Tag Archives: computing

How to fix overclocking failed error

This is a well documented boot failure issue on most Asus motherboard. When the issue arise, the message, “Overclocking Failed! Please enter setup to re-configure your system.” will be displayed on start up before the system goes into boot sequence. So, how can you fix this?

A typical Overclocking Failed! error.
A typical Overclocking Failed! error.

What causes the problem?

The K-type processors from Intel can be safely overclocked. The manufacture Asus has several built-in functions on their motherboard that takes advantage of this Intel K-type processors. The motherboard has a program in BIOS to change the processor and RAM memory speed. If you have not manually overclocked the RAM or the processor before this error was displayed, then it is most likely caused by memory frequency issue.

The Intel CPU and the memory frequency is often changed during an overclocking process. It also may change during a boot-up or shutdown process. When either boot-up or shutdown processes does not go to completion due to power failure or other issues, then it may result in the frequency for CPU/RAM stuck in a higher than normal value.

Here is how you fix it

As instructed on the error screen, go to your BIOS setup (F2 or DEL at the start-up). The first option is obvious; press F5 (or find other means) to set all parameters in BIOS to Default. Now reboot and if that fails, then try the following.

1) Change the profile under “System Performance” to “Power Saving” profile.

Asus Main BIOS page (EZ Mode)
Asus Main BIOS page (EZ Mode)-Click on enlarge.

2) Go to “Advanced Mode” (select or F7-check above image) then select “Ai Tweaker” tab from the top.

Ai Tweaker tab under Advanced Mode
Ai Tweaker tab under Advanced Mode-Click on enlarge.

3) Change the system Level Up to “Auto”. Note: if “Auto” does not fix your problem, change the setting to the lowest level.

Target DRAM Speed and System Level Up selector.
Target DRAM Speed and System Level Up selector-Click on enlarge.

4) The Target DRAM Speed should read around 1600MHz (or lowest RAM speed possible).

5) Select “Boot” tab from the top and make sure the “Boot Option #1” under “Boot Options Properties” reads “Windows Boot…”.

Boot Option Properties --> Boot Option #1 = Windows Bo...
Boot Option Properties –> Boot Option #1 = Windows Bo…-Click on enlarge.

6) Now press “Exit” at the top and select “Save Changes & Reset”. Your system should boot up normally.

If this also failed to resolve the problem, you are not in danger of losing your computer. Go back to “Advanced Mode” and select “Advanced” tab from the top. Now change the Intel CPU variables until you find a solution. This is under CPU Configuration section. Try different combinations. I recommend disabling “Limit CPUID Maximum” and “Intel Visualization Technology”. That is what worked for my computer.

Advanced Intel CPU BIOS option
Advanced Intel CPU BIOS option–Click on enlarge.

Advanced Intel CPU BIOS options-CPU Configurations
Advanced Intel CPU BIOS options-CPU Configurations–Click on enlarge.

Please note that the above instructions are not Scientific nor approved by the manufactures. They are based on my personal experience. I have fixed few Asus computers with this issue by following the steps. There is no way I can guarantee that these steps will also work for your system. Use the information with caution.

Cloud computing: a blessing and a curse

Right after the DOT-COM bubble began to shrink, a new concept of computing called cloud computing gave hope to a dying breed. It boosted the profits of entirely Internet based companies like Dropbox Inc. and opened the market for new Internet based companies. The next big step for this technology is the “smart home” which also referred to as “connected home”.

Continue reading Cloud computing: a blessing and a curse

Modification to extend wireless range

Consumer Electronics Design not always beneficial if it retards the primary functions of a device. The internal antennas are such a design concept that cause a lot of headaches for tech guys like me. The primary function of a antenna is to transmit a signal, capture a signal or both. Since most modern equipments are manufactured with plastic casings (as opposed to metal), a lot of manufactures have opted for internal antennas. The advantage; now nothing is sticking out, they can make the equipment more desirable to mainstream consumers by making “beautiful” equipments boxes. I am on the other hand one of those people who would buy a device for its’ practical functionality over looks.

The following modification was made on my VeraLite (Vera3 variant) to remove dead-zones in my Z-wave network. However, using the same principles and steps, you can also extend the range of your WiFi network. I will add bits of information specific to WiFi extension on this article.

Vera3 and VeraLite controllers

The door locks on Z-wave networks almost always accept only secure authenticated signals. In order to operate the locks you must send the signal either directly from your Z-wave controller (in this case VeraLite) to the locks or use repeaters (or modules with secure repeaters) that are capable of secure signal handling. I found it is extremely hard to find such repeaters in Canada.

So I went with the second option; direct communication between the locks and the controller. However, my controller is in a locked cabinet far away from the locks. This causes reliability issues because unlike Z-wave light switches, door locks cannot take unsecured signals repeated from nearby low security switches.

Modification to the controller

Warning: This modification will void your manufactures’ warranty. Beware of the static charges. Static electricity could burn out your circuit board. Either use a grounded anti-static wrist strap or use extreme caution. Remove all power supply units (batteries & DC power unit) before opening the case.

Parts, tools and technical information

  • Antenna must be able to handle frequency range of the device (for this mod, 908 MHz)
  • U.fl/IPEX to RP-SMA Pigtail with at least 5 cm; 10 cm is too much; find happy medium) of wire length between the connection points
  • GSM antenna extension cable (optional and longer the cable, more problems arises)
  • Small needle nose pliers
  • Small Phillips screwdriver and a large slotted screwdriver or a flat plastic or mental piece
  • Small electric drill or a utility knife

It is very easy to take apart VeraLite unit. Only two screws and few plastic clips that holds the plastic casing. One of my readers (“Jack”) pointed out that the screws will not come out from the casing. In that case do not try to pull it out. Once the screws are lose, you do not have to take them out of the holes in order to separate the green cover from the case. Use a flat head screw driver or a flat object to pull the cover apart. Be careful to not to break the clips that holding the two parts.

Inside you will find the internal antenna attached to side of the box with a connection wire going to the Printed Circuit Board (PCB). Click on the the image below for more detailed information.

VeraLite PCB: A = Internal antenna, B = Cutout made for ext. antenna. C = Antenna connector
Figure 1: VeraLite PCB: A = Internal antenna, B = Cutout made for ext. antenna. C = Antenna connector

Disconnect the internal antenna wire from point C (refer to above image) by gently twisting and pulling on the connector. Do not pull from the wire because it will break the wire from the connector. I recommend using a small needle nose pliers.

Make a hole through the casing, either on the back or on the side. Make sure it is large enough to pass the SMA (SubMiniature version A) male connector but not its’ neck. I used a box cutter to be safe, but you can also use an electric drill. If you are using a large construction grade drill, please be careful to not to break the box. I found the utility knife to be the best option.

Creating a circular cutout to pass the male SMA end
Figure 2: Creating a circular cutout to pass the male SMA end

Take the U.fl/IPEX to RP-SMA Pigtail (Figure 3) and connect the U.fl side to the board. Then pass the SMA side from inside to outside. Then connect the other end to the point C (Figure 1) on the board.

U.fl/IPEX to RP-SMA Pigtail
Figure 3: U.fl/IPEX to RP-SMA Pigtail

Internal and external view of the final product.
Figure 4: Internal and external view of the final product.

Put the box back together and your done! For the external antenna now you have the option of adding it directly to the device shown in Figure 3 or you can add a antenna cable before adding the antenna itself. This is what most people do when they want to secure their devices in a cabinet. You can keep the network controller inside while antenna outside for greater coverage.

It is quite possible to salvage antenna and U.fl/IPEX to RP-SMA Pigtail connection wire from old devices such as wireless routers and GSM devices. But unfortunately most WiFi routers are on 2.4 GHz band while Z-wave is in 900 MHz band. For example, this particular model is at 908 MHz frequency. If you cannot find a GSM device to get an antenna, please buy one (~ $8 – $12 CAD) to take the full advantage out of this modification. Connection wire from a WiFi router is suitable for Z-wave broadcast.

Antenna length difference due to wavelength difference between 2.4 GHz vs 900 MHz
Antenna length difference due to wavelength difference between 2.4 GHz vs 900 MHz

If you would like to know more about how antennas work, try this site.

Modify WiFi Routers

Yes, you can modify your b/g/n/ac WiFi routers with built-in antenna(s) by following the same instructions. The only difference is now you can use any old 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz (not very popular) antennas for your project.

Modules associations

There are few different companies that manufacture modules for home automation. Even with products from same company, it can be difficult to find all in one solutions to consumers’ need. Through manipulating the behaviors of the modules through the controller, we can accomplish almost anything.

Let’s look at a situation where solution is not obvious. In my home, I have a separated garage with a conventional door opener and lights. To automate the door, I added a Z-wave inline module. It works great, but it often interferes with the built-in light of the opener. So I removed the light fixture from it. Now every time I come home the garage is dark because the other set of lights requires me to turn on separately. Solution is to combine two modules; the door open/close sensor and the light switch module.

I wrote down what I would like to have and what equipment I have to solve the problem. What I wrote is; Sensor is Armed –> Sensor is Connected/Disconnected –> Turn ON lights –> Wait 10 min –> Turn OFF lights. Then, being a good computer scientist I created a flow chart.

Flowchart: Garage Door Sensor associating with Light Switch
Flowchart: Garage Door Sensor associating with Light Switch
Now, I installed the Z-wave 2-way switch module by replacing the old switches. Then I used the association in Vera controller to make a relationship between the sensor and the light switch.

Here is an example video of an association (not the same one describe above).

You can resolve problems similar to this using associations in many other situations. Here are few example of typical problems that can be fixed using association method.

  • Turn on lights (switch module) when the motion senator (sensor module) is tripped if the time period is night.
  • Turn off the TV (plug-in module) if the motion sensor (sensor module) have not been tripped for over X hours in the entertainment room.
  • Turn on the sprinklers (plug-in module OR sprinkler controller module) if the light sensor (sensor module) detects low lights and it is at night.
  • If the light level (luminance sensor) is below 90 lux then turn on lights.
  • If the humidity level (humidity sensor) is below 40% turn on the humidifier and send an email.
  • If you install a multisensor, Boolean logic possibilities can be significantly increased.
  • …and many many more!

The key to a successful association type automation is proper planing and right equipment.

Searching Multiple Documents

At work, at school or even at home, often we have to read though multiple files to find specific texts or objects. When there are more than one file to search, most users would open and search each file one at a time. But time is invaluable and most of us rather do anything but searching for information all night. Likely, there are simple solutions you can use to prevent repetitive search. The following article will briefly explain how to search large number of individual files on a Windows based computer.

Searching multiple PDF files

1) Open the Adobe PDF program (with or without a document file).

2) Now press CTRL + Shift + F to open the “advanced search” window shown here:

Text search in multiple PDF files
Text search in multiple PDF files

3) Select “All PDF Documents in” radio option under “Where would you like to search?” dialog.

4) If you prefer to search only a single folder containing multiple PDF files, choose from the folder tree under the drop down or choose “Browse for Locations…” from the list. It will give you a pop up for locations in your computer/network.

Locations options for PDF files search.
Locations options for PDF files search.

5) There are few other options including Case-Sensitive, entire phrase search, etc.

The following is an example of search results for all PDF-based lectures for Hydrology 401 class for the term “hydraulic gradient”. During final exams of Winter 2013, I have literary saved hundreds of hours searching for information in PDF materials using this method.

How the results will appear. By hovering over a result will provide page number.
How the results will appear. By hovering over a result will provide page number.

Searching Microsoft/OpenOffice

This is not an ideal solution. The results are often scattered across the computer and the data presentation is not as good ad the Adobe PDF search. But still this is better than looking for specific concepts using good-old flipping pages.

1) In Windows 8, go to the Start Screen and then simply type away… Files with your word phase should come up as soon as you type.

2) Click on search word/similar words list, which appears below if the items you are looking for does not appear under immediate files list.

3) Can search all types of documents. However, locked PDF and document files may not always get searched.

You may go to search settings on your computer to limit the type of files and the locations for the search.

Windows 8 computer-wide all file search results.
Windows 8 computer-wide all file search results. Click for larger image.

As you can see from the example above in which I searched “Phacopida”, the new Windows 8 redeisgned results page can be very informative. For some people like me, this is great since it also searches Wikipedia and images with that file name or meta tag. But for others this can be confusing. Microsoft have placed the results in panes (A to E on the image above) so that each search location is separated. Ideally, this is the best way to search multiple format (PDF, image, Office, etc) on Windows 8 computers.

The same function is available on all Windows computers from Windows 95 and upwards. The only difference is the results in older generation Windows units will display in the Folder format.

General Search in Windows 7
General Search in Windows 7

Problems with images and diagrams

Unless the images are saved as a PSD file, CorelDraw file, Excel/Word text-graphic file or image files with meta data, it will be harder for the computer to detect what you need. I would recommend encouraging your instructors to use modern tools when creating images/diagrams so that the texts included in them can be search by Windows and other Operating Systems. There are tools for image search, but these software will cost you an arm and a leg!