Netgear WG102 with latest firmware doesn’t allow MacBook Air to connect

wg102_tcm122-53787Its a really annoying problem – the Wifi works for a lot of laptops but not with others.

The problem we had was with a 2013 MacBook Air connecting to a NetGear WG102 with the latest firmware 5.0.3

A 2012 MacBook Pro Retina and numerous other laptops were fine, but the issue persisted with the MacBook Air.

To solve the problem, we reverted the access point back to 5.0.1 (download only the right version for where you are in the world). All devices can then access the wifi.


iPhone and iPad / iOS Mail – Problems deleting email when on IMAP

This is more like a note to myself for if I ever get a new device, but I have had lots of problems since moving my email to a VPS server hosted by Webfusion in the UK. The primary issue is that the mail server that is installed as part of the Parallels Plesk Panel has an unusual quirk when trying to delete email from the server if you are using IMAP rather than POP on your Apple device.


“Unable to delete message from server” or similar error when deleting. Thankfully the solution is easy!

In the iPhone / iPad settings simply go to mail, and then the mail account and then advanced and in the IMAP Path Prefix add “INBOX” in capitals.

Problem solved!

Mac sales to businesses grow by nearly 50%

Sales of Mac hardware to U.S. businesses grew by 49.4 percent year over year in the September quarter, posting continued growth while PC sales shrank.

Charlie Wolf of Needham & Company highlighted Apple’s success in the enterprise as the “big story” regarding Mac sales in the September quarter. With PC sales to U.S. businesses declining 13.3 percent year over year, Apple had a 62.7 percentage point difference.

Overall, the Mac’s unit share of the U.S. business market was 9.3 percent in the September quarter. That was up from 5.9 percent of total sales in June, and 5.4 percent in September of 2011.

Apple had an even bigger share of revenue of PC sales to U.S. businesses, accounting for 17.4 percent. That was also up from an 11.5 percent share in June, and 10.7 percent share a year prior.

Wolf believes Apple’s success has come from a focus on adding features to OS X to make it more compatible with Windows infrastructures. He also feels a key step was the 2006 introduction of BootCamp to run Windows on Intel-based Mac hardware.

“For its part, Microsoft added features to exchange and its other network products that more effortlessly accommodated other operating systems, including Apple’s OS X operating system,” he said. “These steps enabled the Mac to become a more responsible, if not first-class, citizen in Microsoft’s network environment.”

But the most important factor for businesses has been the “halo effect” of the iPhone and iPad. As businesses have embraced Apple’s iOS devices, he believes they’ve become more likely to place Macs in the workplace as well.

Apple sold a total of 4.9 million Macs in its September quarter, which represented a new quarterly record for the company. Mac sales slightly edged the same three-month span from a year prior, growing 1 percent.


Can a laptop be faster, more beautiful, and clearer?

Picture the scene.

Regents Street Apple Store in London, 8pm on a glorious summers evening. The store is crammed with customers, Apple fans and those just there to marvel at the shiny shiny.

If you look closely, there is me, standing next to the MacBook Pro lines…. trying to decide, Retina, or no Retina screen?

2 years of having a savings account with the title “LAPTOP” are there persuading me that really, if I am going to buy a laptop, I should buy the best I possibly can.

And with a wave of the debit card, my latest purchase is in a white Apple bag. The most expensive single item I have ever purchased outright in my life, and I’m left on a complete purchasing high for the hour or so trip back to the hotel on the underground. I manage to sneak a peek into the box when there is no-one else in one of the carriages, only I get to look at this beauty!

Back in the hotel room, it is almost like opening a lifetime achievement award, only better. It looks like a single solid block of aluminium, and then the screen opens so perfectly, with just the right amount of resistance. And what a screen.

Power button, delicately pressed.

If this was Windows, I would be waiting for about a minute, but there it is, before I can count to 2 in my head I am being bid “Welcome”. I can already tell I am in for a treat with the screen even though it is only grey at the moment. It is clearer than you can possibly imagine, and when you put it next to any other laptop you realise just how good it really is.

Whoops, its midnight, and I am still experimenting with settings, my entire iTunes library already synced and playing. MineCraft experiment tried, and finding that it is brilliant for that too!

The next day I go to work, and being a sensible sort take the new MacBook along, only to discover at my first meeting that I can power it up in under 4 seconds and shut it down in less than 1, so I take great glee in doing this 8 times before the Head of IT’s brand new Sony Vaio laptop manages to get to the blurry Windows log on screen.

7 1/2 hours of use later, the battery is reading 18% remaining, so to give it a real test I don’t bother charging it when back at the hotel and use it to type up notes for an additional 46 minutes before I get an alert that I really should put it on charge.

In my job as an IT consultant I get asked constantly about new laptops, and I have always replied that you really get what you pay for, but now I have a personal experience of this exactly. I could have spent one tenth of the amount of money that I spent on this laptop and got a plasticy, slow, noisy beast of a laptop that would probably last a few months before being either sold on or passed on to one of my children to use to do nothing but play flash-based games on.

My last Dell Inspiron laptop which in its day was top of the range and cost at the time a scary £1200 lasted for almost 4 years. It started off in the world of Windows Xp, survived Vista and still just about runs Windows 7 after CPU upgrade, Memory upgrade and a larger, faster hard disk. Total spend on extras: £800.

So I guess the real test for my MacBook Pro Retina is this: If £2000 of laptop lasted almost 4 years, will £3000 of laptop last past the 5 year mark? I’m hoping so, and I hope to be back here in 5 years time writing that yes, it really is still good, and still running as well. Only time will tell.

3 months on, I am pleased to report that it is not only still running well, but still boots in under 5 seconds, even with running Parallels and loading a full Windows 7 installation to enable me to use Visual Studio on the laptop. Its so fast that I am giving serious consideration to making my laptop my primary work machine, with two Thunderbolt displays currently residing on my iMac being used for additional screen estate.

More than 1 year on I am still loving the MacBook Pro. Its been through a rough year, with an entire cup of coffee draining into on the keyboard in a restaurant and having to be washed under the tap to remove it (but thankfully still working perfectly). It developed a single dead pixel just left of Centre of the screen in July 2013, but a quick trip to the Apple Store in Belfast and they replaced the whole screen under warranty (yes, Apple customer service is still exemplary).

Could Dropbox replace the Small Office Server?

It started as many IT Consultancy visits do – a “quick visit” to sort out a minor problem with sending an email at a small business (9 members of staff with a PC each), and then, out of nowhere comes the question that we dread when on a tight time-scale with the next month already booked up in advance… “we need an server to share files for all of us – could you set that up for us… we need it next week, will it cost much?” In default “IT Consultant Mode” I started explaining the costs of the physical hardware, the Windows Server licence, how long it would take to order, install and configure on each PC, and then, just as I was explaining the electricity cost, I stopped.. Thinking back I wonder if my customer thought I had lost it completely, as I stopped open-mouthed and went “AAAHHH” far too loud, and then I asked a question I have never uttered before..

“There might be a better way – have you heard of DropBox?”

She replied that she hadn’t, and enquired as to what it was. It was then that it struck me, on every previous occasion, what was it that always got added on the end of the shared files question… “can I access them at home?” and I started my explanation with a question: “Would you like to be able to access and update the shared documents from home?”. To say that the customer was shocked was an understatement as she struggled to contain her enthusiasm “you mean I could actually do that???” So I proceeded to explain over the course of about 10 minutes the two possible routes – the traditional route with the server, the new router, the VPN, the approximate cost of £2400 all in, and the new route – the brand new option – Dropbox, which is free for up to 2Gb of storage. I asked what was being stored in the file store, and emphasised the importance of not storing personal information in the new dropbox folder if we were to use it, and the answer “no, its just for a few policies and procedures” meant it was a perfect fit. So, 30 minutes after arriving on-site to fix email, all staff have dropbox installed on their PC with a nice DropBox shortcut on their desktop to the folder, the owner has had the dropbox guided tour and actually understands it all (and added Dropbox on her iPhone there an then), and wow – it works (and is still working) perfectly. One very, very happy customer, with a solution that when coupled in the near future with Office 365 will result in not needing any server for the office at all. Dropbox I salute you – a wonderful new technology that can be applied to revolutionise business file sharing.

The wonder of Hyper-V

With Hyper-V, it’s easier than ever to take advantage of the cost savings of virtualization through Windows Server 2008 R2. Optimize your server hardware investments by consolidating multiple server roles as separate virtual machines
running on a single physical machine, efficiently run multiple different operating systems in parallel, on a single server, and fully leverage the power of x64 computing.

We have rolled out Hyper-V in our office and now have no physical Windows Servers that provide services. The only bare-metal servers run Hyper-V.

Storage is dealt with by an HP DL380 server set up as a SAN so that the Hyper-V front-end servers connect via iSCSI to the SAN.

Front-end servers are now:

HP DL160 G5, 2 x 2.0GHz Xeon Quad-core CPUs with 32Gb RAM

HP DL160 G6, 2 x 3.04GHz Xeon Quad-core CPUs with 64Gb RAM

Storage, storage, storage

I’ve spent the past few months on a mission – to convert all of our 2800+ DVDs to H.264 (MP4) format…. And have finally encountered what can only be described as a major obstacle…. Storage..

So what’s out there – well it’s easy and cheap to get a 2Tb USB attached drive – the problem is that even if i were to fill all 6 spare USB ports on my pc with them, I would still be over 20Tb short on space by current calculations… And there is a bigger problem – they all use FAT32, which doesn’t support file sizes greater than 4Gb – and pretty much every film is higher than 4Gb when encoded at 5000 bitrate (to ensure the utmost quality possible when viewing action scenes on a large HD TV).

So I looked for network attached storage devices, of which there are few, and still fewer that are wifi (which is essential so it can connect directly to the Apple TV). I almost purchased a 2Tb Seagate, however it was at this point that I became eternally grateful to the amazon customer reviews, as they all unanimously made it clear that this was not a good purchase!

So it’s now between buffalo and netgear – which is like being asked whether you would like to be shot or stabbed – both have major pitfalls and huge cost implications.

The Netgear ReadyNAS, which looks great at £140 until you realise that there are no drives supplied. Worse still is the buffalo, which once you read the small print you realise that you HAVE to have software installed on every pc that accesses it, which considering I want to access it directly is a problem.

My final thought came as an afterthought – why not just load the current pc with hard disks, its a new 12-core Dell i7 – it must have space for some more hard disks…. But NO… dell have decided in their infinite wisdom to fill the only two drive bays with drives, leaving no other slots for SATA drives in the case without resorting to some 5.25″ caddys, and there is no way I am making my pc look that ugly.

Traditional Servers – too noisy and power hungry – No

The “cloud” – would be fine, except that it would take years to upload, and our broadband speeds are so rubbish, that i couldn’t stream the films whilst watching them (we can’t even stream HD YouTube, let alone a 4Gb movie (DVD converted) or 10Gb+ movie (Blu-Ray converted).

So what to do? Any suggestions gratefully received!