Jun 052011

For the past few days, I have had intermittent sync problems with my Virgin Media router.

The router is a Netgear VMDG280 as supplied by Virgin Media. From time to time, the router falls out of sync: the sync light flashes quickly and the ready light flashes slowly. Web pages are obviously unavailable while the router is in this state.

Rebooting the router does not resolve the problem.

I also have a connection problem with the ‘on demand’ TV service where all interactive services shown as unavailable and there is a flashing heart light on the front of the set top box which apparently indicates there is no network connection available. When attempting to access any on-demand services (movies, catch-up TV etc.) I get a service currently unavailable message.

The router and TV problems do not always happen at the same time.

Since the router and set-top box are both having problems, it would suggest that the problem is not with either of those boxes as both pieces of hardware are unlikely to fail at the same time. Since they do not always exhibit the problem at the same time, the cable from my external wall to the splitter must be ok, the two cables from the splitter are unlikely to have both failed in the same intermittent manner at the same time.

The Virgin Media status screen shows everything is ok in my area.

The non-demand cable TV has been fine for the duration so that would also suggest the cabling is fine.

I was supposed to arrange for an engineer to come out next week, but as the connection is working at the moment I don’t know if he will find any problem, and getting time off work will be a hassle.

Update: I fixed the problem without resorting to an engineer.

Solution: The signal does not seem to be strong enough to cope with the splitters which were installed – either the signal has got weaker since it was installed, or the splitters are dodgy.

The installation was:

Telewest box on the wall in my bedroom with a single cable running about 10m to the living room where it was connected to an (old!) 2-way splitter. A single wire from the splitter ran about 5m round the walls to a second (newer) 2-way splitter. Two cables came from this splitter, one to the modem/router and the other to the set top box.

I don’t know Virgin Media’s rules on repairing the cabling yourself, so you carry out any of the following at your own risk – if in doubt call your cable company for advice.

I tested the incoming signal by moving the router to the telewest box and connecting it with a short coax cable. The router sync’d fine – so everything looked fine to there. I then connected the router to the spare socket on the first splitter and that worked fine too. I then connected the router to the cable going to the input of the second splitter and that also worked fine. My suspicion at this point was the second splitter was dodgy, but I thought it could also be that the long cable and two splitters was too much. Each splitter causes a drop in signal so there is no point in having one in the line if only one output is used.

I bought a new 2-way F Splitter (£5.99) and an F Plug Coupler (£1.89) from Maplin. Replacing the second splitter did not resolve the problem, so I removed the first splitter and connected the two cables with the F Plug Coupler and the heart light stopped flashing. I suspect all I needed was the coupler.

I hope this saves you a day off work waiting for an engineer!

Feb 272011

When editing a post in WordPress 3.1 recently, I found that the visual editor was missing the formatting buttons which usually appear at the top of the editor and the text was invisible (white on white) like this:

After some investigation, it seems that the problem was caused by the Scissors Continued plugin which I had recently installed. When I disabled the plugin, the problem was solved:


I have not investigated to find out what the actual problem was, although I could see that the buttons initially loaded then the screen reformats and the buttons are hidden. I have not yet tried the functionality of the Scissors Continued plugin and, although the features sound very useful, I will not be reinstalling it if it means losing formatting options when editing posts.

I hope this helps you if you hit the same problem…

Sep 112010

When attempting an automatic upgrade of iTunes from version 9 to 10, I got a pop-up saying “Service ‘iPod Service’ (iPod Service) could not be installed. Verify that you have sufficient privileges to install system services.”

The solution I found was to download the installer only and run it manually.  Here’s a step by step guide of the problem you are likely to see. Before carrying this out, please back up your catalogue – I’m not responsible if you lose your music!

1. When installing iTunes, you get an error pop-up “Service ‘iPod Service’ (iPod Service) could not be installed. Verify that you have sufficient privileges to install system services.”

"Service 'iPod Service' (iPod Service) could not be installed. Verify that you have sufficient privileges to install system services."

iTunes Installation Error

2. Without pressing any of the buttons, open the services manager by clicking the start menu, right click ‘computer’ and choose ‘manage’. Navigate through “Services and Applications” then “Services”. Find the iPod Service.

Services control panel

Services control panel

3. You should find that the iPod Service is stopped and disabled. Double click the service to see its properties.

iPod Service Properties

iPod Service Properties

4. If you make any changes to the service (try changing it from ‘Disabled’ to ‘Automatic’ and press apply), you will see that “The specified service has been marked for deletion”.

5. It seems that the service needs to be deleted to allow the new version to be installed, but for some reason it hasn’t. The service will be deleted if you restart your computer though. Did I mention you should back up your catalogue before doing this?

6. Without cancelling the current iTunes installation, restart your computer. If you do cancel the install, iTunes will roll back to where you were before you started the install and the service will not be marked for deletion.

7. After your computer reboots, run the installer again and follow the prompts, it should install fine. In my case, all my music was still there. But if not, you can restore from the backup you took earlier – you did take a back up, didn’t you?!?

I hope this helps you get iTunes 10 installed – let me know how you get on!

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