Archive for April, 2008

Mix and match 32-bit and 64-bit Windows on a Mac

Monday, April 28th, 2008

Question: I'm running 32-bit Windows Vista Ultimate inside Parallels on a Mac but I'd like to experiment with 64-bit Windows. Can I install 64-bit Windows into Parallels.

As long as you are using the latest incarnation of Parallels then, yes, you can. You are also free to mix and match 32-bit and 64-bit. I've tried it and it works well.

Windows users can do the same thing using a application such as VMware Workstation. However, not that while you can install Virtual PC 2007 on a 64-bit OS, you can't install a 64-bit version of Windows as a guest OS.

Cross-section of my email inbox + Tips on getting a reply!

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

Between this site and Hardware 2.0 over on ZDNet, I get a lot of email from readers. Over the past week I've been keeping an eye on the email I've been receiving and I've categorized it into a few broad categories, and I thought that it would be interesting to share them with you. Also, if you read on I'll give you tips on how to best to get me to reply to you! 😉

Email, by category:

  • Emails claiming that I'm a shill for Microsoft - 10%
  • Emails claiming that I'm a shill for Apple - 10% (Proves I'm balanced, right?)
  • Emails claiming that I'm a shill for a particular Linux distro or that I'm backing the wrong distro - 5%
  • Junk PR email (stuff which in no way relates to my area of coverage) - 15% (Do your homework!!!)
  • Relevant PR communication - 10%
  • Psycho stuff claiming a big conspiracy link between Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, werewolves and the saucer people) - 5% (This goes into my Psycho folder ...)
  • Incoherent ramblings - 5%
  • Thanks you messages - 5% (Nice, eh!)
  • People asking for help with a problem - 25% (However, about 15% of these emails are so vague I can't even get a clear idea of the problem. Stuff like "My PC keeps crashing, can you help?" really doesn't give me much to go on.)
  • Tips, hot scoops, etc - 5% (Thanks!)
  • Misc - 5%

I like getting emails, and I read every one (and I work hard at the incoherent ones or those that seem to be little more than howling at the moon). However, I can't possibly reply to all of them. My current reply rate is somewhere around 10%, which isn't too bad considering. Other times I use the email as the basis for a post, especially if I think the information will help others.

However, there are a few things that you can do that will increase your chances of getting a response:

  • Be clear
  • Be concise
  • Be polite (Yep, it helps)
  • Send money (Only kidding!)
  • Make sure that your email address is correct, especially if you want a reply (Nothing is more disheartening than composing a reply only to have that bounce because the email address is wrong ... 🙁 )
  • If you're referring to something I've written somewhere, give me a clue what (I write a lot and "That Linux post ..." or "That Vista piece" doesn't give me much to go on ...)
  • If you're asking for permission to use an image (in a PowerPoint, newsletter, school project, etc), be clear what you want. If the image is mine to begin with I usually have no problems saying "yes" to any non-commercial use, but some images on this site aren't mine to make available.
  • If you're sending me a tip or hot scoop, I'm happy to give you credit. Also, if you want total confidentiality, I can provide that.

If you want to get in touch with me, you can do so using this contact form or by clicking on the link on my bio over on ZDNet. Keep the emails coming in!

XP SP3 – Rumors of huge performance increases are exaggerated

Friday, April 25th, 2008

Rumors of huge performance increases as a result of installing XP Service Pack 3 are, well, exaggerated.

Over on ZDNet I compared four flavors of XP (XP RTM, XP SP2, XP SP2 and all patches to date and XP SP3) on two different hardware platforms (a high-end system and an old Pentium III system).

The bottom line:

I could try to bring significance to the small variations in some of the times and scores that we’ve seen above, but to be honest there’s only one real conclusion to come to - performance variations seen after applying service packs is small. Sometimes there are small gains (notice how compressing files becomes faster with each application) while other times there are performance losses (check out file copy - 2 on the Phenom system). Overall, the losses and gains seen are not significant.

If you're looking to speed up an XP install then SP3 isn't the answer. Instead, consider upgrading drivers (especially graphics card drivers), uninstalling unwanted apps, changing your security software (just as a test, uninstall your antivirus and see how much faster your system is ... ) or do a complete clean sweep and reinstall Windows.

Friday cat blogging

Friday, April 25th, 2008

If Ed Bott can get away with some Friday cat blogging, so can I!

Puddle, aka Mr Kitty

This is Puddle, aka Mr Kitty. He's playing with one of his favorite things - Cat5 cabling! He also loves boxes.

He's grown a lot since we first got him.

Windows XP SP3 FAQ

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

I've only had my hands on Windows XP SP3 a few hours and already the questions are coming in. I'll try an answer them in this quick FAQ:

What's the SP3 install process consist of?

Here's a visual walk-through.

How big a download is SP3?

Depends. If you wait for the Automatic Update it'll be in the region of 60MB. However, the full download if you go and get it yourself will be 544MB.

Do I need to have SP1/SP2 installed to install XP SP3 or will it install onto XP RTM?

According to the release notes the PC must at least be running Windows XP with SP1 installed. SP2 is recommended.

What's the minimum system spec for SP3?

  • A 233 megahertz (MHz) processor
  • 64 megabytes (MB) of RAM
  • 900 MB of available disk space during installation

What versions of XP is SP3 compatible with?

  • Windows XP Home Edition
  • Windows XP Professional
  • Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005

XP Professional x64 is not supported.

Can SP3 be uninstalled?


  1. Click Start, and then Control Panel.
  2. Click Add or Remove Programs, click Windows XP Service Pack 3, and then click Remove.
  3. Follow the on-screen instructions.

Note that programs that you installed after installing SP3 might no longer work after removing SP3.