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Windows 7? When is it a good time?

August 19, 2009 Leave a comment

I was reading an article today and it was talking about the “right timing” to upgrade to Windows 7 (a topic which I mentioned briefly in my earlier post).

The author/expert on this topic covered several points and I’ll share the “glaring” ones that I remember.

Firstly, do the right thing and that is – when you buy a new laptop/PC, during this period of time, and if it comes with Vista, make sure that you also get a coupon that allows you the option to upgrade free of charge to Windows 7 (so you know that option is available for you at a later date, should you choose to do so).

Secondly, Windows 7 is built on the Vista platform so be prepared for it to be as “resource intensive” as Vista and based on what I’ve been reading, the experts are now recommending a minimum of 2GB memory to run Windows 7 at an acceptable level.

Despite the doomsday predictions and the currently lukewarm (if not cold) response from corporations holding off ANY plans to upgrade to Windows 7, the security experts openly acknowledge that Vista has indeed addressed many security issues that had so infamously plague the Windows OSes before. So thumbs up to the folks at Windows. Give credit where its due. 🙂

If you are on Windows XP, do note that currently there is no known straightforward way to upgrade from Windows XP directly to Windows 7 (but probably some smart person out there will come up with something sooner or later). But for now, it can only be done one of two ways: 
1) A clean install (so back up your data if you still want to keep them) or
2) A 2-throng approach. First upgrade from XP to Vista and then do another upgrade from Vista to Windows 7. 

Regardless, its important to be able to do this at one’s own pace instead of being “forced” to upgrade (which could happen if you hold off doing anything until its “way too late in the game”). So for those willing or even excited about Windows 7 and want to start doing some homework in terms of assessing whether your current machine will be able to run Windows 7 adequately, you can choose to download a Compatibility Test from Windows or from an independent 3rd party.

As Randall C.Kennedy from InfoWorld so amply put it: “You simply cannot count on Microsoft to provide an honest assessment of Windows system requirements. And as the “Vista Ready” experience has shown us, Microsoft’s vendor partners are no better.”
Read Randall C. Kennedy’s article here.

So I decided to use the one from InfoWorld  to get my “neutral” opinion on it. 🙂 Well, ….actually I already know that my computer will be compatible but I just wanted to try out the tool from InfoWorld  🙂 )
 
So here is a log of it.

  1. Sign up for a Windows Sentinel Account at InfoWorld
  2. Download and install the Windows Sentinel (also known as DMS Clarity Tracker Agent 6.08) from InfoWorld OR you can find it here.
  3. Download and install the Adobe Air Reader 1.5.2  here. (15.1MB)
  4. Download and install the Desktop Widgets from InfoWorld which gives you 5 tools as follows.
    1. Your Overall Performance
    2. Your Process Performance
    3. Your Network Performance
    4. Your Performance Alerts
    5. Your Compatibility Alerts.

Note 1: You need to do Step 3 before Step 4 as you’ll need Adobe Air Reader to help you install the desktop widgets.
Note 2: You can repeat Step 2 for up to 3 windows-based PC because up to 3 systems can be monitored per user account.
Note 3: When you install the DMS Clarity Tracker Agent, you’ll be asked to configure it. Simply fill in the customer ID that you obtained from InfoWorld or exo.performance.network
indicated in screenshot below. (I just left the proxy stuff blank)

configure

After approximately one hour – and roughly once each hour after that – the Tracker Agent will upload the data it has collected to the repository site at which time it will become available to the widget. You’ll know that the data has arrived when you see the tracked system’s NetBIOS Machine Name appear in the drop-down list on the Settings pane (refresh the widget page to update this list).

results

P/s: I struggled getting the results for quite some time as the widget wasn’t loading up properly. After a while, I finally realized that I needed to input my email address into the red colour box indicated above before I could get the results. AHHHH!!! Finally. 🙂

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Getting Vista and XP to talk to each other…..Network and Sharing Center, Network Maps and LLTD

August 18, 2009 1 comment

Though I live in a small shoebox apartment, I am a very lazy person when it comes to walking from computer to computer to get access to a file/application. That’s why its important for me to get my XP and Vista machine to talk to each other. Over the last weekend, I got acquainted with Vista’s new program called Network and Sharing Center. Here’s a log of it: 

To fire up the Network and Sharing Center, proceed to the omnipotent Control Panel. Once you found it,  the screenshot below will show you what it looks like. If you click the option “View full map” on the right hand corner of the diagram, you will get into the network map which provides you with a bird’s eye view of your network and all the machines hooked up to it in a graphical manner. Hover your mouse over any machine and you will get crucial information such as IPv4, IPv6 or MAC addresses. Nifty! 


Sounds easy but if life is ever that straightforward we would all be billionaires by now!!???

When I first started using this program, I was dismayed to find that Vista DID NOT pick up my windows XP machines. It was however able to pick up my QNAP TNAS. Hmm…what’s up about that?!? After some research on the net, I found out that its a common problem and there are many articles online whichly clearly explain what needs to get done to be able to allow network map to work properly. The main reason for that, I would summarize is that network map uses a protocol called Link Layer Topology Discovery (LLTD) and Windows XP doesn’t come installed with it by default. 

So here is what you need to do to get Vista and XP to talk to each other:

1) Download the Link Layer Topology Discovery (LLTD) Responder for Windows XP.
Note: Depending on which service pack (or no service pack), your XP machine has installed, you will need to download different versions of the LLTD responder so beware!
You can get it if you are on Service Pack 2 here.
For Service Pack 3, you will have to download the hotfix here.
2) Ensure that LLTD Responder is installed correctly by doing the following: 
a) Start -> Control Panel -> Network Connections. Click Local Area Network Connection and then Properties. View the items and ensure that LLTD responder check box is ticked.
3) Configure the XP Firewall to allow LLTD (exceptions tab)

Note: By the way, if you haven’t put XP and Vista on the same domain, you should probably get that done. If you haven’t done anything to the domain setting, by default, Windows XP is on MSHOME and Windows Vista is on Workgroup. 🙂

At some point in time, you may have needed to restart your XP machine to make sure the installation for LLTD responder was set up correctly. When all that is done, hit <F5> on the vista machine to refresh the network map and you should see XP and Vista machines right where they should be.

I’ve included a screenshot of my network map showing up correctly. (For security reasons, I’m blanking out my Aspire MAC address. Ah…I’m so paranoid)

More on LLTD in the next few post.

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Fixing Master Boot Record (after deleting Ubuntu)

August 15, 2009 Leave a comment

Yes. Its true. I’ve decided to wipe clean Ubuntu 7.0.4 from my Acer Aspire 4920. But before anyone gets into a frenzy about it, NO FRET, I fully intend to install the latest version of Ubuntu 9.0.4 (if that is still the latest version when I get down to do it, that is 🙂 ).

Actually, deleting Ubuntu was pretty straight forward for me. My set up is a dual boot between Windows XP and Ubuntu on my laptop Aspire 4920. So I simply activated Computer Managment MMC, used Disk Management to delete and format the partition that Ubuntu was on. To access Computer Management MMC, simply do the follow
Go to Start->Run and type in this command compmgmt.msc

Next step, fix the Master Boot Record which has been altered by Grub.
The good news is that I had previously configured my Aspire 4920 to default boot up in Windows XP,  so that meant I can just ignore the GRUB screen as long as I don’t activate Ubuntu. But hell, what’s the fun in that!!

I searched online for some help and found 2 solutions. Only one worked for me but I’m going to share both here.

1) The popular online solution (which didn’t work for me)
First you need to have a Windows XP CD. Insert it in the CD-Rom, boot from the CD and select “R” Recovery console. There is an option that allows you to FixMBR.
For more information, refer to: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/307654
Well, the reason why this solution didn’t work for me was because when I got into recovery console, the damn machine told me that it could not detect my hard drive. I did some research on the net and the alternative is use the Repair installation option but of course they always tell you to BACK UP BEFORE YOU DO IT. So that means I run the risk of losing some important files, hmmm….don’t like that option. No worries, refer to option 2.

2) Also an easy solution (which worked for me)
First, Install a free tool called MBRFix, you can find it here:
http://download.cnet.com/MbrFix/3000-2094_4-10485990.html
Very good tool. The guy who wrote it and sharing it is a life saver. Boot the exe file from command prompt and you will be faced with several options: 13 to be exact.
For more information on command option, refer to this page:
http://www.softpedia.com/get/System/Hard-Disk-Utils/MBRFix.shtml

I chose 2 options, master yoda and fixed the problem. 🙂

a) MbrFix /drive listpartitions -> This command displays partition information
Note: Replace drive with your actual drive number. So for me, I typed as:
MbrFix /0 listpartitions

b)MbrFix /drive fixmbr -> Update MBR code to W2K/XP/2003 or Vista
(or alternatively you can use the restorembr option).
MbrFix /0 fixmbr

Viola! Windows XP boots up like a charm.

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