What’s up? :)

Well, well. It’s been a long while, dontcha say? What have I been up to? Other than working, I’ve been playing with my two babies (Matt and my laptop). 😀

  1. I finally bit the bullet and activated Bitlocker Hard Drive Encryption on my HP dv9700t laptop. It is not as bad as I feared and I’m actually surprised at how smooth it has been. The process of encrypting my disk took place overnight and I was ready to roll the next morning. I haven’t noticed any performance issues. If anything has been wonky, it’s the encryption file system that I’d been using to protect some of my files. What Bitlocker does is whole disk encryption and this pretty much renders your computer’s actual disk useless to someone who wants to know what’s on the disk, but doesn’t have the key. I’ve come to the conclusion that perhaps needing my USB key before my computer can boot up is not such a bad idea and probably more secure. One of the scenarios that has played out in my head is if for some reason, my laptop gets snagged by a less than trustworthy TSA agent, they can’t do squat with the laptop.
  2. The other thing that I finally got around to doing was testing out the ReadyBoost feature of Windows Vista. I purchased a SanDisk 2GB Extreme III SD Memory Card (SDSDX3-002G, Bulk Package) and I can say that since I already have 4GBs of memory, I don’t think my computer’s any faster. To my jaundiced eye, methinks the card I got is bogging my computer down. Hmmph. Anyhow, I got the card for less than $14 so I’m keeping it for good luck. lol.
  3. My cheapo mini-mouse finally died on me and I didn’t waste any time in getting a ‘real’ mouse from Logitech. It’s a good old-fashioned USB mouse because I’m done trusting newfangled items like bluetooth mice(?), etc. Remember my experience with the Logitech bluetooth mouse?
  4. I’m having a hard time with Nvidia’s apparently buggy drivers for my 64 bit Vista laptop with the Nvidia GeForce 8600M GS graphics chip. How hard can it be to produce something that won’t cause my computer heartburn? The drivers on their website won’t work for me and HP’s website doesn’t have any information on this issue. One more bluescreen because of my Nvidia GeForce 8600M GS graphics card and I will be calling HP technical support for an upgrade. Trust me, I’ve become an expert at knowing my rights when it comes to these things. Right now, I’m just waiting for HP’s premium headset to break again on me and they had better be ready to put up with me.

That’s pretty much about it. I’m looking forward to having a great week and I wish you all the same!

An Update on my HP dv9700t.

Alright, dad, I know you’re sick of me talking about my laptop, but I just wanted to provide a status update because I’ve gotten a couple of google queries to certain posts I’ve written concerning my laptop. Several things have changed since I wrote posts like this, this and this. In those posts, I wrote about the fingerprint reader royally sucking. I whined about the Windows Mobile Device Center not working with my Palm Treo 750 and I complained about the lack of a TPM-compatible BIOS on my laptop & not having a TPM to begin with! I’ll start with the first biggest change:

  1. I reinstalled Vista Ultimate on my laptop. When I first got the laptop, I didn’t uninstall certain programs correctly like Cyberlink’s Cybercrapware, et cetera. I also installed a bunch of programs that weren’t 64 bit compatible and they ended up making my laptop rather buggy. So, I called up HP and told them to send me my system restore discs because I was unable to make mine from the laptop. They graciously obliged me and it took about a day for everything to be restored to normal. It was rather painless too. My initial Windows Experience Index score was the same as the first time I received the laptop (i.e. a 4.6). I installed the usual suspects: Microsoft Office Ultimate 2007, Adobe Acrobat Professional 8.1.2, et cetera and updated them all. After installing my essential programs, my WEI score popped back to a 5.0. A quick tip for software updates: always make sure you update the programs by running the builtin HP Update (I’m using version A lot of my troubles came from bypassing that easy way to update the programs and I went directly to the  manufacters’ websites where I got the latest, but not  necessarily guaranteed to play  nice with my HP Laptop.
  2. My fingerprint reader by DigitalPersona is now my Best Friend Forever (BFF). lol. You see, they had released an update to make it compatible with Firefox 3.0 and Internet Explorer 7.0 and now I’m totally spoiled. Granted, I’m not a finger-scanning expert like Matt who gets it on one try, but it’s worth not tasking my fingers too much  and not to talk of the increased security i.e. not having to type my username & password for anyone to see.
  3. Vista and Bitlocker Drive Encryption woes: Well, at this point, I’m sort of resigned to the fact that HP technical support staff is deliberately playing dumb on this issue. All they have to confirm to me is that they do not equip their consumer dv9700t with the TPM chip and I’ll be fine. Right now, my system is set up to enable Bitlocker Drive encryption, but I’ll have to be inconvenienced by using a USB key all the time. Anyway, I think I’m better off without Bitlocker for now. I’ll probably be better served by simply securing my laptop  better and perhaps investing in remote control software like RealVNC, etc.
  4. Windows Mobile Device Center is my second BFF now.  I can sync my information via bluetooth and the cable that came with my laptop. I didn’t have to install any updates or anything. I simply followed instructions and everything went smoothly. The first time you want to connect your phone, use the cable provided. Vista just automates everything and really, just follow the on-screen instructions. 🙂
  5. TV Tuner brouhaha: I don’t need no stinkin’ TV tuner! 😀 Okay, it’s theoretically nice, but in reality, it was a bunch of extra cords and baggage that I definitely didn’t like one bit. I’ll just stick to watching my favorite shows on Hulu like The Office, Hell’s Kitchen, Monk, Kitchen Nightmares, etc.
  6. I’ve made up with Microsoft Outlook 2007. I’ve promised to not start clicking on things while it’s still loading and she seems to be alright. She keeps clashing with the “Send to Bluetooth” addin and lately, has had some trouble with the Outlook Connector addin. Still, I’ve kept those two enabled and keeping my digits crossed. 🙂
  7. I have had some major peeves though: cases in point: Firefox and Gizmo. Firefox 3.0 has been rather unstable and slow on my system. I don’t understand it, but I clearly too invested in it because I’d rather keep using it than use Internet Explorer or install a newfangled browser like Google Chrome which caused me some trouble prior to my OS reinstall. *sigh* And as for Gizmo, don’t get me started. I use it a lot to call Nigeria (my homeland) and it is rather buggy on a 64-bit Vista system. I don’t blame them. It just got too much for me to take and I had to request a refund of my Gizmo Call Out minutes. I’ve currently got Skype concurrently installed with Gizmo and I get a better call quality with Skype even though the main reason I used Gizmo was the cheaper callout rates compared to Skype’s. I definitely see myself still using Gizmo for chat, et cetera. However, until they improve the software for Vista 64-bit systems, I’ll have to use a more mature program i.e. Skype.

And that’s about it on updates. More personal stuff to come later. Ciao!

Getting ticked off at HP and others

Okay, just when I thought my laptop woes were over. I finally decided to tackle the problem of Bitlocker Drive Encryption not being able to run on my laptop. The first HP agent I had was really competent and for the first time, I had the support technician look into my laptop remotely. All she did was basically enable me to bypass the TPM requirement for Bitlocker Drive Encryption to run. Now, I didn’t bargain on having to purchase an extra USB key so I could use an item that was supposedly supported by the manufacturer or else they would have stated explicitly that you will need an extra USB key in order to use the full capabilities of your laptop. For the record, I own the HP dv9700t customized notebook. I just spent a little over 2 hrs on the phone (total) with HP agents and the final “answer” I’ve received is that I need to pay close to $50 for their SmartFriends program because the issue is not a software or hardware problem. Right. Whatever. Because of their pigheadedness, I’m going to go ahead with their recommendation. I am going to reformat my laptop. Yes, you heard me. lol. This might turn out to be more trouble than it’s worth, but I believe in fighting for what is rightfully mine and in this case, what is rightfully mine is the right to have a computer that supports the full capabilities of the Bitlocker Drive Encryption utility which was the main reason I got up-sold to get Microsoft Vista Ultimate on this laptop! I’m really getting irked by this. For now, I’m just glad that the support technician did her magic and that I can actually use Bitlocker. The catch for me now is: am I willing to remember to insert a USB key into my laptop every time I need to boot up for the sake of privacy and security? I don’t have any government secrets on my laptop, but I’ve become increasingly aware (maybe a bit paranoid) of how insecure our communications are. As a test, I fired up Wireshark on my laptop and started up an instant messaging conversation using Gizmo. Guess what? I was able to piece the conversation back together from the packets which were broadcast in clear-text over the wireless network? Phew, remind me not to talk about too sensitive matters over chat networks that aren’t Skype (which I believe is encrypted). For the record, my Bitdefender Internet Security 2009 tool supports IM encryption of Yahoo Messenger and Windows Live Messenger so maybe I do need to quick being so picky about things (Bitlocker, etc) and just adapt to fit what my laptop does support. *sigh* I just hate settling for second best, sometimes.