Remove the Penalty Runs signals from the attack

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Which Ashes host town boasts the best ground capacity to town population ratio?

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KB2836988 for Windows 8 may cause BSOD on some AMD chipsets

After a recent Windows 8 update, my computer refused to boot properly, but attempted an Automatic Repair, which was unsuccessful. The system would flash a blue screen of death and reboot with no more illuminating error message. I also encountered this when booting from the Windows 8 DVD – sudden blue screens with no error messages.

My Windows 8 installation is on a SSD on a system with an AMD chipset, and I had to switch the SSD to IDE mode access to get any sort of stability. After I did this, Automatic Repair had a longer attempt to fix it, but still ended unsuccessfully with a message informing me to check WINDOWS\System32\Logfiles\Srt\Srttrail.txt. Removing the SSD and examining this file on my laptop showed me the following error message:

Boot critical file E:\Windows\System32\drivers\amdsbs.sys is corrupt

Replacing that file with a fresh copy did not appear to help. To get Windows to boot properly, I had to boot to a command prompt (clicking the Advanced Options button from the screen with the Srttrail.txt error message) and use the dism.exe tool with this command:

dism.exe /image:D:\ /cleanup-image /revertpendingactions

where D: is the Windows drive.

After doing this and rebooting, on the next boot Windows detected a failed update and reverted changes. I was then able to enter Windows.

The update at fault appears to be KB2836988 and I suspect it may be causing problems with systems using the AMD 700 series chipset. Other people seem to be experiencing similar problems. We will see whether Microsoft do anything to address the problem; in the meantime, I’ve turned off Automatic Updates, and am avoiding that particular update for the moment.

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Mazda MX-5 mk.1 headlight bulb replacement guide

It’s remarkably dangerous to drive with one headlight out—not necessarily because it reduces your vision, but because it reduces your visibility to other road users. It’s all too easy to look like a motorcyclist, and hence a much narrower hazard, to a tired driver, with potentially lethal results.

It’s therefore wise to get a blown headlamp bulb changed as quickly as possible. On the Mark 1 Mazda MX-5 (Miata in the USA, Eunos Roadster in Japan), while it’s not as straightforward as on some cars, it’s nevertheless not a difficult procedure, as the following guide will show. I’d recommend the purchase of the Veloce Mazda MX-5 1.8i enthusiast’s manual (if you have the 1.6i, this version of the manual is preferable), which assisted me along the way. As for the replacement bulb itself, you need a 12V 60/55W bulb, such as this Lucas LLB472 bulb. I obtained one from my trusty local mechanic (thanks Gary!), who was even kind enough to drop it off at my house.

  1. Turn the lights off, and raise the headlights using the centre console switch.
  2. Remove the four screws, two on each side, on the sides of the headlight. These hold the plastic headlight surround in place. Be careful when removing them, since they each have two small washers on them.

    One side of the headlight assembly


    Mazda MX-5 headlight

    The other side of the headlight assembly


    One of the four screws to be removed. Beware of losing the two washers on each screw

  3. Lift the headlight surround away.

    Remove surround

  4. The screws that hold the headlight unit should now be visible. Be careful: there are three that hold the headlight in place, and two others that merely adjust the headlight beam. Don’t touch the latter, and be careful with the others, as I’ll explain.

    The screws to be removed are highlighted by green circles. Don’t touch the two screws marked with red crosses.

  5. You need to loosen, not remove, the three that are spaced roughly 120 degrees apart. When I first did this, I didn’t realise that I didn’t need to remove them, and indeed it’s quite tricky to remove them all, due to their positions. Just loosen them enough to allow the shiny headlight retention ring to rotate slightly, causing the screws to line up with the larger holes in the ring. Have WD-40 at the ready to lubricate them.

    One of the three screws to be slackened, in the locked position


    With the screw slackened, the ring can be rotated to this position.

  6. Rotate the retention ring and remove it. In my case, it had become stuck to the headlight unit, so I ended up removing the unit at the same time, as described in the next step.

    Remove retaining ring

  7. Carefully start to remove the headlight unit.

    Remove unit carefully

  8. The wiring loom will be connected to the back of the unit: disconnect it to release and remove the unit completely.

    The connector


    Disconnect connector

  9. Pull the dust boot off. Note any damage: if it’s no longer sitting snugly over the assembly, you’ll need to replace it soon.

    Remove dust boot

  10. Undo the bulb clip.

    Clip holding the bulb


    Unclip bulb

  11. Remove the bulb carefully.

    Remove bulb

  12. Install the replacement bulb, making sure you don’t touch the bulb with bare fingers—this can leave a residue on the bulb that leads to the bulb’s premature destruction. Clip the bulb in.

    Insert new bulb

  13. Reassemble carefully.

With your new headlamp bulb thus installed, you’ll be all set to get safely back on the road.

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Intoxicated With The Spirit: Keep Calm And Carry On Mankading

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Report: West Indians recall that winning feeling

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Report: Young sets up comfortable Gloucestershire victory

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Sony Vegas 8.0 and mp4v files may conflict with QuickTime 7.6.8

Sony Vegas 8.0 projects that use mp4v files may not display the video properly, presenting only audio with a black screen. It appears that QuickTime 7.6.8 causes the problems. In my case, the .mov files, which originated from a camera phone, would play fine in VLC, but not in Windows Media Player.

The solution is to uninstall QuickTime 7.6.8 and install QuickTime 7.6. Unfortunately, this does mean you lose the updated security features of 7.6.8; one hopes Apple rectifies the situation in a future release.

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Adobe Flash Player 10.1 conflicts with ATI Sideport RAM

Adobe Flash Player 10.1’s HD hardware acceleration feature can cause a green-screen error when attempting to play online high-definition (and even some standard-definition) video, such as on Youtube and Vimeo. It appears that it conflicts with the Sideport memory found on some motherboard with integrated ATI graphics, such as the Asus M4A785TD-V EVO with its ATI HD 4200 chip.

The  "Enable hardware acceleration" checkboxThere are two workarounds, neither ideal. The simplest is to right-click the video, choose “Settings”, and uncheck the “Enable hardware acceleration box” found under the “Display” tab. This, of course, means that the whole point of the Flash 10.1 update—HD hardware acceleration—is disabled.

The other option, and in my mind the preferable one, is to disable Sideport memory in the BIOS. In the AMI BIOS for the above-mentioned Asus board, the relevant options are found under Advanced → Chipset → Internal Graphics → Internal Graphics Mode → UMA. Of course, this ‘solution’ is also irritating: the Sideport memory then becomes another feature paid-for-but-disused.

The best option, is, of course, dependent on Adobe/ATI (whether the problem lies with Flash or with the ATI drivers isn’t clear) updating their software to fix the clash. Here’s hoping they actually do fix it, otherwise the users—as so often happens—will be left feeling shortchanged.

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Running the L140 DVD-ROM from the hard disk

If, like me, you’re on the Open University course L140 En rumbo: intermediate Spanish, you may have been irritated by the fact that, despite the installer claiming to install to the hard disk, you’re still required to have the DVD in the drive when you want to perform the activites. Quite apart from the fact that it’s somewhat inconvenient to find and insert it every time, it’s also a major source of noise if you have a louder-than-average DVD drive. Since the DVD holds the audio files for the activities, this translated to significant whirring every time you’re trying to listen to, for instance, Spanish pronunciation…which is less than ideal!

You’ll be glad to know, however, that’s it’s possible to manually do what the OU should have done in the first place, and that is to have all the files on the hard disk, therebuy cutting out the need for the DVD-ROM. This should also benefit netbook users, who could then potentially dispense with carrying an external DVD drive.

A little technical knowledge would be helpful, though not essential. Advanced users will see that there are some quicker-but-less-easy-to-document ways of accomplishing some of the steps I’ve described. The usual disclaimers apply.

  1. Make sure you’ve previously installed the L140 activities as per the OU guidelines.
  2. Insert your DVD-ROM and open it to browse in Windows Explorer (it normally appears as your D:\ drive)
  3. The DVD-ROM should contain a folder called “assets”. You need to copy this folder (right-click and click Copy).
  4. Now browse to where the L140 files are installed. This may vary from computer to computer; on my Windows 7 system, the folder was C:\Users\Liam\AppData\Roaming\L140 DVD-ROM. I can’t say for sure what it is on Windows XP, but try looking in C:\Documents and Settings\Liam\Application Data.
  5. Paste the “assets” folder inside the “L140 DVD-ROM” folder you found in step 4. There are between 2 and 3 GB of small files to copy over, so this may take a while.
  6. For safety, you may like to backup the LocalVariables.js file (you may not see the .js part) in the “code” folder inside the “L140 DVD-ROM” folder.
  7. Open this in Notepad. To do so, open Notepad (Start -> Programs -> Accessories -> Notepad) and browse to the “code” folder inside the “L140 DVD-ROM” folder you’ve been looking at. (On my system, this folder is C:\Users\Liam\AppData\Roaming\L140 DVD-ROM\code.) In the drop-down menu “Files of type” click “All Files”. You should now see that this folder should contain a file called LocalVariables.js (you may not see the .js part). Double-click on it to open it.
  8. The second line of this file should start “var pathToDVD”. You need to alter it to be identical in every way to the line that starts var pathToRoot, except that it should start var pathToDVD. For instance, in my case, after alteration, the second line looked like this: var pathToDVD = 'C:\\Users\\Liam\\AppData\\Roaming\\L140 DVD-ROM\\';
  9. Save the file and close Notepad.
  10. You’re done. You should now be able to run the activities without the DVD being in the drive: in particular, the audio and video clips should play without problem.

Advanced users probably have already realised that the “assets” folder could actually be anywhere, so long as the LocalVariables.js file is altered to point to it. You could put it in your Documents folder or even on a USB drive instead.

Hasta luego!

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