# Thursday, 02 August 2012

One of the most talked about yet not so consumer oriented feature of Windows 8 is Windows To Go which is the ability to run Windows 8 from a USB drive instead of installing it onto a fixed hard drive. And of course everyone wanted to cool looking thumbdrive!

There are no shortage of instructions on how to make a Windows To Go drive. Here's 2 of them

  • Link 1 (Requires downloading of the Windows Automated Installation Kit)
  • Link 2 (Requires an already running Windows 8 installation)

So of course I decided to try and make one myself then! Here's what I found out after tons of sweat and disappointment.

Your USB thumbdrive probably ain't gonna work!

I have a wide range of USB drives ranging from so called super fast speeds, to petit drives that hides itself from the user.

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They all failed miserably at running Windows 8! How do you know if your thumbdrive can't run Windows 8?

First of all, when you try to image it following the instructions on the links above it'll take a LOOOOOOOOONG time to image. Basically if the imaging process takes longer than 60 mins (don't read the estimated time from the imaging program) Your thumbdrive is probably not going to work too well. If you actually decide to press on after the installation and actually boot into Windows 8, the first boot is gonna take more than 30 mins to finish the initial setup. If that STILL doesn't deter you from attempting to use Window 8 on your thumbdrive and you actually make it into Windows 8, disk access would be so slow that the user experience is totally unbearable at all!

A Hard Disk Works Best!

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The one thing that worked the few times I tried it? A simple USB hard drive. I suppose that since it's on USB, disk access would be slower than on a normal SATA channel, but performance generally feels... normal when I was using a hard drive as the source.

USB 3.0 Might Not Make A Difference

What about USB3.0? That question might have crossed your mind when you were reading the paragraph above. That was what I thought so too! Until I found out that my motherboard's USB 3.0 ports CANNOT be used as a boot drive, I *think* it's because they're basically sitting on a different channel or something like that. While it didn't work for me I suppose there's probably some motherboards out there which CAN boot from their USB 3.0 ports.

In conclusion, does that mean that as long as we use an external HDD we can run Windows To Go probably then? Well...

This probably isn't how to install Windows To Go in the release version of Windows 8

If you go back to the Microsoft page about Windows To Go which I linked at the start, it mentions that a Windows To Go system

  • Disables sleep and hibernate
  • Disabled internal hard drives of the computer it is booting on
  • etc. etc.

This does NOT happen with the install method I link to above, also during my various attempts in getting Windows To Go to work. There was ONE instance which after I booted into Window, a message actually popped up informing me that I was using Windows To Go mode. This has NEVER happened again.

So be warned that all the instructions online probably aren't creating a Windows To Go drive the way Microsoft is talking about.

If you STILL want to proceed...

While it's great that a simple USB hard drive would work, you might want something small and more compact to move around with compared to a hard disk. If that's the case you might want to try and look for the Pen Drive USB 3.0 External SSD

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It's a small, thin solid state drive which seems to be capable of running Windows 8 properly.

26th August 2012 : Update #1


Thursday, 02 August 2012 00:00:03 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Saturday, 28 July 2012

Just watched the epic Batman : The Dark Knight Rises movie this morning while it’s a great show to watch I can’t help but rant about a few glaring problems in the movie. Obviously if you haven’t watched the movie yet, you need to stop reading now cause it’s gonna be filled with spoilers!

*SPOILER SPACE*

*SPOILER SPACE*

*SPOILER SPACE*

*SPOILER SPACE*

*SPOILER SPACE*

Bruce Wayne has been broken after years of being the Batman. In the movie you keep hearing Bruce Wayne’s friends talk about how being the Batman has broken him through the years. But here’s the problem, unless I’m missing something, they also mentioned that the night of Harvey Dent’s murder was the last time Batman was in action. And he wasn’t a wreck then was he? My wife’s opinion? Maybe he fell down that large flights of stairs in his mansion!

Bruce Wayne knocks up with a woman with ZERO character development. And the audience is NOT supposed to think she’s evil? Especially after how Bruce Wayne keeps saying how much he trusts her? Her being Talia was a surprise (and them shacking up is probably just for the fans) her backstabbing the Batman? Not so much.

Incompetent police tactics. Throughout the movie this happens all the time.

ALL active police were sent down the sewers, ALL of them, down a sewer, WITHOUT a proper means of maintaining radio contact. Even when Gordon has already seen that there's at least a small platoon of armed thugs down there!

What was Gotham's finest plan for assaulting a dug in building where the thugs were armed with automatic weapons AND a couple of light tanks? An single column infantry charge straight down the wide open street straight at the building. If the Batman didn't take out the Thumblers first how stupid would that action be?

But did that accomplish much? They just keep standing out in the open street shooting people, forget about looking for cover! But then again I guess they weren't too scared about the capability of the thugs because.

Incomptent thug tactics: Seriously... how is the audience supposed to believe that a whole column of police officers can gather on the main street in front of the enemy base through the night and NOT have any one of the perimeter guards notice when his taking a smoking break or something?

Pet peeve: Why wasn't Blake's real name Terry?

Bonus Point Of Useless Knowledge

I'll now spoil every movie that you're going to see from this point on. After you read the next paragraph and do what's mentioned on it, you'll never be able to watch a movie the same way again and most likely lose all sense of suspense in certain movies. So go away if you don't want that to happen, but if you want to see how deep the rabbit hole goes...

*dramatic pause*

Look up the term Chekhov's Gun on the internet. Examples

  • Fusion core
  • Flooding capability of the reactor
  • Lack of auto pilot

Saturday, 28 July 2012 22:56:33 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Tuesday, 24 July 2012

As I was surfing around the web using my Windows 8 machine, I noticed a few problems with some of my websites. After poking around a bit I realized that the symptoms I was seeing were pretty much the same as the iOS Safari WebView problem I discovered previously. And sure enough... it's the browser capability files again. More info available on Scott Hanselman's blog.

You really should go and read up on the post, but in summary. If you run a ASP.Net webserver, you really should install these patches like RIGHT NOW so that users on IE10 will not experience any problems.

They should be up on Windows Update, but better safe than sorry.

If you don't have control of the server and can only upload files to your web application's folder, download this file from Scott's site. In the zip you'll find a projects/net[version] folder, along with some *.browser files. Copy the appropriate file to an app_browser folder in the root of your website and you'll be fine. Note that ASP.Net 3.0/3.5 is consider to be running on ASP.Net 2.0.


Tuesday, 24 July 2012 22:46:45 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Monday, 09 July 2012

I took WZ to see the Dinosaur Live exhibit at the National Science Center. Taking my Sony A550 with me since I knew the exhibit would be in a dark area and thinking I had a better chance with better shooting control than the Sony NEX. And I learnt a few things doing so.

Autofocus doesn't work well in the dark

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To the camera, it's pretty much pitch black in the exhibit. Autofocus couldn't pick out any details at all, and the fact that I was using the F20 which doesn't strobe as a focus assist light didn't help. The solution would be to switch to manual focus, or as I figured out after a while, use a flash light to help your camera focus (I used my HTC Radar's flashlight for this)

Shutter priority is a better choice in the dark

One of the first things the Semi Pro taught me when I first got my camera was that it'd be easier for me if I just used aperture priority in my shots, since usually when you're shooting with people you'd probably care more about the depth of field. And that has worked pretty well for me. But in a dark area, it's more important to control how long the lens is opened so you can control the lighting effect.

Fire the flash in rear sync mode.

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Not really a new thing I learnt this time around, but just as a reminder from last time. If you want to take photos which shows the ambience of weird colored lighting in the environment, set you flash to fire in rear sync mode.

Remind your wife that it takes time to setup the camera to take nice photos when you don't have practice.

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The night before I say my wife down and told her "Honey, I'm going to take the DSLR tomorrow when we go see the exhibit, it's probably gonna be in a dark area and I'm gonna need some time to tweak the camera and learn what's the best way to shot a picture in there. So it doesn't help if you keep complaining about why I'm taking so long for a shot."

Yes, I'll probably get killed if my wife reads this, hence WZ's expression is highly suitable for this tip. And if you don't understand what's the big deal about something like this, you're not married then are you? :P


Monday, 09 July 2012 00:10:28 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Monday, 02 July 2012

When Microsoft announced the Microsoft Surface tablet a few weeks ago, although I was surprised that Microsoft had the brass to make their own hardware I pretty much understood it had to be done. As I mentioned in the previous post, I'm no stranger with small, fully functional PCs so it doesn't surprise me to see one. And most people seem to forget.

This isn't Microsoft's first time trying to make a point for small fully functional PCs.

That honor belongs to the long forgotten Project Origami or rather.. the Ultra Mobile PC (UMPC) form factor. But of course, then Microsoft didn't make any actual hardware, then as per usual Microsoft advised the OEM partners on what would make a great UMPC and hoped they could do a great job. When the product (or should I call it... the project?) launched, the complaints were basically circling around the expensive price, comparatively lower performance than notebooks of the same price, and battery life that was not useful for the mobile lifestyle companion it was supposed to act as. Oh.. and of course the usual Windows XP wasn't meant for touch comments. (Which was more justified then cause Windows XP really didn't have much touch optimization compared to Windows Vista which came later)

Edit 19th August 2012 : Hey look, I found out I posted about Project Origami... way... waaaaaayyy back!

A comment which I remember reading from Microsoft was that even though those things were a factor back then, given a few years they would not be too much of a concern anymore. And I guess a few years is now. Let's see what do we have now? Given around the same price of a UMPC back then, we can now have an Intel Core i5 that is no slouch in performance, a potential of 5 hours of realistic battery life (My older generation i5 could do 4 hours, I doubt the new ones are gonna be any worse) and a touch screen + pen digitizer combo. And of course, what else has happened?

Windows 8 happened.

If you look back to a post I made when the Apple iPad launched. (And I DID tell you guys to save the post!) I mentioned that Windows 7 Touch Will NEVER Be Better Than The Apple iPad! And that Windows purpose is "to provide a platform for developers to create apps that are designed for touch interaction, and more importantly to allow users to use as many of their applications as possible even though the apps are NOT MEANT FOR TOUCH OPERATION." If you look at the duality of the existence of the Metro interface as well as the traditional desktop in Windows 8, the statement is pretty much ringing true right now. Of course funny thing is now that the Metro UI is taking the center stage right now, instead of users bemoaning that Windows can't be used properly with touch controls (If you have a touch capable Windows tablet and you think that, please refer to this link), now they're complaining that Windows can't be used properly WITHOUT touch controls! The irony! (And something I hope to help with when Windows 8 RTMs)

So finally at this point in time, we're able to get a highly capable PC in a lightweight, portable form factor and with an operating system that can run effectively through a touch interface. And that's essentially what the Microsoft Surface Pro (I'm not talking about the ARM version here) and the many other ultrabook spec'ed Windows Tablet which are coming out are going to deliver...

The UNCOMPROMISING PROCESSING CAPABILITY OF A REAL PC.

As I mentioned before when the Apple iPad launched, it is not meant for me. And the main reason being that anything I need to make a decision into whether to take it with me or not better be worth it. Whatever I would want to do on an iPad, I could do on my phone so how could I justify carrying something around in a bag when the thing in my pocket works just as well? For those of you who are silently thinking "I don't need a bag to carry my iPad, it's light and thin, I just hold it like a small brochure in my hands or tuck in under my shoulder, no biggy." My response to that? Have multiple children, then get back to me on how well having one less free hand works out!

There are those who say that with Microsoft Surface, Microsoft is just trying to stuff a PC into a tablet form factor. To those people I'd have to say that with the Surface Pro at least, there isn't a differentiation. A Windows Tablet is basically a Windows PC, whatever you can do on a Windows PC, you can do it on a Windows Tablet, because.. it IS a PC.

  • Download ANYTHING via ANY protocol? Yep.
  • Watch any video, using any number of weird codecs and formats? Yep.
  • Run the favorite browser of your choice to access browser dependant features? Yep.
  • Use REAL Adobe Photoshop? Why not?

If you're a Windows user, and you're thinking about getting a more portable system you really should wait for Windows 8 hardware to drop and check out all the Windows Tablet devices that are bound to show up.

But of course If you regularly take cross continental flights and need something to keep the days you're up in the air. By all means, get an iPad and load up with batteries.

One final note that I have to point out about how well designed the Microsoft Surface Pro is. It was enough for my non gadget head wife to order me to get one when possible. To me, that's simply amazing!


Monday, 02 July 2012 01:43:06 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  |