Posted tagged ‘Windows XP’

10 things that make Win7 better than Vista

February 25, 2009

Here’s a great synopsis of some of the improvements in Windows 7.

Windows XP installation error 47872

January 23, 2009

Today I replaced a hard drive on a Dell Latitude D630.  I booted from the XP SP2 cd (an OEM Dell CD), and received the error 47872 and a prompt to press a key to exit.  I didn’t find a lot on a quick Google search, but someone out there mentioned to try a different CD.

I checked the CD and there was a fingerprint and a scratch on it.  I tried a different CD in better shape, and it worked flawlessly.  Thought this might help you if you see the same error.

That begs the question – are there really 48000 errors that can happen in Windows XP setup?  Scary. =)

Dell Fast Track is a breakthrough in enterprise warranty service

January 9, 2009

Recently, my company (which has at maybe 4,000 desktop PCs) enrolled in the Dell Fast Track warranty service.  And there was much rejoicing.  Especially by me.  I dread having to call Dell, even their Gold Technical Support.  The reason is, they aren’t warranty agents, they are tech support.  Here’s a good example.

About two months ago, I called on a system that was very close to the end of its warranty.  The audio would not work.  On this model (Optiplex GX 620) the audio is integrated and requires a new system board when faulty.  I ran the hardware diagnostics and called Gold Tech Support when the audio failed.  The technician, of course, wants me to check the drivers and the speakers, etc.  Of course, I have already bypassed that and directly checked the hardware.  To the technician’s credit, he understood this (not all of them do) and ordered a new motherboard for me.  That’s where the trouble started.

I installed the new motherboard (I say new – it was actually marked as refurbished) and had problems.  The system just acted funny.  I know that’s not a good technical description, but strange things were happening that didn’t used to happen before the new motherboard.  Troubleshooting 101 specifies that, if you replace a piece of hardware and end up with new problems immediately after the replacement, then the part you installed was bad.  The Dell tech did not agree.

To prove my point, I installed the mobo into another identical system which had no known issues.  All of a sudden it had issues, like not booting correctly, or taking 10 times as long to boot, or not being able to unlock Windows properly.  The tech told me (I’ll try to quote) “I don’t think there’s any way the new motherboard could be bad.”  [palm to face]

Enter Fast Track Service.  I take some online certification exams to prove I have basic troubleshooting skills, and within 48 hours (in this case, less than 24) the results are reviewed and you are allowed to order warranty parts for any system on which you are certified (I certified for desktops and notebooks very quickly; if I could have given it my unvdivided attention, I could have passed them both well within one day).

The system works like this:

– technician troubleshoots the system according to Dell guidelines
– technician fills out warranty request, listing problem details and the troubleshooting steps
– Dell reviews the request and sends the part
– metrics are kept to detect fraud or “preventive” maintenance, both of which are not allowed

This is a major advantage for me because I don’t even bother calling Dell until I know what is wrong with the system.  I am very familiar with the systems we use, and I have a whole group of other techs I can ask if I have questions.  Not to mention that Dell’s support is sometimes less than reliable – I have been told glaringly wrong things before by one tech in particular (for instance, he told me – no kidding – that if a user played pirated music, it could mess up the BIOS and cause a CD drive to stop working).  That one turned out to be simply a case of cable creep – I reseated the CD drive cable and it worked after that.

So, the long story short, Dell’s new Fast Track Support is a great way for solid enterprise technicians to save time and energy dealing with Dell’s other support options.  Here’s a few things you need to know:

– it’s only available to Pro Support customers (their branch that deals with IT staff)
– it is monitored and statistical trends can identify fraudulent patterns of parts ordering
– the certification courses are approximately the same level as the A+ cert exam, but are specific to Dell parts

Again, I’m so relieved that we have gone to this system.  If you work as a full-time tech, you might look into this – it could save you a few headaches down the road.

My thoughts on MS 70-270

July 23, 2008

For those who are wondering, 70-270 is the test number for the “Installing, Configuring, and Administering Windows XP Professional” exam.  It’s a Microsoft certification – passing it earns you the title “MCP” or “Microsoft Certified Professional.”  It’s also an early step in the MSCE and MCSA (2000 and 2003 versions).  It covers the broad spectrum of features in Windows XP Pro.

This is not my first certification; I have taken cert exams from CompTIA (A+, Net+) as well as CIW (CIW Foundations and JavaScript Fundamentals).  However, I found this one to be quite a different animal.

It was definitely more in-depth than anything either of the other vendors asks.  Each topic was covered in significant detail.  And though it does not go into infinitessimal detail, as a professional desktop support technician, I still had to learn quite a bit.  Some topics I was solid on, like NTFS permissions, printers, and other things I do every day at work.  Other sections (the ones I don’t use, like unattended installation, Windows Backup, ICS – yes, they still ask about ICS) I missed quite a few questions on.

CIW tends to ask fact-based questions, such as “How many cookies can a domain store on a user’s computer?”  CompTIA, on the other hand, mixes it up between scenario and trivia questions.  MS offered me only scenario-based questions.  The goal, it seemed, was to know whether I could use the information I had to resolve a given situation.  The questions were precise and well-worded, for the most part.  They were definitely more difficult than CompTIA’s questions.

All in all, if you want to sharpen your skills and get a minimalist certificate to hang on your cube wall, this is still a very valid exam.  If your office is using Vista, learn that.  But you’re in the minority, friend, and the rest of us are still on XP, at least for a year or two.

Bottom line is this – if you need it, get it.  It wasn’t too bad; I took about two weeks to prep and passed fairly easily.  But don’t overlook any areas; get a good prep book (I recommend the MS Press one).  For all MS’s shortcomings, they do make quality exams.

It’s much easier if you work with XP daily.  But If you don’t, you probably don’t have a good reason to get this aging certification.

More tips and tricks for Windows XP

February 4, 2008

Greg Shultz wrote this great article on some of the advanced things you can do with Windows XP.  Based on the coming end of retail sales for XP, if you’re stocking up on licenses, you might also have a look at this article – some great timesavers (or just fun stuff).

Old School Like the Old School – simulating a monochrome monitor for cmd

January 31, 2008

How to set up your properties on XP’s command prompt to emulate the look of a monochrome monitor.  It’s cool, but to be honest, if you’re been working with computers long enough to appreciate this, you could figure it out on your own.  At any rate, I just thought it was a cool post.