Short takes: pairing my headphones, firewalls and Exchange SMTP communications, tethered photos with a Mac

Some more snippets that don’t quite make a blog post…

Because I always forget how to do this: how to pair a Plantronics BackBeat PRO headset with a mobile device.

And a little tip whilst troubleshooting connectivity to an Exchange Server server for hybrid connectivity with Office 365… if telnet ipaddress 25 gives a banner response from the SMTP server then that’s a good thing – if the firewall is interrupting transmission then I’ll get nothing back, or asterisks ********. Joe Palarchio (@JoePalarchio) writes about this (see issue 7) in his post on Common Exchange Online Hybrid Mail Flow Issues. Note that firewalls doing any form of blocking between Exchange servers are unsupported but that doesn’t stop customers from putting them between their email servers and anything running in the cloud (e.g. Hybrid server in Azure).  If you need to do this, then you should have any ANY/ANY rule (i.e. allow free flow of traffic) between the Exchange Server servers.

Take photos with OS X Image CaptureFinally, back in 2009, I  wrote about tethering a DLSR to a computer and taking pictures using Windows PowerShell (I think I’ve also written about using software to do this). Well, it turns out that the OS X Image Capture utility can also take a photo on a supported camera – either on a timed basis or by pressing a key.  Could be useful to know if setting up a time-lapse, or for studio work…

CANbus, replacement car stereos and dodgy steering wheel controls!

One of the side effects of no longer having a company car is that I’m having to take direct responsibility for maintenance again. It’s a world away from my days of learning how to maintain my Mum’s 1980 Ford Fiesta! For example, I recently learned how the wiring in modern cars is totally changed so that it uses a controller area network (CAN) and a serial bus to integrate the various electronic components and to reduce the amount of physical wiring in use. This CANbus system uses common wiring (CAN high and CAN low) and each device communicates using its own frequency… or at least that’s how it was explained to me.

Last month, I had a new car stereo fitted in my family’s 2008 Golf. The Pioneer DEH-4700BT was a bargain at just under £79 (from Halfords) including Bluetooth connectivity to multiple phones for calls and media playback but, by the time fitting and the various cables/adapters/fascia components had been added, the cost had gone up by another £100!

I’m amazed what a difference the new head unit makes on the existing speakers (apparently manufacturers tend to over-specify the speaker to avoid warranty claims if they are “blown” early in the vehicle’s life) but I also learned a little about the car electrics whilst it was being fitted for me.

Initially, the unit was wired in with a live feed taken from the cigarette lighter socket; however that wasn’t needed once all of the necessary parts arrived – the final piece being a stalk control adapter for integration with the steering wheel controls (I can re-use the permanent live if I buy a dash cam in future). Unfortunately, the use of these third party interfaces to the Volkswagen CAN has an interesting side-effect as it seems it listens for control on a range of frequencies, rather than a specific signal. This means that, when I use the steering wheel controls to adjust the car’s multi-function computer (e.g. to switch from fuel economy to distance driven), it skips forward/back a track on the stereo! One workaround is to switch the stereo to Aux input before changing the computer settings, then switching back again – but it is a bit clunky really!

I’ve since found a Mk5 Golf GTI forum post that suggests using Volkwagen’s own single-DIN facia unit and a Connects2 steering wheel interface. It certainly looks like a better finish but having already shelled out over £100, our car (which is certainly no GTI) will keep the AutoLeads version for now (I have an AutoLeads PC99-505 with PC99-SON, which I’m told is the same as the PC99-PIO Pioneer version, a PC2-75-4 harness adapter and an FP-17-03 fascia adapter with removable pocket).

Short takes: Windows 10 download location; btvstack.exe and Skype

Some more mini-posts glued together as a “short take”…

Windows 10 download location – no need to wait for a notification

As a “Windows Insider” (yeah, right, me and several million others…) I’ve been patiently waiting for the notification icon on my Family PC to tell me that Windows 10 is ready for me to download and install.  I didn’t expect it immediately on July 29th – anyway, I was on holiday last week so I could wait a few days – but I did hope I’d get it over the weekend (especially as I had a new PC to set up for my wife… more on that in a future post).

Well, after tweeting my frustration, I received multiple replies asking me why I didn’t download it directly. It seems you don’t need to wait for a notification icon, just download from the Microsoft website (either for a direct update, or to create media for other PCs). Just take note that this will not work for enterprise editions.

Incidentally (and thanks to Garry Martin for this tip), Rufus is a handy app for creating USB media from an .ISO image.

btvstack.exe wants to use Skype

When I launched Skype yesterday, it told me that btvstack.exe wants to use Skype and presented two options – allow or deny access. How do I know which to chose? What is btvstack.exe? Is it a piece of malware that will start running up huge Skype bills for me? Should I allow it.

Well, Rob Schmuecker (@robschmuecker) has already done the legwork and written a post that tells us “What is BtvStack.exe and why is Skype asking me to allow it?“. If the Skype developers were being a little less cryptic they might have said “Skype wants to use your computer’s Bluetooth radio to connect to a device – is that OK?”. You probably don’t need to allow access but if you use a Bluetooth headset, then maybe you will…

Connecting two Bluetooth devices at once to a Volkswagen Tiguan

Tomorrow, the leased Volkswagen Tiguan (2012 model) that I’ve been driving for the last three years is being collected. Only last week, I worked out how to do what I’ve wanted to do for most of the time I’ve had the car – i.e. to have one phone connected over Bluetooth for calls (my work phone) at the same time as another is connected for playing music/podcasts (my private phone).

As long as both devices are paired to the car, it’s pretty simple and the steps are in the video below:

 

If you can’t see the video, then these are the steps:

  1. Connect the phone that you want to use as a phone to the car. In the video you can see “Mark Wilson’s Lumia” is connected.
  2. using the steering wheel controls, scroll down to Bluetooth and click OK.
  3. Scroll down to Media player and click OK.
  4. Select Paired devices and click OK.
  5. Select the second device (in the video it’s “Mark’s iPhone) and click OK.
  6. Click OK at the Connect prompt, and again at the “End current connection?” prompt.
  7. After a few seconds, the second device should connect and you can play media content from this, whilst still making/receiving calls on the first device.

Plantronics Voyager Legend not connecting with PC (but fine with phones) – re-pairing required

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a couple of Lync accessories I use every day – including my Plantronics Voyager Legend (BT300M). Since then, I’ve successfully paired the headset with both Windows and iOS phones (so presumably Android will work too) using their native stacks, although I use the supplied Bluetooth dongle on my company-supplied Windows 7 laptop.  I’m still impressed with the headset and the battery life is great too as it automatically goes into standby when I forget to turn it off (although it’s often sitting on its charging stand).

Unfortunately, I did find one day that my headset had “fallen out with” my laptop and whilst it would happily connect to the phones I couldn’t use it for Lync (VoIP) or CUCILync (VoIP breakout to our Cisco phone system and beyond to the PSTN). After some frustration of taking out and re-inserting the dongle in various USB ports, etc. I found an article on the Plantronics Sounding Board that gave the answer:

“Try pairing the headset to the dongle. Typically you would turn your phone(s) off to make sure they don’t  interfere in the process. Then press the call button on the headset until you go into pairing mode and insert the dongle in the PC, it should pair.”

Interestingly, the article also referred to a tool I’ve not come across before called DriveCleanup which can remove orphaned registry items related to non-present USB devices (forcing the dongle to set up the stack again on insertion). I didn’t need this but it could be a useful tool (there are several others on the page too).

Incidentally, at a Lync event at Microsoft last week, I tried out the Plantronics Backbeat PRO wireless noise cancelling headphones with microphone and they will be great for listening to music in a shared office but still being contactable for calls. Having upgraded my phone this week, I need to do some saving before I can buy more gadgets, but these could be on the list…

Short takes: managing Bluetooth devices in a Volkswagen; seating Micro SD cards in a Hudl

In an attempt to close some tabs in my browser and transfer some notes to blog form, another “short takes” post…

Deleting paired Bluetooth devices from a Volkswagen MFD

The advice is for a 2012 Passatt but it worked for my Tiguan and probably for a Golf, etc. too (there’s a maximum of 4 connected devices – although only one can be active at any one time):

  1. “Go to the Phone on the center information panel
  2. Go to Users and you will the the phone names
  3. Scroll to the phone you want to remove
  4. Push the OK button on the steering wheel
  5. You will be offered some options, scroll down to Delete and hit OK”

Incidentally, Know Your VW is a useful site (although it is intended for the North American market).

Patience required inserting a Micro SD card in a Tesco Hudl

After buying my Tesco Hudl a few weeks ago, I decided to get a memory card to expand the on board capacity (e.g. cary more music/video with me).  Of course, Tesco is the last place I want to buy accessories like that and I picked up twice the capacity for half the price (or something like that) at MyMemory.co.uk.

The problem came when I wanted to insert the card into the Hudl.  For a while I seriously thought I had a faulty tablet that would need to be returned (a bit of a shame after getting it just how I wanted it, including rooting and customising…) – I kept on pushing the card in but it would spring straight out again.  It turns out that the Hudl’s card slot is very deeply recessed and some long nails (or even a knife) might be needed to push it in far enough and get it to stay in place!

 

 

More on integrating an Apple iPhone 3G with Audi’s telephony and audio systems

A few days ago, it was my birthday. Whilst 37 is not a particularly significant age to celebrate (I prefer to think of it as the 16th anniversary of my 21st birthday), I did get a little present at the start of the month (hopefully it wasn’t an April fool’s joke) when my new company car was delivered. Bye bye Saab (I liked you at first but you soon showed yourself to be a Vauxhall Vectra in disguise… with aftersales service to match…) – this time I’ve gone down the German route and plumped for an Audi A4 Avant S-Line. I have to say that, even though it’s still early days, this could shape up to be one of the best cars I’ve ever driven (especially with the extra toys I’ve added to the spec) – mind you, I’ve always liked German cars and have bought a few Volkswagens over the years.

Don’t worry – I’m not going to start writing car reviews – but I did write something a few months ago about integrating an Apple iPhone 3G with Audi’s telephony and audio systems and I wanted to write a follow-up, now that I’ve had some opportunity to spend a bit more time with a suitably equipped car.

First up, telephony integration. This is simple, as long as the car has the Mobile Telephone Preparation Low option. No cradle is required as the mobile phone preparation provides Bluetooth connectivity. As I wrote in my earlier post, just pair the iPhone with the car using the code 1234 within 30 seconds of opening the car and inserting the key (i.e. activating the car’s systems). The handsfree device will be something like Audi UHV 0000, although the number will vary and, once paired, calls will ring the iPhone and the car simultaneously. The Bluetooth logo and signal strength are displayed on the Audi Multi Media Interface (MMI) display:

Audi telephone connection (MMI)Audi telephone connection (Driver Display)

My iPhone 3G is running software version 2.2.1 and I seem to have no difficulties accessing the phone’s number lists and directory (although voice activation/control is not availablethe phonebook that this refers to is the voice tag system, not the directory accessed on the phone over Bluetooth):

Audi accessing iPhone phonebook (Driver Display)

One thing to note – the car can only act as a handsfree for one phone at a time (although it can pair with up to 4 devices). When I’m “on the clock”, I turn off the Bluetooth on my iPhone so that the Nokia 6021 I use for work can access the car systems.

If you’re still having trouble, Audi provides a Bluetooth FAQ as well as a PDF with details of supported handsets (which is now over a year old and so does not include the iPhone 3G, although it appears to work).

Because Apple has not provided Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) functionality on the current iPhone 3G or the first-generation iPhone, to integrate my iPhone with the music system so that I can access the phone’s playlists, etc., I needed to specify the Audi Music Interface option and buy an AMI iPod cable for £29. I think there is a minimum requirement on the sound system for this too (mine is the Audi Concert system).

The AMI is in the glovebox (close enough for a Bluetooth signal for the phone to carry on working) and the cable will charge my phone at the same time. The only problem is that the iPhone complains that the AMI is not a supported accessory and wants to go into airplane mode. If I tell it not to, the AMI will usually find the iPhone and let me navigate the playlists, etc. but I have found it seems to work better if I put start the iPod application on the iPhone before connecting:

This accessory is not made to work with iPhoneAccessory connected
Audi AMI access to iPhone playlists (MMI)Audi AMI access to iPhone playlists (Driver Display)

The good news is that the forthcoming iPhone 3.0 software is expected to include A2DP (and it should work with the iPhone 3G – but not the original iPhone), after which I should be able to stop using the cable (although I may just leave an old iPod semi-permanently connected to the car at that point).

[Update 12 December 2011: Even though iOS is now at v5.0.1, I’ve been unable to use A2DP. This worked in another Audi I drove recently so I assume the car needs a software update too.  This information from an AudiForums thread might be useful too:

“First, the difference between AMI and MMI, which threw me off, so hopefully someone else will find this helpful. This is for my 2011 A4… I don’t know what other years/models it may apply to.

  • MMI (Multi-Media Interface) is just the screen/knob system that controls the radio/sat/cd/settings/etc.
  • AMI (Audi Music Interface) is the link between the MMI system and your iPod or other MP3 device. It is a port in the glove box that you can attach different cables to for different music devices.”]

Bluetooth communications between Apple iPhone 3G and an Audi mobile telephone preparation system

A few weeks back I had the use of a 2008 Ford Mondeo for a week and I wrote about my experiences of pairing my Apple iPhone 3G with the Ford Audio system. This morning, I got to play with a new Audi A4 Avant (2.0 TDI 170PS) for a few hours (it was fun – I will be ordering one soon) and I repeated the experiment with the iPhone 3G.

I didn’t have time to collect screenshots/photos but this is a quick summary of what I was told by the dealer/verified to be true (this car was an S line model and was fitted with the Audi Mobile Telephone Preparation Low and Audi Music Interface options):

  • The iPhone 3G will happily pair with the Audi’s audio system via the Mobile Telephone Preparation Low option but it is useful to know that: the pairing needs to occur within 30 seconds of opening the car and inserting the key (i.e. activating the car’s systems); the car identifies itself with a device name of handsfree; and the PIN for pairing is 1234.
  • Once paired, calls will ring the iPhone and the car simultaneously. The Bluetooth logo and signal strength are displayed on the Audi Multi Media Interface (MMI) display.
  • The car can access the iPhone 3G’s list for recently dialled numbers, missed calls, etc. but full directory integration does not appear to be available. Numbers can be dialled from the car’s systems (and the call placed on the iPhone). I did not have access to a vehicle with voice control system so this was not tested.
  • To use the iPhone as an iPod with the Audi Music Interface (AMI), a special cable is required (which I did not have access to).

Bluetooth communications between an Apple iPhone 3G and a Ford Audio system

My company car is due for replacement and the lease company has arranged a demonstration car of my choice for a week – so last Wednesday a shiny Ford Mondeo 2.2TDCi Titanium X Sport Estate was delivered to my house. (For readers outside Europe who don’t know what a Mondeo is, here’s an American review of the range-topping Titanium X Sport model – it might also be useful to note that “car” and “estate” are English words for what’s known as “automobile” and “wagon” in some parts of the world.)

Whilst I’m not a great fan of the fake aluminium that car manufacturers seem to plaster all over the interior of cars these days, this car represents a reasonable balance between performance, economy and the need to transport a family complete with all their associated paraphernalia (or garden rubbish for the tip…) – and it’s pretty well-specced too. One of the features that I was particularly interested in was the Bluetooth and Voice Control system.

(The Ford website features a longer version of this video but I couldn’t easily embed it here – and, for the benefit of those with no sense of irony, this is not serious – it is a parody of a fantastic programme that the BBC used to run called Tomorrow’s World.)

My current car has a fully-fitted carphone kit for use with my work phone (a Nokia 6021) but if anyone calls me on my iPhone 3G I have to use another solution. Not so with the Mondeo. In fact, I couldn’t get the Nokia to recognise the Ford Audio system (even though it’s one of the handsets that Ford has tested) but the iPhone was quite happy to pair following the instructions in the owner’s handbook:

  1. The Bluetooth feature must be activated on the phone and on the audio unit. For additional information, refer to your phone user guide.
  2. The private mode must not be activated on the Bluetooth phone.
  3. Search for audio device.
  4. Select Ford Audio.
  5. The Bluetooth PIN number 0000 must be entered on the phone keypad.

[Ford Mondeo Owners Handbook (2008)]

Sony/Ford Audio System paired with iPhoneOnce paired, I could use the car’s controls to make calls and incoming calls on the iPhone were picked up by the car too.

Ford are not the only manufacturer to have such as system, but it is the first time I’ve had it fitted as standard on a car (on my Saab 9-3 I would have needed to specify an expensive stereo with built in satellite navigation to get the Bluetooth functionality) – and Ford do claim to be the only manufacturer to offer the system on small cars too:

Ford is the only manufacturer to offer a Bluetooth with Voice Control System on our smaller cars as well as our larger ones. It’s available on the Fiesta, Fusion, new Focus, new Focus CC, C-MAX, Mondeo, S-MAX, Galaxy, Fiesta Van, Transit Van, Transit Minibus, Transit Connect and Transit Chassis Cab.

(There are some light commercials on that list too.)

The downsides are that my phone has to have Bluetooth activated (and to be discoverable – leaving me subject to potential bluejacking). There’s also a bit of an echo (on both ends of the call) – something I haven’t experienced with the fitted car kit I use with the Nokia in my normal car – but it’s not bad enough to be a problem and, most importantly, the road noise at 70mph didn’t seem to cause too big a problem whilst making a call.

Sony/Ford Audio System picking up contacts from somewhere - not sure where though!So, what doesn’t work with the iPhone? Despite the audio system somehow managing to detect a couple of my contacts (which I can then select by pressing a button to dial), the Bluetooth Voice Control doesn’t seem to be able to read the phone directory – but it does work if dial by number, as shown in the pictures below:

Ford Converse+ System and Bluetooth Voice Control

Call on iPhone placed using Ford Bluetooth Voice ControlCall on iPhone placed using Ford Bluetooth Voice Control

Also, it would be nice to make the car’s audio system play the music on my iPhone over Bluetooth – except that Apple hasn’t given us A2DP (stereo Bluetooth Audio), so to connect the iPhone to the stereo requires use of a standard 3.5mm headset cable to the Aux socket on the car’s audio system (unavailable on the car I tested because that has a DVD system installed in the front seat headrests instead).

As for whether I will lease this car… well, the jury’s still out on that one. It drives well and I get a lot of toys for my money but the VW Passat Estate, Audi A4 Avant (or possibly A6) and BMW 3 series touring are all on my shortlist. Does anyone know if the iPhone works with the built-in systems in these cars?

Hyper-V and networking

For those who have worked with hosted virtualisation (Microsoft Virtual PC and Virtual Server, VMware Workstation and Server, Parallels Desktop, etc.) and haven’t experienced hypervisor-based virtualisation, Microsoft Hyper-V is fundamentally different in a number of ways. Architecturally, it’s not dissimilar to the Xen hypervisor (in fact, there are a lot of similarities between the two) and Xen’s domain 0 is analogous to the parent partition in Hyper-V (effectively, when the Hyper-V role is added to a Windows Server 2008 computer, the hypervisor is “slid” underneath the existing Windows installation and that becomes the parent partition). Subsequent virtual machines running on Hyper-V are known as child partitions.

In this approach, a new virtual switch (vswitch) is created and the physical network adapter (pNIC) is unbound from all clients, services and protocols, except the Microsoft Virtual Network Switch Protocol. The virtual network adapters (vNICs) in the parent and child partitions connect to the vswitch. Further vswitches may be created for internal communications, or bound to additional pNICs; however only one vswitch can be bound to a particular pNIC at any one time. Virtual machines can have multiple vNICs connected to multiple vswitches. Ben Armstrong has a good explanation of Hyper-V networking (with pictures) on his blog.

One exception relates to the connection of virtual machines to wireless network adapters (not a common server scenario, but nevertheless useful when Windows Server 2008 is running on a notebook PC). The workaround is to use Internet connection sharing (ICS) on the wireless pNIC and to connect that to a vswitch configured for internal networking in Hyper-V. Effectively, the ICS connection becomes a DHCP server for the 192.168.0.0/24 network, presented via the internal vswitch and I’m pleased to find that the same principle can be applied to mobile data cards. Interestingly, Hyper-V seems quite happy to bind directly to a Bluetooth connection.

Hyper-V network connection example

Using this approach, on my system, the various network adapters are as follows:

  • Dial-up adapters, including an HSDPA/HSUPA modem which I have shared to allow a VMs to connect to mobile networks in place of wired Ethernet.
  • Local Area Connection – the pNIC in my notebook PC, bound only to to the Microsoft Virtual Network Switch Protocol.
    Wireless Network Connection – the WiFi adapter in my notebook PC (if there was WiFi connectivity where I am today then this could have been shared instead of the data card.
  • Local Area Connection 3 – the Bluetooth adapter in my notebook PC.
  • Local Area Connection 4 – the external vswitch in my Hyper-V installation, connected to the external network via the pNIC.
  • Local Area Connection 5 – another vswitch in my Hyper-V installation, operating as an internal network, but connected using the method above to the shared HSDPA/HSUPA modem.

This gives me plenty of flexibility for connectivity and has the useful side-effect of allowing me to circumvent the port security which I suspect is the cause of my frequent disconnections at work because the physical switches are configured to block any device presenting multiple MAC addresses for the same port.