Tuesday 29 January 2008

Vista Boot Manager missing, along with rest of drive

Just spent 2 hours trying to fix a missing bootmanager error on a client Vista PC. It wouldn't start so I booted off the Vista DVD, clicked Next on the first install prompt to get to the repair options. The auto repair didn't do the trick and the manual options for /fixmbr and /fixboot (see 927392) kept reporting 'specified device not found'. Same when I tried the /RebuildBCD option.

Probably should have taken the hint at that point. When I finally took a look in the BIOS I spotted a missing master drive. The slave was present and looked like a former Windows drive and I think it may also have been a dual boot with PC Linux and GRUB at one point. Bottom line was I was trying repair an old Windows with Vista recovery tools and it was proving to be a little resistant to the idea.

Mounting in another PC and running chkdsk sorted everything out and it reappeared back in its own PC and booted happily. I suspect it may not have required the other PC at all and I could have got away with disconnecting and reseating all the connectors. Wish I'd thought of the easier option first ... and thats why I'm posting at 00:13 in the wee hours of Monday night.

Sunday 20 January 2008

0x800700C1 fix

Probably spent way too long getting this school PC working again ...

In short
As you tried to login to Windows XP Home (SP2) it showed a message and logged out again.
A problem is preventing Windows from accurately checking the license for this computer. Error code: 0x800700C1
The suggested fix for error 0x800700C1 had been try re-registering regwizc/licdll or see 310794 from MS and if they don't work reinstall/recover XP - and more than likely lose your applications and settings.

In short, the answer I found was to uninstall Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) using Safe Mode, which gets rid of the Windows Genuine Advantage that's causing the error. Then reboot and reinstall SP2 which resets WGA. I had to activate again (prob from resetting wpa.dbl earlier) and then install IE7 from MS Downloads before I could run WindowsUpdate.

[After reinstalling IE7 I got error 0x800703EE from WindowsUpdate which I traced to c:\windows\system32\wups2.dll - file length was 0 bytes. Deleting the file and reloading WindowsUpdate fixed that.]

Thursday 17 January 2008

HP source fixes printer

Been a bad HP printer day today. First up was an HP Photosmart C3180 that was happy to print but ignorant about the scan button being pressed. You'd get the HP scan logo initialising on screen followed by an error about a communications failure. Initiating the scan from Windows XP worked fine. Went through a couple of rounds of uninstalling and reinstalling before tracking down a good HP document ('An error occurred while communicating with scanning device') that talks about different solutions, got all the way to solution 9 before I got the scan button working correctly. It just needed this patch.

Second problem HP printer of the day was a Color (Colour!) LaserJet 2500 (tn model). When printing multiple copies of a document from Word, Acrobat, IE, Firefox, etc with a collate option you'd get both prints out ok followed by an error:

job storage status page
Error: Unable to store job at printer
Reason: Printer not configured to collate
Solution: Install an EIO hard disk
... yeah thanks for that HP, identify an error and immediately try and sell the customer an upgrade (is this printer spam!?)
Also noticed that clicking the update button in the device settings (to auto load tray and memory configuration) reported a communications error.

A few months back we were having regular printer errors with this CLJ2500 covering a range of memory overflows and communication faults. I upgraded to the new HP Universal Print driver - bad move. Talk about slow, particularly when loading properties. So I went back to the PCL6 driver and performance was better and curiously much less error-prone. Finally tracked down the collate error in an HP forum and an HP engineer recommending to go back to the PCL5 driver! With that loaded performance is quick, there are no communication errors, the update button works, multiple copies print without a 'buy an EIO hard disk' error and so far (fingers crossed) there have been no job failures or memory overflows.

Problems aside I'm still a huge fan of HP printers - build and design is excellent, support is good and widespread, compatibility is still important with some niche applications and there's never any problem getting hold of consumables or spares.

Friday 11 January 2008

AutoCorrect UK, Missing In Acton

That post title impressed me more than finding the solution to the problem :-)

The new Vista PC is running Office 2007. Once you're over the first month of 'where did that go' its pretty straightforward. Not seen any of the Outlook problems that are described elsewhere. In fact I can't wait to get it all hooked into the new Office Accounting 2008 and see how all that hangs together too.

I did have one issue with Word/Outlook - no UK AutoCorrect. I noticed from the start that common misspellings weren't being corrected (e.g. teh) but never bothered to look why just did a right-click and corrected the spelling. The AutoCorrect was on and the default language set to UK.

Today I finally got around to poking about and discovered the English UK AutoCorrect list was empty apart from a few common symbols, certainly no words. Changed to English US and there are a load of entries and AutoCorrect works fine - well, for most words anyway ;-)

When I tracked down the relevant file which is mso2057.acl in the username\appdata\roaming\microsoft\office directory, I found it was only 1KB. The US version mso1033.acl is 37KB. Checked the original CD and I could find the US one but not the UK.

So a fix, well more of a workaround, was to copy the mso2057.acl from the previous PC's Office 2003 - look in \documents and settings\username\application data\microsoft\office. AutoCorrect burst back in to life and I'm no longer reminded just how terrible my typing has become - except when I'm blogging :-(

Sunday 6 January 2008

Vista gets the snip

Had a pretty good experience with Vista over the past few months. I've got Vista Business running happily on a Dell Vostro 200s with an E6550 processor, 2GB memory, twin 320GB drives using RAID1 and dual 19" screens off a Radeon HD 2400 XT. Good spec, bargain price.

I'd always used Alt-PrtScr to get a snapshot of a screen in XP and earlier. Doing IT support I use that quite frequently for sending out instructions and identifying problems. So I've been a bit frustrated that I could only use PrtScr for a full dual-screen grab rather than Alt-PrtScr for just the active window - haven't decided what combination of Vista / Vostro / Dynamode KVM / old IBM keyboard that's giving me a problem.

Then I found Snipping Tool. Just look under Programs > Accessories or type 'snippingtool' into the Run box (Win-R). Woo-hoo, quick ready cropped screen grabs ready to paste and save. I like that add url option too. My life is complete, well for another 5 minutes anyhow.

Thursday 3 January 2008

Would you like Mac with your Windows?

For convenience and to stop having to restart the iMac to get into Windows XP, I needed Parallels Desktop for Mac. This is a very smart piece of software. The retail box came with an old v3.0 build but you can just download and install the latest build - build 5582 at time of writing. Use the activation code from the boxed copy.

Considering what the program achieves in terms of emulating Windows XP within OS X and the complexities that must involve, the install pretty much sailed through (a bit surprising considering the horror stories in places like MacNN Forums). I chose to use the existing Boot Camp version of XP which it spotted and updated with its own drivers. XP needed activation again after installing, and then again after I'd rerun the Boot Camp version and gone back to Parallels. The last one was via the Microsoft automated telephone activation. Fortunately that did the trick - breathed sigh of relief.

The verdict - so its a bit slower in OS X but entirely usable, very well thought out and very convenient for quickly checking something under XP or running an XP only program. I discovered the drag and drop by accident, moving a file to the XP desktop rather than Mac wastebasket - fortunately it wasn't anything large like a DVD ;-)

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