Sunday, January 10, 2010

Two Brains, One Body

[N.P. Opus - Live is Life]
So, it's a nice, peaceful, Sunday afternoon. Cold as all get-out outside (-9C - 27F with a 10 mph breeze), and I have to go to the ex and fix a database (my own fault - I forgot to change something!). Brrrr!

A Day In The Life of a Developer
Meanwhile I've just changed the hard drive in my 17" Acer laptop and it's busy formatting a 160 GB drive. You might wonder about the small size, but ordinary ATA drives (not SATA ones) are getting scarce! TigerDirect, for instance, only has four 2.5" drives, and, when I was buying, the 160GB was the largest in stock. Of course, now they have 250GB and 320GB ones, but 160GB is really all I need. It's a WD Scorpio and all of these spin at 5400 rpm, which is a shame - raising it to 7200 would have been nice. However, it'll do for now, and I'll hope to get another development machine sometime in 2010, as this one was bought in 2006! The more recent machines that I have, like the Asus netbook and all the newer desktops, have SATA drives.

The main raison d'ĂȘtre for the change is the fact that I'm starting studying for an MCTS cert in SQL Server 2008, so I'll need to put on Visual Studio and SQL Server. I'm looking at SQL Server 2008 Developer Edition, and all the Express Edition languages - C#, VB, and C++ - and also the Web Development system. The current system had this already (for the 2005 versions) but something happened to it in early 2009, and using SSMS and VS 2005 together started to fail. After that I started to get problems with many other programs under Windows XP, where one program after another would take 99% of the cpu, despite actually doing nothing. Hopefully a complete restart will improve things, as I see no need to jump to Windows 7 at this point.

Once WinXP is back up I'll have to prevent it installing new versions of IE - I have no wish to suffer IE8! - and then get it up to the latest SP level, with all security updates. The trick to stopping installation of IE is to add these entries into the registry:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Setup\7.0
with a key value name of DoNotAllowIE70 and a dword of 1

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Setup\8.0
with a key value name of DoNotAllowIE80 and a dword of 1

Then you get a CD with all the hardware drivers for your laptop and load all the special drivers - for me that included a LAN driver! Next, install Win XP SP2 and then SP3 (SP2 won't load unless you have SP2 or SP1a already installed!).
At this point one has a copy of Windows XP that reboots in about 45 seconds, much better than the 10 minutes previously. Of course, it doesn'tdo anything, but hey! you have to make trade-offs, don't you!

Then it'll be time for adding the development stuff. Firstly, MS SQL Server 2008 Developer Edition, and then all the Visual Studio stuff. I'll also be adding Oracle 10, because I also have an Apex day on Wednesday, which should be fun - maybe! New York in January just isn't going be sun-bathing weather! Finally there'll be the ordinary stuff that everyone has on a PC - 3.1 for office stuff, Pidgin for IM, Thunderbird (maybe) for email - I'm not too sure about this yet, as I've already accumulated 2 GB of saved email in just one year of using T'bird. I may be going back to TheBat,but I'm seriously looking for something that I can make proper backups and recoveries with!

The Progress of the EeeBox
As you'll recall, I got a little EeeBox B202 a few weeks ago, and promptly bolted it to the back of a monitor. It runs a version of Linux and personally I think that it fills the requirements of being "cute". However, the AGis somewhat dissatisfied with Linpus, and I think that sone of the apps are old, too. Firfox and OpenOffice are both v2 versions, which is way too old, and there's no easy way to upgrade them. So, I'm looking at the possibility of putting Ubuntu 9.10 onto a 500GB, 7200rpm Seagate drive for the little box. Hopefully this will help acceptance, as the AG has two main uses for the PC - browsing the web and iTunes for her iPods. If not, then it'll be reverted to a copy of Windows XP, I suppose.

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