Applications Vista

A better desktop with RocketDock and Vista Start Menu

Sitting in front of a computer about 80% of your working day it is important that your work environment – that is your desktop – is both visually pleasing and functional. Having switched to Windows Vista not too long ago and just bought a new laptop I spent some time customizing my desktops to increase functionality and decrease clutter. Along the way I found some useful applications and some nice tricks that I’d like to share with you.

Get a Dual-Monitor Wallpaper with DisplayFusion

One of the things that has bugged me from day one was that out of the box neither XP nor Vista allowed you to have different wallpapers on different screens if you have a dual screen setup. I’ve been working with two screens for years and a cohesive background graphic for my workspace has always been one of the items on my wishlist. When I came across the beautiful Mandolux multi-monitor wallpapers I decided that now was the time so I started digging around on the web for a small app that would let me split my desktop in half so to speak. After some trial and error I landed on DisplayFusion – a free multi-monitor desktop wallpaper application that runs on both XP and Vista alike. The application is light and easy to use and combined with a Mandolux wallpaper the result (as seen at the top of this article) is quite stunning.

Keep your tools handy with RocketDock

It’s no secret that I’m a Windows guy and I have less than kind things to say about it’s rival the Mac. But that doesn’t mean I’m not willing to say that Steve Jobs and his fruity company hasn’t come up with some briliant ideas. Ideas like the customizeable launch bar. Fortunately clever coders have created several clones of this application that run in Windows environments. One of these is the nice and spiffy RocketDock. It lets you drag and drop any application, folder or whatever else comes to mind into a dockable launch box and makes them available to you with one click. I’ve installed it on both my office computer and my laptop (as seen below) and moved the regular Windows Taskbar to the left hand side to get it out of the way. Now I have all my frequently used applications handy with one click at the bottom of my screen and if I want to dig deeper I can always go to the Taskbar. As Candide would say, it’s the best of all possible worlds.

Harness the launching power of the Vista Start Menu

An often overlooked application that I myself wasn’t fully aware of until recently is the Vista Start Menu search box. More than just a regular search box, this powerful feature lets you launch any application by simply writing (part of) it’s name and hitting Enter. This comes in handy when you want to launch a seldom used or hidden application like the equally genius Snipping Tool which for some bizarre reason is hidden within Vista. The search box catalogues all your applications and lets you launch them without digging through folder trees on the Program menu.

“But wait. That’s exactly what Launchy does” you might say (if you’re a real nerd or a Lifehacker reader). And you are right. But think about this for a second: Why would you use a third party application to do something that has been built into the operating system anyway? Sadly the prevalence of Launchy and applications like it on Vista systems shows how buggy the transition from XP to Vista has been. But fret not: If you’re already a Launchy user, try switching over to the Vista Start Menu for a while and you’ll see that you can safely get rid of that extra 3rd party bulk and still get pretty much the same results.

News Vista

What’s Your Take on the New Microsoft Ad?

So Microsoft has finally rolled out the first part of their new $300 million ad campaign set to regain the trust in the brand as well as put the breaks on the success Apple has acieved with their more and more obnoxious “Hi, I’m a Mac” pieces.

The new ad features comedian Jerry Seinfeld that meets Bill Gates at a discount shoe store called Shoe Circus where they discuss shoe fit, engage in the type of pointless banter you’ve come to expect from Seinfeld and ends with the most bizarre exchange of all time:

Seinfeld: “Just wondering: Are they ever gonna come out with something that’ll make our computers moist and chewy like cake so we can just eat ’em while we’re working? If it’s yes, give me a signal: Adjust your shorts.”
Gates: Adjusts his shorts by wiggling his butt
Seinfeld: “Oh, I knew it!”

The question is: Is this a good ad? Judging from the oppionins voiced throughout the interweb it seems people really hate it, most importantly because they a) expected something similarly smug and forcibly ironic as the Mac ads and b) don’t understand what they are all about. Then there’s also the issue that people – or at least bloggers – in general have a less than favourable view of Microsoft and love to rag on them any chance they get.

If you cut past all the anti-Microsoft noise and strip the ad down to it’s components you start to see a vague image emerge. First off, this ad has nothing to do with Microsoft or Windows or Vista or anything else: It’s obviously the first of a series that will evolve into something more all encompassing. More than anything it looks like the intention of this ad is first and foremost to establish Jerry Seinfeld as the new face of Microsoft much like Justin Long has become the face of Mac. It also sets the tone for the future campaign: Microsoft is turning a page becoming less corporate and more quirky. Gates’ hip wiggle at the end pretty much says it all.

My worry is that this ad, if broadcast on regular TV, will just leave people shaking their heads and wondering what the hell they just watched. That is unless a follow up ad that is both funnier and makes more sense follows shortly thereafter. The danger here is that when people see Jerry Seinfelt, they expect to fall off their couches laughing about 5 secconds later. And that doesn’t happen here. At least not yet.

I’m not going to judge this ad by itself but wait to get a broader understanding of the entire campaign. Still, I can hardly say that this bizarre display of understated trivialities will bring droves of doubters to the stores to pick up Microsoft products. But then I don’t think that’s the intention either: People buy Microsoft products no matter what – and PCs still outsell Macs by an enormous margin. The real point of this campaign seems to be to change the overall image of Microsoft. I’m just hoping that message isn’t “we are confusing and unfunny”.

That’s my take. What’s yours? Drop me a line below and tell me what you think.


Mac vs. PC – Let The Flame Wars Begin

Mac is not better than PC. It’s just different. If you think otherwise you really need to check your sources.

I’ve tried to stay out of the moronic Mac vs. PC debackle as much as I can but a conversation I overheard yesterday finally pushed me over the edge so now I’m not keeping my mouth shut any more:

Here are some facts:

  • Macs are far less stable and secure and far more buggy and prone to crashes than people are willing to admit
  • Windows Vista doesn’t really have any compatibility problems
  • Mac is not the industry standard for video editing
  • There is no discernible difference in workload, efficiency or quality of the end result whether you are on a Mac or a PC
  • The days when Mac was the only platform you should use for digital imaging etc are long gone (as in early 1990’s long gone)
  • The fact that you own an Apple product (iPod, iPhone, iMac, iRack whatever) does not make you cooler, smarter, better or more skilled than anyone else

If you’re a Mac user you are probably running frantically around the house whiping away the foam collecting around your mouth while you look for your Anti-PC-User Emergency Kit. If so just calm down and take a deep breath: I don’t have anything against you nor your choice of operating system – I just don’t like being looked down on or ridiculed by your kind because of my preference, especially when the arguments they present as reasons for using Mac instead of PC are nothing but advertising propaganda from Mr. Jobs and his staff.

What started it all

Anyways, back to my story: We just picked up a large video editing contract which includes working with a large variety of content providers (videographers) and consolidating all their differing content into a cohesive show. Unfortunately the content providers are amateurs who don’t know too much about video editing and especially industry standards when it comes to output. As a result we got a myriad of different formats and compressions that we needed to work with.

Normally this wouldn’t be a problem but because almost all of these videographers work on Final Cut Pro or iMovie and none of them know anything about export or compression other than how to publish videos to YouTube it quickly became a nightmare. You see when you use the click and “it just works” approach promoted by Apple, you get a video format that only works on Macs. This is because it’s quicker to export Mac native formats than to convert the video to an industry standard format like DV/DVCPRO. Unfortunately the videographers are under the impression that Mac is the de facto industry standard and therefore that if the file doesn’t play it is because we are stupid PC users. This couldn’t be farther from the truth:

The industry standard is AVID.

When we tried to explain this issue to the people we are working with we got the following mind-numbing and infuriating response (from a Mac user of course):

The reason it doesn’t work is because you are on a Vista PC. Microsoft doesn’t follow standards and doesn’t work. Switch to a Mac!

Right. I don’t even know where to start with this. First of all, the problem is caused by the videos being encoded using a proprietary Mac codec that is about as non-standard as you can get. In fact the codec only works in Final Cut Pro, nowhere else. And like I said, FCP is not the industry standard. Seccondly Microsoft doesn’t actually make pro video editing software: We use Adobe Premiere CS3. So if there was a problem with the software it would be Adobe’s fault, not Microsoft. Thirdly switching to Mac to solve the problem is about as good advice as telling someone whose tire you just slashed to buy a new car.

Don’t believe everything you hear

At the root of all this bullshit is the ingenious if misleading advertising campaign Apple has been running for the last 15 years claiming that their software “just works” and is far supperior to any other platform. If you go back about two decades, Mac ruled the design world because of it’s supperior graphics handling capabilities. But those days are long gone and today Mac and PC compete on an even playing field in this respect. Case in point: The industry standard for design software is the Adobe Creative Suite which runs identically on both platforms.

Today there are only two real differences between a Mac and every other computer on the planet:

  1. It uses Mac OS
  2. It contains a chip whose sole purpose it is to tell the Mac OS that this is a genuine Mac

In fact Mac OS works fine on any computer as long as you trick it to not look for that chip. But while Microsoft is a software company, Apple is a hardware company and they need to have some way of forcing their customers to buy their hardware so they tie their operating system to their hardware using that chip. That’s why you can run Windows on a Mac but not vice versa. In the real world this would be called monopolization and unfair business practice but for some unknown reason noone has really spoken up about this and tested it in court.

“It just works*”

The Mac slogan “it just works” should come with an asterix:

By “works” we mean that as long as your system is operational it is unlikely to crash. However if it does crash you are likely to loose 100% of your data and the lost data is unrecoverable. Also, we may choose to change our operating system or platform at any time in which case you need to buy all new hardware and software if you want to continue being part of our exclusive club.

Case in point: My friend Anthony has a G4 Mac that he used for video editing. One day his system stopped working. Further investigation showed it was no longer working becuase the logic board was dead. So he took it to the Mac store and asked them to fix it. The guy at the store looked at the computer and told him they no longer support the chipset (Mac had just switched to the new Intel chips) so he would have to switch out the whole logic board to the new chipset. The cost? $2000 (more than the cost of a new Mac). After much back and forth Anthony ended up buying a new iMac instead. But when he got home a new nasty surprise was in store: None of his expensive software worked in his new iMac. A quick call to the store uncovered the unbelieveable answer: With the new chipset comes a whole new operating system that is not compatible with the old software. So he had to go out and buy new versions of his old software just to be able to open his old files.

Now imagine if Microsoft had pulled this kind of crap on their clients.

Vista Sucks

Since it’s release more than 2 yars ago Windows Vista has gotten an incredible ammount of flack from everyone from the tech press to pundits to my grandfather’s best man twice removed. Surprisingly about 99% of this flack is unwarranted nonsense generated by idiots who have never tried the operating system or don’t understand how computers work.

One of the main attacks on Vista is that it isn’t compatible with hardware. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read articles about how nothing works, how the drivers are full of bugs and that people are downgrading to XP. Well here’s some food for thought:

If the driver doesn’t work it is because the company that made the driver didn’t do a good enough job. And the drivers are made by the hardware manufacturer, not Microsoft!

So when people say their hardware doesn’t work and the drivers are crap and point their fingers at Microsoft they are blaming the wrong company. To put it in perspective think about this: If you bought a headset for your iPhone that said “iPhone Compatible” but didn’t work, who would you blame? The headphone manufacturer of course. It’s the same with driver incompatibility.

People have just gotten too used to blaming Microsoft for everything except Global Warming.

PCs crash all the time

More than anything what kills me is when people tell me that PCs crash all the time. Let me tell you something: I have 6 PCs running everything from Windows ME to Windows Vista Ultimate. In the last 6 years all my PCs combined have crashed maybe 10 times and in almost every case it was either due to hardware failure (mostly dead hard drives) or ill advised experiments at rewriting the registry or bios (aka. me being an idiot). With properly installed hardware and software the Windows platform is incredibly stable. And when something goes wrong it’s easy to find out why and how to fix it.

In answer to this ground breaking CNN worthy news I can hear all my Mac friends yelling “but you’ll get infected by viruses!”. I haven’t had a virus in 10 years. Why? Because I have a $20 router between my home network and the outside world and I don’t download dubious files from the net or my inbox. So here’s my response: I can kill your Mac in 30 seconds flat! And if I do, all your data is unrecoverable. You can’t do that to a PC without a huge magnet or a sledge hammer.

Your choice of Operating System should never define you

What never seizes to amaze me is the willingness of Mac users to let their choice of operating system define them. They seem to think that because they are using a Mac they are somehow better and different from the rest of the computer using world. Which is strange seeing as Mac is the most uniform computer brand out there: You have zero choice when it comes to customizability or identity – everything looks the same. And if you use any of the famed iLife programs the results invariably have that Mac cookie-cutter look. The grim reality is that in the end it is your creativity that matters, not what computer or operating system you use. You can make stunning artwork with a PC form 1993 and total crap with the most high-end Mac available – it’s all up to you.

So here’s the conclusion (forward all hate mail to my summer house at 1 Pennsylvania Avenue):

Macs are great if you don’t want to spend time learning how a computer work or if you want to live a cookie cutter lifestyle. If you want creative input you need to upgrade to 3rd party software such as Adobe’s Creative Suite in which case you can get a far better PC for the same price.

And before you start barfing up that ever popular “Final Cut Pro is vastly supperior to Premiere Pro” crap consider this: The reason Adobe is re-releasing Premiere Pro for Mac is because Mac users are asking for it. And Premiere Pro was designed by the same people that created FCP.

In the end I don’t care what you use. All that matters is what you produce. But don’t tell me you are better than me because you spent more money on your computer. The only thing you show with such a statement is your narrowminded inability to think critically. Sorry, but that’s how the cookie crumbles.

Flame on!


Installing and Booting Vista from a USB Flash Drive

My brother recently had to swap hard drives in his ThinkPad. Seeing as his fancy IBM doesn’t have a disc drive, he needed to figure out a different way of installing Vista on the machine after the swap. Now like most of us he had seen the many articles stating you can install Vista from a USB drive so he decided to give it a go. To start off with he found the instructions on Kurt Shintaku’s blog but it turned out they were not entirely applicable.

What the many people who cite this method don’t say is that you have to have a computer with Vista already installed to follow the procedure. Why? Because diskpart works differently in Vista and XP. For one thing you can’t use diskpart to format disks in XP.

He formated the disk to FAT32 as per the instructions but for what he describes as “an eternity” all he got was error messages: This is not a system disk, there is an error on the disk etc. So he tried to format it in NTFS. But that just resulted in new error messages such as “Can’t find NTLDR” (NTLDR being the start file for NTFS file systems).

Then, after what must have been years of experimenting (if we are to believe that it took a full eternity to figure out something was wrong) with different partitioning software, he found a working algorithm:

Before you begin,

  1. the USB drive main partition needs to be active
  2. you have to copy the contents of your vista install disk onto the USB drive
  3. you need to make sure the USB drive’s boot sector is the correct one this is how I did it:

OK. Here we go:

  1. Go into hardware properties of the usbdrive: My Computer -> right click the USB drive -> select Properties -> select Hardware -> select the correct drive -> select Properties again -> select Policies -> select Optimize for Performance.(This is to make it formatable with NTFS, so strictly speaking it’s not necessary, it’s just how I got it working. If you do this, you have to remember to always use Safe Eject on this drive. If you don’t you might corrupt some files.)
  2. Open Command Prompt and write the following (commands in bold italics):
    1. diskpart
    2. list disk
    3. find the drive you want and then type: select drive # (so if it’s disk 1, you type disk 1)
    4. clean
    5. create partition primary
    6. select partition 1
    7. active
    8. assign
    9. exit

    This should delete everything on the USB drive and then make a new partition without a file system on it.

  3. Find out what drive letter your USB drive has (you find out by looking for it in My Compuber). Still in Command Prompt, type: format f: /fs:ntfs
    It will ask you for confirmation and then a name.
  4. Now that you have a clean USB drive it’s time to fill it. Find your Vista Install Disk and find out what drive letter it has. in my example it’s d:so, still in Command Prompt type: xcopy d:\*.* /s/e/f/r/h/x f: (where f: is your drive letter for the USB drive). There are probably 3 slashes more than stricty necesary, but it’s nice to stay on the safe side. /s/e/f should copy all files and subfolders while /r/h/x should keep the ownerships and copy any hidden files.
  5. Here comes the fun part; Make the USB drive bootable into Vista Install.
    On the Vista Disk there is a folder called boot. Copy this folder to your hard drive (and remember where you put it). Using Command Prompt, find this folder and
    type: bootsect /nt60 f: It’s very important that you are carefull with this command since it can change the bootsector on all drives on the computer if you manage to screw it up. To be safe you can write just: bootsect or: bootsect /help the first time and get some understanding of what you are doing. If you are too lazy, here is the short explanation: Bootsect is a small program that changes the bootsector on a drive (or all drives or just the system drive) to either want to boot with ‘NTLDR’ or the new system that uses the file ‘bootmgr’. If you try to do this from the usbdrive it won’t work as it should since you are trying to edit the disk you are using the program on. I think it’s supposed to make it able to boot from FAT32 systems too, but i didn’t get that to work, so I say stick to NTFS.
  6. Now you should have an USB drive that you can use to install Vista from boot (provided your PC will let you boot from USB that is).

[Disclaimer: I do not take responsibility for any destroyed computers / lost data / marital break-ups resulting from trying this procedure. Although my brother usually knows what he’s doing he has also destroyed an impressive number of computers. Consider yourself warned!]


Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0 on Windows Vista

Upgrading your OS isn’t always a walk in the park and there has been a lot of chatter on the web about Windows Vista screwing up older software and causing all sorts of problems. As a result many people are hesitant when it comes to moving from XP to Vista.

One such issue has arisen when people try to run Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0 (CS2) on their Vista computers. Premiere Pro 2.0 was created well before the release of Vista and as such was not designed to run on the new OS. As Premiere is a fairly heavy and complicated video editing program that uses a lot of services on the computer it should come as no surprise that there would be issues. But as it turns out Microsoft anticipated such problems and created a quick and easy way of circumventing compatibility issues. (This fix btw will most likely work for other programs as well)

The problem we were encountering was that certain windows like the Titler and effects were acting funny. Plainly speaking they were repositioning themselves with every open and moving around in a random manner, often overlapping and hiding rendering the functions unusable. Quite frustrating really. But like I said, there is an easy way of solving this. I’ll take you through it step-by-step:

1. If your buggy program is open, close it

2. Right-click on the startup file (either from the “Start” panel or the desktop or wherever else you start your software from) and click “Properties”

3.Click on the “Compatibility” tab in the window that opens:

Adobe Premiere CS2 compatibility 1

4. Check the “Run this program in compatibility mode for:” box:

Adobe Premiere CS2 compatibility 2

5. Choose the Windows XP version in which the program should run smoothly. In Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0’s case this would be Windows XP (Service Pack 2):

Adobe Premiere CS2 compatibility 3

After doing this the problems with Premiere disappeared (thought we haven’t checked absolutely every little piece of the program so there might be other issues). And like I said, I’m guessing this solution can be applied to other software that is acting up too.

News Vista

Vista Whoas and Woes

Finally, after 4 years of hard work, one of our trusted workstations finally gave in and decided to die on us. I guess the pre-Core 2 Duo Prescott processor couldn’t handle the workload any more (running PhotoShop CS2, Premiere CS2, Firefox, Opera and a host of other programs at the same time isn’t exactly kind on the processor). So we were forced to get a new system, and with it came the inevitable transition to Windows Vista.

I’m one of those guys who has an aversion for adopting new and untested technology no matter what it is. And when it came to the new Microsoft OS I would rather have waited for the first Service Pack to come out before making the transition. After all there are always some major kinks that have to be sorted out before any new OS can be considered completely trustworthy (something that rings true even in the “infallable” Mac world as the latest release of Leopard has shown). Thus my policy was simple: I’m not switching to Vista until I get a new computer. And with the death of our old workstation my hand was forced.

After installing the new OS and getting the new computer up and running I have a few thoughts and realizations (I’m sure I’ll have more later on – the system arrived on three days ago) that I’d like to share – some good, some bad.

The System Itself
First off I just want to describe the system itself so you get an idea of the baseline. My wife who uses this computer does a lot of video editing, primarily for her lifestyles blog . Knowing this we decided to go for an Intel Core 2 Quad processor (the Q6600 I believe) . The system also boasts an ASUS P5K se motherboard, 4gb of ram, two 500GB Western Digital hard drives and a monster CoolerMaster power supply. The only thing we cheaped out on was the graphics card so instead of the store recommended GeForce 8800 we went for a GeForce 8400 with 256mb RAM. Considering we don’t do any 3d gaming the 8800 would be a colossal waste of money and we saved over $360 on the smaller card (which retailed for an astonishing $69!).

The computer came fully assembled but without any software installed. I had three discs in my hand: Windows Vista Home Premium OEM, the ASUS motherboard system disc and the graphics card drivers.

Installing Vista took a mind-bending 10 minutes. This was quite surprising – installing XP on my old system took at least 4 times as long. And apart from my moronic accidental choice of Canadian French as the system language (which took me almost 20 minutes to rectify – guess I should have just started from scratch) the install was completely unproblematic and went smoothly. Once the OS was up and running I inserted the ASUS disc and installed all the drivers (onboard audio, networking etc). This required two reboots which were done by the computer – I could have just left the house but it only took 7 minutes to complete. Once the networking was in order Vista started downloading updates but the download and install of these was putting a negligible load on the computer and I could easily move on to the next steps. Installing the graphics drivers was just as easy and once installed my weird monitor setup was immediately recognized and set up properly. In XP I always had trouble calibrating the two monitors (one ViewSonic and one LG) but this was all done automatically. I don’t know if I should credit Microsoft or Nvidia for this but it was impressive none the less.

This brings me to an interesting point: When Vista came out I read and heard a lot of complaints about how you needed a supercharged graphics card to run all the fancy new visual effects and such. This just isn’t the case. Like I said, the graphics card in this computer was a $69 GeForce 8400 and I had zero problems running the full Aero interface with all the bells and whistles AND rendering out Premiere video while having both PhotoShop, Firefox and numerous other programs in the background.

I did encounter one weird problem with the graphics that took a while to rectify: For some reason the video monitor in Premiere was severely aliased causing all sorts of crazy strobing and line effects in the output. This problem did not appear when playing back video in Windows Media Player or any other application which lead me to believe it had to do with the graphics drivers. After some fiddling I found the problem in the way the graphics card was set up. Because Premiere utilizes the graphics engine in the graphics card to render previews the card needs to be told Premiere is to be considered a 3d application even though it’s not. Once this was done the aliasing problem disappeared.

Once the system was up and running with all it’s components it was time to install all the external components we have. Most importantly we run a NAS drive as a server and this needed to be set up immediately. The 500GB Western Digital NetCenter comes equipped with a small program called WD EasyLink which I installed from it’s disc. The program went in and went active with no problems and the little WD icon appeared on the bottom right hand side of the screen as it should. On my XP machines I had to mount the two volumes on the drive by mapping them in My Computer so I did so without really paying attention only to find that Vista had already done it for me so I now had two links to each of the drives. Because I’m a curious guy I uninstalled the app and reinstalled it to see if Vista really did find my drives for me and I was pleased to see it did. This bodes well for future expansions of my server system. I will further explore the networking capabilities and functionalities once I find some extra time.

Another thing people have been complaining about has been the lack of working drivers and incompatibilities with existing programs. I installed all the programs from the previous system (Adobe Production Studio Premium, Macromedia Studio MX2004, Microsoft Expression Suite, Firefox, DivX and a pile of other nicknacks) without running into a single issue. I am curious to see what happens when I try to install Nero Burning Rom 6 which already had some issues in XP.

The only driver problem I encountered was in installing our Canon N670U scanner. The Vista driver on the Canon site would not open properly and Vista just spat out a message about the archive being corrupted. I tried downloading it several times with the same result. Then I remembered that I’ve seen a similar problem before and I downloaded the scanner driver from a different country’s site (I believe it was New Zealand?). Not surprisingly this driver worked perfectly and the scanner turned up as a TWAIN source in PhotoShop.

Dual Monitor Problem
As I said before the system has two monitors. And with that comes one problem that makes absolutely no sense to me at all: When you right-click on something that is resting on the left-hand monitor, the menu appears in the gadgets bar on the right hand side of the right hand monitor. This problem is persistent and only applies to the secondary monitor. Needless to say it is quite annoying, especially when dealing with drop-down menus. I’ll need to do some further research into whether or not this is a screen driver issue or a bona fide Vista glitch.

Other Hardware
It took me a little bit of time to figure out how to mount and format a blank harddrive on the system – all the menus have changed and things are not where they “ought to be” but the integrated search function made quick work of figuring this out.

All my external components (WaCom Tablet, camcorder, several external hard drives etc) were identified and installed without any fuss.

The only thing I still haven’t figured out is the ReadyBoos function. The computer came with a special high-speed 4gb ReadyBoost USB drive that I plugged in when I fired it up for the first time. I vaguely recall setting up something with it but I was too busy figuring out exactly how the new OS worked to really pay attention. Now I can’t find any reference to ReadyBoost in the help files and I’m a bit lost. I’m sure it just requires some minimal research but here again is that time issue. I’ll get to it eventually.

Overall my first impression of Vista Home Premium is very good. I did not encounter any of the problems I thought I would, all the software and hardware works perfectly and I’ve not seen any plug-and-play issues as of yet in spite of the non-standard setup. I’m sure I’ll have more to say in a week but for now I am very pleased with the transition.


Networking problem with Windows Vista

I haven’t posted here in a while – too much work (which you should check out btw: Second Expression-only site is up and running – More on that later – I promise. Anyways.

A couple of days ago my brother Ole sent me an email complaining that he had a serious networking problem with Windows Vista. He was frustrated to the point of homicide and wondered if I could be of assistance. Seeing as I have decided to hold off on Vista until either a) I get a new computer or b) Microsoft (or someone else) gives it to me for free so I didn’t have much to offer. But that doesn’t mean other people can’t fix his problem. So I asked him to write down a description of his problem and I would post it on this blog. So with no further ado I hereby introduce my brother Ole:

I have a desktop computer that I use as internet gateway for my own network. I usually have it running Windows XP but I recently tried installing Windows Vista and I ran into a problem: I can’t get an IP in Windows Vista out towards the ISP. The network is encrypted by wired-eap (802.1x)

I’ve tried both the network adapters as the external one, neither of them are able to get an IP in Vista. But if I try in Windows XP I get one at once. I normally have one of the cards running as normal with internet connection sharing to the other card but I’ve tried turning it off and I still don’t get an IP.

I got an IP the first time I booted after installation and configured the encryption, then I ran windows update and afterwards I can’t get an ip. When I try to get an IP it sets up the Windows standard no connection IP. I’ve tried uninstalling all the updates, but that didn’t make a differense.
I’ve also tried turning off all firewalls, antivirus and other software that might be stopping it getting an IP, but that didn’t help either. And now I’m out of ideas of how to fix the problem.


Some pertinent information: Ole is in Norway and is using the Norwegian version of Vista. He is hooked into the University of Oslo network which explains the heavy security which seems to be causing the problem. His computer has an Asus P5K motherboard and the network adapters in question is the embedded one on the motherboard and a pci linksys network adapter.

I find the problem quite puzzling and I’m surprised neither Ole or my other brother Kim have been able to find a solution. So now I hand it over to the people who frequent my blog: Does anyone (some of the Microsoft people maybe?) know what is wrong here? Is it a bug? Was there a bug in XP that let him do something he shouldn’t have been able to? Or is he just being an idiot? These are all questions that need answers.