Archive for the 'drivers' Category

Solved: “Bluebirds” installer on LG GH22NS50 DVD-RW

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

LG GH22NS50 DVD-RW. LG GH22NS50 sticker.

This is the LG GH22NS50. We’ve started stocking these at work – just the next low-cost SATA burner option for us. Except it comes with a nasty surprise, and that surprise is Bluebirds.

Bluebirds 'disc' shown in My Computer.

It’s some kind of drag-to-disc software included with the drive. Not on a CD, of course; it’s hacked into the drive’s firmware, and shows up when there’s no disc in the drive at all. Which means that every time you close the tray with nothing in it, you get prompted to install it, thanks to Windows helpfully autorunning it.

It’s not really a malicious program. It just sits in your system tray until you close it or uninstall it (Control Panel -> Add/remove programs, in XP). It’s probably even helpful, for the few people who let it sit around long enough to find out. I haven’t seen anyone do that yet.

Way to go, LG; not only does your drive automatically try to install an unwanted program on your customers’ computers, but you’ve changed a fundamental thing about how CD drives work: If there’s no disc in the drive, it should be empty and that’s the end of it. You’ve changed how it behaves, and that fills us with false and misleading knowledge.

It’s as bad as when ISPs used to rebrand Internet Explorer as being “provided by [some telco]“; none of my customers could ever understand that IE was just a program on their computer and nothing to do with their ISP.

Anyway, the fellow who started this forum thread has the solution – there’s a firmware update for the drive that removes the Bluebirds installer, along with the fake disc-in-drive thing. Not to steal his thunder or anything, but I wanted to complain too. :)

Firmware update for LG burner.

The firmware updater orders you to remove the disc from the drive before running the firmware update, which is the most passive-aggressive thing I’ve ever seen a PC program do. You have to eject the drive and let it sit there poking its tongue out for 30 seconds while you erase the Bluebirds part of its brain.

I’ve uploaded the program to my /static/ folder, so there’s another place on the internet for it to be found:

You might want to read that forum thread anyway. The utter lack of official information from LG about this is disturbing.

Obviously this just removes the installer and auto-runner from the drive; if you’ve clicked yes to install it, you’ll have to uninstall it from your computer as well. I don’t recall seeing it in Control Panel; there’s a link in the Bluebirds folder in your Start Menu to get rid of it.

Update 30/9/09: There’s a separate version for the Lightscribe-enabled GH22LS50; that can be found here:

LN01 firmware update for LG GH22LS50 (Lightscribe) DVD-RW: http://tim.id.au/static/GH22LS50_TL01.exe (2MB)

Update 7/1/10: A few commenters here run Linux or BSD or something else that isn’t Windows; I don’t currently have a practical way to experiment with it myself, but one commenter successfully reflashed his drive using Crossover Linux. They offer a fully-functional 30 day trial here, and I recommend trying that if you possibly can.

If you seriously have no way of flashing it yourself though, any little PC shop ought to be able to do it for you for a small fee – if you visit the place you originally bought it from they may do it for free if you complain logically enough. At my work we pre-emptively reflash the drives before they go out because we couldn’t stand the thought of selling them with the Bluebirds crap still in them.

Update 23/5/10: A commenter has informed me of the new 02 version of the firmware for both of these drives. It took me a good 30 minutes to track down both of them, thanks to every region-localised website LG operates containing the full product page of each and every product they’ve ever made, but the respective support pages only showing the products most relevant to that region. I still have no idea where the Lightscribe version of this drive is meant to have been sold, but it’s sure not any country I’ve heard of.

Anyway – well-deserved plug here for Firmware HQ. If only companies would properly support their own products, we wouldn’t be so utterly reliant on the goodwill of sites like that. The Lx02 firmware apparently adds support for Windows 7, although I don’t recall having problems with it at work…

LN02 firmware for GH22NS50: http://tim.id.au/static/GH22NS50_TN02.exe (2MB)

LS02 firmware for GH22LS50 (Lightscribe): http://tim.id.au/static/GH22LS50_TL02.exe (2MB)

Howto: Find drivers for XP on new laptops

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

This is increasingly becoming a common situation: You’ve got a brand new laptop, it’s got Vista, it runs like a dog, and you want XP on it instead. You’ve got a spare copy of XP – for one reason or another – and you’d like to install it.

Here’s the catch: Tons of new hardware is being brought out without drivers being written for Windows XP, and laptops are just full of it.

Case in point: an HP dv6836TX, which a customer recently brought in to have XP loaded on it. HP do not provide XP drivers for all of its hardware, only some of it, and it took me a good half a day to find everything. Software for the card reader – a Ricoh R5C822  – came from a similarly-specced Dell Inspiron 1525. The onboard LAN pretended to be a Realtek 8139, which XP has drivers for, but those drivers actually hung the system; it’s actually an RTL8102E, or something like that.

The simplest way to identify hardware in a computer is to run a program that looks at all the individual devices, matches them up to a big list of vendor and device IDs, and tells you who made each thing and roughly what it’s supposed to do. 99% of the time at work, we use Everest for that, which isn’t a free program but the trial version is perfectly capable of IDing hardware.

The graphics gave me the biggest headache by a long shot. NVidia do host drivers for laptop chipsets now, but because HP (and practically every other laptop maker…) subtlely customise their hardware, NV’s software for the 8400M GS failed to see any compatible hardware, and flat refused to install.

It’s the most frustrating kind of incompatibility: it comes down to one little text file missing one little line with some numbers in it, the result of which is that you’re completely dependent on your computer manufacturer for software updates.

Or, to put it another way: You’re not. I mention laptopvideo2go.com in passing on my driver guide, but today they deserve some serious recognition. These guys collect those little lines from all the laptops they and their friends can find, and put them all in one big text file – the .inf file, which lists all the hardware a driver is compatible with – so that NVidia’s own drivers will recognise NVidia’s own hardware.

It’s a bit tricky to do – their site is a little confusing in places, and financially supported by well-placed driver-promising ads where necessary – but their forum is run by human beings, and anybody even slightly technically minded ought to be able to figure it out.

I managed to, and that 6836TX went home running XP like a champ.

Mapping your network with Windows 7

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

Link Layer Topology Discovery first appeared when Windows Vista came out in 2006, but wasn’t very exciting back then, as most people playing with Vista had existing home networks full of XP, which doesn’t support LLTD by default. Now, though, with Vista machines more common and regular people up to testing Windows 7, it’s becoming more than just a curiosity: it actually works now.

networkmap

This is Windows 7′s network mapper in action at a recent LAN gathering. C7 and Pitchblack aren’t shown in the map; those PCs were running Windows XP and Ubuntu Linux respectively, both of which need a little tweaking to show up properly in Vista/7′s network mapper.

Read the rest of this entry »

the coolest 3G problem ever

Monday, September 1st, 2008

3G modems – those little white USB bubbles – are well-designed things. They don’t give you a long enough USB cable to make data/power loss an issue, they don’t get ridiculously hot on your leg, and they generally just work.

The coolest part by far is how they detect as a device – they show up as USB mass storage, basically an inbuilt flashdrive, from which you can install all the software you need to use it as a modem. Once the drivers are installed, they re-detect and bring up the modem as a device as well. Hundreds of different devices would be improved by supplying drivers this way; it’s brilliant and elegant and fool-proof.

Well, nearly. A guy brought his PC in today, and presented me with the following error message:

Not actually having been given the error number it mentions, I was left in the dark; this would pop up about 10 seconds after trying to dial the ISP with the thing, and of course there was no net access afterwards. Being told about a closed port was an annoying red herring – I wish people designed error messages with their mothers in mind as the target user.

I was actually trawling through his BIOS settings for the fix to an unrelated problem when I saw someone’d turned off Plug and Play support for compatible operating systems. Windows XP, of course, supports this readily, so I flicked it back on and that was that – the modem started working.

Our current theory is that it requires PnP to do the device detection trick, which is perfectly fine unless you let your niece mess with the computer. So don’t do that.

i have found the perfect aftermarket bluetooth adapter.

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

The world of Bluetooth radios for computers are, as far as I’m concerned, a wretched hive of scum and villainy when it comes to quality, compatibility and honesty. USB Bluetooth adapters are exactly the kind of merchandise that comes from Asia and floods the market with bizarre variations.

The problems are numerous. You need specific, proprietary driver and software packs to use the things, they won’t exactly conform to standards, they’ll use weaselly words on their packaging to puff up their apparent feature lists, it’ll randomly not work with some devices or some operating systems, it’ll overheat and have to be unplugged for 10 minutes every half hour, and most probably you paid $9 for it on eBay and it’s not worth the hassle to chase up a refund. Nice work, if you can get it.

And don’t think that by sticking to big brandnames you’ll get the best, either. I recently went to Officeworks and paid $35 of my glorious, hard-earned dollars for a USB bluetooth adapter purportedly made by Swann. I’ll tell you right now that this device is identical to the crappy ISSCBTA dongles, down to the supplied driver CD being a cheap CD-R some kid in a factory’s burned the same old software to.

You face the same problem with laptops. Don’t ever buy a new laptop without a factory-fitted internal Bluetooth adapter, because adding them after-market is just painful.

This colourful little dingus is an internal Bluetooth adapter for Dell Inspiron (and probably other) laptop computers. I did the stupid thing and bought it off eBay, and wound up with a device that Just Doesn’t Work.

I’m too embarassed and prideful to say how much I spent on it and the cable, or to get a proper quote from Dell for the same, guaranteed-to-work parts. I don’t need to, either, because I’ve found a bluetooth adapter that doesn’t completely suck.

Yup. It’s a tiny notch of plastic and electronics on the rear end of a USB plug. That’s an 80mm CD “single”, too, not a full 120mm 700MB job.

The box it came in says “HI-SPEED USB 2.0, CLASS 2 + EDR, RANGE 30 M”, which I think means it’s a long-range Bluetooth 1.1 device, not 2 (I’ll doublecheck and update this when I know for sure). I don’t care how fast it is or how far it can shout; I basically use it to copy the occasional photo off my phone and zip other files around when it’s too much of a hassle to find the right cable for a particular device.

Here’s the good thing though: It works out of the box on Windows XP and Vista. You don’t even need the driver CD, and you can use Windows’s own inbuilt Bluetooth software, which turns out to actually be quite excellent:

And here’s the punchline: It costs US$12 delivered anywhere in the world, from DealExtreme. They’re a weird bunch based in Hong Kong who sell all kinds of electronic crud cheaply with free postage, and unlike eBay actually CARE about what they’re selling. I’m not yet brave enough to buy an “iFone”, but for most things like memory cards and card readers and such they’re perfect.

There are slightly cheaper ones available, but I paid $12 instead of $9 for the smallest one possible. Here it is, plugged into my faithful old Inspiron:

It doesn’t stick out very far, and the plug is tight and holds on like crazy. It’s not going to fall off by itself, and as long as you don’t stuff the computer in your bag USB-side-down, you can basically leave it there forever. The only downside is the bright blue LED in it that flashes ceaselessly, but if that’s a problem, scribble over it with permanent marker or something.

Stop trying to find drivers for other adapters. Buy this one instead.

driver guide and site updates

Friday, April 25th, 2008
  • Some huge additions to the driver guide today, including new sections for video, TV and dialup modem drivers. I’ve also added the ATi HDMI audio driver, and all my mirrored Realtek audio drivers are now the latest versions (they should be available for download from my mirror shortly, they’re going to spend the whole night uploading :-().
  • The other day I remembered I’d signed up for Google Analytics ages ago, and went and checked out the numbers. My pokey little one-year-old blog is currently getting almost a thousand hits every month, about half of which end up on either my driver guide or that single post about bluetooth drivers. You rock, internet. Thankyou for your support, everyone who reads this!
  • I swear it’s a complete accident that I’ve posted on the 4th, 9th, 16th and 25th of this month. People do.

in which i start doing the driver blogging thing properly

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

Instead of blogging about every single driver I find, I’ve started a proper page to contain all of it. If you happen to find it useful as it grows ever larger, feel free to link to it/tell people about it/help me with it. I want to do some good with it, and I need all of you for that :)

drivers for ISSCBTA bluetooth radio in XP

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

Update: I’ve since moved on and started a proper driver guide, including a bit more background info on this device, here: http://www.tim.id.au/blog/?page_id=121. I’ll leave this page here, but check out the new one too.


Do you have one of these?

I bought one on eBay about 6 months ago, and promptly lost the driver CD that came with it. It actually works out of the box on the latest Ubuntu Linux, but I’ve been completely stuck for Windows support for ages.

Windows XP detects it as an “ISSCBTA”, possibly the least helpful device name I’ve ever seen, and doesn’t know about drivers for it. There’s a driver for Vista on Windows Update, but as far as I can tell that one’s completely broken and useless.

A guy in this thread made an image of the original driver disc and put it up on rapidshare. For the sake of posterity I’m mirroring it here: http://www.tim.id.au/static/isscbta.zip (13MB!)

I’ve repackaged it in just a zip file, not an ISO in a RAR, so you can just extract it to a folder and run setup.exe without mounting or burning it.

The included software is weird, but functional:

You’ll probably want to remove it from startup items in the start menu too.