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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.

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Business I.T. for a small startup .

If you want to start up a home based small business or work from home, you may be wondering what IT you need to get going and how far you need to go.

What does your business need to work?

1: internet
2: computer
3: telephony
4: Printing

What do you need to make it work?

1: Network
2: Electricity

What do you need to keep working?

1: Backups.

This may not apply completely to you but for me (and many other people I know in small business), this is what you need, both at home and out on the road. You may have some other requirements as well but these few things will cover most of your needs.

There are many ways to get these things, many options based on needs, location and resources. If you think about them before signing up to anything, you will be better off in the long run.

This is what I have for my business. I can (and do) work from home (home office, kitchen, living room etc), from my car, from other people’s offices and even from a boat while fishing (if I am really lucky).

Internet: A good internet connection is vital in this day and age, especially for an IT consultant. At home I have an ADSL 2+ connection with Annex M (faster upload speed) and about 14mbps of bandwidth. I have a static IP address on the internet so I can always get back into my home PC from outside. There are advantages to having a static IP as well as disadvantages, most users wont need one. When on the road, I have a 3G SIM card built into my laptop for internet access from anywhere with mobile coverage as well as a 3G USB stick with a different carrier as a backup (I can also use my mobile phone as a modem via bluetooth if required). I dont recommend using 3G cards all the time, if you need internet at home, a permanent ADSL or cable connection will be much cheaper, faster and more reliable. If you want service, support and the best stability, sign up for a business plan (usually a bit more expensive), business support tends to be much better. Run your email in the cloud, eg start with free Gmail and use the free 2GB version of Dropbox as a centralised repository for files.

Computer: Get whatever you need, laptops are portable but less upgradable, fixable and powerful. I have a desktop at home that is permanently on as well as a laptop that is my primary workstation. If you are at a desk a lot, get a docking station for your laptop and get a large screen to go with it, even two if you have the space (dual screens is great), and full size keyboard and mouse. Dont cramp yourself in close to a laptop if you dont need to. Business grade laptops will have docking station options, consumer grade laptops dont. If you are using it for business (ie long periods of time), get a business grade laptop (eg HP Probook/Elitebook, Dell Latitude, Lenovo T Series etc), they have better warranties and are designed to run for long periods without overheating. Mac laptops do not have docking stations available.

Telephony: Obviously start with a mobile phone, get one that does email well (proper smartphone). If you use it a lot, either get a car charger for it and/or carry a second battery. A heavily utilised smartphone can struggle to make it through a day on a charge. Get yourself a bluetooth headset for use in the car or while at a computer. I have a Nokia E72 with a BlueAnt headset which both work very well. When at my desk, I have a standard desk phone to make calls on rather than use my mobile. I dont recommend getting extra phone lines, just get a VoIP service and handset and plug it into your internet connection. I am paying around $200/yr for two VoIP lines and two numbers with 100 untimed calls to fixed lines and 100 minutes of calls to mobiles per month. Any voicemails to my VoIP landlines are forwarded to me via email (and received on my mobile phone).

Printing: Some people need printing more than others. Dont waste time and money on inkjets for business use, get a cheap black and white laser printer. I got mine on Graysonline for about $50 and 3×8000 page toner cartridges for about $100 and 3 drum cartridges for $60. Enough for my printing needs for well over 12 months.

Network: Spend a little bit extra and get a Gigabit network. A small network may just be an ADSL router with 4 network ports. This is all you need to get going, they come with wireless as well. If you use wireless, make sure you set the security up. Gigabit is very fast and will make all the difference if you have a network attached storage device (NAS) for backups.

Electricity: Get a UPS to protect your IT investment and also to keep you able to work if the power goes out (for a while). The more you need to run the bigger the UPS needs to be, I have a 1500VA UPS tht can run my desktop, phones, internet and network for nearly two hours.

Backups: You cannot have too much. I operate my business files and email in the cloud but regularly backup copies locally. All local file are backed up to a NAS regularly and anything on the NAS only (it serves media to my Home Theatre PC as well) is backed up to a dedicated 2000GB drive in my desktop. Vital items such as photos of the kids are regularly burn to DVD as well as having a copy on a portable hard drive that stays with me when I am out on the road. Important sensitive or personal information on portable media should be encrypted with TrueCrypt.

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