Updated LED Message Board Driver

In the past few months several people have contacted me to ask if I could update my LED USB Message Board driver so that it works on 64 bit machines, especially Windows 7. So I have finally gotten round to that.

It actually took me longer to find the source code than to fix it for 64 bit machines :-) It was one of those seemingly counter-intuitive problems. I had to tell Visual Studio to target x86 machines when compiling to make it work on 64 bit computers. This is because the USB code that I'm using is 32 bit only, so changing the compiliation to target x86 means that a 64 bit machine will know to run the code in 32-bit mode. Easy when you know how.

It might mean this driver has a limited shelf life, I'm probably not going to re-write a specific 64 bit version. So if Microsoft stop allowing 64 bit machines to run 32 bit code then the driver will stop working. But for now it works. It even means that I can use my own LED display again, since I've been running Windows 7 64 bit for ages...

My LED driver page is here.

Acer Iconia Tab W500

My last couple of posts have been made from my new Iconia Tab W500.  Too many evenings have had me sitting on the sofa hunched over a laptop, whilst my wife looks much more relaxed with her iPad.  I'd get an iPad myself - they are brilliant - but you can't program on them, so that is a deal breaker for me.  The Iconia Tab W500 tries to be a laptop and a tablet:

Acer Iconia Tab W500

When in tablet mode it is not as good as the iPad.  The touchscreen pointer does not seem as accurate and you're left feeling that Windows 7 wasn't designed with tablets in mind.  The on-screen keyboard (which is a special version for this machine, not the standard Windows 7 version) is better than on the iPad ... but the less accurate pointer means that you get the wrong key sometimes.  Battery life seems OK when compared to other laptops - I have taken notes on it all day (with careful use of the screen brightness control) and still had some power left.  When I got the machine I did a BIOS update which seemed to make the battery life much better though.

Acer Iconia Tab W500

But ... you can run Visual Studio 2010 on it - so it scores bonus points there for me.  All-in-all I'm quite happy with it, it does what I wanted it to.  Perhaps there will be better Windows based tablets to follow.

Windows 7 has arrived!

It's here!  Finally, Lenovo have sent my upgrade.  It installed without a hitch and I'm very pleased with my new OS.  They never did answer any of my recent e-mails chasing it up though.

Lenovo the third

OK, so I thought that I was finally making some progress with my "free" Windows 7 upgrade that comes with my new Lenovo PC.  It took a very long time for them to validate my purchase - they check to see that you really have bought a Lenovo PC that qualifies for the free upgrade.  I have no problem with that, but why did it take so long? In the end they validated my purchase 44 days after I registered for the upgrade.

So now they have actually taken my money, yes that’s right there is a £16 "shipping" charge.  Don’t get me started – it does not cost £16 to send out a piece of software.  Anyway, I have paid, they have taken the money off my card.  In fact, they took the money 12 days ago.  Their e-mail confirming the payment said: "A notification email with the shipping details will be sent to you when your order has been shipped".  Guess what?  Nothing.   So they have taken my £16 and not shipped anything.  So I thought that I would drop them a line via their Windows 7 Upgrade website.  So far all I have got is an automated response: "This is to acknowledge the receipt of your enquiry and you will hear from us within 10 business days".  Whoa! Two weeks to answer an e-mail?  What’s interesting is that before they took my money their responses said: "This is to acknowledge the receipt of your enquiry and you will hear from us within 1-3 business days".  Fascinating how they lose interest in you once they have taken your money, eh?

Lenovo Windows 7 Upgrade, part 2

So, it's now been 21 days and I'm still waiting for Lenovo to validate my free Windows 7 upgrade.  I have chased them up again, and this is the e-mail reply that I received today: "Dear David, Please, be patient, our team needs some more time for checking all received POPs. Once your POP is validated you will receive a confirmation e-mail. Best regards Jana".

My question is: when should a customers patience end and be regarded as bad customer service?

Lenovo Windows 7 Upgrade


I bought myself a new PC.  I’m pleased with it, a Lenovo ThinkCentre with a Quad Core processor.  It’s nice and fast and has excellent build quality, the first thing I did when I took it out the box was peek inside the case.


One of the reasons I bought from Lenovo was because they’ll give me a free upgrade to Windows 7.  I tried to avoid Vista completely, but as it turns out I will need to use it for a few weeks.  I can put up with that.  So, when my new machine arrived I filled in Lenovo’s on-line form to request my upgrade.  Part of the process is to prove that I really did buy a Lenovo PC, so I have to send off my proof of purchase (an invoice or a receipt).  I did that, which was easy because it can be done via e-mail.  All good so far.


But that is where things have stalled.  I can check my order on-line and it still says: 'Pending for Proof of Purchase'. I want to know that I will actually get my upgrade! After chasing them up via an e-mail (and it took about 5 days to get a reply) I get this: “Dear David, Please be patient our team needs some more time to check all received POPs. Once your POP is validated you will receive a Confirmation mail. Best regards Jana”.  It’s now been 11 days since I submitted my proof of purchase.  How long will I need to be patient?  Come on Lenovo.