Installing Windows Vista with a Virtual CD/DVD Drive

I’m surprised at the amount of traffic that one simple post about testing Windows Vista brought to this blog. It looks like a lot of it came from the trackback I sent to help.net’s article about using the “Virtual CD-ROM Control Panel for Windows XP” to mount Vista ISO’s to get Vista to install without burning a DVD. That method has helped me install Vista several different times now, and I’ve since realized that I didn’t really spell it out very well. If you’d like to try out Vista without having to burn a DVD, here’s what you need to do.

  • Download the desired ISO image and save it to an easily accessible location on your hard drive.
  • Download the Virtual CD-ROM Control Panel for Windows XP. It’s an executable archive that contains 3 files: VCdRom.sys (the virtual cdrom driver), VCdControlTool.exe (the control panel application), and a readme file. Extract those files somwhere handy and run VCdControlTool.exe
  • Click “driver control,” “install driver”, then browse to and select the VCdRom.sys file. This loads the driver for use in Windows.
  • Close the driver control window.
  • Click “add drive” to obtain an available drive letter for your virtual drive. That drive will appear in the list at the top of the control panel with the message “no image mounted.”
  • Click “mount,” then browse to and select your ISO file. The file will be mounted as a virtual drive at the drive letter you specified.
  • You can now use this new virtual drive as you would a regular DVD drive to install Vista however you’d like. VirtualPC recognizes these virtual drives, but you can also install Vista from within WindowsXP if you’d like.

This technique works for installing linux ISO’s into VirtualPC as well. I hope that makes more sense than before…..

Autodesk University Website Much Better Now

I thought I’d mention, since I posted a somewhat lengthy complaint earlier about having login and session preservation issues with the Autodesk University registration website, that they’ve since fixed the problem and the site is working much better now. It’s nice to be able to signin once, navigate around the site, and actually be able to stay there without getting accidentally logged out. Not sure what the problem was before, but thanks to whoever got it fixed.

They’ve recently added a neat new feature to the site called AU Connect. Each conference attendee inputs some information about themselves, including what industry they work in, which Autodesk tools they use, what skills they might have, what their core interests are, and so on. That information is then used to map out which attendees might be best for you to network with while at the event. Interesting idea….I’m looking forward to seeing how well it works.

Testing Windows Vista Pre-RC1 on Virtual PC

I noticed a post on Paul Thurrott’s Internet Nexus blog this afternoon about Microsoft making Vista build 5536 publicly available. I’m not sure why they did it, but I was happy to learn that I’d be able to test a more recent and less buggy version of Vista, so I downloaded it right away. Using the now free version of Virtual PC 2004, as well as a handy little tool from Microsoft called Virtual CD-ROM control panel, I had the ISO image for this build mounted on my PC as a virtual DVD drive, and had the entire installation done in about an hour. I’m quite impressed, much more so than I was with Beta 2 (which took about 2-3 hours to install), and am looking forward to trying it out over the next few days.

Here’s VirtualPC running Vista on my Dual-Monitor XP machine:

Here’s the new blue theme, the sidebar, and Windows Photo Gallery:

Frustration with Autodesk University Registration

After spending more time with the AU registration website and helping others from my office use it, I’m feeling a little embarrassed about my comments from the other day. Although I really liked being able to build my schedule so easily, I’m getting really frustrated with the login problems the site seems to be having. The praise I posted in the survey they presented seems a little too glowing for the experience I’ve had since then.

Shortly after signing up I learned that a few other guys from my office were also given approval to go, so we got together to look at the class schedule and get everyone signed up. I had lots of positive remarks about how easy the registration website was and recommended that everyone check it out. Upon doing so we ended up in what seemed like an infinite loop of trying to login, getting bumped out, trying again, loosing the session, and so on. After about 6-8 tries, we finally made it into the system, found a class to enroll in, and clicked the button to get on the list. Suddenly we were logged out again and had to go through the whole process over again. It’s been that way ever since and quite frankly some of us are about ready to pull our hair out.

Perhaps its something with our firewall, or who knows what else, but something’s definately gone wrong there. Some bold red text on the login page states that pressing the back button can cause problems as well, which seems to indicate they have some kind of problem preserving the session. I seem to remember having similar problems with some of the sites we’ve developed in-house, but they were soon resolved with some attention paid to the way a session was stored on the server. Whatever it is, I hope they can get it figured out soon – the site is great, but it’s really frustrating to use when you can’t stay logged in.

Healing Field @ Temple Square, Busy Week for SLC

Healing Field on Temple Square With the American Legion Convention here in town this week, there’s currently a Healing Field setup on Temple Square with hundreds of flags. I went down yesterday during lunch and took a photo or two.

Looks like Utah may be in the news a lot this week, what with the arrest of Warren Jeffs, Secretaries Rumsfeld and Rice speaking today, multiple rallies planned for tomorrow, including one with Cindy Sheehan. This could be interesting.

Registering for Autodesk University

I just finished registering for my classes at Autodesk University. Looks like it’s going to be a busy week. I’ve signed up for a total of 14 courses, and will be learning about stuff ranging from BIM (Building Information Modelling) to website development with DWF drawings, to programming AutoCAD with .NET. I think it’ll be a worthwhile trip.

I thought I’d mention how much I liked the scheduling interface they used. Every time I’ve put together a class schedule like this in the past, it’s been complicated and usually the website is not very helpful. For AU they had a handy little schedule that you simply clicked open spaces, and chose from a list of available course. A survey popped up at the end and I tried to post some comments about how helpful I found this.

One thing was a little disappointing, though – I guess I waited a little too long to get myself registered because by time I finally had everyone’s approval (boss, wife, etc…) the Venetian was full and they were scheduling rooms in the Flamingo instead. I clicked the option to be put on the waiting list, though, so maybe there’s still a chance…..we’ll see.

Troubles in Northern Ireland

A Windows Live Local collection posted yesterday to the location sharing website, PassThePoi, really caught my attention. “History of Northern Ireland’s Troubles” identifies the locations of several key events in the history of that country and included extra information, photos and links about them all. It’s a fascinating way to learn things, and this has been one of many collections that I’ve enjoyed from that site.

Having served an LDS mission in Ireland, I found this collection particularly interesting because it finally answered some questions I had about some of the things I saw over there. For example, for three months I was in the city Londonderry (or Derry, depending on who you talk to), and lived less than a mile away from the Bogside neighborhood. As we walked around the city, we saw many murals depicting what had happened there, and occasionally people would bring up bits of the story, or the resulting conflict, in our conversations with them. I was fascinated by the history, but never really understood it as much as I’d like to, as our focus was obviously on something else at the time.

After looking through this collection, and reading about “Battle of the Bogside” and “Bloody Sunday,” it all finally started to come together. I had no idea that it had all started right there….that Bogside was essentially the flashpoint that sparked much of the troubles that Ulster was still suffering from. I’m grateful for all the helpful information that people have compiled, in Wikipedia articles and Flickr photo clusters especially, to help folks like me piece all this together.

For two short weeks of my mission, I was assigned to the beautiful town of Omagh. I remember walking up and down those streets and having some very interesting gospel discussions with the people there. In August of 1998, shortly after returning home, I watched in horror the news reports of the bombing that took place there in the city center, in what looked to be an area that I had passed by several times only months before. I was glad to learn, however, that this event was somewhat of a turning point in the troubles – that people condemned the act, rather than retaliating against it. It’s great to see that Northern Ireland seems to be moving on. I realize that there are still some wrinkles that are yet to be worked out, and that there will probably still be issues, but it seems that for the most part, things are better. I can only hope that I might be able to return there someday and enjoy that beautiful country and all it’s amazing scenery and fascinating people once again.