June 2006

I think Norton is acting fishy [unsolved]

My Windows XP Machine is acting fishy. I installed the google pack, a software package that includes google desktop, firefox, google earth, picasa, and norton antivirus, and things have started going wrong with norton antivirus.

I also installed google pack on a different PC and had the same thing happen. First Norton has an error like “Norton encountered an internal error and needs to close. Please reinstall norton antivirus.”

I also get the error when opening word documents or running the symantec autofix tool: “Norton Does not support the repair feature. Please reinstall norton antivirus.”

Then, programs will start to fail. After being left idle for about 15 minutes, the internet will fail. Launching programs will give you a file not found error. Rebooting fixes the problem.

On my main PC, I tried several times uninstalling norton antivirus and google pack. Norton still persists, giving me several errors including the amusing “this program was installed with [cobrandedpackagename]. Please uninstall [cobrandedpackagename] as well.” (Brackets included in the error message.) Now it says “The installation is missing the file instopts.dat. Setup will now exit. For more information, please visit wwww.symantec.com/install” [sic].

I’ve done an online virus scan with trendmicro housecall, which didn’t find much. Programs like mcaffee internet security and personal firewall are also not working now, and their uninstalls failed.

Certain run commands do not work anymore, such as cmd.exe and compmgmt.msc. Browsing to their location and double clicking does not work either. I get the error “Windows cannot access the specified device, path, or file. You may not have the appropriate permissions to access the file.”
I read here that nconvert.exe can generate this error for cmd.exe if it does not have the right permissions. However, I can’t find this file.

My user accounts window was completely blank, until I read here that running “regsvr32 jscript.dll” will solve this issue.

However, now that I can access user accounts, it looks like my account is completely normal, administrator with all rights.

I guess my next step is to find my hard drive device driver and do a repair install of windows.


I read that the sircam worm can corrupt rundll and .exe files, especially if you try to repair it with symantec norton, but their removal tool scaned my machine and couldn’t find it.
I didn’t want to run a system restore because I’d uninstalled antivirus programs and was afraid this would give me all sorts of errors (it has in the past). So I dug up my SCSI/ultra ATA hard drive drivers and did a repair install of windows.

47 updates later, it looks like I’m running smoothly again. I think I’ll try mcaffee instead of norton.

I may have had more luck fiddling with permissions before doing the reinstall. I didn’t try these but it looks as though there are some fixes on this page:


It also had a replacement cmd.exe that worked for me when my system was acting up. It’s a useful resource.

Even though my computer’s normal again I’ll leave this as unsolved because I don’t know what caused the problem.

Run Windows XP and OS X simultaneously on an Intel Mac

I’m not even going to call this a problem I solved because it’s just a program a lot of people already know about, but I didn’t, so here’s a shout out to it.

My friend Bob pointed out that Parallels had released Parallels Desktop, which allows you to run both OS’s at the same time by emulating Windows XP, and in his words, “kicks Virtual PC’s ass”. That’s because even though it’s an emulator that runs in OS X, it runs super fast natively harnessing the power of the intel chip instead of processing through several emulation layers first.

At a first look, I’m impressed with it. For an emulator, several things were easy right off the bat, such as good display resolution, network and sound support. Sharing folders could have been easier (you have to stop the emulator and manually set up shared files in the configuration) and I miss the drag and drop-into-the-window functionality for transferring files that you see in timbuktu and virtual PC, but it runs blazingly fast, and its fast user switching-esque cube rotating for switching between OS’s is kick ass. You can even make a cool ‘Smackbook Pro‘ using the macbook motion sensor to smack-switch between OS’s.

view cpu temp on a macbook pro [solved]

Widgets such as iStat nano (free) and miniStat2 (shareware) don’t seem to register the CPU temp on intel macs. That’s because you need to install a kernel extension called speedit first. You can install it by downloading it, opening the folder up in terminal, and running sudo ./install.sh .

My favorite cpu temp widget, miniCPUHeat, doesn’t seem to work for intel macs even after you install speedit, but the other ones will.

Right Click with an intel mac and bootcamp [solved]

I’ve been playing with a new macbook pro which I’ve really been enjoying. I just installed bootcamp and the installation went smoothly, however there was no friggen’ way to right click in windows. This little utility solved my problems:




Play AC3 Audio in Quicktime [solved]

Here’s an open source quicktime AC3 codec for those of you running a mac and not able to play those XVID and DIVX movies you’ve been downloading with the ac3 codec:
Ac3 is a typical codec for DVDs to have and AVIs to have, but for some reason quicktime doesn’t officially support it. Before my alternative was to use mplayer or ffmpegx, which do support AC3 avis.
The project seemingly has no documentation, but this sourceforge comment was helpful on understanding how to install it:
“For the benefit of anyone else new to adding components to Quicktime, just drop the downloaded “AC3 Codec.component” file into /Library/QuickTime.” – simonhobson

I already had an ac3 codec.component file, but I just renamed it and put this one in there and it works fine.

It’s slightly processor heavy and stutters a bit when quicktime’s in the background, but otherwise it plays fine.

Thanks to this site that led me to the codec, and also hosts a version for intel processors.

Safely Remove Hardware Icon Not Shown in Windows XP [solved]

Lately the safely remove hardware icon has been missing in my taskbar in windows XP. With some devices I can simply power them down and unplug them, but others, such as external hard drives, require me to shut down the computer to unplug them.
While the safely remove hardware dialog does have an option to hide the icon from the taskbar, it is not checked for me.
If I right click on the taskbar I can click on “customize notifications”, and safely remove hardware will be listed under inactive notifications. I can change it from “hide when inactive” to “always show”, but it still doesn’t show in the taskbar, even behind the hidden taskbar icon toggle.
Furthermore if I get to the safely remove hardware dialog, through a hack shown to me on another forum, the devices I wish to safely remove are not listed.
It turns out that this is a symptom of having Quickinstaller and LibUSB installed, a utility for interfacing with foreign USB devices such as CVS camcorders. Part of the consequence of hacking camcorders I guess is breaking part of windows’ USB handling. While I have not solved how to restore the icon while having LibUSB installed, at least I know what’s causing it now.
More info here: