New Computer Chapter 3

Posted Posted in HP, Windows 8.1

 

Things always blow up on a holiday weekend. Just when I thought the replacement HP Envy was the machine I’d be using for the next (hopefully) 5 years or so, trouble came knocking at my door. Yesterday morning, I had breakfast, hibernated the machine. Took a shower, got dressed. Maybe 45 minutes elapsed time. When I turned on the machine again I saw this ugly blue UEFI you’re totally screwed screen.

uefi crash

Burnt a Ubuntu DVD to run Ubuntu FROM DVD on my server. It seemed to indicate a hibernate issue (?).

ubuntu

 

I sent the blue screen image to my new contact (the Director Signature Experience Labs) from Microsoft Store within minutes of seeing it appear. He called me. Yup, on a Sunday, a holiday weekend, 7am Redmond time, within 15 minutes of my emailing the sad news. While were talking, I booted to advanced recovery and tried to run some powercfg cmds to delete the hibernate file, but they are apparently no longer supported. However, when I exited the machine surprised me and BOOTED into windows. I immediately started copying my data off (and spent the balance of the day yesterday getting my data copied off the HP onto two separate external devices to have redundancy).

I had met with him personally (the Microsoft Director, Signature Experience Labs), just last Wednesday when he came to collect the two machines that were “rejects” (one was the original bad hardware HP Envy 17 and the second was a miss-shipped 15 inch laptop from the same family). During lunch last week, we were discussing various laptops and I had mentioned that I had also been looking at the ASUS ROG 17 incher with the same specs (except for the touch screen) but since there weren’t any in the stores (mail order only I guess, I wasn’t all that keen on getting something sight unseen. Even Best Buy didn’t have any from that family to check out (just to look, feel, etc., not to buy from them). We discussed whether there is an issue with this HP ENVY TouchSmart 17-j141nr model machine (they don’t have enough data on returns) which is now my feeling. He is replacing this HP machine with the ASUS ROG-G750JS-DS71. (We agreed that two lemons are more than enough and trying to see if a third unit would be disaster free wasn’t a good game plan).

ASUS

 

The reviews of the AUS ROG G750JS-DS71 everywhere are pretty awesome. I had looked at this computer before purchasing the HP but couldn’t justify the additional $$ for the ASUS. I’m going to have to go through all the setup stuff again, upgrade to 8.1 update 1, update to the Windows Media Center Pro feature pack, install my apps, copy in my data. Will probably take two days plus to set up the ASUS. Which I am hoping will arrive this week. I’ll hopefully have shipping details tomorrow.

Replaced a Computer with an HP Laptop from Microsoft Store

Posted Posted in HP, Microsoft, Windows 8.1

 

Subtitle: A Signature PC should not behave this way or require this amount of manipulation. Not to mention that an average person would never be able to get through this.

A very old (in computer years) computer from the XP years that I’d been updating (hard drive, RAM, video card, network card, and of course Windows Operating System) (it was running 8.1 updated completely) finally gave up the ghost. It was an old clunker by today’s standards, and I had been using it for development and testing work. I’d been expecting this and had been doing some research for a few weeks. I’d already decided on a 17 inch laptop as a desktop replacement and I was loathe to order something I couldn’t test first or that came with bloatware, crapware, and things of that ilk. I’ve been to out almost local Microsoft Store enough times to know that the signature PC’s there were probably my best choice. And decided on an HP Envy 17 that appeared to be “fully loaded”.

envy17

The nice man that waited on me showed me a similar (less powerful) model that was on display. I decided that if testing that model proved acceptable, that the higher end model would be as good or better. On the negative side, the sales person was unsure of the specs of the higher end machine. I asked if it had a 5400 or 7200 speed hard drive (he had to look it up). I also asked if the higher end model had Windows 8.1 or Windows 8.1 Pro (the down level demo I was testing did not have Pro) and he replied affirmatively.

The demo seemed to be quite responsive, even on the store’s not so wonderful wireless internet connection. I wasn’t absolutely crazy about the gesture enabled trackpad and mouse functions, but knew I’d be purchasing/using a separate Arc Touch Mouse most of the time and that I could turn off and adjust trackpad functionality. Backlit keyboard was a plus. The keyboard itself is so-so but usable (I still think that no one has equaled the ThinkPad keyboards). After about twenty minutes I decided to pull the trigger and purchase.

The box came out from the back of the store. NOT Windows 8.1 Pro, only Core. I complained. I asked for a discount to offset the need to buy an upgrade key. The assistant store manager said yes to that in seconds (the store manager, who I know, was on vacation) and did some magic with prices to effectively reduce the cost by the amount needed to offset the Pro Pack Upgrade. Home I went, laptop in hand.

Arriving home, I plugged in and spent a couple of hours first applying the Pro with Media Center upgrade and then hitting Windows Update about 8 times until I was fully updated to 8.1, Update 1 (or whatever it is officially called).

I walked away to have lunch.

Problem #1: When I came back, the laptop was displaying an ominous black screen showing Boot Device Not Found Please install an Operating System. Held down the power button, did a few more things, started downloading my apps from the Windows Store. Went back to the desktop. Had two more instances of Boot Device Not Found Please install an Operating System. A web search for “hp envy operating system not found” turns up and ungodly number of hits. Most of which are folks who can’t get their computers to boot at all. That was not my problem. After some thought, I went hunting for a BIOS upgrade. Which I found and applied.

Problem #2: Under heavy network load (over 802.1ac wireless), I had some complete lockups. I went hunting for a driver update on the HP site. Found one for this specific model and applied it.

Problem #3: After performing the Windows 8.1, Update 1 update, Bluetooth went missing. It was completely gone from Device Manager as well. While I couldn’t find anything specific to the model laptop I had, I did find http://h30434.www3.hp.com/t5/Notebook-Operating-Systems-and-Software/Bluetooth-missing-HP-ENVY-15-j026tx-Windows-8-1/td-p/3753454. After some more searching, I figured out that I should try https://downloadcenter.intel.com/Detail_Desc.aspx?DwnldID=23761. Yes, that worked. Or at least I see Bluetooth in devman and have a functional BT task tray icon.

Problem #4: The HP Assistant Program  finds newer drivers that those listed for the product page for this model laptop. It found an even newer Intel Wireless drive for the AC NIC. Suggests that it is a waste of time to use drivers from the product page. HP should be ashamed. If you have drivers, HP folks, keep your site updated.

Problem #5: I installed all my modern apps from synced profile. I then got all the Windows Store Updates for these apps. Skype and Bing News won’t install and error with 0x80073cf9. I can install other apps and update other apps. I uninstalled the “old” versions. Now I have none. I ran the PowerShell script to remove windows store apps and these two do NOT appear on the list. It’s not corrupted files, I’ve sfc /scannow’d and tried the standard wsreset, license sync, and it appears I am not alone. I do have the desktop app and there are other News Apps, so it is not the end of the world.

 

skype

Problem #6: Locks up when accessing an SDXC card in the media reader slot. I’ve got an external card reader that works, but gee whiz…

Bottom line.

 

I’ve got a thirty day return window and have resolved most of my issues. I’ve spent the past day and a half installing my apps and so on. I want this to be a keeper. I’m hoping I’m over the hump. HP should be ashamed for sure. And I’m hoping that the Microsoft Store folks leaern something from this.

HP ePrint is disappointing

Posted Posted in Connected Home, ePrint, HP, iPad, iPhone, Networking

When my older low end downstairs printer needed all ink cartridges replaced at the same time, I realized that buying a new printer would actually be cheaper.

HP has been trumpeting its latest crop of ink jet printers that feature ePrint, a technology that assigns an email address to each printer and enables you to send mail via a HP web service that is supposed to print documents to your printer from anywhere in the world using email.  I had a $50 BestBuy gift card and they (and HP) are selling the D110 ePrinter for $70. That was a no brainer for me.

Too bad ePrint  needs constant care and feeding by the end user to actually work. Here’s my quick review:

The Good: Printer setup over 802.11n was a breeze, as the printer includes WPS. The printer immediately discovered an available firmware update and I applied the update (and had to reconfigure). I setup the ePrint mail list (which lets you restrict who can send jobs to the printer) and added the email address to my contacts. Next, I used my iPad and was easily able to discover and print a page in Safari.

The Bad: Normal TCP/IP network printing works as expected, except for buggy 64 bit drivers that need to be reinstalled after a computer restart.  This has existed for at least a year and HP thinks reinstalling every restart is an acceptable solution, apparently. Many of their printer support pages all point to the same KB/FAQ so stating. Also,  HP is using the Bonjour protocol on the printer, which enables the IOS functionality. (It is too bad that Apple decided to use their own proprietary protocol, but it is good news for folks like HP who hope to sell new network printers. I assume that the reason that printers connected to local computers work with the new iPxx print function is that Bonjour is installed (and required) on the host computer.

The Ugly: The real travesty is that the ePrint functionality that links the printer to the HP Web Service is badly broken and these printers lose their connection to the Web Service (but ALL other functions continue to work) and that HP has been aware of this since at least August, as evidenced by this 18 page (and growing) thread. HP interns patrolling the forum have marked “power cycle the router or the printer” as an acceptable solution, but there has been no official reply from HP tech support OR a commitment to fix this.

Update 11.29.2010: Had and email exchanges with HP Support. After they emailed their scripted response to run their proprietary network trouble shooter (for an issue that does not even require a local computer to be turned on) I asked them to escalate to someone that understood ePrint. I’ve told them it was not a LAN issue in all the emails and clearly,with bold type,characterized it as an issue between the web service in the cloud and the printer not maintaining a connection or renegotiating one. When I installed the basic driver on a second W7 x64 laptop, the first page I printed displayed the following message (these are the print cartridges included in the factory sealed box).

cartridges

In Conclusion: I suspect that HP needed to release and promote a not ready for primetime function to coincide with the launch of IOS 4.2.1 which enabled printing from an iPxx device. HP’s current list of ePrint enabled printers as of 11/22/2010 includes:

•HP Officejet Pro 8500A e-All-in-One Printer series – A910  for customers worldwide
•HP Officejet 7500 Wide Format All-in-One Printer Series- E910  for customers worldwide
•HP Officejet 6500A e-All-in-One Printer – E710
•HP Photosmart D110 series for North America customers
•HP Photosmart B110 series for Asia and Europe customers
•HP Photosmart B210 series for customers worldwide
•HP Photosmart Premium C310 series for customers worldwide
•HP Photosmart C410 series for customers worldwide
•HP Photosmart Ink Advantage K510 series for Asia and Europe customers
•HP Photosmart eStation e-All-in-One Printer  C510 series for North America and Europe customers
•HP Envy eAll-in-One Printer D410 series for customers world wide

Recommendations: If you need a replacement printer or especially in you want iPxxx print functionality, and can live with having to reinstall drivers on 64 bit Windows at inconvenient times, check out one of these printers. If you are looking for ePrint, it isn’t ready for prime time.

Help Design HP’s Next Laptop

Posted Posted in HP

I received an invitation, in part because of some reviews I”ve done as a blogger, to provide feedback and ideas to HP on what kind of laptop I’d design if I could do it myself. The sky is the limit and I think this is a great opp for MVP’s and others to speak up.

This is for real. I will be giving this link to HP and also collecting feedback. And of course supplying my own

If you ever wanted to make an impact, this is your chance. JUST LEAVE A COMMENT!

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