[How to] Create a bootable USB stick on OS X

A couple of days ago I decided to reinstall my operating system since it was failing. I quickly realized that the only functional system that I had at the time was my MacBook Pro. After a bit of Googling, I came up with a pretty straightforward guide, but they really could have formated it to make it easier to follow.

I’m going to run you through the same steps and you should be able to use this guide to create a bootable USB stick for Windows, Ubuntu, Fedora, etc.

Continue reading “[How to] Create a bootable USB stick on OS X”

Windows Vista Ultimate: The last Microsoft “Ultimate” I’ll buy

This is the last thing that I will be buying from Microsoft that is supposed to be the best possible package. Honestly, I don’t even use the BitLocker feature. I bought Ultimate because I thought that there were going to be a lot of “Extras”…but I was clearly wrong.

I bought Vista pretty much right after it came out and I really enjoyed using it at first just because I thought to myself, “Man…this is the new Windows…how awesome!”, but now that I got tired of it crashing and I switched to Ubuntu for about a year and a half….well, I’m just not impressed anymore.

There really weren’t any “Extras” available when I installed Ultimate the first time, but I expected to find a list of available “Extras” when I installed it last night (over a year later).

What a freakin’ scam! Microsoft should be sued for this! Seriously! There’s basically nothing better with ultimate, nothing! I am glad to be able to run the “Best” version of Windows along side what is in my opinion one of the best operating systems ever…Ubuntu. It’s interesting to see how I work differently in each operating system and how the system can in some cases control you rather than you controlling the system.

I find myself being controlled more when I’m in Windows than I do in Linux, which is weird to me because I used to assume that you couldn’t do much in Linux other than hack and code things. Linux has really evolved these days though! Linux can honestly be as easy to use as Windows XP/Vista or Mac OS X.

In fact, you can even make your installation of Linux look and feel exactly like Windows or Mac if you want. It’s actually very easy and the familiar feel alone will increase the ease of use with not just Linux…but you and your computer.

I find myself coding more efficiently and faster in Ubuntu than I can in Windows. I think the biggest thing that helps me and makes me faster is the fact that I can have so many workspaces and easily switch between them instead of clicking and hunting windows and tabs all the time.

I really like the visual upgrade that comes with Vista (compared to XP), but honestly it’s nothing more than XP with a new theme and optimized a little (or say they say it’s better??). I’ve actually heard buzz around the Internet for a long time now that XP runs games better and faster than Vista.

Well, one thing is for sure. Ubuntu and several other Linux distros use Compiz Fusion for the eye candy and I think they found the sweet spot when they decided to add them into the operating system the way they did. It’s amazing how an open source project like Ubuntu can be leaps and hurdles a head of Microsoft Windows, but at the same time it’s kind of expected that Microsoft isn’t going to ever use their money and power to just “Wow” us when they can just do enough to try to hold us.

It’s cheaper for them to just hold us than it is to run out of the “Wow” material too quickly and try to find something new and honestly most Windows users don’t even realize that the operating system *should be* so much better than it currently is.

Oh well, what are we going to do? Does Microsoft really listen anyway? I know Apple listens. It seems to me that Apple is really good at feeling around to see what users really want and not always just what they know of either. Apple is very innovative and they are good at making something new work very well. The key, I believe, to their success is the fact that they let their products mature before releasing them and they also push for reasonable release dates.

Microsoft had an unreasonably long delay between Windows XP and Windows Vista. Call it what you will, but I call it laziness. I think they just wanted to sit back and see how long the world would buy copies of Windows XP before we realized that everyone else was still progressing (Mac, Linux, etc.).

Microsoft definitely rushed Vista and even had to cut out several features or upgrades that were planned. One upgrade that I was really looking forward to was the new file system that Vista was supposed to have. The new file system, dubbed “Win FS”, was supposed to be worked into Vista, but was cancelled do to problems and delays on releasing Vista.

Why release a product that isn’t finished? Actually, bad question…no software is ever finished, only abandoned. Rather, why release a product for a release date and not for a maturity stage in the developmental process? Wouldn’t you want your products when they have reached a certain level instead of just reaching a certain age?

Sure it sucks waiting for updates and upgrades, but if Microsoft can’t get their employees to work faster then we should still just wait for a proper update. I don’t like downloading a browser or messenger that crashes all the time when they could have spent a little more time to iron out the kinks.

Vista is still using the file system NTFS that we probably all remember from XP. The thing you might not know is that NTFS was released along side Windows NT when I was 7 years old. Windows NT was more of a networking configuration anyways and never really hit the public much.

The point is that NTFS was released in 1993 and is now a little over 15 years old (to the public). Most Linux or UNIX platforms use ext3 which was released in 1999. That’s still 6 years newer than Microsoft’s! Apple has been looking into upgrading from HFS Plus, which was released in 1998, to a 2004 file system called ZFS.

If you want to look into these file systems and compare them then Wikipedia has a great page for that! I’m actually looking forward to ext4 which has some very good strengths, but it’s not exactly stable yet.

So for now I guess I must be content with Vista (it’s the best it will ever be I suppose) and just log back into Ubuntu when I need to. I seriously hope that Microsoft speeds up and releases something good soon so I can use my NC State privileges to get the latest operating system for free. Hope this very opinionated post was at least fun to read. 😉

Windows XP SP3 is set to release today!

For those of you who are still using Windows XP (if you haven’t already made the switch to Windows Vista or Ubuntu Linux :D), Service Pack 3 is set to release today. However, contrary to what you may have seen other blogs post about it, it is not set to include Internet Explorer 7. This seems to be floating around the Internet like crazy. I just wanted to get the facts straight on this one.

After digging through Google for a while I came across an official Microsoft document that blatantly states that Internet Explorer 7 will not be included in this update. If you scroll through the document and fine the section labeled “What Is In Service Pack 3“, you’ll see the new changes.

Further, Windows XP SP3 does not include
Windows Internet Explorer 7. For more information about Internet Explorer 7, visit
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/ie/default.mspx.

The source that I retrieved this information from can be found here (pdf).

I’ll just go a head and sum up the changes that you will see in Service Pack 3.

Basically, Service Pack 3 will contain all of the updates that have already been made available to you since the release of Service Pack 2 via Microsoft Update. According to the overview, the updates will include the following:

  • Service Pack 3 will not be adding many brand new feature that were released with the coming of Vista.
  • SP3 will include Network Access Protection (NAP) to help organizations that use Windows XP to take advantage of some of the new features in the Windows Server® 2008 operating system.
  • Windows XP SP3 does not include Windows Internet Explorer 7.
  • Microsoft® Management Console (MMC) 3.0
  • Microsoft Core XML Services 6.0 (MSXML6)
  • Windows XP SP3 also includes a small list of previously unavailable functionality, including NAP and an update of Windows Product Activation. With this update, users will be able to enter their product key after installing Windows XP SP3 instead of during installation.
  • Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) 2.5
  • IPsec Simple Policy Update for Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP
  • Digital Identity Management Service (DIMS)
  • Peer Name Resolution Protocol (PNRP) 2.1
  • Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2)
  • “Black Hole” Router Detection
  • Descriptive Security Options User Interface
  • Enhanced security for Administrator and Service policy entries
  • Microsoft Kernel Mode Cryptographic Module

Their Summary on the overview is as follows:

Windows XP SP3 combines all previously released performance, security, and stability updates. It also
provides a limited number of new and enhanced functionalities, although it does not significantly change the
Windows XP experience or bring most Windows Vista functionality to Windows XP.

If you don’t see the option to upgrade your system to Service Pack 3 yet, they you can grab the package yourself! If your interested in the links then you can find them all at GHacks.net! The package itself is ~316mb, but if you don’t want to download all of that then you can just wait until it is made live. Chances are, you won’t have to download that much from Windows Update since you probably have most of the older updates installed already.

If you just want to go a head and get it then I say do it! I’m currently installing it myself on my laptop. Enjoy the early links while their early!

Also worth looking at is the article Loopholes keep Windows XP alive.

UPDATE:
Just after releasing the service pack this morning, Microsoft removed it from Windows Update temporarily to fix a flaw with the package. Microsoft says it has since uncovered a compatibility issue between Dymanics Retail Management System (RMS) and Windows XP SP3. There was no time estimate on the delay, however, the direct download links are available if you can’t wait! Look above for more information on that.

UPDATE 2:
If you get an error message that says “Access Denied”, then you can get around this using one of a couple different methods. I’ll list them below, but the information that I found came from:
http://forums.microsoft.com/TechNet/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=3265169&SiteID=17

  • Solution 1:

    1. Make a backup of your registry.

    2. Download and install subinacl.exe.

    3. Create a file called reset.cmd with Notepad. Copy the text below into the file reset.cmd and run reset.cmd with administrative rights (it may take a LONG time):

      cd /d “%ProgramFiles%\Windows Resource Kits\Tools”
      subinacl /subkeyreg HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f
      subinacl /subkeyreg HKEY_CURRENT_USER /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f
      subinacl /subkeyreg HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f
      subinacl /subdirectories %SystemDrive% /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f
      subinacl /subdirectories %windir%*.* /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f
      secedit /configure /cfg %windir%\inf\defltbase.inf /db defltbase.sdb /verbose

    4. Reboot at SAFE MODE and try install SP3 again.

  • Solution 2:

    By installing Sp3 under a a user account you cannot acccess the registery properly. Please use the Adminstrator account instead of a user adminstrator account. Subinacl.exe was created to act as a way to access the registery properly. And the Reset. com to grant FULL adminstrator account.Also the other tips apply here, Turning of and diabling Antivirus, anti-spyware protection programs. Backing up information.What isn’t clear as when we used w2k was the panel showing full adminstrator vs. adminstrator and power user. Then press F8 during boot-up to log-in as Adminstrator is able to install sp3 with out running the subinacl program.

    See here for an clarifacation see here.
    http://www.microsoft.com/protect/computer/advanced/useraccount.mspx

    The things that applied to installing sp also apply when attempting to install Sp3
    www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/sp2/sp2_whattoknow.mspx

  • Solution 3:

    1. Click Start, click Run, type cmd, and then press ENTER.

    2. For Windows XP, type the following command, and then press ENTER:

      secedit /configure /cfg %windir%\repair\secsetup.inf /db secsetup.sdb /verbose

      You receive a “Task is completed” message, and a warning message that something could not be done. You can safely ignore this message.
      http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;EN-US;313222

If these solutions are confusing then I apologise. I simply got them from a forum discussion and didn’t feel like rewriting them. If you’re confused about any of these steps then just ask about them in the comments and I’ll explain them the best I can.

UPDATE 3:

Windows XP Service Pack 3 is available once again via Windows Updates! Go get it!

UPDATE 4:

Endless Reboot after installing SP3
You may already be aware of the problem Service Pack 3 has caused to AMD PCs. If your, not familiar with the problem then it can be summed up by this: Some of the users who installed Service Pack 3 on their AMD Processor based computers reported that their PCs rebooted endlessly and would not allow them to use their computers.

If this sounds like something that has happened to you while installing Service Pack 3 then you will need to complete the following instructions to repair your version of Windows XP SP3.

The fix for the problem…

Jesper Johansson, who was once a program manager for security policy at Microsoft and currently an MVP who works at Amazon.com, has come up with a fix for the problem.

He has created a small 16K VBScript file which checks whether the PC is running an AMD processor, if yes; it examines the Windows registry to find out if a device driver (IntelPPM driver) meant for Intel-based machines is set to load. If it is set to load, it will offer an option in order to disable it.

You will need to download the file from here and run it. To run it just double click on it.

If you need to check many computers on a network you can do it by running the following script from the command line:
removeIntelPPMonAMD.vbs <computer 1> <computer 2>…

For more information have a look at the blog post on Jesper’s blog.