How to download the Cisco VPN Client software

If you are trying to download the Cisco VPN client 4.x or 5.x then prepare for the bad news. You can’t. Not unless you are a registered customer that is.

Where can I download the Cisco VPN Client software?

A. You must log in and possess a valid service contract in order to access the Cisco VPN Client software. Cisco VPN Client software can be downloaded from the Cisco Download Software ( registered customers only) page. If you do not have a valid service contract associated with your Cisco.com profile, you cannot log in and download the VPN client software.

In order to obtain a valid service contract, you can:

  • Contact your Cisco Account team if you have a Direct Purchase Agreement.
  • Contact a Cisco Partner or Reseller in order to purchase a service agreement.
  • Use the Profile Manager ( registered customers only) in order to update your Cisco.com profile and request association to a service agreement.

See the Cisco VPN Client FAQs for further information.

Photo by blickpixel (Pixabay)

LG Google Nexus 4 – How to fix no SIM card error

This morning I tried to switch my mobile phone on, only to be greeted by an error. It stated in the top left corner:

No SIM card. Emergency Calls only.

The date on the phone was set to the 1st of Janurary and every time I tried to restart the phone the error would not go away.

I removed the SIM card from the device using a bent staple (I couldn’t find that little widget to open it properly), and checked to make sure everything was clean.

Finally, I noticed that flight mode was still on. I went into the settings and switched flight mode off. I then restarted the phone and the SIM personal lock code appeared. After entereing my PIN successfully the phone was back to normal.

Hopefully this helps anyone else with the same error.

Data recovery on a MAC HFS journalled external drive

A friend of mine recently asked me whether I had any experience of data recovery. Her WD Elements external hard drive was no longer mountable and she had years of data stored on it. A data recovery company was asking for 800 EUR to fix it.

After a bit of Googling, I came up with two tools. The first was PhotoRec and the second was TeskDisk. I downloaded the Ultimate Boot CD, which is essentially a bunch of LINUX tools that run off a bootable CD. Both PhotoRec and TeskDisk are available on that disk.

Ultimate Boo CD v5.3 boot up screen

I first ran PhotoRec. and it successfully started to extract her files off the disk. Since PhotoRec was working so well I started to realise that the disk was probably not that corrupted, so I killed the PhotoRec process.

My gut feeling was that the partitions were still there, but the MBR was corrupted, probably because the disk had been pulled out of the machine without being unmounted first.

TestDisk isn’t that obvious but I battled through with it. First you choose to [Create] a new log file.

teskdisk – create new log file

Then you choose the physical disk that you want to work with. I choose based on the disk size since I knew it was 1000GB (i.e. 1TB). It was labelled /dev/sda.

The first thing you have to do is to select a partition type. I knew this disk had been setup on an older Mac, so I choose [EFI GPT].

TeskDisk – Choose a partition type. I chose EFI GPT

I then select to [Analyse]

It found two partitions. One EFI and the other was Mac HFS. You can move between the two partitions. The EFI one had the [P] option to ‘list files’.  The Mac HFS one didn’t. I chose the [Deeper Search] option and it started to scan the drive in more detail.

The process was so slow on this 1TB drive that i left it run overnight. This process ended up listing what seemed like hundreds on Mac HFS partitions. That seemed strange. I then Googled around and realised that the HFS system is “journalled”, meaning that the file system stores versions of your data. Each partition was a slightly different version of the same data. I came across a post that suggested I could use the ‘pdisk’ utility to rebuild all of those partitions, but it meant naming and sizing all of those (what seemed like) hundreds of partitions. The lazy hacker in me said no. There must be a better option.

I researched further and came across Revision of Case Study: Repair mac filesystem. I followed through the [Advanced] section [Superblock] and noted that I also had the error “Sectors are not identical”. I selected [Backup BS], which then seemed to fix the issue.

I then asked my friend to plugin the drive into her Mac. It still didn’t mount, but using the built-in Mac Disk Utility app, it could now see the drive! Result.

However, the volume/partition was greyed out. The right hand panel noted that the volume needed to be repaired. We clicked on repair and the Disk Utility went through a series of checks that were output in the Disk Utility output panel. Finally we had a green light and the disk popped up on the desktop.

It was fixed!

ASUS N56VM frequent crash with screen shake reboot required – SOLVED – WORKAROUND

I recently bought a new ASUS N56VM with 16GB of RAM from KL Computer Ltd, otherwise known as asuslaptop.co.uk. I have had persistent problems with it since I bought it. The notebook will crash frequently and seemly intermittently  The screen starts to shake back-and-fore quite violently on the vertical axis. The only solution is to hard reset the computer. In other words, hold the power button until the machine restarts! The one bonus is that the machine is so fast with a 512GB SSD drive and the 16GB of RAM, that the restart only takes seconds, but you obviously lose everything that you were doing.

After some investigation I have now realised that this laptop wasn’t designed to take 16GB of RAM. The recommended limit is 8GB:

DDR3 PC3-12800, Memory Type: DDR3 PC3-12800, DDR3 (non-ECC), Maximum Memory: 8GB, Slots: 2. Each memory slot can hold DDR3 PC3-12800 with a maximum of 4GB per slot [Not to exceed manufacturer supported memory].

That isn’t to say 16GB shouldn’t work of course. I came to realise however, that the notebook RAM was upgraded by the reseller, and didn’t come from the factory like this.

KL Computers inserted 2 x Corsair 8GB DDR3 SODIMM Memory (CMSO8GX3M1A1333C9). The RAM is a good brand and should be fine. However, I think this RAM is part of the problem, either the make, or the amount.

The laptop features has an NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M graphics with 2GB of DDR3 RAM and an Intel HD Graphics 4000. NVIDIA s Optimus real-time switching functionality lets the GeForce kick in when it’s needed and kick back the rest of the time, limiting power drain and maximizing battery life.

I have had persistent problems with the laptop crashing due to this feature. I believe it is a clash between the RAM when the Optimus feature switches, primarily when down-shifting to the Intel HD Graphics 4000. Here is a similar example on YouTube, except for this user the shaking is in the horizontal axis:

The laptop got sent back to ASUS support in Germany (LetMeRepair) and they rather unhelpfully only replied that the memory that the reseller used was “non-ASUS” and “not compatible”. Their BurnInTest was successful with test RAM, and they sent me the laptop back without any fix, nor any suggestion of which RAM would be compatible.

Has anyone else seen this happen? If so, has anyone got a RAM recommendation to run 16GB of RAM in this laptop without issue? I’d love to hear from you if you have similar problems, or none at all with your 16GB RAM N56VM!

I have now got a work around to stop this happening. I just stopped the Optimus switching from occuring in the NVIDIA setting. the setting isn’t entirely obvious. In Windows 7, click on the Start button, and type NVIDIA Control Panel into the All Programs search panel. Open the NVIDIA Control Panel and select 3D Settings > Manage 3D Settings from the left panel. Under the Global Settings tab on the right, switch the Preferred graphics processor to anything but Automatic. The High Performance NVIDIA Processor will of course use more battery, the Integrated Graphics less so. Set as appropriate to your environment. I think that switching the Power Management Mode from Adaptive to Prefer Maximum Performance, would do pretty much the same thing.

I hope that helps others that are having the same issue. Please feel free to leave a comment if it helped you!

Update:
J.D. Hodges over at jdhodges.com notes the following in reference to this post that others might find helpful, especially if you are interested in a hardware (replacement RAM) solution, rather than a software hack.

A few suggestions and a memory recommendation follow:
#1 Have you tried updating your BIOS, NVIDIA video drivers, and Intel video drivers?
#2 Have you tried adjusting video settings in the BIOS and in the video drivers?
Barring those suggestions solving the problem,
#3 My memory recommendation would be: Crucial 16GB KIT 2X8GB PC3-12800
++Reason for recommending this RAM: there is a confirmed report of this memory working in the N56VM (specific details are in the comments after the review at that link).
+Likewise, Crucial also guarantees compatibility with a similar (2x4GB) configuration on their website and this leads me to believe the 16GB kit would operate similarly (alas, since ASUS states a max 8GB of memory for the laptop, I doubt Crucial will actually guarantee the 16GB kit)

and in the comments Alexandre comments:

Unfortunately, the CL10 keep the same problem with the Asus N56VZ but only if you play heavy games, for work is great, what i have been recomended is to buy the Kingston Technology KVR16S11 / 8 GB de RAM, that is a CL11, i will keep posted, if i have good news.