Thursday, February 23, 2012

Using USB devices with Oracle VirtualBox

I've had a great experience with Oracle VirtualBox. But like all software it's not perfect. There are two problems I've experienced with it.  Here is how to fix them.

(1) Error messages when trying to start the VM after upgrading

This is something that all the VM companies seem to have trouble getting right - I had the same problem with Parallels. When you upgrade, the VM config file format changes and and your old config file may not be successfully upgraded to the new version - it becomes corrupted. There are a variety of errors you can receive.
Just create a new VM image from the start, and configure it to the the same as the old one. It can be a bit laborious, but it does ensure a stable VM.

(2) Trouble attaching USB devices (eg. memory sticks) to the VM

Detection of the specs of a particular USB device is a bit tenuous.

The secret is:
- download and install the VirtualBox Extension Pack matching your installed VirtualBox version
- set USB2 active
- create a 'filter'

 - remove ALL details from the filter record apart from the description

This should detect anything that is plugged in.
If you do want to filter for a particular device, I'd advise writing down the specs that it comes up with initially on connecting the device, then clearing them as above and adding back one by one.

Note also that if you want to switch off detection of USB devices altogether, just remove the tick from the profile/filter. That way you keep the profile for turning on again later.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Reinstalling a Tracemaster Server

I've been doing support recently for a few customers whose servers have died.
Reinstalling Tracemaster can be quite an extensive process, especially when using scanners.
The following provides a list of resources and some pointers to help the process along.


Install the latest SQL Server Express (at present, SQL Server Express 2008 R2 SP1)

Install the scanner software: (Wavelink Server) (latest Tracemaster scanner program updates)

Install Tracemaster from the install CD.

Install the latest version of Tracemaster Software: (for Windows 7/XP)

Wavelink Setup:

(1) install wavelink server
(2) go to Start > Programs > Wavelink Studio > Wavelink Administrator
(3) got to Utilities > Authorization and copy the registration information over exactly from the old computer (check both Wavelink Studio NT/95, Wavelink Studio User Pack), or if the old computer is dead you will need the Registration codes which should be recorded elsewhere

(4) click the leftmost icon in the toolbar and start the monitor for 'localhost'
(5) Double click port 2001, remove the tick from 'Initialise Monitor on server startup', and click 'Shutdown'
(6) Click the second-to-left (green) icon in the toolbar to start up a new monitor. Choose TCP/IP, port 1000, in the next screen click 'browse' and select 'C:\Program Files\Harvestmaster\HTM_PDE_Stock_Control.exe'.
Tick 'Reset Monitor upon server startup', then leave the settings as-is and click 'Finish' in the final screen.
(7) Do the same again, this time using port 2000 and selecting 'C:\Program Files\Harvestmaster\HTM_PDE_PalletPack_IntLabel.exe' or one of the other pallet packer products depending on your packing process.

This completes the Wavelink setup. Wavelink and the two monitors should automatically start up when the computer is started.

If you open Wavelink Administrator and monitor localhost, it shows connections to the server as they happen, which can be useful for troubleshooting.

If you need to test that the Wavelink server is configured correctly (particularly when wireless scanners are not working), you can use the 'Virtual Client' in Start > Programs > Wavelink Studio > Wavelink Virtual Client.

Click 'configure' and create an assignment to a port and IP address ('host' doesn't matter), set it as current, set the screen to 21x16, and then you should be able to use the stock control and pallet packer programs as if you were on a scanner.

Most problems with non-connection are cause by
- firewalls (turn off to test)
- IPV6 being enabled on Windows 7
- incorrect IP configuration of the Wireless network
- Wavelink not being installed, registered properly, or the monitors not being started as mentioned above