Friday, 30 November 2007

Funny ad (in an eeeeew kinda way)

From Private Eye issue 1198, this advert that appeared in the Galloway News:

"Parachute, used once, never opened, small stain. £50 ono."

Eeeeeeek, I say!

Then I thought, hmmm, I'm sure I've heard something like this before. So I did a little search and found this item, which says it was (surprise, surprise) a hoax. The phone number advertised is actually for the canteen at the Dumfries & Galloway College. The catering firm there said:

"people have phoned and asked to buy it for their mother-in-law".

Monday, 19 November 2007

Guess who? (prize!)

Guess who this girl geek is on the very very pink beanbag?

Email, post a comment or text me by end of Sunday 25 November if you want to enter this little contest...

Winner will get a (size S only, for a change) T-shirt from MobileCamp - totally unworn, brand new I promise you! (If more than one person guesses the right answer I'll draw their names out of a hat.)

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Blogger "Keep current time" tool fixed

It's annoying to publish a draft post on Blogger / Blogspot and then realise it's been dated not the date / time when you hit Publish, but when you first created the draft post, which could be days or, in my case, weeks or months ago!

That's one solution to the mystery of the disappearing draft post that you just published - it's just been filed away in the archives at the date and time of the draft post's original creation, that's why you can't see it on your main home page (unless of course you first created the draft quite recently).

Apart from having always to remember to fix the date / time before you click "Publish Post", which I'm terrible at doing, the only consistent easy solution I know of so far is Jasper's free "Keep current time" userscript for Firefox and Greasemonkey, which ensures your published post will always automatically bear the right date and time.

Jasper kindly updated it once, but come the now feature complete fancy New Blogger, formerly known as Blogger Beta, with its widgety goodness and enhanced developer-friendliness, it was Aditya who got the script working with the new Blogger code.

However, during the last month or so the user script has broken again, because of formatting changes behind the scenes at Blogger. When you go to edit a previously-saved draft post, the "Keep current time" box is no longer automatically ticked.

Aditya seems to have been offline for some months now, I assume with his studies, as there's been no activity on his blog for a while, and I've not been able to contact him about this script.

Fortunately Kirk has come to the rescue (as always) and fixed the script so that it now works again, thanks Kirk, mwah! Man I wish Google would roll out an API for Blogger and Greasemonkey, like they did for Gmail and Greasemonkey.

As Aditya's MIA I've uploaded the corrected script so that everyone can benefit from the fixes (Aditya please let me know if you've a problem with that): Get the updated Keep current time script.

How to get the script, for beginners to Blogger / Greasemonkey

Shopping: credit card, not PayPal

The quickie

If UK consumers buy goods or services using a UK credit card, and they have a valid claim against the seller for a refund or reimbursement etc due to the seller's breach of contract or misrepresentation (defective products, lying about the features etc), there's good news - they can now also claim against the credit card company, even if they bought the goods or services outside the UK, e.g. from an online vendor or while travelling.

It's obviously very handy to be able to go against your credit card issuer if there's a problem and the original seller is now bankrupt, or won't answer your emails or return your phone calls.

The long & slow

This case has been widely reported, but it's worth a reminder. A few weeks back the top judges in the UK, the House of Lords, unanimously ruled that if UK consumers use a credit card to buy goods or services from a non-UK supplier, e.g. internet shopping from a foreign online vendor or while abroad on holiday outside the UK, they are still protected under section 75 of the UK Consumer Credit Act.

Section's 75 magic for us consumers is that it provides a kind of "guarantee". If you paid by credit card and the cash price of the goods or services you bought is over £100 (but not more than £30,000), and the seller was in breach of contract or guilty of a misrepresentation - e.g. they delivered the wrong things or nothing at all, or the stuff was duff, or they got you to buy the goods or services by misleading you about them, etc - then, if the seller has gone bust or is obstructive, you can go against your credit card company instead to get your money back, or compensation and the like. The credit card issuer is equally responsible along with your supplier, wherever the supplier is based.

The big high street banks had tried to argue that this protection only extends to domestic purchases, i.e. UK consumers buying goods or services in the UK, but the good ol' Office of Fair Trading took the fight all the way up to the Lords, who said no, that's not so - it covers consumers with UK credit agreements, whether they ordered from a UK shop or a foreign (that's "non-UK" if you're not a Brit) supplier.

So the tip is this: whether you're buying in person in the UK or travelling overseas, or whether you like to buy over the phone or the Web and you order from a UK or a non-UK website over the internet, if you're paying for something that's within the price band of over £100 but not more than £30,000 then, all other things being equal, you should be better off paying with a credit card rather than cash or PayPal etc - because then you get the card company's "guarantee" or "insurance", as long as it's a credit card from a UK credit card company that is (and if you're also in the UK. I've no idea what the position is if a non-UK resident uses a card issued by a UK credit card company!).

One gotcha to note: this protection only applies if you use a "real" credit card, NOT a charge card like many Amex cards where you have to pay off the whole balance every month. If you have a real credit card, where you can make a minimum payment of less than the full amount, you're OK even if you choose to pay it in full sometimes or indeed all the time - but if you use a "charge card" for the purchase, then you won't be covered.

Another questionmark: I don't know if this includes software downloads. Does anyone know?

Surely this is a good thing for e-commerce as well as consumer rights. In a way, it will give credit card issuers a slight competitive advantage over PayPal and the like. Even though it will hit the pockets of the credit card companies first, I've no doubt that eventually it'll hit us consumers too, in the form of even higher overall charges or interest rates; and that will be what it will be, so you may as well get yourself that extra protection when you're buying from abroad, in my view.

Usual blurb - I'm not a consumer lawyer, this is very general and isn't legal advice, blah blah, if you are on the cusp of the price range and aren't sure if you're covered, if you find yourself in a situation involving needing to claim against your credit card issuer, you should consult your own legal advisers.

More info:

Sony Ericsson mobiles: security risk

Many Sony Ericsson cellphones sold between 2005 and 2007, e.g. the K750i, K800i, K810i, T650i and W880i (which use a proprietary Sony Ericsson operating system rather than Symbian) are vulnerable to a security hole recently discovered by Adrian Nowak and Karsten Sohr, research scientists at Bremen University. This allows applications to read and write to system files, so they could e.g. replace certificates confirming the origin of programs to be installed:
"For the installation of malicious software, the user only needs to confirm that the software is allowed to read and write user data. According to the scientists this is also standard practice with trusted applications and doesn't, therefore, raise any suspicion ."

One upside: users could also use the security flaw to "replace the logos and ring tones installed for "branding" purposes."

Via Heise Security, who also noted that "It is still unclear whether the hole is located in the operating system itself or in the Java VM. The scientists didn't want to release any details to allow Sony Ericsson to fix the vulnerability. No statement has so far been received from the vendor."

Attacks on mobile phones are very rare, but still, if you have an affected phone, best not to install any software except from a site you absolutely trust in case it could be malware exploiting this hole. And hope that Sony Ericsson fix the vulnerability.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Switching broadband: Prodigy Internet fined £30k; complain to Ofcom if you have problems!

On 9 November UK regulator Ofcom fined Prodigy Internet Limited - which seems to trade as Prodigy Networks - £30,000 for failing to provide info on Prodigy's compliance with new rules, known as GC22, introduced in Feb 2007 to help consumers migrate their broadband services "quickly, easily and with minimal service disruption" (more on moving broadband internet providers using GC22):

As part of its ongoing investigation into Prodigy’s compliance with GC22 and GC14.7, Ofcom issued a notice to Prodigy under section 135 of the Communications Act 2003 (‘the Act') requiring the provision of specified information. As Prodigy failed to comply with this notice, a notification under section 138 of the Act was issued to Prodigy on 31 May 2007. Prodigy also failed to comply with this notification.

Ofcom considers that Prodigy has failed to provide all the required information. Given Prodigy’s ongoing failure to comply with the section 135 notice and having followed the procedures set out in the Act, Ofcom has decided to impose a penalty of £30,000 on Prodigy. A non-confidential version of the penalty notice issued to Prodigy on 9 November 2007 under section 139 of the Act is currently being prepared and will be published shortly.

Ofcom said they continue to investigate Prodigy's activities. Interestingly, at the date of writing this I see Prodigy are also overdue on filing their obligatory annual accounts with the UK companies registrar (due 31 October 2007)...

Ofcom are continuing, until at least February 2008, to keep an eye on the extent to which internet service providers generally are actually following GC22.

So do complain to Ofcom if you encounter difficulties moving between ADSL broadband service providers who provide internet connection over BT copper loop phone lines (the rules don't apply to cable broadband, sadly). Or even if you've had problems with migrating your broadband internet access after Feb 2007, but hadn't got round to telling Ofcom yet. And make sure to do it before Feb 2008.

They say they won't deal with individual complaints, but they do monitor them, and if there are relatively high complaint levels against a particular ISP, they've "held discussions with the relevant broadband provider to identify the cause of the complaints and bring about compliance with GC22. Where this approach has not succeeded, we have taken a more formal approach." I guess that's what happened with Prodigy.

Ofcom say that since the introduction of the enforcement programme, the number of complaints received by Ofcom about broadband migration issues has fallen by about half, from around 480 complaints per week at the start of March to around 250 complaints per week at the start of August. So that seems to be a sign that GC 22 is working. But as the Prodigy fine and my own experiences trying to migrate providers show, it's not working in all cases. So the more consumers who register their complaints with Ofcom about their issues, the better - if you've had problems, just drop them a line. They can't investigate something if they don't know about it.

More details about steps to take to move ISPs under GC22 are in my previous post but your existing broadband ISP is supposed to provide info on how to switch and to enable you to switch, involving what's called a "MAC" which is a migration authorization code you give to your new ISP, with certain deadlines. They're not supposed to charge you for the MAC either, not even if they say you owe them money for unpaid charges.

So what are you waiting for - if you've had difficulties with obstructive unhelpful ISPs stressing you out with deliberately trying to put obstacles in the way of your changing to another DSL broadband provider, tell Ofcom today. Even a one liner is better than nothing, naming the ISP and the issue of course. Ofcom's page on problems with switching providers unfortunately isn't enough to cover all the possible breaches of GC22, but tell 'em anyway, and strike a blow for consumer rights - and maybe even get at least the satisfaction of seeing the obstreperous rule-breaking sods fined for it!

Monday, 12 November 2007

Amazon 1-click: patently wrong?

For those who hadn't heard, Amazon's infamous one-click patent (for ordering your shopping with one click over a "communications network") was successfully challenged a few weeks ago by New Zealander movie industry man Peter Calveley, after he filed a request for re-examination of that patent which according to Out-law was "simply a hobby borne of an interest in patents and a frustration with an order for a book from Amazon that took too long to arrive" i.e. "so little happens in New Zealand that he was bored."

He submitted to the US Patent Office lots of examples of "prior art", information previously public which shows that a patent applied for might not in fact be sufficiently original to merit the grant of a patent. And they thought that was good enough to reject 21 out of Amazon's 26 claims in their one-click patent.

He said: "Amazon has the opportunity to respond to the Patent Office's rejection, but third party requests for reexamination, like the one I filed, result in having the subject patent either modified or completely revoked about 2/3 of the time."

This is an interesting decision and possibly (hopefully?) a sign of a change in approach? For a while now, I've thought the US patent system has gone too far in allowing things to be patented which really shouldn't be. I'm not anti-intellectual property but I'm a copyfighter in the sense that I think IP laws aren't keeping up with the times and no longer strike a fair balance, so it's not surprising that I think that. However, even Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, said at a recent lecture, which I've previously mentioned in relation to his comments on women in technology and geek culture, that "Patented technology is a major obstacle to development of a mobile web".

At least here in the UK the authorities seem rather more sensible, e.g. rejecting a patent application for a soul-powered artificial force field generator! Though maybe that's a pretty obvious no no... For other silly or funny patents for inventions (though maybe not silly in quite the same way), see e.g.:

Back on point, on his blog Peter Calveley said "Some people are sending me money - however I don't have any expenses right now so thank you very much but I can't accept it."

Well, maybe he could take the money and use it to challenge other similar patents next? Like:

You can search for more patents on Google's US Patent Search service, if that sort of thing floats your boat!

Sunday, 11 November 2007

New Gmail Greasemonkey API - & Blogger, please??

Tucked away in an update to a recent official Gmailblog blog post about future behind the scenes changes to Google's Gmail was some good news for Greasemonkey fans.

Greasemonkey is a free extension for the free and wonderful Firefox browser, which lets people write userscripts to do all sorts of clever things to webpages like change the way they look and work, improve your browser security etc - see this post for instance for a Technorati tagging script for Blogger /, and instructions generally on how to install Greasemonkey and install user scripts too.

Lots of scripts have been written for Google services, even Book Search.The Gmail team appreciated that when they tinker with the underlying code for a web service for which Greasemonkey user scripts have been written, that can mess up existing Greasemonkey scripts. (Previously new releases of Google Reader had broken Greasemonkey scripts too, and there are many Greasemonkey scripts for Reader including with Google Gears).

So to help us all they've released an experimental Gmail / Greasemonkey API which should make Greasemonkey scripts for Gmail easier to write and more resistant to being broken when Gmail code is changed. (The forthcoming changes will apparently involve a new Javascript implementation for Gmail.) Greasemonkey has been used for Google Reader and Gears too

Yay, I say! That should make Greasemonkey gurus like Kirk and Jasper happy.

However, Greasemonkey scripts have been known to stopped working not just when Gmail code changes are implemented, but also when other web services have been changed. Or indeed when Firefox has been updated, or Greasemonkey itself has been updated. You get the drift...

As this blog is on Blogger, personally my biggest use of Greasemonkey scripts is in order to get Blogger, particular its post editor, to work the way I want it to, making up for several shortcomings or gaps I feel exist in the current interface (e.g. prettying up the font). I'd go so far as to say my Blogger Greasemonkey scripts are absolutely indispensable to this blog.

Unfortunately, something must also have changed behind the scenes in Blogger's code these last few weeks, because the Keep Current Date/Time script (essential if you save drafts on Blogger for later publishing), which Aditya had updated for New Blogger, no longer automatically ticks the "Keep current date/time! box when you're editing a saved draft. Also, my script to enlarge the Blogger template editor doesn't work anymore either, boohoo.

So here's hoping that the Blogger team will similarly roll out a Blogger / Greasemonkey API soon too for those interested in the Blogger API, which saw a new Javascript client library recently.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Art, technology, copyright: CC-Salon, London 20 Nov

Fancy "discussion and debate on the subjects of art, technology, copyright and free culture"?

CC Salon London are holding an event on Tues 20 Nov 2007 from 7-11pm in Covent Garden:
Jordan Hatcher, lawyer and legal consultant specialising in intellectual property and technology law, "will present and discuss his work on a new report entitled “Snapshot study on the use of open content licences in the UK cultural heritage sector”. This study primarily examines the use of the Creative Archive (CA) and Creative Commons (CC) licences among UK museums, libraries, galleries, and archives. The key objective has been to get a snapshot of current licensing practices in this area in 2007, and Jordan will report on his findings."

No registration necessary, see the CC-Salon blog for details.

I imagine people like Mia might be interested in this event.

But I've already booked to go to the Channel 4 event on user-generated content in TV, film and design - the very same evening, on a very similar subject, with Creative Commons connections too. Bah. Never mind, one day I'll manage to make it to a London CC Salon...

Via Creative Commons blog.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Windows - no disk Exception Processing Message c0000013 Parameters 75b6bf9c 4 75b6bf9c 75b6bf9c - fixed!

"Windows - no disk Exception Processing Message c0000013 Parameters 75b6bf9c 4 75b6bf9c 75b6bf9c"

Here's a tip to save you hunting for the solution to fix this "Windows no disk" problem in Windows XP (UPDATE: a commenter says changing the drive letters works in Vista too), at least if it's to do with your card reader, or CD or DVD drive.

UPDATE - summary added, history moved to end: This problem seems to be caused either by malware (virus or spyware etc), or by software following a Windows update or some other software installation or uninstallation (particularly HP, Norton or QuickTime software) trying to check for removable media that isn't there (e.g. disc in DVD drive or card in card reader), when it shouldn't be doing that check.

So if you get this error message, try these steps (UPDATE - in whatever order you like, bearing in mind 5 is probably a less than satisfactory last resort, but by all means try 4 before 2 if you prefer):
  1. scan your computer with a virus checker and anti-spyware etc - try more than one product (e.g. there's also NOD32 ESET), clean any infections and reboot

  2. if that doesn't work, try changing your drive letter assignments as shown in the step by step howto below - this works for lots of people

  3. if that doesn't work, try uninstalling your floppy drive as shown below - or just always keep media in all your drives, though the next two steps are preferable if they work

  4. then try making your software stop looking for drives: e.g. uninstalling and reinstalling an upgraded (or latest possible) version of QuickTime; similarly with your Norton and HP software if you have any, and clearing your most recently used documents or files lists

  5. last resort: make the error message go away. This doesn't fix the problem, it addresses the symptom not the cause, so it really is a last resort if you can't fix it any other way, but if you're being driven mad, it's better than nothing.

So here's a step by step howto for the various suggestions above.

How to change your drive letter assignments in Windows XP or Vista to fix the "Windows - no disk" etc error message, and how to uninstall your floppy drive

There are Microsoft instructions but I think the following is quicker (UPDATE: this is closer, though the problem doesn't just apply to Zip drives configured as drive C. The steps below do reflect its solution - but I think having screenshots makes it easier for people to follow). I have XP SP2, hopefully it's not much different for SP1. I gather both XP Pro and XP Home can suffer this problem too. The steps below are probably trying to get at the same thing as uninstalling the USB drives, but much less frightening and more effective.

UPDATE: if you have Vista, the quickest way to get to the Disk Management window shown in no. 3 below is:
  • Go to the Start menu
  • In the Search box at the bottom, type (without the quote) "diskmgmt.msc" then hit Enter or click the magnifying glass search icon.
  • The rest will be as per no. 3 onwards.
  1. UPDATE: First, make sure all your removable drives or removable media drives are already connected to your computer (they don't have to have media in them). On your desktop, rightclick My Computer and choose Manage:

  2. In the window that opens up, choose Disk Management.

  3. Wait for the right hand side of the window to show up properly, it may take a few seconds. You'll see something like this:

  4. My mistake was to rightclick the stuff in the top right hand bit. Don't you do the same! Check out the bottom right hand quarter, see the pic above, and scroll down in that mini window (see the mouse above) till you find the first drive that says "Removable media" and No media". Right click its name (e.g. "Disk 3") then pick "Change Drive Letters and Paths":

  5. Click Change:

  6. Then in the dropdown list pick a different drive letter (I'd use one somewhere near the end of the alphabet like R, just in case):

  7. Then click OK to save the changed assignment. Rinse and repeat for all the other removable drives in the bottom right hand window which have no media in them. Do the same even for the card slot/drive that does have a card in it (if it does), just in case. Obviously each one must have a different letter. In my case I changed drives G, H, I and J to R, S, T and U. Strong warning - although BeckhamSquared did it, I really, really wouldn't change ANY of the drives to C. Leave drive C well alone, don't change it. (It shouldn't let you, but just in case...)

  8. Then reboot, and with any luck it should work to kill that error message once and for all. It certainly did for me. And if you then want to change the drive letters back to what they were, do so by all means - but at your own risk, in my view if it ain't broke don't fix it (hopefully changing them back shouldn't muck it up again, but you never know).

    See also 9 and 10 below if that didn't work for you.

  9. If it's still coming up with the same error and you can tell (from the sounds it makes - well I can) that it's trying to access your floppy drive, the above method won't let you change drive A. But what you can do is try this (at your own risk!): rightclick My Computer, choose Properties, Hardware, Device Manager, expand both Floppy Disk Controllers and Floppy Disk Drives, rightclick Standard floppy disk controller and Uninstall, and do the same Uninstall for Floppy disk drive if necessary. Reboot your computer, and it should reinstall the disk drive A. And hopefully also fix the error message for good. But if that doesn't work don't blame me!

  10. UPDATE: This isn't a fix, just a workaround, but if changing your drive letters doesn't work try always having a disk or card in all your removable media drives i.e. floppy drive, CD or DVD drive, all your card reader slots. Or try the software fixes or "last resort" registry edit, below.

Or is it QuickTime, Norton or Hewlett-Packard or other programs?

If all that doesn't work for you, well the other thing I did was uninstall QuickTime, which I'd updated recently and which apparently did the trick for some people when they uninstalled it. Similarly for HP and Norton software.

But it's a bit more drastic than the above, so I'd try changing drive letter assignments first.

UPDATE: As it's probably software trying to look for media in drives when it shouldn't, you could also attack the problem by trying to stop your software looking for it, as per this comment - and uninstalling & reinstalling QuickTime or clearing its cache etc is certainly one way to help in this regard.

You could therefore also try clearing your recent documents or recent files lists in Word, Excel (go to the Tools menu, Options) and your other programs that keep lists of recently opened files. And also, generally in Windows, I'd suggest you try clearing your most recently opened documents list from the Windows start menu by trying these steps (instructions are for XP):
  1. rightclick the Start menu
  2. choose Properties
  3. go to the Start Menu tab, make sure that Start Menu is selected, click the "Customize" button near it
  4. go to the Advanced tab
  5. click the "Clear list" button
  6. click OK and OK again.
(I didn't mention clearing those lists previously because it didn't work for me, but it's worth trying if the above didn't work for you.)

Last resort - just make the error message disappear

I've also seen as a last resort this suggested registry change (XP only, don't know if it works in Vista). I didn't need to try it so I haven't done it but it's worked for others. However as the writer warns, it's really a last ditch solution because it doesn't stop the problem from happening, it just makes the error message go away, and ideally you should try to address the underlying cause of the problem.

UPDATE: But if you aren't comfortable editing your registry manually then:
- try clicking this link to do the same thing (NB before doing that backup your registry or that key first, and it's at your own risk etc!): stop windows no disk error message (click Run in the next dialog box). You shouldn't need to reboot.
- and try this link if you want to reverse that registry change later: reverse stop windows no disk error message.

UPDATE: I've moved the history to the end and beefed up the howto at the start.

History of solutions tried - skip this unless you're interested in the problem solving steps!

If the above error message sounds familiar to you, if it's been driving you mad, well me too. It's been killing me this last fortnight. Whenever I booted my Windows XP computer, it would come up and I'd have to hit Cancel (or Continue) several times in a row before I could get it to go away. (Tip: a few apps did seem to carry on starting up in the background. If I just left my PC alone and let them do their thang before I finally clicked Cancel or Continue, that annoying irritating slowing-me-down error message wouldn't crop up again. But I'd still have to get rid of it at least once). And unlike some other people, I did not have anything but my main hard drive as C.

That kind of incomprehensible gobbledygook of a computer error message doesn't exactly follow good design guidelines for exception messages, does it?

I tried all sorts of things. If regular readers are wondering why I've not blogged much this weekend, when the weekend is usually the time when I get down to my ACE posts, it's because I've been tearing my hair out hunting for and then trying different options I'd seen other people say had worked for them (so I can blame them for all the ones that didn't work for me!).

What was the problem? Checking removable media drives for media that ain't there

It's obvious that something had changed to make the problem start in the first place. It could be a Windows update (helloooooo Microsoft are you listening?), but to be fair it could have been an upgrade to some other software that caused it. For example lots of people have had difficulties with HP computers or HP software, and I have an HP printer myself with HP Solution Center, so that would have been one of the things I'd have tried next (upgrading the HP software e.g. HP ImageZone), if this one hadn't worked. For other people it's something to do with Symantec Norton software. For yet others it doesn't happen on turning on their PC, but only on launching certain software, or using certain hardware. We don't care if it's a bug, a conflict etc, we just want it to stop!

A very common thread though is that it often seems to involve drives for removable media. Some software process (which I wasn't able to track down, myself) has clearly been initiated at startup which was trying to access or at least check all the disk drives attached to my PC. It's not finding something that it was expecting to find - whether a CD, DVD etc in a CD-ROM drive, DVD-ROM drive or Zip drive for some people, or in my case cards inserted into all the slots of my card reader (which enables me to transfer photos, MP3s and other data from SD cards, Compact Flash cards etc to my computer and vice versa). Hence it's throwing up the error message. At one point it even seemed to be checking for a floppy disk in my floppy disk drive.

In my own case, I found that if I didn't have my card reader connected permanently, I didn't get that error message. I could plug it in later. So I knew it was to do with the card reader.

But the message came back if I'd left it connected when I booted again, so that wasn't much good if you don't feel like always having to remember to unplug and re-connect it (and it may be impracticable if the socket is somewhere inaccessible).

Also others have found that if you leave media in the drive that's causing the problem, e.g. a CD in your CD-ROM drive, or a floppy in your floppy drive, etc, that also stops the error message. But to me that's just a workaround, it doesn't solve the problem.

So, it's looking for disks etc that aren't in drives. Now one way to stop that is to stop it starting up at all, but I couldn't figure out what it was and I'd wasted the whole weekend trying other stuff, man, troubleshooting to try to solve problems that shouldn't be there in the first place is the worst waste of life I can think of.

Here's what I tried that didn't work, for light relief, so you can point at it and have a good larf - "Hahahaha, that would never have worked, why'd she do that?!!":
  • uninstalled all my USB devices (including card reader) in Device Manager - scary, and stupid of me as I went too far in my panic and uninstalled other stuff that weren't removable media drives at all (see below), and I had to find a driver disks for one of them when I rebooted as it wouldn't reinstall properly! Lucky I still had it and it didn't take too long to find. But still.

  • uninstalled my floppy disk drive (actually I think it did fix part of the problem, as it stopped trying to access my floppy drive, but not the rest of it as I still had a card reader - see below)

  • cleared the QuickTime cache.
Now, what did work? Yeah I know you should do things one step at a time and reboot, but by the time I reached that point in the evening, I'd given up. So I tried two things at the same time, then rebooted.

I'm pretty sure I know which one it was that did the trick, as Kirk (thanks Kirk!) had pointed me to it earlier, and that man is always right - but I didn't think it had worked at first, only because I hadn't done it properly even though I'd seen the same suggestion elsewhere in my hunting. So I'll set out the solution below for those who like me might have missed it.

The thing I did which I'm pretty sure is the solution was to change the drive letters for my card reader slots - thank you BeckhamSquared, who said: "in resetting the drive letter whatever got corrupted during the [Norton removal] was fixed". (The person there first encountered the problem after uninstalling Norton SystemWorks. I didn't uninstall it myself, yet I also got the same problem - there are clearly lots of different causes).

At first I did it wrong because, foolish me, yeah I can laugh now, I only changed the drive letter for a removable card drive which did have media in it. Duh and double duh and triple duh. I should have changed the letter assignments for the empty drives, as they were the ones that weren't being detected. So I did that, after like the zillionth unsuccessful reboot, and yay - it worked!

(I'm giving this post the stopirritatingme tag in honour of Tom Morris!)

Friday, 2 November 2007

Girly Geekdom Blog

Belatedly this is to mention that I'm also now blogging occasionally on the Girly Geekdom Blog, started by the increasingly well-known Sarah Blow of London Girl Geek Dinners fame.

It's now a team blog, there are 2 guys blogging on there too, and now 5 geek gals (and still expanding).

I've only managed 2 posts there so far, trying to keep within the girl geek theme:
It's fun to have a team blog to post on.

Sarah doesn't know what she's let herself in for yet but thank you for letting me loose on Girlygeekdom!

Check out Girly Geekdom.