Archive for the 'Operating System' Category

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Viliv X70 – Windows 7 Update

imageI’ve successfully installed Windows 7 RC on my Viliv X70. I basically followed the directions in Viliv X70 – Windows 7 on the X70 – Tutorial that I mentioned in Viliv X70 – OS Clean Start?. However, there were some glitches. There also are some unresolved issues. My plan is to resolve those issues in the next few days and then document the process this weekend when I have some free time.

Viliv X70 Drivers and Software Now Online


Maybe Viliv heard our complaints in Viliv X70 – No Online Drivers or Software. More likely they heard emails from Chippy of UmpcPortal and JKK of JKKMobile. Regardless, Viliv’s online downloads now include drivers and software for the X70 as well as the S5. Check out #s 34-39 on page 1. This is as of 8:30 pm Pacific time on August 10. I suspect there will be more later. This should make easier my plan to upgrade to Windows 7.

Viliv X70 – OS Clean Start?

image I just posted about my upgrade of the OS on my Viliv X70 from XP Home to XP Tablet PC 2005 Edition. The upgrade was successful, and I deliberately avoided a clean install to preserve Viliv software and drivers. Yet, I can’t wait until I can do a clean install of Windows 7. What’s wrong with me? Well, we don’t have enough time for that. But I will explain why I want to do a clean Windows 7 install.

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Viliv Choices

imageViliv X70 told you about this interesting new MID and jkOnTheRun’s extensive coverage of it. Since then JK has posted Further Impressions of the Viliv X70EX UMPC. Additionally, Chippy at UMPC Portal has posted Viliv X70 EX Air is in the bag! and Viliv X70 EX Model Details Revealed. Starts at $599.

As usual, I’ve been dithering over the Viliv X70 vs. the Viliv S5. Both JK and Chippy have both devices, so I’ve been reading their reviews and comparisons, particularly JK’s Comparing the Viliv X70 and S5 UMPC on Video.

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Android and Windows CE Netbooks

imageMore Viliv MID News talked about exciting MID news at Computex 2009 in Taipei. But Computex is not just about MIDs. There’s also netbook news.

Of course, new Windows netbooks seemingly are announced every day. But Android netbooks? That’s still news. ECS has announced the T800 with an Android OS and a TI OMAP3 processor that we’ve been talking about a lot lately. For more details on the T800, see Slick VAIO P shaped device runs Android, powered by OMAP3 and ECS Announces Qualcomm-based T800 At Computex.

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Windows 7 Coming Soon!


Microsoft announces October 22nd launch for Windows 7 says it all. Yes, October 22 is the date for the official, gold, released to the public version.

October 22 can’t come too soon for me. Vista, even with advanced tweaks, just is slow and sometimes buggy. I have put up with the “Vista Experience” only because Vista supports Tablet PC functionality better than XP and, well, I have a lot of Tablet PCs.

I mentioned in What’s Happening? that I installed the Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) on my Fujitsu P1620. Performance under Windows 7 RC has been a big improvement so far over Vista. So again, October 22 can’t come too soon for me.

Jaunty Jackalope


I mentioned recently in What’s Happening? my purchase of a Dell Latitude XT2. One option during the purchase was a Dell Inspiron Mini 9 for $99. Even after upgrading the components, such as upsizing the SSD from 4GB to 32GB and adding Bluetooth, the price was only $169. For that paltry price, it’s hard to say no, and I didn’t. I’m sure I can find some use for this netbook.

The OS was XP Home. I wanted to try Linux instead. I had heard that Linux might be a better choice for a netbook like the Mini 9 which doesn’t have a lot of power under the hood (Intel Atom processor N270, 1.6GHz, 1GB RAM). I also thought that trying Linux would be a good learning experience for me in teaching computer science at my community college.

There are many “flavors” of Linux. Ubuntu one of the most common for netbooks. Indeed, I could have ordered Linux Ubuntu instead of XP Home for the Mini 9. However, Dell would have provided an older version than currently available (more on this below). So I decided to order XP Home because it didn’t cost extra and I figured I would have a license to revert to XP if my Linux adventure didn’t work out.

I installed the current version of Ubuntu, 9.04. It’s named the Jaunty Jackalope (see the Jackalope Wiki for more on this beast). If the moniker sounds strange, 9.04 was preceded by the Intrepid Ibex (8.10) and the Hardy Heron (8.04, the one shipped by Dell with the Mini 9), and will be followed later this year by the Karmic Koala (9.10).

Installation was uneventful. I used the so-called Graphical Install method to install 9.04. I downloaded an iso file, burned it to a DVD and set the boot order so the DVD would precede the SSD. The install is graphical; no command line necessary. I answered some simple questions, the install completed, and after a restart, I was in!

Now that I was in, now what? Ubuntu 9.04 has a nice GUI, but it’s a very different GUI than Windows anything. It took me time to orient myself so I could find functionality such as WiFi. Fortunately, for once, help (here the 9.04 documentation) was helpful.

I checked out my Internet connections. My wired and wireless connections (including MiFi) work fine. My Seagate FreeAgent Go portable hard drive was recognized. So far so good.

I also checked out available storage space, somewhat at a premium with a 32GB SSD. The OS took up only about 4GB, and this with a lot of built-in software. This was a welcome change from a space hog like Vista, and even somewhat less than XP Home. Performance also seemed snappier, though at this point that’s subjective.

That’s it for now. It’s been a busy evening. More later, probably on the software front.

Is your ReportQueue reducing your HDD free space?


In What’s Happening?, Goodbye XT, Hello XT2 I told you that I sold my Dell Latitude XT to my employer (one of many) for a co-worker to use. Before giving the XT to co-worker, I of course cleaned up the HDD on my XT to remove my personal data and applications he wouldn’t need. When finished, I assumed that, with Vista, MS Office, and a few other apps, I should have about 90GB left on the 120GB HDD. Instead, I had 19GB.

I ran WinDirStat to see where all the space was being taken up. A folder called C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\WER\ReportQueue took up 65GB!! It contained hundreds of sub-folders with names beginning with Report .

Frankly, I had never even heard of ReportQueue. I resisted the temptation to delete first and ask questions later. Instead, I “googled” (I guess that’s now a word) ReportQueue. Basically, these files were generated by the Windows Error Reporting Service. This service captures information about a system crash that can be used to diagnose and prevent such problems.

This is laudable. However, I did not need these files anymore. My system crash days (caused by a video driver) are behind me (I hope).

Deleting these files is simple. You can use the Disk Cleanup tool. This tool is accessible from right clicking the C drive in Windows Explorer, choosing Properties, then the General tab. The Disk Cleanup tool has an option to clean Windows Error Reporting Service files (various check boxes depending on per user or system and queued or archived). I did this. Now the XT’s HDD has 90GB of free space instead of 19GB.

Since quite frankly I was unaware of this before, I’m passing the information on to you.

What’s Happening?

I haven’t posted much lately. The reasons are the usual ones. I’ve been very busy. Also, a lot of the tech stuff I’m doing still is in process rather than done. However, I don’t want too much time to go by between posts. So I’ll tell you about the gadget stuff I’m currently working on.

Goodbye XT, Hello XT2

I’m selling my Dell Latitude XT. A co-worker likes it and it is a good device for him. The company is paying a discounted price. I could get more on EBay. However, selling the XT this way involves less time and effort, so it evens out. Also, it may seem corny, but I really like my XT, and now I know it has a “good home.”

I’m using the money from selling the XT to help defray the cost of purchasing an … XT2. What can I say? I really like Tablet PCs and capacitive screens. The XT and XT2 are among the very few choices.

I figure I’ll have the XT2 for a while. So I tried to future proof it as much as is possible. Here are the key upgraded components.

  •     Core 2 Duo ULV SU9400 1.40 GHz
  •     DayLight Viewable (DLV) Screen
  •     128GB SSD
  •     3 GB DDR3 SDRAM
  •     Intel WiFi Link 5300 802.11a/g/n 3×3 1/2 Mini-Card
  •     Gobi Mobile Broadband

I just received notice from Dell that the XT2 has shipped. So I may receive the XT2 at the end of this week or early next. Once I get it running, I’ll write more about it.

Windows 7 RC on Fujitsu P1620

I’ve written about my disenchantment with my Fujitsu P1620. Part of the problem is it runs slow on Vista. Another is the 32GB SSD really isn’t large enough.

I still haven’t found a larger SSD alternative. The connectors in the P1620 are not the ones for which most of the newer SSDs are made. And the SSDs which are available for the P1620 have their own issues. More on SSDs in an upcoming post.

However, Microsoft now has made the Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) available to the masses. That includes me. I’ve downloaded and installed Windows 7 RC on the P1620, and then reinstalled the P1620 Vista drivers. So far so good, though I really haven’t used the P1620 yet out in the real world. I will this week, and then write more about the Windows 7 RC experience.

Windows Mobile 6.5

My search for the Holy Grail of a pocketable device continues. The apparent demise of OQO means I can forget about the Model 2+ I was lusting after. I like the Viliv S5. However, I’m waiting for the Premium Air version with a SSD and 3G. The reason is (IMO) (1) performance and battery life are critical for a MID (which often is underpowered and as a mobile device can’t be tethered to a power source) and an SSD should improve both, and (2) connectivity is a must for a MID and WiFi isn’t always available and tethering can be a PITA. However, no release date yet for the Premium Air version.

While I’m waiting for the Premium Air, I’m working with the one pocketable device I’ve had for a long time: HTC Advantage x7500. It still works fine. Its original OS was Windows Mobile 5.x. I upgraded the OS version several times from ROMs available on xda-developers. I just upgraded the ROM to Windows Mobile 6.5, which hasn’t yet been released officially. I also upgraded the interface, Spb Mobile Shell, to the very popular new version 3.0. So far so good on this upgrade, though as with the P1620, I haven’t had a chance yet to use the Advantage in real world situations. I will soon, then write more about Windows Mobile 6.5 and Spb Mobile Shell 3.0.

OK, that’s it for now. It’ll be a busy week, more so putting the upgraded P1620 and Advantage to work. I’ll let you know how that goes.

XP Boot Blues

bsod The community college where I teach issued me a laptop. Actually, a Tablet PC, the HP 2710p. I use it for teaching and as the chair of the college’s Technology committee.

The 2710p’s OS is XP. College IT has stayed away from Vista. Can’t say I blame them. However, XP isn’t perfect either.

Recently the 2710p would blue screen during start up. I tried safe mode and last known good configuration. Neither worked. Same result; blue screen of death during start up.

I could ask the college’s IT department to fix this problem. They’re certainly competent to do so. However, due to California state budget issues, we have only 9 IT staff for a college with almost 20,000 students, hundreds of faculty, hundreds of staff, and millions of administrators (just kidding about the last part, but there’s lots of them too). Obviously the IT staff is overwhelmed. And let’s face it, my problem would be a low priority. It just affects me, while there are other problems that affect tens or hundreds of students or employees. Besides, I’m a computer science professor. I’m supposed to know how to fix these issues.

One problem at the get go. I did not receive from the college the XP discs with the 2710p. I understand why, but the lack of XP discs remained. Fortunately, I have lots of computers, and some came with XP discs. Not exactly the same one that came with the 2710p. However, I figured “XP is XP” so “close enough for government work.”

How to Perform a Windows XP Repair Install is a classic resource. I tried the recommended procedure of choosing setup rather than repair. I got to Step 5: “Select the XP installation you want to repair from the list and press R to start the repair. If Repair is not one of the options, END setup.” Guess what? Repair was not an option. So I ended setup.

Plan B was choosing repair instead of setup. I tried bootcfg from the command prompt with the /list switch. Nothing listed as bootable. I then tried the /scan switch. Error message: “Failed to successfully scan disks for Windows installations. This may be caused by a corrupt file system, which prevents boot.cfg from successfully scanning. Use chkdsk to detect any disk errors.” I then tried bootcfg with the /rebuild switch. Same result.

I ran chkdsk. However, I wasn’t very hopeful. I had already ran SpinRite at level 2 and that excellent utility reported zero errors. So there likely was not a problem with the hard drive. Sure enough, chkdsk reported no problems, but bootcfg still didn’t list any bootable partition, and couldn’t scan or rebuild.

This pointed to a problem with the boot sector or file. My choices were fixboot or fixmbr. fixboot writes a new boot sector onto the system partition. fixmbr repairs a master boot record (MBR). Since no boot options were listed, I chose fixboot. When that completed, I tried bootcfg /list. That didn’t list anything. But bootcfg /rebuild now worked. I rebooted, and in the words of our immediate past President, “Mission accomplished!”

I still don’t know what corrupted the boot record or file. Probably never will know. Actually, I was lucky. The articles listed below under Resources indicate it could have been much worse.

Waxing philosophical in the afterglow of my victory (albeit temporary) over the forces of corruption (boot corruption that is), I had two final observations.

First, what does the average user do in situations like this? This wasn’t that easy for me, and this is my profession. Even if you have an IT department, they’re often overburdened like ours is.

Second, I found all of the necessary information quickly through Google searches. The ability to research solutions is an important skill. Indeed, it is one I try to teach my students. When they have a computer question, I often won’t answer it directly. Instead, I will help them research it. Often my students will ask me, with some frustration, why I won’t just tell them the answer rather than make them go through the extra time and work of researching. I respond with the famous quote of Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism: “Give a man a fish; feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish; feed him for a lifetime.” To which one student replied: “I don’t want to fish. I want to fix my computer.” Whatever.


Windows XP Crashed? Here’s Help
Langa Letter: XP’s No-Reformat, Nondestructive Total-Rebuild Option
10 things you can do when Windows XP won’t boot