PS-77CS Shredder

After around 7 or 8 years of some tough abuse and shredding my Fellowes PS-77CS Shredder has finally given up the ghost and failed on me.

The machine is getting power, but it doesn’t run the shredder motor. There are signs of power going to the device, because it detects win the bin is open and lights up the red light to say it’s open. The light goes off when you push in the Micro switch so this tells me the sensor circuit was working fine and the problem was more electrical as opposed to mechanical.

I did some dismantling of the actual equipment. Fairly simple, lift it up and remove about 10 screws. Open the lid then disconnect the wire attaching the motor to the PCB. I did a quick look around the circuit and couldn’t find any specific issues.

I finally identified the problem, I went to remove the PCB so I could look up the schematics and when removing it the transformer was literally hanging on a couple of threads of copper wire. So it came off easy enough (picture below)

DB-0812D Transformer

The busted transformer which failed. Also seems to be a common problem – not supposed to come off the circuit legs like that. It’s meant to be attached.

I decided to remove it, as it was evident to me the transformer is what caused the problem. For those who don’t know, a transformer receives an incoming voltage in a circuit and then alters it for the output side (either by increasing or decreasing it). In this case, it’s receiving an input voltage of ~220v and outputting it into ~15.6v from what I can find online (these are the specs). I’ve wrote them below if anyone finds them useful.

Input Voltage : 220V
Output Voltage : 15.6V / 15.6V
Dimensions ???? : 8*11 (On other sites, this number translates as “specification” – so I think it’s the size)
No Idea???? : 3+4 (On other sites, this translates as “stitch / work type” – not sure if this means the number of pins)

Now, when researching online, it seems these transformers are commonly fitted to the Fellowes shredder models and seem to be the weak point of them. The point of failure is usually when the shredder falls over or gets banged about a bit. The transformer / PCB are mounted upside down in the shredder motor. So if the unit falls over it can damage it. Essentially it’s dangling on it’s own internals.

A common fix suggested by one user seems to be fitting an M2730 transformer, which is slightly bigger then hot glue it in place so it doesn’t damage it if it falls. I looked up this product and unfortunately it’s a discontinued product. So I may try places like eBay or Farnells/CPC in the UK to try and source one.

In the meantime I have emailed Customer Support at Fellowes to see if they stock spares. I’m more than happy to fit the equipment myself to get it up and working again. Failing that I’ll source one online if they cannot supply. The equipment by Fellowes is amazing. It’s stood up to some tough abuse from myself, but I’d rather not pay £100 for a new shredder if I can fix it myself for around £20

I’ll update this post as I go, hope some of you find it useful and helps you on your quest with your Fellows PS-77CS Shredder or others.

PS : If your from Fellowes, I’ll happily receive a new shredder from you if you offer me one. I wouldn’t complain 🙂

Views – 1776

Paypal Scam Emails

Every now and then, you get the occasional idiot who tries to scam some poor user out of their account information by showing information affiliated to the company in question

I received an email from “Paypal” support

I already knew it was dubious from experience, but decided to carefully investigate it. The user in question owned a website (hosted by godaddy) and had a blog with a purposely hidden upload link with a redirect onto a fake paypal login

They’re getting smarter and smarter, but when displaying links to unknown pages, always hover your mouse over them and check out the address first. It should always match the domain where it’s coming from

Needless to say I hate scammers. So I reported the domain abuse to godaddy and rackspace, and I’ll also be reporting them to paypay, eBay and the local authorities

Views – 977

Electronic Payslips

Recently I’ve been having problems where I work regarding my pay. As such I’m constantly digging around for my old payslips. After long and hard looking for them I finally got sick and decided to make good use of the scanner I had lying around home and convert all my paper ones to electronic payslips.

Not only can I scan them into an electronic format, it means that with electronic payslips, I can also create my own archiving system for storing my information at a glance. This makes them easier to find, and I know should I need important information it is there straight away.

It’s a slow process, but something I’ll only need to do the once. The benefit is when it’s converted, I’ll be able to input all my salary details into a sheet straight away. Open them up or send on information as requested.

I’m also making good use of my printer which rarely gets used anyway. Now I can scan them and put them somewhere where I’ll forget them. The only important thing I’ll need now will be a secure USB pen to store them on like the datAshur which I will be buying next.

 

Consider doing it yourself, work smarter, not harder..

Views – 963

iStorage datAshur SSD now FIPS Certified

I received an automated email as I’m subscribed to newsletters from datAshur to inform me that their current USB pen is now certified to FIPS Level 3

FIPS is a military grade encryption system which is certified by the US Government. For a manufacturer to achieve this level of security with their USB pens is great, as it means their tech is highly secure and minimises the risk of confidential information falling into the wrong hands

Here is the essential information on the PEN:

The datAshur SSD has been certified as FIPS 140-2 Level 3 having undergone the process of validation to meet the U.S. government standards for information technology and computer security. NIST FIPS 140 is the cryptography standard program required by the US federal government for protection of sensitive data.

The datAshur SSD’s FIPS 140-2 validation covers 11 areas of its cryptographic security system, including physical security, cryptographic key management and design integrity. Available in four levels, the datAshur SSD’s FIPS 140-2 Level 3 certification encompasses both the datAshur SSD’s physical tamper-resistant features as well as its identity-based authentication. View the FIPS 140-2 Level 3 certificate here.

Military Grade XTS AES 256-bit Hardware Encryption
PIN Activated 7-16 Digits – Alphanumeric keypad use a memorable number or word for your PIN
OS & Platform independent – compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome, Android, Thin Clients
and Embedded Systems
Super-fast USB 3.0 – up to 195MB/sec read and 162MB/sec write
FIPS 140-2 Level 3 Certified
IP58 Certified – dust and water resistant
Capacities – 30GB, 60GB, 120GB & 240GB

I myself will be getting one of the datAshur pens because I love them, you can also buy one from their website

Views – 854

Limited Company Checklist

OK, this will be an ongoing post which I’m updating as I go along after starting up my new LTD company (TYNEWEARTECH LTD) giving advice for anyone else wanting to go the same route as I did without going self employed. Personally speaking I should really have gone self-employed and then did a self-assessment each year until I was fully established. I however wanted the company number so I could come across as more professional in image. I also wanted the company to be separate to keep my accounting simpler.

If there are errors found in this document, please feel free to highlight them to me. I am not an accountant I am a first time business owner. This is something I’m using to advice for questions and confusing things I encountered when I was first registering the business starting up

There are companies which do this all for you for around £125, and to be fair, the headache I had it’s probably an option if you have the money. I wanted to do it with as little as possible however so did everything myself.

Things you should consider as part of a Limited Company Checklist when you are starting up and the reasons why I consider them: – I have also listed the order I’d personally do them. So everything is setup (before hand)

  • Branding
  • Accounts & Finances
  • Business Insurance
  • Financial Software
  • Business Incorporation
    • Companies House Registration
    • Corporation Tax Registration
    • PAYE for Employers Registation

1a) Branding

With social media popular these days and all the rage, have you thought about consistent branding. It makes it easier for your customers to find you if all your pages had the same name. It took me a while to find the business name I wanted. I originally had another name planned, but the domain name was taken, so had to adapt and improvise until I finally settled on one.

You need to consider your business model, I didn’t personally want to have a lot of social media pages as I have a business to run, but I wanted enough social networks so that I could get adequate coverage. In the end I settled for social network branding pages covering what I deemed the important sites and ones which I would be using the most.

(Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Google+, eBay, Amazon)

I didn’t bother registering my domain name against a .com address, since I am UK based I have no interest for commercial branding. Although I may secure the domain for a later date. I made sure these were all available at first, by using sites which can check for branding across multiple networks. You can find these at sites such as knowem.com username checkers

 

1b) Business Incorporation

The first thing you will need to do when you register a limited company before you can start trading is register you business name with companies house this is so you are officially recognised as a company and will be treat as such. It also does a couple of additional things which are required for the business. When your business is being registered, you need to provide a one time payment fee of £15 to companies house to start-up your business. After you have successfully met all the requirements for starting up a business. When you have filled in your company date it will be submitted to HMRC. After a few days, you will receive a confirmation the business has been registered with them giving you details of your date of incorporation and also your all important company number

1c/1d) Corporation TAX and PAYE for Employers Registration

The problem you have when you are a limited company; is that you can’t just withdraw money from a business bank account and pay yourself when you feel like it as you could when self employed. When self employed it’s easy, all you do is a basic self-assessment every year showing your income / outgoings and as long as it’s listed properly it’s OK.

When you start up a LTD company, the business is a seperate entity. Which means even if you are a single person company, you have to register for TAX/PAYE because you need to pay yourself as an employee of your own company.

There are multiple methods to do this, I won’t go into detail in the exact steps but make good use of the GOV.UK website because it gives you all the information you need when doing so. Basically you log in and tick the check boxes for services you want.

Once your information is submitted, you will then be sent two letters within 10 days

CT41G -This contains your company UTR code (needed for Corporation Tax)

HMRC PAYE Form – This contains your payroll code to pay employees

You can’t do one without the other, once you have both, you can supply information to your payroll software and then generate payslips / make payments to your employees via RTI submissions.

Additional Services

  • Activation Code (PAYE for Employers) – you will need to logon to Government Gateway to activate your PAYE service, other wise you will need to re register again. It uses the same details as the HMRC information

Views – 1171

Playstation 3 – Overheating – Flashing Red Light

I was recently asked by someone to look at a PS3 fault. Their childs PS3 wasn’t booting up and they couldn’t eject a CD. Playstation and XBOX consoles suffer from infamous Red Light of Death (RLOD) and Yellow Light of Death (YLOD)

This specific Playstation had the RLOD, when booting up, it would quickly have some HDD activity and then it would shutdown and 3 Red Lights would flash on the console

This is a common issue where the console shuts down to protect itself because of an overheating issue. The processors and connected to the motherboard by a BGA array. A large amount of small solder balls which heat up oven time and solder cracks. This builds up temperature, drying out the chips and thermal paste causing the consoles to shut down to protect themselves

I documented a video of the repair on a Youtube video which you can watch

I had never actually carried out a console repair before, so when I was finished I actually had 2 screws left over. Still haven’t worked out where these were from, so if I ever receive the console back I’ll replace them. Otherwise I’ll use it as a learning experience.

I intend on going more full time with console, phone and computer building and repairs, so plan on improving myself each time in order to develop a better procedure and overall a faster turn around time

 

Views – 947

Repair a broken wordpress with shared hosting

Recently I migrated to a shared hosting connection for my entire website, one of the problems I encountered was that it broken all of the links to my MySQL databases

When I moved the directories and files, all I was consistently receiving was database connection not available.

The problem you have with shared hosting is that all the MySQL databases must be separated. So to do this, all hosting providers give your MySQL database a leading connection.

In the form of myself, my host gives all my database names andrewho_ (then the database name)
For my databases, they were called wordpress and zencart.

My new MySQL databases are called andrewho_wordpress and andrewho_zencart. The problem is you need to repair the connection when migrating to shared hosting connection with wordpress and it’s actually really easy

Here is how to fix the SQL database problems

1) Carry out an SQL dump of the entire database
You need to back up your entire existing database, for me it was hosted on my home PC. I had the MySQL Workbench installed, so it’s just a case of selecting the “Export” option, ticking your database. Giving it a name to identify it (ending in .sql) and saving to your computer

2) Create a new database from your hosting provider for the directory where you want to install it
Your wordpress needs to be reimported with phpmyadmin to recreate all the tables and data

3) Modify your .SQL file (so it doesn’t create a new database)
One of the major problems I encountered was every time I uploaded the file, it failed. This was because my user account didn’t have permissions to create databases with the names given by the SQL files. This is because you need to reimport the data with a modified SQL file using the new details

The quick way of doing this is to open your SQL file with Notepad++ or any text editor and comment out the lines and change the database names. I have given an example of this below so it’s easier to explain.

MY EXISTING SQL FILE INFORMATION
CREATE DATABASE IF NOT EXISTS `wordpress` /*!40100 DEFAULT CHARACTER SET latin1 */;
USE `wordpress`;

MY NEW SQL FILE INFORMATION
Note the highlighted entries, you need to comment out (–) the option to “create” the database… in this example it wants to create a database called “wordpress” (it’s already created)
CREATE DATABASE IF NOT EXISTS `wordpress` /*!40100 DEFAULT CHARACTER SET latin1 */;

Originally it was called “wordpress”, you need to change the database name so it knows where to import the data
USE `andrewho_wordpress`;

I had to modify both my files when uploading the data other wise it break the database.

4) Once you have uploaded the files, you need to modify the wp-config.php file otherwise it will just try fail to connect to the database. This is in the following directory

domain.com/wpress-folder/wp-admin/wp-config.php

Here is an example of the details on my directory…..
// ** MySQL settings – You can get this info from your web host ** //
/** The name of the database for WordPress */
define(‘DB_NAME’, ‘andrewho_wordpress‘);

/** MySQL database username */
define(‘DB_USER’, ‘andrewho_myusername (eg root, admin)‘);

/** MySQL database password */
define(‘DB_PASSWORD’, ‘My secret password‘);

/** MySQL hostname */
define(‘DB_HOST’, ‘localhost’);

Views – 963

XBMC Kodi HTPC

After upgrading the HDD’s in my existing PC to a 2TB Sata HDD. I had a lot of spare IDE drives (totally approximately 1.4TB raw storage).

I needed a useful for them, so (after constantly thinking about it) decided to build myself a Media Centre PC to host all my home music and files on it. For the project I selected to build an XBMC Gotham HTPC (Home Theatre PC). I’ve always liked the XBMC software and it looks really tidy. Best of all it’s free.

Firstly I set about downloading the ISO file for the current release of XBMC Gotham. I would need this to install the software on the machine for hosting the files.

After installing the software on the computer, I had to install the disks. This is where I encountered a few problems, I will be documenting these on my main website under the PC building section as there are too many things to name here and wanted to make a full guide.

Now I have a working XBMC PC hosting all my music, movies, TV shows which I can watch locally or over the LAN

http://www.andrewhope.co.uk/Technology/projects/XBMC-Kodi-HTPC.html

Views – 1196

Virtual Hosts

Every now and then I come across a stupidly annoying problem with my website and it’s configuration before I can move on. This time it’s virtual hosts. Apache has the ability to allow you to host mobile domain names from the same directory and web server using the virtual hosts configuration.

 

I’m currently at this stage. I own more than one domain name and it’s annoying me.

I’m currently experiencing two problems with the domain

  • Apache not “serving” the index page for the virtual host directory. All it is serving is blank pages.

Initially I thought this was a permission problem. I later identified it and remembered it was the cause of problem#2 which is why I gave up in the first place. For reference, in the httpd.conf file there is a section called Include conf/extra/httpd-vhosts.conf this must be enabled (remove #) otherwise it won’t load the files

  • Apache now serves the home pages and finds them, but ignores the main /www root of the web server and goes straight to the virtual host directory

This is the current problem I’m encountering. Once I work out the virtual hosts configuration issue, I will post an update for future reference if I need to go back to it. Or help someone else out

I did a quick google search and find this post. Free link.

http://blog-rat.blogspot.co.uk/2009/05/apache-ignores-documentroot-in.html

 

I’m currently researching it

Views – 1213

Fixing a slow laptop

Every now and then someone comes along and mentions that they’ve had problems with their computer, I’m usually given the task of fixing it. It’s annoying at times, but at the same time, I don’t mind.

I’ve worked in IT all my life, and whenever I come across an IT problem, I always try to fix it and beat it. I generally like the challenge more than anything else. My brother fixes my car for me and I usually have a bash at repairing the computers. I should charge, but I don’t care that much, it’s just a hobby more than anything else.

Recently my brother gave me a slow computer to fix, and I mean terribly slow.

It had all sorts of pop ups appearing on the screen, was taking ages to load up, wouldn’t sign into any programs and generally was taking forever to do things.

I decided to carry out an investigation on the laptop itself, and upon first boot up, it wouldn’t even open programs when I was clicking on them. It was then later on about 10-15 mins later it would process all the system tray items {see below}

A gunked up system tray

A gunked up system tray

One of the good things I like when it comes to fixing a slow laptop, is when the person who wants me to repair it gives me permission to remove what I want. Basically I have full control and allowed to use my best judgement.

The person wanted me to retain all their pictures and still let them sign into emails, but that wasn’t an issue. I was going to back up the pictures first to make sure everything would be 100% safe, but then I noticed the size of the pictures folder was around 9GB and thought fuck that. The pictures wouldn’t be harmed anyway and I later on noticed that there was a program running in the system tray which had backed them up anyway (albeit it was a chargeable one). They also asked me to give them an updated antivirus that was free (my personal favourite is Avast)

Anyway, the first few things I noticed with the computer were the following…

  • It was terribly slow (duh, really)
  • System tray was taking forever and had a load of items to load
  • Google Chrome was generating profile errors
  • There was a large amount of software, and adware installed
  • Lots of “toolbars” for internet browsers

I went about tackling the laptop in a systematic manner. The first thing you should look at when fixing a slow laptop, is what is loading up when the computer starts up. The system tray was my first point of call. The computer has to load up everything in the system tray before it boots into Windows. I could have done a selective start up but decided to see what I was working with

These are what I was thinking

  1. Fix the slowness issues
  2. Install an updated antivirus / malware removal program
  3. Clean the PC

After all the icons loaded, I decided to remove the programs and all the shit registry entries they had created. Time to whip out the old revo uninstaller portable. Running from my USB pen. I set about removing all the system tray programs not relevant to the laptop. These included “adverts”, “tool bars”, “search”, “offers” and general miscellaneous programs designed to help you. Revo uninstaller rules because you can pick out the registry entries so there’s not loads of left over uninstall data on the PC and helps keep the slow laptop nice and tidy

Once I removed these I then set about fixing Google Chrome, the profile error was bugging the piss out of me. I renamed the default folder and let Google create a new one. There wasn’t much in terms of backups for bookmarks but copied these over anyway just in case they were wanted. This fixed the browser issue.

After removing all the copies amount of programs and rubbish. I installed a free version of Avast Antivirus with the latest definitions. Additionally to this because I could tell the laptop had a crapload of junk on it, was installing Spybot Search and Destroy, Hitman Pro, JRT and Malware Bytes Anti Malware. After removing these programs to remove all dodgy entries, I additionally used autoruns to get rid of any related startup data that couldn’t be removed.

After I was finished cleaning the PC I installed some remote control software and ran a virus scan to make sure it was fully cleaned.

 

In summary when fixing a slow laptop these are the tools and procedures I used

  • Revo Uninstaller – Removed any bad programs and registry entries
  • Avast Antivirus – Reinstalled a new updated antivirus
  • Autoruns – Removed any startup entries not relevant
  • Windows Temp – Emptied the directory
  • Junkware Removal Tool (JRT), Spybot, Malware Bytes – remove malware
  • Windows Task Scheduler – Cleared out old entries
  • Removed any browser toolbars (conduit, searchQU, etc)

After this was all done, I was finished fixing a slow laptop. The laptop when first received took in the region of 10-15 mins to fully load everything. When the new laptop was done it was booting up in the region of around 2-3 mins fully after logging into Windows (was Vista so didn’t exactly help)

 

Overall I was pleased and it satisfied the clients needs without affecting them too much

Views – 1258

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