Vista SP1 RTM not quite ready for action

I’ve been using this on 2 PC’s for a week or so now, and I have to say that I’ve noticed more issues since the upgrade than before.

An example: I just ‘moved files’ from one folder to another. I clicked replace (as there already existed files in the destination folder with the same name), and ‘repeat for further X conflicts’. The first pass left 4 folders and 5 files in the source folder! When I then repeated the move, an empty folder was left in the source folder.

That is just rubbish!

Another example:

I set up an ‘offline folders’ share to my new PC from my old. The folders showed up in the Sync manager and started to sync. As there was 50GB or so to do, I choose to switch off my PC and continue the next day. On switching my PC back on, it refused to continue to Sync. However, worse than that, unless you can restore the network connection, there is NO WAY to remove this partial sync. What if the source PC died? Then I’d be screwed!

On my desktop, I now have an issue where I cannot write to one CD burner while playing a DVD from another. I get some kind of error thrown.

On my XBOX360, which is connected to my desktop media center, there are now extra folders listed in the ‘Video’ section – for a start there are about 12 USB Card Reader ports that never used to be there, and which there appears to be no way of turning off in the Folder setup, and my ‘Recorded Video’ link is now there twice. (I had moved it to my D:, so perhaps it’s moved it back?)

I’m sure we’ll get updates to fix these, but some – the file move one especially – is a little bit fundamental!

The good news is that lots of little ‘buggets’ – things like folder settings – appear to now be resolved. So yes, I’m sure it’s worth the upgrade, but don’t expect it to give you that perfect operating system.


Proximity detection failed due to unknown error ‘0x80004004′

I recently updated something and found that media would no longer play on my XBOX 360 from my PC. I kept getting a No Entry sign when I hit play, despite the fact that I could browse the files fine.

On looking in the Event Log on the Vista PC, I could see these errors being logged:

Proximity detection failed due to unknown error ‘0x80004004′. The best proximity time detected was -1 milliseconds.

No web searches revealed anything, but I worked it out:

Go into Media Player and select Library/Media Sharing. It will tell you that you don’t have sharing enabled. This is either because the firewall is wrong, or the network type is wrong.

To fix the issue, ensure that your current network is a ‘Private’ network, not a public one. Also ensure that the ‘Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service’ is set as an exception in the firewall settings.

Doing this enabled the Media Player Sharing dialog to work well, and the error to vanish and media to play.

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Dell Vostro 200 Overclock

A while back I got a Dell Vostro 200 for around $399, including LCD monitor. Great value and makes a great desktop.

PC’s never go fast enough however, especially when doing lots of video editing, so I investigated whether it was possible to overclock it. Turns out the motherboard is a Dell-specific board made by Foxconn. The G33M02. Looking at the Foxconn G33M, it looks like they have software overclocking… but that doesn’t work with the board.

Looking deeper, it has the ICS 9LP505-2HGLF PLL generating the CPU clock. ICS kindly provided the datasheet, which shows that it is not programmable though.

Therefore using software, it is NOT possible to overclock a Dell Vostro 200. Looks like a faster processor is what is required for me. That or to make a ‘BSEL’ modification to fool the processor into running at a higher FSB etc. Think I’ll take the safe option, but the next question is just how fast a CPU will it take?

If only Dell would tell us…

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Wedding Bliss? Not at Target

Yesterday I stood in my local Target store announcing loudly the free availability of my Wedding gifts! Read on to find out why…

Recently I got married. Yes, even geeks get married – probably more often than you’d think – and there’s a good chance that you know someone who’s about to get married right now. The whole wedding experience has been a really good time in my life, and I’d really recommend it if you’re having doubts. (Of course at this point a lot of people always point out the pitfalls of marriage too from their ‘bad’ experiences, but let’s focus on where I am now… still in that high point. They even have a name for it – The Honeymoon Period.)

But anyway, when we announced we were getting married, we did what every couple does – we selected a couple of wedding registries, choosing local stores as we thought that would make life simpler. Target and Bed Bath and Beyond. At this point I have to say (being from the UK) that I have been completely blown away (gobsmacked) by American generosity when it comes to giving gifts. I think that American’s really are the most generous people I’ve come across, and I don’t mean that as a means of getting kudos with anyone, I’m simply stating a fact. There are showers, showers and more showers and then all the wedding gifts too! People are amazing! Of course wedding registries play a big part in that. They simplify life by enabling you to help your friends and relatives know the types of things you’d like to help start your new life together.

Back to Target and Bed Bath and Beyond… Now both stores are similar – you walk in and friendly staff welcome you and ask if you need help finding something (or maybe this just happens to me because I always look lost?!) You scan little lists and have a website to tell your friends about. I have to say that the Bed Bath and Beyond website goes beyond the call of duty. It has guest list trackers, gift trackers, seating arrangers… the list goes on, but I digress – I’m not here to talk about websites. Functionally both work well and actually the use of the checkout enabled my UK guests to by gifts for delivery in the US – something they wouldn’t have been able to do with most other registry sites.

So we have some friendly stores. Both are as helpful as they can in enabling you to choose your gifts, but this is where the similarities end.

After the wedding you find that people have been so generous that they’ve got you things that are not on your registry. So you get duplicates, things that are slightly the wrong size. You know the thing. It’s kind of like having the most amazing Christmas present time of your life, and find that you need to make a few corrections!

So you visit the stores to do returns. Bed Bath and Beyond are amazing. They value the fact that you’ve just generated $1000’s in business for them and will return things no questions asked.

In Target, they don’t. They state that they only return items with a receipt. That they can only give you $20 back for an item with Target plastered all over it that cost $100. That even though you had 2 ‘king’-sized pillowcases on the registry list and the person bought ‘standard’, that they cannot return them to swap them.

Now I’m a principle man. I just can’t work out why a company won’t return gifts even when there is no doubt the item has been bought from them! I tried asking for the store manager, the area manager. The excuses fly – “Sorry, they’re at lunch” (despite it being 7.50 in the evening). “They’re unavailable”. “It’s policy, sir”.

I tell you this, Target give their employees good training for dealing with persistent customers. Training that would be better focused on teaching customer satisfaction!

Eventually I got frustrated, and decided that I’d rather give the things away for free than return them for pennies. My loud announcements of free nonreturnable Crok-Pots and the likes didn’t really work. Well that’s not quite true. I left the store having returned the items, so I guess persistence past the point of annoyance did eventually pay off, but I have this friendly advise:

If you want people to be able to return undesired wedding gifts (and I’ve heard that baby gifts have the same issue), then I suggest you remember the unfriendly red tape at Target. It’s even painted on the walls to help remind you!


Windows Help (WinHlp32.exe) on Vista

Microsoft have finally enabled us to view the old .HLP files on Vista. Check this link out:


Even Google has hiccups

As probably the biggest web server farm in the world, with their entire business based on providing a reliable service, it is amusing to see that even Google occasionally has its hiccups:


Office 2007 Blogging

Apparently Office 2007 now provides a blogging capability from Word 2007. If this is true, then this post will appear on my blog.

Wow! And to think I couldn’t blog before this!

Off to click Publish now…

Ok, it worked.. Just don’t try and use smileys or anything like that.


Britain – Big Brother State


Western society… Big Brother is here

Let’s face it, current governments are spying on their population, none more so than the United Kingdom. It is done in the name of national security – using fear of terrorism as a method of bypassing people’s normal questioning minds. The new acceptance appears to be: “If it is against terrorism, then it’s good!” But this is not always true. The changes being made today are the implementation of systems that allow your government to spy on you, and therefore control you. It is time to start questioning this invasion of privacy.

This video shows some of the story:


Using Media Player plugin in Firefox on Windows Vista

For some reason Microsoft decided to stop distributing the Netscape plug-in with the Media Player in Windows Vista. Clearly the ability to play Windows Media is required in all web browsers on all Microsoft operating systems, Microsoft having made the technology one of the most common Internet media formats.

The workaround I have found involves 3 simple steps:

  • Downloading the Netscape plug-in from Microsoft
  • Extract the file contents
  • Install it in FireFox.

The following Microsoft page lists the Netscape plug-in at the bottom:

The download you need to save (not run) is called: “Windows Media Player Plug-In for Netscape”.

Download the file to your desktop. Using an archive manager such as 7-zip, extract the EXE file contents. With 7-zip, this is as simple as right-clicking and saying “Extract Files…” to extract all files to a folder.

Inside the archive there are several DLL files. To install support for Media Player, simply copy the file “npdsplay.dll” to your FireFox plug-in directory. Typically this is C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\plugins.

You can check the plug-in is installed correctly by clicking here: about:plugins

You should see the plug-in listed as “Windows Media Player Plug-in Dynamic Link Library”

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