Professional Geek
RSS icon Email icon Bullet (black)
  • The Case Of The Missing Windows 7 Boot Logo

    Had a bit of weird problem this week I wanted to write down somewhere in case it happens again!

    A call came in from a client to say the laptop wouldn’t boot. On starting the laptop the usual Windows 7 boot animation was missing.

    image

    The screen was black apart from a series of coloured lines in the top left hand corner.

    Turns out there is an option that controls that!

    On the boot tab from MSCONFIG is a “No GUI Boot” option.

    image

    There is plenty of debate on the Internet as to what this actually does and doesn’t do – I’m not going to get into that here – the end result was that clearing this made the boot animation return.

    At this point I couldn’t actually toggle that option since the system wasn’t booting. I had to use a Windows 7 install disk and boot into the recovery tools and run the command

    bcdedit /set quietboot on

    The next time the system rebooted the logo reappeared. It then became apparent the disk checker needed to run – the laptop had been actually booting after all, but the disk checker wasn’t visible. If it had been left for long enough it would have eventually arrived at the logon screen. After letting the disk check complete (it took about 20 mins) the system eventually booted and I was able to logon ok.

    So that was it that right?

    Not quite…

    Upon next reboot the logo had disappeared again.

    After logging in again I checked the “No GUI Boot” option and it was indeed cleared. Odd? What happened to the logo?

    After a bit of experimentation we found out that making any change to the boot entry, via BCDEDIT and other similar tools caused the logo to reappear. After logging in and restarting it disappeared again!

    Since the problem resurfaced after logging back on we had to assume something was making a change. Using the very useful Autoruns tool we disabled just about every non-Microsoft/Windows program and service that runs when the system boots.

    After doing this (and resetting the boot entry) the logo appeared and stayed there after a series of reboots. Progress!

    Then it was just a matter of isolating which program or service was causing the issue. This took a while!

    Eventually we found the culprit

    HP Day Starter

    The HP Day Starter service is supposed to read the contents of your Outlook calendar and display your upcoming appointments during the boot process. Since the Windows 7 boot animation would normally be there it would need to get rid of that for it to do it’s thing.

    The end user had never used Day Starter and wasn’t interested in using it so we disabled the program and disabled it as on option in the BIOS for good measure so as to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

    HP do have full details for configuring the program.

    It’s an interesting idea but I’m not sure how useful it would be in practise? Is anyone else using Day Starter?

  • Reading List For 2013

    This will be last post about stuff from last year…honest…maybe.

    It’s safe to say i was very happy with trying to hit my target of trying to read at least one book a month for 2013.

    According to GoodReads I’ve read 44 “things” in 2013.

    I’ve recommended quite a few of these to various friends and family so thought I’d do some mini-reviews of the books I’ve particularly enjoyed. I’ve read quite a few series so will group them together where appropriate.

    In no particular order;

    Ex-Heroes Series by Peter Cline (comprising Ex-Heroes, Ex-Patriot and Ex-Communication)

    Love superhero stories? Love Zombie stories? If so this is most defiantly your sort of thing!

    Set in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse in a world where people with super powers is normal this book follows a group of survivors (normal and supers) as they try to carve out an existence where they don’t get eaten! As the series progresses zombies aren’t the only things they need to be wary of. This series really had me hooked. I finished the three that are available in a very short space of time. Book four (Ex-Purgatory) has just been released and I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into it. No pun intended.

    Wool Series by Hugh Howey (comprising Wool, Shift and Dust)

    It’s very tough to put into words how much I loved this series and to how many people I’ve recommended it to. The story is set in the near feature where a major world catastrophe has forced survivors to live underground in a huge silo. Enough time has passed for it to become the new normal and talk of the outside world is forgotten (more like forbidden). The main character is unwittingly thrust into the spotlight and before long it turns out not all is as it would appear.

    The second book goes to cover how they all ended up in the silo and the final book wraps the whole thing together. I’m trying to keep this brief as I’d hate to spoil it!

    World War Z by Max Brooks

    Genius. Very different to any other zombie fiction book you’ve read. Written in the style of a series of interviews with the people involved it explores how the zombie apocalypse came about and how the world dealt with it. Also nothing like the film that shares it’s name. I enjoyed the film but I’ve very glad I read the book first.

     

     

    Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die (by Ryan North and various!)

    Imagine if there was a machine that could predict the manner of your death? Would it change how you lived your life? This collection of stories explores just that. A fascinating concept and each author put’s their own unique spin on it that makes it a real page turner.

     

     

    Spin series by Robert Charles Wilson (comprising Spin, Axis and Vortex)

    Another enjoyable series but it was the first book that I enjoyed the most. One night the stars disappear. After some investigation it turns out a “shield” has been placed around the earth. Further investigation shows that time on Earth has been considerably slowed. Every second on Earth is years in outer space. As well as all the question about why and how this has happened it also throws up interesting concepts into space exploration. A probe to Mars would in theory take a few minutes to arrive. The the events of the first book are continued in the other books but I can’t say anything about them without totally ruining the first!

     

    Doctor Who: Shada Gareth Roberts (and Douglas Adams!)

    I originally got into Doctor Who not through the TV series but through the books. As a youngster I read just about every Doctor Who book that was in our local library! Considering that I read so little Doctor Who nowadays it’s something that will certainly change after this one caught my attention. Douglas Adams of Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy fame wrote several scripts for Doctor Who. Something I didn’t know until I found this book. On reflection though it makes perfect sense! This particular script was never filmed so Gareth Roberts has adapted it as a standalone novel. The Douglas Adams style really does come through and it was a really enjoyable read.

     

    Story Time by Linell Jeppsen

    A book about the end of the world, literally and what happens to the people in it. It’s written in a similar vein to World War Z coming from the angle of a journalist going back and covering the events after they have happened. It does get a bit weird half way through but it sort of has to really if Earth is…broken.

     

    End of the News Flesh Series and the first book in the Parasite series

    (Comprising DeadLine, Blackout, Countdown, How Green This Land How Blue This Sea,San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats, Apocalypse Scenario #683: The Box and Parasite)

    Basically everything Mira Grant has written! I’ve written posts about the first Newsflesh book in the past and how I happened to stumble across it. I’m glad I did!

    I love the characters and the world she’s created and I was gutted once I’d finished the main books in the series. It then turned out she’d written various short stories that happen in the same universe. Including a prequel that explains how the whole thing started.

    Mira then moved onto a new series called Parasite. While I didn’t quite connect with the characters in the same way as with Newsflesh I did enjoy it and I’m just disappointed I’ve got to wait so long for book two!

    If you want to see the rest of the list for 2013 it’s on GoodReads here.

  • Geekmas 2013

    My family are always pretty good at getting me great gifts (an Amazon wish list is great “inspiration”) and this year I was pretty pleased!

    Star Wars – Book of Sith: Secrets from the Dark Side

    A very fancy case reveals a book that I can only describe as a kind of Sith Bible.

    Here’s the description from Amazon

    The Sith have existed in the galaxy for centuries, lurking, waiting for their chance to seize control. As various Sith Lords emerged and rose to power, they recorded their thoughts, exploits, and plots for Sith control of the galaxy. When they fell, their knowledge vanished with them forever. Or so it seemed. . . .
    Over the years, these writings were passed among numerous Sith and Jedi, who added their comments to the pages. In his quest for domination, Darth Sidious tracked down what remained of five pivotal Sith texts written by his most powerful predecessors. Then, drawing on the knowledge within the compiled pages, he wrote a sixth text—his own manifesto. Together, these documents, along with several collected objects associated with them, shed light on the philosophy, achievements, and failures of the Sith Order. For years, this collection remained hidden, existing as legend only. But now all who are tempted may unlock the Book of Sith and delve into the dark side. . . .

    Raspberry Pi

    image

    This credit card sized computer is a really interesting bit of kit. I wanted one when they were first released but when the initial rush caused the stock to vanish I’ll confess I didn’t get around to going back for one. I spent a couple of hours with my niece and nephew when I first got it out of the box putting a little cartoon together in Scratch. I’ve got a couple of ideas for projects I’d like to tackle with it!

    Star Trek: Enterprise – The Full Journey

     

    Like any self respecting geek I love a bit of Trek! Enterprise is the one series though that I’ve not seen anywhere near enough of. Thankfully this box set means I can put that right!

    F1 Race Stars (XBox 360)

    I saw this at EuroGamer Expo a couple of years ago and liked the look of it. It plays a little like Mario Kart and is good fun as long as you’re not expecting it to be the next Forza!

    Did you get anything shiny?

  • 2013, Done and Dusted

    Happy New Year!

    Summing up the previous year has been a tradition here for quite a while. It’s always a useful thing as it helps me mentally review what was good, what was bad, any successes, achievements or failures and help let me know where I want to go in the next twelve months.

    There have been some really interesting things going on that I’d normally cover in detail. Evie started school, Alice sang in the school talent show, I inexplicably started hurling myself around obstacle courses and all the usual geeky outings such as Play Expo, the Harry Potter Tour and The Doctor Who Experience.

    The problem this year is that my family were hit with a really tragic piece of news in the middle of December.

    Each time I’ve sat down to try and write something about 2013 it’s the single event that has dominated my thoughts even though it happened right at the end of the year.

    So this year I’m going to keep it short and urge you to make sure 2014 is a year of happy memories.

    For me the end to 2013 was a tough reminder that you have absolutely no idea what is around the corner so make the most of the time you spend with the friends and family you love. 

    Primarily for me this means my girls who currently seem to visibly grow on a daily basis! 

    image

    and of course my lovely wife!

    image

     

    Hello 2014.