Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Bootable external drive for Windows & OSX

This is how I created a bootable external drive with two partitions: One for WDS/Ghost etc. and the other for OSX install disk. For my drive, I've got a custom WinPE startup OS, and the OS 10.8 install image. The end result is an external drive that I can use to image or backup almost any computer that I come across. Below are the steps that I took to create the drive, but I'll cut to what I got hung up on: The Windows partition must be Active or your machine won't boot to it. Restoring the OSX image will remove this from the NTFS partition.

1. Create your Windows partition. (these steps can also be done in disk management)
  1. Run CMD as an administrator (you must right click on CMD and run as administrator, not just be logged in as an administrator) 
  2. In CMD, run diskpart 
  3. list disk 
  4. select disk <#>  
  5. clean (! will remove all current partitions !) 
  6. create partition primary size=<n> (MB) 
  7. active 
  8. format fs=ntfs quick  
  9. assign letter=<L> (drive letter you want) 
  10. create partition primary (this will be the 2nd partition for OSX with the remaining space on the disk) 
  11. exit 
  12. After the volume is visible in the OS, you can copy your bootloader files over etc. 

2. Mac partition. You'll need to remove your drive from Windows, and plug it in to a Mac. 
  1. Open the Disk Utility, you'll see the drive with two partitions. The first partition is the NTFS one that we just made, and the second is the partition that we created, but haven't formatted. 
  2. Locate the InstallESD.dmg file for OS 10.8. If you have the installer, it is located inside package contents in /Contents/SharedSupport/ 
  3. In the Disk Utility, select File > Open Disk Image, and select the InstallESD.dmg file 
  4. Mount InstallESD by double clicking on it inside of the Disk Utility 
  5. Select the mounted image (Mac OSX Install ESD), and click on the Restore tab 
  6. Drag the 2nd partition to the Destination, and click the Restore button 
  7. After the image has been restored, you can copy additional files to the partition 

3. Fix the first partition. OSX may have made the windows partition non-active, meaning when you try to boot to it, it will default to the second (Mac) partition. 
  1. Remove the device and put it back in a windows machine. 
  2. In the disk management utility, or diskpart, make the partition active 
  3. In CMD: list disk, select disk <#>, select partition <#>, active

Windows Disk Management

OSX Disk Utility

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Windows 7 MySQL installation error service account

When installing MySQL 5.5 on a Windows 7 machine, I received this error:

"an unknown error occurred while validating the service account"

and the installation would not complete, and I also got a configuration error with something like "unable to configure service".

After googling a bit and playing around with the settings, the answer was pretty simple. The default administrator account needs to be enabled. Although this was a pretty easy answer, I couldn't find it anywhere!

Result after enabling the default administrator account

Sorry I don't have more screen-shots, but I think it's pretty self explanatory. I may or may not add more later.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Texting is just like faxing

It doesn't seem like texting (SMS) has much to do with fax machines. Perhaps not technically, but I will argue that the two technologies are very similar in the way we use them. At first I just wanted to compare the two tools of communication and how similar they seem. However, what I really want to say is that both of these tools are absolutely useless, and if you have either one, you are just giving your money away for something that is already free.

The most important thing that they have in common is that both technologies are obsolete, yet are still widely used. Worse, these technologies have free alternatives, but many many people are still paying large monthly fees to keep the service running. A lot of money is spent to keep us backwards compatible for those that only have these ancient forms of communication and refuse to use something better. The short answer is that internet access has replaced these tools, yet many still are clinging to that old familiar fax or text.

 Alternatives to Faxing

It might be obvious that faxing technology is dying out, however it's still widely used in business and is combined into a lot of personal printers. The best alternative to using that old fax machine is having a soft copy of the file, and emailing it. There are a lot of lame arguments why this can't be done, but none of them hold water. I think most excuses boil down to collective laziness and refusal to learn something different. I've also heard that emailing is less secure than faxing, however the opposite is true if you password protect your documents or encrypt your email. There are also many different drop-box style websites that can be used to upload large files and send the link to the recipient. Newer multi-function printers have the ability to send and receive faxes. These can be used as a transitional tool to communicate with those that simply refuse to join the 21st century. Please find a better solution.

Alternatives to Texting

Before listing the alternatives, I'll assume that you want to send a quick message from your phone, anywhere that you have coverage. Perfect, any new phone that isn't built for your grandma has the ability to get the internet. Chances are, you probably already have 3G or 4G on your smart phone, in addition to your texting service. Instead of paying $20 for unlimited texting, why don't you pay $20 for unlimited internet and get the benefits of both? You probably already know that per character, text messaging is the most expensive form of communication.

As far as alternatives, e-mail is an obvious one if you want to send pictures or other files, however this can also be done with whatever your favorite social media site. Oh, you are just sending a quick message? The email app on your phone is probably as simple as the texting app. Also, ever heard of instant messaging? If your phone can have apps, then there is an app for that.

I think the real problem is that text messaging has reached critical mass, where everyone is using it, and it's hard not to have when everyone assumes they can message your number. I don't want to be the only guy that doesn't have texting; And I can't change everyone else's behavior just by refusing to use that form of communication. Just like it took a while for the idea of having a telephone in your home, it's going to take a while to kill some things that are no longer needed. The good news is that there are some free transitional technologies, similar to e-fax, that will allow you to send and receive free text messages. My personal favorite is Google voice, Apple has iMessages (although only iPhone to iPhone), and I know there are a lot of other alternatives out there. The point is that even if you must have the ability to text, it's a free service in a lot of forms. You can even send text messages from Google chat.

So why am I writing all of this, when the alternatives are obvious? Simply, it bugs me that so many people are using and paying for old technologies when they don't have to, and I am forced to accommodate their outdated and expensive forms of communication. It seems like it's only obvious to me, but maybe it isn't so obvious to everyone. Some people think that I am strange for refusing to pay for text messaging. To be honest, I think we're almost at the point of questioning why we pay for any communication service (phone, cable TV, etc) except for internet (but that's another discussion). I don't expect to be able to send a telegraph to you, so please cancel your texting plan and get rid of that fax line.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Embedding File Hangs Office

I ran into the problem when embedding files into a Word document. I was using Office 2007, but this may be a problem in other versions. Word says that it is waiting for another application to complete an OLE action. What I had to do is open the task manager and end acroread.exe or whatever pdf program was running. After that I could embed the file successfully.

I'll upload screen-shots if I ever run into it again.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Print Screen Active Window Only Shortcuts

Print screen the active window only by pressing ALT + Print Screen. On a mac you press Command + Shift + 4 then Space-bar, then click the window.

Just a quick tip for reference. There's a more comprehensive tutorial for macs here: http://osxdaily.com/2010/05/13/print-screen-mac/ or http://graphicssoft.about.com/od/screencapturemac/ht/macscreenshot.htm

If you want to capture a selected area in windows, you can do it if you have One Note installed with Windows + S, or from the Insert menu in OneNote, select screen clipping. 

You can also use the screen snipping tool in Windows Vista or 7. Here's a good tutorial on how to assign a shortcut to the snipping tool: