Sony Vaio VGN-AR41S Motion Eye Driver for Windows 7 64bit

This is the latest post for you guys who like me own a Sony Vaio VGN-AR41S and want to upgrade to Win 7. Its taken me a while, but quite by chance I’ve managed to find a driver that will work with the built in web cam – Sony call it a Motion Eye, but its really a Ricoh device.

I got this driver from the Sony Vaio VGN-AR51S driver pack, but I’ve put it up here for you to download. I’ve only tested this with 64Bit, but as far as I know it should work with 32bit well enough.

here is the link: http://cid-d53719d869fb8243.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Public/Camera%20Driver%20^5Ricoh^6%206^2209G%20-%206.1005.209.0^_logo.rar

How to enable hardware virtualization for a Sony Vaio VGN-AR41S?

I’ve written this post for those of you, who like Me, own a Sony Vaio VGN-AR41S, and want run Windows XP Mode in Windows 7, or want to enable the Hyper-V profile in Windows 2008 Server.

The problem:

Sony (who at this stage you might want to throttle) sell Sony Vaio Notebooks that have only the most basic of BIOS options. In the BIOS user interface there is NOTHING about hardware virtualization, and  when you buy the notebook its turned off. Although the hardware you’ve bought does support hardware assisted virtualization, Sony decided they would turn it off for you, and not give you an easy way to turn back on.

The good news:

You can manually edit the BIOS yourself to fix this issue. I did this today, after hours of crawling the web, I decided to write this post to save you the time.

The not so good news:

I’ll tell you exactly what to do step by step, but you’re going to need a bit of a strong stomach to pull this off. If you aren’t 100% sure on what to do, ask a friend who is more tech savvy than you to assist in this process.

So without further delay here you go:

STEP 1 – The plan

Here is a basic outline of the plan.

  1. Create a bootable Windows 98 USB stick
  2. Boot from this disk
  3. Run a program to extract the BIOS settings into a TXT file (with .sav extension)
  4. change 1 value in this text file ( I’ll tell you which)
  5. Run a program to save values in TXT file back to BIOS
  6. Reboot

Disclaimer: I will not be held liable for your actions should you decide to update your system using this method. I did my research, and eventually found a way that works. I present this info to you, and I suggest you read everything carefully before starting the process. Be aware that you stand a chance of not having a bootable computer should anything go wrong.

Step 2 – The boot disk (USB Stick)

This is perhaps the most difficult part of the whole process, but don’t worry here is a step by step guide. You will need a USB Stick (Flash)

  1. Click this link http://files.extremeoverclocking.com/file.php?f=197 and download and install HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool
  2. Get the Windows 98 system boot here http://files.extremeoverclocking.com/file.php?f=196
  3. Extract the Windows 98 System files to a local folder of your choice  [c language=”:win98sysfiles”][/c][/c]
  4. Start the HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool and follow these instructions here: http://www.bay-wolf.com/usbmemstick.htm
  5. Once that’s done congrats, now we’re going to download this app : ftp://ftp.supermicro.com/utility/Phoenix_bios_utility/SYMCMOS.EXE
  6. Copy it to the USB Stick
  7. You need to also know your BIOS version, you can get this in the BIOS on the main page (just hit f2 when the system is booting). Either your BIOS version will be 1 of these : R0030J8 or R0032J8 depending on if you installed this update here from Sony.
  8. Reboot into Windows 98. If you need to, you might have to go into the BIOS using F2, and check if your boot sequence is correct, make sure you’re booting from the USB stick.
  9. Run this command: symcmos -v2 -lcmos.sav (You’ll see some quick writing on the screen)
  10. Unplug the USB Device and reboot back into Windows.
  11. In Windows – open up the file in notepad called CMOS.sav – it is located on the removable drive.
  12. Modify the register from 0000 to 0001 on the following place (dependent of the BIOS version)

R0030J8 =  register 027F
R0032J8 =  register 0282

13. Save the CMOS.sav file

14. Reboot back into Windows 98

15 execute this command:  symcmos -v2 -ucmos.sav

16.Cold Reboot the systeem and virtualization should be on.

More info can be found here: http://blog.steelooper.com/2009/07/enabling-virtualization-on-sony-vaio.html

PDA vs Netbook vs Smart Phone vs Laptop

This post is from my own personal experience, I don’t have unlimited funding for PC equipment, and I was investigating a solution that is practical for work outside of the typical office environment.

My need was simple: “I need a mobile computer, something I can carry around, take to a few meetings, and take some notes using MS Word, Excel. Have access to web while on the move. A nice to have would be the ability to take photos of board meeting notes.

I originally thought – “Great, I know what I need a PDA”. Yeah, till I saw the prices. PDA might be a great idea, but “Why should I pay through the nose for it!!!” After all its a smaller device than a laptop. PDA’s are not a new concept, surely the manufacturing costs should be cheap-ish. Why could I not find a really cheap budget PDA?

I then decided – “I know I’ll find a cheap netbook”. Netbooks are better priced than PDAs in terms of value for money / functionality. I did manage to find a few decent little netbooks, but I still was left wondering if perhaps the laptop / notebook wasn’t still better overall value for money.

Laptops were just a little bit more expensive, but they did provide the richest computing experience and even the cheaper laptops are starting to come out with 3GB’s of RAM, a semi decent display card, and ample HDD space.

So in the end I was left wondering if these bespoke little gadgets (PDAs and Netbooks) are perhaps not really a great solution for the average man on a budget. I weighed up all the pros and cons, and I’m now decided that a laptop is still the best overall solution to mobile computing.

Fly Headphones for Gaming and Music

I just bought a new set of these. Just have one thing to say – “Frigging amazing!!!”

If you’re bored and have some money lying around, you should consider going wireless. Here are some photos:

Sound: The sound that comes out of these speakers is really clear and the bass is deep. Its the perfect balance between tiny in ear (Ipod type) speakers, and Big Ass Club land type speakers. Its comfortable too, perfect for gaming or music. Good for Skype too.

Quality: Good looking and the quality is outstanding. Leather and slick looking plastics.Volume controls included on the headset.

Latency: Virtually 0ms, or so low, there is just no delay in sound. This is because its wireless, and not bluetooth.

What are they like to have?: Amazing, being free of that annoying cord is something pretty amazing. I think I’ve always had a cord, and so this is really comfortable. Another cool thing is the range, you can pretty much get up and walk around the house, without having to be interupted. This means you are more free to do stuff around the house. Stuff that was never possible before. A few ideas

  1. Keep your headset on while taking a toilet break.
  2. Have a snack, make the snack, and eat it without that annoying cord in the way
  3. Do housework with them on, pretty much anything your hands are free remember.
  4. Have a cleaner PC environment, 1 less cord.

Price: Not cheap, but you only live once right?

Can you upgrade a Sony Vaio VGN-AR41S to have 4GB RAM?

Update:

So I was proven wrong by Claude, and thankfully so, because thanks to his discovery, I went out and bought 4GB of RAM (2x2GB DDR2 667 5ms latency), it also just happened to be Kingston. Came home booted it up, and ofc, only 3GB available (because its a 32Bit OS). So I thought what the heck, I’ll install Win7 64Bit RTM (Because I got this from MSDN). Everything I need worked fine. I don’t use the built in web cam much, so I haven’t installed a driver for that, but the rest of the Sony works perfectly. I found a graphics driver on www.laptopvideo2go.com. Awesome stuff…

UPDATE:

Huge thanks to Claude, who has pointed something out. Although Sony tell you, its impossible, it is possible to add 4GB’s of RAM. I did a system scan using this excellent utility, and as it turns out, the real chipset is Intel PM965 Revision C0. I then found the Intel tech specs for that chipset here (point 1.1.2) Notice this time 4GB. Claude has already upgraded to 4GBs. So now I know what I’m doing next pay day – buying more ram.

Thanks again Claude for clearing this up!

For those of you still interested, here is the original post:

I decided I would create this post for those of you who own this model notebook (Sony Vaio VGN-AR41S) and are wondering whats the deal with upgrading the RAM.

After hours of searching the web, I have the answer, unfortunately its a bit of a low blow. If it makes you feel any better, I own one too, and I am equally dissapointed.

You’re not going to get more RAM in there because of the chip set – Mobile Intel GL960 Express Chipset. You can read the full specs here or I will save you the time, and here is a screen shot of the interesting bit.

Capture

So yeah sorry to be the one who has to bring you this bad news, it seems the VGN-AR41S will die alongside the rest of 32Bit computing. I would not recommended upgrading the motherboard either, because along with this you’re no doubt going to end up having to upgrade / replace the graphics card. Not to mention, I doubt very much you’re just going to find a compatible laptop for sale.

I’ve decided that after this notebook finally kicks in I will buy a desktop computer and in the future only have a Netbook for portability. Desktops are a more long term answer to computing. They’re generally much cheaper, and when they get older can easily be upgraded.

Will 32Bit operating systems completely die out soon?

The short answer is YES, but unfortunately not soon enough. Just incase you didn’t know this Windows 7 will be the last 32Bit operating system to be released by Microsoft. On the server side of the market, the current Windows Server 2008 will be the final 32Bit Server OS.

I’m not sad to see the end of 32Bit computing, but what I’m personally questioning is the true validity of a 64Bit system, if it was that much better than 32Bit, why has it taken so long for the market to adapt to it? Finally now that we’re all “ready” to switch from 32Bit to 64Bit, is 64Bit still the best move to be making? Does 128Bit, or 256Bit exist yet?

Why now towards the end of 2008 – early 2009, You might be asking? Why is the market now hard pressed to leave behind 32Bit completely? The answer is NOT the performance gain, but rather that 32Bit systems are incapable of addressing more than 4GB’s of RAM. The reality is even harder hitting, when you install 4GBs of RAM on a 32Bit system, only to find that your system can only really see 3GBs.

2GBs of RAM was more than enough for the average home user in 2008, but this won’t be the case in 2010. Computing has entered a new era, HDD I/O being the main bottleneck. If RAM is the quickest way to read and write data, to move forward we need computers than can read and write from more RAM, 64Bit computing does address this issue.

What do you need to run a 64Bit version of windows?
(1) A CPU that supports it, (2) Drivers for your devices

Any modern Intel core duo 2 or better should be able to run a 64Bit Operating System, and most AMDs marked 64.

Drivers are really the main reason holding us 32Bit users back, but recently you’ll be suprised at the progress made in this area. I would especially like to give a hand of applause to Dell, who in my opinion are the leaders in providing their customers with alternative OS support, be that Linux/Windows – 32Bit or 64Bit.

Where to start?

If you don’t want to move over to 64Bit computing in one foul swoop, I would suggest you setup a dual boot, it could be kinda fun to try it out on a seperate partition first. You can then determine if 64Bit computing is ready for you.

Why Factory State For Notebooks is a bad idea

In this article, I will speak about my experience with Sony and Toshiba.

My Sony Vaio has 3 utility CD’s (That I had to burn) that can be used to restore the Vaio to “Factory State”. What makes me laugh is that whenever you have a problem with a Sony Vaio Laptop and need to contact support, they always ask you “What software does you computer have installed?” followed my their typical response – “Sir, please restore your computer to factory state and see if the problem persists”. To these guys its as if “Factory State” is some magical best possible software configuration where all problems can be simplified to either “Customer is at fault” or “The Vaio might need to go in for technical repairs”.

Its not really that I have a problem with Factory State, a laptop needs an OS right? What I have a problem with is the room full of people who decide what exactly will constitute “Factory State”, clearly these people have no interest in actually using the computer they’re selling. I myself am a computer expert, 10 years in the field and I know that when I buy a computer, the first thing I need to do is “fix it”, because it will arrive “broken” with its factory software configuration. Now you mighy be thinking, yeah yeah, most people are not that clued up on computers, and don’t mind a bit of bloat wear. This statement might have been true a few years ago, but the problem is “Factory State” has become so overbloated that its now noticable even to novice users. I’ve seen this with my friends, who know absolutely nothing about computers, they come to me and say “My computer is taking too long to start up, I think its because when I bought it, it comes with all these programs I don’t need”. Good old me ends up spending 2 hours, tweaking the startup and uninstalling the bloat on the PC.

Below I have documented the steps I need to take to fix a PC from “Factory State”.

  1. I removed the start up nag thats showing me about special offers from Symantec and Microsoft Office Home Student.
  2. I then needed to purge ALL SYMANTEC PRODUCTS from the system.  These products severly affect system performance. This involves uninstalling 4 products, and so 4 restarts…. but at least no more Norton.
  3. Because my laptop is running Windows Vista (and I wish I had an XP option, but I do not) I needed to get rid of UAC – thats right turn it off, do not pass begin or collect 200.
  4. Get rid of Microsoft Works – its completely outdated and there is actually no point at all in this product, originally intended to be the poor mans word, now MS Word Home and Student 2007 is affordable to the man on the street, and Open Office better still is FREE!  
  5. Have a coffee 🙂
  6. Install windows updates, “Factory State” does not get updated or patched, so its old, pre Vista SP1 days.
  7. Get rid of an installed copy of Microsoft Office Home and Student Edition that is installed, but not activated. Note: this isn’t free software, Sony and Toshiba are not bundling any value in this for you.
  8. Change the power setting to performance, and not Vaio Optimised (i.e: slow performance, better battery)
  9. reboot
  10. Get rid of the google toolbar for IE, I don’t do bloat, full stop!
  11. Uninstall Google Earth, its not a bad program, but its now an outdated version, bottom line: if I wanted it on there I would have downloaded it and installed it myself.
  12. Uninstall Google Talk, I never use it.
  13. Oops just missed an activation assistant for Microsoft Office – better get rid of this too, and
  14. reboot
  15. uninstall SQL 2005, thats been included despite it having compatibility issues with this version of Vista (This is a Sony only issue)
  16. reboot
  17. Uninstall Proprietry Video and Photo Viewing Applications – not going to name them all, but there are so many (at least 9).  They’re usually total crap, and not required
  18. Uninstall the advertising screen saver
  19. Uninstall 1 AC3 Codec I don’t really trust at all
  20. EEEEwwww Roxio – this has to go! And now that its on, it could have major issues trying to install Nero after it. Lets hope for the best, this time.
  21. Picasso 2 – offically bloat
  22. Uninstall SQL Server native Client – getting bored already with this – Yawn!
  23. Uninstall Skype, its an older version!
  24. Get rid of the damn side bar already!
  25. Uninstall the 56k fax modem (not sure why they would include this hardware on such a modern PC, but its completely useless to me)
  26. Smoke all SonicStage Products, not sure who these guys are or what they do, but not interested!
  27. Reboot
  28. Install some more updates, that are coming through on Windows Automatic Updates
  29. Turn off most of the Vista Fuzz, that slows the PC down considerably (Core Duo 2 2.2GHz)
  30. Set the page file to fixed size
  31. Turn off Vista Indexing for the OS drive (another feature that just slows you down)
  32. Install some more Vista Updates
  33. Reboot
  34. Shutdown all unrequired services that are not required by most users (e.g: fax)
  35. Remove “buy from Ebay” desktop advertisment icons
  36. Clean up general clutter on the desktop from advertising companies
  37. Remove duplicate and unneeded items from the start menu
  38. Turn off system restore!
  39. Get rid of everything relating to tablet PC, I don’t own one, and more than likely never will!
  40. Get rid of Vaio AV launcher crap, thats what Media centre is for.

I know its a bit of a long post, but I have to tell you after all the work, the notebook is finally ready, and in my opinion now “Factory State”.

Dell D630 Firewire really slow transfer speeds

Recently I wanted to run some USB2.0 vs Firewire Tests, I was amazed to see USB2.0 seriously outperforming the Firewire drive on my Dell D630. I was about to conclude that USB 2.0 might be quicker than Firewire and all the hype about it being faster, was just that – hype.

Luckily I work for a large corporate, where just about everyone in the company has a Dell D630 at the moment. So a few of my colleagues enrolled their D630s, and we tested some results.

I also decided to enlist Microsoft Support in our quest to find the solution to the crummy Firewire performance, andI have to tell you, Microsoft Gold Support is not 1/2 bad, expensive, but they go the extra mile.

I have concluded that the Dell D630 has a manufacturing defect that is present in 50% of the Dell D630s we were able to test on.These tests were carried out in Czech Republic.

Here are some sample graphs. The very last one is taken from my Sony, and btw thats what it should look like.

win2008server

Notice how the lines of that graph are not at all straight and average as they should be, in fact just by looking at it, it seems like the drive is suffering from some kind of heart attack, or might be broken, actually its not! It’s just a hardware defect, the drive works, but not according to Firewire specifiction.

withhotfix1

Good case graph

hdtune_benchmark_wd______my_book1

1TB drive has only 930GB free space

Q: Why does my 1TB drive only seem to have 930GB free space? Even after an NTFS format

A: The drive manufacturers use a standard metric system to determine the drive size.

According to the packaging(marketing hype)

1TB = 1000,000,000,000 bytes

This might seem correct, but the real way bytes should be calculated is like this

1TB = 1000bytes x 1024 (kb) x 1024 (mb) x 1024 (gb)

This accounts for the 7% space exageration by the drive manufacturers. So next time you’re out buying storage, expect to loose 7% of the capacity advertised on the box.