AntPro Systems Group

AntPro Systems Group AntPro exists today primarily as a vehicle for distributing computers and other IT gear into marginalized communities at no cost to the recipients.

Operating as usual

11/14/2020

WORK IN PROGRESS
I did not intend this to be a write up, it is just some guidance provided to a bright mind. But, I kinda TLDRed my way into a good piece. Will edit later.
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Remote diagnostic based solely on user report.
Bad card.
OP can stop reading now.

Please note: BIOS default settings are likely to enable the appropriate port. Nobody wants to take a call about no wifi when the coin battery ages out.

Also, BIOS IS ALMOST NEVER THE REASON for a sudden failure not reported in POST.

All reported evidence suggests a failed wifi NIC or port. BIOS is not reporting the device to Windows. There are two options in BIOS that may apply. If the NIC is USB, ensure that USB port is enabled or enable all USB ports. If the NIC is PCIe, ensure reserved PCIe port is enabled. In a consumer class laptop, these settings can be less granular. Dells typically split controls across two headings. "Onboard Devices" and "Security".

Assume user does not touch BIOS as a matter of practice or bad habit. User reports BIOS mods and/or default reset were performed only as an attempt at remedy, so BIOS is not suspect. There is a proof.

Remove ALL power/battery (ignore coin), press power button for a few seconds and then ignore device for a minute.

Re-attach all power. Detach LAN port if connected. Boot. If the DATE/TIME is correct, BIOS is not suspect.

If DATE/TIME is incorrect, failed coin battery is proved and BIOS settings are now diagnostic. Check port settings.

Any BIOS error derived from anything other than user settings or failed battery will present in POST. Boot will halt and report error condition or code to screen or provide beep error code. No video or no power-on response excepted. No video almost always indicates failed RAM. No response to power-on may indicate fault at power adapter port or failed CPU (check the brick and/or check for adapter port wiggle).

Assume BIOS settings were not user modified between last working condition and first failed condition.

Check Device Manager. Look for splat. Not all splats are bad, especially if device pre-dates Windows 10 initial release. Common to devices with fingerprint readers, IME or TPM support, or "drop protection". If there is no NIC splat, look for "Other Devices". If "Other Devices" is present, see below - Other Devices Process.

If "Other Devices" is not present AND all ports/specific port are BIOS enabled, BIOS is not reporting the device/port to Windows. Re-seat NIC. Remove, insert. Do not wiggle - common causes of poor seat include oxidization and wiggle does not remedy. Assemble sufficient to boot. Test.

If no joy, replace NIC with known good NIC. Assemble sufficient to boot. Test. If joy, problem solved.
Complete assembly and re-test.

If no joy, and card is reasonably expected to function, repeat process with a different known good NIC. If no joy, port failure is proved.

Internal port failures are VRM circuitry related. VRM circuit problems are capable of destroying all data on the storage devices, fry CPUs, fry wifi NICs, explode lithium batteries, etc.
Buy new laptop.

If purchase is not an option, grab a USB wifi thumb. Do not overspend. No need for a USB3 thumb in a USB2 port. N-class USB2 wifi thumbs are commonly less than $20.

For the interested parties, the above detail illustrates why drivers are not suspect in this case. There is no splat, there is no unknown device. Windows does not know the device is there.
Don't See Device = Don't Need Driver.
.

Other Devices Process
If "Other Devices" is present, select each listed device. These are 'unknown devices'. For each unknown device, double-click to open Properties. Select Details tab. Drop down list and select Hardware ID. It does not matter which drop down entry you select. The shortest is sufficient. Right click VID###x&PID###x and choose Copy.

Open browser. Paste (not paste and go). Remove leading "USB/" if present Not all search engines handle the leading "USB/" gracefully. We only need complete VID & PID (Vendor ID and Product ID). Search. This will reveal the identity of the unknown device. For whatever reason, product support is not canned in Windows. Not an uncommon thing. Locate driver from reputable source, Sometimes, you have to go all the way to the chip maker. Common with RealTek devices. RealTek makes the chips on many NICs (and audio devices).

CAUTION: The google return on a search for VID&PID is a list that contains some VERY nasty sources. Keyloggers, IP redirects, payloads. Very Bad Things. Drivers communicate DIRECTLY with the device in assembly language from the kernel. Devices with buffers (such as NICs) provide a storage location for ill code. It is possible to create a worm at a level below the HAL. The worm will communicate in machine code directly to the CPU. Ask Iran if they enjoyed StuxNet.

Remember, a CPU is just a form of software in a hardwired configuration. A CPU is hackable from the bus. See Spectre MeltDown.

Do not trust anything there if the domain is not recognized as a trusted source. You WILL encounter some underhanded marketing techniques. Just Say No. You are looking for a driver and drivers are free. Driver install does not require any software not contained in the driver release. Included here is a link to Device Hunt. Provided as a tool for locating obscure drivers.

Another note:
Driver Manager software is problematic. I won't TLDR you on this point. The knowledge contained herein is sufficient to negate the need for toys.

RELAX: Devices built for WinH8 and WindX are likely to appear at the top of the list, branded, and from a trusted domain. There are a handful of valid reasons why driver support is not canned. Those reasons include device was made for WinH8 and the manufacturer chose not to fund WindX support migration. If you can't find a wifi driver for your device model, identify a more current model that uses the same chip AND has WindX support and use that driver. It is 100% compatible.

Doug Thwaites repository interface
https://devicehunt.com/about

VID repository
http://pci-ids.ucw.cz/

USB PID repository
http://www.linux-usb.org/usb.ids

NobamaPhone: Free SDN in the 21st Century
09/19/2020
NobamaPhone: Free SDN in the 21st Century

NobamaPhone: Free SDN in the 21st Century

With a one-time nominal install cost, you can have a VoIP landline for $0 monthly recurring charge. Free phone service from the private market. NobamaPhone. I paid $40 for a single port device that…

Create A Mirrored Storage Space via PowerShellCreates a resilient storage space (analogous to RAID1 mirror) formatted in...
04/24/2020
Create ReFS Volume From Windows 10 Pro | Experts Exchange

Create A Mirrored Storage Space via PowerShell

Creates a resilient storage space (analogous to RAID1 mirror) formatted in ReFS, labeled as "Archive" with drive letter Z.

The following commands use hardcoded variables. You might want to modify the values.
Step 06 - StoragePool = "Pool1"
Step 10 - VirtualDisk = "vDisk1"
Step 15 - Drive letter = "Z"
Step 15 - File System Format = ReFS*

*For guidance on enabling ReFS in Windows 10 Pro, see my tutorial at Experts Exchange:
https://www.experts-exchange.com/articles/31679/Create-ReFS-Volume-From-Windows-10-Pro.html

Step 10 includes two options and is listed twice. The COLUMNS value should be [DISK COUNT / 2]

AntPro Systems Group does not support thin provisioning in Storage Spaces implementations and will not debate the point unless a retainer is paid.

**********************************
01. Run PowerShell as Admin

02. Set-ExecutionPolicy Unrestricted

03. Get-PhysicalDisk

04. Get-PhysicalDisk -CanPool $True | ft FriendlyName,OperationalStatus,Size,MediaType

05. $Pooldisks = Get-Physicaldisk | ? {$_.CanPool -eq $true}

06. New-StoragePool -PhysicalDisks $Pooldisks -StorageSubSystemFriendlyName "Windows Storage*" -FriendlyName Pool1

07. Get-StoragePool -FriendlyName Pool1 | Get-PhysicalDisk | Select FriendlyName, MediaType

08. Get-StoragePool Pool1 | Get-PhysicalDisk | Set-PhysicalDisk -MediaType HDD

09. Get-StoragePool -FriendlyName Pool1 | Get-PhysicalDisk | Select FriendlyName, MediaType

10. Two-way mirror virtual disk with Number of Columns=1.
New-VirtualDisk -StoragePoolFriendlyName Pool1 -FriendlyName vDisk1 -ResiliencySettingName Mirror -NumberOfDataCopies 2 -ProvisioningType Fixed -UseMaximumSize -NumberOfColumns 1 -Verbose

10. Two-way mirror virtual disk with Number of Columns=2.
New-VirtualDisk -StoragePoolFriendlyName Pool1 -FriendlyName vDisk1 -ResiliencySettingName Mirror -NumberOfDataCopies 2 -ProvisioningType Fixed -UseMaximumSize -NumberOfColumns 2 -Verbose

11. Get-VirtualDisk vDisk1 | Get-Disk | Set-Disk -IsReadOnly 0
12. Get-VirtualDisk vDisk1 | Get-Disk | Set-Disk -IsOffline 0
13. Get-VirtualDisk vDisk1 | Get-Disk | Initialize-Disk -PartitionStyle GPT
14. Get-VirtualDisk vDisk1 | Get-Disk | New-Partition -DriveLetter Z -UseMaximumSize
15. Initialize-Volume -DriveLetter "Z" -FileSystem ReFS -Confirm:$false -NewFileSystemLabel Archive

Learn more about Create ReFS Volume From Windows 10 Pro from the expert community at Experts Exchange

02/02/2020

Currently, the secondary market is flooded with small form factor (SFF) and ultra small form factor (USFF) desktops. We can source SFF and USFF devices at 20% the cost of laptops. While we will process laptops, chromebooks, and tablets, AntPro will shift away from laptops for the greater part of 2020. This will allow us to double our production.

06/23/2019

For a limited time, AntPro will provide one each:
Dell E6540
Dell E6430
Dell E6230

Each unit has AC1200 wifi, 8GB RAM, SSD OS drive, HDD secondary drive (except the E6230 units). Some of the E6540 units have dual SSD + HDD. No hot bricks.

Submit request in writing.

Contrary to common advice, WindX fits and runs well on under-provisioned 32GB SSDs.Well, it did.  Those days are over.  ...
01/15/2019
Windows 10 and reserved storage

Contrary to common advice, WindX fits and runs well on under-provisioned 32GB SSDs.

Well, it did. Those days are over. Future releases will employ a (minimum) 7GB reservation for update rollbacks.

In the WindX environment, the working life of 32GB SSDs has been exceeded by system requirements. Where applicable, AntPro will re-configure multiple SSD installs. AntPro has not deployed any single 32GB SSD platforms.

The official blog of the Windows and Windows Server storage engineering teams

01/08/2019

I frequently toggle Hidden Files / Show File Extensions, or need to restart Explorer. I also have a drive with sensitive data that I like to hide.

This reg file adds a cascading folder to the directory context menu. "AntTools" is directory on the C root that contains "portable apps".

VBS.cmd scripts shown in comments

------BEGIN CODE------
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\Background\Shell\AntShell]
"MUIVerb"="AntTools"
"SubCommands"="initshell;togext;toghid;togX"
"icon"="explorer.exe"
"position"="bottom"

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\CommandStore\shell\initshell]
@="Restart Explorer"
"icon"="explorer.exe,12"

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\CommandStore\shell\initshell\command]
@="C:\\AntTools\\bin\\ShellTools\\Restart_Explorer.bat"

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\CommandStore\shell\togext]
@="Toggle Extensions"
"icon"="C:\\Windows\\System32\\shell32.dll,73"

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\CommandStore\shell\togext\command]
@="cmd.exe /c start C:\\AntTools\\bin\\ShellTools\\Toggle_Extensions.vbs"

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\CommandStore\shell\toghid]
@="Toggle Hidden"
"icon"="C:\\Windows\\System32\\shell32.dll,22"

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\CommandStore\shell\toghid\command]
@="cmd.exe /c start C:\\AntTools\\bin\\ShellTools\\Toggle_Hidden.vbs"

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\CommandStore\shell\togX]
@="Toggle xDrive"
"icon"="explorer.exe,7"

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\CommandStore\shell\togX\command]
@="C:\\AntTools\\bin\\ShellTools\\xToggle\\xToggle.cmd"
------END CODE------

11/10/2018

What SpeedStep Is Not

This article is a cursory discussion of Intel SpeedStep Technology (SpeedStep) and Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology (EIST). The goal is more to illuminate what these technologies are and are not. The detail of how each technology works is not addressed here. Intel SpeedStep exists in several versions, dating back to the Pentium III processor. Intel's most current implementation, EIST (Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology), includes realtime Level 2 cache capacity variation.

It is worthy to note that AMD provides a similar group of technologies known as PowerNow!, Cool'n'Quiet, and Optimized Power Management (an adaptation of PowerNow! for newer Opterons).

Regardless of the processor type or class, and without regard to any particular generation, each of these technologies perform the same basic task - temporarily alter the operating frequency and power consumption of the processor(s) according to demand. Oversimplified, this is accomplished by altering the base frequency of the CPU, core voltage, or a combination of both. Low demand means less power needed, and obviously, high demand means more power.

Wiki arguably has the most concise definition (see link below) :
SpeedStep is a trademark for a series of dynamic frequency scaling technologies built into some Intel microprocessors that allow the clock speed of the processor to be dynamically changed by software. This allows the processor to meet the instantaneous performance needs of the operation being performed, while minimizing power draw and heat dissipation.

Because the scope of this article is narrowly focused, all the variants of this class of technology will be referenced as SpeedStep. Sorry, AMD. No disrespect intended.

SpeedStep is not really a single thing. SpeedStep is a group of components working together. In a manner of speaking, SpeedStep is a system. Remove any individual component and SpeedStep will no longer function.

SpeedStep requires -

Processor with SpeedStep technology
A chipset, BIOS, and voltage regulator that support it
Operating System support
A driver (for older variants or operating systems without native kernel support)

SpeedStep is not related to overclocking. It has nothing to do with the default or manually adjusted frequency that a CPU will operate at. Several computer BIOS settings are available to modify or control the variables that determine a CPU's operating frequency and/or core voltage. SpeedStep can be used in conjunction with these settings. You can have an overclocked computer that will clock down when all that extra power is not in use.

Overclocking (and under underclocking) works during POST (power on self test) and is persistent during boot and when the operating system loads. If you have an overclocked system, you can see the overclocked frequency onscreen during POST. If you have an underclocked system, you can see the underclocked frequency onscreen during POST.

SpeedStep does not function during POST, nor does it function during the boot process. Remember, SpeedStep requires an operating system to function, and the operating system has not loaded at that point. The frequency value presented onscreen during POST is a result of BIOS settings and not the SpeedStep system. If you have a properly configured and properly powered motherboard, the CPU frequency you see during POST is the standard operating frequency for your CPU. If the POST screen shows a CPU frequency lower than the rated speed of your processor, something is amiss in your BIOS settings or with the power system (PSU, battery and/or battery CMOS battery).

Once the operating system has loaded, you have several options in how SpeedStep can fulfill your needs. In Windows, these settings can be found in the Power Control Panel or under Power Options. See your User Guide or favorite web source for more information.

Additional reading:

A nice forum thread presenting a concise and easy to read explanation on how SpeedStep works and how to manage it. Written by Chilly at HardwareCanucks http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/cpus-motherboards/14026-whats-up-my-cpu-speedstep-f-q.html I am not a member at that site nor am I affiliated with it in any way.

SpeedStep
at WikiPedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SpeedStep
at Intel - (SpeedStep links not found) See EIST http://www.intel.com/technology/product/demos/eist/demo.htm
http://www.intel.com/support/processors/sb/CS-028855.htm

PowerNow!
at Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PowerNow!
at AMD - http://www.amd.com/us/products/technologies/amd-powernow-technology/Pages/amd-powernow-technology.aspx

Cool'n'Quiet -
at Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cool%27n%27Quiet
at AMD - http://www.amd.com/us/products/technologies/cool-n-quiet/Pages/cool-n-quiet.aspx

Links for AMD's Optimized Power Management are not provided. Users of that technology are not this article's target audience.

This article makes use of registered trade / service marks. Each belongs to its respective owner and is referenced herein for instructional purposes only.

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From time to time, I post something to this page.
From time to time, I post something to this page.