Sunday, August 15, 2010

Making a VCDS inferface work

While I'm in the mood for posting solutions to technical problems, here's another. I have a OBD interface cable for my VW Bora so that I can run a piece of software called VCDS (sometimes known as VAG-COM) and read the error codes from my car's ECU. However, when I plug in the cable (it's the USB version), it is usually assigned to COM7. Unfortunately, the VCDS programme only supports COM1-4.

Weirdly, the solution for me is to plug the cable in and run VCDS settings. If I choose COM3 then it successfully detects a COM port - I think it's used by the built in model. I save the settings, and then bring up the Device Manager and change the port used by the interface cable to COM3. It says the port is already in use, but lets you change it anyway. Then I just use the VCDS software and it works. This seems completely wrong, and to be honest, I'm sure there's probably a better way of doing it than this, but at least it works.

Disabling the buzz

I just installed openSUSE 11.3 on my desktop computer, and I have to say it's pretty much awesome. Almost everything has worked straight out of the box, including my Wacom graphics tablet and my wireless card. One thing that's been annoying me is that whenever I make a mistake (such as trying to delete some text that isn't there), my computer makes the most almighty buzz. Or maybe it could be described as a belch. It's pretty horrible, however you describe it, and makes me jump out of my skin every time. I think it's supposed to be the System Bell.

I spent some time trying to work out how to stop this, and eventually managed to stop it by doing this: I opened up KMix, clicked on the 'Mixer' button to bring up the full mixer. The selected tab was HDA Intel, and I clicked on Settings > Configure Channels, and then dragged the item called 'Beep' from 'Available channels' to 'Visible channels' and clicked OK. Then I muted the Beep channel.

I just thought I'd post that in case anyone else has a similar problem and is searching for a solution some time in the future.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Activating Virgin Media Broadband on Linux

Yesterday I installed Virgin Media broadband at my new house. Virgin Media? Am I insane? Well, unfortunately my new house is 4.5km away from the exchange and the fastest ADSL connection is less than 2 Mbits, so Virgin was my only option. Anyway, I digress. The reason for the post is to help out any other Linux users who want to use Virgin Media.

When I plugged in the router and went to view a website on my computer, I was redirected to an activation page, where I had to enter my name and postcode and stuff like that. Except that the first page you go to checks to make sure you're running Windows or using a Mac. Thankfully, Konqueror and Opera both let me change my browser identification string so that Virgin's servers think I am using Windows. So far, so good. The next problem comes a few steps later when the 'Next' button doesn't respond. A quick view of the page's source shows that Virgin is trying to set the browser's homepage using some bad JavaScript. It also shows that after trying to do that, it was just going to redirect to another page anyway, so I was able to copy that URL into the address bar and carry on. I don't remember what the URL was, but if you look for the function called 'next()' in the source, you'll see it there. A few pages later it prompts you to download and install their special tools. There's no option to skip this, but if you click on 'Next', it starts the download and then goes onto the next page anyway. You can just ignore the download.

After all that, your connection should be activated. Mine was, anyway. Now I get about a 4 Mbit connection instead of the slow 2 Mbit ADSL connection. Which is still slow, considering Virgin Media advertise it as a 20 Mbit connection, but I wasn't expecting anything that good from Virgin Media. After all, they are just NTL with a new name.