Tag Archives: Dell

Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004

An update to Windows XP Media Center, again intended for OEM use. Very little has changed on the desktop side with most of the enhancements being done to the Media Center program. Again this version was intended solely for OEMs, so only OEM-type product keys can be used. When installing on an OEM system, like my Dell XPS Gen5, activation was automatic and I don’t remember it prompting for a product key. On VMWare, it’s a different story with it being locked out of the OS on the initial boot-up.

Some issues may occur regarding product activation since this is a Dell OEM copy, to get around this:
Spam F8 upon boot up
Select Start in Command Prompt
When the Command prompt window appears, enter ‘explorer’ and wait for the setup prompt to finish, this will reboot the PC automatically

Version Information

ComponentVersion
Internet Explorer6.0.2800.1106.xpsp11.020828-1920
Outlook Express6.00.2800.1106
Windows Media Player9.00.00.3005
Windows Messenger4.7.0041
Windows Movie Maker1.1.2427.1

The desktop remains the same as a default Windows XP, with the only noticeable difference being the Media Center icon on the Start Menu. A new Online Spotlight option is now present, This would take you to an online website, displayed within the Media Center application (possibly using the Internet Explorer engine) that would have provided further information with using Media Center.

Play DVD

The main DVD player, again we have difficulties playing DVD discs due to the lack of hardware MPEG2 decoder. You would think they would support software rendering by now.

My Videos

Videos stored in the My Videos folder are located and played back here. This does not include Recorded TV, which has its own section. Video playback requires a supported graphics card that will provide acceleration, that VMWare (Or its driver) does not support.

My Pictures

Similar has before, photos can be displayed as a single image or as part of a slideshow. Media center supports the common file formats and will display images from the My Pictures folder, or the Shared Pictures

My TV

TV functionality is still a mystery, as my DVB-T tuner adaptor is still not recognized by the Media Center Application. From looking at the help files, Media Center has full PVR functionality with the ability to schedule recordings, pause live TV & rewind. You can now watch TV in slow motion, which is useful for sports events or frame by frame to check if anything has been missed (or for any subliminal messages).
As with the previous version, you can configure the TV source to be through an antenna, using a satellite or a cable feed. The latter two probably need a set-top box along with an infrared blaster to control it.
Pay-Per-View also appears to be supported, but I’m unsure how this is implemented. Possibly it interacts with your cable box’s PPV application?
As for the TV listings, as Microsoft has killed off the EPG servers we are unable to load any channel listings.

My Music

Little here has changed compared to the previous version. Music stored in the My Music folder can be played or organized into a playlist, and played through the media center application.

More Programs

Additional programs that integrate into Media Center are displayed here, which can include games or links to the website. Dell has bundled a few WildTangent games that are intended to be played using the Media Center remote.

Otto: The objective is to turn all of the squares into your colour, whilst avoiding the enemies.

Gem Master: Similar to Sega Columns, clear the board by matching three or more colours together

Shutting down within media center

Dell Dimension 1100

A low-end desktop system released by Dell in 2005, paired with a Pentium 4 and 512MB of RAM with onboard Intel graphics. Typically paired with a 15inch LCD monitor. Nothing really special about the system and there’s a distinct lack of Microsoft Works unless it was included in a separate CD.

Typical Dell desktop background of the era. I remember this was used on the Inspiron 9100 also. Notice the AOL being branded as LOL, not sure if that occurred on the actual system or something that got renamed

Software

Let’s look at the software bundled

McAfee

Dell and McAfee are commonly seen together, and this system was no exception to that. Like Norton, this acts as both the antivirus and the firewall for the system.

McAfee firewall will pop up if a new program tried to connect to the internet or access a network resource.

Dell Support

A utility that pops up whilst your in the middle of a SimCity/Civ session and causes the game to minimize itself, only for Dell Support to prompt you about a rip off offer, then when you try to restore the game it freezes and you have to kill it in task manager and you lose all your unsaved data.

In all fairness its useful for first time computer buyers, bot the occasional popups will get annoying after a while. There is an option to reduce or turn off the alerts.

Google Desktop

A software application that allowed you to search Google from your desktop, and included an indexed desktop search client. This also placed a search box on your taskbar of which will bring results from both the web and files/folders that are local to the PC. This would give a similar experience to the Windows Search feature that was introduced in Windows Vista, although Microsoft would also release Windows Search for Windows XP.

A sidebar included widget-like functionality, similar to Mac OS X Tiger that was released at the time. As its a Google produced, expect it to data mine the hell out of you, I’m sure most people took the time to read the privacy policy.

Core Photo Album 6

Photo management application. This is designed to gather can collect images from an external source, such as a digital camera or an external SD card.

You can edit and apply different effects like sepia, or add a digital frame if you wish, and then export and save or print to a photo printer. Different effects include red-eye removal, which was common on a digital cameras of the time. Alternatives included Microsoft PictureIt, Adobe Photoshop Elements,

This copy was part of a trial, and expires after 60 days of use.

QuickBooks

Some sort of accounting software is designed for small businesses like a high street shops. It makes several mentions of creating business so I’d say it’s for a commercial environment in comparison to Microsoft Money which is more for home/personal use.

This appears to be a full back-office management system since it allows for you to create customer accounts, useful for booking appointments. In this was in functions similar to Microsoft Access

MyDVD LE

I assume this is intended to create DVD discs and backups, but will not function since this technically isn’t a Dell machine.

Musicmatch JUKEBOX

A popular music player and an online digital music store, that was mostly backed by Yahoo. Here you could purchase music to transfer to a supported music player. Alternatively, it can function as a standalone music player, as an alternative to Windows Media Player. MusicMatch was later discontinued in 2006.

AOL

The 9.0 desktop client comes included along with a free internet trial

Sonic CINEPlayer

A DVD player of some sort. However, this will not function in a VM and will inform that its intended for only Dell computers. The full screen interface appears very similar to Windows Media Center.

Roxio Creator LE

CD burning and authoring program that supports the use of burning audio CD’s and can burn ISO disk images.

Adding a Hard Drive to a Dell Inspiron 5485

Introduction

This laptop comes with an onboard M2 SATA drive that has a 256GB capacity, with the provision of adding a SATA hard disk internally. Whilst you could add another SSD, I decided to reuse an old HDD I had around for some extra storage.

To prepare, make sure you have the hard disk ready that you would like to install and the SATA cable. The thickness of the SATA drive is important, as you will see later I made the mistake of installing a thicker HDD than the bay is designed for. I would also check and make sure the SATA cable is already shipped inside your laptop, since I assumed I had to purchase one separately.

Opening Up

This was a bit tricky, you have to unscrew the screws, the top three being fastened into place and are non-removable. What this means is that you unscrew then as normal but they do not come out of the case, rather they stay to prevent them from falling out.

Once the screws have been removed or loosened, you will need to pry around the edges of the laptop with either a credit or debit card or a thin plastic tip to loosen it. You may need to pry to get it to loosen, be gentle and apply even gradual pressure.

Removing the caddy

Once opened you will locate the area where the HHD will be installed, alongside the battery that will need to be removed and the socket where the SATA cable will connect to

Removing the battery

The SATA cable will need to route under the internal battery, so we have to temporary remove it, or in my case move it so we can access the area underneath There enough space where you can just place the battery on top of the motherboard whilst you install the SATA cable.

Adding the Hard Drive

Dell have provided a hard disk caddy where the drive can be installed, simply unscrew it (for screws) to take it out.

Unfortunately at this point is where I made my first mistake, since I assumed Dell did not provided you with the SATA cable and had to be purchased separated. Imagine my surprise when I took out the HDD enclosure and saw the SATA cable nestled between the plastic cover, meaning I now have two SATA cables. Well that’s £18 wasted…

Then again at least I have one spare incase anything was to happen to it. I’m pretty sure the Dell service manual mentioned you had to buy the came separately, or maybe that only applies to certain markets?

Now it is time to screw in the HDD, which is where I ran into the second issue. I noticed the SATA cable wouldn’t reach, At first I thought I had installed the HDD the wrong way round since the connector wasn’t aligning up but from looking at the hole underneath the HDD bay it seemed to fit. Upon closer inspection it seemed the hard drive I was trying to install was too tall for the enclosure and I had installed it upside down. When the hard drive is too THICC for the laptop…

Thankfully I had another hard drive lying around, a HGST that was pulled from my old PS4 when I upgraded its hard disk. This hard drive was thin enough that it would fit inside the bay.

Reassembling

A quick power on test before reassembly to ensure I didn’t fuck anything up. The laptop booted and the HDD was recognised in its BIOS EFI (Still trying to get used to that)