Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dual booting Windows Xp

This is part of the main project. I am trying to replace a drawer booting system with a multi booting system without to much difficulty. Background: in the past I've had a 3 computer system.
  1. Computer 1: Main computer, web sites, email, etc.
  2. Computer 2: Storage, uploading pictures, etc.
  3. Computer 3: Experimental installs, testing software, etc.
However, computer 1 was also a multi boot drawer system which enabled me to have an unlimited amount of operating systems to boot from. At the time I started this overhaul, I had 4 drawers: windows xp games, windows xp productivity, windows vista(with windows 7 installed on top in the beta testing program) and Linux. But I had problems that I traced back to the drawer system(mechanical, not software related) and decided for stability, so I set about setting up a dual boot windows xp system(productivity and games) on 2 different hard drives. Mind you, this was at the end of upgrading the hardware. I already had the motherboard, video card, 1 hard drive, the operating system and drivers installed and working. My first thought was to just put in another drive, install XP to that(it would have been D:) and then windows "should" know what to do. Well, the new motherboard only has 1 IDE channel on it and you can't boot from an add in card(not this one anyway) so, time to get tricky.

Tricky in this instance means, clone the c drive. The best free software for doing this is what Seagate gives you when you by their hard drive. The reason I like it is the versatility. Most of these utilities help you install and use your new drive. Most new drives are bigger than the old ones because this is America, Jack, home of bigger is better. Most software designed for this purpose has one limitation, that the target drive is bigger the original. Not Seagates though! The reason this is important is poor planning on my part. Yep. My "c" drive is bigger(250 GB) than my "d" drive(120GB). Who knew?

Another fine point to make is this process is fast and installing windows is like trying to get ketchup out of a bottle by turning it upside down. Just the install is maybe an hour and drivers and service packs can make it two. This took maybe ten minutes. Now, the final step is to alter your boot.ini file to look something like this:

[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="XP Home" /NoExecute=OptIn
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(1)partition(1)\WINDOWS="XP Home" /NoExecute=OptIn

Change only the stuff in RED! The 1 would be the second disk because nerds sometimes start counting from 0 instead of 1! The "XP Home" stuff needs to be different, something like"work" and "games". After that, if something doesn't work right, make sure that in the BIOS settings, you can boot from either of your hard disks in some kind of order.

The easy part of computer project 1

Part of this project was to take everything out of one case and put it into another case. This is doable! The only thing that should concern you is all the connections between the two cases. Beyond that, as long as the power supply in the new case is the same or larger, no problem. I'm a third of the way home! Yay!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

USS Cod tour

Went with the boy's from work(Jim, Dan, Joe and Norm) yesterday and toured The USS Cod, a world war 2 era submarine located in between Burke Lakefront Airport and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

After that we walked about a half mile or so along East 9th down to Vincenza's (reviewed here and here) on Prospect by East 4th and had lunch. Everybody agreed the food was good.

When we were done, we walked out the side entrance into the Colonial Marketplace next door and oohed and aahed.

Since we were already acting like tourists we headed down East 4th past the restaurants and Pickwick and Frolic to Euclid Ave. took a left, went past the House of Blues and hit Public Square. More pictures can be found here (Norms) and here (Mine) and here at Dans site.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Emijj

Spent some time helping The Emijj get his myspace right. All set now.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Computer rehab: #1 computer

The new motherboard is in! The operating system(xp) is installed and I took some pictures. This picture sucks, but, what? Since the o.s. is installed and the hardware works, I can now add what other hard drives and optical drives I want.
The only problem is I'm trying to replace a drawer system booting option with a boot manager option. The drawer system removes the boot drive completely from the system(reducing the chance of virus related problems) while boot manager options don't boot off a separate drive or partition, they don't always hide it(protect it) either. I will provide pictures of a drawer system and was quite happy with it, till problems occurred, traceable to it. The solution I'm looking for is to be able to boot to 2 xp installs(games and productivity) and win 7. My ideal setup is 3 computers, 1 multiboot, 1 xp, and 1 purposed for experimental software and trials(could be multiboot as well). I am looking at boot-US as a solution at least for part of this problem.

Upcoming and ongoing projects

  1. Computer rehab
  2. Fix up Eric's MySpace page
  3. Resume posting to
  4. Resume maintaining jimzcom, torsomurders
First, computer rehab. Upgrade one computer and make two others better using spare parts. Doable, but time consuming.

Second, help a friend. Eric needs tech help with The Emijj, his MySpace page. Doable!

Three is doable, but easier after one.

Four depends on one!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Walking the dog

Took Mutzie and us for a walk today at Squires Castle. We Did about 3 miles the day before at CVNRA and you can tell we are pushing her limits. Squires Castle is a Cleveland, Ohio landmark of sorts, because most everybody has heard of it, but nobody knows how to get to it!

2009 Ravenna Balloon A-Fair

Yesterday we went to the 31st Balloon A-Fair in Ravenna, Ohio. First time ever to a hot air balloon event. We spent a couple hours doing the fair thing, people watching and funnel cakes and such. The actual balloon launch was at 5:30 and there were hundreds of cars going down route 59 to the launch site. We missed it and also learned a couple things. One, hot air balloon viewing increases in popularity the farther you get from the city and two, either get there way early because of the huge amounts of traffic or find a really good spot to view and take pictures from. Sadly, we didn't do either one but did have a good time. Mary did get some good pictures from the passenger side of the car but not what we were looking for. If you click here you can see the rest of our pictures. Next year we'll do better, you'll see.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

New Motherboard, old case, dead power supply

Purchased a new motherboard, MSI G31M3-F V2 775 mATX. If you know your stuff you see I shop the bargains. If you're a gamer, I hear the snickering and don't care.
Now, down to business. I have 3 computers I use most of the time and I think some of my problems could be heat related. So I decided to put the new motherboard into the best case I have. Since this case was in operation, it was time to clean it out (all computers accumulate dust). So I broke it down(took everything out) and, after going outside, cleaned it with compressed air. Next, I took the best power supply of the 3 computers and did the same. Well, I killed my power supply! How? I had just read something about stopping the fan with a pencil or something before blasting it with compressed air for safety reasons. I didn't follow this advice(having done this maybe a hundred times) and after I was done, it was dead. The problem is that any motor is also a generator and when I blasted it with the air, it spun so fast it created an electric current and blew something out. It's a good thing I had a spare on the shelf.

On the left, the dead PSU(power supply unit). Note the two fans. It would have taken a super human effort to have stopped two fans at once. Shortly after this picture was taken, we burned the remains and tossed them into Lake Erie without a second thought, until we saw the flashing lights in the mirror.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Change of plan

Since I last posted, my digital life has changed. No, I have not won Blogger Idol(does that exist?). But my main computer blew up on me so I'm in the middle of upgrading my main computer out of necessity when originally I was going to just document how to do it normally. I started this blog on Saturday, September 12, 2009 and did some posts on how to prepare to reinstall Windows XP on a new motherboard. I went shopping on Saturday, came home with some stuff from Microcenter and the next morning shook the mouse and got "Windows could not start....". I am in the middle of fixing this and will post accordingly.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

My hardware

Let me get this out of the way: The title of this posting means your hardware, not mine. The parts of your computer, get it? I'm putting this up as part of a larger project and this is the second step. Lets get to it, 'cause this is doable!

First we need system information. In windows XP, we click Start>My Computer>view system information>hardware>device manager (if I'm going to fast I'll type slower). We'll only deal with what's important so this will be as painless as possible. Click "display adapters". Note what it say's (mine say's "NVidia GeForce 6200"). Next, click "network adapters". Mine say's " D-Link DFE 530 TX + PCI adapter". Make notes! Okay boy's and girls, if you have it, click "SCSI and RAID controllers". Mine says "Silicon Image SiI 3114 SATARaid controller" (side note: SCSI is pronounced "scuzzy", and RAID is not a spray that kills bugs). Lastly, click on "sound, video and game controllers". Your looking for a clue here folks, it's not always clear. My hardware is " NVIDIA(R) nForce(TM) MCP Audio Processing Unit" (a different computer has "MPU-401 Compatible Device"). Notes! One last thing. Click on Processors. If it say's "Intel blah, blah, blah, you're in good shape. Me? Not so good. Mine is a "AMD Athlon(tm) XP 2400+".

So, the list so far:
  • display adapter: NVidia GeForce 6200
  • network adapter: D-Link DFE 530 TX + PCI adapter
  • SCSI and RAID controller: Silicon Image SiI 3114 SATARaid controller
  • sound, video and game controller: NVIDIA(R) nForce(TM) MCP Audio Processing Unit
  • processor: AMD Athlon(tm) XP 2400+
One of the reasons for wanting to know what hardware we have in our systems is to obtain drivers for them. Let's do that!

Let's get the easy part out of the way. For the display adapter(video card), network adapter(NIC) and SCSI and RAID controller(sata) there's no problem. We simply go to the respective websites and look for "support" and "drivers". NVidia, D-Link and Silicon image all provide what we need(sometimes you need to look under "legacy" if your hardware is old like mine). Sound, video and game controllers(sound cards) are a little trickier and one of reasons it's a pain to downgrade from windows vista to windows xp (but it can be done). Sound cards are more varied but following these methods should provide you with some success.

Okay, here's the problem with my processor being AMD. It's the chipset, baby! They work fine and you never know if you have one untill it's time to reinstall your operating system. With an intel cpu, you generally have an intel chipset or maybe ATI (if I'm wrong, tell me) and with AMD it could be Via, Sis, Ati, NVidia. With Intel, just go to their website and look for support. With Amd, it might be better to pick up some numbers off the motherboard and go google.

Why all the fuss about chipsets? The CPU talks to the chipset and the chipset talks to everything else. It's the main link between ram, the cpu, the video card and hard drive(s). So, it's important, and, it seems, easier to install or reinstall if it's intel based. I am not biased in any way, but have had some trying times installing some NVidia or AMD related hardware.

Preserving your files

This is part of a larger project but an important step.

This is really about backing up your data so you could follow these steps and burn your music, pictures etc. to cd or dvd, transfer them to an external hard drive or even a key-chain or flash drive. The main areas of concern are: pictures, music, documents, things you've created, game saves, email and favorites or bookmarks. It helps to try to stay organized before it's time to back up your stuff but this can be your organizing event.

Pictures, music etc. :
Most people have their files scattered all over their computer and the first task is to gather them and store them somewhere. I have multiple hard drives and I've created a folder (DFI documents, named for the motherboard in the computer) on F:\ to keep them in. Within this folder are subfolders named: music, firefox, desktop and so forth. I have a limited as well as a administrative account and have cleaned off my desktops in both, putting the files in, you guessed it, the folder named desktop. I followed this same patttern with music.

Firefox (version 3.5) has a feature that allows you to export your bookmarks in one fell swoop. Click bookmarks then click on "organize bookmarks". At the top you'll see "import and backup". Click that and on the drop down menu click "export HTML". You'll get a dialog box where you can save all your bookmarks as a web page. This is what I did. As for Internet Explorer, I looked but didn't see anything fun to use for this purpose but there is a way. In Firefox, again click on bookmarks, then "organize bookmarks", then "import and backup" and finally click on "import HTML". In the box that appears you can see how to import from I.E. and also import your bookmark file when you're done reinstalling or whatever.

Most people get their email through web based accounts (I do) so this shouldn't be a concern and if you're using Outlook Express just look for a option to export files or get G mail and send them to yourself.

One other way to preserve your data would be free online storge. Create an account and upload your most important stuff in case of a catastrophe. On this note, there is no predictor as to when your computer will fail, just that at some point your data will be in danger. One of the best ways to keep it safe is to have at least one duplicate or more. If you burn to optical media(cd's and dvd's) test them to make sure they can be read.

Reasons vary, but mine for doing all this is part of a larger project that involves:

  1. Preserving files from a computer.
  2. Obtaining drivers for hardware.
  3. Installing a new motherboard, video card, cpu and ram in this computer.
  4. Reinstalling windows xp.
  5. Restoring the preserved files.
  6. Preserving files on a second computer.
  7. Obtaining drivers for hardware.
  8. Installing the old motherboard, video card, cpu and ram in the second computer.
  9. Reinstalling windows xp.
  10. Restoring the preserved files.