Chris's Corner

Where I talk, rant, and do mostly everything

  • Yes, I really did buy Intel

    Filed under: ,

    Well as you can see by the canuck's post below, I ordered an Intel Core2 Duo.  I did this mainly because I want to have my system upgraded so I don't have to change hardware too soon and deal with the re-activations of vista and office etc...  Anyway here is what I ordered:

    • Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 (2.4 GHz)
    • 2 GB OCZ DDR2 800 Dual Channel
    • eVGA 122-CK-NF68-AR Socket T (LGA 775) NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI ATX Intel Motherboard

    The goods should be here in the next few days and I have to be honest, I'm totally psyched to get this rig going, it's gonna be sweet, especially the overclocking :). And I really can't wait to see how Vista runs on it, because we all know that's what I'm going to install :D.

  • So EA Officially Fails at Life

    Yeah EA fail at life, BIG TIME!  I just downloaded a copy of the new Need For Speed Carbon demo, happily installed it on vista, and when I went to start it, it crashed.  Funny thing is that I tried it on another box running RC1, thinking it was my version of Vista doing it and it STILL crashed.  But it works fine on XP, very interesting considering NFS Most Wanted works FINE on Vista.  So the question of the day is, where did EA screw the pooch and will they fix it before the official game is released?  Because if they don't, they sure as hell aren't going to get a Games for Windows badge on their box.

     Good job EA, lets actually try to make the game usable before we release, the practice of releasing bug ridden games with subsequent 500 MB patches (*cough* BF2 *cough*) is getting a little bit tiring.

  • Windows Vista Guides

    Well some of you have probably been wondering what happened to the Vista guides after build 5536.  To be honest, I got lazy.  Betweem that and working a lot I just didn't have time to pump out new guides for new builds that were, quite frankly, not much different from 5536.  Instead I decided to move my focus on something that I am working on which will be based on Vista RTM.  I'm not going to say what it is exactly (can't have anyone stealing my idea now, can I?).  I just figured I'd post this to let everyone know theres a good reason for all of this and I think you will all be pleasantly suprised when I do come out with what I've been working on :).

  • WMP on Vista x64

    One thing I have noticed about Vista x64 is that the default Windows Media Player is the 32 bit version.  Microsoft did this for compatibility reasons with codecs and such.  But some people may want to restore the 64 bit WMP in light of a x64 FFDShow being out which decodes virtually all audio/video.  Thankfully there is a relatively easy way to switch the system default WMP to x64 and back to x86.

     To switch to x64, open a command prompt as administrator and type:

    %windir%\system32\unregmp2.exe /SwapTo:64

    Alternatively to swap back to 32 bit go to a command prompt and type:

    %windir%\system32\unregmp2.exe /SwapTo:32

     So there you have it, a relatively easy way to swap back and forth between x86 and x64 versions of Windows Media Player in Vista x64.

    NOTE: It seems that this changes the OS shortcuts but it's not changing the actual file associations, I'm looking into this now.

    UPDATE: There is one more step required to complete the transition to a full x64 Media Player.

    Go into the registy and navigate to:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\App Paths\wmplayer.exe

    And set the Values as follows:

    (Default) - "%ProgramFiles%\Windows Media Player\wmplayer.exe"
    Path - %ProgramFiles%\Windows Media Player

    Include the quotes on the value for (Default).

    That's it, now you have a completely x64 Media Player experience.  Enjoy!

  • Fix Aero Glass on Low end DX9 Cards

    Some people with low end DX9 cards (Geforce 5x00 series and ATI 9x00 series) have been reporting issues of Aero Glass not enabling itself despite getting a system rating more than good enough to run Aero Glass.  This is a known issue in RC2 and is on the board to be fixed in RTM.  But for now here's the workaround that I spotted on AeroXP (Posted by Colonel.Cool).

    1.  Ensure that you have the following registry value set to :

    HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\DWM\Composition set to 1 (32-bit DWORD)

    HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\DWM\CompositionPolicy set to 2 (32-bit DWORD)

    2.  Restart DWM by opening a command prompt with administrative privileges :

    - Type 'net stop uxsms'
    - Then 'net start uxsms'

     After doing this you should have Glass, enjoy!

    NOTE: Do NOT try this on a non-DX9 card.  This is for people who should be getting Glass only.

  • Windows Vista x64 - Revisited

    Well I decided that with RC2 I would at least make an effort to give x64 another chance on my machine.  Worst that could happen is that I format in anger and go back to x86, so here's the story.

     I was talking to Robert on Friday and told him that I wanted to try it just for the heck of it.  (Actually I told him to tell the Windows Beta team I was trying it again and the proverbial *** may hit the fan again lol).  So I burned the x64 ISO and prepped for an install that in my mind was destined for miserable failure given the driver signature BS and all that happy stuff.  So it installed, I left to run a few errands while it did it's thing and when I came back I did the post-setup username, date/time, computer name stuff and let it log in.  Everything came with drivers except my, yep you guessed it, my X-FI sound card.  So I had a thought, the XP x64 drivers for the X-FI are WHQL signed, so let's try those.  Ran the installer as admin (don't worry, I disabled UAC shortly after this :P) and it, wait, it INSTALLED?!  OMG!  I rebooted and to my disbelief i heard sound on shutdown!  When it came back up sound was working as well as audio console so I now have full 5.1.  Awesome, but I know it's gonna trip up on my iPod, let's plug it in shall we?  Plugged it in and, wait, it had inbox signed drivers?  HOLY CRAP!  Installed iTunes 7 and everything works with my iPod.  Ok now I must be dreaming because the last time i tried x64 I wanted to shoot someone after 10 minutes.  Needless to say I have been on x64 since yesterday and I haven't had anything to really complain about.

     So I really have to hand a kudos to Microsoft for shaping up x64, but I still think there should be a way to disable the driver signing check for the short term to make the transition a little bit easier for people who aren't fortunate enough to have WHQL drivers available for all of their devices.

  • WLM 8.1 - A Step Backwards?

    Ok, this is something that has been bugging me for a while now, I just haven't had the time to address it in detail.  Now, anyone who has used WLM 8.0 for any extended period of time knows it pretty much stinks.  It's not stable, disconnects randomly and fubars your contact list out of the blue.  Now one would think that things would get better with WLM 8.1 right?  WRONG!  The beta builds of WLM 8.1 thus far have been absolute crap.  It crashes if you even look at it the wrong way let alone trying to do anything.  One of the big issues with it is the pure joke that they claim it has "better Vista support".  Well in WLM 8.0 on Vista it will crash silently on exit, well it doesn't crash on exit in 8.1 but that's about the only time it doesn't crash!  Whatever WLM is doing, it seems to be interfering with DEP in Vista when it tries to parse anything that uses Flash.  So the workaround is to disable DEP, but seriously Microsoft.  This piece of garbage can't even play nicely with one of your critical security technologies?  IMO these current builds of WLM 8.1 should have never seen the light of day.  WLM as a whole is becoming an utter joke, and you know it's really sad when most Microsoft employees do not use it because they admit that it crashes so much that it interferes with their day to day work (this is both 8.0 and 8.1 btw).

    Anyway, I just had to get that off my chest, because I really think the WLM team needs some devs and testers who know what they're doing, because at this point I'm starting to think I could train a monkey to write a more stable IM client.

  • Vista 5728.16387 Released to Techbeta

    Microsoft have just released Windows Vista build 5728 to technical beta testers.  This build improves on the performance and stability of RC1 and gives a good look at the status of Vista and it's progress towards RTM.  If you are a tester go download it and have fun!

    Source: In House

    EDIT: This build is now available to the public, use the links below to download the respective versions and use your RC1 keys to install & activate.

    MS Windows Vista 5728 32Bit:

    MS Windows Vista 5728 64bit:

  • Office 2007 Beta 2 TR Released

    Microsoft have announced the release of the Office 2007 Beta 2 Technical Refresh today.  This long awaited refresh to beta 2 brings changes in the area of bug fixes and UI elements and is MUCH better than beta 2.  You will also notice a refined glass look with this build in Vista, DWM now encompasses the whole border instead of having the upper left with no glass.

    Download: Office 2007 B2 TR

    NOTE: You must have Beta 2 Installed already to upgrade to Beta 2 TR.  Enjoy!

  • My Journey to FiOS

    Well I decided that I would take a few minutes and tell everyone about my broadband history and my glorious journey to Verizon's new FiOS service. For the purposes of this article, my old provider (Optimum Online) will be referred to as OOL.

    I was first able to get broadband in December of 2000.  We went down to the WIZ and got the modem, self install kit and all the coax i needed to install my OOL service.  Came home and hooked everything up and I was cruising at lightning speeds of 10mbit down and 1mbit up.  I got to love this connection so much that I began to leverage the bandwidth provided very nicely.  All was well untill one gloomy night on December 3, 2002.  I was sending a video I had made to a friend of mine, and it was uploading happily at 110 KB/s when suddenly my cable modem reset itself.  I thought, OK well let's resume the upload.  Upon resume, the upload was maxing out at 17 KB/s, something isn't right here.  I called tech support and they told me that I would get a call back from their special QoS team.  2 hours later I get a call and the rep explains to me that I was capped for "abusing" my connection.  I asked the rep why I never had any problems the past 2 years and he said it was a new policy to alleviate network congestion.  So basically he was telling me "we know our network is oversold, doesn't have the capacity to provide the speeds we offer and we just don't feel like upgrading it".  So he made me agree to the TOS and he then restored my upload to the full potential.  In the span between that day and August of 2004 I was capped another 5 times for uploading.  Now these files I was uploading were not all that big and in my book really wouldn't be "abuse".  When I was capped at the end of August 2004 I went through the motions same as I did 5 times before that except this time was different.  I got a call back from the "Security" department and they informed me that my service would be suspended for a week for abuse.  ORLY?  So I was essentially on dialup for a week.  Got a Verizon DSL sub to do my uploading and all was good.

    In November of 2005 OOL upgraded speeds to 15/2 and made a new "BOOST" tier available that was 30/2.  So I signed up for boost on the promise from the sales department that the upload capping was over.  I was happily doing my thing and one day the connection slowed to a grinding halt.  CAPPED!  So this time I just decided to trade in the modem which effectively lifted the cap on the modem.  So for a while I was very careful about uploads and made sure I didn't trigger this unknown and ever changing limit imposed by the OOL scumbags.

    Just a few weeks ago I found out that Verizon had lit the fiber in my area for FiOS.  Well that's all I needed to hear, I went on the website, ordered the 50/5 tier and scheduled an install for 9/11 (and no I'm not supersticious if you're wondering).  The installer came on the 11th and was very professional.  We had the service installed within 3 hours and everything looked good (Internet and 2 phone lines on the FiOS).  Verizon provided the ONT, the Battery Backup and an awesome router all free of charge.  Now it was time to go inside and do a speed test.  Well I'll let the results speak for themselves:

    Last Result:
    Download Speed: 50278 kbps (6284.8 KB/sec transfer rate)
    Upload Speed: 4486 kbps (560.8 KB/sec transfer rate)

    As soon as I saw that I was ecstatic.  The installer left me with a welcome pack which explained the service and how to do all account setup etc..

    Can anyone say GOODBYE OOL?  I cancelled service with them last night, and man was the sales rep trying to make a pitch.  I finally had to tell the lady look, I don't want your cap happy service, I'm cancelling, OK?

    Well that's my story, if you can get FiOS I suggest you do.  And if you have OOL, well try to find another provider any way you can, because noone should have to wonder if using their connection will result in a cap for so called "abuse".

  • 5536 and Marvell Yukon NIC Cards

    Anyone who has installed Vista 5536 on a machine with a Marvell Yukon NIC knows that it has issues, you cannot browse websites or really do anything functional on the network.  One easy way to fix it is to of course install the XP NIC Drivers.  The other way however, lets you keep the Vista driver and just fix the root of the problem.  Here's how to do it:

    1. Go to Start -- Run and type "devmgmt.msc" without quotes.
    2. Expand Network Adapters
    3. Right Click the Marvell device and go to properties.
    4. Click on the advanced tab.
    5. Select IPv4 Checksum Offload and set the Value to Disabled.
    6. Hit ok and enjoy!

    NOTE: This may also work for people who have Realtek network devices and are experiencing hard system lock-ups when doing anything on the network.  No promises there but I can confirm this works 100% for Marvell.

  • Windows Vista 5536.16385 Guide

    It's done!  The tweak guide for 5536 has been finished.  I would like to thank Kristan Kenney for his many contributions as well as Dena Reiter for helping me out with the wording as well as proofreading the guide as a whole :).

    This guide has a lot of tips to help you get the most from your Windows Vista experience.  I really hope you enjoy it and as always, feedback is more than welcome.

    View: Windows Vista Build 5536 Guide

  • Vista and the Screensaver: The Answer

    In my previous post on this topic, I discussed the screensaver in Vista (as well as XP MCE 2k5) not working with the Microsoft Cordless Laser 6000 KB/Mouse combo from Microsoft.  Since then I have been doing some further investigation into what exactly is the cause of the issue.  Well, I found it.  It turns out that with this KB/Mouse setup and a few others released around the same time they introduced a new "Microsoft Wireless Desktop Receiver 3.0A".  Previous wireless sets had the 2.0A receiver, and I just happened to have one of these old receivers lying around.  Plugged it in, aquired signal with my devices and walked out of the room.  When I came back 5 minutes later, the screensaver was working as I would expect it to.  So it's the receiver, not the keyboard or the mouse.  When I called Microsoft support about the issue, they said it is known but have no plans to fix the issue and outright refused to send me a working receiver.  I guess they don't need the business, or they just like pissing people off, but either way, they know about the problem but they don't want to do anything about it as usual.

    Apparently the issue is something to do with the 3.0A receiver conflicting with the ehtray.exe process on any version of XP/Vista equipped with Media Center.

    Just figured everyone should know, so now you can at least stop pulling your hair out trying to find the real culprit.

  • Expectations for Vista RC1

    As you have probably already seen over at Brandon Leblanc's blog, we had a rather interesting discussion about our expectations for RC1.  We all pretty much agreed on the fact that RC1 has to prove to be stable, and I mean REALLY stable.  But on top of that there has to be consistency throughout the whole user interface.  As people have already pointed out, things like the Install new fonts dialog are reminiscent of Windows NT 3.51 (NT 3.51 because of the long filename support).  Vista is Microsoft's chance to change their reputation of horribly inconsistent UI's and give us something that is truly unified and looks like it all fits together in the same puzzle.

    People wonder why Apple users always poke fun at the Windows UI?  Well it's because of inconsistency (and the fact that Luna was just plain ugly but that's another story for another day).

    So in short, my expectations for Vista RC1 are for it to be very stable and have the performance of an OS that the average person can use day to day (mind you I have been using Vista full time since 5342).  I also want to see a unified interface, no more dialogs or icons from ancient versions of windows.  Windows team, I am not asking you to change the underlying code at all, just make everything consistent!  Laziness is not the way to create a good operating system.

  • Windows Vista and the Screensaver

    This is a funny story, and I thought I'd tell everyone about it, because this is something that has been driving me insane for MONTHS and the solution was so freakin simple.

    Anyway, the big problem I've been having with Vista is my screensaver not working since build 5381, it just would not kick in, I Checked everything, made sure there was nothing preventing the system from idling etc..  I was playing around the other day and it hit me.  Right after 5381 was released, I bought a Microsoft Laser Desktop 6000 KB/Mouse combo.  No, it can't be that I thought.  Well just for kicks I plugged the PS/2 portion of the wireless reciever in for the keyboard and left the USB as was (essentially making the keyboard PS/2 and the mouse USB).  Still no screensaver, so I figured, OK let's yank the USB plug.  2 minutes after yanking the cable the screensaver kicked in.  It was the mouse the whole time.  Solution?  Went out and got myself a Logitech G7 Laser (AWESOME Mouse btw, and the setpoint software works on Vista).

    And for anyone wondering, I did some research into the problem, apparently this issue affects any machine running Media Center with this keyboard/Mouse combo.  If you kill ehtray.exe, the screensaver will kick in, but then your MCE Remote won't work.

    Bottom line, don't buy Microsoft hardware, lately they can't even get it to work right with their own software it seems.

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