Tag Archives: Windows

Vista, SSD, and Sound

So I managed to snag a 32gb flash solid state drive. (Here’s a picture.) I personally think SSDs are the future and a computer sold with a regular hard disk in five years will seem as quaint as selling one with a tape drive is today. However the technology is still really early, as evidenced by the difficulty I had obtaining one, the cost, and the relatively small storage size (larger sizes are promised or announced, but only 32GB is commercially available). 32gb is more than enough for my primary HD, as anything heavy I can store on a cheap and slow SATA drive or on the network.
I spend a lot of time on my desktop, so I’m fairly sensitive to the speed of things there. I year or so ago I upgraded to a Western Digital 10k Raptor SATA drive and I was pleasantly surprised by the speed boost, more than I normally get from upgrading the CPU. So I thought the SSD would be a nice chance to refresh my desktop and also do a clean install of Windows Vista, which I’ve had laying around. I decided not to touch the CPU, memory, or graphics card, which are a FX-55, 4gb, and Radeon X800 respectively. Installing the SSD was easy, I just needed an IDE converter because it is laptop size.

First off, I like Vista better than Windows XP. There are just a lot of little things, like when you press Windows + M it minimizes windows on both monitors, that are a lot more polished. Also, thanks to the SSD, install and boot times are incredibly fast. Launching programs also feels snappier. The visual effects seem fine on my slightly-old video card, and in general everything feels great. There is also a benefit to wiping the OS and starting with a fresh, I probably had some cruft accumulated before which may have contributed to a slowdown. I don’t know if Vista is worth an upgrade, but if you’re going to start fresh I would go for it.

I have run into two problem, one large and one small. First, about 24 hours after I had set things up,  I came back to the computer and it said it had rebooted to recover from a “blue screen” error. I have no idea what caused this, but it hasn’t happened since.

More importantly though, something is seriously wrong with the sound. System sounds, and playing music through iTunes or Windows Media sounds great… for about 5 minutes. At some seemingly random point all the sound switches to this really awful distortion which is painful to the ear. When this happens I have to close the application that was playing sound, be it a Youtube video in Firefox or an MP3 in Windows Media, and restart the application for any sound on the computer to return to normal. This sucks. I’m just using the standard nForce sound card built into my motherboard, nothing fancy, and according to Vista it can’t find a better driver for it. I’ve googled around a lot but can’t find anyone with a similar problem, but if I figure out a fix I’ll update this entry to help future net searchers.

Windows Tip

Something was listening on Port 80 and preventing my local webserver from working on my Windows XP laptop. Here’s how I tracked it down: Hit Windows Key + R, which brings up the Run dialog, then type “cmd” and press enter. You’ll be on a command line.

Type netstat -a -o -n and it’ll bring up a network list, I looked for one with as the local address and noted down the PID of 2600. To find out what PID 2600 was (hopefully not a trojan) I typed tasklist /FI "PID eq 2600" which means show me a tasklist, and filter (/FI) where the PID (process ID) is equal to 2600. This told me that it was Skype.exe that was running something on port 80 locally.

Finally I killed it using taskkill /PID 2600 and Skype was gone and I was able to start up my web server locally and do a little bit of offline coding. Windows actually has a pretty handy command line once you learn your way around it, it’s just the syntax is so inelegant to me after spending all day on Linux terminals. A final tip, you can type /? after most Windows commands to get the equivilent of a man page for that command.

Now for why Skype was listening or port 80 on localhost and serving blank pages… Ihave no idea.

Essential PC Software

I recently got my Sony TX690 back from the repair place, I asked them to wipe the HD to rid me of the plague that is Vista. Here’s the software I installed, in order, after getting it back: Firefox, Foxmarks, Thunderbird, Putty, TortoiseSVN, MIRC, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Topstyle, AutoHotKey, iTunes, EVDO drivers, Filezilla. I will probably install XAMPP later for offline plane hacking. That’s all I need to do everything I do on a computer.