Dell Control Point Overview

For whatever reason, I get asked about Dell ControlPoint (DCP) quite a bit by people looking at newer Dell notebooks like the Latitude E5400 and E6400, the former of which I did a review of a little over a month ago. I didn’t elaborate on the feature set it provides and what it really does. Here I’ll be doing a much more in-depth review of the software and the functionality it provides. So without further ado, DCP.

Bits, Bytes and Prefixes once and for All!

Working with bits and bytes and everything in between can be confusing if you aren’t familiar with how it all works. If you wanted to know why your hard drive is actually a lot smaller than what is written on the box and that’s considered fair game, read on. If you just want a go-to guide to send to your friends, then this guide is also for you. Hopefully this can clear up all the incorrect usage of terms on the internet once and for all! And yeah, I know I’m dreaming…

Binary Matrix Style

Bits

Definition: 1 bit is the smallest divisible amount of digital data. One bit will be either represented by a 0 or 1 in binary: on or off.

Abbreviation: b

Bytes

Definition: 8 bits of data form one byte. Bytes are the most commonly referred to unit in digital storage.

Abbreviation: B

SI Prefixes

Definition: The SI (from the French Standard International) units are prefixes which multiply the value of bits or bytes. It is a base 10 system.

Abbreviations:

PrefixSymbol10n
 English Name
Number
 Kilo k103 Thousand1,000
 Mega M106 Million1,000,000
 Giga G109 Billion1,000,000,000
 Tera T1012 Trillion1,000,000,000,000
 Peta P1015 Quadrillion1,000,000,000,000,000
 Exa E1018 Quintillion1,000,000,000,000,000,000

Base 2 Prefixes

Definition: These prefixes are used almost exclusively in computer science to account for the fact that computers inherently work on a base 2 system rather than a base 10 system.

Abbreviations:

 PrefixSymbol
 2n
 Number
 Kibi Ki 210  1024
 Mebi Mi 220 1,048,576
 Gibi Gi 230 1,073,741,824
 Tebi Ti 240 1,099,511,627,776
 Pebi Pi 250 1,125,899,906,842,624
 Exbi Exi 260 1,152,921,504,606,846,976

Working with Units

It is relatively simple to combine the prefixes with bits or bytes if you remember the scales. Let’s consider a few examples:

1KB = 1 kilobyte
1Kb = 1 kilobit
1Mb = 1 megabit
1KiB = 1 Kibibyte
1Tib = 1 Tebibit

When working with the commonly used SI prefixes, each “step up” is 1000 times larger than the previous one:

1000B = 1KB
1000KB = 1MB
1000MB = 1GB…

It is common to use bits when referring to networking applications, while most other uses will normally be presented in bytes. For example:

Network adapters are commonly 100 Mb/s (100 megabits per second)
Hard drive capacities now reach up to 2 TB (2 terabytes)

Converting from bits to bytes is equally simple; all you need to know is how to divide by 8:

Uncapped, ADSL can reach up to 8 Mb/s (8 megabits per second)
This is equivalent to 1 MB/s (1 megabyte per second as there are 8 bits per byte)

Another case where proper usage of terms can be confusing is with HDD capacities; the reason that your 1 terabyte hard drive does not format to a full 1000 gigabytes is because they are rated using the SI base 10 system, while computers actually work on a base 2 system. For example, see the conversion done in Wolfram|Alpha.

Download PDF

This article is available in PDF format if you want to save it to your computer for future reference. You can download that by clicking right here.

OCZ Vertex 60GB Review + RAID0

Solid state disks have been a topic of great debate among hardware enthusiasts for well over two years now. The thought of having a non-volatile storage medium which can read any piece of data with near-zero access latency would have seemed like nothing more than a pipe-dream not too long ago, but now it is a reality.

OCZ Vertex
OCZ Vertex SSD

Unfortunately JMicron controllers paired with Multi-Level Cell (MLC) disks burst everybody’s bubble: they were slow writing, caused freezing and lock-ups for many users and though technically fast, ended up leading to a very poor user experience. A new company is out to solve all that though: Indilinx. They have endeavored to design and manufacture a drive controller made specifically for solid state disks that would solve all our woes. But did they succeed?

Continue reading OCZ Vertex 60GB Review + RAID0

Optimizing Windows for Solid State Disks

If you are running a Solid State Disk (SSD) today, there are a few important configuration changes to make to your Windows installation if you want to get the most out of it. For a primer on why Windows needs to be optimized for SSDs, you’ll find that around the end. Now read one to learn exactly how to take full advantage of your SSD!

OCZ Vertex

Use Vista or Windows 7

Make sure that you are using Windows Vista or Windows 7 when it is launched. Windows XP handles SSDs very poorly: it has difficulty managing I/O priorities efficiently and does not set proper offset when you partition an SSD. There are ways of doing this, but it must be done manually. Search the net for “partition offset xp ssd” without the quotes and you’ll find some guides. I won’t cover it, but if you are on new hardware, just use Vista or later; it will save you a lot of headaches. If you find it strange I threw Windows 7 in there, it’s because Windows 7 will best Vista in SSD support by supporting technologies like trim, among other optimizations.

Disable Disk Defragmentation

Defragmentation in a nutshell takes all the data on a drive and puts it close together at the outer-edge of a hard drive where it’s fastest. Since solid state disks don’t work at all in this way and exhibit flat performance over the entire storage medium, it is detrimental to defragment disks since you are making the drive go through read/write cycles for absolutely no benefit.

First, open up Disk Defragmenter

Start Disk Defragmenter
Continue reading Optimizing Windows for Solid State Disks

Windows 7 RC1 Features Hands On

Today I took a look at the Windows 7 RC1 release that Microsoft released. This is build 7100 64 bit edition and it works great. The hardware of the system I installed it on is as follows:

  • Intel P35 motherboard w/ICH9r southbridge
  • Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 (2.4GHz, 8M cache)
  • ATI Radeon HD3870 Primary graphics card
  • 8GB DDR2 800MHz
  • 80GB 5400 RPM 2.5″ laptop HDD

The quick rundown of things I noticed were as follows:

  1. Drivers and codecs were all installed on their own, I didn’t have to do anything
  2. The total installation size for Ultimate excluding paging file and hibernation file is just over 8GB
  3. The system boots quicker and feels snappier
  4. The taskbar was changed a lot; while many like it, I don’t
  5. A few cool features were added
  6. The interface was cleaned up, paint, calc and wordpad are all new with the ribbon interface
  7. A few old features were enabled by default to improve user experience
  8. The hard drive finally doesn’t scratch away like it does under Vista

For the full hands-on preview, check out my videos exploring all the features mentioned and more:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Windows Tip: Deleting Files that Won’t Delete

Have you ever been frustrated to find that you’ve got files that just won’t delete? You don’t have permission to delete your own file? What’s wrong with Microsoft! I said I wanted to delete it, so go ahead and do it!?!?

mt_gallery:testgal

Yeah, that’s a pretty common problem to run into with Windows and can be really frustrating if the file is somewhere like on your desktop; nobody wants useless files to be permanently plastered in front of their face forever. Thankfully though, there is a very easy solution to this common problem. Now sometimes the file really is open somewhere and files that are in use can’t be deleted. If this is the case, then just close the program that’s using the file or reboot your system then the file should be freed for deletion once more.

But those hard to delete files that aren’t open are even more frustrating. Thankfully there is actually an even easier solution to deleting those than just rebooting! The problem is caused by file permissions: the user you are logged on as (presumably yourself) does not have full control over the file and so does not have permissions to delete it. Now the mess continues because often times you don’t have ownership of those files either… Yeah, it’s complicated. The solution, thankfully is not.

Rather than making you go through hoards of complex context menus (right click menus), I have a great little registry entry that can save you time on many occasions. It does all that for you, and it even adds a button on the context menu to allow you to do all this automatically with any file or folder you want whenever you want. Don’t say I don’t take good care of you guys!

Download: Take Ownership

How to use:

  1. Download file to your computer
  2. Unzip the file take_ownership.reg
  3. Right-click on it and select Merge
  4. Say Yes to the UAC prompt
  5. Click on Yes when asked if you want to add it to the registry
  6. Right-click on whatever file or folder you want to take ownership of
  7. Click on Take Ownership
  8. A command prompt will pop up and do stuff and close when done
  9. You now have full access rights over the file or folder in question

Please be aware that you shouldn’t use this to delete files if you don’t know what they are for. Often times files are protected by Windows from accidental or malicious deletion. You can always use this tip to do other things to files like modify them or compress them if you don’t have permissions to. There really are very few limitations to what you can take ownership of. I’ve used this on Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 RC1 all with the same great results. It might work on older versions of Windows, but I wouldn’t bet my life on it.

For those who are really curious, here is the code added to the registry that makes this all work:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT*shellrunas]
@=”Take Ownership”
“NoWorkingDirectory”=””

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT*shellrunascommand]
@=”cmd.exe /c takeown /f “%1” && icacls “%1″ /grant administrators:F”
“IsolatedCommand”=”cmd.exe /c takeown /f “%1” && icacls “%1″ /grant administrators:F”

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOTDirectoryshellrunas]
@=”Take Ownership”
“NoWorkingDirectory”=””

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOTDirectoryshellrunascommand]
@=”cmd.exe /c takeown /f “%1” /r /d y && icacls “%1″ /grant administrators:F /t”
“IsolatedCommand”=”cmd.exe /c takeown /f “%1” /r /d y && icacls “%1″ /grant administrators:F /t”