Using a Creative Labs Sound Blaster Live! Platinum (CT4760) under Windows Vista

System Requirements:

  • Sound Blaster Live! Platinum
  • Windows Vista

The Problem:

This is Windows Vista we’re talking about… you had to ask?

More Information:

Put simply there are no native drivers for the original versions of the SB Live series with the Live! Drive 1.0 or 2.0. Microsoft stopped generating them with Windows Server 2003’s release, and in all but name so did Creative.

I can help you get sound, I cannot help you to get Surround Sound, the Game Port or to make use of your Live! Drive as the people at Creative once intended.

  1. Go to http://www.creative.com/ and then to Support
  2. Open the main downloads page
  3. In the Search by File Name or Model Number search for CT4760
  4. Download the 23.32 MB, 10 Mar 03 “Sound Blaster Live! – LiveDrvUni-Pack English”
  5. Double click the installer program, work through until it tells you it cannot find any qualifying products
  6. Hit Vista’s Device Manager
  7. Find the uninstalled Multimedia Audio Device, right click it and select Update Driver
  8. Specify your own file path for a driver
  9. Type or browse to the following, substituting %username% for the SAM name of your user account:
    C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Local\Temp\CRF000\Audio\Drivers\WIN2K_XP\
  10. Vista will install the driver and you will now have sound & sound control through the audio mixer

What does not work

Yes, they did release XP drivers for it in 2001, 2002 and 2003, and the 2003 release is what we are using – but if you actually need to use the Live Drive or want any SPDIF/Optical output e.g. have a 5.1 surround sound system, forget it. The best you will ever do with these driver is Stereo.

  • Many of the Live Drive’s ports (Exactly the same as using these drivers with XP)
  • SPDIF/Optical decoding to AC3 (Stereo is fine [Exactly the same as using these drivers with XP])
  • Create Joystick/MIDI port on the back plate of the card (Vista will not accept the driver)
  • Speaker profiling other than Mono/Stereo (Exactly the same as using these drivers with XP)

So much for the 1999 promise of lifetime support through the “LiveWare” program. That lasted all of 2 years.

Error: “Error during write buffer commit. Please check all cables and connections. Also verify that proper drive termination is used” while attempting to upgrade the firmware on Dell PowerVault 100T DDS4

System Requirements:

  • Dell PowerVault 100T DDS4

The Problem:

While attempting to upgrade the firmware on a PowerVault 100T DDS4 you receive the following error message from the Dell Windows updater.

error

The firmware updater exits from the session without upgrading the firmware.

More Information:

I have two Dell PowerVault 100T DDS drives, one in a PowerEdge 2600 and the other in the legend that is my PowerEdge 2400. Both systems run Windows Server 2003 and are pretty much vanilla Microsoft setups. The 2600 quite happily takes the firmware updates for the 100T DDS4, while the 2400 always drops out of the update procedure with the error message listed above.

Luckily the drive suffers no ill effects from encountering the error so far as I can see.

 

Obviously do pay attention to the error message. Check your termination and cabling if necessary. However there is a more simple solution. You’re flashing the wrong firmware.

There are two different versions of the 100T DDS4, and in their infinite wisdom (and for some reason) Dell didn’t think to add “v2” to the hardware name. What it boils down to is that there are two firmware kernels, the v8000 and the v9000. If you have an older drive then you have a v8000… and the Windows firmware updater is designed only for the v9000 drive.

 

How do I know which drive I have?

You can either scoot off and look in the PnP ID’s for the system, you could reboot the system and watch the POST… but that means downtime!

The lazy way to do it is to re-run the Windows updater package for the v9000. Before the flash begins you will be prompted with the following dialogue:

DDS4 Version Check

If the Installed Version string begins with an 8 (825B in this case) you have the older v8000 drive. If you have a v9000 drive at this juncture you really do need to check your termination and cabling.

 

Updating the firmware

Once you are secure in the knowledge that you have a v8000, the procedure is quite simply to download the hard drive install package and follow the instructions initiate the flash through the (provided) terminal application.

I have checked from A05 through to the latest A17 (at the time of writing) and while the highest FWID firmware revision seems to be labeled as 825B, the date time stamps on the images are being updated which makes me suspect that Dell simply aren’t updating the build number if they are indeed doing anything with it. In contrast the v9000 series is receiving incremental versions numbering. None the less, grab yourself the latest and greatest and get flashing!

 

Update 31st December 2007: There is now an A18, and while the version number is identical the date stamps have again changed.

Mesh 2200T (Clevo 2200T) only operates in PIO4 disk access mode

System Requirements:

  • Windows 2000
  • Windows XP
  • SIS 630 / 720 Chipset

The Problem:

Yep, it is another ones of those Clevo / Kapok issues! This one was a client’s problem from September 2004 that they were rather desperate to have resolved, and yet no one could come up with an answer.

Essentially the problem boils down to sub-standard performance from the system, which is painfully noticeable at boot time when the system has a lot of disk activity. The reason why this happens is because Windows gets confused with the BIOS/Chipset firmware disk access mode instructions, cannot safely assume it can use Direct Memory Access for data transfer and so gets locked into the processor intensive PIO (mode 4) to do anything.

As usual, this is the result of a badly written set of BIOS firmware.

The Fix:

The 2200T uses an anarchic Phoenix core (1.00.03 10/22/97) with the usual set of extensions to make the modern hardware interconnects work correctly. Before continuing you need to ensure that the Firmware build for the BIOS (this isn’t the core 1997 date) is at the highest possible level; this I believe to be 1.17 built on 28/10/2002.

I am also aware that there is a 1.00.04 core version available in some quarters. I am not able to state the impact of any of these changes on this core. I provide no support or warranty for using the BIOS files below. User them at Your Own Risk.

Version Date Changelog

07/09/2001

27/09/2001

20/11/2001

1. Recognize PIII 1.13GHz CPU (Tualatin core).
2. Support system memory up to 1GB.

30/01/2002

21/03/2002

1. Solve the error message under Windows XP event viewer.

17/05/2002

1. Support “Fn+F6” function key for some NON DDC external display device.

28/10/2002

1. Fix the CD-ROM boot failed sometimes problem for TEAC DW-28E and Samsung SN-608.

Windows Registry Fix:

If you reinstall your system at this point, you may have an XP compatible BIOS, however it will still come up in PIO mode 4. It is SIS who actually came up with a solution for this problem, which is known under Windows 2000 on the iS530/620/630/540 chipset’s.

The fix dupes Windows 2000/XP into using UDMA on the hard disk channels. It isn’t what I would call an ideal solution, however it does at least get the computer moving again.

You can download the SIS DMA fix here: dmapatch.zip (67KB)
All the program is doing is making registry changes on the system. Once you have run the .exe you need to restart the computer before it will come up using DMA.

 

Flash Utility OEM String Syntax:

The information below has been placed here for reference purposes and is not directly related to the Fix.

FP /N=OEMName[,HotlineNo] BIOSFileName
or
FP /O=OEMName[,HotlineNo] BIOSFileName

Note :

  1. The maximum length of OEMName is 16.
  2. The OEMName is case sensitive.
  3. The system manufacturer name read from DMI BIOS interface is OEMName padded with blanks(ASCII 20h) and the length of OEMName+blanks is 16.
  4. If you need space character for OEMName and HotlineNo, Replace it with a special character “^”.
  5. After flash the BIOS, turn power off and turn it on, then you can see the OEMName by using the DEBUG command as following :
    DEBUG
    -D F000:1C00
  6. Some valid examples:
    a.The hotline number for “Test Computer” company is
    123 4567 890. Then the usage for FP is as following:FP /N=Test^Computer,123^4567^890 BIOS.BIN

    b.The hotline number for “MyComputer” company is
    123-4567-890. Then the usage for FP is as following :

    FP /N=MyComputer,123-4567-890 BIOS.BIN

    c.To disable OEMName and HotlineNo : (FP v1.41 or later)

    FP /N=KAPOK,KAPOK BIOS.BIN

  7. /O option will disable the OEMName string display during BIOS POST.

Using the NetGear PS101 Mini Print Server without using NetGear Software utilities

System Requirements:

  • NetGear PS101
  • Windows 2000, XP, 2003

The Problem:

NetGear’s hardware can be small and functional, however as with (in my experience) most hardware companies, they cannot write software to save their life – and in a lot of cases when the OS has the capabilities built in, why on earth do these companies feel the need to duplicate functionality, making their hardware difficult to port up to the next version of Windows, once their application ceases working? Let us face it, it just extends their support burden and forces consumers to upgrade to a new product… oh…

The Fix:

When all is said and done, irrespective of what NetGear say, there are Print server standards, and going off to write your own protocol would just be silly. All their PS101 interface application does is provide an incredibly un intuitive, rather messy system to install printer drivers against the Print Server.

You can configure the device just as easily in a manual mode, and chances are you’ll be able to follow this principles of this guide under Linux, Unix, Windows Vista, Windows NT 7, NT 8, NT 9… well, you get the idea.

What you need to know:

Unlike the NetGear application, Windows wont go and probe your network for the PS101, you have to get hold of it yourself and configure it yourself. To do that you need a couple of pieces of information.

  • The IP address of your PS101 – Ask your router, network admin etc)
  • The Device Name of your PS101 – This is on a sticker on the base plate of the PS101, beneath the Serial Number and above the MAC address, or,once you know the IP address by accessing the web configuration in your web browser http://ip.add.re.ss/.
    Note: If you have manually changed the device name, you will NEED to get it from the web configuration program

Before you head off to begin installing your Print Server, I recommend that you ensure your device is running the latest firmware version, these can be obtained from the NetGear support site.

Once you have those two pieces of information and the correct firmware, you are ready to install the PS101. The following steps are written around Windows XP, the process and procedures are similar, if not the same under Windows 2000 and 2003. Other OS’s and Windows versions may vary. Please be aware that you cannot do this under Windows 9x without third party utilities.

  1. Open Printers and Faxes
  2. Double click Add Printer
  3. Select Local Printer and deselect the Automatically detect and install my Plug and Play printer. Click Next
  4. Highlight Create new Port and from the drop box select Standard TCP/IP Port
  5. Click Next to begin the Port wizard
  6. In the Printer Name or IP Address field type the full IP address of your Printer
    e.g. 192.168.0.200
  7. In the Port Name box type the device name of your PS101 suffixed by _P1
    For example, if your device name is PS380460, your Port Name would be PS380460_P1
  8. Click Next, highlight the Custom radio button and click Settings…
  9. The protocol should be set to RAW and the port to 9100. SNMP should remain disabled. Click OK and finish the wizard
  10. After a slight processing pause, Windows will display the Printer driver selection screen. From this point on, simply install your printer as normal.