Raspberry Pi

I bought a Raspberry Pi to act as a Media Server in the home. I bought a PI, case, SD card and power source. As ever here are my notes. Currently, getting started (or 1st boot), 1st customisations, and early days with the media browsers and XBMC/Kodi. I have BBC, ITV and YouTube working, Channel 4 is going to be very hard and so is Sky, since among other things since Silverlight is deprecated. I have given up, and bought a Roku stick. In addition to the challenges of getting all the channels I want, even v3 of the Pi struggles with iplayer HD; it might be the CPU, it might be the BT broadband plus speed but it’s too hard. I shall reconstruct the page and use comments, as one of the purposes of making a notes page was collecting the various web pages that helped me get to wherever I got. Continue reading “Raspberry Pi”

Dell Laptops, Summer 2013

Checking out another Dell for a friend.

I want a laptop and docking bay.

If a Dell, it needs to be a Latitude, they’re the only machines they ship with the old fashioned docking bay interface. We don’t want to connect a screen using USB and we want the machine to be closed while using the desktop periherals.

Here is the Dell E6530 configure page. Here is the docking station link. The laptop needs the E-Series Legacy Expansion Port added in the “Accessorize my Dell” section.

It also needs the O/S version upgraded to 64 bit. It comes without MS Office, soi this’ll need to be added. Wonder if the still do educational discounts, looks like not, since Office 365 seems about the same price.

Maybe the docking station isn’t worth it. Get a cheaper laptop, with a screen port, and buy a new screen with a newer interface standard.

How big is it, how much does it weigh?

Do Laptop Power sell docking stations?

Hitachi Travelstar disk,

Dan’s Dell Inspiron has a Hitachi Travelstar disk. Given that the computer won’t boot, it’s a bit tricky to recover the data.

I have inserted an Ubuntu Live CD into the CD player, and it still won’t boot. I have plugged an external screen into the VGA port, no go.


  • Do we need to fix the computer before we can recover the disk? Disking say they can read the disk and cut a DVD for us.


  • My colleague, Jim Barrett has lent me Magic Bridge II which is pretty awesome. I have recovered Danny’s disk, now onto Sue’s.



It seems that USB to disk adapters are more common than I thought, I have added the Newertech and IOMEGA links to this page today. DFL 20 May 2011

BT Home Hub

BT are the largest provider of broadband lines in the UK. They provide a hub/router as part of the package. This is was my bliki page detailing my use and knowledge about the hub, we’re talking V2. here. I cleaned the page up in March 2010, when I simplified the content on this page, mainly be shifting the Vista & Wifi stuff to “filesaveas.com”.

On 13th July 2013, I upgraded to BT Infinity, and my HH was replaced with a V4 Hub. This page is completely outdated. Continue reading “BT Home Hub”

Replacing the Qube

It needs to be done, badly, has done for years, but is the DE bill an incentive to replace it with an appliance to act as a router/firewall etc. I am planning to move the internet facing services to a web hosting company’s server, but do I need something small and UNIXy.


How would one perform the initial boot?

More or Less

I also worte a blog article at Sun, here…., dated 31 Jan 2006, seemingly when I first got it. The style is pretty pompous, but i suppose I’ve got to get used to it, that’s a bit of me.

I eventually had to get rid of it when both disks went in a couple of months. I eventually transferred the bliki to an AWS machine.

Centos 4.7

I built a Sun Virtual Box VM based on Centos 4.7. June 2009

1st Impressions

Its a long time since I used Red Hat. If you don’t want to cut CD’s use one of the single file .iso images. I used the DVD version.

When I tried to install it on my XP SP/3, the install process failed and rolled back. This trouble ticket, #3701 details how to fix the windows registry which was damaged at v2.2.0.

The Centos install process installs an SMP and uniprocessor version into GRUB and grub is configured to start the SMP version as default. This thread, entitled CentOS 4.7 guest won’t start, suggests that one should configure PAE/NX=on for the SMP image, which is not the default at V2.2.4. So I have set it and it works for me.

The above three items I posted to my Sun blog on 2nd July ’09

The screen resizing doesn’t work well out of the box but there’s a sticky thread called “Howto: Install Linux Guest Additions + Xorg config” in the Virtual Box Linux Guests forum.

There’s a sudo error. The default admin user is not authorised to use sudo. (See this at the Red Hat knowledge base.) One needs to unhash a line in the sudoers file and add the admin user to the sudoers group using visudo & usermod.

Locate needs updatedb run, but apropos works and I can’t find catman, even using apropos.

Shared Folders

Works as expected, define the share name in the GUI, install

# mount -t vboxsf sharename ${mountpoint}
# ls ${mountpoint}

then add the line to /etc/fstab and test using mount -a

# echo sharenamet ${mountpoint}t vboxsf >>/etc/fstab
# mount -a

Python 2.4

Looks like we need a parallel i.e. source code install and use the PATH statement to allow bzr and planet if necessary to utilise it. Certainly, bzr will not install against python 2.3. A shed load of the distro is written in 2.3. An upgrade would seem to be difficult and dangerous.

Dell Dimension 5150c

This was originally entitled “Our New XP Box”. I changed the title when I copied the snip across to WordPress in July 2013.

The snip is called our new box. It isn’t so new anymore, but is about the Dell Dimension 5150c.

As of 30th Dec 2008, the User Manual is available as a .pdf. You might need to be logged into the site to read/get this.

Archiving the Pictures

Some years ago, I bought a Freecom DVD writer and decided to back up the pictures to DVD. XP did not originally support DVD writing and I have no idea if that’s changed so I needed to use Roxio Creator to do this.

Making Videos

In the Spring 2008, I decided to try and make some talking heads videos. My endeavours are documented on below Spring 2008


I am not sure where this comes from, but I have been trying to use it to make videos with a USB webcam. Basicaly I can’t get the sound to work. Google helped me find this FAQ.

I can now hear the sound on a Video. The key is to use the volume control to turn up the Recording volume.

Dell Forums

The mucked around with the forums again in Dec 2008. I am not sure the links below work any longer.

They now have an XP Support Centre & self help forum. They also have an all my posts page.

Dell Forums and Safe Mode

I also had reason to create  Windows Boot Menu page on this site. I was doing some housekeeping on my Dell Dimension 5150c and discovered that yet again the Dell Support site had been improved. There used to be tech support articles about the various systems they sold and are in use, but I finally found a reference on to how to bring the system up in Safe Mode, which I have documented. It implies that this is no longer different for each model and that Dell have standardised on F8. Anyway that’s what works on my machine. Interestingly hard to find I tried both Google and Exalead, but eventually found it using Google, of course.

External Disk

I installed an external disk to hold the pictures, music and maybe videos, i.e. the home directories.

Using the Fax

On 14th Sept 2009, I tried to send a Fax to Spain. This was after the new hub/router line was set up. The fax failed several times; I had tried to enter the hotel into the windows address book with a phone compatible fax number i.e. +34… I solved the problem by entering the destination as a one-off and specifying the destination country using a pull down menu. The fax console reported the destination number as 00 34 …., not +34. I used hyperterminal to test the line. This is a nuisance. It seems I need to store the fax numbers as UK specific, although I don’t use the phone much as a fax transmission device.

Action: The computer modem external wiring needs tidying up when the old btconnect line is terminated. i.e. It is currently using the old data line.

Desktop Icons

XP does not have “My Documents”, “My Computer” or “My Network Places” on the desktop. They can be placed their using

        Desktop -> Properties -> Customize Desktop

Security Center (sic) on XP aka the state of my box!

Written shortly after purchase, dated 7th Feb

It seems that XP can only have one security centre solution. The system comes with McAfee and I need Norton. Sadly I didn’t understand this and have had to restart the rebuild.

I have therefore had to trash certain pieces of work. With help I have managed to resolve my W98 systems network problems. (This was caused by one of the auto exec programs blocking the port on the W98 system). The W98 system is now acting as the print server. This came back OK.

I misread the screen configuration parameters and the drivers work out of the box. I have a lovely 19″ flat screen, which seems to be working fine.

Paintshop Pro is now owned by Corel and I have a trial licence. I wonder if my one & one subscription still entitles me to a PSP right-to-use. I need to track this down. Otherwise I need to discover the best way to obtain a right-to-use, otherwise maybe I should bite the bullet and buy Photoshop.

I expect I shall put OpenOffice on the box first, since some of the .doc files I have are too old for MS`Works’ word processor to read. (I shall be installing MS Office Educational Edition, in order to ensure that the MS file types have default methods that invoke the Microsoft programs.)

I need to go back to http://art.gnome.org in order to download some more wall papers.

I have also lost some of the file transfers from the laptop and old W98 system.

Other snips here

See also Help & Support, &  I now have an Audio snip, which deals with installing a Microphone, and the CTMBHA.DLL driver issues as well. Xmas 2006


At about the same time that I bought the Dell I also bought an Alienware Aurora, which worked fine for two and half years and then developed a frustrating problem


Audio on the Dell


I tried to use the microphone to make video’s on the Dell and the sound track is inaudible. Sound Recorder also creats inaudible tracks. I have tried to discover how to audit the sound drivers. There is a Dell Community thread. 17th January 2009

I have just attempted to use both a Creative & Trust microphone on both the rear and front microphone ports of my Dimension 5150C & the Alienware. I am having zero success on the Dell. I bought a new labtec microphone and this works fine on the Dell.


I get an intermittent error with CTMBHA.DLL on system boot. I have investigated this in the Dell forums and via google. This seems to be a ‘feature’.

Dell Studio 15 Laptop

I bought a Dell Studio 15 from PC World in August. It runs Vista.

Norton Anti-Virus

I bought and installed Norton Anti-Virus. I didn’t renew when the subscribtion ran out


I downloaded

  • Firefox
  • Thunderbird
  • Opera
  • Pidgin, I downloaded this from the http://www.pidgin.im. My experience with versions post v 2.0.1 are quite poor, so this is not installed, but I must ensure v2.0.1 is on the machine. I am advised by a Vista user that this experience is also the case on Vista.

Microsoft Office

I installed Microsoft Office Student Edition 2003. (Do I need Star/Open Office, or the ODF). I tried to run Office Update from the Microsoft site and got the ‘You are not using a sufficiently up to date version of IE n.b. this is Vista.’. I think I fixed this by amending the firewall rules, and using IE, not Firefox. Doh!.


In order to move the files from one machine to another, I needed to establish a LAN connection behind the home appliance firewall.

The interface is different and finding the buttons was a complete crock. I am not sure how we fixed this. The XP boxes could see the new Studio 15’s exports, and I connected to it. The next time I looked the ‘connect to network disk’ button was on the ‘My computer’ dialogue box, and it could see all the exporting computers, although I still can’t browse the disks and printers. It may have been tuning the firewall rules that did this.

I found these resources

both specific to Vista and from microsoft.com. The reality is that I don’t know how we fixed this, and since we can’t browse the devices, its still not fixed.

Week Two problems

The Fan has kicked in, the back lite switches are not working and even some keyboard buttons need to be pressed really hard.

Dell Forums seems to recognise the problem. It might need a BIOS upgrade, also I will need to document how to use the power economy control panel applet.

So the problem is defined as

  • Fan exceedingly noisey
  • back lite keys don’t work
  • intermittent failure on the keyboard
  • mouse touchpad doesn’t seem to work

I couldn’t find someone on the support team chat, so rang them. He downloaded new copies of the general utilities, touchpad driver, intel chipset and the BIOS.The drivers are on the front support page after one types on the Service Tag. He installed them and rebooted. Everything seems fine. The fan is quiet and everything seems to be working.I was told that there is no Firmware Upgrade solution at Dell.  I ,(well, Dell Support), installed new BIOS today. V A05. (20 Sep 2008)

I believe the computer fell into a bad state after a windows upgrade download.

Sound Quality

This is a bit poor for a Laptop advertised as a multi-media lifestyle machine.

I need to see if there are any better drivers, or if this is as good as it gets

Hardware Repairs

I took this to Disking after a Keyboard/Pinot Grigio interface scenario. They charged £69 quid + parts for the repair, which since both the computer and its parts were no longer supplied by Dell and they got everything they needed, this was a result. In particular, at the time, Dell’s replacements were very ugly, we were please to have the machine repaired. NB Damage through spillage is accidental damage and not derangement. This means it should be covered by most household insurance policies.

External Disk on an XP system

This article was originally written in 2008, and was copied to this wiki in June 2013. It covers both moving XP windows directories from the internal local drive to the external disk, and some wish scripting to check the disk was on and remind people to turn it on if not already done. This article talks about the disk, filesystems, transferring the data, and writing some tcl/tk scripts including an motd to manage the remote “My Documents” folder. I changed the title from “External Disk on the Dell” since I had re-purposed the disk by 2013. Continue reading “External Disk on an XP system”