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Kistaro Windrider, Reptillian Situation Assessor

Unfortunately, I Really Am That Nerdy

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Geek week
nyah, tongueout, glasses, nerd
kistaro
Last week was full of interesting things I wanted to post about, but was too busy doing interesting things to post about. Actually, the week was interesting enough it spilled over into this week.

I suspect some of y'all know about a little MP3 player called the Zune. It's manufactured by my employer, so of course I have a conflict of interest with regards to why I'm plugging it. I wanted one mostly because my current MP3 player was absolutely full and I'm too indecisive to actually not take my entire library with me. It also had no meaningful support for podcasts.

Of course, the 4 and 8 GB Zunes wouldn't do a thing to solve the "out-of-space" problem, so I held out for an 80GB, which are hard to come by. So when the Microsoft Company Store Mailing List sent a "NOW IN STOCK: Zune 80GB, limit one per employee per day, very limited quantities" when most other people were at lunch, I ran like hell down the stairs and requested a shuttle to the Company Store. They were planning for this; they sent a bus.

Out of 200 Zunes they had in stock, I got the 47th. They were sold out by the time I got back to my desk. Which was, admittedly, a while; I was waiting several minutes for the shuttle, which then took a very indirect route to complete two other shuttle requests in the interim. This wound up with three of us cramming in the back seat (this shutte was a sedan). I guess that's what they mean by "music brings people closer together", right?

Anyway, mine's working great, in part because I'm using the much-maligned (for good reason) software only to sync and doing all my actual library management with Windows Media Player. I'm now in the market for a new carrying case for the thing- it's enough smaller than my previous players that it was swimming in the camera bag I'd been hanging off my belt for those. On the flip side, unlike all my previous MP3 players, it's actually small enough to pocket. So the music storage problem is now solved!

I also bought two operating systems and a mouse. I ordered a used computer from Microsoft the day before Thanksgiving, and it was to arrive without an OS- actually, the drive in it had been secure-erased, for obvious reasons. At least, given my workplace, buying a copy of Windows is cheap. I got the computer last Friday, which accounts for how I spent the weekend. The 100GB hard drive I removed from my first desktop computer made a nice secondary hard drive for this new computer. Or it would, except I remembered shortly into my hardware swapping that this was the higher-spec computer, 600MHz faster. So instead, I switched everything else.

I admit I'm slightly worried that Windows XP didn't demand reactivation. It was an OEM copy, now installed on a different computer with a different CPU, a different motherboard, and slightly less RAM (2.5GB instead of 3GB, which still ought to be enough for anyone) and it didn't really notice.

Two devices would hardly make it Geek Week. The used camera I bought from one of the regulars at Soulfood Books, a significant improvement over my previous camera (now given to Rakeela), helps. (It's a couple models later in the same product line as my current camera. It's 5 megapixel instead of 4 megapixel, but the much better white balance, flash, focus, and general manual control matter a lot more to me.) Buying a new TV tuner card because I keep having driver problems with my old one (or I might have damaged it in all the fuss) edges it towards the line (especially when the ability to compare lets me realize just how shitty a TV tuner card you get for $20 to MSI compared to the painful amount I just plunked down to Hauppauge), and going to Radio Shack to handle the stupid design element it has with regard to its sound input finishes it off. (Seriously, people. It's a TV tuner card. It has S-video input, which is in fact the entire reason I bought it given that I don't have cable or reasonable antenna reception for anything except Telemundo, which comes in crystal-clear. Give it a pair of RCA inputs, not a phono mini-jack! This required an RCA-Phono and Phono-Miniphono pair of adapters.) With nine different geeky things in the course of eight days, it's Geek Week. (Two adapters, a mouse, two operating systems, a tuner card, a computer, an MP3 player, and an extra two gigs of memory for said computer.)

All that and a rent check too. At least I was already planning for the cost of a second computer, and getting it used- even with all these upgrades, most of which I would have had to do anyway- made it come in well below budget.

Oh, and not only is sausage-fried rice an excuse to use up both half a pound of leftover sausage (the other half went into spaghetti sauce) and lots of leftover rice, it's a surprisingly good idea. I carefully found a recipe for fried rice, studied it, and then pretty much ignored it while just using whatever I had on hand in whatever quantities I felt like. It came out great.

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(Deleted comment)
Even if the patch was released yet- which it's not, and I don't have the internal beta of the service pack installed on this computer yet- the computer should have deactivated. Activation and WGA are separate, if related, systems.

A copy of Windows XP that fails a validation check (Windows Genuine Advantage) will refuse to install a few accessories from Microsoft (WMP11, IE7) and a few noncritical patches. (Security patches do not require validation.) This behavior is not being changed by the patch, and there are no plans to change it. Windows displays messages on the desktop, in your tray, and as modal dialog boxes that pop up periodically in front of your work about the nongenuine status of your operating system.

A copy of Windows Vista that fails a validation check at any time (the check is repeated every time WGA updates, which is generally every Patch Tuesday as a prerequisite for any patching at all) will give a three-day warning, during which it will deactivate Aero, deactivate automatic backups, limit screen resolution to 1024x768, and give the same visual indications Windows XP does. At the end of the three days, Windows Vista will enter Reduced Functionality Mode in which nothing other than untabbed Internet Explorer can be run, for at most an hour at a time, defaulting to Microsoft's site where the operating system can be purchased. It's that behavior that's going to be changed- the three-day limit is going to be removed, and the system will simply remain half-crippled (limited rez, no Aero, popups).

Both Windows XP and Windows Vista have similar/identical activation systems. Activation locks a product key to a computer. If a key cannot be activated because the key was already in use or invalid at activation time, or a key is mismatched because of significant hardware configuration changes, the system should begin its grace period- a 30-day period that does not reset even when a valid activation occurs. After that period, the system will refuse to allow logins until activation occurs, possibly by providing a new product key.

That behavior isn't going to change, and that's the one I expected to trigger- the dramatic hardware chage should have gotten the activation system's attention, but it didn't.

So if I'd just failed a WGA check, I wouldn't expect it to demand that I phone Microsoft immediately, but I thought it would at least deactivate. Even with the patch, it'd at least give me polite threat letters.

Edited at 2007-12-05 07:15 am (UTC)

Do OEM copies normally do the hardware activation bit? I know VLKs don't. *innocent whistle*

Volume License Keys aren't distributed anymore. All Microsoft does now is offer key servers- basically, companies keep their own activation servers, which Microsoft can- trivially- remotely audit.

OEMs are activated by a magic key in the BIOS tied to the computer and the installation disc- they're pre-activated, not non-activated. Changing motherboards, and therefore BIOSes, should have been sufficient to alert the activation engine.

Aha. I learned something new! XD

*looks left and right* Are these details public? (if so, are they so readily available or obscured like a government does to things about stuff they don't really want to talk about?)
*nibbles and hugs and hopes to see you about*
- t

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