September 7, 2012

removing software

computer running very slow again. have too many auto start programs.  too much memory conflict and background tasks using the bandwidth.  removing following with a focus on coupon printer sync (just going to access via web on this computer – stick with Dropbox)

Bonjour.  wtf is this on my windows box anyway?

Hulu desktop (since they went paid, I don’t use it anymore)

iCloud. (this is a windows box and iCloud doesn’t sync shit right anyway)

Java 6 update 30, have later version (never use it)

McAfee security scan plus.  (relying on Microsoft )

Mobile Broadband Generic Drivers (from old wireless card)

MobileMe control panel (don’t use it)

MyCurrent (from never use it, it polls a lot)

Safari – use Chrome and it polls

AliBaba trade manager (does a lot of polling, runs at startup takes up memory)

OpenAL.  No idea what it is

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October 8, 2008

just a little tech tidbit

Matt found out that Lenovo's FN+F5 control panel needs to be enabled to get bluetooth running. Thanks matt!!

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March 20, 2006

Another one bites the dust

Another WD2000 (200gig WD Caviar IDE drive) bit the dust about three months ago. I only today got around to replacing it. Bought the Sony Viao about two years ago and installed the drive in late 2004. About three months ago the Sony stopped booting. I thought that the boot drive had taken a dump so I bought a new 100Gig drive and put it on the side of my desk to install and rebuild the system when I had a minute. Today when I turned it on, I decided to check the boot sequence to see which drive was in fact failing. The BIOS went through, found an error on the second drive and then Windows started to boot, so I figured out it was not the boot drive (oops). Unplug the WD 2000 and reboot. No problem machine boots fine. Yank out the old WD 2000, connect the new Maxtor ultra ATA /133 to the Promise IDE card and off you go. Over to Windows hardware utiltiy to partition the drive and format it and an hour later I am storing stuff on it. No drivers to install. And the Promise card worked seamlessly from the Western Digital to the Maxtor. Love it. Sometimes those "big" projects you have been putting off are really simple....

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December 6, 2005

Computer migration done (four days later)

Ok, I need an IT department. Five days after I started migrating from the IBM X40 to X41, I think I am getting close to being done... Not a good use of my time. The most frustrating thing was moving Outlook. I had 2003 on the X40 and the file transfer wizard from Microsoft didn't move Office or any of the data files. So I installed Outlook 2000 which I had. Nope, data files incompatible and 2000 doesn't support HTTP access to the exchange server. So I had to buy a copy of Office 2003 (which I should have done with the computer for a discount). So I install it, configure the mail accounts, but it can't find my exchange server. After a couple hours of messing I give up on exchange and just configure the new X41 to download my POP mail. The exchange is mostly Ignition Partners mail and i am getting less of that anyway. But the problem is that my outlook data is on the exchange server. So I have to go to the X40, and copy all the inbox, sent folder, etc to a personal folder. Then export (a different process) the contacts, calendar, tasks, etc. to the same personal folder. That created a 1gig pst file. Copy that over the network from the X40 to the X41, reconfigure Outlook 2003 on the x41 to point to the new pst, copy the already downloaded messages from default pst to the new pst. Ouch. What a mess. Outlook transfered. But what about the Blackberry that is still syncing with the Exchange server? Well still trying to figure out how to get to sync with my new X41 without blackberry enterprise server. Maybe the Internet service will work.

Microsoft was the hardest, but others caused problems too. I had to completely uninstall all Symantec programs because it's firewall didn't play nice with the Microsoft firewall and made my x41 invisible on my LAN. I had to go into the system services screen and manually stop all Symantec services for the uninstall to work. That Symantec is tenatious! Oh, and I had to download the Blackberry desktop, Click2Convert, CuteFTP, Cloudmark desktop and order 1GB more memory. Oh, thanks IBM for changing the plug compatability of the SoDIMM slot between the X40 and X41 so I HAVE to buy new memory and cant reuse. That is typical old school IBM, forced obsolescence. I am hopeful that when the memory comes in my new laptop will finally be almost as good as my old laptop.

The WORST part though was cleaning up my X40 to give to another employee. Try to delete all old software, your browser history, cookies, passwords, etc. Another 3 hours. I should have just reformatted it.

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March 7, 2005

unclogging the network arteries...

Ok, so I am running my Retrospect backup over my home LAN from the new RAID box in the basement. I noticed that it had taken 12 hours and still had six hours to go to back up 100Gig on another computer I have on the wired 100mb lan. That seemed slow for some reason. So I checked the line speeds of each computer's network adaptor. One said connected at 100MB. The other (the RAID) box said 10MB. The Raid was connected to my Firebox SOHO 6 Firewalls | WatchGuard Technologies, Inc.. I had thought it was a 100mb part like the other 10/100 hubs and switches on the network, but NOOOO. It is a 10mb part so the LAN card autonegotiates to the lower 10MB and slows the whole LAN down by 10X. Ouch. A little rewiring later and I have connected the RAID to another hub running 10/100. Back in the fast lane! Don't let a slow network part slow your whole lan down!

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February 10, 2005

Out with the Bytecc, in with internal

So after hacking together the Bytecc external IDE USB drive case last year, I decided last night to put the drive into my desktop multimedia case (since it was plugged into it most of the time anyway).

It is also interesting to note what a difference a year makes. In Feb of 2004, the leading inexpensive harddrive interface was IDE with 133 paralell ATA interface. Today it is Serial ATA running over 150 with a larger buffer and 100gig more to play with. But I digress. Do you know that IDE was originally a floppy standard? SATA is a HUGE jump forward in speed and features for harddrives.

Anyway. So my Sony case had a nifty two drive IDE enclosure with an open spot and an IDE cable and power cable just sitting there. I took it out, unscrewed the drive from the Bytecc and screwed it into the sony enclosure. Now I had to figure out jumper settings for master/slave or cable select since I was going to have two drives on one cable. The other drive there is a Segate 125gig wich is partitioned into two logical drives (one for OS and one for data). So if I screw up the cable, the computer won't boot. A quick google for Segate Jumper settings and Maxtor Jumper settings takes me directly to the PDF manuals. I reset the jumpers and make the new Maxtor the master and the Segate the slave. Power up. No boot. I guess the BIOS is having a problem, maybe it is not set to Cable select. Or it can't boot from a slave drive. I can't switch them because the cable won't reach.

Rather than trying to figure all that out, I just go downstairs and get the Promise 133 parallel ATA PCI card that came with the Maxtor and plug it in with a new cable. Make the Maxtor and Segate the master again, rest the jumpers and reboot with both drives on separate controller cards. Windows boots fine, recognizes the new Promise card, auto installs the driver and recognizes the drive. Bob's your uncle. All done.

Now you can buy the ByTecc enclosure if you want (works great). Isn't e-bay the best?

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February 9, 2005

Case o rama

Somebody had to do it. Here: 4U Entry-Level is where I will be buying my next case. They have many options. Not all major brands, but many more options. New Egg is great, but hard to navigate the cases section specifically. I understand that many white box channel guys use the AIC 4U 16 bay case for RAID. Nice case.

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November 15, 2004

What a difference a Gig makes!

Received my new gig of RAM from the low price leader on memory on EBay today. I have a Sony Vaio desktop with a Pentium 4 running at 2.66GHz that had 256K of RAM. I have so much stuff installed it started running like a dog. And I also do music ripping and DVD editing on this machine. Things were so bad that I got the line by line disappear of windows when you closed them. So I get the gig and just plug it right into the open slot, power up the machine and Zappo! Things are moving! Night and day. I have my life back. And it only cost me $120 (25% of what the machine cost on e-bay).

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August 23, 2004

Hard drive prices drop (again) to $.41 per gb

Saw a 120gig drive for $49.99 this weekend at Fryes.

Max HD size (GB) Avg $/GB
Oct-99 27.2 14.670
Mar-01 75.1 7.060
Mar-02 160 1.880
Sep-02 160 1.880
Nov-02 250 1.200
Aug-03 250 1.000
Nov-03 250 0.562
Feb-04 250 0.556
May-04 250 0.500
Aug-04 300 0.520
Aug-04 300 0.417

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June 23, 2004

Your next computer poll results

The votes are in:

What will be your next computer?

Desktop 17 % (5 votes)
Laptop 62 % (18 votes)
Handheld (Win CE, etc.) 0 % (0 votes)
PDA (Palm, etc.) 3 % (1 votes)
Multifunciton phone (Blackberry, etc.) 6 % (2 votes)
Game box (Xbox, PS2, etc.) 0 % (0 votes)
Make my own 6 % (2 votes)
Other 3 % (1 votes)
Total votes 29

Looks like laptops are going to continue taking share from all other devices. I am surprised that no-one said a game box. Guess not enough true geeks are reading my site. I am leaning toward make my own just for the fun of it.

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May 13, 2004

Hard drive prices seem to be flattening out...

I have been tracking hard drive prices and the cost per gig for some time. It seems that they have bottomed out a bit. Or at least flattened. Since the middle of last year they have been in the 50-60 cents per gig range. With specials and promotions. There was a new low this month with a 200gig Maxtor ATA 7000rpm drive at Frys for $99.99, making it right at 50 cents per gig. But the same drive in the larger size, 250gig was $159.99, a more healthy 62 cents per gig. So for the newest, largest, you still pay more. Looks like we are in a holding pattern for awhile. As a consumer I am waiting for the next inflection point to drive prices down. As a shareholder of Segate, I am happy prices have stablized. Ah, choices... Here is the full graph

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March 12, 2004

Broadcom has new chip for home NAS

I have been searching for an affordable home NAS solution. To date I have basically cobbled together my own from old PCs and stuff. But now Broadcom has a chipset that should drive the cost of stand-alone NAS into the consumer range. Thanks to Linley Group for this:

Last week Broadcom announced production availability of a new storage controller, the BCM4780. Based on a 300MHz MIPS core, the 4780 targets network storage (NAS) products for the home or small office that can retail for as little as $99 (excluding the necessary hard drives), enabling secure file- and printer-sharing. Unlike Broadcom's home-gateway processors, the 4780 includes all software for a production-ready NAS device. In million-unit volumes, the part lists for $20.

The 4780 reuses many building blocks that appear in Broadcom's home-gateway processors: a 10/100 Ethernet MAC, 200Mbps AES crypto engine, and USB and PCI interface blocks; multichannel SATA functionality, however, is left to a third-party PCI device. Unlike IDT's RC32434 processor, the 4780 lacks authentication hardware for digital rights management (DRM). Even with these shortcomings, the 4780's bundled software makes the offering distinctive. Installation is simplified by auto discovery, together with support for Windows, Mac, and Linux environments. Support for RAID 0, 1, and 10, real-time encryption, and up to four hot-swappable drives brings enterprise-class features to the home and small business. And support for multiple video streams (up to three HDTV streams or seven DVD streams) enables the killer app for network-attached storage in the digital home: a video jukebox.

The NAS offering complements Broadcom's extensive home-targeted product portfolio--cable, satellite, and DSL modems; WLAN clients; gateway processors; and video decoders. As transistor budgets grow, Broadcom's aggressive integration strategy is bringing enterprise technology to the digital home, enabling new product categories. Broadcom is likely to see stiff competition from AMD, Intel, and Marvell; it will fare well if it continues to favor the whole-product approach exemplified by the 4780.

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March 1, 2004

Time to test the external hard drives

Tong Family Blog: Disk Benchmarking Thanks Rich for the pointer to a good test tool!

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February 16, 2004

External Hard-drive case installation

So I had these three WD 200GB IDE ATA 133 hard drives that I bought on Ebay for a song. I had them installed in an old desktop case running as RAID0 doing back-up for my LAN. But the old case took a digger (the fan and CPU) and fried one of the drives (the one with the OS on it of course). So I have two left and no case to put them in. So I figured to get an external case and just plug it into the USB port. It was amazingly complex. There are different drive heights, some cases support only ATA 66, not 133, some only support drives up to 80gb, some are USB 1.1 only. Now with USB 1.1 being 1mb/sec transfer and 2.0 standard 12mb/sec and USB 2.0 Hi-Speed being 440mb/sec (see all the details here) (thanks rich). After allot of searching and emailing different vendors, I settled on the Bytecc (korea) ME-720 series that "supports up to 300gb drives". $38.99 from Extreme PC Gear. Now I could have bought a pre-assembled one, external case, hard-drive and all for about $200 at Ebay, but what fun would that be?

The folks at XPCGear were nice about pointing me to the right case and shipping on-time. The fun started when I got the cases and opened the box. Try to go to the ByTecc web site. First IE asks if you want to download the Korean fonts. They don't have an English language site. No manufacturer support. The "user manual" was obviously written by someone for whom english was a second language. But all the parts were there, and I figured myself to be handy, so I started in. I started by screwing on the mounting brackets to the drive. A procedure for which the user manual doesn't spare even one page. I guess they assume you are smart enough to figure that out yourself. First problem was that in the little baggie were two different kinds of screws that were not readily obvious (nor noted in the instructions). Course thread and fine thread. nary the two shall mix. After trying to screw on a mounting bracket with a fine grain thread, I figured out that the course grain ones were for screwing things into the drive itself. The fine ones were for screwing the mounting bracket to the base of the enclosure. The factory supplied screws were flat heads and they bottomed out in the drive holes before securing the mounting brackets. So I dug up some countersunk head coarse thread screws from another mounting bracket and used those. The beveled heads did a good job of keeping the mounting bracket in place.

Having the mounting bracket on, next was plug in the drive to the case. This was straight forward since there were only two plugs, one power and one IDE of very different configuration so you couldn't confuse them. One silly thing was that the power plug came from the factory upside down from the way you mount the drive, so you have to twist the cable to get it to fit. An annoyance, but not terribly. The mounting bracket fit snugly into the enclosure base. Two more FINE thread screws later the hard disk was secured to the case. I then plugged in the power and USB cable just to see the thing power up. There is a handy power switch on the back. The drive spun and the light flicked green/red/green. All systems go. So I figured to put the rest of the case together before plugging in the drive to my computer. As I was doing it I thought it might be stupid in case there was some problem I had to get to the drive, but I was on a mission. The top half fit fine with the bottom. Then you clip on these two rails on the sides to hold them together. A front face-plate is held in place by the two side rails as well. I put mine on upside-down (with the air vents on the wrong side) but only because I wasn't looking at the picture. Not sure it really matters.

So with the drive in the case and everything assembled, I plugged in the running drive to my USB port on my IBM X20 laptop running Windows XP in it's basestation. I plugged it into a USB port on the laptop, not the base station. There are two USB ports on the base station. In one I have the Microsoft BlueTooth keyboard adaptor plugged in. In the other, I had an external CDrom. Initially when I plugged in the external hard-drive, nothing happened. I mean nothing. No "new hardware found" message from Windows. Curious I thought. I had to go upstairs and get a coffee to think this one over. During the pouring I remembered a similar situation last year trying to plug in lots of USB devices. In the end of that debacle, I figured out that when the laptop is in its docking station, it thinks the one in the laptop and one on the back of the base station are one in the same, so it only recognizes one or the other, but not both. So I unplugged the external harddrive AND the external CDROM. Then I plugged in the external harddrive into the laptop USB port (now the base station had one free port). Windows complained about a Hi-Speed USB device in a non-Hi-Speed port, but went ahead. I don't know if that means my external device is USB 2.0 Hi-Speed and the port is USB 2.0 normal or the port is USB 1.1. I haven't tested the access speed yet. Anyway getting ahead of myself. So Windows says "new hardware found" and identifies it as "USB MASS STORAGE DEVICE" as the user manual said it would (in it's one page Windows XP installation guide). God forbid I was running 98 or ME where you actually have to install drivers from the CDROM.

OK, peachy I say. The user manual says the drive will just automatically show up in "my Computer". I go to "My Computer". I have my good old faithful "C:" and nutt'n else. Hummm. In these waters the "user manual" was totally useless. I put my coffee on it. I put my glass of water on the CD of drivers. Now I couldn't remember if this drive that I was using had previously been formatted, or was fresh out of the box. I go poking around "troubleshooting" in Windows. Yes the device manager says the device is working. Driver is up to date. Through no fault of the "troubleshooting" guides nor the user manual, I remember something about Administrative Tools under the Control Panel. Where you go for defragmentation and all that stuff. Computer Management looks like the right one, so off I go. Again there is Device Manager. And my friend Disk Defragmentor. Disk Management looks promising, so down goes the mouse click. Now in this view, I see my "C:" drive on "drive0" and on "drive1" is something, but no partitions or anything. I guess this is the one which was never installed. A few more random clicks (ending in a right click) figures out how to initialize the drive. After that, it shows up as 186.4GB of unformatted storage. Now the WD site explains why a drive sold as 200GB actually only has 186.4GB of usable space, so I won't go into it here. Actually it is a small miracle that the full drive is available as there are plenty of warnings on the WD box about Windows not seeing more than 133GB of drive and how special drivers are required. No such problem here. Just gotta format it. So I set it off to format NTFS. The Format wants to assign the drive "D:" but I know my external CDROM is that, so I give it "H:".

Format goes fine. I drag and drop some files. They copy there and are fine. I don't check the speed, but it seems slow, so I think it is running at USB 1.1 speed. Gotta figure out that later. For now, the current task is done. I like the drive case and installation of the second one went WAY faster. That hard disk had already been formatted, so all I had to do was install it in the case and plug it into the USB port. It showed up as drive H: right away.

I would recommend these drive cases but only for those who like to tinker. I should have taken Johnlu's advice about not going cheap. The case is not cheap, it works fine, but the installation stuff is not designed very well. You have to tinker. Maybe a more main-stream vendor would have a better set of instructions. But I like to tinker so these enclosures are fine. I may even get some more!

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January 15, 2004

1TB external for $1,199!

Wow, you can now buy 1TB for cheap! Lacie 1TB. I don't need it for two years at which point I bet it is less than $500 bucks.

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December 15, 2003

SWOT analysis of HP PC blade announcement

This is a fwd of a fwd. It may be copywritten, but the fwds were taken off, so I can't attribute correctly. A good analysis though.

SWOT analysis

HP has a huge desktop user base and it's also had experience in the thin client sector. Its existing blade servers, thin client access devices and rapid deployment software are clearly suited to be re-purposed towards desktop consolidation.

The use of lower performance Transmeta chips in order to achive high density and lower power feels like the re-visiting of past mistakes from the early days of blade servers. Users aren't usually satisfied with slower desktop performance.

With a clear story of return on investment and easier re-provisioning and management, HP hopes to get larger users looking at broader Adaptive Enterprise adoptions involving its servers and utility computing services.

Other blade server vendors can do the same kind of re-purposing without too much difficulty if they see the concept catching on.

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Replace your enterprise desktop with a blade in the data center?

Heard an interesting idea today. What if you could consolidate desktop PCs in the enterprise into the data center? Leave just the monitor, keyboard, mouse and any USB devices on the desktop. Would you be able to achieve similar benefits that server consolidation efforts have achieved? The idea is that you may be able to actually buy fewer blades than you have PC desktops today because you can model usage patterns and do some smart resource sharing. When you layer on shared storage to a SAN or something the benefits could be greater.

HP announced a product last week in this area. They have a new "thin client" on the desktop which is basically embedded XP on a bare bones box with no local storage or processing, just I/O. Then there is XP on the blade. Microsoft must love this because now they get TWO Windows licenses per desktop! HP basically uses Microsoft Terminal Server 2003. Lots of links on that below.

I am not sure the increasing the OS licensing revenue is the right way to go here. The software revenue is already too large of a percentage of the desktop and growing (as hardware shrinks). And what happens to laptops? The percentage of laptops vs desktops in corporate America is growing. Your next desktop is probably a laptop. In many ways, this is a step backward to centralized computing and dumb terminals. With the Terminal Server solution, I am sure there are latency issues over typical Ethernet. How much of a network upgrade is required? Add that cost in. I am sure some companies will pop up that hope to do a better job of latency and functionality in such a super thin client space, but I don't know if it is a good place as a VC to invest. I personally haven't used a desktop in over 7 years. Laptops rule...

Clearcube Web Site:

HP Announcement:,10801,87786,00.html


H-P to Sell Computer 'Blades'

Hewlett-Packard Co. plans to announce it will sell thin, stackable personal-computer "blades" as part of an effort to reduce corporate computing costs and better compete against Dell Inc. and International Business Machines Corp. Blades are an important part of the computer-server market, but H-P is the first major computer maker to offer PC blades as well. H-P said a computer user would have only a keyboard, monitor and mouse at a desk, along with a small access device to connect with the PC itself, which would be stored remotely. The complete set-up is expected to cost about $1,500, or about the same as a traditional PC. But special software would allow the PCs to be assigned to users as needed, reducing the total number of PCs needed. H-P, Palo Alto, Calif., estimated the three-year cost of managing a blade PC to be about half the cost of managing a traditional PC.

--The Wall Street Journal

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November 18, 2003

Here is how you join the Dell Affiliates program

This is not easy to find off the Dell homepage. Dell Business Affiliates Program

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November 14, 2003

Hard drive prices continue down

I have been keeping track of hard drive prices per gig since 1999. Frys has a 160 gig hard drive on sale for 89.99, setting a new standard for low price: $.56! It is going below a double nickel. hard drive graph.bmp. I should do the projection out over time.

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October 31, 2003

The personal portable server cont.

I have been thinking about a personal portable server. A couple I have seen lately are based on these USB flash memory devices, sometimes with a thumb print device. Most don't have software to truly sync, or enough capacity.

My friend Troy sent this which is a major step forward if it is made:

MetaPad is an ultraportable PC HD and CPU capable of docking to any number of input or display devices. The concept solves data synchronization problems, doesn't make you buy a brand new PC for your PDA, and is much more convenient than hauling a laptop or being limited to a handheld. Take the 3x5x.75" core, dock it anywhere.

I saw the initial announcement, then heard IBM wasn't going to develop it.,16106,388085,00.html

but these folks licensed MetaPad from IBM:

Having an ultraportable chassis (9"), a fat notebook chassis (16"), and a desktop chassis could hit mainstream affordability. The display is about half the cost of a laptop, so given $1100 laptops, we could see $500
(incremental cost) for a new form factor.


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October 9, 2003

New names for gigabytes

Turns out that the difference between base 10 and base 2 math is at the heart of much confusing in computing. Not so much for the computer scientists and geeks used to base 2 math, but more when it gets into the hands of the marketers who only understand (barely) base 10 math. For example, when you say a GigaByte of data, do you mean 1 000 000 000 B, (base 10 math) or do you mean 1 073 741 824 B (base 2 math)? Turns out hardware guys (marketers) mean the former and software guys (geeks) mean the later.

On of the upshots of this is a recent movement to change the names we call things so that base 2 and base 10 have their own unique names. Definitions of the SI units: The binary prefixes So a gigabyte GB would be 1 000 000 000 B (base 10) and we would have a new name gibibyte GiB which would be 1 073 741 824 B (base 2). It is about time.

now I can sleep

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The mysteries of hard drive capacity

I recently have the joy of installing two spanking new 200gig hard drives into an extra tower system I have under my desk at home. Now this experience was fraught with lots of fun that only tech geeks like myself could love including long strolls through the BIOS, endless jumper position fiddling, multiple card slot swaps, various cable positions, and the ever joyous Windows configuration. Most of this happy work went along just fine (meaning it took a long time to do and was very complicated but intellectually rewarding with lots of "ah ha!" moments) with the notable exception that Windows only understood 120gigs of the 200gig drive. Never fear says the manufacturer, just download this little thing, reconfigure your BIOS, set a couple switches and all weill be well. All is well with one drive, but the other still looks small to windows.

This morning, I ran across a very helpful white paper which explains the many various hard drive size problem quite well. Worth the read.

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September 2, 2003

Dell for replacement APC batteries

I was woken up at 2:00am by my car alarm going off. Yes I thought it was a false alarm, but the thing went on longer than normal, so I got up to take a look. The window was busted out and the perp grabbed my radar detector and a bunch of CDs. Just as I was assessing the damage, my APC Pro 500 went off beeping like mad. "replace battery". I guess it is time 5 years into it. So I get to a searching and what do you know, <a title="Dell - Software & Peripherals for Home and Home Office" href="">Dell </a> has the best price on APC replacement batteries. And these are factory APC batteries, not "OEM compatible" ones. Who woulda thunk?

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