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Kistaro Windrider, Reptillian Situation Assessor

Unfortunately, I Really Am That Nerdy

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Computer, heal thyself
nyah, tongueout, glasses, nerd
With the help of prismaticsilver, I've gotten some major computer upgrading done. Which is a good thing, because my processor had been too slow to correctly handle some of the games Rakeela and I wanted to run, and there's the little matter of one of my computers' motherboards dying. So Byzil assembled most of  new computer for me (from ordered Newegg parts- a challenge in and of itself, given Newegg's unwillingness to ship anywhere that isn't the credit card's address), shipped it here, and I added the remaining components. Which was something of a challenge; I never knew that a computer case could be complicated, but apparently I've been underestimating it. More likely, I've been spolied for years by the ease of Dell's highly proprietary and non-expansible case design.

So I got everything hooked up, booted it, and promptly wound up in Activation Hell; the copy of XP installed on those hard drives was Dell OEM, and the new motherboard/CPU are most definitely not Dell. Because it's OEM, it has no activation grace period, and demanded immediate response. So I telephoned in the activation request, and got the "this is not a legitimate copy, you pirating bastard" (approximately) response as a result. Once I got past the automatic system and talked to someone in India, I Was informed that the OEM license can't be transfered, so I'm out of luck. Well, sort of out of luck; what I needed to do was a license swap. My other computer (the one that had the dead motherboard) had an off-the-shelf copy of XP; it's a Dell, and moving onto the motherboard/CPU being vacated by this set of hard drives, so it's a valid target for the OEM license, while I can use the general license on the "new" computer.

It is, of course, not anywhere near that easy. Because it's an OEM copy, it won't accept general keys. Crap.

This is Activation Hell: Windows can't activate because it has an invalid key; you have a valid key, which Windows refuses to use. You also have another operating system (Vista Ultimate), which you can't install because it has to be installed from a running, not-Safe-Mode system to do so without requiring reinstallation of everything. In short, it is impossible to activate the system within the constraints of the system, while the system is working correctly (for as "correctly" as WinActivate ever works; I'm not enamored of the implementation, although I understand its necessity- heck, I was in favor of it before I started working for Microsoft), despite having one or several legitimate licences available.

The way around this is to reinstall Windows, as an install-in-place without deleting installed applications; this works, except it proceeds to hose all my drivers, so when I get the new key entered (and it activates without my even having to explain why the activation moved), the operating system is in a questionable state, at best. It's back to IE6 (among other features) and Windows Update has somehow violently broken so nothing in my power can make it apply the 93 security patches it so desparately needed. (Incidentally, the new key- which had to be immediately activated, since the system still thought it had zero grace period- activated immediately from the automated system without needing to convince someone to allow for a key transfer. Go figure.)

There's a way out of this, of course: new f*cking operating system.

Did you know that a dual-core 3GHz (each) system with 4GB of high-speed RAM and a high-end graphics card actually runs Vista faster than it runs XP? Vista is actually capable of using the RAM and dual-core processing effectively.

Not to say I don't still want an XP system around, for the things Vista won't work with. Unfortunately, the computer that died lost more than its motherboard; one of its hard drives developed a physical failure, as well. Not a critical one, just a few dead sectors, but nothing Windows can boot with; the data is basically hosed. Which is exactly what I own a Windows Home Server for; the computer ran Ubuntu for a couple of evenings off a LiveCD just to have it doing something, but after confirming that the hard drive was only kinda broken, I've gone ahead and started a full restore. Nightly backups rock.

So that computer is cheerfully rebuilding itself, and the other computer is sufficiently high-spec that Vista can actually run screamingly well on it- all our various high-end games are running better than ever before. And it only takes having a computer at least twice as powerful in all respects. Yay?

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There is another solution. It involves a disassembler.

(Is it illegal to amend one's own software?)

It's tricky to use a disassembler, though, when the OS refuses to run osftware, such as disassemblers. It'd require reversing the hash that creates telephoned-in activation keys, as activation hooks are baked into the system in enough places that it's extremely difficult to patch them all, and only possible if you take notes on what code you need to change and do it while Windows is not loaded.

The usual suspects seem to have managed to pull out the activation checks, though it was probably a lot of work.

Or perhaps they're just using VLKs. Does Vista have activation-free VLKs too?

XP's activation checks have been patched around, although all known patches cause problems down the road for anything that would trigger a WGA check. That's the point of WGA.

Because of the problems related to volume license keys, Microsoft has dumped them completely (they don't sell them for XP anymore) and switched to a significanly more insane system involving, among other things, having your own activation server.

The day Vista will run games at an equal fps compared to XP, I might switch. But until then, I'll keep my little pirated version of XP. :3

Again, it depends on the system. On a high-speed dual-core computer, Vista will generally perform better, including for highly graphical gaming applications. This isn't because Vista is some genius of dual-core handling so much as because XP sucks hard with it.

Nice "keeping up with the theme" regarding the icons... he used a squeaky icon and you replied with a like :)

Whut, uh? :E

GASP! I'm squeaky?! :O

*always has been*

Well, for gaming, generally speaking, Vista is still behind when it's about fps. Nothing to worry about much, but still behind.

- February 28th, 2008
XP SP2 vs. Vista RTM vs. Vista SP1: Gaming benchmark

- May 07th, 2007
XP vs. Vista - A Tale of Framerates

I'm interested to see how the nVidia cards perform today with the "Threaded Rendering" option forced.

Useful links! With regard to the first of the benchmarks, it's useful information- and it partially explains my experience, as the only game in the set of ten I have is Oblivion, which is one of the 3 that performed better under Vista.

I'd like to see more comparisons of Vista and XP in dual-core vs. single-core, for a variety of uses- a four-way comparison between single-core XP at clock rate n, single-core Vista at clock rate n, dual-core XP at clock rate n/2, and dual-core Vista at clock-rate n/2.

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