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!

Woohoo! My first Blue Screen of Death on Vista. :)

Okay, that’s not exactly something to be proud of because after bragging about the awesomeness of my laptop to myself, it’s a bit embarrassing to have the same old Windows issues pop up again. I will say that Windows Vista is doing a fabulous job of self-diagnosing what the problem is. In this case, the Nvidia Graphics Drivers are apparently acting up. The first blue screen of death (BSOD) happened while I was on battery power and showing someone the DreamScene addition to Vista Ultimate. The next bluescreen happened while I was trying something out that involved moderate-to-heavy usage of the graphics card. Interestingly, the additional factor that I failed to ‘factor’ in was that I had installed Nero 7 Ultra Edition on my laptop the day before I started being plagued by the BSODs. So, I went a little nuts and uninstalled any programs that weren’t actively being used. Something I have been unable to do to my desktop computer. Sue me. 🙂 Anyway, time will tell if I’ve ‘solved’ the problem by installing the Nvidia driver (which oddly is the same version number as the problematic one, but which I installed anyway) from HP’s support site. *sigh*

The best features of Windows Vista (for me) are the self-diagnostic utilities included. I mean, I haven’t had to install any of the usual suspects (PC Wizard, etc) because Windows does all that for me. I don’t have to purchase a dedicated software solution to back up my laptop because Vista Ultimate comes with an in-built PC backup utility. The most consistent question I find myself being asked about the laptop is “what is the difference between Vista Ultimate and Business/Premium?” Well, depending on the state of my mind, I answer some or all of the following:

  1. Vista Ultimate is a combination of all Vista’s features, missing features in Vista Premium and missing features in Vista Business in addition to little extras like Windows DreamScene which gives you a  ‘live’ vs static background. Think an animated gif only that it looks much better. 🙂
  2. Vista Ultimate has Bitlocker Drive Encryption which appeals to the paranoid side of me.
  3. And many more that others far smarter than I am have teased out and beaten to death.

My point: it is well worth the extra $160 I was hit with for upgrading to Vista Ultimate. The other thing that was worth the extra $125 I paid for this laptop was the Intel T8100 processor which is part of the newer line of Intel’s 45nm Penryn processors. This laptop purrs and I’ve amazed at the difference between the desktop and my laptop in terms of noise. The noisiest thing about me on the laptop is me clacking away at the keyboard which feels a little cramped. I guess it was a blessing in disguise that I purchased a 17.2″ laptop because I would not be a happy camper with a tiny screen.

Now, I want to talk about peripherals or accessories for your laptop. When I configured my laptop, I wanted a TV tuner which would enable me to watch TV on the computer. Well, I didn’t and I called HP in a panick and got them to lock in the promotional rate which took 40% off the sticker price. That item arrived yesterday and I got to test it out with Matt who also returned from his trip. I was finally able to retrieve my Logitech V470 bluetooth mouse and ethernet cable from our mailbox because he forgot to leave our mailbox key behind. lol. In a not-so-shocking twist of fate, HP & I have ceased being BFFs (best friends forever). Why? Well, they went back on their word to refund me a certain amount and I have since returned their product to them (i.e. the TV tuner). After giving it one test run, I think I am better off not having a TV tuner. In any case, by the time September rolls around, I will be expecting over $200 in refunds from HP and 3 other online retailers. Crazy and I’m still wondering how the heck I screwed up so badly in getting items that were either incompatible or just didn’t do enough research on. I’m returning the Belkin N1 router which I purchased from Walmart, but then I changed my mind and went with the D-Link Gigabit N Router (DIR-655). By the way, that router, despite the birthing pains, runs awesomely. I feel just as fast as I was when connected via ethernet. That’s pretty darn impressive. I am also returning the Logitech bluetooth mouse because the blasted thing quit working. I was really disappointed because I trusted Logitech and for the amount I paid for a mouse, I expected nothing less than 90% “uptime”. The worst isssue I’ve had was with my IOGear 2.5″ 80GB USB 2.0 Portable External Hard Drive which is the crappiest investment I’ve ever made (I got it in 2006). I also received a sweet deal on a JanSport Lap Station laptop backpack from eBags which is really stylish. It fits my 17.2″ laptop perfectly and I am definitely getting more than my money’s worth. I got it for less than $65. On that note, HP’s currently running a $400-off special on certain notebooks. Of course, my mouth fell open and I instantly ran to their website to customize the exact specs of my PC there to see if I really got a deal or not. Aaaand the verdict is pretty much that I didn’t get any “special” deal except that I didn’t pay taxes which have admittedly saved me over $100. Anyway, I’m pretty satisfied with my purchase and in particular, the accidental damage policy I have on it. All told, I think this laptop will easily be worth over $2,000 after all I’ve purchased as accessories or add-ons.

Also, my Windows Mobile Device Center finally works and it’s a thing of beauty!! I was never able to get it to work via the USB cable provided with my Palm Treo 750 and I can’t tell you the precise series of steps I was able to take to get Windows Mobile Device Center to work. However, here are some tricks I’d tried:

  1. Repairing WMDC by going to the “Programs and Features” section of the Control Panel and opting to reinstall or repair.
  2. Making sure I had all updates for WMDC
  3. Syncing via Bluetooth.

It works perfectly with Outlook 2007 and I am really pleased with Microsoft’s offerings (regarding their Office Suite) thus far. Heck, I never thought I’d abandon Mozilla Thunderbird in favor of Microsoft Outlook. As far as browsers go, I’m still lovingly stuck on Mozilla Firefox. There’s nothing Internet Explorer could do to take me away from Firefox. lol. Here’s a shoutout to my big brother, Nick, who just graduated with his postgraduate degree and landed a sweet gig on his birthday nonetheless!! I felt so bad not being able to call you because Friday was absolutely N.U.T.S. That was the first day of labs for the students and all of us (me, boss et al) were running out for specimens and trying to make the lab nice for the students. I survived and I do wish you all the best! I can’t wait to talk with you.

With that, I bid you “Sayonara.”