Upgrading from AMD to Nvidia, Code 39 .. driver corrupted trying to have a better oculus DK2 experience

I bought a new video card to make my oculus rift DK2 experience better… oddly enough pulling out my HD 7770 ghz edition radeon card and replacing it with the GTX 660 OC went fine … well it did .. but a couple of reboots later, things went afoul… my display dropped resolution and device manager was reporting that the driver was corrupted or missing ( code 39 ) …

I spent a good 2 hours trying various things like driver removal tools in safe mode and many other things others have tried, but the most common fix I found was “do a clean reinstall of windows” …. NO THANK YOU

So here’s what I did… but I think the last step is the kicker..

1. Ran the driver cleanup tool to remove the old AMD drivers in safe mode AFTER I ran the uninstall in normal mode
2. Ran the driver cleanup tool to temove the nvidia drivers in safe… blah blah same as above
3. Edited my registery…

#3 is the big one.. you need to find the guid of your card, hint… it’s in the device manager for your display adapter on the details tab with the “device class guid” tab… I believe all video cards share the same class guid .. so.. {4d36e968-e325-11ce-bfc1-08002be10318} is what you’re looking for..

Open your registry editor and search for that string… exactly that string… the FIRST entry should contain an UpperFilters string … if it does, nuke that puppy.. delete it! send it to internet hell … you probably have some kind of other video device that is causing issues … that key is making you pay for it .. in my case it was my oculus rift messing with my video card change :)

SO .. after I cleaned all remnants of my old drivers AND made that registry tweak, then rebooted… everything worked perfectly.. I reinstalled my nvidia drivers, I reinstalled the latest DK2 SDK run time and everything was perfect.. no reinstall of windows required..

Literally in everything I’ve read online, when you run into a code 39 … finding the device GUID as described above, then editing the registry to delete the UpperFilters key seems to do the job… sometimes apparently there’s a lowerfilters key as well ..

I hope this helps someone..

- Lon

Avoid A2 Cloud Hosting Like the Plague as a Business!

First let me say I’m biting the hand that feeds me, I’m a long time A2 hosting customer for my personal things and those are tiny sites that do little to nothing.. I’ve been a member for years and I’ve referred a TON of clients.. I still recommend them for their standard hosting accounts since I’ve had only one issue and they fixed it by moving me to a new server because the one I was on was apparently over crowded.

At ANY rate… My company was looking to move to cloud hosting because we have corporate clients who demand high availability and we didn’t want to put them on our colocated server because there have been random issues usually once or twice a year where maybe a drive will fail in the raid which causes performance issues, or once when the datacenter lost power. So after my excellent history with A2 I decided to suggest their cloud server option.. the price was more than right and their support staff to me seemed competent ..

We signed up in December and started actually utilizing it in January or so.. We set up a dedicated server for a very critical client who sells medical supplies and then a second server for our shared hosting environment.

Things were dandy until about March or April and we started having connectivity problems.. the first issue they claimed was a rogue server congesting the network… the second issue was something they took a full business day to solve while we had a dozen critical sites offline.. their support wouldn’t really say anything other than they will get back to me when they know something more.. Eventually they got the system up but the drive was corrupt to the extreme for no apparent reason.. they literally GAVE up on it and said I should back up as much as I can and then deploy a new instance and start over, which was unacceptable to me.. now that the system was back up I FIXED IT MYSELF via the console… the next two days our other server went offline and I spent hours with the support staff.. so I decided to log into our shared server and see what files were modified by them to fix the other machines network issue..

Guess what? … they hard coded the IP address into /etc/network/interfaces and disabled DHCP … which instantly told me their DHCP server was down.. so I repeated that process on our other server and got it back up MYSELF … and then I warned A2 that their DHCP server was dead and that if they didn’t fix it they would be blasted by phone calls, oh and PS .. every call I made to A2 .. I got one person, except once or twice when someone else answered… which makes me think their support staff is VERY small.. it’s also VERY dis-concerning that their DHCP server was down and their support staff fixed me by hard-coding my IP rather than fixing the actual problem.. which then took down my second server a couple days later after the IP expired… they had no clue and it was simple .. SUPER simple to diagnose, any rookie admin should have spotted that instantly.

After those issues were resolved .. A2 sent a bulletin saying they would be doing a 4 hour maintenance and that all systems running would stay running, any systems down would be down for the duration.. my system was up… literally ON the hour that they were starting maintenance my server was halted with “Power Button Pressed” while I was in the middle of editing a file via SSH… after the maintenance, nobody notified me it was done.. I went in and “stopped” and “started” the system myself .. it came back up..

A few hours later… it halted again “Power Button Pressed”.. I contacted support and they insured me NOBODY over there did that.. and I know there’s no way I could have done it.. so it happened once or twice more randomly .. They eventually got me to a “guru” who suggested I disable ACPI even though I never heard of that happening, and he couldn’t provide links showing it had… nevertheless I disabled ACPI exactly as he said… and it happened several more times over the course of several days.. randomly, USUALLY during business hours.. sometimes late..

So our clients were VERY upset, and so were we.. I eventually set up a new VPS with another provider local to me where I used to work actually… I migrated all of our clients off the troubled server thinking maybe they are right, maybe there’s just a glitch in that installation.. but I wasn’t going to take a chance.. I left the dedicated server there and migrated everything off the shared server.. which running the exact same version of Debian without fault.. here’s the kicker though..

THE SERVER THAT NEVER HALTED OR HAD ISSUES… Suddenly started halting .. that’s right, our dedicated server started halting right after I cancelled our shared server.. So my only thought is one of two things after speaking with several of my fellow systems admins, and we’ve been in this business for a long time .. ( me since 1998 )..

1. Either something is seriously wrong with their config that causes other users who are “stopping” their VM instances to trigger a halt on mine… or ..
2. Someone at A2 is having fun at their users expense

So I tell you this story NOT to bash A2 .. but to warn you of my experience and tell you the story of what we went through.. it cost us several clients and if I hadn’t acted it would have cost us more… we experienced two full 8 hour day outages along with a 4 hour outage and then the miscellaneous network issues to add another couple of hours.. all within just a few months.. that is BEYOND unacceptable.. and the funny thing is, the main reason our CEO went with it was because one of the key features is ( hahaha ) .. “HIGH AVAILABILITY – Free”

You get what you pay for folks…. you’ve been warned.. their support is also VERY slow on the VPS cloud environment, they start you at level 1 which seems to know nothing beyond what is on your own control panel… they can verify you are down, they can click stop,start,reboot the same as you probably already tried.. but then they just push you to upper level which is VERY slow to reply.. It’s not like their standard hosting which lower level support seems better equipped for.. so again.. BE warned..

Oh and one last thing.. they told me they found logs that said the halts were related to us editing the disk size and adding an IP .. which we did do .. months earlier, so I asked them how actions taken months ago would cause randoml multiple halts now and they really ignored it for a while until they agreed that was probably a “red herring” ( their words ) … crazy..

Just so you know my background..

I started in 1998 working at DONet, I worked my way up to lead linux systems administrator and ran the department until I moved into primarily software development where I created the toolset they used ( and still use some of it to this day ) to run the business. I then moved on to Bitstorm in 2007 where I serve as the lead software engineer and systems administrator.

I started with computers when I was 13 and ran my first bulletin board system ( pre internet popularity )

Some of my high points ( or low depending on your perspective )

1. Helping reverse engineer the ICQ protocol ( I had a motive )
2. Developing a basic form of artificial intelligence ( my motive for #1 )
3. Developing a chat bot that talked with random people
4. Getting nearly sued by AOL for 1, 2 and 3 ..
5. Developed many automated systems for detecting and stopping hackers before they have a chance ( requires administration of the server ).. at least one of which I released as a Joomla plugin

PS. AOL took my website’s domain and shut it down… which I recently got back ;) stay tuned on that..

Ps. Ps. … This image is my ticket history, notice the last issue at the top.. that was the random server halting which was THE WORST issue we had on the shared server, look how long it was open? it was only closed when we cancelled that service.. and forgive the typo, I’m too tired to correct it .. :) optn = open

Tickets

The iphone 5c is a disappointment

It’s basically raping their customers.. it’s offering the same old phone but with colors.. it’s like they are discarding their scraps with some colors on it and saying “here boy.. c’mere .. ” .. don’t be insulted.

This is the same phone as their last generation.. only you get a plastic colorful case instead of a truly protective metal case..This feels like a cheap way to sell off their over production units ..

As for the iPhone 5s .. not much to see here except from extra CPU horsepower when the iPhone is already not seeing apps using it’s full potential, so that’s not so big.. and a fingerprint scanner.. which is cool but I’ll have to wait and see when it’s been around a bit because I know biometrics… this could bite them… I’m going to wait a bit.

How to get a twitter feed using PHP WITHOUT using api 1.1 and without oauth

Hello folks! It’s been a while, I know =)

Recently twitter retired api 1.0 which was extremely useful and easy to implement. They’ve switched to API 1.1 which incurs mandatory authentication for every request as well as API limits. For many, this is fine and dandy but for others it throws a wrench in things.

For those of you who just want some easy to use code to pull a twitter feed, I present to you a little lunch time coding project I put together purely to give myself a chance to play with the amazingly awesome “Simple HTML Dom” class in PHP.

Simple HTML Dom makes it extremely easy to parse / scrape html without having to write complex regular expressions.. So what you see below is purely a demonstration of that.

Warning: This code should not be used in production, you risk getting your account blocked! This is PURELY for educational purposes.

 

How I fixed iMessage activation on T-Mobile

The other day I noticed that iMessage deactivated on my iPhone 4s ( ios 6.1.1 )  and every time I tried to enable it, it would say “Waiting for activation” and then would eventually fail. I tried all of the normal crap that I read in the forums but nothing worked!

Eventually I decided to poke around on the filesystem ( yes my device is jailbroken ) .. I happened across a file called com.apple.imservice.iMessage.plist and opened it up in my plist editor.. I noticed it had entries for ServerHost which read “init.ess.apple.com” .. so I tried to do a host lookup on that but it wasn’t resolving properly.. so I tested it against apple’s own DNS servers and got back that it was an alias for init.ess.apple.com.edgesuite.net .. in short the solution was simply doing a search and replace for init.ess.apple.com and replacing it with init.ess.apple.com.edgesuite.net.. then while imessage is disabled, I re-uploaded that plist file and re-enabled imessage.. viola, it activated immediately.

This same fix worked on FaceTime as well, the file for that is com.apple.imservice.FaceTime.plist

If you’re not jailbroken then you may be able to iBackupBot to edit your iPhone back up files and then restore that backup to replace the modified plist files.

 

Good luck!

Why you should avoid instagram.. and be aware of others

Instagram was attractive because it was social.. you can char anything you want as fast as you want… but it’s become something where they love sucking up your content as fast as you can share it but when it comes to removing it as you would please.. you’re screwed…

I tried to write my own script to manage my own private account, I never shared it with the public… they hated it .. they took measures to block it … now even if I delete things too quickly MANUALLY they start ignoring my deletes.. you can only do so many things so quickly .. they don’t want to make it easy for you to remove your content.. the only easy way is to delete your entire account.. I don’t want that.. but it IS MY CONTENT… I want the ability to post it and have it gone when I want it gone.. I do the same thing with Facebook… don’t make me jump through HOOPS to manage my own material.. that’s insane.. add advertisements if you want to pay for your simple little joke for an app .. but don’t make it a hassle to manage my own content.. it was the ease that lead me to you.. the hassle is what makes many of us want to flush you down the toilet..

JOIN me if you think that Instagram needs to open up deleting bulk photos at once.. and via the web…

Perhaps we need to start a petition

Deleting instagram images in bulk with PHP – A PHP class for instagram!

I was very upset that Instagram wouldn’t allow me to delete all my images easily.. I wanted to clear it without having to do it one at a time.. Well I decided to learn my way around instagram and write a PHP class that allowed me to do a ton of stuff without oauth authentication.

This isn’t the actual class, but this is an example of how it’s used the way I wrote it..

The script can authenticate with instagram, search for users or tags, follow users, unfollow users, get a user’s full feed and also delete images.

I planned to add more functionality like adding comments, and yes even image uploading.. but my time is short and this was just a tool for me.. If you have questions about it, feel free to contact me =) .. I won’t post the PHP class online because it’s a violation of their TOS to do what this script does.. and it’s also likely to get you banned if it’s abused.

Creating a chat bot with php, xmpphp, openfire, kraken and cleverbot with support for icq, aim, yahoo, msn, hotmail, facebook chat and more

A long time ago I used to run a site called icqbot.net where I distributed a free perl script that would connect to ICQ and have conversations with them.. it utilized the elizatalk AI engine as it’s brain and then later a different system called MegaHAL.. it wasn’t until AOL came after me for violating their trademark in my domain name ( they own ICQ ).. so the party was over.

Today I happened upon a site called Clever Omegle ( http://www.iywib.com/cleverbot_omegle.php ) and LOVED it.. It basically takes the random chat of omegle and marries it with the AI of cleverbot.com to create something really entertaining.

(more…)

Clint Eastwood at the republican national convention – RNC 2012

Yes I watched, and yes it was embarrassing in a way to see such a legendary man ramble on and talk to a chair for well over 10 minutes.

Clint Eastwood is 82 years old and has starred in nearly 70 motion pictures..  He, at his age, still maintains a rate of about 1 movie per year either on camera or behind it.  At that pace, and at his advanced age.. I think we can and should forgive him for any ramblings at the RNC.  He’s nothing if not passionate and I applaud him for that.  He has more energy and intelligence than many half, or even more than half his age.

So in the immortal words of Chris Crocker, LEAVE EASTWOOD ALONE!

Do you get spammed on your contact forms by bots? I might have some help for you

I’m a web developer and we’ve deployed hundreds of sites.. most of those sites have contact forms and all of them use google’s re-captcha system..  Recently the amount of spam has gone off the scale, some how these people are evading google’s captcha system.. whether it be by paying for a service or by some other means.

I decided to try to implement a few things:

1. I wrote PHP code to check the IP address against several RBL lists on the net.
2. I wrote PHP code to implement Akisment in Joomla, customizeable for each form.
3. I wrote PHP code to check them against the great botscout service

After playing around a while I decided the best order was RBL first because it has no usage limits, Akismet next because it also has no limits and then lastly botscout because it has a 300 check per day limit with an API key and only 20 without one ( keys are free ) ..

I still noticed some getting through however.. so I implemented my own checks.. I noticed that in 90% of the cases the spammer was using a phone number of 123456 or a zip code of 123456 .. so I had a simple if statement to check those fields.. that blocked a TON … but still the occasional one has slipped through..

Lastly, I implemented a honeypot field.. this is a field on your form named “url” or “email” ( those are most common ) and then hiding it via CSS.. if the form is submitted and that field is populated, you KNOW you have a bot because human viewers can’t see that field..

So after writing those two if statements, I added them to the top .. to my surprise, checking for 123456 and the honeypot field has blocked 100% of the bots.. they don’t even make it to the services I listed above..

If you’re interested in some code snippets ( php ) let me know and I’ll share.. If there’s enough interest I will write a Joomla plugin that implements everything I’ve mentioned.