Friday, October 16, 2009

Windows 7 on my Tablet

A few months ago I bought an old but nice (Pentium M, 1.5GB RAM, 30GB drive, wireless, Bluetooth) tablet to experiment and to use it as an eBook (in my opinion something far better than Kindle, the Amazon’s eReader).

One of the things I wanted to test were the new features of Windows 7, but the machine has no CD / DVD, and I have no USB-DVD.

I had read, long ago, that it was possible to create a version of XP that fit in (and boot from) a USB, so I decided to investigate whether it was possible to use a USB drive to install Windows 7.

It seems that my idea was not original, because I found a dozen blogs and articles describing how this was done.

After reading “ Install Windows 7 from a USB Flash Drive " and "Windows 7 on LE1600 - Installation from pen drive ", I decided to give it a try.

I downloaded Windows 7 Professional from and I borrowed a Sony USB 5 GB from work.

I followed the instructions to the letter, but every time I tried to boot from the USB, the light blinked a couple of times and then it would just remain ON while the display only showed a blinking cursor.

Evidently, this was a boot issue. I tried doing a bootsect / nt60 , but this did not help ...

I thought that maybe the computer was slow to access the USB and it might only be a matter of patience. It was already 1 am, so I decided to call it the night and to leave the system running, but the next morning everything was unchanged.

The next day, I borrowed the USB drive, and decided to try again ...

Researching a bit more I found that " How To: Install Windows 7 Beta from a USB Key! " recommends formatting the disk as NTFS rather than FAT.

I gave it a try, this time the system started to boot, but it stopped with an error:

Status: 0xc0000001
Info: An error occurred while trying to read the boot configuration data

I Google it and Bingil , but did not find a convincing solution...
I decided to try again from scratch, and sure enough, it failed again (as Einstein would say: "only a fool does the same thing over and over and expecting different results").

There I remembered that a few days ago, while updating the firmware of a system at work, a vendor insisted about not booting from a USB over 2 GB. I figured there might be a connection.
I had a 2GB USB, the issue is that the installation DVD of Windows 7 has more than 2 GB and therefore had not tried.

I decided to test, at least to help determine the problem.
Copied the whole disc except for a single file (\sources\install.wim), I knew that that file is the most important of the installation process, but I decided to continue, after all this was just a test to see if I could boot.

I placed the USB on the table, and rebooted, and lo and behold! The Windows 7 Setup began to run. Of course, as soon as I clicked install, the program complained that he could not find the file.

OK, one step forward and a new challenge...

I Connected the USB 5 GB (still had the image of my previous attempts) and clicked install, the 5 GB USB was not accessed even once and the installation failed just as before ...

I Rebooted the system to try again. This time, the 5GB USB was read, but the installation failed as before.

Looking around, I found a way to access the CMD, and I began to investigate.

My hard drive was there, in the good old C: my 2GB USB was seen as D: and the 5GB as E:, the system was running from a virtual drive X: (later determined that it was based on information from \sources\boot.wim ).

Last year we created the images for the 1200+ Windows Vista machines at work, and I became quite knowledgeable of the Windows installation process. I knew that the installation program can told from where to take install.wim information.
This option is primarily for organizations to put the file on a centralized server, or a modified version of the OS, but it should be fine for my needs.
As far as I remembered, there were two ways to specify this setting to the installer process: through an “unattended installation file” (what we had done in at work to configure the VISTA machines), or through a parameter to the executable.

I did not have an "unattended file" (nor the time or the desire to create one), so I decided to use the parameter InstallFrom for the executable.

Once again, I went to CMD, and run " setup.exe /InstallFrom:e:\sources\Install.wim ", the installer ran, but gave me the same error than before. I tried a few variations (without the file name, from different locations, adding the directory path, etc), but none worked.

I started to check the virtual disk X:, and navigated to the “Phanter” directory witch, I remembered my experience with VISTA, has the log and records of the installation process.

After a while of reading those files (very entertaining, especially when using only TYPE MORE ), I realized what my problem was: The installation and was already running.
This CMD window in which I worked had been launched from the installer and was running within the environment of the installation program, so every time I executed the setup command, the installer was restarted in memory instead of a new one being executed. That is why it was ignoring my parameters.
The program was set to find the installers in D:\Sources, and there no convincing him otherwise.

Thus, I had two choices: to create an automated installation file (unattended XML file), or tricking the system to use the USB 5GB instead of 2GB.
I needed to replace an existing disk (D:) with another disk (E:), I knew the E: drive had all the same information from the D:, so if I could replace then I should have no problem even if the system tried to look for files in the old location.

Had I have access to the disk manager I would had simply changed the drive letters, but this was not the case.

Then remembered an old DOS 3.11 command SUBST which lets you assign a drive letter to a directory.
It was a very useful command when, back in my PC-XT, we copied the games to the HD diskettes, sometimes a game would complain if it was ran from a directory, in those cases we used SUSBST to give it a drive letter and played the game from that “drive”.

I wasn’t sure if the command was still available, particularly in the reduced CMD console of the installer, but turned out to be there.

I gave it a “dry test”: SUBST R: E:\ ran smoothly, and DIR R: returned the expected result.
I knew that SUBST cannot use a drive letter that is already in use, thus I needed to eliminate the D: in order to replace it with the E:, but if I boot without the 2GB USB I would not be able to reach the installer. Catch 22

After a bit of thinking, I realized that the installer was running on Windows (a reduced version but still Windows), and I knew that the plug-and-play was working (it had detected my keyboard as soon as I plugged in).
With a little luck, if I removed 2GB USB the system would release the drive letter ... or it would hang completely:-P

I crossed my fingers and removed the USB 2GB ... the system continued to operate, good sign. :-)
I ran SUBST D: E:\ and it executed without errors, I did a DIR D: I got the expected results.
It was time for the ultimate test: I clicked on install and hold my breath until the system started to install my new OS ...

A few minutes later my tablet joined the Windows 7 family !!!! :-)

Lessons learned:
"Never retreat, never surrender"
It took me 3 days and many attempts, but finally achieved what I wanted!

"Long life to DOS!"
Most of the troubleshooting I did was using 2 very old commands TYPE and MORE , and also the solution was an old command: SUBST .

Friday, September 25, 2009


This entry is post-dated, but better late than never !! :-)

I wanted to tell you that since September 25Th, 2009 at 11:20 AM EDT, I'm a US Citizen !!!!

I been dreaming about it for decades, and it has finally become a reality :-)

Here you can see a couple of pictures, not really good ones since they have been taken with the Blackberry and the guy that took them had a shaky hand, but you can notice my happy face !!! :-P

With the Certificate

with the First couple ;-)

OK, they were just Cardboard cut outs, but I do not care ... I KNOW that one day I'll be able to meet both of them in person !!!!

OK, Best regards to everyone !!!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Freedom of expression

Today, I found a picture who's feeling I relate to:

Congratulations tot he one that came up with the phrase and made the sign (I found the picture here), I hope they do not mind that I make my own version:

"San Martín with 1 horse freed 3 nations,
a penguin and his mare destroyed Argentina"

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Goodbye Bioy...

Today, I was planing to tell you about my first day in México, but when I arrived to the hotel I got a very sad news.

My Girlfriend called to let me know that our dog "Bioy" has died.

"I say our dog because what we love, we considere it our property" so goes the song by Alberto Cortes, and it's the true.

It was Romina's dog, she got it as a puppy, named after her favorite writer and raised and care for him over the year, saving his live many times along the way, she introduced us to each other a few years ago. It might have been her dog, but I loved as my own, and while many times he was a tricky SOB I loved him (and I love him) very much.

We knew that he did not have much rope left, after all he was about 14 years old, which as they say  translates to over a hundred "dog years", but we selfishly hopped that the would live a couple more years, that he would be able to see our house fixed, and that he would be able to meet the brother or sister that we were planning to acquire  And, we never voiced, but I think we were both hopping that one day he would meet our own children.

I can believe that he really is dead, he cheated death so many times that it's hard to understand that he is no longer with us.

We was showing his age, his mouth hair was almost white and  he was moving slowly, still, every once in a while, he would summon all his strength and ability to squiz his body through the fence and get through the window. How was he able to pass his body through  the small holes of the fence ? That's a secret he took with him.

I remember how happy he was after I cleaned up the area under the grill and prepared it for him to sleep. I was not sure if he would really like it but he loved it right away.

He has a crazy dog, eating only when we were around  if no one was close by he would have to be really hungry to eat, and many of his "Doggie" bites ended up feeding the birds of the neighborhood that came to enjoy the free lunch.

I meet him old, but he was really beautiful  he was a bit of an "artist", barely walking one instant and at the next he was climbing everywhere to get same place he was not supposed to. He respected and obeyed Romina (most of the time, anyway) but he had little care for what I might have to say (decidedly he did not see me as the Alpha-male of the house :-) ).

As you can see, this hit me hard, not only have I lost my dog, he died while I'm thousands of kilometers away, I can not say "goodbye" to him, and I can not hug and comfort the woman I love in such a difficult moment.

But I know he loved me, and I love him very much.

Goodbye Bioy, I would have like to get to know you even better and for a few more years, thanks for all the love you gave us and for so many great memories.

I love you !!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Yahoo Mail sucks!

I remember a few years ago when Yahoo was the best example of innovation and technology on the Internet today.
Today, I think it is precisely the opposite.

It's been more than 10 years that I have a mail account at Yahoo, and 8 that became a Yahoo Mail Plus! user paying $ 20 per year.

During these years, my Yahoo account became my portal for mails, receiving all emails from my many accounts, as Yahoo has the ability to download emails from other providers.

Everything went wonderful, until in June 2008, when Yahoo decided to "improve" their email system.
Suddenly my mails began to double, triple, quadruple, etc.

I began to investigate the causes and turns out that Yahoo was working incorrectly downloading multiple times the same items from my email providers (believe me we're talking about a LOT of emails)

As a concerned customer, I decided to contact the technical service of Yahoo Mail.
After 2 months of various (and very crazy) testing, after the opening about 20 sub cases, they concluded that there was a bug in the system (nope, this guys are no really quick), and decided to escalate my case to the engineering department.

To this I must add the really annoying habit that this techs have of not reading emails. They will reply to you based on the first couple of lines, and will then ask you for data that was clearly detailed in line 10, or a few lines beyond.

Imagine my joy when the Engineering Department to inform them that this was (is) a known bug, already working on, and that would be solved soon.
They even gave me an "engineering case number" (2235901) to add to the nearly 30 numbers of cases (no, I'm not exaggerating, they open a new case with each contact) that I already had.

But why would I care, the issue "would be solved soon"

One month later, I contacted the technical support (another case number) to see that was happening with this solution and when was going to be ready.
They replied that the Engineering Dept. had encountered some problems and did not know when it would have it fix.

Two months later, the same story: "We appreciate your being a Premium User and we are committed to providing you with excellent service" ... "Our Engineering Team has determined that there is not an immediate fix for this issue, and they are continuing to work on the resolution" ... "I do appreciate your patience."

The following month, ditto.

Other months, ditto.

I forgot for a while, until I got an email from the billing department of Yahoo Mail: "Thanks for using Yahoo! Mail Plus." ... "it's time for the annual auto-renewal of your service" ... "your credit card will be charged the annual fee of $19.99"

It was like putting salt in the wound.

Once again, I Contacted the technical support department of yahoo mail.
Once again I got the same template answer (thank you for all your money, our developers have no idea of what is going (or maybe the have not even look into it), try another days, maybe you'll get lucky).

I forwarded the email from the support team to the billing department and requested to be credited for the many months I had been unable to use the service. Knowing how the gross incompetent they can be, I specifically mentioned that I did NOT wanted my premium account canceled, I just wanted to be refunded for the months with this problem.
I then attached a history of correspondence with the technical dept.

The billing dept Yahoo responded by asking me to complete a form at in order to open the case.
Obediently, I followed the link and found out that the form was to claim for "malfunction of the website when trying to make a payment."

Have I Already mentioned that the Yahoo people do not read the messages that are sent to them?
Have I already mentioned that they reply to emails like decerebrated machines?

Anyway, I Complete the form as much as I could all the way to the end and in the Note field I pasted the email that I had previously sent to Yahoo's billing dept.

A few days later, I received a mail from Yahoo billing dept asking me to explain what the problem was. I detailed the problem once again and attached, again, the history of the exchange with the technical dept.

Two days later, another email from the billing dept Yahoo: "Could you give us your username and the case numbers opened with technical support?". (Information they had 3 times in the emails I have sent to them and that I have entered in the form when I opened the case at

VERIFIED: The technicians at Yahoo! do not know how to read!!!!

I forwarded them this information once more and explained what I wanted:
a) I did not wan to be charged a renewal fee,
b) I did not wanted to be charged until the issue was solved, and
c) once the issue is solved I wanted to be able to use the system without charge for the period that I was not able to use the system.

A day later, I received an automated mail from Yahoo: "Your account has been canceled," followed by an email from someone in the billing dept of Yahoo: "I've canceled your account and we are refunding to your card in the amount of $18 for the months could not use the system "

NO, I'm not kidding, is the true !

I answered something like "YOU DID WHAT ?????????????? I Asked you NOT to cancel my account! Immediately undo the change, so I do not loose any emails!"

The reply Response (from another clown in the billing dept Yahoo) was: "Sorry, there was a mistake." ... "once a subscription is cancelled, we are not able to re-instate on our end. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause." ... "you will need to re-subscribe to the service"

No comment ... except to say: I hope they go bankrupt, or that someone buys them and fires all these useless technicians !!!!!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sightseeing in Geneva

Someone wondered (about my last post) if I could do any sigthseeing at all ... the answer is YES!

From Viaje a Suiza

On Saturday I went to see the site of the United Nations and the Red Cross ... I only expected to see the buildings from the outside and nothing more, but I got a pleasant surprise when I found that the museum of the "red cross and red crescent moon" was open. Admission is cheap CHF 10 (10 Swiss francs, about 9 U.S. dollars).

From Viaje a Suiza

The museum is very nice, and very interactive, not one of those boring museums that display hundreds of things in a room with a small sign below each one.
This museum is a great room divided into sections, but keeping the feeling of and open space and full of light.
The exhibitions are really big and bright, with lots of graphics and data in many languages, sounds, videos and automatic exhibits (which are activated upon entering a section), and a great way to convey their message, for example a 6'x6'x3' room, representing a windowless cell where representatives of the ICRC found a large number of political prisoners, dozens of glass panels containing the original files of all prisoners of war, murals detailing yearly the different events world (natural or human) involving the participation of the ICRC (notably, the wall of 1982 did not contain any mention of the Malvinas conflict).

From Viaje a Suiza

Another interesting thing is this block of wood with an inscription inviting all to write their own definition of freedom. Well, most of the comments are in Spanish.

When I got in the museum I thought I would go thru it in a few minutes, but it's so interesting that several hours later I was surprised to hear a reminder that the museum would close in 15 minutes.

One interesting thing I discovered when looking for a hotel for the weekend was that several of the hotels here give you a free travel card valid for all mass public transport, taking into account that a travel card for 2 hours here is 2 CHF (U.S. $ 1.5 approx), this gift from the hotel / Swiss municipalities are a real bonus.

For example, the Hotel Grand-Pre, where I staid cost CHF 100 (that was the price line, if you contract directly with the hotel would have 50% more) and included the airport suttle and the transport card, whereas the transport from the airport can cost approximately CHF 20 or 25, and possibly would have spent about CHF 15 on buses, trams, etc. So the hotel came out a real bargain. Especially in Geneva where the hotels are more luxurious and ridiculously expensive.
For example, L'Anglaterra (which are often some colleagues when they come for business) costs more than U.S. $ 300 .... WOW !!!!!!! ... Clearly that is not the same kind of hotel ... the one I use is a little more humble :-P

I used the card a lot, not only to and from the nations of the area (where the UN, the ICRC, and most of the embassies are) but also when I got tired of walking, or I was cold, and even when I had no idea of where to go. I would then just get in to the first bus or tram to show up and just see where it took me. Whenever I see something interesting, I just got off there.

That's how I got to the Geneva channels, got off the bus and started walking along the shore until the lake and a little bit arround it. YES, it was cold, but the view really worth it.

From Viaje a Suiza

look at this photo of the lake, noticed the whitish spots on the water, is not a reflection of the lights, it's my camera's flash illuminating the stones in the bottom. I was about 6 feets high, and water meters deep would be another 3 or 4 feets... That's what I call clear waters !!!!

From Viaje a Suiza

As I commented on another blog, on Sunday we traveled from Geneva to Lausanne (the city where we had the meetings).

Rather than going the direct way, we decided to detour a bit and we first went to the headquarters of our company:

From Viaje a Suiza

From there we went to a ski resort nearby and then went to eat (You can see me here tasting some frog's legs), and finally to the hotel.

From Viaje a Suiza

since we had over 4 hours until we meet for dinner, I decided to go for a walk. I went down the hill / mountain to get to the lake, then walked along the lake until sunset and then I took a bus to the hotel (with a free travel card, courtesy of the hotel and the city of Lausanne).

From Viaje a Suiza

And with this beautiful image (my image, of course) I leave you until my next psot ...

hugs to everyone ....

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Business Travel

One of the most fascinating things of this profession that I have is the possibility of making business vacations, I mean, business trips..

It doesn't happen every week nor every month, but almost certainly at least once a year I get to go on a business trip.

Now, a "business trip" can be almost anything, from going to repair a server in a windowless room in the middle of the most desolate landscape, to participating in a workshop for a new product in the Microsoft's HQ in Redmond.

But the most common are the "Business Meeting", travel to a strange city to meet with colleagues from other offices around the world, meetings where the transition is 50% of information (technical or political) and the other 50% is "networking" : talk, share experiences and problems, establish relationships, and put a face to the voice on the phone or sending emails.

The best part of these business trips is the possibility of visiting new places. The worst thing is the inability to visit these new places :-)

I mean you get to the city (probably by plane), you register at the hotel almost immediately, and (if you arrive early) can probably walk a little while.

At night, you probably have an official welcome dinner with other participants of the meetings (usually in the same hotel). Even if nothing is organized, by this moment you have run into several other colleagues and they will be organizing to go dinner together, but many will be tired by the journey, and you are in a strange city at night, so people will want to stay relatively close to the Hotel.

The next day, the meetings start early, which, unless you're really a morning kind of person (which I am not), you can forget about seeing something in the morning (unless you have to walk to the hotel meeting room, which is really uncommon as meetings are usually made in the same hotel).

The meeting rooms around the world are surprisingly similar, boring and sterile rooms, with a series of tables symmetrically distributed. The existence, size and number of windows is inversely proportional to the beauty of the landscape outside, where the landscape is really wonderful meeting room are in the middle of the building, without windows or with a few very small windows; on the other hand when landscape does not call the attention of anyone, the windows are really abundant ... clearly that no one looks at them ...

Lunch is usually at the same place where the meetings take place (more than once are in the same room).

At night, you have a dinner scheduled, and in my experience is the best part of the day and the funniest. Not just for the free food and drink, but also because they are usually in really nice places (a marina, a settlement in the desert, an old castle, or an amusement park, for example).

You see, even in the most wonderful place in the world, is really difficult to do much "sightseeing" on this "working" days, you might go for a little stroll and such, but the only thing that you get to know well is the airport (due to the time you spend waiting for bags, check-in, security points, or just waiting for your flight).

Real tourism can only be done before or after those "working" days, arriving a couple of days before or staying a couple of extra days at end of the meetings.

Each time I get told about and upcoming business trip I check the dates, to see how much can I extend the trip to enjoy a little of life.

In general, the extra days means I have to pay some nights hotel (which is why I rarely stay this extra nights at the hotel that the company pays for the working days), but sometimes you can get someone in a good mood and get the company to cover the hotel for extra nights, it is rare but has happened a few times.

What it's always "included" is the flight. No matter for how many days is the trip, the fare is paid by the company, and it's really rare that they will give you trouble in getting an extra couple of days (if you ask before they issue the ticket). And were is in business class or "grabbed from Wing" class (as I'm send most of the time), an airline ticket is something that should not be wasted :-)

That is what I did this time, I left the US on Friday (arrived here on Saturday) and I am leaving the Monday after the meetings, so I added 3 or 4 days for vacation.

The second thing I do when I learn about a trip is to check what is there to do, mainly to see if there is any place to dive. This trip to Switzerland was no exception, but while it was possible to do some diving, the temperature of the lake (after all, we are in winter here) and the available operators did not convince me, so I decided to so just sightseeing.

OK, I wrote too much for a day, I leave you all a hug.

Monday, January 26, 2009

I'm in Lausanne, Switzerland

Today I write from the shores of Lake Geneva in the city of Lausanne.
It's really hard to describe places as beautiful as this.

When you walk through the streets of cities like this, where each step is either uphill or downhill, but never horizontal, one can't help to think that despite the difficulties they managed to make progress, not only economic progress but also social progress, while at the same time our beloved Argentina, like most of Latin America, is seriously stuck in both aspects of their development (and I say stuck for not saying regressing).

Yes, someone will jump to say that this country is what it is thanks to money they store, but to get to that, to the point where people (good or bad) rely on this place to deposit their funds, to arrive to that point this country should have done a great job, since (despite what some people thinks) trust is not a right, nor is it something that comes from the grace of the Holy Spirit, trust is earned and you must deserve it.

Uppsss I'm rambling a lot today!
That happens when you stroll for hours by a beautiful lake, clean and full of wildlife :-)

I leave you with a hug.

Walking in Genéve

Next week I have a series of work related meetings in Lausanne, Switzerland, so (as I almost always try to do) I came a couple of days before.

I've arrived to Geneva today at 7 am, I did the checking-in at hotel, rest a bit (the flight and 6 hours time difference were killing me), and went around the city.

Tomorrow morning I'll meet some of my colleagues around the world and we will go for some site seeing, then at night we will arrive to the city of Lausanne were we will held the sessions.

On Friday we will come back to (I'm hopping they will take us to know the MSC HQs), and the next weekend I got it free.

I am not sure what will I do over that weekend, probably go to the mountains, or travel to some other European countries (I learned today that France is 5 km from here, and Italy 30).

I will be telling you more one of this days, but now I'm tired and I'm going to sleep.

Best regards to all.