HP all in one fails sound driver & webcam driver installation on Windows 8.1

Nothing taunts a systems administrator like a yellow exclamation triangle in device manager.

After an HP all in one computer had been worked on to remedy another issue, the only problem that remained was no sound & no webcam. And that stupid little yellow symbol. This appeared after Windows Updates had automatically updated the operating system from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1.

I tried all the usual suspects – disable the driver, uninstall the driver, try to update the driver (already the latest version), install the Realtek High Definition Audio driver directly from the Realtek website, disable the anti virus software etc etc.

Every time, after each reboot, device manager taunted me with that little yellow symbol.

Then, on a whim, I did two things:

1. Bumped the User Account Control setting right down to the bottom.

2. From a command prompt running as administrator, executed an sfc /scannow

Uninstalled sound & webcam drivers, rebooted …. no more triangle. Tested Windows sounds to heard those glorious little noises!

sfc (system file checker) is a magical utility that fixes some system file issues. It’s as magical as chkdsk /r

And because I don’t like dumbing down security protection, I reset the UAC level back to what it was by default, rebooted and re-tested successfully.

Who would have thought that sfc would fix a sound driver problem?



Reckon Accounts Pro 2013 error Error 1920. Service QuickBooks Database manager Service (QBCFMonitorService) failed to start

Today I upgraded my laptop to Windows 8.1 Pro. By ‘upgrade’ I actually mean backed up, formatted & installed Windows cleanly. It went surprisingly well and was pretty fast. The only Microsoft glitch I had were some updated that failed to install until after I rebooted, then away they went (though they gave me no indication that a restart was needed).

I’d been running QuickBooks Pro 2012/2013, so it was time to install the new version – Reckon Accounts Pro 2013. And this is where I went around in circles.
The product is supported on Windows 8, but the installation failed with “Error 1920. Service QuickBooks Database manager Service (QBCFMonitorService) failed to start.” The installation would then roll back.
This kb was hopeless:http://www.quicken.com.au/kb/issue_view.asp?ID=4906
And another kb was hopeless that told me to delete a bunch of folders (that hadn’t been created) and try it again. It mentioned that my installation was having trouble connecting to the company database file, which made no sense seeing as I’d pick the stand-alone client option (as our company file is on our file server, no my laptop).

My laptop had no anti-virus software on it (yet) and no previous versions of QuickBooks.

Unfortunately the error is a bit generic and had to search for, because 1920 is the standard windows error code for any service failing to start.
But the solution actually wasn’t that complicated after all. Compatibility mode!

Here’s what worked:
Browse to the contents of the DVD and find the autorun.exe file. If your ‘file extensions are hidden’, you’ll see a few autorun files listed, but only one of them will say Application in the type column:
Right click that file & choose Properties. Then put the tick on to run in Compatibility mode as Windows 7:

Click OK and run the autorun file. My installation then completed successfully, without any errors.

So far I haven’t needed to run the program in compatibility mode, just the installation.

And there you have it. After my lost productivity/time to figure this one out, I hope it saves somebody else! It’s just a shame that solutions like this aren’t easy to find, especially in the software maker’s own knowledge base.


The establishment of Australia (aka a Storm about a T-Shirt)

Disclaimer: I am a New Zealand citizen who has adopted Queensland as my new home, started a family here and a business. This does not make me an expert on Australian history. (Actually it’s really expensive & almost impossible for me to get citizenship here).

Ever written a controversial blog post that makes you want to disable the comments and your social media accounts, in preparation for the backlash that may come? This is the one for me. Deep breath, here goes.

Social debate is raging over Aldi stocking a t-shirt stating ‘Australia Est. 1788’. After some negative feedback, they pulled it. Some other retailers are stocking Australia Day merchandise with the same slogan (but a different design).

What saddens me is that the debate really isn’t a debate, it’s name-calling & trolling. Like kids in the sandpit, the ‘conversation’ around this issue is infantile and doesn’t seek to explain or understand. It’s not helped by the limitation of the length of social media posts.

From what I can see (and this is why it’s called an opinion piece), here are the two sides:

A) The use of the word ‘established’ is unfair because Australia existed as a land with worthy people on it before the Europeans landed on it. To say the Europeans established it somehow implies it was ‘less than’ a country before, that’s it’s history prior to 1788 is irrelevant.

B) Australia was established by the Europeans. It didn’t exist in it’s current form with states & government and stuff before that. It wasn’t even known in the rest of the world as a country, and it wasn’t called Australia previously either. So what’s wrong with Est 1788?

Are we arguing over the good old English language? Are we looking at established:to cause (someone or something) to be widely known and accepted versus established:to bring into existence?

The land existed. It’s people existed. In 1788, it changed. One side seeks to make sure that’s well known & accepted. One side isn’t debating that but is celebrating the Europeans settling a new home.

I’m not going to draw a ‘right vs wrong’ line here about the different side of this issue (which may even be overly simplified here). I’m just really really sad that we couldn’t have a civil conversation about it. “What do you mean? Where are you coming from? What are you saying? What do you think?” Seek first to understand. And maybe it’s because I’m slightly removed from the topic that I’m looking beyond the comments and the emotion to get to the actual meanings.

No doubt this will rear again in a couple of weeks on Australia Day, our Public Holiday which falls annually on that same 1788 day/month. There’s certainly been debate to move that to Federation Day (but it gets in the way of New Years Day).

New Zealand has it’s own controversial European settlement, brought into the media spotlight annually on Waitangi Day. Don’t think I’ve ever seen (or ever would see) a New Zealand Est. 1840 t-shirt over there though, perhaps because the signing of NZ’s ‘founding document’ is so well known as being culturally sensitive.

Breathe out. So, there it is. Regardless of your perspective on the date, air your views/opinions/thoughts & feelings without putting the other side down. You’re better than that. 






Quickbooks crashes on reconcile reports or saving as PDF

Do you know the saying about builder’s houses? It refers to tradies that are so busy repairing other people’s places that their own home has a few things that need attention, but they never make the time to fix. IT people have the same issue with their own computers. I’d been putting up with a problem in Quickbooks Pro 2012-2013 for some time and finally decided to research it.

When my bookkeeper reconciled the accounts & wanted to print the reports, Quickbooks would hang. Same symptom if I tried to save an invoice as a PDF (using the inbuilt QB feature, not a third party PDF printer). My computer is running Windows 7 64-bit.

Your errors may include:

  • Could not print to printer. Check your printer selection. Printing may have been cancelled from another program’
  • QuickBooks PDF Converter Activation Error -20: You cannot print directly to the QuickBooks PDF Converter. Try using QuickBooks Save as PDF menu option or Activation error. Printer not activated. Error code -20.
  • The device is not ready.
  • QuickBooks could not save your form as a PDF file.
  • Unable to save as PDF.
  • Other .PDF file-related errors may occur when you email transactions.
  • QuickBooks stops responding when you try to reconcile accounts.

I knew if I went into the queue for the Quickbooks V303 PDF Converter, I’d see the document sitting in an Error state. If I deleted it from the queue, Quickbooks would become responsive again and carry on.

The fix is actually pretty straightforward. It involves creating a new local port for the printer, rebooting, and setting the Run As Administrator & Compatability options for the program. If that sounds like German, here are the detailed instructions from Reckon: http://www.quicken.com.au/kb/issue_view.asp?ID=3577

Just completeing Stage 1 did the trick for me. Finally. I should have fixed it months ago!




Beware LinkedIn scammers wanting your company’s services

Just a quick heads up on this one. I was sent a LinkedIn connect request by someone from a state-level sporting organisation who had a title of Finance Manager. We had a Group in common, so I accepted.

This was quickly followed by a message from him, stating that he was interested in our IT services. I was a bit surprised as he was in a different state, but the main alarm bell ringer was the slightly poor English phrasing. He made a point of telling me that NSW is in Australia. Would you seriously do that to someone you connect to who is in Queensland?

So I visited the official website for the organisation, found a contact email address and asked them if the guy really worked for them. Surprise surprise – they’d never heard of him. And you would think they’d know who their finance manager was.

Delete. Un-connect. Good-bye, mate.

Moral of the story – when those spidey senses are alerted, do some research before proceeding!



Fixing Code 19 error in device manager for CD/DVD drive – configuration information (in the registry) is incomplete or damaged

Windows XP laptop with a DVD writer not working – can’t see or play CDs or DVDs, not even appearing as a drive letter.

Device manager shows the drive with an exclamation mark and the error:
“Windows cannot start this hardware device because its configuration information (in the registry) is incomplete or damaged. To fix this problem you should uninstall and then reinstall the hardware device. (Code 19)”

The troubleshooter suggest uninstalling & reinstalling the device, which gives exactly the same error. Updating drivers & windows etc didn’t help. It was hard to find any information on this message that actually related to the registry.

Until I found an article with a link to this Microsoft support article: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/929461
The article had the fix – remove the UpperFilters registry entry and hey presto, we’re back in business.

It’s a pity that this support article doesn’t actually include one of the common symptoms (being the above error message) which makes it very hard to find when searching for the error message. Posting this here to help link the two, in case anyone else is pulling their hair out or thinks they have faulty hardware.


P.S. Most common cause? Unclean uninstall of DVD writing software.

Get Ready QLD! Preparing for storm season – unofficial tips & tricks.

storm damaged palm treeWe’re heading into that time of year again in Queensland, where the conditions become perfect for severe weather events. Being sub-tropical, the heat of spring brings moist air currents, electrical storms, cyclones & flooding. While 2013-2014 is not expected to bring the heavy deluges of rain seen previously (eg Nov 2011), we’re still bracing for impressive electrical storms & their damaging winds plus the possibility of cyclones in the north of the state. I won’t go into the weather patterns that produce these, other than to say we are in a ‘neutral’ phase (neither La Nina or El Nino).

The Queensland Government is running a great preparedness program (Get Ready Queensland http://getready.qld.gov.au/) and many of my State Emergency Services (SES) colleagues are at a major hardware chain volunteering on community education displays. Australia is very blessed to have such a strong volunteer response force in the SES, who are well trained and well equipped. But it’s still a very low ‘SES to households’ ratio and people need to make sure they are as prepared and as resilient as possible. When a storm strikes, you are the first person at the scene to do something to protect your home and your family. If you are physically fit & able, this also frees up the SES volunteers to be able to assist the elderly, disabled, young families etc first.

I’d love to see 2013 be the year where Queenslanders equip themselves to help themselves, their neighbours, their streets and their communities, instead of getting media fatigue and ignoring the pleas to make an emergency kit. So, take it off your to-do list and put it on your done list instead.

OK, time to get off my soap box. This note is actually to show you a few of the steps that I take during storm season, which you might not find in the emergency kit literature.

1. Don’t let your car get low on fuel. – Yes, I know how easy it is to run around like mad and only stop for fuel when that red light comes on. During storm season, the first thing to go is usually the electricity supply and petrol (gas) stations can’t operate without power. You could have to drive a considerable distance to find a working petrol station, which isn’t something you want to do on a low tank. So, during storm season, make an effort to keep ‘half a tank’ your new minimum.

2. That emergency kit thing? Do it. – I’ll confess that you wont’ find a large plastic container in my home labelled ’emergency kit’. But you will find that we can be fairly self-sufficient on no power for a few days, with no notice and for even longer with a storm forecast. Some of this comes from that fact that we like camping, so much of our camping equipment and provisions are also great after a storm.
– Coming into storm season, we check & replace our container of fresh water (a plastic 20L container) and we also have the capability of filling up the water storage on our camper trailer. Living in a suburb of a major city, it’s hard to imagine not having access to drinking water, but the heavy rain from ex-Tropical Cyclone Oswald in Feb 2013 was a good example of this. The rainfall had increased the silt levels in the water systems, putting extra stress on the treatment plant and decreasing the output supply rate. Some southern suburbs were warned that water rationing would be needed and the supermarkets all ran out of bottled water.
– Check the gas supplies. If you don’t want to live on cold food for days, you’ll appreciate a coffee or tea & a hot meal. We stock up on butane cartridges for the small gas stove and refill the larger gas bottles for the large stove & BBQ. Speaking of coffee, we also grind a tin of coffee beans. If we don’t have power, we can at least make a plunger coffee – no instant here!
– Check the pantry. And in our case, check the camping food box. You want to make sure you have a nice selection of non-perishable food to get you through say one week, if necessary. Trust me, the supermarkets will be mad. My kids would live on tinned spaghetti but we also have soup, tinned stews, 2 minute noodles (yes you can make them without a microwave), UHT milk (shelf stable until opened) etc etc. Cereal & even porridge for breakfast. Crackers and snacks. Make sure you have a spare of any other personal needs too (eg medication, baby formula, nappies). You don’t need to go crazy & prepare your bunker for the next world war, but you don’t want to be down to the last nappy either. Again, the aim here is to avoid the supermarket. If you do go to stock up on some last minute essenitals, remember a few things … a)don’t stock up on meat & things that need refrigerating. It will all spoil if you lose power for a few days and b) the supermarket will run out of bread. You can buy flour & yeast and make something resembling damper if you trully cannot go bread-free for a few days.
– Check batteries. Make sure you have the right sizes for your torch, torches for the kids and for your radio. Our emergency radio is the little unit that hangs in our shower and it only needs AA batteries. And while we mention lighting, be very very careful with candles and throw glow sticks into your kit if you have kids. Turns a blackout into an instant party, plus they don’t feel as scared falling asleep with a glow stick next to their bed.

3.Know your risks and prepare for them. – Our home is on high ground a considerable distance from a major (or even minor) river. We’re not at risk of river flooding, and surface flooding runs down to the property below us. There are also no large established trees around us. But there are large trees on the exit points from our suburb & high voltage power lines. Know your risks & prepare for them. After a storm, there’s one section of road I wouldn’t travel. If your property is prone to flooding, know where to get sandbags before a storm and how to lay them to create a barrier before the storm hits. Trim any overhanging branches if you can and have your own tarp, plastic and ropes. If you have skylights, nothing beats some plastic sheeting & tape after hail damage, if you are comfortable getting up on your own roof (safely AND after the storm).

4. Clean your gutters. – During heavy rain, this one thing would save so many households. Your gutters can only handle so much rainfall & heavy rain will cause them to overflow. If they are blocked with leaves, the water will back up and be forced underneath your roofing iron or tiles and get into your roof space. Then it’s in you ceiling and out your light fittings. If you rent, get onto your real estate or property manager about doing this. After all, it’s protecting the home owner’s investment.

5. Store copies of your important information offsite. – In plain english, burn a copy of photos & scanned (or photographed) important documents to a DVD or to an external USB hard disk and leave it a the house of a friend or family member or at work. Even better, use one of the many free Internet services (‘Cloud’ storage) like Dropbox or an internet backup service. Then you’ll have some protection if your computer is zapped or flooded or if you simply can’t get power to your house for a few days.

6. Store important phone numbers in your phone. – Power company, gas company, SES. Much easier than looking for a fridge magnet if there is a tree through your kitchen.

7. See storm warnings? Charge your phone. – Phones are even more critical for communication now they have access to the latest news & information on the Internet (especially when your home Internet is down or your computer has no power) and they also make a handy torch. Summer storms usually happen after the heat of the day has had time to build up, and sometimes into the evening after nightfall. This is the time that our phone charge has taken a hammering from a day of use already. If you see storm warnings, your phone is the one thing I do want you to plug in. Get as much charge into it as you can before there is lightning in your area. There’s also a risk that power loss may extend for days after the event, so look at other alternative ways of charging your phone, like a car cigarette power adaptor or a small solar power system. Our solar power unit cost under $100 and powers 2 led lights plus has USB ports for charging cables.

8. Have an extra tidy-up when the storm warnings start. – Bring in the gardening tools and outdoor furniture. Tie down your trampoline or weigh down the legs with filled sandbags. Coil up & storm the garden hose & sprinkler.

9. Stay informed. – Keep your local radio station on for storm information. Sign up for local council alert services. Watch emergency services accounts on social media. My favourite website is the Weatherzone Forums http://forum.weatherzone.com.au/ubbthreads.php?ubb=cfrm for watching the weather enthusiasts talk about the conditions as they build and report observations as they happen. Keep your travel plans to a minimum and have somewhere earmarked where you can store your car to protect it from hail damage (even if some of your garage stuff needs to temporarily sit in your living room or hallway).

10. Unplug your electronics. – When there’s lightning in the area, we physically unplug as much as we can (computers, TV, stereo, microwave etc). Only exception is the fridge & freezer. Go into them as little as possible to keep the cold in. Electronics can be fried with a power surge or direct lightning strike to your house even if they are turned off. If you want to remove that risk, pull out the power cord.

After the event, watch out for fallen powerlines (always assume they are live) and check on your neighbours. Wear gloves & closed in shoes when handling any debris.

*whew* I think that gets a few things out of my head. Feel free to add your own storm safety tips in the comments. Stay safe and Get Ready QLD!