Monday, September 24, 2007

Fun with Windows Re-Activation

I've had to call Microsoft one time in the past to re-activate Windows, after a known bug rendered my machine useless and I had to reinstall my OS. I actually switched to Linux for a year after that particular incident.

Yesterday, while trying to fix an unrelated problem in Vista, I noticed that I was 3 days away from a mandatory validation. It looks like when my new CPU died and I replaced it with the old one, I broke my validation (again).

I've had this installation of Vista on my computer since December 2006. Three months ago, I replaced my CPU and had to re-validate Windows. One month ago, my new CPU died and I put the old one back in, requiring yesterday's re-validation.

Unfortunately, the third time is the charm, and I was not allowed to validate online. I had to call the lovely people overseas/errrr in Redmond.

A woman answered the phone and asked for the validation ID. I gave it to her. She asked if this was a new computer. I explained that it's the same computer, but that I had upgraded the CPU and re-validated, then switched back to the old CPU when the new one failed, requiring this current re-validation.

She did not know what a CPU was. She explained in broken English that I cannot use one copy of Windows on 3 different computers.

Long story short, I re-explained my situation in as plain non-techy terms as I could. Eventually she gave up and cut me off mid-sentence, and started giving me the code I needed to activate Windows.

Whatever. I didn't argue. I took down the code, thanked her, and hung up.

What a joke. Granted, I'm a legitimate user with a legitimate copy of Windows and a legitimate request for re-activation - but apparently, all you need to do is confuse the idiots on the other end of the line until they're sick of listening to you, and they will give you a new activation key.

Way to go, Microsoft! High quality customer service, AND piracy prevention! You're doing great! Keep it up!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Kudos to AppleCare and Vista on a Mac

I got my MacBook Pro back from the Apple Store last week. I have one of the first-gen MacBook Pro's, and was lucky enough to get one with a faulty logic board. The unexpected shutdowns finally got so frequent and so annoying that I brought the thing in to get fixed. I have Apple Care protection on this machine, so I wasn't in any rush. Maybe I should have rushed a bit, as the constant shutdowns ended up killing my hard drive as well.

Lucky for me, Apple Care covered everything - to the tune of $1,299. Holy crap. Everybody should buy Apple Care!!!

Since getting the machine back (they were able to save all of my data - more kudos to Apple Care and the Genius Bar), I had to reinstall some stuff, including Bootcamp and Windows. Turns out, there has been an update in Bootcamp since last I installed it, so I got frisky this time and put Vista on my second partition. (I formerly ran XP on there).

I was quite pleased with the results. My Windows performance scores range from 4.0 (Windows graphics and aero) to 4.7 (processor performance). I've only got the Intel Core Duo CPU - not the Core 2 Duo. I really couldn't be happier with the performance rating. I wasn't expecting it to be as high as it was.

Go Mac!

Friday, September 14, 2007

ESPN Crystal Ball

Pretty cool if you're into fantasy football - ESPN Crystal Ball

Provides projected stats and expert commentary for your team, regardless of what site your team is actually registered to. Just input your roster and the scoring system for your league, and you'll have your very own crystal ball to look into.

I made changes to my fantasy football roster this week based on the Crystal Ball, and they were different from the changes I'd planned to make. We'll see how well I fare...

Monday, September 10, 2007

When Adobe CS3 crashes with that "license has stopped working" error

Note to self:

When Adobe CS3 crashes with that "licensing subsystem has failed catastrophically" or "licensing has stopped working for this program" error, check the Services in Windows:

Solution 2: Restart and enable the FLEXnet Licensing Service. (Windows Only)

1. Open the Administrative Tools control panel.
2. Double click "Services".
3. Scroll down to FLEXnet Licensing Service on the list of service and double-click the service to open its properties.
4. Change the Startup type to Manual.
5. Click the Start button to start the service.
6. Restart your Creative Suite 3 application.

(This isn't the first time I've run into this problem. Oy!)

Sunday, September 09, 2007

AMD's Non-Existent Warranty for OEM CPU's

Remember that great processor I bought for my computer? The one I was so lucky to find, because they don't make them anymore and it's the fastest available CPU that my old motherboard will support?

It's dead. 3 weeks past the warranty return date.

You see, normally you get a 3 year warranty on CPU's. However, that's only for retail boxed CPU's. If you buy a component that is not packaged for retail sale - an OEM component (typically sold to companies that make computers - original equipment manufacturers) - at least by AMD's terms, your warranty is limited to whatever warranty your place of sale provides. AMD provides NO warranty on OEM CPU's, at least not to consumers.

My place of sale ( provides a 30 day warranty on OEM CPU's.

I have never liked newegg to begin with. I prefer, but ZZF didn't have the CPU I needed in stock back on July 15, 2007 when I was ordering it.

I woke up this morning to a black screen on my monitor. I noticed that my keyboard LED's were off (the backlighting to the keys on my keyboard). Weird, but the system still had power. It was on. The monitor was getting no signal. Alrighty, whatever. Reboot.

The talking lady inside my computer came on and, in a very concerned voice, repeated incessantly, "System reports CPU failure! System reports CPU failure!"


Except I didn't really say "fuck" at that time. I sighed, shut the machine down, and started taking it apart, knowing I still had my old CPU tucked safely away in its protective case. (Good thing I didn't sell it on ebay last week when I was all about getting rid of my old computer parts).
I took the "new" CPU out (it was HOT as hell) and put my old CPU back in. Closed her up, powered on, booted up, and here I am.

Then I went to to print out my invoice and get the date of purchase. I was shocked that it was 7 weeks ago, really. It felt more like 3. I was sure I'd be within the 30 day time frame. Not so.

I've done RMA's (return merchandise authorizations) on computer parts before, and have never really had any trouble. Western Digital has a good RMA service, as does Maxtor (though I've used Maxtor's WAY more than anybody should - I mean, it's great that they make it easy to return their failed components, but their components shouldn't fail so friggin much). Anyway, after a mildly frustrating experience discovering that AMD's RMA web site requires Internet Explorer (no, they don't mention it - it just doesn't work in Firefox), I entered all of my CPU information only to find that my CPU was not in their database. Then, this notation:

The processor serial number you have entered has not been found in our records and the processor cannot be registered online.

If this is an AMD retail packaged Processor in a Box and you have proof of purchase, please contact your regional Technical Service Center to request an RMA.

If this processor is not an AMD retail packaged Processor in a Box you will need to contact the company from which you purchased your processor or computer system to obtain any warranty replacement to which you may be entitled.

Not found in AMD database.

Oh my. This is not a retail box processor. That means I'm limited to's return policy.

That's 30 days.

It has been more than 30 days.

(Here's where the "Fuck" came in. Sorry for the premature slinging of profanities).

It's just my luck, really. $95.99 down the drain. Gone. Vanished. Up in smoke. All for 7 weeks of fast computer processing speeds. That's almost $14/week.

It was not worth it.

You're probably asking, "Well, why didn't you buy the retail boxed version, then?"

2 reasons:

1. There wasn't one available (I do prefer retail boxed components whenever possible).

2. Most manufacturers still support returns of OEM equipment as long as you have proof of purchase, which I have. The terms are usually shorter. In fact, when I worked at the computer shop, AMD OEM CPU's had a 1 year warranty, while boxed chips had the 3 year warranty.

At any rate, I'd have never guessed a 30 day warranty on a CPU. Never. Actually, I've never seen a manufacturer NOT support their OEM products! AMD offers NO warranty on an OEM CPU! That's just ridiculous. What do PC manufacturers do when they get dead parts (which DOES happen)? Maybe this is just their policy with private consumers.

I don't know, but my opinion of AMD has just dropped HUGE.

Anyone want a dead AMD 64 X2 4200+ dual core CPU? They make great keychains.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Why are so many nerds Libertarians?

I was interested when Google Reader fed me this tidbit from an article at Slashdot: Why are so many nerds Libertarians?

Unfortunately, it was just flame bait and not an actual article. Boooo.