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Clearing the BIOS password on a Dell D610

Seeing as I work in technology, that obviously means I’m the first port of call for friends/relatives with any kind of computer issue.
A couple of weeks ago, one of my wifes friends asked if I could take a look at her lappy – a Dell D610.
She hadn’t used it for a few years as she got a newer lappy, now couldn’t remember her password which left her husband SOoL when he wanted to take it with him whilst he’s away with work.
As here were a bunch of photos on there of their kids when they were younger I couldn’t simply reinstall the OS and go.
Getting the pics off was pretty easy – Installing the OS was not.
I managed to get the photos off with my trusty 3.5″IDE->USB adaptor.  Took the disk out, hooked it up to my MBP and copied them off.
Well, it wasn’t quite that simple as I didn’t realise OS X wouldn’t search an NTFS drive (probably something to do with spotlight writing the index but being unable to write to NTFS natively).
After a bit of drive wrangling, I managed to get the device to show up in Windows 7 under VMWare Fusion and quickly found the pics.
Right, just the OS to go.
I burned an iso of XP with SP3 slipstreamed in and went about trying to get the lappy to boot from CD.
Once I realised that the boot menu was having no effect, I checked out the BIOS.
Yup, completely locked out with an admin password.
This meant I couldn’t change the boot priority or anything.
Bugger.
A bunch of Googling turned me on to a method of wiping the BIOS completely by shorting out the EEPROM.
It took me a while to work it out and I absolutely refused to pay the jackass with the youtube video promising to show you how to do it for a fee.
So, in the interests of freedom of information, here is how to clear/reset/remove the BIOS password on a Dell D610.
Notes and disclaimer:
This worked for me.  If it doesn’t work for you, i’m not responsible for that.
You will be cutting metal from the casing.  You need to be careful not to leave any residue on the motherboard incase it shorts anything out.
As part of the process, your machines service tag details will also be cleared.
1. Get your BIOS locked Dell D610.
2. Get a paperclip or safety pin.
3. Get a phillips or crosshead screwdriver and some metal cutters (heavy duty wire cutters should do it).
4. Remove the power supply, battery, CD drive and HDD.
5. Unscrew pretty much all of the screws on the bottom of the D610.
6. Remove the bottom case.
7. With the rear of the laptop closest to you, you should see a white label covering the modem on your left.  There should be some black plastic covering which stops the CMOS from touching the motherboard.
8. Just above that, there are some holes in the metal casing. You need to access a chip underneath that area.
9. CAREFULLY remove the metal.
10. Take your paper clip and prepare to short out the two pins 2nd from the left.
11. Power on and short those pins for about 5 secs.
12. If you are doing it right you’ll hear the fan kick in.
13. This message will show on the screen.
14. You can either press FN+x or let it reboot.
15. Now you will be able to go to the BIOS and make whatever changes you need.
It’s actually a pretty simple process once you know what chip is where, although you must be extremely careful when cutting the casing.
I hope that helps someone and saves them a few bucks.

Seeing as I work in technology, that obviously means I’m the first port of call for friends/relatives with any kind of computer issue.

A couple of weeks ago, one of my wifes friends asked if I could take a look at her lappy – a Dell D610.

She hadn’t used it for a few years as she got a newer lappy, now couldn’t remember her password which left her husband SOoL when he wanted to take it with him whilst he’s away with work.  To make things a little less straight forward, there were a bunch of photos on it of their kids when they were younger, so I couldn’t simply reinstall the OS and go.

Getting the pics off was pretty easy – Re-Installing the OS was not.

I managed to get the photos off with my trusty 3.5″IDE->USB adaptor.  Took the disk out, hooked it up to my MBP and copied them off.  Well, it wasn’t quite that simple as I didn’t realise OS X wouldn’t search an NTFS drive (probably something to do with spotlight writing the index but being unable to write to NTFS natively).  After a bit of driver wrangling, I managed to get the device to show up in Windows 7 under VMWare Fusion and quickly found the pics.

Right, just the OS to go.

I burned an iso of XP with SP3 slipstreamed in and went about trying to get the lappy to boot from CD.

Once I realised that the boot menu was having no effect, I checked out the BIOS.  Yup, completely locked out with an admin password.  This meant I couldn’t change the boot priority or anything at all.

Bugger.

A bunch of Googling turned me on to a method of wiping the BIOS admin password completely by shorting out the EEPROM.

(more…)

[Gig Pics] The Wildhearts @ Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms

The Wildhearts have long been one of my favourite bands, I’ve been hooked since I first heard Earth Vs The Wildhearts, so I was naturally excited to see them coming to play at my favourite local venue.
Their current tour is in support of their excellent new album, Chutzpah! which they play in full for the first part of the gig before taking a quick break and then doing a 30 minute greatest hits set.  A really great idea and one that very few bands could pull off.

I was fortunate enough to win a competition via twitter answering a question posed by Ginger (@gingernyc).  As I already had tickets for the gig, I asked for a photopass in lieu of the actual prize of two tickets to the gig.
Of course, the gig was amazing and I managed to get some pretty good pics of a great band, with great songs, having a great time.

You can check them out at http://www.mygigpics.com

//ian

iPhone sync taking a long time? Maybe a "manual" sync will help

My iPhone sync has been a real pain in the ass for MONTHS.

If I just quickly want to add a podcast i’ve just downloaded, or add a new playlist or single song, it would take at least 10 mins.
5 mins of Backing Up
5 mins of Copying Applications from iPhone
x mins of Actual Sync

The copying applications passed me by for a while, I misread it as copying TO iPhone.
It turns out there is somekind of problem whereby the applications i’ve bought OTA on the iPhone don’t always get sync’d back to iTunes.  So iTunes, instead of just downloading the app from the appstore itself, tries to copy from the iPhone.
Note:  I’ve not looked online for any confirmation of an official problem, this is just my experience.  YMMV.  I’ve also not reset/restored my iPhone at all which is what generally all ‘solutions’ begin with..

Anyway.  I decided today to download the applications that don’t show up in iTunes and make sure that what was in there was totally in sync with my iPhone.

Once this was done, the backing up portion of the sync took less than 15 seconds, and complete sync action took less than 2 mins.

Hurrah!

Fixed: Unable to sync iPhone with Calendar/Contacts

Sometime after upgrading to iTunes 8.0.1 and OS X 10.5.5 (not sure when it started TBH), everytime I connected up my iPhone iTunes error’d with:

“iTunes cannot sync information with the iPhone “Macca’s iPhone” because syncing has been disabled on this computer. Do you want to enable syncing? (y/n)”

Weird, I thought.  I haven’t disabled anything.  I wondered if this was a problem with Office 2008 as last time I sync’d successfully all of my Exchange based calendar items were triplicated..  but that’s another story.

Anyway.  Clicking on Yes (to enable syncing) brought up another error:

“Syncing cannot be enabled on this computer”

So, lo and behold i’ve had out of date calendars and contacts for weeks.  Music, photos and video sync’ing was absolutely fine though.

When it happened again this morning, I tried to open iSync this morning and yet another error:

SyncServices: Can’t connect to the sync server:
NSInvalidRecievePortException: connection went invalid while waiting for a reply ((null))

Looks like something funny going on with the local sync configuration.

Fortunately, the fix was easy.  I renamed the Local sync folder to Local_bak.  iSync then created a new one automatically.  I can now sync without any problems at all.

  1. cd ~/Library/Application\ Support/SyncServices/
  2. mv Local Local_bak
  3. Start iSync.

Migrate iTunes to a new Mac

I couldn’t find anything, via Google nor the Apple support site, that explained in the simplest and quickest terms how to migrate a functioning iTunes library to a new Mac.  I use a bunch of smart playlists to generate my own ‘radio station‘ playlist which relies on playcount, skip count, rating and other cool stuff.  That means that I really don’t want to lose the meta-data stored in the iTunes DB file when moving my data to my shiny new Macbook Pro (courtesy of work).

The last time I migrated, from my Mac Mini to my Macbook, I lost all the meta-data and really didn’t fancy it again.  It turns out it’s pretty simple and straightforward.  The following steps assume a brand new install of iTunes.

1.  Start up iTunes on the target device.  Accept the license agreement and choose NOT to add anything to the library at this time.  You should now find the iTunes folder and a blank database in your /%username%/Music folder.

2.  Start up the Migration Assistant app (in Applications/Utilities), choose “From a Mac”.

3.  Reboot your source device and hold down the ‘T’ key whilst it restarts.  It should boot up to show a Firewire symbol.

4.  Connect the source and target devices with a Firewire cable.

5.  This should mount the source disk on your target device.

6.  Copy the entire Music/iTunes folder from source to destination.

7.  Once the copy is finished, open iTunes and you should see all your tracks preserved with the meta-data intact.

The cool thing about this is that any iPods or iPhones registered with the previous iTunes installation will continue to work on your new device.  No need to format and re-sync.

Cisco VPN Client on OSX

I’ve had a few problems with the Cisco VPN Client for Mac OS X  (release 4.9.01 (100) ) recently.
I’d get intermittent “Error 51: Unable to contact the VPN subsystem” when opening the VPNClient appliaction.
Some times a reboot would fix it, sometimes it wouldn’t.
I can’t reliably reproduce it either, sometimes coming out of sleep breaks it, sometimes restarting breaks it.

I think I’ve worked out how to resolve this now from a command line:

Firstly take the fw0 interface down and bring it up again:
Sudo ifconfig fw0 down
Sudo ifconfig fw0 up

Then restart the VPN SS:
Sudo /System/Library/StartupItems/CiscoVPN/CiscoVPN restart

That has resolved it for me the last 5 times it happened, without needing to reboot again.

Hope that helps someone else out.

Wanted : Definitive iCal Entourage sync

Now that i’ve gotten hold of MS Office:Mac 2008 and an RSA Hardtoken (for VPN) I no longer need to use Windows at all for work or play. (I’ve also just ordered a new MBP through work, huzzah!)

Since i’ve got Entourage connected up to the Exchange server here at work, I want to be able to sync my work calendar with the calendars I have set up in iCal. Not only have I got a couple of standard calendars, i’ve also set up some dynamic ones based on RSS feeds – for example, i’m terrible for remembering when I’ve got gigs lined up so i’ve subscribed to my Last.fm events feed in iCal which in turn shows up on my iPhone, along with a couple of Google Calendars (for University schedules).

Having turned on Calendar Sync in the Office:Mac preferences, I can see my Entourage calendar in iCal and thus on my iPhone. You’d think that this would please me.

No.

I also want the sync to be reversed so that iCal events are added to my ‘work’ calendar…
This causes scheduling problems in that work colleagues who are trying to arrange meetings can’t see my ‘personal’ busy time.
I understand that there is some limitation with Entourage to do with iCal having multiple calendars and Entourage only having one but surely there is some way to merge all the calendar data from iCal into one, then populate E with that?
Taking it one step further, why not enlist the built in Categories feature of Entourage to label the events from different iCal feeds?

Is there something out there that can do this already or have I just spec’d out my next dev project?

Has OS X 10.5.2 reset some security settings?

I’m pretty sure it has, I certainly haven’t turned this off.

Require_password_to_wake

Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

The release notes for the update mentions “Improves stability and performance during log in.”.

Anyone else seen the same or worse?

First Apple 'Genius' Experience

If it was up to me, i’d just replace the cracked topcase on my Macbook myself. I’ve got the Macbook service manual (one that gets issued to the Official Apple Service Centre places) and it’s just as straight forward as I thought. However when I asked the Genius at my local Apple store if I can just get the topcase part to take out, it’s a no can do – you have to be trained to do it. It was with a little roll of the eyes as to say “what do you know about it” which annoyed me. When you make a reservation, they really should ask for a gauge of your technical competence. Even if the self-appraisal is taken with a pinch of salt, I’d rather not be talked to at length as if i’ve never used a computer before.

Not to be completely down on my visit there, although they don’t have the part in stock so I need to go back when they do, my problem was dealt with quickly and efficiently.
As soon as I mentioned the cracked topcase, before even getting the Macbook out of my bag, he acknowledged it was a known issue and started checking stock. He also agreed that it was unusual for a late 2007 model to show this problem as they ‘should’ have fixed it by then.

Like I said, it was dealt with very quickly, in and out within about 15 minutes – although granted i’ve got to go back to the store again when they have the part in. I don’t, however, understand why he asked for my admin account password, I declined to give it to him purely on the basis that there is a lot of stuff on here that is under NDA. I got a little huff out of him for that one even though I offered to turn on the ‘Guest’ account access if they need to test out functionality. I’m going to run a clean install of Leopard today anyway, due to the repeated shutdown and screen lock problems i’m having, i’ll just leave all of that stuff off for the moment until they’ve been able to do their thing.

Apple Macbook – Build quality continued

In the short time since my previous post about my cracked Macbook i’ve been doing a bit of research and have found identical issues.

Here is a pic with the same problem in the same place, via this thread on Macrumours:

Macbook_crack1

Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

There’s even a Flickr group for this problem and an old Engadget post. Maybe I just lucked out and got one of the older ‘faulty’ shells packed with the newer hardware..

I’ve got an appointment at the Genius bar tomorrow so hopefully I can get this sorted.

[tags]Apple, Macbook, crack, build quality[/tags]