How to find the right coax cable digital splitter

Yet another topic there’s much less documentation on than there should be

If you have cable internet or are using the coax cable inside your house for MoCA networking, you might eventually want to split a cable outlet between 2 end point devices, e.g. a set top box and a modem, or a network CableCARD tuner and a MoCA adapter.

You’ll need a digital splitter for that, and the most important spec for the job is the frequency range the splitter is rated for. It must be from 5 to approximately 1000 MHz. I say approximately because some splitters that work are rated for 5-1002 MHz.

Splitters that have worked for me – most recently with an Actiontec ECB6200 – include the Extreme Broadband Engineering BDS102H, CommScope SV2G, and Regal ZDSB3DGH10. If you can’t find any of those or a splitter that meets the 5-1000 MHz spec, then get one from a cable company truck. I did this myself years ago by just hanging out in the cable company office lot until a truck came by. I told them what I needed a digital splitter for, and they tossed me a couple.

How to update Samsung Galaxy S5 stock partitions without breaking custom ROM or recovery

Don’t just flash modem firmwares and think you’re done.

The following is directed at Samsung Galaxy S5s running custom ROMs and custom recovery environments only. The Galaxy S5’s internal storage has multiple partitions, each with its own separate image. For the sake of this discussion, we’ll divide the partitions into 2 groups: customized and stock.

Customized partitions are the ones you’ve put a custom image onto. For most devices running custom ROMs, that’s the /recovery – this is where TWRP, CWM, etc. live – and /system – where the actual (custom) Android phone OS lives – partitions.

Stock partitions are the partitions with unmodified OEM images. For most devices running custom ROMs, that’s every partition except /recovery and /system. Because some of these partitions contain firmware for the phone’s hardware components and said firmware was developed for a particular version of Android, it’s important to keep them updated. It isn’t too hard to see how, for example, pairing firmware designed for Android 4.4.2 with a custom Android 7.1.1 ROM could cause problems.

This guide will show you how to update as many of the stock partitions as possible without touching the customized partitions:

  1. Download and install 7-Zip.
  2. Download the latest stock firmware (where “firmware” in this sense means an archive containing images for all partitions) from SamMobile.You’ll need to search by your phone’s model number at that page.
  3. Decompress the archive from the above step. If you find it contains a .tar.md5 file; decompress that too.
  4. In the folder containing the extracted files, select the following:
    • NON-HLOS.bin – This is the 4G LTE modem firmware.
    • modem.bin – This is the 2G & 3G modem firmware.
    • rpm.bin – This is the resource and power manager.
    • sbl1.mbn – This is the secondary bootloader.
    • tz.mbn – This is the trust zone.
    • sdi.mbn – This contains transmission band info (?)
    • aboot.mbn – This is the phone bootloader. SELECT THIS ONLY IF YOUR PHONE SHIPPED WITH AN UNLOCKED BOOTLOADER (i.e. DO NOT SELECT IT IF YOU’RE USING A VERIZON S5 AS YOU WILL RE-LOCK THE BOOTLOADER.)
  5. Follow Steps 6 to 11 here.

And that’s it. All your partitions will be safely updated without touching your custom ROM or custom recovery.

Thanks haggertk for the method, E:V:A for partition details, and Campbell Vertesi for the NON-HLOS.bin and modem.bin descriptions.

Where to find the latest version of Odin

Is it Odin or Odin3? 🤔

If you’re reading this, you probably already know what Odin (or Odin3? Because that’s what the window title bar says) is and what it does. For the unitiated: Odin is a Samsung-internal Windows graphical utility that allows you to update Samsung Android phone storage partitions using image files from your PC. Samsung Kies does almost the same thing, but it downloads official files from Samsung only, while Odin allows the use of any image files compatible with the phone. It’s basically ADB for Samsung, but with a GUI.

Because it’s an internal tool, there’s no Samsung-official download site for it. However, you should always be able to find the latest version at XDA here. Odin is a portable .exe, so you can run it from anywhere.

How to download pics and video from Instagram using a browser with no add-ons or extra apps

Yet another Firefox feature you won’t find in Chrome.

Every guide I’ve seen on how to do this talks about inspecting elements or installing add-ons or apps. None of that is necessary. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Open the image or video’s specific Instagram page (e.g. https://www.instagram.com/p/BOpZDePDQ2b/) in Firefox.
  2. Right-click on the background.
  3. Click Page Info.
  4. In the window that pops up, click the Media tab.
  5. Sort the results by Type.
  6. The pic you want will be one of the Image entries in type, while the video you want will be the Video entry. An example is shown below:
    clipboard01
  7. Select which one you want.
  8. Click Save As…

And that’ll do it. You’ll get the original .jpg upload or an .mp4 video. This method of downloading videos also works for Clippit.tv, with the exception that you might have to play the video first to allow Firefox to sniff it before clicking Page Info.

How to download music from My Mixtapez outside the app

Of course you need a PC to work around a subpar mobile app.

Yes, there’s a My Mixtapez Android app. Unfortunately, it really slows your device down with wakelocks and CPU usage, so here’s how to get music from the site otherwise:

  1. If you don’t have it already, download and install desktop Firefox (I prefer the Nightly builds).
  2. Open the My Mixtapez page corresponding to the song you want download. e.g. https://mxtpz.me/a/108717.
  3. Start playing the song you want.
  4. Right-click the page background to bring up Firefox’s context menu.
  5. Click Page Info.
  6. Click Media.
  7. Sort the results displayed by Type so that Audio is at the top.
  8. The entry corresponding to audio is the song that is currently playing. Select it as shown below:
    clipboard01
  9. Click Save  As… and download the file.
  10. Repeat Steps 3 to 9 for every song you want on the page from Step 2.
  11. Open File Explorer.
  12. Navigate to the location you downloaded the file to in Step 9.
  13. Click the File Explorer View tab.
  14. In the Show/hide group, check  the File name extensions box.
  15. Now that the file name extensions are visible, change them to .mp3 for all the files you downloaded in Steps 9 and 10 via renaming.
  16. In the Show/hide group, uncheck  the File name extensions box (it’s good to leave this unchecked in general as accidentally changing file name extensions can cause serious problems later.)

The files in Step 15 will all be the original, playable mp3 files.

The Page Info feature is one of the main reasons Firefox continues to by my main browser; it’s basically a built-in content sniffer.

How to turn your favorite comics into high resolution wallpapers

That Carol Danvers is something else, isn’t she?

You like comics and you like wallpapers. Did you know that you can extract gloriously high res ones of the latter from the former?

First, you’ll need the comic in CBR or CBZ format. Both are simply RAR and ZIP files, respectively, with the extensions changed. Once you have that, simply extract the file using your preferred archiving tool (I recommend 7-Zip). This will spit out every page of the comic as its own separate image file, which you can then use as you please.

Thanks John C for the tip!

How to fix the “Your computer is low on memory” Windows 10 error message

🎶 If you’re having RAM problems I feel bad for you son 🎶

Ever gotten the error message below?

c37da72e%2d7ed0%2d41a4%2db972%2d188ba5faa332

Your computer is low on memory

To restore enough memory for programs to work correctly, save your files and then clsoe or restart all open programs.

The root cause may be a poorly behaving service installed with Realtek network drivers called RunSWUSB. Disabling it should fix the issue. Here’s how to do that:

  1. Open the Start Menu.
  2. Type Services.
  3. In the window that pops up, find RunSWUSB.
  4. Right-click on the above entry.
  5. Click Stop if it isn’t greyed out.
  6. Click Properties.
  7. In the window that pops up, under the General tab, click the Startup type: dropdown menu.
  8. Click Disabled.
  9. Click Apply.
  10. Click OK.
  11. Close Services.

So how’d I figure this out? First of all, it seems to be rare; only 1 of my 3 Windows 10 PCs was afflicted with it. The PC that was having this issue is running Windows 10 Insider Slow Ring and was experiencing errors during the build update process. As part of the steps to resolve those, I performed a clean boot. After the update process successfully completed, I went through disabled services individually to see which were worth re-enabling. Googling this particular one produced this thread about its associated memory leak problems.

If the above doesn’t fix the problem, try performing a clean boot. Then do the following:

  1. Open the Start Menu.
  2. Type msconfig.
  3. Hit Enter.
  4. In the window that pops up, click the Services tab.
  5. Check the Hide all Microsoft services box.
  6. Google each remaining service individually to figure out what it does. You may find the culprit eventually.
  7. When you do find it, disable it as previously shown.
  8. Add the offending service to the Microsoft support thread so your findings can help others!

Thanks cartman82 for the fix!

How to uninstall G-DM

Behave like malware, get treated like malware.

If you installed this useless app on your PC and find it won’t uninstall via Control Panel, try any of the following:

Method 1: Rebooting after the 1st uninstallation attempt

The developer, G-Agate, claims this should work, but I never saw any indication to reboot so I can’t confirm it.

Method 2: Stopping the G-DM Service, and then try uninstalling again

  1. Open the Start menu.
  2. Search for Services.
  3. Open the Services search result.
  4. Click the G-DM service in the list that pops up.
  5. To the upper left of the list, click Stop.
  6. Try uninstalling again.

Method 3: Clean boot, then try uninstalling again

  1. Do a clean boot. This should prevent the G-DM service from starting.
  2. Try uninstalling again.

Method 4: Use CCleaner

  1. Download and install CCleaner Free while opting out of Chrome installation and disabling anything that would make CCleaner run in the background or on startup.
  2. Launch CCleaner.
  3. Click Options.
  4. Under Settings, uncheck all boxes in the far left column.
  5. Click Monitoring.
  6. Uncheck all boxes in the far left column.
  7. Click Advanced.
  8. Uncheck Skip User Account Control warning.
  9. Click Tools in the far left menu.
  10. Under Uninstall, find G-DM.
  11. Click Uninstall.

If Methods 1 to 3 fail, Method 4 should work. The developers insist their app isn’t malware, but I consider anything that refuses to uninstall from the Control Panel to be so.

 

How to resolve Error 0x80240fff when installing Windows Insider Builds

Solving problems by turning 1 incomprehensible error into 2 more manageable ones. I thought this only happened to Linux users.

Recently I was trying to update a Sony Vaio Fit 15E laptop from Windows Insider Slow Ring build 14931 to 14965 via Windows Update. The update would complete downloading and commence installing, but would fail during the multiple reboot process, causing the previous build to be restored.

After ensuring I had no SD cards inserted or USB devices attached, here are the steps I took to resolve it:

Defering Feature Updates

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click Update & Security.
  3. Click Advanced Options.
  4. Check the Defer feature updates box.
  5. Retry the update process.

That didn’t work, so I tried:

Running the Windows Update Troubleshooter

  1. Open Control Panel.
  2. In the View by: dropdown, select Small icons.
  3. Click Troubleshooting.
  4. Click Fix problems with Windows Update.
  5. Follow the onscreen instructions to fix any problems that are found.
  6. Retry the update process.

That didn’t work either, so I tried:

Deleting the C:\$WINDOWS.~BT folder

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Click the View tab.
  3. Check the Hidden items box in the Show/hide ribbon section.
  4. Navigate to the C:\ drive.
  5. Delete the $WINDOWS.~BT folder.
  6. Retry the update process.

That didn’t work either, so I tried deferring feature updates again and rerunning the update process, producing this error:

There were some problems installing updates, but we’ll try again later. If you keep seeing this and want to search the web or contact support for information, this may help: (0x800705b4)

So I tried:

Installing from the ISO instead

  1. Download the latest Slow Ring ISO here. You’ll need to sign in 1st so the page knows you’re a Windows Insider.
  2. Using WinRAR, 7-Zip, or a similar archive extraction tool, extract the ISO file to a folder.
  3. Open the above folder.
  4. Launch the setup file.
  5. Set the installer to keep your apps, files, and settings and let it run.

That didn’t work either, so I tried deleting the C:\$WINDOWS.~BT again and trying to install from ISO as above. This time I got this error:

0x8007042B – 0x4000D The installation failed in the SECOND_BOOT phase with an error during the MIGRATE_DATA operation

Although this error might seem disappointing, it was actually encouraging because it was the 1st one I’d gotten that actually explained what the issue was.

Googling the error produced this excellent post by Andre Da Costa. I had to:

  1. Do a clean boot (see link for instructions. It’s generally a good idea at all times – error or not – to enable clean boot before rebooting from your current build to install the new one. This will prevent existing startup processes from interfering with the installation.)
  2. Disconnect the laptop from the internet (disable Wi-Fi, unplug Ethernet cable.)
  3. Disconnect all non-essential USB peripherals, including mice if you have a working laptop touchpad.
  4. Reboot.
  5. Retry updating from the ISO files.

This finally fixed the issue.

Note that if you have any services or apps you’d prefer to run at startup, you’ll need to manually re-enable them via some combination of Task Manager, System Configuration, and Services.

I hate that the Insider build update process is this unreliable, but issues can be worked around with tenacity and thought.

Thanks to Microsoft employee /u/zac_l for his assistance on this Reddit support thread:

How to find portable 64-bit VLC builds

You could just use the 32-bit build from the download link, but if you’re reading this that was never an option.

Need 64-bit VLC goodness on a machine you can’t install anything on? Portable VLC to the rescue. Find it by doing the following:

  1. Go to http://download.videolan.org/pub/videolan/vlc/
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the page for the latest (highest) VLC version number and click the corresponding link.
  3. Click the /win64 folder link. This will expose 64-bit VLC builds in .zip and .7z archives.