Archive for October 2003

Reinstalled XP

A month or so ago I did an upgrade installation from Windows 2000 to Windows XP. It sucked. Windows ran slow, there was this persistent hesitation problem where the machine would lock up for 5 seconds out of every 10 minutes… My computer wasn’t happy. So when I got the 200 gig hard drive, I decided to do an install from scratch. You know, ever since Windows 95, it’s been “a good idea” to reinstall Windows every 2 years or so. What’s with that??

The only problem I’ve had so far is that Maxtor insisted that I use their Maxblast3 formatting software and not the XP formatting tool. That’s kind of funny because I banged my head against a wall of “Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt | \system32\hal.dll | Please reinstall a copy of the above file” BECAUSE of the Maxblast3 software” for 4 hours because of that bad suggestion. To get around this problem, I booted to my old XP and formatted the 200 gig drive with Windows and Partition Magic 7. After that, I installed WinXP on the new drive just fine. Patting myself on the back, I figured that one out all by myself.

My Windows XP install is now snazzy-fast :-)

Recovering my XP Key

I had misplaced my CD key and I wasn’t about to pay Microsoft for the privilege of getting my key back so I used “XP KeY ReCoVeRER AND DiSCOVErER 5.12”, XPkey.exe (findable on Kazaa). It’s a 49,152 byte long executable. I had to try about 10 “valid” keys before one worked. Many of the keys generated were deemed invalid by Windows. See “Checking the Product ID” to see why.

  • Log in as the local Administrator
  • Click Start > Run > and type in Regedit
  • Browse to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\wpaevents
  • In the right pane, right-click OOBETimer, and then click Modify
  • Change at least one digit of this value to deactivate Windows
  • Click Start > Run and type in: “%systemroot%\system32\oobe\msoobe.exe /a”
  • Click Yes, I want to telephone a customer service representative to activate Windows, and then click Next
  • Click Change Product Key (at the bottom)
  • Enter your valid Corporate Product Key
  • Press Update and close the window.
  • If you are returned to the previous window, click Remind me later
  • Restart your computer

“Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder v1.41”, keyfinder.exe, weighing 262,727 bytes was also helpful. I don’t think it actually changed my keys though.. I used the Microsoft method, which is next.;en-us;Q328874 was kind of helpful. was quite useful. Here’s the most useful bit of that page:

Checking the Product ID
During the installation of Windows XP Professional, you are prompted to enter a 25 digit Windows XP Product Key, which Windows XP promptly converts it into the system’s product ID. Because of security concerns about piracy, Microsoft does not provide a tool that allows you to view the Product Key (or CD Key) that was used to install the operating system. However, Windows XP Service Pack 1 ships with a list of the two product IDs that are created by the pirated product volume license product keys. (The Product ID can be found by right clicking My Computer and choosing Properties) To determine eligibility for the update, Service Pack 1 compares the Windows XP product ID on the system to this list. The comparison and the list reside locally on the users PC and no information is sent to Microsoft as part of this process. Service Pack 1 for Windows XP will fail to install on installations of Windows with one of the following product IDs: XXXXX-640-0000356-23XXX and XXXXX-640-2001765-23XXX


2 weeks ago (jeez the time flies!) I went to see Siobhan in Boston. It was fun! She had to do some work for her Usability class. That entailed us going to iRobot in Burlington and planning out a usability study of their Packbot. How cool is that? I’ve got to make one derogatory comment… usability graduate students are, by and large, pretty dumb. Ok, I’m done being mean.

I got a little tour of the office space. One of the high-points was getting a look at the boss’ office. He’s got -all- the good toys and robots and models and magazines and stuff hanging from the ceiling and everything! Wee! I grinned when I realized that I was familiar with almost every item in the place except for some of the anime characters. There was one character I recognized instantly for a different reason. Koumori rocks.

Matrix Revolutions trailer

All 45 megs of it! [removed]

Download it with mad abandon, I now have 10 gig of bandwidth/month. [12-10-03 removed because I’ve got scads of bandwidth but limited space :-( )

Fuckin Unisys

I just love my VersaCounter. That’s the hit counter I use on my website. I’ve been having a bit of difficulty getting it to work on the new server. Four hours of banging on it last night didn’t convince it to give up it’s secrets.

But there is a good side… I asked the nice people at Spenix (my new ISP) for shell access to my account and it was granted in just a few hours. I SSHed into my account to run the VersaCounter Perl script and I had the problem resolved in 15 minutes. :-)

As I had guessed (this was just one of my many guesses last night) Spenix has the latest versions of all the Perl modules. This means that the latest GD module -doesn’t- support .gif images. Remember how Unisys sat up after 10 years of giving the .gif file format away for free? Now Unisys wants money for their patented property… Jerks…. Indian Givers… whatever… Well, the free-source community responded by cutting .gif out of the loop. The .png file format works just as well as .gif and uses a different code base. So, all I had to do in my situation was to rename all .gif references to .png, convert the images from .gif to .png and I was good to go! Unfortunately, I made a syntax error when converting but I caught that in a second by running it from the shell (fixing that error without a shell would have been nigh impossible).

Hurray! Maybe I don’t hate computers after all.

PS. See my 12-6-03 entry for the sourcecode :-)

The All-consuming Journal

My friend (and apparently a master of ceremonies) MC Mitchell G. wrote to me today about my journal, almost out of the blue… He writes:

ARGH! I’m trapped inside the online version of your
brain when I should be educating people!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I smile at a job well done.