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Archive for September, 2009

iNudge: fun way to create music

September 14th, 2009 No comments

From Twitter: @physicus retweeted @doclorraine pointing to an amazing little sound generator at iNudge. Select instruments, click on a few squares and in a couple of minutes you get something like this (click the small play button in the bottom right hand corner). Very clever, and a fun way to waste a few minutes.

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Picture of my herniated disc

September 12th, 2009 No comments
L2-3: Mild facet and ligamentous hypertrophy. Minimal circumferential annular bulge mild central canal narrowing. No foraminal stenosis. Superior extending right extruded herniation in the right gutter extending posterior to the L2 vertebral body, 13 mm craniocaudal.

Click the image for a bigger version. The yellow circle shows the herniation. (c) Nick Howe. All rights reserved.

Four weeks ago my lower back started to stiffen and over the course of a week got worse and worse.  I did stretching exercises every day and over the course of the next week it gradually improved until I was back to normal (or so I thought).  During that second week I’d been to see my GP (‘primary care physician’) Dr Brian Moraes about something else and mentioned my back problem.  His diagnosis was “your lower back is too straight.  Don’t wear flip-flops; wear shoes with better arch support”.  Thanks a bunch.

Two days later I was sitting in the driveway repairing sprinklers (again!  I think I need to do a post about garden sprinkler problems.  They seem to fail unusually often).  I reached sideways to pick up a plastic ‘T’ piece and felt like someone had knifed me in the back.  After the initial pain had subsided my back didn’t feel too bad.

Over the next three days the pain in my back got worse and moved into my hip and thigh – classic symptoms of sciatica.  I went to the doctor on Wednesday.  This time I went to see my wife’s GP (Dr Robert Johnson), having lost faith in mine.  Dr Johnson suspected a deep ligament strain and prescribed pain killers and steroids, expecting the problem to fixed in 3-5 days. By the weekend the pain was no better and I made another appointment for the following Wednesday.  This time, Dr Johnson changed his diagnosis to a suspected herniated disc and sent me for an MRI.  He referred me to a spine specialist (Dr Ashish Sahai).

On Friday I went to see Dr Sahai and he confirmed that I had a herniated disk (L2) and prescribed an injection into the spine, which should happen next Thursday.  The injection has to be done under X-Ray to guide the needle, but allegedly I’ll be up and about the same day.

The back is gradually feeling better, but sitting is still very painful and I spend most of the day lying down.  At least it isn’t too difficult to use the iPhone and my small laptop while flat on my back.

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How-to: fix Windows 7 networking problems with VMware Fusion on MacBook Air

September 12th, 2009 2 comments

I recently installed WIndows 7 on a MacBook Air under VMware Fusion 2.0. The install went cleanly, but I could not get any network connectivity.

Eventually I found this thread on the VMware community site that fixed the problem.  Seems that there is an entry missing from the VMX file.

To fix the problem, make sure the virtual machine is powered off, navigate to the Virtual Machines folder in Documents (or wherever you store your VMware files), right-click on the virtual machine and choose ‘Show Package Contents’.  Scroll down to find the file with the .vmx extension and edit it with text editor.  Your file should contain a lot of lines including:

ethernet0.present = “TRUE”
ethernet0.connectionType = “nat”
ethernet0.wakeOnPcktRcv = “FALSE”
ethernet0.linkStatePropagation.enable = “TRUE”

Add the following line:
ethernet0.virtualDev = “e1000”

Start up the virtual machine.  Windows should install a new driver and you should be good to go.

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How-to: print from Snow Leopard to a Vista-attached printer

September 5th, 2009 20 comments

Despite the massive improvements in Windows-to-mac connectivity, printing from a Mac to a printer attached to a PC seems to be more art than science.  After many attempts I finally managed to track down some instructions on how to print from Leopard (and Snow Leopard) to Windows Vista that actually work.  Other (more simple) ways might work for you; this is the only way I could get printing to work for me.

The original article can be found at here

Step 1: Share the printer in Windows Vista

If you don’t know how to do this you are reading the wrong blog post.

Step 2: Edit the Windows Registry (and maybe Group Policy)

Use the Registry Editor to set the following registry entry (create the key if it doesn’t exist):

  • Path: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/SYSTEM/CurrentControlSet/Control/Lsa
  • Key: lmcompatibilitylevel (this is a DWORD)
  • Value: 1

If you are running Vista Business, Ultimate, and Enterprise you will also need to set a Group Policy. Open the Group Policy Editor (gpedit.msc) and set:

  1. Computer Configuration/Windows Settings/Security Settings/Local Policies/Security Options
  2. Right-click the ‘Network security: LAN Manager authentication level’ policy item, and select ‘Properties’ from the pop-up menu.
  3. Select the ‘Local Security Settings’ tab.
  4. Select ‘Send LM & NTLM – user NTLMv2 session security if negotiated’ from the dropdown menu.

Step 3: Add the Shared Printer to Your Mac

This is far more difficult than it should be.  You would think you would open the Print & Fax dialog, select ‘+’, select Windows, find your printer in the browse window and select it.  No chance.  Instead you need to:

  1. Choose the ‘Print & Fax’ icon in the System Preferences window and Click the plus (+) sign, located just below the list of installed printers.
  2. Right-click the printer browser window’s toolbar, select ‘Customize Toolbar’, drag the ‘Advanced’ icon from the icon palette to the printer browser window’s toolbar; click ‘Done’.
  3. Click the ‘Advanced’ icon in the toolbar; select ‘Windows’ from the Type dropdown menu.
  4. The next step is to enter the shared printer’s device URL, in the following format:
    smb://user:password@workgroup/ComputerName/PrinterName
    An example would look like this: smb://TomNelson:MyPassword@CoyoteMoon/scaryvista/HPLaserJet5000
    The PrinterName is the ‘Share name’ you entered in Vista.
  5. Enter the shared printer’s URL in the ‘Device URL’ field.
  6. Select ‘Generic Postscript Printer’ from the Print Using dropdown menu. You can try using one of the specific printer drivers from the list. The drivers most likely to work are labeled ‘Gimp Print’ or ‘PostScript.’ These drivers usually include the proper protocol support for shared network printing.

7. Click the ‘Add’ button.

All done.

Good luck.  It worked for me, but I can’t promise anything.

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How-to: Make Time Machine work with Airport Extreme. Really!

September 1st, 2009 2 comments

AEBS-diskI’ve been struggling for the last 18 months trying to get Time Machine to work with disks attached to my Airport Extreme Base Station (AEBS).  Things would work once or twice then stop.  Disks would disappear and reappear.  Arrg!  At this point I should say that external disks on AEBS are not officially supported as targets for Time Machine, so the fact that it doesn’t work is not surprising but very frustrating.

DroboThe Apple Time Capsule is supported, but as I have a 4TB Drobo disk array and a new dual-band AEBS I don’t see the point of going out and spending $299 and up for yet another device.  Despite many attempts at different fixes nothing would work.  Ultimately I gave up.

Then a couple of days ago whilst troubleshooting another problem I came across a post in a forum that suggested enabling an option called ‘Use Interference Robustness’.  On the AEBS, choose “manual setup, the Airport pane, Wireless tab, ‘Wireless Options’.

Interference Robustness

This innocuous little check box seems to have worked miracles.  Since I turned the option on I haven’t noticed any speed degradation on the network, and Time Machine has been working flawlessly!  I’m now three days into the new setup and monitoring it closely.  The big test is going to be a restore (backups are useless if they won’t restore).  Keep watching this space for an update.

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