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Zugg
MASTER


Joined: 25 Sep 2000
Posts: 23377
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 6:01 pm   

Windows 7
 
Well, I wasn't planning to mess around with Windows 7 until after the New Year, but the Universe had other plans for us.

Looks like it's *that* time of year again. Yep...it's the "Winter, let's mess up Zugg's computers" time of year.

Well, technically it's Chiara's computer. This is the computer that died about two (or maybe three?) years ago. At that time, she got a bad virus on her computer because our anti-virus software had stopped updating itself. Rather then spend many days trying to clean out the virus (it was a nasty one), we just bought her a new eMachines computer for about $500.

This past week, the eMachines computer had been doing something really annoying. Right in the middle of Chiara working on something, it would just turn itself off. No warning. No events logged in the Event Viewer. The power light on the front would flash like it was in standby mode. But pressing the power button (or even holding it) would not do anything. She would need to unplug the power cord, wait a few seconds, then plug it in again.

eMachines are notorious for bad power supplies, so I bought a new power supply from NewEgg. Installed the new power supply yesterday. A few hours later, it suddenly powered off again. Wasted money on the power supply.

The only other thing I could think of that could cause a sudden power-off like this is the CPU or system temperature. I had already checked all of the fans, and they were all working. I installed a temperature monitor software, and everything was fine. Right up to the point where it just shuts down. Even if it was the CPU, it's a Socket 989, which is hard to find these days (NewEgg no longer carries them). And it could just as likely be a problem with the motherboard.

Rather than spending more money on replacing random parts and hoping for the best, we decided it was time, yet again, for yet another computer. Since money is very very tight these days, we really had no choice but to get another cheap eMachines computer. This time it was only $400.

Pretty amazing what you get for $400 these days. It's a ET1831-03 with a Dual Core Pentium (2.6ghz), 4GB ram, 750GB disk, NVidia graphics.

And, of course, Windows 7 (64bit).

It is theoretically possible to still buy a WinXP (which is what she was running before) from Dell (business systems), but it would have been at least $550 and with only 2GB of RAM.

So I will be spending Thanksgiving reinstalling all of Chiara's software on the new computer. Oh joy.

I guess I can be thankful that her old computer has not actually died yet (I probably shouldn't say that...sorry computer gods...I really *am* thankful!) So I should have time to get all of her files transferred. And yes, we do have good daily backups.

The only software I am worried about is our MDaemon email server software. I haven't paid for an update in a while, so I'll have to cross my fingers and hope that it still works on Windows 7. Everything else she uses is pretty up-to-date. Just a lot of time in getting it all set up the way she had it with all of her preferences, etc.

So far, my first impressions of Windows 7 are pretty good. Definitely smoother than Vista so far, with fewer annoying UAC popups. I'll post more when I get more experience installing software.

At least this will give me a Win7 64bit system to test CMUD and TeSSH on. Next year, if all goes well, I will probably upgrade my Vista development system to Windows 7 if it looks like that will save me from cursing Vista all the time.

Hard to say if Windows 7 is better than Vista just because it doesn't allow you to update XP "in place". But forcing a clean install, Win7 is less likely to have problems with old hardware, old software, dirty registry, etc. Once I spend more time with it, I'll be able to let you know what Microsoft really fixed, and what the differences between Vista and Win7 really are and how much is just their improved marketing campaign.
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DanteX
Apprentice


Joined: 13 Aug 2007
Posts: 166

PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 8:35 pm   
 
Just a warning to you: be careful with plugging stuff into the USB!

It makes my Win 7 64-bit system freeze totally sometimes. When that happens, holding the power button is the only option.

What I've started to do is to put it into sleep, plug in, wake it up...

If anyone has a solution for this, please share!

//DanteX
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chris-74269
Magician


Joined: 23 Nov 2004
Posts: 364

PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 10:10 pm   
 
You can use windows xp mode within windows 7 to hopefully bypass any issues with compatibility
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Chiara
Site Admin


Joined: 29 Sep 2000
Posts: 322
Location: USA

PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 11:27 pm   
 
Windows XP Mode is only available for some versions of Windows 7. And specifically *not* for the "Premium Home" version.

Kind of sad that we have gotten to the point where the "base" version of software has to be called "Premium". Doesn't make any sense to me. "Premium" is the minimum version of Windows 7...there is nothing lower. You need "Professional" or "Ultimate" to use the Windows XP mode.

Even then, the "Windows XP mode" requires installation of Virtual PC (which is free). It's basically running the XP application in a virtual machine like when using VMware, etc. Very sneaky marketing going on here. After all, I can run "Windows XP mode" on my MACINTOSH using VMware Fusion.

So don't use Windows XP mode unless you really really have to. In most cases you shouldn't need it. And in the case of my MDaemon email server, it runs as a system service, and you can't run system services in XP mode.

Fortunately, I'm happy to report that MDaemon seems to work ok with Win7 so far. Crossing fingers.

If I really wanted to RANT I would blog about the FIFTEEN MINUTE phone call that I had to do with Intuit just to get my QuickBooks 2009 software activated on the new computer. The amount of "personal" information about my business that they ask just to get activated is astounding. I literally blew up at the non-English-speaking lady on the phone and told her that if she didn't stop asking questions about my business and give me an activation key that I was going to complain to a supervisor. Yet another reason to HATE Intuit!

(oh, and this is actually Zugg posting from Chiara's new computer :)
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Zugg
MASTER


Joined: 25 Sep 2000
Posts: 23377
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 11:50 pm   
 
Quote:
Just a warning to you: be careful with plugging stuff into the USB!

Thanks for posting that. I've had the new computer hang twice now when dealing with the USB. Once when I added the USB printer, and once adding a USB business card scanner. Nice to know it's Windows 7 and not the computer hardware.
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ReedN
Wizard


Joined: 04 Jan 2006
Posts: 1279
Location: Portland, Oregon

PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2009 12:13 am   
 
Interesting about the USB hanging. I haven't had any hanging issues with USB on Windows 7.
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Zugg
MASTER


Joined: 25 Sep 2000
Posts: 23377
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2009 3:53 am   
 
Looks like it was a driver issue. The software only installed a 32bit driver, so when I plugged in the scanner, it hung. Once I downloaded the 64bit driver from their web site, then it worked.

Still actually messing with the MDaemon mail server. Everytime I reboot it needs to reactivate it's license. And now it won't let me activate it anymore and is in 30-day trial mode. I have sent Alt-N a nasty email about this. I am *well* aware of copy protection issues, but you should never be locking out a paying customer like this. I know they are just going to say that v9.x isn't supported for Win7, but they had better figure out a way to let me activate it again. I'm not paying $380 just to upgrade MDaemon...that was the cost of the entire computer!!
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DanteX
Apprentice


Joined: 13 Aug 2007
Posts: 166

PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2009 9:27 am   
 
My problem with USB in Win 7 is based on usage of USB memory sticks / flash drives and mice. I have not tried with Scanners / Printers.

I googled for my problem and found this thread:
http://www.sevenforums.com/hardware-devices/23264-inserting-any-usb-object-causes-windows-freeze-up.html

//DanteX
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Zugg
MASTER


Joined: 25 Sep 2000
Posts: 23377
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2009 5:40 pm   
 
The new computer hung overnight :(

I'm starting to think that all of these problems might be related to this CardScan business card scanner. Chiara's problems on her old computer started about the same time we got the scanner (maybe a few days later). The scanner doesn't have it's own power, so it's drawing power from the USB port itself. And it's theoretically possible to put a computer into standby mode via the USB port because some keyboards have a standby button.

Given the driver issues that I had with the scanner and Win7 last night, I'm going to leave the scanner unplugged for a while and see what happens.

Also, I left Chiara's old computer running last night to transfer backup files. And with the disk spinning and transferring data across the network for about four hours straight, it never crashed. Maybe because it no longer had the card scanner.

I probably should have thought of this first, but our panic was due to the fact that we had to get our email server up and running. But it's possible I wasted money on a new computer just because of a bad scanner.
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ReedN
Wizard


Joined: 04 Jan 2006
Posts: 1279
Location: Portland, Oregon

PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2009 7:44 pm   
 
You are probably within the window to return it to the store.
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Zugg
MASTER


Joined: 25 Sep 2000
Posts: 23377
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2009 4:16 am   
 
Returned the Card Scanner to OfficeMax with no problem. At least that was easy.

But the Bad News is that Chiara's *new* computer just hung again!!! With no scanner. Damn!

The only other thing I can think to try is removing the mail server software. Since it's being flaky anyway and is not getting activated, and since Chiara's *old* computer is still running just fine now, I decided to put her old computer under the desk as our mail server and see if it runs reliably with nobody using it except the server.

Now I'll see if the new computer can run overnight again or not.

I've checked stuff like the drivers. The NVidia drivers seem to be up-to-date with the latest certified driver from the NVidia web site. I've also disabled the MySQL server on the new computer and put it back on the old computer (it really needs to go with the same local IP address as the mail server for our customer database software).

That doesn't leave much else running on the new computer. If it hangs again tonight, I might need to return it to Best Buy for an exchange, assuming they can just swap the hard drive over or something. Seems like it would be pretty easy between two identical computer models, but I have no idea if they do that or not. It's possible it's a memory issue.

But let's cross our fingers that I don't need to deal with that. This doesn't feel like a hardware problem, unless it's maybe a memory issue. Feels more like a software/driver issue that just causes Windows to freeze. Since I was running software that was clearly incompatible with Windows 7 (the mail server), I'm hoping that is it.

I really wish I could understand why I ALWAYS seem to have the worst luck with computers!!!
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Zugg
MASTER


Joined: 25 Sep 2000
Posts: 23377
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2009 6:27 pm   
 
Removing the mail server didn't help. It still hung before I went to bed last night.

I booted Windows 7 into Safe Mode and then ran the 4hour file transfer overnight and that worked. It was still running this morning. I don't know if Safe Mode really uses all 4GB of memory or not, so today I am going to run MemTest86+ all day and see if it finds anything.

Edited: Before running MemTest86+, I tried running the Windows Memory Diagnostic. It hung at 58% on Pass #2. But it didn't display any memory errors. I can't imagine how the Memory Diagnostic program can possibly hang! I'm running MemTest86+ now because I trust it better than the Microsoft Diagnostic.

I've also been reading some forums on Windows 7 freeze problems and saw a suggestion about setting the power management to High Performance and I'll try that later today after the memory testing.

Given that I didn't have any hang overnight in Safe Mode, if the memory test passes, then it obviously points to some other driver-related problem. So then I'll have to start going through each and every piece of software and hardware.

Google searching for Windows 7 freezing problems brought up a *lot* of posts. Seems that this Windows 7 isn't as "perfect" as the Microsoft marketing would want you to believe. It's pretty bad when it takes so long to ever determine if it's a hardware or software problem.
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Zugg
MASTER


Joined: 25 Sep 2000
Posts: 23377
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 6:03 pm   
 
Yay! Chiara's computer didn't hang last night!

Yesterday I ran MemTest86+ and it also hung at random positions. Once it hung at 73% in Pass1, and the next time it hung at some point in Pass2 after almost two hours. The fact that it didn't hang at the same spot led me to believe that it was a motherboard or CPU issue. Maybe also memory, but problems with memory don't usually cause MemTest to hang.

Given this information, I returned the entire computer to Best Buy for an exchange. I paid them $50 to transfer the hard disk from the flaky computer into the new computer. I figured that if it was hanging in MemTest, which is run from a bootable CD, then there is no way the problem could be related to the hard disk. Transferring the hard disk saved me another day of reinstalling everything again.

When I got the new computer home, I immediately ran MemTest for several hours before doing anything else. It ran without problem for over three hours. Then I installed the modem card, and also replaced the underpowered 250W power supply with the brand new 450W power supply that I had recently purchased for Chiara's old computer.

I ran the long file transfers overnight and it worked without a hitch.

So, I'm calling this one a hardware problem with the eMachines ET1831-03. That's what I get for buying the cheapest computer possible. Hopefully the next time this happens I'll be able to afford a better computer.

Chiara's old computer still hasn't powered off, so I still suspect the card scanner for that. I'm going to leave our mail server running on the old computer and see how it goes.
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Rainchild
Wizard


Joined: 10 Oct 2000
Posts: 1551
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 11:46 pm   
 
I've got nothing but praise for Windows 7... to quote just about everyone else on the internet, Windows 7 is what Vista should have been.

Have you noticed how fast it boots up! I didn't like the pinned stuff on the taskbar so I tweaked that, but aside from that it's been behaving itself wonderfully.

I haven't had any problems with USB devices - I use flash drives/usb hard drives all the time and haven't had any lock-ups.

And the really important part... spider solitaire is much prettier :p
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Zugg
MASTER


Joined: 25 Sep 2000
Posts: 23377
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Thu Nov 26, 2009 12:58 am   
 
I love the boot speed. I actually like the "pin to taskbar" options, and so does Chiara. The idea of integrating the QuickBar with the TaskBar works very intuitively I think. And I love being able to control which icons appear in the System tray and which remain hidden (the new Customize option for the System Tray).

The UAC popups are much better than Vista. I agree that this is what Vista should have been, and I still maintain that Microsoft should be offering Vista users a Free Upgrade to Windows 7 to make up for all of the grief that Vista caused us.

Guess I'll have to try Solitaire :)
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bortaS
Magician


Joined: 10 Oct 2000
Posts: 320
Location: Springville, UT

PostPosted: Thu Nov 26, 2009 7:12 am   
 
You might want to check out a utility called 7stacks. It creates popup menus from the taskbar. I really missed having extra toolbars in the QuickBar, but this little gem helps with that.

http://www.alastria.com/index.php?p=software-7s
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bortaS
~~ Crusty Klingon Programmer ~~
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ReedN
Wizard


Joined: 04 Jan 2006
Posts: 1279
Location: Portland, Oregon

PostPosted: Thu Nov 26, 2009 7:01 pm   
 
Yeah, I'd agree. At first I was a little disoriented regarding the pinning to taskbar, but once I got used to it I felt like it was what it should have been like from the start.
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Zugg
MASTER


Joined: 25 Sep 2000
Posts: 23377
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2009 7:43 pm   
 
So far I haven't had any other problems with the Windows 7 on Chiara's new computer.

But I just had to say that I'm really very upset at the high price Microsoft is charging for Windows 7. I paid $380 for Chiara's new computer, and it came with a new copy of Windows 7. But to upgrade from my existing Vista computer to Windows 7 is going to cost me at least $110?? That just seems insane to me. I can see charging this much for Windows XP users, since the changes from XP to Win7 are pretty huge. But come on Microsoft, you need to give your Vista users a break. After all, we are the ones who have put up with all of the Vista problems for the past couple of years.

If the upgrade was $30 or so, then I'd have no problem. But paying $110+ for the incremental improvements from Vista to Win7 just isn't right. Especially since this is being enforced *per computer* now. I have three computers that I might potentially upgrade...but no way for that price per computer.

Look at the low prices Apple charges for their OS updates. Look at the low prices of computer hardware these days. And then look at what Microsoft is charging home users for Win7 upgrades. It's completely out of line.

I doubt that any amount of whining or blogging will change this situation. With a lower price for Vista users, Microsoft could easily eradicate Vista from the world. But at the current prices, I'm afraid that a lot of Vista users are going to not upgrade and I'll be stuck supporting legacy Vista systems for a long time. It's a real shame.

Eventually I will need to upgrade my Development computer from Vista to Windows 7, assuming that all of my dev tools will still work. But it will have to wait till next year when I can better afford it.
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ReedN
Wizard


Joined: 04 Jan 2006
Posts: 1279
Location: Portland, Oregon

PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2009 7:57 pm   
 
Try the family pack of 3 for $150. An average of $50 per copy is much better.

I preordered one for $50 and got a second for $29 because I have a .edu e-mail for the student price.
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Rainchild
Wizard


Joined: 10 Oct 2000
Posts: 1551
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2009 11:55 pm   
 
Heh, you think you have it bad? The exchange rate for US to AU is *1.08... so your $110 upgrade -should- cost us $119. But no, it's $199 for home premium, or $429 for ultimate!!!!

It's actually cheaper to buy a new motherboard and the OEM version of Ultimate than it is to buy the upgrade! Disgusting.

I've only upgraded my laptop at this stage because I can't justify the ridiculous prices to upgrade my other PC's.

And we don't get the family pack either!
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Zugg
MASTER


Joined: 25 Sep 2000
Posts: 23377
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2009 5:15 am   
 
Well, I have three computers to *potentially* upgrade in the distant future. Not that I want to upgrade right now. One is Chiara's laptop running Vista, but I'm nervous doing an upgrade on her Dell laptop. I'd need to figure out if it was compatible. The other is my WinXP gaming system, and I'm going to keep that at WinXP for quite a while I think.

Also, I am not seeing the Windows 7 Family pack on either Amazon or NewEgg. On Amazon, it is available from other vendors for $250. On NewEgg, it says that the product is no longer available. According to the Microsoft web site:
Quote:
The Windows 7 Family Pack offer has ended.

Good job Microsoft killing a special deal that might have actually gotten you some business!!

Yeah, no never mind. Maybe I can find somebody with a .edu address that I can use for a student version. I shouldn't have to resort to those kind of tricks though. It's always been the same story though...Microsoft gets students and developers hooked on Windows products and then charges a fortune in the future for updates. The MSDN subscription stuff was just like this...great at first and then way to expensive to maintain.
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ReedN
Wizard


Joined: 04 Jan 2006
Posts: 1279
Location: Portland, Oregon

PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2009 5:26 am   
 
I saw the family pack about 4 days ago at a Best Buy store. So I'm not sure about the availability.

I did find this with a Google search:
http://www.theestore.net/product_info.php?language=en&currency=USD&products_id=1441737

Also from a CNET review:

Microsoft noted in some of its communications that the family pack is available "while supplies last." Given that Microsoft would seem to be in a position to make as many boxes as it wants, I pressed the software maker to understand how limited this offer will be. A company representative would only say that it is a new offer that Microsoft is testing and declined to elaborate on the time frame or the number of copies it was limited to.
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Larkin
Wizard


Joined: 25 Mar 2003
Posts: 1113
Location: USA

PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2009 11:14 pm   
 
Using the student pricing is against the license unless you actually are a student, but I know that doesn't stop 90% of people from getting the price they feel is fair. I work for a large university, but my two copies still came from Best Buy ($50 a piece, as a pre-order) because I'm not a student.
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Zugg
MASTER


Joined: 25 Sep 2000
Posts: 23377
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 2:54 am   
 
I wouldn't actually do that myself...it goes against everything I believe in. But it's frustrating when a companies pricing policies leads people to think of stuff like that. It's similar to software piracy. I've always thought that a more reasonable price in the first place would lessen the need for some people to just pirate a free/stolen license key. Companies shoot themselves in the foot with their pricing sometimes and forget what it's like to live in the real world where $100 is still a lot of money, even to me.

Besides, you *know* that Microsoft isn't charging that much to the OEM makers. I can't imagine that eMachines, or Dell, etc is spending over $100 on their Windows license for a $380 computer. So all of this pricing is completely artificial. Microsoft is just trying to make as much money on it as they possibly can to make up for the Vista fiasco. Maybe the price will come down in a few months after the "newness" of Win7 has worn off. But I don't have my hopes up.

Just checked my local Best Buy, and no family packs available. And I don't trust any Google searching unless the shopping site has a real way to check actual availability.
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Rainchild
Wizard


Joined: 10 Oct 2000
Posts: 1551
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 11:25 am   
 
Vista's price never fell, so I don't see Windows 7 falling either. They set the RRP and it just stays there. Of course, you can get it cheaper than RRP at some vendors.

If they start going back to that 2-yearly model they were talking about I can't imagine staying up to date with OS's unless they significantly reduce their prices :| Windows 8 in 2012 for another $429? No thanks. It's no wonder people start swapping OS's.

They should consider some kind of subscription/maintenance plan... $50/computer/year to keep me up to date with all service packs plus included upgrades to newer versions? I'd be OK with that, especially if that included Word/Excel/Outlook.
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