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All posts in Hardware

When Your Laptop Will Not Boot. What Do You Do?

For starters …

laptop won't boot what do you do?

Now we have that out of the way, take a deep breath and read on for how to get back to work with your laptop, painlessly.


Before we get to the several steps to cure this I’m sure you are thinking,

“I’m so glad I keep all my data in a backup on an external hard drive and in the cloud”

Right? No, well you might want to consider it for those situations where the hardware has actually suffered damage.

In this case, you shut down your PC before as usual and now inexplicably your laptop will not boot. There were no power surges or faulty batteries, nothing that might cause actual damage.

Here’s what you should try: –

  1. Unplug the power supply from both the wall socket and from the laptop.
  2. Unplug any peripherals, flash drives or other connected to the laptop.
  3. Detach the battery from the back of the laptop.
  4. Now the laptop has no available power press your finger (or thumb) onto the power on button and hold down for about 1 minute.
  5. Take your finger off the power on button.
  6. Replace the battery and the power supply.
  7. To be safe plug into a different wall socket.
  8. Now press the power on button to boot as normal.

Your laptop should boot as normal.

This process is a kind of reset and should work for most laptops.

The Warptest POV

This is one of those mysterious PC techie bits of voodoo that wows or befuddles most users. As I said, the important things to take away from this kind of experience are: –

laptop won't boot - steps

Hopefully this solved your “laptop will not boot” woes. If you have any other tips like this I’d love to hear them.

3D Printing Is Hot, Hot, Hot…

You can hardly read any tech news these days without seeing a story on 3D Printing. Some of it controversial and some about the companies who are leading the field and acquiring competitors on the way.

3D Printing Search via Bing

Let Me Tell You A Story…

Last week I went on a sofa shopping expedition with my wife in Tel Aviv and while we were trawling around in the heat I noticed a storefront with some interesting tools in the window and a cast iron door.

My wife knows I’m always on the lookout for good tools and was willing to tolerate the brief diversion so we went in and were greeted with the mixed scents of cut metal and machine oil. The store was run by an elderly couple who watched my gleeful face as I saw brackets, nuts, bolts, washers and other sundry pieces and tools. In the back of the store I was amazed to see a large lathe working away under the attentions of an attentive craftsman.

Photo via Bing Image Search; thanks to

3D Priting Predecessor The Lathe

(To my eternal shame I didn’t think to photograph the store or lathe)

For those of you rapidly Googling / Binging the word “lathe” let me explain why this is the Holy Grail for any tool junkies. A lathe is a tool that can cut and form anything and allowed farms, factories and others to make their own replacement parts for anything limited only by: –

  • The size of the lathe
  • Access to the right raw materials (the right kind of steel or wood for the part)
  • Most importantly the skill of the lathe operator

About 20 years ago I was lucky enough to have some limited experience using a lathe and I chatted with these store owners about it. They were kind enough to invite me back anytime.

Frankly it had been a long time since I had thought about learning to use a lathe or that very special combination of smells.

As we were driving home later it occurred to me that as the prevalence of the lathe and skilled operators waned in the late 20th Century consumers became more and more used to planned obsolescence and the idea that if an appliance broke it was often cheaper to replace the appliance than the worn out / broken part.

The environmental impact and cost to the consumer kept increasing. Just go down to any recycling center and look for the rows of appliances.

The Warptest POV

Along come companies like industry leader, Stratasys
and the 3D Printer is effectively the 21st Century inheritor of the lathe.

3D Printing by Stratasys 13D Printing by Statasys 2

Pictures of 3D Printers with thanks to Stratasys

What’s more you know a technology has truly arrived when it’s featured in TVs, The Big Bang Theory:

It seems that we have gone full circle with 3D Printing where the same constraints apply except for that of a skilled operator. With Windows 8.1 including support for 3D Printing the technology has gone mainstream and the next time something breaks you may not need to call a repairman, just print up the replacement part yourself.

Are you ready for an end to planned obsolescence thanks to 3D Printing?

The Surface RT

The Surface and many of its OEM competitors have landed…

At least the Windows RT version has.

Putting aside criticisms of price point or App availability for Windows RT (early days, give it a chance) Microsoft missed an enormous opportunity for convergence of two technologies to launch a tablet unlike any other out there in the so-called Tablet Wars.

Microsoft’s Kinect for Windows should be built into laptop, monitor, tablet and yes Smartphone devices as an organic component of the device in much the way the humble webcam has.

Image from the Microsoft Kinect for Windows Page (see link above)

Kinect for PC is launching in several countries around the world with a similar form factor to Xbox Kinect and an SDK just waiting for the bold App Developers out there who see Kinect as the next iteration in MMI.

I can hear someone saying, “Wouldn’t this devalue touch functionality in Windows 8 etc?” and my answer is a definitive No.

Being the only kid on the IT block with built in touch-less touch control as an alternative to mice, keyboards, a stylus or greasy kiddy fingerprints all over your touch screen is the least of it and having these devices come with the SDK pre-installed (hopefully with a user friendly macro recorder) to allow consumers to devise their own touch-less solutions would blow the competition out of the water and force not just Windows OEMs but Android and iOS to play catch-up to compete.

The Microsoft Open Source project site Codeplex references a Coding for Fun Project, the Kinect Service for remote connection to a Kinect. This theoretically would allow remote access from Android or iOS devices even though the project mentions Windows Phone. Still just Bing / Google “Kinect for iOS” or “Kinect for Android” for a peek:

In a nutshell Surface + Kinect / Laptop + Kinect / Windows Phone + Kinect is a gamechanger and if the rumors of Microsoft working on their own phone are correct, here’s hoping they have either thought of this or read my blog.

Would this kind of embedded hardware and feature make you change to a Surface or Windows Phone?


What were they thinking?

Earlier today all the big tech blogs reported that Acer CEO JT Wang gave Microsoft a direct warning not to move ahead with the October 26th release of the ARM based Windows Surface RT (Intel Pro version to follow 90 days after).

 The original article was on the Financial Times but to link to it would be to cause undue pain and suffering through excessive FT popup notices so I’m linking to Engadget who reference the original article.


Acer CEO

Acer have a history of being the OEM who isn’t afraid to tell Microsoft how to run its business however I find myself asking,

 Why did they wait so long to speak out in this fashion?

More to the point does the CEO actually think that with less than two months to go before launch Microsoft are going to roll over and say,

 “Hey guys, that Surface thing well we decided in the end that Tablets and our own hardware line just isn’t our thing”

 Who the heck is this company anyway?

Acer were back in the day just another white box OEM in the game but progressively from 2000 they have managed to both rebrand themselves and take an increasingly larger bite out of the PC market.

In fairness, this was done with some smart acquisitions along the way; the Acer Group counts amongst its product line the following PC brands:

Acer group


Gartner are quoted on Wikipedia Market Share of PC Vendors as indicating that Acer over the last 5 years alone begun clawing its way to 4th position behind HP, Lenovo and  Dell.

What Have Acer Ever Done For Me?


With thanks to Youtube User Klute2006


You are probably scratching your head right now and trying to remember those noticeable products in the PC world that they delivered.

In the past few years only two come to mind:

* The Acer Iconia W series – Windows 7 tablets with a dockable keyboard

* The Acer Iconia A series – Android tablets with a lighter, smaller form factor

 The rest of their product line on their site does nothing for me personally the way Asus, Toshiba or Samsung’s product lines do. The words generic or bleh comes to mind.


The Warptest Perspective

Besides the obvious linkbait and free PR from poking a stick at the Microsoft Bear prior to the Surface release it is clear that as an OEM Acer have always been less than happy with their relationship with Redmond.

I’m convinced that Acer believe they need to drop Windows as their tablet OS. Currently they are producing and supporting two tablet OS platforms Windows 7 and Android. Along comes Microsoft and springs Surface on them. Now as I mentioned in my post in June: “Does the Surface mean no more OEMs?” The OEMs should be using the Surface as a guiding light for inspiration and new innovation.

I believe they always intended to drop Windows for their tablets and reduce overhead in production and support. The Surface affords them a reason to justify this and lay the blame at Microsoft’s door.

I believe they are missing the point and have chosen to remain generic and mundane.

They are assuming that should only the Acer brand of PCs and tablets leave Windows they will continue to maintain their market share. They are also assuming that what has worked with Windows will work (forgive me, you know who you are) in the very much fragmented Android market.

At this time they do not have a competitive tablet for the Samsung Note, Asus series or Google Nexus 7, all of whom Acer will have to compete with.

The big question is will other OEMs choose to follow Acer’s lead or will they rise to the challenge and design innovative Windows 8 based competitors for the Surface? What’s your point of view? Tags: ,,,,

Okay a couple of weeks ago I was at #swisrael, (oops I’m hashtag-ing everywhere now) Startup Weekend Israel that is and I experienced a recurrence of something I have seen so often lately.

Laptops galore surround me of all shapes, sizes and descriptions .. productivity and creativity were in the air but, there were so many of us that the wi-fi was overwhelmed. The organizers dove in to resolve the situation and as I sat there sipping my coffee I recalled a previous blog piece of my own

Okay shameless self marketing aside the one criticism I have of this is its slow!

My new Windows Smartphone is a Toshiba Portege and it has and does everything I need to stay connected on the move. Now it also contains the ability to act as a 3G/ GPRS Modem for my laptop but only if I connect via Bluetooth.

This is like building a great big 6 lane highway and every 5 miles merging it into two lanes just to chortle at the hugh bottleneck. Bluetooth just doesn’t seem to have the data transfer bandwidth to cope with the speed of my 3G connection.

That’s the problem, what’s the solution? Connect the phone via USB and have an application in Windows that offers to recognize it as a modem. I’m not a NASA scientist how come I had to think of this?

Oh yes because it’s better to be unwired and fashionable than wired, fast and productive. Earth to Redmond come in Redmond. If you are reading this you know what to do. Thanks guys.

About 8 months ago my cellphone stopped working. I dutifully took the Nokia 6233 to my cellular provider and received it back as unfixable from the service center. They told me I could pay for another device for a reduced fee but as that phone was on a 3 year contract I decided simply to get another phone.
My brother had an unlocked Windows Mobile 2003 iMAte SP3i in an office drawer so he sent it over. The phone was by no means perfect but I was happy to have a working phone. He warned me this was a relatively old phone and might not last forever so perhaps I might want to consider a more permanent option.
With alink to his cellphone supplier in the UK I checked the site for details until a very nice MwG Windows Mobile phone went on sale. The company had 100 units and I made my order online. A week of emails and phone calls later I discovered the UK company would not honor an Israeli international Visa card nor would they use PayPal without receving so much personal info as to render the whole concept of PayPal redundant. By now all 100 units were gone. As you can imagine I was a little displeased by the experience.
Ideally I wanted to hold out for the Google Android phone from HTC but I needed to set myself a budget and a phone like that was more than I wanted to spend. meanwhile the stand-in phone, the iMate was becoming idiosyncratic to say the least. I bit the bullet and decided to try an Israeli e-commerce site for phones and ordered a nice Nokia slider with wifi and the trimmings.
The phone arrived unlocked but regardless it simply would not work with my Cellular provider, a defective unit but unfortunately the last one in stock of this model.
An email arrived from another UK phone supplier with a sale on a really gorgeous Windows Smart Phone. I made the order and it was confirmed. I had the phone shipped to my family for my brother in the UK to test (I was getting a little gunshy of the whole thing by now).
To cut a long story short I now have in my possession the Toshiba Portege G810 with Windows Mobile 6.1. It is a wonderful phone, clear reception and sound, excellent GUI similar to the HTC Windows interface and a plethora of goodies on the device.
The wait was worth it now I just have to deduplicate my Contacts from the old phone and sync the data.

Technological progress is a great thing. We want our devices smaller, faster with longer lasting power and so forth but what do we do with the stuff from before the great techno-leap?

One example is the jump from IDE to SATA Hard drives and the changes in the motherboard and connectors.

Pragmatically when I upgraded my PC several years ago I didn’t really think about being able to mate my old IDE Hard drives to the new, speedy-fast SATA PC.

With time the older PC sat around and as the little guy came along I found it necessary to do away with what became excess hardware. The only thing I really kept from the old PC was two 80 GB IDE Hard Drives.

What’s the problem? I can’t connect them to my existing PC as it is SATA technology and my external hard drive is a generic box with IDE to USB .. Windows XP just can’t recognize it and handle the driver.

So I was left with a dilemma; either disassemble and destroy the old disks or get creative and find a solution.

I was in my local PC store to get a RAM upgrade and happened to mention to the owner about this and he smiled and rummaged in his desk. Laughing about he had just had the same problem himself he hands me an 80 NIS ($20) printed circuit board with two connectors IDE and SATA.

It was very similar to something I had found online for sale off a website for a PC hardware company in Taiwan (if I remember correctly).

Anyway, tomorrow I will be hooking up at least one of the old IDE Hard Drives to format and subsequently use as additional storage space. Results to follow installation and some testing.

Technorati Tags: ,,Practical Technologies,,,

When you aren’t working most of your time is spent thinking about looking for work, looking for work and doing the odd job around the house that your spouse or you have put off doing because of lack of time.

However, there are a number of things I had wanted to do over the last 6 months to a year that I never got to while I was working because of job pressures and scheduling issues. I stumbled on Jeff Pulver’s blog during the last year and became an avid follower. His networking breakfasts seemed like a great idea but I just never got off the dime I guess.

I decided to use my time to do more than just email resumes I was going to implement a more proactive plan to find a new job based on some of the articles of Penelope Trunk; her blog and book have been a guiding light to me in my recent job search and I recommend what she has to say to anyone even thinking of seeking new employment.

When I saw that there was going to be another networking breakfast this week I signed up and arranged with my wife how we were going to deal with our morning schedule.

Then I thought to myself, “I’m going to need business cards at least, this is not the sort of shindig to hand out printed resumes..” I looked at several ways of getting my resume into people’s hands there but all seemed to complex:

  • Printed – besides the sheer volume of paper to carry it felt inappropriate.
  • Wireless transfer from my phone – I saved as Word and PDF on my phone and thought great I can use Bluetooth or IR to send the files; but what if the recipient doesn’t have a Smart Phone?
  • Email/ MMS from my Smart Phone – “Ummm excuse me can I have all 200+ email addresses of everyone attending to send them my resume?” Okay, Right.

So one visit to Office Depot later I downloaded, modified and edited a Word Template and remembered to add my Linked In, Blog Address and Email to the card but managed to forget my Twitter name.

The cards are basic white, double sided and adhesive backed so you print the card, peel it from the backing and fold the sticky backing onto itself to make the card. It worked better than expected and produced nice results.

It all got me thinking, why not use magnetic ink to encode any data onto a Business Card and then have the ink create a basic circuit-board so that on receiving the card the recipient can connect it to the computer and download the embedded data; in my case my resume.

Well I have no idea if this is even feasible but perhaps it is and can be done at a reasonable price.

For those of you who don’t know, I am a hands on sort of guy. I like to get my hands dirty whether it be replacing parts inside my PC (when needed), under the hood of the car, those really cool IKEA sets (it’s like Lego for grown-ups only more fun) or anything else that needs me to use my tools.

Two years ago I decided along with my wife to simplify Succot. Instead of building my own wood-frame Succah I went out and bought a Succat Nechalim made from an aluminized frame.

This takes me no time at all to build but somehow leaves me feeling just a little cheated. The only tool I needed was my Leatherman to cut the rope that ties the drop-cloth wall on.

While I was doing this a guy in the next building was sawing, hammering and screwing together a beautiful wood Pergola and I envied him the task and pleasure of a job well done.

The sheer joy of planning and implementing a task like this .. it brings a smile to my face just thinking about it. Obviously, jobs like this make the pleasure of sitting, sipping a cold beer afterwards even better.

Perhaps my wife will think of something around the house for me to do like this before I find a new job.

My PC startup is usually time I use to sip my coffee and let random thoughts percolate thru my cerebellum. Normally my inner dialog is more to the tune of “What the !^%^% is taking this PC so long to boot up!”

This then leads to me reviewing what is running at Startup in the Task manager or using SysInternals Process Explorer. Then I tend to open MSConfig from the command line and go on a deselect purge worthy of  Stalin.

It got to the point that between Services and actual applications running at Startup I was using a hefty chunk of CPU and RAM. I wanted some of these to be available but most of the time didn’t actually need these services or applications. I had two choices: –

1. Set the guilty parties as disabled and have a speedier startup.

2. Leave them enabled but create a script or batch file to disable them after Startup if I didn’t need them.

The problem with option 1 is that other people use the PC and disabling stuff normally ends in frantic phone calls when I am out of town. I found an application called Taskill and used it on my Windows XP SP2 Home PC to disable my shortlist and this resolved some of the problems.

Of course there are applications which on every usage or after any update decide to reinstate themselves as enabled. Two such examples are Quicktime and Real Player (and its hidden Real Scheduler). Worse even and shame on you for this was that after the latest update to Real v11 it would actually open and run on Startup.

However, I then decided to look thru every tab in MSConfig and arrived at the WIN.INI tab. I was glancing down the entries and saw once called ANNIE. I opened the tree and the configuration entries seemed to indicate it was some kind of video capture program. My initial concern was it was some kind of malware.

I disabled the entry and then tried to find it thru Google but all I could find was other users on forums who had it on their PC but had no real idea where it came from or what it did. Then I recalled that at random intervals I would find in my C:\ main folder a JPG screen capture from some video that had been played in Windows Media Player. I enabled the entry again in WIN.INI and ran a video and found another capture JPG in my C:\.

It sits disabled in my WIN.INI until I can deduce exactly how it got there and what the actual purpose is. I suspect that one of the many Codecs I installed gave me this little extra. Now I am going to have to test each one until I find the answer.

Technorati Tags: ,,,,QA and Software Testing,,WIN.INI,

The quantum leap in progress and functionality of all these handheld/ portable devices over the last couple of years is amazing.

So many applications and services are available and everyday there is news about convergence of more technology with PDA’s and Cellular Phones. That in itself created the Smart-phone. Miniaturization of hardware, processors and memory allowed for these devices to progress even further and advances in battery development allow for a longer usage between recharges when you are on the go and not plugged into the car (or a mobile solar charger).

My big problem with all these devices is that the main piece of current technology that inhibits these devices becoming your primary Computer is not the keyboard or connectivity to peripherals (most have Bluetooth and or WiFi but yes, USB or another standard fast port would be nice); the screen size simply is restrictive.

Don’t get me wrong, I do lots with my Pocket PC but realistically, I love sitting down in front of my 19″ monitor and seeing things in 1024×768 resolution. As many web sites and services that have been designed also for Mobile usage (a la GMail and other Google Applications) many have not and the flexibility, usability and breadth of functionality is way more limited by Screen real estate usage.

This is where I flex my conceptual thinking muscles. This restriction is due to physical constraint and it has brought us UPMC, ultra portable laptops and rather large Smart Phones but is this the solution or a clever series of work-arounds?

I think that when we have devices that incorporate holographic projectors with built-in touch screen technology then these Mobile devices will truly have come of age. Obviously, this throws down the gauntlet to the battery creators to provide a more powerful, longer lasting battery. Perhaps, like the Seiko Kinetic watches these devices will be powered by movement of the Human body or the batteries will be charged by this.

I did Google the term “holographic touch screen” and it seems that others have thought in this direction but so far, not yet for Mobile devices. Time will tell.