Archive for February 26, 2009

Logitech S5500 webcam micrphone not working

Logitech S5500 webcam micrphone not working

I’ve had one job recently that I took on with the proviso that if I couldn’t fix it I wouldn’t charge for it.

In this case it was a Logitech S5500 webcam with built in Mic, but the mic component would not install properly – with various errors in Device Manager such as Not configured Code 1, etc; but occasionally with the appearance that it was working fine yet it would not show up in Multimedia Control Panel.

I wasn’t able to fix it within an hour so gave up as it wasn’t worth my time.

The customer said initially they had tried a Toshiba USB cam with mic and it too wouldn’t work; so perhaps the Toshiba broke the system first, or perhaps there was a pre-existing problem.

Some websites made reference to a core file LVsomething.sys which was apparently a lower filter driver, and that it can also cause the pitch of some sound cards to change, esp. Realtek 97 cards.

So, sorry I don’t have an answer for this particular problem, and am only posting here so others with the same problem know that they’re not alone.

The camera works fine on other computers. Logitech Tech Support also could not fix it.

Assorted News 18 – A Mobile Game-changer :)

Assorted News 18 – A Mobile Game-changer 🙂

In this edition:

Just a short one…

Generic News
Mobile Game Changer: $20 for approx 5 hours mobile plan.

Australian Broadband Guarantee vs Wireless Internet.

Almost new printer for sale.
$80 to pronounce it dead?

A Mobile Phone Game Changer

Well, after all that effort last newsletter explaining about how to use VoIP on a mobile, it has suddenly become more or less irrelevant.

As you probably know, I mostly represent Exetel for Internet stuff because they usually have the best pricing and reliability. However, their nearest competitor, TPG, (which I have no relationship with by the way) has come up with a new mobile phone offering that blows Exetel; and all other mobile phone plans that I know of, out of the water!

They have a plan that roughly equates to 5 hours on the mobile, spread over multiple calls for just $20 a month

Of course, there has to be a trick; and that trick is that if you exceed this 5 hours, it’s about $55 an hour thereafter; so you need to keep an eye on your phone’s “All Calls” timer each billing cycle, or watch your usage on the website. (Example of online usage account at )

The technical details are $20 a month for $300 worth of calls at the rate of 40 cents per 30 seconds and 35c connection fee. It’s the usual ‘Monopoly Money’ rubbish, and like Monopoly it’s a game; but easier to win 🙂

It’s provided by the 15+ year old company TPG. They provide it via their purchase of Soul, who in turn resell the Optus mobile phone network.

Now, of course, this is Optus we’re talking about, and just like Vodafone their coverage is not as comprehensive as Telsta’s. So if you really need to be contactable (like me!) then I recommend you carry two mobiles – the Telstra one for incoming calls and your other one for outgoing. (You can get a $10 per month NextG plan for this purpose.) The one caveat is Telstra’s messagebank fees so if you really need MessageBank too, it might still be worth getting a mobile with an answering machine built in as per last newsletter.

I have ordered and received a TPG SIM card for my old LG phone, and it is working well.

You can find out more about this plan at

Really, with something like this (or the next plan up) it is becoming quite feasible to dump your landline. Oh, and if you’re an out-of-towner like me who normally gets no coverage, the same antenna used for Wireless Broadband may also help you get mobile coverage at home provided your handset supports it. (See my example here: and the coverage at

Australian Broadband Guarantee & Wireless Internet.

I’ve had some good success stories lately with Wireless broadband. I’ve been able to get it to work in places that would appear to have no coverage using various outdoor antennae.

Wireless broadband is so much better than Satellite – faster, cheaper, and normally more reliable. However one the customers I trialled about 30km from a tower rang me up after I’d set up the trial to ask if she was covered by the Australian Broadband Guarantee. (The ABG allows you to get your internet installed for free if you have no alternatives faster than satellite.) I didn’t know the answer at first, but further research shows that since she was able to get a city-equivalent broadband connection via wireless and lives in an Optus coverage area; she’s not eligable. (Interestingly this doesn’t apply to Telstra wireless internet customers because their prices are too high to qualify as an affordable solution under the ABG.)

If you’re on dialup at the moment, and are looking to get broadband, you may need to check first to see if you’re shown as being in a coverage area. If not, you can apply for satellite. If you are, but you can’t get it to work I might be able to help.

For more information about wireless internet in an easy to read format try here:

For more information about the ABG, click here:

Cheap Second Hand Laser Printer for sale.

I purchased this printer for a customer who had two networked computers; but because of the unique setup of their network – a modified XP machine that allows three simultaneous users – the printer software couldn’t cope well. I solved the problem by installing a Samsung instead; leaving me with a two month old, but rarely used HP laser printer. Purchased new from DSE for around $90, hoping to get $60 for it.

For more information about this printer. click here:

$80 to pronounce it dead?

A customer advised the other day that she had a problem with her modem, and another family member took it to a competing computer store. They were apparently charged $80 to report the modem as dead. I guess they have to charge these kinds of rates to keep up with their advertising budget, staff and vehicle expenses; but it still grates with me a bit – especially as it appears their diagnosis was wrong too. It seems most IT stores charge you just to look at things. Something modest like $10 or $15 might be fair.

Quite often with me it’s free if I can’t fix it; or if it requires me to learn about something new then I don’t charge for that time.

Aah well that’s the end of another short newsletter. The Kingswood is still resting. In the interim I am experimenting to see what economy I can get from the bluebird. At best I’ve had 12.7K per litre. (8 Litres for 100km) If I can regularly get this sort of economy it might be wiser to use the Bluebird as the primary vehicle. If I do this, I’d like to find someone who does the type of pixelated see-through signage you see on city bus windows rather than just the plain lettering type. If you can recommend anyone let me know – as far as I know the Armidale businesses are not capable of this type of printing.

How to Capture ABC iView content

How to Capture ABC iView content

Also How to record ABC iView content or How to save ABC iView content.

EDIT: 8/4/2011: has the latest iViewnNapper.

There are two ways I know work that you can do this.

1 – Using a Video Recorder / DVD Recorder

If you have a laptop, you can probably connect it to your DVD recorder or VCR using an SVIDEO cable plus a headphone to two RCA plug cable.

You then need to configure your laptop to output through the SVIDEO connector which varies from laptop to laptop.

This uses what is known these days as the ‘analogue’ hole which generally can be expressed as ‘if you can see it you can copy it, if you can hear it you can copy it.’

This is one step up from plonking a video camera in front of your laptop 🙂

The analogue hole is very slowly being eroded with new technology but it will always be with us one way or another – in the worst case with a video camera in front of a TV and the audio captured from a headphone socket. (For best results set white balance and exposure manually.)

2 – Replay Media Catcher.

This second option does not always work, but it works most of the time. The important thing with this is that you don’t start playback before you’ve set Replay Media Catcher to record, because otherwise you won’t be able to capture the show (unless you open a different browser or nuke cookies or something.) Try first using a cartoon or something interesting like Media Watch before going for the show you’re after.

RMC is not free sadly, but you can try it out. Note also that it seems to be a bit temperamental in virtual machines. You can trial it however but it will only capture the first 75% of the show in trial mode.

I’ve tried a few other applications but have not had any success. For example, applications that capture Flash URLs don’t work with iView as it either obscures the URLs with script, or perhaps just doesn’t work that way.

Setting the option “Web Stream Dumper” may help, but I haven’t really tested this as this entire write-up happened because I had two different PVR applications fail at the same time on a show I wanted. (One, GB-PVR just didn’t bother to record at all; and the other WinFast PVR didn’t capture the audio.)

Oh, and remember that many of the shows are available for podcast download anyway; but there are some shows that they don’t put out that way for whatever reasons the producer of the content dreams up. Naturally, the best shows like Spicks and Specks don’t appear online anywhere except for the occasional torrent site when someone is brave or smart enough to upload it without getting done like a dinner. Sadly it’s not popular enough to turn up on such sites regularly so if you miss it, you’re prolly stuffed.

Applian also have another video recording product I have not tried, but which may also work.

Good Luck!

Assorted News 17 :)

Assorted News 17 🙂

In this edition:

Just a short one…

Generic News
Resting Kingswood
More Sticky Stuff.

Web Of Trust
TV Magic.

The Mechanic’s Dilemma.

Resting Kingswood.

Last week, the Kingswood started to generate another new sound – a squeaky scratchy sound when accelerating or decelerating whilst in gear; which usually means a universal joint is about to retire. Since their sudden retirement can cause some spectacular driving problems, such as a car trying to take up pole vaulting, I’ve taken it off the road for now. In it’s place I am using the metallic gold ’86 Bluebird which has had it’s own small set of issues, but is less likely to try to wrap me around a tree in the near future.

Other issues that also exist with the Kingswood are a tight wheel bearing and maybe a broken spring; so once I’m over the January income slump I’ll get all those issues sorted 🙂

More Sticky Stuff.

Wireless Internet Sticks, that is. I’ve now installed a few more in problem sites. One site near Armidale had no mobile coverage at all, but adding a $160 Dish antenna to the roof solved that problem and now she has three bars. It’s a weird one since it’s only 4 ks out of Armidale but in a valley, and for years Telstra has refused to fix the phone lines so they could get ordinary broadband.

I will be doing another similar installation hopefully later this week, about 20km NE of Armidale, so will let you know how that goes, along with one in a valley out near Old Armidale Road. The more people I can get off slow dialup and satellite, and onto wireless broadband the better! I am still offering trial sticks for people who want to try it out, with about three in the queue now and 5 still out on trial.

As a reminder, the pricing is $5 a month, $1.50 per 100MB (up to 1GB), or for heavy users $37.50 for 5GB. I can now get the sticks for $150.

The Web Of Trust.

This is a handy tip for any of you that do a fair amount of searching for information on the Internet. Quite often the sites that you find when searching turn out to be advertising pages and link farms – pages that don’t really have any useful content but instead exist merely to get the author money from Google for linking to sites that might have information of use. This can be quite frustrating.

Say for example you are thinking of buying a new ‘thing’ and want to find reviews about that thing on the Internet. You might google ‘thing review’ and get a few pages that have what you want, along with a heap of pages that don’t make any sense. Here’s where “Web Of Trust” comes in.

It’s basically an add-on which you can add to Firefox and whenever there’s a link shown on a webpage (such as a Google search result, etc) there is also a small coloured circle next to it which indicates how trustworthy and safe other visitors have deemed that page to be. Green is good, Orange is ‘meh’ and Red is “Danger Will Robinson.” Grey means they don’t know – so you can tell them if you want to.

It’s free to get from

And just in case you don’t have Firefox, you can get that too from

TV Magic

Last newsletter I commented on how useless this “Freeview” scheme was since it hasn’t resulted in the promised 15 channels – that is unless you count having three channels showing the same thing at once… However, on a happier note this week I’ll introduce you to something else.

For a long time it has been possible to buy a little gadget to plug into your laptop or desktop computer which turns it in to a nice TV set. Computer screens are much higher detail than standard TV sets, so by getting one of these gadgets you automatically have a nice High Definition TV.

One of the challenges with TV is being around at the right time to watch the shows you want to watch, and quite often if you miss the show then too bad, it’s not available online legally or otherwise. This then might entice you to try to tape stuff, but what a nightmare that can be too having to work out how to program the video machine. Very few people do that.

What it is now possible to do is to connect one of these small gadgets to your computer (typically starting from $70) and then use a program to view the week’s TV guide either by time or by program name, and simply click record next to each show you want, choosing only whether to record just the one or to record them each time they come up. You can then just forget about it and let the computer do it’s job for you.

The reason for bringing this up now is that I recently revisited a program I checked out years ago called GB-PVR. It’s a free program that works with most of these gadgets (even the cheapest ones I can find) and will do all this for you. It’s designed so you can operate all the features from recording, playing back, watching live TV, viewing the guide, listening to music and radio, all from the lounge chair. (Admittedly you might need to shell out around $50 for a compatible remote control if you don’t want to use the keyboard!) It’s free to download from

(Note that some people have WIndows Media Centre on their computers already which can do the same thing – but it’s not common.)

One of the biggest challenges for most people then is ‘how do I connect the computer to the TV’ and fortunately with most new flat screen TVs the connection is already right there waiting. (And if it’s not I can help you get it there one way or another.)

The Mechanic’s Dilemma

OK and now to end off with another bit of trivia. One question I can never quite answer is ‘how do you pick a mechanic’. Pretty much all mechanics are flat out. This means that approaching them often feels like an imposition – they have too much work so why would they want any more? This is especially true if you think it’s going to be a big job, and also begs the question how do you know they’ll do a good job if they’re always rushed. I guess I’m lucky in that I can do most of the basics myself, but when it comes to more significant problems like those above it’s a question I can’t decisively answer. Fortunately now that the Bluebird’s registered and most of it’s bugs from being idle for 8 years have been ironed out, I do have the luxury of time – that is I’m not relying on the one car 24/7.