My experiences installing a new HP Pavilion d4650y customizable Desktop PC

Purchased October 7, 2006

Configuration ordered

- Genuine Windows XP Professional
- Intel(R) Core(TM) 2 Duo processor E6600 (2.4GHz)
- 2GB DDR2-667MHz dual channel SDRAM (2x1024)
- 250GB 7200 rpm SATA 3Gb/s hard drive
- 300 GB 7200 rpm HP Personal Media Drive
- LightScribe 16X DVD+/-R/RW SuperMulti drive
- 15-in-1 memory card reader, 3 USB, 1394, audio
- 802.11 b/g Wireless LAN and 56K data/fax modem
- No TV Tuner w/remote control
- NVIDIA GeForce 7300LE, w/ TurboCache **
- Integrated 7.1 channel sound w/front audio ports
- HP Keyboard, HP Scroller Mouse **
- Microsoft(R) Works 8.0/Money 2006/MSN Encarta Plus **
- HP Home & Home Office Store in-box envelope

HP Motherboard

  • HP uses ASUS to make their motherboard. It's a special OEM configuration using a part number that ASUS doesn't list on their website (only for OEMs)
  • Too bad HP isn't using the new ASUS motherboards that have no fan!! Now that would be hot if they offered a model that did that.
  • There are 3 fans in the HP: power supply, chassis, CPU. Reasonably quiet but there are quieter fans than this.
  • The Western Digital hard disk included (WDC WD2500JS-60NCB1)

Gigabyte XL800

  • The graphics card included with the system had a fan and didn't have a DVI connector!
  • I replaced the graphics card with a high performance graphics card with no fan: the RX80L256V from Gigabyte which uses the ATI Radeon X800 XL (R430XL) chip

3 biggest complaints with the HP system:

  • They reversed the cable from the personal media drive to the motherboard. I had to unplug it, turn it 180 degrees, and plug it in again. Then the operating system could see the Personal Media Drive
  • The Symantec protection stuff was a major problem causing applications to hang (the ati hydravision wouldn't change desktops) and shutdown, logoff, and suspends took forever...super slow. When logging off, it would hang on ccApp.exe when the dialog box popped up. I'd put in my front page disk from Microsoft to install and it would just hang doing nothing before copying any disk files. ipconfig also hung and returned nothing. Disabling the protection made no difference. I finally uninstalled the entire symantec suite and now my system couldn't be happier. everything is now zippy.
  • The Sonic backup software bundled with the personal media drive is junk. It always gives errors of not finding files even though they exist (the only error free backup was backing up a partition that wasn't in use). And then, when trying to verify the backup, it would tell me it got an error reading from the USB drive. So I copied the backup file to the hard disk, but then it was nearly impossible to figure out how to make the comparison because I don't think it expects you to "move" the archive to a new location. Also, on the backup wizard, subsequent backups were backing up the previous backups! I switched to Acronis which gets high reviews.

Acronis 9.1

  • The bottom line on this software is that it is excellent. I can do an incremental backup of my 20G of data in about 1 minute. And saving the task means 2 clicks to do an automatic backup. It is fast, it is reliable, the tech support is superb (make sure you buy that when you buy the product). I can't recommend this software enough.
  • They have this new add on available called Acronis Universal Restore system - disaster recovery plan template for Windows XP and other OS that allows you to migrate your backup to new hardware (never before possible). Now it that works, it is REALLY cool.
  • The problem with Acronis on my PC is that when doing a full restore by booting from the CD, the safe version could see my hard drive (both partitions), but the full version saw only the USB drives and no hard drives! The tech couldn't figure it out either so I'm sending them the printouts of the boot messages.
  • hitting F11 and removing "quiet" lets you see the boot messages. adding acpi=off noapic didn't work. Adding nousb2 didn't work. Disabling USB legacy mode in the bios didn't work either. So they referred me to get system info via instructions here: PLEASE READ BEFORE YOU POST - Wilders Security Forums. note that typing product after the # will start true image.
  • Unfortunately, i don't have a floppy drive so the instructions posted on the website to save sysinfo don't work. But I do have a compact flash card reader and they emailed me instructions (why it isn't in the post is a mystery to me since floppy disc drives are pretty obsolete). Here are the email instructions:

Please boot from the Acronis True Image rescue disc and press F11 key after the "Starting Acronis Loader..." message appears and you get to the selection screen. After you get the "Linux Kernel Settings" prompt, please remove the word "quiet", click on the "OK" button and select the Full version menu item to boot. Wait for # prompt to appear. Please insert a Flash/USB disk to a USB port and issue the following commands:

# cat /proc/partitions

This will give you the list of partitions/drives available in your system.

For example:
8 0 127744 scsi/host0/bus0/target0/lun0/disc
3 0 80417183 ide/host0/bus0/target0/lun0/disc
3 1 10241406 ide/host0/bus0/target0/lun0/part1
3 2 20482875 ide/host0/bus0/target0/lun0/part2
3 3 1020127 ide/host0/bus0/target0/lun0/part3

Flash/USB drive is visible as 'scsi'. If there are some scsi devices in your system you may find your flash by partition/drive size. If the flash is partitioned it will bring the list of partitions as well.

Then you need to create a mount point for your flash and mount it.
# mkdir /mnt/tmp
# mount -t auto /devfs/scsi/host0/bus0/target0/lun0/disc /mnt/tmp [note: disc should be part1 as noted below]

There can be some warning messages but it is safe to ignore them. If mount fails you may try to use 'vfat' (if the flash is formatted to FAT file system) or 'ext3fs' or 'ext2fs' (if its formatted to ext3 or ext2) parameter instead of 'auto' .

Make a directory on your flash drive to save files to it:
# mkdir /mnt/tmp/sysinfo

Check whether the drive is mounted correctly for writing access:
#ls /mnt/tmp

This will give a list of files/folders located on the drive.

Save 'sysinfo' and unmount the flash drive:
# sysinfo > /mnt/tmp/sysinfo/sysinfo.txt # umount /mnt/tmp

Please, send us the created sysinfo.txt file from the flash drive.

  • But those instructions from Acronis are wrong! You'll get 
        May 19 23:18:43 posh kernel: FAT: bogus logical sector size 20487
        May 19 23:18:43 posh kernel: VFS: Can't find a valid FAT filesystem on dev 08:00.
    Instead, reading SLUG Mailing List Archives - [SLUG] Pocket Disk USB flash drive and Linux it was clear that instead of 
    # mount -t auto /devfs/scsi/host0/bus0/target0/lun0/disc /mnt/tmp 
    which is what they told you, that you instead want to do: 
    # mount -t auto /devfs/scsi/host0/bus0/target0/lun0/part1 /mnt/tmp
  • I tried using BartPE with the Acronis True Image plug-in for BartPE (Bart Preinstalled Environment, created by PEBuilder) but I got a blue screen (BSOD) when it started windows with the Stop 0x0000007B error. Bummer. Tried adding the drivers referenced on bootup (by sorting by the date last accessed in the windows/system32/drivers directory) to the CD and that didn't do it. So I'm not sure how to fix or debug this.
  • They asked for the Windows System information file as .nfo file. It is described how to get it here: Paid and Free support for Acronis backup, security, hard disk and network utilities software, basically Open Start\Programs\Accessories\System Tools\System Information  and then use save as.
  • They gave me an ISO image to burn to a CD to see if that works, but Windows doesn't support burning .iso files (as admitted on Description of CD-R and CD-RW recording in Windows XP) so you have to download a third party utility:  How to Write ISO Files to CD or .ISO Recorder v 2 This is very cool. After you install, you just right click on the ISO file and you see an option to "Copy Image to CD".
  • Here's some other info about burning CDs too: Windows XP CD Burning Secrets
  • The ISO image, which they created especially for my system (based on the Windows System information file I sent them), totally rocked and allowed me access to all the devices on my system!! A customized image just for me and they did the whole thing over the weekend. Their tech support totally rocks. I am one happy customer.
  • I also moved an image from my new HP (dual core) to an OLD HP Vetra using Acronis with universal restore. It worked!! No bluescreen. I was amazed... restore across different architectures. Unbelievable.
  • The trick in restoring over the network is you can't restore from a USB drive connected to a machine. Acronis will tell you that "this is not a backup file." You can only restore from a local hard drive in which case, the exact same file which is copied over to the hard drive works.
  • Also, in using a release earlier than November 3, 2006, when I restored files from an archive using the earlier version of 9.1, the files I restored were corrupted and windows refused to remove them, even after chkdsk. I was not happy about that. "The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable" is the message you get when you try to delete the file. Too bad Norton Disk Doctor isn't sold anymore, isn't it? I found this post helpful: IT Resource Center forums - How to delete corrupted file

Why Outlook refuses to remember your password and how to make it so it does

I finally broke the code on why Outlook doesn't remember passwords even though you check the box. It is SO frustrating and the Microsoft Knowledgebase article on this is no help. If you do these two simple things it works (and you may only need to do one, but I believe that both of these are required):

  • In Computer Management>Local Users, set the "name" (not the full name) to match the name you are logging in as (the domain doesn't matter). So if you login as propel\mkirsch, set your "name" to mkirsch
  • Set a password on the main login into the computer using Control Panel>User Accounts.

That's it. Details now:

This has happened to me many times and I couldn't figure it out before. I initially couldn't figure out why Outlook always prompts carrie's account for a password (even though you check "remember my password") yet for my account, it doesn't prompt me! I at first wondered if it has something to do with a password when you first started outlook, e.g., if at "first startup" time there was no password on the account, i think it always will refuse to remember passwords, but that's just a guess. I tried the reg32 permissions change described in  Save password setting not retained in Outlook or Outlook Express but all the permissions were right. The problem was that the user account name (Carrie Anderson) didn't match the login name for Exchange (propel\canderson). So using Logon Name Does Not Match Name in Task Manager or Under Documents and Settings Folder, you'd use My Computer>Manage>Local Users and Groups>Users and then right click on the name and select "Rename". I changed the account name from Carrie Anderson to canderson to match the login to the exchange server. This doesn't change the folder name in Documents and Settings, but it's good enough to convince Outlook to remember your password since your user name now matches the account you are logged in as. One caveat...after making the change, you won't be able to drag and drop and explorer web page onto the desktop. And outlook will still complain. So you have to log out and log back in again after you change the user name. And then voila, it works!

Steps to swap over the systems and customize things so they work properly

  • Old system has fixed IP so can use remote desktop to get to it. So make the new machine the same name and IP as the old one and change the old one to use a different IP address and host name. That way, people sharing my printer don't have to change their links.
  • install canon printer drivers per instructions
  • Set printer to allow sharing.
  • Installed MS office. Set it so always shows full menus
  • Turned off the junk filtering in Outlook (it is on "low" by default).. Also, unchecked the box to use word as the editor for messages. and set the format to compose in text only.
  • Also, attached my desktop camera to the Gigabyte video card via the VIVO dongle that came with the card. Movie Maker 2.1 allows me to record just fine to a .wmv file. But on playback it tells me I need the codec even though Media Player 10 plays it just fine. I download the old codecs from microsoft site Download details Codec Installation Package for Windows Media Player 7.1 or later, but it still gives me the error when I try to play the .wmv file. So then I read Using codecs which is an absolutely superb reference on codecs. So then i tried downloading the codecs for Windows Media Player 6.4 at  Codec Installation Packages for IT Professionals. Voila! That did the trick! Now I can record and play back using Movie Maker. So my guess is that this WAS working when I got the computer (no way to know), then when I upgraded Windows Media Player to the latest, it must have done something. Anyway, loading the old codecs did the trick. Movie Maker is very slick and very easy to use. I was making movies in a few minutes.
  • Installed Skype but it totally froze on its beta video feature to try out my webcam. I couldn't even kill skype. It wouldn't die if you logged out. I had to reboot to get rid of skype (to be able to restart it).
  • Installed Xemacs. Installed python-mode for emacs. you have to install the autoload code in init.el in the .xemacs directory in your home directory (Documents and Settings\stk\ is the home directory for me). XEmacs will prompt you to move and convert your .emacs file if it finds it in your home directory on startup.
  • Create VPN. Make sure checkbox to use default gateway on remote network isn't checked otherwise all the Internet traffic will route via the vpn connection. Options should include windows logon domain checked. Security should be just Typical. The VPN connection to my company has always been flakey for me (it would simply "stop responding" when trying to send out packets so it was as if the line went "dead") and I finally found out why. I did a cmd line route print right after the VPN connects and then about 30 seconds later. Comparing, I see that the netmask changes from to because the DHCP server supplies it. In short, it changes the netmask to only let me access certain subnets on the corporate internal network. That's because the sysadmin set it up to have DHCP served from a host on our internal network. The problem with that is that the netmask for people internally is such that it gives all the IPs on the subnet you are on. But for an external VPN connection, you want a netmask for ALL internal networks, not just the current one. That's why you can never use a DHCP server that the internal people are using. Adding a manual route in the VPN server had no effect. My current workaround is a route add 172.16.00 mask <the IP address the VPN gave me for my host> which will route 172.16.*.* via VPN instead of just a subset. The best solution is for DHCP to be served by the VPN server using a comprehensive netmask.
  • Windows XP Hints, Tips, Tweaks, and Fixes is pretty useful. I did some of these.
  • Installed FileSync 2.18: FileWare products. Very odd; the icon for filesync is completely washed out on the looks almost pure white. The icons are all in the .exe file for filesync, so right click the icon, change the icon by browsing to the executable. All the icons can be found in the .exe.
  • Hard to believe you have to hand alphabetize the Start menu....anyway, you can drag and drop the menu items to re-arrange the order so it is alphabetical if you want. You can also Explore... C:\Documents and Settings\<user>\Start Menu\Programs and the same for All users. Right click on :"Start>All Programs" to see the menu to do this. I put things in folders so my menu is only one column. makes it easier to find stuff.
  • Installed ThumbsPlus. super easy.
  • Installed SSH. Had to copy the profiles from my old machine over to the new machine. They are in stk/Documents and Settings/application data/ssh.
  • Noticed that when I had outlook running, when I hit Standby button, the computer would enter standby, then immediately get out of standby! To fix this, I went into device manager and for the ethernet card and mouse, I went to the power tab on each of those devices and unchecked the checkbox that allows the device to wake you from standby. That fixed it.
  • In control panel, power options, advanced tab, i unchecked the box to prompt for password since i'm the only one with access to the machine. This makes starting up from standby much faster.
  • Enable remote desktop to my machine (My Computer>Remote tab). Also, put remote desktop client in my quick launch (from Accessories>Communication>Remote Desktop Connection.
  • Notice Internet seemed sluggish. Ping times to my local router were 600ms instead of 10ms. Installed ethereal which now bundles winpcap with it so it is one download. Discovered that my daughter was downloading 2 movies at the same time from her apple. After one finished, ping times were 278 msec. Now that she is finished, tracert times are 10 msec to the first hop.
  • Installed filemon and handlex from sysinternals. These are very handy tools.
  • installed winzip since needed to open .gz files like xemacs, etc.
  • Display Properties>Screen Saver>Power: set to power off the monitor in 5 minutes. So I turned the screen saver off.
  • My assistant's reading pane didn't show the From and To in outlook. Did outlook help on reading pane and got instructions on how to check the box to show this info (View> Arrange By>Custom>Other Settings>Reading Pane)
  • I am getting neck strain with this Samsung SyncMaster 243T monitor i purchased. You simply cannot lower it to be at the right height. Based on the latest research, you should always be looking down at the monitor. See Visual Ergonomics in the office.
  • Xemacs looped in starting up python-mode if you used explorer to right click on the file and do "open with" and selected xemacs. Under the debugger stepping it worked, but if you hit continue, it looped forever. I ended up putting "(debug)" statements in the python-mode.el until I found the offending statement. Commenting out the (require 'compile) caused the looping to stop.
  • If you are restoring from another machine and that machine was in a domain and you change to workgroup to enable fast user switching, they don't tell you that you will NOT be able to login again after you reboot as a workgroup instead of a domain. You old login (from your domain will not work anymore. See Changed Domain to Workgroup and can't Login [Archive] - forums by Daniel Petri and Forgot the Administrator's Password. But I believe that the simple way to recover from that (that isn't listed on that web page) is to use F8 when windows is booting and tell it to boot from the last known good configuration! Then you can create a LOCAL user that you can log in as. Also, I think you have to copy the account over before you change the domain since the account's files may be unavailable after you switch from domain to workgroup.
  • Downloaded unix utilities from Native Win32 ports of some GNU utilities and added the directory to my path so Emacs would be able to compare buffers.

Oct 26 Skytone

  • I purchase a SkyTone speakerphone from Radian. After installing, my system plays C:\WINDOWS\media\Windows XP Hardware Remove.wav and C:\WINDOWS\media\Windows XP Hardware Insert.wav sounds every 10 minutes. In fact, filemon.exe (which is a great program from sysinternals that is invaluable for finding out why programs are misbehaving) shows that they are accessed adjacent to each other! And the skype stuff is immediately after those calls. Stopping the skytone control on screen doesn't solve it. Uninstalling skytone driver doesn't do it. Unplugging the phone doesn't do it. So I uninstall skytone driver, and then reboot and my problems are gone. So the uninstall probably can't remove it from a running OS since it got put in at boot time. But the reboot after uninstall fixed the problem. Now I just have to find out why the driver causes this problems with USB. Even the updated 3.0 driver from the Radian website has this problem. Actually, it appears that the new skytone driver was never installed since the new driver shows a different icon when the phone receiver is lifted. So maybe that was the problem.
  • when connecting the phone, I got a message about a high speed device plugged into a non high speed USB port. Very odd since all ports shown were high speed. Plugged the phone out and back in again and it seems fine; no message this time.

SyncMaster 243T

  • This is a great monitor, but the monitor should be low in height to minimize neck strain. You should be looking down at your monitor. You can't adjust the height to be the proper level, so I tipped the monitor's stand sizeways so that the monitor was about 2 inches above my desktop.
  • Also, the "sync" seems to drop every 10 minutes and i get tearing on the screen for a fraction of second. I do not know if this is the fanless Gigabyte graphics card I am using or because my monitor is defective. I will try a replacement monitor of a different type and see if that screen exhibits the problem. That's a simple way to figure out whether it is the monitor or the graphics card that is to blame.

Steve Kirsch home page
Abaca Anti-Spam appliance (it uses the incredible new anti-spam algorithm I invented. 10 times more precise than anything else on the market).