Microsoft Keyboard Blues

I foolishly installed the Intellipoint drivers for my Microsoft Keyboard 4000, and have been frustrated ever since. I assume it’s because it’s a Microsoft product on a Mac.

Anyway. This is the solution.

First, uninstall the Microsoft drivers as described there.

Second, open the keyboard preferences pane:

Mac OSX Keyboard Prefs

Then swap the modifier keys as follows:

Mac OSX Keyboard Prefs

Linux to the Rescue (Again)

My secretary’s machine blue-screened a couple of days ago with a STOP 24 message, which tells you (or rather, doesn’t tell you) that either the disk or the filesystem is broken.

Crash 1 - Windows PC

Fortunately(!) we’d just gone through a couple of weeks restoring everything after a virus infestation, so there wasn’t much on it of value, except for the Quicken bookkeeping data.

I spent awhile learning about Windows recovery disks, and made a WinPE disk that I ought to have been able to boot off. But for whatever reason, I couldn’t, and — honestly — I don’t have time to figure out how to route around Microsoft stupidity.

Today, finally, I had a half hour to spare, so I extracted the hard drive from the Windows box, slapped it into an external USB housing, and connected it to my linux backup server. (Elapsed time: about 10 minutes. That’s too long, but I didn’t have a good phillips screwdriver and had to use my leatherman. Also I was flummoxed briefly by the easy-to-open case on the Dell Dimension 3000.)

Sadly, it didn’t automount on my desktop. I run Ubuntu 9.10, and have become accustomed to it “just working” no matter what I need doing. But apparently support for NTFS USB drives doesn’t come in the out-of-box configuration.

No matter. I hit the internet (specifically, I did a single Google search for “ubuntu external drive ntfs“) and found out I needed to install ntfs-config. The search and subsequent installation took about 2 minutes. I cycled the power on the external drive, and — voila! — there was the drive. I popped into terminal, ran a quick find|cpio, and Bob’s your uncle.

Blue Screens

Man, I’m sick of Windows. The secretary’s machine at church got infected with something a couple of weeks ago. I was only able to get rid of it by reinstalling Windows. I got an antivirus solution set-up and spent, well, a couple of hours, but it seemed like a month, uninstalling all the crap-ware and getting everything down to the bare minimum. My next project was to make a Ghost-type image, to avoid all that work the next time. But I don’t know how to make a Ghost image on Windows, so I put it off until I had a couple of hours to figure out what to do.

That was a bad decision. Today, we got this:

Crash 1 - Windows PC

The infamous Blue Screen of Death

And we got it every time we rebooted, early in the boot process. So early, I don’t know any way past it. So now I need to come up with some kind of recovery media and boot off that, and save all her data.

Then I need to migrate us away from using Quicken and replace it with some kind of cloud-based Web 2.0 service in its place.

And, honestly, if I get that far, then we’re replacing Windows with Linux, because Quicken is the last Windows-only app we use.

Reinstalling Vista

I managed to find a buyer for my Inspiron 1525 laptop. (No thanks to eBay and the Nigerian crooks who have made it useless for selling computers.)

But then my buyer tried to install software on it. And he ran into two problems. The first is that the battery seems not to hold a charge for very long. That one is news to me, but, then, I rarely used the battery except as a UPS; mostly I ran the computer off wall-current. Anyway, the buyer (we’ll call him Mr. X) was installing some software into his new computer, when it powered down because the battery went south.

That’s when problem two occurred. It’s called “Vista”. Somehow the crash (I’m told) clobbered the system so he got the NTLDR.SYS message. That means the HD is corrupted. I don’t know if the OS is susceptible to corruption when it crashes due to a power failure. (Poor design, if so.) Or possibly Mr. X was installing some virus-ridden L337 W4REZ and the virus clobbered NRLDR.SYS. I don’t know.

So here I am now, with a laptop I’d allowed myself to hope I was done with, and the task of reinstalling Vista. (So I can figure out what to do about the battery.) What fun that is.
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Selling my laptop, continued…

In preparation for selling the laptop, I wiped the disk and reinstalled Vista. And, you know what? Vista is halfway pretty. Maybe it only feels that way because I was getting rid of Ubuntu Linux. But, honestly, doesn’t this look better than Windows XP?

Microsoft Vista

Anyway, there are currently about 8000 laptops for sale on eBay, and mine doesn’t show up in the first couple of hundred listings. If you search for a used “Inspiron 1525,” though, you will see it. But search quickly: the auction expires in 1d 03h.

There’s barely enough time for me to be depressed by this article from Bruce Schneier about how hard it is to sell a laptop on eBay.

So far, I haven’t been scammed. On the other hand, I haven’t gotten any bids yet, either. People are running up the prices of similarly- and less well-equipped machines, while the clock runs out on mine. I don’t know what’s up with that. Also, there are 17 people watching. (Really, 16: I’m watching it myself.)

I bought another PC…

And worst of all, it’s got Hasta La.

That’s actually the reason I got it. There’s something I need to do. It requires either a couple of weeks of my spare time to get it working on a Mac or on Linux, or $268 to get a new Dell and do it on a PC.

I’ve mentioned here my earlier purchase of a certified refurbished laptop from Dell. Well, I just purchased a PC with the following features:

  • Intel Pentium dual-core processor E5200 (2MB L2, 2.5GHz, 800 FSB)
  • Optical 2-Button Mouse and USB Keyboard
  • Genuine Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 4 GB DDR2 NON-ECC SDRAM 800MHz (4 DIMMs)
  • 320 GB SATA Hard Drive (7200 RPM)
  • 16X DVD +/- RW w/dbl layer write capability
  • 1 Yr Limited Hardware Warranty, In-Home Service after Remote Diagnosis, 24×7 Phone Support

For less than $300. No coupons, no mail-in rebates. Just order it. Amazing.

I wonder what I can sell it for in 3 months when I no longer need it? $100? $50? A venti latte at Fourbucks?