Hans VB's WebLog - For FREE!!!

About me (Hans Verbeeck). About my work (Partner Evangelist for Microsoft Belgium). Think big, start smal
Der deutsche Education Blog

February, 2008

  • Hans VB's WebLog - For FREE!!!

    Step 1: Upgrading a Dell Dimension 8300 to Vista


    As I explained in my email earlier today, I'm upgrading my home infrastructure to create a safer place for my digital memories. My first step has been to rebuild my home desktop PC.


    I was using an HP Pavillion before and I also had a Dell Dimension 8300. There are a number of reasons I chose the Dell to take forward even though the processor is a bit slower than the HP's. The main reason is that the Dell Dimension really has a beautiful spacious case. It is so easy to add/remove hardware components from this box that folds open like a book. I'll never buy a small cases system for my home again.

    So I scavenged the HP and put all the memory and the hard disk into the desktop giving me these hardware specifications:

    - Intel Pentium 4 - 2.4Ghz

    - 2GB RAM

    - Primary HD: 120Gb - 7200RPM

    - Radeon 9800 Pro Graphics card

    At the time it was a very decent configuration. But even though I work at Microsoft, I was still a bit nervous installing Vista Ultimate on the machine. Would the performance be OK?

    Now I have it up and running, I can say it works beautifully! Here's the performance Index:

    performance index

    As you can see, the 3.5 score is due to the processor speed. All else is way above that and provides a nice and snappy experience.

    I'm glad the Dell had the nice graphics card in it. That makes a big difference. In fact this card supports dual monitors so I have now have one connected via DVI and one via VGA.

    Here are some of the special things I experienced while upgrading, configuring and using my Vista at home.

    1. I have issues with my Vista Boot Manager.
      I first tried to upgrade my machine to XP Media Center. Now I still have two entries in my boot menu
      - Windows Vista Ultimate
      - Upgrade to Windows XP professional (or something like that)

      I tried to remove that second (and apparently default entry) from the boot.ini file but Vista apparently does not have a boot.ini file.

      You need to use a command line tool (bcdedit) to change the boot database. But I think there is a bug since that tool doesn't show the Windows XP entry at all.

      A tip I want to give you is to avoid using the bcdedit tool unless you are a specialist. There are some great free tools. VistaBootPro and EasyBCD
    2. The one driver that Vista didn't find was the driver for the sound card. I just unpacked all the XP drivers for the Dell Dimension 8300 sound card in a temp folder (you can find them here). Then I let Vista search for a device driver in this temp folder and that fixed it.
      It shows the sound card as a SoundMax Integrated driver.
    3. I now have dual monitors. This is fantastic but a little challenging when using Media Center with it. The issue is that when you put your media center on the second screen, it locks up your mouse pointer so you can no longer go to the primary screen.
      The only trick I found is to press the Windows key while you are in the media center application and then you can move the cursor out to the other screen.

    As I said before, the system works fine now and I get really good performance on hardware that's a couple of years old. I'm positively surprised. Now I can start thinking about my strategy regarding storing pictures safely...

  • Hans VB's WebLog - For FREE!!!

    Finding a safe place for my digital fotos


    I always thought that hard disk crashes were happening to people who were rough on their hardware. I never experienced a hard disk crash since I started to work with PC's. Until half a year ago, that is. Since then I had 2 HD's crash on me.

    The first one was the most serious. Because I'm terrible at backing up my systems, I lost all my pictures between July 06 and October 06. I don't care so much about email and other data.

    That still didn't teach me a lesson. I just had my external Western Digital 500GB MyBook crash. Fortunately after a night of letting it sleep in the fridge I could recover the file using FileScavenger.

    So now I'm going to deal with this seriously! I don't want to loose my families' digital memories.

    I'm tackling this issue like this:

    1. Rebuilding my home desktop machine (Dell Dimension 8300) with Vista

    2. Figuring out a strategy to keep all my families' pictures in one folder (possibly with subfolders)

    3. Uploading everything to my Flickr Pro account using 'some' tool

    4. Installing a Windows Home Server for back ups


    I'm hoping that redundany at home and over the web will create a truely safe home for our digital memories.

    I'm about ready to blog about the first step...

  • Hans VB's WebLog - For FREE!!!

    Microsoft - Yahoo! - Google


    I was thrilled to hear Microsoft is hoping to aquire Yahoo! I've been a fan of Yahoo! ever since I've been using the internet. I would love to know when I first created My Yahoo page. Recently I've also become a paying subscriber of Flickr which works really well in combination with Windows Live Photo Gallery.

    So I was not dissappointed when I found out that Microsoft wasn't going to distribute the 44.6 billion dollars amongst its 79 000 employees ;-) I was really happy!

    Then of course came the analysis of the deal. Although the usual suspects delivered on the expectation and painted a gloomy picture, I read mostly positive reactions.

    The one critical reaction that was expected but I disliked most was that of David Drummond (SVP Google). Of course Google crossing their fingers that somewhere this deal will be blocked. But using a blog for this and standing up as the defender of the free web is completely overdoing it in my opinion. In such cases, I prefer senior execs not to blog at all.

    It's clear that the online ad market Google dominates, is one of scale. For sure, they wish they had many smaller competitors but is that what's really best for competition in this space? I'll leave to the real industry watchers to fight it out but I found the blog post way too cheesy. A press release would have been just right. Just like Microsoft's General Councel Brad Smith did.

    In the meantime I love to see the speculation on a name change in case the deal goes through. Although I don't expect a name change, I would love to see the Yahoo! brand stay alive for all internet services and then why not a change to ...


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