Category Archives: Technical Support

Surface Book Latch Issues – “Latch Failed to Open”

Surface BookGot the Microsoft Surface Book this morning, and have been fairly impressed so far with this new device.   After playing some games, streaming my Xbox-One, and doing some work on it, I am really liking the specs of both the full unit and the detached tablet.

And although the hardware feels solid, I seems to be having a great deal of trouble with the latching mechanism between the tablet and the keyboard.  Here are my problems:

“Latch failed to open”

My “detach” button is unlit (not green or red) at all times (except when I press the key).  If I press the key, nothing happens.  If I hold the key in for about 2 seconds, it quickly flashes green (giving me about 1 second to pull the tablet out) and then almost immediately gives me this:

Latch failed to open

 

Here’s a video I made of this happening.  Maybe this is expected behavior, but I feel like 1 second is not enough time to bring both hands up to gently remove the tablet.

This wouldn’t be so bad, if it weren’t for my second problem….

Tablet Reattach / Loose connection of tablet to hinge issue

So after I plop the tablet back onto the keyboard, it goes crazy with the “device connected” and “device disconnected” sounds.  I feel like there is a loose connection somewhere because the sounds fire off everytime the screen (tablet) is adjusted or touched when it is on the hinge.  See video number 2:

And there you have it.  I’m hoping I just got a rare defective unit – please comment below if you’re seeing this error as well. I’ll be heading to the Microsoft store tomorrow morning to see what they say.  My online support experience today with Microsoft has been an absolute disaster on their part… but that’s a post for another day.

Update: Yes, I’ve installed the day 1 windows updates – it was the first thing that happened out of the box. And yes, I’ve been rebooting / shutting down to no avail.

The best eFax alternative: FaxZero

Fax Zero - The best eFax alternativeIf you’ve ever tried using eFax, you’ve probably learned to hate it by now. Between their unscrupulous billing practices, and their outrageous price for fax services, they are now labeled as nothing more than a huge scam in my book.

These days, I only need to send a fax two or three times per year.  Nobody I know owns a fax machine (let alone a copper telephone line to send it over).  The biggest problem, however, was that until recently, there was no good alternative to eFax.

Now, like a bright ray of light descending from the heavens, we have faxZERO.com. Not only is their process simple, clean, quick and easy, but it is also…. FREE! No trial periods, no hidden fees… just FREE for faxes that are 3 pages or less.  If you have more than 3 pages to send, the cost is a fixed $1.99 per fax.

I do not make any commision with this post… I am just a happy customer after using their service for the first time today.

I can’t wait for the day that fax machines exist only in museums, but until then, just save yourself a HUGE hassle with eFax and use faxZero.

 

Synology DS1513+ NAS w/LAG – The ultimate home storage set-up

1513_and_SG300Want to get serious with your home storage set up? The 1513+ NAS server is for you.  With 5 drive bays, 4 network interfaces, and scaling up to 60TB, this thing is overkill for most people (probably including me).

I am using this as general home storage, and to store HD security camera footage.  I have Linux, Mac, and Windows workstations in my home, and this NAS fits my needs perfectly.  I’ve been up and running for about three weeks now, with no major complaints.  The Synology OS and the web-front end is very well-engineered, and I haven’t run into any bugs at all.

Network and Link Aggregation (LAG)

Along with my Synology Filestation purchase, I also upgraded my home network.  In order to benefit from the 4 Gigabit network ports on the back of the Synology, a switch capable of link aggregation is required. Specifically, the switch needs to adhere to the IEEE 802.3ad standard.

After going back and forth between a layer 2 switch and a layer 3, I finally just decided to spend a little extra and went with the Cisco SG 300-20 managed switch. This switch is awesome. If you’re not a network engineer familliar with IOS, there is a very feature-rich web front end that I used for everything. I also replaced all of my older CAT5 cables in the house with some nice new (and cheap) CAT6. Here’s what my super-charged home network looks like these days:

homenetworkpng

Setting up LAG (link aggregation, teaming, binding, bonding, whatever you want to call it) was a breeze on both the Synology and the switch:

  1. Plug in all four network cables from the Synology into four ports on the switch.
  2. Configure link aggregation in the Synology first (via Control Panel -> Network). Choose the type of aggregation, and configure your IP address, etc.
  3. On the Cisco, configure a LAG group and assign the four ports to that group. I set the load balance to MAC.
  4. I later turned flow control on for the LAG ports, as I was seeing some packet loss in the Synology logs. You may need to experiment a bit here with your switch and clients. Also keep in mind that it takes quite a bit of traffic/activity to happen for those LAG algorithms to start being efficient.  I didn’t see any noticeable improvement when testing concurrent speeds at first. Only after a lot of testing and activity did I see more than 1000 Mb/s out of the filestation.

It is important to note that many people will not benefit from link aggregation.  LAG won’t make a difference in the transfer speeds to/from a single computer.  You’re not building a fatter pipe with LAG, you’re simply allowing multiple interfaces to operate as one, which in turns allows you to push to multiple computers concurrently at a higher rate.  When only interacting with one client, the port speed will always be Gigabit (unless you have a LAG set up on the client, and a 10Gig switch!).  However, if you’re streaming HD movies or constantly moving large files to or from multiple clients, this is a great feature.

Storage

I went with 5x 4TB Seagate NAS drives. These babies gave me just under 15 usable in the Synology Raid configuration, and were on the compatibility list from Synology. No drive issues yet, though I feel one of them may be failing, as once in a while I will hear a click, then each drive seems to do a cycle with the green light turning off momentarily on each drive, left-to-right. Drive failure is not surprising when dealing with 20TB. In fact, due to my previous history with buying new drives, I expected at least one to be DOA, but that was not the case! I will post updates here as things progress.

All in all, a great device. My only complaint was the “Surveillance center” app only included a license for a single camera. Buying more licenses is not cheap at all. Instead of buying more, I just re-purposed an old windows server to manage the cameras and the footage file management, then used the Synology as mounted storage on my security cam server. Here’s my final set set up:

lag_screenshot

FI9821W – Big firmware update (finally)

FI9821WFoscam has finally released a sizable firmware update to address the many issues/bugs/inconsistencies with their popular 9821W HD Wireless security camera.

Highly anticipated features include:

  • Added support for MJPEG HTTP URL stream, and JPEG capture, similar to older MJPEG camera functionality
  • Fixed many items related to email, FTP, and general security concerns (say goodbye to stupid default pre-configured users!)
  • Fixed bugs and added setting to adjust the pan/tilt, especially when the camera resets/turns on.

View the full 1.1.1.10 change log or just go get the update!

Hidden Tethering App in App Store! Hurry!

tetherIf you have an unlimited data plan (AT&T), and don’t want to jailbreak your iphone, act fast, because there is an app in the App store that has tethering as a hidden feature. Somehow this app flew under Apple’s radar.

The app is called FlashArmyKnife and you can get it by clicking here.

Some quick instructions to access the hidden tethering feature in Windows 7:

  1. Open the Network and Sharing Center
  2. Set up a new connection
  3. Choose “set up wireless ad-hoc network”
  4. Create the network
  5. On the iphone, go to WiFi settings and choose the new network you made
  6. Open the FlashArmyKnife app on the iphone
  7. This is where you start to access the hidden feature: open the calculator part of the app, then press: 1642, M+, C, 1452, M+, C, 1943, M+
  8. Now go to the web tab in FlashArmyKnife and load any site
  9. Back in the iPhone Wifi settings, open the network details. If you see an IP address, take note of it, and you’re on to the next step. If you don’t see an IP yet, try entering the digits again into the calculator (step 7) and loading a site.
  10. To set up the computer, go to Internet Options, then click the connection tab and then “LAN Settings”
  11. Click the checkbox for Proxy server, and enter the IP that you saw on the iPhone. Use 6667 for the port.
  12. Click the “Advanced” button and then uncheck “use the same proxy server for all protocols” option.
  13. Enter the IP again for the socks address, with port 6668. Click okay out of everything.
  14. Back on your phone, open the app again and back to the calculator. Press “C” and then put this string in again: 1642, M+, C, 1452, M+, C, 1943, M+
  15. You should be all set! Just keep that app running, and turn off the autolock on your iPhone, and you should be able to tether away!

Some more help can be found in this video or this link.

Brother printers require all color cartridges to print black and white

Dear Brother,

What is wrong with you? Why do I need to purchase $70 dollars worth of color ink to print a black and white text-only document?

I own a MFC-J415W and would recommend it to nobody. The Multifunction center works well for scanning and copying, but it has one fatal flaw: In the event that you run out of Yellow, Magenta, or Cyan, the entire printer shuts down and prevents printing until all ink is replaced.  Minor inconvenience? Well, when the LC61 series ink packs cost over $70, I call it a scam.

Don’t believe me? Look what their support had to say:

6:44 PM Paul: Hello, David. Thank You for contacting Brother Chat Support. Just a moment while I review your issue.
6:44 PM Paul: I understand you concerns and I will be more than happy to assist you with your issue today.
6:45 PM David: ok
6:45 PM Paul: I have a solution I can provide you with which will guide you through step by step instructions to help resolve the issue you are having. May I send you the link with these instructions now?
6:45 PM David: okay
6:45 PM Paul: http://host220.brother.com:8080/sap/bc/bsp/sap/zsdb/display.htm?SOLUTION=200000026643
6:45 PM Paul: Please follow these steps to assist with your issue, was there anything else I can assist with today?
6:46 PM David: this does not address my issue.
6:47 PM David: The printer is reporting “can not print” due to no yellow ink. I am attempting to print in black and white.
6:47 PM Paul: If the message cannot print is on the display the ink cartridge will need to be replaced before you can continue printing.
6:47 PM David: But I am printing black and white. Why do I need to buy yellow ink for that?
6:48 PM David: isn’t there a way to print using the black cartridge?
6:48 PM Paul: Your Brother machine is designed to stop ALL printing operations (printing from the pc, printing received faxes and printing copies or reports) when any of the ink cartridges are empty. This is to ensure the life of the print head and maintain premium print quality. If the unit were to continue printing, print jobs and cleaning cycles would suction air from the dry cartridge and damage the print head. Even if you print in black only or change the print settings to MONO or GRAYSCALE to avoid printing in color, the programmed cleaning cycles would still suction the dry cartridge, because they are programmed to clean ALL the ink nozzles. The only way to continue printing is to replace the empty ink cartridge or cartridges.
6:49 PM David: thanks. I’ll buy a new printer, as that is much cheaper than replacing ink on this one.
6:49 PM Paul: Thank you for contacting Brother. Have a great day. If you need additional assistance with your issue, please contact us back though chat.

So, there’s my advice: go buy another printer. It is WAY cheaper than replacing the color ink on this one every month or so.

Update (5/24/2015): Alternatively, as someone pointed out in the comments, you can buy these cheap generic replacement cartridges for about 9 dollars from Amazon.