TideLog Archive for the “Windows 7” Category

I found this out the hard way, but fixed my problem myself, being an advanced techie. I installed Race Driver 3 under Windows 7 64bit on my P55IM, and ever since it asked for a reboot and tried to install a StarForce driver, the system wouldn’t start on it’s own. The Starting Windows screen comes up and sticks for ages, and the Windows animation doesn’t appear, instead the machine boots straight into Startup Recovery.

This finds a problem, but cannot fix it, so the system will still NOT START. Here’s how to fix it:

1. Turn off your computer, and as Windows is about to start, hit F8

2. Hit enter on “Disable Driver Signature Enforcement”. The system will now start normally, but slower than usual, and you might get a warning from Windows that the StarForce driver is corrupt and/or incompatible, and it has been disabled. This won’t fix it permanently, we now need to delete the driver.

3. Open a command prompt, and one by one, right click the window and paste each of these lines in, hitting Enter after each one. You won’t get confirmation, it’ll just go to a new prompt:

DEL c:\windows\system32\drivers\sfsync03.sys
DEL c:\windows\system32\drivers\sfdrv01.sys
DEL c:\windows\system32\drivers\sfhlp02.sys

4. Uninstall Race Driver 3. You can do this anytime, either before or after this step, but the game doesn’t work anyway without the driver, and doesn’t uninstall it as part of the uninstall routine, so do it anyway round.

5. Reboot, and you’re done!

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I reported a while back that Microsoft had dropped the Hardware Assisted Virtualization (HAV) requirement for XP Mode under Windows 7. They’ve now rolled out the update, on their XP Mode pages. I’ve set it all up on my M670SU, and it seems to run pretty stably, but there’s a few minor default settings that seem weird:

1. VirtualPC is set to only have 256MB RAM by default on the XP image, and it’s slow as treacle, even on this Core2Duo CPU with 2GB RAM. I increased it to 768MB.

2. The VHD file is set at 126GB Expanding (My HDD is only 60GB!!) and I’ve haven’t yet figured out how to decrease it. You could easily overlook this, and then have your machine start acting weird as it runs out of space, yet VPC won’t bother!

3. The graphics will only go up to 16bit colour, using a crappy S3 Trio emulated card. At full screen, the title bar and window looks washed out, with colour loss and banding. Come on, Microsoft, the Trio is friggin’ ancient!! I wish it’d use my nVidia 8400 built in card, it’s WAY more powerful!

4. The virtual machine Hibernates instead of shutting down when you close it. This has to be changed to Shut Down, as you can’t change settings while it is Hibernated.

Other than that, it seems fine. I’m currently setting up VirtualBox to do a side by side comparison, because VPC doesn’t feel as fast as VBox does. XP Mode automatically shares your PC’s drives, so you don’t have to set them up manually like in VirtualBox. Here’s the installation window:

It then sets itself up, and displays the main XP desktop, which seemed to take longer than it should. If it performed this slowly on my dual core system, imagine how slow it’d be on a single core Pentium 4! I haven’t tried it, nor do I want to!

There’s been a lot of criticism of it on forums like Digital Spy, and news sites like the Register. People saying that VirtualBox and VMWare Workstation are better. They are right! The only snag is VMWare isn’t free, whereas VirtualBox is. I like XP Mode, it is useful for people using Windows 7 who don’t want to manually install a virtual OS. Then again, XP Mode is officially only intended for business use, and not personal.

But, to me, it feels slower than it should. My Core i7 rig runs it lightning speed, but the graphics are still emulating that awful S3 tripe. My i7 has the latest ATi HD5700 based card, for God’s sake!

If Microsoft call *this* a “selling” point of Windows 7, they’d be wasting their time. It feels like it was something they came up with at the last minute. Hang on, it WAS!! My advice to any business is, use VirtualBox! VirtualPC has been lacking and lagging behind the market for some time, mainly with USB support, they’ve only *just* caught up, but even this version feels rushed, and thrown together. On an older machine that meets the Minimum Win 7 requirements, you’re SURE going to FEEL it!

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Microsoft has just this minute released the EEA browser choice screen update to users of Windows 7, that it agreed to do in line with an EU ruling:

Cool. Don’t need it, though. I’m using the king of all browsers, Firefox, already. The one and only! (Until they change the UI to look like the crappy Ribbon and Chrome monstrosities, in version 4, that is.

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Something we frequently do at work is a full backup and reinstall, my nickname for it is a Wash ‘n’ Wipe. It goes like this: Image the boot drive to one of our backup server drives, wipe their drive and reinstall Windows, find drivers and programs, then plug the backup drive in and copy their stuff back.

To cut a very boring long story short, Windows decided to letter the backup drive C:, called the boot drive F:, and once our drive was removed, it hung at the “Welcome” screen. It’s just so silly I can’t think of a decent analogy.

Fortunately, I had an idea how to fix it, and it worked. It works on Win XP/Vista/7. Reproduced here mainly for my own reference, and my techies, and so you can remember reading about a fix if it ever happens to you:

  • Run regedit (Windows key + R, “regedit”, enter, or, click Start, Run, type “regedit” without quotes On Windows 7, the Run command is under All Programs/Accessories)
  • Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\MountedDevices
  • Delete ALL of the keys listed, for example \DosDevices\C: to Z:
  • Pray, whilst rebooting, and pray some more as you come to the welcome screen

It worked for me, and that computer’s back with a customer hard at work. I’ve found this works on XP/Vista and Windows 7. I have a testbed with all 3 installed for this kind of testing.The more problems you can solve, the more custom you get, and don’t have to turn away! Here’s a screenshot under Windows 7 I did:

All the drives with ???? are removable USB drives maps (on my system!). They’re perfectly safe to delete! Yours will likely be different.

This particular registry key – HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/SYSTEM/MountedDevices – lists the mapping between the disk drives on your computer and their respective drive letters as visible in My Computer. Windows sometimes gets confused about how to refer to your boot volume (should be C:/), and if your boot volume’s drive letter changes after you install XP, it will likely get stuck starting up and hang just before the Welcome/login screen.

If your machine WON’T start, obviously you can’t just run regedit, but there are ways around it. There do exist commandline tools you could run from a floppy disk, but by far the easiest way is to grab a liveCD that contains a registry editor. I use Mini XP on Hiren’s BootCD, but this tool should do the trick easily enough for most.

Caution: If you have programs installed to drive letters other than C:\, be aware this could cause issues with them. Windows may be intelligent enough to reassign the driver letters with respect to installed programs, then again, being Windows, it may not be. I haven’t tested this analogy yet, but will try to, and report back.

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I’ve discovered several ways to determine whether my laptop battery is good, or failing. Before I detail it, let’s understand a bit more about battery capacity.

A battery is rated in MilliWatt Hours (abbreviated as mWh), which determines how long it lasts. The higher the rating, the longer it lasts. There are 2 values that ACPI pulls from the battery, Designed Capacity, and Full Charge Capacity. Designed Capacity is the capacity hard coded into the regulator chip inside the battery, to match the total cells, and is how much charge the cells will hold when at optimum condition. Full Charge capacity is how much charge the battery is currently holding. Over time, it will get lower, as the battery cells (or regulation circuit) wear out.

Windows 7:

Windows 7 will notify you if your mwAh rating is low. It displays a warning, in the system tray (or Notification Area, as some know it!), that looks like an empty battery and plug with a cross next to it. Clicking it displays this:

Windows Vista doesn’t display this, so in Windows 7 it’s quite useful. It doesn’t actually display the values I described above, so you don’t actually know how BAD the battery is. This is where my next tool comes in.

HWMonitor:

HWMonitor is a tool made my the same guys who develop CPU-Z. It monitors the temperatures of your CPU, GPU, and HDD, and it also tells you your battery status, displaying the Designed and Current Capacities I mentioned above, in a nice window like this:

My battery is really BAD! On my Novatech, it is holding almost a 1/3rd less than it should! It has lost 34085 mWh of its capacity, all because the previous owner left it on the mains, and didn’t condition the battery!

ALWAYS CONDITION your battery, they’re not cheap to replace, you’ll wish you had when you need it! And NEVER buy ANY CHINESE or TAIWANESE batteries from eBay, or the internet! They’re INFERIOR, manufactured to LIMP standards, will NOT LAST long, and can be a dangerous FIRE RISK! I work with computers, and see it on a daily basis, “Oh, but the battery was really cheap!” Yeah, you get what you pay for!

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I was looking at how much a copy of Windows 7 Ultimate will be, and I’ve come across TONS of eBay sellers selling Windows 7 Ultimate keys for between £10 and £19, with and without ISO download links. I’m not sure of the legality of it, but they’re MSDN keys, as I’m a MSDN subscriber, too.

I bought a couple for a tenner each, saving me using any more of my MDSN ones. I’ve already got Win 7 Retail discs, so didn’t need to pay extra for links, etc.

QUICK! Before eBay (possibly) put a kaibosh on it! And before you all ask, NO I WON’T post them here! They can only be used on one machine at a time, with RETAIL discs only, NOT OEM.

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Is that every time I disconnect a USB device, either through Safely Remove, or by pulling it out, my SiS163U wireless network adapter disconnects itself, and refuses to find any wireless networks. I have to run Network Diagnostics on it to reset it all.

I’ve not done any searches on it yet, but it’s grating my nerves. I think it’s a driver problem, because I updated the driver through Windows Update a while back, but it’s only just started happening.

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I’ve just found another good software package, from the nice guys at UniBlue Ltd. UniBlue DriverScanner, it can find, update and back up your drivers for you. My mate Steve has let me roadtest it on Windows 7, as it is Vista compatible. The driver backup tool takes way too long though, but the rest is easy.

Just make sure, that if you’re trying to find drivers for a fresh install, that you have at least one network device installed, otherwise it’s useless!

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I’ve had a really irritating problem recently, and I can’t find a fix. My Windows 7 laptop, Ami, bluescreens randomly, and the faulting module is always “acedrv09.sys”. Nobody knows what driver it is, or who manufactures it, and there’s little or no information on the driver itself, or what hardware it is linked with. There are tons of forum posts on the Web about it, affecting lots of different machine configurations.

It seems to be an internal Windows thing to do with storage. I know it isn’t a RAM thing, as my 2x1GB sticks have been in since I restored and upgraded the laptop, they were brand new sticks. It’s affecting Vista too, some of my customers who I built Core i7 systems for have started having the issue.

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I’ve just noticed this morning, “Test Mode” has appeared with the Evaluation Copy string after a recent update last night. I wonder if this means you’ll be able to unlock the full version of Windows from the RC with a license key?

Windows 7's new Test Mode. Full version unlockable from the RC, I wonder?

Windows 7's new Test Mode. Full version unlockable from the RC, I wonder?

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I learnt this the hard way, and now need to re-image my partition from my original 40GB drive! Version 4.1, which PCoP has been at for nearly 3 years, works fine under Vista. But on 7 it seems to pick up registry keys it shouldn’t. I was a little suspicious of the 1,576 entries it found, but went ahead anyway. And I’m the type of guy who keeps my machine pristine, with CCleaner, Ad-Aware, SUPERAntiSpyware and co running regularly, with junk cleaning and Auslogics Disk Defrag in between, so that amount of errors did hit me as weird.

I rebooted, and ended up with the infamous 0x0000007B STOP error, which equates to a “UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_VOLUME” error. Safe Mode just gives me the Vista & 7 Black Screen Of Death, with a black screen and mouse pointer after the orb. I cannot get back in to restore PCoP’s backup!

That’ll teach me for still using Rikku’s serial number from when we were business partners…. Sorry Rikky!

I’ve contacted PConPoint about it with a log from the failed installation, and they tell me it will be 3 months until they release a Windows 7 version, which coincides with the public release.

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Debugging SparkIV in SharpDevelop didn’t tell me anything, it just crashes out, without any errors in the breakpoint watcher. Whether the situation is different in VS2008 I don’t know, as I don’t have it installed on this machine at present

SparkIV debug from source was inclonclusive. I expected the breakpoint watcher to detect a bug, but it didn't.

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I discovered this while setting up my SVN environment for debugging SparkIV. TortoiseSVN is my preferred program, but it is entirely context menu driven. You HAVE to use the Explorer context menu, otherwise running the EXE link in the program group results in this not-so-helpful dialog popping up:

Tortoise's not very helpful .exe message! What when the context menu doesn't work, huh?

Tortoise's not very helpful .exe message! What when the context menu doesn't work, huh?

Trying to run the commandline doesn’t extend to creating repositories, either, you HAVE to use the context!

Errr….DUUUHH!

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I’ve discovered a crash bug in both the stock Aru version, and KasSoft’s 0.6.2.1 custom version. Running the program, and pointing it to a stripped down copy of GTAIV works fine, but while browsing the audio, it randomly crashes when the “Auto Play on Select” is checked. It works fine under XP, but not W7. I have a portable stripped down structure of GTAIV with just the  ‘pc/audio/sfx’ structure, and the GTAIV.exe present, as Spark IV needs it. I’ve removed the rest, as at the moment I’m interested in the audio dialog only, to make a massive .NET GTAIV soundboard.

I still need to debug it, I need to run it through my programming testbed, or get Kassie to look at it for me, I should have more tomorrow. I’ve reported it to Aru at Google Code, awaiting his response.

Spark IV crash bug under Windows 7

Spark IV crash bug under Windows 7

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I’ve noticed like most of you, that when running Windows Live Messenger on Windows 7, that when the window is minimized, and supposed to disappear from the taskbar, it doesn’t, and it is annoying, especially if you’ve done my Windows 7 Classic Taskbar Fix. There’s a fix, and apparently the problem isn’t a bug, but intentional, so it stays on the new taskbar as a button, but when you’ve restored the XP taskbar style, it stays there with its label, and takes up space.

To fix it, we’ll use the easiest method, and that is Compatibility Mode. Navigate to your Live Messenger folder,usually in Program Files, and right click ‘msnmsgs.exe’, and select Properties. Go to the Compatibility tab, and select Vista under the Compatibility area.

Hit Apply, and it should go to the notification area, and disppear from the Taskbar!

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