Sunday, December 10th, 2006
1:06 pm - Back in Action...  
Swifty (nee Suzily*) is up and running, and it only took three installs of XP to do it. The first major problem was on the very first attempt. During the initial loading of files from the XP CD, before it even asked me if I wanted to install XP, I got a blur screen o'death with the ever so informative error message "SESSION3_INITIALIZATION_FAILED." Ruh roh. I toggled my shiny new KVM switch (another recent purchase, for way less than list) over to Flash (my old Win95 machine), and googled. Turns out the message just means that XP is having trouble physically reading the disk. A little bit of canned air applied to both the disk and the inside of the drive solved the problem. Frelling drama queen software.

That hurdle out of the way, I wiped the system partition, recreated it, and started the first install. Forty-five minutes later, I scrubbed it because I wasn't paying attention, and had created a bunch of spurious user names right off the bat. I hate that XP Pro refuses to consider the possibility that there might only be a single user using the machine. Worse, it hides the Administrator account by default.

The second install went better. I created the required user account, then logged in as the administrator and deleted it. Edited the registry to get rid of the stoopid balloon tips that keep popping up. To do that, run regedit, then drill down through the keys to:


and create a new DWORD key called "EnableBalloonTips" with a value of "0."

I installed the chipset drivers and the LAN drivers. Another annoying thing about the XP install process is that during setup, it detects the on-board firewire port, and decides it's a network adapter, but it doesn't detect the on-board ethernet port, ya know, the actual network adapter. This can cause great confusion later when the poor befuddled operating system get huffy because you're trying to connect to the internet via an ethernet LAN connection rather than doing internet connection sharing through the firewire port.

Still, I got it talking to the interbunny, and then went through several lengthy Windows Update sessions ugrading to XP SP2. XP requires more patching than a Rhody highway. Next it was time to install the video drivers. At work, I normally do this at the same time as the LAN driver, but ATI's website recommended I wait until SP2 was in place. These new fangled video adapters are finicky, so I didn't want to take any chances. There are five separate downloads to do, but fortunately ATI seemed to have a nice tutorial on their site for doing everything in the right order.

First up they wanted me to install Microsoft's .NET Framework, but they had a link to the download site, so that was easy enough. Got it installed, then started installing the first ATI driver package. Midway through, up pops a very condescending error message saying that the package needs .NET Framework 2.0 to work, and I'd only installed .NET Framework 1.1. Of course, it was ATI's tutorial that linked to .NET 1.1, but the message was remarkably silent on that. Sigh.

The problem here is that ATI's video drivers are notoriously bad mannered when mis-installed, and remarkably difficult to completely scrub away once they're in place. I didn't want to take any chances, so there was nothing for it. Install number two was toast.

The third one went way better than expected. While the setup routine was working, I went out for a walk. When I came back, instead of the usual "Welcome to XP" startup screen there was a logon box for the administrator account. Huh? I'd never seen that happen before. I logged in, and it completely sidestepped the add a useless user account routine. I have no idea how it happened, but hey, less needless work for me.

After that, things went as before. When I got the the video drivers, I searched for and installed .NET 2.0, and the subsequent video install went swimmingly. I moved over my Firefox and Thunderbird profiles from where I'd stahed them the big SATA drive, then installed the programs. It was like they'd never been gone. AVG anti-virus and ZoneAlarm went on next, and then it was time to reinstall the audio.

Now, when I first set up the machine, I had all sorts of problems with some kind of weird audio interference. Moving the mouse made noise on the speakers, as did things like copying files, and pretty much anything else I did. I finally got it mostly under control, but it never completely went away, and any time I cranked up the volume, it reappeared. Plus there was the whole garblediness recently, so I was a little apprehensive.

This time, though, I stuck the card in the machine, turned it on, and SP2 found it and installed drivers automagically. I don't hear any interference at all, and all the garblediness is gone. Whoot! After that, I installed the last few bits and pieces of hardware (some added USB and firewire connectors, and a fan), and closed up the case. There's still a lot of software to reinstall, but the machine seems to be humming along nicely. Now to set a restore point.

* I renamed the machine Swifty, because my sister reminded me that it, not Suzily, had been the original nickname my dad hung on her, and it fits better in the Machina siblings nickname series of Flash, Slick, and Speedy. (My dad and I have the same name, so I managed to avoid getting a nickname, because, you know, he could remember my name.)
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arlissarliss on December 10th, 2006 - 11:18 pm
Could maybe portmanteau it to "Swiftily"...

Sounds like a full day. I wish I had the patience.
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DXMachinadxmachina on December 11th, 2006 - 12:56 am
Just say no to portmanteau.
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