Monday, May 19, 2008

Choose "Don't Spam Me"? Check. Receive spam? Check. Wait...

A few years ago, I was registering for some site. I wish I remembered which, but obviously it must've been pretty forgettable. As a test of their commitment not to spam its users, I gave myself a colorful name, and made sure I checked the option to NOT bombard me with spam.

Apparently, they didn't send me spam, but they shared my information with Vonage and they diligently followed up.

Now I'm just hoping they don't leave me voicemail, that would really be awkward.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Vista Capable, (Not Quite) XP Ready


So my wife's office has a DELL OPTIPLEX 745 that's having issues. Every few hours its hard drive cooling fan sounds like it's a Pratt & Whitney™ turbojet engine prepping for launch off a convenient flight deck. I checked the BIOS under Maintenance -> Event Log. Saw some colorful error messages such as:

  • Previous shutdown due to thermal event
  • CPU0 fan out of range
  • Her office manager calls Dell. They send one tech, then another. They replace a fan, remove another. The problem recurs. Level 2 tech support engaged, and Dell nicely sends the office a warranty replacement, a DELL OPTIPLEX 755.


    Geeks, you know what I'm thinking. This is Dell, this is a 755, a close incremental revision up from the old model. Windows XP Repair Install, baby! Wait a minute, not even that, I could just clone the drive, boot into Safe Mode, a little Device Manager magic and driver download deliciousness and I'll be home free!

    Using the still accessible old PC, I'd attach my external USB hard drive, and use Acronis True Image Home to take a snapshot of the 745's hard drive, then restore it over the top of the 755's. Then, the XP Repair Install to get Windows reacquainted with the hardware, intimately.


    My initial efforts were thwarted. The symptoms of thwartage included a "quick" BSOD, despite having installed the Intel Matrix Storage Drivers from Dell's support site specific to the 755. These are the type of drivers which you would supply to Windows setup upon hitting the F6 function key when prompted for any third-party drivers to help Windows communicate with hardware that isn't currently supplied on the install disc.

    Immediately upon reboot, the system quickly yielded a BSOD and rebooted. I haven't got photographic memory, but after a few attempts with identical results I caught hint of a driver issue. Whether trying a Normal, Last Known Good, or Safe Mode boot, I got the same result.
    The answer hit me like a pound of bricks (for a ton would just leave a gooey mess for CSI to scratch their heads over).


    I entered the BIOS, discovered the Drives -> SATA Operation option, and noticed that Dell had set it by default to AHCI, which according to Wikipedia is Vista-specific. I switched this to plain old ATA which XP is quite fluent in.

    Upon reboot, Windows XP loaded successfully and began acclimating itself to the new hardware. A few additional driver installs for the audio, video, and network and the system was its old self in more time than I'd originally have liked.

    Lessons Learned

    Given the industry strife inspired by Vista, prompting even system builders like Dell to respond to customer demand and offer XP on some of their new desktops, expect that even if your PC, when new, was preloaded with XP, a warranty replacement might be outfitted with newer hardware for a newer world. Not necessarily better, just newer.

    "Why'd the Dell dude get busted? Because pot is a Gateway drug!" - Anonymous