Archive for xp

VOTD: Music track made using only Windows XP/98 sounds

Posted in General with tags , , , , , , , on Thursday, 26 February 2009 by Deems

You know the sounds your computer makes when a dialog pops up, or something goes wrong, or you’re notified about something. The default dings and tadas used in Windows XP and Windows 98 were used to make a musical track. Watch (or rather listen) to the video below. [via ChrisM]

Can you have too much RAM?

Posted in General, Technology with tags , , , , , on Sunday, 1 February 2009 by Deems

The simple answer, after 3 days, is yes you can! (almost sounds like a political slogan)

Let me start from the beginning. Some time last week our desktop PC at home started crashing for no apparent reason, and intermittently, sometimes on its own, sometimes after certain programs. There was no clear way to replicate the problem. Now the machine has been stable for the last, almost 8 months, no hardware changes. The setup:

  • Intel Core2Duo 2.3GHz CPU
  • Gigabyte GA-G33M-DS2R/S2 motherboard
  • Samsung DVD RW
  • Western Digital 250GB drive
  • Gigabyte GeForce 8600GT 512MB video card
  • 6GB physical RAM

All smoothly running Windows XP, until recently. I even booted with a disk with MEM86 to check all the RAM to make sure none of the chips were faulty – test ran through in a few hours with no faults. I even ran scan and repair on the drive to check for possible bad sectors on the drive – nothing, clean as a whistle.

Oh well, I thought to myself, time for a clean install and rebuild. No worries, backup my data to another machine, pop the Windows XP bootable install disk in the ROM drive and boot up. Follow the prompts, repartition the drive, reformat the partition and begin the install. 

Plain sailing you’d think, nope. About 60-odd percent of the way into copying files from the disk to the hard drive the screen goes all funny and between the lines I can make out it cannot find a specifc file. I let it retry, to no avail. So I give in and let it skip it. It carries merrily along only to find more files it can’t find. WTF? I even took the disc put it in another machine and scanned the contents as well as the CAB files for the alleged files it couldn’t find – they were there!

Mmmm I thought to myself, what now? Okay Windows XP SP2 has been out for a long time now and maybe the built in drivers didn’t recognize some of my hardware. Let me download nLite quickly and make a slip-streamed bootable install disk with SP3 (it should have latest drivers to pick up my hardware). 

Right, disk created, popped it in and rebooted. Went through the same process again and round about the same place, same errors again – cannot find drivers and other files.  I’m at my wits end now, so I power down the machine, unplug all the peripheral devices, whoopdeedoo, one video card. Reboot, go into the BIOS and disable all that I can, onboard LAN, firewire port, USB, etc. Back to basics, follow the above procedure again. Only to find the same problems. The one or two times it DOES manage to get past the file copying and into the actual install it blue-screens at random places or hangs at the famous 34 minute mark while detecting devices and installing drivers. 

Maybe it’s the SATA drive – I rip it out and replace it with an old 40GB IDE drive and try to install again. Same problems! Arrrgghhh! 

Give up, leave it for a day or so.

Another day, a few more bright ideas. I take my drive, pop it in another machine – completely different hardware and try to install from there. Whoa, it works, smoothly – all the way to the end where I can log in and see my desktop!

Note: this is the WRONG way to try and install your system on different hardware to the system it will be running in.

So I take the drive out and put it back in my machine – no luck, crashes after I log in. Okay, I expected that. So I thought maybe it’s my ROM drive acting up? So I replace mine with one from the other machine. No joy, same problems as above.

And this, ladies and gentleman, is where I get to the title of my post. All this time, I’d been trying to install Windows XP with 6GB of physical RAM installed. Apart from pulling out the actual CPU, the only other thing I’ve not pulled out is the RAM. But MEM86 ran through all tests without any hiccups? Just try it, damnit!

So I pulled out 2 of the 6GB and tried again. No luck, same problems. Come on! So I pulled the rest out, leaving only a single 2GB RAM module. This has got to work, right?

And here I am, typing away at this post on my laptop, while looking at the finally installed Windows XP on my desktop machine with the default Windows desktop staring back at me!

So, take it from me, save yourself a few hours/days of frustration at swapping hardware, turning off features and functions, swapping drives and disks, and take out the extra RAM before you do a clean install of Windows XP!

Oh and before I get flamed in the comments as to why I’m not using Linux or Vista (puke) it’s because as of now it’s the only operating system that I can use all the software my wife and I want to/need to/know how to use. I might take the old 40GB and put it in to install Windows 7 which I got recently. I was almost at a point of installing Windows 7 instead, but didn’t since it’s only still in beta and will expire in August.

Hope my experience can help someone out with the same problem.

Vistarising XP

Posted in General, Technology with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on Tuesday, 18 November 2008 by Deems

There have been a number of posts on Lifehacker and How-To-Geek about nifty little tips, tricks and tools to add nice Vista features to XP. Yet, of those I’ve come across few seem to work without glitches. 

I tried installing the Vista Sidebar and Gadget pack but without success. Alky installed fine, but the actual Sidebar tool kept on failing to load. [via gHacks] So much for having gadgets in XP.

Then I tried installing Shock Aero 3D to get the Vista-looking WinKey+Tab feature which seemed to work nicely and it has various options for display and background effects. [via Lifehacker] This seemed to load and works well without any problems. 

Next thing I liked and wanted to try out was Visual Task Tips which shows you previews of windows as you move your cursor over the item in the taskbar. [via How-to-Geek] Very handy feature which seemed to work well. Doesn’t like Google Chrome Application Windows though.

I’m really keen to see more from Windows 7 – if they can get rid of the need for their OS to run on Deep Blue and fix hardware compatibility issues (which also relies on vendors delivering drivers) then maybe one-day more people will move to Windows 7 than they did to Vista. But for now, I’m sticking to XP, thanks!

Re-enable classic windows search

Posted in General, Technology with tags , , , , , , , on Monday, 3 November 2008 by Deems

If you’ve running Windows 2000 or XP and you’ve got any Office 2007 product on your machine you’ll notice that when you press Windows Key + F or right click on a folder to and select search, that you’re presented with Windows Desktop search – and out of the box if you try and search for things you can’t find ANYTHING. Why? Well, because it hasn’t been indexed and indexing on your hard drive is off by default. 

So you’ll be presented with a search screen that looks like this:

Now, if you’re like me you like to use things that work – and don’t slow down your machine. So to enable the classic desktop search again do the following:

Scroll down to the bottom of the windows desktop search window and click on the “click here” to use Search Companion link at the bottom.

You will then be presented with the classic windows search window. Almost there, one more little tweak. Open up the registry editor (click on Start + Run and type in “regedit” without quotes and click OK). Now go through the registry and find the following key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows Desktop Search\DS

Within the DS key you should now see a ShowStartSearchBand key as follows:

If you did not perform the above step before the ShowStartSearchBand key will not exist – not to worry you can just create it by right clicking in that window and selecting New -> DWORD Value and giving it a name – then follow the next step.

Simply double clck the key to edit it and change the value to a zero, click OK and close the registry. From now on when you use windows search it will be the classic windows search which will not require indexing of files and you’re back to finding files and strings in files, like the good old days.

Enjoy! Thanks to John for pointing me in the right direction. All the other registry hacks I found on the web didn’t work at all.

Note: as always, making registry changes could break your system if you’re not careful or know what you’re doing – so if you’re concerend ask someone to help you and always make backups of your registry before making changes.

Windows XP SP3 Woes

Posted in General, Technology with tags , , , , , , , on Friday, 12 September 2008 by Deems

If, like me, you’re still using Windows XP you may already have SP3 installed. Others of you out there might still be skeptical about installing it especially with the multitude of problems people out there have encountered.

I’ve been running Windows XP SP3 on my home and work desktop since the end of May 2008, including my work laptop since the beginning of August. All 3 systems are very stable and have been so since the completion of the service pack installation but not without a few problems.

Desktop machine at work was installed by the IT guys before I joined and the did some sort of magic to raid the two hard drives without using a RAID controller. Basically forcing Windows Server raid on a Windows XP Pro OS. This was fine for the use of the machine while it was running SP2 the 6 months prior to installing SP3. After installing SP3 however the machine blue-screened almost immediately after the install completed and a reboot was required. No matter what trick I tried to fix it (and let me tell you I just about tried everything you could find through Google) nothing worked until I gave in and reformatted the boot drive and did a clean install. Straight after doing the clean OS install I did the SP3 install and since then things have been fine.

The work laptop was also a clean XP install with SP3 straight afterwards without any problems – I’ve been using the laptop for the last 6 weeks doing development without any problems. 

My home PC had recently been rebuilt since I upgraded most of the hardware so it had a clean OS but had been running various software, networking and development tools with SP2. I thought, well lets give it a try here too – worst case scenario was that I’d need to rebuild it again. So I installed SP3 and first thing that didn’t work after the reboot was my internet connectivity. After a lot of digging and back-and-forth communication with my ISP tech support as well as Billion’s tech support I managed to fix the problem (mind you not without installing and uninstalling SP3 three times before figuring out what it was).

Somehow, somwehere, my network drivers had gotten corrupted under SP2 – but strangely with SP2 they worked fine, which led me to believe that SP3 was the culprit. Eventually I uninstalled SP3 for the third time and decided to remove all networking components from the Device Manager and reboot the machine. Of course upon reboot it re-detected the hardware again and re-applied the drivers for the newly found networking components. After a quick check that everything was working, I reinstalled SP3 for the fourth time. This time after a reboot everything worked as it should have. And a little over 3 months later the desktop machine at home is still stable.

The guys at Windows Secrets also have a few ideas and information about XP’s SP3 which you may found useful too: