Category Archives: Gadgets and Tech

Cool gadgets and technology – life is that little bit better with my utility belt

Server running again (for now)

I spent another late night in the server room last night, working on my
crippled server (see yesterday’s post), but I think I have resolved the

The problem has to be hardware related because a reinstall of a
previous working Ghost image was experiencing the same “hanging”
symptoms as before, but yet my server worked great in safe mode (no
surprise since most of the services are not running in safe
mode).  So, here is what I did to resolve my problem:

While in SM, I made a note of all the services with start up type set
to “Automatic”, and then disabled them all.  I noticed that most
of the services, not running, were using svchost.exe
–  a service host for non-service applications. During earlier
testing I had seen several instances of this executable running in the
task manager, and killing a few of the instances would sometimes
resolve the hanging issue (most of the time the system would become
unstable).  I wondered if svchost.exe was hung up trying to access a broken piece of hardware, and all other requests using the same executable were then deadlocked.

After rebooting into normal mode, I was able to install Windows 2003
SP1 and remaining updates from windows update (this would at least replace svchost.exe, if it happened to be corrupted). Finally, I enabled the
services that I had disabled earlier, leaving out those services that I
did not require (such as the sound system and print spooler
services).  I was going to enable all the services to see which
one caused the problem, and possibly pinpoint a hardware component
failure, but my server was behaving, and running faster, so I decided
not to toy with it.

I figured I should start backing up some of the more recent changes to my data in case my server failed catastrophically (I
usually keep a good back up, but it was out of date), so I started dumping files onto
DVD.  Midway through burning files my E drive failed. Fortunately
I was able to get the drive back with a cold reboot, and there was very little
data on it, so I was able to copy over everything to my D drive, and
continue burning everything to DVD.

Presently, everything seems to be working.  Windows update works
fine, so does RDP, and my E drive has not failed since I cleaned it out
(but I’m not using it).  I am tempted to experiment with svchost.exe
and the services list some more, to see which service causes the system
to hang, but I would like to think that the problem was related to the
secondary disk failure, and having look no further.  I am in need
of some more disk space on my server, so I plan to replace this disk

Hopefully I’ve seen the end of my problem for now, and can spend
tonight enjoying a glass of wine in front of the TV – not in the server


I finally purchased a car mount kit for my IPAQ so I use GPS in my car.
My GPS unit is separate blue tooth box, which sits out of the way on top
of the dash. Blue tooth seems to eat battery on my IPAQ, so I made sure
I purchased a mount kit with power.

IPAQ GPS in a mounting kit cradle – much better than sliding across the dashboard.

Motorola V710 Cell Phone

I have just given a home to a new cute Motorola V710 cell phone, with
integrated camera, MP3 player and cell phone.  The best part is
that my new phone was free.

I have been with Verizon Wireless for just over 2 years and had never
changed my original Audiovox CDM9500 flip phone, so VZW gave me a
credit of $100 to upgrade. The V710 is selling for $149.99 with an
additional $49.99 discount for an on-line purchase from VZW’s website, so the final
bill for the upgrade was: $0, nada, zip, free.

I changed over my service to the new phone this evening, moved over my
address book and played with some of the features.  There are a
lot more features packed into this little clam shell that I haven’t
yet tried out, including setting of ring tones from MP3 files, movies, address book pictures and of
course the blue tooth capabilities. 

My wife suggested that I
download a song that is very British (since I am one) and set it as my
ring tone. 🙂

Canon SD200

I am now a proud owner of a new Canon SD200 ELF digital camera. My old
workhorse Canon S10 has eaten it’s way through two lithium batteries (I
get about 10 shots on a full charge), is out of date by today’s
standards and is also like a brick. My new 3.2 mega pixel, 3x optical zoom SD200 is about the size of a
deck of cards, has better battery technology, has a large LCD screen, can save movies and is just so darn cute.

I picked up my unit for under $300 at Best Buy. I managed to get a
256MB SD card to replace the very small 16MB card that the SD200 ships

I’m not normally one for subscribing to Best Buy’s service plan, but
this time I signed up for $50 because it included 4 free batteries
after the first year of the camera’s life. Lithium batteries are
anywhere from $40, in since I’ve gone through two with my S10 I thought
it a worthy purchase.

Hush PC

I really want one of these for my Windows Media Center….

The HushPC is completely fan-less and uses passive cooling techniques to cut down on noise pollution in the room (more than I can say for the current machine sitting in my living room). It’s a little on the expensive side for £1,791.38, but is well made and looks so darn cute.

Buy your HushPC at

Verizon and FTTP

“Verizon is now qualifying and accepting installations for FTTP (Fiber To the Premises)! $39.95 for 5MB/2MB, $49.95 for 15MB/2MB, and $199.95 for 30MB/5MB. No word yet on whether Verizon will block ports (25, 80, etc) for incoming or outgoing traffic; with 2MB upload, I hope to basically run a small data center in my basement. Both phone and Internet will come through the fiber, and there is an unofficial rumor of video services as well by the end of this year. Got Fiber? My install date is November 2nd in Falls Church, VA (near DC). Several people in Keller, Texas have posted pictures and reported 14,679 kbps download and 1,794 kbps download speeds.”