Thursday, November 03, 2005

Treo 650 HotSync bug that reports "Both versions of this record were copied to the Palm Desktop and the handheld" and a fix

Ok, I've found an odd bug and an easy workaround with HotSyncing my Treo 650.

I've been using Palm devices for years, and have always been very happy with their HotSync technology. I tend to edit data on both my computer and my palm so the fact that it could automatically tell which records were the most recent and copy them to the other device has saved me a lot of effort. Occasionally when I edited the same item on both the computer and the Palm device, it would warn me when I HotSynced and put both copies on both devices and let me choose which one to delete. Great!

Unfortunately, when I upgraded my Palm phone from the beautiful Samsung SPH-i500 to the large and clunky, but more powerful Treo 650, I was dismayed to find, that if I edited a record on my computer, when I synced it I always got a message stating:
The following record was modified on both the Palm Desktop and the handheld:
“some record name”
Both versions of this record were copied to the Palm Desktop and the handheld. Delete the unwanted record and perform a HotSync operation again.

Then, of course, I had to manually delete the duplicate record on the Treo 650 even though I had NOT edited the record on my Treo 650 as it was stating. Deleting the duplicate record on my computer didn't remove it either, as the next time I did a HotSync it would do the same thing again and once again I had two copies of the same item on both devices.

This was happening when syncing to my Mac OS X Tiger versions 10.4.x (I tried with all version of 10.4). I normally edit most of my data on my Palm phone so it wasn't a huge problem, but after a while, when I found myself updating several items on my computer, I got frustrated enough to debug the problem. I could reproduce the situation 100% by editing a memo in Palm Desktop (and not editing the memo on the Palm device) and then performing a HotSync. I was HotSyncing by pressing the HotSync button on the USB cable that came with the phone. I decided to try and use Bluetooth which is built into my Mac and supported in Mac OS X. When I did the same thing via Bluetooth, I didn't get the error.

Ok, now I was getting somewhere...

It turns out you will see this problem if you have the HotSync connection setup on your Palm device set to Bluetooth but do a HotSync via the USB cable or cradle. I altered my HotSync connection setting to use the cable/cradle option, and did another HotSync with the cable. Again the error was gone.

But I want to be able to sync with my cable, or Bluetooth without having to change the phone settings. Luckily this works long as you create a separate/new connection setup on the phone. Just create one set to Bluetooth (which I made my default when I click the onscreen HotSync button in the HotSync app on the Palm device) and create another one set to cable/cradle, which it uses automatically when you initiate a HotSync by pressing the button on the USB cable or cradle you connected it with.

Problem solved!

I did a search before I started debugging the problem myself and found several people reporting this problem on Treo 650s. The Bluetooth option has probably introduced the bug in the behavior. Oddly, no posting I saw solved the issue, so hopefully this will help someone else out with the same problem. I don't know if it behaves the same under Windows but if someone has tried this out under Windows, I would like to hear from them.

So hopefully this will help some other people who are having the same issue.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Fetch Art 1.2 Verified Compatible with iTunes 6

I've done some testing with the new version of iTunes, and am happy to report Fetch Art 1.2.0 is fully compatible with iTunes 6.0.

I've tested under Mac OS X Tiger 10.4.2.

For the people who have contacted me with questions:
1) Yes, I am working on a new version.
2) I haven't been able to reproduce most of the bugs reported. Many of them seem to be installation issues with the Apple installer.
3) I do try to respond to all my emails, but the response to this application has been overwhelming, and it's difficult to respond to every one.

Thanks for all the support and kind words. This application seems to work for most people but a few do report bugs or installation problems. I will address some of those issues with the next release hopefully by the end of the year.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Alpine KCA-420i Interface Adapter for iPod is the buggiest piece of consumer electronics that I’ve seen in years.

Ok, so normally on my tech blog, I mention fixes and solutions to technical problems. Unfortunately no such fixes or solutions exist, so this amounts to a review of the Alpine iPod interface along with the CDA-9853 head unit. The review, unfortunately for me who has already invested in the product, is not favorable.

First the basics
Here is Alpine’s info on the iPod connection kit they sell
and here is information on the 9853 head unit to which I connected it.

And lastly my iPod is the 60GB Photo version. I don’t store many photos on it and have about 7.8GB free. Some of that music was purchased off of iTunes although most has been ripped off of my own personal CD collection. Yes, all of my wife’s music that I don’t like is on there too.

Now previously I was using my iPod with a cassette adapter in a cassette stereo. This worked as well as can be expected. It sounded much better than any FM transmitter I tried and it charged my iPod. It wasn’t integrated in any way, however, so that I had to have my iPod out and handy, and navigate using the iPod’s scroll wheel and screen which is not as easy while driving as operating an in dash stereo.

Enter Alpine
I purchased the Alpine 9853 CD player (in dash head unit) and the 420i iPod connection kit at the same time. They MSRP at $400 and $100 respectively. I was very exited to have integrated control of the iPod and to be able to keep the iPod out of site. I had the dock cable installed in my center console where my iPod would spend most of its time.

The KCA-420i does work about as well as the cassette adapter. It provides high quality sound (actually better than the cassette adapter) and it charges the iPod. However, it doesn’t do much more than the cassette adapter did.

Navigating Playlists, Artists, and Albums
Alpine claims the KCA-420i will allow you to control your iPod with the head unit. Well, sometimes. When connecting the iPod to the Alpine deck it always sees the iPod and will play songs from it but for some reason that I haven’t been able to identify about 50% of the time the Alpine deck will not display playlist information, allow you to search, or scan, or do anything other than skip to the next or previous song. It seems to default playing from the whole library in this case, instead of a play list. The navigate button (which looks like a document icon) is supposed to bring up all the items you could normally navigate on the iPod screen such as Artists, Albums, and Playlists. However, in this case it simply doesn’t function. It beeps, so you know it’s being pressed, but it does nothing. Power cycling the head unit doesn’t solve the problem either. I have found the only thing that works is disconnecting the iPod and reconnecting it. This has always solved the problem, and suddenly you will be able to navigate your songs and playlists as expected. Very frustrating but at least we found a work around.

Shuffle and Repeat Settings
Most people I know listen to their iPod music in shuffle mode (or random or as Alpine calls it MIX or M.I.X. mode, I’ll call it shuffle from here on out) so the songs are never played in the same order and I too personally always listen in shuffle mode. I also always have repeat turned off. When I’ve listened to an entire album or playlist, I want the iPod to stop playing, so I know it’s time to choose another album or playlist instead of thinking to myself later… “did I hear this song already?” Of course the Alpine controller understands these functions and has the same settings.

That would be great if it remembered your settings. I expected the head unit to use whatever settings the iPod was currently set for. So for example, after connecting my iPod I expected it to active shuffle (shows up as MIX on the Alpine display) and make sure repeat was off based on my iPod’s settings. It doesn’t. It starts out at the factory default of shuffle off and repeat All. Ok, so I have to manually go through the process of changing those on the deck. It requires a total of 5 presses of three different buttons to make those changes. A bit cumbersome, but you figure, you’ll only have to do it once, right? Wrong! You’ll have to do it, not only every time you disconnect your iPod but every time you turn off the car. That’s right. It remembers these settings for CD playback after you’ve turned off and parked your car, but even if you leave the iPod connected in the vehicle, after you turned off the ignition it goes back to the default settings. That’s an example of how CD playback works better than iPod playback.

Messes the iPod's Settings
While that’s annoying, I’ve saved the best part for last. Ok, so right now you are thinking, “Wow, Alpine didn’t debug their product very well, and has a lot of issues, but still, it seems like maybe it’s ok.” After you’ve used your iPod in the vehicle connected to the KCA-420i, when you remove it, you’ll find not only does the Alpine not remember the settings you gave it correctly, it modified the settings on your iPod to be repeat All and shuffle Off. Every time I disconnect my iPod I have to turn these settings back on. Even when I already turned them back on in the Alpine head unit. Amazing! So not only does the Alpine not handle its own settings correctly, it messes up your settings on your iPod. Seems to me a playback device should not write data to the iPod, it should only read data from it. Anyway, the cassette adapter never had THAT problem.

So in summary of my review…the KCA-420i promises a lot, and delivers very little. It’s obvious it was rushed to market with little debugging and will not operate as expected, or even as the Alpine instruction manual claims. If all you care about is getting the sound from your iPod into your Alpine stereo, it works, however, if you expect flawless song and playlist navigation or consistent playback settings, you will be disappointed. So in conclusion, it really doesn’t work as well as a cassette adapter.

I contacted Alpine. They are aware of all of the issues. The customer service person on the phone was very friendly and said he owned an iPod and had the KCA-420i product in his vehicle as well. He said Alpine engineers were aware of the issues. He also said they would post information on their web site when a firmware update was available. I asked him, “Oh, so a consumer can update the firmware on the KCA-420i? You supply them with a downloadable CD ISO image they can burn and load into their deck and it’ll update the firmware or something like that?” He replied, “No, it would be an Apple firmware release for the iPod to fix the issues.” At that point I asked him how an update to the iPod would improve how the Alpine product worked. He insisted all the logic of the KCA-420i was handled on the iPod. If that’s true why does it cost $100? Anyway, so it doesn’t sound like Alpine has a way or any plans to fix the issues I’ve listed. Seems like false advertising and misleading marketing to release a product that doesn’t perform as stated, and then not try to solve the issue.

I’ll post here if an update or solution to any of these problems are found.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Software Update in Mac OS X Tiger Doesn't work if Ethernet is turned off.

Ok, found a bug today in Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. I have a computer, and the only networking it uses is wireless (Airport). So it made sense to me to turn off the Bluetooth, FireWire, and Ethernet ports in the Network settings, since they weren't being used.

Once I turned off Ethernet, however, I found Software Update hangs right after launching. The Software Update progress bar display fills in about 10% and just sits there forever. As soon as I checked the Ethernet port in the Network settings it worked. I'm not using Ethernet, there is no cable connected, and it's set to DHCP right now, but for whatever reason Software Update won't work without it.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

What all new Oracle users should know about SQL Plus

Ok, I realize anyone who’s used oracle much will already know this, but I still get asked this question a lot. Usually it's from people who know SQL, but haven't worked a lot with Oracle.

If you are using SQL Plus with Oracle, you may be surprised by the odd way it displays results. This is because by default SQL Plus assumes your screen is only 80 characters wide, and 14 rows tall, and wraps accordingly.

You can fix this by entering the following in SQL Plus:
set pagesize 50000 
set linesize 32767

By default those values are 14 and 80 respectively. 32767 is the maximum size for linesize and 50000 is the maximum size for pagesize.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Register printed my letter

He he, it's not much, but hey, The Register, my favorite IT news site printed my letter. Just search for Aric on this page: Letters Page

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Hacking/Cracking passwords on Windows XP, 2000, and NT

Have you every been handed a desktop machine or laptop, and been told..."The information you want is on this machine, but the only employee who knew the administrator password left the company and we don't know any way to get into it."

I have on many occasions. That's when this little utility comes in handy: Offline NT Password & Registry Editor

This works so well, it's hard to believe. Originally designed to run from a boot floppy, but also available as a boot CD image (which is good because long ago I gave up my last computer that had a floppy drive), just pop this disk into the machine, make sure in the BIOS you've enabled boot from CD (or floppy if that's what you are using), follow the prompts, most of the time accepting the default answers. And when you get to the end, you have the ability to enter a blank password for the Administrator account. Let it run, eject the disk, reboot the machine, and BAM! Now that machine is owned by you!

Although I haven't tested it on every Windows version, the makers claim support for Windows NT 3.51, 4.0, 2000, XP, and 2003 including Server versions and published service packs.

Very cool, very easy, and very fast. There are other apps out there that claim to do the same thing. Some probably do, others I believe mess up your registry and might even be Trojan horses. It's a little scary to download a disk image from an unknown website and let it boot up your computer and mess with low level registry security entries. So when you are looking for an app that will break that password but nervous about which one to choose, you can safely use this one as I've used it and am very impressed. Now download this app, and go get your hack on! ;-)

Uninstalling Oracle 10g Manually from Windows XP

Oracle's installation utility has a nasty habit of leaving a lot of items behind.  I wrote this up to document what I've found you need to do to uninstall Oracle 10g manually.  This is specific to 10g and Windows XP.  Removing 9i is very similar if I remember right, but who's using 9i anymore? ;-)

The first thing you should do, is go ahead and run the installation tool to do an uninstall.  It probably will leave some things behind, but it's worth running.  Then go through this list and remove anything it missed.  This list is detailed enough though, that I believe even if you did not run the uninstallation tool, this would fully uninstall Oracle.

The most commonly missed item is to make sure you remove everything from the GAC because the uninstaller doesn't appear to.  I get to that later, but if you wanted to know the largest source of uninstallation problems, it's libraries remaining in the GAC.

After running the supplied Oracle uninstallation utility (which may or may not do some or all of the following):

  • Stop any Oracle services that have been left running.
    Start->Settings->Control Panel->Services
    Look for any services with names starting with 'Oracle' and stop them.

  • Run regedit and delete the following keys (some may have slightly different names in your registry):

    Note that the services control panel will still show the old services until you reboot.

  • Delete the Oracle home directory

  • Delete the Oracle Program Files directory:
    C:\Program Files\Oracle

  • Delete the Oracle Start Menu shortcuts directory:
    C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Oracle*
    Where * indicates the name of your install.  Look for and remove all Oracle directories from that location.

  • Remove Oracle refereces from the path.  To edit your path go to:
    Start->Settings->Control Panel->System->Advanced->Environment Variables
    Edit both of the environment variables user PATH and system PATH.  Remove any Oracle references in them.

  • Remove Oracle.DataAccess and any Polic.Oracle files from the GAC which is at:

  • There, now your system is Oracle free.  If you are installing a new instance of Oracle (and not just an additional DB) I recommend you do this before any new Oracle installation.
    Note: I used several other websites and searches as references when developing these steps, but I was unable to find any steps that covered all of the items for Oracle 10g so I assembled them here.

    Installing Oracle 10g under Mac OS X

    Ok, so you want to install Oracle 10g for free (under the developer license) to your Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger computer.

    There's a couple things you should know. First, Oracle 10g is only officially supported under Mac OS X Server, but it seems to work fine under plan old Mac OS X (non-server).

    There's a great blog here about how to install it under 10.3:
    Installing Oracle Database 10g on Mac OS X

    and another blog here that covers fixes/changes needed to install it under 10.4 Tiger:
    Set up Oracle 10g on Tiger

    Spaces in hard drive names...unfortunately it turns out Oracle simply doesn't support spaces in its path, which it will tell you about much later in the install. That means you cannot install this on to a hard drive with a space in its name. So while they claim to support Java/Unix/Mac OS X which all support spaces in the names of files and directories, they choose not to allow that. Strange.

    Oracle, if you want I'd be willing to help with your native Mac OS X development of Oracle software and installation tools. Are you listening? ;-)

    Wednesday, June 01, 2005

    Fetch Art 1.2 for Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger Released by yours truly

    Just a quick note, that I've taken over development of the excellent Fetch Art application by Yoel Inbar. I finally got a version working 100% with Mac OS X 10.4.

    It's available on my website here:

    Sunday, May 22, 2005

    In Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, AppleScript reports versions differently

    Previously, when checking for what version of AppleScript Studio you were running under, you would need to follow these articles
    Specifying Minimum Requirements for an Application and Version Constant

    That state that you should check for your version with a line like this:
    if (AppleScript's version as string) ≥ "1.8.2" then

    Where 1.9.2 corresponds to AppleScript Studio 1.1 or later. The reason the versions are different (i.e. AppleScript reports 1.8.2 but AppleScript Studio is 1.1) is because 1.8.2 represents the version of AppleScript which came out much before AppleScript Studio came out.

    Anyway, in Tiger, now it reports the version of AppleScript Studio, so that line should really read.
    if (AppleScript's version as string) ≥ "1.1" then

    Just a minor change that appears to have broken a lot of AppleScripts.

    After updating to Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, Project Builder doesn't work

    Ok, so now that I've updated to Tiger, I've found whenever I try to open any project file (.pbproj) in Project Builder, I get an error like this:
    Reason: *** -[PBXToolbar _notificationPostingEnabled]: selector not recognized [self = 0x4cf6880].

    This happens even to the sample projects installed with Tiger.

    I found the solution is simply to load them into XCode instead. It will ask you if it's ok to convert the project first, but every project I have done this with compiles fine in XCode. Apple is phasing out Project Builder for XCode. So, just re-associate your .pbproj files to XCode using the Get Info window.

    Updating the iPod’s Firmware Requires Power Adapter for USB users

    As an owner of an iPod for about two years now (first a 40GB 3rd generation, and now a 60GB iPod Photo), and having performed many software/firmware upgrades on my iPod in the past, I was stunned after upgrading my iPod Photo the other day, that after the upgrade, it insisted on being plugged into the wall in order to complete the update. I had never seen that before. What was different? I was using USB instead of FireWire.

    Apparently during the writing of the new update to the firmware the iPod requires more power than USB can offer. My guess is some computers could power it fine over USB, but the USB standard is lax about power requirements, and some computers offer less power than others across their USB bus.

    While the instructions after the firmware updater are run, and the graphic that appears on the iPod imply you MUST use the wall power adapter, I’ve found that connecting the iPod to my car cigarette lighter adapter, and to my computers 6 pin FireWire port also allowed it to flash its firmware successfully. So apparently it is only 4pin FireWire and USB connections that require an alternate power source.

    This was a problem for me, however, as I normally carry my iPod around without the power adapter, or FireWire cable when I’m traveling, as my home laptop is a PowerBook, but my work/travel laptop is a Windows machine that I connect to via USB. Luckily I was able to connect it to someone’s car charger while I was traveling to complete the update, however, I think Apple should put a large orange sticker on the USB cable included with the iPod warning users that you could be stuck with a non-working iPod if you travel with only the USB cable and NOT the power adapter, and choose to do a software update. They should at least, when running the updater software, warn the user they will need a power adapter to complete the firmware update. They allow you to run the update enough off of USB to disable your iPod, but not restore it.

    Anyway, here is the graphic on the iPod screen you will be presented with when you do a firmware update, and do not have a power adapter:

    The safest thing to do, I guess, is never do a firmware update when traveling without your power adapter.

    I found some discussions about this here as well: iPodlounge

    Thursday, May 05, 2005

    Bug in Word 2003 Multiple Image Picture File Import with AutoCaption and a VB Script I Wrote to Import and Caption Multiple Image Files Correctly

    Until Microsoft Word XP there was a huge oversight in image import, that I would call a bug, but most would probably just consider a design flaw. In versions of Word prior to XP and 2003 (up to and including 2000) the insert picture command only allowed inserting one image at a time. So, for example, if you went into Insert->Picture->From File… and tried to select more than one image in the file selection dialog, you were out of luck. Thankfully that feature was introduced in Word XP and continues in Microsoft Word 2003. (Incidentally, Microsoft Word 2004 for Mac still does not allow the selection of more than one image at a time under that same menu option, which I consider a serious flaw. This is one example of where the Windows version of Word is superior to the Mac OS X version. And in Word 2004 for Mac, dragging and dropping multiple image files onto a Word document, only results in one of the images being inserted, which I do consider a bug as that is not how any other Mac application behaves.)

    Ok, so I needed to put together a report containing several hundred UML diagrams. The diagrams had already been exported in .WMF format, which Word can read, and since I was using Word 2003, I was able to select all of them for import at the same time. I thought my problems had been solved.

    However, I also needed Word to AutoCaption (and number) the images, just with a simple caption, like “Figure 10” under each one. So I turned on AutoCaption for importing images (you do this by selecting Insert->Caption… and then clicking AutoCaption in the dialog and then selecting the type of files you want captions to be added to on import.)

    Perfect. I had AutoCaption setup to put the word “Figure” and an auto incrementing number after that on every image I imported. I selected my several hundred image files, and told Word to import them. That’s when we found a pretty major bug in Word 2003.

    To demonstrate this bug, let’s simplify the task a bit. Let’s say I have three images of cats I want to import and AutoCaption. While I expected, when I imported them to look like this:

    Instead, it came out looking like this:

    That’s a pretty serious bug as no one would ever want that behavior, and it seems pretty obvious that no one ever tested multiple image file import with AutoCaption on before shipping Word 2003. Since it has been out for over two years now, I don’t have high hopes of it getting fixed anytime soon.

    So how did I solve this problem? I wrote a VB script that does the import and captioning for you. I’ve included the source here. Hopefully it will help anyone else who comes across this bug.

    Here is the script:

    Sub InsertImagesWithCaptions()

    Dim fso, d1, file, fileName
    Set fso = CreateObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject")
    fileName = "C:\Documents and Settings\aric\My Documents\My Pictures\Cats"
    Set d1 = fso.GetFolder(fileName)
    For Each file In d1.Files
    Selection.ParagraphFormat.Alignment = wdAlignParagraphCenter
    Selection.InlineShapes.AddPicture fileName:= _
    file, LinkToFile:=False, SaveWithDocument:=True
    Selection.InsertCaption Label:="Figure", TitleAutoText:="", Title:="", _
    Position:=wdCaptionPositionBelow, ExcludeLabel:=0
    Selection.ParagraphFormat.Alignment = wdAlignParagraphCenter
    End Sub

    You'll have to customize the fileName path to point to the directory containing the images you want to import, but that's a lot simpler that manually importing them and captioning them.

    BTW apparently even though Word 2004 for Mac supports VB macros, it doesn’t understand CreateObject. If anyone knows how to get a directory like this in VB in Word 2004 for Mac OS X, let me know, and I’ll post a Mac version of this script as well.

    Tuesday, April 26, 2005

    Multiple Conflicting FireWire Enclosures from the Same Manufacturers

    I currently use a Titanium PowerBook as my primary computer. However, I’m also a power user and a laptop has a limited amount of upgradeability. That means I have a lot of external devices connected to my laptop using FireWire. FireWire supports 63 devices which is great for someone like me and I’m nowhere close to 63. I have three external hard drives (two 250GB 3.5” and one bus powered 30GB 2.5”), two external DVD burners (a Pioneer 109, and a Pioneer 104), one external CD-RW burner (a Plextor W4824A), and an iPod as well as a 6 port FireWire hub. That’s only 8 devices. Not very close to the limit of 63, however, when I added my latest DVD burner (the Pioneer 109), I had a lot of problems. I eventually solved them, and I’m writing down my experiences so hopefully someone can learn from my pain.

    In short…
    It turns out, that FireWire devices have unique IDs similar to the MAC address on Ethernet devices. Some manufacturers use the same ID on all of their devices, which causes problems if you connect two devices from the same manufacturer to your computer. My guess is the FireWire people told the manufacturers they needed to supply unique IDs, however, somewhere along the line, that information didn’t make it to the assembly line personnel.

    I’ve seen this problem with enclosures from Plumax and Acomdata and I’m sure many other manufacturers out there are doing this as well. I can also say for certain that the Mercury Elite Pro 3.5” enclosures do not suffer from this problem, as I’ve been using two identical ones for a while without fail. In fact, these are my favorite FireWire 3.5” enclosures, and I highly recommend them. You can get them here:
    Other World Computing

    I’ll describe how I fixed the problem below by manually changing the FireWire ID. I spent most of the time trying to isolate the problem, and then reading detailed specifications about the Oxford FireWire bridge chipsets (thanks to Oxford making their information available for download in PDF format!). But I’m getting ahead of myself.

    First of all, this applies to enclosures that use the Oxford FireWire chipsets. I believe it applies to 911, 911+, 912, and 922 chipsets. Although I specifically was working with 911+ and 912. If you have an enclosure that uses a different chipset, such as Prolific, I don’t know how to help you. I’ve worked with enough enclosures to know that when you are shopping, you want to make sure you get one that has an Oxford chipset in it. All other brands have received reports of bugs and data corruption issues, that I ignored, until I lost data that I was able to trace back to a problem with the Prolific chipset. Since then, I will only buy Oxford (I should write another entry just covering that experience!) There are probably ways to do this for the other chipsets, I just don’t know what it is. I believe Prolific, and Initio are the other FireWire chipsets. Not sure of any other brands.

    Second, flashing or modifying firmware can toast your enclosure. For some reason while following the instructions that worked previously and using the same flash software, I erased a 911+ chipset, and was never able to upload a new firmware to it, rendering the enclosure unusable. If anyone knows how to revive a 911+ that claims it’s ready to be flashed, but just seems to ignore the flash, contact me. So standard disclaimer…you do this at your own risk.

    This should apply to Windows as well as Mac or Linux and other supported Unix computers. The flash software I’m going to discuss is Java based, so it’s cross platform. How Oxford got a Java app to access FireWire hardware is beyond me, unless they are imbedding some OS specific binaries in there. If someone from Oxford Semiconductors wants to contact me, I’d love to chat!

    Ok, so let’s assume, you’ve purchased two new identical model enclosures for those two new drives you just got. And you’ve found, like I did, that whenever both of them were connected and powered on, your computer had a terrible time talking to them. Some of the symptoms were:
    Incomplete directory listings
    Long pauses when accessing either drive
    One drive never mounting/showing up on the desktop
    And occasionally, when I told one drive (a DVD drive) to eject, it would eject the other drive. It was at that point I realized that the computer wasn’t able to tell the drives apart.

    Basically there are two reasons to muck with your firmware. You can upgrade to the latest version (which was my goal at first, although that didn’t solve my problems) and you can also edit some of the “advanced settings” of the drives, which are stored in the flash memory as well. It’s worth noting, that you can update the settings in flash memory without actually flashing a new firmware, which makes changing the settings a bit less risky than uploading new firmware.

    Now that you’ve identified the problematic enclosures, and verified that they are running Oxford chipsets, it’s time to start getting some software that lets us mess around with the internals. I found the software by searching in many places, and was able to verify the latest version, at this time 1.64, was here:
    Cool Drives FireWire Info
    Specifically, the 1.64 Java updater/uploader/cloner apps for Mac OS X:
    Since it’s Java you would think that would work on Windows too, however they list a separate Windows version here:

    Ok, if you want to get some more recent firmware you can get it from links I supply below. When I download the flash apps, they didn’t usually include the firmware files, although they had directories where you could put your own.

    Anyway, they recommend that you disconnect all other FireWire devices except the one you want to work with. I just powered them down, so the only things that were active were my FireWire hub and the drive I wanted to mess with.

    Then I launched the uploadergui.jar file.

    Right away this found my Oxford based drive, and brought up the firmware information on it. It looked like this:

    I then clicked the Modify Configuration button. If that button is grayed out, make sure you launched uploadergui.jar and NOT updatergui.jar. You should see something like this after clicking the Modify Configuration button:

    Note the all important Chip ID Hi and Chip ID Lo fields. The reason I even thought to start messing with them, is because the other app that came with the uploader is called the clonergui.jar. It’s designed to take the already flashed firmware from one device and propagate it to other identical devices. It stresses that every time it uploads a clone, that it will increment the chip id by 1 for every device it flashes. Unfortunately, it didn’t make it clear to me if it only changed the Chip ID Hi or Lo or both fields. I’m guessing it simply added 1 to the hex value in the Chip ID Lo field. To be safe, I modified the values in both fields, just changing a number in each position and incrementing it by a value of one. So for example, I think Chip ID Hi, was 02, so I changed it to 03. If someone wants to clarify the usage of the Hi and Lo values, feel free to contact me. Anyway, after changing both values, I simply clicked the Upload Changes button. After that, everything started working. Obviously I only had to change that value for one of the drives, and could keep the other drive at its factory default.

    While this sounds pretty simple now, it took me a lot of research to find all this information. None of it was sitting in one place. Hopefully this entry will help someone else out in the same situation. And maybe more importantly, Plumax will start making their Chip IDs unique.

    Links that helped me solve the puzzle:

    Thank you for the latest 1.64 updater utility.
    Cool Drives

    Latest firmware files, and some good info.
    FireWire Depot

    Thanks for making the awesome Oxford FireWire chipsets.
    Oxford Semiconductor

    Detailed guide on using the flash uploaded app.
    Uploader Guide in PDF

    I think this is the same guide as I listed before with some other chipset documents.
    More docs at Oxford

    Firmware 1.02 for 912 chipset:

    Firmware 4.00 for the 911 chipset (I believe this includes the 911+ chipset):

    Firmware 1.07 for the 922 chipset:

    Monday, April 25, 2005

    Borland Together Software Bugs and Fixes

    Ok, I've ran into a lot of issues with Borland's Together Architect and Control Center 6.1 software. (Architect 6.2 is the successor of Control Center 6.1, however, I've been using both, as there are some incompatibilities between them.)

    Did your model stop working?
    I ended up with a model, that once it was open, hardly any menus in Together would work. The menus would appear, but selecting an item, had no affect. For example, selecting Project->Properties, never displayed the property dialog. The behavior occurred right after adding some Favorites. If you get into a situation where no menu or buttons actually have any affect (even selecting Exit doesn't close the application) try opening your .tws file in a text editor and removing the favorites entries. They should look something like this:

    favorites.root.0 = <oiref:cpp#Class#ClassName1:cpp>
    favorites.root.1 = <oiref:cpp#Class#ClassName2:cpp>

    I simply deleted all the lines in that file with favorites entries, and reloaded the project, and now Together started working again. This was in version 6.1.

    Incompatibilities Between Together
    Architect 6.2, and Together Control Center 6.1
    Together Architect defaults to using the old (non XML) model
    format to maintain backwards compatibility with previous
    versions.  That's great, in theory, however I've come across some
    problems.  I'll try to list them here as I discover and verify

    1. Sequence diagrams created in 6.2 are not seen/ignored by 6.1

    2. I've seen instances where Favorites added in 6.1 are not seen
      when loaded into 6.2 although this doesn't always occur.

    That's it for now.  I'll keep coming back and updating this list
    as I find issues.