I Find it Amusing

I couldn’t download Windows 7 Enterprise N with Service Pack 1 (x64) – DVD (English) using Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 because of some intense anti-ActiveX settings (that I couldn’t be bothered to screw around with) so I booted up Google Chrome and it worked.. I even tried kicking IE9 into compatibility mode… for a Microsoft site.

Embarrassing!

For those that care, it’s a legit download through my MSDN Subscription. I’m not the type that goes, “ARRRRH MATEY!”

Just an early morning giggle.

Resistant to Change

You can tell someone is resistant to change when they get an opportunity to do something entirely new, but make it function in the same way previous, older incarnations did.

Example?

One of the guys in my D&D/Pathfinder group bought a Windows Tablet. Cool right? Lets see what Microsoft did with their tablet – could be cool!

Nope.

First thing I noticed?

It was Windows 7.

No really, it was Windows 7.

Same look, feel with menus and all… only they were mostly itty bitty little menus because of the screen real estate.

Wow.

Opportunity totally missed there Microsoft.

Yes, you could poke the screen, pinch, stretch, drag, etc. but it was otherwise the same visual experience as having Windows 7.

I’m only moderately poking fun at Scott for this because I can’t blame the guy for his purchase because he identified a need he wanted to fill which was a really portable device which he could run Excel on because that’s where his character sheet lives – Excel. For that need, it was a perfect fit and more practical solution than some of our other members who bring massive laptops in.

I’m mainly poking fun at Microsoft for not modifying the immediate tablet experience any more than just adding the common gestures.

Let’s take what we have on touchscreen desktops, shrink it down and plop it on a tablet! Great idea!

Very sad.

I’m still without a tablet and juggled the idea of getting one but never really did. I still use pencil, paper and hardcover books.

Maybe I’m the one resistant to change or maybe I’m just waiting for a solution that suits me best…

Something About CMD…

I ran into some issues trying to run Battlefield 2 and the expansions. For some reason, it thought I hadn’t previously bought the game – which isn’t true. I bought it, Special Forces and the two expansions as well. The LittleBigOgre likes to play it and of all the shooter type games, this one is the least gory. In fact, there is no gore at all.

So I take a look and it appears EA is giving the expansion packs away for free with patch 1.50. I’ve got 1.41 installed so I start wondering if that is the issue so I download the 1.50 beast of a patch – 2 GB! I guess they included the expansions in there.

Download is done, I go to the folder to run it and get the busy cursor. I wait. Wait some more… wait. Finally I say screw it. Hit up the task manager and apparently there is a ‘consent’ process going. Weird, I don’t see a prompt? I know sometimes for really big files it takes a bit to show up.

It’s been more than a bit. I give it a reboot and try again with the same result.

On a whim, I fire up the Start menu, type ‘cmd’ into the Search/Run fields, right click on the ‘cmd’ item in the found list and select ‘Run as Administrator’. This means what ever I do in the command line has admin rights. I navigate to the download folder and call the patch exe that way.

Shit pops up right away. WTF?

I get one request for consent (I think it was the one I previously clicked on) and off the installer goes.

It always amazes me at the overhead a the GUI adds over top of simple system commands.

By the way, patch 1.50 fixed the issue and the LittleBigOgre is happily taking over the Great Wall of China.

Command line ftw.

Windows 7 Taskbar Enhancement Request…

Microsoft, if you’re listening, can you please allow ‘grouping’ of shortcuts on the taskbar. Sort of like how you hide inactive icons in the systray.

Allow a user to group them as they see fit or heck, steal something from MMO UIs or addons that let you CTRL+ScrollUp/Down to toggle through options.

That would be sweet.

My current whine is about the task bar because I have several work related shortcuts, several family (browsers, Photoshop Elements, etc.) related shortcuts and several game related icons on the task bar. To get them all to fit I have to use small icons.

Yes, I know I can increase the height the task bar, but I’d rather not. I’d much rather have some organization or even modes I can scroll through.

Just a suggestion.

EDIT: In the words of Gregory House, “You’re an idiot.” Hey, it’s been re-runs the last two weeks and I miss it… it’s also applicable.

I realized shortly after posting this that I can just create folders full of short cuts and add them as ‘toolbars’ to the task bar giving me just about what I wanted. I now have (crunched up) Games, Work and Misc toolbars which point to a {user documents}\Toolbars\{ToolbarNameHere} folders that conain shortcuts to the apps I want.

On the task bar, these appear as the folder names and little flyout double arrows which, when you click on them, pop up a list of all the contained shortcuts.

I apologize if this was obvious to someone else, I’ve never really needed to do this before and it isn’t as immediately obvious as it could be if Microsoft wanted this to be more user friendly.

I have 28 shortcuts combining what I usually have for work stuff (there are a few more for working from home use), games and miscellaneous crap.

I am so smrt.

Upgrades Are In With Only Slight Pain…

The hardware items I ordered arrived yesterday which I gleefully opened while wandering downstairs to the computers. The wife waved good bye to me for the rest of the evening. I don’t even think she called me for supper, I’m pretty sure I heard her calling the boys though.

Operation Alzheimer:

I had picked up four sticks of Corsair DDR2 at 800mhz RAM at 2gb per stick for my PC (running Windows 7 64-bit). Unfortunately that was the best my motherboard would support and they replaced four sticks of OCZ Platinum DDR2 at 800mhz at 1gb per stick. That means I went from 4gb of RAM to 8gb and I believe the timings on the Corsair RAM were actually better.

I had no problems doing this at all.

Operation Cataract:

My old computer, about five years old, was intermittently shutting down while my son was playing various games. I adjusted the video drivers (they were using 32-bit Win7 default drivers) and next time he had an issue the driver caught that the card was overheating so it throttled things back. No system crash happened however there was clearly an issue with the fan on the card (I checked temperature inside the system and it was fine) so I figured I’d order another one.

The problem was that the motherboard on that system only supports AGP. Fortunately, some decent AGP cards are still being made so I ordered a PowerColor ATI HD 4670 AGP card – it has 1gb of DDR3 memory on it and it might actually be a little better than my main system’s 3870 HD card.

I love that my cases are easy to open (Antec) so I popped it open and right away I noticed a sticker on the video card was peeling off. Not good. I attempt to remove the card and it’s being quite resistant so I removed the panels in the back that were next to it since it looking like it was overlapping. Still tough to remove. Double checked that the clip was up and it was.

I’ll admit, at this point I was really tempted to give it a good yank which might damage the motherboard. If that happened, I’d pass down my current machine and simply need to get a whole new system. As appealing as that was to me, I’m sure the wife wouldn’t have been pleased with that idea.

I wiggled it a bit more and eventually got it out. The other card popped in just fine so I screwed it in and added all the other panels in.

Hardware installed successfully.

Software not so easy.

The drivers on the CD were only for XP and Vista. I hoped Vista drivers would work for Win7  but they didn’t. So I had to flush those. I went to the ATI site and grabbed the latest set of Catalyst drivers, a set for 4000 series cards (just in case) and I noticed an AGP hotfix set which I grabbed as well.

None of them worked. Win7 defaulted to a VGA Display Adapter.

I uninstalled all those and hit up the PowerColor site for drivers. It had some there which looked to be newer than the ones on the CD so I grabbed those and installed.

Success!

I fire up WoW (which had the odd crash if I was running at higher settings) and cranked up the settings. Gave it a quick tool around and it was really smooth. I logged off and let my oldest know the new card was in and ready to go.

He didn’t touch the computer at all, the little bugger. On the other hand he was reading French with his Grandmother and reading some other books with his Mother so… I was free to play WoW alone.

This morning he ran downstairs and fired up WoW. He was pretty excited that it looked better and was smooth. He said his guy used to walk funny and showed me sort of stutter stepping but now it was good. I don’t know if he’s clued in that The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, Battlefield2 and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare will now play and look better too. Which reminds me I need to fire those up and adjust his settings for them.

I think I need to update my own video card now…

Little Big Deathknight…

Originally I had planned to wait until my son go to 68 before getting him the WotLK expansion and this weekend he made decent progress getting his Paladin up to level 63 (gained two levels) so I gave in and bought the expansion for him.

I enabled it for his account then started the downloader. And then canceled it.

Duh.

I could just copy my WoW dir over top his and it would be faster, right?

Right.

And it was.

It was incredibly fast, I couldn’t believe it.

I’m using Homegroups in Windows 7 for both PCs. His WoW dir is shared on the home group so I dragged and dropped my WoW folder onto his and accepted all the prompts to overwrite. The file transfer dialog popped up with the thermometer and an estimated time of 5 hours.

Eeep.

It then flashed for a couple of minutes and was done.

Wow.

I know Microsoft’s estimations of time where bad to start, but that clearly wasn’t 5 hours. I double checked the time to make sure I didn’t black out or something. Nope, it really did only take a couple of minutes to move 12 GB over to his machine.

Now from a technical prespective, this just isn’t possible given the hardware involved. My system that is over five years old couldn’t possibly write that much data that quickly. Here’s what I’m thinking. I’m guessing it did a bunch of CRCs per file to determine whether it really had to move them or not and if so it did making the process go much faster.

Skeptical, I fired up WoW on my son’s PC and sure enough, the DK option was enabled. It worked.

Incredible.

He then set about playing through the starter area with my help in some areas and now he has a level 59 Human Deathknight on Rexxar. I don’t think he’s even going to look back at the Paladin… which is a shame because I sort of twinked him out. Although when I said he’d have to send money from his Paladin to his Deathknight so his Deathknight could get a flying mount he told me, “No daddy, that money is for buying a motorcycle!”

He just loves those mechanohogs.