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I’ve been very unlucky with the development machine that I built in 2006 to test ClipMate on Vista.  It ran fine until last September, then I had a motherboard failure which turned out to be caused by a (suspected) faulty power supply (it killed another motherboard too!)

So I went to CompUSA, looking for another board/CPU combo. Since the old board was Pentium-D, I wanted something more efficient (and quieter/cooler), so I picked up a brand-name MoBo, an AMD X2 CPU, and some nice Corsair DDR2 RAM. I made the mistake of not looking for the Vista certification on the MoBo. More on that later…

I had expected to swap components, and hopefully let Vista find the new drivers when it booted. After all, we’ve had the “hardware abstraction layer” (HAL) since NT 3.5, right?  So I threw my faith in HAL, Plug-n-Play, Plug-n-PRAY, etc.. Sure enough, immediate blue-screen, followed by endless reboot/BSOD/reboot cycle.

If you’ve found this in google, you know what that’s all about. I’ll make the long story short – I was unsuccessful in booting from my Vista HD. Vista was unsuccessful in “repairing” the old installation. I ended up re-installing Vista (twice, because MSFT sends me “upgrade” disks because I’m in the “Action Pack” program). Grrrrr. I needed a better way.  Next time, I vowed to do better.

Well, that MoBo turned out to be a sweet Linux or XP board, but it wasn’t Vista certified, and I was experiencing daily lockups. No BSOD, just a freeze, requiring a power-off. I tried BIOS updates, new drivers, etc.. No good. My retailer (CompUSA) is going out of business (should have used NewEgg!!) and wasn’t interested in getting it back. I wasn’t interested in spending hours on hold with the MFG to RMA it and get an identical (non-working-on-Vista) board. So for $79, I found a nice Gigabyte board on NewEgg.

This time, I found a write-up that talked about removing drivers on the old board, prior to shutting down. This makes the board “driver agnostic”.  Long story short, it didn’t work. I think my PnP loaded the old drivers anyway, before I could shut down the machine.

The Lifeboat 

Looking for another solution, I found a comment on Lockergnome that talked about a “lifeboat” disk adaptor card.  Hmmmm…   Basically, you install a cheap IDE/SATA card into the machine before the MoBo swap. Let Vista (should work on XP too) load the drivers. At this point, Vista has drivers to run that card, no matter what chipset the MoBo has.  Then swap the MoBo, and plug your HD (Temporarily) into the new card. Load Windows, let PnP detect the new hardware, load drivers, etc.. Now you can reboot and switch back to the MoBo IDE/SATA ports, and remove the “lifeboat” card.  It sounded great, so I thought I’d give it a try!

I purchased a cheap IDE/SATA card (PCI interface) from NewEgg. For $20, I got this:

HDC ROSEWILL|RC-212 4XSATA+1XIDE R

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816132009

It’s got both IDE and SATA ports, and runs on Vista. Great. 

Next, I installed it into my PC, running the old Motherboard.  Vista asked for drivers, I gave it the CD that came with the board.

Then I shut down and swapped the motherboard, and transplanted the Rosewill board from the old motherboard onto the new one.  This time, I connected the SATA drive to the Rosewill card. I probably should have connected the IDE cable for the DVD drive, as that would have saved a reboot later on.  But I left it disconnected.

Now I powered on and Vista loaded!  No BSOD. It came up with generic drivers, and did its PnP thing and loaded drivers that worked with the Motherboard. Here is where it may have been good to have the DVD plugged into the Rosewill card, to get a better set of drivers from the Gigabyte CD. No harm though, the Windows drivers worked.

Now I shut down, removed the rosewill card, and connected the IDE and SATA to the MoBo. Upon power-up, Vista loaded again, and I was able to update drivers from the Gigabyte CD.

Conclusion 

It worked great!  The Rosewill card now sits on the shelf, for future emergencies.  I will use it to “innoculate” all other (non-laptop) PCs in the house, so that I can upgrade failed motherboards in the future. In case of failure, they’ll already have the Rosewill drivers, and can be simply upgraded with new motherboards/CPU.  You don’t always get to do any “prep”, especially when the hardware just dies. So I’m going to prepare all of my systems so that they’re ready, in case they need a swap.

A condominium allows you to wade into homeownership without plunging into the responsibilities of a single-family home.

You pay dues to a condo association, which typically handles exterior building maintenance and landscaping. So you may find you don’t have to worry about painting your window frames or mowing a lawn.

You may also find trouble — if you don’t ask the right questions. When wanting to buy a condo, start off by checking out burnaby condos for sale and maybe go to some of the open houses available.

Here are six things you’ll want to know before you buy a condo.

1. How is the condo association being run?

Buyers need to think of purchasing a condo as signing a business agreement with all others who own in the project they are buying into, says New York attorney Rafael Castellanos.

As with any other business venture, learn how the place is managed and inquire about its financial stability.

“You really have to be very careful,” Castellanos says. “Don’t be emotional about it.”

2. How does the budget look?

“Most condo buyers don’t think of it, but you need to ask for a copy of the association’s budget,” Berger says.

The association is not likely to give a prospective buyer a copy of the budget, but the seller — as an owner — can request a copy and provide it to the buyer.

The most important parts of that budget include the total amount of outstanding debt owed to the association and the percentage of owners who are not paying their dues.

3. What’s the delinquency rate?

Buyers have little chances of getting financing in a building with a high percentage of owners who are delinquent on dues.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration, which buy or insure most mortgages, do not approve condos with delinquency rates above 15 percent.

In buildings that don’t meet that requirement, it can be extremely challenging to get a mortgage or refinance, says Orest Tomaselli, CEO of National Condo Advisors in White Plains, New York. That firm helps condominium projects obtain FHA and Fannie approval.

For buyers who can pay cash and don’t plan on selling their unit anytime soon, the delinquency rate may not seem like a big deal. But keep in mind that when an association is starved of cash, it has to make cutbacks.

“Depending on how long the high delinquency has been in place, that beautiful pool may not stay beautiful for very long,” Berger says.

Some associations also may charge unit owners special assessment fees to make up for a budget shortfall that results when dues aren’t paid.

4. How are the cash reserves?

The lower the cash reserves a condo association has and the older the building, the higher the chances that owners in that building will be hit with a special assessment at some point.

Fannie, Freddie and FHA require condominiums to put aside 10 percent of their annual revenue for emergencies and capital expenditures.

“Eighty (percent) to 90 percent of them do not have appropriate reserves in their budget,” Tomaselli says, based on projects he has worked with, including existing and new buildings.

5. Are there a lot of absentee owners?

The percentage of investors who own units in a project may also impact a buyer’s ability to get a mortgage or sell the unit soon.

Lauren Stark, who specializes in condos as a real estate agent with The Stark Team in Las Vegas, says about 95 percent of her deals are cash. “There’s virtually no financing (for condos),” she says.

Stark says Las Vegas condo buildings are heavily owned by investors, as has been the case in other hot markets, such as Miami and New York. The FHA does not approve condo projects in which more than 49 percent of the units are owned by investors.

Generally, units in buildings with financing issues lose value because they have to sell mostly for cash, at discounted prices.

6. Is the building insured?

Another important factor that condo buyers often overlook is the community’s insurance coverage.

Many condo associations have reduced or dropped the community’s insurance coverage to cut costs, Berger says. That jeopardizes the investment of all the owners in those projects.

“New purchasers should ask the seller to obtain a copy of the building’s master (insurance) policy,” she says. “Then take it to your own insurance agent and ask, ‘Is this enough coverage?’”

Insufficient insurance coverage can hurt a buyer’s prospects for financing, Tomaselli says.

“Nowadays, lenders view the condo development itself as collateral, not just your unit,” he says.

If you visit a website and are asked if you’d like to allow the site to read your clipboard, you probably want to say NO.  Unless you’re expecting the web page to be reading your clipboard, you should not allow it.  It could be something sneaky, possibly gathering passwords or credit card information.

This blog post describes the security setting in IE7 that warns you, and tells how you can turn it off (I don’t recommend turning it off….)
http://www.mydigitallife.info/2006/09/25/disable-allow-this-webpage-to-access-your-clipboard-pop-up-warning-message-in-ie7/

Technically, it’s pretty simple. A single line of javascript on the page can read your clipboard (unless IE is set to block it).

This article describes how the javascript trick is done:
http://www.arstdesign.com/articles/clipboardexploit.html

This blog post also describes how it’s done, and has a sample link, if you’d like to see this in action, or just to test if you’re protected or not:
http://harriyott.com/2005/01/javascript-clipboard-control.aspx

As for ClipMate (our product), the vulnerability doesn’t go any further than what’s on the clipboard (the currently selected clip). Such scripts have no capability to dig into ClipMate’s database or force it to give up other clips.

Update: (Dec 7, 2007) Now it looks like an e-mail trojan is exploiting this. I suspect that it can only work if you used web-based e-mail such as squirrelmail, yahoo, gmail, etc.. If you are opening your (web-based) e-mail and your browser asks permission to use the clipboard,  DON’T!  Here’s a link to the discussion about that:
http://www.windowsbbs.com/showthread.php?t=69461

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