. Or, as mentioned above, I can throw it to the television with chromecast.