Blog entries tagged with "vista"

A year with Windows Vista

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009 at 10:19 pm

It has now been a year since I started using Windows Vista on my home desktop. My verdict: it’s not as bad as people say.

But I can’t think of anything in Vista that I actually use in comparison with XP. My typical complement of applications include Firefox, Thunderbird, Putty and VLC. I could even say that if it weren’t for the comparative ease of things TV recording, video editing, DVD burning with windows applications, I could even be running Linux.

So, apart from my initial issue with DVD burning and the later issue with Foxit Reader, it has been solid. I put this down to running it on new hardware (plenty of RAM) and keeping the system simple by not installing unnecessary programs. In fact keeping the system simple is advice than can be applied to any operating system.

However, it is not without some annoyances:

  • Moving, copying and deleting files through explorer is slow. Especially over the network or on USB drives. It isn’t that the transfer speed is slow, it is the pre and post actions that take ages. In comparison performing the same actions from the command line are quick, in particular deleting files. This led me to find TeraCopy which is a must for Vista, it is also handy under XP.
  • I regularily get ‘ghost’ files. These are files that I have deleted or moved through explorer, but hang around (except are not readable) until a reboot.

In short there is nothing wrong with a properly setup Vista install, but if I hadn’t been given a free (but legit) copy of Vista I wouldn’t have bothered.

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Foxit Reader and Vista’s User Account Control

Sunday, April 26th, 2009 at 4:43 pm

For a while now I have been using Foxit Reader for PDF files instead of Adobe Acrobat, primarily because it doesn’t have all of the bloat.

However for a lot of that time whenever I opened a PDF I would get the User Account Control prompt from Vista asking me to authoise the action. I did look into it when it first started happening, but wasn’t able to find a solution.

Instead of being in HTML, the road rules are only available in PDF and the UAC prompt became really annoying when I was looking up the rules for my previous post.

An upgrade to the latest version didn’t fix the problem, so I looked into it again and found a thread – Foxit Reader and Vista’s UAC – in the Foxit forums and post #16 gave the following:

  1. Find FoxitReader.exe in the Program Files folder (C:\Program Files\Foxit Software\Foxit Reader)
  2. Right-Click on the Foxit Reader.exe file and select Properties.
  3. Under Compatibility tab, under Privilege Level, click Show settings for all users.
  4. Uncheck Run this program as an administrator.

I no longer get the UAC prompt when opening a PDF.

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Don’t run SATA optical drives under AHCI

Sunday, July 6th, 2008 at 5:43 pm

One of the first things I did when building my new computer was to switch the SATA controller to AHCI. You know, because it is supposed to be better than the IDE emulation mode.

It wasn’t, at least for me…

Shortly after getting it all up and running I found that the system would regularily lock up. But only when burning a DVD which led to a lot of coasters. Thinking it was a driver problem I made sure I was running the latest ones, which partially fixed the problem. Now the burn would still fail, but the system wouldn’t lock up. Instead the drive would just disconnect.

Now I thought it was a hardware problem so I tried different cables, different power connectors and even a different drive (but still a Pioneer). The problem didn’t go away.

At first I researched problems with SATA and optical drives. Many pages ended up pointing to fix (KB928253) that seemed promising. But the fix for that was included in SP1, which I was already running, so I turned to another possibility that involved deleting the UpperFilter and LowerFilter registry entries (KB314060). This seemed like it might be relevant as I had had problems with installing burning software. But continuing the trend, this also didn’t work.

Last weekend I decided to do a fresh install. Partly to see if that would fix the problem, but mostly so I could start with a good install that I hadn’t experimented with. At first I thought this worked. Until the second DVD I tried to burn.

Which brought me to a solution I had discounted. During my research I had found pages talking about how SATA optical drives don’t behave properly under AHCI and the fix was to run them under IDE emulation. I couldn’t see why a recent SATA optical drive wouldn’t work properly under the native SATA mode, haven’t they bothered to implement the spec properly? Or maybe the controller doesn’t?

It has now been a week since I changed back to IDE emulation mode and it as been stable. I haven’t noticed any difference in performance so I’m not really sure what the fuss about AHCI being better is all about.

Aparrently there are motherboards that let you run part of the SATA controller in AHCI and part in IDE emulation. My board, an ASUS P5K Pro, does not support that. But I don’t think that would have affected my choice.

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Returning to Intel (and trying Vista)

Sunday, May 25th, 2008 at 3:13 pm

Yesterday I upgraded my Windows desktop with a new processor (a shiny Core 2 Duo, motherboard, RAM, hard drive, DVD burner and power supply (actually swapping around the one I got for my linux box). What didn’t change was the case, the second hard drive and the TV tuner card.

The first significant thing about this is that I have been running the previous processor and motherboard, an AMD Athlon XP 2600+, for almost five years (23 July 2003 to be precise). I can remember a time when computers moved so fast that they were pretty much unworkable after a few years. This shows that to actually do things (except the latest games) you do not need the latest and greatest hardware.

The second significant thing is that I also made the jump up to Vista. After I turned off some of the bigger annoyances (google is your friend for this) it appears to be quite workable. On the old system this would have been a nightmare.

When I stopped to think about it I realised that while my linux boxes have all had Intel processors (Pentium 90, Pentium 233 MMX, Pentium 3 667, Celeron 1.7, and the current Pentium 4 2.4) this is the first Intel processor in my Windows desktop since the first computer I bought on my own, a Pentium 133 in 1996. After that I had a single Cyrix processor (166) followed by a series of AMD processors (K6-2 300, K6-2 250, Duron 650, Athlon XP 1800+, to the Athlon XP 2600+).

I also have to decide what to do with the old components which are enough to make a perfectly workable system. My previous method of using them to upgrade my parents computer doesn’t work since I made their computer an ex-lease small form factor desktop.

I am also now thinking about whether to upgrade Preston, my linux server, as well. In addition to the performace increase, properly supported SATA ports will be a necessity the next time I get around to upgrading the storage.

Meanwhile I will return to installing programs, but only as I need to use them.

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