Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Win7 New Install + FireFox New Install = Pain

Recently I started playing around with the Windows 7 Professional discs that I had pre-ordered several months ago. While the 64bit version installed fine, and is running fine, on the Core I7 processor that Intel sent me coupled with a DFI board from Hades, I can't actually say the same for my older Asus M2R32-MVP motherboard coupled with a Phenom 9600. While installation on the Intel system was blazing fast, and relatively painless, the install on the AMD system has been less than pleasant. From the start the installer just seemed to be taking twice as long for each operation, and I finally presumed a hard-drive problem. I'm on my third hard-drive now, and I've actually gone to the 32bit edition of Win7 over the 64bit version, as anytime I tried to run the Windows System Rating, to see if there was an issue with hard-drive speed that Windows would report, the 64bit edition blue-screened.

Since both the Intel and AMD systems are running at overclocked rates, I turned the overclock off since the blue-screen error said something about clocks. System still blue-screened when trying to run the system rating, and even basic operations like Web-browser and file management were visibly stuttering.

So I've switched to the 32bit version, and honestly, it's not that much better. Now, I've got both Mepis 8.0.10 and Windows Xp on other drives for this AMD system, and neither one of them seems to hang or take so long in each task. With just FireFox and IE open, the Windows Task Manager is reporting an astounding 918 MB of data is being used. In the processors I have 48,000k to firefox, 31k to explorere.exe, 23k to iexplore.exe, 21k to a different iexplore.exe, 15k to a dwm.exe, 14k to yet another Iexplore.exe, 7k to Catalyst Control Center, and then down to the rest of the system processors. What's weirder to me is that I've only got one Internet Explorer Window Open, and yet the system has 3 different executable entries?


Anyways, when I got to the point of installing Firefox, I ran into a slight issue. Interent Explorer wouldn't run the file directly, I had to save it to the hard-drive. Upon launching the FireFox installer I was greated with a systems permission pop-up, with the system asking me to either log-in as Administrator or use the current username. Attempting to install with the username that I'm under, the only username I gave during the actual physical installation of the remixed Vista SP2 Operating System, met with failure.

So I tried the trick of using control USERPASSWORDS2 in the white search box in the start menu. Not surprisingly, this command has been disabled from this shortcut.

I wound up having to type in CMD into the white search box, hit enter to bring up the command terminal, and only then could I enter control USERPASSWORDS2 and get power user version of the System Accounts.

Then I had to go to the Advanced Tab in the User Accounts Box, and click on the ADVANCED button under Advanced User Management.

Then, under the new Window, I had to go into Users and actually ENABLE the Adminstrator login.

Then I had to go all the way back to the original User Accounts box, re-open it with control USERPASSWORDS2... and finally I could set a password for my administrator account.


After these hoops I tried to install FireFox again, this time using my new Adminstrator login... and it worked.

Why do I have a feeling that this behavior was intentional on the part of Microsoft to prevent people from using FireFox on Win7?


Also as a note, the Advanced user control window can also be accessed through the Control Panel's Administrative Tools under Computer Management. However, depending on the version of Windows in use, these tools may not be exposed through Administrative Tools.


The 32bit version finally ran the system rating... Which was a bit odd. The Phenom 9600 scored a 7.1 calculation speed from Win7... versus the Core I7 920's 6.8. The Phenom 9600 scored a 5.5 on the memory test, while the Core I7 took a 7.3. The Phenom with it's crossfired RadeonHD 4850's took desktop and gaming performance ratings of 6.9. The Core I7 with it's crossfired RadeonHD 3780's took desktop and graphics performance ratings of 7.0. Where as the Core I7 took a 5.9 disk drive speed, the Phenom 9600... didn't. According to Windows, my Asus M2R32-MVP took a drive speed rating of 2.4.

So, it does appear that there is a driver issue or otherwise with Windows 7 on the older ATi board. Which is really depressing.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Sansa e280: Key Locked, System Shutdown

For the past, well, while now, I've been using a Sansa c250 2gb as my portable music player. I had bought the c250 because it was really cheap from 3btech.net, and supported Rockbox. The Rockbox firmware also unlocked some capabilities of the hardware that Sandisk wouldn't enable in the default firmware, such as support for MicroSDHC cards. The default firmware topped at 2gb MicroSD cards, while the Rockbox firmware offers support for up to 32gb cards. Only, recently, I sat on the player damaging the screen. As a refurb unit, Sandisk wasn't willing to repair the unit, or allow me to purchase replacement parts.

So I started keeping an eye out for another media player. Recently 3btech offered an e260 4gb player for $40, which also is supported by Rockbox, but the unit wasn't actually in stock, and according to an email back from 3btech, wouldn't be in stock for a while, if at all. So I started searching around and found that TigerDirect was offering an e280 8gb player for $50. While the $50 price tag was a bit more than I had intended to spend, it was hard to ignore double the storage space for what was not double the price of the e260, or quadruple the price of the e250, the 2gb model which TD had for around $30.

So I bought it, and it arrived today, and I ran into a strange problem. SanDisk ships their players with the HOLD button enabled. This of course prevents accidental jostling or mishandling from activating the player in the box, since the battery comes pre-installed.

However, after turning off the HOLD button, I still got the message Key Locked, System Shutdown whenever I turned the player on.

I'm still not sure how I got around this, but I tried forcing the player to start in the firmware recovery mode, which is accomplished by holding down the RECORD button and hitting the power button. While in firmware recovery mode I hooked the player up to my main Mepis 8 system and verified that the 16mb root file was visible and mountable. I got some message on the screen about how the firmware recovery had worked, and upon disconnecting the e280, turning it off, and turning it back on... the default firmware loaded up normally.

So, I don't know if this will help anybody else searching for problems with the e200 series and Key Locked, System Shutdown, but somehow it worked for me.


And, update, it seems that the Hold Key itself is a little buggy. Over the weekend I took the player out of hold, but the lights wouldn't come on... jiggled the hold button, and poof... it was working.

Which actually is sounding just about right for the build quality of Sandisk's equipment compared to the c2x0 units I've gone through.