ARCHOS Cesium 80 — support?!

Well, it’s that time again. I got something to blargh about.

Keeping it short and to the point: I recently bought a shiny new Archos Cesium 80 tablet with Windows 8.1. All very nice, being able to run w32 apps without any problem. But there’s one bottleneck: it only has 16GB of available disk space. Which is not much, but it should be plenty until you break it down:


Partition 0: Operating system and files – 9GB used; after updates ~10GB (without removing the default additional language packs like Russian and Spanish)
Partition 1: Recovery — 4GB
Partition 2: just the usual bootstuffs — 100MB


So that leaves us with very little workspace. I decided to remove the language packs (by ‘adding’ them and removing them, basically) and to delete the recovery partition. Which I shouldn’t have done: the EFI/GPT scheme doesn’t allow that for some reason, so you get a BSOD 0xc0000225 and no recovery options ofcourse. So I decided after inserting a recovery USB stick with EFI and trying to fix stuff with bcdboot and diskpart (which did not work at all; strangely enough, ‘no operating system’ etc.), and plenty of other methods. Not only that, the touch screen did not work by default in the non-Archos Windows 8.1, so I had to attach a USB hub and a keyboard.

After trying several thousand things, I decided to install Windows 8.1 Pro. And yet again, to my surprise, no drivers anywhere to be found on the entire net. I e-mailed Archos, they just skipped reading and said ‘we do not support this OS’ and that was that.
Terribly enough, no support at all — not even a recovery image or anything like that. So I took a twisted turn, I decided to make a deal with a webshop and ‘buy’ a new tablet: the same one. The plan: get a recovery image and extract all the drivers.

So I did just that. And it works. Here is the recovery image for Windows 8.1 with Bing for Archos C80:
Here are all the drivers (working in Windows 8.1 x86 and Windows 8.1 Pro x86):

And that’s all I got, and here are some interesting links:
Full recovery image(use Win32 Disk Imager to write this to a 16+GB USB stick or network-disk): http://a.eth9.org/

NOTICE: This image is only for use on the Archos 80 Cesium tablet. —
Trying this on a laptop or other type of tablet will cause unwanted results and might corrupt your partition table and EFI-stored Windows serial number if it does not correspond with the type and model if you do a forced install.
After installing this image, you can also upgrade to Windows 10 Home after installing all Windows updates and connecting an external USB stick once again for the installation files (see the Windows 10 Upgrade application (GWX) for more  information)

Drivers (7z): http://dl.marlon.ws/Media/archos80c.7z

Guide for governments: Resisting Detekt

Ahh, yes. I’ve been reading the news, and somehow it got me to a group called ‘Resist Surveillance’. The group is organized by a few human rights groups, as shown as on their site. The purpose of the software? Detect government spyware by running it and viewing the results (obviously).

This isn’t really anything new, but the software itself is quite interesting. The stand-alone application is 26MB in size, and it looks pretty good. But there are a few buts on this one. First, it dumps debug information into a log file in the same directory; including the results. Second, it starts a webserver on your local system, on a random port (you can actually open it in a web browser — but it obviously won’t ‘work’).

The program also features multiple languages, including German, Italian, Spanish, and Arabic.

So, I ran the software to see if it was any good, but I was quite disappointed. The software threw me multiple errors.
Unsupported

The first one, as seen in the picture: “You are running an unsupported version of Microsoft Windows”.
It seems the developers did not implement the “Windows 8.1 with Media Center” string. Obviously, selecting a compatibility mode (Windows 7), did work.

Or well… it kinda did at first.

internalservererrorohnoes

It surely looks like great software, but I haven’t really had the chance to do anything, except fooling around with the program and looking at the source code.
Eventually, after restarting the software, it finally started scanning. It only scanned the memory and ‘known’ files, it took around a minute before it was done. It gave my new laptop a clean bill of health, but I’m not sure if that’s true.

The concept of this software surely is great, but the software itself just lacks about everything. And because it runs a server on localhost, it’s not that hard for governments to circumvent the program; just implement a function to check for the webserver running, killing it, and set-up some other service. This way, a government could even serve another page saying you won the lottery.

Congratulations on writing the software.

Windows 8.1: More choice and less clutter.

I’ve installed Windows 8.1 on my main laptop, and it’s even faster (performance) than Windows 8.

Some games (and websites) do not seem to agree though, but I haven’t really installed any games which will drain a lot of performance; let alone to test it. So I’ll just assume that games don’t really work (though, Microsoft recently fixed that issue in an update).

There are a lot of new standard apps installed in 8.1, the most notable one is Skype. It’s not the so-called “Desktop” version of Skype, but the Modern version. I have to say that a lot of bugs in this version have been fixed and it’s more accessible, but I still prefer to use the desktop version.
Another app, called Food & Drinking which is targeted at home cooking users, includes thousands of (online) recipes and very nifty tools. One particularly interesting feature of this application is that you can actually use your hands to slide though the cooking instructions, called “Hands-free mode”.

Hands Free Mode
Hands Free Mode

There is another interesting app, called “Health and Fitness”. This app features advice and tips to keep you healthy, and has integration for apps like HealthVault (more to be added in the future, so it seems) to track your burned calories, have personal advice, and to measure your progress.

It features pictures of hot men and women too.
It features pictures of hot men and women too.

And since last week, Facebook (finally?) published their new Facebook app for 8 & 8.1. This does not really have anything to do with Windows, but it’s still worth to take a look.

You could also take a look at the new customization options for your Start screen.
You can resize the tiles to either elephant big, or to ant tiny now, change the background to match with your Desktop mode, or set whatever color you want to have.

Big icons in 8.1
Big or small? It’s your choice.
Small icons in Windows 8.1
… or just Medium and small.
Colors!
I didn’t know what color to choose, so I went for blue.

The other notable thing in Windows 8.1 is that there is a button.
A button, you ask? Well, it’s called a “Start” button.
People complained about it’s ‘absence’ or rather, ‘hiddenness’ (since it’s still there, but in the corner), so Microsoft added it back. Despite hundreds of users complaining about the return, since “it was much easier” and “it doesn’t take up space”, Microsoft didn’t add a control switch to turn it in “8-mode” button, or rather “old fasion”.

 

 

 

So the button is almost permanent by default, with no option (at least not in Windows) to remove the annoying space filling annoyance. Thus, somebody made a pretty clever application called “StartIsGone”. It’s simple. It injects itself in to the Explorer process, and disables the new code. And automatically bringing back the new (or well, new…) Start ‘button’.

 

If you want something new and something better, I’d recommend Windows 8.1.

My scanner is boxed!

A few months back, I got a scanner from my uncle. It’s an ‘old’ HP scanjet 4470c. I’m using the 64 bits version of Windows 8; and there are no drivers for my little scanner. So I came up with an idea. I used my VirtualBox Windows XP (x86) installation, and installed the drivers on there.

I shared the device with my VirtualBox, which did not work at first. It seems that VirtualBox does not completely work yet with my USB 3.0 ports. So I used my other ports, and the sharing went perfect.

Then I used the software included in the installer from HP. The results were pretty good for a 10 year old scanner:

Mentos Label Back
Click to zoom – Can you read the text?
Mentos Label
The front label.

The standard software was pretty good, simple, but outdated.

But it’s working, so that is not a problem. Also, the quality is way better than my build-in phone camera:

Scanner
Look at the dust! At least it has AF.

The VirtualBox was obviously pretty easy to set up. Installed Windows, shared a folder and the USB device, and actually, all is set-up. This method should work with 90% of all hardware that works with Windows XP, inside the VirtualBox.

Look at the pixels!
Look at the pixels!

Well, this is a new add-on for my 2 printers, one LaserJet from HP, and a Canon PIXMA printer, seen below.

Printers
But these are still supported by the software!

My current hardware is all donated by people who couldn’t get the drivers to work, didn’t need it, or simply because it was broken and they simply said: “Well, if you repair it, keep it.”.

Thanks to all who donated me this stuff, I use it all the time. But well, I’m a geek, so nothing less to expect!

Ubuntu One Music Store: Better be using a real CD retailer.

Last time, I covered a review on Ubuntu One. Ubuntu One is great for cloud storage and backups, but their newly introduced music store is not just good, it’s actually bad. The prices vary per track from 0.50$-2$, and the bitrate is the highest you can get. Tracks will be send to ‘.ubuntuone\Purchased from Ubuntu One’ in your personal folder.

The music store doesn’t have much tracks available, even great artists like U2 or Duran Duran aren’t widely available in their store. The advantages are, though, their music does not contain DRM or any other security and can be easily send to your MP3 player.25GB

At the time of writing, they have a special offer that made me try this new service and it was very hard to find music I liked. They accept major credit cards as the only payment option, so people in the EU are probably already stuck. I do have a Visa credit card, so this wasn’t a problem for me.
I bought a track for €0.79, and the +20GB storage and 6 months free unlimited music streaming for iDevices and Android were instantly activated. This concept is absolutely great, but not yet the solution for piracy: it simply doesn’t have a wide choice to choose from if you’re a real music geek.

I’m not saying this is the definitive solution for anything, because it’s simply too new. Who knows, it will be popular some day. But there are many things that require some tweaking.

 

Ubuntu1 – Useful for multiboot – Less for Windows

Ubuntu One, a cloud service by Canonical which servers you 5GB free ‘cloud’ storage. This isn’t very new, but Ubuntu One can be used on almost any OS, such as Mac OS, Linux/Ubuntu, Windows, Android and i-Devices (iPod, iPhone etc.). Very straightforward, and the server speeds are pretty high, and it’s a useful way to (automatically) sync your files.

Even though the advertising is great, the website works great, but the sync-daemon for Windows is pretty unstable. Sometimes it uploads files, sometimes it doesn’t (at the time of writing).  This was the first thing I noticed on both Windows 7 and Windows 8 Pro.

Ubuntu One works like a charm, and supports any operating system. 5GB doesn’t look much, but they have a pretty nice referral program for extra storage. Of course, the version for Android and Ubuntu work great. I didn’t tested the Mac OS X version, but I hope it doesn’t fail like the Windows version. It’s pretty nice when you realize this was once upon a time some small scale project (Ubuntu) and grew just like Apple or Microsoft. Combine it with some Wine and you will have a pretty OS with many, many options.

Ubuntu One in Windows
Ubuntu One in Windows

 

Most people think that 5GB is worthless and too low. Well that’s true if you synchronize your Documents folder. But even when you want it free, use the referral program. Or pay just $3/month. It’s worth it — let’s hope they’ll develop the Windows version to something more stable.

Well, it’s plain and simple and anyone should be able to use it. Because that’s their goal eventually: ease of use and free to anyone.

Also check out the new Thunderbird integration for Ubuntu One included in the lastest versions. It automatically uploads attachments that are above the file limit for your mail server.

Ubuntu One – Just another cloud?

Ubuntu One, or just Ubuntu1, is a cloud storage with 5GB of storage. Sounds familiar? Yes, that was my first thought too. And 5GB isn’t very much nowadays. It seems that you get 20GB extra for 3$/month, which isn’t expensive. A small quote from the homepage:

Sync & 5GB storage free

Keep your content safe, access it anywhere, and share it with friends, family and colleagues. You can also earn up to 20GB extra free cloud storage by inviting family and friends with the Ubuntu One referrals program.

After some few clicks, the supported OSs are Linux/Ubuntu, Windows, Android and iPad/iPhone. It comes with an application that has the support to automatically synchronize files, and has low memory usage. But what does it make unique across cloud services like SkyDrive and Google Drive?

This is something  that got me in this week, so stay tuned for a review!

 

 

[Windows 8] Build-in VHD boot support?

It seems that ever since Windows Vista that VHD booting is supported natively, but in Windows 8, it seems when an item named in the BCD storage starting with [VHD] (including the square brackets), the icon is different as well: inside the “window” icon, the letters VHD are inside.

 

That concludes that Microsoft wants to go more to virtual workspaces. I did not find it on Google, so I’ll just went up posting it here as a reference.