Ingoal and Windows 8

Just as Microsoft was realising windows 8 to the public I thought to myself: oh well, let’s give it a shot…a brand new microsoft os for 29.99€ (upgrade offer 32/64bit) and available via digital download – I like.

So I started by downloading and generating and install images afterwards and then I started the upgrade process (Windows 7 –> Windows 8) with the options to keep both files and programs. Upgrade itself went smoothly up to the point where the “windows based part” of the installation (aka configuration) should have been started. I was staring at a blank screen, but the computer itself was working (blinking leds for hdd etc).

Then I made a big mistake, I didn’t think about the situation and thought the upgrade was faulty and that I should do a clean install. But in the clean install I wound up at the same point. So I thought about what it could be…and the only reasonable explanation was the graphics-card or the monitor…but as the monitor worked fined (post-screen and all), i was left with the option graphics card. You gotta know that I have a custom mini-pc that I built a few years back featuring an mATX-Board with integrated graphics cards (Nvidia Geforce 6150) with an DVI-riser card. So I searched in my box of “old cables” and got myself an old vga-cable (blue plug) and *drumroll* I had a picture again.

To make a long story short, I had similar problems with Vista and Win7 as well, but in those I could get the dvi-riser card running with a few tricks…no such luck in windows 8. So for the time being I worked with the analogous connection, but quickly checked Amazon to see what was out there for cheap. Suffice to say that I hadn’t been keeping uptodate with the pc hardware developments like I used to – so I was pleasantly surprised to find a “low end” Gainward GeForce 210 with 1GB of ram for under 30€…how times have changed!

Yesterday the shipment arrived and I installed the new graphics card in under 5 minutes and *drumroll again* now I’m back with a digital connection dvi/hdmi and everything is running smoother than ever (you gotta remember that the old integrated graphics were a few years old)…I like! And with ClassicShell installed, the windows “standard part” just looks like Windows 7 again…best of both worlds!

…and that is my only caveat with Windows 8 – why in the world would you take away the Start button without an inbuilt option to choose whether you wanted it or not Microsoft? That is lame…

My new metro start screen
New gimmicks like pause and visual stats for explorer copy
New taskmanager

New year new install

Hehe…I managed to screw up my windows installation today, so today is reinstall day. Thanks to my ssd configuration the reinstall is pretty quick, but it’s still a hassle to remember all the stuff you had on your computer and reinstall it all…oh well…almost done and the system feels extra snappy again – not that it was sluggish before or anything, once again thanks to the ssd as my system drive.

I hate when computers go poof

Today was one of these days. Sit down at computer, do some small stuff…get the feeling that it’s totally sluggish. Hmmm, it’s windows after all and has been running for two weeks straight now…oh well, let’s reboot. Poof. Bad idea. System doesn’t come up again and throws the black screen of death. This or that driver is missing or damage.

Okay, let’s do a repair. Repair done – same problem.

Okay let’s do a restore to system restore point “yesterday” – not working.

Okay let’s do a restore to system restore point “two days ago” – not working.

Okay…all system restore points aren’t working. Groovy. Why did the system do them again? Sigh.

Okay, let’s do a repair install. Errm yeah, (upgrade aka repair) only possible when started from within the “old” install. Errm yeah, genius…I need the repair out of pure desperation…not because my system isn’t coming up you dumb***…sigh.

Oh well…burned up the whole afternoon and evening and now I’ve gotta do a clean install anyway…bad beat right there…

Firefox 3 first impressions

Today was the day that Firefox 3 was finally released.

Firefox3

My first impressions are:

1. Compared to the old version Firefox seems to have an improved memory handling (or bluntly put: less memory leaks)…with the same tabs open and everything 85MB looks much better than 214MB….

2. The “Awesome Bar” is a nice feature….

3. Speed-wise I can’t see much different…

More impression after a longer time running it on a day to day basis…

This is NOT a paid review…(Antispyware Tool)

I just wanted to give a big shoutout to the makers of SuperAntiSpyware as their software did a really great job on cleaning my system. It all started a few days back when some nasty spyware infected my system. No big deal I thought, so I fired up all the usual tools (e.g. Adaware, Spybot S&D, HijackThis)…to no avail…not even a safe-mode reboot and cleaning-procedure could get rid of it.

Bring in SuperAntiSpyware – Free Edition. Installed it, auto-downloaded the newest updates and definition files, ran it once, rebooted once and my system is clean. Awesome.

So once again, this is not a paid review, it’s just a message from me saying: Great software and if you’ve got problems with a spyware-infected system, give it a try!

New laptop arrives, the joy

So, today the UPS man dropped off my new laptop and I started to play around with it. This is really one fine machine:

1. It looks terrific with the black piano finish on top (I hope that I can keep it from getting majorly scratched by using a tucano second skin, which is like a diver suit, neopren, fitting the laptop like a glove)

2. The display is nice…1280×800…more than enough screen real-estate for my needs

3. It’s light (2.39kg)…

4. It’s fast (I didn’t grab a screenshot of the windows performance ranking, but the lowest score is 3.8 on 3D, everything else is well above 4 (4.6, 4.8, etc)), I like! High-five!

5. Battery life could be better…it ships with a 4 cell battery so the actual runtime is somewhat limited (roughly 3h)…maybe I’ll get the highcapacity battery (double capacity, 8 cells) in the future…for now, I’m fine though as it’s not going to be “on the road” (without a power outlet in reach) for an extended period of time…

So…I’m exited and looking forward to using this bad boy to do some (semi)mobile writing and playing in the months (and/or years) to come :-)

New laptop selected, ordered and shipped

I finally ordered my new laptop today. I was looking around for months now and it seemed that I just couldn’t find “the” perfect model. My requirements were:

1. max 14.1″ screen…15.4″ screens are fine, but having a 15.4″ screen means that the things is at least 16.x” wide (15.4″ + frame)…usually models sporting a 15.4″ screen are heavy (around 3+ kg)…and due to the big screen the battery runtime is usually low(er) too…

2. decent vga…integrated intel and stuff is cool, but not really…especially as I tend to hold on to laptops for quite some time (I bought my current laptop, an IBM Thinkpad, 6 years ago), so it should be at least up to par now so that’ll still be “okay” in a few years…

3. at least 1GB of ram…better 2GB…dual channel…yadda-yadda…

4. don’t care much about hdd size but 80GB would be fine and a DVD burner would be nice too…

5. shipped with Vista

6. not the most expensive one out there

7. service…at least two-year warranty with at pickup service or better…

8. screen resolution of at least 1024×768…but preferred would be some widescreen format (e.g. 1280×800)…

Given those requirements, it was a real hard task to find a compromise between some of them – 14.1″ models are usually far more expensive than 15.4″ models as 15.4″ is the biggest seller these days, so I guess the panel prices are way cheaper. Some models are still only available with Windows XP. Other models have 14″ screens, but only a 1024×768 resolution. Some models are looking good in pictures, but when you touch them in real life, they feel cheap and not really fit for everyday operation. etc etc

To make a long story short, I finally decided to go with the new Samsung R20-Aura line. There are only two models available in that line, so not much to chose from, but they are exactly what I was looking for. The difference between the models (Deva / Declan)? They’re exactly the same…except for the CPU…so chipset, ram, video card, hdd, dvd burner, software, everything is the same…

Deva – Core 2 Duo T7200 (2x2GHz, 4MB Cache)

Declan – Core Duo T2350 (2×1.86GHz, 2MB Cache)

Now, I always want to go with the newest stuff and all and a Core 2 Duo system would be nice, but I decided to go with the Core Duo model. Why? Let me explain…

Yeah, Core Duo isn’t the current line of Intel mobile processors, but it’s a kickass CPU and probably more CPU power than I’ll ever use (as this notebook will be used as a mobile computer, not as a desktop replacement) and you just can’t beat the price difference. I ordered it with 2GB of ram, 120GB HDD, DVD burner, Vista Home Premium, the whole shebang…and what’s the price difference between the two models (which are exactly the same minus the CPU)? 400 Euro (that’s roughly 545$)…you can keep your 2 between the Core and Duo for that fellows ;)

…the best thing is that I ordered it this afternoon and they called me up five minutes after I had placed my order to confirm everything. The said it would be shipped tonight and earlier on I received a mail with the UPS tracking code…wheee…it really left their shop tonight and now, in the middle of the night, I just rolled into the UPS depot for my area…so…I expect to be playing on and with it tomorrow…the excitement :)

Specs:

T2350 – 1.86GHz Core Duo

2GB Ram

Ati x1250 video card (max 256MB, which will leave me with 1.79GB of ram)

120GB HDD

DVD-Burner

Vista HomePremium

14.1″ Widescreen WXGA screen (1280×800)

Piano-style finish (shiny black)

Hunt for a new notebook

I’ve been in the hunt for a new notebook for ages now and I’m finally getting tired of it. There are just so many models to chose from and it seems that “the perfect one” just isn’t out there, or at least I can’t find it.

If it got everything I want (nice screen, at least 1GB ram, DVD burner, 80GB HDD, Windows Vista), it’s battery life sucks – how come that a NEW super-duper notebook with kickass technology has a battery life of 2 hours?! Are you serious…my 6 year old notebook used to run that long…sigh.

Then again, if the battery life is awesome, something else just doesn’t seem right. Sigh.

This is really getting annoying and I think I finally settled on a model. 14.1″ WXGA (1280×800) seems the perfect match for me as I don’t like the cloggy 15,4″+ screen models…either I want a notebook or a desktop-replacement…and I don’t see myself hauling a 15,4″ notebook around. Downside: 14.1″ WXGA screens are not the norm (which would be 15,4″ these days) and so those models are usually quite expensive. Sigh. So I had a long look around all the different models and I ended up with the Samsung R20-Aura line. Now the only question left is…go with the highend (2x2GHz Core 2 Duo) or subtract a little cpu power and 1GB of ram (same chipset, same mobo, same DVD, same hdd, but 2×1.83GHz Core Duo) and save 500 Euro…decisions, decisions. I’m leaning toward the Core Duo model though…yes, it’s not the latest cpu, but hey, it’s more computing power than imagine myself using on the road anyway and saving 500 Euro, seems like a good thing to do…

Now I only need to wait for the Samsung people to get back to me as the specs are screwed up on their sites and flyers…one is saying that the CPU is 2×2.16GHz, which can’t be right, but no shame in asking, same goes for the battery…there’s a normal battery (38,48Wh) and a longlife battery (76,96Wh)…but there’s no mention about which battery is included? The normal one, the highcapacity one, both? I guess I’ll find out soon enough if their email-support get’s their behinds into gear…

Vista upgrade done

Well, it’s not really an upgrade, it’s more like a switch as the upgrade process didn’t work (see here). So, I did a complete backup of my system partition and fire up the install. Surprisingly enough, it worked like a charm and the system was up and running in less than two hours. The only bad thing with this “clean install” is that I had to reinstall all the programs. Oh well…now that it’s done, it’s done and it feels good to have this whole thing up and running – probably a better idea than to hop around hoping for the upgrade to work and spending hour after hour with it.

The only thing that’s bothering me: Why does a clean install work like a charm when the upgrade process doesn’t? I mean, I didn’t install anything different or anything, no hardware or software change (as I installed exactly the same stuff that was on it before with Windows XP Pro)…weird…

So…my initial review of Windows Vista Business:

  1. Look and feel: sweet…although it’s a matter of taste…do you really need all the transparency and stuff? The answer is quite simple: not really. But if you’ve got the resources (e.g. CPU, ram, video card) anyway, why not…
  2. Performance: Everything is running smoothly, although Vista gave my video card (nvidia onboard model) only a 2.5 (which is rather low end on the performance scale). Everything else is way up there though (X2 3800+, 2GB ram, SATA HDD, …), especially since I added another gig of ram today gotta love that the price of DDR2 ram dropped by a third since december (back then around 90 Euro/GB, now 60 Euro/GB).
  3. Sidebar: I love it and the widgets errm gadgets are sweet…I especially like the multi-meter and the weather gadget so far…
  4. Compatibility: Well, after installing program after program I gotta say that most of the stuff I usually have on my pc is running fine. The only downside so far was that I couldn’t install divx as it doesn’t support Vista (yet), that’s a bummer.
  5. Sure? Sure? Sure? Click! Click! Click! This is one of the most annoying things I’ve ever seen. Why oh why do you ask me again and again if I want to do x? Hello, I’m an admin here, I told you to do so…so get off my back – I guess I need to search around a little to figure out if there’s a way to circumvent and/or disable this whole question/answer thing…
  6. Startup time: A little slower than Windows XP Pro, but not all that much (I would say around 10-20% slower).

Screenshot

Windows Vista upgrade nightmare

So…as you already know I received my (upgrade) copy of Windows Vista (Business) this week…today, I tried to do the upgrade…so…backup all important files and do the upgrade boogy…

1.5h later…almost done….BSOD….reboot…options: Restore XP…errm?! Okay….

1h later…rollback done…check dump file…ntfs stop message…hmm…

0.5h later…search and search and search….nothing to be found about the particular stop code in relation to Win XP or Vista or an upgrade to Vista…nice, not!

1h later…do the whole checkdisk shebang and all…uninstall some software and stuff…try again….

1.5h later…upgrade almost done….BSOD…reboot… options: Restore XP…errm?! Okay….

1h later…rollback done…check dump file…ntfs stop message…hmm…

Curse, curse, explicit, curse, curse…

Who the hell designed that upgrade process? If there’s an error during the upgrade, why the hell is the only option a rollback? Why can’t I select, please try again using setting x, y or z? No, I need to do the whole rollback and I’m back at square one…what a joke.

So…all that’s left to try is:

1. Do an image of the current install…

2. Do a clean install of Vista…

3. Pray and hope…

4.* Install the whole software shebang again, because the stupid upgrade didn’t work…

5.* Enjoy Vista…

* – if 3. helps and the setup works this time…so sick…

Vista shipped

Finally some good news from the “upgrade nightmare” front. Finally, finally, they shipped my upgrade copy of Vista Business on tuesday (so basically just on the day I ranted about them not shipping it, lol, did they read my blog?! ;))…now it should be only a matter of a few days until I hold it in my hands, the excitement :)

Waiting for Vista

Man, this really sucks. Now, I’m usually not the one to jump on the train right away anyway, so it’s basically not the biggest deal, but slowly I’m getting annoyed. Why? Because I ordered a WinXP license with an upgrade coupon back in december when I built my new pc. So far so good. I then sent the upgrade coupon to Modus Link (the company handling the upgrades). That was in the first week of January. Since then I’m waiting and waiting and waiting…

Today, I checked the status again and the upgrade claim has finally been approved. Well, that’s the first step, but the thing still isn’t shipped yet. Are you kidding me? Three months and you’re unable to send me a dvd with a license sticker? Hello?! Absolutely ridiculous! The only upside: by the time I receive my copy I can be absolutely sure that there are drivers for everything in my pc and on a funny note: maybe SP1 will be already out by then ;)

End of the year, time for some upgrades

Well, it’s been a while since I last upgraded my pc…almost 3 years…

So, I decided it’s time for a new one…some funky dual core stuff or something and yup, there are lots of possible configurations.

First decision: Intel or AMD?

I know that Intel’s Core 2 Duos are powerful, fast and sexy…but they’re a little more expensive too…so I thought I’d go with AMD, yet again…(my current system is an AMD Athlon XP, the one before that was an AMD, …)…

Second decision: Fastest/expensive, medium/alrighty, lower end/cheap

I decided to go with middle ground…an AMD x2 3800 it is, the Energy Efficient version of it – that’s perfect for a smaller case and it’ll help me save some energy costs, after all my pc is running most of the time. Combined with a funky mATX board, 1GB of ram (for now), 500GB Samsung SATAII (16MB Cache), DVD-burner, DVD-Rom and a nice mATX case by aplus…

aplus blockbuster

The case arrived today and I’m hoping that the rest will arrive tomorrow (it was sent off by the shop today)…it’s going to be fun to build a pc, haven’t done that in a while…

Ooooh and I almost forgot, I ordered a new copy of Windows XP Pro…117€ including an Express upgrade coupon to Vista business….sounds like a good deal :)

I’ll post some pics once I’m done building…