Windows 7 Boot Camp Partition Won’t Start (OS X Lion)

The Short Version: I fixed the problem by running the “Repair Disk” option in Disk Utility.

I attempted to boot into Windows 7 (Boot Camp partition) but it failed. Instead, the system restarted back into OS X. I knew I had a working partition and had used it recently. Rather than search for tips I went straight into Disk Utility in OS X, clicked on my primary hard drive, and selected “Repair Disk”.

The process only took a moment and in the report it showed that the Windows boot.ini file was updated.

I started the Windows partition back up and this time it worked.

UPS Battery Indicator In OS X Restarts Continuously After Launching VMWare Fusion

The Short Version: The UPS’s USB connection had been inadvertently shared with the virtual machine. Setting it to only be accessible by the host OS (OS X) solved the problem.

Recently I noticed my virtual machine instance under VMWare Fusion (3.1.3) seemed to be running unusually slow on my Mac. Yesterday I noticed that the status indicator for my battery backup kept appearing and disappearing in the menu bar.

While inspecting the energy settings for both OS X (Lion) and Windows 7 (VM) I decided to check the connected USB devices for the virtual machine. Sure enough, my CyberPower UPS was showing as connected to to the Windows 7 guest OS. I have no idea how this happened. There’s no reason I would have intentionally connected the USB interface for the my UPS to to the VM. Perhaps I clicked on it when intending to connect a different device at some point.

Regardless, as soon as I disconnected the UPS from the VM both systems started functioning at a more normal speed and the status indicator stayed in the menu bar instead of restarting.

Craftsman Lawn Tractor Won’t Move Forward (917. 289081)

The Short Version: One of the belts had jumped off the transaxle pulley. After putting the belt back on the pulley (easily accessed beneath the battery) it moved forward and backwards without any problems.

Last weekend I decided to work on the lawn mower so I could get some yard work done. I replaced a tire and bought a battery charger to recharge a dead battery. After getting all of this fixed I started up the mower, parked it near the back door for a moment, went into the house to get a couple of things, and then came back out and put the mower in reverse.

It didn’t work. The mower wouldn’t move forward or backward. The engine was running just fine but when I tried to change gears or move it simply didn’t do anything.

I shut down the mower, put it into “freewheel”, and pushed it back to its parking spot. A few days later I went back out to see if I could figure out what the problem is. I started by checking the freewheel control, watching the linkage but nothing seemed wrong.

While I was down on the ground I happened to look up into the area beneath the battery compartment and that’s when I discovered the cause. Here’s a photo of the same section from the top, with the battery removed:

The belt that connected to the transaxle pulley had jumped off (left). I put it back on the pulley (right) (below, out of view), moved it until the belt tensed up, and then cranked up the mower.

It moved forward and in reverse just like it used to. I may go ahead and replace the belt soon since it’s probably lost tension (its about three years old) but at the moment it works just fine.

Updated 06/07/2012: The last time I had the battery compartment open I went ahead and cleaned out that mess of debris that is visible in the photo above.

Updated 09/09/2013: While working on fixing a couple of problems that I created I also discovered that the belt may not have been properly routed when we had to have the original seller service the mower (for this very problem, though at the time I hadn’t figured it out). Specifically, I believe the belt was not routed through an additional pulley toward the rear of the mower. Admittedly, this was not entirely the fault of the service folks. The pulley does not appear on the diagram underneath the mower for this belt. Having since put the old belt back on, and routed it through this pulley, it hasn’t jumped loose. At the moment I’m convince that my belt wasn’t as stretch as I thought it was.

Bluetooth Sliding Keyboard Case for iPhone

Several weeks ago my wife gave me a $25 gift certificate for ThinkGeek. It took me a while to decide what to buy using the gift certificate. Eventually, I decided to get a Bluetooth Sliding Keyboard Case for iPhone, which cost about $35 before shipping. I’ve never been especially happy with the iPhone on-screen keyboard. It’s not terrible but I thought a physical keyboard might be more useful for writing longer e-mails or notes.

Unfortunately, I haven’t used it since the first week after it arrived. In the end it just isn’t as convenient as I was expecting. It’s lacking two features that I think might have made it useful. First, the keyboard (at least on this version) isn’t backlit so it’s useless in low lighting conditions. The other reason, which might have made it more useful in the dark, is the lack of any kind of bumps or other markers on certain keys that would provide a form of touch-typing. Instead, I spent the entire time looking at the keyboard while typing because all of the keys feel the same.

The product certainly works as expected, but it doesn’t have enough features to make it more convenient to use than the on-screen keyboard. Quite frankly, I would have been more satisfied if I had purchased something else from ThinkGeek.

Updated 11/18/2012: I tried using this product again several months ago but it just isn’t practical.

Updated 12/10/2012: I sold it in a yard sale for a few bucks.

RetroBit Retro Adapter NES Controller to USB Port Adapter

Using an original game console controller makes a big difference when playing emulated games. The experience can end up being as good as playing an original system. There’s just a certain feel to the buttons that usually can’t be replicated with a newer controller. It’s a combination of several factors (how the buttons feel, the size of the controller, etc).

A couple of months ago I bought some original NES controllers at a pawn shop for about $5 each. They sat in a drawer unused until I purchased two RetroBit Retro Adapter NES Controller to USB Port Adapters (under $12 each) from Amazon.

The adapters seem to work perfectly. I was able to use one adapter and one controller in OS X Lion with Nestopia without any problems. Some time soon I’ll hook up two controllers at the same time to find out if they can be used at the same time for two-player games.

I’ve very satisfied with these adapters. Playing older games with them is a lot more fun that using a modern USB controller. I’m looking forward to receiving a set of SNES controllers I’ve ordered, which I’ll use with an SNES to USB controller adapter that I already own.