You CAN install Vista, or server 2008 from a hard disk

The internets seem to think that the only way to install Vista or Windows Server 2008 when you don’t have a DVD drive is to use a USB hard / flash drive. Even Microsoft seems to think so.

Thankfully, there is one site that has some directions that work!

I am going to paraphrase based on my experience.

1. Format the hard disk as NTFS.
2. Copy the complete content of the windows install DVD to the hard disk.
3. Start an Elevated command prompt (if you are doing this in vista+), change to the DVD drive (NOT the hard drive as the directions state), and run the folowing:
Note: d: is the DVD drive; x: is the hard drive from which you are planning to install.

cd /boot
bootsect /nt60 x:

You should not get any errors.

(For good measure, I also used diskpart to set the partition as active. bootsect may do the same thing…)

4. Your prep work on the drive is done. Go throw it into the target machine, make sure it is the boot drive, and fire it up! It will boot into the installer. DO NOT go through with the installer – apparently it doesn’t work.

5. Choose the repair option, skip the partition selection, and choose command prompt.

Type the following:

cd /boot
move bcd bcd.bak
bcdedit /createstore
cd ../sources

The installer will start up again, over top of the already running installer. This is OK.

6. Go through the installer as normal, with the following notes:
a. After pressing the first Next button, it may hang for a short while – again, this is ok, it will continue.
b. If you get a weird error message while trying to select a destination drive, make sure you partition it first. This should fix the problem.

If you are lucky, you can remove the install drive, and everything will work. If you are like me, windows placed the boot loader on the D: drive instead of the C: drive, so you will get the dreaded “BOOTMGR is missing” error, or simply an error saying that there is no bootable disk. Here’s what to do:

Fixing the boot steps (incomplete)

Note: this assumes that your install drive is D:, your destination drive is C:, and that the boot loader was installed on D:

1. Boot into your freshly installed windows.
2. Flag partition as active (this may not be necessary):
a. open an elevated command prompt
b. Run “diskpart”
c. Type “list disk” to get a list of drives
d. Look for the drive that matches the parameters of the C: drive. In my case, it was disk 0, so I typed “sel disk 0”
e. type “list part” to list the partitions. in my case there was only 1, numbered 0, so
f. type “sel part 0”
g. type “active” to flag the partition as bootable
h. type exit to leave
3. Setup boot partition

cd /boot
bootsect /nt60 c:

You will receive an error about locking, but it should be ok.
4. copy over bootmgr

cd \
xcopy /h bootmgr c:\

5. Copy all the unlocked contents of d:\boot to c:\boot

robocopy d:\boot c:\boot /mir /r:0

6. Export the BCD file to the c: drive

bcdedit /export c:\boot\BCD

7. Look through the BCD for any references to D:
This command lists out the boot settings.

bcdedit /store C:\boot\BCD /enum all /v

In my case, three headings were pointing to D: (Windows Boot Manager,Windows Memory Tester, and Windows Legacy OS Loader)
Use the value of the identifier field (yours may be the same) in the following commands to change the copied BCD to point to the C: drive.

bcdedit /store C:\boot\BCD /set {9dea862c-5cdd-4e70-acc1-f32b344d4795} device partition=c:
bcdedit /store C:\boot\BCD /set {b2721d73-1db4-4c62-bf78-c548a880142d} device partition=c:
bcdedit /store C:\boot\BCD /set {466f5a88-0af2-4f76-9038-095b170dc21c} device partition=c:

Note: You may have to replace the value between the curly braces.

You are done. You can now safely remove the install disk, and windows server 2008 (this will also work for Vista, but there are much easier ways to do so there) will boot from your C: drive without the D: drive present.

I used the following post, as well as the poster’s resources to come up with this solution:

Google jumps headfirst onto the hype bandwagon

Google updated it’s logo today to commemorate the fact that scientists today are claiming to have found the missing link.

Included in this logo is a picture of the fossil Ida – the same picture everybody else is using, of a creatue with a long tail that appears to be standing up. (The fossil was named Darwinius masillae … because obviously it is scientific to name it after a guy, rather than the animal species it appears to be [hype])

There are some problems with these claims, and I would have expected Google to be a bit more responsible about it:
1. It’s a single fossil.
Some amateur archeologists found one single fossil, and the entire scientific community goes nuts. All of the claims being made contradict the fact that they only have one. If it were a transitional species, there would be more than one.

2. It it the size and shape of a lemur.
Most of the photos have the animal appearing to stand upright and with no scale. The thing would have looked like a big rat. There are existing species of animal that appear more transitional.

3. The link is a matter of semantics.
This “missing link” is really the answer to a debate among evolutionary biologists as to where exactly primates developed. The actual science involved is rather complicated and mundane. Instead of spreading facts, the PR machine spreads things like “a discovery that changes everything!,” or “finally the missing link is found!”. Well, no; no it is not.

Scientists found a single specimen of a fossil that looks like a deformed lemur, and immediately jumped to the conclusion that it not only represents an entire species, but that it is the evolutionary precursor to primates (and therefore humans). Google usually saves the custom logos for historical events or holidays. That I can recall, this is the first time they updated the logo for a current event…

Ida: Superstar fossil or superstar hype?

Ida: the Missing Link at Last?

Avoid the HP tx2000 series tablet pcs

If you are in the market for a Tablet PC, I would avoid the HP tx2000 series. The tx2115 nr (tx2115nr) is my personal specimen, and I have decided that it is a piece of junk.

Here are the problems (in no particular order):

1. The cursor intermittently and completely unpredictably jumps to the lower right corner of the screen sometimes.
I cannot make it happen, but when it starts doing it, I have to disable the tablet service.
Some people think it is EM interference from the fan, and have suggested turning the screen slightly. Sounds like HP has not acknowledged the problem.

2. The fan always runs, and is too loud. And the CPU is too hot.
For whatever reason, the fan never stops. Even it it’s lowest state it’s annoying, but as soon as you – oh I don’t know – move the mouse, the fan starts going faster. It’s insane.

3. The indicator lights are too bright and cannot be disabled.
This is marketed as an entertainment PC, so watching movies would be expected. If you want to watch a movie in the dark, those darn lights are VERY distracting.
The lights are also far too bight when in standby or even off – the charging light is bright enough to see a room once your eyes have adjusted. For some reason, they though they needed to leave the wireless light amber while sleeping as well, since I might forget that I have wireless disabled while the computer is asleep…

4. Terrible standby time.
My previous laptop could go several days on standby. This guy? After one day the battery is drained.

5. The dreaded Vista UAC / login / resolution change blank screen delay bug.
The Nvidia GeForce Go 6150 (I hear the whole 6100 series) has a bug when using any recent drivers in Vista where there is a several second delay when UAC blanks the screen, when you login or out, and when you change resolutions. This delay lasts anywhere from 5 – 20 seconds (in the lastest windows 7 drivers it’s a good 10-seconds per mode switch, and there are several while logging off…)
Sure, you can use an old, slow, buggy driver to avoid the delay… but why the heck doesn’t Nvidia or HP figure out what it is sitting there waiting for??

6. Disk performance is poor
For some reason, even though the chipset can handle Sata-II, under certain circumstances, it only operates at Sata-I. Here again, generally it requires old, buggy drivers to get it working correctly.

7. Poorly place fingerprint scanner
The position of the fingerprint scanner – on the left side of the screen bezel, requiring you to swipe horizontally – is just plain inconvenient. It might work if you had the thing laid flat for use as a tablet, but this is inconvenient as there are none of the typical navigation buttons on the bezel. Or power…

8. Drivers for the buttons are buggy, bloated, slow, inconfigurable, and annoying.
HP decided not to make the buttons standards compliant – they are some sort of proprietary interface that nobody has figured out (last I checked, the linux community had no idea how the drivers communicated with the buttons).
The result is that you must use HP’s drivers to use the buttons, but those drivers are very poorly written. the download is HUGE, it slows down your computer noticeably, and it forcibly changes the orientation of your screen when you switch into tablet mode — and you cannot change it!!

9. Playback control buttons are poorly placed.
The buttons for playback control are on edge of the screen, on the back side. When you switch to tabled mode, they are inaccessible. Otherwise they are too easily bumped, or require you to reach around to the other side.

10. Crappy speaker quality.
The Bezel says “Altec Lansing” I guess they make good speakers? Well not in this case. They are tinny, and distort easily.

11. The touchpad is unreliable.
Maybe this is just a driver issue, but with every OS I’ve tried on this thing, the touchpad will intermittently stop scrolling. It acts like it should be scrolling, the configuration window thinks it is scrolling, but I cannot get any windows to scroll. VERY ANNOYING.

12. Glossy screen.
Why would they not put an antireflective coating on this? I see more of what’s behind me than what is on the screen sometimes.

Is there anything good about this laptop?
So far, the display hinge has performed admirably.

I realize that this laptop is no longer in production, but I feel it is important to get a followup review out there. HP has ditched support for this thing. The official drivers are all quite stale and there are unfixed, widely reported bugs. I have no confidence in HP’s ability to keep consumer laptops up to date in the future.