Friday, October 30, 2009

Windows 7 - XP Mode

Following my journey with Windows 7. I am glad to report, that I have installed and tested the XP Mode successfully. For those not knowing what this is, Microsoft in their infinite wisdom gave us the option to run Windows XP as a virtual session on Vista for free. You need two files: the Virtual PC, and the Windows XP mode file. You also need hardware that can support this. You need the VT technology from Intel, or the Virtual Technology from AMD.

Once you verify that you can run it, you download and install it from here. The cool thing that you can do is run applications, that you install in the XP as applications that run in the XP mode apart from being in the Virtual Machine window. Interesting, VMWARE Workstation has been doing it for quite a while with their Unity feature, but having as a free option really is a good thing from Microsoft.

So far Windows 7 is a hit. I think that Microsoft learned a little lesson, and finally released Vista in a form that it should have been in the first place. So far so good. I have not heard of any big negatives just yet.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Windows Home Server - Backing up the Server

Last night at our monthly Windows N(new) T(Technology) Users Meeting, we discussed Windows Home Server, and Windows Small Business Server. The Home Server got the Lion's share of the meeting as it got quite a lot of questions, comments, and general comments and statements from the whole group.

My contribution was on the part of backing up the server itself. While home server does a bang up job at backing up all the other PCs and Laptops on your network (really, it does work well - you don't need Acronis or Ghost or any imaging software), it does not back up itself. How is that? Well, like our presenter (Mr. Kenyon) mentioned, Microsoft probably thinks that the data duplication is sufficient since if you have multiple drives, and you have duplication on, the data is written in such a way that is duplicated on both drives (not RAID).

But the fact is that I still want to be able to backup the whole server besides that. The way you do that is to get an external drive (internal would work also) so you can take it with you somewhere else. Once you plug in a USB or eSata drive, a message will on the console will ask you if you want to add to the storage or use for backup. You tell it to use it for backup. Once you do this, then when you go to the Computer's tab of the console, you will see the Server appear there. Not until you do that will the server appear! Now, you can just right click on it, and tell it to backup. Point it to the drive, and you are on your way. There is no built in automation. It is manual process which is quite the opposite of the backups it (Home Server) itself does for all other PCs.

There are I believe third part utilities than can help with this, and being a geeky of sorts, you should be able to script something - maybe using Robocopy. A good article can be found here: Backing up Windows Home server on a Friday Night.


Windows 7 official birth is today!

Sort of like waiting for a new baby to come along, Windows 7 releases today. I don't think the hoopla has been as big in the media as it was with Vista, and I might be mistaken on that point. It just seems like it. Most of the press on it has been good from all sides.

I am happy to say that all my testing so far has been mostly positive. Running on my laptop now for three days without any visible problems or glitches. I have not installed or tried to install any of Lenovo software. I will go to their site and see what kind of updates they have, but I have no plans to put on much of the Thinkvantage stuff. I do miss my Fn utility and will consider that.

One of the positive things I noticed is that my battery life seems to be better now. I can go almost a full 2 hours on this T61 with the extended battery. This is pretty huge for me, because it never seems like I went more than one hour and a half before.

It also boots faster, but again I don't have all the Thinkvantage stuff running and have not yet polluted the sys tray with a lot of garbage. I also have 4 gigs or RAM vs. the 2 gigs I had in Vista, although I did run Vista with 4 gigs towards the end; but don't think it really was much of a boost, a little but not a lot.

Well, I will update if any big things happen, but right now I want to close with the two of the things I like about Windows 7:

1. Document Libraries
2. Bitlocker to go

Oh, and the themes - I figured out how to add the themes for other countries that are not visible Australia, Canada, South Africa, and the UK form How to Geeks. Seems like a minor thing, but I like the feel of it. This is even though I created my own theme for my "family" which includes family pictures for the wallpaper that cycle every 30 minutes. Pretty cool.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Windows 7 Official AntiVirus Software List

Because I was having some problem with Nod32 on Windows 7. I started doing a little digging, and found that Microsoft has a list of approved Antivirus software - curiously, ESET was on it.


Upgrading my Lenovo Thinkpad T61 from Vista to Windows 7 - Update 2

As I mentioned in the previous update, NOD32 is the only application so far that has squawked as I was installing it on Windows 7; but I tried again. It seems that when I got the message last time I canceled it but it really did not cancel it completely. When I tried it again, it did a repair. I still got the warning message, but I just went ahead and finished it anyway and it seems to be working fine. I think when Windows releases ESET will update their software, but I still think they are going to push their version 4 as the compatible version.


Upgrading my Lenovo Thinkpad T61 from Vista to Windows 7 - Update

To date - the only problem has been NOD32 - When I went to install it (this is what I had on Vista), Windows 7 told me it had compatibility issues. The Windows Easy Transfer had transferred the NOD32 plugin into Outlook just fine because when I re-installed Microsoft Office 2007, the plugin was there. On ESET's site they do not seem to have any information on version 3, they seem to be pushing 4 and mention that they seem to say that they are not providing support on 7 until it releases. I have run AVG and and AVAST and they both clearly state that they support 7. FYI.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Upgrading my Lenovo Thinkpad T61 from Vista to Windows 7

Well, you know when doing upgrades or changing Operating Systems, I am always on guard about what is going to Byte me. Two Wednesdays ago I received my copy of Windows 7 Ultimate and I have been chomping at the bit to install it on my laptop. This morning I got up real early to do this since it was the first opportunity I have had to have my laptop down. First, I wrestled with the idea of just doing an in-place upgrade since this would be the fastest way since I would not have to re-install all my programs. I decided against that because frankly I was not that happy with a lot of the stuff already on my laptop. Especially the Lenovo Thinkvantage software, which I think is sluggish. And I just wanted to see a clean install.

Instead of just wiping my drive, or doing dual boot, or virtualizing it or whatever, I just bought a new hard drive. Good excuse to get a little more room anyway.

So I took out my old and put in the new. I can go back to Vista if I want that way. Also, I got to say that before I even attempted it, I used DriverMax to back up all my Vista Drivers and stored them on a network drive. I also used System Information for Windows to print out a whole report of all software installed on my Vista, and along with Recover Key, I also printed out all my software keys that were installed. Next, I ran the Vista Easy Transfer utility which I downloaded from Microsoft and backed up all my user settings to a USB Hard drive.

OK. I popped the new hard drive, powered up and booted to the Windows 7 DVD. It was a very smooth process. It even detected my Wireless Network, asked me for my security key and noted that it saw another Windows 7 computer on the network and wanted my WorkPlace password. I don't have that setup, so I just skipped that part.

Once the installation was done, I ran the easy transfer utility that comes preloaded in Windows 7. Pointed it to my external Hard Drive. It fond the file that the Vista Easy transfer wizard had created, and put all my settings back. Nice reports too. It tells me all the programs I should put back and more.

Next: I usually right away go into device manager to see what hardware did not install. I saw three things. I then without doing too much research, I just pointed to them, told it to update drivers, and manually set it to point where DriverMax has put all the drivers. Leaving at the top folder, and telling it to search sub-folders, one by one it found the drivers. All except the Intel Turbo Boost, which it did find, but has a problem with it. Probably just incompatibility. I just disabled it since I was not that impressed with it when running in Vista. I will visit it again later.

The main one I was interested in was the fingerprint reader driver and software. While it did find the driver, I still went to UPEK's site and downloaded the software since Thinkpad uses their technology. Installed it and Voila. It all works. Added my Workgroup, set user name and password for my network, and I am working no problem.

While starting this around 6:45 A.M, I ate breakfast twice, drank a half pot of coffee, took a shower, watched the news, and worked on another PC next to me. It is not even 10 A.M - wow! Pretty cool. Now I will start loading the whole gamut of software which will probably take me three times, if not more, to install than the Operating System. I will keep this blog updated updated until I am done.


Friday, October 2, 2009

They were once lost, but now they are found!

If you are multi-usb-thumbdrive carrier, or maybe you just carry one, then you are always afraid you might lose them. You might or might not have sensitive data on them, or even if it is not sensitive, you might have a lot of hours and/or information and programs that you have saved on them.

Recently I lost both mine! I lost them at different times and at different places. I knew when I lost the second one, and when I turned back to get it, it was gone! It was then that I noticed that my other one was missing. I usually carry them with my numerous keys on one of those Caribiners.

Well, I thought that is that. I will never see them again. But low and behold, two days later, the one I knew I lost finds its way into my mailbox at work. Then, a week later, I get an email from someone who someone else found my usb thumb drive in a parking lot 30 miles from where I thought I lost it, but I was at that location, so I must of lost it and never knew. The person knew me and my name is the name assigned to that thumb drive.

What a renuinion! What are the odds? Man I will never lose them again. I never in my life have lost any drives of any kind.

The one good thing was that I did not keep too much data that was sensitive on them. I had taken care of getting any thing that could damage my personal information off of it.

But this is a lesson to all of us: guard and protect your data on these things by encryption. Never put your soul on them if you can help it; and better yet, get one of those usb drives that are mission impossible self-destructing types: Iron Key, or Kingston.

Thank you honest people. You have redeemed mankind a little bit from the power of darkness that has us in it's grip.