Ubuntu One Subscribed Folders

As followers of my blog know, the hard drive in my laptop recently failed, forcing me to reinstall both Ubuntu Lucid Lynx (10.04) and Windows 7. Fortunately on the Ubuntu side, I did have Ubuntu One set up with the free 2GB account, which is a cloud-based backup service. However, I found that once I entered my account credentials and expanded the reach of Ubuntu One’s synced folders a bit, only the new folders were syncing: my Documents, Music, and Pictures had the menu option present to sync them on Ubuntu One, but no matter what I did I could not get them to actually sync.

Then, via the Ubuntu One FAQs, I found the key is the command line tools u1sync and u1sdtool. These are both part of the ubuntuone-client-tools package, not installed by default. (more…)

Hard Drive Saga

As those following my Twitter feed (on Facebook, here or Twitter) know, the hard drive in my laptop failed a couple days ago. The warning signs when it finally failed were pretty impossible to ignore: I had two operating systems installed on the computer. One (Ubuntu LTS 10.04) would not boot at all (“Could not find /sbin/init”), and the other (Windows 7 x64 Ultimate) would boot but was running extremely slowly. It seemed the damage was much more prevalent in the areas that stored the Ubuntu “disk” (really just a file on the Windows NTFS partition), which was quite maddening because I had just downloaded a bunch of songs from Napster. (more…)

Best Buy Software Installer: Win, or Fail?

Much of the tech reporting blogs and websites have already started to spread the word about the Best Buy Software Installer (“BBSI”), just days after some websites started making the claim that the Geek Squad Optimization service is a “Big Stupid Waste of Money”. But what some of these pundits may not know is what the BBSI is, or how it is supposed to radically change the way people buy computers today. I’ll try to break it all down.

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KB973879: Or, How Microsoft “Inadvertantly” Pushed SP2 To All Vista Machines.

Anyone in the computer repair industry knows, when an update comes along that just doesn’t work properly, whether it be an operating system patch, application patch, or a new version of a driver, that singular bad update becomes the bane of all technicians for anywhere from a few weeks to months, depending on the app it’s patching and the conditions required to recreate the issue.

This was one such instance. On Tuesday August 25, 2009, Microsoft released the KB973879 update to the Microsoft Update service. Since many Windows-based computers run with automatic updates enabled, this update was installed, which was released to correct an infrequently-noticed error that only occurs during the installation of Vista Service Pack 2. However, it appears to have been tested incompletely as on many computers (most of them, from our informal observations, appear to be HP notebooks for some reason), the installation of this patch will cause a severe bluescreen issue (0x7E). This will only occur on 64-bit editions of Windows Vista SP1 however.

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MS Office 2007: Activation?

Recently, as readers of this blog will know, I installed the Windows 7 RTM bits on my laptop, removing everything else that was on there (including Windows 7 RC, Windows Vista Home Premium, and the Kubuntu install I never use). Of course, as part of this I had to reinstall Office 2007 Ultimate, which lead to an interesting problem: Whenever I tried to activate Office, it would give an error stating there was no connection to the internet. Strange, to say the least, because I was surfing the web at the same time.

It gets stranger, though. When I tried to use the “Activate by Telephone” option, the Activation Wizard would dump me out, not even loading any data relating to phone numbers or giving me the lengthy set of numbers I would need to give their computer for activation. Finally after tracking down Microsoft KB 919895, I was able to fix the problem. Below the cut, step-by-step instructions for fixing this rather annoying problem: (more…)

Optimizing Laptop Drive

By now, I’m sure most people have heard of the release of Windows 7. Those more in the loop know that the final releases were placed on TechNet on Thursday morning. Fortunately, I got on the downloading wagon before most people on that day, so I now have the Gold edition of Windows 7 Ultimate running on my laptop.

The road has been long and hard, though. (more…)