Rebuilding my work computer with Vista

It’s been a hard run the past few weeks, as my work computer started behaving in all sorts of unusual ways. Windows, as we all should know, has a half-life of six months (for heavy-duty use). It’s been nine months since my last rebuild, so I’m already overdue.

The first big change this time around is going with Vista. This was a tough decision, but ultimately, I have to take the plunge at some point. Vista has been around for quite some time now, so you’d think most of the kinks are worked out. (I’m keeping my fingers crossed).

The second big change is a real attempt to use Microsoft Outlook instead of Mozilla Thunderbird. Yes, Thunderbird is a superior email product, especially when teamed with GMail (which I use for all email, business and personal). Unfortunately, Outlook has superior contact management and calendar features, and is much more effective at synchronizing with my Palm Treo.

So far, I’m dealing with the expected delays using Outlook, mostly related to its difficulty doing a first-time sync of my Google mailboxes (both are over 500MB). Turning off UAC helped get some other odd things to work (like the PPTP VPN to SoftLayer). I’m sure there will be more issues, but I’m being hopeful that they can all be resolved.

We’ll see how things are after a week of heavy use.

Solving distorted sound issues in Boot Camp

I’ve been running a rather expensive Windows Vista computer lately, thanks to Boot Camp. However, two problems continue to plague me:

  1. The latest Boot Camp update from Apple will not install successfully.
  2. Sound is distorted when playing games, typically those using multiple sound channels (i.e. pretty much all games).

Fortunately, I finally found the fix for #2. It wasn’t Vista SP1, and it wasn’t figuring out a way to install the latest Boot Camp drivers (still can’t figure that one out).

The solution: Download and install the latest Realtek HD drivers. Thanks to a post on which pointed me to the Realtek High Definition Audio drivers page.

One odd quirk: It took two installations of the Realtek drivers before it worked. After the first installation (which removed the old drivers) and a restart, there was no sound at all in Windows. A re-installation of the same Realtek drivers (and another restart), and it’s all working fine…

Just in time for Age of Conan, which should be arriving in a day or two! (It’s for work, really… I’m doing research for the soon-to-be-released web site,