krick: (Default)
2012-06-20 02:30 pm

"Error Loading Operating System" message during XP install on aligned SSD partition

Yesterday, I was trying to find a solution to the problem documented in this thread...

To summarize, for some reason, on some motherboards (mainly Asus), if you attempt to install Windows XP (any flavor) on an SSD with an aligned partition, the XP install will fail on the first reboot with the "Error Loading Operating System" message.

Then, last night, I finally found a fairly easy solution to this problem and I felt that I needed to share in case someone else runs into this issue.

First I installed XP normally and partitioned and formatted using the XP install CD as usual. Note that this will produce an un-aligned partition.

Then I downloaded the gparted live cd iso from here and burned a CD...

...and I followed the instructions I found on this page...

Start up Gparted and find your SSD in the upper-right dropdown menu. Select it, and click on your first partition in the menu. Hit the Resize/Move button in the toolbar. Change the "Free Space Preceding" box to 2MB, uncheck "Round to Cylinders", and hit "Resize/Move". (If you're using a newer live CD, check the "MiB" box). Hit Apply once and let it do its thing.

Now hit Resize/Move again, and change the "Free Space Preceding" box to 1MB. Uncheck "Round to Cylinders" again, hit Resize/Move, then click Apply. Now your drive will be aligned to exactly 2048 blocks after the beginning of the disk, which allows for optimal SSD performance. Note that if you have multiple partitions on your SSD, you'll need to repeat this process for each partition, not just the first one on the disk.

Yes, moving it 2MB away then moving it back 1MB seems like a long, roundabout method, but Gparted measures space in a weird way. When you first start up Gparted, your partition will have less than 1MB of space preceding it, but Gparted will only measure it as 0-meaning if you align it to 1MB right off the bat, it'll keep the drive annoyingly misaligned at 1.03MB. If you set it to 2MB, hit Apply, and then move it back to 1MB, it works fine.

Miscellaneous notes:

The difference in boot time between the original un-aligned install and the new aligned install are shocking.

This procedure is only needed for installing Windows XP. Windows Vista and Windows 7 create aligned partitions by default. XP was released before "aligned partitions" was even a thing.

No re-install of XP is necessary after this procedure.

I have a single partition. When I went to shift the partition back after shifting it 2MB, it showed that I had 3MB at the beginning. I think this was rounding in the display or something. I changed it to 1MB as instructed. Then I re-adjusted the partition size so that there was zero space after the partition. When you shift right, it shrinks the partition, then shifting back will leave space at the end if you don't grow the partition to use the space.

Make sure you have "Round to MiB" selected in the combo box (it replaces the check box in earlier versions of gparted). It should be the default anyway.

There is another procedure for creating aligned partitions that involves booting with a Windows 7 CD and partitioning your drive in the recovery console, then booting with the XP CD and installing as usual. It's detailed on this page...

This method will work for most people, but if you try it and get the "Error Loading Operating System" message, as I did, then the procedure I describe above using gparted is the only way that I know to align your partition.
krick: (Default)
2012-06-13 01:37 pm

I've been playing the same game of Civilization II for almost 10 years. This is the result.

Posted on Reddit at the link above...

I've been playing the same game of Civ II for 10 years. Though long outdated, I grew fascinated with this particular game because by the time Civ III was released, I was already well into the distant future. I then thought that it might be interesting to see just how far into the future I could get and see what the ramifications would be. Naturally I play other games and have a life, but I often return to this game when I'm not doing anything and carry on. The results are as follows.

The world is a hellish nightmare of suffering and devastation.

There are 3 remaining super nations in the year 3991 A.D, each competing for the scant resources left on the planet after dozens of nuclear wars have rendered vast swaths of the world uninhabitable wastelands.

-The ice caps have melted over 20 times (somehow) due primarily to the many nuclear wars. As a result, every inch of land in the world that isn't a mountain is inundated swamp land, useless to farming. Most of which is irradiated anyway.

-As a result, big cities are a thing of the distant past. Roughly 90% of the worlds population (at it's peak 2000 years ago) has died either from nuclear annihilation or famine caused by the global warming that has left absolutely zero arable land to farm. Engineers (late game worker units) are always busy continuously building roads so that new armies can reach the front lines. Roads that are destroyed the very next turn when the enemy goes. So there isn't any time to clear swamps or clean up the nuclear fallout.

-Only 3 super massive nations are left. The Celts (me), The Vikings, And the Americans. Between the three of us, we have conquered all the other nations that have ever existed and assimilated them into our respective empires.

-You've heard of the 100 year war? Try the 1700 year war. The three remaining nations have been locked in an eternal death struggle for almost 2000 years. Peace seems to be impossible. Every time a cease fire is signed, the Vikings will surprise attack me or the Americans the very next turn, often with nuclear weapons. Even when the U.N forces a peace treaty. So I can only assume that peace will come only when they're wiped out. It is this that perpetuates the war ad infinitum. Have any of you old Civ II players out there ever had this problem in the post-late game?

-Because of SDI, ICBMS are usually only used against armies outside of cities. Instead, cities are constantly attacked by spies who plant nuclear devices which then detonate (something I greatly miss from later civ games). Usually the down side to this is that every nation in the world declares war on you. But this is already the case so its no longer a deterrent to anyone. My self included.

-The only governments left are two theocracies and myself, a communist state. I wanted to stay a democracy, but the Senate would always over-rule me when I wanted to declare war before the Vikings did. This would delay my attack and render my turn and often my plans useless. And of course the Vikings would then break the cease fire like clockwork the very next turn. Something I also miss in later civ games is a little internal politics. Anyway, I was forced to do away with democracy roughly a thousand years ago because it was endangering my empire. But of course the people hate me now and every few years since then, there are massive guerrilla (late game barbarians) uprisings in the heart of my empire that I have to deal with which saps resources from the war effort.

-The military stalemate is air tight. The post-late game in civ II is perfectly balanced because all remaining nations already have all the technologies so there is no advantage. And there are so many units at once on the map that you could lose 20 tank units and not have your lines dented because you have a constant stream moving to the front. This also means that cities are not only tiny towns full of starving people, but that you can never improve the city. "So you want a granary so you can eat? Sorry; I have to build another tank instead. Maybe next time."

-My goal for the next few years is to try and end the war and thus use the engineers to clear swamps and fallout so that farming may resume. I want to rebuild the world. But I'm not sure how. If any of you old Civ II players have any advice, I'm listening.

Edit: -Wow guys. Thanks for all your support. I had no idea this post would get this kind of response. -I'll be sure to keep you guys updated on my efforts. Whether here on Reddit, or a blog, or both. -Turns out a whole subreddit has been dedicated to ending this war. It's at
krick: (Default)
2012-03-10 12:50 pm
krick: (Default)
2011-12-12 08:55 am
krick: (Default)
2011-09-16 12:17 pm

Star Wars Toys That You Don't Have

I know these are old, but they're still funny.

krick: (Default)
2011-01-18 08:29 pm
Entry tags:

Wizard Rock (WROCK) CDs

Oliver Boyd and the Remembralls

Moaning Myrtles / Lauren Fairweather

Ministry of Magic

The Butterbeer Experience / Lena Gabrielle

The Parselmouths

The Blibbering Humdingers / Efenwealt Wystle / Mistress Rosalind Jehanne
krick: (Default)
2010-03-20 01:40 pm

SSD Partition Alignment

I just got some new toys. I picked up a pair of Intel X25-V 40GB SSD (Solid State Drives). SSD drives are basically the same type of flash memory that you use in your digital camera. The plan is to use them (in two different computers) to hold the operating system and applications. With an SSD, Windows launches in seconds and applications start up immediately. They use very little electricity and there are no moving parts so they generate no heat or noise. The drawback is that they're expensive (compared to conventional hard drives) and require special "handling". One of the things you need to do when you install one is called partition alignment. Windows Vista and Windows 7 align partitions correctly by default if you do a clean install on an un-partitioned drive. However XP (which I use) does not. I found this useful post from someone in the Intel forums...

To check alignment, run this command from a command line (Start, type "cmd" into the search box):
wmic partition get BlockSize, StartingOffset, Name, Index

This is what an unaligned partition looks like. Mine is a leftover from XP days, upgraded to Vista and then again to 7:
BlockSize  Index  Name                   StartingOffset
512        0      Disk #0, Partition #0  32256

That's a 63 sector offset. What were they thinking?

An aligned partition created by Vista / 7 will have an offset of 2048 blocks, which will look like this:
BlockSize  Index  Name                   StartingOffset
512        0      Disk #0, Partition #0  1048576

Running an SSD unaligned is throwing performance away. Your SSD "thinks" in 4k flash "pages". If you're mis-aligned, filesystem clusters span across flash pages, which means a very real performance hit.
krick: (beanish)
2009-08-24 07:53 pm

Name this tune

I have an old cassette recording from when I was about 12 years old (1982-ish) of an early Doug E. Fresh tune and I would love to track down a good copy. I don't know the name of the song, but here's some of the lyrics. Please help me figure it out...

I'm the human beatbox known as Doug Fresh,
and I'm - known for more and not for less,
See, my rhymes are good as gold in a treasure chest,
and the way I rock people think I'm blessed,
And if by now you haven't guessed,
I'm the human beatbox soloist,
So fresh the ladies can't resist,
and they love it when I just go like this...........

UPDATE: I found it...

Dougy Fresh - The Original Human Beat Box - 1984

krick: (Default)
2009-08-15 02:51 pm

How Healthcare Killed His Father

Here's a great article about the American health care system. It identifies the root problems that exist in our current system and why the proposed "reform" isn't really addressing any of them. Personally, I'm for health care reform. It's obvious that the current system is broken and unsustainable, but if we don't address the fundamental problems in the system, passing health care reform is just flushing money down the toilet.

A taste:

Accidentally, but relentlessly, America has built a health-care system with incentives that inexorably generate terrible and perverse results. Incentives that emphasize health care over any other aspect of health and well-being. That emphasize treatment over prevention. That disguise true costs. That favor complexity, and discourage transparent competition based on price or quality. That result in a generational pyramid scheme rather than sustainable financing. And that—most important—remove consumers from our irreplaceable role as the ultimate ensurer of value.

From later in the article:

Health insurance is different from every other type of insurance. Health insurance is the primary payment mechanism not just for expenses that are unexpected and large, but for nearly all health-care expenses. We’ve become so used to health insurance that we don’t realize how absurd that is. We can’t imagine paying for gas with our auto-insurance policy, or for our electric bills with our homeowners insurance, but we all assume that our regular checkups and dental cleanings will be covered at least partially by insurance.

Comprehensive health insurance is such an ingrained element of our thinking, we forget that its rise to dominance is relatively recent. Modern group health insurance was introduced in 1929, and employer-based insurance began to blossom during World War II, when wage freezes prompted employers to expand other benefits as a way of attracting workers. Still, as late as 1954, only a minority of Americans had health insurance. That’s when Congress passed a law making employer contributions to employee health plans tax-deductible without making the resulting benefits taxable to employees. This seemingly minor tax benefit not only encouraged the spread of catastrophic insurance, but had the accidental effect of making employer-funded health insurance the most affordable option (after taxes) for financing pretty much any type of health care. There was nothing natural or inevitable about the way our system developed: employer-based, comprehensive insurance crowded out alternative methods of paying for health-care expenses only because of a poorly considered tax benefit passed half a century ago.

In designing Medicare and Medicaid in 1965, the government essentially adopted this comprehensive-insurance model for its own spending, and by the next year had enrolled nearly 12% of the population. And it is no coinci­dence that the great inflation in health-care costs began soon after. We all believe we need comprehensive health insurance because the cost of care—even routine care—appears too high to bear on our own. But the use of insurance to fund virtually all care is itself a major cause of health care’s high expense.
krick: (beanish)
2009-07-26 02:14 am