Windows XP SP3 Activation Issues

My father’s PC recently died and needed a new motherboard.  Taking the opportunity to upgrade, we put in new RAM, CPU, but left the old hard drive.

Using the old hard-drive, the PC would go to boot and restart half way through the boot process.  This was the same in safe mode as well.

A repair install was the best way to go, so I downloaded a XP SP3 retail image from Technet and wen’t along with the install process.  All seemed to go well until the next major reboot after setup is complete, a smaller than normal Windows logo with a Please Wait… message at the bottom.  This did not go away so after half an hour, I reset the PC.

The Welcome screen showed up, I thought all was well.  I went to login as my user and a prompt appeared telling me that Windows needed to be activated before I could login.  I chose Yes and allowed it to do its thing.  My backdrop screen appeared, and there was a lot of disk activity for about 10 mins, before it then stopped doing anything useful.  It just sat there.  I could move the mouse and nothing more.

I’ve experienced a fair few encounters with WGA and most of the time, the fix involved getting to the registration wizard, by starting it from the Start->Run prompt.  Once there, Windows could do its thing.  Without a working explorer, no control+alt+delete to bring up task manager, I could do nothing.  You cant run the wizard in safe mode either, and whilst there are some hacks to bring up a command prompt in the welcome dialog and lots of other workarounds, nothing I tried worked.

In the end I simply installed XP SP2. Because it came with IE 6 or 7 though and the installed IE was version 8 there were periodic program exceptions regarding a synchronisation app (i think what IE 8 uses to keep its RSS feed list up to date).  An upgrade through windows update to internet explorer fixed that but we were reluctant to change anything.  In the end, I bought Dad a bigger harddrive, a proper copy of Win7 and haven’t had to worry about it since.

Why is it so hard to get anything done?

My favourite subject, what the business wants VS what IT wants?

The analogy of the expectations of a coffee barista and their ability to deliver their service is used as an analogy to that of the business has a service in mind from IT that needs to get delivered according to a set of reasonable parameters (timeliness, cost, value for money).  IT on the other hand have an agenda of logic and process, which doesn’t gel well when business requires innovation and doesn’t have the rules or the process in place themselves.

I think personally the biggest barrier is that the business sees IT as a service and IT sees business as a consumer/customer.  Yet they are all on the same team and the goals of business sustainability, profitability and efficiency are all shared and equally valued.  There needs to be a bridge, and I dont mean of the heavy BA role variety. 

The bridge as I see it, is the increase in toolboxes.  Business for whatever reason innovate within the spheres of people, interactions and workflows, but either abstract too far or are focused on existing implementation when it comes to involving IT style solutions in their innovation.  Perhaps as our current Gen Y workforce begin to move into management roles that shape business thinking, they will have an IT acumen and understanding of the tools and patterns that can take a business workflow and cut out the redundancy – they’ll know what to ask out of IT better because they’ll be able to ask for the right shaped tools.

I’m not saying that IT should just be a bunch of monkeys coding to whatever requirements waiting for these super Gen Y managers to come up through the ranks and lead us out of bad requirements / bad direction hell.  IT need to step up into the business strategy to do the same thing – innovate with the business – show them where the efficiencies and sweet solutions lie.  And really instead of being put to task with what the business wants (an extension of a business domain area for example), they should innovate with the business, put to task on how to grow the company, taken out of the tunnel vision project and given the autonomy and self direction to grow the company.

The article asks something of IT which is important – professionalism and knowledge.  Having barrista’s scratching their heads about how to perform a request indicates a lack of experience and knowledge.  IT people know how to be innovative, but they don’t necessarily know how to innovate within a business environment where they have constraints on time, directions by different stakeholders, but to also be innovative, you have to be timely.  You cant be timely if you don’t have the experience or knowledge to respond in a timely manner.  But in order to be useful to the business, you need to be.

At the end of the day, my half baked utopia is that IT are the business decision makers, and conversely the business decision makers are also IT people.  Those companies that can leverage best of breed can at the very least save some unnecessary time and interactions.

Mounting a Loopback Device Image

This is what I used to mount the Mandrake Pendrive Linux loopback device to retrieve my partners files when she moved back to a proper PC with a working hard drive 

# Create the device as /dev/loop0 and point to the loopback file
losetup /dev/loop0 Desktop/mcnlive.loop
# Mount the device in the usual way
mount -t ext2 /dev/loop0 Desktop/vfs