Vista Challenges#

So I'm writing this blog entry from Phillip, the now Vista Build 5308 computer.

The Glass interface is very addictive - its all those little things that make the computing experience better. The quality of the type face, the simplicity of the default window appearance, it all lends itself to a better computing experience.

You get a real sense that things are different in Vista, although the changes are subtle for the most part.

I think the most interesting experiences so far have been the failures - and really, the only place I think I've had problems is around the video driver.

I realized the problem the first morning after installing Vista (call it the morning after hang over if you must... "what did I DO?"). The screen was blank, which isn't surprising, I'd turned on the blank screen screensaver. So I hit a shift key and things started twitching.

At first I thought the machine was hung. Then the display lit up showing the "machine locked" screen. Which is reasonable, that's how I configured the screen saver.

Then I thought the keyboard was hung, but the NumLock key seemed to work. And the mouse appeared to function fine, but clicking on things did nothing.

The screen went blank again, and when it came back, the accessibility controls were up.

It took me awhile to figure out what was going on - it seemed that the machine would freeze for several seconds, then do every keypress and mouse click that I tried.

And the repeated tapping of Shift and NumLock had triggered the accessibility stuff, which looks really cool in Vista.

Finally I clued in: what was actually happening was that the video drivers were repeatedly dying, and Vista was restarting them over and over again. Hence the constantly blank screens.

So, very slowly, one click at a time, I rebooted the machine. And everything came back to normal.

It wasn't until the next day that I figured out it wasn't the screen saver doing this, but rather Vista's default behaviour of sending the machine to sleep after an hour. Likely the ATI display driver doesn't recover properly from sleep.

So I've disabled sleep mode. Hopefully that will solve that.

Next up, DivX. For some reason, DivX just doesn't work on this machine, not in its own player or in Media Player. I've found blog entries where people said this was no problem, but its a problem for me, and an annoying one at that. Audio works, but video doesn't.

Sunday, March 26, 2006 1:21:46 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [3]  | 


Sunday, March 26, 2006 3:00:23 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Frankly, I'm jealous of anyone who has a "spare" machine that powerful just lying around, Richard. :)

A (kind of touchy) question. As someone who gets a thumbed-nose from Apple-fanatic friends, I would love to know what Vista offers that OSX doesn't already have. I often see posts online about how Vista is "too little, too late" compared to OSX. Can you outline some of the things that maybe would be new or improved to an Apple user?
Tuesday, June 27, 2006 12:56:57 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Well, it's been a month. How's the Vista Experience going?
Thursday, December 7, 2006 12:29:07 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Well... I did it. I installed Vista RTM on my IBM T43. I definitely concur! The Aero fit and finish is sweet!

And I find that almost all of my apps work (occasionally with compatible-mode tweaks). My main frustration is with MaxiVista ( Since you are a serious tech toy geek, you probably already know about MaxiVista, but this sweet utility expands your desktop across multiple monitors... across multiple machines!!! Use all those displays and video cards to make one huge mondo desktop. Or use it as a software-only KVM. Either way. And it doesn't work in Vista due to the new driver model. Aaargh!

If you care, see my rant at!F480D16FE93F33AB!136.entry
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