Birthday’s & Wireless Fun

It’s been a difficult week or so, with both Angela and me feeling pretty ropey and one point or another – we were both on the mend by the weekend though, and with Southend postponing their upgrade until next week (thank goodness), we at least had a couple of days to recover for once.

We went to the Monkton Lodge neat Prestwick for lunch on Saturday and whilst we were their booked a party for Megan’s birthday – £8 a head including meals, party games, 2 hours of soft play, balloons and party bags etc. Seemed like a good deal and lot less hassle than trying to organise it all ourselves!

On the way back we picked up a DVD player for the study from Tesco (at just £17 it cost less than some of Megan’s DVDs but at least it means Mum can watch her ‘gramms’ in the lounge whilst Dad gets to watch Fifi & The Flowertots with Megan as he’s working). We also decided it was time to get a TV cabinet to tidy up the mess of wires that was accumulating in the corner and picked up one from Argos for £28 – just the right size to fit in the corner between the door the radiator – it’s made a big difference.

Unfortunately the old TV that’s in the study has just the one SCART socket so with the Sky box, the new DVD and Dad’s Playstation to connect to it a solution was required if we were to avoid a lot of cable swapping. A quick search on the Internet threw up more SCART switch boxes than you can shake a stick at, so we ordered one from Maplin that will switch up to four sources into one automatically – it’s not arrived yet so we’ll let you know how successful it turns out to be another day.

Sunday was a trip to Lenzie for Hayley’s birthday party, where we all had a good time, and on the way back we stopped of at Frankie & Benny’s in Glasgow for tea – so as it turned out not that much time spent recovering this weekend after all!

At least the Reds managed to pick up another three points against Spurs – sets things up nicely for the Man U game next weekend.

We managed to recycle the old wireless router today too – it’s been sitting in a cupboard for months since we upgraded to a Netgear DG834GT 108mbps router, but there wasn’t actually anything wrong with it. It was still perfectly adequate for sharing an broadband ADSL line – even at just 10Mbps its still going to 4-5 times faster than the connection to the internet.

Audrey had a Dell Inspiron laptop that was shackled to the phone line by a BT USB Voyager ADSL modem – which kind of defeats the point of a laptop. Since it had built in wireless support it was just a case of configuring and plugging the router into the phone instead of the Voyager and Bob was most definitely your Mum’s brother. Not even having AOL as the ISP was enough to throw a spanner in the works, so Audrey is now happily wandering round the house and surfing the net (just like Angela – I think I may have unleashed two monsters now, not sure whether Alan will thank me for it or not!).

Whilst setting up the wireless networking I noticed that the laptop seemed to be running quite slowly, and a quick check showed that the IDE controller was running in ‘PIO mode’ even though it was configured to use ‘DMA if available’. Seems like this might be a common problem with Windows XP, as another quick search online turned up a way to force XP to revert back to DMA – I’ve noted it here in case I need to do it again some time…
Run REGEDIT. Go to the following key:


It has subkeys like 0000, 0001, 0002, etc. Normally 0001 is the primary IDE channel, 0002 the secondary, but other numbers can occur under certain circumstances. You have to go through these subkeys and check the DriverDesc value until you find the proper IDE channel.

Delete MasterIdDataChecksum or SlaveIdDataChecksum, depending on whether the device in question is attached as master or slave, but it can’t actually hurt to delete both. Reboot. The drive DMA capabilities will be redetected.

Open Device Manager again and check whether the device is now actually using DMA mode. If so, congratulations, you’ve made it (at least until the next time Windows disables DMA again!).

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