Archive for the 'windows 7' Category

Waveson WindowShade

Waveson WindowShadeOver at Waveson, I’ve put up the first version of Waveson WindowShade.

Waveson WindowShade is a utility for Windows which draws an unobtrusive, translucent shade over the desktop and windows other than the one with which the user is interacting, helping him or her focus on the video they’re watching, the document they’re editing, etc.

Installing Windows 7 under Boot Camp 4.0 (OS X Lion)

This is odd. But true.

This week, I upgraded the hard disk that shipped in a mid-2010 13″ MacBook Pro (MacBookPro7,1) to a larger capacity disk which necessitated clean installs of OS X and Windows. But the Windows 7 installer (quietly) hung at the last step in the installation process. “Completing installation…”, indeed.

Looking on-line, I came across posts from several other other people who were having the same problem, but just the one, improbable-looking, solution.

Improbable as it may have appeared, after following each step, exactly as described, Windows 7 Professional (32-bit edition) installed without complaint..

Re: Slowly, then all at once.

A second KingSpec 128GB 1.8″ 40-pin ZIF Solid State Disk only survived four weeks’ very occasional use before it, too, expired. On one otherwise unremarkable evening, I placed the XT on a sideboard and shut the lid, putting it to sleep.

A short while later, on hearing the fan running at full speed, I opened the lid only to be greeting by an unfriendly MS DOS-style error message. “System Error”, “Error reading from disk” or somesuch. Whatever it was, the computer refused to boot at the next time of asking. I was, later, able to use Windows 7’s System Recovery Options to recover some files from the stricken SSD.

Much to their credit, the drive’s vendor agreed to RMA it (again) and replace it with a RunCore Pro IV 1.8″ 5mm PATA Zif Solid State Drive SSD. Three weeks later, and it’s.. well, still working.

Slowly, then all at once.

The blurb for the KingSpec 128GB 1.8″ 40-pin ZIF Solid State Disk (MLC) claimed a “write endurance” of 10 gigabytes per day for 80 years, and an “unlimited” “read endurance.” After very nearly 10 months’ reading and writing considerably less than that, mine went wallop.

It happened much as per Hemingway‘s description of how people go bankrupt: the first sign of trouble was Windows Explorer hanging while copying (reading, not writing) a file. This failed with a Device I/O error, then chkdsk reported “10 bad clusters”, and then the host PC refused to boot at the next time of asking.

Happily, the drive’s vendor agreed to RMA the drive and exchanged it for what looks like a later revision of the same model. Once installed, Windows 7 reported the following:

Windows Experience Index rating for a Dell Latitude XT and a KingSpec SSD

Which is to say, not quite the same but also not very different.


UPDATE: This second KingSpec SSD lasted just four weeks before it, too, expired.

“Windows is unable to install to the selected location. Error: 0x80300024”

Encountered this while trying to install Windows – Windows 7 – onto a newly-acquired second drive. Looking on-line, it’s not clear whether Windows simply needs to install onto the first hard drive (Disk 0, or SATA 0) or just needs to be able to add a ‘System Reserved’ partition to Disk 0, or both. Or something else altogether.

In any case, I had files on Disk 0 which needed preserving so for me the solution was simply to swap the SATA cables connecting the drives to the motherboard. Thus, Disk 1 became Disk 0 (and vice-versa) and Windows installed without either further comment, or – apparently – creating a ‘System Reserved’ partition on either disk.

Latitude XT + 128GB SSD + Windows 7 RTM

Windows Experience Index rating for a Dell Latitude XT under Windows 7

The scores for graphics are higher than under Windows 7 RC – lifting the overall score – but the experience is not much changed: it’s still snappy and responsive.

Drivers are provided, out-of-the-box, for for all of the XT’s hardware bar the multi-touch screen. The touch screen’s manufacturer, N-trig, have made Windows 7-specific drivers available; although the as-of-writing link on the page refers to the “Windows 7 Release Candidate”, the download itself seems to contain up-to-date drivers for Windows 7 RTM.

To enable automatic re-orientation of the XT’s display when switching between notebook- and slate-modes, install the Dell QuickSet application (the XT does not have an accelerometer like, say, the iPhone). Dell do not appear to be providing Windows 7-specific drivers (and other software) for the XT, but the Windows Vista version of QuickSet seems fully compatible with 7.


UPDATE: The KingSpec SSD featured in this post died after 10 months.

UPDATE 2: A second KingSpec SSD lasted just a further four weeks before it, too, expired.

Windows 7 SDK for x64 RTM

As of writing, the ISO download page for the Windows 7 RTM Software Developer’s Kit, only lists the version of the kit which will install on PCs running x86 (32-bit) Windows.

Until the page is updated with links to the other versions, the x64 version can be downloaded, directly, here.

Latitude XT + 128GB SSD + Windows 7

Speaking of ZIF SSDs:

Windows Experience Index rating for a Dell Latitude XT and a KingSpec SSD

That is, a 5.8 for a 128 GB KingSpec SSD under 64-bit Windows 7 Release Candidate. Apart from the “Disk data transfer rate”, some of the scores for other components are lower than under Windows Vista, possibly because the scale has changed, at the top end, from 5.9 to 7.9.

To use, the SSD-equipped XT is snappy and responsive, though only slightly more so than when fitted with a 5400 RPM HDD (and the cache had been warmed up). The more substantial difference is that the machine is available for use almost immediately after log in; no need to wait for SuperFetch to fill its cache(s), which seemed to take as long as ten minutes.

Beyond the SSD, Windows 7 seems a good fit for the XT: drivers are provided, out-of-the-box, for every component bar the touch screen, drivers for which are otherwise available here. Once installed, the touch experience is much smoother than under Vista, up to and including inertial scrolling, which exhibits a pleasant bounce effect at the top or bottom of a page in Internet Explorer.


UPDATE: The KingSpec SSD featured in this post died after 10 months.

UPDATE 2: A second KingSpec SSD lasted just a further four weeks before it, too, expired.

Re: The Acer TravelMate 8215WLMi

A sizeable minority of searches which bring people to this blog seem to have to do with enabling hardware virtualization on the Acer Travelmate range of notebooks.

Although this feature – specifically: Intel Virtualization Technology (VT for short) – is present in at least some of the Intel Core 2 Duo processors which ship in the TravelMate 8210 series, such as the T7200 powering my 8215WLMi, it is disabled in BIOS by Acer.

This (probably) allowed them to share a single BIOS image across multiple models; maybe even across their entire Centrino/Centrino Duo range. And, at the time, other notebook manufacturers did something similar – Sony, among them, with most models in their Vaio range.

Recently, my own 8215 wore out – after two-and-a-bit years of near-constant use, the fan quite literally ground to a halt. Lest the innards melt and ooze out through the vents, I replaced the machine outright with a shiny new Dell.

Up until the end, I had periodically checked on-line for ways and means by which one might enable VT on the 8215. The last such trawl threw up a pair possibilities: upgrading the BIOS with a compatible version from an alternative vendor; and patching the existing BIOS NVRAM so as to unlock VT.

I never got around to pursuing either, but I post them here on the off-chance that someone else might find them useful. It’s timely, as well: the recently announced XP Mode of Windows 7 will require hardware-accelerated virtualization to work.

Upgrading the BIOS from an Alternative Vendor:
The BIOS in the 8215WLMi is based on PhoenixBIOS, from Phoenix Technologies. BiosAgentPlus.com claims to be able to “quickly identify and update” PhoenixBIOS, among others. This is a paid-for subscription service (USD$29.95/year, as of writing) and there’s no indication (or claim), anywhere, that they will provide a subscriber with anything other than the latest BIOS from the manufacturer. In fact, having checked this out to write it up here, it’s not clear that this is worth pursuing any further.

Patching the existing BIOS:
As noted above, the BIOS in the 8215WLMi is based on PhoenixBIOS, in common with several other makes of notebook, such as the aforementioned Sonys. At least some of the users in this forum claim to have successfully patched the PhoenixBIOS-based BIOS in their respective Vaios to enable VT, and this poster claims to have been able to patch the BIOS in his Acer 5684 “in order to enable the VT flag.”

In one respect, this seems a more promising option, for which the Phoenix BIOS Editor may be useful. But to mess with a PC’s BIOS like this is to run the risk of bricking the computer. So, caveat hax0r.


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