Acer Aspire 5570Z vs Vista SP1

The first attempt failed two days ago without error messages or explanation. The Windows Vista SP 1 upgrade went fine all the way through Step 3 100%. Then reverted. Armed with the knowledge that the display driver is incompatible with Vista SP1, I updated the display driver successfully and made another attempt. Now after Step 3 100% it complains that the “installation was not successful” “Windows Service Pack 1 was not installed on your computer. Error code 0X800F0826. See http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=101139 for details. Ok. At least we get an error message this time. The error box links through to: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/947366 – Error message when you try to install Vista SP1 “Installation was not successful” or “An internal error occurred …” and gives some recommendations: 1. Restart and try again. Really? 2. Check your hard drives for errors. 3. Run system file checker tool. Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files and was unable to repair some of them. Details are included in the CBS.Log – C:\Windows\Logs\CBS\CBS.log Not bad, if it weren’t that the file is 148626 lines long. 4. Run Vista Memory Diagnostic tool. Error: “Windows cannot check for memory problems” – ” A Problem is preventing Windows from checking for memory problems during startup. Try to check for problems again by running the tool manually. ” Isn’t life great. Another useless MS error box. 5. Restart and close any applications that may be running. Another attempt, despite the corrupt files and memory problems (which never have been diagnosed nor an issue before) did result in the same problem. Interestingly there is a Windows Update error 800f0826 Windows Help article: http://windowshelp.microsoft.com/Windows/en-US/Help/2d96561c-0a7a-492a-b48f-8317cf4f1fde1033.mspx suggesting to look at the update history and trying to resolve the individual update error(s).

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Toshiba Satellite U305 vs Windows Vista SP1 catch 22

The first time I tried the installation, using the standalone downloadable installer, it went all the way through to step 2. Then crashed upon reboot with a blue screen of death (BSOD), was unable to repair the startup problem, but was finally able to do a system restore. My two conversations with Toshiba Technical Support were of no help in identifying the problem I experienced, other than that in the mean time I figured it out on my own. Or, I should say, at least figured out one part of the equasion, namely that the display driver on this machine is not Windows Vista SP1 compatible. The Intel 965 Express driver on the Toshiba Satellite U305-S2804 is v 7.14.10.1329. This versions fits right into the beginning of the range 7.14.10.1322 and 7.14.10.1403 that is incompatible according to Microsoft (http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=948343). But, there has to be a newer driver out, right? Using the “Update driver” feature within the device driver window, Vista kindly alerts me that my driver is up to date. Of course this is not surprising me when in the mean time I already looked up that Intel has released several newer versions and is currently at v 7.14.10.1437 (http://www.intel.com/support/graphics/intelgm965/#anchor1) A quick download later, the Intel driver installation alerts me that this driver is not certified for my machine and that I should download the latest version from the manufacturer. Mmmm. Back at Toshiba there is nary a download for the U305. Through a chipset search I find that the latest driver predates my machine’s purchase and matches v 7.14.10.1329. So, no SP1 love right now for this Toshiba notebook. And, of course I have to be the first and only one at this point in time who can’t install SP1 on this particular machine. What are the odds? Update: Toshiba is bumping me to level 3 tech support, advanced engineering since it is a driver/firmware issue and their department will be giving me a call back in the beginning of next week.

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Vista SP1 – Installation Issues and Incompatibilities – Check your drivers

Microsoft is giving me, and countless other people headaches with the Vista Service Pack 1 update. Luckily I haven’t had an inoperable operating system yet, and right now, my personal install score is: 2 failures – 1 success. Since I have a near factory fresh Toshiba laptop on my desk which experienced that BSOD, I gave them a call to see what’s up as their site didn’t tell me anything about Vista issues. I received some bad advice and feel sorry for people that may follow it blindly. No surprise really, and many manufacturer’s may unfortunately say the same thing. Toshiba’s Level 1 advice: a) a program you installed is incompatible, do a factory restore then try again. Sorry, this machine only has an additional browser or two and a card game. b) something you installed caused a driver issue, do a factory install and try again. Sorry, I did not update any drivers and the factory restore for that matter would be useless, it would just set the device drivers back to where they are now. c) call MS. Oh right, who will say call Toshiba. Toshiba’s level 2 advice d) download the standalone installer, don’t go through update. Fair. I prefer to work that way anyhow. Unfortunately that was the method I used the other night. e) there are no known issues between SP1 and Toshiba notebooks. All are Toshiba notebooks are Vista SP 1 compatible. No upgrades or downgrades of drivers are required. Red alert! While I was on hold, a little light bulb had flipped on in the back of my head. Clearly my BSOD was some driver issue (didn’t catch the name, it rebooted on me the second I noticed it from the corner of my eye) and the reason of my call to Toshiba. Microsoft didn’t give any install notes about hardware incompatibilities, driver issues and I didn’t find it upon a first quick search. Anyhow.

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Vista Service Pack did not install. Times 2.

One of the two notebooks (dual core, vista home premium pre-installed) I use prompted that Vista SP1 was available as an automatic update. I figured why not, since this is the official release from 2 days ago. Speedy download. Installation goes pretty swiftly. Step 1, step 2 and step 3: 100%. Sweet. Reboot. And then this: Excuse me? It just did 100% on all three steps, taking its sweet little time overal, and then it says it couldn’t do it? So what exactly happened during all the installation steps? If it checks something that critical at the very end, how about doing that little hardware and software check (or whatever it is) at the very beginning of the update process? And, where can I trace the cause of the problem? I did not see any error information? Nor suggestions? Fortunately this botched update did not ruin the machine. Everything still looks the same and essential applications work. Small sigh of relief. And, now of course Vista SP1 is ready to be installed again. Funny. On a second Vista notebook the SP so far refuses to show up. Haven’t tried any other machines yet, but something tells me I will exercise some patience. There are plenty of similar stories on the web already too. Anyhow, you have to love Microsoft, right? Update: I am too curious what the failure rate will be so I am already trying it on another machine. This one is a year younger, pretty much ‘stock’ (or factory default) and faster. We’ll see. Update 2: Absolutely fabulous. 25 minutes into the installation. Step 2 is completed. System reboots. A blue screen of death. My system is unable to start. Windows Startup Repair can’t repair the problem. System restore … attempting … Update 3: Fortunately I landed back on my desktop after some very long 15 minutes. My conclusion, with two failures and especially after that Blue Screen Of Death, is that this Service Pack 1 for Vista is not ready for prime time. Two solid and fast machines, less than a year old, from mainstream manufacturers and neither can be updated? I recommend others to just wait. Maybe once you hear on the web from somebody who has the same machine and updated his/her’s fine; you can be confident it will work. To me it is not worth the 40 min hassle nor risking data and possibly having to reinstall the machine. I have read some reports where it took several hours to both install and revert SP1. I can’t imagine sitting through that worrying if the machine will boot.

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8 years in the US. Some reflections.

This weeks marks the 8th anniversary of moving to the US. It certainly makes you reflect on how fast time flies. I remember living and working in Belgium like it was 3 years ago. How could it be 8 years already? Rather than writing a long story, I figured I could do a quick Question & Answer round of frequently asked questions: Happy? Yes. Any regrets? No. Not really. You hate leaving a void with your closest family and friends, especially when some are going through a hard time. But as a whole, do I regret moving to the US? No. How are things with you and Carolyn? Things are good. We are very happy together and are both doing well. We are in a good place and good situation. Is living there how you thought it would be? Yes & No. Yes, because I knew it a little bit from traveling here. At the same time, we are living quite differently than we had originally planned. We have not settled down yet. We have been pretty mobile and plan to stay that way. We live in two places, so there are some practical long distance issues, as you can imagine. Business is different than we had planned, but we are doing good. We will see what the future brings. Are you a US citizen now? No. Not yet. Do you miss Belgium? Sometimes. I haven’t been there in several years, so one automatically misses friends & family. From time to time we catch a travel show on TV highlighting Belgium or places we have visited. It brings back memories and makes you want to pop in to say hi and refresh your memory of what it is really like to be there. When are you coming to Belgium/Europe again? Not in the near future. Have you seen the Euro/Dollar rate lately? 1.55 USD for 1 EURO is a 50% tax for Americans to come to the EU. I can’t imagine paying 50% extra for fuel, hotels, … Maybe you guys can swing this way? It is a bargain at 50% off. What’s the biggest thing that is different about you now? Doing construction work. I thought I would be doing purely computer stuff and clerical work. I didn’t think I was cut out for construction work, but it turns out I am. And, I owe it all to a little encouragement from Carolyn with the first few little projects. We were unhappy with the cost and results of a couple things we hired done at our first home and I figured I could do a lot better for less cost. Apply some brain power. Analyze it, come up with a strategy and go for it. And the second thing? Smarter & braver. I can for instance jump in the car and drive anywhere in the US with minimal notice & minor to no preparations. Initially the US it is kind of intimidating because being from Flanders you think small….

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The geotag icon is born

http://www.geotagicons.com launched today. In large part due to google maps & google earth and a variety of other initiatives; as well as people having easier access to GPS devices; photos and information in general are more and more being published with their geographical coordinates. So, it was only time that somebody would think about a standardized visual reference for that information. Bruce McKenzie announced the idea on his blog last week. What started with a white push pin silhouette icon on an earth tone background, quickly evolved based on feedback from around the world. Inclusion of a representation of the globe, more red for better contrast, bigger pin, 45 degree angle, etc. Of course while keeping the button style of the RSS icons and others. I am very satisfied by the result which truly is a mix of ideas from different people and technical restrictions. There are two main reasons for the icon’s simple form. It has to be iconic for easy recognition and it has scale properly to different sizes. Fancy designs are great, but at the smallest scale of 16 by 16 pixels there is no room for any of the details you drew at 256 by 256 or 512 by 512 pixels. Many great ideas, shapes, sizes and colors were rejected simply due to their representation at 16 x 16 pixels. Again, I am pleased with the outcome and very happy to have been part of the process. It was interesting, busy and fun.

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Icerabbit for your ears via finetune

As a teen I loved to listen to music and make mix tapes for personal use in the Walkman, car, etc. I really don’t know what I would have done or what would have become of me if I had a computer and mp3s back then! I did not become a DJ and life went on. Since starting a homepage, back in ’96, I have thought it would be neat to have a little radio section on the website. Of course bandwith was a huge obstacle back then. Nowadays, regardless of the mechanism, with an occasional click through, bandwith use would be relatively limited. But, then there are the DCMA and copyright royalties, which dampen your enthusiasm pretty quickly, if you want to keep it legal. Enter finetune.com C told me about it several months ago and I thought it would be the ideal solution to share a music and playlists through the website / blog. No cost, no DCMA, no royalties, … Select a minimum of 45 songs, maximum 3 per artist (to comply with internet radio restrictions and avoid on demand listening) and you’re ready to share your playlist with friends and family. So, here is my first finetune playlist which can also be found on my user page icerabbit on finetune. (I did embed the player here, but wordpress.com strips it out) It is a broad mix of songs and instrumental work that energizes, inspires or relaxes me, with a few odd ones thrown in for fun. With some extra time I will split it up into three mixes and feature them permanently in the sidebar of the redesigned blog. Enjoy :)

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2 days 60F difference

The good thing about going to Florida for two weeks mid-winter is that you get to spend some time in a warmer climate, relax, sun & surf. The bad thing about going to Florida for two weeks mid-winter is that you can come back to 15F with 25mph winds (think 0F wind chill) and more than a foot of snow & ice covering everything. Reality can be cold and white.

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Scared by the DTV 2009 switch ad?

The National Association of Broadcasters’ (NAB) video spot about the switch to DTV on February 19, 2009 is big on scare “Your TVs may go dark” & “You may need an upgrade” but short on info.It certainly made me pause. We don’t have digital cable and have several TVs that predate the mandated digital tuner generation (which started less than a year ago). So, that could mean increasing our cable subscription services and adding extra boxes ($$$). Or digital-to-analog converter boxes ($$) with the added box & controller inconvenience. Or going satellite, which also has its boxes.What service(s) does DTV affect?The little known detail among consumers is that the DTV switch ONLY affects Over The Air television reception a.k.a. OTA.http://dtvanswers.com/dtv_what.html — ” Digital television (DTV) is an innovative new type of over-the-air broadcasting technology “http://dtv.gov/whatisdtv.html — Analog TVs ” … will require a converter box after February 17, 2009, to receive over-the-air broadcasts with an antenna because of the Nation’s transition to digital broadcasting. Analog-only TVs should continue to work as before with cable and satellite TV services … “Why couldn’t the NAB ad just point that out the antenna part?If you have rabbit ears ;) or antenna, please pay attention. All others, relax. The analog cable signal is not changing.Don’t paint a broad picture about “digital tv” that confuses people with “digital tv subscriptions” and scares a whole generation of older people that they’re going to have to shell out a lot of money for new televisions and subscribe to cable or satellite. Maybe that is actually the hidden plot behind the scene? Scare people into a paid service, sell bunches of new gear and sell the analog spectrum. Win-win-win.A call to our local cable provider (Time Warner, formerly Adelphia) confirmed that there will no change in analog cable service due to the DTV switch.Converter box coupon. If your TV does not have a digital tuner and you have any type of analog antenna on your roof or TV set, you can convert the analog signal to digital and the government is subsidizing the converters.There is an application form at https://www.dtv2009.gov/ to subsidize up to two analog to digital cable converter boxes per family.Note that the coupons have an expiration date. They are only valid for three months, so you may want to wait a little bit.They have a pretty detailed FAQ at https://www.dtv2009.gov/FAQ.aspxI will personally wait till more products with more features are on the market and they start to compete price-wise and feature wise. ( I will get one converter for emergency broadcast reception when cable and power is out. )Which DTV / HDTV antenna can I use? What signal can I get over the air?You may only need a very compact indoor antenna to receive a couple signal in an urban setting. But if rabbit ears don’t work now, I doubt a digital capable equivalent will yield any results. How can you know what is out there before buying an antenna?Should you or a family member…

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