Category Archives: tips

What to do when your Nokia Lumia 800 will not turn on?

Nokia Lumia 800: delightful smartphone but with a few irritations. If you have one, I recommend that you do not let the battery fully discharge – a challenge since the battery life is not the greatest – since if you do, you may have problems turning the phone on again.

I am not sure what proportion of Lumias are affected, but what happens is this. The battery runs out and the phone turns itself off as you would expect. You plug it into the charger, but even after several hours it appears to remain uncharged and will not turn on. The problem is discussed in this thread: Lumia 800 won’t power on or charge.

This has happened with my review Lumia. In my case, the phone vibrated when plugged into the charger and the charging screen appeared, with a red line showing an empty battery, and there it stayed.

So what is the fix? I have had the problem a couple of times, and each time it eventually fixed itself, though it is hard to pinpoint the exact fix. Things people have tried:

  • Unplugging and reconnecting the charger to the phone
  • Attaching the phone to a PC, then to a charger
  • Reset the charging cycle by holding down the power button, while charging, for 8 seconds or so
  • Warming the device to create a small charge in the battery, then starting to charge it

One theory is the battery discharges so deeply that there is not enough power to detect the charger, therefore it never charges. Kind-of too smart for its own good.

If the phone had a removable battery, I would suggest removing and replacing it, an old trick to revive a frozen phone. Should your Lumia not be covered by a warranty, you could try disassembly in order to do this.

The best hope is that a further firmware update will fix the problem.

Fixing a Windows 7 blue screen with Driver Verifier

A recent annoyance was a blue screen when I was in the middle of typing a Word document. “Memory management” it said.

You might think faulty RAM, but I did not think so as I had tested it extensively with the excellent Memtest86. So what was causing it? And no, I do not regard Windows as an unstable operating system, not any more (not really since Windows 98 days).

I started troubleshooting. The first step is to install the Debugging Tools for Windows, if you have not already, run Windbg, and load the minidump which Windows usually creates when it crashes. Minidumps are saved in the /Windows/Minidump folder.

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It said VISTA_DRIVER_FAULT and identified the SearchProtocol process, but I was not convinced that this process was really to blame. My reasoning is that it is a Microsoft process that is running on most Windows boxes so unlikely to be badly broken.

I decided to look for a faulty driver. You can do this by running the Driver Verifier Manager, summoned by running verifier.exe (this lives in /Windows/System32 but you can start it from anywhere).

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This application enables a debugging mode in Windows that will scrutinise the drivers you specify for errors. This slows down Windows so it is not something you want to leave enabled, but it is great for finding problems.

I elected to check all drivers and continued. Reboot, and as expected, an immediate blue screen.

While Driver Verifier is enabled and causing a crash you can only boot into safe mode. However Windbg works OK in safe mode. I took a look at the new minidump. The process name this time was services.exe. That means any of the services could be at fault, so not all that illuminating.

I ran msconfig and disabled all non-Microsoft services. Restarted and verifier was happy. Now it was a matter of “hunt the service”.

Eventually I discovered through trial and error and hunch (it had to be a service which I had recently installed or updated) which service failed to verify. The guilty party: Intel Desktop Utilities. This application monitors sensors on an Intel motherboard for temperature and fan speed, and fires alerts if the readings go outside safe limits.

I uninstalled the desktop utilities. No more blue screens since.

I find it hard to believe that an Intel utility distributed with all its motherboards is causing Windows blue screens; on the other hand in my case it seems clear cut. And yes, I did have the latest version 3.2.0.038b “for Intel Desktop Boards with 5 or 6 Series chipsets.” My board is the DH67CL. I would be interested to know if others with same version can successfully boot with Driver Verifier enabled.

Hassles with Intel RAID – Rapid Storage Technology

I have recently fitted a new Intel DH67CL motherboard and decided to use the on-board RAID controller to achieve resiliency against drive failure. I have four 1TB Sata drives, and chose to create two separate mirrors. This is not the most efficient form of RAID, but mirroring is the simplest and easiest for recovery, since if one drive fails you still have a complete copy ready to go on its mirror.

I thought this would be a smooth operation, especially since I have two pairs of identical drives. Everything was fine at first, but then I started to get system freezes. “Freeze” is not quite the right word; it was more an extreme slowdown. The mouse still moved but the Windows 7 64-bit GUI was unresponsive. I discovered that it was possible eventually to get a clean though time-consuming shutdown by summoning a command prompt and waiting patiently for it to appear, then typing shutdown /s. After reboot, everything was fine until next time, where next time was typically only a few hours.

I was suspicious of the RAM at first and removed 8GB of my 16GB. Then I discovered that others had reported problems with Intel RAID (also known as RST) when you have two separate arrays enabled. The symptoms sounded similar to mine:

When the second RAID array is enabled (tried both RAID1 and 0), Windows (Win 7 Ultimate 64bit) will freeze after 10+ minutes of use. This initially manifests itself as my internet “going out”. While I can open new tabs in the browser, I cannot connect. I can’t ping via CMD either. I can’t open Task Manager, but I can open Event Viewer (and nothing really is shown in there re: this). If I try to Log Off or Restart the PC via Start Menu, Windows hangs on the “Logging Off” or “Shutting Down” screen for at least 10 minutes, up to several hours (or indefinitely).

There is no solution given in the thread other than to remove one of the arrays.

The system is 100% stable when I remove the second RAID1.

says one user.

I broke both of the mirrors and used the system for a while; everything was fine. I found an updated driver on Intel’s site (version 10.8.0.1003, dated 17th October 2011) and decided to re-try the RAID. Now I had another problem though. Note that I was using the Windows management utility, not the embedded utility which you get to by pressing a special key during boot, since it is only with the Windows utility that you can preserve your data when creating a new array. My problem: I could not recreate the arrays.

Problem number one was that the drive on Sata port 0 disappeared when you tried to create an array. All four drives looked fine in the Status view:

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but when you went to create an array, only three drives appeared:

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Following a tip from the Intel community discussion board, I removed and reinstalled the RST utility, following which I also had to reinstate the updated driver. Now the drive reappeared, but I still could not recreate the arrays. I could start creating one, but got an “unknown error.” Looking in the event log, I could see errors reported by IAStorDataMgrSvc: FailedToClaimDisks and FailedVolumeSizeCheck. Curious, especially as I had used this very same utility to create the arrays before, with the same drives and without any issues.

Just as an experiment, I booted into Windows XP 64-bit, which I still have available using Windows multiboot. I installed the latest version of the Intel storage driver and utility, and tried to create a mirror. It worked instantly. I created the second mirror. That worked instantly too. Then I booted back into Windows 7 and checked out the RST utility. Everything looks fine.

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The further good news is that I have been running with this for a few days now, without any freezes.

Is it possible that the latest driver fixed a problem? There is no way of knowing, especially since Intel itself appears not to participate in these “community” discussions. I find that disappointing; community without vendor participation is never really satisfactory.

Postscript: Note that I am aware that Intel’s embedded RAID is not a true RAID controller; it is sometimes called “fakeraid” since the processing is done by the CPU. Using Intel RST is a convenience and cost-saving measure. An alternative is Windows RAID which works well in my experience, though there are two disadvantages:

1. Intel RAID performs slightly better in my tests.

2. Windows RAID requires converting your drives to Dynamic Disks. Not a big problem, but it is one more thing to overcome if you end up doing disaster recovery.

Breaking Intel RAID: what happens to your data?

I am upgrading my desktop PC, wondering as I do if this is the last time. I did this four years ago; maybe four years from now cloud, mobile and virtualisation will make this unnecessary.

But I digress. My PC is creaking and I am replacing most of its innards. I use an Intel motherboard with its embedded RAID controller to mirror the data on the main 1TB drive. Since I am now getting new, faster drives, I want to break the RAID. The question though: will this delete all the data?

The puzzle here is that the Intel Matrix Storage Manager insists that when you delete a RAID volume, all its data is lost. But why should you lose data if you are breaking a mirrored (RAID 1) volume? In this configuration, each of two drives maintains identical data. In fact, Intel’s User’s Manual says:

All data on the RAID drives will be lost unless the volume that is selected is a RAID 1 volume.

The utility itself is less comforting though, and when I go to break the RAID it says data will be lost unless it is a “Recovery volume”, which is something slightly different.

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Now, if you are like me you set up the RAID in the first place because you would rather not lose that data. On the other hand, my suspicion was that the data would in fact be preserved. Caution prevailed, and I made a Windows system image backup of the entire thing, which took most of a day.

Then I deleted the volume. No data was lost and Windows booted perfectly, though it did reconfigure its storage drive and ask for a restart.

The second drive also retained all the data. Windows made it offline, because according to disk manager:

The disk is offline because it has a signature collision with another disk that is online

which is fair enough.

I can confirm, then, that in my experience you can delete an Intel RAID mirror without losing the data. Still, if this is data you care about, I guess you are going to take a backup anyway before pressing Y.

An iOS security tip: tap and hold links in emails to preview links

Today I was using an iPad and received a fake email designed to look as if it were from Facebook. It was a good imitation of the Facebook style.

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In particular, the links for sign in look OK.

Outlook on Windows displays the actual link when you hover the mouse pointer over the link. As you can see, in this case it is nothing to do with Facebook:

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How do you do this on iOS? There is no mouse hover (though it could be down with a proximity sensor) but if you tap and hold on the link, iOS pops up a dialog revealing the scam:

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Worth mentioning as tapping and holding a link to inspect it is not obvious and some users may not be aware of this feature.

The iPad is still worse than Outlook for email security. Outlook does not download images by default. Downloading the image tells the spammer that you have opened the message:

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The iPad mail client downloads all images.

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In mitigation, most malware on web sites will not run on iOS. However you could still give away your password or other information if you are tricked by a deceptive web page or fake login.

Hiding links is a feature built into HTML. The designers of HTML figured out that we would rather see a friendly plain English link than a long URL. Unfortunately this feature, and related ones like the ability to make an image a link, play into the hands of the scammers and it is necessary to look at the real link before you follow it.

A better solution would be authenticated email, so that fake Facebook emails would be detected before they are displayed. Unfortunately we are still a long way from using authenticated emails as the norm.