Uninstall Windows 10 for Windows 7

Shortly after it debut, I installed Windows 10 on my Sager NP8690.  I was hoping Windows 10 would run well… this didn’t happen.  I’m not trying to bash Windows 10, many seem to like it.  For me the experience was a little meh.  I still prefer mac OS and my iMac, but I’m running out of space (too many pictures and videos taken with my GoPro Hero 4 Silver).  So what about my really cool iPad 3?  It is so slow with iOS 9.3.5 and it is painful to use to the point where I am typing faster that it can can process the keys.  This usually results in many misspelled words or auto-corrected to something that makes no sense.

So this weekend I removed Windows 10 and reinstalled Windows 7 Ultimate x64.  The only downside is the lack of support from Microsoft.  I figure I’ll keep it around to play some games and have something to use when I go on extended visits with family.  What I really want in a new MacBookPro 15″ with the Touchbar.  Too bad it is way out of my price range.

Maybe next year I’ll pick up the next MacBookPro with a cheaper price and maybe better specs.

 

 

Upgraded iMac and Diablo 3

I’ve been using the iMac constantly since I bought it.  It has replaced my Sager Core i7 as my primary computer.  About a week ago I upgraded the RAM to 12GB so I could play Team Fortress 2 and Diablo 3.  Oh and the memory upgrade also helped with running the Windows 7 Enterprise virtual machine I need for work.

So let’s talk about the memory upgrade process.  According to Apple, the most RAM my 2011 Core i5 iMac can upgrade to was 8GB.  I really had a hard time believing this.  I can see 32GB being a maximum.  So I started looking into going beyond the 8GB limit.  Normally I purchase memory from 4allmemory.com, but several colleagues mention looking at Crucial.com.   The Crucial website had an option to scan my computer for the exact match.  So I downloaded the zip file and extracted CrucialMacScanner.app.  The information will open in your default web browser.

I can upgrade the AM to a maximum of 32GB.  WOOT!!  I scaled the WOOT back after checking the price for a 16GB kit.  So I went with a 8GB kit to bring the total system RAM to 12GB.  The price seemed fair, and Crucial is a trusted company.  I received the memory within a few days and installation occurred shortly after dinner.

The five character classes of Diablo III. L-R ...
The five character classes of Diablo III. L-R Wizard, witch doctor, demon hunter, barbarian and monk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The link Crucial provided for video directions were for a Dell GX desktop computer.  FAIL!!  The correct directions are located on Apple’s Support web site.  However, the web site also states the maximum RAM is 16GB.  FAIL!!  Besides that, the directions were perfect.

OK, now I have plenty of RAM, time to purchase Diablo 3.  I am a big fan of the Diablo series.  My friends and I have played for 14 hours strait (before children) at LAN parties.  I still have my original characters.  I have to admit about not being too thrilled about logging into Battle.net just to play, but I like the idea now and here’s why.  Diablo 3 is installed on both iMac and my Sager notebook.  I can play the on either computer, and have access to my characters.  So if the kids are using the iMac, I can pickup where I left off with my notebook.  WOOT!!

Some users have complained about the performance of Diablo 3 on the iMac.  I have not seen any issues with the game.  I tweaked the video settings up a little, but I didn’t go crazy with enabling every single shadow, rain drop or whatever.  I average about 80 FPS (Frames Per Second).  I doubt I would see a performace hit with multiplayer.

Getting an iMac

Over the past year I’ve been thinking about getting a new PC for the family.  The current Dell Dimension 8200 (almost 10 years old) was having a hard time running Windows XP and all the patches and security to keep it mostly virus and malware free.  I installed Ubuntu 11.10 server on that Dell PC and turned it into a media server and backup storage device.

So what to get for the family?  I could go with another Windows 7 PC and have the option to have more virus and malware installed every time the kids go to one of their kid friendly sites.  My wife might need Windows 7 for remote access to work, plus it’s a familiar interface for everyone.

I could go with Linux OS such as Ubuntu 11.10, Linux Mint 12 (when it is available), or some other disto.  But the problem with Linux for the family, a whole bunch of kid websites just don’t work with Linux.  For example, Cartoon Network has some pretty cool games, but most of the games will not work in Linux.  Those games require different engines such as Unity (not to be confused with Unity for Ubuntu).  Also, many games that I like to play are not available in a Linux environment.  I tried running Windows XP in a VM, but the performance is terrible and the games require high-end video cards which you never see in a VM.

My buddy at work suggested getting an iMac.  The first thing that went in my mind, “How am I going to afford that?”  Turns out the entry level iMac is within my budget.  So I stopped at the local Apple Store and took a look.  Usually I’m in there for a few minutes with the kids to kill time while my wife is shopping.  Now I had time to shop.  As usual I was assaulted but several employees right away.  But I needed time to look over what they had and get some ideas before I would talk with someone.

Steve, the sales person, saw I was ready to have my questions answered.  After a few minutes of talking about my concerns and what I wanted to accomplish, Steve unlocked the iMac and let me install some of the games from Cartoon Network.  Out of all my years in IT, from selling to support, I’ve never heard someone say let’s unlock the computer and install the web apps you mentioned.  So I played some of the Cartoon Network games. I was hooked.  Just need to upgrade the memory from 4GB to 8GB.  The Apple memory is expensive.  Looks like I’ll be checking on-line for a better price.

Now, what am I going to do about some of the Windows only applications I need?  I will keep my notebook PC as a dual boot between Windows 7 and Linux (not sure about keeping Ubuntu).  Maybe I’ll install VMWare Fusion, VirtualBox, Parallels or Bootcamp for my Windows needs.  I doubt I’ll ever break away completely from Windows.  Too many applications I need for Windows for my job.

So this Christmas Santa will deliver a new computer for the family.  It will meet the needs of my family, address my concerns, and also give me a little education in the Mac world.

Now, what book should I get…

New HDD for my Sager NP8690

A few weeks ago I purchased a Western Digital 500GB Scorpio Black SATA 7200 RPM for my Sager Np8690.  I also purchased from

CompUSA a Vantec USB 2.0 to SATA (Serial ATA)/IDE Adapter.

I removed the old 320GB HDD and installed the new 500GB drive, installed Windows 7 x64 Ultimate (came with my PC) and then installed Ubuntu 11.04 x64 onto a second partition.  This time I made the Ubuntu partition larger for all the VMs I had on the old system.  I used the Vantec device and copied all my data files for all my account in Ubuntu and Windows 7 to the new HDD.  I’ve used the Vantec device at work many times, and to me it was worth $20.00.

The old 320 HDD is locked away in-case I ever need it again.  Maybe I will install it into a external eSATA device for quick backups or recovery for PCs that I work on in my spare time.

I am please with the performance of the drive, but happier that I don’t receive messages from the OS telling me I’m out of space again.

New Linksys E4200 Router

Just over 4 years ago I purchased a Linksys WRT54GS router from Best Buy.  The main reason was to use my work notebook PC because I was not able to go downstairs due to a foot injury. The Linksys WRT54GS worked great.  I never had a problem with firmware updates, the radio signal was strong, and everything I connected through Wi-Fi (including the Wii) worked.  But lately I’ve had a desire to replace the unit to take advantage of wireless N which is on my Sager notebook and my work notebook (Dell Latitude E6400).

I am happy with Linksys products, I’ve recommend them to family, friends, and clients.  So when I heard the Linksys E4200 was available, I had to get it.  But yikes, look at that price!!  Way too expensive, besides the WRT54GS is working fine, no need to upgrade.  However, almost every week, Best Buy or some other company would have ads in the Sunday paper showing me the router I wanted to get, but could not justify the price point.

Then this past Sunday, Best Buy had the router on sale, save $30.00.  Then I remembered I had a Reward Zone $5.00 coupon that was going to expire within 2 weeks, and a $10.00 Best Buy gift card that was waiting for me to use.  My inner voice now said, “How do you feel about saving $45.00 on the router you want?  It has wireless N with a max speed of 450Mbps, guest wireless access, USB drive hookup, and GB wired connections.”  Let’s go shopping!!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So on Tuesday I purchased the Linksys E4200 and installed it inplace of the WRT54GS.  The design looks business class.  The Cisco logo lights up.  When the light it solid, everything is good, it blinks during power on or if something is wrong.  The port lights on the back light up, but you can turn them off via the internal web page for whatever reason.  The power supply looks like something  your would expect to see in a notebook.  I like this design over the large block which seems to always take 1.5 – 2 spaces on most power strips and surge protectors.  However, the cord from the AC outlet to the transformer could be a little longer.

You can setup the router with the Cisco software or via your Internet browser at address http://192.168.1.1.  The default password is admin.  I prefer to use the web browser because I have better control of the features I want to enable.  Plus I’ve installed the Linksys software once before on my old Dell PC.  the software brought the PC to an unbearable performance level.

Fist thing, CHANGE THE ROUTER PASSWORD.  Everyone who has a Linksys router has the same password.  If you want to help keep people out of your network, pick a nice complex password, or better a pass-phrase.  Now that’s done, time to setup the wireless.  In my opinion, setting your router not to broadcast your SSID is false security.  Anyone can use Wireshark or other applications to scan the wireless spectrum and will see your SSID anyways.  I like themes, and the last 10 years has been a Star Trek theme for just about everything.  So with my new router, I am going with a new theme.  Now the SSID has a name which reflects the theme I am going with on my PCs.

I left both 5.0 and 2.4GHz on the same SSID with the default channel settings and signal strengths.  Time to start the Sager notebook and experience all the goodness of wireless N… and nothing.  What??  I know the Intel 5300 AGN is a wireless N card like the name states.  Checking Ubuntu Forums, I found an answer from user scarey9.  After modifying the config file, I rebooted the notebook and was ready to experience wireless N… and now what??  Why is my speed fluctuating from 420 Mbps to 1Mbps?

Accessing my e-mail, Internet, playing videos from Youtube was painful.  So let me try booting into Windows 7 x64.  I made the connection to my new router, and I was having the same speed issues.  Playing Battlefied Heroes was terrible.  Something is not right because my old router at a solid 54Mbps can play my on-line games just fine.  Time to do some research again.  Everything I could fine regarding this router stated how great and fantastic it was.  Even after installing the first firmware from Linksys did nothing for me.

I ended up going to Linksys and using WebEx on-line chat.  The technician started helping me by supplying directions on how to configure the router.  After about 45 minutes and looking at the clock (yikes, it is 1:00AM) he said I should take it back to Best Buy an get another one.  Something was wrong with the Wi-Fi.  So I printed the chat history and took it with me when I wen back to Best Buy.

The second router works much better.  The best consistent speed I received is 270 Mbps.  I did see it jump to 450 Mbps, but it does not stay there.  Now I kept some of the suggestions the Linksys tech gave me such as:

  • Setting both 5 and 2.4GHz Network Mode to Mixed.
  • Setting the Channel Width to 40MHz on the 5GHz and moving to Channel 48 – 5.240GHz.
  • Setting the Channel Width to Auto on the 2.4GHz and moving to Channel 9 – 2.452GHz.
  • Enabling SSID Brodcast on both radio frequencies.

What I don’t like about the E4200

Two things that I am very disappointed with this router: USB interface and lack of Parent Controls as in the Linksys Valet.

First, the USB port is 1.1 and 2.0 compliant.  Why not USB 3.0?  It’s been out for a little while, and from what i gathered, the pin connection has not changed for at least 6 months, if not longer.  Plus the performance of the USB port is terrible.  All of my FTP clients and smb connections (Windows shares) timed out.

The Parental Controls via the web interface and the Cisco software are terrible.  With the Valet router I saw, you can select one of the radio buttons for Parent, Teen, Child.  Why would they not include this in the E series?  To my knowledge this is not a business class router.  I can only block a total of 8 URLs on the router.  This is a poor design and should be addressed for the next firmware update.

On last thing which I am confused about is the guest access.  Basically you grant someone access to your wireless connection, they get a 192.168.133.x address and open their web browser.  they enter the password and off they go.  But from what I gathered is they will always have access to you guest network as long as you don’t change the SSID or the password.  This would be OK if the lease expired in a week.  But you can only have a maximum of 10 devices connected.  So if grandma visits for the week with her notebook and does not come back for three months, does that mean I am down to 9 available device connections?  This should be addressed too.  Let me kick off the guest device without having to reset passwords.

I would still recommend this router to anyone who is looking for a high performance unit.  The design is pleasing, the speed is there, the guest access is cool, but I am not impressed with the USB port.

Modify Screensaver Picture Path in Ubuntu

Gnome-screensaver on Ubuntu 8.04
Image via Wikipedia

On my Ubuntu PCs I use the Pictures Folder screensaver.  It’s a nice screensaver that cycles through all your pictures.  At work I run dual monitors and the screensaver displays different pictures.

What I don’t like about this screensaver, no way to configure which pictures I want to use.  My Pictures folder contains a bunch of sub-folders like misc, Whos Who (which hold different avatars I use on different social media sites), Camera (pictures of the kids), funnies (stuff i find to be very funny but appropriate for work), Wallpaper, and so on.  So I started searching Google and found a quick solution on page 2 of the following link:

http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=230576&page=2

The  post wiredsoul submitted works great!  Open gedit and modify file /home/.config/user-dirs.dir.  I wanted just my Wallpaper folder for the screensaver.  Below is the test from my file:

# This file is written by xdg-user-dirs-update# If you want to change or add directories, just edit the line you’re# interested in. All local changes will be retained on the next run# Format is XDG_xxx_DIR=”$HOME/yyy”, where yyy is a shell-escaped# homedir-relative path, or XDG_xxx_DIR=”/yyy”, where /yyy is an# absolute path. No other format is supported.
#
XDG_DESKTOP_DIR=”$HOME/Desktop”
XDG_DOWNLOAD_DIR=”$HOME/Downloads”
XDG_TEMPLATES_DIR=”$HOME/Templates”
XDG_PUBLICSHARE_DIR=”$HOME/Public”
XDG_DOCUMENTS_DIR=”$HOME/Documents”
XDG_MUSIC_DIR=”$HOME/Music”
XDG_PICTURES_DIR=”$HOME/Pictures/Wallpaper”
XDG_VIDEOS_DIR=”$HOME/Videos”
The next to the last line I added Wallpaper.  Now the screensaver only displays all the files and files in sub-folder of Wallpaper.
Thanks wiredsoul!

Playing a Game from 1988 on VM in 2011

An Apple IIe with DuoDisk and Monitor //.
Image via Wikipedia

Tonight I read a post on Howtogeek.com about the Apple IIe.  The Apple IIe was our family’s second computer my dad purchased back in 1984 or 1985.  I remember the night my brothers and I drove out to the Apple dealer on the far side of Pittsburgh, PA.  If I remember correctly, it was past Green Tree Hill.  The post on Howtogeek.com started reminding me of all the great times I had with that Apple IIe.  Here are the specs:

  • CPU: 65C02 @ 1.02MHz
  • 128k RAM
  • Mouse single button
  • Duodisk 5 1/4″ floppy disk drive
  • Apple Color Dot Matrix printer (unknown model)
  • 1200 bps modem (unknown model purchased about 2 years later)
  • Green mono-color monitor with tilt action

So I went to Google and searched for Ultima V Warriors of Destiny, and found some pictures of the game.  And I thought to myself, “Oh, so that’s what it would have looked like in color.”  One of my children came over and saw the screen and asked what I was looking at.  So I explained to him about the game I used to play back in 1988 and I wished I could play it again.  We did find a video of Ultima III Exodus and while the video was playing he said it looked cool and he wanted to try it too.  So I sent him off to bed and I started reading on how I was going to play this game again.

I knew that VMware Player was going to be the tool of choice.  I just needed a few things like MSDOS 6.22 in a preferred ISO format, a way for VMware Player to see the files, oh and the game itself.  Well finding the game, manuals, maps, and scanned copies of the front and back of the box, and MSDOS 6.22 was easy.  So I created a VM with 1GB HDD, 16MB RAM and a single processor (all over kill but who cares, it is a VM.)  I set the MSDOS 6.22 ISO as the CD-ROM and booted from it.  I was able to fdisk and create a C: drive and rebooted.  I formatted the C: with the /s parameter copied over all the files from the CD-ROM, and rebooted into the VM BIOS.  I changed the boot order to so the HDD would boot first instead of the CD-ROM.  So now I have a VM of MSDOS 6.22.

But I could not figure out how to get the seperate files from the game into the VM.  Remember this is MSDOS6.22 without any network support, just a base OS.  A little more research brought me to a blog on WordPress which explained to me how to create a .IMG file. The part of that post which helped was was Creating the image:.  Now I have a .IMG file of Ultima V Warriors of Destiny.  That IMG file can be mounted as a floppy drive in VMware Player. From within the VM, just change to drive A: and run ultima.

Here are a few screen shots of the VM with the game when it first starts.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Merry Christmas 2010

Merry Christmas everyone!  And for those who do not celebrate Christmas, Season’s Greetings and Happy Holidays!

As I write this,I am watching my son play with his Stealth Flyer II Micro wireless helicopter and my daughter playing with the Leapster Explorer.  The kids had a great Christmas.  They got up about 6:30 AM, which is not too bad.  I remember getting up at 5:00 AM and trying to get my parents out of bed to open gifts Santa Claus brought.  One disappointment was the Leapster game we bought, no game cartridge was inside.  Not to happy with the LeapFrog company right now.  I wonder how my return experience at Best Buy will be?

I also have been using using Skype video to talk with my in-laws.  For some reason I had the wrong sound card set for Ubuntu which cause the internal mic not to work.  No problems, I rebooted into Windows 7 and ran Skype for our call.  After the call, I rebooted back into Ubuntu and researched the problem.  That’s when I found out I had the wrong profile.  I switched to Analog Stereo Duplex enabled me to select the internal mic.  I tested using the Droid with my account and Ubuntu with my wife’s account.  Audio and texting worked, now I’m ready for my next call.

Tonight we’ll have spiral cut ham, scalloped potatoes, and green beans for dinner.  Maybe we’ll drive around the neighborhood to see all the lights one the houses, watch some movies, and play some more games.  Either way I am enjoying my days off with the family.

UPDATE:

On December 26th I waited in line at Best Buy to return the LeapFrog game and explain the situation.  After listening to the manager tell me he will do me the favor since I bought the game at another Best Buy store, he exchanged it for me.  He made it seem like it was a huge inconvenience.  Now my daughter can enjoy the Leapster Explorer.

Ubuntu 10.10 on my PC

On October 10th at 10:10:10 AM, I took a screenshot of the date/time of my PC running Ubuntu 10.04 using Shutter before installing Ubuntu 10.10.  I used Vuze to download the BT files for x32 and x64 versions within 15 minutes.  Since I’ve had problems in the past with running Update to install the new OS over the old, I chose to backup my home directory with the rsync command to my external USB HDD.  I’ve read, some people had problems installing Ubuntu 10.10 over 10.04.  So I was glad I backed up and installed from scratch.

My installation went smooth.  I liked the check box to install third party apps (multimedia codeces except for the DVD player).  Because of this one feature, I can no longer tell people to install Linux Mint to get all the multimedia stuff running right after install.  Please don’t misunderstand, I like Linux Mint a lot.  I installed Linux Mint 10 RC1 as a VM on my Ubuntu system.  But that’s a post for another time.

I like the purple color theme better than the orange/brown theme of the past, but I still customized my desktop.  Using Crebs (Create Background Slideshow) I created a nice 15+ Star Trek rotating wallpaper theme.  I also created a Halloween theme too.  Plus with Ubuntu Tweak I changed the GDM wallpaper to a nice artist rendition nebula and changed the Ubuntu logo to a Star Fleet one.  I didn’t bother to change the window colors, icons and sound effects yet, I’m still looking for something that will work well and easy to install or customize.  I also found one thing that has helped me out over the years for reinstalling Ubuntu and Windows, keep a text document of favorite apps and other commands that make installation easy.  For me this includes anything that I need to run at the CLI.  After all was said and done, I had everything installed, configured and data files restored within 4 hours.  No need to go back and install an application or look for a special command that enabled the Ubuntu Menu when pressing the Super key. Its all right there.  Plus I add to this text file if i make a change or find a new application that is a must have for me.

Is this a perfect 10 for Ubuntu 10.10?  No, but it feel like 9.95.  My only grip is the mouse pad stays enabled no matter if I use a USB wired or wireless mouse.  I search several posts about this issue.  And although some people had some terrific answers, none worked for me.  I can’t disable the touchpad in the BIOS either.  With Windows 7, the touchpad can be disabled using Logitech’s application.  Kind of wish Logitech would develop their software apps for Linux.  But I can’t fault Ubuntu for this.

If you haven’t tried Ubuntu 10.10, download a Live CD and try it on your PC.  I think you will be surprised with this OS.  Now if only Battlefield Heroes would work on Ubuntu.