Category Archives: Rants

SSD Upgrade on my Windows Box

I have a Windows 10 box that I used for Windows development. I generally use Microsoft Remote Desktop to remote into it from my main development machine (a Mac Pro). The windows box is running a 6-core AMD FX6300, with 8 gigs of RAM and a 1TB HDD. It is dog slow, but it does the job.

I’m in the process of trying to build CEF (Chromium Embedded Framework) from source. It has been a difficult process on every platform, but I saved Windows to the last. The build instructions are involved, and it takes hours of compiling and downloads before you hit an error message, so it can take some time to get it right. So far I’ve been working on the Windows build for about 2 weeks (!!).

All of my attempts so far have failed with strange errors that even Google doesn’t know what to do with. My next strategy is to try out this docker repo set up for the CefSharp project.

The requirements for building CEF with this are staggaring:

At least 20GB of ram dedicated to this would recommend 30GB total with page file to make sure you don’t run out (older builds like 63 were 32GB with 40GB total). You can have any amount of that 20/30GB as a page file, just beware the less actual ram the much slower linking will be.

My 8gigs of RAM totally would not be up to the task.


So I went on Amazon and bought 16 gigs of RAM, to top my box up to 24 gigs, and I picked up a 1TB SSD. I have long been frustrated by how slow this computer is, and I have the same class of CPU (FX6100) running on UBUNTU and it runs lightning fast. So I’m guessing that the hard drive is the bottleneck.

Physical installation was no problem for both RAM and SSD. All I needed to do was to clone my old HDD onto the new SSD. I thought this was a formality, and surely Windows would have a built-in tool to do this like Mac and Linux do. Boy was I wrong!

Windows doesn’t seem to have a built-in way to clone a drive. You need to download a third party tool. A google search contains many suggestions for such tools, but many were out of date – pointing to software that used to be free, but now is not free.

I added “Open Source” to my search queries to try to find some open source solutions, and found a few – all of which were linux apps, which you were directed to install onto a USB flash drive to boot your computer with.

I created such a boot flash drive with Tux bootloader (which uses CloneZilla), but was unable to get my computer to boot to it. It took a while to get into the BIOS at all as none of the BIOS keys I tried seemed to work. Turned out I needed to connect my PS/2 keyboard in order to access the BIOS – USB keyboard won’t work.

Finally, after a lot of futzing around, I found AOMEI Backupper which seems to clone disks in its free version. It’s running right now as I type, and it had a pretty straight forward interface.

I still find it mind boggling that Windows doesn’t include this functionality with a built-in tool.

iTunes DRM Begone!

My storage room is filled with boxes of CD jewel cases with all of the music I purchased before the digital revolution. At a certain point, it just became easier to just buy music digitally. In fact, In many cases I repurchased music digitally because I didn’t want to be bothered digging through boxes to find my CD version. Unfortunately, much of that music was purchased on iTunes, and Apple frequently decides to not let me listen to the music I purchased from them.

Let me illustrate by recounting my Tuesday experience.

It was the first snow of the year, so I decided to do some coding in my front room so I could look out the front window and enjoy the view. One last thing to make the moment perfect: Music.

So I open up iTunes and browse through my library until I find a song. I press “play” on the song, only to be greeted by a login dialog. I enter my apple ID and password and it informs me that I have already authorized 5 out of 5 computers for listening to this song. Well, that’s inconvenient. I have no idea which computers I have authorized, so, after some Google searching, it seems I need to deauthorize all of my computers. I log into my apple account and find the button I need to click to deauthorize all my computers, then I start again.

I return to the song that I want to play, and am greeted with a login dialog again. This time, after typing in my password, it informs me that I have authorized 1 out of 5 computers for this song. And then… nothing happens.

So I click the song again. It again pops up with login dialog, so I enter my username and password again. And…. nothing happens.

Rinse and repeat a few times – each time accompanying the login with louder and more creative profanity. Log out of iTunes. Log in….

Still cannot play this song. For the love of God! This was just supposed to be ambiance, and now it has derailed my day.

I go and try to play the song on my other computer where it used to work.. And, of course, it no longer works because of the deauthorization I initiated a few steps before. But I have now authorized the song on two computers – whatever that means – it obviously doesn’t mean I can play the songs.

Then a small breakthrough. I notice that one of the login dialogs is prompting me to sign in with my old university email address (which I amalgamated into my new email address about 8 years ago). When I logged in with that old address, it required me to again authorize it. But that appears to be under a different accounting system than my new address, because it insisted that the song had been authorized on 5 of 5 computers.

So I follow the same deauthorization procedure with my old address and start again.

I go back to the song and try to play it. I fill in the login dialog (with my old email address), and it informs me that I have authorized one out of 5 computers. And then…. it plays!

Yay! Clearly this is some computer glitch in Apple’s system with respect to my email addresses. The old address was supposed to cease existence when I switched it those many years ago. And it appears to be linked in some ways (e.g. It works with the new password that I set on my new address recently — so the password is linked), but my music authorization doesn’t work.

So problem solved right?

Actually, now, for some reason, I need to log in to play every single song I’ve ever purchased from Apple. One might think I just need to login once, and everything would work. But no, I need to login each time I want to play a song. In many cases I need to use my old email address to play the some. In some cases I need to use my new address, and in another bunch of cases, I still can’t play the song at all.

I’ve spent time with Apple support in the past (years ago), and never really found a solution. Since this is just ambiance, I’m reluctant to waste a day going through those steps again.

All I can do is:

  1. Never purchase another digital product from Apple again. It’s too risky.
  2. Find the CD copy in my storage room, and rip that onto my computer.

One funny thing about this incident, is that when time came to vent to my wife later, it turned out that she had a similar experience that same day where 2 songs had just been “removed” from her library for no apparent reason (songs she had purchased!!). They’re gone. Hmmm

If a Drive Dies Once, It’s a Dud

Purchased an iMac from Best Buy in 2011. A few months later it wouldn’t boot up due to a problem with the hard drive. Took it to the Mac store, and their solution was to reformat the drive. After the format, their diagnostic tests said that the drive was “A OK”.

Rewind 15 years. In another lifetime I was a computer tech support agent for a major computer company. We would regularly receive calls from people whose hard drives had crashed. Our standard procedure was to first try and reformat their drive and let them go. This might buy them a day, a week, or even a few years. But inevitably they would be calling tech support again with a dead drive. It was predictable.

So now that I was faced with this situation on my own computer, my instincts jumped to the forefront and screamed at me that “this is a bad drive… they need to replace it”. I urged them to replace it, but they refused, saying that there was nothing wrong with the drive. If I wanted a different drive, I would have to buy it. Warranty wouldn’t cover it.

I pushed just shy of making a scene.

I should have made a scene.

I have now suffered through 5 years of a computer that has always seemed to be a little slower than it should be. And the drive has died. Of course, outside the warranty.

Now, I’m purchasing a new drive and going through a few days of lowered productivity because I didn’t make enough of a scene in the Apple store that day.

If the drive dies in the first year for any reason, it’s a dud. Don’t fall for the “reformat and it’s fine trick”. It’s not fine.