Archive for October 26, 2007

Dell Flashing Amber Power light, possible workaround.

Dell Flashing Amber Power light, possible workaround.

G’day all 🙂

I have a Dell 5150 that has come in with a flashing amber power light error. The Power Supply unit was stuffed, so replaced it with another, but the problem remained, so I assume the motherboard is also stuffed.

Out of curiosity, before writing it off completely and after having done all the usual things us IT people do before declaring a motherboard dead, I tried forcing it to power up using the power on link in the ATX connector. The fan spun, etc, but there was no other sign of life. I then removed the jump lead and the fans, etc, stopped. However, the flashing had stopped too, and pressing the power button again caused the machine to start normally, and it appears to be fine.. until you turn it off, at which point the orange flash comes back.

So, if you have one of these machines, it might be worth trying to force it to turn on – but first be aware that just because it worked for me doesn’t mean it will work for you – there’s a risk that there could be a big bang! Disconnect any drives before you dare try, and if worried, rig it up to happen outside on a bench by remote control Mythbusters style!

So, here’s how.

1 – Connect the power supply to power.
2 – Using a short piece of wire (or in the Mythbusters style, two long pieces of wire) create a short between the green wire in the ATX connector with an adjacent black wire. (Pins 14 and 15 as shown on
You should hear the fan spin up and maybe see some diagnostic LEDs flashing on the front panel.
3 – Disconnect the temporary short you made.
4 – Press the power button on the front of the computer. If it starts, yay. If not, try again a few times. If it still doesn’t work, and you’ve tried a new power supply, then I guess it’s time to add the motherboard to your ‘soon to be a new pot plant pot’ collection. (You need at least three motherboard to join together to make a pot plant pot.)

Hope it works! If it does, you might need to add a second power button to your computer by patching in to the appropriate power supply wires, and labelling it “pre-launch prime” or something!

Edit: A few hours later…

I’ve found a mangled USB port on the front panel of the computer after installing XP and getting a Power Surge on USB Port error. After bending the pins therein to stop them shorting to ground, it appears that the orange flash has gone away! Check your USB ports!

Edit 2: A couple of days later…

Client said USB port was mangled prior to this failure, so it’s not a conclusive cause in this case.

How to keep or reset the File Created date when copying files.

How to keep or reset the File Created date when copying files.

I just discovered something interesting. I had a stack of photos copied from one computer to another, and the creation dates all became the date and time I copied them, which made a mess in Picasa.

However, the modification dates were correct – that is they were the date the original photo was taken. (My camera didn’t have EXIF then.)

If you Zip the photos, then Unzip them again (using Windows XP’s Built in Zip thing) it changes the creation date to be the same as the modified date, thereby resetting the date of the file!

In my case it doesn’t quite fix the Picasa problem in that it turns out I’ll have to sync the db folder on multiple PCs and to do this I first have to change the location of the photos to be the same on all computers. (Probably a P drive in TrueCrypt – advantage: Photos encrypted for privacy in case of theft, and stored in one file that can be easily backed up to DVD without fear of losing dates, etc.)

[ccc-news] Assorted News :)

[ccc-news] Assorted News 🙂

In this edition:

Important News
Pricing Changes: CCC going GST Free

What’s New on the ‘Net
“Free” Legal Pay TV via the Internet – 15,000 shows on 250 channels.
5 cent SMS through the Internet
Security Key for Paypal / Ebay

Keeping the Kingswood, and other Survey Results
2ndhand PCs for sale
VoIP settles down, demo VoIP units available.
New Mailing List
Web site update

CCC going GST Free

CCC has applied to deregister for GST as of 1 Oct 2007. I’m able to do so as my turnover is consistently under $75,000 per year.

Why? It makes Auzzie’s Dialup service cheaper, it makes residential computer repairs cheaper, and it removes the administrative headache of accounting for GST, saving both time and money.

This is an experimental change, and may be reversed at a future date if it turns out to be a problem 🙂 At present, the only problem I can see with it is that for some businesses, it makes the cost of using CCC a little higher as they will not be able to claim GST on any invoice issued by CCC. However, as you know CCC is pretty well priced, so I suspect it won’t be a big deal 🙂 .. which leads to …

A modest price rise.

The current pricing for CCC Repairs hasn’t changed in 5 years, so I think it’s time. The new pricing will be:
Computer repairs / Consulting (Labour) : $65 per hour (charged per minute, up by $5 on old prices)
Web Development and one-on-one tuition: $50 per hour (charged per minute, up by $5 on old prices)
Travel: $1 per kilometre, $10 minimum (now 10c/km cheaper for some people, as there’s no GST.)

The request to deregister was send to the ATO about 28 days ago, but is yet to be officially confirmed. If for some reason the change does not take effect, I will let you all know 🙂 (I didn’t anticipate that it would take so long to get a response, telephoned, and was advised that it usually takes a month…)

“Free” Legal Pay TV via the Internet – 15,000 shows on 250 channels.

Many of you know about Skype – that free internet phone program that lets you talk from computer to computer. Well, now they’ve built something new, and it’s pretty darn good 🙂 It’s a program called Joost.

When you run Joost, it turns your computer into something similar to a Pay TV setup – you can choose a channel and watch the shows on that channel, but the difference is that you can pick what show you want to watch, and watch it immediately! It’s a high quality picture, better than most TVs,

Of course, many of you will find the concept of watching TV on your computer to be a strange thing, but that can be overcome fairly easily by adding a couple of bits to your computer that connect your computer to your TV. I can help you with this 🙂

It’s a free program, sponsored by adverts that pop up every 15 minutes during your show. (Although amusingly they seem to only have one advert, always the same advert, for Nokia.) It’s still in development (what is known as Beta) but seems to work well enough to be worth a look 🙂 .. and that might be why there’s only one ad playing!

There is one important thing to consider first ‘tho! it requires a fast ADSL connection (1.5Mb/sec of which it uses 650k/sec on my system) which for CCC ADSL customers starts from $40 a month, or for BigPond ADSL customers, starts at $70 a month.) It chews through about 350MB per hour when it’s running, so if you’re not on a high download plan you need to be careful, and be sure to close it when not using it..

Anyway, if you want to give it a go, grab it from and if you’ve got any questions, just ask 🙂

If I owned a TV station, I’d be a bit worried about now… 😉

5 cent SMS via the Web.

Those of you using Exetel ADSL can now avail yourselves of a service where you can send text messages via a small window on your computer, and each text message (up to 160 letters) costs just 5 cents, with 20 free texts per month as well.

It takes about 3 minutes to set up on your computer, and I can do that for you by remote control using the Remote Support program that I have loaded onto some of your computers. (Those who haven’t got it can get it here – – click Remote Assistance.) Or you can do it yourself by going to logging in with your phone number and password (if you know them) Click SMS, click Set Up API Access, set a name and password, then lastly click the Download exeSMS Application.

Security Key for PayPal / eBay

If you have a PayPal account, there’s a fair chance you’ve linked it to a savings account or credit card. If you buy and sell on eBay frequently, you might also have a nice feedback score. Both of these can be a target for hackers or identity theft. For $7.50 Australian, you can buy from either of them a Security Key, which is a small thing about the size of a USB drive which has a button and a display. When you log in to eBay or PayPal you press the button and type in the number you see onto the computer, and this confirms that it is you using the account and not someone else, because only you have the unique security key thing. It’s well worth the money, as it virtually eliminates theft of your accounts. You can order one from – the same one works for both PayPal and eBay.

Keeping the Kingswood, and other Survey Results.
Well, the surprise result of the recent Survey,%202007.doc was that 90% of you prefer the moderately battered Kingswood over a newer Bluebird! So, it looks like I’ll be in the Kingswood for some time yet unless something breaks. (At the moment, the exhaust flange gasket is the only significant problem that needs to be fixed.) The Nissan needs rego and possibly some new shock absorbers before it’s fully ready to go. I have replaced all vacuum hoses, extensively cleaned the emissions control components, and replaced the mechanical fan with an electric one, removed a failed alarm and associated dodgy wiring, and cleaned back and converted some surprise rust in the boot. The Kingswood has been recently cleaned, serviced, and the air conditioner re-fitted for the coming hot weather. I have also purchased a flat screen monitor to enable in-car repairs of desktop PCs as well as laptops – an infrequent but useful facility to have, as it’s a pain driving 30km just to replace a modem then take it back to a drop-off point – even if it is cheaper than renting an office!

Other survey results showed that almost everybody likes Heppie (the dog), thinks an office would not be useful, and that there should be a little more advertising.

Every one of you asked for an answering machine on the Telstra NextG mobile, so I’ve added it. (I hate the cost of it, and will one day invent an answering machine to connect to the mobile phone, but I recognise it as a valuable service so will put up with it’s overpriced nature! 🙂 )

2ndhand PCs for sale.

I have a number of second hand PCs in stock that will soon be put up for sale, likely ranging in price from $50 for a games box up to around $250 for a decent one. Most of them are just waiting for more memory off eBay before being organised and advertised. I’ll send another message to this list when they are ready.

I’ve had a couple of queries in the last week for laptops as well. I can get these for you from eBay, using my skills at researching sellers to minimise the risk. (The last one I bought for a customer last week, for $410, was faster than my office laptop!)

VoIP Settles Down, two demo loan units available.

After some serious misadventures with VoIP in the last few months, I’ve found a stable solution that is working well for many people now. If you’re curious about VoIP and have broadband, feel free to contact me for a trial unit to be set up. VoIP call costs are usuallly 10 cents untimed to any landline in Australia, and between 20 and 27 cents per minute to mobiles depending on the company you get it through. They are made using an ordinary phone and no computer is required. (You do need ADSL broadband or ISDN however.) At present, Exetel is now running the best value for quality VoIP service, with MyNetFone a close second. SIPme is in between them in pricing, but has had some issues in the past that prevents me from recommending them at the moment. Pricing at and – it’s still cheaper to call a mobile from a mobile tho – 15c/min on the CCC Mobile plan at – because you’re not going from one technology to another.

New Mailing List

After reading an overview of the Spam Act, it more or less confirmed that I can contact existing customers through this type of communication provided there was always an unsubscribe option – so here it is 🙂 I’m not sure at this stage if it will replace newsletters (The CCC Update) but one things for sure – it’s a darn site easier to click “Send” than it is to print 130+ pages, fold them, print 130+ envelopes, stuff them, seal them, stamp them, pay for them. If you have an opinion either way let me know 🙂

Web Site Update

The CCC Website ( is still a bit of a dog’s breakfast, but has been updated to include more information on my services. I also bought the name ccmobile and set up a site for the 15 cent a minute mobile phone plan, which is at – right before I found the new bond requirement for non-exetel users! Aah well, gotta earn my entrepeneur’s offset from the ATO somehow!