Google Chrome Waiting for Hard Disk Fix

google-chromeI love the Google Chrome web browser except for one MAJOR flaw. Often when I would type anything into the address bar, URL or search, I would have to wait and wait. The whole time the hard disk activity light would be on. The disk would grind for sometimes 30 seconds or more. This has been driving me nuts and I have been searching for a fix hoping that every Chrome update would fix it. Finally after digging through Chromes settings I found the answer.

Go into Chromes settings. Click the lines in the upper right-hand corner and select “Settings” from the drop down menu. Click “Show advanced settings” at the bottom of the page. Under Privacy uncheck “Enable phishing and malware protection” and close the settings page. Done! You won’t have Chrome’s built in protection running but the browser will be faster and no longer make you wait. Most likely you have Norton or some other protection software running and don’t need Chrome’s protection anyway.

Hope this helps.

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Tivo Remote Control Fix

Tivo LogoLast night my wife said her Tivo remote control was broken. The remote control appeared to be working but the Tivo was not responding. I did the usual checks; batteries were good, red light on remote came on, remote could operate the TV and my other Tivo so the remote was good. There is a yellow light on the Tivo that is supposed to flash when it receives a signal and it didn’t. I pulled the plug on the Tivo and waited 30 seconds before plugging it back in. The Tivo booted properly but still wouldn’t respond to the remote. This is bad.

Luckily I had a spare Tivo lying around so I swapped the face-plates with the IR receivers and the receiver check as good. The only things left were a software/drive problem or a fried motherboard. My problem turned out to be a somewhat common one, a burned out L30 resistor on the motherboard. Luckily I fixed it quite easily in just a few minutes.

A proper fix is to remove and replace the L30 resistor. Any capacity will do and you can even just solder in a piece of wire in place of the resistor. This requires soldering tool that I don’t have so I found an easier way. The L30 resistor is right next to the IR ribbon connector as seen in the picture below.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

My fix took just a few minutes to complete. All that is needed is about 6″ of Cat5 network cable and a T10 Torx driver. You probably have an extra patch cable stuffed in a box somewhere. Just cut a 6 inch piece and remove the outer sheath and separate one strand of wire. Remove 1/2″ of insulation from each end of the wire and you are ready to go.

Unplug your Tivo and using the T10 Torx driver remove the screws holding the cover on and remove the cover. Looking at the Tivo from the rear insert one end of the wire into the farthest left contact on the IR connector. The IR connector is marked CN19. Attach the other end of the wire to a good ground. I used a hard drive bracket screw. Done! See photo below.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Your Tivo may look a little different as there were several different manufacturers; Tivo, Humax, AT&T, Sony, etc. The model shown is an AT&T Series II. Once your Tivo fully reboots you should have a flashing yellow light on the face-plate and a working remote.

This fix works on Series II Tivos but may work on other series as well. The problem usually occurs when someone doing upgrades turns the Tivo on without the IR cable properly attached. This causes the L30 resistor to burn out. In my case the Tivo had been in service for years and just stopped working. My Tivo has a Lifetime subscription and I want to keep it going. Weaknees will do the fix for $149.95 but even with a Lifetime subscription an old Series II isn’t worth that much. My fix is free and only takes a few minutes to complete. Leave a comment if this saves your Tivo :)

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My New Synology NAS

So I have a huge file collection. Mostly movies that I stream to my TV. In the old days everything fit on my C: drive. When I ran out of room I added a 2TB data drive. Then it started getting full… If you are like many people you keep much of your file collection on an external USB drive. BAD! External drives are great for backups and Sneaker Net’ting large files but horrible for storage as (at least in my experience) their failure rate is quite high.

I bit the bullet and bought a Synology NAS (Network Attached Storage). This little box is actually a computer or file server that attaches to your home network. The model I chose is the Synology DiskStation 4-Bay (Diskless) Network Attached Storage DS413j. This is Synology’s entry level 4-disk model. This little box can do a ton of different things such as: Web Server, Mail Server, Media Server, Video Surveillance, VPN Server, iTunes Server, Voice Communications Server, and a ton more. You just click and install any of the packages (mostly free) to enable the service. Popular software that is available includes: WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Asterisk, Magento, Plex, to name a few. You can even install a lot of software that isn’t an official Synology package. Many people have installed my favorite media streaming software PyTivo on the Synology. For the rest of this article I will focus on using this NAS as a file server which is what I am using mine for.

The Synoloy 413j hold up to 4 hard disks up to 4TB is size each. It will take me a while to fill that much space. This NAS utilizes RAID technology. RAID is quite geeky and you can Google it for more. Suffice to say that by using it any one hard drive in your NAS can fail and you won’t loose any data. The cost is that you give up some storage capacity (one of your hard drives worth). Typical RAID setups require you to use all identical disks which can be a pain for repairing or upgrading down the road. Synology offers their own Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR) which is an extension to standard raid which allows you to use different drives (as long as they are on their approved drive list). You can even mix 2.5 and 3.5 inch drives. You can easily upgrade to larger drives down road as you need the space and drive prices come down. I started with 2 Western Digital Red 3TB Drives and two 500GB Western Digital Green drives I had laying around. If I were to do it again I think I would leave the Green drives out because I think they slow the system down. I have a total of 2,781GB of space along with the safety that all my data will be safe if any one drive fails. In the future I will replace the Green drives with either 3TB or 4TB Red drives as I need more storage. The one caveat with SHR is that any replacement drive must be the same size or larger than the drive being replaced.

When I was shopping I looked at Synology, Drobo, Qnap, Netgear ReadyNAS and generic RAID boxes. Drobo has horrible reviews! They use a proprietary RAID and if you have a failure it is near impossible to recover. Qnap is very highly rated and I only choose Synology over Qnap because their appears to be better community support for Synology. Netgear ReadyNAS also looks to be a great product but I felt you get better bang-for-the-buck from Synology. The generic RAID boxes are cheap BUT…you get what you pay for. If you have a hardware failure you are screwed. If my Synology box fails I can easily get a replacement. I can even move my drives to a different model Synology NAS and I am told they will work.

CD’s and DVD’s are now mostly a thing of the past. I rip everything onto my NAS for easy access. I use PyTivo to stream all my DVD collection from my NAS to my TV. I can back up every computer in my home to the NAS easily.

As I mentioned the Synology NAS is a little computer. It even has its own desktop as shown below. It is very Windows like and can be used to setup and monitor your NAS. The OS and Apps (Packages) are frequently updated by Synology.

Synology DSM

The only downside to this setup is that it is a little expensive. I paid $379.00 for the NAS without any hard drives. Add 4 large drives to the order and your are spending close to a grand for storage. I suggest you buy just the drives you need and add more down the road as you need more space. I must also point out that even though RAID allows for a failed disk it is not the same as having a backup!!! If two drives fail your screwed! Also, it is possible for your file system to get corrupted beyond repair. Synology has a great track record for fixing file system problems but that is no guarantee. If your data is really important to you have a backup plan. Some people use the Cloud while others have two NAS boxes in different locations that they keep sync’ed.

Finally you can only move files as fast as your network allows. The Synology has a Gigabit network port. You should upgrade your network to Gigabit speeds. For most people that just means getting a Gigabit router. If you have an old 10/100 Fast Ethernet router you won’t be happy waiting for files to move to/from your NAS.

I’m cheap and it hurt paying as much as I did for a box just to store my files/videos/music/backups but now that I have it I am very glad I did.

Posted in Computers, Servers | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

My Current Ebay For Sale Listings:

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Wipe Your Hard Disks Clean

DBAN CD LabelAre you getting rid of an old computer or upgrading your hard drive? Are you sure that all your personal information has been removed from that old desktop/laptop/drive? There are a lot of unscrupulous people out there that pick up used computers and hard disks just to see what data they can find.

Did you know that deleting files does not really delete them? Did you know that formatting a drive will NOT erase your data? Deleteing files and formatting disks just erases the address tables not the data itself! Anyone with the right tools can recover all your data. The BEST way to secure your data is to destroy the hard disk. But if you want to sell or give away a working computer wiping the drive is the next best thing.

I use Darik’s Boot and Nuke (DBAN) software on every disk before I sell it. It is free and it works. It will overwrite all the data on your disk so that it can’t be recovered. You just download an .ISO image and burn it to a CD. ImgBurn is great easy and free software for doing this. Boot the computer with the CD you made and follow the simple instructions. You can choose many different erase methods but the default settings will work just fine. It will take a few hours (more or less depending on the disk size) to erase your disk as it will overwrite the entire disk to destroy all the data on it. Your disk will be erased to DOD (Department of Defense) standards.

For older computers you can get a floppy version of DBAN here. Just run the .EXE file and it will create a bootable floppy for you.

I haven’t tried it yet but there is another software product called KillDisk which looks good. The offer a free version which should be adequate for most people who don’t demand DOD level erases (it just writes zeros over the entire disk). It does have a slick GUI interface and will make bootable floppy/CD/USB drives.

Don’t give away a computer without wiping the drive first!

Links:
Darik’s Boot and Nuke (DBAN)
KillDisk
ImgBurn
Info. on installing DBAN onto a bootable USB Flash Drive

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How I Got FREE Phone Service for the Rest of My Life

Voipo

VOIPo

I’ve had Voipo VOIP phone service for over a year now. I’ve written about it a few times. It is a great service that replaced my old AT&T home phone line that I was paying well over $40 a month for. And it was only that cheap because I was using Google Voice for all my long distance calls. So I now have VOIPo phone service and I will never have to pay anything for as long as I live.*

VOIPo is a great phone service that uses your broadband Internet connection to make calls. You just plug your home phone(s) into the provided box, then plug it into your Internet connection and start making calls. It’s full featured with free voice mail, caller ID, long distance and most every other phone service you can think of. You even get an hour of International calling free every month.

I know what you are thinking, nothing is completely free, what is the catch? Here is how I did it. I signed up for Voipo’s two year deal for $149 and used the Promo Code: 6503220803 to get an extra free month service. So right about now you are doing the math and thinking $6 a month is cheap but not free. The key is the promo code. Anyone who uses it gets a free month but so does the person the code belongs to. Once you set up service just ask Voipo for your own promo code. Which is what I did. Pass it around the Internet by mentioning it in forums, using it in your signature and posting it to deal sites. Every month I get several months added to my service. As I mentioned I am currently paid up for what I expect to be the rest of my life. If you take into account my $149 initial investment my phone service works out to cost 36 cents a month.

If I move I can just take my VOIPo box with me and plug it in to start making and receiving calls as if nothing has changed.

VOIPo Coupon I made along with a YouTube video.
Voipo Website: http://www.voipo.com/

*As long as I live currently assumes that I won’t live past the age of 82 84 85 86 87 89 90 91 92 95 years. I’m still adding free months to my service so that should get extended till long after I’m gone.

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MEGA the Awesome New File Sharing Service gives 50 Gigs FREE!

Mega.co.nz

Mega The Privacy Company

Watch out Dropbox, Pogoplug, SpiderOak and all you other cloud storage sites. There is a new player online and its name is Mega.

For those of you that missed it there used to be a file sharing site called MegaUpload. The FBI decided to make it the scapegoat for all online copyright infringing file trading. The site was shutdown, its servers were confiscated and its founder Kim Dotcom arrested. Exactly one year to the day later Kim Dotcom is back with a new better site.

The new Mega gives free accounts 50 Gigabytes of secure storage. To protect your privacy all your files are encrypted before they even get to Mega so only you know what they contain. There are no file size limits and little in the way of bandwidth limits either. There is nothing to install to get started with Mega. There is a very slick browser interface to handle all your file management needs. If you need more than 50 gigs of storage there are currently 3 Pro accounts priced at 9.95, 19.95 and 29.95 euros a month for 500GB, 2TB and 4TB of storage respectively.

Over 1 million users signed up for free accounts in the first 24 hours. The site was overloaded for the first few days but has been running fast ever since handling over 500 uploads per second. Downloads have been clocked at 1 to 2 times faster than Dropbox downloads. There are a ton of new features in the works including encrypted video streaming.

This is a great free site with tons of uses. Enjoy!

You can follow Kim Dotcom’s Mega updates in Twitter: https://twitter.com/KimDotcom
Mega Website: https://mega.co.nz/

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Hyper Cache My New Favorite WordPress Plugin

Hyper-CacheWordPress creates each and every page on-the-fly. Even with a fairly powerful server this can take some time. Hyper Cache makes a copy of each page and serves that up in a fraction of the time it takes for a standard WordPress page. My pages from 1.3 seconds for a simple page to almost 5 seconds for a complex page with 50 images on it. After installing Hyper Cache all my pages appear in well under a second.

In the past I’ve looked at other cache plugins such as W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache but have shied away due to complexity or compatibility issues. While both these plugins are very popular with huge followings I was put off by stories of steep learning curves (W3 Total Cache) or not being updated to keep up with new WordPress Releases (WP Super Cache). I was revisiting those plugins when I found Hyper Cache. Hyper Cache is much less known but I’ve yet to find a bad review about it.

I installed Hyper Cache and my site was immediately much much faster. One note is that you need to log out as an administrator before you can see Hyper Cache work. You won’t see the cached pages or speed as long as you are logged into your WordPress site. The best part is that within 24 hours I saw a measurable increase in traffic. Google gives a higher rating to fast sites plus surfers tend to stay longer when they don’t have to wait between clicks.

Another plus is that this plugin dramatically reduces load on your server. Other processes will run faster and you will be handle a lot more traffic before you will need an upgrade.

Installation is pretty simple. First install the Hyper Cache plugin. Second add the following bit of code to the wp-config.php file which is in the main WordPress directory:

/** Hyper Cache plugin */
define('WP_CACHE', true);

This needs to be near the top of your wp-config file! The author says to put it just after the define('WPLANG', ''); line.

So far I’ve installed Hyper Cache on 6 different sites and so far I haven’t found any issues. There are a number of configuration settings but so far I have left them all at the defaults and am very happy. I’m still in the testing stages with this plugin but it looks like it may be a standard on all my WordPress sites.

Hyper Cache Home Page
Hyper Cache at WordPress.org

Posted in Computers, Internet, Servers, Wordpress, Wordpress Plugins | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

BACK UP Your Computer with FREE Acronis True Image Home Software

Acronis-True-Image-2009Thirty-Five percent of computer owners never back up their computers!* If you are one of the many people who still do not back up their computers NOW IS THE TIME TO START!!! Hard drives fail, computers get viruses, people delete files by mistake. How would you feel if the next time you turned your computer on and everything was gone?

Backing up isn’t difficult. You just need some backup software and a place to back up your files to. I recommend using Acronis True Image Home software and backing up to an external USB drive. You can get this software for FREE from Western Digital. The software from Western Digital is the older version Acronis True image Home 2009. I actually prefer this version as it isn’t as bloated as the newer versions. It is compatible with Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. I’m not sure about Windows 8. The only catch is that you need to have a Western Digital drive somewhere on the computer you are backing up. If you don’t or don’t know, then get a Western Digital external drive to save your back ups to.

Here is a collection of Western Digital drives available from Amazon.com:
Western Digital USB Backup Drives

You need to get a backup drive that is at least as big as the data you are going to back up. I recommend getting a backup drive that is twice as big as a minimum. That way you can save two complete backups of your computer. Perhaps you got a virus recently and your last backup has it too. It would be nice to go to an older backup. You can never be too safe.

*These surveys were conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Backblaze June 28-30, 2011 among 2257 respondents, June 3-7, 2010 among 2071 respondents, May 13-14, 2009 among 2,185 respondents, and May 27-29, 2008 among 2,761 respondents. In all surveys, respondents consisted of U.S. adult computer users (aged 18+), weighted to the U.S. adult population of computer users.

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My New Dream Bike – KTM 690 Duke Track

KTM does it again. They build an incredible track bike and fail to bring it to the United States. This bike is a pure racing machine that doesn’t need to conform to any stupid US regulations and we still can’t get one :(

I love small bikes and at 308lbs this one weighs about the same as my 250 Ninja race bike. The Duke 690 single has a bit more punch with 79hp on tap. The press release says that this bike will sell for under 10,000 euros (about $12,500.00). That may sound like a lot for a single but I guestimate the value of the race goodies on this bike to be worth well over $9000.00 making this bike a real bargain.

Some of the goodies included with this bike:
Marchesini Wheels
WP fully adjustable suspension
Akrapovic Titanium Exhaust
Race bodywork w/belly pan
APTC Slipper Clutch
Bigger Cam and Airbox
Renthal Bars
Brembo brakes w/ABS delete
Pirelli Supercorsa Tires
Powersports Seat
Powerparts Footpegs
Powersports Crash Bars

I would love to race this bike in the Formula Singles class. If anyone would like to sponsor me I’ll start calling European dealerships and see if I can get one :)

Posted in Motorcycle | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments