Category Archives: Fixing Things, Breaking Things

Netflix Digital Rights Management Error DRM N8156-6013 OSX Snow Leopard

So let’s say you bought a new mac and cloned your old hard drive to the new one, and now your netflix is all sorts of busted. Let’s fix that shall we? Netflix uses silverlight for DRM which creates a file that IDs your computer hardware for licensing. So we delete that file… It’s here: /Library/Application Support/Microsoft/PlayReady/mspr.hds

Go find it, throw it away and restart your browser. Wha-boom! You’re in business.

Understanding the new iPhone data rate plans

So there’s already a bunch of people belly-aching about AT&T dropping their unlimited plan from iPhones. First thing to consider is that if you have an unlimited plan now and want to keep it, you can. So shut up. Okay, so now for the real numbers on this. The current $30/month plan is being replaced by two limited data plans. First is a $25/mo. plan that allows for 2 Gigabytes of data transfer. This is a LOT of data as far as a smartphone is concerned. AT&T claims that it will cover over 98% of it’s users easily with this. So there’s $60 in annual savings to 98% of users. The second plan is a much lower data amount. A paltry 200MB for $15 monthly. But let’s think about our data usage. In my particular case (an avid geek to boot), I am rarely using AT&T’s network for my data. Almost everywhere I go there is a WiFi hotspot that is open or mine. So I actually use very little data. I looked at the online reports for my account available here:  (You’ll need to be logged in for that link to be any good). So yeah, I looked at those reports and found that I have never in two years gone over 100MB, much less 200. So that’s $180 off my annual bill. AT&T claims that this plan will cover about 65% of their users. Do yourself a favor and go check out your data usage on the AT&T site or use the AT&T app for the iPhone to check your regular consumption. You may be surprised to see that you use far less than you though and that the new plans are in fact beneficial to the strong majority of users. That other two percent need to think about their usage a bit. Seriously? 2 gigs on a 3G speed network that drops out here and there? How aggravating. Go find a Starbucks or a McDonalds and finish off that download tout de suite.

iPhone screen is blank! HELP!

So my iPhone screen went blank today. Scared the crap out of me. I thought it was a goner, even though it had received no ill treatment. It still seemed active, even vibrated with an incoming call, but there was no way to answer it with no screen activity. I plugged it into my computer and started up iTunes and it still saw the phone. That made me feel better immediately. I ran a backup, just because. Then I pulled it from the computer and did what any tried and true geek would do. I reset the phone. How to do that?

1. press the sleep/wake button and the home button simultaneously for about ten seconds.

2. watch as the screen lights up with a glorious apple logo

3. rejoice when it starts back up and works perfectly.

So no need to fear. It’s not broken, at least mine wasn’t. Hope this helps someone out there who’s heart is fluttering with fear…

If you’re on Vonage, this line is disconnected.

I was a Vonage customer for years. First with a residential line, then another personal/business line, and then most recently my primary business phone was a Vonage line. Vonage is fine, I’m not going to complain about quality, it’s as good as our internet connection, which isn’t amazing, so there’s that. I switched my business line over to Ooma. I liked the feature set, the mailboxes and the pricing. It works/sounds great. No complaints there other than the lack of voicemail transcription. Both Google Voice and Vonage have that, it rules.

So Ooma’s cool, it’s working fine, I’m happy, but if you’re a current Vonage customer and you call our work line, you get a message saying the the line is out of service and can not be connected. This is because Vonage still has routing in place for my number that assumes it to be ‘within network’ if you will. But now that the number resides elsewhere in the ephemera, I am not at all ‘in network’. There are numerous posts about this phenomenon online, and there are some people saying that Vonage isn’t trying to be malicious, it’s just the system, blah blah. That’s bullshit. A five minute phone call to Vonage Technical Support is all it takes to ask them to fully release your number. It’s a simple task, and it should be automatic whenever anyone cancels their account. The fact that it is not automatic is what makes it malicious. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever for them not to release the number completely and the only thing it causes is inconvenience.

Furthermore, most people do not realize that this is going on. We’ve gone for at least three months before it became strikingly obvious that Vonage customers were unable to contact us properly. How much business did we lose? Probably enough to negate the savings that I assumed in using a VoIP phone line.

So there’s a quick rant, hoping that someone else may stumble across this and it will help them to avoid the same negative affect. If you cancel your Vonage, make a point of telling them to release your number completely, and then go and confirm that it has been done by having a friend or foe with Vonage call your line to check it.

Sims2 Fix on a Dell Inspiron 1525 vista video crash bang boom.

So let’s say that you’re my wife and you like to play the Sims. The Sims 2 in fact with a fair few expansions. Let’s say that your geek husband bought you a shiny new vista running dell inspiron 1525 and loaded up your transfered settings, neighborhoods and all and sure it loads the Sims, but it just won’t play. black screens that go nowhere, sound but no video, all of these can happen.

Let’s fix it shall we?

Dell’s drivers for the Intel 965 Chipset family are junk. We have had this computer for over 6 months now and they’ve done nothing to improve my opinion on this count. So what to do? ROLLBACK. And rollback to a nice old school HP driver to boot.

Go to one of these:
driver choice #1 apparently choice 1 is no longer working, so we’ll just strike it.
driver choice #2

Either should work just fine, the key is to find one of the drivers with Version: A.
Download the .exe and run it. It should extract the files to C:\swsetup. You’ll need to know this.

You can run the program from there, but it won’t help you, it’s HP specific. So what to do? Now that it’s extracted those drivers and such, let’s go to the device manager. You can right-click on ‘computer’ in the start pearl and click on ‘manage’ to get there. ‘Device Manager’ will be a choice on the left column. From there, expand the ‘Display Adapters’ and double click on your Intel 965 to bring up it’s properties.

Click on the ‘Driver’ tab and do the unthinkable. Uninstall it. Completely.

If your screen doesn’t just go black and freak you out, skip ahead a paragraph. If your screen is black and you’re freaking out. Restart the machine. It will load a simple VGA driver and you’ll see things crazy big,but it’ll be just fine. Navigate your way back to that miracle place where you uninstalled the driver, because we’re about to install a fresh proper one that is totally Sim-able.

Click on the ‘Update Driver…’ button and choose the ‘Browse my computer…’ choice, the hit the ‘Browse…’ button on the next page and navigate to that folder, C:\swsetup, make sure that ‘include subfolders’ is checked and bang on that ‘next’ button at the bottom.

It will now search out and install the older driver. Don’t be afraid if it goes black again after it completes, a restart will have you back in business. Mind you, you might have to adjust your screen resolution once you’ve restarted again, but that’s a small price to pay to be able to play the Sims again.

Pro Tools Stationary Pad Creates Copies

This is a Mac OSX workaround for the Stationary Pad functionality of Pro Tools. When you create a template for a session, life is good, but or some reason OSX is broken when you try and use it in the proper fashion. It constantly makes a copy of the template each time you open it and they are locked files and thus a pain in the arse to dispose of.

The solution is quite simple. Double Clicking on the file, NO GO, Use the Open… menu command from PT HD, NO GO.

But when you drag the template over the PT icon in the dock… VOILA, no extra files, just a new session with your settings. So nice.

Unwanted Microsoft Office Virus Scan

So when you open documents in Word or Excel, does it request a virus scan an take seemingly forever to load?

In the case of a vista machine running AVG 8 virus software, this is how it’s fixed.

run cmd as administrator
cd to C:\program files\avg\avg8

type ‘regsvr32 /u avgoff2k.dll’


bang. AVG no longer tries to scan every document opened in word. If you have resident protection on this is not a problem at all.