Re-installing Windows XP on a Dell Inspiron Mini 9 (910) with a USB drive

Quick n dirty Guide to Re-installing Windows XP on a Dell Inspiron Mini 9 (910)

For fun to get blood pressure to suitable level.

  1. Go to Dell website and look-up the manual for the netbook. Note they mention re-installing operating system requires a optical drive and installation media. They forgot to add “Sucks to be you if you don’t have it”.
  2. Curse Dell for not providing restoration disc or thumb drive and wasting your time.

On a separate Windows machine

  1. Download WinToFlash (
  2. Prepare a USB thumbdrive (1GB or more) and Windows XP CD-Rom (don’t have it? Borrow a suitable version that matches your netbook’s license)
  3. Unzip WinToFlash
  4. Run WinToFlash specifying your Windows XP CD Drive and USB Drive and let it transfer. Wizard mode works.

On Netbook

  1. Plug USB drive (with XP transferred) to Netbook
  2. Boot from USB Drive on Netbook
  3. Choose Option 1, run through XP setup process in text gui. Take note which your windows is going on, 1 (dell formatted) or 2 (most probably the case)?
  4. When done copying files, boot in Option 2 in graphical gui.
  5. When XP is done with setup, you might encounter a hal.dll missing error.
    • Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: <Windows root>system32hal.dll
    • Continue to boot from USB but select the debug boot “Debug boot rDisk 1 partition 2″ in boot.ini on USB drive [multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(1)partition(2)WINDOWS=”Debug boot rDisk 1 partition 2” /fastdetect]
  6. Allow Windows to finish setup
  7. Fix c:boot.ini (hidden file) to set default boot to “multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)”
  8. Copy i386 from USB drive to c:
  9. Start patching and installing Dell drivers from Dell support site
  10. Curse Dell again for not providing restoration disc or thumb drive and wasting your time.


This is quick guide for me to read if I ever need to do this again (I hope not). Works for me, if it doesn’t work for you. Post questions to WinToFlash forums instead.

Development, Homepage Posts, Musings

Back to basics in Mobile Development

I’ve been holding off starting iPhone development for some time. The recent iPad announcement coupled with the lack of progress in the Windows Mobile world has lead me to making a decision to try out a new platform (finally). With the purchase of the MacBook Pro, it’s time to dive right in and start from basics again. I first started in Palm development (horrors of C++), moved on to .Net (C#) and now with Objective-C, it seems “C” is the common thread linking my mobile development path.

Time to dust off the great “C – How to Program” and gettting started with the first book “iPhone SDK Development“!

Development, Musings

Day 2 with Google Wave

Impressions after more partipants have gotten their invites. Wave is a huge mess once everyone tries to talk (not unlike a real life meeting). You can also hijack a person’s message if you want to so that can be rather distracting. Still not sure how it’s going to work unless we work on a project using only Wave (I wonder if Sales could be convinced to use this though).

Performance-wise, its rather bad once a huge wave or even an ongoing one with 2 people starts to load, cpu utilization goes up and it definitely feels laggy. KC mentioned that he had shown me a similar XMPP style code collaboration tool in Eclipse so real-time messaging isn’t something new.

On the plus side, I really liked SAP and Salesforce demos especially the customer support bot.  Check it out here.  Can’t wait to see what gadgets are being developed!

Some things I’ve found out to make it a better experience if you’re starting out the first time

To add a wave to the public timeline, do this

  • Add contact “” , force add it even if the submit button remains disabled.
  • Add “” as a participant in the Wave.

More waves are appearing locally and here’s an effort to organize them
Making a Singapore Google Wave List

Actual Waves (about Singapore) , you can search by doing this “with:public singapore” or whichever keyword you want to look up. You’ll need wave access for following links.

Tweety, add to your wave and once you authorize in the pop-up (lower right bottom corner of Chrome), you’ll be able to post to Twitter and read status updates within Wave itself.

Most importanly, treat this as a new experience and forget about Outlook and Notes (I try everyday to forget I’m using it). Wave is messy, its gory but what’s not to like about a mash of IRC, ICQ, Forums, Search, Widgets(or Gadgets) and Google way!

Development, Musings

Day 1 with Google Wave

Managed to get Google Wave access yesterday and have been testing out the various features. An area of interest to me is how to best reduce the UI clutter of various windows and incoming streams as I keep up to date with news and try to work at the same time.

The concept of waves to mash up all the various streams into conversation threads seems like a great idea but definitely requires more polish to succeed.  I can see myself using it if gmail was tied directly in today. The idea of “wiki” style collaboration on documents in real time could really improve how things work in most places. However the barrier would be resistance to change (happens in any product that dramatically changes how people work). Google’s idea of pushing their brand and products to schools (great work on signing up MOE) is definitely the right step to get young minds hooked and warm up to the idea of new ways to work and collaborate.

Some gadgets I’ve tried

While waiting for the invite (took 2 weeks!) I  came across some good reads and discussion on this very early dev release (thanks Google for the invite, hopefully more will be able to experience a more polished product soon).

Lastly, here’s an embedded wave just to test out the interaction

[wave id=”!w+3ZQOxMf0E”]


Useful applications to make life easier in web design and development

Just put up this list to share with others in the team so thought I might as well post it here since it could be useful to folks starting out in web development. Do feel free to add on to the list if there’s something useful for us to use.

Mind Mapping
XMind (Thanks to @David_Shen for introducing this .. much nicer than Freemind! I use this for meeting notes, to-do lists and jotting down ideas)

Color Palette
Color Palette Generator

On Screen Rulers
JR Screen Ruler

Screen Capture

Hard Core Editing (i.e. know your markup)

Firefox Addons
Web Developer Toolbar
User Agent Switcher


IE Tools
IE 6 and 7 Internet Explorer Toolbar
IE 8 has built-in developer toolbar

Adobe Dreamweaver CS4 (it really does its job well, have tried hard to replace it without much success)

Adobe Fireworks CS4 (started using Fireworks since Macromedia days and its my favorite program when a mock or design is needed)
Balsamiq (Just started using this recently to improve my pen n paper process and its working out nicely)

Great reading for design/dev ideas
Web Resources Depot
Smashing Magazine

Hope this helps you in your daily work. Happy coding!


Places I’ve worked in (and had a desk)

Walked past the old office in Chinatown yesterday and realised that over the years, I’ve had a desk in various parts of Singapore and tried to recall where they were. The list so far in chronological order

  • American Express – The Concourse, Beach Road
  • RBR Networks – KA Centre, 150 Kampong Ampat
  • JuzPC – Kallang Place and Circular Road
  • EdLabs – Chinatown (South Bridge Road)
  • Societe Generale – 80 Robinson Road
  • Asis-T Solutions – Choa Chu Kang and Ang Mo Kio
  • Cornet Technologies – Purvis Street and Chinatown (New Bridge Road)
  • VISA – Caltex (Chevron) House, 30 Raffles Place (Highlight was the Aeron chair!)
  • IConnectE – Circular Road
  • SPH – 1000 Toa Payoh North News Centre
  • iProperty – United Square, Singapore and The Boulevard, Mid Valley City, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • bellabox Singapore – 26A Temple Street
  • bellabox Australia – Level 1, 289 Flinders Lane Melbourne VIC & Unit 6, 83-87 Dover Street Cremorne VIC

Other places which I’ve had to frequent (almost felt like second office at one point!)

  • KC Dat – Lok Yang Way
  • Nippon Express – Alps Avenue and Toh Guan Road East

Offices I’ve visited and really liked the view/environment

  • NTUC and Microsoft – One Marina Boulevard (had the pleasure of being there when building was being built)
  • Google – Temasek Tower, 8 Shenton Way
  • Pivotal Labs Singapore – Tras Street



Getting Dreamweaver CS4 to code highlight .phtml files

I’m currently working on a Magento project which requires some custom template work and with Dreamweaver, it doesn’t color code the syntax for .phtml files even though they are just php files in disguise. A simple solution would have been to allow different extensions to be specified in the preferences but of course, hiding it away in a obscure config file is more fun.

The file to look for : (check your installation path)

C:Program FilesAdobeAdobe Dreamweaver CS4configurationDocumentTypesMMDocumentTypes.xml

Search for this code snippet :

<documenttype id=”PHP_MySQL” servermodel=”PHP MySQL” internaltype=”Dynamic” winfileextension=”php,php3,php4,php5″ macfileextension=”php,php3,php4,php5″ file=”Default.php” writebyteordermark=”false”>

and change it to :

<documenttype id=”PHP_MySQL” servermodel=”PHP MySQL” internaltype=”Dynamic” winfileextension=”php,php3,php4,php5,phtml” macfileextension=”php,php3,php4,php5,phtml” file=”Default.php” writebyteordermark=”false”>

Restart Dreamweaver and say goodbye to the wall of black text! This will also work for any other syntax that needs to be highlighted and isn’t represented by the usual file extension, you’ll just need to find the correct documenttype id.