Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dell XPS M1530 Windows 7 Drivers

Howto: Windows 7 64-bit drivers for the Dell XPS M1530. Current as of 2013.01.07 -- All links tested.  No changes to driver versions; however, all links to Dell drivers were changed to new locations - Dell apparently likes to move their files around.  Advise if you see any problems.

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2015.12: Windows 10 Update
I have successfully upgraded the Dell XPS M1530 to Windows 10, using the standard Windows 10 installation, using no additional driver downloads.  This makes this article somewhat obsolete.  Make sure your BIOS is up-to-date.

In Windows 10, only two areas were a problem:

I had to retire the Intel Wireless 3945ABG card, replacing  with an Intel 3160 ($16.00) because the older card dropped the network connection; this was probably a driver problem. When buying the new card, which is half-sized, be sure to buy a full-sized metal card-adapter ($2.00). Related, the white antenna wire was too short. I used a Dremil motor tool to carve a new groove through one of the supporting plastic supports to make the cable long enough.  Even with this, the cable will be a tight fit.  The laptop has three card slots, but you must use the same slot as before; the two other slots did not work for this device and I know-not-why.

The trackpad installs as a generic PS2-mouse driver, so no edge-scrolling or gestures are supported.  I have not researched this yet.  It is serviceable in this state.

Outside of this, all appears to be well. Windows 10 appears to have better driver support than Windows 8.  When I installed, I chose the "Install all new software" option.  I have not yet attempted a clean-install and see no reason to bother.

Because I am no longer working with this computer, I have abandoned this article.  Reader comments will be helpful.  The M1530 was one of the finest, most comfortable laptops I have ever owned and I am still proud of this machine.
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Related:  Dell XPS M1530 Windows 8 Drivers -an abandoned article, with the advent of Windows 10.


Original article:

Dell considers the XPS M1530 obsolete and did not publish Windows 7 x64 bit drivers (64-bit) and instead recommended using Windows Vista drivers.

Dell's official recommendation: "Use Vista 64-bit drivers." This advise was a disservice and an insult. The drivers listed here are a better fit -TRW

The Windows 7 x64-bit drivers referenced in this article are from other Dell laptops and from 3rd party vendors -- and all work wonderfully on the XPS M1530.  These are the drivers I use on my own machine.  Thanks to readers who have helped fine-tune the original list. 

These instructions are tested on Win7 64 and are not recommended for Win-32 or Vista. These same instructions have reportedly worked well for the M1350.

Contents:
  • BIOS
  • Chipset, SATA
  • Graphics
  • Sigmatel IDT Audio
  • Ricoh Memory Card Reader (fixes Base System Device error)
  • Marvel Ethernet
  • IntelProWireless 3945ABG / Dell 1395
  • Microsoft Intellipoint
  • Alps Touchpad
  • WebCam
  • Upek Fingerprint Reader
  • WifiCatcher / PCMCIA Remote
  • BlueTooth

Install the following drivers in the order listed.







BIOS:


Upgrading the BIOS is required, especially for improved power-save features and because of Video driver concerns.  Note, the XPSM1530 mother board is an Intel Mobile 965PM.

Check your BIOS version during a cold-boot, looking at the bottom DELL splash screen. If you see "A12", the BIOS is current.



ChipSet

Install these two chipset/motherboard drivers:
Download and install both.
  • Intel Download: INF Update Utility (Chipset ver 9.2.0.1030 04/21/2011) for Intel 6, 5, 4, 3, 900 Series Chipsets. 
  • Intel Download: Intel Rapid Storage (10.1.0.1008_PV.exe  11/29/2010) Choose the STOR-allOS version.  Important Note: Intel's newest RST SATA version 10.6 and above do not work on the M1530 -- giving a message, "This computer does not meet the minimum requirements for installing this software".
  • (Alternate download: Keyliner's Public Gdrive:  RST SATA stor AllOS 10.1.0.1008 PV.EXE  
When updating, there is no need to de-install previous versions; install over the top.

Video / Graphics:


On my original install, Windows 7 did not detect the video hardware properly. Symptoms: 800x600 resolution and a Windows Experience Index (speed test: Control Panel, System, Performance) shows a speed of "1.0" .  This was the default Windows VGA drivers.  If you see this, it is your clue to install better drivers. Dell had several video-card options from NVidia and ATI. Check your shipping manifest to see what brand of video you have installed.

My system has this card installed: NVidia GeForce 8600M; you may have an ATI. 

When downloading NVidia drivers, watch for variations: NVidia often has newer versions for desktops and older versions for the laptops -- stay with the laptop version. With any brand of Video, be sure to choose properly between the 64 and 32-bit Win7 drivers.

Important Note: NVidia *highly* recommends you apply the Dell A12 BIOS update (described above and re-linked here)

a.  Save downloaded .exe to a working directory such as C:\Data\Downloads\Hardware\Nvidia

b.  Launch the exe

c.  "Extract to" folder C:\Program Files\Drivers\NVidia (I do not recommend extracting to the suggested path C:\Nvidia...."

Choose "Custom (Advanced)"

In Components (scrollable list where [x] check; [ ] uncheck)

[x] Graphics Drivers (Check)
[ ] 3D Vision Driver (uncheck)
[ ] Nvidia Update (recommend checking for updates manually)
[ ] Physx System Software (Check [X] if you are a gamer)

The screen will momentarily blank and set different resolutions as it installs.  Be patient and give the software time to install.


NVidia "audio stuttering problems":
There is a reported conflict with NVidia's Power Miser (powermizer) and the IDT Audio drivers, causing a sttutttering problem. NVidia fixed the problem with the driver above (version 257 and newer).



IDT / Sigmatel Audio Drivers
IDT Sigmatel STAC 92xx C-Major


IDT drivers are the world's hardest drivers to find. Some versions work on some machines but not others and there seems to be little rhyme or reason to when they will work. The company "IDT.COM" acquired the Sigmatel brand but they refuse to support the product; instead saying to contact your OEM. The trouble is the OEM's are not supporting their products either. However, this version works well on the M1530.

Confirm Audio in Windows Control Panel

If you have done nothing with Audio drivers since the initial Windows 7 install, the "Sounds" control-panel will show a "High Definition Audio Device." It sounds impressive but this is a generic Microsoft driver, which is not very good; you should upgrade.

Download the Driver:

IDT Installation:

Follow these steps for best results when installing IDT drivers. A fully-detailed article on installation and other sound-driver problems can be found here:  Keyliner: Sigmatel IDT Audio Errors.

1. In the Control Panel, select 'Device Manager,' "Sound, Video and Game Controllers" (not the "Sound" control panel)

2. Other-mouse-click the existing driver (either Microsoft's, Sigmatel, or "IDT");

Choose Uninstall.

3.  If the old drivers were either Sigmatel or IDT, click the
[x] "Delete the driver software for this device" check box.

Allow the old drivers to de-install.
*Do not* allow the machine to reboot, if prompted.

4. In Control Panel, "Programs and Features", un-install "IDT Audio" (or other IDT / Sigmatel software). If prompted, *do not* allow the machine to reboot.

5. Return to the downloaded IDT driver, Double-click the file and allow it to expand and (in the case of Dell versions of this driver), allow it to begin the install/setup.exe. Accept all defaults.

Reboot when prompted.


Test the Sound Driver
I recommend testing the sound installation; I found the sound-driver can work superficially with simple Windows playback sounds (Beep, ding), but may fail in Windows Media Player.  The steps above ensure a good install.

A. Launch the Windows Sound Control Panel.
If error messages appear and it wants to disable features, see below.

B. In the Sound Control Panel, click "Test" and confirm sounds, such as Default Beep or Windows Startup, etc. play.

C. Launch Windows Media Player and play a ripped CD, music-CD, or other media.
Confirm it plays without error.


Problems: "No Media Devices Found"

On my machine, I had problems when I upgraded from an older IDT driver to the new (I suspect upgrading from default Windows drivers will not have these problems). What I found was normal sounds (beeps, and other Windows sounds) played correctly, but Windows Media Player reported errors and showed red-x's (red x) as it attempted to play CD tracks. Also, the upper-left Play-to "device" icon may show "no media devices found."

Solution:

Re-install the drivers a second time.
In the Sound Control Panel, de-install the driver (using steps from above), be sure to select "Delete the Driver Software". Then, in the Control Panel, Programs and Features (add/Remove), delete any IDT or Sigmatel programs, as described above.
Do not reboot.
Re-install the new IDT drivers.


Stuttering Problem
Unrelated, several readers have previously reported "stuttering, skipping, popping" sounds; I've not heard this on my machine (using Media Player to play both CD's and ripped music). Rumor is this is caused by an NVidia video-card "Power Miser" driver; see the Video-card installation step in the previous section.


Ricoh Memory Card Reader:

Dell released this SD Card-reader version for a different laptop but this driver is for Windows 7 (which is better than the previously-recommended Vista-64 bit version) and it installed on the XPS without a problem.

Installing this driver fixes several problems, including this Device Manager error:
Base System Device (PCI Bus 3, device 9, function 3) The "generic Microsoft driver: SDA Standard Compliant SD Host Controller".  For inexplicable reasons, Dell removed the original download.  Download via Keyliner's Public Gdrive:


Wired Network Driver:

Use this link to download Marvell Drivers (Marvell with two "L's").  I can't get you directly to the download file, but I can get you close:
  • Marvell 88E8040 Ethernet Controller
    Version 11.45.43
    Date: 2012.03.07 .ZIP File
    Click "Download Drivers" (on the far right)

    From the list, choose "Windows Setup Installer (32 and 64-bit for yukon controllers)" 
    Or choose "Windows Setup Installer (32- and 64-bit) for Yukon Controllers" if you want an automatic installer; either will work.

    Documented below is my preferred method (using the .ZIP); but the next time I update this driver, I'll try the automatic routine; either will work.
To install with the .ZIP method; do not use these steps if you downloaded the "Windows Setup Installer":

a. Using Windows Explorer, create a two separate directories, one is a working folder for the browser download and the second is where the drivers will permanently live:

"C:\Data\Downloads\Hardware\MarvellYukon"
"C:\Program Files\Drivers\MarvellYukon". 

b. Using the link above, download the (.zip) file to "C:\Data\Downloads\Hardware\MarvellYukon"

c. Using Windows Explorer, locate and double-click the downloaded Zip file.

d.  Copy the interior files using these steps. 

In the open Explorer window, highlight all files (ctrl-A)
"other mouse click" the highlighted files, choose Copy.
Paste the files to "C:\Program Files\Drivers\MarvellYukon"

e. Open Control Panel, "Device Manager"
f. Open "Network Adapters"

g. Select Marvell Yukon 88E8040

h. "Other-mouse-click" the Marvell Yukon driver, select "Update Driver Software"

Choose: 'Browse my computer for driver software'.
Tunnel to "C:\Program Files\Drivers\MarvellYukon", highlighting the folder's name
Allow the update

i. Reboot if prompted.

Note: How I recommend separating the downloaded drivers from the actual install.  By placing the final drivers in Program Files, they are safe from accidental deleting should the download directories get erased or cleaned up. 



Wireless Network Driver:
Several different wireless video cards were offered with the XPS M1530.

Confirm slider-switch on front-right of laptop is at the "on (e.g. 1) position.

Open the Control Panel, System, Device Manager, "Network Adapters" to see which model you have (or check your shipping manifest).
  • Intel Pro/Wireless 3945ABG
    (Version 15.2.0, 2012.07.20 - Drivers + Utilities).
    "Intel PROSet/Wireless software and drivers for Windows 7 64bit"

    Select the smaller-sized package: "DS64.exe" (not DS32.exe; I typically choose Drivers only and bypass the utilities, listed as S64.exe.)

    Launch the downloaded .exe (wireless_xx.xx_....exe); It will take several minutes to apply -- be patient.  Amazingly, it won't prompt when done; -- give it about 5 minutes to be safe.  Although not required, I recommend a reboot.

    Once applied, you can check the version in the Control Panel's Device Manager -- shown with "13.4.0.139 10/7/2010" -- which has not changed in the last several versions.  The version shown in the control panel does not match the download version.


    Note: Intel changes the 3945ABG drivers regularly and although I try to keep this page up-to-date, you might look at this Intel link and search for yourself. Search for "ProSet  Wireless Software and drivers for Windows 7 64-bit".  My compliments to Intel for maintaining this driver.

    If Installing the full-suite:
    a. Double-click exe.

    b. When (if) prompted for a destination folder,
    I recommend using this path: C:\Program Files\Drivers\IntelWireless

    c. Select Custom Install; Accepting the defaults (I always choose custom to see what is going on); it is acceptable to leave Administrator Toolkit and WMI support with Red-X's.
  • Intel Pro/Wirless 4965/AGN
    Version 14.3.1
    Date: 2012.03.14

    Comment: If you have a Dell Wireless brand card, drivers listed immediately below, see this keyliner article: Installing a Wireless Laptop Card.  Spend $15 and replace the card with a 4965AGN.

If you have the Dell WLan 1395, the Dell driver is a Vista-64bit driver and has been reported to operate too slowly (I have not tested). Both this, and the 1505, are "Broadcom" cards and a cursory glance at www.broadcom did not show better drivers.  Your help on this would be apprecaited.

Dell 1395 users: Advice for your next laptop: Don't buy a third-party Network card (e.g. the Dell 1395). When ordering, change the default (and spent a little extra money), and get a more standard Intel card. Granted, the Dell card was made by another vendor, but finding the drivers has been difficult. Recommendation if you have a non-supported card, order a new Mini card; they are easy to install and relatively cheap.  I bought one for 20$.  See this Keyliner article:  Installing a Wireless Network Card in a Dell XPS M1530



Additional Important Notes:

Once any of the wireless drivers are installed, you may find your home network "crashes" when the wireless comes online; this will be especially true if you have an older LinkSys router. You may also experience lengthy connection-times. See this interesting article: Keyliner: Windows 7 and Vista Networking Problems.

If you update the Intel driver to a newer version, you will have to go through this article again to remove the IPV6 networks.  In particular, you will have to delete all of your existing wireless connections.


Mice: Microsoft Intellipoint

If you have a Microsoft mouse, install a better driver than the default Windows 7 driver.
This article does not contain a link for Logitech drivers.


Alps TouchPad



The Windows 7 default touchpad drivers do not have support for gestures or the horizontal and vertical scrolling bars, so you should update to the Alps Drivers. Choose one of the following -- I really like the Toshiba version. Read all the notes in this section before installing.

Follow these rough steps:

a. Important: Update your regular mouse driver first. For example, since I use a Microsoft Wireless Mouse, first install Microsoft Intellipoint drivers for x64 (see previous section). Do this before installing either the Toshiba or ALPS (both are ALPS drivers).

b. In the Control Panel, Programs and Features (Add/Remove), uninstall the previous Touchpad driver -- especially if you are switching from Dell's driver to Toshiba's! This is important in order to avoid a corrupted Windows System folder.

c. Download the driver (above). Allow the download to expand into a temporary working directory; installation starts automatically. Recommend rebooting after installation.

Once rebooted, go to Control Panel, Mouse (Toshiba Instructions).
  • In the Mouse Control Panel, Click the [Advanced] tab, then "Advanced Features Settings". Set the horizontal and vertical scroll bars to the wider setting.
  • Disable all operations during key-input (see illustration, below)
  • Disable the Tray icon
  • Click the [Others] tab, and in the USB Mouse section, [x] Touch Pad is automatically invalidated (while a USB mouse is attached).
(Click image for larger view; Back to return)

Other notes: I've tried newer versions of the Alps drivers (from HP 7.5. and HP 7-6-1711-106-A), but even though these were newer, the drivers are not as good as Toshiba's. For example, HP only allowed clicking with the buttons and not on the pad itself. The Toshiba drivers are better. I have not yet tried the Dell drivers. I am still pleased with the Toshiba drivers.

If you sometimes use the touchpad and other times use the mouse, you may find the scroll-speeds are functionally incompatible. If I set the touch-pad scroll speeds to a fast speed (comfortable), the mouse operates too fast. I've not found a good solution to this problem.


WebCam Driver:
The Webcam is comprised of two parts: A driver and an application; both are required.




Driver description: Creative Labs Laptop Integrated 2M CCD Webcam
Dell Download: Not available
  • Windows 7 default drivers appear to have detected this correctly.
Application Description: Creative Labs Dell Webcam Manager
This is an application and initial testing shows it works fine in Windows 7. This is safe to install. Creative Labs is not producing a 64-bit version of this program. Be aware this is a 140mb download.

With the Windows Driver and the 32-bit Creative Labs WebCam Manager, all seems to work correctly.  For example, Skype and other video programs are perfect.  


UPEK FingerPrint Reader

UPEK was bought by AuthenTec and  they have newer versions of this driver.  With this newer version, you have to download the driver *and* an application, making the installation somewhat more complicated than the original Upek TouchChip drivers. 
Download and Install Instructions:
You will be downloading 2 separate zip files; expanding into two separate working directories, then installing into Program Files.

a.  Using Windows Explorer, build these recommended folders to hold temporary copies of the install files:

C:\data\downloads\hardware\upek
C:\data\downloads\hardware\upek\TCDrivers
C:\data\downloads\hardware\upek\Suite

b.  Open Vendors FTP site using link above.
c.  Tunnel to folder "Supported Downloads\Drivers\TC and Eikon Readers\Common"

d.   Double-click 2.21Package; when prompted, save to "C:\data\downloads\Hardware\Upek"; this is a zip file

e.  On the site, tunnel to a second folder "Protector Suite\Protector Suite (Common)"
f.  Double-click "ps_common5.9.6.7124-64"; when prompted, save to "C:\data\downloads\Hardware\Upek"  (this is also a Zip file)

g.  Using Windows explorer, locate the downloaded zip files in the top-UPEK directory.

Double-click "2.21_Package" to open the Zip file.  Highlight all files in the zip.  Other-mouse-click the highlighted files, select Copy, and paste into C:\data\downloads\hardware\upek\TCDrivers

Similarly, Double-click "ps_common5.9.6.7124-64.zip"; copy all files and save into C:\data\downloads\hardware\upek\suite

h.  Starting with the TCdrivers folder, open the folder (the extracted zip), tunnel to "...install\64-bit".
run "setup.msi"

i.  Move to the "Suite" folder (the second expanded zip), tunnel to "\install\64-bit" and run "setup.msi".  Reboot if prompted.


Manage Fingerprint Data (Enrolling):

Before the fingerprint reader can be used, you must enroll.  A system tray prompt displays on reboot.

If you are upgrading the UPEK driver from the previously-described version listed on this site in 2012, I recommend using the "Protector Suite" to delete all previous fingerprint data before re-registering.  In either case, follow the on-screen prompts to do these steps.

Note: Previous versions of the TouchChip driver allowed you to manage "biometric enrollment" in the USER Account control panel, under 'Manage your fingerprint data'.  This is no longer supported and if you click that link you will get "there are no fingerprint readers available at this time."  To resolve, use the new application found in Start Menu, "Protector Suite."

When registering fingerprints, follow onscreen instructions; swiping multiple times per finger.

I found best results if fingertips are slightly moist; not bone-dry.
If you get "Too Short" messages, roll the tip of your finger at the end of the swipe - even though the vendor does not recommend this.
When swiping, be sure you are perfectly-square with the sensor; no diagonal swipes.


A technical note: I believe with this new version, all fingerprint data is stored in software; the BIOS is no longer used.

Other Configuration Changes:
Consider making these recommended changes.  If you are like me, you will not be upgrading the Protector Suite paid version and only want it to help with the desktop login.

a.  Start Menu, All Programs, "Protector Suite".  Swipe to login
b.  Click left-menu "Applications", "Password Bank", "Setting"
c.  Uncheck all boxes in the dialog; click "Apply"

d.  Return to left-menu, Applications.
e.  In "Encrypted Archives" (only available with the paid version), click "Personal Safe".
f.  Uncheck all checkboxes and apply.  This will get rid of the un-functional "Personal Safe" icon on the desktop and system tray.

g.  Return to the left-menu, Applications
h.  Scroll to bottom, choosing "Bio Menu"
i.  Uncheck "Show icon in tray"


Wi-Fi Catcher / Dell QuickSet

Thanks to reader Erik for testing this. This is an optional software and I have not bothered installing it on my machine
.

PCMCIA Remote Control

The PCMCIA Remote-control device appears to work correctly and I've taken no special actions. To test, start Windows Media Play and begin playing an album. FF/Back/etc. all work correctly.


BlueTooth

(Dell 355 Bluetooth)
I have tried and failed to configure my plantronics bluetooth headset with the following drivers.
I do know this much: To enable Bluetooth hardware:

a.  Cold boot the computer, press F2 to enter BIOS Setup.
b.  In the XPS M1530 BIOS Screen, arrow-key to the "Wireless" section.  Press Enter.
c.  Highlight "Internal BlueTooth"; press ENTER.  Enable the feature.
d.  Scroll to the "Wireless Switch" menu; choose recommended "All"
e.  Press Esc; choose Save/Exit and allow reboot.
f.  Confirm slider-switch on front-right side of laptop is at the "on (e.g. 1) position.

Rumor is the Broadcom drivers are not meant to be a first-time install; they update other existing software, likely "Microsoft Windows Mobile Device Driver for Windows Vista (64-bit)".  I am still researching what is needed here. If all this works correctly, you will see a BlueTooth adapter in Device Manager.  Your input is welcome.


Firewire,
MediaDirect
Avermedia Hybrid Nano Express DVB-T TV Tuner Card


I have no experience with these devices and am unable to test. One reader noted Dell's TV Tuner driver: R175809 does *not* work well in Windows 7. Perhaps this is a good starting-point. Your comments on this are welcomed.

If this article has helped you, toss in a buck or two.  Thanks!



Related Articles:
Dell XPS M1530 Review
More on the XPS M1530 (including the bowed keyboard)
XPS M1530 Battery Life (ordering a 3rd-party battery)
Dell Slim Power Supply (recommended for travel)

Windows 7 Initial Looks (on the Dell XPS M1530)
Windows 7 Startup menu Cleanup
Link: Disassembling the XPSM1530


Sunday, October 25, 2009

DriveHQ FTP Service

Review: DriveHQ Online FTP Service - both Free and Paid versions. Keyliner.blogspot.com needed a way to store files for reader-downloads. The free version is adequate for personal use but not for the general public. The paid version ($3 per month) resolves the issues.






Note: This article is now dated. 
Although this FTP Service has performed well for the past three years, Keyliner has now switched to a public GDrive.  The original review follows.
  
 
The Need:


Until now, Blogspot had no way to sharing files with its readers. For example, I have needed to do the following:
  • Displaying and distribute Program Code
  • Distribute full-sized Photographs
  • Distributing Executable Programs

The Solution:

The solution is to use an FTP Server or better yet, an FTP Service -- where they handle all of the hardware. An FTP Server is basically a secured disk sitting on the Internet. Using a browser (or other specialized FTP tools), I can upload, folderize, and download files -- files of any type. Once uploaded, my readers can download the files even though this blogging tool does not support the feature.

Free FTP Servers:

Although FTP servers are relatively easy to build, securing them from hackers takes skill and most home users and small businesses have no desire to keep an FTP server operational. A better solution is to use another company the specializes in FTP services.

Although Blog, video and photography services are now mostly free on the Internet (blogspot, WordPress, Facebook, YouTube, Flicker), the number of free FTP sites seems limited and the ones I found had unworkable restrictions. I abandoned the search and decided on a fee-based FTP service, "DriveHQ".

DriveHQ.COM

DriveHQ.com has both free and paid versions. The free version is adequate for personal use but has one major restriction: Visitors cannot download files without first registering as a DriveHQ user -- making this part of the service almost unusable for my readers. Although this account is free, none of my blog-visitors would bother and neither would I if I were in their shoes.

However, with a paid account ($3.00 per month), DriveHQ opens the service -- allowing non-registered (anonymous) users to download without registering.  This is a reasonable expense and I use the service in this manner.

Paid accounts can be paid monthly or yearly; your outstanding balance is simply decreased by a monthly service charge. If you sign up for a year's service ($30), they give two month's free. Remaining funds can be transferred to other accounts or other DriveHQ members but they will not refund what you have not spent. Payment can be by credit cards, Paypal, PO, or personal checks.

One of the reasons I chose this company is they do not automatically renew the subscription. If your payment lapses, the publicly-viewable files become private -- but the account survives. You can still get to your data but the public will have to register, as described above. Renew and everything opens-up, as-before. This seems fair. They send a polite email to remind you, but never nag or hassle. This is a low-pressure operation.

Administering

The web-based tool allows you to upload files, rename directories, grant rights to other users, and other such details and does not require special software. Note the Upload and Download buttons on the top toolbar. Here is a sample screen (click to view larger image, click Back to return):

Public Folders:

Folders are private to your account, unless 'published.' Once published, you can choose which DriveHQ users can see the contents and who can update. With a paid account, the "Public Folder" can be exposed to the Internet for all users, including non-registered visitors.

In Keyliner's Public Folder, you will find Excel Macro files, full-sized photographs, and other content referenced in this blog and this is the way I can distribute content directly to my readers without resorting to Email or other methods.

Direct Links to Files and Folders:

Another benefit of this service are direct links to content. From this blog I can direct readers directly to the download file. With photographs, the webpage can store a smaller version of the file, making browsing speeds faster, while the larger version can be stored offline. For example, try these links. You do not need to register:

Example File - this is a 2.5MB file: Toxaway Falls.jpg Link; Other-mouse-click the displayed image and choose Save-As.

Or click this link to arrive at the parent folder: Wallpaper Link and download explicitly using the wizard-tools. This method lets you see other files in the folder.

Technical note: When building links to the FTP site, use this syntax:
<a href="http://www.drivehq.com/file/df.aspx/publish/Keyliner/PublicFolder/wallpaper" target="new window">Keyliner FTP</a>

Where target="new window" opens the FTP site in a new window.


Browser-based vs Fat FTP Client

I use a browser to maintain the site, but this means individual files must be uploaded independently, using the online wizard. This can get tedious with a lot of files.

DriveHQ provides a free FileManager, which I have not tried, but it is basically a full-fledged FTP client that allows drag-and-drop files and folders. Tools like this, and like WinFTP, FileZilla, WinSCP, have more grace than the browser-version (see this Wikipedia article) but these clients must be installed on the local machine. Casual users and most readers of this blog would never bother with these tools.

The DriveHQ browser-tool has weird idiosyncrasies, such as not being able to overwrite a previously-uploaded file and an oddly-disturbing messages during an upload: "Start to upload!" (Does this mean you have more things you need to click? Why is it so excited?). In any case, the browser tools are adequate for light-weight work, but if I had a lot of content I would consider using their FileManager.

1 Year Update / 2010.11:

DriveHQ's has performed as promised and has been a no-hassles service. At my 1 year anniversary, they sent a simple email reminding me of the service and I did not hear from them again. Very refreshing. Keyliner continues to use this FTP service for its readers and I renewed for another year.  Currently, about a 500MB of downloads happen monthly on Keyliner. 

I have two minor complaints:
  • I am unable to tell if the service is being used by my readers. How many times has a particular file been downloaded? Beats me. Update: 2011.06: I found a series of spreadsheets I could download -- these show the entire account history with all activity.  This is a detailed view.  It would be nice to have a simpler, graphical view.
  • Another complaint is when the public arrives at the site to download a file, it is not intuitively obvious about how this is done. There is a busy tool bar and I feel I have to explain the process to the readers with this comment: On the FTP screen, click on the filename and then "Download" from the top tool-bar. I wished the Public view was simpler.
2 Year Update / 2012.09:

Keyliner has now shifted to GDrive.  The download process is a little less cumbersome for my readers and copying files to and from GDrive is a bit easier.  Folders can be exposed to the public or they can be secured to specific users.  GDrive has some drawbacks, which might be written about in a future article. I would like to thank DriveHQ for many years of good service.

Related links:
Adobe Send Now: Keyliner Reviewed for one-time Transfers

Saturday, October 17, 2009

StatCounter and BlogSpot

Overview on installing StatCounter; free software for tracking website hits. This is similar to a product called SiteMeter, which I have used in the past, and Google Analytics. See this software in action, live, by clicking this link or by seeing the icon in the "About" section, bottom-right on this screen.

If you blog but don't watch visits and user-counts then you are missing one of the most enjoyable and fun aspects of this profession. Because I don't have a real life, I get a kick watching who comes into this site and what they are searching for. A site-counter makes this possible.

In the past I've been using SiteMeter, which is a wonderful product, but on a lark, I decided to switch to StatCounter. I literally made the switch as I was writing this article and spent about 5 minutes on the entire project -- including the customization. Writing this blog entry was by far more time-consuming. This same tool works on all websites, not just blogs.

Free: Really

StatCounter, like other companies in this same category, offer their product for free. They make their money on banner advertising (never on your site) and on selling subscriptions and other services. For a nominal fee, you can get more advanced features with more reporting -- but for my needs, the default most-recent 500-visitors seems adequate.

See your session, right now

You can view your real-time arrival on this very article now. Click on the "View Stats" link on the far, bottom right of this blog - scrolling down about 12 more inches. Your actual session, along with (hopefully) hundreds of other smart and like-minded people, will be at the top of the list and you can read all about your PC, where you came from, your IP address and other statistics.



As you look, glance at all of the features on the left-column (illustrated), which are all available, even on the free version:

Click Image for larger view; click Back to Return.

One feature I particularly like, is the Visitor Paths. StatCounter keeps track of visitors and if they leave and return, it combines them into one record -- making it easy to see how people jump from page-to-page in your site. It also keeps stats on how many times they have returned (this count is an estimated count due to various technical reasons).


Setting Up a StatCounter

To begin tracking, go to StatCounter.com and register a free account. During registration, a wizard walks you through the installation and setup steps. Registration only asks for a user-ID, an email address (to send reports to), and a time-zone. You will find the wizard was nicely done and it takes about 2 minutes. They do not sell or distribute your account information. When done, you will have your website already programmed and it will begin tracking immediately.

During this process, the wizard presents a small snippet of HTML, along with instructions on how to place the code into your website. In my case it recognized BlogSpot and gave precise instructions. I cut-and-pasted the code into BlogSpots's normal widget screens and a moment later I was done. Installation was super-simple.

I won't bore you with the details on how to use the software because it is all self-explanatory, but I will say this much: Finding StatCounter's configuration screens was confusing and it took several minutes to figure out. Here is the hint: Click the icons on the horizontal list; the icons at the bottom are a fake-legend. This was the hardest part to figure out in this entire setup.

Click the bar-graph icon to see your current statistics.
Click the tool-icon for configuration.
Click the email icon to have a weekly report sent to you.

Lost Statistics during the Cutover:

Switching from SiteMeter to StatCounter meant I lost some statistics. Although I was able to start StatCounter at 9,800 hits (which is where Sitemeter was last set), I did loose other counts such as my monthly traffic counts and I will have to wait for them to rebuild. But because Keyliner is generating about 1,500 hits a month and the stat-buckets will fill soon enough.

Changing how users peek into StatCounter:

By default, clicking the "View Statistics" link from your site takes the reader to the Stats page, and away from your site. I prefer to have this link open in a separate window (I really don't want you to leave my blog -- all part of my evil plans...).

As you paste the supplied HTML code into your site (Blogspot), make this minor change, inserting the text target="new window" (quotes required):


where: "View Stats" was the phrase I typed when filling out the Wizard. It would be nice if this were made as an option during the installation steps. Outside of this minor issue, this software works wonderfully.

Blocking your own Traffic:

When visiting your own site, your machine will be recorded in the statistics. This can be blocked with a StatCounter 'Blocking Cookie'. From the StatCounter "My Projects" window, click the "Blocking Cookie" link. This builds a cookie that stops your machine from triggering a statistics-event.

But if your computer is setup like mine, you only allow session cookies and it will be deleted when you close your browser. Do the following to preserve the session cookie:



1. From StatCounter's "My Projects" window, click the "Blocking Cookie" link and build a cookie.

2. If you are using Firefox, select Firefox menu: Tools, Options, Privacy.

In that window, click the Cookies "Exception" button.
Add "my.StatCounter.com" -- set to "Allow"
Add "My1.StatCounter.com" through "my9.StatCounter.com", setting each to Allow
(I am unsure if wildcards can be used: "*.StatCounter.com").

3. With Internet Explorer, make similar changes: Tools, Internet Options, Privacy; click the Sites Button. Allow the same list.

Conclusions:

StatCounter is a neat product with more splash and features that SiteMeter and it is easier to install. I am looking forward to many hours of snooping. As always, your comments are welcome.

Related Articles:
SiteMeter and BlogSpot
Tame WebBrowser Cookies (to block advertising sites)
Writing and Improving Blogs
For fun: Frankenputer Comics