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Zugg
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Joined: 25 Sep 2000
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Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2008 7:32 pm   

My Bad Computer Luck Continues
 
Today when I was testing to see if my short vision has improved (it hasn't), I was looking at my laptop. The screen seemed *really* strange. So I put on my reading glasses to look at it. Something is really screwed up.

It looks like the resolution is set wrong, but it isn't. In fact, it looks like every other vertical line is screwed up. This is a Toshiba Tecra M4 laptop with a normal resolution of 1400x1050. But text is totally unreadable now. I lowered the resolution to 800x600 just so I could read stuff on the screen.

I have tried rebooting and powering it off and on. I've tried safe mode to see if it's a driver issue. I don't do any automatic updates on the laptop and it's just been sitting next to my work computer in standby mode for the past week until I had time to get Delphi 2007 working on it for our trip to Austin this week.

But there is definitely a "vertical strip" effect going on. Several days ago I installed the latest WoW update on it and I did notice that it got hung up and was running very hot for a blank screen for a while. But after rebooting it I thought it was working ok. But maybe I didn't do anything to look at text since that is right about the time that I had my eye surgery. So it's possible that it got really hot and burned something out.

Unfortunately it seems like it's either the video board, or the LCD screen. The video is integrated into the motherboard, so there is no fixing that. And this laptop has a swivel screen that can turn into a tablet computer, so I'm guessing that replacing the screen is also very expensive. This was about a $3000 laptop when I bought it about 3 years ago.

What is it with me and computers that are 3 years old? I've *NEVER* seen anyone with this kind of bad computer luck. And CMUD sales are down this month (a typical "spring break" effect) and I just got through spending a bunch of money replacing my main desktop system. So I *REALLY* do not want to buy yet another computer.

This is REALLY ANNOYING!!!
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Zugg
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2008 8:02 pm   
 
OK, go ahead and post your opinions...if I have to buy yet another laptop, what kind should I get? I'm a bit pissed with Toshiba right now, and I'll tell you in advanced that I won't touch HP. So I'm leaning towards Dell because the one Chiara got last year still seems to be ok. But I will NOT buy a laptop with Vista. One of the purposes of my laptop is to give me a good WinXP system to develop and test on. Seems that the choices for a Dell with XP are rather limited. In my price range, there is just the Inspiron 1520. A high-end build of that system is about $1400. Any other opinions?
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Zugg
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2008 8:54 pm   
 
OK, this is really weird...I've never seen anything like this...

While I was running a full backup on the laptop, the screen got worse. I had lowered it to 800x600 resolution so that I could read the screen. Midway through the backup, the screen turned all yellowish. It's like every other vertical line was now a dim yellow color. "That's bad," I thought. Looks like it's getting ready to die completely.

About 30 minutes later, the screen flashed and now suddenly everything is back to normal! I changed the resolution back to 1400x1050 and it's all fine now.

This is really making me nervous. How could it go from being so bad to suddenly fixed? Definitely not a cable/connection issue since it wasn't being moved or touched at all during the backup. And it shouldn't be a "warmup" issue since it has been on for several days already.

Don't have a clue what is going on today. The Gremlins are just trying to piss me off.

Edited: The screen changes now every few minutes. Sometimes it's ok, sometimes it's yellowish, sometimes red, sometimes green. It's like every other vertical line is getting colored differently every few minutes. I've never seen anything like this before.
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Rainchild
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2008 11:12 pm   
 
That's... odd behavior. Have you refreshed the video drivers? You said you updated WoW, could that have installed a new directx patch which your video drivers didn't like? Long shot perhaps. Maybe it overheated and the video memory got partially fried - or is it one of those cards without dedicated video memory? I've heard of memory tester programs for both video memory and system memory, not sure what it's called though.

You know my preference for Dell. Get the 3 year on-site next day warranty too. I'm not sure how Dell works in the States, but here in Australia they run a cycle of "this week get free RAM upgrade from 2gb to 3gb" or "this week get a free belkin gaming headset and wireless router"... if you wait and watch the specials weekly you can wait for the one which says "$400 off selected laptops" (the discount amount varies). You may also be able to score a higher end laptop for the same price with a deal like that.


Last edited by Rainchild on Sun Apr 13, 2008 11:14 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Guinn
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2008 11:13 pm   
 
Dell is fine. They work, you get good support. Job done :)

I'd definitely get a Latitude or Precision rather than an Inspiron though. That way you're not restricted to a few laptops with XP, you get the proper range. That and the Latitudes/Precisions are better than the Inspirons and come with less crap installed as they're aimed at business users.
I'm probably telling you things you already know, but when buying a laptop from Dell then always always always go for the highest possible basic spec you can find. If you pick a $600 Inspiron and put $800 of upgrades on it you'll end up spending $1400 on a $1000 laptop. If you pick a $1300 base spec and put $100 of extras you'll spend $1400 on a $1350 laptop. They make their money from people paying through the nose for the bolt-ons.

So, that said, for $1400 I'd plump for the Precision M4300, base price $1249
http://configure.us.dell.com/dellstore/config.aspx?c=us&cs=04&kc=6W300&l=en&oc=bwdwf3p&s=bsd

Then up the LCD to either the 1680x1050 (+$70) or 1920x1200 (+149) resolution
Also upgrade the 80GB HDD from the 5400RPM to a 7200RPM (+$60)

Apart from that you can leave things as standard. With just the 1680x1050 and 7200RPM disk it comes to $1379, and the spec is...

My System Details
Intel®Core™2DuoT9300(2.50GHz)6ML2Cache,800MHzDualCore
Genuine Windows® XP Professional, SP2 with Media
NVIDIA Quadro FX 360M, 512MB Turbo Cache memory (256 dedicated)
15.4 inch Wide Screen WSXGA+ TrueLife LCD Panel
2.0GB, DDR2-667MHz SDRAM, 2 DIMMS
80GB Hard Drive, 9.5MM, 7200RPM (Free Fall Sensor)
24X CD-ROM Drive
Dell Wireless™ 1390 802.11g Mini Card
Standard Touchpad
6 Cell Primary Battery
3 Year Basic Limited Warranty and 3 Year NBD On-Site Service
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mr_kent
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 12:29 am   
 
Can you hook it up to a regular monitor to see if it is the display or the graphics hardware? Sounds to me like a memory+screen-saver type issue with it changing every few minutes as if some part of memory is corrupted having to do with the system monitoring.

I'd shut it down and see if it's fixed when started back up. I've had weird issues similar to this happen in the past and usually a reboot fixes the issue. Having said that, backing up the drive is definitely a good route to go before hand.
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Zugg
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 12:37 am   
 
It does it even in Safe Mode. In that mode there isn't any fancy drivers or anything. I have also shut it down several times, and even powered down and left it off for a few minutes. So I don't think it's a software issue...definitely seems like hardware. I'll try hooking up an external monitor and see if that is also affected.

The info on Dell is good...I didn't remember their business site and you are right that there are much better deals and more options available there for a better price. Definitely is the direction I am leaning.

The only other thing I'm going to look into is a dual-boot Apple Macbook Pro (Intel-based). I know it sounds a bit crazy, but there's some stuff on the Mac that I've been interested in, and if I can find a competitive dual-boot system, that could be really useful and save me from buying a Mac standalone in the future.
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Arminas
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 1:03 am   
 
At the school I work at we have exclusively Toshiba laptops.
Not because I picked them but my boss did years ago for a school wide standard.

Anyway, Toshiba laptops have the odd FEATURE of having their BIOS integrated with Windows.

This sometimes causes very strange things to occur. One thing that often cures the oddities is to follow these steps.

1 Power down the system.
2 Unplug all external cords/accessories.
3 Remove the battery.
4 Press and hold the power button for 10 to 20 seconds.

The tech guys at Toshiba will tell you that you can get the same effect by simply holding down the power button for 20
seconds but I've sometimes had to do all of the above.

After you try that if it still doesn't work I would try both installing the latest video drivers from whoever made your chip, then if that doesn't fix the problem I'd install the drivers that came with your restore CD. I've recently had problems with Windows update installing drivers silently on several computers that suddenly stopped working with the updated drivers. Mad

On the subject of buying a new personal laptop I definitely would NOT go for a Toshiba.
I might get a DELL. I haven't looked at many other models of late, I'd have to look around.

Whichever one I got though I would try and get a solid state drive.
Sure they add a hefty amount to the price, last I checked it was about $600. But I've seen SO many hard drives in laptops die it is not funny. At present count around 40 in the past 3 years. Not counting the times I simply had to re-image/install Windows because of HDD failure. No not all of those were Toshiba %90 were in IBM Thinkpads. (What does one expect when you place 40 new IBM laptops into the hands of middle schoolers then leave the room repeatedly???) Rolling Eyes
There are something like 4 of these left in the district.
The rest of the pile are all dead and in need of, you guessed it new hard drives.

Anyway I hope you don't have to replace your laptop at all. Good luck either way!
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Zugg
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 1:48 am   
 
Yeah, I saw the solid state drive as an option on some Dell systems. $550 for a 64GB drive. But that's pretty small these days, especially for a Vista system. I have great hopes that the capacities will continue to rise and the prices will drop, so maybe in a couple of years it will be more viable. I definitely agree that it would be great to have that on the laptop and not need to worry about the problems with the moving hard drive.

My Toshiba has a motion sensor in it and actually stops writing to the disk if it senses motion, and I've always thought that was a great feature too. Oh, and IBM has horrible hard drives, in both their Thinkpad laptops and their desktop systems. I never get any IBM drives anymore.

The laptop is now working fine again. After it was doing the color cycling every few minutes it finally stopped and has been working fine for the past few hours. I'm going to keep an eye on it. And I'll learn more about how stable it is during the Texas trip this week. At least it means I don't need to rush out and get anything right away. I'll know more in a week when I get back.

Maybe it was just the Universe's way to remind me that I didn't have a recent backup of the laptop.

Edited: I spoke too soon. It just started doing it again. Definitely some intermittent hardware issue. Sigh.
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Fang Xianfu
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 2:40 am   
 
Commiserations :( i wouldn't even look at solid state at this point. Perhaps when there's better integration; i've heard of setups using it as a cache between hard drives and ram that apparently get a lot of loading time benefit, but loading times and drive noise aren't enough of a bother to warrant the price. And in a world where 500gb drives cost £50, 5 times that much for a tenth of the space is pointless.
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Zugg
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 4:02 am   
 
OK, I am *seriously* considering getting a MacBook Pro and running a dual-boot system with Windows XP. As I mentioned above, we have some needs now and then for a Mac OSX system here. We considered getting Chiara a Macbook last year, but opted for the cheap Dell for $700 instead.

But comparing it with the higher-end Dells that I am looking at, the prices are actually very comparable when you consider a reburbed or previous model. The latest model only improves the battery life (power efficiency) a bit, and adds the multitouch to the trackpad. Not much for about $800 in price difference. But here is a typical reburb unit:

Model: Refurbished MacBook Pro
Processor: 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
Memory: 2GB (two SO-DIMMs) 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM (PC2-5300)
Display: 15.4-inch (diagonal), 1440 x 900 resolution, TFT widescreen
PCI Express Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT with 256MB of GDDR3 SDRAM and dual-link DVI
Video: Built-in iSight Camera, DVI, VGA (DVI to VGA adapter included)
Audio: Combined optical digital input/audio line in, combined optical digital output/headphone out, stereo speakers, microphone
Hard disk drive: 160GB Serial ATA; 5400 rpm
Slot-loading optical drive: 8x SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
Ethernet: Built-in 10/100/1000BASE-T (Gigabit)
Wireless: Built-in AirPort Extreme (802.11n); built-in Bluetooth 2.0+EDR
Modem: Apple USB Modem (sold separately)
Input: Apple Remote; full-size, illuminated keyboard with ambient light sensor; scrolling Trackpad
Expansion: One FireWire 400, one FireWire 800, two USB 2.0 ports, and ExpressCard/34 slot
Weight: 5.4 pounds (2.45 kg) with battery and optical drive installed
Footprint: 14.1 x 9.6 inches
Thickness: 1.0 inch (2.59 cm)
Video accessories: DVI to VGA adapter included (other adapters sold separately)
Hardware accessories: 85W MagSafe Power Adapter, AC wall plug, power cord, lithium-polymer battery

and that is all for $1649. Getting a "new" non-refurb of the same model of the previous generation is about $1800. But the $1649 unit is only about $300 more than a similar Dell system. And for that $300 I get OSX plus a laptop that is lighter (by a pound!) and thinner. Battery life is more comparable to the 9-cell Dell batteries. It has 802.11n instead of 802.11g. It has Bluetooth. The resolution is good for the 15" screen...getting 1920x1200 on a screen that small makes the fonts and stuff too small in my opinion. The DVD is slower than the Dell. Refurb is only 1-yr warranty instead of 3, but that actually covers most warranty issues that I've come across (it either dies right away, or it dies in 3-4 years after the warranty anyway).

The main downside is a slightly smaller hard disk (I can pay more to get a larger disk with Dell). I always use an external USB mouse for my laptop (even my Toshiba), so issues like right-click are not a problem (and I understand you can click on the touchpad with two-fingers now to get a right-click). In addition to dual-booting between Windows and OSX, I can even get VMware and run it in OSX and share the exact same XP installation between the dual-boot and the VMware. So doing something "quick" in Windows while in OSX without rebooting is easy. Or, if I just live in XP all of the time and don't use OSX except when I need it for certain apps, then it still makes a fine Windows box.

The main thing I'm looking for is a NVidia 8600 with 256MB of RAM. That is a must to use the laptop for any sort of gaming (and if I ever need to run Vista, which I could also "dual" boot). I only want a 15" screen, *not* a 17" screen, because I still want this to be useful on a plane and 17" systems of any kind are just too huge. 2GB of RAM is a minimum (again, for Vista possible in the future). With the MacBook Pro I actually like the fact that I could have XP *and* Vista on different partitions.

Seems like the MacBook Pro is a really versatile option, for not much more money. A friend just recently got this exact same unit refurbed and it seems quite nice. Certainly better build-quality than Dell or Toshiba, or anyone else on the pure-PC side. I'm not Apple fanboy, but I'm really no fan of any other particular vendor either. At this point I think it's either a Dell business unit, or the MacBook Pro. And given that there are some future reasons for me to be interested in OSX, it seems like that tilts the scale towards the MacBook.

I was really surprised how competitive the pricing has gotten.
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Rainchild
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 9:11 am   
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOEKBC1JPz4
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Zugg
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 2:52 pm   
 
ROFL. That was pretty funny. But the funniest thing was that given all of the enormous problems I have had with PC desktop hardware, Vista, Laptop hardware, Vista (did I mention Vista?) I could have created a pretty similar and funny rant about all of my problems too. Besides, I'm not talking about "living" in OSX. I'd be using it as a Windows box and would only use OSX for some specific issues. At least that's the plan. It cheaper to get the refurb MacBook Pro than buying a Dell + a cheap Mac down the road.

But really...if I had time to browse YouTube, I'll bet that I could find a lot more "funny" videos that bash Microsoft and Vista than bash Apple/Mac.
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Zugg
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 3:14 pm   
 
OK, so here is a serious question that I need to answer regardless of what laptop I get. In the past, many of you have mentioned some useful information that I wish I had known about *before* I upgraded to a new computer. In all of my various install mishaps on this new desktop system, there were probably better ways to install Windows XP. My current Windows XP CD is old and does not have SP2 installed. It is also an upgrade CD. So typically I insert the XP CD and install it, then insert an old Win98 CD to verify the upgrade. Then I finish the install and then I spend the next two hours doing the SP2 and other upgrades.

Seems like I remember some people mentioning a way to prepare a WinXP SP2 CD before hand. In fact, if there was a way to take my current XP installation and "prepare" it to be moved to other hardware, that might even be better. But starting with a clean XP system might still be better, since I know that reinstalling apps only takes a couple of days (probably less on the laptop since I have fewer development tools on it).

But I already have this "Clean XP" system installed on my Vista development computer in another partition. It sure would be nice to somehow just "clone" this CleanXP system and then do something to make it install all of the hardware drivers from scratch again.

I will go browse through some of the old blog threads about this, but if someone remembers the links for tools to make it easier to get WinXP SP2 installed on a new system, let me know. Since I won't have a new laptop for at least a week, I'd like to prepare in advance a bit more than before. After all, the hard disk on the current laptop is fine...it's just the display that I can't read without switching to a low resolution. But I can make whatever CDs that I might need from the current system if I need to.
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ralgith
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 6:02 pm   
 
The slipstreaming of a service pack is probably what you're talking about. But last I knew you could only do that with full versions of the CD, not with Upgrade discs. If you have a valid corporate key set, I'd just recommend downloading it off torrent (I can give you a link) since owning the image AND the CDs you make from the image, is legal as long as you have a legal corp. key. This is a pre-slipped image up to SP2. Though they are discussing slipstreaming SP3 into it, but they've encountered problems because the resulting image is larger than 700MB CD. But still, it could be done as a DVD.

Anyways, just an idea. Not sure what type of key you have for XP.
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Arminas
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 6:12 pm   
 
No, actually it sounds more like he is talking about sysprep.

Yes with slipstreaming you can turn a regular xp disk into an sp3 disk.

But what he is talking about is taking an image of your working system and preparing it for placing on another machine.
Or rather getting your machine ready ahead of time so that the image that you take of your system can be placed on another physical machine.

There are other products out there but it has been a long time since I looked into any of them.
Given it has been slightly over a year they are probably better than I remember anyway.

And actually I'm not altogether certain that it is impossible to run something like NLite on his upgrade disk to make a sp2 or sp3 upgrade disk from it.
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Fang Xianfu
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 7:42 pm   
 
i'm not sure about the legality of it, though i can't understand the problem, but last time, i couldn't find my xp disc. Instead, i got the cd key out of my old installation's registry and then downloaded an image of an xp disc with sp2 via bittorrent. The burnt image worked fine and i had only (haha) 99 updates afterwards. If you wanted to avoid the updates, you could try the same. You have to be careful which torrent you get because they normally don't care about passing wga, but it worked for me.
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Rorso
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:09 pm   
 
Fang Xianfu wrote:
i'm not sure about the legality of it, though i can't understand the problem, but last time, i couldn't find my xp disc. Instead, i got the cd key out of my old installation's registry and then downloaded an image of an xp disc with sp2 via bittorrent. The burnt image worked fine and i had only (haha) 99 updates afterwards. If you wanted to avoid the updates, you could try the same. You have to be careful which torrent you get because they normally don't care about passing wga, but it worked for me.

You realize that when you "download" torrent files you also upload the file? So while downloading someones copyrighted work, you also give away copies of it to others.
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Vijilante
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:17 pm   
 
I would suggest taking the time to slipstream service pack 3 into your XP installation. Then spend 20$ on a 4GB USB flash drive and use that as your installation disk. That gives you enough room to put on the XP install, and virtually all programs that you use.

Setting up the USB as bootable
http://www.bootdisk.com/pendrive.htm


Slipstreaming
http://www.winsupersite.com/showcase/windowsxp_sp2_slipstream.asp
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Guinn
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:44 pm   
 
Quote:
You have to be careful which torrent you get because they normally don't care about passing wga

You can download magic jellybean to change your key if memory serves, so you're not stuck with a blacklisted one
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Fang Xianfu
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 11:19 pm   
 
Rorso: depends how you have you client configured actually, but where's the problem with that as well? The bad part is installing using a key you don't own. Otherwise it's like me emailing someone the cmud installer or something.

Guinn: it's not the key that's the problem. Like i explained, i used my own key, and Zugg could do the same. The problem seems to be that wga checks more than that. I'm guessing that's why some optimised xps fail too.
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Zugg
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 12:22 am   
 
Unfortunately, it looks like I'm mostly screwed with any of these methods. The problem? My XP disk is an "Upgrade" disk. And when you try to use that in BootCamp to load XP onto the MacBook Pro, there is no way to eject the disk to insert your Win98 disk so that Microsoft can verify the upgrade!

Yes, if I had read the full instructions for BootCamp, I would have seen this insane requirement. So I can't really rant too much about it. But come on...who makes a computer where it is IMPOSSIBLE to eject a disk? Where is the old paper-clip hole? Why can't the HARDWARE detect the Eject button and eject the disk...why does it require a software driver? This kind of stuff drives me insane.

So there I was...I had my XP disk in the MacBook drive. I couldn't eject it to continue with the XP install. Rebooting the MacBook just causes the XP disk to be booted again. I couldn't even get back into OSX! Fortunately, a Google search on another computer revealed that holding down the mouse button when powering on will eject the disk. Yeah, like that is obvious. Sorry Apple, but you've already lost useability points for that one.

None of the slipstreaming stuff will help me here because I've got this stupid upgrade disk which has been a nightmare everytime I try and use it. But it's actually my LEGAL copy of Windows XP. The computer that had this XP installed on it (along with the original Win98) no longer exists. But NO....instead of running my LEGAL copy of XP, I get to install the full copy of XP Media Center that I used on my gaming machine downstairs. I bought this OEM version when I built my own computer downstairs. It is a full version of XP with SP2 (along with Media Center software that isn't going to work on the Mac).

As far as I'm concerned, I'm still legal. I've got two systems running XP, and I've got 2 XP disks (full Media Center disk, and XP upgrade disk along with full Win98 disk). And I'm getting sick and tired of this kind of stuff getting in the way of legitimate software use. I was *really* tempted to just go download an illegal bittorrent copy and then use my valid license key. And you know something is wrong when honest and legitimate customers feel forced to resort to illegal means just to run software that they have properly paid for.

Sorry, but I do NOT support the notion of a software license tied to a specific piece of hardware. If I upgrade a computer, or one dies and I have to replace it, then I should be able to use the existing software that I already paid for. If I bought 2 copies of Windows, then I should be able to have 2 computers in my house running Windows. Microsoft's new licensing scheme with Vista and high prices are one of the many reasons that I am no longer happy with Windows.

Anyway...the XP installation is going forward. Going pretty fast compared to some past experiences. I'll let you know what it's like after I get the drivers installed.
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Zugg
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 12:56 am   
 
Of course, XP Media Center comes on TWO disks. Sigh. So halfway through the installation it prompted me for the 2nd disk. Again, no way to eject the first disk. I just clicked the Cancel button in the Windows installer, and it seemed to continue with the install. So I've got my fingers crossed.
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Zugg
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 1:08 am   
 
OK, that was pretty painless. They give instructions for ejecting the XP setup disk once you are in XP, and then you insert the OSX disk and it automatically installs all of the hardware drivers needed for XP. Quick and easy.

I think this is the cleanest XP laptop that I've ever had. You know how when you get a Dell, or HP, or Sony, or any other laptop how it comes with lots of junk installed? My Toshiba has dozens and dozens of little "applets" running in the background to control all of the hardware. And lots of extra crap on the desktop. I probably spent a whole day Uninstalling junk when I first got my Toshiba, and when Chiara got her Dell laptop. Not with the MacBook. I've got a pristine clean system. Almost makes me not want to install any other software ;)

Anyway, I've got my Gigabit network, my wireless network, bluetooth, NVidia drivers (sadly, you apparently can't just update to the latest drivers from the NVidia site whenever you want...you have to wait for Apple approved drivers).

The next step is to install a couple of apps (like Outlook so I can do my email), and then I'll boot back into OSX and try the VMware emulation options. You can point VMware to your BootCamp XP drive so that it doesn't need to make an additional virtual machine. And that's a really nice feature.
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Zugg
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Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 1:53 am   
 
OK, I'm sure someone was guessing that I'd eventually rant about the lack of a second mouse button. Actually, I *love* the fact that you just hold two fingers on the touchpad to right click. One problem with this though...no way to "right-drag" something.

In Windows I am *always* using the right-mouse button to grag files in Windows Explorer because I never trust the default to be correct. It oftens Moves a file when I want to Copy it instead. So I always right-drag and then choose copy/move from the popup menu.

But there is no way to "right-drag" using the MacBook touchpad that I can find. Using two fingers doesn't work (moving two fingers on the touchpad scrolls, which I also like, but doesn't solve this problem). I guess the guys at Apple have never used Windows enough to know that right-drag is a common occurrence in File Explorer (something Microsoft should actually be ashamed of actually...if normal people have trouble right-clicking, imagine the trouble they have right-dragging?).

Fortunately I was able to just plug in my USB Logitech mouse that I used on my Toshiba and it worked just great.

The only other downside so far with the MacBook is that all of the ports are on the sides and none on the back. For example, my Ethernet cable sticks out of the right side, as does the USB "dongle" for my mouse. This means that the space to the right of my laptop where I usually use my mouse is cluttered with cables and dongles, taking up my precious desk space where my mouse normally goes. That's just plain poor ergonomics. Ports are *supposed* to be in the back, not on the sides. This annoyance is going to take a lot of effort to get used to. Although it's an issue with most any laptop these days since lots of them are starting to put ports on the sides for some insane reason.

Whatever happened to the nice simple days back with the IBM thinkpad where everything was in the back and you could even get a nice docking adapter so that your laptop could be used more easily as a desktop system (external monitor, keyboard, mouse, ethernet, etc). Seems like we have gone backwards in progress on this "feature". Now you have to always unplug a half-dozen cables when going between desktop and portable mode.
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