Sunday, May 31, 2009

Analysis Paralysis

Ever find yourself in a 2 hour development meeting and it seems like you were only productive for about 30-45 minutes of that? Your meeting may face Analysis Paralysis. Check it out here.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Hosted Documents

Microsoft Office Live and Google Docs both host your documents online so it's easier for you to manage them and it reduce the problems that exist with multiple differing versions. Of course the downside to this comes when you don’t have access to those documents and/or the internet. I’m sitting here writing my blog post in Microsoft Word because I’m moving and our internet has officially been cut off. I can’t work on any of my todo items because they are stored online. While we are less and less likely to run across times when we can’t get to the internet (I could always go into work) it is still an inconvenience that we must deal with. Oh good times!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mac OS X on a Virtual Machine

Is it really a lot to ask Apple for a Macintosh OS X virtual machine? I came across this article in ars technica that Parallels said it's possible to put OS X on a virtual machine but currently they won't do it as Apple's EULA forbids it. On top of that Apple is known for being fickle with it's vendors and Parallel's doesn't want to piss them off. I can't say I blame them.

I've got a Mac Mini that I don't use much and honestly I got it for the OS - the cool little hardware, that I've since put Vista on, was just an added bonus. I've got the OS discs, I've got VMware Workstation and I think it's time to figure out a way to install one on the other. I'll let everyone know how it goes!

Update on 07/07/2009:
The inner workings of getting Mac OS X to run on a virtual machine are incredibly complex as I found on OSX86Project.com.

I continued my pursuit and I came across a torrent on The Pirate Bay where someone managed to install and get working a Mac OS X virtual machine for VMware. I downloaded it, unpacked it, ran it and found a real working version, albeit a bit slow and clumsy. The boot times and regular operation were slow, it didn't have all of the beautiful graphics / effects of the normal version and well was barely usable - other than perhaps for the occasion test.

This Virtual Machine version of Mac OS X will work if you don't have a Mac computer to play with, but I do, so this program will officially go into storage. (I don't want to get rid of it.. just in case...)

MacBook iMac Rack Hack for a Dell

Instructables.com has a really cool hack that involves putting your MacBook in a rack and attaching it to the back of your computer monitor. While this wouldn't work for me since I have two Dell monitors that rotate 360* and therefore have an arm in the way, it is a good idea. I also don't think it would work well with my Dell Latitude D820 because it seems a little heavy for the wire rack, but it would be cool to see if I could configure it to work with my port replicator!

I prefer a clean / minimalist looking desk and this hack seems to fit that model pretty well. Check out the article here.

Custom Self-Contained hanging Wall PC

I came across this blog post by Justin of Glowview where he shows off his "hanging wall" PC which is an old laptop mounted into a picture frame. He discusses how he did it and the reasons: using it as a cool digital picture frame with online syncing, file server, backup device, extra display, etc. He says the most difficult thing was trying to find a matte for the frame.

There are no instructions on how to perform the switch, probably since each frame and computer will differ. This could be a really cool project - worth taking on if you have an older working laptop that you don't mind tearing apart (perhaps something that would only fetch 100 bucks on eBay or is just lying around the house). Maybe even a cheap Netbook or Ultra Mobile?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hewlett Packard dv6 1027nr driver problems

I just spent the last few days scrubbing and rebuilding a few new laptops and a desktop for work. It's unfortunate we purchased them retail because they contain the backup operating systems and drivers on separate "recovery partitions" and of course I forgot to create backup discs. I ran into problems with our new Hewlett Packard Pavilion dv6-1027nr Entertainment Notebook PC when I couldn't find two drivers listed here by their Hardware Id: ACPI\HPQ0004 and ACPI\ENE0100.

1. The Hardware ID ACPI\ENE0100 (found in the driver details of device manager) turned out to be the ENE CIR Receiver Driver found here.

2. The Hardware ID ACPI\HPQ0004 on an Microsoft ACPI-Compliant device turned out to be the ProtectSmart Hard Drive Protection for Microsoft Windows Vista security software found here.

It's a shame HP doesn't make it's HP Recovery Manager program available for download to those of us who accidentally delete it. HP could also really use an update and driver detection program that will tell you what drivers you're missing - it took me a while to figure these things out.

Updated 6/15/2010:
If I come across anymore ACPI Hardware ID's with hard to find drivers I will post them here. Feel free to leave comments if you find any as well.

Updated 4/17/2011:
The Hardware ID ACPI\MAT0021 on a Panasonic CF-F8 laptop is the Panasonic Misc. Driver. Learn more here.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Suunto Vytec Dive Computer

As I contemplate purchasing the new Suunto Vytec Air dive computer, I wanted to reflect on my current dive computer, the Suunto Vytec.

I currently use the original Suunto Vytec, not the Vytec DS, with the wireless transmitter. I originally wanted a wrist top computer because I felt like it would be easier to read and I wouldn't have to worry about it dragging on the floor of the ocean and harming the environment. With my computer and compass on my wrist it would be right in front of my face as I dive around! I looked at a number of wrist top computers with different options but I didn't like the D5 and D9 because they seemed too small and hard to read and it also didn't make sense to get a computer without a wireless transmitter. Why would I want to have all my important information on my wrist except for my pressure gauge (the most important instrument you carry)? True it isn't that difficult to look at a SPG, especially if you currently have a non-wireless computer, but if you are going to remove the computer then why not remove the gauge as well? I figured if I couldn't afford the extra money for the wireless transmitter, then it wasn't worth having the wrist top computer.

The Vytec's display is very simple but contains a lot of useful information like a pressure gauge, depth monitor, alarms for safety stop, battery indicator, max depth and large buttons to change the modes or make configurations. The beauty of having any dive computer resolves to dive log memory and automatic table calculations. A lot of people start to forget how important dive tables can be but the computer always remembers! It comes with a cable for syncing to your computer and the software is fairly easy to use (although I prefer SharkPoint). You can download the software on their website for free and as I had to find out, you can find replacement cables on eBay for less than $50.

While I'm sure this goes for most Suunto dive products, the only downside to the Vytec is the dive software. The problem is that the computer is so great and easy to use that software isn't much to brag about. The interface screen is a little dull, the backup and saving of your database isn't as friendly as it should be and to be honest, it looks like they didn't put much time into designing it. The easiest thing would have been to copy your normal dive log layout and while they tried to, they fell short. All in all, the Vytec is one of the best dive computers I've ever used and as of right now it is my 3rd computer. I've heard good things about replacing the battery, although I've never done this myself.

My motivator for getting a new computer, in this case the Vytec Air, is it has a built in compass and the viewable angle is greater. It also has a little newer design and larger logbook and profile memory. Plus my Vytec is a bit old and I think it's just plain time for an upgrade!

Suunto Vytec Dive Computer features:

  • Not the DS
  • Wireless Transmitter
  • Large Display
  • Great display information – pressure gauge, depth monitor, safety stop alarms, battery indicator, max depth indicator, etc.
  • Large Buttons
  • Easy Sync to Computer
  • Dive Log memory
  • Safety Alarms
  • Three Operating modes: Air, Nitrox, Gauge
  • Free PC software, USB cables available on eBay for less than $50
  • Easy to clean
  • User Replaceable battery – never did

Anyone have any suggestions or comments about the Suunto Vytec Dive Computer that I didn't cover? Oh and check out a picture of my computer:




Update on April, 6th 2010:
I've reposted this to my scuba website, SearchNRecovery.com. Check it out here.

Also check out this posting on installing Vytec Dive software on Windows.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Installing Windows 95 on a VMware Virtual Machine

I'm sure you're asking yourself, why would anyone want to run Windows 95 these days? Well, if you're like a coworker of mine it's because you have an old game that you want to play. Or perhaps you're a bit nostalgic and like having things around that remind you of 1995-96. Anyway here is how I installed Windows 95 Second Edition on a VMware virtual machine:

Materials I used:

  1. VMware Workstation 6.05
  2. An "original" Windows 95SE disc
    1. I converted this to an ISO image before I began
  3. Windows 95 Boot Disk image (from http://www.allbootdisks.com/download/95.html)
  4. VMware support reference page: http://www.vmware.com/support/reference/common/guest_win95.html
    1. If you're like me and didn't keep the sticker from your original Gateway 2000!

I started by creating a new virtual machine in VMware Workstation (my version is 6.05), choosing Windows 95 as the operating system. Edit the virtual machines settings. You can keep the settings for Ram and Hard Drive, 64MB and an 8GB respectively. Change the CD ROM drive to reference the ISO image (or choose your drive letter if you didn't convert to an ISO) and for the Floppy drive give the path to the boot disk image. Your Windows 95 CD or image won't boot without the boot disk "in" the floppy drive.

Now start your newly created virtual machine. You should see the machine checking your CD drive, loading drivers (be careful to note if any new drive letters are assigned, my CD changed to R from D) and then you should be given the prompt of your boot device A. Using your Windows Boot Disk run the FDISK command. Follow the on screen instructions to create and partition a primary drive/disk.

Once FDISK is complete restart your virtual machine. When you get back to the boot disk prompt run the command: FORMAT C:

This will format your drive and allow you to assign a name to the drive (name is optional). Remember Windows 95 won't run if you don't format the drive after partitioning. After the formatting is complete you are now ready to run the Windows 95 setup program. You can either run the command directly from your boot device: A:> R:\Win95\Setup or you can switch to the CD Drive and run it there. If you get an error that says something to the effect there is no drive found, check to make sure your virtual machine didn't assign a new drive letter to the CD drive and/or image. I assigned the drive to an image so it gave me a random drive letter "R:" and I found this by watching the boot information.

Before setup starts Scandisk will run and check your disk for potential problems. Then the "original" Windows 95 setup screen will appear and you can proceed with your regular Windows installation process. You will most likely be prompted for a Certificate of Authenticity (COA) and a serial number. You can use the link above to grab an old serial code if, like me, you don't have your original system documentation lying around. Answer the questions as you are prompted. During the installation process I had a few issues with files not being found on the disc, I tried changing the drive letters on my CD Drive but nothing I did seemed to solve the problems. In the end it didn't seem to matter.

With Windows 95SE running, I installed the VMware Tools, then sound drivers, network drivers and display drivers. There you have it – Windows 95 on a VMware Virtual Machine!