Saturday, March 21, 2009

Hasta La Vista, Baby

I put up with Vista as long as I could. Or rather, I put up with my wife's complaining as long as I could.

I got her a ThinkPad T61 for her birthday. (A bit of advice. Don't get birthday presents with power cords.)

As I mentioned previously, it came with Vista Business and relatively little crapware. I put Office 2007 on it.

It seemed like it was going to do fine.

Then it started hanging up. Sometimes it was the whole thing and it took a hard power down to fix. Other times, it was just Internet Explorer that froze. Printers seemed to come and go randomly. Wireless was never certain.

I must admit, she was way more tolerant than I expected.

The last straw was when I picked it up last week to put the latest patches on it. It took me hours. It hung up, crashed, complained about processes that weren't visible, you name it.

A call to Lenovo to inquire about XP downgrade disks turned up that they wanted to charge $45 plus shipping! Then the confusion started about how to activate using the downgrade rights. I'll explain that in a minute.

I went to the Lenovo site and downloaded all the drivers and software for XP.

I Ghosted off the Vista partition. To do this I had to go into the T61's BIOS and set the SATA drive from ACHI to Compatible. Without this, Ghost 8 couldn't see the SATA drive.

I installed Windows XP Pro from a SP3 slipstreamed consumer CD that I had. With SP3 you can defer entering the key so I did. Then after it came up, I clicked on the Activate Windows link and chose telephone activation. To shorten the story, I had to enter the key (that was previously activated on another machine) and give the Microsoft representative the loooooooooooong installation ID. I told him I was downgrading Vista Business to XP Pro and he gave me a new key. I never had to give him the Vista key. Very odd.

The coup de grĂ¢ce was installing Office 2003.

It's so nice to get back to the familiar and stable Windows XP. Call me a Luddite if you must.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Blogger and AT&T Curve

Recently I saw that I had a visitor to this blog who had Googled for "how to link my blog to att curve." I wish I could get back in touch with them. I know exactly what they were having problems with.

I have a blog that I use to post photos taken from my smartphones. I started it with my Treo 650, used it a little from my Motorola Q9h, and now post to it from my AT&T Blackberry Curve 8310.

But when I post using the Blackberry e-mail application, I get a reply back from

Your carrier is not supported by Blogger Mobile.
When you go to Blogger Help, this page tries to get you started. But here's the key paragraph:

We support most popular mobile carriers in the US and worldwide. If Blogger Mobile is unavailable from your provider, you can still send posts to your blog using Mail-to-Blogger.
If you go into the Dashboard of your Blogger account, down at the very bottom (pay no attention to the Blogger help that says it's in the sidebar) is a list of mobile devices or e-mail addresses and which blogs they will post to.

There's the rub. That doesn't seem to work from the Curve like it did from the Treo. I presume that it has to do with using Blackberry e-mail on the Curve.

But that can be easily fixed.

Go to your Blogger Dashboard and click on the Settings tab then the Email tab. On this page there is an input field labeled "Email Posting Address." In this field, put a code word that will specify an e-mail address in the format

Then mail away to By default, those e-mails will automatically be posted to your blog.

Monday, March 02, 2009


I think that title is probably the geekiest title I've used. I represents one of the trickiest and most persistent problems I've encountered.

First some background. My DVD burner is an old Sony DW-Q28A. It's a dual-layer +/- burner but old is the operative word. It is pretty picky about the media you use. It likes +Rs more than -Rs.

What I keep running into is write errors. Pitching the coaster disk and just trying the next one from the same cake box usually fixes it.

However, every now and then, it gets where it won't burn at all. I got so frustrated that I went looking for new firmware. I found some but never felt good about the process to reflash it. So I finally just bought a new burner.

But before I got around to installing it, I ran across some information about DMA vs PIO mode. Here's what said:

... if Windows encounters six or more CRC or timeout errors, it will ... slow the Secondary IDE settings to PIO mode.
Trust me, that makes your DVD burner pretty worthless.

So how to correct this? Best to just read the entire post from


I had this problem again today. I used the procedure described above and it DIDN'T correct it.

So I invented my own solution.

From the desktop, right click on My Computer and select Properties. Click on the Hardware tab and click on the Device Manager button. Find the line that says "IDE ATA/ATAPI Controllers" and expand by clicking on the "+." On my system, the "Secondary IDE Channel" has the DVD drives. Double click on the appropriate channel and click on Advanced Settings. Look for the PIO value under "Current Transfer Mode" to make sure you have the right IDE channel.

When you're sure you have the right IDE channel, back up to the main Device Manager panel and (here comes the fun part) right click on the IDE channel and select "Uninstall." Click Ok. Now go up to the top and click on Actions and select "Scan for hardware changes." This will find the IDE channel and all the devices on it and reinstall them fresh. You shouldn't even have to reboot.

This fixed it for me today.

My experience shows that this fixes the problem, but YMMV. If this doesn't work for you, here's a lot more information. Be warned, it's not for the faint of heart.

By the way, DVDFab HD Decrypter checks this before it runs and offers to fix it. Oh, it's FREE!