Overcoming TurboTax 2011 Unrecoverable error during install

16 01 2012

Click to enlarge

I got TurboTax this tax season but was greeted with an error message before I could even get the install past the first step. TurboTax  reports an error

Turbotax installation has encountered an unrecoverable error. Would you like more information on this error?

Clicking on the more info button take you to  an Intuit knowledgebase, where they acknowledge that this error occurs sometimes and one can register to be informed when a a fix is posted.

(Update 2012-02-04 Intuit have indentified the problem – read more here)

I really needed to get a jump on my taxes this year. H&R Block Taxcut software did not contain the forms necessary for me to claim my Electric Vehicle credit, so I turned to TurboTax only to get this error. Rather than wait for Intuit to post a  fix, I overcame the error by installing the software instead onto a XPMode virtual machine. If you encounter the TurboTax error and have Windows 7 Professional or better then XP Mode is your workaround.

To install XP Mode Read the rest of this entry »

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Google’s Two Step Verification – Why everyone needs to use it

15 03 2011

Google Authenticator Logo

Google have introduced a new feature called 2-step verification. To learn the basics read the Google Guide.

Why you Need it

This feature is a must have security feature that should make it very difficult for anyone to hack into your Google account, which is much more than simply your email. Google has a slew of products that you maybe using that store detailed personal information about you. Protecting this information is important to prevent Identity Fraud

Using the 2-step verification ensures that only authorized computers/devices will accept your Google password therefore restricting access to your Google email and other data. If someone finds out Read the rest of this entry »





How to register an orphaned AT&T 92370 handset to a different base station

9 03 2011
AT&T TL92370 Phone System

AT&T TL92370 Phone System

Lightening recently damaged my AT&T Home Telephone Answering system base station rendering the 3 cordless handsets useless. I purchased an identical Telephone system that comes with 3 handsets and hoped to reuse the handsets fom the old system on the new.

Problem

The AT&T TL92370 base station can support up to 12 handsets. However as I read through the instructions on registering and deregistering handsets, it became apparent that to deregister a handset from the base station one needed a working base station to do so. The handsets once registered to a base station cannot be registered to another until they have been released from the original base station. The orphaned handsets displayed the following message

Out of range OR No power at base

I searched in vain on the net looking for a way to remedy this. I diassembled one of the hansets hoping to find a reset switch. No such luck. I was now the proud owner of 3 orphaned handsets I could not use.

Resolution

I sent an email to AT&T asking how to accomplish this. I got a boilerplate response informing me that my problem was too complicated for email resolution and to call 1-888-883-2442 to speak to a tech. I called using Skype. It took about 8 minutes on hold before I got through to a live tech. He asked basic questions and did understand my problem first time. He put me on hold and came back with the folowing code to enter into the old handsets.

*331734# followed by menu/select

The phone beeps twice, reboots and then comes back up ready to register to a new base station.

Registering to the new base station is now easily accomplished using the standard instructions.

  • Press and hold handset locator on base station until ‘in use’ light comes on.
  • Press # on the handset and the phone registers itself to the base station.

I repeated the above procedure with my two remaining handsets and now I have a 6 handset cordless system for my home.

It’s important to note that if you have a working base station you should use the standard instructions for deregistering the handsets. Each handset gets allocated a handset number by the base station, if you deregister using the special code detailed in this post then the reserved handset number on the base station is consumed and cannot be reclaimed; thus reducing the number of handsets the base station can support by 1. The special code is only for use when you have a handset that is orphaned from a lost or  non-working base station.





Netflix stalls on iPad – Problem Resolved

9 02 2011

If Netflix streaming does not play on your iPad it could be a simple fix for an incompatibility with your wireless router.

iPads are quite notorious for having wireless issues, maybe this will be resolved with a future software upgrade for the iPad.

The symptoms I experienced are as follows. After clicking on play the Netflix app would say “Preparing to view….” and the bottom half of the screen was blank cutting off part of the movie cover graphic. Then the app would return to the movie browsing page without starting the movie.

Will Apple allow Tethering to the iPad?

To fix this issue go into the iPad settings menu for your WiFi  network and change the DNS entry to 208.67.222.222

Return to Netflix and the problem should be resolved.

The reason for the problem is that if your router utilizes DNSMasq the iPad/Netflix app misbehaves. By entering a manual DNS server address for OpenDNS service the iPad bypasses your routers DNS Cache which it is incompatible with.

In my case I use DD-WRT software in my router which by default utilizes DNSMasq to speed up your DNS queries. The problem could also be resolved by disabling DNSMasq on the router. Alternatively one could enter 8.8.8.8 into the DNS entry on the iPad wirelsss settings which would use Googles DNS service. Personally I prefer OpenDNS due to its richer feature set.






Pareto Logic Anti-Spyware – First Impressions

3 11 2010

Click on image to enlarge

Pareto Logic have had some good press regarding their security products recently so I decided to check their anti-spyware product out.

They only provide a ‘tease-ware’ version that detects spyware threats but will not clean unless you pay. There are other products that will do a similar job for free, such as SuperAntiSpayware which is my current favorite tool for sanitizing infected computers.

The most impressive feature of the Pareto product is the phenomenal speed of its scan. It’s quick scan took 17 seconds to scan 1/3 million items. SuperAntiSpyware quick scan took 6 minutes and 3 seconds to do a similar scan. The Pareto tool detected 7 adware cookies on my test system versus 10 adware cookies detected by SuperAntiSpyware. So SuperAntiSpyware still remains my favorite for cleaning systems, it is very thourough – and free. However I may well use the Pareto product on slow and/or heavily loaded systems as a diagnostic tool – doing a spyware scan can take hours on such systems and sometimes reveals nothing but nuisance items like cookies.

Pareto Logic have 10 different security products, 2 of which are anti-spyware. I don’t favor one-size-fits-all ‘suite products’ due to their heavy demands on systems, but really, 10 separate products? A little consolidation would be nice.

The bottom line is that the Pareto Logic anti-spyware tool is worth it for troubleshooting a system quickly due to its very fast scanning ability. For mitigation or ongoing protection it’s a bit pricey at $30 per pc.

For mitigating spyware, use SuperAntiSpyware. SuperAntiSpyware is a beast of a program, and I don’t recommend it for ongoing protection. The real-time protection costs $20 per pc, but can be picked up for $10 through special offers.

For ongoing spyware protection use Microsoft Security Essentials, it is totally free for both mitigation and ongoing protection.





New Kindle Owner – Week 2

22 09 2010

Reading Experience

I’ve read a fictional novel in the past week and have started to read a non-fictional book. It was great for the Kindle system to keep my place in the books and be able to easily switch between my Kindle and my android phone and pickup where I left off on the other device. I did not use my PC’s to do any reading last week. It is neat to see your progression through a book represented as percentage complete.

I found if light got low and a reading light was not readily available, switching to the droid allowed for low light reading. I didn’t do this often, most of the time I had enough light to read by, as one would with a physical book. The automatic bookmark synchronization between devices was very convenient. I never lost my place once :-)

Why I chose the Kindle in the first place

Amazon Kindle

Several of my blog readers asked me to compare the Kindle to the Nook. I don’t have a Nook but will share with you  my reasoning for picking the Kindle over the other e-book readers on the market. I was looking for an e-ink device so will not compare to the iPad in this analysis.

In my opinion the front runners in the e-book reading marketplace are the Kindle and the Nook. The Kobo and Sony are e-ink readers but I quickly eliminated them from my choices available based on the market share they have and reviews about them I had read online. The Kobo got poor reviews and the Sony I saw in Office Depot and did not like how it handled or looked.

The Nook and Kindle are both backed by large libraries of e-books, and both offer free classics.

B&N Nook

The Nook has some unique and interesting features that make it very attractive.

  • Free assistance from employees at Barnes & Noble stores
  • Read any e-book for free for one hour while at a Barnes & Noble store.
  • Color touchscreen book covers and menus, (book text is black & white).
  • Ability to ‘lend or borrow’ books between Nook friends, restricted to 14 day loan period.
  • Reasonable quantity of  Text Books in e-book format.
  • Extend-able memory through Micro-SD Memory slot.
  • EPub ‘open’ e-book format supported.
  • Runs on open source Android operating system, a true computer OS.

The Kindle 3 also has some unique features.

  • WhisperSync – keeps your place between reading devices (Nook website says ‘coming soon’).
  • Integration and account synchronization with Audible.com audio book library.
  • WebKit based browser which results in great web page rendering.
  • Extraordinary battery life – one month without wireless.
  • Lightest e-book reader in its class.
  • Free 3g web browsing.

The Nook features are very strong and technically it probably is the better reader, so why did I choose the Kindle over the Nook?

The two clinchers for me were

  1. The Financial solidity of Amazon. With e-books they are stored by the host company in a library. You can download from the library to your device. If you lose your device or it breaks, the books you purchased are still with the host company and available for download again. Barnes & Noble are unprofitable and in August 2010 put themselves up for sale. What will the future of the B&N e-book library be? No one can know and the uncertainty of this makes me skittish about putting dollars into a library of books I may lose control / access to in the not to distant future.
  2. Integration with Audible.com. I have been an Audible subscriber for 6 months or more and have quite a collection of audio books. These are instantly available on the Kindle because Amazon own Audible.com. I have listened to some of my audio books on the Kindle and they play as well as any MP3 player I have. For now one still has to buy audio and e-books separately and could end up paying twice. I am hopeful, as Amazon continue to integrate Audible into the Kindle ecosystem that a single payment will give access to both formats.

Had Barnes & Noble been more financially stable, my choice would have been much closer.

Books Read last week

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larrson. Murder Mystery fictional book. Highly recommended

Lies, Damn Lies and Science – Sherry Seethaler – Non fictional – Not enough read to recommend.

Oh yeah and I read the Kindle Users Guide :-)