usb 2.0 not working in windows 7?

Man, I wished I saved some screenshots.

I wasn’t sure when it happened, but I was getting a pop-up whenever I plugged my USB devices in that said, “This Device may be able to perform faster…” and then it said I had no USB 2.0 or Hi-Speed USB connections installed on my system.

It was driving me nuts since I had a combo USB/Firewire PCI-E card installed and my Kindle, iPod, HTC phone, all complained and I was getting slow(er) USB transfer speeds.

I didn’t know what it could be!  I took out the card, blew the dust out, resat the card, etc, re-installed drivers, but nothing made a difference.

Then I read a forum post that said it might be related to the recent Service Pack for Windows 7.

In my device manager, I had three yellow exclamation points next to my USB devices.  The forum post said to delete them from your device manager, reboot, and then Windows 7 would reinstall the right driver.

Sure enough, it worked!

All my yellow "!" are gone!

In looking back through my Google Search History, I see that I saw an interesting thing in my Event Log:

The driver Driverusbehci failed to load for the device PCI

I work with a real sharp Microsoft Engineer and the first place he always looks is the Event Log.

Here’s the forum post that helped me solve this all:

http://www.sevenforums.com/hardware-devices/139441-standard-enhanced-pci-usb-host-controller-not-running.html

 

 

… to the cloud!!!

… to sound cliche.

boo-hoo’ing

So, my precious VMWare node, running on an old Dell 1850 died a couple weeks ago. I lost a drive. I had it set up with RAID0.  Yes, I’ll admit I was over confident. I was surprised how quickly that drive died, but I lost everything. I lost years of work: my SVN repositories, my Asterisk configs, my DNS records, the list goes on.

A good friend of mine said, “It’s time to go to the Cloud; It’s awesome.

He was right. In recent months, I’ve relied heavily on DropBox and more recently on Box.net, and even more recently on Microsoft’s Skydrive, but what was I going to do with my other services?

… back in my day…

It’s been so many years since I’ve run a server in my basement. Even before my kids were born.  I was one of the first people to get aDSL in Atlanta: this was when the phone company still did a truck roll to their customer’s house.  I ran a FreeBSD box, (I think 4.5), that did PPPoE with a really old 10Mbit switch.  Ever since then, I had a box in the basement doing things.  I used to run mail servers, web servers, media servers, network drive, internal DNS, and even an Asterisk PBX.

Continue reading

Making Snow at home!

we had a white Christmas

Well, it is almost that time of year and since here in Georgia, we did get snow on Christmas Day, (the first time since 1882), I thought it might be cool to post my video of me and my brother-in-law making snow last year.   I was surprised at the amount of views this got on Youtube and I’ve been enjoying reading the comments.

I don’t know if we’ll try again this year, but I bet we will.

Enjoy!

winxp mode, virtualbox, and VMware Player

Man, I haven’t posted in a long dang time. I’ve been working on a lot of really different and cool things at work and at home.

backdoor man

The other day, I read a post about using split tunnel vpn on WinXP Mode on Windows 7. I like this idea. Essentially, it is simply setting up a virtual machine, installing VPN software on the virtual machine, and using the virtual machine to VPN into your destination network.

I like it for a couple of reasons:

  • My host OS (Windows 7) continues to do whatever it was doing, (bitorrent, IM, etc).
  • My WinXP virtual machine can be 100% dedicated to work stuff

Don’t get me wrong. For work, I have a really nice Macbook Pro. And in the office, I have all the accessories set up so I can just “plug in” and be productive. But at home, I have a pretty beefy Win7 machine and I like using the big monitor and ergo keyboard.

keep moving forward

I was using LogMeIn to access my Mac from my Win7 desktop, but it wasn’t great. I use Virtualbox on my Win7 desktop with Ubuntu Linux and love it, but the VPN doesn’t work great, so and I really need some of the Microsoft functionality.

So, I tried to get it set up with WinXP Mode and it worked pretty well. I installed Office 2007 and use Ninite to install my typical Windows apps. It worked great.  I used WinXP Mode for a couple of days with work and it was okay; I’ve got no major complaints… except I don’t care for the Virtual PC interface and graphic performance stinks.

At first I ran the VMWare converter utility and I created a Physical to Virtual machine and stored the .vmdk on a different harddrive.  Then I installed the VMWare Player and discovered it had an option already to “import Win XP Mode Virtual Machine.” How cool, I thought!

… and so it begins

Computers sometimes suck.

Computers sometimes suck.

After a few minutes, the import completed and I tried to fire it up.  I got an error message that said, “Unable to connect to this virtual machine. Make sure you have proper permissions…. etc” or something along those lines. Uh-oh, I thought.

So then I went to open the converted image I created and got the same error.  Boo!  At that point, I tried to start Virtualbox and I got an even more cryptic error about some kernel.dll not being able to load.  I assumed it was a conflict between VMWare Player and Virtualbox.  So I uninstalled the VMWare Player.

After a reboot, (to complete the de-installation), Virtualbox started up fine, I opened the .vmdk I created and it did open!  I thought I was making progress.  Then, as I read elsewhere, WinXP Mode wants to reactivate itself under Virtualbox.  I couldn’t even get logged in. Upon attempting to activate, it said my product code was invalid.

success!

Still, I was very intriqued about the VMWare Player’s WinXP import utility so I decided to reinstall it and try again.  This time, after I installed it, I did not reboot my system as the installation process requested.  Instead I tried the import again… and it worked!

It installed VMWare Tools… the only drawback was that it was the original WinXP VM so none of my installed apps or settings were there.  That’s cool, I thought since you always can do something better the second time around!

So right now, I just finished installing my favorite free apps using NiNite, and am installing Office, Communicator, and my companies VPN software.

So far, I can say the experience with VMWare Player is much better than the original WinXP Mode.  The VM is noticably faster and the graphics is very much improved.  My host system is pretty beefy, so YMMV, but here’s my settings for my WinXP VM:

  • Memory: 768MB
  • CPU’s: 2
  • Network Adapter: Bridged
  • Sound Card and Display: Autodetect

Great Success!

You can find the links to all the software I used if you want to play along.

Windows 7 motherboard swap

This is really cool.  If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you’ve probably seen me rejoicing over my new purchase of a motherboard and AMD CPU at Fry’s this last weekend.

I’ve been upgrading parts of our home Windows desktop and handing down parts to my FreeBSD server and my (now retired) Asterisk server. (The physical hardware has been retired, but the server image lives on my VMWare ESXi server in my basement).   For the longest time, I would have considered myself an Intel man, but honestly I don’t have fanboy tendencies either way.

But I saw my deal at Fry’s this past weekend, I asked my wife if could get executive approval for the upgrade purchase, and she said yes!  Here’s what I got for $149 (plus tax) after rebate:


//
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Now, I had a rather old Asus Socket 775 Intel based, Via chipset motherboard and a Pentium D 820. That was a dual core CPU and I wasn’t really too happy about the Asus motherboard. I mean, it was okay, but wasn’t great.

In preparation of my upgrade I began researching on what would be the best way to handle replacing the motherboard from under my Windows 7 installation.  In the past, I would try to get a new motherboard as close to as what I was replacing, and then make the swap, and do a repair installation of WinXP.

I cruised around a couple of the more popular Windows 7 forums and the consensus I was getting was that I should do a “new installation.” The installation process would create a Windows.old and I would have to reinstall and restore my files, (yes, I do have backups).  Then I saw something that blew my mind…

One forum poster claimed that he swapped motherboard and Windows 7 impressively detected the changes and proactively installed the necessary drivers for the new motherboard and after a reboot, he was as good as new.

It’s true.

I decided to try this. With the expectation that at the worst, I would do a “new install” of Windows 7.  I made my swap of the motherboards, plugged everything in, hooked up the bare minimum, (keyboard, mouse, network, monitor), powered it on, went into the BIOS and set my C: drive to the first boot device and let it rip!

It worked.

As proof, here’s a video of my upgrade. I took the chance that it would work, and recorded it with my Flip HD.  The whole thing took 16 minutes from start to finish, but I edited my video down to six minutes.

As you can see, after the reboot I was back in business with quad-core goodness! And here’s a video of me updating my Windows 7 User Experience Index:

Notice my CPU index went from 2.2 to 7.2! Now to be clear, I did have some minor clean up issues:

  • I had to uninstall my ATI Radeon drivers since I wasn’t using that card any more.
  • I did have to install some drivers from the included CD
  • I did have to flash the BIOS to the latest
  • I did have to use the automated Microsoft Activation via the phone, but it was painless.

Overall, it was an exceptional experience!  I never thought I would have a quad-core CPU at home, and I certainly never thought Windows 7 would continue to be this awesome!

Finally, this worked wonderfully.  Here’s a comparison of what I went from and what I went to:

Old Setup New Setup
  • Intel Pentium Dual Core CPU
  • VIA Chipset
  • ATI Video Card
  • AMD Quad Core CPU
  • Nvidia nForce Chipset
  • Nvidia Onbard Video

non-traditional job interviewing advice

Following up with my previous post about non-traditional resume help, I had also given a few pointers to friends about interviewing. I’ve distilled them here:

  • In this economy, there are tons of people out looking for jobs and willing to take anything.  If you are a senior person, and you apply for a junior position, you probably won’t get the job.  Employers are savvy about this, and realize once the economy gets better, you’ll probably leave as soon as you can for a better paying job.
  • And you should, (if you got the job!)! Companies lay people off all the time; it’s a business decision. You and your family should be your number one business.  Think of it as a business decision that is good for you and your family!
  • Remember that the interview is for both involved parties. You should be interviewing your new company, boss, position, growth potential, quality of work/life balance, etc.  See how they treat you during the interview process.  Did they offer you bathroom breaks, sometime to drink or eat?
  • Are the people interviewing you qualified to assess your skills and/or qualifications?  If your hiring manager is not knowledgeable in your skill set, there will be some frustration around expectations.  I was recently asked to interview a candidate for a Cisco Network Engineer position.  I know nothing about the technology, I was brought in to evaluate the guy’s personality. But I was able to asses his ability to learn, lead, personality, and if he could get the job done if given what he needed.  I would not have been able to gauge his technical skills. I was upfront and honest about this.
  • If you get pre-screened by HR or the recruiters, they’ll ask you what you make now or what you made before. DO NOT give them a number until it comes down to an offer. If you give them a number, and it’s lower than the range for the position, they’ll give you that.  You can always say, “Before I give you a number, I want to learn more about the position. Until then, it’s hard for me to give a number that I think is appropriate…” or something along those lines.  If they press you for a number, I would give them a number around 10% above your current or last salary amount.  Don’t tell them, “I’d like to make, $XZY.”  Instead, make it a definite statement, “I am looking to make $XYZ!”
  • Remember, if you get an offer, to consider the total benefits package; vacation, sick time, work at home policy, breaks, insurances, etc, commute, along with the salary.  Work is not just about making a salary. It is also about these things, too.
  • Vacation is always a negotiation-able.  While HR says, “Nope, our standard policy is two weeks” you can always work out a deal with the hiring manager. Just get it in writing from them in case you move under a new boss or he moves out of their position.
  • Sometimes, a severance package is also something you can negotiate for.  “Since I was laid off at my last job where I was at for twelve years, I would feel more safe if some accommodations were made if I was to be let go within my first six months while I am here.”
  • When you get an offer, ALWAYS say, “Thank you.  I need 24 hours to think about it.” If they say, no, then you don’t want to work for them.  You do need to think over every offer and at least sleep on it and talk it over with the family.  Be sure to get back with them either way by the time you committed to.
  • Be prepared to ask questions or do the interview yourself.  Some people just aren’t good interviewers.  One guy I interviewed with when I was being interviewed was clearly uncomfortable so I began asking about his family, kids, etc and we talked for the whole hour about that sort of stuff.
  • This is a good one, but kind of scary.  When the interview is over, ask them if they have any reservations on hiring you. This might catch them off guard, but otherwise it will throw the door wide open for more discussion if there is any concerns. The interviewer might say, “Well, as a matter of fact, I am a little concerned about your lack of experience in XYZ…”  This gives you, as the interviewee, to specifically address this.  In this case, maybe you answer, “While I haven’t done XYZ, I have done ABC which is the same skill set…”  who knows.  But if this guy was worried and the interview ended and it never came up, it could hurt your chances when the other candidates are considered.

I hope you find these helpful.  These come from mypersonal experience as well as some other job finding groups I belong to.  If you have more ideas, I’d love to hear them!

Windows 7 is pretty slick…

Nothing fancy to see here, but I’ve been getting a lot of questions around Windows 7. I figured I’d answer them. I recently attended a Microsoft event here in Atlanta where they handed out full copies of Windows 7 Ultimate. They handed out the 32bit version but I can verify that the same key will work on the 64bit version.

Q. Do you like Windows 7?

A. I love it.  I can honestly say that “it just works!”

Q. Why do you like it?

A. Well, at work I use a Mac, and I know it sounds cliche to say that Windows 7 is very Mac-like, but it is.

Q. Will it work with my system?

A. My PC is best a “franken-puter” that I’ve rebuilt and upgraded parts of it over the years.  Not only do I see a impressive performance improvement, I have yet to manually install any drivers.  Win7 found ’em all. So yeah, I’m willing to bet it will certainly work with your system.

Q. Can you get me a copy?

A. Alas, no.  But if I get some more Google wave invites, I might be able to hook you up with that.

Q. Are you using Antivirus? If so, what do you use?

A. Yes, I am using Anti-virus. You’d be nuts not to.  I am personally using Avast.

Q. Are you aware of anything that doesn’t work with Win7?

A. Yes, I know of a few things that don’t work.  Mainly the only thing I really want to use is VMWare’s VI client.  It will not run under Windows 7, or at least the version I’m using.  I’ll check for an update after I finish this post.

Q. I heard you have to format and reinstall if you are upgrading from WinXP? Is that true?

A. Yes, it is, and you know what? I am SO glad I decided to take the plunge.  I backed up all my users Documents and Settings using the WinXP back up utility and was able to restore them and I am so glad I did. Remember, I said my computer have been rebuilt and upgraded many times. Starting “fresh” allowed me to eliminate a bunch of crap and set some things right.  No regrets! Just plan for it and you’ll be in good shape.

Q. What else have you installed on your “new” system?

A. Since I started fresh, I have installed only stuff that I need. I’ll continue to install stuff as I need ’em, but here’s what I installed so far:

If you got other questions, please let me know! I’m sorry I didn’t have a more catchy post title.

How I manage Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc

First, this is not going to be an article on how to make money with Twitter, social networking, or Facebook.  This is simply a post about how I’ve recently came to peace with managing my virtual life.

why?

Good question.  Let’s face it, in this day and age, when anyone wants to find out more information about you, they’ll hit Google and put in your name.  As a I hiring manager, I would hope any potential employee I’m interested in is involved and engaged in some online community.  As a potential hire, I am proud of the work and contributions I’ve made to the Internet at large, and I would hope to stand out against my competition.  If I ever decide to look for job in the future, look at the great network I have to work with.

It’s also fun! I don’t need to bore you with examples of friends I got back in touch with, or how my current position I got through networking.  I’d rather share examples about new friends I’ve made, many of which I’ve never physically met, but we’re connected to each other in other ways.

It’s a great resource!  I am sure many of you have had an experience where you said something on Twitter and then a company spokesperson, or someone you didn’t know offered help.  A couple of months ago, I tweeted some things about the book “Visible Ops Handbook” and I started tweeting back and forth with the authors, who were really nice and helpful.  How cool that I can connect with an author of book that really helped me!

The future knows no limits!  Let’s just say, that one day I might get tired of being in IT Operations and I want to social media or product development instead? It could happen.  And if I wanted to reach out to get inspiration and encouragement I got a place to go, and one never knows where my connections could lead me.  Who knows, maybe you really can make millions on Twitter, (although… for the record, I seriously doubt it).

what?

Okay, of course I use Twitter and I love being able to integrate with Facebook.  I also started using twitterfeed and tonight I just started using HootSuite.  Sure, I also use the other usual suspects, too. But just not as much:

  • friendfeed
  • Ping.Fm
  • Bright Kite
  • FourSquare
  • CoTweet
  • Plaxo
  • plurk
  • LinkedIn
  • Brazen Careerist

I’ll explain how these tie in later.

how?

Hang with me on this.  This all ends up everywhere, but I’m gonna break it down for you.  Consider this: Twitter essentially feeds everything!

twitter + facebook

This is the first step.  You got your Twitter account, right?  And you’re on Facebook?  Sure, there was a Twitter Facebook app, but as I have evolved with my Twitter usage, (we’ll still get to that), I didn’t want to bombard my Friends on Facebook with everything.  Especially since they can be a different audience.   I saw one of my friends was using a Facebook App called, “Selective Twitter Status.”  The way this works is you just put this hashtag in your Twitter update: #fb

Selective Twitter Status

Then it will be posted on your Facebook profile. If it doesn’t have #fb it won’t be posted on Facebook! By the way, the icon above is a link to the app.

twitterfeed + twitter + bit.ly

Remember I said Twitter is the source?  I started using Twitterfeed to post articles I normally post to Twitter.  Basically, once you create your Twitterfeed account, you subscribe to RSS feeds.  Then if you are willing to try to grok the advanced features, you can really do some cool things.

I have my favorite RSS feeds, set to check hourly, and then post one or two articles.  I don’t want my followers/readers to get burdened with too many automatic posts.  Now here’s the secret sauce! In the Advanced Options, I can prepend something.  So if I want it to go to Twitter and Facebook, I simply tell it to append #fb to the post.

Okay, so what’s the big deal about bit.ly you ask? bit.ly allows you to shorten URL’s, which is critical to keep under the 140 character limit for Twitter.  Now, if you actually take the time and go sign up for a bit.ly account, you get some cool things like a handy dashboard and your very own bit.ly API key!  You can do all sorts of cool things with this if you use TweetDeck, Seesmic, Hootsuite, Twitterfeed, etc.  You will be able to see what’s getting the most bang for your buck.  I can now see how many of my followers are clicking on my shortened URL’s and adjust accordingly.  Remember, I don’t want to flood my followers/readers so they’ll unfollow/unfriend me.

posterous.com -> twitter + facebook

This is one of the cooler sites that integrate with Twitter, I believe.  I would consider it a supplemental blogging site.  It’s not my main blog and it isn’t something I post to all the time.  Rather, it’s something I use to post cool news articles I come across in my daily Internet journeys. I have it set up that posterous.com posts both to Twitter and Facebook, so I don’t use the #fb here.  You can see my Posterous here, if you want:

http://jpabian.posterous.com/

what about ping.fm?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s awesome! But I went to relying on my apps posting to the various sites as opposed as letting a single place do it.  I started having too many double posts on my sites, so I figured with a little trial and error, I could make it less annoying for my readers/followers.

other tools?

I use Twitterberry on my Blackberry.  I love how easy it is to fire off an update.  I also have UberTwitter on my Blackberry, but don’t use it too much.

I use Twidroid on my T-Mobile G1.  It’s much better than it was when it first came out. It’s a full functioning Twitter client.

On my Mac, I used TweetDeck and just went to Seesmic.

On my WinXP desktop, Adobe Air has an issue, and Tweetdeck and Seesmic won’t work, but Twirl does.  You just got to remember to use the #fb hashtag.

As I mentioned, I started using HootSuite.  It allows you to schedule tweets.  For example, my wife, @lilyan is going to be on the Today Show on 9/21/2009 at 8:30 so I want to be able to tweet about it to remind our friends.  I schedules several Tweets over the next few days to remind people, and I did include the #fb hashtag.

that’s it?

Yes, for now.  But I am always looking and trying new and different tools.  But the way I’m doing it now is pretty manageable and is working well for me.

You have questions or suggestions?  I would love to hear them so send them along!

Thanks!