More Vista Issues

Vista had another major failure today, but it seemed to automatically recover from this one.  After it rebooted it blamed it on video hardware.  So I downloaded the latest nVidia 8800 GTX Vista 32-bit drivers (which came out today – 100.65).  They didn’t install so well (ie: there were errors and stuff seems to be missing) and I don’t currently have an nVidia control panel.  This may be because I have to run everything in “Run as Administrator” mode to get crap to install.  Anyway, the video seems to be working and I’m kind of afraid to reinstall the drivers because more stuff might break.

FYI:  This “Run as Administrator” stuff is really annoying.  If you play World of Warcraft make sure you select “Run as Administrator” when you run World of Warcraft for the first time on Tuesdays because if there is a patch you can’t install it without doing this.  So if you forget the patch will fail and you’ll have to do it again as administrator.

One last thing…  maybe this should be its own entry, but Vista and iTunes are not working so hot after this weekend’s fiasco.   I can run it, play my purchased songs, etc… most of the time.  Sometimes iTunes just sits there while I press play over and over, laughing at me but playing no music.  I’m not sure what is causing this closing and relaunching seems to fix it sometimes and when that fails a reboot has, so far, always done the trick.  I hope Apple delivers a Vista version of iTunes soon.

Vista Recovery

I now recovered enough from this weekend’s catasrophe to share the solution I found and to offer some advice.

Advice:  Make sure you have a bootable DVD drive before you upgrade to Vista.  I had a USB DVD drive on this machine (it’s a Dell Precision Workstation 470 and I’m not sure really why I only got an internal CD-R) and it will not boot.  I’m not sure if this is a BIOS problem or what, but not being able to boot off the Vista DVD made this more difficult than maybe it should have been.

So basically either my Master Boot Record (MBR) or the partition table was corrupted was the starting point for all this.  The machine would not boot.  FDISK could not find partitions.

Here is what I did:

1.  I removed a DVD player from another PC and put it in this one.  Vista actually booted off the DVD, but wouldn’t do anything except tell me there were problems with a device (which I think was the DVD player actually).  It certainly couldn’t find the hard drive.

2.  I bought Partition Commander 10 from V-com Software at CompUSA.  (I also bought another, similar product but never tried it because Partition Commander worked.)

3.  I ran Partition Commander – the CD was bootable.  It found the drive and recognized it had issues.  So I had it repair the MBR, which in hindsight was probably a bad idea, but I did it anyway.  It didn’t solve any problems.

4.  I bought a $64 internal DVD player at CompUSA (at the same time I bought the partion management software, since I figured this was going to be necessary.)

5.  Installed the DVD player.  I needed to to do this to enable the Windows Vista DVD to boot.  It actually didn’t work at first, but I finally got to the point where Vista would boot off the DVD.  However, it didn’t see the hard drive.

6.  So I ran Partition Commander again and had it look for partitions.  It found one.  After messing around a bit I found an option to Undelete the partion.  So I did.  it wouldn’t boot off the hard drive.

7.  I rebooted with the Vista DVD.  It still didn’t see the hard drive.

8.  I downloaded the RAID drivers for my CERC / Adaptec SATA RAID from  This was more difficult than I expected since it was really unclear what was what, but I finally got them on a floppy disk.

9.  I rebooted again and Vista came up from the DVD.  I then had it look at the floppy disk which had the RAID driver.  It loaded them (although I had to choose one of 4 identically named drivers for it to load).  It found the hard drive!

10.  I clicked the Repair option on the Vista DVD‘s main screen.  It worked!

11.  Next reboot loaded off the hard drive and all my stuff was intact.  Wow!

As you may have noticed this involved 11 steps.  I’ve excluded the steps that were either:

a. Unproductive / dead-ends / useless.

b. Involved me screaming profanities at my computer or smashing things.

So all in this was not a pleasant experience.  On the bright side things are working ok now.

Vista and iTunes (redux)

Well I most have gotten lucky before, because after I repaired my partition (more on that in the next post) iTunes basically refused to play the songs I had purchased.  If you are having a problem, this: 

iTunes Repair Tool for Vista 1.0

Seemed to fix my issues.  It was not obvious on the Apple site and some of their other suggestions didn’t seem to work (or were difficult to follow – like Deauthorize all your machines, which it turns out is impossible unless you have authorized 5 machines, which is rather difficult to do without 5 machines.).

Anyway, I hope this helps anyone out there having iTunes issues under Windows Vista.

Vista Boot Failure

Well apparently some part of my Vista boot record or something in the partiion manager got corrupted and late yesterday afternoon Vista decide to stop booting up for me.  At first, I though this was a hardware failure – maybe the bios or the motherboard or something.  Some of the lights on the front of my PC were yellow.  Anyway, after messing around with everything I could come up with to try to fix or recover from this problem I called Dell tech support.  I actually got someone knowledgeable and helpful at about 2AM.  He helped me through some ideas and eventually suggested this was probably some kind of boot record/partition corruption.  

So today I worked to solve this problem.  The good news is I fixed it.  The bad news is it cost me $150 in hardward and software and about ten hours.  That’s a lot of wasted time.  Anyway, I’m going to go get a drink now because if I stay near this computer much longer I’m likely to break something.  (I already got so made I smashed a keyboard… man did this piss me off.) 

After I cool down I’ll have a whole right up on what I’ve learned about repairing Vista.  Also, I’m going to do another right up about some magical thing called Windows Recovery Environment.  Which according to all the blog entries (including one from Jim Allchin) should solve problems like mine with ease.  However, if it actually exists I can neither find it or figure out how to use it…  And I like to think I’m pretty good at this kind of stuff.  Anyway, it might be related to Windows PE, but I’m not entirely sure.  

Anyway, I’m going to stop now before I go off on a full rant.  I’m hungry and mad, a bad combination.  Perhaps a nice glass of Faust (Faust is an awesome new cab from the folks that make Quintessa, which is one of my favorite wines) at Cru will calm me down. 

Vista and iTunes

I just read this article called Apple 2.0 from the Business 2.0 sight.  It says that iTunes and Quicktime are not compatible with Vista.  I am currently running Vista with iTunes and Quicktime and I haven’t had to install any work arounds or do anything weird.  (Unlike dealing with my video card.)  

I have not attempted to hook up my iPod (because I use it only for travel and it’s already configured with another computer) yet and when I installed iTunes it did seem to warn me that there might be an issue here.  But this doesn’t mean that iTunes is broken.  I’m typing this entry on a computer with Vista Ultimate Edition and running iTunes.  I’ve also watched several movie previews on this computer in Quicktime.  I especially like the trailer for 300 – I’m really looking forward to that movie.

My only gripe so far is I cannot seem to prevent Quicktime from taking over every video file type.  Personally I’d rather use Media Player for some things.  Oh well the conflict between players taking over file types from each other is nothing new.  I wish they’d knock it off.

More on the In-game World of Warcraft Scams: Argent Dawn COD Scam, Auction House Gotchas

 WARNING:  If you receive a letter from the Argent Dawn telling you thanks for all your service to them and saying they’ve attached the present as a reward or a token of their gratitude.  This reward appears as a gift-wrapped item (commonly available in many places in WoW, probably the easiest is the reward for cleaning a grime encrusted object in Gnomeragon).   Anyway, it turns out this is a high price COD (100-300g typically) so do not accept it.  Hit return and send it back.

 So this Argent Dawn scam is not the first scam of this type, but appears to be the most prolific.  I’ve received multiple of these letters (on my main and one of my alts).  I know lots of people that have.  I assume it is hitting other servers as well.  If you’ve been hit by this scam, please post a comment preferably with what server you are on.  I’d like to try to get a feel for how wide spread this is.

I’ve seen another scam, this one got me a long time ago, popping up a lot recently.  I call it the Auction House Gotcha.  It’s simple and it also falls in more of a gray area.  It’s probably not a technical rules violation but it is evil.  Basically, there are many trade items (ores, bars, leathers, herbs, cloth, etc.) that have tons of the same item listed.  Because of market efficiencies these tend to fall roughly around the same price point.  Often you will need many of these items, especially if you are leveling up a tradeskill, and you will just click to buy them.  Click, click, click.  The auction house pops-up a buyout notice with the price, but if you’re buying more than 4 or 5 you start to ignore this.  And then boom, you hit the one from the jackass who put it in at ten or hundred times the normal price and you just bought a stack of something for 100g.   Anyway, watchout for that one when you are buying a lot of stuff in the AH.


Outsourcing Warcraft

Well has written a story:  Outsourcing your ‘Warcraft’ skills

I think the point is kind of missed in many places in this story, especially by the “long-time Warcraft player” quoted in the story.  People say this is lame and misses the point of the game, but I disagree.  MMORPG’s have an inherent problem:  they have to throttle forward progress.  There are always a group of people who can play almost 24/7 and get ahead.  So much of the stuff, including leveling up and especially making gold, are repeatative and often boring undertakings. 

I’ll admit I had fun leveling from 60->70 and that was generally fun.  Kudos to Blizzard for putting in enough quests and fun stuff to make it not feel like a hellacious mind-numbing grind.  But earning gold is.  Grinding for reputation is in many cases.  These things are just not fun, but they are throttles within the game.

If you have a job and a life, you cannot necessarily do these things at the frequency level necessary to be at the top of the game.  This is in no way a reflection of your skills and it in no way makes you lame.  If you like the game and you want to stay at the top I think it’s fine to outsource. 

It’s not like you’re having these services run instances for you – they typically are not capable of that.  But if during downtime you have them make gold for you (cheaper, but possible riskier than buying it), grind reputation, or level up an alt (alternate or second) character (so you can try something different), I say do it if you have the money.  Spending money on this is cheaper than a lot of other hobbies. 

I’ve done it.  I admit it.  I think it was worth it.  Anyway, there you have it. 

Flying Mounts are expensive!

In World of Warcraft’s expansion The Burning Crusade you can buy flying mounts.  They are really cool and are also a requirement for many level 70 activities.  So if you play, you’ll eventually have to buy one.  There are two types:

  • Normal:  60% faster than walking and they can fly.
  • Epic:  280% faster and they fly really fast.

The epics are really cool.  I highly recommend them.  So here is what they cost:


  • Riding skill training to 225:  800g
  • Basic flying mount:  100g
  • Total price:  900g


  • Riding skill training to 225:  800g
  • Riding skill training to 300:  5,000g  (requires that your riding already be 225)
  • Basic epic flying mount:  200g
  • Total cost:  6,000g (assuming you didn’t also buy the basic mount in the meantime for an additional 100g)

So for an epic flying mount (you’ll definitely want one) you’re in for 6,000g.  What is that in real money?  Well, I’m glad you asked.  So I looked it up today and found gold (on my server) going for $188/1000g – down substantially from a week ago when it was about $300/1000g.

At the new, lower gold price of $188 per 1000g the epic mount would cost $1,128. (Over a thousand dollars of real money!)

So your glorious new flying vehicle (which Blizzard declares that it own) is almost as expensive as a real vehicle.

Oh and if you want to know how much it costs in time, it is even worse.  My guess is that you can earn 1000g in 20-40 hours depending on how hard you try.  So figuring 30, it will take you 180 hours of gold farming (what fun) to get enough for your epic mount.  If you make over $30/hr in reality land that means the epic mount IS costing as much as a real vehicle at $5,000+.  Of course the fallacy of this argument is that you choose to spend your time here, so what is your leisure time worth?  I don’t know but this seems like it’s starting to get pretty expensive.

More on Vista

So I’ve been using Vista for something like four days now.  In general I am really starting to like it.  It definitely takes a while to get used to somethings… like the back arrow to go back to the higher folder rather than the up arrow.

Some minor things seem to either not quite work or to have changed so dramatically that I can’t get them to work they way I want.  Some programs seem to behave a little badly, like Quicktime seems to take over everything in IE now even when I tell it not to and the only way I can get it to let go is to uninstall it.  Which of course breaks iTunes…  So that’s irritating.

Also when I switch from a full screen application (like World of Warcraft) back to the desktop it has some glitchy refresh thing going on.  Given that my video card has 768mb I won’t accept that this is a hardware problem.  Maybe I need more new video card drivers… which frankly I’m a little afraid to install (if they exist, I haven’t checked).

So I like Vista now that it is working, except for some minor things.  My hellacious experience with the install process sucked and I would warn people about that.  But now that I have it going I like it.  I think the UI is definitely a lot better and certainly cooler and more aesthetically appealing.

As I begin to use Office 2007 apps I’ll post my thoughts on them.

Vista Update: Better

nVidia released a new driver today that fixed the problem with the Apple 30″ LCD.  So now that Vista is running 2560×1600 I can actually use it.  I’ve installed Office 2007 and will start experimenting with that soon.

The key thing:  World of Warcraft seems to be running great.  LOL. 

Anyway, so far I’ve just been configuring things to my liking so I don’t have much to report.  My biggest issues now are finding my old iTunes playlists and stupid crap like that.  I did a fresh install but I guess that still saves a copy of all your crap, which is kind of convenient. 

Anyway the UI is nice and things seem to be running smoothly now, another update will soon follow.