Installed Windows 7 RC

My Dell XPS720 has been locking up and staying dead for hours. The only thing that would bring it back was unplugging the PC from the power and wait till it forgave whatever offense I committed.

This week I backed up all the data on my PC onto my 1TB My Book and today I wiped out the PC and installed Windows 7 RC.

Just wiping and installing the OS from the burnt ISO image did not work. The Wndows 7 install DVD wanted to find a valid Microsoft OS on the PC before installing.

I had done this dance before so I did the following.

  1. Removed one bank of RAM to make my PC 2GB
  2. Began to install Windows XP MCE (it came with my PC)
  3. Aborted the installation during the file copy portion
  4. Booted up the Windows 7 DVD and installed a fresh copy
  5. Put back the 2nd bank of RAM to go back to 4 GB

What a pain in the ass. My next PC will come with Vista SP1 and a free Windows 7 when it’s released. Hopefully I will not have to go through so many hoops then.

I’m currently importing my 18,000+ photos into a fresh installation of PSE 7. I’ve installed Far Cry2 and the 1.03 patch (no DVD check!). Running Far Cry 2 lately cause my PC to crash and get become frozen for a couple of hours.

I’ll see if  Windows 7 on my PC is as unstable as my old Vista install was.

EVGA GTX-260 and Far Cry 2

One of the items I got for Christmas was an EVGA GTX-260 with 896 MB of DDR3 RAM. This is an upgrade from a pair for GeForce 7900 in SLI mode.

The game comes with Far Cry 2 which works really well since I was going to buy it anyway.  The game runs really well at 1920×1200 with all the bells and whistles turned on.  VERY COOL.

The game exiting to the Vista desktop without throwing a single error? Not so cool.

I have the latest 1.02 patch, DVD in the drive, etc.  I’ve looked online for a solution and found none.  It’s very disappointing so I press F5 often to quick save.  If I don’t quick save, I know that after 45 minutes of trekking across the map I’ll lose all my progress.

Vista is consumer crap

So I booted my PC today when I got home today. I had intended to check e-mail before running out.

The damn thing won’t boot.  I’m typing this on the kitchen laptop.  It says the registry file is corrupted and I should boot off of my Vista DVD and select the repair option.  Except my PC has 4 GB of RAM in it, and the DVD I have won’t boot. That particular image will only boot with 2 GB of RAM or less.

Tomorrow I’ll pop out the RAM, pop in the old 2 GB that I have laying around and fix my PC.  How could Microsoft release such a unsupportable mess?  This is why I need to have a dual boot option and install Ubuntu Linux.  If I had an issue with Linux, I could fix it in no time at all.

Nuts.

"James Bond never had to put up with this Vista sh&^"

My Vista 64 bit OS has been acting a little flaky for a long time.  The latest symptom was my DHCP client not working.  When Dell did the free motherboard swap upgrade, I was supposed to re-install the OS then.  But I procrastinated and just waited till the pain got bad.

My XPS 700720 came with Windows XP Media Center Edition. When the upgrade came out, I purchased it from Best Buy.  I sent in the $19 and received the Vista 64 bit version DVD in the mail. For months I’ve been using the Vista 64 bit version.

My plan was to do the following:

  1. Using vlite I slipstreamed a copy of Vista SP1 onto my upgrade.  That was time consuming but worked.
  2. Backup all my data onto my WD Mybook.  I’m going to regret saying this but 1 TB is HUGE and my data fit with no problems.
  3. Wipe out my existing drive.  My registry was foobar so that was a good idea.  I did not want to upgrade from one mess to another.
  4. Clean install off the Upgrade DVD.  Worked last time, all you have to do is remember to not install the product key.
  5. Upgrade the clean install.  Redundant, but my version is an upgrade.  If I did not do this then my Vista would not activate.

That was the plan. Except the DVD would not install software, no way no how.

The bootable DVD HATED my 4 GB of high performance RAM.  I kept getting the BSOD before I could install anything.  Now Vista running has no problem with my RAM upgrade.  But the installer on the upgrade DVD refused to do anything except BSOD.  Lucky I kept the old slow speed 2 GB or RAM so I was able to get past that problem.

The upgraded DVD did not like my drives.  It’s not exactly a clean install that it does.  The target drive has to be formatted and a WINDOWS directory, or something in the WINDOWS directory, needs to exist.  If it’s not then the installer will refuse to copy files onto your disk.

I had to insert step 3.5 into my plan. I was able to get around this by booting off of my Windows XP install DVD that came with my PC and began to install the old version onto my system.  I did not have to complete the install.  Once files started to be copied I rebooted with my Vista SP1 upgrade.  Then I was able to proceed as planned.

The one piece of unexpected good news is that the fresh upgrade install activated online successfully.  I  was sure I’d have to do the 1-800-NOT-EXTORTION-EXACTLY call to Microsoft just to activate my software.

This is just crazy

Microsoft might be good with apps (debatable) but their OS’s always requires a rebuild after a period of time.  It’s just how it is since the registry just collects garbage from adding and removing hardware and software.

If my PC came with Vista then in theory I should have had an easier time of it.  Just pop in the vendor supplied rebuild DVD and off you go.  In the past that’s always what I did.  With this Vista upgrade, I should be able to install cleanly without the tricks.

The fact that I have to install an upgrade on top of a clean install that I just did is bizarre.   It shows that either the clean install was a mistake on their part or they put it in because they knew this scenario would exist.

They should include and support this for their upgrade too. A little online documentation would have been helpful.

Raw NEF files and WD's MyBook

I take pictures in Nikon’s raw NEF format because I can use Photoshop Element’s raw importer to tweak the exposure, clarity, black level, etc.  But the NEF files are often 9 MB files and I have almost 3,000 of them and that’s just since May.  That came out to 22 GB’s and counting. Even cleaning up the ones I don’t want to keep still leaves me with a mess.

Time to get more storage. Instead of just installing another drive in my system, I wanted to get an external drive.  In the past I was put off on USB hard drive cases, so this time I went looking for a complete out of the box solution.

Costco had a instant manufacturer’s rebate on the 1 TB Western Digital MyBook Home Edition.  We went and picked it up very quickly. It supports USB 2.0 (480 Mb/s max), Firewire (400 Mb/s max), and eSATA (3Gb/s max).

Guess which interface I picked?  But my Dell XPS 700720 does not have a built in eSATA port.  So I went to Bestbuy and picked up a DYNEX eSATA card and a 6 foot long cable (the MyBook only comes with USB and Firewire cables).

After I installed the card and hooked up the drive, I ran “Command Prompt” as Administrator and ran this command:

convert F: /FS:NTFS

The drive ships with a FAT32 file system and I prefer NTFS for Vista.  The mostly empty drive converted quickly and I started to move data to it.

It’s a fast drive when using eSATA.  I went to my Pictures short cut and right clicked the icon. I selected Properties -> Location, clicked Move…, typed in the new location on the MyBook and clicked Apply.

It moved 22 GBs of files onto the drive in no time at all.  Less than 10 minutes.  Using USB or my Firewire port would have taken a lot longer than that.

Right now I’m playing with my Photoshop Elements catalog, but so far I’m satisfied with the new drive.  It’s got a LED bar on the face of it that does the vertical Cylon eye thing.  I may keep that covered up when I’m watching old episodes of Battlestar Galactica just to be safe.

Installed Vista SP1

Vista SP1

This morning the 120 MB download for Vista Sp1 was available. The download was fast but the scary part is that the update eventually happened while my screen was totally off in power saving mode. That took more than 10 minutes.

That’ll cause some people to power off their boxes and cause no end of horror. I wonder if this breaks anything? So far for all of 10 minutes it’s working.

Vista and 4 GB of RAM

I’m running Vista 64 on my XPS 700 720 and I just upgraded from 2 GB RAM to 4 GB of 800 MHz dual channel DDR2 ram.  My system was running slowly (it’s a Microsoft Operating System).

The RAM even came with heat sinks.   After the upgrade my system does perform nicely and I have much less disk thrashing.  But Vista is a pig.  Even running idle and having only Firefox or Internet Explorer, the system is using more than 1 GB of RAM.  That’s just nuts.

This is one reason why people should stick with XP.  With every iteration of Windows you get an even more hungry monster for very little benefit.  I’m glad I moved to Vista but that’s because I have a character defect.  I like working with broken and difficult systems.

I went with the 64 bit version because I was sure I’d run application that could use the RAM.  With a 32 bit Microsoft OS you get a actual limit of somewhere between 2 and 3 GB’s.  It’s an addressing issue and the fix is to go 64 bit.