Archive for the ‘Hardware, network etc.’ Category


All phone contacts added to car

December 30, 2017

When we got my husband’s new car a couple of weeks ago, the sales guy paired our phones. However, despite me saying I didn’t want all my 1000+ contacts downloaded, it happened automatically before he could change the setting.

My phone’s contacts are paired with Exchange Server, and Outlook on my PC had been happily creating ‘Suggested contacts’ for years (yes, you can turn this off in Outlook 2010 [under File > Options > Contacts]; I believe later versions don’t have it turned on automatically). Even though I may have deleted contacts from the main list, the ‘suggested contacts’ and subfolders I’d created in Outlook had heaps more people. Arrghh! And they ALL went into the car’s system — people who live outside Australia (the car won’t travel outside Australia and may not even go interstate), people who have died, businesses I contacted ONCE xx years ago. I purged these last week in preparation for slimming down the 1000+ contacts list (it’s about 550 now!).

After reading the car’s manual, I got it sorted out, and now have about 10 of my contacts in the car’s system!! In essence, what I did was:

  1. Turn on the car and wait for the Bluetooth to connect with my phone.
  2. Go into the settings in the car for my connected phone and turn off the option to download contacts automatically. THIS STEP WAS CRITICAL. Note: I can’t tell you where this is on your car — every brand/model is different. If you have trouble with this, read your manual, or go back to your dealer for help. Or ask a 12 year old…
  3. Delete the car from my Bluetooth devices in my phone.
  4. Delete my phone from the car’s Bluetooth devices.
  5. Re-pair the Bluetooth connection between my car and the phone.
  6. Once they were re-paired, I manually shared the selected contacts on my phone with the car. There was a bit of a black art in getting the sequence right to upload one contact at a time (it couldn’t deal with multiples, but that might be more me not knowing what to).

Now I have another issue — deleting contacts from Exchange Server via Outlook DOESN’T delete them from my phone or tablet, so even though I now only have ~550 contacts on Exchange Server, my phone still has the 1000+ contacts from a few weeks ago. I couldn’t find an easy way to delete them so spent some of the Christmas break deleting them manually from those devices. It only took a couple of hours and is now done.


Windows won’t eject my storage device

February 22, 2017

I’d been using an external hard drive (connected by USB) and wanted to safely eject it. But no matter what I did, I kept getting this message: “Windows can’t stop your ‘Generic volume’ device because a program is still using it. Close any programs that might be using the device, and then try again later.”

I tried quite a number of possible solutions I found on the internet, but none worked for me — until this one below. I’ve copied the solution in full, in case this information is no longer available at the URL at some time in the future (original URL where I found the answer:


Simple fix (Windows 7 Professional 64-bit):

  1. Change the drive letter, and if you want to keep the same letter, change it back.
  2. The drive can now be unmounted.

When you change the drive letter, it disconnects the drive from all processes that might be using it, as the warning message states. Once that happens, you can then unmount it the usual way.

If you don’t know how to change drive letter, follow these instructions.

  1. Control Panel –> Administrative Tools –> Computer Management –> Storage –> Disk Management (wait ~10 seconds for information to appear.)
  2. Select the problem drive under volume heading.
  3. Scroll to that drive in the lower part of window.
  4. Right-click on the drive, and select Change Drive Letter and Paths.
  5. Change the drive letter to one not reserved for another drive.
  6. Acknowledge the warning message.
  7. If you wish the drive to retain the original letter, simply switch it back. The drive can now be unmounted.


[Link last checked February 2017]


Telstra service status

February 15, 2017

For my Aussie readers: If you’re having a problem with your Telstra landline, you can enter your postcode into this site ( and get a status update. There are three ‘buttons’ at the top of the screen — current interruptions/maintenance, scheduled maintenance, and completed maintenance. The service they’re referring to is landline voice calls ONLY, not ADSL internet.

And why did I find this out? Each of the three calls I made at various times today and to various numbers gave me a message that the ‘service to the telecoms network I was calling was temporarily congested, and please try again later’.

So I called iinet who my phone is through, and their 13xxxx number worked straight away from my landline. The lovely support person I spoke to said Telstra keep the 13xxxx numbers free in case of emergency as they’re ‘more important’, and told me about this Telstra site. Sure enough, we have ‘scheduled maintenance’ going on right now (‘Customers may experience difficulties making and receiving calls using their home phone service’) and it’s expected to last from 15 to 28 Feb (!!!). However, she said typically Telstra work on one part of the exchange for a day, which means we might only be down for the day. Fingers crossed. Meantime, Telstra gave us NO notification that the phone would be out, nor do they notify iinet of such outages.


PC lost connection to network: Solved

September 26, 2016

One of the PCs on my network lost connection to the other computers and the internet yesterday. All the other PCs were fine. After trying many options to get it reconnected (see the list at the end of this post for the things I tried that didn’t work, just in case one of them works for you), I narrowed the likely culprit down to a faulty network cable or network card. I then called my PC Guru people for help and after they listened to what I’d tried, my Guru asked me to check the network adapter settings — the ‘Ethernet’ one on that computer was disabled. He got me to re-enable it and everything worked again! No, I still don’t know why it would inexplicably lose connection.

Here’s how to re-enable it:

  1. Right-click the network icon in the System Tray on the Taskbar (or go to Control Panel).
  2. Click Open Network and Sharing Center.
  3. Click Change adapter settings in the left panel.
  4. Look for a grayed out icon — on this Windows 8.1 machine it was called ‘Ethernet’ and said it was ‘Disabled’ (Note: On my Windows 7 machine it’s called ‘Local Area Connection’, so the name may vary depending on your version of Windows).
  5. Right-click the grayed out icon, then click Enable.
  6. With luck, all the connections will re-establish themselves, as they did for me.

One other thing to try is:

  1. Right-click the network icon in the System Tray on the Taskbar (or go to Control Panel).
  2. Click Open Network and Sharing Center.
  3. If you’re meant to be on a domain, but the View Your Active Networks icon has Public Network below it instead, click that Public Network link and then select Work (or Home) network.

Things I tried that DIDN’T work:

  • Rebooted the PC (this often solves many problems)
  • Rebooted the router (I didn’t think this would work as the other computers had internet access, but tried it anyway)
  • Removed the network cable from the back of the PC and clicked it back in again
  • Rebooted the network hub
  • Removed the network cable from the network hub and clicked it back in again
  • Checked that the network cable plugged into the PC had a flashing green light — it did
  • Removed the network cable from the PC and replaced it with another cable plugged into the network hub that I knew worked (by this stage, I was thinking it was likely the network card that had stopped working); yes, the green light flashed for that one too, but still I didn’t get a connection. It was at this point that I called my PC Guru guys.

Loud hum from speakers: Solved

September 13, 2016

I had the devil of a time trying to get rid of a really bad hum in the speakers of a new mini hifi system that I’d connected up to a PC. I could hear the music faintly so I knew I had it connected properly, but that music was totally overridden by the loud hum.

I checked the manual, the manufacturer’s online support (useless) and forums, Dr Google, and tried various online advice about plugging the power cable into the same outlet as the PC, etc. Nothing changed.

Next, I checked listening via the FM radio option — no hum! That was my first clue. I pulled out the ‘audio in’ connection and the hum went away. Clue number two — it was somewhere in the connection from the PC to the unit. I crawled on the floor to the back of the PC, where the audio cable came out just a little too easily… I pushed it back in fully and restarted the hifi. It worked brilliantly — no hum!

Such a simple thing, but it caused me a lot of frustration for an hour. Hopefully this helps someone else.


Dust — the enemy of computers

February 16, 2015

I had to take my server in for a RAM upgrade, which meant disconnecting it and preparing it for travel inside the car. One of the things I wanted the PC Guru guys to do was give the server a good clean too. But as I already had it disconnected on the bench, I figured I’d spend a bit of time getting rid of the excess dust so that their clean was targeted at all the inside bits that I either can’t reach or am not confident about cleaning.

One thing I discovered some time back is that the inside of my server stays remarkably dust free. Not so behind the door! The first time I took off the door, I got the shock of my life as it was almost entirely clogged with thick dust. I now know to clean that area regularly to prevent dust clogging up the intake air holes, and thus prevent the server from overheating and the fans from excessive work.

So, this is what ‘behind the door’ looked like when I opened it the other day. Not a huge amount of dust (compared to what I’ve seen before), but still enough to prevent it running as efficiently as possible, especially around the air intake holes at the base and the air holes around the four hard drives.


I cleaned the dust using an old artist’s paintbrush and a Tooltron Micro Applicator Brush, both of which I had wiped on a slightly damp cloth so that the very fine dust wouldn’t escape. Compressed air is no good as it would just blow the dust through those intake holes and into the housing.

Note: Even though the floor of my office is carpeted, the server (and all the PCs) is suspended under the desk, well off the floor. Carpet is a real problem for computers — there’s the dust from the atmosphere AND the carpet, and the potential static electricity.

See also:

[Links last checked February 2015]


Stop Brother laser printer ‘Replace Toner’ message

January 23, 2015

Printer companies want you to buy their toner, and they want you to replace that toner long before it runs out. They do this by various means; typically beeps, popup screens, warning messages on the display panel of the printer etc. How they gauge when the toner needs replacing varies by manufacturer too — some alert you based on number of pages printed (assuming that you are printing an entire page of solid toner every time), others use a laser beam through a hole in the printer cartridge (true! — see this video:, and still others by means I’m not aware of.

My Brother MFC 9210CN (and more recently, my MFC 9330CDW) multifunction laser printer warns me when it decides the toner is running low, and if I don’t replace the toner (either black only or all FOUR colour cartridges at once) within a time/usage frame it considers acceptable, it locks me out from printing by beeping a lot, displaying a ‘Replace toner now’ message on the printer and my computer screen, AND by physically NOT printing my print jobs.

Well, I’m sick of it. There’s plenty of toner left in the cartridges (since when do I fully print a page as I would if I was printing photos every time?). And at more than $100 each (I have five in the machine), replacing cartridges every few months is not cheap.

Off to Google…. where I found out how to reset my printer so that it thinks my cartridges are still fine. I found the answer here:, and it worked. I decided to take photos of the controls and write full instructions for anyone else trying to do this. Maybe I can get another 500+ pages out of my toners this way.

The instructions for the MFC 9330CDW come after the instructions for the MFC 9120CN.

How to reset the toner cartridge settings on a Brother MFC 9120CN

  1. Make sure the printer is turned on.
  2. Open the cover using the blue ‘handle’ at the front of the machine. You don’t need to open it much — you’re not getting into the cartridge area and you’ll need to access the control panel.
  3. Press the Clear/Back button on the control panel.
  4. Press the up or down arrow key to scroll through the list of toners. Note: K = Black, M = Magenta (pink), C = Cyan (blue), and Y = Yellow; each has an option for STD and STR.
  5. When you get to the toner you want to reset, press the OK button. I chose K. TNR-STD to reset the message about my black toner cartridge and allow me to print again.
  6. You get two options for your selected toner — 1 to reset and 2 to exit. Press 1 on the numeric keypad of the control panel to reset the toner.
  7. Close the cover. The printer will go through its warm up cycle again and your beeps, messages, etc. should be gone AND you should be able to print again using your existing cartridge.

Of course, at some point your cartridge(s) will really run out of toner and will need to be replaced. But if you can get another 50 to 500 pages out of your existing toner, you will have saved yourself some money on a replacement you didn’t need at the time the printer told you you needed it.

How to reset the toner cartridge settings on Brother MFC-9330CDW and MFC-9340CDW printers

Some Googling found me this information on how to reset the toner on more recent Brother laser printers:

In case that URL ever goes missing, here’s this information copied from it on 20 March 2016:

  1. Get to the home screen. If you are stuck at the “Toner Low” or “Replace Toner” message, just press the red X.
  2. Press the FAX button on the touch screen (you may also need to press the Sending Faxes icon). This is ONLY to light up the numbers so you can LOCATE and only locate, don’t press, the * (asterisk) button. You know where it is now, somewhere to the right of the red X button. I put a sticky ‘sign here’ note tab to point to the *.
  3. Press the glowing Home button to get home.
  4. Open the top as if you were going to change the toner, but don’t remove any toner.
  5. With the top open, press and hold the now UNLIT * (asterisk) button for at least 5 seconds.
  6. Keep the lid open — the Toner Reset menu will show on the screen.
  7. Reset your ‘low’ or ’empty’ toner by pressing the color and type to reset, all with the lid open. (e.g. cstd or C.TNR.STD = cyan standard, cstr or C.TNR.STR = cyan starter, and one other for high yield [e.g. C.TNR.HC], etc. Just reset to whatever type you have installed. Note: C = cyan [blue], M = magenta [red], Y = yellow, and K= black)
  8. Close the lid and wait about 40 seconds per toner that was reset (i.e. 80 seconds if you reset two toners, 120 seconds if you reset three).
  9. Once the normal touchscreen controls are displayed again, the Toner Low message should be gone. Eventually you will have to replace toner, but you’ll be able to tell by the quality of the print.

NOTE: As at 20 March 2016, I have not tried these instructions, but next time I get a low toner message I will and will report back here.

Update 14 Jul 2016: I got my first toner low message for my three color toners, and have now reset as per the instructions above. So far, so good. Now to see how long before the toner REALLY runs out.

There’s also a YouTube video on resetting the MFC-9330CDW toner: