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Windows 10 upgrade fails with 0xC1900101-0x40017

Windows 10 is great, it really is. It is a much better OS than Window 8 or 8.1. Take advantage of the free upgrade while you can.

That said, there are sometimes issues with the upgrade. I am seeing most issues with the upgrade process when a machine has been in use for a long time but there are some machines that wont even upgrade after a complete fresh build.

A web search for the 0xC1900101-0x40017 error brings up lots of issues, lots of people see this problem but the solutions are a bit hit and miss. I saw this issue with an HP Elitebook 840 G1 that was 12m old. Rather than upgrade in place, I decided to upgrade the SSD first then install fresh from the HP OEM 8.1 disc then upgrade to Windows 10. This failed every time with the 0xC1900101-0x40017 error. I tried secure boot on and off, legacy boot, UEFI with and without CSM, upgrading from Disc, upgrading from USB, upgrading from mounted ISO and via Windows update as well as BIOS updates but the upgrade to Windows 10 failed every time.

I decided it was a driver error so upgraded all the drivers before the upgrade, still no go. sfc /scannow was run and found no issues (fresh install on new SSD). About to give up, I thought I would try to install the Windows 10 drivers on Windows 8.1 BEFORE trying to upgrade. I downloaded them all from HP and installed them all on Windows 8.1. THe only one that didnt like it was the Synaptics Touchpad driver, the rest installed without issue. During the Windows 10 upgrade (from a USB stick created with the Windows 10 Media Creation tool) I told it NOT to download updates before the install. I suspected that one of the updates being downloaded was a faulty driver for a device in the 840. Finally the upgrade went through and the machine activated with Windows 10. I may now go back and do a fresh install but it is clean anyway so probably wont bother. Luckily it was not a client PC, however it was my wife’s so was probably more important.

Hopefully this helps someone else with the same unbelievably frustrating issue. I literally tried over 10 times to get the upgrade to install.

Posted in: Business, Free Software
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Windows 8, should you?

While it has been a while since I posted anything (I have been busy), I just wanted to reflect on my experiences with the latest Microsoft operating system, Windows 8 (and 8.1). I am not going to go into great detail, there are plenty of in depth reviews on the net, I am just going to quickly run through my likes and dislikes.

Firstly, if you are thinking about installing this on an older computer, check the manufacturer for Windows 8 specific hardware drivers first and if they dont exist, save yourself the hassle and dont install Windows 8.

As soon as I could get my hands on Windows 8 (through my soon to be removed Technet subscription), I upgraded my laptop. Big mistake. My Dell Precision M4500 was a bad choice to upgrade to (I have since wiped it and gone back to Windows 7). Apart from the Metro screen being a bit painful without a touch screen, much of the hardware did not have Windows 8 drivers and the resulting stability issues were difficult to deal with. I installed Classic Shell to bring back the old menus which, in my opinion, work far better with a mouse and keyboard. Eventually I gave up on my Dell.

I decided that I needed to get a touch screen device to really work with Windows 8 and bought an ex-demo HP Elitepad 900 G1 for a few hundred dollars to work with. This works very well for most things (it is not the quickest device but it is small, light, and it works). Metro is fine for the average end user who is just going to read email, browse the web, play a few games and listen to music but for a power user, it is hopeless. I keep having to go back to the desktop to do any actual work and the metro screen cant hold enough links on one screen for my liking. Microsoft should really branch Windows or default to a proper Desktop interface for the business/Pro focussed versions. The metro apps Windows ships with are not particularly great, but luckily there are plenty of options. Forcing Windows 8.1 users to log in to their computer with a Microsoft ID is just wrong, why does MS need to know everything you do on your PC?

An annoying quirk is not being able to easily manage wireless networks. I found this out when a client called me asking what their wireless key was and I just wanted to grab it from my saved connections. You can’t, now you need to use the command line or a third party app.

Personally I dont recommend it for business use but for home users, it is fine as long as you have a touch screen. If you dont, stick with Windows 7. It is no surprise that HP ships all its business computers with Windows 7 still….

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Workstation Ergonomics

I am no expert in Workstation Ergonomics, this is just my recent experience. If you want or need ergonomic advice for your workstation, find a professional and do what they say. No-one is immune from this.

While I have been working in I.T. for over 12 years, I also spent a number of years before then, in front of a computer for most of my business/study hours and a good portion of my recreation time. Over the years I have experienced a number of symptoms of bad Workstation ergonomics, computer setup and general life.

The first indication that I was not looking after myself in front of a PC began with wrist pain where my wrist was rubbing on the desk with mouse use. This turns out to be a common problem, easily solved with a gel wrist rest.

The next ergonomic issue was pain under my elbow. It turns out that using my mouse right handed with a desk with a left hand return meant I was supporting my elbow by turning my arm so the elbow didnt bend due to gravity putting long term strain on the ligaments. Problem solved by changing to a desk with a right hand return and resting my forearm on the return to use the mouse.

Lower back pain followed, a combination of bad workstation ergonomics, extended periods of sitting, poor posture, lack of regular exercise and cheap seats. I now have a Therapod ergonomic chair, get out of the chair regularly (set a timer on your computer), try to sit up straight and I walk a lot (walking is the best thing you can do for lower back pain). Use a foot rest to keep the right angles on your hips, make sure the seat height is right for shoulder and elbow angles.

The latest ergonomic issues directly related to working with a computer are bad neck posture. I didnt realise but I was holding my head forward when in front of the PC putting a lot of strain on my neck. My monitor was too low and as my second monitor was my laptop screen, I was twisting my neck a lot to look at the second screen as well as looking down too much. Talking with my physiotherapist has made it clear that dual monitors can be a major ergonomic issue for necks. The recommendation for dual monitors is to swivel the chair, not your head and if using the second screen for any period of time, move the keyboard and mouse to suit at the same time. I have now purchased a dual monitor stand to keep my screens at the right height and close together. My secondary screen is in portrait mode which discourages me from using it for general use but makes it a lot more comfortable reading documents. If you have high resolution screens (most widescreen monitors are now “full HD” or 1920×1080 pixels), make sure they are not too far away to read small text or you will move your head closer to compensate. The downside is that once they are close enough to read comfortably, make sure you rest your eyes regularly by looking to the distance every few minutes or your eyes may deteriorate. Dont get glossy screens for anything, they look very pretty but glare, especially from flourescent office lighting can be really bad. Unfortunately I left a lot of this too late. I always had matte screens, and rest my eyes regularly but with my bad neck posture, I now have a bulging disc in my neck pushing into my spinal column. Thankfully it is not bad and will be able to be sorted with regular (rest of my life) stretching and exercises but the pain when it flared up was unbearable. Do yourself a favour, get your workstation set up right and watch your neck posture, prevention in this case is infintely better than having to find the cure.

Update March 2014:
Now I stand! That’s right, now I have a standing height workstation. It takes a bit of getting used to and you need good shoes and anti-fatigue mats to stop getting sore feet. Weight has dropped, posture is better and I move around a lot more during the day. If you have the space, try it out.

Posted in: Business
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Don’t neglect your software updates!

While it seems that PC’s and Mac’s seem to require patches and updates very regularly, don’t become complacent. Updates are provided free and automatically for a reason. A recent study of Windows Malware infections showed that most exploits target patched security vulnerabilities and (somewhat surprisingly if you believe everything on the internet) most of these are not actually Microsoft’s doing. The most likely entry points for malware into your system (in descending order) are flaws in Java, Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash Player and MS Internet Explorer. Only one of those is Windows only…

Java installs an automatic update notification when it is installed, run these updates!

Adobe runs automatic update checks as well for Reader and Flash, install these updates! One word of caution though for businesses with a caching proxy server, beware of the Adobe Updater fundamental coding flaw that Adobe won’t acknowledge. Adobe Updater is very impatient, if it does not start receiving its update within 15 seconds, it will request it again. If you have a caching proxy server (running Anti Virus checks on downloaded files for example), make sure the Adobe update sites are either blocked (install updates manually for the business) or exempt from scanning or it can burn your internet bandwidth very quickly (until you stop it). All Adobe needs to do is check for a proxy server in the internet settings and if there is one, extend the timeout. They haven’t yet.

Finally, dont use Internet Explorer unless you have to. Microsoft Cloud Service web interfaces such as Sharepoint work best with Internet Explorer and some systems management tools with web interfaces require it due to custom Active-X controls (Blackberry Server Express for example). A better alternative is to use Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome and for even more protection in Firefox, install the “NoScript” plugin.

Finally, make sure you patch Windows and Mac’s all the time. It is pretty rare these days that patches break things but it does still happen from time to time. In a business environment, make sure you test updates properly before deployment. Home users should do a web search on the updates to see if people are reporting problems.

UPDATE: February 5th 2012.
I should have mentioned to make sure you keep your website back-end up to date if you use a content management system (or even just a database). There are many vulnerabilities in every CMS, they are usually patched quickly but if you dont apply the patches, you will become the victim of an automated hack. A client recently had their website hacked, fortunately it was a relatively benign, albeit alarming hack. The vulnerability was traced to a very old version of WordPress that was not even being used that was installed in a subfolder on the website and had been forgotten about. The hack installed a small shell onto the web server which give full control of the whole site, not just the old WordPress blog. Their main blog was up to date. Plugins are also likely points of entry into your web site, keep them up to date as well.

Posted in: Free Software, Security
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