XP no more

I’ve been slowing working on moving over from XP to Vista on my main home desktop machine since August 2008. I finally decided to finish up on that today.

I had been running in a dual-boot config since August, with XP on my old drive, and Vista on a new drive. My goal for today was to switch to a plain old single-boot config, with the Vista drive as drive 0 and the XP drive reformatted, so I can use it for backups, as drive 1. The problem, of course, is that the old XP drive was technically the boot drive. You’d think it wouldn’t be too hard to switch things around so that I could boot from the Vista drive, but it’s actually a bit of a pain. I followed the instructions here, which sounded like they covered my situation perfectly, but that didn’t work, and I wound up having to boot the machine with my Vista install DVD and run a repair. It took awhile to get all the way through this, but I seem to have a working Vista install now, booting off the Vista drive. And I’m reformatting the old XP drive right now.

This all took longer than it should have. Microsoft really didn’t need to make the Vista boot process so darn arcane. But hey, I’m now 100% Vista, just in time for Windows 7 to come out…

Dazzle Video Creator Platinum

I recently pickep up a Dazzle Video Creator Platinum from Woot. My idea was that I’d take the last few videotapes I own, convert them to MPEG-4, then toss the tapes and the VCR. I had a bit of an adventure getting the software installed and working under Vista. This blog entry helped out a bit. It would be nice if Pinnacle would just allow you to download the full install for their Vista-compatible software, but instead you have to stumble through the install of the XP version, then run a patch install. Once you’ve got that done, and you’ve got the Vista driver for the device installed, it works fine. I’m in the middle of converting an old anime VHS tape to MPEG-4 right now. I’m hoping it’ll be watchable on my Apple TV when I’m done with it. If it all works out OK, I have a few other random tapes to convert, then I’m done with VHS forever.

new hardware

I just got the new hardware I ordered from Newegg a few days back. I got 2GB of Corsair RAM and an ASUS EAH3450/DI/256M Radeon HD 3450 video card. Both were on sale for $20 each, after rebates.

The RAM brings me up to 4GB total, of which only 3GB is usable, but that’s still better than 2GB. There’s a thread at Channel 9 about the whole 4GB thing that’s pretty useful, if you can slog through it. I notice that the memory score in my Windows Experience Index went down, from 5.3 to 4.8, after I installed the new RAM. The original 2GB that I had in my machine was Corsair XMS, while the new memory is Corsair Value Select. I guess the cheap new stuff is a little slower than the fancy old stuff.

The new video card gets a 3.5 on the Aero score, and 3.9 on the gaming score. The old card got 4.1 for Aero and 3.7 for gaming. I’m a little confused on how this card can score lower than the old one on Aero, but I guess there’s a reason. I’m going to update the drivers and see if that changes anything.

Overall, I don’t really see any difference in the way the machine’s running now compared to how it was before the new memory and video card. I’m assuming that the extra RAM will help me out in Virtual PC, but I haven’t tried that yet. Ditto for SQL Server. I haven’t really tried anything fancy with SQL on this machine yet, but it’s always good to throw RAM at SQL Server.

gradual Vista upgrade

I’m still slowly working on switching over to Vista on my home desktop machine. I just ordered a cheap new video card that should be a bit more Vista-compatible than my old one. I also ordered 2 gigs of RAM, so I can bring my machine up to 4 GB. (And, yes, I know 32-bit Vista won’t be able to use all of it.) I think this will leave me with a reasonably fast machine, capable of handling anything I’m likely to do with it.

Vista – Aero problems?

I’m still trying to get Vista up and running on my desktop PC. I haven’t lost access to the network lately, so that’s a good sign. However, I’m now getting occasional messages saying that the “desktop window manager has stopped working”. This doesn’t cause any serious problems; the screen just blanks for a second, then everything’s fine again. This seems to be happening right after I access my USB Zip drive, which is a little weird. A Google search isn’t turning up much useful. Most reasonable suggestions related to this error point towards the video driver. I’ve got a fairly old, pre-Vista, video card, so maybe I should upgrade to a card that came out post-Vista, and that’s likelier to have good Vista drivers.

Vista – networking, development, etc.

I didn’t touch my home desktop PC at all over the Labor Day weekend, so I didn’t make any more progress on moving to Vista. I’m working on it now, though.

I just installed FolderShare, so I could have access to the shared library that I keep on all my computers. FolderShare works fine under Vista, as far as I can tell.

I’ve been having occasional problems with my network adapter not working under Vista. It started right after I installed Virtual PC. That may have something to do with it, or that may just be a coincidence. If I reboot the machine, that fixes the problem. It’s only happened a couple of times so far, so I’ll have to see if it becomes a real problem or not.

I’m trying to get started porting my Delphi comic book database application to C#. I mentioned this in a previous post. The Delphi app requires BDE, which I’m not keen on trying to install under Vista, though apparently, it’s possible. I’m thinking about using SQL Server Compact for my database. I don’t need anything fancy for this, nor do I need multi-user access to the data. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with SQL Express either.

Vista: almost done

I’m nearly done moving all my stuff over to the Vista install on my desktop machine. I de-authorized iTunes under XP, so I can use it under Vista. I moved my OneNote files over. Almost all of my key programs are installed and working now.

I’m installing Visual Studio 2008 right now. I haven’t used VS 2008 before, so hopefully I can spend some time playing around with it now. I don’t think I’m going to bother installing any older versions of VS. I don’t really have any independent projects in .Net 1.1 or 2.0 that I need to worry about supporting.

I have Delphi 4 on my XP drive, and I have one fairly important program written in it: the database program that I use to manage my comic book collection. This is a program that I first wrote in BASIC on the Commodore 64, and have ported (or rewritten) several times. It’s probably time to rewrite it again, this time as a Windows Forms app in C#, maybe. I’ll have to see if I can even get the existing Delphi program running under Vista. I never really made an installer for it, and I think I may have used a weird library or two.

I think rewriting an old Delphi app in C# is particularly apropos, since I’ll basically be following Anders Hejlsberg from Borland to Microsoft. I considered upgrading the project from Delphi 4 to the newest version of Delphi, but I don’t see much point in spending time on that right now, since Delphi programming doesn’t seem to be a marketable skill anymore. And the new version of Delphi costs a minimum of $400, whereas I got a free copy of VS 2008 from Microsoft when I went to the launch event a few months back.

Vista: point of no return

I think I’ve hit the point of no return on my desktop Vista install now. I’ve moved over my Quicken data file. It’s working OK, so I guess I’m going to start moving over other key stuff, like my Outlook data file, and my OneNote files.

I’m experimenting right now with mapping a drive to my MobileMe iDisk, and backing up my Quicken files to it. It works, but it’s pretty slow. Under XP, I’d been backing up Quicken to a Zip disk, which just seems so out of date now. There’s really nothing wrong with doing that, but I’m probably the last guy on earth still using Zip disks. Given how slow the iDisk backup is, though, maybe I’ll stick with the Zip disks for a while.

Vista progress

As I mentioned about a week back, one of the two drives in my home desktop machine died recently. Luckily, it wasn’t my main drive. I have now removed the dead drive, added a new 500 GB SATA drive, and installed Vista on it. So, now I have my old XP install on my old 250 GB drive, and the new Vista install on the 500 GB drive. I’m gradually migrating my apps and data over to the Vista install. When I’m done, I plan to wipe out the XP install and use the 250 GB drive for backups.

So far, it’s working well. I’ve got a fair number of key apps installed and working. Vista actually seems to be snappier than XP at this point. That may just be because I haven’t installed a few key apps that are probably going to bog the system down a bit. Well, hopefully, it’ll remain usable, regardless.