Virtual mode for Windows 7?

Is this a joke?

Windows XP Mode is an add-on for Windows 7 Professional and higher that comes in two parts, each of which has its own setup. The first is Windows Virtual PC, a new version of Microsoft’s free desktop virtualization platform, and the second is Virtual Windows XP itself, which is a virtual hard drive pre-loaded and licensed with Windows XP Service Pack 3.

The magic happens when you then close Virtual XP. Windows 7 whirs and grinds and creates a new Start Menu group called Virtual Windows XP Applications, in my case full of Office 2000 applications. I started Word 2000, and after a couple of minutes’ initialization, it opened in its own window, just like a native application. Impressive, until I started typing and found a severe delay between striking a key and text appearing on the page. (Edit: the couple of minutes are for booting Windows XP in the virtual machine?)

Just me or is this an incredible kludge? If the integration is that weak, it probably makes sense to just let the virtual machine be transparent rather than be a sleight-of-hand.


When you shut down Windows 7 after using Windows XP Mode, the virtual machine hibernates by default, which is convenient but could in time lead to degraded performance.

Bad idea…

learning to use other senses (part 2)

… and squint.

This is part of the laptop backlight repair documentation.

So I gave up on fixing the laptop screen. The screen shall forever stay apart from the laptop. I even removed the laptop cover from its hinges so I just get a nice flat machine, and lighter, too. On second thought, this isn’t that bad. It’s no worse than a desktop machine. It’s still portable, and I just need to find a VGA monitor to connect to. Or just use Remote Desktop to connect in. Fine with me. But before I can get an external monitor, I still have a transition period where I need output from the machine right on the desk.
(Read the article)

ridiculously antiquated banking system

For an advanced economy with advanced electronic banking systems, it is embarassing that there is no bank that has branches in all parts of the country and no electronic funds clearing other than on “business days”. Computers don’t have geographic boundaries nor do they take breaks. Why can’t money be available everywhere (without resorting to a middle-man cash machine network) and be freely transferable 24/7?

For that matter, what is the fear of a central bank? In some countries, banks are like utilities and post offices — public services provided by the government. The First and Second National Banks were killed because people did not trust the government with their money. Well, it seems like big commercial banks can be trusted even less. Also, it’s not like anything would function with just community banks. It’s not a country of farmers any more…

I mean, capital allocation decisions can still be locally made and subject to market forces, as they should, but banking infrastructural issues like described here (and regulatory ones, some say) should have no reason not to be national, am I wrong?

Windows Vista

Back during RC1, I requested a key but never got around to installing it. Then RC2 came out. Now of course Vista has RTM’d and the official MIT release is supposed to be coming at the end of this month, but I finally decided to see what’s what and gave RC2 a go. I was not about to blow away any production machine, but there was already a Linux host machine running some OS’s via VMWare, so that’s where the install went.

I had only two small problems. One, I had to repartition the only drive because I believed Vista docs, which said it required a min of 15GB. (The nice tool “gparted” did the trick of non-destructive repartitioning — when it didn’t crap out!) Turns out 15GB is total BS. A clean install of Vista Ultimate took 4-5GB on the disk. (I don’t remember having any choice over which version to install, strange!)

The second problem: The installer also refused to begin on a machine with less than 512MB of RAM since it’s the “minimum requirement.” I was poking around for a workaround online and saw people asking the same question. No answer was ever given (no command switch that I am aware of), only a swarm of trolls boasting about their new machines and how Vista could not possibly be useful on anything less than 1GB. Well, utter BS. It’s running right now on 256MB of RAM … Inside VMWare … On a physical machine that actually only has 512MB of RAM … Rendered over a remote desktop connection with all graphics turned on …. And tunneled over an uncompressed PPTP link. The machine is otherwise a P4 1.7GHz. It does just fine. I’m writing this in Vista right this moment and I wouldn’t be doing it if I felt the slightest bit of inconvenience. On a clean boot, the system eats around 160MB of RAM. That’s a lot more than the typical 60MB/80MB of 2000/XP, but it isn’t bad. The way I got it to install was this: I had to set 512MB of RAM for the virtual machine just to let the setup start (and the machine thrashed a bit — due to VMWare paging, not even due to the setup program), but as soon as setup rebooted for the first time, I switched the VM back to 256MB.

It is working well enough that I’m thinking of putting this on a real machine. The usability improvements are good and the sort that exercise the hardware improvements over the years — the Start menu search among them. The metaphors and idioms are still very much what was seen in XP though, so there is much continuity here. Maybe that’s why people say it’s XP Service Pack 11. But I think that’s a good thing in this case.

Next up, installing RDP 6 client for XP and Office 12 beta.