Archive for the ‘hardware’ Category

HP notes – update BIOS from F10

2016-12-30 Comments off

I got a friends-and-family return-from-lease HP 8100 workstation.  No RAM, no disk, just the basic workstation.  I am trying to install Windows 10, but I’m having issues with the OS install failing.  HP notes point to an out-of-date BIOS.  The challenge is how to update the BIOS when you have no OS installed.

      1. 1. Download the BIOS update (EXE file) from the HP site.
      2. 2. Extract the ISO file from the EXE using 7-Zip.
      3. 3. Burn the ISO to a CD (and put CD in the CD/DVD drive)
      4. 4. Boot the system, press F10, select Update BIOS, point to the CD.
    1. This wasn’t obvious, nor was it documented *anywhere* on the HP site.  Lots of references to pre-2002 HP tools and the like.  I hope someone finds this useful.
Categories: hardware, Microsoft Tags: ,

Netgear security update

2016-12-26 Comments off

Check your router for a vulnerability by entering the string below into your browser (change [router-address] to the IP address of your router (example:


If that page shows anything but an error or an empty page, your router is affected and you need to apply the patch just published by Netgear (link below).

Netgear models impacted by this vulnerability:












Categories: hardware, networking, security Tags:

Raspberry Pi 3 start kit recommendation

2016-06-02 Comments off

Several people have asked about Raspberry Pi  kits recently.  I’m lazy, so I’ll maintain this list so I can just point people to this link.  Any questions or suggestions, let me know.


1.       Raspberry Pi 3 – get
the latest one, best value for money, WiFi and Bluetooth included

2.       Case for Raspberry

3.       HDMI to VGA adapter –
lets you connect to older (and cheaper) monitors

4.       USB to PS/2 adapters
– lets you connect to older mice and keyboards

5.       MicroSD card – to
install OS, get an

a.       8GB to 16GB card

b.       Get multiple cards so
you can have multiple system configurations without reformatting the card each

6.       Power

a.       1A with MicroUSB

b.       Get multiple power
supplies – spares always good, may require power for HDMI to VGA



Raspberry Pi 3 motherboard

Newark Element14 – sells kits as well as components,
shipping is reasonable, prices comparable to Amazon


Amazon – $35 retail, but $40 with Prime


Raspberry Pi case – $9


HDMI to VGA adapter – $


USB to PS/2 adapter – $2


32GB MicroSD card (Samsung) – $13



Categories: Design, hardware Tags: , ,

Obihai Update

2016-05-30 Comments off

We have used an Obi 110 as our home phone service through Google Voice since June 2011.  This month, we started having a problem dialing outbound and received a male voice referencing a password issue with the Google Voice account.  The password was fine, and I found the screen shots below


Clicked link on support page, $10 for one year of Obihai Premium Support, and after the purchase, the software update was available.  I have no problem with the support contract, and I’m very satisfied with the performance and features of the Obi110.


The problem I had was obscure, and I didn’t find any support references via Google or Bing searches.  I hope someone finds this useful.

Categories: Google, hardware, VoIP Tags: , ,

Raspberry Pi 3

2016-03-04 Comments off

I just ordered one from Newark Electronics.  At a meeting today, we had a discussion about Raspberry Pi 3, so I thought I would post my notes for reference.

I did some quick checking, and I would recommend only buying the Raspberry Pi 3 because it has better specs (faster CPU, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth included), it’s the same price ($35), and it’s compatible with just about everything you would want to do (including Windows 10 IoT).

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B

Note – Raspberry Pi 2 case works with 3, and I just buy the cheapest one I can find. I use extra micro-USB phone chargers to power mine, and I’ve been buying Samsung SD cards for my phone and projects. You can buy kits, too, but with my basement of spare parts, this hasn’t been an issue for me ;).

Raspberry Pi (Pi-Hole project)

Notes – I have seen some side effects, for example links on CNN seem to go through an ad service, so they are blocked. Overall, it hasn’t had any impact on any work I’ve done at home, or on any devices we have in my house. There are tons of articles about customization of Pi-Hole via Google Search.

Windows 10 IoT Core support for Raspberry Pi 3

2600 Magazine article – New Yorker

Joybubbles – guy with perfect pitch, discovery of 2600 Hz vulnerability attributed to him.

Wikipedia 2600 entry – also notes H.O.P.E. originally organized by 2600

Categories: hardware Tags: ,

Software to securely erase hard drives

2015-03-29 Comments off

Did some R&D for my brother and wanted to document the best options for securely erasing hard drives for sale or donation.

Disc Wipe Utility – Windows executable and source (should compile on UNIX/Linux systems).

Eraser – Windows scrub utility

diskscrub – UNIX source code

Categories: hardware Tags:

Google Maps GPS integration

A family friend came down to visit, and he got a bit lost.  One way to avoid this is to look up an address on Google Maps and save it to your GPS.  This also helps you get an idea of what routing options you have for your trip.



Select the address, then click More and select Send



On the Send dialog box, you have the option of sending the address to your GPS. 

NOTE – you need to have the GPS connected to your PC and turned on so Google Maps can communicate with the GPS.

Categories: Android, Google, hardware, technology Tags: ,

Computer Backup Recommendations

This is the first in a series of reference articles that answer frequently asked questions from friends, family, and clients.  I will update these articles as required. 
Feel free to let me know if you have any questions or recommendations.

Required hardware and software
    Software – Acronis TrueImage 2012
    Hardware – external hard drive – USB, eSATA, Firewire

I recommend imaging all PC systems.  Imaging the system is easy, and fast (1GB/min typically).  Imaging software takes a ‘snapshot’ of your computer.  This snapshot can be used to restore your system automatically.  By restore, I mean if your hard drive dies, you can install a new drive (same size or larger), and restore *everything* in one operation – Operating System (Windows), applications, and data.  After the restore, your system will be *exactly* where it was when you performed the backup.

In addition, the image can be used to restore individual files and folders, but more importantly, if your system is compromised due to a virus or system problem, you can restore the entire system back to a known, good state.

Acronis (and other imaging software) can be configured to image your system on a schedule (Friday nights for example).  You can also setup the software to automatically shut down your computer after the backup is completed.  I typically do this monthly on all our computers, setting up the jobs before I got to bed and having the system shut down.

We have three external USB drives – one reserved for my business systems, and two for home systems.  All my backup drives are encrypted (I use Bitlocker).  I recommend selecting a hard drive with enough capacity to hold at least two backup images for all your systems.

Reference links
Rosewill RX-358 V2 BLK (Black) 3.5″ SATA to USB & eSATA Enclosure w/Int.80mm fan

Acronis True Image Home 2012 – upgrade and special offers often available from Acronis

Acronis TrueImage Home 2012 from Newegg