Saturday, December 08, 2007

Adobe Updater Crashes on Mac OS X and a Fix

Ok, so if you're like me, you got your Adobe Photoshop CS3 upgrade, and figured all those problems that have been building up from staying with the old Photoshop 7 would be eliminated?

What problems? Oh, all those failures from automatic updates.

So I was rather disappointed when every time I launched Photoshop, Adobe Updater would generate one of those... "This application has crashed unexpectedly would you like to report it to Apple..." dialogs. I even knew there had been some updates made available, but I couldn't get them because Adobe Update would crash anytime it was launched.

I've got a friend who's situation was even worse. His Adobe Updater was set to run on startup, and would crash his entire system every-time it launched.

So what's the solution? Well, it appears that it must be a permission issue with the updater needing to modify files it doesn't have enough access too.

We can solve this by opening Terminal (in your Utilities folder under Applications) and running a unix command line giving it full access to your system.
(Ok the following line displays poorly in the blogger template, however it should be easy to select and then cut and paste into your Terminal app.)
sudo /Applications/Utilities/Adobe\ Utilities.localized/Adobe\ Updater5/Adobe\\ Updater

Copying and pasting that into Terminal should cause it to ask for your password. Go ahead and type in your password. Now that should launch the updater app. Assuming you have admin rights and can use sudo, the application should have all the power over you system it needs to complete an update. I had to take a further step and install some updates separately. I think I had about 6 or 7 updates to install, and I'd always get an update failed message when I tried to do all of them. However, I did them one at a time, and eventually everything installed.

Now when Adobe Updater auto launches on my system, it no longer crashes. Yea!

I wish Adobe would spend as much time perfecting their updater app, as they have on their software. Aside from being a resource hog, Photoshop CS3 rocks!

Update: With this blog posting it would appear Adobe is aware of the issues, however, it doesn't imply they'll be able to solve them.

Update 2: Although this blog posting is more to do with the installer rather then the updater it sure points out that Adobe's weak link is in developing their installers.

Props go to Sjan.E in the Adobe user forums for the suggestion of using sudo in this thread.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Warning, Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard really ups the requirements

Ok so check out these changes in minimum requirements for Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger vs 10.5 Leopard

Ok both require:
* DVD drive
* Built-in FireWire

But now let's look at the differences...

* An Intel processor or a PowerPC G3 (233 MHz or faster), G4, or G5 processor
* At least 256MB of physical RAM
* At least 3.0 GB of available space on your hard drive; 4GB of disk space if you install XCode 2 developer tools

* An Intel processor or a PowerPC G4 (867 MHz or faster) or G5 processor
* At least 512MB of RAM (additional recommended)
* At least 9GB of hard disk space

That's a huge leap!
They went from a 233MHz G3 to an 867MHz G4 as a minimum. Doubled the RAM. More than doubled the hard drive.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Roxio Creator Plus Dell Edition Cannot Make Bootable Windows Discs

My Dell laptop (Latitude D820) came with Roxio Creator Plus Dell Edition for use with the built in DVD burner. I believe this odd OEM version is built based on Easy CD Creator 7.

Sometimes you need to burn bootable CDs for Windows. Mostly this is necessary when you want to create a Windows installer disc to reformat and install a fresh OS. While Roxio Creator Plus Dell Edition does have the option to make a CD bootable, it doesn’t appear to actually work. It requires you supply an image of the boot code (no problem, I have several such working image files, and they are easily found on the internet as well.) However, after burning the "bootable" disc it doesn’t boot the computer giving me an error code 4. Grrrr.

This is only a theory but I believe it is picking the wrong emulation type. There isn’t a dialog or setting that lets you manually control the emulation type (as there is on other versions of Creator) however, the Help File says:

  • An emulation format is selected based on the size of the image
    you select:

    • If the image is 1.44 MB or less, a bootable CD or DVD will be
      created that your computer sees as a 1.44 MB floppy disk. When you
      start your computer using this bootable CD or DVD, the disc will
      automatically be assigned drive letter A:.

    • If the image is between 1.44 and 2.88 MB, a bootable CD or DVD
      will be created that your computer sees as a 2.88 MB floppy disk. When
      you start your computer using this bootable CD or DVD, the disc will
      automatically be assigned drive letter A:.

    • If the image is larger than 2.88 MB, a bootable CD or DVD will
      be created that your computer sees as a hard disk partition. When you
      start your computer using this bootable CD or DVD, the disc will
      automatically be assigned drive letter C:.

Well thanks Roxio for taking out (or breaking) a very important feature in your software. In the full Creator software, you have the ability to choose the emulation type yourself. And for the record, I have yet to see a boot image larger than 1.44MB so it appears it will always choose floppy disk emulation.

Interestingly I’ve heard from several people who have non Dell OEM versions of Easy CD/DVD Creator 7 and 8 (which as I said do give you the manual option of choosing emulation) yet still are not correctly making bootable discs. Roxio, care to comment?

So if you’re like me, at the office, all you have is this version of Roxio software that won’t make a bootable CD (even though it claims it will.) What can you do? If only Nero had a 30 day free trial download or something.

There is hope… nLite is a pretty amazing free (donations accepted) software package that not only will create a bootable Windows install image but it will burn it to a CD bypassing the need for Creator at all, AND it allows you to easily slipstream new service packs into your install.

Now I went ahead and downloaded nLite, tried it out, and it worked great! If you are creating a bootable Windows install CD whether you want to slipstream hotfixes and service packs in your installation or not, this is the app to use!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Working with WMA files on Mac OS X and iTunes

No doubt MP3 files are the most common format. However, there are also a lot of WMA files out there too. In fact, it's probably the second most popular format, next to MP3s. As long as the WMA file doesn't contain DRM, you can play Windows Media Audio files fine on your Mac.

To add support in QuickTime for the format (so you can use them in most QuickTime enabled apps, or even play them in the preview view in the Finder) simply download Flip4Mac for free here (yep, that's a Microsoft site, because they want their audio and video formats to play on Mac OS X and have dropped support for the native Windows Media Player for the Mac.) Flip4Mac Download. This will let you play and use the WMA files in most Mac OS X applications, except for in iTunes which will still refuse to play WMA files.

If you want to use the files in iTunes, you will have to convert them to a different format. I recommend the $10 utility called EasyWMA which will allow you to do batch conversion on a large number of files at one time.

Oh, and iTunes for Windows will automatically convert and play your WMA files for you. It's only on Mac OS X iTunes that you need to convert the files yourself.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Canon PIXMA MP830 Hack to enable direct to CD/DVD printing on printable media.

Ok, I just bought on of these babies refurbished for $199 at Fry's Electronics. I've used nearly every all in one printer on the market, and I can say, for my needs, this is the best one out there (well under say $600).

Oddly in the US this printer does not ship with a tray to print on CD or DVD printable media, but you can purchase a tray separately and enable the feature. I haven't been able to confirm this but it appears that it was disabled in this country because someone other than Canon holds a patent on that feature (which sounds silly to me... like holding a patent on printing on paper) and they would not license it to Canon.

You'll also have to remove the plastic door that was placed over the CD/DVD tray insert slot. Just open the printer, and snap it off by pulling or prying. This was easier than I expected and took only a few seconds. I only pulled it off with my hand (and fingernails.) No tools required.

Anyway, to switch it to UK (instead of US) mode and enable printing, follow these instructions:

1. Plug the printer in, but leave it powered off. If it is already on, turn it off.
2. Press and hold the Stop/Reset button.
3. While still holding the Stop/Reset button, press and hold the Power button.
4. Hold both of them down for 5 seconds, then release the Stop/Reset button, continuing to hold down the power button.
5. Press and release the Stop/Reset button 2 times.
6. Release the power button.

At this point the printer should power on, but it will enter a special service mode.

7. Wait until the green copy light on the control panel stops flashing. This takes about 30 seconds.
8. (Optional) If you wish, you can press the Stop/Reset button 1 time, then press the Power button, and a ROM page will print. It should indicate US region at the top.
9. Press the Stop/Reset button 5 times to enter the "Set Region Mode". Then press the Power button.
10. Press the Stop/Reset button 4 times for Europe/UK (3 times for the US if you wish to change it back later). Then press the Power button.
11. (Optional) If you wish, you can press the Stop/Reset button 1 time, then press the Power button, and a ROM page will print. It should indicate Euro region at the top.
12. Press the Power button 2 times to save the changes.

I purchased my CD/DVD tray Type D from here: annocjr on eBay

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Command Paths not working, and %SystemRoot% not resolving...and a fix

This happened to apply to my brand spanking new Dell Latitude D820, however, I believe it is a more general problem that can occur with Windows. I don't know what situations create the problem, but I did find a solution. Also searching the web for this problem reveals others have been troubled with it as well.

Ok, so I found simple "always there" commands weren't working, such as ping or ipconfig. When trying to launch ipconfig from the command line I would get: 'ipconfig' is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file. (You can see it in the screenshot of my Command Prompt below.)

I did an echo %PATH% and observed that %SystemRoot% was not being evaluated. You can see from the screenshot below instead of showing "C:\WINDOWS" it was showing %SystemRoot% (I've highlighted them in red.) This is the state the computer shipped from Dell with a purchased copy of XP Pro installed so this situation is going to affect a LOT of users. Of course, maybe most Dell customers don't use the command line.

Scroll down to see the screenshot... argh these blogspot templates suck at handling wide images.

Here's a screenshot of the error, and the faulty path lookup in action.

So my immediate thought was that %SystemRoot% hadn't been setup in the Windows Environment Variables. However, bringing up the dialog showed me that it was:

Anyway, the solution is just to kick Windows XP into re-evaluating the %Path% variable. The entries were all there, but somehow Windows has cached an invalid lookup for it. The easiest way I believe to do this is to go into the environment variables. Just click edit, you don't even have to change anything, and then click OK.

Now your old command prompt if it is open won't be updated, but if you open a new one, everything should work as you expected.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

New Dell laptop error: Insert the Sonic Update Manager disk and click OK and the fix.

I've got a spanking new Dell Latitude D820. Of course, like all Dells, instead of shipping with a clean install of Windows, it has a lot of stuff pre-installed.

I supposed that's ok, considering, for example, the Roxio Sonic DVD Creator software wouldn't normally ship with Windows, and it's the only way I can burn DVDs with my new internal DVD burner.

However, Dell, doesn't apparently make sure all of their software is installed correctly. When I launch Roxio Creator Plus (by Sonic Solutions...who owns who here?) I was presented with the following dialogs:

Now this one wouldn't necessarily mean it's an error, as sometimes you see this dialog the first time you launch a newly installed application. However, things went downhill quickly:

Insert the Sonic Update Manager disk and click OK.

Hmm. So now it is asking me to install a CD that I don't have and most likely is a side effect of Dell's setup/installation procedure prior to shipping out the laptop. Attempting to continue at this point finally ends in failure with this message:

An installation package for the product Sonic Update Manager cannot be found. Try the installation again using a valid copy of the installation package 'UM.MSI'.

The message indicates that UM.MSI is the name of the installation package that Dell used to setup my laptop, which of course, I don't have. Worst, while the Roxio Creator software does launch and looks like it might function, canceling out of these software dialogs just brings up new ones. As long as the Roxio Creator software is open, an infinite loop of these pop up dialogs displays, making the software completely unusable.

Luckily the problem is known. It's actually a problem with the Update Manager component in the InstallShield software that Roxio used to package their product and Dell then used to install their product. A fix for the problem can be downloaded from the makers of InstallShield here.

Friday, February 02, 2007

So you got that new printer, that does borderless printing...but you can't find out how?

UPDATE May 2007 This doesn't seem to apply with the latest drivers for Intel Macs. It looks like for those Epson figured out how to get the features into a single printer, where they belong. Unfortunately they didn't release the update for PowerPC Macs, which ALSO means you can't printer share from an Intel Mac (with one of these Epsons) to a PowerPC Mac because the printer driver need to be the same version. Ugh!END UPDATE

In Mac OS X, possibly the most convoluted configuration issue is printers that handle different or abnormal page sizes.

I own an Epson 2200 and an R200 (actually my R200 just died, and I'll be throwing it out but that's beside the point.) Both of these printers support borderless printing (and another mode called "minimize margins") as well as roll paper printing. However, after installing the printers, and going through every option in the Page Setup and Print dialogs, it looks like those features are not available in Mac OS X 10.4.

Well those features are available, they just aren't enabled by default. Apparently Mac OS X handles printers in a way that doesn't make it easy to change things like roll paper additions or differing hardware margins in a single printer. You'd think that would be handled just fine in the paper settings from the Page Setup dialog, but it isn't. It's possible this shortcoming is actually Epson's fault for how they implemented support for these features in their drivers, but no matter who is to blame, the configuration isn't obvious. You have to basically setup a different printer on the computer for each of these features that affects the paper margins and paths. So for example, instead of just having the R200 listed as an available printer, you'll have the R200 and the R200 "borderless" and the R200 "Roll Paper" etc. Of course, they are all the same printer, but to your Mac they all look like different printers with different capabilities and will be listed as different printers in your print dialog.

To get access to all these wonderful features, just follow these easy instructions:

You need to open the Printer Browser window. There are two ways to get to the Printer Browser:
Go under the Utilities folder under Applications and launch the Printer Setup Utility. Click the Add printer icon.
Inside the Print & Fax control panel inside System Preferences, select the printing tab and click the + symbol to create a new printer.

Either one of those steps bring up the Printer Browser:

At this point, your current Epson printer should show up in the Printer Browser. Now click More Printers...

In the drop down dialog sheet that appears click on the pop up menu at the top and select "Epson USB" (or "Epson FireWire" if you are using a printer with a FireWire connection like the 2200.) It takes a while sometimes for these dialogs to update as they are scanning the USB busses as well as searching every known printer driver installed on your computer.

At that point your printer should appear with the different features listed in the Page Setup pop up menu. For example, if you now select your Epson 2200 printer, under the Page Setup menu, you should see an entry for your 2200 with borderless printing, another entry for roll printing, etc.

Add any of the ones you want to have available or all of them. Then when printing, you have to choose which printer to use based on what features you want (they will all appear in your printer dialog as separate printers, and you can even designate one of them to be your default printer.) Oh and make sure you select them in both your Page Setup dialogs as well as your Print dialogs if you need features (such as special paper sizes) available. The Page Setup dialog will let you choose the larger paper types supported by roll printing, etc.

So there you go, now you can take full advantage of your expanded printer capabilities.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Excel doesn't even give me the option of running Macros

I have several Excel spreadsheets that I use regularly that have macros, one of which is a time tracking sheet that automatically downloads and uploads job and client codes based on P.O. information stored on our private server.

Anyway, these normally open fine, with a warning dialog about macros and their inherent security risk, giving you two buttons to let you choose to enable or disable macros for that session. No problem, since I'm familar with the documents, and know they are safe, I always choose to enable macros.

Oddly about once every other month it shows a different dialog saying macros need to be enabled to use this feature, and it doesn't even give me the option of enabling them.

Here's the solution if you wish to open an Excel spreadsheet with macros enabled, and you aren't being allowed to:
To solve this delima, you can go into Excel under Tools -> Macro -> Security and set the setting to Low.

What I couldn't understand was why this setting kept changing. It apearred to me that everytime I install a Microsoft Office update, it seems to change that setting to a higher level. So don't be surprised if you have to change that again after installing an update from Microsoft.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Debugging my latest Blue Screen of Death (BSOD)

Turns out a service called crypserv.exe was causing my laptop to blue screen. Read below for more info.

My laptop started randomly blue screening. Nothing too unusual for a Windows machine, but as I try to keep my XP laptop for development very clean, it was actually the first BSOD I had seen on this machine that I've been using for over a year now.

Ok, so I knew something in my config. had changed. So I had to think of what I installed recently. I was trying to work with a large source code dump I had gotten as a 3gig tarball. The first thing I needed to do was make some space on my horribly inadequate 40GB hard drive. For some reason Windows Explorer doesn't have the simple ability to list or sort by folder sizes in the Detail View mode. In order to see which folders were taking up a lot of space to know which ones to delete I installed an application called ViewFolderSize Pro. Now I did a search for utilities that would calculate the folder sizes and display them in the File Explorer. I found about three, and ViewFolderSize Pro appeared to be pretty polished and got some good recommendations, so I downloaded it and installed it. It had a timed trial period (30 days I think) after which they wanted you to purchase the software. Apparently they used crypserv.exe as a way of enforcing their licensing.

No blue screens yet and the product basically worked as advertised. It was very slow, apparently made a cache file that it didn't tell me where it stored it, and sorting seemed a bit random. After using the product to find a couple large directories I decided to uninstall it mostly due to concerns about it slowing down my machine, and an uneasiness in how stable the software was based on some of its shortcomings. Apparently the uninstaller didn't remove the crypserv.exe service.

Once I rebooted after the uninstall, the laptop could not function for 10 minutes without BSODing if simply left alone. Oddly I noticed that if I kept the laptop active, it would take much longer to BSOD. I also noticed the CPU fan came on about 2 seconds before BSODing meaning of course, some process was pegging the CPU at 100% just before the BSOD. Ok, so my theory was that some process was running away with the CPU and causing a memory exception. So after rebooting another time, I launched the Task manager, told it to sort by CPU, then I sat there staring at it. After a few minutes a process jumped up to using 99% of the CPU. It was crypserv.exe. In less than two seconds, the laptop BSODed.

Ok, great, I found my culprit. I rebooted, disabled the service in the services control panel, and then removed the crypserv.exe file from my hard drive. Rebooted once more to make sure the crypserv.exe didn't reappear, which it did not, and I've been blue screen free ever since.