Back After A Break

It’s been a long time since I’ve added anything here. It’s been a difficult and busy time with many challenges and pitfalls. The pandemic, the resulting lock-down and the loss of my mother took its toll on my mental health and for a long time I didn’t want to do anything at all. Here’s hoping for a better, brighter future. Thank you to all my clients for your support and custom throughout this trying time. I really do appreciate it.

In short, I’m still doing laptop and desktop repairs, doing more board repairs etc but lately I’ve also been helping my friend Phil with his AV installation business, running cables, installing sound and video equipment and more.
Hope to talk with you again soon. Take care of yourself.

BTW, here’s a picture of Tasha (the Deathclaw) and Emma Puss on a coffee break! 🙂

OpenOffice Base – Table missing from form

“Data content could not be loaded. There exists no table named …”

I’m a database dunce and not ashamed to admit it. Here’s something that took a while for me to figure out.

Basically, I had to move a client from XP to Windows 7 64bit and connect them back up to their (OpenOffice) MySQL database called ‘mrsjobs’

First I did the necessary steps; installing (both 32 and 64 bit) ODBC connector drivers for MySQL and made the connection to the database which is on another machine.

Everything seemed to be fine. If I opened up the database in OpenOffice Base and double clicked on the table, it opened up fine in it’s spreadsheet-like format.

However, the form associated with it had issues. If I double clicked that, the form would open but then it could not seem to pull data from the table that it was using before. I received the error: ‘Data content could not be loaded. There exists no table named “jobs”.’

Continue reading “OpenOffice Base – Table missing from form”

Toshiba Laptop recovery using .SWM files

Machine: Toshiba Satellite L450D-11V

Problem: Faulty hard drive, new drive to be installed. Customer has no recovery discs and Windows COA label with product key is worn out so would like to find a way to reinstall Windows 7 without buying a new license.


The recovery partition contained eight ‘.swm’ files which we managed to save to a USB hard drive.

The files were:


Booted up with Windows 7 DVD disc, chose Repair and Command Prompt.

At this point, USB drive was D: and blank hard drive was C:

The executable file ‘ImageX’ (the tool for working with .wim and .swm files) was also on the USB drive. If you don’t have ImageX, Google it – it’s available for download.

Changed command prompt from C: to D:

Ran the following command to merge all .swm files into a single ‘.wim’ file:

imagex /ref 10739XSP*.swm /export 10739XSP.swm 2 boot.wim

This created a 6.5GB .WIM file which was the whole Windows 7 preinstalled partition.

Then ran the following command:

imagex /apply boot.wim 1 C:\

This applied the image to the partition C:\

At this point it would not boot so we ran StartUp Repair from the Windows 7 DVD

Then we ran the command:

bootrec.exe /fixmbr

At this point Windows 7 started and began setting up all the other preinstalled software that Toshiba includes.

Several reboots later and all is running perfectly!

The following is from a comment below this post from Frank K. It is very detailed and shows how he was able to use a similar method to restore his Asus laptop:

“I had the same problem and your solution worked for me.
Another solution was to copy the recovery-partition to the new disk and let it do the restore, but the partition copied with Acronis did not boot. Therefore, I was happy to see your solution how to restore a system with swm-files and without booting from a disk with the recovery partition.

For an ASUS notebook I had to made some minor changes, I changed
imagex /ref 10739XSP*.swm /export 10739XSP.swm 2 boot.wim
imagex /ref asus*.swm /export asus.swm 1 boot.wim

Asus-Files are named asus[1-3] and contain only one image (C:)

Your command
imagex /apply boot.wim 1 C:\
then worked fine for me, too.

What I did in detail:
1. I took a new HD (500GB), connected it to a working Win7-PC via USB, created two “classic” partitions (MBR, not GPT), C: 400 GB, D: 100 GB.
2. I copied the contents of the Recovery-Partition (all swm-files and Imagex.Exe) from the original HD (I was lucky so far, the C:-Partition showed drive errors already) to D:-partition on the new disk.
3. I created the boot.wim – file, see command line above.
4. Then I installed the new HD in the Notebook and booted with a Win7x32-DVD.(It has to be x32, Imagex did not work for me with x64.) Select Repair Options and Command Prompt. (The Selection “Restore from a Win-Image doesn’t work, it can´t find the boot.wim)
5. Select drive D: at the prompt and start the image restore with ImageX’ apply-option (see command line above).
This takes some time.
6. When finished, I entered
bootrec.exe /fixmbr
but this did not work for me, the computer didn’t boot.
I started with the Win7x32-DVD again, go to repair options and select the item “Fix startup problems” (I do only have a german DVD, so I don’t know the original english name for this function, but there is one selection that fixes startup problems.).
This did correctly activate the partition and the MBR-Information. It shows a log when the mbr is fixed.
I rebooted the machine and it started perfectly, initiating the standard Windows welcome at first start.
Now I’m installing updates etc.
At a later time I deleted the now no longer needed D-Partition and extended the C-Partition to use the whole disk via Disk Management in Administration.
Normally, I have a C-Partition for the OS and D: for Programs/Data, but most of the users mess these things up, so for those who don´t care I create a C-Partition only.

I looked at many descriptions on the internet, complicated, not working, frustrating – your fix is the only one that worked for me, THANKS!

Sorry for my poor English, but I hope many other people can benefit of your solution with these extra hints.”

We fix laptops everyday at our laptop repair shop in Kent. Hopefully this site has helped you!

Programs blocked when Vista starts

Stop Vista from preventing programs from running at startup.Fun with Task Scheduler!

So, we had a PC which has an unsigned EPSS.exe (Enterprise Pro Surveillance System CCTV DVR Client) file that is set to run when Vista boots up.

MSCONFIG keeps blocking the executable from running but we want it to run because we know it’s safe and it is needed to run on this PC. Clicking the ‘Allow this program to run’ option just allows it to run once.

MSCONFIG does not assume that it is safe to run it on every boot so we set off in search of a way to run it without restrictions and this is what we found out there…

Continue reading “Programs blocked when Vista starts”

Removing NetIntelligence from Home Access Laptops

Home Access from Becta Grant
Home Access Grant

After replacing the hard drives in their Home Access laptops, a number of people have contacted us (probably because of our popular Acer Extensa 5235 post) about an issue with the parental control software that is installed on these machines.

From what we gather, some of (perhaps all) the Home Access machines were bundled with NetIntelligence parental control software.

Here is an excerpt from an enquiry we received: Continue reading “Removing NetIntelligence from Home Access Laptops”

Install ATI Display Drivers ONLY

Short post but maybe useful to some…

I was sick of installing Catalyst Control Center and all the other crap stuff that it seems you must install to update the drivers on your ATI graphics card so this is what I did.

Download the correct driver update from ATI/AMD’s website. Mine was 12-4_vista_win7_64_dd_ccc.exe

If you don’t already have it, download and install 7Zip from (this is is a bit like WinZip and Winrar etc but it’s free, open-source software without toolbars and other crap).

Use 7Zip to extract the contents of the file you downloaded from ATI (e.g. right-click on 12-4_vista_win7_64_dd_ccc.exe) and choose ‘7Zip > Extract Files’

The drivers you want are in: OUTDIR\Packages\Drivers\Display


OS X Leopard – Losing WiFi Settings

OS X Leopard
OS X Leopard

We just had a PowerPC G4 Macbook Pro in with Leopard running on it. A bit long in the tooth (especially with 512MB RAM) but working fine nonetheless. Well fine except the WiFi settings seemed to be getting lost each time the machine slept or was rebooted. You’d have to click on the list of available wireless networks to connect to the access point and re-enter the WPA Key every single time.

After much poking about and updating everything we could, we decided to tackle another issue – DVD Player was launching every time the user logged in so we wanted to remove it from Login Items. Off we went to System Preferences > Accounts > “Your Account” > Login Items and deleted DVD Player from the list. We left iTunes Helper and MobileConnect in the list.

This simple act of removing DVD Player from the Login or Startup Items FIXED THE WIFI PROBLEM! Go figure.

Laptop Disassembly Tips

Precision Screwdriver Set

Here are a few tips that may help you strip down and reassemble laptops:

  • Use a digital camera or camera phone to take a shot of each stage of the disassembly for reference when you are ready to reassemble it. Zoom in and take separate shots for areas where you have various plugs and connectors or wires running in a specifc way so you know exactly how they were before you took them apart. (unless you have a really good memory!)
  • Use scrap sheets of A4 paper to map out screw positions. Sketch a point (or points) of reference like a battery compartment or RAM module cover on the paper so you know what way up it goes and stick each screw to the paper with clear tape so when you’re finished taking all the screws out of the bottom of the laptop they will all be stuck in their corresponding positions on the piece of paper. Depending on the laptop I may have 2 or 3 sheets of paper with screws on – bottom of unit, under the keyboard and motherboard screws. Doing this will be a great help if you have to leave the laptop disassembled for some time (e.g. to order parts etc) as you will have no doubt as to which screws go where. Some makes and models will use the same length screws for most of the base assembly but others have all different lengths which makes it all the more important to remember where they go back. A ‘too-long’ screw in the wrong place could cause major damage! Continue reading “Laptop Disassembly Tips”