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Once upon a time I was trying to edit an end of semester group report for a class and I got a little sidetracked. I wanted to install Windows XP in VirtualBox using SATA. Why? Just because. As far as I can tell, there is no appreciable difference between a virtual hard drive attached to a virtual IDE controller versus a virtual SATA controller.

The hitch is that the Windows XP installer doesn’t come with built in SATA drivers for the controller VirtualBox uses, so the installer will tell you that it can’t see a hard drive to install on to. Work around:

  1. Download the Intel drivers and extract the executable (f6flpy32.exe) from the zip file
  2. Download UnZip (choose unz552xN.exe from the list) and run, this will extract a bunch of utilities, the one we want is unzip.exe (you don’t need to use UnZip if you have another program that can get files from within a self-extracting executable)
  3. Open a command prompt Window (preferably using “Run As Administrator”) and navigate to the directory that has both f6flpy32.exe and unzip.exe
  4. Type “unzip f6flpy32.exe” and hit Enter, this will extract the file F32.IMA
  5. Use the Virtual Media Manager in Virtual box to set up F32.IMA as a Floppy Image
  6. Start your Windows XP virtual machine and run the installation CD. When the blue screen prompts you, hit F6 to choose a third party driver.
  7. Choose Devices\Mount Floppy Image\Floppy Image in the VirtualBox windows to mount the image you just set up
  8. When the blue screen prompt you, hit S to find another driver on a floppy, and then Enter.
  9. Four driver options should appear in the list. The second one worked for me, and allowed me to continue with the setup process.

Sources: Intel drivers for SATA and LAN controllersHow to install Windows 2000/XP/2003 guests with SATA supportVista kernel – IDE to SATA conversion VB 1.6.0 & 1.6.2

UPDATE: Once I got XP installed, I also installed the Guest Additions, but the network still wasn’t working, because I had selected the “Intel PRO/1000 MT Desktop” adapter rather than the default AMD adapter. To get this working I found and downloaded the drivers from Intel, and then set up a shared folder and mounted it as a network drive to be able to copy the driver setup file from my Vista host to my XP guest system. Once I ran the Intel driver setup, everything worked great.

Once upon a time it’s starting to get hot where I live, and I want to make my computer automatically hibernate at night and wake up in the morning, in order to reduce power consuption and heat. I need it on during the day, because it acts as a VPN and media server, but at night it gets no use. I only leave it on so that I don’t have to remember to turn it on in the morning, and because my wife leaves applications and documents open that I don’t know if I can close without her getting mad.

I did some looking into the problem and found many articles about how to use Scheduled Tasks to sleep/wake up the machine. But they don’t both work at the same time; they are mutually exclusive. Either you can hibernate the computer automatically and then wake it up manually, or you can wake the computer automatically and hibernate it manually. More specifically, the articles recommended using a scheduled task with the “Wake the computer to run this task” option set, to automatically wake the computer. And they recommended a scheduled task with the command “C:\WINDOWS\system32\rundll32.exe powrprof.dll, SetSuspendState” to automatically send the computer to sleep. However, this sleep approach somehow disables the computer’s ability to automatically wake up the computer because it disables wake events.

I was dissapointed to find this because I wanted a Windows native solution, and because I had already sunk so much time into the effort. But after grieving for awhile, I got over it and found a third party program that works well. Apparently the author of the program felt the same pain that I did and coded it himself. It’s called WakeupOnStandBy. Use it if you need to both automatically wake and and hibernate your computer.

Sources: How To Put the System into hibernation or Standby from Run menuAutomatically wake a hibernating Windows XP machine

UPDATE: I don’t use WakeupOnStandBy anymore. I do this instead:

  1. Go to Power Options in Control Panel and create a power profile called “day_power” that is set to never standby or hibernate, and a power profile called “night_power” that is set to hibernate after 20 minutes.
  2. Create a Scheduled Task called “day_power” with the following options:
    • Schedule: Daily at 8:00AM
    • Other settings: Wake up the computer to run this task
    • Command: C:\WINDOWS\system32\powercfg.exe /S “day_power”
  3. Create a Scheduled Task called “night_power” with the following options:
    • Schedule: Daily at 10:40PM
    • Other settings: Wake up the computer to run this task
    • Command: C:\WINDOWS\system32\powercfg.exe /S “night_power”

decorative_letter_once upon a time I stumbled upon a wonderful program that makes life with Windows XP better. It’s called Junction Link Magic, and it’s wonderful because it lets you create junction points in Windows NTFS partitions, and because it’s free. Junction points are the equivalent of symlinks (symbolic links) in UNIX/Linux, basically hard shortcuts. By hard shortcuts I mean that when you, or the OS, or applications access a symlink of a file or a folder, the shortcutting is invisible and you are none the wiser. The best Windows analogy of this function is My Documents. My Documents displays as its own high level folder, but the actual files are stored somewhere else, usually C:\Documents and Settings\Your_User_Name\My Documents.

Why use junction points? My practical application is that I store a lot of video files on my main PC, most of which are accessed over the network by my Windows Media Center PC, and I am constantly running out of space. My main requirement is that I want to add space (hard drives) but I don’t want to destroy my existing folder hierarchy, because I don’t have the excess space to hold the files while I rebuild/repartition/re-array everything. I wanted something like symlinks so that I could basically add a hard drive, and then graft (mount) that space onto my existing structure. Windows XP does let you mount a new hard drive onto an existing empty NTFS folder using Disk Management, but I found that too inflexible for my needs.

Enter Junction Link Magic (JLM). JLM is just a simple GUI that does for you what you would have to do on the command line otherwise. That is to say, Windows XP can already create junction points, it’s just not fun. So now I add my hard drive, use Disk Management to get it all partitioned, move the folders I want to offload onto the new drive, and then use JLM to graft the folders right back to where they used to be. The OS and applications can’t tell the difference. It’s a flexible solution that works very well for ever expanding video libraries. And they all lived happily ever after. ZZZZZZZ

Once upon a time I went to my wife’s parent’s house for the holidays. While I was there they asked me to have a look at the computer because it was running “weird”. When I looked at it, I discovered that it had no virus protection software, no firewall enabled, and was way behind on updates.

The first thing I did was enable the windows firewall and install avast! antivirus, which I think is pretty good for being free. Avast found and removed lots of spyware. But when I went to get the computer up-to-date, I discovered that XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) would not install. It would get part way through the install and then pop up an “Access is Denied” message, and roll back everything it had done. I tried updating using the built-in updater, the Windows Update site, and the stand alone executable. All failed at the same place.

After googling a bit, I discovered what had probably happened: in order to protect itself, spyware had changed the permissions to the Windows registry. A side effect of that change was that even a user with administrative rights couldn’t install XP SP3.

I found this Microsoft support article that explains how to fix the problem by resetting the permissions on the registry so that XP SP3 can install. I followed the instructions in the Advanced Troubleshooting section to reset the registry and it worked like a charm. After rebooting I was able to install XP SP3 without a hitch, and now the computer is fully updated, and no longer “weird” according to my in-laws. And they lived happily ever after. ZZZZZ