Friday, 15 February 2013

An error occurred while trying to access the startup disk settings

You've likely arrived at this page because you've installed windows 8 with bootcamp on a new mac and received the above error when you tried to open the bootcamp control panel.

In what seems to be one of the most ridiculous situations to have ever arisen in personal computing: your permissions are too high... I can't really explain it except to say that if you try to run bootcamp control panel from a non-administrator account, you will be allowed access. So there are a few work arounds you can use:

Option 1: set up a second user account (non-administrator) and use that to access the bootcamp control panel

Option 2 (better): 
 - run command prompt as administrator
 - enter the following:
C:\Windows\System32\runas.exe /trustlevel:0x20000 AppleControlPanel.exe
This will allow you access to the bootcamp control panel but will not have a lasting effect.

Option 3 (best):
- right click desktop and choose New > Shortcut
- Enter the following into the item location prompt:
"C:\Windows\System32\runas.exe" /trustlevel:0x20000 AppleControlPanel.exe

Note the position of the quotations (they must be included)
- name the shortcut
- right click the new shortcut and click the advanced button under the Shortcut tab
- add a check to the run as administrator box
Congratulations, you now have a working shortcut for your bootcamp control panel

Hope that helps. 

Saturday, 14 January 2012

MagicJack plus Review

My wife works from home and ends up making a ton of long distance calls. We've abandoned the old land line so she's racking up a hefty bill on her cell phone. Enter voip phone...

I did an online search to compare MagicJack plus vs Skype vs other.  MagicJack came out on top when it for price (skype can be cheaper but if you want a phone number or call id it ends up being more expensive).  I paid 79.99 for the MagicJack plus - this includes one year of unlimited calls in North America and a free number in the USA. Add 10$ for a Canadian or custom number.

Don't get roped into a big shipping charge - you can find it in a store near you, I got mine at Walmart.

Next I was interested in a device that didn't need to be plugged into the computer. MagicJack plus can plug directly into the router and doesn't need a computer to be on to function. Similarly an accessory is available for Skype to do the same thing.

It includes a 30 day return policy.

The MagicJack plus works right out of the box... sortof... You need to go through a registration process to get your number and in doing so they try to upsell you on multiyear plans, or custom numbers etc.

Once you get it configured, it works like a charm. Plug into your router - or into your computer and start making and receiving calls. The audio quality is about as good as any landline. Likewise there is no obvious delay to speak of.

It is possible to make 911 calls from the MJ (not that I tested this out). MJ uses the address you input at registration to route the 911 call.

Areas for improvement:
1 - the website is awful. Feels like a scam.
2 - Faxing? people have had variable results with MagicJack, I suspect MagicJack plus is better in this regard.
3 - I ran into a little trouble using it when you need to input a number during a call to navigate an automated phone menu. Occasionally, I needed to reinput the number to get it to work.

Our MagicJack plus will pay for itself very shortly. My above complaints are relatively mild. Most importantly the call quality seems to good - this was my biggest worry. So far, I would recommend the MJP to anyone who is looking to save a little cash on their phone bill.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Yes Virginia, you can dual boot XP and OSX lion.

I recently updated my wife's iMac to Lion. It was set up to dual boot with XP through Boot Camp from it's Snow Leopard days. I performed the upgrade with little trouble using a USB flash drive and the widely available online instructions. I was relieved to see that my XP partition was unharmed and I was able to load it without difficulty.

In my infinite stupidity, I decided it would be nice to have 3 partitions, OSX, XP, and some common area for mutual files. So I added a partition. -- Let me right now point out that there are many barriers to doing this, most of all the inability to efficiently and safely use any of the partition types across the two platforms - NTFS support in OSX is poor, and FAT32 is problematic for many reasons. The Mac formats are poorly supported in Windows. My advice would be to use an external drive (probably in NTFS with some third party support for OSX to be able to write to the disk). If there are any good suggestions, I'm happy to hear - I don't see why MS and APPLE can't play a little nicer together the only people benefiting from this are the third party software producers. I digress....

Anyway, the third partition messed up the dual boot configuration. I tried to fix this with reEFIt, and with the windows install CD - and I'm certain it was fixable, but I spent too long on it already so I decided to fix it by deleting all the partitions other than OSX. Done.

So I set out to reinstalling XP using Boot Camp. To my dismay, only windows 7 platforms are supported by Boot Camp in Lion. I started reading online and it seemed there were many problems with the XP-Lion setup not the least of which included no driver support for XP! Yikes.

Why XP you ask? Well, it still works pretty well for my needs. I'm sure Windows 7 is much better, but honestly the price is an absolute outrage!

All of this to say, I managed to get an XP - Lion dual boot running with little problem. Here's how:

1. With Disk Utility create a FAT32 partition for Windows. To do this you need to select the hard disk, then go to the partition tab and hit the plus button under the main partition. Choose the FAT32 format MS-DOS(fat) format.

2. Insert your XP CD and boot to the CD using the option key at startup or Command-C at startup.

3. Run the intall of XP (make sure you select the correct partition to install it on)
(also - don't reformat from the install if you want a partition >32gb in FAT32)

4. Once XP is installed you should be able to see it using the option key at startup.

5. Driver installation: you need to get your hands on the snow leopard or leopard drivers for your mac. These can probably be found online. I had the Snow Leopard disk that came with our computer handy, so I used that. I was able to install the drivers with little difficulty. This step is the key to making this all work, so if you don't have a PRE Lion install disk for your computer, make sure you can locate the necessary drivers before you start.

Hope this helps someone.

EDIT: Here is a link to a number of valuable driver downloads from Apple, this includes the range of available bootcamp drivers in separate packages. As far as I can tell, the 3.2 drivers (see step 5 above) are the last ones to support XP.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Apple TV, without router, netflix, wifi login page

My wife and I ended up away from home for a prolonged period. We have a netflix account which we enjoy quite a bit and decided it would be nice to watch on the hotel TV rather than the laptop.

Enter apple TV.

I recognize that apple TV is not the only solution to this problem. It would have been much simpler to go and buy a cable to hook the laptop/ipad to the TV but I liked the versatility of apple TV - especially as far as future utility is concerned.

Little did I know the problems I would encounter with this process. I will point out that I'm using apple tv from 2011 (the black one). The problem arises from the need to satisfy the hotel's wifi splash screen...

Here are a few things I learned:

1. I tried hooking up my laptop via ethernet and internet share with ad-hoc connection - - Apple TV will not connect to ad-hoc networks (not sure about the original ATV)

2. Like wise internet sharing from wifi to ethernet (ATV2 hooked into macbook ethernet) didn't work for me. At one point the menus changed as if it was working but I never actually managed to watch anything.


If you want to use your Apple TV 2 with your hotel's internet connection MAC address cloning seems to be the most effective method. Here are the steps:

1. Hook up your apple TV and go to network settings. Take down the MAC address.

2. Change your laptop or other devices MAC address to be the same as the Apple TV. On a macbook this can be achieved with terminal. Use the command: ifconfig en0 | grep ether to check the current mac address. Change the address with the command sudo ifconfig en0 ether xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx 

Use en1 to change the address of airport on the macbook.

3. Plug hotel ethernet cable into laptop. Then open an internet browser on the laptop and accept the agreement on your hotel's wifi splash screen.

4. Take down the computers ip, subnet, router, dns information from system preferences.

5. Now plug the ethernet cable into apple TV. In network settings enter the information you took down from your laptop.

6. Hope this worked! Worked for me.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

questrade vs interactive brokers review

I consider myself a moderately experienced when it comes to online trading. I've tried many of the Canadian brokerage firms. This is a review of the 2 I use most: Questrade and Interactive Brokers.


If you are unaware, questrade is an online broker in Canada. They provide access to stocks, mutual funds options, forex even bullion.

Ease of use
The platform takes a little getting used to, but I think that's true for all online brokerage. Access to symbol lookup is not as obvious as you might expect, leaving you to fend for yourself some of the time. Canadian stocks need a suffix: .to for tsx, vn for venture.
The "View market data" button is where you have to go to see the available research and to lookup symbols. This feature is not as robust as I've seen with other brokers but it's not the worst either.

Depending on your style of trading, questrade may be the cheapest broker available. Questrade trounces the competition when it comes to large volume purchases. This becomes important if you buy stocks under one dollar. The going rate is $4.95 per trade, or $0.01 per share or max $9.95. Frequently additional fees apply, but the overall cost is generally less with questrade than anywhere else. No minimum activity and good access to free data. Registered accounts can trade in USD but you get dinged with fees pretty severely.

Account types
Registered accounts available.

Rates are competitive (currently prime + 1.5%).

Here the fees are a little higher. Start at $9.95 + $1.00 per contract. They provide some nice information on available options in the "View market data" section. There are a few things missing here though, for instance to place more complicated orders (spreads) you must call the trading center. No additional fee is charged for this service, but I hate calling.

Mutual funds, Forex, Bullion
I havn't used any of these services. All I know is that you cannot use their forex for currency exchange (everything goes through USD). They do offer a currency exchange service which will get you a better deal than the bank.

Customer service
I've read a lot of bad stories online, but I have to say that I use their customer service frequently and have found them to be available and generally well-informed. The best feature is the chat option. Within a few minutes you'll be chatting with someone who can answer your question. I also appreciate that the application can be completed electronically for the most part (you can scan and email/upload your documents instead of mailing everything).

Interactive Brokers

IB is a worldwide broker with a Canadian contingent. They provide access to stocks, options and futures and much more. This broker is able to cater to the most advanced users.

Ease of use
This platform is somewhat more difficult to navigate. There are multiple web based trading options as well as mutliple desktop applications. Searching for symbols is a little more natural than on questrade.

Depending on your style of trading, IB may be the cheapest broker available. That said, free data is at a minimum. I end up using questrade for my quotes, even when I trade on IB (I'm too cheap to pay the $10/month) There is a minimum commission of $10/month. The commission structure seems better than questrade. $0.005/share for US stocks, $0.01/share for Canadian stock, min $1.00, max $0.5% of total value which means that the fees are generally less than questrade, but more for penny stocks with large volume.

Account types
I don't think registered accounts are available in Canada.

Rates are competitive (currently prime + 1.5%).

For most traders the fee is $1.00/ per US contract, 1.50 per CDN contract. This is the best rate I've seen. The desktop platforms allow you to place complex option trades (like spreads).

Mutual funds, Forex, Bullion
I havn't used any of these services. They allow you to link CDN and USD accounts so you can use forex for currency exchange.

Customer service
These guys have a chat available too. Some comments are online about how these guys try to steal your money, including some criminal accusations. I suspect these comments are misrepresentations. I've not had any problems.


I have a hard time choosing between the two. At the end of the day, what I care about is price. Questrade is cheapest for penny stocks and registered accounts, IB is cheapest for options. So, for now I'm sticking with both services.

jango user review

To call this a "review" is a little generous...

I just started using jango internet radio. I can safely say this is the best internet radio I've used. Pretty amazing given that it's totally free. I haven't even heard any ads yet.

The audio quality is excellent and music selection seems quite good. The stations are built based on your taste.  I rarely turn on my itunes these days. Jango is generally the first thing I do when I sit down at the computer. Highly, highly recommended.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

bootcamp from usb

This is something that I tried to achieve for a long time. Unfortunately I never managed to do it, but I feel like I was close. I wonder if the properties of the specific usb drive have anything to do with it.

At any rate the point of this post is here. This tool is able to create a bootable usb.