Sunday, August 15, 2010

"Resolving" iTunes Error 1604 (and perhaps 1602, 1601?)

One of the most infuriating things about owning an Apple portable device is iTunes.  If I was to think of the single thing that would dissuade me most about owning a higher end device like an iPhone or an iPad, the thought of dealing with the catastrophic consequences of the most simple OS updates is it.   It's fashionable to dismiss RIM but while there are occasional hiccups their software update process works 99 per cent of the time, and does not REQUIRE the use of Desktop Manager to get it done - it can be done wirelessly via BES or wired via Internet Explorer.  Android phones can update by loading the patch onto a memory card.  Like removable batteries, Steve doesn't do such things as memory card slots so obviously that's out.

As I have whined before, Apple's patch sizes are outrageously large.  At a time when Rogers is reducing bandwidth to its customers, should those customers have to upgrade to receive nearly 400Mb of firmware update to resolve a security vulnerability, and 65Mb for a point.point release to iTunes (9.2.1)?  Having waited for this to download, shouldn't Apple test the iPod's capability to accept the download before whacking it and then popping up an esoteric message, the proferred solution for which is boilerplate like "reinstall iTunes"?  Why would an organisation so dedicated to "the experience" as Apple rely on a pop-up box Lotus would have been proud of?

Anyway, should get on with the 1604 "resolution" bit.  I tried a bunch of things, including updating (with the same cable - another boilerplate Apple suggestion is to change out the cable) on a different machine but the subsequent restore from backup failed (by the way - why should a "restore from backup" essentially mean blowing away the OS, Apple?  Why not just restore the settings and data from before and leave the OS as is?)

Finding myself with a partially restored device, with media but few settings, I happened across this 2008 post on O'Reilly which advocated a trip to the Genius Bar (but as this ZDNet blog shows, this can be just as annoying - not to mention that being on Mac doesn't give you an advantage either).  Deep in the comments I found this (more accurately I noticed the later comments of an "OMG you're the best" type:
I found a seemingly vague small post from 1 million google searches saying "Hey, if it hangs, before it goes to the 1604 error, just simply bring up your Task Manager and close the Itunes process...then, relaunch Itunes, it should see your Iphone, go through the restore again and wallah, it should work".

I thought: yeah right. And I was wrong...

IT WORKED. And it worked for my wife's Iphone too!! IT WORKS EVERY DAMN TIME!!!!!!
This worked for me - the "hang" was simply a long wait during "preparing iPod for restore".  I will say that having multiple recent backups is a good thing - because I hadn't synced recently I ended up going back to 6 weeks ago. The thing is - this post is in respect of restoring an iPod/iPhone from a bricked state. Apple shouldn't let it get to that - they should interrogate the device and if it throws the sort of error which causes 160x, it should not wipe the device. But since they aren't helping anyone avoid this state, I hope that this post will help others recover from a 1604 of their own.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Fun with Rogers 8300HD and Component cables

My Samsung 32" decided it didn't want to talk to my HDMI cable any more, and since I didn't have the option of kicking it back to Rogers I thought I'd try Component/YPbPr.  Problem is - when I plugged them in I got SD and pink to boot.  I googled around and found this comment:
I tried resetting the box and a number of things, could not get the component to look right, it was all pink. Then, I figured it out. When trying to set up the STB, through component output, for HD (pushing Guide and Info on the box), the screen only gave me one option, "press A for SD mode". I was muttering to myself "I don't want SD Mode" and getting very frustrated, after a while, I just hit B anyway, and sure enough it started outputting HD no problem.
I tried this myself and presto, I have properly coloured SD and 1080i HD. Now to get Rogers to turn on the basic HD channels like CBC (rather than the specialties like CNNHD and DiscoveryWorldHD which weirdly work just fine).

Afterword - I may not have CBC HD but I have NASA TV HD.  That's a little bit awesome...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Making the web Readable.

During the launch of Safari 5 from Apple, it emerged that their new feature, Reader, is based in part on a project by arc90 called "Readability".  I hadn't stumbled across this before some of the reportage on Safari Reader but it basically uses a bookmark containing Javascript to reshape a webpage so that "excess" sidebars and formatting are stripped in favour of a clean block of text.  It does not do so automatically but only when you click the button, which may skirt around objections from content makers and advertisers who have invested much in this clutter.

Printing of webpages has been an ongoing bugbear for both my colleagues and myself and while this does not preserve layout, that is not always the goal.  Readability has in fact already helped me to read badly laid-out text obscured by overflow into an adjacent column.  Have yet to find a showstopper, merely some occasional clashes with inline images and it renders home pages only with a prior caveat, and it may come in useful to people with mild vision issues.  If you have Firefox or Chrome it's as simple as dragging the bookmark to your Bookmark Bar, for IE right-click and add to Favorites Bar.

Get your bookmarklet here: Readability

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Remote Desktop Connection Manager - a boon for admins

I subscribe to a bunch of Microsoft blogs and one of them revealed a gem in the past month.  RDCMan, a tool which allows an admin to group together remote desktops, preset their username/password combos and connect to those groups with a right-click option, has been invaluable in my work lately which involves quickly jumping from server to server or from servers to a group of workstations.  The gorgeous thing about it is not merely a gallery of thumbnails of the connected sessions, but the ability to interact with the thumbnails with sufficiently accurate mouse clicks.  Heartily recommended.

Here's the original post:
Introducing Remote Desktop Connection Manager 2.2 (You had me at EHLO - the Microsoft Exchange Team blog)

Blackberry 8530 rebooting problem when activated on BES

We just got one of the new Blackberry 8530 EVDO touchpad devices from Bell Mobility, but returned the first one which we thought was defective.  When the second one went down at the same point in getting it set up (being added to our Blackberry Enterprise Server) this raised a flag.  It turns out the software currently posted on RIM's site has a bug which causes continuous reboots when policies such as memory cleaner are enabled.

A customised loader to enable the OS to be patched to the point where the device resuscitates is available, but you need to talk to Bell Data Support for it.  The loader was a bit finicky and threw errors a couple of times but eventually declared no patch required (i.e. the patch had taken) and the device rebooted.  Happy days.

UPDATE August 6th - the updated software (Package, Applications, Platform is available on for a conventional update, but I'm not sure you won't need to patch using the support tool if it's already in the reboot state.

Sorry it's been so quiet

And I can't guarantee it won't be again... but I'm going to share a few things of a technical nature.  Also - comments on posts more than 14 days old are now moderated after a certain number of unreadable (by me) comments were left on the post on Arthur C. Clarke.  If I can't read them, comments won't be staying.

Update (July 18th) - comments are now fully moderated.