Fix Windows Mobile Device Center Hanging at Launch and Mobile Devices Will Not Connect

While Windows Mobile Device Center is largely considered a thing of the past in many environments, there are plenty of industries and situations where it is still used to connect and sync mobile devices such as Intermec scanners to other systems. With Windows 10 Update 1703, there was a change regarding svchost.exe that can cause this issue. In this blog post, I’ll explore the two changes I’ve discovered that have worked for me to resolve this issue.

Introduction

While Windows Mobile Device Center is largely considered a thing of the past in many environments, there are plenty of industries and situations where it is still used to connect and sync mobile devices such as Intermec scanners to other systems. With Windows 10 Update 1703, there was a change regarding svchost.exe that can cause this issue. In this blog post, I’ll explore the two changes I’ve discovered that have worked for me to resolve this issue.

Prerequisites

To resolve this issue, access to a local account on the affected device which is a member of the Local Administrators NT group is required.

Problem

When the Windows Mobile Device Center is launched, the splash screen appears and hangs at “Please wait while Windows Mobile Device Center starts…”

Additionally, if the application does launch successfully, mobile devices may show connected on the mobile devices’ screens, but the Windows Mobile Device Center will show them as “Not Connected.”

Environment

Workstations with Windows 10 Professional or Enterprise Version 1703 or newer and Windows Mobile Device Center installed. This issue is operating system architecture agnostic. Affected workstations have Intermec handheld computers seated in their dock, which is attached to the affected workstation via USB cable.

Cause

Update 1703 for Windows 10, like other Windows updates, may revert older version of .NET Frameworks to be disabled; additionally, Update 1703 also has a new feature related to svchost.exe: the services will not share by default the same svchost.exe, even they are assigned to be run within of the same group with -k option. More detailed has been described in the winhelponline.com article under the Additional Reading section of this article.

Rapimgr and Wcescomm (Windows Mobile-based device connectivity and Windows Mobile-2003-based device connectivity) are such services: they are defined to be started in the same shared svchost.exe (-k WindowsMobile). RapiMgr creates a kernel semaphore AS_ACCEPTANCE_SEMA, because it starts first.  WcesComm tries to do this too, but fails: the semaphore has been already created and should be only opened. This will fail: not enough permissions (remember: two different svchost.exe, different SID, etc). So, wcescomm is just stopped.

Solution(s)

Enabling .NET Framework 3.5 Completely

Strike Win+R on the keyboard, and in the resulting Run Prompt, type appwiz.cpl then strike the Enter/Return key on the keyboard.

In the resulting Programs and Features window, select the Turn Windows features on or off option from the navigation pane at the left side of the window.

In the resulting Windows Features window, expand the option for .NET Framework 3.5 (includes .NET 2.0 and 3.0), then ensure it’s check box is fully enabled with a check mark–not a filled square–and that you do the same for the two child items, Windows Communication Foundation HTTP Activation and Windows Communications Foundation Non-HTTP Activation, then click OK. Windows will take a few moments to enable the selected features.

At this point, it is recommended that you restart/reboot the workstation.

Adding “SvcHostSplit Disable” in the System Registry

Warning: Editing the system’s registry can be dangerous unless you know exactly what you are doing. It is advisable that if a solution exists without editing the registry, that it be the selected resolution. If editing the registry is required, always export a backup of the working registry to both the local hard drive as well as removable storage prior to proceeding. Alternatively, a System Restore Point may be set.

Strike Win+R on the keyboard, and in the resulting Run Prompt, type regedit then strike the Enter/Return key on the keyboard.

In the resulting Registry Editor window, select File from the menu bar at the top of the window, then Export to save a backup of the affected workstation’s registry. When completed, close the Registry Editor.

Open an elevated Command Prompt shell (running as administrator. This can be done by clicking the Start Menu icon on the Taskbar in the bottom-left corner of the desktop environment and typing cmd then right-clicking the Command Prompt result and selecting Run as Administrator. Note that this must be done from a local account that is a member of the Local Administrators NT group on the affected workstation. Alternatively, you may browse to C:\WINDOWS\System32 and right-click cmd.exe and select Run as Administrator.

In the resulting Administrator: Command Prompt window, paste the below commands in and strike the Enter/Return key in sequence.

REG ADD HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\RapiMgr /v SvcHostSplitDisable /t REG_DWORD /d 1 /f1 REG ADD HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\WcesComm /v SvcHostSplitDisable /t REG_DWORD /d 1 /f

When completed, you may close the Administrator: Command Prompt window.

Verifying Service Properties

Strike Win+R on the keyboard, and in the resulting Run Prompt, type services.msc then strike the Enter/Return key on the keyboard.

In the resulting Services window, locate the Windows Mobile-based device connectivity and Windows Mobile-2003-based device connectivity services. For each, do the following:

Right-click the desired service and from the context menu, select Properties.

In the Log On tab, ensure the second radio button is selected and that the This account: field displays Local Service. If the Local System account radio button is selected, you’ll need to change the selection to the second option and enter Local System in the This account: field. The password is blank. When complete, click Apply.

In the Recovery tab, ensure the drop-down menus for First failure:, Second failure:, and Subsequent failures: all have Restart the Service selected. When complete, click Apply.

When complete, click OK to close the Properties window for the service.

At this point, a reboot/restart of the affected workstation is required.

Upon startup, the Windows Mobile Device Center should launch normally when the Start Menu entry or desktop shortcut is clicked. Once the WMDC window is open and, subsequently, the Intermec mobile computer is docked, you should see the device begin to connect; this is indicated by a spinning green icon in the bottom-left quadrant of the Windows Mobile Device Center window. The device should then connect and use of Advantage Scan on the Intermec and Drop Utility on the affected workstation may be resumed.


Additional reading

https://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/office/en-US/9cab3e8e-6cc4-48e4-8ed9-d595bc83f04b/windows-mobile-device-centre

https://www.winhelponline.com/blog/view-resources-usage-each-service-svchost-windows-10/

IDP Solid 510 User Cleaning and Maintenance

Just like any other card printer, the IDP SOLID 510 Casino Printer requires regular cleaning as the rollers can build debris on the surface over time, which will change the traction characteristics of the rollers and could lead to card slipping, which could cascade into a myriad of other problems including card jams, ribbon breakage, etc. Fortunately, maintenance is easy and takes less than 2 minutes.

Introduction

The IDP Solid series plastic card printers are some of the best in their class. But like any device, they require some maintenance. While periodic service from your VAR or the manufacturer may be necessary, to reduce operational issues, service requests to your IT department, and the need to ship one out for repair, regular user maintainence should take place. Cleaning these card printers is easy and only takes a couple of minutes.

Maintenance

Just like any other card printer, the IDP SOLID 510 Casino Printer requires regular cleaning as the rollers can build debris on the surface over time, which will change the traction characteristics of the rollers and could lead to card slipping, which could cascade into a myriad of other problems including card jams, ribbon breakage, etc. Fortunately, maintenance is easy and takes less than 2 minutes.

Simply open the ribbon/card covers and remove the ribbon cartridge and cards. Then, press and hold the buttons on both sides of the LCD screen for 5 seconds. Next, open and insert the long cleaning card. Then, close the ribbon cover to start the cleaning process.

Finally, remove the cleaning card, and open the ribbon cover. Allow it to dry for 1 minutes before returning to regular use.

That’s all there is to it! Performing this process regularly can help keep your plastic card printer in good operating condition and reduce service requests and scheduled maintenance with your VAR or the manufacturer.

IDP Solid Series Card Printer Not Feeding Cards from Hopper

IDP Solid 500 Casino Open Card ID Card Printer

Problem

IDP Solid 510 or similar modeled IDP Solid series card printers do not feed cards from the hopper when an application sends a card print job to the printer. The job is successfully sent, but the printer provides an error that the card is not moving.

Environment

This issue affects IDP Solid series card printers, regardless of their environment.

Cause

The issue is caused by the hopper’s feed door height being out of adjustment.

Solution

Open the front card hopper door and remove the cards.

At the left side of the hopper, there is a vertical lever with a silver background and various adjustment levels. For standard single-card feed, the adjustment lever needs to be set at 0.8. When this issue is occurring, the adjustment lever is often on a different setting. Adjust the lever as appropriate.

Replace cards and attempt a print job, and the issue should be resolved.


Additional information

The user manual for IDP solid series printers is available here. Contact your vendor for additional support information.

Samsung Hospitality TV Programming Unlock Codes

A collection of methods to access configuration for Samsung managed/hospitality televisions.

Introduction

Maybe you’re like me. You’ve inherited a property/business or television that is actually a hotel model, and the programming is locked. It would be a shame to have to toss a perfectly good TV, right? After a lot of searching, I found that the following worked on various models of Samsung hospitality televisions.

Note: Don’t be a jerk and use these to jack around with hotels’ televisions. This is intended solely to be a resource for IT administrators and AV technicians.

The Codes

Samsung 6-Series Hospitality TVs:

Mute-1-1-Enter

Other models, starting with the TV on:

Mute-1-1-9-PowerOff

Mute-1-8-2-PowerOff

Info-Settings-Mute-PowerOff

Sleep-P.STD-Mute-PowerOff

P.STD-Menu-Sleep-PowerOff

P.STD-Help-Sleep-PowerOff

Mute-1-1-9-Enter

Other Models, starting with the TV off:

Info-Menu-Mute-PowerOn

Default passwords for Samsung hospitality TVs

  • 0000
  • 1234
  • 1111
  • 7777
  • 9999

Also, if you need to access the factory menu for a Samsung hospitality TV, you can access it by simultaneously holding the Menu button on both the remote and the TV itself. Once the factory menu appears, you can let go of the button combination. This can be used to disable the managed/hospitality mode.

Conclusion

And that’s it! I hope this can be a resource for someone else out there who has stumbled through the internet looking for information on unlocking an inherited TV like I did. If you know of any other tips or tricks regarding hospitality TVs, be sure to share them in the comments section below!

Review: Amcrest AWC201-B HD Webcam

Disclaimer: This product was provided to me free of charge by Amcrest specifically for review. While the product was provided to me by the manufacturer for the purpose of review, I am not sponsored by Amcrest and my review is purely objective. I currently do not own any other Amcrest products.

Griff

Introduction

In 2020, who hasn’t had a Zoom meeting, Teams meeting, Facebook messenger video call, or some other form of video telecommunication? Relatively few people as compared to previous years. With COVID-19 wreaking havoc on families and organizations alike, video calls have become commonplace and a staple of daily life. As this change came about, many people found that they needed a webcam. Or if they already had one, that they wanted a better one. Within just a couple short months, the world’s supply of webcams got scarce. As someone who works in IT for a living and regularly orders hardware like webcams, it really was a bit of a problem. Several months into the shortage, Amcrest brought their AWC201-B HD webcam offering to the market. A little over a week ago, I received my unit from their product testing program and began to use it. In this review, I’ll explore the benefits and pitfalls of this web camera and hopefully provide you with the information you need to make a decision about purchasing the device or exploring Amcrest’s offerings.

Specifications

Technical Specifications for the AWC201-B from Amcrest’s website.

The AWC201-B (for lack of a better name) can provide HD resolution video at 30 frames per second. While the spec sheet on their website doesn’t seem to mention it, the AWC201-B is a 2 megapixel web camera, according to Amazon.com. It has a six (6) foot long USB 2.0 cable which is not detachable, and has the expected tripod mount and built-in microphone. I was pleased to see when looking at the box that the device includes a privacy cover that can be flipped open or closed. Cable length is fairly standard. While pretty much universally compatible, there doesn’t appear to be anything particularly attention-catching about the device apart from a pleasing design that sits nicely atop a monitor. But, let’s not fret about that. I’ll be filling out the rest of this review throughout the week.

Audio performance

Alright, it’s time to get rolling on this review. First up let’s have a listen to the audio quality of the built-in microphone.

First, I have a recording of a pre-determined script, using my Moano AU-PM421 studio microphone. This is obviously significantly better quality than we can expect from a webcam–especially at Amcrest’s price point–but it serves as a reference point to what I actually sound like, as realistically as possible.
Next up, here is the recording of the same pre-determined script, using the built-in microphone on the Amcrest AWC201-B HD webcam. We notice a significant difference here, which is okay in and of itself, as the quality of microphone is expected to vary widely when comparing a standalone, dedicated professional microphone against the built-in microphone of a budget web camera.
Lastly, I have a recording of the same pre-determined script, using the built-in microphone of my usual webcam in my home office–the Vitade 960A HD webcam. You’ll notice that the audio quality here is much closer to the type of audio you get from the Amcrest AWC201-B, but that it is still much clearer with significantly less background noise/hiss.

Still image performance

Below is a quick look at still image performance using my daily driver, the Vitade 960A, as a reference point for comparison to the Amcrest AWC201-B.

First, here is a reference image from the Vitade 960A HD webcam that I grabbed during a video call. This is my daily driver for home office use.
Second, here is the still image from the Amcrest AWC201-B HD webcam–from the same video call as the first image.

Notice the color temperature here. Neither image is white-balance corrected, so the coloring/hue/tint/saturation/white balance are directly native from the camera. Also note that the colors in the first image from the Vitade are actually accurate. The color interpretation here with the AWC201-B is interesting; it is much cooler and more analytical. While less accurate, in some ways it sort of makes the image a bit easier to view. I also noticed that despite both cameras being 1920×1080 in resolution, the Amcrest did not provide nearly as crisp and clean an image as the 960A. It is, by all means, still a usable image and things are easy to discern. I would consider the still image from Amcrest’s new offering to fall in the “acceptable” range.

Taking a look at side-by-side comparison of the image quality, we see that the Vitade 960A 1080p webcam (left) provides much better details when zoomed into 75 than the Amcrest AWC201-B (right).

Note the blurry skin from the Amcrest in the cheekbone region, and how hair appears to be a solid blotch of color, rather than having the texture of hair. With the Vitade, texture of hair is discernible.

Also note that in all the above images, XSplit VCam software is in use to change the background (the integration/interfacing with this software is discussed later in the review).

“I reject your background, and substitute my own.”

Adam Savage, probably.

Video performance

Video Test from Amcrest AWC201-B HD Webcam. [Update: I did later discover that the microphone error I was getting is a Windows error due to a Windows setting. That said, this is the only camera that I have this issue with, so that is still odd to me.]
Video Reference Test from Vitade 960A HD Webcam.

Interfacing with software

A key feature of a webcam, for me, is the ability to adjust the image. While there was no included software, or software available to download from Amcrest’s website, I did find that the generic controls of other applications such as Xplit VCam were able to adjust the image.

Screenshot of the video processing adjustments available in XSplit VCam that worked on the Amcrest AWC201-B.

While the image processing controls worked, the camera controls themselves were not compatible:

Screenshot of the camera adjustments available in XSplit VCam that didn’t work on the Amcrest AWC201-B.

But what about other software? Is the AWC201-B easily used “plug-and-play” with common applications such as Microsoft Teams and Discord?

While other parts of the experience with this webcam have been shaky, I was pleased to find that the camera really is “plug-and-play” for the most part. Microsoft Teams is a daily application for me, working in IT and with the rest of my teammates located some 300 miles away. In the video footage earlier, I talked about the issues connecting the webcam to my laptop to record the test video. While the built-in Windows 10 camera app gave me trouble, I didn’t have any issues setting the webcam as my device in Teams and making a call. In fact, the call quality was quite good despite the performance shortcomings in basic tests earlier. As far as Discord went, I also had an easy experience. After plugging in the webcam, Discord detected it and asked if I would like to switch to it. After clicking Switch and turning on my video in a channel, the video delivery was pretty smooth and clear albeit low-detail (likely due to the webcam only being 2 megapixels). Audio performance–again–was clear and significantly better than in the audio-only tests.

I also used the webcam to stream/import video feed into OBS Studio as well (which I use to record tutorials) and had no issues there either.

Build quality

Let’s talk build quality. While I may have found some of the technical features to be lacking in the camera, the same can’t be said for the actual build quality. The shape, design, and weight of the webcam is pleasing. Heavy enough to not feel cheaply made, but light enough to be convenient and non-intensive to use or transport. I do like the wide, slim design. In fact, I prefer this shape and design to my Logitech C920 that I use at work (quite bulky) and my Vitade 960A that I use at home (perfectly round). The hinge for adjusting the angle of the webcam moves easily, but also has enough stopping resistance to stay put once you adjust it. Rubber grips on the adjustable arm used for resting atop a computer monitor keep it relatively in-place.

As I mentioned in the Introduction, this webcam includes a privacy cover that can be flipped open or shut. The odd thing about it, is that it comes uninstalled. Upon unboxing, I had to peel the cover off the back and adhere it to the device. It took two or three tries to get it to sit on there level and not look “janky.”

My only major complaint regarding build quality is the cheap USB-A male connector. As mentioned above in the video tests, I couldn’t even plug the webcam into my laptop because if even the most microscopic movement of the connector occurred, the device disconnected completely. This is an issue I have not experienced with any USB peripheral of mine otherwise.

Price

$39.99 USD

Opinions will vary regarding price. I personally thing $30-40 is the “budget” end of webcams. So for me, $39.99 USD for the quality that this provides is about right. I might personally think it’s worth more in the $29.99-34.99 range, however, given it is only 2 megapixels and the USB connector is cheap. I do feel the price is just slightly too high given the fact that it is only a 2 megapixel camera, whereas Logitech’s C310 which is probably the best competitor in the price range, is a 5 megapixel camera with incredibly better performance all around, despite only being 720p instead of 1080p.

Conclusion

So who is this webcam for? I’m not entirely sure who Amcrest’s intended target customer is, but I could see this being a good option for someone who;

  • does not yet/currently have a webcam and needs one for work,
  • needs to order webcams at scale/bulk that are usable for basic video conferencing applications, but won’t break the bank,
  • needs a webcam but does not plan to stream on any platform,
  • plans to use the webcam only for one or two major/reputable video-calling platforms and doesn’t plan on doing any crazy integrations or production.

Pros

  • 1080p HD resolution
  • Even exposure weighting
  • Pleasing design
  • Includes privacy cover
  • Only $39.99

Cons

  • Poor color replication
  • High distortion
  • Cheap USB connector
  • Only 2 megapixels
  • Microphone is usable, but not great

As someone who spends a large portion of his day on video calls or streaming video to others, I can’t say I would purchase this for my personal use, but that’s not because it isn’t a worthy consideration. I simply don’t buy budget gear. This is a product that is worth considering for people who need a budget webcam and don’t necessarily care about crystal-clear audio and video, but need it to function well enough. Reviewing it for what it really is–a budget webcam–I’d give it 3.5/5 stars. It’s affordable, it mostly “just works” and is clear enough for general use.

What webcam are you using, and what do you like about it? Do you have an Amcrest webcam? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.


Additional reading

Amcrest AWC201-B Product Information

Amcrest AWC201-B on Amazon