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!

Day 3 of owning a laptop. :)

Jeah, jeah! lol. M’ll get those two words. We like to make fun of “gangsta rap” and those two words are staples if you want to learn how to “gangsta rap”. Anyway, this is the third day of owning my laptop and can you tell I’m semi-delirious? My first night with the laptop was, well, how shall I put this delicately? I got about 3 hours of sleep. My second night was better because I was so tired that I had no choice. Tonight, I plan on getting back on my regular sleep schedule. The new-ness hasn’t worn off yet, but I’m already falling prey to some issues.

  1. Issue #1: Microsoft Outlook 2007 needs some serious ass-kicking. How hard is it to send a test message, automatically retrieve mail server settings or change an outlook data file without crashing? This is the third time I’ve had to force my laptop to shut down because Outlook 2007 just stopped working. It’s ridiculous because I’m now scared of adding email accounts because I have no time to save my data when this freezing happens.
  2. For some reason, I can’t assign PrtSc to my Snag It Screen Capture software. What the fudge? I’m not too bothered right now because I’ve found a workaround, but why oh why do things have to break? 🙁
  3. About the fingerprint reader? Well, I’ve finally figured out the correct way to swipe my finger across. Right now, I can log into the PC by just swiping my index or thumb finger. Pretty cool. I still haven’t taught it how to log me into websites directly by swiping a finger.
  4. I called HP and I will be receiving the TV tuner soon at a discounted price. The sad part about it is that I had to pay full price, but I was told I would be refunded. You can bet your bottom dollar that I will be giving them a call on that.
  5. Microsoft Sync and Microsoft Mobile Device Center are not working. This is not a deal breaker because my Bluetooth works beautifully. I just can’t sync my device. This means I will continue backing up my phone’s data on my home desktop which has good old Active Sync. I’m just a little too tired to do the research involved to solve the problem. Who knew I would be longing for Active Sync given all the heartache I’ve gotten from it? lol.

That out of the way. I’d like to say that I absolutely love the Windows Aero experience. I mean, from the Windows Flip 3D feature to the way the thumbnails of folders actually show what’s inside the folder? Check the pictures out!

Those pictures were actually inside the folders. This is one of the nicer user interface changes. I did have to turn off User Access Control (or the famous UAC being mocked in the Apple vs. Windows adverts) because I got tired of confirming that I needed to change the simplest settings. I’ll take paranoid over lax any day though. The other change I think I’ll grow to love is the Windows Explorer interface. I am really growing to love the emphasis on visual stimulation via thumbnails, more descriptive icons, etc. It’s really nice.

Man, I have to say they did a really good job on Windows vista. I don’t even need have the utility programs I installed on my XP machine because Windows Vista does a thorough job of inspecting (or appearing to) and that is key for me. I am being really picky about what goes on this pc so I’m definitely looking to milk all I can from my laptop before having to venture out into the internet wilderness. Enjoy!

By the way, stay tuned to some audio or video of me goofing off using my webcam/mike and Microsoft OneNote 2007!

A fist pump

In less than 24hrs, I’ve gone from the depths of despair to the wondrous heights of joy. 🙂 What about you ask? I’ve upgraded my Palm Treo 750 to Windows Mobile 6.0 without any major mishap. I did this despite Microsoft’s ActiveSync program refusing to connect with my device no matter what I did. I did this despite my investment in a bluetooth usb adapter that refused to sync via bluetooth with ActiveSync. I knew that I couldn’t dare upgrade to Windows Mobile 6 knowing that I couldn’t connect to ActiveSync. Why? Because all my freaking contacts, calendar appointments, tasks etc were being held hostage! So, I ponied up $9.95 for a tool (Sprite Migrator tool) which was whipped out on the eve of Microsoft announcing the release of WM 6.0 for Palm Treo 750. I backed up the items that I could and prayed to heavens that the backup was good. Then, I started on the task of reformatting my phone before even upgrading to WM 6.0. I didn’t want to take any chances of some 3rd party application mucking up this critical point in my phone’s life. After all was done, WM 6.0 popped up nice and pretty. Right away, I noticed several pretty points about it. There are still some features I would like such as being able to do a true ‘soft’ reset that’s more akin to a non-destructive recovery of a wayward computer. Currently, a soft reset of your Treo 750 means it just reboots. Right now, the best feature of WM 6.0 is the ability to turn off ATT’s proxy!!! This means no crossing my fingers and hoping that a .CAB file I pulled off the intarweb ((That’s not to say that 3rd party apps rock at times like said .CAB file. It worked wonders when my Treo was running WM 5.0)) won’t mess with the phone’s innards. It comes already packaged by Microsoft!! This ability to turn off ATT’s proxy means (for me) that I can simply install my Spectec miniSD wifi card‘s driver and pop the little thing in & I’m good to surf the internet. That was however easier said than done. Spectec’s website is not the easiest to understand, but I decided to email the contact person who led me to the files to download. I was able to get online without a problem. Without further ado, I started downloading and installing my favorite mobile phone applications like Windows Live Search, Google Maps, Yahoo to Go, Spybot for Mobile Phones, etc. As I got more confident that I hadn’t irreversibly messed with anything, I decided to tackle my bête noire: ActiveSyncing again. This time, I tried to find some free tool to replace ActiveSync on a Mac, but to no avail. Then, I stumbled upon this gem: there’s a service (Mail2Web) that allows you to create an email account that’s managed by a Microsoft Exchange Server. Well, it just so happens that there’s a feature in ActiveSync on the phone that allows you to sync your contacts/tasks/appointments/calendar to your email as long as it’s on an Exchange server. Without even thinking twice, I signed up and as I speak, I’ve got my contacts safely synced with my Mail2Web free account. Now, for something theoretically this easy, you’d expect me to breeze through it. Not so. Being worried about somehow accidently getting through on ATT’s internet network, I’d click “cancel” whenever a window popped up on the phone about connecting to the “ATT GPRS or 3G network”. And everytime I did this, my contacts et al would sync, but after awhile, I’d get a temporary network error code (0x8502000F). I was stumped and worried that I’d have to do another reformat of the phone to clear the cobwebs in my phone’s brain. I initially though that I didn’t set up the server source right so I deleted the Microsoft exchange connection toMail2Web. I didn’t read the fine print and found out that deleting that server source took my contacts/tasks/calendar/appointments with it!!! Now, I was madder than a hornet. To make matters worse, I’d installed and uninstalled the Spectec driver enough times to addle the phone’s brain such that it would show me as being connected or start randomly connecting even when the darn wifi card wasn’t in the phone!! No number of soft resets could get the phone to stop acting up. I decided to install a WM 6 compatible driver for my phone although it’s really for the Motorola Q device. This was recommended by a Henry who responded to my email for help on the right/updated drivers for Treo 750. After popping the wifi card in and then out, the phone miraculously didn’t still keep searching for a wifi signal. I did a soft reset without the card in to confirm that I wasn’t seeing things and voila! all was right with my world again. So, I decided go ahead and test my internet connection. I got right on. First order of business was to square out the Mail2Web server thingamahoochie and I’ll be damned if I didn’t get my contacts/tasks/calendar back!! 😀 Then, I was able to configure Outlook on the phone to send emails! That’s another sweet thing about WM 6 which has more options for tinkering with important settings. So right now, all is right with my world/phone.

In other news, I still haven’t done my Christmas shopping. I’m thoroughly confuddled as to what to get people, but we shall see. Take care y’all and Thank God It’s Friday!!!!!!! lol. Can you tell I’m really excited!!! I got M to take me to work today and he graciously yielded to my request even though he’s been recovering marvellously from an attack of the evil flu. Wednesday night saw M sicker than I’ve ever seen him i.e. with a 100+ fever. I like cuddling to a warm M, but he was burning up!! I eventually had to wipe him down with a wet towel which he didn’t like too much. 🙂 Still, he’s got some congestion going on and I hope it clears up soon. I also hope my immune system doesn’t succumb to any germs because I had had my bout with some sort of weird illness that lasted one night (Tuesday night). I swear I never fall ill and I think my body’s waiting for me to go home to Nigeria and have the mother of illnesses befall me. lol. It’s the strangest thing to not have been sick at all here in USA and have had lots of bouts with malaria etc at home. Oh well….

Today’s the department christmas party which I didn’t not “dress up” for. In fact, I didn’t take a shower this morning (I intend to later on in the day) and have a scarf on my head which a department worker thinks is a hat?! It’s at 6pm and I’m not so sure if I’ll be going. There’s also another department’s christmas party at 6.30pm which I’m not so sure I’ll be going for either. Then, tomorrow is the lab’s get together at the bosses’ place at 1pm. I’m starting to have second thoughts about that too because of how long it’s potentially going to last. Depending on my mood, I can be a lingerer or an in-and-out girl. We shall see says cryptic Jane.