Author: Rob

I’m a keen technology and computing enthusiast and work as an IT consultant. My hobbies include PC gaming, electronic projects and tinkering with anything computer-related.

Alpine IXA-W404R Head Unit Optional Modules / Accessories

I recently picked up one of these head units very cheap from Facebook Marketplace. It appears to be a very modular unit with many accessories available for it. In fact I’d go as far as to say that many of the functions that it is designed for require optional modules to be purchased…not great from a consumer perspective but it seems to work for Alpine.

When researching this unit, I was unable to find a definitive list of all the compatible modules, so I have put together the following from various sources and I hope it is useful to someone. I have linked to the appropriate page on the Alpine or other suitable websites where possible.


Input Sources


Adapters & Cables


Audio Processing & Amplifiers



The user manual mentions the following but offers no part numbers or further information, I will update the details here if I find anything out.

  • “Vehicle Display Interface Box” – Interface box to output media information to dashboard MFDs, in some cases it can connect to and control in-car systems such as climate control and parking sensors. Also allows steering wheel controls in many cases. Vehicle support includes select BMW, Porsche, VW, Opel, Seat, Skoda and Renault from year approximately 2008 onwards. No mention of any other brands.
  • “Steering Controls Interface” – Same as above.

FIX: Windows 7, 8 & 10 Support & Drivers for Sony ICD-PX720 Voice Recorder / Dictaphone

For those of you who are looking to get your Sony ICD-PX720 voice recorder working under Windows 7 or above, no doubt you have probably stumbled upon this post.

I’m glad to report that I have found success when faced with this issue myself.

The problem: Sony have replaced the original software that came with these devices with an newer software program, however, the new software neither works with the recorder, nor does it contain the drivers necessary to use the device on Window 7, 8 or 10.

The solution: After several hours of searching, I came across this post on the Microsoft forums from another frustrated owner. A responder to that post links to a installer for the original software which both supports the device AND includes the all-important drivers. As the download is still hosted on the Sony servers, there’s a good chance that the link may not work forever, and will eventually be taken down given that Sony do not want to support the older software any more. For this reason, I have mirrored the download here. Just download and install as you would any other program, and then plug in your device. If you find that it does not automatically install the driver, you can manually browse to it’s location in the folder:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Sony\ICD-PX Series Driver\

Feel free to comment if you need any further guidance getting this working. I have successfully tested it on Windows 7 Pro x64 and Windows 10 Pro x64.

FIX: Peugeot Planet 2000 WINCAD Error on a Virtual Machine

Hi all, another quick fix. Credit goes to crazycarl over at Peugeot Forums and I am reposting here just to ensure it remains available for the forseeable future.

When running PP2000 inside a virtual machine, as many users do nowadays, you may see the following error on certain computers, depending on the processor that they use:

WINCAD caused a general protection fault in module WIN87EM.DLL at 0001:02C9

In my case, I am using VirtualBox to run my VM, I don’t know if this fix applies to VMWare, or even whether this error occurs on VMWare.

The fix that seems to work for me is:

1. Download “Winfloat.exe” to your VM.
2. Double-click on “Winfloat.exe” to extract files to C: drive.
3. Copy “” to the c:\windows\system32 directory.
4. Open the “autoexec.nt” file (c:\windows\system32\autoexec.nt) with a text editor like Wordpad.
5. Add “lh c:\windows\system32\” to the “autoexec.nt” file.
6. Save the file, and exit.
7. Reboot the Virtual Machine.
8. Done!


WordPress Help – How to display WP-Toolset Multiple Image Field in a Lightbox Gallery

Here’s a quick one. On recently needing to design a website for a client which utilises custom post types and fields from the WP-Toolset plugin, I needed a way to display multiple images with lightbox functionality.

Here is how I achieved this:

First install the Foobox Image Lightbox plugin from the WordPress directory. I chose this one because it is fast, responsive, simple, and the free version offered all the features I needed.

Then go to your Content Templates section within Toolset and open the template that you need. We will now make use of the following code to take each image from a multiple image field and display it with a clickable lightbox link.

[wpv-for-each field="wpcf-photo"]
<a href="[types field='photo' output="raw"][/types]" class="foobox" rel="gallery">
<img class="object-fit" src="[types field='photo' output="raw"][/types]"></a>

To explain the above code a little, if you need it. The class="foobox" is required to invoke the lightbox plugin and tell it to act upon the following image. The rel="gallery" value tells Foobox to group all of the images into a gallery wwith previous/next buttons rather than requiring you to click each photo in turn. The output="raw" tells Toolset to output the URL to the image, rather than the image itself, obviously we require the URL to make this work. In this case, I have applied a simple style using class="object-fit" to output the image in a fixed-size square with the image centered and cropped to fit. If it is of any use or interest, the CSS for this property is:

img.object-fit {
margin: 5px;
width: 300px;
height: 300px;
border-radius: 15px;
object-fit: cover;
border: 1px solid;

Hopefully this will help someone who was in the same boat as me, me not being a professional designer it did take me a while to figure it out and piece together code from various sources. If you need further help, hit me up in the comments and I’ll see what I can do.

Warning: eBay Listing Work From Home Job Scam [email protected] Helen at Globaltrex Wayne Johnson Facebook

I recently noticed a job opportunity making the rounds on social media. See below:

Being in need of work myself, I thought I would respond and see where it went. I emailed the address as advised and told them about my previous eBay history:

I then shortly received the following response:

Initially I only noticed the one spelling mistake “spear” instead of “spare” and the occasional lack of capital letters so it’s not as bad as most scam emails. Notice that for such a successful company, they don’t say who they are. Alarm bells also rang when the income example they gave included a item valued at £500, and that how it worked involved receiving money myself and passing it on to them upon sale. Whilst I haven’t heard of a scam like this, it didn’t take me long to piece together a scenario which would leave me out of pocket so I then went on to ask a few more questions. A Google search on their email address and “Globaltrex” name also revealed absolutely nothing. Had no one fallen for it so far? And why would such a “successful company” not be listed anywhere? I checked out the email headers to see where the message was sent from and it turned out to be a iPhone on the O2 UK network which added a little hope, at least it was in the UK and not Nigeria for once!

She duly responded to my questions:

Notice how it starts off with a defensive statement “Hun I assure you”. If it was legitimate, a person would offer up some proof straight away not just say “I assure you”. A large successful business would also have a website and a registered business, and as it’s a eBay business they would presumably have a store with a proven feedback record as well. She avoided the topic and did not provide any proof at all and simply offered to move on and find someone else. I then did some searching and eventually found a useful combination of search terms which revealed hundreds of results relating to this scam, even some which had made it onto the UK JobCenter website! See for yourself here. I let her know about my findings and that I was not happy to proceed. She was of course quick to brush it off and find another victim.

Stay safe people! Hopefully this post will end up in a Google search and prevent at least one other person from falling victim to this scam. Let me know in the comments if you found this post useful.

[Update] Gmail Account Suspended After Adding POP3 Imported Account

Just a quick update on my previous post with this problem.

I eventually managed to get all of the accounts setup fine, however, every damn one of them got suspended in the process. I found a way around that though.

As long as you setup the POP3 import and leave the box UNCHECKED for “leave a copy of retrieved messages on the server”, you will then receive a email on your previous email system indicating that the account is suspended, and most importantly, some directions to appeal this decision.

After having a human at Gmail manually unsuspend the first two problem accounts for me (roughly 8 hours after submitting the appeal), the other 4 accounts were automatically unsuspended as soon as I submitted the appeal request which allowed me to continue setting up the accounts.

So from what I have learned here, the reason for suspension is completely unknown but is NOT for breach of terms and conditions (which I have thoroughly read every single word to make sure), And if this is happening to several different accounts, once the first couple are reviewed by staff at Google, I guess they whitelist your IP address or similar to have the others automatically resolved when you appeal it.

[ONGOING] Gmail Account Suspended After Adding POP3 Imported Account

I was recently tasked with setting up a handful of Gmail accounts for a company, creating the accounts worked fine as expected, but when trying to add their business email address as a POP3 import/send as address I have been facing some issues where the accounts are becoming suspended and at risk of deletion. Gmail’s reasoning for this? Apparently “Terms of Service Violation”. I have thoroughly read through the several pages of their Terms of Service, and there is not one rule within that, that we are breaking here.

To make matters even worse, I chose not to leave a copy of imported messages on the server (to free up mailbox space on the POP3 server) which means that all emails from the company address have been sucked up into Gmail and are being held at ransom, if I can’t get Gmail to unsuspend those accounts, the thousands of business emails will be gone for good.

My findings so far:

  • I am able to setup a account import from a POP3 account easily, it imports the messages fine, no problems at all there.
  • However, when setting up “send mail as” for this address, as soon as Gmail sends out the verification email to the address it is causing the Gmail account to immediately logout and state that it has been suspended. This is reflected by a email from Google sent to the recovery email address for the account stating that one can appeal the decision and wait for a response from their staff.

Of course this is very inconvenient and nerve wracking to think that crucial business emails are at risk of deletion, not to mention the downtime that it is causing for the users in question who are unable to deal with their emails in the meantime. I’m unsure what could be triggering this but presumably this is some sort of anti-spam measure. However, this is not a suitable way for Gmail to deal with the problem. Ideally, they should show a captcha or similar instead in a situation like this.

The Gmail accounts have been phone verified already, but for the first two accounts I was able to successfully appeal to Google, thankfully were reinstated after waiting about 10 hours for them to review the issue. I was then prompted to re-verify the phone number again when logging into the account again.

I have reached out to @gmail on Twitter to find out more, I won’t hold my breath but hopefully they will come back with some suitable answers and maybe even a change in their procedures to prevent this from happening again.

[FIX] Samsung Series 5 550 Chromebook, Linux Mint 18 / Ubuntu Xenial Not Refreshing Wireless Networks After Resume

After recently installing Linux Mint 18 on my Samsung Series 5 550 Chromebook, I noticed that after a system standby/resume, my wireless network list was not refreshing or connecting to networks if in a new location (for example, suspending the system at home, then resuming when at work it would not find new networks).

The following fix was found to work fine for me, credit goes to Ubuntu Forums here.

Apparently this is common for Broadcom wireless cards, mine however was a Atheros 93xx card:

[email protected] ~ $ lspci | grep -i wireless
01:00.0 Network controller: Qualcomm Atheros AR93xx Wireless Network Adapter (rev 01)

The fix was to create a new file:

sudo nano /etc/pm/sleep.d/10_restart-networkmanager

Paste the following into it:
case "$1" in
service network-manager restart
# Do nothing

Make sure root is the owner of the file:
sudo chown root /etc/pm/sleep.d/10_restart-networkmanager

And make the file executable:
sudo chmod +x /etc/pm/sleep.d/10_restart-networkmanager

Once done, reboot the laptop and you should then be able to suspend and resume the system without problems, upon resume, it will restart network-manager to work around the issue.

[Fix] Fallout 4 PC – Keyboard & Mouse Not Working – Logitech

Yesterday I started playing the Fallout 4 PC game. I was confronted with an issue right at the beginning of the game on the screen that says “Press any key to start” where no keys were detected so I couldn’t begin the game.

After some extensive searching, almost all answers were related to having a game pad or controller plugged into the computer, and the fix was to unplug it before starting the game or use the controller to go into the game settings and disable it. For me, this was not the case, I do not have a game pad or controller on my PC.

Eventually I figured out that it was the software for my Logitech G19 keyboard that was being falsely detected by the game as a controller. Unplugging the keyboard did not make a difference, but if I completely exit the Logitech Gaming Software before starting the game it worked flawlessly. I could then begin the game, and go into the game option screen to disable controller support. Once that has been done, you can run the Logitech Gaming Software again without it interfering with the game. You can still use the macros and hotkeys of your Logitech device after this.

As I couldn’t find any mention of this being the cause of the error, I thought I’d publish this post to help others.

3D Printer Upgrades for Prusa i3

My blog posts over the last year haven’t been as regular as I’d hoped, but hopefully it will change, at least temporarily for the next few weeks.

I own a Prusa i3 3D printer. It’s a great device, but I haven’t done half of the things I know it is capable of and have barely used it since I first got it but I’ve recently had some time to do some more with it and have had some great success following the previous issues that I had. I did somewhat jump in at the deep end with it, I knew nothing about 3D printers prior to this and I purchased a Prusa i3 kit because it was very cheap compared to other models available at the time. It was a self-build kit, all well and good as I am very technically minded and love a good project. What I wasn’t prepared for were the issues with getting it printing. The software is good and easy to understand, however trying to solve the various issues I had with it was another matter. Luckily, I discovered a local hackspace not too far from me and a awesome chap known as Dino, with his excellent knowledge of 3D printers helped iron out the issues and get it printing well.

Since then, I’ve printed quite a few items with great success, I get the odd hiccup from it but with my new found knowledge and the great online communities on Reddit and Facebook have proved so helpful with any issues I’ve had, and some insightful input on suggestions.

I’ve since decided to do a lot of upgrades to my printer which I’m very much looking forward to.

I will be upgrading the current E3D v6 hot end to a E3D Chimera which allows printing in two different colours or two different materials, something I think will offer some good options for prints I do in the future. For example, I could load up two different materials and not have to worry about changing filaments when I want to print with one or the other. I could also load two different colours as well, something that can have great results from what I’ve seen online. The Chimera hot end is a very compact unit which will significantly lower the weight of my X-carriage so there will be less movement on the frame of the printer from the reduced weight, and also it will allow me to speed up the printing process significantly.

Another upgrade that I’m very excited about is air cooling. At the moment, I’ve get just the bare minimum in terms of cooling. Just a single fan on the hot end is all I’ve got. No fan to cool the print, no fan to cool the electronics or power supply either. The stepper motor drivers currently run very hot which isn’t good for them and has on occasion caused some issues when printing larger items. As I’ve got a decent air compressor at home, a Jun Air silent dental compressor with built in air dryer, I thought this would be perfect for the job to keep a constand supply of cool air running over the various parts of the printer.

I’ve ordered what will hopefully be all the components I need to try this as well as a handful of extras. I managed to snag a 4 way solenoid air control valve on ebay which I think will be perfect to control air feeds to various parts of the printer. I will be running OctoPrint software from a Raspberry Pi computer to control the printer as it is, and this also gives me the flexibility for other automation as well so I could have a range of temperature sensors on different parts of the printer (the power supply, RAMPS board etc) and have the Raspberry Pi turn on/off the relevant air feed using the solenoid valve. I’ve ordered 100 meters of polyurethane tube to run from my compressor in the shed to my printer inside the house, that’s far more tubing than I will ever need but I couldn’t resist the 100 meter roll that was selling for less than many 20 meter lengths on ebay. I’ve got big ideas and I really hope it will be effective and inspire others to do the same.

I’ve so far printed many of the parts I will need for the upgrades such as bearing mounts, axis and motor mounts which are slightly different as I will also be changing the smooth rods on my axis to stainless steel ones (from mild steel, which is going rusty), and changing the regular threaded rods on the Z axis to use proper lead screws which are far better to use for this purpose, I found a very good guide to this upgrade including parts that had already been designed on this blog and have successfully printed those parts so now I’m just awaiting the metal parts that I have ordered.

More will follow with my progress on these various upgrades. I’ll try to actually put some pictures on the upcoming posts as well to act as a good reference source for others.