Local Disk Galore

My iPhone had an interesting issue after upgrading to iOS8 … Infinite virtual disks!?  Unfortunately it was but an illusion, all gone after restarting the phone.

iPhone - Local Disk!


Basement tapes


I don’t pretend I know how to play, but I do have fun. We hang, we drink, we play. Songs are live improv, lyrics are developed on the fly, jamming is long, sometimes magic happens, sometimes not.

The Flying EP – All flight videos are for The Airpborne TPS Reporting Tour recorded on a Nokia 1020 matched to BigHandShake Basement Jamming Action(tm)

How To Setup A LAMP Website on VPS Server


My photo website’s excellent software Gallery had gone end of life and was no longer supported. I used the opportunity to explore new software, Koken, and move from shared hosting to my first VPS – Virtual Private Server. I’ve hosted development websites on Windows and Linux, and setup many many websites using shared hosting from Site5 and other hosting services – now was time to take the dive and go next level. I chose Digital Ocean for it’s popularity, great reviews and pricing and excellent tutorials which were incredibly helpful.

I’m a Windows/Mac guy so this project was both fun and hard! End result is here – clean, lean and fast site: http://photo.gfisk.com/

Steps to get this rolling!

  1. Setup and connect to your droplet at Digital Ocean
  2. Install and configure Ubuntu
  3. Install and configure Apache, MySQL, PHP and phpMyAdmin
  4. Install Koken (if you fancy…)

Tools you will need (Windows OS)

  1. Putty – SSH client for windows
  2. PuttyGen – create authentication keys for SSH
    1. Using PuttyGen – how to from Digital Ocean
  3. Paegent – an SSH authentication agent for PuTTY, PSCP, PSFTP, and Plink
  4. FileZilla – SFTP (requires Paegent for

Setup your Digital Ocean Droplet

  1. Setup Droplet – Chose Ubuntu for the droplet image – 14.04 x86

Connect and setup your server – 3 doc set from Digital Ocean

  1. Connect via SSH
  2. Initial Server Setup with Ubuntu 14.04
  3. Additional Recommended Steps for New Ubuntu 14.04 Servers

Install LAMP – Linux, Apache web server, MySQL Database, PHP server side scripting language

  1. How To Install Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP (LAMP) stack on Ubuntu 14.04

Install phpMyAdmin to create and manage Databases (optional – GUI Database Manager)

  1. How To Install and Secure phpMyAdmin on Ubuntu 14.04
  2. Security – in addition to htaccess steps I change the default access point:
    1. Edit line three and change the alias in phpmyadmin.conf
    2. sudo nano /etc/apache2/conf-enabled/phpmyadmin.conf
      # Alias /phpmyadmin /usr/share/phpMyAdmin
      Alias /whateveryouwant /usr/share/phpMyAdmin
    3. Restart Apache – sudo service apache2 restart
    4. Access phpMyAdmin -http://yoursite.com/whateveryouwant

Create SSL Certificate for secure https transactions

  1. How To Create a SSL Certificate on Apache for Ubuntu 12.04
    1. This is a self signed certificate which is only good for development or protecting and admin area.
  2. How To Install an SSL Certificate from a Commercial Certificate Authority

Install Software of your choosing

  1. Install WordPress
  2. Install phpMyAdmin
  3. Install Koken


iPhone – Disable eMail Sound and Vibration Notifications

iPhone Email Notifications - New Mail

Are you suffering from notification overload? It can be a bit confusing as to where to change or disable notifications on iOS devices. “Notifications” would be the logical place to manage notifications and it does work, sometimes. Sounds is where we’ll be looking today, where you then disable… notification sounds.

Mail fail – Disabling Mail Notifications in Settings does not disable vibration notices

  • Settings > Notifications > Mail > Allow Notifications

Solution – Disable Sound and Vibration settings for Mail and other apps go to:

  1. Settings > Sound
  2. Under Sounds and Vibration Patterns choose > New Mail
  3. Under Alert Tones Choose > None
  4. Tap Vibration and Choose > None (way down at the bottom)

Customization – VIP

  1. Settings > Notifications > Mail
  2. Allow Notifications > On
  3. VIP settings > Notification Sound
  4. Choose Alert Tone and Vibration pattern
  5. Enable Screen notices of your choice
iPhone Email Notifications - New Mail

Sound Settings – New Mail

iPhone Email Notifications - Vibration

Vibration – None

iPhone Email Notifications - Alert tones

Alert Tones – None

iPhone Email Notifications - VIP

Notifications – VIP

Cortana – Disable Weather Alerts


Cortana is awesome until you know, there’s weather. And then you’re getting weather alerts from Cortana and your weather app (Blue Skies for me). Here’s how to disable the alerts.

Disable Weather Alerts in Cortana – Windows Phone 8.1

  1. Open Cortana
  2. Tap the three bars at the top right (the “hamburger” menu)
  3. Interests
  4. Weather near me
  5. Uncheck “Notify me when there are weather incidents”
  6. Save
Cortana weather alerts - options

Options (the Hamburger)

Cortana weather alerts - interests


Cortana weather alerts - near me

Weather near me

Cortana weather alerts - notify

Uncheck Notify me  + tap Save

Disk Clone – Windows Activation Error 0xC004C008

Windows Activation - Confirmation ID

I recently cloned Windows 8 with apps and data from a 500gb 5400RPM Hybrid disk to a 500gb SSD using “Paragon Migrate OS to SSD 4.0“. The process went smoothly – install Paragon’s software and connect the new SSD with a USB to SATA cable. Launch the software, pick the target disk and the cloning processes begins. Mine cloned 120gb of data in 30 minutes. The final step is to swap the drives, confirm the new SSD is the boot disk in BIOS and… you’re off to the races.

Except one issue. Microsoft did not approve of using the Asus provided Windows install on a second hard drive.  My freshly cloned smokin fast SSD was displaying Activation error code 0xC004C008 – “One copy of Windows might have been installed on multiple PCs“.  Windows Activation wanted a serial number and I didn’t have one – Asus has mine, and it’s only embedded in the Recover Partition of my old drive. What to do?!   It couldn’t have been easier – phone activation!

Phone Activation – this process took me less than 5 minutes, pretty cool technology.

  1. Press Windows key + R, then type: slui.exe 4
  2. Next press the ‘ENTER’ key
  3. Select your ‘Country’ from the list
  4. Choose the ‘Phone Activation’ option
  5. Stay on the phone (do not select/press any options) and wait for a person to help you with activation
  6. A virtual assistant answers after one ring and asks if you have the Activation Confirmation screen open
  7. Be ready – you will be asked to read 8 sets of 4 numbers. Voice recognition is very fast, each set confirmed with a ding.
  8. Once confirmed the robot will read you 8 sets of 4 numbers
Windows Activation - Confirmation ID

Windows Activation – Confirmation ID

Windows Phone – AutoPlay

Windows Phone

When you first connect a Windows Phone an Explorer window will open to the phones folders and files. You’ll also be prompted to install Phone App for Desktop.

After installing Phone App for Desktop management of options moves from AutoPlay to the Phone App and you’ll likely default to copying images to a folder named after your phone.

If you’d like to change these settings

  1. Connect Phone
  2. Phone App launches > click Settings
  3. Select your options > click OK


  1. To launch AutoPlay: click  Start > Control Panel > AutoPlay
    1. Windows Phone Options are limited & managed by Phone App
    2. Option to Open Device Stage (Phone App)
    3. Option to “Take No Action”

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OneDrive – Stop Auto Importing Photos

After an update on 12/22/2014 OneDrive started magically importing photos and videos from my iPhone (my Windows Phone is managed by Phone App for Desktop). Microsoft refers to the process as “Auto Save”. This is the second OneDrive update in a row where the change has silently occurred (or I missed it twice!).

Issue:OneDrive “Auto Saves” any new pictures or videos to a folder on your computer named after the phone or device you’ve connected. This change appears to happen after any of the recent 2014 OneDrive updates and happens without asking the end user for their preference. Specs in my case – Windows 7 with OneDrive version 17.3.1229.0918 and an iPhone 6 running iOS 8.1.2.

Solution: Change your AutoPlay settings.

  1. Right click the OneDrive icon in the Notification Area of your Taskbar
  2. Choose “Settings”
  3. Click the “Auto save” tab
  4. Click “go to AutoPlay Settings”
  5. Locate your phone under “Devices”
  6. Change the setting to your preference: Open Device to view files, ask what to do, import using Windows etc.

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Adrian Belew – Guitar Virtuoso

Adrian Belew was playing in bar & cover bands going seemingly nowhere and hitting thirty. Then Frank Zappa’s limo driver was asked for a live music destination in Nashville. They were covering the stones when Frank tuned in, stayed and made Adrian an offer.  Playing for Zappa opened doors and provided music industry schooling. From there Adrian played with Bowie and Eno. Then met David Byrne while touring with Bowie and ended up with the Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club. Then on to King Krimson, The Bears and recently with the Power Trio and Nine Inch Nails. The guitar virtuoso from Covington, KY coming to you all thanks to a limo driver…

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Remote Desktop – Black Screen

Remote Desktop Black Screen

The Issue – Using Remote Desktop the remote screen turns black right after login. The issue appears to be caused by Screen Caching and accessing a system with different display resolution or RDP window sizes.

The Solution(s)

  1. While logged in at the black screen
    1. press CTRL + ALT + END  (or CTRL + ALT + FN + END). This will bring up Task Manager in most cases and you’ll immediately see the desktop.
    2. If only Task Manager appears try running Explorer: File > New Task > Explorer.exe
  2. Try connecting at a different resolution.
  3. Access the remote computers Computer Management or Services MMC and cycle the Remote Desktop Services service.


  1. Disable bitmap caching for your RDP connections
  2. Access the remote computer using consistent resolution – Full screen may help
  3. Confirm video drivers are up to date
  4. Confirm RDP account has full administrative rights on remote system


  1. 2012 Hotfix for “Black screen during a Remote Assistance session in Windows Vista, in Windows Server 2008, in Windows 7, or in Windows Server 2008 R2″
    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2614066/en-us  – Hotfix
  2. Disable Bitmap Caching
Remote Desktop Black Screen - Disable Bitmap Caching

Remote Desktop Black Screen – Disable Bitmap Caching

How to take a Screenshot – Lenovo X1 Carbon Adaptive Keyboard

Lenovo X1 Carbon On-Screen Keyboard

Adaptive keyboard sounds cool right?  It does make for a very clean, uncluttered and easy to use keyboard. But it also makes accessing functions harder, more time consuming and without knowing the special hidden keys (see Lenovo video below) you’d be forgiven for thinking some functions were completely dropped.

Print Screen is a common function that appears to be missing. Print Screen for entire display captures (depending on your keyboard: Prnt Scrn, Prt Scn, Prt Scr)  or ALT + Print Screen for capturing just the active window or a dialog box (on many laptops a mini keyboards –  FN + ALT + Print Screen). These are fast, light and effective tools that we all know and love. But where are these screen capture key commands on the Lenovo adaptive keyboard!? They’re there, just hidden! Lets find them and check out some other commands and screen capture options – Welcome to Planet Lenovo!

Using the adaptive Keyboard

  • Press and hold the FN key, tap the T key for a full screen capture
  • Press and hold the FN key, the Alt key and tap T for an active window capture
  • See the Lenovo video below for all six hidden key commands
    • FN + B = break
    • FN + I = Insert
    • FN + K = ScrLk
    • FN + P = Pause
    • FN + S = SysRq
    • FN + T = PrtScrn

Using the Snipping Tool

  • Launch via FN + Scissors key, or via the Programs > Accessories menu , or search for it
  • Choose from the options: Free-form, Rectangular, Window or Full Screen

Using the On-Screen Keyboard

  • Search Programs for Keyboard & launch the On-Screen Keyboard
  • Click (or press on touch screen) the Alt + PrtScn keys

Hidden Keys! This video reveals the magic keys which work with FN on planet Lenovo.

Create Database Model From Existing Database – MySQL


In case I’m not the only one who had trouble figuring out how to create a Database Model from an existing Database using MySQL WorkBench.

Database – MySQL
Database Tool – MySQL WorkBench v 6.1
Documentation – Database Modeling using MySQL Workbench

Steps to create a Model of an existing MySQL Database

  1. Launch MySQL Workbench
  2. From the Home window click the > icon to the right of Models at the bottom of the Window
  3. Choose “Create EER Model from Database”
  4. The Reverse Engineer Database Wizard starts
    1. Connect to your DBMS (Local instance / TCP/IP in my case)
    2. Select Schema (the database you wish to model)
    3. Import the Table Objects
    4. Option “Place Objects on the Diagram” will auto generate the ERR diagram. If this doesn’t work for you run the wizard again and deselect then manually create the ERR Diagram via drag and drop of your tables.
  5. Save your model
  6. You can now add relationships and or modify tables
  7. That’s it !
Create Model From Existing Database

MySQL – Create Model From Existing Database


New Orleans – Frenchmen Street – Bourbon Street

Windows Phone

Pics from two quick two night trips to New Orleans. I’d never visited, now twice in month for the NCTM and IRA conferences at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center. One over a weekend that had me missing my daughters return from School and Mothers day.

Bourbon Street was an experience as you’d expect. The mood, music, open containers, happy people and cobbled streets with beautiful old architecture reminded me of Dublin. The people delivered and I saw some excellent street music, great art and fun performers. The music in bars & clubs was very polished and packed with tourists enjoying a good time out… but I like to hear more than Lynyrd Skynrd, The Doobie Brothers and Aerosmith when in a land of great original music. When I travel I like my food, beverages and music local. If you’re with me then make the trek east down Bourbon Street (or Royal or Dauphine), through the French Quarter and onto Frenchman street for some local color and great music. It’s a great walk and you will be entertained, see some history and end with many options for good music and good times.

I also snuck in a quick 14 mile bike ride when I had two hours free – Buzz Nola – New Orleans bike rental gave me a great cruiser for the ride and the New Orleans City Park was an excellent destination.

New Orleans picture gallery

Windows Phone – Stop Facebook Birthday Reminders

Windows Phone

Social Media integration on Windows Phone is excellent but can have some downsides. One issue I’ve experienced and heard others note is due to Facebook integration.

During installation of the Facebook app you’re asked to connect FB with your phone. This integrates Facebook with your People hub, calendar, photos, allows for FaceBook photos on the lock screen etc. This is an excellent Windows Phone feature but… the down side can be a lot, A LOT of Birthday reminders cluttering up your calendar and popping up reminders left and right.

Here are two ways to disable Facebook birthday reminders.

Disable Facebook Birthday Reminders

  1. Open your Windows Phone Calendar
  2. Open the Calendar options (three dots at lower right)
  3. Settings
  4. Uncheck Birthdays under Facebook

Disable all Birthday Reminders

  1. Open a web browser
  2. Log into the Microsoft Account used to setup your Phone
  3. Go to your Calendar
  4. Click the Gear icon at top right
  5. Uncheck Birthday Calendar

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Ghost Drop Down Menus – stuck on screen

Microsoft Windows

Ghost drop down menu’s that stay on your screen until you reset your resolution, logout or reboot. At first you think – no problem, I’ll just ignore that. Then like a dripping tap on a quiet evening you find you’ve suddenly lost all focus to this little sliver on your screen and you cannot move forward until it is elminated! I’ve experienced this issue on and off over multiple versions of Windows on laptops & desktops with onboard integrated or massive discrete gaming  graphics cards with many different type of monitors, resolutions and setups.

My current setup that drove me to make this post: Lenovo T440p laptop running a  3.7ghz i7 4800MQ 6mb cache processor with 8gb ram, 256gb SSD and Intel 4600 HD Graphics card running on Windows 7 Enterprise pushing dual Lenovo 21.5″ 1920×1080 displays  via DVD-D cables.  That’s after having just come off of a Dell Latitude E6410 With a gigabyte NVidia graphics card driving a single monitor that also experienced the issue. This should get better with new OS’es, displays cards, drivers ram, memory and throughput pipes right? RIGHT!?

So how to fix this little monster of an annoyance?  Two methods presented here. The first removes the current ghost menu item, text or window but does not resolve the issue. The second resolves the issue, unfortunately by disabling rich UI features.

Solution #1 – Temporary fix to remove current Ghost menu, text or window items.

  1. Open a command prompt
    1. Click Start > type CMD > right click on CMD > choose Run As Administrator
  2. type: net stop uxsms
  3. type: net start uxsms

You can create a batch file to automate the above process

  1. Open Notepad (or download and install Notepad++)
  2. Enter these two lines
    net stop uxsms
    net start uxsms
  3. Save as FixGhosting.bat  (make sure the extension is BAT)
  4. Run any time you have a Ghost object by right clicking the file and choosing “Run As Administrator”

Soution #2 – permanently prevent Ghost menu’s, text or windows items.

  1. Click Start and type: Adjust the appearance
  2. Open “Adjust the Appearance and Performance of Windows”
    1. Alternate direct route:  Go to Control Panel > System > Advanced Settings >System Properties > Performance
  3. Turn off “Fade or slide” for both menus and ToolTips
  4. Turn off the “Fade out menu items after clicking”
Ghost Menus - Performance options fade

Ghost Menus – Performance Options – fade settings

Screen Menu Ghosting

Example Screen Menu Ghosting

Windows 8.1 Update 1

Windows 8.1 - Update 1

The mighty keyboard and mouse have roared and Microsoft has listened. Windows 8.1 Update 1 is out and has some (some!) nice changes for content creators and other non touch screen users. Most notable is that instead of forking the OS into mobile/touch & desktop/mouse + keyboard versions they’re detecting the hardware and adapting the experience appropriately. This is what should have happened from day one but I’ll assume ship dates and probably some star crossed  marketing folks who hallucinated a pot of gold at the end of the Metro Rainbow prevented logical decisions and implementations. Windows 8.1 was a glimmer of hope, Update 1 is a start, lets hope it continues.

This update requires windows 8.1 and the the install takes about 30 minutes. Available April 8th 2014 via Windows Update or download now: KB2919355

The update contains cumulative patches and other changes, but we’re here for these:

  • Default boot to desktop for non touch devices. 8.1 introduced boot to desktop as an option, update 1 detects your hardware and default boots to the desktop for non touch. Worked perfectly on my 4 year old Lenovo test laptop.
  • Desktop actions wont open Modern apps – YES!!! Now when you open an image you won’t be whisked off to a faraway land with no idea how to get back nor ability to navigate to the next image.
  • Other changes for desktop users – faster startup, improved battery life for laptops, better security (including Trusted Boot for UEFI systems), the File History automated backup and versioning utility, clearer task manager and file move dialogs, and the ability to mount disk image files as virtual drives.

What’s lacking and still needed? Here’s some reasons why Windows 7 is still gaining OS market share 18 months after the release of Windows 8.

  • Start Menu. Rumors are this is coming as a blend of Windows 7 and Windows 8 features and functionality. For now I still use Classic Shell and it rocks.
  • A rich UI for the desktop. I have a 24″ LED display and a gigabyte graphics card but I’m staring at horrid Windows 3.1 style dialog boxes, windows and applications. No rounded corners, no transparency, giant kludgy widgets, options and menus.
Windows 8.1 - Update 1

Windows 8.1 – Update 1

CS-Cart – Page Speed and Optimization


Some simple steps to reduce CS-Cart page load times.

Prep Steps

  1. Optimization references
    1. Best Practices for Speeding Up Your Web Site – Yahoo
    2. Optimize caching – Google
    3. Increasing Application Performance with HTTP Cache Headers – heroku
    4. Speed Up Sites with htaccess Caching – Ask Apache
  2. Image optimization tools
    1. PNGGauntlet (Win) or  ImageOptim (Mac)
  3. Test your website with a speed analyzer
    1. http://gtmetrix.com – Online speed analyzer
    2. YSlow – Website performance browser extension


  1. Backup your .htaccess file (located in the root of your CS-Cart install)
  2. Edit your .htaccess file
  3. Below the default CS-Cart code in your .htaccess file add rules for
    1. ETag – disable so we can control with Expires
    2. Expires – Set so browser caches
    3. Compression – compress to optimize

Example code that I’ve used to move my site from an 81 “B” YSlowscore to a 92 “A” score.

## -- Optimization -- ##
# Turn on Expires and set default to 0
ExpiresActive On
ExpiresDefault A0

# Disable ETag - force browsers to rely on your expires settings for caching 
Header unset ETag
FileETag None

# Set up caching on commonly updated files for 1 Month (far future)
<FilesMatch "\.(ico|pdf|flv|jpg|jpeg|png|gif|js|css|swf)$">
ExpiresDefault A2419200

# Set up caching on media files for 1 year
<FilesMatch "\.(flv|ico|pdf|avi|mov|ppt|doc|mp3|wmv|wav)$">
ExpiresDefault A29030400
Header append Cache-Control "public"

#Gzip - compress it!
<ifmodule mod_deflate.c>
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/text text/html text/plain text/xml text/css application/x-javascript application/javascript

Before and After YSlow test results

SPF records for Office 356

Exchange Hosted Email DNS Settings

Some excellent resources if you’re hosting your own domain with Office 365. When doing so you’ll need to create a TXT SPF record for email. The SPF Generator Framework Wizard below was very helpful generating an SPF record that accounted for my webhost generated email (web forms) and email on 365 servers – 
v=spf1 ip4:xx.xx.xx.xx include:spf.protection.outlook.com -all

Office 365 DNS – Details of External DNS records for Office 365 including SPF

Sender ID Framework SPF Record Wizard – Generate simple or complex records

Validate SPF – with these excellent SPF Record Testing Tools

IP Address – How to Designate an IP Address as Permitted Sender

Example DNS settings – SPF TXT record with IPV4 for my webhost and Outlook.com for user email: v=spf1 ip4:xx.xx.xx.xx include:spf.protection.outlook.com -all

Exchange Hosted Email DNS Settings

Exchange Hosted Email DNS Settings