Wednesday, March 21, 2007

How To Fix Your Current Memory Related Problems *

So I had a Blue Screen of Death (yes they still exist) after, apparently, a memory parity error occurred. (Not Microsoft's fault -- I guess.) This led to my spending 45 minutes on the phone with Dell "gold" tech support.

My memory parity issue may or may not be solved (depending on whether reseating a DIMM helped) but I was told the magic order in which to install all the drivers, and now my laptop's 3D performance is ... well not embarrassing. If I had a Mac mini or an Intel iBook I could comment on its performance versus a GMA 950 but I don't so I can't.

It still (mysteriously) takes about a minute to shut down.

And it still offers Microsoft's equivalent of "instant on", i.e. it pretends to turn on instantly, but then mysteriously locks up for 30s after you log in. (Apparently the process for checking your password requires the entire OS to load, so if you mistype your password you don't find out for about 30s.) So the "instant on" experience is:

1) Open the lid.
2) Greeted by the CONTROL + ALT + DELETE screen.
3) Give machine the three-fingered salute.
4) Type in password, hit enter.
5) Wait 30s while Vista's new blue ring of tedium spins.
6) Maha, my machine is awake. Start trying to interact with it and discover that actually no, it's just decided to display the contents of its graphics buffer or something.
7) 10s later the screen flickers, and becomes *actually* live. Generally displaying one or more "Such and such is not responding" alerts in reaction to my previous 10s of frantic clicking and typing. Typically the application that didn't react is Explorer and the alerts offer to kill it for you. Much as I'd like to kill Windows Explorer, I've found that doing so makes Windows even more useless.

Note that this is a vast improvement over Windows XP's awake from sleep behavior.

a) So far, my Vista laptop always wakes up.
b) If the laptop's lid is closed, opening it wakes it up. (Versus, having to press the power switch. Apparently, waking in response to keyboard or mouse activity is too hard.)

In closing this particular pointless rant, let me just say that the new Aero transitions offer a fascinating combination of:
i) Not being very pretty.
ii) Seeming to have been cut down from longer, but presumably more annoying, transitions (so that -- for example -- the window "grow in" and "shrink away" animations seem clipped).
iii) Getting in one's way.

I suppose that if I wanted to somehow put a positive spin on this, I'd call the transitions "understated", but putting understated transitions into Vista is kind of like putting a day-glo painting of Elvis on velvet in a plain black frame.

Footnote: * This was the heading (I believe verbatim) of a slip of paper included in our copy of Master of Magic (the fantasy followup to Master of Orion -- great games by the way. It (correctly in most cases) assumed anyone running Windows 3.x or DOS 3.x-5.x would have memory problems after installing their software.