Windows XP POSReady Registry Hack

Probably useless for most, as who is still using Windows XP anyways? Unfortunately I have some work computers connected to instruments that can’t be upgraded and are stuck on Windows XP. To make matters worse, some of them need to be connected to the internet. Well, good news and this isn’t really “new information” but it was for me. Windows XP Embedded still receives security updates, and you can change the registry in Windows XP to make it so you get these updates too. It’s called the Windows Embedded POSReady 2009 registry hack. All you have to do is make a .reg extension in notepad with the following text.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

Apply this registry string and you’re good to go to update. Then again, if you’re using Windows XP optionally, upgrade to something that isn’t from 2001.

Windows Checking For Updates Stuck

Operating System Affected: Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012
Symptoms: Windows Update stuck “Checking For Updates” for long periods of time, related process (i.e. svchost.exe) runs constantly at 10-99% CPU even during idle
Cause: Windows/Microsoft Update Failure

I’ve expanded this post to include possible solutions for all windows editions affected. The symptom to look out for is if:
1) Windows Update is enabled and svchost.exe or an equivalent process is running continuously with high RAM and CPU utilization
2) Windows Update is manually started with “Checking for Updates” and it never stops. The checking for updates stage of the process should not take longer than a couple minutes and without fixing this I’ve let it run for days with no result.

The solutions are:
1) Completely disable the Windows Update service and live with no updates, not just setting it to “Never check for updates (not recommended)” as this doesn’t fully stop it
2) Upgrade to Windows 10 (not always an option)
3) Fix the problem outlined below for your respective operating system version

Install the following patches in right order (increasing KB package value) and according to the proper operating system, bit-architecture, and IE version (when applicable) [all important!].

Windows XP and Windows 2003

Windows Vista

Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2

Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2

With Office installed
Having Office 2007, Office 2010, or Office Compatibility Pack SP3 installed will also cause the same problem even if you installed any of the above patches. You’ll have to install the below patches as well if you’re still stuck on checking for updates phase.
KB4011605, KB4011607 – Office compatibility Pack SP3
KB4011657 – Word 2007
KB4011602 – Excel 2007
KB4011659 – Word 2010
KB4011660 – Excel 2010

Although power consumption may not scale linearly compared to CPU utilization, a constant increase in CPU utilization is bound to result in higher power consumption and heat generation anyways, neither of which are great. Think about it, you have an office of computers running at 100% CPU 24/7 cause they’re searching for those updates, and for the longest time I had no idea this was happening. The computer just felt a bit sluggish, as once you start using it the OS will intelligently reallocate resources to what you’re doing, and we had computer components dying prematurely from being constantly used by Windows Update. Planned obsolescence at its finest.

Note: For Windows Vista, you’re wondering if you have to install all of them and really in that order? Yes, I’ve tried installing just the last two, just the first couple, any combination and this is the only way that worked for me. This solution was compiled for many sources, too many to list, but mainly bleepingcomputer and mydigitallife. Also, just updated from Vista because it’s truly terrible.

The Great Peruvian Earthquake

Statue on higher ground in Yungay, Peru [1].

A couple weeks ago I found myself on Wikipedia reading about the largest earthquakes in history. One particularly stuck out given its magnitude in terms of number of deaths, how recently it occurred, and the little science-political twist that resulted in the large number of deaths from a particular event; the Ancash earthquake or “Great Peruvian Earthquake” that happened on May 31, 1970 off the coast of Peru where a total of approximately 74,000-80,000 people died.

So what happened? Well the earthquake was a 7.9 on the moment magnitude scale (Mw). To put things into perspective, the 2004 Indian Ocean and 2011 Tohoku earthquakes were magnitudes of 9.1 and 9.0 Mw, but as we all remember the bulk of the damage and deaths were the result of subsequent tsunamis as a result of subduction of continental plates that caused an upthrust in the ocean. The Ancash earthquake was similar, but the bulk of the damage was done not by a tsunami but a giant avalanche.

Aerial image of the avalanche (left) [2,3] and a photograph of the damage at Yungay (right) [4].

The most devastating and surprising part of this disaster was what happened to the towns of Yungay and Ranrahirca. The northern peak of the HuascarĂ¡n Mountain was destabilized from the earthquake, which resulted in a massive debris avalanche of soil, rocks, ice, and snow that buried the towns killing 20,000 people (88% of the towns’ populations). It has been estimated that the avalanche amounted to 50 million m3, with a spread of 910 m (3,000 ft) wide and 1.6 km (1 mi) long, traveling at speeds upwards of 320 km/h [5]. That’s like a wall nearly 1 km wide hitting your house at the speed of a bullet train.

Here’s the twist. A land slide from the same location occurred eight years prior on Jan 10, 1962 killing 4,000 people across nine towns and destroying parts of Ranrahirca. That same year, two American scientists David Bernays and Charles Sawyer went to investigate and warned that a vertical slab of rock undermined by a glacier could fall at any moment destroying the villages below [5] noting that the resulting avalanche from this could be much larger and that Yungay could be in imminent danger. This was reported in the Espreso local newspaper, however the government ordered them to retract the article or be charged. The two scientists were forced to flee the country and the local government forcibly prevented citizens to speak of the potential danger [6]. Unfortunately, their prediction came true.

Someone visited the town recently where the town area has been declared a national cemetery.

Capacitor Plague

example 1

If you have never heard of capacitor plague, you’re not alone. I had no idea it existed until a year ago when I found a computer at work that simply would not turn on. Usually this means a bad PSU, but this was not the case. Upon opening up the computer, I found half a dozen capacitors that had vented and leaked out. Reading a bit further, I found out that it was not an isolated case but quite widespread.

According to The Guardian, this issue stems from corporate espionage in Asia where a scientist who worked for Rubycon left to work for another capacitor company in China bringing the capacitor electrolyte solution with him. Later that year, the scientist’s staff defected to Taiwan stealing the solution but missed a crucial ingredient that gave the electrolytic solution longevity, resulting in leaking of hydrogen gas and bursting of the metal body of the capacitor. Rather than lasting years, these capacitors would last months. This issue affected major companies like Dell, HP, IBM, Apple, among others and did not only affect personal computers but power supplies, flat panel displays, audio equipment, etc. It also appears that the problem became widespread in 2002 and was still being reported in 2013, however has receded since 2010.


What does this mean to everyone else? Having electronics die prematurely and not turn on again due to a small replaceable component. The only way to find out if you have bad caps is to actually open up your electronics and take a look. From what I found, running continuously in hotter temperatures (bad ventilation or a hot room) quickens capacitor plague symptoms. Unlikely the story above, many caps I replaced were Rubycon and presumably legitimate.

If your electronics has capacitor plague, what do you do? Replace them! And don’t wait until your computer fails to do so. A failing capacitor will have decreased capacitance and fail to filter out higher ripple voltages that can damage components of your motherboard such as the CPU. Typically you can tell when a computer BSOD’s often for no reason, restarts by itself, crashes often, basically doesn’t work the way it is supposed to.

What do you need?
1) a soldering tool, a good one maybe at 60W that gets you a high enough temperature for desoldering
2) a desoldering pump and/or wick
3) the replacement capacitor

For all the necessary information for the replacement capacitor, Badcaps and The Cap King are fantastic resources. Some older capacitors such as Rubycon MCZs are not even made anymore so asking for good alternatives is a good idea. Make sure your replacement cap is the same in terms of capacitance, voltage rating, temperature, ripple current/ESR, and size. In some cases you can get better stats, such as higher ripple current or voltage rating. If you are in Canada, Digi-Key is a great place to buy from.

First identify the problematic caps. Then desolder and/or remove them from the board. Although there are likely more refined methods by those electronic connoisseurs out there, my brute force method seems the easiest; heat up the contact solder and pull the component right off the board. Then I stick the desoldering tip into the top of the contact hole and with the desoldering pump, on the back side of the board, pull the solder out. Anything I cannot remove that way I use the wick, but typically it is pretty clean and workable at this point. Lastly, put the new cap leads into the holds and resolder the capacitor back on. Unfortunately the image above shows the removal of a bad cap and I put a new cap that is slightly smaller in diameter. I was not very mindful of the diameter when I purchased all the caps together, but it still works.

With this method, I repaired all five computers and a router and it only cost me 10$ to do so. Just make sure you do it properly, as you end up in the same place or worse if you don’t sodder properly or overheat the capacitor.

Windows XP svchost.exe 100% CPU Usage


Operating System Affected: Windows XP
Symptoms: svchost.exe at 100% cpu utilization during idle
Cause: Windows/Microsft Update Failure

I came across this problem a month ago, but this is far from an isolated problem nor did it actually start a month ago. It was actually an issue back in 2007, however Microsoft fixed it and seemingly broke it again in October, 2013. It has something to do with Windows/Microsoft Update either trying to contact Microsoft servers or failing while searching your computer for new updates. If your svchost.exe is at 99-100%, the best way to confirm is to try using Windows Update through Internet Explorer. If it hangs or takes a long time at the “Checking for the latest updates for your computer…”, then you have the problem. Some users have even reported this issue while never having updated, freshly installed Windows XP, or having automatic updates off. This is a huge issue, especially for older computers as it can affect the stability of other programs being run, or for computers that may be running 24/7 can overheat it. One computer I was running continuously blew its chipset from overheating.

The solution is to install these two patches (select the proper operating system and IE version).
KB2888505 –
KB2898785 –

Install both and then restart your system, you should be able to then get past the checking phase of Windows Update in Internet Explorer as well as see that your scvhost.exe should no longer be at 99-100% CPU utilization.

Microsoft apparently is going to address the issue in the future, however this seems to work and they’re discontinuing support anyways for Windows XP so they probably don’t even care. Maybe this is their attempt to get users to move away from Windows XP by breaking it. Apparently the best solution to this problem is not be using Windows XP.

Audio Player Fixes

Well, seems like everyone is moving away from flash like the plague and transitioning into HTML5. For those of us who have been using flash audio players and are too stubborn to switch, here’s one alternative. It simply requires you to update your broken audio player plugin in WordPress.

Fixing the first problem where since WordPress 3.4, seemingly the insert function for the audio player was broken from the Add Media menu.
Find this line of code in your “audio-player/audio-player.php” file in the plugin editor.

$form_fields["url"]["html"] .= "<button type='button' class='button urlaudioplayer audio-player-" . $post->ID . "' value='[audio:" . attribute_escape($file) . "]' title='[audio:" . attribute_escape($file) . "]'>Audio Player</button>";

and change it to

$form_fields["url"]["html"] .= "<button type='button' class='button urlaudioplayer audio-player-" . $post->ID . "' data-link-url='[audio:" . attribute_escape($file) . "]' title='[audio:" . attribute_escape($file) . "]'>Audio Player</button>";

If you did it correctly, you should be able to insert your audio tags into your post! [source]

Now for the good part, turning your flash based audio player into HTML5 automatically.

Download this version of the audio-player.js, rename it to match your original audio player and replace it in the /plugins/audio-player/assets/ folder. Keep in mind if the original plugin creator decides to update the plugin, this will wipe out any work you did on switching the player. Hopefully the creator sees that everyone is switching from flash and he/she will follow suit, but this project has been untouched for a while. [source]

New Plants – Tillandsias and

Went to the National Home Show and Canada Blooms today at Exhibition Place, for us the plants section was more interesting as we’re in a new condo and didn’t really need anything for renovations. We bought some interesting plants, Tillandsias also known as brepiphytic bromeliads or air plants. They’re pretty cool, let’s see if we can keep it alive. We also got some succulents which we haven’t really seen before. All in all, great time exploring although we spent more money than we expected.

Assorted Tillandsias

?, ?, Lila Cina, Sempervivum (top-left clockwise)

Samsung LED TV Buzzing Noise

So my recently bought Samsung 46″ LED TV (UN46D6050) started buzzing on me today. It freaked me out a little because the buzzing wasn’t quiet or anything, and it continued buzzing even after I turned the thing off! It only stopped buzzing when I unplugged the TV completely. My first thoughts were can I still return the TV for a new one? It’s past the 90 days return policy, but the TV is still under warranty. I could call up Costco or Samsung and see if they can come service or replace the unit altogether. What a fuss!

So I explored other options and looked around. A commenter on this blog said that he had the same problem, but it had something to do with a light with a dimmer which caused some sort of electrical interference with something in the TV. Sounds crazy, but I had a light with a dimmer on it and as soon as I turned it off, the buzzing in the TV went away! Here’s the crazy thing, I could plug this light into any electrical plug in my place and the buzzing in the TV would come back. Not just on the same power bar or same circuit.

The best indicator for this type external electrical interference is despite turning your TV on or off (but not unplugging it), it should still buzz. Then you’re in luck! So if your TV is buzzing, maybe it’s a light with a dimmer connected somewhere in your house.

Skeeter Syndrome (Mosquito Bite Allergies)

Far from the biggest bite I’ve had, just the most recent from a couple days ago when I went out into the field for my work. No, that isn’t a third ankle!

I see a couple posts the beginning of every summer, typically from moms at mom-based sites which I don’t want to register at talking about Skeeter Syndrome or more simply mosquito bite allergies. Funny name, not so funny results. Well, since I was a kid I’ve had to deal with Skeeter Syndrome. I’ve had mosquito bites swell up to the size of soft balls, take up a whole section of my arm and even my whole hand so I can’t close my fingers. Sometimes they’re simply itchy, but can become painful and/or can even ooze and be infected. People laugh at how ridiculous mosquito bite allergies are, but they stop laughing when they see how serious the reaction is. Let’s get one thing straight, not all bites cause a reaction. You can get 10 bites and only 2 react.

The funny thing is the mosquitoes seem to be more attracted to people who have Skeeter Syndrome. There’s obviously no science to back this statement up, but whenever I’m with people who don’t have allergic reactions to mosquitoes, maybe 4 other people and I, each person may get 2-3 mosquito bites whereas I may get 10. It seems too much of a coincidence for that to happen every time.

The absolute worst thing possible for a bite is to scratch it. Everything will come back to this. Not scratching won’t help prevent a reaction, a reaction seems to be independent to any reasoning I’ve tried to come up with, but it will stop the bite from growing to an unmanageable size and become infected. Scratching includes rubbing it against something, running it under water or any other type of material, touching it at all. If you’re dealing with a child who can’t stop itching, I really wish I could help you in that department. Whatever you did for chickenpocks?

Is there a treatment?
When I was a kid, my mom would try to put different types of lotions (ozonal, polysporin, home remedies) and bandages onto the bite, none of which turned out good. My bites used to grow to enormous sizes because of this. Any type of treatment which deals directly with the bite only irritates it more and makes it grow bigger, this with the exception of after bite. After bite doesn’t really help the bite per se, but it will temporarily ease the itchiness which stops the scratching. It’s addictive though I’ll warn you right now. Obviously if the bite becomes an open sore, then you have no choice but to bandage it up, but if it has become an open sore, the bite has been scratched despite what your child has said. Bites don’t open up on their own.

Best solution I’ve found is don’t touch it at all. I’ve tried anti-histamines and ibuprofen, neither seem to have any real effect. Cortisone can somewhat deal with the swelling of the bites. After bite helps with the itchiness, so that you stop scratching it or wanting to. Some people have suggested Sulfameth/Trimethoprim which is an antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections. I’m not sure if it’s the best idea to treat not as serious bites with something like that because the bite is an immune reaction to polypeptides in the mosquito saliva, especially with smaller children.

How long does it take for the mosquito bites to go away?
The good news is 1-3 days after the bite it should stop swelling and a couple days after that it should bite should subside and there should only be a little red dot left. Despite the fact that it’s mosquito bite extreme, it’s still just a mosquito bite. If the bite lasts more than a week, you may want to go to a doctor, especially if it’s an open sore which seems to be getting infected or you’re dealing with a child that has the bite. In my experience, I’ve never gone to the doctor for mosquito bites.

Should I/my child avoid mosquitoes or areas which may have them?
No. Mosquitoes are everywhere and I think keeping your child inside constantly would be more detrimental than having some mosquito bites react. You can prevent mosquito bites by covering up, wearing long sleeved shirts and pants. The worst bites are those on joints, just because you move and that technically irritates the bite. This includes elbows, wrists, hands, ankles, and waist. You may find that bites in these areas grow the largest. So wear clothing over these areas to avoid being bitten there. Also use bug repellent.

Do you ever grow out of Skeeter Syndrome, does it eventually go away or become less prevalent?
I’m 23 now and I still get reactions from bites. I think because I’m larger than when I was 6, the bites seem smaller but for all I know they could be the same size but proportionally take up less space. I can’t say if it becomes less prevalent or not due to this in terms of age. Lately I’ve been finding myself in the forest a lot more, where there’s an abundance of mosquitoes and black flies. At first after avoiding being bitten for a long time, my bites reacted quite badly in the early season in June. My whole hand being taken by the bite twice. Towards the end of the season in August, my bites seemed to lessen to the point where it was just a normal mosquito bite. None of them would react. I can’t explain why, it could be because my body had so many bites that it stopped reacting or the bugs are just less potent at the end of the summer season. Seems going out in the end of the summer is smarter than the beginning. Update (2013) – My bites are still not reacting as severely as before. Hopefully this means an end to my mosquito bite allergy?

You may want to check out this blog for more information.

Minecraft: Treehouse v3.0

Well, I recently became addicted to this game ago, Notch added some nice items and details to the v1.3 beta. Funny enough, in the last post there’s a screenshot of my treehouse v1.0 which only had one level. I demolished that one and began one treehouse v2.0 and completed it with an added level of trees for a nice balcony and a base level which had a lava fireplace and living room. Unfortunately, a building made completely of wood with a lava fireplace was a terrible idea, right when I was done and about to log off, the treehouse burnt down. I was about to give up completely on the idea of building a treehouse when I sucked it up and built treehouse v3.0, pictured above. It’s four levels!

The base level is completely surrounded by tree trunks, with a nice fireplace (this time it isn’t a lavaplace), chest, jukebox, and bed. I wanted to a sofa there, but until an item like that is added to the game I’ll keep it as a bed. The middle post is stone, I decided to keep it stone just in case of a fire. At least one thing will stay alive if that happens!

Level two of the treehouse is somewhat bland. The trees from the first level are so tall that they cover any window space for this level, I might find a use for it later.

Level three is my favorite part, I made it indoors to keep it warm at night. A nice bed, chest, jukebox, and books to keep things interesting. I didn’t take a picture of it, but the doors at the back lead out into a giant balcony which overlooks the ocean or giant lake. I didn’t take a picture of the fourth level because it looks exactly like level two, just smaller.

Off to make my underwater fortress!