Shortlog - a log of everyday things



First story: I spent a decent portion of yesterday and today installing Windows 7 on kraken to make it a dual-boot machine. This was a longer and more involved process than is ordinarily the case, and one which was made much worse by my big mouth and stubborn attitude.

I'll start off by noting that two posts ago, I said something to the effect of "optical drives are for chumps who don't know how to do USB and netboot installs." So, obviously, when it came time for me to do a Windows 7 install, you can bet what piece of hardware I wasn't going to use.

I should note that two of my housemates offered their SATA optical drives, but I felt obligated not to use them after talking big about how I didn't need one.

Windows 7 can be installed from a variety of bootable media, and in particular, installing from a USB drive is officially supported. You just copy the data from the DVD onto the flash drive, run G:\boot\bootsect.exe /nt60 G: (if G: is the drive letter of the USB drive you just copied things to), and then boot from the USB drive. Magic.

So I used my laptop to rip my properly-purchased Windows 7 Ultimate disc into an iso, and then I scp'd that image to my desktop. It was at this point that I realized that I had left all my flash drives in Berkeley, in addition to all my external hard disk drives. Crap.

I came up with a solution in fairly short order - I have a 16GB microSD card in my Nokia N900 which had no data of importance on it (I was using it to play around with MeeGo). The phone will present itself as a pair of USB disks when hooked up to a computer via USB. So I would use my Linux phone to orchestrate this Windows installation.

Since I refuse to run Windows programs as root in wine (it's just a bad idea), I'd need a Windows install to do that

I have a 32-bit Windows XP virtual machine that runs inside KVM. It is a relic from a different age, and I hadn't used it in a while. I spent three hours bringing it up to date.

I could have used the VM to partition and format the memory card, but it turns out that KVM only supports USB 1.1 for USB passthrough, so that would have been terribly slow. On the upside, ntfsprogs provides mkfs.ntfs, and I'm quite familiar with fdisk by now, so I was able to format my "flash drive" and copy all the files from the DVD image to it at high speed from Linux. Huzzah!

Then, I booted up the VM, tried to run bootsect.exe, and discovered that bit with bootsect.exe from above has another limitation. In particular: the Windows install running bootsect.exe has to be the same bitness as the Windows 7 installer image. That is, if you're using an installer DVD for 64-bit Windows, you'll need to run bootsect.exe from a 64-bit windows install.

I don't have a 64-bit Windows install. But I did have some foresight, some resources, and a lucky guess.

At work, several of us had needed to install Windows 7 Home Premium. Each of our computers had come with a license, but the first thing we did after unboxing them was install Ubuntu on them, so we put the Win7 installs in VMs. To speed along the installs for myself and others, I dropped an iso of both the 32-bit and 64-bit installer discs. So, I ssh'd into my work computer, mounted the 32-bit image loopback, scp'd that bootsect.exe through three intermediaries and into my WinXP VM, and ran it.

It worked.

So I booted the Windows installer from my Linux phone, ran through the install, then ran through the install again (since this was the upgrade disc, but a full license). Many hours later, I had a Windows 7 Ultimate install.

Then I used my laptop to put GNU GRUB on my phone, so I could use it to boot Linux, so I could reinstall GRUB on the master boot record, so I could actually dual-boot. Victory!

Second story: Georges Harik invited all of the IMO employees over to watch the Dallas/Miami basketball game on his 3D TV. He has one of the Samsung 3DTVs and something like 27 pairs of active-shutter glasses.

The effect was pretty neat. It was most appreciable when the 3D presented itself as simply adding depth to the image - no objects in the frame "closer" than the screen itself. When things appeared to float it midair, it just looked weird. The glasses made my eyes kinda tired, and they were a little tight around my skull. Sarah says my head is getting to big again.

Third story: I'm reading Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!. Entertaining.


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Sarah | 2011-06-06T08:58:09.794909

That is one of the funniest books I've ever read!! I love it!

Also, that mouth of yours complicates a lot of things. :P