Posts filed under ‘Windows’

Installing Windows 8 Release Preview on a Dell Inspiron e1505

This is an update to the previous post. I have updated the laptop with release preview.

Laptop Specification and Challenges

Name Dell Inspiron e1505 / 6400
CPU Core Duo T2500 1.7 Ghz
RAM 2 Gb
Screen 1280 x 800
Video ATI Mobility Radeon X1300
Optical Drive DVD+-RW
Ethernet Broadcom 440x 10/100 Ethernet
Wireless Broadcom Corporation BCM4311 802.11b/g
Bluetooth Dell 350 Bluetooth
Modem Conexant 56K Modem
Card Reader Ricoh R5C822 SD/SDIO/MMC/MS/MSPro Card Reader
Other Connectors ExpressCard Slot, USB and 1394a Firewire

The Dell Inspiron e1505 (also call Dell Inspiron 6400) is really not all that old. It uses a Core Duo, a predecessor of the Core2 Duo. The CPU is more than fast  enough for everyday use. The CPU however is 32-bit and will not run 64-bit windows. I believe there are later versions of Dell e1505 with 64-bit Core2 Duo processors.

The challenge to installing Window 8 is that the machine is not even Windows 7 Certified. Dell does not support running Windows 7 on it. It is however Vista Certified so we at least have Vista drivers.

Despite not being Windows 7 certified, Dell e1505 worked mostly out of the box for Windows 7 except for the video card, the card reader and bluetooth. Since Windows 8’s internal are similar to Windows 7, this would be a good indication of what windows 8 would be like.

Installation Experience

I downloaded Windows 8 release Preview and burned it to a DVD. I swapped out the laptop’s hard disk with a blank hard disk. The installation was fairly uneventful.

  1. Install blank hard disk into the laptop.
  2. Insert Windows 8 Release Preview into the laptop and press the on button. Immediately press F12 to go to the boot menu. Select boot from DVD and when prompted on screen, press any key to boot from the DVD.
  3. Follow the instruction and install Windows 8 using the default options. What was a surprise is that by default Windows 8 by default partition the drive into two partition, reserving a small 350 Mb partition for what appears to be for recovery. The instruction also prompts you for a Windows Live ID so it can integrate your login with a windows live ID account, but a windows live ID is not necessary to continue.

The OS boots into the new Metro interface. However, when I examined the screen closely, the screen appear to be running at 1024×768 instead of the usual 1280×800 and there are some devices missing.

Component Description Status Notes
CPU Core Duo T2500 1.7 Ghz Working
RAM 2 Gb Working
Video ATI Mobility Radeon X1300 Not working Video card not detected. Using basic VGA
Optical Drive DVD+-RW Working
Ethernet Broadcom 440x 10/100 Ethernet Working
Wireless Broadcom Corporation BCM4311 802.11b/g Working
Bluetooth Dell 350 Bluetooth Working
Modem Conexant 56K Modem Working
Card Reader Ricoh R5C822 SD/SDIO/MMC/MS/MSPro Card Reader Sort of working SDHC card can be read, but device manager shows problems
Other Connectors ExpressCard Slot, USB and 1394a Firewire Working I was only able to test the USB, but device manager does not show errors. I assume that they are working.

Basically, everything appears to work except for the video and the card reader. Actually, the card reader appears to be working too but the device manager shows 2 “base system device” as not working.

Fixing the Video Card

Dell does not provide any Windows 7 drivers for the x1300 card. Windows 7 does have a x1300 in their windows update, but forum posts indicated that that version has a bug where the video driver will crash after resuming from hibernation (I believe they are using version  8.561.0.0 ). Based on the post, I should be using the drivers provided by AMD.

The lastest AMD driver for the card is AMD Catalyst 10.2 legacy display driver, but it appears to be available only for Vista. The Catalyst installer will not work on the Dell e1505 because  Catalyst won’t install on Dell laptops, but you have to run a tool call Mobility Modder to make the installer work. The instruction for modder instructs the user to download the driver and then run the modder on it to fix the configuration file and then run the modded installer. Rather than messing around with this, I notice that Donotargue.com has already created a modded version of the driver. You can download that driver here. Make sure you download the 32-bit version and not the 64-bit version.

The drivers are Vista 32-bit drivers and won’t install normally. You have to run them as Vista drivers by doing the following:

  1. Go to control panel and select “Turn Windows Features On and Off”.  Make sure that the checkbox for the “Microsoft .Net Framework 3.5.1″ and all of the checkbox underneath is checked. This will enable and install .Net for Windows 8. Failure to do this step will result in “MOM.implementation or CLI.implementation” error when you open  Catalyst.
  2. Right-click on the Installer setup application and select Troubleshoot compatibility.
  3. After it runs through the compatibility detection, select “Troubleshoot program”.
  4. On the screen “What problem do you notice”, check to make sure that the option for earlier version for windows is checked. Press the next button.
  5. On the screen “Which version of windows”, select Window Vista and press Next.
  6. On the screen “Test compatibility”, press the Start the Program button. Press Yes when you get a UAC prompt.
  7. Now follow the instruction to install. I used the option for express install.

The installer appears to crash at the end of installation, resulting in a blank screen. However, when I rebooted the machine, the screen was now in 1280×800. The device manager correctly identified the display adapter as “ATI MOBILITY RADEON X1300″ with a version of 8.593.100.0 and indicate that it’s working correctly. I attempted to play some youtube video at 720p and it displayed properly. Running 3dmark05 displayed a score of around 1027, which sound about right. Resume from hibernation appears to work, as does the Catalyst Control Panel.

Fixing the Card Reader

Windows 8 does intall a SDA Host Adapter and when I plug in a SD card, it appears to work. However, the device manager still report that there are two base system device that are not working. Perhaps the built-in Windows 8 driver only enable SD card, and not other formats.

To fix this, I install the Ricoh driver from Dell, which you can download here.

Fixing the Synaptics Touchpad

Touchpad driver is not installed by default. You can download the driver from here.

Conclusion

Other than the video card, installation of Windows 8 on Dell Inspiron e1505 has been mostly trouble-free. The system seems to work properly most of the time, but sometimes lockup or behaves strangely. Since Windows 8 is beta, it’s hard to tell if the crashes are due to old video driver or due to the product being beta. In addition, this is no guarantee that the release version of Windows 8 will work with Dell Inspiron e1505, but based on what we know there’s a really good chance that it will.

June 24, 2012 at 11:59 am 3 comments

Cannot set the background of Windows XP, caused by Logmein

I help my mother out by using a product call Logmein to remote login to her machine. As long as the network is working, I can fix most of the problem she has at the other end. Recently, she encountered a problem that me stump for a long time. Apparently, her background picture on her PC disappeared. I login using Logmein to fix the problem but no matter which picture I select, it won’t appear as a background.

Normally, this sort of thing would be either a policy or registry issue. Since she is using XP Home, there are really no group policies. Playing around with Regedit, I was able to trace the cause down to the following registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer\NoActiveDesktop

The key was set to 1. I deleted the key and reboot. Much to my surprise, it recreated the key and set it back to 1. After hours of playing around, I discovered that this is caused by Logmein itself. At some point recently, Logmein updated with a new version and with that update changed a setting where the desktop background is turned off while I am logged into Logmein. The way it does this is to set NoActiveDesktop to 1 when logmein is on and set it back to zero when logmein client is disconnected. The machine must have crashed when I was using Logmein, causing the computer to be stuck in a picture-less state.

December 4, 2010 at 4:19 pm 2 comments

HP Solution Center failed to open

Recently, the HP Solution Center suddently stop working. When I launch HP SolutionCenter, nothing happens. In the error log, I see the errors:

Product: SolutionCenter -- Error 1904. 
Module C:\WINDOWS\system32\Macromed\Flash\Flash9b.ocx failed to register. 
HRESULT - 2147220473. Contact your support personnel.

What seems to have happened is the following:

  1. Adobe Flash is updated to version 10. This cause Flash9b.ocx to be deleted from C:\Windows\Flash
  2. HP Solution Center is apparently dependent on Flash9b.ocx, so it stopped working.

Here’s how I got rid of the error.

  1. Uninstall HP solution center because HP do not allow you to reinstall the HP Solution Center. Instead, we have to uninstall so we can install the HP Solution Center again.
  2. Reinstall HP Solution.

If you examine C:\Windows\System32\Macromed\flash, Flash9b.ocx is back even though we have Flash10.ocx. If you examine the event log, there is the same registration error again (you can’t register Flash9b.ocx because there is a later version), but HP solutions apparently works.

March 24, 2009 at 5:52 pm 7 comments

HP Photosmart C7280 Driver Install Tips

I have fond memory of HP printer products. I remember back in my undergrad years, I hooked up an HP Inkjet 500 that I shared with my 7 other housemates. That thing was a tank. Everyone was printing their paper on it and we probably was using way above its rated cycle, but it worked for years after we abused it. At work, we often encountered HP Laserjet, which were just as tough.

I don’t know about how good the HP hardware is these days, but the software could use some dieting. Isn’t 190 Mb a bit big for a driver? Did the programmers get paid by lines of code? What’s in that thing? A lot of bloatware apparently.  Here’s my tips on what to install:

  1. Download the Full Feature driver and not the Basic driver. If you install the basic driver, you’ll only have the ability to print. The scan and fax will not work. The driver is available at this location.
  2. Launch Driver.
  3. Click on Install.
  4. Press Next.
  5. Uncheck the Yahoo Toolbar and check the Advance Install. We don’t need the toolbar. Click Next.
  6. When prompted whether to automatically check for updates, click No and click next.
  7. On install options, select Custom Install. Click Next.
  8. On the Custom Installation screen, check only the following:HP Solution Center
    HP Imaging Functions
    OCR Software by I.R.I.S.
    Even if you don’t use the OCR software, you will want to install the OCR software. Without the OCR software, you will not be able to scan to PDF. If you already have Photoshop or something, why bother. HP update would be nice, but takes up memory and resource as a background task. HP do not seem to update their drivers often. Why not just manually check every once in a while. The Web Printing is interesting, but we could do without it. The other stuff is just bloatware.
  9. Prompt for EULA, click I agree (what else are you going to do, disagree and have no driver?)
  10. Click Next to use default location.
  11. Follow the instruction on screen and complete the installation.
  12. After installation, launch HP Solution Center.
  13. In HP Solution Center, click on settings.
  14. Click on Scan settings->Scan to… Setup.
  15. Wait for a long time for the front panel list to appear. Select each item you want to be able to select from the LCD panel. Each item you add will appear on the printer’s LCD panel when you select scan to computer on the printer. If you do not select any options, you will not be able to scan to your computer and you will get a message “No scan options”. In my case, I added all of the items.
  16. Once all of the items are added, press Update the Device.

At this point the driver should be installed and you have roughly the minimal software for the majority of features.

After installing the driver, make sure you install the Critical Update to Correct a PC to Printer Communication Issue if you are using the wireless connection. Without installing this driver, scan to computers often fail.

March 2, 2009 at 12:55 am 1 comment

HP Photosmart C7280 driver install fails with an error registering hpbmiapi.dll failed to register

Recently, my mom’s troublesome Brothers MFC-3360C All-In-One printer finally died. The printer was just pure evil. Dust would collect around the tray and make it impossible to remove the paper tray. The ink cartridge would run dry every couple of months even though no one printed anything because it continuously self-clean. I was not unhappy to see it go.

I replaced it with a HP Photosmart C7280 All-In-One. The printer looked solid and I hope that it will last longer than the Brothers, but our relationship soured quickly when I attempted to install the drivers. The driver failed with the following error:

Fatal error during Installation
Module C:\Windows\system32\hpbmiapi.dll failed to register. HRESULT -2147221164. Contact your support personnel.
Please go to http://www.hp.com/support for troubleshooting information about "Fatal Error" and "MSI.dot4wrp".

Since the CD install didn’t work, I downloaded the latest drivers from HP and they didn’t work. I tried to unzip the drivers and locate the hpbmiapi.dll and manually register the dll, but I ran out of disk space. I tried google and notice that many HP owners of a different printer had similar issues, but was resolved by a patch from HP.

I called HP customer support in hopes that they will have a patch for the C7280, but they were less than helpful.  I mentioned that various other people on the HP forum had the same issue, but they told me that no one has reported this issue. After trying a few things, they declared that the problem was Microsoft’s fault and that I should call up Microsoft since they will know what the problem is. They wouldn’t escalate the issue because it was a Microsoft problem. Right…

This post gave me a clue:

http://forums13.itrc.hp.com/service/forums/bizsupport/questionanswer.do?admit=109447627+1235967722575+28353475&threadId=1198595

The hpbmiapi.dll registration failed because of a dependency. Apparently hpbmiapi.dll is dependent on atl.dll (Active Template Library) to be registered. When it wasn’t, the install blew up when it failed to register hpbmiapi.dll. What the error message should have mentioned was the dependency.

To fix the problem, do the following:

  1. Check if atl.dll exists in your system directory. It’s usually in C:\Windows\system32. If it exists, go to the next step. If it does not, you may be able to install it by downloading and installing the Visual C++ 6.0 runtime at:
    http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;259403
  2. Once it’s there, you can register it by running the following command in a command window (you must be an admin of the system):

    regsvr32 C:\WINDOWS\system32\atl.dll
    


  3. Now install the driver again. This time the install should work.

I am hoping that this article will help someone save a few hours of frustration. Sadly, I have had good luck with HP in the past. It’s clear that they are no longer the company they used to be.

March 2, 2009 at 12:12 am 48 comments

Testing eboostr on an older machine

I decided to try out the eboostr 3.0 beta to see if it can speed up my mom’s computer (an ancient eMachine T1221 with a Celeron 1.3 Ghz). Normally, adding more memory is best, but the machine is maxed out at 512Mb. I figured that adding a disk cache to an usb stick may be able to add additional performance. Apparently, I was wrong.

The machine is setup to use a 2Gb stick of Cruzer Micro (readyboost ready). HDtach returned about 27 Mb/s read speed with an access time of 0.6ms. The machine has an USB 2.0 card, so it should be fast enough.

I ran several test like startup, shutdown, opening different applications, opening web pages. All of the test were no faster than before eboostr. I examined the cache and noted that the files being opened are in the cache, it’s just that they didn’t return quickly enough. If it worked, it should be noticeable.

I decided to do some investigating and ran the eboostr speed test. It came back with a ratio of only speed ratio of 1.13 and 100% cache hit. A 13% speed bump is probably too slow to make a difference and this is with a reasonably fast stick. I installed eboostr and used memory as a cache, but the ratio only went up to 1.59. This is a lot better, but surprisingly low for a memory cache. Keep in mind that while it’s faster to find a file on the USB drive, the cpu cost for getting it is higher. HDtach indicated that it only use 5% CPU to read from the IDE drive and 19% CPU to read from the USB drive.

I also tried eboostr on an AMD 2600+ desktop with 2Gb of memory and allocated 1Gb of memory to cache. There was no noticable speed difference before and after eboostr. The speed test indicated that the speed ratio is only 1.89, which is better than the eMachine, but not good enough in my opinion.

eboostr did not work for the two older machines that we tried it on.

December 31, 2008 at 2:56 pm 2 comments

How I selected my Antivirus software for Windows

For a long time, I used AVG free on my machines. Recently, I notice that the memory footprint for AVG was getting large and I wanted to know if there was a better free Anti-virus software out there. There are essentially 3 main free Anti-virus software: Avast!, Avira, and AVG. If you do a google search, you’ll notice tons of post comparing the merits of one over the others. The following links is an actual benchmark that compare the Anti-virus products and were used as reference.

http://www.av-comparatives.org/seiten/ergebnisse_2008_11.php

http://www.passmark.com/ftp/antivirus_09-performance-testing-ed1.pdf

http://www.maximumpc.com/print/4230

Memory Footprint Ranking
If you have plenty of memory, you can probably careless about this category. However, a lot of older machine or netbook may have limited memory, so every bit of memory saved counts. Keep in mind I am more interested in idle memory footprint than when it’s scanning.

Memory footprint of the anti-virus product at idle can be ranked in the following order according to the passmark article. I also try installing each product on my Vista machine and verified the ranking.

Product Memory Usage in Mb
Avast! Antivirus Home 18.05
Avira Antivir free 22.3
AVG Free 56.06

While Avast! And Avira were similar to each other in memory footprint, AVG appears to be using twice the memory of the other two product.

Virus Detection
How well does the three product detect virus. It appears that Antivir is somewhat better than the other. I am not convinced that Antivir is actually that much better, but various post online indicates that its detection rates were better than average.

Product Detection Rate (from av comparative)
Avira Antivir free 71%
AVG Free 43%
Avast! Antivirus Home 40%

Background Performance
How much performance loss do you suffer running the anti-virus software. Judging from the test results from passmark, the three products are very similar in performance. Differences show up in File Open where AVG and Avira is nearly twice as fast as Avast and file copy where AVG is noticeably slower than the other two products.

The Maximum PC article seems to complain that the AVG had the biggest negative performance.

Scanning Speed Ranking
Of the three products, the scan speed varies by quite a lot according to passmark.

Product Time (sec)
Avira Antivir free 68.8
Avast! Antivirus Home 116.87
AVG Free 364.2

The Maximum PC article indicated that the Avast is very slow but didn’t provide numbers on how it compare with the other two product.

User Interface
User interface is very subjective, but in my opinion, AVG has the best and clearest interface. Avast is the worse. The interface looks like a media player, which doesn’t quite fit the paradigm of a virus scanner at all. Avira is somewhere in between the two. It’s not great, but at least it works.

Registration
How annoying is the registration process for the Virus. AVG is probably the least intrusive. You are prompted to register, but you do not have to. Avira is similar but throws up a pop-up every times the program updates the virus definition. The most annoying is Avast, which requires you to registered for a license key or the program will expire in 60 days. The key last only a year, so you must registered again next year.

Features
All of the product offers email and spyware protection. Avast also has IM scanning, but does not have scheduled scanning. Unlike the other two product, AVG does not have rootkit protection.

Recommendation
In my opinion, the best free anti-virus is currently Avira Antivir. It has the fastest scan, best detection rate, and second best memory footprint. It’s annoying to get a pop-up on every update, but that is a small price to pay for a free product. I also want the anti-rootkit feature and scheduled scanning since I want to do the scanning while I am not using the machine.

December 26, 2008 at 11:19 am 2 comments

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