GoogleIt Mail IT Print IT PermaLink@#$!ing Windows ME to XP Upgrade
07:12:55 PM
Written By : Richard SchwartzCategory : 3. Everything
Location : Nashua, NH

My daughter wanted an iPod for her birthday. That's all she wanted. I agreed. I didn't think it through. The computer that she shares with her sister is a five or six year old HP Pavillion that came pre-loaded with Windows ME, It had only 192 MB of RAM, and it had a USB 1.1 interface, not 2.0. iTunes isn't supported on ME. 192 MB of RAM isn't enough for XP -- not if you actually want to get anything done. And USB 1.1 might work with an iPod -- I haven't gotten any definitive word that it does or doesn't -- but if I was going to bother upgrading the OS and RAM, it didn't make much sense to omit upgrading the USB. I had a whole weekend. What could go wrong!? :-)

The first thing to go wrong was that the first attempt at backups failed on a sharing violation. Then a certain teenager decided that she wanted to use the computer on Saturday night and canceled the backup that I had re-started around noon. The backups really shouldn't have taken that long, but they did because I was backing up the girls' desktop to the same disk as I was also backing up the server that I was upgrading from Domino 6.5 to 7. It's a doggone good thing that I did the backup though, because the next thing to go wrong was the ME to XP upgrade. Not that that surprised me. I got the old "NTLDR is missing" error after the initial setup phase. I did some quick research on it, and found that it comes up when trying to do an upgrade on a FAT32 filesystem. I decided that I didn't really want to leave the filesystem on FAT32 anyhow, but I didn't really want to trust the installer to do the conversion. Fearing a long drawn out battle-- I've heard so many war stories of ME to XP upgrades going bad, and knowing that even if the OS upgrade went perfectly I'd still probably have a lot of work to do to reinstall or reconfigure applications, I decided to just reformat and start with a clean system. That would have the added benefit of blowing away all the spyware on the machine, too. :-)

I was working with the straight XP installer, btw, not SP2. The only installable media I have for SP2 is on my MSDN DVDs. The machine doesn't have a DVD reader, and figuring out how to create CD images from the MSDN DVDs might have been a worthwhile thing to do, but I figured that it would probably take twice as long to get that done as it would to go through the SP2 update after the initial install. After that was done, I got Firefox installed. Word installed, AIM installed -- no teenager can live without it, and the memory installed. That was a hassle! The HP Pavillion XE chassis was not designed to make memory upgrades easy. Actually, it was designed to try to make memory upgrades easy, but they didn't meet the objective. The chassis disassembles in an intriguing way that wasn't too difficult to figure out, and only one cable had to be disconnected in order to get enough clearance to install a pair of new 256 MB sticks, but reassembly requires some contortions -- first to actually get all the parts of the chassis to mesh properly, and secondly to try and squeeze fingers into a very tight space to reconnect that one cable. Having gotten past that, I thought I was home free. But no!...

The machine lives in a computer desk. It's got a little bay underneath sized properly for your average tower. The keyboard, mouse, network, and audio and power cables all reach comfortably down into that bay and up through the front so they can be plugged in before the machine slides in. Why, oh, why, though, do they make monitor cables so freaking short? It's about 4 inches too short, which requires a tricky balancing act of sliding the machine in but tilting it forward to expose just enough of a view of the back panel to barely see the video connector and with the hand holding the video cable in an incredibly awkward position. I've done this trick several times over the years, with this machine and with its predecessor. and I've always worried about the possibility of misaligning the connector and bending a pin on the video cable. It finally happened today.

Some careful work with tweezers and needlenose pliers, and I was ready to try to plug in the cable. I decided not to make the first try in that awkward position though. I knew that if I had gotten the pin close enough, then a good mating of the plug and the jack would actually put the finishing touch on straightening the pin, but I've over-adjusted and if the plug and jack meet at an awkward angle it could bend the pin in a different direction from the initial bend -- and more than likely break it. So I pulled the video cable out from behind the desk, picked up machine and put it on top of the desk and very carefully put the video cable in. I turned on the power and verified that it was working, and then made another try at the awkward job of putting it back into the bay under the desk and getting the video cable back in. This time it worked.

All that was left was getting iTunes configured. I got the basic install done, but left the rest to my daughter. She knows more about all this MP3 stuff than I do anyhow.

Well, actually, that's not quite all. I'm sure there are going to be other applications that one or both of my daughters need reinstalled, but that will have to wait for another day. I've had enough for now.

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Comments :v

1. Duffbert09/26/2005 09:36:13 PM

Sounds like every freaking home improvement project I do. :)

2. Justin Freeman09/26/2005 10:06:13 PM

Why not Ubuntu?

A much easier upgrade

3. Stan Rogers09/26/2005 11:45:28 PM

If there is one reason why I prefer LCD panels these days, it's that the freaking (yes, that is the appropriate term) cables -- both the power and the video -- usually disconnect from the monitor as well as whatever lives at the other end. Makes a boatload of sense to me -- one rarely wants to hide the montor away in an inaccessible spot. The only CRTs I ever saw that did that were ridiculously expensive LaCie jobs I used for prepress work a lot of years back.

4. Richard Schwartz09/26/2005 11:46:17 PM

@Duffbert: Bruce and I have come clean about that. I look forward to reading your own un-handyman story

@Justin: Actually, what I'm really thinking is how about a Mac?

5. Duffbert09/27/2005 07:51:47 PM

Guess I'll have to pick *one* of them to share... :)

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