Category: Story

Troubleshooting Windows Networking

Ok, ok. What’s a Windows article doing on a Linux blog? Well, I wanted to help a friend with a networking issue, and I thought maybe someone else might find it helpful as well. Every Linux user will end out running into Windows at some point anyway either through a remote desktop or virtual machine, so maybe it’s not too far off topic.

If you see something that I missed or a different approach to the problem, please comment below.

Here’s the issue … a friend’s computer connects to the wireless at their house but doesn’t have Internet. Other devices in their house connect, so it leads me to believe that the router is working although it could be an issue with DHCP and the other devices don’t need to renew their IP address. But, the laptop doesn’t work at their friend’s house. That makes me think that the problem is mostly with the laptop itself.

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Paychex Tests Patience

I’m not sure what to file this under, but someone needs to know and change this.  Paychex just crossed the line for this end user!  I hope that my software development skills never stoop this low.

I enter time into the Paychex website on a weekly basis, or at least I am supposed to.  The entry page has no totals, so there’s no way to make sure that everything adds up when I get done entering.  The way the web page works is like a website from the 90’s in my opinion.  I had to write a Tampermonkey script just to make the page usable for me.  That right there should be a sign that something is not right.

This week, everything quit working.  I could log in, but before I could get very far, I would get this message:

Web Server Security Alert

This website uses special security software that monitors suspicious network traffic and behavior. If you feel that you have caused this security error unintentionally, please contact our Customer Service Center at the address below and be sure to include all the information below in your message.

Email contact:
Reference ID:  20150618USTXFA46
Date and Time:  Thu Jun 18 2015 17:28:21 GMT-0500 (CDT).
Web Browser Information:  5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/43.0.2357.125 Safari/537.36



I started troubleshooting by turning off my tampermonkey script.  I even completely disabled the extension.  No luck.  I rebooted the PC and tried several times during the day to make sure it wasn’t a bandwidth issue.

I noticed several of the images on the page were not loading.  So, I popped open the console, and saw all of these errors:

Failed to load resource: the server responded with a status of 406 (Not Acceptable)

Finally, I emailed the address in the original error message.  No response came in the next day or two, and I was told to call 1-877-281-6624 .  Apparently, that was the wrong number, and I was forwarded to 888 246 7500 as the Time and Labor technical support line.

Paychex support’s solution was to clear cache, clear browser history, install the latest version of flash, and add their 5 sites as trusted sites.  That was no help for a Ubuntu user.  Their end solution was since it works in Firefox, I still have a way to enter time, so that’s good enough.

So, I don’t know if this was a Chrome on Ubuntu issue or an issue with the network.  It’s got to be something like that because I seemed the only one affected.

The final straw for me was when I asked about not getting a response back to my email.  “Oh, that email address is no good.”  It’ was almost like “duh, what are you thinking”.  I don’t remember a sorry or anything like that, but maybe I was just upset and missed it.

So, here’s my rant:

  • Why do I have to write my own code in a Tampermonkey script to total the hours?
  • Why do they use flash?  It’s not like the site looks fancy or does any cool features like remote desktop sharing.  It’s just as basic as you get: type some numbers in some fields and hit submit.
  • Why do I have to enter 4 codes for each time that I enter?
  • Why do they have 5 different host names?
  • Why does their error message tell you to email some address that doesn’t work (doesn’t send a reply back, just goes into a black hole)?

Ok, I’m done.  Be warned: if you pick Paychex, your end users won’t like it.  Hopefully, Paychex will wake up and fix things.

Update: It’s beginning to look like Paychex just does not support Linux.  They require Flash.  Adobe says that it doesn’t support Linux anymore.  Also, it is not an issue with the hotel network that I was using.  I am getting the same errors on my home network.

Rant: Switching from Ubuntu to Fedora

Ok, I’ve had it with Ubuntu.  Well, for now at least.  I would like to eventually switch back and forth to get the greatest exposure.  But, for now, goodbye Ubuntu (11.04)!  Hello, Fedora 15.

It all started with Java problems.  I have a little time tracker tool that I use to track my billable time at work.  It is pretty ugly, but for me, it is critical — I use it to bill my time.  Tuesday, I started noticing the program crashing with X errors.  To attempt a fix, I tried to upgrade my video driver (Intel) to the latest version.  I tried several PPA repositories, but none of them seemed to work for me.  Finally, I ended up at the EMGD site.  I am still not sure if that driver was compatible with my laptop, but I was desparate and frustrated!  Somehow I got part of the packages installed, and I didn’t get the main EMGD installed.  I ran the “sudo emgd-xorg-conf” command, and that is where I lost it.  My X wouldn’t start; dhclient wouldn’t even connect my eth0.  That was the last straw.

Another issue probably lead up to this problem.  A week prior, I had attempted to copy a Tape to CD by running an audio cable from my tape player to my microphone jack on my computer.  I used Audacity to record.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t record anything via the microphone jack.  No matter what I tried, it only recorded from the built-in microphone.  I tried again to upgrade Pulse Audio with another PPA, but that didn’t help.

So, here’s what I have learned from Fedora in the first few hours:

  • I know now why I have stuck with Ubuntu for so long!  Ubuntu is just so much easier to get up and running quickly.  Command-line is avaliable, but not required.
  • Broadcom Wireless: In Ubuntu 11.04, I just enabled the STA driver in “Additional Drivers”.  I don’t think I have even had to connect the laptop to the wired connection to download it.  In Fedora, I had to install two repositories (easily done from the browser).  Then, I ran a yum command from the terminal to install the driver.  Finally, I had to reboot.  Fedora’s instructions were very easily to follow, but comparing the two, Ubuntu wins hands down.
  • Libre Office: Where is it,  Fedora?  The first thing I do, is create a document and track all the changes I make to the installation so I can do it again on the next release.  To my surprise, Fedora didn’t have Libre Office (or, any Document tool for that matter) installed by default.  Furthermore, when I went to Add/Remove Software, there were tons of packages.  I didn’t see a Meta package that would install a default set of packages.  There was an Office package collection, but it said it was already installed.  I ended up installing the package collection from the command line, and that did the trick.
  • Is RPM/Yum Slow?  I haven’t done any comparisons or anything like that, but for some reason, the packages seem to install much slower in Fedora than Ubuntu.  It may just be because I am ready to get working on my new install, but even individual package installs seem to take a while.
  • Gnome 3.0 versus Unity: it will take some time to form a good opinion.  I am glad for the chance to compare.

Hopefully, you will hear from me more as I get to installing and configuring more.  Stay tuned…

Returning the Laptop

If you haven’t followed the story, my laptop called it quits on me, and I made the mistake of buying another HP Laptop. The HP had problems written all over it, and the best choice would be to return it to the Circuit City.

I was kind of in a rush since I had a business trip the next week. If I waited until after the business trip, it would be too late. Also, I needed a laptop for the business trip, so I had

to both return the laptop and replace it all in a matter of days.

I returned the laptop to Circuit City during a lunch break, and it took a lot longer than I expected, although most of it was driving time. I think that is why I wasn’t more cautious like I should have been.

When I got to the store, the clerk told me that I had to exchange the laptop for the exact same model or pay a restocking fee. The restocking fee was quit expensive, but I was also very upset with HP. So, I opted to pay the restocking fee, and didn’t have time to argue. I did ask several times if it had to be the same model and if there was any way to get around the fee since it was defective. No luck!

I called both the store and the Circuit City head quarters, but neither helped. They told me that I could have exchanged it for any laptop of equal or higher price. I would have done that had I known I didn’t have to get the same model, but I had already bought one from Comp USA when they told me.

Bottom line, I will check into the restocking fee better next time I buy something. I don’t think I will buy from Circuit City again either.

My Last HP Computer

I don’t think I will ever buy a Hewlett-Packard again!

After looking around, I decided on an HP laptop that I found at Circuit City. It was fully featured, but at the same time the price was very reasonable.

The model: dv9010us

The outside was sleek and shiny, and it just looked impressive. I really liked the bright shiny 17″ screen and the keyboard with the 10-key. I was a little apprehensive about buying another HP after mine just quit on me, but after all, mine was 2 years old. I also noticed that they had moved the power connection from the back to the side. Maybe it was improved to avoid issues like my old one.

Everything was great until I started using the CD burner. Of course, with new laptops, you don’t get any hard copies of the software; you have to burn backup DVDs just in case. The first DVD burned just fine with no problem at all. The second one did not! The first try failed part way through leaving me with a coaster. The second try, the same thing happend. The third left me with three wasted DVDs and no alternative.

So, I called HP technical support, and talked to a very nice representative. Although he tried to sell me the extra warranty, he also helped me with my problem. He logged into my computer and watched me try it again. Of course, it worked for him with no special tricks.

Next, of course, I tried to install Linux. I downloaded the 6 CDs for Fedora and attempted to burn them. But, I could not, for the life of me, get the first one to burn. The computer came with Sonic, which was easy enough to use. I double clicked on the iso file, and then, told it to burn the CD. After the first one failed, I changed the maximum speed to 16x. But, again it failed.

So, back to HP support I went. The person had me right click on the CD drive in My Computer and check to make sure that CD burning was enabled. It was — no fix. Then, she had me check the services panel to see if the “IMAPI CD-Burning COM Service” was running. Before I could check it out, I received an important phone call, and I had to tell her that I would call her back. None of the technicians that I would talk to later knew anything about the service that she had me look at.

The next person’s conclusion was that my media was bad. I had used that batch of CDs in my old laptop with no problem. They were 52x Memorex CDRs. But, the technician claimed that you could only use HP or Sony CDs with the CD burner.

So, off to the store I went to get some CDs. I was low on time, and Walmart was the only thing I could get to during my lunch break. The only Sony CDs they had were CD-RW, which actually was great since I would not have to waste the CDs each time I tried.

The next technician walked me through burning just a basic CD with some pictures on it. Of course, it worked for her! I later determined that it was probably because the CD was not very full. I had trouble later when I tried to burn a CD to backup the all pictures on the laptop including the ones the technician tried. The complete set of pictures almost filled up the CD and did not successfully burn. That technician’s conclusion was that I needed to pay extra for the next level of support so that I could have someone teach me how to burn a CD. I asked to talk to a manager, and had to press the issue. We conveniently got disconnected when she tried to transfer me.

I called back to talk to the next technician and immediately asked for a manager. This technician insisted that he could help. He offered several suggestions that would just prolong the pain. His last suggestion was to restore the laptop back to factory settings. I, of course, had a few things to save before I could even attempt that. He also said that if it did not work he could send me a new CD drive in the mail. But, the drive would not get there for 2-3 business days, and I would be gone on a business trip. When I got back from the business trip, it would be too late to return the laptop to Circuit City.

Final conclusion, return the laptop. Even if I did get a new CD Drive, it would probably be refurbished. Would it work? Was the CD Drive the problem? Could it be the mother board or the hard drive? I did not want to spend the rest of the laptop’s life on the phone with HP.

The technicians were probably the main reason I felt I needed to return the laptop. While they said they could fix the problem, they were not convincing. They retried things that a previous technician had already tried. If they were purposely double checking the result, they did not give me any indication. None of them seemed to know what an “ISO” file was — they only knew how to burn pictures or documents. Finally, while the one technicians insisted that they had a process that they had to go through, I could see no pattern or process in the things they were trying. They did not listen very well and were very quick to jump to the conclusion that I was doing something wrong whether it be what I was doing or the media I was using.

So, I don’t plan on buying another HP any time soon.

The Beginning

The genesis of this blog is a crashed laptop and a new laptop. This blog will tell the stories of getting Linux to work on the new laptop.

Hopefully, my struggle will help others who might follow in my foot steps.

Here is what happened:

Two years ago, I purchased a new laptop as a Christmas present from my wife. We kind of found the breaking point in the price and bought a nice HP laptop. It was rather large and heavy, but that was okay. It met all of my needs.

During its life, the laptop only had a few issues. Not too long after I got the laptop, the battery went out. I happened to be on a business trip, and after spending a while on the telephone, HP finally sent me a new battery to the hotel, and it worked fine ever since.

After the warranty expired my dogs stepped on the keyboard and popped the cover off of the O key. You never know how many words have O in them until you can’t properly press the O key. I took the laptop to Best Buy, and while they said they weren’t supposed to, they tinkered with it until they were able to snap the key back into place.

The only other minor problem with the laptop was that at some point, the hinge on the screen cracked. You almost wouldn’t notice it except that sometimes it was hard to get the screen to stay at the angle that you wanted. So, it was no big deal.

But, then the power cord quit working. I left the laptop plugged in and on the counter. I came back latter only find it off, and the battery was dead. The first time I thought was a fluke, but it began to happen more and more often. I would be working on it and notice that it was on battery power while I had it plugged in. I could just unplug it and plug it back in to get it to charge again. But, finally, the battery gave out. The battery would not charge, meaning that when it disconnected, the laptop turned off immediately.

I asked a few places including Best Buy, and they all wanted about $200 just to send the laptop off. None of them would work on the laptop in-house. Actually, while waiting in line, there was a lady in front of me with a different HP model that had the exact same problem. The $200 was too much for me to pay for a 2-year old laptop, especially when that did not guarantee that it would be fixed.

And so, the saga begins