Monthly Archives: May 2011

Reinstalling Boot Camp Partition – Going from Vista to Windows 7 on an iMac

The time had finally come for me to switch my BootCamp partition on my iMac to Windows 7. The Windows Vista was just too unreliable and I heard a lot of good things about Windows 7. But of course you know that once you open things up, things can go wrong and it always takes longer than you expect.

First of course, back up the user data from Windows Vista and get TimeMachine up-to-date in case it all fails. Live and Learn Moment: I should also have rebooted off my Snow Leopard drive, run disk utility and repair/verify my iMac boot partition before starting.

My first instinct wanted to simply insert the Windows 7 disk and reboot and install a fresh install on the existing partition – some day when I am bored, I might try that and see what goes wrong – but this time I figured I would delete and recreate the partition through Boot Camp Assistant on the MacOS side. That seemed like the most upright thing to do.

So first I deleted the Windows Partition in Boot Camp Assistant, worked perfectly. That was the easy part.

Then I wanted to re-create the Windows Partition in Boot Camp Assistant. My first problem is that I followed directions and selected:

Download Windows support software for this Mac

This just does not work (per lots of forum posts) so I properly indicated that I had all of the drivers.

When I got to the part where it was going to re-create the Windows partition, using Boot Camp Assistant and after it took a long time with no explanation of what it was doing I got the following dreaded message:

Bootcamp Partition Error: “Files cannot be moved”

Urg, I just had a partition there – and so there was plenty of free space. At this point, I wish I tried booting my OSX drive and running verify/repair and see if that fixes the problem. I think it might have fixed the problem.

I did some goggling and came up with this discussion forum:

This led me to the iDefrag software. It turns out I had purchased iDefrag 1.x back in 2007 and throught it was a pretty cool product – I like nice clean disk space with files that have all their data in one place so I like defraggers. I even had a boot disk that I had saved from long ago in 2007. So I popped the iDefrag disk and booted – it worked, but not all of the options seemed functional.

So I messed around for a while and decided to by the latest iDefrag2. It nicely does not need to make a boot disk. So I rebooted into defrag mode and did a full defray. The drive heated up and so I aimed a fan at the back of my iMac to keep it cool. I did have to adjust the minimum temperature to restart the process to 52 degrees so the drive ranges between 52 and 55 degrees – but with the fan going, I don’t think it stopped for heat after I put the fan behind my iMac.

After defrag completed, I reboot and tried to create the Windows partition using Boot Camp Assistant and again after a long period of time, I got the

Bootcamp Partition Error: “Files cannot be moved”

I was distracted by a little red herring of a band of “red fragmented” files that were left at the end of the drive and I guessed that they might be the problem. So back to defrag and when I redefragged again the files were still there. Then I looked at the files using the iDefrag UI and they were:


Then I went into iDefrag in normal Mac OS mode, and the file was not there. Nice. It automatically gets cleaned up when it boots back into Mac OS/X. So that was *not* the problem – I had about 150GB free and empty and perfectly defrayed at the end of my 200GB drive and yet:

Bootcamp Partition Error: “Files cannot be moved”

Aargh. More googling. After I look for a few pages beyond the first few pages, I start to see mentions of “Repair Disk” and “fsck -fy” – then it dawned on me – that long pause when it was partitioning might have been a disk check.

So out comes the Mac OSX disk and boot into Disk Utility. Verify Disk indicates that I *do* have errors on the drive – so I run Repair Disk and fix the errors. Running Verify disk indeed indicates it is now clean.

Rebooting back into Mac OSX and running Boot Camp Assistant – I finally can make a nice 40GB partition and I insert my Windows Vista disk and am feeling pretty happy (having a defrayed boot volume just makes me feel happy in general).

But then as Windows 7 install completes and I am entering my activation key, it keeps claiming my activation key is wrong. DRAT! More Googling. Turns out you can leave the key field blank, finish install, and then activate online. Whew! I blank out the key and installation finishes.

I immediately try to activate Windows 7 using the Windows Activation Tool and after I enter my key and I wait a long time it tells me that my key is upgrade only. I look at the packaging that I got from the UM Computer Showcase where I bought the software and nowhere on the packaging is there any mention of “upgrade”. Ah well.

At this point, I am wondering if I just can buy another key. I did not want to reinstall Vista and then install Windows 7 over top of it and apparently they will not let you present the CD of the older product or the key from the older product. I want a fresh clean install – not with crufty bits hanging around from years earlier. And yes, I had a valid Vista Key.

So I am googling how to upgrade an upgrade key to a real key or perhaps beg Microsoft Support to give me a mulligan on this install.. And then I find this page about how to upgrade without installing Vista:

Oh yeah – you can upgrade over top of an Windows 7 installation (thanks for the loophole Microsoft! – I did not abuse it I just used it) – so I eject the CD and re-insert it and go through the upgrade process for Windows 7 (atop WIndows 7). During the “upgrade install”, it interestingly did a lot of copying of “files, settings, etc” so I was concerned that it was making cruft one way or another.

Abstract: Empowering Teachers With More Pluggable Educational Technology

Tomorrow I will be presenting a talk at the “Teachers Teaching Teachers about Technology” virtual conference.


Teachers are often greatly limited in the educational technology they can use in their classes because it becomes increasingly complex to use on the web software from many different vendors. Students must get a separate account for each new system, teachers need to jump between systems to assess and grade student work and transfer grades between the different systems.

Thorough the IMS Global Learning Consortium (, the marketplace is developing standards that will allow course rosters and roles to be moved from one system to another and for graded to be moved between systems without rewiring hand-copying of data between systems. The new standard is called ‘IMS Learning Tools Interoperability’. For example if your school uses Moodle and you would like to use for Chemistry homework, you can simply ‘plug’ ChemVantage into Moodle and the rest is handled automatically.

This presentation will introduce IMS Learning Tools Interoperability at a very high level and show some demonstrations of it working with Sakai, Moodle, and Blackboard.

Speaker: Dr. Charles Severance
University of Michigan School of Information
twitter: @drchuck

Why is Intro CS Dull and Intro Chem Fun?

Mark Guzial of Georgia Tech has an (yet another) excellent post exploring teaching and CS:

Read Mark’s Post (Excerpted below)

A couple of weeks ago, Barb and I were awarded Georgia Tech’s Service Award for our work with Georgia Computes!. At the same awards ceremony, across the table, was David Collard of Chemistry who was getting the Professional education award. He’s been part of an effort (described below) called cCWCS which teaches chemistry faculty how to teach better — and the program has taught over a thousand faculty!

A thousand faculty?!? I’ve blogged about how hard it is to get CS faculty to come to our workshops, either Media Computation or Georgia Computes. I’ve talked to other folks who offer workshops to CS faculty, and they say that they have to invite high school teachers, too, or they won’t have enough people to run the workshop. Why do so many Chemistry professors show up, when we struggle to get CS professors to show up at teaching workshops?

My Response:

I think that the reason is that in Chemistry they accept the fact that students in college are typically forced to take intro Chemistry classes and they have accepted the fact that if they try to entertain the students a bit, they will impart more knowledge than if they spend all their time in dry formulae. So the field as a whole accepts the fact that some attempt at making the course pleasant is worthwhile. In CS, that first class is seen as starting to build the mental toughness that is needed to succeed in a four-year degree – so in CS, the norm is that the class is not supposed to be fun or enjoyable – but instead the class is about tail recursion to compute factorials, abstraction, counting parenthesis and other uninteresting things.

CS needs to start thinking about how they might teach that first computing course to *non-CS-majors* and how they might make such a class interesting and engaging and worthwhile to those students rather than it being a ‘boot camp’ to see who is tough enough to make it in a CS BS.

I am not against tough and challenging classes in CS – all fields have these and to master a field, you need to be challenged. Just not in the non-majors class.

All I am saying is that CS needs to start a movement to build courses that appeal broadly and then start a movement where we talk about how to best teach those computing courses. It is not about secretly recruiting them for CS – it is about serving the life-long education needs of non-CS majors.

Interestingly, 20 years ago, nearly all universities *required* some kind of computing class of all students and handed that class to CS departments to teach. Over time, CS chose to treat that required intro class as either (a) a recruiting tool for CS majors or (b) a ‘how to use a spreadsheet’ class.

The problem is that all the other departments were not too excited about forcing their students to take an (a) and high schools started teaching (b) – so there is no need for a broadly-required CS course so it no longer part of the core required courses at most universities.

Chemistry on the other hand treasures its ‘natural science is required’ position in the liberal arts curriculum and works hard to deserve to be in the broader general undergraduate curriculum. It also must often compete amongst the rest of the ‘natural science’ alternatives. And so they work hard to make sure their teachers are good across the country because they know if they mess up teaching the intro chem course, they will be dropped from the curriculum.

You can make chemistry fun and learn at the same time. You can make computing fun and learn at the same time. Describing data structures using many levels of nested parenthesis is not fun even if you set it on fire to get the students interested and tail recursion is not fun even if you shoot it across a room with a pneumatic gun.

Making cool web pages with Ajax and Javascript and retrieving RSS feeds and reformatting them with CSS *is* fun. And it is computing. But it is not so much preparation for a CS major.

CS is a long way from chemistry because we lost that cherished required course across all undergraduate programs. It is not likely we will regain that requirement with the current CS offerings. So perhaps the right approach is to build a good course and see if we can make it interesting and useful enough to non-majors that they *choose* to take the course. That would be a start.

Book Excerpt: Visting China (January 2007)

This is a description of my trip to China in January 2007 from my book titled, “Sakai: Free as in Freedom”.

It would be my first trip to China and I would be accompanied by Zhen Qian from the University of Michgan. Zhen was a senior Sakai developer at the University of Michigan responsible for the Site Setup and Assignment tools. We figured that we needed a native Chinese speaker on the trip to make sure that the meetings were very productive.

Zhen had been involved in Sakai from the beginning and was an expert in Sakai from a programmer perspective as well as the open source governance perspective. Zhen made all of the travel arrangements and set up all of the meetings. I knew that I was mostly coming along as the symbolic ‘chief’ while Zhen would do most of the talking and answer most of the questions.

Here was our schedule

1/15: Beijing Normal University
1/16: Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunication
1/17: Beijing University
1/18: China Open Resources for Education(CORE)
1/18: afternoon flight from Beijing to Wuhan
1/19: Huazhong Normal University
1/21: Flight from Wuhan to Shanghai
1/22: Shanghia Jiaotong University
1/23: Huadong Normal University

This trip was going to be a lot of fun for me as my job was pretty simple with Zhen as my guide.

The pattern for most of the meetings consisted of me giving a talk in English and answering a few questions and then we would go into a room with the leadership from each university and have in-depth discussions where Zhen would do all of the talking in Chinese. I was completely comfortable because I knew that Zhen and I were on the same page.

I was struck by the fact that the notion of open source was somewhat foreign to most of the people we spoke with. China was clearly inerested in opportunities to make money and we were pressured to sign some kind of ‘exclusive’ arrangement for distribution of Sakai in China. I kept reiterating that in an open source project, the notion of ‘exclusive distributor’ made no sense. It was cool to see the level of entrepreneurial activity at each of the universities we visited.

Outside the meetings, Zhen and I had a lot of fun. Because she was a native Chinese speaker, and very familiar with the cities we were visiting, we would often go off on some kind of adventure well off the beaten path.

One evening after we finished our discussions at the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunication (BUPT), Zhen decided she wanted a haircut. She claimed that the only people who could cut her hair properly were barbers in China. So we stopped into a hair salon so she could get a haircut. Zhen decided that I should get a head massage so I would not be bored while she got her hair cut. The woman who gave me the head massage had extremely strong fingers. While I was getting my head massaged, I could watch Zhen getting her hair cut and talking to her stylist. After a while I got the sense she was telling the entire story of our trip, who I was and what we were doing in China.

After a while her stylist started talking about me and pointing at me and it appeared that Zhen and the stylist were making some sort of plans. Of course, not knowing any Chinese, I had no idea what the detail of the plans might be. After Zhen’s hair cut and my head massage were finished, Zhen came over and told me that the stylist had suggested that she get a facial. Zhen said that I could wait or I could get a facial as well.

So we both went into the back room and were treated to an hour of face massage, some kind of skin peel, cleaning, steming, hot towels, the whole nine yards. It was great and it felt great. Zhen and I were in the back of the salon and we were talking on and on about Sakai, the trip and lots of other topics.

Afterwards, my skin felt great. I can see why people like facials and spa treatments the make you feel great. Perhaps I will get another facial sometime when no one is watching.

In another of our adventures, I wanted to buy a fake Mont Blanc pen. As you walk around in tourist areas, you are continuously approached by people selling you knock-offs of brand name items. But with Zhen as my guide, we actually went through a bunch of alleys to the little stores where they had a much wider selection of counterfeit items. I limited my purchase to a few fake Mont Blanc pens that actually broke even before we got back to the United States. It was fun to have a local guide.

Our trip was planned across three cities so I got to see a number of different views of China. And Zhen always had built in a litte spare time so we could explore each city.

Beijing is the traditional city with beautiful classic architecture. We visited Tiananmen Square, and toured the Forbidden City and Imperial Palace.

Our second stop was the City of Wuhan. Wuhan is a large and modern city and very crowded. It was an study in contrasts. Most of the automobiles were old and produced a lot of exhaust fumes which left a haze over most of the streets. But the stores were very nice with an amazing array of products and food items.

Our last city of our visit was Shanghai. Shanghai is an amazingly modern and impressive city. One day, we took a trip on the Shanghai Maglev Train. The Maglev train has a top speed of 258 miles per hour and travels between downtown Shanghai and the airport. Since we wanted to take a ride, we just booked a round trip ticket where we would get off at the airport and get back on for the ride back downtown. The train was very fast and since it was ‘floating’ on the magnetic fields, it moved from side to side with bouncing off the vertical magnetic fields that kept the train in the middle of the tracks.

Overall you got the feeling that you were not really connected to anything but you were flying along at almost 300 miles per hour. It felt like a very fast, flat roller coaster. It was very fun and exciting but it was not particularly relaxing because it was a little scary.