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.

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!

Windows Vista Ultimate on my dv9700t = Sweetness. :P

*dun dun dun dun* lol. She’s here!!! Yes, I am really typing this at 5am in the morning. You see, I didn’t entirely want to do this (wake up this early), but my allergy/unknown ailment/itching kicked into high gear. Voila! I was sleepless at home. I figured I might as well wake up and do some “work”. lol. I have to say that there was quite a bit of crap installed. By crap, I mean stuff like Norton and the trial Office Suites. I have no need for either of those items because I am getting educational/enterprise versions of these tools (not for free, by the way). Just saying because I have a reputation around here and my pirate-y name is Bootleg Jane. I have J’s hubby to thank for that. lol. Overall, I love my laptop. I’ve got a decent Windows Experience Index score of 4.6 5.0. The crossed-out WEI base score was the out-of-box WEI score I received for my dv9700t laptop which is unsurprisingly one of the top sellers on HP’s website. I have since installed a bunch of upgrades and largely (I thought) possibly brought down my score. Well, it climbed up without me doing anything to it except uninstall the crapware that came with it. Here are the brief scores: Note, you will have
dv9700t windows experience scoreto click on it to see the full thing. I didn’t want this to eat up the whole post. I definitely see myself getting comfortable with this computer and upgrading some components in the future. A few words of disappointment:

  1. I was disappointed that my BIOS was not TPM-enabled. One of the reasons I sprung for Vista Ultimate was for the feature called Bitlocker Drive Encryption. Now, Bitlocker can still run, but there’s the perfectionist in me that wants everything to be just right. I can still use the Bitlocker whole disk drive encryption feature. It just involves an extra step i.e. it needs to store the encryption key in a USB drive. I’ve got USB drives out the wazoo so once I’ve backed up my laptop, I’m going to roll up my sleeves and dive into the depths of the murky waters of Vista. *cue evil laugh*
  2. Next, the fingerprint reader sucks. Like royally sucks. At this point, I’m just using it as a piece of decoration. It has refused to read my fingerprint and I’m going to have content myself with signing in regularly like everyone else.
  3. I’m still torn up as to whether or not I did a good thing in not getting the TV tuner. I’m not sweating it though. It’s not a deal breaker. I just need to get me some hi-def content to view to console myself. lol.

I am in love with this piece of art. The only part I’m dissatisfied with is the fingerprint reader. I’ve tried to get finger-printed, but it keeps telling me that I’m too fast/slow, etc. I’m getting a little irked that I added an extra $25 for this feature. In any case, thanks to the timing of my purchase of the Cables To Go 28270 USB 2.0 Mobile Office Retractable Cable Kit, I was able to use the teeny-tiny mouse it came with to get around and get connected. Believe it or not, the experience of setting my laptop up was not as painful as dealing with my desktop PC. I will say that the desktop PC being refurbished probably had something to do with it. That being said, all was not honey and oats in my home. 🙂 For the weirdest reason, the updates kept failing to install until I resorted to installing 2 or 3 at a time. All should be well now because I stayed up rather late doing the installations. I’m also anxiously awaiting my big bluetooth mouse from Logitech and ethernet cord (via Amazon) so I’m keeping my eyes peeled. Until then, I’ve got to go grab lunch. Ciao