Tag: vista

My fight with Vista, and Best Buy’s inability to know anything.

I decided to finally take the plunge, and upgrade to Vista 64-bit just before Christine and I left for our honeymoon.   I figured it would be a simple reinstall of Vista, with the 64-bit version, easy enough.

I went through the daunting task of backing up everything on my machine, luckily I’ve got a spare media server kicking around with some extra space on it.   So files are backed up, I head to Best Buy to get the 64-bit version.   Sounds simple, eh?

First, let me clarify why I’m upgrading.   1) My processor is 64-bit, why not utilize it? 2) I want more RAM, 3 gigs is barely enough to run Vista, forget any other programs. Despite what Dell tells you, 1 or 2 gigs of RAM is not enough to run Vista comfortably.   In my stock install of Vista Home Premium, I idled at a gig and a half.   (though the 64-bit is much worse at just over 2 gigs idle now, but that’s another story.)

So, I go to Best Buy, and grab the Home Premium Vista “Upgrade” disk, and proceed to the computer department.   After 45 minutes of waiting, I gave up and approached the “Geek Squad”.   After conversing with four of them over half an hour, they all assured me that upgrading from Home Premium to Home Premium 64 would be no problem.   Great! I paid my $99.99 and off I went.

I got home to find out that the upgrade doesn’t come with the 64-bit version.   A few click throughs to Microsoft, and I purchased the 64-bit DVD for a mere $9.95. No biggie, they said 5-7 weeks for shipment.   I was a bit mad. Luckily it only took 4 days to get to me.

So that Thursday (the day before my wedding, mind you), I began the install.   Come to find out, that you can’t ever upgrade from 32-bit to 64-bit.   You have to buy the full version and do a clean install.   Fine, no worries.   I go back to Best Buy, and grab a full version of Vista Home Premium for $239.99.   I confirm with not only a “computer salesman” but the “supervisor” of the computer department that the “full version” has the 64-bit version enclosed on the DVD, and that I should have no problem.   That, of course, is after the “supervisor” tried to get me to buy the “Ultimate” version.   When he couldn’t tell me what features were different that warranted $160 more in price, I told him I was all set with the Home Premium version.

I get home and begin my install.   I open the package, and pull out the tray.   Big surprise, on the disc, clearly printed “This disc contains only 32-bit software”. Best Buy? Wrong?! You don’t say.

Luckily, I had already ordered the 64-bit DVD.   So I hoped (and prayed), that they don’t tie the disc to a serial number (which I had to provide from my “upgrade” disc when I ordered the 64-bit DVD.)   Luckily, they don’t.   I dropped in the 64-bit DVD and began the install.   Worked like a charm, once I gave it the serial number from my “full” version of Home Premium.   So, I now have a wasted $99.99 version of the “Upgrade” which is more or less useless, as I doubt I’ll upgrade any of my other machines at this time.   Not that there’s anything wrong with Vista, I just think I’ll leave well enough alone, for now.

As for 64-bit, so far, no issues. All my hardware works (including my new Canon Digital Rebel XTI), my software’s all working, with the exception of a few small relatively unimportant applications that I can live without, for now).   My only complaint is that everything’s much slower (go figure), and Vista idles using more RAM (just over two gigs, with nothing but Thunderbird open.)

I placed an order today for 8 gigs of PC-5300 DDR2, which will hopefully help with things.   Right now, I’ve got 3 gigs, and it’s just not cutting it.   I was holding otu for PC-6300, but it’s out of stock at Crucial, and I don’t feel like waiting.   I’ll update after the RAM gets here, and see how much of a difference that makes.

That’s all for now.   If you want to check out some shots taken with the new digital camera Christine bought me, the honeymoon photos are up at Our Website, I scaled them down from 10.1 megapixels to about 4 or so, to speed up page loads.   I’ve got the originals saved.   If you want to see them in all their 10.1 megapixel glory, shoot me an email and I’ll send them along.

New Computer – Migration In Progress

I finally gave in, and purchased a new computer yesterday. Namely, the one I’ve had my eye on for the last few weeks. I splurged, and bought it yesterday, from CompUSA. Smartly, over the border, to save on tax. Specs: Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 quad-core processor, dual 320 GB hard drives, 3 GB RAM (PC5300), 16x LightScribe DVD drive, Vista Ultimate (with Media Center), built in wireless networking, wireless keyboard and mouse. I also upgraded the video card, to support dual DVI. I, easily, let the sales rep talk me into the top of the line video card. (GeForce 8880) As we know, I can’t live without dual monitors these days.

My old PC will now live in the living room (P4 single core, 3GB PC3200, 1.6TB storage) as a music share. Though I learned a valuable lesson, when you read online that “displaying a PC on a TV (even an HDTV)” that it’ll look horrible, they’re not kidding. At 800×600, the screen’s barely readable, via DVI. Luckily once iTunes is started, the TV will be shut off, and iTunes will do its thing.

In migrating from my old XP box, to the new Vista box, there’s a few things that are obviously different. I had the intention of installing XP over Vista when I got the machine home. However, I think if I never give Vista a chance, I’ll never get used to it. Sure, it’s got some quirks that you have to adjust to, but so did XP when it came out. Here’s how I migrated, which may help you:

My migration had two major necessities, 1) to get all the extra junk off my old machine (programs/files), 2) get that extra junk onto the new machine (programs/files)

What I did was the following: as I uninstalled a program from the old PC, I installed it on the new PC, one by one. The good part of this was that the new machine was much faster than the old, so the processes finished about the same time. Perfect. Some important things to remember, before uninstalling an application, that may slip your mind:

  • If your application requires user settings, see if there’s an option to back up those settings. (ie e-mail applications, FTP clients, browser favorites)
  • If your application needs to be downloaded from the internet, install it before you uninstall the old one, in case you need a serial number

The biggest, and most helpful thing I found in my migration, was an application called MozBackup. What MozBackup does is simple, it takes all your settings from both Firefox and Thunderbird, and dumps them to a file. You then e-mail that file (or copy it over) to the new computer, and install it. It captures everything! Though it warns you that some extensions might not work, I didn’t have any issues. Firefox captured: bookmarks, links, extensions, cookies, cache, and display settings. Thunderbird captured: all my e-mail settings (43 e-mail accounts settings), all my saved/archived messages, and e-mail signatures. Amazing. If you have to move from one PC to another, and use Firefox/Thunderbird, definitely download MozBackup. It’s free, and worth every penny.

I’ve still got more work tonight to do, installing video processing applications, mostly. One note to make: TivoToGo does not work with Vista. There’s supposedly some hacks you can do, to make it work. Luckily there’s a VIIV option available, that works with Media Center, that I downloaded, and it worked. However, if you don’t have Media Center on your Vista PC, you can easily still get to your Tivo:

Open up trusty Firefox (or IE, if you’re dumb), and type in: https://<your tivos ip address>/nowplaying/index.html (if you don’t know your Tivo’s IP address, you can get it from the settings on your Tivo itself)
Username: tivo
Password: your media access key (gotten/set at Tivo.com in your account)

This will allow you to download files directly to your PC from your Tivo(s). I’ve found, honestly, that the download speeds going direct from Tivo-PC are faster than if you use Tivo’s software. I haven’t found a way to get files to the Tivo just yet. (Sidenote: if you have video files on your PC that you want to watch on your Tivo, you can easily convert them using Videora Tivo Converter to something Tivo can understand. Though you’ll need to upgrade your TivoToGo software to the Plus version. I think I paid $30 or so, and is was worth it. Hopefully Tivo fixes the Vista issues, so things work as expected.

The most important thing to remember when you’re moving from one PC to another- be sure to copy all the data you want to save, before deleting it. If that means copying it to more than one location, to ensure you’ve got it, do it. I’d rather have two copies, than zero copies.

Next project after software installations are finished: ripping every CD we own to the “old” computer, and hooking it up the audio system. That’s a project in itself.

One Monitor? Two Monitors? More?

Ever since I started using a dual monitor set up at home (two 19″ Samsung LCD monitors), I can’t live without two monitors. When I started my new job here, they gave me a fairly beat up old laptop. Which is fine, I can cope with 15″ to look at. The bad news was the max resolution is 1024×768, which I stopped using a number of years ago.

So I brought in my own 17″ LCD to use in conjunction with Windows XP’s fancy “extend my desktop” feature. Combined with Realtime Software’s Ultramon, makes for an excellent workspace (even at different resolutions.)

However, I found something that comes in handy as well. If you’re off to a meeting, and can only bring your laptop (and not the second monitor), don’t use the “disable secondary monitor” option in Ultramon. What I’ve started doing, is leaving it enabled while I’m off with the laptop. Why? Easily, to cause less clutter.

Windows XP still thinks you’ve got a second monitor attached, as does Ultramon. With some handy keyboard shortcuts (I’ve got mine set up as Control + > and Control + < to move windows to the other monitor), you can still dump programs you’re not using to the other “monitor”, even though it’s not connected. This allows you to easily move things you don’t need in front of you, to clear up your one (less than optimal resolution) monitor. Handy little trick, if you’re stuck with just a laptop.